Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Is it hot out there or is it just me?

I was watching the news earlier and the weather map made it look like much of the world was on fire (or close too it).  Even at home where the coastal breezes usually keep things temperate, it has been shorts, bare-feet, and lemonade weather, since “naked” is generally not considered socially acceptable.

Go figure.

According to Ye Olde WeatherCaster, “fronts” are moving in, temperatures are heading down, and we should all be feeling less sticky soon.  I hope so, since some of the other stories on the news were of folks who were in the midst of power-outages, just to make the high heat more enjoyable.

I’m not a big fan of hot weather, since my internal thermostat runs hot all on it’s own.  As a kid, hot days like this would mean lots of time spent in the community pool, wearing sunscreen *and* a t-shirt of my dad’s, in order to reduce the chances of burning to a crisp.  Now hot days mean running the air conditioner in the car on the way to work and slipping off my shoes in the office when no one can see.  I’m pretty sure the pool was more fun.  Plus, there were generally ice-cream sandwiches or Popsicles involved.

Today’s iced-coffee is refreshing, but it’s no ice-cream sandwich.

To take my mind off the heat and my lack of ice-cream I think I’ll give today’s story prompt and random words a try once I get home.

Care to join me?

For those of you working away on a story (whether a first draft or a polished version on its way to publication), if you’re not feeling random, we’d love to hear a bit – whether it’s a scene, a paragraph, or even a phrase that you are especially pleased with and would like to share.

If you don’t have a story in progress, or just want to work on something new, I hope today’s story prompt and/or random words will catch your creative fancy.


What if: “Your character is in the midst of a heatwave?”

Feel free to interpret the “What if” any way you choose and include any (or all) of the following random words:

sweltering      hotel              indecent             afterlife

official            collarbone     dexterity            breakable

magnet           volcano         flamethrower     collapsing

global             ladybug         ashes                   countryside

I look forward to seeing your stories in the comments.  If you’re not feeling in the writing mood today, or don’t have time, feel free to post suggestions you might have for future “what-if” prompts.  Ideas are always welcome.

Happy writing to all!

13 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

  1. Quickly back home from a trip to visit friends and will be off again next week. As my second novella in the shoe shop series takes place during a London heatwave where fans play a big part! I thought I’d share this snippet.Yes, we have a heatwave here in Scotland too! Hot, sticky and thundery.

    “The door to the sanctum burst open and Kezia jumped to her feet. Ella turned to see who was there. A distraught Wilma Harcourt entered the room, strands of the dark, dyed shoulder-length well lacquered hair, dislodged. Behind her stood Imogen.

    ‘I’m sorry Kezia, I did say you had someone with you,’ the receptionist explained, her pale grey eyes now resting on Ella. ‘Someone’, Ella noted, not a client.

    Wilma Harcourt sank into the black and white regency striped sofa, where Ella had first tried on the template shoes. The woman’s bosoms, accentuated by the crossover wrap style of her summer dress, covered by a pattern of entwining bright pink roses on a trellis, heaved up and down as she tried to catch her breath. The day, which had started out warm when Jake had fetched Ella from her apartment, was now becoming quite hot. The sight of Wilma, wiping beads of sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand, suddenly brought this to everyone’s attention. Imogen brushed the floppy wedge-shaped bob off her face, while Kezia opened the french windows to allow in some air from the courtyard, ablaze still with the bright reds, pinks and oranges of the various pot plants. She reached for one of the folded newspapers on her desk, a photograph of Ella and Martin uppermost, and used it to fan herself.
    Waving Imogen away, the shoe designer crossed the pink carpet, and sat down next to Wilma on the sofa. Huffily, Imogen closed the door to the sanctum.

    ‘Whatever is the matter, Mrs. Harcourt?’ Kezia asked, the makeshift fan still in one hand while she patted her client on the shoulder with the other. ‘You don’t look yourself at all.’
    Wilma mopped her brow with a white cotton handkerchief which had been tucked inside a wide black patent leather belt, again drawn in too tightly around the waist.

    ‘It’s Kenneth, my husband. He’s disappeared!’

    Kezia recoiled.

    ‘Disappeared – you mean run away?’

    ‘Yes! And it’s all due to these!’

    Wilma thrust out an accusing forefinger, pointing at the pair of black patent stilettos on her feet, which were decorated with rosettes of matching lace, sprinkled with tiny rhinestones. The very shoes, Ella recalled, that Wilma had mentioned to Daphne Cardew when they’d come to the shop on Saturday – replicas of ones she’s worn to a ball at which her husband had proposed, eons ago.

    Kezia lay the newspaper fan down onto the pink carpet, the photograph of Ella and Martin galumphing across the foyer towards the Golden Cage’s ballroom, still in view. Ella thought she should turn her back on the two women and stare out of the courtyard window, but that might appear rude. On the other hand, she felt equally uncomfortable watching the awkward little scene on the sofa. Still, events such as these had become commonplace over the last few days, and since Ella was already in deep, it seemed natural that she should be there to witness yet another drama. It was as if Kezia expected her to do so – see for herself what actually went on behind the sanctum’s closed doors.

    It was the mirror, wasn’t it? Revealing truths people didn’t normally want to face – about themselves, about others. Like Fennel, clothed in the fluffy, white towelling bathrobe, template shoes on her feet, parading round the Golden Cage’s royal bedchamber. Still gorgeous looking, despite the absurdity of her clothing! The mirror had warned her – that’s what she’d said. Cracks in the glass had appeared, then she’d seen herself dressed in the bathrobe, and the templates. All because she – Ella Bright – had taken them from the shoe shop.

    Ofcourse! Fennel had worn them too – just as they’d both worn the same red satin shoes. The plastic stilettos that were only meant to be tried on once, as Kezia had reminded her – ones that Ella had been commanded to keep as a souvenir. A horrible memory, which would follow her from now on – haunt her – keeping Fennel alive inside her.

    Even though Fennel had dumped Martin in favour of the disreputable Sam Edwards, Ella was convinced that Martin had still turned to herself as an amusing stop gap, never meaning to see things through. He’d got himself drunk at the Golden Cage, hell bent on ruining the engagement ball, just as she’d been hell bent on embarrassing him there. He’d used her as a pawn in the game, to make a point. A most public one.

    Ella’s eyes drifted back to the newspaper photograph. She must concentrate, learn as much as she could about the mirror while she still had the chance.

    On the sofa, Wilma Harcourt blubbered incoherently into the now damp and crumpled white handkerchief.

    Kezia spoke. ‘You say he was searching for a dinner jacket which he hasn’t worn for some years now?’

    Wilma blew her nose before replying. ‘Yes, he went up into the attic first thing this morning – neither of us have been up there for a very long time. Huge place it is, full of junk, and all sorts of things Kenneth inherited from his parents and grandparents. He came down covered in cobwebs and dust, bemoaning the fact the dinner jacket wasn’t anywhere to be found!’

    ‘Had he looked for it elsewhere?’

    ‘He said he’d searched through all the wardrobes in the house, and swore he still had it. The fact is Kezia, Kenneth hasn’t been to any public functions for years, he’s virtually become a recluse.’

    ‘So where is the dinner jacket?’ Kezia probed.

    ‘I’ve really no idea – it probably went into a charity shop, I had a big clear out about twenty years ago. Got rid of lots of stuff. That’s what I told him.’

    ‘So what has any of this got to do with the shoes?’ Kezia asked, indicating Wilma’s black patent stilettos.

    ‘Ah yes – the shoes! Well I wore them, didn’t I? – yesterday. I’d paraded them in front of Kenneth once before, in the hope he might remember the night he got down on one knee, asking for my hand in marriage. He said he didn’t remember the shoes. So I got them out again yesterday to try them on with this dress.’

    Lovingly, Wilma caressed the silky material, running her hands across the wrap over neckline, then down over her bust, finally brushing them across the skirt. Again contemplating the black stilettos, she continued.

    ‘I showed them to Kenneth, hoping to jog his memory – awaken something in him – remind him of that first pair I had that you so cleverly managed to copy from the photograph I leant you, Kezia’

    ‘And did it Mrs. Harcourt – reawaken him?’

    Wilma screwed up her eyes and rapidly shook her head from side to side. She looked as though she was about to burst into tears again.

    ‘Not a thing! Nada. He just stared at them and said they looked nice.’

    Kezia patted Wilma on the shoulder again.

    ‘Well, men aren’t noted for their powers of observation. My ex once told me how much he liked a pair of earrings that I’d worn day in, day out for several years, as though they were new!’
    Wilma turned to her.

    ‘The point is Kezia – I think he’s losing his mind.’ She tapped her head. ‘Going gaga.’

    ‘When did you discover his absence, Mrs. Harcourt?’

    Wilma sniffed and once again blew her nose. ‘I’d taken Mimi – our poodle – for a walk this morning and bought a baguette from the bakers. When I got home Kenneth was gone. I found the trap door to the attic open, and the metal step ladder still in place.’

    Kezia stood up, and straightened the skirt of her dress. ‘So you’re worried that he’s taken off somewhere, and won’t be able to find his way home?’

    ‘Exactly that.’

    ‘Don’t you think you should call the police?’

    Wilma sat bolt upright, black pencilled eyebrows raised in horror. ‘Good gracious no Kezia, I couldn’t possibly consider such a thing. Think of the scandal it would cause! And there’s no knowing where all this might lead, the social services could be called up, then they’d certify him – have him locked away.’

    Kezia emptied out her hands.

    ‘Then I really don’t know what to suggest, unless we somehow mount a search party, and I don’t know where we’d start with all that.’

    ‘I have an idea,’ Ella piped up.


    Extract from ‘The Fan’, a novella under wraps

    • Thanks for stopping by and posting your story snippet. I must confess, I’m rather curious about Ella’s idea.

      As for the heatwave in Scotland – hope things are back to more comfortable temperatures soon.

  2. Pingback: Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints: July 26th – Freedom Writing

  3. Fun snippet, Marie! I love the business with the shoes, and now we have a runaway character, too. Where could Kenneth have gone, and why? I’m looking forward to developments!

    So sorry about the heat wave—I know what that’s like. And if it’s too warm in Scotland, where on earth can a person escape to?

    • Haha – yes! Scotland is not usually known for its soaring temperatures, but in the sunshine it’s such a beautiful country. By contrast, it’s bucketing down today! Ah – yes – Kenneth, on his walkabout….he’s out and about somewhere… 😉

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