This week, out of the three prompt options I picked, ‘The Road’. Again, I found it hard to settle straight in to an idea but there is a road not far from me where a lot of hitchhikers (yes, they still do) try to thumb a lift, usually heading down to the coast and at first I thought I could use that, but there was something too easy, as if I shouldn’t allow the first thing that pops into my mind as that is probably too common a suggestion and pops into other minds first too. Then from that idea of thinking about what sort of person would be thumbing a lift I thought of what it would be to describe someone walking past a hitchhiker and perhaps discussing person and the reasons why they didn’t stop. But I didn’t like that either so I then thought about just staring at someone on a road which changed to following someone on a road and that ended up getting my mind geared up for describing someone walking down a road. Then from nowhere the suggestion of being in a work van stuck in traffic came to mind, as that would allow me to have the time to study a person, i.e. if we are not moving fast then it seems realistic to be able to use that time to describe a person. And that was that. I started writing and the below came out. However, I panicked when I realised I only had two minutes left and I hadn’t picked a title. I was stuck! I couldn’t think of one, then as two minutes became one, and then thirty seconds I thought I may actually mess up and not submit in time so I wrote ‘Destination’ without knowing why and not being happy with it but managed to submit the story in time. Afterwards, when I had calmed down I thought that actually, that’s not too bad a title. It sort of describes the fact that the people didn’t just know who the person walking was, but they didn’t know where he was going either, and knowing that may have made them think entirely differently about the man and I wonder then how they would have described him?
Luckily for me, this entry was shortlisted this week! Which is very nice. I didn’t win but being shortlisted in the top three for the first time was a rewarding feeling, even if I didn’t think this was my best piece, yet it gives you the spur you need every now and again.
As a reminder, this is a weekly competition where the online entry opens at 5.30pm and closes at 6pm giving you thirty minutes to think of, write, edit and submit a short story from one of three given word prompts. £4 entry and £50 first prize. Here is the link to the site: http://www.write-invite.com They also have other competitions and services that may be of interest.
The man in the white shirt with long grey hair and thin, sharp features had been walking ahead of them for at least half an hour.
Ron and Tony were stewing in their hot, sweaty seats. The work van's cabin was full of empty water bottles, crisp and biscuit packets which were all cracking loudly in the humid air. Both windows were fully open but it was one of those summer evenings where the pollution of city roads and low clouds combined to make it feel like the air had been sucked from the atmosphere. Ron was fidgeting more, shoving his feet amongst the piles of rubbish to try and get a decent stretch. Tony was fiddling with the radio.
'Where do you think he's going?' Ron asked. Tony looked up from the dashboard.
'Pfff, who knows. Looks like he's scrabbling about for butt ends and pennies to me,'
'We've been behind him pretty much all this road and he ain't stopped once, just keeps traipsing along like he's stoned or something,'
'Maybe he is, looks like he knows how to roll a fat one,'
The van crept along. The car in front was a new looking Mercedes with an average fifty something suit and tie tapping on the steering wheel to Magic FM. Ron and Tony had the luck of a pretty young thing for a few side roads, low cut top in the heat and small round sunglasses. They didn't quite manage to get her attention despite their heads bobbing up and down and left to right to catch her in the mirrors. Now it was the suit and they had turned their attention to the man.
'It's funny, he sort of looks like he's got money, you know what I mean? Hair's a bit, like, ageing rock star, don't you think?'
'Yeah, he does a bit,' Tony was still messing with the radio and wasn't paying full attention.
'You would have thought someone who looks like that would be doing well at his age, he's sixty at least I reckon,'
'How d'you know he's not doing well?'
'Well, just look at the clothes. And the way he walks,'
'Leave the poor bastard alone, maybe he's just had a hard day, he don't need you going on!'
The traffic let up and they managed a good spurt forward. A minute of constant movement and they had nearly caught up with the man again.
'Nah, look at him, unshaven, rough as mate,'
'You're being a bit bloody harsh, let's see how your doing at his age,'
The man's pace hadn't altered. His face had kept front and the occasional beeping from frustrated drivers and pedestrians passing him hadn't bothered him.
'He's gonna make it to the junction before we do, bloody traffic,'
'See, there you go. He knows what he's doing,'
'Hope I have better things to do than wander the streets when I'm older,'
'Give it a rest, you don't half go on. What's got you so interested? He's just a normal bloke walking up the road,'
'Something different about him,'
'When you've got as many miles clocked up on the road as he has, the last thing you want is some young cocky bastard looking you up and down. How do you know he ain't a rock star walking back home after a three day bender? Huh? He could be a millionaire, how would you know?'
'No chance, he's a scruffy drunk who's been kicked out the bookies,'
The last section of road before the traffic lights cleared and Ron and Tony speed up and past the man. They took a quick look in their mirror before a convertible BMW with two women drew up next to them waiting to turn at the lights and they forgot all about the man. The lights turned green and Ron and Tony talked about the attributes of the BMW driver and never saw or thought about the man walking and minding his own business again.
Have a great week,