Here is my entry to last Saturday's weekly short story competition over at http://www.write-invite.com. Unfortunately I couldn’t enter yesterday’s because the competition starts at 5:30pm and there was the small matter of the Grand National at 5:15pm… No, I didn’t pick the winner.
Anyway, there is no doubt I had a panic with this one. I could not find the right way to finish it. Strangely, as I was making a cup of coffee a few minutes before the competition was about to start, I looked out of my kitchen window and saw in the wall opposite a brick that seemed out of place with the others, much lighter as if it had been replaced. It was on my mind when I sat down and when I saw the three ‘theme’ options I immediately knew I would pick, ‘The Face’ as I had the idea of using that brick I had just seen as a face in a wall. So, I started well enough, and took up nearly 25 minutes with continuous writing… but the ending eluded me. I just couldn’t work out what I wanted to do so I wasn’t particularly happy with it, but there we go, 30 minutes well spent regardless.
There’s always next week...
The Face Behind the Hedge
'Why do you think they done it?' John asked. He stood with hands on hips, his head leaning to the left and squinting with his right eye, as if the surprise required a matching actor's pose.
'I have no idea,' replied Vicky, 'I like it though,'
'I mean, yes, I guess I like it,' John said, nodding. He took his hands off his hips and placed them in his pockets. He kept the squint. He watched as Vicky moved closer and took a careful look. 'Do you think it's been here all this time?'
Vicky's nose was nearly touching the wall as she moved her head up and down and left to right examining the brickwork. She wasn't entirely sure what she was hoping to find but it seemed like the thing to do.
'Well, it must have been,' she eventually replied, stepping back and standing next to John.
'Well I never,' John said, his squint had gone and he had levelled his head.
'You're sure we didn't plant these hedges, absolutely sure?' Vicky asked, gently shaking her head.
'Certain,' John replied with a firm nod, 'We tidied up a bit, I remember that but all of this side was more or less as it was. Do you remember it was further up, where the roses are that we dug up and replaced? Before the kids,'
'Yes, I think you're right, yep, yep.'
The couple remained side by side looking at their garden wall. After a week of trimming, cutting, pruning, digging, planting and all other manner of green fingered tasks they had finally got around to chopping down an out of control hedge that ran from their kitchen wall several metres along the wall until it abruptly ended and the main lawn took its place. Ten years of retirement and this was one of the only outstanding tasks to tick off their to-do list.
'Have you got the camera?' Vicky asked.
'Oh, good idea. I'll go get it,' John hobbled to the back door, the week's efforts taking its toll on his back, and went inside to fetch their camera.
Vicky stood still and continued to look at the wall. A minute later John rejoined her and passed the camera over. Vicky had always been the one with the artistic eye. She took some photos, moved to one side to take some more, then a few more from a different angle before stepping back to John and nudging him forward so she could take a photo with him in it.
'Pretend you're putting your arm round it,' Vicky chuckled.
'Dear me, how do you know it won't cast a spell on me or something?' John said back.
Vicky took the last photo and walked forward the few steps to meet John and show him the shot. She turned the camera around and pressed the button that brought up the most recent photo on the screen. It had come out quite well.
On the wall that had been hidden by a hedge for as far as they were aware, at least twenty years, was a patchwork of light, sand coloured bricks arranged to look like a face. At some point in the past the original wall must have been knocked down and whoever built it had played a trick and put in the contrasting bricks. The rest of the wall was a deep, rusty brown-red tone.
'I can't quite believe we've never seen it before,' John said, it was the third time he'd said it in fact.
'Beyond me,' said Vicky.
They went inside to rest and put the kettle on. They continued to debate the oddity into the late afternoon. It turned into a fun game, guessing who it was for, why they had done it and that had led into making all sorts of assumptions about the previous owner and who may have lived there over the years. It was fascinating to think they had been sharing their home with another human face all this time and they looked forward to checking their emails to see what their children made of it.