Thursday, 26 November 2020

Victorian Story Prompts

Inspired by a local short story competition, today we set ourselves the task of writing a short story inspired by a classic line out of a Victorian novel. You may well be able to spot the phrase in the stories below. 

Redemption maybe?

Phoebe woke in the night. Her hands were shaking and she had to call the maidservant to light the candle. She’d had a nightmare. Her heart was palpitating in her chest. Her dreams usually played out in reality. In fact the dream was about the downfall of her family.

One member was to fall then her family would be ostracised. Phoebe was shaken. Who would fall?

Was it her dear sister Esmay? Or would her brother go to debtor’s prison.

She crept slowly through her room into the study where her father kept his whisky. A couple of mouthfuls and she felt okay. A voice came unbidden into her mind.

“Everybody, sooner or later, sits down to a banquet of consequences.” The family she realised had to be held to account. Every devious deal they had done with the towns people must be brought to light.

And so the next day Phoebe walked around the village and the surrounding countryside, returning dishonestly obtained money and goods. Her dream did become real. She returned too much. Her family could not pay their bills and were evicted from their cottage and joined the Romany people on the road.

And so they passed from the history of the shire although people still allude to Phoebe’s generosity and kindness and maybe one day, when the travelling people pass through the village, they may see in the children a resemblance of their mother.  

- M.F.


Strains of music arc'd through the air, glanced off the windows, fired home to their target.  Ears, fraught with tension, muscles of his face tight, jaws clenched in almost permanent rigor.  The state of things now!  Nothing easy, always strained, no vacation.  If anyone told him to relax once more he would ... he would ... he didn't know what would happen.  Perhaps existence would implode in a mass of black that would smell of violets, sound like silence, and taste like water.

Dan surged across the room and angrily hit the OFF switch.  The music continued - in his head now, a perpetual trace of irritation.  In its background he could still hear the chirping hissing of tinnitus no longer drowned out.  His jaws still clenched Dan stalked outside, beyond the back door to the hopeful quiet of the garden.  If he listened to the tinnitus he could hear cicadas on pine trees.  "Have a little compassion on my nerves, you tear them to pieces" he cried to his mind, exasperated.  The resinous smell of the old place oozed out from memory, and he breathed deeply.  Thoughtless, Dan ventured back for yet another attempt at Part 2 of his manuscript.  The damn cat would not shut up.  Perpetually squeaking for cheese.  Why couldn't it go away and catch a mouse!

Another day.  Another morning.  The nation was in lockdown now and he was, still.  The stereo played the most soothing option he could find.  Whistling oscillated in his ears.  Compassionate phrases of Vivaldi still arc'd and glanced their meter around the room.  His feet gave up their stance and he ventured beyond the bastion of home, his steps retarded as he walked the street.  The bells and chirps of birds rang clear over the tinnitus, which submerged into stanzas of the trees.  All that annoyance had gone.  "It's quiet" Dan finally observed, to himself and no-one else.  His jaws released, eyes stopped squinting, and belief emerged.

- Kate Jenkins

Who Really Has The Power?

I sit here, watching you.  You think you are the boss, but I know the truth.  I know that if I ask, and ask, and ask, you will do my bidding, even if you don't know what I want.  Doors will be opened and closed for me, as I desire.  If I don't want my dinner, I tell you, and you buy me something else.  I know what to do to get treats, and extra special attention when I want it.  We cuddle on the sofa when the rain drums on the roof and thunder echoes all around.  I walk the dark night streets alone.  No-one questions me or comes near me.  Beware; for I am fearless and therefore powerful.  I am Thomas, your beloved family cat. 

- Christine

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