Last year – or maybe it was the year before, we gave a friend a book with 101 suggestions for very short stories, flash fiction tales. We were so enthralled by our gift to him, that we all went out and bought a copy too. In that time I have only managed to write six of the suggested stories – but last year was my stuck in the writing mud year, this year I seemed to have yanked myself free and I’m almost back up to speed with my creativity!
This was the suggestion for number 62:
Write a story wherein a single dramatic episode is told from two different viewpoints to create and unsettling, intriguing dynamic.
There was a helpful hint of what the subject matter could be but a story sprang into my head and i didn’t heed it – although after I had finished I realised that maybe I had taken more notice of it than I realised! This is what I wrote:
It was one of those times, one of those walks where we kept passing and being passed by the same people. They were a couple and to be honest I didn’t really pay much attention to them, not until afterwards, and then it was only the woman, and then it was only really her red scarf and the too pretty floral blouse – why did she not have her jacket fastened? The wind was chill, the sun only briefly appearing. We saw them ahead of us and the red scarf flapping seemed to signal something but I was too involved in what we were saying… Could I really give my life to someone who stood on the other side of the BREXIT divide?
Beyond them, like a pair of tiny dolls, another couple were coming down the hilly cliff path. I thought they were both wearing pink trousers, only when we stood, horrified, not daring to go near the cliff edge or the woman with the red scarf, that I realised that they weren’t pink trousers, but pink legs.
“She pushed him, she pushed him over the edge!” I said stupidly.
“She pushed him?” the woman with pink legs said. “She pushed him?”
“He was trying to push her!” the pink-legged man almost shouted as if he was angry with us, not the man who had disappeared over the edge.
I think we were all in shock, trying to rationalise what we had seen.
We had only been a dozen or so yards behind them, had seen the escalating… escalating what? Row? Caught snatches of the sound of their voices but no words. Hands had reached out – to touch? To hurt?
To me, she seemed the one who was excited, her arms flew up, her head bobbed, she seemed to stomp.
“We could see them, we saw his face, he looked like he wanted to kill her,” the woman with pink legs spoke as if in an argument.
“But she grabbed him!” I said.
“She wanted to hug him!” the pink-legged woman was almost aggressive – to me, another innocent onlooker – but had I been looking, had I really seen what happened? Had I been projecting our own emotions onto the couple in front?
“She pushed him, no doubt about it,” my partner said. “Didn’t you? You pushed him!”
“Don’t be afraid my dear,” the pink-legged woman addressed the red-scarfed one. “You’re quite safe, we saw what happened.”
It occurred to me that none of us had even looked over the edge. While we argued, a man might be clinging to the cliff face.
This isn’t really a completed story, short or otherwise; as I was copying t out, I began to see how it could become part of something longer, something much longer, a novel perhaps! Watch this space!