Today I Wrote a Story and Burnt a Cake

To be fair to me, I burnt the cake because I was writing the story and got a bit wrapped up in it. I’m sure it will be alright if I cut the black bits off, nobody will notice.

I decided to work from a writing prompt today, the idea being that you take a prompt and free write to see where it takes you. My prompt today was:

There’s nothing worse than waking up next to someone and not being able to remember their name,

Or how you met,

Or why they’re dead.

This is where my pen went, I’d love to know what you think and where you might have gone if you were given the same prompt.

Nicola x

***

The dim light gradually brightened, washing consciousness over Alexander and fading the blackness of sleep into the soft, feathered pillow. He didn’t have to move to know that alcohol had brought him to his knees again, every molecule in his body told him so.

He opened one eyelid experimentally and immediately squeezed it shut again, turning his face towards the bed. The morning light was filtered and softened by the pale curtains but this did nothing to convince his swollen eyeballs to face the hazy dawn. The sudden movement of his head dislodged the volatile, wine-enriched bile in his stomach, forcing it up his parched throat. He shuddered and swallowed the nausea, his pulsating brain would not coordinate standing upright and getting to the bathroom yet.

He searched his surfacing brain for clues, for anything that would give his memory the jolt needed to claw fragmented events from the blackness of his alcohol binge. His mind replayed a badly cut cine film of last night’s gala dinner, his never empty wine glass, Lady Edinburgh to his left, her daughter to his right, their reluctance to speak to him even before the main course was served. His wife’s repulsed face as he spayed a mixture of wine and gravy across the serving dishes as he spoke. He pressed his palms to his closed eyes and willed more painful shards of memory to return but nothing more came. His reluctant mind retained the most shameful memories for later, it would sucker punch him when he least expected it.

His eyes were too tight in his head but he blinked them open anyway, the light not as glaring as he imagined. He badly needed a drink, his tongue clung to the roof of his mouth, his lips held closed with dehydrated spittle. He would have to get up, the need for water was too great. He uncurled a leg, stiff from the anaesthesia of alcohol, his foot touching a bare leg next to him. His wife rarely slept with him anymore. In the old days she would stay awake while he slept, afraid he would choke on his own vomit but that concern had waned years ago, he must have been close to death last night. She was still and he turned to face her, it had been so long since he’d watched her sleep.

The light was bright enough to see that his wife’s head of brown curls wasn’t on the pillow next to him. The short, black cut belonged to someone else, but he couldn’t see who. This wasn’t the first time he’d woken up with a stranger. Whoever it was was on their front, face down in the pillow. Completely face down, not just tipped sideways. A wave of ice slammed up Alexander’s spine and he jumped to his knees, throwing the cover off the king sized bed. This was definitely not his wife. This was a man, a very young naked man, and he wasn’t moving. Alexander extended an uneasy hand and shook his shoulder but he didn’t move. He felt cold to the touch, like a store mannequin waiting to be dressed and Alexander knew he was dead. His stomach convulsed and he threw himself to the edge of the bed, vomiting on the floor until he had nothing else to bring up. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and made a staggered journey to the bathroom, cupping his hands under the tap and drinking greedily. He glanced in the mirror and a withered alcoholic looked back at him, old and pleading.

He went back to the room, breathed deep and turned the man over. He didn’t recognise him at all, didn’t remember ever seeing him. He searched his shattered memory of guests at the dinner but this man didn’t feature, there was still time for it to come back to him. In the police cell, in the court room, in prison. He leaned against the wall and sank to the floor, holding his head in his hands but never taking his eyes from the corpse in his bed. His head hurt, it vibrated to spite him and was getting louder, bouncing around his skull, buzzing incessantly, on and on until vaguely the noise became a ringing phone. He crawled on the floor looking for the muted, relentless vibration. His pile of clothes on the chair buzzed louder as he approached, God he hoped it was someone who could help him. He stood, frozen with the phone in his hand, staring at the unfamiliar handset which blinked an unknown number. He killed the call, it must be his phone, the man in his bed. He couldn’t speak to a dead man’s relatives, not yet.

A text message flashed on the screen:

Don’t just look at it, answer it.

It rang again, vibrating in his hand. He answered the phone, shaking wildly.

“Yes?” He said, his voice gravelly and rasping.

“Good morning Your Grace. Quite a pickle you’ve got yourself into there isn’t it? A young man dead in your hotel room, your long suffering wife and children waiting at home? It’s all a bit scandalous isn’t it Sir?”

“Who is this?”

“Someone who can make it all go away, for a price.”

Alexander stiffened, realisation hitting him. Here was the sucker punch. “How much do you want?”

“Oh, I don’t want money Your Grace. I want something much more valuable than that.”

Alexander dropped the phone and sank to his knees, begging oblivion to come and drag him back to it’s blackened sanctuary.

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About Nicola Auckland

Busy wife to one & mum to two. I've caught the creative writing bug, now need to practice, get awesome and write something worth reading. Simples.
This entry was posted in Short Stories and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Today I Wrote a Story and Burnt a Cake

  1. Pingback: Liebster Award Nomination! | Words, Coffee & Lace Dresses

  2. honestme363 says:

    Loved the story Nicola! Nice twist having a man in the bed ☺ this read is definitely worth burning a cake for. Looking forward to more ☺

    Like

  3. oooh love this little tidbit of a story. Hooked and was running – even love the abrupt ending that leaves me wanting more story. But that’s ok – sometimes I read better if I only have short stories to read. Look forward to more 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, there is a definite split in the camp for the abrupt ending. I too am more inclined to read shorter stories, I like to grab one with my cornflakes. If it’s too long they go soggy – nobody likes soggy cornflakes!

      Like

  4. Wow!! You just came up with that? While you baked a cake??? :O I also have no aptitude for fiction… I would have stared at that prompt empty-headed for hours. Thank goodness for people like you! I loved your descriptions–the visceral sensations, the metaphors. And like Nik, I noticed their length. And I relate to your verbose tendencies–the only advice I remember from my writing professor in college is “Tighten!” It has become my editing mantra. 😉 The young, male bed partner was a super-fun twist, and the blackmailing phone call capped the whole thing off terrifically! So creative! Please keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Tightening will be my next lesson to myself I think. I have revisited most of my older works this week and I can see how they would all benefit from a bit of tightening. I’m going to challenge myself to rewrite and improve them.

      Thank you for your kind words, you can’t know how encouraging they are.

      Like

  5. India Hitch says:

    I did think “Ah Ha!” when I read the ending! I also thought that I could really get into this! I would love to know what happens next!

    Nic – you are very good at this!

    Will follow your blog and look forward to more.

    Thanks for sharing!

    India xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, hello India Hitch, fancy seeing you here!

      Thank you for reading my little yarn, obviously I am horribly embarrassed but also secretly glad that you liked it!

      (Everybody, meet India, a real life person I know who has also read my story – very rare indeed!)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Nik says:

    I like where you’ve taken the prompt (although I was disappointed to see I missed out on the great uvula debate hehe). The fact that our MC wakes up next to a male rather than a female was a clever angle and gave some freshness to the central blackmail story. Some people are not fans of such an open-ended finale but I didn’t mind at all – I think it’s the nature of free writing also as you aren’t really planning everything up front.

    I think some of the early passages were a little bit wordy and could be tightened up a bit but there were some great lines in there – particularly about being sucker punched later by a reluctant mind, that’s a really good choice of phrase.

    Oh and I noticed a spayed which should I believe be sprayed 🙂

    Nice work – enjoyed it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for you feedback, I’m trying to get out of my habit of verbosity. I used to be much worse! I’ll revisit it in a few days and tighten it when it’s not so fresh.

      I’ve been told off a lot today, I’ve been brave and let a few people I know in real life read it and their reaction has mostly been ‘so what happened next??????”, I never really intended there to be a next, the revelation of the blackmail was supposed to be the a-ha moment so I’ve learnt a big lesson from this.

      Since I’m a plotter not a panster, I can easily write myself into corners with free writing, if you read any more of my shorts you’ll see evidence of that elsewhere.

      Thanks again for reading, it’s fantastic to get feedback.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Anita says:

    This is such a riveting piece, really enjoyed reading it. I feel a little cheated that I don’t know how it ends, but that’s a great way to end a story nevertheless!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Vibrant says:

    I liked reading it. It’s going to be a good mystery. But I can tell you one thing. The caller lookslike a british person to me. I don’t know who it’s but it looks like someone british. Hahaha 🙂

    As to where this prompt might have taken me : I feel I remember that this has been taken from a mystery film. I have seen this murder mystery last year methinks. So this would take me to that story instead of reinforcing another story in my head.

    I don’t have aptitude for fiction. Neither for reading nor for writing. I have read some Dostoevsky and I love it. I loved Lewis Carrol’s Alice In The Wonderland as well. And some short stories. But I have read very little.

    I see some recommendations here in your blog’s side bar. Which are your favorite authors Nicola?

    It’s nice to read pieces from fellow bloggers as we can always share our views. 🙂

    Anand

    Like

  9. First off, that prompt is awesome. Where did you find it?

    Secondly, that response is powerful. You have a very strong voice. I was able to get lost easily into the story (the good kind of lost) and then you had to go and leave me on a cliffhanger! Wil you be expanding on this?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I found it on Pinterest, they have loads on there.

      I’m so glad you got lost in the story, I must be getting better! I’m sorry about the cliffhanger, I wondered if the ending was a bit rushed and you didn’t get a real sense of the gravity of the blackmail.

      I wasn’t going to expand it I’m afraid, but I could write a part 2 if enough people shout at me. My mum shouted at me so that’s ten votes straight away!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Whoa! Good stuff my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Noémie says:

    First of all I really loved the prompt, it made me laugh, then I read your story and… I think you nailed it 🙂 it’s extremely well written, bravo! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, I had a few ideas but liked this one the best. I wanted to be able to leave the reader to fill in the rest of the story, I should think it would unfold very differently in people’s minds and I love that thought.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Noémie says:

        I was hooked, I couldn’t stop reading and the end… The dead guy’s phone ringing and it’s for him! And he’s some royalty! Oh my that would make an amazing beginning for a novel or a film! You would be amazing at writing that kind of novels 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • You are too kind, I am trying to find a genre I am good at, I’ve tried quite a few while doing these prompts, some of them are in the Flash Fiction section of this site. I’ll upload a few more I think, now I’m getting braver 🙂

        Please do pop back, I love your positivity!

        Like

      • Noémie says:

        I do think that this style really suits you! The way you describe all the details is excellent… Even to the ultimate detail of what your organs feel like when you a hungover… Your descriptions are funny yet very precise, you have a real talent here! 🙂 I mean it 🙂

        Like

  12. I just starting following your blog and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. When I began reading this story, I was a bit in my analysing mode. I didn’t know if I liked the term uvula …. wrong, this is an amazing piece. Wow. I am just a reader but I want to know where this goes. Thanks so much. I am lucky to find such excellant writing to enjoy.

    Like

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