In my lunch hour today I was browsing the Reader and came across a writing prompt from Today’s Author. The instructions were simple, use the prompt to inspire a piece of creative writing, write for five minutes (or longer) and post the results. No editing or polishing was required which suited me as I only had about fifteen minutes of my lunch hour left.
The prompt was:
She had looked forward to this day for months, but now that it was here she wasn’t happy about it.
The below story is what fell out of my brain. Since the object of this exercise is to receive critique, please feel free to tell me what you think!
She had looked forward to this day for months, but now that it was here she wasn’t happy about it. The house gleamed in the high shine of Joanna’s determined elbow grease, Nora and her team of militant Women’s Institute busybodies would not find a speck of dust to sneer about today. A team of caterers were busy removing crusts from cucumber sandwiches in the kitchen and she had personally ensured every scone was exactly the right size and shape for the dainty china plates they would be served on.
Her grandmother would be so proud of her. She had commanded the secretive inner circle of the WI for six decades with such ferocity that nobody had dared suggest succession planning to the elderly dictator. Upon her eventual death, the fear she instilled was so palpable and her wishes so unclear that a respected medium was asked to check whether Nora’s elevation to Commander was agreeable. It was not. The wizzened old woman had lurched like she’d been punched in the back, spitting her grandmother’s words that Joanna was to take the reins within twelve months, and Nora was to make sure she was ready. The medium had imitated the dead Commander so precisely, this instruction was never challenged.
Today was the day she took command. She had spent eleven months convincing herself she was up to the task, despite Nora’s disparaging encouragement. With nobody to reassure her of her leadership potential, the last two weeks of self doubt had erroded what confidence she had mustered. She wondered who her grandmother had confided in at times like this. Her mother had never joined the WI and her grandfather was blissfully unaware that his homemaker wife led a sanctum of rogue spies. She must have been made of sterner stuff, the make-do-and-mend generation always were.
Joanna fiddled with the tie backs on the freshly pressed curtains and watched through the nets as three ordinary family cars pulled up outside her house. Four women unfolded themselves from each vehicle, straightening their coats as they stood. They walked down her path with purpose, each with a near identical handbag in the crease of her elbow. To any onlooker, they were an ordinary group of grandmotherly friends meeting for lunch. To Joanna, they were a jury awaiting her failure and confession.
She hurried to the front door, drawing a steadying breath as she pulled it open. Nora stood at the head of her subordinates, her grey eyes blinking at Joanna through thick framed glasses. Joanna swallowed her greeting and stood tall, regarding the woman who would be her deputy.
Nora’s mouth twitched into a small smile. “Good afternoon Commander.”
Joanna stepped aside and gestured into the house. “Won’t you all come in? I’ve received word this morning that a world leader has been targeted for assassination. We must plan our response, but first, anyone for a cup of tea?”