A Story a Day for a Week in May

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Two of the bloggers I follow, Marian Allen and Jo Robinson, are writing a short story every day during the month of May. They have actually signed up to do it…officially! I have been very impressed with Marian because she has done it, a story a day every day so far this month. Jo has just joined in. Inspired by their commitment, I think I’ll give it a try, unofficially, at least for this coming week. ‘A Story a Day for a Week in May’ may not have the same cachet, but it does have a certain ring about it, wouldn’t you say?

I’ve taken as my writing prompt an exercise suggested some time ago by one of my cohorts in PenPals, the writing club I belong to. She suggested we take one of the characters we are writing about in our novels or other work, and send them to buy a pint of milk. An everyday task: a way to get to know the character.

So, here is my first effort:

For Monday, May 20th

***

Milk, Don’t You Know!

It had been a rubbish day at work. Everything that could go wrong had gone wrong and, by the time Sandra walked home she was as thoroughly depressed as she’d been in a long time. When she opened the door to find Hugh curled up on the sofa with a book, his Basset-Hound-Puppy tail wagging to greet her, she felt herself falling apart. She flopped into the chair, her head back, tears gathering behind closed eyes.

“Bad? Dare…dare I ask? Bad day, was it?” Hugh did dare, carefully letting his book drop to the floor beside the empty mugs that had gathered there during his day.

She didn’t open her eyes, knowing, that once opened, there would be nothing to hold back the tears.

“Exhausted, you look exhausted,” Hugh consoled. “Cup of tea? Can I? Would you like…?”

“Please,” she nodded and, while Hugh fussed in the kitchen, she gave a long shuddering sigh and mentally drew all her scattered fragments into a tidy pile, ready to be put back together by the promised restorative cuppa. “Oh, yes, please,” she sighed.

“Ah, yes,” he said from the doorway. “Bit of a problem, there, with the aforementioned beverage, don’t you know.”

The fragments started to slip away.

“Milk. Didn’t happen to bring milk, did you, I don’t suppose?”

Tears trickled from the sides of her tightly shut eyes.

“Mmm. Take that as a ‘no’, then should I? Mmm.” Hugh raked his hands through his hair. “Next problem, no money. Don’t suppose you…?”

Silently, barely moving her position, she reached into her bag. Once found, she unzipped her purse and held it upside down letting the coins fall where they would.

“Yes, well.” Hugh bent to pick up the few pennies. “Not enough, not enough really, is it? Sixteen P? Pint of milk? Sixteen P?” He looked around for what he could sell. “Cushions? Do we really need cushions on that chair?” he asked.

And that was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back! “Those cushions were embroidered for me by my sister. They were part of my wedding trousseau.” Sandra was on her feet. “An old fashioned concept, I’ll grant you, as is the silly, outdated notion that it should be the man who goes out to work his butt off for his little woman,” she fumed, eyes wide open now, no effort to stop the tears of anger and self-pity. “If you don’t get out there, find some way to buy a pint of milk and make me that cup of tea,” grabbing up the cushion, “without, without, selling off the last of my treasured possessions, so help me, Hugh, I’ll…”

He held his hands aloft. “Point taken! Yes. Milk. Tea. On to it.” He snatched his jacket from the sofa where it had been thrown earlier. “Going. Milk. Yes.” And he rushed out of the door, embarrassed, she knew, by her tears, cowed by her anger.

She sat down again, her knees drawn up to her chin, her head in her hands, crying in earnest now. “Oh, God,” she prayed. “What am I going to do? He can’t even buy a pint of milk!”

It wasn’t that Hugh meant to be vague. In fact, mostly, he was unaware of his mental peregrinations. Looking back, even when chastised at school for his inattention, it always came as a surprise to him that his mind had strayed so far from the point of focus. He knew others were frustrated by this quality in him, but he couldn’t quite work out what to do about it. Survival instincts threw up soft, billowy clouds of insouciance to shield him from the harsh glare of censure.

He scrabbled up the money by dint of searching through the pockets of the coats that hung in the hall, and sifting through the ‘bits and pieces saucer’ on the kitchen worktop: nothing larger than the sticky ten pence piece he rescued from his jacket pocket, but together, enough for a pint of milk.

‘Milk,’ he mused as he ran down the stairs.

‘Milk,’ he muttered, slowing to let the traffic pass. ‘Funny thing, milk. Become a necessity, what? How does that happen? What did people do before there was milk?’ ‘S’pose always been milk, really,’ he replied, wandering along the street. ‘It’s tea that’s newer on the scene, don’t you know.’

‘Tea,’ he thought, looking in the book shop window. ‘Funny thing, tea. Become a necessity, sort of. Like coffee. Suddenly, everybody needs coffee to start the day,’ he observed as he fingered the row of second-hand books laid out on a stand in front of the window. Finding an Ian Rankin he hadn’t read, he checked the price pencilled inside the front cover. ‘Hmm, not quite enough,” he realised, counting the coins in his pocket. Then remembered that he had come out with a purpose.

‘Coffee,’ he reminded himself as he strolled into the All Hours Minimarket at the corner of the street. ‘Needs sugar, actually, coffee, can’t take it without sugar.’ He shuddered at the very idea.

‘Sugar,’ he mumbled, as he browsed the shelves. ‘Sugar. Ah, yes, there it is.’

‘Just about got enough for a small bag, ‘ he said, counting out the coins. He smiled as he handed the pile of copper over, winning a responsive smile from the assistant despite the inconvenience the counting of the small change would give.

‘Mmm,’ he hummed, entering the stair. ‘Can almost smell the coffee. Hope Sandra remembered the milk!’

 

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jorobinson176
    May 20, 2013 @ 15:32:00

    Brilliant story Christine! I sort of recognise the pattern actually – going for milk – buying new boots. 😀 xxx

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  2. cicampbell2013
    May 20, 2013 @ 18:46:37

    Me too! Or like speaking to someone and getting distracted and calling them the name of the distraction…as in…’Yes, I understand, book, I really do!’

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  3. marianallen
    May 20, 2013 @ 19:42:59

    “Oh, thank you SO much, Christine,” she said, voice bitter with sarcasm. “I NEEDED another blog to follow.” ~sigh~ And … a tail? This boy has an actual tail? Or a metaphorical tail? At any rate, I love the way you write!! See you termorrer!

    Marian Allen
    Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

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    • cicampbell2013
      May 20, 2013 @ 21:57:25

      Ah! The tail! Yes. Well, you see the exercise I set myself was to use one of my characters from one of my novels, so Sandra and Hugh are from one that I have tucked away to finish another day and Sandra’s ‘thing’ is that she tends to see the animal in others. Hugh is her Basset Hound Puppy: big soulful eyes, floppy, needs a lot of looking after.
      Thank you for visiting and ‘following’, Marian, and I’m delighted you like my writing. Praise indeed, from someone whose writing I respect. Thank you.

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  4. sharonscorde
    May 20, 2013 @ 20:21:23

    I think Hugh will be ‘wearing’ the coffee – and I’d be happy to help Sandra dress him in it! (Not sure what that says about me). Enjoyed reading it, Christine ; )

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    • cicampbell2013
      May 20, 2013 @ 21:59:58

      Thanks, Sharon. Glad you enjoyed it. Yes, I thnk I could ‘lose it’ with a man like Hugh! But, then, I’m getting increasingly ditsy as I get older, so probably can be pretty annoying myself!

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  5. Winfield Ly
    May 21, 2013 @ 21:12:31

    Haha, it was an entertaining read =) I enjoyed reading this ^_^

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  6. cicampbell2013
    May 21, 2013 @ 22:48:36

    Thank you, Winfield. And thanks for visiting. I hope you do again.

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  7. kirilkundurazieff
    May 24, 2013 @ 13:16:15

    Unstated is the fact that she’s gonna kill him when he walks in the door w/o the milk, right? Hee, hee!

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