This is the final writing assignment for the end of week 2, which was to listen to the radio and get some ideas for a story from the first thing you heard. I took some phrases from a comedy sketch on a Fresh Air programme on NPR and I deliberately let them lead me in a different direction from the programme itself. I started by imagining the feeling behind the words, and then the person who would be feeling that. Once I can picture it, the story unfolds and I can both see and hear the characters and the setting.That happened here.
The assignment was to write a 500-word story. This is actually shorter and came out the way my vignette fiction / flash fiction pieces do. This is an early draft and will be revised and possibly expanded. We were encouraged to include as much of the following as possible:
- physical description
- thoughts and inner life
- where the character is located
- the character’s back story
- how the character acts in the world.
I did these but with a light touch and in a very condensed form, even less than the 500 words but somehow the sequence seemed to tell the whole story. I may end up writing more next week. Hope you like it.
It was 10 pm when she walked into the student union. She clutched the front edges of her cardigan together – it was missing a button. Disco lights flashed overhead and music reverberated around her. People were clustered around the bar, leaning towards each other. They looked as if they were shouting but she couldn’t hear any voices.
Does anybody want to talk to me?
Last week she’d driven 200 miles to come here for her first year at uni, and she didn’t know a soul. Not only that, she was the only girl in the whole room wearing a cardigan.
She squeezed up to the bar with a fiver clenched in her hand. It took a while, but eventually the barman looked in her direction. “Vodka tonic, please.” That sounded sophisticated, didn’t it?
She took a sip. It looked and tasted remarkably like lemonade, just not as sweet. Then she made her way to a corner, where she saw someone from her programming module. He was short and a little plump, to put it kindly, and he had black curls sticking out in all directions. He was nursing a Brains bitter. And he seemed to be completely alone!
“Gina, is it?”
“Erm, well, Jean actually. How did you do on that first assignment?”
“Oh, it was rubbish. No idea why they had us write some code before they’d even taught us anything. I’m not the smartest guy.” He smiled, and his dimples came out.
She paused a beat. Maybe you’re not, she thought, but you do have warm eyes. She slid into the booth and sat next to him, feeling like a version of herself in a sitcom, no, make that a rom com. She was the young sophisticate taking him under her wing, yeah, he was a fledgling and she would teach him to soar.
And when he turned into an eagle, she’d be the envy of all those girls at the bar, in their black little-nothing dresses and high high heels.