I am a ‘not-so-secret’ fiction writer. I would love to share more of my work on this blog but most of the short story competitions I enter preclude entries that have been published, even on a personal blog.
As for my novel, well, apart from the extract that invites readers to walk into Petra, I feel that it should stay well under wraps until I have explored its potential fully.
I noticed a competition a few weeks’ ago, for which the brief was something along the lines of ‘your protagonist receives an unexpected telephone call. What happens next?’ I had a spare ten minutes while waiting for a friend in a café and so I scribbled a few words.
What do you think should happen next? The obvious path is that the news creates a terrible rift in her family but I’d like to think of something a little bit different and I’m open to ideas (excluding science fiction – that’s just not my thing!).
Out of the Blue
I wasn’t expecting the call. How could I when I had no idea that a different past existed?
The first warm and sunny Saturday of the year had called to me and I had leapt out of bed, eager to drink in every last drop of liquid light.
It was early, just six thirty. I strode up the canal path towards the woods. The only other folk about were the dog-walkers, that polite breed of people who nod in recognition to others of their kind. I wasn’t one of them but I always waved a cheery ‘good morning’.
When I took the call I was two hours in, sitting on a bench in a delicious sun trap, enjoying the country silence – bees waking up from winter, birds twittering high above and a light breeze tickling the unfurling spring leaves. The harsh jingle of my phone broke the peace. I was tempted to ignore it and looking back, I wish I had. I didn’t recognise the number.
“Serena Ducasse,” I answered.
“Miss Ducasse, you don’t know me. I’m calling regarding rather a delicate matter. Is now a good time to talk?” The voice intrigued me. It sounded European.
“As good as ever. How can I help you?”
If I had known the destruction this man would cause, I would have left the phone untouched and the call unreturned. Curiosity is a powerful drug and one I have never been able to resist.
The caller’s next words left me reeling. “Your brother has been in a car accident and has died.”
“I’m sorry, Mr…”
“Sorry, Mr Marchal, I should have introduced myself.”
“Mr Marchal, there has been a mistake. My brother died forty years ago of meningitis. He was just 18. You have the wrong family.”
“Robert Adam Ducasse, born 2nd July 1948?” A note of hesitation quivered at the base of Mr Marchal’s voice. “Does that mean anything?”
“Nothing. You have the wrong Ducasse.” My voiced tailed off. A feeling of dread began to percolate through my body.
“I admit this is strange but I am Mr Ducasse’s lawyer and he very specifically mentioned you when we drew up his last will and testament some years ago. Are you Serena Michelle Ducasse, born 2nd July 1953?”
“I am but I didn’t have an older brother. Do you know his mother’s and father’s names? I’m sure we can clear this up.” I was snappy with tension.
“I do. I have his birth certificate here. Margaret O’Hara…”
I interrupted him, relief flooding my voice. “No. My mother was Imelda Mary McGuinness.”
“And your father?” asked Mr Marchal in a low, grave voice.
As I uttered the name ‘Jean Alexandre Ducasse’ Mr Marchal spoke at the same time.
“I think we should meet, Miss Ducasse. Mr Ducasse has left you a very significant estate.”
© Carole Scott 2013
All ideas welcome!
By Carole Scott
- Why You Can’t Win In Any Short Story Competition (competitioncrazy.com)
- Waiting till it’s ready and Beta Readers (alexanderballard.wordpress.com)
- Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2013 Shortlist (repeatingislands.com)
- Trouble With Dust (norwichwriters.wordpress.com)
- Turning Your Anecdote into a Short Story: Part 1 (writingcompanion.wordpress.com)
- Short is Beautiful: The Comeback of the Short Story? (othernetwork.com)