This was an assignment we had at the writing workshop conducted by Robert Raymer on 13 August. It was his second with our group in KK. The first was last April which I had also attended. I didn’t go because I thought I’d be able to push myself into completing a short story in one afternoon. It was more for the opportunity to listen and learn something new—and to meet the other ‘writers-in-waiting’.
|Pic Courtesy of Robert Raymer|
Anyway, “They Found Me” was one interesting exercise with countless possibilities and a novel way (I think) of letting your imagination run wild. Just consider: who or what are ‘they’? Your kids? Bosses? Ex-husbands? The police? Wild animals? And who or what is ‘me’? A child? A convict? A tumour? An elf? A secret diary? It gets more interesting when you try to answer all the ‘wh questions’! And that was exactly what I did.
After several days of selecting and discarding one potential protagonist after another, I found the ‘me’ I could identify with (hah) and then I let my ideas simmer while I thought of plausible scenes in my head. When I had a fair idea of what my story was going to be, I simply wrote-edited-rewrote-edited and then left my story overnight. Normally, the following day, all (well, almost all!) the ‘mistakes’ would jump out and so got corrected or re-written until I was happy with the result.
I hope you like my 'masterpiece' enough to leave comments so I can turn it into a really good story! Thanks!
“There you are!”
The hoarse voice came from a reclining chair somewhere to my left. I froze, one foot in mid-air and my heart hammering in my chest. An old hag lay motionless in the chair. Despite the stifling heat she was covered from the neck down. Her eyes, like bright fifty-sen coins, reflected the light from window. Only her eyes and lips were moving. “I have waited ten years for you.”
Of course it couldn’t have been me she had waited for ten long years. I was sure of that because I know I didn’t owe anyone any money; I have no parents, no siblings, no wife, not even any food which was why I had entered this house. It sat at the end of a quiet lane, the yard was a little jungle and I thought they would never find this place. The front door was unlocked, too.
“Where is that bag of bones you have for a wife? Didn’t she say you should be here on time?” I needn’t worry about answering her because she went on and on… and on.
|From Google Images|
“Ah,” she said as she watched me studying the bottle. “You want a drink? Some food maybe?”
‘Well,” I began as my thoughts drifted back to my last meal. It had been three days ago and the crazy men had splattered my rice with spittle. They claimed they were only returning the favour.
“Eat!” She roared. “Drink! You haven’t changed at all, have you?”
I tried not to pig on the muffins in case the old lady noticed and asked awkward questions.
“Always late. Never on time. Don't you have a clock?” She stopped to take a breath. “You should have been here at five this morning.”
Ah, so it wasn’t ten years she had waited. Merely five hours.
“I let your good-for-nothing wife take the day off because she swore you’d be here at dawn. Damn if I’m ever going to believe her word again. Turn me! Turn me!”
I stopped in mid-swallow. Turn her? Did she mean turn her on? I gasped.
“Stop gawking, you nincompoop! Go wash the filth off your hands and turn me onto my side. Use that soap. Don’t want your germs all over me.”
I found the bathroom. I washed my hands twice while studying my head in the mirror. My hair was growing back and the deep gash near my ear, the one caused by the blunt blade, was healing nicely. I splashed water onto my head and washed my neck. I thought a change of clothes would be good.
By the time I returned to the front room, the old lady was snoring softly. Asleep, she didn’t look too intimidating but even I knew to let sleeping dogs lie. So I went looking for clothes and hoped the woman had married a man and that he had died and left his clothes behind.
The first room yielded nothing but dolls. There were dolls arranged on shelves, stuffed in boxes, attached to strings and hung on hooks. There were all kinds of dolls in all kinds of condition: big, tiny, black, blonde, gowned, naked, bald. They had eyes of beads, buttons and glass in blue, brown, red, black or had no eyes at all. Was the woman a doll collector? A doll maker? A weirdo?
The next room had cabinets along one wall and looked more promising. The first cabinet had enough linen and towels for all the inmates of the mental hospital. In the middle cabinet there was nothing but women’s under-things, jars of cream and tubes of lotion. The last one had dresses and skirts; shorts, floral blouses and nightclothes.
Not a single thing for a man!
The shorts wouldn’t hide the tattoo on my calf and I’d look ridiculous in a dress so I pulled a few items from the last cabinet and changed my clothes.
Then the wardens came.
They found me in front of the bathroom mirror brushing my teeth. Their eyes popped out and they backed out of the room hurriedly. Perhaps it was because I was all in shocking pink and white: pink pajamas, pink towel wrapped around my head, white cold cream on my face and white toothpaste foaming out of my mouth.
Or maybe it was because the old lady woke up suddenly and, outraged by the arrival of unexpected company, she did the only thing she was capable of doing. She shrieked like a mad woman.