Monday, 15 October 2012

House of Horrors for Romanticfridaywriters

For this RFW challenge, I have an emerging character for whom I am planning lots of adventures.  For an introduction to Olivia Kent find Plausible Deniability in the archive for May.

My Demon, My Lover.

‘Helloooo.’  Charles Baxter followed his ghoulish welcome with a cackle and ushered Olivia Kent and her adult nephew, Nick, into the gathering.   Crime writer and challenger for the position of matriarch at Baxter’s Publishing, Angela Connolly, greeted them.   ‘Lilly, you look just like your heroine.  Is that your real hair?’  Tidy, middle-aged Olivia Kent usually wore her shoulder length grey hair in a neat bun.  For the themed launch party of her latest novel, she had untied it, let it out and coiffed it.  Angela herself looked like Cruella De Vil.   ‘And Nick darling, aren’t you the demon.’   Nick’s snarled response was in character though Olivia was sure there was more than a touch of honesty in it.   Kelly, her personal assistant slid in beside her with her permanently attached Blackberry pinging.  ‘So Miss Kent, Charles will launch at ten.  Mark O’Grady from ‘People’ will be here at ten fifteen for photos and then you’re signing from eleven.’
‘Thank you, Vampira.  Now please go and enjoy yourself.’
The girl giggled, ‘Isn’t it fun?’ before blending into the otherworldly crowd.  As Olivia moved through the congregation acknowledging fans and colleagues, she thought she saw someone she knew; someone she had tried to forget, but honestly, some days he was everywhere.  What would Jason be doing here?  She could not be sure but the tall frame and strong jawline were so familiar.
A death knell clanged and she came to attention with the rest of the company.   ‘Demons and lovers all, may I introduce our guest of honour, Miss Olivia Kent.’  Charles led the applause and for the most part the crowd clapped politely though some who were really in character howled or smacked their lips.  Olivia climbed the podium. ‘Thanks for coming out of your hovels and lairs all of you to be here this Halloween night to help launch ‘My Demon, My Lover’, my thirteenth novel.’  Jason’s face was morphing before her, but when it faded into the crowd again, she was not sure what she had seen.   ‘Thank you Charles and Baxter Publishing and thank you fiends.’  There was a spatter of laughter from the gathering.  ‘Please buy my book for a special price tonight and I’m here to sign it for you.’
From somewhere in the crowd there was a shocking scream, followed by a ripple of uncertainty.  Was this part of the show?  Olivia looked to Charles whose panicked look back to her told her this was real.  The mob knew then also and scattered in fright.  Angela Connolly lay alone and still, her two-toned wig bloodied from a head wound.   Nick grabbed Olivia and dragged her from the stage.  ‘Come on Aunt Lilly.’  Together they followed the crush to the exit.
‘Stop.  Nicholas Kent, you are under arrest.’
Olivia watched as Nick ran headlong into Jason who pointed a gun and began firing at his attacker.  Olivia’s knees collapsed under her in shock and there was something damp at her hip.
‘Livvy!  No!’  Olivia smiled with dizziness and remembrance.  Jason was the only one allowed to call her Livvy.  The colour drained from her face and leaked from the hole in her side.  The floor rose to meet her and everything went dark.
Jason held her pale head on his knee and rocked her sweetly.   ‘No. No.  Come back to me Livvy, please.’   In the motion of his tenderness Olivia was at the beach by her house standing in the waves watching a man and his dog.  She stirred in pain and opened her eyes.
‘Jason is that you?’
‘Yes my love.  I’m here.’
‘Why?’  She winced with physical suffering and emotional confusion.
‘I’m here to arrest Nick.  He’s wanted for questioning about a disappearance.’
Olivia raised a bloody hand to brush Jason’s cheek.  ‘You disappeared, Jason.  Always disappearing. . . ‘  Her voice faded and her hand slid away as she drifted back into the cool waves.
On the beach the man played with his dog.  As Olivia watched, the scene became Jason and Nick fighting to remove each other from the world.  Conscious again, she moved toward them sliding painfully, the blood from her wound streaking the floor as she went.   As she crawled past Angela’s still unmoving body she wondered if she were living one of the writer’s twisted storylines.
‘Stop. Stop.’  She tried to speak but her tongue was thick in her dry mouth and the pain in her side moved up her body to explode in her brain.  Jason and Nick’s sickening rumble came to an end.  Nick was handcuffed and stood pleading down to Olivia who lay with agony and questions interchanging across her face.  Jason marched Nick before him and they exited.
‘Don’t move Miss Kent.  The ambulance is coming.’  Kelly sat beside her.
‘Efficient Kelly,’ said Olivia as she weakly patted the girl’s arm.  She looked over to where Angela lay unmoving and alone even now.  Kelly followed her gaze.  ‘Oh Ms. Connolly is dead.’  The ice in Kelly’s words sent a shiver through Olivia.  ‘I have been very efficient.  Angela Connolly will write no more.’  Her face contorted and her mouth twitched into laughter.  The ensuing shriek was lost in the sound of approaching sirens.
On the beach Olivia watched the tide go out.

Word count   880

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Romantic Friday Writers Challenge: Birthday Madness

The word count was a challenge on this one.  I originally wrote more elements conspiring to destroy the celebration but they say don't work with children or animals.  For those who wanted more of Maxine, her hot husband Blake and her beautiful friend Lola, here's this week's RFW challenge.

‘There she is’.   Blake waved, took my hand and we entered the fancy garden party.   I shrank at the sight of the decorated table laden with glowing gifts.  Our tray of Guylian suddenly looked pathetic and thoughtless beside new champagne flutes, boxed jewellery and perfumes named for celebrities.
‘I’m so glad you could come.’  Lola greeted Blake with a creepy air kiss then slipped her arm through mine.  She led us to the food marquee where she unashamedly flirted with the caterer before she forced a platter of appetizers under my nose.  The smell of crustacean and asparagus combined to send my head spinning and the momentum of my retreat was so forceful, the whole well- crafted arrangement crashed out of Lola’s hands and down to the decorative tiles.  My own projectile response then splashed to the concrete combining with the already destroyed hors d’oeuvres to create a random collage of modern expressionism.   As if in sympathy, the sky finally carried out its threat, dropping large splashing drops to herald a drenching shower.  A gust of wind picked up all the cowering fancy people and herded them indoors.
‘I’m sorry, Lola.’  I offered.  ‘This is your birthday and I’m sorry it’s turned. . .’
‘It’s always you, Maxine.  It’s always about you.
‘Me? But you’re the one who. . .’
‘You have it all.   You have your perfect life with perfect Blake.  You have everything,’ she spat.
Inside now, we were standing under a chandelier, paintings by the Dutch masters hung on the opposite wall, I could feel the carpet pile at my ankles and I had everything? 
 ‘What about your promotion?’ 
‘I screwed Tom for that.’
My ire rose to meet that shiny chandelier while my jaw fell to the lush carpet.
‘Why you nasty little tramp.’   They were my thoughts but not my words.  Fiona slapped Lola so hard she toppled and fell into the profiterole tower.  The air filled with pastry and the caterer’s expletives.  Covered in custard, Lola rose like a painted warrior to wrestle with Fiona before Tom took charge.   ‘Presents.  Let’s open your presents, shall we?’   The uncomfortable guests were thankful for the diversion.   I found Blake.  ‘Honey, can we go?’ 
‘Are you sure? 
‘I’m pregnant.’  At his excited whoop, the crowd turned in unison.
Poor Lola was right.  It was all about me. 

Word count:   390

Friday, 21 September 2012

Thanks everyone for your comments, feedback and encouragement.
I have replied to all of you, some through emails.  Still learning all this blogging stuff.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Romantic Friday Writers Challenge 'Oh, how I hated my beautiful friend.'

With no door to slam, I pushed a chair into the desk with the full force of my anger.  It crashed to attention, bounced back and slammed into my thigh.  Now I was injured and embarrassed and my jealousy was compounded by humiliation.  Lola stood grinning like an insane Cheshire cat.  As much as I wanted her to melt away as that iconic cat, I knew that like that cat, she would only reappear to surprise me.  Oh, how I hated my beautiful friend with her sleek hair bobbed under her ears framing her delicate features and her large dark eyes watching my reaction to her promotion.  It was always Lola.  Eighth grade spelling test: Lola; gymnastics prize: Lola; hit song by the Kinks in 1970:  L.O.L.A. Lola.
‘Be happy for me Maxine’, she simpered.
My salutation was false and tasted bitter.  ‘Congratulations, Lola.’
Satisfied we were companionable, Lola turned on her high heels and left through the sliding glass doors.  They parted reverently for her and judged me as they closed on my pettiness.  The bruise on my leg matched the one on my pride and there was a hole in my stocking.  I thumped the desk.  With each smack I was crushing Lola’s being, squishing that pretty face, grinding her to nothing.  I thumped until it was me I was squishing, me I was pounding to nothing.  That’s how Blake found me that evening, crumpled to nothing in the corner of our kitchen floor, jealousy and rage and a shredded school year book lying all about me.
‘Lola got it didn’t she.’
‘Like she always gets everything.’
‘Not me,’ he cooed, ‘Not tonight.’
As I melted into his chest, I knew he was right.
Tonight and forever I had the one thing Lola would never have.
Oh, I pitied my beautiful friend.

Word count:  304

Sunday, 2 September 2012

I should have kissed you.

‘I should have kissed you.’
‘I’m sorry did I say that out loud?’
‘Yes.  When should you have kissed me, Dave?
‘Before today. Before all this.’  Dave indicated the decorated church and the guests seated patiently in murmuring rows.
‘Kiss me now Dave.’
‘I can’t. Not like I want to.’
‘Then kiss me like I want you to.’
‘How’s that?’
‘Like a friend wishing me well on my wedding day.’
‘I know you would have kissed me back.’
‘No, Dave. It’s always been Brian.’
As she moved to meet his cheek, he turned his head and met her lips with his own.  Cupping her face he held it close.  All the years of friendship were now something else.  She pulled away from him with her hands pressed to her cheeks. 
‘I knew you’d kiss me back.’  He grinned.
‘All this time and I never knew.  Today of all days, you make me choose.’
‘There’s no choice, Lisa.  You will marry Brian.’
‘What about us?’
‘There was never any us.  It’s always been Brian, as you said.’
Dave turned away.   
‘Don’t leave me Dave.’
At the sound of her voice, he came close again.
‘I am leaving you Lisa.  I leave you and your faithless heart to the man you deserve.’
‘I don’t understand.’
‘It hasn’t always been Brian, has it?  I just proved a point.’
‘So you kissed her like that to prove a point?’  Brian entered the vestry.
‘Brian, don’t…’
‘It’s okay Lisa.  What point, Dave?’
‘You are both as fickle as each other.  And you… you…’  Dave punctuated the sentence with his index finger.
‘Ignore him, Lisa. Come on.’  They turned to enter the church.  Dave followed.
‘Hey, Brian, perhaps I should have kissed you!’
‘You slimy bastard.’  Brian turned and leapt. He landed in the aisle with Dave beneath him.
‘You take that back.’   His heavy fist found its mark.
‘Get off me Brian.’   Dave tasted blood in his mouth.
‘Do you yield?’ It was a question that carried their childhood and all their years of friendship with it.  During the pause that followed, Dave searched Brian’s face for truth.   Brian’s gaze remained steady and Dave had his answer.  Brian would be faithful.  Lisa was forgiven.
‘I yield.  Now get off me so we can get on with this wedding.’
The congregation once again in its place, Dave moved to his position at the front of the church speaking through his cut lip.    ‘Dear friends we are gathered here today...’

Sunday, 10 June 2012

My Perfect Ex - an experiment in expression

He has exited.  We are extinguished.
I had to extradite him.  What he had done was inexcusable.
The extraction was excruciating.
I was in exile.  I exfoliated.
I have extricated myself.
He is now extraneous to my existence.
I do not exaggerate when I say I am exceedingly excited about new excursions.
I was explaining my exhilaration to the point of exhaustion when the unexpected exploded.
Deus ex machina!
This one was excellent.
This one was exceptional.
I am no extrovert but I became exuberant and extended my expression to expedite a new experience.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Openings and setting the scene.   Let me know if you want to read more of this story

The sun took its time departing.  It did not want to say goodbye to the bright day, the first of the summer holidays, and so it lingered, reluctantly lifting its heat from the tin roof and regretfully moving out of the paddock to the horizon. It waved its final departure with one last pleading look before giving us the evening.   If it had known what the night held, it might have stayed a little longer to defend us.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

A man and a woman met in a bar on a rainy afternoon.   No, it’s not a joke but a writing challenge.  Three different pairs of characters and situations with this same premise.

She emerged from the bathroom reinvented.  The evidence of her recent misdemeanor was hidden well enough and she was concealed behind a new persona, which she must now validate.
She needed an alibi.   Someone must see her here at this hour so that her tracks were covered but the bar was deserted because of the weather.  Lashing rain and wind was keeping patrons away, save one brave soul who was shaking himself dry by the door.  She caught his eye and he followed her to the bar.  He arrived abruptly and replaced the drink in front of her with his department badge.  “Avril Harcourt you are under arrest….”

“Here’s to us.”  Thomas raised his glass and smiled across at his wife of forty years.  Sally was trying to read her husband’s mind  with the long look she gave him in reply.  “I love you, Tom.”  He reached for her hand but he was looking over the top of her head.  He’s so distracted tonight, Sally mused.  These past few weeks he’s been very secretive.  “Tom?”  She ducked her head and caught his eye.  He looked apologetic before he said,  “Let’s order shall we,” and hid furtively behind the menu.   She tried to pierce a hole in his shroud by glaring at the back of the wine list which he had raised between them.  Her concentration faltered and she turned abruptly at a commotion behind her, “Happy Anniversary Mum”.   She was overwhelmed by hugs and kisses and grandkids and offspring.   Tom lowered the menu and grinned wildly.  “Surprise.”

He had been here nearly two hours.  Waiting.  She wasn’t coming.  They never do.  An abrupt text had arrived in her stead.   She blamed the weather.  He had nowhere else to go so he stayed and ordered dinner and more drinks. 
“This is the last one,” said a voice above him.
“Yeah, me too. I am not answering anymore of those dumb lonely hearts ads.”
“No. I mean I finish in ten minutes.  Last order for drinks.”
He looked up and into a pair of soft brown pools that drew him in and almost drowned him with their caresses.
“Coffee,” she repeated.
“What?  No. I don’t drink coffee.  Your eyes… so brown…” His words hung unfinished as he returned to the dream which became a reality as she sat opposite.   “Jodi.”
“Sam.”  Time froze.
The breakfast crowd some hours later observed them there silhouetted in the window against the rising sun. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

I think I have had a submission accepted for our local arts alliance anthology.  I was asked to revise as per editor's suggestions and resubmit.   Watch this space!
Toolkit for Writers has begun at the Queensland Writers Centre and so I am busy doing homework relating to  Plot for tomorrow's class. It is the highlight of my week.  I am a sponge.  On my trip into the city by train, I know I am touching many stories as I observe fellow travellers and they move into my imagination to become my companions and characters on the page.  A leaky sponge.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Plausible Deniability

You can find short story response to an exercise from last week's Vannguard Writers Group meeting at the link below.

I love doing these exercises, discovering what is going to appear on the page from just three little prompts: romance novelist,  thief,  interrupted routine.