Only Half the Story

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Only Half the Story

Post by DavidK on Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:07 am

Only Half the Story

I have an embarrassing complaint – Premature Completion. No sniggering at the back. This is no laughing matter.

Writers are human. We have our strengths and weaknesses. I can create characters, put them in situations of conflict, and add a liberal smattering of jokes. When it comes to completing the dramatic arc, resolving the conflict in a satisfactory manner, drawing a conclusion that tells us something about the human condition, I’m at a loss. Sadly the demand for stories with a beginning and a middle is negligible.

There is no logical reason for this deficiency. I have a brain and an imagination. This time it’s going to be different. Here I go. Wish me luck.

Abigail considered herself one of the luckiest people on Earth. She had agonised about terminating the unwanted pregnancy and decided not to. Now little Paul was the light of her life.

The only other person she truly cared about was her mother, despite the debilitating effect of the old lady’s Alzheimer’s.

Abigail was able to care for her two loved ones while working from home as a Graphics Designer. She no longer worked at the cutting edge, but was grateful for the opportunity to do something she enjoyed and which more than paid the rent. There were, however, rumours of impending redundancies.

On the fateful morning she was working to a tight deadline, preparing some work for Moonlight  Desserts.  Paul sat in his playpen failing to build a tower of Lego bricks. Her mother sat in her rocking chair, staring into the fire and cackling. Abigail took this to be a good sign as Mum was not in obvious discomfort.

Having spent the first half of the morning getting her charges washed, dressed and breakfasted, washed up the plates and cutlery, wiped down the work surfaces and hoovered up the spillages, she was at last making progress with her Project.

Paul let out a scream. He had contrived to cut a finger on a rogue carpet tack, which he had unearthed in the playpen, and there was blood. Mum joined in the screaming. Abigail dropped what she was doing, ran over to the playpen and picked up Paul. The finger was duly kissed better and a little Elastoplast applied while Paul was told what a brave soldier he was. She then turned her attention to Mum who was still visibly and audibly upset. She stroked Mum’s thin grey hair and kissed her forehead. Mum should really be in a home. But not yet, not yet.

Her concentration broken, Abigail took a moment to sit down in the armchair and literally put her feet up. She had reserved a precious Mars bar for just this moment. She tore the wrapper off and took a bite. She could swear she felt the sugar rush immediately. Just then the doorbell rang. She put down the Mars bar, returned Paul to the playpen and left the room to answer the call. She had only been gone two minutes, but when she came back….. when she came back…..

Bugger, not again. I had that dreaded sensation of crashing into a wall in slow motion. I like these people. I want to know what happened next. Who was that at the door? Think.

Nothing. Despair. There must be a way out of this. And then it hit me. Through my day job I had contact with a wide range of authors. All I had to do was ask their advice and write up the best suggestion. Where to begin?

I fired off an email to a selection of my favourite authors. The gist of their replies was as follows.

Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials)

Paul had completed building the Lego tower and fused it together with the melted chocolate. Allied to his super-natural powers, the tower was now a mind-enhancing wand. He aimed it at Mum’s forehead and before their very eyes, the rocking stopped, the old lady turned and said “Good Morning Abi. I don’t tell you often enough how much I love you”, before picking up a pen and rattling through the Guardian’s Killer Sudoku.

Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler’s Wife)

The figure sitting in the playpen was a young man in a pin-striped suit with a white shirt and dark tie. “Hi Mum” he smiled as Abigail entered the room, “I can’t stay long, I’ve got the Monitory Policy Committee in thirty years, but thanks for everything”. The person sitting in the rocking-chair bore a strong resemblance to Abigail’s mother, but was a young woman in the full flush of youth. “Time I took care of you for a while, darling” she said. Abigail noticed that her own hands were mottled and wrinkled. She wasn’t sure who the occupants of the room were, but she felt a warm glow suffuse her aging bones .

The Mars bar had regressed into a small cocoa plant.

E. L. James (Fifty Shades of Grey)

Mum was lying stretched out on the floor, pleasuring herself with the Mars bar. Paul was filming the performance on Abigail’s mobile phone.

Leaving no stone unturned I contacted Mystic Minnie the Motherwell Medium. The spirit of John the Baptist entered Minnie’s body and used her fingers to type out…

….. when she came back Paul was playing happily in his playpen. Mum was rocking contentedly by the fire. The armchair had disappeared under a mountain of Mars bars, five New York bagels and two fish suppers - sufficient to feed the nation’s hungry.

Now I was spoiled for choice. I could see the potential attraction in the suggested scenarios for the space cadet, romantic, porn again and Born Again markets. Pity I couldn’t weave them all into one short story.

DavidK

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Re: Only Half the Story

Post by Graham on Tue Feb 27, 2018 8:12 pm

Very inventive, and it works perfectly for what you seem to intend, a tongue in cheek piece making fun of your supposed writing predicament.

What I was trying to say in class and not succeeding was that some of the writing would lend itself to a more genuinely emotional story, if you wanted to write that.

Now in the spirit of nit-picking: (and with the proviso that one man’s nit is another’s choice morsel)

‘On the fateful morning’ - what fateful morning? there having been no other reference to it, it sounds odd.
‘Cackling’ sounds a bit jarring and implies quite advanced Alzheimer’s
Project - why a capital letter
Mars bar and Paul - he’d probably want a bite. The inference is she has put him down already but clearly not, as she does so later.
‘Aimed at Mum’s forehead.’ In this context wouldn’t it be Granny’s forehead.
Monitory or monetary?

To be honest, in a humorous piece, I would skim over all these without noticing. But do you want to write something else?

Graham
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