Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for Start: A Short Story

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge.

About a month ago, I participated in this short story competition. Mostly because it was free to enter, but also because I enjoy Dan Purdue's blog and his no-nonsense advice on writing. The theme for the competition was 'Start', and the world limit was 500 words.

Unfortunately, I left it too late to write the story, and didn't have enough time to edit it properly before sending it out. So I wasn't entirely happy with the product. Still, it turns out I made the long-list at least. I do wish I could have executed it slightly better. But maybe I'm not a good enough writer to convert this particular idea into reality. 

Here it is, for what it's worth.


Over the Brink

This room is better than the old one. A large window - barred, of course. Whitewashed walls. And a tree outside, with dark green leaves.


I like the tree. Except for the crows that live on it, at least a dozen of them. They sit on the branches and scream at me all day. They have it in for me, those crows.


I’ve complained to the orderly.

“Just ignore them,” he said, “You’ll get used to them soon.”

I wonder how he would look, hanging from that tree. The crows would pick his eyes out, and then his brains.


Fine, I’m going to ignore you, crows. This is me, ignoring you.

It was the lawyer who suggested it first - the insanity plea. I was fine with acting crazy - anything would’ve been better than that stinking dark jail.


Shut up, crows! Shut up shut up shut up!

I wish there was something to throw at you. There’s barely anything in this room. They’re afraid I’ll do something to myself, you see.


I guess that means I did a good job of pretending, back in the jail. It was difficult, because I couldn’t suddenly go insane in a day - too obvious. So I did it slowly.

I started off by shaking the bars and screaming constantly. Then I started tearing my clothes. I even bit a policeman once. The worst was when I smeared my own shit on myself - even the lawyer was shocked that day.


I enjoyed doing it though. It felt like I was starting a new life - being myself for the first time.


All those years in a suit, oh man. Waking up and getting dressed and going to work, just another sheep among the horde. No wonder I started doing other things for amusement. I bet everyone does it. I bet under all those black coats and blue suits, everybody is halfway to Crazyville.


Why you staring at me, crow? It’s not enough to scream in my ear night and day? Come here, crow. Come here, there’s a good crow. Look, I’ll climb up on the window sill for you. You want to scream at me? I’ll scream right back at you.


You can’t caw louder than me. You want it louder, crow?


God, that feels good. It feels like it used to feel before, in the jail. I used to just scream all day back then.


Look crow, look down there. People down there are looking up at me, looking and pointing. The orderlies are running inside. See crow, that’s the difference between you and me. You’ve been up here cawing at me all day and nobody cared. I do it for five minutes, and people notice.


The orderlies will be here any moment now. But for now, I’m going to scream with you. Look out, crows. I’ve got it in for you! I can scream louder than you!


• • •


Sherri Lackey said...

It definitely has potential, you should keep developing it even though the contest is over.