I’ve got so much work to do today, all on my keyboard. I’m behind in most of my writing tasks. But I was given a fillip of joy yesterday evening, and early this morning I think I’ve managed to finesse my 500 word short story with the grace of an additional 50.
The task was to create a short story exhibiting some passionate concern, without revealing the author’s deep feeling. I couldn’t get the ending right, and I kept banging up against the 500 word barrier.
I’d mentioned my difficulty to another member of the writing group, and eventually she twigged my misconception; ‘It’s 550 words, didn’t you know?’
So I set to, and my story got its ending. I still feel I’m revealing too much of the author’s personal feeling, but at least it’s a story now, a beginning, a middle, and an end with a twist.
Since there’s no embargo on this story, no competition results to wait for, I can serve it up here, and so I will. That’s another little bit of joy for today as well.
Where we belong
Betty pulled her seatbelt around her shoulder and settled back into the passenger seat on the right side of their ancient motorhome. Bill honked the horn as he eased old Harry Hymer past the neighbours, who waved them off down the long track.
‘Did you remember to lock and block the fridge door, Mister?’
Bill grimaced at his long-suffering partner of forty years.
He held his breath as he eased the big vehicle through the tight field gate and then let out a little sigh.
‘We’ll make our final checks at the bottom, shall we. Can we try to think of anything we might have forgotten? Last chance!’
‘You know we’ll never get back up this bit, fully laden like, so whatever’s forgotten will have to stay here.’
‘Ah, right you are. But let’s just stop anyway, make sure all is safely stowed, get the music sorted, catch our breath, and then we’ll be off, okay?’
The final check was just a formality, and Harry Hymer lurched onto the road.
‘We’re off! Europe, here we come!’
‘I can’t believe we’re going to be gone for so long!’
Betty pursed her lips and perched her feet on her little stool.
‘But it’s worth it if you can just get better.’
‘I feel better already dear, better already.’
‘Maybe, sweetie, could you find that Willie Nelson number, On the Road Again, was it?’
The twang of the guitar and Willie’s nasal drawl chimed with the feeling in the cab. By evening they were boarding the big ferry for Santander.
‘Spain next stop!’
Betty beamed at her laughing man.
‘I’ve got a surprise for you for dinner tonight!’
Over a delightful evening meal served in the posh restaurant onboard, they went through their itinerary.
‘After resting at the first campsite, right, we’ll head for the Picos los Picos de Europa, and mosey along to Santiago de Compostela where The Way finishes, and then we’ll turn left and head down to the Portuguese border and that lovely village you found, what was it called?’
‘Ah, Góis, with the river beach?’
‘Perfect, perfect, six weeks or more?’
‘Seems like an awfully long time.’
* * *
The couple did stay in Góis for nearly six weeks, until the habitation water manifold froze, cracked, and they had to dash home, back up the French coast through Belgium to Amsterdam, where they caught the ferry home. They both agreed that next time they’d do more skipping about from country to country. The future’s wide open, or so they thought.
They made even more plans: ferry from Cairnryan to Belfast, then a drive through Ireland to Cork, overnight to Spain, across to Barcelona where they’d embark for Sardinia, on to Citivecchia and back through Tuscany, France and home. The Grand Tour.
‘It’s like exploring our shared heritage, isn’t it? All that history, man!’
Betty looked up at her partner; he was putting on weight — his excitement made her smile.
As it turned out, they didn’t skip about in Europe after all; they didn’t feel comfortable about that prospect anymore, and Bill refused to take the GB sticker with the starry circle off Harry Hymer’s backside.
Instead they travelled throughout Scotland, where they felt welcome, where, they said to each other, we feel like we belong.