Another month goes by, and another Furious Fiction entry appears on my blog.
Usually things calm down at work around November/December, but not this year. Reports, marking, writing assessments, a pay new Award to be voted on, whole-year assemblies, Christmas ridiculousness, my annual Year 10 Short Film Festival (and I mean mine because I organise it, curate it, and run it by myself every year), and a whole bunch of other things all got in the way of actually having proper time to write at the start of this month.
In fact, I got myself in a little bit of trouble with my wife this year, because I had the choice to either help with the Christmas tree, or write a story.
I gave up on this story about five times on Sunday, and has just set up the tree with my darling wife, having given up on actually submitting for December, when I was compelled by the writer in my to just get something on the page. So I did.
An hour and a half later, I had a story finished (although I just realised I had read the last prompt incorrectly, which is unbelievable). It’s not particularly good or particularly interesting, and it’s honestly a little saccharine for my taste, but I managed to write it and that, I feel, is what matters.
This is what we were asked to do:
- Each story had to include SOMETHING EITHER BEING SENT OR RECEIVED IN THE MAIL.
- Each story had to include the following words: JINGLE, CLICK, BUMP, SIZZLE (plurals or -ing variants are allowed).
- Each story’s final sentence had to contain exactly THREE words.
I thought that final prompt said “first”, not “final”. Silly me.
I don’t think it would have changed anything though, and you all still have a story to read.
Merry Christmas, or whatever you celebrate even if it’s just having some time off.
I will aim to read the prompt properly next month, and maybe have a shot at the getting shortlisted!
Dear Eugene – A Christmas Tale
It was bumping.
The package was bumping.
Back and forth, never stopping, ever since I’d brought it in from the summer heat. I could almost hear the sizzle of the asphalt as I opened the door to collect the damn thing from the footpath and I wondered how the post-person walked the streets without their shoes sticking to the road and holding them there while the sun beat down and their skin started to blister and crack and their hair turned bleach-blonde and their tongue dried out and-
I took a breath.
And who in the name of all things holy could convince Australia Post to deliver on Christmas Eve when they couldn’t even deliver anything I had actually ordered on time when I needed it delivered?
Outside the familiar jingle of an ice-cream truck beckoned and lured me from my panic, if only momentarily.
I breathed deeply again, and turned to focus on the problem at hand. The package sat restlessly on the table, rocking back and forth.
I had to do something – I couldn’t just leave it sitting there.
I lunged at it, tearing its brown paper with a kind of manual dexterity that would have made any PE teacher smile approvingly, and propelling the package’s contents onto the ground next to me. I stood, frozen, not sure of what to do next.
Breathe, I thought, and complied.
I complied again.
Laying on the floor was a little golden cat, its eyes swinging one way and its tail the other.
The cat reclined, bumping from side to side in its clear plastic box next to the torn packaging I had dumped on the floor and a little folded note.
A note. A note in a box with a golden cat inside, dumped on my doorstep on Christmas Eve could not be a good note because unexpected notes are always-
Reaching down to pick up the note, I noticed the paper was silky to the touch. It was folded twice, deliberately and precisely with all the sides lined up perfectly. I liked that. I knew where I stood with nicely folded paper.
The paper opened smoothly, and on it was written a message. I recognised the handwriting, and a feeling of relief washed over me like a cool shower after a hot Christmas lunch.
“Dear Eugene,” the note read – and I could hear the composer’s soft voice in my head despite her absence, “I hope you’re well. I am sorry I can’t be there for Christmas this year. I really don’t want you to be lonely.
“But I hope this will brighten your day just a little. It’s a cat, from Japan of all places! Sent express just for you!”
I reached down and took the cat out of the box clicking off the little switch on its back. The cat stopped and sat serenely on the table, smiling softly.
“Anyway, I’ve got to run. Merry Christmas Eugene – I’ll be thinking of you.