Wednesday Write-In #28

For those who aren’t familiar with the blog CAKE.shortandsweet, today’s blog post is an entry in their weekly writing exercise, Wednesday Write-In. Five words are given as writing prompts every week, and participants are asked to build a story around them. For your readin’ pleasure, then, I present to you my entry for the Wednesday Write-In #28. Enjoy!

 

farewell  ::  pocketful  ::  feeding  ::  thief  ::  maroon

 

‘Once, you know, I met the Colour Thief,’ she told me in a confidential tone.

‘The what?’ I said, struggling to pull the sheets across her bed. I could never get them quite straight, or quite tucked, enough.

‘The Colour Thief, darling,’ she chuckled from her chair by the window. ‘Such a handsome boy. But of course, I was a handsome thing myself, then.’

‘Nana,’ I said with a grunt of effort in my voice, ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about.’ She was doing this more and more lately, setting off on expeditions across memories where nobody could follow her. It didn’t worry her doctors, but it worried me.

‘Sit,’ she instructed, waving her hands at the crisply-made bed. ‘Sit, and I’ll tell you.’

I swallowed my discomfort, and sat on the sheets. They wrinkled around me like crows’ feet around an eye.

‘So.’ I said. ‘I’m listening.’

She didn’t seem to hear. She’d closed her eyes, and I watched as she dipped one velvety hand into the pocket of her dressing gown, before drawing it out and waving it gracefully towards me. It looked like she had a pocketful of seeds, and was using it to feed a flock of invisible birds. I tried to remain patient, but my eye was on the clock. I only had thirty minutes before I needed to be back at work.

‘Nana,’ I said, as gently as I could. I would need to speak to the doctor about this. ‘Tell me.’ She smiled, but I wasn’t sure she meant it for me.

‘His skin was blue,’ she began. Her voice was soft, but she spoke with quiet confidence. ‘He was blue as loneliness. He had green eyes – green like sunlight through trees, and like a deep breath on a warm day. He had black hair, down to his waist. It was the shadow of a gravestone, or a child’s nightmare.’ She paused for breath, still repeating that hand movement. It almost looked like a dance. ‘But he was missing one colour,’ Nana continued, speaking barely loud enough for me to hear. ‘My colour.’

‘What colour, Nana?’ I asked, in a breath. Was it me, or was this room cold? I made a note to speak to the nurse about it. I drew my cardigan tight.

‘Maroon,’ Nana replied after a moment. ‘The deepest red, with a touch of purple. He needed it, you see. For his collection.’

‘Collection?’ I felt a sudden pressure on my chest.

‘He had to have one of every colour, in every shade,’ she told me. ‘And what he was not freely given, he would steal. He had to. It was his nature, you see.’  I felt an oily sickness in my throat at her words.

‘Did he… did he hurt you, Nana?’ My vision blurred.

‘He was drawn to me,’ Nana continued. ‘He could feel the colour within me. He knew, you see,’ she said, as if she was talking to herself. ‘He could feel my passion, see the dark twist of it. See that it was just the shade he needed.’

‘So he took it?’ I felt wetness on my jawline from tears I didn’t know I’d shed.

‘He drew it from me like pulling thread from a spool,’ she said – and, as she spoke, she slowly, deliberately repeated her hand movement. This time, I finally saw what she was doing. She wasn’t feeding invisible birds. She was pulling something from the air and placing it in her dressing gown pocket. She was showing me she’d had something taken from her. My mind raced.

‘He prised it from me. My secret. The black-red of it, right out of my heart. He put it in his pouch, and turned to leave me.’ Nana paused again, her eyes still closed. ‘I asked him if he wasn’t even going to say ‘farewell’. So, he…’ she seemed to gasp for breath, and I jumped from my perch on her bed, desperate to help, but not knowing how. By the time I’d reached her side, she’d started speaking again. ‘He turned back just long enough to blow me a kiss. That was his farewell.’

‘Did you ever see him again?’ I wiped my face with the back of my hand. My Nana’s eyes were still closed. I wanted her to look at me, so badly.

‘Sometimes I miss what he took,’ she murmured. ‘But in another way, I don’t want it back.’ She settled into her chair and her hand drifted to her lap like a handkerchief coming to rest.

‘Nana?’ I said, gently touching her wrist. ‘Nana?’

Oh, thank God. She was sleeping. Just sleeping.

I switched my mobile to ‘silent’, and waited by her side until she woke.

 

 

23 thoughts on “Wednesday Write-In #28

  1. Fallible

    I like this. I got so hooked into the story-in-a-story I didn’t even notice the asides about the room temperature and tears until I read it the second time. I’ve no idea if that means they aren’t needed, or just points to good storytelling, but I certainly like it.

    Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thanks a lot. I’m glad you liked it. Usually if a reader skims over something it’s a sign that it’s unnecessary, I think – so I’ll bear that in mind next time. Thank you for your kind and helpful comment. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Elaine Peters

    I actually liked the comments on temperature etc, I thought they emphasised the contrast between the reality and the fantastical. Lovely.

    Reply
  3. beccaaudra

    Really like the narrative, the traditional story teller structure but put into a modern time so that the story’s power has to grow despite the lack of attention/belief. I love the strange gesture she keeps making; you could slow down the moment of realisation. ‘She plucked something from the air, handled it delicate as you’d pick a butterfly from a spider’s web, then placed it in her pocket. She was showing me she’d had something taken from her.’ You could play with the image, make it more violent, a more sudden transition from feeding birds to something more sinister.

    Ace story.

    Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Oh, wow. Thanks so much for this! You’re completely right about slowing down the moment of realisation – the way you’ve added to the image is absolutely perfect.

      Thanks a lot. I really appreciate this comment. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Elaine McKay

    I really enjoyed this. I thought the details of the concrete world served to show how uneasy the visitor was. I liked how the bed is never as neat as is desired,again revealing an uneasiness. The language you use to describe the grandmother’s tale is very effective. Well done.

    Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thanks! I’m glad you picked up on the image of the bed, and the granddaughter’s need to have it ‘perfect’ all the time. I particularly like that you picked it up as unease, which is pretty much exactly what I intended!

      Thank you. I really appreciate your comment. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Emmaleene Leahy

    I love this! It reminds me of a conversation I once had with someone in hospital about how the doctor brought her off in a helicopter to buy shampoo. I really like the idea of the colour thief and how you extended it eg. skin as blue as loneliness, it allowed for some great fantastical imagery. I also like the contrast between that dreamlike element and the real world in which it is based. The narrator’s uneasiness that grows to become anxiety and concern (about what her Nana is about to reveal) does a great job of creating tension which draws the reader right in. I also think the hand movement does the same thing by evoking curiosity in the reader. Well done Sinead!

    Reply
  6. Emmaleene Leahy

    Oops just posted twice; couldn’t see my 1st post so presumed it hadn’t worked and rewrote! Now when I reposted the 1st comment appeared!

    Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Sorry about that, Emmaleene! It must have been your first post here – the first posts always need moderation, but after that you’re usually able to post freely. Feel free to drop by again. 😉

      Thanks so much for your comments, and for your lovely words. Really glad you enjoyed my story. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Pingback: Wednesday write-in, only on Friday :) | Ania's Blog :-)

  8. anna3101

    Once I was done with my own story using these words, I am finally able to read yours. It’s brilliant! I really like how incredible your imagination is. And every time I deal with stories based on random words I cannot help being bewildered by how different the story of each person is. Same words – but no story is the same. You made me want to go and enroll to some creative writing classes, so that I could once again share this experience with other people and write these kind of stories 🙂

    Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thank you, Ania! *blush*

      I’m amazed by all the different ways the words were interpreted, too. If you have a look at the CAKE.shortandsweet blog, you can read the other entries. Every single one is different, and they’re all wonderful. It’s great to take part in such a positive thing. Maybe you should try it next Wednesday! 🙂

      Reply

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