SHORT STORY CHALLENGE


When P’Kaboo Publishers invited bloggers to submit short stories for visitors to read free for a month, and for possible inclusion in a compilation to be published in due course, I looked at the high quality of what they had already received and wondered if I dared try any of my lightweight tales.  Anyway, I dusted off a story I had previously blogged entitled Wedding Portrait, which was accepted.  That inspired ambition to write another, The Stalker, which also appeared.

I still hadn’t quite shaken off the bug, though, and have now written another lightweight romance of 1274 words, as hereunder.  Do you think I should put it forward as well?  Do you find it entertaining?  Do you think more than two stories by any one author in a book of short stories would put people off?

Feedback, please!

 And before I launch into the story, why don’t some of you bloggers also send in a tale?  I’ve recently seen quite a few stories on blogs which I’m sure qualify, or which show the ability to turn out something which would.  

 Ice Dancers, Danse sur Glace, Ijsdansen, Jäätanssi, Patinação Artística, Patinage Artistique

FIFTH DATE

Deon noticed her immediately as she made her way out towards the parking, battling with an apparently faulty shopping trolley.  In fact, he slowed his steps to enjoy the view.  There was something about her whole bearing and appearance which he found appealing from the first glance.

Then the fates were kind to him.  The trolley shed a wheel, and the whole thing tipped over, spilling contents in all directions.  She said an unladylike word, but he liked the voice with which she said it.  It was cultured and pretty, to match her red-headed good looks.

He managed to get there just before a parking attendant, who took the hint from his glare and backed off.  ‘Let me help you,’ he invited.  ‘Hang on, and I’ll fetch a better trolley.’  Again luck favoured him, and he quickly found an abandoned one without having to go to the trolley bay.

While he was helping to transfer the contents they made tentative conversation on the weather and the heavy traffic that day.  Then the replacement trolley was ready to go, and so was she.  ‘Thanks very much for your help,‘ she said, and started off.

‘Can I walk you to your car?’ he asked, and she looked at him suspiciously.  ‘Look, I’m not trying to pick you up … oh, why start with lying; of course I am, but in a harmless kind of way.’  She threw back her head and laughed, and soon the two were chatting in friendly fashion as they made their way to her fairly distant parking spot.

All too quickly the shopping had been transferred to the car.  ‘Can I see you again, soon – perhaps we can go out somewhere?  I’m Deon Robertse,’ he blurted.

‘Tanya O’Brien,’ she responded.  ‘Do you skate?’

‘I haven’t for a while, but I enjoy it,’ Deon said eagerly.

‘Right, then, at the rink in this mall at seven tomorrow evening suit you?  I’ve recently been skating two or three evenings a week.’

As he watched her drive away, Deon found himself with a mixture of excitement, and fear that he was yet again making a mistake.  The last few girls he had gone out with had all turned out rather boring and (he wondered if there was something wrong with him as he admitted it to himself) so eager for sex it had quite put him off.

By the next evening he was in a fever of anticipation.  There had been something about Tanya which had really seemed special, and when she arrived – exactly on time, he noticed – he was delighted to find that she was every bit as attractive and fascinating as he remembered.  ‘Glad you made it,` she greeted simply, but from the way her face lit up she seemed to mean it.

She was a good skater, and once he had got rid of some of the rust so was he. They had some wonderful exercise during the speed sessions, and moved sedately in perfect harmony together when all-comers were on the ice.

After the rink closed they invited one another to a late supper at one of the restaurants, both at the same time.  ‘No, this one is definitely on me,’ Deon insisted, ‘but,’ (pushing his luck) ‘we can mostly go Dutch on the next times if you prefer?’

To his great delight she nodded, so there was no argument that there would be a next time.  In fact this next date was set, after an evening during which Deon was quite sure he had fallen in love, for the Thursday two days hence.

Deon was filled with impatience to see her again, and counted the hours.  His expectations were not disappointed. The date was, if that were possible, even better than the first one had been.  They did less skating, and more talking, ranging over a wide spectrum of subjects and finding that they had much in common.  The one area she seemed to skate away from (as he told himself with a wry smile) was personal things like her own home and family, although she probed him to tell her about his.

The magic seemed to stop when they met on the Saturday afternoon, though.  This time, she was a bit late, and she seemed preoccupied, giving quite a start when he went up to her eagerly to hug her.  Her skating wasn’t as good as it had been before, either, and their conversation over their meal afterwards somehow seemed stilted and disjointed.  They no longer appeared to be so exactly on the same wavelength, and he felt a bitter sense of loss.

When they parted, it was she who said, ‘Tuesday evening again?’

He had almost been about to avoid setting another date, but then thought, ‘Oh, why not.  She’s still great company, even if not quite like before, and anyway it’s getting me fitter than I’ve been for quite a while.’

The same strange disappointment was in store on Tuesday.  She had arrived before him this time, and as he came up to her he noticed that she had done something to her hair and was looking particularly gorgeous. Even so, the electricity simply wasn’t there, either in their pairs skating or in the conversations during and after.  At the end of the evening it was again she who set the next date, saying, ‘Can we make it Friday instead of Thursday?   It fits in better with … something special … I am hoping will be happening then.’  Deon agreed, puzzled but with no particular enthusiasm.

His enthusiasm went down even further when he happened to spot her leaving the library the next day in the company of a good-looking young man.  Although they weren’t embracing, they seemed to have the sort of intimacy which spoke of a relationship – and he was quite sure it wasn’t a brother/sister one.

He told himself, then, that the fifth date would be the last, because it seemed that things were going nowhere.  His feelings during the first few meetings had, he decided, simply been delusions.

From the moment she arrived, though, exactly on time, it seemed that the old magic was back tenfold.   He found himself completely bewitched by her every word and gesture, and the two of them blended so well on the ice that the management asked them to do an exhibition ten minutes.

Afterwards they went to their usual table, and he said outright, ‘Has something been wrong lately?  You just haven’t been yourself, somehow, and … oh, I don’t know … how on earth can love switch on and off like this?’

As soon as he had blurted the last part he could have bitten his tongue off, but to his surprise she was smiling radiantly at him.  ‘I think, because it really is love,’ she said hesitantly.  ‘Oh, I do hope you’re going to take this as well as both the others did when we came clean about our little test.’  With that she stood up and lifted a thumb high in the air.

Immediately a group of four people got up at the far side of the room and started coming across, all smiling broadly.  Deon goggled, and made strangled noises.  There was Tanya with the man he had seen her with at the library.  Then there was another Tanya with a young man he thought was vaguely familiar – surely from when he used to go to the rink quite a while before he met Tanya?

The penny dropped.  ‘Identical triplets!’ he gasped.  ‘Oh, you vixens!’ and he grabbed Tanya and kissed her soundly to show how angry he was.

 © October 2012 Colonialist (WordPress/Blogs24)

About colonialist

Active septic geranium who plays with words writing fantasy novels and professionally editing, with notes writing classical music, and with riding a mountain bike, horses and dinghies. Recently Indie Publishing has been added to this list.
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40 Responses to SHORT STORY CHALLENGE

  1. Pingback: Short Story Project and other Submissions « the red ant

  2. I love his response, Col.Vixens, indeed 😀

    Like

  3. Ruth2Day says:

    great story, never saw that end coming. For sure submit it 🙂

    Like

  4. Marco says:

    Nice one, Col! Submit submit submit – not sure if I read the other 2 stories, I’m going to have to do some digging *damn you my gold fish memory, damn you! um what was I just on about?*

    Like

    • colonialist says:

      Thankee – the other two are linked on their names if you have the stamina and fortitude. Or fiftitude. Hey, pay attention!

      Like

      • Marco says:

        But of course – will check them out soon as I have a chance to do so. What was I saying? LOL – guess it’s that time of the year now.

        Like

  5. The Asian says:

    Very nice twist at the end, I never would have guessed that. I’ll give the other two a read if I’ve got some free time this weekend.
    I should also work on “grave mistake”. Most importantly, it needs a proper name! 🙂

    Like

  6. SidevieW says:

    hehe, very cute

    Like

  7. arkenaten says:

    Honestly? I felt The Stalker was better. By far.
    The writing here is your usual high standard yet I guessed the outcome quite early on. Maybe because i have grown acustomed to your style? Or maybe you have used a similar theme – the multiple girlfiend – somewhere else?
    All the same, judging by the rest of the commens I am in a minority of 1 so what the heck do I know, right? LOL
    I’m sure Kalinka will stamp it with a seal of approval. If not a seal then maybe a penguin or pola bear.

    Like

    • colonialist says:

      Ah, but the problem here is that not only are you a writer, but one with a nasty twisted mind like mine. Therefore the clues which I felt obliged to leave appeared in LARGE UPPERCASE to you. I don’t believe in the Agatha Christie style where you don’t leave any, and eventually select your culprit at random.
      No, I use twins (or near-twins) both in the Tabika series and in Forest Circle Quest, but I don’t recall having written about multiple girlfriends before.
      As long as it isn’t greeted with a whale … er, wail!

      Like

      • arkenaten says:

        Well, if you didn’t use twins or some such in another story then where on earth did I get that idea from? I know I never used this theme. Most odd.

        i read somewhere that one of the supposed fundamental writing ‘laws’ is to make sure the reader knows what supposed to be going on almost from the off? But this seems the other extreme to Christie.

        PS How do we compare twisted minds?

        Like

        • colonialist says:

          How/why has your blog suddenly vanished with the information that it has been deleted? I went to try and read the latest Identity Cry Sies, posted yesterday, and there it was – gone!

          Like

  8. Barb says:

    You betcha. Send it in. Let the editors decide how many submissions by one author they allow. Great twist.

    Like

  9. 68ghia says:

    Cute story Col ;-). Submission should be par for the course!
    The last time I had problems with my supermarket trolley was when I fell off one… And there were no handy gentlemen to help me up – just an embarassed kid 😉

    Like

  10. gipsika says:

    🙂 I love that twist in the end, totally unexpected. Very well done. (One looks for all sorts of explanations, but – that one just never crosses one’s mind.) Thanks for posting!

    Like

    • colonialist says:

      Thanks! It seems Ark had it taped very early on. The risk is always there – I did play fair with the clues!

      Like

      • gipsika says:

        🙂 On re-reading I found two clues. This is like Easter-egg hunting! But… I know how that works. If people have been thinking about e.g. Enid Blyton’s Terrible Twins recently they will jump to that conclusion.
        (Others have mentioned it in the comments so I guess by the time they’ve read this comment they already know. Anyway they ought to read the post first!)

        Like

  11. Harmony says:

    I read Wedding Portrait on that site a while ago, sorry I didn’t even realise it was written by you! I thoroughly enjoyed it and wished it were much longer. I’ll definitely give Stalker and Fifth Date a read later.

    Like

  12. footsy2 says:

    Oh yes. Do submit.

    Like

  13. Yes, submitting it is a must. 🙂
    *Hugs*

    Like

  14. Hey, it’s a story with a plot, real people, some conflict, some tension, nice humour and a brilliant ending. And it’s well written. Soo…why hesitate. I think it’s a winner! Well done. And yes, sure, I’ll give it a twirl…thanks.

    Like

  15. nrhatch says:

    Col, it’s a brilliant story. Definitely submit it . . .

    Like

  16. susielindau says:

    Thanks for sharing the link! Congrats to you~!

    Like

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