I bought a second hand book on creative writing in the op shop this week, and it has a number of exercises to work through. The first is to write a short story about the view from a window, in first person, and restricting yourself to just the view from the window. I thought about it for a bit, and came up with a germ of an idea. Now when I was browsing the net at work I found a contest for flash fiction, and have decided to write the idea up to less than 350 words, the limit, and put it in the contest. The serendipity is a bit too good to ignore. The idea isn’t enough for a longer story, at least I don’t think so, but 350 words should be OK. Obviously they have to be well crafted and honed.
I don’t know why I’m here. I know where I am, in hospital, but I don’t know why. Nor do I know how long I’ve been here for, at first I was unconscious, but it’s been at least a week since I woke up.
They don’t know I’m awake, the nurses and doctors. I can’t move to tell them. They come and go through the day, taking my temperature and pulse, adjusting knobs and dials on the machines around me. There is a drip stand next to the bed, feeding fluid into my arm, which they check regularly and change when it is empty.
I lie here, looking through the window in the wall opposite the bed. There is not what you would call a view to look at. Just a piece of brick wall, about 10 feet away from the window. Nothing ever goes between the wall and the window, so I’m guessing it’s not a ground floor window, or even a first floor one. On sunny days a shadow moves across the wall during the day, it must be the shadow of the building I am in. I watch the wall all day. I’m often awake before daylight, and I see the first golden tinge of sunshine on the bricks. The sun is still low in the sky, and the angle of the light emphasises the texture of the wall, throwing shadows into the lines of mortar between the bricks. It’s the same in the evening from the opposite direction. When there is no sun the wall seems flat . some days I can tell that there are clouds moving across the sky, as shadows come and go over the wall. Yesterday there was no sun, and several times it rained. I watched as it started, seeing the first dark flecks appear on the brickwork as drops of water hit, more and more until the whole wall was glistening and dark blood red. Then as suddenly the rain stopped, and slowly the wall changed colour again as it dried, until it was pale as usual.
for some reason I can’t help studying the wall. Granted it’s all I have to look at, I can’t move my head enough to look around the rest of the room. There is a loose piece of mortar in the bottom left hand corner which really bugs me. The bricks are laid in a slightly unusual pattern called Monk bond. That thought comes to me from I know not where, and suddenly reality hits me.
I know why I’m here. I’m a steeplejack.
This needs a lot of work I’m sure. In my head this is the 1950s or 1960s, I don’t think they have steeplejacks these days. Need to be more descriptive to make the era obvious. I’m not sure I’m a story writer at all, let alone flash fiction or short stories. Obviously for short stories or flash fiction every word has to count.I decided to not put this in the contest I read about, too much of a rush apart from any other considerations. I might finish this sometime and get some feedback from the group, but I think for this month I’m probably going to write an article, although it will have to be quick now. Also I promised to look at the options for putting an anthology together, printing and binding etc. Haven’t done that yet, so need to get my skates on with that too!
This is a photo of a Geraldton wax currently flowering in my garden. This particular bush is quite old and leggy, but is flowering particularly well this year.