For ten years Penelope weaves her tapestry daily, unpicking it nightly, while Odysseus, tossed by tide and fortune, struggles to reach home.
Landing, he slaughters her besieging suitors.
She’s furious. “Where have you been?”
Bristling, he retorts, “Haven’t you finished that darned tapestry yet?”
It’s like he’s never been away.
Viv Burgess is finding the brain cell is flagging a bit these days. She obviously needs more tea and cake.
Alice bunks off school. Going home is safe with parents at work. Entering the hall, she hears something upstairs.
Venturing up, Alice opens the bedroom door.
A strange woman looks back, shocked. She wears too much makeup.
“Who are you?”
“Alice…” the woman says.
It’s her father’s voice.
Viv Burgess worries about the characters she has pushed into the deep end.
On our secret stream, not dippers or kingfishers today but miraculously, a white egret, delicately probing reeds so close we stand transfixed.
LOOK, THERE’S A DUCK. A woman drags her child past us.
The flash and blur of feathers leaves me bereft.
No, not a duck, I say. A regret.
Viv Burgess says this actually happened and is still in mourning for the lost moment.
Hey, Famine? Death here. Got your diary? What about the 17th?
No, it’s weight watchers on Tuesdays. Next Friday?
Darn! Forgot Plague is off sick until next month.
What about War?
Her diary’s always full. She’s usually out somewhere, dressed to kill.
Lord, looks like we’ll have to postpone. Again.
Viv Burgess got this idea from the usual 80-email marathons trying to arrange a date to meet with three other women friends.
Once, Harry’s big sister told him, “Earwigs creep into people’s ears at night.”
Nightmares followed of scuttling legs, tickling feelers.
Phobic, Harry took to wearing earplugs, his excuse the need for quiet nights.
Earplugs worked admirably and kept the insects out, but also, sadly, the buzzing of the fire alarm.
Viv Burgess is thinking of demanding a promotional fee as half her family and friends are now all writing 50 word stories – and to top it all, better than her own. It is giving her brain cell a good work out though, she says.
He stands petrified and nauseous in an arc of blistering light.
The cold clutch of fear steals his breath as beyond, in darkness, the watchers wait expectantly for him to deliver all he knows.
Jolted, he surrenders. Words pour forth, unstoppable.
Then silence, tension, and the crack of thunderous applause.
Viv is still in Somerset and in state of shock that her story got chosen last month. Flushed with success and a bottle of plonk, she has had another go.
Nervously, in darkness, she waits on a park bench holding his photograph printed from the internet. Eventually, red carnation discarded, she trails disconsolately homeward.
Meanwhile, local traffic police pull a body from wreckage, note the crushed carnation, and discover in his pockets a woman’s photo, duct tape, and a knife.
Viv lives in Somerset, England, and is retired, but still nippy on her pins. She recently joined a writing class and has been trying out 50-word stories on her fellow writers, as her normal stories sent them to sleep. Viv has no pets, but has one partner and a garden full of birds that require daily feeding, as well as a love of books, Shakespeare, and treacle tart.