In my last monthly mindscape post I commented that February would probably be ‘just as cold and dark as January, but feel a little more bearable’. Well, how wrong was I! We’re currently enjoying balmy temperatures of 17 degrees and beautiful sunshine-y days.
Aside from the slight frown of concern about what this means for climate change and global warming… I’ll admit it’s done wonders for my mood. The month has flown by as it always does in comparison to never-ending January, but I’m pleased we’re here and are settling in for another short snippet of fiction.
This month I chose an image from Rosie O’Neill (@rosieoneilluk) who I’ve been following for some time now. Her images always speak to my aesthetic taste, her writing always sparks inspiration and I love seeing her show up and be more visible on Instagram.
As a fellow writer who has managed to pen four novels (which to me, someone who always sticks to short stories, is nothing short of incredible!) I thought Rosie might appreciate my attempt of turning one of her images into a story.
Let’s get going then shall we? As always, there’s no planning or drafting, just a picture as a prompt and a calming Spotify playlist as my backdrop…
She pressed her thumb into the crumbs left by her cake, lifting them to her tongue in the hope that she would enjoy the sugary remnants. Like the words she was trying to get down on paper though, they lacked substance.
Her head was aching and her coffee cup was empty. Frowning, she closed her notebook and decided a change of scenery might help. The white walls of her rented flat felt particularly uninspiring right now.
Packing a bag she headed to her local cafe. Ordering the largest coffee she could, she got it to-go and headed outside. Her body was craving fresh air, sunlight and human connection. Well as much human connection as she could get without actually speaking to anyone.
Walking through the park she took deep breaths and welcomed the unseasonably warm sun rays hitting her face. She sat on a bench and took a few moments to watch the scene in front of her unfurl.
There was a happy couple playing with a dog and a less happy couple arguing about something inaudible. There was a man reading a book under a tree and two women laughing while jogging.
Sipping her coffee (which was still too hot and burnt her tongue) she noticed birds chatting away in the trees and squirrels playing hide and seek with toddlers. Everyone seemed to be brimming with happiness.
Thinking about the ending of her book, all signs were pointing to something happy. A neat paragraph that indicated a long happy life lead by all characters involved. But something inside kept tugging her away from this idea.
It felt too shiny, too predictable. Her characters were messy, their lives were complicated and tangled, like the chain of your old necklace. She had simply given their stories structure to make it appear less messy.
Reading over the last few lines in her notebook in this new environment, she saw them with fresh eyes. They felt unfinished… but, looking around, suddenly that felt OK. All of the stories she was watching in the park were unfinished.
She would never know if that happy couple would go home and fight over what to have for dinner. She would never hear what it was the unhappy couple were arguing about or whether or not they made up later, cosying up in front of Netflix. She wouldn’t find out what the man reading thought of his book or what the women jogging were laughing about.
To finish their stories, she would have to fill in the blanks and use her imagination. So maybe the readers of her novel could do the same.
With that thought she closed her notebook, went home and retrieved the last slice of cake from the back of the fridge. All that work had given her an appetite.
Ahh, that was nice. It always feels good to write about characters who are creative. Big thank you to Rosie for the inspiration, do check out her website if you can.
This was also slightly inspired by my current read, Normal People by Sally Rooney which follows the lives of a couple in snippets over the years. As someone who is a fan of snippets, I’m loving it. What stories have you loved lately?
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