Writing 101: Day FIVE: SHORT FICTION
Writing 101: Day Five: Be BRIEF
Today’s Prompt: You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.
Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.
None of us will ever know the whole story in other words. We can only collect a bag full of shards that each seem perfect.
— From 100 Word Story‘s About page
A Cry for Help : The Note
I was sitting in the park, immersed in my book when a piece of paper came fluttering in the breeze and fell near me. I would have ignored it, but there was a red skull-and-crossbones drawn on it with crayons and a straggly ‘help‘ written across the page. Curiosity piqued, I picked it up. On the bottom left hand corner was scribbled, ’23 F, Longview Road‘. It seemed like the handwriting of a child. My mind filled with images of little ones being abused or tortured, I looked up towards the apartment buildings next to the park. They were all on Longview Rd. and they all looked the same. Which 23 F could it be ? No harm in taking a look, is there ? I walked towards the exit gate of the park and I saw an open window with pink curtains, facing the corner I had just vacated
Luckily there was a lift. I reached floor F and there was 23 — locked! Curiouser and curiouser. As I turned to go down, I heard the sound of a sniffle, a child sobbing. My heart thudded with apprehension, was a child being held prisoner? Was it kidnapped? Should I call the police ? As I stood uncertainly, wondering what to do, about to knock on the locked door, the lift opened and a middle-aged, harried looking woman got out. She stared at me, while inserting a key to the locked door. ‘Excuse me, do you live here?’. She nodded, her arm filled with groceries. ‘Who is inside? Is it your child ?’ She nodded and then frowned at my questions, a little puzzled, but no sign of guilt, whatsoever. ‘Seasoned,’ I thought to myself. ‘Why did you lock your child in ?’. She looked scared now. Aha, now I’ve got her. She advanced near me and asked in a dignified manner, ‘Are you the Social Services lady?’ I gave her a vague nod that could mean either a ‘yes’or a ‘no’. She started explaining, ‘I have to lock her in when I go out to buy groceries and medicines because it’s just across the corner and no one will baby-sit her for that short while. Please try and understand.’ Hmmm. That sounded reasonable. ‘ I can hear your child cry’, I told her sternly. ‘Oh that’s because of Priscilla, she must have got out of reach again. Come in and I will show you.’
There was a small girl with two pigtails and big glasses sitting on a bed, her legs thin and bony. Next to her was a window and pink curtains fluttering. Beside it was a small ledge and there I could see a small kitten, stuck at an odd angle, neither in or out. ‘That is Priscilla,’, the mother said, as though it explained everything. It did actually!
© Lakshmi S. Menon & SEAMLESS WRITING