The Meeting

Hello,

This story was meant to be my entry into a recently closed competition. A combination of fear and lack of planning found me missing the deadline. Nevermind.

So, here is the latest draft. It concerns a man who is going to meet his new girlfriend’s parents for the first time. And when I say new, she is almost brand new, and he is not sure if he should go through with it or wait a bit longer.

Is she looking at me? Darren thought as he waited at the bar. His hands began to shake as he straightened his shirt and watched her approach.

“You dancing?” she said.

He shook his head.

“Fair enough. Would you like a drink?” She said with a smile. They talked for a while and bought each other drinks before exchanging numbers.

“What’s your name?” Darren said.

“Lucy.” She kissed him on the cheek and his stomach jumped as he watched her leave the bar.

“That’s new.” He said.

*

Over the next six days, they met three times and texted nonstop. Every morning he woke up more alert than the last as he eagerly checked his phone.

Exactly a week later they met again on Saturday for drinks. He suggested the same bar and the quickness of her accepting text confused and excited him. After an hour he was really enjoying the night, he went to the bar and when he came back two women were sat opposite Lucy.

“This is Keeley and Lindsey.” Lucy introduced. Darren smiled and greeted them warmly. Shortly after, the two friends went to the bar.

“Don’t be angry. They’re my sisters. If you like me, you have to like them.” Lucy said. Darren noted the subtle sharp tone in her voice.

“Okay.” He said. They kissed and resumed their night out.

*

“Every time I asked them something, they dodged the question. It was weird.” Darren said as he sat down. His mate went to the bar and brought over the drinks.

“You’re over thinking it, mate. You’ve done this so many times before.”

“But Ed, they barely spoke and only did so when Lucy was there. Without her, they were pretty much just glued to their phones.”

“Just relax mate. She’s nice, right?”

“Yeah, she’s really pretty and has a great smile. I get along with her really well.”

“Your eyes just lit up.” Ed said and patted him on the shoulder. Darren looked across the pub at a couple kissing and sharing a private moment. They looked about his age and the blonde woman reminded him of Lucy and the man’s short brown hair acted like a mirror for him. He smiled and drank his beer.

*

“Will you meet my parents on Friday?” Lucy said as they held hands and walked through the park the following Monday evening. Darren looked up a tree and around the park a few times before answering.

“Okay. But, isn’t it a bit…soon?” He said. Her grip tightened on his hand.

“You can’t put a time on true love.” She replied. His stomach jumped again as she kissed him.

*

“True love?” Ed Said as they rested after their Thursday evening run.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that in real life.” Darren said. They laughed as Darren unmuted his phone and raised his eyebrows as he registered the number of texts and missed calls.

“Is that what true love looks like?” Ed said.

“Maybe.” Darren replied. He smiled as he read the messages of encouragement about his run and their upcoming meeting with her parents.

Darren spent all of Friday thinking about the meeting. That dinner time much like the others during the week he visited different shops looking for a new outfit but never bought anything. He finished work and registered that it was Friday evening. We meet tonight then. His palms became sweaty as did the back of his neck as he looked through his wardrobe. He sat on the edge of his bed and stared back and forth between his wardrobe and his phone. He flinched as a text came through.

“My parents just wanted to confirm that you were still coming tonight and are REALLY looking forward to it. What takeaway you would like? I vote for pizza. Can’t Wait! xxx”

Then, Darren’s stomach jumped.

“Sorry Lucy, I don’t think I can make it tonight. You know that food my boss brought in today as a thank you for all our hard work? It’s been doing backflips in my gut and I’ve been to the toilet more times than I would like. Could it be moved to next week? Sorry again.” He paused before hitting send. He exhaled and instantly relaxed. Later, as he got in bed, he kept checking his phone.

*

Darren awoke with his phone still in his hand. He turned it off and lay in bed until midday. She’s angry with me. He got up and then settled into his settee and turned on the TV. After a few hours of watching nothing in particular, he remembered to switch his WiFi on. As soon as he did, a few messages came through from Ed and they all mentioned Lucy and the news. He checked his news app and immediately sat up straight.

“Are you joking?!” Darren said loudly. He slowly scrolled through the article about a huge police arrest made in the early hours of the morning. “That’s Lucy’s house!” His phone rang and Ed’s face came up on the screen.

“Darren! Are you alright, mate? I’ve been trying to get hold of you all morning.”

“Yes, mate. I didn’t go to meet her parents. Got cold feet. Faked food poisoning. I’ve just read an article about it. The police received a tip-off from one of the guests at her parents’ house that a man and woman were going to be killed as part of some ritual. Apparently, the ‘sacrifice’ of the new girlfriend and boyfriend of the leaders of the ‘The Greater Good’ group was to appease their god. Lucy was a leader!” Darren could hear his heart thump faster in his ears as he spoke.

“Will you be okay?” Ed said.

“I’ll be fine. I just need…a minute.” Darren said and ended the call. He sat back and exhaled. “That was a close call.”

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Out to dinner.

The restaurant around them hummed with conversation. The dark reds and blacks on the walls and the table cloths gave the restaurant a brooding feel. So much so that anyone who made a slight nose or spoke at a higher volume drew glances from their fellow patrons. Richard finished his meal and calmly placed the knife and fork on either side of the plate. He fought the overwhelming urge to lean back and grab his belly.

“Rude.” Said Rachael to his left. Her curly hair was almost in her food as she looked from his plate to his face a few times before exhaling loudly.

“What exactly is rude about me?” He asked. Rachael looked up quickly and her eyes widened.

“Well, …it’s not general restaurant etiquette to finish before everyone else.”

“That isn’t a rule of dining out. Or dining in. Or dining anywhere! And if it is, it’s ridiculous.” He replied. Rachael looked opposite to the woman sat to his right and back to her plate. The woman kept eating but paused before putting her fork down.

“Apologise.” Martha said. Richard exhaled and closed his eyes as his shoulders slumped slightly. He surveyed her ginger head as she continued to eat.

“My dear Martha. The apple of my eye. Do you remember that long conversation we had some six months ago? I want the exact opposite.”

Martha’s fork clangs down onto her plate and the sound lifts some heads from those close by. Her mouth drops slightly open.

“Can I ask you something, Donna?” He says to the girl opposite. Her short, silver hair shoots up from her plate. She nods.

“Throughout your long and I can only assume agonising relationship, has Rachael ever said that anybody was being rude for finishing their food before the others?”

Donna contemplates this and ignores Rachael’s glare.

“Yes. Plenty of times.” She replies in a small voice.

“Do you agree with her when she has done this?” Martha nudged him with her foot under the table. He moved his seat back slightly and crossed his legs so she could not repeat the action.

“No.” She replies instantly. “There is nothing in any etiquette manual or article that I have come across that says it is wrong to finish early.” A small smile crosses her lips. “And that is one of the many things that has annoyed me about being her girlfriend.”

Donna looks at Rachael and she looks down at her plate to avoid her eyes.

Richard takes out some money from his wallet and counts it a few times before placing three notes in the middle of the table. Donna begins to do the same but underneath the table. He leans back and groans with satisfaction while stretching his long arms towards the floor. He turns to look at Martha who crosses her arms. He blinks slowly taking a deep breath.

“I hope you find someone exactly like you and someone that possesses a forehead befitting of your thumb. And Donna, good luck and all the best in everything that you do.” He said glancing at Rachael. Donna smiles broadly and slips the money she has counted into the shoulder of her dress and finishes her meal.

Rachael slumps into her seat. He stands up and grabs his glass and downs what remains of its contents before leaving the table. He stops, turns, and retrieves the money he just counted and puts it into the inside pocket of his suit.

“You’re not going to pay for your part of the bill?” Martha asks looking up at him. Richard feels his hands shaking in his pocket.

“For two years, I have paid for every drink we have had whenever we have gone on a night or day out. With the only two exceptions being both my birthdays, which I had to convince you to do. And you stormed out of both of those parties. Consider this paying your debt.”

“How…dare you? You…enjoyed doing that for…me. Didn’t you?” Martha said. Richard looks into her eyes and the moment seems to last forever.

“…really?” Richard said. Martha looked for help where there was none before slumping back into her seat and wiping a tear from her eye.

Richard places one hand on her shoulder. She squeezed it before he leaves the table and the restaurant.

“Goodbye.” Martha whispers as Richard kisses her on the top of her head.

“Hold on.” Said Donna. She stands and grabs her bag to leave.

“Donna? Where are you going?” Rachel said as if to an insubordinate child.

“Away. From you. Finally.” Donna said rolling her eyes. Rachael looked back at the table and then to Martha.

“It’s still fairly early, fancy getting responsibly drunk?” asked Richard.

“Definitely.” Said Donna.

 

 

 

 

 

A sample of my own writing entitled…Untitled Project.

Hello,

It has been almost ages since I last posted and I have no excuse for it. Work? Life? Whatever. I sit here now annoyed I haven’t posted sooner so here it is. The following is the first page and a bit of the last story I finished. It concerns a charity shop owner taking revenge on those who attacked him and tried to destroy his shop and his livelihood. It is the first draft so apologies for any errors.

This is as yet untitled. My first title idea is ‘Charity Shop Lad’ but this will almost certainly change.

The unfortunately familiar sound of an item smashing against his wooden floor took Joe’s attention away from his and the shop’s finances and other important shop related things all of which he would rather do quickly so he can go to bed. Saturdays are always busy, he thought with a smile.

“Don’t worry about that, mate. It wasn’t worth much anyway.” Joe said.

“I wasn’t going to.” Mumbled the blue hooded man at the door. His friends giggled. Joe turned away and back to his books.

“A? How much for this?” Barked the hooded man. Joe walked around from behind his counter and over to him. From a distance, they looked menacing and almost fear-inducing. Up close, however, they were disappointing.

“The necklace?” Asked Joe. The hooded man grumbled. Joe noticed that his friends admired the necklace very clearly. “I can’t remember.” He lied. “Where’s the tag?”

“There.” Said the hooded man. Why so loud for a necklace?

“Ah. I see it. Fifty pounds. Hmm…seems a bit low. Wait here. I will check my book.”

“Low? The price is the price, mate. No changes.”

“I can change the price as I see fit, Sir. Let me just…”

“No, you don’t, mate.” Said the hooded man.

As Joe turned with the necklace in his hand to walk to back to his counter and his pricing book, the hooded man grabbed his arm. Joe put the necklace in a nearby vase before looking down at the hand gripping his arm.

“Please, Sir. I don’t want any trouble.” Said Joe. The hooded man’s friends had stepped over and now blocked the door.

“Well, you’ve got it, pal.” Said the hood. The man swung with his free right hand but as he did so, Joe kicked him in the shin and twisted the right hand and the arm round sharply. The hooded man screamed as his face hit the floor.

“Now, gentleman. Like I said, I do not want any trouble.” Joe said. He slowly twisted the man’s arm until he heard a small crack. “If I go any further, it may cause him some damage. I don’t want that to happen.”

The friends looked at each other and back at Joe quickly and with sweat forming rapidly on their foreheads. One friend lunged with a poor attempt at a punch which Joe grabbed with his left arm. He twisted the friend’s arm until it matched the hooded man. Joe, with two men’s faces, pushed against the floor and an arm within each hand, looked up at the remaining friend.

“Now, they will hurt for a few days but if they take it easy they should be fine. Maybe they will be okay for work on Monday. What jobs do they do? Do you all work together? Is that where you know each other from?” Joe asked. The remaining friend stared wide-eyed and unable to answer. Joe stood up and dropped the arms he was holding. The remaining friend jumped and ran out of the shop.

“Look, I’m sorry about that. But I did say I didn’t want any trouble.” The men walked out holding their damaged arms. “Just take it easy tomorrow and you should be fine for work.” The men ran out and Joe closed and locked the door. He watched as they were swallowed by the almost pitch-black night. He pulled down the blind over the shop door window and exhaled, putting his hands on his knees. He composed himself and looked around his shop. He savoured the calm and quiet before settling on a vase. He reached inside and held up the necklace.

“How much are you worth then?”

Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you would like to, please leave your thoughts and such in the comments section. Thank you.

Bye Bye for now!

Finally… My first story of the year is finished! What next?

Hello,

I’ll start with a question; Do you prefer to leave a piece of work you have finished and move onto the next thing or dive right into editing said piece of work?

finish-writing-project-630x472

So, for the last 6 months or so I have been working on my latest story. It centres around Joe, a calm mid-thirties man who owns an antique shop in Stockport, Manchester, UK. This shop is his life. His grandparents, who were more like his actual parents than his real ones ever were, left it solely to him when they passed away. He has worked to make it the go to place for antiques in Stockport and is enjoying his life.

However, when he purchases a necklace from a car boot sale in London, it brings trouble. Notably, three men who come to steal it. They assume they can intimidate him easily, given his calm and nice exterior, but what they do not know is that Joe has taken numerous Karate, Boxing, MMA and self-defence classes over the last ten years. Joe defends himself against the men easily and decides to take the next day off, take the necklace with him, and try to find out more. His friend Kelly manages to find out that the necklace is worth way more than what he purchased it for. A LOT MORE. When he comes back to work the following day, his shop has been smashed to pieces. Nothing has been stolen but it is a mess. Completely wrecked on the inside. Joe decides in that moment to track down who did this and bring them to justice. But in a nice way.

Well, at least that’s how the first draft has panned out. Joe and his friend Kelly track down who is responsible and go toe to toe with him. Him, known as D.A.D, is the biggest gangster in Stockport who is a more of an urban myth. Not many people have seen him and those who have are either dead or working for him. Currently, I have been able to test Joe and test all the other characters along the way. Though, as it seems to be with a lot of my stories, the villain has taken on a better and more rounded shape than my hero, but I will sort this out in the edits.

But, What next? Jump onto my next project? Edit this one? Run away? Eat a Pizza? The list is endless. I have settled on leaving the story for a while. In that while, I will finally finish my online Fraud Diploma course (he says after saying the same thing a few times before) And after that I want to focus on entering writing competitions and trying to get published.

That was way too easy to write. If only that road was that easy. I know it will be hard but it is something I have been looking forward to doing for years. I now feel ready. Well, as ready as I ever will be, to put my work out there for more eyes to see. Wish me luck.

Book Review: Transcendental (The Transcendental Machine)

Hello,

Transcendental-James-Gunn-small

Most of my mornings for the past two months or so have been fairly average on the surface but good underneath. On the surface, I get the bus into Manchester and walk ten minutes to work. Underneath, I get the bus and read the latest story on my Kindle reading list. This book was until recently a sci-fi story entitled…what this post is entitled (but without the ‘Book Review’ bit)

The chapters were around 20-25 minutes long and with my journey being about 20 minutes, I was able to comfortably read four chapters a week on my way to work. Give or take. This morning, however, I finished the book. It is one of three stories and I think I will be purchasing the next two. When payday comes around.

So, the description of this story is as follows taken from the following link https://www.amazon.co.uk/Transcendental-Machine-James-Gunn-ebook/dp/B00CVMIWFU:

Riley, a veteran of interstellar war, is one of many beings from many different worlds aboard a ship on pilgrimage that spans the galaxy. However, he is not journeying to achieve transcendence, a vague mystical concept that has drawn everyone else on the ship to this journey into the unknown at the far edge of the galaxy. His mission is to find and kill the prophet who is reputed to help others transcend. While their ship speeds through space, the voyage is marred by violence and betrayal, making it clear that some of the ship’s passengers are not the spiritual seekers they claim to be. Like the pilgrims in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a number of those on the star ship share their unique stories. But as tensions rise, Riley realises that the ship is less like the Canterbury Tales and more like a harrowing, deadly ship of fools. When he becomes friendly with a mysterious passenger named Asha, he thinks she’s someone he can trust. However, like so many others on the ship, Asha is more than she appears. Uncovering her secrets could be the key to Riley’s personal quest, or to make him question everything he thought he knew about Transcendentalism and his mission to stop it.

 

I was looking for a more recently published book (this was published 27/08/2013 according to Kindle) as I have read older books and want to get into the habit of reading newer books. I also want to get into the habit of reviewing said books as I’m looking to be more active on Goodreads in the future. With that in mind, here is my review:

4 out of 5.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I have always enjoyed books, films and TV sci-fi that blends the fantastical elements of sci-fi with real life and tries to make it all seem as normal as possible. This story does just that.

There are a number of main and secondary characters who are all well drawn and are used very well. Each character does not outstay there welcome. None feel like they are just hanging around. Whenever their part is played in the story, they leave it. I liked the main character Riley, who seems very down to earth and grizzled war veteran by the sounds of things, who is also quietly smart. Asha is very mysterious from the start, which drew me into her character. And the vast array of aliens, all quickly and concisely described, provide a wonderful variety to the story. Some of the chapters are from some of the aliens themselves. Telling their own story of why they are on the ship and journeying to find the Transcendental Machine and reach the next step of their particular races evolution. All this coupled with solid descriptions of the surroundings means the story builds well and ends leaving me wanting more and thinking a lot about the whole thing. Which is how I like it.

Can’t wait to read the next two.

Timelines: An Apology.

Hello,

So, I’ve been really enjoying writing my latest story. It’s set in Stockport, Manchester, England, my hometown, and it is allowing me to use locations I have either been to, lived near or can easily get to. I’ve written stories based in Manchester City Centre before that I have enjoyed writing for the same reason but in my hometown is slightly better. Eventually, I’m going to write one a lot closer to home in the small village I grew up in but that’s for the future.

I have been doing some character profiles and story outlines but do not have an ending written out just yet. As I have been doing this I wondered how I could track my story. Usually, I would just read back over my notes or the story itself to make sure everything is as poly hole-free as possible. This has always been a bit messy really so I thought, how can I do this easily and efficiently? A long time passed thinking about this question until…

…a timeline punched me in the brain.

I’m not sure why I haven’t used one before with ANY of my previous stories over the years. It is working so well so far. I’ve laid out my timeline per character and date. Side by side, each column with actions to move the story along. This has allowed me to sync each character up and it seems like a breath of fresh air compared to my usual method. And long may it continue. But I feel I must say…

The Kid

I’m sorry, Timelines. I’m sorry for not utilising you sooner. You are now, barring any goliath of a story planning idea to come my way, my future. I cannot see why I would not use a Timeline. It seems like it should have hit me sooner. I am sorry. Also, I hope the use of ‘The Kid’, my Lego monkey writing sidekick, will help my cause.

Phew. That feels better. Though, I feel I may have more grovelling to do. I’ve read many articles regarding timelines and obviously just let them rest in my subconscious. More fool me. Hold on. I’ll have to go back over all my previous stories and create one for each. But that will take some time. Maybe I should just use Timelines for any stories in future? But don’t all my stories deserve the same treatment?

Do you use or have you used Timelines when planning your stories? Do they help to ensure that each character is kept in line (story)? Or did you find them a hindrance and move onto something else?

Okay. I’m going back to the Timeline. And the apologies. Have a good week. Bye!

 

 

One quick one and one…not so quick one.

Hello,

It has been a while. Again. Always seems to be the way recently. I think to myself ‘I’ll post more often’ and then stuff happens. This time it was moving house. I thought I’d have time but it has been all consuming, until recently, with setting accounts up for bills, unpacking boxes, building things, buying things to build, buying things to dig up other things, the list goes on. I’m almost completely settled now so I can get back to posting on my blog. This wonderful thing. My little soupcon of the internet.

So, since last time I have written another 1,000-word story. This one is opposed to the last one (see https://johnrsermon.com/2017/07/19/the-editing-beast-has-been-defeatedfor-now/) the last was a story based in a very dark place and this one is based in a very light place. The lightest place as it happens if it exists. I would say where it is but it would ruin the twist to the very dark story, which I will post on this blog in future.

I wanted to write an opposite story and one that occurs at the same time as the other. I have always enjoyed watching and writing chapters that have events happening at the same time but shown from different viewpoints. Anyway, I decided to write it quickly while the idea was fresh in my head.

Then I finished. Then I was living elsewhere. Then I moved out.

As I was setting everything up around the house move (bills, more bills, finding the local supermarket, and local pub etc.) And during this, a story woke up and began to run around my head. It’s been months since it had been for a run but I’m glad it managed it. And it is based in the town I’ve just moved too helped as well. The story is my take on the one man vigilante tale. I’ve watched and enjoyed plenty of them (John Wick, I’m looking and smiling at you) so I decided to write one myself. I wondered what one would be like with a person who isn’t an ex-Army, Special Forces, Gangster, Assassin, or any of them. A story about someone who just took up a number of different, readily available self-defence classes because he wanted too and then, suddenly, had to use them.

I got to work and I’ve written two chapters so far. Hopefully, I can keep it up and finish the story soon. It’s slowly building in my mind but I don’t have an ending yet.

Have you ever written anything without an ending?

It’s been a while since I have. Feels…schwifty.

So, I’ll get back to it. Hope you all have a good week.