Reminder: Free short story – see below ‘A Pearl for Your Enjoyment.’
Waiting for the return of the latest novel manuscripts from the beta readers is always a suspenseful time. My body feels like it is inside a butter churn swishing first one way and then another.
Current Weather and Tides
But, there is still plenty to do. The trouble is digging myself out of the butter churn to do this ‘plenty’. The struggle to prepare the ‘hook’ and ‘blurbs’ must take priority. Arranging a book cover is the second cab off the rank. It is never easy to marry the vision in my head to what I can achieve in reality. Allocating my ISBNs and contacting the PPDS (Pre-Publication Data Service) next and then I have a choice (1) do the heap (to the roof) of ironing clothes or (2) update all the admin work. Woe is me. The devil and the deep blue sea come to mind.
Keep safe, Keep smiling, Keep reading, Keep writing.
A Pearl for Your Enjoyment
Earlier in the year, our class was asked to write a short story with the element of suspense. This was my effort. I never did write how it ended and will be pleased to hear how you might finish the yarn.
The long curtains swished across the front windows of her apartment as Marigold Nightingale prepared to settle for the night.
“Oh!” Marigold pulled the curtains back a fraction to examine the image caught in the periphery of her vision. A tall male figure stood under the Birch tree in the shadow cast by the night lights of the park opposite her apartment building. Was he looking directly at her? Ridiculous. Yet …
Being head of a government department focussed on cyber security, Marigold was familiar with the instructions issued on a regular basis by safety officers within her department. It had been a particularly long day and she certainly did not want to be labelled a panic-prone female. With a mental note to herself, she re-shut the drapes and crawled into her luxurious bed to sleep.
In the morning, after a cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal gulped down without a registered taste, Marigold took a quick shower, dressed and applied simple makeup to the blemish-free pale skin of her face. She dragged the brush through her short locks fifty times and fingered her hair into place. As she hauled the curtains open to let in the sunlight, she recalled the man under the tree in the park last night. A quick check revealed his absence this morning. She smiled at her imagination of the previous evening. The poor man was probably waiting for his female assignation to arrive at the time. Maybe the poor soul had been stood up. But just in case she again reinforced the mental note to mention it to the security boys in her department today.
Marigold tossed her purse, her briefcase and her computer bag onto the seat at her side and gunned the engine of her black BMW. At the top of the ramp leading out of the underground car park, she smiled at Max who waved her on her way to work, as he did every morning.
“Bye, Ms. Nightingale, have a good day.”
“You too, Max.”
Marigold’s day was particularly fraught as the team worked to slam shut a portal exposed in their program, which might have proved a disaster if discovered by unscrupulous people. On her return to the car park of the apartment building in the evening, it was the regular night porter, Toby, who greeted her. A take-a-way meal sat in a brown paper bag on the back seat of her car. Nearby lay a bottle of chilled white wine.
With the swish of her curtains, the sight of the man standing in the gloom under the Birch tree in the park once more held her attention.
“Oh, bother, I never got around to reporting this fellow to the safety officer,” she mumbled with a mental promise not to forget tomorrow. Marigold sat nibbling on her meal, sipping her wine and working at her computer. It was nearly midnight before she crawled into her warm bed.
A cold shower in the morning tightened the slack muscles of her face and neck. Little time was spent savouring her favourite coffee and the cornflakes seemed tasteless in her mouth. Her high heels click-clacked at a fast pace as she approached her car. A vision of the man under the tree flashed across her mind but she had too many other things on her mind to pay it any attention.
When she noticed a new man at the exit gate she paused and asked, “Where’s Max this morning?”
“Good morning, Ms. Nightingale, Max has the flu.” He waved her on her way.
Max has never had a sick day in his life; Marigold’s curiosity was aroused. Her first port of call at the office was to the safety division to report her suspicions. This stop-off made her late for a team meeting but she was glad to have done so because the Head of Security took her report very seriously. He did not make her feel foolish in any way.
Once more the day was a blur of action. Lunch was a can of juice and a sandwich purchased from the tea lady on their floor. A blanket of darkness settled over the city as Marigold drove into the car park. A take-a-way meal and wine sat on the back seat of her car. She rubbed her reddened eyes as she paused for the boom gate to be lifted. One hand reached over to release the locks of her car doors. A man, wearing the usual uniform of the guards here in the car park, approached her car – but she registered in her tired brain that it was not Toby. Has he got the flu too? Marigold thought briefly. Her hand was a shade too slow in reaching over to relock her car doors. The man jumped into the passenger seat throwing her purse, her briefcase and her computer onto the back seat on top of the now squashed take-a-way.
To Be Continued – with ideas from the readers.