I had intended to use the time off work to get some serious writing done – I don’t often have the opportunity of a full week to clear my mind of all household- and work-related matters. Pity it didn’t quite work out like that.
Day 1 – coincidentally the first day of an unpredicted Indian summer. Late sunshine too warm to resist. We packed sunscreen (yes, sunscreen, in Norfolk, in September. It beggars belief.), books and a picnic and headed for the coast. Kids are back at school now and the beaches round here, never very densely populated, are deserted.
Day 2 – the beguiling sunshine continues and we visit another deserted beach.
Day 3 – surely the weather will break today? No. Yet another beach beckons and a pattern seems to be developing.
Day 4 – I peep out of the curtains in the early morning. I’m feeling rather guilty now; the only writing I’ve done this week is a few notes in a new notebook I bought at the seaside yesterday. It’s still too sunny to ignore. I argue with myself – this weather can’t last and we must make the most of it. We’ll be turning the central heating on soon enough.
Day 5 – at last – clouds. It’s still warm though, but no beach today. We content ourselves pottering in the garden. Tomorrow, I promise myself, I will get back to writing.
Day 6 – writing group meets tomorrow and I need to get a piece of flash fiction written. Never my favourite format, and I seem to have left my inspiration at the beach. Not an idea in my head. 300 words about receiving an inheritance from an unknown beneficiary is likely to go unwritten but suddenly the story comes to me, fully formed, out of nowhere. I must have had too much sun.
See what you think.
The Inheritance – 300 words
I’d always known my brother was a psychopath. He’d pull the wings off insects and torture any small animal, even the goldfish we’d won at the fairground and carried carefully home in a wobbly plastic bag.
Eventually the sufferings of the innocent and defenceless began to bore him and he turned his psychopathic spotlight on to me. In a hundred small ways he tormented me with a constant volley of seemingly trivial actions designed to cause maximum distress, always competing for the attention of our increasingly beleaguered parents.
I assumed he hated me.
When Danny left school he started an apprenticeship as a mechanic at a local garage. The elderly Mr Johnson was oblivious to the tiny adjustments Danny would make to his customers’ engines, ensuring that the cars would be a source of constant irritation for their owners. It wasn’t a financial thing, nor any sort of altruistic regard for his employer; Danny had simply found an undetectable way of practicing his dark art.
When the letter arrived he watched me closely across the breakfast table.
‘Aren’t you the lucky one, Jen?’ he sneered. ‘Old man Johnson wouldn’t have given me the skin off his rice pudding, never mind a car.’
‘But I don’t understand,’ I protested. ‘Mr Johnson didn’t even know me. Did you say something to him?’
Dan shrugged. ‘Might have. I figured you deserved something nice for once.’
As I sped down the dual carriageway in my shiny new car, I reflected on the conversation. I didn’t have an explanation for why Dan had suggested me as a recipient of old Mr Johnson’s generosity when he’d been writing his will, but as I approached the roundabout and depressed the clutch and brake pedals with no effect whatsoever, I was certain of one thing.
Dan had won.