Flash Fiction – Act in haste…

Image courtesy of Shaktiki Sharma

 

‘Dan said ‘I’m going to give Stella the sack.’ Hilda relayed.

Stella’s throat burned hot. How could he? Today? It’s 30 years since she started here. Not that anyone remembered. She’d helped his wife arrange a birthday party for him too.

Stella fired off an email telling her boss everyone called him fish breath behind his back. She pressed send and gathered her belongings and her dignity, and stood.

‘Not going anywhere, Stella?’ Dan carried in a cake. Thirty candles flickering. ‘I said this morning I’m going to get you back for the party and surprise you!’

‘Sorry,’ mouthed Hilda. ‘Misheard.’

 

This week my sister asked for a more lighthearted story and as it’s International Women’s Day and she’s the strongest woman I know I had to step outside my comfort zone and give it a go. 

Big thanks to everyone who has read, reviewed and recommended The Sister. Yesterday my publisher rang to congratulate me on half a million sales. You can read the first thought that popped into my head here. World Book Day was another step outside my comfort zone. An introverted writer giving a talk to 250 kids. What could possibly go wrong? I blogged about that here.

‘Act in haste’ was written for Friday Fictioneers. A weekly 100 word story challenge inspired by a photo prompt and organised by Rochelle

My first school visit – 250 kids – what could possibly go wrong?

img_9455

Last week I was writing when my phone flashed with an incoming call – my son’s primary school – and my heart stuttered as I thought of all the things that might be wrong.

‘Will you come into school on World Book Day and talk to the kids about writing? Just Years 5 & 6. Only around 250 children.’

Only?!? 250!?! I’ve never given a talk before and instantly I felt sick, dizzy, afraid. Options pin-balled around my mind. I could hang up, pretend they had the wrong number, put on an accent and say I can’t speak English. So many words formed on my tongue, but I thought about the amazing assemblies I’ve seen there over the years. How brave the children are to stand up in front of the school and act and sing, and of all of the words that formed on my tongue, the one that came out was yes. The children can’t all enjoy performing and yet they do it anyway. What sort of example would I set to my son if I didn’t at least try?

Yesterday, it was a different story. Riddled with doubt I spoke my lovely friend Victoria who told me to imagine I was speaking to one little girl. The little girl who loved to read. Loved to write. Who wanted nothing more than to be an author. The little girl I once was who had her dreams crushed when the career advisor said writing was neither a ‘proper or viable career choice.’ And a quiet determination grew inside. If in some small way I could inspire one child to follow their dreams it would be worth any amount of anxiety I might feel.

img_9444This morning I stood in front of a sea of expectant faces. I locked eyes with my son. He’d been so excited I was visiting and I wanted to make him proud, not faint/vomit/cry and so I ignored the notes I’d made and I spoke from the heart. I spoke of my passion for writing, my love for my characters, how I can’t imagine ever doing anything else. I spoke of my belief that we can all be who we want to be, if only we dare to dream and never stop trying.

I asked the children questions. They asked me questions. Some had written them down, complete with illustrations. Most loved to read, to write, to fabricate stories and many of them dream of being authors and seeing that raw hope, that ambition, that certainty, I am sure they can do anything they set their minds to.

img_9457

It was a real privilege meeting these children and I came away hopeful, and inspired, and itching to write. It was such an enriching experience. I learned a lot about them, but I also learned a lot about me.