Category Archives: weekly writing challenge

Daily prompt: secret admirers

This challenge is; you find a surprise bouquet of flowers with a note. Tell the story

Her arrival at work was met with giggles and comments about her secret life, undeclared lovers and dark horses. As always she pretended she understood what was going on and she laughed along with them. Always the outsider she’d learned to do what was needed to blend in, be one of the team, although of course she never really did, blend in that is. Always on the edge looking in. All those moves as a child perhaps. “Don’t get too attached as you’ll be moving on before long”. Perhaps that’s what she’d taught herself and it had just become a habit. Never quite one of them.

Anyway here she was at work, the focus of some attention and laughter and cameraderie and not really understanding why. What dark horse? What secret lover?

Eventually she got to her workstation and there lay a bunch of red roses. A small envelope nestled in amongst the lush blooms.

Anna, the label read. A secret admirer? For a moment she felt a tingle of anticipation. Briefly. Very very briefly. Unlikely to suddenly have a bouquet in at the age of forty she reminded herself. It had never once happened before. Not once in her forty years so far and unlikely to be the next forty either as things stood. She had already got accustomed to the idea of a single life. A Saga holiday single room supplement was what lay ahead. Bouquets of flowers had no part to play. Of that she was sure.

She opened the envelope. “Thanks for last night. B”. She blushed. Blushed even though there had been no B in her life last night or any other night for as long as she could remember. There was a George once some ten years before but that had never got beyond an awkward meal and a dry hasty kiss on the cheek on parting. No, there was nothing to thank her for with roses after last night. She folded the card back into the envelope.

In her usual flamboyant style in came her young colleague and took her seat with a flourish of Prada bags, silk scarves and heady perfume. She reached into a pocket for her buzzing mobile and listened. Looking at Anna and the flowers reached out for the card and the bouquet and laughed at the misspelling of her name. Silly boy she said, it’s ANNE not ANNA.

Anne. Of course they would be hers. Anna laughed with the others at the confusion. Of course she hadn’t really thought they were hers. Not for a second. Her laughter felt hollow though. Just for a moment she had had a glimpse of a life she’d always longed for. A life with red roses.

“I knew they weren’t for me” she said again and laughed with the others at the absurdity. And even before the words were out she was forgotten as Anne regaled them with her latest romance. A banker it seemed. Crazy about her. Weren’t they all, for a week or so anyway.

Anne sat back at her workstation. On the outside again. If only they’d been for her. Just once.

Daily prompt: from the top

In this daily prompt/ writing challenge you can write anything you like but must repeat the opening line at least twice.

“I never expected it would turn out like this”, she thought as she took off her wedding ring. What to do with it now? Would her tears ever stop? She looked at her hand tanned from years in the Australian sun and the white band left on her ring finger. The mark of their failure.

“I never expected it would turn out like this” he mused as he snuggled into the arms of his new young partner. No more hiding now. Everyone knew yet few approved. He’d never felt so alone. Their condemnation had winded him. Here it was, the moment she had talked about, just the two of them, a moment he had never really wanted to come, if truth be told. But here it was.

“I never expected it would turn out like this” she said as she walked along the Southbank one sunny evening in June with Sandra, her friend of twenty something years as she shared the dilemmas of dating again in her fifties. What to wear? What if he was nothing like his online picture and the witty kindly man he’d seemed to be in his emails. What if he was disappointed and that disappointment showed? What if he he did seem to fancy her? Did people even talk of fancying people any more? She was so out of touch and just never imagined she’d be here doing this, dating again.

“I never expected it would turn out like this” she thought as she got ready for their fifth evening out. She hadn’t reckoned on the anticipating, the fluttering excitement, the eagerly awaited passionate kiss on greeting, the sense of having come home, the joy of a new love. She looked down at her hand, the Australian tan now well and truly gone after years back under the grey skies of London. She briefly recalled the white band of failure. So long ago now. No time to waste. The doorbell rang. A last check in the mirror. “I never expected it would turn out like this” she reminded herself as she headed for the door. “Lucky me”.

Writing 101, day seven : give and take

This writing challenge is about comparing/contrasting two different things or people

What was that rhyme about Jack Spratt and his wife? Half remembered like so many things. Perhaps early signs of the dementia that got a hold of her mother and never let go, squeezing out the very essence of who she was, leaving only the outside recognisable. Fading out and then one day no more.

30 years on since the day she walked down an aisle in a dress that had made her look surprisingly doll like. Pink cheeks, red lips and way too much lace. 30 years of mostly unsatisfactory marriage, hopes abandoned early on for the children that never came. And now their working days were numbered. How would that be? To be retired. Entombed more like. Day in and day out together. No escape from the yawning chasm of silence that sat between them broken only by the ritual offers of a cuppa or a decision to be made about what to watch on the T.V that never went off. Then lights out and her relief that another day was done.

Just three months to go and I can’t wait to have time, just Vera and me. No need to rush out of the house any more so we can linger that bit longer over the breakfast table. Another tea perhaps or a second slice of toast. The day will lie before us to do as we please. Perhaps time for some of those day trips Vera used to talk about going on or even the ballroom dancing down at the village hall. She was always on at me to give it a go and now we have the time. I’ll suggest it to her but my guess is though she’ll just want to potter about at home, just her and me. She’s funny that way. Never really needed anyone but me. Just three months to go. I can’t wait.
“Fancy a cuppa ?”

Writing 101, Day 5: be brief

The challenge- to write very briefly about a letter you come across that moves you deeply


“I didn’t mean to hurt you. It just happened. I forgot my promise to you made that blustery but sunny autumn day in Edinburgh. Forsaking no other. Forgive me. ”

She folded the letter up and tucked it back into the drawer of the little battered writing desk in the corner of the crammed junk shop.


Weekly writing challenge : expectations versus reality

Expectations, the theme of this week’s writing challenge. So many ways to come at this. So here are 3

1. Not quite good enough.
The parental expectation, real or imagined, of needing to do just that bit better. Exam marks really good, but surely a little better might have been possible. Even now on my iPad scrabble game I eschew the option with the teacher – harsh she is. Even with the really high scores you can pull out of the bag just sometimes, the online teacher says “excellent” and then with an unwritten but understood “but” explains what word I could have put and how many additional points that might have given me.

2. An expectation that it would be forever.
I never imagined he’d break my heart and cheat on me with a twenty something year old, after being together for 22 years. Just never dawned on me. Ups and downs of course over those years but I was the woman he talked publicly of being the love of his life. He certainly was mine.
I’ve changed with this experience. Happy in a newish relationship now but with no expectation of forever. It’s a different way of loving.

3. Expectations of behaving like an extrovert
I love people, find them endlessly interesting. They just tire me. A typical introvert. A whole day with people and I ‘m running on empty. I watch with wonder at people around me who visibly get more and more energised when round others.
I deliver training, I give conference talks to groups of 500 people at a time, I do lots of one on one coaching and can just about hold my own in a professional networking event ( as long as I’ve given myself a pep talk first!) . But put a conference chatting drinks or meal event on after the talk and I’m lost. Just don’t know how to do it. The confident trainer or speaker they experienced turns into a shy person hoping the time will soon come she can slide away for some quiet recharging time ready for the next people event.
There are so many interesting bloggers on this world of introversion and it’s easy in this world to feel one of many. But at the conference events it’s hard to spot the fellow introverts as we ‘re all just trying to fit in and not be seen as anything but the extravert majority. So expert at that camouflage we can’t even spot the other fakers like ourselves.

Ah expectations. So many , so often, so problematic!