A Serendipitous Challenge

Yesterday was the first of May. It was also the first time in a while that I sat down to write a little piece of fiction just for fun. Perhaps it is fitting then, that without realising it I started participating in ‘Story a Day in May‘ – something that I attempted – and enjoyed – last year.

I’d quite like to try again this year too. I know it will be a lot to ask – especially in the midst of revising NaNo #1 – but I do feel an affinity with the challenge; it’s a means to rediscover creativity and remind me of the joy of writing for fun. I don’t expect to write any stories longer than 500-1,000 words, and it will be good practice for future submission ideas.

Also, what’s the worst that could happen?
I might not write 31 stories? Revisions for my novel could slow down a little? I might not have much of a social life?

Well, I think I can identify my priorities and act accordingly. The very fact that I wrote a story on the first day of May signifies, to me, that perhaps some serendipity may have taken place. As a result, there may be a few more posts from me over the course of the month, as I share some of the stories here.

Whereas yesterday’s prompt was a picture of a collection of nail polish, today’s prompt comes from my afternoon stroll with my father (who also treated me to lunch – Dad’s are good like that).


The Canal Path, Uppermill


The path curved out of view in the distance, the water narrowing where the lock was positioned. I continued to walk, keeping my eyes on the path ahead trying not to listen to the gentle tap of the footfalls behind me. Whoever it was seemed to be getting closer. I increased my pace. The echo stopped. But no, there it was, merged into the sound of my own feet tapping along the path. We were matched in steps, I hoped not in pace.

I reached the lock and jogged down the steep banking, trying to put some distance between me and my pursuer. I let my gaze linger on the wall to the left and spied an opening. I slipped into it, letting the trees embrace me. I dare not look out, lest I was spotted. Instantly I realised my mistake. If he were to see me, part concealed by the bud of spring trees, I would make a much better target – just off the path and no longer in view. 

The footsteps sounded again, a little faster than before. I stood still, taking shallow breaths, waiting for him to launch in after me with a wild grin. My heart beat out of rhythm with the steps, as though it were still running away from him. For each hollow tap of his shoe my heart would pound three times. He must know I am in here. Where else would I go?

I watched the figure walk past. His head down and hands thrust into his pockets. I could not make out his face through the criss-cross of branches that made up my shield. I let out a long breath and felt my shoulders relax. I must have rocked back on my feet too, because there was a sudden snap of a twig. 

The man stopped. His head raised and hands out of his pockets. He turned. I sucked my breath back in and held it there while I willed him on again. Keep walking, I thought, just keep walking. 

“Get out of there, come on,” he yelled.

I hesitated, not willing to admit I had been found. But then I heard a sharp yap and the scratch of a paw on stone. I looked down. Near to my feet was a petite Jack Russell, head titled up at me, questioning: ‘Why are you in here’? But then, with another call from his owner – the man I had been so afraid of – he hopped back onto the path and scampered away leaving me in the shrubbery feeling abashed. 


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