Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Shadows: response to story writing exercise from Morgen Bailey

Tourists would visit the town on Wednesdays for the market, a cobbled square stalled with vegetables from the local farmers, men and women trying to sell clothes they can afford to live without, the lamps and pictures they have cleared out of the homes of their deceased.
Michéle’s husband works in the boucherie. He wears a white coat and white rubber boots. He comes home bloodied from hosing down the back room, and wiping his hands on the over-sized pockets after slicing the remnants from the bones for the mincer.
When their youngest daughter, Monique, told them she was engaged to be married, they congratulated her and then privately shared their relief. Soon they could start trying to save for themselves.
Michéle wanted the wedding present to be something special. The newlyweds had arranged to live in a small house in the middle of a dull street on the outskirts of the town. An area where tired young husbands and fathers dragged home heavy in the dark of late evenings.
On the day of the wedding Michéle carefully handed a large, neatly-wrapped present to her daughter.
The next day Monique took down the faded curtains from the front window and a few hours later, when her husband was home to help, a pair of white lace curtains with a pattern of shells appeared. Beautiful fan-shaped shells, with detail of the ridge paths and rippled edges, arranged in uneven groups as though washed up on shore on a beach.
Quickly the curtains became a talking point in the town. Women queuing for their vegetables asked if their friends had seen them, and over the next weeks footsteps could be heard slowing down as they passed the house to look at this fancy new display.
And then it wasn’t long before the curtains in other windows were replaced. The Tabac owner’s wife hung a lace display of butterflies in her window, pleased with the neat rows of delicate wings.
The lace maker, an old woman who had learned the craft from her mother and thought that her retirement was as good as secured, was suddenly popular amongst the younger townsfolk. They invited her to coffee, offered pastries, and invariably ended up discussing designs and dates.
She made curtains of birds on twigs reaching for berries, an ocean of leaping dolphins, an ocean scene where large yachts and smaller, distant ships sailed above a band of fish and the floor of shells and coral.
The lights of sitting rooms all around the town cast shadow shapes across the footpaths.
Tourists came to walk the course of the designs that the town had become renowned for. None of them passed the simple window of Monique’s house.

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Written in 20 mins - Exercise 1 from Morgen Bailey on Monday 24th June
Keywords to include: curtain, tired, last, home, footsteps


  1. Thank you Amanda. I find it so helpful to have exercises and prompts from others sometimes. I felt a bit overwhelmed coming back to the desk having not written for more than a fortnight. Slowly I'm finding my way! Looking forward to reading more from you soon.