After years of living alone, he believed he’d found happiness. The wedding had been low-key – registry office and the local pub for a meal with friends. They’d spent a bit more on the honeymoon. Now they stood on a beach that stretched before them, a swathe of ochre against an ocean of blue, while behind them, the dunes bristled with marram grass and sea thistles. North Norfolk in the summer was breath-taking.
They wandered hand in hand down to the water’s edge, where frothy white foam pilfered the fine gravel little by little.
“It was a lovely ceremony, darling,” his wife continued. She wouldn’t stop, not even to enjoy the view. Her voice rose above the gentle rumble of waves and the echoing cries of seagulls.
“You know I wanted the full works. I appreciate that a man of fifty isn’t over-excited about dressing up in a suit for a church wedding, but think about it, for my sake. And you wear a three-piece suit at weekends – painted gold from head to toe and with a gold traffic cone on your head!”
That was one of the things that had niggled Stan about her: she despised his second job, performing as a living statue, and was repulsed by the traces of milkshake and bird shit stains that sometimes accrued on his costume. She would only meet him for lunch during the week, when he had a respectable career as an accountant.
“You don’t need to move big sums. It’s easier to shift smaller amounts of money from a lot of different accounts.”
Her persistence was heavy on his shoulders. She let go of his hand and turned back to the dunes.
“Don’t think I’ll forget about this!” she shouted over her shoulder. “You’re supposed to make your wife happy – I’m not!”
Neither was Stan. He’d never done anything outside the law. He paid his bills on time; if he saw someone drop a coin, no matter how small, he’d pick it up and hand it back; and he was a trusted long-term employee. But he had longed to be a husband, was enjoying the companionship (and the sex), and how would he ever find another good-looking, desirable wife?
Kim M. Russell, 31st May 2020
I originally wrote this in an e-mail workshop organised by a member of staff from the Norfolk Library and Information Services. Under normal circumstances, it would have taken place at the Norwich Millennium Library.
The fourteen participants wrote a sentence or two on setting, character and conflict, which were then sent by email, separated and mixed up. Each participant received a setting/character/conflict combination, which did not include any of their own ideas.
Character is a male living statue, 50 years old. He wears a three-piece suit and is painted gold from head to toe with a gold traffic cone on his head. There are traces of milkshake and bird shit stains on his outfit.
Scene: Sand stretched as far as the eye could see, a swathe of ochre against an ocean of blue. Behind it, the dunes stood guard whilst at the water’s edge, frothy white foam pilfered the fine gravel little by little.
Conflict: The main character finds themselves coerced to commit fraud by their husband/wife only days after getting married. Her/his morals fights against the urge to break the law, but the fear of not going ahead and what the potential outcome might be if they refused are pulling them apart.
We then wrote stories from these combinations. I pared mine down to 369 words for today’s Writers’ Pantry.