Dead Weight

This week I am participating in an exciting new writing prompt over at Magpie Tales which I found out about through a great writer I know, Jennifer.

Magpie Tales provides a photo prompt each week from which a poem or story can be written.

Here is the prompt for this week –

This is what I came up with –

Genoa admired Alice. She was such a great writer. She came up with story after story as easy as blinking. The only thing she really needed was to be more organised. To tidy up her study and file away all of her ideas so they didn’t get lost. Genoa walked into Alice’s study one day and saw sheets of paper flying about the room like nuns habits come to life, flapping and twisting all over the place. The window was wide open and a wind was coming in from the sea. Alice insisted on having her desk by the window and seemed unconcerned that when it was open her unfinished stories were put at risk by the whimsy of the sea breezes. It drove Genoa mad.

She found the one kilo weight at a secondhand furniture store. It was cheap because it was the only remaining part of a set. Genoa immediately thought it would make a perfect paperweight and might tame Alice’s unruly paperwork.

Alice loved it and from then on her study was orderly and neat.

Alice rang Genoa not long after. That paperweight you got me is a good luck charm, she said. I’ve met someone. He’s a writer too. We share the same publisher. He writes war stories. He can be a little gloomy but is ever so cute. I can’t wait until you meet him.

Genoa didn’t like Brad on sight. He had a taint in him. She could sense it. He couldn’t look her in the eye. When Alice’s attention wasn’t focused on him a pulse jumped in his temple. Double time. At the end of their first meal together he had ripped his paper serviette to shreds. It had turned to white dust beneath his touch falling onto the restaurant floor like breadcrumbs.

He hit Alice for the first time a few weeks later. Her cheekbone was black, actually black. She looked like a child who’d had a mishap with face paint. At least she didn’t deny that Brad had hit her.

His book isn’t selling all that well, she said. He got a little mad that I’m on the bestseller lists and he isn’t. After all, I only write romantic fiction. It’s hardly Booker prize winning stuff.

Genoa couldn’t believe Alice was defending him. I hope you’re going to leave him, she said. Hitting you is unforgivable. You can’t let him get away with it.

Alice changed the subject. She stopped meeting Genoa for coffee. She didn’t answer her phone. When Genoa went round to her house it was dark and empty. An assortment of junk mail littered the front porch. One day when Genoa was coming home from work on the bus she saw Alice standing in the street. She had a bandage on her arm. Genoa banged on the bus window and pulled the cord, urging the busdriver to stop; but by the time she got off the bus Alice had gone.

It was raining the day Alice called her old friend. A lot of momentous things happened to Genoa when it rained. It just seemed to be the way of things.

Please come, Alice said. There was a clunk as if she had dropped the phone. Genoa screamed silently on the car ride over to Alice’s house, fearing she would find her dead in the hallway.

Alice was sitting on the front porch in her underwear holding the one kilo weight. She handed it to Genoa.

I can’t, I can’t, she said.

The weight was wet, sticky. Genoa wondered if Alice had thrown it from the upstairs window and it had landed in the muddy flowerbeds beneath, but when she put it down on the floor in the hallway she noticed her hands were covered in blood.

Alice, what’s going on? Are you bleeding? Did he hit you again? Genoa could feel hysteria rising like heartburn in her throat. She grabbed Alice by the shoulders, searching her face and body for any sign of injury.

He said he was going to kill me. Alice’s voice was dull. I believed him. He had no colour in his eyes, only black. Black eyes are a sign of evil, right? I was afraid. I didn’t want to die.

Brad had come into Alice’s study and had started to throw Alice’s stories around the room, crunching them underfoot. The world would be better off without this true love crap, he said, ripping handfuls of Alice’s work in two. The world would be better off without you.

He had pushed her towards the window, she remembered hearing the sound of the rain on the ground below, curiously soothing until he told her he was going to kill her. He put his hands to her throat and began to squeeze. She struggled, knocking books off her desks, pots of pencils, folders. She felt for something, anything, and came across the one kilo weight.

I picked it up without thinking, she said. I slammed it into his head. Just once. He fell straight away. I think he might be dead.

Brad was dead. Part of his skull had been caved in by the weight. A thin trail of blood smudged each of the stories lying on the study floor.

Alice was hovering at the door, clamping her hand over her mouth. Bruises were starting to form on her neck.

It’s fine, said Genoa. Cut and dried self-defence case. There’s nothing to worry about.

Alice grabbed Genoa’s arm. Her nails dug into the flesh. But I might go to jail, she said. I can’t go to jail, Gen. You know I can’t. You’ve got to help me. Please. It has to look like an accident.

Genoa walked onto the landing. She walked up and down the staircase several times. You’re lucky I watch CSI as much as I do, she said. We’ll have to throw him from the top of the staircase but we can’t drag him there because of the blood. We’ll have to lift him.

Genoa got a towel from the bathroom and wrapped Brad’s head in it. A dead man’s bleeding head. The towel was printed with tiny white daisies that turned red almost immediately. The head contained an amazing amount of blood. She hadn’t expected that, she had thought it was mostly bone.

When she was done she lifted his torso while Alice lifted his legs. They staggered to the top of the staircase and on the count of three threw him down. His arms flailed outwards and for a panic-stricken moment Genoa thought he was still alive, but when he landed with a sickening thump she knew he was dead, perhaps deader than before. Impossibly, he had landed on the side of the head where Alice had dealt the deadly blow. It was a perfectly staged accident.

While Alice moaned and wept Genoa cleaned up. She was like Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction. The cleaner removing every speck of blood that was in a place it shouldn’t be. When she was finished they called the police.

The investigation went smoother than expected. Death by misadventure, they called it. It was the lead story in the papers for a few weeks but it soon died down.

Now Genoa sat in her garden sipping tea. She had friends over for lunch. The one kilo weight was propping open the French door that always blew shut with the wind. It had been there for months. Some of Genoa’s friends commented on how weathered it had become, growing rusty with the wind and the rain.

Genoa wanted to tell them it was dried blood, not rust, but she smiled instead, her eyes flying to the daisies she had planted when she knew Alice was in the clear. In the earth beneath them lay Alice’s stories, stained with her lover’s blood as well as the blood soaked towel. Six foot under. Genoa had dug for an entire day just to be sure. The daisies were growing rapidly, thriving on stories and blood.

Genoa passed around sandwiches and grinned.

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34 thoughts on “Dead Weight

  1. Selma – can I have some of your imagination? Well done pal. And I love how you even brought in a common writerly issue – what is “real” writing and what is “not.” Woe betide anyone who dares make assumptions now! 🙂

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  2. Bravo, you had me going from the very beginning. A true tragi-comic (pseudo-) feminist read.

    Loved the ‘everything coming up daisies’ spring time ending how apropos.

    Joanny

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  3. Oh my, how creepy! I love the little detail of the daisies on the towel that you carried through to the end. Did a little jig in my chair when they got away with it.

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  4. Hi GEETLY:
    I am really glad you liked it and thanks for stopping by!

    Hi SUN DANCE HILL:
    Oh, you are very welcome. I should be the one thanking you for reading 😀

    Hi WILLOW:
    My Mum actually has a set of those old weights in her kitchen. They would make a deadly weapon, for sure. I really appreciate you stopping by!

    Hi JENNIFER:
    Haha. I’ve met a couple of writers in my day who are a little snobby about certain genres and feel things like romance are not ‘real fiction.’ The truth is, whatever your genre, writing is hard work.

    Hi VICKI:
    It probably was a bit of a shock for some people. I had one of those days yesterday, dealing with difficult people. This story worked out a lot of my stress from the day. Thanks for stopping by!

    Hi MELEAH:
    I’m glad they didn’t get caught. But you never know, someone might discover the weight in the garden years later…..

    Hi JOANNY:
    WOW. What a fabulous comment. I am thrilled you got the daisies reference. Great to see you!

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  5. Hi MANOJ:
    It is a bit of a shocker, I know. 😀

    Hi DAOINE:
    We are bad for being glad they got away with it. Aren’t we? Glad you liked the ‘pushing up daisies’ reference!

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  6. Selma:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today and leaving such a nice comment..
    Early I noticed your sidebar of previous posts and wanted to come back later — which is now and read a couple– well I was not disappointed — naturally I started with the Ghost Story– I almost put a photo of a long hallway in mine — loved your photo — picture perfect for setting the stage of what was to come. and I loved that ‘Passion Pop’ comment right in the middle of a stressful situation, crazy thoughts that float through our minds — great line for a screen play –in the thick of things.. love your style of writing — from the comments was that a ‘true story’?
    Mostly I write from a mixture of prior experiences and use situations as material for writing.
    Will read more of your work — interesting indeed.

    Joanny

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  7. Wow A+ with the creativity there.

    After viewing the photo, all I could think of was when a weight I was using fell on my 9th grade baseball coach’s foot–breaking several bones. Needless to say, I got cut from the team.

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  8. “She knew he was dead, perhaps deader than before” Brilliant line!
    Never knew murder – oh, okay, self-defence – could be so much fun!

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  9. Really great- so creative, totally caught my attention. Some of the language you use is just amazing- I particularly like how you compared the paper flying around her room to that of habits, and the details about the daisies.

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  10. Hi JOANNY:
    It was indeed a true story. I have come across quite a few ghosts in my time. I am thinking of writing about the ghost I encountered in my previous house. It was quite scary. The whole neighbourhood knew about it because they used to see her at the window. It really is a great true story!

    It was my pleasure to stop by your blog. I look forward to reading more of your work.

    Hi BRIAN:
    I am really glad you liked it and delighted you stopped by!

    Hi SLAMDUNK:
    Oh, no. I was clumsy like that. I was always dropping things or tripping over in the gym class. Eventually my teacher told me just to sit in the corner and read a book. So glad you liked the story!

    Hi PETE:
    I am a big fan of murder stories that are slightly tongue-in-cheek. There was a British show on years ago called ‘Murder Most Horrid’ that was very much like that. I really enjoyed it. I am thrilled you liked that line and thanks for stopping by!

    Hi RUBYELIZABETH:
    There was a show when I was a kid called ‘The Flying Nun.’ The nuns wore these habits that flicked up at the sides. Whenever I see paper flying around I always think of those habits. So glad you liked the story.

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  11. Selma, This one is kinda like “Volver” meets “Fried Green Tomatoes.” Yeah , those paper weights can sure rust quickly , given the right “atmospheric” conditions…hehehe……
    Great read . I love the murder mystery genre.

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  12. P.S. There are some lava tubes at the end of my “Dead End” road, that “may”, have a similar story.

    who knows ? ……..No One, Will, I, think 🙂 yes, the caps in this line are an anagram. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    There is a difference between kill, and murder in the Greek language. But most times, not in court.

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  13. Bravo, Selma. Wonderfully written, what a great read. I was disappointed it had to end. So glad I came back to read this, after reading the lovely magpie tale yesterday.

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  14. Hi PUNATIK:
    Do you mean that a dead body could be put down one of the lava tubes? Yikes. Not ever having lived anywhere near a volcano I don’t know about things like that. Talk about great subject matter for a murder-mystery. I would love if you wrote one *hint hint*

    Hi ATTILA:
    So glad you like it and great to hear from you 😀

    Hi GABRIELLE:
    Those detectives should all be sacked. It wouldn’t get past Miss Marple, though!

    Hi ROWE:
    I am so glad you liked this. I was worried that it would fall flat because murder isn’t really my genre (although I love reading it) so I am really pleased!

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  15. Hi Selma, I enjoyed reading your story. However, I do have one suggestion, if you should rewrite your story, try writing it from Genoa’s first person viewpoint and with her as the narrator.

    Cheers,
    David.

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  16. Hi DAVID:
    That’s a good point. It would probably flow better that way. I’m not sure if I will rewrite it, however. I have to be honest and say I find this genre difficult. I really admire murder writers. how do they do it?

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  17. I really admire murder writers. how do they do it?

    I dare say with the old 1% inspiration and 99% persperation. They probably spend years studying the genre, reading the classics and the contemporary works and writing, writing, writing, rewriting again and again. Maybe they find a mentor or take some classes, do some workshops,some on and offline critiquing. Submit their work to agents and editors and publishers -starting off with small press mags that pay by contributor copies and working their way to a deal with a major book publishers -all the while getting rejected again and again and again until they make it.

    Regards,
    DavidM

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  18. I won’t / can’t write about it. Check out our friend’s “Secrets……” # 399. There , you have the ball.
    The best murder/killer writers won’ admit it …but they know murderers/killers. That’s why their stuff smacks of authenticity.

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  19. So sorry I missed this last week. Wonderful Poe-feel to it.

    And that weight ended up bringing the best luck of all when she needed it, don’t you think?

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  20. Hi DAVID:
    I actually meant the question in a rhetorical sense but you offer great tips for a would-be mystery writer.

    Hi PUNATIK:
    I would believe that, actually. I suppose it’s a good thing I don’t know any murderers/killers. Or do I? *insert spooky organ music here*

    Hi TEX:
    I am thrilled you thought that. That has made my day. The weight certainly proved to be lucky !

    Hi LISSA:
    I’ll look forward to what you write for it in the future . I missed it this week – it’s just been a crazy past few days. But I’ll be back on board next week for sure.

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