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 –
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.