Friday 13 September 2019

Snapshot Stories #1

Snapshot Stories header, with a close up photo of a woman writing into a notebook on a dark wooden table, with two other notebooks near by
Original photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash.

Snapshot Stories #1

I am not a fiction writer in general. I've tried, but I really don't enjoy it. I don't have the patience for something that takes so long - I get bored very quickly in any endeavour that takes a long time to complete. And all that editing afterwards? Definitely not for me.

However, sometimes I see something out a window while people watching, and think "Who? What? Why?" Or I read a line in a book that is nothing in context of the story, but on it's own, it gets me thinking. I think "What if?" These questions spin in my brain until I create answers for them, and suddenly there's something. A scene or a character. And I can't help writing it down. They're so very short, they can hardly be called short stories, so I call them snapshot stories; just a moment in the life of the characters created. I thought I would share them with you, as and when I write them.

Here are Checkmate and The Dance (I'm really not particularly good at titles).

A close up of a beige and brown wood chessboard, focusing on the white/beige pieces, but instead there is one black/brown pawn where a white/beige pawn should be
Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash.


He sets everything up, and sits back on the bench. He scratches his face with a dirty hand through his long, thick beard as he waits, his unkempt hair shifting in the breeze. Next to him is a laundry bag full of his possessions, bar the clothes he wears - his threadbare green jumper, ill fitting tracksuit bottoms, trainers that have seen better days - and his most treasured possession; his chess set, sitting at his feet.

He's homeless, but he doesn't always beg. Instead, he uses what he knows. He thinks back to the time he used to play chess with his grandmother as a teenager, the skill he learnt from her. Smiling wryly, he wonders what they would both think of him now, using his chess skills to get by.

You pay, and he’ll play. He mainly has the odd competitor he'll see only the once, who enjoy the novelty, but he also has a few regulars, who come and play him at least once a week. At first, playing him was like those fairground games, where you throw a ball through a hoop; only occasionally do his competitors win. The more they lost, the more they came back. Pay him a few quid to try and best him. But now, it doesn't matter whether they win or lose. They spend half an hour enjoying a game and the camaraderie.

It’s roughly around now that one of his regulars arrives, along with a sandwich and a coffee. He sits, and he waits.

This story is inspired by the homeless man I've seen a number of times through the bus window on my commute to work. Sometimes he's waiting, sometimes he's playing. This is a work of fiction, though. All I know is what I see through the window, and it's very little.

A black and white photo of a a main in a suit and a woman in a silky looking dress with a bow on the back, danicng - the man on the left, the woman on the right, the right side of the top of her head against his right cheek - there are people in the background, a chandelier above, behind, and to the right of them
Photo by Alvin Mahmudov on Unsplash.

The Dance

She sits in the armchair, and picks up the photo frame on the side table. Listening to their song, she smiles as she looks down at the photo of her and her husband on their wedding day. Twenty years ago today.

She looks up as he walks through the door, and her smile widens, matching his. He hands her the rose he's holding, and with a bow, holds out his hand for her to take - may I have this dance. She takes his hand and rises to join him, placing a hand on his shoulder, still holding the rose.

They dance to their song, looking into each other's eyes, seeing nothing but each other. Soon, she closes her eyes, feeling so much joy as they spin across the floor.

As the song ends and the music fades, she opens her eyes, smiling at him. Only her smile fades as she realises he's not there. Just a memory. A tear falls down her cheek as she turns around and lays the rose down on his gravestone.

This snapshot story is a weird one, because it actually came about as a concept for a dance. I have these moments of wishing I could be on Strictly Come Dancing, and love the stories the professionals and celebs tell through dance. And I imagined this story, told through a Viennese Waltz. With a few props and lighting changes, they could easily switch from living room to cemetery. Though I'm not really sure if it would work as a Viennese Waltz - in my head, while she's dancing with her eyes closed, he lets her go and steps away, and she continues dancing on her own. Can you Viennese Waltz (or any ballroom) on your own without support - and without spotting as you spin? If so, it would probably take two professionals rather than a professional and a celeb. So if any professional Strictly dancers were to see this and create a dance, credit me, yeah? Haha!

Over to you graphic

So what do you think? Be nice, please! Haha! Are you any kind of fiction writer? Do you find inspiration from people watching? Or a single line in a book? What else inspires you? Are you not a fiction writer? Would you feel inspired if you were only writing something short and sweet? Let me know in the comments!

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