Writing 101: Be Brief

I arrive at the beach and stare down its vacant stretch; my familiar walk to nowhere. All is greys and browns, except for a fluttering piece of yellow. A paper, caught between the stones of the seawall. Its a letter written from a fearful heart, the woes and wishes of the universe, compacted into its pages.

‘If you feel the same way,’ it finishes, ‘meet me at the last bench on the promenade. I’ll be waiting.’

I crumple the edges, nearly screw it up in resentment. How can someone else know my pain so well?. Is this some kind of a trick? But then I wonder if the sea breeze has finally heard me. Whoever it was written for must never have wanted it. Instead, it fell to me.

I look down the long line of benches that face the bleak horizon. A few bodies are perched on them, mostly the elderly from nearby retirement homes. But is that a girl amongst them? A spark of trepidation, an element of possibility that I haven’t felt forever, spreads like heat in my chest. I pick up the pace, wondering how to explain that I understood the letter, that I have seen all those things, been to the places where uncertainty thrives and loneliness is king.

But as I reach the end of the stretch, I realise nobody is waiting. Just a cruel trick of the senses. I sink on to the bench and look for some evidence of her presence, an after note perhaps, crying out for an answer to her abandonment. But the wind has removed any such gesture. It’s cold again.

Writing 101 involves twenty writing exercises over twenty days. See here for more info.

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Author: alexjrankin

Journalism and short stories.

5 thoughts on “Writing 101: Be Brief”

  1. Oh gosh, how tragic. I love the simplicity of your writing – normally I’m not a big fan of plopping the reader into the story with no background knowledge, but you pull it off very well. Wonderful job. xx

  2. That’s great. It was based on the seafront of Falmouth where I went to university so quite vivid for me. Lots of memories from there.
    I only truly engage with a story if I can see it in my head so I’m glad that happened for you.

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