Today, in the creative writing seminar, I read out the first draft of a short story which I'd come up with in the holidays.
It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop, the usual chuntering had stopped. Everyone enjoyed it, appreciating the way it grew darker as it progressed. I felt like a real writer :)
Yes, there are flaws; an anachronistic glitch was pointed out to me, I need to upgrade video to dvd! But they genuinely liked it - yay!!!!
Here it is, so you can share it too - let me know what you think .......
Box of Secrets
My box of secrets lies under my bed. It is huge and heavy. It’s a travelling trunk that belonged to my Grandfather in the 1920s. He used to travel around the world for his newspaper column, so it’s a little tatty, but I’ve had it since I was two, and I can’t imagine ever not having it. The big, brass lock is engraved with his initials; CAD, Charles Arthur Dobson. My name is Charlie Dobson, I was named after Granddad. The big, brass key is heavy. I keep it hidden behind my Biggles books on the top shelf of my bookcase in the corner of my room.
It was given to me to keep my Duplo, then Lego, in when I was small, to stop my bedroom floor being covered in small plastic pieces. I grew out of Lego long ago, but the chest has stayed. Now I keep my secrets in it. We all have secrets, don’t we? Things we’d rather other people didn’t know. I’ll tell you a few of mine. I know you won’t divulge them to anyone else. You’d better not.
When I was eight I was run over by a car. I was in hospital for six weeks with my leg pinned together. No football for me that summer. Once I came out of hospital people noticed that I wasn’t acting the same as I had before I’d been knocked down. I was snappy, and would fly off at the slightest thing. I even hit my mum one day; she’d said ‘No.’ when I asked to watch a video.
‘But why, Mum? There’s nothing on TV.’
‘I think you should go in the garden for a while and get some fresh air, love. You might not be able to play football, but there’s a lot of other things to do.’
‘Well, there’s the hoop-la in the shed. There’s the darts board on the back of the garage door, you’ve always loved playing darts. You could try your bike. The doctor said you could do most things now, as long as you don’t overdo it at first.’
‘But I want to watch the video, Mum. I don’t want to go outside.’
‘I said “no”, Charlie. That’s the end of the matter. Please go outside and get some fresh air. If you don’t want to play, then take a book outside. I’m going to vacuum the house, and I don’t want to be vaccing around you. Off you go, please.’
Next thing I knew, Mum was on the floor, a red river gushing from her nose.
‘Mum, are you ok? I’m sorry, Mum, I’m sorry. Mum, Mum? Wake up, Mum!’ I grabbed the tea-towel and held it to her nose. I felt awful. I could see drops of water on her t-shirt; that’s when I realised I was crying.
I was so relieved when she started to move, and her eyes opened. ‘Oh, Mum, thank goodness you’re alright. I’m so sorry, Mum. I don’t know what happened. Your nose is bleeding. Are you ok? I’m sorry, Mum, I’m sorry.’
‘It’s ok, Charlie. Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.’ She said, but she didn’t look it.
Her face was so white you could see all the freckles that normally are hidden by her tan. And the blood! I felt sick, now, there was so much of it. I just stayed crouching there, until she started to get up. Then I leapt up, and helped her. She was a bit unsteady, and I pulled one of the stools from under the breakfast bar for her to sit on.
‘What shall I do, Mum? Shall I make you a cup of tea?’ That’s what adults always do, isn’t it, when something’s gone wrong? Make a cup of tea.
‘Yes, please, love. That would be nice.’ She said. ‘Come here, though, first.’
I turned back to her, and walked over. She pulled me to her and gave me a hug. ‘Don’t worry, son, you didn’t mean it. I know that. Make me a cuppa, and get yourself a glass of orange. I’ve been meaning to talk to you, so we’ll have a little chat and a drink. Okay?’
I nodded, and went to switch the kettle on. I put a tea bag in a mug for Mum, then opened the fridge to get some juice. By the time the switch clicked off I’d poured it out, and got the milk ready. I made it quite strong, just how she likes it, and took it into the lounge, where Mum was sitting. She’d been and changed her t-shirt, and washed her face, so she didn’t look as bad, but her nose was swollen and bruised. I sat down next to her, I felt like a little child.
‘Charlie, love, since you came out of hospital you’ve been finding it really difficult to control your temper, haven’t you?’
I nodded. I didn’t trust myself to speak, I felt like crying again, and boys don’t cry.
‘Well, I spoke to Dr. James yesterday, and he’s arranged for you to see someone who’s going to talk to you, and explain how to manage better. Then you won’t hit out at people, or be so cross when little things go wrong.’ She smiled at me to show that she wasn’t angry with me. ‘You know how sometimes, when soldiers come back from the war zones, like in Afghanistan, they suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome? Well, the accident has affected you in the same way. The counsellor will explain it better than I can, but apparently, after an accident that wasn’t your fault, it’s quite common to feel like you do. I’m taking you to see her tomorrow morning. Her name is Angela. Okay, honey?’
‘Yes, okay. I’m really sorry, Mum, I didn’t mean to hit you.’
‘I know, sweetie, I know. It’s okay. Dr. James says Angela knows all sort of tricks you’ll be able to use to help get back to normal. Let’s enjoy our drinks, shall we? Then I think we’ll both sit and watch a video together. How’s that?’
‘Yes, great. Can I have a biscuit?’
Mum nodded, and I ran off to get the biscuit tin.
Angela, my counsellor, explained all about “traumatic shock”, and said that what I was going through was common. It was more like an illness, not me being naughty. But she also explained that it was up to me to conquer it. Nobody else could do it, but she would work with me, until we’d found the best way for me. She called it ‘Anger Management’, and I saw Angela twice a week for the first month, then once a month for a while, then again after six months, and she said I was fine.
The best way we found for me to stop exploding when things went wrong was to write down whatever it was that had annoyed me; fold the paper up into a tiny ball, then bury it in the garden when I got home. Once it was buried, I had to recognise that it had gone, and was over with. I had to forget it and move on. Mum gave me a section of garden where I could bury my notes, and that’s what I did. At first. After a while, I was just burying pieces of blank paper; my real notes I locked away in my trunk. I also locked away my log of the retribution I’d taken against anyone who annoyed me.
Take Brian, for instance. He kicked a muddy football at me one rainy day in September. He kicked it at me, not to me, and my new coat was filthy. I asked to be excused during the afternoon lesson, and took his new jacket and stuffed it into one of the cisterns in the girl’s toilets. It wasn’t discovered for ages, not until someone complained about the toilet not flushing very well.
Then there was Arshid. He knocked over my Coke©, then laughed. That pissed me off, so later, when nobody was about, I peed into his glass of orange juice. I could hardly keep from laughing when he drank it later! Keeping my “Retribution Record”, as I called it, really helped. I never lash out at people now, no matter how mad I feel at the time. I heard somewhere that “revenge is a dish best eaten cold”. I know what it means now. Sometimes it takes weeks for me to find the perfect opportunity to take revenge, but that’s fine, it’s all the sweeter for the waiting.
If I can, I take something to remind me of my revenge; like a souvenir you’d bring back from a holiday. It might be a button, like the one off Brian’s coat, the lace from a football boot, taken so that Bobby couldn’t play in the school match final. They’re all locked away with my log book. I got that idea from an episode of one of the CSI series, where the murderer kept souvenirs of all his victims. Sometimes there’s nothing I can take to remind me, so I make a more detailed entry in my Retribution Record; I can relive it better, then, when I want to sit and gloat.
So, now you know my secret hiding place and some of my secrets. You’d better remember my name; and if we meet, be careful not to upset me. I always take retribution. Be warned!