Today my challenge comes from nerdknowslife.com again found via Pinterest.
The page has several writing challenges, all of them giving great ideas for writing creatively, whether that be fiction or non-fiction.
I could have chosen so many from the list but decided on a story based on fact today, as who doesn’t love a bit of research? This is the challenge:-
Look up ‘Superstitions’. Choose one and write a story about it.
I chose ‘Don’t Walk Under A Ladder.’
On a personal note I used to always avoid walking under ladders, but I was going through a period of time where so much bad stuff was happening that I just thought walking under couldn’t make things any worse than they’d been and from that time forward I walk under ladders every time there’s one in the way.
I initially misread the challenge and was all set to write a piece based on research around the subject, however, noticed my mistake quite quickly, but as I’m trying to gain in confidence by writing fiction to share here I thought I’d jump in like I did the other day – when I wrote something creative for this blog for the very first time. You can find that Daily Challenge by clicking it 🙂
‘Don’t Walk Under A Ladder.’
The memories were fading fast; once sharp and bright they now resembled tattered, ages-old photographs, edges worn from years of handling; frayed malodorous dustiness and mustiness, formed from a lifetime’s perfumes, houses, and all they contained, proof of another life to which she hadn’t belonged for decades.
She sniffed, fist-wiped her nose and scraped at her eyes with mucus covered fingers, which she proceeded to wipe down the front of her heavy overcoat.
Taking a deep breath, she grabbed at the back of the trolley, knees creaking as she forced her bulk up. Why was life so hard?
Everything had been fine until she was 24. She’d had a great job, a handsome boyfriend, who she’d felt may be considering marriage, and had a contagious optimism.
One lunchtime she’d gone for some air. The 5th floor stockroom was stuffy and made her feel as if she’d taken a bath and dressed herself without being properly dry; her clothes clung gracelessly to her calves, butt and bust and her hair was already damp from the sweat which had no escape from the new beret she’d bought only the week before.
As she continued her walk there was increasing noise from across the road. Everyone turned to look at the fracas and she joined them, glancing backwards and forwards as she tried to prevent herself bumping into anything which may be sat on the pavement.
A throng of people began moving across the road. There was no clear individual voice which would indicate the reason for the disturbance, just a swarm of vague, blurred sounds, but it was enough to cause her to jerk her head up abruptly, and as she did, in her peripheral vision she spotted a ladder leant against the building directly in front of her. She changed position to avoid walking under the ladder but as she did her ankle bent over and she found herself flying headfirst beneath the steps.
From that moment on that her life deteriorated; it felt as though she wasn’t living her own life, but that of another person. Gerry ended their courtship only five days later; she was then released from her stockroom job two weeks afterwards and just seven weeks later her landlord decided her room was no longer available for rent. Her sense of unease increased with each new change. Was this a curse? If it wasn’t she wanted to know what else it could be.
Packing her small case, she glanced around the room. She’d removed the bedspread she’d saved her wages for; the room wasn’t decorated to her taste and she’d wanted to stamp her identity on it to make it feel more like home; something of her own she’d never had before.
Walking along the high street she had no idea where to go. As an orphan there were no parents to return home to. She desperately thought of her fellow orphans and if any of them would welcome her if she arrived on their doorsteps with a suitcase. Thinking it unlikely she kept walking.
The café looked warm and inviting. She walked in and looking about her saw one table empty. She’d barely sat down when the waitress came over and with a whisper, she was told the table was not free. She failed to understand why but accepted it as this obviously was her run of bad luck continuing.
Raising her chin, she looked deeply into the eyes staring back at her. Her look must have conveyed some sorrow or desperation for the waitress led her to a stool by the counter, poured her a cup of tea from a huge stained, but well-scrubbed teapot. Adding a couple of spoons of sugar to the cup the waitress handed it to her with a wink and turned to slice a thick doorstep of a slice of fruitcake. She reached into her handbag and taking her purse she offered the price of the tea and cake. The waitress waved her hand away, then turned and walked over to two tables which needed clearing.
She sat drinking her tea and eating her cake whilst thinking through her options. She only had the remainder of last weeks wages in her purse, but she had enough in savings to help her through about a month.
Optimistic as ever, she decided to find a room and after a day or so look for work; her extensive stock room experience would hopefully mean she could find a similar position, she just hoped it would be a quick job hunt.
The afternoon light was ebbing as day turned to evening and she left the café, leaving the money for the cuppa and cake on the counter. If nothing else she felt the waitress could take it as a tip.
Aware that she was unlikely to find a room to rent long-term at this hour she made her way to the guest houses, searching in vain for one with a ‘vacancies’ sign. Typically, there weren’t any available. She was truly alone and felt the pain of it in every atom of her being.
She spent three hours walking and finally, after several offers of money for services she realised she had to find somewhere safe to sleep.
That was the beginning of a long life on the streets. Over the weeks and years which followed she became accustomed to how to survive. Her once beautiful bedspread had finally fallen apart in the 1960s having given her nineteen years of faithful friendship, a familiarity and intimacy she rarely felt anywhere else and never with anyone else.
She had walked every day her entire adult life searching for something good; for luck, for love, for happiness, but it was still yet to come.
She remembered the waitress, whose kindness she remembered to this day. The memory of tea and cake in safety a warm glow within a dull existence. It was the café she was heading to when she had fallen. Her trolley was old now, but she couldn’t manage her belongings without it now and it had caught an uneven paving slab and over it had gone, taking her with it.
Her tear and snot-scabbed face was itching and sore but she knew she must continue her journey. She felt that maybe something good would happen if she could just make it back to where this had all started.
She turned the corner. The café was no longer there. In its place was a brightly coloured façade telling her that maybe Greggs was the place for a cup of tea and cake, so she continued until she reached the glass.
People stared at this filthy, elderly woman, with a shopping trolley full of an assortment of coloured plastic bags; many of them turning away, some looking horrified that she may just walk in and ask for some food, or call out for money, but she was happy enough, seemed satisfied enough to just sit and watch as everyone went about with their own lives.
Shelves chock-full with varied refreshments, none could ever be as luscious to her as that doorstep of fruit cake she’d eaten so many years ago, but she wasn’t foolish; knew that life was very different now and fast food had long ago replaced the quality foods made in the café.
After half an hour she struggled to her feet, re-wrapped her scarf around her and continued walking. A few short minutes later she was standing in the exact spot where she’d flown under the ladder. Knowing there was nothing she could do to reverse what happened she simply lowered herself to the ground and sat, sighing as after all these years she’d made it back.