Saturday, March 24, 2012

Movie Week - Writing Prompts

This is a story that spans 7 days around the theme of movie titles as writing prompts everyday. Here are the first three with the rest to follow as separate posts. Enjoy and let me know what you think. All comments welcome!

The Usual Suspects

When things go wrong, I
blame the usual six so
round of applause please.

Time, melancholy,
ambition and lethargy,
luck and the weather. 

The Departed
Those six have an uncanny way of creeping up on you when you're busy playing life. Allow me to name the names of those I blame: time, melancholy, ambition, lethargy, luck and the weather. They're like a dance ensemble moving in unison, shifting in and out of space, blending in form then separating to show their true shape. Each has its own unique way of romancing you until your consciousness is captured. You become beyond your own reach. Then by some knee-jerking event that shakes you back to your senses, you realise that you were incognito and that it’s too late.

This is what happened. Jenna had been trying to reach Sarah on her mobile all day. She had tried the night before too. And when Sarah hadn’t answered the call, she had brushed it aside, convinced that it had just been too late into the night. The sms and the missed call recorded on Sarah’s phone would suffice and soon enough, Sarah would be calling her back. But Sarah never did call her. She hadn’t even responded to her message. It was so unlike the close friend that she was.

Jenna slumped in the nearest armchair, curling up with phone in hand, rubbing her fingers in her furrowed forehead, anxiously trying to dig out an explanation. A flashback scurried past through her mind as she recalled their last meeting almost a year ago. Has it been that long, she mumbled to herself. Everyone knew of Jenna’s erratic and busy lifestyle. They also knew of her absent-mindedness and her tendency to forget, moan about the weather and fret. Those who knew Jenna well accepted that she was just the Jen she would always be. Jenna had managed to squeeze in an hour to meet up with Sarah and Tom whom she hadn’t seen in months. As she would only be in town for a few days, she had much to do before her subsequent flight. Sarah had arrived a little late, as usual, and in between the chatter and catch-up banter, Jenna had kept a timely check on her schedule. She had to be out of the cafĂ© and in a taxi at exactly 12pm if she were to make it to her dentist’s appointment. The scene froze before her in her mind’s eye; that moment when Sarah had looked up at her just when Jenna had been saying her usual see-you-laters. Sarah had held on to her for the longest moment, her eyes wide and affixed on her face, searching, almost hoping for more time. It was a look that was yearning for lost moments and unsaid words, for things to be different and for a childhood that they had once shared. It was a look filled with the memories of the years that they had spent together and of the time they had known each other. It was Sarah’s moment of saying goodbye, although Jenna didn’t realise it at the time, nor did Sarah for that matter. But that scene that Jenna suddenly recalled now, as she sat there fiddling with the phone in her hands, filled her with a cold sweat. A rising panic threatened to engulf her as she sprang from the chair, banging her bare feet on the cold laminate flooring. She paced back and forth trying to think of a way to reach Sarah. And then the phone rang.


She hadn’t even given it time to ring. There was a long pause on the other end and the seconds ticked by filling Jenna with every passing moment with the growing assertion that her fears would soon be realised.

“Jen, it’s Tom.”

Jenna nodded to herself in slow motion, waiting to hear more. She opened her mouth to speak but her mouth had gone dry.

“Jen. I don’t know how to say this.” 

Jenna’s heart sank to the depths of the earth and all she could feel were the tears streaming down her face as her knees gave way. Sarah was gone. 

It had arrived in the post shortly after that tragic call. But Jenna only found it several months later, sitting on her coffee table, gathering dust. The original address on the package had been crossed out and numerous other forwarding addresses had been substituted. The sender’s address was old and faded. It was from Sarah.

An afternoon breeze gathered momentum and threatened to carry her away. Jenna sat on the bench, hands cradling the package, her gaze lost at the ocean’s horizon.

“Aren’t you gonna open it?”

Jenna flinched and brushed her hands against the roughened edges of the cardboard. She flicked a glance at a restless Tom who was sitting next to her and squeezed a soft smile. He had darkened circles under his eyes. Clearly he hadn’t been sleeping either. Was it guilt that he felt or was it an old longing? Either way, Sarah’s loss had left a void in both of their lives.

Jenna reached for the dried out strip of masking tape and tugged at it with one swift move. It didn’t require much effort as the cover gave way. There in the box lay a letter, a stack of photographs and the string of beads that they had spent many a summer designing together. She picked up the raspberry coloured necklace and turned the silver-plated pendant over. Friends forever, it said. She ran her thumb over the engraving that her young hands had carved many years ago and recalled their carefree days. 

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