2014 'Write in The Week' Competition Winning Stories

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The theme for this year's competition was '...end of the line...'

1st

Sweet Soul Music by Fred Canavan

Daddy Greenshanks, an exceedingly hip and handsome frog, felt the raindrops patter on his skin,and heard the rumbling roll of thunder. He smelt the air. Gotta get back to the pond, man. Gotta see my lady... He heard Ray Charles`s throbbing piano...Hit the road, Jack, and doncha come back... A flurry of long-legged leaps landed him under the leaves of a hydrangea. Solid, man. Half way to the pond. He heard the harsh chacker-chacker of the magpies - was it the end of the line for Daddy G.? The boy and the girl came out. They liked to play in the shaded drive of the house on hot afternoons.
`Look what I`ve found,` the girl called, `a frog, a horrible slimy frog.`
Cool it, sister! You ain`t no oil painting, yourself!
The boy picked up the frog, and set him down on the lawn. Daddy Greenshanks cursed. Why doncha just paint a bulls-eye on my spotted green ass, junior? He pranced forward to the wailing sax of Junior Walker...I`m a road-runner, baby...The magpie launched his murderous dive.
`Who let the dog out?` roared the boy`s father, as Grip – a fiesty Jack Russell – flew at the bird. Daddy G. wriggled into a narrow plastic pipe at the back of the tennis court. Fat Rat squeezed after him... I`m a killer, I`m a thriller, I`m an urban guerilla... The frog snaked his body round and ran. Scarpering outside, he took a mighty flying leap. Susan Jones, smashing a back-hand volley past her newest squeeze, failed to see Daddy Greenshanks dive into her bag.
*
Susan and David sat by the pond; they kissed. He grew more daring.
`Oh, David! Stop that, you wicked boy!`
She rummaged for her jumper. Her fingers closed round a handful of wet, slippery frog. Screaming, she slung the garment skywards. Daddy G., plummeting into the pond, met Lady Longlegs. They swam together, their lithe and lissome limbs flexing and bending in the cold green water. The music flowed as they glided down into the depths... Let me wrap you in my warm and tender love...

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2nd

Wrong Number by Mary White

When the phone rang for the fourth time, after two cold calls and a wrong number, Emily howled with fury at another interruption to the intricate stitching of her wedding dress. On impulse she adopted a very different voice and answered crisply:
“The Manor Home for the Permanently Weary, Matron Speaking, How May I Help You?” and expected the caller to hang up. Instead she heard a heavy intake of breath followed by a gruff male voice with a decided West Country burr.
“Allo? Is that the bettin’ office? I’m after the bettin’ office.”
Oh Lord, thought Emily, I recognize that voice. That’s old Mr. Finch, keen on the horses and equally keen on a pint or three. No wonder he got a wrong number. She couldn’t confess, he would never let her forget it, so she continued:
“We do have a betting office at our Home – for those not too weary to use it,” she said, “but of course it is only open to residents.”
“Residents?” asked Mr. Finch “Can’t I just use the bettin’ office?”
“I am afraid not,” replied Emily, still crisp, “all our facilities are only available to residents.” “Right,” came the puzzled response, “what else you got I can’t use then?”
“Well now,” Emily decided she was enjoying herself, “we have a bowling green, a gym for the less weary and of course a spa.”
“I dunno what a spa does,” said Mr. Finch “and I don’t thinks I needs a gym.”
“I expect you are a fit and active gentleman,” commented Emily, knowing Mr. Finch’s dislike of manual labour and struggling not to laugh.
“Well, I think that’s between me and my wife, but she ain’t complained so far.”
Mr. Finch, clearly offended, hung up.
Emily, in better humour, returned to her stitching. Mr. Finch turned to his wife.
“‘Ere, Daisy, I just had a right nutter on the end of the line, said she was some Home for the Permanently Weary.”
“That’s nice,” said Daisy as she polished the floor, “I could do with one of those. Have you got the address?”

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3rd

The Final Stitch by Jane Wade

It isn’t like me to complain. I’m not the sort of person who moans about the weather being too hot or too cold; whatever the weather, I’m not bothered. So what if the buses are late or the neighbour’s dog barks all day? Who cares if the politicians are deplorable or there is never anything decent to watch on television? Don’t drag me into it. I’m quite happy sitting in my little corner while you are wasting your lives grumbling about things that you will never be able to change. Can’t you see me there, quietly sewing; so placid, so complacent?
So browbeaten, Robert my dear husband; so squashed beneath your thumb. You have weighed me down with your jibes, but I’ve always been strong enough to bear much of the hurt you have inflicted over the years, and when all else has failed I know how to hide behind my face. I can fool most people that way, except for the person I see in the mirror.!
Except for today.
It was to have been an heirloom, Robert. I’d been adding to it for years, week after week, and if you’d ever noticed you still wouldn’t have believed that someone so useless could have produced such a beautiful piece of work. And last night, after five years of meticulous needlework, I’d reached the end of the line. I’d sewn the final stitch while you were down at The Green Dragon with all your beery, sneery cronies, and I spread it across the tea table for the first time today. A pristine white cloth covered with tight, immaculate embroidery, especially to celebrate our anniversary. Did you see just what I’d achieved despite those years of our marriage? Was that why you knocked over your cup? Were you as horrified as I was at how quickly the brown puddle spread, or were you just delighted?
Did you see the bread knife before I picked it up, Robert? Goodness knows how I’ll ever get the tea stain out of that glorious cloth; let alone the blood.

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