Monday, 10 October 2011


The team over at F3 have a guest challenger for this week's prompt - David Barber!

He set us the task of constructing a story prompted by this picture and invited us tell a tale about these two old codgers in a car.

This is what it sparked off in me - please, do, leave a comment. (Check out the other contributor's stories, too - via the F3 page link!)


Ernest pushed the gear stick into neutral and pulled on the handbrake. For quite a few minutes neither he nor Sheila said a word, they just stared out through the windscreen at the lake. The softly falling rain ran in small rivulets, unimpeded by the now-stationary wiper blades and slowly the vista became blurred.

Sheila looked down at her hands, grasping the handbag on her lap. Her knuckles were white as she wrung the tan leather between her fingers. Ernest knew what was going through her mind, what was being played out in her unspoken fantasy. He knew well enough to stay quiet on this very special day.

Part of him hoped this would be the last time they would do this, but deep down he knew that in twelve months they would be back here, parked up beside this beautiful spot, imagining things that were far from picturesque.

Sheila’s frenzied attack on her bag was punctuated with short gasps, imagining the man she saw in her mind’s eye, until finally the tears came, in sympathy with the raindrops on the windscreen.

Ernest reached across and laid his large hand with its chubby digits on top of Sheila’s clenched fists, waiting for the tension to release.

For the last thirty-odd years they had performed this sad ritual, marking the summers that had passed since that fine July evening when their world had been turned upside down and all that they’d thought stable was washed away on a maelstrom of terror and unknowing.

Melanie’s body had been found by the edge of the lake and had set in train a sequence of police interrogation and subsequent trials until finally they were left alone with no answers or resolution. There were several possible candidates for the guilty party and though cases were brought none could be proven.

So, they had buried their daughter and gone through the motions of trying to get back to what passed for a normal life.

Somewhere, the details of Melanie’s possible abduction and murder by persons unknown languished in the back of a police filing cabinet unsolved, all but forgotten; one of those ‘cold case’ documents that implied that the police had not given up.

Still, after all this time there was no progress. All that remained was an aching loss which they felt was their duty to maintain, however painful or futile; as if to not remember would be like extinguishing their beloved daughter from all existence.

Sheila stirred and Ernest moved his hand back to the wheel. He turned the key in the ignition, the gentle purr of the engine masking the noise of Sheila blowing her nose, dabbing at her reddened face with yet another Kleenex.

The wiper blades swished back and forth, clearing the blurred image as the car turned away, homage paid; another anniversary laid to rest.


  1. yep - summed it up perfectly - dark, but very well written.

  2. That last image of the wiper blades will stay with me. Sad and eloquent story Sue. This is fine writing!

  3. Yes, I agree: Fine writing, Sue.

    Sad story.

  4. What a touching, sad story. Amazing what you can achieve without a single word of dialogue anywhere in the story. Beautiful!

  5. Heartbreaking but a great story!

  6. Very dark writing and the pain was very evident. Great writing. The characters spoke clearly with no dialogue. Great job.

  7. Dark, poignant prose... somehow made even sadder and more heartbreaking in its 'silence'... this is a story that demanded no dialogue... I see that now.

    Touching and beautiful... Thank you, Sue!