30/30/30 competition entry unveiled…

This piece is one of my 30/30/30 writing challenge competition entries.I submitted it for the Daphne Du Maurier Festival Short Story Writing Competition. The theme was ‘Rendezvous’ and was open to any genre or style including verse.I took a bit of a gamble and opted to submit my entry in poetic form, and strictly speaking it is actually a collection of micro stories within a story… Needless to say it didn’t win a prize, but as followers of this blog will know, winning was never my goal for this challenge (although awards and prizes are nice!). A second entry submitted for the same competition was a piece of prose and will be posted tomorrow. So here you go, my first entry to be unveiled….

FIVE O’CLOCK TUESDAY

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It’s five o’clock on Tuesday, another week is underway
Inside this old apartment block, weary faces end their day
Up the winding staircase, grand and new it was back then
Along the halls. Out with the keys. Unlock to what greets them
Through the years they’ve come and gone, faces fresh and old
Story after story, rarely shared as they unfold
Rumours, whispers, legends held as history is made
Within the walls, behind the doors, of this fair facade
Today the times are changing, and yet things stay the same
The details are updated; people… place… a name
But here lies human nature, most fragile at its core
The loss, the love, the laughter we’re destined to explore

Home at last, a lonesome widower, creases in her brow
Stopping for a moment to think of when and how
The man she loved, her beauty lost to ravages of war
Fighting illness and disease, the battlefield they saw
For one brief moment, can she hear his old familiar voice
Wishing she could just stop time, but knowing there’s no choice
Behind the door a faithful friend awaits his mistress home
Together near on fifteen years, makes sure she’s not alone
They meet each evening at this hour, and share a tender kiss
The one she used to save for him, but now it’s come to this
A wagging tail, some ruffled fur, his big soft doe eyes
Someone to soothe her wounded heart each evening as she cries

To Number Twelve teen girls return, in chitter and in chatter
‘What’s his name?’ ‘What ya done?’ ‘D’ya think I’m getting fatter?’
Dancing by the big screen, typing on the small
‘He said, you said..’ ‘I dunno. I say screw ’em all!’
‘Who cares what he thinks anyway, I heard that boy’s a nutter.’
‘Flipped his lid at home one night, cos his Mom’s drunk in the gutter.’
And so it goes to and fro, ’til key turns in the door
Dad’s just in from his long day, some order’s been restored

Down at fifteen, two young lovers writhe upon the floor
It’s five o’clock on Tuesday but they need some minutes more
To enjoy the guilty pleasures, their most clandestine of trysts
For this one is no fairytale, the plot here has a twist
They started out as neighbours, each busy with their lives
The cat, the dog, the two young kids… and of course their wives
Keeping up appearances behind their own front doors
But something in their furtive gaze neither could ignore
And so it is they meet each week, ashamed, though they can’t stop
How much they want their rendezvous, Tuesday at five o’clock

If only Number Nineteen knew what went on down the hall
The occupier of this home would not like that at all
He has a place for everything, a creature of routine
Careful with his property, he’s counted every bean
The rug points North, the chair points South to catch the evening sun
One ornament sits North/NorthWest, a special gift from mom
A porcelain dancing peasant girl, her pose is animated
But though she takes her pride of place, she’s one of the most hated
She doesn’t fall in line you see, like tea towels, tins and books
Spines are alphabetical, their order hides the nooks
Those secret little places which, if you try to look too close
Will show up all the dust and dirt, the skeletons, the ghosts
Keep things just the way they are, keep them all in A to Zee
Perfect, streamlined, happy. How it looks, how it must be

An academic lives at Twenty-Two, he longs for some excitement
His study walls lined with books, each one a sharp indictment
Of time spent reading, thinking, learning, studying in pursuit
Of stimulation, outcomes, goals, of labours bearing fruit
To the exclusion and the cost of family and fun
His modest motivation was to please himself bar none
A past in which he’d loved and hurt, wondered if he’d just gone mad
Ignored the kids, betrayed his wife who’d stayed through good and bad
Until the day he turned on her, held her up against the wall
Driven by rage and lust and fear, he didn’t hear her call
Hear her screaming out his name, pleading him to stop
He kept on going with wildest eyes, until he saw her drop
Releasing her throat, she hit the floor, her breath now rasped and shallow
Staring down at her bare breast, its skin all soft like mallow
The light that shone across her face, pale bar a hint of blue
Showed something strangely beautiful, arousing something new
Suddenly he’d felt alive, his heart was beating strong
Inside a tiny part of him, he’d pushed away so long
Now creeping out of every pore, and raging like a river
It was only when he saw her eyes, emotion made him shiver
Numbed, she left him after that, but sure she’d not press charges
Maybe if she might have done, he wouldn’t have these urges
To feel extremes of power and hate that fuel his brilliant brain
Instead of trapped within these walls, his life filled with disdain
So every Tuesday, five o’clock, he remembers what has been
Enjoys reliving what went on, the night he heard her scream

Stella’s finished early, and is prepping for a date
Stripping off her business suit, high heels, she feels sedate
Calm and ready, don’t be needy, behave like its a meeting
Then some wine, maybe dinner, see if attraction’s fleeting
An imagined flash behind his eyes, or maybe something real
Every day he comes to work, she just can’t help but feel
That he’s the one, her other half, the man to end her plight
Of curling up with vodka and Valium, another lonely night
At the window peering up and down, her panic creeps like vines
Tightening around her neck, across her face in lines
It’s five o’clock, he’ll be here soon ‘I did say Tuesday, right?’
She wonders if he’s just got lost, his car is not in sight
He’s not the kind for running late, maybe he forgot
No matter what, she knows she told him, Tuesday, five o’clock

The penthouse on the upper floor tops the apartment tree
Charles and Joan the society folk live in nourished harmony
The stay at home, the classic wife, there every day since wed
Heartbreakingly no children, their bloodline gone un-bred
Home early Tuesdays for date night, a habit of forty years
But what’s that when Charles turns the lock? No music to his ears
No crockery on the table, no smell of home cooked roast
This really is unlike his wife, always the perfect host
Television’s on, but there’s no picture playing there
What’s that he sees, is that her glasses perched upon the chair
He tip toes in, she must be sleeping, to wake her with his kiss
Getting close, her arm hangs down, is something here amiss
At her side he kneels and moves it gently back in place
Then turns to notice something that looks different in her face
The grey and chalky pallor that does not yield beneath his touch
A sense of overwhelming fear, this really is too much
She can’t be gone, not here not now, his eyes fill up with dread
He puts his hands around her face, and tries to shake her head
To see if he can rouse her, to hear her breathe again
Did he see a flicker, a blink… What was that just then?
But no, it’s not a sign of life just something in the air
That brushed along his shoulders and ruffled through her hair
He sits and holds her hand a while, his mind and body rock
Thinking what he’d give for one more Tuesday, five o’clock

****************************************

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16 responses to “30/30/30 competition entry unveiled…

  1. This works really well. You can sense the passage and motion of those around. It reminds me of a piece I have about my view from the bedroom window.

    Nick

  2. I really like this, Vanessa. It has a definite flow, and reminds me (for some reason) of the movie “Rear Window”. Perhaps it’s the words – the ability to see inside so many lives. Wonderfully done regardless. You should have won (even if it wasn’t your driving force)! ~ Love, B

  3. Vanessa! That was just a flawless read…how you maintained such a pace throughout the weave is an impressive feat all it’s own. This has that “just begging to be written” feel to it…like you’ve been holding back and it was a race to get the words to the paper. Loved it!

  4. This was so rich, so deep in characterisation, – I loved the setting, how you sliced up all the rooms into different lives- and there’s so much here- love, life, death, affairs, abuse, there’s light and dark. A fantastic poetic narrative detailing aspects of the human condition- and how we live so closely with each other- yet do we REALLY know each other….to write something like this is quite an achievement- you should be VERY VERY pleased with the result – it is excellent!

  5. sorry that it took me so long to get here…i like how you paint the different characters in all the details here..and i so agree..human nature IS most fragile at its core…

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