Last week, my 11 year old daughter and I did a fun writing exercise. We gave ourselves 10 minutes to write a short story and then swapped to read each other's work. I haven't written any fiction in a long time, so it was a challenge. I loved how the story unfolded as I went along, and when I stopped trying to think of ideas, they just flowed out of my pen without effort.
This is what I wrote.
Once upon a time, there was an old woman. She was a happy person; kind and generous with friends and strangers alike. One rainy afternoon, just as she settled down in front of the fire with a steaming cup of cocoa, a loud knock pounded on the door. Startled, she spilled her drink on the floor. "Drat!" she muttered, as she shuffled to answer the door.
Standing on the mat, soaked to the bone, was a bedraggled dog. Its poor face clearly asked her to come in, as it slightly shivered at the door.
"Oh, you poor thing!" the old woman exclaimed. She grabbed a towel as quickly as she could manage and ushered the dog indoors. It happily settled in front of the fire and was soon contentedly licking up a dish of warm milk and bread.
The old woman was saddened to think of someone abandoning this animal on such a wet day. "Don't worry, little one," she whispered as she stroked its head, "I'll look out for you."
Soon the dog - Brandy was the name she gave him - was settled into the house and the old woman couldn't believe she ever managed without him. She always exclaimed over his manners and helpfulness - for who ever saw a dog that wiped its feet before entering, or could make a delicious cup of tea, exactly as she liked it? It was astonishing.
Time passed. Winter turned to Spring, then Summer. The old woman began shuffling about more and more slowly. Her garden grew neglected, weeds choking the vegetable plot. She always had a smile or kindly word for all she met, but she didn't get out much. Brandy helped her more every day.
Without her even noticing, Brandy started looking more and more like a man in a fur coat, rather than a dog on all fours. As winter crept in, the old woman grew sleepy. She barely got out of bed these days. Brandy took care of her every need - now as a fully realised human. A Prince, in fact. Cursed with animal form for selfish behaviour, he was required to show unconditional love before the curse was broken.
As the old woman sighed her last breath, the Prince stroked her hand and cried.
It's not breaking any new ground or the beginnings of an epic tale, but it was kind of exciting to see what would come out next. If I was going to edit it, I would likely give the "old woman" an actual name, and turn the tale on its head a bit by making the dog prince into a princess. Or perhaps just an ordinary girl who got on the wrong side of a Faerie. The basic premise could do with plenty of tweaking to make the story more original and interesting.
I did like that it had a melancholy ending, however. Sometimes life is like that - good can come out of sad situations, but in order for the good to happen, you have to feel and experience the sadness.
In other news, I'm still tired all the time, but whingeing about it in my last blog post didn't actually accomplish anything. In some ways, it made me feel even more sorry for myself! So whatever. I'll just keep on. Only three more days until the summer break, and we can all lounge about in our jammies whenever we like! I think we all need to rest and recharge a bit.