To celebrate the launch of Punch for Prompt, I’ve set myself a project for the month of March: Create 4 pieces of writing based on Charlotte’s writing prompts.
You’re welcome to join the project and have some writing fun of your own! It’s very simple:
- Punch for a writing prompt.
The prompt I got was ‘Will you help me?‘
I must confess, I don’t follow Charlotte’s instructions when using writing prompts. Instead of writing straight away, I play. I allow my Creativity to mull over concepts and explore possibilities before I start actually writing.
What thoughts did my Creativity and I have when presented with this prompt?
Usually those who ask for help are helpless – small children, the elderly, displaced mice. But what if we turned that on its head?
That led to this short story.
Will You Help Me?
Grace MacDonald felt the 83-year-old muscles in her back, already protesting the morning walk, grumpily spasm as she spent the energy needed to stand up straight. Her focus changed from the speckled cement footpath below her feet and walking cane to the jeans and checked shirt of the stranger standing in front of her.
“I beg your pardon,” she said, conscious of the squeal from her hearing aid as she pushed it deeper into her ear.
“Will you help me?” said the man.
It had been many years since anyone had asked her such a question. In her school teacher days, students were always asking for help. Then there were her own children asking. Before she knew it, there were grandchildren asking. And then, yes, the last request for her help had been from the lips of her husband. Two days before his heart attack, his weakening fingers getting the better of him, he asked her to help him with the top button of his shirt.
Fifteen years ago had been the last time someone asked her for help. Since then, she’d been the one doing the asking.
“Help you? What with?” Now that she had straightened fully, she could get a better view of him.
He was a large man. ‘Strapping’ they would have called him back in her day. He towered over her, his muscular shoulders twice as wide as her frail frame.
She pulled her knitted blue cardigan tighter across her chest. What on earth could this brute of a man want help with? She glanced behind him. The butcher’s was only 200 metres away. If she called out…
“I’m looking for a street.” He slid a beefy hand into his shirt pocket.
Her heart sank. This area had changed so much over the past twenty years. When her children had gone to school, Ashville was a town in its own right. Now the area was swallowed by urban sprawl. Homes had been demolished and trees cleared to make way for apartment buildings and new roads. Everything was different. She could barely find her way to the corner store and back, let alone give directions.
The paper crackled in his hand as he unfolded it. “Berkshire Rise is the name,” he said.
“Oh.” A relieved smile touched her lips. “You’re very close. It’s two blocks that way.” She gestured up the road behind him.
“Wonderful.” His face softened. “I’m looking for an old house. Number 14. Do you know it?”
She nodded. “A beautiful house it was. Jacaranda trees in the front garden. But it’s not there anymore. Torn down for some new development.”
His big mouth drooped. “No. Really? I’ve come all this way and…” He ran a hand down the side of his face. “I was born in that house. Hoped I could come back and see it one more time.”
A breath caught in her throat with a wheeze. “You’re not one of the Sikes boys, are you?”
“Yes, Billy Sikes. That’s me.”
She laughed. “I remember you. You used to come and play in our backyard with my children. I even have a couple of photos of you in the album.”
“Mrs MacDonald! Of course! You made the best lemon meringue pie I ever tasted. Photos, eh? I’d love to see them.”
“Well, so you shall.”
With that she slowly turned around and walked him back to her home, all the way helping him recall the distant childhood memories he’d hoped to find.
It felt so good to help again.
Now it’s your turn. Punch for Prompt and see what you end up with. It’s great fun!
Next Friday I’ll be posting my next piece. Stay tuned.