Now that I’ve cleared one hurdle – getting Casualty of Court to the finishing line, or rather the publishing line – I’ve been thinking what next to do.
It’s only been a few days, I hear you yell (you did, right? Otherwise those voices in my head are somewhat disconcerting!)
Although I’m ploughing on with the next in The Blackleaf Agency Series, as well as the follow-up to Magic O’Clock, I decided to take a look back at some stories I started but didn’t pursue, for whatever reason.
So, every Sunday (until I run out of material), I shall post a snippet – forevermore to be known as:
Anyone so inclined to read through is welcome to comment and let me know if it has potential or whether it really should stay in the ‘unfinished’ pile permanently.
Note these are all unedited, first drafts – so be prepared for typos, rambling and a whole lot of head-scratching 😉
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
All That Glitters
#sundaysscraps #mystery #comedy #British
Dan can’t sing. He really can’t. So for him to greet me that morning with a tuneless rendition of “Happy birthday” was not the smoothest way to launch me into my fifth decade. My hearing is perfectly fine, in spite of my advanced years – his words, not mine and allegedly meant as a joke. Yeah, right. Still, his mood is infectious and the accompanying bacon sandwich and cup of milky tea rouse me in a more humane way, sufficient in fact for me to block out his well-meant caterwauling.
‘You looking forward to your spa treat, Mill?’
He’s arranged for me and a couple of friends to waste the day at a nearby Spa resort, with pampering treatments galore. It’s his way of apologising for not spiriting me away to the Maldives, or some other luxurious island. He has to work. I understand that. To be honest, I would have been quite happy at home, lounging around in my onesie until lunch. The spa day really is not necessary, but hey, it’s bought and paid for, so it would be churlish of me to refuse it now.
I nod back at him, savouring the bacon and brown sauce, and the demon of all foods, sliced white bread. I’m hardly high maintenance, am I?
‘Still too polite to talk with your mouth full? Your mum raised you proper, didn’t she?’ He grins, knowing that it bugs me whenever he adopts that coarse dialect. I am well aware that my parents speak that way, but he doesn’t need to force it down my throat. Not when I’m eating anyway. My glower is enough, and he lifts his hands in mock surrender, before disappearing into the en-suite. Fortunately the rush of water from the shower drowns out the lyrics that he now strangles.
I will not be rushed though. Bacon is my food heaven, although I’ll be cursing him later when there are crumbs in the bed. I hadn’t planned on changing the sheets on my day off, especially not on my birthday. Sipping at my tea I spy the golden envelope tucked under the plate on my breakfast tray. Hm, that looks interesting. Will my birthday gift will be something of the same colour? In more solid form, of course. A girl can hope, can’t see. Ha, look at me – a girl – no more of that nonsense Millie. You can’t get away with the “girl” tag now.
When I see the card within the golden envelope, I realise it is a little trick, supposedly another joke, to throw me off the scent. The card is garish, with a tacky metallic badge of all things. The message within, however, is cryptic, which for Dan is quite a feat. He’s a clever man, don’t get me wrong, but he hasn’t managed to surprise me with his choice of gift in twenty-five years of marriage, so this cunning ploy intrigues me.
“FIND ME” it reads and below it a QR code provides a meaningless, graphical explanation.
‘Dan! What am I supposed to do with this?’ I scramble out of bed, place the tray on the floor and run to the bathroom, waving the birthday card.
Dan grins at me, the electric toothbrush whirring away so that his comment makes no sense whatsoever. ‘Get your phone,’ he says finally, spitting into the sink.
‘Can’t you just tell me?’
He shakes his head, wiping his face with a towel. ‘It’s a bit of fun. You’re not too old to have fun are you?
On reflection, maybe elbowing him in the ribs was a little harsh, but I’m sensitive about my age. Men don’t get that, do they? Well, at least, Dan doesn’t. He’s five years older and acts like a teenager. He’s allowed to grow a moustache, go grey at the temples and carry a little extra weight – it seems his paunch is sign of contentment. Whereas I face a costly session of waxing and tinting, followed by a deprivation diet – standard punishment for letting myself go! I head for the kitchen, grab my phone, then spend ten minutes looking for my glasses – yes, I’m lacking in that department too!
Meanwhile, Danny boy dresses and squeezes past me once I find my “eyes.” ‘No cheating, Mill. Once you find the treasure, play by the rules. I’ll see you tonight. Enjoy the spa.’ He plants a kiss on my furrowed brow and grins at me, scrolling through my phone for the right app to scan the code.
I mumble something incoherent back at him, my mind is elsewhere. Did he say treasure? A squeal of excitement escapes my lips, only to be dashed by my frustration in not finding a stupid app with some equally dumb name only understood by the younger generation. I’m tempted to smash my phone to smithereens, but then another of Mum’s subliminal messages creeps into my brain – Money doesn’t grow on trees, my girl!
Now what do I do? Calling Toby is not cheating, is it? I haven’t found the treasure yet, so asking my son for help at this stage doesn’t constitute foul play, does it? Just as I bring Toby’s number up, the phone rings. ‘Grrr! Not now,’ I say, but on seeing Eva’s face pop up, I have to answer it – through gritted teeth though. She tells me she’s running late and will meet me at the spa resort rather than pick me up. Great, so now I have to drive. That means no champagne for me. Some treat this is going to be.
As quickly as I can, I end the call and finally get hold of Toby, who to my shock is already up and on his way to a lecture. Atta boy, Toby – your mum raised you proper too. Over the phone he directs me to the much-needed app and within minutes the secrets of the bar code are revealed to me.
An image of a gold box with a huge taffeta bow taunts me. No more than three inches square, but it looks expensive. My mouth goes dry and I can feel my blood pressure rising, a fact confirmed by my red-cheeked reflection in the microwave door. Who is that monster? The digital clock flashes to tells me I have two hours before my first spa treatment. I can’t go looking like this. Those pretty therapists will have a fit if they could see me now – fleecy pyjamas, bed hair and … are those wrinkles? OMG, they`re enormous, like maggots crawling across my face.
‘Oh Dan, where is this bloody box?’ Another glance at my phone offers no further clues, so with reluctance I slope back upstairs to get ready, huffing and puffing with each step. I am too old for games, I’ve decided. Hunting for the box will have to wait till later.
An hour later I emerge from the bedroom, dressed casually and ready to be pampered. One final mirror check. Ugh! I grimace. It’ll have to do. I can’t believe it took me a whole hour to look this casual. I can usually be up and off to work in thirty minutes. Casual is hard work. Especially when I’m only going to put on another robe and towelling slippers.
That’s it! If you’re still with me, thank you so much for reading.
Next week’s scraps come from The Dream Builder – a paranormal tale of a son whose dead mother convinces him to follow his dream to be an architect, particularly if it makes his father suffer.