On the first Friday of every month, the Australian Writers Centre reveals a new set of story prompts. Writers have 55 hours to submit their best 500-word (or fewer) story.
She refused to think about yesterday, and the ugly conversation at the family thing for Mother’s Day. She would focus on her breathing, and ignore the wheezing reminder that she was out of Ventolin.
Yes, Tanja was determined to focus on the here and now. Think of Nothing. Not what she would have for dinner, or if she had defrosted the chicken.
Tanja would clench her fists, ignoring the pain of that arthritic finger, and unclench, releasing all of the anguish of yesterday’s insufferable encounter with her brother’s third wife, Kylie.
Tanja wondered if she would get a foot cramp like last time, so decided to ditch the clenching and releasing, and just focus on the Scot. He sounded gorgeous.
But she would not lose focus. No, she would not wonder what he actually looked like, or how old he was, or if he had a wife who was as toxic as Kylie. She would focus on Nothing.
Of course, it would be easier if she could follow the meditation properly, if she could comprehend what the Scot was actually saying.
Tanja wondered whether she should find another meditation on the app and start again, but she was committed now…
No, Tanja would just visualise herself as the serene meditator, thinking of Nothing. She wouldn’t waste her time on the gold-digger Kylie, who was worming her way into Tom’s affections.
Of course, Tom might come to his senses, but that was not Tanja’s concern. Not at the moment. She would focus on the present. On the here and now. She would think of Nothing.
The noise-cancelling headphones were an absolute godsend. No barking chihuahua. Just the dulcet tones of the Scot.
She wondered if his home looked out over the Scottish moors. (Are there moors in Scotland, or is that somewhere else?) Would it need much upkeep in the cold weather?
Her own house had just been meticulously renovated. Recycled timbers, neutral interiors with a splash of colour. Blew the budget, but worth it. She just wished Jim would stop sitting on the fence about upgrading the home insurance.
The tinkly music signalled that the meditation was coming to an end.
She wasn’t as relaxed as she thought she’d be. Maybe she was just hungry. She’d grab an apple.
She checked her phone. Cranky text messages from Tom, expressing ‘disappointment’ over Tanja’s treatment of Kylie. Another from Jim saying he’d be home late. (Again.)
She opened the shutters. It was black outside, despite it being mid-afternoon. She took off her headphones and heard torrential rain, howling wind, and a petrified chihuahua.
A crack like a gunshot, and a gum tree was inside the lounge room. Rain poured in through a gaping hole in the new ceiling.
Tanja stared, awash with thoughts of her cranky brother, absent husband, and her ruined and uninsured perfect house.
It was a perfect storm, but Tanja couldn’t move.
Grateful to the Australian Writers Centre for sparking creativity each month with the Furious Fiction competition.