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.
March 2020 - This entry was longlisted by the AWC Furious Fiction judges.
THIS MONTH'S CRITERIA
“Are you ready?” He looked at his watch, and then at me. Dad. So handsome in his suit.
I answered with a smile. I looked at my white dress, and checked my face in the rear-view mirror. I hardly recognised myself with makeup on. Dad placed the veil over my face. The day was going to be perfect. The best day of my life.
Still, I was nervous. Dad seemed more nervous, and kept checking his watch.
The park looked amazing. Although it was December, the flowers were in full bloom. My favourite tree had been decorated with fairylights, and photos were displayed on a giant easel. So beautiful. Magical. Beyond my wildest expectations. A sign with colourful lettering announced the occasion. Jackson would be there, waiting for me.
I glanced at the gathering guests. When they saw me, they waved, their faces filled with joy. Thankfully (and somewhat surprisingly), they had followed the dress code. Those not on the guest list mulled around in casual clothes, watching the spectacle through their phones, capturing every moment.
Dad checked his watch again, but when he looked at me, directly at me, his face changed from worry into something I didn’t immediately recognise. It was more than happiness, more than pride. Delight? He took my arm and placed it in his elbow. He was grinning now, beaming. He walked with me slowly, savouring every step.
But where was Jackson? The boy I’d known since I was 3. The boy I’d grown up with. The only boy I wanted to see every day for the rest of my life.
I saw him. He was dressed in grey, but something was wrong. He ran over to me, panic-stricken.
“Jackson! What are you doing??” I was frantic. This was not what I’d imagined, planned, expected. The best day of my life was under threat.
“I’ve lost it.” He was nearly in tears.
I took a deep breath. “Lost what?”
“My cape.” His tears fell freely now.
“But Jackson,” I said, my temper taking hold. “You’re meant to be a grown-up today. Why would you wear a batman disguise?” I said through gritted teeth.
Dad tried to calm me down, but kept looking at his watch. “Do you think you’ll be ok, Sweetheart? I’m not sure I can help you. I have to go.” Desperate to escape the discomfort, he kissed my forehead. I was incensed. Jackson was wrecking everything and Dad was running away!
“Stay with Jackson,” he said over his shoulder. “His mum will look after you now.”
A nurse came over to see if I was ok, but she didn’t fully appreciate my suffering. She was more intrigued by my messed-up makeup. The doctor and firefighter didn’t care either. They were eating chocolate crackles and cake.
This was going to be the best day of my life, but it was the worst.
I fell to the ground crying. My life would never be the same again.
The end-of-preschool picnic was ruined.
Grateful to the Australian Writers Centre for sparking creativity each month with the Furious Fiction competition.