Prompt for week: 4th May – 9th May 2015
The ‘act’ can be something good or something not so good: a child swiping a cookie from the cookie jar, someone doing an anonymous good turn, or a jewel thief helping herself to diamonds, the church secretary taking a cut of the tithes. The scene could show a wife catching her husband in an act that is not what she expected to find—she might be suspecting that her husband is fooling around with her best friend, but when she confronts them, she finds that they’re planning a surprise party for her.
In 500 words or less write a scene in which someone is ‘caught in the act.’ Focus on the emotions of the person who discovers what is going on and of the person who is caught. Your scene could rely heavily on description and inner dialogue, or it could give you an opportunity to use dialogue to provide back story. You could open your scene with the ‘catching,’ or build up to it.
In your critique, consider whether the writer elicits your sympathy for any of the characters, and whether the surprise of catching someone at something is well set up. From the details of this short scene are you able to imagine what went before and might come after. Would you read more?
The summer, after my grade six exams, we were forced to move to Vizag. Dad had accepted a position as a senior psychiatrist, at the Happy Children’s Hospital.
Both Sami and I were reluctant to accept the verdict. Losing our old friends and the discomfort of losing familiar territory irked us both. Nevertheless, we did comply, but were unhappy. Sami more than me, took time to adjust, find footing in the new ground and to make friends. My parents tried different things like swimming, fencing lessons, sand-art classes and dancing to keep him busy, in an attempt to placate my little brother.
One day, the power was off and as candles and battery- charged-lamps burnt in every home, Sami was at a burning candle wick testing the temperature of the light from the candle using a digital thermometer. He stood watching the plastic cover melt until it reached the glass tubule with mercury and the glass cracked with a pop, spilling the mercury on the floor.
Another day, he hid his marbles in the rice-can and mom had to weed them before cooking the rice. His reluctance to accept the predicament was evident through his pranks. Over the months, they gained layers of complexity, displaying his compounding anger. He became stubborn and reckless.
Three months had gone by. One morning a mover’s truck came to halt before the apartment building with a screech. Sami and I ran to the balcony to catch a glimpse of the new arrivals. A lady got out of the car and spat the red pan-juice through two fingers sticking to her lips. She then waved her hands instructing the workers. She looked odd to me. She had an oblong face and her saree dangled a foot above her feet.
She wobbled towards the elevator followed by two young boys.
Over the weeks, the family became ‘fodder’ for starved gossipers. Numerous versions were in circulation. Some said she murdered her husband and was just out of jail; some said she had connections to the mafia; and others believed she looked like the folk goddess Mysamma, who lives on human blood. Quickly, Mysamma was her ordained nickname, used by young and old alike. Her original name was erased from our memories.
One day, she came home to invite us to her son’s birthday party. Sami opened the door and saw her smiling at the door. He screamed for Mom, “Ma-a Mysamma Aunty is here to see you.”
Until this day, I’m unsure if Sami did it on purpose!