Short starter piece (3.12)

Assignment is to start a new piece from something in your writer’s notebook.

Cramming his Ben10 sleeping bag into the plastic carrier he had taken from the cupboard under the kitchen sink, Josh moved soundlessly to the bedroom door and shone the torch towards the stairs. The landing was the tricky bit, because of the creaking floorboard outside the room where his parents were sleeping. But he knew exactly which floorboard it was, and which swirl of the carpet it was under, from having practised so many times.  He made it to the bottom of the staircase, his heart pounding.

“Phew,” he sighed. It came out almost like a whistle. He had to be careful not to be heard.  He fished the piece of kitchen paper out of the back pocket of his jeans and wrapped it round the latch of the front door, so that when it closed it would fall with a soft thunk instead of its usual clank.

He was outside. He figured it must be round about midnight, and he shivered, with cold or excitement, he couldn’t tell which. The trees on the other side of the road stood in dark relief against the bright moonlight. A robin was singing. In fact, Josh could hear life all around, maybe mice, even insects, but he couldn’t see anything moving. Funny how when all the humans are asleep, everything else seems to come to life.  He set off up the hill, leaving Jubilee Drive, passing behind the Wyche Inn, now eerily silent, through the upper car park, and broke out above the trees to see the three counties spread out below him in shades of blue and grey.  Back towards the village, the street lights made a twinkling necklace snaking down towards Colwall. Ahead of him, there was just the ascent to the Beacon, its mass looming against the sky.

He was going to do it. He was going to sleep rough.


Notes on the feedback

I received four feedback reviews on this piece, and they were really encouraging. I had put in the reference to the Ben10 sleeping bag (note: must check whether one exists) in order to connect with a child reader. I wasn’t surprised that the reviewers didn’t pick up on the reference, but I was surprised that two of them thought the boy’s name was Ben. And none of us noticed that I had called my character Josh in the first paragraph, and Jake in the next!

I agree that the twinkling is a cliche. That sentence will probably have to go, but I want something in the night landscape that touches on what Josh/Jake is leaving behind (comfort, human world) and the contrast with what he is going into (exposed, nature).





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