Today was my first day leading the new Creative Writing group at the Grassmarket Community Project in Edinburgh. I’ve never done anything quite like this before, so I expect the learning curve will be pretty steep. However, today’s group seemed to go pretty well.
As it was the first time we had met as a group, we did all the usual setting up sort of things; introductions, what I’m hoping to do with the group etc. One important thing that we agreed on as a group is that everyone writes to the given prompts – and that includes me. So that is what we did.
When we’d finished introducing ourselves etc there was really only time to write to one prompt – normally there will be two, which may or may not be connected to each other. Today I gave the group this prompt: Behind the red door. The responses were varied, ranging from the slightly surreal but very humorous to real-life observation. Here’s what I came up with – after I’d had time to rewrite and edit my original piece.
Behind the Red Door
Bert stretched out his hand and reached for the polished handle. “Never, ever try to go behind the red door,” they had said, but how could he resist?
“There’s something in there they don’t want me to find; something they’re desperate to keep hidden.” Images of gold and jewels flashed through his mind. Maybe this door was the gateway to another, better world where people like him were loved, not abandoned like he had been.
The smooth brass felt cold in his grasp. “Just a quick turn, pull and….”
It was the smell he noticed first: damp and earthy like a freshly dug grave. But there was something else: something raw, dangerous, electric and alive; something that tasted bitter in his mouth. He knew that smell, but right now the word was hiding in a deep corner of his mind; somewhere that he could not reach.
Quickly Bert slipped into the newly open space in front of him, and pulled the door closed. “Damn!” he thought. The forbidden word thrilled through his mind as the chill darkness closed around him. “That was stupid.” He reached back to where he knew the door handle was and found …
nothing! There was nothing behind him. Just a moment before there had been a red wooden door; now there was empty space. He turned round and carefully lifted both his hands in front of his face. There was definitely nothing there now. He reached his to his left and found only cool air. To his right …?
“Oww!” The pain shot through his arm and exploded in his head. He shook his hand, hearing the click of his wrist and the flick of fingers against thumb. More cautious now, he reached to his right again and found the rough surface of a stone wall. “A wall might mean a switch,” he reasoned, “and a switch means light.”
Five minutes later he stopped searching. If there was a switch on this wall, he could not find it. Now it was decision time. “Go on or …?”
But back was no longer an option. Back meant back to the door, the solid, red-painted door through which he had come; the door that was no longer there.
“And you can’t really stay here, can you? On then; there’s no other choice.”
And that was when the unremembered word jumped into his head. The sharp, acrid taint in the air? He knew what it was now. It was the unmistakable smell of fear.
© 2013 A B Maude
On the bus coming home, it occurred to me that this is the first piece of prose fiction I have written in about 30 years! I’ve written college essays and sermons, and loads of poems, but not prose. It’s not much, I know, but it’s a start.
One last thing; leading the group? It was fun – I’m already looking forward to next week.