Friday, April 1, 2011

Now Write!

Whilst I'm in between courses, I am trying to keep up with short writing assignments. I bought a book called "Now Write", which is full of fiction writing exercises. Here's the exercise that I flicked open to:

Wedding Cake Assignment: an author called Debra Spark had heard of another writer's (George Garrett) experiment. He had chosen "the wedding cake in the middle of the road" as an image that is unlikely, but needed explanation. The assignments were turned into an anthology. Debra now has her own students brainstorm for puzzling images and then vote for a favourite for them to write about. She suggested the following images as exercises in "Now Write": the fish falling from the sky; or a lawn sign that reads "Wife Wanted, Inquire Within".

I decided to write on neither of the images that Debra Spark suggested, but when back and wrote on the wedding cake in the middle of the road. Here it is:

The main street of Lockingbarr is wide, with shady verandahs stretching out over the dusty footpath. The two blocks over which the shops march side by side are divided by a bridge spanning Frog's Hollow. The townsfolk all have their favourite end of town - the older residents and those who have lived their whole lives in Lockingbarr prefer the end south of the bridge, and those new to town preferred the north.
   A breeze blew some dry leaves down the quiet street, but there was no other movement. Two cars were parked along the curb north of the bridge, their shadows extending far down the road in the early morning light. A bell jingled and a young woman stepped outside, pushing aside plastic streamers. She was followed out by a thin, short man who battled with the streamers that swung back at him.
   The young woman took two long strides on her dainty heels, her skirt swinging around her calves as she pivoted around to face the short man.
   "Thank God that's organised," the woman said briskly. The man nodded, causing some strands of fair hair to flick forward. "I'll tell Mum to cancel her order with Gaffney's Bakery down the south end. There's no way we're having that fusty fruit cake for our wedding."
   The man had stopped abruptly, but now hurried to catch up as the woman pivoted again and strode off towards one of the nearby cars.
   Inside the bakery, Amy was still trying to recover from her consultation. She stood with her hands extended in front of her across the shoulder-high cabinet full of pastries and slices. She chin rested on her chest and her whole body quivered.
   Her business partner emerged from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her white apron. "You ok, love?"
   Amy raised her head and straightened up. "Guess who that was?" Amy didn't wait for Rachel to reply. "Megan Wright. Ordering a wedding cake."
   Rachel's mouth fell open, and she moved over to the cabinet beside her friend. "Did she recognise you?"
   "Of course not!" Amy snorted. It had been nearly fifteen years since Amy had been terrorised by Megan Wright in Lockingbarr Primary School. Amy had been a chubby child, to say the least. She had escaped Megan when they had gone to different high schools, and then Amy had left town to get her business degree. She'd met Rachel at university and they'd been inseparable ever since. Recently, Amy had convinced Rachel to move to Lockingbarr and open this bakery up the north end of town.
   "What are you going to do?" Rachel asked.
   "I'll make the friggin' cake! Double chocolate mud. Three square tiers. White icing. Red roses," Amy reeled off the directions she'd been given.
   "Fine," Rachel shrugged. "You should have told her to piss off. But, anyway. When does she need it?"
   "Two weeks."
   "Jeez she's leaving it a bit late."
   "Her mother had ordered a cake from Gaffney's, down the other end of town." Amy gazed across her counter. She shook her head. "She hasn't changed at all."
   "Lucky guy!" Rachel's sarcasm was like a mist that lingered after she had returned to the kitchen.

Amy rotated the cake slowly, tweaking a rose here and there, turning her head from side to side. Megan Wright was due to collect the cake in an hour, to take it to the function centre before she went to Tiffany's Salon to get her hair done.
   Rachel had wanted to push the cake to the back of the fridge the night before and put a box of lamingtons on top. To hell with the cake - there's nothing Megan could have done about it, anyway. But Amy couldn't wreck her creation on purpose.
   But as she continued to rotate the cake, making tiny adjustments, some of the terror and helplessness crept back into her. She remembered her bruised scalp and trying to cover bald patches where her hair had been yanked out. She remembered being sneered at and pushed aside. She remembered getting surrounded and pinched all over. Most of all, she remembered being the terror of being chased and always knowing that she wasn't fast enough to get away. All at the hands of Megan Wright.
   An hour later, when Megan was driving north across the bridge, she could see something sitting in the middle of the road. She couldn't make out what it was. It was about level with the bakery, so she was slowing the car down when she realised it was a cake. White, three-tiered, with red roses. Her cake!
   She stopped the car in the middle of the road, gripping and wringing the steering wheel as she peered through the window, unable to fully comprehend ...
   Eventually, she shook herself and threw the door open. She stomped up to the cake - was it ok? Someone was going to pay for this!
   The cake would have been beautiful, if it wasn't for the ants trailing over it, and the bees eating the sugar icing.
   Megan swept the cake up and stalked towards the bakery, ignoring the cars trying to negotiate hers, still sitting where she had left it, with the door open.
   Amy stood in the window, watching. Megan wasn't distraught, that was clear, and this annoyed her. As Megan approached, Amy slowed turned the lock over in the door, and displayed the "closed" sign in the window. She know Megan had seen her, and heard her call out, but Amy slowly turned away and walked behind her display cabinet, into the kitchen.
   The cake hit the window with a squwelshing thud.

Please workshop my piece, and give me some feedback.

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