Welcome to Sunday Scribbles!
Today marks week 52 of the 52 week writing challenge!
The prompt for Sunday 31st December is ‘Midnight.’
This weeks attempt is set in London in the late 1600’s on New Years Eve. It’s in first person, based on a story idea I’ve had for a while. I know, I know, I’m working on three already, but I won’t start this one until I’ve finished at least one other!
I can’t believe I’ve written 52 short stories this year. My favourites are pizza assassin and my Merlin story with the space dragon. I’ve written so many I could expand on, and my writing’s improved too. All in all, a worthwhile venture, and one I’ll continue in 2018. Feel free to join me! I’ll even provide the prompts.
The wind pushed a short curl of midnight hair into my eyes, and I brushed it away as I raced through the streets of London. Suit ruffled, tie askew, mud up to my ankles, I made quite a sight.
A smirk played on my lips. My mother would not approve. My brother would get that annoying tick above his left eye again. I grinned as I spotted my quarry up ahead. They didn’t matter. Nothing did, apart from the chase.
Heart pounding in time with my feet, I glanced ahead and saw my quarry turn. I smirked and imagined the lay of the streets. Skidded a sharp left and smashed into the wall of an alley. My coat tore on the tough bricks, but I shook myself off and took a couple of quick turns through the narrow passages. Emerged into the street just as my quarry passed and tackled him to the floor.
‘You’re under arrest,’ I said, and took a few deep breaths as I shoved his face in the dirt.
By the time the police caught up my breathing had evened out, and Big Ben chimed ten above me. One step closer to midnight, and another murderer off the streets. The detective in charge scrunched his face up when he saw me, but even his begrudging gratefulness couldn’t dampen my mood. I passed over my prisoner and ran home.
I smiled to myself as the doorman opened the door to our stately London town house. He blinked in surprise, but I ignored him. I knew my smile was not one of thanks, and by now he should know better than to assume it was.
As I slunk through the crowded hall, full of revellers for our new years bash, not one of them looked my way. Good. Unlike my brother, I’d managed to remain invisible in society. It was when I entered my bedroom and leaned against the door that it all went to hell.
‘Look at the state of you!’ my mother fussed. She rushed over to me, a grimace stretched across her face, and slapped my cheek.
I winced and raised a hand to my stinging face. ‘What’s wrong with the way I look?’
She shook her head and turned to my brother, who slid over from the window with a grace I’d never possessed. ‘Deal with him, will you? I’ll get Molly.’
‘Of course,’ my brother drawled as he turned to me. ‘Running around the streets of London again?’
His left eye was twitching already. I ignored him, and the obvious once over he gave me, to address a more pressing matter. ‘I told you, I won’t marry her.’
‘Really, brother mine, everyone of our status is matched eventually. You’re lucky it’s been delayed this long.’
‘But she’s an idiot!’
He glared at me. I glared back. He sighed. ‘She is cultured. Civilised. Which is more than I can say for you.’ My brother reached out to smooth down my shirt. Straighten my tie. ‘You will marry tomorrow, on the first day of the new year, and take a respectable job with me at the embassy.’
I clenched my fists at my side. ‘I have a job!’
My brothers face twisted into a snarl. ‘Running around London catching purse snatchers is hardly a job for someone of our status.’
‘I catch murderers! It’s important work!’
‘They don’t even pay you!’ He pinched the bridge of his nose and took a deep breath. ‘Hardly the point. It’s to stop when you marry Molly.’
I tore my tie from my neck and threw it at his feet. ‘I need someone who challenges me, not a dimwitted blonde with no personality!’
There was a crash behind us. China shattered on the floor. A woman’s sob, and the click of shoes as she fled. Another set of heels followed soon after.
My brother glared at me. ‘Now look what you’ve done!’
‘It’s just one of the servants.’
‘That was your future wife, which you’d have noticed were you not so emotional!’
I crossed my arms and looked away. ‘I can’t marry her! I don’t even…’
My brother held up a hand. ‘I know. Not an indulgence either of us can afford, I’m afraid.’
My eyes narrowed, and I nodded at his ring. ‘If you felt the same as I, why go through with it?’
‘Some of us understand our obligation to our family, our rank.’
‘Damn it all to hell.’
I shoved past him. He grabbed my arm, and I felt something heavy drop into my coat pocket. ‘There’s only one alternative…’
I shook my head and broke free. Fled down the stairs and out the door before he could stop me again, chest tight and heart heavy. It wasn’t fair. What gave them the right to orchestrate my life? Money? Status? Up ahead, a beggar dipped his hand into the pocket of a drunken passer-by. I could do that. Run away and live on the streets. I was an excellent pickpocket.
I turned left sharply and lost myself in the darkest alleys. They’d never find me. No one knew the cobbled streets of London like I did. The city was shrouded in fog tonight. It was dark and dingy, but it was home. Or, it used to be. It didn’t feel that way any more.
I began to run, to put some distance between myself and the life they wanted for me. Marriage, status, wealth. It wasn’t enough, never would be. Other people were dull, predictable. Nothing held my interest for long. Even London and her delightful side streets were too familiar now.
As midnight drew closer, I scaled a wall and clambered onto a rooftop. I ignored the chill and dropped to perch on a ledge overlooking the harbour. A chill wind blew. It carded my hair past my face, whipped up leaves and papers, and I followed their progress southward.
The docks were still and quiet, all except one. People bustled to and fro, carrying boxes and pushing carts in a flurry of activity. A ship preparing to leave. Maybe I should leave with them? What did I have here, now my freedom had been stolen?
My hand clenched in my pocket, and the darkness drew in, clawed at me. A rustle in my pocket distracted me from darker thoughts, and I pulled free a heavy envelope. With my lighter, I illuminated my brothers neat cursive.
‘The ship on the docks will take you to our holdings in Africa. If you are truly against the wedding, leave tonight and send me a report when you get there. Maybe in a few months, you’ll reconsider marriage. Good luck, brother.’
The envelope contained a few coins. I stuffed it back in my pocket and tapped callused fingers on the edge of the roof. Mother would be furious, but she wouldn’t miss me. I was the black sheep, born only to ensure our bloodline if my brother succumbed to illness as a child.
She’d barely acknowledged me growing up. My brother practically raised me. Taught me how to solve puzzles and draw notes from the strings I plucked whenever I felt out of place. (Always.) I felt a surge of affection for him. Perhaps he understood after all.
I stood, and my long coat billowed in the wind as I imagined life on the high seas. My brother was right, leaving the country was my only option. But I wouldn’t stop at Africa. I dug a newspaper clipping from my pocket. Pirates in the Caribbean. That’s where I’d go.
The wind in my hair as I searched the ocean for treasure. The challenge of trying to outwit the navy. Always on the go, with no pressure for marriage… What better way to sate my desire for knowledge, adventure? I could have it all if I ran away and became a pirate.
My brother would be upset when he didn’t hear from me in Africa, but he’d get over it. He should know better than to think I’d come back. We both knew I’d never belonged here anyway.
I glanced over my shoulder, in the direction of my family home. My violin was the only thing I’d miss, and I wasn’t going back for it. I could only move forward now.
In the distance, Big Ben began to chime. Midnight. I clambered down the rooftop. Once my feet hit the bottom, swift steps took me away from home, my bride to be, my prison, and towards the docks. Time to start over. Maybe I’d find somewhere I belonged.
Thanks for reading!
I thought it only fitting I write a story about new beginnings today. Have a great New Years Eve, and see you in 2018!
Next Sunday’s prompt:
The prompt list for January is:
Next week the prompt is: ‘Beginning.’
If you try next weeks prompt yourself, let me know how it goes. Post your story on your blog on the 8th January, and leave a link in the comments so I can read it 🙂
Feeling creative? You can also share lines under #sunscribbles on Twitter. I am super interested to see what you all come up with 🙂