I had a surprise this morning. As you wonderful folk who keep reading my blog will know, on a Tuesday I upload a short story that I've written for the Readwave website. Well this week, or should I say fortnight, the subject is 'A Christmas Story' in 800 words or less! The limitations! None - apart from the number of words. 800!!!! I know where writer's block comes from. It emanates from being asked to write a story about something that everyone in the world may have attempted at one point or another in their lives.
On top of that the TV has been showing Christmas films for a fortnight and the few that I've delved into are basically the same eg. someone causes Santa to get it wrong and an animated hero, in the form of a lonely child (or elf, monster, puppy, etc), saves the day. There are also a myriad of versions of Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol', and the Bible did a pretty good of the original story.
My challenge is to come up with something original in 800 words.
Saving Mr Banks
Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson
I went to see this film today which in short is the true back story of Disney's (Tom Hanks) trying to obtain the rights to Mary Poppins and the struggle he has with the author P L Travers (Emma Thompson). Having been made with these two consummate professionals, it is good. I enjoyed it immensely. Colin Farrell is in the film also and is excellent as the troubled Travers Goff.
This film has been well written with the story in two parts and flowing along simultaneously, so all credit to the director John Lee Hancock.
A Christmas Rat
“Stop!” yelled Dad. “I want never gets.”
I wished that I’d had as many £1 coins as I’d heard that mantra trotted out in my 10 years of life. It was also said in the tone of voice that brooks no argument. The big day is due in a fortnight and already I may have cooked my goose.
“Bed,” instructed Mum only a tad less impatiently. I think that was to discourage any discussion - for my own safety. I bade my loving parents’ goodnight, somewhat sheepishly, and made my way up to the chilly bedroom which was almost exclusively mine.
It was one of those nights when staring at the ceiling was going to be a long study. Perhaps the excitement of Christmas, the adrenaline generated from the discussion downstairs, or thoughts about whether or not there was a Santa Claus. In short I couldn’t sleep.
Of course I was ten, I don’t believe in Santa Claus, I know, I get it. At the same time I know that there’ll be presents and where they’ll come from. I know my dad doesn’t earn a lot down the pit and Mum’s job in the shop isn’t well paid either, but I know that they’ll try. Games consoles and other modern gadgets were expensive.
I heard my pet rat, Rudi II, scrabbling around in his bedding. They only live around 18 months to 2 years as a rule but this one was nearly 3! It was my intention to keep the name for subsequent rodent pets.
“Shush Rudi,” I hissed. “I’m trying to get to sleep.”
“Shush yourself! I have to put up with your snoring.”
“What!” I couldn’t believe my ears. I sat up in the almost dark, the only light coming from the orange street light, and looked at the bedroom door. I slept with it open but there was no sign of Mum or Dad, I turned and looked at the rat’s cage. Rudi II was sat up on his hindquarters staring at me.
“I must be sick,” I thought.
“No it’s me,” said Rudi II twitching his whiskers.
“It can’t be,” I stammered.
“Don’t be daft Ben. It’s me Rudi II, why you’ve added the ‘II’ I don’t know, perhaps I don’t want to know,” the rat grumbled.
“But you’re talking,” I said.
“C’mon kid catch up!” said the rat snappily.
“But how?” I began.
“Never mind that Ben,” Rudi II said. “You should be wondering why.”
I was struggling to cope with this situation. I must have eaten something to upset my stomach and was hallucinating.
“You are perfectly well Ben,” the rat said.
He’s reading my mind I thought.
“At last,” sighed Rudi II. “And I’m speaking in your mind.”
“Why?” I asked after assimilating this disturbing situation.
“That comes back to your conversation downstairs,” said Rudi II
“With my parents?” I queried.
“Who else?” snapped the rat.
“Rudi II give me a chance, it’s not every day your pet rat speaks to you,” I whined.
“We can all do it,” said Rudi II.
“What?” I exclaimed.
“We just don’t usually choose to,” he explained.
“Why then?” I repeated.
“Christmas presents,” he said which as an explanation was a bit limited. “Your Dad was right to shut you up.”
“That’s all I need,” I thought. “My pet rat telling me off.”
“Christmas in Bethlehem was a wonderful time,” he stated baldly.
“What do you know about that?” I was incredulous.
“You don’t think that there were rats two thousand years ago!”
“Okay!” I gave up looking for an explanation. “What do I have to do?”
“Three wishes Ben BUT nothing for yourself!”
I lay back against my pillows, being careful not to take my eyes off the rat, and started to think. If I could wish for things, but not for me, what could they be? After a few minutes I came up with,
1. Make my dad’s knee better. It was arthritic whatever that was.
2. Stop Mum from worrying because she does it all the time.
3. A better Christmas for the kids next door who’s Dad had lost his job.
“That it?” queried Rudi II.
“I think so,” I answered.
“How do you feel?” asked Rudi II
“Good,” I said. That was true. I yawned. Yes I felt less stressed, easier in my mind. “Will they come true?”
“What do you think?” stated Rudi II and with that he burrowed back into his bedding.
I fell asleep thinking about a Christmas Rat; my three wishes; and wondering about a rat in a stable in Bethlehem all that time ago.
The writers block didn't last!