The Writing Life

…a literary journey

Micro-Fiction: Parlour Games


This week’s short is based on a line selected randomly from my current read, A God in Ruins, by Kate Atkins: The house was much warmer than when he had lived there with Nancy.

Taking a sentence written by one writer for a specific purpose and folding it into a completely new character for an entirely new scene shows how many millions of ways something can be turned. I’ve always hated when people say there’s no new ideas; everything’s been written. How limiting…there are endless possibilities. I hope you enjoy Parlour Games.

Parlour Games

300 words by Vicki Roberts

The house was much warmer than when he had lived here with Nancy. Walking from room to room, he found most of the windows stuck shut from layers of caulk, so a utility knife was added to the mental list for his afternoon trip to the hardware store.

In the kitchen, the #1 Husband mug sat on the sill. Next to that, an empty paper cup used to hold the avocado seeds she never could get to germinate any further than their toothpick-stuck state. Someone — he assumed the neighbor who’d held the key — had anticipated his return and left bread and coffee, along with butter and jam on the breakfast table.

As he walked to and from the store, people welcomed him back to town. Phillip nodded in return but didn’t stop to talk. He was aware of taking up only half the space on the sidewalk as before.

The act of slicing away the sealant from the wooden window frames soothed him, and when he was done, the chill from the night’s air sang through the small house like a chorus performing for the first time in a new church. There was nothing more worth attending to, and he reached for the banister. She stopped him in front of the little closet at the foot of the stairs.

Sit with me, he heard.

They were normally too tired or tipsy after their monthly parties to worry about order, and boxes poured out onto the floor as he knew they would. Nancy’s obsession with the Victorian tradition of parlour games included padding their collection to fend off boredom and cajoling less enthusiastic guests with prizes and themed cocktails. Phillip waited a respectable amount of time after the tumbling stopped before he sat down, built stacks all around him and listened.

 

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