This short story started as a class exercise to write a piece of micro-fiction about 350 to 400 words long. Then, every day for a week we were given a prompt word we had to incorporate in another short paragraph. The prompt words were yesterday, change, forgive, plenty, stalemate and cloud. I wrote something about the experience of writing this in a recent post Creative Writing in Lock Down.
The three sisters were solid and inseparable after their lives in the children’s home. They married but their husbands made an uncomfortable trio of brothers-in-law. Then, one day, one of them was caught kissing the wrong sister. One sister pink with pleasure, one white with fury, and one green with envy.
Pink with pleasure, Colette, and white with fury, Samantha, didn’t speak for the next twenty years. Shortly after, green with envy, Marion, migrated to Australia to be near her husband’s family. They all went their separate ways. Then, out of the blue, Samantha and Colette both received letters from Australia.
Marion’s husband, Jack, had a one-man business servicing light aircraft, the life blood of the outback. A year earlier a plane he was working on fell off its jack and killed him. She’d never got on with his family and decided she needed a change. She planned to come back to the UK. Should they meet? Let bygones be bygones?
Samantha had divorced her unfaithful husband, Malcolm. Colette, having been divorced by her husband for her infidelity, went to live with the now divorced Malcolm. He turned out to be a perfect companion; witty, compassionate, loving, athletic, good around the house. One day he went to work and never came back. In the meantime, Samantha went to live in a writers’ colony on Eel Pie Island and discovered to her relief she was a lesbian. If she could find a way to forgive Colette they would have a lot to talk about.
And so began a growing correspondence between the three sisters. The word forgiveness was never used but its possibility seemed implicit as the letters became more relaxed and intimate, even hinting at secrets to be told. Marion had sold her house and hoped to be back in the UK and rent a flat in time for Christmas. If they could get together they would have plenty of time to catch-up on the missing years.
Some secrets were shared in the letters. Sam and Malcolm’s relationship had been rocky from the start, her volatile temperament and his infuriating equanimity and refusal to argue. At the time of his adultery with Colette their marriage had been a stalemate for years. Colette’s marriage had also been in the doldrums. Her husband only seemed interested in football and drinking with his mates. So far Marion had kept her secrets to herself.
Marion had always felt dowdy and uninteresting compared with her vivacious older sisters. Moving to Australia had been partly an attempt to escape the cloud of depression she was always under. She wanted to find a life and identity of her own but it hadn’t really worked. Her new life had made her feel even more a characterless cipher. Ironic perhaps that now she was looking for another new start back with her sisters. This time she would be the interesting one, the only one to have committed a murder.
She would hold court in her London flat and gradually reveal to her sisters how interesting she has become, a metamorphosis from the dull little moth she had been to the intriguing woman of depth and dark mystery she now is. In the long lonely days and nights in the outback she had taken to writing an imaginary life as an escape from her real one. Only part of that fantasy had she made real so far. Now she would take her imaginary life to the UK and spin it as her real one. Only later would she tell the truth that lay within it, about Jack and the jack.