This story grew from a writing exercise designed to encourage the use of all the senses in your writing and to avoid leaning too heavily on one sense or another. We had to go for a walk and take a photo (shown below) then we had to describe that scene solely from the perspective of each sense: sight, sound, touch, smell, taste. And finally, combine everything into one description, but I couldn’t help adding a little narrative to my scene…
I sent this story out last month to the fine people on my mailing list (you can join here too, go on). I wanted to know if they thought it was any good, worth popping up on my website for others to read, or if we should sweep it aside and forget all about it. I also asked them to help me choose a cover image for the story, with the autumnal orange option coming out on top – just! To see how everyone voted in my little survey, and what they had to say about the story, check out this blog post.
At only around 300 words long – a one-pager! – the story isn’t much longer than this intro – it’ll only take a minute or so to read.
And after you’ve read it, I’ve got another story-relevant photo to share. I won’t say any more now – spoilers! – but you’ll understand at the end.
Picking up the Groceries
G B Ralph, May 2021
The crunch of dead leaves underfoot was the only sound as I strode along the uneven footpath. Reusable grocery bags tucked under my left arm, I ran my right hand along the neighbour’s fence, juddering over the pickets and the posts before knocking once on their wooden letterbox as I passed. It was a habit I’d picked up recently and couldn’t seem to shake.
The yellows and oranges of the street trees surrounded me, signalling the end of summer. And the clean, crisp air, my first taste of winter. With no cars on the road, or other people on the footpath, I had this serene autumnal setting to myself.
I returned my attention to the footpath and came to a halt, taking in a sharp breath as I spotted the cat. Perched at the far end of another neighbour’s squat, brick wall. It tracked me with its one eye – the other socket appeared sewn shut. I kept walking, lowering my hand to run along the rough surface of the bricks, letting the cat grow accustomed to me as I approached. Now within reach and ready to pat, I lifted my hand. The cat purred in anticipation. I ran my hand over its smooth, shiny, black coat – I couldn’t help myself.
But conscious of copping strange looks from anyone watching, I withdrew to be on my way. I’d barely broken contact when the cat cut off its purring and struck out, sinking its claws into the back of my hand. I let out a soundless gasp as the cat’s single green eye with its slash of black pupil shifted focus from my shopping bags to lock onto my own two eyes.
‘Bring back treats,’ the cat said with a hiss, followed by another second of intense eye contact before retracting its claws and turning to lick itself.
Thanks for reading! Now, are you keen to see the inspiration for this story’s villain, our friendly one-eyed neighbourhood cat?
I’ve got a photo I originally showed to those who provided feedback on the story and the cover image alternatives. But it’s too cute to keep hidden away, so I’m making it available to those who missed their chance first time around. But, to be fair to the wonderful mailing list subscribers who gave feedback, you’ll have to at least join my mailing list to see. Fair enough? I hope so! And, of course, you can unsubscribe any time.
Once you’ve joined, I’ll send out some exclusive short stories right away, along with a secret link to all past, present and future exclusive content (including the photo of our villain!). And, as you’ll be on the list, you’ll be sure to get all future updates too.
But, if cat photos aren’t your thing, you can also check out my books and my latest updates, tell your friends about this story, or find me on Twitter (@gbralph), Facebook (@gbralph), or Instagram (@gbralph_). And to see what I’m reading or add my books to your reading list, head to Goodreads (@gbralph).
If you didn’t enjoy this, perhaps you’d prefer one of my other short stories… No? Worth a shot.