Creative writing · Flash fiction · Short story

Revisiting old writing – ‘Waiting for Bill’

This is the first complete piece I ever wrote. I entered it for a competition organised by Liverpool writing group, The Poised Pen. They required flash inspired by the ‘Another Place’ sculptures at Crosby beach. I was absolutely flabbergasted when my name appeared on the long list. It was such an important confidence boost as I took my first tentative steps into writing. Despite there being lots I would do differently as I re-read it two years later, I’m proud of it.another_place3_edit2

Waiting for Bill

Janelle Hardacre

Bill always wonders off. One minute I’ll be telling him what bits we need to buy, the next I turn around and he’s disappeared. Gone.

The mist is opaque today, like there’s a physical wall between me and the sea and everything is bathed in brown. If I hold my hand out it’s like it belongs to a ghost, and come to think of it, it looks like there’s something wrong with it. The skin is all loose and crêpey and I can see lilac veins snaking towards my fingers.

There are a few men on the beach. Alone. Standing straight, arms by their sides, staring out towards the horizon. I don’t know what they can see through the murk. The low cloud is softening them so they’re shadows. I can’t make out which one’s my Bill.  He’ll be back in a minute.

I love coming here. Even on a day like this when the sand and the sky have smudged together and you can’t even see the sea until your toes are in it, it still has a beauty. Bill always says you know a place is beautiful when you still want to look at it even on the harshest days.

I’ve just realised I’m shivering.  I can feel the icy gale piercing right through every stitch. I think I’d like to go. I can see Bill now. I wonder what he’s thinking?

I want to shout him but I think I’ve lost my voice.

Here, what’s that? I can hear a call. Is that him?

“Barbara! Baaaaarbara!”

It’s not Bill.

How does this stranger know my name? She’s coming towards me. Oh hurry up Bill. Her coat is black and puffy.

She’s saying “What are you doing out here? You’ll catch your death you’re only wearin’ a cardi. Come on hun.”

I try to tell her but the words aren’t coming out right. “But Bill’s just there, look. I don’t know what he’s doing; he’s just standing there at the sea.”

“Come on Barbara, I’m sure he’ll be back. Let’s go home shall we and get warmed up?”

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