November 25, 2012 by talkaboutyork
I’m doing a writing course. We’re learning how to write scenes. We had to write a scene (150 words) using description and action only. Then we had to use the same scene and write 300 words including a character but no dialogue. And finally we had to rewrite the same scene of 500 words including two characters and dialogue. It was a really interesting challenge.
My final scene is below.
A green glow from the digital clock on the cooker cast a small pool of light in the otherwise pitch black kitchen. 4.15 it announced mutely, with just the hum of the fridge breaking the heavy silence that blanketed the house.
Ben sat motionless in the dark room, waiting, an arm wrapped protectively around his six year old son who was curled in his lap.
Had he turned a light on, a pristine kitchen with glistening glass worktops would have been revealed, clear of clutter except for an imposing wood block housing a set of dangerously sharp steel knives. They’d been a gift to Ben from his wife Claire for his fortieth birthday, after years of his complaining that a chef couldn’t work without the right tools. He wasn’t a chef, more of an enthusiastic, experimental cook, but Claire, who had had to juggle work and children, had appreciated the help in the kitchen regardless of how interesting some of the results were.
4.16. The green glow flickered as dawn crept a minute closer, making Ben’s heart jump.
‘Dad,’ Jamie whispered, barely audible. ‘Are you scared?’
‘Yes,’ he replied quietly.
Ben pulled Jamie closer to him and kissed the top of his head.
‘What will you do if he comes? You won’t let him take me will you?’ Jamie’s voice rose above a whisper as he tightened his fingers in his dad’s hair.
‘No son, I’ll never let him take you.’
He’d been waiting for this moment since Jamie was two months old. That’s when the first anonymous letter had arrived.
“He’s mine“, is all it had said.
He’d tried to keep them hidden from Claire, not wanting to worry her in her sleep-deprived state of new motherhood. But as their frequency increased and the threats intensified, he’d finally revealed the truth. If only he hadn’t. But he couldn’t dwell on that now.
From where he sat, Ben could see the country lane whose inhabitants lay slumbering, the untroubled sleep of the deeply secure. A combination of fear and relief flooded him as he noted the row of dark houses. No-one was awake. No-one else would have to know. But no-one would be able to help either.
Even if anyone had been up, it’s unlikely they would have noticed the dark shadow that stood against the hedge, looking towards the French doors of the Clarke’s kitchen. Only a barn owl, resting in the ramshackle garden shed after a night’s hunting, turned its large quizzical eyes to the stranger, before screeching its alarm and taking flight.
Ben gripped the handle of the carving knife a little tighter. It was nearly time.
‘You’re a brave boy Jamie. But I need you to go wait in the basement, like we planned.’
‘I’m don’t want to daddy, I’m scared,’ he whispered.
‘I know you are. But I’m going to come get you very soon. Just put the headphones on, listen to the story and be quiet. I’ll be back, I promise.’