Yes! The last day! And the prompt was to write about a writer. Well, I didn’t want to write about myself and I didn’t start writing until late in the day. Like, 9 pm. Having not given myself a great deal of time, I did what I could. I revisited an earlier story to make it a little easier. But whatever, right? BECAUSE I’M DONE!
Thank you for reading. Really, thank you.
Mrs. Fellinghast kept inconsistent hours. The fairgrounds remained open 364 days a year, but she wasn’t always watching over things. Her trusted helpers took care of the tickets and the crowds. She took care of the things only she could.
On this late Friday evening, she unlocked the entrance to a tent few visitors ever saw. Her fair had several tents like this, there on the edge of the lights but never catching anyone’s eye. In the sunlight they seemed like mist and at night they seemed like tricks of moonlight, like gossamer curtains brushing the grass and hanging from the stars.
But when Mrs. Fellinghast unlocked a tent, it became as real as anyone walking by with a ticket.
In the middle of the tent sat a grand, old desk, and a behind the desk sat a man. His hair was wild like a white wave coming from his skull, and his eyes behind the bronze glasses were wide. He was old or he was young. It was hard to tell in the gaslight.
It might take a visitor a few minutes to note the chain from his ankle to the desk.
He didn’t speak to Mrs. Fellinghast first because the wise never did.
She strolled over to the desk and looked down the papers there. His scrawl filled pages and pages, some pages more yellowed than others. “Hello, dear,” she said. “How is your beautiful bright mind tonight?”
He still didn’t speak. He kept his pen stopped, a hair’s breadth above the page.
“I need a very particular story, dear,” she said. Why, I’m sure it is one you’ll enjoy.” She picked up a page and read the story set across it. A smile played at showing itself on her face. She did love his stories, almost forgetting her life before they’d arrived in her world. It was true she’d promised to let him, the writer, go one day, the day his stories began to bore, but that day never came.
Mrs. Fellinghast had told him so. “One boring story, and you’ll be free.” And he wrote and wrote and wrote. His stories unfolded in the real world, or the almost real world of the fair. If he wrote it, it came to life.
All he had to do was write one soul a boring life. But Mrs. Fellinghast didn’t take chances. Every morning and every night she made the writer a cup of tea, her own special blend, just for him. And is this black tea, unknown to him, she mixed in orange extract, crushed cinnamon, and a dark, thick dose of pride.
So no matter how often the writer told himself to write one boring story for her, he never could bring himself to do it.
“I need a story,” she repeated.
The writer waited.
“It’s about a young woman who lives not far from here, and she has tickets to the fair.”
He nodded. He took a clean sheet of paper from a desk drawer and prepared to write.
“She’s going to want to visit the future,” Mrs. Fellinghast continued. “And you’ll write her a very grand adventure. Make it grand, my dear. Make it one of your best. Give her some passion and fire. She has the heart for it, I know.” Music from the fairgrounds drifted in through the slim opening in the tent. “And in the end make her give her life for a cause. I’ll let you choose the cause, all right?” She smiled and patted his arm.
Mrs. Fellinghast turned to go and the writer cleared his throat. “Oh yes, of course,” she said. “Her name is Minerva Baines, and she’ll be here soon. Get to writing.”
A minute later he was alone again, locked in his tent, writing. His pen moved as if possessed.