This page includes pieces written after a session led by Peter where we selected an ending even before we started our story. We were also challenged to have the same line beginning and ending our piece of writing. What follows are some examples:
A Circular Story
And Hollins, turning back to his repairs, thought ,”Well that must be it then. That must be how it’s done, “ as he watched his revered boss make his first incision.
The night before, Mr. Peregrine Smythe had enjoyed himself far too much at the Hospital Ball. Too much to eat, too much to drink ,too much dancing on his ageing feet. Before the Ball Drinks and After the Ball Drinks.
MR Peregrine- Smythe’s knees started shaking, his face turned green and he slowly slid under the table, saying weakly, ”Hollins, Carry on.”
Hollins was horrified. This was his first day in the Unit . It was all up to him now.
“Quick!” he shouted to the petrified anesthetist. ” Get that book from the table in the Common room, page 12. Now hold it up so I can read it.”
Above the patient’s head the book’ How to Repair Hernias , with Pictures’ was frantically read by Hollins who looked at the scrub nurse hopefully. “She’ll know what to do; she’ll help me”
Hollins felt happier. He had the book (with pictures). He had a sympathetic anesthetist, a helpful nurse, with eyelashes who seemed to know exactly what to do and when, which sutures to use, even how to put them in. In fact it seemed she could operate alone.
A faint groan came from under the table
“Oh, shut up “ chorused Hollins, the nurse and the anesthetist.
Hollins triumphantly inserted the last suture and stood back to admire his handiwork.
Mr. Perigrine -Smythe staggered to his feet.
“…. now , after your first incision…” and then noticed that his patient’s operation had been completed and the nurse was applying a snazzy dressing, the anesthetist was waking the patient up and Hollins was beaming with pride.
Hollins looked at the wobbling , Peregrine- Smythe with contempt and turning back to his repairs thought “ Well, that must be it then . That must be how it’s done.”
A story where the final line was the starting point. This is written by Julia……….
Sally was sound asleep in the bungalow when her house phone rang at 4am. Reluctantly she staggered from her bed and picked up the phone from the chest of drawers.
“Hello. Who is this?”
“It’s me. Oh no! Get off me!”
Sally recognised her mother’s voice.
There followed the sound of something heavy crashing down, then silence. What on earth?
Hastily she phoned for an ambulance and the police, giving her mother’s address. Throwing on the jumper and jeans she had worn last night Sally unhooked her coat from the peg near the door and ran down to her car.
The rain which had started in the night was still hammering down as she unlocked the door and climbed in.
After several attempts the car still refused to start. Flat battery again!
There was nothing for it but to trek along the cliff path to her mother’s house.
Out of breath and soaking wet Sally envisaged all sorts of scenarios en route. Jane had been getting very muddled of late and Sally had wondered if it could be the onset of dementia. She shuddered as the thought that someone had broken in and attacked her mother invaded her mind. Maybe she should have insisted that Jane come and live with her.
Sally quickened her pace as the rain continued to soak her hair and permeated her thin coat.
Fifteen minutes later she was in sight of the bungalow and was relieved to see that an ambulance and a police car were already in attendance.
When Sally reached her mother’s bedroom she was astonished at the sight before her. Two paramedics and two policemen were standing around the bed smiling. Her mother was sipping from a mug of tea and there on the bed lay the biggest dog Sally had ever seen.
‘It’s ok Miss. Your mother took in this stray last night but unfortunately he jumped up and knocked her unconscious. She’s fine now. No harm done.’
Sally thanked the men profusely and let them out. She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry but was thankful her mum was ok.
Resisting the urge to chastise her mum Sally made a fresh pot of tea and as they both pondered on the night’s events the dog lay snoring on the rug.
A new day dawned and Sally had to be in the office by 10am.
She put her head down into the slanting rain and began the slow walk to the bungalow, her coat unbuttoned.
Here’s another piece where the ending was selected before the beginning……
The Lalique Vase.
Emily, my sister, could always make a noise. I remember the day my parents brought her home from the hospital ; she was screaming then.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“She’s alright, son,” Dad replied. “She just likes the sound of her own voice.”
“She’ll be another Celine Dion, you mark my words,” said Gran who was making a pot of tea whilst Dad assisted Mum in taking the latest member of our family upstairs to their bedroom. Celine Dion was a particular favourite of Gran’s. I think I reacted by placing two fingers down my throat but luckily she didn’t see.
I remember being bitterly disappointed on being told that I had a new sister. I had been an only child for eight years and, when I was told that there would be a new baby in the family, I had visions of playing football in the back garden with a mini-me. A bawling, red-faced girl was of no use and I lost interest in her.
By the time Emily had reached school age I had started at the local Comprehensive. I know Mum would have liked me to have still been at St. John’s Junior School so that I could have kept an eye “baby” but, honestly, I was very pleased not to be around her any more than was necessary. She began as a screaming, loud-mouthed, squirming infant and developed into a loud-mouthed, gyrating, nauseating, five-year old indulged by my parents. Dad would put on a CD of some female singer he had liked in his youth and, with a slipper for a mike, she would sing along as loud as she could. I could even hear “Total Eclipse of the Heart” through my bedroom door with my fingers shoved in my ears. It wouldn’t have been too bad if her voice had been sweet but she screamed, not sang and mainly out of tune. One day my mother asked me, “Why don’t you bring a friend round for tea? ” I couldn’t really tell her I was too ashamed as I knew tea would turn into a karaoke evening with my sister as star. How humiliating would that be the next day in school?
Around the time of Emily’s sixth birthday some well-meaning but tone-deaf neighbour told my mum that Emily could make quite a hit in talent show contests. You could see the wheels turn in my mother’s brain.
“Dad, you’re not into Mum’s latest idea are you?” I asked my father the evening that Mum disclosed her future plans for Emily. “It’s so embarrassing!”
“Anything to keep peace at home,” my dad replied. “Anyway, I think she’s rather good. I’ve come up with a stage name for her; Milly Love, what d’you think of that?”
He didn’t really want my opinion as he turned up the telly so I was just left with my mouth gaping open.
The next two years were the worst of my life as we would traipse all over the country at weekends attending sleazy clubs, rundown ballrooms in decrepit seaside resorts and cold village halls. I tried to stay at home, “Gran’ll look after me.”
“No, you’re coming with us. Anyway, Gran wants to come too.”
I tried telling them that I could be picked for the school’s football team if I were available to play.
“Just tell them you’re not,” was the only response I got. So much for my dreams of playing for Nottingham Forest.
Then there was the opportunity to go with the school to northern France on a World War I history trip. It was really a one-off and I wouldn’t have the chance to go again. It wasn’t just because my mates were going, although that was a major reason, but I actually enjoyed history and the teacher was a right laugh.
“Please, please can I go?” I begged them. “It will help me with my French.” Before responding, mum and dad reread the letter from school. I could see mum pointing at the tear-off slip where the cost was printed.
“Sorry son, ” Dad said. “We don’t have the money . Emily needs some new clothes for the next few competitions.”
How I resented my sister then. Luckily, good, old Gran came to the rescue. She produced a vase she had picked up at a jumble sale on one of our many days away. My gran had a “good eye” as she had paid five pounds for what was, allegedly, a piece of rare Lalique glass; or so the man in the antique shop down the road had told her when she had asked him to value it for her. She was thrilled as it wasn’t chipped or damaged in any way and could probably fetch two or three hundred pounds if not more.
“I want to sell this, ” she told us the evening she brought the glass round, “And I’m giving you the money on condition that you spend it on Mat’s trip to France.”
I don’t go in for hugging but that night I hung on to my gran and squeezed her so tightly she had to beg for me to let her go. Dad took the glass out of Gran’s hand before I crushed it and put it, in pride of place, on our mantelpiece.
Does this story have a happy ending? Disappointingly not, as I never did go on that history trip to France. Within a couple of years I had left home and left behind the whole singing competition scene. Was Emily successful? My parents kept up the pretence for a few years but she never won anything big and the cute little girl started turning into an awkward child and, by the time she reached her teenage years, she was far more interested in chasing boys than chasing fame.
So, what happened to the vase I can hear you ask? I previously said the Lalique glass was placed on the mantelpiece by Dad and then Mum suggested that we had a little sing-song to celebrate.
“Milly has a lovely new ballad she’d like to practice. Come on, Milly. Dad, put the music on.”
I half listened to my sister singing. Honestly, my mind was on the trip to France and how I would tell my mates the next day that I was now going too but then I realised that the song was coming to an end. Emily had taken this really big breath and suddenly she hit this top C with all the force she could muster and held it. It was ear-shattering. Unfortunately, it wasn’t only our ears which were shattered. There was a sudden “ping” and the Lalique vase split into hundreds of glass shards and cascaded, like my hopes, to the floor.
The following circular story is by Erica:
“Oh, he’s nobody you’d be interested in, love” Eric said.
Joyce wandered to the kitchen window. She stood, looking outside at the tall handsome man. He had black curly hair. He reminded her of someone.
“Come away from the window Joyce, let Steve get on with his work.”
She hesitated, puzzled, then walked towards the living room. Her brother Jim was five years younger than her. He’d always had black curly hair, big brown eyes, which shone with each cheeky grin. Jim never stopped talking. It was kind of him to mow their lawn. What had he been doing to her plant pots? She hadn’t seen him for ten years. Today was a complete surprise.
“What are you doing in the cupboard Joyce?”
She turned, smiled then gently placed her best cups and saucers onto the small table. Jim liked a cup of tea. He always pinched a second piece of fruit cake, thinking she wouldn’t notice. Joyce scratched her head trying to recall where her brother lived. They had always been very close. Why hadn’t he visited her for ten years, where had he been? She smiled at Eric, he liked a cup of tea too.
Feeling tired, Joyce sat down on her favourite chair, clutching a photograph of her brother Jim. His cup of tea would be cold. Minutes later, she suddenly got up, hurrying into the kitchen. Where was Jim? Looking out at the garden, she noticed the lawn looked nice. Fidgeting nervously she stared at Eric. He seemed flustered.
“Who mowed the lawn?”
“Oh, he’s nobody you’d be interested in, love” Eric said.