Story Chain (for adults)

Published on Sunday 23rd October 2011 by DJ Kirkby

On the 26th October from 11am – 1pm readers can join me in the Guildhall Cafe (in Portsmouth Guildhall) for a Book Brunch. During my Book Brunch you will be able to:

1)  Add your words to the story chain (one for adults and one for children)

2)  Fill out a form to enter yourself in my Kindle giveaway

If you can’t join me at the Book Brunch you can still get involved in creating the story chain by adding your link sentence in the comment section below.  If your child wants to join in then you need to click here to go to the childrens’ story chain post.

Each addition will earn you one entry into my Kindle giveaway, and I will take your words to the Book Brunch so others can add to the story chain.

Here is your starter sentence:

Susan veered to the outer edge of the path as she passed the man who looked as if he was made entirely of neglect.

Please read through the story continuation comments below to see how the story has grown and then add to the story yourself. The entire story will be posted as a blog post on the 6th November. Tell others who you think may be interested and help me wrap this story chain around the world!


36 comments so far

  • He suffled along, staring at the ground, making no effort to avoid the puddles left by the morning’s downpour.

  • Being a caring woman susan couldn’t stand seing someone so depressed and she decided to overcome her natural instintcs and turned to him”hey sir what is the matter” he turned to her and screamed

  • Susan flinched. ‘I’m sorry,’ she muttered, looking away. She walked on, silently cursing herself for interfering; then a hand gripped her arm, pulling it back, turning her back around.
    ‘Listen,’ the man said.

  • Susan took a step back, finding him a bit aggressive. SHe still found him a curious man, however, and wondered what deep dark past was hidden beneath his exterior.

  • She’d been brought up to go with her instincts, but for some reason she couldn’t quite decide whether or not this was someone she should listen to, or if she should get as far away as possible from him.

  • He seemed to see her indecision.

    “You would be well advised to hear me out” he said in a deliberate, measured tone,” since the predicament in which I find myself is entirely your fault”.

  • ‘I’ve been walking in this park all day every day for the past week,’ the man said, his grip on her arm just short of painful. ‘Nobody else has even noticed I exist, so what’s different about you eh? One of them do-gooder types are you? Making your conscience feel better by talking to me?’

  • This man reminded Susan of her late brother, Jim who had taken to disappearing every now and again. Should she try and help this stranger? she wondered, wiping away a tear with the sleeve of her coat. Eight years on and she was beginning to come to terms with what Jim had done. If she helped this man, the memories would flood back, bringing back the pain with them. But Jim would want her to.

  • ‘Let’s sit down’, she said, trying to steer him towards a nearby bench, ‘I promise I will listen’.

    The grip on her arm loosened and the man’s shoulders dropped as he allowed himself to be led across the path. His legs collapsed as they reached the seat and he sank down with a muffled thud. Susan realised, to her horror, that he had also begun to cry, his tears dropping onto the varnished wood and mingling with the remnants of the rain.

  • “Shut the hell up!” Susan admonished him, then quickly clasped her hand to her mouth. Where did that come from? she wondered silently. This was not like her at all.

    However, the man stopped sobbing immediately and looked up at her with dark, flashing eyes.

  • It suddenly seemed eeirly quiet, almost as though even the birds had decided to quieten down and listen in on the conversation.

  • Susan stared at her scuffed shoes. She’d been meaning to polish them for weeks, but had never got around to it. Finally, she lifted her head and faced the man.

    ‘I don’t know,’ she said, wondering why her voice was shaking. ‘They never do.’

  • “I was born,” he began, “twenty years from now. Or should I say ‘I will be born’?”

  • Susan’s mouth dropped open and she stared at the man with narrowed eyes. What kind of weird story is this, she thought.

  • … come with me to the river. That’s where the story will begin. You’ll find something there that will set everything in motion.

  • They walked in silence to the edge of the park, where the river wandered and twisted on its journey to bigger things. Susan stood on the bank and looked down, but the sight beneath her feet ran away with her words and took the very breath from her lungs.

    For the river didn’t flow. It sat, watchful and still, as though it waited for a decision to be made.

    “We are all given a chance,” said the man, “a chance to right a wrong, a chance to change our minds. This is your chance to rewrite the past and the world will rest whilst you decide its fate.”

  • Susan put a hand to her face – the stink of his breath was truly repellent. She wondered when he had last washed.

    “Thursday,” he said. “But I didn’t stand too close to the soap.”

  • She almost giggled. It was the sort of thing her son would have said.

    And then she looked more closely at the man beside her and felt her blood drain down to her toes. For her son had died when he was only

  • She eyed him, wonderingly. “How have you managed so long like this? And how did this happen to you?”
    He gazed bleakly back at her, the river, motionless before them. Then wordlessly he picked up a branch that lay at the floor of the weeping willow tree and reaching forward, stirred the quiet waters until, in their murky depths, an image formed that caused Susan to gasp and clutch her hands to her mouth, aghast….

  • Emerging from the whorls of water was the image of her son just as he had been the last time she saw him alive, waving to her from the school gate and running through the playground, his blue fleece jacket rucked up behind his Muppet back-pack, his arms held out like wings.

  • He always wanted to fly and she should have discouraged this, but instead allowed his imagination to blossom. The teachers said he stood on the top of the slide and leaped into the air, hanging as if he would lift off before plummeting to the cold hard ground of winter.

  • “What can you see?” the man asked, leaning forward towards the water. “Nothing”, she whispered, “I see nothing” and buried her face in her hands.

  • ‘You’re lying,’ he said, and his tone had a matter of factness about it that made her want to cry for the first time in years.
    When her mobile phone went off in her pocket, her first thought was relief. And then she shuddered. She’d forgotten about Lucy.

  • Maintaining her gaze on the small craft, Susan raised the mobile to her ear, wiping away a lone teardrop on her cheek and pushing back a stray lock of hair.
    “Lucy, are you alright ?”
    “This is not Lucy, but we know where she is.”

  • Susan struggled to speak, she seemed to choke on the words she wanted to say. Her body was taken over by fear, confusion and the faint feeling of guilt. She didn’t know if it was herself to blame.

  • These are the additions to the story chain made by the readers who joined me for my book brunch today. I have typed them out here exactly as they were written but the # symbol has been added to show where each new person began adding to the story chain:
    #
    So she decided to question all the turns in life she had made to find where she had gone wrong.
    #
    She found it amazing that of all the things that had happened to this young man he was actually telling her he was her son who had died years ago.
    #
    She believed he had died a hero rescuing a child from the swelling river. The child had been saved but he had been swept away. His body was never found. It was assumed he had drowned.
    #
    She was suddenly brought back to the riverside by the female voice on the phone asking…
    #
    “Are you ok?” She had a few minutes of total blackout then confusion and then she felt cold at the thought of the prospects ahead.
    #
    It felt cold, she felt hollow as if she had died, her life continued to flash before her, suddenly stopping at a point in her life she didn’t recall. She is 8 years old…

  • … short for her age her mother, smelling of pastry, had lifted her onto the kitchen counter, next to the draining board, to help with drying up. The plates were too foamy, as usual. Mum never gets it right, she thought, as one almost slipped to the floor. The phone started ringing and the room stilled; the moment transformed into a photograph.

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