Wednesday’s Child & Number 18
two free 500-word(ish) short stories
by Morgen Bailey
The two stories in this pairing were inspired by prompts supplied
by the winner and second-placed submissions
to Morgen’s February / March 2016 500-word challenge.
The prompts are listed after each story in case you don’t
want to know what they are before you read.
Copyright 2016 © Morgen Bailey
Discover other titles by Morgen Bailey at .
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Winner: Wednesday’s child (500 words) – prompts by Jane Dutton
Peering over his John Lennon glasses, Byron Salisbury, of Salisbury, Peech and Talbot, studied the legal documents adorning his leather-topped mahogany desk, then re-read the birth certificate given to him by the young man sitting opposite. “Oh.”
George Foxbury edged forward on the Chesterfield visitors chair. “Oh, Mr Salisbury?”
“There is…” Salisbury scratched his right cheek. “There is a… er, bit of a hitch.”
“Just a small… very small…” Salisbury pinched together his right thumb and first finger then peeled them apart, leaving a miniscule gap. “Nothing that cannot be worked out, I am sure, Mr Foxbury. George.”
“Let me guess…” George sighed. “Grand pa pa Henry’s left all his money to a cat’s home?”
Salisbury shook his head.
Salisbury shook his head again.
“No, a dog’s home. It was Grand ma ma who loved cats.”
Salisbury coughed as he rubbed his hands.
George Foxbury looked from the solicitor, out through the window to the trees thrashing around thanks to Storm Katie, then back at the solicitor via the bland magnolia walls. “I don’t mind how much money he’s left to… whichever… but I’d really like the house.”
Salisbury frowned, pushing his glasses further down his nose. “I’m afraid it says here you inherit all of his wealth–”
“Yes!” George clapped his hands and leapt up, grabbing Salisbury’s right hand, shaking it vigorously.
Salisbury cleared his throat then watched George sit as the words “I’m afraid” sank in.
“Afraid of what?” the younger man asked.
“As his… legally proven next of kin, you are to inherit the estate of Henry Foxbury III, late of Foxbury Hall, Bumbington, Oxfordshire.”
“Yes, yes,” George chivvied.
“Yes indeed. You are to inherit the said estate on your eighteen birthday.”
“Right. The year after next.”
“I’m afraid not.”
“Because legally you are…”
George leaned further forward. “I am…”
“Sixteen, yes. I’ll be eighteen in two years.”
“What do you mean ‘no’?”
“You were born at the end of February.”
“The very end.”
“The very very end.”
“Yes. 28th. So?”
“Have you ever looked at your birth certificate?”
“Not really. Grand ma ma kept it with all the other official paperwork after my parents die… her, Grand ma ma, and Grand pa pa Henry’s driving licence, shotgun licences, other guff, you know. She kept them all together, our three, in an envelope marked ‘Birth Certificates’. I just pulled out mine. Opened it to check.”
“And you know what year it is this year?”
“Of course. 2016. What’s that go to do with–”
“A leap year, George. What day do you think you were born on?”
“I’m not sure. I think Grand ma ma said it was a Wednesday. Far to go.”
“Wednesday is full of woe. Let me just check…”
George pursed his lips as the solicitor looked up something on his computer.
“It was a Tuesday, George. Full of grace, and I hope you will be as I explain how this is going to go.”
And Jane’s prompts were:
Character name/s: George Foxbury, Henry Foxbury, Mr Salisbury
Location: Solicitor’s office
Object: Henry’s will
Dilemma: George is expecting to inherit on the 18th anniversary of his birth. He was born on February 29th.
Character trait / emotion / quirk: Henry is dead. Mr Salisbury rubs his hands frequently and pronounces his words carefully.
Colour / shade of colour: Magnolia
Other comments: George is sole beneficiary.
Second: Number 18 (542 words) – prompts by Ash Nazir
Sébastien leaned into the microphone. “Hello. Good evening. My name is Sébastien Tellier. I am from France but I work here in London.” He waited for some kind of reaction from the small audience but none was forthcoming. He tried a wide smile as he announced, “I would like to start with one of my contemporaries. One of Shakepeare’s best known sonnets…” He ignored a groan from the back of the café’s audience. “Number 18.” Sébastien winced as someone nearby scraped back a chair, checking – louder than was necessary – their friends’ drinks orders.
Sébastien blew out a silent puff of air, coughed, rocked his neck around shoulders, then stepped closer to the mic. “I shall be playing one of my own melodies to this poem and in the key of C major… sorry, minor,” he blurted, then strumming his guitar, tilted it and himself further into the microphone. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temper–”
Someone giggled as something flashed on a screen behind him. Although he suspected he’d regret it, Sébastien turned round then blushed at a picture of a busty brunette inviting an oversized plumber into her kitchen.
“Sorry!” one of the café owners shouted then reverted the screen to the usual title of ‘Café Rouge Monday night Folk Fest’ accompanied by a dull logo of an orange sunset, an anaemic-looking cow, and an acoustic guitar.
Twiddling his handlebar moustache, Sébastien decided that Shakespeare was not the way to go. With most of the audience’s attention back on him, Sébastien announced, “This is a new song, with no help from Mr Shakespeare.” Sébastien’s upper lip twitched as a small cheer emitted from the region of the earlier groan. To a simple melody, he recited, “My girl she loved science-fiction…”
A louder cheer erupted.
“…but I could sense there was some friction.”
A boo replaced the cheer.
“And one day she said ‘enough’.”
Another boo emanated from the middle of the small crowd.
“To win her back, I knew would be tough. To win her love forever, I had to be clever. So I opened a love portal, for my love immortal. And while she went away, I vowed one day, to find another girl meant for me.”
As Sébastien took a deep breath to continue, a girl rushed forward, making him flinch.
“Oh, Sébastien, that was so romantic!”
Sébastien looked down at the girl, whose black t-shirt barely made contact with her tiny black and pink check pleated skirt. “Erm… thank you. I am very pleased you like it but I have not yet…” He squeaked as the girl jumped onto the stage.
“Eighteen’s my favourite number,” she sighed.
Sébastien frowned then remembered the sonnet. “D’accord.”
She held out a hand. “I’m Isobel.”
As he shook her hand, he looked closer at her t-shirt. It was black but with a small pool ball in the top right-hand corner, where a buttonhole flower would have been on a funeral suit jacket. The ball was pink, matching the skirt, with a white number eighteen. She had a beautiful smile and although she was much too young – about eighteen, Sébastien thought – he could see them as a couple. Sébastien and the eighteenth Mrs Tellier.
And Ash’s prompts were:
Character name/s: Sébastien Tellier
Location: Folk singers’ café
Dilemma: Opening a love portal
Character trait / emotion / quirk: Eccentric, speaks poetry
Colour / shade of colour: Pink
Do let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you and be grateful if you would leave a review here on Shakespir and / or email me at .
About the Author
Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey is a writing-related blogger, freelance editor, speaker, and judge for various competitions including the H.E. Bates, BBC Radio 2 500-word, NLG, and RONE.
The author of several flash fiction and short story collections, crime and chick lit novels, writer’s block workbooks, and writing-related articles, Morgen teaches creative writing across Northamptonshire (and beyond) including sixteen courses for NCC Adult Learning, online on , and is scheduled to teach at Crime & Publishment 2017 with crime authors Lin Anderson and Martina Cole.
Morgen is the former Chair of two writing groups, and a British Red Cross shop volunteer dealing with their donated books.
Everything she’s involved is detailed on her blog and she can usually be found chatting away about all things literary on , (where she is morgenwriteruk) and , amongst others.
You can discover other titles by Morgen Bailey at .
Note from the Author
Thank you for downloading ‘Wednesday’s Child & Number 18’.
The idea to run a 500-challenge came to me as a way for me to write more than I do (and short stories have always been my first love) and who doesn’t enjoy giving away prizes?
I already give away my on [+ https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/100-word-free-monthly-competition+] and I provide an editing service so I thought what better way to combine writing and editing by creating [+ https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/500-word-flash-fiction-challenge+].
I welcome feedback on any aspect of writing, and you can either find me on the links listed under ‘About the Author’ or via email: .
Jane, Ash, and I would appreciate you leaving a review to encourage other visitors to read these short stories. Thank you.
The two stories in this pairing were inspired by prompts supplied by the winner (Jane Dutton) and second-placed (Ash Nazir) submissions to Morgenâ€™s February / March 2016 500-word challenge. The prompts are listed after each story in case you donâ€™t want to know what they are before you read. In the first (500-word) story, Wednesday's child, we meet sixteen-year-old George Foxbury at his grand papa's will reading where Byron Salisbury, of Salisbury, Peech and Talbot, has to break the not so good news. In the second (542-word) story, Number 18, we meet SÃ©bastien Tellier, at a folk singersâ€™ cafÃ© as he attempts to sing two love songs.