Thursday morning is writer's workshop day. I may have mentioned it before. We are given a prompt to use. It may be a word or a cutting from the paper or even a picture cut out of a magazine.
This short story started with the prompt word..."keys"
I find if I think too much I never get started...so I tend to go with the first idea in my head and write on from there...sometimes it makes sense and sometimes it even surprises me as the story enfolds.
Another cold damp day. I pulled the dusty velvet curtains apart...reluctantly.
Yesterday's busking had been an utter failure. Standing for hours on the corner of high street.
That was no fun.
The wintry winds came at me from both directions.
"Go South"...the family had said. "You'll make more money down there. Folk have more cash than us'nes up here in this god-forsaken northern coastal town."
So I went. Did what they suggested. Took their advice. Boarded the bus. Suitcase, handbag, guitar and all. What a palaver! Still I made it. Found a place to lay my head. Not grand you know, but enough. A person can live on a lot less that they think, I've discovered!
And here was another day. I gathered my equipment into a large cotton bag. Carefully stached the sheet music in a folder... for some things are more precious than others, and the music is one of them. Most of this had been collected during college days. Precious notes bought at the city music store. Carefully chosen to suit my voice and simple enough to be fit for busking. Well what else can a musician do after the heady years of training.? I followed the trend.
The bus stopped in the town centre and I made my way to my usual spot. I'd taken a few days after arriving in the port to look for a good site. This seemed the best. It was on a corner where the two busiest shopping streets met. A good little overhang jutting out from a roof giving me some protection from the rain.Never mind that I hadn't reckoned on a pesky southern wind that couldn't make up it's mind which way to blow. Life throws a googley or two to catch us unawares!
The town was just starting to get busy. Office workers and school children hurried along with heads down preparing mentally for another day behind a desk. Early shoppers were out for bargains. Scanning the shop windows , looking for the best sales, the 2 for 1, the great bargain. All intent on getting somewhere. this was not the time of day for lingering. Nevertheless I set up the stand and pegged some music to it. I'd brought extra pegs just to defy the wind! Dad always said ,"Be prepared"! I slipped the guitar out of the case, slung the strap around one shoulder and tuned the strings. It's hard to keep them in tune in such weather...but noone would notice if it was slightly out.as they hurried past.
She wasn't hurrying. The young mum. She looked lost I'd say. A child clutched her legs with a fierceness of possession. There are many like her in this southern port. They slide quietly in from trucks and boats. Looking for what I was looking for as well I suppose. A life, some hope, peace and security. Or at least a place of safety to lay their head at the end of the day.
I had been singing for a good hour when I saw her again. The child with his wild eyes. Her face white and her clothes mismatched. It marked her out as a stranger. She came shyly up to me and made a request. "Did I know this?...did I have the words and music?
" Yes." I asked her for a key...it was the key of C if I remember... and she started to sing to my quitar accompaniment.
A soulful voice, pure on the notes, beautiful with meaning, leaving me breathless.....poured out of the young woman.Tear filled my eyes and I was unable to speak as she finished.
And then she walked away. The child whimpered and clutched her hand as she led him .
I gained some composure and glanced down at the money cap by my feet. For the first time that week it was full of coins.