challenge

I enjoyed joining in with The Prompt for the first time last week so I thought I’d link up again this week. This week the prompt is a single word: “challenging“. It inspired me to write this little story:

***

Mark clung on to the cliff face in terror. His limbs were trembling and his throat so dry he could hardly swallow. He knew he couldn’t stay where he was, he had to keep moving, but panic had wound its fingers round his ankles and rooted him to the spot.

Slowly raising his head upwards – even the thought of looking down made him feel sick – he saw a vertical incline and then, worse, an overhang. It seemed insurmountable, yet he knew it was his only option when what waited below was so much worse.

Locating a hand-hold just above him to his right, he decided he had to go for it. By sheer force of will, he slowly uncurled his fingers from where they clung and stretched out his arm towards it. He had just reached it, his slippery palm making contact, when a roar from below startled him. He lost his grip. At the same time one of his feet slipped from its precarious perch. Frantically scrabbling at the rock-face his fingers couldn’t find any purchase and he fell backwards twisting blindly and grappling at thin air.

The roar below became a jeer as he tumbled the short distance to the floor below. Winded, he opened his eyes to a ring of sneering faces – his classmates – and in the middle of the pack, Jason Green, the hulking tank-of-a-boy who’d made his life hell these last few years. It had been his challenge that had persuaded Mark to the climbing wall that day despite his terror of heights. Jason’s promise to stop his relentless campaign of abuse, if he managed to scale the wall without a harness, had seemed worth the risk. But he had failed (Jason’s precisely-timed roar had seen to that) and in doing so had only given his bully something else to taunt him with.

And yet, Mark realised getting slowly to his feet, Jason had made a mistake. The challenge had forced Mark to face his worst fear and in doing so had given him strength. Because he now knew that fear didn’t have to control him. If he could reach out – even through his terror – for a hand-hold on that wall then he could reach out for a hand-hold in other areas of life too. He made a decision. He would no longer fear the bully’s threatened reprisals if he ever told anyone what was going on. He would report him. And somehow, finally, Jason would get his just desserts.

***

The story took me a bit by surprise – I had intended to write about a child scared on a climbing wall but being encouraged by his Dad, but when I started writing it ended up like this. I tried a few different endings – in one, poor old Mark ended up lying on the floor getting another beating from the nasty Jason but I couldn’t bear to leave him like that!

I’d love to hear what you think. Do your stories take their own turns when you write too? (bet they do – it’s one of the things I love about writing!)

Thanks Sara for the prompt!

mumturnedmom

18 thoughts on “challenge

  1. Louise

    Great story and this ending works really well – I love how conquering his fear in one area makes Mark want to conquer his fear when it comes to confronting the bully. I have often found characters and stories don’t do want I intend them to do but it makes it more interesting when the stories take their own turns.

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Thanks Tarana, it’s good to hear you were hooked! Yes, I couldn’t bear a sad ending, I felt bad enough for mark as it was!

      Reply
  2. mummyshambles

    I would have like to have seen hi give Jason a right hook but you’re way is morally better lol
    I don’t write stories but mt blog posts definitely write themselves despite me initially planning them out – words seem to flow once I start typing.

    Great little story – loved it!

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      I would have liked to see a right hook too – Jason certainly deserved it! It just didn’t feel like the sort of thing the character would do. I also considered an ending where Mark challenged Jason to climb the wall without a harness, with Jason – in front of all the others – not feeling he could say no. Maybe Jason would fall off from higher up? But again I didn’t want Mark to turn aggressor I just wanted him to protect himself. It is interesting to consider all the possible endings though. Thanks for the comment!

      Reply
  3. Leigh Kendall

    Eeek – that first paragraph was scary and it had me hooked. I liked the ending – the protagonist gaining strength from facing his fears. I write non-fiction posts rather than stories, but I do sometimes find the end result is different to what I intended. It’s a reflection of using blogging as therapy, I suppose #ThePrompt

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Thanks Leigh and that’s a very interesting point you make about your use of blogging as therapy – I guess the end point has to be open in order for anything to be worked through? I hope blogging helps you. x

      Reply
  4. Sara (@mumturnedmom)

    Have to say the first paragraph had me hooked too, and I agree that it was the right ending, one that I could imagine the story moving on from. I love it when the prompt inspires a short story :) I’ve tried a couple of stories recently, but had a fairly clear idea of where they were going, but when I’m writing, especially for the prompt, I often find that I end up somewhere quite different to where I expected! Thank you so much for linking to #ThePrompt and huge apologies for taking so long to comment, it’s been a very busy couple of days!

    Reply
  5. Maddy Post author

    Thanks Sara for your comment and for the prompt – it was an interesting one! I love writing short stories but sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin, so I’m really glad to have discovered your linkie. And it only took you two days to conment- that’s no problem at all! I appreciate the visit and the feedback.x

    Reply
  6. Chrissie

    Please do more of these! It’s so great when they take on a life of their own and surprise you. Excellent short story. Well written with great pacing and a wonderful twist. x

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Thanks Chrissie! I love writing short stories/flash fiction and the nice thing about writing them for linkies is it forces me to finish and post them. I have stories on my hard drive that have been gathering dust for years because I can never quite consider them finished or good enough to do anything with. Thanks for the encouragement.x

      Reply
        1. Maddy Post author

          thing is they’re proper short stories as opposed to flash fiction ie over 2000 words so a bit long for a blog post. I think I have an idea that I’d like to submit some to magazines but I don’t have the confidence in them to do so! Maybe I’ll dedicate a month (soon) to short stories and make getting some finished and submitted my goal…

          Reply

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