“V ~ You have to stop this. It’s too dangerous. You’ll ruin everything we’ve worked for …”
Viviana reread the hasty warning, running her fingers over the heavy cream linen paper and chewing on her lower lip.
Even though the note wasn’t signed, she knew who’d shoved it under her apartment door while she was at the barber shop. The emblem in the upper left corner, a little grey umbrella, was a dead giveaway.
What she couldn’t figure out was how had they known where she lived? How had they found her after all this time? She’d been careful. Deliberate. Not using her real name, paying with cash whenever possible, moving frequently, and taking jobs that wouldn’t draw too much attention. Now she realized it wasn’t enough. It would never be enough. No matter how meticulous she was planning and adapting, they had their ways.
As she hopped up on the roof ledge of her building, Viviana looked around as if the darkness would reveal where her safeguards failed. Some telltale sign that gave her away. But answers eluded her. The wire stretching across the alley, her escape route, was invisible from the street even in daylight. Only a person like her, someone who knew what to look for, and expected it to be there, could see the tightrope.
Perched and ready to flee, she adjusted her backpack and said a silent goodbye to the place that had been home for the past nine months. She’d miss New York City, vibrant and alive. Big and crowded, the perfect place to swallow her up whole. In this city she was anonymous.
“I’ll miss you,” she whispered, placing her foot on the rope, legs steady, referring not only to the city but to the people as well. She would miss her customers at the barber shop too. Many of whom had become friends and some more than friends, like Vincent. She wondered what he would think when he came home and found her ‘Dear John’ letter.
Cutting hair had been a challenge, a skill she’d taught herself. One she enjoyed more than she expected. She would have to figure out another job that paid cash and had day time hours. Her nights needed to be free for funambulist pursuits.
Coming home to the warning didn’t dissuade her as they hoped, instead it doubled her resolve to accomplish her mission, the one passed down by her grandfather (may he rest in peace). Or she would die trying just as he had. Viviana would prove The Acrobats weren’t a cult when she pulled off the most spectacular heist of all time.
With a sigh and a flick of her dark ponytail she walked with confidence above the alley. Another life to leave behind.
PRACTICE: I used a story starter courtesy of Scholastic. This program helps combat summer slide for my kids. It’s a great way to spark their creativity and let’s face it the spinning wheel adds the excitement of a game show. Who wouldn’t love that?
Write advice to a suspicious barber who is a tightrope walker.
They journal their stories in notebooks purchased specifically for the purpose. Sometimes I ask them to pull out one of the 5 sentence long (my requirement) stories and build it into something longer. Editing is writing they say. It keeps them writing, facing a blank page, and maybe it even helps them avoid some of the fear of a blank page.
But it hadn’t occurred to me until my epiphany that I could use it as practice too. And to give myself a little bit of an added challenge I also used random word generator courtesy of Creativity Games; selecting three words that I had to incorporate into the story. This first go around I was able to work two of the three into the story.
~ ~ ~ LEGS ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ CULT ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ TOOTH ~ ~ ~
Mind-mapping as a part of my writing process was freeing. I worried less about the “planning” or “outlining”. No pressure. Colorful. The best way to think through what my story and characters needed.
I wrote a second scene but realized that I’d fulfilled the prompt in this first scene. This short story may not be perfect but practice makes progress I’ve been told recently. Here’s to PROGRESS!
Can’t wait to do try another genre (this one is adventure) from Scholastic story starter. If you’re a writer who is currently struggling, I highly recommend story starters and mind-mapping.