Monday, 29 June 2009

"Write about a woman named 'tomorrow'"

We were a good way through the summer and still had no sun to show for it. We had a sense that the sun was always just one town away and it was so close that we took to praying to tomorrow. Tomorrow was surely the day when the low-lying clouds would move on and take the hot,wet air with them. We could barely breathe in that air - it was so much like drowning that we hated to open our mouths and draw in a breath as soggy and dead as the one we were letting out. It was as though the whole town was trapped with their heads under their blankets and they couldn't find a way to get out.

Even the plants didn't like the damp air. Our weather was normally so temperate that the plants we grew were suited to just that environment. And the clothes we left on the lines should have dried in the heat in minutes, but they all stayed soaked in the still air. There was barely a shower of rain to cool us off, and in the end our prayers turned into violent shouts to call tomorrow to us. We sent our young men into the hills around the town to see if they could spot tomorrow coming our way. And they all said that the sun was just a town off and it couldn't be long till it was with us. It was only tomorrow away.

At night, the heat was the worst. We couldn't stand the feathers and foam of our mattresses and so we took turns sleeping top to tail in cool enamel bath-tubs or on the dusty stones of cellar floors. We all moaned in our half-sleep. The town was filled with a song that had just one word - tomorrow.

On one of the many days when I thought it couldn't get any worse, I was sat in the dappled shade of a wilting tree. I had spread my arms and legs, and even my fingers and toes, wide apart, to keep away the sticky feeling of damp skin on damp skin. The main road ran by the bottom of the field that I was sheltering in. It was a tarmac track that had melted weeks ago and not reset once in all that time. Cars had stopped coming to the town because they couldn't get along the road without sinking into it. But that day there was a woman walking right down the centre of the sticky black road. She wore a light coat made of tiny patches of blues and greens sewn together with silver thread. It shimmered in a wind she seemed to bring with her. And behind her she tugged a string that drew the clouds like they were a curtain across the sky. She jiggled the thread to drop a little rain on the town and then pulled the cover away from us to let the sun shine on the town. I watched her for a minute or two and then ran across the fields to my house to tell everybody that I had seen tomorrow arrive.


  1. This just wakened me from my computer daze. hard to believe it took only 20 minutes, since it feels so thoughtful and carefully paced. i would like to read around this, perhaps the pre- story leading to that never-ending present x

  2. There's no more of it b/c it was just a 20 minute (OK perhaps 23 minute) exercise and since it's the second one I've done today I hadn't been thinking about it very long. Sometimes these things stick in your head though and they become more. I'll send you the rest if that's the case.
    Maybe once we've finished this set of prompts we should use a set of prompts that we have to write from as part of a continuous piece. Not that we have to write it all in a straight line, but all the bits should belong to the same fictional world.
    Did you hear Margaret Atwood's new book is set in the same world as Oryx and Crake? I just found out, quite excited as I liked O&C. She's doing a reading here: