Furious Fiction is a fun little writing competition run by the Australian Writers’ Center each month. The brief is posted on the first weekend of each month, then you have 55 hours to submit a story of a maximum of 500 words. (See their website, https://www.writerscentre.com.au/furious-fiction/ if you’d like to have a go yourself.) This was my entry for the month of April. The cues were: the first word had to be ‘music’, the story had to include singing in some way, and it must feature an invitation of some kind.
Music. Maggie could hear music lilting over the fence that separated her from her neighbor’s house. She groaned out loud, and spoke softly to the cat, “I thought we might get a break from the music when the barbarians moved out.” Her previous neighbors had been an angry young couple with a taste for heavy metal and a predilection for shouting at each other on the weekends. Toby purred, and Maggie reached out a hand to stroke his tabby head, when she suddenly paused. This music was different. She could make out a few bars of something classical. Chopin, perhaps?
Maggie opened her back door, and peered around her back yard. Usually when music was drifting over the fence, she shut herself in the house. Perhaps she would take the opportunity to be outdoors, maybe re-pot some gladioli? She glanced around the small backyard and smiled to herself-her hard work was paying off. Roses were in bloom, the scent of jasmine on the air-and a lovely aria floated over the fence.
She remembered back to when she had first bought the house, with the meager payout from her divorce. It was ramshackle and claustrophobicly small, and certainly on the wrong side of the tracks. She was a fifty-something empty-nester with limited career prospects. A librarian, with a Master’s degree in classical literature! Certainly not a growth industry. She had to take whatever little scrap of a house she could afford. The yard had been bare and sandy, the house shabby and soulless. It had taken months of work, but finally it felt like a home. Her home.
Later that day, Maggie opened her window while she was washing her few dishes. A Gilbert and Sullivan number was floating through the air. She sang a few words, surprised that she still remembered them. She thought perhaps she could hear a voice from next door, also, a strong baritone, blending beautifully with the music.
Neighbors who might have common interests with her! The thought was a novelty. “Maybe I’ll invite them over for a cup of tea,” she said to Toby, who was watching her with his green eyes. She had sudden thoughts of a handsome, silver haired bachelor, widowed, perhaps, and lonely. She giggled at her own flight of fancy. “Aren’t I a hopeless old romantic?” Toby blinked at her, and purred softly. She smiled, suddenly glad of her single lifestyle. Her ex husband had never liked cats, and hadn’t been a fan of classical music either. And, he had never cleaned up after himself. She wondered, briefly, if the young floozy he’d had an affair with was doing his dishes these days. Another giggle, imagining that girl picking up after him with her long red fingernails.
”Well, Toby,” she told the languid cat, “Although I do love my new life, it would be nice to have a friend next door. Lets go and introduce ourselves, and invite our new, music loving neighbor over for a cup of tea. ”