Thursday March 31st, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the teller.

Last night was the first time I've not had the fireplace going overnight since winter arrived. This afternoon the temperature was in the low twenties. Spectacular stuff.

Had a lovely day celebrating Kat's birthday. I think the big family dinner was the highlight, as everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves.

Heading up to Penticton tomorrow morning for another midwife appointment. The last one before baby arrives? Quite possibly, seeing as his due date is next Monday.


Myra shifted her weight from one foot to the other and tried not to sigh. It had been a slow day inside the bank and the sight of the tenth person in the last half hour using the ATM she could see from her station was enough to make her grind her teeth.

What, she wondered once again, was the point of her job if all the customers just used that stupid machine? She might as well pack up her things and go home for the day. Or week. Maybe she could take a month off before anyone noticed she wasn't showing up for work.

"Hey, have you seen Myra lately?" she imagined the bank manager asking her colleagues.

"Who?" they would all reply in unison.

She checked the time on the wall clock to her left. Another hour until closing. She was in hell. This was hell. Maybe she could steal an extra notebook out of the supply cabinet and start writing a short story. Or really commit to the project and aim for a full length novel.

How long would that take her with all that spare time, a couple weeks? A month at most, surely. She could be the next Dick Francis!

"Hello there, dearie."

Myra snapped back to the present with a shake of her head and a slight shudder. Before her was an elderly man, a well-used wooden cane in one hand and a thick envelope in the other. She allowed herself a couple blinks to regain her bearings before speaking.

"Good afternoon, sir. How can I help you?"

"Oh, so very kind of you to offer," the man said with a wide grin that flaunted his yellowed dentures. "You see, dearie, I need to exchange all of this troublesome paper money."

"Exchange it for... what?" Myra was quite certain she didn't want to know the answer but there really wasn't anything else to do at that point.

"Why, for coins, dearie! Such a silly question to ask, really. So much more dependable than this flimsy stuff."

Myra checked the clock once more. Fifty-eight minutes until closing. Maybe it wasn't too late for her to go back to school and learn something useful, like computer programming. Maybe she could program ATMs. Make them spit out extra money at random. Maybe m-


"One moment please, sir," she said as she turned to walk away. "I have to make sure we have enough coins on hand to cover this."

And then she began to walk. And she didn't stop once she reached the sidewalk.


morganna said...

Well, there's never
Ever going to be a wedding.
Dear cousin Donna
Describes to me all my (ex) beloved's
Iniquities, including the
Nine affairs currently
Going on. I'm a fool!

Greg said...

@Morganna: I like the revist to your Wedding acrostic and the continuing story that it tells, and I really like the link to April 1st in the last line as well; very subtle! I'm really curious now to know if there will be one more of these, a resurgence of hope and a renewal of love for your narrator, or if this is the end, a drawing of the curtain on a followed life?

@Marc: Sounds too hot too me, but I'm sure you enjoy it! Malta is breezy and damp this morning and I rather like it. It doesn't rain much here so I have to make do with this kind of weather when it turns up, but most of the time it's sunny and warm.
It feels like you had a little more time to plan this story and the steady progression is really nice: just the right pace to show the disaffection in Myra's life. I actually really like the resentment she has for the ATM, it seems to fit perfectly somehow, that an innocuous machine should annoy her so much when it's really just simplifying life for her. And then her customer... well, I think I'd have walked out at that point too. Or found pennies for him and watched him fail to carry them :)

The teller
This farmhouse seems to have more secrets than it has windows. Quite frankly I'm starting to wonder what I'm doing here and if this isn't some kind of set-up. I wouldn't put it past Cecily to do that, but at the moment she seems beyond redemption: I'm pretty certain that she's going to die in that cellar, and when she does I'm locking the doors and waiting six months before sending the urchins down to clean up the mess. Or maybe we'll flood it, let the water subside and then clean it up. She's bedraggled now, and the smell down there is indescribable: your nose actually shuts down before your brain can really start to assign words to it, and your eyes start running and your feet try to turn you around. The worst bit is is that since drinking the phlogistonic wine I've got more memories and taste sensations and I know what it is even if I can't describe it.
It's the phlogiston eating her away. The destruction and dessication of flesh by a liquid we know next to nothing about and yet still drink.
And to think I once dared to call myself a scientist.

But secrets and more secrets: the urchins showed me the outhouses where the steam-spiders are put at night when there's no picking to be done, and I noticed that one was much larger than the others outside, but still a narrow cramped space inside. A little enthusiastic searching later and the urchins found a concealed door, and beyond that a small workshop. It looks like it is intended for repair of the steam-spiders, and probably their maintenance too, but most interestingly there were two steam-hounds in there, just waiting to be turned on.
They have brass collars welded around their neck joints: one is called Teller and the other Quill. Yet another book was on a bench, and it was open at a picture of the original dogs -- biological creatures if you can believe! -- and it would seem that Teller is a 'bloodhound' and Quill is a 'Mongrel'. The book seemed speculative, but the bloodhounds it describes were used for tracking bleeding criminals (is blood so hard to spot? Really?) and the Mongrels appear to have been used for tearing said criminals apart when they were caught (at least some civilised practices haven't changed). There were marginalia, of course, and that noted how to set what Teller is to track.
And I remembered the shooting star that landed in the valley two nights ago.

Marc said...

Morganna - ouch! I like how you incorporated this prompt into your wedding saga, but that's definitely an ouch.

Greg - hah, yeah giving him bags of pennies and then watching him try to walk might be a good alternative to straight out quitting...

Excellent description of the smell in your first paragraph. Extremely effective stuff there. The steam-hounds are an interesting addition to this complex world you've created, and I'm pleased to see the reference to the shooting star at the end there.

Hurray, comments all done for March! Now on to April...