Return to simplicity

Strip away what is excess and unnecessary (clue: there’s more of this in your life than you think) . Returning to what makes us human is what makes us most alive, and most at peace. Breathe, touch, listen, share, be.

Open ended story

Carla stood with her thumb sticking up at the side of the road. She'd never done this before. She didn't think she'd ever be the type of person who would hitch-hike, especially not on her own. Her parents would go ape if they found out what she was doing. But Carla didn't have much choice. She'd lost her wallet, and had to get home from work. The dusky light shifted from violet to black, and she was getting jittery. There were no street lights between the town and her village. It was a soggy February evening, and she just wanted to be in the warm.

 

A driver finally pulled over.

 

'Where you heading?', he asked.

 

'Oh, just a few miles down the road. Brockenhurst'.

 

'Oh yeah', the man said, 'I know it. Hop in the front seat'.

 

Carla clambered in, all the time questioning whether she had done the right thing. This is how people get abducted, she thought. I have nobody to blame but myself.

 

She sat down, shoulders scrunched, tense. The child lock in the car clicked on.

 

‘I’m Mark’, the driver said.

 

‘Hi’, Carla said tentatively. She didn’t feel like introducing herself.

 

There was a pause then, as the man quietly drove down the road. The silence seemed interminable. Carla was about to say something when the man beat her to it.

 

‘If I were to offer you £100,000 to drive across the country with me, would you do it?’

 

Carla, still terrified, said ‘no, no thank you. I just want to go to Brockenhurst please’.

 

Mark drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, biding his time.

 

‘What if I told you I had £100,000 in the back seat?’

 

Carla didn’t say anything. She hoped she could shut her eyes and say nothing until this was all over.

 

Mark slowly reached his left hand towards the back. There was a briefcase in the middle seat. He unfastened the clasp while keeping his eyes on the road.

 

Carla was clutching her backpack on her lap like it was a teddy bear.

 

‘Here, look’, Mark said, nodding his head towards the briefcase on the middle back seat.

 

Carla twisted round to look. He wasn’t lying. There was a briefcase full of cash.

 

‘There’s £100,000 in there’, the man said.

 

Carla had never seen so much cash in her life, and probably never would again.

 

‘I just want to go home, please’, she said, not wanting to be distracted by the money.

 

‘That’s fine’, said Mark. ‘I can take you home. But the offer is there, no strings.’

 

Carla sat quietly. She mulled over the offer in her mind.

 

‘What do you mean no strings?’ she said.

8 sentence story structure

  1. A character is in a zone of comfort,

  2. But they want something.

  3. They enter an unfamiliar situation,

  4. Adapt to it,

  5. Get what they wanted,

  6. Pay a heavy price for it,

  7. Then return to their familiar situation,

  8. Having changed.

8 sentence story

Christian lives on a salt marsh, which has been newly formed by rising sea levels. He wants to explore the world, but doesn’t know how to operate a boat to get out of his village. He decides to stow away on someone else’s barge, which leaves every morning to an unknown place. The place turns out to be a refugee camp, and the barge has been taking supplies every day. Christian gets lost in the refugee camp, but gets taken in by a family. The family offer him a means of transport to continue exploring the world. However, Christian feels guilty about leaving - the youngest daughter of the family is very sick. Christian sets out to find a cure and returns with it just in time to save her.

8 sentence story

Terri, who is an executive at a blue chip tech firm, has a lower salary than her male counterparts. She has accepted this fact for too long, and decides she wants to do something about it. She calls a meeting with her seniors. They tell her she can improve her  salary if she works longer hours than the top performing male executive (who works 60+ hours per week). In spite of this cruel and unfair offer, Terri agrees, determined to prove that hard work can be a route out of inequality. After months of work, she sees her husband and kids less and less, but outperforms everyone else at her level in the company. Terri earns a promotion, but finds that at the next level in the hierarchy, the gender pay gap remains the same. She is downcast, knowing that by working harder she will become more distanced from her family, but also knows that if she makes it to CEO, she can make the pay rules fair for everyone.

When you’ve been humbled

You’ve been brought back down to earth. Your ego is crushed, and you feel ashamed for ever thinking so highly of yourself. Remember that this is life, and the only thing available to us is to keep moving forwards with renewed vigour and the knowing smile that nature is more powerful than we ever will be.