We’re nine years old today! And we’re celebrating with a birthday Round Robin written by six of our talented Choc Lit authors. Morton S. Gray started us off with a cringe-worthy birthday encounter and now it’s up to Kirsty Ferry to help poor Lauren out of her predicament (or make it even worse!)
In order to enjoy this story, you’ll need to read it in order, so make sure you read Morton’s part first HERE. Also, remember to read right until the end so you can enter the second competition of the day!
The Forgotten Birthday – Part Two
‘I think the Birthday Girl should read her work out first.’ That was Ian, smiling again at Lauren as they settled back onto their tables after the birthday embarrassment. He’d moved desks so he was bang opposite her now. Yes. She definitely wanted the floor to open up and swallow her. ‘It’s her special day after all.’
‘Oh no, I really don’t think so.’ Lauren smiled back, trying to take the edge off her words. She closed her notebook firmly and rested her hand on it, as if Hugh would whisk it out from under her nose and read her garbage on “chains” out himself.
‘The first time’s the hardest.’ Ian leaned across the table. ‘It gets better after that.’ He winked and she blushed to the roots of her hair.
She was, actually, speechless – words were not enough to respond to him. A big problem when one was in a creative writing class. She was so out of practice with this flirtation business; because surely that’s what he was doing.
‘He’s right,’ chipped in Hugh. ‘Ivan–’ he squinted at Ian’s stuck-on name, ‘is correct.’
‘Ian.’ Ian smiled at Hugh. ‘Ian is right. And so I am. Go on Lauren.’ He emphasised her name and Lauren blushed again. ‘We’d love to hear your work. You’re among friends. At least, I hope we’re friends. Only friends go to each other’s birthday parties.’
‘Very true.’ Lauren sighed and looked at the sea of expectant faces. ‘Okay. I’ll do it. Then that’s it. Someone else can do it next time.’ She opened her book and her stomach churned as she looked at the words she’d scrawled on the paper.
‘Have a bit of cake, love,’ said Marion encouragingly, pushing a plate closer towards her. Hugh had brought the cake through with them and placed it in front of her enticingly. ‘It always helps me.’
Lauren grinned, her stomach suddenly unknotting. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. She looked at the words and took a deep breath. ‘Chains. Bitter. Twisted. A prisoner. My marriage. My life. Break free. He broke me. Freedom – my first steps to freedom. My robin, red as the sunrise, red as a berry. He’s free, he’s happy. He’s unchained. As am I. Now …’
Her skin was burning, and she couldn’t continue. Surprisingly, it was still so raw. Her sister’s betrayal, finding her in bed with her very own husband. She felt sick – properly sick. ‘Good grief.’ She stared at the notebook. ‘I’m so sorry. I don’t know where that all came from.’ She looked up at Hugh, almost apologetic. ‘Well. I’ve put a downer on that exercise, haven’t I? On my bloody birthday as well!’
Hugh nodded, efficient yet understanding. ‘It’s fine. These courses–’ he waved his hand around the room, ‘–they can be cathartic. They can dredge things up. But they can also help. Don’t forget, we’re all here to support each other.’ He looked around the room. ‘Isn’t that right?’
The assembled writers all nodded.
‘I thought it was great.’ Ian was looking at her. ‘Almost poetry. Wouldn’t you agree?’ He looked around the room, and everyone else nodded and murmured assent.
Lauren smiled gratefully. ‘I never thought I was a poet.’ She hadn’t written much beyond a shopping list since she’d got married.
‘We discover all sorts about ourselves on these courses.’ Ian was looking at her in admiration. ‘You, perhaps, will discover you’ve got a knack for poetry.’
Hugh chipped in again, clearly worried that Ian was taking the lead when he was supposed to be in charge. ‘Yes. Ivan is correct. Again. We do run specific courses in poetry – perhaps you might like to explore that another time, Laura?’
Lauren looked at Hugh and their eyes fixed on one another’s for a moment. She blinked and he blinked, and he was the first to look away. ‘Of course,’ he said, rubbing that beard again, ‘that offer is open to everyone here. Just saying.’
‘I really do think you’ve got the makings of a poem there.’ Ian tapped his pen on his notebook and looked at Lauren. ‘Lauren.’ Again, the emphasis was on her name. ‘If you want to chat about it later at dinner, I’m very happy to chat to you. And, maybe, buy you a birthday drink?’
Are things looking up a bit for Lauren? And do we sense that there’s going to be a bit of rivalry between Ian and Hugh? We’ll see when Sue McDonagh takes up the reins with the next part of the story in an hour’s time. Don’t miss it!
If you enjoyed Kirsty’s writing, you might like to check out her books. You can find details by clicking the image above.
To be in with a chance of winning a Choc Lit book and some chocolate to go with it simply answer the question below (we hope you’ve been reading carefully!):
What does Hugh think Ian’s name is?
To enter, send your answer to email@example.com with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Kirsty Ferry comp’ by Tuesday 19th June. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Wednesday 20th June.