Storypraxis is a community creative writing experiment practicing daily creativity. Or to put that another way, it’s a website which aims to encourage people to do creative writing by getting them for ten minutes every day. Each day you’re given a prompt – it could be a word; it could be two words or a short phrase – and the idea is that you spend ten minutes writing a story based on that prompt.
I joined Storypraxis last week; the story below is based on yesterday’s prompt (the word “blurry”). Read on…
The grey blob framed by the square of thick white lines was completely nondescript, yet the six-foot giant of a man held on to it as if it were a Picasso. On the pew next to him sat an elderly lady who was just as fiercely protective of her equally nondescript cocktail of yellow, green and blue.
Everyone in the chapel had one in their hand – a Polaroid photograph that you knew was supposed to be of something, but just couldn’t make out what. These people had pretty much nothing in common except for one thing: at one time or other, they had been photographed by the occupant of the exquisite oak coffin that was about to be carried down the aisle out of the chapel.
Simon was only five when the accident that left him severely brain damaged happened. Every year he held on to after that had been a miracle – albeit one tinged with the worst kind of suspense as his family still expected the inevitable to happen at any time.
When he turned 11 and death showed no sign of making that visit, Simon’s mum and dad had a brainwave: why not encourage him to take up a hobby? Simon always seemed fascinated by cameras, and so – despite the fact that he suffered terribly from ‘the shakes’ – they bought him a Polaroid camera.
Simon took an instant liking to his new toy. Friends, family, neighbours and his sister’s classmates were all eager to encourage him in his new passion, despite the fact that his hands shook so much, all you could see in the resulting photographs was a blur.
When Outkast told the world to “shake it like a Polaroid picture”, this obviously wasn’t what they had in mind. But it really didn’t matter. Something about Simon’s Polaroids just grabbed your heart and refused to let go. Somehow, within the blurry mass of colour, you could sense the love pouring out from Simon’s heart to his subjects. The wedding pics that looked as if the bride and groom were standing in front of fairground mirrors; the close-up of Miss Frank, his sister’s history teacher, in which she appeared to have three eyes (six, if you took her varifocal glasses into account); the enormous blob of brown, orange and grey that was supposed to be Uncle Ted at the beach (the only way you could look at Uncle Ted in Speedos and not feel violently sick); the picture of Amma winning the 100 metres at her school sports day, which looked like she was breaking the sound barrier…
All these pictures and others took pride of place in different locations. Until this morning, Uncle Ted’s beach atrocity had been pinned to an office wall next to a potted plant that was dying a slow death by dehydration. Suki used hers as a bookmark and swore that it was the lucky charm responsible for her getting a first at uni. Pop into the Lucky House for a chicken chow mein and you’d see the entire Hau family (sort of) on either side of the giant-sized menu.
Simon’s four uncles took their positions by the coffin, and with military precision lifted it to shoulder height. At that very moment, a hand in the crowd shot up, holding a Polaroid high in salute. By the time the coffin had made it to the chapel door, the entire chapel was a sea of little white frames. The 500-Polaroid salute stayed aloft all the way to the cemetery.