A Revolutionary Act

A piece of flash fiction I wrote on the subject of patriotism and inspired by the current election.

A Revolutionary Act

I love my country, but it has to change. He said to himself. After today everything will be different. He unbuckled his seatbelt, glanced at himself in the mirror and took a deep breath, surprised at his own nervousness. All these weeks of planning. The arguing and the debate, this is what it comes down to; one simple act. He looked around the street, watching the people milling around; paying particular attention to the steady stream entering and exiting the community centre across from his car, like a convoy of ants making their procession to the colony. They’re all so casual, like this is a normal day. People are beaten and executed for what I’m about to do. It can terrify governments and spark riots and war. Yet the people around me don’t care or don’t understand. What I, and others like me, do today will affect everyone I see here.

He opened the door and stepped onto the road, being careful to keep his coat closed, then walked purposefully over to the community centre. His heart started pounding as he crossed the threshold and followed the line of people into the large hall at the heart of the building. I guess this is it. No going back now. Taking one last look around the hall at the housewives, mechanics, retirees, office workers, husbands, wifes and grandparents moving through it; he let his coat fall open, it no longer mattered now he was inside, and stalked over to a booth by the far wall.

Entering the booth he reached down for the tool he’d expected to be left there, the instrument of his revolutionary act and he grasped it in his hand. He paused, just for a beat, a short rest in a frenetic musical score, then the baton is raised again and he looked down and with the pencil he marked a cross in a box on the slip of paper before him. It’s done. He let out a long, easy breath and folded the paper once, pushed it through the slot on the ballot box next to the booth and smiled at the returning officer. Once more he closed his coat against the spring rain and walked out of the centre to discover what new country lay before him in tomorrow’s dawn.


Creative Writing

I recently flirted with the idea of doing a distance learning or part-time English degree but eventually decided it would be too time consuming and too expensive (especially with a new baby in the house). However I still wanted to explore a bit more creative writing and eventually decided that instead of putting it off I should just give it a try.

Over the last couple of months I’ve been putting together story ideas and writing some wee pieces of flash fiction and short stories. I’ll try and put some of it up on here in the future. It’s been great as a hobby that I can devote time to while still taking a shift looking after the baby. I type away at the table while she sleeps in her bouncy chair or gurgles away on the playmat. Other times I can read some of the community work at Scribophile.com and practice my critical eye by offering critiques for others (the worth of this kind of online community is hard to overstate, it’s brilliant!).

Last week I went along to the local community centre for a meeting of Stonehaven’s creative writing group. Before I turned up I had all kinds of mental images in my head of what the class would be like. To be honest most of them were pretty close to the reality but aside from that the class was also friendly, welcoming, supportive, non-judgemental and full of interesting discussion about literature and various other things.

We spent some time discussing a long poetry piece one of the group members have written. I found the standard was very high and everyone raised good points, both on the technical and emotional components of the work. Then we went through some short exercises to try and generate discussion and possible writing topics. These included a few poems on St George (as it was his day) and a task to list things we hate touching and list reasons why. Finally we finished with a review and discussion of a story written by the group leader based on a bit of his family history from Peterhead where it’s rumoured his ancestors came across a large chest of money washed up from the sea. He’d used this to write an entertaining and humorous piece with dialogue in broad doric telling the tale of the chest and the inevitable double-cross within the group that found it.

The conversation around this piece darted off in various directions in great detail. It was really refreshing just to be able to sit and discuss a piece of writing like this and go into the technical details as well as the broad themes and history which inspired it. I thought it was a great way to spend a couple of hours so think I’ll definitely be going back again.