Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction Challenge: ‘What if?’

This post was written in response to Charli Mills weekly flash fiction challenge.

January 5, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rattling sound. It can be an intimidating sound of protest, a disorienting loud sound, a musical expression or a gentle baby’s toy. Go where the prompt leads you. To take part, join in here!

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Today’s flash was inspired by the Christmas season, which has just passed.

 

The Good Nephew

‘Go away,’ he shouted, covering his head with the woollen blanket, but the rattling grew louder.

‘Leave me alone!’ He was trembling.

More rattling.

‘I don’t want to go there again!’

‘I warned you last Christmas,’ came the ghostly echo with more thunderous rattling.    

Minutes later, the ghost discarded the heavy chains and stood by the skeletal corpse in the icy bedroom.

‘I was only reminding you to keep your promises,’ he said closing Ebenezer’s blank eyes.

Then he opened the safe where the miser kept the gold coins and dropped them into his purse.

‘Rest in peace, uncle.’

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One of the strategies I use in my retellings of Victorian fiction are ‘what if questions.

In the case of A Christmas Carol I asked myself:

What  if Scrooge didn’t change after all?

What if there were never ghosts, just a trick to scare the old miser?

What if the nephew wasn’t such a good person?

What if his nephew, became more greedy and tired of waiting to inherit?

The same story with a ‘what if’ becomes another story, which is complimentary to the original story.  The more feasible the ‘What if’, the more credible your new version becomes.

christmas-carol-cover

There are many possible ‘what ifs’ to any story. Here are some more for A Christmas Carol:

What if Scrooge was an opium addict instead of a miser?

What if Scrooge wasn’t as rich as people thought?

What if the ghosts were time travellers?

What if his nephew was really his son?

What if Scrooge had killed Marley to take over the business?

The options are endless and exciting if the questions are reasonable. It can also work with ‘unreasonable’ what ifs.

For example, if I asked, ‘What if Scrooge was really Prince Albert who was bored at home with Queen Victoria?’ It might work as a nonsense story, but not as an alternative version.

In the Eyre Hall Trilogy, my sequel to Jane Eyre, some of my ‘what ifs’ were the following:

What if Bertha had a child in the attic?

What if Rochester had the child removed?

What if Bertha’s daughter returned to Eyre Hall as an adult to claim her birth right?

What if Rochester went back to his old ways shortly after marrying Jane?

What if Jane stopped loving Rochester?

What if Jane fell in love with another man?

And many, many, many more!

bertha-and-jane

Creating alternate, complimentary, versions of well known novels or stories is fun and creative, because it opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

I love reimagining fiction and reinventing stories.

Some people criticise me for doing so. I answer that writers have been borrowing stories and retelling them since pen was first put to paper (Chaucer, Shakespeare and Scott, did it all the time! Even Dickens did it occasionally).

My retellings are a tribute to the original authors and works, and I consider it an honour to be able to share my reimaginings with my readers.

Do you ever venture into the world of ‘what ifs’ in your writing?

#TwelfthNight in Victorian England

Today is Twelfth Night. It is the last day of the Twelve Days of Christmas, which began on the 25th of December.

It is literally the twelfth night after December 25, so it is celebrated on the night of January 5th, the night before the Epiphany, or the coming of the Three Kings, Wise Men or Maggi to visit the new born baby Jesus on January 6.

 

Epiphany

Traditionally, it was, and still is, on this night that the Christmas tree and decorations are taken down, supposedly to avoid bad luck during the year ahead.

In Victorian England, Twelfth Night was celebrated with parties and festivities. Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol did much to reinforce popular Christmas traditions, as did Queen Victoria, and her husband Prince Albert, who brought many customs from his native Germany.

As early as 1849 (six years after A Christmas Carol was published) it was reported that Queen Victoria and the royal family celebrated Twelfth Night with an evening at the theatre and a famous twelfth cake made especially for the occasion. Yet in the 1870s, Queen Victoria banned Twelfth-Night festivities because they were becoming too rowdy.

More about the Victorian Twelfth Night Cake here:

12th-night-cake

There’s more information about the origin of Christmastide celebrations and the Epiphany in another blog post I wrote last year.

As you know, My second novel is called Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, because the action revolves on and around that date. There’s a very important event that occurs on that day at Eyre Hall, but I’m afraid I can’t include a full extract because it contains a huge spoiler, but I can offer a few paragraphs for your entertainment.

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Chapter XVI

Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall

The morning after Twelfth Night, Eyre Hall woke up to an alarming blizzard. I had risen and was looking out to the vast whiteness where no shape, human, animal or natural, could be discerned due to the snowy curtain pouring down. I pitied anyone who would have to leave the house in such weather.

I turned my thoughts to Michael, in London. No doubt, the weather as always, was kinder there. I wondered if he had found Helen, and how soon he would return. He had said by Twelfth Night, so I was looking forward to his arrival shortly. The snow might slow down his journey, but it was a small impediment for such a tenacious person. I wondered wistfully as Nell helped me dress, if we could ever be together as any couple who are in love, but we were not any couple. There were so many obstacles in our way, although now, more than ever, I was sure our future was entwined, and we would find a way to overcome all the complications.

I was shaken by cries coming from Mr. Mason’s room. Seconds later Annette rushed in ….

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Quote by Booktips

So, tomorrow Christmas is over, the decorations are taken down, the Christmas lights are turned off, and the New Year begins in earnest. Short, chilly days and long cold nights await us.

Plenty of hard work to make our New Years’ resolutions become a reality await us…

I wish you all good luck, good health, happiness, and success in your projects for the year ahead!

 

Happy New Year