Out of the comfort zone 1

Recently my writing group, in one of our impromptu writing sessions, was asked to ‘write about an unfamiliar subject’. We all, I think, have a tendency to write about things that interest us and that we respond readily to, can empathise with. The brief was, walk away from what’s familiar. Swim in strange waters!

We’ll post some of the results of that challenge over the next few weeks. Today’s post is written by Jane. She says,

The main character of this piece, Sara, is unfamiliar in my writing. I tend to write short stories about people from working backgrounds, often from small towns, and rarely do I write of someone with wealth and the time to enjoy it. On reading it over, it seems like a swipe at superficiality with a bit of envy aimed at a character who has what would appear to be an ideal kind of life but a life in which depth is not evident.

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The phone was wriggling on the marble kitchen bench top. Sara glanced over at it and grinned. She’d sent out an invitation for an impromptu lunch at one of those new pop-up restaurants in the inner city to a handful of friends, and within minutes they were all buzzing her back, keen to come along. She picked up the phone and sent out the first of several clues about its secret location. It was only by chance that she’d bumped into one of the restaurant’s owners at a party the night before, and she’d sweet-talked him into opening today for a private lunch party. He was new to Sydney and keen to impress, and when she’d introduced herself she could see him do a double-take. Her name usually had that impact on people.

Sara sent out a second clue and went to shower, dressing carefully from the new range of chic clothing that a friend of a friend had sent her. It had cost her nothing, and the only request was that she acknowledge the designer in any posts or photos online. This was the norm for Sara. Outfit provided, a credit card that had no limit, money in her account without any tangible effort required on her part.

She sent out the third and final clue before leaving the penthouse. The driver, Lloyd, was waiting as instructed. Sara usually drove herself but when she wasn’t in the mood, or had fun planned, she had the services of a driver on call. Her father insisted on it after that incident with the car and the power pole. No serious damage done to Sara. She really hadn’t drunk that much.

Sara relaxed back into the leather seats as Lloyd guided the car through the lunchtime traffic. She smiled at the thought of her friends making their way out to Annandale. Would they be able to decipher her clues? There had been a couple of texts, almost pleading in their tone, asking for extra hints.

Her phone wriggled again. A message from her mother. Sara flicked the screen with a disdainful finger. No doubt she’d want to catch up somewhere tedious to talk about what Sara wanted to do with her life. Sara knew what she wanted to do. And she was doing it. It wasn’t as if the money was ever going to run out, that the fun would ever have to stop. Sure, she might find someone that she cared enough about someday. But that wouldn’t stop the good times. Sara knew what she didn’t want and that was to be like her mother, a perpetual fundraiser for charitable causes, unaware of the irony that the most of the money that she raised was from people just like them who made a very comfortable life off the miserable existence of the masses that they were raising money to help. Sara had decided long ago that it wasn’t fair but that it wasn’t her doing and that she might as well enjoy her life rather than dwell on it with angst like her mother.

Sara wasn’t above charitable causes; she gave her unwanted clothes and homewares and gifts away to those more needy. Sure, they were mainly given to her friends but not everyone had as much as she did. Her Dad’s motto about helping those who helped themselves was firmly branded as one of her core values, and Sara was determined to help herself to whatever it was that she wanted in life.

The car had pulled over outside a renovated terrace just off Parramatta Road. Lloyd had turned the car off and was waiting for her next instructions. Sara looked about, taking in the late winter sunshine, dappled through the trees. The front door to the restaurant was open and Sara turned, looking up and down the street, ready for the next pleasurable thing in her life to begin.

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