What happens when you ask a group of writers to compose a story on the spot, from a jump-off point?
We gave twenty minutes of the last meeting of our writers’ group, to find out.
“Here’s the situation,” I said. “Someone turns up at the door of a house, carrying a suitcase, and announces to the door-opener that they want to stay for a while. The occupants of the house have never set eyes on this person. What happens now?”
Here’s how the story, as constructed by the group, unfolded.
It’s raining hard. There’s a knock on the door of an ordinary house.” I’ll go,” says the woman of the house.
She sees an aging man on the doorstep. He looks done in. He is of average height, wearing a pale green fedora and a camelhair coat, and is very wet. He carries a bulging suitcase. His boots are steel-capped. “I’ve come to stay for a while,” he says.
The woman is very reluctant to let in this stranger whom she has never before seen. She shuts the door firmly.
Then she thinks: hang on, isn’t that Grandpa’s suitcase? They hadn’t seen him for over twenty years. She opens the door again.
Still wary, she says “Who are you?”
The man looks very ill, and about to faint. He falls across the doormat. “Please… I am very hungry… haven’t slept for days.”
How could she leave him there? She allows him to enter. Then he lifts his eyes and says, “Oh, you’ve changed the wallpaper.”
He knows the house! And he has a Grandpa feel about him – but is not Grandpa…
At this point we wondered: could he be a twin, a half-brother of Grandpa? His mannerisms are similar.
Could he be wanting the house they lived in? Was there a new will that they had not seen, in the suitcase? Would they be dispossessed of this old comfortable house that had been theirs for a long time?
Could he be an imposter?
Is Grandpa murdered? Is his head in the suitcase? (Hey, why not?)
Stories grow from tiny seeds. How would you react if a stranger turned up on your doorstep, wanting to live in your house for a while?