No Stone Unturned by Valerie Chapman
If you missed Val’s story, read it here
Some guessed the end, others didn’t.
lily commented, “You tell stories very well. I honestly didn’t expect that ending.” But Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged.com said, “Great story and nice twist at the end. The ending wasn’t a complete surprise but maybe I just like to figure things out.“
Hugh W. Roberts enjoyed the story very much. “As I read it, it came over so peaceful and quaint (it must have been the floral cushion that made me think it, but I love how you included it as ‘floral’ and not just a cushion) … As I read on, I thought everything seemed to be too perfect and this prompted me into thinking something nasty was coming.
As somebody who writes lots of flash fiction and short stories that come with a twist at the end, I guessed the ending before I got to it, but this didn’t affect my enjoyment of your story and the way you wrote it. You drew me in from the first sentence to the last word.
Janet Gogerty guessed the ending when the fishpond got to be filled in. lesleywallace54 thought it a good story with a twist at the end. “Made me chuckle which is always good,” and Elizabeth also found it a “very satisfying story with a good twist.”
Marsha loved the story and the title. “I did not see the ending coming until the end, which is an art I have never mastered. So this story has started my brain humming, which I love about Story Chats.”
Gary A Wilson also loved the story. “I tend to not try and guess much about how the story is going to unfold as I prefer to let the writer simply unfold it as he/she prefers.
That said, I did somehow manage to guess in general what was coming but mostly because I expect some twist in each Story Chat offering. “
Valerie agreed, “I know what you mean about guessing the end. I often do the same. Must be our naturally suspicious minds.
Some readers seemed worryingly at home with the idea
Jane said, “I do love a nice neat murder where the perpetrator gets away with it. It gives me great ideas…perhaps my husband should be worried.”
Hugh was also happy with the idea… “I love it when females are the murderers. I don’t know why, but even today it always comes over as unexpected when a female character is a villain. I think it still gives readers a shock when it’s revealed.”
Val said, “Writing gives us a platform to explore totally different sides of our personalities. I’m normally quite happy and upbeat. Honestly.”
Gary summed up the denoument: “She succumbed to the cancer and worried about the new owners.
Oh my — these lines were perfect and delivered like a pro!
As always, Story Chat inspired readers to share reminiscences
Janet recalled, “We had a pond like that and my husband dug it deep for koi carp…. He even fell in it once, but managed to get out again …”
Valerie suggested, “Maybe your husband didn’t really fall in, perhaps he was trying it for size…?!”
Lesley’s neighbours found what looked like an old grave “way up in the bush behind their home. We had a few wines one day and told stories of what we thought it might be. Maybe there is a Gordon lying somewhere beneath the rubble.
Since writing this story, Valerie has discovered “a number of people who have ‘grave shaped’ plots in their gardens. They can’t all be filled in ponds, can they?”
Gary felt Val had created a wonderful opening scene with Barbara and her garden. “I could see it, feel it and almost taste the fresh scents. You crafted her very well and the note about her dying of cancer felt exactly as some elderly I’ve met and known received similar news. Mature, self-composed and ready for the next phase of life.
“Your use of her stopping for tea and her comfy cushion to recall the rest of the story, put the story telling into her mind.”
Patsy Collins “could identify with Barbara – gardening helps me forget about any worries or stresses too. (I’d like to point out that my husband is alive and I have no plans to build a rockery!)“
But Valerie replied, “I can only assume you haven’t been married that long!”
Fellow-writers offered suggestions.
Gary said, “if a narrator told us that, ‘…he disappeared. Just walked out and left.’ the reader should register this as a fact that can be trusted. If a character says or thinks it, then the door is left open for possible deception but in this case, Barbara is just thinking to herself with us listening in. Why would she lie to herself?”
Janis felt the timeline could be worked on “so that it’s clear that the husband ‘left’ before the pond was filled in. I think you could do that without giving away where Gordon ended up. Not enough story about Gordon though. Did Barbara still love him once he changed?”
Val recalled writing the story as a group exercise. “I was a little limited regarding word count. This is one of the first stories I wrote since joining the u3a writing group and therefore one of the first stories I have ever written. As I (hopefully) progress with my writing I may find the confidence to know what to include and what to discard … Once in a while I wonder where the next part of the story will go, and in this instance I think I may have turned it into a ghost story with the spirit of Gordon playing his part.”
Marsha noted that “The story might have been a secret for generations if Barbara hadn’t tipped off the new owners. But did she? It’s not clear that she did tip them off. She only hoped they wouldn’t be upset (her last thoughts).
But Marsha didn’t think much of the policework involved! Food for development there…
Marsha had mentioned that Barbara was good at keeping secrets but, as Val pointed out, “she was only keeping one secret really.
Or was she?
Maybe there was more to her than meets the eye?
Who knows what else is lurking there?
There may well be a reason why Gordon had no friends or family to miss him.
Debbie really enjoyed the story “and was there with Barbara in her garden, seeing it as she did … I’ve enjoyed reading the other comments too, with ideas and suggestions.
Hugh commented: “Barbara is a wonderful character. The way you described her and the way she was thinking made me think of Joan Hickson playing Miss Marple.”
Val promised: “We little old ladies can have hidden depths… Who can say what any of us are capable of, given the right circumstances. And Joan Hickson, yes! Oh, I feel a ‘prequel’coming on.”
Contributors to this month’s conversation were…
- Lesley Wallace
- Janet G ogerty
- Gary Wilson
- Patsy Collins
- The Writeway709
- Jane from the Whittlesey Wordsmiths
- Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged
- Hugh W Roberts
- and Marsha
(Links take you to a post on the commenter’s blog.)
Sticks and Stones was first published in Where the Wild Winds Blow from the Whittlesey Wordsmiths.
Find more from Val in the Whittlesey Wordsmiths’ new Christmas collections: Windy Christmas (that’ll be the sprouts), for adult readers, and Jingle Bells and Tinsel Tales; Festive Fiction for All Ages.