Creative Writing Ink: STEPS – a ‘Hearts Want’-related short story

Today I’m taking the time to post something a bit off-the-beaten path from my normal posts, but still movie-related of course. Those of you who’ve been around FC for a while have probably read my first fantasy draft pitch Hearts Want I wrote last September, which is a romantic thriller.

So what’s that got to do with this post? Allow me to explain.

The first time I came across this brilliant writing exercise was at Novroz’s blog and I was impressed by her short story on Alice. It turns out the idea came from Olive of Creative Writing Ink, who posts a picture each week to prompt people to write something based on it, be it a poem, short story, what have you. Well, the ‘steps’ picture she posted on April 18 somehow made me think of that movie concept, particularly the relationship between the main protagonist Spencer Wesford (Timothy Dalton) and his estranged son Jacob (Gerard Butler), the woman mentioned below refers to Spencer’s former lover Olivia (Helen Mirren), whom he had an affair when he was still married to Jacob’s mother.


Spencer instantly got all choked up as he approached the steps to the villa. The harder he tried to conceal his tears, the more he failed miserably… it’s as if someone had broken the floodgates within him and water just kept pouring out. His biggest fear all of sudden came true as Jacob placed his healthy hand on his shoulder, “What’s wrong, dad?”

Spencer leaned on the stone walls, covering his mouth as he’s practically sobbing now. He couldn’t speak, barely even able to stand up straight. He had figured he’d be a bit emotional coming here, but nothing would prepare him to be overcome by it in this way. He recalled the time he brought Olivia here, mostly during the night so she couldn’t track down the exact location. He had missed her, but the fact that his affair was the main cause of their estrangement in the first place wasn’t lost on him.

Jacob had never seen his father this way, never. The 64-year-old had always been a picture of controlled grace, almost severe in his stoicism, perhaps something he had learned in his long years in MI-5 that no amount of retirement years would ever shake it off. But in this surprisingly sunny afternoon, for the first time Jacob saw his father in a different light. It’s kind of ironic that minutes ago it was Jacob who was in a gloomy mood, remarking about how even the bluest sky accompanying their ride from the city could barely make a dent.

Jacob dropped his duffel bag on the ground and reluctantly embraced his father. Reluctant not because he didn’t love him, it’s just that they didn’t quite have that kind of relationship, not since Jacob was a wee lad, and especially not after his mother passed away. Spencer made the most of that slight gesture and held on to Jacob, holding him as tightly as he could with tears still streaming profusely out of him. Jacob was starting to feel a bit of pain on his wounded shoulder, but he didn’t want to say anything. Besides, it couldn’t be anywhere near as painful as what his father must be feeling, he thought.

Spencer finally stopped sobbing and regained his composure, wiping his nose with his jacket sleeve as he broke away from Jacob. “I’m sorry.” His voice was suddenly stern and his gesture seemed to suggest that he’s back in control again, though of course his bloodshot eyes betrayed him. “No need to be sorry… it’s… really ok…” Jacob muttered, he was going to say ‘it happens’ but it didn’t seem appropriate as it actually never happened before. “Grab your bag, we should go inside.” Spencer said, “A lot of things I have to tell you. You have the right to know.”

With those words, the two lanky father and son walked quietly up the steps and into Jacob’s safe house. Perhaps this very place could in fact bring healing to their weary hearts? Spencer could only hope.


The short story would make more sense to you if you’ve read the pitch, which you can access here or by clicking the ‘Hearts Want’ poster on my sidebar.

Well what do you think? I’d really appreciate your feedback… thank you kindly :D

24 thoughts on “Creative Writing Ink: STEPS – a ‘Hearts Want’-related short story

  1. As a vignette of a larger story, it’s not bad, though you might want to stick to one tense. You switch from the past to the present in several places.

    • Thanks for your feedback, Rich. Oy, tense has always been a weakness of mine, but I’ve changed a couple of things now (at least I hope I did). Thanks again for pointing that out.

    • Thanks Castor, and thanks to you for the fantasy draft idea! :D Yeah I know it’s not necessary to repeat it, but I wanted to for emphasis.

  2. You paint a very vivid picture, and it’s even more enticing knowing Timothy Dalton and Gerard Butler are the characters in this heart-warming exchange… if only it were really so (swoon) ;-O

    • Hey thanks Becky! He..he.. I had quite a vivid picture in my mind of the two of them in that ‘scene’… I even thought about what they’d be wearing… and GB would have his longish hair the way he’s been wearing it lately and Dalton would kinda look like this http://www.pelicanpromotions.com.au/dalton/Possessed1.jpg

      It’d be a dream come true to see both of them together in a dramatic feature, I think they’d be suitable as father and son.

  3. That’s great Ruth. It kind of reminds me of an English class back in high school when our teacher gave us a picture and we have to write up a story about it. It can be any kind of a story, which was actually fun to do.

    • Thanks Ted. I never had an exercise like this in high school back in Indo, but it would’ve been a great idea for a writing class.

    • Thanks Jack. I’d love to expand Hearts Want into a screenplay actually, instead of a novel… as I can kinda visualize the ‘scenes’ in my head :)

      • Would you let me audition Ruth? Please! I reckon I could pull off ‘severe stoicism’ and ‘controlled grace’, a cross between Helen Mirren in the Queen and Grace Kelly in Rear Window. Though as a man… obviously. If I’m not what you’re looking for (though I can’t imagine why not) I could always get coffee for people or be a grip or something. This could be my big break!

        • Hey Ronan, I’m sure you can pull off ‘controlled grace’ beautifully. Now the question is, can you pull off looking like a 64-year-old man? He..he..

  4. I am down with it too!

    You have a lovely way with words and a fantastic diction. I could never write anything creatively as I only know about 5 words and the readers would get very bored.

    You have left me wanting more, which I guess is the point?

    Thanks for sharing Ruth!!

    C

    • Oh Custard, you are such a self-deprecating Brit… you are a much better writer than I am, mate, you are a natural with words… and you won’t be able to have a blog if you only know 5 words!

      My vocabulary is still very limited as English isn’t my native tongue but I subscribe to Word of the Day from Dictionary.com to improve on that :)

        • Oh I don’t mind at all. I’ve started learning English in grade school, but just the grammatical part. I didn’t start speaking and writing it until I came to the US for college back in the early 90s.

  5. It’s beautiful, Ruth. I can feel the odd relationship between those father and son.

    Thank you for linking my second short story and welcome to Creative Ink :) hope to see more of your works in the future

    • Thank you Novia, you are my inspiration, I’m glad I came across your Alice post. I now follow Olive on Twitter so yeah, I’d love to participate on this exercise more often in the future.

  6. I liked how you incorporated the steps immediately to set the environment. and then talked about Spencer leaning on the stone walls….Nice.

    I only had one question: how does one wipe their nose with their elbow? believe it or not, i tried after reading that part. :D

    Glad to see you still working on Hearts Want. I have been wanting to re-write the ending for my draft movie for the past couple of weeks! FC=inspiration!! :)

    • Hey thanks T, well I learn from Olive’s site to have a strong opening to the story that ties in immediately to the picture.

      Oh, that’s a mishap on my part, I meant to say ‘elbow sleeve’ but I’ve changed it to just say jacket sleeve instead. Yeah that’d be tough to do isn’t it to have your elbow touch your nose, ahah.

      Glad I’ve inspired you in some way. I’d love to see the ending to your story, so pls send me the link to it when you’re done, ok?

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