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by Cornelia 

Posted: 21 January 2011
Word Count: 425
Summary: An entry for the Truth and Deception competition 340

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Wintry sunlight glanced off the orange juice directly into Tom's eyes as Diana came back into the kitchen. The savagery with which she chewed a piece of toast belied her nonchalance as she looked through the window.

Tom crouched, expectant, on the baseline and waited for her opening shot.

‘Does ‘Coconut’ ring any bells?’

First service, deceptively soft, intended to wrong- foot.

‘Is it a crossword clue?’

Bounced off the top of the net.


One false move and there’d be days of atonement. His last mistake had landed him in the spare room for a week.

‘Someone on the phone, a woman, said you left a sweater in The Coconut.’

Second service; the momentum unnerved him for a few seconds.

‘Sweater in the coconut? Haha! Sounds like ‘motto in the cracker’ or ‘dinner in the oven’.

Well parried.

‘Ah, yes, I remember, now. I lent it to Ed. He was going out straight from the office and didn’t want to look too formal. Something about a fruit-and-veg-themed pub crawl.’

Superb backhand return.

'You lent it to Ed, but some-one from the pub rang you? How did they know to do that? I thought you had a squash fixture. And where exactly is The Coconut?’

Long lob, so start running. Buy some time. Say something; anything.

‘You know what Ed’s like. He probably gave my number to a girl he picked up. He wouldn’t give his own number, would he? I think it’s somewhere near the office.’

He surprised himself sometimes. Match break while she busied herself making coffee. She turned to look at him, hand poised to ram the plunger home.

This one would be carefully positioned.

Then,( oh thank you, God), the phone rang . He straightened up. Probably her mother.

Tossing him a ‘match postponed’ look, she left the kitchen. That was OK though. A call on his mobile to Ed and he’d have everything sorted by the time he got back from work.

Either that or he’d have to drag the 13 tog single out of the cupboard.

At lunch time he rang the pub.

‘Hi, Selina. This is Tom . About the sweater I left behind last night … the one you talked to my sister about this morning ?’

Nice little drop shot.

‘Oh, hi, Tom. Your sister was it? She’s not very fond of you, is she? Want to come round and collect?'

Too easy.

‘Sorry, babes, not tonight.’

Why bother with amateurs? There was a top seed waiting for him at home, and everything to play for.

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Comments by other Members

tusker at 14:29 on 21 January 2011  Report this post
I enjoyed this, Sheila.

Loved the tennis game, set and match verbal theme running through this. Disliked HIM but at least he won't be playing away again. Well, at least not for a while.

One small nit. At the start POV threw me. I thought it was Diana's tale. Just a slight change, maybe such as, Tom watched, crouching...' or 'The way her teeth, savaged a piece of toast, it seemed to Tom, belied her nonchalant air.


Cornelia at 15:08 on 21 January 2011  Report this post
Jennifor Thanks very much for reading and for your suggestion. I can fix that straight away, I think.


V`yonne at 16:41 on 21 January 2011  Report this post
Oh he got away way too easy and he won't learn ; Liked the game metaphor. It's nicely staged.

Desormais at 17:19 on 21 January 2011  Report this post
This was great Sheila, and such a brilliant idea, the tennis strokes. Like Jennifer I just lost it slightly at the beginning, thought he was talking to her when the conversation opened up, but I soon got into it. Great read!


euclid at 23:08 on 21 January 2011  Report this post
I spotted a couple of typos:

You lent it to Ed, but some-one from the pub rang you? How did they know to do that? I thought you had a squash fixture. And where exactly is The Coconut?’

Quotation mark missing at the start there, and

‘Oh, hi, Tom. Your sister was it? She’s not very fond of you, is she? Want to come round and collect?

Quotation mark missing at the end.

I'm afraid I found this hard to read and difficult to understand (I know - I'm thick)
I felt I should go back and read it again to understand what was going on. But if too many readers react like that...

Nice idea, though.

Cornelia at 11:39 on 22 January 2011  Report this post
Thanks for reading and for spotting the missing speech marks, euclid. I've tried to make it clear that it's Diana who speaks first and that their conversation is compared with a ball game - I need to read up more on the racquet-related jargon. Although Wimbledon mania gets on my nerves, I have played tennis, and I had a quick glance at a website with a list of tennis terms. I wanted to show the battle of the sexes in terms of a game which Tom enjoys (for all we know, so does Diana, but it's his pov here) As you say, if that conceit exists mainly in my mind and not on the page at the moment the story needs some work. I only finished it a couple of days ago and it usually takes weeks or even months of tinkering before something comes right, so I'm happy to have your feedback.

I was wondering if it's the unattributed speeches that made it difficult for you to understand, or the fact that you didn't think the comparison was appropriate.


Cornelia at 12:48 on 22 January 2011  Report this post
It has indeed helped! Haha! I just didn't pay enough attention to what the tennis terms actually mean! I thought a volley was a hard shot. I do know you're supposed to let the ball bounce when receiving a service shot. You wouldn't believe I was once coached by a the leader of the national team! That will teach me to pay more attention and study the list of definitions that's readily available on webpages. Better hope I don't decide to write a golf story. Sorry, also thanks for the punctuation corrections


Bunbry at 10:58 on 23 January 2011  Report this post
This is a great idea for a story Sheila engaging and interesting with a satisfying ending. I think all the nits have been mentioned so vey good luck with the final draft!


Cornelia at 18:05 on 23 January 2011  Report this post
Thanks, Nick. I feel at least it's worth working on.

Euclid's blog was a good reminder not to bandy terms about with gay abandon. I should pay attention to their meaning. Oh dear, I've had an idea for Oonah's flash that relies on further specialist terms, so I hope I can get it right this time - a week's not really long enough to be overly- ambitious, I think.


crowspark at 12:50 on 24 January 2011  Report this post
Great flash, Sheila. Loved the adversarial treatment - tennis and infidelity.
Clever and effective.

Thanks for the read.


Cornelia at 13:35 on 24 January 2011  Report this post
Thanks, Bill. Glad you liked it.


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