Welcome to Hot Potato!
6 writers over 12 weeks, writing 1 short story
Today’s fourth fortnightly instalment, features writer Sam Grainger who is picking up the story where Shannon left off. You can find the first section of our short story here, the second section here and the third here.
He didn’t sleep the night he found the phone number. Hidden under bags of waste in a dumpster, he waited for the morning. It’d be safer then. Terrors moved through the streets at night; terrors even he couldn’t face.
He rolled the soggy piece of paper around in his mouth. Nothing would take it from him. He’d swallow it if he had to, if it came to that.
Images of Sara kept his eyes light, and his thoughts had a constant pulse. It had to be her. It had to be. She was alive. He knew she was. She was the solution. She was his absolution. She was the only hope left.
He’d begun to fear the worst after years of searching. But, in her old abandoned house he’d found it. It caught his eye in a most unlikely place.
The toilet bowl was dry and stained with murky lines. Unknown to him, just out of view, a piece of paper clung to the side of the basin. A small corner came loose from the trickle of his urine and curiosity had made him peel it away. It read:
New – 207 948 9882
The morning brought a twist in his gut. He climbed out from the dumpster and made his way to a bar at the end of the street. It was a risk that had to be taken.
The bar held a mist of smoke. The low-lifes vegetated; cigarettes hanging from their bottom lips, drinks resting between their fingers. Empty eyes rolled over him as he entered, and remained fixed. The bartender glanced up in tired recognition.
‘I need to use your phone,’ Winston said.
‘Look, I’ve told you alrea- ’
‘I need to use your phone.’
The bartender nodded towards the end of the bar. ‘You’ve got two minutes – no funny business.’
Winston took the sodden ball of paper from his mouth and dialled the number; a Maine area code. Why Maine? There was nothing left on the east coast; just wastelands. What was she doing in Maine? His bones vibrated painfully as he held the receiver.
It picked up.
‘Good afternoon, Sara’s Boutique Florists, how may I be of service today?’
It was her. That voice. It was Sara. The relief tasted of melted sugar in his throat. He broke into pieces and clutched the phone with two hands.
‘Sara? Christ, Sara, you’re alive. Fuck! Sara, it’s me, it’s Winston!’
‘Shit…’ the sound suddenly muffled on the other line, ‘Give me a sec, Jill, I’m sorry, it’s him again.’
‘Sara? Sara? I don’t belie – I don’t believe it. Sara, it’s me! It’s me, Winston. Where did you –. Where are you? I thought you were gone. I thought I’d lost you.’
There was no reply.
‘Winston, please don’t call this number again. I thought I made that clear to you last time. I don’t look after you anymore, Winston, I’m sorry. You’re not my responsibility. Please stop calling me. Goodbye.’
The phone clicked.
‘Hey!’ The bartender had moved to Winston’s side and ripped the phone from him, ‘Get out of my bar you maniac, I said no funny business. GET OUT.’
You can find more out about Sam here:
Sam’s text has been passed to the fifth potato Josh Kremer. Josh is now writing the fifth section which takes us towards the end of our story . Each potato is free to take the narrative wherever they like.
The next instalment of the short story will be on Monday 5th May where writer Jessica Cooke will be bring our story to its conclusion. Do come back and see where Jess takes us next! The writers are collectively and progressively taking up the structure of beginning, middle and end.
Tomorrow’s creativity on ArtiPeeps will focus on the last part of our Found Poetry Collaboration. A sad day, indeed!
As ever, thank you for your interest.
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