Another writing exercise from the Neil Gaiman The Art of Storytelling Masterclass. The prompt I selected was ‘Two old women sitting together knitting on a park bench.” Beyond grammar checking and a light polish, this is what my brain came up with.
Knit one, Purl One is after the break
Knit one, Purl One
a short story
The clicking of metal against metal lulled the senses as Elizabeth Graves, and Sandra Oakley sat quietly side-by-side knitting mitred squares. The squares, pink and white for Elizabeth, and grey and purple for Sandra would be delivered to the knitting circle on Wednesday. Once there, they’d be assembled into Afghan Blankets for the local cancer charity.
Elizbeth cleared her throat and lowered her needles. Pools of pink yarn forming geometric puddles on her lap.
“You know, dear,” she said. “It’s important to keep your tension accurate. Otherwise, Annie won’t be able to use your squares. They’ll be the wrong size.”
“Hmm,” Sandra replied, reaching for the travel safe coffee mug sitting beside her on the park bench. Taking a sip, she smiled a slight, thin-lipped smile and continued knitting.
“Elizabeth, how is Harold these days,” Sandra asked eventually. “Still snoring by 9?”
“Yes, dear,” Elizabeth said as the clicking of her knitting needles picked up speed. “He works so hard the poor love.”
“I imagine his days and nights are equally hard, Liz,” Sandra said with a quick smirk.
Elizabeth grimaced at the disliked shortening of her first name. Sliding her finger between the pink and white yarn, she deftly swapped colours beginning a white section on her square.
“Well he’s a much harder worker than your Bertie, of course,” Elizabeth said with as much light-hearted venom as possible. “I’ve never understood what you see in him.”
“We both know you’ve seen why I keep him around,” Sandra said as she struggled to keep her tone light. “It didn’t take long for you to throw your bloomers at him if memory serves me correctly.”
“Sandra, my dear,” Elizabeth said with the prim and proper tone of an English Private School librarian. “There is no need to be vulgar. It wasn’t me throwing my undergarments at another woman’s husband as you well know.”
Sandra turned and glared at the side of Elizabeth’s head. Elizabeth continued to stare out at the expanse of lush green lawn.
“Of course, dear, once a stripper, always a stripper, so they say. Even when you’re at the point of tucking your tits into your socks to keep them warm and dry, I suppose.”
Sandra stood up quickly. Her knitting dropped to the ground. Turning on her heel to face Elizabeth, she delivered an open-handed slap to the other woman’s face.
“Don’t be a bitch,” she snarled.
Turning her back to Elizabeth, Sandra bent down to pick up her fallen knitting. Shoving it into her canvas tote, Sandra straightened up and smoothed down a fly-away strand of hair.
Elizabeth smiled, quickly looping a strand of pink yarn into a noose. With a deft hand, she threw it over Sandra’s head and quickly pulled it tight. Sandra gasped as the yarn tightened, her hands clawing ineffectually at it in an attempt to relieve the pressure.
Elizabeth spun around and used her own body to lever Sandra off her feet. Sandra reached down, trying to pound on Elizabeth to break free. Her face turned a deep shade of scarlet as the yarn dug in.
“Excuse me, Mrs Graves,” Eloise Montgomery said as she approached the two women. “I’m sorry to disturb you. Timothy Johnson has swallowed a whole vial of Duckwort’s Poisonous Elixir, and we can’t find the antidote. His frothing at the mouth and his feet are turning blue.”
“Oh bother,” Elizabeth huffed as she stood up straight, dumping Sandra into an inelegant heap on the floor. “How many times do we have to tell you not to poison each other. Sandra, get up. You have the key to the antidote locker in your pocket.”
Sandra dragged herself to her feet and swallowed against the burning pain in her throat. Shoving her hand into her pocket, she retrieved the boring looking brass key and handed it to Elizabeth.
“Eloise, come along,” Elizabeth snapped. “Detention for all of you, it’s the only way to get it through your heads. Oh, do come along child,” Elizabeth clicked her fingers and set off across the lawns to the main building of the Dallensford Assassins Guild.”
Sandra slumped down on the park bench and gingerly rubbed at her neck. She grimaced as she touched the welt rising across her throat. With a sigh, Sandra reached down and slid her hand into her canvas knitting bag. Her fingernails dragged across the bottom seam, finding a well-hidden zipper.
Reaching across, Sandra grabbed Elizabeth’s coffee cup. A glance around confirmed she was alone, and she quickly removed the lid. From the hidden compartment in her tote, Sandra withdrew a thin, blue vial. Removing the cork stopper, she held the vial over the coffee and watched as three thick blue drops disappeared beneath the milky surface.
Sandra studied the coffee for a few more seconds before upending the vial over the cup and draining its contents. With a cold smile, Sandra resealed the vial, and put the lid back on the coffee.
Standing up, she flung her bag over her shoulder and walked towards the Guild school.
“Enjoy your coffee, Headmistress,” Sandra said with a laugh as she climbed the stone stairs at the front of the building.