The Next Scene by Deborah Shrimplin

When Kaye noticed her brain was struggling to remember the most basic nouns (she was told this happens to most seniors) she decided to take up writing. Writing was supposed to be good for her senior brain.

Last night, Kaye had written the first few scenes of a story she thought had wonderful potential. This morning she is sitting at her computer rereading it. She questions, “What would happen next?”

Born in Fire

I was born in the fire of a kiln in a glass factory on the Venetian Island of Murano. My creator, Angelo, breathed life into me. He twisted, turned and pinched at my hot malleable substance until I was the shape of a small, cobalt blue perfume bottle. When I felt the cool air, I began to harden. When cool to the touch, I was placed among others of my kind on a shelf in the factory store.

One day, a shopkeeper, Mateo, purchased me. He carried me to a jewelry shop on the Ponte Vecchio, entered and spoke to the jeweler.

“I’d like silver filigree strands attached to the bottle’s edges,” Mateo instructed.

The jeweler, having noticed Mateo’s amulet, replied nervously, “Yes, I can do that.”

“And this ruby is to be placed on one side,” Mateo said as he pulled a deep, red ruby out of his pocket.

“That is possible too,” the jeweler said as he stared at the size and beauty of the ruby. “A splendid adornment!”

“I am sure your work will not disappoint,” Mateo said.

“I am sure you will be pleased with my work. I am aware of your personal powers and I have no intention of deceiving you. It will be ready for you in three days time.”

Mateo negotiated a fee, turned around and exited the shop.

The jeweler was true to his word. After attaching the silver filigree, he mounted the ruby to my side. When the ruby touched me, I felt a strange, warm sensation. It was not the warmth of the kiln’s fire but something mysterious.

As planned, Mateo returned to the shop, approved the jeweler’s work and wrapped me in a piece of white linen. He carried me to the backroom in his “Shop of Curiosities” near San Marco Square. He filled me with a liquid that intensified the warm, strange feeling of the ruby. Then, he placed me on a shelf in the far corner of his shop.

Kaye likes the story so far. She admits it reads like the “first rough draft” and needs some editing. She rereads at the last line. What could happen next?  A few ideas cross the synapses in her tired brain.

Idea #1….Make the time period during the Napoleonic wars. A general buys the perfume bottle. He takes it to his married lover. She refuses to leave her husband for him. He throws the bottle in the fireplace.

Kaye puzzles over it. Hmmm…the bottle would be born in fire and dies in fire. Too predictable.

Idea#2….The shop owner’s friend is a famous painter who has to choose between two lovers. Matteo tells him to ask each lover to touch the bottle. If the ruby glows like a candle in a chapel, then she is the true lover.

Kaye doesn’t know how to write a good romance story and tosses this idea.

Idea #3…Two hundred years after the bottle is created, it ends up in a garage sale. A woman buys it. She takes it to a friend who writes fiction. The friend writes a novel based on the bottle’s journey through time. The novel is rewritten into a movie.

Kaye giggles. How far fetched is that plot? Nope, reject.

Idea #4….. During the age of exploration of the new world, a sea captain purchases the perfume bottle. He travels the high seas. When the captain gives the bottle to a gorgeous native girl on some exotic island, she tells him that strands of seashells represent forever love not glass trinkets. She throws it in the ocean.

Kaye has visions of describing the sea voyage, the exotic girl and the island. She decides that would mean too much time searching for just the right word in her 1200 page  Thesaurus.

Idea #5….It is New Years 2999 when an alien from the planet Ityou beams into the shop disguised as a rich tech bizillionaire. The alien takes the bottle to his home planet and opens the bottle. The liquid evaporates and neutralizes all the negative thoughts between the warring tribes and peace rules forever.

Kaye likes the peaceful ending but sci-fi is hard to pull off. She’d have to invent weird names for the characters and places.

Idea #6….The shopkeeper gives the bottle to his six year old niece. She carries the bottle into the forest. When she opens the bottle, fairies escape and take the girl to a fairyland. She’s given a magic wand. When she returns home, no one believes her story. She waves the wand and everyone believes  her magic story.

Kaye doesn’t believe in magical things. How would she explain the magic?

Now Kaye’s senior brain is totally confused. She has reasons to reject all six ideas. She could select one and just “go for it”. No one is going to read her story anyway.

Kaye’s little calico cat, Sophie, rubs her legs. It’s a sign she wants her treat. Kaye gets up from the desk, walks into the kitchen and  gives Sophie her chicken-licken treat. Kaye puts on a fresh pot of coffee, waits blurry brained, and ponders the potential story plots. She wonders how real writers do it.

Kaye pours her coffee into her favorite cup and walks back to her study. When she enters, she stops dead in her tracks and nearly spills her coffee. On the desk next to her computer is a cobalt blue perfume bottle with a red ruby on its side. The ruby is glowing like a candle in a chapel.

Deborah Shrimplin is a retired reading specialist living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. When she was told that writing is good for the senior brain, she tried her hand at flash fiction. Her stories have appeared in The Mythic Circle, Bewildering Stories, 365 Tomorrows, 101 Words and Grande Dame Literary.