Writing: Averting a Serious Accident

I do writing exercises with my writing circle – sometimes an exercise we found on the internet, or sometimes something we made up ourselves.

I haven’t edited this one at all but thought it was quite fun!

Our prompts were plaques from  The Memorial to Humble Sacrifice in Postman’s Park – I’ve never visited but would like to now that I’ve heard about it.

My plaque is below.

Will couldn’t believe it. There she was in her finery, in the driving seat of a small cab led by two horses, one black and one dun. Incongruous. To see a lady like that, up front with the reins in hand, was shocking enough. The fact she was wearing three string of pearls and a black feather that rose from a jewel on her forehead and wilted and puffed with each jolt of the carriage made the sight almost unbelievable.

But that was just like Miss Jane Edmonton. She was never one to do what others expected. In fact, she liked to surprise them, he’d known that from the very first time he’d met her crossing Grosvenor Square, when within moments of being introduced she’d lifted the gingham cloth covering her basket to reveal not one but two tiny little pink piglets snuggled there. Roly and Poly she’d called them, as she’d told him with a wry curl of her lips.

Since that day on he’d been hooked. Looked for her everywhere he went. Sometimes he’d see a flash of red hair and his heart would start beating more quickly, until the girl turned around and it was just an ordinary one. But not today. Fiery copper locks, black feather waving in the breeze, pearls and jewels and riding crop in hand. It was her.

“Jane!” he called out. He saw her twitch, but he couldn’t tell from his slightly distant vantage point if she’d heard or was just adjusting the rig. The horses kept their pace. “Jane!” he called again.

This time she turned her head, back over her right shoulder toward him. But instead of smiling she frowned. She’d done this increasingly of late, when she saw him. The first couple of times she’d been pleased; asked him how-did-he-do and whether he thought it might rain later on. The next few times she’d looked puzzled, as if surprised two people could bump into each other so often in such a large city (it was true, it was uncommon or in fact near impossible if one wasn’t setting out to make it happen). This time the frown was the strongest yet. She looked ahead again immediately, flicked the reins, and across the breeze he could hear her clicking the horses on.

“Miss Edmonton, wait, I want to speak to you!” he called. He started running. Why was she moving away from him? They were friends – weren’t they? She had just been playing shy to be proper – hadn’t she?

He started to close in on the horses, who were still only at a gentle trot. He was shouting louder now, and she looked back at him with alarm. “Go away,” she said, and he couldn’t believe his ears. “Leave me alone.”

Suddenly he understood all her odd ways. She wasn’t eccentric and interesting, she was mad. Absolutely lunatic, her moods changing like the flip of a coin. That was the only explanation for it. And now she was picking up speed with the horses, putting herself at risk. That wouldn’t do at all. She might be mad, but she was still a lady. It was down to Will to save her.

“Stop – you’ll hurt yourself!” he called, and as he drew level with dun horse he tried to grab at its bridle. The horse reared up, letting forth a great neigh like the roar of the lion Will had seen at Regent’s Park.

“Stop it!” shrieked Jane. “Just leave me alone. I can sort it out. You’re scaring them.”

She was delirious, Will could see that. That was the only explanation for it. Her life was at risk and he was the only one who could save her, he was sure of it. The horses were struggling even more now, thrashing about in two different directions, the cab starting to career out of control. Jane let out a shriek. Emboldened, Will leapt for the horse. He’d save the day.

He grabbed the bridle, swung himself up onto the horse, and then started to lean over to grab the other one too. “It’s ok boy, calm down,” he said. But his climbing aboard seemed to have the opposite effect. The horses were friskier than ever, and picking up pace. Pedestrians shrieked, running to the side of the path. He looked over at Jane and saw fire in her eyes. She was seething, he could see that, hysterical, even. A woman in need of help. His heart when out to her. Even in this crazed state, she was beautiful. A curl had loosened itself from her bun and fallen round her face, where its copper silk caressed her china-white cheek.

“For goodness’ sake,” she said, beautiful in her breathlessness. “Just get off them and I’ll calm them down in no time.”

She didn’t know what she was saying – delusional. He’d seen it before, in other women. They were all the same.

The horses were drawing apart from each other now. He tried desperately to keep hold of the black one, but he was already bareback riding and it was hard to keep his balance. “Calm,” he said, but they didn’t seem to listen.

And then the black horse jolted to the left. His clammy hand slipped from the bridle as he fell to the ground. He heard a shriek from above as the pitiful Miss Edmonton witnessed her hero smited. The last thing he saw was the frenzied hoof coming at him from somewhere near the sky.