Step on a Crack

[Fiction] Friday Challenge #162 for July 2nd, 2010

Write about a man with an impossibly bad streak of luck on his birthdays, who, as his 40th birthday approaches, is scared of what might happen.

In the darkness Geoff watched the red dots between the digital numbers blink, blink, blink.  He stared and waited as 11:59 finally dissolved into 12:00.

“Happy birthday to me,” he said.  He rolled away from the bedside table and looked at the silhouette of his wife.  She snuffled quietly, hiccuped and resettled.  He slept the curse of the insomniac.  Fidgeting with the covers he tried to make himself comfortable.

“What’s the matter, darling?” Fiona mumbled.

“Nothing.  Just can’t sleep.”

“Are you worried about something?”

“No, not really.  Well, yes, actually.  I hate my birthday.”

Fiona focused on the emerging conversation.  “I know you’re turning 40, but it’s something to celebrate, isn’t it?  I mean, the kids and I are looking forward to giving you the guitar you wanted.”
In the darkness, Geoff smiled at the 1967 Fender Stratocaster reissue in tobacco sunburst colour on lay-by.

“I know.  It’s just that my birthdays are cursed.  If I’d lived in ancient Greece the Delphic Oracle would have run away screaming if I’d shown up and asked for a prediction of my future.”

“They’re not all cursed.”

“Yes they are.  Remember my thirtieth?  I still don’t know how that cow managed to get up three flights of stairs.  And then on my thirty-third birthday, there was that unfortunate incident with the prawn salad.  Aunt Beryl still hasn’t forgiven me for the rash she had for three weeks.  And the thing that started it all off was my twenty-first when my idiot mates hired a stripper and she twisted an ankle after slipping on someone’s dropped beer.”

“None of that was your fault.”

“Yeah, but it all happened during my birthday celebrations.  So you can see that the idea of turning forty involves a great deal of trepidation and causes brown underpants.”

“Aren’t you being a little melodramatic?”

“Am I?  There is always something that happens on my birthday that makes it socially awkward and everyone points and laughs.”

Fiona sighed and cuddled into her husband feeling the tension in his chest.  Absent-mindedly Geoff stroked the curve of his wife’s back.  His breathing eased and his muscles relaxed into slumber.

The warning siren of the alarm sounded and Geoff raised a reluctant hand to begin the inevitable.

“Well, I’d better get up and face this day.”

14 responses to “Step on a Crack

  1. This piece feels like more of an extract from a longer body of work as I could not find an appropriate resolution. No doubt as I read others’ work I will see all the possibilities that I missed.
    That being said, I like the dialogue and wanted to work in a bit of humour, creating that language that couples use when no one else is around.
    Well, it is “blood on the page” so to speak. Make of it what you will.

  2. You’re definitely right, this is part of a longer piece. I was disappointed when it ended, can’t you work on it a little more??

    I like the way you hint at what happened on some of the previous birthdays, but don’t go into detail. I also like the underpants line 🙂

  3. This was funny and well written. Thanks for posting!

  4. laurarachelfox

    A great little snippet. You’ve left room for expansion. I like how the piece ends with the feeling that life will continue for your characters. I also like your portrayal of the relationship between husband and wife: “Fiona sighed and cuddled into her husband feeling the tension in his chest.” This line in particular envelops a long, knowing relationship between the two.

  5. My favorite line was “the warning siren of the alarm…” That was quite good. I, too, like the dialogue; overall well-written. I think it’s a good hook to a larger story, because now we all can’t wait to find out what happened.

  6. I even struggled for a title this week. Normally the title is the first thing I think of, but this week was a tough one. I almost didn’t post this week as I felt this was just not working, but something is better than nothing.

  7. The stripper had me laughing. My favorite part.

  8. I liked it. Dialogue conveyed his feelings of inevitability. It definitely makes me want to read what happens next – just to see if his fears are realized.

  9. I’m hoping that he’s getting out of bed for a sequel to the cow episode!I think you captured well the soft reassuring pillow talk of partners in the early hours. Cheers.

  10. A cow on the third floor? Wow, I’d love to hear the story behind that! This poor guy – makes you wonder what could possibly happen for the fortieth. Maybe he should just stay in bed.

  11. I like the hints of previous stories, and I’d particularly want to know if the stripper who slipped somehow cursed him…I definitely think this is something you could expand, because I just know whatever you’d write would be ace!

  12. a great little snap shot into this poor guys life. yep – what a way to start the 40th – with alarm bells and sirens..
    conversation flowed naturally.
    visitors can see mine on

  13. I like the way the conversation between the couple radiates reassurance.

  14. Great dialogue. I am intrigued about the cow incident. Even though the end was left hanging, I think it was still appropiate because it stirred the readers imagination and sympathy. “Well, I’d better get up and face this day.” (Let’s get this over with)
    Good read!

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