A Different Drum (Trifecta, January 2013)

I’ve recently come across the Trifecta weekly challenge.    The aim is to write a piece between 33 and 333 words, using the prompt from a Merriam Webster  dictionary definition.  This week’s one word prompt is ‘idle’

1: lacking worth or basis : vain <idle chatter> <idle pleasure>
2: not occupied or employed: as
a : having no employment : inactive <idle workers>
b : not turned to normal or appropriate use <idle farmland>
c : not scheduled to compete <the team will be idle tomorrow>
3: a : shiftless, lazy

If you don’t  ‘get’ (as they say) this piece, there’s a link at the end that might cast some light.

A Different Drum

It’s a cold Friday morning in January, mist is curling off the Thames and Jess sits on her blanket in her usual spot on the embankment, clad from head to toe in contrasting shades of her favourite colour – purple.

I stop, as I do every Friday to remind her there’ll be a bed and a hot meal at the hostel tonight if she wants it.  That’s my job, offering shelter, but I’d stop and talk to Jess even if it weren’t.  I remind her that she can take up the offer any time after 4.00pm.  The opening time is actually 5.00pm, but for Jess I’d make an exception.

She grins: “You after my body again Tom Collier?”

“It’s your soul I’m more interested in,” I say, returning the grin, “but after a good wash who knows which way the wind will blow?”

Her laugh is harsh, cackling, and passers-by turn in curiosity, quickly superseded with distaste.

To the casual eye, Jess is just another idle scrounger, another blot on the London landscape, but I know Jess dances to the beat of a different drum.

Intrigued as to why she appears here one day a week, and why she never takes up the offer of a bed, I followed her one Friday when she left her patch.  I saw her dump the day’s taking into the upturned hat of an old man playing a violin near the park and then followed as she ambled towards the tube station, running her stick along the railings as she went.  Shortly after, she arrived at her destination, a small warden-controlled apartment for the elderly.

Something has pricked my memory, something I read somewhere.  So I get on the internet and search.

Today I’m clutching a red knitted hat that used to belong to my mother, and I offer it to her.

“Thought you might like this,” I say, “it doesn’t go, though it’ll keep your ears warm.”

I wink, and we exchange a glance of mutual understanding.

About Sandra

I used to cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and wrote fiction and poetry. Now I live on the beautiful Dorset coast, enjoying the luxury of being able to have a cat, cultivating an extensive garden and getting involved in the community. I still write fiction, but only when the spirit moves me - which isn't as often as before. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
This entry was posted in By the Way ..., Just Sayin' and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to A Different Drum (Trifecta, January 2013)

  1. jwilliams057 says:

    Lovely. Just perfectly lovely.


  2. sue Cottrill says:

    I sort off did but yet didn’t, I will take a look at the link


  3. yerpirate says:

    Very clever! I loved the way you drew us in – and when I saw ‘purple’ I had a quick thought..aha! And yes! Very well done indeed!


  4. AR Neal says:

    I like it–I felt I was walking along and eavesdropping on the conversation 🙂


  5. deanabo says:

    I enjoyed this.


  6. awriterweavesatale says:

    loved this. Works well as flash fiction!


  7. Sandra says:

    Thanks, glad you liked it.


  8. Annabelle says:

    That’s charming; great read.


  9. atrm61 says:

    Am not sure I know for I am from India but does it by chance have anything to do with red hat ladies/society?While playing some designing games,I was introduced to this concept,a few months back.All the same,I can sense a very warm vibe in this piece-I particularly liked that “Jess danced to a different drum beat” & the last line:-)


  10. Patti says:

    You write very well, with a “voice” that rigs true and natural. I’d love to know more about Jess. Well done, Sandra.


  11. I really enjoyed this piece!


  12. stephanie says:

    I know and love that poem… this is a lovely tribute. Well drawn scene – nice writing.


  13. Draug419 says:

    Very cute (:


  14. muZer says:

    Enjoyed reading your take on the prompt. Especially their conversation. So cute..


  15. jannatwrites says:

    I wasn’t familiar with the poem so I clicked the link. I didn’t realize she was ‘old’ until the part about the elderly apartments. I pictured them both as younger, but with her being elderly, it makes the exchange about wanting her body even funnier 🙂 Speaking of the dialogue, it felt natural and not forced at all – I really enjoyed reading this one!


  16. Tina says:

    Haha! I love this–especially the red hat at the end. Brilliantly done!


  17. barbara says:

    I knew to what you referred, but had to take a listen anyway. I do love Helena’s way of telling the poem. Thank you for sharing.


  18. Sandra says:

    She has such beautifully clipped tones, doesn’t she? I’m pleased to have raised the profile of such a nice poem.


  19. Lance says:

    excellent dialogue. congratulations on the silver medal. it’s much deserved.


  20. AR Neal says:

    Congrat’s on the third place over at Trifecta with this one!


  21. Wow! Nicely done. I haven’t read this poem in years, but have always loved it. Your homage is truly lovely.


  22. cshowers says:

    I’m late in reading this, but I just had to tell you how lovely your story was. What a beautiful tribute to the woman in purple. 🙂 I’m not old, but I like to wear anything purple, and red too. 😉 You certainly have a wonderful gift. Thanks for sharing.

    Many blessings,


  23. It does make sense after hearing the poem! Sorry for trawling your blog and leaving comments all over.


I'd love to hear your views; it reassures me I'm not talking to myself.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.