A cinema. It appears in black and white, slightly run down.

Short Story Challenge Week 39: Beverly Huddled In A Blanket

Continuing with a theme of slightly-borrowed inspiration. Although where it’s come from this time is a doozy.

So, for the last 39 weeks I’ve been writing a short story every week, as part of a year long challenge. Well, except for this week, where for structural and life reasons I’ve written three. But it just means I’m back on track again.

Want to catch up on the other 38? You can find the full archive here.

Once again I’m using a random line from a random page of a random novel plucked from my bookshelf as the story inspiration. This time, I promise you it isn’t a Famous Five book. Would I lie to you?

Bonus prize if you guess what the book is before scrolling to the bottom to find out. No cheating. No prizes anyway, but still, no cheating.

Also, this one isn’t the happiest tale. Just so you know.

Also so you know, this isn’t my first year-long challenge. The first led to an eBook, called Fifty Two, so if you enjoy this tale, why not do me a solid favour and buy a copy?

Buy Fifty Two through Amazon for your Kindle e-reader here.

Buy Fifty Two through Apple for your iPad or iOS devices/Macs here.

Buy Fifty Two through Smashwords for any other e-reader format here.

If you’re more of a long fiction reader — and especially one who likes B-Movies about Australian secret agents featuring way more exploding sharks than any other novel* then I’ve got just the book for you:

Buy Sharksplosion for Amazon Kindle

Buy Sharksplosion for iBooks (iPhone, iPad, etc)

Buy Sharksplosion for all other e-readers through Smashwords

*Nobody has yet challenged me on this claim. It seems most likely nobody will.

And now, on with…

Beverly huddled in a blanket

A cinema. It appears in black and white, slightly run down.

Beverly huddled in a blanket in the entrance way of the long-abandoned cinema. The snow whipped through the air and around the faded remnants of movie posters, filling the mostly broken frames as it fell.

Sometimes, Beverly knew, the doors were left open. Not as a kindness to people like her, but simply because one developer or another had gotten hold of the keys and taken a look at the place, but forgotten to lock up when they were leaving.

Nobody ever developed the old cinema into anything, so decades after the last film had been seen there, it endured as an empty shell.

The doors being unlocked was great at times like this, because even though the seating was gone, indoors was warmer and drier than outdoors in winter.

You had to be careful when it was unlocked, though, because eventually the security people would come around and kick everyone sleeping in there out.

Beverly was always careful not to damage anything, so the few times she had been thrown out, the police didn’t get involved. Beverly did not like sleeping rough, but she knew she would not survive another night in prison.

As a child, her mumma had taken her there just the once, to see a film about.. .what was it about?

Beverly could remember the sounds of the cinema – the people around them crunching on the popcorn that mumma had said they couldn’t afford – and the smells of the seats and carpet, but she couldn’t remember much about the actual movie.

Something about an alien and a bicycle, but beyond that her memory was foggy on the particulars.

Mumma had liked watching movies on the tiny black and white TV set that lived on the end of the kitchen bench in the tiny caravan that they lived in for so many years.

That TV would blare through the night while Beverly tried to sleep with endless actors speaking slightly too loudly because Mumma’s hearing wasn’t so good.

The voices were OK, Beverly could ignore those, but she always got cranky if Mumma was watching a movie with a lot of guns in it. The bang bang bang of the guns always woke her up, which meant she’d be tired and grumpy the next day.

Then one day, the TV just died, and Mumma cried a lot that day.

Beverly went out to get away from the sobbing with… was it Amanda? No, it was probably Keith around that time, she remembered.

When she got back, Mumma was gone, and the man from the caravan park wanted a whole lot of money for unpaid rent. That, or “other favours” as he put it. By then, Beverly was old enough to know what “other favours” meant.

She packed her few clothes into a garbage bad and headed around to Keith’s, only to find Amanda already there. Beverly won that fight, but lost Keith in the process, as well an earring, and that meant her hopes of staying with him that night were gone.

That was the first night she slept on the streets, so many years ago. The cinema was still a working business at the time, so she’d slept rough under the bridge in the park, at least until the police came.

Life was like that, Beverly realised that day. Hard and cold and unfeeling, just like the concrete beneath her, with only small comforts like the blanket to hold onto.

Still, she often returned to the cinema at night to rest. Not because of the movies. Movies had been Mumma’s thing, not Beverly’s.

The cinema front had a wide entranceway that made it easy to lie down in front of and sleep, where so many businesses had motion lights and cameras, or too many prying eyes that would call the police to take Beverly away. Again.

Nobody went to the cinema now it was shut down, so it was usually quiet, and a fine place for Beverly to rest her head.

At least, when it wasn’t snowing like it was tonight. Then all Beverly could do was huddle in her blanket, and shiver, and sing to herself to stay awake. Sing the songs that existed only in her head, only for her, letting her know that it would be alright once the morning came.

Fall asleep in the winter, she knew, and she might never wake up at all.

The novel in question this time? The paperback movie novelisation of Howard The Duck 1st edition (I doubt there was a 2nd, really), 1986 page 87. Yes, I own some truly odd books – and this one I’ve owned from when it was new!

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