“Town Crier”

by Ash on February 11, 2011

This week’s Red Writing Hood Prompt: write a piece that begins with the line, “I could never have imagined” and ends with the line, “Then the whole world shifted.” We’re going to stick with the 600-word limit this week.

Oy. And because I’m totally into S&M, bring on the heavy critique. Honest. Both guns. I can take it.

I think.

“Town Crier”

“I could never have imagined” – these are the words whispered in the air around me, delivered with feigned surprise and hint of smirk.

Damn hypocrites. All of them. Darlene West, head of the PTA and local busybodies, being the biggest one of all. I’ve seen that woman sneak down more than a few full plastic tumblers at any given playdate, then pile her kids into the minivan in order to make it home with just enough time to sober up and present a perfectly balanced meal to Bud, her high-school sweetheart turned husband. The husband who also happens to constitute fifty percent of the local law enforcement.

Lucky me, Bud was getting his protect and serve on when I sped past him during my less-than-one-mile drive home after meeting up with a couple of other local misfits for a girls night out at the Donkey Tonk Bar & Grill. I blew a .7 and ended up with a citation and an escort to my front door. Before I could even try to joke about it with my husband Drew, an old-fashioned game of telephone spread faster than a two-bit hooker through our four-square-mile town. My favorite rumor of the bunch was that I offered to blow something other than the breathalyzer to get out of the traffic stop.

Pretty sure that one came straight from Darlene.

It’s difficult even for me to believe that moving to this den of vipers was my idea. After six years of juggling a career while taking care of our two daughters mostly on my own as Drew taught and finally finished his MBA, I figured a nice step back to a quiet place with fresh air and green space is what we all needed. Me most of all. Throw in an elementary school vice principal position opening a couple towns over and an on-call babysitting option thanks to my beloved in-laws, I practically begged Drew to interview.

He got the job, I quit mine, and we were settled in his hometown a month later. I then went about trying to carve a place for myself within this tight-knit community. Fast forward a year, and I’m still “Andrew’s wife, Charlotte.”

Well really, thanks to my recent run in with Deputy Dawg, I’m now “Poor Andrew’s irresponsible wife, Charlotte.”

I’ve never let the chatter bother me though. In hindsight, I was too busy being smug in the knowledge that those bloodhounds might be sniffing around my story, but the truth would always stay hidden, safe and sound. Safe, that is, until that one rainy Saturday afternoon when I snuck out to get a mani/pedi at Daisy’s. While I was deciding between Pinking-of You and Friar Friar Pants on Fire!, Drew was entertaining with a little hide-n-seek. Regrettably, he found more than just giggling little girls hidden deep within my closet.

Then the whole world shifted.

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

joann mannix February 11, 2011 at 9:58 am

I’ve got nothin’.

And I’m the first one to point out the weak spots because I know how much I appreciate that, (as you well know).

The voice was superb. So different from anything I’ve heard from you yet. I really am blown away by the woman you captured, just in the voice alone.

And OMG! What? What? What the freak was in that closet? Incredible drop off point, there, so riveting and suspenseful.

You done good, Mama. I’m laying my hands upon the screen, so that your stellar writing mojo rubs off on me.


Amy February 11, 2011 at 10:05 am

Damn 600 word limit. I need to know whats in the closet!!!!!


Theresa Sonoda February 11, 2011 at 10:06 am

I read this earlier this morning…..in fact, three times…..because I thought I had missed the oh-so-vital whatever in the closet. So I just came back and read Joan’s comment and now I get it. I feel so stupid. I was engrossed in your story. You always do that to me, anyway, so this is no exception. Only it is! This one had more. And now that my think brain realized I’m not supposed to know what’s in the closet……….I’m sold sister!


Christina February 11, 2011 at 10:25 am

This is great! You are very talented!

Thank you for taking the time to read mine. Although it’s NOTHING in comparison to your amazing talent (and I’m sure the amazing talent of the other link-ups) it felt freeing to get some of my story out. (Oops, I didn’t realize there was a 600 word limit! :))

And yes, the story has a VERY happy ending! 🙂


Alexandra February 11, 2011 at 10:29 am

It’s no secret that I think you are gifted as a writer.

This just proves my point even further.

What I am wondering, is how far you’d go with no word limit?

You know? Like, having one of those boards up with the sticky notes with the characters and scenes on it that you can move around.


Swizz February 11, 2011 at 10:41 am

You cannot leave us hanging like this! PLEASE, please put us out of our misery and do a reveal. :o)

I’m waiting for you to write a novel so one day I can say I knew you when…


The Drama Mama February 11, 2011 at 10:41 am

I too love this voice. This woman you have created here, I really like her, just from this short bit about her. I want to know what’s in that freaking closet so badly!!

I think my favorite was “getting his protect and serve on”. I think those few little words set me in that time and place perfectly. I love the classic sheriff’s wife with the drinking problem, and I love that it was for drinking in which Charlotte gets in trouble. So much irony, so well written!


Victoria KP February 11, 2011 at 11:22 am

The voice is fantastic. I would love to have a couple of beers with this woman and let her vent about the busy bodies!


(Florida) Girl with a New Life February 11, 2011 at 11:34 am

Hello cliffhanger. You already know how much I enjoy your writing voice.

The only critique I could offer is to give me more clues about what is unfolding so I can guess what is in her closet.

Stopping by from trdc.


Elaine February 11, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Whadhe find, WHAT DID HE FIND?!?! I wanna know so send me the rest of the story STAT, K?!?!

Excellent. But the suspense is mildly annoying… ;P


Yuliya February 11, 2011 at 2:23 pm


AAAAAGH, I am the nosiest person ever, I must must know what was in that closet, please please tell me!!!

Spread faster than a two-bit hooker…fantastic!


tulpen February 11, 2011 at 2:35 pm

I had to go back and scan it again to see if I missed a clue as to what the frak was in the closet!!


J February 11, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Can we guess what was in the closet? I am going with S&M toys… but that could be because you mentioned it in the beginning. (and I am a bit twisted that way).
Nice job of tying in that those of us who move always seem to be known as “so and so’s ” wife. Not that I mind, my husband is hot and I would rather that than “so and so’s ” mom. ;0)



Shell February 11, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Damn, girl. You have talent!

I want more, more, more.

You hit me right in the gut with Andrew’s wife, Charlotte.

J’s wife, Shell


Cathy Webster February 11, 2011 at 4:12 pm

I’m kinda hoping it’s that bitch Darlene in the closet; maybe with her tin-starred ranger in there with her. Damn social climbers. Damn good story!


Cheryl @ Mommypants February 11, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Well, Miss Sassypants! I love the voice! “Spread faster than a two-bit hooker.” HA!

I really like the sarcastic tone. You really nailed it. Plus the names of the polish – perfection!

Now about that closet…???


Melanie February 11, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Woooww!! Nice cliffhanger. I need a Part 2 because I too am dying to know what was in the closet! Nice writing.


kludgymom February 11, 2011 at 8:52 pm

I agree with everyone else. I like this character and the voice and the style. Keep it going. Build on it!

Mostly because I want to know what happens!


Rachel February 11, 2011 at 9:07 pm

What’s in the freakin’ closet? Pretty sure I won’t be able to sleep because I’ll be too busy reading and re-reding your story to see if there are any clues as to what was found. Fantastic story. Strong voice. Great, fleshed out character. All in under 600 words. You amaze me.


Kelly February 11, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Great story! Love the voice but what is in the closet?!


Mandyland February 11, 2011 at 10:46 pm

What? What did he find?

Seriously. You can reply to my comment and tell me. WHAT. DID. HE. FIND?? (And yes. I’m yelling at you. I can’t handle suspense. I look up the ending to movies on wikkipedia. Have pity.)

I have no criticism unless it’s leaving me hanging. This was awesome.

My favorite line was the “faster than a two bit hooker”. Classic.


Amanda Hoving February 12, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Hi Ash — trying to visit some of the Red Dress crew today. Loved, loved, loved the voice here.


Mad Woman behind the Blog February 12, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Girl, you nailed it! The voice, the characters, the character of a small town and of course the suspense.
And yeah, if you want to send me a personal note to let me in on the big secret, I won’t tell a soul.


Renee February 12, 2011 at 4:22 pm

I like this woman!
And I want to know her better.
And I want to know that closet!!

Well written, I like the attitude you created for “Charlotte”.


Katie February 12, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Like everyone else, I read this a few times looking for a closet clue.

damn you.

just kidding, but you show don’t tell like whoa.

i love that you even got the OPI colors. awesome.


Lydia February 12, 2011 at 8:38 pm

This is awesome- the best thing about it is that I feel like I know this women! Except for what was in tht closet- now I kinda need to know that too. Great job.


Nancy C February 13, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Ash, you have the strongest sense of voice. It’s totally unique and funny and sarcastic and poignant. You stand out, because you’re trying to be you, not somebody else.

I admire it. I love it. Keep this character’s story going.


Amanda February 14, 2011 at 1:06 pm

I reread it several times too!

This is going to drive me crazy.

Your next post should be challenging other people to write about what was found in the closet.


erin margolin February 14, 2011 at 5:02 pm


i’m blown away by this…the character here is so fine-tuned. i can appreciate everything about her in all the tiny details. you never cease to amaze me with your writing. i don’t really have any critiques. i just want to be able to write like you. effortlessly.


deb February 14, 2011 at 5:15 pm

love it. love you. there’s nothing for us to critique except your incessant humility! you’ve got the gift.

miss you.


CDG February 19, 2011 at 8:10 am

Ash, how did I miss this last week?
Bad me!

This is crystal clear to me, like a film, the small town, the OPI colors, the Deputy Dawg and his alcoholic PTA wife…

And having come back here from the next one?

What a thing Drew discovered, huh?

Love it.


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