Here's the weekly challenge from CleanPlace.net:
The names you choose for your characters can say a lot about them. A name can even be a jumping-off point to create a character. This is a fun, short exercise to show you how changing a name can change the story.
Finish four shorts stories, not to exceed 500 words total. Begin each story with "The plaid shirt..." and name each character for each story as follows: Ashley, Fanny, Tab, and Maurice.
Four Tales About Plaid Shirts
Word Count: 129
The plaid shirt hung from the girl’s shoulders like wraiths’ clothes. Ashley held the long sleeves around her, long enough to tie around her back. She didn’t care how ridiculous she looked, huddled with her knees to her chin, sitting on the front porch for all to see as they drove down the street and pulled into their garages. The neighbors looked the other direction when they saw her, moving on with their lives like nothing happened.
But shirt smelled like him. She imbibed her father’s fragrance and rubbed her cheek against the worn nubs of fleece on the collar. She never wanted to forget this scent. He would never wear this shirt again for they laid him in the ground that afternoon wearing his blue blazer and red tie.
Word Count: 140
The plaid shirt flew off the clothesline and across the highway. Fanny dropped her basket of wooden pins, scanning for traffic as she hurried up the rise. Clyde would be none too happy if she lost another work shirt to the Iowa wind.
She glanced cautiously up and down as the shirt rolled east like tumbleweed. A bend behind the trees fifty yards out didn‘t make safety easy. Her hearing wasn’t nearly as good as it used to be, and she sure didn’t want to meet her Maker because of Clyde’s shirt.
Fanny ran across the road. A windy wake blasted her into the ditch. She clutched the shirt, rolling onto her back. A semi-truck rushed away, horn blaring. She coughed against the exhaust but smiled as she rose and hurried back to the house. “Not today, You don’t, Lord. Not today.”
Word Count: 119
The plaid shirt lay in pieces. Tab blinked at the mess, unsure of what had just taken place. He sat beside the flannel fragments, staring at them as the sense of pleasure receded from his chest.
Sound. Garage. Happiness burst into Tab’s heart, and he jumped to his feet, running for the door. She’s home! He stood with his nose pressed up against the doorknob and felt the cold against his skin.
The door opened, and he leapt for joy at the appearance of Anna. The woman whisked past him, then made a low noise. Tab laid flat on the floor. His tail stopped wagging.
She turned on him with hard eyes. “Dog, what on earth have you done with dad‘s shirt?”
Word Count: 112
The plaid shirt stared at him pathetically, as if to say that it was not the type of thing a gentleman should wear on a date. Maurice shed the garment and went for a white shirt and green blazer instead. His dour reflection granted a disapproving grimace.
What was he? A leprechaun?
The man ran his meaty hands over the sparse hair and wide forehead to shine up the Brylcreem. His heart skipped at the feminine rapping on his apartment door.
Maurice threw the blazer aside, opting for the brown jacket instead. He rushed to the front room, took a deep breath, and with a whispered prayer for a new wife, opened the door.
2 months ago