Today I am delighted to share the first Opening Lines blog of 2021.
This time, former Imagine student, friend and author, Angela Wooldridge is visiting my site, with her first solo publication – Witches Knickers.
Over to you Angela…
Spoiler alert! There aren’t any witches in this book. Come to think of it, there aren’t any knickers either. Well, there probably are but they aren’t mentioned (it’s not that sort of book!)
However, I am planning a second collection for my fantasy and sci-fi stories later in the year and there will be witches in that. (Still no knickers though… I’m now feeling the urge to write about knickers…)
But about this book!
Witches’ Knickers is a collection of 14 of my contemporary stories. Some of them have been published in magazines, some have cropped up elsewhere and a few haven’t been seen before.
This extract is from the story that gives the book its title. I like to think that Emma Thompson might have read this as she retweeted my announcement to the world (okay, just Twitter), that she and Poldark were on the cover of the magazine it was in.
(I have had stories in mags with the Queen on the cover, but so far she hasn’t told anyone about it).
Martha is tidying the hedgerows while she tries to ignore what a mess her life is in.
Molly and her sisters are uncovering a family secret.
Kelly is beginning to suspect that this spy training lark isn’t the fun adventure she’d hoped it would be.
Patsy is about to confront an old mistake.
Join them and many other characters in these fourteen contemporary short stories by Angela Wooldridge.
Witches’ Knickers (first 500 words)
‘It’s bad enough that my mum’s the crazy woman who collects witches’ knickers,’ Martha heard Zoe complain to her friend. ‘But now she’s talking about it on local radio!’
‘Oh Zoe,’ sighed Martha as she left the house. ‘You don’t know the half of it.’
She chivvied the dog into the car. Why was she doing this? It had started as a crusade, but now it felt like one more rut she couldn’t get out of.
‘Why carry on then?’ Stuart had shrugged. ‘No-one’s asking you to do it.’
She half suspected that if she started pole-dancing in a sleazy dive, Stuart would just shrug and say, ‘OK, whatever.’
‘For goodness sake,’ she wanted to shout at him. ‘Engage!’
Was he like this with everyone? He was working late a lot and locked himself away in the shed most evenings. Wasn’t that one of those signs you were meant to look out for?
‘Don’t go there,’ she told herself. ‘Just… just don’t.’
She switched on the radio and set off.
‘Today we are talking to Martha Hames. Hello Martha.’
Martha winced at how squeaky her voice sounded.
‘Now, Martha, you’ve come to our attention because of a rather unusual pastime; collecting Witches’ Knickers.’
‘You make it sound a lot more exciting than it really is.’
‘Could you explain it to our listeners in your own words?’
‘OK, ‘witches’ knickers’ is a rather colourful term used to describe discarded carrier bags that get tangled up in trees and hedges.’
‘Litter, in other words.’
‘Yep, that’s the stuff,’ she reached her destination and heaved the car up onto a grassy bank.
‘And you collect this litter.’
‘Yep.’ Martha agreed. She fiddled with her phone. It still amazed her that she could continue listening with a few taps of the screen. Of course, she’d never admit that to Zoe, who was convinced that anyone born in the last century couldn’t possibly understand the modern world.
‘C’mon Rufus.’ The dog jumped from the car as she grabbed a bin liner and litter-picker, and they set to work.
‘What inspired you to do this?’
‘I’m not sure I remember precisely.’
Actually she could remember all too well. Zoe had been going through a phase of hating everyone, especially Martha. And Stuart seemed oblivious to everything.
‘I guess I must have been having a bad day.’
‘Understatement,’ she snorted.
‘A shopping bag broke as I was loading the car. “Right, that’s it!” I said. “I don’t need their crummy bags.”’
‘The words I used were a bit stronger than that.’
‘“I know where there’s a perfectly good bag. It’s been there for months!” And I drove off to this bag that had been hanging in the hedge for weeks.’
Judy laughed. ‘What happened then?’
‘Standing there, holding that stupid little bag felt like the most successful moment I’d had all day. It was completely useless for shopping, of course, all grey and gritty and horrible. But it was fine for holding the other rubbish…
You can buy Witches Knickers here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Witches-Knickers-other-stories-contemporary-ebook/dp/B08S72ZB42/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=angela+wooldridge&qid=1610040534&s=digital-text&sr=1-1
Angela Wooldridge lives in Devon, in a rackety old house with her husband and the railway children.
She always wanted to be a writer, ever since the early days of exploring Narnia with the Pevensies and eating sardine sandwiches with the Famous Five.
Her stories have appeared in magazines such as My Weekly and The People’s Friend, in anthologies and been shortlisted in various competitions.
You can read her blog at www.angelawooldridge.wordpress.com.
Or follow her on Twitter: @angwooldridge
Many thanks for sharing your fabulous opening lines, Angela.
Happy reading everyone,