Story From A Prompt: “What You Leave Behind”

Brendan Swogger tweeted me “A man finds a penny on the ground. What happens next?”

Here’s what I thought.

* * *


Sam happened to look down at the right time and spotted the shiny coin on the pavement. He stooped down to pick it up.

Ah, he thought. What’s that old saying? Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck…

He continued on his way to the Buy ‘N’ Save, and looked the coin over. It wasn’t normal currency. It was about an inch across, quite thin, and made of a silver metal. On one side there was a reef encircling a capital ‘G’. Sam flipped the coin over. It glinted in the sunlight. There were little dots around the edge, and in the centre a date.

He stopped walking. Turned the coin over, made sure he was seeing it right.


“It can’t be,” he said out loud. He looked around, feeling displaced. There was nobody around. The lunch hour had passed, and the streets were quiet again.

An idea struck him, and he walked back the direction he’d come. Within a minute or so he arrived at the very spot he’d found the coin in the first place.

Without really being conscious of what he was doing, he took the coin out of his pocket and laid it down on the pavement. He took a step back from it, looked about to be sure he was on his own, then walked away.

Hopefully someone else will pick it up, he thought. I know I don’t want it.


The man watched him go from around the corner, then when he was sure it was safe he walked along the pavement and stooped down to pick the penny up.

“There you are,” he said, pleased that he’d found ┬áit.

He spoke into a comm. unit on his wrist. “C-15, come in. I found it. Repeat. I found it. I’m coming in.”

Behind him was a long, white brick wall. He pointed a small keyring at it and drew the shape of a door. When he finished the drawing, there was the outline of a real, physical door there on the wall. He laid a hand against it, and the door inched open.

It was bright on the other side. He stepped through, and made sure to shut the door behind him.

He couldn’t risk contaminating the past.


I know it’s not fantastic, but it’s my response to that prompt. Thanks Brendan!

Bernard Schaffer: Finishing A Novel

I just watched Bernard’s video on finishing his novel The Magnificent Guns of Seneca 6. This is the side of things a lot of readers don’t see, or think about. The real stress of translating something from the realm of your imagination to the printed (digital or not) page, and having it make sense. Having it inform and move people in ways that most art forms simply can’t.

Bernard looks genuinely knackered in this video, in contrast to his elation when he is finished.

It’s the mark of a real, honest-to-god writer. Because whilst others might be thinking ‘I wouldn’t put myself through that again’, you just know Bernard will do it over and over again. He’s probably already plotting his next novel. It’s the nature of the beast; what Michael Chabon calls ‘The Midnight Disease.’ It’s the thing that keeps us all up at night, tapping away in isolation. Committing ourselves to paper. Opening our hearts and letting the reader see how we tick.

We writers do it because we have to. It’s our thing. But we also do it for the readers. Watch this video. It shows you a little bit of how much a book takes it out of a writer. Because in the end it’s all for your enjoyment.

Congratulations, Bernard. Now grab yourself a coffee, and get to work on Superbia 3!