September Shorts: The Swapped Coat
Back in my thirties I used to teach. I was in charge of a sixth form and each year the senior students would organise a prom. I'd show up to a city centre hotel, keep an eye on things, drink a few beers, and leave at about midnight. At the end of one particular evening I grabbed my suit jacket and headed out to catch a taxi home. It was a warm and I stood on the street corner in shirtsleeves until my cab showed up.
By the time it pulled in near my house it was raining. Getting out of the cab I pulled on my jacket. It seemed weirdly small (falling short at my wrists, exposing a couple of inches of shirt cuff) and it was tight around my shoulders. The kind of jacket I'd have worn in my twenties when I was a skinnier pup; a good few pounds slighter. Not thinking straight, I wondered how it could have shrunk after such a brief exposure to rain. Then I felt something in the inside pocket. A packet of cigarettes and a lighter. I pulled them out. Marlboro lights, my old brand.
Suddenly it struck me, and these disparate and confusing signals made sense.
A rip in the space-time continuum meant I was wearing my old suit. It had travelled forward through time to visit me. Or I had gone back to meet it.
Not really. I'd picked up another guy's jacket.
The picture above is an extract from Storycraft, a manual I wrote about teaching creative writing with my friend, the wonderful writer Jon Mayhew. There are 51 activities in there, and number 17, this one, is one of mine, based on the event just described.
I find it always goes down well with students. Next time you're running a workshop, feel free to give it a go.
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