written for Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC) of 5 October 2020, rivalry.

Anna could see that it had been necessary – to understand how a human rights organisation operated at ground level – but she had hardly used her law degree, so far. She kept quiet, but she would be happy when the stint with RightWay was over, and she could start her career proper with Maynard-Fleischmann.

The end of university had meant the dispersal of most of her friends. She had a core, plus some friends from her course, but many of her friends had left London to pursue their careers. There was a feeling of melancholy, when Anna was close to a place that a friend had once lived. Past tense. It was not deliberate, but Anna realised that she was increasingly spending time at home.

She had a pleasant enough time with her workmates, but she did not pursue friendships. She knew that she would be gone in a year, so her focus was on doing a good job, and to leave with a good report.

There was one guy, though. He was a bit older than her and had a very dry sense of humour. Paul, he was called. She got on well with him, although she did not think she flirted, and was surprised when he very awkwardly asked her out. Whilst this was not part of her plan, he made her laugh, and he might be a relaxing influence. So, mindful of office romances, she had warily agreed. It was just bowling, after all.

She still had in mind a clean break with RightWay, when the time came, but she could chance some fun in the meantime. Besides, he might help her get out of her house a little.

There had been a wobble at the start – despite his age seniority, he had been very insecure. When they finally slept together, it felt good. He had been her first partner in almost a year, and she suspected it was even longer for him. She learned that he was a divorcee with a pre-teen boy. She’d just as soon not meet the boy – what could they possibly have in common? – but, inch by inch, Paul and Anna gradually became an item.

As the weeks went by, Anna was conscious that it would soon be time to move on. She really should end this affair, but there was a snag – she had become fond of Paul. Torn between her career and her relationship, what should she do?

As we, the readers, know, Paul and Anna stayed together throughout Anna’s job change. The final clincher? Whilst she certainly thought that they might one day run their course, she did not feel that it would be right to manufacture their break-up there and then.

Proceed with caution!

I wrote a background to these characters below.

Aunty Jess

I saw my new friend Hobbo had written a response to a prompt by Chel Owens. It was supposed to be a verse to go inside a card, so I don’t really think this is a proper response, but I was inspired to write this poem. At least it is short (120 words).

To write this prompt, it wasn’t hard,
I hardly ever send a card.
My family is very scant,
Except down under, have an aunt.

Another aunt in Lancashire,
She’s eighty now, delightful dear,
Her birthday now is round about,
I’d better pull my finger out!

The card’s awaiting me to send,
My missus made it last weekend,
Better than I could have bought,
But to the message, gave no thought.

No flow’ry message was supplied,
Just “Happy Birthday” stamped inside,
As long as there’s no writer’s cramp,
All I’m waiting for’s a stamp.

Must keep my cool, not overkeen,
Her birthday’s not ’til Hallowe’en,
By then must break out from my bubble,
If card is late, I’ll be in trouble!