Stepping Up

The prompt word for Six Sentence Stories is “perch”. Go to GirlieOnthe Edge to link your own six sentence story or to read more offerings. I am using the prompt to further Ilene Higginbottom’s career. See the entire Ernest &  Marge & Ilene series as is and so far here

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Ilene had begun the interview with confidence and high hopes but as it progressed she knew it was not going well and before he could continue with his canned questions and condescending commentary she shared with the middle school principal her intuition that he was not going to hire her for the secretarial job.

“Administrative Assistant, Ms. Higginbottom, and before you presume that I have made up my mind, please, do tell me what gives you the leg up on the other candidates that happen to all have more experience and education.”

The middle school principal’s unfortunate word choice precipitated an awkward silence in which his face turned successive shades of darkening pink as Ilene carefully uncrossed her right leg and put her artificial leg forward.

“As a middle school principal I am sure that you can appreciate the value of different experiences and varied educational backgrounds, Mr. Penny; you should consider me for the position because I’m a hard worker who will always step up.”

Without waiting for Principal Penny to respond Ilene hurried away down the corridor, but paused to look into the office that she had wanted to work in, the office with its two walls of windows that looked out on the entryway and the lobby, and its two walls of file cabinets, upon which a mop-haired boy perched haughtily, his Vans dangling at eye level with Ilene. Ilene raised her eyes and fixed the boy’s gaze, holding it until he hopped down off the cabinet and sat in a chair, all without a word, all witnessed by a slack jawed principal who heard himself tell Ilene Higginbottom that she was hired, and could she possibly start tomorrow.

14 thoughts on “Stepping Up

  1. Good on Ilene. She knows what it takes to step up. She definitely has a leg over all the other applicants. Seems to me her knowledge of kids might be more use in the role than experience and education. Principal Penny made a good choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Norah. These are always feeling out of sequence to me or incomplete because they are or because I know now what Ilene’s story is going to be. Remember the graffiti artist? Ilene is going to be a kick ass secretary (she never does switch her terminology to Administrative Assistant)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very engaging Six.
    (yeah, this is one of those ‘comments’ about the technical side of writing…lol)
    I recognized the protagonist, more importantly, I knew her from previous Sixes and such. A real* person. The other thing was pacing. Sure it’s one thing to describe a conflict (of any sort), it’s another thing to end it and get out smoothly and seamlessly and with carry-forward for the reader**.
    Finally the ending of the story***. To leave the reader with knowing (and liking) the protagonist more than when the story began.

    (Funny synchronicity here. For my weekend blog (TToT) in which I’ve lately taken to putting excerpts from my WIP as one of the items (kind of a pre-pre-beta read); the scene I was thinking of using this week is one in which my protagonist interviews for her first teaching job. huh!)

    *ok, fictionistically-real
    ** probably not an actual term of rhetoric
    *** no! all the more impressive for being a Six ‘sentence’ story


    • Yes, this is Ilene, BFF of Marge, stepping into the white collar world for the first time. Your comments are encouraging and appreciated. haven’t you found that any constraint, whether sentence count or word count, actually helps shape the story and the pacing even as it adds to the challenge? This is a story and character that I intend to “carry forward”. Knowing that it is somewhat easier to leave six sentence pieces here and there, and also a challenge to have those pieces stand alone so I am glad this worked in it’s abbreviated scope and sequence*.
      * teacher talk right there


    • This was a bit tough to weave but as Ilene has already had a couple of flashes where she is in this job, I thought I’d get her an interview. It’s actually a tangled web I weave, but I will unravel it someday and knit the whole story together. Thanks for the prompt and kind words.


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