“Carbon Dating” – 100-word challenge

This one is a little different. It was written as part of an exercise undertaken during a workshop at the weekend. The original is 224 words long, and I wanted to see if I could crunch it into 100 words – and what the effect of doing so would be. I also include the original for comparison.

If anyone has any pertinent views when comparing the two, please share them!

Carbon Dating

He looked up. This new woman’s name badge said ‘Jill’, but that wasn’t necessarily her name.

At the bell, she pressed on, checking her crib sheet to ensure she was asking the right questions. Always the same questions. Luckily five minutes didn’t last long.

After ‘Jill’ had gone, he sensed another presence.

“Jimmy” – a voice full of familiarity and sadness.

He looked up, afraid to use her name after all this time.

“Oh, Jimmy. I’m so sorry.”

A sudden noise made him glance away. Looking back, she was gone – and another person was heading towards their five minutes with ‘Richard’.

15th May 2017 – 100 words


The original 224 words:

He looked up from the table when he sensed the new arrival. She was slightly older than the previous two women. Her name badge said ‘Jill’. That may or may not have been her real name. His own badge said ‘Richard’, but that wasn’t his name.

With a nervous smile, she pressed on formulaically, glancing at her crib sheet to make sure she was asking the right questions in the right order. There was, he had discovered, never much variance – nor was their any variance in the sense that, after the first ten seconds, he knew Jill wasn’t ‘the one’.

Luckily – for them both perhaps – five minutes didn’t last long. At the end of it (when the bell rang) they both stood and shook hands. He then returned to his seat and stared at the table again.

After a moment he sensed another presence.

“Jimmy” said a voice full of familiarity and sadness. It was a voice he knew well.

“Hello”, he said, looking up at her, afraid to use her name after all this time; afraid to cross that barrier.

“Oh, Jimmy. I’m so sorry,” she said.

Then across the hall a clatter of chairs drew his attention and he looked away. When he glanced back she was gone, and he saw another person heading towards him for their five minutes with ‘Richard’.

100-word Challenge