I’m short of story ideas right now. So to keep my writing going, I’ve done this instead – taken an old song and based a piece of fiction around its lyrics. I’ve embellished and added detail that wasn’t there originally, of course, but can you guess what song I’ve based this story on? (Yes, I’m sure you can.) There may be more of these in future, as I enjoyed this as a writing exercise.
He stared through the window of the pawn shop. His guitar, the beautiful old Strat his dad had given him, stood there precariously on a stand too small for it. There was a price tag of fifty quid tied around its neck. A tear slipped down his face.
Tommy needed work. More than that, he needed money. That was why he’d had to trade his guitar in at Cash Converters. And that was why Gina was working extra shifts at the cafe down the street. She’d come home every night exhausted, smelling of bacon and sausages, complaining about ungrateful, bossy, rude customers, all for six pounds an hour. Sometimes she cried in the night, and when she did his heart broke with the shame.
He needed his job back. He needed the strike to be over. But he’d been to see his union rep just that morning. ‘The bastards just don’t listen to us,’ he’d been told. ‘We all want to get back to work, Tommy, but with more money and longer hours. I’ll call you when they’re ready to get round the table with us.’
So that was that. He couldn’t exactly break the picket line. Even if he’d wanted to, dock work is hard. You can’t do it alone, and no-one else looked like they were even considering ignoring the strike. He understood. Once a scab, always a scab. But then, no-one else had their landlord calling every couple of hours, demanding rent. He’d given them until the end of the week.
‘We’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got,’ Gina had said the other day. But he hadn’t been sure if she meant they had to hold on to each other, or to the damp-riddled, broken-down old flat in the bad end of town they called home. She’d seen the look on his face and quickly added ‘we’ve got each other,’ but that hadn’t helped. There’d been no sleep that night. And the way things were going, they weren’t going to be able to hold on to the flat. And if they had nowhere to live, would they be able to hold on to each other?
He offered up a silent prayer as he turned from the shop window. He didn’t think it would work, though. It never had. He was tired of living on hope, living on desperation, living on prayer.
Behind the glass, the shop worker watched Tommy slump away down the street, another of the many who’d been forced to trade in their most precious belongings just to get by. ‘It’s tough,’ she thought to herself. ‘So tough.’
The guitar toppled off its stand with a crash.