At last week’s writing group our prompt was as inventive as ever. We were each given a piece of paper and given a number. This was passed to our left and that person wrote a name, to the left again and a profession, once more to the left for a place, then to the left again and  this person had to finish the sentence: ‘what if…?  Finally we had to chose three words from Annette’s ever growing pile of flashcards.

This is what I had to work with… Zachary, a lawyer, London, “What if Zachary lied on oath?”. The three words were: brunch, foreboding & messenger. 

This was what I cam up with in our 30 minutes writing…. 


It was over brunch that Zachary first planned to confess what he had done. Zachary had been a lawyer in London at a major law firm since he had passed his bar exams fifteen years before. In all that time he hadn’t lost a single case. He really was the golden boy of his firm.

On the morning of his confession he had a deep sense of foreboding and needed to tell someone about what he had done. He needed to share and unload as well as admit his heinous crime.  He still found it hard to believe himself and felt a deep sense of self-disappointment and shame.

Zachary had lied under oath. ‘Lied under oath’ he repeated the words in his head again as he got ready for his meeting with Jenner. They had agreed to meet at ten in the café in Bailiff’s Court, just round the corner from his law firm’s offices.  He had told Jenner that he needed to speak to her but not given any details. She would of course assume it would be to discuss one of their ongoing cases, and she wouldn’t be far wrong. But Zachary guessed she would have no idea of the exact reason for his need to talk to her.

The café wasn’t too busy when Zachary arrived ten minutes early. He had chosen to get there earlier so that he could settle the butterflies that were raging in his stomach. He settled into a booth towards the back of the café, where he hoped his confession wouldn’t be overheard.

The waitress came over to his table and took his order sharing a bit of friendly banter. Zachary was a regular customer and knew all the waitresses and waiters. This one, though, he knew particularly well from a late night visit a few weeks before when they had become much better acquainted I the store cupboard as She was the one closing up for the night. Zachary smiled at the memories of ….

The bell over the door rang loudly shaking him out of his reverie. He looked up in time to see Jenner marching towards his table.  She was a woman of purpose, always striding out and taking charge. He liked that in her as a friend, but as a lover it had not worked for him, which was one of the reasons they had split up. Luckily they had remained intimate friends and were always there for each other when needed.

“What is it this time?” Jenner asked as she slid into the booth grazing Zachary’s knee with her own as she did so.

“Straight down to business.” Replied Zachary nervously.  “You never have been one for small-talk have you?”

“Okay. How are you doing? It’s a lovely day today isn’t it? Did you see the last episode of Game of Thrones last night? Better now?” Jenner joked.

“You watch Game of Thrones?” Zachary asked, also joking.

“It’s a classic, but we’re not here to discuss who’s done what to whom and why in the seven kingdoms are we?” Jenner signalled to the waitress. “Doesn’t really like me, does she?” She commented more than asked.

“Well you were both vying for my generous affections at one point,” Zachary took a mouthful of toast and a sip of coffee as the waitress arrived and Jenner ordered her skinny Latte.

Zachary ate in silence, watched by Jenner until the waitress had delivered her order too.

“Okay, time is short. What do you need to get off your chest?” Jenner stirred sugar into her coffee.

“I’ve done something stupid, incredibly stupid,” Zachary looked shamefaced as he told her.

“Got someone pregnant?” Jenner half-joked. She knew Zachary was a player.

At that moment the bell above the door rang loudly again and a DHL messenger barged in. “Documents for a Mr Zachary Stiles” he shouted over the general hubbub of the now busier cafe..

“Over here,” Jenner shouted back indicating her brunch companion.

Zachary signed the documents and slid them aside.

“Aren’t you going to check what you’ve got?” Jenner asked. “It could be important, and even time sensitive since it was sent by courier.”

Zachary grabbed the envelope and tore at the seal. He took the two sheets of paper out and gasped. He handed them to Jenner.

Jenner took the papers and read them, her face changing from neutral to shock as she did so. “You bloody fool,” She said once she had finished reading what had turned out to be a court subpoena. “Seriously? You lied under oath? You bloody fool. This is why you wanted to talk isn’t it? Now,spill and hopefully we can salvage you some kind of career out of this;”

Zachary put down his toast and began his story …..



After I had read my story the origin of ‘ spill’ (Spill the beans) was ‘discussed’. This is what I found via google: 

A popular folk etymology for “to spill the beans” claims that in ancient Greece, applicants for membership in secret societies were voted upon by having the existing members drop beans into a pottery jar. Those who approved of the potential new member would signal an affirmative vote by adding a white bean to the jar. A black bean indicated a negative vote. The story goes that on occasion, when the jar was accidentally knocked over, the beans poured out and the vote was revealed prematurely. Somebody had “spilled the beans“. It’s an engaging tale, and beans were in fact once used as ballots.



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