Six Sentence Stories is a weekly writers’ challenge hosted by Denise at Girlie on the Edge blog.
Each week a cue word is given and everyone is invited to submit a poem, short story or article made of exactly six sentences. Join us as we have fun with the form!
This week’s cue word is: Walk
The Calling of Molly Jane Hardy
By Ford, 15 April 2021
No one knew what happened that night, but a fair few penny dreadfuls were published concerning the disappearance of the famous singer Molly Jane Hardy, who had walked off stage in the middle of a performance at Wilton’s Music Hall, in front of an audience of four-hundred admirers left utterly aghast.
As though in some blissful trance, she sashayed between the ladies and gentlemen of the auditorium and into the cloakroom, where she slipped into the fur coat of a complete stranger, lit a cigarette, then disappeared outside to the cold air and cobbles of Graces Alley.
She hummed songs as she went, her hazelgreen eyes never once leaving the man she was following; Cable Street, Commercial Street, she discarded the fur coat into the arms of a beggar, who said – Where you goin’ Miss? Shouldn’t be walking these streets alone at night.
I’m following that man – and she pointed to a figure becoming one with the shadows of an alley, the tails of his monastic robes flapping behind him like an afterthought to his silent call; musical notes decaying in the acoustics; wisps of pollen departing the flower.
Oh, those penny dreadfuls – they soon had Molly getting herself into all kinds of pacts with all sorts of devils: spirited away by magicians from the east, forced into marriages with dashing highwaymen, tricked by imps at the behest of witches, even turned into a beautiful she-wolf by the lantern of a moon seductive and plump.
Yet, only I know where Molly truly went, as I followed her into the bleak squalor of Thrawl Street, where I witnessed her glide through the doors of a soup kitchen in pursuit of the robed man, and how she sang her final song with angelic refrain: Brother I come, my Brother I’m home, Brother let’s eat, for my work is all done – and you may ask why I did not go after Molly Jane Hardy into that kitchen that night, and I might reply that I was simply too afraid for my dear life.
Editor’s note: The Calling of Molly Jane Hardy is set in the universe of The Whitechapel Interlude by Clark Farley. Many thanks to Clark for inviting me to write this walk on part. Wilton’s Music Hall – the initial location in my short, is a real venue in Whitechapel, and is: “The most important surviving early music hall to be seen anywhere… It is of outstanding architectural and archaeological significance” – The Theatres Trust
The character Molly Jane Hardy is entirely fictional, though perhaps based on someone in the music industry I very much admire. ‘Penny dreadfuls’ were cheap popular serial literature produced during the nineteenth century in the United Kingdom.
The Calling of Molly Jane Hardy by Ford.
Image 1: Victorian sketch of Wilton’s Music Hall. Artist unknown. I found the image on Hidden London.
Image 2: Sketch of Wilton’s Music Hall by H. W. Smith 1871. Courtesy of the most excellent Wilton’s Music Hall Archives.
Image 2: Wilton’s Music Hall view from stage. Photograph by Paul Marc Mitchell with thanks. Digital colour render by Ford.
Thank you for reading 🙂
Edit 16/04/21: I changed the location ‘Ensign Street’ to ‘Cable Street’ in stanza 3, as Ensign Street was known by a different name in the late 19th century.