Monday, 23 December 2013

Over your shoulder

It's that time of year when we look back at where we've come from, what we've brought with us, who we've got alongside us and slowly turn to face the turning of one year into another.

I'm going to keep this short and sweet because, really, I should be packing for my imminent Christmas and New Year ski trip.

Things I am proud of:


  • Finding a wonderful life. OK, that sounds stupid, but the life my husband and I had at the start of the year wasn't our life. Patience was hard, there were bumps in the road. But perseverance won through and we now live in a great place, have made fun, new friends, are working on things we enjoy and have a life we both love. 
  • Completing NaNoWriMo. This deserves a whole other post all to itself, but dedicating myself to writing a book taught me how with enough grit, rhythm and routine you can achieve a lot (of words) in a short space of time. 
  • M&MRC Does Eastern Europe. There are people on this planet that are there to make your life better (and hopefully you do the same for them). Getting to travel with my partner-in-crime-running-and-therapy-friend-extraordinaire, Maria, through Austria, Croatia, Montenegro and Albania this summer was simply amazing, precious and, as always, too much fun. 
  • An expanding family. Technically, I did nothing to help achieve this, but becoming an aunt for the first time on both sides of the family was a real joy. We've yet to meet one of our new nephews in person, but knowing there are new Alonsos and Milsoms in the world is a simple and beautiful happiness. 
  • Not giving up. This isn't about me, but my grandma. After living in her own home by herself, she had a stroke recently, at 93. She's now in a nursing home and a shadow of the woman she once was. Although it was hard to see her like that at first, when I thought about her indomitable spirit, I realised there is something in her that just won't give up. I don't know if it's her Viennese constitution, or the fact she's a stubborn mule of a woman, but on some level I think it's marvellous. 
  • Working on Trifecta. I joined this writing challenge website as assistant editor in the summer and have loved working with these brilliant ladies on a fantastic writing community and getting to know some truly incredible writers. Check us out: http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/
Hope you have a brilliant festive season and that whatever you've got over your shoulder from 2013 brings great memories and smiles. Happy holidays!
In front of Wasserbillig, taken from Germany



Saturday, 30 November 2013

Flash fiction - Himalayan Call

Today is that last day of NaNoWriMo and although I am meeting up later with other writers from Luxembourg, there will be a lightness in my step and typing as I passed the 50,000-word goal a couple of days ago. Hoorah!

So, this morning, I needed another reason to get creative, and what better than a Trifecta write? Don't know what Trifecta is? Get your arse over there right now: www.trifectawritingchallenge.com. Anyway, usually I am behind the scenes, but this weekend it's a community judged 33-word free write. Here's mine:

Himalayan Call

Flames swaddle the village, orange gashes the only colour against the black mountain night. Until later, the tiger steals through, searching, sniffing for charred meat. 

The warning bell tickling in the wind, irrelevant. 
33 words

Click on the bike to read some fabulous writers. Who will you vote for?



Saturday, 23 November 2013

Flash Fiction - Hello World! Hello...??

Julia is feeling indecisive this week over at Julia's Place so the prompt we're given to write in 100 words or less is: DECISIONS, DECISIONS, DECISIONS.

It was easy to write a story for this week, considering what's happened (see below!)

Hello World! Hello...??

It wasn’t as if they hadn’t planned it. All that practice. All that work. All that preparation. All that excitement. The expectation building until, finally, it overflowed one long day that turned into night that turned into the next day and in the cold, yellow light of morning, at last, he was here.

Their son, gurgling and smiling and wrinkly and cute.

They covered him in love. They covered him in kisses. They covered him in tiny blue blankets. 
But, decisions, decisions, decisions…

They didn’t have a name. 

This week I became an aunt for the second time, but the first time on my side of the family. My little brother became a dad and his son was born. It was all very exciting but boy did they make us wait for his name! Three days later, we eventually got it and I cannot wait to meet Samuel Alfred! 

Please click on the icon to read more entries.


Monday, 11 November 2013

The flag on the floor

It's a picture prompt this week for the 100WCGU writing challenge at Julia's Place. As soon as I saw it, certain words came to my head. They are not my words and I have never written them down before.

They were written by a boy in my GCSE history class in 1995. We were studying the First World War and were given the task of writing a short poem. He read this out loud to the class and I have always remembered it. I can't remember if he gave it a title or not, so I have taken liberty with that.

In the wired and connected world we live in, I am not interested in using his words to connect with him again, so he will remain anonymous. I wonder if he even remembers what he wrote. If he does, and ever stumbles here, let him know those words touched me when I was fifteen and still do today, especially on this day of remembrance.

The Flag on the Floor

When the standing berry gets shot,
We pick it up and march on.
But we didn't today.

We left the flag on the floor.


Read more at Julia's Place HERE

Monday, 4 November 2013

Flash fiction - Every Other Sunday

After a lovely week away touring the Black Forest in Germany (highly recommended) I am back to writing. It's all about punching out words of my novel for NaNoWriMo. Four days in and so far so good. I wasn't sure how much time I would have for other creative flash fiction pieces, but the prompt at Julia's Place is so good this week I had to have a go. We were simply given the photo below. Please click the 100WCGU icon afterwards to read more entries.

Credit: Jane Hewitt
http://www.janehewitt.blogspot.co.uk/
Every Other Sunday

Father and son arrived at the next pond.
“What’s that man doing in the water, Daddy?”
“It’s not real, Jason. It’s art. Like the previous one. It makes you think.”
“Hmm.”
He let Jason stare at the boots, quietly, to get a sense of the message. His ex-wife probably never took Jason anywhere where bigger questions were asked. It was all Disney and ham sandwiches. 
“Can he breathe?”
“Jase, it’s not a person. The artist is showing –”
The water broke and up popped a man spluttering, keys aloft.
“Daddy didn’t think enough, did he?” Jason said and walked on. 
100 words


Thursday, 31 October 2013

Black Forest, Black Foods

This week I am travelling through the Black Forest. Among its many delights, here are two: a black salami sausage that looks tough and chewy, but melts in your mouth; and the famous gateaux, which I thankfully discovered is nothing like the frozen supermarket horror I had in my mind from childhood. Add a 'tea with rum' and your golden.

Schwarzwurst = Yumwurst

Not usually a cake fan, I am a THIS fan, especially after a bike through the woods. 

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Flash fiction - Sweet Find

It's all about silver over at Julia's Place this week. I won't tell you why. You'll have to go over and read some other 100WCGU stories or link up yourself. Here's mine:

Sweet Find

The chair was hard and uncomfortable. Grandma never offered a cushion and Father wouldn’t ask. 
“Sit up, Giles.”
I sat as straight as I could and grabbed my spoon. The maid Mary winked at me, laying down my bowl. Mounds of slick fruity pudding, piled with cream, currants glistening. 
A big, yellow bottle sat on the table. Grandpa woke up.
I dug in. I heard a tap. I peered forward. A silver coin shone back from my pudding. I quickly pulled it out and slid it into my pocket before anyone noticed. 
I had four coins that day. Those adults had none.


Thursday, 17 October 2013

Kintsukuroi - Golden scars

Ready for the weekend? Here's a prompt to keep you alive. It's this week's episode of delight over at The Queen Creative and we are told:

Kintsukuroi is a Japanese noun meaning “to repair with gold”; the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.

Firstly, it's a great word. Just say it out loud a few times. Cheaper than a yoga breathing class. Secondly, it has made me write another poem. Poems come to me in a dash, I can't help them. And once they are down I find it very difficult to change them. These poems of mine, I think they might be broken. But if you, by any chance, have any gold handy to help them out, like words, please stitch them together below. You can make them more beautiful, after all. Much appreciated. 

Golden Scars

Time ravages everything. 
Nothing can be saved. 
Wind whispers, stones crumble
People age, art fades.
Times pieces together meaning
For us to see its place
And beauty lies not just in colour,
Nor stone or stature, nor form or face.
Time cracks and wrung hands plead
Nothing stays as it should
But what is a painted Acropolis
Or Machu Picchu with a roof?
Time’s golden scars tell tall tales
A slashed, re-beautified tribe
Of carefully broken and re-pieced pieces
That are given second lives. 
So time, while ravaging, stitches richly
And the wind will wind its way
Through crumpled hearts and history,
Yet everything can still have its day.

Please visit other writers starring in this week's For The Promptless episode by clicking on the television screen that still works:

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Flash fiction - The Violin


There's two brand new prompts over at Studio30Plus this week. They are WEAPON and TINKLE. I decided to use both in this story. If you'd like, let me know what you think.

The Violin

Music was his only weapon. You could say he had me at his first b flat; that slow pull of the bow, his brow furrowed, painful, his eyes half closed. He was a piece of art up there, only half in the spot light. I can’t remember who he shared the stage with that night. I know my drink stayed at my lips: I didn’t sip it, nor did I put it down. I was held by that man, his fingers, his pointed, strong elbows, his straight back and shoulders I would later share with his beloved violin.
-
“You play the music?”
“No! No, well, yes, but not like you. You’re, you are something else.”
He moved around my cluttered and dusty apartment, then settled on the piano stool. I watched him read my knackered honky-tonk piano. I closed my eyes, forgetting to shut the front door. He touched the keys, slowly at first. Testingly. I felt his passion tinkle down my spine, chime through my centre. The tempo became off, a mosaic of emotions: fear, excitement, trepidation… love. What had we started? Whatever it was, he could play it.
-
Strangely, the only photo of him I have to share with the rest of the world. His album cover is in black and white, as he always dressed. He stares beyond me, seeing something magical in the distance. His violin is in his left hand, the bow in his right resting on his right shoulder. He stands square and unafraid, although the lighting is guarded. He never liked bright places, sunny beaches. Let’s find a cave and sing to each other. We went camping, far away from everything. Or we stayed in my apartment because I had lots of little lamps and no real lights. We stayed under the bed sheets while I peeled oranges and he played all night. All night.
-
When they took him away, he said he would write to me. It would be the only thing which would keep him going. My heart collapsed, for me and for him. He was a national disgrace, they said. He was a traitor, they said. His music was poison, they said. He had escaped and they had found him. The album didn’t matter. Protection didn’t matter. They snatched him in the middle of the night on a dark street near my place. He walked when he couldn’t sleep and I needed to. They knew that. They knew everything about him. Except one.
-
Sacha is four years old. He has the same straight back and he looks at you with knowledge beyond his years. He knows where his father is, though I have never told him or showed him the letters that stopped over a year ago. He can feel it when he picks up his father’s violin. He plays away his sadness standing in the hallway while I make dinner. He feels a fence around him when he holds that violin. He is safe. He is loved beyond his mother and grandma and he plays that love out to our dusty and cluttered apartment, our medley of neighbours, New York City and even further: to a place full of shadows and winter, and no music.

Read more interesting writes by clicking here:

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Flash Fiction - Understood

Julia over at 100WCGU is running around like a headless chicken and chasing her own tail this week with lots and lots to do. For this reason, our prompt is:

... tail chasing did not help ...

Here are my 100 words, plus the prompt. It is called Understood.

Felix stepped out of the bedroom. Then he stepped back and forth again. He went downstairs. He did not tread on the last-but-one step. In the kitchen Daisy, his four-legged protector, sat calmly by her food bowl. She barked three times. Felix patted her on the head. Tap, tap, tap. Daisy went to the door. Felix unlocked it and watched Daisy run to the middle of the lawn, circling around herself. Tail chasing did not help her. Just like locking the back door three times did not help Felix. But Felix knew Daisy understood, and likewise. They had their behaviours and they had each other.


I read today that tail-chasing behaviour in dogs shares similarities with obsessive-compulsive disorder in humans. 

Read more 100WCGU-inspired writes over at Julia's Place by clicking:



NANoWriMo - Plucking dreams



I've done something I've been wanting to do for the last three years. I have signed up for National Novel Writing Month. This happens every November. For 30 days, writers around the world, well, they simply... write. 50,000 words to be precise. A novel. A book. A living, breathing beast of a story. 

I have heard it will make me euphoric. I have heard it will drive me crazy. I have heard I will sit, rocking at my computer wondering what the hell I've signed up for. I have heard I will be punching the keyboard with delight. Words will flow, flounder, flail and fall onto the page. 

I have to tell everyone I am doing it. Some, out of respect: you will not hear from me for 30 days. I will not have died. I am just writing a book while trying to live my normal life. Some, out of hope: please help me and support me and ask me how it's going. Please: keep.me.sane.

I like a challenge. The challenge can be physical: run across the Andes in three days. Or it can be mental: write a word-a-thon for charity. I have done both. And it's true. There are hellish moments. My legs don't work. My brain can't think. I want to stay in bed and listen to the football. But, you keep going. Someone is relying on you. YOU are relying on you. You keep running. You keep writing. It doesn't matter if it isn't pretty or perfect. It is what it is. It is yours.

So, I am excited for the month of November. It will be a momentous, harrowing, spectacular journey. It will seem long and arduous. It will seemingly fly by. And at the end of it will be something, hopefully, resembling my bookish dreams. Something I have created that is whole and wonderful in parts, if cracked at the edges. That's OK. From December 1st the paint comes out and it is time to make it beautiful. 

Without doing this, ideas are dreams. My dreams may follow me, but I have to pluck them to make them happen. If I want that book on my shelf, the one with my name on the spine... well, then, I've got to write it. 

For more information on National Novel Writing Month see: http://nanowrimo.org/

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Shopping list: no groceries

This week over at The Queen Creative we are told:

A shopping list (noun) is a list of items needed to be purchased by a shopper, a grocery list is a the most popular type of shopping list– including items that need to be procured on the next visit to the grocery store. 

I am a list person, except for when it comes to grocery shopping. I hate supermarkets. I know what I need so I run in (if my husband isn't with me; he loves going down every single aisle) and zoom around spending as little time as possible dithering. I can't waste time choosing: tomatoes on the vine or cherry tomatoes or both? Chilli or cheese nachos? Shall I take advantage of the buy-one-pay-for-three offer on furniture polish? Hmmm. No, I make a decision and get on with my life. 

In other areas of my life, I do write a list. It lives in this fabulous little book:

This book does not travel with me. I do not want to be followed by my list. It simply hangs out around my desk, you know, near the pens. It is there for things like: 

  • Fix boot heels
  • Mother's Day something
  • Transfer for holiday
  • Write Prompts for Promptless - shopping list
  • Plan Celine's class
  • Email uni birds
  • Post baby pressie Arg
Life things. There's every day things mixed with work things, and what I call some 'life admin' thrown in. As a teacher, I don't need to make lists at work like I used to have to as an editor, working in an office. Offices seem to run on endless lists. Maybe this was one reason I vowed never to work in one again. So, I add classes that I need to plan, with the names of my students to make it more human. There are people behind my jobs and I like that.

Another area that gets added to this seeming free-for-all is stuff I need to write. Places I need to go and read, blogs I want to comment on, pieces and prompts I want to write. I don't think I would forget to write for my favourite prompts or challenges, but once I've put something up and I cross it off my list, it's like a double happiness. There is the writing happiness and the one-less-thing-on-the-list-happiness. 

*

One shopping list that I will take some time over, but not necessarily write down, is for presents. I love buying birthday/Christmas/any-occasion-that-needs-a-present presents. You'd think I was made of money reading that, but I'm not. I just love it when I've pondered on a present for someone and a genius idea whacks me over the head (then whacks me in the wallet) and they open it and their face lights up with surprise/joy/incredulousness at what I've given them. 

My parents' birthdays are really close together, so their presents will go on the same list in my head. The process will always start with the same conversation:

"So, Mum, what do you want for your birthday?" (I have zero intention of buying her what she wants. I am cleverer than that.)
"I don't need anything. You don't have to get me anything."
"I know you don't need anything, but what do you want?"
"What I want is for your father to get off the toilet so we can have breakfast. That's what I want."

My parents' birthday present shopping list might therefore look like this after a few of these conversations:
  • Timer so when my dad has been on the toilet for more than 20 minutes it scares him into getting off (for my mum)
  • An automatic thingy so that when my mum is transferring money to her children's accounts it blocks it at a certain number of zeros (for my dad)
  • A teaching job where all you have to do is teach and not deal with the bullshit (for my mum)
  • A mother who isn't so annoying deaf and insanely proud (for my dad)
  • A course in how to get the most of out your smart TV (for them both)

*

Life is full of lists if we think about it: things we want to accomplish, places we want to see, books we want to read, people we want to really connect with, things we want to learn. That's the beauty of lists. They can be never-ending. But life isn't. So it's a good thing if you never get to the end of your wish-list, or to-do list or to-read list. You had enough on there to keep you going, and while you were, that's called life. 

"We like lists because we don't want to die." Umberto Eco.

Click and watch more at Prompts for the Promptless here:






Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Flash fiction - The Visitor

Julia is feeling all autumnal over at Julia's Place this week, as the leaves turn and drift down to cover parks and paths. So, our prompt is FALL. We can take either meaning of the word and below is my effort. Please go HERE to read other entries.

The Visitor

It was the beginning. Of giving up. Grandma Ivy’s fall shattered nothing. Except her self-belief. In living. News of great-grandchildren greeted with half-smiles. Favourite programmes muted. Creamy eclairs went green in the fridge. Winter broke. Curtains stayed closed. Until the scratching at the door. Grandma Ivy lasted a week. Trying to ignore it. But one sunny morning she opened that door. A cat purred. Walked in. With the defiance of a general. 


Credit: www.wallpapersus.com 
Grandma Ivy watched it wander, smelling the life that wasn’t being lived. The cat disappeared under the curtains. Grandma Ivy followed. She opened them, and herself, to the world.


100 words + prompt

This story was inspired this morning by some Crazy Cat Ladies. Crazy level - High. Whereabouts - All Over The Place. Thank you!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Words

I'm getting this post up today even though I posted for another site already. Tomorrow I fly back to my native island for a wedding so am going to be technologically mute for a couple of days. So, this prompt is from the folks at Studio30 Plus. The word is... WORD.

This is a poem I wrote in 2009 when the English language reached its one millionth word. I was very excited in the build-up as newspapers and linguists around the world placed bets on what that pinnacle official word would be. Then it came. The 1,000,000th word in the English language was...


WEB 2.0. 

I wanted to vomit. That's not even a word.

So I wrote this in response and I share it with you today.

Web Two Point Zero

How did we get here
From there?
From one word to a million.
How we say this and that
Has changed,
Gone are the rules in this word game
So that nothing ever remains the
Same.

Technology discovers
And wakes the dictionary.
It opens and finds a space,
As the world explores
And pours in more
So out of our mouths
It becomes commonplace.

When the grandfather cradles
A baby just born
He knows in another century
His meaning will have torn;
But that this little miracle
Will understand enough to say
Those words he knew
In a different way.
He feels sad how changes speak
Across years and countries
As new senses they seek:
Ones he will not realise,
Words he will not say,
Meanings he will never meet.

Years later, after a million more
His great great granddaughter listens, abhors,
To the children in their virtual world
As they compurite and intereed
And never ink or paper need.
She shakes her head and reaches for
The secret in her bureau drawer:
Those golden letters, they never faded,
Neither his words inside those pages.
She reads and delights in joined letters,
Painstaking care to get it right
And no disgusting number in sight.
So two remains two and too as well
Not like now, she’ll sadly tell
Her own grandchildren and she will let them see
Her great great grandfather’s life-long diary.

First one was born because it was the first
Words followed from a naming thirst
And to a million we have now arrived
The most amount of meaning ever survived.
But before we drop our heads to charge on,
To pass another inevitable million
We must remember words are more than letters strung
And they started with a meaningful 
One.

To read other writes on the prompt WORD or the other of this week's prompts, SICK visit:


The news article when, for some, this language crossed that million word barrier:



Lapsus Linguae - Marriage


Over at The Queen Creative this week's prompt speaks for itself. We are told:

Lapsus Linguae: A noun that refers to a 'slip of the tongue'. 

Here is a short story. Sometimes slips of the tongue are not unintentional.

Marriage

Bernard and Cath sit on the park bench. Cath knits. It's still warm enough to do so. She thinks maybe in a couple of weeks she'll have to get Bernard to find their gloves and scarves, but for now her hands are warm and happy to be busy and in the fresh air. Bernard watches the ducks. Or, he pretends to be watching the ducks because he's really following an aerobics class on the other side of the pond: eighteen (he's counted) miniature ladies bouncing up and down. They are far enough away for him to not see their (probably disappointing, he thinks) faces while he can still appreciate the way their bodies move as they jump in all directions.

A jogger runs past and nods at Bernard. They see him most weeks. Well, Bernard does. Cath is usually with her head down, knitting and talking. Bernard is glad she has never driven a car. He thinks the amount of people she would have killed would be quite high.

"But if they are going to charge two pounds a raffle ticket, what do they expect? Jean's grandson ended up with a box of soap. You can imagine. Did you see Mohammed painted his gate? Yellow of all colours."

Bernard hears the colour yellow and thinks about their honeymoon in the south of France. He can't remember how the hell they afforded that back then, but he can remember the yellow of the sand, the blue of the sea and the wispy white clouds stretching to Africa above. He is reminded of the pedalo and how Cath nearly ran over a swimmer while she was imagining the back story of their breakfast waiter.

"If you need a tin of peas, you need one tin. Not three. Three tins make a bag heavy. Julie can't carry things like three tins now. And that son of hers isn't going to help out. She won't say of course, but since he ran off with his secretary I think he must come and visit under the cover of darkness. Have you seen him? Well, I wouldn't show my face again."

The aerobics class has finished. A couple of the women have parked their cars on this side of the pond and Bernard sees they are older than he thought. It surprises him than women with wrinkles can jump about for so long. They look good though. He would like to see them in fine dresses, like the one Cath wore to his mother's funeral a month after they met. She looked mighty fine that day. He could hardly think of his mother, cold and grey under that heavy wooden top.

"It's not just the children. They are good children, I know that, and Pete and Sarah do their best. But they don't help out either. We have to do everything. I mean, I don't mind, but it's the extra work they don't think about. They just assume. And we can't say no, can we? Would they come and pick us up and take us to London? It's all so time consuming for everyone."

A dog comes over to sniff around Bernard's feet. It isn't a fan of the crumbs from his two morning digestives. It licks his trousers quickly and then toddles off, its big flat paws clipping the concrete path, its tail hovering just above the puddles. Bernard wonders why there are always puddles on the path, even though it hasn't rained for over a week.

"Now if we get Jessica that cooking game, Nicky isn't going to need something better than a football. Remember the havoc last year with the trampoline? We're not going through that again. Polly had the same trouble with those twins, and they are even younger. I don't know when children got so needy and possessive of things. If we take the bus one Wednesday there's those coupons to use in that big store and it sells some toys."

Bernard's stomach growls. He searches the park for distraction but it has nothing left to give him. He wants to go home and have leftover pork chop for lunch with some green beans from the garden. But this is his part of the day and he also doesn't want it to end.

"And cramming herself into those cream jeans. Well talk about mutton dressed as lamb. She's nearly sixty for crying out loud -"

"Yes, I'd like green beans."

"And ... What? What did you just say? Bernard, she was wearing something so silly for her age, and she's not a small lady as we know."

"Shut up."

"I mean, I'm not one to talk, we could all lose a few pounds. What? What did you say again Bernard?"

"Nothing. Slip of the tongue. Lapsus Linguae."

"Sometimes I think you talk Chinese, I really do. You get it from that crossword I suppose. We'll have to pick up my magazine on the way back. Julie said there's a lovely story in there this week. About a couple who fall in love during the war. Except he speaks French and she speaks German and they don't understand each other. Can you imagine? This jumper is coming along very nicely indeed."

Bernard finally looks back to his paper. Fourteen down. I am in rage after a singular Mars wedding. 

Marriage.



To read more Lapsus Linguae inspired writes, click and watch:





Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Flash fiction - The Pledge

The prompt for 100WCGU over at Julia's Place took me to a stranger place than usual in my writing. Have a read and see what you think. Then click on the 100WCGU icon to read more entries. This week's prompt is ... as the world turned ...

The Pledge

Their palms faced the sky they had fallen from, not so many years ago. The two mothers stood at their feet, wondering why it had taken this for them to find peace. This beach, eyes closed, dressed all in white. But they wouldn’t wake up, even though the sun was poking its head over the blue-grey horizon. One mother stifled a sob. The other looked dreamily out to sea. As the city coroner pulled up, as people woke up to this news, as the world turned and everything carried on as it always had, she took a deep breath and walked into the ocean.
104 words
Read, comment and then read some more!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Love Letter - You are my world


It might be too little, too late. But you have been around a lot longer than I have; I think you'll understand. You see, when we first met I wasn't sure about the love I would have for you. You've always been there and I guess I needed to grow up, find out more about myself, and more about you, before I could fall in love.

Now, I'm honoured just to be around you. Truly. To see you every day through my own eyes. To breathe your air, marvel at what you do. You confuse me and fill me with wonder in equal measure. But
I've learnt that it's OK. Perfection isn't something you strive for, you've lived too much for that. Peace, yes, like for us all, is a goal. It's not easy. There are always bumps in the road.

You shine at dawn and shimmer at sunset. You are so beautiful I simply sit and stare, wherever I am. Even in your darkest moments, stars shine. They can't help it. It's a way for us to move on. Life is for living; we always have to carry on.

There is nothing about you I would change. Only to know you more. And every day, I do. Thank you, World: my world, our world. You are amazing and I love you.

Laura    

Photo Credit: futurepath.org 
The prompt this week over at The Queen Creative was that of a love letter.

We are told: Sometimes called a billet-doux, or a love letter, a love note is a personal letter to a loved one expressing affection.  The loved one does not necessarily have to be animate, human, alive, or known.

That was mine. Go HERE and read more. 

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Flash fiction - Children's Ward

Julia, over at Julia's Place, is feeling a bit melancholy this week. I don't think my 100WCGU story is going to cheer her up. Our prompt is ...but there was still enough light... Let me know what you think and go and read other entries here.

Children’s Ward

Do you remember how the nurses left us in darkness, but there was still enough light to play cards? The stars twinkled through the blinds that summer, adding to the flashes on the monitors. It was enough. Do you remember the bottles of ketchup hidden under the bed? Your face was pure joy as you ate up those banned chemicals on that organic stuff Mum brought in. Do you remember the last thing you said
to me? Do you? It was, “Open the window”. Not long after that you flew out, leaving cards and ketchup and me an only child. 

100 words

Flash fiction - The Break Up

Over at Studio30Plus there's a new prompt. Actually, that's a lie. There's two. You can choose one. Or both. They are HURT and BUTTER. Here's my effort:

The Break Up

On the other side of the door, she sat. I assumed she was sitting because that's what I had always done. I would wipe myself down the back of the bathroom door and stay with my face buried in the half-wet towels. What would a few more tears matter? They were always dry by morning.

Different house, different times, Diane. Focus. "Darling? You OK?" I kept my voice light, though I thought afterwards it made me sound as if I didn't know that, quite obviously, she wasn't all right.

"Go away." The two words a mother ignores again and again. I will never go away, my child. Please don't ever think that I will. I won't. One day, you will go away: but I will never leave you.

"Darling, open the door. Talk to me."

My daughter played the same game I had with my mother until she died. I had always wanted to tell her everything, be her best friend; but I tried to keep things back, have those teenage secrets. In the end, she always knew and I always told. But for a while I would pretend my life was all mine and only mine. Shannon was better at it than I was. She held everything so quiet and close to her, I would only find out days, even weeks later. And she'd then treat it as if it was ancient history and I was a pain for trawling backwards. I wanted one moment in the now. 

"Come on, Darling. You can't stay in there all night. You don't have to come downstairs, let's just go to your room. You don't have to tell me. Just come out."

I heard my daughter thinking about it as the muffled sobs fought their way back inside. There was a beautiful silence before the taps ran and, then, slowly, she opened the door.

That angel's face, blotched with the hurt of a young love that in such a short time will mean very little. I stepped forwards and wrapped her hunched and unhappy shoulders into my own being, wanting to push my heart into her chest and take out her shaken one. 

I didn't expect it, but she collapsed right there and then on the landing. She shuddered heaves of tears onto my cardigan and pressed her elbows into my hips. It felt wonderful. Not since her excitement of her cross country win in middle school had her touch been so meaningful.

Later, in bed, my husband said, "She'll have to have breakfast. She can't not eat and turn into the Turners' girl."

I looked at him and smiled. "I know. She will. It will pass."

"Your first broken heart isn't nothing, Di. But it's good she talked to you."

My face must have misted up for he put his book down, turned to me and said, "I think you quite enjoyed it really."

I did. Oh, I did. 









Saturday, 21 September 2013

Perfectly Me - approach-approach conflict in poetry

This week over at Prompts for the Promptless there's a conflict on the horizon. But don't worry, it's a one of those comforting conflicts where everything will turn our happily ever after. We think.

We are told:
Approach-approach conflict is the psychological conflict that results when a choice must be made between two desirable alternatives.

I've tried some poetry this week. It just spurted out. No conflict there, then. But I hope it captures the prompt.


Perfectly Me

Should I stay or should I go?
I don't know.

Staying is yellow and moonlit and beautifully strange.
Going is rusty adventures in daylight orange.
Staying is knowing, turning well-worn pages.
Going is jumping, leaping across new stages.

Staying is finding more.
Going is finding out.
Staying is being sure.
Going is wondering about.

Is it all or nothing or neither or both?
Is my decision final, or mirrors and smoke?

When I am happy as I am right now,
How can I walk away?
Yet over the fence is another rainbow
And more freedom to play.

Two halves of two wholes
That fit together perfectly.
All I must decide, or not,
Is which half is perfectly me. 

Check out other offerings over at The Queen Creative this week. Go. Or stay. Either way is OK.




Friday, 20 September 2013

Flash fiction - Patience


This week over at Julia's Place we've got a prompt which we're not allowed to use in our writing, but our piece has to signify it. That word is HARVEST. I was inspired by the many fields around where I live. Surely I am going to see this perfectly yellow sweetcorn in the local shops soon? Please..?

Patience

The sun burnt everything at the edges, sharpening nature’s outline. September with its autumn promise was trying to dull the effect, coating silhouettes in its brown hues, bordering fields in softer yellows. This way, the villagers would know it was time for their last days in the field. They always enjoyed the last crop: sweeter, full of summer. 


Millan ran along the rows of corn; she couldn’t smell it yet. Her father was impatient, but he would have to wait. It would be worth it. Her bare arms brushed her family’s income as she ran shouting, “Not yet! Not yet!”
100 words

Check out more writing at the 100WCGU by clicking below


Sunday, 15 September 2013

Onion: honne and tatemae

This morning I discovered For The Promptless which is dedicated to "sharing perspectives and expanding minds". My mind needs a little expanding today. I am putting all my CDs (and I have a lot of very old school CDs) on my computer in order to prepare my snazzy, new, green iPod with... well, all that old music. I am a CD-ripping monkey. My mind needs expanding.

We are told:
Honne is a Japanese noun referring to the behaviour and opinions someone truly believes in - often displayed with one’s closest confidants. It contrasts with the behaviour a person displays in public - called Tatemae. 

There was a man standing outside the train station. I didn't understand what he was saying because I didn't speak his language, but he was waving a book in his hand. He was shouting, violently, passionately, spit flying out of his mouth, arms flapping. He believed in what he was saying so much, he might have taken off at any moment.


I sat having tea with a friend of a friend of a friend. She spouted on about shopping and people and languages and children and travel. A lot of nonsense. I drank my tea and said nothing: the patient, absorbing ear, desperately wanting to find another wavelength.

The team had terrible ideas, but at least they were usable. More than our managers' ideas, which were stuffy, self-congratulating (for what?) and boring. It's not a dictatorship if you're allowed to answer back and protest. It feels like it when the sublime and ridiculous grace the pages of your work. It is not your work, but nobody knows that and they smile and say Good job!

I have been called argumentative recently, by my husband and my dad. I disagree (you knew that was coming, right?). I'm not argumentative per se; it's more that I simply have a different opinion. And I need to express it. These are two people I can do that with. Or is the cultural space of my parents' house a Honne-Tatemae zone, with carefully drawn invisible lines? Can my husband defer my Honne to the outside world and compare me to other mortals, just because he is the nicer person?


The Queen has to make a speech about the difficult year, pulling together as one nation, the bravery of troops, recovery. She really wants to throw the speech out of the window and tell everyone what a joy it was working with Daniel Craig and making the nation laugh. Her heart likes that.

On a small island nation that needs help, its leader stands before his people. For centuries they have misunderstood what they have to do. They have been lazy, relying on their neighbours, always turning with their hands out in front, palms up. It is time for action, control of their own destiny. He sees only one way of doing this. The army rolls in.

I peel an onion and it makes me cry. There are so many layers, each with their own tears. It is the onion that makes me cry.

Isn't it?


Read more at http://thequeencreative.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/forthepromptless-s-3-e-6-honne/






Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Flash fiction - Valley Girls Episode 4798

Greetings Trifectans and fellow readers. It's a perfect writing day today - grey and drizzly - and I thought it was time to post once more over at Trifecta. They give us one word, its third definition and 332 other words to write. Go over and have a read of the other entries. There are some brilliant writers over there: www.trifectawritingchallenge.com 

This week's prompt word is MASK:
3. a : a protective covering for the face
    b : gas mask
    c : a device covering the mouth and nose to facilitate inhalation
    d : a comparable device to prevent exhalation of infective material
    e : a cosmetic preparation for the skin of the face that produces a tightening effect as it dries

My effort is called Valley Girls Episode 4798.

Valley Girls, Episode 4798

The adverts arrived. That would have been 15 minutes, Doris decided. She tucked her thick, white nails under her chin and slowly, carefully, started to peel away. She wanted to keep the mask intact, like a peeled apple skin that winds back into the perfect fruit. 

Ralph glanced over and huffed. He felt giddy watching his wife taking off that thing – it made her a ridiculous mannequin, dead except for the eyes. She would usually have commented on Jean’s terrible behaviour in Valley Girls – Jean was always trying too hard – but Doris couldn’t speak. So Ralph had said something. It wasn’t right. He sighed. He didn’t like change.

Doris felt the flaky paper pull away. She hooked it around her jaw, up her cheeks. She imagined her wizened face being gently lifted away, leaving something wise and worn, but smooth and elegant. Valley Girls started again. She kept creeping her fingers underneath, keeping her old, ancient face whole. She listened to Jean from Valley Girls. She was behaving terribly again. Marcus the painter was never going be with her. She was being a fool. Poor Jean, suffering the same as every woman. Doris should be kinder. 

Ralph said, “Are you watching this or not?” His voice was low and faraway, childlike. He didn’t look at her. 

Doris laid her old face on her lap. It was creepy, staring at the dirt and little grey hairs. Doris patted her own face with her fingertips. Yes: plumper and firmer. Softer. She hadn’t expected that. She settled back smiling and finished watching Valley Girls. She didn’t comment on Jean’s silliness.

When the credits rolled, Ralph groaned out of his chair and shambled over to his wife. Already bent, he slid his glasses up his nose for inspection. Doris closed her eyes. 

“Well. You look exactly the same.”

Her eyes shot open. “No change at all? Oh, Ralph!”


Ralph shuffled towards the kitchen. “And that’s the way I loved you yesterday and will tomorrow. Tea?”


332 words


Monday, 9 September 2013

Flash Fiction - Señor Perito Moreno

There's a new prompt over at Julia's Place today for those of you after some flash fiction inspiration. You've got 100 words to play with and they have to include ...but where did the noise come from...

My own piece below is dedicated to a friend who saw her first glacier this week. She'll know who she is. I hope you enjoy and if you do or don't, comments welcome!

Señor Perito Moreno

In the silence that followed everything before, condors swayed above and the great turquoise grandpa reclined in front of us. We dared to breathe the biting air, bright with sunny crystals. The dark, mountainous arms of his rocking chair pointed to a world with even greater silence. His back rose into a cloud of history, born with his every passing inch. The silence was broken by a long, handsome groan. But where did the noise come from?

We watched his bones creak wickedly as he tried to get up, but crashed piece by piece into the calm, cyan waters below.


Glacier Perito Moreno, Argentina.

Glacier Grey, Chile.

Parc Nacional de los Glacieres, Argentina.
Please go to Julia's Place to read more writing challenge entries, or try it out yourself.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Strike, a little late

Moving house does two things. It makes you forget all about the other world - that virtual space you occupy. And it makes you wonder about the real space you've created around you. Why do I have so many mugs? How am I going to find a place for that? It's both refreshing and frustrating.

So, after moving to our house by the river in Wasserbillig, Luxembourg, and realising what a wonderful decision we made to live there now that we have a lovely new bed to watch the swans on the river from, Forest Bird is back. 

I've missed writing my flash fiction pieces, for Trifecta and Julia's Place. However, last Monday as I was waiting for my husband, parents and truck to arrive from England with all our things, I checked the week's prompt on my phone and set about writing something on my lap top, sitting on the window sill. I got about 80% of it down before they arrived and then the computer wasn't opened for another eight days. I finished it yesterday. 

Last week's prompt was turkey. The definition: three successive strikes in bowling.

Here is what I wrote. 

Dirty War

Act 2, Scene 3: Bar Wasserbillig, 1969.

Marta, older but still beautiful, is behind the bar. Wilhelm and Kristian are sitting at a small table. Stage right is an old jeux de quills. Wilhelm has just told a story. 

Kristian: [Laughing] Dear friend! I had forgotten that! Though I think you take advantage of my bad memory to make your stories end with you always winning. Isn’t it?
Wilhelm: Drink up. Let’s play. Once before my train.
Kristian: You’re going back? No! Stay! What, at this age, do we have to rush for? We must catch up. [Quieter and more serious] Properly.
Wilhelm: [Looking at Kristian] I know.  

Wilhelm goes to the bowling alley and starts putting the skittles in place. Marta looks at Kristian and smiles, raising her eyebrows towards Wilhelm as he struggles. Kristian nods, mouths thank you and goes to help Wilhelm. 

Kristian: Youngest first, am I right?
Wilhelm: Well then…

Wilhelm takes a ball and steps in front of his friend to bowl. It’s a strike. Marta claps and resets the skittles.

Kristian: As always! Beginner’s luck! 

Kristian takes a ball and does the same. He turns around celebrating.

Kristian: You have the pressure. Remember the last tournament of the war? 

Wilhelm smiles and throws. Another strike. 

Wilhelm: I do. Let’s see what you’ve got. You always surprised me somehow. [Whispers] Always. 

Kristian takes a ball and throws: no strike. 

Kristian: I tried…  He pats Wilhelm on the shoulder.

Wilhelm: I go for a goose.

Wilhelm makes another strike. Kristian claps loudly.

Kristian: You mean turkey.

Wilhelm: What? [He seems distracted and looks at his watch.] I am afraid I must go. It’s late and… Anja will be worried for me.

Kristian: Stay. They look intensely at each other.

Wilhelm: I… can’t.

Wilhelm bids farewell to Marta and Kristian follows him off stage left. You can hear short goodbyes. Kristian enters and sits on the first chair wearily.

Marta: Was that..?


Wilhelm: Yes. The love of my life. 


You can read other entries and winners from last week and check out this week's challenge by clicking here: