Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Extract from my incomplete novel.

A rough draft prologue for the novel I am working on.

The air inside the wooden tomb became thicker as the daylight grew stronger. All the day before and all that night, the door had remained locked. No longer did the prisoner scrap at the cracks in the wooden panels with her fingernails; there were hardly any nails left now anyway, just bloodied stumps, splintered and sore. Parched lips trembled feebly in a repeated prayer, silently mouthed over and over. If there was anyone listening, they weren't about to grant the inmate's wish. No one was coming to help. And no one was going to let it end.

               Footsteps. Panic gave the weak captive a tiny burst of energy and she opened her terrified eyes. No more! No more!

               The light cutting into the dank prison was suddenly blocked off. Through the cracks in the door a dark shadow could be seen. Grating and creaking followed. The prisoner made herself as small as she could, huddling in the furthest corner of the tiny cell, but it was nowhere near far enough. Oh, what she wouldn't give to be far away from here. But it was her fault. It was all her own fault. If only she...

               The door groaned deeply as it swung open to reveal the massive dark figure towering over the captive like a judge,  jury, and the executioner. Large leather strap in one hand, with the other covering his nose, the large man stared down on the girl before him with disgust and hatred.

               “Get out,” he commanded, his voice muffled by the hand defending his nostrils from the foul smell.

               He stepped back a few paces and waiting impatiently for the girl to move. But she couldn't find the strength to crawl forward, collapsing in a heap on the prison floor instead.

               “I said, get out!”

               A heavy foot came down upon her, thrusting her face first into the foul slush which covered the floor of the wooden cell. Some splashed up onto the trouser leg of the angry man, causing an outburst of curses directed at the girl. He bent down and grabbed a fistful of her lank, dirty, tangled mop of hair, yanking her out of the chamber with a force that lifted her clean off the floor. She was dumped on the grass with a thud, rolling over onto her side in pain, knees pulled in close to her chest and her head tucked in. She made little sound as the large man spat on her, wiping the hand that had touched her on the seat of his trousers, his face distorted with disgust.

               “Ya fool thing,” he yelled at her as he wrapped the belt around his hand. “Don't know why I ev'r agreed to take care of ya, aye.”

               But his words seemed strange and far off, as if the girl was underwater. The ground seemed to be moving, spinning almost, beneath her, and coloured spots were dancing before her eyes, even when shut. She began to retch, shaking from head to toe. She was going to die, she knew it. The young girl, empty and broken, had nothing more to give, no fight left in her aching body. As her retching stopped at last, she forced her eyes open, wanting to see the sun one more time before letting go of this world. A giant figure stood before her, not the evil man with the belt, but someone else. His long blonde hair fell over his shoulders, strangely braided with bright colours, and the sun he shielded her from created a halo around him. An angel, she thought wearily, come to take me away from this life at last. And with that, her small world collapsed in on itself, leaving her to be engulfed by the darkness.


Haunting - extract from incomplete poem

This short extract is from a much longer poem I began work on a while ago and never completed. Should I ever resume work on this poem, it would have thirteen stanzas and grow steadily darker. Reading this now, I am not sure it is worth my while completing.

She haunts me silently, as I lie in the dark night,

And in the shadows she watches me walk in the light,

Waiting for a dull, grey cloud to enter my bright day,

Until the time I can no longer keep her at bay.

She watches, cruelly laughing, as I try to grow,

So amusing it must be when something you know

Others are oblivious to, yet not her, or me,

A truth of our lives that stops me from being free.

So she is always laughing, even when tears,

Find a way to her eyes, born of anger, and fears.

She haunts me like the ghastly ghost I know she is not.

She is not spirit left behind from body of rot.

Yet she still haunts me still, day and night, never to be forgot.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Rainbow - a short story

Written in March 2009, this was my first attempt at flash fiction. I was set a limit of 500 words and managed to write this in just 299. Of course, only I know the character's full story, and all I will say is that it could never be told in under 500 words.

Sadness scarred her plain features and etched dark shadows beneath her wet eyes. Down her colourless cheek a single tear ran, before being evaporated by the heat of the sun shining through the dirty glass. As if sensing her mood, it began to drizzle outside. The light rain that danced down the window was a humourless parody of the woman's grief-stricken face.

            The coach was full of passengers all going somewhere, each with his or her own story to tell and life to lead. No one noticed the young woman with her head resting on the window pane. Everyone was too busy with thoughts and conversations to see that while her moist eyes stared outward, her mind was turned inwardly, blinding her from the present with memories of the past. If someone had taken the time to stop and look at her, they would wonder why she looked so sad, so lost. The curiosity that is so innate to us all would only last a moment. They would forget her, just like he would. But his rejection had stung her, and she would remember it for a long time. She had once thought that she was hardened beyond emotion and pain by the life she had led, but the past had come back to haunt her, made her feel again, and broke her still fragile heart. He had made her have hope again, and hope was so cruel. Yet, without hope, she had nothing. The drizzle caught in the sunlight and a rainbow spanned the grey-blue sky. So beautiful, so fleeting. It wasn't solid, not something you could touch, but it was real...

            Maybe there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, she thought, but I guess I'll have to climb it to find out.

Best Friends - a short story

Written in March 2010. Wordy and rambling as I am, I struggle to keep to word limits or avoid over doing description, so a writer friend suggested I practice writing short stories. After a few attempts at flash fiction (with a 500 word limit) I ended up writing this randomly one night. It certainly is not a fantastic bit of fiction, but I have decided to share it nevertheless.

Best Friends
“Why has it taken us so long to do this?! We haven't just chilled out and had a catch up in so long!” she exclaimed collapsing on the sofa smiling at her old friend.

            “I know,” he replied. “I guess we just became so busy... life got in the way of living!”

            “Life should never get in the way of living! We have to do this more. Just meet up, relax, talk about old times and forget the world. For a couple of hours, we can be the only two people alive. That's how it used to be, right? Me and you; no-one else got a look in.”

            “I know, it was fun. But I guess back then...”

            “What is with all your guesses?! Stop guessing and start knowing what you want!”

            He rested his tilted head on his hand and gazed at her for a moment. He knew that face so well. The crooked smile. The tiny gap between her front teeth. The faded scar near her left ear. The freckles on her nose which only showed up properly in the sun. All his life he had know that face, that laugh, the twinkle in those eyes. She had been his best friend for so long, yet they barely saw one another anymore

            “Can you guess what I want?”

            The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end under his intense gaze. A cold finger ran down her spine as she felt her blood warm. His deep brown eyes had hers locked in place, drowning in a dark chocolate pool of something that could only be called Desire. Her stomach tightened as he inched closer to her.

            “I want,” he murmured quietly, “to...”

            She bite her lip as he moved up the sofa. He was close enough for her to feel the warmth radiating off his smooth, tanned skin.

            “...tickle you.”


            Before she could register it, he was bent over her, tickling her ribs in just the right spot to have her crippled. An involuntary scream issued itself as her body automatically tightened up to protect itself against the onslaught.

            “Ahhhhhhheeeeeeeee,” she screeched, laughing as she tried to fend him off. “Yooooouuuu giiiiit!”

            They laughed and yelled as the play fighting continued. Finally, laughing too hard at her high-pitched yelps, he backed off to catch his breath. As her body unfroze from its protective tension, she launched herself at her unsuspecting friend. Grabbing the only cushion that hadn't been tossed to the floor in the scuffle, she started to beat him with it.

            “Ahhhh! No fair!” he cried as she forced him back against the arm of the sofa. “No weapons allowed!”

            They both giggled and panted as he tried to grab the cushion from her hands. Holding it out of his reach, she used her body to pin him down. Finally, her laughing became so hard that she gave up and collapsed upon his chest gasping for air. Shaking with his own chuckles, he wrapped his arms around her and stretched himself out upon the dishevelled sofa.

            “Truce!” he mumbled into her cascade of curls as she rested her head on his shoulder.

            Her hair smelt of strawberries. Had it always smelt of strawberries? Without realising it he was burying his face in her auburn locks and drawing in deep breaths of the fruit scented hair. In her attempt to pin him down, she had straddled him, and he now felt her toned thighs locked around his own, her long, hot body pressing down. His arms were loosely encircling her, his hands resting on the middle of her back. Somehow, her tee-shirt had risen up, so that the little finger of his left hand was touching her supple skin. Should he? He couldn't. He did. That hand, as if with a life of its own, slowly moved down her spine so that it rested upon that bare, warm skin.

            She felt the change in his body, the tension building as his hand slipped down her back. His touch was so soft and gentle, yet it seemed to burn her deeply. Without realising it, she curved her spine slightly, thrusting her body into his. She felt his body's response. Her heart started to race as this time she shifted her weight in a more deliberate fashion. She felt him straining against her. Pressing herself against him hard, she reached out for him as his hands slid down her body and gripped her pert bottom, pulling her to him with a deep hunger. Finally she raised her head and looked down upon him. His brown eyes were burning now with a hot passion. He moistened his lips as he stared up at her wanton gaze.

            The mobile was vibrating for a few moments before either of them noticed. Her lips looked so juicy, so red. Phone? Phone. He looked wildly around and saw his mobile sat on the coffee table next to the old photos she had got out earlier for them to laugh over. School pictures. Baby pictures. All the memories from a childhood long gone. Phone. Grabbing it, he looked up at that familiar face once more.

            “It's the wife. I had better take it."

By Request of the Deceased - a poem

I can't remember off the top of my head when this poem was written, sometime around 2002/3 I would estimate. At the time I wrote this, I had never come across the immortal verse "Do not stand at my grave" which later became one of my all-time favourite poems, but this seems rather unbelievable now I read this as the similarities are so strong. I still agree with the concept of this poem and would love my own funeral to be filled with laughter and anecdotes instead of soberity and tradition.

By Request of The Deceased…


Do not weep when I’m not there,

Shed no tears to show you care,

For I will always be with you,

During everything that you do.

Do not be afraid to speak my name.

Do not change, carry on the same.

For I am there, in your heart and mind,

I know I’ll never be left behind,

Do not forsake your daily pleasures.

May your years be full of treasures.

Do not grief when I am gone,

And may you live well and long.

Enjoy each minute of every day,

Don’t let my departure take that away.

Damned be those who dare wear black,

For colour is one thing I did not lack.

Do not wear a face like someone has died,

Remember that I had some pride!

Be merry, be happy, and be rejoiced,

Dab those eyes that dare be moist.

I was haunted by many fears,

And I broke down in floods of tears,

Now it’s over, so blessed be,

Those of you who laugh with me.

Why? - a poem

Written in 1999, this poem was one of the first I ever wrote of my own free will. It may even have been the very first! I wrote it when I was eleven years old and in my first year of secondary school. We were studying WW2 and reading the moving story Goodnight Mister Tom (which still reduces me to tears fourteen years later), and these studies inspired this poem. I tampered with it a little when I was about 13-14, but only really changed the fourth stanza. I don't know what made me put it in capital letters, but it has been that way for so long that I have chosen to leave it be. This poem was published in an anthology called Flight of Fancy around 2005/6.


























A cautious toe into the pool...

It has been so long since I did this last, and for some reason the idea of blogging again makes me nervous! A few years ago, I was fairly confident about my writing and wanted to share it in a public domain. And so, I began blogging short stories, poems and extracts from longer stories, including my elusive "novel" (which is a pipe-dream and unlikely to ever get finished at this rate). I received good feedback and encourage, providing a much needed boost in my writing-related self-esteem. However, when I began my training as an English teacher, my tutors warned us of the dangers of allowing too much private information to be accessible to our students. After a long, hard think about how much I was willing to let my future pupils know about myself, I decided to delete my blog which contained poems of a personal nature.

A few months into my Initial Teacher Training, I decided that the education system suited me much better when I was a lazy A grade student. I was never going to be an A grade teacher, for many reasons. I had planned to be a teacher since the age of 16, so changing my plans and quitting my ITT was a huge decision and left my world a bit topsy-turvy. I felt like a failure. I guess that is largely why I struggled to reconnect with my love of writing, thus never re-establishing my blog. I dabbled with writing book reviews, but only recently have words began to flow in me in the way they once did.

My life is still in a dubious place with no proper career or any real plans, but in a way that helps; writing is escapism from the daunting prospect of a big, wide, world that I haven't quite found my place in. So, while I try and find my footing, I am going to take the plunge and share some writing again. Much of it will be old stuff, dating back to as early as 1999 when I began writing poems aged 11. But some of it will be fresh and in progress. Whatever it is, it feels right.