Why do I write? Well…

Posted in response to the Writing 101 1st day prompt of ‘Why do I write’:

… there is no one reason why I write.  In fact, I really don’t think about the ‘reason’, I just do it.  But now I’m being forced into examining my motives they are clearly quite complex.

For a start, I do like the feel of scrawling pencil on paper, as well as my thoughts tumbling out and becoming formed through my fingers via a keyboard. Also, I like to play with words, constructing sentences and then improving, changing, and finding new ways of expressing them. I spend hours consulting dictionary and thesaurus until I’m satisfied that my words are as fluid and beautiful as I can make them (of course, they are still never quite good enough though!).

I can be the ‘real’ me…. or someone else, depending on my mood.  It certainly gives me the opportunity to express my dark side (in fact, when I took a creative writing course my tutor mentioned that the darkness suited me!) I can write characters that I’d like to know, or individuals who are clearly bonkers.  I can exorcise nightmares by turning them into stories, or write poems based on pretty dreams. Occasionally, I write things based on episodes in my life and never tell anyone that there is truth in there. Or I can vent, and moan, or share silliness, or adventures.  I can gossip or advise, be sensitive or crass. The world, as they say, is my lobster (yep, I know it’s oyster, but I changed it… yeah, I can do that too!)

I guess I benefit in many ways.  Writing is a creative outlet that I can immerse myself in, abandoning all other thoughts and worries. In that sense it ticks the ‘mindfulness’ box that we hear so much about these days, and in its way it is meditative and calming.

My question then, is not why I write, but why wouldn’t I?

It’s Magic

In response to the writing 101 challenge to write a longform piece about ‘your most treasured possession’.

I used to think that the first thing I would rescue, if there was a fire in the house, would be photographs.  They are irreplaceable reminders of the good times.  Weddings, births, holidays, Christmas’s, days out.  The past is all there, carefully arranged in photo albums, or stored higgledy piggledy in dusty shoeboxes.  Now, however, I’ve scanned the best of the older ones, and all the more recent ones are digital anyway, so they are all safely waiting on the cloud ready for me to look at whenever, and wherever I please.

So I had to think hard about what my most treasured possession is now.  At one time it might have been some jewellery that had belonged to my nan.  I wore the necklace on my wedding day.  It was just costume jewellery, not even gold, but it was a row of mother of pearl circles that she wore often, and when I looked at it I was reminded of cuddles and lavender smells.  That’s gone now though. Stolen the first time we were burgled, along with every other piece of jewellery I possessed at the time.

Not only did they take my stuff, but they ransacked the kids rooms and took all the plastic, and even homemade, bits and pieces that they had collected, every bit of electrical equipment (even the phone – no mobiles at the time so I couldn’t ring the police even). I was devastated, and the sense of injustice remains.  I’ve also been left with a feeling of insecurity in my own home which will never go away, or even recede, despite all the double locks and alarms in the world.  Thanks for that burglers.

However, I do have something to thank the miserable toadys for. I no longer invest such emotional attachment to things. I have realised that life goes on even if you’re favourite trinket goes missing. Despite my insecurities, my fear these days is not of losing goods and chattels, but of the house being trashed, or being bopped over the head, or the dog’s (and the fishes – please don’t wee in the pond) wellbeing.  Whilst I don’t want them to pinch my stuff, after all, we’ve worked hard for that and those lowlifes don’t deserve it, it really is all about my family’s personal safety these days.

My love of technology is well documented.  I am gadget woman.  Many years ago now, my husband bought me an ipod for Christmas.  I cried with excitement and joy.  Likewise, when my company presented me with my first iphone, I got embarrassingly over-excited and yes, a bit blubbery. I am one of those saddos that likes shiny new toys.  I know, it’s undignified, what can I say?

I was the first amongst my friends and family to own a tablet (Ipad of course! p.s. Dear Apple, do I get a free upgrade for the advertising??).  Again, it was my husband who forked out for it as a Christmas present.  I had to order it myself though because he is a technophobe.  Hates it all.  Mind you, he’s a bit better now and I think secretly enjoys using his ipad (course I eventually bought him one – gave me something new to play with).  When I ordered mine the Apple store was offering free engraving so I chose for him to write something gooey and lovey dovey on the back as well as ‘Christmas 2011’.

You’d think from all this I would be about to say ‘my most treasured possession is my ipad’.  Well, those that know me might very well think that is the case. My ipad and my phone go everywhere with me.  I’ve often tried to explain to unbelievers why I love it so much

‘What do you use it for’ they ask

And I set off on a list as long as your arm; l listen to music; I keep up to date with the news; I look at the weather forecast; I play games; I use online banking; I keep in touch with my friends and family; I read books and blogs;  I shop; It’s a dictionary and theasaurus; a compass; it tells me about the traffic when I’m travelling; I can visit other places using google earth; there’s a map of the stars; a calculator; my address book; my calendar; a camera; my photos…. Well that’s for starters, you get the picture, and I always forget something or other anyway.

‘it would drive me mad, all that stuff’ they say

‘Ah, but that’s the beauty of it, you can use it how you want to. You can download the apps that you want.  You don’t need all that stuff.’ Let’s face it, nobody needs Candy Crush Saga or Bejewelled Blitz.  And though it pains me to say it, I suppose nobody really actually needs Facebook.

So you see, my ipad is a treasured possession. But when I think about it, it’s not my most treasured possession.

Now, you might be thinking it’s my family.  But then you can’t call them possessions.

‘I have daughters’ doesn’t mean they belong to me. They are their own people. Even as children we shouldn’t view them as belongings, though undoubtedly some people do.  For instance, I had a colleague who told me that if she wanted anything in the evenings, a glass of wine, a sandwich etc, she always made her son get it for her rather than hauling herself from the sofa to go to the kitchen. She argued that she provided for him so the least he could do was to wait on her hand and foot, slavelike. It was not a happy relationship though, and quite rightly in my opinion, he rebelled.

Without a doubt, my children are the most treasured people in my life.  I am tempted to write something gooey about the happiness they bring me. How I would be nothing without them in my life, but I’ll spare you, and them.  Suffice it to say, even though they now live great distances from me they continue to make me smile every single time I think of them (unless I’m going through a worrying about them patch, in which case I get wrinkles in my forehead) and that is practically all the time.

I should of course mention my husband.  Can’t leave him out.  He is there, walking beside me, encouraging me, making me snort with laughter, making me cross occasionally, making me delicious food, making my world better.  Where would I be without him?

It is he who has encouraged me to write.  Pushes me in fact. Tells me when it’s good and when it’s a bit pants.  Tells me when it gets just a bit too ‘dark’ as it, bafflingly, so often does.  Tells me how proud he is that I’m putting it ‘out there’.

And now we come to the crux:  Out there.  The Internet. The World Wide Web.  The Cloud.

This is what I couldn’t do without. Having that connection is something I truly treasure.

You see, the internet was born quite late in my life, so I do remember the world without it. I remember life before Windows. I remember my first ever email. The beep beep beep of the dial up connection and frustration when you couldn’t get through. I can remember life before Google and Amazon, and Ebay, and Paypal.  Makes me feel old. (note to self…you are!)

What I mean is, I really appreciate it. The connectivity of it. I can manage without my ipad, or iphone, or laptop. There are always others. Upgrades even. New ones to buy or borrow. They would be nothing without the connectivity though. I know how I feel when we have a power cut (all too often) and there’s no wifi for a couple of hours.  It’s like my arm has been cut off.

Twenty one years ago we moved North, away from my family, and since my daughters left home, my husband and I are alone, apart from friends, in this neck of the woods.  The internet provides a means of keeping in touch that no postal or telephone system could.  Communication is instantaneous.  Now, I am even able to facetime with my mother, who at 92 is using her ipad to email and text, play soduku and word games, and play solitaire.  She lives alone and it has been a revelation to her. Given her a new lease of life (apart from when it goes pear shaped sometimes which knocks another couple of days off her I think!).  Facetimes with her are hilarious too. She keeps forgetting to hold the ipad up, so most of the time I can only see the top of her head, but it gives us both something to chuckle over.

Without the Internet I would never have been brave enough to try and publish anything. Now though, thanks to WordPress and PoetrySoup, my writing is reaching far corners of the world. Something I could never have envisaged when I started writing stories years ago.

I’m more intelligent too…well, appear more intelligent.  I see news as it happens. I feel well informed about current events, and can read opinions from all sides thanks to the likes of Twitter.  I read more because books are cheaper, free even, and appear on my devices instantly (yes, of course I’ve got a kindle). It’s modern day magic.

Yes, sad but true, this is the thing I’d be lost without. The ability to reach my family, friends and the rest of the big wide world from the sofa, and to see and share my documents, photos and projects wherever I might be.

So thank you all you clever people out there who know how it works.  I don’t need to know.  I am just a grateful user.

Freewriting Hell

Today’s writing 101 challenge was to do a ‘freewrite’ of 400 words.  That is to say, put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard in my case) and just write (type!). Let the words flow, don’t stop, don’t punctuate.  You can see I’ve failed in both of those. I did stop, abruptly, at 400 words though, which probably seems weird for the average reader!  I’m posting this because I don’t want to wuss out of the challenge, but it grieves me.  It’s not what I want on my blog. It’s just rambling.Not for public consumption. It’s coming down as soon as this event finishes.  I really wouldn’t bother to read it if I were you!

‘Where is my brain today?  I am trying to freewrite and yet I keep encountering obstacles.  I think it’s the full stops. My brain comes to a full stop. Nothing is in it, just a vacant echoey space.  Usually it’s full of words like ‘what shall I get for tea’; I’m really tired; I should really do some housework..you know, that sort of thing. But today nothing is tumbling out.  I am of course, tired.  Always tired.  Must be my age.  Got a bit of a headache too.  Oh goodness, I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I just wrote 232 more words and deleted them because I didn’t like where it was taking me.  I know I’m not supposed to do that. Heck, I’m not supposed to punctuate either. What a rebel! Actually, it’s probably the nearest I’ve ever come to being a rebel.  I’ve always conformed, happy to stick by the rules.  Boring really I guess. I do like a frisson of excitement sometimes though. Like rollercoasters.  Like zip wiring. Like paragliding.  Only did that once, but it was brilliant.  Flying high above the sea, being pulled along by the little speedboat below.  I could just see my husband, his face squinting up at me, looking terrified.  He doesn’t like heights and wouldn’t dream of doing it.  He didn’t like the zipwiring much either, but to his credit, he did do it with me. Actually, a couple of times.  The best time though was in Costa Rica zipping above the forest. Wheeee…. I screeched….aaargghhh…he screamed.  Costa Rica was a brilliant place altogether. Several different ecosystems. Three different types of forest. Lets see if I can remember… Rain Forest, Cloud Forest and, and…. Errmmm… Dry forest.  I loved the cloud forest best I think.  We stayed in a beautiful lodge and it was really cloudy. Bit chilly too.  It made the surrounding forest seem eerie and quiet. Well apart from the noises. (well, that sounds stupid on paper!!) Animal noises I mean.  There were so many birds.  All sorts, and the lodge was dotted with feeders where I could have spent all day watching the humming birds visiting.  Yep, Costa Rica was great, but that was a few years ago now. We like to travel and recently visited Southern India. Kerala to be precise.  It’s a very beautiful part of the country. Less manic than some of the Northern cities that we visited……’

Neighbourhood Watch

Today’s writing 101 challenge –  complete the following story from the perspective of a 12 year old boy watching from across the street:

‘The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.’

Ha! Some excitement ‘round this boring hole at last.  Looks like they’ve come for the old bag.  The cops.

Course, dunno if it’s cops.  Might be. Some bloke anyways. Hope it is a cop, perhaps he’ll shoot her. BANG.  Ha! Old bag.  That’ll teach her.

Wish mum hadn’t locked me wheels up.  Can’t go ‘round park without me wheels. Mum’s an ol’ bag too. I should tell the cops ‘bout her.  Taking my stuff away.  So what if I knocked that kid over? He bloody deserved it.  Little git.

Looks like there’s a bit of a bust up o’er there at old Pauley’s.  She’s got ‘er broom out.  Wonder if she’s threatening to clout that bloke with it like she did when me and Jack Sproggett rode us wheels o’er her manky old bit of grass?

It was that ‘orrible year 11 kid, Tommy Murch’s, fault. He bet us we wouldn’t.

‘go on.  Bet yer daren’t….. twinnies’ the git had said, all sarcastic like.  I hated it when anyone called us ‘twinnies’.  We’re not even bloody brothers. Ok, we look a bit alike, Jack being a ging like me.  But I’m bigger. We ‘ad a armwrestle t’other day and I beat ‘im dead good. Weedy little git.

An’ he’s got spots.  A biggun right on ‘is chin.  Watched him squeeze it ‘til it popped and white goo came out all over is ‘ands. I dared ‘im to lick it off, but he wouldn’t. Wuss.

That broom ain’t helping. That bloke’s not moving anywhere.

Oooh… the cops have come, they’ve even got their lights flashing and their woowoos going. Jack’ll be sick he missed this.

Oh boring. The cops are trying to calm the old bag down. No guns or anythin’. Looks like they’re trying to sweet talk her. Perhaps it’s that good cop/bad cop thing. Perhaps one of ’em’ll bash ‘er in a minute.  She could do with a bashing. She’s been a bit weird since the man died.  That was dead good that was.  I saw the coffin and everythin’.  Mum said he’d been ‘laid out’ in the front room.  Me and Jack went over to see if we could see ‘im through the front room window when nobody was about.  Couldn’t see anything through the ruddy net curtains though. Bit of a swizz.

Crikey, a van’s turned up.  Like bleedin’ Picadilly Circus down our road s’afternoon.  Bloody hell…they’re only putting her disgusting ol’ furniture in it. Looks as old as she is. She’s crying like a baby.  Bloody baby. Stupid old bag.

Wonder what’s for tea.

eeeekkk…

It’s easy to write about my greatest fear.  Everyone knows what it is. I’ve written about it in great detail on my blog before.  It’s much harder though to write in a different style as per the writing 101 challenge suggests today. I’ll give it a go.

Spiders, their creepy crawliness, and legginess, and scuttering. Their black, still, gaze as they spread their legs, clinging, against the laws of physics, to the ceiling.  I can’t deal with them like a normal person does, I go too clammy and heartbeaty. I couldn’t squish one. Apart from being too frozen with fear, I can’t squish anything.  I don’t like killing things, even things I don’t like.  Occasionally, if it’s the right sort and not too big, I can save one, using a spider catcher at arms length.  I tip them out at the end of the garden so that they can’t run straight back in.  Sometimes, I’ve been known to spin them round in the contraption so they lose their bearings, just to make sure they don’t head back to make their home in my home again.

I hear that those ruddy great ones that catch your eye as they run across the living room floor in the evenings are always males looking for a partner. It doesn’t make me love them more.

Writing this is freaking me out.  I keep looking around, quite sure I’m being observed by a many eyed monster hiding in a corner, waiting to jump out at me when I’m least expecting it.  So I’m going to stop.  You’ve got the gist. I don’t like ‘em.  Big or small. Long legged or fat bodied.

I’m Kaye and I fear spiders.

Recovered

The following short story was written as part of the writing 101 challenge.  It is the third part of a trilogy Lost and Found being the first two parts.

The bloke from the gym delivered it.  He was a big grim faced bloke.  One of those who was probably grim faced all the time not just when delivering dead men’s leavings.  He said it was the stuff out of your locker.  That they were sorry for the delay, they hadn’t realised…  Of course, it was my fault.  I forgot to tell them.  Well there was so much to sort out. Insurances, banks, will.

It’s surprising really.  After all, you spent so much time at the gym honing that glistening body to perfection, you’d think it would be one of the first things I thought of.  But anyway, it’s sorted now.  Membership cancelled, bag of locker contents duly returned in three Morrison’s carrier bags.

I didn’t even know you kept stuff there.  I have to say it all smelt a bit rank. In one of the bags was a blue towel, that still felt slightly damp.  It had black mould growing in its folds. Another bag held a pair of your trainers.  Perfectly white still, like you hadn’t run anywhere in them.  They are wrapped in the white vest that accentuated your tan like nothing else did.  Come to think of it, you were always tanned. How come?  Not the sunbeds surely?

The other bag held bits and bobs.  A half empty packet of chewing gum; A sweat stained wrist band; Ten pounds twenty in cash; The photograph of us together on the beach that some poor stranger was commandeered into taking.  We’re both throwing our heads back laughing ‘cos the man’s bald head was sunburnt to a crisp.  It’s not very flattering of either of us, but I’m glad it’s the one you chose to keep in the locker. Happier times.

At the bottom of the bag I found two other photographs. Both of the same blond and curvy woman. The sort of woman you professed to detest.  You hated it if I wore too much make-up or revealing clothes.  You said you liked a woman with some decorum.

In the first photo she’s standing against some bit of gym equipment, possibly a cross-trainer.  Leaning against it, her long legs brown and bare, and trainer clad feet crossed at the ankles.  She’s wearing very short grey shorts, and a shocking pink top.  Her head is tilted back, lengthening her throat. You can just see the blond mane curling down her back. In her left hand she’s holding a bottle of water, while her right arm is draped over the machine in that casual elegance that always eludes me.

The second picture is a close up of her.  I can see her features clearly. No bruises. Fat ruby lips, upturned nose, too far apart eyes.  She’s pouting and looking up at the camera in a ghastly parody of Princess Diana looking innocent.  Innocent this girl is not.  There’s a scrawled telephone number written on the back in some dark pencil, I suspected eyeliner, but can’t be sure.  No name though, so I gave her a name.  Jezebel.

The dust had settled a bit.  Bruises, sores and soul healed, and I was ready for a new challenge.  Seeing those pictures was the catalyst that started me on the keep fit regime, so I joined the gym.

I’d been a couple of times before I bumped into Jezebel.  Literally. I nearly bounced off her enhanced boobs as she turned the corner at precisely the same time as I turned from the opposite direction.  She smiled and said sorry.  I looked her in the eye and asked brusquely

‘Do you know who I am?’

‘Err..no, should I?’ she said in an unmistakably Brummie accent.

What can I say, I was flustered. Perhaps I should have just said I was your partner, see if there was any reaction, but my mind had gone into melt down, stymied by her guileless smile, so I just mumbled something like

‘mm.. well… maybe not.’

She, understandably, looked a bit confused (she looked like the sort who was easily confused anyway to be honest) as I brushed past her and hurriedly went and shut myself in the nearest loo to think it through.

I was angry. Angry at her.  Angry at you.  Angry at myself. Hurt and humiliated.

I’d confront her.  That’s what I’d do. Grab her glossy locks and pull her off whatever she was on and find out what she was up to with you. I’d slap her, punch and kick her just like you did to me. I’d push her over and see her blood run. I thought about how it would make her hair sticky and red.  How those spider lashed blue eyes would roll back in her head.  I could picture it.

She’d look like you did the day I fought back.  A rag doll. Limp and lifeless.

Suddenly I recognised your jealousy reflected in my eyes, green and fizzing with danger.  I appalled myself.

I hadn’t thought this through.  I hadn’t even got any proof of infidelity. Maybe he knew her before he knew me.  Maybe she was a relative, cousin perhaps. And so what if you’d had a fling. You’re nothing but dust and memories and there’s nothing I can do to change the past.

I left the gym and have never been back.  To this day I don’t know who she was.  What she meant to you. If you treated her better than you treated me.  I don’t want to know.  You still had my picture in your locker.  You were still mine when I killed you.

Tell Father Christmas not to bother

October, and already the shops are filling with Christmas ‘cheer’.  For the first time this year though, for us, Christmas is cancelled.

Now, I’ve often thought about cancelling it before. For a start, there’s the hassle of Christmas shopping.  Fighting through hoards of harassed people to find gifts that you know will be gratefully received, but will probably be stuck at the back of the recipients cupboard for all eternity. The queuing to pay, only to eventually be served by thoroughly cheesed off staff who have had their brains fried by the constant loop of ‘Jingle Bells’, and ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’. Frankly, you’ve only been in the shop for ten minutes and you would willing smash the damn tannoy yourself.

Then there’s the long heated discussions about who is going where, and when.  Which mum is coming to us this year? When are we going to see brothers/ sisters/nieces/nephews… ?? Are they coming to us or should we go to them?  Who’s staying over? Will they want lunch the next day as well??

Once decided, there is the happy task of food/drink shopping.  You park in the one spot left in the supermarket car park. The little one.  Next to the bollard that you scrape as you pull in.

You get a trolley with wonky wheels that insist on going in the opposite direction that you want to, which makes you swear loudly, turning heads and forcing mothers to cover their children’s ears. The supermarket is packed with people all standing chatting in front of the aisles that you want to go down. The shop has run out of just about everything you’d planned to buy, and you know you’ll have to repeat the visit again before the big day. Yet still you end up paying over a hundred quid and having a trolley load big enough to feed an army, and somehow you’re going to have to find room for it all in the cupboards when you get home.

You’ll guess I’ve never been a big fan of the run-up, but I do love Christmas eve, when the wrapping is finished, the turkey is ready for popping in the oven the next day, and we sit down to watch ‘Carols from Kings’ with a glass of sherry.

I love the morning itself often dragging everyone else out of bed early.  Even when my daughters were young, they were never ones for getting up at the crack of dawn it was always me waking them

‘lets go and see if Father Christmas has been!’

He always had.

The smell of Christmas dinner cooking while we ate mince pies and drank Bucks Fizz. Playing with the daft games.  Eating chocolates.  Lighting the Christmas pudding with Brandy.  Falling asleep in the afternoon.  Eating some more.  Drinking some more. Playing raucous board games ‘til two in the morning.

Yes, overall, I pretty much enjoy the actual event.

But as I said, this year, for the very first time, Christmas is cancelled.

Our doctor daughters have so far been lucky with their shifts and have always managed to come home for Christmas.  This year though, it’s their turn to work, one has to do a long shift on Christmas day and the other on Boxing day (though they live and work at opposite ends of the country – just an unfortunate coincidence!).  So me and my husband will be on our own.  For one reason or another, we won’t be seeing any other family either.  It will be very weird.

Of course, we’ll try and get together at some time, either before or after the ‘big day’, and I’m determined that ‘our christmas’ will be exactly the same as everyone else’s whether it fall on the  1st December or the 1st January.   I’ll still have to do the shopping and the wrapping. We’ll still have the tree, and the presents and the turkey, and it will still be brilliant.  And I keep telling myself it won’t matter when we do it, as long as we’re all together at some point.

But secretly, whilst being really, really proud of my hardworking daughters, I’m still very sad that I’m having to write to Father Christmas and tell him not to bother to come on the 24th!

Written as part of the Writing 101 challenge – ‘think about an event you have attended and loved and you’re told it will be cancelled – your voice will find you’.

Dear writing 101 pixies

Today you asked me to pick up a book, turn to page 29, see what word jumps out at me, and write a letter using the word as inspiration.  Now, I’ve got lots of books, I could’ve chosen any… history, plays, novels, poetry, even creative writing tomes, but today the writing gods led my hand to Marina Lewycka’s ‘We are all made of glue’ (one of my favs… if you haven’t read it, do!).

I’ve had a rough count of the words, and there’s around about 350 on that page, and do you know which one took my eye first?  Well, do you?

‘Hard’

‘Now that’s fates hand working if ever I saw it’, I thought.

To be honest, it made me chuckle.  Of all those words that could have leapt from the page ‘hard’ seemed the most apt for a writing 101 challenge.  Not that, generally, I’ve found the pieces hard to write.  On the contrary, as each day and challenge passes, generally I find the ideas are forming quicker and the words are spilling from my keyboard in a smoother stream.

But it is hard sometimes to find the time.  Even me, in my retired state finds it hard to fit writing in every day.  Something has to give. So the housework doesn’t get done, or we get in to an unmade bed at night, or we have a quick, thrown-together-with-left-overs dinner in the evening.

Sometimes, I look at the challenge that arrives in my inbox first thing in the morning, and sigh heavily.

‘Phew, I could do with giving it a rest today’ but nonetheless, I see all the others in the commons writing brilliant stuff, and know I need to keep up.

The other thing, that I am truly finding hard, is the change that’s taking place on my blog. Up until recently, all I had posted was ramblings and rants based around my chaotic life.  Not so long ago, I took the plunge and diversified into adding some photos and poetry (that was very hard.  I had to suck my teeth and take the plunge – glad I did though, nothing but nice comments about it so far, and met some brilliant new followers).  And now, since taking up your challenge, I have been writing fiction and sticking it up on the blog.

I’ve always written short stories.  I like writing them, and think they’re generally ok.  But they weren’t really for public consumption.  Now though, everyone is getting to see the warped contours of my imagination.  Again, nothing but complimentary comments, but at least one person was worried that one of them was non-fiction. For the record…no, I haven’t murdered anyone!

The hardest thing is seeing how my precious blog is changing. Morphing into something it wasn’t supposed to be.  I’m publishing things on there that I wouldn’t have dreamed of sharing before starting this course.  I look at the home page and hope that people are not just reading the first post, but having a look around to see who I really am.

Ok, hopefully you’ve got the gist. I’m finding writing 101 hard in all sorts of ways. Nonetheless I’m loving it.  Yes, it’s hard to go straight to my computer and start tapping away first thing, but my head is now brimming with ideas and I can’t wait to get them down on the page.  Yes, it’s hard to see my blog growing up. But it is becoming varied, and with any luck, more interesting. I’ve certainly gained lots more followers since starting, and have had some lovely comments.

So thank you pixies. You’ve made me realise that my writing really does benefit  from daily practice, and that with a simple prompt my mind can fly. That if I’m brave enough to share all of it, I’ve got friends out there who will comment and give some constructive criticism where necessary.  It’s been an enormous boost to my confidence, and motivation.

Now I feel empowered. If I keep at it I feel sure my blog will grow and blossom, and it’s all thanks to you.

Best wishes

Kaye

Found

Entering the mausoleum that was once our home I smell you immediately. I’ve only been away for a while and yet your animal scent has grown and blossomed in the rooms like you are still here.

You are not.  I know that.  I saw the coffin wheel away behind the curtains and the smoke curling from the crematorium chimney.  I can feel the hole you have left in the universe.

‘How sad’ they said ‘too young’ and they put their arms around me while I tried to grieve.

It wasn’t easy, the funeral. I wonder if you were watching from wherever you are now. You are not an angel that’s for sure.  It was odd, being there amongst your friends, your family, your colleagues, and knowing that I was the only one who really knew you.  Knowing what I knew.

Your mum, god, how she cried, while I cried regretful tears.

I spent the hour or so while the vicar droned, thinking about the first few months.  That’s why I went back to the beach.  It was wonderful.  You were wonderful.  I was swept off my feet by that smile, that smooth muscular body, that easy charm. Days in the sand and nights in the sheets. No rows. No fights.  Just love.

Well, that didn’t last long did it? How could you be so jealous when you were the beauty. You were the one that turned heads, while I skulked alongside you mousey and timorous. Yet, the green monster lived in your flat hard belly.  A demon that reared it’s head and slipped it’s chains whenever I was late home from work, or went out alone.

Do you remember the first time? That first slap of the cheek? The red weal it left?  The ‘I’m so sorry’s’? The kiss and make up? And I believe you were sorry. Certainly your eyes filled with tears and concern, and you seemed terrified I’d leave.  But of course, I didn’t. Couldn’t. Loved you.

It makes me laugh now when I think of that first red weal. I was aghast and tried to cover it with make-up so I wouldn’t have to make up some story of falling against a door handle like I used to when my first boyfriend left love-bites on my neck.  I didn’t know that that was nothing. Ha! Just a bit of red on the cheek. Childsplay.

I could soon cover up a black-eye and a split lip with the dexterity of a make-up artist working on a sci-fi film. The broken ribs were different.  They didn’t show of course, but I could hardly move after that time you shoved me down the stairs. Still went into work though.  Always did.  Kept smiling.  I still had you after all.

I will never stop regretting what happened that night, but you were so angry.  Been drinking again. I’d just stopped in to Tesco on the way home to get some milk and managed to miss the bus. I couldn’t get on the next one.  I was only three quarters of an hour or so later than usual, but still you started on me. Accusing me of all sorts – meeting up with other men, being a ‘slag’, oh goodness, all the usual stuff and more.  I never got over how you had the body of a god and the mouth of a devil.

So here I am, back at the house.  Sitting on the bottom step of the stairs. The one that split your skin open like a berry when your head hit it.  You didn’t feel that though.  Of course you didn’t.  You were too surprised that I fought back.

You shouldn’t have started on me in the kitchen.  I was tired and wet, it had been a foul night of rain and high winds, and I was looking forward to a cup of tea and a biscuit before I started cooking for you.  I’d bought steak because it was your favourite, and all you could do was question and accuse. Then slap and hit. So I stopped you.  Before the punching and kicking started. The frying pan was still on the hob.  Still greasy from the night before.  You’d been home all day and hadn’t washed up. Typical.  It took a few thwacks with it before you fell.

You weren’t supposed to die.  I never had.  All those beatings and I’d only been out cold once or twice. Yet the first time I fought back, the first time, you had to go and die on me.

Christ I miss you. I miss the making up. I miss your laugh at our favourite TV shows. I miss your out of tune singing in the shower. I miss you beside me when I walk to the park.  Your smile. Your touch. But still there’s your scent.

I go to our bedroom and find your clothes still as you left them. Rummaging I find your favourite sweatshirt and hold it to my face. Its’ the one you wore when we played tennis together that time.  You hooting with laughter at my complete ineptitude. You telling me how you loved me despite my being a clutz.

Laying down on the bed clutching it’s soft fabric to me, it’s empty arms embrace me with the tenderness you lost, I’ve found you again.

Written as part of the writing 101 challenge

The Fall

Thomas needed to pause and take a breath before going in. He was very nearly late, but shouldn’t appear flustered.  It was seeing her name.  It burned his eyes and took his breath away.  Of course it was no surprise, but it had reminded him of her wedding day.

Gloria had gone to him, along with her boyfriend, and begged him to marry them.  Her parents wouldn’t agree to the marriage, and he could see why.  He thought the boy an unprepossessing lump, sitting there on the sofa next to her with his arms covered in celtic tattoos.

Gloria’s Bambi eyes welled up with tears as she explained

‘they just don’t understand.  Mikey is standing by me.  He wants to look after me, and the baby’

She whispered the final words, and shot a glance at the boy, who appeared unmoved.

‘I’ll be eighteen in a months time’ she continued ‘I want to have the wedding then. Mum and dad won’t be able to do anything about it then’ she finished, triumphantly.

Thomas couldn’t believe that this boy was capable of looking after himself, let alone a wife and child, but apparently he had managed to get himself a job as a labourer and, in response to Thomas’s questioning, mumbled that he would be able to afford a small flat on the local estate.

Thomas had known Gloria since she was a baby, and he didn’t like to think of her living amongst the dreary council terraces. Gloria’s well-to-do parents had found their faith when she had arrived seven weeks prematurely, and while she was fighting for her life, they were finding comfort in prayer.  But, as is the way of things, they attended Church every week for a couple of years, then it became just Christmas and Easter services, and eventually dwindled to nothing, but he still bumped into them in town occasionally.

Looking at her, he marvelled at how Gloria had grown from such a scrap of life into such a beauty.  Her golden skin was lit in multi-colour under the stained glass of the study window and she looked the antithesis of Mikey.  She was smartly dressed in grey trousers and loose jumper that just hinted at the curves beneath, and her glossy dark hair was snatched back from her face with a flowered band.

‘Surely she could have found someone more suitable’ he thought.

She would not be deterred though, and some two months later, there she was blinking up at him innocently with her white veiled eyes. The boy standing next to her, shuffling, and fiddling with his carnation.  She was attended by two young bridesmaids, princesses in their bright pink dresses, carrying baskets of rose petals and between them stood a small pageboy, looking sheepish in a football shirt.

‘So common. Must have been his idea’ thought Thomas in an uncharacteristic moment of venom.

He noticed that the sparse congregation were mostly the couples friends, young people dressed up to the nines. The girls uniformly wearing explosive ‘fascinators’ which seemed to be the in thing in headwear that year, and the boys all wearing suits and ties, many, he suspected, for the first time in their lives.   There was an older couple in the second row whom Thomas took to be the boy’s parents, and he spotted Gloria’s parents sitting discreetly at the back both soaking up tears with a tissue. He wondered if she knew they were there.

He managed to smile and say his lines, controlled the urge to flinch when he pronounced them man and wife, watched Mikey kissing her somewhat over zealously, and then paid careful attendance to the signing of the register. But, watching her afterwards, laughing and grinning at the camera amongst the ominous grey stones of the churchyard, the big meringue of a dress only just camouflaging the bump, he feared for her.

After the wedding he saw her occasionally at the shops, where he would watch her from a distance, admiring her ability to look graceful and serene even when she was pushing her screaming child.

Then quite out of the blue, she rang and asked if he would perform the child’s baptism.  He knew that for him to agree to take the service she really should be attending church regularly, nevertheless he jumped at the chance to see her. He offered to give her and the proposed god-parents the necessary short lessons and arranged to visit her home the following Thursday for the first session.

He wasn’t quite sure why he was so excited at the prospect of seeing her again, but he knew that she seemed to stir urges in him that he had long forgotten. It was only after spending some time in front of the mirror, even splashing on some cologne that he had won in a lucky dip, that he set off to visit her in the shabby flat.

Opening the door she smiled warmly, lighting up his world. As he entered the surprisingly tidy living room he noticed Mikey was perched on a chair in the corner. Nodding, he lifted his cup, in a sort of strange ‘cheers’ welcome that Thomas suspected may have come from spending too many hours at the pub.

Thomas really enjoyed those lessons and seeing Gloria regularly brought the kind of familiarity he had only wished for in the past.  She called him ‘Vic’, a shortening of Vicar that made him shiver pleasantly each time she said it.  The company of the young people who were to be the god-parents, and in particular Gloria, was intoxicating to him.  They lived in a different world, one of loud music and easy laughter, one he had never managed to feel part of even when he was younger.  So although the course was generally only three lessons, he used some spurious reasons to suggest having another one or two. Gloria and Mikey both muttered excuses, but he did eventually persuade them.

The day of the baptism, Thomas could barely get through the initial service, his eyes fixed on Gloria as she pacified the baby girl.  He was quietly delighted that her white linen tailored suit outlined her body in a way not entirely appropriate for the church.  Her head was covered by a wide brimmed white hat, with a modest piece of lace drawn over her eyes. He noticed how this pure white outfit accentuated the brown of her eyes, and the scarlet of her painted lips.  Sitting next to that brutish Mikey, she looked delicate as a snow flake.

Yet, Mikey was tender towards her, helping her up the step to the font, smiling his crooked toothed smile down at his young wife and baby.  Thomas noticed too, that Gloria’s mum and dad were both there, obviously reconciled to the fact that this youth was Gloria’s idea of ‘Mr Right’.

‘Happy families’, he thought dryly, whilst an unfamiliar emotion gripped him.

He managed to catch her before they left, and clutching her elbow, drew her into a corner for a private conversation.  She resisted slightly, and glanced at Mikey for approval, giving him a strange knowing smile.

‘How are you these days Gloria’ he said, surprisingly anxious for any hint of unhappiness to prove him right about the boy.

‘Great thanks Vic’ she replied chirpily ‘in fact I’m expecting again.  Can you believe it!  Not got this one out of nappies yet for goodness sake’ she grinned, obviously delighted with the news.

Thomas, on the other hand, squirmed.  A vision of the boy’s grubby hands touching her perfect white form haunted him that night, and for the days following. He began to make special efforts to pass her house, convincing himself he was ‘just keeping an eye on her’.  He watched as she chatted to friends, or hung out her washing.  He saw her in the park pushing the little girl on a swing, and studied her as she paid for her shopping in the supermarket.  To him she seemed the perfect little wife and mother, the perfect woman.

He had never found anyone like that. There had been one or two sweethearts when he was younger, but they were just flings, nothing serious.  It must have been at least thirty years since he had had a lady friend.  The last one, Jennifer, hadn’t liked the sobriety that he insisted went with the job and had flounced off one day declaring him ‘boring’.  Since then he had led a simple solitary life, with only his flock for company.  The old ladies appreciated him, bringing him cakes and the occasional stews in winter, and he had been happy.

Until then.  He didn’t understand the obsession that was taking over his life. Why did just a glimpse of her make his heart pump faster and his palms damp?

‘At my age for goodness sake’, he thought to himself ‘I’m not some teenage boy’.

And then at a fete one day he saw her with him, that Mikey.  They were laughing and smiling together, and when he reached down and kissed her brutally like he did at their wedding, she leaned into him as though he was the only person on earth.  Thomas felt a fibrillation in his chest that made his whole body shudder.

It wasn’t long after that that she rang, and asked to arrange a christening service for the new baby.  Before he had time to think, he had asked her over

‘pop round for a cup of tea and a chat Gloria’

‘oh, can’t you come round here, I’ve got the kids to see to’ she said.

‘well, I’m a bit busy, it would help lots if you could see your way to attending here my dear’

She had sounded a little reluctant but nonetheless agreed to go the following day and Thomas could hardly conceal his delight when she turned up on her own.

‘Sorry can’t stay long, Mikey’s got the kids and he has to go off to work in an hour.  He’s been working so hard bless him. He’s so good’ and Thomas flinched inwardly as he noticed her fondly touching the gold band on her left hand as she said it.

‘Come in, come in, sit yourself’ he said flustering about, pouring tea into his best china cups.  He had bought ginger biscuits, and all the time they were talking business he was thinking how sweet and hot her breath must smell.

After about half an hour she said she should go.  They had agreed a date for the service so Thomas knew he would see her again soon, but as she turned to go through the big old oak door of the vestry her fragrance overwhelmed him. He caught her arm and pulled her in towards him. As she cringed, horrified, his mantle of humility fell away and animal instinct, hidden away for so long, took over. Her struggling fired his passion, and it was with complete and utter abandonment that he pushed her down amongst the gravestones and satiated his overwhelming, soul consuming desire.

It was only when she stopped struggling that he noticed the pool of rich red spreading round her head like a halo. The grey slabs, once witness to her joyful marriage seemed now to lean in crooked sorrow.

The horror of it took his breath away, and dazed, he headed back to the vestry to try and calm himself, where in a vain effort to blot out the image of her lying there, he drank wine straight from the bottle and quickly passed out.

When he came to the next day she had already been found, and the police, happy with his quickly improvised alibi, attributed her murder to an ‘outsider’, no-one in the parish being thought capable of such a thing.

He had never suffered such pain before. Every heartbeat was a knock on hell’s door.  His faith, so strong over the years, was sorely tested, and he prayed for hours every day, trying to gain understanding of his own actions.  He seriously considered going to the police, giving himself up, but how could he abandon the good people of his congregation who relied on him and loved him?  He decided it best that God be his judge when the time came.

And now, there she was, in white again, boxed like a beautiful doll. He embraced the knowledge that his future would be full of penance and that the first of these would be to read the eulogy whilst watching Mikey weep, his two motherless children beside him bewildered by her absence.

Thomas gathered himself, and stepped up to the pulpit.

Written as part of the Writing 101 challenge, write a post based on an overheard conversation using foreshadowing.