Five day challenge, Day 5 – Athenaeum

The last day of my five day challenge – gosh that’s gone quickly!  I must thank Scillagrace for inviting me to take part, it’s been fun!

For today I’ve written a couple of verses inspired by the photo of the famous Bodleian Library which I took a few years ago when we visited Oxford, England.  I had never visited Oxford before, but my husband studied there so knew it well, and he was able to show me all the sights, as well as taking me punting on the river!

oxford 001


In the labyrinth of my mind
My memory library dwells
That vaulted endless space
Where secrets quietly die
and story-spun webs
Are bound with the knots of life

Accommodating each new day
The dusty library swells
Discarding faded pages
‘til but snapshots remain
Of long-gone skies and
Half remembered faces

Death in Delhi – Five day challenge.. day one

I’ve been invited by the lovely Scillagrace (visit her super blog here) to take part in a five day challenge.  To complete the challenge I have to post a photo with an accompanying story every day for…yes, you’ve guessed it, five days!  So here goes on Day One with a bit of flash fiction….

Death in Delhi


It was cooler under the shade of the Ashok tree that wept close to the newly carved tomb but still Nirmala didn’t want to be there, but her mother had insisted.

‘He was your husband. It is your duty to grieve’ she said dragging the protesting woman by the wrist.

She had barely known him when they were married.  He was at least thirty years older than her. He’d agreed to ‘have’ her when his second wife had died in childbirth. It didn’t matter to him about the deep purple birthmark that disfigured her left cheek which her mother had said would prevent interest by any other suitor. She could look after the child, even if she was only a child herself.

She’d been married to him for nearly twenty years, and in her care the child had become a young man.  Like his father, the boy had treated Nirmala as a slave, and she thanked her gods when he eventually left the family hovel.

Her ‘husband’ had got fatter and more unpleasant by the day, but she served him as best she could. She never had a child herself since the marriage was never consummated.  From the start he had made it clear, that he didn’t need that from her, he had money enough to buy himself ‘proper’ women if and when he needed, and for that, she had been mightily relieved.

Just like she was when she found his overstuffed body cold in his bed.

However, widows were considered bad luck and ended up living on the outskirts of society where no man would venture and her mother had made it clear she wouldn’t take her back into the household

‘I’ve enough mouths to feed’ she’d said without a shred of compassion for her distraught daughter.

Now, standing over his grave in the stinking heat of a Delhi afternoon, her mother watching critically from her seat under the tree, she realised that she was nothing, her miserable and empty life was now meaningless.  So she didn’t hesitate when she withdrew the small knife that she’d hidden in the folds of her sari, plunging it deep into her stomach with a force she didn’t know she possessed. She felt her soul flutter before her body collapsed over the sun warmed stone tomb, her blood staining it forever.


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.

A mark in the park

Strolling through the big old iron gates, I notice that they haven’t cut the grass lately. It’s usually clipped to within an inch, but today it’s ankle high and swaying slightly in the cool breeze.  As usual, there’s not too many people in the park, though a few are walking through it, using its path as a short-cut between town and houses.

It’s a school day, so the climbing frames, swings and roundabouts are all empty. The council had to rebuild the playground recently because vandals had set fire to it and burnt the lot down. Now it’s protected by security cameras on tall grey posts, looking for all the world like alien eyes.

Looking westwards across the open space I can see an old man throwing a stick for a rangy looking ginger mongrel, who fetches it back and drops it at his masters feet time and time again, tail wagging and tongue lolling waiting for the next time. He runs after it so fast his feet barely touch the ground.

Beyond them is the river. As I approach it I hear the rushing of water over the weir that’s situated just above the bridge.  As children, we used to play ‘pooh sticks’ here, throwing out sticks between the bridge’s ornate balustrade and watching to see whose came through to the other side first.   Now and then fetes are held here, and they have rubber duck races down the river these days.  Today I can see one of the little yellow competitors caught twirling in the current under the weir. I wonder how long he’ll stay there before getting rescued by a child with a fishing net who’s come to catch tadpoles.

The river bank is lined with weeping willows that dip their branches in the water catching weeds, while the park’s lazy water fowl community huddle under them waiting for another stranger to bring them their next meal of stale bread. Fast food for ducks we called it.

On the opposite side of the bridge lies the formal flower gardens.  There are not too many flowers at this time of year though, apart from the odd late rose. It’s always kept neat and tidy, apart from the ornamental pond with its not-working fountain, which always has a collection of rubbish floating in its shallow algae covered water.

I sit on one of the benches alongside the path. Immediately I realise that I have sat directly opposite a couple who are too busy smooching to have noticed me.  I try not to look, but my eyes keep wandering back, just like his hands keep wandering to her thighs.  It takes me back to teenage years. Long summer evenings spent knocking around the park, chatting each other up, and finding out about life and love, and all the grey areas in between.

I quickly decide that I should move. There are plenty of other places to sit, and I don’t want them thinking I’m some sort of pervert, so I decide to make my way over to the bandstand area, which is closer than I’d like to the skate tube, but should be quiet at this time of day.

However, I could hear the screech of the wheels on metal before I rounded the corner and saw that there were several lads there with their gaudy skateboards, clearly bunking off school, and disturbing the peace. Nevertheless, I sat on a nearby seat to watch.

They were pretty good. Their skateboards looked like they were attached to their feet as the swooped down the curves and jumped in the air before landing.  One or two fell and cursed, though they didn’t seem hurt. There was a lot of cursing.  It still embarrasses me to hear those words.  My mother would have a fit.

I sit awhile, before deciding it’s time to leave. On the way back to the gates, I pass the huge old oak, where my initials are still carved in a heart alongside the initials of a boy I can’t remember.  That was long before the skate park, or the playground, and before the lads or those lovers were born. It will be here long after I’m gone too I expect.  I think it’s probably ‘un pc’ as my granddaughter would say, to carve anything into tree trunks, yet still, It’s pleasing to think that one day someone will look at those marks and wonder who ‘S.A.’ was and if she still loves ‘L.C’.

This is a short story written as part of the writing 101 challenge.

The letter – writing 101 challenge

Today’s writing 101 challenge was for a bit of brief fiction based around finding a letter.  Here is my attempt.  Hope it makes some sort of sense:-

It lay there, half submersed in a puddle. Dropped in shock from a shaky hand perhaps?

‘further investigation…  An appointment has been booked….. please bring….’

The time and date is in the coming week. An urgent thing then.

Whoever this was addressed to will need it, but the water has seeped across the page blurring words and making the letters weep inky tears.