Tag Archives: Childhood

FF – Waiting

No rerun for me this week; if you went back to Rochelle’s original post, you’ll know why. Five days into motherhood, apparently I didn’t put writing first ;). Three and a half years on, it’s still a challenge to fit in a weekly burst of writing, but sometimes we need to rise to challenges…

Kent Bonham recommended the rerun; the picture is Rochelle‘s own.

ice-on-the-window

Waiting

Mrs Mwanna says he won’t bring Mummy home in this. She says it loads, like each time she looks out, the sun will be shining, the ice will have gone and the car will have pulled in.

She looks more often than I do, but they don’t come.

It’s too cold to take Mummy outside. She’s too frail to walk and it’s too slippery for the wheelchair. Too far for me to visit. Too early for us to phone.

We hold hands and watch through the frost for the car that won’t come. He won’t bring her home in this.

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Friday Fiction – The Price of the Prize

Rochelle’s provided us with a bit of a mystery prompt this week, courtesy of Kent Bonham. You may recognise the boys in my response from another unsavoury prompt some time ago. Eat up, now!

unidentifiable-on-a-stick

“It’s club rules.” Owen tucked his thumbs into his waistcoat as he’d seen father do.

“But it’s gross.” Liam stared at the lollipop and then at the expectant faces surrounding him.

He’d been begging to join his brother’s treehouse club for weeks, but now the initiation ceremony didn’t seem worth the prize. Feathers and the legs of beetles were held to the stick by an icky white substance he couldn’t even guess at.

“Do it,” Owen snarled.

“Leave him alone, he’s just a baby,” said Tommy.

Liam stuck his tongue out and closed his eyes. Nobody called him a baby.

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Friday Fiction – The Fallen Hero

It’s happened again. The story I thought I was going to write isn’t the one that came out onto the page (screen). Still, the muse knows best. Perhaps she, like me, read this interesting article last week. Rochelle posted our prompt (John Nixon’s photo) a day early this week, but I decided to stick to the schedule and respond today.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Fallen Hero

As a child, I ran through this forest with my brothers. I played in its branches, battling demons and spiders with only a wooden sword, made-up spells and what Grandfather called my ‘pluck’. I was hero and conqueror.

Now the wisdom of age has descended and I am the damsel in distress I never was then. I creep past the writhing trees, afraid of their shadows and my own. I fear the men who might lurk here, and their intentions. And I keep my own children on a leash: stay in sight, don’t wander off.

Where did the hero go?

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Inspiration Monday – Claim your island

This week’s InMon prompts include the phrase “Capture your island”, which put me in mind of the fascinating post I read here (reblogged by Rochelle Wisoff Fields). And hence, my story below. I hope you enjoy it, your comments and critique are always welcome.

Robinson_Crusoe_island

Claim Your Island

“So, you’re Robinson Crusoe. The first thing to do is claim your island.” Gordy pulled a forked stick from a pile of driftwood and pushed it upright into the ground. He would have liked to make a flag to hang from it, but there was no material in the pile. He could strip off his vest and use that, but he might need it for warmth in the night. And anyway, a white vest would look like a flag of surrender: Gordy had no intention of surrendering to anyone.

“You never know what’ll be on the island, so you’ll need a weapon to defend yourself, and to hunt wild goats to eat. Luckily, when you were cast away from the ship, you brought your trusty bow and a handful of arrows.” He unslung the bow from his back and counted the arrows in the quiver he’d carried under his arm. Seven. Or it might be eight. Numbers were tricky like that.

The sun flicked behind a cloud and Gordy was glad of his vest. “It’s not as warm as it ought to be,” he muttered. “You should build a fire before it gets any colder. You’ll need it to cook the goats later too.” He began to gather some more sticks into a campfire. “Or wild boar. Mmm…” The idea made his mouth wet and he spat on the ground. Gordy took a swig from his canteen and wished it was grog that slipped down his throat, not water.

There was a rustling from the undergrowth behind him. Gordy froze. The noise stopped, and he dropped to his knees, carefully stringing an arrow onto the bow and pulling back on the string.

The sound came again. “It must be Man Friday,” Gordy whispered, holding the bow steady in shaking hands.

“George Anderson! Is that you messing about in my log pile again?”

“Man Friday is aggressive,” Gordy thought, wishing the local had used his proper, adventure name, and not the one his parents insisted on.

“Get out here this instant.”

Gordy felt a hand on the back of his collar, then he was lifted several feet off the ground and dragged out of the undergrowth. Face to face, Man Friday was even more terrifying. He stood six feet tall and almost as broad, wearing a bright yellow housecoat, with a washing peg hanging from his fearsome mouth.

“I’ve told you about mucking about in my garden. Get home before I tell your mother!”

“Yes, Mrs Rogers.” Gordy pulled his plastic bow and quiver onto his shoulder and hurried away before Man Friday could flick him with the red tea towel she’d been hanging out to dry. It would have made a good flag, he thought. Perhaps later, he’d stage a raid and capture the enemy’s ensign.

 

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Friday Fiction – Him

Well, what do you know? A long time ago, I sent Rochelle two photos I thought she might like to use for the FF prompt. We had one a few months ago and I’d forgotten all about the other. But then this morning, I find people linking to my blog (thank you!) and when I go to check out their blogs – Bam! It’s my photo of a model bee at the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK. The bee is probably long gone, but the centre is well worth a visit if you’re ever in the neighbourhood.

Him (Genre: Romance)

When we were seven, he was my best friend: we’d hunt butterflies together and search the clover for four-leafers. But puberty drove us apart. He wasn’t my type – bigger and hairier than the boys I liked – and I didn’t think I was pretty enough to be his.

He bumbled into my life again at my parents’ golden wedding. I’d been stung by a thousand others by then and I’d given up on the whole game.

We walked in the garden and lay together among the clover, looking at the stars and talking about finding the right place to spend winter.

***

Field Notes:

In Canada, it appears to be much more complicated, but in England there are three kinds of stinging insect: wasps, bees and bumble bees. Wasps are nasty little monsters, who will sting you for fun. Bees (honey bees) are industrious and quiet and will only sting if attacked. Bumblebees are fantastic creatures. They are relatively uncommon, seem to love clover even though it’s much less vivid and beautiful than many other flowers and are renowned for being “scientifically unable to fly.”

Thinking about this distinction reminded me of relationships – if one has to kiss a lot of frogs to find a Prince, perhaps one also has to go through a few wasps and honey bees before finding an incredible and wonderful bumble bee.

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Friday Fiction – Illumination

Back to a more literal interpretation of the picture this week – or is it?! Thanks to Rochelle for being our guide and Randy Mazie for providing the entertainment on this week’s bus tour. I love feedback!

goats_and_graves_3_randy_mazie

Illumination

Lenny shivered under the stone angel. Bernie had said meet here at midnight, but then hadn’t shown.

Something moved among the yews. Lenny froze as it approached. He could see tiny horns growing from its head and he could hear it crunching on the bones of sinners.

Bernie’s playing a trick, he told himself. I should call him out. But his mouth couldn’t form around the words.

Suddenly, a heavenly light shone from the angel. The beast fled. Lenny ran the other way, as uncomfortable standing before God as before the Devil.

“Git off!” shouted the Pastor, waving his flashlight.

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Inspiration Monday – Imaginary Research

Those who pop by every other Thursday for submission suggestions might be disappointed to see another InMon post. Eventually, I’ll get back into the swing of things but at the moment, I seem to have more brain power for writing than researching, and since my blog is the only place I’m writing at the moment, I enjoy the extra chance to exercise creativity. I hope you’ll bear with me for a while longer

Talking of research…

Too Clever For His Own Good

“What does Santa have for dinner?” asked Joshua, pushing his peas around the plate in attempt to make them disappear.

“Peas,” said his father, unable to hide his frustration. “And so should you.”

“How do you know?”

Ian sighed. He should have known better than to put one over on his son. At six years old, Joshua already had his mother’s sharp eye for when he was being fobbed off.

“Dad’s hotline,” he tried.

There was a hint of an eye roll from Joshua. “I’m going to ask him in my letter. I bet he has nice things, like ice cream and turkish delight and sausages.”

“All on one plate?”

It was more pronounced this time. “Not all on one plate!” For a second Ian thought he was going to get angry; then the boy caught his eye and giggled. “Although… he is magical, so maybe he would have them all together and magically make it taste good!”

Ian felt the laughter run across his heart and found himself joining in. “Well, be that as it may, my research clearly indicates that Santa eats peas. And Rudolph – carrots too.”

Joshua picked up a forkful of peas. It approached his mouth, but came to a halt between his open lips. Joshua laid the fork back on his plate and ran to the kitchen. He returned with a clean plate and two carrots. He quickly shovelled the peas onto the plate.

“What are you doing, Josh?”

“We’ll leave these for Santa tonight. Instead of sherry and mince pies.”

 

 

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Friday Fiction – Torment

I’m determined to read all the entries for Friday Fiction this week as it’s been a while since I had chance to look at more than my allocated five and few favourite writers. But having seen Madison’s prompt, I’m not sure I want to look at 50-something copies of this photo. I’m glad she explained it in her covering post. For those who haven’t read that, this is apparently entirely plant-material based, and occured when trees, vines and shrubs were pruned on her road a year ago. What crazy things nature does!

You can join me in reading the other entries here. I look forward to hearing your comments on mine too – it all came from my initial reaction, which you’ll find in the first word of the story.

Torment

“Ewww! That’s gross!” Liam squeezed as far back into his seat as he could. The thing loomed over him, threatening to drip seeping yellow pus onto his skin. “Mu-um!”

“Owen, stop tormenting your brother,” sighed their mother from the front, without turning her head.

Owen waved the oozing branch closer to his brother’s face with a cackle. They’d been driving for days now, Mum alternating between singing to the radio and sobbing into the steering wheel. This was the first fun he’d had since the funeral, when he’d peeked up Aunt Josie’s skirt and nobody had even told him off.

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Not just for kids

A friend of mine writes the Eager Little Bookworm blog and when I went to visit her – along with the little bookworms – this week, I very much enjoyed exploring their library, including old favourites like “Where’s Spot?” and new (to me) treasures such as “Winnie the Witch”. But it got me to thinking, so this week I’ve decided to set myself – and anyone who feels like joining in – a challenge: to write a children’s story. Not for publication or because I think we should all because children’s authors, but as an exercise to make us write outside our usual pattern and to focus on other aspects of writing, such as:

1. Plot: The plot has to be simple, but also interesting. You don’t need much by way of twists and turns, but you do need a clear and fun story. Spot is hiding, Sally (his Mum) wants him to come for tea, so she looks for him and finds lots of other animals along the way. That’s a plot.

2. Length: A children’s story can easily be longer, like the Narnia books, but a book for children to read themselves, or have read to them in the first few years, will often be one which can be completed in just a few minutes – for example as a bedtime story. As such, it might only be 100 words long, or even less.

3. Language: The language needs to be simple enough for children to understand the story without having to investigate the meaning of every (or even almost every) word. Many focus on a particular word sound, word or grammar principle, repeated throughout the book or on a particular page. And dealing with any of those aspects would be good discipline for any writer to focus on in an exercise like this.

4. Characters: Lots of children’s books end up being series and lots of children’s characters end up being hugely popular outside book form (just think of all the Mr Men toys, lunchboxes, dvds etc you can buy). So there are definitely bonus points for creating a loveable character or set of characters.

5. Theme: Many children’s books deal with a particular theme. They are educational and deal with colours, or numbers, or vehicles, or whatever. Or they are educational in other ways, for example dealing with important subjects like potty training or adoption or getting a little sibling.

6. Illustrations: Don’t panic, I’m not suggesting you illustrate your story (unless you want to). In fact, this is a bit of a false point, because although children’s books are invariably brightened and brought alive by the illustrations, these will usually have been added long after the story was written, by an illustrator selected by the publisher without the author’s input, and that’s only going to happen if the story is good enough in itself. Nevertheless, it’s worth thinking about vivid images (although probably not describing them in words), colourful characters and vibrant scenes … everything that makes a good book for any age really!

Are there other aspects you think make a children’s book special or challenging? Let me know in a comment below, or have a go at writing a children’s story bearing some of these points in mind and let us know how you get on!

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Friday Fiction – Grapes

Another slightly rushed and cobbled together post, but I really hope you enjoy this one. It wasn’t what I expected to write when I sat at m computer this morning, but when I saw Madison’s photo it was exactly what came to mind. Do check out the links on her page for more stories, and do let me have any feedback (positive or negative) on today’s story below.

To see Madison’s site with the prompt and other stories, click here

The Bitter Sweetness of Grapes

The first time, he was six years old, lying under the vines with purple stains and an ugly smile mingling on his lips – delirious with the heady pleasure of excess, unable to form coherent sentences and desperately, repeatedly, declaring his love. At six, you can pick them up and put them to bed to sleep it off. Next morning he awoke with a pounding head and a guilty promise never to do it again.

At forty-six, there’s a lot less you can do. The demon grape still puppets him, its effects all-too similar and its grip stronger than ever.

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