Tag Archives: Hope

FF – Carousel

Take it as you will, here’s my contribution to Friday Fiction this week. Our photo is from Ted Strutz and reminds me of an old prompt, but I can’t find it now, so maybe I dreamt it…

carousel-ted-strutz

Carousel

“I always liked the carousel,” said Jo, as they stood waving, at regular intervals, to their passing sons.

“But all it does is go round and round,” Lucy sighed. “It doesn’t go anywhere.” Much like life, she almost added. “It’s the most boring ride at the whole fair.”

“Even the ones that seem to go somewhere finish near the start,” Jo smiled. “The trick is to enjoy the view.”

The boys passed by again, hands in the air, smiles on their faces. The whole world spread out below, like they could reach out and grab it as they flew.

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Friday Fiction – Behind the Facade

I nearly didn’t get to contribute something for C.E.Ayr’s FF prompt today. Although the boys gave me a hands-free naptime, I had to use it to mow the lawn and then the cat decided to take advantage too. Plus the prompt said a whole lot of factual stuff to me and not a lot of fiction. But eventually Pepsi decided it was time for a wash, so I started typing and this is what came out. My story is under the prompt – feel free to skip the random non-fiction musings that precede it. EDIT: Oooh, I forgot – language warning!

The first thing that sprang to mind from the picture was how much it fits the FF motto (from Henry David Thoreau) “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see”. I also wondered whether the mural preceded the dilapidation of the building, and whether it was put there as a sort of graffiti or an official attempt to prettify the neighbourhood. And I wondered why there aren’t more things like this around.

And then I went back to the Thoreau quote and I started thinking how what might be true for writing prompts isn’t necessarily true for everything. Take the Seaworld debate, for example, where what you see is an amazing and fascinating whale show, but what you’re looking at may (or may not, I’m not trying to open a wound here) be torture and animal cruelty.

Which got me thinking about the wider scope of that too. At the weekend we saw a snapping turtle by the banks of the lake where we happened to be walking. Jon and I were probably more excited than Sebastian, because he couldn’t really be expected to understand the novelty of the situation. He’s seen turtles in the zoo, roughly that close, and he’s never been on a lakeshore walk and not seen a turtle, so how could he know this was special. Even I don’t know how special it is – are snapping turtles a fairly standard occurence in Ontario’s cottage country? Or were we extremely lucky to find one? (Here’s what Ontario Nature says about that)

All of which ponderings didn’t lead me to a story. Luckily, the old “start typing and see what comes out” trick did. 😉

demolition-4

Behind the Facade

Isla smudged “mardi gras” across her eyelid and blinked at the mirror. Not a bad job, considering she hadn’t worn makeup in almost two decades. It wasn’t really her colour anymore; she might have felt more comfortable with a subtler shade. But comfort was for cowards and prisoners. Tonight, Isla was wearing a dress that came up too far on the leg, down too far on the cleavage, heels that said she wasn’t walking and mardi-fucking-gras eyeshadow.

“You can put lipstick on a pig,” said her husband’s voice, but she couldn’t hear him. Six feet of earth saw to that.

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Friday Fiction – Washed Up

This week’s Friday fictioneers picture comes from Janet Webb. As usual, our cruise is piloted by Rochelle.

Next week, I won’t be able to respond to the Friday Fictioneers prompt, but those who enjoy my writing will find a second story prompted by this week’s photo. I hope you’ll nip back to read it.

wasp-nestWashed Up

Washed up. That’s what he’d called them. Washed up.

Not shiny and clean. But like a body on a beach: the flotsam of life. That’s what her husband, Tom, had meant when she told him her plans. It’s too late to travel the world, Janine. We’re washed up.

Janine squeezed sand between her toes and watched the sun setting far out to sea. She took a sip on her pina colada and smiled.

If she was washed up, she was a pebble. Yes, buffeted by the waves, and the sand, and the journey, but only to make her more beautiful.

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Inspiration Monday – This is How it Starts

I’m a bit late today – visitors just left and I got distracted by life! But it’s still Thursday, so here’s my response to this week’s prompts. It’s a first draft, so I’ll be particularly grateful for your feedback.

This is how it starts

I know myself well enough. He’s got dazzling blue eyes, and a smile that lights a fire inside me. His accent is clearly an affectation, to make him seem less rich and intimidating, more approachable. And I know that, just as everyone around him knows it, but like the rest, I let him get away with it. I tease him instead, about something harmless – the colour of his tie – to show that I’m relaxed in his company, and he laughs to prove he knows I’m not.

This is how it starts. This is how it always starts.

It will end very differently, of course. The eyes will be steel blue then, and his smile will burn. His affectations will annoy, and my comments about what he wears will be bitingly sharp, or at least perceived that way. The deceptions will be more numerous and more brutal; the honesty too.

But for now, it is just beginning. He turns that smile on me and I grin back. He takes my hand and a little part of me melts into him. I know how it always ends, but I wonder if this time will be different, an end just like the beginning.holding_hands

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Inspiration Monday – Invisible Sky

It’s been a while since I joined in with Inspiration Monday, so this week I’m trying to make up for it by covering two prompts in a single 100 word story: view from the gutter and invisible sky. It’s not necessarily a very unique take on either, but I hope you like it and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

View From The Gutter

I’m underfoot. You can see it in their faces: these people who walk about the city in smart suits and high-rise heels: hurrying to the next meeting, or a lunch date with a married admirer. They barely see me, only to ensure I don’t infect them, drag them down somehow. If they throw something in my cup, it is to avoid having to look at me; to save themselves from the danger of awareness.

And I know how it feels to tower with them, close to the invisible sky: hope and future and promise. Do they even see it themselves?

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Inpiration Monday – Borrowed Heart / Waiting to Live

Another Thursday, another story inspired by BeKindRewrite’s Inspiration Monday thread. This time I managed to get two of the prompts in, which is something I rarely do. It’s also quite a personal piece, because I had a condition a few years ago that made me have to fight for each painful breath. I’ve tried to capture something of that in this piece although with a different POV and a much more severe medical prognosis.

I’d love to hear what you think of it.

 

Catching Breath

If you’ve never watched someone you love fighting for breath, you can’t begin to imagine how it feels. You dare not drag your eyes away in case they lose the next battle, in case that rasping desperate sound is the last rasping desperate sound you ever hear. It doesn’t even occur to you that everyone else breathes quietly, or that the first time you heard that the troubled breathing you wanted never to hear it again.

But hope. That’s the thing. The greatest blessing of humanity, and sometimes its greatest curse. To go from hoping she’ll breathe normally again, to just hoping she’ll breathe again, to just… Hope without knowing what you’re hoping for.

And now I have a new hope and it’s almost too much to bear. She’s waiting to live again. Someone else’s hope died today, but sometimes hope is competitive and I can’t grieve for them when I think of the borrowed heart that will make her live. That will take her breath away and give it back a hundred times stronger. That will allow me to hope once more to hear the last of those desperate painful gasps.

You think I am selfish. That I should think of the dead and the grieving. That I should be grateful, humbled, sorry. But you’ve never watched someone you love fighting for breath; you can’t begin to imagine how it feels.

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Friday Fictioneers – Fix It

Back in the land of stable internet and my own computer, it’s amazing the difference it makes. I’ll be going back and updating some recent posts with pictures etc when I have chance, but for now here’s my latest Friday Fiction piece. As ever, it’s inspired by Madison Woods’ picture prompt, and you can find lots of other great stories linked on her page. Critique is welcome – this was a little rushed for me today, so I’m intrigued to hear how well (or not) you think it worked.

Fix It

“There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,” Dad sang as Chantal wiggled the tap again.

“Could you possibly do something more useful than singing?”

“Like fix it?” he asked, adding “Dear Henry,” under his breath.

She tried to smile. Singing was better than the gloom he’d been in since Mum left. But he looked manic: seven-week beard, shirt Mum hated. Perhaps that’s why she left: his dress-sense.

Or perhaps it was this infernal tap: dripping at all hours like the incessant tick of time. Maybe if she fixed the tap, or changed his clothes, Mum’d come back.

 

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The Lonely Writer

“Writing, at its best, is a lonely life.” So said Ernest Hemingway, great writer and master of misery. Which is interesting to me, because of the “at its best” in the middle of the sentence. Writing is a lonely life. Yes, certainly. Most writers fly solo, and by definition fiction is something that only we can see until we set it down in words.

But does “at its best” refer to the quality of the writing or the life? If it’s the writing, then I think that depends on the writer. Some people work best locked in a room alone, others at a coffee shop where the minor distractions of real life help them to avoid the major distractions of boredom, procrastination and writer’s block.

But Hemingway being who he was, I think it’s perfectly possible he was referring to the quality of the life. No annoying co-workers to interrupt, no screaming children or hungry cats, no nagging wife or impatient husband … just the writer and the worlds he chooses to create.

In which case, Mr Hemingway, I must respectfully disagree.

With a group of fellow writers recently, those of us without day jobs were bemoaning the state of our lives. Put very simply, there were three big difficulties facing us. The first, is the rather obvious and clichéd image of the starving artist. As unpublished writers, we cannot be sure that our work will ever bring in any money; we certainly can have no confidence whatsoever that it will feed and clothe us into our dotage. It’s a concern and a very real one. But, for many writers, a day job or a partner with a day job is enough to pull that problem down from Crisis level.

Connected to our lack of financial security is the difficulty of self-motivation in the face of nothing stronger than a hope of one day being published. As an un(der)-employed writer, I know that nobody is going to give two hoots if I spend the day in bed or watching TV. Nobody is going to chase me for the next draft manuscript or the next short story. For me, the solution is a schedule – I’ve mentioned this before – and a healthy dose of self-motivation. I know that on a Friday I must post my piece for Madison’s Friday Fictioneers, for example, and as well as my Flag Raising goals for the year, I set goals every morning for the day and on the first of every month to complete by the end of it. And some days I’m more productive than others, but it means I don’t need a boss standing over me with a deadline and a P45 (Pink slip for US readers).

But, to come back to EH and his lonely life, the biggest problem for the un(der)-employed writer is a much more human one, felt by homemakers and full-time carers, the unemployed and the cast out as well as the world’s writers. We need company. We need to hear a human voice, to talk – even about nothing – and to be listened to. The television or radio can help, but it doesn’t quite fit the bill. And there is something unhelpful about telephones too – I find they help even less. Which is why I consider myself extremely lucky to have made friends with a group of people who have an online chatroom. Most of them are writers, in one guise or another, although there is much more to any of them than their fiction. During the day, whenever I have a mini-success or what feels like a catastrophic failure, I can jump in and tell someone about it. And the rest of the time, we chatter like co-workers do. Not non-stop, or there’d be no time for work, but enough to feel a connection. It’s as important as being able to share the bigger successes and failures with my husband and family. Like I said about the coffee shop, sometimes allowing minor distractions is the best way to prevent major ones.

So, while I fully admit that my writing, at its best, is still not fit to clean the shoes of EH’s worst; for me, the writing life, at its best, is one that’s shared and enjoyed.

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Friday Fiction #13

Thanks to Madison Woods, as ever, for a challenging picture inspriation this week. Please do take a look at the over stories linked in the comments section of her blog. http://madisonwoods.wordpress.com/flash-fiction/lorelei-100-words-audio/

As always, I welcome comments and critique on my story below. I found this a hard one, and in particular difficult to get everything into 100 words, so I’ve had to leave a lot open to interpretation. Let me know if it does, or doesn’t, work for you in the comments and / or please join in my poll as to who the narrator is hoping to find!

The third step

There were three steps up to the house. The first felt like the highest, dragging my feet and heart out of the wet forest floor. The second was tiny, a stumble. Having made the commitment to go ahead, it got lost in momentum. She might have come home.

But the third step was the hardest. She might not. I was stuck there on that second ledge for an eternity of doubt. The last chance to sink back into the leaf litter of not knowing. If I went forward, I could find elation, or the final certainty that she was gone.

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Friday Fiction #11

As usual, this week’s inspiration came from Madison’s picture below. You can find Madison’s blog, and links to lots of other postcard fiction inspired by the picture, here: http://madisonwoods.wordpress.com/flash-fiction/the-western-sky-100-words/ I do recommend you take a look, there are some great writers hiding out there on the blogosphere and you might find your next favourite. For me… well, you’ll see what I came up with. Comments and critiques always welcome (see my previous post “Write Better” to learn in detail how much I love crits!)

Sunset in the East

From horizon to horizon, the light shone like the sunset: heartbreaking at the end of the day, but faithful in its promise of dawn tomorrow. The last leaves of autumn clung to the trees which stood in crisp silhouette against its brilliant glow.

In that moment, there was neither sound nor smoke. Microseconds later the cloud began to rise, foretold by expanding rings of brightness, climbing into the sky and leaving the mushroom stalk in its wake.

Seconds of silence.

The earth shook. A deafening roar swept through the valley. Sunset in the East brought the night and the winter.

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