Monday Motivations – Breaking News!

Well, I suppose it is breaking news…but it’s not that exciting, I’m afraid. As many of you know (if you don’t, why not? I mean, it’s not as if I haven’t plugged it enough! Anyway, I digress…) I’m holding two short story competitions (with fabulous prizes). The closing date is due to be 31st May, but as I’m going to be away for a few days then, I’m extending it until Sunday 5th June. 

So if you’re struggling for that story idea and don’t think you’ll have it finished by the end of May, you have a few more days to finish your masterpiece. Or if you’ve already entered, have another go!

I couldn’t get my creative mind working this morning, so I gave myself a theme. This often helps to get the ideas coming. My theme was war. Here’s my story:

Casualties of War

His small body jerked, the bullet finding its home in the centre of his heart. His mother rushed to him, weeping and wailing, welded to his side.

The soldier hovered above her, pointing his gun, taking aim.

 She forced herself away from her beloved boy, turned to face his killer. “Do it!” she sobbed. “Let me join my son.”

The soldier lowered his weapon, orders barking in his ear. He shook his head. Ran away, his feet squelching in the mud.  

She sat there awhile, her anguished cries merging with many more. A childless mother. Just one of many. In just another day of war.

***

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Guest Writer Spot

My guest writer this week is working on a novel. I’m delighted to be publishing the opening to his book. Here’s a little bit about Eric Owens:

Eric Owens is a decorated veteran of the Air Force, and a thirty year veteran of the IT industry. He has written industry blogs and is a published nature photographer. He is a writer of historical fiction mystery adventure stories, and lives in Seattle Washington. He loves to read and enjoys hiking in the mountains, and is a lover of coffee.

Here is his first chapter and a little taster of chapter two of book one in ‘The Shadow Trilogy’:

CHAPTER ONE

 The letter

 

 “Why was I sent the letter?”

Susan pulled the last of the weeds, and was heading back to the house when Jennifer came bursting through the backyard gate laughing and shouting. Why is she so happy? Susan could hear her babbling, her dialogue giving only fragments, pacing and jumping, giddy as a child on Christmas morning. She noticed her sister wearing a light wind breaker, jeans and her tee-shirt saying ‘Women Rock’; she was clearly feeling triumphant as she’d received a final letter from her attorney for her recent divorce a week prior.

Walking over to the patio, Jennifer sat on a wooden bench outside on the back porch, at her sister’s home, clutching the letter detailing how her life was about to be altered while Susan passed her entering the kitchen.

Jennifer stared vacuously at the bird fountain standing in the garden amidst the many colorful blooms accenting the lawn, and tugged her thin windbreaker tightly around her slender frame to ward off the chill permeating the morning air. She’d been too distracted this morning to realize she was dressed so inappropriately for a cold morning. She reflected on how different her life was just a month ago.

Contemplating her current situation, she heard the back door swing open admitting her sister, Susan, out onto the porch. She approached the bench where Jennifer sat, still wearing her warm blue fleece robe, hair in a ponytail and make-up free. She gazed sheepishly out at the rising sun which spilled small rays of sunshine across the frosty grass in the yard. In her hands, were two steaming cups of coffee. Susan offered her the welcome cup of liquid warmth. “Here you go, Jen, nothing like hot fresh java to start the morning,” she said, giving her a warm, affectionate smile.

She took the mug her sister offered sipping the hot liquid slow and deliberately, closing her eyes, savoring the warmth. “This is amazing,” she said holding it between both hands willing the heat to warm her entire body. “Thanks, Suz, I needed coffee.”

“Saw you dancing in the garden out there. What’s up?”

“You’re never going to believe this but I received a letter from a law firm in England on behalf of Uncle Tom. I am required to attend the reading of his will.”

“A law firm in England?”

Her sister didn’t respond, but stared out past the lawn. She’d received a letter after the death of her uncle stating she was her uncle’s heir; he’d bequeathed to her a home she didn’t even know existed. To add to the confusion, it was situated in England on a separate continent.  Only two months had passed since they had last spoken with him. He’d never said anything about owning a home in England. It was crazy to think she inherited something half way around the world.

Right now Susan didn’t know whether to be excited or jealous. Why had her uncle sent Jennifer a letter about a property she hadn’t known of?

Jennifer’s smartphone came to life, indicating yet another text message. Typing a reply, it vibrated again, another voice mail message. She disliked the endless interruptions, and to pay for all those impersonal people dividing tech toys people thought they couldn’t live without, knowing they were going to break when the warranty ran out. Distraction was a common theme in her life, and her mind kept revisiting the events causing her current state of confusion.

Her emotions became a roller coaster of sadness, confusion and sometimes excitement at the mystery awaiting her. After a few moments of companionable silence, she glanced up at her sister and asked a question she knew she couldn’t answer but still felt compelled to ask. “Why do you suppose our uncle chose me as his heir for an estate I didn’t know of? I’m not certain if I should be excited or not. I don’t understand,” said Jennifer feeling bewildered and uncertain. Both sisters had received letters from Uncle Tom, and both only knew of a house in America.

Glancing at her sister in her periphery, she saw her staring thoughtfully, out past the lawn; she knew from years of living with her that she was contemplating, reflecting a bit before she offered an answer.

Susan was never hasty, always planning and thinking ahead, never quick to judge without considering the variables. So she gets to inherit an estate while I raise kids. All my life, she was the pretty one, the one the guys were drawn to. Of course I can’t say anything about it, to do so will put our sibling relationship at risk.

“My fear of flying is enough for me to not want to leave the US, while you have always dreamed of traveling to Europe. I’m grateful for Uncle Tom’s house in the US,” said Susan.

“Yeah, I’ve always wanted to travel to Europe,” said Jennifer sipping her coffee. “Our family and friends have always known of my passion for European history.”

“Well, Jen, it makes sense our uncle would list you as his benefactor and bequeath you his estate. I think he felt closer to you,” she stated with quiet objectivity and understanding. She paused and then continued.

“You always seemed to understand one another but I can’t offer any insight regarding the mysterious property. Besides, you are a bit of a Nancy Drew, especially when it came to finding lost treasure.  I’m sure you’ll figure it out.”

Glancing at her sister, Jennifer returned a sibling compliment. “You’re pretty smart yourself, Suz!”

Jennifer’s smartphone lit up and showed yet another text message. She began typing a text reply then listened to yet another voice mail message. “Perhaps the lawyers will be able to offer more of an explanation.” As she thought about what Susan had said, and the conclusions reached, she realized how right her sister could be.

Ever insightful, Susan managed to answer her question with the simplest, most obvious explanation. “I’m going to get on the computer and make flight reservations for you.”

“Flight reservations,” said Jennifer with a concerned look at her face. “Hey, Sus—yeah; let me pay for it. It isn’t fair to you, I mean with the kids and everything.” She felt like a burden to her sister.

“Stop worrying. My husband and I are doing fine,” she said, placing her hand on her sister’s arm.

Jennifer’s smartphone showed an email message indicating her reservation for the next morning. “OK, kiddo, you’re all set.” Your plane goes through Chicago with a stop in New York before heading over the pond to England. Maybe this will be an easy thing for you, and it will all be over soon.” Out of concern for her sister she advised her to check for a contact number for Shaldorn, and to call them to let them know she had flight reservations, and would arrive the next morning.

Per her sister’s advice Jennifer called the number in the letter. They advised her a driver would be picking her up at the airport.

The next morning she showered and packed, part excited and part nervous about the whole thing. After getting dressed Jennifer glanced at her reflection in the bathroom mirror, holding the ancient coin she wore as a necklace her uncle had given her. She slid her fingers over the necklace, gently fingering the surface of the ancient coin. Her uncle had told her it wasn’t a replica from some tourist shop but an authentic coin, and it would bring her luck.

She didn’t have lots of relatives scattered around the world. There was just herself, her sister, her mother and now this. What if she did have relatives she’d never met?

The smell of fresh coffee filled the house as her sister entered the room handing her a package and an e-ticket. “OK, here you go, kiddo.” 

“Sus…thank you,” her cheeks blushed – her sister was always taking care of her, even into adulthood. “You’re always taking care of me.” Jennifer’s eyes began to water.

 “Hey…don’t worry about it. You’re my sister,” she said speaking slowly, her eyes giving away her concern. “Oh, by the way, Jennifer, this came the day before yesterday. I meant to tell you but I guess I got caught up in our conversation about the letter, and your trip.”

She opened the cylindrical shipping tube and pulled out what looked like a document rolled up, with string tied around it and a wax seal.

Looking on with the curiosity of a child eying a birthday present, Jennifer took in a breath. “This is strange. Why would Uncle Tom send me a document with a wax seal?” She raised a brow.

“I don’t know but he always did like history.” Susan peered at it. “It’s one of the things I loved about him.” Her eyes twinkled. Picking it up from the table, she was about to break the seal, when her sister stopped her.

“Wait, look at the seal. Not the kind most people use. It’s not his initials. It almost looks like…” Turning toward the mirror, she felt the coin around her neck. “Oh my God, it’s the same as the seal. But why would our uncle send such a document?” She held it near the wax seal. “It’s the same image as the one on the coin necklace uncle gave me.”

Susan’s eyes widened. “Oh, wow. It is the same. What’s up with that?”  

“I don’t know.”

“I’ll give you some privacy,” said Susan padding for the door. “But I’d love to hear the scoop on what’s in the letter.”

CHAPTER TWO

 Over the pond

Jennifer’s mind span with questions as she broke the seal; slowly she opened the leather scroll lined with parchment paper. It was thick and rough. As she smoothed the page out, she saw that it was old and littered with deep creases than ran across it. Sweeping black letters were written in calligraphy, not quite uniform lines, and a myriad of golden and scarlet clouds decorated the edge of the yellowing surface.

Dearest Jennifer, dated July 30,

I miss you and wish we could spend time together like we used to. William died two months ago and he left his entire estate to me. Can you believe that? I was so shocked but I knew that he always trusted me. I must tell you that my health is not good. I’ve not been feeling well these past days while dealing with the affairs of the estate. This place is very special, Jennifer, and there are many things you need to know. First, the staff here is terrific, you would like them. I’m getting up there in years as you know, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about my life, and yours. I know life has been tough for you at times but it is my hope that things will get better for you soon. Right now I am trying to find a way to pay the taxes on this property, and am having a tough time with it. As you know I am not the jet setter Mr. Success. I’m just a simple old man who was lucky enough to befriend William during the war, and was here when he died. The property here is large and requires a small staff to maintain it. He told me of strange things. I couldn’t believe he would tell me all this but I guess he trusted me enough. I have so much to tell you. Wish you were here. You can trust the staff here except for…someone is coming, I have to go. Please come as soon as you can.

Love

Uncle Tom

#

Puzzled even more by the letter Jennifer rolled up the parchment and put it into her carry bag, and headed for the door. Standing on the front porch with her sister they said goodbye.

***

Here’s the stunning book cover:

New Book Cover

 

***

If you’d like to see your work in my Guest Writer Spot, please contact me here or by e-mail: esthernewton@virginmedia.com. I accept stories, poems, articles – in fact, anything and everything. All you have to do is make sure your prose is no longer than 2000 words and your poems no more than 40 lines.

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My Weekly Writing Challenge

Need some inspiration to get your creative juices flowing? Then why not give my latest writing challenge a go?

Option one: Write a limerick with the word BERK in it somewhere

Option two: Write a poem on the theme of SECRETS

Option three: Write a twenty-word story using all of the following words: DESTROYED, ALIBI, PROTOTYPE, NAUGHTY, BOB and BALLET

Last week option one was to write a limerick with the word TROUBLE featuring in it somewhere. You certainly didn’t have any trouble coming up with some brilliant limericks:

Jason Moody was the first one to get his fabulous limericks in this week:

The nerds in the room were in trouble
As they had lost contact with Hubble
They had sweaty palms
And this raised alarms
As they were called to the boss on the double.

Little George craved a chocolatey Mars
But they were all stored away in posh jars
He grabbed it, it slipped
He’s in trouble, it’s chipped!
But thank God it wasn’t the Ming vase.

The trouble with being a teen
Is that they’re predisposed to be mean
Sarcasm’s the law
Their manners are poor
And their bedrooms are rarely that clean.

Trouble is a song by Coldplay
And Chris Martin’s voice is Ok
I prefer the song Yellow
Because it’s quite mellow
But I prefer Shakespeare’s Sisters’ song, Stay.

Trouble is a good friend of mine
He has been since I was nine
But as I grow old
I do as I’m told
And for me, I guess that’s just fine.

“What do you mean I’m in trouble?”
“The woman said single, not double”
So I poured her another
And imagined her smothered
Under a ton of fresh rubble.

Bindu was next in with a clever limerick:

When I burst the forbidden bubble
I found myself in deep, deep trouble
Coz I had firmly been asked to refrain
From making unnecessary false and tall claims
For was I anything more than a mere “muggle”?

Keith Channing shows why he is the master:

Published today asHubble, bubble, soil and trouble?

When NASA first sent up the Hubble
The blasted thing kept seeing double
To arrange a rebuttal
Brave men in a shuttle
Went up there and sorted the trouble.

While her mother was wrist-deep in soap,
A child with a voice full of hope
Asked, “If it’s no trouble
Can you blow me bubble?”
Her mother said, “Go ask the Pope!”

The child thought her mum was referring
To the Papacy, known as unerring.
That the Bishop of Rome
Should trouble their home,
Is an outcome she was not inferring.

A Pope came – ‘twas Dave from the quarry
Turned up in a herfing great lorry
Not bringing her trouble,
Just a truckload of rubble
“Ten quid,” he said, “or you’ll be sorry.”

The mum said, “In here on the double
But first you must shave off your stubble.
I don’t like your tenor
But you do look like Ben Hur [groan]
So I’ll thank you quite well for your trouble.”

…and the child never did get her bubble.

And if you were wondering where Graeme Sandford‘s gems are this week, you need look no further:

The Trouble With Limericks

The trouble with Limerick-writing
Is at first they seem so inviting
But after a while
They don’t
And they really get up your nose.

Which is not to say I won’t write them
No, I shall still take the time to invite them
Ask them to tea
Or for a party
Or whatever they need to excite them.

All this may not appeal to a man from Wisconsin
Because Limericks are seldom about him
It’s not that he’s boring
He’s a (door-to-door) salesman of flooring
And it’s not our position to doubt him.

In fact, he’s a really nice fellow named Chuck
Which is ‘Charles’ in the mother place yUK
And if he has a fault
It’s his liking for malt
And his lack of a thing we call luck.

For example, last week on Friday the 13th
He was mowing his lawn when he pulled a muscle in his back
And,
As you can tell,
He doesn’t really fit the Limerick format that well.

Whereas, a pretty young lady from Kettering
Was in need of some knowledge for her bettering
She read in a book
About 50 shades to cook
And from her cooker she now needs unfettering.

This all goes to show that a Limerick
Is essential and not at all like a gimmerick
And a place it is too
And it also has a zoo
And a shop where you can buy saffron and turmeric.

A one-eyed potato named Spudsey
Had a mate (who also had one eye) by the known name of Pudsey
But, he was no bare
For he had much hair
And at bath time he became Pudsey Sudsey!

The trouble with Spudsey was his eye
It was causing him pains, by and by
He went to the docs
In his jacket and socks
But, the doctor wasn’t an amicable guy.

Spudsey’s hopes were dashed
So he went and got mashed
In a pub
Rub a dub
And then went over to Pudsey’s – where he crashed.

The tale of this potato’s sad life
With all of his troubles and strife
Did come to an end
When he realised his friend
Pudsey was firstly a girl, then his wife.

Jane Willis enjoyed writing this super limerick:

Pistol Shrimp make you see double;
They can make cavitation bubbles.
One snap of a claw
Stuns a fish to the floor –
These guys sure enjoy causing trouble.
Jane Basil has had a go at all three challenges. Please click on the following links to see her brilliant pieces:

David Harrison sent in two entertaining limericks:

Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble

Decided to get into trouble

But Wilma and Betty

And their old friend Hetty

Soon deflated the miscreants’ bubble!

 –

I shouldn’t have looked at the stars

After downing a couple of jars

As I peered through the Hubble

I was in double trouble

When I mistook a stripper for Mars.

Option two: Write a poem on the theme of FEAR. There were some varied and brilliant poems:

Bindu sent in a poem on how to deal with fear:

Let not fear stroll anywhere near.
Should it find its way around,
You no longer remain sane or sound.
So trounce it beneath your feet
Before fear picks up & gathers heat.
The moment fear you do meet
Or face to face, fear you greet.
To thrash that gnawing emotion
Just call out loud and clear,
“Scoot you devil, why are you even here?”

And one which is more chilling:

Dark clouds gather and try to overpower
As fear turns monstrously big.
Rears its frightening face
My heart-beats pick up pace
Till they reach a crescendo
And my twirling thoughts an inferno
My within, emerges out
In fear I do shout.
But not a sound is heard;
Am terribly scared
My voice rooted in my chords.

 EDC Writing wrote a haunting poetic prose piece:

I’ve asked myself so many times if you are real, if you only exist because I want you to, that you only live and breathe on here, and in my imagination. I’ve replayed in my mind all we’ve ever said, tried to find the meaning, the truth of our feelings in the endless sea of words. Since a child I’ve had one fear, of drowning, I think I understand it now, of not hanging on, no matter what, to what means most to me, to you. Without you I feel I’m slipping away, out of my depth, unable to breath, beyond the reach of anyone, but you. You are my lifeline, my kiss of life, the reason my heart beats. You are real, a part of me, it’s the way it is.

Rajiv Chopra sent in a strong poem:

Fear not fear, but fear thyself; You must not run, nor hide. Your lies will catch you in the end, And hurl you into your private Hell.

To look inside, we always fear; We hate to lose our myths so dear. Who shall meet us at The Gate? It’s not St Peter who seals our fate.

When the Doors of Death open wide, You’ll find there is no place to hide. No God, no Devil are in their place, All you see is your true face.

You fear Yama by the riverside; You fear his smiling face. He sees your soul, his eyes see all; They pierce you like a fiery ball.

Fear not fear, but fear thyself, You have tried to run and hide. Yama shows you your True Face, You seek redemption, and Death’s embrace.

Graeme Sandford‘s poem takes on a more serious note than his limericks:

I fear to tread
Where angels bled
Where demons roamed
Where Satan rehomed.

I fear to speak
And hear my words
As others hear;
Do they hear the fear?

I fear to look
To see the book
With my name upon
When I have gone.

I fear to ask
And avoid the task
And shrink like violets in a godlike sun
For it is indeed a fearsome one.

I fear to hear
The words you hear
And when your words are near
I disappear.

Option three: Write a twenty-word story using all of the following words: BARBARIC, ECONOMY, NUN, TRIVIA, QUANDARY and LOVE

Once Jason Moody got started on these stories, he couldn’t stop!:

Ailsa, the barbaric nun, was sat in economy. Her love of trivia put her in a quandary about flying Virgin.

“I’m in a quandary,” said the nun.

“I know. Your love of barbaric trivia has ruined the economy,” replied God.

“£1:50 for economy love hearts? That’s barbaric,” said the nun.

“That’s the quandary,” smiled the shopkeeper, no hint of remorse.

“Nun?”

“Nope.”

“Barbaric?”

“Nope.”

“Love?”

“Nah.”

“Economy?”

“Way off.”

“I’m in a quandary. What is the password?”

“I’m not telling.”

“Economy?”

Sue was not pleased. She loved business. Mingling with the barbaric hoards? Ugh.
What a quandary for a nun.

Lunchtime gossip was rife.

“Barbaric? A nun?”

“She was in economy apparently.”

“She’s in a right quandary now, poor love.”

NEWS HEADLINE.

“Barbaric actions of the government leave economy in a quandary.”

“Interesting headline, I love it,” said the nun.

“These economy tissues are barbaric on ones bottom,” said the nun to the clerk.

“Try these.”

What a quandary.

“Spell economy,” said the host.

The nun froze. What a quandary. Mind blank. What a barbaric embarrassment.

The poor love.

Bindu sent in a fun story:

Economy love is trivia to a caring nun who views a picture of barbaric Hun and goes into a quandary!

Rajiv Chopra sent in a quirky story:

The nun was in love with trivia contests. But the barbaric economy put her in a quandary – to lose, or not?

EDC Writing couldn’t resist the lure of the 20-word story:

Blue nun, a quandary, no economy of words, makes love sounds, creates barbaric images, trivia doesn’t hack it for her!

Here’s David Harrison’s hilarious story:

I would love a barbaric nun full of fiscal trivia running the economy. George Osborne in a quandary? You bet!

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Markets For Writers

Whether you’re a poet, short story writer or novelist, this week’s market could be for you. The Yeovil Literary Prize has been going for thirteen year now and they’re inviting entries for four different categories:

NOVEL: You can send in the opening chapters of your novel and the synopsis, up to 15,000 words.

SHORT STORY: Short stories up to 2000 words are accepted.

POEM: Poems up to 40 lines are requested.  

WRITING WITHOUT RESTRICTION: For this category, they’re looking for something a bit different.

The closing date is 31st May 2016. The prizes are excellent and differ for each category. To find out more information about them, the entry fees and how to enter, visit the competition page.

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Funny Of The Week/Nutty Newspaper Headlines Part Eight

Perhaps it’s just me, but surely his head would hurt…just a little?!

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Monday Motivations

It’s not long until the closing date of my two short story competitions. You have until 31st May to get your entries in. To find out more about them, see my competition page. One of the competitions is for a flash fiction story of up to 100 words. You can write a chilling story to bring me out in goose bumps, a beautiful love story, or you could go for a story to make me laugh.  Here’s one of mine for you:

The Killing

The knife plunges in. Blood oozes out, splashing me, cascading down. Again I stab, deeper this time. Unyielding, I go on. My eyes are alive, opening wide.

I stop. What have I done?

I look around me and smile; I sigh in relief, wiping my sweat-soaked forehead. Just a day-dream. Then the nagging starts up again, the whine of the whinging voice. A flash of silver catches my eye. A knife. No. I can’t. I won’t.

But sometimes my mother-in-law makes me feel that way.

 ***

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Guest Writer Spot

This week’s guest writer is Rachel Garrod. It’s my great pleasure to welcome her to this slot for the first time. Here is a little bit about her, in her own words:

‘I am 48 years old and for the past 3 years my husband and I have lived in Spain near Marbella. Ostensibly the move from the Uk was due to my husband’s retirement but also an opportunity for a better quality of life, the chance to get a dog – Columbus – and for me to develop my writing. I joined WB before we left and have found it very useful and motivating.

‘I now write a monthly blog on health related matters (I am a respiratory physiotherapist and stop smoking counsellor) and a bimonthly article writer for Home and Lifestyle magazine here on the Costa as well as my WB assignments. I have joined a weekly short story writing group here which is a lot of fun – hence plenty of short stories! I also still practice Physio and lecture so am keeping busy. And yes … It is a better quality of life here!’

A change of fortune

by

Rachel Garrod

It had been a shit few months. Rebecca´s cheating boyfriend had dumped her, the indignity of it – him dumping her! The novel she had slogged over every night and weekend had been ceremoniously rejected by more than one editor. Simply not up to our standards wrote the snooty agent at Red Lion publishing and now her landlord had told her she would have to move out of her cramped one bedroom flat in Clapham, as he wanted to sell it.

So it was hardly surprising that she was feeling mightily pissed off and even a bit depressed. She sat morosely at the one table in the flat. Her hair, lank and needing a cut, drooped in front of her like a dirty bead curtain. Aimlessly she turned the page of the local free paper when unexpectedly an advert caught her eye. Rebecca wasn’t normally susceptible to advertising from quacks and weirdos, as she thought of them. Charlatans promising to change your life with a crystal or tell your future from your hand, but her mood was so low that today it seemed as though this was written just for her.  Need to turn your life around? she read, I can help you gain clarity and inner peace.    

Along Clapham High Street scurried a procession of people huddled in coats and swaddled in scarves and hats. They reminded her of a line of furry caterpillars she´d once seen on holiday in Portugal. She passed trees bearing plastic bags instead of leaves and barely noticed the steady stream of Pound Savers, hair-dressers, Argos shops and pharmacies that seemed to be the staple of all high streets nowadays.

His name was Connor, he´d said when she had phoned and he lived in this tenement block. A nondescript grey brick building, probably an old council property now privately owned thanks to Maggie´s legacy. He opened the door and she thought how well he suited his environment, dressed as he was in shabby brown corduroys and a soft fleecy jumper. But his bright blue eyes were welcoming and when he invited her in his soft Irish lilt filled the hallway with a melodious tune.  He bustled around making tea and he quickly placed unexpectedly pretty china tea cups and a matching pot on the table in front of her. Connor reached out and took her hands in his. Normally reserved, Rebecca was surprised to find she didn’t feel uncomfortable, holding hands with this stranger. They said nothing for what seemed long minutes, he just smiling slightly and she feeling strangely warm and at peace. 

Connor released her hands so she could sip at her tea and chatted amicably with her. He was a gardener he said, had worked in banking but got sick of it all after the recession and scandals hit. He liked the harmony of gardening and the simplicity of working outside. He liked being his own boss too, he said and Rebecca nodded thinking how much she disliked her boss and her crappy job in the post office.

Their tea drunk Connor took to holding her hands again across the little Formica table. They were quiet and Rebecca found herself reflecting on her cheating, now ex-boyfriend. He´d been a pig really she realised, even if he hadn’t cheated on her he still would have been a crap boyfriend. Never turning up when he said he would, letting her down at the last minute. There was that one time at a party when she could swear he´d been kissing a girl in the bathroom, even though he insisted he hadn´t the girl´s perfume clung to him like a scandalous necklace. She was better off without him – and for once this old cliché felt like the absolute truth.

Connor smiled. “Feeling better?” he asked.

“Yes, funnily enough I am. Was there something in that tea?” she joked.

He poured another cup for her, “No nothing, but sometimes tea and a bit of chat can be pretty helpful when you´re feeling down.” She thought it was probably something more than that but the thought wouldn´t form words in her mind.  

Instead, growing silent again, Rebecca considered her novel. All that hard work and the disappointment at each rejection. One editor had been quite sweet she remembered, saying it was a fair attempt at a first novel but not sufficiently rounded out to be publishable. Rounded out, thought Rebecca, that´s what I need in my life. More variety, excitement, more people, more stuff! Because of the book, or maybe that was just an excuse, she´d been pretty reclusive, seeing only the boyfriend – now ex- when he deemed it worth the trouble. Maybe it wasn’t good enough to be published she suddenly thought. Maybe she´d had a lucky break. A flop wouldn’t have helped her self-esteem much would it? The main character in her novel, a woman of a similar age to Rebecca, had been gutsy and full of spark, she´d upped sticks and moved to Spain working in an Irish bar. Rebecca had loved writing the scenes in the bar, the craic was always full on and she´d actually been jealous of her character.

A slow realisation came to her. She could change her life, if she wanted. She looked at Connor´s neat fingernails mildly surprised they weren´t dirtier; he was, after all a gardener. But what else was he she wondered? A healer? A carer? It didn´t matter she supposed. Whatever he was, he hadn´t lied. He had helped her gain clarity.  

Connor gently broke into her thoughts, “So have you made some plans?”

Rebecca realised she had. “Yes, I don´t know why I didn’t see it before, thank you, Connor. I´m going to chuck in my awful job, take advantage of losing my home and move to Spain. I´ll get some work there easily enough I´m sure. I even speak some Spanish,” Standing to leave Rebecca gave Connor a hug, “And you know, I bet there´d be plenty of work for gardeners out there if you wanted to come with me:”

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If you’d like to see your work in my Guest Writer Spot, please contact me here or by e-mail: esthernewton@virginmedia.com. I accept stories, poems, articles – in fact, anything and everything. All you have to do is make sure your prose is no longer than 2000 words and your poems no more than 40 lines.

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You-only-learn-to-be

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