My Weekly Writing Challenge

Before I launch into this week’s challenge, I wanted to mention the problems some of you are having with getting hold of my book, ‘The Siege and Other Award Winning Short Stories’. If you’re in the UK or US, it’s pretty straight forward and you can download it from Amazon UK or Amazon US. I know a few of you in India have tried to download it through the UK site but haven’t been able to. I’ve done some research and you can download it through Amazon India (see links for Amazon UK, US and India under ‘My Latest Book’ page). Other overseas students and followers have let me know that they’ve been able to download it through the Amazon US site even if they’re not resident in the US.

If you still have problems, let me know and I’ll check with my publisher. The book should be available on a number of other e-book sites.   

Now onto My Weekly Writing Challenge: I gave you a single line to insert into your story/poem last week, ‘I wish I hadn’t done it’. And all your characters certainly shouldn’t have done it! I loved the ideas you came up with. Read them all below.

This week’s challenge is for you to take a fairytale e.g. Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Hansel and Gretel etc and give it a modern twist. Rewriting a fairytale is great fun so let’s see what you can come up with!

Here are last week’s entries. Settle back and be entertained:

Eddy has been busy over the past couple of weeks. I’ve missed his entertaining pieces, as I’m sure have you. He’s back with a bang:

I Wish I Hadn’t Done It

I woke up late that morning,
got out of the wrong side of the bed.
It wasn’t a good day for me,
especially considering that now I’m dead.

In my hurry I got in the shower
along with my brand new electric razor,
but luckily it ran out of power
before the cold water hit my head.

For breakfast I ate an old muffin
and washed it down with some sour milk.
Almost got hit by some chuffing
taxi driver, oh how I hate their ilk.

The boss yelled at me for an hour
only to tell me that they had to let me go.
I got diarrhea to rival a pig’s scour
but was cured by my doctor, Mr. Wilk.

The thing that killed me at last,
the thing you’re wondering I wish I hadn’t done,
was to be late to a planned repast
with my girl, instead of walking I should have run.

She shot me a look so cold
that it froze my blue black heart.
“His heart just stopped” she was told.
And now Mr. Wilk will have all the fun.

Keith Channing sent this great story:

The camping trip

“Hurry up, Jane, we’re all ready to go.” I know, I know, Mister Impatient, that’s me. But when I’m ready to go, I don’t like to hang about. I want to go.

“Nearly ready. I’m just making sure we have everything we need for the week. Have you loaded your laptop and the wifi extender?”

“Yes, Jane.”

“And the dogs’ bowls, and food and treats and leads?”

“Yes, Jane.”

“And your medications?”

“Yes, Jane.”

“OK. I’m done. Dogs on board?”

“Yup.”

We climbed into the camper, started up, and set off. Five kilometres down the road, we turned back to collect the satnav. And the dogs. Minutes later, we were under way again.

Our destination was a lakeside campsite, some six hours south of us, that we had visited once before. It was raining when we left, but the forecast for the lake area was clear skies and high temperatures. There was just the matter of the mountains we had to cross to get there.

Of course, we could have avoided the mountains altogether. We could have taken the toll roads; that would have added cost both for the tolls and for the considerable extra distance involved, but it would have taken almost an hour off the journey. We decided, okay, I decided that we had more spare time than we had spare money, so we took the mountain route. The old camper doesn’t like steep hills too much, and spent a lot of that part of the journey threatening to overheat at any suggestion of use of the accelerator. We climbed the hills like a 1930s coach; slowly. But climb them we did. Four times we had to stop for the old girl to cool off – the camper, that is, not Jane.
The six hours planned for the journey extended to seven, then to eight.

We eventually reached our destination. The final few minutes were spent on a new road not in the satnav’s map, and the constant bickering from it was driving us nuts.

“If that bloody machine tells us once more to turn back, I shall throw the damned thing through the window,” Jane said.

I turned it off. “Best not,” I suggested, “we might need it to get home again.”

That was met with a stern look and nothing else.

As we entered the camp site, it was apparent that we had unwittingly chosen a busy period. Jane seemed annoyed.

“Did you book our pitch?” she asked.

“I meant to, but didn’t get around to it. Sorry.”

“Sorry? Sorry? Will sorry find us a pitch when the place is packed? Will sorry give us somewhere to sleep for the night?”

“Don’t worry, Jane. I’ll talk to the girl in reception and see if they can fit us in.”
“Do that! And woe betide you if she can’t”

The girl at the reception desk was French and, of course, spoke no English. She spoke with a strongly pronounced regional accent, the like of which I had heard before, but could never fathom. My French is okay when I’m talking to our neighbour about the weather, or buying groceries, but not here. Do I ask for an ‘emplacement’? Or is that just for tents? Should it be a ‘stationnement’, perhaps? I looked back at Jane, still sat outside in the camper. Her look said, “I don’t care. Just do it.”

“Having trouble, mate?” a voice asked from behind me. I wasn’t sure how to respond. It took a couple of moments for it to sink in that the man was speaking in English, a language I could understand, even with a midlands twang.

I told him briefly what had happened. He said something to the girl, which obviously fit the bill, as she passed me some papers with our pitch marked on a map of the site.

On the way back to the camper the Englishman, who told me his name was Mike, said that he had lived in this area for more than ten years, and had been employed by the site as a kind of liaison for English- and German-speaking visitors, in addition to some janitorial duties.

“Nice man,” I said to Jane as Mike walked off, presumably to help some other linguistically challenged camper.

“Good job he was there,” she replied, ‘You would never have managed.”

I wanted this to be a nice break for us, and the last thing I needed was an argument. However, we all have our breaking point, and mine had just been reached.

“Will you ever give it a rest, Jane? Don’t you think I’ve been through enough today? I’ve driven this machine for eight hours, nursing it up hills it was never going to climb easily; we’ve had the satnav going stupid on us, then this damned place was full. OK, I should have booked in advance. OK, I should be better at French. But I didn’t and I’m not. That’s the reality and that’s what I have dealt with. We are here. We have our pitch. We are going to have a week here.

“I love you, Jane. Really I do. Sometimes, though, when you are being this negative, and missing no opportunity to put me down, I find it difficult to like you.”

As soon as I had uttered those words, I knew I shouldn’t have. Now, four years after that fateful holiday, sitting here on my own, out of work and penniless in a pokey little bedsit, I wish I hadn’t done it.

Enjoy Steve S. Walsky‘s thoroughly entertaining story:

Senseless Thoughts

Page one: The skylight was a throwback to far too many years; a decretive piece to allow migrating birds to peek in for some inflight entertainment.  Centered over the settee, least one refer to the piece as a sofa, the glass frame of blinding noonday sun and moonless nights, provided little romantic enhancement.  Nor did the artwork on the walls; scenes of color clashes far more intense than the flowers would be in real life.  All in all, even if one took into account that she was an unconventional woman, you had to wonder just what drink frequented her lips prior to establishing this dwelling.  What senseless thoughts were dwelling in her head as she pictured fruition.***

From the look on Darlene’s face, and the quick stiffing of her body, I could read “was this about me?”  Fantastic, by letting her read my story draft, I just froze out any cuddling warmth that might have ignited.  And from the cold draft that now rose between us, I knew it was a mistake to let her eyes see the sarcastic side of me.  I wish I hadn’t done it.

Jason Moody has written a story the child inside us can relate to:

Curiosity killed Christmas

Jamie was restless. He was sat up in bed with his lamp on. Sleep wasn’t an option for an over excited twelve year old. Not on Christmas Eve.

He was also bored. This was a very bad thing. When Jamie was bored, this often led to mischief. And mischief was not a good thing. Not where Jamie was concerned.

He would normally be sat in front of his console at this point, but he had already packed it away in anticipation of getting the new console for Christmas. He couldn’t wait.

“Why on Earth have you packed away your video game, darling?” his Mother had asked.

Playing coy, he thought. He never did understand adults.

Mischief had taken hold. He was fidgety and just about ready to cause trouble. He gently opened his bedroom door, crept along the landing and made his way downstairs. He was very careful to avoid the third step from the top. This troublesome step had seen him caught three times in a month.

He peered around ever corner, as if he was on a secret mission. In a way, he was. So secret, his parents must never find out.

He reached the lounge and gently pushed the door open.

The tree lit up the room. But he wasn’t interested in the tree. His eyes focused on the pile of presents underneath the tree. He counted; there were eight for him. This, he thought, was a good year.

He got down on his knees. He immediately picked up the biggest box that was his. This had to be it. He picked it up; the weight was good. The shape of the box was correct. This had to be it.

A naughty thought entered his head. It wouldn’t hurt to have a little peek, would it?

With that, he carefully started to remove the wrapping from one end. With one end open, he turned the parcel to face him and looked in.

His face dropped and the excitement from moments previous evaporated. His insides felt like they would melt. Right then, the most un-boy like thing happened; he started to cry. The tears tickled as they ran down his face. He felt instantly ashamed.

This wasn’t what he had expected. All the hints, lots of nagging and all he got was this?

A pair of roller blades. He didn’t even like rollerblading. He’d never once expressed a desire to own rollerblades. What would he do, with rollerblades?

He tried very hard not to feel ungrateful. It wasn’t working. Rollerblades?

He jumped to his feet, sniffing back a few tears. Leaving the parcel open, he turned and left the room.

He carefully made his way back up the stairs. This time he wore an expression of utter detestation. He reached his room and entered.

He turned off his lamp and tried to sleep.

He woke suddenly. A man’s voice carried from downstairs.

“Jamie Roberts, you get down here this instant.”

He knew exactly what had happened. He was moments away from a rather good telling off.

He sat up and buried his head in his hands. He pulled his hands down over his face and sighed.
I wish I hadn’t done it, he thought

Ayo Oboro‘s story has a more serious side to it:

Mariam touched her stomach looking bemused, “How can this happen? What is this? At this time? I can’t afford any speed bumps now.”

She got up from the bed and started pacing,shaking her head as if that would make things clearer.

“I have school to finish and my new business to start off, I can’t even afford to feed myself properly. My take home hasn’t been taking me home for some time.”

She looked up to the ceiling, “Why are you doing this to me?”, but she didn’t get any response, not that she expected to.

In a bid to control her agitation she started folding the laundry she had left on the chair two days ago.

She considered having the test done again, this time in a clinic but because it would involve some money and in her present financial position the thought wasn’t appealing. She had taken a home pregnancy test and the result was positive. Just the week before she had broken up with Andrew, had practically thrown him out of her room, the cheating so and so.

As the full understanding of her predicament dawned on her she threw herself on the bed and wept. She couldn’t give full vent to her tears because she didn’t want Madam Eavesdropper across the hall to hear her crying. The jobless old woman whose sole purpose in life seemed to be prowling the corridors and listening at keyholes. She was never embarrassed to ask questions even those that clearly showed she had been listening where she shouldn’t have been.

Mariam realized that her tears wouldn’t change the problem and she would be late for work if she didn’t hurry. Her boss had already warned her once this week about tardiness and she couldn’t afford to lose any part of her pay, not with this.

She started dressing up and then realized she had folded the dress she had put out to wear to work. She shook it out. It was now a bit wrinkled but she didn’t care. Her world had stopped, it had come to a crashing stop and she couldn’t care less what anyone thought of her wrinkled clothes.

She couldn’t remember if Andrew had used any protection. They were both tipsy and in a hurry but she had had confidence in her own prevention thing and now it had failed. The last glass of wine was the culprit; she still had a semblance of sanity before that glass and if she had listened to Irene she wouldn’t have taken the glass Andrew offered.

“I wish I hadn’t done it, I shouldn’t have taken that glass,” she lamented.

Jasdeep Kaur has, as usual, unleashed her imagination to create this brilliant story:

The Apple Orchard

Not very far from my cousin’s village, there was an apple orchard full of juicy red apples. But the strange part was that no child tried to steal an apple from there. Yes it was strange. Who can resist mouth watering fruits and the fun to take them off a protected, fenced land? Not a mischievous kid like me.

That evening, I had decided to explore. But my cousin warned, “Don’t go there. It’s guarded by some magic.”

“Magic..ha,” I said, “I don’t believe you. Say that you are a coward and afraid of being caught.”

My cousin got enraged. He said, “Go, put your hand in tiger’s mouth. I don’t care and I won’t stop you.”

I went to the orchard and looked around, but couldn’t find anyone; no guard, no magician. I opened the gate cautiously and sneaked inside.

I was horrified at the sound of a shrill voice, “Hey you, what are you doing there?” I turned around to see. It was my cousin’s neighbour. I knew he would take me back, so I scuttled in. He was still calling me, “Come back, it’s not safe. Come…”

I stopped when I couldn’t hear him anymore. I was in the heart of the orchard now. It was far more beautiful than I imagined. The apples gleamed among the leaves and the branches swayed as if making them sleep. I approached a branch that was wilted, may be, because it was heavy with so many apples on it. I could not hold the temptation to taste, and yanked an apple.

With a flash, it turned into a boy. “Thank you for freeing me,” he said.

Before I could react, I got converted into an apple and got stuck to the branch, at the same place. I cried, “Help, help, help….”

A voice resounded in the orchard, “No one will. You are enslaved till a brat like you comes to steal an apple and pulls you.” I kept on crying and screaming, but no one came.

Even after a decade, I call for help, and with every passing moment, I wish I hadn’t done it.

 
Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to My Weekly Writing Challenge

  1. Pingback: “Senseless Thoughts” (188 word flash fiction) | Simplicity Lane

  2. Try this, loosely based on The Ugly Duckling:

    Lacking colour

    “I don’t care!” her father said, “Look at it. It’s not normal. It’s no part of this family, and I won’t have it in my house! The spirits are displeased with us. I will consult with the shaman and prepare a sacrifice. Take it away, or it will bring us a lot of bad luck. If you don’t get rid of it, I will.”
    Five minutes after her birth, she had been disowned by her father, having been born with albinism – a total lack of pigmentation, showing itself in deathly-white skin and hair, and pink, almost transparent, irises. Her mother had no alternative but to take her out of the village and try to care for her in the open bush country.

    “My baby needs to be cared for properly. I can’t look after her in the bush; she will die!” her mother
    pleaded.

    “So be it. If that is the will of the spirits, so be it,” came the reply.

    “Let us stay tonight, and I will leave in the morning. Please?”

    “You may stay in the shed with the goats. I don’t want that thing in my house, and I want you gone when the sun rises tomorrow.”

    “Thank you,” her mother said. It wasn’t what she wanted to say; she wanted to say, “that thing is your daughter. You made her the way she is.” But she knew her place, so she just thanked him. “I will return after some time,” she added.

    The next morning, before sunrise, mother and child left the village. The child was fully wrapped against the sun. It made her hot and they had to make frequent stops to take advantage of whatever shade they could find. In the heat of the day, they came across a deserted hut, where they stayed until the sun was low in the sky. They set off at twilight and walked through the night, looking for any food and shelter they could find. This set the pattern for the next four years; living the life of nomads, with no home, no income, no roots. Wherever they went, they were shunned and, despite the mother’s pleas, no village would allow them entry, restricting them to its peripheries. Constantly struggling for food, clothing and shelter, the pair were forced into hiding during daylight hours, avoiding the fierce sun that would burn her daughter’s fragile, unpigmented skin, and the bright light that would hurt her unshielded eyes.

    During their fifth year of wandering they arrived, weak, tired, malnourished and suffering many ailments, at a small Christian mission.

    Knocking weakly on the door, they were met by Fr Manuel, a priest of Spanish origin. Addressing them in their native tongue he asked, “What can I do for you, my child?”

    “My daughter has been born without colour,” her mother said. “Her father refuses to have her in the house, because she will bring bad luck. We have been wandering the bush, feeding on whatever berries and meat we could find, fearing animals and shunned by people. Can you help us?”

    “Of course, my child. We have had one such girl here for almost a year, and our Sisters are well equipped to keep and raise your child. She will be raised in the Christian faith and she will be taught English and Spanish. You also may remain here for as long as you wish. Are you happy with that?”
    “I shall be happy if she remains alive and cared for.”

    “What is the child’s name?” Fr Manuel enquired.

    “She has no name. According to our traditions, she should not be named because she is not human. She is a ghost, a cursed one.”

    After taking a good meal with Fr Manuel and the Sisters, the child’s mother left the mission, saying she would return to her village.

    Once mother had left, Fr Manuel made the arrangements necessary for the child’s care. She was immediately baptised into the Roman Catholic Church, and given the name Clara, which translates as clear or bright.

    Fr Manuel and the Sisters, helped by visiting clergy and lay helpers, cared for Clara and the other albino girl, as well as a small number of orphans. All the children received instruction in the Catholic faith, English, Spanish and a range of other subjects. Despite her very disadvantaged early years, Clara was soon well ahead of the rest of the children.

    On her thirteenth birthday, Fr Manuel called her aside.

    “Clara,” he said, “you know that you are more advanced than any of the others here, don’t you?”

    “I’m truly sorry, Father,” she replied, “I know it is a sin to be boastful and to think of myself as better than the others, and I don’t. But I enjoy all my studies, and I always want to know more. Is that bad? Should I stop?”

    “Not at all, Clara,” Fr Manuel reassured her, “your wish to learn and your ability to learn are precious gifts from God. I am worried that you are now so advanced that there is nothing else we can teach you. I think you are ready for a big step.”

    “What step?”

    “I have written about you to the Archbishop in the capital. He wants you to go there, and to study at the State Academy. He believes you could go on to university and have a great career.”

    “You mean you are sending me away?” Clara asked, angrily, “You promised my mother you would look after me, but you are the same as the rest; you just want to be rid of me because of the colour of my skin!”

    “That isn’t true, Clara, and I think you know it,” replied Fr Manuel, calmly, “We love having you here. You have become an important part of our family. We don’t know who will teach the younger ones, when you leave. We will miss you, terribly. But if you stay here, life will become dull for you. There is very little more we can teach you, and we don’t have the facilities that they have in the academy.”
    Clara went to bed angry, but realised that she was being given an offer she would be foolish to refuse. A week later, she was on her way to the big city, to the capital.

    She settled well with the Archbishop, but things at the academy were less comfortable. Her albinism was a problem. As she had found in the mission, she couldn’t join in many of the outdoor activities, for fear of sunburn, and of accelerating the almost inevitable onset of skin cancers. The light was taking its toll on her eyes, too. Some days it was painful to stare at the screens of the computers she had to use there. That left her with a reputation of being remote and distant, and many felt that she considered herself better than them. There seemed nothing she could do to shake that reputation, or to secure acceptance from her peers. Though she enjoyed her studies, these were sad days for Clara.

    Things improved when she went up to university, where she studied humanities and politics with a special emphasis on the social, political and medical implications of albinism. Her courses required her to spend many hours in ill-lit libraries and studies, which helped her eyes, and much time in discussion and debate; areas in which she excelled, thanks to her sharp wit coupled with highly developed empathic skills.

    After graduation, Clara looked for employment in an area where she could make a difference to other people afflicted with albinism, but there was nothing available. She applied for, and received, a grant from an international philanthropic body, with which she set up a foundation aimed at alleviating the suffering of people with albinism.

    Today, eight years later, Clara is recognised as the foremost African authority on her subject. Her foundation is working with others to produce sunscreen that is effective for her people; to elevate their status in government, commerce and industry and, crucially, to address the old tribal belief that babies born without pigment are evil, or bringers of bad luck and, paradoxically, that body parts taken from people with albinism can render more effective, spells and potions designed to bring luck and wealth.

    Thus has the rejected baby not only become a bright light in her own right, but she is working, with others, to prevent the rejection of other babies like her.

  3. I’ve never got involved in a ‘writing challenge’ but if you do then I’m thinking perhaps I should. Time is an issue, but my interest is piqued

  4. Jasdeep Kaur says:

    I loved Keith’s story. I wonder if it’s true.

  5. Jasdeep Kaur says:

    Beauty with Gadgets

    One day, a rich merchant set off on a voyage for his new venture. Before leaving, he asked his daughter, Beauty, what she wanted on his return. She wished for a gadget with which she could see her father anytime, as she loved him the most. The father promised to fulfil her wish. He left for his business trip on his chartered plane.

    He bought the latest smart phone for her. While returning, he sensed a fault in his plane and forced landed on an island. He tried to contact for help, but nothing worked, not even the latest smart phone. He was left with no choice but to wait. Some radar must have detected it, he thought.

    He decided to explore the island with a hope to find some help. The island was exquisitely maintained. There must be someone who took care of it, he thought and started moving inwards. He saw a marvellous palace. The doors of the palace were open, but he couldn’t see anybody there. The palace was cosy and there was a unique warmth in the ambiance. He saw the food kept on a magnificent dining table. He savoured the delicacies and wondered who could be taking care of him. He felt very sleepy and slept on one of the most luxurious beds.

    While having breakfast, his eyes landed on a golden rose on the table. It gleamed every few seconds. He touched it and it spoke, “Whom do you wish to see?”

    Instantly, he said, “Beauty.” One of the petals of the rose displayed Beauty’s face. He turned the rose to see closely and it started showing the garden where she was sitting. She was sad. The merchant knew why, and picked his things to go back and check if some help had arrived on the beach.

    Just then, a thought flashed in his mind, what could be a better gift for her daughter? At first, he hesitated. But then he thought that it was not on the table yesterday, and it may be a gift from the owner. With this notion, he picked the golden rose gadget and moved towards the palace door.

    His way was blocked by a gruesome, ferocious beast. He said, “How dare you steal my belonging? You’ll have to forsake your life now.”

    The merchant begged for mercy, and pleaded, “Please let me go. My daughter is waiting for me. She loves me so much that she’ll die if I don’t go back.”

    The beast relieved him on a condition that he must send her daughter in his place. The merchant went to the beach and heard the engine of his aircraft roaring. He went home with heavy heart, and gave the golden rose gadget to Beauty.

    Beauty’s delight turned into sorrow when she knew that she’d have to leave her father and go. But she could do anything for her father; even live with a grizzly beast. She set off on the automated plane to the island. The GPS machine set by the beast steered her the way, and she reached the island. A robotic car welcomed her and took her to the palace.

    She was horrified to see the beast, but tried not to show. The beast was very kind to her and lavished her with all the amenities. He would sit with her and chat for hours. Soon they became good friends. Beauty started liking his intelligence and wit. One day, the beast asked Beauty to marry him. Beauty didn’t like the idea but kept quiet. She didn’t want to hurt such a nice heart. She went to her room without saying a word.

    She saw her father in the golden rose gadget. As always, he was in grief. She knew, he must be missing her. But what disturbed her today was not only his frail face, but the eyes of Jack, his assistant. She spoke about it to the beast and he took her to the projector that displayed Jack’s cabin. He was plotting the plan to kill her father. She must act fast, or she may lose her father. The beast understood the sensitivity of the matter and showed her the magical chair that could instantly take her anywhere.

    While leaving, the beast told her that he’ll die if she doesn’t come back. She promised that she’ll tell her father and come back as soon as possible. She took the golden rose and fastened the seat belt. The chair twirled, gained speed, and turned into a tornado. In an instant she was at her home. Her father was elated to see her.

    Beauty told him everything she saw. without delay, the matter was reported to the police and Jack was behind the bars. The rapid series of action didn’t leave any time with Beauty to think of the beast. It was more than a week now. She was clearing her things when she found the golden rose. She got reminded of what the beast had said before leaving. She immediately touched it and asked it to show the beast.

    She was terrified to see the beast lying in his bed. He was mumbling her name again and again. She told her father that she must go. Her father tried to stop her, but she insisted. She sat in her magical chair, and reached the palace. She ran to his room. He was motionless. Beauty held his hand and started sobbing.

    She said, “Please say something. I cannot live without you. I love you too.”

    The beast turned into a handsome prince. She was bewildered. The prince told him that it was the spell of the alien that had turned him into a beast, as he had denied to marry her and go to her planet. The alien deemed that it was impossible to break the spell, as no one could love a beast in spite of his ugliness. But the kind heart of Beauty loved him and broke the spell.

    They told everything to her father, and he got them married gladly. Beauty was very happy. Now she had a handsome loving husband, the blessings of her father, and the gadgets of the alien.

    • Beauty and the alien – I love it! I thanked you for your comment on Keith’s story and mentioned how great his stories are – and I have to say, so are yours. It’s a real, treat to read them 🙂

  6. Jasdeep Kaur says:

    Thanks a lot, and I agree with you that Keith’s stories are great read. They stay with you for long. I still remember his flash fiction based on how a soul looks for a new body for continuing its mission.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s