My Weekly Writing Challenge

Last week, you had the option of writing a story or poem about ‘darkness’, an ’emergency’ or ‘freedom’. Well, the ‘darkness’ theme certainly got you thinking. Some fantastic stories are published below. So, this week, we move on to ‘G, H and I‘. My themes for your stories and poems are ‘Grotto‘, ‘Hospital‘  and ‘Isolation‘. To give you some ideas on these themes, click on the link to my ideas page:

https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/monday-motivationsthe-abc-of-short-story-ideas-part-three/

Here are last week’s stories. A word of warning – you’ll need the tissues for the first two.

Keith Channing brings you his highly emotive story:

Darkness

Time was, everything in my life was normal. My whole body worked. I could run best part of a mile without being out of puff; running for the bus was a doddle. Had to be, I was so often late getting out of bed that if I didn’t run for the bus, I’d end up missing it and be late for work. My boss was a bit of a tyrant, and would dock me an hour’s pay for every minute I was late. Why that was, I never knew. We had to be at our workstations by eight o’clock every morning, Monday to Saturday, but never actually started work until half past, and then we started quite gently. It was probably nine o’clock before we were in full swing.

It must have been when I was about fifty-five that things started to go downhill. By then I had a car and drove to work, so no need to run for the bus any more. That was just as well; I don’t think I could have done it then. Middle-age spread had taken hold as well, and Lil, my missus, reckoned I had a beer gut to die for. She was probably right. When we got married, I was just over ten stone – a bit skinny, truth be told – but by fifty-five I was more than fourteen stone. Doctor told me I should lose at least two stone, but that was a lot easier for him to say than it was for me to do. I tried, but after I lost my Lil to cancer – well, I didn’t have the will to look after myself any more. By the time I was sixty, I was over sixteen stone, and couldn’t hardly even walk, let alone run. Doctor said I had diabetes and had me injecting myself with insulin every day, testing my blood and all sorts of malarkey. Gave me a diet sheet, too. Fat good that was. It was hard work to walk and I couldn’t stand for long, so cooking was doubly hard. It was easier to call the takeaway and have dinners delivered every day. That way I always had a good meal, tasty too, even if it wasn’t what the doctor ordered.

About five years ago, my eyesight started to get a bit dim. Slowly at first; I had all the light bulbs replaced with 100 watt ones, which helped for a while. And I moved my chair closer to the telly so I could see it better. For reading the papers, I had a magnifying glass. That made it easier, but only for a while. Over about three years it was getting worse and worse. I know I should have done something about it earlier; spoken to the doctor or even gone to Specsavers, but you don’t like to make a fuss, and it was getting much harder to go anywhere, what with the state my feet were in, and everything.

Later, it got so I couldn’t see anything. Oh, I wasn’t blind, as such; I could make out shapes and light and dark, but that was about all. But even that went in the end.

For over a year now I’ve been in a world of total darkness. Let me tell you; unless you’ve been in a darkroom or something like that, you don’t know what darkness is. There is nothing; no slight glimmer; no distant light; no faint glow, such as you get even on the darkest night; nothing. And knowing that it’s never going to get any better is horrible, I can tell you.

I don’t know what it’s like for people born blind, but to lose your sight, to know that you are never, ever going to see the light of day again — that’s my definition of hell.

 
Jasdeep Kaur‘s true story is so inspirational:
 

His bike skidded and fell into the pit. Though the lights were dim, the pit was wide enough to be seen and he was not speeding. He had practiced road concentration and alertness in his car or on his bike on high speeds even on the rugged roads. He had a dream of going into the Himalayan Car Rally. But today’s accident changed it all.

His life was nothing less than a race. From all sorts of sports to studies to gaining knowledge on diverse subjects and technologies, he didn’t ever get tired or slow down. His dreams were equally swift. He wanted to join the air force and design a highly modern aircraft. At the same time, his pace never allowed even the slightest of details to overpass his eyes. The same happened that evening. He stood near his fallen bike pondering as to why he slipped.

He sensed that there must be something wrong with his eyesight. He went to the local ophthalmologist, who told him that everything was fine. But the doctor’s statement did not satisfy him. He started observing and comparing his vision with his peers, and concluded that a further diagnosis was required. He went to one of the best ophthalmologists in the town, who conducted rigorous examinations as nothing was clearly apparent. The diagnosis resulted in the existence of a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa. The doctor asked him to sit outside while some discussions with his parents were taking place. He was very sure that something serious was being hidden from him. He went home and searched the Internet. What he found gave him the shock of his life.

It was a degenerating condition, where his genes would keep on killing the cells of his retina till he went completely blind, and even the high doses of vitamin A would not be able to help him. He was off-grounded. His fast paced life was put to an abrupt halt.

He felt that a strong gush of wind took his dreams with it. He went into a phrase of depression. He circumvented his environ, and started digging deeper in himself. His desires took a back seat, and the question of leading an honourable life took precedence over everything else. Depending on others for his survival and well being was like a living death for him.

But his energy didn’t let him stay in the state of despair for long. Soon he realized, he had to act fast. This was indeed a state of emergency. He must prepare for blindness before it actually came. He went to a rehabilitation centre to gain all the required skills even when he had a decent amount of useful vision. At the same time, he started exploring career options that would enable him to live his life with dignity.

He was fascinated to see that the visually impaired could operate computers with screen readers like a sighted person. This stream of study appealed to him as it dealt with innovations, and he enrolled for Computer Engineering. During his studies, his vision started deteriorating further, and he could read and write only in an exorbitantly lit room or the natural light. Every time he wasn’t lucky enough to get an appropriate seat. He spoke to the head of the institute to allow him extra time or provide him a writer, which got a very negative response. It was suggested he leave engineering studies and look for some secure government job, where he needn’t do anything to get paid. This was enough to challenge him.

He prepared for the exams by writing in dim light. He used scales for getting the correct alignment of words, and finally, he cleared his engineering with good grades. The path ahead was still not easy for him. A company wouldn’t hire him unless he had a proven track record. He started as an volunteer for an organization that was aimed at injecting accessibility in every book being published. His skills were admired and he was appointed as Software Developer by the organization. This opportunity unravelled the knots and unleashed a limitless field of success for him.

At each step, he kept on acquiring new skills and kept on growing in his career, and every time, he had to struggle for accessible study material. He had now found a purpose for his life. Knowledge acquisition, as he believes, is the key to the personal and professional growth. He aims at equipping everyone, regardless of their disability, with the skills and knowledge that will enable them to lead a satisfying life.

Now he works as strategist and project director for the organization of world fame, and is determined to unleash the world of knowledge for everyone irrespective of their disability. He believes this was God’s plan. The darkness of his life created an emergency to prove himself that made him work on an action plan for the freedom of the entire community.

 

Jason Moody‘s atmospheric story will intrigue and entertain :

The street lamps flickered into life along the leaf littered street. The stars above began to creep out from their hiding place and fill the sky with a million wonders.

All was quiet. All was well.

In her third floor flat, Georgina Applegate sat up in her bed. The bedside lamp bathed the room in a comforting orange glow.
Sat on the bedside table was the latest novel by her favourite author. As far as she was concerned, the world was right.

A little less than an hour later, the book slipped from her hands and fell to the floor. Georgina’s snoring signalled the beginning of another night of blissful, uninterrupted sleep.

The electronic buzzing of the alarm shattered the silence of the morning and dragged Georgina from her peaceful slumber.

The led display flickered: 7:15 am.

Her hand reached from under the duvet and groped at the alarm clock, desperately seeking the snooze button. She hit the button, sank underneath the duvet and went back to sleep.

She finally awoke to the sound of cats having a conversation outside in the street.

She shuffled out of bed and headed for her window, oblivious to the lack of light beyond her yellow curtains.

She pulled open the curtains and rubbed her eyes. Everything was black. Not a light to be seen.

Cup of coffee in hand, and wrapped in a winter coat, but still with pink pyjama bottoms showing, she stood outside.

She looked left and right. Other people were milling about in the darkness, just as confused as she was.

She looked up. No glimmering moon, no twitching dots of light punctuating the inky blackness. Nothing. Not a light to be seen.

She opened the gate and crossed the road. She took out her mobile phone and using the torch function, walked down her street.

She had made it as far as the crossroads when she stopped. She couldn’t see them, but the darkness was filled with the confused ponderings of other folk.

“Bloody council. I don’t pay my taxes for this bollocks,” a man she couldn’t see raged.

She made it to the small parade of shops at the next corner. She held her hands out in front of her and groped the darkness. She knew there was a bench here somewhere.

“Ow. Jesus,” she screamed.

She’d found it. She sat down and began to furiously rub her shin. She stopped, only because she could hear laughter beside her. She looked to her left and could just make out a figure.

“Hello dear,” a kindly, gentle voice said.

“Err…hello,” Georgina replied.

She felt a hand text on her leg. She froze.

“It’s ok. There’s nothing to fear, the lady said. “I suppose you are wondering what’s going on, aren’t you?”

Georgina nodded.

“I thought as much,” the lady said. “There was once a time, when people would look to the skies and feel wonder.”

Georgina smiled.

“They would marvel at the beauty of both the sun and the moon, and all they would bring.” The woman sighed. “You once worshipped these things. They were once held with such regard. They were miracles.”

Georgina felt a soft hand coupled in hers.

“Make it so again, my darling. Help bring back the wonder. Bring back the light. Until such time, there will be darkness. Sorry.”

Georgina reached for her phone. She switched on the torch and shone it to her left. There was nobody there.

Georgina made her way home. This was the strangest start to any day.

She wandered into her bedroom. Lying flat on her bed, she closed her eyes; She tried to convince herself it was all a dream.
The alarm buzzed again. It was 7:30 am.

The darkness has persisted since.

 

Now it’s over to you to take up this week’s challenge!

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8 Responses to My Weekly Writing Challenge

  1. Based on a story I heard from an Australian evangelical preacher about thirty years ago, this is about isolation.

    Isolation

    After the accident, I found myself to be alive and well, although in darkness and silence. Confused and a little frightened, my mind went beck to the lost moments I remembered.

    I had been spending an evening in the gambling den at the back of a strip club. I had a lot to celebrate; I had just pushed through a deal that would add a few more millions to my bank balance. Admittedly, a few people; good people, but that means nothing these days; would be sent to the wall, and a few thousand people would turn up on Monday to find there was no job for them. Regrettable, but this is business, and you have to be ruthless to get on. Some of my deals had led to suicides, but these people were weak, and there’s no room in my world for weak people. I was doing rather well in the club, too. Blackjack, we were playing, and I was on a blisteringly strong run, up a couple of hundred thousand pounds on the night.

    My mobile buzzed and vibrated. It was a text message from my wife. “Kayleigh just turned up,” it said. “Please explain!” My wife, Joanne, was meticulous about writing texts properly, tweets too. She hated abbreviations and sloppy grammar. Anyway, reading that message, telling me that my secret girlfriend had turned up at the house; the girlfriend I thought I had hidden from Joanne; obviously overloaded something, and I must have blacked out.

    But where was I now, what am I supposed to do, and how did I get here? These were just a few of the questions in my head. Others included how much it would cost me to get out and whom should I pay. I decided to take control; it had worked for me all my life so far, and I saw no reason it wouldn’t work now.

    “Okay, where the hell am I?” I asked.

    A low, quiet voice responded, “Hmmm. Where the Hell? That’s a very appropriate question.”
    The voice put me in mind of the menacingly calm voices that used to be attributed to gangsters with Italian accents, in old Chicago and New York.

    “What’s that supposed to mean?” I demanded.

    “Where you are has no name. You may think of it as Hell; you may think of it as Nowhere. How you think of it doesn’t matter; what matters is what it is.”

    “And what is it?”

    “It is,” replied the enigmatic, disjointed voice.

    This place; whatever, wherever it is; seemed totally isolated. The only sound was my voice. The other voice was inside my head; it came from no direction, and although very close, I felt no breath. There was no light, and I realised that I had no sensation. I wasn’t sitting, standing or laying on anything. I think I had worked it out.

    “Okay, smart guy, I got you. This is one of those sensory deprivation chambers, isn’t it? Who are you working for and how much does he want to let me out?”

    “This is not as you describe it. This is,” the voice said, emphasising the word ‘is’.

    It began to dawn on me that I might be in trouble, big trouble. I’d never been in a situation I couldn’t buy or bribe my way out of.

    “WHERE AM I?” I yelled.

    The voice repeated, “Where you are has no name. You may think of it as Hell; you may think of it as Nowhere. How you think of it doesn’t matter; what matters is that it is.”

    “I want to speak to my lawyer.”

    “Your lawyer isn’t here.”

    “Well, at least let me speak to my business partner.”

    “Your business partner isn’t here.”

    “Can I at least call my wife, please?” I asked, beginning to panic.

    “Your wife isn’t here.”

    “Oh my God,” I cried, sensing the seriousness of my situation.

    “God isn’t here,” the voice said in even, placid tones, followed by an eternity of silence…

    • Oooh, I like this, Keith; an entertaining and thought-provoking tale of comeuppance where even God can offer no help. Isolation in the truest sense of the word. You’re really experimenting with different genres and styles of writing in these challanges with very good results.

      Enjoy the weekend.

      Best wishes,

      Esther

  2. JasonMoody77 says:

    Here we go again. This little ditty is a cautionary tale.

  3. JasonMoody77 says:

    Forgot the story! That won’t do. 🙂

    He walked into the bar, hair slicked back, shoes shined within an inch of their lives. He wanted people to notice him.
    The truth is, his aftershave had announced his arrival some ten minutes previous to his actual entrance. No matter.
    He had the walk of a man who needed urgently to scratch his bottom. Confidence he called it.

    He was on the look out for a beautiful woman, for he was a beautiful man, in his own opinion.

    Across the bar, something caught his eye. A woman stood at the bar with her back to him. Her red hair do shiny, it looked like it had been painted. He moved in.

    He cleared his throat and tapped her on the shoulder. She turned, slowly.

    She was as beautiful as her hair was shiny. She looked at him with her big brown eyes, sitting under the shadow of some very heavy mascara.

    The man nodded to himself. This was it.

    “If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?”

    The woman giggled like a love struck schoolgirl.

    “No,” she said softly, biting her lower lip.

    He was in here.

    “Do you know that you should be a parking ticket?,” he said.

    The woman smiled coyly and once again bit her shimmering lower lip.

    “No,” she purred.

    He nodded again. Now for the killer blow.

    “‘Cos you’ve got fine written all over you,” he announced, proudly.

    The woman grabbed his shirt collar and pulled him close.

    “I want you, right now,” she said.

    His heart raced. His throat was dry. This wasn’t supposed to happen. This was unfamiliar territory.

    She grabbed his hand. Drained her drink and pulled him away.

    “My flat…now” she demanded.

    They’ve took a taxi to her flat. They wasted no time talking; they headed straight for the bedroom.

    Clothes were thrown all over the place. Bottles of perfume tumbled off dressers. Every available space was covered as they grappled with each other like amateur wrestlers.

    “You are a very naughty boy,” she purred, throwing him into the bed. He led there, exposed and a little excited.
    She made a growling noise, or a close approximation of one and leapt towards him.

    The last thing he remembered was agonising pain. She leapt off the bed and he starred at his never region. Something clearly was not right.

    He lay on the hospital bed. Trying very hard not to re-run the nights antics in his head. Just in case. The curtain was pulled around his bed, giving him the sense of being in isolation. Not that he wanted anyone to see him right now.

    She never did call. He never called her.
    Shame. He was in there.

  4. Jasdeep Kaur says:

    White Sheets

    The spread of white
    dignifying restoration
    from the adversities
    to the gratification.

    But the horrid cries
    pound my heart
    when the heads droop and
    the hearts part.

    Or when I see
    the same figure
    frailer than before and
    with lost Vigor.

    The shoulders that sag
    with rising bills,
    the abrasive eyes
    sifting through pills.

    But my pessimism
    vanishes to see
    a relieved face
    filled with glee.

    When life is salvaged;
    anxieties pacified.
    With unspoken words, the
    white is glorified.

  5. Jasdeep Kaur says:

    Thanks, your comments are awe-inspiring!

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