My Weekly Writing Challenge

Well, here it is – the last in the ABC of My Weekly Writing Challenges and yes, it’s Y and Z‘s turn. My themes for those are Yearn and Zombie. I can almost hear you shouting, “Eeek!”, so for some prompts and ideas click on the following link:

Last week, the challenge was to come up with stories and poems on the themes of Victory, Water and X-ray. Not easy themes by any means, but it didn’t stop all of you. So well done to the following who admirably took up the challenge:

Once again, Keith Channing squeezed all three themes into his entertaining story:

Finlay was not a happy camper. I had told him that I had arranged a camping weekend for us and a group of friends; a kind of male bonding weekend; like a stag weekend, but without the wedding afterwards.

“You told me we would be going camping this weekend,” he complained, “where are our tents, sleeping bags, camping stoves and survival kits? And why on Earth are you dressed like that?”

“No, silly,” I replied, “not a camping week end; a camping weekend.”

“What’s the difference?” he asked.

“What’s the difference? What’s the difference?” I mocked, “I’ll tell you what the difference is, oh brother of mine. The difference is that on a camping weekend, you go into the smelly countryside, probably next to a river or a lake, ‘cause people like to go into the water, although quite why has always been a mystery to me, it’s not like proper water that you put in your bath, it’s dirty and smelly and things live in it and I’ve even heard that fish do their business in it; you then put up your little tent and you live like a refugee for the weekend and pretend to like it, before rushing home for a bath, some decent food and a proper bed for the night. On a camping weekend, you dress up all glam, hit the best night spots and generally camp it up. See?”

“And what makes you think that a weekend poncing about like some kind of deviant would possibly appeal to me?”

“Because you need to let your inner glam queen out occasionally. We all do.”

Finlay suddenly turned all serious and butch on me. He looked me straight in the eye with that steely gaze he reserves for when he’s really cross. “I do not have an inner glam queen or any other kind of persona that needs to be let out, Julian. And even if I did—”

“So you admit the possibility that you might?”

“No, I do not,” he replied, in a measured, even tone. He’s at his most scary when he does that. “And even if I did, Julian, which I don’t, how would it look for a senior officer of Her Majesty’s army to be seen cavorting around, dressed like goodness-only-knows-what, with a bunch of nancy-boys? Tell me that, if you can.”

“Firstly, let me say that I object to your use of words like poncing, deviants and nancy-boys.”

“And I object strongly to your entire premise that I would be comfortable carrying on like this with you and your… chums.”

“And secondly, if it’s alright for senior members of Her Majesty’s Royal Family to dress up occasionally, why is it not for her soldiers to do it just the once? Come to think of it, he was a soldier; an officer; too.”


“Okay, Fin. Truth be told, I wanted you to be there with us to make sure there wasn’t any trouble. We get a lot of stick from some of the local ruffians, and I don’t think that would happen if you were there; you being all butch and masculine and everything.”

I wondered if Fin knew how much I was clutching at straws then.

Finlay had the look about him of a man who was thinking, and thinking hard. Finally, he spoke again, his tone more conciliatory, “Okay, I’ll come with you—”

I clapped my hands with glee and jumped up and down, “Goodeeeee! Thanks, Fin; you won’t regret it, I promise.”

“God, I’m regretting it already. Let me finish, Julian,” he interrupted, “I will come with you, and I will keep an eye on you. However, I will not be a part of whatever it is you’re doing. I will sit in the corner of whatever club or restaurant you are using. You will not talk to me or even acknowledge me. As far as anyone is concerned, I will be a man on his own. If there is any trouble, or if you expect trouble, ring my phone. Although I’ll be close by, I’m not going to spend the weekend watching you like some kind of stalker, neither do I have x-ray eyes, so I won’t necessarily see if things heat up. I won’t answer my phone when you ring it, but I will approach your group and assess the situation. If I think my intervention is needed, I will act. Deal?”

It wasn’t what I wanted; I so wanted to get Fin out of his shell and having some fun. Poor guy, since his Dutch wife Saskia left him for another woman a couple of years ago, his life has consisted only of work and bringing up their daughter Polly. His male ego was badly damaged when he found that his wife of fifteen years had turned, and now he’s over-compensating in all sorts of ways. He desperately needs to get out of himself. That’s why I set up this weekend, and arranged for Polly to stay with Mum. I suppose his coming along at all is a bit of a victory for me; and he will be very useful if there is any trouble. I mean, the man is so buff, so butch, so manly!

“Deal!” I said, spitting on my hand and offering it to him. He rejected it, of course.

“One thing you will learn this weekend,” I added, “is that camp and gay are not the same thing. You can’t always assume someone’s sexuality from their behaviour.”

“I know that,” he said, sadly, “let’s go.”

Jasdeep Kaur opted for poetry and as usual, her poem flows beautifully:

The Ambrosia

Clear, luscious, and pure,
the requisite of life,
an epitome of ambrosia,
yet cushy and demure.

The flora, its virtues
wouldn’t exist, they being deprived.
The Earth would only be
a desert, green never revived.

And the fauna, we included,
would be just the souls
wandering about in the sand
watching our trolls.

The divine gift, water
is so subtle and vital.
When the tongue dries up
only water’s palatable.

Jason Moody says he didn’t have much time so opted for a poem. I’m very glad he did:

Poor old Nelson lay a cropper
Upon his Victory
A gunshot to the shoulder
No chance of remedy

Fast forward to the present
What would the Doctors say?
Clean that wound, some morphine nurse
And him? Off to X-ray.

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8 Responses to My Weekly Writing Challenge

  1. “Do you remember the good old days, Eldrick? The days when we had a big house in the country, as well as our flat in Kensington?”

    “Of course I do, Linda,” Eldrick said, depressed by how far they had fallen, “I had to work hard for it, but when the bonuses came through at the end of the year, all the stress and long hours were worthwhile.”

    “Do you suppose those days will ever come back, my love?”

    “Oh, I hope so. It’s not just the money. Okay, the money is important. It’s good to have plenty to splash about, and we loved the lifestyle, didn’t we? But, possibly more than that, I yearn for the excitement, the tension, the sheer exhilaration of driving deals that can make or break individuals and companies, that can affect the value of currencies and that can bend the prices of commodities to suit our profits – and lo, the profits spake, and the profits were mighty! God, I miss those days.”

    Eldrick and Linda Hughes were certainly down on their luck from those days. Living in a rented semi in suburbia, Eldrick was working in a back-office job for a zombie bank, it was technically insolvent, and only afloat thanks to taxpayer support. Hang on a minute, that described a number of even major banks in those days.

    “What went wrong?” Linda asked.

    “What went wrong?” Eldrick echoed wistfully.

    His voice suddenly became animated. “I’ll tell you what went wrong. Me! I went wrong.”

    He leapt up from his chair and skipped across the room to the desk where his computer was already alive, ready for his touch on the keyboard.

    “I took my eye off the ball. I became complacent. I thought… I believed I was untouchable, invulnerable. But guess what?”

    “What?” Linda almost shouted, her voice as excited and as animated as Eldrick’s.

    “I. Was. Wrong.” Eldrick paused.

    “There,” he said, “I’ve said it. I was wrong. I, Eldrick Hughes, the most feared and respected trader in the marketplace, was wrong.”

    Linda wasn’t sure where this was going.

    “Was I untouchable? NO. Was I invulnerable? No I was not. Was I lining myself up for an almighty crash? Yes I was, and I had it, and I damned-well deserved it. But you, my love, didn’t deserve it, and I am going to make it up to you, starting right now.”

    Fired up with levels of drive he hadn’t felt for a good few years, Eldrick attacked his keyboard; spreadsheets and charts danced around one of his twin monitors; feeds from markets, both home and overseas, came to life in the other. Messages and calls went out to contacts who had not heard the name Eldrick Hughes for some time, and had forgotten the levels of awe that name demanded and received.

    They would remember again soon.

    “It’s back, Linda. It’s back!” Eldrick jumped with glee, grabbed Linda by the shoulders and danced around the room with her.

    When they stopped, Linda asked, almost breathlessly, “What is back, Eldrick, and where has it been?”

    “The hunger, Linda. The hunger is back. Eldrick bloody Hughes has only gone and come back!”

    Linda was nonplussed. Unable to take in this sudden sea-change in her husband’s mood and attitude, she just stood there, blankly looking at him.

    “Tomorrow morning, nine o’clock, I’m going to re-form my company. Eldrick Hughes Ltd, dormant these five years, will be back in business. We’ll run low-key to start; no massive expenditure on office space or even stationery. We’ll do everything on our mobiles until we get up and running properly. Linda, my love; we’re coming back. Hold on to your hat, my girl, it’s going to be one hell of a ride.”

  2. Well done for getting both themes into your story. I love the phrase ‘zombie bank’. Brilliant! As you say – aren’t they all?! 🙂

  3. Ayo Oboro says:

    She wished for all days to be dull and grey.
    The colour of what her heart really says.
    She’d married a man with short sight.
    Or what do you say,when all he does is sit and watch?

    She comes back from work,the TV is on.
    Just like it is all the time.
    She can hear the blare through the closed door.
    He does no work but wants to eat.
    And beats her over the head with scripture;
    Submit! Submit!,his only word,
    As if love and work don’t exist in it.

    She’s threatened and nagged but no response,
    All she gets is the squeak from the chair.
    Squeak! Squeak!,he turns his behind.
    Which gets bigger as he eats her food.

    She labours,she sweats,she works two jobs,
    But there he sits with hands outstretched.
    “Where’s your pay and what did you buy?”
    She weeps all the time,bills to pay,no help.
    She yearns for a day that’s bright and clear.

    She woke up today,the sun in her eyes
    Her heart is merry,her spirit light.
    Nothing can change it,it can’t be stopped.
    She hears the car hoot.
    First one bag and then another.
    She claps her hands together to shake off all dust
    He can’t say a word,he’s frozen to the spot.
    He looked like a zombie as she waved goodbye.

  4. I like your interpretation of ‘zombie’. Highly apt. I really enjoyed this, especially the uplifting ending. It leaves the reader feeling positive and with hope 🙂

  5. Jasdeep Kaur says:

    Deep Impact

    When I saw my brother enter the room, I knew there was a purpose to his visit. His broad shoulders, confident steps, and assuring smile were obliging. But I was in no mood for a prolonged conversation.

    “So, sis, you’re indulged in your thoughts again.”

    I wasn’t. I generally sat idle without thinking anything, and he knew it.

    “I know you’ll deny. But you don’t know about your unconscious mind. Do you?”

    My eyebrows curved.

    “Yes, your unconscious mind. I’m aware of the acid reflux you’re diagnosed with, and I’m here to talk about it.”

    So he was told about my new health problem, and that’s why he was here.

    “You were working on taming your anger. Surely, you’ve accomplished it on the exterior, but what about the inner realm that you are unaware of?”

    My eye lids drooped as I looked into the void. I had worked hard to control my anger, the anger that was ruining me and my relationships. I had reached a level where I could face any unfavourable circumstance without reacting, even though I felt awkward, embarrassed, or disdained. However, my health was deteriorating day by day.

    He continued without any response as if he was reading my mind, “See Sis, if you try to repress the torrent, it will slip into the adjoining realm: your unconscious mind. You think you’ve mastered the skill of anger management, but actually you are directing the surge in the wrong direction. It should be thrown out and not pushed deeper in you.”

    After months, I felt the urge to know more.

    “Let me explain it. When you suppress your anger, you are actually pushing the stress to your unconscious mind. But when your unconscious mind is not able to take any more loads, it transfers the load to your body, which results in acidity and even ulcer. These health problems put more stress on your mind.”

    After a pause, he said, “See Sis, you will have to take yourself out of this cycle…and only you can do it!”

    My heart was all to his words, but I didn’t say anything. He left the room. He left me wanting for more.

    I wanted to change my life, my attitude, my worsening condition. I rushed to him and stopped him.

    “You can’t go like this. You must tell me what to do. A simple lecture won’t solve my problem. Help me out…”

    He grinned, “O.K. Then come, look at the rising sun.

    It takes so long to rise and reach at the top of our heads: its goal.

    It changes its colour from orange to yellow: it adapts.

    The heat increases as it goes upwards: its vigour or anger.

    But the heat gets dispersed in the atmosphere: let it be.

    You’ll have to become like this.”

    “Can you be placid and tell me in good words.”

    “See Sis, it’s plain and clear. Don’t become a zombie; become like a rising sun. You must’ve a goal. Let the anger become your vigour to move ahead; the more anger, the more vigour, and the nearer your goal. The stress will be there, but it’ll be on the exterior.”

    There was a point. I knew what to do.

    I unlocked my musical instruments and let my fingers move on them freely. The world may think I was bull-shit; I knew I was not.

  6. As always, a very powerful message. You have such a unique way of looking at a subject and you convey it so beautifully with your words 🙂

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