Monday Motivations

Hope you all had a great weekend. Here are some writing prompts to get you in the writing mood. If you want to send me your work on these themes to be included on my blog next Monday, please just post them at the end in the comments box or email me:

Word Prompt: Relations

Photo prompt:


To see last week’s word and photo prompts, click here

Thank you to those of you who sent in your creative offerings and also to those who had a go just for themselves.

Please click on the following link to see Geoff Le Pard‘s super interpretation of the themes:

Carla Burns sent in this entertaining and compelling story:

Vantage point         

She had no idea where she had first heard or read it – heard, presumably, as it had been part of her vocabulary so long it must have predated her ability to read – but ‘vantage point’ had always been Lisa’s favourite phrase.

Vantage point. She used to roll it round and round in her head, sometimes whispering it out loud to relish the power of the syllables and the strength of the consonants on her tongue. She loved the excitement and mystery at which it hinted; the sense of seeing, watching, assessing from a location that, as far as Lisa believed, must always be secret.

It was her love of secrecy that prompted her to invent the game.

‘We are going to be spies,’ she informed her brother, Philip, who, at five, was two years younger and easily malleable. Lisa had little idea of what spies were but, somehow, she was sure they availed themselves of vantage points.

She explained the rules of the game.

‘We mustn’t let anyone see us,’ she began. ‘We need to see everything in the room, but Mummy and Daddy mustn’t see us. We must move around very, very quietly, and hide under the settee and chairs, or behind the curtains.’

The purpose of the spying was not clear; for Lisa, the very action of spying was enough in itself, and, for Philip, being included in his big sister’s game was beyond his wildest dreams.

Never had two small children been so quiet. After the evening meal was eaten and washed up, and Mummy and Daddy had settled down in the lounge, the game began.

Philip, being the smaller, was able to fit under the spindly legs of the cottage suite, and even under a nest of tables scantily covered with a cloth. Lisa, watching from her own vantage point halfway up the open staircase at the back of the room – actually in full view, but, cunningly, behind her parents’ backs so still remaining unseen – panicked as the cloth flapped and writhed as he squeezed in. But Mummy didn’t look up from her knitting and Daddy didn’t open his eyes, and Lisa was proud of her brother’s derring-do.

Night after night the game continued.

‘Coming!’ Lisa would call at bedtime, as if from a long way away, making furious signals to her associate to creep to another part of the room before sauntering forth as if from somewhere else entirely. When he was safe, she would follow suit.

If Mummy and Daddy noticed these evening missions, they never said anything, and nor did the children. Face-washing, tooth-brushing and pyjamas were observed in quite the normal way, the only difference being that Lisa did not make a fuss about going to bed at the same time as Philip. She was afraid this would draw attention to their covert activities.

After a few evenings’ such pleasant occupation, Lisa began to think of ways of branching out. They needed more hiding places, with better views of the room. Surely Mummy and Daddy – usually so relentlessly omniscient – would soon discover their current vantage points, rendering them obsolete. A backup plan was needed.

After school one day, she had a brainwave. Moving their toy chest – an old travel trunk used by Daddy during the war – into the lounge, ostensibly to make their toys more accessible, Lisa checked if Philip could fit inside. He did, perfectly, and by applying his eye to the keyhole, had a clear, if not particularly comprehensive, view of the room.

She briefed him carefully on the arrangements for later.

‘This is such a good vantage point, you can stay there all evening,’ she told him. ‘But because they mustn’t see where you are, when they call us to bed I will go first, and you get out after I’ve gone. Then it will still be a secret.’

After dinner, Lisa installed Philip in the chest. She replaced the top shelf over him, and carefully arranged a few toys on it as camouflage. She then took up her own position behind the curtains opposite, where she could signal towards Philip’s keyhole should any emergency arise.

Everything went to plan. At bedtime she followed Mummy to the bathroom while Daddy collected their nightclothes. Exhausted by the evening’s adrenalin rush, she soon fell into a thrilling sleep populated with mysterious men in black clothes hiding in cupboards to catch robbers.

Much later, she was awakened by her father.

‘Darling, we’ve got some terrible news,’ he began, his voice hoarse with emotion. ‘You must be a very brave girl. You need to come downstairs, and there are some policemen here who want to ask you some questions.’

Lisa wasn’t altogether convinced this wasn’t still a dream. It all sounded very exciting; just the sort of thing she and Philip could incorporate into future missions, she was sure.

Her mother was sitting on the sofa, red-eyed and sobbing. A policeman was standing awkwardly by the door holding a cup and saucer, and another was perched on the edge of one of the chairs. Daddy carried Lisa into the room in her dressing gown. He sat down with her on his knee.

‘Now, darling, we need you to think very carefully,’ he said to her. ‘When and where did you last see Philip?’

Lisa was puzzled. He had been in the lounge all evening, same as she had. She didn’t understand – and nor did she want to give away the location of the best-ever vantage point.

‘He was here. All evening,’ she replied, slightly cagily. The policemen glanced at each other.

‘But where, darling; where exactly?’ her mother cried. ‘Please, darling; you need to tell us. Philip is …’ she broke down into anguished sobs, ‘… missing.’

‘Did your brother go outside at all during the evening?’ the seated policeman asked, fiddling with his notebook.

‘No, we were in here – ’ Still reluctant to give the game away, Lisa couldn’t quite bring herself to say ‘spying’. ‘We were playing,’ she finished eventually.

‘Have you any idea at all where Philip may have gone?’ her mother whispered.

‘No.’ Reluctantly, however, Lisa decided to come clean. ‘After he got out of the toy chest we just went to bed.’

‘Toy chest?’ her father asked. ‘He wasn’t in the toy chest. Do you think we haven’t looked there?’ he said pleadingly to the policemen.

‘Shall we just look again?’ The policeman with the teacup put it down. ‘Won’t do any harm.’

He lifted the lid of the chest. He ignored the toys Lisa had arranged on the top shelf, and lifted it out.

‘Might this be the object of our search?’ he asked portentously.

Mummy gave a little scream and ran to the chest. Curled in the bottom, fast asleep, was Philip.

‘Shall I?’ asked the policeman, carefully lifting the little boy out. Philip opened his eyes and rubbed his face. ‘Policeman?’ he said groggily, before settling back to sleep on his rescuer’s shoulder.

Lisa had been right to be worried about revealing the location of their vantage point. Mysteriously, the toy chest disappeared, and, for the next few days, she noticed pieces of suspiciously familiar polished wood reposing in the log basket next to the fireplace.

But she needn’t have worried, because very soon a new game suggested itself to her, a game that promised even more excitement than the last. It was something she had heard a lot about in the past few days. It was called ‘wasting police time’. She couldn’t wait to get started.

Robert Griffiths sent in an enjoyable ode to spies:


I looked up then down

I looked all around town    

Thought it will never be found

I could spend a penny or even a pound

Inside then outside along a road

On the beach, in the town, listen to music, read books, watch films

Thought of times present and times past

I asked a man playing a big tin drum

He put down his rum

Think of the rhythm boy, think of the beat

In there you will not find defeat

He pulled out a seat

“Sit here, sit here,” he said

And tapped me on the head

He sang a Caribbean tune and drank his rum

I went home

 It’s in the rhythm, it’s in the beat

Had a cup of tea looked up at my cross and made a plea,

Yes, church tomorrow, there I will find the answer

Full of hope thinking this is a going to work

 The sun hot; church full; clapping, singing, mass long, money collected, children shuffle,

 Choir’s finale, people leaving through doors

Bright sun guides them out

I see priest, now is my chance,

He is shaking hands, saying goodbye,

 I join queue, push in front, take his hand, look in his eyes

Oh, dear Esther, there’s no story there about spies.




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21 Responses to Monday Motivations

  1. DrEMiller says:

    Reblogged this on Write of Passage and commented:
    This week’s Monday Motivations from Esther Newton follows, along with some results from last week’s photo prompt. Enjoy!
    As always, thank you, Esther!

  2. Rajiv says:

    dammit!! This was mine for the week!!

    ‘Darkness is not always evil”, said Vivien. “Too many people associate darkness with evil. Yet, light can hurt. Light can blind, and the darkness can soothe. In the old, magical lore, they say that moonlight reveals what sunlight hides. Darkness reveals what the light often hides. Beware the simplistic and ignorant fools who would lead you astray.”
    “Yet, it was indeed The Darkness that fell upon the earth, and we had to withdraw until we had regained our strength. The Darkness spread its tentacles everywhere, and its spies were to be found everywhere. All those beings who became corrupted to its cause, became the foul spies of The Darkness.”
    “We withdrew to the Oak Tree, our Cave, and in doing so, we returned to the earth that nourishes us.”
    “Urk”, stammered Sam. His eyes were wide, and he did not know what to say. His suspicions were raised, and he did not know if the two in front of them were going to imprison them or eat them.
    From somewhere in the deep recesses of his mind, emerged a thought. It came unbidden, unheralded, but once it was out, he could not resist its coming.
    “I hope they don’t eat us”, he thought, and he shivered to himself.
    “No Sam, we will not eat you”, said Merlin, reading his thoughts. “But, you are not free from us either. Not until you have paid your dues.”
    Terror froze his mind, and all that he was dimly conscious of, was that this seemed to be a far greater peril than he had faced in the old days.
    There did not seem to be any escape, and the two creatures in front of him seemed to spy into his very thoughts and emotions.
    He shrank back against the wall, wishing to melt into it, but all he felt was the cold, damp hardness of the surface.
    “The spies spread far and wide”, continued Vivien, and we allowed our spirits to become one with The Earth. The Cave and Tree shielded and nourished us, and one day we realized that we were strong enough to fight The Dark.”
    “Bit by bit, we sought out his spies, and converted them back to the true path. Those who refused, were destroyed, and soon their rotting souls formed a mosaic pattern on the floor of the forest, and soon dissolved away.”
    “There was no Grand Battle that was fought, and no songs have been written. Much has been done, but more needs to be done. Did something of The Darkness enter our souls? Who knows? We are not all creatures of Light and Dark. Shadows become us, and we become the Shadows.”
    “Shadows cover us, shield us, and we become creatures of Light and Dark. This is how it is, and this is how it will be. The journey is long, but the spirit is strong.”
    A paused followed, broken only by the silence.
    Merlin raised his head.
    “Sam, it is your turn now.”

  3. EDC Writing says:

    Hello Esther … I just happened to have this ‘relations’ story handy …

    The thing with warm days… people sweat.
    It’s late September in Italy on Lake Garda in the town of Malcesine. The noon queue ever growing for the cable car to the top of Monte Baldo.
    You know the kind of queue, where you can’t quite see the end until you’ve shuffled for an hour. This one ascending floors to a transient fresh air promise.
    The car swings in to dock, shed’s its load, some coated, hmm… perhaps T-shirt and shorts not the best choice, but most don’t give a damn…its hot here at lake level. The allotted all walk as if feet chained into the curved glass prison, herded vapour tight by some guy who had long forgotten how to grin.
    The tall young man, smart in grey chinos, short sleeved ironed shirt with folded linen jacket on one arm lifts his other to the above head bar. Not that he could fall, more to avoid an all too familiar brush of skin on skin.
    To his left a tidy lady, quite refined, genteel south coast abode, wrinkling her nose. Perspiration it seems long bred out of her genes. “Are you okay” he kindly enquires, “well young man as you ask, could you move over a little please.” “If only” his first thought. He gently hip butts a teenage chubby girl who to his alarm all too keenly twists to thrust her groin back into his un-expectant manhood.
    The car rocks, feet shift, more volatile emissions escape to permeate the head space. Its slow grind skywards begins, without a smile from anyone but chubby. You smell nice she says, he winces faint recognition, keeping his eyes above her.
    ‘I’ll have you know I don’t much appreciate the air” tidy lady voices to no one in particular yet nudging him as if he could do anything about it. A hundred odd arm pits as odorous as could be. “What is it with foreigners, don’t they wash as we do?” she continues loudly.
    “You, yes you, return this conveyance at once I wish to get out” she commands to a now grinning doorman. He shrugs as all self-respecting foreigners would, then ignores her. “Well, just don’t stand there, do something” she digs the young man again. “You are an Englishman aren’t you?”
    Another hundred metres the car shudders to a swinging half-way halt, scheduled he knows, but to her of course on her demand. “I see my words sufficient after all, you can make yourself useful and escort me back young man.” They eased from the steaming throng, none dared to block their way, all relieved to have her gone.
    As the car groaned on, they stood in the cool mid-mountain air. Her eyes take in the meandering paths of the grassy rock strewn slope. “I’ll walk the descent”… “Yes Aunt” his resigned reply, hating every moment hard earning his inheritance. His eyes begin to light…a chance she’ll fall in sight.

  4. Allie P. says:

    No one would have ever expected Uncle Nigel of being something as interesting as being subversive, especially not Aunt Racine who often would joke that her darling husband made plain white toast seem gourmet by comparison. I guess it was the overwhelming blandness about Nigel that finally brought the inspectors to their door. I mean no one is that law abiding all the time. We all manipulated the system in some way.

    I mean it was a fairly open secret that cousin Judy loaded a virus into the local nutrient dispenser so that her rations came out a couple milligrams sweeter. Why else would her jumpsuit fit snugger than the rest? It’s not like it could shrink in the wash. And really who could blame her? The rations might contain all the nutrients a body needs, but they certainly didn’t include taste. I might have done the same if I’d her access or her talent.

    Then there is her brother Henry, who managed to never once get assigned janitorial duty no matter how often the work assignment lottery was run. He claims that he’s just lucky. I claim it has more to do with the girl in placement services who has his number on speed dial.

    But never in my wildest dreams would I have expected they inherited their tricks from their father. A man, who we found out, had committed the worst offense there was. He’d hidden books in the walls.

    The command could turn a blind eye from the indulgent or the lazy, but what they couldn’t tolerate was a free thinker.

  5. Steve says:

    Not sure if I will have a ‘relations’ poem ready this week. However, I had posted a piece of flash fiction in 2013 that bodes with the picture: Books

      • Rajiv says:

        But, I am nice!!

        Here goes!

        “Ah, the stories we tell,”, I thought. “They entertain us, they educate us. Sometimes, they can drive us positively mad.”
        “I do love a room full of books, but not everyone does.”
        A pause.
        A smile.
        You don’t know who I am! You have forgotten me!
        I am Loki, your beloved storyteller, and it is time that I let you know what is happening to some of your beloved friends, before you forget them completely.
        I placed The Joker in a room with no windows. The Joker? Aha! I knew you were in danger of forgetting him. I asked him to listen to music and meditate. He hated that. The Joker, my friends, hates to be left alone. Out, playing his evil pranks on others; watching them squirm – that is what he does best. Sitting in a room, all alone, with nothing to do but listen to music and meditate is pure torture for the poor fellow.
        He started banging on the walls, and when I popped by one day to see him, he looked a shadow of his former, bedraggled self. He snarled at me, and tried to scratch and bite me.
        Me?! Why would he do that? I am a nice little fellow. I am just that – poor, little Loki. A humble storyteller, with a passion for words.
        So, I sat down, and tried to get him to think, and talk, about how he had managed his relations with his former friends and lovers, most notably that young lady, Harley Quinn.
        “How have your relations been with the young lady?”, I enquired in a solicitous voice, innocence writ large on my face.
        “That bitch….”, he snarled. “How dare she run off with that Mary Jane. She betrayed me. I am going to kill her…” Hate was written all over his face, and the spit dribbled from the corners of his red mouth, and ran down his cracked white makeup.
        “What about Spidey and the Hobbits?”, I asked. “What about your relations with them?”
        “What about them?”, he answered, a slight sneer spreading across his face. The spittle dribbled onto my nice, new carpet, I noticed, and stained it. “They are mere punks, just meant to do my bidding.”
        “My, my”, I said. “My dear Joker. You do have a lot to learn about building relationships. Maybe…. Yes, maybe…. You need to read a little…”
        I sniffed. A bad odour seemed to be coming from somewhere in the room. “My dear Joker,” I said. “You have not been having a bath! Sadly, now it is time for me to go, but not before I leave you with a little present.”
        I snapped my fingers, and a few aerosol cans, with the loveliest deodorant appeared out of nowhere.
        “Magic!”, I clapped with glee!
        I left him, but I am sure you would like to know what happened to him. Yes? Oh, yes you do!
        The wall started to crack. A small crack appeared at first, and ran the height of the room, from top to bottom. It widened, and behind the crack, the Joker beheld a Tower of Books! He shrank back against the opposite wall, screaming in anguish.
        “No! Not books!”, he screamed, the madness, fear and loathing rising up inside him.
        I knew it. The Joker cannot abide books.
        Hee! Hee! Hee!
        The Tower of Books, loomed large in front of him, pages flying open, words streaming out at him. The flying words, phrases, similes and lessons were enough to cause the madness to rise from deep within him.
        He recoiled and scrunched himself into a tight ball, covering his face. All that I could finally see, was one eye, staring wildly at the books, as the words flowed around the room.
        I left him there, and let the madness overtake him.
        Ho! Ho! Ho!
        I am such a nice person…

      • esthernewton says:

        The Tower of Books! Love it 🙂

      • Rajiv says:

        Well, you gave me some motivation!! I am a nice guy!

  6. Pingback: Relations (Haiku) | Simplicity Lane

  7. Pingback: Monday Motivations | esthernewtonblog

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