Perhaps it’s just me, but I think my definition of ‘automatic’ is a little different to the sign writer’s…
Perhaps it’s just me, but I think my definition of ‘automatic’ is a little different to the sign writer’s…
I hope you’re all having a wonderful Easter break and haven’t over indulged on the chocolate. If you’re feeling a little sluggish, here are two prompts to get those writing muscles working again:
Word prompt: Jealousy
For last week’s prompts, please click here
Thank you to those who sent in their ideas:
First in was Hugh Roberts with a super haiku:
Images of ghosts
Sherlock Holmes investigates
Bride of Frankenstein.
Robert Griffiths sent in a lovely poem:
My daughter’s sunshine
Won’t be a minute the tea lady says
That’s an hour in my head
An hour takes a year
No sleep spastic arm and leg
Walk dragging limbs
Old men smile
Old ladies shake their heads
People speaking the words arrive backwards to me
The devils darkness hides the day away
No light – no sound
The long cul de sac, no walls to rebound
Soft floating blossom of days long gone
Trip, fall, never to arise
There at the tunnels end a light
A sooty silhouette coming towards me
Taking shape hiding the blasting light behind
Nearer its shape turns into Victoria
Blinding the sombre devil
Jiggling him away.
And now for Rajiv Chopra‘s latest installment in the Mary Jane series:
“So now Sam,” said Merlin. “Let’s start your journey.”
Sam started back in panic. “You know, before I came here, I used to love reading the stories of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. They were so instructive, and I was thinking of becoming a new age Sherlock Holmes. The stories would haunt me, and occupy my dreams, and it often seemed that they appeared like ghosts in my consciousness.”
“Perhaps, you appeared like a ghost in those tales of fiction,” laughed Vivien. “Yes, a ghost is what you were, and like a ghost that has come to the modern age, let’s send you back …….. back …… back …….”
“I am the ghost,” muttered Sam, and seemed to fall asleep.
He lay there still, for a long time. Poison Ivy and Frodo were far too petrified to move and touch him.
Suddenly, his eyes opened, and all that they could see, was the whites of his eyes.
“Yes, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were discussing a new case,” mumbled Sam in a rambling voice. “They were engaged in an intense discussion, and Sherlock was addressing Dr. Watson in his usual elegant voice. The door creaked open. They did not notice it. A strange figure in white was at the entrance. Long hair tumbled down to its white shoulders, and it stared at them through the voids that were its eye sockets. It stood there a long time, hoping to be noticed, and when it realized that the two were oblivious of its presence, a low, moaning sound emerged from its mouth. The two turned to the creature, and then Sherlock remarked that they seemed to be at the beginning of a new case – The Case of The Shrieking Banshee. It was most interesting, he thought, as he walked up to examine the creature closely. The moaning sounds continued, and became a shrieking crescendo. Dr. Watson had taken refuge behind a sofa, and Sherlock was examining the ghostly creature, with much interest.”
You are a stubborn little fellow, thought Merlin, realizing that Sam was digging into his subconscious with all his might. He wanted to avoid this ‘journey’ at all costs, and was fighting with all the might his mind could bring.
Merlin waved his hand at Sam, and Sam’s body went into convulsions. The causal thinker might assume that flecks of foam appeared at the corners of his mouth, but no, nothing of the sought happened. He just went into convulsions, and then lay still. His breath was calm, and a slight smile spread across his face.
He had gone back through the ages, and was lying in the soft grass, smoking a pipe. As the smoke rings drifted towards the blue sky, he was conscious of the warm sunshine flooding his body with goodness and strength.
“Life is good,” he said. “I do love the sunshine of the Shire. It is the best that anyone can get anywhere.”
Sam sighed. He was in Heaven.
Finally, here’s one of mine, loosely based on the theme of sunshine:
I stare at my hands, watching as the soil sifts through them. I smile. This is my garden. Well, not all of it, but this bit anyway. It’s not the best part of the garden. Mummy would never let me have the best part of the garden, though it does have a pretty rose bush in the middle. The buds are red. I don’t like red. I like yellow – sunshine yellow. I would love a yellow rose bush, but Mummy says I can’t have one. Mummy is always saying I can’t have things.
‘It’s this sodding war,’ she says.
I pull at a weed and rip it from the earth. I pull at another. It feels good. I look back to the house. I can see Mummy. She is sitting at the table, her head in her hands. Her shoulders are shaking and I know she is crying again. She thinks I don’t know what’s going on. I do. I know everything. She only lets me have my own garden to get me out of the way.
She always said the house and garden was her domain. She took care of everything, Daddy and me, too. But she doesn’t take care of anything now.
I look around at the rest of the garden. The old apple tree beckons to me, his branches waving in the gentle breeze. He used to be full of apples. I would climb him and reach out for his delicious fruit. He hasn’t brought us anything this year.
I turn to the hedgerow, once shaped and shorn, now overgrown like Daddy’s hair in the mornings. My eyes fill with tears at the thought of Daddy.
Daddy is really handsome. He has blond hair like the teddy bear he bought me for my fifth birthday. Mummy says his hair is sandy. I don’t think it’s like sand, but I’ve never been to the seaside. Daddy has big brown eyes, like my dolly, but she looks a bit scary at times and my daddy isn’t scary at all. He smiles all the time and he’s funny.
I can see my seat in the corner of my eye. Well, it’s Mummy and Daddy’s seat. They used to walk up the garden, hand in hand and sit on the seat overlooking the river. Mummy says it’s a stream, not a river. Daddy says it’s no more than a trickle of water. I think river sounds better. I used to join them, climbing onto Daddy’s knee. Daddy and me would laugh at something silly. Mummy would frown at us and we would tickle her until she was laughing, too. All of us would laugh and laugh until our stomachs hurt. We stayed there for what seemed like hours. It was our special place, just the three of us.
We haven’t sat in our special place for a long time. I walk over to it and sit down, trying to ignore the cobwebs and rust. I wish Daddy was here, but he isn’t. He’s miles and miles away. Mummy won’t tell me where he is. He is a pilot. He flies the biggest planes and he’s the best.
I close my eyes and I can see the three of us. We are in the garden. It is sunny with bright rays shining their light on my yellow rose bushes. The garden is beautiful and blooming with colour. We are smiling. We make for the seat and our bodies sink down. Daddy whispers something in my ear. I don’t like what he says. He’s not supposed to say nasty things. I am crying as I look up at Daddy. His face is twisted and his eyes are slits growing wider and wider.
I open my eyes and I am alone. I blink the tears away and get down from the seat. I shiver, even though it’s June. I pull my cardigan around my shoulders and go back to my garden.
‘Millie!’ Mummy’s voice cuts through me.
I run to the house. Something has happened. I wonder if it’s Daddy. Mummy won’t tell me anything about him. But I know it’s Daddy. The telegram came months ago. I thought Mummy was going mad. She cried and cried and cried. Then she fell to the floor and she didn’t wake up for a long time.
I had to go and stay with Mrs. Barker from number 30 for a few weeks until Mummy was better. But she isn’t really better. When she came home I waited for her to tell me about Daddy, but she didn’t. She thinks I’m too young. But I’m going to be eight next week.
I asked Mrs. Barker, but she wouldn’t tell me either. But I know. I know my daddy is dead. Whenever I talked about him in front of Mummy, she just shook her head and started crying again, so I stopped talking about him.
Another telegram came last week. Mummy tried to hide it, but I knew what it was. Now Mummy keeps crying again.
‘Millie, hurry up. Go and fetch the doctor. Quick!’ Mummy shouts.
‘Are you ill?’ I ask. Mummy doesn’t look very well. I hope she isn’t going to leave me again.
‘It’s Mr. Barker. He’s had another of his turns. Hurry, Millie,’ Mummy urges.
Doctor King lives in the next street. I hope he can help Mr. Barker. Mr. Barker was a carpenter. He used to make lovely toys. He made a big, black truck for his son, Michael. Michael was really nice and let me play with it. Mr. Barker made a cart, too. Michael used to push me down the hill in it.
That was before the war. Now Mr. Barker doesn’t make anything. He sits in his chair by the fire all day with a blanket round his knees. He doesn’t look at anyone and he doesn’t speak anymore. Michael says it’s because war is horrible and does horrible things to people.
I bang on Doctor King’s door. Mrs. King answers it, a blue apron tied round her waist and smudges of flour in her hair. She lets me in and we find the doctor. He grabs his bag and scurries away. I hang back, savouring the smell of fresh baking. My stomach grumbles, longing for a cake from the baking tray. Mrs. King is always making cakes. Mummy hasn’t made cakes for a long time.
‘There’s a war on,’ she snaps, ‘we’re lucky to eat at all.’
Mummy didn’t used to snap. She was always happy and smiled all the time. I can’t remember the last time she smiled.
‘I heard your mother had news of your father,’ Mrs. King says, passing me a scolding hot scone. I almost drop it as I listen to her words.
‘Mrs. Barker was saying your father is coming home,’ Mrs. King continues.
I cough, choking on a crumb. I am crying, though it is nothing to do with the scone.
‘Are you all right, dear?’ Mrs. King whacks me on the back and I cough even more.
She fetches me a glass of water and I gulp it down.
‘Sips are best, dear,’ Mrs. King takes my hand, ‘that’s better.’
I want to run away and forget her words. Daddy can’t be coming home. She’s got it wrong. The room starts spinning. I have to go, but my feet won’t move. Neither of us speaks. We stare at one another. Mrs. King’s big belly surges each time she draws breath. I’m not sure I’m breathing at all.
‘I’m sorry, love. You didn’t know, did you?’ Mrs. King says. She is still holding my hand.
‘My daddy is dead. Mummy had a telegram ages ago.’
‘He was missing, Millie. I’m afraid they thought he was dead. I thought you knew. But he’s been found. He was in a prison camp in Italy, but he’s coming home,’ Mrs. King says gently.
I smile. ‘My daddy is coming home? My daddy’s coming home! Why has Mummy been crying? She looks so sad. Doesn’t she want him to come home?’
‘Of course she does. It’s just that she’s scared.’
Scared of Daddy? No one can be scared of my daddy. Then Mr. Barker’s image fills my head. Mummy knows. Daddy is going to be exactly like him. He won’t be my handsome Daddy anymore. His face is going to be twisted and his eyes will be like slits growing wider and wider. He won’t want to sit in the garden in our special place. He will sit in the corner of the sitting room, rocking back and forth. He won’t tell me he loves me like he used to. He will look through me instead of reaching to kiss my head and hug me close. He won’t be my daddy anymore.
I break free from Mrs. King and I make for the door, sprinting through it. I run through the fields, the long grasses swiping at my legs. I reach the old oak tree. I fall against it, trying to catch my breath. I wonder where I will go. To London? No, it isn’t safe there. Perhaps I will go and stay with Aunt Daph by the sea. Mummy always promised me I could go there one day. I can’t stay here, not with Daddy.
I lie by the oak tree and listen to the birds. They sound so happy. I wish I was a bird. I would fly far, far away to the seaside and to Aunt Daph. Mummy says her sister is eccentick or some big word like that. I don’t think they like each other very much, but I’d like to see if the sand is the same colour as Daddy’s hair.
I open my eyes to dusk. I must have fallen asleep. It’s getting cold now and I can see something moving in the bushes. I hope it’s not a monster. Mummy will be scared, too. She will wonder where I am.
I run back home. I don’t know what to do, but I know I don’t want Daddy to come home. I wish my daddy was dead.
I am in my garden. I let the wind wrap itself around me. My hands are cold as I dig into the ground. Summer is staying away this year. I wish I had some seeds to plant.
‘You don’t plant seeds in June,’ Mummy said.
If I had seeds I would plant them. I flinch as a thorn stabs me. I stare at the blood oozing down my finger. It doesn’t hurt that much, but I am crying.
My daddy is coming home today. My chest feels like it is going to explode and I am sure I am going to be sick. Mummy wouldn’t speak to me this morning. She looked so pale and her hands were shaking. I thought she was going to fall to the ground again. I didn’t like it when she did that, so I came outside. I feel better in the garden, but I keep seeing the seat in the corner of my eye. Daddy is sitting on it, but each time I look round, he’s gone. Perhaps he isn’t really coming home. Maybe they lied. Maybe he is dead.
Daddy is sitting on the seat again. I shan’t look round this time.
I swing round at his voice. He’s gone again.
‘Stop it!’ I shout, clenching my fists as I look back at my garden. My eyes are blurred with so many tears.
I swallow, feeling the large lump in my throat. I slowly turn round. Daddy is sitting on the seat. I look at his face, still handsome and his brown eyes are warm. He smiles his big, wide smile. I run to him and feel his strong arms around me.
‘Is there room for one more?’
I free myself from Daddy’s embrace and Mummy is standing by us, her eyes full with tears, but she is smiling, too.
We sit there for a long time, just the three of us. I close my eyes and summer has come. We are sitting here on the seat and the garden is glorious, especially my garden. It’s the one with the yellow rose bushes.
When I feel in need of blowing the cobwebs away, I’ll stick my headphones in my ears, scroll down my playlist to Linkin Park and crank the volume up. In my mother’s words it’s, “Shouty music. Simply dreadful. It’s certainly not The Everly Brothers.” That, it isn’t.
I first came across the band when they released their second album, Meteora in 2003. I don’t know about you, but whenever I buy an album there are always a handful of songs I’m not too keen on. Unusually there isn’t a track I don’t like on Meteora, but my particular favourites are Easier to Run, From the Inside and Breaking the Habit.
Although Linkin Park have released further albums over the years, with well-known songs such as What I’ve Done, Burn It Down, Iridescent and The Catalyst coming to mind, Meteora, for me, is THE Linkin Park album.
And listening to it, at full volume while cleaning out the kitchen, makes the job so much more enjoyable.
If you’re looking for excitement, this may not be the place to go…
It was a glorious spring day yesterday. I hope you all had some sunshine wherever you were. Here are some writing prompts to get you in the creative 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: email@example.com
Word Prompt: Sunshine
For last week’s prompts click here
EDC Writing builds up a vivid picture in the mind with his piece:
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, sheds its load, some coated, hmm… perhaps T-shirt and shorts not the best choice, but most don’t give a damn…it’s 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 inquires.
“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 ease from the steaming throng, none dare to block their way, all relieved to have her gone.
As the car groans on, they stand 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.
A super piece from Allie P:
Here are two installments from Rajiv Chopra and his Mary Jane series:
‘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.”
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.
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…
Happy Friday everyone; I hope you’ve all had a good week. Gopika N has written several wonderful poems in this slot and I’m thrilled to have Gopika back as my guest writer. Here is a little bit about Gopika:
I am 18. I belong to India, the largest democracy in the world. I am a passionate writer who loves writing poetry as well as fiction.I used to read books since my early childhood and that helped in bringing out the writer in me. Writing is a better way to bring out the unsaid feelings hidden in the subconscious mind.
If you’d like your writing to be featured in my Guest Writer Spot, please contact me here or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
One of my favourite music artists has always been Bryan Adams. I first fell in love with his songs when I heard Run to You, released in 1984, from the album, Reckless, when I was the tender age of 12. I saved my pocket money for the single, but it wasn’t long before that wasn’t enough and I wanted the album. Though, it seemed to take me an age to save enough money for it, even though I promised Mum I’d do all the family’s ironing forever in return for cash.
I soon discovered there had been three albums before Reckless and over the next few years, my love affair/obsession with Bryan Adams‘ records took over, with me vowing to track down and purchase all three albums. But it actually proved much harder than I thought it would be due to the fact that a) I lived in Newbury and they didn’t sell any Bryan Adams‘ albums in any of the 50 (a slight exaggeration, but there were a lot of record shops there at the time) shops which sold records in the town (not even in good old Woolworths) and b) even if I did the whole street’s ironing, it would have taken me an age to save up for them.
So the elusive albums didn’t appear in my record collection until I was 16 and a) able to travel on the bus to Basingstoke (which is actually only 20 minutes away, but takes about 5 hours on the bus due to the scenic route the driver is obliged to take) with my friends where they did sell all three Bryan Adams‘ albums and b) had enough money for them, thanks to a Saturday job in Halfords (if you work in Halfords, think yourself lucky with your current uniform. Back in the 80s, the uniform consisted of breeze block grey overalls, which were at least 10 times too big. And of course, I was sporting my ever attractive perm to complete the look).
I still have all the albums in my record collection and Run to You is still one of my all-time favourite songs.