Start writing!

ShowNotes Archive

16:18, 22 May 2017
Hour of Writes
Thanks for the feedback Safemouse. I always enjoy hearing from you. Hope you'll be able to enter 'For The Many' :-) Alison

22:39, 17 May 2017
safemouse
Thanks for your reply, Alison. Of course, HOW is your baby and you must do what you want with it. As a semi-regular user I just wanted to give you some feedback...

15:20, 15 May 2017
Hour of Writes
Thanks Safemouse! I appreciate your response, and the balance within it - also that what you like about HoW is not politics (I think you can assume that I am aware of that, and was when I wrote the email too). However, I think there is virtue in using something built for one purpose for another one. I grew up in South Yorkshire during the miners' strike in the '80s, the last Tory government, so personally have a very negative experience of Conservative policies. I am pleased at the way this election is becoming properly competitive in a way the last one never seemed to, the 'Milibean' image getting in the way of anything approaching policy. Having a proper opposition means that the Tories won't be able to get away with as much exploitation as otherwise.
The question of 'evil'/Tories/left-wingers is a fascinating one and deserves its own conversation, and indeed, research project in my opinion. We need a better system to have these conversations on the site. I will see what I can do.

12:59, 12 May 2017
safemouse
Alison,

Having read your recent email I would say this. I am going to uni in September as a mature student and I don't begrudge paying fees. Afterall, I don't pay anything til I finish uni and then only after I earn £21,000 per annum,which is alot of money to me. In particular, I think it's unfair for people who go to university to expect those who didn't to fund their education. As for who to vote for, I'm enjoying the retro feel of this election cycle and am torn between the different options. The Tories are bringing back grammar schools, Labour are going to nationalise the railways and UKIP are bringing back highway men and gibbets. Seriously though, on this occasion I could quite happily vote for almost anyone (i.e Tory, Lib, Lab, Green) or no one. I'm a genuine floating voter. I don't think the sky would collapse if we scrapped Trident, I don't think the Tories are inherently evil.

You caution against the fear and brow beating agenda of the right wing perhaps without seeing those elements in your own message. A message which implies that unless I vote for the 'true alternative' the swords of hunger will come beating on my door!

Granted , they are here already somewhat and a Labour vote might best further my own interests but... I don't seek a political solution to my core problems which will remain, by and large, whoever gets in. I will study the manifestos and vote as wisely as I can but my life is not really about politics and the political aspect of HOW is not what makes HOW attractive to me...Just sayin'.

13:36, 2 May 2017
Maje
Hi was asked about the imagery used in poem out of exile :-
prodigal,calves quivering under
his pentagram shadows
This was a reference to the Bible parable about the return of the prodigal son and the sacrifice of a fatted calf by his family in celebration.

15:17, 10 Apr 2017
safemouse
Congrats to Jaguar for your Trolls and Bridges story win. I enjoyed marking that!

01:32, 3 Apr 2017
Hour of Writes
Is it really blocked in China? I didn't know that. Interesting.

16:15, 2 Apr 2017
safemouse
Hour of Writes is blocked in China... :-(

02:30, 1 Apr 2017
safemouse
I think some of the entries this week are pretty good! I'm in the midst of marking now and enjoying. Have speed read a few others and will take a proper look later.

08:40, 30 Mar 2017
Tauren
Like the fabled cigar, sometimes a story is just a story.

08:39, 30 Mar 2017
Tauren
Hi Maxieslim, I've never had to wait weeks for feedback. If there are three markers I get their comments on Tuesday, less than three, then it's Thursday. It must be horribly frustrating if you're waiting longer than that, have you considered contacting Alison.

08:26, 30 Mar 2017
Tauren
So my writing style has finally become recognisable, I did wonder if that would happen. And yes I admit it wasn't my best work, but hey if I only write one mediocre piece out of every thirty five then I think I'm doing all right :)

00:14, 11 Mar 2017
safemouse
Good point, Maje...Thanks!

18:44, 26 Feb 2017
Tauren
I have too, sometimes you don`t get three to mark, occasionally I`ve only gotten two, did you get any at all?

16:11, 26 Feb 2017
Maje
Answering the question about marking live the dream I have on friday

12:27, 26 Feb 2017
writerSZGWAJNHNH
Has anyone received their stories to mark for Live Dream?

15:41, 25 Feb 2017
Maje
hi I noticed a comment on low marks when I marked for the first time I marked out of ten by mistake just a thought

17:11, 23 Feb 2017
LornieK
A dream & Rhyme.

Poetry is walking through woods,
her soles to soil, bare and pale.
And morning has come,
descending ambers, spirits sinking from a sun.
Poetry is sensing the chestnut earth,
dirt drawn by her tempered wine veil.
Leaves marooned and rich,
fluttering brittle sparks, burnt a telling trail.
Poets, claws and nose, are tracking the air,
autumns incarnated creatures of quite curiosity,
chirping a chorus of their primordial prayer.
Poetry strolls concealed by her crown,
of a hundred vibrant breathing, and burst tulips.
And morning has awoken,
sprinkling syllables like sage on the flesh of their lips.

18:29, 22 Feb 2017
writerSVTMLJBMPU
The Flensing Gates

Fisher found it hardest to cope in the evening. Mornings were, by and large, o.k, but when the dusk blew in and the fingers of night reached for him - it was all he could do to hold on. The thing was, recently, his hold had begun to slip from the tethers that his will imposed on his interpretations of reality.
Fisher could not recall his age anymore. Sometimes he looked at himself in the bathroom mirror and was surprised to see an old man staring at him. Occasionally the face would laugh; once it was smoking a small cigar. If only Evie had been here, things would have been alright - but she had gone somewhere.
Yesterday, or the day before, perhaps. Fisher thought that she might return today - or tomorrow.
The sharp knock on the door roused him from these musings and forced him to reach for his walking stick, upsetting an overflowing ashtray and an empty wine bottle as he did so.
"Yes?" He shouted.

"Mr. Tobias Fisher?"

As he lumbered slowly towards the door he macerated last night's discarded shells, and three syringes, further into the thick carpet. Whoever it was, it wasn't little Barney. He only came at night to get money. Later he would return with food and drink and together they would drink Brandy - and Fisher would eat his raw eggs with salt. All in all it was a good diet, he thought.
He would talk then, about Evie and Clem and the song of the desert winds in that place they had fought, whatever its name was, and little Barney would cry and inject himself.
As he got to the door, Fisher eyed the old Flyssa that hung there on its nail. He couldn't remember the last time he'd sharpened it.
"Who is it?" He enquired gruffly.
"C'est moi, Robert."
Tears sprang into his eyes before he beheld the face of the voice that had been behind the door.
"Mon Capitaine, mon Capitaine." He sighed.
The individual who stood in the now open doorway was dressed in an immaculate walking out uniform, complete with winter regulation coat and black Kepi.

"I'm not who you think I am Mr. Fisher; we thought that it might be less of a shock this way, you see."

"Come in Captain; I thought you dead." Cried Fisher.

Gingerly, the visitor entered the filthy apartment and wrinkled his nose at the overpowering smell of the place.

"Have a drink with me Captain."

Fisher led the small, sun-darkened man into the kitchen, and past the corpse of little Barney - who gazed forever at the redundant ceiling fan.

"Don't worry about the boy Captain; I'm letting him stay for a while."

He winked piratically at the visitor and muttered under his breath,

"He's a bit down on his luck - you know how it can get sometimes."

As he handed him one of Evie's china cups filled with spirit, the visitor motioned for him to sit down on the high stool beside the cooker.
Fisher raised his glass and said,

"Je ne regrette rien, mon Capitaine."

The tears cascading down his white beard mirrored the rain streaking through the dirt of the apartment windows.

The little man sighed deeply and said,

"I know Tobias; I know. But now you must listen carefully to everything I say. Do you understand?"

Fisher nodded, as the tears dripped off the end of his long nose into his Brandy.

"You are Tobias Fisher. You are sixty-nine years old today - and you have won a prize. If you like, you can take it as a present. It's a wonderful age Mr. Fisher. Two threes and three threes. You left Antwerp thirty years ago this very day, and now you will leave here with me. You will leave this Parisian rain , and I promise you that the weather that you shall shortly experience will be like nothing you have ever known."

"Oui, mon Capitaine. But I cannot go without Evie. I think she's coming home today you see."

The visitor sighed again and replied in a gentler tone,

"What is the best memory of your life together, mon ami?"

Fisher's lost countenance brightened, and his eyes shone as he smiled in reply,

"She was twenty, or twenty-one, sir and I was stationed in Corsica at the time, you remember? McClaren and Jacobsen had killed old Jacques' Rooster for the pot and we were all in trouble?"

The visitor smiled gently and said,

"Of course, please go on."

"Well, I took her dancing, and I couldn't dance you see - but she could and, well, we had a great laugh, and afterwards we went down to the shore and messed around in the waves, and I lit a fire and.."

"Very good Mr.Fisher." Interrupted the visitor.

As Fisher looked at the little man with pleading eyes, the Captain continued,

"I might say that you may meet with your wife soon, however, you may not recognise her initially. These things have a way of resolving themselves, you see. We are all travellers, great travellers, and you - I promise - shall certainly travel Mr. Fisher."

"Did she say anything about dinner Sir?"

"Have no fear Tobias, you shall have sustenance aplenty. Now, come, let us depart."

The lashing rain was as merciless as it was relentless, and the grey buildings gleamed like silver in the sun as the two men made their way; one in dressing gown and slippers, and the other in a skin of shimmering Peacock feathers. Wind drove the rain into both their faces. Fisher thought that the Captain's shone like the burnished leather of his old valise.

"What was that Mountain desert we were in Sir?"

"Arrogance, Mr. Fisher." Replied the visitor.

"No, Sir - begging your pardon - the one were you were killed."

"I believe you are referring to Algeria, Tobias."

Fisher stopped and, switching the stick to his other hand, slapped his forehead theatrically.

"Thank you Sir. I couldn't remember the name. I tried many times. But, you know, the harder I thought - the more it wouldn't come. I even asked Clem, when he came around last night, but he just kept injecting himself and I..."

"I understand. You will feel your old self, or should I say, your new self, shortly mon ami. It's not far now."

As they approached the abandoned abattoir, the visitor turned to Fisher and laid a cool hand on his shoulder.

"You see those gates ahead?"

"Yes Captain."

"That is the start of your journey. For many, it has been a place of transition. For some, it still is. Harlots bring their clients here now. Many have died under the blade, like the herds that were once corralled here. It is a place where appetites were catered for, and as such it holds tremendous power; tremendous energy. There are others like it scattered throughout this world. It is via one such place as this, that this I, and others, first located one of your dimensions."

Fisher shivered in the cold pre-dawn light and said,

"I think she must have gone for green figs Captain. You remember how the old Berbers used to flog them before things got bad? I got a taste for them out there you see."

The rusted iron gates swung open at the touch of the visitor's hand, and they marched together down one of the little black alleys.

"The sun made her hair silver that day on the beach Sir, she's a lot taller than me. She was so supple then. The lads used to say that they couldn't understand what she saw in me. When we lay down by the fire she showed me the little scar on her foot, where her Father's dog had nipped her when she'd been a child. It was a little white crescent moon Sir."

The visitor smiled and said,

"And it will be again Mr.Fisher. Or perhaps it'll be a little lightning bolt, eh? You'll be the same, but another you and...oh, it really doesn't matter anyway."

The Captain led Fisher through an empty doorway into a concrete tunnel.

"I cannot see, Sir."

"Oh, but you shall."

The little man brushed his hand against the rough, rounded walls and an amazing scene unfolded, like a living dream, before their eyes. Chairs lined the tunnel. Simple wooden chairs.

"Isn't it a sight to behold Mr. Fisher? It can make one a little queasy at first, but it is....well, it is what it is. Is it finite matter in an infinite space? Or infinite matter in a finite space? Good one isn't it. Life cannot exist without paradox; that is the quintessence of existence - or is it?

The Captain laughed softly as Fisher stared until the chairs disappeared into the horizon, in front and behind; thousands in each limited glance.

"I'm going to need new shoes Captain. These have let the rain in." Fisher replied.

"Take a chair Mr. Fisher, and Bon Chance, mon ami."

It was nice to sit down;so nice to sit here.

Fisher scrunched his bottom into the seat and gazed out at an Amethyst strand. The double suns stood at six and twelve, or the two and the four threes, if one was that way inclined. The sky was cloudless and cobalt blue, and the gentle breeze smelt of newly-mown hay and wood-smoke. Fisher arose and bounded into the bursting green waves, just far enough away from the tall blonde girl who had captivated his attention for most of the morning. There was something familiar about her, but - for the life of him - he couldn't say what.

20:14, 20 Feb 2017
Tauren
No problem, I`m just a nosy fecker is all :)

16:48, 20 Feb 2017
safemouse
Hello Tauren,

I prefer to keep stuff that I may re-work and enter elsewhere out of the public domain. I think in some ways it's the best thing I've done on HOW, though I admit it does require more work from the reader than usual. So I'm grateful to marker 2 for understanding where I was coming from but I understand marker 1's point of view, as well.

07:49, 16 Feb 2017
Tauren
Safemouse you tease.
You can`t post a note like that,
and then conceal the piece it`s about.
C`mon make it public so we can all have a peek at what all the fuss is about ;)

15:03, 14 Feb 2017
safemouse
You can't please all the people all the time... (two reviews for Note to self)

Marker #1: 10, 0, 10, 10, 20
Marker #2: 75, 65, 75, 75, 75

Marker 1

What I liked about this piece: Not a lot, to be truthful. I was fair and read the whole thing a couple of times but it was beyond me. As I was trying to find something I liked, I came upon the cliche " time is now worth more to me than money" so I will stop racking my brains on this point.

Favourite sentence: " Molly for Prime Minister"

Feedback: This was impenetrable to me. My heart sank when I saw how long it was too. Have pity upson your readers and give us something to work with here!

Marker 2

What I liked about this piece: A brilliantly original piece.

Favourite sentence: Truth has a funny habit of getting stuck like a stone in the shoe of one’s conscience

I do need to find someone that’s going to blow my socks off…
But you pulled one of them down

Feedback: I really enjoyed this piece. It's not necessarily the easiest to read, but I loved how haphazard and realistic the notes were and how the thread of the story was woven into the note. There are some brilliant, thought-provoking ideas in there as well - above love, religion, war, sex. Very clever - well done.


17:10, 6 Feb 2017
writerYoung
22.02.2014

The dawning –
clouds free-styling
and my life’s pilling
over a morning coffee cup

Dust shrouded
my memoirs
and Sun’s “au revoir”
beams my velvet underground

“Where to go?”
I asked and God
in sarcasm gave a nod
“pick up your head to the sky…”

I stand up
to look around
when spotting the renown
Vision of The Last Judgement

Where are thou –
inner sinners
I repent prior dinner
to find twelve pieces of me

Within dusk
shadows creeping
my padre now weeping
the bells convene – time has come

My colours –
through the scupper
bleeds with my last supper
now, then, in eternity …

…The Dawning

20:46, 5 Jan 2017
Tauren
Too Late....


Too late did I the blemish see
Too late the doctor did I see
"Too late am I" he said to me
Too late
The late
Me

21:54, 3 Jan 2017
Tauren
So perhaps an explanation is in order;
In writing I like to find the rhythm of words, make them flow into each other as seamlessly as possible, draw the reader along, make the reading effortless. I`d hate to think of readers frowning as they read my work, and while this is true in prose, it is especially true in poetry....Ordinarily.
However; as Shades and Charades was about depression, I chose a different route. I eschewed rhythm for discord, deliberately setting lines to jar off one another, disrupting any attempt at fluidity, making it impossible for the reader to "find the flow" as it were. I wanted each line to be read in isolation as well as part of the whole, I wanted the reader to not only frown, but scowl as they stuttered to a halt, forced to re-read lines, trying to make sense of what they were reading.
The end result is not pretty, but it was not meant to be, (at least it`s not as ugly as the illness)
This poem was prompted by many factors, I have more than a little personal experience with the illness myself; not to mention the suicide of a friend who, outwardly had the bubbliest personality you could imagine, and finally by an opinion piece by some smug asshole in an Irish newspaper who not only disbelieves in depression "sure don`t we all feel a little depressed now and again," but going as far as calling people like my friend cowards and worse.
So an experiment, that`s all, whether it worked or not I leave up to you, and as I always say, "I`ll try anything once, if it kills me I won`t do it again," :)

09:59, 23 Dec 2016
Tauren
When all else fails, confound them with the truth.

17:34, 9 Dec 2016
safemouse
Once upon a time...

I did breast stoke across a direct debit agreement
Time is a great schemer
Dried myself, forgot the 20 pence in the locker

17:07, 8 Dec 2016
Novelist
Hey Tauren, thanks for your interest in the next chapter! I must admit, the novel has been on hold while I've been mulling how best to roll it out. The problem is, it's going to be hard to get each chapter to be a standalone story in itself and I'm just not sure if a serial is best suited to this site or a writer's group site like Critique Circle, which has lots of writers submitting chapters from novels and a younger audience that might be more receptive to it. Meantime, I'm also working on the film: http://jamesdeberesford.wixsite.com/come-with-us

03:50, 5 Dec 2016
safemouse
In answer to Tauren: Um...maybe there’s no right answer but I tend to go for plot. For me, the advantage of a plot driven story- even within the maximum 2000 word confines- is that it's a more forgiving medium that creates a natural framework that human curiosity responds very well to and the contrasts in a plot and the fact that there’s more going on can be more satisfying than one long passage that is an extended thought or an exploration of a moment. Then the writing has to be really good to hold the reader's interest (and usually I don't think it is).

As it happens, I was one of the markers on your Shopping Channel story. It wasn’t the most original of concepts, for me, but you hit the ground running with the way you tell that story, IMO. There’s no fat on it and no false beginning. It is very condensed, with an excellent economy of style which makes it a much smoother read than many things I see on HOW. (I see also that your latest is a tale written with great care. Had I marked it I can see it scoring in the 60s, it has no real twist (and you're maybe too much in Stephen King's shadow) but there are some really good little bits of drama. What it so often comes down to is good quality human observation. I liked the line, 'the comfortable silence of a couple who feel no need to fill silence with inane chatter'.

Also, if you’re looking to please anyone, besides yourself, maybe look at the general aesthetic of the website and adjust accordingly. Really really good writing will usually shine through, I think, but I would suggest that merely good writing might lose out to something that happens to chime more with someone’s personal tastes, agenda, political outlook etc. That could work for or against you depending on who you're writing for.

This is not a horror story website per se, likewise if I write anything that's too metaphysical or dark I know I'm probably going to pay the price...I wanted to say something else but I've forgotten what it was so I'll leave it there. Hope this helps.

23:18, 3 Dec 2016
Tauren
A question?? Which is better, to write a story in broad strokes,necessitated by the word limit, expressing as much of the plot as possible; or focus in on one aspect of the story, minutely deconstructing the emotional conflict inherent within each character. Which would you, the reader prefer. A question I am forced to ask myself, what does the reader want? Until now I have written for myself, but here I am no longer writing for an audience of one, I am in fact, as well as deed, forced to consider what does the reader "You" want.
One of the pieces of feedback I received on my latest entry suggested that "I think less plot and more evocation would have made it more powerful," which provoked this inquiry.
So what I, "the writer" want to know is, which would you "the reader" prefer, a more complete, broad stroke story, or a more focused interrogation of a single moment?
I would really appreciate some input on this, Thanks.

23:14, 3 Dec 2016
Tauren
Hi Novelist, hows that second chapter going? Really intrigued on where you`re taking this.

22:00, 24 Nov 2016
safemouse
I'm intrigued about those 'monumentally scary dreams', Seaside Scribbler...

17:32, 15 Nov 2016
Tauren
If you Mark entries on a portable device/Tablet. Please read this:


There appears to be a difference in how entries are displayed on portable devices compared to computers. When I checked the feedback for my entry in last weeks competition (The comfort zone) this morning, I was surprised to find a comment from one of the Markers that I had failed to use the apostrophe in the words he`d and I`d.
As someone who finds it frustrating to read poorly punctuated entries myself I immediately rechecked the piece, and discovered to my mortification that it appeared that I had indeed failed to include the appropriate punctuation. However there seemed to be a smudge over the "d`s" and as I was at work on my tablet, I zoomed in, and found my errant apostrophes. I am not sure whether this is peculiar to android devices, (I don`t have an i anything, so if you have an ipad please let us know if it suffers from a similar problem) but the apostrophes appear as an accent over the letter, a teeny tiny accent at that. Whew! was I relieved.
So if you`re marking on a tablet and the piece seems to be peculiarly punctuated, please, please, please, (Jesus that`s a lot of P`s:) take a closer look, they might be there after all.
I presume Alison reads these notes, but in case she doesn't I`ll email her, though I doubt there is anything she can do about it.

22:51, 18 Oct 2016
Tauren
Hmmmm? interesting premise :)

01:05, 17 Oct 2016
Novelist
Tauren, thank you for your note, chapter 1 is pasted below. More coming.

00:59, 17 Oct 2016
Novelist
The man who had all the time in the world

Chapter 1- (Chapter 2 is coming soon as a HoW entry)

He unlocked the door to room 11 with some trepidation and was surprised to find it nicer than he imagined, when taking the stairwell and corridor into consideration. He entered a small hall side on so that a bedroom was the hall’s width in front and the lounge six feet to the right.
In the bedroom he could see a room just shy of 11x8 feet, cosily lit with a standard lamp and furnished with a brass bed, book shelves and old style television on top of wooden drawers.
Through the lounge doorway he could see a lamp lit on a pedal stall desk by the window. It was like he’d walked right in on someone’s life.
He approached the doorway to the right. He could now see that the lounge had a galley kitchen at the left end and a bathroom entrance at the right hand corner. There was plenty of room to swing a cat but overall it was a compact set up perfect for a bachelor. He peeped through the makeshift curtain of the kitchen sash window, made from a bed sheet, down on to the urban road four stories below, glistening in the rain and artificial light.
Out in the big wide world, there were always stones that lay unturned. Voyages that might end in shipwreck and captivity. Journeys that took one to the edge of endurance. There were friendships to be made and broken, precipices and passes unclimbed and untrodden. Drinks to be downed in God forsaken bars in sub-arctic cities. He could have known the intrigues of the harem and the wisdom of Amazonian plants. “I could have been a gun runner in Afghanistan,” he joked. With himself. But he knew, if one really can, that he was in a prison cell. Confined by a locked door, or poverty, or the condition of the mind. No matter, the fact of his incarceration was more important than the agent. Then the phone rang. He approached it with the cautious curiosity of a cat but didn’t answer. The answerphone kicked in.

‘YOU’VE REACHED THE VOICEMAIL OF JACK. PLEASE LEAVE A MESSAGE OF ANY LENGTH AFTER THE BEEP. I’VE GOT ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD.’

Then his eye was caught by the laptop on the desk. He sat on the squeaky chair in front of it and tapped a key. A message faded into view.

WELCOME TO THE AFTERLIFE HOTEL. WE HOPE YOU LIKE YOUR ROOM. WE’VE FIXED IT UP JUST LIKE A PLACE YOU HAD IN ONE OF YOUR OTHER PROBABLE REALITIES. DUE TO CUTBACKS THERE WILL BE NO LIFE REVIEW. PLEASE COMPOSE A SUMMARY OF YOUR LIFE ON EARTH, AT YOUR LEISURE. WE’LL HAVE IT PRINTED OUT AND LAMINATED FOR YOU.

ENJOY ETERNITY.

BEST WISHES, THE BACKSTAGE CREW.
TEL. __________

“Forever to think on my sins? Piece of cake, I’m a writer AND a Catholic,” Jack murmured. Then he looked up at the room again, as if seeing it anew. He put a Carpenters record on for a snatch, just to see if this was really happening. If the Carpenters sounded the same this was real. He looked disconsolately at the meagre contents of the fridge and took a sip from a bottle of value sugarless cola and spat the contents in the sink. Then he took another look at it and tasted.
“Hmm,” he said approvingly, having rapidly re-evaluated. “To Horace Holden,” he said. And took a swig. Horace Holden was one of Jack’s ‘go to’ people to propose an ironical toast to. He had to admit, the seamanship of Captains Bligh and Cook were second to none and for sheer stubbornness Shackleton deserved a handshake, but for services to sheer bad luck the American seafarer Horace got the cigar. For those who don’t know, Horace was not an out and out explorer but one by happenstance, who had an awfully rough time in Polynesia in 1832. Several times in Jack’s own life there seemed to be echoes of lessons in Horace’s odyssey, including his lack of success as an author.
‘And here’s to explorers everywhere- palace eunuchs, admirals and bearded hikers all,’ Jack thought, finishing the bottle. He considered himself one of their fraternity, having lived many years abroad. Having never long been settled in one place. ‘But as I am now detained here for the foreseeable, paradoxically I have the true freedom of this apartment, a wealth of unexplored choices. So I shall strike out to see things as I have never seen them. For the place I apparently spend so much time in is full of secrets, even to me, ‘ he added.
As he had all the time he needed he was in no hurry, though. He made use of the facilities.
‘I once read that when you die at first the place you go to looks like Earth and you might even have a physical body as well. Complete with your normal bodily functions,’ he observed internally, and flushed.
In the draw of the desk he found a dictaphone. He took that and some buttermints, then spoke aloud into the old-fashioned machine:
“I don’t know who I’m talking to, but whoever I’m talking to: you’ve got to see this place. It’s my flat. My mess. I recognise it but I don’t,” he said with a chill and then his eyes darted from side to side. “I’m scoping this place out.”
He began in the hall, dictaphone poised. “Like all great halls this is almost a room. Besides coat hooks it houses two dining chairs, a Casio keyboard and a book shelf complete with fascinating books no one reads cover to cover. The Japanese home keyboard is completely wasted on man with his temporal concerns, her average lifespan of a few score years. Its rhythm patterns and tones can normally only ever be fully exploited by some theoretical children who always brush their teeth before bed and ask nicely to leave the table. Worse, in this age of Facebook updates and smartphone notifications, what hope is there for its myriad capabilities? Sure, I’ve messed around with things like this but where was the enjoyment in that? Always having that awful feeling I had no time for it? Well that’s all going to change.”
The phone rang again. Jack let it go.
“Leave a message this time. Why don’t you?” Jack said. No message was. Jack looked more carefully at the books and resumed recording.
“But it’s not just any hall. It’s mine and these are exactly the kind of books I would fill a shelf with. Judging by how random some of them are, I don’t doubt for a minute several came from charity stores. What with such titles as, THE DORLING KINDERSLEY ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS BOOK and POPULAR HOUSE PLANTS.“
**
“The bedroom is perfect for snug winter nights watching old VHS tapes. And no doubt, like many bedrooms there’s more to it than meets the eye. With any luck, my alter ego might have a sex toy or two stashed away somewhere.”
He opened the drawers. Jack stopped and put the Dictaphone down. He could see the letters of a familiar magazine peeping out from under some clothes.
“My God,” Jack said. “It can’t be,” as if he had found the cup of the Holy Grail. In fact, it was his first glamour magazine. A January 1990 issue that had apparently gone to press before the fall of Communism in Romania, so it was really late ’89. “How did this get here?” he asked. In another life he must have tracked it down and bought it off Ebay but in the one familiar to him he had clean forgotten it. He sank on to the side of the bed and slowly turned the pages. He couldn’t explain why but these girls were not exactly how he remembered them. His favourite model, ‘The girl next door’ didn’t seem to fill the page as she had in his memory. He was glad the photographs accorded her an amount of respect that now looked quaint but the shots still looked awkward. Most peculiarly, the room she was in had a bed and drawers closely resembling his.

**
“Okay. Lounge. I have all the time in the world to look at the map. And when you really look at a map- for hours and hours and hours the reach of the white man cannot be in doubt,” Jack mused half-heartedly onto tape. “Oh, screw this. I’m going to do some writing.”

**

He must have had writer’s block because it took a while. He managed to find a typewriter but wasn’t sure about paper. One drawer was stuffed full of it but he couldn’t type on it because it was already full of students’ unmarked homework. No, that was just a bad dream. He was starting to have them. There WAS unmarked homework, a lot of it, from when he was a teacher abroad; but that was not part of this alternative time line. He had been counting the days he had been there. Two weeks just to find some paper. He could see how when you had time you just filled it up.
“Maybe I don’t want to write my life story. I might get sick of hearing my excuse-itus every day.”
The phone rang. And rang. Jack didn’t answer. Why should he, if they weren’t prepared to leave a message? He wasn’t going to break the habit of a lifetime. Instead, he wrote his life report in three days, a self-imposed limit. Apart from the last chapter, that is.

‘The Muslim traveller Ibn Battuta remarked that, “Travelling leaves you speechless then turns you into a storyteller.” It can also cause verbal diarrhoea that alchemizes into the wise nectar of stony silence,’ Jack typed. ‘So let me be brief. Not much of interest happened on my last assignment. As you know, I was pretty well travelled by then. I’d been to North Korea to poke fun, I’d been arrested in Dar Al Salem and played the British passport card, I was stung by a jellyfish in Australia and cried like a baby. I’d also done six months in Kalamay, which is one of the most remote cities in China. So it was kind of annoying that they wanted me to come for an interview in Hohhot when a Skype call will normally suffice. But they insisted. Paid for my flight from Xi’an.”

Jack sighed and took his glasses off. He looked around the flat. It always looked the same and yet different. Bottles moved. A new microwave oven appeared in place of an old one. New food appeared in the fridge. Cleaning products were topped up. It was like it was playing on some loop.

He fell asleep again, this time, at his desk. He dreamt of the job interview at the last campus he worked on. Its pencil thin Scholar trees swaying in the breeze. Then awoke to a noise downstairs. A man was screaming. Hours later, maybe days, he still had his ear to the floor. It was hard to say but it seemed like there were two people downstairs and one was being coerced. The one being coerced was a woman. He got up and walked to the door.
"No, it's not my concern," he said aloud. "And its not real." Then he paced around, knelt down and put his ear to the floor again. He banged his fist.
"You shut up down there! Leave her alone."
His eyes filled with helplessness. But downstairs they were laughing now.

The phone rang. Jack picked up.
“Afterlife? What kind of afterlife is this? he asked.
“The afterlife is what you make it, Mr Soirant,” came the reply. And the line went dead.

21:47, 16 Oct 2016
Tauren
Hi Safemouse, put up a note from your novelist account so we can find it.

11:07, 13 Oct 2016
safemouse
My favourite poem on hour of writes is said the baby giraffe to the lion by Vanita 18 closely followed by featherlight by experimental. My favourite story is survive the jungle by Reba Kaye. I am dictating this on my iPad mini two so please don't mind punctuation errors et cetera

17:20, 10 Oct 2016
safemouse
FYI, I have registered another account called 'Novelist' where my story 'The man who had all the time in the world' will continue. Thanks.

07:04, 4 Oct 2016
Mac
Reading the feedback on my last entry, which gave a fictionalised account of a true story: the founding of a gay football team, I felt some reflection was in order:

Did I downplay the extent of homophobia prevalent in 1991:
The story contains a pretty clear indication of the likely homophobia that would be faced and one clear incident. Beyond that, I kept it to one side because I wanted to focus on the forming of the team. The plain fact is that, except when directly faced with the likelihood of homophobia or some imminent attack, gay men themselves sidelined it - in order not to allow it to dominate their lives. Indeed, getting on with life and pushing boundaries [such as forming a football team] are seen as ways of having fun, developing communities and challenging homophobia - but by focusing on themselves and their activities rather than on homophobia, per se. There have been, and still are direct political steps taken against specific acts of homophobia - and always will be, I hope. [The Orlando tragedy is a case in point].

Did I get dangerously close to simply writing stereotypes?
Well, Kevin [who makes quiche for the players at matches] does exist - though his name was changed. I have met numerous Kevins in different arenas. Many gay men play to their notions of gayness[and stereotype, by implication] and, of course, many do not. This is common with the community groups - for complex reasons: fun, acceptance, creating an in-crowd, the embracing of the complexities of Camp, a coded shorthand concerning aspects of what Susan Sontag and others called a gay sensibility.
Played out in more public arenas [as Kevin and Don do at their first game, against a straight team] Camp becomes subversive, political, a way of fighting back that often undermines "the enemy" without resorting to violence. When Kevin challenges the opposing team, he is using his camp behaviour as a direct challenge: "we are here". I hope this came across.

One reviewer commented that s/he liked the story because there were no women in it. Tania is in it and she's a woman. In fact she is the key scorer on the team.

In the "noughties" I carried out some academic research with a colleague into the emergence of amateur gay football and interviewed members of numerous teams in the UK. It was a moving and enlightening experience that contributed to my understanding of my own sexuality - and to my admiration for the many people involved in the league [yes, there is now a league].

I attended The International Gay and Lesbian Football Association tournament in London a few years ago. It was an exhilarating experience but I was astounded by the Mexican team [the only one in their country so they regularly play high profile matches against straight teams at home]. They appeared in kit that was the brightest pink imaginable. Before kick-off they proceeded to perform a highly flamboyant short dance routine that clearly owed much to the "war" chants beloved of teams from other sports. This performance was pure camp and was clearly an unequivocal announcement of their joyous presence. Stereotypes? It's camp ... for a purpose. And because they enjoy it. It's who they are.

23:26, 27 Sep 2016
2460jehan
the sun is pouring through the windows, and it's too early to be awake/but you rise anyway. you need the money./get dressed, drink your tea, make lunch/in the miracle machine of the blender.

22:26, 20 Sep 2016
Tauren
The veil that separates genius from madness
is gossamer thin as a spiders web
and just as fragile

14:13, 13 Sep 2016
Angelite
A young couple in love
Travelling across the border
Soaking up glorious sunsets
Embracing their future hopes and dreams

A victim of domestic violence
Fleeing across the border
Hoping for a life free from fear
Desperate to give her children a better life

Solders serving their country
Destruction across the border
Bravely sacrificing their lives
Wondering, will they ever see their families again

A group of friends
Across the border on a shopping trip
Browsing the delightful displays
Searching for that special something to return home with

A long awaited family reunion
Unconditional love across the border
Every moment together treasured
Happy fullfilling memories that will last forever

Abundance of families in dispair
Taking inhumane risks to get across the border
Desperate to make it alive to a safer place of uncertainty
Mourning those who dont

Each person
Opportunities lie at the heart of every border




23:28, 10 Sep 2016
Tauren
Youth is wasted on the young,
Or so the elderly claim,
But is it, is it really?
I say not.

Youth is where it belongs,
The elderly would only hoard it,
Terrified of spending it,
Going to their graves still clutching it.

Youth is where it belongs,
It was meant to be used,
Misused, misspent, abused even,
By those who cannot understand it`s worth.

Let the young alone,
Let them be reckless, feckless,
Let them be wastrels,
Let them live.

23:26, 10 Sep 2016
Tauren
The middle of nowhere
That fictitious piece of real estate
Popularised as fen and glen, as peak or trough
populated by those in search of losing themselves
Where the lonesome cry of the Gulls,matches the weary song in their hearts

Unplugged from the digital drudgery
Desperate to slip the electronic shackles that bind them
They stride forth in ones and twos
In hopes of reclaiming a life they`ve never known
Unaware that the middle of nowhere exists in but one place, their hearts

For they may never discover the truth in the saying: loneliness is a crowded room
That everywhere is somewhere if you have someone to love
Or someone who loves you
But for those others, the unloving, the unloved
Everywhere is the Middle of Nowhere

19:47, 9 Sep 2016
Mac
Is "Hour of Writes" a space in which to experiment? I think so. But there is no way to convey that to your entry readers ... so you are a little at the mercy of their preconceptions. But then, why should they be concerned about your experiments? They will read and consider .... and comment.

12:43, 6 Sep 2016
Mac
There are acts of terror, shootings in the street, beatings, ill-treatment of people with disabilities, children and the homeless - rude people on trains, buses, in supermarkets, bricks thrown at the window of a passing car. And always there is someone on hand to film the exact moment. How does that happen? Are some of these acts staged for the camera? Are some people just habitual voyeurs walking around with the phone camera permanently poised for action? Does nobody want to help? Given the choice between being Nelson Mandela and Stephen Spielberg, which would you choose?

10:14, 31 Aug 2016
Hour of Writes
Welcome to David Zetland, this week's guest judge, water economist and author! http://www.aguanomics.com/

22:01, 30 Aug 2016
Tauren
A sincere thanks for the feedback that spotted my overenthusiastic use of the apostrophe, that kind of technical criticism is invaluable.
And I can assure you I have duly rapped myself on the knuckles, given myself a good talking to, and am currently in negotiations with the wife about a spanking:) though I have to admit I`m finding her enthusiasm a little disturbing; damn you E.L. James.
Also one of you brought up an interesting point, the word what`s; is it one or two?
Words that is. Being more than a bit of a pedant myself, I took to the internets (deliberate misspelling) and it seems the jury is out on that one, it appears to be a matter of personal choice. of more interest to my pedantry, how many words is can`t, which is a conjunctive of cannot, which is itself a conjunctive of can not. Discuss?
Heh Heh.

22:50, 4 Aug 2016
Tabitha D.
Shattered on the inside.

How ice, at its purest, seems to me:
external surfaces, a delphined wake,
as silent, cracking fissures tear the core.

When old glass, flowing downward,
obscures the truest view.
And fractals piece together what remains.

Of haunted, whitened forests
soft footsteps pressing in,
the glacier, unhindered, calves again.

When snow, packed underfoot,
creaks with weighted stress,
my heart constricts, and shudders
with a loss to end all ends.

Skin tinged blue may yet regain
the bloom of life
within this perfect cave.

All whiteness blinds away the pain
those stress-cracks hold such beauty
as beyond compare.

Delicate destruction, a promise of threat.
All along the fracture
sings a sacred ache.

I am broken and forsaken
though a saviour may be near:
as winter rolls around again
to refreeze my hurt and fear.

22:49, 4 Aug 2016
Tabitha D.
Inside a star.


The fleeting, yes, my heart's desire
the barely-there, a wraith
Ephemera, whispers on the wind,
impermanence my faith.

I tremble before the eternal,
faced with nature's stand
Beneath a soaring mountain
being scoured and withered to sand.

In the shadow of mighty forever
I tremble before the abyss
Toes inching and sending down trickles,
the landslides remind me of this.

I sleep in perfect hollows,
and cut my teeth on bone
The glory of calcification
rolls in my mouth, I am home!

Cascading the ones gone before me,
throughout my own blood by their dust
Absorbing a lifetime in seconds
turning my fillings to rust.

Temporal consumption thus rendered,
my heart winds to stillness sublime
How quickly we flash to our endings
how rapid the animal time.

22:44, 4 Aug 2016
Tabitha D.
Spirit Lab.


Breathing in the dark,
Chemicals cloudy
Aged and coloured,
By the breaking down
Of skin, soft tissues
And dreams.

Animals dream, too,
Here in tubular palaces
Captured and floating.
Each footfall vibrates
On singing parquet
And they stir,
Timed by my movement.

Breathing in the dark,
Heart settling to a rhythm
Swaying in time,
With these spells of ages
And a Blackbird caws
At the centre of my brain.

In dim-lit netherworld
Songbirds feast
On plastic berry Bacchanalia,
And the owl eyes a mouse
Who has yet to discover
His second death.

A fox cub
Infinitely curling about herself,
Shows a varnished bacon tongue.
Cutesy and hot-headed in her starring light.

And I…
I stand as still as they.
Suspended in this spirit lab.
A player just as beastly,
Mentally reanimating
Every twitching nose,
Lightless eye
And curious, scratching paw.

22:44, 4 Aug 2016
Tabitha D.
Blood in the Fire.


The smell of the foundry surrounds you
abounds and wreaths around you.
A man of ore, born of the earth

I thought of you as Roman.
Alive, shuddering with the stress
and exertions
of recent war

The thrill of hardship
fresh upon you,
made ever-stronger by violent work
your fibres stretch then relax
to gather in quiet, resting power

Glittered in sweat,
you have raced through history
to arrive, tattered and magnificent,
heaving, and worn like a mountain

I have melted into you -
piston thighs greased with excitement!
As your black-ringed fingers
chase a whitened path,
through my pebbled steam

Our minerals mix:
salt and blood, tears and love
and the hooves of legion drum in my ears,
outpacing a gathering storm
as little death overwhelms me

You are home,
hanging suspended in a grief-cloud above me.
And I invite you, with a succession of imagined dilations,
to rain down.

22:41, 4 Aug 2016
Tabitha D.
In these dangerous, uncertain times, some things persist as immoveable mountains of truth and certainty. Here’s what’s been on my mind this evening:

My sister and I: a brace of ‘same difference’ cleaved from DNA that means both of us will cry just as easily at a You Tube video of a baby elephant trying to get out of a paddling pool, as at news footage showing the bodies of tiny innocents washing up like flotsam on Mediterranean beaches.

My mirror, the yardstick by which I measure the foolhardiness of all my flaky schemes and plans, and the one for whom I wish ultimate safety in the solace and comfort of true love: would there be one to deserve her and man enough to attempt the climb.

She’s incisive, decisive and totally logical. I love talking to her, about anything under the sun. I’m equally just at home sitting in a room with her and saying nothing for hours on end.

My mother: shot through with luminous, trembling care, she reminds me, always, that to be kind is the greatest of virtues. A humanitarian to the core, she bears the marks of stresses woven into herself like an heirloom quilt under which she keeps us all warm. She’s the bravest one of all, and the most beautiful.

The woman is also utterly maddening with her habit of asking a question, then talking straight through the answer, only to re-ask the same question five minutes later and do precisely the same thing. I only state this fact to remind myself that this habit will, in time, come for me, too.

My brother: he ticks like a vintage wristwatch. All matters of history and science wreathing together, bursting fragments of bent and dented philosophy skywards, eager to see where the pieces fall. He picks, crane-like, through dusty knowledge, feathering his phantasmagorical mind with layer after layer of abstraction (to the exclusion of all but the most pressing domestic elements, and sometimes not even so).

My father: if my brother is the wristwatch, my father is the mantle clock. Presiding quietly, ready to sound with a gentle chime should any of us veer too far into perceived assumption. He squirrels away all worry and doubt into psychic crevasses as deep as any in his beloved Les Trois Vallées where, undoubtedly, he retreats whenever we all start hollering over one another.

Of course, he also loves to make his own noise. The difference being, he’ll do it using Led Zeppelin at decibels Environmental Health deem completely unacceptable.

My husband: An almost-decade has done nothing to tamp down my curiosity for him. He’s very proper, a stickler for the rules, but it hardly ever prevents him from shrugging off the shackles of responsibility in favour of throwing caution from a great height if he believes the risk worth taking.

And, should caution shatter like a frozen pigeon on the cobbles of utter folly below, what then? With the confidence of one who knows that legends are made out of vulnerable men, he’ll start the following day as though disappointment had never visited him at all.

My family: irreplaceable, irreverent, enduringly fascinating and the ones with whom I like to be with most of all.

22:44, 28 Jul 2016
Tauren
For those who were wondering about the characters motive in "I can change" this was a much longer story, 3,500 words, when i wrote it, and I had to delete certain things for the word count. Mary is a deep cover operative who had just been activated and was quite literally burning her previous life, which is why she killed the prostitute and her husband, who after all looks for a dead woman. The reason for the bags of smoke is for the coroner, it would show they died of smoke inhalation, which is how most people die in house fires. show someone what they expect to find and they stop looking. The reason for the radio frequency jammer was so Roshana`s pimp wouldn't be able to track her. if anyone wants I can post the full story in my notes? not sure how you can let me know though? I`m new to this site.

23:09, 1 Jul 2016
macdonald
Learning to Read
Is that the duty psychiatrist? ‘the caller asked as I groaned inwardly. Somehow you can always tell when it’s a police officer. Why did requests for Sections always come so late at night? It was two a.m. by the time I reached the jail.
‘He’s foreign, doc.’ the burly desk sergeant told me. ‘Been working the tills at Tesco’s for six months. But behaving odd recently, the manager says. Went crazy this afternoon. Shouting that people had been spying on him, pulling foodstuffs off the shelves, scaring the customers.’
The man was sitting on the floor in the corner of the cell, his chin resting on his chest, his hands covering his ears. He was unshaven, dressed in blue jeans and a clean t-shirt. The police had removed his belt and shoes. His name was Ali.
An enormous constable stood by the cell door while I began my examination of his mental state.
Ali looked up, listening carefully as I introduced myself and my purpose, then got to his feet.
‘I’m sorry doctor,’ he whispered, head bowed, looking at the floor. ‘I did not mean to cause this trouble. I must apologise.’ I was given a plastic chair and sat with my notebook on my lap. Ali sat on a bed which was fastened by rivets to the wall.
‘How long have you been in the UK, Ali?’
‘Eighteen months.’ He was still addressing the floor.
‘And you work in a supermarket?’
‘Here yes, but I was school master in Damascus.’ He shoved his hands in the pockets of his jeans and lifted his head slightly.
‘Why did you leave? I asked’
‘My students held an anti-government demonstration. The next day a stranger came to my classroom and I say “who are you” and he say “ the man who has taken your job.” I would have been arrested if I’d argued. My brother is student here and I want to be teacher but my English no good so I read. To learn the language. But now they are sending me home and the people at the supermarket make fun of me.’
‘Why do you think they were making fun of you, Ali?’ I asked. I was confident that an examination of his thought processes and content would uncover evidence of paranoia and wondered if he might be an undiagnosed schizophrenic.
‘I tell them I am learning English and soon they begin quoting from the books I am reading. They always doing it. I know they haven’t read them so how would they know?’
‘What sort of things have they said?’
This morning my supervisor, she says ‘I haven’t slept a wink’ and then that the manager has sent her on a ‘wild goose chase’. Lots more also, but I forget some.’ I was puzzled by this.
‘What books have you been reading, Ali?’
Shakespeare and King James Bible, like on desert island discs. I have radio and always listen to it.
‘Why do you think these quotes mean your co-workers are making of fun of you?’
‘Someone must be watching me,’ he said, crossing his arms and looking up at me properly for the first time, his eyes narrowed. ‘Making record of what I read. Why would English people make phrases from Shakespeare? What sense does it make to them nowadays. There are no wild geese in Tesco’s.’
‘Is it just Shakespeare?’
‘No,’ he said shaking his head. ‘King James Bible also.’
‘What have they said?’
‘Yesterday one said ‘no rest for the wicked’ and another said ‘the blind leading the blind.’
‘So what happened today, Ali?’
My caseworker phoned this morning to tell me my asylum application had been rejected. I told the manager and he just said ‘you’ve got yourself in a pickle, Ali’. I’d just read ‘The Tempest’ but how could he know that?’
‘Anything else happen?’ I asked. By then I’d stop making notes.
‘There’s an old man who always comes on a Friday. He and I are friends. He likes football like me. I ask him if he is going to the match. But even he was in on the joke.’
‘What did he say?’ I asked. Ali shuffled his feet.
‘He say ‘the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.’ I just read Matthew’s gospel the night before. Somebody must have told him.’
‘But Ali,’ I said, ‘these phrases are commonplace. People say things like this all the time in England.’
He shook his head slowly, rubbed his jaw, then laughed.
‘The ordinary people talk like Shakespeare or King James?’ he said.
‘Yes, they do. Sometimes they don’t understand where the words came from, but they know what they mean.’
‘So they were not spying or making fun of me?’ he said pulling on his bottom lip, then ‘It was just chance they used them then?’
‘I think so, Ali,’ I said. ‘If you listen to people chatting on buses, in the street, on radio and television, people who don’t know you, they’ll say the same things. Not just Shakespeare and the Bible. Borrowed words and phrases from everywhere.’
Ali stared at me, not sure whether to believe me or not. I recommended that he be released, that care in the community would be more appropriate than a mental health sectioning.
I didn’t see him when he first attended for clinic review but did four months later. He was clean shaven and wearing a smart suit and tie. He smiled when he recognised me, grasping my hand.
‘You were right doctor,’ he said. ‘The English people, their heads are lexicons. Every time they talk they use the words of all the people who have come and gone long past. Arabic language is nothing like this!’
‘So no more worries that your colleagues are making fun of you, Ali?’
‘No, no more, doctor. But I left the supermarket. I work as teaching assistant now. My asylum has been successful.’
‘All’s well that ends well then Ali, as an Englishman might say.’
‘Yes doctor. But like you said, not just Shakespeare and the Bible. The Romans they left words behind and the people picked them up, then forget where they found them. The Angles and Saxons, the Vikings and Normans. All their best words survive and survive, even when the people have vanished. Most do not know when they chatter they honour all these people who once lived on this island. People like me, perhaps we’ll leave words for English too.’
‘Perhaps you will Ali.’ We shook hands, said goodbye, but he hesitated at the clinic door.
‘In my country,’ he said ‘bad people, they smash up their ancestry, pull down all the beautiful things left from the past. But this could never happen in England.’
‘Why not, Ali?’
‘Because everyone here carries their museum in their heads. A museum of words that cannot be smashed or lost. So many words I still have to read. It is good to know that they will always be there ready for me.’

14:39, 29 Jun 2016
safemouse
The Sunday Sermon

During the run up to the EU Referendum I didn’t use Facebook as a soapbox and now that we’re out I think we need to accept the result. Personally, I voted in. I am and always have been in favour of ‘ever closer union’. However, I noted that there clearly wasn’t the political will for a United States of Europe in this country (or, sadly, anybody making the case for one) and voting out might be painful but lead to a chain of events which could potentially see us back in a Europe stronger and closer; and with us knowing what side our bread is buttered on. I don’t think this will happen anytime soon and in the interim we may see the loss of Scotland and troubles in Northern Ireland. In the mid-term the EU itself may unravel and there may even be war with Russia. Worst case scenario, a small nuclear incident. But (perhaps) we’ll get there in the end, members of some sort of European union that has our full-hearted support. History so often shows only misfortune or coercion make this sort of transformation possible. No pain, no gain and all that.
Staying in would have given us another headache, that’s for sure. We'd have been in limbo, not fully co-operating with Europe but with half the population not satisfied with that concession, anyway.
Of course, it may all play out differently- by some estimates we’ll end up only slightly worse off- and by others we’ll sail off into the sunset. Nobody knows and we should try and make this work and concede that not all experts were on one side and there are positives and negatives to being in a union. Nicola Sturgeon certainly seems to think so, as she is now in the process of trying to stay in one and leave another. But one thing I think we all know is that the NHS isn’t on the brink of a massive windfall, nor will the challenges of immigration disappear, as many Brexiters hope. The challenges and rewards of an uncertain and changing world remain with us. And if we’re still trading with the EU they’ll probably still be making laws which we have to follow. Amen.

14:33, 29 Jun 2016
safemouse
5 Ideas on enhancing HOW.

1. An occasional sideline competition (in addition to the main one). For example, to continue a story or maybe to have a serial competition, where entrants write a 4 chapter story, 1 each week for a month. There could be marks each week and a prize at the end.
2. A monthly article from a HOW user on something writing related. Could be their tips on the art of writing or talking about a favourite HOW story of theirs. They could be paid in credits.
3. An annual prize for the best piece of writing.
4. A judge’s prize of the month for most constructive critique. Maybe a free credit.
5. A small prize for accruing three featured stories. I suggest being able to choose the theme for a given week.

I wouldn’t want to see HOW change too much from its present format. I like its uncluttered feel and how we can control access to our unselected stories but feel it could be more involving and a few small tweaks may enhance its overall appeal for all concerned.

22:38, 27 Jun 2016
Nicholas Gill
Visionary and Cynic Raging in the Countryside
(Hour of Writes entry for “Love Thy Neighbour”)

Said my Inner Sioux Chief, “All of Nature is in us, and all of us is in Nature. We are neighbours, you and I – though I lived a long time ago, still my breath is the same breath you take and also the breeze which flows through forest and meadow. Nature is your Mother and she will take care of you if you let her”.

So too said Percivale to Arthur, “You and the Land are One. Drink from this cup and be restored.”

I heard these words and chanted them as a mantra, walking past red gash of poppies, blue inlet of lavender and yellow blanket of oil-seed rape – nature's colour chart offering summer samples to blend with the soul's wallpaper. I walked along the the good red road asking the questions all good mystics ask.

Is it me, the sky? Am I a cloud drifting on the edge of life's horizon? Where does the green field end and where do I begin?

Am I grass?

But another voice said, “Pipe down – you sound like Fotherington Thomas saying Hello clouds, Hello sky...

“Any fule kno that poetry is wet and nature is a gurly place where aunts skip around with butterfly nets and say how luvly is the lark ascending...chiz, chiz.”

Then the voice changed again and I remembered lying by the river with warm revolver in palm, the kind muzzle nuzzled by my temples and seeing the willows bowing low to the river

“not in the slightest like Japanese diplomats in green kimonos,

nor in the least like an emerald firework display,

and certainly not the cascading hair of the River Goddess.”

Said a voice, “This is it, baby. Life is a matter of being born, struggling through the wilderness and flopping gratefully into the black hole at the end of it.”

But something in that hard Chandler voice hadn't quite convinced me. The swans didn't seem aware of the nihilistic, fully automatic model of the universe.

So I'm still walking, seeking a deeper connection in spite of the Inner Punch and Judy Show where the Big Stick beats it all down.

“Let's be down to earth about this – you've come out here to get some exercise because the last blood pressure readings where a bit off-beam. You are an organism among organisms. Flowers have colours to attract insects. You put on a cool jacket and poetic aura to attract the Dames. So it goes on. The sky is blue because the atmosphere refracts light. Clouds are just bunches of water waiting to rain on someone's parade. The countryside is wet and full of cow shit and stinking dead sheep. We live in a planet-sized laboratory administered by the Divine Vivisectionist.

“That's why we have cities – to keep people safe from all that oozing horror.”

But I don't want it to be like this. I want to hear the deep heart's core of mystery in the song of Nightingale and Darkling Thrush.

These voices are all my own – neighbours within the Inner inner city council flats of my mind. Neighbours forever fighting for ownership of my soul.

But I wouldn't be without them.

“Let us go then, you and I, while poppy fields spatter their bloody petals by fields of chemical corn, rotten as a green corpse.”

Let visionary and cynic walk together.

We all know that poetry is not nature, but a manufactured version of this wet graveyard we have to walk through. Let us walk and get fit for whatever is to be...

“Nature sucks.”


08:26, 18 Jun 2016
Mac
The cricket and the frog sing different songs. But neither is quiet.

10:51, 22 May 2016
SteelTome
Snowstorm

Lost motes of glass dancing upon an invisible cascade of the winds. The spirits of the wastes screaming their lamentation, their entombment in a frozen prison of ice and snow. A wanderer fortifying herself against the endless onslaught, her mind fraught, her body wearied, but her will cast in iron.

Through forests of oak, their arms thrown up in a fruitless attempt to appease the anger of nature. Through lakes, retreated beyond a surface of fear, through villages, devoid of humanity, through cities, no longer bustling beacons of hope, through the world, enshrouded in a perpetual storm of snow. She still wanders to this day; I only hope one day I will find her.

21:32, 11 May 2016
safemouse
I said boo
But no one was there
Twas a lonely boo
But I didn't care

12:24, 22 Apr 2016
Lil' Me
White noise,
lost in the vibrations.
Buzzing like a bee.
The drones.

Conform.

11:10, 14 Jan 2016
writerGAKBUVWUMQ
'Mummy! Is that the man you really liked,
who died?'
says the two year old boy,
pointing at a passer-by
on the street.
'Where? No love..'
(smiling ruefully).
'Why isn't it? Why?'

21:59, 1 Jan 2016
Hour of Writes
‘Happy New Year,’ Grace murmured under her breath, the wind whipping the bitterness from her lips and spreading it out amongst the trees.
Reunited in death, her mother lay just three rows from Uncle Bernard now. She taken by the sudden and catastrophic failing of her heart, he more gently by old age. Grace felt exposed by the loss of him.
Uncle Bernard, her protector. He could be nothing but a hero to a little girl who, cowering from a storm, had been discovered by his kindly eyes. Even now his name recalled the scent of mint and tobacco as he had handed her his jacket and raincoat. In the darkness of that moment she had been wrapped in the warmth and flavour of him.
Bernard had not intruded, had not scolded, he had not tried to force or coerce the child she had been to leave her safe haven. He had remained, selflessly giving her the protection that he needed from the lashing weather, accepting his role as sentinel.
From beneath the bench she had watched the interaction of mother and watchman, seen the primal force of maternal fear diminish to sparkling laughter with just a word and a gesture from this man. Bernard had been unaware of his power over them, of how he had utterly changed their lives.
The storm that had thrown them together was not the source of Grace’s fear. It was only that the noise, the bluster, the sudden violence of it reminded her of something else. From the first distant rumble of the key in the door, the rolling promise of anger in his voice, to the tumult of limbs, the crack of pain and the piteous shrieking. Grace had learned to run for shelter at the first sign.
Bernard was the warm front that moved into their lives and calmed the storm. From that first moment, when he had seen Grace and decided she was worth protecting, when he had prioritised her over himself, he made a silent statement; Grace and her mother had value.
When a young Grace had learned the role that St Bernards carry out for mountain rescue she had giggled, calling the man a saint until he had begged her to stop. It had seemed so apt though; he had arrived to find them frozen and exposed, and the friendship he delivered thawed them from the centre as sure as any nip of brandy.
Her mother had explained to her that we are all formed by the generations that precede us. Her father’s upbringing had been uncertain, harsh, and it had made him violent. Bernard regaled them with stories of his mother, the woman who had been a living example of kindness, generosity, and compassion.
Just as he had stayed with her on that stormy day, so he stayed with them through the years. A reassuring presence, asking no questions, expecting nothing, giving much.
There had been no children for Bernard, no wife to bear them. Grace had privately speculated as to why, but the answers now lay in the dirt of Munich. She hoped that his life had been happy, in spite of the absence of these things that so many valued.
Grace stood at the foot of his grave enriched by his estate and by that most valuable of lessons; knowing she was worthy of love and protection. She would not repeat her mother’s mistakes. None of Bernard’s blood flowed in her veins but he had formed her more surely than DNA.
‘Happy New Year,’ Grace murmured under her breath. She had promised Bernard she would find him a corner to sit in while she danced the night away but she could hardly keep that promise with him six feet below.
A breeze enveloped her, warm and gentle, and scented somehow with mint and tobacco. Closing her eyes, Grace accepted the reality that her Sentinel was not yet ready to give up his role. He would watch her dance, wherever he was.

******

Vision blurring and stinging, James fled Dr Laurence's office, his sinking heart seeming to match the descent of the elevator until both reached ground level.

James stumbled outside of the pristine office suite and gazed blankly at the busy street. The building behind that had come to symbolise a concrete cocoon from which he had eventually hoped to emerge free and beautiful, seemed now as vacant and unfriendly as an abandoned cicada shell.

A lingering memory of his mother in her long pink skirt with the bells floated to the surface of James's consciousness. He had always loved that skirt. He knew if she emerged from her bedroom in the morning wearing it, that they would have a smiling day. She would sweep around the room with him in her arms, they would laugh and she would jingle like a kitten chasing a ball. As the years went by both his mother and the pink skirt appeared less and less often in the mornings and he got used to eating breakfasts by himself.

Although James had found himself alone many times in his life, both in his childhood and more recently in his search for someone able to unlock the safe of his subconscious, this time felt somehow different.

In the past, when his carefully balanced card tower world had been demolished, he had been distraught and numb of course, but with an unwaveringly constant buzz of desperation to repair or supersede. His eternal mantra "The next one will be better." had given him a degree of focus. That drive had been the one thing James felt separated him from the depressives these shrinks had insisted on lumping him in with. Each one seeming to conclude that exploring, rather than erasing, his inner thoughts and feelings was akin to unlocking the evil of the world.

Desperation was James's comforting friend, always there to pick him up in his darkest moments and keep him plodding forward in the quest for the proverbial Pandora to release all but Hope from the bone cage that was his skull, had given him purpose.

Immobile on the bustling street, James became aware that the need to replace what had been lost was now mysteriously and inexplicably absent. It suddenly appeared that desire itself had been the thing to grow its wings and ascend from Dr Laurence's pristine prison of tinted windows, leaving James himself, empty below.

The idea of seeking out another professional to help him access himself seemed ludicrous to James now, and he found himself laughing mockingly at the notion which had always been a source of comfort.

In his hand was the prescription Dr Laurence had printed for him. The latest unpronounceable poison designed to cloud and further suppress unfavourable thoughts and emotions.

In an unforeseen frenzy of rage which left as quickly as it came, James frantically tore at the script before opening his hands in submission, allowing the wind to carry the pieces and make beautiful patterns in the air from something so ugly.

His eyes followed the path of one of the tattered pieces of scrap still baring the smudge of Dr Laurence's signature stamp, as it moved along the footpath. Without thought, need or emotion to guide him, James found his feet tracing the rambling path of the tiny piece of paper.

Entirely focused on the trail he was pursuing, James was only vaguely aware of the background noise that was the horn and screeching brakes of a green Suburu, and was entirely surprised to find himself flying through the air, in a slow motion arc, watching the approach of the road below scattered with paper remains.

******

She just loved texting, it made her feel connected, wanted, even loved. Some days it was a challenge, but she didn’t feel as if the day had gone well unless she had had a text from him. She enjoyed the subversiveness, the furtiveness, the sheer naughtiness of a suggestive text.

Sometimes she wondered if it really mattered to him, but she let him off. He was busy, he wasn’t alone, the battery was low, the signal was bad. Life was like that.

All was forgotten when that little ping sounded, how had it happened that it took so little to give her a thrill? It was almost like him touching her. As soon as she saw his name on the screen she wanted to open the text and read it, but got caught mid – expectation. Would it be a ‘look love, I can’t do this anymore’ text? (She had got skilled at dealing with those now). Or maybe a bland ‘really busy, catch you later,’ text, or one of those ‘I’ve been thinking about you all day’ texts (she had had one of those, she knew what that meant). She supposed that this was why she loved the little computer that she held in her hand so much. The possibilities that it offered were so big in her small life.

It wasn’t as if her life was empty she rationalized. There was lots for her to do, lots of projects on the go and her job kept her busy didn’t it? And the garden, that would need a lot of her time soon. She needed to keep on top of things, well, you never knew did you?

She was very strict with herself, well, that was important wasn’t it? No texts before 09.00, give him a chance to get to work, she didn’t want to risk disturbing him at home and no texts at weekends or on Bank Holidays. She knew that it wasn’t fair and he liked to keep her separate.

Some days it was such a struggle to keep the discipline. Evenings were the worst, she often thought of a little snippet she would like to share with him, but she couldn’t, could she?

She thought that it might be good to talk to other people too. She texted friends, of course she did, and they dutifully texted back. She could usually guess the back story. The ‘poor Mary’, ‘she’s alone again you know’. ‘I like to support her as much as I can’, should we invite her round?’, discussions. She didn’t need their pity; she had Paul, hadn’t she? She understood why he limited the contact so much, she knew he didn’t want his wife to find out. Poor love, he was so caught. He didn’t say much but she just knew. Their grabbed coffee, and those special times. She was sure that any day now he would ask her if she would come on that conference with him. Once or twice he had admitted that he thought of her when he was at home. She knew that he would love her if he were free. The birthday card he had given her last year was still standing in her room. She just knew he hadn’t forgotten this year, she knew it was difficult for him.

Every work day she dressed carefully, glad that she had always looked after herself. Of course, she was older than him, but he had said he liked older women.

That little sound broke quickly into her thoughts and she jumped on her phone will the light was still on; ‘Paul, text message’, it was practically all she needed. She considered making a cup of tea before she opened it, she had asked him how his day was going; keep it simple, don’t make demands – she always tried to be quietly in the background, supportive, ready, his for the taking.

Abandoning her attempts to be cool, she tapped in her code and opened the little hope. ‘Good day thanks & you?’ Oh, how lovely, a question, he wanted her to reply. A chance to text him back. She hated it when she had sent 3 or 4 texts in a row, she much preferred it when they took turns.

‘Mine’s fine, busy, but that’s OK. Would you like coffee?’ press send. And wait. She started on the new customer accounts, she liked to keep on top. It wasn’t really time for coffee and a break would put her behind. But she didn’t mind, anything for Paul.

She spent vast stretches of time planning their life together. She knew she would be just what he wanted. She would enjoy cooking and cleaning for him. She knew that women weren’t really like that these days, but he would love it, she felt sure. She wouldn’t ask for much, but would be very grateful for anything she got from him.

She flicked the screen on, no reply yet. She knew he was busy and he’d asked her not to visit his desk, in fact she only saw him at work if he was doing one of his walk abouts. But they did have to be discreet didn’t they?

He’s only kissed her once but she knew he had liked it. That ‘thinking of you’ text that had followed had kept her going for two years now. The following year’s office party had disappointed her, but she knew that they shouldn’t be too obvious.

She had known that she would be on her own at Christmas and was never keen on going out New Year’s Eve, so that didn’t matter at all. Its what happened, it was the price she paid for falling in love. One day he would know the consequences of her love, but for now, she would just wait for the next text.

...to be continued....

21:56, 1 Jan 2016
Hour of Writes
The story so far....


Legacy Of Learnings

The sounds drift in. The buildings are
remembered.
The life of the city never lets go nor do you
Ever want it to.

Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)

I say this to every hearing mother
I say this to philosophers
I say this to wise men and not
I say this to untraceable ethers: Pass the parcel.

Pass on the design of life
The spirit that rose with you every morning when you stepped out of bed
Pass on the heart that knew how to carry on
Pass on the perceptions gained over dykes of pain.

Split the atoms of things that happen, into two -
One for now and one for times to come
The mind might teeter at the edifice of endurance
But save solemn imprints for those still in the womb.

Pass the parcel of your learnings
Make an easy passage
That 'they' may know without knowing
The unspoken, untrodden, unseen...all that you have been.

And let something remain of your presence here
Something more significant than blood
A secret answer to a secret question
A preciouswakefulness, a dream within a dream.

Pass on the pearls, Spread the light
Leave a trace : Clear voice, clean intent
Fill empty spaces with goodness
A continuous sphere of life, rolled time and time again, but unbent.



******


My name is Lao Tse and I have been invited by my masters in the Democratic Republic of China to write the “Topical Essay” for 2050. I have chosen the title: The Exceptional One

Tolstoy asserted that the times produce the person, and that Napoleon’s appearance was therefore inevitable. When Napoleon was born, European powers were competing for a dominant position and democracy was threatening monarchy. There was tension in Europe. Tolstoy seemed to have a point.

But suppose Napoleon’s mother had not succumbed to Marbeuf’s adulterous advances and her boy had not got to the military college. The chance that someone else as talented as Napoleon in politics, as intuitive in war techniques, as ambitious and intelligent, would have been available is probably small. Napoleon’s replacement in history would have been a lesser general, the conflicts would have followed a different course, and perhaps petered out long before three or four million people were killed. The situation in Europe a hundred years later was similar and led to all out war, but produced no Napoleon The world is seldom tranquil, so if Tolstoy’s assertion is correct we would expect Napoleons to be produced constantly. Fortunately they are not, but we would expect them to appear sometimes, and one did, albeit in a modern version in 2033.

The world had been in an unprecedented state of instability for more than twenty years. The hitherto unimaginable global communication made possible by the so called “Internet” almost abolished security in any field. It allowed any individual or group to spread ideas, information and misinformation around the world without delay, and skilful manipulators to intercept and change private communications. Dependence on the Internet for the control of most of the operations of a community and its defence, provided opportunities to create both social and military chaos in a way not conceivable before.

In politics, democracy in the “Western World” was becoming only a facade because of the globalization of commerce. Any laws made by the elected governments had to suit the “multinational” companies. Refusal to comply with their demands would result in withdrawal of credit and investment, two things believed to be critical to a country’s survival, or at least to the survival of the party in government.

Nationalism had been effectively tabooed by associating it with racism, which in turn had been tabooed by associating it with Naziism. The proclaimed attitude of the Western World at the time prevented people from admitting to the natural (and from the lessons of history, reasonable) human suspicion of other races or nationalities. They accepted instead a dogma of equality and tolerance which forgot the basic principal of survival, and developed a “human rights” philosophy which it took so far that it was unable to eliminate organized crime or terrorism. So people from poor countries were able to invade wealthy nations without firing a shot, simply by calling themselves refugees and invoking equality, tolerance and human rights

World population continued to increase uncontrollably. The consequent overcrowding in the wealthy nations increased social tension and anxiety and created a new poor class. A fundamentalist Muslim movement openly proclaimed its intention to rule the world and kill the “infidels”. They declared an “Islamic State” and took over a large section of Iraq. Millions of supporters migrated to it from neighbouring countries, but a logical response to this from the infidels was never formulated, and the rest of the Muslim community made no official comment.

In spite of all this, no exceptional person appeared to exploit the situation, until 2033 when charismatic Hieronymus Graham founded the “Righteous Economists” movement. Heironymus, affectionately known as Ronny, first came to attention as a “televangelist”, spreading his version of the Gospel around the USA via television and the Internet. Economic dealings he insisted were inseparable from religion, and in whatever form, were justified by it. The more complicated the economic dealings the nearer they were to God, and the various “derivatives” developed by share traders were a good example of this. Those who adjusted their thinking to his new concepts were destined to unlimited wealth by joining his church he claimed.

His influence grew rapidly and The Church of Righteous Economists became wealthy from Ronny’s brilliant money trading, and the tax benefits available to churches. Members were encouraged to lend money to the “church” and received huge dividends. Investors began moving money to the Church of the Righteous Economists from the Stock Exchange, and this gave Ronny manageable control over that already shaky institution. When there was sufficient money under his control he attracted the potentially corrupt and it was not long before he could rely on support from influential people and political organizations. A skilled computer hacker himself, he had connections to a network of talented hackers whom he employed when needed. His band of well paid loyal executives expanded, and his organization became large enough to enlist the help of organized criminal gangs when required. He had enough of his people on the boards of the IMF and the World Bank to influence their decisions.

By 2040 Ronny was ready to install his chosen President. His political and financial connections, and his ability to hack into information that moved around the Internet, ensured his man’s election.

In 2042 Muslim terrorists exploded a nuclear device in Manhattan.

The non-Muslim world went wild. Muslim apologists were murdered in the streets and there were calls for retaliation. Ronny instructed his President to begin by playing cool and suggesting the “Christian” response of turning the other cheek. This had the two desired effects. The bulk of the populace began calling for the removal of the President and only his retreat to a safe place saved him from assassination. This gave time for sufficient hydrogen bombs to be aligned to pattern bomb The Islamic State. The President then appeared on television saying that it was now clear a gentle response had not been effective, since Muslims around the world had openly cheered the hellish act. Retaliation was underway. Two days later the Islamic State ceased to exist.

The world is now experiencing the fallout from all this, and while it has not been as bad as expected, a long period of suffering will be experienced. The world population has been reduced to about two billion and many are expected to die over the following years. The world is unified in shock and everyone is working together towards a new start.



******


Pandora's Box

And, Zeus was proud when he viewed all creation
The strong and the meek, the rivers and trees,
And the woman of clay, her exuberant elation,
As she wandered his world, adorned with leaves

Pandora! Those eyes, like cerulean orbs,
Hair thick as honey which gleamed in the sun
A body so lithe, with decorative daubs
Of olive, peaches, rich cream and plum.

Prometheus shrank from the heavenly prize,
And warned his brother not to take to the girl
But Epimetheus scoffed, dazzled by her eyes
And when he asked for her hand, his world did unfurl

Their marriage was lavish, a courtly affair
With guests from afar, at Epemetheus' behest
They sighed in adoration at the bride's flowing hair,
The tint of her cheeks, and ornate wedding dress

They plied the couple with copious gifts
To establish their lives on a perfect beginning
But the most intriguing of all made Pandora's heart lift
An ornate lacquered box, and a warning 'gainst sinning

She carried it close, held the box night and day
And pondered the wisdom of turning the key
Until her mind strayed, and her fears slipped away
Her patience ran out, and in secrecy she-

Opened the box, seeking jewels, art or gowns,
And stepped back in disgust, discovered her fate
The plagues of hell, fury, pestilence, frowns
Rushed in to the world, and she knew it too late

The evils within were let loose, and they stung
Like a river of misery, powerful and free
Sadness, murder, with poisonous tongue
They promised one more gift for Pandora to see

She opened the box yet again, because what
Could be more horrific than what she had seen?
And, with a flutter of wings, with light white hot
Hope flew from its confines, with a silvery sheen

Praise Zeus for compassion, despite all his tricks
For the final, beautiful shimmer of light
To combat the darkness and offer a fix
Against pestilence, poverty, illness and blight.

Pandora, curious woman of clay
Your questioning mind unleashed hell to the world
And your actions bring misery, even today
You beautiful, shallow, remarkable girl.

But just as a woman withstands many ills
And still rises again, and again from the mire
So Hope kindles light, in the darkness it kills,
And brings strength to the weary, and heat to the fire.



******



And the Consequence will be

But the old Gods are dead
And a new fiction not yet agreed,
For the taste of summer cherries,
The smell of grass after rain,
The feel of a lover's touch.

I pick up this gauntlet
With a warning.
I am half-beast, half-angel;
My mind divided
By incompatible philosophies;
An unreliable witness.

Receive the gift of education, of unbiased reasoning
And the consequence will be tolerance of others.

Endure the burdens life imposes
And the consequence will be acceptance of love when offered.

Conquer your fear of the shark
And the consequence will be that you grasp the pearl.

Learn to remember the best of the past with joy
And the consequence will be coming to terms with loss.

Take pride in your hopes, more than your accomplishments
And the consequence will be making the best of what you are.

Understand that your finest faculty is your imagination
And the consequence will be the creation of your response to the world.

You live in an era of consequences
And the time for pro-crastination, obfuscation and delay is over.

Open your door to let the Old Year out
And the consequence will be the New Year coming in.



******



The old man sat by the glittering Christmas tree, snoring gently in his comfy armchair. His white hair sprouted outwards in untidy tufts, clean but unbrushed. His puffy face and corpulent stature spoke to seasonal over-indulgence, and the way the chair seemed to form around him suggested that he hadn't moved in some time. He wore soft pyjamas and an old but clearly very comfortable robe. His feet were encased in fluffy slippers, and his chin rested on his chest in slumber. In short, he was the very picture of ease.

The family of the house went about their business, paying the old man no mind. Mother bustled in the kitchen, parcelling up the leftovers to freeze for another day. Father watched the sport on TV, cheering on his favourite team. The two children poked and teased one another, bored now the first rush of enthusiasm for their Christmas presents was past. Life was back to normal after the festive excess of the last few days. Soon, another year would begin, and it would be back to the real life of work and school.

Some hours later, when the children were snug in bed, Mother and Father drank a glass of champagne at the appointed time, while the old man slept on in the corner. Finally, Mother gestured at him with a significant glance.

"Don't you think it's time to make the exchange?" she said.

Father sighed. "I suppose so."

He levered himself up out of his chair and approached the old man, somewhat reluctantly.

"Come on, you old duffer," he said, loudly. "Time to go!"

The old man gave a snort and a snuffle as he woke. He looked up at Father, bleary-eyed.

"What's that? Go?" His voice was plaintive. "But I like it here. It's warm and comfortable, and I can do just as I like."

"Your time's over now," Father said, sternly. "We need to make plans for the future."

He grabbed the old man's arm and hauled him up onto his feet. While Mother looked on, half regretful, half eager, Father marched the old man out of the room and up to the front door.

"Don't you like having me here?" the old man protested. "I don't make any demands on you. In fact, I encourage you to enjoy yourselves - eat, drink and be merry. That's my motto."

"True," Father admitted, "but we need to stop indulging ourselves now and start forming better habits again."

He steeled himself and opened the front door, letting in a blast of cold air. On the path outside stood a smiling young woman. She had perfect hair and perfect teeth, and the body displayed by her leggings and leotard was fit and trim.

She beamed at Father, bouncing enthusiastically up the steps to the threshold.

"About time you came to let me in," she said. She threw a disgusted glance at the old man, then turned her attention back to Father. "Ready to get started?"

Father pushed the old man unceremoniously out into the cold night. "Good riddance to you, 2015," he said, then gestured for the young woman to come in. "Welcome to the family, 2016. We've got big plans for you!"



******



I never knew kissing could make a guy so dizzy, so forgetful. I could not feel my feet. I almost never heard my mother calling my name. I had lost track of time. Jane and I would be late and we would get in trouble.

We had to stop kissing sometime. We probably set some kind of record. We both pulled away from each other. Jane looked just as startled, “we will have to do that again, sometime.” When she said it, it sounded like a promise.

“We will have to go,” I felt sad and I was not sure why when my heart was doing somersaults. You could have used my excitement to launch a rocket ship. “Or we will get in big trouble.”

Jane smiled like I never saw her smile before, “and it will be worth it. When can we meet tomorrow?” I liked how that sounded. I sounded like more kissing.”

“How about after school,” I suggested. It felt like a negotiation. It felt like I was ruining my chances.

“How about during classes,” she countered. She must have liked kissing just as much as me. “I can miss a couple of classes and still maintain perfect scores.”

I knew she was smart; however I struggled in every class including gym and study hall. “I am not so lucky.” As much as I liked kissing, I needed all the studying I could do.

“I could tell the principal that I am tutoring you.” Jane made it sound so rational and convincing. I was not so certain. There were doorknobs smarter than me.

I am not totally stupid. I said, “We probably would not get any studying done. All I want to do is kiss you some more.”

We lived near each other, so we naturally went on the same sidewalk, but all I wanted to do was kiss some more. I began to wonder if kissing was addictive.

When we arrived at her house, I waved goodbye like I always did in the past. However, my goodbye felt like an urge to stay together longer. She must have felt the same way. She suggested that we exchange telephone numbers. On the rest of the way home, I repeated her number a dozen more times. Then I dialed her number as soon as I reached home, breathless, hoping to hear her answer the telephone and listen to her voice. Her voice would sound like kisses.



******



An agonising wait while her phone rings: no more than a hundred yards from my house to hers, why doesn't she pick it up ... ?"
"Hello?"
At last! My throat constricts: the roof of my mouth is as dry as the Gobi desert, my tongue is super-glued ...
"I ... had to be sure I remembered the number ..." I manage to croak.
"You sound different."
"Others have said I sound different on the phone" I stammer. "Perhaps it's the distance ..."
"But we live on the same road, less than a hundred yards!"
"It's still a hundred more than I'd like it to be: too far away to kiss you, anyway."
My memory of our walk home from school is still fresh, vivid, alive and indelibly stamped on my lips. Her perfume, the toss of her hair...
"Mmmm, that's nice to hear! But if you'd like another kiss, you know what you have to do."
Speechless, I replace the phone in its cradle. I float out of the door, I waft along the street: breathless I approach Her Door, as I have done a thousand times in my dreams without having the courage to knock. This is different, I tell myself. She invited me - didn't she? Or was it a dare? Or worse, an insincere tease? On the step I hesitate, suddenly overcome by doubt.
Before I can decide whether to knock, ring, or flee the door opens and there She is: no longer in school uniform (I have also had enough clarity of thought to change clothing) and looking a hundred times more beautiful than I've ever seen Her.
"Come in: I have something for you."
My hand reaches automatically for hers, but she half-turns and offers her cheek. I am happy to kiss it instead, my lips caressing her satin-smooth skin.
"My parents will soon be home, Peter, but while we have this moment to ourselves I want to give you this."
The hand I had tried to touch as we stood at the door reappears from behind her back. She opens it, and from her fingers falls ...
A thimble?
"I don't underst...?"
"You silly boy!"
Her voice is not the fragrant songbird memory it has always been, even to the moment she greeted me at the door. It has become the harsh croak of a crow, full of malevolence and cruelty. Terrified I raise my eyes from my shrinking palm to see the Vision, my Dream, has become a hideous nightmare Hag, towering over me. I dare not look down at the thimble in my hand but I can feel it is becoming unbearably hot, searing my flesh. I am unable to open my fist: I can feel the thimble embedding itself. The pain is unbearable.
"You are mine. With this Kiss I claim you. From this day you will be my obedient serf and servant. You will wear this Thimble as you cut sew and repair my clothing until I tire of you and find another to take your place ..."



******



Kneading the Clay

It is one of those mornings when the human male body suffers a surge of hormones bringing an uncharacteristic vigour to parts usually forgotten. Blue sky pours through the window, soaking through the eyes, revitalising deep-brain circuits still humming with dreams as the phone rings.

It is my good woman talking of her wish to start pottery classes. She has a profound desire to get her hands onto some clay and start moulding. Unexpectedly, I think of Angelika, the Polish care assistant who supervises the Alzheimer patients at the day centre where I play piano to entertain.

“I need a good wooden surface, a couple of square feet at least...”

“What about your dining room table?”

“No, it's laminated. It needs to be real wood with living grain.”

“You mean, something organic? Something smooth but porous - like skin?” (Angelika has skin like freshly planed alder.)

“Yes – plastic is a dead surface.”

“Ah, but it was living once.” (As I was alive once, when singing the good old songs with Angelika glancing at me and smiling as she jollied the old folks along with a force of compassionate nature such as you often find at the eastern end of our continent.)

“Wood is more supple and responsive when kneading the clay.”

“Ah yes...kneading the clay...cradling the round, cool orb and then pressing it gently down onto the wood...” (Her breast is fresh clay awaiting the master potter's touch!)

“I think I'll work by the window with a view of the trees.”

“And the sky, the clear sky.” (As clear as her eyes, flooding the optic nerve with a blue that the calmest, deepest sea would not adequately reflect.)

“What would you make from your soft kneadings?”

“It's of no consequence what you make – the meaning is all in the activity, getting yourself re-connected with the earth.”

“Yes, we need that connection. We need it so badly...but there must never be...”

Consequences. Even when a surprisingly blue sky floods a tired male body at hormonal dawn, there must be no consequences.

Angelika's clear psyche overwhelming the senses – a moment of blue more intense than life itself?

Tantric sex transcendent?

But what of the rest of it? Unrelenting guilt and the rest of life rolling by like dark fields past the window of a train through the long night. When the coupling's over, how shall we ever deal with the consequences?

Will the judgement fall heavily upon us for having dared to eat a peach? Or will we be found guilty by Life for remaining innocent of it?

The old dog might have his day.

And then he'd have to pay.

Better stick to clay.



******



[Continuation on from, ‘An agonising wait while her phone rings…’]

Be Careful What You Wish For


All I’d wanted was to kiss her cherry red lips. I was only aged fifteen. How could I possibly have known that the legend of the Succubus was, well, real?

Dad had always warned me that the very pretty girls would steal my heart. I thought he was joking. He’d not mentioned that one might capture me with the promise of a kiss and then throw me into a jar, threatening to enslave me for all eternity.

It had all started when I’d stupidly called her on the phone and walked to her house, after having spent an hour getting changed out of my school uniform and trying to decide which of my band logo tee-shirts was the most appealing. But, clearly she had no appreciation for Motorhead, or anything being louder than anything else. Nor did she have any interest in my gelled hair which I’d fashionably sculpted into a shark fin.

Whilst I sit bored and lonely ruminating in this human-sized pickling jar, I feel as though I have been misguided. Part of me hopes that I can still play around with the shape of my quiff and that she’ll admit her mistake, let me out of this jar and finish the kiss.

I shouldn’t kiss her, I know that, but the spell is too strong. Or is it what my Mum called ‘teenage urges?’ I doubt it’s her issue, it must be mine. Mum must be right. Magic doesn’t really exist. Does it?

Why doesn’t she like me? Why doesn’t she like my music? Maybe I should have shaved the back of my neck? How had I caused her offence? Why does she punish me?

I am tapping my fingers on the glass and making a clinking sound, but there is no one else around to hear my protest. The jar I reside in lays on its side, covered.

I stop tapping. I’ve been here for days, I know that it’s futile. She won’t give me any attention.

***

Several more days have now passed. I vaguely remember my uncle Bill telling me once that if I ignored the girls then they would be more likely to pay me attention. Now take it from me, it’s incredibly hard to ignore someone whose attention you desperately seek. As I try to nap, I constantly have one lid raised a crack. I hope that she’ll think I’m dead and let me out. I’m not sure if there is a limit to my oxygen levels in this jar. Maybe I really will die? Will she let me out then?

I’ve stopped thinking about the kiss. I keep trying to think of how ugly her face became when she performed her ‘magic’ on me. Part of my brain fights me. My memory keeps trying to push out the image of her warts, voluptuous nasal hair and mismatched eyes. The other part of my mind tries to convince me that her haggish image was a trick of the light. Not everyone is perfect. I must have just missed her imperfections with my immature lust.

Dad had always said to work with what you have. I could work with a few warts I tell myself, but I’m not so sure about her attitude.

I feel like I am going nowhere as I press my cheek against the side of the glass.

Without warning I feel that my prison is being pulled backwards. Before I know it I have been tipped upright. I have to open my eyes whilst I stumble with the readjustment.

There she is, her cherry red lips pouting through the glass at me. But wait, what has happened? It seems that I am no taller than her face. The only way to kiss her now would be to nibble on a section of her.

I take a good long look but I can’t see the warts and her facial hair seems to be under control. As long as I study her, she studies me - turning my jar in the air. I try to hold my stomach in and mentally will her to release me.

She smiles and drags her tongue across her teeth in a way that is a little unsettling. God she’s not going to eat me, is she?

Her fingers reach to the jar’s clasp. I hear a clink as the airlock is broken.

“Well, well, well,” she states, peering in at me.

“Destiny! What are you doing?” My voice sounds small and squeaky. I kick myself, thinking I’d got past that stage. How embarrassing.

She reaches in and places a hand around my body and lifts me out. This is the first time a member of the opposite sex has ever touched me. My heart flutters and I am too scared to wriggle about beneath her grip.

“You are mine now, Theo. You don’t seem particularly loud. But, I’m sure you understand that I had to take some precautions,” she said, shaking the empty glass.

I feel a little confused. Hers? Was this her way of saying she wanted a relationship with me? Whilst her actions seem a little obscure, my ego flutters with the knowledge that she’s registered enough interest in me to read my tee-shirt.

“I need your help Theo,” she says.

“How can I help you?” The offer of help has left my mouth before I can stop myself. Why should I help her? I’m a teeny bit mad if I’m honest with myself.

“My trousers need fixing,” she says, pointing at a pair of black skinny jeans laying on the floor.

Before I’ve time to negotiate, I’m being placed into a large cage along with the jeans and set onto Destiny’s night stand.

“If you don’t give me any trouble, then we’ll have a talk about your ‘situation’,” she says, twirling her finger at me.

She leaves almost instantly, and once again, I am left alone.

I suppose she did mention something about fixing some clothes the night I came round to visit. It had been shrieked with other words like ‘slave’, so I just assumed it was all part of her letting off steam. I mean, people say things that they don’t mean when they’re mad, don’t they?

I thought I didn’t know how to sew clothes, but my fingers immediately set to the task with ease.

I've probably got a while to consider the consequences of lust, but still, I feel relieved that we are talking again.

I’m sure she didn’t mean that about me being a slave.

Maybe we can work this out?



******



Delivery
[continuation of last week’s work “The
Unparsimonious Parcel Finds Its/His
Way]


To trace the parcel of which I wrote

a week ago I promised you I’d let

you know the where and when

of me, the parcel floating off southward

bound, accompanied by my appointed one.

Others preferred to say farewell, preoccupied

by mercantile’s--not mercy’s--call. Off I

sailed; the barge required more than a week

to find its pokish way to bid England goodbye

and moan its sultry pace toward Romish death.

My sapping frayed, even dismayed, my nurse,

who sought solace midnight on deck. Parcel arrived!

No return receipt. Act kindly every day: eschew year-end

decrees; resolve not to resolve again. Adieu.



******



Withdrawal

She called every day to cheer me up.
Said I'd become dust
if I didn't step out of the house,
didn't meet people.
I'd become a yak-tail fly whisk -
different, but useful only to drive away flies.
As boring as a whale bone.
As dull as a lesson in syntax.
She went on in quaint humor.

She said she'd make me a palanquin
if that was what it took for me
to go out and mingle,
to leave the cage, the social apoplexy.

A woman needs wiles, her voice carried on,
Needs to be pagan - like a flagon of rum.
Needs to be gracefully rapacious like the rainbow
that wants both ends of the skies.

After I'd put down the receiver,
I concurred silently,
I gazed at the sagebrush plains outside my window.
Realized, that life didn't, couldn't grow back without roots.
Good air and sunshine were just not enough
to go out there and socialize.
I was the consequence of rejections.
My roofs were adrift, the sap in my veins all gone.



******



[a continuation of Withdrawal - My roofs were adrift, the sap in my veins all gone]

She stepped out of the house. Put one foot in front of the other. And started to run.
She felt silly at first. Self-conscious. She could feel every awkward movement of her legs, her hips, her shoulders.
What should she do with her arms? She'd never had to think about that before. Everything else she did in life her arms seemed to follow, seemed to find their own role, their own home. But not with this strange thing. Not with running.
They hung down at first, flapped a bit like a penguin feigning flight, and bashed into her side as they inevitably crashed down again.
All very unfeminine she thought.
But her feet kept going. And within a few minutes, within a few yards, her body found some sort of rhythm. Not exactly Jessica Ennis-Hill. But at least a little less Pinga the penguin!
Her breathing was heavy. She made a mental note to herself. Bring the iPod the next day. At least some music, or story tape, would take her mind off the wheezing.
She was just about to stop. Just about to give in to the stitch and the short breaths, when she saw the milkman rounding the corner.
Her pace picked up. She tried deeper breaths. She forgot the pain in her side for a moment.
"Keep going, you are doing great," said the milkman, getting out of his van to make his latest delivery.
That's when she first discovered the "encouragement effect". Her legs pumped faster, her breaths became deeper, she even started to smile.
She slowed as she climbed the first incline. But she kept on going. She never thought she would.
And as she got to the top of the hill, came the reward which brought an even bigger smile sweeping across her face.
Her first downhill. The Ski Sunday theme tune suddenly came into her brain. Cue almost a laugh. Maybe she'd take a rain check on the iPod, this uncovering long-forgotten things from your brain was fun. Like some random shuffle button attached to your memory.
She let her legs go. Long strides. And took the opportunity to take deep breaths. And really let her arms pump. Swinging them now like some marching soldier on parade, only at a run, rather than a quick-march. She stopped that. She thought she was in danger of getting all penguin-like again. Getting carried away.
Before she knew it, she was at the mile-and-a-half stage. Past the newsagent, the post office, the garage and the primary school, and having enjoyed the downhill dip to the halfway mark.
What happened next was a further lesson in psychology. She never thought she'd learn so much on a short run!
No sooner had she turned at half way, back into the wind as it turned out, than she could hear the words in her head.
"You've got this. You've run 1.5miles already. So you know you can run 1.5miles back."
She wasn't quite sure the logic worked. But it felt so good, who was she to question it?
And despite battling against the breeze, her legs stretched further, her strides lengthened, she straightened her body, and actually found herself thinking the unthinkable. It was the 'e' word. And it was that brain again. This time telling her: "I'm enjoying this."
She quickly dismissed it. Somehow it felt like she was cheating on herself. She'd told herself all her life, and anyone who would listen, that she hated running. Surely she hadn't lived a lie all these years.
She put it to the back of her mind, and concentrated on the road ahead, the task in hand, to finish the run
A short, steep, hill stopped her thinking for a few moments. She needed all her energy for the climb.
God, she hoped she didn't see the neighbours now, all puffing and panting, wheezing and groaning. Red faced, bent body, legs and hips zig-zagging from side to side just to ensure she made it to the top.
Her brain kicked in just when she needed it most, urging her to "keep going" she was "nearly there".
And when she got to the crest of the hill, and felt her limbs going downhill again, she felt like she was entering the Olympic stadium on the final circuit of the stadium to achieve her own personal gold.
"Yes," she shouted out loud. Then quickly looked all around to check no-one heard. They hadn't.
Nothing stood in the way of her success now. She rounded the final bend, into her drive, and touched the front door in celebration.
The shower. The tingling. The sense of achievement was just the icing on the cake.
The consequence was...by the next morning, she wanted to do it all over again. And again
Soon, she was talking to the milkman, to the paper delivery girl, to the dog walkers and other joggers.
She felt she was achieving at something.
Felt she was successful at something in her life.
Felt she had something of which to be proud.
Who cares if it was only a daily three-mile run.
To her it meant everything.
It meant she'd turned her back on years of fear and isolation.
It meant, finally, she was ready to face the world again...


******


Continuation of “It meant, finally, she was able to face the world again...”

Elise got up on what she knew to be day one of the rest of her life and looked at her morning face in the bathroom mirror. She gazed into her eyes, her sea-grey eyes, and saw a steeliness there. It was something which, through the years of fear and isolation, she had stopped seeing. She lifted her hands to her face, smoothed back her hair and kissed the mirror.

“What the hell?”

Behind her Harris was grimacing, scratching his belly through his pyjama jacket. Elise was no longer afraid of him. She brushed past.

"I'm going out for my run," she said. There was no conversation to be had with him. Not yet, at any rate.

Elise pulled on her running gear and started towards the front door.

"Woman, when are you...?" but the end of the man's sentence was lost in the slam of the door.

She was tired of being called 'woman'. He might as well have said 'animal' or 'slave'. Not that anyone knew. In society Harris was everything people expected of him - polite, courteous, apparently a gentleman. As Elise settled into her run she could think about it all clearly. Her breath steady, she was in control. She was doing something for herself, something he could not take from her.

She had known before they married. An instinct told her that the chivalry was on the surface only, but she had wanted to believe in it, so much wanted that. And she had convinced herself. Nearly. For on their wedding day there had been a moment, a moment when the bright light of the day was dulled, tainted, as she saw the way he looked up at Charmaine, her sister. And in that instant she knew the truth, but it was too late, their vows already made.

Elise had pushed that knowledge from her conscious mind. For if she had allowed herself to be aware of what was going on, before, after and, most hideously, on her wedding day, how could she have survived? So she pushed the knowledge deep inside her and turned a key to lock it there. But of course it ate at her. When Harris was late home from work she believed his lies about demanding clients who her had to wine and dine. She absolutely believed them. But with each one, each lie upon a lie, her spirit closed in on itself a little more. She continued to make a home for a man who, in truth, used her merely for that purpose. To make him meals and keep him in clean under and outer wear. Things he would never expect of a mistress. Of Charmaine. Who, of course, was just as much used, if she, poor fool, had only been able to see it.

Elise did the things that were required of her as a wife. She saw Charmaine rarely, and only at family gatherings. They had once been close, and their mother Bernice was bemused as to what had changed. Neither one of them could, of course, speak to their mother about it. They both suspected, although they had no proof, that their father Eli had been unfaithful to her, but since his untimely death he, "the poor, poor man," as Bernice referred to him with a little shake of her stiffly-permed coiffure, had entered sainthood within the family and no ill could be spoken of him.

Friends saw what was happening. Elise's friends. Charmaine's friends. Some of them tried to speak to one or other of them. Charmaine merely laughed, in the breathy way which Harris apparently found appealing, especially between the sheets, but which all her girlfriends knew to be a studied affectation. Charmaine thought her friends were jealous of her having a man who pampered her. They could not get her to see the truth about Harris. Charmaine, just as much as her sister, had bought into a fantasy.

If Charmaine's fantasy was about satin sheets and champagne, Elise's was about security, the security she had craved since she was three years old and her father had left her by the river. No-one else believed this story, and now Eli had to be treated as a saint Elise no longer mentioned it, but it had happened, she knew that it had really happened. He had left her there, knowing that eventually, tired and weak, she would fall into the water and drown. It had been a miracle that a fisherman had come by and found her, shivering and crying, and returned her home to a distraught Bernice. Who had forgotten all about it, this unbearable event.

"How could such a thing have happened to you and me not remember?" he mother had lamented, in earlier times.

But it had happened, as it had happened that Harris had gone into a bedroom with Charmaine on the day we was marrying her sister. Elise had seen them, but she would not admit to herself that it was what it was. Her father had abandoned her; another husband would not be allowed to do so. She believed, she truly believed, Harris' story that he and Charmaine were discussing arrangements for the honeymoon.

"But it was our honeymoon, you and me, not you and her," she would have said to Harris, had she been able to speak of it. But she was not able. She smiled at him. He said nothing. And so it continued. Until she found that she could run. She had wanted to run away from Harris for four years, for all of their married life. She had not known a way to do it. And now she found that it was very simple. One foot in front of the other. Now she ran for three miles each day and things were changing. She had found her steeliness and, with the kiss to the mirror that morning, knew too that she could love herself. She no longer needed his supposed love, the love which was bound up with betrayal.

In consequence, she was free. And as she ran, day by day, she planned her next steps.


******


At What Price?

' They've raised the odds because she's been skipping breakfast.' said Nate.
'Really?'' replied Jack helping himself to a Twiglet from the box.
'Yep, that’s what they say. Gets the bookies apprehensive, apparently,' she said putting a hand on his, squeezing it.
'Come on, Jack' she continued. 'What do you say eh'. She smiled in the way that enticed Jack, a tempting persuasive way. And she knew it did. And she knew that he knew it did. Nate stood up, the kitchen chair moving back from her body, its legs scraping against the wooden flooring. She walked over to him, surveying him, arms crossed, her smile persisting.
'And you realize the consequences if we lose don’t you' he asked.
She stroked his hair, bent and kissed him on his stubbly cheek.
'Of course I do, love' she said quietly, almost whispering. The cars outside, motoring up and down didn't smother her voice. Neither did the small transistor, playing reggae, suffocate her gentle voice.
'And this business about not eating its breakfast' said Jack changing the course of the subject.
'All I know, love is what my horsey friends natter on about' she said, continuing to stroke his head.
'It didn’t stop him winning before, and he's never lost a race, the beautiful, wonderful thing. When he was young, he'd sometimes go without breakfast, but this never stopped him performing. The bookies know little about this because he was an unknown then.'
'I don’t know love, its a big wager' said Jack 'And the consequences of losing'
Nate put a hand to his mouth.
'OK so if we lose, it's a smaller holiday this year. We don’t spend as much next Christmas. Less parties. Is that such a big deal, love?'
Jack went to the cupboard and opened it. He pulled out a bottle of his favourite single malt whiskey- a present each birthday from his niece, Jennifer, and poured two bonus measures in to two crystal goblets.
'This requires a drink' he said sitting down again and handing her one.
'We;re trying to buy a house, and £5000 is a good chunk of a deposit.'
'But is it love' she asked, and sipped her drink.
'My goodness this is lovely' she continued. 'Cant remember if I've had this whisky before.'
'Just once when you had flu last winter.' I gave you a shot' Jack replied.
'Oh.'Well, its yummy' she said smacking her lips, then running her tongue along them, showing her satisfaction. She smiled her seductive way, and jigged her upper body slightly, to the sound of Bob Marley coming from the radio.
'We'll survive. We'll have to make cuts. Thats all', she continued.
' I know' said Jack. 'Yes we both work, we're both young and, your right. We can replace this loss with a few economical strategies. Easy.
'So whats the problem?' she asked
'Its just, oh, I don't know, love, he said and polished off his drink. 'Just the risk element, I suppose.'
'Honey' she said. 'Everything is a risk, but just imagine the consequences of winning.'
Nate emptied her glass and fetched the bottle. The cat jumped on the table. Nate picked it up after serving their drinks.
' I like you Churchill' she said to the cat. 'You're the best cat this side of London, but we want our own tom one day, and youre Mr Castles moggy.' The landlords grey, overweight feline, licked Nates face as if agreeing.

Jack pondered, sipping his drink, swirling the glass, admiring the amber liquid and the way the colour amplified through the fluorescent kitchen lighting. She looked at his wife of two years, the woman he'd loved for much longer than that. The woman who was sweeping her black hair over her shoulders, the way she always had.
'You hungry babe' he asked.
'Depends what for, babe' she replied. Jack smiled, grabbing her hand.
'Lets go get some food at Dunnies, talk this through, okay.'
'And then some hanky pankey when we get back' she said laughing. Then kissed him.
'And when we've placed the bet' she concluded.
'No No.' he said. 'You ain’t that easy, bitch' and he slapped her hard, on the bum. She screamed in delight, and Churchill ran from the kitchen.

'Whats, the nags name' Jack asked.
They were seated at Dunnies, the Italian just a half mile up the road from there place.
Milos, the Ukrainian waiter, served their grilled calamaris and asparagus- a favourite of Nates
The place bustled for a Saturday afternoon, and Milos had no time to stand around and talk with his friends. A fine sheen of perspiration coated his face, and after serving them, he moved his stout body at an alarming pace, surprising the pair of them into exchanging looks of bewilderment.
' Dellroy’s Assassin' replied Jools, after they'd settled in to their appetizers. She nibbled on the asparagus, as Mick forked large mouthful of squid away. He was starving.
''Now that's some name.' he replied.
' Lets hope the beautiful stallion brings us luck,' she said, laughing.
'Steady on lady. I've said nothing yet.'
Jack knew his wife wanted this; With the distress her father had put her through, she deserved some happiness. God, he knew they could both do with the luck. He just hoped that Dellroy’s Assassin would come in for them. He finished his appetizer, Nate leaving most of hers.
'Not hungry, love.' he asked. You've hardly touched it'
'Just thinking Dellroy’s Assassin, love.'
' Me too,' he replied.
'Do you realize' she said. We'll be able to have mad sex all over the house, without Mr Castle walking in through the front door. We can frolic in the kitchen, frolic in the bathroom. Fuck each others brains out in the living room. Just imagine love. We can have a big labrador, a couple of cats. Even a fucking tortoise... We can start a family, Jack.'
Milos cleared their plates, sweat persistent on his brow. He acknowledged them, and excused himself for the hurry in his eastern european knack, quick but efficient.
'I'm sold' said Jack. 'But if we lose, I'm divorcing you.'
Even under the subdued lighting of Dunnies, Jack noticed how striking the green of Nates eye were; the illuminous qualities to them, the colour bolder and brighter like the shallow, tropical waters of the Caribbean. When she looked at him, they pierced him, like small harmless daggers, penetrating with a pleasant persistence.
' No you're not' she said smiling and raising her glass of Chablis ' Cheers'
'No I'm not. Your right. I'm stuck with you love. I'm stuck with you forever.'
'And I'm stuck with you, babe', she replied. 'I'm stuck with you forever too. I'm part of you, as much as you are me. We cant survive without each other.'
Nate sipped her wine, then sobbed .She brought the napkin to her eyes.
'Is everything alright' he asked.
'Nothing could be better, Jack. Nothing. I'm sobbing because I'm so lucky to have you in my life. You are my treasure, and I never want to lose you.'
' Chill, Natalie' he replied, chinking his glass with hers. 'That isn't going to happen.'
A few moments later, Milos brought over their tagliatelle, again with asparagus tips, also bacon,and mushrooms. He ground black pepper from a huge mill over their dish. He also grated generous quantities of parmesan. The way the couple liked it.
' I hit a customer over the head once with this ' said Milos, holding the pepper mill. He laughed.
' Well I wont complain about the food' said Nate, smiling again. 'Did you seriously' she concluded.
'I did. He was very drunk and insulted my wife who used to work with me back then.'
'Good for you, Milos. You didn't kill him I hope.'
'Just concussion and a spell in the hospital. Enjoy your dinner.' Then he was gone.
They ate away, mostly silence, Nate playing with her food more than ingesting any. But, her appetite was still frail, unlike Jacks who again forked giant swirls of pasta dripping with oil into his mouth.
'Whens the race, babe' he asked, resting his food and engaging the wine.
'It's at three, tomorrow, Haydock', she answered.
'So soon. Wow,' he answered.
'We don’t' have to do this love' she said. 'If you said no, then I'd honour that, you know that.'
Milos cleared their plates, several moments later. Nate swayed her body to Tracey Chapman’s, Gimme One Reason, that played softly through the restaurants audio. Jack thought she still moved seductively.
'I want to do this, as much as you, Nate. Any reservations I had were doused back there at home.' he said. 'I'll be working as you know, so I'll leave it to you to tell me the result.
' I'll have some lunch waiting for you when you get home', she replied, squeezing his forearm.
'You'd better place the bet by the way.'
Milos brought over a small plate of Tiremesu, another favourite, always served to them without question. He thanked them, presenting the bill too.
'I've already done it' she said, trying not to smile without much success.
'I am going to divorce you, you know' said Jack. 'I am.' He smirked
Then she really did laugh, so loud that it turned the heads of several patrons, one or two smiling along. It stopped Milos in his tracks, too.
Later they slept. Eventually.

Jack returned from his office the following day, greeted by Churchill, and the aroma of fish stew simmering in the oven. Work had been unproductive, however he didn't want to arrive home till the race was over. Jack was alarmed at how anxious he'd become. There was no sign of Nate.
'Nate' he shouted from the bottom of the stairs, Churchill at his heels. He looked in the living room, then the conservatory. Then he thought he heard a thump upstairs, and knew it'd be her. He also knew she'd probably have showered or was reading- something she often did on Sundays while he was at work. He waited. Patiently.

She appeared minutes later wearing, her Sunday casuals- blue silk gown, red slippers. The expression on her face suggested nothing, thought Jack.
'Well' he asked.
'Well what?' she casually asked, walking towards the fridge
What do you mean well what, love. The race of course'
'It was close, a photo finish' she said. Jack thought he saw a smile develop, but couldn't be certain.
'This is killing me, come on.' he shouted.
We did it babe.' she said finally, removing the bottle of Dom Perignon. We really did it.'
'Holy shit, said Jack jumping up. 'Holy fucking shit.'
They threw their arms round each other, swirling across the kitchen, the cat leaping from table to chair. to exit. Eventually they sat, and she placed the bottle on the table.
'Holy shit is right, but holy you is better. Wonderful you made this happen love. You did. I could have always cancelled the bet, you know that.'
'I know that' he said.
She placed a hand over his mouth.
'There's something else too' she whispered. Rain pelted against the window in the dreary January way, but the whisper, somehow, smothered it.
'Whats that then,' he asked, grabbing the bottle.
' Our hero, Dellroy’s Assassin was put down after the race, which is awful. But, I think of it as being the end of his rein His journey was complete, and his journey had been sensational- just as ours is going to be, babe.'
Jack smiled, hands resting on his chin, still absorbing the good news.
'Theres another thing too' she said. The bottle popped and Jack put it to her mouth. She swallowed the fizz most of it overflowing down her chin.
'Whats that' he asked laughing at her struggle for words, himself now up, dancing wildly.
'I'm pregnant.' she said ' A life for a life, and fifty six grand. They're the consequences, babe.'
Jack stopped in mid flight.


******


The consequence was always unfolding. Things never happened as they should. As he watched the gull glide across the clear blue sky, he had a sense of freedom; of life without constraint.

The assistant's voice still rang in his ears:

"You can practice with me", she had said.

That she had come from Granada was a miracle too far, the first being her stoop to pick the coin he had dropped from the shop floor, the second that he had actually engaged her in Spanish conversation on that rainy day, and the third that she had responded with unexpected Andalucian charm. Would a fifth be in order? Would she call him, or text him as promised?

Life was not a movie, or indeed a short story written by Henry James or EM Forster; the more he searched his inbox for an unknown number, the more absent it was of the promised text. True, in the Edwardian or Victorian worlds, any missive would have been in paper form, pushed through a solid door letterbox, or left at a hotel reception, but the process was the same then as now. Links were either made or not made. Consequences were the outcomes of actions. He had acted. Now all he could do was wait.

Days passed uneventfully; the rains eventually cleared as the storm murdered its way westwards. Her smile and her words remained seared on his memory. Yet the more he tried to make the memory materialise into a new event, the further from likelihood such an event appeared.

He lay still on the beach, listening to the waves and the wind. he could hear voices of young,happy people close to him, a group of European students, he imagined. This area had become a magnet for English language students, bringing with them their usual air of resentment and suppressed rebellion - he had taught many such students thirty years ago, and whilst harboring fond memories for their Latin smiles and one unexpected affair with a mature French accountant, whose Provencal elegance charmed him from the first "Bonjour", he recalled mostly frustrating hours with dull text books, and Parisian teenagers longing for decent food and shops. That part of his life remained seriously past and imperfect.

Within his space of stillness on the beach, he kept listening to the young voices. The common currency of tutored but flawed English was passed around. His eyes remained closed. As he lay there, thinking in part of the past, in part of the present, he could almost remember the smell of Corrine's perfume; her smart coolness, and indeed the way that he had eventually spurned her advances towards lasting significance for eachother. How the young pilfered opportunity, he mused - she had had been smart, wealthy, and generous. Those virtues were in short supply, he realised, as opportunities dwindled in his middle years.

Here, now, he was significantly alone. A solitude like his could become its own fragrance. Others, women particularly, could smell it, the scent of desperation. Too much adrenaline when a new chance appeared; like the moment in the chemist's shop perhaps. A place he had not dared to revisit since their encounter, for fear she might mistake it for stalking.

Their voices emerged from the sound of waves crashing on the shingle, and the rinsing sound of the back - flow.

" He was rather old"
"How old? Very old?
"Oh yes. Fifty. At least. No hair on the head, how does one say in English?"
"Bold"
"Yes..bold. No, not bold..that is something different I am sure"
"Ah..yes..Bald. Bold is for having courage."

They always struggled with those short, Anglo-Saxon words, the French, the Spanish and Italians. He remembered that. Their words occasionally audible across the shingle, gave him a stir. But still he kept his eyes closed. With eyes closed, sounds penetrated further, as though the cognitive power of the unused sense was being absorbed by the remaining one, doubling its capacity.

"He said he was learning Spanish. So perhaps I will text him?"
"An old bald man? No is stupid idea. If he was younger, yes. But he is old already to be your father. He wants more than speaking Spanish, Matilda."
"You think? "
"I know yes. Men always meet for that."
"Yes is true."

He was sitting up now. It was the assistant from the chemist's shop, though now without the designer spectacles, and her hair was down . She was with a French girl that he vaguely recognised from one of the seaside cafes down the prom. They were talking about their meeting in the chemist's. He had been worried that the meeting would have no consequences, but he needn't have. She remembered it as much as he. The consequence was this conversation; a confidence between two young women about an approach to one of them by an inappropriately older man.

"What if he had been George Clooney? He is also so old."
"Yes, but not bold, bald...bald but not bold...I am bold with George Clooney"
"Moi aussi! Such a pity he is married."

And how they laughed. In another world, in another man's shoes, he walked back now across a sandier beach tha this one, at a steadier, slower pace, his heels and soles warmed by the scorched crystals. She put her hand in his as they returned into the shade of the streets where a cool hotel room awaited them, his Panama hat cocked to one side, her lovely hair caressing his shoulder as they moved on.

The fierce wind picked up again. Another storm was on its way.


******


Consequences (A normal day..)
The fierce wind picked up again. Another storm was on its way.
It was years ago when he had been this far from his house on a trip in to the past.

These days it was difficult to walk and he had to force himself step by step from the bed to the dining table where the house service had placed his breakfast of boiled eggs and black coffee. He took a bit of time to settle in the chair and thanked God that Parkinson’s had not crept in to the long list of ailments that troubled his frail body. He glanced out of the window at the bleak sky , let the storm rage outside he had nowhere to go today or for that matter next few days. Was it Mary Ann? or Mariam? who used to say storms uplift moods once they pass by. He looked at the eggs he must eat them even though he was never hungry these days and the drink the coffee to wash down the pills from the dosing box. He remembered the last time he was in the hospital he had eaten the toast and he had choked the nurse had come and scolded him never to eat without drinking something. She had sat for some time, God bless her kind, she was in her 60s, from Turkey or was it Budapest?

The wind had started howling but his mind drifted to the autobahn in West Germany where he had been frightened with cars zipping at 250 kmph, the noise all round one heard on cracking the window open even a wee bit. Klara had to shout at him to shut the window as she couldn’t hear the traffic radio. Klara had settled in Okinawa, she must be close to 90! She was his only sister and the only one who cared or remembered him these days. He could hardly understand what she said or mumbled but she called him once in a while to talk about their father and his small house on the outskirts of Copenhagen.
He was used to the waves splashing his feet as he walked the rocky beaches with memories like pebbles popping up now and then as the waves played with them. Rockland was a close confidante with whom he had shared all his business secrets and God bless him, he had never let him down until his dying day. After the demise of Rockland, he had wound up his business and retired for good. He remembered how Brian tried to convince him to continue the Sticker business himself rather than selling it to him; he had even refused to renovate the shop for a few months. Brian was his younger stepbrother but more than a real one and looked after him in his old age.

They should shut the damn TV! Spewing out nothing but nonsense! Some Caliphate carrying out executions , countries bombing each other, why can’t they have Liz Taylor reading the news? And this cacophony they call music…Summerwine.. so soothing…

Grace shook the old man and reminded him to finish his eggs as she had already finished. Grace was a fine woman now, he had seen her years ago as a toddler, it was another storm another day and had left him drenched in sweet memories. He had found Grace crouching under a bench as the storm winds had raged the coast, she was frightened to the core but would not come to him since her mother had warned her not to talk to strangers, he had sat down on the bench to wait till her mother came back. He was in Skagen, Denmark that summer, he kept sitting on the bench but gave Grace his jacket and raincoat. A short hailstorm later he saw a frightened woman shouting for Grace, he hailed her and showed where Grace was hiding and both burst out laughing, he in his late 60’s and she in her early forties. The generation gap was carried away by the pouring rain as they rushed to the nearby café to warm themselves. He had to be hospitalized by evening that day as he had caught severe cold. Both Grace and Krista, the mother of Grace, visited him daily for a week till he was fit enough to move back to the hotel. The friendship grew under the stormy weather and flourished in to a lifelong bond, enduring distances, and turbulences in their lives. Krista lived in Munich and he in Innsbruck.
Last year Krista had succumbed to a massive heart attack and therefore he thought of visiting Skagen with Grace to immortalize their association.
He was thankful to memories, distorted, incomplete, erroneous, or otherwise, it was all an old foggy like him had to pass the time from one doze to the other.
He told Grace that he will go for the New year Eve dance that night, provided she could find a comfortable corner for him to sit as she danced her way to the dawn of 2016., and he would drown in the storm of memories as they would come pouring down.


******

‘Happy New Year,’ Grace murmured under her breath, the wind whipping the bitterness from her lips and spreading it out amongst the trees.
Reunited in death, her mother lay just three rows from Uncle Bernard now. She taken by the sudden and catastrophic failing of her heart, he more gently by old age. Grace felt exposed by the loss of him.
Uncle Bernard, her protector. He could be nothing but a hero to a little girl who, cowering from a storm, had been discovered by his kindly eyes. Even now his name recalled the scent of mint and tobacco as he had handed her his jacket and raincoat. In the darkness of that moment she had been wrapped in the warmth and flavour of him.
Bernard had not intruded, had not scolded, he had not tried to force or coerce the child she had been to leave her safe haven. He had remained, selflessly giving her the protection that he needed from the lashing weather, accepting his role as sentinel.
From beneath the bench she had watched the interaction of mother and watchman, seen the primal force of maternal fear diminish to sparkling laughter with just a word and a gesture from this man. Bernard had been unaware of his power over them, of how he had utterly changed their lives.
The storm that had thrown them together was not the source of Grace’s fear. It was only that the noise, the bluster, the sudden violence of it reminded her of something else. From the first distant rumble of the key in the door, the rolling promise of anger in his voice, to the tumult of limbs, the crack of pain and the piteous shrieking. Grace had learned to run for shelter at the first sign.
Bernard was the warm front that moved into their lives and calmed the storm. From that first moment, when he had seen Grace and decided she was worth protecting, when he had prioritised her over himself, he made a silent statement; Grace and her mother had value.
When a young Grace had learned the role that St Bernards carry out for mountain rescue she had giggled, calling the man a saint until he had begged her to stop. It had seemed so apt though; he had arrived to find them frozen and exposed, and the friendship he delivered thawed them from the centre as sure as any nip of brandy.
Her mother had explained to her that we are all formed by the generations that precede us. Her father’s upbringing had been uncertain, harsh, and it had made him violent. Bernard regaled them with stories of his mother, the woman who had been a living example of kindness, generosity, and compassion.
Just as he had stayed with her on that stormy day, so he stayed with them through the years. A reassuring presence, asking no questions, expecting nothing, giving much.
There had been no children for Bernard, no wife to bear them. Grace had privately speculated as to why, but the answers now lay in the dirt of Munich. She hoped that his life had been happy, in spite of the absence of these things that so many valued.
Grace stood at the foot of his grave enriched by his estate and by that most valuable of lessons; knowing she was worthy of love and protection. She would not repeat her mother’s mistakes. None of Bernard’s blood flowed in her veins but he had formed her more surely than DNA.
‘Happy New Year,’ Grace murmured under her breath. She had promised Bernard she would find him a corner to sit in while she danced the night away but she co

18:09, 28 Dec 2015
Hour of Writes
This week's competition is a game of 'Consequences'. You need to read the most recent entry on Ephemera, and write something which responds to or continues it in some way. Ultimately we should have an interesting and varied narrative with poems, dialogue, screen-play, prose and essays making up its whole...

02:16, 18 Dec 2015
Jacula
An explanation for those readers who weren't quite sure who or what I was referring to in the story for 'Date of Birth'...

CRIB SHEET FOR FLIRTING WITH DEATH STORY (a mangling of Greek mythology).

Main Character = Thanatos (‘death’), the guide for non-violent/peaceful deaths, ancient Greek precursor of The Grim Reaper.
Sidekick = Hypnos (‘sleep’), his twin brother.
Minor Characters = Apate (‘deception’) and Nemesis (‘indignation, retribution’), two of his sisters.
Cherie, the young woman Thanatos is called to visit. She is not an ancient Greek but a modern-day woman.
Daisy, Cherie’s tortoiseshell cat, who possesses more powers than Cherie ever realises. Also not an ancient Greek, well at least not in this one of her nine lives!
Mentioned = Geras, one of Thanatos’s many brothers, god of old age.
Momus, another of Thanatos’s brothers, god of blame and of poets & writers.
Panacea, goddess of universal remedy/health and daughter of Asclepius (god of medicine & healing) and Epione (goddess of soothing of pain. She was one of four sisters and four brothers.
Aceso, Panacea’s sister, goddess of the healing process.
Hesiod, Greek poet who didn’t think much of Thanatos.
Mick, faithless worm who’s married to Cherie. Not an ancient Greek but a modern-day man.
Pimply Work Experience Youth, acne has long been the bane of teenagers, even ancient Greek ones.
Background Info:
The brothers are always seen together and wear wreaths of poppies. Thanatos dresses in a black cloak, carries a sword in his belt and an inverted torch – indicating the snuffing out of life – in his hand.
The Greek poet Hesiod, active between 750 & 650BC, said this of Thanatos: “He has a heart of iron and his spirit is pitiless as bronze and once he’s seized you he holds fast.”
Author and poet, Homer doesn’t have anything good to say about him either, and the same applies to the lyric/comedy poet and playwright, Alcaeus (born 620BC).
Hesiod only had good things to say about Hypnos – “He roams peacefully over the earth and the sea and is kindly to men.”
History:
In Greek mythology, Chaos, the primeval void, was the first thing that existed. According to Hesiod, Chaos came first and born out of that were Gaia (‘earth mother’), Tartarus (both a deity and the abyss where souls are judged after death), Eros (‘love’), Nyx (‘night) and Erebus (‘darkness’).
Thanatos’ & Hypnos’ Family:
Their parents are mother Nyx (‘night’) and father Erebos (‘darkness’).
Other siblings are:
Brother, Geras (‘old age’ and where the term ‘geriatric’ comes from)
Brother, Momus (‘blame’ and also a god of writers & poets) and his twin sister, Oizys (‘suffering, woe, pain, distress’).
Sister, Nemesis (‘indignation, retribution’)
Brother, Moros (‘doom, destiny’)
Sister, Apate (‘deception’)
Sister, Eris (‘strife’)
Brother, Aether (‘brightness, the upper air’)
Sister, Hemera (‘day’)
Sister, Philotes (‘friendship, love, affection’)
Triplet sisters, The Hesperides (‘evening, sunset’) - the nymphs who guard the golden apples of immortality – Aigle (‘dazzling light’), Erytheia (‘the red one) and Hesperethusa (‘sunset glow’)
Triplet sisters, The Moirai (‘fates’) – three goddesses – Clotho (‘spinner’), Lachesis (‘allotter’) and Atropos (‘unturnable’).
Multiple sisters, The Keres – female death spirits of violent death.
1,000 more brothers, The Oneiroi (‘dreams’), one of whom is Morpheus, God of dreams.
Some legends also connect Charon, the Stygian boatman, with the family.

19:29, 10 Dec 2015
Aquinas
At last there was quiet. For so long he had felt assailed from every side by constant noise; the sound of car stereos turned up to pain threshold passing by and making his windows rattle, the shrieks and yells of the drunk people staggering out of pubs and clubs, their bravado bolstered by round after round, and the blaring horns of early morning traffic. Day by day he felt the pressure build, slowly surrounding him like water making every movement, every gesture, increasingly different.

15:45, 23 Oct 2015
Boiarski
In the house of the monster

There’s a monster under my bed, but he’s not that bad. He just lays there in the dark among the dust bunnies, his ragged breathing almost wounded, his red eyes, almost teary. I met him once when Dad came home in a rage. I heard him come in when he slammed the door and before long, I heard him coming for me. I hid under the bed.

The monster said, “Stay quiet, hide back here in the dark corner; he can’t reach us here.”

Never believe a monster. They lie. Sometimes I think they just want you to get caught. At first, it worked. Dad came in and threw off the covers. He screamed my name and went looking for me in the bathroom. I heard him stomping all over the house until he came back, madder than ever.
He grabbed the mattress and threw it against the wall. He tossed the box springs the other way. There I was, between the slats, an the monster nowhere to be found. Where’s a monster when you need him.

Dad grabbed my leg and pulled me out, but tripped and fell backwards onto the mattress. I jumped up and ran. It took him a while to get up and I had time to get out of the house. I ran outside and locked myself in the car, lying on the floor in the back seat. He came out with a flashlight and found me, but forgot his keys. He roared and beat on the roof of the car with his fists. When he ran back in, I opened the door and ran for the woods.

Nights were just starting to get cold, the first few frosts had brought down most of the leaves. I found a spot between some fallen trees and buried myself in the leaves. I heard him come back out and shout my name. I heard him roam the property, search all the shed and then come down the path near where I lay. His feet threw leaves on top of the pile where I had hidden.

“I’m going to fuckin’ kill you when I get my hands on you,” he screamed.

An hour later, he passed me on the way back. He was mumbling something about how the night out in the cold would do me good. When he went back in the house, I climbed back in the car. Later, Mom came out and let me back in. He had gone to sleep and she had put my bed back the way it was.

“You all right?” the monster asked.

“No thanks to you.” I said.

13:53, 10 Aug 2015
writerOHQZQOAPHD

My big fat brain

Let’s take a brief look at the inside of my brain,
Maybe you will find an answer to what's sending me insane,
Brain scan images show no liaisons, just a F***ing massive stain,
"No wonder this young lady's been in so much turmoil and pain"

The frontal lobes, the largest area of the brain, they patrol,
Muscle movement and conscious though, they control,
Attention, language, solutions and understanding provide a goal,
Determining personality and the basis of your soul,


"Area 1 over here, has been severely affected,
In fact it looks like it’s actually been totally disconnected,
All bridges burned out the A1 tunnel is shut,
A1 will now stand all alone, all ties have been cut.


Moving on, A2 houses episodic memories of any kind at all,
My A2 is a layered room, with memory piles big and small,
90 percent of the memories are stored correctly, in cabinets on the wall,
There’s never a peep outta them, and hierarchy never has to call.


But that 10 percent over there just won’t do as their told,
There impulsive and reckless blowing between hot and cold,
They cause all of the trouble and never seem to get old,
There hiding undetectable and then brassy and bold.



It’s messed up in here let’s move onto A3,
A small area of the brain housing short term memory,
It’s not as organised as A2 but it’s smaller as well,
The cabinets keep on jamming as if on regrets it does dwell.


A4 houses memories, procedural in nature,
The place that tells you when processes mean danger,
Normal brain function indicates sooner rather than later,
My A4 is patchy, its threshold seems to be greater.


A5 is so important, housing semantic memories or knowledge,
It stands to reason that A5 can be improved by attending a college,
My A5 has no regularity, picking at random what to acknowledge,
It’s full to the brim with information but can’t be bothered with the haulage.


A6 is the section where recognition takes place,
Its remarkable normal, everything’s in its own space.


On to B1 the control centre for emotional response,
There seems to be a blockage, Area B1 seems non-chalance,
Every once in a while the barriers may lift,
Resulting in crazy erratic behaviour as responses rapidly shift.


B1 is more damaged than anywhere else,
There’s no order or regularity and no sign of a shelf,
These receptors must be faulty, this is bad for your health,
There’s no instruction manual or quick fix even with wealth.


B2 could be classified as the "social brain"
Processing social information an understanding when people are the same,
This B2 needs updating with norms, expectations and a coherent behavioural chain,
If not the same kind of mistakes will happen again and again.


B3 would technically be called the occipital lobe,
Where our eyes send information, as we look around the globe,
Encoding colour and movement, as the eyes continue to probe,
Any damage in this sector would alter our visual strobe.


Again this areas damaged but it hard to find the source,
There’s no clear cut explanation as to b3s driving force,
It’s irreparable, simply strayed too far off- course,
Inseperatable from neighbouring B2, now they’re going through divorce.


13:52, 10 Aug 2015
writerOHQZQOAPHD
A LETTER TO MYSELF

Mate i swear, you don’t yet understand,
Everything will break that you touch with your hand,
Events will be minor but this head of ours will make it grand,
Yet somehow on your feet you will always seem to land.

My advice to you is just to take it day by day,
There’s no chance you can predict the s**t that gets in the way,
Stand by your beliefs and don’t be scared to have your say,
For all the wrongs you carry out, one day you’ll have to pay.

The vision of a rollercoaster existence is reality to us,
You will never want the drama or purposely ask for the fuss,
But your own insane behaviour will leave you nobody to trust,
And you better get used to being looked at with disgust.

There will be some days when your feet don’t touch the ground,
The harder you try to gain clarity the more the boundaries shift around,
You’ll agree to far too much every day and constantly feel your heart pound,
Don’t be fooled into thinking it will be a quiet night, when you have a few people round.

Honestly mate don’t ever try to work yourselves out,
For whatever reason, this is it, this is what were about,
A heart of gold, blinkered eyes and a history full of doubt,
Too many patchy incomplete memories resulting from the latest blowout.

Embrace the intense emotions, they prove you think with your heart
Try and suppress the negative side or at least recognise if it should start,
If you find it helpful to regulate the mind, put everything down on a chart,
You have more control than you think you do when normality falls apart.

Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse,
That moment, that second, seems to re-trigger the curse,
Before you know it you’re weak and frail again having to rely on a nurse,
All the qualities that make you, you, have seemed to just disperse.

You will be back though, sooner than you think,
As long as you remember, we can’t fix this with a drink,
Open up that bottle and our ship will continue to sink,
There’s only so many times you can come back from the brink.

What else can I really say, I’ve no more advice to give,
Play the best hand with these cards we been dealt, an make sure your life you remember to live.



11:41, 5 Aug 2015
Sirona
The bottle of sunscreen hit me, hard.
'You'll need that where you're going.'
Where I’m going?
I don't even turn to look at her, I know whose voice that is. Marion Greenfield.
My lips move in silent recitation as I bend to recover the bottle that she has thrown 'Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes.'
I check the container for damage before I straighten and, all without turning to look in Marion's direction, hand it to the manager who is frozen on the sidelines. He looks conflicted, realising his corporate duty to bring Marion to task for throwing stock, but feeling the pressure of our small town society to decree that I deserve it.
'It's alright, Bob,' I murmur as I pass, making my way out of the store, stopping only to leave my basket of goods where they will be found and redistributed to the shelves. I hate to put someone to the trouble of doing it, but I think everyone would agree it is best if I don't tally there any longer.
I go, as I always do, across the small, neat, town square to the church. The building stands, perfectly white, Gods truth made manifest.
I know that Marion led a protest to Pastor John, asking him to refuse me the comfort of the church. It can't have been an easy thing for him to deny her, and I know his decision troubles him. If I am found to be guilty, he will never live it down.
‘Murderer!’ Marion’s voice is shrill as it cuts through the background hum of a small town centre.
I stop, close my eyes and take a deep breath.
‘He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart,’ I mouth, the words are only for me, I don’t seek confrontation. I don’t have the stomach for it. The words are my anchor, and once they are spoken I can move again, albeit like an injured bird. I hop across the square with my eyes on the brilliant white of the church, my Sanctuary.
‘What did you do to her, you devil!’ Marion screams now, and a part of me wonders if I will ever get to scream that. If I will ever be so sure of blame, that I can demand satisfaction with such certainty.
The thought tears at me, and I run now with little regard for traffic into the church. I throw an apologetic glance back to Fred Turner, who had to brake to avoid a collision. If he had hit me, he would probably be a town hero.
I can breathe again as soon as I am inside the church. I dip my head in reverence before straightening, and find that Pastor John has appeared before me.
‘I heard her,’ he says simply, placing a comforting hand on my upper arm.
I nod. Everyone heard her, I think, and I chide myself for the twinge of pleasure I get from knowing that God heard her too. I should not relish the prospect of Marion’s accounting, it is an unworthy thought.
‘There is some silver to polish, if you’ve a mind?’ Pastor John suggests, gesturing with a hand towards the Vestry.
I nod again, hoping that I have somehow communicated my gratitude to the Pastor. I chide myself for pride, the Pastor does Gods work and needs to thanks from me to measure its worth.
There is a pile of silver laid out for me, and I set to work with pleasure. I have found that if I concentrate on a small task with great intensity, it quiets the chaos that besets my mind if I relax for a moment. Whether it be memories, of darling faces and the honey sweet scent of baby hair, or the torment of imagination, shallow graves or watery ends.
‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight,’ I whisper to my reflection as I buff and polish.
I move a large vase, and my breath catches. There is her face, staring out at me from the newsprint. My heart. My only love. My daughter. Tears fall in huge splats and I try to push them from her image before it blurs, a low, animal keening coming from inside me as I am exposed to the hurt that I have tried so hard to protect myself from.
I don’t need to read the words, I know that they say ‘Missing’ or ‘Still Missing’ or ‘Presumed dead’. Her story has changed my life, from its very beginning. I only want to know if it has ended, and if it has, how.
Pastor John comes running, and he pulls me into a comforting embrace as he sees what has happened. I make out the word ‘wickedness’ and his apologies; he knows that this was left just for me to find. It is another protest of his continued support of me.
It takes some time before I am recovered, but I feel better for the tears, like the woods after a storm. Lighter, somehow.
Composed, I continue my work until all the silver gleams. I suppress the hope that God will see how diligently I work and bring my daughter home to me as vanity. I am not worthy of her, while sin remains in my heart.
I pull on my gloves as I leave the Church, and looking down I almost walk into Sheriff Turney. His face is drawn, his hand comes to rest on my arm where the Pastor’s had just an hour before. Something happens as he speaks, as though the world becomes distorted and out of time. His lips move, I hear him, but the two are not in time. I know I am staring blankly at him, and I see him gesturing wildly across the Square to the front of his office where two cars are pulled up. In one sits Marion’s husband, Dennis. He looks pale, crumpled, his eyes huge in his face with what looks like fear.
In the other is a face I think I recognise, but the light is on the glass and…
I see that she is not the child who left me, dark rings circle her eyes, a bruise colours her cheek. None of this matters. ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart’.
I know where I am going.
I run to her.

21:06, 17 Jul 2015
Hour of Writes
Who just phoned me to ask if they can enter twice this week? Best way to do this is to set up another Profile and do it through that...

23:07, 3 Apr 2015
tinyfeet&bluebirds
On this mountain, this great mountain
Men come to measure themselves.
To steal into its highest reaches
To trace their path across its flank
And stand victor of their own fears.
Pristine, crystal white glacial slopes
Bring them to their knees. Like
Great Apes slain they sink
And slide across the snow
And into their own abyss of
Doubt and shame and wondering.

The ice and wind and fear
Lay bare their animal desire
To conquer? or to discover?
But what? Not the peaks or the summits
Not the ravine or the cliff, not even
The dreadful loneliness, alone
On the ice in the night, bivouacked
With only a rope between life and death
Clinging onto living while slowly the
Cold bites at the cord and you listen
For the sound of it snapping.

Is the mountain inside the man or
The man inside the mountain? Does
It sink beneath his skin till even the
Gentle, seeking, unrequited
Touch of his lovers hand itches?
What is he expecting stood before
Its greatness? There are no
Answers only more questions and
The steady beating of a constant
heart, singing, I want to live
I want to live,I want to live.

23:04, 3 Apr 2015
tinyfeet&bluebirds
Rochers de Naye, February 2015

We came for the view
Clear across the Alps,
French and Swiss,
Matterhorn and Mont Blanc both.
And down far below to the fresh
Deep waters of the faraway lake.
Crisp, clean, crystal summits
Shining like angels against the icy blue sky.
And the train, of course,
Tiny feat of engineering genius
Grinding slowly up the slopes
Teeth catching in cogs
Pulling us upwards towards the heavens.
And bringing wonder to your eyes,
My little train man.
We didn't expect the birds,
Great soaring blackbirds,
Casting their haunting dark shadows
Against the pale white snow.
Our lunch crumbs their carrion,
One landing briefly on my wild girl's hand
A memory she'll carry forward forever.
On this mountain, we left behind pebbles
smooth, flat and grey, small, yellow and shiny,
collected on the shore by little fingers
over 1500m below us now, a lifetime away.
Placed them on the Nepalese Stupa,
Precarious pillar of piled stones,
Small fragile trace of our brief touch.
Praise be to the Ouria,
Pamola and Sansin
Jacawitz and Cabrakan,
Great gods of sacred places
We walk here by your grace.


02:54, 1 Apr 2015
Susy
Ruapehu, My Beautiful Mountain

I've sat with my back against the sun kissed stones sprawled at the base of your rocky skirt
I've gazed up in awe at the majesty of you, towering sky tipped above me
You've taken all I've had to give and listened without complaint
You've held me in your strong embrace and caressed my face with your soft white kisses
I've bled my fears and cried many tears on you, soaking them into your earth
The scorching pain of my heartaches I've laid bare upon your snowy blanket, Rivulets of despair I've leached into the icy cold stream babbling across your feet
In my world of pain and uncertainty you were always there, waiting
and watching
To listen and nurture and hold me close to your powerful heart
Thank you my beautiful mountain, for being there when I needed you.





21:14, 30 Mar 2015
bercatliz
On this mountain
Gazing at stars
Twilight

07:07, 30 Mar 2015
CeRiously wriiten
The 360° West Coast Sunset Memoir


Dear Flyover Checkers,
I heard, not too late though
That autumn’s greetings were sent to spring fields of summer
It was fun to have a breakfast with misty waves
At the Waterfront, charmed with seagulls and cherry blossoms
French toast and dark roast Rhymed with a pinch of cinnamon and holy honey The False Creek might have been missing my slideshows of her
Well, Stanley’s green fern-carpet won’t leave me alone
As I thought of dropping by at my adopted paramount aquarium spot
For beluga, dolphin and sea otters encounter
Wondered how the serene jade pond serenades the taihu rock and other miniatures,
That was really amazing, lauds to the fifty-three legendary craftsmen!
My Epistle keeper showed her chromatic sneakers
Made extra creaky gallops at the Suspension Bridge
Connected with the pine tree spirits at Grouse Mountain
Been there camping, but did not have any floating sleeping bag
So, as a wanderer, played my cards to the domed OMNIMAX
Vertigo revisited my cornea, but I claimed that I need to walk the deck Where another stirring of dark roast will make me SuperWoman
There, my spectacular lookout and hideout, my supernova affair
Behold the time of all times, the lounge is mine.
I enjoyed the polytonic sentiments of the harbor’s opalescence
Where the tombs of the unfound mountain of echoing laughter and gripping finesse gazes

Return after the total recall.
Wished me more daybreaks of granted wishes
With all the loved and Missed Memories.

©Caroline Nazareno a.k.a. Ceri Naz

20:50, 26 Mar 2015
Susy
Behind the moon I believe is a myriad of miracles and wonderous magic but what do we really know of the reality.
Would we even understand it if we knew?
On this side of the Moon we have witnessed stunning bright colours, explosions, the birth of new planets, landings on the Moon and Mars but what is happening on the OTHER side of the Moon?
Imaginations run riot but I doubt any imagination could top the reality.
The movie world is full of creative geniuses who bring us Sci-Fi movies like ET, Planet of the Apes, Star Wars, Star Trek, Alien, Black Hole, When Worlds Collide, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and so the list goes on and on.
So how realistic do we think these movies really are?
There are asteroids out there that are excrutiatingly close to earth lately. Remember the movie, Asteroid?
We don't really want to find out how close to reality that movie was.
I would like to think there is life out there, there has to be surely.
How arrogant would we be if we thought we were the only living 'beings' in the Universe.
Maybe we are the only living creatures on THIS side of the Moon but there's a gynormous galaxy out there that we have yet to discover.
I suspect they might discover us first, if they haven't already.
What if they have?
Who are they, what planet are they from, and is it a planet or something we don't have any comprehension of.
I don't think our brain structures are wired for this - yet.
Maybe that's why we haven't yet been shown what is behind the Moon.
But watch this space, things could get real interesting over the next few million years.

23:04, 9 Mar 2015
Jim bob
Jake thought it was a matter of heritage. As simple as that.
Alan had been looking at him for sometime, and somewhat concened of his driends expression.
'Whats up Jake' he asked whilst picking up a piece of Neapolitana Pizza from his plate. The restaurant was crowded out for St Georges day, although, quite evidently, St george had nothing to do with this. Francis, their Irish pal sipped at a lager and also observed Jake questioningly
'Nothing really, Matt' he replied. 'It just seems that we dont have much to celebrate any more, and it kinda pisses me off'
'No need to get all sad Jake' said Francis, through a mouthfull of spaghetti, and overtones of irish drawl. 'Lets face it, you lot pissed everyone off'. And he laughed, bits of pasta shooting from his mouth, a couple of strands dribbling down his chin. Jake didn't look too amused by this comment
'Hey, Francis thats a bit harsh innit? said Matt on noticing Jakes reaction. But Francis ignored this, instead was, looking at an attractive backside that belonged to a tall woman.'
'Yeah I know what you mean' said Jake across the table. The noisy retaurant didn't help with his soft voice. 'But that doesnt mean we dont have the right to celebrate our heritage' Matt signalled across to Jake to quit the on set of an argument. He knew Jake was a bit touchy and that Francis could be a bit cocky, especially after a few drinks.
Jake agreed with a small smirk as the waitress walked by which dustracted Francis' attention from one backside to another. The bits of spaghetti were beginning to dry onto parts of his face.

'

09:46, 7 Mar 2015
Hour of Writes
This morning the wind still sallies forth outside in desperate howls; inside I savour the thought of frying mushrooms and wholesome egg.

10:11, 5 Mar 2015
Hour of Writes
At Robotics and Sensors Opportunities conference today and tweeting throughout from @hourofwrites. Get writing!

22:33, 3 Mar 2015
Susy
Punch in the time card, open the door
Pull on your dust coat, head out to the floor
Stand by your station, at the conveyor table
Reach for the product, and apply a label.
'This one's not right!', shout's the man at the top
'Do it again, quickly now, chop chop.
If you mess up one more time it will be curtains for you
I don't want to see that to happen to a nice girl like you.'
The machines quietly murmur their way through the day
With automatons like us who tend to get in the way
At last the bell goes and we all file out
'Cuppa tea time,' comes a merry old shout.
'How was last night Gladys, did you go out with Steve?
And did you see the Andy with his new girl on his sleeve?''
All too soon tea breaks over and we all wander out
To stand at our tables and dull ourselves out
An automaton is what we've become, lifeless and listless and totaly numb

03:50, 24 Feb 2015
Susy
She Loves Me

He thought she did, in his own self involved mind
He thought she would be his forever, to have and to hold
To control and manipulate, to do his bidding,
But finally she said no more, and walked out
He thought she loved him, he hadn't noticed the changes in her
The sadness, the tears in her eyes, the pain in her heart
He broke her wings, took her freedom away
She couldn't breathe, she couldn't stay
He said, I thought you loved me
She said I thought so too.

03:38, 21 Feb 2015
Susy
The Peace Deal

White Dove carries an olive branch
as the storms of wrath abate.
Both sides sit at the table
heart in mouth...and wait.
Who'll go first, who'll pick up the pen
Who'll sign their name on the line.
What's done is done, don't look back
to forgive and forget takes time.
She picks up the pen and signs her name
He takes the form and does the same
She watches him, doesn't show how she feels
now that they've signed off on this Peace Deal.
It'd been many long years, many battles fought
But it wasn't all bad if one gave it thought
Both sides lost and both sides won
But now the marriage is over and done.




11:45, 19 Feb 2015
Hour of Writes
Racing Hearts Go! winner announced...

17:22, 13 Feb 2015
Ruth Evelyn
The safety of a heart
engaged to heal

It mended
It softened
It joined
It allowed
It fulfilled

The safety of a heart
healed to engage

It mended
It softened
It joined
It allowed
It fulfilled

The safety of a heart
received to give
gave to receive

Love

16:25, 13 Feb 2015
Ruth Evelyn
He sat across the room
and I watched
As he thought and considered
he processed

A mind at work

I explored him
from afar
I thought and considered
I recognized

His mind at work

Two minds at work
Two minds engaged
My heart joined
to play

A heart engaged

He stood and crossed the room
to me
He sat. He considered.
I watched. I considered.

Two hearts engaged

10:58, 9 Feb 2015
Hour of Writes
Valentines Day this week, and we have sports writer Jen Offord judging...so all in all, Racing Hearts Go!

01:36, 6 Feb 2015
Susy
Yes we can....

I was bottling my tomatoes the other day
When the thought occurred - there has to be a better way
So I rang the people at the Watties Factory
The answer they gave me was most satisfactory
'Can you put my tomatoes in a can young man?'
And the reply came back -
'Yes we can.'

12:04, 5 Feb 2015
Hour of Writes
Speed Of Light winner to be announced this evening! Watch this space...

12:43, 29 Jan 2015
Hour of Writes
Cup Of Tea results announced later today....

08:30, 24 Jan 2015
Bills

One More Day….


Everything happens as usual,
The sun rises in hazy smog,
Unknown cars honk on the distant road,
Birds chirp in hunger
One more day begins in unhurried impatience

My eyes hurt craving for some more sleep,
The CEO’s early call to meet today rings on my phone,
My heart wants me to take it somewhere far far away,
The morning newspapers lie lazily on the doorstep,
At last something to cheer about and cry for…

Some more deaths in a distant land of unknown people,
The Army Chief wants troops withdrawn from Iraq,
The sultry ramp model believes in life after death,
Another CEO announces a takeover for a few million chips,
Daily astro-forecast proclaims accidental gains for me

“The Boss had to get into an emergency meeting, Sir,
He’s kindly requested you to wait.”
Requested or Ordered!
The battle between survival instincts and self-respect occupies me,
The electronic clock and the secretary’s hairdo tell me the time,
My wait waits in an impatient patience..

“What will you have, Sir? Tea, coffee or maybe...”
“No, nothing, er - maybe a glass of water...”
The Secretary vanishes
A new wait for that elusive glass begins,
And drowns the thought - I have been taken for granted
Anxiety takes the place of activity,
Is he avoiding me?

The glass of water appears,
Dangling between the manicured red nails
“The boss has asked me to tell you,
he’s sorry to keep you waiting.
He’ll meet you shortly.”
I try my best to regain my trust in the limitlessness of the word - shortly
The Theory of Relativity - from a new perspective perhaps!!!

“Let’s go for lunch and talk”,
The elusive boss of the ever-smiling Secretary comes out of his cabin,
With no one following him through the door
Was this a tele conference!!!!
The battle re-surfaces in a new avatar

“Sorry to keep you waiting for a little while,”
The CEO grins
“It happens.”
I stretch my jaw muscles to their extremities
The battle drowns in activity again

Weather, bombings, wars, capital market, ramp models
Occupy the CEO’s vocal chord and lips
With a liberal smattering of his confused vision of ‘my company’
In between
With his eyes darting between my necktie
And the low necklines of the lady on the other table
At last the meeting is happening.

And happens for a little less than three hours,
The content repeating itself in amazing regularity,
“I understand”,
I say, whenever he finds time to look into my eyes
Without a hint of the absolute confusion in my mind
I listen, pretend to listen and practice sleeping with eyes open
Waiting for the CEO to hear his own voice,
Which happens coincidentally at last,
Just when the lady on the next table stands up

“Ok, then. Do send in your proposal.
Let’s begin from Monday next.”
The CEO growls in his suave arrogance
With his eyes fixed
On the fast vanishing feminine silhouette
“Yeah. Sure”,
I mutter with my eyes fixed
On my credit card,
Stooping under the weight of the charge slip

I come out to face the sweltering metropolis,
With the Sun forcing its way through the hole
In the Ozone layer
The traffic snails before and past me in impatient laze,
The grey clouded western sky has orange linings
My mind thinks of the charge slip and the accidental gain

Everything happens as usual,
The sun sets in hazy smog,
Unknown cars honk next to me,
Birds chirp restlessly for a shelter
One more day ends in unhurried impatience.

08:22, 24 Jan 2015
Bills
Lessons from a learned pigeon

If you find a pigeon hovering over your laptop, don’t stop it from tweeting
If you do, don’t chase it
If you do, don’t scare it.
If you do, don’t scare it so much that it craps on your laptop
If you do and it does crap, don’t chase it again
If you do, don’t scare it further
If you do, don’t keep the windows shut
If you do, be gentle and open the window
While opening the window, don’t curse the pigeon in Hindi
(Pigeons don’t like their mothers and sisters subjected to human repression. And Indian pigeons know Hindi. Try Swahili instead. If you’re lucky, it hasn’t yet used its passport and has never been to Africa.)
If you do, say sorry and don’t anger it
If you do, don’t let it crap out of anger
If you do, don’t step on it
If you do, don’t slip n fall
If you do, don’t fall on your back
If you do, don’t let anyone be around
If you do, don’t let that one try hard not to laugh
If you do, don’t say I am okay
If you do, don’t keep lying down
If you do, don’t betray your helplessness
If you do, don’t refuse help
If you do, don’t go to your regular doctor
(He already knows your unseemly ways)
If you do, don’t give the gory pigeon-details
If you do, don’t let your doc get wild at the pigeon
If you do, don’t let your doc suffer the same fate as yours and your laptop a repeat insult
Take your doc’s advice and make a resolution not to chase the pigeon that craps on your laptop
Moral of the story – Pigeons love to tweet.
Trust me – you cannot hear from a better horse’s mouth

03:44, 23 Jan 2015
Susy
A light tap, tap tap, at the door drew Millicent's thoughtful gaze from the dancing flames in her fireplace to the source of the distraction.
A white gloved hand appeared from behind the heavy oak door which was hinged into the wall of the dimly lit wood panelled drawing room. The fingers were splayed out to balance a tray heavy laden with silver and fine china. Following the tray was a rather stern and ancient looking butler in his black frock coat, severely starched white shirt front and white bow tie.
'Ma'am' he queried in an old tired voice.
'By the window please Jeeves, ' she ordered, the years of experience giving orders dripping off every word. She rose from her seat beside the fire, her silk petticoats whispering softly beneath her white organza gown with the embroidered bluebell pattern. It was her favourite.
The butler expertly placed the tray on the delicately embroidered lace table cloth which adorned the small round table beneath the square lead light windows. Either side of the table stood two tapestry embroidered, oval backed chairs waiting patiently for their occupants.
'Thank you Jeeves. I will serve today,' she dismissed him from the room with a delicate but companding flick of her tiny hand.
Another knock at the door and Millicent turned expectantly.
'Mrs Gertrude, Armitage-Jones-Forsyth m'Lady.'
'Oh Gertie, you do look lovely in that gown, the colour suits you so.'
'Millie daahhling, oh I love to see you in your pretty organza. Whoever would believe that another year has just danced on by my dear. Fifty years we have been meeting at this very same time in this very room to celebrate our birthdays together before the big hurrahs. Hasn't it been such fun being a twin.'
'It has my dearest and neither of us looks or feels our 80 years do we.'
'Not at all, not at all.'
After partaking of their tea with scones, jam and cream, Gertrude rose to leave.
'Millie it's been such a lovely visit, as always. So nice that the two of us can catch up without everyone else butting in don't you think?'
'I do dear, that I do.'
'Now Gertie, Edward and I are off to that new Vaudeville show next week, why don't you come along with us.'
Oh Millie, thank you but you know full well those shows are just not my Cup of Tea.

00:26, 17 Jan 2015
Hour of Writes
Great entries for Love And Music this week - looking forward to seeing what wins!

22:02, 14 Jan 2015
Susy
The little blue planet.
Once upon a time in a galaxy far far away there was a little blue planet called Earth. It had been around for millions of years and had its very own solar system. One day the Earth mother, Gaia, called upon the planet Gods.
'I am very concerned about my beloved Earth,' she told them. 'It is dying, we need to do something.'
'What can we do to help Gaia?' they asked kindly.
'Well,' she smiled, 'I have a plan. Why don't we overlay the Earth with a great blanket of powerful Love energy and see what happens.'
'Wonderful idea,' they chorused. 'When shall we do it?'
'Well the planets will be well aligned on March 31st, 2015 why don't we do it then. We'll call it the Photon Belt and set it to last for a thousand years'
So that's what they did, and the results were remarkable. The nations who had been at war, some of them for many generations, lay down their weapons and embraced their enemies. Each nation sang it's anthem with such great gusto that it made Gaia tingle with delight.
The terrorists suddenly found it so difficult to hate that they gave up their campaigns, came out from their hiding places in the desert and threw off their masks. They formed rock groups and wrote love songs instead.
All the races on the planet threw off their glasses of difference and realised that they were all one people and they embraced each other. Gaia beamed with delight when she heard and felt a beautiful humming thrilling through her.
'Aaah they are singing the blues, oh how I love the vibration and rhythm of the blues, it touches the human soul unlike any other music I've ever heard.'
Before long the whole world was humming and singing and whistling and dancing and smiling at one another.
All the world leaders got together and held a summit meeting, signing a treaty that they would do everything in their power to uphold this wonderful peace on Earth. They linked arms and sang the Beatles song, Love, Love Love. That's when the Earth turned from blue to the most brilliant rose red pink the galaxy had ever seen. It spun and sparkled and shone its brilliance all through the universe causing the inhabitants of other planets to stand and gaze in awe.
And so the people on Earth lived in peace and harmony for the next thousand years.



00:15, 7 Jan 2015
Susy
I raise my glass, I wish good cheer and say goodbye to another year

Auld lang syne wafts through the still night, fireworks create a stellar delight,

what's done is done, what's been has gone, 'Another year over' sings the singer of the song,

We've had fires and flooding, volcanic eruptions, melting ice, earthquakes and catasrophic destruction,

planes falling out of the sky to the ocean, civil unrest and racial emotion,

lying and cheating and political upheavel, some hideous crimes that were simply pure evil,

May this year be more fruitful and bring you good cheer, I raise my glass to you and wish a Happy New Year.

18:47, 6 Jan 2015
Misslalabb
It crawled from some pit, slithering across the room, an old discarded beauty, now without arms, it's torso lumped noisily on the floorboards. Why have I been left here, without colour, with an absence of light? Why have they left me, driven me away and left me to die in this place?

Pleasure attained, was my modus operandi, my way of life. To lie on a grecian daybed, with some beauty brushing my hair, until the copper strands shone like burnished metal. Fed on pommegantes, moist figs and spoon-fed fattened duck's livers with soufflé-light mascarpone filled eclairs, sugary-light, like the lemony wintry sun that streamed through the window.

The child had been born soon after. She was a beauty. Holding her close, I could smell her newness, her skin smelled of blackberries and buttermilk, like late Summer and I loved her.

All I remember before this - is a disintegration into colour, I disintegrated, everything melted, my own matter and substance stayed with me, but everything melted under my touch. Objects slid from my grasp and dissolved into the air, colours ran amok, and with shivery hiss, adder-like, slid though the tiny gaps in the floor.

There is a memory flash - he sits at the table, legs crossed, holding a manuscript. He is crumpled looking with a top hat wedged firmly unto his ears. Long hands with a bejewelled finger, a cut garnet, which glitters when he turns each page. What did he want? She felt unwell.

If she could hold this coal long enough, clamp it between both hands, feel its intractable hardness press into the cups of her palms, could she with an alchemical thought turn it into diamonds. Shower her child with the glittering hard rain of diamonds, fill their shared boudoir with pure carbon, pure love, maybe then they could both live.

The days were long now and all the nights were filled with horrors, great gaping maws of dread. Smells of death filled her and she faded to a crystalline shade. Sparse. Her hair hung in limp hanks from her little skull and her hands folded over the blanket which held the perfect little skeleton of her dead love. She sang. 'Shush my baby, don't you cry, papa is gonna buy you a diamond ring'.

01:43, 6 Jan 2015
Hour of Writes
REMEMBER: Entries on Ephemera can now be shared on social media as they happen, so please do try this out!

23:01, 3 Jan 2015
Hour of Writes
Happy New Year! 'From The Cold' results out later tonight...

04:22, 1 Jan 2015
Susy
I was scared.
The first thump outside my window brought me upright in my bed, heart pounding.
'What was that?
The second thump brought me to my feet. I grabbed my dressing gown hanging behind the bedroom door, unconsciously slipping it on as I ventured furtively out into the hallway. As I crept past the spare room door my heart stopped beating. There at the naked window was the shadow of a man. No hairline. Was he wearing a hood?
Who was he?
Why pick on this house, why me?
I slid back in to my bedroom, jelly legs giving way as I plopped down on the bed.
I grabbed the bedside phone. Don't turn the light on.
'Police, how can I help'
'There's a man trying to break into my house.'
'What's your address maam. And your phone number please. Okay we will get someone to come out and see you.'
I hung up and went back out into the hall stopping briefly outside the spare room leaning against the wall for support. He was still there working determindly to get the window open. I ran on tip toes to the kitchen, yanked open the cutlery drawer, cringed at the noise it made, and grabbed a large carving knife. There I stood, in the dark, trembling, a knife in my sweaty hands, adrenalin pounding through my veins waiting to confront my intruder. I wasn't just scared, I was terrified. I stood there hoping to hear a siren approaching but nothing. Then I heard the intruders feet hit the floor. He was in the house. In that moment I thought, 'Stuff this, my life is worth more than this.' I threw the knife on the bench and ran across to the ranch slider. I pulled it open as quietly as I could. I hesitated.
'Were there anymore of them out there, waiting?
In the end I decided to take my chances. I ran for my life up the driveway to the street expecting someone to leap out and grab me at any moment. But once at the top of the street it was all quiet. No cars, no people, nothing. I saw some lights on in a house at the end of the street, maybe there's someone there. I ran up the path to their door, pounding on it and calling for help. No-one came. There was no-one there, they were just security lights. So I crouched down and hid in the flax bushes in the garden and waited for the cops. I waited and I waited and I waited. Eventually I made the decision to run down the road towards town in the hope that I might either meet the cops or find a house with lights on. It must be after 11pm by now, would anybody still be up? Finally I saw a house with lights on. I banged loudly on the door startling seven bells out of the lone male occupant.
'There's someone in my house, can I use your phone?'
He showed me to the phone. 'I'll put the jug on. Are you okay? Would you like a coffee?'
'Yes to both, thanks. Hello, yes, Police. Yes it's me again. He's in and I'm out, where's the bloody cops?'

The police did turn up shortly after but it was an hour and a half after my first call which was never acted upon. I thank God I never stayed to confront the intruder that night in the hope that the cops would turn up to save me, otherwise I might not be writing this today. True story.

Post script: True story. Long story - but to cut it short - I decided to run for my life. It took another phone call to the Police before they eventually turned up an hour and a half later. This gave the intruder plenty of time to make off with a whole lot of goodies. Never saw my stuff again and no-one was ever charged although the culprit was later identified as it was a town of only 2000 people.

05:14, 29 Dec 2014
discombobulated
UGLY.

Perfect, large, beautiful eyes stare at me
Your luscious hair taunts me
I only mirror dull features
But my small, broken eyes have a history.

My shallow breath felt stronger once.
This fragmented heart puts on a brave front.
But you with your arsenal of a perfect nose and lips
You slay my mighty tower and bring me to pits.

I was once sailing on cloud 9, cautiously grabbing at the stars
But I have fallen down so hard so fast
That though I tenaciously try, I cannot find my anchor
The one that made me so easily look into the mirror.

My palms bang against all walls, but in vain
There’s no escape from this prison I’m locked in
I shut my ears from this place that I can never flee
That echoes your tantalising whisper, “ugly”.

05:13, 29 Dec 2014
discombobulated
SECRET.

You dream of those tickling butterflies
I’m told to dream otherwise
You dream of those first nervous glances
I’m told that they will give me the chances.

You dream of the diamonds adorned on that magical night
Me? I’m told not to dream in blithe.
You dream of melting into the sunset, feeling it’s warmth
I’m told to avert my gaze to the north.

You dream of peeling off your vulnerability
You dream of creating passion laced with tranquility
I’m told when to reach out and when to fly
I’m told to keep my feet on the ground, not to brush against the sky.

You dream of those strolls while our hands are clasped shyly
Growing into a walk that ends in rings joining us tightly
You dream of flying together, even if from the bottom we start
You wish for all this on an ethereal being- a shooting star.

I’m told not to wish for those cold winter nights
I’m told that sharing your warmth isn’t right
I’m told that to wash out the fire blazing in my soul
I’m told that one spark can burn down my haven if I fold.

You want to whisper it, cry it out, scream it
You want the spotlight on us, brightly lit
You want this world and so much more from it
They zip my lips, but in the carcass of my heart,
I preserve it.

18:16, 27 Dec 2014
Hour of Writes
Are we all just snow men, slowly melting.....?

01:18, 26 Dec 2014
Susy
Ohakune in Winter.
The ice cold air slapped me in the face as I left the cosy warm confines of the local club. Snow covered the ground, the cars in the car park were covered in ice. I tried my key in the lock. Damn, it was frozen over again. I congratulated myself on at least taking the time to put newspaper on the windscreen. As I rummaged through my handbag for my trusty expired credit card slash ice scrapper I noticed another patron leave the warm club and head to his vehicle. As I was scraping the ice away from around the keyhole my attention was drawn back to him. 'What was he doing? Oh my God, he was peeing on his door lock.' When I recovered from my initial shock I decided it was probably not a bad idea, pity I wasn't physically equiped to do the same. Finally I got the key in lock and persuaded it to open the door. As I was removing the frozen newspaper from the windscreen I watched intrigued as my fellow car park inhabitant leapt onto the bonnet of his truck. 'Now what's he doing? Oh my God, he's peeing on the windscreen. Yuk'. I quickly grabbed up the rest of the newspaper averting my gaze so he didn't catch me watching him. Then I heard him call out.
'You alright love, can I give you a hand?'
'Ah, no thanks, I'm all good.'
'Suit yerself' he laughed.
I quickly slid into the cold interior of my car and prayed that it would start first pop. It didn't. The truck started straight away. Of course it did, he'd probably peed in the gas tank. I heard the truck sidling up beside my car. He wound the window down, I did the same.
'Sure you don't need a hand love?'
'Nope, all good to go.'
'Okay then, if you're sure,' and he was gone.
Third time lucky, I was finally away. Soft fluffy snow flakes plopped onto my windscreen as I left the carpark. Cool, I loved driving when it was like this. I decided to take the long way home and enjoy the falling snow finally pulling up in the driveway. A beam of warm yellow light fell across the path as the door opened.
'What took you so long love.'
'Took the long way home Dad.'
'Silly girl, come on in from the cold.'

12:52, 18 Dec 2014
Lossie Laxton
Just before Christmas I feel myself disintegrate, with desolation all around
and my particles soon to be vibrating with high speed and dislocation all over the surface of the earth.

15:36, 16 Dec 2014
Hour of Writes
We spent one February heatwave Valentine's Day in the park, a group of friends drinking vodka. We watched the ducks in the pond. 'I wonder what happens when one of them dies? How do the others feel?' We see them carry on swimming, eating, doing their thing but inside do they all feel different at the loss of their pond-sharer?

Pass Note

02:08, 15 Dec 2014
Susy
I sat huddled on the floor in the corner of the vanity, heart breaking at the thought of losing my soul mate. We were both 26, the year was 1979. They wouldn't let me see him at first, there had been a family rift but seeing me so upset they relented at the final hour.

As we sat hand in hand in the intensive care unit, his warm hand comfortably curled around mine a million thoughts flooded in reminding me of all the precious moments we had shared together. I laughed, I cried, I smiled. I love you I said and kissed his forehead, the last flesh to flesh moment we would ever have.

Then it was time to go, the Doctors wanted his gorgeous, precious 26 year old body so they could extract his organs for donation. He was so fit and healthy. His parents hearts were torn into a million pieces, they were sobbing with pain, how were they meant to say yes to someone cutting up their beautiful boy - he was still warm, he was still breathing - but not on his own. Oh God, how painful is this, the battle between grief and pain and doing a good deed. Finally they said yes and he was gone, through the doors. I couldn't bear to dwell on it anymore, it was time to switch off and gather those beautiful memories back around me for comfort.

I am currently an organ donor but my spiritual beliefs are swaying me away from the idea as they believe that cutting into the body while it is still technically alive, also cuts into the Soul and is thus carried through with you into the next life.

08:41, 10 Dec 2014
Susy
Paranoia In The Dark

Here you come again. Every night you come, unbidden, relentless, merciless.
I hate you but still you come. I scream and cry out but still you come. Why?
Why can't you just leave me alone in the Light.
I can't sleep when you are here, there is too much happening outside my window. I hear noises in my house that only come when you are here.
When she comes, the full moon, and hangs herself on your dark canopy I can sit and watch what is happening outside my window.
Why can't you bring her every night?
The only thing I like about your visits is the bright splash of Light and colour that appears on the horizon when you leave. Then I sleep.

00:34, 10 Dec 2014
Hour of Writes
The rain and hail is battering the windows, like a carwash. Then, suddenly, the lights went out. They came back on. My laptop has 100% but soon we will be in the dark I think...

11:15, 5 Dec 2014
bookiemcp
True Reflection

As she perched nervously on the edge of the stool, and started to raise her head to look in the vanity mirror, she almost laughed at herself and her foolishness. It was not as if she never looked in a mirror, she did so all the time. And yet...and yet, as she let her mind flick through the notes of her memory, she realised that the mirror was a functional tool and little else.

Her mind visually skimmed her interactions with the reflective surfaces in her life, and yes, she rarely looked away when a mirror came into view, but that was not the same as looking, really looking. She used a mirror to check for a rogue lock of hair and to brush it from her face. She checked a mirror to find a smudge of mascara that needed wiping from under her eye. A mirror let her find a stray eyelash that sat on her cheek.

Of course, there were more than fleeting glances; in the morning she applied her war-paint to face the enemy of the day, and spent sometimes a full quarter-hour looking at her own reflection, but again, this was different. She was looking at each individual element to see what she needed to add, the sweep of colour across her lids, the twist of black on her eyelashes, the smoothing of foundation on her skin, and finally the slick of red across her lips. Each time she looked in the mirror it was to see less of herself, to take away the truth and bury it underneath a publicly acceptable façade.

If the make-up was not enough of an amulet of strength against the world, then there was always her hair to strengthen her daily defense. Washed and blow dried daily, primped, sprayed and smoothed to within an inch of its life, her chestnut mane was a sleek and shiny helmet against the world.

So then, if the mirror was nothing to fear, then what was she so afraid of now? It was sheer force of will that made her raise her head, and open her eyes at her reflection. It was easy to start with, the face was painted, the hair was artfully draped over her shoulders, but for once she wasn't there to look at these, she was there to look at herself, her true reflection. Slowly, she pulled her hair back from her face into a careless ponytail. Step 1 complete. Next, she took the creams and lotions from the vanity and began removing her make-up in slow gentle sweeps. As she glanced down at the used cotton pads, she saw her safety blanket being Dismantled and disposed of. Finally the last of the products were removed from her skin, and she could look up and see her true self.

For months the burning question, Who am I? had been stalking her thoughts. Dissecting her habits and routines, calling into question every moment that normally brought her pleasure. There it sat, like an unwelcome guest in the centre of her mind, mocking her with its simple and cruel presence. Since its arrival, everything she said and did, every though and every plan seemed ridiculous and futile. And now, staring into her own eyes, the eyes that should have reflected back the woman she was, she saw nothing.

She sat back on the stool, devastated. What did she really think was going to happen? Five minutes of quiet reflection looking in a mirror and it would all just work itself out? Useless, worthless and feckless. That was all she was and would ever be if she stayed this cowed, frightened creature.

For what seemed like hours, but could not have been more than minutes, she raged. She screamed and sobbed and tore at her hair, her face, teeth tearing at her lips until they poured blood from her chin. Her mind went to the darkest places, imagined every end, a blade at her wrists, a gun in her mouth, a jump from a bridge. She saw her body, bruised, bleeding, broken. She glimpsed into the nothingness that would follow.

And then, she looked up again at herself in the mirror. Her expression wild, her face bloodied, but her eyes...different. The fear was gone, the emptiness away. Somehow, by facing down the worst of her thoughts, by staring right into the pit of the abyss and giving in, she had survived. Slowly, she began to smile. A real smile, one for herself only, not one for anyone else. Her reflection looked back and seemed to say to her, yes, that's right, you know who you are now.

She knew right then that her life would never be the same again.

06:19, 5 Dec 2014
sarojasudheer
MY WORLD

Oh! My lord! Let me born
In a world
Where my head raises in sovereignty
Where my hands stretch in brotherhood
Where my feet land in solace
Where my eyes open in social justice
Where my fellow-creatures stay safe
Where my fellow- beings live long
Where my soul remains for sanctity
Where my society stands for morality
Where my life ends in bliss
Where the world is without prejudices!

05:53, 5 Dec 2014
sarojasudheer
CHANGE – IS IT A SIGN OF GROWTH
Change is a sign of growth , isn’t it ?
The flourishing changes
social, political and environmental
palatable or inevitable ?
The growth of mechanization
yielded in pollution
The growth of modernization
yielded in self- Alienation
The growth of IT Revolution
yielded in de- humanization
The growth of Globalization
yielded in derision

Craving for prosperity
Passion for technology
Craze for comfort
Made us
Blind to the Threat of Global-warming
Deaf to the screams of Habitat
Dumb to the pangs of misanthropism

The struggle for monopoly
Ended in chaos and mystique

Change for growth
a fallacy, a myth
Let’s arise, awake
And stop not, till the world is changed-
For a virtual, eco-friendly
And nourishing environment.

15:11, 4 Dec 2014
Hour of Writes
You can't walk through the door - and then stop!

18:21, 2 Dec 2014
John Farragher
small as a tree I cry
branches running down my cheeks
planted in grass deep green
my feet cannot be seen

19:00, 30 Nov 2014
ROK
She wore her skin like chalk on stone. It was her face but she was detached and numb to it's expressions. It's reflection shared no symmetry to her soul, it's characteristics no more than signposts. She waits endlessly to feel like a refined cohesive product, but is worn down by the anticipation of something better. The denied presence of knowledge that acceptance is the only end to this road lurks. How does she move on? How does new begin?

14:40, 26 Nov 2014
Lossie Laxton
In ‘Paint your wagon’, as the folks start leaving No-Name Town when the gold runs out, someone comments to the Lee Marvin character: ‘Well, I guess there’s two kinds of folk in this world – them who stays, and them who goes’. Lee Marvin says ‘No that ain’t true – there’s folk who’s going somewhere, and those who’s going nowhere. But you wouldn’t know what I’m talking about..’

17:13, 21 Nov 2014
martingreenwood
My motorcycle needs more fuel.

15:12, 21 Nov 2014
Hour of Writes
The site is now live! New live test competition going up this weekend, then official launch 1st December.

00:52, 17 Nov 2014
Hour of Writes
Hello! The site is going public this week so no formal competition as live content may get lost in the process, but instead please write short pieces entitled 'A Small Story' in Notes and share them!

10:47, 14 Nov 2014
shobhana kumar
quarter

there must have been
a hundred kites up
in the sky that day—
every colour and size
filled the dark, blue sky.

people set out
their picnic baskets
and brought out
their Sunday's best
behaviour and such.

all was well
until one little
red kite teased
and taunted
the three-times winner.
such impudence,
it took just seconds
to bring him down.

kite-hormones surged
and armies soon
took their sides.

strings were cut
kites were felled
as laughter died

minutes before
the winner was
announced,
a gust of wind
thought otherwise.

and so this year,
there was no trophy
to take home at all.

talk is abound
with plans
for the next fest
when kites will be painted
like country flags.

rumours are rife
as to who might win
against the sky.

15:01, 8 Nov 2014
charlie
sometimes I think should go prison, because I could murder a cup of tea.... anybody?

12:57, 8 Nov 2014
Hour of Writes
Hi Magnus! The notes don't connect to anything currently, but are in a state of aided evolution. You mark entries if you have entered the competition. The new title will be released last thing Sunday night / first thing Monday morning and you'll get an email when that happens!
Writing this to test a bit of fixed functionality with editing existing notes...let's see if it saves...

12:46, 8 Nov 2014
Hour of Writes
Some beautiful and thought-provoking pieces this week in response to 'What Is Treason?'. Don't forget to do your marking! Results on Wednesday. Looking forward to our www debut soon... x

22:59, 7 Nov 2014
Nicholas Gill
Beyond Treasonable Doubt

I didn’t want it to end this way. Of course not. But as the rope tightens round my gizzard I must confess to savouring the moment. For this is the final proof of my victim-hood and we would not have it any other way.

To strangle the life from this body is a more tangible murder than what I have done to my soul over the years with rusty knives.

I look at the virtual crowd on a vast screen above me, faces in the Cloud. It was a big selling point that a billion YouTubers could subscribe to the grand finale, and that I would watch them watching me watching them. The rope chafes my neck. I may be getting a rash. It worries me.

The black cloaked man that is a recording of myself continues to read the charges. It is clear, his wrinkled lip sneers, that I am guilty of failures and betrayals beyond all treasonable doubt. But treason against whom? Our brave boys who fought for the English language?

It is true that I never listened to the Word of my Teachers, the grey tank-tops charged with transmitting the tribal lore. I stared through the classroom window for ten years, cultivating succulent shoots of asparagus syndrome.

And then the years of my rebellion. When Royal weddings came I limply refused the general erection. As gleaming carriages passed by I wanted only to be a passenger on that Golden Gravy Train, not an on-looker. When the great arenas filled with human fragments of collective charitable hysteria I deserted to fields of absinthe green reading Keats beneath a tree. When the Soap Princess popped her diamond slippers I kicked the flowers all over the road and laughed when they locked me up. And you know what? I’m glad I done it.

And when they wanted cynicism I was sincere. And when they wanted sincerity I became heartless. And when sex became a cyber-product I found some real balls. I fell foul of the family nexus. Refused to consent to consensus reality. Systematically avoided the System.

As a youth my collars were always too tight. And to think I once contemplated clipping on a dog collar! This bow tie around my neck takes me closer to God. I’ve learned to tie my own, you know.

But when it comes down to it I might say that my greatest act of treason was to collude with all of you. To have suffered a thousand whips of rejection and given sanctuary to them all in this prison of laughing faces is the act of a man determined to overthrow his own State of Mind.

And if I don’t jump now, you’ll want your money back. But I ask you this. Whose face is this? Mine or yours? Did you dare to be yourself or did you sell your own body down the river a long time back? Whatever. I must think of a good last line.

“Minnesota Fats, you play a great game of pool.”

Not mine, but it will do.





21:56, 7 Nov 2014
Magnus
bloody cat's tapping at the window again

21:53, 7 Nov 2014
Magnus
loved Mother hood poem. Do the notes connect to the texts? how do I mark entries?

21:50, 7 Nov 2014
Magnus
navy blue, dark hue, the colour of old school shoes, scuffed. walls, why are you so blue and impermeable?

15:02, 7 Nov 2014
Lossie Laxton
The sound of a cushion being plumped....

22:21, 31 Oct 2014
MirisB
Before the party I was feeling slightly

22:52, 23 Oct 2014
writerUEFPLYNAYO
great comp guys

11:32, 15 Oct 2014
charlie
many minds manifest cityscapes like forests

16:38, 20 Feb 2014
Zygmunt
Winning entries from testing have started appearing on the site

00:59, 18 Feb 2014
inkrealm
i posted one of my earlier stories @ creatavist...
https://inkrealm.creatavist.com/story/10014#/

12:03, 15 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
I would have to dedicate part of it, to people who had influenced my life. My Nan passed away at 99 and had always been such an admirable person. I would have to post something there that she asked me to create - My tribute to the Queen.

12:00, 15 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
My Facebook movie would be on-going. A writer should always be able to create and share.

11:58, 15 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
This piece would certainly be there. As the first piece of poetry ever written by myself. It was sent to the guide dogs for the blind and recorded on tape for their members and followers to hear.
"Looking from the window,
On to the back lawn,
I watched with sheer fascination,
As the family were being born.
Jet is the oldest of the bunch,
The first one to arrive,
Without a doubt he's always shown,
The others how to survive,
Snowy who's the next in line,
Has a coat like new fallen snow,
She's always as bright as a button,
With big eyes that appear to glow,
Then comes Patch, such a sweet thing,
White from toe to tail,
With just an area of black around one eye,
A lovely looking male!!
He's followed closely by Toby,
Different again to the others,
He has a smashing curly coat,
And a temperament to match his mothers,
Then last of all but by no means least,
You come to my favourite of all,
Ben - looking cute and cuddly,
But alert at the quietest call.
That completes the Family,
What a beautiful picture they make,
Huddled close together,
With the puppies barely awake,
Dad is a lovely old dog,
Good natured through and through,
Mom is ever faithful,
A companion forever true,
Before we know it the puppies,
Will all have separate lives,
Where they will help people less fortunate,
By becoming their ears or their eyes.
It would have to be part of My Facebook Movie.

11:40, 15 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
Whenever I think of you
My eyes fill up with tears,
Especially when I think about those very happy years,
When yesterday was not important and tomorrow,
Just another day,
When hours flew by
like seconds,
In such a positive way.
But now that it all over and you are no longer here,
And I just sit and wish that your memory would disappear.

11:37, 15 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
It would contain footage of my nearest and dearest loved ones. Be full of poetry written by myself letters written from the heart

11:30, 15 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
I would like to think that My Facebook Movie would hold all the gems of my life - the fact that I had started up my own business at just 20 years of age and that it was still going strong 29 years later, having gone from strength to strength.

11:27, 15 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
This is a difficult one. To be honest, I have very little to do with Facebook. Nevertheless, I have been shown things on there by other people and sometimes, I really cannot believe things that have been put on there by others. They are normally things that individuals should really be embarrassed with or even ashamed of! You know, like people in badly fitting clothes, terrible make-up or embarrassing situations.

07:26, 15 Feb 2014
inkrealm
i started the hour of writes journey at the anniversary of the bombing of dresden...

22:38, 14 Feb 2014
Sophie Six
Hello everyone, spread the writing love! Happy writing!

22:37, 14 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
Looking back now 2014 was a beautiful year for me. I finally got over a previous love and found a new one, all in the space of twelve months.

22:36, 14 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
I felt a lump come to my throat just thinking about it. At which Simon decided to change the subject and tell me that he was divorced, had nine children all under 20 and was desperately looking for larger home. At that I said " I may be able to help you, I run the estate agents over the road".

22:31, 14 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
Well fancy you remembering my name I thought to myself. "It's a fair few, I have to admit". I remarked. We stood and talked for quite sometime. I commented on my last ten years and told him how I lost the love of my life in a car accident in 2003. He said how he had remembered the accident being in the local paper, together with the horrific photo. Peter had been in his red sports car on his way back to Birmingham, that day in October, when the incident with a vehicle trailer caused it to take the roof right off. The accident killed Peter outright.

22:25, 14 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
"It's been years Jenny hasn't it?" He commented. When we were at school, he was every girls dream. Lovely locks of blonde hair, broad shoulders and massive blue eyes.

22:23, 14 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
It was such a difficult game sometimes. Some people won. Others lost. Simon to me was and always would be an absolute winner. I remember the day we met. I was rushing round Asda in search of something wonderful for tea. I needed some brainpower. My English lit essay needed to be in tomorrow. The deadline. As I starred at the fish in oily sauce, rows upon rows of it, he excused himself to come by. We meet again in the vegetable isle and finally, just as I was reaching for a bag of Rocket, we actually touched!

13:21, 14 Feb 2014
Zygmunt
Has anyone tried making a voice note yet?

13:20, 14 Feb 2014
writerUEFPLYNAYO
Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain.

09:50, 14 Feb 2014
writerGAKBUVWUMQ
'...now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?'

22:44, 13 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
I couldn't believe it when I woke the next morning - there - again in his bed. All the regular signs surrounded me. Him lying half across me, and me showed right to the very edge of the mattress. Any empty Rose bottle on the bedside table along with my glass. God I was hot! Knew I would just have to get him off me. My cheeks flushed and my temperature soared!!

22:41, 13 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
There was just no escape. I could of kicked myself. If only I hadn't of come down to my favourite spot, I would of had the chance to disappear and be gone from his life forever.

22:39, 13 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
As I walked along the prom, trying desperately to avoid walking on all the fag ends and chewing gum, I suddenly saw him in the distance. He jumped in the air waving. "Jenny" he shouted. What did I do now I thought to myself. Well I couldn't just walk away, he was more than aware that I was there. I smiled and waved back.

22:36, 13 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
After finishing my chips I crunched the polystyrene cup within my hand. I moaned at myself, saying that I should be half way back around the harbour by now. Otherwise he would be coming to look for me. I fastened the belt on my coat and pulled up the collar. Looking out across the harbour, the water appeared to be getting rougher, as all the stationary boats bobbed up and down in the water.

22:29, 13 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
I now needed to know exactly what I was going to do. Should I stay and try to get my relationship with Paul to work, or to just walk away without him? It had to be my decision.

20:12, 13 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
Suddenly I was brought back to life by a large seagull overhead and a young couple trying desperately to stop him stealing their evening meal.

20:10, 13 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
Now the ball was in my court for a change. This really was my chance to do something about this dreadful situation. Was I brave enough to leave him? In my mind went through all the grief and hassle he had given me. I was no saint but I liked to think that I would be approachable. He would be able to tell me what he was really thinking. He didn't have to really hide how he was feeling. He could be honest with me and I would respect it.

20:06, 13 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
I stood there so unhappy watching the waves lashing against the shore.
My heart was heavy. Our love was strong.
Paul loved storms. I should think so too! We had had many of them. Most of them full of thunder and lighting. Overhead suddenly there was the biggest clap of thunder and the dark grey clouds were highlighted by the electricity of the lightning.

21:59, 12 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
What made it even worse, as though killing him wasn't enough, they had to do it in front of the children. Life is tough enough, when you have to have the difficulties of life put in front of you, but this was appalling. They saw one beautiful creature, full of grace, shot before their very eyes. What chance did a parent have of justifying that?

21:51, 12 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
Yorkshire Wildlife Park would of given him such a brilliant home. Enabling him to breed with his own species, as he looked across the Yorkshire Dales. What a perfect, perfect thought.

21:50, 12 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
My writing always comes from the heart, with the head correcting it as it is written down on the paper. My writing is often personal and I can feel extreme emotion when it comes to actually reading it aloud. This is certainly no exception.

21:36, 12 Feb 2014
Julie Callcott
Today I feel so different. Sick to the core. Marius was perfect and THEY were worried about him inter-breeding.

15:38, 12 Feb 2014
fletchski
There's a storm coming: not the towering grey walls that rise up out of the sea like clouds of ink, a dark madness growing within them, but a storm of opinion, of minds united, ready to crash down as one to wash this all away.

15:36, 11 Feb 2014
Zygmunt
Hello! You can publish notes to this ShowNotes feed by making a note and then clicking the padlock.

14:35, 11 Feb 2014
fletchski
They talk about the food: excited eyes spooning mounds of congealed, melted, cheese onto paper plates that buckle under the weight.

13:42, 11 Feb 2014
beckpat12
I love the idea that reading is thinking with someone else's mind

11:22, 11 Feb 2014
Miris
Líbera me, Dómine, de morte ætérna

10:20, 11 Feb 2014
writerUEFPLYNAYO
One of the most evocative passages from T. S. Eliot:

The winter evening settles down
With smell of steaks in passageways.
Six o’clock.
The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
The grimy scraps
Of withered leaves about your feet
And newspapers from vacant lots;
The showers beat
On broken blinds and chimney-pots,
And at the corner of the street
A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.

And then the lighting of the lamps.

16:50, 10 Feb 2014
Zygmunt
When I fell down into this place,
My father drew his whole day's pay,
My mother lay in a set-in bed,
The midwife threw my bundle away.

- W. S. Graham, The Nightfishing

01:05, 14 Dec 2013
Hour of Writes
It's late. I'm winding down. The fire is burning out.

11:01, 9 Dec 2013
Hour of Writes
We prioritise and give acclaim to things based on recommendations, even with literature. Publishers are like the appointed gatekeepers of the literary world who allow us to know we are not wasting our time when we read. The only point of reading something no one else has read is in order to know something they don't, or in order to seek to popularise the information therein.

22:48, 4 Dec 2013
charlie
Chemically, wood is a composite material of about 50% flexible ‘cellulose fibres’ (what paper is made of), glued together with about 30% ‘lignin’ (a biopolymer – a type of plastic). Lignin has this amazing property: that if you heat it to 100⁰C it softens just enough for the cellulose fibres slide against each other if some external forces are introduced. This means when the wood is hot, it can be squashed, stretched, compressed, split, twisted and bent to some degree without breaking it. When it cools the lignin sets, and when the wood dries the bend becomes permanent.

11:45, 30 Nov 2013
charlie
There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background

15:50, 20 Nov 2013
Hour of Writes
And we’re frozen
in the searchlight of
Cold water


My Notes