Mid Week Flash – Ocean Dreams

It’s week 25 of Miranda Kate’s Mid Week Flash challenge, and illness, work and general life chaos has meant I haven’t been able to participate as much as I’d have liked to, but this week’s image really spoke to me. Anyone is welcome to join in, the general guidelines can be found here.
This week’s prompt:

 Ocean Dreams
 
 

We dreamed of going to the ocean. She had this romantic ideal of walking on a moonlit beach, hand in hand, listening to the roar of the unseen sea. Our dream sustained us through the long, hard years we couldn’t be together, when our relationship was built of dreams and texts and snatched moments. We were going to go to the ocean.

They say life’s a bitch, but she’s got nothing on the twisted sense of humour Fate has. Finally together, finally able to touch instead of talk, to kiss instead of dream. We were finally going to the ocean. Packing up the car together, all excited.  She looked like a painting, the light on her face too perfect to be real. I kissed her, then turned away to load the last bag into the boot. When I turned back, she was on the floor, lifeless, hair sprawled in the mud.

Three months later, life is drained of colour. She smiles through the pain and the sickness and the exhaustion, brave little stoic smiles, drained of their warmth. Every time I walk down this disinfectant scented corridor I hear the doctor telling us “I’m very sorry, it is terminal. We can make her comfortable…” and I have to swallow my anger, my pain, my disappointment, push it all down into the pit of my stomach and try to have my smile ready for her. I can’t let her down.

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Mid Week Flash – In The Mirror

My next offering for Miranda‘s Mid Week Flash challenge. The General Guidelines can be found here.
This week’s prompt was taken in a former, now abandoned, TB sanatorium in Grabowsee, Oranienburg, Germany, which is a little north of Berlin. It was taken by someone over on Flicker called Michael.
In the Mirror

They say I’m mad, but I’m not. That woman in the mirror isn’t me.

Oh she looks like me, no doubt. Whenever someone is looking, she mimics me perfectly. Then when they turn away her blank expression twists into a malicious grin, she gives me a seductive little wink, and my blood runs cold.

I know she’s up to something. I don’t know what. They all think I’m mad, but I’m not. That woman in the mirror is not me.

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Mid Week Flash Week 3 – The Beat Goes on


My next entry for Miranda Kate’s mid week flash challenge, inspired by this guy:
 
 
 The picture prompt this week is by  Ekaterina Zakharova, a Russian photographer who named him ‘1Fairy’. You can find more on her Deviant Art page.

The General Guidelines for the mid-week flas challenge are here.  
 
 
The Beat Goes On
 
The trouble is, no one believes in fairy tales anymore.
Back when I was a kid, some people took them seriously. My Nan did, certainly – she left cream out for the little folk, touched wood, sprinkled salt, and always warned us to stay on the paths if we ventured into the woods. She even gave me a tiny iron horseshoe to keep me safe. I should have kept it.
But nowadays, with our lives so dominated by social media and selfies sticks and double shot mocha cappuccinos, we are lulled into a false sense of security. The woods are just somewhere I jog through, not an otherworld of mystery and magic.
I was panting along, well on course to beating my personal best, the only sound the slapping of my feet on the path, the thudding of my blood in my ears. I was totally in the zone. Then I noticed the annoying little stone in my shoe.
 
I tried to ignore it, but after a few steps I realised I couldn’t. Look after your feet, and they’ll look after you. If I ignored it, I’d get a blister, and that would totally mess up my training.
I reluctantly stopped,  and stepped off the path to sit on a convenient log and sort it out. As soon as I sat, it was like the volume had been turned up on the world. Suddenly I could hear the wind sighing through the canopy, the birds calling to each other. The sun was warm on my back and the air smelled so sweet. I lingered too long, breathing in the magic of the woods.
Then I heard it – or maybe felt it, I’m not sure. The steady beating of the drums, the low, intoxicating oboe, the high, infectious pipes that made my toes tap. I should have stayed on the path. Nan warned me. But I wanted to see where the music was coming from.

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Mid Week Flash Challenge Week 2 – Blue Sky

Blue Sky

I’m coming in to this party fashionably late , since it’s week 2, but this is my piece for Miranda Kate’s  Mid-Week Flash Challenge.

The picture is the prompt, and is by Kasia Derwinska, a polish art photographer.

It’s the picture that keeps me going.

Because fuck, it’s dark here. There’s no end to the desolate, barren emptiness. It stretches on and on forever, but at the same time it’s closing in so tight that if I stop and think about it for a second, falter even a moment, I won’t be able to breathe.

I focus on the picture.

It gets me through the screaming silence, keeps me going through the blackness, when all is dust. It is my talisman against the aching fatigue of battling on. It reminds me that smiling is possible, here where I have forgotten how.

I focus on the picture in my mind.  Nothing fancy – I don’t want much. Just one foot in front of the other, just like now. Only the sky is blue, and the air is sweet and I can breathe again. Smile again. See the world in colour again.

I focus on that picture – blue skies to temper my storms, a life lived in colour, with feeling – I hang it in the foreground of my mind, and I keep on walking.

I focus on the picture, and I refuse to give up, and curl up, and disappear.

One day I will have my blue sky.

The Clock Strikes Christmas – An Alternative Christmas Tale

“You have to understand, we didn’t want this” said Berry nervously. “Every elf in the workshop chose this job because we are passionate about bring hope, joy and laughter to people all around the world-“
“Yet here you are, threatening to strike days before Christmas” said Santa, stroking his beard. Something about the movement made Berry nervous, reminding him of a Bond villain stroking a cat. “Happy to disappoint every child in the world, and for what? To make some kind of political point?”
Berry tried to swallow his nerves. He wished more than anything that it hadn’t been him that drew the short candy cane.
“With respect sir, it isn’t about the politics. Whether we agree with the expansion or not, things just aren’t workable as they are.” He scrambled around for the words to explain, words that would make him understand. Santa rarely visited the shop floor, preferring instead to sit in the grotto with his sexy secretary Mrs Claus and some of the perkier elves, counting out cookies and mince pies and basking in the adoration of the masses. He rarely saw the worker elves sobbing with exhaustion as they tried to work out how to craft the latest piece of gadgetry.

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Sixteen sixteen word love stories

I’m playing around a lot with micro fiction at the moment (a much longer piece is on its way) so I thought I would share some with you. I love the challenge of trying to write very short stories. Some of them are ripe for expansion; Protection has already been made into a much longer story for Strange Times.

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Bittersweet Memory

First published in my old notebook February 8, 2014

Bittersweet Memory

My daughter exists only here now, trapped in this yellowing photo, her features scarred with fold marks caused by her long imprisonment in my wallet.

The memory of her face hovers at the back of my mind; a vibrant sweetness that I can’t ever touch again. This likeness is but a pale reflection of all she was. I hate it for not capturing her essence, but it’s all I have now. I cling to it like a lover that I’ve lost interest in, but daren’t give up.

Will I still carry this imitation in my pocket and my heart when it stops conjuring her in my mind? Will I ever forget the perfection of her smile? Will the trust in her eyes fade to a shadow of a dream?

I can’t imagine ever casting it aside, even though it just taunts me with my ultimate failure. It will be my personal millstone forever.

I fold the photo back into its tiny, safe square again, hold it to my lips. My fingers grip it tight, pinching like I’m trying to stem blood from a wound. I wish I’d held on to her small hand this tight in that crowd all those years ago.

I wrote this story for the monthly writing competition in the Amazon Kindle Owners group on Goodreads. The theme was “old photos” and the word count limit was 200 words.  I was  surprised and delighted when it won.