A Blot on the Pane – You can be a bit too fussy when it comes to cleaning.

It was a tiny spot really, just a smear of grease. Possibly it was the remains of a little squashed fly, snuffed out in the middle of its existence, hmm, maybe. I tried to ignore it, I turned away but each time I passed it was there and it called to me, mocking me. Huh – you think you’re perfect well look you left a smear, you left the innards of a tiny creature daubed across the glass, spread over the shiny, newly cleaned window.

Well in the end I gave in, I had always known that I would and if I’d done it right away – well who knows maybe the outcome would have been different. Of course me being me I chose the most inconvenient time to let it get to me, just as I was waiting for the girls to arrive, that was it of course, pride, my downfall just as my grandmother always said it would be. I knew that the car would be turning into the road any moment, no time to fetch the bucket and the squeegee, no time to bring the steps up from the basement.

I thought that if I just used the spray cleaner and a piece of kitchen towel, I could wipe it away, the stain on my beautiful glass. I sprayed the fluid onto the tissue, I climbed on the stool. Now, it might have been okay if I had used the chair but the chair was by the table the stool was by the window.

It wasn’t quite high enough but I thought that if I put the little box, the one that I keep my candles in, on top then I would be able to reach. It’s solid wood, I forgot about the warping on the base from that time when the room flooded when I left the window open, yes the same window as it happens. Huh.

If I had tested it for steadiness before I climbed maybe I would have noticed but I could see the car turning the corner. I clambered up and balanced on the lid of the box, I rubbed the window with the paper towel, the stain was sticky and it didn’t dissolve, not at first, it just spread and so I had to reach further over towards the doorway. If I had just held onto the window frame I might have got away with it but I had just had my nails done, scarlet, a slutty colour my granny always said, she would have said trying to clean one little bit of window instead of doing the job properly was slutty as well.

I leaned just a tad too far, the shift in weight wobbled the box, I tried to regain my balance but jerked too hard the other way, the box rocked, the rocking box shifted the stool, the movement of the stool caused one of the legs to slip on the polished floor. I grabbed out, I think I screamed, I probably screamed. The stool shot from under the box, the box crashed to the floor and for one endless silent moment I was suspended, the world slowed, time crawled by, treacled reality until I hit the glass.

It should have been safety glass, if the builders hadn’t cut costs it would have been. As my head hit the window time regained its normal momentum, there wasn’t any pain, not then anyway. I felt my head smash through as if it wasn’t really a part of me, just a delusion. Then I felt my body thud and bump as I careened downwards and outwards bouncing on the window sill and the fancy coving. If we had taken the apartment on the ground floor I might have got away with it but I wanted the view, to be above the heads of passers by.

The air was cold, shockingly, it is raining slightly.

I can see the girls now, Melanie is leaning beside me, I think she is holding my hand. Carol is screaming into her mobile phone, and the others are just milling around. I’m really sorry to have upset them like this, I really am but I don’t think it really matters much any more because they are drifting away now or is it me, oh yes I think it’s me.

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Paragliders.

paragliders

Well I guess it’s raining men!!

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Connection at last. On and off and on and off and on and…

Well after one week on holiday and almost one week off line with a broken modem it seems like an age since I was last here.

I will now have to spend quite a time catching up etc.

So, for now I will upload a couple of our lovely, lovely holiday piccies and a story that I have just had published on Shortbread

The Northern Lights

(Fan Fic Alert – this has a bit of a nod to George RR Martin and his White Walkers.)

I don’t know who you are but there are things I must ask of you.  First though,   thank you for discovering these papers.  I can’t know what else you have found, what is left of me up here in this lonely place.  If what you have seen will haunt your nights and torment your mind then I am deeply sorry, I would not have wished for that.

Please, if you can, take the envelopes in this box and post them for me.  They are for my family in London.  My dear family who didn’t want me to come.  They never understood my need to travel alone to this remote part of Sweden.  They had long despaired of my incessant drive to seek out and see the wonder that is the Aurora Borealis.  Please send them my letters.  They carry my love and my regret for the hole I have torn in their quiet lives because of my obsession with natural phenomena.

I have been a seeker of nature’s blessings for years and have reaped bounty upon bounty.  I have thrilled at the vision of comets fizzing through the heavens.   I have watched burning dawns flood scarlet deserts, blue moons and dark eclipses of the sun that caused the birds to roost and the world to chill in the middle of a summer day.  I swam with rainbows of fish over reefs of glowing coral and I have walked into a glacier and marvelled at its cerulean beauty.  I have seen the green flash at sunset and the flight of cranes against the autumn sky.  My heart soared as I played with dolphins in tropical waters that twinkled with the glitter of magic.  Always alone, no dilution of the experience. There has been so much more and yet for me the crowning glory was to be the Northern Lights.

I meant no harm.  I wished to take nothing with me save my memories and photographs and, like the careful traveller I have always been I tried to tread gently on the precious earth. I don’t know what I did.  I don’t understand.

As I write this now, I can hear them.  The low, low hum of them coming and I have no more matches and the fire has died.  I have no light save that of the gibbous moon and I can hear them coming.

Last night I fended them off with burning brands.  They are afraid of flame.  I pray that whoever you are you have fire.  Guns are of no use, knives are helpless.  There was a rifle here when I arrived.  In a box and intended for protection.  It was no protection; only the blaze of living flame fought them back.

If you still have daylight, leave now.  Do not waste a second.  Do not believe that you will be safe, even if you are with a group.  Their numbers swell until the forest is obliterated by them and the air is alive with the thrum of their steps.

Oh leave, leave now and take my letters and tell them of the horror that is here and tell them that none must come.  Tell the world that these forests and these magnificent, sparkling fields are cursed and must be left to the terror that walks the snow.

May heaven help you and deliver you safely from here.  I am going to go out and face them tonight, I will not meet my fate cowering in the corner like a whipped dog but I am sore afraid.  Pray to your God for my soul.

I am going.

Holiday pics!!

sunset b

 

sunset a

 

shadow

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Hey Tonia

Arcachon is a big boating community and they do look gorgeous sailing out to the ocean.

I spotted this one and it made me think of your super book, Blue Diamonds. Tonia Marlowe – I bet this boat isn’t as beautiful as the one in your story but it was blue and it was a boat!!

 

CIMG2384

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We’re back. A couple of poems and a picture.

So, arrived back from the seaside last night to find that the interweb was broke – it wasn’t me.

Tons of sorting out to do and the tent is covered in tree sap from the pine trees so that’ll need a clean.  However, one lovely surprise was that my little Poem The Wedding Gown got the most votes in the Flash Poesy competition on Authonomy so, without further ado here it is.  I was absolutely thrilled that it was so well liked.

 

The Wedding Gown. 

It draws me from my slumber
A spectre in the night.
The moon has found the buttons
And sprinkled them with light.
I cross my lonely bedroom,
The boards are cold and bare
And I reach into the corner
For it still is hanging there.
My fingers stroke the satin,
The ancient, precious lace.
I hold it close against me
A cloud upon my face.
The train it falls in wavelets
Folds so pure and white
But the garland made of rosebuds
Is dark against the night.
Now tears of sadness blind me
As I turn and walk away
Never and forever will it be our wedding day.


Where we stayed at Pyla there are wonderful sunsets and the residents on the camp site gather on the top of the dunes to watch each night.  It is a special moment, often there is a particular atmosphere as many nationalities gather together to watch the display.

We have lots of photographs and I’m going to post some but here is just one taken at random for the collection. (If you want any of these as clean copies (without the teeny watermark, just drop me a line and I’ll email it to you)

sunset 1 web large

This made me think of the Villanelle that I did a week of so ago.

Flight

The geese are leaving in the evening light
I want to hold them and not have it so
Beat on beat on into the endless night

My life goes with them as they take to flight
Skeins and ribbons in the fading glow
The geese are leaving in the evening light

The stars are glimmering like diamonds bright
The moon will soon put on its magic show
Beat on beat on into the endless night

I watch them now until they’re out of sight
My eyes are streaming as I see them go
The geese are leaving in the evening light

I won’t be here to greet the new spring flight
I feel my heart now as it starts to slow
Beat on beat on into the endless night

I watched them soaring in the shadowed height
I feel the life force cease its vibrant flow
The geese are leaving in the evening light
Beat on beat on into the endless night.

 

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still on holiday.

Sun,sand,sea and sunsets.  Watch this space for amazing photographs.

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A Shot in the Dark

He isn’t sure, doesn’t want to be actually, he’s been ignoring the hints and the signs, no that’s not accurate, he’s been looking for hints and signs and then ignoring them.  Well the truth, the absolute truth is that he doesn’t want to know, doesn’t have any desire to examine the thing. 

It’s like when you think you feel a lump, on your neck, on your balls whatever.  First of all there’s the cold water in your face shock, then you fiddle a bit more and convince yourself it’s getting bigger, then you try and be logical and convince yourself it’s getting smaller.  Then you go to bed and worry about it for hours in the dark and next morning you get up and the blamed thing has gone, or was never there in the first place.

That’s what it’s like, he found her phone and there was a message, he had no idea what made him open it, that’s just wrong of course it is, decent people don’t do that.  It’s kind of immaterial now anyway, but he shouldn’t have done it.  Perhaps that’s it; maybe this is a punishment of some sort.  Maybe he didn’t fulfil some sort of cosmic criteria, didn’t reach some score set by the universe and so blam! The cold water moment.

Well for a while he convinced himself it wasn’t anything, like the lump that wasn’t a lump on his left testicle.  Okay, it looked suspicious.  Karen, can’t wait for Friday.  Longing to see you again.  Hugs xx Charlie.  So he’s done the whole gamut of emotions, anger, fear, sadness, more anger.  Surely after all they’ve been through together she’s not having an affair, not his Karen, not his girl.  She can’t be.

Turning to her in the early light, while she’s still sleeping, her mouth slightly open and her hair awry, but beautiful to him, gorgeous, he feels the tears welling up.  No God, if you exist, don’t let this happen, not to me and Karen.

She stirs, mumbles slightly in her sleep, to his shame he tries to listen without disturbing her, is she muttering a name.  Is she seeing someone else there behind her fluttering eyelids, there in his bed, their bed?  Is someone else holding her invisibly, virtually beside him?

She opens her eyes, smiles at him, the sun comes out. His heart is breaking, shattering, splintering, it is actually painful, the lump in his throat is the size of an orange. 

 It’s Friday and he has to act, to do something, say something.  What? how can he ask her, what can he say that won’t devastate their relationship, what words can he use that won’t explode a grammatical grenade, fragmenting the trust and lacerating the love.  

 A shot in the dark, that’s all it can be.  “D’ya want to go out tonight, after work, a drink, dinner?”  His breath is stilled, stunned with fear he waits. 

 “Yeah, great, lovely.  Only thing is.”

 Finger nails draw blood in his palms, “What? problem? You have something else on?”

 “Well, yes, d’ya remember Charlotte, from Uni, blonde, from Aus.  She’s in UK and I said I’d meet her, doesn’t matter though, we can all three go.  It’ll be fun, you always fancied her.”

 The End

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Villanelle – Blimey that was hard.

so the Flash poetry thread I am currently enjoying gives us a challenge each week.  Hence the Sonnet a while ago.   This week the challenge was to write a Villanelle.  

I had never heard of one.  Sorry Stephen I know it’ll be in your book The Ode less Travelled but I haven’t got to it yet.  The form is very very specific.

 

 

This is the instruction we were given.

Five stanzas of three lines
One stanza of four lines.

The first stanza sets up the refrain – with a non rhyming line between.

This refrain is repeated – as the last line of stanza two 

And as the last line of stanza three so they skip to the bottom of the following stanzas in turn and then in the final stanza of four lines, they make up the last two lines.  The middle lines of each verse rhyme with each other. 

If you have read that you see my problem – in fairness to lovely Cariad who runs the thread she gave us an example. 

I love poetry.  I love my computer.  I almost ended up throwing the thing out of the window. I just couldn’t get it, it made no sense to me at all.  And yet, it had to be possible and the work that people were posting was lovely but I just couldn’t do it. 

Suddenly, it clicked into place.  It’s like everything else, once I had it I couldn’t see why I had been so dumb.  

Anyway.  This is the result.  I was quite proud of it to be honest. 

Flight

The geese are leaving in the evening light
I want to hold them and not have it so
Beat on beat on into the endless night

My life goes with them as they take to flight
Skeins and ribbons in the fading glow
The geese are leaving in the evening light

The stars are glimmering like diamonds bright
The moon will soon put on its magic show
Beat on beat on into the endless night

I watch them now until they’re out of sight
My eyes are streaming as I see them go
The geese are leaving in the evening light

I won’t be here to greet the new spring flight
I feel my heart now as it starts to slow
Beat on beat on into the endless night

I watched them soaring in the shadowed height
I feel the life force cease its vibrant flow
The geese are leaving in the evening light
Beat on beat on into the endless night

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Feedback – Ghost Written

So, I use two websites I use Shortbreadstories.  It is a wonderfully friendly place the members are always supportive, kind and generous.  I love it there.

I also use another site.  On that site the members can be brutal, they can be rude and offensive and they can be pretty obnoxious to be honest.  But, many of them are not, they are kind and supportive just as my friends on Shortbread are.

So, in the last week I have had – oh what shall I call it – an issue – yes, I have had an issue with a member on the other site.  She has for whatever reason declared war on me, she doesn’t like me and therefore of course she doesn’t like my work.  We writers are like that!!! (sometimes)

Anyway I had recently re-uploaded an old piece from here, Ghost Written and I was hoping for some feedback. Well, what actually happened was that this other lady decided to mark the piece down so that effectively it would be viewed as worthless and no-one would read it. She is of course entitled to her opinion.  It is possible that she did indeed, as she claims, read the book and hated it.  The actual on site rating that she gave me is quantified as “Awful – only good for pulping”  – Harsh I know but, well anyway.

Of course we had a bit of a to and fro and handbags and so on and then I thought oh this is just silly and left it but, it did me a sort of favour in that it made me go back and look at the work with a more critical eye – maybe I should indeed thank her.

I spent a couple of hours today re-reading it and well to be honest I just don’t know.  I like it, I know that it needs an edit and a bit of tidying up here and there, it was never offered as “finished” but I just wondered.  If any of you could be bothered.  What do you reckon.  Is this worth any effort.  I had thought that I might self publish it as a novella but if it is indeed “only fit for pulping” well perhaps that’s exactly what I should do.

Be Honest!

Ooops – hold on there is a glitch with the pdf.  – Give me a moment – thanks – Ashen – Course of Mirrors

ghost written cover

Okay I think that should be okay.

  Ghost Written

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Lissa’s Flight

This is a sequal to a dystopian (sort of) story I wrote some time ago.  (Lissa’s Moment)

This is also available on Shortbread Stories

Lissa’s Flight 

Lissa felt old.  Her bones were tired and her soul was weary. Mama and Papa had been gone a long time now and she had spent countless years alone in the dark, cramped place where they had all existed. 

The three brief occasions when she had gone “up top” were her dearest memories.  In the deep of the night when the gangs roamed outside the draughty windows and the spotlights from the Enforcer’s wagons slid across the walls, scaring the cockroaches and scorpions she would close her lids and take her thoughts to the sun-kissed meadow and the startling blue of the sky. 

A dream, a memory and a wish. 

She fought to hold back the bitterness.  It was right that the young should go.  If there was any chance to save humankind it must be breeders who were shepherded aboard the ship that was ferrying them to the new place in the mountains. 

She had heard about it.  In quiet mutterings at the feeding halls she had heard whispers of birds and flowers.  The pilots came back with little pots holding soil and tiny struggling plant life.  She had never had the money to buy one but she had seen them and smelled the perfume and one magic moment she had stroked the delicate, pale petal of a bloom.  Soft it was like the worn fabric of Mama’s wedding dress. 

She had stroked a feather once.  The pilot had taken his payment for the tiny gift in a damp and stinking alley and she had bled and the soreness lasted for days but the memory of the slick softness under her fingers and the echo of freedom that the tiny plume held made the pain worthwhile.  After all there was no other man to take her and it didn’t matter any way. 

If there had been a man.  If she had been chosen to breed then maybe her children would go now to the place where the air was pure and the water ran gurgling and splashing through untainted meadows.  But there was only her and she was to stay and die in the dark. 

The ship left every twenty seven days.  When it was time the night was filled with the rumble of people carriers in the street.  Times she felt brave enough she pulled the blind away from the window and peered out into the darkness to watch the lights as the great dome doors opened and the ship lifted, smooth and majestic towards the heavens.  What would it be like to sit on there and to know that the daylight and the sunshine and the birdsong were to be your everyday?  How would it feel to know that the starlit cupola of night could be viewed whenever the mood was upon you? 

Tears leaked from under her wrinkled lids.  Her heart cracked just a little more as she regretted yet again the dark sheen of her hair.  Hair that Mama insisted was beautiful.  How could it be when the shadowed softness was the very reason that she had not been chosen to breed.  If her curls had been golden then she would have been allocated a mate, then she would have seen tiny babies with pale skin and blue eyes running to her in the family sector and maybe she would have been chosen to go with them as a carer. 

The gong was sounding.  The golden couples and the blessed babies would be on board and soon the sky flaps would open and the great ship would leave again.   They called it an ark from some left over story from the “Other Times” an echo of a myth about escape and salvation – it had another name. Noah. Noah’s Ark.

 She dragged back the blind and pried open the creaking windows.  The shouts of the enforcers were instant but she paid them no heed.  She was old and tired and sad and she would go now when the Ark left, she would go to the mountains and the meadows and the bird song.  Her old joints complained as she clambered onto the ledge unused muscles quaking in the darkness.  Arms outstretched like the pictures of the birds Papa had shown her she waited for just the right moment.  As the engines fired and the magnificent ship lifted towards the heavens Lissa flew from the ledge into the darkness and found her sunshine. 

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