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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Stumpy

No inspiration for a longer work at the moment but I have done a couple of bits but they are in silly little competitions here and there so I thought I’d post this. It’s a sad story – sorry.

Stumpy

They call him Stumpy. Not his mum, she calls him by his real name, Ryan, but the others call him Stumpy. Nobody remembers where the name came from. It’s not as if he’s particularly short and he has all his limbs intact. The name seems to have grown around him and there it is.

His limbs are intact but his mind, well his mind is a different thing. If the kids who teased him had possessed a modicum of intelligence it could have been that they realised his brain is stumped but that’s probably a bridge too far for them.

As a baby he seemed ordinary. Never pretty or charming and just a bit off, out of kilter somehow. His mum had been going to have an abortion and then virtually at the last minute she’d had a change of heart. A baby would get her a council flat and would get her out from under her dad’s thumb so “hey why not”. She didn’t let her condition curtail her drinking and she never thought that the other substances she came across could hurt the baby. It was safe inside her after all.

It was a while before anyone noticed that maybe he wasn’t quite as he should be. The health visitor had called just the allotted number of times. He was quiet and there were no bruises and she was busy. Tracy wasn’t one for spending time at the Well Baby Clinic when she could be up the shops or the betting place and the pub, with the pram in the entryway, and so he wasn’t monitored.

Tracy didn’t mix much with other mum’s and kids it wasn’t her scene. She was only seventeen and to be honest babies bored her. She kept him fairly clean and fed him enough to stop him howling and really that was about it.

The upshot of it all was that it wasn’t until he started at preschool that anyone realised there was something wrong. Tracy hadn’t spent time teaching him to count or read. She reckoned that’s what the government had teachers for. Well wasn’t it.

They tested him and they assessed him and they told his mum that he was educationally challenged and had learning difficulties. She though, had a new boyfriend and so other things to think about. As long as they let him go to school she was happy. He was out from under her feet all day and afterwards he just sat quietly staring at the television until bedtime.

There are teachers who are gifted and caring and even loving. They inspire their pupils to great things and even the less able blossom under their care. Ryan didn’t ever have one of those teachers. He sat in the back of classrooms. He was quiet and so he was let alone. He slipped through the gaping holes in the system, didn’t really learn to read. He could write his name in shaky scruffy letters and his numeracy stopped at simple subtraction.

He left school as soon as he could. He didn’t really graduate in any meaningful way he simply stopped going towards the end of his final year and really, nobody noticed.

He trailed the streets. Tracy had taken him to sign on for Job Seekers allowance. The staff there had made suggestions about other places that might offer him help but there was no-one to see it through and he couldn’t do it himself.

So there we have him Stumpy. The brighter kids picked on him, hyenas after the weakest of the herd. They made him do things that he didn’t want to, they took his money and they threw things at him. He wasn’t unhappy not really. To be unhappy he would have needed to have known happiness he simply existed in his lacklustre world, day to day.

Then he met Sally, she was small and bubbly and lively. She felt sorry for him, she was kind, she became his angel. Many long, wet days he would hang around in the cold outside her block on the off-chance that he would catch a glimpse of her. When he walked across the rec. and the other kids threw clods and called out she stopped them. She ran to his side and took his hand and made them leave him alone. Everyone liked Sally and they didn’t want to upset her. A lot of the older boys were simply biding their time, she was blooming, she was developing and they had plans for her future.

He followed her often. Sometimes she would see him and wait and walk with him, chatting and laughing and cheering his grey world and turning it into a brighter place.

On that Wednesday he had waited until she came out of college. It was a bad day for him, he was feeling edgy and awkward and so he didn’t call to her or show himself. He followed from a distance up the main road as she giggled and laughed with her mates. He waited in the cold while she sat in the café and drank coffee with Cheryl and Melanie. At last he had her to himself, she was crossing the rec. and he followed dogging her steps, faithfully worshipping.

Half way across the rec. Big Davy appeared from behind the skate board ramp. He was alone; she didn’t slow to talk to him. Big Davy wasn’t the sort of bloke girls stopped to pass the time with. He was rough and crude and a bully. She scurried past him and quickened her step, he kept pace. He grabbed at her scarf; she pulled it from his hand and pushed it into her shoulder bag. He put his hand on her shoulder, she shrugged him off but he clutched at her arm.

As she turned to face the bully Stumpy felt the anger rising, tears had sprung to his eyes, he was keening in despair. This was all wrong, he didn’t know why but he just knew it was wrong.

Big Davy grabbed at Sally’s coat she kicked him and started to yell. He threw his great arms around her and picked her bodily from the path. Ryan watched as his shining star was dragged behind the electricity sub-station where the shrubs grew thick and tangled. He could hear her shouting and he sensed the panic as the tone of her yells changed. He ran across the broken ground his lopsided lope carrying him to the rescue. By the time he made it to the dusty bank behind the little brick building Big Davy was inflamed and fired by his needs and his temper. He had dragged Sally’s stretchy pants down, he sat astride her and tore at her top. She twisted and coiled under his legs. She screamed and tore at his face with her nails but she was small and pinned to the ground by a powerful male with raging hormones.

Big Davy lashed out with his fist and connected with her face. Her head cracked to the side and she stopped struggling. The brute shook her, still she didn’t move. By now Ryan had reached them and he grabbed at the other boy who was starting to panic and push himself backwards from the inert little body with the torn clothes and the bloodied lips.

Ryan launched himself forwards with a wild cry, he grabbed Big Davy and dragged him back across the rocks and the rubble. Davy skewed himself round and clambered to his knees, using Ryan’s body as a hoist he drew himself upwards. With a glance at the body on the bank and the crying, snotty face of the idiot he ran. He ran to the high street and to the café where he made a big fuss of buying coke and a toastie and taking the sandwich back with a shouted complaint. He made sure everyone remembered him.

At the side of the recreation ground, behind the sub-station Ryan cradled the dead girl in his arms. His tears washed her bloodied face as her head flopped from side to side. His DNA rained down upon her skin and her blood smeared onto his top and pants.

They call him Stumpy in jail. Nobody knows why the name has just grown around him. He misses Sally and knows that he didn’t mean to hurt her but they told him he did, it must have been after Big Davy left. He didn’t tell them about Big Davy because he’s afraid of him now.

They don’t know what they will do with him but for the moment he’s not unhappy. To be unhappy he would have needed to have known happiness.

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The Homecoming – A piece of flash

I saw him coming, I watched. A dot, a stick, a shadow man and then he was there, real and whole and filling my eyes.

Before he reached the gate, long before, while he was still at the bottom of the road I had dropped the bunch of parsley I held and left it to wither on the grass. My feet took me forward first, just my feet and then my heart gave me wings and I flew to him. I sped through the gate, along past the field, startling the cows and sending up a swarm of flying things as I spread my arms to gather the joy of the moment.

Then, when he was but a short reach away the world stilled. His eyes flooded and his arms began to stretch to me. My hands wanted to touch him, to feel the silk of his hair, grown long while he was away, and the rough stubble on his chin. Still, though and still the depth of emotion stopped us and slowly now, slowly we trod.

One step, he was whole and perfect.

One step, there were tiny lines now around his eyes. Had they been there before?

One step, he had dropped his bag in the dirt at his feet.

One step, the scent of him now was in my nostrils, the green, fresh air, male taste of him.

One step, I touched his shirt, tentative, afraid, after all this time that I would break now that it was over.

One step, his arms lifted and wrapped me around and I was home – he was home.

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Poker Winner – a daft bit of fantasy – as you will see fantasy is not my strong point but it’s fun to read I reckon.

Poker Winner

Dust motes sparkled and danced in the muted beams of sunlight spearing across the tiny room. The budgie hopped and chittered in his little blue cage as the fire crackled and muttered in the cast iron grate.

Bennie pushed through the front door and lowered his aging bulk onto the threadbare easy chair. Sighing with effort he bent to unlace heavy boots.

Something in the atmosphere tickled at the back of his senses, something in the air porcupined the hairs on the back of his neck. Without raising his head he swivelled his eyes upwards under the bushy brows. Something was off, something was here.

He had waited long for this day, he had always known it would come.

The door at the bottom of the tiny staircase moved, it creaked and began to swing slowly, slowly inwards. She was coming, she was here.

Breath suspended, heart thundering Bennie gave everything over to instinct, he needed his weapon. In the hearth the brass Knight in Armour glinted pinkly in the fire light, inside the flip top helmet was a pair of tongs, a tiny shovel and the poker. He needed the poker.

The staircase door and the vestibule beyond were closer to the fireplace than he was, the door gap was widening, the dark maw gaping wider, as he watched.

His fingers flexed, his legs tensed, he had to reach it before she did, there was no time, he must move now.

He straightened in the chair and at the same moment threw himself forward, arms grabbing for the mock military figure. The door was flung wide and the tall, gracile figure floated free of the stairway. It moved with incredible speed across the floor, seconds became years as Bennie fumbled in the hearth. The figure blocked his path, wavering and shimmering, an ominous wraith, unchanged since the last time he had seen it so many years past now.

It had slain his brother, it had slain his father, slain and shredded and left to bleed like so much human chiffonade on the bright green grass of the Highland meadow and now it was come for him, come to finish the job, to kill him the last of his line and the last bastion in defence of the globe.

NO! with a visceral scream he pushed forward, through the veil of being, through the evil cloud of existence. He knocked the brass ornament flat on the green tiles of the hearth, in a desperate flurry of arms, hands, fingers and unearthly cloying vapour battle was joined. To lose now was death not just for Bennie but for every creature on the planet. The brass of the little poker was the only thing chance of victory, the metal of the small rod the only thing that could destroy the being. For this reason and this alone the Knight at Arms had waited over the years in front of the spitting coals and crackling embers.

The air in his lungs was thickening, the blood in his veins cloying and congealing, the room spun as clouds fugged his brain. He felt the vapour sliding into his nostrils, once inside his body the destruction would be fast and total. His fingers touched the fire warmed handle he clawed and grabbed, with the last vestiges of strength and lucidity he took it.

Like a sword he wielded it, jabbing and sweeping and slicing. The screams were unearthly the fury unspeakable and evil filled the world. Still he jabbed and gouged, The battle joined seemed to last for eons, they twisted, rolled and wrestled on the old red carpet in the tiny ordinary room, Bennie fought for the world and the being fought for domination and then suddenly it was done.

He lay, spent and battered on the hearthrug, his breath was laboured, eyes streamed and blood dribbled from his damaged nostrils but he had won, he had beaten it again. His last sight of the creature was a wisp of smoke as it fled through the flames and into the chimney but he knew, he knew it would come back, stronger and more determined and he had to be ready because once he was defeated it would be free to roam the world. He righted the brass cavalier and slipped the fire irons back into the slots, such an innocent looking household appliance but the only thing between “The Thing” and total world domination.

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