My Shadow (Poem)

Recently, I shared a piece of flash fiction about shadows. Now I have a poem for you, on the theme. It was inspired by this video.

Now, normally, I shy away from prompts. I have so many story ideas, I already can’t keep up, but poetry’s different. Because it’s so much shorter, I can have an idea for a poem and jump on it right away. They don’t build up, so I have none in reserve.

Since I’ve been writing a lot of poems lately, and I want to keep that going, I have been actively looking for inspiration for poems. As such, I’ve found this site which is quite good.

But that’s enough preamble. Here is my poem.

My Shadow

Light slips through
the dark cracks
They are substance
in themselves
Forming a mosaic

Cold parts are next to warm
there is every shade of color
Everything that is me
reflected

My shadow is what I will
leave behind

Into the Dark (Flash fiction)

At writers’ group last night, we set ourselves a challenge to write a story that included three prompts: a telephone, a black overcoat, and a Post Office. Here’s what I came up with:

Jack stumbled in through the door of the Post Office, tripping over the welcome mat on his way.

“Honey, I’m home!” he declared, sounding cheerful at first, but finding himself unable to stifle the catch in his throat over the word ‘home.’

It was an old Post Office from the 1940’s, no longer open the public. The place his grandfather had worked in all his life, and now the place where Jack lived. The ‘open’ sign still hung in the window, though it had faded beyond all recognition.

Staggering past precariously high stacks of books, Jack made his way to the small working kitchen in the back. The door fell off the fridge when he opened it, making the glass milk bottle in the door shatter, and two-week-old milk flood to the floor in clumps.

Two weeks. Was that really how long it had been? God! Jack sank to his knees, his head bending to the floor as sorrow weighed him down, before snapping up again as the smell of the milk clogged his sinuses. It sobered him, a little.

In the other room, behind the old customer counter, the phone rang, and Jack got to his feet once more. He took his time crossing the distance – pausing to wrestle his overcoat off his shoulders – having no doubt who would be calling him.

There were only two people in the world that called Jack, and one of them was gone, never to call him again. A fresh stab of grief jabbed at his breast, threatening to knock him down once more, but Jack fought it, managing to stay upright. Just.

Finally in the back office, he lifted the receiver and slurred a ‘hello.’

“Hello,” returned the voice on the other end of the line. The voice that could not be. That could never be again.

“Bernie?” Jack whispered, not daring to believe his ears.

“Yes, Jack, it’s me,” said the voice.

“Bernie!” Jack repeated, this time an exclamation. His face became animated, eyes focusing for the first time in a fortnight, before he paused. “But how?”

“Never mind that,” said Bernie, “It’s time.”

Jack smiled, making the corners of his eyes go up along with the curve of his mouth and releasing tears down his cheeks and onto his dried lips.

Slumping to the floor as he held the receiver to his chest, he recited Bernie’s name over again, reverently as his eyes closed.

“Bernie. My Bernie. You came back.”

Hel and Rebelle (Flash Fic)

Hel and RebelleI recently signed up to be a writing mentor for children and young people as part of an organization called Fighting Words Belfast and, in training for this voluntary role, a group of us went through the writing exercise that we would normally set the kids, to get a first-hand idea of what it’s like.

The gist of it is this: people suggest ideas for a main character, a secondary character (the best friend of the MC), a desire for the MC, and the MC’s main fear. These ideas then get voted on, and a story begins to be built around whatever combination of details that were picked.

My idea of a story about a pink-haired warrior princess with a helicopter for a best friend wasn’t picked, but I decided to write a little story about her anyway – mostly because my partner, who’s also a volunteer, was a little dubious about it…

Behold:

Rebelle was the last in a long line of warrior princesses, hailing from a tiny island, just off the coast of Estonia.
Insurgent groups had just overthrown her parents, and now she was fleeing for her life.
Her best horse was galloping at top speed towards her other best means of a getaway – her best friend, in a lot of ways – a helicopter, affectionately nicknamed Hel.
If grown men could love cars and spaceships, referring to them with female names, Rebelle saw no reason why she couldn’t do the same.
Hel was like a miniature, one-pilot version of a black hawk – completely Rebelle’s own design. A black sparrow, she called her. One of a kind.
But none of that would matter if Rebelle couldn’t make it to the waiting copter in time. She’d voice-activated it, via her wrap-around headset, and the blades were already whirring around – Rebelle could hear them even over the sound of Jasper, her horse, panting, and over the roar of the mob. Many of them were mounted on quad bikes, and Tracktor-Xes. If she didn’t keep up her pace, they’d soon steal her sliver of a lead.
Hel couldn’t come any closer to Rebelle by herself, obstructed by the forest as she was, but the engine was warmed up and ready to go.
Closing the final distance, Rebelle stayed on Jasper until the very last second, at which she had to jump from the horse directly through Hel’s open door. Her high ponytail got sliced off by a chopper blade in the action, leaving Rebelle’s pink hair to fall down over her eyes in a fringe.
With no time to mourn for it, she slammed into her seat and rose into the air even as her seatbelt came around her waist.
Jasper continued running, off towards the horizon, and she missed him already; knowing that she likely wouldn’t see him again, and hoping that he wouldn’t be caught, or trapped.
Rising higher and higher, the mob was now only a series of dots to Hel and Rebelle.
The princess flipped them the bird as she took off towards the freedom of another land.

Myths of Love and the Moon

Last week at my local writer’s group, we did a short writing exercise based on the series of prompts about the origins of myths (suggested here). Below is what I came up with:

Gerald and Mavis were sat on the beach, star gazing. Mavis had her head on her boyfriend’s shoulder, as she listened to his long-winded explanation of how the earth came into being.

Drifting in and out of sleep as he went on and on, she caught a few key words and phrases.

“…all started about a hundred years ago, you see… when the ice blasts died off, and the grass overtook everything else… water wasn’t discovered until much later, of course.”

“Of course,” she affirmed, groggily, before really processing the words.

Ice blasts, grass, and then water? Her eyes scrunched up at the thought. Either she was more tired than she realized, and had misheard rather a lot, or her boyfriend was an idiot.

Surreptitiously, she forced herself awake enough to check the flask that had rested between them for any signs of alcohol.

All the while, Gerald carried on. He was talking about the moon now, and how it changed shape because of the fluctuating pressure of the sun.

Mavis was wide-awake now, staring at him.

Finally noticing this, Gerald paused. “Are you alright, dear? Don’t you find the moon fascinating?”

Shaking her head, Mavis held up her finger and pressed it to his lips, in an effort to halt any more words from escaping.

“Firstly,” she began, “The moon doesn’t actually change shape, it just looks like it does and-”

Gerald pushed her finger aside to ridicule her. “Don’t be ridiculous,” he said. “Things are exactly as they appear. You don’t believe in the airy-fairy nonsense they teach kids on TV these days, do you?”

Suddenly horrified at her taste in men, Mavis did three things: one, decided not to let her friends pick out blind dates for her ever again; two, to start making potential suitors take aptitude tests and, three, she stood up.

“Gerald,” she said.

“Yes, my dear?”

“That thing you’re looking at?”

“Yes?” he said again.

“It’s a satellite.”

They drove home in silence.

Upon a Flight to Vegas

This evening at Belfast Writer’s Group we rolled a dice, which decided story prompts for us to run with. So, the fates decided we were to write a coming of age tale that included an invisibility device, set on a plane, with a main character who an alcoholic carpenter, and another character who was an unsuccessful salesman. The following is what I came up with, in the space of a half-hour:

Alex was a carpenter from Minnesota, on his way to Vegas to celebrate his most recent divorce. With him was his best friend, Jack, an unsuccessful salesperson of no fixed address. Together they would conquer the world, or get drunk trying.

“I’m telling you,” Jack insisted, as he leaned over the sleeping lady sat in between him and Alex, to yell in Alex’s ear, “It makes you invisible. Amazing technology! You should invest before it goes big.”

Alex gave a dismissive wave of his hand, consequently knocking both of his drinks over the lady in the middle seat. She didn’t stir.

“Now look what you made me do!” he slurred, before pressing the button for the hostess, then looking up and down the aisle. “Where is she? What are we paying her for? People here need drinks!”

“Alex, no. Alex, listen, you have to here this. Invisibility, it’s the future!” Continue reading

Character Assassination

I’m a member of Belfast Writer’s Group, and during a meeting a while back I suggested the following writing prompt:

Pick a fictional character you detest and kill them off.

Simple as that, but bonus points if you could do it without specifically naming the character and yet have everyone know who they were just from your description. My own response to the prompt is below. Not only should you be able to guess who’s being killed, but who’s doing the killing. Here we go:

Sparkliness. Idiocy. Creepiness. Those were his three main crimes – in that specific order. He was everything both a boyfriend and a beast should never be, and it was why she hunted him; why she had to end the mockery he was making of the real monsters that defined her existence. With walking around in broad daylight – albeit under heavy cloud, which she so did not appreciate – he was easy to find. The difficulty only really lay in deciding the best way to dispatch him.

After having thoroughly considered all of the classics, she didn’t think any of them quite seemed right. In being the antithesis of everything he should represent she decided that his death should be equally unnatural.

A railroad spike replaced her usual stake, Bourbon was picked in place of holy water, and fire was kept as a staple, though in a different form than she would usually use it. After beating him around the head with a statue of Buddha, she pinned him in place with the spike, poured on the alcohol, and let the Zippo lighter finish the job.

Disclaimer: this is just for fun. No offense is intended, if the fictional character I don’t like is one that you love.