Category Archives: Writing 101

Found

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The wave of disbelief washed over her once again. She felt her breath catch in her throat, and fought desperately to focus on her surroundings. A lie. The worst kind of truth. She had asked the question. She had not realised the impact of the answer.
It had never been perfect. At best it had been fun, the giddy pleasure of being wanted, desired. She had been lonely, an emptiness carved by loss longing to be filled. Tired of being brave, she had welcomed his apparent strength, and had gradually succumbed to his words, his will. So gradually, she was unaware of her isolation until it had surrounded her completely. Family ignored, friends no longer calling.
“This is your family now,” he told her. “We are all that matter.”
She had begun to melt away, a snapshot blurred by drops of poison. The vibrant hair, the vivid make-up, the laughter, the childish joy, slowly wiped into a muddy sludge.
And with it, the constant accusations of lies. If she spoke, she lied. If she stayed silent, she lied by omission. She felt her grip on reality weakening, began turning ever inward.
Until she found the bag.
At first, she couldn’t make sense of it. She put it back, and left it there for days. Then opened it once more.
And then summoned the courage to ask him.
He told her.
And her world flipped over once more.

The Character Beneath

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shopThe store I worked for underwent an overhaul a few years ago. Having sat comfortably on her stoical British bottom for slightly too long, she had realised that the young pretenders had been quietly taking over the high street as she dozed. She was dragged back to her feet, dusted down, and buffed and polished to within an inch of her life. New work practices were devised by earnest young executives sitting in air-conditioned ivory towers, far away from the mêlée of the shop floor. Monday morning meetings became an endless list of new rules and regulations, to be rolled out across the shop floor by myself and other equally fraught, and, at times, incredulous floor managers.

These actions were understandable, all businesses need to move forward. But one factor hadn’t been taken into consideration. And that was those staff members of a certain age, who had grown up with the comfortable slipper feel of their workplace, and weren’t impressed by the sudden switch to blood red stilettos!

My food department became the proverbial rug, under which these blots on the new sleek appearance were swept. I didn’t mind. Because I ended up with some of the most glorious characters I have ever worked alongside!

Merci was a tiny pixie of a woman, eyes dancing with mischief, a deep voice rubbed raw by years of smoking. She played the dizzy card to great effect, but was in fact possessed of a rapier sharp mind, and outrageous wit. Her sparse blonde hair was the bain of her life, and barely a week passed where she wasn’t trying some bizarre treatment in the hope of suddenly developing a flowing mane. One memorable month she gamely massaged snail slime into her scalp, despite the merciless teasing she received. Her personal life was marked with tragedy, but she was the consummate professional, and it was never mentioned at work. Most glorious of all was her frequent habit of using entirely the wrong word, with hilarious results. My favourite was one very busy afternoon, the two of us manning the tills, with a queue that snaked across the floor. A tourist asked her if everyone in Gibraltar spoke Spanish and English.

“Oh, yes,” came the reply. “In Gibraltar, we are all bisexual!”

And then there was Jane. Almost a caricature of an English shop assistant, lank hair held back from her face by two grips, shirt always pulled and gaping across her chest. Slightly stooped, sensible shoes, short socks, vaguely crumpled. No matter how busy we were, she moved at Jane speed, a slow careful crawl, with a slightly nasal voice that matched perfectly her pace. Apparently always in a semi-comatose state, she in fact did not miss a thing, and managed her section with frightening efficiency. A keen sense of the ridiculous hid beneath her surface, and would bubble up in unexpected moments. What fascinated me most about her was her true love story, which she told me one quiet afternoon. Forced into a loveless marriage at sixteen, with a small child, she had met the love of her life when she was eighteen. She was on a rare night out with her younger sister, and saw him from across the dance floor. He asked her to dance, and one week later, she moved in with him, and never left. When she told me of the moment she knew he was the one, it brought tears to my eyes.

“He asked me to dance, and took my hand, and I knew at that moment that I never wanted him to let it go again.”

Beautiful.

Lost

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binShe pulled the door gently behind her, keys clenched in her right hand, the refuse bag clutched in the other. Her stockinged feet made no sound upon the stairs as she ran down the first flight, and spun on her heel towards the next. Suddenly the door above opened, and she felt her heart sink.

“You left this behind!”

A clattering thud, and her handbag landed on the steps beside her, its contents spilling out and skittering down to the next landing. She bent, and started to collect the scattered items.

“But I don’t need this,” she answered, “I am only throwing out the rubbish!”

She could hear the sneer in his voice as he mimicked hers.

I’m only throwing out the rubbish…….and meeting someone by the bins!! Do you think I am f**king stupid?!”

Handbag restocked, she climbed slowly back into view.

“Look at me,” she said. “I’m not even wearing shoes. I’ll only be a minute. You were asleep, and I saw no point in waking you up. Please don’t shout, you’ll wake the kids.”

He turned, and slammed the door behind him. Her breath escaped in a soft sigh, and she began the descent once more. The second her foot touched the first landing, she heard the door open again. She stopped, her whole body tensing.

“You may as well take this piece of rubbish too!!” he shouted, and the door slammed once more, this time followed by the clunk of the deadbolt.                                                                                                                                                                                             Wearily, she climbed the stairs once more, to be met with the bewildered face of her oldest son, eyes still puffy with sleep, barefoot and pyjama clad. The handbag and the refuse sack fell together as she sprinted up the last few stairs to gather him in her arms, and felt her heart break at his muffled sob.

My Lalalalalalalalala Songs

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music 1

Music is one of my greatest pleasures in life. I don’t play an instrument (except the recorder, which my kids insist doesn’t count) and I can’t sing a note. But I love the feeling of music running through me, if that makes any sense? It is almost like a current running through me, and brings me alive! I am a tad strange, it has to be said, because I also love being near fighter jets as they take off, because of the powerful roar that cuts through my chest!!

bowie

I have been doing a daily blog choosing a record for a different reason each time. Trying to pick just three records that are important to me is almost impossible, so I am going to go with two of my Lalalalala songs, and one that really means a huge amount to me.What do I mean by Lalalalala songs? Think of a child that doesn’t want to listen, with their fingers stuck firmly in their ears, trilling lalalalala!! That’s what these two tracks do for me. They block out the world and lift me right back up again.

i dont care

My original one was Scary Monsters and Super Creeps by David Bowie.That drowned out a lot of aggro over the years, played at full volume with my earphones clamped to my head. It has only recently been replaced by I Don’t Care by Fall Out Boy, which has exactly the right amount of bass and squirling guitars and my favourite line ever. “The best of us can find happiness in misery.”  That has become my mantra!! Without my Lala songs, I would have lost me forever. That is why they are so important to me.

never tear us apart

This other track is a song that kept me believing I would find my Torn-Apart. Called Never Tear Us Apart it was first released by Inxs, and the lyrics just blew me away, almost as if they had been written for me. And then, just before he found me again, Paloma Faith released her astounding cover. As if she knew!! There are many songs that make me think of him, but this is the only one I would have written for him.

The House

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lab stairsShe knew the house so well.  Pillars framing the intricately carved doors, with shining brass inset. The entrance hall, with its ornate tiled floor, that sent echoes of her heel fall running up the stairs that swept ahead. The kitchen, always bustling, where a hand wiped over a steamy window revealed the verdant green of garden that rolled down towards the river beyond. She had rolled on that slope, breath catching in her throat in delicious terror as she spun out of control, losing all consciousness of up or down. And had lain, chin propped in her hands, watching the moonlight dancing across water, listening to the whispered stories of the trees.

She knew it so well. Yet still found herself entering its heart, the labyrinth of stairs that snaked off in all directions, the gleam of polished balustrades providing the only light. Allowed the icy fingers of fear to lace themselves around her, and pull her on towards the room. The stately grandeur fading with each step, the smell of decay permeating every surface.

She knew the room. Too well. The single bed, its filthy sheets thrown in disarray. The water that coursed down the walls, leaving a slick sheen of slime in its wake. The bare rotting floorboards that fell away to an impenetrable blackness in the far corner of the room. Terror seized her heart, its blackened claws squeezing tightly, and she felt the scream rush into her throat……………….

and woke.

Freefalling

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writing

Hmmm! Twenty minutes of talking about anything. Sounds like my perfect assignment. I knew this would be a bigger ask than the last blog challenge, focusing as it does on my writing skills, and not just my ability to design a bit of artwork, or take a photo or fifty. But I want this really badly, I want to write endlessly. I had suppressed the urge, the itch in the back of my brain for so long, had a few painfully contrived attempts at writing as I thought I should, in a proper way, to suit other people, trying to please my imagined audience.

But then I found myself writing to someone who really knew me, who wasn’t phased by my madness, or fooled by my carefully crafted armour. I suddenly found myself being me again, letting the words flow, tumbling over themselves to escape, painting pictures, and weaving iridescent waves of laughter among the grimmest of moments. A delicious, glorious freedom.

Last week it almost stopped. I found myself under pressure to modify what I wrote, to sooth the ruffled feathers of those who  had perceived non-existent slights in my words. I felt deflated, almost tearful. But I decided to take no notice. If you don’t like what I produce, don’t read. Simples.

Hah!! Time up!!