Tag Archives: short story

Writing Prompt: Memory

This is a writing prompt from Spiders Group from about a month ago. I just stumbled over the file I saved it in and thought I would share. I guess the “she” in this story is me, because this is how I feel whenever I leave Sydney and travel back to visit my parent’s property in Queensland.

 

 

The smell of hot dirt and eucalypts scented the wind, the din of cicadas drumming their drums filled the air. A shadow of a storm haunted the horizon, heralding a welcome end to a hot summer day.

She thought back to a summer long ago, when she had last walked down this meandering, dusty track. She’d had such expectations of the path ahead of her.

She had forgotten how vivid and alive the Australian bush could be, how many shades of grey and brown could herald life. She inhaled deeply, drawing astringent, savoury oxygen into her starved lungs. How clean the air was out here. No smog, no odours, no scents associated with man. Just the scent of eucalypts, dry dust and sweet grass. It was Life, in all its glory. Of course, most people wouldn’t have seen it that way. They didn’t really understand the land. They didn’t understand that verdant green grass was rare, and it was all the more beautiful for it. They didn’t understand how many browns, greens, yellows and greys could make up one dry husk of grass. They didn’t see the beauty in a waving sea of dried grass blades, or understand how the feel of hot dust under one’s bare feet could be so invigorating. She thought back to the dirty streets and faded buildings she had left behind her in the city, took a deep breath of air, and sighed in relief. She was home.

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Writing Prompt: Light

Elle at my writing group gives us 100 word flashfic prompts. This week’s was light. I wrote others, but here is one. I was playing with dialogue, because it is my most hated part of storytelling. I try to get the cadences sounding realistic, but sometimes they sound contrived.

 

The light faded from his eyes, his smiled died.

“What do you mean, dead?”

“Dead means dead, man! Look it up in a dictionary!”

His shoulders slumped as he remembered Maxxie’s zest for life.

“But, but, she can’t be! When did this happen?”

“About five years. She died of a heart attack or something”

His brows rose in surprise.

“But I just saw her last week!”

“Blonde, in her fifties?”

“That is her.”

“Couldn’t have been her. I was at her bloody funeral. Maxxie Granger? Do you have the right woman?”

He squeezes his eyes shut.

“Yes… Yes, I do.”

Writing Prompt: Modern Fairy Tales (Part II)

The latest Spiders Group prompt from Elle is “modern fairy tales” – once again, of just 100 words. I wrote a modern Little Red Ridding Hood and decided to reinterpret others. I am having fun with the 100 word constraints, as I usually blather on like a fool.

MFT: II

A retelling of Snow White

The music pulsed around me like a living creature, the beat sent loving shockwaves through my body. Bliss. Pure bliss. My body undulated, moving with the crowd flowing around me.

Margaret came back with our drinks. “I picked up some goodies from some guy”, she proffered a green and a red capsule in her wrinkled palm. “I know you like red sweetie, you can have that one”

She smiled sinisterly as we swallowed our fun with a swig of vodka.

The music took me over again, and swallowed by a sea of bodies, I sagged into the arms of a handsome stranger.

Writing Prompt: Greece

Elle, who runs the writing group I attend gave us a writing prompt and a quest to write exactly 100 words on it. This is what I came up with.

Modern > Myth

She sings at night on a street corner, her teeth flashing, her curls writhing, bathed in moonlight. They come, lured by the soul in her songs. She can no longer call them to her with enchantments. She remembers a time, millennia ago, when she held the seas in her throe, sailors hers to command, to toy with, to kill. She grieves at time’s passing.

The siren nudges her busker’s cap and winces at the sound of the few lonely coins jostling together. Looking at what she has become, sitting on a dirty street, she wonders, “Where did the magic go?”

Rebirth: A short story

Written in 1999, aged 15.
Warning: violent themes

~~~

Rebirth

The storm broke with a sudden violence. The white flash of lightning heralded a crash of angry thunder. A moment later the rain began to fall, in solid icy droplets.

The horse and rider had just emerged from the shelter of a thick dark forest, halting on a ridge overlooking a vast valley. The rider was a waif of a girl, clad in a long woollen cloak, thick and warm, wrapping her body against the storm’s ferocity. She turned her gaze to the sky, unafraid of the frenzied tempest. The clouds were a dark grey mass, rolling close to the ground, obscuring the distant mountain tops like a shroud. Against this menacing background were patches of a darker, more sinister cloud, black and ominous, bringing the threatening thunder with them.

The girl was aware of this but wasn’t troubled; she wasn’t really concerned with the weather for it merely reflected her mood. She was remembering a long forgotten period of her life which she had hoped to never revisit. She wished she had taken the road she had been advised to take. It had shelter, from both the weather and bandits. She then would never have stumbled upon the little brook running through a quiet thicket in the forest. She would have never have fallen back into her memories on hearing the cackling rusty voice of an old woman.

* * *

Ever since she could remember, she had known the old woman. The old woman didn’t have a name, not one the girl had ever heard. The old woman was just the “old woman”. She was very ugly, the girl remembered. She had a big hooked nose, bushy eyebrows and a heavily wrinkled face. She was tall to the little girl, towering over her like an ogre. The old woman wasn’t just ugly in appearance; she had an ugly nature as well. The girl remembered sly smacks across her head, just for the sake of violence. She remembered so many of these attacks, maybe that was why she didn’t like the old woman, why she hated her. Maybe it was the fear that was driven into her, made her hate the old woman so much, that feeling of helplessness.

The girl remembered one particular incident quite clearly. It was the turning point. The old beast had slapped her around the head, over and over. She could still remember the ringing in her ears, the watering eyes, the smarting face, blood trickling from her nose, the taste of it in her mouth. She couldn’t cry, or even make a sound, she would have just been hit harder. The old woman had cursed her, taunted her, yelled at her to stick up for herself, to fight back, to stop being so weak…

The girl had controlled her rage, her fear, hard as it was, and tried to block out the pain. She had hated with a passion that people would not have associated with a mere seven year-old, children are not meant to have such strong feelings. It was hard for the girl but she had a strong will; she was not one to be ground into nothing. She had wondered if the old crone was really a witch. A girl-stealing witch who killed mummies and daddies, spiriting away their beloved children. The girl now realised this was fantasy, but it held hope for the unloved and mistreated child she had been. Hope was what kept people going, without it they just shrivelled up and died, losing their soul and identity. So hope kept her going, helped her to survive. The girl knew she could not endure this treatment much longer – if she wasn’t beaten to death she would have been beaten into submission, and that was much worse than death could ever be. Dying meant no more: no more pain, no more senseless violence, no more reasons to hate, no more anything.

She had woken with a start that night and found the terror she was feeling was a nightmare – although it was hard to discern from the fear she constantly experienced. She had known then that she needed to solve her problem – there was no one else to help her – she only knew the old woman and the forest, no one else… She crept back to the cottage, hoping the old woman was fast asleep; if she was awake the girl would never get another chance. She quietly opened the door and snuck into the kitchen-end of the hovel, and finding cloth, she tore it to pieces. It was hard to be stealthy but she crept over to the nest of rags that was the old woman. The girl remembered dispassionately staring at the sorry excuse for a human being, hesitating a breath. Regaining her stance she had started to methodically bind the crone’s limbs, first her arms and then her legs and eyes. When she had finished, she retrieved the butter-lamp from the corner, the brush and timber from the hearth and the flint from the mantle. The girl then placed all the items randomly around the old woman, pouring the lamp’s oil over the rags and the old woman’s hair. Striking the flint she lit the fodder, watching as it became a blaze, hearing the now-conscious crone’s screams of fury, fear and pain. She remembered feeling a kind of release, like she was no longer an object of violence but a human being. It felt good, so good. When the heat of the inferno became too fierce she had retreated into the forest, back to the embrace of her solid oak tree.

* * *

The girl started, suddenly aware of her surroundings. She was still sitting on her horse, overlooking a vast valley. It was still raining heavily, and the rain was still accompanied by fierce thunder and iridescent lightning. Her cowl was now soaked through and she was shivering uncontrollably. The girl decided that the other side of the ridge was too far to ride too in such a storm, so she turned the horse and rode back into the shelter of the forest.

After she rubbed down the horse and lit a fire, the girl sat down – staring over the fire into the distance.

* * *

She thought back to nine years ago when she had woken at the nunnery. After the fire she had fallen to sleep under the kind old oak, then woke and walked forth in a daze of dehydration. A helpful traveller had found her, given her some water and taken her to a building atop a cliff overlooking a river. The kindly nuns there had nursed her back to health – she couldn’t remember most of it, she had been encased in a shell of shock and delirium. She wondered how much she had revealed to them as she raved through her fever; she must not have mentioned the fire, as the gentle nuns had never pressed her about it… They had raised her, given her an education, and when the time came, found her employment.

Stretching, the girl walked to the edge of the forest to check if it had stopped raining. She liked watching rain, so she sat on a log under a trees embrace. The tree’s wood reminded her of her room back in the broch. She was a messenger for the Lord Baron. She liked belonging to the household, she felt content and safe.

On that thought there was a sudden gust of wind. The rain ceased and thunder faded away, the lightning dispersed. And the sun slipped from behind the boiling mass of clouds and shone down on a single drop of water settled on a leaf. The drop glowed golden and sent out rays of light into a fresh new world.

~~~
The background:

I was asked to write a short story in Year 10 at school. We weren’t given any guide lines, we were just told to write something creative. My teacher had a lot of objections to Rebirth’s themes. At first she wanted me to rewrite the story, she refused to accept it the plot as it stood. She believed the girl deserved some retribution for having such a violent act in her past. She didn’t comprehend that the girl had violence in her past, but she wasn’t the perpetrator. She didn’t deserve more ugliness in her life. The girl was exorcising that violence from her life. Violence follows you if you run. Only the lucky ever truly escape it. Yes, murder is wrong, violence is wrong. But sometimes running away is no escape. The old woman was never a person, but a concept. Mrs MacKay, my English teacher wanted me to rework it and when I refused to mutilate this story that spoke to me, she asked me to write a different story, one which had no violence. I had a big heartfelt discussion with her and she refused to accept this story for submission (despite the fact she had given us no guidelines, and had expressly stated such). I was my passive aggressive little self and instead I sat down and wrote her a story which was exactly what she wanted. Something that was cheap and easy, with a gimmicky twist at the end. She was so impressed with that one that she gave me an A+ and read out loud it to the class. But it was a shallow piece I had written especially for her, one with no emotions, no issues, nothing of substance… It was a good piece of writing, however, so I buried a copy in my writing file. I am ashamed about how cheap it made me feel. I think this response is why I still appreciate this story. It was never meant to be something that people would feel all warm and cuddly over. People don’t always have happy childhoods. The world is filled with hate and violence, normally with no discernible reason. People aren’t being punished when they become a victim. I know Rebirth isn’t the best short story, and I have friends who have better skills with the pen, but it speaks to me, so I wanted to share it here… Just remember I was only 15 when I wrote it, and forgive some of the sentence structure and writing style clichés. I’ve always had the problem of having overly flowery descriptions – it’s how I see the world.