Sunday Scrawl #1

For a long time now, my two main hobbies have been writing short stories and taking lots of photographs. It therefore makes perfect sense to me to start a photo prompt challenge of my own. Here are the rules:

Sunday Scrawl Logo

  1. Below, you will find this week’s photo prompt!
  2. Responses to the prompt can vary from prose/poetry writing to more photographs – there are no limits and no word counts.
  3. There are no tangible prizes for this challenge, but I will be reblogging the top entries!
  4. Feel free to use the photo below or the “Sunday Scrawl” icon to illustrate your responses (although I’d love to see some of your own illustrations, too)!
  5. Please remember to include a pingback to this post in your response.
  6. To enter, click on the blue froggy link at the bottom of this page!

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You can view my response to the prompt here.

The Sunday Scrawl

Hi everyone,

For a long time now, my two main hobbies have been writing short stories and taking lots of photographs. It therefore makes perfect sense to me to start a photo prompt challenge of my own. I will post my first challenge this Sunday, and hope you’ll join me in writing a response to it.

You can post absolutely anything in response to my challenges, from poetry and short stories, to photos of your own. If you want to know more about “The Sunday Scrawl” challenge, you can visit its page here.

Thanks for reading; I’m looking forward to hearing from you next week!

Sunday Scrawl Logo

Hesitation

Hesitation
Photo prompt 04/07/17. Credit: Kecia Spartin

This short story was written for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers Challenge, which invites writers to interact with one another through weekly photo prompts.

My word count for this piece is at 175. Enjoy!


He doesn’t see me. He flexes his neck as he preens himself, but still he doesn’t see. It’s almost cruel, plucking him from the world without the slightest bit of notice. I want him to turn around; even if it is just the tiniest glimpse, I want him to see.

It’ll be too late, of course; even if he does see, it’s too late. He’s mine.

It shouldn’t matter, I think to myself. If anything, this is better; he’s stupid. He’s not being careful, so, in a way, it’s his own fault. I’m an innocent, just trying to survive, and he – well if he really cared, he’d be more careful.

I’m being careful. I’m looking all about myself, even now. The world’s too dangerous not to, but apparently nobody ever told him that. I stick my tongue out into the air, feeling along the leaves. I can taste him; I can taste his feathers and sharp little beak that will desperately squeak as he tries to escape.

Should have been more careful, then.

I strike.

Hesitation 2
21/05/15

 

Out of Place

Today I revisited a site that I used to use photo prompts from, called Creative Writing Ink. This is a weekly challenge and one that I find very useful to aid my writing. I therefore based this short story on this prompt, although I also found the inspiration for it by reflecting on the very real stories on some of my close friends. It’s not a nice feeling when you know that you don’t belong in a certain place or in a certain way, and that’s the message that I attempt to communicate below. I hope you enjoy!


It’s almost as if the white wall in front of me is laughing. It knows my secret, and it knows what I should be; I should be plain, white and ordered, just like the paint. That’s what I should be, but I can’t deny the fact that it’s simply not true anymore. I’m complicated, not plain or ordered. I can’t be put into those simple categories when I’m everything that they’re not.

The wall stands resolute, mocking me.

I’ve probably been sat here for too long, now, but the wall, for all its faults, is my entertainment for the afternoon. I sigh, looking away from it at long last, to instead turn my attention to the freshly laundered, baby-pink sheets that I’ve been clutching. They’re not quite as perfect as they were when I’d been handed them that morning; they’re creased around my fingers and a spider is crawling across one of their corners. I shake it off, sighing once more. It’s time for me to move now.

I change the sheets quickly, then stand, stretch, and begin to walk downstairs. The walls are still white here; they’re all white, because anything else, apparently, would be wrong. I swallow hard. I need to stop thinking like this. The photos that colour the wall alongside the staircase catch my attention. They depict me, and only me, from my first waking moments to a few months ago, all hung in perfect order, straight and in their proper place. I’ve never minded them before, but now, it’s difficult to suppress the urge to rip them from their hangings and fling them down the stairs.

Both of my parents are present in the kitchen when I enter, my father setting out the table for supper, and my mother bent over a hot stove. I look at the clock: 6:29, and suppress a grimace as I take my seat. As predicted, a timer goes off a minute later, and my mother calls out, it’s ready, as if we need telling twice. I smile as usual at her as she brings over the food, and then we all sit together as my father blesses the meal. He talks about gratitude and how lucky we all are, but I don’t join my prayers with his. I don’t feel lucky, and I certainly don’t feel grateful.

When he’s finished, we eat in silence. There’s no music playing and nobody makes any small talk. We just eat, and when we are done, my father brings out some fruit for dessert. I stare hard at the six, ordered pears in a line in front of me, and something begins to snap. I look at my father, with his hand on the cross at his chest and his head bent low in endless prayer. Then I look to my mother, who purses her lips, wiping each inch of food thoroughly before emitting it into her mouth. I look back at the pears. Everything must always be so perfect. It must be right, and ordered, and as things are meant to be. That’s all their world is, and it’s what mine was, too, up until I really thought about things.

CWI 29-06-17
Creative Writing Ink’s photo prompt 29/06/17. 

I want to seize the pears and throw them at my parents. I want to see the shock in their faces as they stare at me and ask, what on earth has got into you? I want to dance on the table and laugh so loud that their eyes pop right out of their faces from their horror. I want to destroy the ordered world that they commit themselves to, if only to make them understand, because they never will understand anything but what they are. I can’t speak my mind, because they won’t listen. They’ll tell me to sit down and be quiet like a good, little girl. That’s what they’ll say, but I think that if they do, it’ll break me.

I continue up the stairs that evening just as I descended them. I smile at my parents and wish them well, saying, goodnight, sleep well mother; sleep well father. Then I go into my room, shut the door carefully, walk slowly over to my bed, and stuff the newly laundered pillow into my face to mask the sound of my own desperate sobbing.

I don’t hate my parents, because they’re my parents. I love how reliable my mother can be, and I admire my father’s endless devotion to his faith. Really, I adore them, but I hate their world, because I’m not a part of it anymore. I used to understand it, but that’s all gone now. One day, I’d just realised that, over time, my own world had been changing, and as it changed, it had taken me further and further away from theirs. We were in different solar systems now – different universes, even, and there was no way back for me, and no way forward for them.

I sit up, turning the pillow over so that the wetness from my tears is concealed from view. Then I get to my feet, and kneel at the foot of my bed. I haven’t prayed like this for such a long time, but right now I need it. I know you’re there, I think to myself. I know you can hear me, and I want you to know that I’m not grateful. It’s great to be alive and it’s great to go each day not starving or dying of some horrible disease, but perhaps I’m spoilt, because I’m still not grateful. I don’t want to do this anymore; I don’t want to have to pretend, every single day, that I’m a part of something that goes against everything that I am. I want to apologise to my parents for pretending for so long, but I can’t, because I know that I will never, for as long as I live, be able to tell them the truth. I won’t stop. I’ll carry on, because I can and because I’m a good actor… but, as it’s only you who’s listening, I need you to know: I hate myself. I wasn’t meant to be this person. I break every mould that I’ve ever known, but I need you to know, because it must be your fault. You have got to have messed up somewhere; you must made a mistake, because I know, I know, that I’m in the wrong body. Please, understand me when I say this:

I wasn’t meant be a girl.

Hunted #writephoto

I recently discovered a weekly photo prompt competition run by Sue Vincent. She provides excellent “Thursday” challenges for writers to have a go at. This week, I was keen to give the prompt my best attempt, as the photo (depicted below) deeply inspired me. There was no word-limit to this piece, so I just wrote to my heart’s content and ended up at a word count of 781. I hope you enjoy my short story!


I sit in silence. All it will take is the slightest spasm of an aching limb, or an untimely itch that I simply must scratch. I breathe deeply, slowing down my heart rate as I try to make as little noise as possible.

He’s still there, watching me. I can’t see him, but that doesn’t really mean anything. I know he’s there, because he’s always there. He’s always waiting for that one fatal mistake that I know one day will be my undoing. He doesn’t know where I am and I don’t know where he is; that’s the game. Because it is a game: it’s an endless game of dice rolling, where neither party has any control of the outcomes. The only issue is, if I lose, I don’t just lose a day’s pay or my dignity. The price is my life, and his reward is his.

Rabbi
June, 2017.

I can feel that itch now. It’s in my right leg. I want to look down and check that there’s not some horrible insect sucking at my blood, but I can’t. Even when I’m being eaten alive, I can’t move, and I can’t make a noise. All I wish for, is to hear the tell-tale rustle of leaves and snapping of leaves that tell me he’s leaving. He won’t go far, but he will move far enough that my window of escape will open, and I will run, and, as the dice are flung into the air, I will race for my life.

The itch is getting worse. How I want to scratch it, but there can’t be long to wait now; he’ll be tiring, too. He’ll feel an itch, and his muscles will buckle under the pressure. Soon. I try to calm myself down. I’m breathing too rapidly. I can’t let my own fear be the ruin of me, not when so many are depending on me. I soothe myself, closing my eyes and letting out a long breath.

It happens in an instant. Just as a sharp, jarring pain cuts across my leg from the itch, I hear the sudden rustling to my left that tells me my hunter is giving up. Too late. I gasp out in horror from the pain in my leg, and then it is too late and I am running.

I dart out from my hiding place, a clump of densely-growing leaves, and flee into the open meadows beyond. He’s still right behind me, rampaging through the undergrowth as he reaches for me. He is close: too close. There isn’t going to be enough time. He is meant to be further behind. I speed up, putting all my remaining energy into my legs. My right one is still stinging painfully, and I can feel a suspiciously warm substance trickling down it that I have a horrible feeling might be blood. I don’t have time for this, not for injury. The smell of blood will only drive my hunter on faster.

Birds
Photo prompt provided by Sue Vincent.

I duck back under the cover of trees: a detour. It’s risky, and it might cost me, but it’s also my only option, to confuse my companion into letting me keep my life. I dart around tree trunks and leap over uneven ground, always rushing and never slowing. This is it, a little voice whispers from the back of my head. You’re going to die today. You’re going to lose the game. I can almost feel his hot breath on the back of my neck, and almost sense his harsh, sharp teeth snapping at my injured leg. You’re too late, the voice whispers.

I stop running. I stand stock still, but in this single instant, time seems to slow right down. I don’t think of my hunter, storming towards me, desperate to sink his teeth into me. I think of my tiny, little home, tucked away under the trees barely two metres from where I stand now. I could make it, of course I could. But I can’t. Under those trees, four little babies lie all snuggled together, their eyes bright and innocent, and their mouths hungry, desperate for the food that only I can bring them.

They will have to go hungry tonight, but they are old enough by now. It isn’t fair and it isn’t right, but they are going to have to feed themselves from now on. It’s better to risk that, whispers the voice, rather than to lead this monster right to them. Right to your babies. You can’t do that. You can’t kill them.

So, I listen to the voice. I don’t move, because I can’t move. I don’t feel angry. Everyone loses sometimes; everyone must lose. I don’t mind. I’m ready.

Stowaway

This piece of creative writing is for the purposes of the competition at Ad Hoc Fiction. With only 150 words and this week’s prompt word, “crate”, this competition gives its winner free entry into the Bath Flash Fiction Award, which boasts of a prize of £1000! Although this is not a lot of words to demonstrate any writing prowess a person may or may not have, this competition runs weekly and is a chance to interact with different writers. I hope you enjoy!


There hadn’t been a quiet day at the docks of Kellford Town for almost ten years. It was the centre of business, with people bustling about, merchants flooding in, and goods overflowing from every stall. It was a hubbub; a bursting collection of noise, colour and people.

There were women calling out, desperate to sell their flowers; beggars waiting for the inevitable clink of a dropped coin; and strong-looking men busy loading crates from one ship to another. These were well-built crates, but heavy.

Perhaps they were even heavy enough for a little extra weight to go unnoticed.

I nestled down in my crate, listening to the noise all about me. They’re too busy, I thought. They’re rushing around out there with their money and their noise, but by the time night falls and the docks finally clear, only then will they realise that their little serving boy has disappeared.

Word Count: 150.

Remedy

This short story, of under 500 words, was inspired by a writing prompt challenge issued by Sammi Cox. The task was to compose a short piece of writing centred around the starting sentence: “I’ve found the remedy”. This was an interesting word-count to be dealing with, and an interesting challenge, too. As ever, I hope you enjoy.

This picture is courtesy of https://sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/.

“I’ve found the remedy.” I heard the words leave my lips, but, even as they echoed back at me, bouncing off the cave’s sloped walls, I refused to believe them. How could I, after all that had happened? So much time had passed and so many sacrifices had been made since the virus had first reached the village. I’d had a mother then, and a little brother.

Now, it was only me.

I straightened up, staring hard at the small, leafy plant that I clutched in my sweaty palm. Part of me wanted to throw it to the ground and stamp on it, destroying with it the thought that I could have saved them. If only I’d been quicker. If only I’d checked this place sooner. It made sense, after all. The witch who’d visited us a month into our suffering, told us that the cure grew in dark, damp places; places where the light couldn’t touch it. Yet even then, even when the answer had been right in front of me, I’d never thought of these old caves, barely a mile from the village.

That didn’t matter now. All that did matter, was that I’d been too late. They were gone, all of them: the green-grocer with his lop-sided hat; the old flower lady that used to visit us sometimes; the doctor, herself, who passed barely a week ago; and, of course, my family. My smiling mother, with her open arms and dangling earrings that used to scratch when I pressed against her, she was gone now; and Freddy, with his cheeky little laugh and almost sycophantic grin, he was gone, too. Mother had been too old, they told me, although she was barely fifty, and Freddy – well he’d always been ill. His immune system was the poorest the doctor said she’d ever seen before. He didn’t last a week.

Nothing could have saved him.

Nothing. Unless, of course, someone had found the remedy. If someone had walked up to the old caves, and they’d stumbled around in the dark until their feet bled and they began to believe they would never find their way back, then Freddy might have survived.

No one had come to his rescue, though, and as he’d closed his eyes on that tiny little bed, there was no one fighting to bring him back. I’d failed him. I’d failed my mother and I’d failed every single person who I’d let die.

I threw the plant on the ground and turned away from it, tears pouring down my cheeks. I could blame their deaths on anyone; why was it me who had to find the cure? Surely anyone could? But only one person had released the toxins on the village in the first place. That hadn’t been the green-grocer or doctor. That had been me. I turned back to the plant. I’d caused it, and although it was too late for Freddy, I couldn’t let it be too late for everyone. I couldn’t kill again.

Untouched

This piece of creative writing is for the purposes of the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge. With weekly photo prompts and a 75-175 word limit, this challenge offers a fun, interactive way of encouraging new writers.

 

This week’s photo prompt was provided by The Magicsticgoldenrose and my word count for this story is at 173.

Thank you and enjoy!

 

Even the sunlight didn’t dare touch her. It bounced on the lake below, almost daring her to join it, but it couldn’t penetrate her musty, little room.

She had thoughts like that all the time…of joining the sunlight…of being free.

The need for human contact sometimes grew so powerful that she actually opened the window and perched on the outside ledge.

It was her father’s fault. Ever since disease had taken her mother away, her father, a jealous and rather ruthless king, had refused to let the outside world harm her. He was convinced that something terrible would happen, and he was so afraid.

He just didn’t want to lose her.

One day, he’d taken her from her room whilst she was asleep, found the smallest room in the castle, and stowed her away there, so that no one could ever hurt her, not even the king, himself.

She hadn’t seen another person in almost six years, and, as she looked towards the lake once more, she knew that she never would again.

Burnt Out

This short piece of writing is for the purposes of the competition at Ad Hoc Fiction. With only a 150 word count and a weekly word prompt, this week’s word being “burn”, this competition gives its winner free entry into the Bath Flash Fiction Award, for a chance to win £1000!


The rain beats heavy against the window, rapping angrily as though it is desperate to come inside. I see it as an angry loan-shark, beating at the glass as its greedy eyes stray towards what little furniture I have left. It wants to tear it apart, taking it away from me on a stream of gushing floods.

I turn away from the window to bend low over my work, trying to shut everything out as my paintbrush moves up and down, almost mechanically. I don’t have long here now. They know I can’t pay what I owe, and I know they’re coming for me, but still my paintbrush moves up and down, creating careful little brush strokes on the page.

Before me, my last remaining candle continues to burn. Its flickering and dying, but it still provides some light. When that goes, I will know that my time is up.