Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The brief: Wedding bells

The brief for this week is 'Wedding Bells.'  Due to the Easter break the deadline for entries is
Friday 25th April.  Dust your pens off folks!!

Friday, 4 April 2014

The brief: Speed

Write 150 words on:


Response 1: The speed charge

Prosecutor:        Please state your name and occupation

McGinty:             John McGinty, Knox County Sheriff

Prosecutor:        Tell the court about events on January 4th

McGinty:            I was patrolling Highway 6 when I observed the defendant driving erratically. I sounded my siren and he accelerated so I gave pursuit.

Prosecutor:        You pulled him over. For speeding?

McGinty:            Yes

Prosecutor:        Please continue

McGinty:           I requested his license and registration papers. They checked out so I asked him to step out of the vehicle while I search it

Prosecutor:        You find anything?

McGinty:           A parcel in the trunk with a timer on it. I thought it was a bomb so I called it in. Turns out it was methamphetamine.

Prosecutor:        The drug speed? Why the timer?

McGinty:             He said he was coerced by the Mafia to deliver it to a Tyson Gay before time ran out.

Prosecutor:        Tyson Gay the US Olympic athlete?

McGinty:            Affirmative

Response 2: A woman’s work is never done!

‘Have you had a good weekend?’ My single childless colleague asked. Without thinking and as per usual I said ‘yes, good thanks.’

Let’s think about it. I left work at 7.30pm on Friday, I was very busy! Home at 8pm, started dinner, my husband and eldest child were away, so dinner for two. I put a load of washing on, emptied the dishwasher, emptied the dryer and filled the ironing basket, fed the dog, rabbit, guinea pigs and fish. Served my daughter her dinner and ate mine at the same time as washing the breakfast pots. At 11pm I fell into bed.

Up at 7.30am to take my daughter to the stables, back home after food shopping at 10.30am. Put more washing on, started the ironing. Emptied washer and re-filled ironing basket, cleaned the windows, dusted, vac’d up. Very similar on Sunday, back to work on Monday, for a rest.

Response 3: Ode to the Star

When Sandra set off on the bus, there was no way she could know
that lives would be risked, just by driving too slow.

Keanu starred in this film, but it sure is a fact,
that it would have been better, if he’d learnt how to act.

With a long list of turkeys, she’s just turned the table
as she’s now showed the world, that she’s finally able.

The Blindside was moving, but it’s her journey to space.
that has made people realise, well…just that she’s ace!

With an Oscar in hand, you can see she’s come far,
but there’s more fame to be had, with this ode to the star.

If only she knew, a few months before fifty,
she’d gain glory once more, by becoming a Nifty.

So all hail to the Bullock, and long may it last,
let’s forget Cruise Control, as a thing of the past.

Response 4: I'm Free

I was always told I couldn’t
Always told ‘No Matt!’
I listened to my elders,
They knew best and that

But suddenly it happened
Suddenly 18!
An adult now, it’s up to me
Finally I’m free

No more ‘don’t do that’
‘Be home in time for tea’
I can do whatever I want,
Coz I’m 18 and free

Can’t believe I listened to them
They don’t know best at all!
Yeah I can buy a bike
Now to make that call

Got serious mular for my birthday
Enough to buy these wheels
The open road is calling
At 200 quid it’s a steal

30 quid left over
Enough for a night on the lash
Big Ste and gay Barry
I love a night with the lads

One pint necked, then 2, 3, 4
Ste offers me some speed
‘no’ I say, ‘It’s not for me’
Then I remember ‘I’m free’

Response 5: The car

Old Joe finished fixing the harness and took hold of the handle of the plough, worn smooth with years of use. He reflected with a smile that many people might say the same of him. Little Joe was watching from the gate. He helped every day in the fields and the two were seen together so often that they had acquired the nicknames to distinguish the farmer from his twelve-year-old grandson. This gave the old man a glow of satisfaction, but didn’t make him miss his son any less.

Rooks rose and scattered and Old Joe looked up, puzzled. He knew what cars were of course, he wasn’t such a crusty stick-in-the-mud, but he was sure that this was the first time one had been along the road.

Little Joe stared transfixed at the dust-cloud in the vehicle’s wake, and Old Joe knew nothing would ever be the same again.

Friday, 28 February 2014

The brief: What's in the box?

This weeks brief, write 150 words on the topic What's in the box?

Response 1: A web of mystery

It started innocently. A silly online riddle sent by a friend. Solving it revealed a clue to another and I was soon hooked on a scintillating trail of web mystery. I wasn’t alone – I soon learned of dozens of others, scattered across the globe vying to be the first to reach the end of the line and bask in the glory of solving that final challenge.

The puzzles got harder and numbers dwindled until a year down the line there were just 2 of us left in the game. I’d spent the last week cracking a cryptogram which led me to the Federal bank armed with a code to a safety deposit box. Led into the vault, I hoped I was getting there first.

Inside the box was a laptop which I powered up to trigger a video feed showing a gagged woman bound to a chair.

Fuck! Now what?

Response 2: What IS IN the box?

Stare at the clock, tick TOCK tick TOCK. The sound is getting louder now. I can’t concentrate. Deadline looms and all I can hear is a bastard clock. No time to think of a clever interpretation of the ‘box’ theme, only time to get on and write…

Improvisation. Ad hoc some may say. I can do this. What can I see? A computer. A computer came in a box. Maybe it was struck by lightning that caused a technology-less apocalypse! Lame. A book. Once packaged in an Amazon box that travelled from the US, posted by a possessed man in the woods. AN EXPLORER. Wait, that’s the plot to Evil Dead.

What is IN the box? A head, a letter, a bunny, a gift? A gift that is a bunnies head accompanied with a letter from the killer! That’s it, I’m out. This Nifty is never going to write itself.

Response 3: Box number 8!

Omg box 8! it’s me! I picked up my box and joined Noel to start my game.

According to Noel I had one of the best games in history, having 1p and £250,000 left at the end … I gambled and I won £250,000 all my dreams had come true!

I woke up to my alarm, oh shit, it was a dream…but I really was on deal or no deal today so maybe my dreams will come true after all!

Box 8 got called. OMG is this really happening?

The game was played out almost identical to my dream… then I was left with 1p and £250,000, I had to gamble my dream was a sign!

As Noel lifted the lid the gasp from the pilgrims said it all! How stupid could I be…?

At least I made it in the hall of fame for the 1p in my box.

Response 4: What's in the box?

At first I thought it was a trick question – I wasn’t expecting a delivery. But I reflected that the postman didn’t know that, so it was just inappropriate nosiness.

“I don’t know”, I answered truthfully.

“Cat! Cat is in the box! Alive or dead?”

Oh – that old chestnut. Though I was curious why a famous conundrum had presented itself on my doorstep in this unusual way. I should have been alerted earlier that something odd was happening, because the postie was a King Charles Spaniel in a smart peaked cap.

“It’s a common misconception that Schrodinger was proposing….. ”, I began. But the little dog was not listening. It was staring at the lid and yapping.

So instead I just ripped it open. The box was empty. The spaniel sighed as though disappointed at being robbed once again of an answer. Then it trudged slowly, disconsolately, out of the gate.

Friday, 21 February 2014

The brief: The arrogance of youth

Write 150 words on the arrogance of youth

Response 1: The arrogance of youth

A smile of self-satisfaction enveloped my face as another, immaculately timed, one-liner had my class in stitches. This was my domain. My mastery of it was absolute, the figure at the front powerless to counteract my insouciance. Sure, they had certain tactics they could try to use, but we all knew where the sovereignty lay.
Standing in front of the class, I knew the moment to act was approaching, as the decibel level steadily rose. The self-appointed, ringleader was getting into their stride. The options clarified in my mind, the delicate interplay of the group calculated for, until one emerged. A carefully chosen question is all it would take. I knew it would be batted back with nonchalance giving them a, false, sense of victory. I also knew well the smile of self-satisfaction on their face, that in fact, was my cue to continue the lesson.

Response 2: I'm not arrogant, I really am that good

It wasn’t that I didn’t understand the instructions. How could I not? I am highly intelligent, after all, the top of the class in everything. Well, in nearly everything.

I’m fit, too, and I’m strong. I run every day, I lift, I’m on the football team. Well I should be, everyone knows that. I should have been picked, he just doesn’t like me.

So the chances of my ever getting into a situation that I can’t get out of are really small. It’s so unlikely that I would not get it right, and even if I didn’t see it coming I’m sure I would be able to deal with almost anything. There’s nothing I can’t handle.

I could always keep up with the group, I’d never lose my way in the dark, and if I did I could navigate back. By the stars or something. If it wasn’t cloudy.


Response 3: Free running

I love the thrill of jumping between high buildings, there is nothing on earth like it.  I’ve been a free runner since the age of 16.  I’ve also been a drinker since the age of 16, a user since the age of 18, but I’m invincible.

Up at 7am every day, bed by 2am that’s plenty of sleep.   Off to town today, but first to score I pat my pocket, the best candycaine money can buy is in there.

Feeling amped after my line I set off.  First on cars to get my height, then up a wall my speed and height increasing, up on top of the car park.  Wow that was immense, what a thrill.  I take a breather stood on the edge and notice my lace is undone, you’d think a fall from two storeys would be nothing, but no my free running didn’t help me this time.

Friday, 31 January 2014

The brief: Picture this

Write 150 words on:

Picture this

Response 1: Picture this

While standing in line at the bank one afternoon, my three year old toddler decided to release some pent-up energy and run amok.  I was finally able to grab hold of her after receiving looks of disgust and annoyance from other patrons.  I told her that if she did not start behaving "right now", she would be punished. To my horror, she looked me in the eye and said in a voice just as threatening, "If you don't let me go right now, I will tell Grandma that I saw you kissing Daddy's pee-pee last night!"

The silence was deafening after this enlightening exchange.  Even the tellers stopped what they were doing.  Mustering up the last shreds of dignity I had, I grabbed my daughter’s hand and marched quickly out of the bank. The last thing I heard as the doors closed behind me were loud screams of uncontrolled laughter.

Response 2: The end of the human race?

People aren’t that different from those in the past. We all have the same motivations and needs. Your great-great-great-grandparents and their governments had to overcome their own versions of the same problems that we wake up worrying about. Many of our problems aren’t new yet we still make the same mistakes.

We have come a long way in coping with the problems of terrorism and disease, but have been less successful in solving or avoiding problems that are caused by greed and land. The same religious beliefs have been around for centuries yet now they are being used as an excuse for war. 

If we are ever going to stand a chance of saving ourselves then we need to start looking at the causes and solutions to past problems that are similar or close to those we face today. This hopefully will help us to avoid making the same mistakes again.

Response 3: New life

I’m walking as fast as I can – not so fast I draw attention to myself, but fast enough to get there.
Smiling at the passers by, giving the occasional ‘nod’ and ‘hello’.
Do they know it’s me? They can’t – surely.
You’re nearly there - keep on walking Clare.

Shit, Michelle. I mean Michelle. My name is Michelle. Michelle Montgomery - born 1st Feb 1964. Widowed, no children, shop owner. Repeat….
My name is Michelle. Michelle Montgomery - born 1st Feb 1964. Widowed, no children, shop owner
Goodbye Clare Farrelly. Married – mother of two beautiful, innocent, perfect children, teacher.
Don’t cry – people are looking.
So close. It’s not too late to turn back? To hug Caitlin and Marshall one last time. But they’d see me, they’d find me.
Passport control… my heart beating, my palms sweating.
When I thought about how I’d be spending my 50th Birthday – I didn’t picture this.

Friday, 24 January 2014

The brief: Travelling light

Inspired by the (supposed) appearance of the  Aurora Borealis over Britain, the next topic is 'Travelling Light'.

Write 150 words on this weeks topic

Response 1: Travelling light

As she looked down at the small charge grasping her hand she knew she had made the right decision. Leaving the UK for a brand new life in Australia was frightening but something she had to do.

Charlotte felt guilty for taking her sister’s and her niece’s passport, but there was no other way. The tiny girl holding her hand had been systematically abused by all adults she had spent any time with. It took weeks of coaxing for Lily to finally speak, then trust Charlotte. As a social worker she came into contact with many abused children but Lily tugged at her heart more than the others.

The sale of her parents’ house had given her the funds she needed to leave the country with Lily. It was going to be difficult, but they had two changes of clothes each and with money in her pocket they would be fine.

Response 2: Travelling light

Another day, another flight - my 30th in as many days. After 3 years as a travelling rep I’ve got the routine down to a tee. Everything I need jammed into hand luggage, no needless airport delays. Airport – taxi – hotel – client meeting. Reverse and repeat, that’s my life in a nutshell. Occasionally I get a fleeting stop at my city apartment but it doesn’t feel like home. How could it when I spend so little time there?

My traditionalist mother wants me to be happy, i.e. meet a good man, marry and have children. Sounds great but I’ve chosen career for now. Still, clock’s ticking and I’ve yet to meet my knight in shining armour. Ironic that I meet so many people through work but never properly – it’s only superficial meetings.

In that sense I travel light both physically and emotionally. 

“Hi, I’m Jim” smiles the passenger sat beside me.

Response 3: Getting there

She came from Cologne. She walked into my life just as we struck up Hark the Herald Angels Sing. 'Which one is Sue?'
I was impressed with her ability to immerse herself in the lives of others whilst maintaining a dignified detachment. She loved her Manchester family.

Then two years later her work here ended. And an opportunity popped up in Mexico.
She stayed with me the night before she left.
Whilst she slept I took pictures of her luggage. Two suitcases and a backpack. All she owned.
I thought my head might burst as I looked around my home. Stuff. Everywhere.
Is this it? Will I one day be buried beneath the rubble of a half lived existence?

And slowly my journey begun. Every day digging through the crap that was stopping me breathing.

It's work in progress. But I get it now. This is travelling light.

Declutter the mind and get ready for life. 

Response 4: Travelling Light

In the darkness, I am waiting.
Every atom within me is ‘pending’.
My energy is dormant - anticipating.
I am coiled ‘asleep’ - but I am not sleeping.

The cold is biting.
The dark all-consuming.
The damp is encroaching
And the dirt soul-destroying.

The inertia is stifling,
The frustration is physical.
The temptation substantial,
The waiting, intolerable.

The people are gathering.
Their breath is arising.
Their hands are freezing.
And excitement is increasing.

Gloved hands,
Wellington boots,
Muffled ears,
Two pairs of socks.

The small ones sit on shoulders.
The short stand at the front.
The taller lurk at the back.
The older stay indoors.

Footsteps: nearer, nearer.
Voices: clearer, clearer.
Upturned faces: eager, eager.
Expectations: turning to fever.

One joyous spark!
One magical touch!
One physical reaction,
One pure flash of life!

My power released, my energy free,
My colours are burning,
My moment complete –
I am
Travelling light.

Response 5: Women!

A toothbrush, and toothpaste, your razor and shampoo
Tweezers, earbuds, not forgetting moisturiser too
There’s conditioner and soap, or showergel if ya posh
Your passport, and tickets, and if you’re lucky, some dosh!

Don’t forget your nightie, your knickers your bras and your socks
Your bikini, and your eye patch, your skirts and your frocks
Then there’s make up, and hairdyers of all different makes
Straighteners AND curlers? What’s that about for fucks sakes?

Lipstick, lip balm, lip salve and lip gloss
7 (minimum) magazines to catch all the goss
Nail varnish that’s pink, for big nights on the lash
Hair grips and bobbles, and cream for the ‘tache

Sun cream and sun hat, a lilo and ring
Shorts, T shirts and vests, and after sun for the sting
I’m sure that there’s something I’ve missed from this list
Oh yeah, I’m a bloke, and this list takes the piss!

Response 6: Across the universe

He is already past the moon when he notices that the light from the sun is surging past at incalculable velocity, and he hitches a ride on the rippling beams. The sudden acceleration is shocking; arms and legs stretched out into wires by the force. And heavy, so heavy!

He tries to estimate the speed of his motion, but finds to his surprise that now he does not seem to be moving at all. Or rather, the idea of movement has somehow ceased to be meaningful. And more - when he begins to reckon how long the journey has taken, he finds that he cannot, because time itself has stopped.

And finally he understands, as no other mind has ever done before.

“Einstein! Dummkopf! Traumer!”

It’s the flick of his History teacher’s text-book on his ear that finally brings him back to Earth, and he bends resignedly over his lesson.

Response 7: My safety torch

Moving from house to house, 3 different schools, 3 different years, with dad’s job.

Scary new houses, new bed rooms with only thing that kept me safe was my torch in that new, dark room.

One move, I went to look for my torch before I got into bed in my latest bedroom. I couldn't find it anywhere. I was so distraught.

My dad however said.

"Fear not, Once the lights are out, you don't need the torch. Look out the window and you can see that the moon shines so brightly that the moon is your torch".

He turned off the light and to my surprise the moon shone through my window and lit up my room.

The moon has kept me safe ever since.

I’m all grown up and at uni now. The trouble is that I’m at uni in Manchester where it constantly rains and is cloudy.

Friday, 10 January 2014

The brief: New beginnings

Write 150 words on:

New beginnings

Response 1: New beginnings

I toss the last case into the van, slam the door shut and sigh in resignation.

Here we go again! For the third time in as many years, time to hit the road and find yet another new home somewhere else.

IT is a great enabler. It’s given me a career and handsome salary but it’s also ruined my life since that unfortunate incident. The letter of the law may say otherwise but these days, thanks to camera phones and social media it’s more a case of guilty until proven innocent.

In hindsight, I was incredibly stupid. Staggering home after an all-nighter, I was caught short passing the school and was captured exposing myself by the playground railings on a parent’s phone. The footage spread like wildfire and I was soon on a sex offenders register. Death threats, bricks through windows and shunned by the community, I had to go.

Response 2: Chance Meeting

Well, that's that then. I turned the key for the last time, and turned away from the door. Down the short path, past the railing. Crossed the little half-step into the street, as I had done a thousand times before.

I don't know whether it was because I was still looking back at the house, or he was immersed in his phone, or both. But somehow we collided and he went tumbling to the damp pavement. I went to help him up but he was already rising and we bumped again in a cloud of mutual apology and embarrassment.

He stooped for the phone.

"Sorry, I just need to send this. Right, that's done. Done. All done" A note of finality in his voice. Brushed himself off and smiled at me - a little longer than necessary. Then he was away, and I watched his heels disappear around the corner.

Response 3: New Year resolutions


1. Stop smoking
2. Go to the gym 3 times a week
3. Give up chocolate
4. No alcohol (January only)


Went to the gym this morning yeah! Had a kitkat on the way back, well I need to keep my sugar levels up and it’s not really chocolate, well not Cadbury's, which is the type of chocolate I meant.


Phone call from Jenny asking me if I fancy going out tonight, yeah why not.


My hangover prevented me from going to the gym, so not really my fault and it was only wine, not really alcohol is it? Well not JD and that’s the type of alcohol I meant.


Back to work today. Only 8 cigs. That’s not really smoking is it? I meant cut down to less than 20 a day so still on track.


My best one yet!

Friday, 20 December 2013

The brief: I'll get me coat...

Write 150 words on:

I'll get me coat...

Response 1: I'll get me coat

“I’ll get me coat.”

“Need teddy bear.”

“I’ll get your teddy bear THEN I’ll get me coat.”

“Need Dolly.”

“I’ll get your teddy bear and your dolly THEN I’ll get me coat.”

“Need puddy cat.”

“I’ll get your teddy bear and your dolly and your puddy cat THEN I’ll get me coat.”

“Need Iggle Piggle.”

“I’ll get your teddy bear and your dolly and your puddy cat and your Iggle Piggle THEN I’ll get me coat.”

“Need baby.”

“I’ll get your teddy bear and your dolly and your puddy cat and your Iggle Piggle and your buggy THEN I’ll get me coat.”

“Need hedgehog.”

“I’ll get your teddy bear and your dolly and you puddy cat and your Iggle Piggle and your buggy and your hedgehog THEN I’ll get me coat.”

“Need poo poo.”

“Oh I tell you what, sod me bloody coat. Let’s just stay here and watch telly.

Response 2: Ding!

* ding! *
Oh, what fresh hell will the next three minutes bring?
So far tonight I’ve endured dire opening gambits including three “I don’t normally do this kind of thing”, two “I’m only here ‘cos my mate is desperate”, and two “Actually, we’re just here for a laugh, nobody does this for real, do they?”

Well, yes, they DO. Actually. Well, I do.

I thought Speed Dating would be a great way to meet potential new suitors in a safe, fun environment. Readers, I was wrong.

Unless your idea of ‘fun’ is self-consciously trying to strike a balance between attractive but not trying too hard; of approachable but not desperate; of vivacious but not too manic and/or pissed.

And the women! No camaraderie here, but plenty of sideward glances, snickering, whispering & giggling in my direction.

* ding! *

Here we go again….

“Get yer coat love, you’ve pulled!!”

Response 3: I'll get me coat

The group looked hungry. The chipper venire of hope had started to drain from their cold faces and each could sense things were not good. The snow had battered the town relentlessly one month ago and it just never stopped. We huddled everyone in the winter store - our safeguard against the weather - but no one expected 30 days of blizzards. No one expected to be still camped in this tiny space, starved and desperate.

The group looked to me. I had marshalled them into the winter store and had been made leader by default. It would be my job to march into the blizzards, find food or just survive long to find help. I knew the mission was potentially suicidal. The group knew it too but they didn’t seem to mind too much.

I looked out onto the snow and muttered to myself, “Guess I’ll get my coat”.

Friday, 6 December 2013

The brief: Winter

Write 150 words on:


Response 1: Transition

Winter suits me. It fits me well. 

The transition from autumn excites me. 

I love the low light on the hillside, the majestic tree boldly exposing her naked form, the fallen leaves a blanket over her cold feet. 
Hot soup on the stove, big red cheeks and runny noses as you stand at the bar. Tousled hair and warm kisses. The beautiful mouth warm against the cold face. Winter loving in the warm bed, winter feeding in the cosy kitchen, hot chocolate, marshmallows, mulled wine and winter broths. Jumpers, silly hats and rushing home to hibernate. Winter bliss. 

And Winter houses my birthday. A time to stop and think about my beautiful Mother who gave me the tools to appreciate the beauty of each day. And so it goes. 

Then one day I can feel the Spring. And I'm ready. So very ready.

Spring suits me. It fits me well. 

Response 2: The Ginger Lady

Jimmy groaned as he came to. The freezing air hurt his lungs and made his eyes sting. Last night’s snow fall had been heavy. He pulled his coat around him. The zip had broken years ago and it gave him little respite from the bitter cold.

His back ached. His head ached. Everything ached. God, he hated the winter.

He took a long draught from the bottle, still in his hand from when he had passed out. He shuddered as it hit his stomach but he knew that soon the liquid would numb everything again.

Yesterday he had been lucky, the kind lady with the grey coat had given him a sandwich and a ten pound note. She had a lovely smile, it reminded him of somebody. Someone from long ago. Someone from a time before the ginger lady had taken him by the hand and he had lost everything. 

Response 3: Now it is Winter, I am Content

Cold, crisp, sunny Sundays – made for wrapping up in thick jumpers, socks and sturdy boots for a kick through the fallen leaves in the morning sun.

Rewarding yourselves on a Big Walk well done, with a pint of real ale, or glass of red in a country pub, disrobing thick layers of clothing in front of their toasty fire.

Rediscovering the art of creating hearty comfort food – of pie-making, stewing, casseroling, and slow-cooking – ending with a satisfied snooze over the Sunday papers.

Impromptu post-work drinks – standing outside in the cold at the Christmas Market, cupping decorative mugs of Gluhwein in your gloved hands.

That magical morning, when before you even open the curtains, the light looks ‘different’, there’s a deafening sound of silence outside. It’s come!

Pulling on your wellies and woollies and even though you KNOW there’s no work today – rushing outside even earlier to revel in the virgin snow.

Response 4: The Hill

It is freezing. She is wearing her long coat, the one her sister made. But the cold seems to enter from the pavement, soaking up through her bones, making her ache inside. She breathes heavily, the air brings cold into her body too. Each step needs effort, the plastic bag cuts into her hand.

The houses at the top of the hill are new. Young families live there. She likes to hear the shouts of the children, though they stay in the gardens at the back. Her own children used to play in the street. Tommy built a go-kart once, took it up the road on a spring day. Lay flat on the planks, rolled down the hill while the others screamed with laughter. Crashed in a heap of dust and blood and grins.

Suddenly, slipping. The bag is gone. Back of the head hits the ground. Shattering, exploding. Black.

Response 5: Winter

“I’ll just give this a lick and a promise”, my grandma said as she quickly mopped up a spill on the floor. 

It was just the way my nana used to be, sporting as always, the mad orange and brown flowery pinny.
She wore it everyday – come rain or shine. Although, it’s nearly Christmas now, and she’ll still be outside of a cold winter’s morning, scrubbing them steps. I wonder if Grandad ever saw her out of it. He was always rolling his eyes while she darted about with a duster. 

“She’s got ants in her pants”. He used to say. 

It always made me chuckle. I helped nana make foil Christmas trees in the afternoon. Her lounge was always sparkly, glittery and larger than life.Ornaments were tear shaped and I would always find remnants of blue tinsel when I got home afterwards.

I miss em both terribly now…

Response 6: Winter wonderland

Pitch black skies, it's far too early
To leave the house for hurly burly
Chilled to the bone, I grab keys and phone
and walk out to a winter wonderland

My car won't start, it needs deicing
Given it's age it's not surprising
I call the AA, a great start to the day
Waiting in a winter wonderland

On the news they say my route is closing
An inch of snow UK roads can't bear
Might as well be in my bed and dosing
Stuff the job I'm far too cold to care!

The AA man knows what to do
Back on the road, sat in a queue
I’m an hour behind, got sleep on my mind
Sitting in a winter wonderland!

Get into work, boss calls a meeting
Last month’s figures, I must be beating
“It’s soon your review, you know what to do”

Working in a winter wonderland

Response 7: Shelter

I remember the first snowflake of winter. I caught it on my hand and examined it close. It reminded me of my childhood. It reminded me of my mum wrapping me up in layers of jumpers, scarves, coats and hats. It reminded me of dad taking me out in my sled and urging me to catch those snowflakes with my tongue rather than my hand. It reminded me of a wonderful childhood winter filled with cold snow and a warm family.

The snowflake melts as I try to grasp it tight. I catch another with my tongue and it tastes electric. With the snow coming down thick and fast, I think of moving and grasp my rucksack in hand. I stuff it with a sleeping bag, newspapers and scraps of food. Not the essentials of my trip but the only things I own. I need to find shelter before nightfall. 

Friday, 29 November 2013

The brief: Keep dancing

Write 150 words on:

Keep dancing

Response 1: We will always keep dancing, you and I

We will always keep dancing, you and I. Long after our chocolate-ice-cream-summer years have gone,

Through stay-up-late Wednesdays, on starry lawns and late-night platforms.

We will always keep dancing, you and I. Long after others have said goodbye,

Down dreaming-spire streets and dragonfly riverbanks and muddy paths (one above, one below).

We will always keep dancing, you and I. Long after youth and beauty have faded,

Smiling in the wind and sunshine with scarves and hats and borrowed coats.

We will always keep dancing, you and I. Long after bedtime books have all been read,
With whispered words and love when nights are too dark and too long.

We will always keep dancing, you and I. Long after glasses have all been lost and found and borrowed,

Two souls matched, together burning brighter.

We will always keep dancing, you and I.

Until the starlight holds us forever in its arms.

Response 2: Dancing is my life

Dancing was my life, Mum used to say I could dance before I could walk. I did it all ballet, tap, modern, jazz. I was going to be a professional dancer, then later run a dance studio. Yes I had my career all planned out.

I was 19 studying dance at University, I fell ill, just a cold I thought, I’d soon shake it off. Three days later waking up in hospital I was told I’d contracted meningitis, my left leg had been removed below the knee. I was being fitted with a prosthetic leg next month, how the hell do you come to terms with that?

Many months of blood sweat and tears followed now I am walking again. I tentatively step onto the dance floor. I hear my mother shouting ‘keep dancing Chris, you can do it’ and I can. I will have my career that I’d planned.

Response 3: Last Dance

If I'd known it was the last time that I'd see them, I might have said something. As I passed the gate on the way up, they were in the corner of the garden. Looking at something, I don't know what. Perfectly silent and still, standing in the shadows of the late afternoon. At the time it seemed unremarkable, so I continued walking.

My errand took a couple of hours and on the way back I noticed that they were still there. I spied for a moment through a knot in the wood. It was almost completely dark but they were dancing slowly, barefoot, to music that only they could hear. In the very last of the light I could hardly tell where one ended and the other began.

It makes sense now. He knew where she was going and that he would follow. I'm glad I didn't disturb them.

Response 4: Keep dancing

"And now - the Bride and Groom will take their first dance!"

The lights, dim, and my new husband takes my hand, as I have just taken his.

'Endless Love' plays - that's what this is supposed to be – forever, true.

But what was it my cousin whispered behind her hand as I walked down the aisle? 
And why were there a few coughs and some shuffling when the vicar got to the "if anyone knows of any lawful reason why these persons should NOT be joined in matrimony, speak now….." bit?

Is it my imagination or does my Maid of Honour seem excessively teary?

And does my new husband seem slightly distant, even as he holds me close in this slow dance?

Have I made the latest stupid decision in my history of stupid decisions? 

Do I speak now, or forever hold my peace - and just keep dancing?

Response 5: Changing fortunes

“Dance monkey boy, dance!” cried Bill spraying bullets at the slave’s feet.

He cackled sadistically as he watched him frantically hop to and fro, hampered by the heavy chains.

Since his arrival in the Wild West of America, Mbassi had passed hands through 3 slave-masters. Bill Tyler was easily the worst. Twice already he’d nearly killed him during their tortuous trek across the rocky plains. His back bore the scars from many a whipping. Angry weeping welts glistened in the fierce sunlight.

They’d paused for brief respite from the mid-day sun and Bill was getting his daily dose of entertainment. The rest of the slaves cowered against the rocks, well away from the action.

Bill reloaded.

“We ain’t done yet!” he said firing a fresh volley before crumpling to the ground.

A bullet had ricocheted off a rock and entered his temple killing him instantly.

Free at last and armed!