A-Z: Y for Youth


Writing prompt: YOUTH

Provided by: Claire Goverts ,
a fellow A-Z challenge participant. Please visit her excellent blog!

Can’t believe I have one more post left to go…Z, and we’re done!

Genre: Fiction

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Youth and blood spatter, magnolia

A to Z: Youth and Magnolia

The magnolia tree outside his apartment lit up his eyes as he wrote. He had to hurry, because they would be here soon. He had to write of his lost youth, of his encounter with the butcher, how he was spared, and became a butcher himself.

But first he had to take out the .45 bullets, the cold, sharp, dead things. Not his weapon of choice on the flowers he picked up, the boys who fell for the hush, the softness of his voice, never recognized him for who he was until too late.  Youth was stupid, that way. No grown man would have entered his car.

Knives had life, they hummed and sang with each spurt, but not the easiest things to use on your own throat. Things could get messy. He wanted a clean end and he knew how to shoot a .45 ACP from his days in the army.

The pistol readied, he sat down again to write, but the words would not come. He thought of the last boy, the one that almost got away, of how he lay under the earth, carved and peeled, so close to him.

He needed to decide how to end this.

He took one of the pale pink blossoms he had gathered that morning on his table. Magnolias should be red, he said, like blood, or youth. Not magnolia seeds. He began peeling the flower. The butcher had taught him this way of making up his mind.

I will be here when they come, he said, and tore a petal. I won’t be here, he said, and tore another.

He heard a bolt slip somewhere at the back, and knew they had found him. He wondered how he had missed the sound of cars pulling up.

The pale pink petals, having done their job, lay on the parquet around his feet.

He scribbled on the pad before him: Under the magnolia tree.

Let them find out the secret of the thriving posies that weighed the tree to the lawn.

As the door opened, he fired his shot, and a tiny red magnolia blossomed on his throat, where his voice had been.

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I’m tweeting A to Z posts at #atozchallenge  There is also the A to Z Challenge Daily with links to Tweeted A-Z posts over the last 24 hours.
Thanks and shout-outs to organisers Arlee Bird (Tossing It Out) , Jeffrey Beesler’s (World of the Scribe),  Alex J. Cavanaugh (Alex J. Cavanaugh) , Jen Daiker ( Unedited), Candace Ganger (The Misadventures in Candyland) , Karen J Gowen  (Coming Down the Mountain) , Talli Roland ,  Stephen Tremp (Breakthrough Blogs )

A-Z: R is for Revenge


Singing is the best revenge

Singing well is the best Revenge

Writing prompt: REVENGE

Provided by:  Baygirl, fellow participant of the A to Z challenge.Visit her! Please PLEASE leave me prompts if you haven’t already! :) Photo Credit: Sujatha

Genre: Fiction/Flash

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Tonight they’ll sing of I know not what because I do not understand their language, but they have told me, by gestures and movements, that each will sing alone as well as in chorus, and that I’m expected to sing.

Singing is a frightening idea. I do not sing in the shower, never have, and even if I manage to break out of here and find my way back to that old life of showers, combs, comfortable beds and warm food, probably never will.

But singing in front of all those men and women takes frightening to a new level, because in the time spent here, I’ve seen what happens to those who are deemed embarrassing in front of the evening crowd.

Through the crack in my wooden prison wall, I can see a beehive of activity. Since the prison hut is just a few steps below the Chieftian’s, it is higher than the rest of the village. I watch the preparation for tonight’s singing under the moonlight, the painting of faces, the sharpening of knives and teeth, the polishing of drums and cymbals. But above this hum, a noise draws near, and one by one all heads rise towards the  source of the ruckus.

I cannot believe my eyes what my eyes see next, because into the clearing walks a child, a girl no older than ten or eleven, dark-skinned, with large silver anklets on her feet that plink and jangle with each step. She is not wearing much, not that I can see, only her hair, long, rough and cloud-like, that falls below her knees. The crowd around her is silent.

Someone has called the Chieftian–and this strikes me as odd, his walking into the clearing in daylight. All are summoned to his hut, this is the first time protocol has been reversed, for an admittedly strange, but nevertheless young girl.

A woman’s voice booms, but it has emerged from the lips of the dark little girl. It throws me, but it terrifies the Chieftian and his men. Women gather their children and back away towards their huts.

Rough hands grab me by the shoulders and stand me up, and I find myself being hurried out to the clearing. None of the usual shoves and cuffs, though.

When I reach, the Chieftian is on his knees, and though I do not understand his language, it is impossible to miss his air of supplication. His sweat reeks as much of his fear as his posture: here is a monster of a man begging for his life from a child.

I look at her staring the Chieftian down. She senses my gaze and looks up. In those eyes I see rivers of light. It is the gaze of a mare upon her foal, but there is also the adoration of a child towards its mother. Her eyes wash over my skin like a warm towel after a long, dusty journey– they touch my head, smooth my hair.

“Come, my child,” the voice purls up at me in clear, ringing English, “I have been a long time waiting.”

As I step towards her, the back of my naked legs are splattered with a warm liquid, all the way up to my buttocks. Without thinking, I look back, and down. It is the Chieftian’s blood. He lies in the dust, or what is left of him, because he has no head. My mouth opens in a wordless scream and I take a step back.

“A long time waiting, my son, this will be sweet revenge indeed. Let us sing.” The voice pours into my ears like viscous, warm honey before I pass out.

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I’m tweeting A to Z posts at #atozchallenge  There is also the A to Z Challenge Daily with links to Tweeted A-Z posts over the last 24 hours.
Thanks and shout-outs to organisers Arlee Bird (Tossing It Out) , Jeffrey Beesler’s (World of the Scribe),  Alex J. Cavanaugh (Alex J. Cavanaugh) , Jen Daiker ( Unedited), Candace Ganger (The Misadventures in Candyland) , Karen J Gowen  (Coming Down the Mountain) , Talli Roland ,  Stephen Tremp (Breakthrough Blogs )

Walking by the river: Picture prompt


Walking by the river

More morning speed-writing, and another picture I came across.

He walked out that morning, planning never to come back, wearing his trusty old jacket, boots, holding his walking stick in his arthritic right hand. His old bones weighed too much on his children and he wanted a quiet place to curl up and die, like a tired bear who has slept through countless winters, raided many honeycombs in summer, hunted, feasted and danced under the moon; and now, too tired to carry on, wants a place to lie under his own fur, lay his head on a smooth stone and never wake up again.

He walked down the riverbank with a purposeful stride, as if he knew where this stone would be. Though he longed to hear their chatter, the birds held their quiet before sunrise, and the slow river made no sound as it ambled its way towards the sea. The mosquitoes that buzzed around him every day on his walks had disappeared.

He missed his hound, his hunting companion of many years whom he’d buried in the backyard the month before, wondered if his kids would find him and bring him back to lay beside that old black rascal, alert for a partridge in his dotage, in the very last week of  his life.

He raised his nose in imitation of his hound and tried to sniff the lightening, starlit air, but caught only the fish-like stench of the river. No flowers bloomed this early in spring. He stepped off the beaten path through the woods, and heard twigs crackle under his boots. He took out the hip flask that had ridden in his pocket the last two decades, unscrewed it and took a swig.

He thrashed his way towards the bank and flung the walking stick as far as he could into the river. In the dull light, he watched it float lazily away near the middle. He stumbled on, determined to walk till he either fell down or found his stone.

Daily writing exercise, flying in the river


A river is made for floating, not flying

Dream-flying in a river

They fly in the river, these people.

Because life comes slow to them, their massive wings, and the water lifts them but little, they have to let their sinews bend and twist, work hard at keeping them aloft, far above the bottom which is a sort of destiny and death.

Each of them can be anything, a straight line, a dusty horseshoe, an exploding seaweed, a violent flower, a taxi upturned, a vertical road, a bashed-up song, a thought without a ladder, a dancing boat, a frequency of being, an empty corridor.

But they choose to be in their bodies, the atoms of their being imploding with effort, forever trapped in a rigid path, swimming on the seams of the ocean, where they could be the blue fabric that builds it instead.

Their wings tire, those things of vapid effort, each bone and feather contracts and revolts, yet they hold them together, trying to rise, forever looking down, afraid of falling.

They do not know all they have to do is surrender.

Not fly, but float, not think, not feel, just be.

Then falling and flying would be the same, life and death will mingle, fear and exhilaration would be the water itself, and they could be inside of their winged bodies or out, it would but matter little.

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219 words, 10 minutes. Random words, lines, an exercise in timed writing based on a picture prompt. Daily writing exercises can be such a fun, unwinding, unraveling time. Just a river of words, simple.

Sarawak Crocodile, Kuching Snapshots


Sarawak River Crocodile, Kuching

Sarawak River Crocodile, Kuching

If you look at the photo, the stuff hanging on top is my writing for today, and the one making a go for it, is me…

The Argument for Writing as Therapy


“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those, who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear, which is inherent in a human condition”

Graham Greene: The Argument for Writing as Therapy

Graham Greene: The Argument for Writing as Therapy

So says Graham Greene. He should know, because his biography bears witness to how writing became therapeutic in his own life.

“The recurring themes of treachery and betrayal in Greene’s writing stem from his troubled school years where he was often tormented for being the headmaster’s son. After several suicide attempts, Greene left school one day and wrote to his parents that he did not wish to return. This culminated in his being sent to a therapist in London at age fifteen. His analyst, Kenneth Richmond, encouraged him to write and introduced him to his circle of literary friends which included the poet Walter de la Mare.”

There is no denying that most writers use their personal experience to base their fiction, but somehow, I find that I do my worst writing when I try writing as therapy. It is always the unselfconscious writing exercise that gives birth to an interesting character, or a particular voice.

It is this character that takes over in later drafts, and the story forms of itself. In fact, in my writing, I feel like my only credit lies in editing and /or re-writing.

Writing for me is less therapy and more entertainment, a sort of interesting time-suck that leads to stories, more or less involuntarily.

I have tried writing on the basis of an idea, a place, an experience. But it always seems forced. Only when they go somewhere deep into my unconscious and surface much later that they resonate with me, and I hope, would do so with my eventual audience.

Daily writing exercise, here I come.

Writing Daily Writing Exercises or Not


Writing Exercises

Writing Exercises

While writing on writing the last few weeks, I have been caught with a dilemma: to write everyday or not…

If you listen to writing coaches, writing everyday is elementary, the more you practice, the better your craft will be, you can be your own best teacher, and so on.

To me, I’ve been writing more on the inside, sometimes for days things would float about in my head, connect and disconnect, like atoms hitting against each other, randomly, attracting, repelling. And sometimes, most times, they form something. And then all I have to do is give myself a pen and notebook, and watch myself write.

I know that one part of me suspends itself while the other is writing. This part, that suspends itself, can write everyday, and mostly come out with inane scribbles or articles for my bread and butter.

The other part, which only comes out when the first part is suspended, which makes all those connections in my head, is where the real writing comes from, and I have about as much control over it as I have over my bloodstream. It comes out once in a while, and not daily, like clockwork.

Is the idea for daily writing meant to coax this one out on your bidding? Not sure.

For now, I try to scribble something everyday, not worrying too much about word count, also hoping the part of me that really writes comes out of hiding more often.

Oh, and I’m also hoping  I’m a plain old writer, not schizophrenic. Thoughts?