Tag Archives: Colette Coen

Catching up on my reading, and getting rewarded

28 Mar

I restarted a new subscription to Writing Magazine about a year ago and got second place in one of the first competitions I entered with them. Read it HERE So far so good, but my reading had slipped a bit, as the magazines are crammed full of articles, stories and various other info about outlets etc.

Anyway, I was sitting at my desk today reading January’s edition, and look:

Writing Magazine Jan2017

Bizarrely I was just working on that very story this afternoon to make it fit the word count of another competition. The Scottish Art Club’s short story competition has a hefty entrance fee, but feeling more confident after seeing this.

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Mothers’ Day

21 Mar

Okay, so maybe you can’t afford to send your mum on a round-the-world trip, but you could buy her a book that sends the heroine on such a journey. Even better if your mum remembers the 80s. What book would that be? I hear you say. Oh, you know, don’t you? And don’t worry, one of these days I’ll finish the next book, and give you something different to look at.

Just to guilt trip you – got my Amazon payments for last month – 3p. Really must get on with writing something new.

Postcards in the Attic

1 Dec

When I was younger I collected postcards, and as a result when people were having a clear-out (usually after a death), they would pass me any postcards they found. I knew I had them, I knew there were treasures there, I just kept putting off looking through them. Today, as a precursor to doing some writing, I pulled them out, and they didn’t disappoint. I haven’t reached the Majorca of the early 80s – flamenco dancers with real skirts, but I have, rather handily, found a bundle from Switzerland, Germany and Austria from the 1950s – the era of my current writing project.

Selection of the Collection

Selection of the Collection

Bizarre postcard of Ronnie and Nancy Reagan with their heads swapped, and a cheery one of a V2 flying bomb – wish you were here?

One of the photos has inspired a chain of thought already, and others are helping with the general vibe. Glad I finally opened the box.

After the Beep

4 Nov

After the Beep

He goes to the phone box every day – 20ps in his pocket; the number he used to know by heart, on a scrap of paper.

Some days no one answers, on others a voice gives racing tips. Fewer times now there is the offer of a job – something local, nothing that requires speed.

The walk takes longer each day, the occasional stumble; the rare fall. He had a phone put in in the 70s, has the latest smart technology in his inside pocket, but each day he varies his route to the last phone box, hoping that before he dies, the voice on the end of the line will reveal where the loot is buried.

 

This post was inspired by a photo on Creative Writing Ink

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Inheritance

3 Nov

‘And now,’ Clare said, ‘do you regret not opening the door.

She’d caught her at a bad time, otherwise Eve would never have shared so much with Clare, but once she had started it had all come out. She re-focused on the obituary in her hand, carefully cut from a newspaper and sent thousands of miles.

She had made the journey in the opposite direction two years before. The streets of her home town had been both familiar and foreign. A differently coloured front door causing her mind to falter, to stop the memory, to check the dream.

She’d driven the rental out to the farm, parking a mile away, then walking slowly towards the house. At no point did she think she wouldn’t go through with it. Her kids had jobs now, no longer dependent on her; and her divorce settlement allowed her to book the plane ticket with barely a thought.

It was only when she was there, her hand on the doorknob, that she hesitated.

A noise from within startled her. Footsteps. A nicotine-strained cough. The scrape of a chair.

Fear clenched at her stomach, anger at her bowels. The scars she had etched on her thighs with sharpened sticks, pulled.

She wasn’t sure if she had come to forgive or seek forgiveness.

‘Do you regret not opening the door?’ Clare repeated.

What Eve couldn’t explain was that she had heard no raised voices, no pitiful cries or smashes of crockery. But she could feel the quiet disappointment oozing through the door; the aggressive silences; the oppressive power.

‘No,’ Eve said finally. ‘Je ne regrette rien.’ She smiled, deflecting with humour.

‘And did your mother leave you anything?’ Clare asked, picking for secrets to share at her book group.

Eve nodded. ‘I inherited everything.’

 

 

This piece was inspired by this prompt at Creative Writing Ink

 

prompt door open

Away with the Fairies

3 Nov

When the children asked why Granny couldn’t remember their names, or talked to them like they were her childhood friends, I couldn’t bear to use the words – Dementia, Alzheimer’s. Their little tongues wouldn’t be able to wrap themselves around the syllables, so said she was away with the fairies. It made them giggle, satisfied their curious minds. It made me wonder how long I had accepted the same explanation when my mum used it for my little Nan. How long before I drummed up the courage to ask if it was really the fairies that were occupying her mind. From my reading of the Brownie Handbook, I would have thought it was more likely to be imps, making Nan leave the gas on to boil the electric kettle dry; making her strip to her girdle and knickers, and walk out to meet the postman.

It seemed appropriate that we took Mum out to the woods to scatter her. The roots of blown down trees looked like fairy skyscrapers, with nooks and crannies to hide precious memories. A ring of mushrooms under an oak. Stones neatly piled. Tinkling in the breeze.

‘What do we do now?’ Moya asked.

The rituals at the church and crematorium were for others to command, now it was my turn, and I struggled under the weight of expectation. A new tradition about to be born through this death.

‘Form a circle,’ I said, thinking back to my childhood’s Thursday nights. ‘Hold hands. Now we skip.’

John looked at me, and I knew he thought I’d gone too far.

‘Even Daddy?’

‘Especially Daddy.’

We skipped in a circle as I mumbled incantations from all the cultures that had brewed in my life. Then I broke the circle, stood in the middle, a tight little group, clasping hands around me. I took her from my pocket, and silently asked the fairies to look after her.

This story was written in response to this prompt at Creative Writing Ink

A photo by Robert Lukeman. unsplash.com/photos/_RBcxo9AU-U

And Breathe

24 Sep

I know you didn’t know I’d been away, but I have and now I’m home so I thought it was finally time to blog (a little) about what I’ve been up to. Without breaking any medical confidences, I’ve just spent 11 nights in the parents’ accommodation of a large children’s hospital in a city other than the one in which I live.

I’ll not go into details, but suffice to say the whole experience was worthwhile but horrible to live through – and I was only the one sitting by the hospital bed, and not in it.

Anyway, this isn’t a medical blog, it’s a writing one, so here goes:

As I sat, sometimes with my husband, sometimes without, in a variety of wards, kitchens and lounge areas with other parents, I was amazed how much people needed to talk, to tell their stories, to tell the stories of their children. As a women, I’ve been in situations before when I’ve listened to, and told, traumatic stories (normally about childbirth), but my husband hasn’t really and I think he was quite taken aback by people’s openness. It did strike me though how fundamental a need we have to tell these stories, even, or especially, when we are in the middle of trauma/stress/grief.

It also struck me that there is inevitably a form of sympathy competition, where each parent wants to be the one getting rather than giving the sympathy, but none of us want to have the worst story, as that would mean our child might be the one who doesn’t make it.

On a lighter note, as my child did, and is now making good use of her bell to keep me running after her – every day I tried to get a bit of fresh air, and luckily the hospital was situated right next to a large park in the heart of the university area. When I came back my walk I had to regale H with the sights I’d seen. A man on a skateboard isn’t very exciting, but when he’s being pulled by huskies it is. A couple trying and failing to tightrope walk is quite amusing, and a busker who verbally abused posh kids for clapping was just quite disturbing. Anyway, by telling stories about my little walks, it passed a little time.

What didn’t pass the time was me reading, writing or doing anything other than helping H get back on her feet. I had envisaged a Heidi- type scenario with me reading Jane Austen to her, while she lay meekly on the bed. Didn’t realise that once she was off the morphine, I’d be taking over much of her care to prepare us for home. I was absolutely wrecked by the time we left, both physically and mentally, but am finally beginning to re-connect with the outside world, even though H’s recuperation is far from over, and am thinking again about my novel – did I tell you it is set in a hospital…

Final word – the staff at the hospital were absolutely amazing. Comforting, caring and cajoling. Love our NHS.

 

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