Tag Archives: Creative Writing Ink

Toro Bravo

28 Jul

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Flamenco comes from the heart ­ the blood pulsating around your body, twisting your arms, contorting your hands. Toro Bravo, the bull, the flashing red skirts of MariePaz, we dance our battle.

The rhythm makes its way unfiltered to my feet as they stamp the beat on the ground, and to my hands as they clap in syncopation. I can feel the veins in my neck, my forehead. I look at MariePaz ­ she is absorbed in the dance. The passion she once felt for me, and I for her, now expended solely in the performance.

The music stops, and we hold our final pose. Our all-inclusive audience clap as I mop my brow.

 

Inspired by the above photographic prompt at Creative Writing Ink

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Kentucky Derby

28 Jul

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Kentucky Derby

She handed me a crisp pound note, fresh from her pension. ‘Get five shillings and the rest in smash.’

At nine, I am already taller than my wee Granny, so I go up to the booth and translate the request into new money.

Diane likes the tupenny falls. The exact timing of dropping the coppers in, watching them fall, pushing other coins forward. Some drop onto the next level to be raked, moving others tantalisingly close to the win.

Granny stands at the one-arm bandit. She anticipates three cherries while building up the muscles in her right arm. We’ll get an ice-cream push-up if she wins big.

Both games are too sedentary for me. I am drawn to the Kentucky Derby. I play it every day, building up my winning tokens to be exchanged for a prize on the last day of the holidays. There’s a teddy bear for a hundred tokens, though Granny says it would be cheaper to buy. I really like it though, even if I just have fifteen tokens with six days to go.

I put my money in the slot, wait for my ball to roll to the front of my game area. I like to sit on the third seat, three being my lucky number, the date of my birth. The ball is yellow, which I like too, as are the coloured border of the target holes. I don’t mind if someone else is already in my seat, it doesn’t put me off, but gives an added challenge.

When the man running the stall figures that no one else is coming, he puts us under starters orders. The horses are all ready, waiting for our commands. And they’re off.

You need to be quick. Rolling your ball up the slope. Aiming for the three-point hole, but satisfied with a two. My horse moves forward ­ one, two.

Commentary blares over the speakers, filling the whole arcade. ‘And Number Six is leading by a head.’

There’s a fat man who plays all day, or at least all the times I’m here. He’s my main rival. But what he has in speed, I make up in accuracy. I’m ahead. The race is on. I can see his sideways glance, but I am under strict instructions not to talk to him.

Diane comes up behind me, wants to show me her handful of winnings, but I blank her out for a few more seconds to secure my win.

I’m handed my token, and pop it in the sparkly purse, which I wear diagonally across my body. I take out another coin to start again.

When we run out of money it means it’s time to go back to the flat that Mum’s friend lets us have. When it’s raining, we run ahead of Granny, while she braves the elements in her summer coat and rain mate. But if it’s dry, which it sometimes is, we shorten our steps to walk beside her, as she limps along with her rickety legs and bad hip.

I tell her about my races, and ask if we’ll get ice cream from Nardini’s later. And she tells me again, not to talk to the fat man, who sits all day at the Kentucky Derby, trying to get enough tokens for a giant teddy bear.

 

This piece was inspired by the CHANGE prompt at Creative Writing Ink

 

The Wedding Party

4 Mar

The Wedding Party

She’d been to these parties before, when a bride wants another wear out of her wedding dress. ‘It’ll be fun,’ Stacy said. ‘All the girls from the office are coming. Another chance to feel really special, eh Christine?’

It was also a chance to have a snide look at your friends’ weight gain; the not- yet-revealed pregnancies; the workmates who would have to make excuses because their dress came out of the hire shop, or the man they called their husband wasn’t really.

Christine had no such worries: at forty she had accumulated three traditional white frocks and two less formal ones – one from the beach wedding with Javier, (who turned out to be gay); and a grey suit from the Registry Office with James, who believed that everything should be functional (he was a bag of laughs).

Stacy’s party definitely called for white, but no amount of SlimFasting would get her into the dress she wore when she married Andy. She was so tiny then, withered away to almost nothing. Three kids later, and a hell of a lot of comfort eating and she was in a plus size for Ali. He said he liked something to hold onto, but it turned out he wasn’t great at holding onto anything.

So those two were out. All that was left was her first dress. The one that made her mum cry when she tried it on. The one that made the girls in the bridal shop rush with a veil and shoes to pop on, and even an artificial bouquet that she could hold in front of her, so she could get the full impression in the mirror.

She lifted it off the hanger, and slipped it on again. After the years of a yo-yoing waistline, it just about fitted. She circled the gold band on her finger; the one Euan had given her twenty years before. The one she had refused to remove for Javier and Ali and Andy and James. The one she had kept faithful with throughout all the subsequent failures.

Maybe if she wore this dress to Stacy’s party she would stand out among the other brides. Maybe Euan would realise what a mistake he had made. And Stacy would regret inviting her new husband’s ex-wife to her stupid wedding party.

This piece was inspired by a prompt at Creative Writing Ink

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

 

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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

Holiday Packing

20 Jul

One of my pet hates is packing for holidays. Don’t get me wrong – I love holidays, I adore holidays, I want to be on holiday all the time, but I really hate packing.

My husband travels quite a bit with work so has packing down to a fine art and can’t understand why I get so stressed. Maybe it’s the weeks of preparation – do the kids have clothes and sandles to fit; will last year’s trunks do or I need to drag my boys to the shops; can I stand another trip to New Look with my daughter; do we have all the medication we will require for two weeks?

In theory things are easier now – the kids are more or less old enough to pack for themselves, and there are always shops where we’re going (no matter how prepared I am, we rarely/never have a family holiday without a trip to the pharmacy). I’ve also found that having a large glass of wine before I even reach for my case really helps with the stress levels. This year I’m packing over two, if not three days, which I think might be a good idea, so staying sober, and taking things in stages.

After the clothes and toiletries are packed (books always go in first), I’ve taken a wee bit of time to think about what I might achieve writing-wise on holiday. I’m not taking my computer, so writing huge chunks of my novel is not going to happen – it is a holiday after all. But writing gives me pleasure, and having some time to indulge is wonderful, so I’ve packed my Mslexia and Writing Magazine, my notebook and a couple of writing maps from Write Around Town. I’ve also noted down written prompts from the photos of on Creative Writing Ink – in case I can’t see them on my phone in the bright Portuguese sun.

So I’m hoping for a few flash pieces, maybe a short story and some notes/scenes for my novel.

Note to Burglars (from a paranoid blogger): I’ve scheduled this to appear after I’m home, so no coming round trying to rob me.

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