Monday, June 25, 2007

A small but perfectly formed competition - results

Two winners because I am an indecisive creature.

Well done Canterbury Soul and Mutley the Dog

Thank you for all the entries. For a competition that gave you less than a week I think the standard was brilliant!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

12. Captured still hanging - Taffiny

His leather shoes on the marble floor, moving in long smooth strides. She is upstairs, in the contemporary wing of the museum. He longs to be with her. He enters, eyes cast downward, the paintings on either side, a blur. He finds his exact placement on the bench, only then does he look up, taking all of her in at once. Feelings rush through him. His back straight, dark suit perfectly aligned, uncreased, but soon he will yield, and be unaware of his posture. A stillness within him, he only feels when he is with her. She doesn’t turn to look at him, she never does, maybe that is why he forever longs for her “ just turn and look at me”. She is captured, still, and hanging, a moment in time, yet somehow, she represents everything to him.

He knows many women, is continually dating, but no matter how pretty or clever, he feels nothing. With her, he feels it would be different “I know I could love her”. Walking down the street, the sight of a woman, in a pale trench-coat, or white dress, dark hair pinned up, makes him gasp, “one day, one of these women will turn around and it will be her”.

He knows his affection is odd, he once forced himself to stay away. Shaky and uneasy, after three weeks he took out the postcard of her, bought to help him if it became too much to endure, but when he looked at it, it wasn’t the same, it was just color on paper, nice, but didn’t make him feel anything. “What if this feeling is gone?” He rushed to her, emotions once again crashed over him, then calmness. Something about the paint on the canvas, the thickness, overlapping colors, the way light hits it, presses parts of his soul, and sings, in the picture, and through him. He can’t touch her, can’t run his hands over her surface, but he can stand really close, her form becoming thousands of dots, then walk slowly backward, to see at what moment, streaks of color become a woman. He doesn’t try to understand what it is that strikes him so. He needs to see her, to feed this hope, “that somewhere there exists a woman I can love.”. If he stopped feeling this way about her, then he would feel this way, about no one.

He wonders how long he can hold onto this feeling of hope, that he can be like other people, can love. Will he just give up someday, feel he was crazy, foolish, to waste his time staring at a painting, believing it could hold some clue, to a possible future? His dream, a vision of one day, holding the hand of a woman, who makes him feel the way this picture does, wondering if he will ever have the courage to tell her, he fell in love with her a long time ago through a painting.


Taffiny blogs HERE at To Taste a Peach

Friday, June 22, 2007

11. Her time alone - Seamus Kearney

It was mother’s time. Every morning between five and seven. No one was allowed to spoil it. Terence, Keith and I had no choice but to obey. We knew that to do anything else would’ve been too painful. She never had to hit us to make us stay in bed; she simply had to cry. Her power had always been in her tears. She would weep with sharp little intakes of breath, just like she did that night the phone rang and all colour seemed to disappear, when people streamed through the house with wide, strained eyes, repeating lots of exaggerated things about my father.

Mysteries for children, though, are unbearable. One summer morning, way before the alarm sounded, I decided that I had to see for myself how mother spent those few hours alone. It had never occurred to me that all I had to do was sneak along the edge of the landing and in behind the statue that my father had brought back from Moscow. Between the smooth legs of some handsome Russian oligarch, I had a splendid view of the living and dining rooms.

At first I didn’t spot her, probably because I had expected to see some kind of obvious activity such as letter writing or the altering of one of her dresses. When I finally spotted her shape by the window, way off to my left, I was surprised at how elegant and relaxed she looked in her dressing gown. My mother was standing before me and nothing looked familiar. I had never seen her chest area so uncovered. I had never seen her with a hand on her hip, actually looking rather sexy. I had to fight the urge to go and wake up Terence and Keith.

I remained in the same position for a good ten minutes, with my knees scrunched up to my chin. I just watched her. It didn’t feel wrong. It didn’t feel like anything. After a while I tried to imagine what her eyes might be fixed on. She hardly moved, except to raise her mug to her lips a few times. I kept looking. She kept looking. I imagined that our breathing shared the same measured, relaxed pace.

Then, without any warning, she put a hand up and started waving. There was something unreal and disturbing about the wave though; the movement was slow and deliberate, as if she weren’t sure if the other person could see her. I immediately understood.

When mother turned around to place her mug on the table, I could tell that she’d been crying: the tears had made her chest all shiny and the skin beneath her eyes was swollen. I desperately wanted to race down the stairs and comfort her, to tell her that things would get easier with time, just as she’d told the three of us. But I didn’t. I dared not move, afraid of how she might react. This was her time alone.


Seamus blogs HERE at Shameless Words

10. Adjustment - Roberta

They told her she would have to go through a period of adjustment.
There are exactly three hundred and sixteen tiles in the ceiling. The neighbor comes home at exactly 6:14 in the evening. Their dog barks fourteen times in the night.
She sighed and rolled over to his side of the bed, reaching for something familiar, to find only a pillow – a new pillow. His closets were bare. She’d given away every article of clothing he’d owned. She’d burned his underwear in a fit of rage and thrown out his toothbrush and his razor. She’d broken half the dishes.
There were days when she didn’t leave the house. Friends would call with concern. “I’m FINE!” she would tell them as she crawled on her hands and knees to make sure that nothing of him was in the house. “He’s dead. I’m fine.” And then she would find herself sitting in the middle of a darkened hall weeping.
He’d always had a penchant for blondes.
Mr. Carl Bruinheld had come home early from work to find her husband in the throws of passion with Mrs. Carl Bruinheld. The police report said he had removed the revolver from the dresser and shot them both before they could get dressed and bolt. He shot the pretty Mrs. Bruinheld in the face. He chose to cripple her husband before he finally finished him off.
She admired the man.
Now she paces the house through the night. Rage does not keep easy company. It robs one of sleep and keeps one motivated to move like a caged tiger.
At dawn, she can be seen in the window as the street lamps go out. She seems to be staring at something -searching -a cold cup of coffee in her hand.
Perhaps she is looking for adjustment?


Roberta blogs HERE at Turn the Page Roberta

9. Door left open - Canterbury Soul

Aubrey puffed the cigarette. She refused to cry. The emotions from within could still be contained. She knew she had done the right thing. As much as she cherished her girl, she had to do it.
Alan put his hand on her shoulder. His touch reaffirmed their faith in each other. He knew he was right. There could not be another way out. As much as he cherished his girl, they had to do it.
The screen had been telling a promising story. Images of her eclipsed the dark side of the house. The playground, the barn, the pony ride, the swimming pool, the birthday cake… Her life could have gone on to a fireworks display.
“……happy birthday to Adele! happy birthday to you!” the cheers and applause preceded the end of the movie clip.
“It’s time now,” Alan kissed her on the cheek. “I’ll wait for you.” He disappeared through the door.
Aubrey finished her last bit and put the stub away. Then, it came. The sorrow from deep down surfaced tremendously and took over her entire being. She wept, her hands on her face. She went on for about five minutes, absolutely losing control.
Then, all of a sudden, the tears stopped completely. She removed her hands from the face that was scarred with trails of her mascara.
She stood and moved towards the long flight of stairs. She scaled it slowly, and came to her door. It was left open. She pushed it away and walked to the bed. Alan was there, head hung low. He was sobbing. Aubrey put her hands on his shoulders and pulled herself close.
“I’m sorry, Adele! I’m really sorry!” he couldn’t help but utter, visibly shaken. She was the composed one now. Perhaps, she had dried up all her grief. She took her husband’s hand and placed it on the girl’s face with hers. It was already cold by then. Obviously the drug had worked. She was gone.
They stayed there for quite awhile.
They took one last look at their motionless girl. No more goodbyes, no more pain. They left and came to their lounge. Aubrey sat on the bar stool. Alan went behind the counter and uncovered it from a locked box.
“I love you!” he said, looking at her.
“I love you too!” she answered, eyes closed.
He put it on her head. He pulled the trigger, and she was gone.
He placed it on his and pulled. He was gone too.
The sunlit rays filtered through the curtains and woke her up. She just had a long, wonderful dream. The little girl stretched her tiny body. Then, she was up. She saw the door that was left open. She yelled in excitement and ran through it, the pacifier still in her mouth.
“Mummy! Daddy!” she shouted as she searched. Then, she saw it… through the balcony. The morning sky was bathed in a golden hue. She just stood there, admiring God’s gorgeous backdrop. She smiled.


Canterbury Soul blogs HERE at Doors Left Open

Thursday, June 21, 2007

8. Half an hour - Vesper

The Rolls arrived at 6 o’clock, sliding silently, and stopped by the kerb, underneath the street lamp whose fading light somehow fuelled the illusion that the night was still there. That night of all dreams, and all fall backs.

She didn’t flinch, did not withdraw. She held the steaming mug in her hands, as if its mere closeness were enough to thaw her freezing core, or lift her sinking heart. She cared little if he could see her from down there. She imagined him, behind the darkened windows, on the wide leather seat, his morning suit impeccable, his hands resting quietly at his sides, the crisp unopened newspaper next to him. «Financial Magnate Elopes with Prima Ballerina», that front page might show in a week or so. A tiny rueful smile curved her lips.

“I’ll be here at six,” he’d said, just as he was leaving her flat the evening before. His eyes had sparkled for a moment, so fugitively that it could be only an illusion. “But you must come down. I won’t come up.” She frowned at the lingering coldness in his words, even as he held her tight, hands on her bare shoulder-blades, lips on her neck.

At six-fifteen, the rear window slid down and cigarette smoke spiraled into the cool morning air. He’s getting impatient, she thought.

Almost against her will, she breathed deeper, as if she could possibly catch a whiff of that smoke, wondering if he was looking at her through that narrow space above the tinted window.

“I’ll wait for half an hour.” So much like him, to speak in absolutes, give ultimatums.

Still time, to throw the peignoir aside, to slide into her worn jeans, maybe to call at him, foolishly, from the window, knowing that he would deeply disapprove of that.

Still time, maybe, to tell him about the plane tickets for Greece that she had bought as a surprise for him.

She looked around the room. Her red suitcase was standing by the door. The bed, in which she hadn’t slept that night, still held the shapes of their love, if not the warmth.

“I won’t continue like this,” he’d said. “I will leave them. We shall take the Channel train to Paris tomorrow.”

“Your daughter will…”

“I want you.”

So curtly.

… as another beautiful object, she had finished silently the sentence, just as she was making up her mind, right then, with the face of his daughter, wide eyed, and so trusting, floating before her eyes.

Yet, had he run over the street to her, had he at least come out of the car and look up at her window, she might have – even now - gone to him.

“Darling,” she whispered. “I will let you go…”

At half past six, the automobile started rolling down the street. She took a sip of tepid coffee and lifted her eyes to watch the rising sun. Plenty of time to catch the plane to Athens.


Vesper blogs HERE at Chick with a Quill

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

7. An evening in - Good Thomas

The dinner party starts in one hour but she insists. And I cannot refuse. I have never been able to. I am weak when I am near her.

She looks to me, a stern and intent look. “I must,” she says simply. Her curly dark hair pulled up, an armless black dress silhouetting her thin figure. There is a great strength in her exposed arms, in her heels, the solid black that accentuates a solid line. She is a vision of perfection, every curl a perfect ring, everything just as it should be. In one hour, I will sit across from her as she converses with the bespectacled man on her left, laughing with the blond woman on her right. I will watch her smile, her outstretched fingers move about as she talks. I will watch her eyes narrow as she discusses the book she is reading, the presidential candidates or what constitutes “good design.” Later in the evening, we will dance and I will hold her body close to mine, hoping that by letting all of my love surround her, she will forget her strength, and she will never leave me.

I tell her that now is not the time for this, but her look says she will not be deterred or persuaded otherwise. She reaches out and rests her fingers on my chest. “I don’t know why. I don’t know why now, but I must. I must do it. I know it will make us late but I must do it now,” she says and smiles. She knows that all she has to do is ask. I want to make her happy.

I return her smile, for I am weak within her vulnerability. I must give her what she desires. She lights a cigarette and slowly sits in the chair. I ease behind her, my hand grazing the top of her shoulder, her skin soft to the touch, but I do not look at her as she slides deep into the chair, her left hand gripping the arm. I reach down with my right hand and push the silver lever, and the machine winds itself into a whirl, and a beam of light shoots forth, illuminating the wall. The film begins to turn on the metal reels, moving across the light. I swallow, deliberately, for I cannot bear what we are about to witness, yet I cannot turn my eyes from the screen.

I feel her breathe, almost in time with my own breath. On the screen, in a faded purple shirt, he is sitting behind a birthday cake, three yellow candles awash in yellow flames. Her hand comes into the frame and moves the cake slightly. He smiles and looks to the camera. Her face appears, curly dark hair pulled back, and kisses him on his head, her right hand brushes the spot where her lips had just been.

As the film projector vibrates beneath me, I whisper that it is time to go.


Good Thomas blogs HERE at Good Thomas.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

6. Stolen away - Mutley Dog

“There are eight in front of me, and one behind me!”

The voice announcing my arrival in the Post Office queue was unfamiliar. A figure in his fifties a black man - a West Indian - in dark glasses, a white stick heralding his blindness. He did not turn his head as I took my place behind him. Short grey hairs protruding over the blue collar-shirt from the nape of his neck, a crumpled brown coat, jeans, sandals over socks

“There are six in front of me, and three behind me.”

His voice was deep holding the accent of his youth, but his tone simply conversational, nevertheless heard everywhere around the cluttered shop. He did not move a muscle, no reaction as the queue moved forward. There was no indication how he knew who was coming – who was going, what was around him.

“There are four in front of me and four behind me !”

A slight hint of a smile in his voice, he continued without moving his head, “Hello Jack, there behind me – how are you?”

Unease at the uncanny rose inside me, the parcel heavy in my hand, flat and square, safely wrapped in brown paper- my stolen Vettriano, travelling incognito. Just a coincidence, a mad old blind man pulling a parlour trick, listening to who came and went, using his ears to tell him what we – the sighted -could all see anyway. I pushed a faint grin onto my face. Pointless to smile at the blind a voice told me.

“My names not Jack .” I started, hating the quiver in my voice “It's William, I’m pleased to meet you.” Taking control “You were right about the number in the queue though.” Lame and patronising, that should do it.

“There are three in front of me and seven behind me.” He observed, less calmly now.

He still hadn’t turned his head. But his white long cane was twitching in front of him.

“But if you’re William – then” He moved the white long cane to one side, then the other. Moving like a snake hunting through grass. “That makes eight behind me – with Jack….” He tailed off and for the first time seemed unsure. He paused for a long moment, the queue was silent listening for his conclusion

“Where the hell is Jack?” He asked, his head turning now sightless eyes searching behind him and around him.

Sweat gathering about me, I turned and headed quickly to wards the door, this had got a little to close. Hugging my stolen painting against my chest, feeling it cool and heavy. Ten years in prison in a parcel.

“There are two in front of me and only FIVE behind – William's gone – and Jack Vettriano's gone too.”

His voice carried into the street, as I scurried off to safety.


Mutley Dog blogs (amongst others) HERE at Alloted Span

Saturday, June 16, 2007

5. Cine Club - Barbara Smith

‘Curious, this little film, isn’t it?’
‘I know, I never get tired of it.’
Her cigarette smoke wafted into the light trail of the projector, making the grainy tone of the film slide further almost out of focus. Other eyes in the room watched her face for a trace of reaction. She kept her face neutral, not allowing any emotions to travel there. Michael thought it amusing to show these moments sliced from his family archive. Martha shifted slightly, ash slipping onto the ground. She took another luxurious drag and blew the smoke out in a rush in front of her. She almost couldn’t see the images playing out another drawing room scene – one where the predictability bored her beyond the next cigarette. Nana standing up; Nana reaching towards the camera; Nana shaking her head. But there, there was a telling detail that Martha hadn’t noticed before: a small bottle on the table nest beside Nana’s armchair. There was something. Martha sat up now paying attention to the film. Nana’s eyes seemed heavy, her gestures muted, almost clumsy – not how Nana was. As the film snapped and flapped around the reel uselessly, Martha crushed the cigarette in the tray. She had questions that would not stay inside her smooth marble throat. Not tonight.
Michael rummaged with the film trying to get it back on the projector. Martha yawned. ‘You know, it’d probably be best if you left that now.’
Michael frowned at the infernal machine and turned to Martha. ‘Slip me one of your fags,’ he smiled, pleased at her attention. She passed him cigarettes and lighter. He lit one and exhaled a smoky draught in a smooth motion. ‘Poor Nana, that was probably the last time I got her with the cinecamera.’
‘Yes, I should think it was.’ Martha’s voice dripped acid and Michael looked at her, a query forming in his eyes.
‘How do you mean?’
‘There was a bottle on the table beside her – didn’t you see?’
‘Her tablets – I’d never forget that blue label: the amount of times I had to pop it open for her.’
‘Yes, her tranquilisers. What about them?’
‘They were knocked over.’
Martha turned away from Michael and stared at the blank pull-down screen, wondering how to frame the next few words.
‘Do you mean that...’
‘Can’t be sure now: it was ten years ago.’ She smiled back at him, head turned away from their guests, an eyebrow raised in a perfect black arc. He stared at her, as comprehension sank in suddenly, a boulder of uncertainty muddying the past. He thought quickly.
‘But the coroner report...’
‘I know,’ she countered.
‘And the carer ... she did fifteen years with Nana.’
‘Yes, dear. I know.’ Martha smoothed the vowels over in a finite measure. She looked away from him again and turned towards the Robinsons.
‘Now, then – who’s for a game of cards?’

Cailleach blogs HERE at Barbara's Bleughh

4. Projector - Jon Mayhew

The image bubbled and spread like a bloodstain on the screen. Except it was white, pure light. Not red. Molten celluloid and cigarettes smoke. The insane metronome click, click, click, click proclaimed the vanishing time.Speeding, careening a car on a bend to tight to turn. Waiting for the pathetic, tin crunch, never an explosion and rending of metal. Never a rolling, twisting, screaming ball of destruction. Just a bump, a clank, a click and a sudden jarring, neck twisting. Full stop.


Click, click, click, click. The ragged tatter of celluloid lashes itself with remorse of a memory melted, burnt, cauterised but not clean. My heavy heart is cold. Its chambers are loaded with bad memories but only one with the bullet that will kill the me and you, sitting and watching. Click, each turn brings realisation. Click; what we saw was the past. Click, when we were young. Click, too young. Click, different people.


Click. No explosion, no spattering of gore or rending of flesh.


A hat.


A coat.


A final click.


As the door closes behind him.


John Mayhew blogs HERE at Writing in a Vacuum

3. Baby, Bye Bye - Wanderlust Scarlett

As I find ways out of the night
Darkness fades into dim light
And so do you, my lover gone
Distance takes you far and long

Did you come and reach for me
In secret and in dire need
Urgent fire burned in haste
Blinded passion here misplaced

I held you close to make you feel
Like you were young and it was real
To taste hot lust and satisfy hunger
Prove prowess as when you were younger

Heated desire within your touch
Fast it pales and cools so much
Washed away your selfish torment
Passing with each empty moment

A tempest night you won’t regret
And miles that you’ll soon forget
You’ll justify the wrong to right
Black sin washed in dawn’s new light

In thoughts of her as you disappear
Of all the love and all the years
And all your life and promises,
For her, cold hands and lying kisses

And slowly though I turn at day
A trace of you will always stay
And I’ll go on, a new life found
And chance for me may still abound

Memories linger and shadows drift
But over time the ache will lift
And I will wonder if it was real
If we only touched or did we feel

Nothing really stays or lasts
So I’ll be strong and time will pass
Our roads will reach so far away
And never will there come a day

When your hand reaches out to mine
And suddenly we wake to find
That this was not a reverie;
Heart for her, and hands for me

One long last look, then turn and try
To let you go my Baby, Bye Bye


Scarlett blogs HERE at From the shores of Introspect and Retrospect

Friday, June 15, 2007

2. Picture Two - Theonlygolux

I watch her face as celluloid ripples through the projector, her flickers of emotion mirroring those she showed on screen. The passion running into her again as she watches its imprint move upon the screen, a flash of distaste as the camera zooms in on her thighs, a sparkle of desire as it shows the man's muscled back. She never liked her thighs, and always coveted those of other men than I.
His face always hidden, his blond hair falling over features I want to destroy, to rip apart, despoil. His back muscled, tanned and bare. I need to ask but I stand frozen, unable to ask, titillated and disgusted as whoever shot the film zooms in and pans down her body, her black hair falling over perfect pearly flesh. Looking down I see the same flesh curving away from her hair and sliding out of sight beneath her dress, flesh I ache to hold, to squeeze and scratch in passion.
Despite myself she still exerts a hold upon me, drawing me to her, to smell her, touch her, feel her. Above the screen turns pink with naked bodies as they intertwine. I have seen it before, watched it disbelieving, resigned a dozen times before I asked to see her. Where it came from, for what purpose it was made I cannot guess, I cannot even tell the effect it has on me. It should make me wish to spurn her, beat her, kill her, but it makes me want her more.
Her cigarette sits forgotten in her hand, the smoke curling up into the light, breaking apart, turning and spiralling, rolling and boiling in the air that sits between us, stale and silent with unease. Her breath comes faster as her image reaches climax. I can tell she wants to ask to see the film again, but I will not accede to her request. The celluloid whips as it leaves one reel behind, moving onwards to a new pursuit, tearing the screen to white. It is time to speak. The silence must be broken.
She turns to me and opens lips I want to kiss, raises eyes that I can see no love in any longer. She does not speak, just sits and looks at me.
"I'm sorry, darling." I hear myself saying, against my will, but I cannot fight those eyes, her lips, her perfect skin commands me beg for my forgiveness. "I am sorry."
Theonlygolux blogs HERE at Concepts for a Buntiful World

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

1. Jack Poo - Skintwriter

It is like a pint of cool frothy beer on hot day in June; it is like a Christmas drink glowing with warmth and promising a snuggle in front of a fire. It is a beautifully painted composition with colours that resonate and calm. But is it art?
Because it is a lie.
And art is the truth.
It is superficial; it has no depth. It does not touch the soul. It is an emissary of a set of dangerous myths, beguiling us with its prettiness, but brings nothing to our humanity.
Stick it on the front of a chocolate box please, but not on my wall.


Skint blogs HERE