28 March 2010

Magpie Tales #7...Fox


The daffodils hang their heads, bowing to the ground. The early morning air is crisp and damp.
I pad toward them, sniffing here and there. My bushy, amber tail is suspended just above the dewdrops.
Crack!
I jump as I hear a loud noise. I lope into a hedge to hide.
After a few moments, I emerge; first my nose, then one paw - two paws - cautiously coming out.
I sniff again at the grass. I place one paw in front of the other carefully onto the ground, not disturbing the spiders' webs in the grass.
Bang!
I feel a pain in my side. I turn. My side is dark and sticky, gushing red blood. I try to lick at it, soothe it, clean it. The daffodils bend back from where they were hunched by the rush of air.
I falter, my legs weakening. They don't support me. Traitors. I collapse on the ground.
I try to yelp as I feel a presence, a shadow over me. All I can mange is a sickly gurgle. A trickle of blood escapes my lips.
He looks down into my eyes.
I look up at his; small and squinty, blue like ice, that stare indifferently down at me. His thoughts are unreadable.
I blink. The twin darkness of identical barrels on a shotgun press down in the air above my face.
Bang!
I feel a flash, searing my eyes. I close them against it and the pain. But now it stops hurting. I lie still.

The hunter kicks my body with a large dirtied boot, then picks it up by the feet and flings it over his shoulder.
The daffodils, straightening in the sunlight, are cheery yellow. Their false happiness is only marred by the spatter on each of their smiling heads; a faint pattern of death.

26 March 2010

Horror vs...ummm...Not Horror

I think that humans are a pessimistic race at heart. Mothers assume that their children are in peril if they aren't home on time; if a husband is on a suspicious business trip, most wives would assume an affair. Sure these are stereotypes, but they still ring true, don't they?
Some people are optimists, some are outwardly optimistic but pessimistic inside, and then there are the rest of us. I think that no matter how many times we tell ourselves 'it will be fine, there's a good reason why they aren't where they said they'd be,' we are inclined to think the worst.
So what does that have to do with writing? And horror?
Well, a story is made not by what's there, but by what's not there. In other words, the reader has to read between the lines. This makes the reader feel special, because you have trusted them and not revealed everything just by telling it...you have implied it.
But a reader most often assumes the worst. If you speak of a suspicious business trip, the reader will infer that there is an affair.
This might not always be the case though.
Without telling them exactly word for word what's going on, how does one imply to achieve the correct inference from the reader? I can tell you this; it is hard.
So...to side-step this problem, writing dark stories where readers' pessimist assumptions are correct, are easier.
However, sometimes this pessimistic inference can be an advantage...for instance if the story sets up a wife (and reader) to think that the husband is having an affair, when in truth he is planning a surprise party. Neither the wife nor reader will know that their assumptions are incorrect until the last moment, and you have a story.
I think that explains why I write a lot of dark sort of horror stories for Magpie Tales...and it seems #7 is no different...

23 March 2010

Magpie Tales #6...Helen and Rose



The nails have spilled again. Helen feels her feet shrinking away from them as she navigates the floor. Their sharp points rise threateningly. She reaches down and picks one up. His hammer is lying on the bench, the picture frame on the ground, glass shattered. She picks it up tenderly. The picture is still in the frame. She arranges it against the wall.

There is a nail there already, bent in on itself where a stray blow has ruined the perfection. She tugs it out with the claw of the hammer. It falls into her palm and she deposits it in her pocket. She swings back the hammer and taps a new nail into the wall. One is enough.

Helen stretches on tiptoes, leaning over the bench to hang the picture. She steps back to admire it. There is a small stain on the faux gold frame. She rubs at it. It flakes a little, but the ornate surface is pitted with nooks.

She lopes into the house and returns with a moist cloth. She dabs at the stain. It is almost gone now. She looks at the white cloth, now discoloured with red. She starts to cry.

*****

'It was the drinking,' Rose says. 'His hand slipped. I never thought a picture frame would be heavy enough.'

'No.'

Helen's monosyllabic answer doesn't seem to deter her best friend. She hooks an arm around her shoulder. 'It was a small cut, not much blood. He was drunk anyway. It wasn't anything you did, you know,' Rose glances at her for affirmation.

'I know.'

As Rose steers her back to the car, Helen can't help a last look at the grave. It is covered in white flowers. As she watches, a red stain seeps among them, just like the blood that pooled around his head.

She pictures his face as he missed the nail, turning toward her slightly angry, not denying anything. Her hands tremble as she remembers the frame clutched in them. Holding it high, slamming it down. It falling and the glass shattering. The vodka bottle she recycled, the smell of bleach after she cleaned the floor.

Rose glances toward the grave when she notices Helen crying again. She looks at the sea of white flowers. She smiles slightly as she remembers the man who said he loved her. Now no one will know about their affair.

*****

The next day Helen and Rose have coffee in the little cafe by the square. Helen sombrely slides an envelope across the table.
Rose opens it and her eyes widen. She touches her wedding ring briefly and opens her purse.

**************************************
Next week I will try to defer from the recent horror/murder theme.

19 March 2010

Yay! My story/poem (it was sort of both) got published in Writer's Forum!

Yesterday I didn't get home until late (late being eleven o'clock)...so was unable to do anything I was planning to do (which for once did not include posting, though I wouldn't have minded).

17 March 2010

Two Authors...One Blog...Why...HOW?

Seeing how a few people seem to be a little bit confused about how this blog works, having two authors and all, I thought I would attempt to explain in a little more depth.
Well, since my mother (MM) and I are writers, a blog is a good promotional tool. I started this blog for her and for me, way back when I was a total amateur about blogging.
We each post under different names (or are SUPPOSED too...take note MM), so you can tell us apart. Failing that, we each have individual 'voices' as people do, so sometimes one can tell by the tone of the post who wrote it.
However, MM has written seven posts, and those of you who read her post (that looked sort of like a poem) about her hands were treated to her first post since 30 August 2009. On the other hand, I have recently reached my hundredth post, so its fairly obvious who is the real contributor to the blog. MM, as she said, doesn't have a lot of time to post, while I have more, which also means that I post more.
Finally, we don't collaborate on posts (though we often critique and definitely do read each other's posts) but we sometimes get an opinion before the post is posted.
Hopefully that clears things up a bit.

16 March 2010

Hands

Yikes. She has a hand in it.
Literally.
The pressure is on.
Hands everywhere.
Everywhere but where they should be.
ON THE KEYBOARD.
SCRATCHING AT NUMBERS OF NOTEBOOKS.
Nothing seems to come.
I worry that I’ll let her down.
But funny thing is, I’m actually feeling
It won’t be as good as hers.
I’ve never felt this competition before.
She’s my wonderful writer daughter.
The stories just drop from her brain, fingertips
And she’s always at it.
The keyboard is always going.
I can blame it on the fact there’s only two
computers.
Three who need to use one each.
I can blame it on being tired at night after a
four hour commute, and long workday.
But the best part?
She reminds me to keep at it.
Keep focused.
That when I do things will pop.
Just as they do for her.
Thanks hon!
Now, back to the hands.

15 March 2010

Magpie Tales #4...The House


Life goes on around it, for it lies on a busy road, where cars rush past from early morning to late evening. But in the house, life has not been present for decades. Even mice and rodents no longer frequent its quiet hallway and still rooms.
Outside, it is a house of grey stone again. It had been painted a creamy white by the commission of a housewife. The window frames are covered in chipping paint, a cheery yellow. You get the sense that the window frames were painted by some other hand, perhaps that of a daughter.
Once there were window boxes on each window, now only one is left in solitary confinement, sagging to the left, supported by a single long nail. In it a cluster of brown weeds wilts.
The glass in the windows is but jagged shards that were broken for sport by schoolboys. In the lower window, lace curtains hang to the floor. Today a gust of wind has lifted them out the pane-less window. There they hang, thrust out as a bride thrusts off her veil, awaiting a new life of homemaking and promises of love and happiness. But perhaps the curtains were thrown out the window not in hope, but to cleanse them of their dirt and grime, the life they led, the things they saw.
A sagging staircase leads upstairs. There are three rooms; two bedrooms and a bathroom. One bedroom is windowless, its door faces the bathroom. Wallpaper drapes the floor in peeling strips. Yellow ducks swim in a faded sea of blue. In the middle of the room, a collapsed heap of boards lies evidence to some place of rest. The boards look like railings.
In the next bedroom, there is no bed, only a pile of musty blankets in the corner, heaped as though torn from a mattress. Beneath them are scorch marks, a hole in the floor. Above them the ceiling is black, the walls are gray; a trail made by a finger shows it to be soot.
In the opposite corner, a sewing machine rests on a collapsed table. A spool of thread leads across the floor in looping patterns. Red thread, dusty like everything else.
Next to the sewing table, there is a wooden dress dummy. Its shapely curves show that it was a woman's. It is headless, and it arms hang slackly by its sides. One wooden hand is on the floor. Its screws are not rusted, but the wood is dusty. One finger of the hand points listlessly toward the blankets, the others are limp and lifeless.
The dress dummy wears the remains of something lacy. The work is sloppy, the threads unravelling.
You look at the blankets again. Then something else is visible. Piled in the corner are empty bottles of alcohol. Beer, vodka, whiskey. Now you can smell it on the air, wafting close like the stale breath of a drunkard.
In the bathroom, a bottle of pills has spilled onto the floor. They have rolled out in a convex from the bottle. Next to them there is a creased photo of three people. A man holds a smiling woman close. She cradles a laughing baby. They are all blond.
Rewind to the entrance. The yard is knee-deep in weeds. They are brown, dying. Behind the house, just out of sight, there is a garden shed. In the shed, a bloody hatchet rests on the table. An empty can sits next to it, the scent of petrol lying heavily in the air. A box of matches is teetering on the edge of the table. It too is empty. On the wall there is a shovel. It has clumps of dried dirt stuck to the blade. In one of the clumps a single human hair is embedded. It is blond.
Behind the shed there is an unnatural mound of earth.
It is the only place in the yard that has flowers.

****************************************************

I was experimenting with telling a story just by setting a scene...I think it turned out pretty good (I did digress a bit, using the second person).
Also, both of us posted a Magpie Tales this week, so don't forget to check them both out! (if MM posts hers on time that is...still doubtful)

09 March 2010

100 Posts #3

If I did miss America, and sometimes I do, here are three things (besides people) that I would and do miss...

#1 Grass. Not steroid bright green or green that is like a patchwork quilt. Dry green grass. Fields and fields of it, hills and dips, stretching on and on. Grass that turns yellow in the Autumn then dies, is brown as the snow melts, but then slowly, it greens up again. Grass that you have to cut almost once a week, and that leaves little clumps of cut grass that dry out, but when you pick them up the underside is moist where they have begun to decay against the earth. Grass that is speckled with dandelions, and from far off looks almost yellow. Grass that has a dewdrop on each blade early in the morning, sometimes a spider-web, gossamer strands supported just enough to sway in the breeze. Grass that you can lie down in without getting muddy, just sit back looking at the sky.

#2 Deciduous trees. Proper ones that aren't entrapped in ivy or are craggy death traps. Tress that you can climb, sit under, smell. Proper deciduous tree smell, that green, earthy, and somehow sweet smell...oak trees, maple trees, chestnut trees. Not they we don't have them here, but they are different here. Out of place, foreign, they don't blend in to the countryside; they are sore thumbs, elephants in the room.

#3 Being able to buy proper chocolate ice cream. What is up with that??? It's never stocked and if it is, it has chunks or bits, or chocolate chips. That's all well and good, but what about when you don't WANT chocolate chips? Smooth chocolate ice cream that melts in your mouth...I miss it!


On another note, I convinced MM to do Magpie Tales with me this week!! Yay!

08 March 2010

Magpie Tales #4



The essence of the jungle
preserved in one small being.
The trees are gone, the desert come,
the people there are fleeing.
But to the man who holds it
it is but a small prize
a little jungle carving,
that trumpets to the sky.
He cannot see the blood and pain and fear
the cutting of the jungle,
the arid desert of tears.
The little elephant that trumpets
reaching for the sky,
used to be a lumbering beast
but then it went and died.
That's how he'll think about the lie.
He doesn't care that the little elephant
only wants the sky.

07 March 2010

Belvedere Sun Worshippers

The leaves cushion our footfalls, but at the same time amplify them as they crunch. We stop by the lake, the water lapping at the sand, the sun sparking diamonds on the water. She sings to the element of water. We touch it, trail out hands in it. Small white shells along the bottom, reeds growing farther out. Dead reeds, their lives ended, buoyed by the water, it holding them in death, as they held themselves in it in their lives. Leaves browned by age and the absence of chlorophyll rest at the bottom of the lake, and every passing wave stirs them slightly, and they move a centimetre, then return to their original rest.
A small breeze carries a whirlwind of leaves past us. The lake could stretch on forever. The blue water, such a deep blue, is so clear. We can see the bottom, here clean, here a clump of rocks, here maybe a small fish, or do my eyes deceive me?
We walk again in silence.The trees overhead cast their dappled shadows on our backs as we move beneath them. She asks us did we notice the change in wind. They did. I did not; I was watching the ground. My element must be earth then, for after a while I take off my shoes and walk barefoot on the rocks and in the mud.
We stop in a circle of trees. There we pray to the earth. We speak about how everyone has lost touch with the earth, how they walk on concrete, on carpet, not knowing that they are missing earth, but feeling an absence in their lives, something that they cannot fathom. They think that they are happy, they have houses, cars, a family, money.
Soon the earth changes, the path slopes upward. We slip and slide in mud. Once we do not care about dirty, we do not get dirty. The ground is a carpet of leaves, dead and decaying, but in them there is the presence of the complete circle, for poking up between and behind are small green shoots. Relentless they climb to the sun and relentless they push their roots to the bedrock.
At a clearing we stop, we assume an unplanned circle. We gaze to the sky. We pray to the element of wind, of air. A helicopter roars overhead. I watch birds as they dart from tree to tree, swooping and flitting. They sing to us, but soon they go quiet, it is blissfully silent save for the soft rush of a breeze whispering through tees.
I notice the path is gravelled, my feet hurt. I wonder how earth appreciates the unnatural gravel carelessly dumped on beautiful pathways and on mud that longs to be squelched between toes. I walk on the grass verges here and there, on carpets of pine needles. Pine needles that are friends and foes. They cushion, but one wrong step sends the point of one into my skin. my feet grow numb, the earth is cold, the ground damp and dark. Once I stop trying to avoid sharp stones, they seem to not be there at all.
We stop again, one last time in our elemental mediation. We close our eyes and look into the sun. We pray to the element of fire. But also, this last prayer is to all the elements, for behind us a small stream winds under overhanging boughs. The sun shines upon our upturned faces, a wind soothes the air, and my feet rest on solid earth.
********

MM and I went on a nature walk in Belvedere House and Gardens today. The purpose of the walk was to reconnect with nature, and celebrate trees and our ancestral heritage, especially for National Tree Week. It was really fun!


P.S. This is officially my 100th Post :D Yay! However, I will continue with the last three "countdown" posts nonetheless.

Soon to be 100 Posts #4

So...four things that I love.

#1 Nature. I love walking in forests, climbing high mountains, closing my eyes and relaxing in the sun, and swimming. I love wading in the ocean, crossing streams, bathing in lakes. I love feeling the wind at the top of a mountain, seeing for miles, the sea to one side, the hills to the other. I LOVE the sun on my back as I climb, or swim, or just stroll.

#2 People. I love friends, I love family. I love people even though at the same time I hate them. People are such amazing creatures; we love and laugh and hurt and heal. I love talking to people, I love that sense of not needing to talk, because everyone understands what is being said silently in our thoughts. Even though I am morbidly shy (I think...well I pretty much know) and may come off as snobbish or rude, I really do...LOVE people.

#3 Now for a more normal love...hazelnuts! I love hazelnuts. I love the nut, I love hazelnut biscuits, I love hazelnut yoghurt (hah, and you thought it didn't exist), I love hazelnut...well anything. And I didn't know until today, and I have never tried them, but I am sure I will LOVE chocolate covered hazelnuts!

#4 I love my kitty. Actually I love all cats, but my own cat is obviously closest to my heart...Mini, you are the sweetest little kitty and I LOVE you!

Magpie Tales #3...Five

A golden ray of sunlight drips from the clouds and flows over the calm sea. Macy stops walking and looks at it.
It dribbles over the petite waves and spreads across the bay. Macy smiles. She won't wait for it to disappear. She starts walking again.
Every so often, she glances over her shoulder. Sometimes it is a nervous glance, as though she is afraid of a follower. Sometimes it is a curious glance, as though she senses footfalls at the edge of her hearing but cannot see their source. Mostly she looks at the ray of sun.
The sun is still above the oppressive clouds, but this single ray, which spreads at its base to a pool of light, slices through their grey cotton wool.
Macy stops again. The ray is persistent. Every time she turns, expecting to see it gone, she sees it shining strongly onto the water. Even as she whips around, as she has begun to do instead of just turning, she knows it will be there. Its warmth on her back is unmistakeable.
She continues. It's just ahead, the place where she is going. She can see it.
Macy reaches into her pocket. She fingers a cold metal object then takes it out gingerly. She dials a number.
The phone doesn't ring, the automated voice doesn't say 'your call cannot be placed as your phone does not have reception here.' In fact, nothing at all happens. Macy doesn't notice at first, she's used to him not picking up.
Finally, she looks at her phone in disgust, realising that it is not ringing. She dials in the number again, making sure she gets it right. Even though he is deleted from her contacts, she still knows the number by heart. She presses in the eight, the nine, the threes, and the two, but the five isn't working. She presses the five button with all her strength. She sighs in frustration as her nail snaps.
Macy slides the phone closed. She sits down on a rock. She can't go ahead with it, not if he doesn't know. He will pay for what he did, and he will feel guilty for the rest of his life.
She tries again. The five still doesn't work.
In a burst of anger she flings the phone. It sails over the rock and bounces on the grass. It disappears over the edge of a precipice.
She rises and goes over to look. She stays away from the edge. She can just see crashing surf and rocks far below.
After another five minutes, when her back starts to hurt from the rock and the significance of losing her phone has sunk in, she stands again. The ray of sun is still shining.
She sighs and reaches into her pocket. She takes out five weights. She puts them on the rock.
Macy turns away. She starts walking. There is a new spring in her step and her back is no longer hunched in some resignation. She swings around once, and smiles in satisfaction at the weights glittering dangerously in the sun.
She twirls in a circle. She laughs out loud as she realises that she can't remember his number.
Behind her retreating back, the weights slowly darken as the ray of sunlight disappears behind the clouds. Macy doesn't even notice.

:/

I suppose an apology and an excuse are possibly in order...

You know how life catches up...

Not that I could have picked a worse possible time to have an unplanned hiatus, counting down to one hundred posts, about to post another Magpie Tale, etc. etc.

So as an apology and a 'hope this makes up for my hideous lack of commitment and disregard for everyone' I am going to post not only Magpie Tales #3 plus the number four in my countdown to 100 posts, but ALSO, another post (which is non-fiction but could possibly be described as creative/literary non-fiction)!!!