Writespiration #35

Writespiration #35

Every so often, I like to get out of my comfort zone and do something a little different. This is one of  those weeks…. something I hope will be a little uncomfortable, and somewhat thought provoking…

The world, as well as brimming with life, beauty and discovery is also full of disaster and tragedy. I don’t want this to be a negative post, so I will try instead, to be reflective…

I feel like too often when disaster strikes, I am numb to it, I watch the news and just nod, giving a token response, “oh that’s so sad,” and then carry on with my day to day life. Why is that all I can muster? Am I so numbed to tragedy that I am indifferent to the horrors of terrorism and death? How did I get like that? What’s worse, is I am not the only one. Yes, sometimes we rally together and help ‘clean up the streets’ like, for example after the London riots, but generally, society is becoming as emotionally apathetic as I usually am. It’s not ok.

As a race, we seemingly strive to better ourselves, ‘to boldly go where no man has gone before’ to quote Star Trek and confess a little guilty pleasure of mine! But when we make mistakes I feel like we too often brush them under the carpet. Dismiss them in the name of science and progression. So I wanted us to use this particular writespiration to take stock.

Watch the video, sound on is compulsory, (the music makes it much more powerful) Its only a couple of minutes. Use the video as inspiration. You don’t need to write about chernobyl, write about anything you like, maybe you could take stock of something significant, a disaster, a personal tragedy or maybe you want to turn it on its head and write about a success or achievement.

Write a sentence, a few lines, a poem, or an entire short story. Whatever you like, drop it in the comments below or send me an email, and I will post it with next weeks writespiration with a link to your blog.

Here’s mine:

There was a line of oily hand prints and dirty finger smudges marking the edge of the glass dome. They were marks of the saved clawing at the glass, trying to wipe away blood smears of the infected still trapped inside. The longer they were inside, the harder it was becoming to see through the bloody fog.

I slammed my fist down on the glass dome.

“Hal, come on, that’s not going to help. You’re just hurting yourself.”

I slumped to the floor, fist still clenched.

“It’s my family in there, Kara, not yours.”

I peered up at her, tears filling her eyes.

“Hal, it’s been five years honey, you’ve got to let go.”

Her words were acidic, I rubbed my arms trying to rid myself of her pessimism.

“What have you lost? Nothing,” I spat. Tears tumbled down her cheeks. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and started walking back towards New City. She paused after a few steps and rounded on me.

“What have I lost? I haven’t lost anything, Hal. I gained something. I dragged you out of that town clinging to your life. But you know what. It was you who saved me. I had nothing, you gave me happiness, a companion…” the words caught in her throat, her shoulders heaved up and down as she took huge gulps of air.

I looked at the grass and fingered the mutant blades, still tarnished by traces of chemicals poured into the dome. My heart ached.

“You have a choice, Hal. You have a new family and we can’t live in the dome’s shadow anymore. Stay here if you want…Stay with the past, a life that’s never coming back. Or come with me to the city and leave this behind for good.”

She turned her back on me and walked away. I stared down the dome’s perimeter. Skeletons of the desperate sat lifeless staring off into the dome; still hoping for a glimpse of something gone forever.

I had a family, a chance. I had hope.

I stood up.

“Kara, wait.”

***

Now, to last weeks Writespiration entrants, and we had lots 🙂

First submission was from Ali Isaac with a brilliantly funny one sentence story:

I brought you carefully home from the nursery, gave you a roof over your head and a nice soft bed, kept you warm and cosy, provided for your every need, supported you when you needed it, watched proudly as you grew tall and strong, and you reward me with one lousy tomato… next year I’m growing courgettes!

***

Next we have Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge, with his first ever submission, and what a fab first, thanks Phil and welcome 🙂

It was time for the little voices to cease, so weary beyond endurance and out of desperation, she let herself slip under the warm consoling waters until she heard once again, “Mommy!”

***

Next, the ever brilliant Geoff Le Pard:

John knew he would never be able to stop calling his brother ‘Fred’ and instead call him ‘Father’.

***

Next, another first from Jane Doherty and wow what an amazing story to fit in just one sentence, truly talented. Welcome to the Writespiration team Jane.

He poised, arms raised, and plunged, a perfect arc, slicing the water to join the rollicking seals, and though she watched until the sun set, night fell, and the seals disappeared, he never broke the surface.

Jane also submitted a response for the previous Writespiration and it was so brilliant I just had to post it with this week:

I knelt on the double yellow lines, the base of a complex pattern the child had chalked on the path.

“That’s an interesting picture you’re drawing.” I smiled fatuously. She raised her head, fixed me with angry eyes.

“You’re blocking the earth,” she said.

“Oops, sorry.” I shifted back a bit, humouring her.

“The current doesn’t like you.”

“Any particular reason?” She might have been only a tot but her attitude was beginning to irritate me.

She shrugged and carried on colouring in the bit in the middle alternate red, orange and yellow squiggles. I moved closer to work out what it was. She glared.

“You’re blocking the earth again.”

I ignored her and pointed. “That’s a very good drawing of flames.”

She cast her disapproving gaze from my face, down my bulky adult body to my trespassing feet.

“The current doesn’t like you. I’m going to turn it on now.”

She took the red chalk, drew a small round circle, and coloured it in vigorously. Satisfied, she pressed it with her right thumb.

The world dissolved in a screaming inferno.

***

Last but by no means least Keith, with a rather long sentence… but hey, he’s good with grammar!

I was sent down for fifteen years for armed robbery; although if I behave, I can be out in eight; but that’s not what the judge said when the foreman of the jury (and they were a rum bunch, I don’t mind telling you) handed him the piece of paper saying I had been found guilty, even though all the evidence cleared me, my alibi being cast iron and the character witnesses I brought in being pillars of the community, well, most of them, anyways, but they still said I was guilty and that judge, who wouldn’t have known an honest man if he stood up and thumped him, bloody agreed with them – senile old git that he was, and sent me down for a fifteen stretch!

31 comments

  1. Paint peels, and bows down
    to the red flag dream:
    now haunted,
    and taunted
    as the dollar is vaunted.

    Countdown,
    meltdown.
    An ill wind blows
    and knows
    no borders.

    A poisoned and sterile land
    now shorn of man’s hand,
    the hand which bears
    the hammer and sickle lie
    while around me thousands die.

    Denisovich:
    once interned in the Gulag
    now turns in his grave,
    as the red flag flutters
    on another May Day parade.

  2. Thank you for the opportunity.

    The video really brought it home. I wonder if we’ll be doing the same thing in years to come following Fukushima…? I watched a couple of the other vids; the (almost) headless cow was a little daunting. Now where’s my vegetarian cookbook? 🙂

    1. yeah I should imagine so. God, how awful that I could so easily forget about Fukushima. and yet, there are a million other tragedies that we all forget, I guess that was kind of the point of the post though… hahaha vegetarian cook book, lucky for me I’m already veggie! lol.

  3. Here’s mine… more of a personal tragedy, this one.

    We gravitate through the darkness towards the door. The sounds beyond are far more terrifying than the black void which presses against us, its breath hissing in our ears. A thin scar of light slices beneath the door and stabs at our ankles. It normally keeps the scuttling scorpions of our imagination at bay, and we are glad of it, but tonight we fear what it will reveal.

    We reach out and find each other, hands clutching together like a pair of mini vices. We share a room, my little sister and I, beds pushed against opposite walls, toys shared in a glad mess in the space between.

    “What should we do?” I hear her say in a small voice, and I imagine her blue eyes round with fear. I squeeze her hand reassuringly, because I am the oldest, but it is she who is the brave one.

    “They’ll stop in a minute,” I say, but they don’t stop. They just get louder, Dad’s deep boom, Mum’s shrill soprano, as the accusations and vitriol fly back and forth, hateful and ugly and indestructible as the big brown cockroaches which plague the summer months.

    This is what the end of the world sounds like, I think.

    Then something changes, and Dad is shrieking like a banshee, but Mum is silent.

    “He’s killing her,” my sister cries out, and before I can stop her, she pulls her hand from mine, wrenches the door open, and runs sobbing through it.

    I am trembling. I am afraid. I don’t want him to kill me too, but I stumble forward, blinking, into the bright hallway.

    Dad has Mum pressed up against the wall; it looks like he is holding her up by the throat. Her face is red, eyes bulging as she flails at his fists with feeble hands.

    My sister is squaring up to him, wanting to attack but cringing away like a dog expecting to be kicked. “Leave her alone,” she begs through tears.

    He turns, snarling, and lunges towards us. I can smell the drink on him, a pungent layer as thick as his old arran sweater. Behind him, mum drops to her knees, gasping and shaking, her fair hair a ragged cloud of candy floss hiding her face. She crawls into her room, and I hear the key click in the lock.

    My sister is screaming. She doesn’t stop till I grab her, pull her back into our room. I slam the door shut. Unlike mum’s, our lock does not have a key.

    We both dive for my bed, hiding beneath the duvet, as if it would keep us safe. We barely breathe, straining to hear above the yammer of our erratic hearts.

    Dad stomps up and down the hall for a while, but does not come in. He thumps the walls and kicks the doors, alternately crying for forgiveness, then ranting with fury. And finally, the sweet reprieve of stillness.

    We lie curled up in the bed, but we don’t sleep. We cling to each other, because when the world ends, there is nothing else worth saving.

    1. Just wow. I don’t even…. I…. Just wow Ali. What brave little girls you were and what a horrific memory to be saddled with. I was gripped the entire way through. Sucked into that room straining at the door to hear with you both. What beautiful description too. The innocent emotion and thoughts are so real and you just tell them so perfectly.

      Thank you for sharing such an personal piece of you 🙂

      Is the flash getting easier to do yet?

      1. A bit of artistic license there, but yeah, it really happened. Actually, I wrote another short story today for sally Cronin’s blog, she’s doing a series called Authors in the Sun, has to be under a thousand words. I’m really enjoying it! But I need prodding… the inspiration doesn’t flow, but maybe it will as I get more into it. Am thinking now about Esther’s competition…

    2. I hadn’t imagined it was taken from reality! Thought it was a brilliantly imagined bit of somebody else’s childhood. Glad there’s some artistic licence, but I’ll read all your stories with different eyes now.

  4. Longish this week (distraction therapy!)

    Radioactive Tourism

    ‘Make sure you’re all zipped up. No breaks in the seals, please.’
    Katya, our guide smiled through her plastic mask; her voice echoed in our ears. I could see Ron banging the side of his head like his ear ached. ‘Stop it’ I mouthed hoping he’d see me through my scratched visor. He had already complained at the inadequate suits, the rubbish Health and Safety procedures and now the crap communications, distorted by the poor radios.
    ‘We go into the truck. Please keep all arms inside. Not snags, yes?’
    ‘Too bloody right,’ came Ron’s reply for us all. Katya clearly knew it was him, shooting him a glance.
    ‘We are in no danger. These suits – they just precaution. Listen to Geiger counter.’ Indeed the snap, crackle and pop had been our background music for at least two hours since we arrived at the meet point for our tour of Chernobyl. It had also whited out – nearly but not quite.
    This tour had been Ron’s idea, yet he was the one moaning. The information centre made grim reading but outside, slowly going through a landscape like a Hollywood movie set, it seemed harmless. I began to wonder when Katya said, ‘You may be surprised by the wildlife. It has thrived in our absence. Insects to start, then birds and now a few mammals.’
    ‘Will we see any?’ This was Susan, a blowsy, buxom American who seemed to bulge everywhere. I couldn’t make out if she was hopeful or worried.
    ‘Perhaps.’
    Everyone lapsed into an uneasy silence as we ventured deeper into the abandoned town. Every Soviet style building had lost its doors and windows. Trees grew from unlucky crevasses. Even the sun shone like it was no different to every other part of Europe.
    ‘What’s that?’
    Every head was turning to the left hand side. The Driver said something in Ukrainian to Katya; Ron, whose mother was from Donetsk said quickly, ‘A child?’
    Katya shushed him but we were all staring now. Sure enough, on the front doorstep of the adjacent building a child, maybe ten sat and rocked, cradling his right arm.
    Katya spoke slowly; I’d guess she felt she had to say something, given Ron had understood whatever the driver had said. ‘They come to take what they can. Like wild creatures. They sell it on black market – people don’t check if the copper is radioactive.’
    ‘But aren’t they worried about the dangers?’
    Katya shrugged. She had stood to go and open the door. ‘They born out there,’ she pointed to the derelict tower blocks,’ and if they survive birth they live on what they can find.’
    Susan again. ‘But why don’t the authorities do something?’
    Katya didn’t answer. We could guess. The country was at war. The few tourists, like ourselves, visiting relatives, were hardly supporting the economy. Some feral children were not the government’s first concern.
    We all watched as Katya approached the child. He had damaged his arm and was in a lot of pain. It looked likely that was why he hadn’t run away. Susan said, ‘Amazing he’s so normal. The radioactivity can’t be so bad. I…’
    We jumped back as she vomited on the window. Two others did the same. Outside. Katya had pushed back the boy’s dirty hoodie. Underneath the dark material we could see the boy’s other problem. He had no eyes.

    1. Omg GEOFFFFFFFFFFF reaaaaaaaaally???? No eyes. I nearly threw up Nevermind bloody Susan! You have a habit of whopping out some gruesome twist properly didn’t see that coming either! Not with all that humour at the start. Bloody loved it and your description of unlucky crevasses – fab way to describe it 😄😄

  5. Quick one—inspired by the images not by the human tragedy of Chernobyl.

    When the men went, the trees came back. The trees and the animals the men had chased away. The trees came back to the fields where the livestock had been. All dead now. The vast sterile fields of grain are forests now that the men are no longer there to spray poisons over them. The tall ugly buildings are draped with creepers. Birds nest in their echoing emptiness. There had been dogs to begin with, but they ate the toxic rubbish the men had left. Only the cats thrived. As cats will.
    The best, the wildest place is the park, where men kept tame trees and flowers. Jungle now, glorious and rich. I remember, my blood remembers, how we were chased from this place. The ancestors crept out at night and scavenged. They were thin and sickly but there was nowhere else for them to find food. Not in the fields of poison, not in the bare fields of cattle and sheep. But the men are gone now.
    I leave my earth and sniff the night air, full of the wild scents of trees and hot blood. I listen, sifting the night noises, the rustlings and soft sighings as creatures settle. Movement behind me, stealthy, already alert to the night, its joys and its dangers. I leap for joy into the whirlpool of sensations, and they follow, their baby steps tumbling.
    I, fox, reclaim my place, and watch my children play, safe in their night time.

    1. Wow I love this what w fantastic idea to write from an animals perspective. And what amazing imagery too you conjured for me. Thanks so much for participating 😄

  6. I have a beautiful childhood memory of foxes, hearing them bark but never seeing them except once, a whole family by moonlight playing on the lawn. When you see animals playing with their children, you wonder what exactly have we got that’s so special.

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