Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘short story’

The Fourth Rule

OK chaps, I find myself still up at 1am, still haven’t done my daily poetry, and haven’t written a blog for three days. Not Good Enough. Must Do Better.

So, here’s a story I’ve been working on recently. It’s at slightly-less-shitty-second-draft stage, but I quite like the way it’s shaping up. And I read it out at my writing group this evening and was told it’s poetic, so it’s not totally inappropriate for National Poetry Month.
 
 
The Fourth Rule

The path I am walking on slashes between the birch trees. They reach for each other, delicate branches trying to find the strength to defy gravity. Failing, but pulling the papered trunks behind them so that eventually, close to the sky, the heart-shaped leaves can dance together in the early morning sea breeze. My leaf-shaped heart thuds in its predictable rhythm, a dour counterpoint.

Sunlight skitters across the waves and penetrates deep into the wood, scattering jewels among the dewdrops so that I am a shadow walking through a chandelier. Worker bees buzz off to their daily tasks and blackbirds sing to their brown mates. The headland across the bay calls dive from the cliff, swim to me, climb my chalk-white slopes and dry yourself on my grassy belly. It knows I cannot swim that far, but the thought of crushing fresh grass under my salty rolling body twines with the longing already in my mind.

I am drawn to a riot of roses, brash pink against the subdued shades the trees have clothed themselves in for this sombre spring. Admiration for their daring briefly flickers inside my chest, is extinguished by the cold heart that reluctantly beats there. Why should they be permitted to challenge the decaying rules that bind me?
 
 
And what are those rules, Anna? the doctor asked me, yesterday. His thin red lips twitched underneath that ragged blond moustache and black half-rimmed spectacles slid slowly down his sunburnt nose. His pen ready to write down the rules, he waited for my answer.

I didn’t think he really wanted to know, but then he asked again. So I told him, and he wrote them in a list, like this:

  1. I will always fail.
  2. Hope is the king of betrayal.
  3. I must become my surroundings.

After the third rule, the doctor stopped writing, so I stopped telling. I was relieved, because the fourth rule doesn’t have any words. It is the city wall dividing lovers, the kidnapper who takes a baby girl from her parents, an old dog lying beside the dead body of his master. It is the strongest rule of all, the rule that cannot rot and crumble away, through which no chink will ever allow light.

I left the doctor’s office. The nurse smiled at me, a fiery smile to match her tightly bound auburn hair. How was it today, Anna love? she said. I couldn’t answer without breaking the rules, so I poured all my hope and longing into the wells of her deep brown eyes. Rule 2 was already broken. I could only think of tracing the line of her jaw with the tip of my forefinger and taking the smile from her lips to mine with a kiss.

Sleep did not come last night. The fourth rule stood over my bed and kept it from me. The nurse entered my room in the darkness and I could hear the whispering of her clothes falling from her body until she stood in silence like a naked tree in the winter, her cotton shirt like leaves around her roots.
That did not happen. The fourth rule put it into my head. Then it sent me out to the birch wood on the cliff top.
 
 
The roses are speaking with the nurse’s voice. No, not speaking. Gasping as the sun’s rays touch their velvet buds. Groaning as they open their soft petals to receive the wind’s caress. Yes, they whisper. Yes, yes, they scream.

And then the doctor’s voice, yes yes yes, from the sharp hard thorns hidden by the blushing petals, ripping through flesh and blunting their points on the fist-sized rock inside my chest.

The fourth rule welled up inside me and burst out of my mouth in rhythm with the pulsing of ice through my arteries. No – no – no – no – no. This is against the rules.

Her body, naked as she hadn’t been for me last night. Her face, framed by roses. Her lips, smiling. Saying Anna, what are you doing out here, sweetheart?

I run. Away from her, away from the rules. I cannot live by the rules any longer.

The path carries me through the birch trees, through the candles that hang from their illicit dance. Dew and tears soak my skin. I will dry my salty body on the green pelt covering the headland’s belly.

The sea calls me with the voice of the first rule, You can’t swim all the way across the bay. But if at first you don’t succeed…

The cliff calls me with the voice of the second rule, If you leap from my summit I will propel you, you will fly over the waves.

The blackbirds call me with the voice of the third rule, Join with us and we will show you how to become one with the sky.

The fourth rule is silent. It knows it has broken me.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

This isn’t a real post – still not going to have time for that till tomorrow or Sunday. But I’ve rewritten Ghosts, and thought I’d post it just to prove I’m still here. It’s hopefully even more disturbing (those of a nervous disposition probably shouldn’t read it), and I’ve experimented with changing the point of view throughout.

Any comments welcome.

Ghosts

Do I live here?

Concrete stairs circle above and below. Bright colours on rough brick walls try to tell me where to go. I don’t understand the language of the spray can. Dismal passages march away in impossible directions. Everything smells of piss.

Perhaps…

I look down at my feet, tell them to take me home.

They seem to know where they’re going.

I need to keep my bearings in this angular world. I cling to the dark wooden hilt, hold the sensuous curve of metal before my face. It reminds me I have a destiny.

The door is a tongue fitting snugly into the mouth of a narrow damp tunnel. There isn’t enough light for me to be able to tell what colour it is. The walls and ceiling are moving inwards, dripping.

I knock twice. She will let me in.

* * *

I’m playing with the children in the living room when he knocks. No-one ever visits us here. A visceral fear I haven’t felt for over a year wraps around my shoulders like an old friend.

I put the chain on before opening the door.

He pushes so hard the chain breaks, then advances slowly. He’s waving a glittering crescent. A knife.

I scream at the boys to hide, and run through the kitchen. I hope he will follow me, as he did many times before. There is a French window leading onto a balcony. I stand to the side, behind a dark green plastic chair, and wait.

That pot plant needs watering.

* * *

I don’t get it. What was that massive bang? Why’s Mum telling us to hide? She sounds scared. I poke my head into the hall.

The front door is wide open and there’s a man with a scary scowly smile walking towards the kitchen. I run back into the room and hide behind the sofa. Billy is already crouching there, making patterns in the dust.

I hope the man doesn’t find us.

* * *

Flashes of betrayal strobe through my mind. Her blood, her bruises, her doctors. Dark uniforms. A room full of people, she stands in a box, I sit in another box, alone. She tells lies. Years in a small room, alone. My blood, my bruises. No doctors.

Where’s the bitch? My knife is slavering, begging me to sink its fang into her chest, slice the over-ripe flesh away from her rotting bones.

* * *

He bursts out of the kitchen, knife lifted high. Cold stones fill his eye sockets, his mouth is tangled in a knot of hatred. I scream and cower. I don’t dare defy him again.

Maybe if I say I’m sorry…

Snarling, he advances. No human lives inside his skin. I tried to pour my humanity into him once, nearly became an animal myself. I use that part of me now. I dive for his legs, lift, feel my muscles tear, topple him over the balcony railings.

* * *

I fall, tumbling over and over. Violent bloody spirals stream from the tip of my blade, painting my rage on the clouds.

* * *

My sons run into the kitchen, laughing.

We hid, like you said,’ says Stevie.

‘Has the man gone?’ says Billy.

‘Yes, darlings, you’re safe now.’ I kneel down to clasp them to me, I want to hold them so tightly they become part of me again, safe within my womb.

As they approach, I look at them, properly look at them.

Billy’s blond hair is matted with gore. His cheek is ripped open and he has been stabbed many times. Stevie’s throat is gaping and he has a dark red apron of blood.

I can see through them.

Wordle generated image

Wordle generated image

(generated at Wordle – a great place to spend a few hours)

Read Full Post »

Some writing

Excuses

You wouldn’t believe how busy I am at the moment. I don’t believe how busy I am. I haven’t even got a job… I sent myself a tenner, and there still aren’t 28 hours in the day. I am such a charlatan.

I’m going away for the weekend, and have got a ton of stuff to do before I go to bed tonight, so I don’t have time for a proper blog post before Sunday. So, I thought I’d share some of my writing. Hope you don’t mind.

Any comments/crits welcome. They’re both works in progress, Ghosts more so than Sailor.

Sailor

I wake to the call of seagulls circling,
creep to the bow, cling to sodden ropes,
surrender fear and allow dark visions
to pierce senses that reason denies.

Polished wood glows softly in moon’s light,
sails swell, breaking waves on the wide sea
of night. The ship fades around me, wind
untangles my thoughts and weaves me away.

A whale shoots an arrow’s path, skims
the rough ocean’s surface, target unseen.
Fixed to glistening silver skin, the black stain
of a raven perches like royalty, urging haste.

Salt-laden water seeps into my boots,
subtle currents tease me with a promise
of an island home, where my wife’s dreams
roam free, riding whales through reflections of stars.

Postcard used as a prompt for Sailor

Postcard used as a prompt for Sailor

Ghosts

Do I live here?
Concrete stairs circle above and below. Bright colours on rough brick walls tell me where to go. I don’t understand the language of the spray can. Dismal passages march off in unlikely directions. Everything smells of piss.
Maybe…
I look down at my feet, tell them to take me home.
That works. They seem to know where they’re going.
I’m at the door. It is a tongue fitting snugly into the mouth of a narrow damp tunnel. There isn’t enough light for me to be able to tell what colour it is. The walls and ceiling are moving inwards, saliva dripping.

I’m in the hall, about to answer the door. I’m terrified. I don’t know why.
A man pushes the door so hard the chain breaks. He has a knife.
I scream at my children to hide in the living room, and run through the kitchen. There is a French window leading onto a balcony. I sit on a dark green plastic chair and wait.

That pot plant needs watering.

The man runs towards me, knife lifted high, blood dripping. I dive for his legs and tip him over the balcony.
He falls, tumbling over and over. Violent bloody spirals stream from the tip of the blade.

The boys run into the kitchen, laughing.
We hid, like you said,’ says Simon.
‘Has the man gone?’ says Blake.
‘Yes, darlings, you’re safe now.’ I kneel down to clasp them to me, I want to hold them so tightly they become part of me again, safe within my womb.

Then I look at them, properly look at them.
Blake’s blond hair is matted with blood. His cheek is ripped open and he has been stabbed several times. Simon’s throat has been cut and he has a dark red apron-stain down his front.

I can see through them.

Read Full Post »