Tag Archives: #prose4T

reflections

reflection in mirror6am. Eleanor grumbled to herself as she dragged herself out from under her warm covers and hurried across the icy corridor to the bathroom. It was too early and altogether too cold to be out of bed. She should have told John to make his own way home. Who needed picking up at 6.30 anyway? Ridiculous.

Splashing her face with water at the sink she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and leaned in for a closer look. Hmm. Those eye bags weren’t getting any smaller and the lines round her mouth seemed to be extending too. And the patches making their way across her sallow skin were clearly age spots now rather than freckles. Her hair contained more than a mere smattering of grey and the skin on her jaw – she pinched a bit – yes, it was definitely starting to sag. There was no denying it. She was getting old.

The side of her mouth twitched and, as she caught her own eye in the mirror, she couldn’t help it: a huge grin spread across her face. Old age! She had never expected to see it. No one had expected it. She doubted that even John, who had sat beside her in the oncologist’s office that awful day and assured her, “You’re strong, you’ll beat this!” had really dared to believe his own words. But she had defeated the odds and here she was. And there those beautiful wrinkles, grey hairs and saggy bits were too.

Walking back into the bedroom she picked up the teardrop necklace John had given her for their thirtieth anniversary and fastened it round her neck. It caught the first rays of morning light and shone. But not as brightly as her smile.

It’s been a tricky week. There has been bad news and sad news but none worse than that which a good friend of mine received about her health. I was thinking about her as I wrote this story. I fervently hope I will be complementing her on her gorgeous silvery hair in many, many years to come. The idea of growing old can be scary but the idea of never getting to grow old… well if that’s not a reason to celebrate our wrinkles I don’t know what is.

Prose for Thought

persuasion

20140911_123610-1I haven’t had much time for creative writing recently – the launch of ‘What I’m Writing‘ (my new linky) on Tuesday has been pretty much my sole writing focus!

So for #Prose4T today I thought I would share a piece of silliness that I wrote over the summer. I spent pretty much all my time entertaining three kids. It may or may not have been inspired by them:

I WILL not move
I’m here to stay
I’m sitting on
This couch ALL DAY!
I WILL not m-
What’s that you say?
A giant, gooey
Fudge sundae?
For me if I
Go out and play?
Well, I guess
That sounds okay
… since…
I was going anyway!

Of course I would never bribe any of my children. Nope. Not me.

(Well, not with a fudge sundae anyway – far too messy.)

Prose for Thought

legoland limerick

view of mini land from the Sky Rider

View of Miniland from the Sky Rider

Yes, we went to LEGOLAND! This isn’t remotely a sponsored post (ha, I wish!) I just wanted to write about it because we really did have a great time.

We went for two days (over my son’s fifth birthday) and stayed overnight in the Legoland hotel which was amazing. Expensive but worth it. We had a pirate-themed room which was plush enough to keep us parents happy, and fun enough to totally capture the boys’ imagination. There was Lego art on the walls, a pirate bunk bed, a treasure trail across the carpet which led to a safe that the boys had to unlock (to reveal lego gifts inside), and a big box of lego to play with. The kids even had their own section of the room with a TV tuned to the lego channel! Awesome.

The park was great too. We had a Q-Bot which meant we could jump the queues (you still have to wait after you’ve chosen your ride but just not in the queue which makes a massive difference especially when you have an eighteen- month-old in tow!) and we managed to go on twenty-one rides! The boys LOVED it and although the park was crowded and we were knackered with walking and sleep deprivation (thanks to the baby) we kind of fed off their excitement and had a great time too.

My five-year-old said it was ‘the best birthday ever!’ so obviously I had to write a limerick about it:

For our five-year-old’s birthday we planned
A trip to the great Legoland
We all had such fun
(Three kids, Dad and Mum)
That our real, brick-free life seems quite bland!

*** EXCITING NEWS ***

If you’re visiting via #Prose4T then you might be interested in my new writing linky which starts next Tuesday 9th September. It’s called “What I’m Writing” and it’s for writers, poets, bloggers etc. to share posts about your creative process: aspirations, successes, doubts, rejections (we’ve all had them), trials and triumphs. I’ll be running it with Chrissie from Muddled Manuscript. More info is here. We’d love to see you there!

Prose for Thought

on the pier

waves dark

I entered the Paper Swans flash fiction competition this month with the following piece. It was written in response to a photo prompt of an elderly man asleep on a deckchair on a pier. I didn’t win but I did enjoy writing the story. I think flash fiction is really useful writing practice especially for someone really wordy like me!

Anyway, here’s my story:

He reclined on the pier, eyes closed, sun warm on his face, drifting in and out of memories. He was a child, muddy and beaming, collecting tadpoles with his brothers, then a teenager playing football on the back streets with friends. Now he was a young man dancing with his beloved Jean, their futures entwining with every step.

As he floated into dreams, images poured in: his friends from the pit, coal-dust faces over frothy beers; the tiny, sleeping form of his newborn son; his daughter, proud at her graduation; his grandchildren’s faces in flickering firelight and finally – wrenchingly – his wife’s casket descending into the earth. A whole lifetime caught in memory’s flickering reel.

A final fog of sleep descended and the images fuzzed and faded. Then out of the haze a figure came twirling towards him. It was Jean, rosy and radiant. Smiling, he took her outstretched hand. His last breath danced with the breeze over the sunlit waves.

 

Prose for Thought

Race round the shops #bill and bob

The team:

Mum: Tired mum of three. Tries her best to keep an eye on her kids and a smile on her face at all times. Doesn’t *always* succeed.

Son no. 1: Just turned seven. Usually quite sensible although his attempts to help aren’t always actually that helpful.

Son no. 2: Nearly five. Bit of a nutter.

Baby: 16 months. Very laid back which, frankly, is the only way he survives.

And now to our commentators Bill and Bob to guide us through a trip to the supermarket:

Bill: “You join us outside the supermarket as we wait for Mum and her kids to arrive. The weather is terrible: sheets of rain are coming co opdown – I’d be surprised if they make it here at all, Bob”

Bob: “I think they have to, Bill – Mum had to have her tea without milk this morning and she couldn’t make toast without scraping green bits off the bread first so I think this trip’s a necessity!”

Bill: “Turns out you’re right Bob: I can see mum and kids driving down the road towards us now!”

Bob: “Mum’s looking out for a parking space and I can see one right in front of the store which is useful – I think she’s spotted it too!”

Bill: “Yes it’s great the way they have these ‘parent and child’ spaces now – it means she won’t have to walk from the other side of the car park with a baby on her hip and two small boys running round her ankles! In this weather that’s a massive bonus.”

Bob: “Oh except…”

Bill: “Oh no! A sports car has driven into the space just before Mum got there… a young man has got out of it.”

Bob: “No sign of any kids with him Bill?”

Bill: “None at all Bob – perhaps he can’t read the clear signage ‘parent and child parking only’?”

Bob: “Honestly Bill, from the way he’s just barged his way past those other people to get into the shop I’d say it’s more that he’s a…”

Bill: “Colossal bell-end.”

Bob: “Well I wan’t going to put it quite that way Bill!”

Bill: “Neither was I Bob – that’s just what I saw Mum mouthing as she looked at him going in the supermarket by himself.”

Bob: “She’ll have to park further away now.”

Bill: “Hmmm, and crossing the car park with three kids looks like it’s a real struggle! The baby’s slipping off her hip constantly and Son no.2 is more interested in singing and dancing than actually walking in a straight line! Nothing dampens his spirits eh Bob?”

Bob: “Doesn’t seem to no, although from her expression Mum is feeling very differently and… oops, she’s just dropped her handbag! But it’s ok Son no.1 is picking it up for her and shovelling everything that fell out onto the ground back into it.”

Bill: “Was that empty crisp packet and cigarette butt in there originally Bob?”

Bob: “I’m not sure it was Bill, no – might be a bit of a surprise for her later…”

Bill: “Well that crisis seems to have been averted anyway and, thank God, they’ve got inside – oh?!”

Bob: “What’s that Bill?”

Bill: “Well I thought Mum would go for a trolley so she’d have somewhere to put the baby down but she’s just got a basket.”

Bob: “Ah, that’s because there’s no need for a trolley Bill: I’ve heard her telling the kids they’re ‘Just popping in for bread and milk.'”

Bill: “I see… although they do seem to be heading for the fruit and veg now and flinging a lot of bananas into the basket.”

Bob: “Yes I’ve heard the baby is obsessed with them – look he’s reaching out desperately now and shouting ‘BlaBla!'”

bananasBill: “She’s having to hide them behind a couple of pineapples in the basket– an impulse purchase for the purpose I suspect!”

Bob: “Yes, and dear me, Son no.2 has just raced off down to the other end of the aisle! He seems to be singing “Everything is awesome!” at the top of his voice and waving a cucumber!”

Bill: “She’ll have to buy that too now Bob.”

Bob: “Yes, she’s caught up with him and into the basket it goes. She’s giving him a job to do now to keep him occupied. He’s to get some cheese apparently.”

Bill: “That might just work, he’s gone off quite happily to the cheese section while Mum picks up a few more items in the fresh aisle.”

Bob: “And the baby’s doing his bit too – I saw him grab a bunch of grapes as they went past there… although should he be eating them?”

Bill: “Perhaps not Bob but – good news – Son no.2 is back with the cheese!”

Bob: “Hmm, only it’s cheese strings – from Mum’s face I think she was thinking more “caved-aged gruyere’ or at least a decent mature cheddar but never mind.”

Bill: “I’m a fan of wensleydale myself but… oh dear, Son no. 1 has now decided he ‘needs a wee’.”

Bob: “Mum’s telling him in no uncertain terms that he’ll have to hold on – there’s no customer toilet in here apparently!”

Bill: “Yikes, Bob – they’re going to have to up the pace then, to get home in time!”

Bob: “Indeed Bill, and they are, she’s almost running down the canned goods aisle…”

Bill: “Managing to hurl some baked beans and chopped tomatoes in as she races past – that basket’s looking heavy!”

Bob: “And they’ve finally reached the bread aisle and she’s flung in a loaf.”

Bill: “And also some doughnuts… the boys are looking pleased but she’s shot them a look that says ‘these are for me!'”

Bob: “The basket is looking really heavy now but, not to worry, Mum’s handed it to the boys and they’re carrying it between them”

Bill: “Hmmm ‘swinging’ it between them might be a more accurate way of putting it!”

Bob: “True, they have just scattered grapes across the floor with that last swing but, still they’re helping Mum aren’t they?”

Bill: “I’m saying nothing Bob…”

Bob: “Ah you’ve just spotted Son no.2 sneaking chocolate in to the basket I take it?”

Bill: “Indeed. Luckily Mum’s distracted trying to hoist the baby into a more comfortable position on her hip – he might just get away with that!”

Bob: “Right, Mum’s had enough; they’re headed for the tills”

Bill: “Oh no… there’s a huge queue behind to each of them!”

Bob: “It’s ok she’s headed to the new self service tills – no queue at all there!”till

Bill: “I suspect there’s a reason for that Bob, but lets see…”

Bob: “Right, she’s got the basket in the right area and is following the instructions on screen to swipe the items…”

Bill: “And then put them in the bag. Only she can’t get them in the bag because it’s stuck closed and she’s holding the baby.. but it’s fine she’s just put the baby down next to the till so she can deal with that.”

Bob: “Wait  – the the till’s bleeping and flashing at her: ‘Alert! Alert! Unidentified object in packing area!’”

Bill: “Yes Bob, that’ll be the baby. A little heaver than a punnet of strawberries I’ll warrant.”

Bob: “So she’s put the baby on the floor and managed to open the bag and started to load the shopping into it.”

Bill: “The baby’s crawling off though… should we…?”

Bob: “No need to tell her Bob, Son no. 1 is on it. He’s picked up the baby and jiggling him. The baby is shrieking ecstatically.”

Bill: “Not sure the man at the next check out is that keen on the shrieks Bob.”

Bob: “No, but Mum’s not got time to worry about that now. She’d just noticed the chocolate Son no.2 sneaked into the basket. Although, actually she’s looking quite pleased about it!”

Bill: “Something tells me Son no.2 wont be benefitting from that particular misdemeanour Bob.”

Bob: “No, especially as the self-serve till has just jammed again and is asking her to seek help from a member of staff.”

Bill: “She never should have tried to pass that ‘rustic loaf’ off as a ‘nordic loaf’ Bob – the till can see right through that sort of desperate action.”

Bob: “Mum’s looking wildly around for a member of staff while also taking the baby back off Son no.1”

Bill: “And taking a banana out of his hand… how did he get that anyway?!”

Bob: “Search me Bill! But look, we have real progress – someone has sorted out the glitch and all the items are through the till! Mum’s even managed to pay without a hitch”

Bill: “Although she does now have two small boys hanging off her demanding to go to the loo and telling her they’re hungry.”

Bob: “Not to mention the baby who she’s still trying to keep upright – a difficult task now he’s spotted the bananas in the bag – he can really stretch when he wants to can’t he?!”

Bill: “She needs to get out of here fast Bob!”

Bob: “She’s on it, she’s pretty much sprinting to the door with the kids in tow!”

Bill: “Back through the car park, through the rain, shopping bags knocking against her legs…”

Bob: “Baby crying at the rain slashing in this face.”

Bill: “Boys still shouting about being hungry and needing a wee!”

Bob: “But she’s made it! She’s got them all into the car and she’s setting off!”

Bill: “Hooray! But no, wait! Why’s she now slamming her hands onto the steering wheel like that?! She looks furious!”

Bob: “Ah Bob, that would be because she’s realised… ”

Bill: “Oh dear…”

Both: “She’s forgotten the milk!”

Prose for Thought

For more Bill and Bob check out what they had to say about The School Run and the weekly Kids Swimming Lessons.

Post Comment Love

puddles

We’ve had a lot of sunshine recently. It’s been wonderful – I’ve been making the most of it and sitting in the garden as much as I can. Sometimes, when I have documents to read on my laptop, it’s not really ideal but I’d rather squint at a screen with the sun on my back and grass between my toes than stay indoors. I love writing outside too – I feel surrounded by inspiration, like it could drift in on the breeze, burrow its way out of the ground or clamber in over a nearby fence to surprise me.rain

But then a few days ago we had a sudden torrential downpour. Dark clouds raced across the sky trampling out all the blue and, in moments, down came the rain. Huge hammering pellets, blistering their way across pavements and hurling themselves into thirsty soil. It reminded me how much I love it: Proper rain. Not that kind of endless drizzle that seems to settle itself here in autumn for weeks on end, but the real stuff. The type that comes along and forcefully washes the air clean before going on its way leaving only that gorgeous fresh, earthy sort of smell behind.

As well, of course, as puddles. And who doesn’t like jumping in them?!

All of which is is a roundabout way of saying: “I wrote a haiku about puddle-jumping”.

 

Pools of fallen sky

collect in holes and hollows

for our joyful feet


Prose for Thought

the test of time

sunset crane

photo credit: Sarah Miles

Last month I entered a flash fiction competition over at Paper Swans. The challenge was to write a 150 word piece of flash fiction using the photo to the right as a prompt.

My entry didn’t win but as it was the shortest ‘story’ I had ever written I was quite chuffed that I managed to do it at all – I really had to hack it back to what felt like the bare bones.

Anyway, I thought I would share it here. I’d love to know your thoughts (the winner was decided by votes so I didn’t get any feedback… that could be a good thing though!)

Oh, and do pop over to Paper Swans; it’s a new venture supporting poets and writers of flash fiction and is well worth a look.

The Test of Time

She had always been tall and skinny although, even in her early days, was never considered beautiful. Those she worked alongside had inevitably attracted more admiration than she could with her awkward, angular frame.

Yet, as the years had gone by, people around her had gained a certain appreciation for what she did have to offer. After all, a towering physique was exactly what was needed in her line of work and what she lacked in aesthetics she certainly made up for in strength. This recognition had allowed her to power through life, stacking up accomplishments. On reaching the glass ceiling she’d simply smashed it up and thrown it on the scrapheap.

But now her lengthy working life was drawing to a close and as the sun sank below the skyline she downed tools for the final time. Peace descended over the construction site. Tomorrow a newer, more modern crane would take her place: she was officially ‘out of service’.

Prose for Thought

yoda ode(a)

20140302_175115-1

There’s a funny little Yoda head that keeps appearing around our house. It’s teeny (not much bigger than a baked bean) and I find it in the most random of places, just when I’m least expecting it. No one will admit to moving it around though… I guess it must move by magic?

Anyway, I thought I would write a poem about it:

Ode(a) to Yoda

 

Here’s a silly ode a-

Bout little head of Yoda

Who randomly arrives

To amuse and surprise

On a chair or by the bed,

Or on a stair (the topmost tread)

 

Maybe sneaked behind a door

Or abandoned on the floor,

Perhaps it’s on a window ledge

Or on a table near the edge,

Or it could be by the sink

I just don’t know what to think…

 

You see, I never really know

Where this Yoda head will go;

“Did you move it boys?” I say

But my kids declare “No way!”

“But you must’ve, don’t you see?

Because I know it wasn’t me!”

 

Then I realise, oh, OF COURSE!

Yoda’s moving with THE FORCE.

 

I’ve had a whole month without taking part in any linkies (so I could get some creative writing done) so I’m excited to be linking with Prose for Thought today – I really missed it! My poem is not a remotely sensible contribution to the poetic pile of course, but hey.

For more poetry and prose check out #Prose4T  over at Verily Victoria Vocalises – I’m off to have a read now!

Prose for Thought

limerick challenge #12

So here we are, a mere six days from my decision not to take part in any blog hops at all for a whole month and I’m already linking up with Prose for Thought!

This really is the last time (for a month) though. The thing is, having accidentally forgotten to do my weekly limerick challenge on Monday – leading to my decision to switch to doing that on an ad hoc basis – the boys suddenly got really keen for me to write one. They spent a couple of days flinging suggestions at me: ‘a kitten!’, ‘a rhino!’, ‘an armadillo!’ ’till my brain finally stopped spinning and I wrote a couple.

Since I’ve written them and it’s a Thursday (and I love #Prose4T) I figured I will linkup. But that is IT. No more blog-hopping in May. I need to dedicate more time to creative writing and less time to blogging if I’m ever going to get anywhere with the humungous task of writing a book.

Anyway, enough preamble. Two baboon limericks. Illustrations by my boys as usual:

 

There was an unlucky baboon

With a bum like a shrivelled balloon

Sometimes he would hate it

Till he learned to inflate it

And bounced spacehopper-style round the room

 

bouncing baboon with baby bouncing baboon (my 4yo loves babies!)

bouncing baboon (with baby bouncing baboon!)

 

A young and ambitious baboon

Built a rocket to fly to the moon

But he had no knowledge

Of engine hydraulics

And thus the whole project was doom(ed)

 

Baboon with his (rather fetching ) pink rocket.

Baboon with his (rather fetching ) pink rocket.

 

Prose for Thought

a mother’s love

sleeping baby gold

She stood gazing down at this vision of complete contentment – her baby boy’s peaceful, sleeping form. He looked, to her fond eyes, almost edibly gorgeous with his rosebud mouth, little squidgy nose and blond, downy hair framing the gentle curve of his cheeks. Clutched to his chest was his favourite teddy; his arms – even in sleep – wrapping it in a tight embrace with one plump hand clutching at its fluffy foot. And those fingers! Each one with its dimpled knuckle, soft skin and miniature nail seemed a tiny testament to the human ability for perfection.

She was filled with a rush of love and the sudden wild need to scoop him up in her arms, to bury her face in the soft skin of his neck and breath in his baby scent. Her arms ached at the thought.

Behind her, a door slammed and she was jarred suddenly from her reverie. She heard the sound of shoes being kicked off and a moment later a lanky young man strode into the room.

“Alright Mum?” He said, brushing her arm not-unaffectionately as strode past her to the fridge “Just grabbing some lunch… is there any food?” Then, noticing her attention was still fixed on something in her hands, he came and peered over her shoulder: “What have you got there?”

She sighed lightly, shaking herself back into the present: “Yes of course there’s food, darling, unless you and your brother have eaten it all since I last looked… which actually wouldn’t surprise me…” She said with fond exasperation. Then, returning her attention again to what was in her hands, she responded to his other query: “I was just looking at one of your baby photos – I found it in a drawer when I was clearing some things out. It took me back.”

She looked once more at the tiny face in the picture and then up at the distinctly larger one now next to her. She searched his features. Was there a trace of the baby there still? Perhaps in the curve of his lip? The shape of his brow?

She sighed again. He was already turning to move across the room. He was his own person now; always going somewhere, meeting someone or off doing something-or-other. He was a lovely lad and she was proud of him, but sometimes she longed to be the centre of his universe again. These days she felt like merely an orbiting satellite.

She turned to place the photo on a shelf and was surprised to feel a hand on her shoulder.“You’re getting all sentimental again aren’t you?” he said, “Come on, make me a cup of tea and I’ll let you bore me with tales of how cute I used to be!”

He smiled at her and suddenly she saw before her not just the teenager he now was, but the proud ten-year-old who’d won the award at school, the excited six-year-old who’d just got his new bike, the four-year-old dancing wildly round the kitchen table, the toddler running into her arms and, yes, even the baby sleeping contentedly, arms wrapped tightly round his favourite teddy.

***

A bit of a soppy story from me today! I was looking at my youngest boy this morning (he’s 14 months old now) and thinking how gorgeous he is and how part of me can’t bear the idea of him – or his brothers – getting any older. I just want them to stay my adorable little guys forever! But, of course, they won’t and really I don’t want them to. I love watching them grow up and I hope one day to see them turn into lovely men.

And that’s what inspired me to write this story. I was trying to capture a sense of continuing nature of motherhood and that somehow  – even when they’re huge people with massive feet – they are still and always the tiny life we first created. (I hope – my oldest is only six – but time will tell!)

I wrote it with the baby at my feet (although he is now having a nap) so it’s a bit rushed… oh, and he’s now waking up so I’d better just publish this!

Prose for Thought