7

‘Give me all the colours of your darkness,’ she screamed.

‘No,’ he whispered, ‘they fade and fall away from me.’

‘Bind me the bitter poems of your torment,’ she cried.

‘No,’ he sighed, ‘hell is long banished from this place.’

‘Spin me tales of the lost,’ she begged.

‘No,’ he lamented, ‘home is all I know.’

‘Dance with me on rivers of ice.’ 

‘No,’ he begged, ‘I am born of fire.’

‘Weave me a carpet of isolation,’ she lamented. 

‘No,’ he cried, ‘I know nothing of loneliness.’

‘Show me the mirror of my divinity,’ she sighed. 

 ‘No,’ he screamed, ‘I fear death above all else.’

‘We stand in this land of our creation,’ she whispered, ‘will you choose to rest here?’ 

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Weekly Tanka Prompt Challenge – Week 12 – Summer & Beer

That epic summer

is how I remember you

when your beer bottle

caught the last fragments of light

and you smiled like a rock star

 

Tanka: 5-7-5-7-7

Summer & Beer prompt from: Ramblings of a writer 

Sleepwalking

Even the air felt unsettled.  A cold, autumn wind had driven the first shower of leaves into a wild fury and they seethed like angry bees around the half open window. Jake tried to reason with his friend again, ‘Matt, come on you need to sleep.’

‘No.’

‘Please buddy,’ he caught a desperate sigh before it could escape, ‘it’s been 3 days, you’re gonna start to get sick.’

One of frantic leaves had settled on Matt’s leg. He picked it up, turning it over and over between his fingers, ‘Just go away.’

‘I get it, you’re scared that if you sleep you’ll dream about her,’ Jake tilted his head softly, trying to catch sight of their friendship, ‘and then you have to wake up and lose her all over again.’

‘Not even close.’

‘Well then tell me, Matt. Because we’re both gonna go crazy otherwise.’

‘I saw her, when she left to…’ he spoke so softly that it seemed like some of the words were lost even before they were spoken, ‘…when she got into the car.’

‘I know.’

The dark shadows of loss had torn far deeper into the young man’s face than a lack of sleep ever could, ‘I saw her today.’

‘We need to sleep to function, if we don’t get enough it messes with our minds, makes us see things that aren’t there.

He carried on like Jake hadn’t spoken, ‘I saw her before she drove away, I saw her before my phone rang.’

‘Matt, don’t go there.’

‘I saw her before they told me that she was dead.’

‘You can’t keep on torturing yourself like this, Sylvie would hate it.’

‘I saw her today.’

‘Matt…’

‘And it’s still today, Jake. As long as I stay awake, it’s still today.’ A tear had gathered at the corner of his eye, but it didn’t fall. It felt like his grief was lost too, ‘But if I go to sleep, when I wake up it will be tomorrow. And that means I will have said goodbye to her yesterday.’

‘You can’t keep hold of her,’ Jake searched for something to say that would fix the unfixable, ‘not even by staying awake for the rest of your life.’

Matt sat up suddenly, ‘I’m not having a day between us,’ he said, ‘and if that means staying awake forever, then that’s what I’ll do.’

‘So you want to die too, is that what this is about?’

‘You can’t die from lack of sleep.’

Jake took hold of his friend, ‘Fine, but you want to know what will happen if you keep on with this? Your brain will begin to compensate, your thoughts will become jumbled and you will lose the ability to control your life, Matt. You’ll live in a world where you no longer know what’s real and what’s imagined. And in that world every single day of your life will be lost. You won’t be dead, but you won’t be living either.  You’ll be sleepwalking your way through waking nightmares.  You can feel this starting already, I know you can.’

The tear fell then, slipping silently and deprived of context onto the leaf he still held in his hand, ‘How do I do this, Jake? How do I live a lifetime of tomorrows?’

Jake pulled his friend close, ‘Tomorrow is just yesterday with a hopeful grin and a fresh set of clothes on buddy. Both of them are about fear. This here, this,’ he patted his arms around Matt’s back, ‘this one moment is ours. And I know it feels raw and brutally painful right now, but it’s also real.’

‘You been reading The power of Now again?’ Matt said, leaning into his shoulder.

The wind that had driven that first shower of leaves into a fury, sighed and fluttered around the half open window, drawing the leaf from his soft fingers and dropping it gently to the floor.

‘Now is all we have,’ Jake whispered as his friend closed his eyes for the first time in three days, ‘and there’s not a damn thing on this earth that can take it away from us.’

Shipwreck

Sometimes I almost dream

And I stand quiet then

In that place where death abandoned us

 

You talked to me of emerald dragons

And I would light up the sky one last time

To dance with you on those folded footsteps

 

But all I can do is walk through empty castles

As craving fashions another storm out of the ocean

And I watch you washed ashore in a billion grains of sand

 

The beacons of rescue have faded and failed, my love

And I know now that those who can never die

Do not strive so hard to stay alive

Liebster Award

 

So, turns out I have been nominated for the marvelous Liebster Award by the beautiful, hilarious and multi talented Ana over at A Z Pascoe. Ana is one of the most welcoming and insightful bloggers I’ve come across and reading her work is like taking a road trip with a good friend. Check out her blog, it’s far more interesting than mine.                                                                                                                                                                    liebster-blog-awardThe Liebster Award means you get to find out things about me and discover a whole new bunch of awesome people, which is frankly the best bit.

The rules are thankfully quite simple:

  1. Share 11 facts about yourself.
  2. Answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
  3. Nominate up to 11 bloggers and write 11 questions for them to answer

Okay, 11 facts about me, and pretty much my Online Dating pitch:

  1. I love art almost as much as I love writing. It was pretty touch and go deciding which unrequited career to plump for. The Crone Avatar is taken from one of my charcoal drawings.                                                                                                                                                    sleeper
  2. I’m a vegan. Yep, B12 is a bugger.
  3. I love Indie Rock, the louder and more obscure the better.
  4. I have 3 children. They’ve turned out great, I often take a moment to congratulate myself on that                                                                                  .il_570xn-738465398_amw2
  5. I once ran a charcoal drawing workshop. People thought I knew what I was doing and everything.
  6. My favorite film of all time is Zoolander. I had to buy a replacement DVD.
  7. My go to guru is Steve Jobs.steve-jobs
  8. I can still code in Basic.
  9. I have playlists for every possible emotional occasion. I’m currently listening to, ‘Who died and left you in charge?
  10. My first love was a beautiful boy called Keith. I also dumped that one sided affection the day I saw Bauhaus play in Bristol. Even now Pete Murphy, even now I would run away with you.600full-peter-murphy
  11. I love Illustrators. I have their artwork all over my house. Especially, Kay Nielsen  Edmund Dulac & Arthur Rackham.

 

11 questions set by Ana. I’ve kept the answers short because life is bastard short enough already. 

  1. What is the best thing you think you’ve ever written, and why?  The first draft of my first novel. Not because it was some sort of epic masterpiece, but because finishing that first book is so damn hard. Frankly, there should be flags and marching bands.
  2. If you could spend an hour with anyone in the world, either alive or dead, to speak about life, the universe and everything, who would it be?  Nikola Tesla. I swear that man was/is/will be, a Time Lord.
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  3. What’s one genre/type of book/story you’ve always wanted to write, but been too scared to try? I’d like to have a go at science fiction, but I’d want to put a weird spin on it.
  4. Alternatively, what would you hate to have to write? Any form of slushy Romance. Besides, I know my characters, they wouldn’t do it even if I asked them to.
  5. Name one book, story or poem that inspires you to keep writing or, alternatively, contains some language that, for whatever reason, steals your breath.                                                                                                                                      9780099766018-1467198678851
  6. When did you start writing, and why?  I’ve always written stories. Question is, why did I stop for so long?
  7. Is there a personality trait, quirk or other notable characteristic that you particularly gifting (or cursing!) your characters with?   You can’t beat a bit of darkness.
  8. What’s your favorite kind of cake? (This is a big deal, think carefully)  Man… I don’t eat cake.                                                                                                                                                           no-cakes
  9. If there were no financial barriers, would you take up writing/blogging full time? And if you’re doing so currently, how’d you achieve that?  I am writing full time, (which is mainly why I don’t eat cake.. or biscuits). I have gone into this as if I’m starting a business and everything I do is about building a viable brand. Still, it feels totally insane. I’m risking everything, but I’m also doing what I love and honestly, where’s the fun in playing safe?
  10. If you had to recommend one book to me, what would it be?  The Lord of the Rings (haha, I know you’ve read it, but read it again). Otherwise, The Pearl, by John Steinbeck.
  11. And finally, are you guys way too busy to do this?? I totally understand if you are (it took me forever), so your alternative is to write a kick ass story for me (which, obviously, is no challenge at all).  Hey, you don’t need to ask me twice. Can you be addicted to writing?

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Questions to the 11 Chosen Ones:

  1. Why did you decide to start blogging?
  2. If you were an evil villain trying to take over the world, how would you do it?
  3. Which quote would you have tattooed up your arm?
  4. What book, poem or piece of artwork are you currently working on?
  5. Blue pill or Red pill?                                                                                                                            images
  6. How do you deal with self doubt?
  7. What one piece of advice would you give to new bloggers?
  8. If you could go back in time, which period of history would you choose?
  9. Which book or film do you wish you’d thought of writing first?
  10. What is your zombie apocalypse strategy?
  11. Which character from any novel, poem or piece of artwork that you have produced, would you most like to meet?

Chosen Ones: 

Actually, the one thing I hadn’t appreciated about blogging until I started was just quite how much downright awesome talent there is out there. Seriously, 11 blogs isn’t nearly enough. Check these guys out, they are great bloggers and in my experience, pretty down right fabulous people.

1.  Whalerquinn Quinn writes the most exquisitely beautiful and gloriously weird micro fiction I have so far come across on WordPress. Sometimes it does my head in. What more can you ask of a blog?

2. It’s All In Perception  This blog has kept me puzzled for weeks. There is an unfolding story based around Sherlock Holmes which I love because it’s from a weird angle. But be warned you will also find some beautifully written dialogue, which suddenly turns out to be Magic Realism. I fall for it every damn time.

3. Tammy Mezera Poetry  Tammy’s site reads, ‘Nothing verbose, just poetically inclined‘ Seriously, there is no just on this blog, her beautiful poetry always takes my breath away. There are also links to Tammy’s other writing available from the home page. Check out the side bar.

4. Ash N. Finn So I got hooked on Ash’s blog through the brilliant Cath White flash series. A set of short stories which all weave together to form a larger story. I live in fear that one day Ash will stop writing.

5. Christian Meneses  What can I tell you about Christian? Seeing, The Princess of the Secret Blood, unfold has been a privilege. And apart from making me laugh every time we exchange comments, he’s also a splendid all rounder. So you get blog advice, writing advice and most of all you get to sit back with a cup of coffee and read great Fantasy.

6. The Book of Hangman  With Neil, never know what you’re gonna get. ‘Gothic horror, bizarre absurdities, ridiculous comedy and poetry.’ From the utterly surreal, The last magical fart donkey, to the hauntingly beautiful, The Bogle, it’s always weird and always brilliant.

7. Drunk Off Rhetoric  It would be easy to flag up Minelli’s blog as one of the best places to pick up writing tips and advice, and yes it is. But what really I love about this site is her fiction. I’m not normally one for First Person, Present Tense, but Minelli uses it so damn skillfully that sometimes I’m not sure if I’ve read it or watched it on TV.

8. Kristen P  Kris is one of those bloggers who does all the hard work for me. She delves into this creative process and always comes up with some piece of advice I’ve never thought of before. I also love Kris’ passion for this wild and often confusing business and she will take an idea and run with it. Just a delight.

9. Somathread  ‘Expansion and liberation. Truth. Knowledge. Wisdom. Being informed. Being responsible’ and that’s just the first page. I haven’t even scratched the surface with this site. If the divine had time to write a blog, this is what it would look like.

10. Forged From Reverie  You can get blissfully lost in Stuart’s site. It’s like a glorious library of Folklore and Fantasy, I never have enough time to do it justice. I would take this blog on holiday with me.

11. Pema’s 50/50 challenge   I’m not ashamed to say that this final blog belongs to my dearest, fake beard buddy Pema. When I said I was going to nominate her, she said, ‘Oh god, tell them I don’t know what I’m doing… and that I can’t spell.’ Pema was set 50 challenges for her 50th birthday, and this is the account of her journey. Reading her blog is like being in her company. She’s funny, insightful and highly entertaining things happen to her. Plus she likes me and I admire that in a person.

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I’m mortal

Whim and blind rhetoric wound the warriors of death. From the dark folds of impenetrable storms they watched life bloom and ebb away in their own private picture show. But eternity is a bleak landscape and even malevolent gods grow tired of games. 

He fixed his eyes on the clock and watched the old day die. It was nothing now, just the manifest of a self-imposed duty and in the darkness he cursed the legacy of a habit never broken. How ironic that time had turned out to be so relentless in its efficiency? No more glorious permanence to laze around in. Entropy had arrived to spoil the party and in the waning hours it had turned out that his was the only song left on the Karaoke list.

Everything changed now. Everything. He stared out of the window and waited for the movement of the earth to show along the skyline before turning to face the wall. But even with that first light he didn’t sleep. He just wanted a change of perspective while he waited for the rest of the world to wake up.

By 7am a low mist had taken hold. He stepped through his front door like he was passing through a curtain. The air clung to his face and settled dark fingers along the rim of his shirt. He took a deep breath, holding the zoo of grey clouds inside his lungs for as long as he could. Sometimes the simple things were the worst.

His car was tucked against the car port. A crouched talisman that represented all the noble deeds he had done. Except that he didn’t live in a time of heroes anymore. Here in the mortal world the monsters had won and the knights of the new order wore a far more tarnished mask than the ones he remembered.

The roads were busy. By the time he’d reached the first roundabout they had slowed to crawl. In the distance some reclusive piper played. He tapped the dashboard and watched while the white dragon danced with the red. And all the time his wiper blades tracked a hypnotic path back and forth, back and forth.

Rain on glass. It was pretty mundane stuff but even after all this time, it was still utterly beautiful. He tilted his head to watch the water distorting the world into cubist shapes of pigment, and he watched as it filled up with blue. A moment in time where paths met and things had changed. He watched as life beat its gossamer wings against steel and tarmac.

‘How hopelessly fragile they are,’ he spoke the words softly as an ambulance squealed and wailed out a path behind him. And in his mirror he saw the traffic part like a biblical miracle.

It was Wednesday, and yet for the life of him all he could do was watch.

 

Love

What would you tell me about love?

 

Would you build me a stained glass tapestry?

Would you cut out rainbow colours

And fix them with the lead of your sweet rhetoric?

 

Would you sing me a house of cards?

Would you weave me a thousand symphonies

Out of that bitter-sweet thread?

 

Would you drown me in your dark passion?

Would you raise a kite to twist and turn inside my mind

Blown on the winds of that treasure paradox?

 

Would you fashion me sonnets out of price tags?

Would you hand me fear in a gilded box

Bound with amber ribbons of tenure?

 

Would you have me believe in angels?

Would you measure my light on broken scales

And talk to me of the commodity of love?

 

Would you?

 

 

 

The invisible man

Some of them had fallen into the radioactive vats, some had been pushed and some, like Finn, had been born into them.

No one had ever really counted how many there were.  By their nature it was hard to tell them apart, and one became another all too easily.  But everyone knew that they were there, and everyone knew what they were.

And it wasn’t like they could turn transparent or anything.  They just had this knack of becoming part of the backdrop.  Finn once said it was more like natural camouflage than anything else.  Sure, they bore the toxic aftermath on their flesh, but it was in the minds of the Noticeable People that the real magic happened.  A dark enchantment seemed to possess them, and it erased the Invisible from the picture book of their thoughts quicker than changing channels on a TV.

His hair was dark, like anyone’s son.

It wasn’t really the vat or even the radioactivity that was the problem, it was what happened next.  And that just happened bit by bit, until being visible was harder than disappearing.

His skin was still soft with youth, and he hid it away like the sun would kill him.

The strangest thing about the Invisible was that they didn’t seem to need things.  Not like the Noticeable People did.  They had a way of living in the world with nothing.  Not even a home.  Finn said that all the things he had believed about being a Human had been taken away a chunk at a time, like he was being eaten alive. And when he spoke those words, he held his hand close to his mouth, like someone would find out.

There were charities of course, ways to help them.  And the Noticeable People could choose how their donations were spent, because if you were a Noticeable Person, your money still belonged to you, even after you’d given it away.

The charities had been enough for a long time, when the Invisible had been called something else, when there had only been a few of them to worry about.  But now it seemed like the toxic vats were everywhere, and each day the desperate marches and overcrowded boats brought more of the Invisible to the shore of the Noticeable People.  And with the numbers came an unsettling fear:  The contamination of their misfortune was too threatening to be allowed to spread in a compassionate and civilised society.

Which was why the Plague Ships were built.  Vast holding pens for the pestilence of walking corpses, the broken and the damned, corralled and marooned in a dry sea, confined to the places where death and despair were not afraid to do the work of good and honest men.

Finn had dragon-green eyes.  Years before someone had told him that it was his eyes that had started it all, that coded in his genetic configuration had been his own radioactive vat.  When he told me, I could see that they had said it like it was his fault.  He slept behind the portable gas station with his arms bound around his head.  You couldn’t wake him, likely he would punch you if you did.  But the ones who walked with him respected that.  They knew that the fading always came at a cost.

He wore a pair of grey headphones with nothing on the end of them.   And it was okay because he was different.  They were all different.  Too damn different.  Too strange, too hurt, too unwanted, too angry.

Too many.

And anyway, they looked out for each other.  And being raped or robbed was just part of being Invisible.  And the children all played together and didn’t mind not having parents.  And it wasn’t that cold at night.  And a boat was always a choice.  They just wanted an excuse to move here.

Sometimes Finn flinched when we were laughing and I went to touch his arm.

He always drew his cigarettes down to filter, hidden away inside his hand, like the burning didn’t matter as much as the smoke.  And each time I sat with him in the alcove of his leprosy, he would look at me through his sweet spider lashes as if he was trying to figure out what I wanted from him.

Finn was 16.  There was no one left alive to love him.  And going home was worse than staying lost among the Invisible.

‘Being here is like coming back from somewhere else now,’ he said the last time we met.  And I could see in his eyes that disappearing wasn’t just about the outside of him.