Creative Writing

On an afternoon in April, Cate saw a man who had been dead for two months.

She seldom spent her lunch hour in anywhere other than the same run down, nineteen-forties style cafe on a crumbling dead end street a few minutes’ walk from the office. She liked to pretend it was a kind of quiet humility which kept her from the chain coffee shops of her vibrant colleagues, yet in actuality she was anything but furtive. She liked the the separation. To her mind, it represented her difference from them: her Russell Group degree, her vocabulary, her manner of dressing… quite out of place, both at work and in this cheap, bleach infused faux-american diner.

The cafe was a typical intensified replica from the perspective of a Brit; it was heavily accented with a bar a mile long, a fleet of circular stools nailed into the floor, tables set out in booths. It always gave Cate the impression of an ideal spot for secret lovers. She always wondered if other patrons would catch one glimpse of her outfit, her fresh coat of lipstick and suspect she was meeting a married man.

That afternoon – the afternoon she saw her dead friend – she’d been thinking about something he’d told her once. They were lying face to face on one of the infrequent and greatly anticipated occasions which they were truly alone, isolated in a world of their own making – or was she just romanticising? In truth, they were always clumsy with each other. She liked to think they conversed freely and for long periods of time; she often wished they could sit up all night, cross-legged with a torch, just talking. In reality, not a great deal was ever said, yet much was implicit. Once, after a silence, he’d told her: “You’re like a mirror.” Now, in the diner, Cate frowned. She considered the image of himself he must have seen cast in her dark iris. Then there was the distaste for minuscule portions of who he was that she’d never quite been able to hide. Cate knew exactly what he’d meant.

He’d crashed his car late at night on February 13th. She’d been unable to sleep but she wasn’t superstitious; she’d chalked it down to the connotations of the following day. Of course she’d been upset (she’d cried, which to her equated to a kind emotional distress which may have been sorrow) but she was angry with him. He could’ve done it in twenty, thirty years, more. But it wasn’t suicide. It wasn’t suicide.

There was a was bell fixed just above the door of the cafe which jingled on opening and closing to remind customers, Cate thought, that they were in fact still in England. She occupied the same booth every time, the penultimate one from the door; she never liked to venture too far in. There was a man seated at the bar facing away from her with neatly cut hair, a mole below the right ear. Discreet, but recognisable.

She quickly looked down at her table.

They’d found alcohol in his blood and he hadn’t been wearing a seatbelt. He’d hit the oak at over seventy. It was unlike him. The bridge of his nose had collided with the wheel, smashing bone structure, forcing an eye from its socket, shredding the skin. The mole was the only distinguishing feature, the only way Cate had known it was him.

Presently, the man, ridiculously yet possibly Nick, sprang from the stool and strode the length of the bar; towards her, past her, out the door. His stride was bold and confident – familiar. His pace disturbed the salt seller on Cate’s table. She hadn’t seen his face, not quite, but the chin, the angle of the jaw…

And the mole.

She’d never brought him here.

Cate righted the salt seller. Then she ordered a latte.

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Creative Writing

Short Story Extract – Captivity of the Lark

I have nearly finished a short story in response to a story in Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber. Furthermore, I’m trying to ignore the fact that I’ve not posted in almost forever, I had prolonged Writer’s Block.

The Captivity of the Lark

…She seized me in a flash and cradled me in her long clawed fingers; I thought I was done for. Her grip was not so loose that I could flutter away, yet not so tight that she would crush my hollow bones.

I was stolen from the world I was born into and made a captive in her great nest of night.

The strangeness of it all – the lady’s cold hand, the plunge into darkness, the locked door behind me – sent me into a surge of blind panic; I quite forgot myself. I threw myself incessantly against the bars of my prison, squirming and flapping, ruffling and pulling out my beautiful feathers, for you see, my only desire was to be free from the semi-lit cell and to bathe my quivering body kindly rays of sun once more.

Meantime I had exhausted myself. My young captoress opened the door – salvation! – yet my fragile body was too spent to move. She placed a cup of water and plate of plentiful seeds in my cage and went about her own business. I drank greedily, for I had made myself thirsty with labour. My quick avian eye adjusted to the dinginess so I could observe my surroundings; a card table, windows hung with heavy drapery to defend my young mistress from nurturing natural light. And odd box in the corner, just big enough, I mused, for my young lady to conceal herself within. A light in the corner, with just enough glow to illuminate her white ancestral dress (I say ‘ancestral’ as it has yellowed in places and looks much older than the one who sports it). She knelt by her table and looks hard at me with eyes blacker still than mine. I thought She wants me to sing for her! I am a bird of good breeding, I shall oblige her. I thought perhaps if I sang a most heavenly melody, the only one I knew, she might be well pleased and liberate me. Yet, at length, another figure entered the room, gestured to the box into which my mistress folded herself. Her cage without bars. This silent, scrawny, stooping figure was my lady’s keeper, just as she was mine.

Some nights my lady’s keeper lets her out in the rose-walled garden (I can only assume it’s night, or else why would my lady seal herself into the gloomy nocturne of her castle?). The first time she returned, weeping with a face smeared with blood, I thought for an instant of the abhorrent creature that dashed the blood from my helpless nest-bound brothers and sisters. She wailed and paced her boudoir and sat down at her table and shuffled her cards and threw them down exasperated. She was beside herself, yet I knew she meant me no harm since I shared her loneliness  She strummed the bars of my cage, as though urging me to speak. Chantez-vous she murmured through her tears, chantez-vous, s’il vous plait, mon seul ami. I sang to soothe her, finally she slept. …

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Creative Writing

Valentines’ Day

Warmed by a nightlong rest,

we whisper the common riddle. The eager zest

of love quietened by morning, sleep, speech

and indulgence shared hours before. Now, heavy-lidded, reach

for an arm or fingertip. A sound, and we rise to leave

that sanctuary. The bed cools, the two halves cleave.

Now, armored with boots, scarf, a hat for my head,

I wonder at life which wrenched me from that bed

(and you). Is it not cruel that we are called

from the warm pressing of our bodies and hauled

to trains, trams, buses by necessity? –

Forced to numb our feelings in freezing February.

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Creative Writing

A little poetry.

I’ve been looking at Hardy’s poetry in class recently and wrote a response to ‘At An Inn’. I won’t say who the narrator is, but it’s fairly obvious if you read ‘At An Inn’. It’s not the best poem I’ve written – I couldn’t be arsed to structure it properly so it’s practically prose-y diarrhea. So, here it is.

Reflections on the Night at an Inn

I sit as I sat then: white stockings

Sharp against the pine.

 

For hours my gaze would fix forward,

my nails left inscriptions in the floorboards –

a Virgin’s passion.

Whole days indoors with shutters closed. A stifling

veil, and desperately dim.

 

So, when you lifted my hand and touched it

to your mouth, you coaxed me from my Doll’s House

with sweet words – the ones I’d yearned for. I thought

to give myself to you, if I couldn’t be my own.

 

But no. The torch you held scorched me, both of us;

we blew it out together. Your touch was a pinprick,

your vacant voice a slurred monotone.

And there we sat. That room, a gap unbreached

and absence.

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Creative Writing

Short Story Competition.

My English teacher fervently thrust an entry form for The Bridport Prize 2012, which is essentially a short story/poetry/flash fiction competition, into my hands on entering Room 41 today. The winner of said competition will not only have gloating rights and an overwhelming sense of supreme writerdom but would also be five thousand pounds richer. Personally, I’m in it for the gloating.

More information here.

I’ve decided to go for the 5000 word short story. Now I have to think of material If you read my blog a bit, you may have come across an opening I wrote for a story (if you can be arsed, read it here), but I’m really not sure where I can go with it to craft a story of any real value to anyone; it’d probably end up being a self-centered piece of bullcrap which is pretty much a reflection of how much I would like to leave Lincolnshire. Unless I get a radical idea, I doubt I’ll take it anywhere.

What I’d really love to do is tackle an issue that every human being can relate to, and sculpt a narrative in such a way that can realistically reflect something at the heart of the Human Condition. I’m studying two tragedies at the moment which all explore weaknesses and human frailty, the inability to face up to yourself etc. I’m also fascinated by memories; how they are distorted by time, how we can alter and manipulate them for our own selfish pleasure, how some stay clear whereas others don’t. How our own ideology bridges gaps in our understanding which makes every perspective and every truth different from another (Joe Rose in Enduring Love). And stuff. But whatever. I have until the end of May.

Not the most interesting of posts, but I haven’t blogged for a bit and I needed to empty my brain to make space for German vocab, so DEAL WITH IT.

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Creative Writing

I’m going to do something courageous.

I have been working on a short story, and I’m going to put the first little bit on here. Which is terrifying for me. *braces self*  Here we go:

The prospect of city life has long enthralled Eileen Lynch. Now, the other side of twenty-five, she felt irrefutable pride on opening her letters; NW1.

By the time she reached her mid teens, Lynch was restless in Cumbria. The hills, divided unevenly by ancient walls no longer exuded that sweet homeliness that engulfed her in her youth. Once, childishly, the hills had been hers. She had rambled daily, lemon yellow wellingtons visible through the densest fog, through a yard, over a style, perhaps through a field of livestock to a miniature wilderness or raging streamlet. She had once vowed never to leave, and, taking her mother’s bread knife, carved her oath meticulously into a birch.

At thirteen, she began to notice the view; how primitive, how unchanging, how tiresome. The dry stone walls had ceased to age years before, and would outlive her. They had endured, and would continue to endure, hundreds of the harshest winters. Each morning brought her that greeting, (two syllables, the first higher in pitch than the second) from people  who professed to know her purely because from a short distance they had watched her grow. She began to wake up already weary.

That’s all for now. I suppose you should tell me what you think. Argh.

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