Sunday, 23 March 2014

Clear Path Forward

A prompt from Write on Edge based on this image:

to which I'll add the following, just for jollies:

Often she dreamed of towers and dragonback flying and strong hands holding hers, of golden rings blazing with power and of long tracks in the wilderness that led, finally, to nowhere at all.

At precisely 06:15 the screen in her apartment blared out its alarm and dragged her upright and attentive while she was still not yet awake.   Stretching and calisthenics until 06:30 and then a breakfast of souring milk and tasteless Libertyflakes before the long walk to work.  Her bicycle, requisitioned a month ago and, melted down, was helping to secure victory against the relentless inhuman enemies of her freedom to obey and work herself to death.

She didn’t think that thought.

Between 08:58 and 13:01 she sat at a desk with a shiny plastic table whose top didn’t quite look like wood.   Documents arrived on her left and she corrected them using a combination of voice recognition software which didn’t work and a grubby grey keyboard that mostly did.  

She dreamed often of a world of glorious cold dawns and sisters with corngold hair, of incantations and dancing barefoot in forbidden places, and of a lover as wild as drunken lightning and  as gentle as summer waking.   She dreamed of a kiss on her lips, and of wearing the necklace he’d given her, a fallen star sheathed in whispergold.

Between 13:05 and 13:25 she ate with the others in ordered rows.  Noodles and soya cubes and the news broadcast at full volume gleeful with imminent victory and sombre reminders that the enemy could strike at any time and hated hated hated the luxuries and freedom that were so commonplace here.   The noodles were undercooked and crunchy.

Between 13:29 and 17:32 she sat at her desk correcting errors and omissions.  She excised a photograph of a dead eyed man from a ministry bulletin from a year ago, it had been placed there in error.  The man had never worked there, though she was sure she’d seen him just once on the day she’d first been shown her desk.   Another error corrected.

She dreamed some nights of a long trail in the wilderness, through grass, that led nowhere.   She’d held the hand of the man who was her wildfire and told him that if she fell in battle she’d want to be buried beyond that horizon, with his necklace on her cold breast.   He’d smiled and said she would never die for he was a king, and he would never allow it.

At 17:36 she began the walk home, with all the others.   The bulletin had promised sunshine and clear weather for the evening commute.   Someone fell into step next to her, took her hand.   This didn’t happen.     He was lean and grim and she did not know him.

“Let go of me,”

“Don't think I haven't tried,” his accent was Scottish, his voice insistent, “I need your help”


“You need to show me where to dig,”

It was about quarter to six and raining gently.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Tuesday's Train

“You don’t get frosts anymore, not real frosts, not here,”

I looked up from my book, surprised at being addressed.   The speaker was sitting opposite me and I hadn’t noticed him arrive, he must have got on at the previous station I suppose.


“Your book, Frost.   Just saying you don’t get frosts these days.”

He was an old man, small, tidy looking, with pure white hair and a neat beard, he wore an old but dark suit beneath a thick winter jacket.   His smile had the mischief of a kitten looking at a precious vase.

“It’s not about weather,” I said holding the book up, “It’s poetry.  Robert Frost.”

His smile widened.

“You don’t get real poets any more either,” he said, “I remember poets that could charm summer out of snow, and lightning from a clear sky.    Babies into cribs too, most of them.   What’s this fellow like then?”

“He’s good,” I said, “I like his work.”   It had been a long day and I didn’t feel up to a conversation anyway.    Work had dragged eight hours into twice that and this train had been diverted so far from its usual route I’d be lucky to see my home before midnight.

“Like his work?   A poet’s words should stab you to the heart with florid flame and turn your world to ash in an instant, hah yes, and then build a new and better world an instant later that makes you wonder how you ever bore the last one.”

That was quite an expectation, and I said so.

“Guilty as charged,” replied this exuberant fellow, “and unapologetic.    Words are too wonderful a thing to expect anything but magnificence from them.   So what did this Frost fellow write that was so good?  Do tell me, I adore being proven wrong, it has an enjoyable rarity value about it.”

I couldn’t help but smile in response to his unabashed impudence.   I flicked through the book to find my favourite quotation.

“Here,” I said, and quoted, “I would have written of me on my stone: I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.  And it is, you know, it was used as his epitaph.”

The old man considered this.

“A lover’s quarrel with the world,” he said, musing and stroking his beard, “A fine phrase, but maudlin perhaps.   I’ve never really understood lovers quarrelling.   I’m more the one night stand sort myself.”   He chuckled at some hidden joke of his own.

“New lovers are easier to find than new worlds,” I replied, nettled at his dismissal of my favourite quotation.

“Now what makes you think that?” he said leaning forward and pressing something into my hand.   A movement at my elbow distracted me, a flutter of wings and an impression of something large and tattered.    When I looked back the old man was gone, utterly gone, and a ring of ancient gold lay in my palm shining with truth and the burning cold of ancient winters.

A response to a prompt from Write on Edge using the Robert Frost quotation mentioned in the text

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Metallic Sonatas

The Rapture turned out to be a faulty product recall and we, the remnant, felt as free as mice in a house with only senile felines.  Then the new angels came to play.

The prompt is from Trifecta - 33 words including a palindrome (highlighted).

This is the last prompt Trifecta are running and I was sad to read that the site is closing its doors.  I've not been a member for very long but I've enjoyed responding to the prompts (those strict word counts have really helped me tighten up my prose) and meeting the other members of this great community.   The feedback I've had has been a great encouragement for me to sit down and write, and I've enjoyed reading the work of such a diverse and talented crew.     I'm hoping that I can keep in touch with, and follow the continued work of the rest of you.    To Trifecta and the people behind it - my thanks and gratitude, and best wishes for your future life and works.