Monthly Archives: August 2012

Free Write Friday – Heather

Heather
Heather stirred her coffee slowly and licked the froth from her spoon. Lost in thought, she was oblivious to the bustle around her. The lunchtime rush came and went and still she sat, nursing her drink. Some time in the early afternoon, she was distracted by a customer’s loud rant. He was complaining about rancid milk which is why he caught Heather’s attention. She’d been coming here for years and not once had they served rancid milk. She wondered what he was trying to achieve. Compensation? Hardly worth it for a free coffee. Or maybe he was some kind of mystery shopper.. But would a mystery shopper use such coarse language? She supposed it was possible, after all, they must be told to try and provoke a reaction in the baristas. She was impressed by the girl’s calm manner in dealing with him. He reminded her of that DJ she’d had a fling with last summer. What was his name…? Chris? No, Craig… He worked at Salacious Sounds and she’d met him when she’d gone to buy a record for her brother. It must have been obvious she didn’t have a clue about dubstep but he was so sweet and helpful. He was gorgeous. Bit rough though, not her usual type. She’d suggested he have elocution lessons. That didn’t go down too well. Said she was a snob. Perhaps he was right. She was glad they had stayed friends but they had come back to this argument a few times since.  Heather sighed.
‘Another latte, love?’ The barista smiled down at her
‘Oh, yes please… Can I have a slice of that carrot cake as well? I’ve been eyeing it up all afternoon and I can’t leave without trying a piece!’
‘Of course. Coming right up.’
Heather looked down at her laptop. She only had three articles to write and so far she’d written about 100 words. She cursed herself for agreeing to do the piece for Spark magazine. What did she know about diodes? It was harder than she thought it would be to sound knowledgeable on the subject. The blog piece for 8-track though, would be much easier. Perhaps she should have started with that first, just to get writing. Someone had once advised her to start with the hardest piece of work first to get it out of the way. Well, that wasn’t exactly working for her today. She put her headphones on and switched to the ‘easier’ piece.

A few hours later Heather stopped. She was surprised to see a cup of cold coffee and the remains of a carrot cake on the plate beside her. She barely remembered eating it. She had written all three articles, a blog post and started on her brother’s wedding speech. She closed her laptop and smiled. She’d treat herself to a takeaway tonight. And tomorrow. She always ordered for two as she could never bring herself to say ‘yes’ when asked ‘and is that a meal for one?’ She wasn’t sure why as she enjoyed living alone. What was it her Mum used to say? ‘If you can enjoy your own company you’ll never be lonely.’ So tonight she had a date with a takeaway for two and a dvd of Hitch. ‘I might like my own company but I wouldn’t say no to a fling with Will Smith!’ she thought to herself.
‘Heading homeward?’
‘Yep. See you tomorrow!’
Heather walked slowly out of the coffee shop, hesitating outside Salacious Sounds just long enough for Craig to notice her and wave. She smiled and waved back. ‘Drink?’ he mimed, pointing at his watch to indicate he meant later, he held up his right hand, fingers spread. Heather nodded, ‘Be back at 5 then,’ she mouthed, and half jogged back to her flat. Will Smith could wait.

****

The above short story is my entry for this week’s Free Write Friday challenge. Having read it back, it took some effort not to edit this week’s piece! There is so much I would change and I think it would read better in the first person. But that’s not the point of the exercise so… If you enjoyed this story, please leave a comment below! Constructive criticism welcome as I may expand this one to something at some point in the future.

If you’re new here and wondering what Free Write Friday is all about, click on the image at the top of this post to find out more and read other entries from this week.

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100 WCGU Week #55- Don’t call me Mr Tinkle

Don’t call me Mr Tinkle
‘Mr Tinkle! What are you doing?’
‘I would have thought that obvious. Also, don’t call me Mr Tinkle. My name is Oscar. Today, you can call me Sahara.’
‘You look cute. Did you choose the purple wig because of the poem we read yesterday?’
‘The poem you read, sister. I didn’t like it. Why wait til you’re old to steal, spit and wear purple? And ‘cute’ isn’t the look I was going for. I chose the wig because the blonde one I wanted is hidden away since the litter tray incident…’
‘My baby!’
‘No, I’m not! Put me down woman!’

The above short story was inspired by this week’s 100WCGU, which was to write 100 words based on the image prompt given.

What’s 100WVGU? Click on the button below to find out more and read more words inspired by this prompt.

Slashes of sunlight

Sunlight slashes bright lines
In the grey clouds
Scattered across the early morning sky.

Free Write Friday – Time and place scenario

I thought I’d have a go at Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday this week. Yes, I know it’s Saturday but there’s no deadline! I’ll admit I looked at the image yesterday but I didn’t start writing anything until this evening and it’s unedited as per the instructions. It’s untitled because I couldn’t think of one! If you would like to suggest a title, please feel free to do so in the comment box below.

If you’re wondering what Free Write Friday is all about, click on the image below to head to Kellie’s blog to find out more and read the other entries from this week.

Purple smoke swirls sparkle with stardust
And moonlit lakes reflect the blue black shadows of night
The forest smells of burnt marshmallows and candy floss

I stumble accross a star studded stream
And stop to drink and rest my wings
My wings..?
I think I hear someone whispering…

I lie and listen to the almost silence
I should come here more often, I think
The grass holds me, my thoughts, my fears…
The stream does so much more than just a drink
I stretch out my arms and dive right in

The wind is still whispering ‘Shhh’
I follow the sound through the trees
until tiredness overtakes me
And I drop to my knees
The purple smoke swirls sing a strange lullaby
And I start to close my eyes…
‘Hey….’ It gently sings
As I lie down ans fold my wings
‘Hey… Hey!’
I open my eyes.
‘Sorry love, I hate to wake you when you look so peaceful and all but didn’t you say this was your stop..? You don’t wanna get caught on the last night bus!’
‘Oh, um… Yeah. Thank you.’
I stumble down the steps into the street, rubbing my eyes.
What a strange dream… As soon as I think this the memory of it starts to fade. I stand for a while, trying to recall it as moonlight puddles at my feet.
I shake the stardust from my wings and start walking.
I can still smell candy floss.

100 WCGU #53 – Seven

My entry for this week’s 10o Word Challenge for Grown Ups (100WCGU). The prompt is in bold, in the story below. This was a tough one, but I came up with something in the end! Honest feedback welcome.

For more information about 100 WCGU and to read more entries from this week, click on the image at the end of this post.

Seven

Rose studied her sister carefully. She had just asked ‘…would Seven prove to be too much?’ She knew the answer but was hoping Poppy would lie.

Poppy was looking forward to having the kids for the weekend. Fleur’s girls were lovely. Bright and affectionate, they were a dream to babysit. Rose’s eldest, Five was ok too, and he would be a big help with the girls. Even Six wasn’t so bad, really. But Seven…  ‘Honestly Rose? Yes, he will. But it’s ok. It’s only one day. You two go and enjoy your birthday.’

From behind her twin sister, Fleur signed ‘It’s going to be a looooong day.’

50 Shades of OK

I’ve read the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy and you know what? It’s ok. As I was reading the first book – which Mr B bought for me – I thought it wasn’t that good – I kept reading everywhere that it was spectacularly bad and that EL James was a terrible writer. I kind of got caught up with anti James hype and started to say something along those lines myself. However, once I had finished the first book I ‘just wanted to know what happened next,’ so I downloaded the second book. And then the third. And I enjoyed them. But I still said, when asked, that they although I did enjoy them, they weren’t very good.

Yesterday my brother-in-law, who is halfway through the first book (Yes. Men are reading it too) asked me what I thought. I told him I enjoyed them but didn’t think they were very good. He asked, ‘in what way?’ and I reeled off the same nonsense I had said before. But his comment made me think. Really think. In what way are they terrible? Is EL James really such an awful writer? Well, she’s not the greatest writer, in my (now humbled) opinion. I found some of the scenes (yes, those ones) repetitive and predictable after a while, and Ana’s constant references to her ‘inner goddess’ were cringeworthy. For the most part… Except when they were so awful they made me laugh out loud. I’m not sure that was James’ intention but a good laugh doesn’t hurt, does it? And I found myself caring about the characters. I mean, let’s face it. I didn’t read all three books just for the sake of it. And that’s why I want to take back my earlier comments. Well, some of them.

So, no – El James is not the world’s greatest writer, and her books certainly won’t be on my ‘read again’ list. However, if you take the 50 Shades trilogy for what it is – which, essentially, is a modern ‘Pretty Woman’ style love story. Yes, with a lot more sex – then it’s not bad. I don’t want to give any spoilers but let’s just say that by the end of the trilogy most of my questions were answered and I wasn’t upset by the ending. I felt satisfied. Not as ‘full’ as when I read, say, ‘Of Bees and Mist,’ or ‘All my Friends are Superheroes,’ – my current favourites, but still. EL James, if you’re reading (and I doubt you have time), then I’m sorry. You did good. 50 Shades of Grey is ok. There, I said it. Yeah, it’s OK. Have you read it yet?

Ten people, ten questions – The results!

First of all, I’d like to say a massive Thank You to everyone who took part. Whether you completed the survey yourself, passed it on to friends, tweeted about it or offered a suggestion for one of the questions – I couldn’t have done this without you!

So, who were the ten who took part…? No-one gave their age or location in the end (well, it was optional… Perhaps I’ll include some demographic questions next time) but I did receive seven images! I had asked for ‘something that represents you, but is not of you.’ I was not disappointed. Here they are (mine is among them. See if you can guess which it is)

And now…. The results!

About You

The first question was: ‘If you were paid a comfortable amount to do whatever you wanted, what would you do with your life?’

30%  said that they are already doing what they want for a living. The rest believe it will be possible to do they want at some point in the future.

Writing was a popular choice – perhaps not surprising, as at least half of those who responded write in some form or another. Doing anything that allows for more time – to travel and spend time with family – also rated highly. One person said, ‘Collect original works of art, especially sculpture.’ I’d love to know who that was!

I found these results massively reassuring – if three in ten people from a (fairly) random sample are doing what they want already, then there is hope for the rest of us! Um, I think I’ve just given away my answer there…

Religion 

Although 30% of those who responded said they were Jewish, one person pointed out, ‘It’s more in the sense of identity rather than religion.’

When asked how they felt about religion, half of those who took part ticked the ‘I’m not sure’ option. While the overall feel was that it’s a good thing, two of those who responded feel that it is ‘a tool to control societies‘ and one said ‘It separates us as human beings living on one planet.’

Politics

This question gave the option of placing yourself on a scale from right to left. 40% described themselves as liberal, with the 50% placed themselves on the left – to varying degrees and just one person placed themselves *just* right of centre.

Voting

Two people admitted to not using their vote
– One because  they ‘don’t see the point’ and the other feels
guilty about it. There was just one comment left in this section:

‘I just think it’s a massive privilege and I wouldn’t dream of not voting no matter who the candidates were.’ 

Everyone else used their vote – most of the time
(40% always vote, 40% only sometimes)

Death penalty

A question about the death penalty saw an evenly split response, with 60% saying they do not beleive in it. Comments varied massively with many saying that they would be afraid of a miscarriage of justice. However, the comment I found the most interesting came from someone based in a country that does have the death penalty. This person said:‘There is a death penalty here and it’s been used just once. I think that’s about right.’

People and animals

How do you feel about animal testing?

A fairly mixed response to this question but the comments proved more revealing, with one person pointing out that ‘its more about how the animals are treated than the testing itself.’ Only one person said that they didn’t care about the animals.

Despite this, if it came down to the choice of killing an animal to save a loved one – 100% of those who took part said they would do so.

These responses left me wondering if anyone made the connection between the two questions…

Friends and Family

The ten people were asked: If someone you loved was in pain and asked you to help them end their life, would you do it?

This was always going to be a tough one. 80% said ‘It depends.’ 

Comments included: ‘I don’t think you can truly answer until you’re faced with it in reality, with the person looking at you and asking….’

‘I don’t know if I’d have it in me’

‘Not just about pain but about quality of life. Indignity can be just as hard to bear. Pain can be controlled.’

Regrets

When asked whether they had ‘ever done something – to another person – that they now regret, a massive 80% said ‘Yes,’ with one saying they regret that they have taken their anger out on others. Only one gave details of a painful regret that he or she still carries with them even though it wasn’t their fault. Most chose not to reveal their regrets, with one person saying, ‘Oh yes, many things… There’s no point in looking back now but if I had my time again I’d do things differently. I think I regret more the things I haven’t said/done than the things I have, though.’

Personally, I don’t mind sharing that I echo that last sentence. I am pretty sure that when my time comes, it’s the things I haven’t said or done that would haunt me, not those I have.

______________________________________________________

I found the survey results eye opening, especially as I know almost half of those who took part quite well. Some of the results were not so surprising – I expected most of those who responded to place themselves more to the left on the politics question. However, although I like to think I keep an open mind, some of the more detailed comments really made me think, and will continue to sit with me for a while no doubt. I now have more questions I want to ask so there may well be a follow up to this at some point in the future!