12th January: Fight

Challenge: Dialogue based.

‘Who’s fightin’?’

‘A fight? Where!’

‘No one’s fighting, go back to bed.’

‘There’s a fight?’

‘Now look! You’ve gone and woke the whole house.’

‘Sorry mum, but I heard someone say there was a fight.’

‘It’s nothing, go back to bed.’

‘Wos it Da? Has he ‘ad a fight at work?’

‘Don’t be stupid Carol.’

‘But I wanna know who’s fightin’. If George an’ Arnie get’s to know-‘

‘No one get’s to know. Bed. All of you.’

‘Thanks Carol. You’ve woke us all up and there isn’t even a fight.’

‘I’m tellin’ you, I ‘eard mum on the phone an’ she said there ‘ad been an awful fight.’

‘Probably talking about the news.’

‘Well, she’s not gonna tell us, is she?’

‘Might have told me if Carol hadn’t butted in!’

‘Don’t be stupid. She never tells us nothin’

‘Bed! Don’t make me come up there!’

‘Night Mum!’

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12th January: Fight

Day 5: Pet

Nicole had gotten Marcy for Christmas. She had was a tiny golden cocker spaniel, with ears too big for her head and a tail that moved a mile a minute. The moment Nicole opened the large cardboard box she had been in love. Marcy was everything you could want in a dog; intelligent, brave and playful. Nicole spent hours training her, trying to teach her to ‘Sit!’, ‘Stay!’ and ‘Play Dead!’

‘Bang!’ Nicole pretended to shoot at Marcy, who dropped to the floor and rolled onto her back, tongue lolling out. The only thing that ruined the illusion was the wagging tail.

Nicole taught her all sorts of tricks, and she wasn’t ashamed to say that Marcy was her best friend. Years later when Nicole had to move away for university she cried. Marcy cried too, her parents told her, every night for several days. Every holiday Nicole would come back and spend all her time making it up to Marcy. Sometimes, even though she wasn’t allowed, her parents would sneak Marcy into her dorm room. Her housemates would spoilt the little golden dog, feeding her biscuits when Nicole wasn’t looking. Marcy loved every second of it.

What she loved even more was when Nicole moved into her own home in second year and Marcy was finally allowed to join her. To Nicole it made all the difference, having her furry friend to help ease the stress of exams. Her classmates even encouraged her to bring Marcy to study sessions or would come around to Nicole’s house for a good long cuddle.

After university Marcy moved with Nicole again, this time to a new job with longer hours. But every night they would go for a long walk and then play or cuddle. Marcy liked this life, just the two of them together. Yet, even this didn’t last for soon she was introduced to Josh. Marcy didn’t like Josh.

To Nicole it seemed like Marcy just didn’t like the new guy in her life. Maybe it was jealousy of her time or that Josh got Marcy’s spot on the couch. Nicole just didn’t know, but when it came down to Josh or Marcy there was no choice to make. Josh left rather quickly.

Marcy liked Michael. She even came to him for snacks or to hide behind him when Nicole was telling her off. Marcy was getting old now, so more and more she was putting her trust into Michael to look after Nicole. She knew she had chosen right when Michael found a golden ring the same shade as Marcy’s fur.

Nicole knew as she watched Marcy huff as she climbed up onto Michael’s knee that Marcy had given her blessing, and that was all Nicole needed.

Day 5: Pet

Day 3: Fire

Hell was always warm. It was a fact. Just the way things were done. Demons compared it to human sayings like, ‘The sky is blue.’ or ‘Water is wet.’ One of those things that everyone notices but no one comments on. They only strange thing about Hell being warm was that there was no visible sign of how the heat was generated; no radiators or fires, no electricity or some kind of friction. In fact considering the damp stone walls that made up every room, and the deep cavernous depths that housed the condemned souls Hell should have been positively arctic (another human saying meaning very cold).

The only fire in the entirety of Hell was in Lucifer’s throne room. And boy, was it big. The fireplace itself took up the entirety of the wall on the right, there were two mantle pieces. The first one was at just the right height for Lucifer to rest his arm on it. In reality it was nothing more than a decorative shelf spanning the front of the fireplace, but no one pointed that out. He had placed a large clock in the centre and had put pictures of Persephone, his late wife, on one side and Methalis, his son on the other. Ceris, his daughter, was very carefully missing from every photo. During the festive season he decorated it with glittered twigs and stolen angel feathers.

The real mantle piece stood some 12 feet higher, only a little taller than the flames could reach. it was cared from a black marble with red veins, and had faces twisted in agony carved into it, matched with writhing bodies and demons with sharp implements and realistic flames. Lucifer liked to brag that this father had carved it himself, making it a family heirloom to passed through the generations of the rulers of Hell. However Ceris had found a receipt from a marble carver in Greece. The poor human had then checked himself into a hospital for the mentally ill and Ceris had decided it was best not to tell Lucifer, lest he get it into his head to visit the poor man.

Anyway, humans had once theorised that Hell was so warm because each level brought you closer to the centre of the Earth. They thought that the heat from the molten core rose straight through Hell, burning the souls of the damned as it passed. This was a very good theory, and indeed it was wonderfully dramatic. Methalis was very sure that should his father ever hear of this the next time he visited Hell would be lit by an eerie red light, have towering pillars of steam and random bursts of fire, all topped off with the smell of singed hair. It was, then, very understandable why Methalis and Ceris had gone to great lengths to ensure that Lucifer never even heard of the human called Dante, never mind had the opportunity to read his works.

The truth was that while Hell was very warm, it just so happened that it could get chilly too, especially when it’s half 3 in the morning and you get out of bed to go to the toilet. Simply because it is a universal rule that everywhere is cold at half 3 in the morning as by then the heating has turned off, as it does in every house. For while Hell was in it’s own special dimension and it served as a rather unique purpose to very naughty humans and their eternal souls, it was nothing more than a house. it just so happened to have a very large fireplace and a bad reputation.

Day 3: Fire

Day 2: Resolution

She had been working on it for weeks; planning, rewriting, reshaping until finally it was ready. A single piece of paper, plain white, no lines or marks except from the neat black of her pen. it was her secret wish.

With an almost reverent manner, she folded it carefully until it was a small square. then she tucked it into her money box. It was the first thing she had ever put in it. Soon, there would be a collection of notes and noisy coins. But for now, it was just the lonely square of paper.

By this time next year it would be full. this time next year she would be realising her dreams. then there would be no one to stop her, and nothing to get in her way. This was the promise she was making to herself.

That tiny piece of paper held her fondest dream. Every day she added something to the money box. Every day until one day when she didn’t come home at all.

Weeks later her mother found the money box, and she took it to the living room, and added to it every day. She thought nothing about it, had no idea about the little square of paper sitting at the bottom. To her it was nothing more than a precious reminder. Soon the money box was full, and her mother had to open it. Out fell coins, notes and a single square of white paper.

Her fondest dream, never realised.

Day 2: Resolution

Jumbled Words.

A note: I’m writing this just as a train of thought. I had some bad news today. That’s what this is about, it might not make sense, it might make perfect sense. It might be exactly what you’re feeling right now, it might not be. But if you do take the time to read it, I hope it does something for you, even if it just wastes five minutes of your time.

In the end, there were no jumbled words. No tilting world or shifting view of perspective. No tears either, but they would come.

It’s always supposed to happen that bad news hits you like a train. You collapse, you sob, maybe you even punch something. Or maybe you’re stoic, firm shoulder and head held high, the only outward sign; a clenching fist.

In real life, there’s all sorts of actions and reactions. You smile, you cry, you wait until you get home and then your curl in a ball around the cat and stare at the TV for five hours. Movies never get it right because there are so many ways to say something with actions.

Bad news always comes with one thing. Words. A sympathetic voice, a hand on your shoulder, a ‘is there anyone we can call?’

Not this time.

The worst part is when you knew. The doctor is just confirming what your body has already known. That gut feeling when you open the door and the police are there, hat in hand. You answer the phone and you already know what they’re going to say.

There are so many signs in this world, many of them that we don’t even know we’re reading, from other people, from the universe itself.

Bad news is just jumbled words. And sometimes, you’ve already worked out the meaning.

Jumbled Words.

Excerpt

It had to be a dream; not because his dead mother was setting out dinner; nor because his father was sat at the table, red faced and laughing like he had never seen before; not even because his sister was sat with him, smiling happily. Really it was a dream because it was sunny. Long shadows streached across the dark wood floor, light spilling in through the double doors at the back of the room. The fresh yellow paint lit the kitchen, his family stood out against it like a pop up Christmas card.
He wanted to freeze this moment. He wanted to stop time and drink it all in. The family he had never had.

His mother had died when he was eleven, his sister seven. For a reason he had never understood his father had blamed his sister, and her life was full of abuse and misery since then. He was powerless to stop it.
In the years that had past he had learnt how to set bones, soothe bruises and bandage cuts, but he couldn’t learn how to mend a broken heart. She didn’t talk about it but he knew that their mother was fading from her mind. If she had ever known a kind word from their father it had long since been forgotten, only terror and anger remained.
He escaped it all because he would take the crown. In his fathers eyes he could do no wrong, until he abdicated.

As the dream continued he watched his father lean towards his sister and whisper something to her. It gained him a light smack from his wife and playful teasing. He smiled at his sister’s laughter. She wouldn’t be a little girl by now, she would be twenty in June. He frowned, a bitter taste on his tongue. He wondererd if she was even alive, if his father had enough restraint not to kill the only heir he had left

He watched the dream unfurl. For it could only be a dream. It was never sunny here, in his cell, his prison, his punishment.

His banishment.

Excerpt

Q is for Quokka

Q

The Quokka is known as the happiest animal on earth. So I thought I’d try and do something about happiness, to keep myself going with the A to Z challenge!

The setting sun cast long shadows across the ground. In the deeper grass where Kumo lay it was already dark, but she could see perfectly fine, in fact now was the time that she and her family began moving. All around her she could hear the stirrings of her family. The afternoon sun had kept them warm and drowsy but now their stomachs rumbled.

The air was soon filled with their chatter and the rustle of the grass as the sped through their tunnels. This was Kumo’s favourite time of day. This was when she felt truly happy, immersed in the sounds and smells of her family, someone always within her sight line as they hunted together. She smiled to herself, leaping forward.

One day soon it would be her turn to start a family. Already she knew that she was nearing the age, maybe this summer she would have her own baby to look after, just as her sisters around her had done. Just the sounds of laughter ringing out made her excited for the day when she would look around at her own family group and feel proud.

The same sense of pride Gran Gran exuded every time Kumo saw her. Yes, nothing would make her happier than her own family.

Q is for Quokka