Photo taken on my way to Writing group. Proving I'm dotty!
I’ve recently had the pleasure of attending a writing group which has been an inspiration and introduced me to new friends. It started as a favour to a mate really but I ended up really enjoying myself. It was really fun to write completely out of my comfort zone. Okay, erotica might not be comfortable for many to write but after 12 years it’s like second nature to me.
So I thought today, to celebrate my last day at Writing group (It meets on the other side of the city and as much as I love it, it’s a long way to go) I thought I’d share my collected works inspired by the dreaded pot of doom (a lucky dip of story prompts) and various writing exercises. Hang on tight people, it’s going to get eclectic in here!
The Girl with the Yellow Ribbon
It stays with you, life, love, longing. No matter what you do, how far you go, how you change.
She haunts my dreams, the girl with the yellow ribbon in her hair.
She runs through green grass, arms flung wide, eyes sparkling with mirth and the yellow ribbon trailing behind her, golden curls bouncing on her shoulders below. Sometimes I hear her laugh, sometimes the scene is silent but I always wake up with a longing deep in my soul which meditation only masks but doesn’t take away.
I can sit for hours, cross legged, eyes closed, letting the elements whirl around me. Here, on my island. No one will disturb me. There is no one else here. Wildlife will carry on regardless around me. Bees buzz, birds sing. Sometimes a bug will walk over me instead of around, it doesn’t move me. I centre myself. Wiping away pain, fear, regret to find the inner sanctuary of peace.
Some days I find it within a few short hours, other days I sit and I sit and the agitation remains. On those days I do the hard, physical work I need to keep me alive, here on my island away from anyone. I live in a cave, my heat source and my oven is the fire I make up each night. I eat only what I can forage or what kindly fishermen leave for me when they want a big catch.
It is strange the human need to do something, to find something to put their hope in when all hope is lost. I can’t encourage fish into nets, nor would I want to but the men of the sea bring me supplies because when all hope is gone they can use it as a practical prayer to a God they barely believe in.
But just in case, they do it. And if the big catch comes, no matter when, they remember the food they left for me, the little monk on the island and they connect their act of kindness to a random act of the sea, of life, of God. It works for them, it works for me. It is the way of things.
As is the dream. Every night I see her, blue eyes sparkling, mouth wide with a smile, dancing across the grass.
Sometimes I only glimpse her from the back. The yellow ribbon dancing, standing out from the corn coloured strands of flowing hair. Some nights I’m chasing her, some nights I’m held still, I can’t move, some nights I call to her, hold out my arms and beg her to come to me. She never does.
I had a life before the island, filled with success, abundant excess, all I could buy, all I could consume, all I could take. More was my desire, more was my need, more was what I strived for but I could never have what I really wanted. A child.
Barren, I tried everything to conceive but all my wealth was not enough. All my hope, all my prayer, all my fervent wishing. None of it worked and when my life became so full of things I got bored. I gambled, drank and abused my body. It wasn’t giving me the one thing I wanted so I filled it with hate until the hate spilled over and out into the world. No friends, no family left, I was alone.
I tried all the religions, looking for the answer. I never found it, not really. But in Buddhism I found myself. I found the strength to let go. To love me. To change. My path led me to this. An island bought with immense wealth but lived upon in poverty. I live to survive and survive to live and my soul finds rest.
Except at night, when she haunts me, the girl with the yellow ribbon in her hair, the child I can never have.
Everything Must Go
Everything must go.
All you think, all you know
just perceptions in the wind,
lightly to your conscious pinned.
Veiling like swirling snow,
waves battering to and fro,
weeds choke plants that grow.
Everything must go.
All you want, all you need.
Leave greedy desire,
cast into consuming fire.
Scatter them like seed.
Bending like a reed,
the burning ache to succeed.
Everything must go.
All you covet, all you crave,
only holds you back,
You just see lack.
Don’t rant and rave,
don’t be boring and behave.
Just be brave.
Let everything you know, go.
And find peace.
The Conman, his lover and the Goldfish
Chrissy flutters long lashes and passes him a bag containing an orange fish. The man grins, cheeks flushed red and wishes goodbye to the centre of her cleavage.
“You were a little coy,” her lover tutted as the bell on the door jangled, “you could have sold him more carp.”
I’ve got you under my skin
The echoes of memories flood back. I try my hardest to keep them under control or they’ll take over and I’ll end up the crazy old woman who talks to thin air and keeps a jar of ashes on my dining room table. Nope, I’m not going to be that person, my love.
We danced to that song (the Frank Sinatra version) when it was fresh and we were young, oh so young. I knew from the moment you put your arms around my waist that I loved you. It was like a bolt from heaven and when we kissed that just sealed the deal. Your lips were so gentle and so strong and I held onto your wide, masculine shoulders and let myself fall deeper in love with you.
We had our ups and downs of course, there was that Bitch Katie Summer who was desperate to get her claws in her. You were a good man with a suit and a good office clerks wage and she wanted out of the factory, she didn’t want you really, just wanted your status and your job. I don’t recall that day with much fondness just a certain satisfaction in the sting left in my palm once I cracked her round the face with it. She left you alone from that moment, scared that I’d curl up a fist the next time I heard her talking about you with such sordid, vulgar intent.
Only I could do that. I hear the words’ reverberation on the air, the whispered sweet nothings of the night we consummated our marriage to the raunchy and rude demands that came as we grew to know each other’s particulars. Our lives gently overlapped, you finished my thoughts let alone my sentences. You had your chores, I had mine. You had your joys, I had mine. You had your friends, I had mine. But I was always the happiest when I was with you, my other half.
I’m not thinking about the end, no, no. I did enough of that at the time. No, I remember you the way we met, laughing easily, smiling widely and taking care of me. Or how you were that night of our Ruby Wedding where we danced again to our song and made the children and their kids feel queasy with the public affection. Ah, those were the days, my love, those were the days that echo in my heart.
I’ve got you deep in the heart of me,
So deep in my heart that you’re really a part of me.
I’ve got you under my skin.
Save a space for me in Heaven, my love, I’ll be there soon. I can’t wait. I’m too old now, my knees don’t work and my ears don’t hear and I feel lost and confused without you. I know you’re just in the other room waiting for me, I’ll be there soon, my love, I’ll be there soon.
From Here to Maternity
From here to maternity seems such a long way,
I'm trying and trying each and every day.
My husband is lagging,
His ardor is sagging,
But we'll make love tonight come what may.
An invite back then was all he'd need,
Before eagerly sowing his seed.
Now I must ask,
don stillettoes and latex mask
If I want trouser snake to be freed.
Having sex used to be fun,
not so much now I really want a bun
in my oven.
All the good lovin'
Comes out a bit over done.
It'll be worth each and every try,
when we first hear our baby cry.
He'll dote on the kid,
Be glad that he did
Not let the opportunity pass by.
From here to maternity isn't so far
We don't need no help, thank you, ta,
We'll keep copulating
Continue the mating
Until I'm filled with a new little star.
Dear Pen Pal,
It was an umbrella, a simple umbrella but it turned my life around.
If I said it hadn’t been a good week, that’d be an understatement.
I always stand out from the crowd, ripped jeans, stretched ear, pastel pink hair and the audacity to have been born a black man too. Mostly it makes no difference, people might stare now and then but I am fabulous, darling so I don’t let it get to me. But the other day when I was bullied and abused whilst waiting for the bus I went home in tears.
“Good God, mate, look at that!”
Those words will haunt me for the rest of my life.
“An example of all what is wrong with this country in one disgusting package.”
They weren’t drunk, they weren’t high, they were rude. I don’t like recalling the incident. They called me names, asked me questions, tried to pressgang the others waiting at the stop to join their side. Some did, others stayed silent but I fought my battle alone. And they hit me. Not with any force, not in a way that left bruises on anything but my soul but they pushed me down, pulled my hair and only stopped when the bus arrived. No one asked me if I was okay, no one stopped to offer me a hand or a word or anything.
I picked myself up, brushed myself down and stood in the rain for the next bus.
But the damage was done. I was shaky, sad, scared to leave the house. Each day was a battle with myself to just do what I had to do. Because those moments of hate, those words of disgust had taken control of me.
Then today, it was raining. It’s Manchester, so that’s not so surprising. But it was full on lashing down and as the summer sun had been shining when I went into work for my afternoon shift I hadn’t thought to wear a coat. So I left the café at six o’clock with nothing but my work shirt and trousers and lingered in the porch in vain hopes that the deluge would stop. I felt in that moment like the weather was a reflection of my life.
Depressing, cold, harsh. Sunshine lost.
“Here you go, mate,” a voice broke through my melancholic wonderings.
I looked up, startled.
“I’ve got my mac, I don’t need it. You take it.”
There was nothing that stood out about the guy, but his smile. Genuine and large.
“Are you sure?” I asked and the stranger nodded.
“Oh, aye. You need it more than me.”
And with that he pressed the bright red brolly into my hand, pulled his hood tighter and walked on.
“Thanks, mate!” I yelled after him, he turned a hand and waved a reply but didn’t stop to look back.
I walked to the bus stop, sheltered by my new red umbrella and smiled all the way. My heart lighter than it had been for days, my eyes damp with tears of gratitude buoyed along by the generosity of someone I would never really know.
As I walked that short distance, the hate lost control and love took the lead.
I might not always carry an umbrella, but I will look for those in need and offer that kindness that changed my life today to others. That is the power of good, of light, of positivity.
It’s the little things that make a difference.
I hope that these words will inspire you too, my friend, so the love will spread to the other side of the world.
Just Before by Victoria Blisse
My heart beats, dull and throbbing, soundless to him but oppressively deafening to me. The dreariness of depression flits with elation, as I look for a sign in the insufferable gloom of self-doubt that it will happen.
Alone in front of him, the terrible chasm between us is mere centimetres in reality but I feel a sickening need pulling in the dark depths of my desolate, rolling stomach. Leaves of arousal fall in a dark shroud of melancholy, like a wind shaken tree in autumn, the stirrings low and hideous. Shadowy and uncertain, which way does the gale blow? Will it drop the leaves to sit decayed and rank in my soul forever or will the iciness of the unnerved storm blow them into him?
The seconds stretch out tedious, tense, thick. The dreary monotony of time ticking on, torturing me in the moments just before our very first kiss.
This piece was created by taking the semantic fields from an extract of The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe and giving them a positive twist.
Dull, dark, soundless, autumn, oppressively, low, alone, dreary, melancholy, insufferable, gloom, desolate, terrible, decayed, rank, depression, hideous, iciness, sickening, dreariness, unnerved, shadowy
And one more, which is dark and sad...so you've been warned!
No Words Left
There was always something to say. From that moment we met, yelling over the too loud music in that student dive. I couldn’t look away from your eyes and you tried really hard to look into mine and not into my brazenly bared chest.
On the first date, sharing a pizza and sipping on coke. When we talked about all the things we loved and found out things we had in common. Aversion to fruity pizza toppings, a need to straighten skewed pictures on the wall. Yes, even when in a public restaurant and you had to lean over other diners to do so. We both adored all things horror, especially films and that led to our second date where we got in trouble for talking over the movie. The old couple in front weren’t much happier when we snogged our way through the rest of it, either.
We didn’t stop talking, not even that first night we slept together, when you told me in detail how beautiful I was, how soft I felt and how much you loved me. We laid in bed, tangled limbs, setting the world to rights, seeing a future with us in our dream careers, with a big house, several children and even more dogs. Greyhounds, our agreed favourite.
On our wedding day, we wrote our own vows, read them with hesitant voices, looking between sheets of paper and each other’s faces. We smiled, kissed, laughed and danced. Ate cake and called each other Mr and Mrs for the next week, sipping cocktails on our honeymoon.
Our words changed when we moved in together, they got more practical. We became experts in DIY, you taught me how to unblock the sink and we talked and talked until we could afford our first TV.
We weren’t expecting our first child, we did more than just talk in our TVless days and apparently I wasn’t as careful taking my pill as I should have been but we painted her a nursery, bought her all she needed and loved her, oh how we loved her. There was no way to know she wouldn’t grow up, that she’d not even see a full month of life on this earth. When there was a break in the flood of grief filled tears we talked and talked about why and how and we couldn’t understand. I’ll never understand.
You bought me a puppy and I remembered how to smile, how to live, how to survive with a hole in my heart. When you were working, long hours, late nights, I snuggled with my hound and told him all the things I longed to tell you. But you weren’t there.
I went back to work, to get away from the silence by talking all day, trying hard to sell to abrupt, irritated voices over the phone. Struggling to meet sales targets, struggling to find normality in a world of madness where a mother had no daughter and it seemed everyone expected her just to deal with that. Even you.
I didn’t even have my dog to talk to any more. He’d gotten out, chased a neighbour’s cat into the middle of the road and the car couldn’t stop. I blamed you for that even though I wasn’t sure it was you who hadn’t turned the key. It might have been me.
The talking became shouting as we became too tired to even try any more. And trying became too difficult as every month the pregnancy test stubbornly said no. Each one bringing back the grief of losing her. At first you would hold me, talk to me, tell me it was all going to be fine. Then you began to avoid me at that time, not wanting to deal with yet another breakdown. Not wanting to deal with me.
Discussions turned into rows. You wanted to change the nursery into a study, so we could both work towards the dream careers we wanted. I couldn’t believe you were so quick to remove the only connection we had to our baby. I wondered how you could be so uncaring and you wondered how I couldn’t want to move on.
I wanted us to go to couples therapy and you said we should talk to each other instead of talking about each other to a shrink. You talked about me to your mates at the pub and I talked about you to myself. You went out more and more, I stayed in, signed off work by the doctor, wanting to hide away. To not feel, to not care, to not fight.
And then you told me you were leaving. You packed your bags. I asked why, I begged you to stay. I promised you I would change, that I’d move on. I said that I didn’t want you to go. I’d do anything to preserve our relationship.
You said it was too late for that. Our relationship was broken beyond repair. You couldn’t live in the past anymore with me. You told me you had to move on. That you had moved on.
You had found someone else.
Someone who’d listened to you talk.
Someone you had a future with.
I screamed, I yelled, I threw a vase at you.
You walked out of the door.
Several months later you came back. A chance to talk, to arrange and make things work.
I cried, I pleaded. I told you I’d forgive you, that I’d take you back but I didn’t want it to end this way. Taking you to the second bedroom I showed you that the nursery had gone. It was an empty room with cream walls. A blank new canvas.
You shook your head and left me with the paperwork.
Sitting, staring at the space I need to fill with my name, the signature that will destroy the love that we shared.
No words left.
A bottle of vodka.
A strip of pills.
And a tiny, baby bootee.