Footprints in the Sand

This short piece of fiction is part of a challenge put together by fellow blogger Frank from AFrankAngle – Check his post out!

On Footprints in the Sand.

Here is mine.

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Footprints in the Sand

The sun rose slowly in the horizon, its rays gradually strengthening to the music of waves crashing on the shore. Loud, then soft, then loud again, as the tide pulled the frothy waters away from the ascending sand-dunes, only for it to come scrambling back up again, reaching foamy fingers higher up the dunes each time.

The beach was empty, save for a few gulls calling dismally as their soft bodies were buffeted by the winds high in the sky.

The remains of yesterday were completely wiped away by the tides. It was fresh and new as though someone had washed the world and removed all human traces from the sand. No sandcastles, no left-behind toys, and all conversations that wafted on the gentle sea breeze had long been snatched away, sailing far over the seas to distant lands.

No, the beach was fresh this morning. Ready for a new horde of laughter and life. Lively in anticipation, bringing rose-tinted blue skies and soft, pillowy clouds scudding across as though in a hurry to be gone before the sun had completely reclaimed her power.

The beach was empty, for now, in these blissful early morning hours. The beach was empty, and restful, yet oddly restless.

The beach was empty, and yet a set of footprints made their way solidly across the dry sand just inches away from the water, pattering, forming, collapsing in on themselves all along the beach line and into the brightness in the distance, and there was nobody there to make the mark.

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Living in Crewe

Hello bloggers.

I have taken a short break from blogging. No, I haven’t. I just have not blogged for a while. I haven’t been busy, as such. Well, I suppose I have, in the grand scheme of things!

I have edited (finally) my husband’s 24,000 word dissertation. I even did some research on the history of cars, from the designs of Leonardo Da Vinci to the Model T created by Henry Ford. As a non car-enthusiast, I can honestly say I found it all immensely fascinating. What really stood out starkly for me was the revolution in all economic systems that was created by cars. Traffic control systems had to be created from scratch through trial and error, 60% of the deaths caused by careless driving and speeding, at a time when speeding was a concept nobody had ever heard of let alone contemplate, were children. The growth of the car industry was a tragic and nostalgic business. However it sure has saved us a LOT of time and hundreds of feet worth of horse manure! (I speak very literally here when I say hundreds of feet – in the year 1900 the horse population outnumbered the human population in New York city!).

I have also been working on my own dissertation, which is far less fascinating and a whole lot of nonsense, really. I am taking a creative analysis course, where I have to analyse creativity in language. All the theories are entirely subjective, so it’s a little tedious to hear somebody’s opinion on something and quote it as fact. In all honesty, I don’t think much of it at all. But shhh, don’t let my lecturers hear you say that! It would be a travesty and might potentially affect my final grade! The grade which determines the outcome of my degree! Huzzah! It could NOT come sooner, I tell you.

Britain is sunny, the dogs are barking cheerfully and sometimes suspiciously, and the small town I now live in is a piece of literal crap. *insert taped laughter*.

It’s called Crewe, in England, about an hour South-East of Manchester and two hours East of Liverpool and three and a half hours North-West of London. I could cycle the entire town in about fifty minutes, and walk it in around two hours. The people are remarkably racist and treat me as a second class citizen because of my olive complexion and my dark black hair. I know this because they give me English looks of disapproval (I do it myself so I KNOW) and they also make comments about ‘immigrants’ and ‘they shouldn’t let them in’. I am not an immigrant. My maternal grandmother was. So was my paternal grandmother. I am just a very diluted English person. Even if I was an immigrant, one oughtn’t to treat immigrants like that. It’s rude and unwarranted and plainly ignorant. Also inhumane. When I open my mouth they are often taken aback by the British accent. They are uneducated, pro-Brexit and against Islam, brown people, and immigration. They are also remarkably poor, and very uncivilised, often leaving their homes at 3am in their pyjamas (oftentimes without) shouting at each other and toppling bins over.

It isn’t all negative, though. The shop ladies are lovely, and my neighbours are a sweet Polish couple with a bubbly little blonde daughter. Once I was cycling on the road and my long cardigan got stuck in my chain (fashion over logic, in this case, ha ha!), so I had to stop and yank it out on the road. While I was thus occupied, a woman darted out of her house and asked if I was okay and did I need any help? I was mighty touched, thanking her for her kindness. Another time I got my chain caught (on nothing, this time), a couple of really shifty looking young men came up to me when I was trying to fix it. I panicked because they did look menacing, but one of them said, as they drew close, ‘You alright, love!? Need any help?’

I was pleasantly surprised by their helpful kindness. I suppose it isn’t all black and white, and there is some ying in this yang. Or was it yang in this ying?

 

The M1

Did my fourth motorway drive today. Honestly I was terrified. My hands were glued to the steering wheel, when I tried to move them some point after hitting the 90mph mark, they unstuck with a squelch. Ew.

It is good practise for me but I can never shake the fear I have hurtling down the M1. Sometimes I want to stay in the slow lane, behind chugging old folks creeping along at 60mph but the car I drive has a powerful engine and I can feel it wanting to go faster, complaining whenever I lift my foot off the accelerator. When I move onto the middle lane it leaps forward at the slightest touch, and it surges past other cars so effortlessly. It is wide and menacing; definitely a man’s car. I sound so sexist but it is how I feel.

It is my husband’s car, of course. He works in the automotive industry, and one of his special talents includes being able to tell exactly what kind of car is driving by just by looking at the front and rear lights. His knowledge somehow seeps out of him because now I can tell the difference between cars and their engines as they pass me on the motorway. I don’t know what to do with that knowledge because I honestly couldn’t care less. All I want is to buy a smaller car so I can hurtle down the motorway without developing sweat patches in my armpits!

Today I had an intrusive thought; as I sped down the motorway – I should say up because I was headed up North, I thought how magnificent and powerful the machine I was controlling was. My feet and hands pushing it and urging it along. A small twist of the arm of press of the foot and I would destroy the car and myself, too. It was an abhorrent thought. A part of me wanted to pull over and let my husband stress the way home, but I didn’t because I need to practise else I will never be free. Another part of me hankered after those autonomous cars that are currently in the works. With autonomous cars the pleasure of driving is eliminated, but oh, so will those mountainous piles of stress!

I love driving, I do, but those motorways are terrifying.

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Austen Pinkerton

 

Headphones

I was the angsty teenager in headphones. The black hoodie wearing, tattoo yearning girl with dark eyeliner and an air of moody misery. Sixteen years old and the world was against me.

Loud rock music blaring in my ears, adding fuel to my fragile emotions and intensifying my misery and self pity. I hid away in corners reading books and cycled for hours until my depressed feelings seeped into my aching muscles and I turned my depression into exercise.

Oh, poor, poor me, standing alone in the corridors, reading deeply in the library to avoid being seen with no friends.

One day a glamorous girl I was severely envious of came up to me in the library, in the spot where I always sat, reading a book.

‘Oh my God you’re such a loner!’ she said, her voice high and cheerful and her smile infectious. She nudged me.

‘Come hang out with me and the girls.’

I thought it was a pity ask. Our mums were friends.

‘No, it’s ok, I’m actually really into this book.’

Me with my oversized hoody and deeply emotional rock music. She tried several more times but I always thought it was her mother making her. Her mother knew nothing. I found this out years later.

I had no friends. For lack of trying, honestly. I lacked the try. I did not try. I expected them to come up to me and want to be my friend.

They did, as well. They actually did. They were curious, they asked me questions. I was shy. So I maintained a stony demeanour and answered shortly, avoiding eye contact and being blunt and dismissive.

Once a girl told me she felt I was ‘indifferent’. Like I thought I was above everybody else.

There was a boy in one of my classes who spent the whole lesson, every lesson, talking to me about everything he could think of. I enjoyed his chatter. I got first hand information on all the popular kids because he was down with the cool kids. In fact he was friends with everybody.

I was ‘indifferent’ to him too but he kept badgering me.

‘Why do you always sit alone in the library?’ he’d asked once, in between telling me about this girl he fancied like mad and who always sat next to me in Chemistry.

‘I like to,’ I told him, airily, ‘I don’t like you college lot. So I don’t wanna hang out with anybody.’

He laughed so loud that we both got told off and separated. Next class, he was at it again, asking me to talk to the girl he fancied for him. I didn’t. She didn’t like him, and had made that pretty clear to me many times beforehand, so I kept brushing him off.

We never hung out, despite his numerous invitations.

I never made friends there. Not real ones. I sat alone, and plugged my earphones in, and let the sad music wash me away to my own island of depression and misery, believing the world had given me a really bad deal and feeling dreary and lost because of it. I cried a lot at home, I told my mother I was miserable, and watched her heart ache for me because no mother wants to see their child struggle.

Sometimes those headphone days creep back on me, six years later. Making me feel lonely and depressed again. Reminding me of my sadness and my loss. Peering over my shoulder of a sunny day and stealing my joy, sucking it out of me until I am a melted heap on the floor. Self piteous idiot. Why should I let my own incompetence affect me now? I am not like I was then.

In hindsight, I should have gone with that girl. I should have asked those kids questions back. I should have sat with them when they called me. I should have made my own friends. I let fear rule me, you see.

I learnt something magnanimous from that experience. I learned that the world owes me nothing, it exists as it always has done and always will. It exists and it is up to me to get off my sorry, self piteous backside and explore it and take from it what is mine. The world will give me nothing. It has everything and it leaves it all there for us to take.

So, take! Take those damn headphones out with their manipulative music and clear your head and breath some fresh air and shake some hands. Smile a wide smile and ask people questions, and hell, bake them some cinnamon rolls. Indulge, enjoy, enter into other comfort zones, explore, learn, create! It’s up to you to make something of the world, because, as harsh as this sounds…

The world owes you nothing.

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Image source: Pinterest

Storytellers

Stories have been told to countless audiences throughout the centuries of human existence. We started off with oral storytelling, where the individuality of a teller was just as important as the telling of the story, where both of these aspects married with the dynamic nature of the story itself to produce something vivid and magical, to ensnare an audience and teach countless generations lessons pertaining to life, morals and their own rich history and ancestry.

Storytelling does not just limit itself to mystical tellers enrapturing an audience around a campfire or in an ancient tent, however. Stories can be found in the most common places, around a dinner table, at a sleepover, during a picnic, at a meet up, over a steaming cup of coffee, in a diary and even through a Facebook message! A story does not just have to be a well written, much drafted and severely edited piece of work. It can also be an event dressed up and communicated through several choice words, expressions and gestures, all interplaying to create a tale which is uniquely creative to the person telling it.

A story is a performance, no matter it does not strictly adhere to a play or an opera. A story is individual or collective artistry, working closely with the conventions of performance and forming something familiar, yet distinct in its own right. And that is what captures the attention.

Tradition is therefore a huge part of storytelling. Be it at a pantomime or around a dinner table, certain conventions and expectations of performance intertwine with the teller’s innovation. The key here is manipulation of convention – a good story turns expectations on its heel, and makes something new out of something expected. A good novel has an unexpected twist, or challenges conventions of creative writing by using unique language structure, or changes the face of a genre by interlacing two completely different ones. A good play is one that challenges the audience to think and bates the breath. A good family story is one told with enough wit to conjure laughter at the table, or with a hilarious display of gestures to endear, or with solemnity in an otherwise jovial demeanour. The ways are countless, and they all can be understood through the context in which they are told, and the audience must therefore be familiar with the traditions around these stories. A story from Shakespeare’s time would not, perhaps, be understood in the midst of the Arabia desert, since they are worlds apart and flourish under different cultures.

As to how stories and story telling affect one’s life, well, we are living and breathing results of such an experiment. Every single one of us has heard stories in the past, has perhaps been influenced by a story or has had a story change one’s mindset.

As a child I heard hundreds of stories, from books, from relatives, from the security guard of our building warning us not to do something because so and so did it and such and such happened, from my mother relating past experiences in her mesmerising way, short and concise, yet carrying deep meaning, from my grandmother adding snippets in conversation, rolling rotis out and telling me the servants used to let her roll the last roti because they didn’t want her to ruin the batch. From my paternal aunt telling me stories of my father as a child, helping me understand his character better. Stories have added to my life perspective about people, places and feelings. And accompanying the stories themselves, the ways of narration, the different accents and languages and gestures and fonts and structures through which they were told have had just as much impact as the stories themselves. Stories would not carry the way they were, for impact as much as they have been, were it not for storytellers and story weavers.

Research has shown that storytelling in very young children improves their cognitive abilities. Stories are important. They are life changing, and they add colour and insight to one’s existence. They are the small threads that connect people together and unite them under one cause or many, under one tradition or many, and make people feel as though they are part of something larger in this vast world. I think that is something everybody wants to feel, don’t you?

How have stories and storytelling impacted your life? 

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Reckless

Ploughing. Raking. Toiling. Burning, wiping, smearing.

Looking up through sweat soaked eyebrows and blinking roughly against the salty stinging  in his eyes. The heat hazed in the distance, the trees rustled, or seemed to, because they didn’t move and from where he stood, the sun scorching his scalp, they looked like a painting. Lined up at the top of the fields in the distance, the sky a lazy blue, not quite burgeoning into the deep colour of summer, almost as though the sun was so bright that the sky paled in comparison. So still. Was the world even real?

Midday. A bird chirped quietly somewhere nearby, too tired to break into song. A pickup truck trundled slowly down the dusty road just outside his garden. A face, browned and hardened from heat, stared at him, turning as the truck drove past. He stared back.

The truck slowed, it seemed, creeping along now. He gripped his shovel tighter, aware his fingers were slick with sweat under his gloves.

‘Hey,’ he said to the man. The truck was level with his now, and the man’s eyes were piercing. They reflected the light like a pair of sapphire beacons under the shadow of the truck.

The man said nothing, and the truck slowed to a halt.

‘Can I help you?’ he tried again, shifting to his other foot. He was aware of his own pulse in his neck. The world was so still around them, even the solitary bird nearby ceased to chirp.

Nothing.

Then the wheels spun viciously in the dusty road, and a brown cloud rose behind the car and it roared into being and started off, engine rattling loud enough that birds flew up into the sky in alarm. He watched as it sped off along the road, growing smaller in the distance.

As the dust settled, and the birds swooped back into the cool shadows once more, the heat of the day took over again, blanketing the world in hot, tired silence.

The trees in the distance didn’t move a branch. The summer haze lay languidly over the earth. The silence was vast, universal.

Was the world even real?

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Reaper

My attempt at a 100 word story.

Merrin Reaper was a charmer.

He belonged to the Hill people, renowned for their electric blue hair and waif figures. Five foot tall, and a brilliant smile. Everybody loved Merrin, even the big people down by the river. Too bulky to venture near the Hills for fear of trampling on those mines, they only ever dwelled on the banks.

Merrin tripped there daily. An ear for everyone, and a comforting shoulder for those in mourning. It was hinted at darkly that there was a dark shadow behind the small fellow.

Merrin knew better, of course. It was his brother, Grim.

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Blog Share

This one is an absolute gem from Frank, of A Frank Angle.

In this post Frank describes the calm walk on a beach, encapsulating beautifully the calming atmosphere walking has on the mind, body and feet! He also touches on the wandering thoughts of a peaceful mind. This is a beautiful read.

 

On A Beach Walk No.1

I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Never a run – very seldom a stroll – but a walk – a good exercise – and as we age, walking keep us moving. My wife and I walk at home. We walk on vacation. We walk on the ship’s deck when cruising. We like to walk.

As we walk, conversations can be short or long – the topics deep or shallow – important or trivial. In times of silence, my mind keeps going – to think – to ponder the world. Thinking is also good exercise. Like the body, the mind must keep moving as we get older….

Continue Reading: On A Beach Walk No.1

 

Blog Share

So, I noticed that some other bloggers do this, notably Diana from Myths of the Mirror. I thought it was a wonderful way to share some of my favourite posts by bloggers – to share the lovely work of other people.

SO, without further ado, this week’s share is a beautiful little piece written by Judy Dykstra-Brown – Scraps of Her. A lovely poem about the trail of glitter children leave in our lives.

Scraps of Her

 

She was the glitter
in our all-too-literal lives.
She left a trail of it,
our littlest fairy.
It was the dust of her,
like that perfume half
school glue and half strawberries…..

Continue reading: Scraps of Her.

It’s Way too Early for Easter Eggs.

We split half an easter egg. Would you be surprised to learn that I had my first ever Easter egg today? At 22 years old?

Also, do you ever forget how old you are? I keep thinking I am 23 years old but I am not, I am 22. Today the Marie Curie cancer research representative asked my age, and I actually had to stop and think about it. Oh no, I thought, am I 23? Or 22? I was born in 1994 so – I had to count on my fingers?! The representative sure did get a kick out of that. He told me I look really young for my age. I get that a lot. I have a baby face, unfortunately. 

Also, don’t be incredulous that the Easter eggs are out in the shops already. I tell you, once they got rid of the last of the Christmas stock, the Easter goodies came pouring in. As if we wouldn’t notice the blatant consumerism. The mini eggs appeared first. Innocently hanging next to egg timers – as if those two were related! But mini eggs are delicious, so I won’t say no to those. But the END OF JANUARY!? When they know VERY well that Easter is at the end of March. And then two weeks ago they started clearing the ‘Seasonal’ shelves – rows upon rows of empty shelves which – suddenly –  overnight, were stocked FULL of Easter eggs! Cadbury, Maltesers, Snickers, After Eights, Lindt, Mars, Kinder, Barbie, Bob the Builder (HOW DOES BOB THE BUILDER HAVE A FREAKING EASTER EGG?!), Galaxy, Smarties, you name it!

We split a Cadbury Mini Egg Easter egg. It was sickening and chocolatey. I don’t know what all the hype about Easter eggs is, after all. I’d rather just have a few mini eggs to satiate my chocolate cravings.

Also I can’t believe that I have never had an Easter egg before. I guess my family just aren’t Easter egg-y people.

Do you like Easter eggs?