Writing Purples

I am supposed to be writing for myself this month but there are six days (about) left and I only have ten thousand words of the fifty thousand minimum limit. I shall give up without much of a fuss this month And hope for the best in the next month I set aside for some writing.

With cheer I say, I do believe I have once again stumbled upon the Writing Blues! Everything seems to come to a juddering halt before the brick wall of discouragement. None of my characters will adhere to my commands. They have wilful souls of their own, and oddly, all seem to be biased towards the defiant, sullen demeanor. This will not do at all, because they can’t all monopolise the brooding inclination. They can’t all have the same damn personality!

These aren’t blues, though, so much as purples. This is not the muffled thump of me falling into a pit of writing misery. This is the tremulous hanging in the airless space between inspiration and avolition. Between red and blue. In purple.

That Guy (On 9 Years)

I have to write a post about it because I do every year.

Even though I don’t particularly feel like writing it this year.

But nine years ago today I married this guy. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. Dancing on a rainbow. Sunshine in my eyes. He felt like the luckiest guy in the world too. He better have. He is still the luckiest guy in the world.

But yes.

Begrudgingly I say it today, I am very lucky still to be married to this guy. Who drives me up the wall, but in the same breath makes me so joyful. If anybody on earth can make me laugh when I am in a bad mood, it’s him.

My daughter has his smile.

She smiles with her entire face. Her dimples dance in and out of her gorgeous cheeks and her eyes could light the entire world. Her teeth flash in a way that is so unique to her, to him, and I promise you, when she smiles, your heart will move an inch to the right.

I see it all the time. Even strangers are not immune to her smile.

And she gets it from her Dad.

When we first began ‘courting’, I wasn’t too sure about this guy. I was impressed by his biceps, I will admit that. He smelled so good too. But I knew it would take more than an attractive body and face to make a relationship strong.

And one day he sat on the sofa adjacent to me, and we were talking about this that and the other. I said something. And he smiled. It was a small smile at first, but then his entire face lit up. I saw dimples where I had never seen them before. His eyes drew me right in. It moved me in ways I had never been moved before.

That smile could move mountains, I thought.

It’s a special smile, I can only get it out of him rarely, and not many people can coax that particular smile from him.

Our daughter, though? She graces me with his special smile every day, multiple times a day.

So I am thankful for the gift of him, his smile, and the joy that he has passed on to the next generation.

Even though, right now, he is THAT guy to me, because I am upset with him. (I say this with a smile, marriage is full of ups and downs. I still love THAT guy.)

Image Credit

A Quiet Life

What’s a quiet life, to you?

If the first thought that sprung to your mind is … a comfortable retirement?

Comfortable retirement. Dancing in the living room. Through the dining room. Tap on the shoulder in the kitchen, lit only by a lamp and the shadows of the plants behind his back moving as they sway gently across the hall. Lines deepening on faces, death followed by new life. Leaves falling and blooming again. Piercing cries in the night, but this time they belong to the generation below their progeny so they sleep a little deeper. Urgency no longer beckons them in their dreams, it does not sit on their shoulders anymore and they do not hear it when they are in the shower. Piercing cries. Precious baby they can love without shackles.

What is a quiet life… to you?

Oh, you there. Yes you. I see it in your eyes.

Your quiet life is still. Even in the chaos there is a dark stillness that shrouds your heart as you wander slowly through a crowded hall with two beautiful loves clinging to your skirts, and you see those who are like you, but not like you, and you feel on the fringes again.

Urgency calls you.

It’s a silent kitchen is a quiet life.

Voiceless.

Echo.

Empty buildings, the sun setting and slanting through the dusty glass and the road outside is still, dry, dust pooling on the pavements because..

Nobody calls you.

You grow alone and you may die alone.

That’s a quiet life.

And there is frustration because you have always felt this deep chasm of loneliness. And you thought it would go away. In your teens you waited. In your twenties you yearned. And you approach 30 and it’s banging on your door this desolation and it won’t go away.

You tell yourself, your mother, your people.. you tell them you’re cosy in this cocoon of isolation.

But you aren’t.

You aren’t.

You worry this will seep through the invisible gossamer veil that hangs delicately between you and your children, you worry it will shroud them too like a clingy web that won’t go away.

You don’t want this sadness to be theirs. This loneliness to ache in their chest. Their precious hopeful faces.

You don’t want a quiet life for them.

So you aren’t. Cosy. Happy. Content.

What is your quiet life?

Were Their Faces Dirty?

I really like to look at old buildings as I sit in the modern day life of hustle and bustle and minds sucked into a cloud of technological machinery grating against each other.

The clock tower, with its ancient clock, still ticking away one hundred and fifty years after some hands carefully welded it all together. Single pane windows underneath a plaque set in bricks which reads ‘AD 1859’ and I think, who peered out of those windows in 1860? Who walked the streets I now walk? I think of how they were dressed and what they could possibly have thought about, and whether they wore hats and then pssshh, of course they wore hats.

They all dressed well back in those days, or at least we like to think they did. Were their faces dirty, though?

The clocktower I was looking at today, as I sat having a chocolate chip shortbread biscuit in Chatwins, the bakery opposite this Market Hall in Sandbach, Cheshire. It did not look like this today, as this photo was taken in the summer 🙂

Hug

“Do you want a hug?” I asked my sister.

We don’t do affection. At all. Ever.

“She doesn’t,” my mum said, when my sister didn’t answer me.

I was at the door, leaving home to go back to my home after the christmas-new year break.

“Ahh, I think she does,’ and I went to hug her.

“I’m just awkward,” she murmured into my shoulder, so I gave her an extra squeeze for good measure.

My family do not show affection. It’s clumsy, awkward, strange.

Once my sister was in a state of Terrible Hurt. She was crying alone in her bedroom, in her bed, under a pile of clothes and blankets. Normally we are catty with each other, but that one time I went into her dorm room, climbed into bed with her and held her while she cried.

‘Go away” she said in the end, sniffling.

I didn’t go away, and she didn’t ask me to again.

I don’t know why it’s strange and weird and awkward to give my family affection, when I do it so freely with my children and husband. With my cousins and aunts. With my friends.

Why is it so hard?

I love them all so fiercely.

So why is it so hard?

Sandstorm

It was the darkest, coldest night of the year, she felt, as she stole her way out of the side door and into the blackness outside six months ago. The world was alive, still. Cars and lights and surges of people milling around malls and shopping centres like the sun was not going to rise in 3 hours.

It was the meanest, cruellest thing, she said as she ate two scoops of chocolate ice cream.

It was the harshest storm, she whispered, as she put the coats away in the cupboard.

The floors were polished to a shine. Gleaming in the dark. When the sun rose she could see her reflection in them. Her face distorted, blurry, somebody else.

The windows were dusty, so she got her cloth and slapped at them until the sand fell in little heaps on the windowsill. Then she dampened her cloth and smeared the windows so they became muddy. She could no longer peer out of them at the sand storm outside.

‘Perhaps it is for the better, perhaps seeing the storm is worse.’

There was food they had left on the table. Bits of rice by empty plates. Clumped with leftover sauce, some yogurt smeared on the side of the plate. Glasses covered in greasy fingerprints. The dim light that fills the room after a day of torrid heat, after the sun is covered by sand dunes, yellow world, dust up nostrils, clogging all the openings into the house. And when you step outside you have to cover your face. Wrap a scarf around your head, over your nose, only your eyes visible. Like a face veil.

And silence.

I don’t think you realise this, but sandstorms are silent.

After the initial gust of wind and wailing currents, there is only silence.

And a fog of dust.

Don’t stay out too long, you shall wheeze.

It was the coldest, harshest winter.

But the summers are long and arduous. And mountains of dust engulf the city every other week.

Phone Call

“You have to dial 9 before you call an external number,’ he said to her when she picked up the receiver. She looked right at him, piercing black glare right into his hazel ones. He did not blink, glared right back at her. She knitted her brows, he looked at the receiver then at her again as an alarming beeping sound began to play through the earpeice – loud yet distant.

She slammed it down so it clattered, not quite slotting into its correct position, and flounced away.

‘Fine,’ he called after her, ‘Fine. I will do it myself, as I always do.’

He pressed the correct sequence of buttons, held the receiver to his ear and waited. She waited outside the door, which was slightly ajar.

‘Yes, hello.’ he said firmly, ‘It’s me.’

A pause.

‘Yes, she was.’

Another pause.

‘Do you really expect me to believe it works like that? I have been up from dawn doing these things.’

Long pause.

‘The papers will not write themselves, is all I will say. She has been dreaming of this day for three years. She maintains it was three hundred but she was always marvellous with hyperbole.’

He shifted impatiently from foot to foot.

‘Now listen here, Francine. Listen to me…’

He gasped.

‘You will not!!’

He jumped.

‘I forbid it!’

He put his hand to his forehead, and began to pace, picking the phone up and taking it with him. He stopped short when the wire became taut, and turned back on himself, staring at the ceiling and rolling his eyes.

‘Listen to me Francine. This has gone on for far too long. You will remove yourself immediately from that seat so that my wife may sit. And I WILL complete the papers and send them off. If you do not, oh, trust me, lady there will be hell to pay. We do not bake apple pies for nothing. Now I am going to put this phone down and I expect my request to be handled appropriately.’

He stood still, cocking his head to the side.

‘Alright. Good.’

A small smile graced his sour face.

‘Goodbye, Francine.’

Then he turned to the door while putting the phone down and tidying up the wire which had tangled with the receiver’s wire.

‘She said yes.’ he called.

She breathed a sigh of relief, patted her hair, and walked primly away down the hallway, her heels clacking loudly.

He nodded to himself lips pursed. Then allow a smile of relief to take over his face.

As I always do,’ he muttered, putting a cigarette between his teeth and lighting it.

Liver Pâté

Are you a parent?

If you are, I think you can attest that one of the toughest, most worrying things as a parent is seeing your child ill.

My son has been so ill recently. He has caught one thing after another from nursery, and has developed huge dark circles under his eyes, and lost some weight. I can feel his little tiny bones through his skin, and he has lost that round chubbiness of toddlerhood.

It’s the most troubling thing and frankly I am just burdened by it.

Now of course we are having him checked up by doctors and whatnot, but I also sat down to research some ways to add nutrients into the body after bouts of illness and weightloss.

One of the biggest causes for dark circles around eyes is vitamin A deficiency. I have no proof (yet) that my son is deficient in vitamin A but it can’t harm to get some down him, can it?

Liver is apparently one of the biggest sources of vitamin A, so I sourced some liver from the local butcher.

I hated liver growing up. My father loves it, and the Moroccan way to cook it is to cut it into small pieces, fry it up with onions, garlic, coriander and a bit of cumin. Lots of seasoning, and the resulting liver in gravy concoction is eaten with some crusty bread. Freshly baked french loaf is the tastiest option, according to my family. I could never eat this food. The smell of liver alone put me off, and therefore eating it was simply impossible.

I am an adult now. And I know that liver is an excellent source of nutrients for my unwell child, so I looked up ways to cook it where it would not taste so… LIVERY.

One great way is making liver pâté! It’s liver cooked up with onions and garlic, some dijon mustard, balsmic vinegar, herbs and seasonings…. and a LOT of butter. You can spread it on toast or crackers and it’s just a really tasty savoury spread. So I made some tonight while my kids were in bed.

Let us see how well it goes down tomorrow, ey.

Image credit

The End!

Well, we have officially reached the end of November, and the end of Nano Poblano and of course, Nanowrimo.

When I pasted my entire month’s worth of blogs into a Word document, the total word count came up to 12,567 words. Which to be honest is more than I have written in a month in MANY years. So I am Very Pleased.

It was TOUGH.

It was hard to prioritise time to write a post each day.

I would just sit down, put the number in the title, and then just write. So whatever came out of my fingertips was published immediately with no editing and no re-reading.

My plan is to read over what I have done, do a tonne of editing and planning, and then make it into the Thing it has been in my head for over seventeen years.

Might take me a few more years lol.

Might be next November when I challenge myself again.

But it will happen.

This challenge has taught me one thing: I do have time to write about 500 words a day. They don’t have to be perfect or edited, they just have to be there on paper. It’s better than nothing!

If you did nanowrimo or nano poblano or any other writing challenge this month, how did you fare?

This Land [30]

The long, harsh winter was finally over.

She realised it one crisp day in May, when she felt the warm sun on her bare arms. Her first roses were blooming. Bright, peachy yellow ones. And their sweet lemony scent danced on the breeze and filled her with such joy. Enough to go running barefoot in the gardens, flinging her hair free, the joy of the glorious sun coursing through every vein in her body.

She knew what she would do now.

She knew with all the conviction in the world.

She would go to the train station, and wait on the platform for his train to draw in. She would step forward, and immediately tell him yes.

No, she would hand him a letter.

No, no. That would be silly. She already wrote him a letter. She would just wait for him. And he would know. Why should he not know? He would know!

She raced back indoors, drawing her shawl over her shoulders in the sudden chill that hung around the back door.

‘Letter for you Laura,’ Phyllis called from the drawing room. Phyllis was visiting for the week. She debated whether to go in and get it or not.

‘Who is it from?’ she stood in the doorway, her left foot tapping impatiently on the floor.

‘Well,’ Phyllis peered at the handwriting, ‘it looks like Mary’s handwriting actually. It came through this morning. Ethel collected the letters from the post office.’

‘Oh. Mary!’ Laura darted across the room and snatched the letter from her younger sister’s hand. She ripped it open and hurried out of the drawing room, with Phyllis looking after her as though she had sprouted another head.

‘Why the rush!?’ Phyllis called anxiously, getting out of her chair.

‘I am meeting .. I am going to the train station,’ Laura threw over her shoulder, before taking the stairs two steps at a time. She dropped the envelope on the floor and shook the letter out, reading as she hurried into her room and shut the door behind her.

Dearest Laura,

Your letter was beautiful. I do miss you so. We have settled in nicely by the sea. John’s practice is marvellous. And I am doing so well with so much fresh air to cleanse my lungs. They have accepted my application at the College and I have my first class on the first week of June. It’s only a small class; I shall be teaching the summer students before they move me onto something more permanent. They say it’s a probationary period. I am not at all nervous, I tell you. We are both looking forward to your visit in August. I have the most wonderful room here for you. It looks right over the sea and the window is as tall as I am! Every night when the days are clear I watch the sunset and I think how you would adore this darling little room. You would feel right at home here. And come September, when our number shall increase by one… I feel giddy thinking about it!

Now for the real reason I write to you so hurriedly, Laura. Tom refuses to tell you, so I must do it myself and warn you before he arrives, lest you have the shock of your life. He is engaged to be married, my love. To Rosaline. Remember Rosaline? You got on really well with her at the Winter dance when you came to visit us at Leighton. He is bringing her and her mother back with him for the summer. Says he wants to give them the tour of the town. I expect he wants to show them the old haunts. Rosaline tells me he tells her about your roses and she is keen to see them. I write only to let you know, so you don’t keel over or anything silly like that.

With all my ferocious love,

Mary

She finished reading the letter and her legs were frozen in place. A soft knock on the bedroom door, and when she didn’t respond, Phyllis pushed it open and peered around.

Laura’s face was pale.

‘So you know,’ Phyllis’s voice was gentle as she came into the room and took her sister into her arms.

Laura shook herself free, tossing her head.

‘Know what?’ she snapped, folding the letter and putting it away into her drawer.

‘About Tom?’

‘Oh! Yes, of course I know. Why are you being so motherly all of a sudden?’ she said curtly, pulling on her coat.

‘Laura, come now, don’t…’

‘I’m going for a walk, Phyllis. Please. Allow me to get dressed in peace.’

She pushed past her sister, seizing her shawl and wrapping it around her neck. She picked her hat up and stalked out.