Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction Challenge ‘Fingers that Fly’ #99words

The Piano

Ada’s hands flew wildly over the table as her head swayed rhythmically. 

Alistair stepped closer, curious to see what she was doing. His wife had drawn black and white symmetrical rectangles along the edge of the table.

Ada had been unfortunate enough to have become mute at an early age, and now after their forced relocation she had obviously lost her mind, too.

‘Mummy can’t live without her piano, daddy,’ said Flora.

Alistair shook his head. ‘We had to sell it. We all had to make sacrifices when we lost everything.’

‘But daddy, we can speak about our feelings.’

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This flash was inspired by my recollection of the film The Piano (1993) and very loosely based on Ada, the mute protagonist.

It’s a powerful and moving film about immigration, marriage, love, the power of music, cruelty, loss and recovery, among many other themes.

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This post was written in response to Charli Mills weekly Flash Fiction Challenge. Do you love writing flash fiction? Pop over, find out more and join in! It’s a fabulous and supportive community of writers.

 

 

Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction Chellenge ‘Balloons’ #99Words

Balloons

We love you.

We miss you.

At sunrise, all the children gathered in the playground to release their helium-filled balloons. Each carried a personalized message begging their classmate to come home.

‘How long will it take for Silvia to get the messages?’ Her best friend asked the teacher.

‘That’s hard to say,’ she replied, ‘but I’m sure she will receive them.’

‘When will she come back?’ Asked another worried child.

‘She may not come back, but she’ll know how much we all love and miss her,’ said the teacher, hoping one of the balloons would soften the kidnapper’s heart.

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Sometimes there’s not much we can do against evil and injustice, except hope our positive messages and vibrations reach their destination…
This post was written in response to Charli Mills weekly Flash Fiction Challenge.

 

#CarrotRanch #FlashFiction Challenge ‘Marry me’ #JaneEyre

This is my response to Charli Mills’

March 1: Flash Fiction Challenge

Prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a raven. Respond by March 6, 2018, to be included in the compilation (published March 7). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

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Marry Me, Jane!

‘Soon I shall be a bridegroom,’ said Mr. Rochester.
Jane looked down at her plain, governess dress and remembered Blanche Ingram’s extravagant clothes, noble features and glossy, raven hair.
‘I’ll leave at once. Miss Ingram will have plans for Adele.’
Jane refused to witness the man she loved marry a beautiful, yet unworthy gold-digger.
‘You would have me marry that frivolous woman?’ Rochester shook his head. ‘You think so little of me, Jane? I ask you to pass through life at my side as my best earthly companion.’
Rochester kissed her hand. ‘Jane, say Edward I will marry you.’

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It’s amazing how the mind works. I saw the picture of the raven and thought of Blanche Ingram’s hair! For those of you don’t remember, she was Lord Ingram’s daughter, who Mr. Rochester used to make Jane jealous, tease her and perhaps find out if cool Jane loved him…

I’ve tried to capture the moment Rochester asked Jane to marry him, which is no doubt one of the most dramatic and romantic scenes in the novel. Jane is convinced that he’s going to marry the awful Miss Ingram, but Mr. Rochester recognises gold when he sees it, even if it’s hidden under an ugly dress!

 

#CarrotRanch #FlashFiction ‘Red Ink’

Red Ink

The poet always wrote with red ink.

A constant reminder that his blood, the blood that pulsed through the fingers that held his pen, was red, not blue like the rippling sea, or black, like a moonless night…

His blood was red, a bold, vibrant scarlet, ablaze with love or hate, sometimes sizzling with lust, others fierce with rage, but never tepid.

His blood was red like a crimson dawn, or a ruby sunset.

Black or blue was the choice of those who embraced the vulgarity of conformity.   

He lifted his pen, growled at the blank page and bled.

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T. S. Eliot’s well known quote, in which he compares writing to spilling out one’s soul, using ink instead of blood, prompted me to write this flash.

I’m sure he didn’t use red ink, or blood to write, but he wrote with fierce honesty, strength and beauty.    

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This post was written in response to Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch’s weekly #99 word Flash Fiction Challenge. This week’s prompt is ‘Ink’. Check out other entries or take part yourself!

#FlashFiction ‘When I grow up’ @NorahColvin @Charli_Mills #amhealing #WWWBlogs

Healing Lilly

“How was your day, Lilly?”

Tears spilled.

“Tell me about it.”

“No-one wants to play with me and they call me names.”

“So, what are you doing about it?”

“Crying, mostly. Sometimes hiding. I don’t want to go to school.”

“Lil, listen to me. You’ll get good marks, make wonderful friends, be a great teacher and have your own family one day.”

She stamped her foot. “I’m ugly and silly!”

I held the picture of my younger self to the mirror.

“Look at me, Lil. You can and will do it. Anything you want is there for the asking.”

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Fifty years and still healing. Lucy at about 8 and 58

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Lilly or sometimes Lil was my nick name at home when I was a child. My sister couldn’t say Lucy, so she named me Lilly. Elsa died many years ago, and nobody has called me Lilly since, but I know Lilly’s still with me. I encourage her and remind her not to worry and believe in herself, every day. I think it’s working, Lilly is healing and Lucy is happier every day.

We all have hang ups from our youth. Speak to pictures of your younger self, tell her not to worry because it will work out. Believe me, it works. We can heal the child within.

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This post was written in response to Norah Colvin’s prompt on Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest, coordinated and inspired by Charli Mills.You can take part in the contest or just post your flash on your blog, which is what I’m doing.

Norah asks us to cast ourselves back to six years of age, knowing what you do of life in the present; what would you want to be when you grow up and how would you go about achieving that goal? Tell us in 100 words, no more no less. It can be real or imaginary, serious or light-hearted. Extra points for comparing it to your childhood choice, if you remember it.

Geoff Lepard is hosting the challenge this week at his blog. Check it out if you’d like to join in.

#CarrotRanch #FlashFiction Challenge ‘The Rat Catcher’ @Charli_Mills

This post was written in response to Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch’s weekly Flash Fiction Challenge. May 11, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about trading. Trade away and go where the prompt leads you. Find out more, read other entries or join in here!

I’ve returned to Victorian England once again for my contribution. 

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Trading Rats: The Rat Catcher

The seller stood with his back to the door holding a swinging cage of squealing rats.

‘How much?’ asked the buyer.

‘A guinea.’

The buyer stroked his beard. ‘Two shillings.’

‘What? I went down the gutters for days risking my life to catch them!’

The buyer looked at the bite marks and blood on the seller’s hands. ‘You need to sell and find a doctor or you’re a dead man.’

The seller leaned back into the door which closed with a loud bang. ‘Two guineas, or I drop this cage, it smashes and we’ll both be devoured for dinner.’

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Who decides the price in illegal trading? Buyer? Seller? Is it a question of supply and demand, as in any other negotiation? Or is it the person who has less to lose? What happens when the buyer or the seller gets too greedy?

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Rat Catchers had a lot of work in Victorian England for three reasons.

1- Rat baiting was a popular, albeit illegal sport, which involved a lot of money with rich and poor people betting. In this case, rat catchers caught live rats.

2- Other rat catchers were paid to kill rats in different parts of the country.

3- Finally rich ladies liked to keep rats as pets in squirrel cages. A practice which I have heard is also popular nowadays.

Many of the rat catchers were children. They preferred catching rats to cleaning chimneys, working in coal mines, or hawking wares, because it was easier and paid better.

De-ratting English manors and businesses was often more lucrative as children could earn from two shillings to one pound. By the way, a guinea was 21 shillings.

If anyone is interested in finding out more:

Full Revelations of a Professional Rat-catcher After 25 Years’ Experience

This fascinating book, written in 1889, is a fascinating and informative read.

More information on this web page about Victorian England.

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#AtoZChallenge ‘C’ #NationalPoetryMonth ‘Half Caste’ #NPM17 #CarrotRanch

This year to celebrate National Poetry Month and to take part in the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, I’ll be posting two poems a day, one written by me and another poem written by one of my favourite poets. The title or first word of both poems will begin with the corresponding letter in the Blogging Challenge.

Today I’ve also added a third challenge, Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch, weekly Flash Fiction Challenge based on a 99 word prompt. This weeks’ prompt is write a ‘hello or a goodbye’

Today I offer you Half Caste by Luccia Gray, and Half Caste by Guyanese poet John Agard.

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My poem is about a group of school children who meet a new girl. Here’s their ‘hello’ and her ‘goodbye’.

Half Caste by Luccia Gray

She was doing her homework.

They were playing around.

‘She’s not like us,’ they whispered.

‘She’s different,’ he complained.

‘Odd clothes, funny accent,’ she smirked.

‘Let’s say hi to the new girl.’

‘You’re not English,’ they said.

‘I was born here,’ she protested.

‘You’re only half English,’ they replied.

‘Right or left?’ she challenged.

‘You’re colouring’s wrong,’ they complained.

‘My tanned colouring’s fine,’ she replied.

‘You’re half caste,’ they said.

‘Look at me, I’m quite whole,’ she insisted.

‘You’re half caste,’ they chanted.

‘At least I’m not half stupid,’ she sighed,

Said goodbye and turned back to her books.

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Half Caste by John Agard

Excuse me

Standing on one leg

I’m half-caste

Explain yuself

Wha yu mean

When yu say half-caste

Yu mean when picasso

Mix red an green

Is a half-caste canvas/

Explain yuself

Wha u mean

When yu say half-caste

Yu mean when light an shadow

Mix in de sky

Is a half-caste weather/

Well in dat case

England weather

Nearly always half-caste

In fact some o dem cloud

Half-caste till dem overcast

So spiteful dem dont want de sun pass

Ah rass/

Explain yuself

Wha yu mean

When yu say half-caste

Yu mean Tchaikovsky

Sit down at dah piano

An mix a black key

Wid a white key

Is a half-caste symphony/

Read the whole poem here http://www.intermix.org.uk/poetry/poetry_01_agard.asp

John Agard was born in Guyana in 1949. His mother was Portuguese, and his father was Caribbean. In 1977, he moved to Britain.

This poem was written in response to those who referred to him as ‘half-caste’. In spite of the humour, bitterness and anger also comes across in his words.

He uses the overused and often meaningless expression ‘Excuse me’ as he sarcastically apologizes for being half caste.

I love the rhythm of the poem and the way he compares his mixed racial and cultural origins to a Picasso painting or a symphony by Tchaikovsky.

Agard finally challenges the reader to explain himself and realise how inaccurate and offensive the expression is.

The girl in my poem on the other hand isn’t angry or embittered because she is assertive and clever enough to get on with her own life and ignore some narrow minded people one is always bound to bump into in life.

By the way, it’s a unique experience to hear Agard read the poem himself. Watch it here!

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