Anger Management

A good approximation of my mood today

Flash fiction riffing on the theme of frustration/stress management today. Just a bit of fun :)

How I imagine I deal with anger/stress:

Still grinding my teeth in seething frustration, I snapped the noise-cancelling earmuffs over my ears, and slid on the safety glasses.

I ejected the clip, double checked that it was unloaded, then reloaded it with a click.

Gripping it tightly, I peered down the sight, curled my finger around the trigger, pulled back the slide, and breathed. Tried to tell myself I wasn’t imagining a face superimposed over the bulls eye.

In. Out.

Squeezing the trigger, I fired – the muffled sound and recoil easing the downturn of my mouth, teeth unclenching slightly as I caught sight of the hole torn in the paper of the bulls eye.

My lips curled up in a bitter smile.

A few more clips and I might be able to go back to work tomorrow.

I hated retail.

^I know nothing about using a gun. And don’t particularly advocate the use of them to solve problems, either – but this seems fun.

How I probably should deal with stress/anger:

Closing my eyes despite the darkened room, I breathed deeply.

Inhale. Exhale.

Reaching my arms towards the ceiling, I stretched on tip toe as high as I could reach, lengthening each part of my body.

Inhale. Exhale.

Bending forwards and sweeping my hands down towards my toes, I consciously tried to relax my jaw and smooth the wrinkle etching itself into my forehead.

Slowly, as I continued to stretch, hold and breathe, the tension left my body, leaving only the honest burn of exertion and a calm, quiet mind.

Inhale. Exhale.

How I actually deal with anger/stress:

I reached into the bag, searching out another handful of Maltesers. Around me, empty wrappers were littered, evidence of earlier snacking.

“Arseholes. Who needs ‘em?” I muttered darkly around my mouthful.

Smearing the remote with melted chocolate, I pressed the ‘play’ button and slumped back against the pillows, the bag of Maltesers balanced on my stomach.

Onscreen, the opening credits finished and the young man at the bus stop introduced himself.

“My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” I lilted along with Forrest Gump, settling in contentedly.

Bliss.

Word Count: 325

How do you de-stress?

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Seasons of Flash Fiction

Title is pretty self-explanatory – Four posts, fiftyish words each, on four seasons.

#Summer

The house was dark and humid, a breeze from the gently rotating ceiling fan barely cooling the air.

We all sat silent and motionless – trying not to move, or even think too hard, unable to function in the unbearable heat that was beating down outside.

Sweat dripped.

Ugh. Summer…

#Autumn

The gardens were a riot of colour.

Despite the cheerfully shining sun, the air was chilly and damp, a film of mist limning the variegated leaves still clinging to their branches.

The garden was filled with crunching foliage and delighted laughter as children and adults alike jumped and walked through piles of brown and red leaves.

The best Autumn pastime.

#Winter

Ominous black clouds were gathering outside in the chilly air.

I was bundled up inside with a book and an enormous mug of tea, heater on.

Suddenly, the temperature dropped, and then -

The sky opened and it poured, deafening as it hit the tin roof.

I smiled, and read on.

Winter was great – as long as I wasn’t out in it.

#Spring

My eyes itched and watered.

Hayfever. Great.

The air was damp and sweet, the sun warm and bright.

Despite the beautiful weather, green grass and blooming flowers, all I could see was pollen.

Nasty, hateful pollen making me sniffle and itch.

I loved Spring. I hated Spring.

Word Count: 220

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Why I Write

Anybody else ever get the question “Why do you write?” Yes?

Since starting this blog, and challenging myself to write every day – everybody I’ve mentioned it to can only ask “Why?”

I could never really pin down one single reason, but the more I think about it, the more I have to say.

Here’s why.

I write because I love stories. I love robots, and magic, and regency manners. Post-apocalyptic Earth stories, Gothic horror stories, a hidden magical world in 1990′s London. I love that sometimes, a story so captures the imagination of people that it becomes a cultural phenomenon, or lives on over hundreds of years, or encourages a new generation of people to pick up a book.

I write because I love words. I love discombobulate and tumescent and facade. Expelliarmus, Jabberwocky, whizzpopping, besmirch. I love that there are authors out there who made up fully functioning languages, or first coined phrases that we now use regularly without thinking. I love that by writing, I could do that too.

I write because my favourite authors strung together those words into sentences that left me breathless, that sent shivers down my spine, that made me sob into my pillow. Because “Lord Voldemort had risen once more.” left my twelve year old self cold with horror, in a way the movie never quite captured. Because “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! – I have as much soul as you, – and full as much heart!” makes my heart ache and my eyes blaze with outrage on behalf of a fictional woman. One day, I hope that I could do that to someone too.

I write because I love reading, because my imagination and my lifelong love affair with words insists that I put pen to paper, or hands to keyboard.

I write because I have to, because I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t write.

So why do I write?

Why not?

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A Tale of Two Showers

Sam sighed deeply in exhausted contentment as the heavy stream of water beat down on her head and shoulders, the heat almost unbearable against her freezing skin.

Feeling slowly returned to her frozen toes, and she slumped against the cool shower wall with her eyes shut, just breathing.

Work was over for another day.

The door opened.

“Mind if I join you?”

She smiled.

***

Elle dragged her exhausted body up the two flights of stairs to her apartment.

Struggling with the lock, she thought longingly of the shower and glass of wine that awaited her on the other side of the door. When the door finally swung open, she dumped her stuff on couch and made her way to the bathroom, stripping as she went. A trail of clothes littered the floor behind her – a message her girlfriend would hopefully take advantage of when she got home.

Shower started and heating up, she climbed in and stood, face raised to ceiling, just enjoying the heat.

Beyond the bathroom door, she could hear muffled movement. Cate was home.

There was a brief silence, then -

“Mind if I join you?” A man’s voice. Not her girlfriend.

She screamed.

***

Word Count: 198

Two showers, one question – two different outcomes.

Hope you enjoyed!

 

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Generations

#1

Gently calloused fingertips rubbed butter and flour together briskly, wrinkled hands knowing and sure – repeating an action perfected by decades.

Ingredients were added and put away, messes cleaned as they were made, and the dough mixed and kneaded by hand – no fancy machines here. This was the way her mother had taught her, and it never failed.

Perfect, uniform circles of dough were pressed out, lined up on a tray dull with age, brushed with milk and cooked, until they emerged perfectly risen and golden brown.

The same way they had for decades.

Later, still warm from the towel-lined basket, they were arranged on a platter with homemade jam and whipped cream, and the kettle beginning to boil.

The embroidery ladies would arrive any minute now.

#2

It was a week night.

Mince was browning in the saucepan, while steady hands chopped an onion perfunctorily, eyes darting periodically towards the pan.

Meat browned, the onion was dumped in and stirred, the heat slowly turning it soft and translucent.

Cans, bottles, containers and packets were pulled from the pantry and left in a jumble on the bench. A can of this, bottle of that, pinch of this, few twists of that – resulting in a fragrant, easily accomplished meat sauce, waiting only for the pasta.

Water boiled, no salt. A packet of dried pasta into the water, stirred, left to cook.

Time for a glass of wine, now.

Dinner was served, eaten, and forgotten.

Hours later, the kitchen was still littered from the detritus of cooking – empty cans and bottles in the sink for washing, vegetables scraps left on the cutting board, half a dozen other ingredients strewn on the bench.

It was a week night – it could wait.

#3

Eight hours and counting.

The house was a confusion of smells – sweet and savoury – as more and more trays and cooling racks and plates were filled with all manner of seasonal treats.

Covered in flour and chocolate, she stood at the stove, sure hands dipping, twirling, and removing truffles from the bowl of melted chocolate.

It was December, and Round One of the month long baking bonanza was well under way.

Truffles, gingerbread, sausage rolls, fruit mince pies, peppermint bark, fudge and shortbread – and more. New things made the list every year. And every year, the results were better, more consistent, more perfected, more creative.

Her feet hurt, her arms ached and she was pretty sure she hadn’t eaten anything but raw dough and cake batter since breakfast – but none of that mattered.

What mattered right now was the precise swirl of chocolate on top of these truffles.

 

Word Count: 443

*

Well, I’ve been going at this daily writing gig for a month now, and still going strong. Received a bigger response than I was expecting, too – though I started this for myself, I’m still extremely thankful to the fellow bloggers who have liked/followed/commented since I began. I’ve written over 5000 words (in case any of you were wondering why I keep a word count in my posts) which is more fiction than I’ve written in ten years.

Thanks for reading!

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Witchcraft & Wizardry

#1

Anne peered around the nursery door, before stopping in her tracks.

Iridescent bubbles floated above the cot, sweet-scented and multi-coloured. Her six month old daughter stared up in wonder, giggling with her eyes alight with curiosity and delight.

As Anne watched, baby Paisley reached out towards the bubbles, chubby hands waving with excitement, and suddenly the air was filled with the cheerfully coloured orbs, dancing to a song that apparently only her baby knew.

Well. Someone had some explaining to do…

#2

“Freak! Oi, Freak! Why don’t you wiggle ya fingers and make yourself go away? Do us all a favour, freak!”

David’s cheeks heated in fury and embarrassment as he pushed past Eddy to his desk, trying to ignore the jeering.

As class began, the torment continued. Notes were passed, insults whispered, spit balls repeatedly finding his head. Throughout it, David sat motionless, unable to concentrate on the lesson, anger reaching boiling point inside him.

Hearing another ‘Freak!’ muttered to his left, David snapped.

Clenching his fists, he concentrated the heat of his anger, feeling its power envelope him and then reach outwards, seeking retribution.

That was when the shrieking began.

#3

Covering the seeds with soil, Kel pressed her hands against the earth, murmuring. Slowly, green light began to shine beneath her hands, seeping into the soil below.

It was beginning to work.

At first, there appeared to be no change; just soil, and light and murmured spells. Then, as Kel spoke louder and louder, green sprouts appeared, growing rapidly.

Before long, a fully grown plant had flourished underneath her hands, already budding. As she watched, the pansies opened their variegated petals in a flush of purple, yellow and black.

Kel sat back, dusting her hands off as she smiled in satisfaction.

It worked!

*

An hour later, when Kel peeked out of the window to check on her pansies, she frowned in frustration. It was wilted and dying, vibrant colours fading.

Magic solutions never did work quite as well.

 

Word Count: 329

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Fifty

In honour of reaching fifty followers on this blog, today I’ve written a series of short flash fiction pieces, keeping as close to fifty words each as possible. Enjoy!

#1

The dough made a dull thud as it hit the bench repeatedly, coming together in a uniform, elastic ball under my kneading hands. Satisfied, I dusted my hands off, considering the fine film of flour that clung from fingertip to elbow, the bench, and the smeared handprints on my bum.

Something this messy had to be good.

#2

Their mouths slid together awkwardly, noses bumping.

Pulling away, one murmured, “Let’s try that again, yeah?”

Leaning in again, this time they fit together seamlessly, though still hesitant. Eyes closed, hands tentatively pressing and pulling away, they nevertheless slid closer, each seeking the other.

A first of many kisses to come.

#3

As the car pulled away, she curled into her mother’s lap, sobbing.

Grief had never felt like this before. Like it was tearing a hole in her chest, or threatening to spill out of her throat, black and choking.

Heart broken, she cried until she couldn’t breathe, nose blocked and eyes blurry.

Her best friend was gone.

#4

His lungs burned.

Sweat threatening to drip into his eyes, throat parched, and still he ran – determined to finish, to reach his goal.

Feet pounding loudly in his ears, his gaze focused on his destination, he sped up.

Impending triumph burned in his veins.

He could feel it.

Word count: 215

 

Feedback always welcome!

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Fiction vs Life

One of the best things about creative writing in all its forms, is its ability to transform the mundane into the beautiful. That being said, its any wonder that I feel somewhat cheated when life fails to match up. Here’s a few examples:

Exhibit A – Fiction

Soaked, I ran through the shimmering rain, splashing childishly in puddles as around me, the world growing grey and indistinct in the downpour.

Stopping abruptly, I lifted my face to the sky, eyes closed against the droplets kissing my face. Inhaling the scent of damp ozone, I stuck my tongue out to taste the cold air and rain, something I hadn’t done in years.

Flushed, frozen and wet, I set off again at a walk, thrilling in the simple pleasure of the feel of rain on my skin, and the chill wind in my dripping hair.

Versus Exhibit B – Reality

My eyes crossed, trying to follow the path of a single water droplet as it crawled down the length of my nose, before it hung irritatingly off the edge. I brushed it off, but more followed.

I was soaked. My shoes were making absurd sloshing noises against the pavement, my jeans were heavy and chafing and the icy wind had blown my hair all over my face, where it had promptly stuck, wet and ticklish.

The bus stop was still ten minutes walk away, and I couldn’t feel my feet, so running wasn’t an option. So I walked – squelched, really – miserable, blind and shivering, with an ice cold droplet of water edging its way down the back of my neck.

Next time, I’d bloody well stay home.

Here’s another pair:

Exhibit C – Fiction

Awareness came gradually, creeping in on the edges of my consciousness.

Stretching lazily, I blinked open my eyes to greet the soft early morning sun as it peeked through the curtains, promising a beautiful day to come.

Rolling fully onto my back, I stretched again, decadently extending each limb in the mute pleasure that comes from a good night sleep.

Smiling sleepily, I contemplated the day to come, certain it would be a good one.

Versus Exhibit D – Reality

I snapped awake suddenly, going from sleep to wakefulness in the blink of an eye.

Groaning uncomfortably, I stretched out on the bed, trying to ease the stiffness in my neck and hips. Tentatively cracking one eyelid, I immediately slammed it shut against the onslaught of overly cheerful morning sun, blazing through the gap in the curtains.

Rolling fully onto my back, I yanked the covers up over my face and whinged into them wordlessly, shaking my head in denial. My neck complained loudly at the abuse, evidence of a crappy night’s sleep.

Frowning crankily, I wondered how best to get out of going to work, knowing with utter certainty that it was not going to be a good day.

Word Count: 405

^The tongue is inserted firmly in cheek, today – hope you enjoyed!

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Carnevale

The air was frigid, even through two pairs of pants.

Canals on either side of us shimmered a cloudy blue-green, hiding secrets in their gently lapping depths.

There was a buzz of celebration in the air as masked tourists converged on St. Mark’s Square, pausing to snap photos of people in costume and the crumbling genteel walls rising from the canals.

Venice.

It was the middle of Carnevale, and the ground was flecked with millions of cheerfully coloured confetti dots, evidence of earlier days of celebration. Camera wielding tourists milled in groups, some clutching masks, others shifting uncomfortably in the cold as they peered about themselves in curious wonder.

Night was beginning to descend, the sun setting on a forgettable day of heaving crowds, photo opportunities, tourist traps and cheap trinkets.

As the winding paths over and around canals darkened, the real magic of Venice became apparent.

Despite the misting rain, and ominous thunder echoing around St. Mark’s Square, crowds gathered in restaurants and bars, eager for the nighttime festivities to begin. A Beatles tribute band was promised in the square, and elsewhere, more exclusive parties hearkening back to the festivals origins were getting under way.

It was promising to be a magical night.

Until the rain stopped.

And the snow began in earnest.

*

Thwarted, we returned to the campsite, shivering, unable to feel our fingers, snow melting in our hair.

Maybe the day wasn’t perfect, but it was ours.

Afterwards, updating my travel diary, it begins with three words.

Best. Day. Ever.

^I reject the notion that a series of bad or awkward experiences while traveling equals a bad experience as a whole.

Word Count: 254

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Who Am I?

Who am I? What will I be today? Where will I go?

Perhaps a spandex hero, single-handedly fighting off hordes of marauding aliens, for the sake of all human kind.

Or a strong-willed regency maiden, determined not to settle for anything less than love.

I could go to Ancient Rome, and walk among senators and slaves, gladiators and gods. Or the year 3000, sailing the solar winds on a ship traveling light speed.

Perhaps I’ll be a wizard, or a dwarf, or a knight. A man desperately in love with his oblivious best friend, or a boy who dreams of dancing while being encouraged to box.

I could learn to fence, or fly a helicopter. Be an astronaut, or an assassin, or a queen. I’m five years old again, or sixty. A femme fatale, a hero, a best friend, a villain.

Maybe I’ll live in Paris, or Manhattan. Be homeless, or have homes in three different countries.

Best of all to be a writer.

Go anywhere, be anyone, do anything.

Word Count: 170

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