#writephoto – Aftermath

cracked-iceI’m currently taking part in the 30 Day Writing Challenge, but I also like to take part in other blog challenges, including Sue Vincent’s #writephoto. As it turns out, today’s 30 DWC prompt is Aftermath, which also happens to fit the piece I wrote for Sue’s latest photo.

Perhaps I’m being a bit cheeky by hitting two challenges with one stone, so to speak – I do hope not. Here’s my story, inspired by Sue’s beautiful photograph.

‘So this is what you get, in the end.’

I nodded, my head on his shoulder, tears blurring the distant colours into even more fantastical shapes. His arms tightened briefly around me. I was cold, we both were, but there was nothing more to be done.

It was upon us. And with it came a sense of relief that finally our bare existence, scraping hand to mouth in an unnatural winter, might be over. I could feel snow seeping through the coarse weave of my trousers, stinging the lesions in my skin, but I didn’t care anymore.

‘We’re so stupid,’ he went on.

‘We are?’ I tilted my head to look at him and he smiled, whisky brown eyes crinkling in his tanned face.

‘Not us.’ There was that brief tightening of his arms again, comfort against the cold. ‘I mean humanity. Humanity is stupid. And we’re part of that.’

‘I guess.’ I mean, we were human, so on one level we were part of the whole. But we’d had no part to play in the first cataclysm, struggling in the aftermath just to survive. And now, once again, we were caught up in events beyond our control.

‘I know,’ he said. ‘We have no part in this.’ It was odd to hear him echo my thoughts. Strange to think anything I said or did might be on his level. ‘Stupid,’ he said again. ‘We should have been working together to make a new world, not fighting over the dregs of the old one. And now they’ve done it. Set the final act in motion.’

He fell silent and I felt him shiver against me. I snuggled in closer, trying to give him what warmth I could, but there was a cold in him I could never reach. He was older than me, his memories longer. I would hear him cry out in the night sometimes, or find him outside our camp staring up at the cold stars, tears on his cheeks. I never asked him what part of the old world was pulling at him, never wanted to pry. But now I kind of wish I had.

‘So what happens now?’ The colours were getting brighter, and there was an ominous whooshing crackle.

‘We wait. Until it’s over. It won’t be long.’

My mouth twisted, and I felt pain in my chest. Everything blurred again and I saw the field as it once was, green and flowered, the stream running clear.

‘If I have to do this with anyone,’ I said, overcome,’ I’m glad it’s with you.’

The noise was so loud now I doubted he heard me, but I thought, just before the shock wave hit us, that I felt his arms tighten around me, one last time.

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If you enjoyed this post, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day 5 – This Road

img_3661It’s Day 5 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge. I’ve been a bit short on time today, so I decided to set a timer and write this post, using the prompt: This Road.     I like writing to a timer – it’s a clear window of time in which I’m allowed to do nothing except write, and I find it a great way to get things moving if I’m stuck on a project.

I gave myself seven minutes (I told you, busy day), and this is what I came up with:

‘So is it this road? Or that road?’

‘I dunno. Bloody satnav.’ He tapped on it, hard, as though it might make the crossroads we sat at magically appear on the little screen. But all it showed was a single straight road going on to a dead end. The voice, like a robotic Eric Bana, kept repeating ‘You have reached your destination.’

‘No we bloody well haven’t!’ I shouted, frustrated by the calm Aussie twang. ‘For god’s sake, can we change the voice on that thing?’

‘Okay love, calm down. We can figure this out. Where did she say she was staying again?’

‘A farmhouse. Set back from the road, but she said when we got there we’d be able to see the driveway. But there’s no bloody driveway and it’s getting dark and I’ve no idea whether it’s this road or that road!’

‘Can you ring her?’

‘No signal.’ I waved my phone around in a futile attempt to pick up something, anything, but we might as well have been on Mars for all the coverage I was getting.

‘Right. Well. I’m going left.’

‘Left? Why left?’ I said as he turned the wheel, the car starting to swing around. ‘Oh for god’s sake!’ I shouted again, as Eric reminded us that we had reached our destination. I pushed the button on the top of the satnav then disconnected the suction cup from the windshield, resisting the temptation to throw the whole thing out the window.

‘Why not left?’ he replied. ‘Besides, we’ll hold up traffic if we sit here any longer.’

‘What traffic?’ I huffed. There was nothing to be seen but long fields and dark trees, silhouetted against a purpling sky. No ancient stone farmhouse, no welcoming light, nothing. We were lost.

It’s a little bit rough, but not too bad considering the time frame. As to whether they’ll ever get to their destination, I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll find out during another prompt…

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If you enjoyed this post, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day Four – Mirror

img_3257It’s day four of the 30 day writing challenge, and today’s prompt is: Mirror.

I had a few different thoughts about how to approach this prompt, but the lines from Tennyson’s Lady Of Shalott kept playing over and over in my head, and so I felt I needed to share them. These particular lines describe Sir Lancelot as he rode across the river running past the mysterious Lady’s tower, his beauty and song luring her from her loom to the window, whereupon she was cursed. The Lady had a mirror as well, a magical one that showed her all the sights of the world as she sat alone in her chambers – when the (unspecified) curse came upon her, it ‘crack’d from side to side.’ Seven years bad luck indeed!

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow’d;
On burnish’d hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow’d
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
       As he rode down from Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash’d into the crystal mirror,
‘Tirra lirra, tirra lirra:’
       Sang Sir Lancelot.
From ‘The Lady of Shalott’, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
While describing water as a crystal mirror these days can be seen (with apologies to Tennyson) as a rather over-used simile, I do think it apt. I love the effect of reflection on water, showing us another world in reverse. As above, so below. I’ve taken a few reflection photos in my wanders, so here are some more, courtesy of the ‘crystal mirror.’img_4273img_2093img_0150
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If you enjoyed this post, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day Three – Faces In The Street

It’s day three of the challenge, and today’s prompt is: Faces In The Street. This prompt is quite apropos, as I happened to be in London today – I love the city but find crowds overwhelming at times, so it’s always nice to return to the relative solitude of home. As it’s been quite a long day I decided to keep this post short and simple, with a haiku.

img_0076Faces in the street

A wave, breaking around me

Upon me, recedes.

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If you enjoyed this post, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

Thirty Day Writing Challenge – Day 2 – Open Door

img_1622Today’s prompt is: Open Door

For this post I’ve pulled a short scene from Silver and Black, the vampire novel I’ve been working on this past while. It seemed to fit the prompt quite well…

Silver and Black (an excerpt)

‘Are you ready?’

I was. Despite not wanting to leave Kyle, despite the fact that this could go wrong in so many ways, I was ready. Excitement fluttered through me as I stood up, my hand trailing along Kyle’s cool skin. Then I let go and walked to the door.

‘I’m coming out.’ I waited until I heard the outer shutters slam before opening the door, sliding out through the smallest gap possible, not wanting to let any light in. But the room beyond was still dark. I closed the door, sliding the bolt home. And the shutters opened.

My hand went up involuntarily, my eyes dazzled. I had seen the sun rise, but this was different. This was the blazing light of morning, something I had never seen.

‘Here, you’ll need these.’ Something hard was thrust into my hand and I squinted to see a pair of glasses, the lenses tinted dark. I put them on and the relief was instant.

‘Thanks.’

Bev was regarding me curiously. ‘You never seen this before?’

I shook my head, careful not to dislodge the glasses. ‘No. I er, I live in the night.’

‘With him?’

‘Um, yeah.’ My head turned towards Kyle’s door and for a second I wanted to be back there in the darkness, the brilliant white light around me feeling as though it was laying me bare, that these people, kind as they were, could see to the heart of me. I could not let them know who I was. ‘He looks after me.’

Bev’s face crinkled up, and she laid a gentle hand on my arm. ‘Just be careful,’ she said. ‘If he tires of you, come here. Be safe.’

I licked my lips, frowning a little. ‘Um, yes, of course. Thank you.’

She stared at me a moment longer, then her face split into a grin. ‘So, Emily, you ready to go outside?’

I nodded. She went to the door, opening it, standing silhouetted in the frame. I could feel the light now, heat warmer than any candle, like standing in front of an open fire. The air was soft against my skin and smelt fresh, the slight breeze coming in through the open door redolent of green, of flowers. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t smell violets.

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If you enjoyed this post, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

 

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day 1 – Things We Carry

img_3718Okay, I know I’m a day late, but it’s been a busy week and I just found out about this writing challenge. The idea is to write a blog post based on a prompt for the next thirty days, fiction or non-fiction. As I’m a little behind the eight ball on this one, I’m pulling a couple of existing fiction pieces to get things started. Plus, OMG, I just watched the ‘Fall’ episode of Gilmore Girls and am still recovering from the ending. Anyway.

The Day 1 prompt is: Things We Carry

This is a short story I wrote for a competition – it was shortlisted, but ultimately didn’t win. It is about something we carry – well, women carry initially, anyway. It might be a bit of a stretch but let’s see how it goes…

In The Pit

Crap.

She stared at the faint blue lines in the little window, the plastic stick shaking in her hand.

Double crap. She did not need this. She sat there a moment longer, the shaking in her hand spreading through her body, as though trying to dislodge the unwelcome intruder. A knock came at the wooden door and she jumped.

‘Alison. You okay?’

‘Err.’ She cleared her throat. ‘Erm, yes. Just need a moment.’

‘Okay. It’s just, we’ve uncovered something. Think you might want to take a look.’

She took a deep breath in and out. ‘Righto.’ She stood, pulling her muddy trousers over her hips, her still-flat stomach. She looked at the blue lines once more then dropped the test into the dark round hole next to her. Squirting her hands with sanitiser, she rubbed them together and went out, blinking a little at the change in light. Peter was waiting for her. Frowning slightly, his young skin faintly crinkled, brown eyes concerned.

‘You sure you’re okay? You looked a bit green before…’

‘I’m fine,’ she said, a little too quickly, evading his hand. She had wanted him to touch her, before. But now… ‘You said something about a discovery?’

He nodded and she followed him across the field, towards the long trench where they’d been working. Liz, the osteologist, waved them over.

‘It’s a woman.’

The skeleton, still half covered in earth, lay curled in the foetal position at the bottom of a pit. But there was something more. Another tiny skeleton lay curled against her, barely visible, her skeletal arm lying across it as though to protect it.

‘Was she, was it…?’ Alison couldn’t finish the words.

Liz glanced at her. ‘The child was born. Young, but no, she wasn’t pregnant when she died.’

Alison knelt down. The dead woman’s eye sockets, dark blotches against the mud and pearl of her skull, seemed to be watching her. She leaned forward, feeling as though the eye sockets were pulling her, as though she were falling. She vaguely heard shouting…

…then there was warmth, a fire in a dark space, a little body curled close to hers. She felt love brighter and fiercer than the flames as she touched the tiny hands, saw the fire’s gleam reflected in wide eyes…

… then the flames spread and there was fear as she reached desperately through burning wood and thatch, ignoring the searing agony as she tried in vain to reach her child, tears evaporating like smoke…

‘Alison! Ali!’ She opened her eyes to brightness, but not the glow of flame. Instead blue sky and bright sun, the hillside green around her. She was lying on her back, Peter kneeling next to her, Liz on her phone.

‘She’s fainted. Can you send someone?’

‘I’m okay.’ She struggled to sit up, the world spinning, her mind still filled with smoke and fear. And love. She thought of tiny hands, of trust in the dark.

Perhaps she could do this, after all.


If you enjoyed this post, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

Author of the Month… Helen Jones!

A nice start to the month – I’m Author of the Month over on Kev’s blog! Hop on over and check it out🙂 Thanks, Kev!

KC BOOKS & MUSIC

Helen Jones’, Hills & Valleys: Book Three of the Ambeth Chronicles has won her the Book of the Month Spotlight which means a direct link to purchase her book from Amazon will be posted in my widget column for a whole month! It’s there now… Check it out! Well done, Helen!

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If you missed my review on Helen’s Book, check it out here: Hills & Valleys. Don’t forget to click on the book cover in my widget column for more information and to buy from it from Amazon.

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