#writephoto – Spiral

Sue's Spiral Stair

This morning I woke to the internet being down. Completely off. A recorded announcement from my supplier when I called them assured me an ‘engineer was working to fix the problem,’ which seemed fairly typical.

I use the internet most days, obviously, doing research and reading blogs, catching up on posts I’ve missed and posting work of my own. I’d planned to post a response to Sue’s photo prompt today plus do a few other things, but there I was, cut off.

And you know what? It was not a bad thing. In fact, it reminded me to focus on something I’ve been working on this year – the idea of bringing more balance back into my life. And so I pottered about, looking after family, moving through the day without the nagging feeling that I needed to keep checking this and checking that, a burden I hadn’t realised I’d been carrying lifted.

And then we came back online. My daughter, who’d been horrified when I informed her we had no internet, heaved a sigh of relief (she’s a bit under the weather today, so playing outside wasn’t on the agenda). My husband was able to watch the Aussie Rules football game. And I headed back into blogland, though a little more mindfully than before.

And so here is my response to Sue’s spiral staircase photo. I actually wrote two small stories, each around the 100 word mark. Both stories feature children and, even though I didn’t set out to do so, I think they might be linked. They are also quite dark, which seems to be a thing for me of late. I think as writers we need to sometimes let ourselves go into the darkness, so our books hold both light and shade. Sue wrote a post touching on that the other week, as well. Right. Enough waffling. Here we go:


She could feel its kiss whenever she passed the small window, a glimpse of blue and green, misted fields in early light.

Then her gaze turned upwards, the bucket heavy in her small hands, dripping on the worn stones.

And so she went, day in and day out, cleaning her lady’s chamber. The fields turned from green to gold as water dripped and dust rose, swirling to lie thick on the wooden floor, no matter how she shuttered the windows against it.

But one day, when ice silvered her bucket and the fields beyond, she did not wake, the deep frost taking her as she slept.

Free once more.


‘Come on then!’ He clattered up the old stone stairs, his feet the last thing visible as he rounded the curve. ‘Scaredy cat!’

The words floated down and she frowned, clenching her small fists. ‘Am not!’ She could hear his laughter, faint, the sound of his feet receding. ‘Hmmph!’

She started to climb. Haunted tower or no, she’d see who the scaredy cat was when they got to the top. Then the screaming began, and she grinned. Serve him right, she thought, remembering the dead rat she’d hung there earlier that day.

Then the screaming stopped. And she saw his feet again.


35 thoughts on “#writephoto – Spiral

  1. This caught me: “a burden I hadn’t realised I’d been carrying…” It’s amazing, isn’t it? So. Loved the first flash. Beautiful in its way. The second. Hmm. I actually loved that one, too, but you got a nice twist in there. (No pun intended.) Nice job on both.

    • Thanks, Sarah. It’s been a bit of an eye-opener, really. I’d been a bit absent this past week anyway, due to still not feeling that well, but I’d always had this thought that I ‘should’ be online, checking things. It was quite nice to have it taken away from me today 🙂
      And thanks for your nice words about my stories 🙂

  2. Shudders. Those are dark alright, but really good. And I can see how they could be connected.

    On the internet-less half-day, yes, those are good. I’ve sometimes wished for our internet to just die on holidays, to force us all into Real Life again. For some reason, doing it voluntarily doesn’t seem to be happening. There’s a really interesting book/study on that called “The Winter of Our Disconnect” – a woman and her family completely shut off all electronics for six months. Thought-provoking.

    • I can just imagine my daughter’s face if I told her no electronics for six months! 😀 That being said, she is a kid who does a whole lot of things and, after her shock wore off, got her pencils and paper and was drawing away quite happily for ages, which was good to see.
      I might have to look up that book and read it – I suppose it’s not an e-book, is it? ;-D
      And thanks for your kind words about my stories – I didn’t realise the connection until I’d written them. I love when things work out that way.
      Hope you’re having a good weekend 🙂

  3. Loved both stories Helen… And it’s terrifying how lost I feel when the internet goes down. I didn’t even have the internet in my house until about 5 years ago – I just used my phone! Now, I feel like I can’t live without it!

    • Yes – it’s interesting how it is so much part of our lives now. When my daughter was so shocked about not having internet, my husband and I both said ‘welcome to our childhood’ How times have changed…

      • Yes! My dad worked for Apple in the 80s so we always had a home computer, but I remember typing up friends’ papers for them, and printing them out – it was a big deal lol

  4. That last story really made me shudder, Helen. So good to see you coming over to the dark side.

    I don’t think I could cope without the internet. However, last summer we were without it for three weeks! My goodness, I got so much done over those three weeks. 😀

  5. Great stories Helen. Really pulled me in. And I have to say re the Internet, sometimes it’s good to have enforced time out. Though my teenage daughter would have been the same as yours. Amazing how dependant we’ve become on it.

    • Thanks Miriam 🙂
      Yes, it is strange how it’s become so much a part of everyday life. I wonder whether it’s due to the human desire to constantly learn? I remember, as I’m sure you do, a time before Internet – it had its positives and its negatives, I guess.

      • It certainly did. I think we’ve reached the age where we seek instant acknowledgement and gratification as well as a desire to learn.

  6. Loved both stories, Helen! Beautifully written and great twist at the end …

    I love being without internet, but we only tend to do it when camping, and even then, we drive into range once or twice to download emails and see what’s been happening in the ‘real’ world—which is perhaps not so ‘real’ and maybe we’re the ones actually living in the ‘real’ world. Whenever I’m without internet, I have so much extra time, and I’m reminded of what life used to be like and it makes me long for it again. The internet has it’s uses and it’s great for connecting with other people—for example, I’ve got to know you in the UK while I’m here in Australia—but it’s also kind of sad that we spend so many waking hours in front of screens, instead of the old-fashioned face-to-face or even voice-to-voice on a telephone.

    • Thank, Louise 🙂
      I was just saying to another commenter how I think the Internet has both positives and negatives – for example, I get very frustrated at concerts when people watch through their phones, blocking other people from seeing the stage, or the constant oversharing that seems to afflict some people. Yet hasn’t it made the world a smaller, more accessible place? Not to mention given writers, artists, musicians a global voice. And, as you say, we would never have got to know each other without internet, though it will be nice one day to (hopefully) meet face-to-face, the old fashioned way 🙂

  7. Good job on both the pieces.
    When I have those times of no internet, I get really irritated but then you are right. Balance has gone off and I’m al the time reading or writing something. Need to exercise some self control 🙂

    • Thanks, Parul, both for your kind words and the insight. It really is self control, isn’t it? The internet is so constantly available it takes conscious effort to not check on things all the time.

  8. Pingback: Spiral – photo prompt round-up #writephoto | Daily Echo

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