A Walk to Remember

This evening, I went for a walk. It was on the usual track, weaving through the neighbour’s macadamias, past the dam and through the farm. All up, about 1.5km. Usually, it is a very pleasant stroll, particularly in the early morning when the air is cool and crisp and the dew shimmering on the spiderwebs. Today, however, I decided to go in the late evening, just at the bridge between sunset and night.
When it is night, nature takes on a whole different form. What are mice scurrying in the leaves become the shuffles of menacing murderers gripping axes. The sound of an owl welcoming the night turns into the screams of ghostly monsters, waiting to take from you all that they have lost. The DVD of Anne of Green Gables has been replaced with the Exorcist.

At first, when I was still in the fields, I enjoyed the walk. It was after I entered the second leg, through the macadamia forest, when things took a turn for the worst. The refreshing cool of the evening turned into the deadly chill of a winters night and the open grass was switched for a darkened forest. Rows upon rows of densely packed macadamias adorned the sides of the track, a thick blanket of dry leaves that projected every movement covering the ground beneath them. Every scuffle of rodents, every falling nut sounded like the heavy tread of death.
When I was well into the macadamia thicket, about 50 metres ahead of me, a large shape slowly crossed the track. I paused, caught between curiosity and running away screaming. I knew that I had no choice but to keep going.
At this point, wariness turned into full blown fear. Every shape in the distance seemed to be the silhouette of a killer and every sound his foot step. As I walked, I pondered titles of books that could be written about my potential fate (Murder in the Macadamias, Felony at the Farm and Homicide near the Home were a few of my favourites).
Finally, I reached my neighbour’s house. I was so close to home, the only thing between me and safety a rainforest. Needless to say I walked fast.
I don’t think I have ever been so relieved to reach home.

Advertisements

30 Day Writing Challenge- Day 5

Pick a letter of the alphabet. Now imagine two your local supermarket. List every food found in it that begins with that letter of the alphabet.
(altered slightly)

My letter: A
Avocados
Apples
Asparagus
Apricots
Artichoke
Almonds
Anchovies
Arrowroot biscuits
Apple Juice
Almond milk
Aubergine
Arugula
Apple pie
Applesauce

I am having a mental blank.

30 Day Writing Challenge- Day 4

I’m sorry, I’ve been a terribly slack writer. Here is day 4, slightly late and quickly done.

Write a story/excerpt to include the line, “Sorry, we can’t insure you for a journey like that.

Jeremy Finch sighed. He knew that this house wasn’t going to result in a sale. The rusting washing machines and car skeletons that sat amidst the waist-high tangle of weeds was a dead give away that the residents of number 12 Wood Lane would not be interested in insurance. Still, it was on the rounds and Jeremy prided himself on consistency.

It hadn’t been a good morning for Jeremy, the number one door-to-door sales representative for Smile Hard! Insurance. So far, he had only been able to convince one elderly woman to invest in life insurance for her pet cat. She had wanted to discuss every aspect of Ginger’s life with him, to ensure that she signed up for the plan perfectly suited to their needs and had asked him to detail every plan on offer before settling on the first one he’d suggested. When Jeremy had finally closed the deal and warded off any further offers of tea, he was an hour behind schedule. After that, he had had three people slam the door before he could say a word, one of them muttering about those ‘bloody Jesus people’. The other dozen were polite, and some had seem genuinely interested, but in the end had decided not to sign up. 

Now, it was almost 3pm and Jeremy was desperate for a coffee. Just one last street and he would be finished for the day. He hoped that Clive Williams, Smile Hard! Insurance’s number two sales representative, had had a even worse day.

Jeremy walked up to the door, gingerly stepping over the weeds and shuddering at the thought of what this might be doing to his new Egyptian cotton trousers. He knocked, and felt the maroon paint flake beneath his knuckles. Secretly, he hoped no-one would answer. It the seemed the type of place that would be filled with dirty dishes and dirty mattresses on which drug dealers and prostitutes slept, not the well-to-do folk who bought insurance.

Just when Jeremy had turned around to leave, the door opened, unexpectedly revealing a young girl of about seven or eight, dressed in a dirty nightdress. “Hello, dear”, Jeremy said, affixing his face with his most winning smile. “Are your parents around?” The girl nodded and disappeared down the hall. A moment later, a young woman appeared with bleached hair, lines on her face and a cigarette in her mouth.

“Yes”, she barked, her voice seeming to crack under the strain. Jeremy paused, unsure of how to continue. But he knew the script, so he said what he was hired to with his most winning. “Hello, ma’am. You’re looking nice today. My name is Jeremy Finch from Smile Hard! Insurance. I was wondering whether we might like to talk about some plans to protect the future well being of your family and treasured possessions.” He faltered, realizing exactly how ridiculous that sounded among the decrepit home and overgrown garden. The women didn’t really appear to be listening, and she fumbled in the pocket of her over sized jacket for another cigarette.

“Insurance, hey”. Her eyes seemed unfocused, appeared to be looking but not seeing. “Can you insure me away to heaven?” Now she focused on Jeremy’s shoes, the Calvin Klein pair which he had shined only this morning. Her feet were bare, and decorated by long-forgotten chipped nail polish. The woman laughed, a cold, bitter sound full of pain and longing. Jeremy was rapidly becoming uneasy. He thought of his shower, aqua tiles against clear glass, and inexplicably wished he was in it. “Sorry, we can’t insure you for a journey like that”, he stammered. “Now, if that will be all, I must be going. Thank you for your time”.

Jeremy Finch strode through the grass towards the car that shone in the sunlight, watched by the woman whose eyes no longer did.

30 Day Writing Challenge- Day 3

Write about the worst time you’ve ever put your foot in your mouth.
When I first read this last night I struggled to think of an answer. Perhaps it’s because when faced with embarrassing incidents, my mind’s immediate reaction is to block it out, to erase or at least bury the incident. For the most part it works, but occasionally awful memories will surface causing me to inwardly cringe. When this happens, I will begin to talk about anything, as to distract the audience from whatever is playing out in my head.
I have said my fair share of stupid things. Perhaps one of the worst was when I was about eight or nine and at school. I had compared the noise of something (I can’t recall what) to that of someone having a baby (in fact it sounded like nothing of the sort). In its self, this would generally be harmless, however it was in the presence of a teacher who had recently miscarried. The teacher then told me what a terrible sense of humour I had in front of my 20 odd classmates, promptly extinguished any desire I had harboured to become a comedian.
After this occurred, I was hurt, confused and had no idea what I had done to warrant such a reaction. At this time, the students had not been officially told that the teacher had miscarried and indeed I probably wasn’t aware that babies could be lost. It wasn’t a particularly funny or witty thing to say, but most unfortunate under the circumstances. What my teacher said to me then made a huge impression and to this day I often finding myself pondering it.
I believe that my teacher certainly wasn’t in the right saying what she did to a child, but I understand why she did. She must have still been reeling from the shock of having something so terrible happen to her and having someone mention childbirth must have taken her straight back to what she had just been through. I regret making the comment and that memory for me will always be one associated with shame.

30 Day Writing Challenge- Day 2

Tell about a character who lost something important to him/her.

As Mr Miller gently lowered the body into the grave, a single tear slipped down Mary’s face. Robbie, while not the most intelligent creature, had been a good, faithful dog and she was certainly going to miss him. However, he had lived for thirteen years, and had had a life full of love and care until his death last night in his sleep. Since Mary’s back had began to play up a few years ago, Robbie perhaps didn’t get quite a many walks as he may of liked but overall she felt that he’d had a good run of it.

“Thank you for coming, Mr Miller, I really couldn’t have handled the hole myself”. Mr Miller lived across the road, and when she had met him this morning putting out the bins  he had offered to dig the grave.

“It’s no trouble, Mrs Rogers. I didn’t like to think of you here all alone having to bury the poor thing yourself.”

“It was really very kind of you. After we’ve finished, would you like to come in for a cup of tea? The house will seem so empty without Robbie pottering around and I have a packet of biscuits I’ve been waiting to open for a while.”

“That sounds just fine”, he replied, smiling at her.

As he began to fill in the grave, Mary thought about Mr Miller. Though had moved in over a year ago with his wife and two teenaged children, she had never had much to do with the family apart from some brief greetings if they happened to meet in the street. He was a tall man, perhaps in his early forties, with sandy hair slightly greying at the temples and eyes the colour of a Caribbean sea. His elder son, who would be about 15, reminded Mary almost painfully of her late son, dear Henry. Though they differed in appearance, there was something in his manner, maybe his light, almost graceful gait or his understated, shy smile that made her particularly fond of the boy.

Mr Miller patted the last of the dirt onto the grave and stood up, wiping sweat off his brow.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to take you up on that cup of tea as it will make me reach boiling point”, he laughed.

“How about some sherry? I have some in the kitchen, just for cooking, of course”.

“Oh, alright. As long as you don’t tell the wife.”

As they moved into the house Mr Miller paused, examining the photos that adorned the mantlepiece. “Are they your kids?” he asked, pointing at a picture taken of the family when Janet and Henry were about fourteen and twelve.

“Yes, yes. That’s my late husband, Walter, God rest his soul. That’s Janet, she is a teacher over in America, and that’s Henry, who is unfortunately no longer with us”

“I’m very sorry for your losses. If you don’t mind me saying so, Mrs Rogers, you were a bit of a dish. Are they your grandkids?” moving onto another picture.

Mary laughed. “Thank you. Yes, they’re Janet’s girls.”

It had been a while since Mary had seen Janet’s family. It was hard to believe Julie, the eldest child, would be turning sixteen in a few weeks. Mary only remembered her as a little girl of nine, tugging at her Nan’s dress to show her a painting. It was hard to know what teenagers of today liked, but with the help of a shop assistant who had assured her that it was ‘like, the new thing’, she had selected a poster book of a boy band as well as a scarf Mary had spent weeks knitting. Mary wanted the gift to be something special, something that Julie would remember so in the folds of the wrapping paper she had placed a gold brooch that had been her mother’s. It was shaped like a bird in flight, very pretty and very expensive.

“The states, hey.” said Mr Miller, snapping Mary from her reverie. “That must be a bit of a trip. Where abouts are they?”

“They live in Los Angeles. I’ve never been though. I don’t think I’m up to traveling and they’re very busy over there and don’t have much time to journey all this way.”

Mary worried about them, so far away and in Los Angeles, a place that seemed to be rife with drug wars, crime, slums and God knows what else according to the papers. She didn’t like to think of her only grand children growing up among dirt and squalor, even if Janet insisted that they lived in one of the nicest parts of the city. Probably one of the most expensive too, as Janet’s husband Scott earned a hefty salary as a dentist. Mary secretly thought Scott was the dullest person she had had the displeasure to meet thus far and dread the times when he was would answer the phone, but Janet seemed content. Janet was a P.E teacher in the nice private school the girls attended. She had always loved sport, and excelled particularly in long distance running. Mary was glad Janet was doing something she enjoyed, though privately she thought her only daughter had a too monotonous delivery to leave any sort of lasting impression on students. Still, like she had always done, Janet would produce a satisfactory result, not exceptional but not displeasing.

Mary realized that she had again slipped into her own thoughts and was neglecting her guest. She smiled apologetically at Mr Miller and went to fetch the drinks and biscuits.

Later, after Mr Miller had returned to his own family, Mary was left alone in the house. Once it had been a very nice home, but now with no one to do any work on it, the place was falling into a state of disrepair. Mary tried her hardest to keep on top of the housework, but her bad back only allowed her small periods of activity and it was quite a big house, even bigger now there was no family to fill it with life. Still, she soldiered on and made sure to keep the guest room and parlour especially nice in case of any unexpected visitors.

Indeed, it seemed huge now, without even Robbie to fend away some of the emptiness. Janet wanted her mother to move into a retirement home, but Mary had always refused, insisting that she had lived most of her life here and was going to die in her home. Now, however, she wondered if Janet might be right. Her back was only going to get worse, and all alone something might happen and no one would know! There was a nice looking place just out of town, with a miniature golf course. Retirement homes were really like a permanent hotel, only more personalized, weren’t they? And they were full of bridge clubs and other social gatherings. She would have to remember to phone up, just take a look to see if it might be for her…

The piano was open, and Mary ran her fingers over the keys. She remembered when the children used to take lessons on it. Janet had applied herself with the indifference that earned her middling marks at school, but Henry had really taken to it. While Janet plodded through the pieces with not an ounce of passion, Henry had danced through them with emotion and perfect technique. When Mary was finally unable to bear Janet’s total lack of talent and had discontinued lessons, Henry opted to stay on and excelled. Walter, who was an accomplished clarinetist, used to play duets with Henry. One year, they had even performed at the annual town concert. Mary smiled at that memory. Walter had been such a good father, always finding time to practice with Henry or attend Janet’s netball games. She really missed him and when he had died from a stroke seven years ago she had hardly the strength to go on.  “Still, the good Lord knows when it is time to give and take”, she murmured.

But sitting alone in the dust coated house at age 82, with her roses wilting and the grass badly needing mown, she wasn’t so sure.

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day 1

Day 1 —Select a book at random in the room. Find a novel or short story, copy down the last sentence and use this line as the first line of your new story.

Book selected – Rebecca

by Daphne du Maurier

And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea. Evelyn laughed, a sound of utter delight, the type that comes from a child’s mouth when he is presented with a new puppy or train set. The flames roared, burning brilliant against the night as they consumed the house.
“Come on, Evelyn. We’ll get caught!”, I said plaintively, turning away from the dying cottage.
“Just look. Isn’t it beautiful? A real improvement”. She grinned. “We should start a home improvement business. Evelyn and Sophie’s renovations- we supply the matches.”
“I don’t want to look. This is your work, not mine.”

“I said LOOK.” She grabbed my arm, swiveling me around roughly to face the fire. “You’re here, you swiped the matches. And I’m sure the cops will be very interested to know how you forced me to do this.” Again, Evelyn smiled and her savage expression melted into one of innocence, kindness and sincerity. Now her features where those of a model teenager’s- someone who did their homework, practiced piano and picked up litter on weekends. I knew she could pull it off, make me look like the perpetrator and her the victim with the twist of her words, her subtle charisma and the enviable talent of bursting into tears at will. I, with my stammering, blushing and unfortunate talent of making myself look guilty, would make an easy scapegoat. At the thought, bile rose in my throat.
“But I know it won’t come to that. We’re friends, best friends, Soph.” She looped her thin arm around my shoulders and gestured towards the burning wreck. “It’s such a lovely night, and we’re really doing a good deed. Nothing ever happens here- tomorrow the paper will be full of it. Everyone will be talking about this for weeks- look, there goes Mrs Donaldson’s petunias. Oh well, ash is a great fertiliser!” She glanced at my face. “Stop sulking, will you? You know you love it, the thrill. And it looks stunning!”
Grudgingly, I had to admit the effect was magnificent. The flames lit up the night, stretching tall into the trees. Evelyn was beautiful, her sharp features illuminated by the soft light. The face that made every boy stop and stare was entranced and enhanced by the light and as if under a spell she moved closer to the flames, only stopping when the heat became unbearable. That night, she seemed a goddess, glorious, powerful and untouchable.

In that moment, staring at the fire and Evelyn, I felt a stirring deep inside myself. My whole body shivered with adrenaline and as I gazed at our handiwork I felt a kind of euphoria. There I was, a junkie high on flames. I almost laughed as I remembered why I was here. This feeling was why we went, time and time again, to garbage bins, mailboxes, sheds, and now houses. For these five minutes of glory, we would stop at nothing.
Far away, the sirens sounded and we melted into the night.

Salutations

Good morning/afternoon/evening and I hope that everything is well in your life. My name is Emily, I’m 13 and I honestly have the faintest idea about what I am doing. I hail from the great southern land, Oz, down under, Australia. Pleased to make your acquaintance.

I love reading, knitting and Netflix but most of all I love to write. I love to make others laugh and cry and feel. I love how with words, trees, buildings, people and worlds can be conjured out of thin air and brought to life. To me, words are so much more than lines on paper. They are as sentient as you or me once given a hungry reader. They can be epic tales of love and loss, echoes of forgotten dreams, or like in here, simply stories from an ordinary life, nothing particularly exciting but nonetheless true. This is a chronicle of me.
Welcome to my words.