How they kill the city.

They silence him, but his shadow shouts on – a nightmare scream that fills the room, echoes down the corridors. They shut the door, but the scream spills under it. They brick up the doorway, plaster over it, so that you’d never know the room was there, but the scream remains.

They leave the house. Ivy grows over the walls, blocks the windows, but the scream continues. They bulldoze the damn house, but still the scream is there. People move away. The street empties. No-one can live there.

The neighbourhood thins out. Empty houses can’t be filled. The scream just spreads, filling the whole city. It won’t be drowned by sirens, car horns, piped music. People leave their homes, their jobs – relocate.  The scream is alone, echoing down silent streets of boarded-up shops, empty apartment buildings. Dandelions split the tarmac.

Bjorn is hosting prosery night at dVerse. It’s our only prose prompt – 144 words, including a line from a poem. Tonight’s line comes from Maya Angelou’s Caged Bird: “his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream”. 

Measure twice, cut once III

I wove the fabric for the princess’s wedding gown, so I know it’s perfect, but for one small flaw.

I wove it over the winter, a special commission. Pure white, reflecting the colours of the world. I didn’t use white thread, though – I used the soft grey wool from a lamb’s throat, jaybird feathers, words torn from old love letters, wisps of grass, dried violets, a single thread of my own brown hair. As I wove, I whispered old words over them, san fold songs – songs of snow and ice, of clouds and gulls and seafoam. I made white through my own will.

I sew the wedding gown, knowing the princess will look like a rose flowering in the snow. The prince will turn and look at her, and his face will light up – as it lit up when he used to look at me.

I smile as I stitch, embroidering the snowy cloth with flowers – roses, lilies, snowdrops. When it’s finished, there’s just that one flaw – that single thread of my hair, dancing across the train. I leave it there, just to remind him of me.

Ok, this is the third draft of this small story, for Tanya Cliff’s Writer’s Workshop at GoDogGo cafe.  This week we’re thinking about our opening – using a single sentence or paragraph to introduce character and conflict.

This means I’ve had to sacrifice my best sentence, but you have to kill your babies in this game.


Measure twice, cut once.

Even if I was blindfolded, I could tell what fabric I’m cutting from the sound it makes. This one is heavy, expensive, made to drape like water or snow across a girl’s hips. I know, because I wove it.

I wove it over the winter, a special commission. Pure white, reflecting back the colours of the world. I didn’t use white thread, though – I used the soft grey wool from a lamb’s throat, feathers from a jay, words torn tenderly from the love letters he sent me, whisps of grass, dried violets, a single thread of my own brown hair. I wove them carefully, whispering the old words over them, singing the old songs – songs of snow and ice, of white clouds, of gulls, of sea-foam. I made them white through my own will.

And now, I’m cutting and stitching, to make a wedding gown for a princess. She will look like a rose flowering in the snow. The prince will turn and look at her, and his face will light up, the way it used to light up when he saw me.

I smile as I stitch, a mistress at work. I embroider the smooth white cloth with snowdrops and lilies, with white roses and lily of the valley. When it’s finished, there’s only one flaw – that single thread of my hair, dancing on the surface of the train. I leave it there, just to remind him of me.

Over at Go Dog Go, Tanya Cliffis hosting a series of writing workshops. She’s given us a theme – Measure Twice, Cut Once – and asks us to put up a first draft this week, to be worked on over the next few weeks.

This is my first draft. I think my pronouns are probably a bit baggy, and I’m not sure how easy it is to work out who is who. But it’s a first draft, so I’m not being too fussy.

Prosery: between heartbeats.

If I concentrate, I can slip between the molecules in the wall. I can absorb the energy of a bullet, make it my own. There are moments caught between heartbeats when I can stretch time. I’m not sure what that makes me – angel? demon? blessed or cursed?

I’ve always done this: slithered out of my own body, wriggled under the skin of lovers. I have survived car crashes, conflagrations; I’ve sought vengeance: spread my fingers in the rapist’s brain; I’ve sought mayhem – guided the arrow that started the battle.

I have watched everything I love grow old and worn. I’ve moved on and started over a thousand times. I’ve passed through ice and flames. I’m not even sure of my own name now, wouldn’t recognise myself in a mirror – except for my eyes. There are galaxies in there, burning in the darkness. I’m lonely.

Kim is hosting the prosery prompt tonight at dVerse. What’s prosery, I hear you cry? A piece of prose, 144 words, incorporating a line from a poem chosen by the host. Tonight the line is from Louis MacNeice – “there are moments caught between heartbeats”


Damn cow

A cow is screaming across the arroyo. I’m sweating, but my mouth is dry – my lips taste of dust when I lick them. I feel like screaming, too. The cow won’t last the night. We lit a fire to keep away night creatures and it’s comforting. If the damn cow would stop screaming I might get some sleep.

Tomorrow, I’ll dig for water.

The moon is bright and there are more stars than I’ve ever seen before. A few nights ago we had the strength to sing, but now we’re too exhausted. We passed more abandoned cars today, found some melted sweets, licked the papers for the taste of sugar. We can’t keep going, but we can’t stop either.

The cow screams again. Somebody swears at it, and we all laugh. What else can we do?

Linda is hosting at dVerse tonight, and it’s prosery night – 144 word flash fiction, incorporating a quote. Tonight’s quote is from Jim Harrison – “a cow is screaming across the arroyo”. I had to look up arroyo – it’s a dried up creek bed.

Party animal – prosery for dVerse

He was so gorgeous. It was hard to believe – she’d met him on the train, mentioned the party – and now, look, here he was, putting up decorations. She couldn’t remember buying such life-like bats, or such realistic cobwebs, but the room looked amazing. Her fingers absently rubbed the sticky patch on her throat, where moments ago he had set his lips.

How beautiful he was, and how creative! He’d transformed her flat-pack flat into a dark, mysterious boudoir.

He turned and grinned at her.

“If it’s darkness we’re having, let it be extravagant” he murmured. “I can’t wait to meet your friends. Are they all as warm and beatiful as you?”.

He held out his hand and she drifted towards him, unable to help herself. She needed the feel of his mouth on her throat again.

Victoria is running the dVerse bar tonight, and introducing us to Jane Kenyon. It’s prosery night, and the weather here is awful – it’s cold and wet, with intermittent hail. The perfect night to sit around the fire and swap spooky stories. More stories over at dVerse – and the quotation we have to fit into our 144 word prose is “If it’s darkness we’re having, let it be extravagant”. Come and play.

The Castle – flash fiction

It’s not even a castle, just two walls and a narrow tower. A folly, mum called it, and warned me away from it, and the cool kids who hung out there.

I didn’t listen, though. I was thrilled when Danny took me there. I thought I’d made it.

I didn’t expect the fumbling hands, the panic, the fear, the fall onto the jagged rocks. And the blood. So much blood.

The cool kids have started coming back now. Joints like fairy lights, tinny music, and whispered ghost stories. I listen. They’re finally talking about me.

100 words for Sammi’s weekend writing prompt. 


Her fingers flew

Nobody was coming.

Her fingers flew over the keyboard. She’d accepted that there was no escape, but she wanted to tell their story, so that if anyone came here, they would know not to go into the lava tunnels, not to disturb what was down there.

She wondered if there was anyone else left, now. There had been screams from the infirmary, but they had quietened now. She might be the only person alive on this world.

Not for long, though. The creatures would find her eventually, might be outside the door even now. She typed on, frantically.


For this week’s Carrot Ranch challenge – flying fingers. 

Rats and Poison

When both Granmas wanted houses, we couldn’t build out, so up we went. They got on “like rats and poison”, daddy said, eyes rolling.

Rats was fat. Weird things came out of the water in those days, but she turned them into feasts. Poison had a small still. After Mamma left,  Rats’ cooking and Poison’s liquor kept the place going.

Rats began her day clashing pans together. Poison ended hers playing the banjo,  keeping Rats awake. They never spoke.

They died the same year. After Rats went, Poison gave up the banjo, and just faded away.

Photo by JS Brand. Prompt by Rochelle, 100 words for the Friday Fictioneers. 

A sense of self – for MLM’s Menagerie

I remember being left behind, because they were always doing that. Turning back and giggling, faces close, dressed the same, as if they had some codeword.

Maybe they did.

I sometimes tried to follow them, but they would run ahead, until all I could hear was their laughter. Then I’d pretend I’d just gone into the woods to gather berries, or leaves. I’d pretend I didn’t care.

I pretended so hard, for so long, that I lost track of what I cared about. I was like a locked book, key lost in the forest.

A quick flash of fiction for a wet Sunday and Mindlovemisery…