The nowhere girl

October 23, 2010

For Amber

(to see her prompt, click here)

 

The nowhere girl dances in the moonlight. From my bedroom window I watch her, taste the languid freedom of her unshackled movements as she taunts me and my sisters: the other girls of our village.

 

I hate the harvest. The fucking harvest. There. I said it.

 

The harvest, brought in by our fathers and brothers, requires our attention. We toil in hard-pressed clothing that digs into our flesh, shaping us into square-limbed tools. My sisters talk of harvesting husbands, and buoy themselves against the strain of our days by the promise of a man to walk them down the aisle.

 

Not me. I spend my days dreaming of the nowhere girl.

 

She was a story, told to us by our mothers when we were children, a cautionary tale for girls telling us to listen to our parents and stay away from the forest and unwed men. My friends and I laughed about her, teased each other when the adults weren’t looking:

 

There goes Astrid (or Milly, or Bianca), she’s gunna dance with the nowhere girl.

 

She isn’t a story any more. Not to me. At night I throw off my clothes and run past the sleeping houses, over the hill and into the forest, where she waits for me. We rampage through the night, dancing, fighting, gnashing teeth at each other and laughing.

 

It is not a sex thing. I know what you are thinking. It is not that.

 

The nowhere girl was just lonely, that’s what I found out. She’s just like me. Couldn’t live in a town, couldn’t carry expectation. She could bear anything, but she didn’t understand how to bear that. She ran because she had to, but she was so lonely.

 

I tell her not to be sad, I’m here now, and I understand. She was right to run away.

 

Will you run away? The nowhere girl is smiling.

 

So one night I do, even though I hadn’t planned to. I ran out of the village, only to run back to my house and leave a note on my pillow. Gone dancing with the nowhere girl.

 

But when I got over the hill and into the forest she was gone.

 

I am lonely.

 

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The Middle

October 12, 2010

The Middle

For Louise (see her prompt here)

 

Heaven comes down with the crash of heavy wood on stretched skins. There are no ethereal, angelic choirs descending from above. The thunder of heaven falls heavy as rain, the beat driving the departed into the hands of their maker.

 

Or so They would have us believe. I don’t buy it.

 

When the truck hit my first-life body and propelled me into the empty street of this middle-life it may have been a shock, but the beating of this rain, this beckoning siren from above, terrified me. I watch countless souls travel up the rhythm towards the afterlife. They seem willing. I’m not.

 

The bible hadn’t mentioned a beating death march to welcome the righteous to heaven, and I couldn’t help but wonder: had I been righteous enough? What if the churchies were wrong? What if heaven was actually down, not up? What the hell was up there?

 

I ran and became a Nothing. There are a few of us, struggling to make a middle-life for ourselves. It isn’t easy, always running towards the first-lifers, always running from the last-lifers. The former won’t acknowledge us; the latter’s always chasing us.

 

I’ve set up a little place in an otherwise empty shopping centre. It allows me to use the one skill I seem to have carried in to the Middle. Back in first-life I had been a knitter. All of my grandchildren had my thick woollen blankets. In fact, they had insisted I had one wrapped across my shoulders in the coffin.

 

I had watched them.

 

Here though, I don’t knit rugs to keep people warm. What the middle-lifers need from me are blankets upon which a rich middle life can be woven. I create cohesion, common sense to wrap around them and upon which their own imaginings can be laid.

 

Back in first –life I was a granny, quietly dying for twenty years, but now in middle-life I’ve been reborn. I’m an outlaw. There isn’t a mid-lifer here who attracts the type of vicious rain I do. Sometimes I have to lash myself to steel fixings to keep from floating up into the intoxicating beat.

 

Once a Gran. Now a half-dead outlaw.

 


Reverse Inspiration Challenge 3: “Book Love”

October 6, 2010

The theme is deceptively simple this time guys. Keen observers of my blog would have noticed the other day that I posted about my belated future shock when I downloaded my first eBooks.

It was so easy, and an enjoyable alternative way to read.

But it made me realise that my kids would probably never love paper books the way I do, because their exposure to them will be so greatly reduced. It feels wrong that my son won’t have a ratty, treasured collection of Batman under his bed.

I find it really interesting that as a (wannabe) writer, the thought of eBooks doesn’t worry me in the slightest, but as a reader it does.

The theme for this comp is that you show your love for books as artefacts! Do this by:

1. Writing a story where a book is central to the plot,

2. Writing a story with books as characters,

3. Write a poem about books.

Minimum word count is 500, maximum is 1,200 words.

Any genre! Submissions are accepted from around the world, and should be sent to dansimmo1 (at) gmail.com.

Writers of any standard are welcome to join in!

Along with the opportunity to have their story on my blog, their are two prizes (so far) up for grabs, chosen this time to fit the theme. They are both finely crafted examples of the book form. It also doesn’t hurt that the artists are incredibly talented Australian writers as well.

1. Sourdough and Other Stories, by Angela Slatter.

This beautiful book is one of two collections Slatter has put out this year.

You can find out more about Angela here, and about Sourdough and Other Stories here.

To see how Tartarus create their amazing books click here.

2. Glitter Rose, by Marianne de Pierres.

Published by the giant killing Twelfth Planet Press, Glitter Rose is a compact impressively pink hardcover containing beautiful artwork.

To find out more about Glitter Rose, click here.

To find out more about Marianne de Pierres click here.

3. The Arrival and Sketches from a Nameless Land, by Shaun Tan

This award winning wordless picture book has been lauded near and far, and has now been released in a special edition that includes a secondary book of sketches that were made over the course of The Arrival’s creation. Truly a remarkable piece of art.

Find out more about The Arrival here, and Shaun himself, here.

To see a copy of this special edition of the book, click here.

***

THE COMPETITION IS NOW OPEN.

ALL ENTRIES MUST BE RECEIVED BY MIDNIGHT ON THE 15th NOVEMBER 2010 (WESTERN AUSTRALIAN TIME)

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!


Call for Inspiration: “Music”

October 1, 2010

Hi guys,

Same deal as always – you give me the inspiration, I give you flash fiction!

The theme this time is music! Name a song, or even music style you love, I’ll listen and write you something.

Send them in – multiple inspirations required!