The Endless Web

In the silver dusk the slender black limbs stretched towards the last glimmers of dwindling light. Winter had stripped leaves and cast a stony silence in the air, only to be cut by the shrill sounds of the wind.

Within the depths of the sinews below – winding ribbons the ashy shade of a thunderous sky – a movement broke the stillness. The weaving strands seemed to cavort, twisting and turning, until a spiral opened up the dry earth. Pale fingers arose. Through the haze delicate arms were revealed.

She clambered upwards, untangling herself from the silvery sinews that had entwined her body like a spider’s web. In the struggle to pull up the great plumes of her skirt, the red ribbon that held her hair neatly was ripped against the black bark of a nearby trunk. As she rose to her feet, sleek, a soft cascade of chestnut hair flowed down her back. Her startled eyes drank the scene.

Before she could step forward, a creature swept towards her with white wings, speckled with gold. The owl plunged not at the girl, but to where the twisting streams of her entrance. Exposed, the red ribbon was laid limp, like the body of a wounded soldier left to die. Rescued by the soft feathered creature, the ribbon was carried to its owner. The sharp talons left only half the ribbon in the hands of the girl. She clutched at the strand, staring first at the frayed end; then, fearfully, she eyed the huge bird before her small frame. A quiet gasp. Dark eyes rimmed with deep blue just like her own. But these had a strength to them – these eyes were wise. She blinked and yet the flutter of her eyelashes did not change what she saw.

It was at this moment, during her realisation, that her mind was cast back to the last time she had visited the forest. Her face had been even more delicate, yet to be carved with the beauty, the raised cheekbones of a princess. While her hands were not built with the strength of a woman, her slight body was able to wind its own way out of the tangled streams.

She remembered those years of stumbling through different worlds, falling into the depths as the spiralling bands pulled her dainty feet. Sinking into darkness and rising up through the next weaving ribbons of grey. Aimlessly wandering through the abandoned places until her next fall.

Those had been long forgotten memories, just bad nightmares, until now. Now there was no escape.

***

The owl had gone when she opened her eyes. She felt the prickles of sweat beading on her temples, but began to run. She was so fast, dashing to dodge the towering trees, that her feet were unharmed by the threatening looms of ashen grey. But soon she became tired. Not because her body was exhausted, but because she was lost. Everywhere was the same: desolate silver air pierced by the shrieking wind; misty grey sky shattered into pieces by the fine branches. She felt a ring of the cold grey vine snag her foot. Like an animal she had been caught. She felt herself lose control of her body, plummeting down. Soon the darkness encased her completely. She closed her eyes, to shut out this strange and haunting world. But this couldn’t stop the dizzying feeling as she tumbled through time, spinning madly. Her hands trembled, still clutching at the ribbon.

When she finally felt stable and the dizziness had died away, she opened her eyes slowly. She could feel the dim light of her next world filtering through the threads above her. This time she didn’t reach up and explore the next place. She couldn’t bear it any longer. Even the weight of the strands pushing down on her shoulders was too much knowing what it was. Knowing that in every fibre was the soul of another of the dead. That was what pulled her down every time – their desperation. She knew that if she stayed she would only join them, she would only be consumed by the darkness and become eternally ensnared in the endless web. The only other hope was to become a guardian. But hers had left her in her thoughtful daze, so how could she hope to become one?

Maybe it’s time, she thought. A last look into the pale light. For the last time, she closed her eyes.

***

Her wings were beautiful and golden.

(748 words)


This is a response to the Grammar Ghoul Press Writing Challenge #14

Word prompt:

Cavort (noun):
Jump or dance around excitedly.
(Definition #1)

Visual prompt:

may-the-reunion

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A Tender Smile in a Desolate Place

 In the breeze I watch the dance of my dark curls,

My eyes, those dark enchanting pools where tears

Threaten to spill even after all these years

On the fresh skin of a blossoming girl.

My own flesh and blood, this reflection of me

Will never hear the words I long to speak,

Or the longing to give the love she seeks,

Ravaging my existence with agony.

Rosy lips murmur the words that I crave;

Three little words replenish my void heart,

That withered during our time apart-

Like the crumbling letters on the worn grave.

She rests the marigolds on the beaten ground,

Golden and vibrant against the old grey,

And slides her delicate fingers all the way

Across the cold stone without a sound.

A warmth was imbued by her tender smile

I’d forgotten in this desolate place.

Fifteen years of beauty glows on her face,

Bringing rare life to a place so hostile

All too soon her fragile frame moves on:

With aching loneliness she leaves me here,

Her last lingering turn reveals a tear-

A whisper of goodbye and she is gone.

This is a response to Challenge #4 of the Grammar Ghoul Press Writing Challenge. This week’s prompt was void (adj.) and this video called “Dia De Los Muertos”.

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Unrequited Love

In the bitter air Guy’s lips trembled slightly. He took time wandering across the bustle of the city street, secretly revelling in the chance to watch the tall figure who hadn’t yet seen him.  Against the black sky, the object of his stares stood, his jaw illuminated by the streetlight. With his arms crossed over his chest, the man leaned and threw casual glances every now and again to check his friend had not passed by. He didn’t understand how impossible that could be.

Guy composed himself, but he could not control his racing thoughts. Approaching his friend, they shared a greeting smile.

‘Patrick,’ his breath flowed out in plumes of white in the cold air. Glad of this distraction from his burning secret he was sure his eyes and fixed mouth betrayed, he allowed his friend to speak.

‘It’s great to see you! I’ve been so busy since Caitlin had the baby. God, the business has taken off, too-I’m working late almost every night. But, honestly, it’s great,’ he sighed with a pensive smile, ‘Anyway, enough of me. How are you, Guy?’ He shoved his friend’s arm, which was considerably smaller than his. Guy nodded and shifted his weight from side to side.

Following Patrick’s lead, they advanced to cross the street. Patrick was oblivious to Guy’s peripheral glances, stolen and short. ‘I’ve been good. Yeah, just um,’ he paused. He was distracted, lost in the strong lines and curves.

‘So what made you recommend here?’ Patrick motioned to the facade of the museum, aged and invaded by moss, long from its former glory.

‘I’ve been getting into art again, especially Bacon,’ he raised his voice over the buzzing engines as they reached the other side of the street. Slick with fresh rain, the pavement glimmered. It was yet to freeze over.

‘Oh,’ Patrick turned to his friend, a surprised but amiable expression crossing his face. ‘Have you been painting anything yourself?’

‘No.’

Guy almost forced his hand to his forehead out of frustration. He had said it too quickly. He was sure his lies had been revealed. Yet Patrick continued his confident stride up the steps, absent-minded. Relief filled Guy’s chest. Nothing could stop him from thinking of his paintings. They flashed in his mind. All beautiful and strong, just as he had imagined it would be, but he had always go the same thing wrong. He could never get the mouth right.

‘It’s a shame,’ Guy adjusted himself as they entered the warmth of the museum, which was white with sparkling polished floors. ‘Caitlin always loved your work.’

Guy almost laughed. But he managed to restrain himself. She certainly would not love his most recent work. He thought of her body, limp and lifeless, broken and beaten-dead. Stop, he told himself. He had to be more careful.

‘She’ll be here in half an hour,’ Patrick flicked the glare of his phone screen off and shoved it back into his pocket. ‘Do you think we could wait in the entrance for her, or did you want to start?’

I could wait all night, Guy’s lips crept into a smirk. ‘Yes,’ he turned to the doors, where the rush of the city could still be faintly heard, ‘Sure.’

Seated in the tired old chairs of the museum entrance, surrounded by cabinets of faded leaflets, Patrick tried to question his friend. Concern, unable to be concealed, twisted his mouth. The small talk was over, now he had to ask the question. Guy was preoccupied with his carefully laid out plans. If it wasn’t for the thrill of thoughts of what was to come of the night, he would have snatched more lustful looks.

‘How are you, really? Are you okay?’ Patrick looked down, ‘I know it’s been two years since your… breakdown, but–‘ He trailed off. He didn’t know how to end that sentence, or, more importantly, if he wanted to.

‘I’m fine,’ he tried to look sincere, but he was annoyed. Why did he have to bring that up?  

Soon, he would get what he wanted. He held in a burst of excitement as he imagined their screaming faces, contorted with pain. Slipping his hand into his coat pocket, he felt the cool blade of the knife. Soon. Then, he would get the mouth right-the mouth would be perfect. Through the glass door he saw her blonde head bob out of the taxi. Now it’s time. Now, whatever consequences I reap

(743 words)

FrancisBacon-PopeX


This is a response to the Grammar Ghoul Press Writing Challenge. 

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Hermit

I’m done with the male species, or maybe

It’s away from all people I wish to flee:

The first ever spinster sixteen years old,

In the future my story will be told

I’ll be a hermit in a cave somewhere,

With a  small sign to say: strangers beware!

Alone with my thoughts to write out all day,

And read books until I’m all old and grey.

Happy little hermit, that’s what I’ll be,

Of the problems of people I’ll be free;

No need for makeup, no one to impress,

I can even bare my hairy legs, yes!

I’ll die alone an old sagging soul,

Smiling as death swallows my body whole-

Because I lived a content cave dweller,

They’ll write my tale into a bestseller.


(just to clarify, this is a jokey poem. I don’t actually want to become a hermit, though sometimes the idea is tempting!)

Dear Emma

Dear Emma,

I’m sorry about your funeral. I know it will be nothing like the way you would want it, but you never thought you’d have to  plan your funeral at twenty one. Your family probably mean the best for you, and I know how much they miss you. I want you to know that.

It’s been a week today. The funeral is this afternoon and I have my black suit laid out on the bed. I still wake up every morning and forget in that first fatigued moment that you’re not here anymore. But, I am beginning to accept, in small steps, that there’s no way I can bring you back. There’s no way to reverse time, reverse that car. You’d probably blame yourself, but I know you’re too careful.

My mind keeps replaying that night. You’d been gone for hours before I got the call. Your parents first, then some other relatives, then your best friends. And finally, Katie rang me. I wished so much that I didn’t have to meet your parents for the first time in the hospital through tears. Nobody expect Katie and Erin even knew me. The tall dark haired guy dabbing his tears with his sleeve.

I told myself and keep telling myself that you’d want me to be happy; and I know I’d want the same if our positions were reversed. God, why couldn’t it have been me?

Still, I can’t bear to put that suit on. How do I tell these strangers that I loved their Emma, when it is you I want to tell? I love you, it’s as simple as that. No frills necessary. You always knew that’s the way I am. And I like to think that you liked me because of it.

When we met at uni, only eight months ago, I remember how you hated me. I was too lazy, while you slogged away only to do just as well as me. Your messy blonde hair would always be buried in a book in the library. It took you weeks to realize that despite my laid back attitude, I frequented the library as much as you. Those first times we caught each other’s eyes, I remember the sizzle of surprise light up your big dark eyes. The first time you spoke, asking playfully if I was stalking you, and I had to remind you we were one the same course. Now I have to stalk through those long library corridors alone, your messy mop of yellow gone.

It took  me a long time to convince you to go on a date, and then it turned out to be a disaster anyway! Do you remember, I took you bowling and accidentally dropped the ball on your foot? Not so smooth… Yet, something made you allow me to take you out again. And again. Then, finally you were my girlfriend.

I never told you those three little words enough. You deserved so much better than me, so much more in this life you’d been working so hard to lead. I know you would have been a bad-ass teacher, and a bad-ass mother for that matter. You had so much love to give to the children you wanted to teach one day, and the children you never got to have. And all that love was taken away from the world.

I can hear Katie on the phone. She let me stay here, at her house for the funeral. It’s so weird seeing your hometown, your life before us. The suit is still folded neatly on Katie’s flowery duvet. My hands are trembling. Emma, I’m doing this for you. I will put on that suit and walk into the church and it doesn’t matter if I cry, or if I mess up my words, because I love you. I’m sorry for all the wrongs done to you in dying so young and so full of hope for the future. I’m sorry I wasn’t more worthy of you. But I loved you and I do and I will, forever. It hurts so much. I love you, Emma.

Yours,

Will

Prompt: Writing 101: To Whom it May Concern