The Ring

Just thought I’d try a little writing exercise, taken from an online monthly writing competition. I didn’t made the deadline to submit but enjoyed the process and story enough to continue. The only rule I didn’t keep was the 500-word limit – I think I’m roundabout 530. Close enough, I figure.

RULES:
Your story must take place at a PARTY of some kind.
Your story must include a BUTTON.
Your story must include the following sentence (which you will complete with one or more words): THE AIR WAS THICK WITH _______.

THE RING
The opulence was overwhelming. His stolen tux fit him like a second skin, and he could tell from the appreciative glances he was getting from other masked partygoers that he wore it well. Still, he had never before moved in such proximity to people like this, and found it unnerving.

Gorgeous women tossed manes of perfumed hair as they danced in a riot of impossible colours and fabrics. Men executed expert footwork as naturally as walking, slick as panthers. The air was thick with different scents, flowered perfumes and spiced colognes, mingling with dizzying potency.

The thief swallowed. He could throw an arm out into this flurry of wealth, quick as a fox, and walk away with something, anything, that could feed him for a week or more. The thought of meat for every meal made his stomach roar.

*

All of a sudden: his mark. The thief forced his coiled muscles to relax, and leaned into the pillar with an exaggerated nonchalance, gazing out into the rain-soaked night as if he were bored and wishing to get away. Sure enough…

“Drink?”

His mark held a shimmering glass to him. Beyond the mask, the green eyes were alight with merriment and a touch too much alcohol. The hand that offered the drink bore an ornate ring crusted with tiny precious jewels. They threw light into the champagne, greens, reds, blues glimmering in the liquid like restless fish. But the thief knew his craft well – it was not to the ring he looked, but into the eyes of its bearer. An opportunity like this was rare, months in the planning. He would not allow his desire, his hunger to betray him.

He accepted the drink, bestowing upon his mark a lazy half smile of thanks. The deception had begun.

*

Three hours later – long past the time the thief had allowed himself to be done with the trickery and away with his treasure – found the two of them sitting in one of the quieter rooms of the mansion. Partygoers swirled in and out from time to time, but largely they were left alone. Their glasses never emptied, topped up by waitstaff, silent and invisible as any thief.

As the hours waned, the masks had come off, the bowties and jacket buttons had come undone. They laughed easily and often and the conversation, like their glasses, never ran dry. If the thief felt any disappointment, it was only as if from a great distance: there would be no theft tonight.

*

Dawn had just started to thin the night when they parted ways. Plans to reconnect were made but the thief was all too aware of the lie that made those plans impossible to keep. There was a kiss goodbye, sweet and lingering, and a tight embrace.

And then he was alone.

Suddenly chilled, the thief thrust his hands into his pockets and felt his fingers close around something small, heavy and cold. The ring, catching even the nascent morning light, shone like a thing of magic against his palm.

Hunched against the cold, the thief began the long, slow walk home, wondering at what he had gained that night, and all he had lost.

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Feet

For Sumani

Sumani in Anuradhapura, Sept 2010 – just 3 months before her passing.

 

A house – not empty

But left cold by your absence

Chills me more than the

Weather outside.

.

I step inside,

And feet already cold from the outdoors

Get colder still

Despite safe haven from the wind.

I take a hesitant step towards the

Gloomy black of the back rooms –

Once your cheery domain

And my happy playground.

.

Today I force my feet

To move in that direction.

.

Another step…

…and yet another…

Each weaker and more faltering than the last.

.

My foot rises once more,

Hovers in still air,

The step incomplete.

Suddenly shy, it drops back a pace,

Whirls on its axis,

And bears me away from your memory.

.

Too soon.

* Continue reading Feet

Grace

Human_Being___four_by_feunS

Human Being Four, by feunS

Mud. All over her shoes, dripping off the edges of her trousers. Grace grimaces and kicks her feet, sending her sodden shoes rolling sluggishly away from her. Tom watches her entry, annoyed already. “You’re leaving dirt everywhere” he remarks. “Bite me” she mutters darkly and stomps her way past him to their room, shutting the door pointedly. Once inside, she pulls of her jeans and sits down on the edge of her bed. She cries for a minute, as she always does, and regains her composure. Time for a bath.

With difficulty she gets up again – being mobile is getting tougher now. The baby seems to be growing a foot every day. She wouldn’t be surprised if she gave birth to a giant in a few months with the way they were going. She was heavy, all the time. It was taking all her strength to drag her own weight around each day. She steps into the shower and relaxes a little with the steaming heat. As she squints through the flood of water against her face, she wishes she could stay here forever. Not have to get out. Not have to sit through a bland dinner. Not have to have another fight with Tom. And they would have a fight. They fought about everything. If they didn’t fight they just sat there, bitter and silent. Fighting was almost an improvement to that silence. Continue reading Grace

Barbed wire

Barbed_by_Valimar

Barbed, by Valimar

A little boy stares through barbed wire, wondering which direction his home is. He reaches out to rest his fingers between the rusted knots of wire but his watchful mother calls out to him to be careful. At the same time, a soldier patrolling nearby walks briskly up to him and pushes him back. “Listen to your mother” the soldier tells him not unkindly in shaky Tamil. The boy looks up along yards of camouflage material and searches the soldier’s face. “I want to go home” he says miserably. “I don’t like it here”

The soldier’s expression softens. He looks around awkwardly to see if anyone is watching and then quickly bends towards the boy. “I want to go home too” he says softly and pats the boy’s cheek. He straightens and clears his throat. “Go and play” he orders gruffly and strides away, the dark skin of his neck and hands glinting like his gun against the afternoon sunlight.

* Continue reading Barbed wire

Why did you go?

Forever_gone_by_inharmony

Forever gone, by inharmony

Why did you go just when I needed something to believe in? When I needed to look out there and know that magic existed? When I needed to listen to music and have the words mean something, have them guide me towards decisions I found too difficult to make on my own?

Now I keep my eyes averted, looking at nothing, and for the first time in my life music no longer speaks to me. My iPod – once a source of comfort – lies unused and useless and I can barely pick it up without a shudder.

It’s like you timed it perfectly – I was searching desperately for inspiration and you upped went away. You were my source. It was you who first made me shake with the sheer power of your words, break out in gooseflesh at a mere tremor of your voice. It was you who surprised me with my own tears, and taught me that perfection could cause me to cry. It was you who first filled me with longing, before I was old enough to know to call it desire. It was you who made me realize that magic wasn’t just for children, it was you who taught me that it was ok not to grow up completely. It was all you. And now you’re gone. Continue reading Why did you go?

Michael Jackson: Never Can Say Goodbye

041

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

–          W. H. Auden

26 June 2009

Its 6.36 am and I’m in bed, not wanting to get out of it. In tears and in shock. Not wanting to write, but needing somehow to acknowledge this terrible, terrible thing.

I woke up to a series of texts and they all said the same thing: “He is dead, I can’t believe it”. I could barely breathe, the tears started before I could stop them as my shaking hands googled his name to find out what had happened. Even now, after reading the same thing over and over and over again, I can’t believe it. My tears keep coming and the shock is still new, painful and ugly. We have lost something. Something good. There is a hole in the world, and no one can make it right.

Continue reading Michael Jackson: Never Can Say Goodbye

Love. Lost.

Sadness inspires – I find the connotations of this rather grim, but I still can’t deny the truth of it. Why doesn’t happiness have the same effect, I wonder? Some of man’s best work was created in fits of rage, anxiety, insecurity and extreme pain.

A sad story is always a good story. I don’t like it at all, but I am a child of the same monster.

Even now as I feel my heart is breaking once again, I feel the need to write.

Is it because I need distraction? Is it because I need to get the ache out of me and writing is the only way I can do it? Or is it simply because sadness awakens creativity for some mysterious reason?

I don’t know. I don’t even care. I just want to write. Continue reading Love. Lost.