DP Challenge: Truth is Stranger than Fiction

For this challenge, we want to see a photo of someone looking truly happy… Then we want to know why: what’s going on in the photo? What are you (or they) thinking about at the exact moment? (And if you really want to get into it: what happens next?)

3 girls.

3 girls.

This is a shot of me (left), my mother (middle) and my younger sister (right). I remember this day pretty well, as it was just before my sister left us to go and spend a year in the US. We decided to have a little farewell luncheon for her, so we invited some other people to come along as well. We went down to a restaurant – pizza, I think – and afterwards, walked down past Dee Why beach to the cliffs. My dad is an avid photographer, so he stepped behind the camera and had us all do some poses.

Though other people were around, this shot was just for us. We always laugh at Mum for doing her fake photo smile, which she somehow maintains no matter what. My sister and I always try to push the other into breaking out into real laughter. What you can’t see, is that my sister and I are pinching each other behind Mum’s back, causing us both to laugh hysterically. Afterward, Mum turned to us and asked what the hell we were doing, while giggling herself, and as we told her, she started laughing at us and rolling her eyes.

My sister was leaving soon after this, so this day was precious, and seeing this picture always brings back that feeling of giddy laughter I can only seem to get with my sister. No-one can make me laugh as hard or stupidly, and with her I can be myself almost more than with anyone else.

Of course, she has gone and come back, and then gone again to live in another country. I still miss her terribly, but I know she’s happy and I know that when I see her again, we will laugh like this again.

 

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DP Challenge: Dystopia

This is for the DP Challenge, themed Dystopia. We couldn’t travel too far into the future, but provide a peek of the bleak future that perhaps awaits in 100 years.

I think this mostly speaks for itself, but in case context is required…

This is set at I suppose approximately 100 years in the future. Reproduction is strictly controlled due to overpopulation. I don’t really have more than that I guess, and I did want to look at some other paths, but probably couldn’t do that without writing 5000 words, instead of just 500. Comments always welcome!

***

Crap. 

Crap, crap, crap. My knees jog up and down nervously, and I bite my lip. What the hell am I going to do?

The dingy bathroom light flickers, and I push myself off the toilet, wondering what the hell I am going to do. Christopher knocks on the door.

“Hun? You okay in there?”

I’ve been sitting in here for over an hour, unable to face what comes next. I can hear Sophie babbling happily in the living room outside. How could we have been so stupid?

Chris knocks again.

I move slowly towards the door, as the light buzzes dangerously above me. I reach out and slowly pull the bathroom door open. Chris takes one look at my stricken face and goes pale.

“Baby, what is it? What’s –” his eyes drop to my clenched hand. “Is that a –?”

I nod slowly, tears welling in my eyes again. He opens my fingers.

“Are you sure?” he asks softly. Sophie coos to herself.

I nod again. He lifts a hand to his forehead in shock.

“I thought we were careful… we were careful!” he bursts out in anger. I move past him, and pick up Sophie, cuddling her to my chest, letting my tears soak her shoulder. She grabs a fistful of my hair, and shoves it in her mouth.

Chris moves in front of me. I lift my eyes to him.

“What happens now?” I ask softly.

“I don’t know,” he answers, stroking the back of Sophie’s head lovingly. We stare at each other for a long moment, but soon Sophie’s wails force me to focus on her. I murmur softly to her, swaying her in my arms as I circuit the living room. I hear the door click, and look back to find Chris, but he has slipped out of our tiny apartment. My eyes fall on the worn kitchen table. The pregnancy test glares at me with its two, horribly positive lines.

***

I stand on the train, amongst hundreds of other drab commuters, letting the thunder of the train drown out my thoughts. Will anyone notice? I nervously flatten my shirt, and button my blazer.

I feel so tired, scared and lost. The train pulls to a halt, and I squeeze through to the door, slipping out just before they close again. I glance around the station, shuddering involuntarily. Graffiti is plastered everywhere, and the same dim fluorescence gives the whole underground an eerie glow. It smells, and I notice a huddle in the corner. I quickly avert my eyes, as it does not do to draw attention from the homeless. I walk past dirty, cracked columns and harsh advertisement posters, quickly making my way to the escalator.

Reaching street level, I pull my coat closer around me, and keep my head down as I walk towards my building. I avoid eye contact, and pray I am not noticed by any authorities.

“Good morning, Elise!” the receptionist bubbles at me, but I merely nod at her, keen to get to my desk as soon as possible.

I hunch over at my computer, pretending to work while instead I am frantically searching online for solutions to my dilemma. I have such limited precious time before I must act.

“In the case of any unapproved pregnancies, please contact the Department of Population and Environmental Control…”

My eyes scan through the search results, looking desperately for some kind of alternate solution.

“Please note that if you fail to register your pregnancy; approved or not; severe penalties will apply. It is recommended to visit your local PEC representative within one week of the assumed pregnancy. Your representative will assist you in termin…”

I can’t even read it. It’s too awful. I click away to another link.

“I just got a positive test even though we are not approved for a child, can anyone help please?”

“Do you have any existing children? They might approve if it’s your first…”

“It is my first! I will register now thanks!”

I sigh. It was useless. I jot down the phone number of the PEC contact, and put it in my purse.

The rest of a day is a grey blur, and I quickly find myself off the train again, walking home. I stop by the local daycare, and have to fight Sophie into her coat. I scan my Allowance Card at the door, but the security attendant barely even glances at me. The daycare cost is subsidised, as Citizens are encouraged to work, but we can still barely afford it. There is barely enough on there to feed us tonight. I hope Chris has some credit left. Sophie is sobbing dramatically by the time we leave, but I don’t have the heart to care right now. Let people stare.

***

I step cautiously into the sterile clinic, shivering from fear and nausea. I threw up three times this morning, and I’m not even sure I can blame the pregnancy. A grim nurse greets me, judging me from her steel eyes. I fill out the form shamefully, knowing what will come next.

I am escorted into a small room with a plastic covered chair, and a technical set up. As I lie back, tears pricking at my eyes, the technician performs his scan without sympathy for my plight. He grunts in disapproval, and I hold in a gasp at the wub-wub sound and the grainy flickering on the screen.

He discards his gloves and tells me to sit up.

I hold the paper sheet over my lap and fiddle with my fingers nervously. He pulls out a clipboard, and settles in front of me.

“Is this your first pregnancy?”

“No.”

“Did you apply or seek approval for this pregnancy?”

“No.”

“Did you know that unprotected sex could result in a pregnancy?”

“We didn’t –” He raises an eyebrow over his scribbling, his lips pursed. I fall silent.

“Are you aware of the penalty for conceiving an unapproved embryo?”

“I – ” my eyes well with tears again. My poor baby.

“Well?”

“I-I know that the pregnancy will be ter-terminated.”

“That is the consequence of the crime you have committed, but there are further penalties.”

I gulp.

“You have shown a distinct lack of regard for your country, for your government and for your family,” He says ominously. “We have laws in place to prevent disrespectful Citizens flouting the law as they wish. These laws are there for your safety, and for the preservation of our great Society.”

“It wasn’t – I mean, we didn’t…” I trail off at his glare again.

“You will be scheduled for sterilisation in one week.”

He leaves a pill on the stainless steel table and leaves the room.

DP Challenge (from a LONG LONG TIME AGO)

Okay, playing serious catch up… here is a very short insight into one of my characters, thanks to the Character challenge (dun-dun!)

In short, this challenge was looking for the following:

  • As much detail as possible … make this person real for us.
  • Tell us more than what they look like or how you met.
  • Let us know what their laugh sounds like, or that oddball quirk that makes this person so unique.
  • The goal is to make this character of yours as real as possible for your readers, as if we had known them all along ourselves.
I didn’t take it quite so literally – but instead attempted to write a small scene with this character that would give you some insight to his character. Written very quickly, and well past it’s due date (I get an F for effort) but here it is.
***
Danny’s nostrils flared as an overwhelming scent of musk wrapped around him. He snorted involuntarily at the powerful odour. Rose. She brushed up against him, and he refrained from pulling away. She was not for him, and no longer had her old appeal, but he didn’t dare be so open about it. She must have known, but ignored it, as she continued her relentless assault to win him over.

“Rose—” he began, but she cut him off with a delicately manicured finger on his lips.

“Shh,” she whispered against his face, as Danny held his breath. “It’s just us for now, just enjoy it.”

He pulled back from her, irritation settling on his features.

“Stop it, Rose. You know that this is not going to happen with us.”

She slid her hand down his face to rest on his taut stomach, pouting slightly.

“And why not?” she purred. He stepped back again, making his intent clear.

“ I’ve had enough of your insistent denial, Rose.”

“Denial? It happened once, it can happen again” she murmured, prowling towards him, ignoring his retreat.

“You know things were different then, Rose.”

“I don’t see how,” she refused to look at him properly, instead pressing her nose to his throat and inhaling, as she slid her hands over him.

“We were not otherwise committed then,” he said stiffly, as he finally relented to put his hands on her. He pushed her back softly.

“I don’t want to be ‘otherwise committed’,” she sneered. “Raoul is an idiot brown-noser, who can’t see past my rank.” She stood back finally, and tossed her hair.

“I know, but you must accept your father’s wishes. And mine.” Once the insults started dropping, he knew he had her.

She finally looked into his eyes, biting her lip. He saw the true anguish masked behind her annoyance, and pulled her against him.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered against her hair. She clutched him, burying her face against his chest and sobbed softly. His hands against her back, stroking her silvery hair, Danny’s dark eyes met with another pair across the clearing. Danny conveyed a world of meaning in his stare, and was met with a nod. Rose’s father wasn’t the fool she took him for, as he silently padded away from his daughter.

Danny held Rose against him, tenderly but not intimately, as he knew this would be the last time he would comfort her. From today, she must show the proper attentiveness to her intended, and he was determined to find his own. He knew so little of her, but a flash of russet, and golden eyes. He felt her distress, wherever she was right now, and though he didn’t know her, he longed to comfort her. To protect her.

“ You’re a good man, Daniel,” Rose pulled back, her blonde hair sticking to her face. She sniffed, and pushed the strands back behind her ears. Danny moved his hands to her shoulders, and squared her before him.

“ Don’t underestimate your value, Rosalind Fulham,” he stared into her eyes, “You may fool everyone else in this town, but I know your heart, and I know your worth. You’re better than you think you are, and you deserve more than you believe.”

Rose’s eyes welled again, but she didn’t speak. She pulled back from him, and nodded as she turned away. Though his heart ached, Danny said nothing as she left.

***

There is so much wrong with this that I got caught up in some minor hack-and-slash editing just transferring this to post from doc, but I really haven’t got time to fix more!

Next post coming soon!

K x

Filling the Silence

Let me preface this post by saying that I am not looking for sympathy.

Relevant.

Relevant.

So, I haven’t been keeping up with the writing challenges I have been previously doing – and I do feel guilty about it. I quite enjoy them, and I will catch myself up soon. But first I want to talk about something else.

The past few weeks have been an awful concoction of anxiety, depression and uncertainty. Brief highs quickly stabbed by reality. It’s been tough. But I haven’t been able to talk about any of it. Facebook, Twitter, real life? Nothing. Why? I hate it. I hate this social taboo on bad sad things. Why do I have to keep it inside and pretend that nothing is wrong? It feels like a slow poison inside of me. I’m holding it inside, and it’s tainting me. I am more resentful, more bitter, more cynical. It feels wrong.

Bad things happen, not just to me, to everyone, but so often it’s all kept inside so that… what? So we don’t bother other people? So that it doesn’t seem like I am seeking attention? It’s just ridiculous. Why can’t I just share it?

I wish I could be more open about my very personal loss – is it just me? Would other people be more open about it? If I reveal my true feelings at work, people will start asking what’s wrong and I’d have to tell them, but I suppose being such a very personal tragedy, it’s hard to share.

I would hate to be seen as a person who requires attention for my condition(s), or that my performance might be blamed on these things – when they shouldn’t have a bearing on how people see me. That’s why I’ve never been up-front about being bipolar. But maybe I should be. It’s terrifying to open yourself up, and bare your weaknesses. Everyone is fighting some kind of demon, so why this pervasive idea that we all act cool, like everything’s awesome? Why when someone asks “How are you?’ do you never say “You know what, I’m fucking miserable and I don’t know if I can cope.”

I guess the point of this is that I wish we could be more open. Can we do that? Can I do that? I don’t know. It’s hard, but maybe it makes it easier. Just getting it off your chest.

Okay.

I’ll start. I just had a miscarriage, and I really miss my baby. A baby I barely even had. I’m trying to move on, but it’s so freaking hard.

There. I don’t think this will magically heal me, or my feelings. It won’t change anything, but it’s one less thing I’m holding on to. One less thing to worry about. I hope it helps.

DPChallenge: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

This picture. 1000 words.

This picture. 1000 words.

She gasped as he pulled her tight against him.

“What are you–” she pressed her palms against his chest, pushing against him, but his arms were like steel bands around her body.

“Hush,” he murmured against her ear, “They’re coming, and they’re looking for a single girl. I’m your way out of this mess.”

A thrill rushed through her at his words. It might be a ruse. But she didn’t have any other options. She’d already had too many too-close encounters. Harry was hard on her tail, and wouldn’t be giving up easily. The only reason she’d managed so far was that Harry had underestimated her determination. She wasn’t skilled, or strong, but she was small and fast.

Her sudden hero swivelled her around, pressing her against the wall, and covering her body with his own. Twining a hand in her hair, the other arm fencing her in, they made a picture-perfect couple. Her hands gripped his tanned arms, half in terror, half in shock.

He leaned his face close to her neck, appearing to kiss her whilst he spoke.

“You can call me Liam. Once the tram is past, we’ll head back down into the market. We need to get you into something less conspicuous.”

She heard the click of the tram rolling slowly up the hill, and saw a familiar head of dark hair in the window. Adrenaline surged through her body, as she recognised Jacob’s profile. Jacob was Harry’s right-hand man, and was nursing a serious grudge since their last encounter.

“Quick, kiss me,” she whispered fiercely, grabbing his hair and pulling his lips against hers. Without a protest, her mysterious saviour pressed his soft lips to hers.

Genevieve tried to keep one eye on the too-slow tram, praying she would not be seen. When Liam’s tongue brushed against her lips, the danger was momentarily forgotten as she opened her mouth to him. He tugged a small fistful of her hair, pulling her closer against him, his tongue exploring her mouth. His breath was warm and sweet in her mouth, and Genevieve’s hands clasped at his back, pressing her body more fully against him. Then suddenly he was gone.

Genevieve blinked in confusion, lost for breath. The tram was disappearing over the hill now. Heat infused her cheeks as she realised what had happened, and furious with herself, rubbed her mouth with the back of her hand. Smoothing down her dress, she started stalking back down the hill.

“Don’t make a scene,” Liam caught up and grabbed at her hand. He intertwined their fingers.

“What are you doing?” she hissed at him, trying to extricate herself from his seemingly gentle grip.

“You’re with me, remember? Now be a good girl, and follow my lead.” He lengthened his strides, and led her straight into the heart of the city. Genevieve hated the crowds bustling around her; loud tourists stopping in the street to inspect their maps, local children laughing and skipping around underfoot, vendors calling out to passers-by and the heavy blanket of fog and noise from the cars and mopeds zipping through the narrow streets. Despite her own misgivings, she held tighter to Liam’s hand as he unerringly made his way through the stalls.

He stopped without warning at the stall of a small wrinkled woman, and bent down to inspect the goods, apparently fascinated by the rows of home-made jams and preserves. He tugged Genevieve down with him. The vendor gestured at them, chittering and offering them a jar of sugary plums. Genevieve began to shake her head no, but Liam suddenly engaged in haggling with her. He exclaimed loudly at each retort from the canny woman, causing Genevieve to wince and glance around the crowd nervously.

They eventually reached an agreement, and Liam smacked down a few coins on her stall. The woman chuckled to herself, the coins disappearing as quickly as they had appeared. She bagged their plums, and threw in a little trinket. Genevieve began to tug at Liam’s hand, eager to be off again, but he seemed in no rush.

Taking up the bag of goods, Liam gestured grandly and loudly as he bid farewell to the old woman. She cackled silently and waved him off, already looking for her next customer. Genevieve glared at him, and without warning, Liam was off again, ducking between stalls and alleys, seeming to know his way through the maze.

Genevieve was losing breath by the time they stopped, Liam pulling her into a clammy side-alley. She clutched her side, and panted heavily, her breath rising in a small fog. She shivered, partly from cold, partly from fear.

“Nice of you to finally get back to work,” she muttered, rubbing her arms against the wake of goosebumps on her skin. Liam didn’t speak, but she thought she spied a roll of his eyes. He squatted down, and began sorting through his dark messenger-bag. He placed the plums carefully inside, and pulled out a long coat.

He pulled the bag again over his head, and held out the coat to Genevieve.

“Here, wear this.” he was busily scanning the crowds beyond the alley.

“I don’t need your chivalry,” Genevieve objected, eyeing the tatty old thing, and repressing another shiver. Had the weather changed so quickly? She could have sworn it was summer this morning.

Liam rolled his eyes again.

“Don’t flatter yourself, sweetie. It’s to cover up that god-awful dress you’ve got on.” He gave her a pointed look, his eyes flicking down her body.

Genevieve growled and snatched the coat, slipping it on. It was warm, and most definitely did not smell like the delicious man standing next to her. She resisted pressing her nose against the warm material to inhale that, definitely not-delicious smell. Placing a warm hand on her arm, Liam nodded down the alley and gave her a gentle tug.

“Come on, we’re clear to go.” He flashed a cheeky grin, white teeth against a tanned face, and Genevieve could have kicked herself for allowing herself to be sucked in. Finding herself with no other choice, however, she resigned herself to what would come next. He opened a small wooden door at the end of the alley, and led her inside.

Rule One.

I want to talk about something. Triggered by something that happened to me yesterday, and completely took me by surprise, though in hindsight, it really shouldn’t have.

People can be real assholes. Seriously. No, SERIOUSLY.

I don’t just mean in a “haha loser” kind of way. I mean in a “I’m going to manipulate, undermine and stab-you-in-the-back” kind of way. I’m still undecided on how this particular attack was motivated, because for a good portion of the day, I felt sure it was guided by sexism. I felt disrespected, undervalued and unimportant.

Now I am mostly sure that it was guided by pure selfishness and inconsideration for others.

I am all for looking out for oneself, about having ambition, and trying to excel in life. But never at the expense of another person.

Where did all these people come from? They were raised in good homes, with a good lifestyle. You always hear of people paying lip-service to the golden rule, but the world seems to be full of hypocrites. It makes me incredibly sad, and frustrated. Why is it okay to treat people like that? We’re all in this together, aren’t we? We’re all stuck in this shitty job, city, country, world, life. Wouldn’t it be easier to just… I dunno, not be a dick?

Apparently that is too much to ask.

Please be nice to other people. There’s nothing to lose by it, and they might even return the favour.

You too, can be like this little guy.

You too, can be like this little guy.

Peace out, lovers.