Quote for the day

I sent my soul through the invisible;

some letter of of that afterlife to spell;

and by and by my soul returned to me,

and answered, “I myself am Heav’n an Hell””

– Omar Khayyam

Writing Prompt: Safe Haven

Within a few minutes of entering the house, my shoulders began to settle. I launched myself into a bag of take-away Mexican food, ripped apart an unsuspecting burrito and cracked open a can of coke. From my seat at the table, I could reach the remote control for the American-sized TV and flick through the film channels. I forgot work.

Mom, always eager to make the most of my time at home scurried around the kitchen offering me more food. I accepted a plate of re-fried beans wholeheartedly. I’ve always marveled at how you can be ravenous for ages and be full beyond capacity within five minutes with the proper help.

Dad settled into his chair in the corner and once I was done with the dishes, went to the sofa to join him. Halfway through some old film on TCM, I was drifting off on the sofa, my head supported by a stack of cushions and curled up under the fuzzy pink blanket my mother had brought me. I was home.

Whilst going through my things in my old room, I found old photos, my teddy bear and some over sized pajamas, which I’m now sitting in. I’m in what used to be my old study where I used to do my homework and feel like I’m 19 again, typing away. Only this time, I’m not studying for exams or trying to meet a deadline. I’m writing on my own terms, I can have a beer, I’m all grown up and can enjoy the things that are familiar with affectionate nostalgia. This is a different feeling from the desperate need to get away and explore the world that I felt when I was 19 years old and thought I knew everything. I feel calm.

I’m glad that I can relax here. The last few weeks have been hard physically and to be able to forget everything and be cared for, even for a few days is bliss. There are a few specific places where I feel safe, comfortable and alert without any anxiety. This is one of them. I know that a week isn’t enough time to be home and there are still a lot of people to see in the next few days and things to do, but after only one day, I feel like I could charge back into the office with my batteries at least partially re-charged. It feels great.

There’s always some place where people feel most like themselves, where they feel safe and where they have a chance to re-charge their batteries. Some people feel that way about home, some about work, church, at a friend’s house, a library…what’s yours?

Describe a place that makes you calm, where you can be yourself…

Writing Prompt: Safe Haven

Writing Prompt: Forgetful (9th Nov 08)

 

I’m at the airport again and I’m trying to work out what to write about. I bought a slick and tiny laptop so that I can carry it with me and write whenever I feel like it. However, what seems to happen is that as soon as I feel like writing, I don’t have it with me…typical. When I do have it with me, I can’t think of anything to write. So, right now, I’m writing about not writing.

 

Whatever thought comes into my head feels like old ground and it’s hard to be inspirational when you’ve been travelling for 4 hours with three more to go. So, I’m going to recount some of the day’s events in the hope that it will trigger something interesting.

 

I went to London this weekend to see my goddaughter, Cassandra. It’s her 1st birthday and I felt that like a responsible godmother, I should be there to help celebrate. I did the usual thing, bought a present last minute on Friday before my early Saturday morning flight then proceeded to leave it in the pub after work. Luckily, a colleague, Andrew returned to the pub for me, rescued the package (a pick fluffy coat) and left it with another colleague (also named Andrew) to return to me on Monday. Thanks guys. That’s Cassandra’s Christmas present sorted.

 

This left me in the embarrassing situation of having to buy a present once I got here, and having the tendency to be scatter-brained the moment I leave the office, didn’t buy wrapping paper. I did, however, find some left over Christmas wrapping paper with snowmen on it and used that. I reasoned that Cassandra, being neither old enough to realise the significance of either birthdays or Christmas, and will find the colour of paper more interesting than the pattern or its contents will most likely forgive my error.

 

So, with gift in hand, I entered my friend Samantha’s house to a warm greeting, a birthday present for me (she wasn’t there last month) and most importantly, a glass of champagne.

 

This incident has had the desired effect. I’ve thought of something I think might be worth writing about.

 

I’ll be the first to admit it – I’m forgetful. When I’m at work, I’m focused on the job and there is little that penetrates the cocoon I create for myself the moment the lift doors open at the office. The downside to this dedication is that everything else in my life seems to take a hit. I forgot to pay the cleaners for two months. I finally sent them a cheque and a letter grovelling and asking them not to forget to do the oven and skirting boards.

 

I have to set up direct debits to be sure my bills get paid. I can’t remember the last time I called my brother in the States and I have email and calendar alerts in place to remind me of family member’s birthdays. Last year, I nearly forgot Christmas.

 

I keep buying socks and underwear because I never have time to do laundry, so the wash basket is filled to the point where garments are climbing their way up the wall.

 

Most people are forgetful about something. I’m forgetful about most everything…

 

So, if there was an area of your life you wished you paid more attention to, what would it be?

 

Try this; write a story or a short piece where the main character forgets something important. What are the consequences and how does he or she resolve the situation?

 

Writing Prompt: Forgetful

 

 

 

Quote for the day

Follow the path of your aroused thought, and you will soon meet this infernal inscription: There is nothing so beautiful as that which does not exist.

– Paul Valery

Writing Prompt: I never learn…or “Brave or Stupid” part 2

Well, it’s official. I’m nuts. I’m stark-raving-bonkers. I’m a few fries short of a Happy Meal. I’m a candidate for the Funny Farm.

Why, you ask? Simple. Having nearly killed myself in the Birmingham 1/2 marathon a week ago due to lack of discipline and training. I’ve just paid my entry fee for the Paris Marathon in April, which means I need to be running about 100 miles a month just to get ready.

So, my question to you is, having already put myself through this, why do I feel the need to not only do it again, but try something even harder? Am I a masochist, stupid, nuts or just really really bored.

Here’s another question, have you ever tried doing something totally out of character just to see if you could?

Most people consider me an advocate of taxis, the “Bride of Bloomingdales”, a salad dodger and someone with a gym allergy. So, what in the blazes am I thinking?

Writing Prompt: Brave or Stupid part 2…

The Lift – A Short Story

The lift was of the old fashioned sort, large with cushioned benches along the edges. On the walls at waist level were mirrors with gold trimmed panels surrounding the glass. In the centre of the wall that faced its passengers as they entered was a clock of Roman numerals. When the woman cast her glance towards it, the hands indicated 11:32pm with its thin second hand gliding towards the ten. 

 

 She was tired and the flight had drained her of energy. She had a long day ahead of her in the morning, but her mind was alert, even if her body was aching. A drink in the bar would help solve that problem, but she wanted to be good. Her hand hovered over the numbers of the lift. She stood on the ground floor. Her room was on the third and the bar was in the basement level of the plush hotel her company had chosen. 

 

 Just one, she thought, just one. A little Mount Gay and coke, a little ice, a little slice and everything will fall into place. 

 

 She pressed the large glowing “B” and headed down. When she reached the bar, the lights were dim and music drifted out into the hallway. A piano player churned out random covers whilst the patrons in various stages of chatter and intoxication went about their business. 

 

 When she stepped into the lift five hours later, she was a little tipsy and the stranger stepped in behind her.  She had observed him smoking in the small patio outside the bar and temptation had got the better of her. She wandered out into the cool night air and approached him. 

 

 “Could I buy a cigarette from you?” she asked. 

 

 “No…” he said, reaching into his coat pocket. “…but you can have one.” 

 He handed her a cigarette, lit it and together they sat on a short brick wall that doubled as a flower bed for yellow roses. They fell into conversation and over the next few hours they traded lives and bought drink after drink until finally, the barman rang last call.  

 

 The woman giggled into her glass and whispered to him. “The garden door is still open. Shall we get a bottle of red wine and sneak out?”

 

 

 He nodded in assent and went to the bar to collect the wine. A moment later, he made his way towards the garden doors. She watched him from her spot at a corner table while he motioned for her to follow him.

 

 

 Once outside, he reached out from beneath his coat and produced the bottle. “It’s Pinot Noir. I hope that’s ok. The barman wouldn’t let us take it away, so I hid it under my coat.”

 

 

 “Nice work.” she said.

In the time they had been together they had talked about everything. She told him of her childhood in London, of her job, her family, her kids. She shared her fear of flying with him.

 

 

In turn, he talked of his fiancé, of his business and his love of old movies. By the time the day’s first light was hinting towards the horizon, they felt as though they had been friends for years.

 

 

As they reached the lift, he slipped his arm around her waist. She glared down at her side, then at him but didn’t pull away.

 

 

They stumbled into the lift and she collapsed onto the cushioned bench.

 

 

 

“What floor?” he asked.

 

 

 

She held up three fingers and he pressed the button for the third floor. “I’m on six.” He said and sat beside her as the doors closed.

 

 

 

“I can’t believe what time it is.” She said. “I was only going down for one drink. I’m blaming you.” She smiled at him and he chuckled.

 

 

“You’re the one who came after me for a cigarette. I’m not taking the blame for this.”

 

“50-50?” she asked.

 

“60-40.” He said.

 

“Fine, you take sixty percent of the blame, I’ll take forty.”

 

He shook his head. “I don’t think so.”

 

They were between the second and third floors when the lift came to an abrupt stop. They were given a jolt and they stared at each other for a moment before he reached for the buttons and pressed a few at random, hoping for a response. When nothing happened, he opened the small panel at the side of the wall to reveal a phone. After a moment, someone answered.

 

“What did they say?” she asked when he hung up.

 

“It was the concierge. He said they could tell we were stuck and that they’d get someone over to fix it as soon as possible.” He leaned back against the wall. “Apparently, this happened a week ago. I guess they didn’t quite fix it.”

 

“Did they say how long it would be?” She looked up at the clock. “My God, I’m supposed to be at a meeting in five hours. I can’t bloody believe this. I also can’t believe I’ve been up all night. I never do this.” Her tone was light, as though she didn’t really mind at all.

 

He laughed and picked up her hand. “Me neither.” As he held her palm in his, he brushed the fingers of his free hand over the top of her fingernails.

 

“What will you do tomorrow?” she asked.

 

“I’m flying home. I guess tomorrow is today now that we’ve been up all night.” He sighed and leaned forward. “I had a great night. I was about to go up to my room when you turned up.”

 

She shifted in her seat and moved towards him, wrapping her hand around his. “It’s funny. I was trying to decide whether or not to head up for bed or to go for a drink. I just pushed the button. It could have gone either way, really. To think, we might have missed our chat.”

 

“I’m really glad you came down.” He said. “Do you suppose this thing has a camera?”

 

“Shocking.” She said, but there was laughter in her voice.

 

Colour rose to his cheeks. “That’s not what I meant. Well, it’s sort of what I meant.”

 

As he leaned towards her, he could feel her tense up, her grip of his hand became tighter as though she was deciding something.

 

As suddenly as it had stopped, the lift came to life and startled them. They let go of each other’s hands and pulled back as the doors opened on the third floor.

 

“I guess this is where I get off.” She said and stood up.

 

He rose to his feet and holding the doors open watched her move away. As she turned to say goodbye, he reached out for her arm. Aware that she could easily pull away, he kissed her cheek. They stood in that attitude for a moment until, remembering the time and seeing the sun beginning to come in through the windows she stepped into the hall.

 

“I’m glad we met.” She said and disappeared down the corridor.

 

She turned back within a few seconds, unsure of what she would do if she caught him. She reached the hall too late to stop them, but in time to see his hand go up in a small flicker of recognition as the lift doors closed.

© Eliza Dashwood, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

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