Writing Prompt: Good Night Sweetheart

My beloved cat died on Friday 11th March 2016.

I came home at around 5pm on the evening before and found her sluggish. She had been ill for months. The first diagnosis of liver failure was in early August 2015 and after three overnight stays in the hospital over a 6 month period, no one, not even the vet, expected her to last that long. Every day I had her I wondered if it would be the last. I had a feeling, as the weeks went by, that sooner or later, when she declined one final time, that I would have to put her to sleep. How soon would it be before the final push, the last decline? On that day, I knew I had my answer.

She wobbled into the kitchen and flopped down on the floor near where I was cooking. I could see she was struggling. The weight of fluid that had gathered in her abdomen made it uncomfortable for her to walk and even as she lay on the kitchen floor, she rolled herself over from side to side, trying to make her bulk cooperate with her.

I decided that opening the back door to the garden might help get her to her feet, so I opened the glass doors and waited. She wandered to the open door and sat just inside peering out into the garden. After a few minutes, she jumped up onto a wicker chair that contained her cat bed and nestled in. I closed the door to the garden and went to the sitting room to watch tv. A couple of hours later, she came in and jumped on the coffee table where a glass of water was waiting for her. She had ceased to drink from her water bowl months before and was, by that time, only content to take her drink from a pint glass on the coffee table. I suspect it had something to do with the strain on her neck from leaning down.

She settled in beside me and looking a bit miserable, tried to get comfortable. I went to my office to check something on my computer when I saw it. There was a small pool of vomit on my purple yoga mat, which she had in recent months taken to sleeping on whenever I was working in there and she wanted to be near me. With a shudder of concern, I went to get some cleaning products to tidy the mess. That’s when I discovered another, small trail of vomit along the conservatory floor, where she had been sleeping a few hours before. I cleaned that too, then went back to her in the living room. She was still, but when I put my head to her side, I could hear her breathing laboured. I placed a hand on her wee head and tried to stroke her. A wheezing purr came from her, but was quickly replaced by the shallow rhythm of her struggle for breath. Then, without warning, she sat up in attention again and leaped to the floor and was once more, violently ill. I left her to finish, cleaned up again and waited to see what she would do. She seemed to want to drink more water, but after a couple of gulps, she was back in her place on the sofa.

This went on for about an hour before she was ill again. This time, she wandered into the hallway, as if to try to get to the kitchen, but she stopped after a few steps and flopped over again. She sat there, her paws folded under her as though all she wanted was to get comfortable.

She had always, since she was a kitten, loved the feel of my dressing gown. It was white and fluffy and smelled of me. I found it and made a nest out of it on the end of the sofa next to my spot, then placed her in it. There she stayed for a few minutes, but once again, she struggled to find a comfortable position, I moved next to her, placing my head beside hers until she decided she wanted to be left alone, and turned her back to me, dangling the front half of her body over the arm of the sofa.

By this time I was in a state of such panic and fear and sadness that I didn’t know what else to do. The evening had given into night and it was nearly 11pm. I made on final attempt to make her comfortable, positioning her back onto the dressing gown nest and there I left her. She seemed at last to calm down and when midnight came, I gave her a final pat of the head, a kiss and went upstairs to bed. I knew that if I found her in the same miserable state the next morning, it would be time for me to make that hard, but necessary decision to put her out of her misery. However, when I came down at 8am the next morning, before I reached the stairs and she came into full view, I knew she was gone.

Her small body was stretched along the sofa with her head and front paws dangling slightly over the edge. There was no movement, and when I got close to her, I could see her eyes were half open and a thin string of spittle dangled from her closed mouth, leading to one final pool of vomit on the floor where she had coughed out her life.

I cuddled her and tried to closed her eyes, but was unsuccessful. She had already begun to stiffen, which led me to believe that she had died four or five hours before.

I found a box of the right size, a white towel and all of her toys. I carefully placed her in the towel lined box and covered her, positioned her toys around her, her favourite, just at her front paws, then closed the box.

After a few unsuccessful attempts to find a patch of soft ground in the back of the garden, I settled on one near the front of the garden near the house and within view of the conservatory she has known so well. When at last I buried her in her final resting place, I placed a pot of opened daffodils over the grave to mark the spot and to keep the foxes out.

There she is now, within view of my office window and under the trees, surrounded by snowdrops. I thank whatever forces are out there that the end was quick, that only a few hours passed of discomfort before she died and that I had stayed home from a trip to be with her until the end. I have 13 years worth of memories to keep me going. She’s resting now and someday, when time time is right, I’ll rescue more cats and make this their home, but no cat, however wonderful will replace the affection I had for Titch. The best cat that ever lived. Good night sweetheart.

If you’ve reached the end of this narrative and want an exercise, write about a pet you’ve had or have. Describe them and what they mean to you. Pets have a way of taking over your life, adding stress, inconveniencing you, but you don’t mid because you love them. I, for one, hope I get to feel this awful again.

Writing Prompt: The Break Up

We have all parted company with people throughout our lives. It might be friends we no longer speak to, family we fall out wth, partners we split with or colleagues we no longer speak to. People come in and out of you life all the time. Sometimes it’s amicable, sometimes not. In some cases, we just drift apart and we don’t ever realise our communication is over until we stop and think about the people that we no longer see day to day.

For this exercise, think about some of the people that have come in and out of your life. Write about parting ways. If possible, write about falling out with someone. How did it happen? Why? If you could go back and change the outcome, would you? It might reveal some interesting insights into the nature of conflict, open up dialogue possibilities or help you recreate scenes. Have a go and try to be honest, it might be difficult, but sometime the most worthwhile writing is. Good luck.

Poem for the day

A friend of mine brought this poem to my attention today. I thought I’d share.

IF…by Rudyard Kipling

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Writing Prompt:Happy Days

I sometimes find it harder to recall happy memories than sad ones. Maybe we’re programmed that way. If I focus, I can think of happy times with my family, friends, adventures, etc. It’s particularly hard when times are tough, but when you take the time to list the good times, it drowns out the bad times.

This is a pretty straight forward exercise. Write down as many happy thoughts about your life and your past as you can think of. For the sake of argument, pretend you’re Harry Potter and you need to produce a Patronis charm (for you Harry Potter fans). Think of the happiest time in your life and write about it.

 

Writing Prompt: Letter Writing

They say that hand written letters are a dying breed. I’m trying to see the practice alive by writing to my friends and family oversees. i’m going to try to avoid email from now on if there is nothing urgent going on. There’s something special about sending and receiving an actual letter.

One of my weaknesses is stationary. I love new clean sheets of decorative paper, especially when coupled with a fountain pen. I have a Waterman pen and an old fashioned ink well that was a gift. So, last night I wrote to a friend back in the US, my parents and my brother. I know that I’m delighted when I get something hand written in the post, so I hope they’ll enjoy it too.

There is one unique thing about letter writing. You can’t delete. You can only cross out and write. I think that makes me more careful both in the content and my penmanship.

It also forces you to employ a bit of brevity if you have a finite amount of space to write in. For this exercise, sit down and write a hand written letter to someone special. It doesn’t have to be profound, you can simply say hi and give them a few updates on your life. Ask how they’re doing or something similar.

It’s a nice way to practice writing and let someone know you’re thinking about them at the same time.

Enjoy!

Writing Prompt:Redrum

I’ve been watching a lot of crime thrillers lately and I got me thinking, how would  commit the perfect murder? What are some creative ways of doing someone in and getting away with it? For this prompt, let’s get stuck in with the following, make a list of ways to kill a person. Next, make a list of how you could potentially get rid of the body. Add an alibi. Throw in a motive or two and try to knit together just a loose outline of a plot. See what comes out. Have fun! Happy hunting!

Here’s an example to get you started:

Murder weapon:

  1. Drowning
  2. Dressing robe belt
  3. Scissors
  4. Poison
  5. Burial

Body Disposal

  1. Railway Embankment
  2. Field
  3. Under a house
  4. Dismemberment and burning
  5. Meat grinder

Motive:

  1. Revenge (think of things someone might kill someone for in retaliation)
  2. Money
  3. Nutjob

 

 

 

Writing Prompt: Grim

It has been an awful day at the start of an awful year. The grim reaper has been busy. Famous, amazing people have left us so far, and although it has saddened me, I have another reason to think death is a horrible fucker. I’ve experienced loss before and it’s the worst feeling in the world. This is a tough one to write, so bear with me.

Today, I put my cat, Titch in her cage and went to the vet expecting to be told that she was too ill to ever bring home again. Before I left the house, I spent as much time as I could stroking her fur and whispering to her. As the hour approached for her vet appointment, I cried and cried into endless strips of toilet paper. She has been ill for months and I’ve known for some time now that it is going to be my decision as to when it’s time for her to go. At 2pm, I braced myself and when I put the cage down, she walked straight into it without having to be coaxed. I sealed the cage and off we went. In the waiting room, I sat there with her, reaching in once in a while to stoke her head until the vet called us in. To my surprise, the vet said that although it was still a matter of time and still would be my decision as long as Titch didn’t deteriorate in the next few weeks, I could take her home. We had a reprieve. It’s not long and it doesn’t change things, but for now, I’m grateful for the few days more I have with her, as long as she’s not suffering.

When I though I was all cried out for the day, I got a call from overseas. A dear member of the family died this morning. She was a kind, funny and generous lady. I thought of her family and everyone who loved her and what they must be feeling. I remembered the last times I had seen her and how she aways had a hug and a smile for everyone around her. She had been ill for a long time, but I still wasn’t ready for the news. I can only imagine what her immediate family and friends had gone through these last dreadful weeks since her condition worsened. So, once I put the phone down, the tears came again. It was a combination of knowing that lovely woman was gone and knowing that I was one word away from having my beloved pet for 13 years put to sleep.

The stress of today is about all I can take, so I’m signing off now to think about everyone I’ve lost and to regroup for the days ahead.

For this prompt, write about either someone you’ve lost or about how you feel about death. It’s something we will all have to face someday and not an easy subject, but I believe it is something worth pondering, even if you only write something private, for yourself alone.

 

 

Writing Prompt: Your Story

Everyone has a story. Several, in fact. We, some of us, think that our stories are not unique or interesting enough to write about, but you’d be surprised at how much each of us has to say. Start listing key events in your life, large and small. From there, start filling in the detail. Try to remember the colours, what people said, scenery, weather, sensations, etc. Here are some of mine:

  1. The first time I had a substitute teacher.
  2. The day my parents got me my first car
  3. The moment I got a call telling me a friend was dead
  4. My last fight with my first boyfriend
  5. The last time I saw my grandfather alive
  6. Walking to the Mt Everest Base camp
  7. Skydiving attempts
  8. Witnessing the hit and run of a dog crossing the road
  9. Deciding my career path over a bottle of gin and a drunk-dialling call with my wise brother
  10. Understanding the concept of racism in the 4th grade.
  11. Meeting my first crush at the age of 14, he was 21….
  12. My first experience at being burgled
  13. Being sexually assaulted by a stranger on the street
  14. Flying a plane for the first time (over Icelandic glaciers)
  15. Glissading over Mt. St Helens
  16. Being robbed at gunpoint
  17. Finding out my half-German husband, living in England has family in my home town in California. Serendipity….
  18. Publishing my first creative essay
  19. My first fight
  20. My first dance.

Any one of these would keep me busy for a couple thousand words. I’m sure you’ve got a story to tell too. Make you list, and get cracking.

Have fun!

 

 

 

Writing Prompt: Sunrise

When I awoke this morning, I instinctively reached for me phone and checked the time. 6:02 greeted me in large numbers at the top of the screen. I had slept nearly 8 hours, a minor miracle given the change of timezones and my proneness towards jet lag. I had a sudden thought that I had an opportunity to see the sunrise over Los Angeles if I hurried. I checked the internet for the day’s sunrise time. 06:58 is said.

With sleepy eyes, I pulled away the snug covers and padded my way down the stairs and to the balcony. It was still dark and the house quiet. I held my phone up to capture the sunrise. Alas, the morning proved to be overcast, but it did not disguise the expansive city spread out before me and I could still see the neon signs of Hollywood below. In the distance, the hills began to take shape like a dark silhouettes fighting through the mist that became more clear as the sun began to rise.

The forecasts promises clear skies in the afternoon, but for now, the city is still draped in cloud. I can see the buildings and hills, I can make out trees and houses along the hills, but the coast is still obscured. I wait patiently for bright light to penetrate so that I can feel more at home. “The Sunshine State” is California’s motto. I’m confident that soon, it will I’ve up to the name.

For this prompt, try to describe a sunrise. Either from memory or try getting up early tomorrow to capture what you see.

 

 

 

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