Cha-Chi

Last week at the writing group we talked about a whole range of subjects from the weather to wineries, but our challenge for the day was to write a short story in just 10 minutes. I provided 19 possible prompts for us to use – I plumped for number 16 :

As a talking Chihuahua, what would you tell your humans about the new crying baby who now lives with you?

This is my tale….

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It’s been three days now since the new little human was delivered and quite frankly I’ve no idea why they bothered… I mean noisy just doesn’t cover it, and the smells… Well you can imagine.

When I was a nipper and barked for just a second or made that kind of smell in the house I was soon told off.

Anyway I just had to speak to mum about it this afternoon.

Running into the living room I saw she was sitting on the sofa and decided to let her know what I thought.

“Muuuuum,” I began as we sat in a moment of rare peace.

“Yes Cha-Chi?” She looked exhausted.

“It cries all the time and frankly I’m wondering…”

“What darling?” She interrupted. I really wasn’t sure if she was listening or taking notice.

“Well, it’s been so disruptive.” I grumbled.

“What’s that Cha-Chi?” She asked absently

“Well its been here three days now and it’s… is that ham? Mum is that ham? Ham?” I suddenly smelled her sandwich.

“Get off Cha-Chi, this is mine.” She pushed me off her knee.

“But ham mum, ham?” I almost begged. It smelled so good. Then I realised the sweet smell of cooked pig had distracted me from my important task again.

“The new human. Mum it’s so annoying; crying all night, crying all day… I’m getting hardly any sleep. Do we really need this one? And just look at you; you’re exhausted. ”

“Here Cha-Chi.”

She as good as ignored my comments as she fished a ball out from under the cushion and threw it across the room.

“Ball, ball, baaaaaalllll.” I ran after it excitedly, current crisis forgotten for a second as I grabbed the tempting sphere, ran back to mum, and dropped it in her lap.

“Waaaaaaaaaaa,” came the cry from the nursery.

“Later Cha-Chi.” Mum jumped up kicking the ball aside.

I climbed up onto the sofa into the warm spot she had made. At least she had left me half the ham sandwich. Nom-nom.

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Dreaming?

A few weeks back at our writing group the theme was “Esoterics”. After an interesting discussion we were invited to write whatever came to us. This is what came to me…

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Alana crawled out of bed and checked herself out in the mirror. Staring at her face she could see no trace of the dream she had just left. She stared deep into her own eyes and for just one moment she thought she noticed a flicker of what had happened just moments ago in that nether world of sleep, and possibly a glimpse of what was to come.

“Come on Archie, lets go shower and give you nice walkies. I need…” she stopped midsentence, stuck in the déjà vu she was experiencing.  Spinning round she checked that this time she was alone and was relieved to see that she was. So it wasn’t the dream become real after all.

“Come on pooch,” she started her routine anew. “Shower and Walkies.”

On hearing that magic word Archie jumped up and raced to the bathroom ahead of Alana, knowing the treat that was to come. “Slow down,” Alana shouted after him, with a laugh.

As she came out of the bedroom Archie started barking from down the hallway in the bathroom. Alana looked in that direction expecting to see her mutt’s face peeking round the doorway. Instead she was sure she saw someone going into the bathroom. She shivered involuntarily. Was that why Archie was barking?

“Arch?” she shouted, “What is it lad?” With no thought for her own safety she rushed headlong towards her now quiet dog.

Within seconds she was at the bathroom door. Archie was sitting there, tail wagging madly, looking directly at her, with the dopiest look on his furry face. “What the heck are you up to?” she asked, then realised he was actually staring into the space beside the open door, the side Alana couldn’t see.

Clutching her dressing gown close at her throat she became suddenly aware of  just how hard her heart was beating.  Fragmented memories of her waking dream returned as she looked up from the dog into the mirror above the basin.  After noticing the uncomfortable look on her own face she turned her gaze to the reflection behind the bathroom door. Again nothing. That bloody dream had really spooked her. Six months and she still couldn’t move forward.

Brushing her teeth she kept a watchful gaze over her shoulder. She thought she might feel better with the door closed but then would she be brave enough to open it again after showering?

Teeth brushed she dropped her robe on the floor and stepped into the bath pulling the shower curtain across.  She turned the water as hot as she could bear to try and alleviate the cold that had gripped her, then moved under the jets to warm and clean herself.

After a while she felt warmer, cleaner and more awake. Turning off the taps she moved to pull the shower curtain back. As she gripped the edge of the curtain an image burst into her head. That dream again. Hesitating for just a second she threw the curtain back.  Archie was sitting where he had been when she had got in, but now beside him, was her dream solidified.

“Stan?” she whispered. “How can it be?”

 

 

 

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Coffee?

The theme for our writing group this week was Humour. We had a list of 16 possible prompts from which to write something humorous.  The one I randomly chose was to write about an amusing incident at work.  This true story comes from my time working in London.  Although this wasn’t included in #BerwickStreettoBarcelona there are plenty of other stories of a similar vein.  Have you got your copy yet? (All proceeds go to  www.justgiving.com/fundraising/anthony-stiggants )

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Working in a hotel has its ups and downs, its poignant moments and funny ones.

For a few months in my twenties I worked in a hotel restaurant in central London, managing a small team  serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Lunches were often hectic and fraught with hidden danger, both from the diners and from the restaurant equipment.

“We’ve run out of coffee,” cried one of the waitresses as if it was the end of the world. She was prone to the occasional exaggeration. Her nickname was Donna Drama.

“Give me the cafetiere and I’ll make some fresh,” I offered taking said cafetiere from her and heading back to the behind-the-scenes servery.

I took the coffee down off the shelf and was about to put it into the cafetiere and add the hot water from the boiler when I noticed a slight crack in the glass.  Thinking quickly I grabbed a spare one from one of the store cupboards, whilst helping myself to a cheese vol-au-vent at the same time.

“Table three needs coffee now,” called Donna as if her life depended on it. Did I mention she was a bit of a drama queen?

“It’s coming,” I called back.

I poured the coffee into the replacement cafetiere and added the boiling water, carefully replacing the top.

“I need it now, like now now,” Donna almost wailed as she came into the servery.

With a sigh and roll of my eyes I pressed down on the plunger on the cafetiere.

Unknown to me this one had also had a crack in it and for some reason had been put aside, instead of being thrown out. As I pushed down on the plunger the cafetiere exploded covering all points south with scalding coffee.

Bravely, I only screamed a little as the boiling liquid soaked through to my more delicate parts.

At this point the food and beverage manager burst in. “What is…” he began to say then on seeing the scene rushed at me and pulled my trousers to the floor. “That was close you could have burnt… er scalded your…. Er …. Well you know what I mean.” On his face was a look somewhere between relief and embarrassment.

Standing there with my trousers round my ankles, not a position I was normally averse to, I couldn’t help but smile at the food and beverage manager and tell him, “Trevor, If you had only asked we could have done this a long time ago,”

Now he looked even more embarrassed.

“And thanks for saving the family jewels, I may need those later.” I laughed.

“I think you should go change your trousers,now, don’t you?” was his reply. “And take the rest of the afternoon off.”

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Dark III

The second of Chrissy’s writing challenges was to …
“Ask three people, on line, on the phone or in person what their favourite onomatopoeia is. Write a short piece with these three words in the text.”
So the words I eventually ended up with are… sizzle, trickle, drizzle, purr and clunk…

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The guy in the park had been less informative than I had expected. He had done little more than tease me with the short interchange we had shared, then invited me to join him at a group of which he was part. He gave me a card, that was more like a tarot card than a business card and said he hoped that he’d see me at the group the next evening.  At the time I took hardly any notice of his card and shoved it in my pocket with little more than a quick glance.  From it I learnt that his name was Dane Slagskygge and that  the group, which he had already told me, was ‘From the Shadows’.

Walking to the park, and sitting in the sunshine had raised my mood slightly, but the encounter with Dane and now the drizzle that had started out of nowhere had pushed me back down.  The words from my waking dream were back with a vengeance and running round in my head.  They had returned as an intrusive repetitive purr but were gaining strength. A migraine wouldn’t be far away.

As I trudged homewards the sky darkened even more. It was clear a storm was coming. I was now wishing I had put on a warm coat instead of the shades that were now surplus to requirements.  The rain had started to trickle down my neck wetting my collar and my shoes were soaking up the water as it settled in small puddles.

Instead of rushing home and getting a complete soaking I decided to duck into the cafe I sometimes went to for breakfast. Looking through the window I could se that I wasn’t hte only one caught out by the suddenness of the change of the weather.

I pushed the door open making the bell above it jingle.  It was such a traditional greasy spoon type cafe. There was a low murmur of conversation but the dominant sound that grabbed my attention was the sizzling of the grill from which the smell of bacon wafted across the room assaulting my nostrils. I moved towards an empty table and took a seat on the bench along the side wall.

” You’re late today. The usual?” Belle, the waitress asked as she sidled up to me with a coffee jug in her hand. She was easily old enough to be my grandmother but as spritely as a teenager, and so much more pleasant. She placed a mug on the table in front of me.

“Fill her up,”  I told her pushing the mug towards her. “And yes the full veggie.”

“A man of habit,” she commented as she filled the mug. “Bad day today?”

“Again,” I replied. She instinctively picked up on my demeanor.

She knew me well and instead of offering some pointless platitude simply tilted her head signaling her understanding, giving me a wink at the same time. She grabbed my shoulder as she returned to the kitchen.

Beside me on the bench there was a damp newspaper. I didn’t usually read the news, finding it all too depressing, but something about the headline had caught my eye.  I picked the paper up and shook it out to read the article.  I was just a few words into the story when there was a loud clunk on the table. I looked up from the paper slightly startled, but it was only Belle with my all-day breakfast.

She was normally a seen and not heard kind of waitress, unless you were looking for conversation. Then she could talk the hind legs off the proverbial donkey. I looked up from the plate to her. For just a moment she had a blank look on her face.

“Don’t go,” she whispered. Her face changed as if registering where she was after a long sleep.

“I’ve only just got here,” I half-joked away the awkwardness.

“I know, love. More coffee?”  She asked brightly. It was clear she had no recollection of what she had just said.

I nodded and as she moved away looked back at the article I had been reading. ‘What the hell is going on?’ I asked myself under my breath.

01-14 Drizzle

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Who me?

Today at our new writing group we were asked to write an introduction to ourselves for someone else to introduce us to an unknown audience, either for a book prize or a magazine article…  Here’s my scribbling about me. (Which I am sure many of you already know, at least most of  the details, and some of you will already know a lot more). Our pieces were read out by someone else in the group…

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN I AM PLEASED TO INTRODUCE …..  Mark Tullett

AS a child Mark was told by his ENglish teacher that he would never write anything that anyone would ever want to read. I am happy to say he has proved her wrong.

In 2011 Mark wrote about his experiences on the Camino de Santiago in “The Magic of the Camino” and has followed that up with 5 novels (so far), 3 for children, which have all been well-received. Mark’s latest work is the autobiographical “Berwick Street To Barcelona” (available direct from the author) , the profits for which all go to charity.

Mark was born in Sussex, on  the south coast of England, the first son of a working class family. Writing was not something he ever dreamed of doing.

After school Mark studied catering in London where he lived for over 20 years before moving to Vilanova in 2004, which he had for a long time felt to be his spiritual home.

Having traced his family lines back through the years Mark was delighted to cont one of Britain’s most famous writers as one of his cousins. That cousin was William Shakespeare.

Mark currently shares his time between wiring, teaching English to the locals and running a tourist apartment in Vilanova. He lives with his rescue family of two dogs and five cats.

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Dark II

Although I had decided not to listen to any other self revelations from the recording those three words stayed with me.  They weren’t constant but once they started the self maintaining loop, they were worse than any earwig pop song.  

Sleep was elusive even when dusk turned to night.  My insomnia was a two-pronged problem.  On one hand my mind wouldn’t, or couldn’t let go, while on the other I wasn’t ready to return to the darkness of sleep.  What might wait for me in the unconscious slumber scared me.

No matter how much I tried to fight the pull of sleep it gained the upper hand on occasion during the night, but it failed to be restful and when morning came I was exhausted and out of sorts.  

After the briefest of ablutions I decided that a walk would do me good. The dark corners in my mind that usually retreated with the dawn were more persistent than usual.  I needed time in the sun.  Donning my shades to hide my tired bloodshot eyes I headed out to the park. 

After having walked around for what felt like at least an hour I could feel my spirits rising, while my energy depleted. I decided to sit on the closest bench and enjoy the warmth of the day.  I crossed my legs and closed my eyes, leaning back to get the full sun on my face.

I hadn’t been sitting long when a shadow briefly fell across my face.  I ignored it until a voice quietly asked, “May I?” 

I opened my eyes.  A blond man of indeterminate age stood there.  He gestured to the bench.  He clearly wanted to join me. I gestured back indicating he should feel free to do so. 

“Lovely day,” he said as he sat.

I  hardly took any notice of him and didn’t want to get into conversation so nodded, hoping that he would take the hint.  He was good looking but I hadn’t come to the park to cruise. 

“But the shadows remain,” he added in a deeper tone. 

Now I was interested.  “Sorry?” I asked.

“I know you heard.  I know you understand,” the blond stranger told me. 

“You wha…?” I began to ask then switched to, “who are you?”

“Someone who knows,” he replied enigmatically. 

“Knows what?” I asked him. He knew he had me hooked.  He had a satisfied look on his face. 

“How it feels, and the answer to that question stuck in your head. But…” He started to stand up. 

“But nothing, sorry,” I quickly interrupted, “please…” I needed to know more. I wanted those three words and the feelings they caused out of my head. 

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In the Dark

Another friend, Chrissy, has a writing blog, similar to this one and is, this year, posting a weekly challenge. She has just posted the first of these… here’s my effort…

It was suggested that we close our eyes and freefall comment on what we saw, either getting someone to take notes or record ourselves.

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Having been posed a writing challenge I  decided it was about time I wrote something again. It was a little outside my normal methodology but I thought it would be good to try something completely different.

I decided to lie down on the bed and as suggested in the challenge closed my eyes, having already set the voice recorder on my phone to listen in and record any ramblings.

The blackness was complete. I saw nothing except a faint imprint of the room which my eyes had just closed off from.  I squeezed my eyes tight shut, and still just the blackness. I let my mind wander as I laid there, bidding welcome to whatever thoughts that may come.

What felt like just a few moments later I opened my eyes. I was sure that my creative flow was temporarily dried up. I blinked a couple of times. Around me the room was pitch black. The darkness I had experienced when I had closed my eyes first of all had taken over the day. I could still more or less see the outline of the furniture around the room, or at least thought I could. It felt like the light had been sucked out, even the streetlamp that normally shone through the window was dark. I turned my head to check the time on the alarm-clock. It too was dark.

‘Must be a power cut,’ I told myself, all the while feeling something had changed, something was wrong.

I reached for my phone. It wasn’t there. The bedside table wasn’t there. I waved my hand around, stretching back to touch the wall. It wasn’t there either.

“What the…” I whispered into the room.  There was no other sound. Even the sound of my voice was muffled.

Below me I could still feel the bed, the warmth from the duvet against my back, and under that the cushioning spring of the mattress. The comfort of the pillows was still real, and the throw with which I’d covered my feet was still there as far as I could tell, but nothing else. Clasping my hands on my chest I closed my eyes tight again. I had no intention of moving until I understood better the situation I had woken upon, besides I needed to stop the racing of my heart and conjure up some saliva. My mouth was completely dry.

“Calm down, don’t worry. There has to be a logical explanation,” I told myself.

“Yeah right,” I replied. “One, don’t tell a worrier not to worry; and two, logical explanation, in whose world?”

“All you have to do is wake up,” a more logical side of my brain told me.

“So I’m sleeping?” I asked.

“Duh,” Replied the same logical side. “Just go with it and count yourself awake.”

“One, two three… nine, ten, eleven,” I counted opening my eyes as I said twelve aloud.

The room was there just as I had ‘left’ it moments ago. I looked at the alarm-clock. I had fallen asleep and dozed for almost an hour. I picked up my phone. It was still recording. I turned the recorder off and clicked the link to play the MP3 file. The first three words I heard on there chilled me. I quickly closed the app. I’d had enough for one day.

dark_room

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