‘I Wonder’ by Jan Strickland

A very warm welcome to a regular contributor with a heartfelt poem, which I’m sure many a mother will relate to.

London

I Wonder

I sometimes lie awake at night and think of you
and I wonder if only, and why?
I think of where you are and what you do,
and I wonder if only, and why?

You have been shielded at home by love and strength,
but you wanted to go it alone.
You felt stifled; hemmed in and decided to go
the length of Britain to find a new home.

You’re enjoying your freedom, your new job and your friends,
but I worry you may be let down.
You’re too much ‘the giver’, and people just take,
so be wary, my son, in that town.

You’re our baby, our lad, our young man, our son.
We love you so much and time flies.
So I think of you often, where you are, what you do.
And I wonder if only, and why?

(c) Jan Strickland

New Writing Competition – October

suitcase

Thank you to Sherri who, as winner of last month’s mini writing comp, has provided the new writing prompt of ‘An Unexpected Journey’ for October’s competition.

This leaves great scope for interpretation and I look forward to reading the entries once again.

As such I invite you to submit a piece of flash fiction (up to 500 words) or poetry along this theme on the designated competition page.

The last entry date for this month is 24th of October and then people have between then and the end of the month to vote for their favourite, with the next competition starting at the beginning of November and the winner of this month setting the next writing prompt.

Thank you in advance to all taking part and good luck! 🙂

And September’s winner is………

wiinners cup

The votes are in and many congratulations to Sherri who has won September’s mini writing competition with her entry ‘Free’.

As winner, Sherri is now entitled to set the writing prompt for October’s competition and I will notify you all once I have more information on this.

A big thank you once again to all who took part this month and made it such a strong competition. 🙂

Have you voted?…..

voting donkey

There’s still a day and a half left to vote – have you had the chance to vote for your favourite yet? All I can say is I’m glad it’s not up to me! 🙂

The Voting Is Now Open….

vote now

Once again I have enjoyed reading the entries for this month’s competition, which has arguably been the strongest to date. Now it’s over to you. Will your favourite entry come out on top?

All visitors to the site are encouraged to vote and to all participants – round up your friends, family and supporters and make those votes count! 🙂

Please vote for your favourite between now and the end of the month and the winner will set the next writing prompt for October. Happy reading!

Suggestions for title welcome – Entry from chichlee

Thank you to chichlee from peregrinations for her clever (literal) take on the theme of ‘Partings’. This is a fun read and it’s always good to welcome new participants. To add an extra element to this entry, why not leave title suggestions in the comments?

girl on bike

chichlee says:

September 23, 2013 at 8:57 pm

(I’m lousy with titles, so if anyone has a suggestion for this one, please let me know)

Her stepmother brushed her hair so hard! Of course, it was tangled – she’d just woken up. Shelly wondered how her hair always looked so perfect when she came out of her room in the morning. Maybe because it was so curly. Shelly secretly wondered if it wasn’t hair at all but maybe a woolen cap, and she just slipped it on her head every morning.

Shelly’s hair was straight. She’d asked a million times if she could cut it. It always got in the way when she was trying to watch a tadpole in the creek, or swinging by her knees from the limb of a tree, or the jungle gym. No, of course not, a girl doesn’t cut her hair.

“A woman’s beauty is in her hair,” she was told. “And it should never be allowed to hang in the face, especially when a face is as pretty as yours is.” Shelly would roll her eyes. “And look at that widow’s peak!” (Whatever that was, thought Shelly).

“At least let me have bangs,” whined Shelly on many occasions.

“And lose that stunning, high forehead? Never! Why, you don’t want to look like a boy, do you?”

Shelly’s best friends were all boys. Why shouldn’t she have hair as easy as theirs?

So the brushing ritual had to be endured every morning, before Shelly even had any cereal. Dang!

But, worst of all were the braids.

First, a severe parting, carved down the middle of her head from stem to stern with the sharpest comb ever invented. Then the tug and pull and twist and yank of the first braid (always the left); “rinse and repeat” on the right.

Shelly went to school every day with a raw-looking red line halving her skull. But she triumphed over her stepmother’s will by the end of the day.

Somewhere around 2PM (sometimes earlier, but always after recess) Shelly’s fine auburn hair slipped its restraints, slim strand by slim strand, and began waving about her head like rays of the setting sun. By the time she rode her bike home, that parting was nothing but a faint signpost among a criss-crossing of alternately loosely held and totally free hanks of hair, and the braids were stumpy, crooked, dwarf-like versions of their former selves.

(c) chichlee

‘Free’ by Sherri

Welcome to Sherri with her entry for this month’s mini writing competition on ‘Partings’. As I said on my last post, I have been blown away by the quality of the writing this month and a big thank you to all who have taken part. Please check back in tomorrow when voting opens to make sure that your favourite wins. The winner will then set the writing prompt for October’s competition, which will open at the start of next month.

Sherri says:

September 23, 2013 at 5:50 pm

horizon

FREE

The end, when it came, had been swift. She had heard his car pull into the garage and the slam of the door as he got out. She had known that there would be no “Hi!”, no “Honey, I’m home!”. He had greeted her with the silence that he always had, the brooding moodiness of a man who long-ago had detached himself from any hint of the meaning of a loving relationship.

“We have to talk. We can’t go on like this,” he had said as he wiped the beading sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand.

“We need to get a divorce.”

She had been rendered speechless as she had tried to register the finality of his words and
she hadn’t known whether to laugh, cry or plunge a knife deep into his chest, yank out his heart and cut it into a thousand pieces.

Not that she had been bitter or anything.

Scrambled thoughts had screamed out deep within her yet she had uttered nothing.
What? You’ve got to be kidding? After all these years, when I’ve begged you for a divorce and you wouldn’t let me go and I promised you that I would never take the kids away from you, now you are telling me that you want a divorce? Just like that?

Instead, she had stared into the face of the man who had been her husband for twenty years and yet now was a stranger to her.

In the end, she had said nothing and had merely walked away.

Now, months later, here they were, standing in the hall of their empty house, no longer their home. She had been strong up until then, busying herself with all practical matters that are necessary for a move, for her children’s new schools, for a divorce. Now her children had to say goodbye to their father and her strength deserted her.

She watched as her little girl and her little boy fell into their father’s arms, the man who was casting them all adrift, as her daughter smiled and said, “See you soon Daddy!”

His composure had barely faltered but she almost lost it, thinking that at any moment her heart would explode with a grief so pure that she thought she might actually lose her mind.

Backing out of the driveway as the children waved frantically to their father from the car window, she turned to glance at him one more time. They would see each other again, of course, but whatever they had once had so long ago was now finished.

It was over, but she still had the two things that mattered more than anything in the world – her children and her sanity.

Hours later, as she drove ever closer to her unknown distant horizon, she realised one other thing. She knew that she was free.

(c) Sherri

‘New Beginnings’ by Stevie Preater

I am pleased to welcome a new participant, Stevie Preater, with her take on the prompt of ‘Partings’. The standard and variety of entries this month has been fantastic and voting will open tomorrow. In the meantime I will leave you all to enjoy this latest entry. 🙂

steviepreater says:

September 23, 2013 at 5:23 pm

train track

New Beginnings

‘I’m going to miss you,’ she said, kissing me stiffly on each cheek.
‘I’ll miss you too,’ I said, but I didn’t believe myself. I would not miss her, not at all.
It was all a show, for the benefit of my father, who loved both of us and could not, or would not, see the tension between us.
Maybe I would miss the house. My bedroom was my sanctuary. Taking down my posters and photographs and seeing the pale walls marked with white circles of blu-tack residue had been hard. They had looked so cold I had wanted to cover them up all over again.
But I knew that I could put them up in my new room. My new space. A space where my step-mother did not feature at all.
I would miss my dog. I still wished so much that I could take him with me, to guard me and keep me safe as he always had done. But the University halls would not allow it. Besides, it comforted me to know that he would be watching over my father; taking care of him.
I hated the corny things that people my age were saying. I didn’t feel as if I was starting ‘a new chapter of my life,’ or ‘becoming an adult.’ I felt the same as I always had. Just now I would feel it in a different place. And that made me hopeful.
I hugged my father and words failed us. Instead of cry, he heaved my luggage onto the train, straining with the effort.
The summer had been a rainy one, and now as I settled down into my seat I watched drops racing each other down the window pain, my father and step-mother standing quietly in the background under a large, black umbrella.
I felt as if I should cry. The whole world seemed to be encouraging me to do so. But I did not. I couldn’t. To force myself would have been false.
The train pulled out of the station and all three of us waved at each other. Suddenly I gasped. For the first time in months, maybe even years, I felt the heaviness in my chest dissipate. It was terrifying. It felt as if there was nothing tying me to the ground. But maybe, I thought, in time that could come to be a good thing.
Sometimes saying goodbye wasn’t so hard after all.

(c) Stevie Preater

‘The Ghetto’ by Andrew Geary

I am pleased to share another thought provoking entry on this month’s theme of ‘Partings’ from another new participant, Andrew Geary. Thank you for taking part Andrew and for your valued contribution.

THE GHETTO

man walking

Another building jumps
into the terrain, its lights charge
the hollering in the barbershop.
I remember how you hated
those who defended the sanctity
of this place, now you stand there
alongside the protesting.

‘The renewal is eating-up
the neighborhood,’ you say,
‘this is our home,’ but this is no home
for rising. Even when they level
the derelict charm of tenements,
there will always remain those who yell
at the progress of things. You stand firm,
believing in the value of this place
and this life, and you will teach
our child to value the comforts
of squalor. You see me, behind a counter,
to feed our son, but I won’t see him,
bitter, or worse, in love with this
hole. I’m leaving, but you will always stay–
fear is your life.

(c) Andrew Geary

‘Grief’ by John Skendall

I would like to welcome another new participant in the mini monthly competitions – John Skendall – with his piece prompted by the theme of Partings. Another strong entry and this month is shaping up to be one of the best yet. Please swing by and see the entries to date; I’m sure that you will find something that you like.

John Skendall says:

September 9, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Grief

baseball

We were going to play catch,
to pass this baseball
wound in cord, skin stitched tight,
back and forth
in a quiet arc
until the night came
and our eyes strained
to see anything at all.
But when I turned to release just now
you were gone—
Mom and Dad on the deck
pouring lemonade,
cousins orbiting the house
in playful pursuit,
and me here, under this
empty blue sky,
staring at your impressions
in the grass
watching the ball bounce
and roll, too fast to chase.

(c) John Skendall