Sunday, 26 October 2014

Where did you get that bruise?



In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.

Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!
http://writeworld.tumblr.com/post/92437495934/where-did-you-get-that-bruise
“Where did you get that bruise?” he demanded as he grabbed her arm; almost bruising her himself.
She snatched her arm away from him. “What’s it matter to you?”
“Where?” he demanded.
“I ran into a door,” she said flippantly.
He gave her an exasperated look. “I don’t think so.” He turned her arm over. “Did he do this?”
She sighed.
No answer was as good as an answer.
“I’ll kill him,” he grunted out.
“No... you won’t.” For a second, she wished to touch his face. Her voice softened, “He’s my father.”
“I don’t care who he is. He cannot treat you like this.”
If he did something stupid, they would all be in trouble. She needed to explain to him. “Better me than my little sisters.”
His face fell. “Oh, Jesus... no.”
“Do you see now?” she asked quietly. “I am all that stands between him and them.”
“I want to help.”
“I know... but... I can’t see a way out of it right now.”
He hugged her and she let herself hug him back. “I’ll wait,” he promised. “I’ll wait and I’ll be there and I’ll help when you think of a plan.”
She smiled weakly at him. “Sure.”
“Plans are what you are good at,” he said.
Studying his eyes, she asked, “Will you really wait? For me?”
“Yes.”
“You don’t mind the package deal? Me and my sisters.”
“Of course not.”
A quick nod. If she knew that, then she could last. She could take the punishment until she saw a way out for them all. And then she’d take her sisters with her and no-one would ever hurt any of them ever again.
~~~~
© AM Gray 2014


Saturday, 25 October 2014

And these things just come naturally to you?



In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.

Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!
http://writeworld.tumblr.com/post/96410079504/and-these-things-just-come-naturally-to-you
“And these things just come naturally to you?” His voice dripped with sarcasm.
She didn’t answer him.
“Do they?” he demanded.
“Yes... they do.” Her voice was so quiet only those closest to her could hear it.
“What’s that?” he asked. “Mouse?” he added with a pointed glance at the people hanging on his every word. A few obligingly snickered.
She shrunk down a little more; trying to look small and defenceless.
“Fortune telling?” He laughed.
Learning quickly, more of the crowd chuckled this time.
“So you can see my future?”
“And your past,” she added.
“Oh, ho?” He waved a hand and the crowd laughed derisively.
Her jaw gritted. He was really annoying her.
“So what?” he asked. “You read my tea leaves? Look at my palm?”
“No.” She paused. “I need your blood.”
“Ooooh.” He held his hands in front of her face and waggled his fingers. “Blood.”
Small as she was, she didn’t blink. She had moved from annoyance to active dislike. “Just a small drop,” she said with a head tilt. The implication was there even if she didn’t say it.
And he knew it. He leaned in and hissed in her ear, “I am not frightened of you or your fortune telling.”
She didn’t answer; just drew a small shallow bowl from inside her cloak.
He eyed it off. “Don’t tell me you are going to drink it?”
“I need wine,” she said. “White wine.”
With a gesture from him, servants moved to obey.
“A small table? If you please?” she added. Her fear was gone. This was what she did. As he had said, it was her nature. And she knew that he wanted to hear his fortune. He was curious, and that meant she wasn’t dead... yet.
“Why blood?” he asked. The question was quiet; just for her.
A servant passed her a glass carafe. She poured, and then placed the bowl in the dead centre of the table. It was a perfect height for her to lean over dramatically.
He was still waiting for her reply.
Her mind was racing; trying to piece together every little piece of gossip she had heard in the time that she had been travelling his kingdom. Another part of her was trying to compose something that sounded suitably poetic and a third part was praying. Her gift was erratic but tonight she was praying that it actually worked. Perhaps she could dwell in the poetic past and hope that she caught a glimpse into the future.
“It has to have a cost to you,” she finally answered him. “Gold means too little.”
“So you have heard of my wealth?” he preened.
She wanted to remind him that he had clearly heard of her and dragged her to him by force of arms... but she didn’t. Palming a blade from inside another pocket, she said, “Blood.”
He frowned at her. She was supposed to have been searched for weapons. “And allow you to stick me with your blade? I don’t think so.”
She shrugged. “As you wish.”
“Does it matter where the blood comes from?”
“No.” All blood passed through the heart and the brain, allowing her - if the gift worked - to know what he thought and what he felt.
He had to use his own dagger; the point held to the tip of his finger. The drop fell with an audible plink.
“Three drops,” she said.
He obeyed.
She didn’t really need three drops; she just wanted to see him bleed. Perhaps she should have asked for ten? But she had him now. He was nervous. Obviously he had something to be nervous about.
She saw that he resisted the temptation to lick his finger like a child; he wiped it on his sleeve.
She leaned down over the bowl. Her head above it and her hands gripped on the table edge. Closing her eyes, she prayed. “This may take a moment,” she said, stalling for time.
He threw himself into a chair and feigned nonchalance.
She took as long as she could before she spoke; now her voice rang out.
“First and only child of the father, but not of the mother-”
“Everyone knows my mother was married to his brother first.”
She silenced him with a look. “Born hungry, a death already to your name.”
His leg jigged nervously.
“Your twin dead. One for above, one for below. The evidence-” She scrabbled in her head for death ritual information. “-burnt to ash. Your mother broken and now barren. A womb of tears, poisoned and slowly killing her. Your father lost in mourning.”
He stared at her.
“Your step brother died. Fell from the battlements they said.”
“She had me,” he whispered. “I should have been enough.”
She threw her arms out wide; today the gift was working she could feel it. It remained to be seen if that was a good thing.
The room was deathly silent.
“You grew,” she said. “Almost unmatched in physical strength and grace. Told you were a good boy and great man until you believed it yourself. But you are not a good king.”
Someone gasped behind her.
“Your kingdom ails. The root crop is rotten in the ground. The wheat blackens and falls before it can be harvested. The fruit on the trees is stunted and does not ripen.” She pointed at him. “You do not see it!”
He rose to his feet; his face white.
“You eat! You feast while your people starve.” She knew she had minutes left. “You are the bad king who will fight off all revolutions. You will rule on in chaos and fear. But the child of the queen-”
“A child?” he interrupted; he sounded almost hopeful.
“-will be your death,” she finished.
“Shut up!” he shouted at her.
“And it is NOT your child!”
“SHUT UP!” he screamed it at her now. Grabbing the top of her arms with his hands and shaking her.
“You beat her for it but she does... not... love... you.” She spat it in his face.
He released one hand. She knew what was coming. He hauled back and slapped her. It hurt but he only held her with one hand now. She twisted out of his grip, scooped the bowl off the table and threw the contents in his eyes. He pushed her away from him.
Another hand locked around her arm. She would have bruises for days if she survived this. She was yanked backwards. She caught a glimpse of the horrified face of the king before it seemed as if the wall opened up and swallowed them.
She tried to speak but a hand was slapped over her face. They were inside the wall. The noise of the crowd in the audience chamber was muted.
The man held a finger to his lips. She blinked slowly to indicate she understood.
The passage was narrow and cramped; the air stale and musty. They hurried along for some distance until he spoke, “If he kills her, you die, too.”
The queen? “He won’t. I saw the future.”
A snort.
“It’s your child,” she guessed.
“My son,” he said proudly.
“I didn’t say it was a son,” she commented as she checked her bowl was unbroken.
He gave her a look. “Huh.” He nodded. “If she is anything like her mother I wouldn’t be surprised what she will do.”
“Oh, she’ll be amazing.”
~~~~
© AM Gray 2014



Friday, 24 October 2014

The worst thing about the funeral is that her socks are wet



In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.

Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!
http://writeworld.tumblr.com/post/98760120497/the-worst-thing-about-the-funeral-is-that-her-socks-are
The worst thing about the funeral is that her socks are wet. It is such a cliché that it always rains at a funeral but it is and she is, so both those things seem true. She isn’t mourning and her wet socks make her sad but not enough to cry.
People are crying; some silently and some dramatically clutching white lace-trimmed handkerchiefs that look so pristine they must save them for funerals.
She had listened to the eulogies and wondered that a person could live his whole life in self-contained compartments as the deceased must have done. Then she had followed the hearse and the coffin to the interment. She needed to see it.
She is fairly certain that none of these people knew the dead man; not even his closest family. At least they didn’t really know him. They came from one room in his life, she came from another. She was the interloper; the outsider. She did not belong here and if he was alive, he would have had her removed. Or shot.
She knew him; knew him too well and she was here to make sure that he went into the ground. She wasn’t crying and no amount of drama from other people would encourage her to shed a single tear.
Her whole family was dead, and it was on the orders of this man.
It made her rage inside that he got to die peacefully in his bed when she had hoped to kill him herself. But the opportunity had never arisen; the exact right set of circumstances that would have resulted in his death. She was driven by revenge but she was not stupid or suicidal. As the last of her family, a lot was riding on her slim shoulders.
The ceremony finished and people started to walk back to their cars.
She noted the exact position of the grave. Maybe she should return tonight and salt and burn him just to make sure he didn’t come back? The thought made her want to laugh. One of his men was watching her as she moved through the people to get closer to the hole.
She crouched down next to the grave, made the mano cornuta horn symbol with her fingers pointing down towards the ground and she whispered, “I’ll see you in Hell.” And then she spat into it before rising and walking away.
~~~~
© AM Gray 2014


Thursday, 23 October 2014

reading list

The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
A strange thing happened when I was reading this book. Goodreads sends status updates to my Twitter account, so when I told the site I was 68 pages into this book, it sent out a tweet to say that. The tweet was seen by the author of the book who sent me a message to ask if this was the first of her books that I had read.
The twitter account is set up as a Mary Russell account - the main character in the books. I didn’t initially notice this. I think she was mid-change to this set-up because I remember the photo as that of an older lady. I could be thinking of her Goodreads page: I honestly don’t remember.
I replied and said something about how it had been recommended to me by a friend who didn’t read fanfiction. I would have been interested in a discussion about how the heck she got this story line past the Conan Doyle estate as I thought they were terriers at protecting their Holmes.
I got the idea when she replied that she was not a fictional character and then I continued with what I hope sounded like a Holmsean line that it was mere logic; she was fifteen in the books in 1915, therefore she had to be 114 years old in 2014 and was probably dead. She replied with a plural ‘we’ that neither of them were dead.

Now, it is the ‘we’ that stops me. Holmes is already an old man in her books. If Mary is 114, Holmes must be over 160!
I am literally 68 pages into the first book of a thirteen book series and she has just let out a huge spoiler. Both Mary and Holmes are alive.
Maybe I should assume that, given there are thirteen books in the series? Or maybe not. Maybe Holmes dies in book one and Mary goes on to have a great career as an observant detective? And she is the detective in the rest of the series.
But whatever the reason, it stopped me in my tracks.
And I can’t read any more of the story.


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Through the curling flames


In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.

Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!
http://writeworld.tumblr.com/post/94485365786/through-the-curling-flames-rising-from-the-ship-he
~~~~~~
Through the curling flames rising from the ship, he caught sight of a familiar dark head of hair and a broad, confident grin. “Oh, no. Tell me that is not who I think it is,” he pleaded with his first mate.
“How did he get over there?” the mate asked.
“How did he get out of the brig?”
“No idea, but that is definitely your brother, Captain.”
“JAMES! Get your ass back here,” he ordered at a level of a bull-roaring shout.
“In a minute... I just need to find someone -” He looked around, ran down the burning deck and grabbed a dishevelled crewman who tried to fight him off. “- and here he is!” He tossed the slight but struggling crewman over his shoulder, grabbed a rope, walked down a fallen mast and jumped down onto the deck of their ship.
“Disengage!” the captain ordered.
Grappling hooks and ropes were disengaged and the ships pushed apart before the fire could spread to their vessel.
The crewman, when dropped to their feet, turned out to be a woman. She turned and tried to punch her rescuer in the head. He fought her off and pinioned her arms behind her back. “May I introduce you to my wife.”
“A loving relationship,” said the first mate dryly.
“Wife?” the captain checked.
“She was drunk, but lucky I remembered the ceremony!”
She spat at him.
“Right. So the alleged treasure that the Mariana carried is-,” the captain waved a hand at her, “-her?”
“You always were the smart one, brother.”
“Uh, huh.” He gave her a more intense look and then he snatched the hat from her head so he could see her face more clearly. “Are you kidding me?”
“Isn't she beautiful?” James asked no-one in particular.
The she in question still looked very angry but the first mate suddenly recognised her as well and started to laugh.
“How dare you!” she snarled at him.
“Oh, I do apologise... your highness.”
The captain rolled his eyes. “The missing princess,” he sighed. “I should have known you would have something to do with this.”
“Hey!” his brother protested, “I didn't kidnap her, she ran away. I just found her and ...” He grinned rascally.
“Oh, good god. Please tell me we do not have to explain to the King that you consummated the marriage.”
He elbowed his brother in the side. “Of course I did... not that she was... you know-”
“Hey,” she interrupted, “That was the horse riding.”
“Sure it was, darling.”
She tried to hit him again but he easily ducked her blows.
“Your highness, you may have my quarters,” the captain offered.
She straightened her shoulders, tucked her hair behind her ear and tried to look like royalty. “Thank you, captain. I will take you up on your kind offer.” She ignored her alleged husband.
The captain gestured at the mate. “Please escort her, Jones.” He lowered his voice and pressed a key into his hand. “And lock her in.”
“Yes, Captain.”
James grinned at him and folded his arms. “Not going to lock me in there with her?” he said, after she had gone below decks.
“Definitely not.” He gave him a second look. “And don’t think I will lock you in the brig again, either. No idea how you got out in the first place.”
He laughed. “Just as well. You wouldn't want to be accused of injuring the princess.”
He shook his head. “I don’t even want to think about it. I suppose it is good that you knew where she was.”
Another grin.
“Oh... I see. She was exactly where you left her.”
“Smart...”
He clapped his brother on the back. “One day, you will be the death of me.”
“But not today. Today I earn you the thanks of a grateful monarch.”
They both laughed as they headed for the helm.
~~~~
© AM Gray 2014

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

I can’t get married



In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.

Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!
http://writeworld.tumblr.com/post/97181416646/i-cant-get-married

“I can’t get married.” She said it quietly and then she sat silently as she was abused for everything from her misguided understanding of her family status to her perceived act of feminism. The topic of marrying her off had arisen because she was now eighteen.
She waited.
It took a long time before the threats and the shouting died down enough for her to explain further.
“I can’t get married,” she repeated, “Because I am already married.”
Her father’s face went so red she suspected he might actually have a stroke. “Whaat?”
“To whom?” the royal advisor demanded. “As far as I know, you never leave the palace.”
No. She didn’t, and she almost hated the man for reminding her. She allowed a tight glare at him before she got herself back under control.
“Who did you marry?” her father demanded. “And when?”
“I was a child and it was to Stefan of Moldavia. You remember, father?” The young man had seemed a lot older than she was to her five year old self. Now, she guessed he had been early teens, perhaps twelve. She had held some romantic fantasies over him as she grew up. And she had never forgotten him. He had been sweet to her when she had been terrified by the whole process. She spent the ceremony holding tightly to his hand.
“Ohh, ppfft,” her father said. “That was nothing.” His standard response when things didn’t match his plans.
“Nevertheless it was a marriage; not just an engagement.” Her nurse had explained the difference to her. She was the only one who had taken the time to do so, before she was dismissed some years later for trying to help the young princess.
“I-I have no record of this,” Chancellor Boleyn blustered.
“You are a recent addition to the household,” she reminded him. He looked, oddly guilty to her, though. “There must be a record of it. And I would be most surprised if his kingdom has not been in contact.” Especially as she had aged, and was now old enough to assume all the responsibilities of her position as wife.
“Boleyn?” the king demanded.
“I... I had no idea.”
The king understood that he was dissembling. “Did they contact us?”
“There was a letter... but I didn’t know-”
“What did you tell them?” she asked.
He gaped at her. “I--”
“What did you tell them, Boleyn?” the king asked.
“That the princess was to be married to another.”
“Your majesty?” a guard interrupted.
“Not now!” the king rounded on him.
“There is an envoy... from Moldavia.”
She wanted to laugh; the timing was exquisite. “Is it Prince Stefan?” she asked, her heart in her throat.
He bowed to her. “Yes, your highness-” he glanced at the king, “- and he has brought an army,” the guard added.
She gasped.
“This is outrageous!” the king said. “It’s an invasion.”
The guard spoke, “He said it was required as a sign of respect for his wife.” The statement went up on the end; it was more of a question.
She smoothed down her skirts, and rose. “That would be me,” she told the astonished guard. She hurried out of the room and nobody moved to stop her. It was so hard to keep her pace to a fast walk and not a run.
She grabbed the first horse she saw and rode out to greet her husband. She was not surprised to see her old nurse in part of his entourage.
“I did wonder how you knew I needed rescuing,” she said to him later, when they were alone.
“Did you like the army? Was it too much?”
She chuckled. “You came; you didn’t send a representative. They were so surprised, and they couldn’t argue that I didn’t need or deserve such respect.” She studied him. “That was very smart.”
“I can be diplomatic.” Clearly, he could also be forceful when it was necessary. His armour and weapons were worn with the ease of a man long used to them.
“You held my hand,” she said.
He smiled. “You remember?”
“Yes.” She reached for his hand, and lifted it to her lips. “I have never forgotten you.”
“Good.” Encouraged by her response, he held her close. “Do you need anything from the castle?”
“Nothing. And I would rather not return there. It has few happy memories for me.”
“I am so sorry. I should have come sooner.”
She touched his face. “We can make new memories.”
~~~~
© AM Gray 2014


Monday, 20 October 2014

Why couldn't he just play along?



In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.

Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!
http://writeworld.tumblr.com/post/97577104189/why-couldnt-he-just-play-along
~~~~~~
“Why couldn’t he just play along?” she hissed at Grace as they dragged the third member of their party along with them.
“I do NOT know, Buckley.” She was hanging onto his arm and she actually shook him as she said it. “We told him often enough.”
“I didn’t know,” he wailed.
“Jeff, you idiot. You should have picked up your cues from us. Did we look like we were about to say something unbelievably dumb?”
“Ah... well... when you put it like that.”
“Walk faster,” Buckley said. “Maybe we should run?”
“It was their faces... did you see their faces?” He looked panicked. His eyes too white and too wide. “They had teeth like needles and they... their faces were-”
“Rotting. We know.”
“How can something be alive and be rotting?”
“They weren’t alive, Jeff. Haven’t you worked that out yet?”
He sucked in a breath. “I think I am going to be sick.”
“We don’t have time,” Grace said. “Oh, thank the goddess, there’s the car.”
Buckley glanced back up the road, the way they had come. “Will the charms hold?”
“They had better, or we won’t be going home in one piece.”
“What?” Jeff squeaked.
She flung the door open and pushed him into the back seat. “If they catch us, we’d be rotting, too, Jeff.”
Doors slammed and the car roared away.
“I am so glad that is over,” he said after a few minutes.
“You shouldn’t be,” said Grace, looking grim, “You offended them and now you have to make reparations.”
He giggled nervously, but when Buckley didn’t disagree he started to look less nauseated and a whole lot more worried.
“And worse,” added Buckley, “Now we have to ask the others.”
“And I hate the others,” Grace said. She glared at him in the rear-view mirror.
“I’m sorry,” he murmured.
Buckley tried to be conciliatory. “Well, at least he has learnt a good lesson.”
“Uh, huh. I will be amazed if he listens to us properly in the future.”
“So, I get to go out with you two again?” he asked hopefully.
“Next time you mess up, I will just leave you there,” Grace growled.
He went to laugh, but thought better of it. He suspected that she meant it. He huddled down in the back seat and tried not to keep looking behind them to see if they were being followed. Seeing things that he should not be able to was clearly his problem. Or one of them; keeping his mouth shut was obviously a problem, too.
~~~~
© AM Gray 2014