Tag Archives: short story

Valentine’s Day – Love Bites

In honour of Valentine’s Day I’m sharing a Valentine’s Day excerpt from my story ‘Love Bites’. Enjoy!

lovebitessig

The pedestal fan in my lounge room pushed around the muggy heat without offering much relief. I cracked a window and sighed in relief as the cool air flowed in. Finally the cool change had arrived. I pushed the window open as wide as it would go, then opened the window in the kitchen, too, so I could heat up a frozen pizza in the oven. Flicking through TV channels, I settled on an old black and white movie. I’d barely snuggled under blanket on the couch with my pizza when there was a knock at the door. I lay my pizza down with a sigh and answered it. A floral delivery lady stood outside with a bunch of yellow gerberas and a heart-shaped box.

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” she said, smiling as she handed the flowers and box to me.

I thanked her and went to the kitchen to fill a vase with water. I put the flowers in the vase and pulled out the card to see who had sent them.

To my favourite gal pal. Love Stu.

I smiled to myself as I peeked inside the heart-shaped box to find it full of my favourite chocolates (the ones with the cherry centres). Stu and I had been good mates since high school. He always knew just how to cheer me up.

I placed the box of chocolates beside the couch for later while I finished off my pizza. I’d barely sat down when another knock at the door interrupted me. I trudged back over to answer it.

It was Todd. Muscles bulged beneath his skin tight white t-shirt and his shaved head gleamed under the porch light. He held a single white rose and a box of chocolates with a hopeful look on his face.

I didn’t take them.

“What’s this about?” I asked, indicating the flower and chocolates.

“I knew you’d be alone for Valentine’s Day and I wondered if you would be my Valentine?”

“Oh, so this is a pity Valentine, is it?”

Anger boiled inside me. Todd and I had not parted on good terms. He’d taken up with his ex-girlfriend while we were still together. I found out about it the day he dumped me. It was a hard blow to get dumped and to find out he’d been cheating on me all at the same time. I was still feeling hurt from being treated so badly by him. I was nowhere near ready to forgive him. And now, to rub salt into the wound, here he was offering me a Valentine because I was obviously too pathetic to find a date for Valentine’s Day. I wondered why he wasn’t spending Valentine’s Day with her.

“Of course it’s not a pity Valentine,” he said smoothly. “Michelle, I still have feelings for you and I was hoping there was a chance we could get back together, now you’ve had time to cool down about everything that happened.”

In other words, his ex had tossed him to the kerb again. I could have spit chips. Did he think all I needed to do was cool down, maybe have a little affair of my own to get everything out of my system, and I would take him back? “So you came over here, presuming I would have no plans on Valentine’s Day? You thought I would be drowning in self-pity and you would have a chance at worming your way back into my life?”

He ran an eye over my grey sweatpants and stretched Mickey Mouse t-shirt.

Do you have plans?” he asked, a hint of a knowing smile played on his lips.

“As a matter of fact I do have plans,” I lied. “I was just about to get ready when you knocked on the door. Now I’m going to be late for my date because I’ve been held up talking to you.”

I slammed the door in his face and stomped off to my bedroom. I peeked out of the curtains and saw him leaning against the side of the house, grinning. He was going to call my bluff. Now I would have to pretend I really did have a date or else have to face Todd’s smug smile when he found out I was lying.

I jumped in the shower and washed my hair. A perfectly good night in front of the TV with my favourite chocolates had been ruined. After I had blow-dried my hair, I peeked out of the curtains again. He was still there. I gritted my teeth and went to my closet. I found the sexiest dress I owned, just to spite him. A cherry red colour, the dress had a heart-cut bodice with shoestring straps and flared out from the waist. It showed just enough cleavage and leg to be sexy, without being too trampy. I left my hair out, popped in some hoop earrings and slipped into my favourite red high heels.

I grabbed my purse and opened the door, expecting Todd to be still standing on the porch. He wasn’t. Doing a quick scan of the front yard, I spotted his elbow jutting out from behind the tree line. He was spying on me, probably testing to see if I’d give up my ruse if I didn’t think he was there. I almost trod on the box of chocolates and rose he’d left by the door. I couldn’t just leave them there—the chocolates would attract wildlife and I didn’t want some possum to get sick because it had devoured a whole box. I put the rose in the vase with the gerberas from Stu because I couldn’t stand to see it wilt and die. The white did look kind of pretty amongst all the yellow. I opened the box to see what kind of chocolates were inside. Lemon creams. Yuck. I knew Todd was a health nut and didn’t take a lot of notice of junk food (he always hated it when I ate junk food in front of him), but surely after dating all those months he would have some idea of what kind of chocolate I liked. I guess he really didn’t know me that well at all. There was a little note stuck inside the lid, ‘You squeeze my lemon, baby.’ Why did I ever date this guy? I dumped the chocolates unceremoniously into the bin.

As a last minute thought I grabbed the heart-shaped box of chocolates from Stu and tucked them under my arm to take with me. Hopefully Todd would think they were a gift for my mystery date and realise I wasn’t faking it—even though I was.

I got in the car, put the chocolates on the passenger seat and started driving with no idea where I was going or whether Todd would follow me. I reached over and plucked a chocolate from the box to suck on.

Driving on autopilot, I ended up in the city and before long I neared the neon lights of the new nightclub that had opened up a few months ago. I guess it must have subconsciously stuck in my mind from my earlier conversation with Cherie.

I wasn’t really one for going out in the city, usually, though I’d been out to a couple of the nightclubs with the girls when they’d dragged me. The rumours of it being frequented by aliens or monsters or vampires had intrigued me. I guess now I could find out for myself. I’d tried to convince Todd to take me nightclubbing a couple of times when we’d still been dating, but he’d always resisted the idea. He said the music in those places gave him a headache.

Good, I thought. If Todd had decided to follow me this would really rile him up.

I pulled into the car park out front and replaced the lid on the chocolates (had I really eaten half a box?)

As I climbed out of the car I felt a little woozy, as though I’d had too much to drink. I leaned over and checked the label on the chocolates. Liqueur. No wonder I felt a bit drunk. I’d been so angry at Todd I hadn’t even noticed they tasted different to normal. I looked around for Todd, but couldn’t see him. For all I knew he was sulking back at his house, or back in the arms of what’s-her-face. I must have really thought a lot of myself to have thought he’d follow me all the way to the city out of jealousy.

I’d wasted petrol getting to the city and I wasn’t about to turn around and drive back home again, I figured I might as well ease my curiosity. Actually, considering my slightly drunk condition, driving wasn’t really an option anyway.

I shouldered my spaghetti-string purse and walked to the door. The bright blue neon sign above the door read, ‘Love Bites’. It suited my Valentine’s Day mood perfectly. A neon clad employee checked my I.D. and took my cover charge. Nerves hopped around my body as I walked through the doorway. It felt strange walking in alone. No date. No gaggle of girlfriends.

Like the pub back in Min Min, ‘Love Bites’ had not bothered with any Valentine’s Day decorations. That’s where the similarities to my hometown bar ended. The interior walls were painted black and nearly the entire expanse of the large room was taken up by a dance floor. Bodies writhed in rhythm to music pumped out by a D.J. in a booth. Coloured lights flashed, reflected by a giant disco ball hanging directly above the centre of the dance floor. The bar was off to one side and that’s where I headed, squeezing through throngs of dancers dressed in skimpy fluorescent clothing. My short skirted, low cut dress felt more like a nun’s habit next to all the bronzed, sweaty flesh.

I tried to gain the attention of the androgynous bartender. While I waited to be served, I studied the interesting specimen. I couldn’t decide if the bartender was a masculine female or a feminine male. The lurid glittery eye shadow and pink short shorts made me think maybe a woman, but I swore those shorts bulged a little too much in the front. Besides, there were lots of men in the nightclub wearing make-up and pink items of clothing, so it was no real indicator. This place was a far cry from my small town bar where everyone wore flannel shirts and dirty jeans and occasionally the women might wear a nice cotton dress if she felt like dressing up a bit. It was like another world in here. Maybe the bartender was one of the ‘aliens’ from the rumours. Certainly he/she would appear as alien in the Min Min pub.

“What’ll it be, honey?” the bartender trilled. Even the voice gave away no indication of gender.

I ordered a pink fruity cocktail in celebration of Valentine’s Day. Even though I was already tipsy from the chocolates, I figured one drink wouldn’t be so bad. I was single on Valentine’s Day, why not treat myself? While I sipped, I scrutinised the dancers for tell-tale signs of aliens or monsters. Despite the blue lipstick, gold hotpants and glittery green body powder sported by some of the dancers, beneath the glitz they all seemed to be human. I guessed I wouldn’t be meeting strange creatures after all.

An upbeat dance song came on and, feeling a little freer of my inhibitions, I decided to get up and have a dance. The lights flickered over the dance floor to the pounding beat of the music. I threw my hands up in the air and shook my booty for all it was worth. A woman with a purple afro came up to bump and grind beside me. Her orange body suit cut away in strategic places to reveal smooth brown flesh.

“You’re cute,” she said.

“Thanks.” At least I thought it was a compliment.

“This ain’t a place for cute. You’re out of your league, sweetheart.” She shimmied around me. “If I were you I’d go back to Kansas, Dorothy.”

“But I like it here in Oz,” I quipped back.

She grinned. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

She spun around and grabbed hold of the closest male so she could grind against him.

I shrugged her off. I could handle myself well enough. I’d been to the pub enough times to know a thing or two about fending off unwanted advances.

A cute gay couple wearing nothing more than spangled hotpants pulled me in between them to dance. It was easy to forget the words of warning as I giggled and joined in the over-the-top dance moves of my new companions.

“Thanks for the dance, doll,” the taller of the two said as the song ended. “Gotta go. You were a blast.” They both blew kisses at me before dancing off through the crowded dance floor. They sure knew how to move those hotpants-clad hineys.

I downed another cocktail and returned to the dance floor. A new song started and I lost myself in the high tempo rhythm. I was actually having a really good time until a pair of fangs scraped lightly at my neck.

***

You can read the whole story in Beautiful & Deadly: A Fantasy Collection.

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Aphrodite (short story)

I’m posting this short story for J.A.Mes Press’s Rebirth anthology. The idea is to post a short story around the theme of ‘rebirth’, whether that means traditional forms of rebirth or more supernatural ideas, such as vampires or werewolves. All proceeds from the anthology will be going to a charity to benefit stroke patients.

Aphrodite

Title: Aphrodite

Author: Jo Hart

Word count: 565

Book: Yes

Cyprus buzzed with early morning trading. Usually Danaos would have been right in the midst of it, bartering with the goods ships from Rome, but this morning he strode towards the temple. If this didn’t work he feared his wife would be dead by morning. What would he do then, with three young ones at foot and no mother to tend to them?

A handmaiden of Aphrodite led him to the stone dais that housed the six foot statue of the beautiful goddess. Danaos knelt before it with clasped hands.

“Oh beautiful Aphrodite, help us in our hour of need.”

To his surprise a woman, more beautiful than any woman he’d ever laid eyes upon, stepped out from behind the statue. Her pale skin glowed under the flickering flames of the lanterns. Golden ringlets tumbled over her shoulders and reached nearly to her knees.  Her pink lips resembled a cupid’s bow and the rest of her face was smooth and unblemished. The curves of her body dipped and swelled in perfect proportion. With a jolt, Danaos realised this woman was the exact likeness of the statue before him.

A soft smile appeared on her lips, “Yes, I am she.”

Danaos bowed low. “My lady, Aphrodite. It is an honour to be graced with your presence. Please, I beg of you to save my wife.”

“Do you love her? Love is my specialty and I can only help if your love is true.”

“I love her with all my heart. And my children love her as dearly as any child loves a mother.”

She walked full circle around Danaos, studying his form.

“You are a beautiful man,” she noted. “I appreciate beauty. Such a strong masculine form and thick golden locks.” She ran a hand through his hair and over his broad shoulders. “Tell me, do you love your wife so much that you would you do anything to save her life?”

“Yes! Anything.”

“Would you trade your human life for one of immortality and become the companion of Aphrodite?”

Danaos hesitated. This would mean leaving his wife and his children. But the children needed their mother. His wife’s family would ensure his wife and children were cared for when he was gone, of this he was sure.

“I accept your terms. I will become your companion.”

Aphrodite smiled. She came around behind Danaos and laid gentle kisses in the crook of his neck. “This might hurt a little. Don’t panic. It will be over soon.”

Two fangs penetrated his neck. The piercing pain subsided as soon as the fangs withdrew. A dribble of red blood ran down Aphrodite’s white chin. Danaos felt the world around him turn black.

When he woke he felt different. Stronger. Healthier. Hungry.

“You’re not a god,” he mumbled, still a little drowsy.

“I am vampyr,” she said. “Pretending to be gods is less frightening to humans and comes with added benefits. We appreciate the sacrifices.” A sadistic grin twisted her beautiful features. “And now you are vampyr, too.”

“What about my wife? We had a deal.”

“She is alive and well. Vampyr saliva has healing properties. I never break my word.”

Danaos sat up. His previously tanned skin now appeared paler. He wondered what other changes had occurred during his transformation. “What exactly does being a vampyr entail?”

Aphrodite licked her lips and laughed. “You have eternity to find out.”

 

You can now find an updated version of ‘Aphrodite’ in the collection Beautiful and Deadly, along with many more supernatural-themed stories, including  vampire stories such as ‘Love Bites’ and ‘Eighteen for Life’.

Annabeth & the Wolf Release Day! Plus more exciting news!

ttf-annabethandthewolf185

I’m so excited today for two reasons:

Number 1 – My short story ‘Annabeth and the Wolf‘ got released today. Not only is it part of an anthology, but it is being sold on its own as well, making it my first story release with my name on the front cover! I’ll talk more about the story in a moment.

Number 2 – I got a surprise email in my inbox this morning letting me know that the GrammoWriMo group novel, The Lonely Wish-Giver, I worked on in November (and helped edit) is being released today, too, AND all proceeds will be going to the Make-a-Wish Foundation!

The Lonely Wish Giver cover

It’s a DOUBLE RELEASE DAY!

I’ll talk a bit more about the GrammoWriMo novel tomorrow, but today I want to talk about ‘Annabeth and the Wolf’ as I’ve been bursting to share this one for weeks.

Torqued Tales

‘Annabeth and the Wolf’ features as one of three stories in the anthology Torqued Tales published by Torquere Press (on their page you will see two anthologies with the same title, one with a male cover and one with a female cover–‘Annabeth and the Wolf’ has the female cover). The concept of the anthology is fractured fairytales with a GLBT twist.

In ‘Annabeth and the Wolf’, a retake on the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale, Annabeth sets off through the woods to her grandmother’s house to meet an unwanted fate, but a beautiful shape shifter she meets along the way has other plans.

You can read a snippet of the story here.

A Little Bit of Background

Little Red Riding Hood has always been one of my favourite fairytales and I’ve been wanting to write a story based on it for a long time. Those who’ve read my past stories know I’m drawn to the fantasy genre and previous stories have seen me write about angels, demons, vampires, trolls and superheroes. When I saw the call for stories for this anthology I immediately got the idea of a Red Riding Hood story with a focus on witches and a shape shifter. It’s my first time writing GLBT characters and I’m really happy with how the characters evolved through the writing process.

Intrigued?

You can pick up ebook copies of either ‘Annabeth and the Wolf‘ or Torqued Tales from Torquere Press. Over the coming days they will also be available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Bookstrand and other online stores. A print edition of the anthology will also become available in the coming days.

Please note: Although this is an anthology of fairytales, the content is for mature readers only.

Anthology Cover Reveal

Today I got a nice surprise email: the cover for an upcoming anthology featuring one of my stories!

The cover art is absolutely stunning.

torquedtalesfemme

The anthology features fractured fairytales with a GLBT twist and is due for release on the 23rd April.

September Inspiration

Here in the Southern Hemisphere spring has sprung! But if the beautiful spring weather (or the arrival of autumn and all its wonderful colours for those above the equator) isn’t sparking your creativity, here are some prompts to help inspire you.

PICTURE PROMPT

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Where is this? Who is taking the photo and why? What is that black shadow in the sky? (you can click on picture for larger view)

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE

  • Spring
  • Father
  • Grand final
  • Heritage
  • Sneeze
  • Rain
  • Chile

NORTHERN HEMISPHERE

  • School
  • Autumn
  • Work
  • Moon
  • Harvest
  • Regatta
  • Remembrance

GENERAL

  • Sapphire
  • Minerva
  • The number seven
  • Basil
  • 30 days
  • Maiden

Spectrum (Creating a Female Superhero Challenge)

Becky Fyfe put forward a challenge on her blog: to create a short story featuring a female superhero. I love the idea of a strong female hero and decided to take up the challenge. Here is my entry into the Creating a Female Superhero Challenge:

Spectrum cover

Author name: Jo Hart

Word count: 981

Anthology: Yes

Charity: Because I am a Girl

Name of female superhero: Spectrum

Name of human alter ego, if different: Lindsay Rogers

Superhero Appearance (hair, eyes, body type, etc.): Lean physique, dark eyes, dark hair slicked back into a ponytail

Human alter ego appearance (if she has an alter ego): Long dark hair that hangs down around her face, loose t-shirt, loose pants and sneakers.

Costume: Black bodysuit, red utility belt, black mask over her eyes, black boots, black gloves.

Personality: Prefers her own company, determined, logical, observant, intelligent.

Brief description of how the superheroine gets her powers (i.e. born with them, radioactive accident, mad scientist experiments on her, etc.): Born with them as a result of alien DNA spliced with human DNA in a government experiment.

Powers: Super senses, eidetic memory

Anything else important:

Spectrum

I’m not like other people.

My mother’s an alien—an honest-to-God extra-terrestrial. I never met her; I was raised by my human father on a military base.

To regular people I appear completely human (a myth I’m happy to perpetuate), but I’m not. My alien DNA means I have incredible hearing and can see things regular humans can’t. My dad calls them my ‘super powers’. Sometimes they feel more like a curse, but I figure if I use my abilities for good, maybe they really are super powers.

There are others like me—half alien. For some reason the alien gene favours male offspring. I am one of the few females.

Some use their inherited alien super powers for villainous ends. I work with the government to stop them. My mission tonight: a half-alien terrorist. I can find him when government agents failed because I’m like him, or so they say. In my mind, I’m nothing like him. I’m no terrorist.

The sounds are extra clear without daytime bustle to muffle them. Using my enhanced senses, I separate the sounds by distance. Cats yowl in the alley behind me. Across the road, a streetlight crackles. Two blocks away, footsteps clack hurriedly against the pavement—someone doesn’t relish walking alone at night. Five blocks away, a vehicle hums along the highway. An explosion pops on the other side of town. That’s the sound I’m looking for.

A car would get me there quickly, but I can’t stand to be inside one. The engine noise, the vibration… I can’t do it. Instead I run, allowing the quiet of twilight to wash over me. I don’t fear the night. Daytime noise and crowded streets overwhelm my extra-sensitive senses. A crying baby, the brush of a stranger’s shoulder, cars whizzing by—they can cripple me.

Another pop, louder this time. A faint red glow in the sky, for just a second.

Why has this terrorist decided to threaten the human race? After all, he is half human. Is he angry at the government who experimented in mixing human and alien DNA? Does he resent what he is?

The area is secluded—empty shop fronts and dilapidated houses. My breath comes out as a white puff and dissipates in the darkness. I move with soundless footfalls. He’s bound to have hearing like mine. The black bodysuit I wear as my costume helps me meld into the shadows.

A window in the top storey of an old florist shop lights up red, accompanied by a bang that rattles the window panes.

The scene disassembles in my brain. I examine each piece. The front door is locked. I can’t smash a window, he’ll hear. The drain pipe up the side of the building is too rusted to hold my weight. The fire escape is too high to reach. A skip bin would give me a boost, but they’re too heavy and noisy to move. I could use the explosion to cover the sound of window smashing…

The scene reassembles. My point of entry decided, I make a fist, thankful my chosen costume consists of gloves. My ears pick up the initial reverberations before the explosion cracks loudly above me. I time the punch perfectly and on the next explosion knock out the remaining shards of glass with quick, sharp movements.

Using the gymnastics training of my younger years, I place my hands on the ragged sill, pull myself up and balance as I manoeuvre my body through the window. Poised, arms taut, feet mid-air, waiting. The sill shudders as the next explosion goes off and I drop to the floor, the crunch of my boots against broken glass masked.

I leap over the glass and hurdle over the counter as the whole shop shakes and rattles. The door behind the counter leads to a hallway with a staircase at the end.

Another explosion covers my ascent.

“I know you’re there,” a low monotone voice speaks from inside the top storey room. “Show yourself.”

I have no choice but to enter.

He’s more alien than I am. He’d pass as human, but his eyes are a little too wide, his limbs a little too long and thin and his head slightly too large.

“Who are you?” He doesn’t look me in the eye, rather he seems to look straight through me.

“I’m Spectrum. I’m like you.”

His face brightens momentarily, then darkens again.

“They sent you?”

“You’re too dangerous.”

“They think I’m going to blow up something. They think I’m a terrorist.”

“Aren’t you?”

He laughs humourlessly. “No. Are you a superhero?”

“Yes.”

He eyes my costume critically. “You’re like me? Do your senses overwhelm you, too?”

“Sometimes.”

“What do you do?”

“I close my eyes, cover my ears and try to block it all out.”

“I explode.”

My mouth gapes.

“I’ve been practicing controlling it.” To demonstrate he closes his eyes, grows red in the face and clenches his fists. His whole body becomes rigid. A burst of light and loud bang erupt from his shaking form. My hands fly to my ears and I turn my head until it’s over.

I stare at him and he stares back in his non-expressive look-right-through-me way. “If I can control it,” he says, “they won’t need to lock me up again.”

My insides crumple. He’s no terrorist, just a half-alien trying to control his extra abilities. He really is just like me. What if I exploded when it became too overwhelming, would the government lock me up?

“I’ll tell them I couldn’t find you,” I say.

His large eyes widen in surprise. I’m surprised at myself.

“Don’t make me regret it,” I warn.

He nods, slowly, as though he can’t quite believe I’m letting him go. “I’ll get it under control.”

Every superhero has a defining moment. This was mine. Did I live to regret that decision? That’s another story.

SuperHERo Tales cover

Now available in the charity anthology ‘SuperHERo Tales‘. All proceeds from this anthology go towards the ‘Because I am a Girl‘ charity supporting girls in third world countries.

A Little Bit of Mystery

Memoirs_of_Sherlock_Holmes_1894_Burt_-_Illustration_3I love the mystery genre. I love trying to spot the clues and work out whodunnit. I have a nice little collection of Agatha Christie novels on my bookshelf. Miss Marple stories are some of my favourites, but I’m also a fan of Poirot. For years I’ve had Sherlock Holmes on my ‘to be read’ pile, but never seemed to get around to reading any until recently. I downloaded a free Sherlock Holmes ebook from Amazon for my Kindle a couple of weeks ago and have been enjoying trying to think like Holmes.

It was a coincidence that only last week I noticed The Australian Literature Review was having a short story competition this month with a mystery/detective theme. With my head full Holmes, it was perfect timing to have a go at penning my own murder mystery. As much as I love reading the genre, I don’t often attempt writing it, unsure of my ability to weave in subtle clues without giving too much away, while leaving readers with that ‘aha!’ feeling when they get to the end. I love the cleverness involved in mystery stories, and admire the crafty authors of the genre.

Obviously reading Holmes had a good influence on my writing, despite my worry, as the story I wrote for the competition has been short listed! Pop over to The Australian Literature Review and have a read for yourself. The story is titled ‘Mystery at Beaumont Manor‘ and is written in a similar style to the Holmes/Poirot type stories.

Do you like to read or write mystery? What are your top tips for a great mystery story?

My top tip: Plot backwards. Know how it’s going to end and plot in reverse so you can weave in the clues.

June Inspiration

Need some writing inspiration this month? With summer holidays starting in the Northern Hemisphere and cold wintry days perfect for writing in the Southern Hemisphere, you don’t want to be stuck for ideas, so here are some prompts:

PICTURE PROMPT

060

Where is this place? What does the crow signify? Is the crow the main character? The main character’s pet? Part of the scenery? An omen?

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE

  • Fireplace
  • Winter
  • Queen
  • Marathon
  • Football/rugby

NORTHERN HEMISPHERE

  • Vacation
  • Beach
  • Father
  • Fish
  • Ulysses

GENERAL

  • Twins
  • Marriage
  • Youth/children
  • Flag
  • Solstice
  • Skateboard

May Inspiration

With NaPiBoWriWee and Short Story Month currently happening, I’m sure there are quite a few of you looking for inspiration this month. Since these events are happening, and since I didn’t do an inspiration post in March or April, I’ve added some extra inspiration in this month, including TWO picture prompts!

PICTURE PROMPTS

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Picture Prompt 1

Where does the road lead? What’s beyond the fog? Who is travelling this road? What does the fog mean?

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Picture Prompt 2

Who does this belong to? What does it contain? How did it come to be here?

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE

  • Leaves
  • Autumn
  • Sign language
  • Music
  • Butterfly
  • Revolution
  • Red

NORTHERN HEMISPHERE

  • Flowers
  • Sunshine
  • Sneeze
  • Children
  • Maypole
  • Horse
  • Cinco de Mayo

GENERAL

  • Mother
  • The number five
  • Fertility
  • Elders
  • Soldier
  • Nurse
  • Dance

ANZAC

anzacI wrote the original version of this piece many years ago for ANZAC day and read it to a crowd of a thousand at an ANZAC day service. I think I was about fifteen at the time. I recently dug it up and, in honour of ANZAC day, I wanted to post it to show my respect to those who fought (including my own great great grandfather who fought in WW2). Forgive its roughness and please spare a moment to remember those who fought, suffered and lost their lives for their country.

ANZAC

The clock ticks on the mantle, the only sound in an otherwise silent room. The old man shifts in his bed, trying to get to sleep. His aching bones scream at him and when he closes his eyes haunting memories flood his mind.

The sound of the ticking clock morphs into planes zooming overhead and gunfire blasting all around. The old man opens his eyes, no longer in his bed, stiff and old, but a young man in the trenches, fighting for his country. On either side of him stand his mates, yelling over the gunfire.

A metal cylinder drops from one of the planes and hurtles towards the ground, exploding only metres away. He takes cover in the trench as shrapnel flies over their heads.  His ears are ringing, he can’t hear what Eddie is yelling at him. Eddie points. The young soldier turns to see the devastation in the trench to his left. Peterson, Lewis and Neal are all gone. If the bomb had been dropped a few more metres to the right it could easily have been him shredded by the shrapnel.

Still, he fights on. They all fight on.

The odour of death fills his nostrils. The smell is a constant in the trenches, unable to be eradicated, even when they have a chance to move the bodies. Flies are everywhere: in the food; buzzing around their wounds; around the dead—mostly around the dead. The dead bodies surround them—a constant reminder of what could happen to any of them. The price of war is all too real. Too scary. He pushes the fear aside. There’s no room for fear.

Another bomb hits, closer this time. Blinding light, more ringing in his ears, and pain. Pain! He can’t feel his legs. Is this death? His sight returns slowly, blurry at first. He can still see the trenches, the soldiers, the chaos. He is not dead.

He closes his eyes against the consuming pain. He does not cry. Soldiers don’t cry.

He opens his eyes again, not as a young soldier, but as an old man in his bed. The sound of guns and bombs fade. The clock ticks.

He looks down to where his legs used to be and lets a tear roll down his cheek—a tear that should have been shed a long time ago.

The war gave him many things: pain, sorrow, loss. Thankfulness. Thankful the war is over. Thankful he survived (though broken). And thankful that his children and their children and their children’s children don’t have to experience the nightmare that he did. For him, the horrors will never fade. He will always remember.

“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,

We shall remember them.

Lest we forget.”