Tuesday, 17 June 2008
to read it whole!
A giant, heartfelt THANK YOU to everybody who took part, especially (in no particular order):
Chris (on Myspace)
Long Discarded Photo
chris (on blogspot)
You’re all brilliant!!!!!
A big cheers to you readers out there too (-: and special thanks to Caroline Smailes, Anne-Claire Lubec and Sean Wood for their incredible additional support.
I would be very interested to hear people’s thoughts on the story, and on taking part, whether as writers or readers.
Personally, I have been overwhelmed by everyone’s creativity. Since the first post and then throughout, there have been so many great stories behind and within and beyond this too, each one crying out to be told. Such imagination and variety. The marvellous c-ray has even transformed some of her posts into poetry. You can read them on her myspace blog http://www.myspace.com/couray. If anybody else out there has taken their own stories further, I’d love to hear from you.
The whole experience, for me, has been amazing – very intense and rather crazy (a bit like the story itself!) I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity and inventiveness of the responses, constantly surprised, and kicked out of my comfort zone. But, most of all, I’ve had a lot of fun.
(massive thanks again!)
Sunday, 15 June 2008
I couldn’t open my eyes. I could feel soft earth beneath my head, the cold sheet of snow beneath my outstretched hand. I pulled it toward me and felt my face. My eyes were covered with something. Pick, pick, pick with my broken fingernails.
While I picked, I listened. I could hear the wind outside and the creak of snow and burdened wood. There was a heaviness in my chest and I could hear the others breathing.
And the smell was everywhere. Sharp and cold like money. I couldn’t swallow. My mouth was dry, my lips cracked. I peeled thin strips of mucus from my eyes and opened one of them to harsh blue light.
There was a new sound. An old sound, half-remembered. A soft popping like snow melting under sunlight, uncovering bodies preserved in amber ice. Still the hurgh, hurgh of breathing.
All at once, my eyes were focused.
Soft earth became a hospital bed. Hurgh, hurgh and a breathing tube stopped my swallows. Melting snow was the soft beep of a heart monitor and my eyes – the one I had left – covered with burn dressings.
And the clink of handcuffs linked my wrist to the metal bed.
by Leatherdykeuk on blogspot
Hey! We did it - thank you so much everyone!
But, as Columbo might say, there's just one more thing . . . Before I can load the whole story on to my website, you may have noticed that we're missing a title.
2 more days, as few words as you like - ALL suggestions welcome
Friday, 13 June 2008
I felt like the trees; confined and lost in time. Nothing made sense. Why were we driving back? Jed had said they’d lost me at the gas station. Although my fall could have affected my memory, I was convinced I’d been running to save them. Jed with his drunken rages. Theresa with her sense of retribution. And Ben, helpless and sleepy, unaware of being caught in their stupid mess.
I needed to open a window. I needed to get out of this sweaty, whisky reeking car. Theresa’s hand suddenly crept over my own, as if she’d read my thoughts.
‘Please don’t go’ she whispered. Something in the fragility of her tone made me trust her.
I glanced at my hand again. I was trying frantically to remember who had placed that wedding ring on me.
The humming birds were gathered in evening song, and despite my body aching, I wanted desperately to be outside with them; to be free from this sense of anguish.
I suddenly looked over at Theresa’s hands. They were both free from adornment. I caught those sneering eyes in the wing mirror, and instantly knew it was Jed who had placed that band on my finger.
By eli regan, on blogspot
A sharp, involuntary smile hooked my mouth. It was the same smile that twitched across my sister’s face, quick and cold, like the flash of a knife. Everything was confused. Theresa or me, and Jed’s intentions - I had no idea how we had come to this. Or how it all might end.
In my arms, Ben stirred and began to grizzle. He burrowed closer and I felt a new warmth flowering through my clothes. I thought of the cabin, and of the clearing. That spread of snow as clean as milk. Or a bright, new page, just waiting.
I shifted awkwardly, lifting the baby. “Take him,” I said.
My sister’s grin deepened. She shook her head, but eventually opened her arms and reluctantly reclaimed him. Eyes rolling.
In the driver’s seat, Jed chuckled. “Hey girl,” he said. “You’ve lost the plot.”
But I wasn’t listening. I couldn’t do this anymore. My fist was already on the handle. The door flew open.
The road swept by, thick and glittering like the rush and flood of melt-water. I didn’t wait for them to stop me. Within seconds, I was out.
Your turn . . .
Please end our blog story!
Wednesday, 11 June 2008
I put my weight against the warm car bonnet and tried to clear the stars from my eyes. The woman in the back leant forward to speak, pushing waves of patterns past my vision in her wake.
“Sis are you ok? We lost you back at the gas station. Jed honey give her a hand.”
The click of the car door quivers through warm metal to my hands. I stare at the woman through the weaving patterns and catch her profile in the light. Familiar but not my sister.
“Theresa are you ok?” Said the man. I look to the woman and then back to him, he is staring at me.
The patterns clear and I see my face reflected in the rear window. But the window is down. I lower myself to look in the wing mirror, touching Theresa's lines, I see her soul in my eyes. A sonic wave of nausea moves through me, balance lost as Jed places me in the back of the car.
“We best get moving if we're going to make the cabin before it snows”. The man starts the engine.
The woman takes my arm and whispers, “This is what you wanted isn't it? Or did you expect to keep yourself too?”
By michael thricksos, on blogspot
The worn leather squeaked as if welcoming me home. The car smelt the same, of petrol and apple cores and liquorice cigarette papers, but it was my hands that frightened me the most. Such familiar hands, with their carefully shaped nails. That thin gold wedding band.
When she passed me the baby, I marvelled at the ease in which those fingers claimed him. As if they were more a part of him than me. Ben was sunk into his blanket, his small lips sucking even as he dreamed. I drew him close, but his dense, curled heat couldn’t touch me. Nothing could.
Without glancing up, I felt the woman’s eyes on me, but it was Jed who spoke.
“Of course,” he said, “we won’t go to the cabin right away. There’s the campsite to find first. There’s so much to come.”
A full bottle of whisky was wedged into the back seat between us, amidst a scattering of playing cards. A pair of sevens lay face up.
I leant my forehead on the clammy window as we started to drive. Stripped of their snow, the trees looked raw and vulnerable and very black.
Your turn . . .
Monday, 9 June 2008
I wasn’t fooling anybody – she must have noticed the way I looked at him sometimes. The way I’d always outstay my welcome.
The way I wanted, desperately, to feel just a fraction of the things she felt. The disgusting, drunken passion of course - but also the accusations and recriminations and, maybe, even the fear.
Because wasn’t it better to row and fight and love and hate somebody than to feel nothing at all?
Yet when he finally touched me that evening I had recoiled – repulsed by my own desire and what it might undo inside me.
Again, I began to run. Away from them, away from the cabin.
Then, all of a sudden, I was flying. For a moment no part of me touched the ground – an empty, weightless feeling cut short by thudding pain as my body connected with the earth once more and I plummeted down the steep wooded bank.
I’m not sure how long I was unconscious. It felt like less than an instant - but the blood had caked slightly by the time I lifted my face from the tarmac.
By hedgehog, on blogspot
I must have sat up too fast. The world went reeling. I gripped my head, trying to hold everything together.
The road was bare and straight, a slick, black line that seemed to run on forever in both directions. The forest rose dizzyingly on either side, monochrome walls of trees and snow, unravelling gradually to grey. My chin was sticky, and the money taste was back, lining my throat, but I was numb. Hardly daring to hope.
I touched the tarmac again, my fingers shaking. The road was cold and real. I felt the engine before I heard it. A small, quivering life beneath my palm.
Somehow, I managed to stand as the car approached. The trees rippled and whispered. The white sky pressed closer. I staggered forwards, waving my arms. I was keenly aware of every brittle movement and yet everything was happening at a distance, as if to someone else.
The car, small and blue and battered, slowed and then pulled over. The tarmac twinkled between us, laden with stars. Stumbling across them, I caught the ruddy health of the driver’s bearded features. And then I saw the woman with a baby in the back.
Your turn . . .
Saturday, 7 June 2008
Jed’s laughter in the tent as he pulled another royal flush against the pair of sevens in my hand, his whisky-breath harsh as he insisted on helping me take my t-shirt off. His eyes narrow and cunning as he stared at my breasts swelling beneath a tight sports bra.
Theresa just looked uncomfortable, her body still swollen from the birth of her son. Who drags their wife on a camping trip a week after she’s given birth? Jed, that’s who. I’d come to help my sister out, maybe protect her and little Ben from Jed’s drunken rages.
Maybe if I’d been stronger he wouldn’t have pawed at me. I wish I hadn’t pushed him so hard. Drunk, he’d knocked over the heater and the old tent had gone up in a blaze of glory. Hellfire in the frozen north.
I wish he’d died. I wish he hadn’t got drunk. I wish he’d let Theresa stay at home.
More than anything, I wish I’d never pushed him.
I stopped running and stood bent at the waist with my hands on my knees. The pain from my ankle tore into my stamina, but if I rested now I’d never get back up.
By leatherdykeuk on blogspot
But the exhaustion held me, dimming the glow of the ground and sketching cobwebs across my hands, before my face. I felt as if I’d been running for days, for weeks. I thought of that first escape, how the trees had seemed to dance before us, the clunk of the torch batteries, and the scent of ashes as we flew.
At first, the empty hunting shack had seemed like salvation. Even as the snow went on falling, a static that would go on and on, that would eventually seem to creep inside us too, as maddening and relentless as the baby’s thinning cries.
I rocked heavily on my heels, reliving that morning in the cabin when Theresa had reached for me, sitting up abruptly in her sleeping bag to catch hold of my ankle as I crept across the boards.
With a startling clarity, I could still feel the knowing press of her fingernails. I remembered the tug of her gaze, and how despite everything, we were suddenly kids again. Children with secrets. Briefly, her grip had tightened.
She understood as well as I did that Jed wasn’t the only one to blame.
Your turn . . .
Thursday, 5 June 2008
The pull of the thaw was compelling me to step forwards, out, away. I wanted to breathe the fresh wet air, to be shrouded by sky. To leave behind staleness, cold, fear and most of all, hunger.
I forced myself to turn. Jed’s eyes were hollowed in his bearded face. His nose scaled and raw. The bruise on his head was still a lurid purple. Now he was trying to sit up. His breath rasped out of his throat.
“Wait” he said, “please wait.”
He was shaking the sleeping bag next to him. I heard Theresa moan and the cry of her hungry baby. I knew I should feel pleased she had made it through the night, but now there were four of us. I could make it alone, but with injured Jed and exhausted Theresa, with her new baby son? But if I left them, I knew they’d be dead by the time I returned.
I was half out into the cool wetness. Everything glistened. Clean. Fresh.
I was facing a new fear – the fear of living with myself if I left them now.
“I’ll be back” I said, without looking at them.
By angela h, on Blogspot
I walked out.
And I kept walking, though the snow was packed tight, dragging at me, and the pain was back. Yet everywhere, the world went on melting, dazzling. The wind slid softly through the trees and the sound of falling water became a pattering, as of tiny, hidden feet. I watched a bird rise from the branches and scratch a russet line across the sky. The day shouldn’t have been so beautiful . . .
I was determined I wouldn’t turn back. I wouldn’t even glance over my shoulder, not once. I tasted rotting wood beneath the sweet, hard tang of ice.
When the trees stepped closer and the snow began to thin a little, and to darken beneath my boots, I made my strides longer, faster. I broke into a clumsy jog, and then a run.
I let the branches whip at me, I welcomed the brief turn of my ankle against a frozen log - but it was no good. The thought of them kept pace with me. All that had happened was right there, in my tangled breath and jolting steps. There was no out-running it. The memories pressed in on me, bright and close.
Your turn . . .
Tuesday, 3 June 2008
It hurt. Screaming pain at the brightness. Open and close the lids, screw up my eyes. Wait until the pupils shrink to pin points to accommodate the glare. Barely move the muscles, my body so stiff, so cold, beyond cold. I turned my head slightly. Saw the humped bodies of Jed and Theresa, huddled into their sleeping bags. I couldn’t tell if they were breathing, still alive. It was all too quiet.
Apart from the popping, the clicking. What on earth was it? The sound was so familiar and yet in the emptiness of my mind I couldn’t make the association, couldn’t forge the pathway into the past, spark the connection. Plop. Plop. Ah! Slowly, agonisingly, a word or two swims up. A tap? No. There were no taps. Painfully I moved my head again, forcing my skull across the fabric, which pulled the tangles in my hair and dragged at my scalp.
I could just bring the window into my line of vision. From where I lay on the floor I saw only whiteness, the unchanging, unshadowed glare of snow. But an infinitesimal glimmer of movement. Then another, and another. A drip. It was a drip. Thaw.
By Chris, on blogspot
Before I knew what was happening, I was on my feet, breathing out small ghosts, wheeling and stumbling, narrowly missing the roof beams overhead. Suddenly the pain was someone else’s, even the grind of my calf muscles, the weight of my skull. Far away, the floorboards groaned, but I took no notice, as I paid no attention to the stiff, dark mound of the others. I didn’t pause to check on them, but kept shuffling towards the door. It was easy.
We had been there for so long.
My fingers trembled against the freezing latch. Thaw – briefly, I let myself imagine it, with my cheek resting against the fur of tiny splinters in the wood. Then I pushed, and pushed again. The door opened, slowly, dismissively, as if the cabin had simply shrugged.
And I was nothing before the world outside.
Nothing before the vast, soft emptiness and the scent of winter like blood and stones. Yet everywhere was glistening; water was falling from the roof and trees, a beautiful ticking like so many quiet, uneven heartbeats. I lifted my arms -
And a voice came scratching from the must and shadows piled behind me.
“Wait,” Jed said. “Come back.”
Your turn . . .
Sunday, 1 June 2008
When I woke, I couldn’t open my eyes. They were stuck together and I had to pick at them with my broken fingernails. Pick, pick, pick, slow and patient, until they came unglued.
While I picked, I listened. I could hear the wind whining from outside the hill cabin, and the creak of snow and burdened wood. There was a heaving in my chest too, but I couldn’t hear the others’ breathing anymore and I didn’t like that. I didn’t trust it.
And the smell was still everywhere, a sharp, cold odour, like zips, like money. A whole mouthful of grubby coins. I didn’t want to swallow, but I couldn’t help it. My throat was rough and dry; my lips were cracked. I scrubbed at my face more vigorously, wiped my knuckles over my mouth, but the air went on clinging to me. A second skin of dirt and ice.
Then there was a new sound. I thought that it came from somewhere behind me, but I couldn’t be certain. A soft popping, no louder than the crack of a pulled knuckle.
All at once, my eyes were open.
For a moment, I saw nothing but pale blue light.
Your turn . . .