Tag Archives: Blogging

K is for Knowing

I am undertaking the AtoZChallenge this April by writing little pieces prompted by a throw of Rory’s Storycubes. I am trying to write in the day (which is probably why I am currently running more than a day late again. )  

Warren was always the Hard man in our class. He was never top on any tests and often didn’t bother turning in homework or assignments. He said with a shrug that his parents didn’t care how he did so why should he? So he sat at the back of every class room doodling and passing notes and heckling junior teachers. His trips to the principal’s office were weekly but she too knew that his parents were unresponsive and after a couple of suspensions she gave up. It was effectively official mitching as the time off was an incentive for the bad behaviour. 

On a sunny Spring day our class found ourselves free of the classroom on a field trip to Lugnamaken Castle. The gardens of the castle were huge and varied and ideal for a botany class preparing projects. We all split up and went in search of subject matter and I soon found myself lost deep in the maze. With no sense of direction I wandered up and down the narrow walkways in the sunshine and tried to memorise the steps I was taking. Left, right, right, dead end. I was in a small enclosed picnic point with a little fountain and a bench on which lay Warren apparently asleep in the sun. 

I headed over to see if he knew how to get out and realised that a swarm of wasps were circling his slumbering form, presumably attracted by the apple cores that littered the space.  I screamed and started trying to swat them away with my hands rousing Warren who sat bolt upright into the swarm! And was promptly stung all over his head. He looked dreadful, the stings on his face and neck were beginning to swell and I knew we had to get him to medical help quickly but we were trapped in the maze. The normally tough jock had dissappeared and in his place was a terrified tearful boy. Faced with such a serious dilemma I promised him he would be alright and feigning confidence started to slowly retrace our footsteps all the while calling out for help. 

Long story short, after many wrong turns and some thinly veiled panic we got out and found a teacher who took us both to hospital, where we were both treated for multiple stings. My parents rushed to the hospital to check on me even though my injuries were very small. However nobody answered at Warren’s house and so he was returned alone to the school by the teacher.

In no time at all Warren was back to his sullen self. When asked about his injuries it was ‘no big deal’ – this retorted with a little bit of menace. But I now knew better. I had watched the mask slip and saw how vulnerable and unprotected he actually was. From then on I looked directly at him, the boy behind the bravado. 

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J is for Journal

I was originally blogging on the right day but….

So I am away from home and staying at a lovely hotel with my husband. When I went to unpack I realised I left my Story Cubes at home. Suddenly remembered that there is a Rory’s Story Cubes app. So now I have prompts on the move. The letter J is brought to you by Story Cubes Actions edition.

On the last day of school Mrs Carey set them a project for the summer holidays. Instead of the usual essay on their return she wanted a diary about ”What I did during my holidays”. Daniel really wanted to win the prize in September but he wasn’t sure what would stand out.

After thinking about it for a day or two he figured that his diary  could be a photo scrapbook. If he could get his mum to take action photographs on his mobile phone to show what happened he could  print them up and paste them into the scrapbook with a narrative tying them together.

 
The first week he was attending football camp and his mum got a photograph of him scoring a goal on the last day. Unfortunately he had scored it in the wrong goal which was not very pleasant at the time but his mum said you couldn’t tell from the photo.

On the second week it rained every day so he tried exercising at home. He thought it would look cool weightlifting his dad’s weights but the only one he could lift was his mum’s pink dumbbells.

On the third week he couldn’t think what to do so his mum suggested that he go ask their elderly neighbour if he could offer her some  help. Mrs Emery was widowed and lived alone in the corner house at the end of the road. She thought it was great that he was trying to do something with his hols and asked him to help with her gardening. His mum got an action shot of him digging  up a flowerbed and luckily headed home before Mrs Emery realised he had dug the roses and left the weeds.

When Daniel got home that evening his mum was watching telly and didn’t hear him knocking then banging on the door so he got caught out in the rain. She did however get a photo of him angry and drenched to the skin when she let him in. He wasn’t impressed but his mum said it fitted the theme of his diary.

So so week after week they charted the holidays. Attending his auntie’s birthday party a shot of Daniel presenting her birthday pressie – vouchers for Weightwatchers – and another shot of her showing him exactly what she thought of the present. Taking part in a fun run for charity and collapsing red faced and sweating over the finish line. Entering the local heats of Ireland’s Got Talent with his puppet show and the head falling off one of the puppets. Packing groceries with the swim team in the local supermarket and thinking they should come dressed up meant in costume so he was the only ninja turtle while the others were in shirts and ties.

 
At the end of August his mum took the photos to be printed and Daniel pasted them all into his scrapbook. He wrapped it up with pride to bring with him on his first day back convinced that the prize was in the bag! On the Friday Mrs Carey announced the winner, Stephanie Wynn. Daniel was disgusted after all his hard work. Then Mrs Carey said there was a special prize for the person who had given everyone in the staff room a great laugh – and presented a dumbfounded Daniel with a Wooden Spoon. 

 

 

 

H is for Holidays

I have just realised that my theme choice for the A to Z Challenge means that I am trying to succeed at two challenges – to blog 26 times over he month of April is the main task. But I am finding that it is also quite a challenge to throw 9 dice and try to craft an instant story from the pictogram prompts. 

When I throw the dice for the letter H the following nine pictograms fall for me to string together. 

 

But to make it even more interesting I will throw in an expansion pack (Enchanted)  

The annual camping trip was a boring ritual but they had done it since Eloise was a little girl. It mainly consisted of muddy fields, ants in the food stores, camp fires that took hours to light and lost sheep that wandered into the tent at all hours. One year they had ended up abandoning the whole thing because of the cockroach infestation but apart from that it generally passed with very little to remark on.

This year they were camping at an commercial campsite with lots of activities organised for the families. There were songs and nursery games for the little kids, clowns and magicians for the older kids. It was possible to pay for day excursions and experiences such as rock climbing and white-water rafting in the hills or paragliding on the lake nearby. But all in all it felt very sterile, not close to nature as they had been in previous years. So when they found out that there was a two night bivouac excursion up into the mountains Eloise had begged to be allowed to go with the other teenagers. Her parents had hummed and hawed, concerned about so many hormones in such a confined space but in the end they relented and on the Friday afternoon the teen team headed off hiking. 

About an an hour into the hike they met a tiny old woman who appeared to be in a hurry to get down the mountain. She approached the team leaders and a frantic conversation ensued. Eloise couldn’t hear much of it but the gesticulation suggested the lady was entreating them not to go up the mountain. She shrugged and rubbed her eye as a bug had flown into it and it was starting to water. 

At around 7pm they reached a small clearing and struck camp. It was obvious that this was used regularly with the cold remains of a stone-circled fire in the centre and all the brush and shrubs within easy reach cleared, presumably to start previous fires. Two of the boys headed off to collect firewood while the rest of the campers assembled their makeshift covers. Soon a rosy fire was crackling away with beans bubbling and potatoes roasting in the embers. 

The entertainment was the usual campfire fare, ghost stories by torchlight and tales of alien abductions. The girls huddled together and the boys feigned bravado but by 10pm they were all bundled up in their two shelters. It was colder up here in the mountains and Eloise was glad her sleeping bag covered her head to toe. The night sounds replaced the laughter and the chatter died down as the fire cooled. From under a loose flap of the bivouac Eloise could see the fireflies in the dark recess at the edge of the clearing like fairies dancing just out of reach of the humans.
The camp was slowly bathed in pale light as the full moon emerged from behind a cloud and her eyelids closed as she drifted to sleep. 

In in the morning it was the silence that woke her. Eloise was always a heavy sleeper when she camped – a combination of fresh air and exercise. But this morning the silence was eerie. She sat up and looked around to see if she was the first up and saw…..nobody. The camp was empty, abandoned, sleeping bags and clothes strewn along the ground. She was the only one there. 

Eloise sat in the chair by the window. The ticking of the clock was the only sound in her hospital room. She hadn’t spoken a word since they had found her, wild eyed and dishevelled in the remains of the campsite. The doctors said she might never speak again. They never found the remains of the others. Just lots of blood on the bushes round the hillside. Wolves the inquest had ruled. 

G is for Go ahead without me

So, in an attempt to get back on track I am publishing my prompts and will edit as I go on. G is now complete. 

  
The Storycubes for ‘G’ gave me:

A pill + a snake + cactus + dinosaur head + axe + Viking helmet + angry face + sun/throwing star/sheriff badge + necklace/scarab. 

The shelf was weighed down with the mementos of his travels. Each peculiar item a bookmark for a chapter in his life. He had begun training as a circus performer shortly after he flunked his first year engineering exams and in time it had led him into stunt work. 

The Shuriken was the first trophy, a prop from his time as third ninja on the left in the brawl scene in his first proper movie. The throwing star was blunt but polished to look deadly and it caught the light from the low-laying winter sun. A plastic cactus, comical in its proportions, was from a low-budget Mexican crime romp where he had doubled for the Disney Club graduate who was trying to be relaunched as an adult actor. 

The Viking helmet had one horn broken, not as a result of the stunt he had performed but the after party in a country pub somewhere in Ireland. Beside it stood a stone axe authentically hewn from real rock and tied to a sturdy branch. It was covered in dried mud and fake blood and the wooden shelf sagged from its weight. 

The dried up rattle from a rattle snake was almost totally obscured by the model dinosaur bone, the relative size of the two reptiles they represented clearly displayed. One had been a gift from a make-up artist he had dated on location, the other he had misappropriated from the props truck on his final day of filming. Mary lifted the final item carefully, a costume amulet he had worn on his last film, “The Curse of the Pharaoh” and dusted around it. 

She slowly righted everything to its proper place and turned to bed behind her. For a while she had blocked out the sound of the ventilator as she remembered her strong and vibrant boy. The fearless acrobat who could fight and run and crash and fall.  So different from the shell of a man now locked comatose in his room. 

She picked up her book and started to read aloud from the chapter she had paused at. 

F is for Foreign travels 

So a day late but at least I am persistent… Looking at the marvellous effort many people are making in crafting beautiful blogs I hope that my efforts may make someone smile.  

Back to Story Cubes Originals for my prompt. 

  

Sammi stared out across the Castle battlements at the crescent moon. She was exhausted after five days travelling by bus in the heat. But she was finally here. Wherever here was. 

The night she came home to find her boyfriend and sister road testing his hot tub she grabbed her rucksack, her passport and a compass and headed to the airport. She didn’t care where she went as long as it was far from her life. She placed a map on the table in Starbucks and spun the compass. The arrow settled to North and pointed at a destination. Morocco. 

Since then she had flown for hours, bused for over a day in an airless bone shaker with pink fluffy dice in the window, waited in fly-infested roadside coffee bars and finally hitched a lift with a insane learner driver to this ancient moorish castle.

As she stared at the cloudless night sky a shooting star caught her eye. She blinked away the tears. The betrayal by the two people closest to her was like being shot in the heart. She mentally grabbed the arrow shaft with both hands and ripped it out letting the warm air scented with spices and dreams seal the wound. Tomorrow a new day would dawn and a new life beckoned. 

A is for Another Throw of the Dice

                                                                                           

 

Day one of the challenge and I have decided my theme… A free throw of the dice will give me a start and I must write something inspired by it. But these are no ordinary dice folks.  Let me introduce Rory’s Story Cubes, a devilishly simple, beautifully executed game or tool depending on what you want to use it for. Aaaaand here is today’s throw.  From Story Cubes Voyages edition.

  
Nine cubes. Nine pictures. So many ways to read them. Let’s see where they take us..

Finding a way to start your story can be as elusive as some HOLY GRAIL. There is no magic MAP to decipher , no trail to follow. You must simply put your THINKING CAP on on and let your mind take you where it will. Everyone has a different way of attacking the writing process. Some lock themselves away in a den or an office – a modern day protected space or CAVE. While some folks need perfect silence to work some people like to listen to MUSIC that helps them evoke an atmosphere. It can be FRUSTRATING when the COGS won’t fit into place but perseverance leads to the literary NIRVANA. Stick with it and you will find your CROCK OF GOLD. 

Hello?

I’ve reached 200 views on my blog. I’m not entirely sure how or why but ‘Hello’ and ‘thanks’!

Now, any chance anyone wants to break the seal (I’m practically a comment virgin) and say hello back?

In order to encourage you here’s a photo of nothing in particular:

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