Monday, May 24, 2010

The Life Coach - Thinking Ten Canvas Challenge

Coach Jackson had been a successful football coach at Kings’ College for over twenty-five years and, in that time, led nineteen teams to the finals and collected the premiership trophy fourteen times. It was – and still is – a record for the college; no other coach had gone close to emulating that success rate since Coach Jackson’s retirement many years before.

I had interviewed Coach Jackson numerous times over the years and, through all of the successes and triumphs, all of the players he turned into champions, he has one pang of regret, one player who, despite all of the accolades and star-player treatment, he never went on and made a life for himself. Coach always made a point of helping his players not just on the field, but off it as well.

I think the best way to explain it is to let him tell the story:

Many years after retiring, I was strolling along the footpath in a busy city when I came across my former star quarterback sitting on the footpath outside a busy supermarket. I didn’t recognise him at first; he was dishevelled, dirty and despondent. I had never felt such a pain in my heart before, a terrible outcome for one with such promise years before.
He was always the one who I thought would go on to greater things. I remember him telling me before one finals match, when everyone else in the team was nervous and anxious, that he always took a drive in his Mustang before arriving at the game. It gave him a chance to clear his head, gain a new perspective on things that were troubling him and, that way, he would always be ready to go, always in a fine state of mind.
I asked him what had happened for him to be in such a terrible way. My former player looked at me wearily, as if he had explained it many times before. He had just been through a very rough divorce. He had nothing. Only the few possessions that were bundled inside the shopping cart before him.
I remember reaching over and patting him on the shoulder and said I felt sorry for him for losing his wife.
”It’s not the wife that is the problem, Coach
- she got the Mustang in the settlement!”

(This piece was inspired from Thinking Ten. The image was issued as a Canvas Challenge...write something based on the picture. Hope you liked it!)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

For Eve

Tony and Maria had purchased the apartment block with an eye to the future; a nice place to raise a family, and the rents they received from the other units would supplement their income. Eve had come along a few years later, blessing them with perpetual sunshine and happiness.

Money, however, had not been able to secure Eve’s health. She had been diagnosed at an early age and, regardless of the money they invested in making her better, they lost their sunshine just a few short years later. Darkness had enveloped their marriage. Maria departed and Tony grieved.


The climb to the third floor landing had been difficult. As he walked, ghosts of the past cried out to him; a squeal of joy reverberated off the walls

(daddy where are you...)

and the aroma of his daughter’s favourite meal wafted to his nostrils

(try some of this daddy it’s yummy-yummy for my tummy)

and made him think of Eve and the good times they had shared in this apartment block.

He opened the door slowly, allowing the mustiness seep out before he himself stepped inside. He wandered the unit; fingers touching photos of her on the wall, eyes examining for the umpteenth time the hand-drawn pictures on the refrigerator

(for my daddy. Love E.)

and finally stepping into her bedroom, which had not changed over the years. It was more than a shrine to his daughter – it was his connection to his past.

Tony tidied, dusted, vacuumed and made the apartment feel lived in again – he wanted her to be happy.

Afterwards, he left, closing the door on




Sunday, May 9, 2010

There's Someone At The Door

Another week goes by and not much writing being done. However, I am quite happy with these two pieces that I did for Thinking Ten.

The prompts for the two pieces were: Part 1 - Something Missing and Part 2 - Three Colours and Something Round. With any luck, I have incorporated these well.

There's Someone At The Door (Part 1)

“My God, what is that?” Eldnich asked, running up the stairs behind Ash’dan.

“I do not know,” he replied, “but I have sent for a messenger to find out.”

A few moments earlier, a massive crunch had been heard; the sound of metal slamming against wood. Ash’dan had checked the drawbridge, but there was nothing there. He had called his second-in-command to find the messenger and make some enquires.

“My Lord, he is nowhere to be found. Shall I continue to look for him?”

“No, stand down. I will find out for myself.”

Ash’dan, accompanied by the wizard Eldnich, made their way to the gatehouse. A sudden and deafening crash interrupted all thought. It came from the other side of the castle. Soldiers and guards will milling about; some in readiness for battle, others in fear.

“Eldnich, my friend, I do not know what this threat is – and a threat it must surely be. Would you be so kind as to protect us with your magic?”

“Sire, you know what this means – for me?”

“Yes, friend, I do. But what is more important: your life – or that of the dozens of men within these walls?”

There's Someone At The Door (Part 2)

Ash’dan stood atop the battlements, scouring the horizon. His red hair fluttered in the breeze like the blue and gold pennants that flew above the keep. Eldnich, the wizard, had gone below to rest a few hours before. Creating the Spell of Enclosure had worn him down; he was getting old and each time he dipped into the magic of the Ateru, he aged just that little bit more. Such was the curse of the Ateru.

Ash’dan stood down from the battlement, walked back along the ramparts and headed for the keep. He wanted to discuss some matters with Eldnich and then inspect the damage that the mysterious visitor had caused. He found the wizard’s door wide open, which was a surprise. Normally Eldnich was very demanding about his privacy but here was his room open for anybody to walk in. Ash’dan felt a rising fear. That fear turned to horror as he discovered the mutilated body of his sage friend, lying broken and battered on the floor beside his bed. Something had done this - not someone.

He raced down the stone steps to the grassy bailey, desperately searching for any signs of forced entry. What he found, to his disbelief – and then disgust – were similarly dismembered guards and soldiers. Something had come during the night as he stood watch over the castle. It was vital that he find the breech and remedy the problem before anything worse could happen. He discovered the large spherical rift beside the base of the keep; claw marks unmistakable in the stone structure. Whatever had come through was evidently not human at all.

Ash’dan quickly rounded up surviving troops to assist in the repair work when a thought struck him. With Eldnich dead, there was no way to lift the spell. They were locked inside – together...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Glass Coin - Call For Submissions

A relatively new magazine called The Glass Coin is asking for submissions. From what I have seen (and read from one of the editors), this will be a very classy publication.

Here is a summation of what they do:

Every magazine has a theme, be it politics; woman’s issues or weird tales, there is something that draws readers and writers or like interests to one magazine or another. At The Glass Coin it is our hope to bring writers and readers or all interests, styles and genres to connect over a like-interest in literature. We’ve seen how the written word can bring people together. It can ascend race, gender, nationality and even geography. That’s what The Glass Coin is about.

It’s a big theme for a magazine of flash literature and short poems.

So each issue dissects one idea – a split-theme. This makes the big idea possible. We aren’t a tied-down-to-a-single-theme magazine. This allows us to open up to different genres and styles and opinions. We aren’t afraid to publish words that explore views opposing our own – so long as the writer respects the positions of others while not compromising her own. That’s the exciting idea behind The Glass Coin – the possibilities are endless.

The upcoming themes can be found HERE.

The guidelines for submissions are HERE.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Secret To Keep

I have been quiet here for the last week or so, trying to refresh the batteries, although I am still writing for ten minutes a day over at Thinking Ten.

Monday's prompt was Deep in the woods beyond Campanella Point and so, without further ado, here is the piece:

A Secret To Keep

I had been summoned to my elderly - if not slightly eccentric - aunt’s home in the deep woods just north of Punta Campanella, in the town of Faro. Rumours had circulated about the sanity of Aunt Masina for years; rumours that were both bizarre and terrifying.

I had left Marina del Cantone just after a splendid breakfast overlooking the bay and had arrived shortly before lunch. Although the trip was only short in distance, it took quite a while to navigate the twisty, narrow potholed roads.

I was greeted at the door by her elderly servant Ridolfo, who excused himself after showing me to the sitting room; presumably to prepare refreshments for his employer and her visiting nephew.

“I hear the walls.” That had been her greeting once he had left the room. “They talk to me, telling me secrets of this house, this family - secrets that I can no longer bear to keep to myself. Our family have killed others - many times over many generations. The voices boldly confess of murder and mayhem perpetrated by members of our family. They tell me if I reveal these sins to others, appalling things will happen to all those who know the truth. They...”

A shriek from the kitchen halted her narration. I hurled myself out of the sofa and raced to find Ridolfo laying face down on the scarred linoleum; his neck bent at an impossible angle.

“They have returned – and I for one, welcome them.” Her voice startled me. I spun to face her and shock overcame me. Just like Ridolfo, her head had seemingly been twisted a full three hundred and sixty degrees; the skin around her neck looked like a corkscrew, her eyes bulged from their sockets like a bug-eyed goldfish. Blood oozed down the wall beside me. I turned my head and saw the others were the same. Dear God, what was this madness?

A cold hand touched my neck and then, as quick as lightning, two arms grabbed me; one around the neck, the other holding my arms by my side. I could barely make out Ridolfo behind me in the dirty kitchen window; head still twisted, smiling grotesquely.

“They have returned to tell their tales. There are, however, some secrets that just need to remain hidden...”

(This is also a highly edited version of the original, which I am currently reworking for submission.)