Wednesday Write-in #35


Welcome to the Wednesday Write-in!

CAKE.shortandsweet runs a write-in every week to writers to practise their skills, and get chatting to each other about their work. Everyone is welcome to join in, and the more people you tell, the more everyone will get out of it.

Prompts

cheesy  ::  breathless  ::   carbon copy  ::  jets  ::  shaving

Guidelines

There are no hard and fast rules, but here are some brief guidelines:

  • You can use the prompts as inspiration or try to work them into your story somehow. Use as many as you want.
  • When your story is done, post it online (your blog/twitter/in a comment here), tag with #wednesdaywritein and comment with a link so we can read it. You can write as many stories as you like.
  • Please take the time to read and comment on as many other stories as you can.

Featured Story

We’ll feature our favourite story on the blog with a review of it and links to the author’s blog/twitter/facebook if relevant.

Posts will generally go up at 12am(ish) on Wednesday – stories are due by 10am Thursday (UK) to be considered for the featured story. You can keep posting your work after this, it just won’t be featured.

The winner will also be eligible to publish on our special CAKE.shortandsweet genre through Ether Books.

Get Involved

Look for us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with the write-ins, or click the follow button to get blog updates!

Join our CAKE.writers group on Scribophile, an online community for writers to give and receive constructive criticism.

Read our Previous Issues and check out the Submissions page if you’d like to be a CAKE.author!

Any questions? Otherwise, have fun writing!

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96 thoughts on “Wednesday Write-in #35

  1. Morning

    Helen peeled the curtain back a couple of inches, the raw dawn light rushed in stinging her weary eyes. She raised her hand up to her neck and pinched a small fold of skin, then twisted it in her fingers, as her vision acceded to the glare. She felt slightly breathless again; her short sleep had been shallow, she was so tired.

    Behind her, in the spartan damp bedroom, he lay there, spread-eagled, snoring like a contented pig. His breath smelt cheesy, and his face fell haggard from a lack of shaving, and too much beer.

    She turned her head again to look up at the crisscross of con trails the early morning jets had deposited on the powder blue sky. Reflecting in the murky glass, the bruise under her right eye reminded her of the pain.

    Then it washed over her, she hated her life, it had become a carbon copy of her late mothers.

    Her wrinkled hand shook, but not with fear, as she walked to the chest of drawers and wrapped her fingers around the knife.

    • Wonderful descriptions in the opening paragraphs. Your use of cheesy is fantastic. He does sound hideous. She gets my sympathy very quickly.

    • Sad, and amazing. I loved your atmospheric descriptions, especially her remembered pain when she sees the bruise under her eye.

      The only thing I’d change is in the line when your character snaps and realises she hates her life. I’d put more of a sense of finality into the sentence. Maybe think about changing the comma you have after ‘over her’ into a full stop? Maybe even make three short sentences out of the sentence that begins: ‘Then it washed over her…’ ? Just a suggestion. I really enjoyed your piece.

    • Loved this. I like how you evoke her anxiety through her actions. The description of the bedroom as Spartan was very effective for me because I always think of a warrior when I hear it. I also think that elaborating on her decsion/ realisation would be a good idea. well done great imagery and atmosphere.

  2. Pingback: Chased | Brassduke's Blog

      • Not sure what you mean when you say ‘the people they left behind’; there’s a person missing from their family (the dad), that’s all. And I’d rather not tie the dad down to any particular interpretation. I like leaving things open for readers! If you want to read it that he’s gone back to a war, that’s great. Thanks for reading, and for your comment.

      • Oh, I’ve just reread my story, and I now see what you mean about ‘the people they left behind’. The songs the dad sings as he works are old ballads, about love and loss and death, leaving home (possibly to go to war!) and leaving your girl behind, and all that. They’re not referring to anyone in particular.

        Sorry for the misunderstanding.

  3. #wednesdaywritein

    Hi everyone. Short one but took me ages! Look forward to reading this week’s contributions.

    Sue Shampoo. Sue Hullaballoo. Sue Dancing Shoes. Sue Too. Sue Phew.
    I park the perambulator and lift the rain protector: “Sue Chew! ” she says.
    Her round puffy cheeks are smudged with orange maize. Irresistible.
    I kiss her. One.Two. On each cheek and feel the sticky residue cling to me. I flick my tongue over my lips: “Mmmm!” I say before the cheesy flavour is replaced with a chemical aftertaste.
    A wet wipe and a promise to make her presentable.
    Children run over artificial turf. She joins them in the exercise area. I watch her struggle to keep up. She is breathless. She is not a carbon copy.
    Replicated not duplicated they said.
    There would be blurring.
    But I loved her, just the same.
    Her hair not as yellow, her eyes not as blue. Sue Two.

    • This is so touching – I get the impression of great loss, and deep sorrow, as well as the simple joy of watching a child play. I loved the image of kissing her maize-y cheeks, and tasting the cheesy/chemical taste of the crisps she’s been eating on your lips: that one brings me right back to babysitting my younger cousins, many years ago. It’s a beautiful and powerful image. I really liked this. There’s a lot going on, for such a short piece. Well done.

      • Yes, I was going for some sort of cloning and hadn’t thought about a syndrome, but I can see where that would come from. Something to think about. Thanks for comment.

    • This could be a poem, I love the sounds of this especially the play on sound at the start (And the allieration of the p sounds.) and then how you tied it up and complete it with Sue two, very clever. There is a strong emotion punch to this aswell. there is so much to this, well done. It’s very clever the way you suggest that she is chemically( or otherwise?) duplicated as this piece about the realisation of the mother that she won’t be perfect can also been seen as a sort of chemical aftertaste in itself. the more I read the more I find; great stuff.

      • Ps. Glad, Emmaleene, that you mentioned the chemical aftertaste. I was trying to hint that that might have come from the child. Thanks.

    • Lovely pacing and rhythm, you packed so much in (as others have said!). Sadness mixed with love is subtly played with here. Personally I also found the emotions quite chilling – along with the idea of cloning. Great topic to write about. lovely!

    • Initially I felt the mother had lost a baby before this one, but the cloning idea is great. A lovely light touch.

    • Oh man I am freaking out because this is so awesome. So beautiful. I can really feel the emotion of the main character at the end and the realisation that this situation isn’t as it seems has made me read it four times over already. Well done. Really great.

  4. Pingback: Morning Shave | Craig Towsley

    • Powerful, real, and true. I really liked this for lots of reasons, but most importantly I thought your pacing was great, your images were strong and your narrative was believable and understandable. We’ve all had those moments when something tiny blows up into something huge, and all our life’s troubles tumble in on top of us. I’m glad you chose to end it the way you did, too – avoiding the cliched ‘showdown’. It’s much more real the way it is. Well done.

    • Poor guy having a rant and feeling very sorry for himself. Then his morning gets even worse with the door knob hitting him in the back! Nicely brought back down to earth by his wife’s mild question. Very enjoyable piece. Perhaps you don’t need the comma in the last sentence.

  5. Miss World
    Remember ‘Miss World’? That bevy of beauties, all carbon copies of each other parading their cheesy smiles and long legs in swimsuits? And more smiles and perfect hair in evening dresses, with a chance to wear a tiara even though you weren’t a princess? Each perfect little clone gushing breathlessly: ‘All I want is world peace and to work with children’, subtext ‘make lots of money’?
    Things weren’t so smiley off-stage. It was every man for himself, or should I say ‘woman’. But maybe not. One girl was disqualified for being too much of a woman if you know what I mean. She was not a vestal virgin, in fact she had an illegitimate child. Horror and scandal! It’s a joke now of course, when real princesses can throw off their tiaras along with their clothes and have a bit of fun, and a baby seems a standard accessory for every ‘celebrity’ couple who have known each other five minutes.
    You don’t remember Miss World? Well, it was probably before you were born. In these enlightened times it’s not right to objectify women and even Barbie holds a pilot’s licence. But little girls still play at dressing up their dolls. And some mothers are deadly serious about dressing up their daughters and parading them in pre-teen beauty pageants.

    • Interesting social comment here. But should there have been more about the pre-teen pageants? I felt the piece to be unfinished.
      I thought the Remember/don’t remember device was rather clever.

    • I like the juxtaposion of the past and present to show that not all that much has changed and if it has it’s not always for the best. You let the reader draw their own judgements. You have woven the prompts in seemlessly.

    • I like the Barbie comment, made me laugh. ‘deadly serious’ I think carries a whole lot of weight and, I would like to hear you continue with a social commentary on the pageants and the pageant mothers. Fresh route that you took with the prompts.

  6. Pingback: Fallible Opinions - Short Story Month #17 / Wednesday Write-In #35

  7. Pingback: New Beginnings. A story | running with bulls

    • Sweet little piece! I really liked this. I have my fingers crossed that all will work out this time. 🙂 I like the little details you throw in, though, about the narrator ‘not having a go at him’ because everything is so new; I have a feeling that the underlying tensions might bubble over again. A really good piece.

    • I love the way she holds back because she wants to make this work. from the opening description you had me hooked; great sense of anticipation and atmosphere created. As a reader I really want it to work for them.

    • Oh, I do hope it works out! But the lip biting is ominous! Interesting point at which to start their story. I really liked that. We seem to know so much about them already this way.

  8. Missed last week, was away on hols. Delighted to be back this week. Looking forward to reading everyone’s soon.
    Bed of leaves
    Days in intensive care, connected to a life support machine, twisted in dread and trepidation. Dripping blood flowing around in tubes to swim and pulse inside my gutted body. Veins knotted. Now in a room of my own which they say is secure. Half asleep from the familiar lullaby of the beeping and pulsating machines, throat is dust dry, need a drink.
    Paper like dead leaves launched into the air, flutters beyond rescue. Dead dry fragments spiralled to the floor, crumbled to dust like the wings of moths. Darting eyes watch the sky turn to ink. A mess of remembered memories, densely annotated with chaotic amendments. Long peculiar fingers stretched to pick pieces up from the floor. Twisted fingers squirmed and slurred speech objected. I flinched and the whirr of machine accelerated.
    I am whipped back to the shaving of pedal on calf, the last glimpse of bike before it was swallowed by the tyre, chewed up and spat out. The flash of an image, flesh being scraped from tyre ridges like the cheesy fungus scraped out from under curly yellow toenails. Rose into air like a flake of dead skin scratched off after sunburn, floated suspended between momentum and gravity. Hit the ground rolling, face inches from tar and rubber, world spiralled, twisted tumbled, flesh shredded by road. A violent stop, body slammed into footpath lined with dry leaves. All fluttered into the air.
    Head whirling, blinked, wisps of cloud came into focus. Pain radiated from broken skin. Bloody torn flesh, crawled to scattered twisted metal. Stomach heaved, mouth filled with bile, chippings embedded in flesh, a gash. Shuddering legs collapsed. A shrill high-pitched buzz emanated from somewhere. Above me, or in me, acute, piercing. World faded, sky turned grey then black.
    Silence wasn’t immediately obvious, but that ink stain darkness carried the sounds away. Marks made with pen, cut a passageway through the speed of sound, they tunnel back to an instant. It’s all that’s left. The space lurks between worlds, where something will resonate. A voice between the silence, bursting in me. It overflows into a manifestation of itself. Tubes carry liquids in and out plastic veins and capillaries, along steel arteries. Scorched skin bled into darkness black enough to stain. A machine almost killed me now a machine keeps me alive. Whoever did this must have wanted me dead.
    Groping the silence, I wonder, where it will end? How long have I been doing this for? Are my sentences that stretch across the page seeking out meaning, merely spokes on a wheel that spin across the sky going nowhere? Is what we all do every day futile? I do it, and do it again the next day, go to the dark places. Something draws me back to the moment when things fall apart.
    I write it down again and again hoping something will surface. When filled, I lift each page away from the tackiness of my spiky sentences gripping onto the carbon copy paper below. I leave the copy to sit in the sunlight to ripen. When sufficiently crinkled I examine for clues of something new, something in the swagger of my g, the loop of my l. Was I a bastard? Under the scrutiny and judgement of others would we all just wither away to nothing? The closed eye of my e says I’m lazy. I search for myself between the lines of these words. I must have been cocky. I perceived danger as remote, as far away as the sky itself. Jets and streams of futile sentences tell the same story again and again. Pages flutter uselessly into the air to crumble like moth dust. That’s what we’re all made of, dust. Good for nothing, useless dust. I wonder about the futility of my existence and the futility of my survival. Death seemed inevitable, not just for me but for humanity, we’d all die. What was the point of it all?
    I rip up the pages into strips and fling them into the air to float like fluffy pillow feathers, a soft landing when bouncing on beds. I landed with just a bed of dried leaves to break my fall.
    The familiar beeps of the nurse’s immanent entrance, the melody of her code programmed into my brain as a new language. I understand the announcement of her entrance to my world. She barges straight in and waddles over arms full with a tray. The door slams off the wall.
    “Have you been feathering your nest again?” She puts the tray down on the table in front of me and bends to gather my fallen leaves.
    “Will I throw these out?”
    “No.” I grunt and squeak at the same time, my voice hoarse with silence and numb from pain.
    But she didn’t hear me. She heard the machines which beeped in a way that told her not to. That to threaten their disposal was a threat to my existence, my last lifeline, the only thing connecting me with who I am. She put them back on the windowsill into the sunlight to yellow and golden some more.
    She left me alone. I anticipate the crispness in my fingertips as I pluck dreams from darkness. I didn’t see her leave with her arms full, didn’t see the door swing closed and stop just short of being shut fully. Half asleep from the familiar lullaby of the beeping and pulsating machines I just want to stay here and wait until it’s my turn to die. Wait here, wrapped in the arms of my new umbilical mother, mechanically keeping me alive with the fluids of humanity and mortality. They’ll get me eventually, someone will get me.
    I wake to the clicking of the heavy metal door. No beeping song of imminent arrival, just a silhouette closing the door carefully silent. She wavers at the foot of my pages like weeds under the sea. I can feel my body brimming up with anxiety. She bends and picks one up delicately as if her fingers were made of air and I choke on my objection.
    A girl in a scruffy khaki coat sits down in the chair beside the bed uninvited. Her familiar green eyes look exhausted. She is afraid.
    “I knocked you down.” a breathless whisper.

    • Wow. Some of the imagery in this is incredible. I loved this bit: ‘flesh being scraped from tyre ridges like the cheesy fungus scraped out from under curly yellow toenails. Rose into air like a flake of dead skin scratched off after sunburn…’ The first is so concrete, disgusting, visual, and the second so ephemeral, but they’re both exactly right for what you’re trying to describe. Amazing. I really enjoyed the strange, wavering air all the way through your piece. Is the patient in a coma? Certainly, he seems vulnerable and defenceless, which makes the khaki-clad girl at the end seem so menacing. Really enjoyed this story! Well done.

      • Thanks, glad you enjoyed. As I was writing it I was imagining that he lost his memory (except for the moment of the accident) and he was trying to find a connection with his old self by writing down the moment over and over. I deliberately left it ambiguous to reflect his confusion. Thanks again for feedback. Looking forward to another bash at it tomorrow !

    • Your writing manages to create an atmosphere filled with emotions and passions. Those short sharp sentences are so effective. And I can really see and hear the hospital room and all the machinery that’s keeping the narrator awake. A demanding read.

    • Wave after wave of vivid imagery. It is such an intense piece of work. I was gripped. I wonder where it goes from here? The words on the page being like a lifeline of some kind is a wonderful image.

      • Thanks Elaine. Not sure where it goes from here but I have a few ideas. I am looking forward to writing more of this. Glad it had you gripped.

    • Whew, you’ve left me breathless with all that amazing imagery. Noting your references to letters – did you study graphology?

      • Thanks, glad you enjoyed. Didn’t study graphology but I’m sure it must have been one of my childhood obsession for a while and I probably borrowed a few library books- these details just came to me from my subconscious!

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