Stolen Love

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Written in response to a prompt on https://www.creativewritingink.co.uk/resources/writing-prompts/

I was eating a ham sandwich when the ball hit the back of my head. Stars danced across my eyes and then I heard him speak for the very first time.

‘Are you ok? I’m so sorry.’ He asked. I could hear the concern in his voice.

‘I think so.’ I mumbled.

He helped me to my feet, and I looked into the most beautiful brown eyes I had ever seen. My head started to spin, and he put his arms around me.

‘Sit down again. Let me help you.’

We both sat back down on the grass, and he kept his arm around my waist as I found myself leaning into his shoulder. Everything was a blur, but I could feel the thud of his heart and the smell of freshly laundered cotton.

‘Mmmm.’ I whispered as I snuggled up closer.

He lifted my chin and looked down at me, smiled and then kissed my lips. My whole body shuddered. What was happening? He lowered me onto my back and continued to kiss me, gently at first and then more fervently as the passion began to rise and overtake both of us.

He stopped and got to his feet.

‘Come with me.’ He said as his hand reached down and lifted me up again. The feeling was totally surreal as he picked up my bag and cardigan. He took my hand and led me across the grass and out of the park gate. We didn’t speak a word; just walked until we reached his flat. We kissed in the lift on the way up to the fifth floor. He fumbled with the key in the door and pulled me inside. We didn’t make it to the bedroom. We just gave in to the passion there and then on the hall floor.

 

That was two weeks ago. At least I think it’s that long. Keeping check of the days is difficult.  I haven’t been outside since then. He’s hidden my clothes.

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In the Key of Red

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In response to a writing prompt at:  https://www.creativewritingink.co.uk/resources/writing-prompts/

I guide her hand. Letting her touch the soft, yielding petals. Making sure she doesn’t prick her fingers on the vicious thorns underneath the flowerhead. Her skin is like white tissue paper against the deep and vibrant red of her nails; the blue of her veins hiding the blood that lies thick and no longer courses through her. I can’t remember a time when she didn’t have her nails painted this way. “It gives an air of confidence even when you’re quaking inside.” She used to say. “Never let them know how you are feeling. Never show them your weak side. Look into the lights and take a bow. The camera will close in on your hands as they dance like the wind.”

Now everything about her is weak. Her hands as they grip her walking stick; her back as it bends, forcing her head down; her legs that can hardly carry her, her mind that searches frantically for the right words.

‘Who are you?’she asks every time I come and take her for a walk around the grounds.

‘It’s me, Mum. Jenny.’ It hurts when she asks. But I only have to say ‘Why can’t I go out and play?’ and she sees red, snaps back at me, as sharp as a Stanley knife. ‘You have to practice. You’ll never be a concert pianist if you don’t work hard at it. I don’t want you wasting time playing silly games with your friends.’

It hurts as much now as it did then. She could never understand it wasn’t what I dreamed of. My hands were made for caring for others. I wanted to be a nurse.

‘I have to go soon, Mum. I’m on night shift this week.’ She squeezes my hand, and her cloudy eyes look directly into mine. Her brow furrows and her lips, smudged with lipstick, pucker and gather like a drawstring purse as she tries to find the words.

‘Who are you?’she asks.

Quiet as Mice

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In response to a prompt at https://www.creativewritingink.co.uk/resources/writing-prompts/

My name is Harry. So pleased you could come today. It’s quiet back here, isn’t it? We had to be quiet as mice then. Father Andre was very kind. We weren’t the only family he hid. There were others. Hundreds. Come downstairs. I will show you.

We lay still during the day. Listened to the services. I would look forward to the organ playing and the hymns. So beautiful. Not the same sort of songs that we would normally sing during prayers, but still, so beautiful. It made it easier for a small boy to lie still when such music played. No. It’s okay. Don’t admonish him. What’s his name? Joshua. Yes, you little one. It’s very difficult to be quiet all the time, isn’t it? Imagine if you had to lie down on a cold stone floor all day. Very difficult.

The priest and some of his congregation would come at nightfall with food and water. Even take away the foul-smelling buckets for us and leave us clean ones. It didn’t take the smell away, but it made us feel a little more human for a couple of hours.

Father Andre? No. One day they beat him. Demanded he told them where we were hiding. My papa wanted to go up there and give himself up so they would stop, but the others pinned him down. Said he would be sending us all to our deaths. One man was not worth the lives of so many they said. My father cried that night. I had never seen my father cry before—I never saw him cry again.

 

 

 

We’ll Meet Again

Written in response to

https://www.creativewritingink.co.uk/resources/writing-prompts/

 

Mary tried to write, her eyes brimming. Why would they make her do this? Make all of them do this? She finished her letter that told his date and time of birth, his weight, the name she had chosen for him, and placed it in the brown envelope. She was not allowed to write her own name. Her name was a slight of the holy virgin. Henceforth, she would be known as an Abomination number 356.

Where would he go? Sister Benedict had said it was for the best. “Who would want a mother with the mark of the cross? Branded as a slut and whore in the eyes of the church. Better not to know who she is than carry that shame.”

All the girls were sniffling, trying to contain their grief, knowing what would happen if they didn’t. They had all experienced the beatings, the days in solitary.

Unable to do anything else, she wrote on the outside of the envelope, hoping her beautiful baby would realise she hadn’t let him go through choice. On the bottom right-hand corner of the envelope, she wrote in the tiniest of handwriting, A356. Maybe her son could trace her one day. Sister Benedict snatched all the envelopes and disappeared from the room.

The girls left the table and raced to the windows. Looking out at the line of cars on the driveway, they waited.

 

 

Longlisted

A few weeks ago, I spotted a competition run by Flash500 who run a quarterly flash fiction competition But they were asking for stories up to 3,000 words for their Annual short story competition. The rules said that they accepted adult stories and also stories for children. As I have had my Writing for Children module assessed and returned, I decided to enter the story I had written for Assignment 4 where I had to show a power switch between two characters. My story was called Hidden Treasure, and I was absolutely delighted when it was longlisted, HERE and although it didn’t make the shortlist which you can also see on this link now (only contained the longlist when I got the email.) I was delighted to have got this far.

The whole experience has given me the confidence to believe in myself, and I shall certainly be entering more competitions from now on. In fact, I have entered the Bristol Short Story Prize and sent off a couple of stories to The Writing Magazine.

 

Relatively Speaking

Rob stood outside the Dog and Duck and stared at the door. The paint was chipped and he could see the dirty brown colour underneath the current grey. He’d never looked at it before, always eager to get in and greet his friends. He’d never looked at his father before either. Not that he remembered anyway. He wasn’t sure that he wanted to see him now but he deserved to know why he’d walked out on him when he was a baby, didn’t he? Why he’d never been in touch for all his twenty-five years? Rob lifted his chin up and steeled himself. Clenching his fists by his side he pushed the door open with his shoulder and marched into the familiar bar. The man was sitting by the window. His future, older face smiled back at him. It shocked him. Took the wind out of his sails. He turned his back and faced the bar.

‘A pint please Jack.’ His voice was high.

‘Sure, Rob. You ok?’ Jack spoke to Rob but looked at the man by the window.

‘Fine.  I’ll be fine.’ Rob replied. His mouth was suddenly dry.

Rob drank deeply from the pint glass before turning to face his father. He strode purposefully towards him and sat down. His father looked nervous. So he should be.

‘Hello son.’ He held his hand out. Rob ignored it. ‘It’s good to finally meet you. I’ve been waiting a long time for this.’

‘Surprised you could spare the time.’ snarled Rob. What did he expect? Open arms? Tears?

‘I don’t blame you. I’ve a lot of explaining to do if you’ll let me?’

‘You’ve got ten minutes, and then I’m gone.’ Rob couldn’t wait for it to be over. There was nothing this man could say to change things.

Writing Fantasy

Just doing the Fantasy Assignment for Writing for Children module with the OCA and it’s so nice to revisit fairytales and myths etc. I have found it quite hard to write a story of my own invention in this genre but fascinating all the same. Trying to think of appropriate character names, places. What my fantasy creatures look like. What sort of a world they live in.

It came to me while looking at different stories that, I absolutely loved ‘The Ugly Duckling’ story by Hans Christian Anderson as a child. I think everyone can relate to that. I think we all feel like the Ugly Duckling at some point in our lives.

Getting ready to meet someone you really fancy for the first time.

Comparing yourself to your best friend when going out for a night on the town or a party.

I realised quite a long time ago, after years of worrying about it, that the ‘swan’ is not what people see on the outside of a person but what they see inside.

I’m still looking for the swan in me which may be a bit of a wild goose chase now that I am in my sixties but I am definitely enjoying the journey.

back to my research for fantasy writing. I found a list of unusual place names in Britain that had me howling out loud with laughter at times. Have a look and see what you think.

http://www.ashton-under-lyne.com/placenames.htm

Writing a Film Script

Here is a film script I wrote when studying with the OU. Although it may not be perfect it got me my highest mark. I hope it can be of help to anyone attempting something similar. Some of the layout may have been affected when I copied and pasted it on to here so don’t take it as gospel. I have used montage to convey flashbacks and they will be in black and white and without sound to highlight and add drama.

NURSING A GRUDGE (A Film)
By
Carole Richardson (2014)

CAST:
Laura Connor: A forty year old nurse with career ambitions.

Jack Connor: Self employed engineer. Family orientated.

Molly Connor: Five year old daughter of Laura and Jack. Daddy’s little princess.

Rufus Downs: Retired accountant and father who left Laura when she was only five.

Gracie Downs: Rufus’s daughter from second marriage.

Sally: Staff nurse and friend of Laura.

Mr Hobson: Patient

Jenny: Care Assistant.

Isobel: Laura’s mother

Katie: Nurse

FADE IN:
INTERCUT – INT. MODERN KITCHEN/ EXT. BACK GARDEN. SPRING EVENING.
A light and airy, galley style kitchen with units down one side and a breakfast bar running down the opposite wall. Off screen distant sound of a lawnmower, birdsong and the sound of a man and a child laughing and talking can be heard through an open window. We see Laura, side view, leaning over the sink and gazing out of the window. She is wearing a pale blue nurse’s uniform. CU to Laura’s face then camera pans round to show view through window of well tended back garden. Jack is kneeling down beside a pergola. He is mending a trellis that is supporting a large pink Clematis. Molly is by his side trying to help. Laura taps on the glass of the window.
LAURA
I’m off now.
(silence)

JACK
Pass me another tack please, Molly.
(combs fingers through his hair)

MOLLY
(bends down and picks up flower head)
Careful with my flowers Daddy. They die when they’re
broken.

JACK

(stroking her face)
Sorry princess. I’ll try to be gentle.

LAURA

(taps glass again and speaks louder)
I should be home early enough to give Molly breakfast and take her to school.

JACK
(continuing to fix trellis)
Let’s hope there won’t be any emergencies then.

LAURA
(frowns and mutters)
I’ll just tell all the patients not to be ill and come home just when I fancy, shall I?

MOLLY
(waves and smiles at Laura)
Bye Mummy.
(blows kiss and turns back to Jack)
LAURA
Bye Molly.

(CU Jack and Molly. Off screen, we hear the sound of car keys being picked up, followed by door slamming. Jack glances back towards window and frowns before smiling at Molly and continuing his repairs.)

FADE OUT

FADE IN:
INT. HOSPITAL WARD. EVENING
Laura is standing at the nurse’s workstation with Sally. The workstation has a desk and two chairs. Behind this is a small staff room with a couple of chairs, a small table, sink unit, kettle, cups etc. Sally is doing the handover for the night shift. The ward has a main section with eight beds down each side. There is a side ward just off the main ward. The lighting is low and the blinds have been drawn so that patients can sleep. Katie is attending to a patient at the far end of the ward.
SALLY
Mr Hobson’s eaten well today. Obs are fine and he’ll
be going home tomorrow. Moving in with his son…poor thing…won’t be able to sneeze without an inquisition.

LAURA
I know. He’s a right old woman. Still, better than not being wanted at all.

SALLY
Too right. We can’t trace any relatives for Mr Freeman. He’s had another stroke today. Meds have been altered and he’s responding positively. Katie’s with him now.
(nods in general direction of Katie)

LAURA
That’s a shame. Nice man. Never complains.

SALLY
There’s a new patient in the side ward. Rufus Downs, seventy, not expected to last the night… Cancer…

BLACK SCREEN

INT. SITTING ROOM. MORNING. MAY 1978. FLASHBACK

Shot in black and white with no sound. Isobel is arguing with Rufus. There is no sound. The room is poorly furnished with a small dining table in one corner. The tiled mantelpiece has an open grate and there is a clock and ornaments on top. He is holding a briefcase and keeps looking at his watch. In front of them, a five year old Laura is sitting on the sofa. She is holding her hands over her ears and crying.

END FLASHBACK

INT. HOSPITAL WARD. EVENING

SALLY
Laura? Laura? Are you OK? Come and sit down. (manoeuvres Laura into a chair)
Are you Ill?

LAURA
No…sorry Sal. Just a bit of a turn. I’m fine…what were you saying?

SALLY
Are you sure? You don’t look fine? Shall I get you some water?

LAURA
No. Honestly, I’m OK. Carry on.

SALLY
Well… I was saying that his daughter is sitting with him.

LAURA                                                SALLY
Daughter?                                           She’s a bit distraught

SALLY CONT’D
Calling us in every few minutes. We’ve put him on a syringe driver for the pain. He’s refusing food but he’s on a drip for fluids. Everyone else no change from last night.
(takes hold of Laura’s hand)
Are you sure you’re OK?
LAURA
(stands up)
I’m perfectly alright. Stop fussing.
SALLY
Is it Jack? Still giving you a hard time? He knows how important this job is…
LAURA
He hates me being on nights. Thinks I don’t spend enough time with Molly. You know what he’s like.
SALLY
A flaming dinosaur, that’s what. Don’t take any notice. He’ll come round. Look, I’ve got to rush off. It’s Doc Martin tonight. Can’t miss that.
(hurries away along the corridor as she talks)
We’ll catch up in the morning.

Jenny races past Sally towards staff room and removes her coat.

JENNY
Sorry I’m late. Bloody dog wouldn’t have a poo. Can’t leave him in the house alone ‘til he’s done it. Anythin’ I need to know? – Laura?
(Laura stares at door to side ward)

INT. HOSPITAL WARD. EVENING

Laura is by Mr Hobson’s bed in the main ward. The blood pressure monitor is attached to his finger and she is holding his thin wrist, her fingers on his pulse. She looks at her watch to check the rate.
LAURA
It’ll be nice to live with your son, won’t it, Fred?
FRED
I’d rather live with you Laura. (he winks and chuckles) I’d die a happy man if I had you to look at every day.

LAURA
Now, Fred. You behave yourself. You’ll have my Jack after you.
(mumbles to herself)
Probably not actually. Not anymore.
(stares at side ward)

FRED
Hey! You alright love?

(She pats Fred’s arm and smiles)

LAURA
I’m absolutely fine. Now you settle down. Need to be fresh and raring to go in the morning.

Laura tucks him in and walks down the ward stopping at each bed and checking patients. She stops in her tracks as a voice calls from behind her.

GRACIE
Nurse…Nurse?

INT. HOSPITAL SIDE WARD. EVENING

The room is sparse with a small cabinet for clothes and personal belongings. There is a single bed and one chair. A drip is set up at the side of the bed opposite the chair. Rufus is lying in bed breathing heavily and spasmodically. He has little hair and his face is lined and grey. Gracie is sitting in the chair, hunched up and holding Rufus’s hand. She looks up as Laura enters the room. They both have similar coloured hair. Laura stares at Gracie before turning her attention to the drip.

LAURA
Everything see… (coughs) seems fine.

RUFUS
Gracie? Is that you?
(peers at Laura)

GRACIE
No, Dad. It’s the nurse. She’s come to make you comfortable.

LAURA
That’s right. I’m the nurse Mr Downs. Laura. My name’s Laura.

RUFUS
Laura? (he stares up at her) Laura?

GRACIE
Don’t stare Dad. It’s rude. (smiles at Laura) I’m sorry
Laura, he gets a bit confused.

(she lifts his hand to her lips and starts crying again)

RUFUS
(whispers) It’s OK Gracie. It’s OK.

LAURA
I…I need to go… (rushes from room)

INT. HOSPITAL. NURSES WORKSTATION. EVENING

Laura is leaning over desk with papers in her hands. She is distressed and has difficulty concentrating. The light is on in the staff room where Katie and Jenny are having a break and chatting.

GRACIE
Nurse…err Laura?

LAURA

(wipes away tears and looks up)

Can I help?

GRACIE

I’m sorry to keep bothering you…it’s just…it’s Dad. He … He keeps saying your name…
(looks in direction of staff room)

I know you’re busy…

LAURA
I’ll be along in just a minute.

BLACK SCREEN

INT. HALLWAY. EVENING. LATE JUNE 1978. FLASHBACK

Shot in black and white with no sound. Scruffy stair carpet and tiled floor. Telephone stand on side wall. Childs bicycle leans on wall next to tel stand. Isobel sits on stairs, crying. Rufus stands by door with suitcase in hand. Five year old Laura clings to his legs as he strokes her hair. Rufus bends down to hug her before holding her by the arms and mouthing the words ‘I love you’. He walks out of the door. Laura runs to Isobel.

END FLASHBACK

INT. HOSPITAL SIDE WARD. EVENING

LAURA
(brusquely) What’s the matter Mr Downs? Do you need the dosage upping?
(slips hand under pillow and checks syringe driver)

RUFUS
No…I need to tell you…

LAURA

(plumps pillow)

No need to tell me anything. Your family is more important.

GRACIE
Have you still got parents Laura?

LAURA
(glares at Rufus) No. No I haven’t Gracie. My mum died last year and my father…well he…he left home when I was five.

GRACIE
Oh, I’m so sorry. That’s awful. I’ve been so lucky. He’s been a wonderful father. Haven’t you Dad? The best ever.

LAURA

(snatches up Rufus’s wrist and checks pulse)

I’m sure he has. Wish I’d had a father like that.
(Tears are running down Rufus’s face)

I wish he hadn’t left Mum crying herself to sleep every night. I wish he hadn’t left me wondering what I’d done wrong.
(puts his hand down roughly)

RUFUS
(barely a whisper) Laura, I’m so sorry…I

GRACIE
Typical of Dad. Can’t bear to see anyone hurt or upset. It’s OK Dad. Laura’s fine. You just rest now.

LAURA
Don’t you worry about me. You just concentrate on Gracie. She’s the one who needs you. My Dad means nothing to me. Absolutely nothing.
(goes to end of the bed and writes up chart)

GRACIE
Would it be alright if I go and get a coffee while you’re here?

LAURA
You go ahead. No problem

(Gracie leaves the room)

RUFUS
She doesn’t know.

LAURA
Obviously. Perhaps it’s time she did.

RUFUS
I came back… your mum…she wouldn’t…

LAURA
(snapping) Don’t you dare blame my mother. You left us.

RUFUS
Please Laura. Don’t tell her. It would/

LAURA
What? Show her what you’re really like? What you’re capable of?
RUFUS
I’ve no right to ask…
(gasping)

LAURA
No right at all. Why? Why did you leave? For her?

RUFUS
No… I met June… her mum, after I left. There wasn’t /

LAURA
(voice softer) Then why? I thought you loved me.

RUFUS
(breathing heavily)
Because… I thought… my job… more important… I drove your mum away…
(coughs violently)

LAURA
(Lifts him to a sitting position)

You’d better rest…

(Gracie enters holding a paper drinks carton)

GRACIE
Dad…Are you OK?

(she helps Laura to sit him up)

RUFUS
So sorry…so sorry…

(stops coughing and closes his eyes)

LAURA
I need to get on.

(Laura leaves the room quickly.)

INT. HOSPITAL. NURSES WORKSTATION. EVENING

Jenny stands by Mr Hobson’s bed. She waves at Laura sitting at her desk to get her attention. Laura goes over to them.

LAURA
Everything OK?

JENNY
Mr Hobson’s a bit worried about going to his son’s tomorrow.

LAURA
I’ll have a word. Thanks Jenny.
(Jenny continues up the ward checking patients)
What is it Fred?

MR HOBSON
I don’t think it’ll work. With Tom, I mean.

LAURA
What won’t work?

MR HOBSON
Living with him. We haven’t exactly got a good track record.

LAURA
Stop worrying. Everyone has ups and downs. It’ll be fine. You’ll see.

MR HOBSON
I wish it were as simple as that. We had a massive fallout when he was eighteen. He left home it was that bad.

LAURA
You’re OK now though, aren’t you?

MR HOBSON
Well yes…he came back just before his mother died last year. More to make peace with her than me, I think. We’re trying…it’s difficult.

LAURA
This is your chance to make it right. Tell him how you feel. He’ll understand. You’re still his dad.

MR HOBSON
Not much of a dad, Laura. Too busy with my own life
back then. I wish it could have been different.

LAURA
We can all wish that. Wish we’d acted differently.
(looks over to her desk)

LAURA CONT’D
Make it right with him. Before it’s too late…I’ve just got to do something. I’ll be back …

Laura walks briskly over to workstation and picks up her mobile. She keys in a text message to Jack. CU of mobile.
‘Can you get morning off? We need to sit down and talk about things. I miss you. Laura xxx’

Gracie comes out of side ward. She stands and stares at Laura. Laura hurries over and puts her arms around Gracie before leading her back into the side ward.

GRACIE
I think he’s gone.

INT. HOSPITAL SIDE WARD. EVENING

Laura sits Gracie down and goes over to her father. She lifts his wrist and checks for a pulse.

LAURA
Not quite Gracie, but he’s very weak. It won’t be long.

Leaning over, she puts her fingers to her own lips before touching them to his forehead.
She strokes his face gently.

LAURA CONT’D
(speaking almost imperceptibly)
Goodbye Dad. I love you.

A tear slips from her eyes and drops on to his cheek. His eyes flicker open. The tiniest of smiles forms and his eyes are wet. His hand reaches out and she takes hold of it. She watches his chest rise and fall and she strokes his hand before turning back to Gracie.

LAURA
He’s not in pain Gracie. He needs you to be strong for him now. Come closer and hold his hand.

GRACIE

(stands and leans over Rufus)
Thank you Laura. You’ve been so kind. I think we’ll be alright now.

Laura touches Gracie’s shoulder and leaves the room.

BLACK SCREEN

EXT. GARDEN. AFTERNOON. JULY 1977. FLASHBACK

Shot in full colour. Rufus is chasing a four year old Laura around a lawned garden with colourful borders. They are both laughing as he catches her and twirls her around. They collapse on the grass in each other’s arms. They are very happy

END FLASHBACK

INT. HOSPITAL. NURSES WORKSTATION. EVENING

Laura sits at workstation, head in arms. Mobile vibrates. Laura lifts her head and picks it up. CU on message.
‘I miss you too. Will breakfast in bed suit after we both take Molly to school? Jack xx’

Laura wipes her eyes and smiles. She types out her response.

FADE OUT

Childhood Poems – Sweet and sour

Sweet and Sour

Mam made a cone

from newspaper and put sugar in it.

Then she’d give each of us a stick

of rhubarb, to dip.

I loved the green-apple tartness

of the rhubarb against the sweet

sugar granules. Tongues curling

and saliva swirling, like a tap

turned on. Lips pursed

and tongues licking, again and again

‘til it was gone. Mouth and hands

stuck up to glory. Faces beaming

with the aftermath of it,

as we pick the strings

from pink stained teeth. Good

as a bag of sweets any day.

Childhood Poems-The Old School

The Old School

I hear the clang of the bell and I see myself

running on cold concrete across the school playground,

knees gashed and grazed, naked elbows protruding

from a worn out cardigan.

 

Tucking dress into my knickers I tipple up

the sooty black wall, feet firmly planted against its solid face.

Blood rushes and reddens already rosy cheeks while

grit grabs the fleshy palms of my hands.

 

The skipping rope flies high, in time to

‘Polly’s in the kitchen’ and I get a stitch doing the skipping.

I run away screaming as someone shouts ‘Kiss-catch’, NO-ONE

misses snotty nosed kisses from bullying boys with tide marks.

 

A small tin of Tics, tucked in my pocket

Rattles and tinkles and brings all friends running.

‘Share or you’re dead.’ claim a clamour of voices

And a handful of hands are grabbing and jabbing.

 

The bell clangs again and Miss Ellie takes charge

‘Line up in order and don’t make a noise.

Boys on the left and Girls on the right.’

She marches us back through the great gothic doors.