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Archive for the ‘Non-Fiction’ Category

I entered a contest a while back. I didn’t win. Or even place this time. Which stings. But it’s okay. It’s okay, because I always pay extra to receive a serving of critique alongside my disappointment. And sometimes. When I’m lucky. It ends up making my disappointment taste like dessert.

Yes, there were words like, uneven and cliche (ouch) but the words that really stood out for me were…wonderful imagery, mind-blowing, my favourite sentence and I would enjoy reading more by this author.

And all of that makes me want to grow. Be better.

What’s not sweet about that?

Anyhow, here’s my story:

Missing Love

He fills with words that will only reach the earth, he’s been warned, should they carry their weight in truth. The sweat of his pudgy finger crimps the creases he’s so carefully folded, and he pulls himself in tight, hurling his most sincere spirit into what he must believe will be an accepting unknown…

It can be hard to remember how something began. Details fuzzy and timing, non-specific. But Elian and Luna are not spared in this way. The moment that first child disappeared is forever cut into their hearts. After all, watching someone fade is not easily forgotten. To see them laughing one minute and evaporating the next like a recalled raindrop, hangs heavy in their atmosphere.

Long before despair scraped its way to the core like a surgeon’s scalpel, this small town had been a home. They’d lived in colourful houses. Slept in cozy beds. Trailed fingertips through the fountain and sacrificed pennies for precious wishes. They’d even believed they could swing high enough for their toes to touch the hopeful stars. 

But as children began to vanish one by one, so did the bliss.

Panic took the place of the light hearts that once filled the streets. Terrified mothers imagined mass murders. Undiscovered bodies. Fathers waited with shotguns at the ready for an evil that would never show its face. Paranoia and mourning became a way of life for this once content little place.

Time passed and slowly the township reached a decision to try and understand rather than fight. And as they deliberated, they became shamefully aware that those who’d faded were solely the ones conceived outside of love. Their beginnings had cultivated from the seed of greed. Selfishness. Or pride. Some spawned from lust. Envy. And some, simply a product of rash disregard. 

Slowly, the town determined that not one of the lost had bloomed from a pure moment of tenderness or a sincere form of love.

And, as is human nature, they were eager to replace what was gone. To fix the broken. Fill the void. And so, no lesson learned, they attempted to conceive through what could only be deemed as despair. But their loveless efforts refused to bear the fruits they once had and their barren souls remained smothered in empty darkness.

Now, as Elian and Luna make their way to the fountain, unearthly quiet fills the creeks and crevices. Swings sway loosely in the intermittent wind, their rusty chains straining against a tongue-tied backdrop. The two maneuver through the littered streets, Luna’s fingers curving around Elian’s palm. Long and loose like the limbs of a weeping willow.

The park feels smaller now, its surrounding fence halting at their hips. And they loom over jungle gym bars they couldn’t even reach at three feet tall. Roots of now massive Oaks have thrust through the dusty earth. Tossed the time-warped slide upside down. A wavy serpent. Vacant face peering upward. And a carousel cocked on its side lies like a forgotten toy on a nursery room floor.

But today is unlike any of the many days they’ve ambled this same path. The waterless fountain urges them on, its surrounding air fused with static. A vibrating hum pulling them to it like the towropes that had once hauled them up to the highest of mountaintops. They carry no pennies. Only wishes. And with no words, they hear what the other is thinking. With one glance, they feel what the other is feeling. One touch and they want what the other is wanting.

They are one.

Elian turns and presses his lips to Luna’s forehead. They stand this way for some time, paused in the moment between what was, what is and what could be. Most gave up. Some moved on. Others simply bided their time. Waiting. Withering. Becoming ash between the sheets. But Luna and Elian had only grown stronger. Looked after one another. 

Flourished. Together.

And now they stand at the fountain’s edge. Luna’s lemon coattails flapping in the wind. Elian’s dark curls shifting freely over his brow. He takes her hand in his once more. Waits as the sky begins to change. Magnificent hues kaleidoscope into shapes and patterns. Azures and indigos fold into amethysts and tangerines. They believe it to be the most beautiful thing they have ever seen.

And for a brief moment, it is.

Until a small white tip, the determined nose of a well-intentioned craft, breaks through a slit in the sky’s colourful curtain and glides gracefully, softly, silently into the hearts of their two accepting souls.

This is the most beautiful thing they’ve ever seen. 

Luna feels the stir. Almost sees the pudgy finger. Elian reaches down to touch the swell of colours that cascade from the sky and stretch across her belly.

“Welcome, little one.” He whispers. “This is love.”

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I remember hands.

When I think of someone I haven’t seen for a long time. Or someone I will never see again. I see their hands. My mind pictures the shape of their nails. The length of their fingers. Slender. Wide. Rounded or squared. The curve of their wrist. The gestures they made.

Unique. Personal.

But they change. Our hands.

Fingers bend with an arthritic curve. Skin tells of our days in the sun. Scars. Lines. Creases. Spots. Yes. They change. And yet, there’d be no mistaking them. We would still know them anywhere. And to whom they belonged.

And that’s true for us. We bend. Curve. Digress. Succeed.

Scar. Fail. Fall. Fly. Hurt. Heal.

And change.

Because nothing ever stays the same. Even if it seems so. Not our hands. Not us.

But we will always reach for the familiar. Seek the uniqueness. Strive to see the recognizable.

The memorable. The unforgettable.

We’ll always look for what we understand. We will always know each other. Even through continuous change. Because despite sometimes believing we want things to stay the same, we thrive on growth. Diversity.

Spice.

The things that make us look closer. Use our minds. Feel. Find. Connect.

The things that give us a hand…to hold on.

AlanaHanad

I really don’t watch that much TV so ignore the remote and focus on the fact that I was brave enough to post this extreme close-up of my unmanicured mitt. It was a spontaneous shot. ;0)

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Autumns, roses, loves, leaves. Leavings and losings. Moons, stars, sorrows, souls. Forevers and goodbyes.

Fine webs spun off the tattered edge of a torn heart.

Broken

Bleeding

Beautiful

Pain. Ache. Loneliness. Things that make it hard to breathe. Things that make it easy to cry.

Things that turn on the light before we reach the switch.

The wishes we shouldn’t make. The things we don’t know we want. Endings leaving happiness to interpretation. Beginnings making unhappiness clear. The hope that turns the page. The rock that keeps us anchored. The robe that makes us feel safe while we dream.

The pocket that carries us.

Every song worth hearing. Every story worth reading. Has these. And they are the things that hold us.

While we listen.

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Killyleagh Castle, Co Down, NI (Photo credit: Me)

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I’m crazy.

 

I say this with a sigh, so you get a feel for where I’m at. Oh, I may try and pass it off as Hazy, but no. There’s no doubt in my mind I’m certifiably nuts.

 

And sometimes I forget to tap into that. To use it to my advantage.

 

Because it works for people like me. People with a creative inkling. So does a little shot of something strong and throat-blazing first thing in the morning, although I’m holding off on going that route just yet.

 

But I have been pondering this blog lately. Wondering what its really about. And I don’t mean the content. Because honestly no one ever truly knows what the hell I’m rambling on about. Including me, most of the time.

 

And because of that, my sentiments will mean something different. And serve a different purpose. To whomever who reads it. Which I like to believe is a good thing.

 

No, what I mean is. Why am I doing it? At the end of the day, it doesn’t seem it’s getting me any closer to this “making it” thing I hear people referring to. And I’m not using it to get ahead. Or herd myself any closer to what I want to be when I grow up.

 

So yeah. Just when I was thinking the sky was falling—creative people have a tendency towards the fatalistic—I received what I feel compares to a loved one at the finish line cheering me on. Just as I’m about to give up on completing the last grueling marathon mile…

 

It was a morning text.

 

Right after a restless night’s sleep. And I honestly couldn’t have dreamed up anything better than what it said. That I’m talented. And write beautifully. I’m prophetic and a gift! And that I should publish my posts into a book.

 

Now, I know that had I not received that message, I’d still be here, my friends. I know because this blog helps me. And I can only hope it does the same for you. Writing is my passion. And we know there’s no stopping what the heart wants. The heart’s a stubborn bugger, don’t you know.

 

I simply need to bring the scarecrows in off the fields. Shake the birds from their nests. And trust that even though it’s hidden from my site, there is a wild blue over yonder.

 

And trust me. Believing it’s there, even though I can sometimes barely see it through the clouds, is like finding a secret tenner in the glove box just when I thought I’d used my last penny.

 

Boom.

Wildblue.jpg

County Down, Northern Ireland

 

 

 

 

 

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Did I mention we have pups?

 

Ohhh yes. We sure do. Well, they’re pups bordering on adulthood. But when we got them back in October 2016, they were wild and bouncy babes.

 

And because of them, all kinds of things are happening.

 

They are mini magicians. These doggies. They’ve magic’d our entire carpet into one big potty. And all of a sudden, our kitchen table seems to be about two inches closer to the ground.

 

Yes, they are as cute as all get out, but me oh my, are they a handful.

 

Times two.

 

And as I say, they’re making things happen.

 

We are currently in the process of replacing the carpet in question. Which is, of course, a very welcome change of scene. But as all updates and renovations do, one thing has led to another and we are now replacing the entire lower level flooring.

 

The stairs.

 

And the landing.

 

And doing so, has prompted us to hire an 18 foot long skip to clear out the last 18 years of our life in this house. One foot for every year. A somewhat eerie coincidence, don’t you think? (Okay now…where’s my little pensive emoji guy)

 

And as I’m sure you know, the arduous task of clearing out. Unburdening. Is both entirely painful and hugely liberating. But to make it especially challenging, I have apparently kept every single card

 

ever

 

given

 

to

 

me.

 

Not to mention every single card I have ever given to my three children. And my husband. And I sat there in the driveway, on a little stool beside the skip, and read through…

 

every

 

single

 

one.

 

It took days. And it was lovely. Tucked inside every card was a memory that made me smile. Things I thought I’d lost. Photos that melted my heart. Sentiments that had me in tears. Events I’d forgotten.

 

And some that I will never forget for as long as I live.

 

And after reading. Deep breath. Eyes closed. Surrounded by the ones who’d sent them. I frisbeed each of them into the dumpster’s abyss. No, not the people silly monkey. The cards.

 

And it’s okay.

 

I’ll be okay.

 

Because once they’d disappeared. In amongst the trash. And the treasures. I looked around. And everyone…all who’d sent me those special somethings that are now in the bin…were still with me.

 

In my mind. My heart. And in my soul. Because what matters will always dig its nails in. Cling to the side. Refuse to fall away. Or be lost in the darkness of a skip.

 

So we can hold on to them for dear life.

 

Or we can let go.

 

See what sticks.

 

Because what sticks once we’ve let go, is what we hold life-dear.

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When I was young, I read all the fairytales. The pretty ones. The sparkly ones. The dark. And the doomful.

 

Most of us did, right?

 

But I wonder…did they have the same effect on everyone else? (If I were feeling silly, I’d insert that little guy here…the one with his finger and thumb resting on his chin. And a pensive look on his little face. (Ah, go on. He’s one of my favorites)

thinking-face

Stories like Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood. Sleeping Beauty. And The Three Little Pigs.

 

Ohhh yes. I slurped that sinister stuff up like it was flowing from a big huge straw.

 

And it’s strange. Because I’m a realist in most areas of my life. Yet somehow, I’m gullible in this one regard. Probably because I’m a sucker for a great story.

 

I want to believe. Buy in. Exist amongst enchanting pages. And nestle safely between their protective covers. But hey. Only if there’s a good bricklayer about to keep the wolves at bay…I wouldn’t chance landing over in Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and HAM.

 

Anyway, back to my point. And it’s this. As a young girl, I believed in fairy tales.

 

I believed I could wish upon a star.

 

Or a birthday candle.

 

Or a dandelion.

 

And that it would come true. My wish. Whatever it was.

 

And I want that back. My faith. My belief. My gullibility. My trust in the process.

 

That if I dare to wish. Take the leap. And drink from the fountain. That it’ll pay off. That I won’t just be left holding a smoldering wick and a wilting stem.

 

That I can erect my own fairy tale.

 

That I can get back what I lost when I was young.

 

But I need you to believe with me…

 

So are you ready?

 

Okay now…

1

2

3

Blow…

Wish

Photo taken at Nendrum Castle Lookout, Co Down, NI

 

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Memories are fickle things.

They try so hard to keep us happy. And other times, are set on breaking us. Into the tiny little crumbs we find in the seams of our pockets.

Remember those?

Memories are illusionists. And they are the boss. They can have us staring off into the star-studded sky. Cue the dopey grin. And in one fell swoop. Taking a swipe at tears we swiftly find kerplunking into the darkness of our coffee cups.

But whatever the case—sad or happy—memories are invaluable. Irreplacable.

And we’re glad of them, aren’t we.

Always looking to make more. Searching for the next chance. The next stolen moment.

And while that’s okay—it is, after all, what keeps us going—it’s important to relish in the ones that already exist. Invite them in. Spend time. Offer them a teacake. Make them feel special.

Wanted

Needed

Important

And loved

Because sometimes. When we’re busy searching for the next best thing.

We forget.

That we can just put our hands in our pockets. And drag our fingers through those unexpected, joyful and delectable little tidbits. Relish their different shapes and sizes. And say…

“I’ve got everything I need right here.”

TunnocksTeacake

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My time here is coming to an end. Normally, the word slowly might have been in there, but not so…this time. This time, time is running round the room. And I’m chasing its cheeky little naked bum, telling it to stop.

And settle down.

Behave.

But time is a rascal, isn’t it? It doesn’t listen when we pray for it to hurry up. And it sticks its fingers in its ears and hums a defiant little tune when we beg it to slow down.

We can plead with it. Finesse it. Scold it. And we can try to get it into that elusive bed. Tuck it in tight.

So it can’t move.

But those mischievous little hands will keep right on ticking. Showing us who’s boss. No matter what tactic we take.

And it’s because of this I’m finding it best to ignore time. Ohh yes. For now, I’ll just set it in front of the telly with a big bowl of sweet stuff. And maybe. If I’m lucky. I’ll be able to steal away a few more of its precious moments. You know…while its having a good chuckle at something we wouldn’t understand.

Because, you see, time also has a truly wicked sense of humour.

TheShrigleyClock3

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Moments…

 

They come and go. And most times, sneak past us on tiptoes, slipping away as silently as they entered.

 

And we miss them.

 

But not lately. Lately, each one is noticed. And appreciated.

 

Whether it be…hard or sad. Crafted. Fleeting. Special or mundane. Every single one is precious. Unrepeatable.

 

And sometimes, all we’ve got.

 

So stand strong. Watch from that lookout that’s threatening to collapse around you. Hunt for them. Steal them if you have to. And hang on. Don’t let even one escape.

 

Because these are the moments, my friends. And it’s tempting to believe that they’ll never end.

 

But they will.

 

Over and over again.

Nendrumlookout

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ironing.

 

I have to admit that although I have 100% British blood racing through my veins, I don’t iron a damn thing unless it’s absolutely necessary. But it’s different here. So I’m different here. And when I first arrived, I had to iron, of all things, sheets.

 

And a duvet cover.

 

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever attempted this task, but I’ve lived in the land of tumble dryers for many years and I can say with certainty that I never have—Okay now…it might not be just because of where I live—and that particular morning, it was arduous. Trying. And taxing. For me.

 

Five weeks I’ve been here now. In the UK. And this morning, I once again, saddled the old board with yet another billowy, seemingly endless sheath of heavy fabric. But this time, the iron glided over it as smoothly as skates on ice and before I could have the satisfaction of shouting, Blimey, I hate ironing, I was done.

 

A very different experience than the first time round.

 

And it proved to me, it really is all about frame of mind. Whether it be that you’ve simply decided ironing isn’t all that bad or that life has shown you what the meaning of hard truly is, it’s the way you think about things that will make the difference.

 

And a difference can sometimes be your steam. And that steam’ll blow the wrinkles out from where they have no business being.

Iron

 

 

 

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