This is another writing challenge which I started for the Daily Post and has ended up being a slightly spooky image of a fairground. I have always found fairgrounds and circuses to be rather odd and intriguing places.
The challenge was to use five nouns from the following list: The lake. The night. The crickets. The ravine. The attic. The basement. The trapdoor. The baby. The crowd. The night train. The fog horn. The scythe. The carnival. The carousel. The dwarf. The mirror maze. The skeleton.
The skeleton danced at midnight with the melody of the carousel reverberating through his hollow bones. He yearned to touch the carnival animals again and jest with the dwarves. His life of skin and flesh had been full of colour, light and music and how had he loved it!
Skeleton Danced at Midnight
The crowds spun through the circus screaming with laughter and candy-floss induced mania. It was a sugar-spun world. The fat lady solemnly ate her way through fifteen courses; the bearded lady combed her hair and the iron man lifted trucks to practice his art. Animals preened in their cages and the big top shone like a beacon in the night sky.
The carousel had been his creation with the pretty horses with their painted tails flying. How he loved their graceful motion. Up and down and round and round. They never stopped their flight until that fateful day when he lost his footing and fell under the painted horses’ hooves. He lost his flesh to the carousel but honoured it with his bones.
This little snippet of conversation is the result of a writing challenge (see previous posts!). It turned out to be something that nightmares might be made of!
A Conversation in the Dark
“Where are you?”
“Where’s here? I can’t see you!”
“Here….hold out your hand.”
“I’m so tired.”
“I know, me too.” Fatigue was the killer – as soon as you let tiredness in you were done for. They had long since been forgotten about. Lost to society, but in the darkness they had found friendship and comfort in conversation. They had never met in the light but knew each other’s voices intimately. From what he could tell the other one had cracked ribs and possibly another broken limb. It had taken days for him to realise that anyone else was there. His companion had been unconscious for so long that he had actually tripped over him in the darkness. He had woken him up screaming in agony and so confused that he didn’t know who he was anymore. He had closed his eyes as if accepting death.
Conversation in the Dark – Woman sleeping
While he waited for him to regain consciousness, he slept fitfully, with disturbing dreams. Ogres, monsters, falling and then flying. Snakes, darkness, tombs closing. Sleep was worse than the current situation so he slapped himself to keep himself awake.
“Where are they? Why hadn’t they come?” He repeated over and over to himself. It echoed in his head as all his movements echoed around the darkness. Silence was the answer and it was deafening.
I thought that it might be interesting to re-read some of my old writing challenges that I did via The Daily Post, which was a great source of inspiration to kick start your writing. So there are a handful of posts which I did put on my old blog which are worth re-visiting. In everyone’s words – we should always read through our work and re-visit things….they might be inspiration for something new. Who knows?? One of my very tiny short stories which I wrote while I was sitting on a jetty in Venice has become the inspiration to my first children’s book which I will be attempting to kick into shape on here. Please see my post on “Sea Monsters and Angel Lights” for the story behind the story.
The grey pebbles turned and twisted under her sturdy shoes. It wasn’t a pretty beach, she thought. Although, there was a kind of pre-historic peace to the place. It seemed as if it couldn’t be bothered with day trippers looking to build sandcastles. Only a few fishermen and foolhardy sea gulls clung to the shores of the channel trying to catch a bite for dinner. The coastguard was watching like an ever present guardian angel. A few local inhabitants always had their kitchen windows focused on the waterfront.
Strange plants grew which had developed around this harsh, salty, barren landscape. Nothing else grew but scrub plants. There were no trees so the wily, quick witted birds built their nests in the stones and the scrub to avoid the footsteps of people and foxes.
When the wind blew, people walked at a 45 degree angle and when the sun shone they lay flat out on the uncomfortable stones in bathing suits which were quite inappropriate for the area – more suited to a Caribbean island somewhere.
The rain was penetrating every layer of clothing and she kept her eyes fixed on the pebbles. Occasionally a crushed shell came into view; a strand of mangled seaweed; discarded ropes; broken lobster pots – the plethora of driftwood which came ashore after a storm. The tides changed with every minute bringing a new wave of stones and shingle but the landscape never changed. Time to go home.
I think this story was as short as the walk that inspired it! Cut off in its’ prime. Brevity has always been my problem even in writing essays at school. Writing a whole novel is going to be a bit of a challenge! What are your challenges and obstacles? Some pictures of my block are here:
Another story from my Venice days was created on a night out with my friend Tara who is the most talented artist. We went to the wine shop in the square to fill up our plastic bottle with some very reasonably priced (1 or 2 euro) white wine, and sat on the water’s edge being silly and coming up with all sorts of short story ideas (as you do!). Tara was sketching the back of my house, which later turned into a beautiful painting now on my living room wall. And I wrote a short story about a fairy with exceptionally large feet called Mildred. She had red hair as an homage to Tara who has lovely red hair, and of course to Anne of Green Gables as well! She also has a bit of a temper (of course – after Anne not Tara).
I spent a year living in Venice in my twenties and had an awesome time living right in the city centre. I had an apartment looking out over a canal. The ever lovely Campo Santa Margherita was just round the corner from our house and there were so many canals to sit on and watch the world go by.
My best friend and her husband came to visit me with their small baby – Joseph. After they left I sat by the water’s edge near a statue of a mermaid, on a sunny evening and wrote a very short story about a boy name Joe. Writing something for him was the inspiration for my first book. I didn’t know it at the time but this story has so many things that can be developed into a story – great ideas for characters, great location. We’ll have to see how that goes…
The canal was flashing with a thousand sparkles underneath the water. I called them “angel lights”. In the spirit of having balance in a story it seemed fitting that a beautiful thing should also have a dark side. Surrounded by all the mythology of a sea-faring city I added the “sea monsters”.
I want this short story to become the inspiration to my first novel which is going to be about a little girl who witnesses a horrible crime, gets washed up on a beach and befriended by a little boy called Joe and a salty old sea captain. In this case the “sea monsters” are very much human though! Stay tuned for excerpts coming up.