Our verdant bower

Come, join hands
let’s walk together
our hushed feet will fall softly
on verdant ground
pause by the sapphire stream
listen to lush sounds
murmuring water
rustling leaves
bird song, insects whirring
breathe in, breathe deeply
scents of the earth
fragrance of flowers
close your eyes
breathe in, breathe out
taste the emerald air
feel the dappled golden sun
warming your face
here, safe, embraced
enfolded by nature
let us share our stories
in our woodland bower.


Image credit: Shane Rounce Unsplash

Written in response to Sadje‘s What do You See #93 photo prompt.

The image shows shows a tree trunk. We can see hands placed next to each other along the length of the tree trunk. The hands belong to people of different race, age, and gender.

The Facility #5

Days become weeks, the visits to the basement continue, the treatment-experiment-conditioning, whatever it is, each time washing over you in a stream of detached disinterest; each time, returning to your room and recovering in bed after another steady shuffle around the green garden with your fellow patients-subjects-inmates where, trapped on this endless treadmill, no-one speaks or makes eye-contact.

Food arrives on a tray – greyish porridge, brownish soup – delivered by the blank-faced orderly; later, a shot-glass of something sweet and very orange; later still, the lights dim and you sleep: is the orange liquid drugged you wonder, as you drift away again.

You request a newspaper for some distraction, but the request’s denied; instead, the orderly brings you a mindless magazine filled with photos of people you don’t recognise; you consider the art of paper-folding, but your fingers won’t cooperate. You study those fingers; your fingernails never seem to grow, still short and neat, just as when you arrived; your hair, as far as you can tell without a mirror, is the same; are you groomed in your sleep?

Another day, and when you return to your room, a TV screen has been installed, high up in the corner, just below the dull red camera eye; the orderly switches it on and just as the picture flickers into life, there’s a commotion in the corridor outside; a siren wails, there are shouts, running feet; the orderly spins around and rushes from your room.

In his haste, he leaves the door unlocked.


Confused? You might be! Read previous episodes of The Facility here.

Written in response to two challenges:

– Di of Pensitivity101‘s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge – HIGH, DAFT, SHIN
– Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge‘s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt – DISTRACTION

Photo credit: Scott Webb on Unsplash

Click here for more Six Sentence Stories. Better still, bring your own and join us!

Recharge

far from the cares
of everyday life
away from the sorrows
away from the strife
sitting together
on a distant shore
watching the tide
washing in
washing out
as the sun descends
and the stars appear
breathing in
breathing out
being mindful
just being


Image credit: Yulia Matvienko

A quadrille, written in response to Sadje‘s What do You See #92 photo prompt.

The image shows two lego mini-figures sitting on pavement. Batman has an ice cone and Superman has an ice lolly!

The Facility #4

You’re wheeled into a bland anti-room and the homely-looking nurse murmurs something to the blank-faced orderly who places a restraining hand, gloved in dark rubber, firmly in the centre of your chest; there’s a momentary flash of crackling bright blue light, and the world of sharp senses swims away to be replaced by the sterile hums and beeps of medical machinery.

Later, consciousness returns and you find yourself lying in dimly-lit room, redolent with the unfriendly spectres of duplicity and distrust, hooked up to a machine; probes have been inserted under your skin, like tiny burrowing animals, connected to wires and tubes which snake away into the gloom.

You sense you’re not alone: others are in the room, you can hear them breathing – you try to shift position, but your limbs are leaden and you can’t move your head – a gloved arm reaches over and another shock is administered; you float on the edge of unconsciousness once again.

Someone’s speaking, you open your eyes to the yellow glow of sunlight and the homely-looking nurse smiles faintly and extends her hand to you; others are in the room, filing out through a great glass door into a patch of green garden, where there is even a hint of a breeze; you find your feet and follow.

You shuffle around in a silent circle, noticing that everyone looks alike; then you catch your own reflection in one of the windows – a face you don’t recognise.

A face that’s just like theirs.


Confused? You might be! Read previous episodes of The Facility here.

Written in response to two challenges:

– Di of Pensitivity101‘s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge – ANIMAL, FRIEND, TRUST
– Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge‘s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt – SHIFT

Photo credit: Scott Webb on Unsplash

Click here to read more Six Sentence Stories here – consider bringing your own too!

Dripping Poison

Dark times
was it planned?

Malice aforethought
not sleight of hand.

People gather on the streets
a bottle’s thrown
petrol flares…


Shelves are cleared
bags are stuffed
snatch a shopping cart
fill it to the brim
seize a hi-fi
grapple with a fridge
snatch another shopping cart
come back for more!

Grab your phone
tell your friends
the shelves aren’t empty yet
and not a cop in sight…


We might pick up the pieces
we might mend fences
but it’s going to be
a long
road
back.


Written in response to Sadje‘s What do You See #91 photo prompt.

The image shows a bust of a man. A dark thick liquid is being poured on it.


Important note: this poem was written from the photo prompt. The fact that it shows a dark liquid being poured on a white figure should not be taken as a representation of the violence that has occurred here in South Africa. The victims of the violence are primarily Black African-owned small businesses whose shops have been destroyed in shopping centres and malls, and the staff who work in the big retail outlets there.

The Facility #3

Through barely-open eyelids you stare up at the red eye of the camera, deliberating – why are they watching? what do they want? – yet, despite the threat, you find yourself beginning to doze off; the lights dim, and the soft mattress ushers you into the peaceful comfort of slumber.

The click of the key in the lock startles you awake, the room brightens, and the door opens to reveal the homely-looking nurse accompanied by a blank-faced orderly, also dressed in white – another unsmiling type – just like the administrator at the reception desk; in fact, they look strangely alike.

Under the nurse’s neutral stare, and consciously not looking at the eye of the camera in the corner, you swing your legs from the bed and sit up, while the blank-faced orderly manoeuvres a wheel-chair into the room and escorts you to it with a firm and forceful grip. He whisks you from the room and along the sterile bright-white corridor, following in the nurse’s efficient footsteps; now, turning a corner, you arrive at a pair of doors which slide open at your approach: an elevator.

The nurse’s broad figure blocks your view of the control panel, so as the elevator descends and remembering your room is seven floors up from ground level, you carefully count as floor after identical floor flits past the vision panels in the dull metallic doors.

Ten floors down, the doors open into a dark void; a scent, reeking of menace, fills the air.


Confused? You might be! Read previous episodes of The Facility here.

Written in response to two challenges:

– Di of Pensitivity101‘s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge – TYPE, BEGINNING, ESCORT
– Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge‘s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt – CENTER / CENTRE

Photo credit: Scott Webb on Unsplash

Read more Six Sentence Stories via the Link Up Party here

kaleidoscope girl

brazen beauty strutting on the stage
taunting, teasing, technicolour dreams
reaching for the bright lights
looking for the wrong types
see me, touch me, feel me
take me, make me yours

drenched in glitz and glamour
splayed legs go on forever
shiny skin, huge black eyes
lips that shine and pout
beat thumping, heart racing
she can never give enough

falling, sprawling
every night another bed
white lines, liquid gold
rolling in the sultry dark
waking, shaking
dress torn and lipstick smeared

it happened once too often

star winked out

peel her from your wall
fold her up
and put her
in your pocket.


Written in response to Sadje‘s What do You See #90 photo prompt.

Image credit: Sean Robertson @Unsplash
The image shows a painting of a woman on a wall. There are words scribbled on the sides of the wall art and people have drawn on the face too.

The Facility #2

You finger the neatly folded garments which you’ve been instructed to put on; slippery to the touch and with a rainbowlike sheen, they are both inviting and intimidating; they are not the kind of clothing you are accustomed to wear but, without even asking yourself why, you dress in the unfamiliar items: underwear, bodysuit, socks and slippers, subconsciously yielding to yet another level of disassociation.

A vague feeling of contentment enfolds you and you cross to the window to observe your surroundings, surprised to find yourself on an upper floor, when you’re quite certain, so far as you can be, that you haven’t climbed a staircase or entered an elevator since you tumbled through the front entrance to… where?

The view overlooks an atrium enclosed on all four sides by lofty blank-windowed blocks, stretching up to graze a surprisingly bright blue and cloudless sky; the ground below is covered with the greenest grass you’ve ever seen: surely it must be synthetic? You study the featureless buildings, but no faces return your gaze.

You move across the room and slide open the bathroom door; there’s nothing remarkable here, although you notice there is no means of locking the door which you find vaguely disquieting but not, you assure yourself, any cause for alarm.

You return to the bed and lie down, your eyes roving over the ceiling and into the corners of the walls; spotting a pinprick of dull red light, you suppress a cry – a camera – you are being observed.


Confused? You might be! Read the first episode of The Facility here.

Written in response to two challenges:

– Di of Pensitivity101‘s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge – WHY, CRY, SLY
– Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge‘s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt – BOWL

Photo credit: Scott Webb on Unsplash

Join us at the link party for more Six Sentence Stories here!

Lost with out you

White-out world
cold and stark
bleak as the day
you went away
alone in the dark
heart beating
soul freezing
night closes in
no-one to love
no-one to hold
without you
everything
comes to a halt
please will you
throw me
a rope.


A quadrille, written in response to Sadje‘s What do You See #89 photo prompt.

Image credit: Oziel Goméz
The image shows an old car parked in snow. The luggage rack on the top of the car has a rubber raft on it.

The Facility #1

Welcome to the…’ the double doors swish open before you can read the rest of the sign emblazoned across them and you stumble forward onto a deep coir doormat where a homely-looking nurse in a crisp white uniform stands waiting, clipboard in hand.

‘You must sign in,’ she says, taking you firmly by the elbow and propelling you towards a large wooden desk where an unsmiling administrator slides a sheet of paper across the polished surface towards you; the nurse thrusts a pen into your hand and for a moment you’re not sure what to do; you stare at the form but the words slide off the page and tumble into oblivion.

‘Just sign it, we have your details,’ instructs the unsmiling administrator; the homely-looking nurse stabs the form with a forefinger, so you submit a faint fragile scribble that seems to satisfy them.

The nurse whisks the pen from your fingers and indicates that you should follow her down a blank corridor lined with unlabelled doors, offering no clue as to what might lie behind them; you have no alternative than to comply, although you have no idea where you are or why you are here, so you shuffle along after her until finally she comes to a halt and opens a door.

She ushers you into a clean, compact dorm room: ‘Your new clothes are on the bed,’ she gives you a little shove then withdraws.

The key turns in the lock and her footsteps fade into silence.


Photo credit: Scott Webb on Unsplash

The Facility is a new short story series, written in response to two challenges:

– Di of Pensitivity101‘s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge – HOMELY, WELCOME, SMILING
– Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge‘s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt – ALTERNATIVE

Read more Six Sentence Stories here!