A Tom’s Life

A Tom's Life by Chris Hall lunasonline

Romeo clung to hope as fiercely as he clung to the gutter, eavesdropping on Nero as he chatted up the new little cat in town. The pretty princess had never given Romeo a second glance, but his hope swelled when he heard her rebuff his rival.

Nero leapt down, landing with the soft thud of paws on paving-stones. Immediately Romeo swung himself up onto the roof and stretched seductively before the little queen.

She slammed her paw down on the tiles. ‘Enough of you toms, you’re just after one thing! I’m going to hang out with the girl cats.’ Tossing her pretty head, she flounced off into the night.

Romeo stared after her open-mouthed. He peered down into the street below where Nero was twitching his tail in irritation. He jumped down and landed beside him. Nero turned his head. ‘No luck either?’ Romeo shook his head. ‘Wanna go rat-catching?’


From  a prompt by Hélène Vaillant of Willow Poetry: What do you see? June 4, 2019

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Forgotten

forgotten by chris hall lunasonline

Her memories were wrapped up
in the present.

The milestones of her life.
Happy times, happy faces!
And the bitter-sweet, 
the sobs and sighs.

Then waiting and hoping;
futile as it turned out.

Try. Open the box.
Look inside!

Oh, but it is empty.
Not even dust.
The memories, just ether,
Her mind, a void.


From  a prompt by Hélène Vaillant of Willow Poetry: What do you see May 28, 2019

The (un)dutiful daughter

The Undutiful Daughter by Chris Hall lunasonline

Maggie trudged up the winding steps of the south tower, resentment gurgling in her stomach. Every day for the past 15 years since her father had passed away she had been obliged to carrying out the wearisome task. Every day of the past 15 years, as the big old clock in the hall struck twelve, she filled the copper watering can and climbed the tall stone steps. She was careful, oh so careful, not to spill a drop of the precious sweet well water which was all that must be used. Nothing sullied, nothing tainted, only the very best. Every day for the past 15 years she climbed to the top of the south tower to water a single bloom which her father had nurtured faithfully for as long as she could remember.

No one else could carry out the task. Not the gardener or the gardener’s son. Not the girl from the village who came to tend to her mother’s feet. Or, heaven forfend, the surly housekeeper, who prepared her mother’s meals, but not hers.

Meanwhile, Maggie’s mother sat in splendid isolation on a huge cushion-laden throne, from whence she issued orders and complaints in turn, which fell from her lips like so many leaden marbles, rolling over the stone floors to trip up the unwilling or unwitting. No task was too trivial to escape her notice, as she monitored the household through her all-seeing crystal spyglass. And, despite her great age, she still looked fresh as a daisy, while Maggie herself was beginning to wilt.

Maggie was almost at the top of the south tower. She rounded the last narrowing loop of the steps and arrived at the pinnacle. There was the single bloom. It never changed, never altered, throughout the changing seasons and  the succeeding years; its golden face, thrust upwards to the sky, surrounded by a plethora of pink petals. The petals never discoloured or dropped. The single bloom remained, static, unseen, apart from by Maggie and her mother’s crystal spyglass.

Lately, as her knees creaked and her back ached with the climb, Maggie had begun to wonder what would happen if she deviated from the routine. But it was an idle thought. She swallowed her resentment down. Duty must be served.

As she raised the copper watering can, a flock of geese flew overhead, honking noisily. Maggie looked up. If only I were free like them. Her heart yearned to fly away to a world beyond the castle; explore the unknown lands beyond the fields and cottages which she could see from the top of the south tower. If only I were free, she mouthed silently.

Maggie’s back arched unwillingly as she tracked the progress of the snow-white birds. She craned further back; her feet teetered on the topmost step. Arms cartwheeling, she desperately tried to keep her balance. The watering can flew from her outstretched hand. It spun as it fell, spilling a wheeling spray of sweet well water down the wall of the south tower.

With a superhuman effort, Maggie flung herself forward. Her face buried itself in the golden centre of the solitary bloom. Her hands clawed for purchase, pulling out fistfuls of pretty pink petals which showered over the steps. Maggie sank to her knees and steadied herself. Slowly she came up for air. Maggie stared in horror at the ruined solitary bloom. All that remained was a battered bare stalk with a smashed-in face.

Then gradually, as Maggie watched, the squashed centre of the solitary bloom plumped back out again. Features appeared: eyes, nose and mouth. Maggie blinked. The corners of the mouth turned up and rosy blushes appeared on the golden cheeks. Petals sprang out on either side of its face. The head of the solitary bloom turned; it gazed up and down, left and right, settling on Maggie’s open-mouthed stare.

‘You wished to be free,’ it said in a clear and musical voice. Maggie continued to stare. ‘Close your mouth, child,’ it continued.

Child? Thought Maggie. Hardly.

‘I too wish to be free,’ said the solitary bloom, its head bobbing. ‘I have been here for an eternity, marooned on top of this barren tower.’

Maggie rubbed her eyes.

‘We can both be free, Maggie,’ the voice sang. ‘Free as the birds on the wing. Free as the clouds in the sky.’ It threw back its head and laughed. Then it straightened up and gazed intently at Maggie. ‘You can free us both, Maggie.’ It nodded vigorously. ‘Would you like that Maggie?’

Maggie stared, transfixed. Free?

‘Free, Maggie. That’s right.’ The solitary bloom leant towards her and whispered something.

Maggie stood up. She looked around at the fields and cottages below. She looked at the wide blue sky where birds sang and flew. She stretched out her arms and took a deep breath.

‘Go on, Maggie,’ the solitary bloom urged.

Maggie bent down and ripped the solitary bloom from the earth were it grew. She held it aloft, soil cascading from its roots. The solitary bloom let out a great cry. Maggie took up the cry as she leapt from the top of the south tower.

Down below in the depths of the castle, the crystal spyglass started to shake in the old woman’s hand. It reverberated, taking up the sound of the cries coming from the south tower; louder and louder, until the very walls of the castle started to shake. The servants fled from the building and the old woman yelled and cursed on her cushions as the castle crumbled and crashed down around her. Moments later there was nothing but rubble and dust.

High up in the sky two snow white geese honked loudly, flapping their wings in joyous freedom; soon they had disappeared beyond the clear blue horizon.


From  a prompt by Hélène Vaillant of Willow Poetry: What do you see May-14-2019

Fury

Superpower by Chris Hall lunasonline

Sandra’s superpowers had come as a surprise. Caused by a faulty connection in her washing machine, the freak accident had dumped her on the floor. She’d felt rather odd after that, sending out electric shocks at the most inopportune moments. It was only when she’d touched the interactive display at the mall and the whole panel had exploded that she’d realised their potential.

So many wrongs which need righting, it was hard to know where to start; but the people who had rejected her writing were at the top of her list.

Hell hath no fury like an author scorned.


Written in response to The Haunted Wordsmith’s Prompt May 13, 2019

Hide and Seek

000000 helen valliant photo prompt for 13 Many

My big brother said to go hide while he counted to a hundred. Then he’d come look for me.

I can’t count that high, but I’ve been here ever such a long time.

I think I’ve found the best hiding place ever and maybe he can’t find me.

I WON!


From  a prompt by Hélène Vaillant of Willow Poetry
https://helenevaillant.com/2019/05/07/what-do-you-see-may-7-2019/

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And just because it’s such a lovely sunny day here, I thought I’d share this with you:

 

Can you look again?

000 HW Prompt 28.04.19
Source

What do you see, Tiger Lily?

I see the moon.
I see the path shining in front of me, illuminated in the bright moonlight.

What else?

Nothing else.

What do you feel, Tiger Lily?

I feel the dampness of the night.
I feel the ground, wet beneath my feet.

What do you hear, Tiger Lily?

I hear waves breaking on a shore far away.
Do I hear you breathing?
Why can’t I see you?

What do you smell, Tiger Lily?

I smell the dampness of the earth.
Nothing else.
Where are you?

What do you taste, Tiger Lily

I taste nothing.
Just emptiness.

What do you remember, Tiger Lily?

I remember when we first met; on a moon-bright night like this.
I remember… everything.

And what do you want, Tiger Lily?

I want you back.


Written in response to The Haunted Wordsmith’s Daily Prompt 28.04.19

No Pressure, Writer!

genre writing challenge lunasonline No Pressure Writer by chris hall

I watch the time countdown on my screen. My shift is about to start. I run my fingers over the keyboard. I’m ready.

The workload has been increasing. So far I’m keeping up. The monitoring is continual. From the moment you are woken until the lights and screens are turned off: when to shower, when to eat, when to take a break.

It’s all about production, efficiency, the bottom line.

Clock in, clock off, clock out. Thank you for your contribution.

At least I’m only writing ‘soapies’ to entertain the masses. Imagine the pressure if I was doing something crucial.


100 word story written in response to Teresa, The Haunted Wordsmith’s Genre Writing Challenge April 16: Technological Horror