Pauline

Date: 26th February, 2019
Edited: 28th February, 2019

Written at the Writers Cafe meetup
Prompt: Pauline

Ants. Tiny six-legged creatures with brains the size of a grain of salt. And yet, somehow, they manage to build up empires with sprawling underground tunnel networks with multiple queens commanding billions of individuals.

SPLAT!

But they are no match for the soles of a size 7 Reeboks AIR.

Gravel coated with the gore of squished ants was sent flying in the wake of a pair of stumbling, giggling teenagers. They laughed as they clumsily made their way across the gravel clearing, high on the sweet stinging taste of forbidden vodka.

“No one would find us there,” one of the girls said to the other in a whisper.

“Then why are you whispering, stupid?”

Laughter erupted from the pair. The pretense of caution and stealth was thrown away to the wind like a rather noisy and crinkly fluorescent colored trash bag.

Tipsy steps found better footing as gravel gave way to the packed earth of the forest. Their shoes crunched as they walked over the carpet of dead leaves blanketing the forest floor. The trees seemed to grow in size the deeper they went, blocking the nighttime sky as their trunks lengthened and branches clawed upwards toward the moon in vain.

“You can’t even see the camp lights from here,”

“That’s the point,”

“It’s really dark in here,”

“That’s…also the point. Stupid.”

“Oh.” Then, brief pause. “Right!”

A girlish giggle warbled out in the darkness.

“So, where is it?”

The crunching of leaves from two pairs of feet… The background soundtrack of various forest noises…

No answer.

Another beat of background sounds.

Still no reply from the other girl.

“Hey… Where is it?”

“Hey… Where is it?”

A drunken laugh, a bark really. The brief burst of sound stacattoed out into the forest.

“No seriously. Where is it?”

A drunken LaUgh, a BArK really. The brief BuRST of sound stacattoed out into the forest.

“No seriously. Where is it?

“That’s not funny,”

“That’s NoT FUnNy,”

“Cut it out!”

There was a quick swishing sound- the movement of a person in loosely fitting pajamas. No impact. Just empty air.

Then, silence. Just the forest and her.

One beat.
.
.
.
Two beats.

And then, a quiet whimper. “P…Pauline?”

CUT it oUt!”

Another quick SWiSHinG noise- the movement of SOMETHING much, MUCH larger and heavier than a person step step STEPPING on the dry dEAd leaves lurching forward and- a HARD, WET, MEATY IMPACT. The sound of GUSHinG liquid. G u r GL i ng. A dull, heavy THUNK. The cRINkLinG of leaves.

Then, silence. Just the forest and her and…it.

Not quite.

Incoming- a new collection of sounds. The collective skittering of thousands, no billions, of tiny little legs, marching towards their new destination.

Pauline stepped out of the woods. She emerged from within the dense copse of trees, brushing off dead leaves and debris from her hair and clothes. Her Reeboks AIR hit the gore-covered gravel, the tiny sharp pebbles rattling underfoot with each step, overshadowing the sound of billions of tiny legs.

The ants were marching in a neat and orderly line, marching into the woods with a purpose. Pauline was going in the opposite direction. She easily ignored the ants.

But she could hear something else very, very clearly- above the ants’ skittering, above the rattle of the gravel underfoot, above the thunderous rhythm of her heart.

And there it is, a quiet WHimPer, “P…PAuLine?”

Pauline kept walking and did not look back.

1st March, 2019
Writer’s Notes:

It’s been a week since I’ve written prose so I’m a little rusty. This goes to show that I need the weekly habit to keep writing stories feeling natural. This week I wanted to dip my toes back into the horror genre and try a different spin on the whole “drunk dumb teens going into the woods at a campsite” trope. In this case, I tried to tell the story through descriptions of sound and with lots of ambiguity. I was inspired with the recent trend in horror movies like BIRD BOX and A QUIET PLACE where senses are handicapped and the antagonists are a really up to the viewers’ imagination. I find it refreshing and a lot more frightening. I can’t really say how well I executed this in written form but I will continue trying to refine this technique. And from others’ advice, will work on consistent POVs and better characterization of characters.

Tell me what you guys think?

Until next time,
The Writing Borb

She Wrote in Red Pen

Date: 12th February, 2019
Edited: 14th February, 2019

Written at the Writers Cafe meetup
Prompt: She wrote with red pen

WARNING: Mentions of suicide

“Dear Bro, Mum and Dad,
Emma, Rose and Chad.
It’s me, the magnificent Jen,”
Jennifer wrote in bold red pen.

“I’m writing today
‘Cuz I want to say
Something that is really quite grand,”
Continued Jen in bright red pen.

“I do understand-
Might not be a fan,
Might totally mess up your zen,”
Jen scribbled in vivid red pen.

“But I must come clean,
No lies in between.
I’m gay- I’ve known since I was ten,”
She wrote shakily in stark red pen.

“It’s because of that
I deeply regret
I’m not madly in love with Sven,”
Jen scrawled messily in red pen.

“I’m sorry I lied
But I really tried
To pray away the gay, amen,”
She cried guiltily in red pen.

“Disappointment and,
Disapproval and…
You all will turn on me even,”
She wept, grieving deeply in red pen.

“I cannot face this.
I’d rather give into bliss,
Run into Death, arms wide open,”
She committed in sharp red pen.

“So goodbye to you.
Fam and friends, adieu.
Signing off, for the last time, Jen.”
Here, blood from her own red ink pen.

I clutch in my hand
The last of my friend.
Jen, I hope you will be the last
To write tragedy in red pen.

14th February, 2019
Writer’s Notes:

The night prior to writing this poem, I read a suicide letter written by a trans girl- she was 17 when she took her life. If you would like to read it (although, I must warn you, dear readers, it is a heavy and tragic read) you may click here. It put me in a somber mood, the kind that makes the world look gray and dark, where light could do little but illuminate the depravity of humanity just enough so that people could see just how horrible we as a species could be. It’s even more hard hitting when I have loved ones who are transgender and/or part of the LGBT community. (Not saying that trans issues are the same as those of the gay or other gender/ sexuality spectrum)

I carried those feelings through the night and into the day and into the writers cafe meetup. I’ve always used poetry as a method to deal with these thoughts and emotions, the words acting like an anchor, the rhymes and constraints acting like walls of a psych office and the act of writing, spilling feeling into reality where I can look at it and make peace with my insides. I was quite scared to share this piece to the others but I’m humbled and happy that those in attendance were respectful and appreciative of my work, the message I wished to send and my feelings embedded in the words.

I call out to those reading this far to please, stand by your loved ones and keep them close. Keep them safe. Let them know that you love them. No matter what identity they have, whether it be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, nonbinary, pansexual… or from other various minority groups… or hell, even if they’re different from others in whatever way. If you love them, accept them. Love them. And maybe, things will get better. The world will get better. I hope that people, in the future, don’t have to feel so alone, so trapped, so hopeless, that they end their own lives.

Until next time,
The Writing Borb

PS: Thanks to Snitchcat who said my poetry reminded them of Dr. Seuss and Edgar Allan Poe. I love those two writers to pieces so being compared to them was an absolute honor.

Afternoon Tea with Time and Death

Date: 5th February, 2019
Edited: 6th February, 2019

Written at the Writers Cafe meetup
Prompt: Purpose

Time met Death one starry afternoon. Just two old friends coming together to chat over tea and biscuits.

“You made the biscuits too dry again,” Death complained, the crumbs falling from his long spidery dead fingers. “Did you put sand in them again?”

“The recipe called for it,” Time groused, “They’re sablé cookies.”

Sand cookies,” Death countered, throwing away the crummy cookie into the void below them, “ I don’t want your sand in my insides. Disgusting.”

“I’ll tell your mother,” Time lifted his teacup and with his pinky outstretched he jabbed it in Death’s direction threateningly.

“Mother Nature isn’t my mother. I was adopted and you know it,” Death scowled at Time, or at least if he had a face, he would be scowling.

“Semantics. We’re still your parents,” Father Time waved Death off dismissively, more sand falling from his skin and onto the mountain of cookies on the table.

No chance Death would be eating anymore of those cookies.

“Colleagues,” Death deadpanned, sipping his tea aggressively.

“Nonsense, we’re family.”

“We’re unfortunately gifted individuals stuck in the same space.”

“Now you’re just saying things,” Time picked up another biscuit delicately between two sandy fingers and held it out for Death to take. “We’ve known each other for ah… a few hundred millennia?”

Death pushed away the hand that offered the unappetising cookie, his blackened fingertips hissing upon contact and sputtering out steam up into the aether and past the stars. “We’ve known each other for forever, Time.”

“Well, there you have it!” Time was unrelenting, pushing the cookie forward into Death’s angrily hissing hand.

“No, Time.” More crumbs joined their previously fallen brethren into the unending dark abyss below.

“Just take the damned cookie, Greg.” It was Time’s turn to hiss, the sound of pissed-off snakes rising from underneath his sandy flesh.

“We don’t use that name anymore, Time!”

And there was a resounding smack! The sound echoed throughout space and beyond, reaching past the cosmos into somewhere unknown where someone somewhere out there might hear it. And as for the cookie- it fell. It fell from Time’s hand like a falling star, warm, bright and yellow, falling starkly into the darkness… becoming a smaller speck each passing nanosecond…smaller…and smaller…until it was gone.

Time withdrew.

The hissing stopped on both sides.

Death sat up straighter, assumed a more poised position, and very delicately picked up his porcelain teacup. “I have no idea why I still come to these meetings.” Death tipped back the teacup and the tea was icy cold. Just like him.

“Love needs no purpose, Greg.”

Death groaned, a pitiful exasperated sound. “Death.”

“Greg…”

Death.” His teacup hit the saucer forcefully, the sound like ice breaking under the blade of a chisel.

“De…Death,” Time continued, “We come together because of love.”

“Bull,” Death gritted out, “I’d love to set his cherubic arse on fire if I ever see him again.” Death turned away.

“No I will not allow you to do that to Love, Gre- Death,” Time sternly wagged his finger at Death.

“The humans have softened you,” Death suddenly said, still refusing to face Time, “Time has no meaning to them anymore.”

“Until you come in, Death. I have meaning as long as we’re together.”

“Moocher,” Death said accusingly, huffing cold air into the aether.

“A friend,” Time persisted, sipping the last of his cold-as-Death tea.

Death grunted and then, there was a pause. Silence between them. It didn’t last for very long.

“So…”

“So…?”

“Same time next week?” Death dusted the biscuit crumbs off his robe.

“Of course,” Time replied, “No more dry biscuits.”

“You say that every time.”

6th February, 2019
Writer’s Notes:

I wanted to try writing something fun this week. Fun and somewhat nonsensical. When I got the rather serious prompt of “purpose” I was a little bit discouraged at first but I decided to stick with it. My mind during brainstorming went up and beyond past reality and into the metaphysical and abstract and I somehow had the idea to have Time and Death’s personifications chat over tea and biscuits. Because why not? I also viewed this as an exercise of writing mostly dialogue and developing different characters on the fly. It was difficult but still, rather fun.