Flash Fiction – We stand together

Image © J Hardy Carroll

 

My feet crunch on broken glass, tears rising quickly.

‘Why…’ I begin, but the choke in my throat holds back the rest of my words.

Afternoon sunshine streams through the window, the upended tables and chairs brushed bronze, shards of glass glint gold.

The air is heavy with dust. With loss. But underneath there is something else. Love. We fall silently into our roles, a human chain, stronger together, clearing out the rubble. At first I think nothing is salvageable but then I realise there is. Amongst the splinters of wood, the twisted metal, it is there. A tiny kernel of hope.

We stand together.

 

‘We stand together’ was written for Friday Fictioneers. A weekly 100 word story challenge inspired by a photo prompt. This week’s prompt is topical as we all try to make sense of the senseless. My heartfelt condolences for everyone affected by the atrocities in Manchester.

Join in with the challenge over at host Rochelle’s blog here.

F**K You Cancer – A tribute to my beautiful friend

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The world has lost a bright light and I have lost my beautiful friend Sara, and already I miss her enormously. Cancer is something that is often spoken about in hushed tones, almost as though if you don’t say the word aloud it can’t touch you but it can. It does. It will. Is there anyone who hasn’t had a friend, a family member brush against this disease? Sometimes it seems not, but knowing that doesn’t make it easier to understand. It doesn’t make it easier to bear.

It’s hard to know what to feel right now. What to do. Who to be. And so I write. Sitting at my desk. A framed quote from Sara hangs on my wall. Something she sent to cheer me up a few months ago. Even with her life drawing to a close she thought of others. She thought of me. It always makes me laugh when I read it. Today it makes me cry and I know that she would hate that.

Next to her quote I have a corkboard packed full of photos of my family and my heart aches as I think of the children she will never now have. The places she will never see. And yet I have never quite known anyone as surrounded by love as she was. Enriching the lives of everybody she met. Always looking on the bright side. Never losing hope. A fighter til the end.

For the past seven years Sara has made me laugh and despite her circumstances that didn’t change. Until very recently we’d still Skype, laughing as we remembered times past, mutual friends and perhaps remembering the most important lesson of all.

“The world’s so beautiful.” Sara said and since then, no matter how busy I am, I make sure I look for the beauty in every day.

It’s been such a privilege to know you.

Goodbye gorgeous girl.

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How? A Mother’s Tale.

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How can I love you more?

I gazed in wonder at your ten tiny fingers, your ten tiny toes and I knew that I was hopelessly, irrevocably lost.

How can I love you more?

Your first smile made my heart swell, your first illness sliced me to the core.

How can I love you more?

The memory of your first day at school etched forever on my mind as your tiny hand slipped from mine and you took the first faltering steps towards independence.

How can I love you more?

Standing tall, and proud on your first day at work, no longer a boy but a man.

How can I love you more?

It is incomprehensible that I could and yet with every second, every minute, every hour, I do.

 

This post was written for the Saturday Streams of Consciousness challenge hosted by Linda G. Hill. Write the first thing that comes to mind following a prompt and post. No editing allowed. This week’s prompt was ‘begin your post with how.’

50 Happy Things 2016: Bloggers flood the internet with gratitude

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When Dawn Landau invited me to take part in a gratitude blog party last year I didn’t need any encouragement to say yes, and I can’t believe the year has flown by and it’s time to do it again. I’ve kept a gratitude journal for years now and it really has transformed the way I think. It can be hard some days of course to find something to be grateful for – life has a habit of knocking us down – but once we start feeling grateful, it’s like rolling a giant snowball. That warm fuzzy feeling gets bigger and bigger until it becomes part of our automatic thinking. For tips to start your own gratitude journal read this. To join in with the blog party following the instructions at the bottom of the page.

  1. Water – I never cease to feel humbled when I turn the tap on and fresh water runs.
  1. My children – No matter how bad things seem, they always make me smile.
  1. My husband – A great support, I’ve lost count of the number of times he’s stepped up and fed everyone when I wanted to write ‘just one more page.’
  1. Bed – I have a bad back and it’s lovely to sleep in comfort; so many don’t.
  1. Healthcare – Say what you will about the NHS I feel fortunate to have received the healthcare I have.
  1. Clothes – Clothes for luxury, for fashion – how lucky am I?
  1. Food – I do love to eat. I can’t imagine feeling hungry everyday.
  1. Climate – The UK weather is unpredictable but it allows me to grow fruit and vegetables.
  1. Electricity – Making life easier in so many ways.
  1. Books – Whether for learning or pure escapism I always support my local bookstore and library.
  1. Mistakes I’ve made and leant from – there have been many.
  1. Inventors – It blows me away to think how hard life would be without so many of the things we take for granted.
  1. Scientists – Those who work tirelessly to cure diseases and make the world a better place.
  1. Volunteers – It warms me to hear stories of volunteers, whether close to home or abroad.
  1. Kindness – A simple act of kindness really changes my day – I pay it forward when I can.
  2. Sun – As well as sustaining life, doesn’t it make you feel good to see the sunshine?
  1. Friends – Always ready to listen.
  1. Finding a publisher to take a chance on a new author and realising my dream of becoming published.
  1. Mindfulness – Learning this really did change my life. So grateful to my mentor.
  1. A garden – I love to be outside.
  1. Light – Reading by candlelight wouldn’t be fun – I’d probably set light to my book!
  1. A large dining table to seat my family around.
  1. Time – It’s a luxury and I carve out some for myself everyday. 10 minutes at least of doing something just for me.
  1. Car – I’d feel so isolated if I couldn’t drive.
  1. Music – Live gigs, cds, vinyl – I love it all.
  1. Piano – I love to play even though my neighbours probably have their fingers in their ears.
  1. Postal service – I’m just as likely to write a friend a letter rather than an email and receiving one back is warming.
  1. Photos – So lovely to look back on – how did my children grow so quick?
  1. Laughter – An essential part of my day.
  1. Movies – Pure escapism.
  1. Memories – Thinking of something that makes me smile.
  1. Nature – I adore the countryside. The space. The air. The stillness.
  1. My cat – He comes home every 30 minutes for a cuddle before going out again.
  1. Money – I don’t have a lot, but I’m fortunate to get by.
  1. A smile – As well as making others happy it gives a real good feeling to work those facial muscles.
  1. A home – A place to hang my hat.
  1. My dog – My spaniel is ridiculously happy – all the time.
  1. All the incredible book bloggers, reviewers and readers I have met this year, both on-line and off-line and other authors for offering their support.
  1. Education – I’m so grateful for the opportunities we have in the UK, the qualifications my son has gained this year.
  1. My debut novel, The Sister, reaching No.1 both in the UK chart and internationally was incredible!
  1. Medicine – Diseases that would have killed us can now be treated – amazing.
  1. My recently released second novel, The Gift for receiving phenomenal reviews.
  1. Wildlife – I’m animal crazy. Love to feed the birds.
  1. Colour – It just makes you feel, doesn’t it?
  1. A kitchen – A place to cook, to hang out and to nourish.
  1. A hug – Nothing seems quite so bad afterwards.
  1. Shoes – When I think of those trekking for miles barefoot for food and water…
  1. Hope – ‘It’ll be ok in the end, if it isn’t ok, it isn’t the end.’
  1. Doing something I love for a living.
  1. Love – Where would we be without it?

 

If you’d like to join in, here’s how it works: set a timer for 15 minutes; timing this is critical. Once you start the timer, start your list. The goal is to write 50 things that made you happy in 2016, or 50 thing that you feel grateful for. The idea is to not think too hard; just write what comes to mind in the time allotted. You may find that if you use numbered mode, and just type what comes to mind, like me you will have enough time for more than 50. When the timer’s done, stop writing. Finish whatever sentence you’re on, but don’t add more. If you haven’t written 50 things, that’s ok. If you have more than 50 things and still have time, keep writing; you can’t feel too happy or too grateful!

To join us for this project: 1) Write your post and publish it (please copy and paste these instructions into your post) 2) Click here. 3) That will take you to another window, where you can past the URL to your post. (folks have trouble with this, but it’s not that hard. 4)Follow the prompts, and your post will be added to the Blog Party List. Please note: the InLinkz will expire on January 3, 2017. After that date, no blogs can be added. Scan to the bottom of this post to find the inlinkz.

50 Happy Things for 2015: Bloggers Unite in Flood of Gratitude

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When Dawn Landau invited me to take part in a gratitude blog party I didn’t need any encouragement to say yes. I’ve kept a gratitude journal for years now and it really has transformed the way I think. It can be hard some days of course to find something to be grateful for – life has a habit of knocking us down – but once we start feeling grateful, it’s like rolling a giant snowball. That warm fuzzy feeling gets bigger and bigger until it becomes part of our automatic thinking. For tips to start your own gratitude journal read this. To join in with the blog party following the instructions at the bottom of the page.

 

  1. Water – I never cease to feel humbled when I turn the tap on and fresh water runs.
  2. My children – No matter how bad things seem, they always make me smile.
  3. My husband – A great support, I’ve lost count of the number of times he’s stepped up and fed everyone when I wanted to write ‘just one more page.’
  4. Bed – I have a bad back and it’s lovely to sleep in comfort; so many don’t.
  5. Healthcare – Say what you will about the NHS I feel fortunate to have received the healthcare I have.
  6. Clothes – Clothes for luxury, for fashion – how lucky am I?
  7. Food – I do love to eat. I can’t imagine feeling hungry everyday.
  8. Climate – The UK weather is unpredictable but it allows me to grow fruit and vegetables.
  9. Electricity – Making life easier in so many ways.
  10. Books – Whether for learning or pure escapism I always support my local bookstore and library.
  11. Mistakes I’ve made and leant from – there have been many.
  12. Inventors – It blows me away to think how hard life would be without so many of the things we take for granted.
  13. Scientists – Those who work tirelessly to cure diseases and make the world a better place.
  14. Volunteers – It warms me to hear stories of volunteers, whether close to home or abroad.
  15. Kindness – A simple act of kindness really changes my day – I pay it forward when I can.
  16. Sun – As well as sustaining life, doesn’t it make you feel good to see the sunshine?
  17. Friends – Always ready to listen.
  18. Emergency services – Where would we be without our emergency response.
  19. Mindfulness – Learning this really did change my life. So grateful to my mentor.
  20. A garden – I love to be outside.
  21. Light – Reading by candlelight wouldn’t be fun – I’d probably set light to my book!
  22. Authors – It takes a crazy amount of time to create a book and I’m grateful to those that do.
  23. Time – It’s a luxury and I carve out some for myself everyday. 10 minutes at least of doing something just for me.
  24. Car – I’d feel so isolated if I couldn’t drive.
  25. Music – Live gigs, cds, vinyl – I love it all.
  26. Piano – I love to play even though my neighbours probably have their fingers in their ears.
  27. Postal service – I’m just as likely to write a friend a letter rather than an email and receiving one back is warming.
  28. Photos – So lovely to look back on – how did my children grow so quick?
  29. Laughter – An essential part of my day.
  30. Movies – Pure escapism.
  31. Memories – Thinking of something that makes me smile.
  32. Nature – I adore the countryside. The space. The air. The stillness.
  33. My cat – He comes home every 30 minutes for a cuddle before going out again.
  34. Money – I don’t have a lot, but I’m fortunate to get by.
  35. A smile – As well as making others happy it gives a real good feeling to work those facial muscles.
  36. A home – A place to hang my hat.
  37. My dog – My spaniel is ridiculously happy – all the time.
  38. Seeds – I can grow flowers, vegetables, I’ve even planted a tree or two.
  39. Education – I’m so grateful for the opportunities we have in the UK, the qualifications my son has gained this year.
  40. Spiritual gurus – The teachings of others have really improved my life.
  41. Medicine – Diseases that would have killed us can now be treated – amazing.
  42. Complementary health – It’s great to have a choice.
  43. Wildlife – I’m animal crazy. Love to feed the birds.
  44. Colour – It just makes you feel, doesn’t it?
  45. A kitchen – A place to cook, to hang out and to nourish.
  46. A hug – Nothing seems quite so bad afterwards.
  47. Shoes – When I think of those trekking for miles barefoot for food and water…
  48. Hope – ‘It’ll be ok in the end, if it isn’t ok, it isn’t the end.’
  49. The blogging community – You guys gave me the confidence to write a novel.
  50. Love – Where would we be without it?

 

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If you’d like to join in, here’s how it works: set a timer for 10 minutes; timing this is critical. Once you start the timer, start your list. The goal is to write 50 things that made you happy in 2015, or 50 thing that you feel grateful for. The idea is to not think too hard; write what comes to mind in the time allotted. When the timer’s done, stop writing. If you haven’t written 50 things, that’s ok. If you have more than 50 things and still have time, keep writing; you can’t feel too happy or too grateful! 

To join the bloggers who have come together for this project: 1) Write your post and publish it (please copy and paste the instructions from this post, into yours) 2) Click here3) That will take you to another window, where you can past the URL to your post. 4) Follow the prompts, and your post will be added to the Blog Party List.

Please note that only blog posts that include a list of 50 (or an attempt to write 50) things that made you feel Happy or 50 things that you are Grateful for, will be included. Please don’t add a link to a post that isn’t part of this exercise.

The kindness of strangers

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“You have two hands, one to help yourself, one to help others.”

Anyone who knows me, or reads my Happy Starfish blog, understands I get more than a teensy bit excited when I hear of pay it forward stories.

Yesterday I was a recipient of a random act of kindness which instilled such a warm and fuzzy feeling, it hasn’t worn off yet. Following my post stating my intention to want to write a novel I was touched to receive a gift of three books on novel writing, via amazon , from a fellow blogger. This was accompanied by a lovely note wishing me luck.

I don’t know this blogger (who wishes to remain anonymous), and living on the other side of the world I am unlikely to ever meet them, but am so grateful of their encouragement.

It would be easy to paint a bleak view of our world today, hate, crime and war appear to be everywhere. Many of us live in fear, stress and uncertainty, our anxieties fuelled by the media and drip fed with every bad news story circulated.  We can make a difference. We can create our own good news stories. I blogged last year about a kindness book we have in our kitchen to encourage our children to be mindful of things they can do for others, and there is always something we can do for others, however small.

Kindness is contagious – be a carrier.

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The one I’ve been waiting for

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You come to me in my dreams; I don’t see you but I feel you, touching my face, whispering the things I need to hear.  You make my heart race and my soul shine.  I feel I could be happy.  I don’t deserve to be happy. You calm the inner turmoil bringing the tranquillity I have been craving but have been unable to obtain.  Who are you?

I desperately search for you everywhere I go.  I want my dreams to become a reality and yet apprehensive that if they do I would disappoint you the way I’ve always disappointed myself. Where are you?

I feel you know me and yet how can you know me and still want me?  Still be here? I hover from peacefulness in your presence to panic that I cannot be who you think I am.  Who do you think I am?

I want to tell you everything and nothing.  I wish you could crawl inside me and feel what I feel. I long for you to just know without the need for explanations and recriminations.  Do you think I am so benevolent? What if I’m not?  What if I’m not who you think I am?    Who am I?

Do you look at me and see something good?  I really want to be the girl you see.  For her to exist would be like scrubbing out the dark side of me and filling it with light, a thousand dancing angels spreading joy and love.  I am tainted and you are too late to be my salvation.  Redemption is not always deserved and anyway I have done little to earn it.  What do you expect from me?

Last night I again felt your soft touch on my cheek bringing comfort where there was fear, calm where there was anger, making me the person I want to be.  I need you.  Do you need me?

I reach out for you, I want to touch you, to feel you, to be you.  I love you. Do you love me?

The bright light disappears and you come into focus.  I find myself staring into my own eyes.  Confusion fades as realisation dawns.  I had got so scared to feel, so shut off to my own existence that I lost sight of who I really am.  I had the light within me all the time I just needed, to forgive myself, to love myself.  I accept I am good enough.  I am enough.

I am filled with knowing, the understanding that the one whose love, acceptance and kindness I need is me. I am the one I have been waiting for. Overwhelming feelings of love wash over me and I can feel my body filling with an inner peace as my negativity and self-loathing quietly slip away.

I awake.  I can feel. I am home.  I am whole.