Monthly Archives: October 2016

Microcosms 43

After judging Microcosms 42 last week, it’s back to being a regular old entrant for me this time.

Not that I’m complaining, mind: it was such a fun prompt this week – an homage to Rocky Horror Picture Show, to celebrate Halloween.

I will readily admit it, back in the late 90s I used to dress up and head to George St cinemas in Sydney every Friday night to watch the regular screening/performance. I knew all the call-backs, sang along to all the songs, got to know the cast.

Good times.

Here’s my tongue-in-cheek entry to celebrate an incredibly fun movie. I managed to submit it with a few hours to spare this week! But it’s now too late for you to vote for your favourites. You should totally go read all the other entries anyway though.

The “Character” and “Activity” prompts were drawn from the lyrics to Science Fiction/Double Feature.

Give Yourself Over

Character: Bride

Activity: Coming from Space

Genre: Romance

300 words

Michael paced nervously. The clearing where they’d agreed to meet was a little more dark and remote than he would have liked – and now Rainey was late.

He checked his phone for messages and pulled up Rainey’s profile again.

Those curves, that crazy hair, that vintage pin-up style.

Yep. Worth the wait. Assuming the pictures were legit (he’d been burned before).

Suddenly a bolt of lightning struck the centre of the clearing and Michael dove to the ground. When he looked up again, Rainey was there.

He scrambled to his feet, agog.

“Michael,” she purred warmly, “I am Nellorain, agent of the Infinite Joy, and I have come to claim you as my bride.”

Michael blinked and swallowed. “Uh, what?”

She walked towards him, her sinuous body contained by a black corset and heels, her dark hair piled high upon her head, a gossamer negligee billowing behind her.

“My people study pleasure in all its forms and you have been chosen to help expand our understanding of this planet.”

Michael glanced around him, unsure how to respond.

Rainey continued. “You have no worldly commitments, no real friends, and many, many frustrated desires. Come with me and experience a bliss beyond your imagination.”

Michael slumped a little. “Wait – are you calling me a loser?”

Rainey cocked her head. “I believe that’s the vernacular, yes.” She reached out and took hold of both his hands.

A surge of pure ecstasy coursed through his veins, knocking the wind right out of him. Her voice echoed in his head.

“Will you join me willingly, Michael?”

He shivered and smiled, any doubts or hurt feelings forgotten. “Well, when you put it that way…”

Rainey beamed and turned her face to the heavens. Another lightning bolt struck the ground and the clearing was empty once more.

Craziness

There’s a lot going on in the land of Meg right now.

I’m doing fierce battle with my depression while trying to keep my kids adequately fed, watered and entertained.

I’m trying to keep the momentum going on my diet (basically calorie counting and keeping active: I’ve lost ~6kg in the last 6 months with my sneaky, it’s-not-really-a-diet-it’s-just-a-few-days-without-treats-here-and-there approach) and sporadically attending a drop-in karate class around the corner.

My husband is helping a friend start up a virtual storefront business that I will assist with admin/marketing/content writing once it takes off (which hopefully it does! Ka-CHING!).

I’ve started a partial certification in Education Support that is looking fun and promising, and I hope to be able to take the rest of the course next year so I can eventually get a casual job during school hours.

My dabbling in flash fiction is going well: not only am I judging this week’s Microcosms contest (seriously, it’s an awesome prompt this week – go enter!) but I’ve found this curated list of writing competitions and signed up to enter The Great Flash Fiction War over this weekend. First prize is $2000. Bring it!

And then the girls have two birthday parties to attend this weekend. Plus the school fair.

Oh, and I have a weird, exhausted-but-not-symptomatic head-cold thing going on.

I’m not freaking out. YOU’RE freaking out!

Anyway, none of that is the “craziness” I’m referring to.

No, the crazy part happened this evening.

Lately my youngest miss (who turned four just over a week ago…) has been asking me to stay in their room until she’s asleep. I find it draining, but considering I used to cosleep with both girls all night every night I can deal with this little bit of neediness with grace. I just play some meditation music on my phone, fire up my kindle app (set to white writing on a black background) and read in the dark while she settles next to me.

On a whim this evening I decided to start rereading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I read it towards the end of last year and found it quite inspiring, with its approach for identifying and dismantling Resistance in your life. 

Near the beginning, in the introduction, this section fell really heavily into my brain, like it was important that I paid attention this time:

Look in your own heart. Unless I’m crazy, right now a still, small voice is piping up, telling you as it has ten thousand times before, the calling that is yours and yours alone. You know it. No one has to tell you. And unless I’m crazy, you’re no closer to taking action on it than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow. You think Resistance isn’t real? Resistance will bury you.

I read shit like this All. The. Time. I love that inspirational stuff. But I generally say “Psh! Whatever. It’s all well and good if you HAVE a single, driving passion but what if you don’t? I’m passionate about everything – but nothing ever seems to be truly passionate about me…”

This time, though…

I don’t know if it was the quiet, meditative setting, or the wine I’d drunk with dinner, or the culmination of my incessant ruminating on what exactly will keep me happy at the moment (or, more precisely, what will keep the melancholic lethargy at bay) – or possibly a combination of everything – but I stopped for a moment to dwell on this passage.

I took a good look at the gaping, craggy pit that’s been squatting in my chest lately and sucking the energy out of everything. I peered inside and saw a little, brow-beaten Meg at the bottom. She’s been there before – many times – and almost feels at home there. In the past I’ve thought that the way out was through singing, or saxophone, or DJing, or writing, or working with children in some capacity.

This time when I leaned into that cavern of yearning listlessness and whispered “What will make you happy?” she stretched a hand up my spine and whispered back:

I want to be a dancer.

*record scratch*

wut?

She twirled and struck a pose.

Dancing is what makes me happy.

Holy shit.

She’s right.

I’m never happier than when I’m in a crowd on a dance floor losing myself in the music. It’s why I was a goth for so long, and why I fell into DJing: I’d go clubbing AT LEAST once a week if at all possible and dance my heart out.

I freaking HATE “exercise” with a fiery passion – but I can dance for hours on end. As a kid I avoided all sports but took several types of dance class a week, right up until puberty kicked in and I had enough of the bitchiness and competitiveness.

Last weekend reminded me of this, when I went to my 20th reunion for my old school in Dubbo. It was a super fun evening and we ended up at a nightclub. I had the weekend to myself so I got quite drunk and danced my butt off. The music was amazing, with a really skilful DJ beat-matching and mixing like a champ. It was so much fun that I almost started crying.

So now what?

I’m a frumpy mum in the country. How the heck can I use this passion to drive my life down the right path? I can feel in my bones that I’m onto something here, that I need to incorporate the freedom of dance more deeply into my life. But how?

It’s a tough one for sure.

Microcosms 41

Late to share this one, but….

*insert drumroll*

I WON THE JUDGE’S PICK!

So stoked. Had a lot happening this weekend and I miscalculated the new deadline due to the start of daylight savings here (managed to add an extra hour somehow…) so entered my story late. I found the prompt really inspiring though so I’m glad my entry was accepted – and rated so highly. 

I don’t normally dig crime as a genre, but I was reading This Book Is Full of Spiders by David Wong when the prompt was posted and had the creepy ghost/monster/child Anna in my head. It all kind of snowballed from there.

Anyway, here’s my *winning* entry for Microcosms 41. I’ll be judging next week so please go enter and give me a bunch of amazing stories to read!

Inspiration or Title: Sweets from a Stranger [I made this my title]

Genre: Crime

279 words

Clyde shivered and blew into his cupped hands. The basement was icy and dank, reeking of cat piss. And sadness. 

Still, all his good leads had dried up. And all his less good leads. Now he was onto wild notions and speculation. The Smithy family had once stored belongings here with a friend, two years before their mysterious disappearance. The friend had sold the place to developers a few months later (“It was always so damp and depressing! I couldn’t handle it.”) and it had sat empty and neglected ever since.

He opened the door that lead to the alleyway outside, seeking out fresh air but finding only refuse. A young girl skipped around the corner and froze when she saw him.

“Hey Mister,” she said, “what are you doing in the bad house?”

Clyde snorted. “I was just wondering that myself!” He walked toward her and pulled a mint from his pocket. “Would you like a lolly, young..?”

“Lucinda,” she responded, snatching the sweet from his hand.

He smiled. “Why do you call it ‘the bad house?'”

She flinched. “Because the bad man waits for the children. He poisons their toys and whisks them away!”

At the sound of footsteps Clyde started and turned to see his partner, Keats, in the doorway. “You okay out here Clyde?”

“Sure. I’m just chatting with Lucinda here.”

“Who?”

Clyde turned back. There was no sign of the girl besides a stray mint wrapper cavorting in the breeze.

He shivered again.

“Boss?”

“I’m fine, Keats. I want a detailed history of this property, and a chemical analysis done on the Smithy kids’ toys. I have a feeling there’s life in this case yet.”

Microcosms 39

I haven’t done much writing for the last few weeks but managed to just scrape it in for this week’s Microcosms contest. Do go read the entries and vote for your favourites – and make sure you sign up for email notifications (or follow them on Twitter @MicrocosmsFic) if you want in on it yourself.

My entry this week:

293 words

Character: Linguist

Attribute: Giant

Genre: Science Fiction

A Giant Among Bugs

“Get outta here, kid!”

Daniel scurried out of the way before the burly kitchen-hand’s boot could make contact. He bolted from the dumpster, clutching his prize to his chest: a loaf this big could feed the colony for a week.

At the end of the alley he paused, getting his bearings. Artura Prime was a chaotic city. It was built for the big shots, riding high on their beasts or zooming through the sky on monorails. A small kid like Daniel was easily ignored.

Finding his way underground, he went straight to the central cave. At Daniel’s appearance, a soft squeal of joy rippled through the gathered crowd of critters and they swarmed him, covering his hand with tiny kisses as they each took a crumb of bread.

He smiled.

When he first stumbled upon them he’d been afraid: the horror stories told about the fauna native to this planet ringing loudly in his ears. But they’d shown him compassion, fed and comforted him, embraced him and taught him their ways.

He’d always had a knack for languages and found their communication methods easy to pick up. They were clearly angry that their home above had been colonised by aliens, but felt helpless to stop them.

Daniel understood how that felt.

He promised to help, although he had no idea how. The critters didn’t mind though. It was the first time they’d experienced hope in generations and for now that was enough.

Daniel settled down with his friends. They snuggled up to him, trilling contentment, and he let out a happy sigh. Up there he was nothing, just a dumb kid to be kicked and ignored. Down here? He felt bigger than the cave.

A hero in waiting, destined for great things.