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Posted on 24 September 2016 07:35

I watch her cooking

Each movement precise and confident

Concentration and grace

Punctuated by joyous singing along to the radio

 

I watch her entertaining

Talking, laughing, making sure everyone’s glass is full

The perfect hostess

Queen of her domain and ruling with benevolence

 

I watch her working

The cute frown line forming between her eyebrows

Competence and efficiency

Getting things done with accuracy and flair

 

I watch her sleeping

Expression smoothed out by repose

Peaceful and beautiful

Dreaming of things just out of her reach

 

She loves me

I know she loves me

That’s why she always leaves the curtains open

So I can watch

 

XXXXX

 

[Originally written for the weekly Hour of Writes competition - first published in February 2015]

 

Posted on 31 July 2016 15:04

The slopes of your disdain rise before me
Rocks strewn about to trip me at every step

 

You say I am worthless
That I cannot stand on my own

 

You push me down as I struggle to rise
Laughing at my aspirations

 

I will climb this mountain without your help
In spite of your hindrance

 

Under the blue sky
Embraced by the independent winds

 

I will stand alone on the summit
Looking out over the vista of my triumph

 

On this mountain
I will plant my flag

 

XXXXX

 

[Originally written for the weekly Hour of Writes competition - first published in March 2015]

Posted on 31 July 2016 15:03

The lungs

Take in the air around us

And separate out life-giving oxygen

Sending it on into the blood

And releasing built-up carbon dioxide.

 

The lungs

Give us the action of breathing

A focus for meditation exercises

Providing perspective

On our privileged place in the world

 

The stomach

Takes in nourishment

And speeds it on its way throughout the body

Transforming it into those parts

That are helpful and those that are not.

 

The stomach

Reacts to images

Of injustice and cruelty in the world

Prompting us to take action

To help those who are in need.

 

The heart

Pumps all the blood

Around the vast network of veins in our body

Reaching every extremity

Keeping us going day by day.

 

The heart

Feels compassion for others

Makes us reach out to those far away from us

In corners of the world

That need warmth and love.

 

The brain

Receives vital messages

From every far-flung part of the body

Controlling each impulse

Enabling thought.

 

The brain

Reasons and analyses

Pinpointing the areas where help is most needed

Allowing us to figure out

Where best to send our aid.

 

The skin

Sheds itself constantly

In an endless cycle of renewal and regrowth

Holding everything together

Regulating heat.

 

The skin

Is a conduit

Allowing us to connect with other people

Touching their lives

Helping to make the world better.

 

These are the organs of donation.

 

XXXXX

 

[Originally written for the weekly Hour of Writes competition - first published in December 2014]

Posted on 31 July 2016 14:32

I knew when the letter came that it was all over for me.

I answered the door to a blank-faced man in an immaculate uniform.  He said my name, his voice toneless.  When I nodded, he handed me an envelope, then turned on his heel and walked away.  

His appearance and manner told me where the letter was from even before I saw the familiar logo stamped on its upper corner.  The paper felt unfamiliar in my hands; the archaic personal delivery system was designed to prevent citizens from being able to claim they had not received their letter.

I turned back to the kitchen, where my girlfriend was eating breakfast.  She looked up as I entered, her spoon pausing partway to her mouth when she saw my expression.  I held the envelope out to her, my hands trembling slightly.

“It’s from the CoLD,” I said, the words emerging in barely a whisper.

Instantly, I saw the horror I felt reflected in her eyes.  Her spoon clattered down into her breakfast bowl, forgotten.

X X X X X

It all started ten years ago.

My nation’s economy is based on deposits of a mineral found beneath the ground in an area near our northern border.  It provides the main source of fuel for our machinery, heating and light, and makes up the vast majority of our exports to other nations.

One day, the miners broke through into a network of caverns previously undiscovered.  They showed signs of manmade construction and contained relics of a bygone era, the like of which had never before been seen.  The relics were raised to the surface, and the world marvelled at such a momentous find.  An exhibition was mounted in our capital city and people flocked from many nations to see it.  Our historians studied the relics and published their findings within their community.

That was when everything started to go wrong.  Historians from our northern neighbour claimed the relics demonstrated links to their culture, and deduced that the site beneath our mines was significant to their religious history.  There was much discussion and debate, but the ultimate conclusion on all sides was that they were correct.  Long ago, the border between our two nations must have shifted, so that their historical site now falls within the land we control.

As a gesture of goodwill, our government offered to return all the recovered relics to them and to provide limited access to the site itself, but that was not enough.  They demanded a redrawing of the border so that they could reclaim the land, and therein lay a substantial problem.  Without the mines, our economy would be severely affected, and our government was not prepared to give up our main source of income to satisfy a cultural desire.

Things quickly escalated, with neither side prepared to accept any offered compromise, until, inevitably, war broke out between our two nations.

At first, the requirement for military personnel was covered by our existing forces but, as the years went by with no sign of an end to the conflict, more people were needed than volunteered.  The draft was established two years ago, a random selection process that could result in any citizen being selected to join the fight at any time.

X X X X X

I opened the envelope and carefully removed the heavy paper sheet enclosed within.  I unfolded it slowly and read the contents aloud.

“You are requested to present yourself at the nearest Council of Loyalist Defence barracks at second bell two days from acceptance of this letter.”

I raised my eyes to meet my girlfriend’s gaze once more.

I was going to war.

THE END

 

[This was my first winning entry in the weekly Hour of Writes competition - first published December 2014.

Comment from Alison Ireland, who runs the site:

"The winner provided a succinct and plausible account of a state’s movement into war, via a clever manipulation of the title."]

Posted on 26 July 2016 08:38

Bubbles rising.

Air, the stuff of life, escaping to the surface.

I remain below, searching the depths for an answer.

The water is murky, which feels appropriate, given my state of mind.  The currents swirl like my thoughts, threatening to spin me around and distract me from my purpose.

But I know the wreck is here.  All the data points to this location, a months-long investigation culminating in this dive, this moment.  I am alone, here in the darkness, a single beam of light showing me the path that lies ahead.  But that is all I need; the light, the data, the faith that I will at last find what I am looking for.

The ship went down nearly a hundred years ago, lost in a storm one night during its voyage.  A young woman was found on a not too distant shore two days later, unconscious, half-drowned, but alive and with another life growing inside her.  Nobody knew who she was, where she had been bound, or what vessel had been carrying her.

She died, but the baby lived – my grandfather – adopted into a family from a nearby village and raised as their own.

The mystery remained hidden for many years, until my father started looking into his family tree and an old woman in the village finally told the tale.  He kept it purely as a bedtime story to pass on to me, but it took hold inside me and I could not leave it alone.  I had to know – where had she come from and how had she ended up on that shore?

It drove the direction of my life, needing to solve that mystery.  I researched, I studied, I learned to dive and to survey the ocean.  I found old records of sea voyages at the time and at last tracked down the ship that was lost two days before the woman was found.

And now here I am, still searching, but so much closer than I have ever been before, perhaps about to discover what I have been burning to know my whole life.

Who was she?

Who am I?

 

XXXXX

 

[Originally written for the weekly Hour of Writes competition - my first entry, published December 2014]