Story: My New Return

It’s time for a story. Most of the ideas I originally had for this turned into things that will be longer stories instead. Thankfully Azelyn came to the rescue with a writing exercise.
The prompt: Tell a dreamlike story/memory using only 50 words.

I ended up basing this story off the prompt and my memory of a piece of artwork entitled “Isolated Migration” by Justice Lowman (image below used with permission).

My New Return
Water seeps into my shoes as I take step upon step into the waves towards the shack in the middle of the sea. Glowing blue, green, and orange, the jellyfish float towards the stars, guiding my feet, my soul. Then, in the window, she appears, ready and waiting for me.

isolated-migration-by-justice-lowman

Want to use the prompt yourself? Go ahead!
I’d love to see what stories you end up with!

White Colours

The golden hues and raging reds
fill the skies before they’re dead.
A vast blank page left laying out
for everyone to see in doubt.
When light seems bright but life seems gone,
remember to look at the dawn,
where the hidden growth shines deep below the snow,
and the brown and orange give way to hope.
Just look and see the somber joy give way to happy sadness
as a new time begins and we all raise our glasses.
Take the time to see the glory of it all,
with your eyes half-masked by the cold’s call,
because the journey’s just begun,
as the silver bells are rung.
And as green takes the place of gold,
remember what you were told:
Be merry and bright.
For the time is right
for you to grow
and to let what has been hidden show.
As the whites and deep greens fade to kaleidoscopic hues,
make sure you’re the one to choose
what you’ll be and who you are.
Because you’ve already come so, so far.

My Top Three Pet Peeves

This certainly isn’t a topic I’d usually write about, by why not give it a go?

Let’s start with the lowest first, shall we?

  1. People clipping their nails in public.

I’ve never understood how people can do this. I understand wanting to even them out and trim them, but why not wait until you’re home? Okay, I know this one is a little ridiculous, but I hate the sound of it. I don’t know why, but I do. The sharp clicking and snapping that occurs as the metal pinches through the keratin makes me gag. I don’t even like hearing the sound when I’m clipping my own nails, and I can handle it far better than when I can hear others doing so. I definitely know how it feels to break a nail and to want to fix it, but you can use a file for that and shorten the others when you return to you abode. Am I right?

  1. Not following the enter and exit signs for stores and the like.

Seriously? They are clearly labeled. Very clearly labeled. Unless it’s the Walmart Neighborhood Market across the street from where I’ve been staying…then one door is marked “Entrance” with the small red “Do Not Enter” sign below it, and the other is marked “Exit” with the small green “Enter” sign underneath it. When it’s raining or you’re in a giant hurry, it can be really tempting to go in through the exit if it’s closest, but taking one or two seconds longer to enter won’t make that much of a difference. Plus, it makes it difficult for those who are (italics) following directions to get through the doors. Yet again, this is fairly silly, but there are stickers and signs everywhere.

  1. “Learn English!”

This is by far my biggest pet peeve, especially when these words are uttered by travellers. I’ve met countless Americans who only speak English that think anyone and everyone in the world should as well. When I hear people say, “This is America! Speak English!” it breaks my heart. Many of the people who are recipients of such verbal abuse do speak English, sometimes as their first language, but they are communicating with others who may not or prefer not to speak English. But also, if just going on holiday or on a brief business trip, one might not want to or be able to fully learn a new language.

When I was returning from my first stay in France, Karissa and I were in the waiting area near our gate at the Montreal airport, and we heard a group of people talking. They were clearly American and were speaking loudly about the announcements coming over the PA system.

First man: “What is that? Is that two languages?”
Woman: “I think it’s Spanish.”
First man: “No, I think it’s Italian.”
Second man: “Why on Earth would they do that?”
First man: “Don’t they realize we’re in the US of A??”
Woman: “Apparently not.”
Second man: nearly yelling “Why won’t everyone just speak English?!”

Clearly, they didn’t know we were in Canada. And even though they’d been on our flight from France, they couldn’t recognise the French language in the least bit. They continued complaining until we were boarding our flight to Chicago.

If these people had put any thought into what they were claiming (even if we hadn’t been in Canada at the time), they would have noticed their blatant hypocrisy. They were complaining about people not learning English while traveling and the like, when they had just spent time in France without learning French. This isn’t something that many Americans think about, specifically those who make these remarks, but it’s true. They wish to force foreigners to speak English, but they are not usually willing to learn the languages that are spoken in the countries to which they are traveling.

I’m on the opposite end of that spectrum, as I’ve gone a little overboard with the amount of languages I study. I’m currently studying French, Spanish, and Italian, and although I can’t speak Spanish or Italian at all, I’m certainly willing to try. I just wish others were as well.

What are your top pet peeves?

Andrew: I Love the Sound

I’m starting a blog. I’ve never done this before, but Zoe has been bugging me about it for a while. I’m not super sure of why she wants me to, because her reasoning is ridiculous. She says that one day we won’t live so close to each other anymore and that it will be the best way for us to keep in touch. I asked her what I should write about, and she just told me to write about myself and the things that happen to me. Because those things are so exciting. I managed to talk her into sending me some blog prompts though.

Oh yeah, my name is Andrew. *waves from a distance*
I work in a shop. My grandma is famous. I live in London, but I’m actually from The-Middle-of-Nowhere, Tennessee. And that is basically my entire life.

Anyway. The first prompt is “I love the sound of…”

Do I just list these?
I guess so.

  1. I love the sound of popcorn in the microwave.
  2. I love the sound of a movie on the tv.
  3. I love the sound of American bacon in the pan.
  4. I love the sound of Zoe’s laugh.

This looks really stupid…

I love the sound of:

  1. Carolers in the park.
  2. Friends knocking on my door.
  3. The pizza delivery guy knocking on my door.
  4. My best friend’s singing (she sounds awful).
  5. A filling bath.
  6. A movie in a theater.
  7. The kettle whistling (because tea!).
  8. My grandma’s weird accent (she’s half British, half American and sounds a bit like Angela Lansbury).
  9. Zoe yelling at her computer.

So yeah. I hope you all have a great day. I don’t know if I’ll ever post again.

Someone Once Told Me

I don’t have the best memory for facts, what people say, or even what I’m doing at any given moment. My memory is truly awful. I have a calendar on my phone, a bullet journal in my bag (or in my hand), to-do lists on Habitica and in notes taking up all of my phone’s memory, and screenshots of things I want to remember on my cell and my computer. But there are some things I won’t ever forget, like my friend Amelia’s laugh, the fear caused by a car accident, the feeling of a salty wind blowing across my face, or how I got so excited to make Doctor Who snowflakes and eat peppermint ice cream with Karissa that my heart problems started acting up.

There are certain things that just become a part of you, whether you want them to or not. Sometimes those are emotions, events, the feeling of something against your skin, or words someone said to you. I’ve received so many amazing compliments over the years; half of them seem pretty cliché when typed out, but they were entirely sincere and followed by very detailed and encouraging explanations. One of the best compliments I’ve ever received wasn’t really one of the best because of what was said, but because of the circumstances it was said in and how it was said.

Earlier this year, I went on holiday to London with my best friend and her brother, staying in a rather nice part of the city. Our last night there, I walked to the Italian Garden in Kensington Gardens to spend some time alone, read, and bid the beautiful park and neighbourhood goodbye. It was wonderful. The sky was cloudy; but along the horizon, the white fluffs parted, and a glorious sunset was starting to shine over the lands. Just as the sun started to paint the skies with orange, red, and purple hues, I started my way back to the hotel, my nose buried in On the Other Side as I walked down the pavement. When I made it back to our street, I glanced up to ensure I wouldn’t collide with any unsuspecting travelers as they came out of the inn and hotel doors scattered along the road. When I looked, I saw a couple and their dog about 150 yards away, gracefully walking in the direction from which I was coming.

They were decked out in gorgeous clothes and were obviously on their way to some sort of fancy event. The woman was one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen. Her mixed skin was glowing, her black hair was luxuriously bouncing in tight curls, and her lace, seafoam green dress was swirling with the wind. I read a couple sentences more, but as we approached each other, I turned and said, “I’m sorry; I love your dress!” I wasn’t even really expecting a thank you in return, but she definitely responded.

“Thank you! I’m so glad you said that; I was wanting to tell you that you’re gorgeous! I love your style! Keep wearing it. I love your clothes. You’re gorgeous!”

I couldn’t help but beam. My back straightened out, and my mouth opened in a smile that hurt my face because of its size. The confidence that had left me early that morning rushed back tenfold.

When I first got dressed, I was so excited to wear the outfit I had chosen for our final full day in England. I put on my black DeLorean tee, a brown plaid, wool skirt, my Minnie and Mickey Mouse shoes, and bright red lipstick. I knew it was a slightly odd outfit, but I really enjoy expressing my moods, interests, and personality through my clothing. However, after breakfast, I lost a lot of my excitement for the day and my anxiety started to take over. I still had a wonderful day and was in a fairly nice mood, but my self-esteem plummeted. I spent a large portion of the day worrying what others thought of my appearance, even though that is something I usually don’t care about, and I felt as if everyone was staring at me the entire day, making me incredibly uncomfortable and self-conscious.

But this astonishingly attractive and seemingly successful woman had apparently been wanting to compliment me, a rather eclectic, plain girl who had spent the majority of two days hiding in the pages of a book because she didn’t want to look into the faces surrounding her—well, and because the book was just so wonderful she never wanted to put it down. This compliment not only made me feel better about my appearance, but about my interests, my passions, and my eccentric personality. I don’t really know why, but it did. And I won’t forget it anytime soon. Because it took place in the city I long to live in, it was from a woman I could never compare to, and it was at a time that I had started to question everything about myself as a person. It reminded me that being me is a wonderful thing, and I should never sacrifice myself to meet the social standards and ideals.

What is a compliment that left a lasting impression on you? Tell me about it in the comments below!

The Tube

This is something that originally started off being a writing prompt and a writing exercise, combined. Then it turned into a scene for my novel, which I had not been expecting to happen at all. The writing prompt: write a story based in an setting you won’t like (which I took to mean as a setting in which I would hate to be in an uncomfortable situation). The exercise: place your character into an intense/uncomfortable situation. So, without further ado, I present to you a scene from my novel.
***Trigger warning*** This scene involves sexual harassment.

The Tube

I can’t believe that I’m sat on the tube in front of the two blokes who always seem to creep out most of the passengers in the same car as them. I already have to deal with sitting on a variety of uncomfortable blue and red patterned seats with smushed cushioning for over an hour, and I really don’t want to be pestered or harassed by two potentially drunken idiots for half of my commute home. Luckily, they haven’t started any ruckus yet today. Or at least not that I have noticed. I haven’t really been paying them much mind. Instead I’ve been listening to the sweet tones of jazz and belting voices of West End whilst trying to make notes on my next edit of the skit for my cousin’s school. Now that I think about it, they’ve been all too quiet. I can usually hear them over my headphones, no matter how quiet they think they are.

I slowly turn around, prepared to see them leering at me with their lips slightly curled and raising their eyebrows or torturing the woman who just got on at the last stop by pecking at her clothes or describing her physique with explicit details. But I find them vandalising the window and the seats with a marker, which isn’t as near as frustrating as usual, so I let them be. However, as I start to turn back to my notebook, one of them glances over and catches me looking. He comes over and sets his long-fingered hand on my shoulder under my hair, massaging the knots in it with the bony tips of his fingers as he starts to take my headphones off my head and slide them around my neck. My entire body stiffens and my hands clutch the notebook and pen so tightly they turn white.

He reaches with his other hand to finger my hair. “Your curls just can’t be tamed, eh? Do they take after you? Can you be tamed?” his slimy voice slithers into my ear. I tense up even more and don’t dare to say a word. “I’d love to see if you’re just as wild. You can curl around me, tangle your body with mine, fling around, be free. Just come with us; we’ll show you how crazy you can be.”

I lean forward, just enough to lessen the closeness between his chest and my back, yearning for someone to do something. But the only other person on the carriage is the woman from the last stop. I try to remember those crazy things you’re taught in those hour long self-defense seminars, but all that comes to mind is how much I want to cry, scream, and puke. I squeeze my eyes shut as tightly as I can, holding the air out of my lungs while making my mouth seem to disappear. Then the squeal of the brakes starts to sounds as the four of us lurch slightly toward the front of the train as it stops at the next station.

“Mind the gap,” I hear the automated voice say, and I look up to peer through my lashes, out the corner of my eye to see if anyone is getting on. I see a small group of people and a few lone people make their way into the carriage, but they are all either looking away or trying to ignore the slightly muscular, brown-haired man caressing my hair.

The man pushes his body against mine again and starts whispering in my ear, but I’m not comprehending anything he says anymore. I’m too full of fear.

Then I hear a different voice, and the grip on my shoulder and the fingers in my hair loosen. I feel the warmth radiating between his chest and my upper back lessen as he backs away enough to talk with the other man, but he does not let go.

I force myself to listen.

“Dude, what are you doing?”

“What? You got something to say about me and my girl?” He pretends to gently pet my curls.

“She doesn’t seem too happy about you touching her.”

“Oh, and you get a say in that? She’s my girl; I’ll do what I want, wanker.”

“I don’t think she’s anybody’s girl.”

“Do you?”

“She’s a human being. Show her some respect, and sod off.”

“You sod off! The bitch needs to show me respect.” His hand on my shoulder moves to my hair and grabs tightly as he starts gesturing at the man who got on the tube.

I wince and whimper a little, the first sounds that have escaped my throat since getting on the train.

“I don’t think you deserve respect, you tosspot, and she doesn’t want you doing that.”

“I’ll show you what she wants!” My head is pulled back sharply, and I stifle a scream as he roughly lowers his mouth towards mine. I squeeze my eyes and lips tightly shut again and wait for the disgusting slobber and scent to collide with my face. But instead, I hear the clack and crunch of a jaw slamming shut and teeth meeting teeth and feel myself yanked back more and released. Then another crunching sounds as he is hit again.

“You bastard!” I hear my molester shout with a wet voice. “I’ll get you for this!”

“You might want to get off and go on to a clinic. Your teeth and nose don’t look so hot.”

I finally turn and look at the people behind me. The man, whose scent still lingers about me, is holding a few strands of my hair in one hand and covering his face with the other, blood streaming down his face and falling to his chest and the floor. If I weren’t so scared, I would probably be laughing with joy that such a crude man has finally been accosted.

“And you. I’ll teach you to respect me.” He snaps at me, pointing his finger in my face.

“Oi. Sod off!” The other man shouts, still shaking his hand free of pain.

With his nose still dripping, the lout sulks off to join his friend. They stand glowering at the back of the carriage until the next stop, and then disembark.

“I’m so sorry that happened. I hope you’re okay.” The man says in a very American accent, now massaging his hand lightly. “I’m Adam.”

Getting in the Write Mood

Not everything that has been suggested in books and blogs about getting in the mood to write helps every person. I know I’ve tried listening to melodious music, taking wonderfully wandering walks, drink out of inspirational and creative coffee cups, and writing without withholding words. But those don’t usually spark my interest into writing. The first few just make me want to read, do art, or knit a hat. The last just frustrates me to the point of jamming my fingers onto the keys at random to see if I can create any words until I get so annoyed with the sound that I delete the two pages of garble that I left in my quake. So here are some of the tricks I’ve tested, and found to work, at least on occasion.

Go for a walk.
This is just a good idea in general. The fresh air, the sounds of the leaves being ruffled in the breeze or the cars driving down the road, the blood pumping through your veins… It can truly clear your mind and put you in a better mood. But beyond that, going for a walk can help you look at your surroundings in a new light, which could spark some writing ideas and solutions. Plus, as you probably spend a fair amount of time your computer, the vitamin-D is always a huge bonus.

Read your favourite author.
When I read certain authors, I feel inspired to write. This is a big thing for me. I’ll sit down and expect to just get lost in the story, but I’ll stand back up with my mind racing with ideas or an overwhelming excitement to create a beautiful work of art with the keys on my computer. The author whose stories and writing styles inspire me the most is Douglas Adams. His works are just so unique and wonderfully nihilistic and sassy, and he breaks so many rules about descriptive language that I can’t help but stand in awe of his writings. Not only does reading help inspire me to write, but it also helps me write in the style and voice I enjoy most. Even if I am not emulating him, perusing his tales sets my mind running with descriptions, story ideas, and excitement for creating something that might be able to bring such joy to another person some day.

Watch an inspirational video or TED talk.
I find this tends to help me most when I am wanting to write an inspirational nonfiction piece for my blog. Sometimes the videos leave me so overwhelmed with emotion, that I have to step back from the computer for a while before I do any writing, but once I sit down, I still have so much to say (not to mention slightly more organised thoughts). Occasionally though, watching such videos can actually inspire me to sit down and just write out as many words as I can in one day for a short story or my novel or several different projects.

Listen to a favourite album or soundtrack.
Music can always be a great help for focusing while trying to work, whatever the project is. However, you have to know what music distracts you and what music inspires you and helps you stay on task. I often listen to a Harry Potter playlist on Spotify. The music is shuffled, and I have to skip certain songs, otherwise my brain becomes far too nostalgic. But hearing the wonderful scores can help me set the mood of a story or sit down and write for hours.

Go on an adventure.
Doing something new or something that you’ve not done in ages can generate various ideas for stories or scenes, especially when you imagine your characters going on the same adventures. While in Europe this summer, I had the opportunity to experience more than I could have anticipated, and those experiences have given me a few story ideas or situations in which I could place my characters, like riding in a cable car, riding a boat across an underground lake, roaming palaces, and hiking atop the Alps. Story ideas and inspiration await you at the ends of your journeys.

Get dressed for the occasion.
Sometimes just getting dressed as if I’m going to the office or putting my hair up can help me feel more put-together. When I feel like that, I can usually accomplish much more than if I just wake up, roll over, and grab my computer. If I dress like it’s my job, then I’ll treat it as such. Which I should do, especially considering that I would love to write full-time some day.

There are other times, though, in which I need to change into my comfies, cuddle up in a blanket, and whip out my notebook or computer. I tend to gauge my mood and my environment and act accordingly, which tends to end up with me wearing a high-waisted skirt and a blouse and putting my hair up as best I can.

Come up with stories based off your top interest or fandom.
This may sound a bit silly. But sometimes you need a break from your planned writing topics and projects, and you just need to write for fun. I find that this can help me stop procrastinating and actually sit down with a pencil in hand or a keyboard at my fingertips and write. And once I’ve finished (or at least started) whatever bizarre topic or story I’ve decided upon, I have an even deeper desire to write. Once I get to that point, I switch to the projects I need to be working on and write as much as I can until I finish or hit a good stopping point. I tend to choose various creatures from Doctor Who or Harry Potter or my favourite animals or places. Whatever works for you, fiction or nonfiction, write about it. It may surprise you how much changing projects can help you with your current ones.

What are some of your tricks for getting into a writing mood? Let me know down below!