My patterns

Another slightly sinister response to a straightforward free-writing prompt! The language doesn’t quite fit, but I think this may be the younger version of Layla from Cloud Dancing.


My patterns are pretty. They are sometimes very tidy, and they are sometimes very messy, and they are sometimes in between, but they are always just right. Patterns aren’t something I make out of my head, they are already there, in the stuff I make them from.

I have made patterns out of feathers, shells, stones, little twigs, bits of straw, soil, ice (I poked holes in a puddle with a stick but a big bit cracked at the end so it wasn’t a pattern any more). I have made patterns from cloth and ribbons and teeth and bones. I like to make the patterns from bones best, but I don’t often have bones to play with. Bones are rough and smooth and straight and knobbly at the same time. You can wash bones to get the green stuff off them, or you can scrape them to get the pink or brown stuff off them, but I’m not allowed to use a knife any more, not since Mummy went away. So Daddy lets me scrape bones with a piece of stone, if we find bones with pink or brown stuff on them. I keep the stone in my treasure box.

My treasure box is square on two sides and rectangular on four sides. It has six sides in total. My treasure box used to be Mummy’s and it’s got all my best things in it, my scraping stone and three big seashells and some blue sea glass and a little bit of blue and white pottery and the ring that Mummy used to have on her finger. It’s a gold ring and Daddy says that one day I’ll be a big girl and I’ll want to wear it like Mummy did, but I’m not sure that’s true. Mummy cried a lot, even before she went away, and she used to shout at Daddy too. “King retard”, she used to shout at Daddy.

I think Daddy would look nice in a crown. When I get older I’ll make Daddy a crown, maybe from bones if I can’t find bits of metal pretty enough. Because Daddy loves my patterns.

In the village

I remember seeing this prompt and wondering whether to make this piece a follow up to Cloud Dancing (I was rather taken with the character of Layla in that one and I’m pretty sure she’s going to come back at some point). But in the end I went for something a bit more non-fictiony. Thinking about it, I suppose this is, once again, a comment on the stupidity of Brexit.


It’s barely a hamlet; three large roundhouses and a collection of smaller buildings of various types – granaries, a shelter for the pigs and another for the goats although they keep eating it and it makes a lot of extra work. But a sickly goat is an unhappy goat, and unhappy goats give little milk. So they rebuild it every time, and the goats look at them sideways with their strange eyes and both parties know who’s going to win.

It smells of woodsmoke and tanning leather and baked pottery and animal and human dung and food. And sometimes something sharper, like mead or beer.

There are sounds of contentment and minor squabbles and effort from both the human and animal inhabitants, and beyond them the birds and the wind in the trees. It’s not a bad place to live, on the whole.

***

It’s a smallish village, 20 houses around a green and a collection of larger buildings of various types – barns, the church, the inn, the manor house. The lord’s not a bad sort, really – he keeps the peace with an even hand and make sure everyone’s alright, organising things so that widows and orphans find food and shelter and self-respect, and if possible another man to take them on. Because the women work hard and look after the children, but it takes a man to run a holding so he can pay his tithe to his lord.

It smells of woodsmoke and horses and human and animal manure, and on Sundays the incense from the church and every day of good bread baking and the iron being shaped in the smithy.

There are sounds of contentment and minor squabbles and effort from both the human and animal inhabitants, and the tolling of the bell, and beyond that the birds and the wind in the trees. It’s not a bad place to live, on the whole.

***

It’s a big village, almost a small town. Around the old village centre with the church and the green and the pub there are red brick houses from the 18th and 19th centuries, solid characterful dwellings with moss-grown walls and pretty gardens. And beyond them there are the newer houses; poor, cramped things on winding cul-de-sacs infested by cars and with red block paving and trampolines instead of gardens.

Nobody really works in the village any more – there used to be a school, but that shut down years ago and the post office went the same way last September. The church is inhabited by a glass designer from Cambridge who sells his work direct to galleries in London, and nobody from the village has been inside since he moved in five years ago.

It smells of car exhaust and fabric softener and fertiliser.

All you can hear, all day and for much of the night, is cars. They creep along the narrow country roads like turtles, rounded and shiny and completely unsuited to their environment. Most of the trees have long since been cut down to make space for intensive farming, and the birds went with them. It’s like hell on Earth, on the whole.

If blog posts were buses

Since I posted the other day, I’ve received several comments to the extent that I should write more. Which, of course, I know. And when I started looking through the notebook I’ve been using for Tim Clare’s Weekly Writing Workout, it turned out that I’ve actually done more of the prompts than I thought.

So my first intention was to post the results, to try to encourage myself to do more. And I’m still going to do that. But it turns out that I never posted the results of the last writing prompt thing I did, which was a prompt a day for a month (no link to this one because it no longer exists!).

These are all 15 minute things, written longhand – and, as always, I’m amazed at the stuff that comes, fully formed, from my head when I just sit down and actually write. Where does it all come from? Years of life experience, I suppose. Although in this case a lot of them turned out rather macabre. I’ve noticed before that the shorter my fiction, the more likely it is that somebody’s about to die messily. Personally I blame reading too many Misty comics when I was a kid.

There are also a few that link up, using recurring characters or settings. And I guess that in itself is a reason for writing more of these short pieces.

Anyway, I’m going to post these as and when I remember, over the next month or so.

Not only an appropriate image, but also, if you click here, a really good explanation of why it happens…