Alone Amongst the Beasts

It was big enough for a grizzly but not the right shape. Too wide for a deer and not well enough defined to be a cougar. There was no frosting on the mud – whatever had made the tracks was close. Travis blew into his hands and shouldered his shotgun. Only a pale grey glow was left lingering above the treeline, the remnant of a sun long-set. He began to trudge up the forest trail again, breath clouding over his shoulder in the cold air. Continue reading “Alone Amongst the Beasts”

Shiver

On days like this I struggle to believe it happened. It did, though – right here on this beach.

Ankle-high rollers curl in over the pebbles, just a trace of foam on the forerunners as they lazily reach up the brown sand. It’s flat calm as far as the eye can see, with matted grey clouds reflected back up towards the sky.

As changeable as the sea, they say. If only that were true. Since you were taken from me one spring morning I’ve tried to follow, I really have. I’ve waded out from our private little beach, out as far as you did that day. The undertow signs promise much but deliver little. I haven’t felt so much as a tickle around my ankles when I’ve stood waist deep out there.

I could weight myself down of course, be dragged beneath the waves as Virginia Woolf was. That seems too serene though, not at all like your experience. I want to fight the tow the same way that you did. I want to hear the pebbles rattle and shift underneath me, to see the sun’s rays slant down through the sediment-heavy water as I strain for the surface.

No such luck today. The saltwater laps gently around my chest, languidly stirred into movement by the limpest of winds. It’s not even chilly.

I shiver nonetheless. A man who has experienced shipwreck shudders at even a calm sea. They say that, too.

 

***Thanks for reading folks. Any comments much appreciated!***

Polishing the Pebble: Editing

Call me masochistic, call me an oddball, but I love editing. Perhaps it’s my long-missed vocation as a substitute English teacher talking, but if I can’t look at a piece of raw writing and make it better then I might as well take up watercolours or piano.

This is where the art of writing really begins for me. Due to the aforementioned masochistic streak, I keep all of my drafts upstairs in a filing cabinet. Just occasionally I’ll dig out the first draft of a piece like ‘Tagged’ and, once I’ve finished shuddering at the raw product, I’ll marvel at just how much it has changed from its original form. For me, a first draft is a chunk of stone hewn from a rockface. When editing, it’s time to park the plant equipment and bring out the hand chisel. Here are a few tips that I’ve found useful when adapting my first draft…

Continue reading “Polishing the Pebble: Editing”

Out of Sight…

First down was the family goldfish. Flaccid and limp-finned, it had been surreptitiously slipped down the plughole as Sean’s daughter slept, shortly to be replaced by Goldie Mark II. Sean was aware that protocol demanded that the long-serving Goldie Mark I be flushed down the toilet with full military honours, but the en-suite was a chemical toilet and dissolving a family pet in what was essentially a pit of bleach felt a bit…premeditated.

When it came to the disposal, there was remarkably little fuss. Goldie did a couple of laps of the sink before finding his eternal rest and…was it Sean’s tired eyes playing tricks on him, or had the plughole widened ever so slightly in anticipation of its feast? Pulling the light chord, he went back to bed. Continue reading “Out of Sight…”