Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Road Less Travelled - Write... Edit... Publish... April 2018


If you’re looking for my A-Z post click here. Though this one qualifies too (P for Prose! P for Prompt.)
  
Today it’s time to get back to Write…Edit…Publish…with our entries for the prompt -




and I'm offering this after scrapping the poem I first did weeks ago. This is directly inspired by the Frost poem, though it has absolutely nothing to do with woodland pathways or anything half as lovely. Three part flash and I'm hoping they can be read in any order and I'd value your inputs as to whether you think so or no. And due apos to the poet and all, but I can't bring myself to write travelled as traveled, drives me crazy, sorry! :)


Bullseye




And that’s made all the difference

I let myself into the kitchen. The door closes with a click that is reassuringly familiar.  I’ve known the footpath leading up to the back porch since childhood. The same diamond patterned light comes through the window grille and dapples the floor where I dropped a heavy kettle years ago and cracked the tile in a diamond pattern of its own. My mother is there - a halo of cinnamon smoke, gossamer thin cotton, steely determination and wisps of steel grey hair coming undone from her plait twisted up high on her head.

“You look like a ghost, child. Have some tea.” She still calls me child - that too is reassuring, familiar, a maternally motivated, comforting white lie.

The water has just come off the boil, the tea is fragrant but thin, I take it with double my usual measure of sugar. My hands tremble as I stir it. I need something much stronger – brandy? acid? rat poison?

She rolls out a paratha, fills it with mince – crumbly meat, it makes me shudder. She cooks it deftly and slides it in front of me.

The tremor in my fingers travels in widening circles up my arms and into my face and tongue. Inward and outward from my hands into the room and into my belly and my whole life is quivering like a blancmange inside me and out in front.

“Is everything alright?”

“Yes…N-no!” My voice sounds utterly unfamiliar, a stranger’s voice mouthing strange words, as I tell her.

She seems to shrink, then straightens and shrugs her shoulders into an invisible coat, as if she is getting a mantle of fortitude on.

“We’ll have to call the police I guess. I’m not having this insanity ruin all our lives.”

It’s ruined either way, Mama.  Wide off the mark even when it’s a bullseye.

 ~~~

Two roads diverged

The footpath to the back porch is patched with daisies and tangles of weeds choking the edges.  When Father was here he used to keep the path clear, but he’s not here anymore. Not just the path, the house itself has changed in the two seasons he’s been gone, overgrown, untidy, unkempt, less of a home. The land’s fertile, it only takes a few minutes of negligence to start some unwanted stuff sprouting up from nowhere.

The backdoor is really the front door, everyone uses it that way, the veggie vendors come here, the gasman, the visiting women from the neighbourhood, the knife-sharpening guy, the old-clothes-for-new-pots lady with her massively piled up basket of steel utensils. 

I let myself in, the door clicks shut behind me with a sound deeply familiar, going back till memory becomes just a fog. My mother is there - a halo of fried onion smoke, gossamer thin cotton, steely determination and curls of jet black hair coming undone from her plait twisted up high on her head.

“Why are you looking like a whipped ghost, child? Did you lose the championship or what?”

“No, we got the trophy.”

“Bullseye! Good job! Sit and have some tea.”

The tea is fragrant but thin, I take it with heaped spoonfuls of sugar. My hands tremble as I stir it. I need something much stronger – brandy? acid? rat poison?

“Want something to eat?”

“No! Thanks. I’m okay.”

The thought of food is nauseating. The tremor in my frozen fingers travels in widening circles up my arms and into my face and tongue. Inward and outward from my hands into the room and into my belly and life is quivering like a jelly-custard inside me and out in front. I try dredging up some courage and warmth from the pit of my stomach – nothing.

“Actually I’m not...I’m -,” my voice sounds like a stranger’s voice mouthing strange words, as I tell her. 

My eyes are locked into her smoked-amber ones, their pupils expanding wide and then contracting again to tiny black spots dead centre. Bullseye. The minute stretches like a thread of honey and snaps into two when she speaks again.

“Are you crazy, child? What have you done? You must marry, of course.”

“I've done nothing! I was forced-! And he’s going away – “

“The &^%* he is.” I have never heard her using an expletive. “I’m not raising a bastard grandkid.”

“Don’t, Mama. Don’t pressurise –“

“Shut your mouth. We’ll see who forces what. I’m not having anyone ruin your life. Get some rest now. You look wrung out.”

 ~~~

Way leads onto way

This kitchen is different – all brushed metal and polished granite, no cracked diamonds on the floor. A smart island. Antique butcher’s hooks above it, way too sharp to hang strings of garlic on. No-one comes to the backdoor here, there’s a backdoor, but no footpath around to it. The front door is less trouble. Many changes in these years – no utensil ladies, no knife-sharpening guys, you hone your own now.

I’m sharpening one - long and smooth and wickedly sharp, keen enough to slice rhino hide into juliennes - when my girl rushes in.  Her sleeve is hanging in a torn strip, there’s blood at the side of her mouth, her eyes, she’s got my mother’s eyes, the same smoky-amber ring around a jet black core, those eyes are terror-stricken. I can hear him in the corridor. I point to the key by the back door, “Go on.”

A split second after I’ve shoved her through, he is in, spanner in hand, bellowing at me. There is a smear of blood on the metal.

How many times have I faced that spanner? Lost count. But he has never hit my daughter before, the abuse has always been directed at me.

At my mother’s eyes, terrified in my daughter’s face, something has finally hardened within me to a steel-edge, into a dagger-point and I throw the knife straight and true at that bellowing throat right where the veins are bulging out in an ugly corded curve. He topples over head first towards the island but the butcher’s hook catches his cheek and he remains dangling there, swaying from side to side as blood drips onto granite.

~~~

WC - 1025
FCA


Read the other entries below -





40 comments:

  1. Oh my.
    Powerful. Evocative. And a sad truth for so many. Both the beauties contained within and the pain.
    And yes, it works as you have laid it out.

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    Replies
    1. Women have to deal with huge amounts of violence. Right round the world of course, but I'm feeling it most keenly just now in my home country.

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  2. Hari OM
    ...oh my word... leave them where they are N. Oh my...
    YAM xx

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  3. Hi Nila - those are some extraordinary tales ... so much in each of them ... and I loved the way you wove similar characteristics into each ... oh I feel for them ... and for others in similar situations ... appalling way people can be or have to endure ... thank you = so well written - Hilary

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    Replies
    1. Some women endure, others enable...thanks for being here!

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  4. Beautifully written and evocative, Nila. Ha ha about the 'traveled.' I do it, because I got sick of people correcting my spelling, LOL! But it still offends my eye.

    I love it when you delve into prose. Not that I don't adore your poetry, but you are a master/mistress (LOL) of both.

    Back to your prose in 3 acts. Hmm. I adore how it weaves and yes, it could be read in any order. The third could definitely come first, and maybe the trio would be more powerful if it did. But I love the way there's links in each. Hmm. Thin tea. More sugar.

    Will domestic violence or rape ever end? I doubt it. The third section brought to mind the little Indian girl in the news this week, captured whilst watching the cattle, gang raped and killed. Now her little friend is going to be alone, watching the cattle. Un. Be. Li. Evable.

    Thanks for taking the time to craft this shattering story for WEP.

    Denise

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    Replies
    1. There seems to be an epidemic of rape and da right now. It's scary and unnerving and compounded by governmental apathy. Disturbing!

      Will it end? I believe it can. If people against it speak up, if they hold their governments to account, if the justice systems change, it can bring about the end. We are going through a rough patch now, but 'the darkest hour is just before dawn.' I am hopeful.

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  5. I came here and found an unexpected story weaving itself around and back and forth. I will have to check and see what this is you have here. I should give you the link to my other blog. I had a knife in mine yesterday https://ruffdraftsite.wordpress.com/2018/04/15/first-star/

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    1. Thanks for the link Kristin. I'll be there directly

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  6. Ouch! Such a powerful story and so sad. I wish they got that guy (guys) much sooner, but unfortunately, the forces of good are always catching up. They are never proactive.
    Yes, the stories could be read in any order, but I like your order. The tension is rising throughout.

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    Replies
    1. I wonder why that is - why are the forces for good always reactive? and what will it take to change that?

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  7. Oh, Nila. I know I don't always comment, but I do always read. So grateful to have found you and your brilliant writing. xxx

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    1. Thanks for your support, Martha. Much appreciated.

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  8. Hi, Nila,

    Tense, dramatic, forceful. I LOVE your descriptions of your mother especially in the first. SO much can be read into her actions and description.

    The second verse, "My eyes are locked into her smoked-amber ones, their pupils expanding wide and then contracting again to tiny black spots dead centre. Bullseye. The minute stretches like a thread of honey and snaps into two when she speaks again."

    This is an AMAZING visual.

    The intensity of this trio is almost too much, but yet... sadly it's a part of our lives.

    As humans we must endure and must move on. We can't let "them" win. Strength is our only option when we are forced to deal with such tragedy.

    Truly well written and I like them in this order.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it is very much a part of my wider world and it is dispririting the levels to which it has risen.

      Thank you for the detailed feedback and your preference on the order. It is so very nice to see you at the WEP again and here.

      Delete
  9. A real surprise, Nila. I don't know why, your talent is unmatched. What can I say that hasn't been said? Excellent! Just excellent.

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    1. I have almost ventured into your territory :) but manslaughter probably not murder...and will the law allow self-defence?

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  10. Wow - an utterly simply wow! While I think the parts would indeed work in any order, I think this configuration is perfect.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading and the feedback.

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  11. Your language is very poetic. I especially like the description of the mother shrugging her shoulders into the invisible coat of courage,really great. Interesting to have three roads for the story. Was there an attack of the girl and then she and her mother are reacting to it with different outcomes. I like the relationships with all the mothers and daughters with the grand-daughter too in the last story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The first and the last are two events happening one after the other - two different kitchens, three characters, the grandmother, mother and child, with the mother common to both settings.

      The middle one is a much earlier event where the granddaughter has been conceived and the mother is being set on the path she is on towards the killing of the abusive husband.

      Delete
  12. The third section is definitely my favorite, and not just because of the violence.

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    Replies
    1. Hmmm...I'm wondering if that could be because the third lends itself to a more 'graphic' interpretation, more easily visualised storyboard? Thanks for the feedback!

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  13. Wow...the way you used the descriptions...so vivid! :-)

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  14. Each story was a visual feast for the imagination. I love the way you wove them together. Well done!!

    Donna B. McNicol|Author and Traveler
    A to Z Flash Fiction Stories | A to Z of Goldendoodles

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    1. I did imagine this flash more visually than verbally - it's heartening that aspect got through, thanks.

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  15. The structure you used here was wonderful, and the writing was so powerful. Thank you for sharing this with us!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the feedback. Pleased you liked it.

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  16. Three Roads
    Three tales
    Three people
    No one should
    Travel down

    One new life
    One young life
    One old life
    One Road They’ll
    Have to go down

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    Replies
    1. I always admire the way you do your commenting in verses!

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  17. Very dark. Excellent vengeance. Well written. Good work.

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  18. Reached her breaking point and let him have it. Knew something was up with the rat poison keep getting questioned. Nicely done indeed.

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    Replies
    1. Often women will put up with abuse themselves but reach a tipping point when it comes to a child..thanks for the feedback.

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  19. I like the order of the three stories, but I am more entranced by the second and third. I wouldn't move the order, but I might merge the first and second. The second is more powerful and leads into the third. I like this way of interpreting the challenge! A great emotional subject as well.

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    1. Thanks for the detailed feedback DG, very helpful!

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  20. Interesting and experimental, Nila. I like what you did here with the three stories.

    ReplyDelete

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