Beautiful Creatures

Continuing my celebration of Monday good things…

I took this photo at work.  We have a tropical butterfly event on at the moment, and I saw this one just sitting on a flower with its tongue out. I think it may have got drunk on the nectar.

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And below are some pictures of the butterfly pupae after we stuck them onto canes, ready to go into the puparium to hatch. Some look like leaves in order to hide from predators. Sometimes I find the butterflies can be annoying, smelly and a bit icky; so it’s good to remember that they are also beautiful and fascinating.

 

Please tell me about a good thing on your Monday, no matter how small.

 

D. Bayer’s Blog: Toons and Little Worm

If you are looking for an intense story to take you out of your life for a little while, try this. It’s by D. Bayer, and about a child starting out in a hopeless situation and how she survives, and a father doing his best despite the odds. I’m not usually affected by sad tales, but this is gripping and heartfelt and it deserves to be read.

 

Here’s the first paragraph:

The way the story was passed down to me, when I was born I weighed four pounds seven ounces and was addicted to heroin. My mother gave birth in a crackhouse on Bedford, but it wasn’t clear if she went into labor while shooting up or if she just crawled into the first place she could find once her water broke. A junkie ran out and got a cop, and the fiends and chickenheads all cleared out while the ambulance crew tried to muscle in past them.

I’m not sure how to do the reblog thing, so here’s a link:

Toons and Little Worm

Facebook Blues

Sarah was content before she joined Facebook.

She had been popular at school. She had glided through the corridors with her good looks and quick wit. She saw it as her duty to enlighten the lesser beings (the nerds, the weirdos, the ugly) of their place in the world, beneath her. She had been so successful at growing up, that it never occurred to her to move out from her home town and seek further approval; she simply was great, so why try? She’d always assumed that those nerds, weirdos and uglies would still be impressed.

Then she joined Facebook, and discovered those same hapless beings were running companies or living in far off lands. One was even a model. She had been happy imagining how sad and sorry they all were, but instead she could see their photos of glamour and adventure, and excited posts of achievement and popularity. And she had nothing to post. She went to work at the hairdressers, she went home and watched X Factor, she went to the supermarket.

“I think you’re either good at being a child or good at being an adult,” posted one ex-dweeb, all her pimples gone. The accompanying selfie showed her drinking cocktails in an exclusive club in London. “And now I’m a surgeon in Harley Street, it makes all the  bullying worthwhile. But it seems like all the cool kids are now just stuck in the same town in crappy jobs, pretty sad really.” The post got two hundred likes and thirty comments agreeing. Sarah was incensed.

So she set out to prove them all wrong. She spent two days plotting and shopping. She travelled to London and scoured the streets. She sweet talked every good-looking stranger. She wore her credit card down to a stub. And then she unleashed the new Sarah onto Facebook. Careful not to show all the evidence of her sparkly new life all at once, just a few details at a time.

Monday: The picture on Sarah’s Facebook page showed a pair of men’s shoes by the door “Oops, looks like I did it again #YOLO”. She had bought the shoes in Shoezone, they were accepting returns.

Tuesday: picture showed a Ferrari with the number plate SRH 2. “Guess who’s got a new car!” She had wandered around Chelsea for three hours looking for a car to pose with. She had to balance just above the bonnet so as not to set off the alarm.

Wednesday: picture showed Sarah grinning in a selfie with a barman, “Time for a little drinkie.” The little drinkie cost a day’s wages. She had tried to get a few of the other patrons to join her for a photo, but they had backed away from her.

Thursday: picture showed Sarah with a horse, nose to nose, “My own Ferdinand, looking gorgeous as always.” She hadn’t been able to get on the horse, and it had taken many attempts before Dobson (the horse was not called Ferdinand) allowed her near him.

Friday: ten pictures, all showing her new haircut from a different angle. The haircut was real.

Her newly added friends liked and commented, with gushing praise for her glamourous lifestyle. Sarah felt such a high, riding on the crest of praise, she didn’t even think about how she might maintain proof of her glamourous existence. Every time she logged on (thirteen times in one hour) there was someone else giving her the validation she craved, that she deserved; even if the reason they were giving it was not the reason she deserved it.

“Oh you have a horse! He’s beautiful!”

“Love the hair, honey.”

“Yolo! LOL!”

Saturday morning, she opened up Facebook with glee, and with eyes still blurry from sleep. She clicked on a PM and felt her stomach drop as dread took over. Her one true nemesis was on Facebook, the worst gossip she knew. The only one that could unravel her web of lies.

“Sarah! Wonderful that you’re on Facebook finally, but what’s all this about a horse? And men’s shoes? I’ll call you later, love mum.”

You’ll never guess what…

I’ve been keeping this quiet because I didn’t really believe it would happen, but now it looks like it is and it seems daft not to share it with you lovely people.

So, here goes: I’m getting a novel published and just received the proof copy. I mean, Fucking heck!

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My book

It’s being published by Dr Cicero Books, a publisher in New York. You see I wrote it many years ago, put it online, and lovely chap and successful writer Carey Harrison found it.

He was teaching writing at New York University and was with a student and talking about the word ‘discandy’. He Googled the word, which appears in my book, but not in many other places online. So he found the book, read it and loved it; then contacted me through the website.

We exchanged emails for a while. He’s lived an incredible life and is still having adventures across the world. At the time I was seriously ill and could barely leave my bed, so communicating with him brought some excitement into my life. Then we lost contact.

Seven years later, my life was fairly sorted. I was more or less healthy and working, but all my energy was going into the job, and I had that pointlessness malaise that I tend to get when not writing. Then an email from him pinged up, saying that he’d set up a publishing company and could he publish my book?

Since then I’ve thrown myself back into writing, and it has felt like a flood of joy like it always does. I’ve written another novel. I’ve started this blog (been going for a year now). And now my first book is going to be published.

I’m a bit staggered about it all.

The book, Riddled with Senses, is about a seventeen year old who’s an angry, drug-taking cynic, hellbent on self destruction. She meets and falls in love with a girl who’s an outcast, living by her wits and creating imaginary worlds for herself. It’s about what happens when two very different worlds collide.

Anyway, I just wanted to share that. I’ll keep you posted on what happens as it happens.

 

 

Writing Challenge

I always read the ideas on Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie but never get round to doing them in time, so today I’ve pulled my finger out so I can play the game (I think those metaphors together may be dubious, but I’ll keep on).

This is for prompt 2

In 25 words or less, write a story (beginning, middle, and end) about what’s happening in this photograph.

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So my brief story:

The tree reminded her of her mother, a dramatic and looming presence, and she always worked harder beneath its stern gaze.

Link to Saturday flash splash 07.01.17

 

Short Story: Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches

“You know me and my love of Madagascan hissing cockroaches.” Fabian was right, I did, he had told me about it in depth. He didn’t tell me about his seventy-eight sibilant pets when I answered the ad for a room to rent, he must have hidden the glass cage when I had a viewing. It was only as I was carrying boxes in from the taxi that I heard the noise: a frantic hissing, I assumed he had stuck the kettle on for a welcome coffee, but then he said,

“Don’t worry about that. That’s just my Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches, seventy-eight of them! I counted this morning. Of course, the numbers change as they breed. Or eat each other.” I’ve been alive a while, I’ve perfected the nervous smile, and I used it then. I’ve used it many times since I moved in with Fabian.

I liked Fabian from the moment I met him; he moved liked an uncoordinated child, jerky, lumbering movements topped with too much curly hair and a shy smile. I thought he was delightful. Then he started to grate a little. Like a vicar’s sermon dragging all topics back to Jesus, Fabian would return all conversation to cockroaches, hissing ones. A few days after I moved in, my aunt died. He explained to me that he knew just how that felt because his favourite roach had hissed its last,

“I knew it was him, because I put a little blob of red paint on his back. It’s obviously just a really bad day for death.” He said.

“Hmm,” I replied.

I’d never met anyone quite like Fabian before. Filth and muddle seemed to spill out from him. Crumbs scattered from his jumper and mud from his boots. I discovered the erratic lurch was because one of his feet was a size 6 the other a size nine, but his problems went way beyond his feet. His mind  was always adrift elsewhere, thinking through facts and figures that he would share with the world just when the time was wrong. Usually when I was trying to concentrate, or when the phone rang.

Once he clomped into our lounge and thumped himself down on the sofa with the elegance of a walrus, not noticing that I was already sitting in that same spot. I yelped; it took a few moments for him to work out he had to move, then he shuffled awkwardly into a chair, huffing, already telling me that Madagascan hissing cockroaches liked to bury their dead, with a little ritual,

“They only eat each other when they need to assert dominance,” he said, “I read that in my new book,” he said, while I rubbed my bruised legs pointedly.

But those roaches, I knew they’d be trouble. It was only a few weeks later, I was sitting on my bed, reading, and I heard the distinctive hissing sound. I dropped my phone in panic and ran from the room calling Fabian’s name, pointing wildly to my door.

“Oh you’ve got one have you? Just giving them an airing. It’s important for Madagascan hissing cockroaches to get out and about sometimes.”

Still, I liked my new home, I was settling nicely into my new town. Learning where the best shops were, visiting the local park. And it wasn’t long before I got a job interview to work at the small accountancy firm in town. The interview was going well, I had impressed my potential employer, Gerry, with my knowledge of the company (Googled the night before), and with my friendly professional manner. It was all going well, when I heard, very quietly, that hissing sound. It came from just below my ear, I could feel the faint tickle under my collar. I tried to suppress the look of panic as Gerry looked up from his notes. I smiled politely as if all was normal.

“Now you say you can start anytime, is that right? No notice to work out?”

The tickling had become a scratching as small black legs climbed the few stubbly hairs on my neck, it wasn’t easy to keep my voice level.

“Yes, I could start tomorrow if you wanted,” I was trying to say it with a light chuckle, but it came out a little more like a supressed shriek. Gerry gave a nervous laugh of his own and looked down at his notes, saying,

“Now we’ve got both your references, haven’t-” he looked up as he was speaking and stopped, eyes wide beneath furrowed brow and I knew what was wrong. I could feel it, the sharp scrambling as the Madagascan hissing cockroach clambered out of the neck of my shirt, hissing frantically.

I Want to Introduce You to Victor

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Victor has been in my life now for over twenty years. Most of the time he has that look of quiet, patient dignity, occasionally it changes to a look of suppressed rage or weary indignation. Here he is looking natty and cool in a baseball cap. For twenty years I have kept him hidden away, a secret all mine. Now I think I need to share him with the world, I’m not sure what the world will do with him, but let’s find out.

This is Victor the Head. He will be back soon.