Day 22: 500 Word Challenge with Jeff Goins

Write about Fear

Fear blog media

I am afraid of not fulfilling my purpose in life. I keep picturing my future as a bus or train arriving on a set schedule and I stand by too busy dreaming to hop on the vehicle of opportunity and journey to my destiny. I am anxious that I am a wastrel: wasting precious hours and minutes comparing, analysing, and dreaming when I should be listening, speaking, acting.

My deepest fears and concerns are about missing something precious. All my life I have grown most concerned when I misplace something, and occasionally lose things all together. Ironically, I am poor at putting things back in the same place, so I have multiple cheap versions of the things I use all the time black pens, notebooks, journals, water bottles, and jackets.
I want to write profound, ironic, emotional and uniquely expressed articles and stories. The longer I do this with no change in my audience the more frightened I become. In the last twelve months when I’ve been stressed I stop writing for days, even a whole week at a time. Lately, I’ve been feeling my brain grow fearful of writing. It is as if my brain is saying no, no to the thing I am most passionate about because I put in so much effort and grow excited, only to discover people don’t know, and when they do know they are not interested. I am worried about the adrenalin spike when I think of writing, as if my brain is perceiving the act of writing as a threat. How self -defeating!
Tenaciously, I determine to press in. Although my writing of morning pages is becoming spasmodic, I keep telling myself I am a writer.
I say to my weary brain, “You are a writer. You thrive when writing.”
Sometimes I feel anxiety and judgement saturate my grey matter.
They are saying, “Writing is associated with the breakdown of your marriage. Writing has robbed you.”
I reply, “Writing has given me a richer way of living. It has given me the motivation to open myself to observe the world and others, continue to be sensitive and loving towards them, despite my failures. Writing, editing, and the study I did, and the friends I made because of it, have enriched me.”
The inner judgement nags on, “But you did not do very well in your Masters Studies this year. Really you didn’t do much more than pass. I saw your disappointment at the deadlines. You knew your work was mediocre.”
Those words sting, but I pull myself up by the mental boot straps. I remember that I have always been determined when I decide to do something. Seldom have I quit anything halfway through. I’m uncertain of my destination, but I know the journey is not over. I am a hard worker, though I struggle. Knowing I did not try my best is what I fear the most.
Tomorrow I will keep writing the short story challenge and rebuild a new life.

Capture butterfly

Some links for you:

My dear friend Nicole – The Short Story Queen : https://theshortstoryqueen.wordpress.com/

Check out Cristian Mihai : https://cristianmihai.net/

A link to Jeff Goins website : https://goinswriter.com/

 Links to past posts I’ve been thinking about.

https://factitiousvignettes.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/may-a-photo-poem

https://factitiousvignettes.wordpress.com/2016/03/21/lady-gaeophias-wisdom

 

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Sustained Metaphor: “May”

[ I decided this morning to personalise May, the last month of autumn(Fall) in the Southern Hemisphere, and play a little. My experience of May  is influenced by  a lot of time spent outdoors, and in rural or semi-rural areas. I hope you enjoy what is a dissonant sort of tribute to my favourite time of year. It reminds me that Ballarat’s winter is coming…]

May arrives in the south surrounded by smoky air of burnt leaves, her dress is vapour thin. Her blue toes and icy fingers stroke your hands and face at dawn. You experience reluctance to meet her but her heart carries warmth: russet red, butter yellow, burnt orange fading to the practical colour of an Aunty’s woollen cloak. You cannot help but be arrested by her colours, her last potent and bright blooms, but despite her afternoon heat she reminds you of a cold, grey gloom that is coming.

Her evening shows of diffused golden light, appearing like Elven* play slides between the branches of half-naked trees, join earth and sky. Her magic tempts you to linger in the cool to watch the Milky Way’s unmasked clarity. Her magic hour is exquisite , her tea gown a deep blue that invites you to wait until she dons her navy velvet couture embellished with diamonds , and dances with you through her dusky mist and charmed mirrors.

Never mind that she comes to aid the lengthening of nights and the freezing of your breath; her unique charm bewitches you until her first showers drench her burning heart.

(* a reference to elves ( belonging to elves)- the word Elven was made famous by Tolkien- not to be confused with elfin which denotes something elf-like with associations finely built, lively, magical )

The End

Rosellas : favourite Australian birds

 

crimson_rosella_platycercus_elegans_10244627086https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ACrimson_Rosella_(Platycercus_elegans)_(10244627086).jpg

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/db/Crimson_Rosella_%28Platycercus_elegans%29_%2810244627086%29.jpg

By Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE (Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

eastern-rosella-adult-image

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:JJ_Harrison?rdfrom=commons:User:JJ_Harrison.

The photo of the Eastern Rosella is attributed to J.J. Harrison

 

800px-eastern_rosella_chicks444

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

Taken by benjamint444. These two attributions are for the photo of the chicks

Crimson Rosellas, the Australian Parrots with scarlet, sky blue and indigo plumage, are a bird that reminds me of childhood, the bush, and the bright flashes of colour in the woodlands that excite imagination. In my childhood years, the rosellas I would have seen were Eastern Rosellas. These have scarlet, yellow, indigo, and green feathers, along with small amounts of white and charcoal, around the edges of the wings. Their beaks are yellowy coloured while the crimson Rosella beaks are ivory, or pale grey.

I love to see a flock of these shy birds alight on the ground. They shuffle and huddle together around the food they have discovered. Memories abound of flocks landing around piles of seed, and pecking quickly, noisily cracking seeds in their powerful beaks. When they flew away, the shape of the fans at the end of their tails, and the graceful curves of their wings were a delight to watch.  On trips to the Warbies, or Grampians, I remember them arriving at the picnic grounds to clean up after the greedier Kookaburras gobbled the sausages and the bulk of the bread. They would peck at the crumbs, and be quickly off if they couldn’t find anything satisfying.

I know that most very young bird chicks are ugly. This lends credence to the theme of the Ugly Duckling, but the startling ugliness of Eastern Rosella chicks takes me aback. They look like very mouldy lumps of a cheese I first tasted in the nineties, pink peppercorn and cheddar, and their beaks look like handles you should use to throw the mess away. There is no doubt Rosella parents see the potential in their offspring. They must make more noise than Magpie chicks seeking to be fed, but I have never knowingly heard them. Something motivates the parents on a day to day basis to help turn their chicks into the handsome birds they become.

It is one of the mysteries of Australia that a land of dull bush in shades of taupe, khaki, brown and grey should be home to birds of such colourful plumage.

Crazy 24h

At 1.28 p.m yesterday I quit the job I had for less than a week, following  a damn disaster I created in a busy kitchen over the weekend. Tears flow as I struggle to come to terms with all my realised fears, and the end of my fragile hopes of escape from the job search provider bureaucratic press.

Helplessness fuels  emotional turmoil like a boiling stockpot: limp celery leaf, orange carrot chunks, transparent onion dice, and seared beef bone become a picture of my inner geyser. Hang on, a voice says,stockpots are meant to gently simmer, but nothing is as it should be. Nothing reflects my hopes, dreams or plans. I view myself as a hopeless misfit on the way to the principal’s office.

This morning on my way to a coffee meeting, I stop to fuel the car. On my way out of service station shop after paying, I drop my prescription glasses on the polished linoleum floor. Seeming animated, they slide under one of the shelves. I kneel on the floor, and pull out the lower drawers, and fluster the dark-haired attendant(under the drawers is littered with dust,crumbs and dirt). The attendant brings a plastic scraper on a stick and starts to poke around under the shelf. That’s when I realise I can reach in and access them at my end. Open, the glasses are too high to slide under the drawers. I stand, brush off my jeans, apologise, and walk out to my safe non-verbal car. I wish I could laugh but I feel like putting my head in a gas oven. I am a klutz, but gee I am an independent, proactive klutz. Perhaps the attendant will leave a note for the cleaner or his boss; perhaps I will get some help.

After the coffee and conversation, I take my time returning to my front room in the 1930s’ cottage. My inner temperature goes from simmer to boil again, and I decide to head to the walking track by the lake. As I slip into my flat shoes, I notice this pressure under my ribs is not just because I’m bending over. The heat spreads up my neck and along my arms. I stamp across the road, and stretch my legs as I head along the packed gravel path.

My mind halves, it seems, into brooding and spitting. The brooding supervisor part observes I am distraught and frustrated, but the walking channels the spitting energy into the ground. Thump, thump go my feet, my heart pounds.

I notice that I am walking the opposite direction to everyone I pass for the first four kilometres. I face the wind, while it blows on their backs. I look up, part of the sky is blue, the horizon pale with cloud and the sun surrounded by a black lump. In defiance, the sun shines brighter, gilding the perturbed lake while I tramp on. My upper body gets warmer, I unbutton my coat and spread my arms out. For a count of twenty I skip. I feel my heart rate increase and enjoy the illusion of strength. Inside I feel as fragile as blown glass, waiting to hear the tinkle of shattering.

My thoughts turn to an image of gold refining: how the bright purified gold bubbles up and is poured out in molten glory. The hope in me is like that: a seam of light torn away from the black heat. I don’t know whether to love it for its expensive shine, or hate it for its inevitable dream. I tramp on.

 

 

 

 

The Angel at Berriwillock

(This Story was published in the 2010 University of Ballarat Anthology “Montage”. I tried to publish it here before but technical issues meant it was never added. Now here it is. I hope you enjoy it. I am migrating all my content to a new look blog, and I now publish at Tumblr though the archives are not available there yet.

If you’ve ever had help and you just don’t know where it came from then you’ll understand The Angel of Berriwillock.  This is creative non-fiction written from an anecdote told by Steve O’Donnell)

It began breathlessly. The kind of day when the tar is soft on the edge of the road by mid- morning. The sunrise was pomegranate seed red, raspberry, pink and orange; insects went to bed quickly after the golden orb rose from its bed or congregated in the shade.  As he climbed into his 1961 Austin British-made Tip Truck, he adjusted the split windscreen to open in front of the driver’s seat. The still, warm night had done nothing to cool things off.

It’s going to be a stinker for sure.

He headed out west of the town and saw curtains of light that looked like rain running down a window rising from the road surface. The thought of rain made him smile cynically.  The old sayings weren’t always true.

Red sky in the morning…rarely true

There had not even been a sign of rain for over a month and it was only November. He thought about the current demolition job he was working on, a Bessemer block house.

I’ll throw on the iron off the gable and the broken blocks today. Just take it a little easier ‘cos it’s gonna be the hottest day so far. I feel stuffed!

He could feel the sweat trickling down his spine. A fine layer of dust covered his face from the dusty lane that ran between the half-demolished house and the new one occupied by Cheryl and Tiger. That dust had settled on everything.

Suddenly the crack of a 12 gauge shotgun abruptly interrupted his thoughts. He turned as he stepped from the truck and looked in the direction of the house from which the sound had come. He saw Cheryl with the gun, now lowered, standing on the front verandah. He called out and she waved him over.

‘Look! The mongrel must be five foot long.’

Scaly dark bronze lengths split by crimson guts lay twitching on the ground.

‘I always check the yard before I let little Molly out to play. Glad I found him.’

‘Yeah, I think he’s the bugger I saw in the house a couple of days back but I couldn’t get him.’

As he turned away, he shivered. He’d killed a number of snakes in his time demolishing houses but it didn’t mean he relished the job. He didn’t usually have a shotgun handy. If a snake was aggressive he dispatched it in the ruthless manner of a man who works alone.

It’s them or me when it comes down to it. That one she got looks like the bugger that I saw the other day.

Two days before he’d been having lunch inside the old place. He was seated on the floor and dozing off when a sharp metallic clatter made him sit up straight; something had made his thermos fall from an adjacent plank; not a foot away he saw the dark sinuous length of an Eastern Brown Snake. It had been heading the other way and his pounding heart settled down. It was between him and any spade or crowbar he could have used. He had watched it  and estimated it to be one and a half metres long as it moved through the half-wrecked wall into the derelict garden. He usually had a strong sense of loneliness and isolation in his job but sometimes you could get lucky.

Mid-afternoon heat haze hung over everything when he saw that he had a full load of roofing iron off-cuts and broken blocks.

Time to head to the tip in Berriwillock.

As he climbed into the truck he opened both sides of the windscreen. There was no breeze and the British-made Austins were called sweat boxes.

He thought about the money he would make out of the salvage from this job to try and keep his mind off the heat and the flies. He had taken a fee upfront because he knew he couldn’t salvage any blocks but the long lengths of iron, the hardwood timber beams and of course the Baltic Pine flooring would fetch good money.

The cockies are always looking for that stuff for sheds. Furniture makers pay well for Baltic.

As he drove away from the farm onto the gravel road, he reflected that at least he wouldn’t have to deal with a ‘Joe Blake’. In his job there was nothing worse than those sneaky creeps.

Berriwillock’s wheat silos rose like sentinels above the paddocks full of well-ripened but stunted wheat in the east. He headed north-west of the town’s fringe towards Tip Road. The unsealed road, long un-kempt, ended in an area of about an acre, fenced by a two-metre high cyclone wire fence; gathered along its inside perimeter were papers, empty soft-drink and beer cans. Gates stood open, seemingly inviting the public to dump their rubbish in the five metre deep trench running along the far-side fence. A rank odour, like mouldy wine rose in a cloud.  A swig from his water bottle washed away a strange taste as he swung the wheel and backing to the edge of the trench. He jammed on the brakes as he felt the rear wheels lose traction. His hands and teeth clenched tight as he realised something was wrong, very wrong. This bull-dozed trench had rounded edges and he had misjudged the perimeter badly.

Possible solutions to his dilemma crowded into his mind. His hand trembled as he thought what might happen if he just took his foot from the brake.

I’d be sure to slide into the trench. The weight of the blocks would make me go straight backwards. I’d bash my head, for sure.

His thoughts veered away from worse ideas.

I’ll jump out and release the tailgate really quickly.

A quick check in the rear vision mirror revealed the swing gate latch was now two and a half metres above the ground.

‘I could try and get up on the back and open the tailgate from inside the tray of the truck.’ Now he was talking to himself.

His sweaty palms slipped on the wheel as he pictured himself going down with truck while being able to see exactly what was happening. His foot was stiff from the constant pressure on the brake. On the floor on the passenger side he spotted three long load flag sticks. He tried them all with shaking fists and finally jammed one between the brake and the frame of the driver’s seat. A spark of hope began in his brain as he marvelled at the stick being the perfect length.

‘How about that!’

Gingerly he opened the driver’s side door. The fear of the truck falling in the time he look to get out or that he would knock the stick from the brake tightened his throat. He heard a strange buzzing; his stomach heaved; time stopped.  The man’s voice made him jump.

‘Steve, you’ll be right.’

He looked up to see a strange man, aged he guessed, about 70.An untidy white beard was the full stop of a friendly face. Thinning hair was overshadowed by a gum branch being waved to prevent the flies landing on his face. He wore a pair of denim bib and brace overalls and old shoes. He waved the branch more vigorously and leaves brushed over his white chest hair.

‘All you’ve got to do is put her in low first. You’ll be up in no time.’

He was afraid to depress the clutch and engage the low-ratio gears of the Austin’s split gear box. He feared the worst.

‘I’m not so sure,” said Steve, ‘What about the loose, dry clay under the rear duals?’

‘It’s not gonna be a worry-she’ll crawl outta there.’

Steve looked into the calm, pleasant face.

He felt reassured and said, ‘Ok. I’ll give it a go.’

The brake was still chocked with the flag stick and he depressed the clutch and put the truck in low-ratio gear. He opened up the choke, depressing the accelerator as hard as he could. As he accelerated he dropped the clutch in and the truck ‘walked’ up over the edge of the trench. His teeth were gritted as he feared slipping but soon he felt the drop onto the flat area and he drove past the old man and stopped.

He got out of the truck, smiling, ready with thanks, but the man was nowhere to be seen. he looked around in disbelief. The gate was 100 metres in front of him opening onto an unobstructed view of the road. Further along the trench, about another 100 metres, was a small shrub and the wire fence allowed a view of the surrounding land. There was literally nowhere to disappear to. He stood for a few minutes, stunned.

As Steve took the road home, a solitary figure caked with dust and sweat, the thought that someone had cared about him brought a tear to his eye. He wondered how on earth the stranger had even known his name. Tonight he would have a story to tell.

-The End-