Friday, 13 July 2012

Submission: "Biography" - Barry

                I know he hasn't slept in days. We lounge in the living room, the lights off, blowing smoke rings into the air. The French doors are open, letting in the cold January air. The intimacy of the scene should be a set up for a secret rendezvous or something equally salacious.
                The funeral is tomorrow.
                I remembered the day vividly. I sat in the kitchen of our student house, waiting for him to make his phone call. An old friend had been bothering him to get in contact all day, so he had finally caved in and made the call. “I’ll be a few minutes. It’s only James, knowing him he’ll want me to reshoot his portfolio work” he said with a chuckle. Even though we’re only housemates, we spent every waking moment together, truly the definition of best friends.
                He borrows my phone to make the call and goes into his room. I begin to cook our dinner, because we often eat together these days. Time passes and the food has been ready for a while. It slowly cools on the counter. I start to feel worried.
                He finally emerges. His usually pale complexion is even more pallid than usual. I knew in that moment that something had happened. Something terrible.
                “Callum has hung himself.”
                Tears flowed for the first few hours, heavy and continuous. We sat in the garden and I held him while he wept liquid heartbreak onto my shoulder. I could almost feel the pain through my damp skin. It began to rain and we stayed sitting on our garden wall, for trivialities seemed so very unimportant to him now.
                Two weeks on and here we are. A part of him also died that day. I live with a stranger now. There had been the typical tears and symptoms of grief one would come to expect. He suddenly wore Callum’s old jumper every day, as though a piece of fabric could replace the touch of a lover. His weight had dropped drastically and his eyes had become bruised from lack of sleep. I tell myself that it’s only been two weeks. Time heals.
                He lights another cigarettes as we talk about our latest assignments. He hasn’t spoken about it in days and I am afraid to broach the subject. Our usually easy repertoire is uncomfortable and heavy, as though we are both walking a tight rope without a safety net. Or carrying a glass filled with too much water, if we stumble we’ll make a mess.
                He takes another swig of coffee. He takes it black these days, fitting in an oddly morbid way, though I suppose it has more to do with the fact he can’t afford milk. I brace myself and ask the question I have been dreading.
                “The funeral is tomorrow. How are you feeling about that? Are you going?”
                He visibly stills, as though he can fade into the background. It reminds me of an animal, hiding in the grass from a predator. But there is no avoiding this. The predator in this situation is his own grief.
                “Yes, I am going.” he says shortly. He takes another drag of his cigarette, the embers lighting his face and giving me a brief glimpse of the tears that have gathered in his eyes. “It’s odd you know. I’ve never really known what to say about this whole situation.” He takes another drag and I see the tears falling freely now. His voice is thick and I know he is struggling to keep it in.
                “Did I ever tell you about the last night we spent together?” he asks. I shake my head and realise he can’t see me. “No, you haven’t.” I whisper, curious about what he will say next and regretting broaching the subject in the first place.
                “He called me at 4am and I walked to his house. It was raining, but he was upset and I had to see him, even though we’d broken up.” He takes another drag between words. My own cigarette sits in the ashtray, forgotten. I don’t move in fear that I may break his train of thought.
                “I got to his house. We argued as usual. I said… I said I didn‘t care. I ended it that night in no uncertain terms. He always threatened to hurt himself if I tried to leave him and that night was no different. He was always trying to make me feel guilty, trying to hurt me. But he told me that he loved me. I believed that he loved me. I just didn‘t think it was enough anymore.” He takes swig of coffee and a drag on his cigarette, exhaling loudly.
                “I told him I never wanted to see him again. That I never loved him. But that’s not true. He’s the only man I have ever loved. Or was. Because he’s dead now.”
                I take his hand in mine and move closer to him. He begins to cry, squeezing my hand as though it is the only thing keeping him together. An anchor stopping him from being swept away by grief.
                “The worst part of this whole thing is that I would take it all back.” he sobs, barely getting the words out. “I love him even though he is gone. How can you love something that is no longer here? It hurts. Love hurts and it’s sick because all I can think of now is that night and how I wish I’d stayed.”
                He lies his head on my shoulder and his beard is wet from tears.
                “I wish I was dead too.” he whispers. 

- Follow Barry at

Submission: "Biography" - Justin

It was a simple day for me. I went through my day like it was butter. I was the knife, gliding through my classes with ease.

His day was not nearly easy enough.

He told me at great lengths about what had happened the day before. That Sunday while they were driving home from that trashy pancake place that pretends to be high class. Every few words he paused, as if to think, only to vomit out another two sentences immediately. His story came through as if they loved him. He almost felt at ease, I could see it in his face. But we both knew it wouldn't be that easy.
He told me the feeling of nausea that arose from the deepest pits of his stomach when he thought about the coming days, the coming weeks, the coming months and the coming year. Coming was all he did it seemed. He's paving a future but he can't see it. It's hard to see the walls have crumbled after you're convinced they're there forever. 
He spoke of the problems he in his classes, the inattentiveness and the "spacing out" that plagued his productivity. The pain he felt when the word God was brought up, and how it all made him felt. Like the fires of hell seared his feet as a reminder of his crimes. The pounding of his heart. The sweat of his brow. All during an American Literature class. I knew he wasn't scared for school. He had a reputation already. He was safe here, and it was peaceful. There was an occasional slur, but he considered himself lucky.

But that was then. We both knew he would have problems. Everyone did. We all congratulated him, but that only furthered his unease. The next few weeks were hard. Hard on me to see him, hard on him to BE him. They asked questions that really upset him. They said some things about God and how he'd smite down the unholy ones. They didn't take it well at all. I thought he would be fine, but here he is now, in my room. On my bed.
"I just lurched when she attacked me. My entire body ached as she said things a mother should never say. I was overtaken by rage. Rage that's been building for four years. Maybe even more. My entire body radiated heat and my skin was like a tomato's." He said, looking down. His eyes were bloodshot. "I felt like it wasn't her place. I deal with a lot of hate. A lot of ill feelings, just because I'm too short or too thin. I don't need my core attacked. My looks are transient. I would rather die the painful AIDS ridden death she threatened then to give up me as a person."
"Do you want to go back home? You can stay here if you need," I reminded.
"I can't stay here. There is no hope for me if I do. That means they won. I already missed a big performance because of their petty attacks. Their rage that could fuel entire cities. Their limitless hatred over one single facet of my life that they don't even need to know. I shared it with them as a choice. I could have gotten a beard and gone to my family events for the rest of my life, but I chose to be honest. They insulted who I was over missing clothing. It was a stressful time for me, right before a performance, and they provoked me into yelling and screaming right back."
"But what do you have to pro-"
"I have everything to prove to them. Staying here means that I've become less of a person. They'll take it as an attack on the family. I'm stronger and better than them. I'm not a racist prick, I'm not a bigot, and I'm not ignorant." He spat.

As he left my house he at me for a fleeting moment. It was dark and I knew he was leaving just to satisfy the questions his parents had. He opened his mouth only once more.

"Do not weep for me, weep for those who are set in their ways. They are unmoving and jaded to the world and its people."

- Follow Justin on Twitter at @Schmippo

Monday, 9 July 2012

Hiatus (again).

Ben is currently travelling around various parts of Europe and as he may not always have internet connection, we have decided to do another short hiatus until he returns!

On another note, we've received a few wonderful submissions, so we'll be posting them instead this week!
A big thank you to those that have sent us submissions, we've enjoyed reading all of them and seeing how you've interpreted the themes and obstructions.

- Andrew.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Week 4: "Biography" - Andrew

He was leaning down by the edge of the river and I knew instantly that I would look upon my right shoulder for guidance of my next move. Edging closer, I thanked the early afternoon weather for being as hopeless as my chances of winning the football tournament a had been in. We had travelled to Bournemouth about a week prior and had to bring him along. The heavens were a pallet full of monochromatic oil paint and the surroundings seemed to follow the sky's lead. As I stepped over to where he was hunched over, I grinned with every step that made me realise the light pattering of the overhead drizzle which nulled my footsteps on the undisturbed grass that protruded through the sticky, sucking, possessive mud.
                Stalking over him, remaining silent, I got within jumping distance and saw my own reflection in the flowing mirror of the stream. The waters were murky but I could clearly see the devil in my eyes and the innocence of an angel in his. When he was realised my intent I gave him no chance for reprieve and thrust him into the river.
                As soon as he hit the water he began flailing; the sight was sinfully appealing and one which should be savoured. He couldn’t swim well, but he was far from drowning. You could see the absolute concentration in his face at how hard he tried to stay afloat, and I had only wished to bring along a camera of sorts. He swam against the flow of the river and grasped at a low beam by the side, tears streaming down his face fast as the river’s flow increased due to the rain picking up. As he was about to pull himself out of the water, I grasped him arm and helped him out.
“I saved you!” I yelled; a grin still slathered across my face.
                He ran home crying, drenched in the foul, pungent smell of muddy waters. Later that night he gave his recollection of what happened to mother, his tongue serpentine as he told the absolute truth.
“...And he pushed me in!” he broke down in another batch of tears, his eyes sore and a vibrant red which stood out against his pallor.
“I did not! You must have fallen in; you know how clumsy you are.”
I maintained my story and received no punishment. Evading prosecution was the sweetest of fruits from the most plenteous of gardens.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Week 4: "Biography" - Ben

The second I asked it, his tears stopped and I began to sob regret.

            He had come over the previous evening (today and the night before had woven together, thick as rope). I met him at the station and together we’d bought cheap spirits and he mocked me for it and asked why I didn’t drink wine. I could tell he was uneasy and the alcohol fought to loosen him up. We swigged it as we walked and I longed to touch him but I was gripped by so much fear.
            When we got back to mine, the minutes waddled like a pack-mule up and up a steep hill. I wanted the right time (the night time), when I could take him to bed and not have him think me forward and I could take his fragile virgin wrists between my hands and pin them to my headboard and touch his own stigmata.
            We watched some television I loved and I noticed how urgently and fervently he kept moving his hands awkwardly over my body, like a child greedy for attention, discovering something that enraged the grown-ups. I kept drinking to blur everything and I think he had stopped because he was drunk on the anxiety and the anticipation.
            Then it was late enough to turn off the lights. I found his body- but he lay stiff with nerves, though he kept kissing and moving. It was like a smile through pain. I impressed him but I felt apathy to the whole thing and I think I just gnawed and played occasionally out of duty and not because I was really present in the moment. I came four times. I had not satisfied him once. We fell asleep.

            The next day I felt lost. We went in together and I ached and I felt as if wandering a vast desert. We didn’t speak all day, though we glanced at each other readily. I didn’t want anyone to know and the secret had an unpleasant taste to it.

            We spoke a little on the way home.
            “My friend is having a leaving party tonight. You’d be welcome to come.”
            “Okay,” I had mumbled.
            “I’d like you to meet my friends.”
            My stomach knotted with fright at this proposal.
            This time, he met me at the station and he walked me to the party. I felt manipulated- a great marionette. My feelings were a ribbon and the ribbon was tangled and the ends of the ribbon were tucked inside the knot- so I didn’t know where my feelings started and when they stopped. Really, I didn’t know what I felt at all.
            Inside, his friends intimidated me with how rapidly they spoke and what they spoke about. I told him this.
            “They make me feel stupid,” I explained.
            He laughed it off and the flippancy of his regard for my comment angered me. It made the fracture between us more evident.
            I had bought the unfinished bottle from the night before. It had been a gesture- that I would drink my own and not take from the host, but he glared at me when I swigged from it and he turned his shoulder away from me and towards his friends. I noticed everybody else drinking grain or grape. The fracture grew larger now and darker.
            I tried to talk to him, tell him what I felt. I began to untangle the ribbon. At first I was repentant of what had passed between us.
            “We rushed into things,” I urged. “I didn’t want us to go so far.”
            He blinked and his eyes took on a pearly shine while the outdoor lights haloed his hair. Then blame was loosed from the knotted ribbon.
            “You forced me into it. I wanted your company.”
            Each word, I could see, was a lash to his body. He winced at each blow and I punished him. The ribbon was untangling between and yet none of my fears, my grievings felt assuaged. The ribbon was longer than ever and still unravelling and now tears curled from his eyes. His friends looked concerned and I winced with shame, like a dog that has soiled a new carpet in front of an angry crowd. His bottom lip jutted out and I hated him for this cliché.
            I realised then that the ribbon of tangled emotions I felt was the selfsame fracture I saw spreading between us. Now our fingertips scraped as our arms stretched desperately. The hellfire from beneath seared us, ablaze with the energy of severance. And then I saw the solution. Rather than stop grasping for his hand in the heat, I poured mud into the fracture- mounds of plaster and clay, tumbling into the rift.
            “Let’s make it official.” I smiled through the pain as he had with his body.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Week 4: "Biography"

Theme: Biography:- Re-tell a moment/event in your life from a different person's view point (i.e. you must not be the narrator but must be a "character"). All names can be changed, if desired. (400-1000 words)

The Three Obstructions
  1. Religious imagery must be included.
  2. The piece must be exaggerated for dramatic effect (especially speech).
  3. You must include frequent use of simile and metaphor.
Theme chosen by Ben.
Obstructions chosen by Andrew.

Please feel free to suggest future themes or obstructions in the comments for consideration.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Week 3: "Negative Space" - Andrew

He stood by the entrance of the tent, that space of undefined territory of not being inside, yet not being expelled to the darkness. The tent was filled with no wood or stone. Soft surfaces of the now-skinless beasts were a luxury which he could afford. At the corner of the tent where she was laying, no darkness could be found. The lamps and luminous bottled insects had exorcised the darkness yet from where he stood, no light had graced his presence. He did not want to intrude, but he was still too worried to stand outside in the engulfing nothingness. Her screams had transcended the portrayal of pain; they had become grotesque. And rather than causing woe, her pain felt like a black hole at the centre of his being, right in the centre of his chest where she had rested her head the night before. As her wails continued, it emptied him of his soul, leaving only a pale membrane of skin and hope.
                Defying the orders of the midwife, he took a step inside. Just a step. Just enough to show he cares enough to be present, but not too much in case he hindered the process. The first signs of crowning became apparent as the midwife continued to command her, despite the profanities that she directed at everyone in the tent. The crowning continued and her handsome face was reduced to whimpering and a look of being hopelessly hopeful during the intervals of winces.
                The babe was delivered as the sixth moon eclipsed the fourth, at the hour of complete silence of the insects and beasts. The babe was loud, its cry breaking the rigid soundlessness of the tent. My eyes were open but they saw nothing. With each intake of breath my lungs felt no relief. Her pain had drained me and her death had emptied me.
                The babe was an ugly thing. She had told me to expect a phoenix, a beautiful bird full of fiery liveliness, but this creature entered the world in blood. The babe smelled of it, that pungent scent of the dead and the dying. How suitable, he thought. Removing his eyes from the now ugly, mangled corpse, his eyes drifted down as the midwife handed him the cleaned baby. Its fluorescent purple eyes were intoxicating to an addictive degree. The moons flew and the suns rose and all he had done was look at her, and all she had done was exist. Time was all he had in this respect; time had been taken from him in another.
                He foresaw a great huntress in her, for her skin was soft yet her grip was firm. He entertained thoughts of them hunting together for a while, until his stomach growled like a beast of his imagining. He closed his eyes for a minute and could imagine the soft, bloody meat covering his tongue; the rapids of salt-filled blood flowing throughout his mouth as he ground the meat between his teeth. He decided it was time to eat as the baby began to cry (from what he thought must be hunger) and realised...

What do babies eat?

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Week 3: "Negative Space" - Ben

      The skylarks were missing. Charlie heard it in the quiet field, emptied of the woodland sound of his youth. Following the ribbon of hills in the distance, he counted the trees. Two- no, three were gone- all elms; old men with sad, thin trunks brushing past the horizon and upwards to inky branches blushing with leaves. The asymmetry was apparent.
      Pushing open the window above the butler sink, he called in the spring air. He soured at the stench of ash. Even here, miles away, the Blitz burned in the raindrops that fell overnight, carrying soot like tiny messages of bereavement.            
      He stepped into the expanse of garden. Charlie registered the crouching figure of his mother, tending to early-blooming peonies. This was an exercise in routine, for the flowers, she felt, were beyond her control. Charlie’s absent father was by now in France, or Germany, or God-knows-where (Charlie was not allowed to read his letters, but heard them paraphrased to saccharine-sweetness by his mother).            
      Walking towards the tree line, the grass grew up to his knees. Charlie placed his hands on the tips of the blades as he walked and felt the alternating brush and prickle as the jade stalks swept off his palm. Wild grass grew tall here. Where once this lawn had been cropped short in stiff regiment, it now seemed to lollop in the breeze, falling awkwardly like unkempt hair. He spent a few moments picking the worst of the wild grass and breaking the chaff from their stalks. They felt like sickly strands of grain in his hands.            
      A strengthening wind startled him, crackling the branches. He stared greedily at the blackberry bush, which seemed to heave and tumble onto the lawn, too large for its own network of thorns and twigs. The fruit shone like purpled bruises and seemed to roll round on their stalks as the clouds moved before the sun. Blackberries had always reminded him of spiders’ eyes- their beady gloss and the way they bulged and spilled and appeared to grow from one another tumorously. He picked one and broke apart the fruit on his tongue. It was bitter with no relief and he swallowed it with some haste. The sun was hidden now and the world was thrown into shadow.
      He stopped at the back of the garden from where the house sat, stone and detached, like a postcard. The grass didn’t grow here and the ground took on the texture of brown, cracked cement. His father had tried to seed it, spent desperate summers ploughing and sowing in turn, knees to the ground and squinting to find green in the monotone. Some nights he had stayed outside till the sky blackened and then blued again, blinking through dusk and dawn, till he came inside with tears in his eyes, cursing the soil. Charlie knew the soil was a sorry scapegoat.
      He rested against the white fence that separated their house from the field and beyond. It seemed a futile symbol, needless, as the flowers grew round and over the fence in summer. From here, Charlie could see the parish and the sunlight coming through in the distance where the clouds bloomed white and not grey, pouring off the church eaves and into the graveyard. He imagined his father standing here, staring at this very spot, trowel and all abandoned, as Charlie and his mother slept. Charlie had seen his sister buried, he was told, though he didn’t remember. He only knew the imprint she had left (his mother’s weariness, his father’s temper and Charlie’s own isolation that he didn’t understand).
      Rain began to fall on the cracked ground and Charlie looked at his hands and wrists where the drops collected. The cinders in the rainfall left grey streaks on his skin- like overturning a water glass on a charcoal drawing. Charlie turned to see if his mother had gone inside. He saw her stoop in the kitchen window and he was overcome by a feeling of grief he could not attribute. He wondered what he was to do if his father never returned home.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Week 3: "Negative Space"

Theme: Negative space:- Describe a setting by what's not there (500-1000 words)

The Three Obstructions:
  1. All five senses must be utilised in the description
  2. All clichés must be avoided. That is to say, you (the author) must avoid using commonly used turns-of-phrase, imagery etc.
  3. The piece cannot be set in the present day (i.e. the 21st Century). It must be set in another era. (suggested by Simon Curtis)
Theme chosen by Andrew.
Obstructions chosen by Ben.

Please feel free to suggest future themes or obstructions in the comments for consideration.

Friday, 23 March 2012


As exams edge closer and closer for me, Ben and I have agreed to take a short hiatus until June 25th. I'm sad to see the project be put on hold, but I really want to put all my effort into exams. Writing pieces, thinking of themes, and coming up with obstructions is too time consuming for the moment and I'm deeply sorry if anyone is saddened by this news, but we'll be back with some new and interesting themes at the start of summer.

Wishing everyone the best,

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Week 2: "Water" - Andrew

Yet to discover your depths they see,
but life without mystery,
and for where they see you help life grow,
in abundance they end and all will know.

Tumultuous sounds are made in fear,
and where the void of all other existence is clear,
the drip drop dropping sounds echo near.
Moments before you tell them their sin,
you wait for them to gasp you in,
and at the moment they choke on your omnipresence,

You tell them:

“I am Life. I am Death. But mostly, I am your sentence.”

          They regard you as the cleanser of dirt and sin. They taint your streams and the oasis havens you gift them. You grant them rivers and reverence yet they corrupt and pollute. Do they not see your puissance? Do they not see how generous you are?
           Deluded into thinking you are the harmless dripping from the metal mechanisms they manipulate you from, or the soothing falls underneath the enveloping brush that natural life shield them with; they are mistaken. 
           For you are the preponderance of all things, you are the guardian of the depths and the seer of the void.

You are water, and they are man.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Week 2: "Water" - Ben

"He had been the midsummer rain on my windowsill,
Together we formed puddles on the glass,
Tears on the concrete.

The singing brook turns brine to the ocean,
The beauty in the meander,
The question in the current,
Where once we dappled green in the nymph-light of the canopy,
Now, the might is much too much
And the surf stung him
And the riptide broke his bones
And my shouts fell deaf against the roar
And he won’t come home
And you cannot drown in air-like love."

You grip the paper, now stained by the ink that marks it. Something drips a steady rhythm from your chin- sweat, tears, rainwater or a potion of the three.
You have not been here since you were a child and the walk in the storm reminded you of your father (clinging to his hand in the dark) and his hopeless fishing rods and of your mother, cursing behind you, lighting a cigarette against the wind.
Now the lagoon is heavy with algae and it breathes thick and steady. The rain, a drizzle, has broken through the centre and the body of water appears to open with a great shout. You are on your knees now. Your hands are mahogany- wet with clay.
Days ago it had been so clear to you that it was over. Now, faced by this place, it seems a shallow victory. You see his face in the shallows and it is sadness and not some furious vengeance you feel. It is all hollow.
The water kisses your toes like a lover and purrs like a cat at your heels. It wraps your shins like a plea and bathes your thighs like a lustful crowd. You are waist deep now. The algae clings to your body like a new skin. You think it all very new.
You peel off layers of clothing and they sink to the bed, needless, to be discovered by two lovers or perhaps a fleshy little boy, his grip clenched tight around his mother’s pruned thumb. Now you are baptised in the warmth and majesty of the lagoon. You rub the algae into your cheeks and you are perfumed by the stench of decay and flora. The water salts your lips with the taste of a river.
You are in the centre now, where the rainwater has shattered the protoctista- the mouth of the lagoon. Between radii, far away, you are aware of your nudity and your isolation and you find it thrilling and erotic. The mouth begins to devour you- pushing from all sides of a circle- and you submerge.
Under, you dream that you see phosphorescence on the face of the water and the oysters are chattering to you.
When you surface, you remember the paper in your hand. Sodden, the ink has turned a blackish mess and all that remains is the shadow of words and an opening:
“He had been-”
You nod. He had been.
And you flee home, forgetting your nakedness for the sake of new light and the sunrise.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Week 2: "Water"

Theme: Water:- Write about water (500-1000 words)

The Three Obstructions:
  1. You must personify water. 
  2. The piece must be in the second person and any tense.
  3. Within the piece there must be at least 10 lines of poetry*.
*Each line of poetry counts for 10 words of the overall piece. For example, 400 words of prose and 10 lines of poetry meets the minimum length of the piece.

Theme chosen by Ben.
Obstructions chosen by Andrew.

Please feel free to suggest future themes or obstructions in the comments for consideration.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Week 1: "Character Building" - Andrew

“You mustn’t leave me.”

            I pound my fists against his chest to no avail. Nothing happens; the weakening of time had dealt its consequence in both of us. It is not adrenaline and pain that Death feasts on, it is the slow waning of life that he savours. Whereas he sleeps, peacefully, I am left on the other side of the veil trying to find its seams to rip or shred or destroy, yet too weak to unleash the potency of emotion in any form. My eyes would yet weep more if not for the lack of moisture, and my arms would yet cradle him a last time. So for now, I rely on anger and pain.  For now I entertain my anger as I knew it will fade to grey, unlike the sorrow that will forever linger.

            My arms grow tired of beating the corpse, his corpse, and my body begins to tremble. I lift his still warm, living yet lifeless arm over me; finding a sense of comfort in his surrounding presence.
“You said...” I whisper, spattering a combination of tears and saliva onto his sweater. “ were impervious.”
            Lifting my head to look upon his countenance, the pallor of his face and dull blue of his lips that promises the oncoming decay suppresses my anger. Perhaps I relinquished it. Perhaps his immortal soul that has now transcended mortality comforted me.  It did not protect me. It did not free me.

Take it.


Quickly, before it leaves.


You feel it in his arm.

            “You left me, weak and ancient.” Ancient, just like this curse.
Its tendrils eagerly latch onto the corpse before I have even positioned myself accordingly. The blueness of his lips devolve to grey; the blotched, tanned skin soon followed. The flesh withers to nothing; the space between his fragile bones and sagged skin now a void like my empathy. I stand, easily for my age, and feel no remorse or guilt for what I have just allowed.
            Before I can stretch my new muscles and crack my sturdy bones, the skin on my face tightens. My lips become plump. My spine straightens and my scalp returns to its healthy form after so many years.
            I look down at the corpse I have just desecrated, smiling as I run my tongue over my teeth. A full set of teeth that, moments before, were mostly missing (and those that weren’t, were crooked and a dark, unsightly yellow).
This parasite that uses me as a mouthpiece hides in the corners of my mind for decades, appearing only when its existence is threatened. Attached to my mortality, it feeds; insatiable until sated. Bathed in bloodless bloodshed, it returns to the depths of my mind where the other souls of men become a dessert for the Curse. Staring upon the corpse that mimicked the aesthetics of a centuries-old mummified pharaoh, I bend down and take his sweater.

          The sweater is cute, and it's cold in the streets of London.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Week 1: "Character Building" - Ben

An opening door with the hesitance of dread. Perhaps they expect to find me greened and bloated- the greyish tinge of rot at my edges. To them, I am an opaque hourglass - my time courses slowly seawards but they aren’t gingered to predict the untimely accident they will no doubt call “peaceful”.
Perhaps they expect a state of undress too horrible for them to consider. Though once I may have been beautiful, they enforce loathing. Dimpled and wrinkled, with the pallor of years, I often trace the bruised tattoos of varicose, thinking they might form a painful map of some importance.
The polite young man who has been politely visiting for some time, seats himself and begins to politely talk to me with the smug glisten of considered politeness.
“How are you today, Mrs. Albert?”
It’s always the first question asked, though I know they expect no deviance from slow deterioration.
I gaze.
I must have been silent for some minutes, for he speaks slowly with concern and a furrowed brow.
“Mrs. Albert?”
My name with its widow’s sting.
            “Yes?” I have since forgotten his question.
            “You’ve been awfully quiet,” he condescends to me.
            “Have I? I hadn’t noticed.”
            I had. Time has become the strangest friend to me. As I extend towards the infinitesimal, minutes have wilted and seconds are browned and shed of all significance. This is the autumn of my years. I begin to express this to the polite young man but thought exhausts me and tired grey matter elicits only a sigh.
            “What are you reading today?” He leans forwards and then quickly falls back into his chair. They bathe me in lilac and lavender – the smells of age I reviled in my youth.
            I had long since forgotten the book in my lap. Rather, I no longer feel its pressure. Had I been dozing when they found me? For how long? It’s as if a bullet is loosed from the barrel and a trigger then pulled.
I feel sluggish and slow and confused and aware. My breathing shallows. The polite young man leans in again and I gesture for water.
            “Water?” he asks.
            I nod, though I long for something stronger. The worst part about this clinically beige and stone place is the “ginlessness”. I long for gin, though dryness is encouraged (a softer kind of mandatory).


            I open my eyes (had I closed them?) and the polite young man is here again. He is already politely seated and smiling politely at me. My hand is wrapped around something (too late) falling to the ground.   Soporific, I hear the helpless shattering of glass (mine?) and the polite young man is here again and he is leaping forward to clear the wreck.
            The door opens and I see him in the doorframe- as broad and strapping as our wedding day. I feel light pink and romantic. I feel as champagne does.
            “Is everything okay?” he asks.
            No, the voice is too high and never Irish. He is red with thick freckled ankles and in a dress. (It shatters like a glass too late from my hand).
The figure is sternly medical and now she is holding my wrist and holding something cold to my lips and something falls into the pillowed chamber of my velvet mouth.
We are all waiting for something. The polite young man who is here again looks uncomfortable and is mopping up something that has smashed on the ground (mine?). I believe him to be unprepared for responsibility.
I’m aware that the nurse with thick ankles is asking me to count with her.
We reach ten and I touch her hair.
“Such a pretty russet,” I say.
They both stare at me with shining eyes of kindness, but I remember they think me mad.
I find fleecy comfort in the pill I have swallowed without question.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Week 1: "Character Building"

Theme: Character building:- Build a single character (500-1000 words)

The Three Obstructions:
  1. The main character must be female and over 60 years old.
  2. Each line of dialogue is limited to 6 words.
  3. The piece must be first person and present tense.
Theme chosen by Andrew. 
Obstructions chosen by Ben.

Please feel free to suggest future themes or obstructions in the comments for consideration.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

The Three Obstructions

From Wikipedia:
The Five Obstructions ... is a 2003 Danish film by Lars von Trier and Jørgen Leth. ...The premise is that Lars von Trier has created a challenge for his friend and mentor, Jørgen Leth, another filmmaker. Von Trier's favourite film is Leth's The Perfect Human (1967). Von Trier gives Leth the task of remaking The Perfect Human five times, each time with a different 'obstruction' (or obstacle) given by von Trier
Following closely in some vague footprint of this, comes "The Three Obstructions".

  • Each Monday, Andrew or Ben will set a theme for the week's writing. 
  • The other will then produce a set of three obstructions to apply to the theme that week. 
  • By Sunday, each of the writers will have posted a piece of writing (no less than 500 words unless otherwise stated), following the theme and obstructions.

The challenge is to inspire creativity in the restriction of technique, forcing each writer out of self-set comfort zones.

The project will be a learning experience, a test and (hopefully) a pleasure and we hope you enjoy it as much as we hope we do.

Please feel free to suggest future themes or obstructions in the comments for consideration.