Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Cé a dhéanann John grá?

Well life took over for me in the last few weeks with family home from Austraila and doing that stuff that pays the bills and buys the wine at the end of the week, so I'm  a bit behind.  Forgive me and I promise to be quicker next time.. please make sure you leave your comments, because without a theme, I have no story to write and then its no challenge. 

This story was suggested by MoloneyKing on Twitter whose blog page I have listed here as well, as its just fab.  Michelle asked for :  A story set in the Gaeltacht with a number of teachers all liking one particular teacher and I got to chose who got him in the end... 

I hope you like my take on this and I would like to add that my irish came from google translation.. yes i know (hangs head in shame) but as soon as we got our Peig books out when I learnt Irish, I did my maths homework.  But I am getting a new lease of the irish language through my daughter who is fab at speaking irish and absolutely loves it.  So I hope you ignore the bad grammar and possibly bad irish translation (god knows what I have said) and enjoy the short story. 
Again please join up for my blog and leave your comments because without the comments and the challenges set by you, my task of trying to write a different short story every two weeks will be all but a blank page..

So thanks Michelle for this theme and I hope you all enjoy.. next one will be picked from comments here or on twitter and posted by the end of the month (my birthday as well which finds me this year losing a year instead of gaining one!)

Cé a dhéanann John grá?

Juliette fixed the loose blonde curl behind her ear and surveyed her appearance in the mirror for the third time as she passed. “Táim go maith”, she thought to herself, “are you ready for me John, here I come.”  As she fixed her bright orange bodycon dress, she knew her choice of outfit  would be frowned upon by Sister Angela and Fr. Jack, as completely inappropriate dresswear for the final Ceili. She could hear the old fogeys now, this is not the right example to be setting for a bunch of teenagers. Well, she didnt care; she had bigger fish to fry tonight.  She still couldn’t believe that she had met the man of her dreams in substitute teacher, John Prendergast, when she arrived in Donegal.  Thank God she had though, it had made the three weeks of extra curriculum activity in the Gaeltacht so much more bearable this year.  And he had fallen for her, well of course he would; she thought, as she looked one more time in the mirror before she left.  The note today had confirmed it all, and she was so excited now. It was  time to close the deal.  “Meet me in the village hall at 8pm and don’t be late, I have something really important I want to say to you before its too late, and we all leave tomorrow.”  She folded the note and slipped it into her handbag as she closed the door behind her.

Amy rushed around her tiny room, aww shit and crap,  she realised she was going to be late if she didn’t get a move on.  She had managed to get herself and all her kids lost on the treasure hunt earlier, arriving back two hours late.  A complete disaster! She had nothing to wear to the final Ceili now either, having not packed correctly and running out of clean knickers last Tuesday.  Thinking of her lack of clean knickers, she was hoping that John Prendergast’s note earlier didn’t mean her secret was about to be exposed, later on when he took her back to the bedroom. .  “Meet me in the village hall at 8pm and dont be late, i have something really important i want to say to you before its too late and we all leave tomorrow.”  Well what else did it mean other than that, she wondered.

 She definitely fancied John;he was yummy, but she hadn’t noticed him much over the three weeks.  Well she definitely hadn’t noticed any signs he was interested. She was so tempted not to wear any knickers at all, but she didn’t want to feel that free around Fr. Jack and a bunch of spotty teenage boys! She couldn’t wait to get home tomorrow and tell the girls.  They called her An knicker níos lú ar cheann, as she always found herself in the same predicament on her holidays.  She even lived in St. Nicholas Place in Dublin, which had now been renamed St. Knickerless place by the girls.  She sighed as she looked at her filthy jeans and white hoody she had been wearing all day and decided, well if John liked her as his note seemed to indicate, sure it didn’t matter what she was wearing... it was time to go anyway.

Ullmhaithe, the best two words Susan could teach her children she thought as she stared at the clock and willed the time to move faster.   She had been ready since 7pm having prepared the final certifciate for her kids and had her bags packed apart from what she needed in the morning.  She had packed away all the kids’ homework, corrected it and had it filed in alphabetical order.  To past time, she had refiled her own coursework books in alphabetical order and again in order of when she would need to take them out of the bag to use.  She re-read John’s note feeling a surge of excitement in the pit of her stomach. . Bualadh liom sa halla sráidbhaile ag 20:00 agus dont a bheith déanach, tá mé rud éigin tábhachtach i ndáiríre ba mhaith liom a rá leat roimh a ró-déanach agus táimid go léir saoire amárach ".  She had translated his note into irish of course, well if the children couldnt speak english, she felt the teachers should be doing the same.  She still couldn’t believe he wanted to meet her and felt that way about her, but even so, she was over the moon.  When she had stepped off the bus and saw John Prendergast that first day, she had felt a stirring inside herself, she hadn’t felt for years.  Right 8pm, she smoothly down her little black dress although it was perfectly ironed since the evening before and grabbing her key she left at 7.54pm as it took exactly six minutes to get to the hall.

John paced up and down the hall entrance waiting for them to arrive.  He never would have realised that his three weeks in Donegal would have ended like this, and he hoped he was doing the right thing.  Being a substitute teacher he wasnt sure if relationships between teachers would be frowned upon and the last thing he wanted to do was get anyone into trouble.  First to arrive was Susan but he expected nothing less.  She looked as perfect as always, and if he wasn’t mistaken, she seemed a little flirty with him as they waited for the others to arrive.  The kids were arriving now also all excited about the last dance but equally sad to be saying good-bye to new -found friends and no doubt a few romances too.  Aww to be a teenager again he thought.  Oh no wait he thought, all that self- doubt and over active hormones, no, he was better off in his twenties.

The hall quietened down, even the ceili band seemed to rein things in as Fr. Jack and Sister Angela arrived.  Why did he still feel like a child again around them he wondered, feeling even more unsure of his next move now?  Julia swished past walking straight up to him.  She ignored the frowns from the others, her head held high as confident as ever.  “That dress is so tight, i’m sure Ican see that bagel she had for breakfast” Susan leaded into John giggling as Julia approached where they were standing.  So John, I got your note”, Julia started but John placed a finger on her lips to quieten her.  “Wait” he said ignoring the look of shock on her face at being told what to do.  Kevin rolled up next. He was in charge of the hall where all the events had been held over the three weeks. He was closely followed at 8.05pm by a very frustered and somewhat dirty looking Amy.  Right it’s now or never he decided.

“Thanks everyone for coming or should I say, in case the kids are listening, Go raibh maith agat do gach duine chun teacht.”   He realised he was laughing at his own joke like a delirious teenager, and tried to compose himself before he continued.  I know I sent you all notes and you are all probably wondering why...  They all looked from one to the other, as they realised, they hadn’t been the sole recipient of John’s note. They began to doubt whether his intentions had been what they had originally thought. 

“Well I never thought I would meet someone here, and even more so, fall in love with them.  I have and I  wanted to share this special moment with everyone.”   Juliette smoothed out her tight dress as she moved forward.  Susan began to giggle like one of the kids and Amy having been distracted by the tightness of Susans dress tried to tune into the conversation again.   None of them noticed Kevin as he walked forward and grabbed John’s hand. 

I’d like you all to meet my new partner in  crime and the love of my life, Kevin.  No-one heard the grasbs of shock from each other as it was drowned out by the  noise of the shieks and squiks from the kids as they all watched John and Kevin share their first public kiss.

(c) copyright Valerie Healy – 7th February 2012

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Sea of Souls...

Hey everyone,

Well I decided to write my short story on the following four elements left in the last comments.

Genre: Fantasy Fiction
Emotional setting: Tension and suspense/fear
Location: Pirate ship around the 1700's
Someone to include: A kidnapped maiden with a dark secret ;)

I hope you like my story and my effort to include all the elements requested.  Dont forget to leave me your comments, good and bad and also your four elements for my next short story that I will post at the end of the month..  Go on.... leave me a comment and a new challenge!  It is keeping me out of trouble so please join in!!

The sea of souls

The Sea of Souls

“Tell us how to get to the Icicle of Life, Princess Fenra, we don’t have much time left” The captain roared into her face, his patience torn and frustration raging through his nerves.

 “I WILL NEVER TELL YOU!! NEVER! Fenra screamed back at him, he didn’t frighten her, no one did!

The Captain slapped her hard across the face with the back of his hand. “You stupid, stupid girl... don’t you know what you are doing”

 Realising that his violent methods were not getting through to her, he tried to appeal to her emotional, softer side.

 “Princess Fenra, you can avenge the death of your twin sister, Corin as the Icicle of Life will show you who killed her, your majesty, don’t you want to know that and see this evil person meet the same wicked fate as your beloved sister.

Fenra stood up from where she had fallen against the crates in the corner of her underground prison and circled the Captain staring back at him as she moved, “I may be a fair maiden to you captain but I know that you will be granted eternal life by the icicle of life for bringing me there and this and only this is the reason you have kidnapped me”

There was a sudden jolt from under the large pirate ship, throwing everyone on board to the hard timber floors. 

“Captain Captain, come quickly”…  Forgetting about Fenra, the Captain raced up the stairs two at a time to see what was happening with his beloved ship.

“Captain, we cannot move the ship out of this course we are now on, we have tried but…..” In annoyance at his staff’s incompetence, he grabbed the steering wheel but found he was also unable to move it.

“But where are we going Tinus”, he looked at his 2nd in commander in confusion.

“The Sea of Souls, Captain… The sea of souls” Tinus replied lowering his head as if in reverence to what they were about to face.

Fenra realised that the Captain had not locked the day properly in his haste to get upstairs and creeping quietly up the stairs, Fenra planned her escape, over the side of the ship.  She didn’t care if they all died, but she wasn’t waiting around for it to happen to her.  She stayed still at the top of the stairs listening as Tinus explained everything to the Captain...

The Sea of Souls was created by the King and Queen after the tragic death of Corin, mainly to protect Fenra from any harm.  It is said that the souls pull the ship down under the water, feeding from the souls of the people on board until only a human shell remains that floats to the bottom of the sea forever. These souls are the souls of all the people who have been wrongfully murdered and they will swim here in the sea until their deaths are avenged.  Once their deaths are avenged, they are free and they will move on to the next world and a next life and their murderer will then remain trapped in the sea of souls in their place.

Sea of souls, what rubbish, Fenra thought, as she moved towards the side of the ship, two more feet to freedom. How ironic she thought if she was to perish now in the creation her parents made to protect her.  She could hear a faint moaning sound in the distance and she felt it was sucking out of her all her strength and energy making her movements laboured and slow.   The ship rocked from side to side growing in veriousity as a scrapping noise started at the back of the ship pulling the large pirate ship into the sea and the howls and moans grow louder and louder surrounding the ship.   Waves of water came flooding onto the deck sending the ship and its crew in to their watery grave. Fenra rolled across the deck crashing into the captain and Tinus in the middle as they were all dragged to the back of the ship with the rest of the crew. 

“This is it Captain, the souls are taking us down to suck the life out of us all” said Tinus solemnly to the Captain... “COME ON FENRA… you can stop this... do something” yelled the captain over the waves of water rushing across the deck. 

“I’m afraid I can’t Captain… even if I wanted too... I am not the pure maiden you think I am”

 “But only you and Corin are pure of soul... FENRA you are our only hope”

“Then you have no hope Captain….

Suddenly the ship became still and the waters surrounding them became still. Tinus whispered as if he was afraid to speak out loud in case he disturbed the souls, “Captain, this is it now, someone on this ship has wronged a soul here and they are about to be taken.  It is good in one way Captain because it means the ship won’t be taken only one very evil person on board that the sea wants” 

The crew, everyone all looked from one to the other, judging if the other person looked guilty and racking their brains to remember if they had done anything bad, sick to their stomachs as they waited to see who was about to be dragged to the most horrendous death known. But the ship remained still, not a sound, not a ripple in the water, nothing!  Fenra got up and looked over the side of the ship, the surrounding waters were like glass completely see-through and Fenra could see straight to the sandy bottom beneath the ship.  Maybe they had made it out of the sea of souls, she wondered…

“Captain”, she turned back to the deck, “Do you think we have made …..” looking at their horrified faces, she slowly looked back over her left shoulder.  A giant wall of water was forming at the side of the ship, growing bigger and bigger in size, blocking out any daylight from the sun above, casting the ship into darkness below. As the soul behind the wall was slowly revealed, the Captain once again pleaded with Fenra to save the ship.

“Fenra, please you can save us all, you are the princess of the land, you can command the souls to leave us alone because of your innocence and goodness, and they must obey you”… Please continued the Captain...

“Oh my Captain, have you got a guilty conscience, are you worried this soul has come for you” Fenra threw her head back as she mocked the Captain and his crew and their desperation to escape.

“NO I have come for you!”  boomed a very familiar voice behind Fenra.  Fenra began to laugh as she looked at the giant ghost of her sister, her laughter turning to tears as she looked up into the face of her beloved sister Corin.

“I’m sorry I killed you Corin”, I had only meant to hurt you that day not kill you” pleaded Fenra.  Corin waved her hand causing a huge wind and knocking the ship and the crew over on its side...

“I don’t care Fenra, I don’t care anymore... you were always selfish and jealous and nasty and, well I can’t think of a better place for you to live out eternally than the sea of souls.  Surrounded by other nasty souls just like you.

“But will I never be able to take another soul and release myself from here and move on to the next world. 

“No, and that my beloved sister is my parting gift to you, instead you will live in misery surrounded by despair and hurt and anger... all the things you caused other people all your life”.

“But Sis..”  Fenra started to protest but Corin had started to take her into the sea of souls.  The Captain and his crew watched in amazement as Fenra was lifted from the ship into the mist that surrounded Corin.   Fenra’s ghostly body fell  into the sea below and Corin’s rose up into the clouds, her soul now free to move onto her next life.

The sea returned to its calm self and the captain and the crew relieved they had all survived, busied themselves once more with their duties, and getting the ship back on course.  Suddenly out of the calm waters the ghost of Fenra rose from the water and she laughed at the captain..

“You didn’t think I would let you go did you Captain”… “See if the icicle of life is that way?” and opening her mouth.. She let out the biggest wind ever which whipped up the ship and carried it in the sky below the waters, turning over and over again before it landed against the rocks and smashed to pieces...

The last the captain heard was Fenra’s sinister laugh and her words as she splashed back under the water to await her next victim...”I think Im going to love it here”!!!

Monday, 9 January 2012

New Challenges for 2012 - Your Help Needed!!

This year apart from the ordinary challenges facing an aspiring writer like writing a novel or two, I thought I would add an additional challenge to my year as well as the usual losing weight and getting fit new year resolutions.  Well I do love a challenge, I wouldnt have decided to be a writer if it was the easy road I wanted to travel.

So with this challenge in mind, I need your help.. yes, you included, all of you! Does anyone remember who's line is it anyway.  This was a programme where a panel of comedians would be put on the spot by the audience who would call out random situations for them to act out and make funny.  Well what I am trying to do is a "Who's line is it anyway" for a writer.  I plan to write a short story every two weeks and post it here.  Thats the easy part and  where you come in.  I want you to tell me what to write about and I will pick someone's comments each week and attempt to write an entertaining story for you all to enjoy. 

This could prove to be a great way for me to awaken my imagination and explore my writing ability or it could be a complete diaster ! Lets pray its the first one..  So come closer, are you listening, this is what I need you to do...  I will post my stories every two weeks based on the four elements outlined in a comment left after the previous story.  All you have to do is read the story, enjoy it (fingers crossed) and then let me know the following elements for the next story choosing one item from each of the following categories  which are genre, emotional setting, location, person/thing

Genre: for example, childrens, crime, fantasy, romance etc..
Emotional setting : for example, funny, humourous, sad, heart-breaking..
location: for example, park, spa, office, haunted house etc..
Someone/something to include: policeman, nurse, nun ,school bag..

I have included a story to get us started and the four elements for this one would be..

Genre - Childrens
Emotional Setting - Scary (well scary for children scary)
Location - Dunmore East, waterford
Someone/something to include: a power cut...

Hope you have the idea and hope together we can have some fun in writing (me) and reading (you hopefully) the results..

The stairs creaked under Amy’s feet and the dim landing light cast eerie dark shadows onto the high walls and ceiling.  She willed her heart to stop thumping against her chest and her breathing to quiet down so that she could listen to the sound. This is madness, she thought, here I am moving towards the noise when I should be running away in the other direction.  The rain was beating down against the windows and in the distance she could hear the low mumble of thunder as the storm was headed their direction.  Typical Irish Summer thought Amy but it didn’t help to settle her nerves.

As she got closer to the bottom of the stairs, she could hear laughter coming from the sitting room where her older brother and sister were apparently oblivious to what was happening outside.  Laughing their heads off at some new comedian they were.  “It’s not suitable TV for your little ears,” her mother would say. Her Mum and Aunt had gone down to the local pub for the evening.  Her mum needed the break, Amy knew that but she really needed her mum now.

Amy jumped and shivered as a large dark shadow behind her caught the corner of her eye. She willed her heart back down from her throat into her chest.  She didn’t want to draw any attention to herself as she didn’t know what she was about to face.  Turning around suddenly, she realised the dark shadow on the wall was her own. She smiled to herself, she needed to calm herself down.  Her nerves were gone in this place.

She hated this old house they were staying in.  It was their Aunts House in Dunmore East and they were there for a week’s holiday.  A week’s torture was more like it, thought Amy.  The house was about 100 years old and it creaked and moaned especially at night and Amy hated it.   Everything about the house was dull and dark, from the old fashioned oak furniture from the 1950’s to the dim light fittings that cast little light around the house, just dark creepy corners and giant shadows on the walls. It was so isolated too apart from Mr Pritchard, the mad neighbour down the road that at night the silence became so loud it was unbearable.  That was until tonight. Something her brother and sister seemed unnoticed by.  But there it was again, no mistaking the sound.

Tap, tap, and tap on the glass coming from the back of the house.  It was so much louder and quicker now.  Amy started to panic.  Whatever was making that noise was getting angrier and wanted in to the house no matter what!   Throwing open the living room door, she rushed in to be greeted by the shocked faces of her brother and sister.  “Can’t you hear that tapping”, she gushed at them.  “Something or someone is trying to get into the house, and I don’t know……..” “Calm down sis.”  Her older brother Toby, always the big brave man guided her to the armchair by the door and turned the volume on the TV down.  “Amy,” he sighed, “every-time we come here, you do this, imagine all sorts and it’s never anything at all”.  Toby tried to reason with her, “Please go to bed and sleep, its nothing other than the wind and the rain.”  Amy looked her brother directly in the eye … “not this time brother, listen……”

The three of them stared from one to the other as they sit still and listened. The wind howled around the old house and beat sheets of rain hard against the windows but just above the din of the weather, there is was.  TAP, TAP, TAP… It was blasting against the back of the house.  Amy couldn’t be sure but she thought a look of terror passed on Toby’s face as the sound got faster and increasing louder. It was coming from behind the heavy red velvet curtains that covered the French doors at the back of the house.  What was making that tapping sound?? They all shivered inside not knowing what it was, but one thing was certain.  It wasn’t going away until it got into the house.  “Do something Toby and fast” Julia piped up. At the sound of Julia’s voice, Toby jumped out of his seat like he had just woken up from a trance.  “Relax girls, its nothing” laughed Toby.  “I’ll sort it”…

The three of them all screamed together, Toby’s being the loudest as a gigantic bang of thunder sounded out above them and with a flash of lightening, the house was thrown into inky blackness. Panic followed as they each tried to search out the other in the darkness, feeling their way forward with their arms.  They grabbed tightly onto each other as the Tapping sound now turned into a menacing knock on the glass. It seemed to be gaining more force now just like the storm.  Toby moved in the direction of the knocking, causing the girls to scream out again as they frantically searched for him in the dark, grabbing onto the back of his jeans and shirt for comfort.  Toby got out his mobile and hit the screen lighting up his face and the room slightly.  “Come on girls”, he said, “there has to be a rational reason for the noise and it’s probably just the storm outside causing something to hit against the glass.  The girls looked doubtfully at him but undeterred Toby moved slowly towards the red curtains.  He had to move slowly as his two sisters were dragging out of his shirt behind him, hitting him hard in the back when he came to a sudden stop.  This room seemed a lot longer in the half light from his phone but Toby knew he had to be the brave one… Although, he didn’t feel very brave just now.

“Ok, on the count of 3, I will pull the curtain back and shine the light from my mobile at the window so we can see what it is” continued Toby, feeling more confident that it was nothing to worry about.  He pulled back the curtains when suddenly there was another clap of thunder overhead and a flash of lightening lit up the back garden revealing the cause of the knocking sound.

All three of them jumped back away from the glass as they stared at the ghostly white shape pushed up against the window. The ghost continued to knock hard on the glass as it seemed to hoover above the ground. It was horrible and it had no legs and no arms and it was sliding along the glass as if it was looking for a way in.  The half-light on toby’s mobile went out again leaving them in darkness and stunned silence.  There was another clap of thunder and lightning and they stared out into the garden.  The ghostly white shape now seemed to be flying around the garden a few feet from the window.  The stormy wind was blowing the ghost in all directions.  “It’s looking for another way in” screamed Amy, as they all stared helpless at the alien being in the garden... 

Toby pulled the curtains back closed, his hands shaking now.  “Go get the number of the pub in the village and we will ring mum and our Aunt to come back,” Toby commanded his voice not too steady now either, “….quickly before this thing finds a way into the house”.  Reluctantly the girls still holding each other tight took toby’s mobile and shuffled their way into the kitchen not knowing where they were going in the dim light of the mobile phone.  Just as they reached the fridge door with the numbers on it, the electricity was restored in the house lighting up all the rooms again and the sound of laughter came once more from the TV.

As the girls grabbed the post it pads, they looked puzzled at each other as they realised that the laughter was from Toby not the TV.  “Quickly girls” he gushed, “come see”.  The girls rushed back into the living room and stared out in amazement. Waving frantically at them from the middle of the garden was Mr Pritchard, a white bed sheet at his feet. “Sorry kids, I seem to have got myself into a bit of a muddle.  I lost my keys and while looking for them I lost my glasses and I seem to have walked into the washing line on my way over.  I was hoping I could shelter in your house until I got myself sorted.  Sorry about that, Hope I didn’t give you a fright...”

In unison the three of them all chorused “no, no of course not Mr Pritchard, we weren’t frightened at all! While secretly all three of them were relived that Toby and not Amy had been right...

(c) Valerie Healy - September 2011