A New NaNoWriMo Challenge?

Hey guys! It’s that time of year where people write stories because it’s November! Last year, I did a similar thing, but this year’s will be different, owing to the fact that, well, I don’t want to write thirty stories again!


So what is the NaNoWriMo challenge? Well, normally people write a 50,000 word manuscript between November 1st and November 30th. I don’t have the patience or the mental capacity for that (plus writer’s block is horrible), so I decided, like last year, to dedicate it to short stories. For fairness, I may try and aim for them to be 500 to 1,000 words apiece, if I can manage that. So it’s my own NaNoWriMo challenge, with a purpose of having a first draft of potential short stories for later (this worked for some of the works that I did last year!).

My Personal Rules (for staying sane):

  1. Every contribution goes live on a Sunday (not including today)
  2. A theme or prompt is usually really bloody handy.
  3. Don’t sweat if you can’t write one day.
  4. Have fun!

Last year I did a huge writing challenge, and I had a story posted for every day of November. It was a hard slog, and it wore thin towards the end. However, some of those submissions are being reworked for…a new purpose. Read all about last November’s writing challenge in the provided link!

After all of the submissions have been posted, check out my Twitter, as there will be a poll up, so that you can decide what short story goes in my book!

And on that note, I’ll check in with my first story on Sunday 8th November!

Writer’s Block – How To Cope

Yeah don’t take my advice to heart, because every person is different. I do like the featured image that I found – credit to Grammarly!


Throughout the two months of self-isolation and lockdown, there has been a lot of time to get a lot of writing done. As you can tell, I’ve been uploading almost every day for a while, and for a while, I hadn’t stopped. It was everything from writing silly posts to writing short story drafts for a book and for Wattpad. But I got to a point where I sat at my computer and just stared at the screen for hours on end, having typed maybe two paragraphs at most.

Ladies, gentlemen and every other non-binary gender, welcome to writer’s block!

It was horrible to go through the agonising feeling of not being able to face writing about something. It happened on Sunday night, after Community Day. I sat down and started writing the Top 10 Dragon-type post, and my mind just went blank. I suddenly found it impossible to write about Drampa, and I gave up, shut my computer down and relaxed for the rest of the night.

On Monday, I decided that I wasn’t going to write at all. I sat back and played Animal Crossing for a while, and then went into my weekly Mindset Mondays meeting. I discussed that I was having problems with writer’s block, and I was told I was doing good by giving it a break, and that I could even write about having writer’s block!

Tuesday, I didn’t write either, but I did plan out what I was going to have submitted for June on a list, and I could cross them off when I was done. This helped me get some ideas going, and I came up with some new ones pretty easily.

On Wednesday, I started writing again, feeling way more refreshed than before. And there we have it!


My main problem with having writer’s block was that I wasn’t giving myself days off. I was writing every day (bear in mind I’m still unemployed), but I couldn’t really find the motivation to do anything. And then I started to doubt my own writing capabilities and what I was doing. But I’m going to get used to having frequent breaks.

My solution is to have two days a week without writing at all. I may do other activities related to writing, such as playing games or doing some research and planning. But it’s going to be a hard rule, so that I can have two days without worrying about getting a post out that’s due in July/August time.

I always feel proud of myself when I get several posts submitted and scheduled, because it’s like a sense of accomplishment. And that’s what I strive for in my day-to-day life.

My Thoughts on February’s Writing Challenge

At the end of January, I announced a new writing challenge, but instead of writing 30 short stories, I was going to open up the criteria so that any post that I wrote would count towards the challenge.

This gave me a lot more freedom to think and consider, and I wasn’t limiting myself to any singular kind of post. For November’s version, I exclusively did short stories – this did not leave me with much room to plan other posts and schedule them, nor did I have the time to think of a different kind of post. It was hard writing these short stories while also writing about the Colossal Discovery event, for example. I’d felt burned out with writing stories, and it shows in the quality of some of them, I think. However, it gave me the perfect opportunity to use all of the prompts that my good friend Tim had delivered for a separate project of his.

This time, I had different kinds of posts to work with, and I’d already had some Pokemon lists scheduled, so I just needed to plan around that. Minccino Research Day and Rhyhorn Community Day were also posts that I was going to work on after the fact. Everything else came as it did.

The system also gave me the motivation to write the things that I had put off for a while, such as the posts about the places I’d been to, as well as different Pokemon-related posts. I also planned to have bonus short stories in the case that I didn’t have an idea for a new post to come that day – and I exercised that option a few times.

Will I do something like this again? Absolutely. I found it a lot more refreshing than the previous challenge, and I didn’t feel nearly as burnt out from the process. I actually started working on a new project towards the end of this challenge, and I can’t wait to get it finished!


Sorry, this is a short post. There’s not a whole lot that I can say without waffling about, so I’m finding the perfect spot to end this post. Thank you all for your continued support!

Revealing The Tools I Use To Write

I got the idea for this post randomly, and it’s basically a bit of filler into how I go about my planning process for my posts and story ideas, as well as other projects I may be working on.

It pretty much stretches from the planning process to the actual writing and how I manage to do it. So without further ado, here I go!


Planning

I’ve never taken much stock in planning stuff, and I usually just wrote stuff down in notebooks. But recently, I’ve taken to using a planner like this one from TK Maxx. I managed to get a 17-month planner, that runs from August 2019 until the end of December 2020, and I’ve planned every single iota of my life through this planner. I love it so much, and I’m happy I managed to find it! I make notes of when I need to schedule incomplete posts for and highlight them when they’re scheduled.

Note-taking

For writing normal notes, I usually buy this kind of notebook from Wilko, but I’ve just started using this one from Neon Sheep. Neon Sheep is a relatively new shop that’s opened up in Lincoln, and I had to get this notebook because it fills me with motivation every time I take it out. Honestly, I’ve taken it upon myself to use up every notebook that I have lying around the house until I’m allowed to buy more because I’ve had a habit of buying more notebooks for the sake of buying notebooks.

Pens/pencils

I rarely use pens for note-taking anymore, unless I’m writing on letters (the usual ‘return to sender’ malarkey). Instead, I’ve started using pencils, just in case I write something in my planner and it gets rescheduled – and then I can easily erase the appointment or submission. So I use some simple, cheap pens you could get from the local stationery store.

My new favourite thing for planning now is my set of highlighters! I bought this set of pastel-coloured highlighters from Wilko a while back, and I’m so happy that I did! Not only do they look pretty, but I’ve also colour-coordinated all of my submissions and bill schedule. For example, when a bill is paid, I highlight that bill in green, whereas when a planned submission is finished and scheduled, I highlight it in orange.

Ring-bound Folder and Paper

I’m working on a campaign for World of Darkness, and I have a ring-bound folder and paper purely for all of my planning. Of course, there will be some stuff printed, but I want to be able to go to my notes when something happens in-game or to check the rules for my homebrew ideas and items.

I would use a laptop for all of this, but it takes more time, and I would be using that for my soundtracks.

The Actual Stuff

I do my blogging purely on WordPress, it’s just so easy to keep drafts on here! As for what computer I blog with – I actually have two. My main computer is a custom-build by a friend of mine who works in the industry, and I’ve had it nearly four years now (I also stream using this computer). My fail-safe is my laptop, which I’ve had for a few months now, and it’s so compact and easy to use when I don’t feel like sitting at a desk, and instead like lying in bed and typing (especially if I have other injuries come up).

However, I usually prefer writing on my main computer, as I have a dual-monitor set-up to help me research and watch videos while also doing the work on the other screen. Not only that, I tried doing some research for an upcoming series on my laptop, and I got such a bad migraine, so I had to change to my computer to get the work done.

I’ve been commended on my fast typing by people on my Intro to Teaching Assistant, as they aren’t that great with computers and I’ve been using them since I was about 9 years old. I’ve near enough grown with computers and I’ve been writing short stories since I was 12, I would say. I just kept them hidden from everyone for a very long time.


I want to know what sort of tools you guys use to make your thoughts a reality! Let me know in the comments what your kind of set-up consists of!

A Fateful Event – Short Story Saturdays

Today marks the last Short Story Saturday of the month, but it’s not the end! Actually, I decided to carry on doing these, because I’ve been having fun writing them. I grabbed yet another prompt for this one:

Amazon has invented time travel and introduced pre-emptive shipping. Today, you receive something completely unexpected from your future self.’

I was reminded of an Amazon delivery I’d had last week when it came to writing this!


The intercom rang for me, and I jumped off the sofa, eager to reach the phone. I picked it up, and greeted with a questioning ‘Hello?’

‘It’s Amazon!’ the voice greeted back. I hadn’t ordered anything from Amazon since Christmas, I thought to myself. I thought I’d humour the guy, nonetheless.

‘I’ll buzz you through,’ I spoke, before pressing the red button and putting the phone back into its holster. I decided to check my Amazon account, just in case someone had cheekily bought me something from my wishlist – I wasn’t that lucky in the end. I mean, it was my birthday last week, I thought to myself before the Amazon guy knocked on the door. I almost ran to the door, unlocking it and the courier handed me the package with a quick ‘See ya!’ before heading off. I could only mumble a small ‘thanks’ before closing and locking the door.

I walked back into the living room and opened the package, which was a standard envelope-style, which could have easily fit through the letterbox. Inside the package was a book. A small book. I didn’t recognise the author, nor the title, but from what I could tell, it was a book with an abundance of short stories. It definitely wasn’t on my wishlist, that much I could tell. It also came with a bookmark – someone out there knew that I kept misplacing all of my bookmarks and had to keep buying replacements. It was a cute bookmark with the Slytherin crest on. So someone knows I’m a Slytherin, too. And that’s when the realism hit me – they knew my address, too!

I sat at my computer, contemplating what to do. My first instinct was to start Googling the book and the author, but then I stopped myself. A small niggling feeling came to the back of my head, telling me to check on my blog instead. I had started writing a blog but went into what was supposed to be a brief hiatus. That hiatus lasted nearly two years, and this was the first that I’d thought about it since.

Does it have something to do with this book?

I loaded up my blog analytics and found some notifications. When I went on to a hiatus, I wasn’t gaining any views, and I felt it a pointless venture. But that notification meant that someone had read my work in the past two years.

Marcus commented: it’s great to see another blogger doing this kind of content! It’s a shame you’re on a hiatus, but hit me up if you want to discuss things.” The person named Marcus left his Twitter handle in the comments, and I looked him up. It was then I’d realised where his name was familiar – he was the author of the book that I’d just had delivered. I launched straight into his Direct Messages and started messaging.

“Hi, you commented on my blog a little while back. I just wanted to thank you for visiting the blog. I’ve just had your book delivered randomly today.” I wrote, feeling myself shaking as I started the message.

“Hi! Thanks for getting back in touch! Amazon does time travel now, you can pre-emptively ship to your past self,” Marcus wrote back. When I read the last message, I felt like the dumbest person alive. Amazon had only recently launched pre-emptive shipping, so the concept felt alien to me. Of course, I could bypass the Amazon Prime payments and make sure that I have the products when I wanted them.

A week had passed, and I’d made my first blog post in two years, as well as holding conversations with Marcus. It was then that I decided to send my past self a little gift.

I bought that book, as well as the bookmark, and selected the option to send it to myself for this date. Of course, I wouldn’t be relaunching my blog and talking to someone new if I didn’t buy my past self the book, would I? With that in mind, I knew I’d set up my own fateful encounter.

Negotiations – Bonus Short Story

I’m here with a new short story, because why not? I did mention that if I ran out of ideas for a post, I’d do a bonus short story, so here we are!

I wanted to do this prompt because I want to get into a different kind of romance, instead of the cheese-fest we’ve had before:

‘When your character’s country loses a long war, your character is tasked with negotiating the surrender. The person across the table holds the fate of both countries in their hands … and they’re pretty darn cute, too.’


I looked ahead at the person who held my future in his hands. His stoic expression left me too scared to even put a hair out of line. I gulped, afraid of this man, but entranced by his green eyes, boring into me. I tried to look anywhere other than at his eyes, but he was just…

Huh, he’s kinda cute for an enemy, I thought to myself, as I straightened up.

‘I’m here to negotiate my terms of Eldoor’s surrender to Lumaria. I am sure we can figure something out,’ I announced. The Lumarian court chamber was enormous, and with so little furniture, my voice echoed horribly. The man across the table narrowed his eyes. His guards flanked towards him, weapons drawn. He waved almost too casually with his arms, and the guards retreated to their original positions.

‘State your name and position,’ he said. His voice was controlled, it didn’t echo through the chamber. His voice was serious, deep and alluring. Oh no.

‘My name is Ellie Stewart. I am a soldier of the Infiltration and Espionage team,’ I replied, controlling my own voice so that it did not echo.

‘Troy Bryant, leader of Lumaria. I see that you are part of the Infiltration and Espionage team. How do I know you don’t have your men here already?’ the man named Troy barked. I stood my ground.

‘We have lost everything. I am the only survivor in my team. Your men defeated ours. I am only here to negotiate current terms to end this war. We have fought for twenty years. I was born into this war. I was trained when I was five years old. Our numbers are now too few to revolt against you. I do not want these negotiations to be any more difficult than they already are.’ Troy nodded in agreement, unclenching his hands that were clasped together.

‘Very well. Any betrayal from these negotiations will result in your death. Do you understand?’ Troy asked. I knew that would be the case, but it didn’t stop me from being scared of him. It was hard enough, but I was also scared of how cute he was when he was an- no!

‘I understand,’ I responded, feigning confidence. Did he see through it? Most likely. Would he take advantage of it? Definitely.

‘I have been requested for several years to take a wife. Even now that the war is over, times are turbulent. I am required to take a wife and produce heirs. Even though you are an enemy, I have decided that all you are required to do for your country is to enter a marriage with me. You appear to be a suitable candidate’

MARRIAGE? Okay, act cool. You are here to negotiate. What can he offer in return?

‘If I become your wife, what will you do in return?’ I asked confidently, knowing that he would have to give me something in return for the marriage.

‘I would ensure that our nations stop fighting each other. Call it a small alliance, if you will. However, if you betray the marriage, you will be sentenced to death, and I will go to war with Eldoor again.’ I was floored. I’d never even had my first kiss, and here I was, being proposed to in order to save my country from further destruction.

‘A question, if I may,’ I requested, with Troy nodding for me to continue, ‘Why is it that you are offering me the marriage when there are other women in your country who would be more than happy to service you?’ To my surprise, Troy remained calm at my question. He seemed to be in thought, deliberating. Then, he finally spoke:

‘A marriage between myself and a woman from my country would not be beneficial to either of us. Here, I am offering your country guaranteed ceasefire. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. You are talented and loyal. Unfortunately, Eldoor would not stop the war. I have been trying in vain for the past five years to end this war. Hopefully, our union will unite both of our countries. I do not want to have to kill you and start a fresh war.’ When Troy explained the situation and reasons, I felt his stress and pain of running a country constantly locked into war. I hadn’t wanted to fight either, but everyone that could fight had to fight.

‘I would have nothing to gain from betraying the terms of the negotiation. I have decided to accept the terms of the negotiation. I will marry you.’

It was only then when the guards loosened their composure. Troy stood, beckoning me to his side. I could feel my face warming up, being in close proximity to a cute man for the first time without the killing intent.

In the end, I was sure we would come to love each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Time – Short Story Saturdays

I couldn’t bring myself to finish Drowning in Jealousy, so I bring you this plot bunny instead. I got a prompt, and it was one that I hopped on board with straight away.

‘She said her final words and left, there’s no turning back now.’

Be warned guys, this may get a little… lewd.


The rainfall reflected our moods perfectly. The sky outside was gloomy for a summer’s day, and I couldn’t tell where the rain stopped and her tears began. She’d reluctantly come inside, but I assumed she’d only come to pack some of her belongings.

‘I don’t know…what to say,’ I started. It was the first we’d spoken in a week. Kate had gone to her parents’. She looked haggard from the experience, and she hadn’t taken care of herself, that much I could tell.

‘You cheated,’ she replied. That phrase constricted my chest. I hadn’t considered the enormity and the emotions those two words emitted until they were spoken, laid bare for me. It was true – I couldn’t resist. Our marriage had been torn apart by our work schedules and lack of intimacy. I craved even just the verbal affection that she used to give me.

But it changed when I found an artist online. Her name was Elizabeth. Her work spoke to me like no other had done, and I started following, complimenting her work. She didn’t gain much traction, but that was a shame – her paintings were amazing, and better yet that she was local. She seemed to be a newer artist, and she responded that my comments helped her believe that her art was meaningful. She kept on painting, and soon, I was seeing her work in the local cafes, and she had her own exhibit in the art gallery. I was mesmerised by her work, but that’s all it was, or so I thought.

The more I spoke to her, the more I realised we were alike. She was single, though, but wary of relationships. It became common for me to look forward to talking to her and feeling low around Kate.

Kate kept bringing up the possibility of children, but I put it off, claiming to want to have a steady income before children were even a consideration. While that was true, I felt deep down that I didn’t want to have children – with her, anyway.

But on the flip-side, there I was, arranging to meet Elizabeth for coffee dates and discussions about art. I wasn’t an artist myself, but it was a conversation I could slip into – she talked about it so passionately, and I was able to keep up once she had me memorise the terminology. And then somehow, the conversations became more personal, about our lives away from work. Some days, they became heated, talking about our sex lives and what kinks we had. She’d discussed a passion for outdoors sex, something that Kate would never have done.

Kate was conveniently ill on the night of the local gala, and so I went alone. Elizabeth happened to be there, sitting at my table, and the alcohol was flowing beautifully. I’d never forgotten how Elizabeth looked that night – a red dress cut to show her cleavage and a large seam cut to near the top of her thigh, and her hair tied up in an elegant ponytail. After the conversations we’d been having, I’d wanted her that night. After a few drinks, one thing led to another, and I had taken her against the wall around the back of the hotel where the gala was being held. I’d felt guilty over the course of the next week until Elizabeth had proposed we talked it out. But again, that meeting ended with us redressing after another tryst.

I wasn’t sure how we’d made it five months without being caught. Like a classic take of a cheater caught out, Kate came home early from work, to find Elizabeth’s car parked outside, and caught us in the act, with Elizabeth bent over the kitchen table. I hadn’t noticed, only when we’d finished and I found Kate’s wedding ring posted through the letterbox, and she’d blocked me on all of the socials. It was then that I had pieced the scenario together. I was careless, bringing Elizabeth over, but I could not resist at the time.

Now here Kate was, a week later, seemingly ready to have a conversation.

‘Yes, I did cheat. There’s…there’s no excuse.’ I didn’t even bother apologising, it would have been empty. I didn’t have the fight in me to fight for this marriage now, it had gone too far.

‘How long?’ Kate asked, voice shaking. She didn’t want to know, but it was the question that springs to the lips of anyone who has been cheated on.

‘Five months,’ I responded, not willing to lie to her now. She sat on the very edge of the sofa. She was white now, the colour had drained.

‘So all of those “meetings” and “appointments” you had?’ she questioned, air-quoting the necessary words.

‘Yes.’

‘Why? Why would you do this after all of this time? We’ve been married for five years! Did that mean anything to you?’ she spoke it softly, and that hurt more than if she’d shouted at me. I couldn’t answer. I stood in silence as she stood up and walked up to our bedroom, and I was silently glad that Elizabeth had left just half an hour prior. I could hear the rummaging around our closet and drawers, and then towards our bathroom. Then I saw her, marching down the stairs towards the front door. She stopped for a moment, before digging through her handbag, and dropping off her set of keys. She opened the front door, and I followed her.

We stood outside. I didn’t know why I was trailing her. Thinking about it now, it was probably something to do with the five years we’d been married. It was still raining, so we were both soaked.

‘Adriana will be back for the rest of my things. I’ll only see you during the divorce proceedings. I hope you’ll comply and make this easy,’ she said her final words and left. There’s no turning back now.

Teaching You How To Dance – Bonus Short Story

Hey all! I was originally going to write a post for Lickitung Raid Day, but I decided to write a short story instead. And I’ve had this plot bunny in my head the past few days, and I wanted to write it down before I lost it! There’s plenty of cheese ahead, so apologies for anyone who is lactose intolerant!

I was listening to this song while writing this, so I kinda went with this song for the dance number.


It truly was the perfect day for a wedding. Alex and Nora’s union was a true fantasy, from the beautiful spring-time outdoors ceremony to the outdoor reception. It seemed like everyone in town and beyond were in attendance, in order to celebrate this day. As if to emphasise the perfection, the weather had not turned the entire day.

The sun had long set, and the light was replaced with string lights around the area, most of them surrounding the dance floor, where the couples had started dancing to slow songs to close the celebration.

In the distance, Evie watched as all of her friends seemed to go off into pairs to dance. She decided to join Angela in the celebration, who was accompanied by Jack and Morgan, as well as her daughter, Mira.

‘Eveeee!’ Mira squawked, before waddling over to her. Evie giggled before picking up the toddler and carrying her back over to Angela.

‘Hey, guys! Is this where all the singles hang out?’ she joked, before handing Mira over to Angela.

‘Sure! Fancy a drink?’ Morgan swirled a bottle of spiced rum.

‘I’ll have some of the rum,’ Evie responded, and Morgan poured some of the rum into a hip flask before handing it to her.

‘I prefer the taste of whiskey if I do say so myself,’ Jack retorted, sipping at his flask of whiskey.

‘Either way, I can’t believe Alex got married before I did, and to Nora! Damn, he got lucky,’ Morgan drawled, ‘He was the last person I thought would have been married first!’

‘There’s still time, you’re only twenty-three,’ Angela replied, sipping her own hip flask. Meanwhile, Evie looked around at the people that weren’t dancing. She spotted Kelvin making conversation with his brother, Blake. Evie had always harboured romantic feelings for Kelvin, especially as they used to be childhood friends. It became more difficult when he started living abroad, but he came over specifically for the wedding. She turned back around, to chat to Angela and Morgan – Jack had disappeared in the shadows. She felt a light tap on her shoulder suddenly, and she turned to find Kelvin in front of her.

‘Hey Kelvin,’ she greeted cheerfully, trying not to let the rum go to her head.

‘Um, Evie? Do you mind if…if you teach me how to dance?’ Kelvin asked. Evie smiled, before approaching him and taking his hand in hers. She remembered then that Kelvin could never dance, and hadn’t been able to muster up the courage to for a long time, especially in public.

‘I don’t mind at all,’ she replied tenderly, before leading him to the dancefloor and throng of couples. Once there, she guided his right hand to her waist, holding his other hand in the air with her own. Her left arm rested on the arm around her waist, and she smiled.

‘Now that’s one of the ways to hold someone when you dance. And now we move,’ she spoke gently, and she was pleased that he was taking the lead, and was picking up the dancing easily. His steps were in sync to the slow song that was playing, and Evie had forgotten that this song was so long, but she was glad, as it meant she could dance with him for longer.

‘Remember to have fun with the dance. Enjoy the dance, and look at your partner too.’ Kelvin, while turning his gaze to Evie, pulled her closer, so that she would have to lock her arms around his neck, and he brought his other arm around her waist.

A flood of emotions swirled through Evie, and it took all of her willpower not to run away or kiss him. Kelvin was suddenly closer than she had anticipated, their noses almost touching. He started leaning in even closer, and Evie followed. Their lips were about to touch.

WHOOOOSH! BANG!

They pulled away to look up in the sky, where a multitude of fireworks was being let off. They exploded in a variety of colours and patterns. Evie turned back towards Kelvin, who had already turned to face her, and was closing the distance between them, gently brushing his lips against hers in their first kiss.

Yes, this was the perfect day for a wedding.

 

 

High Hopes – Short Story Saturdays

I’m putting off ‘Drowning in Jealousy’ for a week because I hit a huge road-block.

Instead, I grabbed a writing prompt when looking up different prompts, and it came from here. I liked the following:

‘You wake up on a beautiful Sunday morning, feeling happy and ready to take on the day. Then you remember. A wave of anxiety washes over you, and the beautiful day turns foreboding in an instant. Who are you? Where are you? What has happened to make you feel anxious and ruin your day?’

That was all I needed. There is a lot of swearing, but I have to stress that it is the characters. You know by now I don’t often swear in my posts, because I don’t find necessary ways of incorporating them.

I do have to mention there isn’t much cohesiveness with some of the spoken dialogue, but that’s how narcissists behave.


It was a beautiful Sunday morning to wake up to, even the alarm couldn’t put a dampener on the day ahead. I was ready and motivated for the first time this week, and I was ready to take on the world, never mind the day ahead. There was nothing that could-

Oh.

I remembered that there was something that I had to do, and a sudden wave of anxiety flooded me from my toes and rose up to my head. I felt dizzy, as though I’d been smothered. Thus, I laid back down.

Today was the day I had stupidly agreed to visit my parents alone. I would have gone with Quentin, but he had to work. My hand was forced – after all, the parents were persistent people.

I begrudgingly got out of bed and hopped into the shower, hoping it would calm my racing heart. When that failed, I resigned myself to going. I could already hear in my head their reactions if I bailed last minute – how I was a disappointment of a daughter, how I should be sectioned, the usual spiel.

*

Three hours and just as many anxiety attacks later, I had left the safety of my apartment, and in the horribly familiar setting that was my old street, where I had escaped a year ago. I trudged up to the door and tried to regulate my heart.

‘Had to have high, high hopes for a living, shooting for the stars when I couldn’t make a killing, didn’t have a dime but I always had a vision, always had high, high hopes,’ I could hear from outside the house. I felt nauseated just hearing that song, probably the worst song from that band for a multitude of reasons, and my PTSD being one of them. I so wanted to turn tail and run, but the side-door opened to my mother, in a dressing gown, followed by my bumbling father, already drunk. Both were about to have their cigarettes, and I got the greeting that would start off this encounter:

‘Oi!’ That greeting came from the father, whose voice always grated on my nerves. It was the kind of voice that sounded like something had permanently lodged in his throat. I rolled my eyes before making my approach.

‘Oh, hey,’ I responded.

‘Turn the fucking music down, you knobhead,’ my mother aimed the jibe at the father, and he retorted back:

‘No, you!’ I knew it was going to be a long afternoon.

*

Grey-rocking was something I had learned to do before moving out. The Amazon Alexa was sitting in the dining room, a far cry from when it was placed on the arm of the sofa right next to me. For that, I was slightly relieved. But for them to play High Hopes, my worst of the PTSD trigger songs. I’d grey-rocked most of the conversation – how are you, how’re the preparations before I start my new job, what hours would I be working, etc. Meanwhile, I noticed that the drinking problem hadn’t subsided – empty bottles of cider were strewn all over the living room floor, crates of beer were taking up space in the hallway, and I noticed as I looked around my old room, more expensive alcohol was being kept hidden from the father.

The mother was in the kitchen making some light snacks, and the father fell silent, and instead fell to drinking his cider and watching Law and Order. The air was tense, thick with uncertainty. I didn’t feel safe, and I knew I could escape, go home and bury myself under the covers and watch re-runs of Come Dine With Me to make myself feel better.

While in my current train of thought, the father huffed loudly before taking off into the kitchen. I busied myself with my phone, texting Quentin:

‘I shouldn’t have agreed to this, it’s horrible. I wish you were here right now xxxx’

I definitely wished Quentin was with me. Unfortunately, the parents chose a time and date when he was at work so that I would be isolated.

‘…on her phone, playing that stupid fuggin’ game,’ I heard the father bellow from the kitchen. I stiffened, my instincts kicking in, begging me to stay still, not breathe.

‘Like you’re any better with your drinking!’ the mother replied harshly. Well done, mum!

‘At least I have a fuggin’ job! What does she do? She cares more about that game than she does getting a job!’

‘She’s starting a job tomorrow!’ I heard the father scoff from in the kitchen. Of course, we’d already discussed my starting a new job, and then pretends the conversation never happened. Whatever fits his narrative, I suppose.

I was always supposed to be the lazy one, never interested in anything that wasn’t important. My graduation was ignored because I didn’t deserve to amount to anything. I managed to secure a job in the area I studied for, and he’s pissed it’s not a factory job.

‘She needs to stop deluding herself. She needs a factory job,’ he bellowed more. I knew it.

‘Not when she already has a job!’

‘SHE’S CRAZY! SHE’S MENTAL! SHE NEEDS FUGGIN’…LOCKING UP! Fuggin’…Alfie’s smarter than her, and he’s SIX!’ Alfie was my cousin that was on track for an ASBO before he turns 10. Of course, Alfie is smarter than me – in terms of being a rotten troublemaker.

At that point, I’d had enough. I just wanted to disappear from this place, and I knew that I could. I had my own home, I had my freedom. And so I stood up, gathered my belongings and started to leave.

‘Running away, are you?’ the father shouted from the kitchen.

‘No, just can’t be arsed with you, as usual. At least I have a home to get away from you.’

‘Yeah, just go fuggin’ running crying to Quentin, like usual!’ I felt rage coarse through me before I shook it off. No, I’m not that person anymore.

‘Well not really, considering all I’m doing is getting away from you. There’s no point arguing, there’s no point being logical. At least I don’t live here anymore.’

With that statement, accompanied by shaking hands, I opened the door and left the toxic environment.

*

‘Thanks, dear,’ I spoke, as Quentin handed me a tub of ice cream.

‘I wish I was there with you,’ he whispered, as he crawled into bed and wrapped his arms around me.

‘You’d be wishing you’d never gone, trust me,’ I responded, opening the tub of cookie dough ice cream, and began to chow down.

‘What about your mum?’

‘She’s asked me if I wanted to go round again so that he can apologise. I said I’d nip over on 30th February,’ I replied, waiting to see if Quentin would get the joke.

‘Well then,’ he replied, with a tone of voice signifying that he got the joke.

Scarlet Sun – A Date – Short Story Saturdays

Hey, this is one of those posts where I write a short story! I don’t have a prompt for this in particular, but this is kind-of an excerpt from a story I’m writing! I’m working on developing two side-characters here, one of which becomes very important! This excerpt would take place during the events of the first book, so there’s nothing too spoilery in here! I’d say call it an introduction to some of the characters. I may do more of these in the future.

They are actually named after a real-life couple, too! 

Enjoy!


Sophie Mercer couldn’t contain her excitement, as she sat in her room that she shared with Amara Baker, also accompanied by Ruby White and Charleen Bates.

‘I’m so freaking nervous, guys! What do you do on a date?’ Sophie looked around at her friends. Ruby shook her head and decided to reply on behalf of everyone.

‘Look, you’re asking Miss Never-Been-Kissed and Celibate over here,’ Ruby pointed to Charleen for emphasis, ‘You should be asking Amara, she’s the dirty-minded one of us all!’ Sophie threw her hands up in the air, before heading to her wardrobe and pulled out a black dress, which Ruby could already see had an opening on one of the thighs.

‘Will this look too dressy?’ Sophie asked, trying to divert the topic to one where everyone could contribute.

‘Depends. Where is he taking you?’ Charleen answered the question with another question.

‘Some kind of restaurant. Actually, yeah, this dress will be fine. I’m too nervous, guys!’ She slinked off to the en-suite to get ready.

*

‘I can’t lie, I was nervous about tonight,’ Liam Widnes admitted to Sophie. They had finished dinner and had come across the Eldoor docks. The street lights were equidistant from each other, with fairy lights hung in between them.

‘Why were you nervous? I was nervous, like, really nervous!’ Sophie replied, gently taking Liam by the hand in a comforting gesture.

‘I mean, you’re really attractive and I knew that when I talked to you, it was more than just about appearances for me. I mean, you look amazing tonight, and in general. I just…’. He paused and bit his lip. He knew he could be making a big mistake and would blow everything, but everything in his gut was telling him to carry on with what he wanted. With the hand that was holding Sophie’s, he guided her towards him and pressed his lips onto hers. She barely had time to register what he had done before he pulled away sheepishly.

‘Um…I’m sorry, I just really wanted to kiss you in the moment,’ he admitted, looking off to one side. Sophie giggled and pulled him along so that they could walk down the docks further.

‘It’s okay. I actually quite liked it. Maybe we could do more of that later?’ With that, they carried on walking in comfortable silence. He couldn’t help but notice that she walked with even more of a spring in her step than before.

*

It was during Creature Studies the next morning, where Sophie was able to speak to her friends. She had snuck back into the dorms after everyone else had gone to bed. But as the class was separated into groups to take care of a parliament of owls, she got the opportunity to discuss the date with Ruby, Charleen and Amara.

‘YOU’RE JOKING!’ Amara shouted, startling Chandra, the owl that the group were looking after, as well as the rest of the class.

‘Miss Baker, please be quiet,’ Professor Taylor spoke firmly, before turning her attention back to another group.

‘I’m not joking, and he was an absolute gentleman!’ Sophie beamed with happiness. She was dancing while preparing Chandra’s feed.

‘We’re happy for you, Soph!’ Ruby enthused alongside her.

‘Yes, yes we are. Now, for the next step,’ Amara announced, ‘Hooking Ruby up with Aeros!’ Ruby groaned in response. It was going to be a long day.