Friday Fictioneers : Ariadne leaves the maze

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot


 

Ariadne wove along the tangled path, through nodding rosebay willowherb and scabious, nettles snatching at her skirts.

Her mind wandered ahead to the hive, the warm, sweet buzz of the comb then back to him, his warmth. He was often sweet but always tinged sour with beer or sweat, hard words, hard hands.

The sound reached her first, a thousand singular insect voices weaving to form a low hum. The brown cloud enveloped her as she drew close, furry bodies bouncing against her hands, her cheeks, welcoming her.

‘He’s dead,’ she whispered.

She turned and followed the path back home.

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. Join in, read and share here.

At first glance there may seem no connection between my story and the prompt photograph, but the shapes in the net reminded me of a honeycomb, which led my mind to bees and the tradition of telling them when someone in the family dies. To read more about this tradition take a look here.

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Through wooden bone and slate skin

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A boy lives in the roof. He smells of slate and warm pigeon breasts on crisp winter mornings.

Stolen feathers prick his scalp instead of hair. A flightless fledgling, he’s pressed under roof tiles, body bulging between the slats.

Hunched under the low roof, my limbs become a geometry lesson of angles. My foot scuffs the Christmas box- it tinkles, showing off its boa of fairy lights. The boy’s there, tickling my cheek with his musty down. He asks me to stay and I’m willing-unwilling but I sink to the floor anyway and listen, the thick, soft dust a cushion under my knees.

He whispers of the stars, the drift of a million suns that wink and shimmer, filling the sky with inky purple shadows. He bellows of the storms that have shuddered through his eaves, shaking plaster dust from his joists, threatening to tear his wooden skeleton from his slate skin. He drones of the bees, their waxy hexagons that tunnelled through him until his hollows shook with waggle dances and sung with the hive mind. Disturbed, honey drips and falls into my eyes.

He asks to take my hand and instinctively I reach for him. I yearn to count the stars as friends, to feel myself expand under the sun’s rays. He creaks, timbers groaning like a battered mast for love of me.

‘I love you more than the dawn,’ he chitters. ‘More than the bees. I’d extinguish a thousand constellations for you.’

Then I smell his breath‒wind-dried skin and bone, cement ground to powder by damp and time‒ and I kiss him once and stumble away. The Christmas box tips and falls, wreathing the boards with unlit bulbs.

There’s a boy in the cupboard. I run to him as the roof shakes and groans, as brick dust salts my hair and gums my tongue. The boy’s door opens with a sigh. I burrow into him, rip through layers of wallpaper‒ floral, stripe, floral‒ and dig my fingertips into his plaster, searching for his heart. I follow the pulse and thump until I find it, lay my palm over the beats that come faster for the touch of me.

The boy in the cupboard never begs me to stay, promises nothing as I curl in his darkness, my hand on his mineral chest. Soon I’m as cold as he is warm.

The boy in the floor stares through knots and gaps between boards, with his woodlouse eyes, his cable lips and tied-up tongue, tangled with balls of hair and shredded newspaper.

I never talk him.


Success- hooray!

After a succession of rejections, this piece of flash fiction was published yesterday on the website for Flash Flood the National Flash Fiction Day journal.

Do visit the site if you fancy reading some great fiction.

http://flashfloodjournal.blogspot.co.uk/

We’re going on a cave hunt… Writing Caves # 6. The ultimate Cave

 

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Now the end is near and so I face the final cave.

Here we are, my lovelies. In Writing Caves #5 we had a wander down memory lane, a hike through cafes and beds, took a bewildering detour past my kitchen table and got lost and slightly scared in the WORST CAVE VENUES EVER.

After all that, let’s face it, we’re knackered, we’ve had enough of meandering through the dingy byways of my writing practice. What we need is a nice sit down, slippers on, feet up on a pouffe, a choccy biccy and something warm and comforting to drink. So park your bum, take a load off and listen up. Last time I promised to lead you into the world of imagination and wonder, to dream a dreamy dream of my ULTIMATE WRITING CAVE.

Now, let’s be clear. This cave has no relation to reality. It is unattainable for me. Unless I get an advance for one of my as-yet-unsold-novels of around seven figures, this ain’t never gonna happen, people. But we’re dreaming here, so let’s give it a go and take flight.

First off, let me just run through a quick list of definites my perfect Writing Cave would have.

(1) Tea and coffee making facilities. Let’s keep this real. There’s no writing without tea and if there isn’t a kettle and a mini fridge on hand, we’re not in dream territory- we’ve slipped into a nightmare.

(2) Isolation. I know, writing’s an isolating enough business as it is, but surely, to write my magnum opus or Magificient Octopus as Bladrick would have it, I need to be apart from the world, apart, above, beyond. Probably.

(3) Internet access. I write a fair bit of historical fiction: Tudor, Victorian, Ancient Roman, the Middle Ages, World War II… I’ve written short stories and novels based in all of these periods. Now until some boffin invents a time machine (come on, Stephen Hawking, what’s keeping you), I’m largely reliant on other people’s research to find out what the Tudors called their loos (privy, jakes, house of office), that Victorian milliners had sales girls called She-Barkers and that one of the main foodstuffs of the Roman Gladiator was barley porridge. Now, sometimes the best resource is still a well researched book, but for snippets of historical info (names/places/dates) when you need them in a hurry, there’s nothing like the net.*

(4) Electricity. Well how else am I gonna boil me kettle? And run the laptop, of course.

Now, that’s the basics, how about some luxuries? Comfy chairs, a heater, a few inspiring knick-knacks (Roald Dahl famously kept his own knee bone in his writing hut. I’ve still got my own knees, but I’m sure I could think of something…) How about nature? I know, I said in my last post that being outside was a pain in the backside, but I love hearing those darn bees (yes, as you’ve gathered, bees are a small time obsession of mine).

When I put all of these together, the only option, the dream Writing Cave is… ta-da-da da-da-da.

A TREEHOUSE.

Clearly we’re not talking something knocked up by your dad from a few wooden pallets he found in a skip. We’re talking luxury wood-based accommodation with all mod-cons, somewhere you could use as a granny flat if granny was driving you particularly crackers, somewhere Red Riding Hood could any second peek round the nearest tree, where wood sprites and ancient spirits lurk, where Herne the Hunter’s your neighbour and he’s having tea with Robin Hood… and that costs tens of thousands of pounds.

Ah, well. That’s what dreams are for- dreaming.

* Of course, this is when I can tear myself away from juggling cats, giggling babies, emails, this blog…

“I’m covered in bees!” ― Eddie Izzard

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Thanks to Jane at Making it Write for nominating me for this challenge.

Papery temptation has been falling through my letterbox of late, flashing its bright colours at me like a roadside trollop’s knickers, luring me with its heady promise of soft, blousy afternoons.

No- it’s not a Victoria’s Secret catalogue, but literature of a muddier nature. I’m talking plants and seeds.

Problem is, I can’t stop myself. I have a postage stamp front garden, a patch of cat litter tray gravel at the back, but I just have to have more plants. These stamen-packed mags are all designed to manipulate the weak – so vibrant and dazzling, each perfect petal soft as velvet, warm as skin, sweetly scented as Palma Violets. The names are there to entice: Dizzy Heights, For Your Eyes Only, Awakening, Atomic Blonde… And they’re only the roses.

Experience should have taught me better- every chubby little root ball that enters the house becomes a leggy, slug-nibbled skeleton of its former self within weeks, my lack of horticultural skill in limp chloroplastic form.

I do it for them, you see. Those furry-arsed, nectar guzzling, pollen junkies… the bees. They need an oasis of floral voluptuousness in this urban sprawl, right? A haven where they can buzz and bumble and waggle-dance their stingers off.

That’s what I tell myself, as I hunch over those shiny pages, my back aching, squinting through the small print. And as I reach for my credit card I cry, ‘It’s for the bees, man. All for the bees.’

The Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge rules require you to post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. I have chosen to use photographs from Pixabay as I’m terrible at taking them myself! It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or simply a short paragraph – it’s entirely up to you.

Then each day, nominate another blogger to carry on this challenge.

Accepting the challenge is entirely up to the person nominated, it is not a command. Today, I’m inviting Samantha from fictionwriterwithablog to join the challenge.