Friday Fictioneers: Surprise!

PHOTO PROMPT - © Adam Ickes

PHOTO PROMPT – © Adam Ickes


 

‘Well, what do you think?’ he said.

She stamped a sandalled foot on the boards, ran a hand along the rail. ‘Seems sturdy enough.’

‘Well, of course it’s sturdy,’ he said.  He watched his wife closely. ‘You don’t like it’

‘No, no, I love it. It’s just …’

‘What?’

‘What’s he going to think?’

Persephone, it’s just a tweak in his working conditions. He’s not actually losing his job.’

‘But maybe he liked the rowing …’

‘Gods! You try and help someone out -‘

‘Sssh. Here he is.’

‘Ah, Charon, my old pal. Surprise!’

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See here for full Ts and Cs and to read more stories.

This was a ‘what if’ story.

What if Hades, the Greek God of the Underworld, decided to embark on a building plan. What would he build? Well, one of the first things I’d do if I was him was build a ruddy great bridge across the Styx, save all that ferrying. I wonder how Charon the ferryman will take the news? We do all have to be flexible in today’s changing job market …

 

 

 

Why we should all beware the beautiful people

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Image: Pixabay

It seems beauty and poison often go hand in hand.

We’ve all met them. Those folk so physically attractive they almost look like a different species – complexions as flawless as a polished peach, hair so glossy it could have been French polished. Their teeth are white and even and they move with the kind of fluid grace you can only be born with, because it relies on your limbs being hung in precisely the right way and only nature or a very expensive plastic surgeon is capable of that.

But look closer.

Do they flick a glance at every plate glass window they sashay past? Cos apparently, when you’re that gorgeous, you have to make sure you stay gorgeous. And is that a crinkle of disdain disfiguring that perfect nose when they see someone or something less wonderful than they are? Are they, in short, just a little bit up themselves?

The most extreme example of a narcissistic personality, of course was today’s Wednesday Word Tangle word …

NARCISSUS, that most vain and unlovely of lovely Greek youths.

Having an utterly over-inflated idea of his own attractions, Narcissus didn’t think any of the wood and water nymphs who threw themselves at him were good enough.* And he treated the lovely Echo (she who had been cursed by Juno to be incapable of speech unless another spoke first) with such disdain, the humiliation drove her to hide in a cave where she gradually pined away until nothing remained but her

Voice.

Voice.

Voice.
Voice.

This being a Greek Myth, of course, things didn’t end well for Narcissus, as he caught sight of his reflection in a pond and stared at his own gorgeousness until he too pined away, leaving only a narcissus flower behind.

Now, the daffodilthe most common of the narcissus family – is beautiful in its simplicity, a welcome harbinger of Spring. It certainly cheered Wordsworth up when he was feeling blue. But it also has more in common with the callow Greek youth than merely the name.

Because for all its beauty, it’s highly toxic when eaten, causing vomitting, nausea, diarrhea, convulsions, trembling and – in extreme cases – death.

And if it shares their water, it can poison other flowers, shortening their lives considerably (Sound familiar?)

So, what’s the moral of this tale?

Don’t fall in love with someone who’s more in love with themselves than they could ever be with you.

And don’t go gathering wild leeks in the early Spring – unless you’re fond of stomach pumps.

***

*To be fair, this story does portray nymphs as slightly on the needy side.

Thanks to dear Kat, the originator of W4W.

Wednesday Word Tangle: Cupid, Psyche and sex the Greek way

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Image: Pixabay

I was desperately thinking of a subject for today’s Wednesday Word Tangle, which is absolutely ridiculous when you think that according to my own in depth research there are estimated to be a bit over one million words in the English language, which means if I continue posting a WWT every week it will take me 19230.7692308 years before I’ve used every one.

Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to resort to letting the dictionary open where it may – which is a good thing, because I could’ve ended up with zygote or flange – because a WordPress pal came to the rescue.

calmgrove was giving me insights into how the male teenage mind works – a bit of a preoccupation for me, as I live with a proto-teen and am constantly trying to work out what’s going on in his noggin – when the conversation threw up the word

PSYCHE

I used it in the context of the human mind, but then remembered there’s a proper noun Psyche too. So settle back and listen, as we fall back through the smogs of time (yes, it used to be mists, but pollution being how it is …)

There was once a girl called Psyche. So beautiful was she – you know, perfume advert gorgeous – that men would rather lust after her than worship the goddess Venus. Of course, Venus being the mildly unhinged, narcissistic ego-maniac she was, decided to punish Psyche by marrying her off to a monster. (How often history has repeated itself since – lovely young girl, married to warty old monster. Cue pretty much any middle-aged rock star living today …)

Of course, Venus chose the wrong man for the job – Cupid. Now, banish all thoughts of chubby babies with wings – Cupid was no infant. Think built, think hunky, think Jamie Dornan with wings. This boy’s all libido,  so, when he sees the lovely girl, he doesn’t want her to marry a monster – he wants her for himself.

There follows some shenanigans in a palace, with the west wind and oracles and jealous sisters.

Then, when Venus finds out Psyche is married to Cupid (which of course she does because she’s a goddess and goddesses are clever like that) she’s still angry with Psyche, though quite honestly, for the goddess of LURV, Venus ALWAYS seems peed off, jealous, vengeful … Actually, those Greeks really knew what they were talking about, didn’t they?

Anyhow, Venus sets Psyche some tasks, which, because she’s smart as well as beautiful, she passes with flying colours (and with supernatural help). Finally, Cupid twigs what’s happening, beseeches Jupiter to put an end to all the nonsense and here’s the shocker …

Cupid and Psyche live happily ever after.

No being sexually assaulted by bulls, no being turned into a daffodil because you’re so vain, no having your liver pecked out by eagles or continually pushing rocks up a mountain for eternity. 

Psyche’s promoted to goddess, moves into Cupid’s batchelor pad in Heaven and that’s it.

And who said there was no such thing as a fairy tale ending?

***

With many thanks to calmgrove for the inspiration.

And to Kat for kicking off W4W in the first place. And yes, the Jamie Dornan mention was for you!

 

 

 

 

 

Did a non-existent Ancient Greek write my novel?

Is heaven so cold, this angel has to wear socks? Image:Pixabay

Is heaven so cold this angel has to wear socks? Image:Pixabay

Now, I’m no great believer in Calliope.

No, I don’t mean the steam powered musical intrument. I’ve seen some of those, heard their fluty tones, so I know they exist.

I mean Calliope – the Muse – she of Nine Muses fame, that graceful female entity of Greek myth and legend, who Homer (no, not Simpson) called upon for inspiration whilst writing the Iliad and the Odyssey. Originally the Muse of epic poetry, she became the go-to girl for all writers, her remit having changed and expanded over the years.

The Ancient Greeks didn’t write novels, so had no need for a Muse of paperbacks. Though, if we fancy inventing one – you know, amongst ourselves – may I suggest the name Novella. Not a word of Greek origin, but catchy.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, I don’t wait on outside forces to help me write. I also don’t believe in channelling a fey, chiton-draped lovely to help me out when my writing has hit a pit of deep, dark wordlessness. I’m a great believer in having a routine, in treating creativity like a muscle you need to train.

You wouldn’t expect your abs to stay looking like a padded xylophone without a million sit ups, and so it is with your brain. I expect mine to jump to attention and produce short stories, novel chapters or the mind-spew that I post on this blog, whenever I ask it to.

I see it as developing a professional attitude. If I want someone – anyone, please? – in the publishiing business to take my writing seriously then I have to approach writing as if it were a business. Between drinking a lot of tea and being distracted by Twitter, of course.

But …

A couple of days ago, I was re-reading some chapters from my as-yet-unacknowledged (mainly because it’s unpublished) work of YA loveliness. 

I was doing this because I’m just taking the first, cautious, squeaky-bum-time steps towards writing a sequel.

Yes, I know. Many of you reading this will be chuntering about the wisdom of planning, plotting, writing a sequel to a book that hasn’t seen the light of day yet. What if a prospective agent/publisher sees and likes the book but thinks it needs the odd tweak to reach perfection …

Well, we sure like the sixteen year old, flame haired, tomboy heroine. But the story would work a whole lot better if she was a fifty six year old former soldier – ex SAS, hard drinking, thrice married Ross Kemp look alike. How do you feel about a rewrite?

But there a few reasons I’m keen to start the sequel.

One: It’ll be good to have a big project to tackle again.

Two: It’ll (maybe) help sell the first book if the second is at least in the planning stages.

Three: I just wanna.

When it came down to putting fingertips to keys, I first wanted to reread some of the orignal book, to get back into the swing of the style, to slip back into that world, shrugging it on like a favourite old jumper I’d left at the bottom of a drawer and just rediscovered. I felt nervous reading it, in case after few months away, it looked amateurish and clunky and just plain drivel.

And do you know what I found?

That much of it was really okay. And even bits – BITS, mind – were actually good. It was almost like reading a proper novel.

The weirdest thing, though was that it feels like someone else wrote it. I don’t remember composing some of the sentences, or where some of the ideas came from. How the hell was that manuscript created without my brain being truly involved with the process on a concious level?

Which got me to thinking.

Firstly: is there something in Rooibos tea other than innocent leaves?

Secondly: maybe there are moments when Calliope has been my friend after all.


Are you a writer who channels Calliope to help you?

Have you written something that later you were surprised you’d written?