LOST // FOUND

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The air crackled with a chill that September afternoon, the first trace of damp etched into the atmosphere. 

Emma saw her first, then the rest of the children turned towards the woods at the edge of the park. Like an apparition, the woman stumbled out from amongst the trees and undergrowth resplendent in her cerise woollen coat.  A coat peppered with a menagerie of coloured notes, all pinned on at angles. 

Her mutterings at first were only audible to the sparrows in the trees, to the skittish robin, to the strident magpies marching across the tired grass. The ground was churned up by football boots, dried into uneven lumps of decay. 

‘Where is it, where is it?’ she mumbled gruffly. Erratically the woman spun around, her eyes cast down eagerly on the ground, with a keenness of a child looking out for Father Christmas. Her eyes bristled with expectation, joy then with a sudden turn, angry filthy swear words spewed across the park. 

Appalled Emma careered backwards, right into her friends and the cascade of children toppled like dominos, silent in shock. Righting themselves, the disheveled group at first failed to notice the approach of the woman; concern engraved on her face, bewilderment fluttering in her eyes. 

‘Have you seen it? My child?’

Agog, they barely listened, their attention held fast on the woman’s coat and the pinned notes.

I’m sorry. Appeared many times. I’m lost. Please help. My name is Emma. 

‘Please help me,’ she said. ‘I must find it.’

The children fanned out across the park, not sure what they were searching for, occasionally shouting out a find to Emma the older. Emma their friend remained with her namesake. Ahead of them a note tossed like an autumn leaf across the terrain, swirling in the strengthening breeze.

‘Stop it!’ shouted the woman. ‘There it is!’

Emma dashed over, picked up the dusty note, glancing at the elegant handwriting. 

Mum, you’re lost. Not I. Come home. Address is on the back. Love, Mark xx

Emma the child handed over the piece of paper. 

‘Mark! I found Mark!’ The woman’s primeval screech of elation echoed into the billowing dusk; a joy swallowed by her very next words, tiny as pinpricks, thin as slivers of silk.

‘Who am I?’

© Annika Perry, May 2018

The above piece of writing was inspired by a prompt from my writing group for our work to be ‘set in a park, in any period, in any location with any number of people involved, you or your character/s have lost or found something.’ Owing to burgeoning numbers of keen writers in the group our homework is now restricted in length.

The Enigmatic Blurb

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Why is it that even the mention of writing a blurb strikes abject terror into the normally calm and sane writer?

The task of describing and summarising a whole book, months or years of work, into a few short paragraphs seems nigh impossible. In the process the blurb has to be unique, capture the reader’s attention, excite them and tempt them to read on, ultimately to buy the book. The blurb and obviously the cover are often the first and only sales pitches for the book. The undertaking ahead feels hopeless.

Fear and dread of the blurb were my immediate reactions once I’d committed to publishing my anthology…I knew I needed one, yet every time the thought surfaced I erased it from my mind and dove even further into editing! As ever I needed a deadline and one evening I cleared my schedule for the following day, ensured I would not be disturbed and made a promise to myself to complete the blurb within 24 hours!

Early the next morning I entered my study and was confronted by my desk…the aforementioned one from my Frazzled! post. I could not work here. First I had to clean my desk – literally!

Over the past couple of months my working space had become chaotic with piles of paper and books balanced precariously and riotously on top of one another. There wasn’t even space for an A4 notebook. My solution was to move everything into the spare bedroom and once the desktop was polished I faced the gleaming wooden surface. Perfect! With reverential care I placed a notebook, pen and pencil on the desk, followed by my notes for my blurb as well as the print-out of how to write a blurb.

Yes, I lied a little…for weeks I’d been researching blurbs.

A blurb is tricky under normal circumstances and even more complex for a short story collection, I feel. First of all, I studied blurbs from other short story anthologies and I tried to pinpoint what drew me to them and what elements jarred – making notes all the time.

Next, I read ‘How to Write a Blurb’ articles online. One particular website provided fantastic information and I’d highly recommend The Author Society’s  ’17 Tips on How To Write a Blurb That Sells’.  Some tips were redundant for my anthology as the article was geared for novels. However, here are some points I found particularly useful and relevant:

  • The best length for a blurb is between 100 – 150 words. I would also like to add that it’s important to leave good line spacing for ease of reading.
  • Treat your first sentence like a pick-up line. It should entice them to read on and needs to be clever, engaging and new.
  • Use a cliffhanger. The reader needs to leave curious and hungry for more.
  • Use words that cater for your audience. They should evoke atmosphere and meet the readers expectations of the genre.
  • Use short sentences as buyers usually skim through the text.
  • Use hyperbole as these are powerful tools to spark curiosity.
  • Stay true to your voice. This piece of advice remained with me as I wrote my blurb. I felt it was vital to retain my voice which runs through the stories to be part of the blurb.
  • Use fresh eyes. Let it rest, print out and read in different formats such as phone, paper, computer.
  • Rewrite it many times.

With these notes to hand I started to scribble down ideas as I skimmed through my stories again; however there were two major stumbling blocks.

How could I include two of the most important elements of a blurb into mine; namely giving readers a setting and introducing the main characters? With so many different locations and characters; what could I do? In the end, I decided to give a flavour of some settings and some characters. With my short stories in front of me, I scanned back and forth, jotting down compelling and memorable characters, places, themes and feelings.

Gradually nuggets of a plan appeared, gems of ideas developed, but my initial blurb idea was still too vague. All the time I imagined a future customer, standing in a shop, quickly glancing at the back cover. How could I entrap them with my words, coax them to stay and read on and finally seduce them to buy a copy?

I rewrote the blurb time and again; examining every word and taking breaks as I paced around my study, reading aloud to myself, standing over my words, studying them, amending, rereading my notes.

Gradually an overall theme emerged and with this core central stabilising factor to the beginning, middle and concluding paragraphs I created my final blurb. One hundred words exactly!

The final blurb will be revealed soon! I have been promised the book cover this week and hope to post both together.

“A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it.” Edgar Allan Poe

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CHIPPING AWAY!

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Editing is a strange process.

I’m finding the task both hugely satisfying and exhausting. Like a skilled artist, I imagine myself adding those final touches to a painting that will lift my work. As I carve away at my stories I’m falling for the characters all over again, getting to know them intimately, their stories engraved on my mind. Even when not at the computer, chipping and adding away, my thoughts are constantly with my creations…I want to honour them by presenting them in the best way possible.

My distracted state has not gone unnoticed at home. Returning from school one day my son cautiously asked why a breakfast bowl was on the laundry basket in the bathroom. A very good question and I had no sensible answer – no doubt a new edit idea struck me between rooms. I’ve warned him to expect a lot of these unusual distractions as I battle against my perfectionist nature and concentrate singlemindedly to complete my first book.

With a selection of my short stories with a professional editor, with discussions underway for a book cover, I have been reassured that completion before Christmas is possible.

Yikes! On hearing this deadline my stomach flip-flopped with excited elation (and terror!) whilst my mind nearly overloaded as I careered through everything that needs to be done. Then, ever the Virgo, organisation took charge and with a new notebook in hand, I made lists, lots of them. These I’m slowly ticking off…

Whilst editing I have noticed my predisposition for certain words which I’ve harshly erased; even as I berate myself for my persistent use of these lame and weak phrases, I’m pleased to learn more about my writing, how to improve it with immediate effect.

Who are the culprits? Stand up words, wave goodbye and bow out!

* Also   *Now    *Then     *At last     *Just

*After all    *Of course    *Finally

Finally (noooo!!) one chap’s name appeared in three different stories…sorry, there’s only need for one George!

‘My short stories are like soft shadows I have set out in the world, faint footprints I have left. I remember exactly where I set down each and everyone one of them, and how I felt when I did. Short stories are like guideposts to my heart…’  Haruki Murakami

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LASTING SANCTUARY

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Back and forth. The chair rocked gently, back and forth. Years, decades even, I’ve sat here on and off, rocking calmly, the squeak a welcome friend, the worn wood of the arms soft to my caress. Even as a child I sought solace here and closing my eyes, I drifted into a restful doze….

’Williams! Stop that rocking! I swear, I can see grooves on the oak floor. Williams!’

I’d only sneaked in ten minutes earlier and made straight for the rocking chair in its usual gloomy nook beneath religion and travel, navigating my way by memory with my spectacles grasped uselessly in my hands. Those bloody glasses! Bad enough they fogged up a hundred times a day, even worse they were NHS ones.

‘Caught any fish today, Snorkel face!’  That was the kindest thing anyone ever said to me at school. Even my name was a shout and a demanding, irritated one at that.

At last, the glasses cleared and my gasp of awe puffed audibly across the room. A gentleman in the opposite corner tutted disapprovingly, glared at me before returning his eyes to the book in his hands.  ‘Perfume’ if I wasn’t mistaken and one I could recommend to him. Books galore! My usual heavenly delight. The afternoon light shimmered through the windows, the dust danced around the bookshelves, the words within a promise of new worlds, of escape.

The coins in my blazer pocket clinked against each other as I reached for them. Two pounds altogether and well worth saving my 50p weekly pocket.  Who needed sweets anyway? For me it was all about the books. With a push the chair lurched forwards, depositing me on my feet with a satisfying creak and groan. I edged left around historical fiction, turned right at thrillers then stopped by biographies. 

‘What do you want to read them for?’ Dad always asked. Not waiting for an answer he’d reach for a beer from the fridge, his head lost within the cold vault as the muffled one-way conversation continued.

‘You should be out playing football with your mates. Out do you, hear? None of this bookshop rubbish.’

Why did he never realise that the bookshop was my haven, the dark wooden shelves my sanctuary, the books my guardian?

‘Mr Williams! Thank goodness, you’re awake. There was another complaint about that chair yesterday.’ I continued to rock, groggily, trapped in time, my Ralph Lauren glasses on the wonk. I straightened them slowly. ‘It will kill someone, one day, Mr Williams. That young lad, Joe, the one you always tolerate, who’s constantly here, was thrown off the chair yesterday when its arm broke right off. Yes, that one. I fixed it but it nearly killed him. Fell onto the floor, he did and banged his head. Nearly killed him!’

The laughter within me built up gradually, begrudgingly, relentlessly. 

‘Mr Williams, as the owner you’re responsible…’

‘For keeping things just as I want them! As I’ve done for over thirty years. Don’t change a thing! Now, where’s my laptop…’ Still chuckling I nudged it awake and started to tap on the screen whilst inhaling the muggy scent of books with satisfaction.

 A chair that takes people’s fate in its own hands is a story waiting to be published! And added to my bookshelves.

©Annika Perry, 2017

This piece was written in response to a prompt issued by my creative writing group – the options were eclectic and consisted of Lemon Tree Grove, Book Shops or Graveyard. I was tempted to write a short story including all three elements but fear this would become far too long for the group!

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Images courtesy of pixabay

STUFF

hoardingRecently I joined a local Creative Writing Group and the latest piece of ‘homework’ was to write a page or so around the prompt word of ‘Stuff’. Here is what I came up with.

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You reach for the floor beside the grubby mattress and your hand stops. Paper. Your eyes flicker to the pile of magazines; this section all sports but the top one is askew and from years of practise you ease it back to perfect alignment. A silent satisfied sigh slips between your lips. Lips, thirst, only now do you realise the rasping dry feeling in your throat, you gag, try to cough, to spit. Anything. Just tiny puffs of air that lift the dust from all around, it flutters freely in the gloomy air, some dancing in the shaft of light beaming through the torn curtain. Light, too much light. You need to eradicate the beam, to restore the darkness, to preserve your stuff. Slowly you ease yourself onto your ankles, wincing with pain, time standing still, each movement agony. Don’t need this. Really could do without this hassle. You mutter. To yourself. The left knee gives way and twisted you fall back onto your hideaway. Surrounded by piles of newspapers, magazines, records, memorabilia. It’s all junk, she said as you came back from the car boot sale. Was that the fourth time, or the twelfth? Just because it’s called a car boot sale doesn’t mean you need to fill it, she joked. At first. Beth was sweet, good, kind. She tried to stick with you, with it. You shake your head, the memory of her too much, too distant, another lifetime. The sunlight moves and blinded you lash out, fast, violently. As vicious as your swiped at Beth. You didn’t mean to hurt her, honestly. You did your time and were set free again. But are you? Ever? Again you lash out at the light, striking it back and forth, striking your cave of print material. You feel a gentle pummel first, then a cascade as first one pile wobbles then topples over. Over you. An endless colossal collapse of stuff. Are you free yet? Vincent?  

©Annika Perry

I Shall Go

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I shall go

I shall go

Where the trees talk

Where the grass and plants whisper

Where the skies are big

I shall go where the

Morning spider’s web is sheer

More precious than jewels

Where my hand on the tree

finds strength

Where the dew delights my feet

Where the air cleanse my lungs

Where the birdsong is

full of joy and purity

Where I meet my friend

Also rejoicing

Where our greetings

become a whisper as not

to disturb the sanctity.

Here we rejoice

Here we gather strength and joy

© miriam ivarson

100_1136 This poem perfectly encapsulates my next few weeks, as I head off to Sweden with the family to the two houses in the forest.

Here immersion and union with nature and oneself is made possible and after the initial week or so stillness finally settles on my soul.

One afternoon I’ll stop and as if for the first time notice, really notice, the woodpecker high up in the tree as its drumming echoes across the land. 100_1799 One morning the breeze will be whipped into a frenzy and with contentment I’ll sit and watch the  entertainment of the wild, erratic dance of the fir trees, the natural monoliths bending to improbable angles before slowly unfurling to stand gracefully upright again.

The midday sun heats the sand on the beach and like a kid I’ll scuttle to the water’s edge, immediately emitting a shocked squeal. As the crystal clear water ebbs at my feet, I’ll study the HD-quality shells and pebbles. Time at last to be awed by nature’s gifts.

One dark night a loud thud against the house wall will wake me and instead of fear I’ll smile to myself. Silly elk. Can’t they see the house? Then I’ll turn over and sleep soundly once more. 100_3050 One evening, sitting outside with a glass of wine in my hand, I’ll glance high up at the swirling birch tops and then spot the first fleck of autumn, the yellow tinged tips of a few leaves. A sigh of disappointment as summers end beckons.

I wish you all a peaceful, relaxing and healing summer.

‘The longest journey is the journey inward.’

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5 DAYS PHOTO CHALLENGE  IRON MEN AND WOODEN BOATS

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I am currently taking part in the 5 Photos – 5 days challenge after being nominated by Dorne at  https://dorneawhale.wordpress.com.

Welcome to my final (slightly delayed) photographs for this challenge. Yes, you read correctly, for this post one photograph was just not enough to tell the story, so you’re in for a treat of six or so, some  of which are over seventy years old so please forgive the quality.

Firstly, the rules are as follows:

‘Post a photo each day for five consecutive days, and tell a story about each photo. The story can be truth or fiction, poetry or prose.  Each day one must also nominate a fellow blogger to participate in the challenge.’

Day 5.   Iron Men and Wooden Boats

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I tell my son his roots go back to the island where my mother was born, to the island where his great-grandparents were born and lived all their lives. I tell him that the he is as strong as the granite rocks that their house was built on. Then, looking at these photos today I think I need to add an addendum to this statement. His soul is part of the sea fished by his fore-fathers all their lives.

boat in seas.jpbMy grandfather went out fishing at the age of 14, before than he regularly helped out on the boats.

This was the time when fishing was brutal and dangerous. A time when you had to be tough physically and mentally.  My cousins, a few who are professional fishermen today, readily concede they work in relative comfort and safety, with their warm spacious cabins, kitchen and dining area and a bridge worthy of a Nasa spacecraft.

two men on boatNo such luxury for my grandfather. No heavy duty machinery to help with the lifting, just a basic winch. The physical work was unbelievably hard and raw, for days out fishing in the cold winters of the North Sea only to return to cramped conditions below deck.

Disappearing boatAnd yet, these were some of the happiest days for my grandfather. Isn’t that wonderful? Life at its simplest, most basic, living every moment to the full, every second counting and the whole experience creating close camaraderie between the fishermen.

inside cabinA museum on one island displays the history of the local fishing over the past two centuries and they have recreated the inside of one such typical boat which my grandfather owned. Talking to his great-grandchildren whilst going around the museum I saw my grandfather’s eyes shine with happiness and then glaze over with memories of time passed, people passed. His words intense, burning their vitality onto our brain.

men on deck.jpbHe spoke of days spent out at sea and once, landing with a catch in Aberdeen, only to send a telegram to his wife, no, he would not be back just yet. The fishing was again so good the following week, that there was another telegram advising of a delay in returning home and then out they sailed from Aberdeen, heading to the sea and to the herring. Four weeks later he returned home to face a few seconds of scolding from my grandmother, followed by her and the children’s joyous love and hugs.

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I would like to nominate Jo at https://restlessjo.wordpress.com to carry on this challenge. I hope she enjoys the challenge as much as I am and look forward to seeing her photographs / writing posts!

I want to thank you all for following me on this 5 day photo challenge, which has been inspiring and led me down writing and memory paths I would not have taken otherwise.

Finally, I would like to give special thanks to my mother for the title of this post. Stuck for ideas I gave her a call and she immediately gave me this title; something she thought of many years ago to describe her father and his fellow fishermen.

5 days – 5 photos Challenge Nana’s Web

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I am currently taking part in the 5 Photos – 5 days challenge after being nominated by Dorne from https://dorneawhale.wordpress.com. Below is my photo and writing for Day 4, inspired by this photo of a frost-coated spider’s web.

Firstly, the rules are as follows:

‘Post a photo each day for five consecutive days, and tell a story about each photo. The story can be truth or fiction, poetry or prose.  Each day one must also nominate a fellow blogger to participate in the challenge.’

Day 4.  Nana’s Web

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‘Are you sure, Alicia?’ asks Nana dubiously, maintaining the steady rhythm of her crochet needle, then pausing for a moment as she studies my childish conviction.

‘Yes, Nana, please, let me try,’ I plead, leaning over her handiwork and studying the fine web design.

‘It’s just you’ve never shown any inclination to crochet before.’

Even I realise the truth of her observation, as the eight-year-old me is either deep into a book, playing football outside or creating adventures for my barbie dolls inside. My bike is my freedom and I think I know the little French village we now live better than anyone in my family.

‘I do want to learn though,’ I say, smiling my toothless grin which never fails!

‘Fetch my handicraft case then.’

Happily I scuttle to the spare room where my grandparents are sleeping during their visit to us. Like a leech I have stuck to their sides since their arrival. With them in the house they are making the strange and frightening all the more familiar, I just don’t want them to go, for the strangeness to return.

Back on the sofa I snuggle next to Nana, hip to hip, the two of us, legs tucked up and to the side. She hands me the unfamiliar tool and picking up another I hold them at the end and I start tapping them together as if they were toy drumsticks. I feel a shudder of frustration by my side and calmly Nana replaces the needle in my left hand to her case, her frown transforming into a smile.

‘Here, like this,’ she says, taking my right hand in hers and placing my finger towards the curved end of the needle. Next she loops the fine thread onto my fingers of my other hand and then she guides me to crochet! I am actually crocheting and with her hands now patiently showing mine what to do I manage a few patterns. Her spoken instructions drift like feathers upon my skin, soft, gentle, ticklish but unfathomable as I am awed by the magic I’m creating.

I settle down next to Nana and crochet. She’s always so at peace and content when crocheting, even though she works at lightening speed. I want to be like that and I try very hard, but it’s a slow arduous task. Raising the thread to her mouth Nana nips it off and with a swift twist round her finger she has finished. One more table cloth with its delicate beautiful design is put onto the table with the others. Crocheting was something I wanted to do so badly, honestly. I thought I could do it, but it will take weeks, months, years. I will not concede…too quickly.

So I crochet; all the time looking at Nana’s wondrous creations, the finest threads looped into amazing patterns. All from her mind. That is magic to me. I look at my rough work, then at her art. My head drops a few more angles and quiet sigh follows quiet sigh.

Suddenly the door-bell rings and my friend enters, calling out my name.

‘Nana…’ I start to say.

‘Alicia, you go and have fun with your friend,’ she replies, placing my handiwork onto her lap.

‘Thanks, see you later and I’ll finish it later,’ I promise. A promise I know and Nana knows I will never fulfil. She won’t mind and knowing Nana she will have rescued my first attempt and completed it by the time I’m home. That’s just who she is!

I would like to nominate Esther at https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com to carry on this challenge. I realise this is not her usual type of posts but if she has the time I know we would all enjoy reading her writings and seeing her photos. If she decides to go ahead, I hope she enjoys the challenge as much as I am and look forward to seeing her photographs / writing posts!

5 photos – 5 days The White Wonder

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I am currently taking part in the 5 Photos – 5 days challenge after being nominated by Dorne from https://dorneawhale.wordpress.com. Below is my photo and writing for Day 3.

Firstly, the rules are as follows:

‘Post a photo each day for five consecutive days, and tell a story about each photo.  The story can be truth or fiction, poetry or prose.  Each day one must also nominate a fellow blogger to participate in the challenge.’

Day 3.  The White Wonder

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On their dainty stalks a generation of white poppies stood proud amongst the roses. Whilst some crumpled with age, their white petals curling into brown ragged decay, this pristine poppy shone in its peaceful perfect serenity.

As it quivered, almost whimsically in the breeze, I studied the petals further, furtively stroking one between my thumb and fore-finger. Art classes at Primary School came to mind and the oft used crepe-paper with its ruffled texture. Each petal over-lapped with its neighbour and in such symmetry they formed the exquisite bowl. A bold splotch marked each petal, a gentle bruise which was as if dabbed on by a child’s hand and the aqueous paint seeped unevenly upwards.

The burnished bronze stamen hovered in the centre with its almost comically bald top. Just then a bee in lumbering lethargic flight landed in the poppy and frantically, manically it bustled its way round and round the stamen. At such an awkward side-ways angle the bee at times tipped backwards before it recovered on its single-minded task.

What a gift from nature! Sublime artistry which touched my soul and that white poppy has well and truly nudged its way into my heart.

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I would like to nominate Sue at http://scvincent.com who regularly posts such stunning photos and beautiful lyrical writing to carry on this challenge. I hope she enjoys the challenge as much as I am and look forward to seeing her photographs / writing posts!

5 PHOTOS – 5 DAYS CHALLENGE THE HAMMOCK

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I am currently taking part in the 5 Photos – 5 days challenge after being nominated by Dorne from https://dorneawhale.wordpress.com. Here is my photo and writing for Day 2.

Firstly, the rules are as follows:

‘Post a photo each day for five consecutive days, and tell a story about each photo.  The story can be truth or fiction, poetry or prose.  Each day one must also nominate a fellow blogger to participate in the challenge.’

Day 2. The Hammock

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She’d been on the bench for a long time, not long enough. Toby kicked his trainers back and forth against the steaming tarmac leaving black scuff marks on the blue fabric and with every kick barely missed the up-turned ice-cream cone on the ground. He’d dropped it an hour ago, just after she’d given it to him. You’d think her eight-year-old brother could hang onto a goddam cone, she thought.  Obviously not, with the viscous chocolate spreading further apart, the rainbow sprinkles the only sparkle of brightness in the glum debris.

‘Here,Toby. You should be able to keep hold of this,’ she’d said, handing him his second ice-cream in a white and red plastic pot. Even her brother, the wimp, should be able to keep this in order. He had although she noticed his fingers were now a fount of stickiness, leaving strawberry coloured fingerprints on the green painted bench.

Out of rhythm Toby suddenly swung both legs forcefully into the air sending a flock of seagulls flapping away. They flew low to just a few metres away before landing and with their black-eyed scavenger look they viewed their prey, the cone, beside Toby’s feet. Gloomily Amelia and Toby both shook their heads.

‘Amelia, take your brother out for a while,’ her mother had whispered to her in the morning. ‘Look at the boats. Here’s some money.’ As if that would help. Money. Boats. Didn’t her mother understand at all? ‘It might cheer you up,’ she called as they left the rented house.

Cheer me up, muttered Amelia, kicking the ground and immediately scrunching her foot and face in pain. She’d forgotten she was wearing her stupid flip-flops.

So they sat and watched the boats. The bloody boats on this bloody perfect day. A steady slow elegant parade of them, so peaceful and content in their venture. A whispering silence broken by the odd screeches of delight from the children on board or the sudden burst of a outboard motor as it was turned to full throttle. Further away white sails from the sailing boats skimmed the sky-line resembling a eloquent a dance on the water.

Like a good girl Amelia sat and watched. For fractions of time she was even enthralled, for a moment her heart mingled with the cheerful people around her. But only for a second or so.

How could she enjoy it? Be happy? Didn’t her parents understand?

This was their last holiday. Dad’s last holiday. Dad who ‘needs rest’. No kidding. He was being eaten alive, the illness engulfing him from the inside, his gaunt frame both old and young.

And she’s told; ‘Watch the boats!’

Abruptly Toby ceased to move and he looked right. Amelia followed his gaze and smiled. Looking at her Toby laughed. At home a hammock was strung between two oak trees in the garden and since forever they would lay in it together, playing, reading, napping. Often battling to throw each other out.

Whoever would have thought of hanging hammock on a boat? Now all eyes along the harbour front followed the boat’s graceful procession, the people on board oblivious to the quiet commotion on land. In the hammock Amelia thought she spied two children. By the boat wheel a man stared contently out to sea.

Standing up Amelia took Toby’s hand, its stickiness and all and leisurely walked alongside the boat as it slipped languidly past.

‘Come on Toby, let’s just follow it a while.’

So they strolled. Hand in hand. Watching a boat. And she felt better. She realised now that the better feeling would disintegrate in a flash, but for this second it was encased in her soul and Amelia guarded this fragile joy.

Her father was dying. He was alive today. Now. And for the next moment. This she could give him.

‘Stop for a mo, Toby. Let me take a photo. Now one without you. We’ll show Dad when we get back. He’ll love it. You’ll see,’ she said and separating they turned and sprinted towards the house, to Mum, to Dad.

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To carry on this challenge I would like to nominate Marjma at https://kyrosmagica.wordpress.com. I hope she enjoys it as much as I am and look forward to seeing her photographs / writing posts!