As per usual, my writing group set a writing challenge last month: The Cycle. Now, Some of you may know that I've been a little... blocked of late. (I was going to say backed up, but that wouldn't be very appropriate and incredibly immature. ;p)
Truth is, I haven't managed to string a half decent sentence together since November, which is a long time for me.
Oh, I've tried and tried, and became even more... blocked, and frustrated. Angry even. There may have been the odd growl here and there.
I read books on writers block, searched the web, spokes to my fellow wordies, all to no avail. So in the end, albeit right or wrong, I decided to give the words a break. Take a hiatus, if you will.
It's a scary thing to do. To stop completely, knowing full well - according to the majority of the info I found - that I'm probably digging myself into a deeper hole, rather than working harder to get out of the rut. But it's what I dig- did.
Anyway, I hung up my laptop... in its bag... because you can't hang up a laptop. It doesn't have any handles... and the bag does.
Right! Moving on.
I set the pressure aside and picked up my beloved eReader, sat back in my comfy seat with my feet up and pillows in place. The sun shining in from the side, coffee to my right on the small table. Is this heaven I'm in? I powered up my eReader and began to scour the pages.
Okay, that book's not doing it for me. No worries, I'll go back to it another day.
Next book. Page one... page two... three... three and a half... Nope, not doing it for me either. No problem, I love this author, I'll go back after I finish my next read.
Next book? I just couldn't find the flow. Okay, it happens. I set it aside with the intention to get back to it later.
The next book? Nope. Couldn't do it.
And the next?
OMG! Actually, not the time for abbreviations! This is far to colossal! Oh My God!
In bold italics!
No! No! No!
I'd lost my mojo for reading too! NOTHING - Not a single thing held my attention. Not even the latest Target catalogue. I stared up morosely at the big black screen on the other side of the room... is this what it's come to? Day time television? Is Days of Our Lives still running, or is it up to Dr Phil to drag me out of the hell I'm in?
Yes, perhaps a little counseling would be helpful. Or a walk.
I opted for a walk.
And so this went on for a while... a few months or so... me walking out the frustration. I began to garden - I've never been much of a gardener - I even painted the eves on the outside of our house. The cars got washed regularly. Everything was looking all sparkly and happy, and then came the email: Writing Group Monthly Challenge.
Initially I shied away - it's was my new thing after all, but deep down - okay, not that deep, but it was down...ish - I knew it was time. With a surge of new-found determination, I reached up onto my toes and got that laptop bag down. Plugged in the charger, turned on the coffee machine and pressed the go button on my computer... and the coffee maker from the Gods.
I will do this challenge!
It was harder than I'd like to admit too, and the writing's not as good as I'd like it to be, but it's a start... and with all great beginnings there are and endings. Not all good and where they should be, admittedly, but still...
So here it is, The Challenge of the Month!
The Umbrella Stand
©Sandra Fitzgerald 2016
The umbrella stands proud, tightly compacted amongst more of its kind. They are all typically alike, tall, sturdy, bound tight by their Velcro constraints, yet this one is different, unique in its own insufferable way. They have been set to the side, long forgotten by the old, bearded man and his mangy, matted dog.
People jostle past, squinting and sheltering their eyes from the blinding, watery sun, their elbows knock and half-hearted apologies made in their haste to get to where ever they desperately need to go on yet, another busy workday.
The young woman’s long, auburn hair lifts slightly in the light breeze. She pauses with a shiver as the sudden chill prickles her fair skin, then resets her slipping handbag and continues on her way.
The young man fills his lungs with cool air and briefly closes his eyes, slowing his steps with relief. He tightens his grip on the thick handle of his computer bag, regaining his pace as he continues along the footpath.
A distant thunderclap startles the aging, thinning dog. The bearded man bends and scratches behind his beloved pup’s ear, mumbling words of comfort.
Daylight blinks into muted tones before returning to full brightness. The pedestrians continue in their rush and pass the bearded man un-noticed as he stands next to his stall of trinkets and he arches his stiff back, massaging the sore spot on his spine.
Light cottonwool clouds are suddenly overcome by angry, dirty cumulus. They fill their cores, puffing out their chests, while they steal the light from the sky.
The young woman slows and looks up in concern, consciously smoothing out her long coifed hair.
The young man stumbles when a faceless stranger darts unexpectedly into his path and accidently knocks into the young woman.
He clutches her elbow to stop her from falling.
Their eyes lock.
Her breath is lost. His mouth drops open.
The thickening, rolling cloud-cover goes unnoticed, as do the thunderous claps vying for attention. The loss of light serves only to allow the young man to step closer to the young woman.
He’s still hasn’t to let go of her elbow.
She’s still hasn’t exhaled.
Angrier still, the blackened sky roars and calls for the wind to wreak havoc among the tree-lined street. The bearded man rubs at his hip as he reaches for the tall bucket, dragging it closer to the front of his stand. He spies his faithful pet, gives him a knowing smirk and a wink. The dog barks once with the rumble of what’s to come from above and wags his tail in glee.
The umbrellas jounce against each other, their excitement building as hand after hand reach in as thick drops begin to fall, slowly, methodically at first... a few here... a few there. Then there are more than few and then more still, until there are far too many to be considered a few. The black umbrellas are the first to go – the certain favourite among the public. Then the blue are all taken, the green and the red, until there is one lone umbrella in the canister.
Hand after hand grips the wooden handle and lifts the slender form with promise, until they discover its shame and let it tumble back down, the metal spike clanks on the bottom of its confinement before it finally lolls aimlessly from side to side until even momentum no longer has use for it.
The young man grins with all of his teeth. The young woman smiles and tucks her chin shyly.
The young man gently places his cold fingers on the young woman’s jaw so she’ll look back up look at him again. He cups his hand and holds it out to catch the falling rain, his smile returning to full force. The young woman eyes sparkle, her lips part and curve, a breathy plume passes between them on her silent chuckle.
The young man hoots boisterously. He takes a step to the side and reaches to retrieve the last remaining umbrella. The young woman laughs out loud, blinking the water from her thick lashes.
The young man holds the tall umbrella like an offering and takes a small bow. The young lady blushes and tries to contain her joy as she takes the very last umbrella from the kind young man and opens it above both of them.
“Yellow,” she says, “my favourite colour,” just as the rains stops and the howling gale disappears as abruptly as it came, the cumulus part and the never ending blue returns, allowing the watery sun to glisten down upon them again.
Thanks for reading.