365 Day Writing Challenge 53: Tear-Jerker

365 Day Writing Challenge

53. Tear-Jerker: Watch a movie that makes you cry. Write a poem about that scene in the movie.

Inspired by (and some lines taken from) the last scene of The Truman Show

I could never do this beautiful, many-layered film justice but I tried to write about what Truman might be thinking, or what I would think if I was him.


Now I have touched the sky

where do I go?


Now that I know that the world is but a painting,

that someone was paid one day to sit and paint my sky –

(and went home and had his dinner like any other day)

He had created a world with his fingertips

not thinking that I would look upon his creation

every day of my life

sunrise to sunset

(God nestling among the clouds)


And the water too,

my fear, my enemy,

that woke me up at night,


with the taste of salt in my throat

is now passive,


while I walk

(I am walking on water)

upon it,

how can this be what took my father from me?


my father…

was he even –

and my mother?

Are they sad now?

Do they miss me?

Or are they already thinking about their next job?

Their redundancy pay?


My mind hurts


Maybe I’ll wake up in hospital

and this will all be the dream of a sick mind…


You can’t leave, Truman.

You belong here.

With me.


A voice came to me from the clouds

and it wanted me to stay with it.

I said no.






365 Day Writing Challenge 47: Light Switch

365 Day Writing Challenge

47. Light Switch: Write about coming out of the dark and seeing the light.

He sat up in bed and watched her sleep below him. He looked at the face he had known so long, the face he knew better than any other. He remembered the first time he met her, the smooth skin, the flawless smile. Now it was as if someone had taken the youthful oval he knew so well and traced over it – skilfully sketching wrinkles and lines until it had changed in its entirety. The woman lying next to him now was someone completely different.
As he watched he remembered the first time he had seen her face contort in anger. How her plump lips, that he had stolen kisses from so many times, had curled round her teeth. He hadn’t been quite able to believe at the time how he hadn’t noticed how sharp those little teeth were. For days afterwards he had watched them slyly, while she was eating, while she was talking, while she was eating, watching the little incisors cut through meat. Eventually she had dropped her knife and fork with a clatter and asked him if he could please tell her exactly WHAT was so interesting about the way she ate. He had stopped watching after that.
Now his gaze fell over her eyebrows, neatly plucked as ever. He noticed there was a stray hair in the middle, above her nose. She wouldn’t like that. She always maintained her eyebrows herself, (that was her word – “maintained” – as if they were hedges she was pruning) ever since the girl who normally did her brows at the salon had called in sick, and her brows had been done by someone else. The way this mew girl had done it, apparently, was not up to scratch. This was exactly why, she had told him in the car as he drove her home, she didn’t trust people. They let you down, and they messed up even the simplest of things. Her eyebrows had looked fine to him, and he had told her so. She had fallen silent at this, and stared out the window, her face unreadable behind her large sunglasses. He watched his knuckles go white as he gripped the steering wheel. He knew what was coming next, it was just a matter of waiting… It came, as it always did. The long, drawn out sigh, the one that let him know just how infinitely disappointed she was with him, with their marriage, with their life together. It was the same sigh after they slept together, the same tight, painful little smile. And he would ask her what was wrong, so many times, try so many different things, and yet always the same result: nothing was wrong, she was fine, and then that sigh, saying the complete opposite.
He sighed himself now, as he watched her. She never moved in her sleep. No snores, no twitching. Like those statues you lying on top of crypts in churches. Perfect repose. It had seriously made him panic the first couple of times they had slept together. He had fallen asleep with his hand on her heart, the steady heartbeat the only thing reassuring him that she was alive. She had woken up once with his hand still on her breast, her eyebrows raised, not, he thought, in an entirely annoyed way. He grew to hate the way she raised her eyebrows at him, more than anything else. As well as the little sardonic smile that always accompanied them. When he showed her the ship in the bottle he had made, painstakingly, over months. When he finally introduced her, after months of her pointed suggestions, to his small, talkative, overly eager friend Bert from the office. Whenever he came up with a stupid idea – no, whenever he came up with an idea that she found stupid. Because he was stupid, in her eyes. Stupid, useless, disappointing. Ineffectual. An afterthought. He was always there, bumbling after her, getting in the way. He looked down at his hands. Big, lumbering, clumsy hands. He looked them over, flexing his fingers. No. These were strong, skillful hands. Ones that could create things. Kind ones, ones that could stroke and caress. Ones that could love. Ones that could love the right woman.
He sat up, suddenly, like a bolt. He glanced at her quickly, fearfully. Still she was silent. He lifted himself from the bed, carefully and quickly. He eased his suitcase, the one that hadn’t been used since that disastrous holiday to Majorca. He shuddered at the memory even now. He piled his clothes into the suitcase, marvelling at how many he actually had. For some reason he had always thought he had hardly any. His brain was rushing now. Did he have his passport? Driving licence? Car keys? Thank God the car was in his name. Legal papers. Bank statements. There was a bonfire roaring in his head, all of his important documents blackening and curling. He made a mental checklist. Did he have everything? He thought so. He double, triple checked, because he knew that once he left anything he would never see it again.

The sun shone over the quiet suburban street. No one was awake yet. It was a Sunday, even the maniacal car polishers and busy housewives weren’t up yet. The only person awake was a man in a suit and hat, overly formal, as if he were on his way to church. He lifted a heavy suitcase into the boot of his car. He looked, for all intents and purposes, like he was going on a business trip. Except for a small, subtle smile that was slowly dawning across his face. Like the red fingers of sunlight at the start of a glorious day.

365 Day Writing Challenge 11: Dragon

365 Day Writing Challenge

11. Dragon: Envision a dragon. Do you battle him? Or is the dragon friendly? Use descriptive language.


Dragons are not good or evil. They are like people, they are complicated. But there is one important difference: dragons are wild. They are dangerous and they will hurt you if you say or do the wrong thing.
This one looks at me evenly, eyeing me up and down. I can tell by the sheen of its scales that it is a relatively young dragon, only a couple of hundred years old. This doesn’t mean anything of course. Dragons don’t mellow with age.
His scales are dark purple, a rarity which I am sure he is aware of. He keeps raising his neck, swishing his tail so his scales catch the light. This doesn’t mean to say that all dragons are vain. Lots of them are. But a few couldn’t care less about their appearance. I met one who clearly hadn’t cleaned his scales in centuries. He had a coat that was grey with either dust or age, probably both. He had had sleepy eyes and a lazy smile. For a second I had had to remind myself of my own rule that all dragons are dangerous, because he just looked so harmless. I just wanted to be friends with him.
But anyway, back to Obsaquin (for that was the purple dragon’s name). He flicked his tail as he watched me, and I realised it wasn’t just vanity – it was watchfulness too.
“All I ask,” I said, as clearly and as respectfully as I could, “is safe passage through here.”
“Why do you say safe passage?” Obsaquin asked. “Why do you think your passage through here would be unsafe?”
Flick. Flick. Flick.
“Ah, I merely meant-”
“Well then you must say what you mean!”
His voice reverberated around the cave. He was enjoying this.
I tried to keep my face impassive. Obsaquin was small fry. I had met the Lord of the High Dragon Council, Tallo, the Sorceress. I bet Obsaquin hadn’t.
“If I do let you pass….” Obsaquin continued, still playing his little game, “what is in it for me?”
It was getting difficult to hide my impatience.
“The knowledge that you have helped a traveller along her way,” I said, keeping the sarcasm in my voice to a minimum. “Hmm…” he said, pretending to think. I began to reach into my bag. “Not good enough!” he roared, and a plume of fire shot from his grinning lips. I rolled out of the way, but the fire kept coming. All I needed was a second…Damn. I had given Obsaquin too much of a chance, and now I wouldn’t have time to hit him with the potion. I would have to cast a spell instead, which would be much more difficult.
As I ducked and dodged, I tried to think which spell to use. Then it came to me. Perfect. I found a large cauldron and ducked under it, wedging it in a corner of the cave where it would be hard for Obsaquin to move it. He was still in a playful mood, however, for he simply spat more fire at the iron, laughing.
Now came the difficult part. I had to think of cool, and cold. And ice. In a boiling hot cauldron while having fire spewed at me. But I did it. I closed my eyes and thought. I thought of a lake frozen over with ice. I thought of how cold it would feel to fall through the ice, into the freezing water below. Of the quiet beneath the ice. And then I said the Words.
I opened my eyes. The noise from outside had stopped. Another one of Obsaquin’s games? Carefully, gingerly, I looked out from under the cauldron.
Obsaquin was completely frozen. His fire, still shooting from his mouth, was frozen too. His eyes glinted like sapphires. I took out my bag and took out the herbs I needed. I placed them carefully in a circle around Obsaquin. Then I communed with the magic. I told it to thaw Obsaquin out, slowly. I told it to erase his memory of the last twenty minutes.
I swung my bag over my shoulder and headed for the door. I stopped for a second, deciding whether to take some of Obsaquin’s gold. I decided against it. He was only young, after all.

What did you learn From Your Grandparents?



“What did you learn from your grandparents?” This was the tagline on an advert I saw today on a bus for Dirty Grandpa, a new film with Robert DeNiro and Zac Efron. Even though the film looks terrible, it got me thinking. Grandparents are always portrayed as the ones who spoil us, and our relationship with them as good and pure. But lots of the time this isn’t the case, and in face we do learn a lot from them. What did you learn from your grandparents? Let me know in the comments.


She taught me to always appreciate the beauty of poetry. He taught me that I was likeable, that I was fun. She taught me how to make pastry. Then coffee cake. Then scones. Then pastry again. He taught me the joy of drawing moustaches on the faces in the papers. He taught me that spending time with me was not a chore, but something he enjoyed. He taught me that I was special. She taught me that I was a stupid girl. She also taught me that people who call others stupid are stupid themselves… He taught me that people can change. So did she. She taught me that the soft and the savage can come hand in hand. He taught me that your heroes can let you down. She reminded me he was human.



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