#DystoniaAroundTheWorld Challenge, Dystonia Around the World Challenge

#DystoniaAroundTheWorld Flash Fiction: Shattered Dreams

It is the end of Dystonia Awareness Month but not the end of the Dystonia Around the World challenge. Dystonia UK have extended it until the end of October – phew! I may achieve my mission of 1000 miles after all. To support or find out more about the challenge and dystonia click here.

This piece was written from the writing prompt, scarecrow, given by my local writing group. It always amazes me how diverse people’s flash fiction is from the same word and where their imagination takes them. Graham is a side character in my current work in progress; I hope you enjoy.

Shattered Dreams

Graham’s mood plummeted as he slipped into the village hall to join the adults lining the wall. All standing in silence. The class was still in progress. He checked his watch. Time was ticking and his meticulously planned schedule was in jeopardy; the match started in less than an hour. It was not fair, Saturday’s were his time to relax with the lads, and a few beers after a long week at the office yet with one phone call from Louise’s work and his Mum’s refusal to babysit, he was watching a troop of girls dancing to music from an out of tune piano. He consoled himself that if they ran, he could still make kick off and easily bribe Elsa with extra screen time and chocolate while he took a shower to wash the remains of football training from him. What Lou did not know wouldn’t hurt her.

Not that song. He groaned at the familiar tune drifting across the hall. The woman next to him tutted to highlight her disdain at the interruption. She studied his clothes and stepped back to avoid the mud splattered on his tracksuit staining her white jeans. Dingle Dangle Scarecrow -the loop of lyrics wormed into his brain during their summer holiday when Elsa played it on repeat. The worm roared to life again as the would-be ballerinas rose from the floor to spring into action with their floppy hands. He knew he would hum the blasted tune next week in meetings unless something more suitable replaced it soon. For the second time in minutes, he cursed his Mum for encouraging his youngest to join this class. 

With his hands stuffed in his pockets, he shook his head and released a deep sigh. His fingers clutched the cold metal of a whistle; he did not belong here. Elsa did not belong here. Not his daughter. She belonged with her brother and cousins, getting muddy on a football pitch. As soon as Louise announced her pregnancy everyone expected another boy; a brother for Jake to play with. A girl had not been born to the Towsers for generations. There was no need to believe the run would end with him. He purchased a babygro supporting Leeds United after the first trimester and dreamt of taking his sons to a home match. Louise’s eyes lit up when the midwife announced the newborn placed in her arms was a girl and she had visions of dresses, bows and playing princesses, but the football bug won.  Elsa preferred playing with her male cousins on the pitch and helping his Dad in the shed while dressed in dungarees to playing pretend with dolls. She never wore dresses after the raging tantrum when she was a bridesmaid. His dream of watching his child play for England remained intact. But now, she had traded shorts for a pink leotard and her studded boots for delicate ballet slippers. The mop of unruly hair was tamed into the classic sleek bun. He struggled to recognise her as she enthusiastically pointed her toes. The music stopped, and Elsa nudged the neighbouring girl sharing a joke, their eyes alive with happiness. There was no mistake; this was the mythical Laura who had captured Elsa’s friendship and pressuring her into following rather than being the leader he imagined Elsa being. And then his Mum encouraged her by saying everyone deserves the chance to dance? What was that about? His mum never danced in her life.

“Ok my little scarecrows, it’s time to get changed but remember, ballet is all about practise.” The teacher rose on pointe and spun several times with a grace Graham had never seen before. Elsa’s mouth dropped in awe at the magic she was seeing. Graham ambition shattered. He knew he had lost her to a world of bright lights and tutus.   

Happy writing and stay safe!

More soon.

Love

#DystoniaAroundTheWorld Challenge, Dystonia Around the World Challenge, flash fiction

Dystonia News and Flash Fiction for #DystoniaAroundTheWorld: The Man in the Moon

It’s Friday which is a perfect time to grab a cup of tea and relax for five minutes with a story. The writing prompt, the man on the moon was given by my local writing group who I meet up weekly via Zoom. Thank heavens for technology allowing us to still connect with friends.

The Man in the Moon

Therese ground the purple flowers into the pestle. The calming fragrance failed to soothe her escalating rage. Maybe she needed something stronger than lavender tea. The sloe gin was tempting and fitting for the time of year, but she wanted a clear mind while she wrote her letter of complaint. How dare they? Was nothing sacred? Whoever came up with the idea and sanctioned the production of that advert was going to get the sharp side of her tongue. Using Father Christmas was acceptable: his meaning may be warped to a figure of excess and consumerism, but his spirit was still there, and it cheered her to see the more traditional dress appearing on cards but this. They were peddling a perpetual lie and indoctrinating children into believing it. It was an obvious example of patriarchal oppression. Everyone knew the moon belonged to the Goddess, with the female counterpart of the male Sun. Well, they did until they spread the tall tale about a bloody woodcutter stealing sheep on Sabbath or Cain cast out to circle the earth forever to push her aside. There was no man on the moon. She clenched her fist tight around the pen and pressed firmly on the paper. Scratching it as she wrote: 

Dear Mr John Lewis,

Dystonia Challenge News

September and Dystonia Awareness Month is flying by. Awareness of this neurological condition is key for research into treatments and cures, support and early diagnosis. The graphic gives an overview of what dystonia is.

What is dystonia?

I am slowly adding to the miles for the challenge for Dystonia UK as you can see here and I am excited to see the team I am in, D.U.N.E is currently at the top of the leaderboard.

For more information about the #DystoniaAroundTheWorld challenge or to support the cause, click here.

Have a wonderful weekend. What will you be reading?

Happy writing and reading. Stay safe!

Love

#DystoniaAroundTheWorld Challenge, Dystonia Around the World Challenge, flash fiction, Short story, Uncategorized, Writing journey

Flash fiction for #DystoniaAroundThe World: The Priest Hole

Yesterday night, I limped over the 200 miles of writing milestone so I am sharing with you, The Priest Hole, the first tale from Mexenby Hall. It’s publication is much later than I imagined but dystonia is predictably unpredictable and I should have realised as soon as I pledged to write 1000 miles the #DystoniaAroundTheWorld challenge it would fight back in the worst way by affecting my vision. Days have been lost but like all travellers on an epic adventure, I am just moving forwards one step at a time.

Flash Fiction: The Priest Hole by Kate Kenzie

 

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Darkness cloaked the narrow passageway. The small candle’s flame flickered with every exhalation and cast little light as Nell gingerly eased herself towards the steep spiralling steps. Her worn uniform and thin borrowed shawl offered little protection against the bitter cold emanating from the damp stone walls.

The privilege Nell felt earlier when summoned to the Great Hall and took into the Lady’s confidence after only a few weeks of employment seeped away as the walls constricted and the rising stench of unemptied chamber pots forced her to question her easy compliance. The Lady hid her true faith well. Any rumours rippling through the staff of clandestine visits from the cast out priest were quickly stamped on by the sharp tongue or slap from Cook and the staff’s forced attendance to the dreary church service every Sunday while the Lady stood in the family pew crushed any lingering doubts. Nell never guessed until she heard the simple request and now she wanted to return to the warm wood panelled room with the crackling fire she lit earlier to retract her agreement, but the clunk of the entrance closing sealed her fate.

Clutching her bundle close to her pounding chest, she swallowed down the wave of nausea, licked her dry lips, and rolled back her shoulders; she could do this and stepped down into the abyss. The twisting staircase plummeted into the depths of the property and she wondered whether the priest had traded the raging flames of Hell he feared for an icy, stagnant equivalent. A hacking cough echoed upwards. She froze and listened. Would the sound penetrate the thick walls of Mexenby Hall and alert the visitors to his presence? Would it lead to his violent demise? And hers? She made the sign of the cross with the candle and prayed. It remained silent except for a shuffling below. He was close. Nell hastened her descent: the sooner she delivered the bundle, the sooner her role as a small cog in the bigger machine would be complete and she could retreat to safety.

The dancing flame illuminated the bare and compact room. A dark shape rose from the corner, uncurling itself to reveal a bent figure hidden beneath a thick cloak. A hand clawed with arthritis beckoned her over. Fear grabbed Nell and the words announcing the arrival of food caught in her constricted throat. She wanted to flee, scramble up the way she came but her feet refused to comply. A cold draft wrapped itself around her ankles, shackling her to the ground as the figure approached.

“Come child,” it crooned. The voice was smooth and mesmerising. “You have nothing to fear. Not you.”

The hand grasped hers. Nell pulled, but the hand clenched hers tighter into a vice grip.  Nell’s eyes widened; the hood flung back,  revealing an elderly woman whose mass of white hair was braided into a long tail, and her blue eyes pierced deep into Nell’s soul, pinning her into place. A searing heat radiated up her arm. The bundle fell to the floor, unravelling, sending small loaf and apple rolling into a puddle. The scurry of small feet told her it had not gone unnoticed, but Nell could not take her eyes off the woman before her. The Old Crone of Mexenby. A legend of nightmares and fairy tales. A toothless smile emerged from the folds of the wrinkled face.

“It’s true. They don’t lie, even when the truth feels impossible. They don’t lie. You are the one. The one that can save us all.”

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You can find out more about the dystonia challenge to raise awareness for dystonia and keep up to date on my progress here. Here is to the next 100 miles and hopefully I will be a step closer to reaching my target of £250.

Happy writing and stay safe!

Love

just Kate

Dystonia UK: https://www.dystonia.org.uk/

My fundraising page: https://www.dystoniaaroundtheworld.org/fundraiser/katekenzie

My team’s progress: https://www.dystoniaaroundtheworld.org/fundraisers/dunedystoniauknortheast

#DystoniaAroundTheWorld Challenge, Dystonia Around the World Challenge, Short story, Writing journey

#DystoniaAroundTheWorld Celebrations and a Walk in the Woods

Not only have I completed 100 miles of writing enabling me to virtually visit my dream destination, The Cabinet of Curiosities, in Haworth, Yorkshire but I have leaped over the £100 mark in donations.

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As promised for reaching my £100 target, I am sharing a piece of flash fiction before September when Dystonia Awareness Month begins. Thank you so much for all your support and donations. It is appreciated by myself and all those involved with the #DystoniaAroundTheWorld challenge.

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A Walk in Bluebell Woods

Mary did not know why she stopped the car in the lay-by. She did not remember turning off the motorway. Perhaps it was the relief that the dreaded meeting had been cancelled, or maybe it was the tears running down her face that forced self-preservation to kick in, but it was the trail of bluebells snaking through the oak trees that made her get out of the car and follow the dancing flowers through the woodland.

Dappled green light shone through the canopy above her. She was not wearing the most appropriate footwear for the woodland as her high heels sank into the ground, but the blue path urged her forward. When was the last time she ventured into a wood?

Mary’s heart lurched as his disapproving face flooded her mind. He would not approve of such unfeminine activities as clambering over the fence or stumbling over the hidden roots in the deep foliage. She swore as she snagged her tights. The sting of the scratch bringing her back to reality as the rustling of the leaves in the soft breeze and the chattering birds calmed her thoughts.

The trees opened to reveal a bumbling stream, Mary sat on its bank while the motorway droned in background. As the sun warmed her face she imagined it as a roaring river or the buzz of a bee close by. She had always been told that she had a good imagination.

Suddenly an image of her mum’s smiling face flashed by; “Always my little Pollyanna,” she would say. Where did that go? Her positivity, the ability of always looking on the bright side and appreciating the little things; every day the greyness seeped in, dragging her down and strangling any glimpses of future happiness. A wall had slowly formed between herself and her colleagues leading her to watch the world in a haze.

Unable to resist she slipped off her tights and dipped her feet in the ice cool water. Making figure of eights she watched the ripples spread across the stream distorting the pebbles below. Her shoulders relaxed. She felt calm. She could feel the moment.

Mary looked at the ring of faded bruises around her ankle before rolling her sleeve up to reveal the fresh marks around her wrist. She had felt each one form as he crushed her against the wall, shouting her latest failures while his alcohol fumed spittle joined her tears. The list of her misdemeanours grew by the day, her body recording each of his disappointments.

Looking around her oasis, she didn’t want to leave or go home.

Home! The word conjured up fresh memories; warm dinners, being cocooned in love and surrounded by laughter. Touching her barely noticeable rounded stomach, she reached for her phone amazed at finding a signal. Her fingers glided over the keyboard remembering the number from years ago. Her heart thudded, and skipped a beat, as a familiar voice answered.

“Hi Mum, it’s me.”

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Thanks again for supporting Dystonia UK.

Catch up soon when I have written more miles.

Stay safe!

Love

just Kate

If you would like to sponsor or follow my journey for the Dystonia Around The World challenge my page is here. Or follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

#DystoniaAroundTheWorld Challenge, Dystonia Around the World Challenge, Writing journey

100 miles complete and virtual visit to Haworth #DystoniaAroundTheWorld

I am thrilled to announce I have completed 100 miles of my Dystonia Around The World challenge. From a virtual paddle at the beach, I trundled to Burton Agnes Hall and Gardens, East Yorkshire for an ice cream, soak up the atmosphere in the variety of gardens and hunt for the fairies in the woods. It brims with inspiration for regal dalliances and childish tales. When I am able, it will be one of the first places I revisit. 

 

From there I visited the wonderful city of York with the Minster, quirky shops and cobbled streets including The Shambles. My last visit was for the RNA Afternoon Tea, something that will be greatly missed this year. 

 

 

My final destination is The Cabinet of Curiosities in Haworth, Yorkshire. This former Victorian Druggist and apothecary has been restored into somewhere magical. With delightful mugs, cosmetics, candles and witchy books my bank balance is relieved it was a cyber tour. As I do not have photos of my own, this Facebook post will have to do. Isn’t it amazing? When I do get the opportunity to be there in person, expect a long post on the experience. 

 

 

Now my goal is I have increased it to 1000 miles. Where could I go next? 

If you would like to find more about my writing challenge click here or if you would like to support me visit my fundraising page, here

Once I have reached £100, I will release a piece of flash fiction on this blog,

More soon.

Love

just Kate