#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

 

#DystoniaAroundTheWorld Challenge, Dystonia Around the World Challenge, work in progress, Writing journey

The first 10 miles of #DystoniaAroundTheWorld Challenge: New Ideas and Beginnings for Stories

 

Yesterday, I shared my intention to raise awareness and much needed donations for dystonia by signing up to the Dystonia Around The World challenge. I have downloaded an app on to my phone to time my writing and the journey has begun. According Dystonia UK, ten minutes of an activity equals one mile. This is a lot less daunting than I originally thought when I read it as one hour equals a mile. Maybe I will complete 1000 hours on this project depending on the length of time the challenge runs for and the donations, but for now we will focus on one mile at a time until I travel 100 miles.

Where can we go?

This morning, I had achieved over ten miles of writing. This made me think of where I could virtually visit in my 100 miles target. Manchester is always an option and it would be nice to catch up with friends but yesterday I saw a wonderful shop I long to visit, The Curiosity Society in Haworth, North Yorkshire. It looks full of atmosphere and magical inspiration to get the creative sparks flying. At 80 miles away, it fits perfectly with a quick detour to one of my favourite places to relax, the sea.

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So with my ten miles I am banking them for a Horlicks and a tea cake on Bridlington beach to blow away the cobwebs of shielding and isolation. One day soon, I will do it for real, but until then memories and imagination will have to do.

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My progress so far

With those miles, I have written the beginning of a short story about a cursed locket and a potential scene from my current work in progress inspired by the prompt, the scarecrow, given by my local writing group for homework. I doubt I will use it in the manuscript, but it gives an insight into one character. Watch this space; it will be available to read in September.

Catch up soon.

Happy writing and 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.