#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

Just life, Writing journey

A Day of Celebrations: The RNA Joan Hessayon Awards

Yesterday should have been a day for digging out my make up, wearing the dress planned days before, to attend the RNA’s York Afternoon Tea and have hugs from my writing tribe after a year apart. We all should have been  sitting around a table full of delicious treats, clutching our wine and holding our breath for the announcement of the  Joan Hessayon Award winner. Our very own Emma Jackson was a nominee after her whirlwind of a year. She has published three books since the conference with the fourth ready before Christmas.  A Mistletoe Miracle was her debut. The nominees were:

RNA nominees

Instead, we were behind our computers and iPads in our own homes watching the proceedings online. Individual squares of nominee faces appeared on the screen with the introduction from the Chair Alison May. Everyone watched the delightful speech from last year’s winner Lorna Cook as she prepared to pass on the trophy. Katie Fforde announced the winner the shocked Melissa Oliver with her novel The Rebel Heiress and the Knight, Mills and Boon Historical.

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Congratulations Melissa!

The claps and whoops Melissa deserved were lost in cyber space. Technology is great and has helped connect us all during the pandemic but nothing beats the atmosphere of celebrations when people are together in reality. The excited buzz filling the room adds to the occasion and spontaneous, unique memories are be formed by one off chats, unexpected meetings and the chance to find new friends. Hopefully, next year everyone will have a chance to congratulate Melissa Oliver in person so she gets the recognition she deserved this time and we can also celebrate the RNA 60th birthday as planned with great company and food like last year.

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One of my dear friends in our writing group, Emma Wilson has signed up to Kate Nash’s agency so I hope we will have another good reason to celebrate if she is nominated for next year’s award with her wonderful heartfelt novel. Watch this space.

If you are looking for a spooky gripping read for the long chilly nights in the run up to Halloween grab Emma Jackson’s The Devil’s Bride. My review for it is here.

The Devil's Bride cover

More soon, stay safe and happy writing!

Love

just Kate

 

September is Dystonia Awareness month; I am taking part in the Dystonia Around the World challenge to raise funds and awareness for Dystonia UK. More info can be found here.

I'm taking part

#DystoniaAroundTheWorld Challenge, Short story

Flash Fiction for #DystoniaAroundTheWorld: The Fallen

Hello September! The beginning of my favourite season and Dystonia Awareness Month. As promised in my previous blog, I am sharing flash fiction written for the Dystonia Around The World challenge in aid throughout the month. My aim is to complete 1000 miles of writing to fundraise and spread awareness for Dystonia UK. I have faltered in my writing thanks to dystonia flaring but I am hoping to get back on track.For more information and my fundraising page, click here.

So following on from the woodland theme of A Walk in the Woods which I shared  to celebrate 100 miles, here is The Fallen.

 

The Fallen

 

Her long fingers ran over the ridges of the rough bark, and along the smoother lime lichen. They dipped into a furrow, disturbing a black beetle in its resting place. It scuttled away. A lone tear escaped, betraying her efforts of being stoic. She bit her lip and gulped the sob down. When the news came in, she hoped this magnificent solid specimen would survive, but the abundance of blue sky at their approach confirmed her fears. In full leaf and his splendour finery on display, he did not stand a chance when the high winds ripped through the woodland, uprooting the sturdy, and whipping the young, testing their resolve to survive.  The majestic were felled by an unforgiving and relentless storm set on destruction to transform the familiar and loved landscape. The words on the clipboard blurred as she marked her location on the map and scribbled on the form. Name: Quercus.

How many others would mourn the loss of the magnificent oak, the keeper of secrets, creator of memories? More than enough, she decided. There were those who stood under the green canopy for illicit kisses, the readers who immersed themselves in another world while cocooned in his branches and generations of children who learnt to climb on his accommodating lower limbs. She moved along to locate the lovers’ initials circled by a deeply scratched heart, a sign of their eternal love, except now it was over with the exposure of the labyrinth of roots ripped from the earth.

Age? She nibbled the end of her pencil. 569 years. Her certainty wavered but there was no time to check. The petrichor intensified as she bent down to place her ear and flat palm against the trunk, hoping to feel the low thud of his wooden heart. His silence matched the crows circling above.

No one knew it was coming. There was no warning. Her chest tightened. Except from Harold. His repeated mutterings of an incoming storm increased in strength the evening before, but they were ignored and then silenced by the turn of a bedroom key; all of them certain his prophecy belonged to a storm decades before, playing on a historical loop in his mind. It made no difference; it could not be stopped, but she could have captured the landscape in her memory one last time.

It’s the circle of life. The fallen would provide shelter and nutrient for the new, but the flash of neon yellow through the remaining trees and groan of machinery advancing said different. She pressed her lips to the bark and murmured her goodbye. With a flick of her black tipped delicate wings, she darted away.

 

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More soon. Take care and stay safe!

Love

just Kate