When I go to work in the early mornings, I like to watch him work. Once I set out my displays in the shining glass counters and turn on the ovens. I always retreat to the kitchen to prepare. From there I can watch him as he works in the long open room that runs off of my kitchen. The shiny silver stainless steel work table is where he will spend most of his time this morning. He sings along with the radio as he works the soft, pliable dough, sending clouds of white flour into the air. It falls like snow, dusting every surface and clinging to the dark hairs of his forearms. I take him a cup of coffee and he wipes his flour covered hands on his white t-shirt and nods towards the racks at the entrance to indicate I should bring him a biscuit. The flour gets every where. It’s okay for him with his white uniform. I have to be careful when I come back here that my smart black trousers don’t get dusted with the white powder. No matter how careful I am they always do, especially on the days when I sweep out the bakery for him once he is gone. Once he has lined up his little balls of dough on huge trays and left them to work their magic, rising and filling with air, ready to be baked come nightfall.
In The Heart of The Forest
The night was still and moonless, and the thick forest was overgrown and forbidding. The twisted branches shivered and danced despite the absence of any noticeable wind, giving the impression that the forest was alive. Ariel was becoming increasingly unsettled by her surroundings as she made her way carefully through the maze of trees. She was careful of the exposed roots poking through the forest floor waiting like skeletal hands to snatch at her ankles. She tried not to be afraid. She knew that the sounds that were audible all around her belonged to owls, bats and other nocturnal creatures, but they seemed to have been distorted by the darkness and Ariel found herself imagining all manner of strange creatures watching her from behind the trees. Her mind was playing tricks on her and she had to mentally shake herself. After all, she was a little to old to be frightened of monsters lurking in the shadows.
The chill in the air cut her flesh and struck her bones like a sharp blade. She pulled her coat a little tighter around her trying desperately to warm herself. Despite the thick cover of the trees, there was still a carpet of glittering snow on the ground. It crunched under her feet, sparkling like a thousand shattered diamonds. Under normal circumstances, Ariel might have found her surroundings quite pretty. In daylight, snow had a way of making the world seem so beautiful. The white blanket disguising all manner of flaws. But, in the darkness it just seemed bleak and cruel. Wandering into the forest had not been one of Ariel’s smartest plans. She was not exactly appropriately dressed for tramping through the snow in the dead of night without so much as a flash light. Even although she knew the forest like the back of her own hand in daylight, when darkness fell the trees seemed to shift continuously and the once familiar paths became alien to her. Perhaps she should have just gone into the house when she had returned from the party and faced her mother even although Ariel knew that she would have been drunk and that the latest in a long line of sleazy boyfriends was no doubt sprawled on the couch in the tiny living room. At the time she had not felt strong enough to face the inevitable fight and so she had turned and walked into her beloved forest, but now she wondered if dealing with that particular train wreck could have been any worse than freezing herself half to death lost in the forest.
Ariel rarely ventured this deep into the trees during the day never mind at night. However, on entering the forest tonight she had found herself inexplicably drawn to it’s heart. The siren song of the trees pulling her further into the night. There was no question of turning back despite the fear that was causing her heart to hammer in her chest. All at once the thick wall of trees gave way to a clearing that Ariel had never seen before. Without the canopy of trees overhead it was slightly lighter here, but still so dark that Ariel was only able to see a few feet in front of herself. Something ahead glinted and caught her eye.
A fallen tree lay across the centre of the open space like a downed giant slain in battle. The branches were broken and torn. Ariel reached out a hand to touch the rough bark which had begun to rot and crumbled away at her touch. There was something sad about seeing the majestic titan laying broken and decaying where once it had stood strong and proud. She traced her finger along the knots and bumps on the trunk until she found what had been glinting from across the clearing. Embedded in the tree was a smooth silver pendant. It was shaped like a curved claw and was strung on a leather cord. As she closed her hand around it she felt it surprisingly warm to touch. A noise from the edge of the clearing startled her and she spun around to find a glowing pair of cat like eyes watching her from the undergrowth. Her heart began to race and she could not stop herself from trembling as she maintained eye contact with the amber eyes in the shadows. She tried to recall if their were big cats running wild in Scotland, a wildcat perhaps? Or something bigger? Her mind was too full of gruesome visions of being ripped apart by a wild animal to recall any useful snippets of information.
This is another writing exercise which was intended to explore how a particular setting can be portrayed differently depending on the person’s perspective.
She had a spring in her step and a bounce in her step as she entered the brightly lit supermarket. She breathed in deeply enjoying the different smells that mingled together in the air. She could detect hints of the flowers close to the door and the rich smells drifting through the building from the bakery all the way at the back of the store. The bright lights and colourful promotional displays seemed to mirror her upbeat mood. She had worked long and hard for this and she couldn’t wait to go home and celebrate with her husband. She strolled through the aisles with a shopping basket slung over her arm, swinging jauntily from the crook of her elbow. She wanted to choose something special for dinner tonight. She strolled up and down selecting items and placing them in her basket. She was picking out the more expensive treats, ones they normally couldn’t afford. But tonight was a celebration and with the extra money that she would soon be bringing home would cover her little spending spree. With that in mind, she added a bottle of champagne and a box of Belgian chocolate truffles to the rest of her shopping. Then she made her way to the entertainments section, thinking ‘what the hell’ she’d buy a couple of computer games for the boys too. They deserved a treat. It was so much more relaxing being able to shop without mentally calculating the bill in her head, making sure she had enough money in her pocket to cover it. The promotion and the accompanying pay rise would ensure she would be able to breathe a little easier from now on.
She shuffled into the supermarket with her eyes downcast. The bright lights and colourful displays assaulted her eyes, which were raw and tender from crying so hard. The lingering smells of the floral display and the in store bakery caught in her throat bringing yet another wave of nausea washing over her grief stricken body. She could not believe that after this long it was all over. Everything she had sacrificed, everything she had given him, gone without so much as a backward glance. She leaned heavily on the shopping trolley for support, keeping her head down and refusing to meet the eye of any of her fellow shoppers. Normally she liked to spend hours browsing all of the different departments in the supermarket. Not today. Today she was here out of necessity, just so that the children would have something to eat. She was gripped by an overwhelming panic that she would meet someone she knew and she would have to explain why she was here in this state. Her eyes were puffy and swollen. Red rimmed from hours of crying. Her unwashed, unbrushed hair hung in a tangled curtain, obscuring her face. She moved quickly from aisle to aisle, blindly throwing items into the trolley. Who knew what she would cobble together for dinner this evening. There didn’t seem to be anything resembling a complete meal among her random choices. She didn’t care. It was all she could do to function. It was nothing short of a miracle that she had stopped crying long enough for this haphazard shopping trip. She was still numb from the hurtful words they had exchanged, ending a fifteen year love affair between her and her husband.
Welcome to Weekend Words. Each weekend I am going to be sharing a piece of my creative writing. Often these will not be complete works. The entry might be a poem, an extract of something longer or simply a writing exercise.
The first piece of writing that I want to share is an exercise that I found in my notebook. I’m not entirely sure what the brief was, but I like it and I hope you do too!
When I Dream…
I guess when you fall asleep thinking of something it has a tendency to bleed over into your dreams. Last night was one of those dreams. It seemed so real, so vivid. In my dream I was curvy- not fat – that should have been the first clue that I was asleep. In my dream he was at me and I could see the rage flash in his steel grey eyes – but I could also see the little glint of mischief there too and I was not afraid. Playing along with his game I turned to run and his hand caught in my thick dark hair. His free hand took my wrist and I was thrown unceremoniously to the floor. I struggle beneath him as he pinned my hands above by head. I had no real intention of trying to escape, we both knew that would be pointless, but my show of defiance made him laugh. Smiling he leaned down to kiss my mouth. That smile could strike ice cold fear in my heart at times, it was a cruel smile, but today it stirred the butterflies in my stomach. He paused, changed his mind about the kiss and bit down on my bottom lip. He hissed in my ear sending an electric shock pulsing down my spine.
“I love it when you try to fight back little one – as if you could ever win!”