Squirming at the pumpkin guts, your hands scooped into ladles, spooning palmfuls of seed and sludge. We took desert spoons to the wisp remains. Raked the slick walls smooth. Marked out the features with sharpies, a wide outline mouth, hollow eyes, skeleton nose. Sawed kitchen knives through thick sick, fingers squeaking tight on the handles.
This year, that kitchen is someone else’s, and the plants have not spat out anything other than flowers, their yellow blooms autumn mulched into the borders. There is no spilling through the doorway, hat and coats rain kissed into my open arms. No mud footprints on the tiles. Only seeds, sat on the shelf, kept dark and safe, for more hospitable times. My own roots deepening, on the promises pushed away till Spring.
Evening has a weight, a sense of things settling down, comfort in closing.
Grinning, the newsreader finished his story and muttered something half-funny to the reporter next to him. Edmund muted the sound and redialled Atlas, flicking crumbs off his armchair as the phone rang. ‘Heyyyyyy mateyyy…’ Atlas’ voice trailed off. ‘Problems with your connection?’ Edmund asked. The newsreader handed over to the hot weather guy, Edmund tried to remember his name, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Something like Phil, or maybe Mark. ‘Yeah, the line’s bad and I-’ Atlas broke off. ‘Look mate, I’m sorry I hung up on you, I didn’t mean to answer the call, I was dealing with a bank robbery and I forgot my phone was in the suit.’ ‘Bet everyone still came out alive though.’ There was a pause. Edmund tracked the weatherman as he indicated high pressure coming in from the west. ‘You ran headfirst into a train Ed. What did you think was going to happen? The way Tulis tells it, you damn near split your skull like an egg.’ ‘Bruised noggin’, nothing more. Stopped the train.’ ‘And killed every, single passenger on board.’ ‘Most were dead already. Didn’t do them no harm really.’ The weatherman was wrapping up, the camera panning back to the newsreader. ‘Heard you got some certificate,’ Edmund said. The newsreader was grinning again, all teeth and thin lips. Atlas had thin lips, thin nose too, and beady little eyes. A wonder anyone trusted him. Beady eyes were better than a monster out of myth. ‘It’s the Nobel Peace Prize, not a certificate.’ ‘Papers, paper,’ Edmund shrugged. ‘It’s not- ah forget it. Look I got to get going, I’ve still got reports to fill out and the league wants me to drop by once I’m done here.’ ‘What about?’ ‘I- er- I’m not sure.’ Edmund tapped his finger against the chair and sucked in a breath. ‘They want you to deal with me,’ he guessed. ‘No, no, I’m sure it’s not that.’ He pressed the off button, listened to the empty apartment around him. ‘Ed?’ He kept listening. ‘Ed?’ ‘Hey Atlas,’ he said quietly. ‘I think someone’s here.’
It’s been a while since I made use of one of the writing prompts from The Story Shack, mostly because I’ve been writing more poetry than flash fiction over the past couple of years. I think a little variation is good to stretch to writing muscles however.
I’d love to hear any feedback you have on how this format reads. I’m still trying to get to grips with the new block editor so any comments will be greatly appreciated.
Fireworks popping off underneath skin, an explosions against the brickwork. Blood so bright it burns my retinas and when I dreamed I can see it, the splash, the sizzle of colour. My own fists tight as un-popped corks deep in my dressing gown pockets, buried under lint and hidden things, like the sound of bone crack on plasterboard, always plasterboard, this fuse pulled taught between my shoulders unlit and your face so dark with thunder the crash of it in a plate on the kitchen floor, slowly starts to clear.
I feel like I need to preface this poem with the fact that it is not a description of a real event, or specifically based on one real individual. We’ve had sporadic fireworks for the last couple of weeks, so if anything, those are the main source of inspiration. Right with that out of the way, here’s an audio recording of the poem, and a note to say go and check out the rest of the poems written for tonight’s DVersePoets sound prompt.
Janet turned from her monitor, squinted into the gloom.
‘Who now?’ she asked. The hands on the wall clock glowed faintly. Half-seven, closing time was long past and James was still bent over the archive’s central table.
‘This,’ he said, and circled his hand over the papers in front of him, ‘this all belonged to someone who existed. Now all that’s left to mark his existence are cargo lists, household receipts, and half a letter to his land agent.’
‘That’s more than some have,’ Janet shrugged.
‘But how can someone be boiled down to so little? We look at him through the wrong end of the long telescope of time and know less than was once understood.’
‘We work with what we have.’
‘But it’s not enough!’
‘It must be. We can’t turn back time, only save what remains.’
I’ve spent most of today going through history books, journals, and archive online materials to write a post about the history of witchcraft in Shropshire, so I’m feeling a little nostalgic for my time in archives among old letters and documents. For those of you interested in Early Modern history I’ve included the link here.
I do wonder what it will be like for historians hundreds of years from now. If blogs will help with reconstructing the past, or if the overload of information will cause more chaos that clarity. Perhaps something will happen to destroy all the electronically archived information, and we will return to a world of paper and ink. If we are remembered, will it be accurately?
Researching witchcraft in Shropshire is similar to panning for gold when the river has run dry. These days, there is a wealth of information regarding the ‘European Witch Crazes’ of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but Shropshire is rarely mentioned. Even when Shropshire does come up, it’s for no more than a sentence or two. This lack of history can perhaps be accredited to the narrowness of the field of study. Between 1563 and 1736, less than 500 executions were carried out for the crime of witchcraft in England.1 Europe on the other hand saw 100,000 individuals tried and less than 50,000 put to death.2 Accusations of witchcraft also rarely saw just one person implicated, resulting in numerous ‘suspects’ popping up once once the accused was questions. This resulted in localised pockets of witches being discovered in certain towns and villages, rather than nationwide witch hunts.