Rhiannon looks to the sky to see a bird in flight. All her life she has always been in tune with nature, taken by the wind and I’ve never seen her move. She watches a cat cloud in the sky, ready to swallow a fish and she promised me heaven. The fish is swimming to its mother for protection, will it ever win? A monkey looks down on her satisfied that everything is right in this world where nothing is real, but everything is happy even when they descend into darkness. She rules her life like a fine skylark when the sky is starless. The woman has been taken by the wind, so she rings like a bell through the night, to tell me she wants to be my lover. Will I ever win? My dreams unwind, they have become a state of mind, oh Rhiannon.
I picked my dad up from Memory Care, where he lives now, to bring him to the surgeon that saw him a few months ago as his hernia is hurting. Poor guy was only worried that the doctors might forget to put him to sleep before cutting him open. It has got to be hard to not know, without the memory to hold on to, whether people are going to be as careful with you as they can. Anyhow, the doctor will do the procedure laparoscopically and recovery shouldn’t be too difficult. The good news is he won’t have to go to a nursing home, recovery will be at his own place.
After the doctors we met David at First Watch. This place is great with all of its recipes being all-natural. The food is fantastic as are the drinks. After we finished David drove home and I started driving back to Memory Care. My father, who has always had a problem with swallowing, began coughing and choking on phlegm. Back to the hospital, the ER this time. After checking for pneumonia and any blockage he was sent home with a fairly good bill of health, thank God.
So we stopped for dinner at Dunkin’ Donuts. He loves his sweets, and had bavarian cream, chocolate covered donuts for dinner. He was so happy! By the time we left he was ready for bed so we headed to his facility. I tucked him in and all was well…
On another note, we were supposed to close on a new home this coming Friday…but the owner passed away. He was in his late 90’s and in a nursing home. Unfortunately for us we may have to wait for the home to go through probate. David and I will have to decide how long we are willing to wait and if we should begin looking for another place again. Just my luck!
There is so much going on in this picture, from ducks, cats and fish in the clouds, to apes, birds and other animals in the rock formations, plus of course our Face Island. The more you look at the image, the more you see! It was a land of collective souls.
It was not restricted to man or beast, and those who found it as their final resting place became part of a greater presence, giving their best and casting off their demons.
It was a world of tranquility and peace, rebirth and renewal, dating back millennia, to a time of dragons and unicorns, magic and wonder. Anything once living was embedded here for eternity and lived in perfect harmony. Two shadowy figures haunted the waterfall, trapped between life and the afterlife, not yet ready to cross…
*****For any participants that do NOT like restrictions, please feel free to participate in any way you would like. It is great to read the contributions!****
Set up a timer or sit near a clock so you can keep track of the six minutes you will be writing.
You can either use one of the prompts (photo or written) or you can free-write.
Get ready and write for 6 minutes, that is it! Can you write a complete story? Can you think of a new Sonnet? Can you write 400 words? 400? 500? There are no restrictions on what kind of writing you do, but you should try to be actively writing for six minutes.
After you are done writing, include your word count and then post back to this page #Simply6Minutes or include your link in the comments section. Pingbacks are enabled.
*Feel free to leave your work completely unedited. I believe it is good to see, especially for new writers, that even very seasoned writers don’t write a perfect first draft.*
Have fun, challenge yourself if you’d like, read and respond to others’ posts.
Welcome to the book tour for thriller, Of Black Bulls and White Horses by Roland Ladley! It’s also on sale for just $0.99 for Kindle. Read on for more details!
Of Black Bulls and White Horses
Publication Date: December 14th, 2020
Emily Copeland is a young teacher at an inner city school. And she’s good at it. One Christmas her mother shares a long held secret of a teenage affair with a French fisherman. Months later her mother is killed in a hit and run and Emily’s life is dislodged from its axis.
With the school summer holidays approaching, Emily decides on a cathartic journey to revisit the French seaside village where, all those years ago, her mother enjoyed her summer fling. Clutching a series of old holiday snaps, she sets off with the ambition of closure. However, the Camargue – where the mighty Rhône meets the Mediterranean – holds deep secrets. It’s a lawless place of cowboys and gipsies, of mudflats, lakes and meandering tributaries … and of black bulls and white horses.
Emily’s journey soon ends up being more than just a rehearsal of her mum’s past. As she traces her footsteps, the romantic memories she unearths of a previous summer paint an altogether more sinister picture of the present. And Emily’s trip turns out to be one of enlightenment and of deceit; and of abuse and of greed. Ultimately it’s a story that ends in death … and in love.
Emily had her back to the class, facing the whiteboard. She had to stand on tiptoes to reach the top. Some bright spark from maintenance had fitted the new interactive boards last summer and she was sure they had purposely put hers a few inches higher than the original. She wasn’t short. Not short, short. At 155cm she was hardly legs up to your bottom tall, but she always considered herself to be an endearing height.
It made reaching the top shelf in her kitchen cupboards a struggle without a stool. And – on her feet all day with her spine contracting by the hour – after lunch the top of the whiteboard was an effort.
She bit her bottom lip as she wrote out, ‘Pythagoras’s Theorem’, in capitals. In blue. She underlined it. And then turned quickly on her heel. You didn’t want to have your back to Year 9D for any longer than was necessary.
‘OK, team, let’s recap …’ She stopped mid-sentence.
Something was up.
There usually was.
There were sixteen pupils in this, the fourth maths set of five in Year 9. When the classes had been divvied out at the beginning of term INSET training, her class had been described by her head of maths as ‘lively’. That was like calling a great white shark, ‘a bit bitey’.
But they were her Year 9 set. And, bless them, they weren’t nearly as bad as her predecessor had made out. Alison, who was now off on maternity leave, had taken most of Emily’s current class last year – and she hadn’t made it to Christmas. After weeks of staffroom tears, there had been an incident with a textbook that had mysteriously shredded itself and ended up out the window, its pages fluttering across the games field. Alison had, apparently, confronted a boy who was big for his age and had a tongue on him. The word ‘bitch’ couldn’t be ignored, even if it had been under the lad’s breath. As a result Alison had stormed out of the room leaving the class to fend for itself until the next door teacher recognised the noise of near-anarchy for what it was.
Alison didn’t teach her Year 8 set again.
So far though, Emily was keeping a lid on them. And they were learning something. Albeit in fits and starts.
With some classes you often just had to let kids’ frustrations play out. Especially in the last period on a Thursday, having come straight from PE where stale sweat was a stronger essence than even the spray-on, carcinogenic board cleaner.
Now looked like it was going to be one of those times.
Emily’s nose twitched. It was an instinctive reaction.
She looked up and down the classroom. Three rows of tables, each row broken into four so that she could navigate the room quickly and not get stuck top left when all hell was breaking out at the bottom right.
Like most teachers she designed her own seating plans. There were unwritten rules, borne of previous teachers’ experiences of the same pupils. Who should not sit next to whom. Who had learning difficulties. Which children were classified as ‘Pupil Premium’ and, therefore, came from particularly disadvantaged backgrounds. They needed special care and attention both in terms of the questions you asked them and the tone you used.
For example, it was no use asking Shaun to complete work using the internet as he lived with his gran, who didn’t have Wi-Fi … and, in any case, Shaun didn’t have a computer. Harriet, Mobina, Massimo and Darren couldn’t afford dinner money, let alone a calculator.
And there was Lauren.
She respected no one. As far as Emily knew, Lauren lived a half-itinerant life, moving from her aunty to a friend’s house, and back again. Her father was locked up for armed something or other, and her mother was either an alcoholic, or drugged up, or both, most of the time. So Lauren had no adults to respect. So she respected no adults.
But Emily was against wholesale, teacher-led segregation when it came to the seating plan. Other than her sixth form, where she allowed her students to sit anywhere they wished, she started the year with a best guess – putting kids in places she thought would suit them. And then she let the arrangement change as the year developed and friendships and conflicts emerged.
With just sixteen in this class and thirty-five chairs – the sets got smaller the further down the ability ladder you slid – she had been able to group her Year 9 class into enclaves of reasonable behaviour, which in turn sometimes encouraged half decent work. It was never easy.
Bless them, though. Apart from Madi, who should be moving up to Evan Jones’s set some time soon, maths was none of her class’s favourite. Every topic was a struggle. Every ‘x’ a smudge on the board. Every ‘y’ a question rather than a letter representing a variable.
No wonder they misbehaved.
‘I’ve lost all my pencils, miss.’ It was Ben. An almost adorable short lad who was the class clown. On his left was Will, son of a bricklayer, who was brighter than he thought he was. On Ben’s right, Karim, a Sudanese lad with an incongruously massive afro, who was definitely brighter than he thought he was.
‘Shu’ up, Ben.’ Lauren’s surly retort cut through rising tension from the other end of the classroom.
Triangulation was going to be difficult now. Ben was clearly making a play, which Emily would be happy to see through if it didn’t go on for too long. Lauren, who took no prisoners and scared the wits out of everyone in the class including the boys, was bored and might well kick off at any moment which would leave someone in tears.
And Pythagoras was still asking for all of their attentions.
Emily raised a gentle hand in Lauren’s direction.
‘Try not to use that language, please, Lauren.’ She shot the girl a half-smile and then almost in the same sentence, ‘Where are your pens, Ben? Tell me.’
Ben, Will and Karim were all smiles. Ben, who could be cute, cheeky and bloody devious all in the same breath, snorted, his eyes damp with suppressed laughter.
Where’s this going?
She had no idea. So she went on the offensive.
‘Can you borrow one? Say from Karim … or Will?’ Emily, armed with a straightened index finger, pointed at both boys, one after the other.
‘… grow up, morons.’ The first part of Lauren’s sentence was a mumble, but it might have included the words ‘fucking’ and ‘well’. Emily knew she was close to losing control and might have to resort to a sanction; maybe even ask someone to leave the room. Early intervention was key. But, for her, sanction was always a last resort and she saw it as a failure. On top of that it disrupted the class and always shattered any ambience she had managed to create.
She waited for an answer.
Ben, who even sitting down was nipple-height to the much taller Karim, turned to his friend and said, ‘Can I borrow a pen?’
Will was also struggling to contain himself. Emily still had no idea where this was going, but so far it was pretty harmless … and might be very funny. They managed that sometimes.
‘Please,’ Ben replied, his shoulders lifting and falling below his soundless giggles.
Karim, still looking straight ahead and with a deadpan face, lifted a hand and pointed to his afro.
Emily could see it then.
Karim’s hair was full of pens and pencils. She could see the red rubber of a pencil sneaking a peep from the black, curly mass of Karim’s 80s-style hairdo. Alongside it was the silver top of a biro. You could hide the stationery store in there.
‘Thanks,’ Ben said, gulping down a snort.
He then stood and carefully and thoroughly removed six pens and two pencils from Karim’s hair. And still none of the three broke into laughter. But the rest of the class, who might well have seen the trick before, couldn’t stop themselves.
‘Sure, Lauren. Sure,’ Emily replied, smiling and shaking her head at the same time.
As the giggles lost their momentum and Ben finished systematically collecting the contents of his pencil case from Karim’s afro, Emily put up both hands to try to bring some gravitas to the situation …
… just as the classroom door opened.
And the headmistress came in.
‘Miss Copeland. May I borrow you for a moment?’
The headmistress never visited Emily’s classroom. Behind her was one of the deputy heads. This was odd … and ominous. Emily’s brain spun … and she noticed the class had gone unnaturally quiet.
‘Sure.’ Emily shook her head for a reason she didn’t understand.
‘You might want to bring your things.’ The head nodded at her rucksack which was by her chair.
Was she being arrested? Was the head here to sack her? Images of failed bankers pushing open large glass doors with their hips, their arms overloaded with boxes full of personal possessions, flashed through her consciousness.
‘Ehh. Yes. Of course.’
The head smiled, more a grimace than a smile. The deputy was already in the room. He was looking up at the board.
‘Pythagoras,’ Emily said, as she loaded her rucksack.
‘Got it,’ was his reply. He was now looking at the class with trepidation.
‘Good luck,’ she whispered, and then she slipped out through the door the head was holding open. The corridor beyond was dark and faintly oppressive.
Emily heard the clunk of the door closing, stopped and turned back towards the head, who was a few feet behind her.
The head’s face told the story. Whatever news was coming next was bad. The worst. Emily instinctively knew.
‘Who?’ she said.
The head stuttered. She started to put her hands up to hold Emily by the shoulders, but the distance between them made the attempted hug impossible. So, she dropped her arms back to her side.
I am an ex-British Army colonel with operational service in Bosnia, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan. I was subsequently a secondary school maths teacher for 8 years. And since 2014, my wife and I have been itinerant, driving around Europe in our motorhome, penning the Sam Green thriller series.
In 2020, during lockdown and on advice from a publisher, I wrote of Black Bulls and White Horses, my first and only non-Sam Green novel.
Book 2 in the Sam Green series, Fuelling the Fire, won a Kindle Scout publishing contract. And, the as yet unnamed, book 8 in the series will be published in 2022.
It felt like only yesterday the day that I tugged on my hat grabbed my red parka, and left the art gallery I cupped my hands to the glass to see now the canvas leaning against my wall is a vestige to the life I used to live when I was adroit and could sell any piece I wanted to no matter how gruff or stern the buyer was and I never looked down my nose at anyone I guess that is why my gallery used to always be full
How do you feel about sharing your computer or phone password with your partner? I don’t really mind but it doesn’t really ever come up. Sometimes I like to think it is nice to have a “place” to go that no one else can go to but if David asked I would tell him.
What is the greatest struggle you’ve overcome? (This isn’t meant to be invasive, just use general terms if you’d like. Or if not, feel free to pass on the question. That’s allowed too). Losing my son and being able to be happy again.
If heaven is real and you died tomorrow, do you think you would get in? Why or why not? (this is purely speculation, no bias if you don’t believe) Definitely get in. I have done a few naughty things in my life but nothing bad enough to warrant me going anywhere else!
What makes you feel like you really need to be alone? Being really tired! When I am tired I am irritable which then makes me get annoyed easily. I have a few sensory issues so if I am really tired I get agitated easy.
GRATITUDE SECTION (as always, optional)
Do you have any traditions around this time of year? not anymore…time to make new ones I suppose!
Sometimes I see pictures like this and I don’t really know what to say. I mean, is this a lion dreaming about zebras? A dazzle of zebras telling horror stories about a lion? (Seriously, a group of zebras is called either a herd, a dazzle, or a zeal. I like dazzle. You might like something else. To each his own.)
Or is this one of those pictures you have to stare at until you start to see some other image emerge from the chaos? Remember those? They used to sell them at shopping malls, in those art stores that sold framed posters. Seriously, you could buy a framed Ty Wilson print for $75. That’s $74.50 for the frame, $0.50 for the print.
Sadje is asking this question: Are you excited about tomorrow or worried?
I am also more of an optimist so I choose to think about all of the things that are coming and all the positives. I do worry a lot but realize that my worries are sometimes just ideas I have put into my own head without any real reason. On a bad day I feel like I would like to hurry to the next day, just to have a better day. Overall, I voice my worries and concerns but know that tomorrow is a new day.