Category: <span>Writing</span>

I’ve always admired poets, admired with envy as I gaze upon their words, the way they flow, the imagery they conjure, the emotions captured and delivered with subtle grace and ingenuity. Hell even just getting a few paragraphs that follow some form of cadence is a miracle to me.

Oh yes, I’ve tried my hand but beyond a few rhyming couplets I start to stutter.

My Dad on the other hand was, it turns out, quite the prolific poet and songwriter. From his early days performing folk songs to writing odes for departing colleagues, he kept on writing and, taking no small inspiration from a well-kent Scottish bard, he wrote frequently for the numerous Burns suppers he attended and performed at, sonnets and speeches, toasts, and retorts, all were well within his grasp.

Latterly he took to writing about all sorts of daily gripes, family life, and anything that came across his view.

I’ve read a few of his creations over the years, shared a few here and there as well. When I sat down to write for my sister’s wedding it was Dad that I had in mind, Dad that I was really trying to impress.

Before he died, my father had started collating all of his poems and songs into a book. He’d done virtually all the work, even gotten as far as ordering 20 copies to test the process. Unfortunately, he passed away before more were required.

I’m currently revisiting this little project of his, and we are hoping to be able to publish some copies in time for the 1st anniversary of his death.

I’ll be honest, I’ve been putting this off as long as I can, but I find that re-reading his words is bring more solace than I expected. I can hear his voice, know where he would put emphasis, and where he’d pause for a laugh, and whilst it’s still torturously sad that he won’t write or perform again, the fact we have all these words of his at all makes me smile; a small part of him retained.

I wonder if that’s now the reason I’m writing more in my journal, and still publishing things here, as a way to capture things for my family when I’m gone. A way to give them this same feeling of sad comfort.

Personal Musings Writing

This post is written in response to a prompt from Genre Scribes: Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #35 — Bronze.


We all laughed as we watched the episode of a long forgotten television show.

It seemed like such a silly notion, to everyone else at least, that someone would colour themselves that way. But not to me, even back then I knew I wanted, no, needed it, craved it.

I don’t remember a single day when I’ve been happy with my skin. The dull white has always marked me out as different, as something other. All around me were bodies deemed more acceptable, vibrant colours and shades everywhere you looked, yet when I’d walk from the commune to the working fields I could feel their eyes crawling over me, while my own remained cast down as my alabaster feet kicked up dust.

It’s just a colour, my parents told me over and over, everyone has one and this is yours.

White isn’t a colour, I looked it up once. White is the absence of colour, it reflects everything, absorbs nothing.

Was my pale epidermis why I felt so empty, so disconnected from everything, as a child?

When the others have gone to sleep I watch the episode over and over, learning how to count Mississippi-ly, dreaming of being able to change colour so easily, a few quick sprays and no-one would stare anymore; bronzed.

I looked it up too. Bronze was a metal or a medal for third place.

I could be third place, it’s better than no place at all.

I’d be bronze and I’d be anonymous just like everyone else.

Fiction Writing

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The post is written in response to a prompt from Genre Scribes: Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #34 — Celebration.


The radio breaks their early morning silence as they drive.

“Next up, Kool & The Gang wi…” the announcer is cutoff as the ignition is killed.

They step out of the car and pause to savour the coolness of the dawn air before they head inside. Stop and smell the roses, is what they might say if they were prone to speak.

Past banners and balloons in the corridor they enter the main room. Above their heads the ceiling fan spins, the curls of party popped paper caught there trails spirals in the sky, cutting through fake smoke and still flashing lights. Tables are strewn with half-empty glasses, champagne corks, congealing finger food, bedecked with streamers. The walls are festooned with multi-coloured balloons and banners, chairs still hold jackets, and the edges of the dance floor glow LED bright. It’s warm and the aromas of spilled wine and vodka bear a stale metallic edge.

Close your eyes and picture it, the scene played out a thousand times before in this very room. Cram it full, turn the volume up, lower the bar prices, sit back and wait. Glasses will tumble from hands, chairs will rock over, and dancing will win out in the end. Conversations will be shouted back and forth, verbal tennis punctuated with screams and laughter.

Except now there is only silence.

The partners slowly turn their gaze from the room, to each other, and then back to the room to face the bodies lying there, lying everywhere.

It had been a celebration.

Fiction Writing

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I’m standing in the room. It’s a room I’ve heard described by many others but here I am, finally. I can’t quite believe what’s happening, it feels surreal, like I’m still in a dream, which is oddly apt I suppose.

The message was waiting for me when I woke, as I rose from my bed the everyscreen on the wall chirruped its notification and up popped the message “YOUR BLIP DAY IS HERE” in the official corporament lettering, large and bold in the middle of the screen. It’s odd seeing something you’ve seen so often before, all those images posted to social feeds over and over, suddenly there in front of you, on your screen, in your reality, in front of your own eyes. It doesn’t seem real. I sat on the edge of the bed for the longest time just staring at the image.

Underneath it read, “Please report to The Centre by 10:00 today”, so I eventually rose, showered, and left my pod.

I was still a bit unsettled as I got on the shuttle, with all the other commuters heading to the Inner, and as it whisked silently along I looked around. Row after row of citizens minding their own business, headscreens in place here and there, eyes closed elsewhere. I rarely got the shuttle these days, my job being transferred to the Outer a few years ago, and it just added to the air of excitement that was slowly building as the Inner loomed closer and closer, with the grandspire of The Centre looming larger and larger.

The shuttle chime signalled the end of my journey and as I stepped out from the station into the street I could feel the nervous knot in my stomach churning tighter and tighter.

No-one walking past me knew what I was about to do today, yet I wondered if anyone would guess. Why would someone like me, clearly not a frequent visitor to these parts, be here at this time of day after all? But then part of the rules to avoid you being corrupted by people wanting to use your Blip for their own ends was to keep it secret, and we’d all seen the warnings and read the stories – that, one about the person who ended up being hit by a shuttle moving at full speed, still makes me shiver! – so I kept my head down and walked on.

I reached The Centre just before 10am and, after the usual rigmarole of scans and ID checks were passed, I was taken by a very polite assistant to a waiting room who told me someone else would be along soon to take me to the Blip Room and that I should take a seat. They said a lot of other things about the building we were in and the corridors we were strolling and the offices we were passing as walked from the entrance to the waiting room, all in the same breathless monotone that I daren’t interrupt.

I sat in the only seat in the room, my mind racing as I absent mindedly drummed my fingers on the soft leather of the arm of the chair.

A couple of minutes later another assistant, dressed in the same gentle green as the previous one, appeared and asked me to stand up and follow them. I stood up and almost walked into their back as they hadn’t moved, but then peering past them I saw it, just beyond them on the far wall, a door had appeared and was sliding open. I followed the assistant through into the darkened room, and stood where I was told. After a brief explanation to confirm why I was there and what I was to do and what to expect – entirely pointless because everyone already knows what Blip Day involves – they turned and walked out, closing their part in my day with the final parting words that I already knew they would say, “Take your time, start when you are ready”.

So there I stood, looking at the computer terminal in front of me. Set on a pedestal with a small keypad in front of it. At the top of the screen was the current date and time, which told me it was 10:01 and underneath in vivid neon green words splashed across the centre of the screen were the words; “Please enter the date and time from the previous week for your desired BLIP, then hit Enter.” Underneath the words was an empty line at the start of which was a blinking cursor waiting for me to make a decision.

It was as underwhelming as it was intoxicatingly exciting.

My Blip was finally here.

I’ve spoken to others who’ve been through today, and they all say similar things about wishing they’d known when they would be chosen, even though we all know it’s a lottery for a reason. Can you imagine living your life with the knowledge of when you would be the one standing here, in this place, with the cursor beckoning you to enter a date from your immediate past?

Imagine the havoc it would wreak, as you planned your “blip time” and did everything in your power to make it as perfect as you’ve ever dreamed. Just the stress of getting things right, knowing that you’ll only have one chance to relive that exact moment, that perfect hour over again, would surely be crippling.

That’s not to say I’ve not fantasised about what my perfect hour would be, we all have and anyone who says they haven’t is a liar, or they’ve already Blipped and are living with the regret of making the wrong choice.

My own fantasies veer from the ridiculous; a deserted beach, cocktails at sunset, and then a descent into as much lewd detail as I can cram into an hour (which, it turns out, is a quite disturbing amount), all the way through to a quiet lazy Sunday afternoon, lying on the hover sofa in the warmth of a summer breeze doing nothing much of anything. The latter is far more achievable than the former but hey, isn’t that what fantasies are for?

Then I realise how selfish I’m being and surely if I could reclaim an hour and do it all over again it would be better doing something productive, or something that will help other people? And then I realise that those people will also get to do an hour over so it’s ok to focus on myself for this and round the cycle goes.

They have counselling available after you Blip, if you want it, but imagine what the psychological damage would be like if knew when it would be your turn? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

All of this is flashing through my mind as I stand there, watching the cursor slowly blink.

“Please enter the date and time from the previous week for your desired BLIP, then hit Enter.”

They said I should take my time, I’m not sure they meant quite this long.

“Please enter the date and time from the previous week for your desired BLIP, then hit Enter.”

My palms are sweaty now and I force myself to focus, trying to recall every detail of the past week? I had a nice lunch on Tuesday with my sister, that was a nice hour? That walk at sunset on Sunday evening was beautiful, and… god what else did I do? Maybe I should go back and undo something rather than re-experience something I enjoyed?

There was that slip up at work that cost me an afternoon, I could go back and fix that. That homeless person I walked past that I ignored, maybe I go back and buy them some hot food and chat with them a while?

My brain was spinning and it was hard to focus and I started to realise how lucky I was. Here I stood, on my Blip Day and despite being able to go back and relive any hour of my life from the past week I didn’t feel any compulsion to do so? The things that didn’t go so well were not so bad that I need to fix them, and the good things were all with people I will see again in the future.

I wonder then if I could trade my Blip Day, hand it in and give someone else, maybe someone who had already used there turn many years ago. Someone who since then had had something bad, something you would want to undo? Perhaps the death of a loved one? Could I give them a chance to go back to the days before so they could say all the things they wanted to say?

Or that homeless guy, if he’s had his Blip Day already, maybe I can go back and let him make a different decision that saves him ending up cold and alone on the pavements of the city? One of my work colleagues recently ran over and killed a cat, maybe they get to go back in time to brake sooner?

The possibilities were endless, and the longer I stood there the more I realised how futile this choice was.

“Please enter the date and time from the previous week for your desired BLIP, then hit Enter.”

It was impossible, how could anyone, any single person, make a good decision? Especially someone like me, who by and large lived a privileged life, full of happiness and laughter? Surely there should be some level of worthiness, or need, considered when they selected the next Blip Day recipient.

“Please enter the date and time from the previous week for your desired BLIP, then hit Enter.”

Again the random nature of all of this struck me. I had been chosen so I should just make the most of this opportunity rather than waste it.

Yet still my brain struggled to latch on to anything of note from the previous week, no matter how hard I tried I drew blank after blank. I replayed every waking hour day by day, retracing my steps through time and there was nothing. I’d been doing this for my entire journey from home to the Inner and the walk to the Centre. I’d had a nice lunch one day but couldn’t recall if it was two or three days ago. There was a nice sunset last Wednesday I think? Or was it Friday? The harder I thought the more I struggled to recall any details at all from the previous week of my mundane life.

“Please enter the date and time from the previous week for your desired BLIP, then hit Enter.”

The room was warm, or maybe it was just me, and I could feel the panic rising. What happens if I can’t think of a time? Do I just leave the room? Do I get another chance or is this it? Why is my life so boring? All those people who talk about living your best life, and parrot that ancient phrase over and over – You Only Live Once – were right, I’d not been paying attention and so was faced with almost no choice at all, there was nothing from my last week that was of any interest or of any note.

My heart raced faster and faster as I tried to think. Surely there was a time limit, but then how long had I been standing here? Did they come and get me if I ran out of time, or do I just leave? I couldn’t even see a door for that matter, as soon as it had closed it had merged seamlessly with the wall. I looked around the room again but could see nothing bar the screen in front of me and that incessant, blinking, cursor.

I’d just need to choose something, anything. Pick a time and date at random and live with it.

God, what a laughing stock I’d be, but then is anyone any different, all those people who stood before me at these screens, surely they all went through the same experience? And how many people actually took note of their life in such detail that they could pinpoint an exact hour to relive? I remember reading about one person from the Outer 47th who went back to try and save a friend from a bad accident and ended up in the accident themselves because they got the time wrong by a few minutes, what if I did something like that?

I took a deep breath, forced my mind to slow. I am here now. I have one choice to make. Fundamentally that choice makes no difference to my life as it is, at the end of the hour I will be back here and I will leave and go home and tomorrow I will go work as normal and people will ask me what I did and I can tell them anything I like, even though I know I’ll tell them honestly that I didn’t make the most of this experience. And that’s ok too, not everyone has to have a great Blip, right? Surely the majority of them are all going to be like mine, an unremarkable hour of an unremarkable life.

How long had I been standing here? I glanced at the clock at the top of the screen which read 10:59, almost an hour! Are they watching me and wondering what I’m doing? No, don’t panic, just breathe. You aren’t the first person to stand here and the assistant said to take my time. It was no use, almost an hour of wracking my brain and I was still no closer.

“Please enter the date and time from the previous week for your desired BLIP, then hit Enter.”

My hands hovered over the keypad.

If only I had more time.

Fiction Writing

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Since moving, I’ve struggled to get back into my writing habit. I’m managing to keep my blog going although dropping the schedule I followed in 2018 has also had an impact – looking back it’s clear that some of the posts are not great – but I now have two rough ideas for a novel/novella which are currently stalled in draft purgatory with no signs of moving anywhere fast.

I am blocked and uninspired.

Now, I could blame many things for this; that I no longer have a separate desk and a nice adjustable chair, that I don’t have a separate space for when I’m writing, or that I’m just too busy with other things. But these are all excuses.

Ultimately I’m being crippled by my own fear of failure.

A couple of years ago I used NaNoWriMo as a way to push myself, a way to be held (somewhat) publically accountable, and to provide a focus. I met the word count but didn’t have a novel, more the structure of a story and some under developed characters, but it was a start. And I kept it going for a while but then I started to get blocked, stuck wondering where the story should go next, and my character notes kept chopping and changing (to the point I was wondering if I should rewrite and change the focus to be on a secondary character instead).

A while ago I had another vague idea for a story and, on the premise that NOT thinking about Novel 1 whilst I started Novel 2 would actually help me progress Novel 1 at some point, I leapt straight in, only to get blocked on Novel 2 because it wasn’t that great an idea in the first place (or maybe it is, I don’t even know anymore as I’m second and third guessing my second and third guesses).

So I stepped away from writing all together (interestingly I don’t consider writing blog posts the same way I think about writing ‘creatively’), and then life got busy (in a good way) and well loads of other reasons/excuses can be offered to justify why I’ve barely even thought about Novel 1 for over a year or so. All excuses, I know, if I was really passionate about this I would find a way, right?

Now, you may be asking (presuming anyone is still reading) why the hell am I writing a blog post about this? Well because it’s:

  1. A public acknowledgement of my ‘failure’
  2. A way to give myself a kick and hopefully regather some focus on this rather than continue to ignore it
  3. Yet another example of ‘I’ll write any old shite as long as I’m writing’…

The big question is; How do I get my writing mojo back?

Well I’m taking a small steps approach, hoping that each little thing will reduce the friction (aka the excuses) that are holding me back. The good thing is that, over the last few weeks as I’ve started to read back my early draft, a few new ideas have popped up to solidify parts of the novel I’d been struggling with, so I’m hoping to build on that momentum.

Step 1. Hack the physical space
I don’t currently have a comfortable space to write. We have a breakfast bar and stools but it’s not the best. So it’s time to clear up one of the spare rooms, get the table cleared and get a chair. Bonus of finally sorting out one of the spare rooms which have barely changed since we moved in.

2. Hack my mental space
Ohhh the articles I’ve read on this; How to overcome writer’s block, How to get your writing mojo back, Just write!, Finding your way back, and other such titles all spring to mind (I may have made some of these up but you get the gist). That said, I’m prone to procrastination (why do you think I have a blog?) and I know that if I really want to get back to Novel 1 I need to dedicate some time and make it a priority. Even if I’m just sitting down and going through my notes, or rewriting a chapter, it all counts.

3. Or just give up?
But here’s the thing, and I think this is the root of all of this prevaricating and pontificating, shouldn’t I just WANT to sit down and write? Why am I having to ‘hack’ my way back to it? If I don’t have the passion to do it and follow it through to completion then maybe it’s just not for me?

And there we have it. If that is the case, if my attempt at writing a novel has to go down as a noble effort that is ultimately doomed to remain incomplete, well a large part of me doesn’t want to admit that, doesn’t want to say I’ve failed. Logically I know I’m not the first person, and I certainly won’t be the last, to fail to write a book. I should take pride that I tried it at all, acknowledge that as an achievement in itself and move on.

Except I’m not quite ready to do that. Part of me still thinks I can do this, part of me wants to continue to explore the process of writing and finding my own voice and style, and part of me wants to prove that I can, at the very least, finish the damn thing. If for no other reason than to show that all of the words I’ve written about it in this blog post so far (973) aren’t just yet another scream into the void.

Even if that’s exactly what this is.

(994 words, done).

Writing

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Last Friday I had the great pleasure of going to see a man I hate. He was reading some of his essays.

It was wonderful but he makes me sick to my stomach whenever I read anything he’s written, but I’ve long made peace with my ongoing resentment towards him. Hate is such a strong word, as my Mother liked to remind me during my teenage ‘strop’ years, so perhaps I’ll tone this down a little and say I merely dislike him an awful, awful lot.

But no, let’s not tone this down. He wouldn’t, so why should I?

I hate David Sedaris.

If you aren’t aware of who he is then let me offer a description of the man. He is a slight, balding, bespectacled, man with a high octave voice, and the air of a lightly eccentric literature professor and, according to his own website, “With sardonic wit and incisive social critiques, David Sedaris has become one of America’s pre-eminent humor writers. The great skill with which he slices through cultural euphemisms and political correctness proves that Sedaris is a master of satire and one of the most observant writers addressing the human condition today.” (bio).

I can’t recall when I first had the misfortune to stumble across his work, nor what that piece was but since then I have read many articles and essays, listened to him talk on the radio, bought his books, and yet regardless of the medium he remains cuttingly funny and poignant all at the same time.

I do hate him so.

I’m such a huge fan.

When I found out he was coming to Glasgow I snapped up tickets the day they went on sale and we were not disappointed. Always forthright, hearing him talk about his brothers suicide brought a lump to my throat, yet never strays too far from humour and satire. And this is why I hate him. The way he balances his stories, the comic timing, the gentle misdirection and deliberate provoking of sentiment are expertly intertwined with some brutally dark humour and pinpoint observations that are so seated in our humanity that you are laughing before you realise it.

He is a ridiculously talented writer, less so a public speaker but as he tends to read his own essays that’s not so much of an issue but this is a minor detail. He is eloquent, funny, and that wry self-deprecating humour is exquisitely tuned, particularly to UK ears.

It was an absolute joy to hear him speak, a marvel to my ears as his finely honed word play washed over my ears. The talented bastard. I hate him.

Life Writing

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Struggling with the duvet cover I paused and reminded myself just how good it is to slide between fresh bed linen. A few more wafts of the duvet and several curses later my bed was made. It took a lot of willpower not to just climb in right there and then.

What an odd phrase, how many people have a bed so tall they need to climb into it? Isn’t the English language wonderfully obscure at times. It strikes me, without recourse to research, that this is one of those phrases that comes from ye olde times, when beds were an entirely different proposition.

Ohhh how I adore such things, these quirks of conundrums, paragraphs of prose that puzzle and cause pause to ponder.

I miss writing.

Obviously I have been writing and posting here for quite a while now – this is not the writing I am looking for – but it’s been many months since I sat down and tackled any form of creative writing. Yes, let’s call it that, creative writing.

I have three stories that are languishing in various states of incompleteness. One is about a building. One is about daydreams. One is about beauty. None are beyond first draft (if that), and all are of indeterminate length. They may be novels, novellas, or just short stories, but length is not my concern as the aim isn’t to write a specific type of thing but to finish a thing.

It’s always good to finish a thing so it has been somewhat of a mild annoyance that these stories have been languishing in the doldrums, lost to the flat calm of a sea with no muse.

Writing is still an aspiration and remains a topic I read articles about, garnering advice, tips, and how-tos, in the hope that some (any) of them stick and perhaps will bring the spark that lights my desire to again pick up one of these stories and see where it takes me.

As it turns out, sparks can happen when you least expect them. All that time consuming books and articles on writing, all those hours reading short stories and poems, all the while trying to goad my brain into writing mode.

So it was the other night as I finally slid into my freshly made bed. I’m not sure where it came from, but there it was, a tiny flickering bulb of an idea.

It wasn’t a revelation but it was something. And it was enough of a something that I sat up and let my brain follow it to conclusion, realising it might be just the thing to get me over the bump and allow me to finish one of the stories (the daydream one).

It was such a good idea (I think, it’s hard to be subjective) that I got back up out of bed to jot down some thoughts so I wouldn’t forget them.

I’m not sure where it will lead but if I can get one of these stories to some state of completion then that would be a step forward, although if I’m being honest I have no idea if I’ll ever get to a stage that would render the morass of words I’ve thrown down to be anything that is consumable by others.

But that’s never been the point of why I’ve been writing.

Except, maybe it has? The closer I get to feeling like these stories are finishing the more I wonder how they might be received by a wider public. Is my ego trumping my fear? Perhaps, as it does have the echoes of some of my thoughts behind the years and years I’ve been posting nonsense on this blog; I’ve always stated that this blog is for me but knowing that others read it is definitely a factor in why I continue to publish.

It shouldn’t be, I know, but it is.

Regardless, if the writing bug is descending on me again then I’ll welcome it with open arms. I’ve missed the nagging feeling that it brings, prodding me into action with the promise of beautiful prose and cathartic release.

As I lay back in bed that night, my brain was already whirring away, extrapolating my idea into ever wider directions and themes and plotlines. As I started to drift off to sleep I took myself to my writing place and found I was already there, sitting at an old wooden table in front of window that looks out over a remote wilderness. I type the final words that finish every story that has ever been, push the keyboard away and, rising from my chair I lift the empty coffee cup and walk out of frame.

The End.

Writing

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I had gone to bed at a reasonable hour for once and was asleep in no time at all, my weary bones and tired mind happily conceding to the warmth of the bed and the darkness of the night. I fell fast into a deep and comfortable slumber.

So you can imagine my consternation and the enusing ire when, not long after the clock swept past 2am, I was rudely awakened by a short series of loud beeps. Startled awake, my eyes opened to the dark and in my chest the loudest of crashing thumps began as my heart beat the panic drum.

My mind raced to the source; was it the (unset) burglar alarm or one of the smoke detectors? Regardless, after the fourth beep faded and left just the pounding of my heart echoing from my bed, I knew sleep would elude me until I had it figured it out.

Having never heard these beeping noises before I eyed the closed door of the bedroom suspiciously. Was my burglar alarm signalling an attempted entry? Was the bedroom door about to be flung open by a shadowy thug wielding some form of weapon?

WAS MY WORST NIGHTMARE ABOUT TO BE REALISED?

Seconds passed as I lay there, white knuckles gripping the duvet, listening for a sound, any sound, that would signal my doom.

Nothing happened.

I quietly exhaled. Rising from the warmth of my bed, I warily made my way out into the hall. Glancing left and right as I jerked the bedroom door open – all the better to catch an unsuspecting intruder and use surprise to my advantage, oh yes I was ready to pounce into action – but no movement caught my eye, nothing was obviously untoward, the coat stand remained unmoved, the rug that slips easily underfoot was resolutely where I last positioned it.

I walked into the hall, turned towards the front door and, on seeing the locks firmly closed over, removed that as a potential entry point. I flipped open the cover on the alarm system and the display glared at me in the dark, forcing my sleepy eyes in to a squint, yet it had nothing to report. I stood in the dull glow to consider if this lack of information was a good or bad thing? My brain struggled to find reason for either.

I turned and walked back down the hall to the living room, pausing momentarily at the hall cupboard before I grasped the handle firmly and yanked the door open, again hoping that swift action would unsettle any devious fiend hiding in wait. But OHHH how my heart leapt as, in the act of opening the door, I must’ve dislodged the mop placed within, bringing it tipping towards me and only stopping short as the handle caught on the nearest edge of the bucket in which it stood.

It is to my eternal embarrassment that I fear my attempts to stifle my cry of fear only resulted in a somewhat high pitched squeaking. Look at me now, what a fool I am, stumbling in the dark, half-asleep, half-naked and still defenceless! I made a mental note to leave some form of defensive implement next to the bed for future and then I lifted the mop from the bucket, lest I enter the living room completely at the mercy of whatever spectre lay beyond, and quietly closed the cupboard door.

I could feel the adrenalin surging as I approached the living room, for if my would-be assailant didn’t enter by the front door then surely a window was the mode of entry! I paused again, listening, before I entered with wilful abandon, the door flung wide, the mop raised in front of me ready for battle.

Nothing.

I admit that by now I was starting to feel more than a little foolish, and so when the kitchen proved to be unsullied by an unwanted guest I retreated and, chastened, returned the mop to the hall cupboard.

As you know, there is no place to hide in the bathroom but I still checked behind the door, knowing full well that any stone left unturned would simply play on my mind later. Closing the bathroom door behind me I look up to the ceiling. In the corner is a sensor for the burglar alarm, and nearby one of three smoke detectors that guard over me while I sleep.

Pushing the thoughts of burglary to the back of my mind I stood, quiet as a mouse, and waited for the next set of beeps. I stood still with one ear to the detector in the hallway, the other in the direction of the living room and adjacent kitchen, lest my beeping foe be situated there.

Whilst waiting for the next tell-tale beeps I tried to gauge how long it had been since I was so briskly roused from my fitful sleep; has it been two minutes? More? Less? My heavy eyes pulled my head forward but I jolted myself upright, what folly it would be to fall asleep again only to be bested by one of those confounded smoke detectors! I will not stand for that.

Yet there I stood. Minutes pass and as I grow cold I wondered if I dreamt these monsterous noises, did I conjure them from my subconscious? I tried to recall what I had been dreaming of but the harder I tried to grasp it the quicker it seemed to evaporate from my memory, smoky wisps in the air.

Silence.

There are no beeps.

Above me, tiny green LEDs glow in the night to confirm that all is well, rest now human, there is no need for worry.

I eventually gave up. I’m not sure how long I stood there but I was glad to go back to bed, back to the cooling embers of the duvet. I closed my eyes and laid still and quiet, my heart beat slowed and my limbs settled beneath me. Eventually sleep returned and called for me once more.

In the cold light of this autumn morning I can admit that I was, perhaps, swept away by the darkness, caught up in the panic that beset me. I know it is not the first time nor will it be the last.

I have added new batteries for the smoke detectors to my shopping list.

Writing

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