The A to Z of my A to Z challenge 2016

By Vita Forest

The changing colours of Skyspace

The changing colours of Skyspace – for the letter S

Well, the April A to Z challenge finished just over a week ago and I am still processing the roller coaster that it was.  I learned a lot and spent the month fairly buzzing with creative juices.  Here are links to all my output.  Some travel, some artistic adventures and lots of flash fiction.

Enjoy!

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A is for… Art

B is for… Bed

C is for… Cinderella

D is for… Doorknob

E is for… Everything

F is for… Flowers

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G is for… Gabriel

H is for… Home

I is for… Ibis

J is for… Joy

K is for… Kiss

L is for… Love

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M is for… Monolith

N is for… Narcissist

O is for… Old-school

P is for… Peak hour

Q is for… Quentin

R is for… Red

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S is for… Skyspace

T is for… Train

U is for… Unconscious

V is for… Venice

W is for… Wedding

X is for… Xanthe

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Y is for… Yearning

Z is for… Zone

 

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This week

By Vita Forest

A to Z challenge April 2016

A to Z challenge April 2016

This week I have been

Z is for… Zone

By Vita Forest

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The shoes!  The shoes!  What was she thinking? How did people stand up in them?  Let alone walk.  Let alone dance.  They had to come off!  Pip pushed her way through the people, and the thudding music, which seemed almost a physical presence, and left the lounge room.  She blinked in the brightness of the hallway and bent down to wrench off those high heels.  Those stupid sexy shoes she had been talked into buying in a moment of weakness.

“Sitting down shoes,” her sister called them.

Indeed.

Pip found her jacket and hid her fabulous sitting-down shoes beneath it.  She wriggled her toes and arched her feet.  Much better.  She would simply go barefoot.

Pausing just beyond the doorway, Pip let her eyes adjust to the dark again.  The room was full of dark shadows, dark figures lounging around the perimeter against walls and windows, the centre full of bouncing, flailing dancers.  Her hips starting moving again.  Then her shoulders.  Then Pip’s arms flew above her head, and in the next instance she was dancing in amongst them again.  Who knew where her friends were?  At this point it didn’t matter.  If you were dancing, if you were in the zone, you could dance anywhere, with anyone.  So she did.  She did her hip hop moves.  Some salsa.  Joined a conga line.  She was up for anything.  Any song that came on was her favourite.  Was the cause of whooping and cheering.  She was in “the zone”.  She found her friends again, held Sophie’s hand, mirrored her moves.  Led Sophie through her own.

A searing pain in foot.  Burning.  Pip’s eyes widened and she fell to the floor in a heap.  Jonny lifted her up and carried her out of the dark into that blinding light again.  Through to the kitchen.

They all groaned as they looked down at her foot.  A red welt slashed into the skin above her toes.  A hole.  Purple around the red.  Pip stared at her foot and felt the pounding of her blood through her whole body.  Her vision began to blur and whiten, she stared and stared, as if falling back into a tunnel.

“Let me through!” someone shouted vaguely from a distance.

She felt someone lift up her foot, her poor fragile foot and slap something cold over the top of it.  Pip breathed out through her teeth and felt the whiteness retreat.  Felt her mind return from that tunnel.  Come back to her.  The hot burning was fighting against the cold burning.  It was spluttering.  The fire was going out.

“What is that?”

“Just peas,” someone said.  “Mint peas actually.  Shelled and snap frozen.”

“Do you want to go home?” Sarah brushed Pip’s hair out of her face with gentle fingers.

“No.  I’ll just sit with the peas.”

They carried her back into the darkness (Make way!  Make way!)  and found her a place on a couch.  Sarah piled up the cushions behind her back.  Jonny nursed her legs.  Mira held her feet and draped the peas over Pip’s foot, now only dully thudding.  Sophie brought her a cold glass.

“Just water,” but who knew “Just water” cold from the fridge could taste so good.  Pip leaned back and peered out into the dance.  From the friend zone.

 

 

Y is for…Yearning

By Vita Forest

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Derek and Billie, Billie 4 Derek.

Billie eyes widened as she stared at the words she had written on the page.  Her pencil hovered in the air, then she scribbled through the words until she tore the paper.

Sometimes when they talked, she looked at his lips.  At his lips forming the sounds that she was hearing.  Except sometimes she wasn’t really listening to the sounds.  They were secondary because what she was thinking of was – what would it be like to kiss those lips?

Sometimes when they met, she thought how easy it would be to reach out and hold him.  To just reach out and wrap him in her arms.  They were standing so close!  It would hardly be any effort at all.  She was standing right in front of him, not across the city, or across the uni, or across the classroom, or across a table.  They had covered all that distance that had separated them their whole lives, but this is where she had to stop.  Her arms could not breach that gap.  Billie had to content herself with hugging her books to her chest.  As if they could give her any comfort, as if they could warm her, as if they could make her feel.  (Actually they could comfort her and make her feel, and actually they did.  Jane Austen did provide comfort.  So did Shakespeare.)

Billie watched Derek.  Often she would deliberately sneak into the lecture hall late so she could sit behind him, away from him.  For the sole purpose of watching him.  At times that was better than sitting right beside his physical presence.  Which she sometimes found unbearable.  The yearning could be too much.

He would usually text her.

U here?

Yup

He would turn at that and scan the hall.  His face would break into a smile when he found her crouched behind her laptop.  She would remain deadpan but would raise a hand in greeting.  Then he would wink at her.  She would wink back.  And then he would turn away.  Which was lucky, because by then, she was probably blushing.  She could only do deadpan for so long.  And the blushing was getting worse.

Billie hoped he hadn’t noticed.

So Billie walked up to Derek and always stopped that arm’s length from him.  Though her heart pulled her closer towards his heart, but she would resist it.  Grip her books and resist it.  This terrible, delicious yearning.  This torture.

Billie supposed she should do something.  Throw caution to the wind.  Take his hand.  Kiss him.  Tell him how she felt.  She almost laughed.  What a ridiculous idea!  No, much better to stay in this state of friendship, good friendship, close friendship.  She didn’t want to lose that and if she said anything and he laughed…  It would be beyond awkward.  Beyond excruciating.  It would be devastating.

So she watched him from across the room and waved at him and winked at him and texted him and talked to him and laughed with him and was with him, in a way.  She was with him.  And that was what really mattered, wasn’t it?

X is for… Xanthe

By Vita Forest

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Her name was spelt with an “X” and meant “golden one”.  She wasn’t golden really.  Not her hair, not her skin, not even her eyes.

“Wow,” Sam said, “That’s a lot to live up to.”

Xanthe smiled/frowned or frowned/smiled, Sam didn’t know her well enough to know which part was stronger.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Do you feel pressure to live up to your name?  Are you planning on winning a medal at the Olympics or discovering a cure for cancer?  Perhaps you already have…”

Xanthe smiled/smiled (or so Sam thought anyway).

“No, not yet.  But I did win a tennis trophy once.”

“Wow, that’s impressive.  Wimbledon?”

“Something like that.”  She was losing interest.  Do something!  Say something!

“Am I talking too much?  Sometimes I talk too much.  Especially when I’m nervous.  Not that you are making me nervous.  I’m just nervous.  Not all the time of course.  But I am at the moment.  I will now stop talking so you can answer.”

That was excellent.  Excellent conversation skills.

There was a long pause.  Or perhaps that meant it was over.  Over before it had even begun.    Just a tragic tale to be added to the collection of Bad Beginnings that went no further.  Was that it then?  Perhaps it was time to leave.  Sam nearly walked away, awkward silences were more awkward than awkward conversations.  But then Xanthe started talking again.

“Why did you tell me you were nervous?  Is that so I can feel sorry for you?  Is that how you make friends?  You get people to feel sorry for you?”

Sam smiled, “So we are going to be friends.”

Xanthe’s eyes widened, they were brown, not gold, but that was not a problem.

“I never said that.  And you haven’t answered my question.”

“I guess you are making me nervous, but in a good way.”

“There’s a good way to be nervous?”

Sam plunged in, “It’s a good nervous if you meet someone that is so intriguing, so interesting, that you want to say the right thing so they like you enough to want to get you know you back.  Someone who is golden on the inside and shining on the outside.”

Xanthe stared then looked away.  At last she spoke in a low voice, “That was a little bit too charming for my liking.  I think there may be something wrong with you.  That’s a little bit too intense.”

“Sorry.”

“So what is your name?”

“Sam.”

“And what does Sam mean?  What do you have to live up to?”

Sam shrugged, “I don’t know.”

“Let’s see then shall we? Sam!”  she dragged the last word out, but again, it was too soon to know if she was being affectionate or annoyed.  Xanthe pulled out her phone and punched “meaning of Sam” into Google.  Sam moved closer so they were standing shoulder to shoulder.  They stood waiting for the answer, Sam glancing from her non-golden eyes to the buffering screen, thinking Anything to keep her talking, anything to stay this close.

The screen flickered and settled, Sam watched Xanthe peer down at the screen, then frown/smile or smile/frown then burst into laughter.

“What?  What does it say?”

Xanthe shook her head at Sam, “You thought I had problems – your name means “Name of God”.  I think that is harder to live up to than “Golden One!””

Sam blinked, “Wow.  That must be why I feel so nervous.”

Xanthe smiled/smiled.  Sam smiled back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

W is for… Wedding

By Vita Forest

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Tina was there with her new partner Roman.  He was older than Tina, grey-haired, sporting round red glasses and soft tan leather shoes with black laces.  Tina was pregnant with her first and last child (her words – the pregnancy had not been easy).  Pablo was there with Sharrda.  They had had their second child ten months ago.  Their two children were spending the weekend with their grandparents.  Yes, they missed them, this was their first time leaving Savannah.  They kept checking their mobiles, but all seemed to be going well!  They showed Tina and Roman photos of their pair of plump, curly haired children, all doe-eyed and cherubic smiles.  Tina rubbed her belly and smiled, Roman squeezed her hand and complimented the other couple on their good-looking children.  This would be his fourth child.

They were sitting beside each other in white chairs in a field by a big spreading fig tree.  It was winter and the sun was dipping down towards the distant hills.  The groom (Victor) was there waiting but the bride (Soraya) had not yet arrived.  Tina had gone to school with Soraya.  They had played netball together, back in the day.  Pablo had worked with Soraya.  They started at the large financial institution in the same month, all those years ago.  Tina and Pablo mentioned a few of Soraya’s old boyfriends.  Remember Kai?  Oh yeah.  How about that Christophe?  Christophe! What a jerk.  But she’s got a good one now, Victor is so steady.  Yes, good thing she waited.  They all looked at Victor, hands clasped in front of him, looking over their heads and down the road.

The sun fell lower and they pulled their coats tighter, Roman attentively tucking Tina’s scarf into her collar.  The lights from the lanterns along the pathway glowed brighter and Victor craned his neck.  Then they all heard it and turned around.  A white Rolls Royce turned into the drive and ambled up the hill.  They all stood and smiled and watched as Soraya appeared on the arm of her beaming balding father.  Her bridesmaids did a bit of last minute fussing, while Soraya looked steadily into Victor’s eyes.  He was smiling now.  Widely.

Who knew that two years later Soraya would give birth to Clementine who would never seem quite right and would eventually be diagnosed with Aspergers?  Or that seven years later Pablo and Sharrda would be locked in battle in the courts over custody of their children and who should keep the biggest chunk of their bank balance?  Or that Tina and Roman wouldn’t last either, Tina returning to live with her Mum while she tried to make ends meet.  Roman clocking up another failed marriage on the verge of his retirement.

But for now, everything is good.  Everyone is in love, everyone is healthy and the future holds only dreams of happiness.  Let’s leave them there at this moment as they watch their friend walk down the aisle by lantern light, in a dress made by her mother and red roses in her hair.

V is for… Venice

By Vita Forest

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Phoebe liked the way he talked about music, how his fingers tapped on his leg as if he was playing the drums.  She liked that Gabriel played the piano accordion, the piano and the guitar.  She did not like how he praised the recorder.  All Phoebe could think of was the high pitched shrieks and squeals and ear-splitting blasts of the recorder her brother had played.

“I don’t like instruments you can clean in a dishwasher,” she retorted.

“What?!” he appeared flabbergastered.

“Maybe we didn’t have the high-quality ones you are obviously talking about.”

She liked that he was studying music, but did not like that he seemed to look down on people who worked in ordinary jobs. Weekday jobs.

“You don’t like it when people earn money then?” she clarified, somewhat disgusted.

“No, it’s not that,” he tried to explain.  “My friend was an amazing cello player, but now he works in a bank.  He didn’t give it a chance.  He didn’t try for long enough.”

“In your opinion.”

“In my opinion.”

“My friend Chloe chose to work in Engineering precisely so she can still enjoy music.  She keeps it as something she loves, not as something she has to do to pay the bills.”

“Hmm,” he answered.  “Interesting.”

She liked that she could tease him and he didn’t seem to mind.

Phoebe liked that she could hear his music through the deep passageways of the tube stations, floating up the escalators as she floated down.  Or surprising her as exited a train, “Minding the Gap”.  She liked the private smile he gave her, behind the piano accordion, behind the open case strewn with coins, behind the other commuters watching him play.  Sometimes Phoebe would stop and listen on the way to her job-that-didn’t-pay-in-change.  Sometime she took the chance to watch him from a distance, to look at him objectively, at how he was when she was not there.

She liked his collection of old-style hats – Homburgs and Fedoras.  Except when she didn’t.  Except when they annoyed her, when they seemed a little trite.  A little forced.

Phoebe could not understand how he could live in London and yet go so rarely to Paris, to Europe in general.

“It’s just a train trip!” she shook her head in exasperation.

“Yes but you tourists have to do everything.  It’s like a race.  You can’t just live your life.”

“Life your life?  You mean getting drunk with your friends every weekend?”

That was another thing she didn’t like.  The weekend mornings wasted nursing hangovers.  Phoebe didn’t have time for that.  There were places to go, things to see.

But he did like Venice.  He did have a poster of crumbling palaces, water lapping against them, on his wall.  He had enjoyed getting lost in the maze of streets, had loved sitting on vaporetto and watching the sunset, had watched intrigued as the workers went about their business, carrying supplies through the narrow streets in wheelbarrows.  Gabriel had appreciated the Grand Canal and San Marco’s Square and even the golden mosaics on the ceiling of San Marco’s basilica.

So he was alright, Phoebe thought.  He was good on the important things.  He was good on Venice.