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pombal's (pombal on UKA) UKArchive
45 Archived submissions found.
Title
The Good Time Party Guy (posted on: 13-08-10)
Entry for this weeks challenge. Mr L won.

My coffee cup was empty and I was looking out the Starbucks window at the people rushing by and I was hit by the thought, "Who will come to my funeral?" When you sit down and think about it there is no guarantee anyone would come. I have no family to speak of - no wife or kids forced to say nice things and mourn my passing and no aunts or uncles or cousins obliged to dress in black and eat the canapes and conduct polite conversation. My friends are acquaintances - of my own doing really - but I like my own company and there is no point forming a bond which interferes with the status quo. Don't get me wrong - I'm not a loner by any sense - I live in a 24 hour city and I make use of every avenue that advertises a good time - my acquaintances are many and my arrival is always acknowledged with a drink at the bar and it invariably marks the start of the party. I'm the guy with the money - I'm the good time party guy. But today I have my mobile in my hand and I am scrolling through the numbers. Maybe - I think - just maybe. So I start at "A" - for Anna. "It's me ... No, no, don't hang up, I just wanted to ask you a question ... well, more of an invitation really - you're under no obligation - I'm not trying to force you ... but ... would you like to come to my funeral?"
Archived comments for The Good Time Party Guy
Ionicus on 14-08-2010
The Good Time Party Guy
That's what's called forward planning, pombal.
There is an inevitability about funerals where canapes and not speaking ill of the dead are prerequisites.
Thanks for hinting at my victory in your preface, that should get the readers flocking to it.

Author's Reply:

pombal on 15-08-2010
The Good Time Party Guy
Mr L - well done on the win - I'm off to see if there was flockage πŸ™‚

Author's Reply:


Reunion (posted on: 06-08-10)
take your sick bag with you when reading this - it's absolute mush xxx

Remember me? Remember when we danced and the band stopped playing just to watch us? Remember how happy we were? It wasn't our wedding but we were the couple in all the photographs. Remember the first taste of the champagne and how you touched my thigh under the table and how I blushed and how you smiled to reassure me that no-one was looking? How pretty you were. The flower from the table I placed in your hair and the lipbalm you left on my cheek to say thank you and our conversation that rose above the music. Remember how tired we were and how we fell asleep in each others arms and I snored and you giggled? How you nudged me to stay awake and listen to the waltz that seemed to go on forever? Remember our favourite song of the night - that I have long since forgotten? I wonder - do you still hum its tune while you are distracted? Remember running? And me chasing? It was a summers night and my shoes were beside yours, behind the french doors which let the light onto the lawn, and the grass was cool between our toes. You fell down, on purpose, and the game became more intimate but you would not let me kiss you. "Not yet," I remember you saying. "Maybe when we're grown up." Well - I'm older now - remember me?
Archived comments for Reunion
sirat on 06-08-2010
Reunion
As you may know I'm no great fan of flash fiction but I think this one works rather well. It's a wish-fulfilment fantasy, I think, something most of us have from time to time. If only I could go back to my first week in London and say something to that girl with the guitar who smiled at me in the train. If only I could have another chance to explain to my mother why I was leaving home without getting angry. Life is full of 'if only's, and this is the story of somebody getting a second chance. I like it a lot.

Author's Reply:
Thank you David - your comments about flash have not fallen on deaf ears - I am trying to increase my length - when is the next challenge??

Ionicus on 06-08-2010
Reunion
Yes, pombal, mushy but pleasantly so. No need for the sick bag.

Author's Reply:
Very mushy - and I was trying so hard to win the challenge but I clashed against Vals masterpiece - and Griff doesnt like me ...

Ania on 06-08-2010
Reunion
I liked it and ceratinly had no need of a sick-bag.

Author's Reply:
thank you Ania - are you going to post soon?

Ionicus on 07-08-2010
Reunion
Another nib, pombal. Keep on trucking.
(Does it sound familiar?)

Author's Reply:
Excellent - Ill start a nib orchard!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zap_Comix

Mikeverdi on 12-04-2014
Reunion
You seem not to have been here for a while, a pity... as I love reading your work; come back please.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Wow Mike - Its been almost 4 years! Thank you for your kind words - I intend to come back - I just got busy and out of the habit ...


A Question of Pace Prose Challenge (posted on: 30-07-10)
This was a lot harder than I imagined - not too sure I succeeded and I was under the word count (which I will make up over the weekend) - I think it still needs a lot of tweaking

available in audio
Archived comments for A Question of Pace Prose Challenge
sirat on 30-07-2010
A Question of Pace Prose Challenge
I think we're the only two who have had a go at this challenge. Your approach is fundamentally different to mine, which at least makes it a bit interesting (perhaps) to others.

What I tried to do was create a feeling of menace, of mounting horror in the face of the inevitable. My piece is a lead-up, hopefully at an accelerating pace, to some implied dreadful climax.

Yours, on the other hand, is 'action-dense' from the beginning. There is much sound and fury, something new and dramatic happening practically every sentence, and a general sense of chaos and frenzy.

I think that's a perfectly legitimate way to create pace, and one much favoured by Hollywood. For myself though, I prefer to work more in the British Alfred Hitchcock mould, where the tension is in the anticipation and the imagining of what might be out there, what is often more suggested than depicted.

Hopefully others will tell us how the two approaches line up.

Author's Reply:
Cheers david - a bit dissapointing to have two - as the wildly different approaches indicate that it could have been quite interesting for a few more writers. But - I am glad it was you - as a champion of prose on UKA.
My target audience is 9-12 so no subtlety here - just full on action.

Nomenklatura on 30-07-2010
A Question of Pace Prose Challenge
Sirat has hit the nail on the head about the two different approaches: his piece was all acceleration to the (anti)-climax. (Which I did enjoy) Yours was frenetic from the outset: I'm not sure how effective this is in a short story/piece. However, I felt that it went well with the content, which I took to be aimed at a younger reader (?) - maybe that accounts for Hollywood's preference for this method of generating pace.

I read both a second time, aloud, and they both had a 'pacy' sound, for want of a better phrase. I suspect as Sirat comments, it might be a matter of personal taste.

Regards
Ewan


Author's Reply:
Hi Ewan - cheers for reading and commenting - its good to catch another prose writer. Yes Davids was more complete as a story. My approach is aimed towards a younger audience (9-12) and hence more cartoon like. What I liked about Davids is the short sentences he used to pick up the pace - kind of highlighted a different technique for me.

I was going to suggest making it an audio file - but then I thought this might scare people away ....

pdemitchell on 30-07-2010
A Question of Pace Prose Challenge
Nah - pombal, g'wan, make the audio! It was frenetic but you can't ignore the sneezing elphant in the house. Definitely for the younger reader who woulld like all the sound effects. Still it made an Imp Act on me but obviously not my taste. A valiant effort. Mitch πŸ™‚

Author's Reply:
Cheers mitch - more for the younger audience - I might just surprise with an audio some day tho πŸ™‚ DONE IT!!!! AUDIO AUDIO AUDIO - just for you Mitch :))

sunken on 31-07-2010
A Question of Pace Prose Challenge
Always enjoy the adventures of Imp, Mr. Pombal. This even includes one of my all time fave words 'Pulverise'. What more could a sunk want? A Pot Noodle, maybe? But a part from that, all is gravy (this means good). Thank you.

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an audience with myringitis - sun 9pm uk munky gold +1

Author's Reply:
Mr Sunks - welcome indeed - you can now have an audio with IMP for a limited time - sat 10pm uk impchan +1

pdemitchell on 31-07-2010
A Question of Pace Prose Challenge
Thank you for the audio - wonderful and made me smile in a kinda nostalgic way. Definitely a talent with the repeated rhythmic 'ands' to attract a younger reader. Spot on. mitch

Author's Reply:
Thank you for listening mitch - it certainly makes a difference when read aloud πŸ™‚ - might do it more often ...


Transference (posted on: 23-07-10)
About giving flowers

Something special happened on the way to see Isabel - I fell in love. "They for me?" She said, pointing at the carnations in my hand. "No," I said, and I wished they were. I had to go through a dangerous part of town to get to Isabel and, usually, I walked and stared at the pavement until the litter cleared. But this time I looked up - she was an angel in a mini skirt and fishnets. "They for your wife?" "I don't have a wife. They're for Isabel I always bring her flowers." "You're sweet," she said. I had a feeling she wanted more than a conversation. "We should go out some time," I said. "Sure," she said, and I felt on top of the world. I left her standing by the side of the road blowing kisses. "No flowers today?" Said Isabel. "I gave them to someone else." "Good," Isabel said. "I've always found it kind of creepy." I was surprised. "Creepy?" "You're paying me to help you," said Isabel. "You know what I mean." On any other day a comment like that would have set me back months but I sat back on the couch and watched Isabel write her notes and calmly listened to the clock as it ticked away. "Well don't worry - I've found someone else," I said.
Archived comments for Transference
Romany on 23-07-2010
Transference
Certainly takes the innocence out of a simple gesture! I don't know if I understood this correctly, but it seems to me that he was in the habit of buying flowers for his 'regular' prostitute, but one day happened upon another he wished to turn his attentions to.

Am I right?

Author's Reply:
Hi Romany - thank you for this - I think I got the balance of show and tell wrong - the guy is in love with his therapist 'Isabel' - the transference - and transfers his attentions to a prostitute on the way to see her ... section edited to make it clear about the therapy - cheers Romany !

Ionicus on 23-07-2010
Transference
A good one, pombal, imaginative and with a nice little twist at the end.

Author's Reply:
Thank you Sir Laureate Luigi πŸ™‚

pdemitchell on 23-07-2010
Transference
Yep - a creepy little twist. The diaspora of interflora. Well writ micro-flash methinks. Mitch πŸ™‚

Author's Reply:
cheers Mitch - so when are we going to see you in the challenges? - we need more prose writers ....

pdemitchell on 24-07-2010
Transference
Hi Pombal - I'm trying to rope a few more prosers in. I haven't got time for any more challenges as I've just landed a TEFL contract and some editing work as well as political leaflet writing. I don't enjoy arbitrary challenges and competitions anyway as I don't like having a topic dictated to me... sorry! But, once again, this was an excellent post!! keep at it! Mitch πŸ™‚

Author's Reply:
Well done on the TEFL Mitch. The challenges help provide a source of inspiration for me - its already seeded the start of a novel - but I can appreciate that everybody thinks differently - you'll come to the dark side eventually ...

sirat on 28-07-2010
Transference
My problem with the challenges is that the word limit is too low. I'm not a fan of flash fiction – even when it's done reasonably well I find it very unmemorable. There's no room for creating characters or involvement – inevitably all the focus is on plot, which is for me the least interesting aspect of a story. I like something that leaves me with a lump in my throat, or gives me real food for thought, and I don't think many writers can do that in a couple of hundred words. This one is a good example – it's a slightly quirky plot, which produces a momentary flicker of interest, but it doesn't 'get to me' or leave me with anything to think about after I've read it. I think it's just a word limit thing.

Author's Reply:
yes David you have a very valid point - I see no value or substance myself in flash - but somehow it seems to be helping me personally to write - its a quick way for me to experiment with ideas, voice, character etc - for instance the character IMP came from a snippet from one of the comps. Take this story for instance - there was no idea to start with - it started with the first line and something interesting came out and it ended - but its an idea/character that could be extended that perhaps would not have existed if I had just tried to think of it. I find it more liberating than constraining and in a way its teaching me to evolve something and if the story veers away from the origional plot/character/idea so what? - Is it a better story because of it? Up for debate I think ....

admin on 28-07-2010
Transference
It's a matter of taste probably, but personally I love these snippets.
They're fun, short, valid, engaging and to the point.
And, I might also add, pretty difficult to pull off successfully, which you manage to do pretty much every time, imo.

Author's Reply:
Thank you lovely lady xxx πŸ™‚


When Harry met the Alien (posted on: 16-07-10)
Entry to this weeks comp - it should have won but the judge took issue with my length ...

When Harry met the alien he was rather drunk and couldn't remember what he'd said but the alien obviously understood and took great offence. The tanks littered the streets like spider crabs, all charred and contorted, and black smoke from the burning diesel choked and stained the trees along the boulevard. The smell of cordite hung in the air and the crackle of the fires from the aftermath broke the silence. Harry stood untouched in the epicentre and the devastation rippled out into the distance. The alien was nowhere to be seen. "Come back," shouted Harry,"I didn't have time to explain."
Archived comments for When Harry met the Alien
pdemitchell on 16-07-2010
When Harry met the Alien
Hi Pombal - a nice bit of micro-flash but the ending fell a tiniest bit flat for me. The idea of a drunk starting an interstellar war is a good one! Mitch

Author's Reply:
yeah not enough words to really get going - but the idea tickled me too - one for a longer story ....

Gee on 16-07-2010
When Harry met the Alien
I have to say that I liked the ending. It made me laugh, which was probably completely the wrong attitude to take to a drunk causing a war.
Very nicely done.

Author's Reply:
thank you Gee πŸ™‚ - I'm looking forward to your non vampire story ...

cat on 16-07-2010
When Harry met the Alien
Made me laugh too, the ending. Great idea, cute little piece ("hi" btw) πŸ˜€

Author's Reply:
hi cat - thank you for your nice comment πŸ™‚

Ionicus on 17-07-2010
When Harry met the Alien
Pombal, you and I know that our respective pieces should have won the Golden Egg. Instead of which we were left with egg on our faces. What do they know.
Just to let you know that I appreciated your effort even though it is a wee bit short.

Author's Reply:
its definately a conspiracy - perhaps we have a problem with aliens here on this site - i cant prove it but the evidence is overwhelming ....

Bradene on 18-07-2010
When Harry met the Alien
I thought this was great and really expected it to win. Had I been the judge it definitely would have done so. Val

Author's Reply:
thanks Val - it was rushed and short but the idea I might use again - which I think is the great thing about the challenge - it throws up some unexpected stuff...


A Portrait of Rosa (posted on: 12-07-10)
Not too sure about this one - it seemed ok when I wrote it - I read it again and it feels a bit contrived ...

Alfred had not slept properly for many years. Every morning he would leave his apartment overlooking the river Tejo and somehow fill his time until late afternoon, whereupon he would return clutching the 'Times Iberian Edition' and one plastic shopping bag containing food for the day. "Bom dia, Senhor Alfredo," would say the porteiro in the morning, and "Boa tarde," in the afternoon, never receiving an answer, and never realising that Sehnor Alfredo was not portuguese and not an 'Alfredo' at all, but an 'Alfred' who could not understand much of any language apart from english. The inside of his apartment had not been maintained but was by no means untidy and to an occasional visitor, if there were such a thing, it would look like nothing had been moved in years. Ornaments and ephemera neatly gathered dust and framed photographs hung like fish scales on every spare inch of the walls. At night he would stare at the photographs in the apartment and then out the window at the bridge along the Tejo and count the lights along the river bank as they gradually blinked out with the passing hours. The ships in silhouette moved on silently until the dawn started another meaningless day. "Boa tarde, Senhor Alfredo," said the porteiro as Alfred walked past the reception to the elevator. Unusually on this occasion he was carrying a box from the local pastelaria. He opened the box and placed the cake in the middle of the mahogany table - set formally for one and accompanied by a glass of wine and a single rose and vase. He consumed his evening meal slowly, supping the wine after each deliberate mouthful. The empty plate clanked and echoed in the silence as he placed it in the sink. "Happy birthday, Rosa," said Alfred as he lit the candle on the cake. And he raised his glass and the shadows from the candlelight flickered against the portraits on the walls.
Archived comments for A Portrait of Rosa
Ionicus on 12-07-2010
A Portrait of Rosa
Very sweet, pombal. Was this a piece you considered for the 'Rose' challenge?

Author's Reply:
Aaaaaah thank you Luigi - strangely it was written for the 'Birthday' challenge ....

pdemitchell on 12-07-2010
A Portrait of Rosa
Hi Pombal Kinda poignant and it didn't rock my pedalo but it were a well crafted observational short and enjoyable. Mitch

Author's Reply:
Cheers Mitch - theres a cool prose challenge you might enjoy - https://ukauthors.com/phorum5/read.php?32,160965 - this one requires a speedboat tho!

Gee on 16-07-2010
A Portrait of Rosa
I didn't really feel it to be contrived, Mitch. It worked very well for me. I think it conveyed a sense of loss - not just the loss of a partner but of being lost in a place where he didn't belong.
Nicely done.
Gee x

Author's Reply:
Thank you Gee - there is always a danger of sounding contrived with such pieces and sometimes I dont get away with it but its hard to tell without anothers opinion . ..


The strange and reclusive 'Bo Radley' (posted on: 09-07-10)
entry for the weekly challenge

The strange and reclusive 'Bo Radley' was near blind from living in the dark for so long. No-one knew what he did to pass the time but the common consensus was, like most of us, he spent it dreaming, but, unlike most of us, his dreams filled the void rather than create it. I remember standing on his porch and trembling with fear after losing a bet. The things that went through my mind had no place being there - but what was I to think? He had not been seen outside his house for years and the reason was never known but there were many stories and theories and they almost always involved children or young girls like myself. There was no point being timid as I didn't want to stay any longer than I had to and I banged as hard as I could against his front door. He must have known I was there as I saw the net curtain twitch from the corner of my eye and the door open just enough for him to be hidden. I could not have moved even if I wanted to. It's strange what fear will let you do and what it won't, but I did a most dangerous thing without thinking and it was as natural as passing the salt. I put my hand through the crack of the door and he could easily have grabbed my wrist but instead he gently took the flower from my grasp. "A rose - how lovely - it feels just as red as I remember," he whispered, and I screamed and ran for my life.
Archived comments for The strange and reclusive 'Bo Radley'
Elfstone on 11-07-2010
The strange and reclusive Bo Radley
Just re-read this and still impressed. I would still go with my crit in the Challenge thread though - of course that's a matter of your feelings about the piece. Elf.

Author's Reply:
Thank you for your crit elf - its always good if someone takes the time to point out weaknesses. You are right of course as its a missed opportunity to make more of the ending... Ill edit it ...

Ionicus on 11-07-2010
The strange and reclusive Bo Radley
Really liked this, pombal. You show great skill in telling a story with so few words. Well done.

Author's Reply:
Cheers luigi - just went to abc - how many freaking cherries do you have? - you are the man πŸ™‚

pdemitchell on 12-07-2010
The strange and reclusive Bo Radley
hi Pombal - I wish I had the talent for sharp and short flash fiction instead of my 550-page ramble-monsters. Absolutely concise witout a wasted word. Bravo! mitch πŸ™‚

Author's Reply:
Cheers mitch - the unfortunate thing about flash is that it has no value - like a twitter - so its more of an exercise really - have you thought of joining one of the weekly challenges?


Not Available (posted on: 05-07-10)
I think I've gone a bit over the top on the alliteration ...

...
Archived comments for Not Available
pdemitchell on 06-07-2010
The Privy Party (completed)
Hi Pombal - the alliteration is fine but not many reads as you expected as you posted the first part earlier. The alliteration is fine - the key is to read it aloud as if you were a parent reading aloud to a small child at bedtime. That's the key and what's needed here. A fine Fungus the Bogeyman type start though. Keep editing!!! Mitch

Author's Reply:
Hey Mitch - congratulations on WOTM - cheers for reading - i might post as audio - thats a good idea ....


When The Lights Went Out (posted on: 25-06-10)
This weeks competitiion entry. Inspired by one of the recent forum topics ...

When the lights went out we lit some candles. It was simple and romantic and we could see much further into the night sky without the streetlamps - so why worry? We could hear the screams from the houses plunged into darkness and it was like a symphony and we laughed together. It was what we wished for and the day had finally arrived. All that time working and falling in love over the same desire and passion for a simpler and happier life for all. First we swapped reflections and then we wrote love letters, which were sent in an instant, and then we talked and finally met. It was a meeting of minds that made our purpose stronger and it became clear what we had to do. We wrote it in a night and we pushed the key together, as a symbolic gesture, and our virus flashed this message across the screens of the world - "JUSTICE FOR ALL" - and then it went dark and we lit the candles.
Archived comments for When The Lights Went Out
pdemitchell on 25-06-2010
When The Lights Went Out
Did you know the very first ever virus appeared on the Pentagon computer network when an employee sent a self-copying christmas tree and message! We could go dark soon as the helio-meterologists are predicted an active sunspot maxima soon. A nice piece of vengeful micro-flash tho' I would be more inclined to send a more sinister message 'welcome to armageddon' or 'i'm right behind you!' or 'shop at Wal-mart' Cracking. Mitch πŸ˜€

Author's Reply:
I'm sure there are quite a few pentagon virus's now ...you have given me an idea - I could recycle my competion entries just by changing the message πŸ™‚

sunken on 26-06-2010
When The Lights Went Out
Another neat ickul piece of flash, Mr. Pombal. I enjoyed it more than a cadbury's crunchie bar. This is quite a compliment as I am very fond of said confectionery product. Thank you.

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so we filled up a bottle and made our way to the front

Author's Reply:
Aaah I get it ...crunchy munky.
Always a pleasure to see you Sunks its a shame I can't offer you some tea and cake, as that would be the civilised thing to do ...

Andrea on 26-06-2010
When The Lights Went Out
Great little piece Pom - thoroughly enjoyed

Author's Reply:
Thank you for commenting Andrea - see you at the next challenge?

stormwolf on 26-06-2010
When The Lights Went Out
Very thought provink indeed. For a brief time the candles would enchant before the terror starts.
Alison x

Author's Reply:
Thank you for reading Alison - its rare to see you coming over to the dark side of prose πŸ™‚ xxx

Ionicus on 26-06-2010
When The Lights Went Out
Hi pombal. Read this in the Forum but it was a pleasure to re-read it.

Author's Reply:
Cheers Luigi - look forward to sparing in the next comp πŸ˜‰

shadow on 27-06-2010
When The Lights Went Out
Oooh ... scary! And an object lesson in how to get a lot of story into a very few words.

Author's Reply:
thank you for reading and commenting shadow πŸ™‚

Nomenklatura on 28-06-2010
When The Lights Went Out
A very good piece of flash fiction. Atmosphere, sense of place and an eco-warning. That's a lot to get into/out of so few words.

Author's Reply:
cheers Ewan - see you in the forum .....


Not Available (posted on: 21-06-10)
"I got him! I got him! Right between the eyes!"

...
Archived comments for Not Available
pdemitchell on 22-06-2010
The Blunderkerbuster
Hi Pombal - very dry and funny with a wee hint of Terry Pratchett methinks. Could make a tidy novella. Mitch

Author's Reply:
Cheers for reading again Mitch - my target is 8-10 - so I'm not too sure how many words this age group expects - I'm going to google it ...

sunken on 22-06-2010
The Blunderkerbuster
Yes! Imp is back! Still say you're onto a winner with your Imp stories, Mr. Pom of Bal. He's lost none of his cheeky charm. I can see these going down a storm with kids. Ok, I admit it, I is a big kid at heart. Top stuff. Glad he's back.

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please sir, can i have a refund?

Author's Reply:
Cheers sunks - I'm finding them very enjoyable to write ...no idea where its going yet so any plot ideas would be most welcome ...

Mungo on 23-06-2010
The Blunderkerbuster
Made me laugh a couple of times, which is never easy! I can see this doing well as a cartoon series.

Regards plot, does it really need one? Seems to me the humour is in the situation in and of itself; Imp trying to escape various attempts to exterminate him - that's what made me think of the cartoons. How many roadrunner episodes where there?

If you do want plot though, how about where Imp came from, how did he end up 'here', is he trying to get back home?

Anyway, this is my first comment and it's just some ideas and thoughts really - hope they help - thanks for the read and good luck!

Mungo

Author's Reply:
Cheers for reading and commenting Mungo - and welcome to UKA πŸ™‚ - you're right - maybe I shouldn't worry too much about a plot just yet - the cartoon series is an interesting observation ...


Not Available (posted on: 18-06-10)
The chapter where we find something way more serious than a rat ...

...
Archived comments for Not Available
pdemitchell on 19-06-2010
A Case of Impestation
Howdo Pombal - I thoroughly enjoyed the enuffable whimsy but ya lost me with the punch line. Sorry. Mitch πŸ™‚

Author's Reply:
Excellent - I was starting to think IMP smells a bit - thank you for reading and commenting Mitch. A couple of years ago I started writing a series of flash stories with a character called "IMP" (if you are interested you can see my previous imp submissions) - I really liked writing them and I think it came across so I sent them to an agent person - usual rejection came back - but also with a lengthy letter explaining why it was not considered - great character and fun: but no plot, some scenes too obscure and adult etc etc - i.e. Some potential and something I could work on i.e i.e rewrite it and send it back. So I thought - great Ill write a 50000 word childrens novel - and 2 years later this is my attempt at the first 400 words ...living the dream πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

wfgray on 19-06-2010
A Case of Impestation
Hi there, Last year our village was the victim of impestation. Apparently people walking home at nights could see lots of them on the roadside. One thought he had found a safe spot in my garden. HELL NO, I promptly gave him a large doze of rat pellets. The Pest officer had been called by our neighbour because she had seen on so consequently he gave me a visit. All he had was a large portion of pellets. I told him what I had done. His words were, "that'll the ugly fat bastards." I have never seen any since. Apparently a lot of farm land had been taken over for building houses and that had caused the invasion of the rat population. Impestation! now we know what it means. Will

Author's Reply:
If they stand on 2 legs, Will, then you have an extra serious problem. I recommend a blunderbuster and some cherry bombs coated in jam ...

pdemitchell on 19-06-2010
A Case of Impestation
Ah, imps and gremlins, glitches and geists, demons, incubi and succubi - makes for quite the kitchen party. Impestation - sorry for being blunderbusteredly slow on the imptake. mitch

Author's Reply:
No mitch you weren't slow at all - the chapter was just out of context ...


Jumper (posted on: 14-06-10)
My entry for last weeks comp - the word was "FATE"

It is too far to see the expression on his face but I can see by his body language that he is tortured and about to jump. The block is in an up and coming neighbourhood and all the apartments have balconies, but people aren't meant to live higher than a couple of floors and, living up there all the time, I can understand his unnatural urge to want to fly. "Don't do it," I shout, "let fate give you wings, suicide is ugly." I know he can't hear me, and it doesn't matter what I say, but I've always been a romantic at heart, and perhaps if he sees me waving, he might see past the empty sky and into the future and maybe see us together and making love. I step back and wave my arms and frantically shout, "You don't know what you're missing," and I feel the rush of air as the bus hits me.
Archived comments for Jumper
Ionicus on 14-06-2010
Jumper
Excellent Pombal, worthy of the 'egg' awarded to you in the Forum and the 'cherry' on ABC.

Author's Reply:
Cheers Luigi - but what I really want is a leather clad biker chick ...

pdemitchell on 14-06-2010
Jumper
Hi pombal - a refreshing whiff of flash but having been whacked by a bus, a glancing blow luckily, there was no rush of air just thud and one hell of a lot of stars. Well writ enjoyable flash nonetheless. mitch πŸ™‚

Author's Reply:
Hi Mitch - cheers for reading - fancy the challenges? I saw a guy get hit the other day (which prompted the story) - it knocked him clear across the road - but I think the bus came off worse as the whole front was mashed ...

sunken on 14-06-2010
Jumper
Killer last line. Literally. Good to see you subbing again, Mr. Pombal. A tip top piece of flash and no mistake.

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Author's Reply:
Cheers sunks - cool to hear from you again - the recessions really cooled my ardour for writing - makes me feel guilty wasting time writing instead of trying to earn a crust for the family ...still its better than facebook!


Scandal (posted on: 30-10-09)
Disgraceful

"Have you read this mornings paper?" "I read yesterday's - I'm sure it's pretty much the same." The boiled eggs sit in porcelain egg cups, neatly decapitated, with brown buttered toast cut into soldiers, and black coffee and demerera sugar by the side on a starched white table cloth. He is in a white toweling robe and his legs are crossed with hotel slippers on his feet. His cigar, fat in his fingers, is freshly lit and the smoke hangs in the air. The other he is sitting on the opposite end of the table dressed in black chiffon. His lips are red, freshly applied, and his hair is raked back. His legs are crossed with bare feet and red laquered toenails. "Maybe you should read it ...," says the he in black chiffon. "What on earth for?" He says and takes a deep drag from the cigar. "Because it's about you, silly."
Archived comments for Scandal
Mandrake on 30-10-2009
Scandal
Cheap dramatic trick, I know - but I think, if you're going with this version, it would be better to find a way of wording it so as to conceal the gender of the black chiffon he until the last line.

Author's Reply:
Cheers Mandrake - bit of a throwaway piece anyway - I had an attempt but it looked contrived - i think its one of those cases which needs a complete rewrite to incorporate a new idea ...got you laughing tho ! :))

sunken on 31-10-2009
Scandal
Disgraceful! Now, where did I put my pantyhose....

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in pod we trust

Author's Reply:
Strange - I had you in mind Sunks when I was trying to visualise the he/she in chiffon πŸ™‚

sunken on 01-11-2009
Scandal
Ahem. Shhh... I was merely experimenting with my feminine side. And now, if you don't mind, I have moisturisers to apply. Good day!

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now available in satin finish

Author's Reply:
Its ok Sunks - I wasn't judging - many would pluck their right eyebrow to have your kind of balls ...

artisus on 01-11-2009
Scandal
Excellent!

Author's Reply:
Thank you Nic - I'm glad it tickled your fancy πŸ™‚

macaby on 01-11-2009
Scandal
Short, scandalous but plausible enough. I liked it.
Regards
mac

Author's Reply:
Cheers mac - this is in no way autobiographical ...


I wish you could see the colour of the leaves as they fall and the tapestry on t (posted on: 23-10-09)
My title got truncated!! Here is is again » I wish you could see the colour of the leaves as they fall and the tapestry on the ground – instead of the end of our summer

We were sitting at the window, with a cup of tea, and the crackle of the fire, and watching the leaves as they fall from the maple tree. It was a game and we had to guess which one would fall next, and our guess was never right, but that wasn't the point, it was just nice and we had all day until the light faded. Sometimes we had a race with which one would hit the ground first. We would get so excited our breath would fog up the window and I had to use my sleeve to wipe the condensation away before the next race. Its not often we had a day to just watch the leaves and giggle and invent games, and its not something you can plan and say ''I know, today we will just sit and watch the season change,'' - its a spontaneous thing and it catches you by surprise and all of a sudden nothing matters but a cup of tea and the wind in the trees. On other days you would just worry about the time you were wasting and how much there was to do and how there is not enough time anyway. They swirled and tumbled at random but I was winning most of the games and I teased her gently. ''I wonder if we'll be doing this when we're seventy?'' I said. We were both thirty five and married for enough years to know the meaning of love and how quickly the time was passing. Our hair was changing colour like the leaves outside. I looked at her and I remembered how we met and how I felt with the sun on my face and her smiling back at me. ''Maybe I will,'' she said, ''but certainly not with you.''
Archived comments for I wish you could see the colour of the leaves as they fall and the tapestry on t
Ionicus on 24-10-2009
I wish you could see the colour of the leaves as they fall and the tapestry on t
Dear pombal, if you limited the title to 'Tapestry on the ground', say, it would fit nicely without being truncated.
Just a suggestion.
As for the piece, an enjoyable little tale with an amusing finale.

Author's Reply:
Dear Ionicus - thank you for reading and not mentioning the squirrels - I will truncate as you say - humbly Snr Pombal

sunken on 24-10-2009
I wish you could see the colour of the leaves as they fall and the tapestry on t
Hello Mr. Pombal. This strikes me as both amusing and sad. I guess you can read different things into it. This is always a good thang. I enjoyed the read and no mistake. Well done, fella.

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it suddenly dawned on her that he looked not unlike hitler.

Author's Reply:
Pleasure to see you again Sunks. Was that hitler before or after?

Ania on 01-11-2009
I wish you could see the colour of the leaves as they fall and the tapestry on t
Loved this. I loved the poetic charm of the falling leaves and it being a worthy way to spend a day. (I love autumn except for the fact it is a harbinger of doom - I mean winter) and then the ending. As stark as winter itself. A great piece.

Ania

Author's Reply:
What a lovely comment - thank you Ania - it made my day πŸ™‚


Invisible Man (posted on: 16-10-09)
kinda cack - but got nothing else this week ...

He weaved down the street scattering the commuters as they dodged to avoid eye contact. Every morning at the same time he would do the same mad dance and the same commuters - bustling the opposite way to work with their McMuffins and lattes-to-go - would look up quickly to see where he was in relation to them, so they could change course and not collide with the man in rags that would ruin their day. The pattern of his steps were quite predictable, which made it easy for those who were paying attention, but every now and then a coffee was spilled and a cross word was said before he was recognised and they were able to hurry off. Sally liked to think she had a heart of gold. She was a pretty girl who turned heads. She worked in the city for a charity and her attractiveness and her occupation made her look almost saint like at parties - ''Good for you...'' ''Must be so rewarding...'' ''Just delightful ...'' He was on her route to work and she, like the rest of them, avoided him like an untouchable. But she was still aware of him and eventually it became too much for her to bear. She stopped walking. She was in his way, so he stopped. He shuffled to the side and she moved to the same side. He shuffled to the other side and she moved to the other side. ''Why do you do this every day? You're making a nuisance of yourself,'' she said. He looked up at her. ''I can see the future,'' he said. ''Don't be ridiculous,'' she said. ''I'm looking forward in time and I can see where they're going to step so I move to avoid a collision and sometimes I have a lapse in concentration but I find I'm getting better with practice.'' ''This is silly. Tell me, what are we going to do next then.'' ''I can see us in love and married,'' he said. And for one horrified moment she saw their future together.
Archived comments for Invisible Man
Andrea on 16-10-2009
Invisible Man
Hahaha, lovely. You're really good at the snippets, aren't you? Great little (dare I say it before me latte?) bites.



Author's Reply:
Thank you Andrea - I see you're in a good mood today πŸ™‚

Andrea on 16-10-2009
Invisible Man
My dear chap I am rarely, if ever, in a bad one πŸ™‚

Author's Reply:
This is true πŸ™‚

sunken on 17-10-2009
Invisible Man
It's not true, Mr. Pombal. That Andrea woman can get in some right strops and no mistake. Still, she's a woman - it's to be expected (-; Ahem. It's ok, she won't see this. Hello? Enjoyed the piece. Not cack at all. Does this geezer actually exist? I'll be frank, there are some mornings when I'd pay good money to see a mad bloke dancing in the street. Good work, fella.

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place in a pre-heated oven and leave to incinerate

Author's Reply:
Hi Sunks - cheers for dropping by πŸ™‚ I would agree with you but I dont want to come across her wrath ... Geezer is imaginary but I'm sure he exists some place ...


RED (posted on: 02-10-09)
Submitted for this weeks challenge - thanks to Daff and BlueP for telling about my dodgy ending ...

Of all the mirrors in the house the one in the bedroom was the most flattering. The frame was full length pine and it hung against the wall beside the dressing table. She stood and looked at her reflection. The wardrobe was open and the empty hangers were skeletons on the rail. Clothes littered the double bed. Her hair was wrapped in a towel which was twisted and flicked over her head, the jewelry box was open with the most valuable ring on the finger where the nail polish had dried to a sheen, and she had already applied her makeup - lipstick and mascara, never needing much else. "I don't know what to wear," she shouted downstairs to her husband. "Just wear the red dress - you always look so sexy in that little red dress," shouted her husband. She looked at the reflection of her red hair drying in the towel, her red ruby ring on her finger with the red nail polish, and her red glossy lipstick. "But I don't have a red dress - I've never had a red dress," she said quietly.
Archived comments for RED
Ionicus on 02-10-2009
RED
Very polished little piece, pombal, and so open to various interpretations. The husband's suggestion - "Just wear the red dress - you always look so sexy in that little red dress," - is intriguing.
Is that meant to convey the thought of a mistress?
What are we to make of the fact that the wife does not seem to have a dress to match her red hair, ruby ring and red nails?

Author's Reply:
Cheers Luigi - Its left open but my interpretation is thus:

1. The mistress is another guy who wears a red dress on weekends
2. If I was that red dress guy I would understand that redheads never wear a red dress as its a fashion disaster

bluepootle on 02-10-2009
RED
Yeah, that's better. It's good.

Author's Reply:
thanks for the advice bluep xx πŸ™‚

Griffonner on 02-10-2009
RED
Oops!

Cleverly you've left this open to lots of interpretations.

Has it become unfashionable to award rating points? Well, to hell with it! Here's one guy who flaunts convention.

Allen

Author's Reply:
Hi Allen - thanks for popping by and for the rating! Theres been a bit of debate about the rating system on the forums and I think its putting people off ...

sunken on 03-10-2009
RED
Top stuff Pombal. In the end I felt sorry for her. Either her partner is seeing someone else or thinking of someone else - or maybe he's never even noticed her. Sad. Enjoyed muchly. My only prob with rates is the fact that they can be given anonymously. There's no good argument that I've heard for being able to do that. Decent types do so openly, like that nice Mr. Griffonner. Hope a smelly Bernard will go some way to expressing how much I rate this. Well done, fella.

Oh - PS. - Is 'hangars' right? I thought it was 'hangers'? Don't take my word for it tho. I'm probably wrong, usually am (-:

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Author's Reply:
Excellent a Bernard - Cheers Sunks :):) Google says "Did you mean clothes hangers?" - Ta for this - bypassed me and my context insensitive spell checkers ....

stormwolf on 03-10-2009
RED
Hello Pombal;-)
This is the first time I have read you...
I liked this very much...I took it to be the mistress theme. I could just imagine the scene following this...eeekk!
btw I have red hair (of sorts) πŸ˜‰ and I wear red.
I enjoyed the male slant on it too πŸ˜‰
Alison

Author's Reply:
Hi Alison - there is a kind of divide between poetry and prose on UKA so its lovely that you popped by πŸ™‚ about the red wearing - I have only recently discovered I'm colour blind and that's only because my wife started analysing my fashion choices - my world saw brown cords, white shirt, red tie - real world saw green cords, pink shirt, red tie - so who am I to comment πŸ™‚

macaby on 03-10-2009
RED
Yes I think this is a clever and a good story. You have certainly left your readers thinking about mistresses, but it could be something else, couldn't it?
I enjoyed the read Pombal.
regards
mac

Author's Reply:
Cheers for reading mac. I quite like open endings but sometimes it can leave the reader feeling a bit cheated ...


Not Available (posted on: 11-09-09)
All the most famous people have eaten jam.

...
Archived comments for Not Available
sunken on 11-09-2009
Blueberry Jam
Ah ha! It's okay, Pombal. I'm not about to launch into an accapella version of 'Take on me'. No, my 'Ah ha' is born of both surprise and elation. I've been waiting for Imps return. Strangely, I was thinking about Imp before I reached the line where he makes his appearance. This is a good thang. Nice one Pombal, if not a bit sticky (-;

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vertical burials were something to contemplate, but not now, not now the countdown was reaching its climax

Author's Reply:
Cool sunks - its good to see you alive and ahaaaing. Yep he's back - little pest just won't leave me alone - had a positive note from an agent a while back and she said come back when he doesn't die and a bit less obscure - this is my first attempt - if only there was a "Chapter Challenge" on the forum - I'm now finding 350 wds a bit limiting ...

sunken on 11-09-2009
Blueberry Jam
PS. You sub, like many others, has been posted twice. You may want to delete one before your comments get split. Thank you. Hello?

Author's Reply:

sunken on 11-09-2009
Blueberry Jam
You don't have to stick to 350 words do ya, Mr. Pom of Bal? Sod that, my good fellow. Your creativity shouldn't be constrained. I say write them as you want to and then sub them to the main site. Any in-depth crit or discussion can then be taken to the forums. Though to be frank, how anyone can criticise an Imp is beyond me. Well done on the agent news.

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he's concerned about the dodo

Author's Reply:
well its not really well done as I havent done anything about it! - its not really an offer just an offer to look at it if its in a better state - but its the best Ive had so far πŸ™‚ ...besides my length is still a bit suspect ...

sunken on 13-09-2009
Blueberry Jam
Ahem. My length has always been a bit suspect. It still sounds encouraging tho, Mr. Pombal. Keep at it, my good fellow. I really think you're on to something with the Imp character.

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a bin with wheels? wheelie?

Author's Reply:
Im trying to keep it up and dont worry about your length its supposed to be the first couple of column inches that count ...

stormwolf on 13-09-2009
Blueberry Jam
hehehe I usually stick to reading poetry but I found this very funny. The mental images engendered were hilarious. Now, i have to confess...I do not like jam..never really did.

This probably accounts for my failure to amount to anything in life. oh well πŸ˜‰
Alison

Author's Reply:
Thank you Alison for reading. Its kind of in the middle as Imp was a character I was playing around with about a year ago - Im trying to kick him into gear again ...

Mezzanotte on 13-09-2009
Blueberry Jam
Dear Pombal

Wierd, wonderful and sticky...I wasn't sure where we were going with this one, and having never met Imp I was a little confused at the end.

But never mind, now I really fancy a jam sandwich, but I'm on a diet, plus I have no jam in the fridge...only Marmite and half a jar of mayo...

Best wishes
Jami...I mean jackie

Author's Reply:
Hi Jackie - Im sure marmite and mayo could make a wonderful mess - dont leave the jars out over night - its a red flag to an Imp ....

shackleton on 17-09-2009
Blueberry Jam
When I were a lad, we were so poor that we had bread and sugar for supper. As time went on, we became middle class and had bread and jam. As more time went on, I lost all my teeth. Never tried blueberry jam... that sounds a bit upper class. Enjoyed the read!

Author's Reply:
Cheers for reading Shacks ...when i was a lad we were so poor we couldnt afford teeth so we had to creep around at night and look under pillows and occasionally we would find a tooth and leave 2p in its place


The Tail of Henry James (Prose Challenge) (posted on: 31-08-09)
Written for the prose challenge - the aim is to make the reader cry. This was a difficult one, as it's hard not to sound contrived - which I think this does, but I kinda ran out of time .... (oh - and sorry about the swearing)

It had red bricks and the pointing was crumbling but it had been crumbling for years and he always said when we came through the front door – ''job for the weekend son'' – and it never was – because he'd put the key in the door and Henry Tudor would rush up and my dad would shout ''what's for dinner love'' and laugh, and Henry would bark and bark ... "What does it matter where I live? This is not about me this is about Henry." ... scabby little thing. Little flea bitten thing - I didn't want its disease – I wasn't taking any chances .... I was lying on the floor and I was thinking of you – it was dirty and I wasn't taking any chances. "Please, just get the Vet. This is not normal - you can see its not normal." ...my mum was "with god" he would say, but I found out that she 'discovered' god which was a different thing. Him and Henry knew, and they never told me. You would've told me - you're cleverer than the other Henry ... ''So, Henry – that's an unusual name.'' Henry number five – the best Henry ever. ''Tell me what's wrong Doc? When can I take him home?'' I gave it up for you Henry, not touched a drop for days. I still have the odd cigarette, got to, I need something, but its baccy – you'll be proud of me. I'm a changed man, and its all because of you. You'll see when we get home. I've tidied up. I've washed the dishes. ''The paralysis is a side effect ...Henry's been poisoned. He's eaten something. '' I've had such awful pains – I know what it's like – believe me. I was lying there and I saw her and I knew it wasn't real – she wouldn't come back, she never liked me, I was too much like him – but she said she loved me and I cried and I asked her to make you better. I screamed and I was sick and she went away. Has she been Henry? Did she rub your tummy? ...You'd tell me wouldn't you? ''But who could have done that to him?'' It's OK Henry. I'm looking after you now. Good boy. Nice Boy. you're such a good boy. I'm so sorry. I'm sorry for the way I treated you. You've been so faithful, despite me, despite everything. I'm faithful now, I'm here for you now. I've changed . It was the brew. It made me ignore you, but all I had was you. I understand now. You loved me and I didn't care, but I care now. I care Henry. ''But he can wag his tail Doc? That means something. It means his going to get better.'' It's one for ''no'' and two for ''yes'', and you don't have to bark, you don't have to lick my hand, you don't have to do anything. ...just tell me. Does it hurt? Are you in pain? Wag your tail – tell me how awful it is ... "Botulism. But what's botulism – is it a disease, some awful disease?" I saw prince Charlie today and I thought of you Henry. Remember how you used to chase him, scabby little thing, you were so happy. And he would screech and hiss, and you would get so confused and sometimes run away and hide behind me. And I would kick and say ''don't be such a coward'' and you would look at me and not understand ... ''He's here for a least a couple of weeks. We'll take good care of him.'' I'll remember that night forever Henry. The night you saved me. The night you whimpered and barked till I woke up. I opened my eyes and you were licking my face. I was so tired, but you kept me awake, until it wore off, and then you let me sleep, but you stayed with me. You were my angel that night - my angel Henry. I owe you one Henry - it's the least I can do. ''But I don't have any insurance, Doc. How am I going to pay for this?'' It's tight, but I can do it. I've a budget, and don't worry I can still afford to eat. You're number one Henry – nothing else matters. ''You're a lying cunt. Appropriate use, what's appropriate use? It's a 'Crisis Loan' – it's a fucking crisis – can't you see I'm desperate?'' I told her Henry, I told her. ''...No Ta. I'm dry. It's Henry. Not tonight. I'd love to, but its Henry.'' I'm trying so hard, but it still comes back. See – I'm shaking – I'm shaking for you Henry. When you get better we'll have a party, I'll invite everybody, anybody whose ever met you. We'll have champagne and sherry and brandy and cold beer and red wine – red wine for everybody. ''Five? You're having a fucking laugh – it's worth at least fifty. You're taking advantage of me, I thought we were friends.'' My bed was wet through and I was so hot and then I was shivering. I miss you Henry. ''No, it needs to be at night. I see Henry in the day. I'll do anything, I'm a regular. You owe me. I'll wash the dishes, I'll collect glasses. I'll clean your fucking arse. No ...Please ...no offence ...can't you see I need this''? Remember the park? We were there to score, and all those other dogs with their wonderful families. That'll be us. We'll have such a wonderful time. I won't be the same Henry – you'll see. ''I'm sorry – I know you're scared – but I'm not like this usually. Please, whatever's in your purse – and then Ill go away and you can forget all about this. I'm not going to hurt you, but my need is greater. Don't cry. Please don't cry. If you can see Henry you'd understand. All I want is the purse. ...Is this it? Is this it? A few coins? ...'' You don't have to come to me anymore, I'll come to you, I'll cuddle you. I'm so cold Henry. Are they treating you well. You look awful. Please get better - I'm finding it so hard without you. Nasty things Henry. ''I appreciate your position. But we cant rush these things and we have to keep him here – he can't survive without the ventilator.'' I'll put him here by your paw. Remember when you found him? All dirty and wet. I was asleep and you dropped him on my chest and I thought it was a rat and screamed. And every morning for weeks you would drop teddy on me and I would get so annoyed. He wasn't lost Henry, I took him, but you can have him back. I'm sorry I stole him from you. I'll never do it again. ''I know its not fucking Christmas, can't you appreciate the sentiment? Just a pound. What do you fucking expect – Pavarotti? ...He doesn't sing for free ...This is for charity too – have a fucking heart.'' Our party will be so good. ''WELCOME HOME HENRY''. Everybody will cheer and raise their glasses and sing and you'll howl, like you always do, and they'll laugh and shout, ''Shut up Henry – don't you know any other song?'' ''You're drunk. We'll call the police. Come back tomorrow.'' Just one - that's all I had. I needed to relax. You know what I'm like. You know me better than anyone. ''I'm no trouble. It wasn't me. He said something to the lady and it wasn't nice. You understand I had to say something. I was defending her honour – he needs too apologise. Just let me back in, you know I'm not a trouble maker, I've paid for the round already. Just let me finish. I'm not a troublemaker.'' Henry. Henry. Sssh. It's me. I'm back. Don't worry Daddy's here. I bought you something. ...It'll make you feel better. Make you feel warm and fuzzy. Wag your tail, wag your tail for daddy ....Ssshh, they'll hear us ...I'm sorry Henry, I'm trying, but it's so hard. You understand – I know you do – you've always understood me. ...Sssh, they're coming ... ''You're all fuckers. You can't do this. What about my rights? What about the rights of Henry? Please let me in – he's all I have. Henry. Henry. Do something Henry. Tell them its OK. Get up Henry. Henry you need to get up. Can you hear me. You don't know what they're going to do. You dirty fucking bastards! How can you live with yourselves? Please – I'll do anything. Just let me in. Let me see him. He needs me, Henry James needs me so much ....''
Archived comments for The Tail of Henry James (Prose Challenge)
sirat on 31-08-2009
The Tail of Henry James (Prose Challenge)
A clever way to present the final disintegration of somebody's life. I like the fragmented way you have told the story, and how it gradually becomes clear that this is someone who can only relate to dogs and who has found in his canine relationships a replacement for human intimacy, which always goes wrong. Unconditional love is what he needs, and there is really only one place where you can get that.

For me, this is the most successful of the challenge stories I have read so far this morning. I may not have found all of them yet.

Author's Reply:
Cheers David - I found it difficult to write - not because of the subject matter - but because of the length - a good exercise for me ...

e-griff on 31-08-2009
The Tail of Henry James (Prose Challenge)
A surprising and interesting story. Probably needs a little edit and polish but that didn't matter at this stage. Haven't read the others yet but I'd rate this better than mine πŸ™‚ JohnG

Author's Reply:
it was a a very successful challenge Griff πŸ™‚ - I was amazed at the standard of entries. Have you read one boy and his dog? - a very formative story for me ....

bluepootle on 31-08-2009
The Tail of Henry James (Prose Challenge)
I like this very much. Great shape, and it really works.

Author's Reply:
Thank you bluep - its a shame you couldnt join us this time πŸ™

RoyBateman on 01-09-2009
The Tail of Henry James (Prose Challenge)
This is original, arresting and, of course, terrifying. Not easy to get into at once, but definitely worth the effort. Personally, I generally prefer cats to humans but I hope I never end up like this. Maybe this should be a compulsory text for AA?

Author's Reply:
thank god its only fiction! - I was trying to milk it a bit - although I dont think I made anybody cry πŸ™

hoopsinoz on 01-09-2009
The Tail of Henry James (Prose Challenge)
Hey Pombal - yep this made me sad - depressingly sad - it reflected the despair and need so well.... I agree about the AA compulsory text... I liked it a lot....

Author's Reply:
cheers Hoopz - I was very impressed with the standard in this challenge - Ill try and up my game a bit in the next one ...


Grandfather Clock (posted on: 21-08-09)
Another entry in the challenge (didnt win πŸ™ )

Christopher was never tall enough. The clock was at the other end of the hallway and stood there as if standing guard. In the winter it lost forty six minutes a day and you could add on another two minutes for each summer month. It was supposed to have something to do with the humidity and there was a note with aging sellotape stuck to the inside of the door with instructions on how to wind it forward. Each morning his father would open the glass face and wind the the minute hand from around quarter past five to six and stand there and listen to the chimes. Christopher's bedroom was half way down the hall and he would always have his door open on account of the 'monsters' lurking in the dark but really so he could listen to the chimes. They made him feel safe and think of lazy sundays and pillow fights and reading adventure books and making tents from bedsheets and his father turning and smiling and saying ''good morning sleepy head''. His father inherited the clock from his father who in turn from his father and it had been in the family for so many generations that it was joked it was in the background of every portrait. One morning Christopher woke up early determined to prove that he was old enough to take on the responsibility of keeping time. He quietly tiptoed to the clock carrying a chair - he knew he wasn't tall enough but he so much wanted to feel what it was like to be old and responsible and in charge - and opened the clock face, slowly turning the minute hand until he heard a chime. ''Ding.'' He wound the minute hand faster and faster. He was so excited. ''Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. ....'' He only heard his father when the bedroom door slammed shut, and he knew he'd done wrong, but he giggled and turned to his father and smiled. His father looked at Christopher. ...and said the strangest thing. ''Dad? Is that you?''
Archived comments for Grandfather Clock
sirat on 21-08-2009
Grandfather Clock
I like the plot of this one but the telling is a bit clumsy. Some of the phrasing is awkward, for example in the first line: 'The clock was at the other end of the hall way and stood there as if watching guard'. 'Hallway' is normally all one word and 'watching guard' sounds incorrect. 'Keeping guard' would sound better. 'He quietly tiptoed over to the clock with a chair in his hands' also sounds odd – 'carrying a chair' would be more natural (and would also save a couple of words). The name Christopher seems to be repeated much too often, and there's something strange about the skipped lines in the second half of the story, presumably making each sentence a new paragraph.

I think you've got a very good idea for an ultra-short story here but the execution lets it down. A minor editorial polish would make a big difference.

Author's Reply:
Cheers David - I have made the changes you suggested and its definately better - this is the kind of thing I'm talking about - some people seem to have the insight to be able to offer real constructive criticism - you're one of them (I'm not) - thank you for the gift

sunken on 22-08-2009
Grandfather Clock
Enjoyed this Mr. Pom of Bal. Where is Bal? The clock on my dvd recorder loses two minutes a week. This means I always lose the endings to programmes. I still don't know if Terry told Sandra that he's leaving her for a man he met in Ipswich when on company training. Yes, time shifting has a lot to answer for and no mistake. I hope this useless comment has helped in some way... I can't imagine it has. Perhaps I could sing you a song instead? Ahem -

'God save our gracious Queen!
Long live our noble Queen!
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the Queen... ect'

Always gives me a boner that tune. Was that too much information? It was wasnt' it? I'll do one. By 'do one' I mean leave - not have a wank. Ahem. This commenting lark gets no easier. Thank you.

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mummy, stacey's frying caterpillars again

Author's Reply:
Mr Sunks - caught you on a randy day I see - grandfather clocks must do it for you - oak is best - try and avoid the china ash (its never sanded properly) - pom of bal is here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sebasti%C3%A3o_de_Melo,_Marquis_of_Pombal

shackleton on 23-08-2009
Grandfather Clock
Enjoyed the read, Pombal. I think that ending is a bit scary.

Author's Reply:
Cheers shackleton - hope you don't have nightmares tonight πŸ™‚


Mr Grays Anatomy (posted on: 14-08-09)
Another entry in the weekly challenge ... sorry about the twitterlature ...

''Its a femur.'' They're testing my patience. They have the book right in front of them, but for each bone they pick up I have to explain in detail what it is and where it goes. ''Metatarsal – it goes in the foot next to the other one.'' They're just fucking with me. ''Tibia. Tibia. Tibia. Its right there in the diagram.'' I'm usually the one standing up umming and aaahing with a clipboard in my hand but they're the ones standing over me now – looming and leering and pointing at the pictures. The leg bones are on the stainless steel table at the end of the bed, lined up neatly but not in biological order and they're trying to fit them together like jigsaw pieces. Anatomy is my specialism and I'm finding this lack of basic knowledge very frustrating. ''For pete's sake – it goes with the fibula. Can you not get that through your thick skulls?'' They look at me – the ugly bastards – but I'm not sure they understand - they've never understood me – and I've been through the whole textbook with them. ''AAAAARRRGH!'' I shout in frustration. They let out an unearthly screech - EEEEEEEEEAAAAAAH - and the bones clatter onto the metal table. ''No please don't go – I didn't mean to offend you. ...'' I push myself off the hospital bed and my feet touch the linoleum, but my legs are jelly and I crumple to the floor. ''Please ...my bones ...put them back ...I need them to walk ...''
Archived comments for Mr Grays Anatomy
sunken on 14-08-2009
Mr Grays Anatomy
I was getting hints of alien abduction here. I know, I'm wrong. I was abducted in 1999, Mr. Pombal. The bastards rejected me tho. Said I was a substandard specimen. How rude! Clever and as witty as always, my good fellow. You're rather handy at this flash and no mistake. You shouldn't be apologising for Twitterlature, by the way. It's evolution by the backdoor. A full explanation of this comment can be found on ceefax pg 232 (does ceefax still exist?) Hello?

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he's just going for a wee

Author's Reply:
pleasure to hear from you πŸ™‚ youre not wrong sunks - green guys with googly eyes - im sure thats what they meant you to think and you was dissected and sewn back up like the rest of em ...

sunken on 15-08-2009
Mr Grays Anatomy
I'll be frank, Mr. Pombal, I feel violated and no mistake!

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in case of emergency - brush your teeth

Author's Reply:
You have to make sure they've left nothing behind - you need a metal detector, some ether and a coat hanger

sunken on 15-08-2009
Mr Grays Anatomy
Ahem. When you say 'ether' do you mean like an ethernet cable? I'm assuming I'll have to connect myself to the web for some form of analysis. This is most disturbing and no mistake...

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coat hanger in hand and a worried look on his face

Author's Reply:
I suppose a cable will do - its not an exact science - more hit and miss - but you do need to know which rj45 port to stick it in

sunken on 15-08-2009
Mr Grays Anatomy
Ahem. I've a feeling this is gonna hurt... Sorry. Pombal. I'll shut up now.

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bent over a mirror trying to locate his rj45 socket

Author's Reply:
Its only a small rj45 jack - about the same size as the head of a toothbrush ...

macaby on 15-08-2009
Mr Grays Anatomy
I liked this one pombal, a ghostly touch to it, like a nightmare .
thanks for sharing
mac

Author's Reply:
Cheers mac πŸ™‚ - maybe I should have called it "Sunks Anatomy"

bluepootle on 15-08-2009
Mr Grays Anatomy
I like the beginning very much, and the build-up. I think the point in which it becomes less successful for me is the scream.

β€œAAAAARRRGH!” I shout in frustration.

I think you veer into telling the reader from this point in order to tie it up quickly. 'I shout in frustration' seems a bit lazy, (although I liked the response!) and then the very blunt way you say that the legs are like jelly just seems less visual and interesting than earlier writing in the piece. Great idea, though, and I think it was just the pressure to sew it up fast that made that last section not quite so good IMO.

Author's Reply:
Blimey the comment is longer than the story πŸ™‚ Thanks Bluep - it is lazy writing as I had another 100 words to play around with and I wrapped it up too quickly - its always nice to get critical comments - thank you thank you thank you

Rupe on 19-08-2009
Mr Grays Anatomy
Really good idea & works well up to the point bluepootle specifies. The ending is a bit too obvious. One possibility might be to have him trying to walk off using the remaining bones but find they don't do the job. Or something.

Rupe

Author's Reply:
cheers Rupe - sorry about the later reply - yep it seems to be showing - my challenge entries are often rushed and holes are starting to appear - i might try write one earlier on in the week and change it over the week to see if I can add a bit more polish πŸ™‚


Harry Grew Crystals (posted on: 03-08-09)
Since I am banned from this weeks competition I am putting my entry here to drum up trade - the word is HOT

Harry grew gala melons in the summer. They were in a strip at the back of his allotment surrounded by tinsel and old Christmas decorations set on bamboo sticks in the ground – the best thing to frighten the birds. His courgettes ran parallel and were never big enough to win anything in the village fete but were always 'highly commended' on account of their taste which was not a criteria for the competition. Harry took great pride in everything he planted and would often sit with his pipe and thermos in front of his shed and admire his work. From this vantage point he could plan his next vegetable or furrow and dream of maybe one day winning first prize. Harry's allotment was everything to him – it was all he had in the world, and all he ever wanted. It was midsummer, when the melons should be ready, that he noticed something decidedly odd. The melon lay in two halves on his kitchen table, and its flesh was the consistency of marmalade, but not because it was over-ripe or rotten. It had been freshly picked that morning but it was cooked like a butternut squash. Harry was on his knees with a trowel in his hand at the back of his allotment. There was a mound of steaming earth beside him. The ground was red hot. Harry was frantic. Harry was sweating and his hands were blistered from the exertion and the uncommon heat. He desperately needed to find the source, but the rumbling started, and he had the good sense to scramble out of his hole and run for cover. By late afternoon Harry's allotment was unrecognizable – red hot lava ran parallel with the courgettes and the tinsel and bamboo sticks were burnt to a crisp and there was a volcano where Harry's shed used to be. At the village fete the following year Harry won 'Best of Category' for his black obsidian and quartz crystals. Nobody could grow crystals like Harry could.
Archived comments for Harry Grew Crystals
sunken on 04-08-2009
Harry Grew Crystals
Hello Mr. Pombal. As you can imagine, I am a big fan of melons. Large ones, small ones, inbetween ones. They're all good. Why were you banned? Were you bad? It's easy to be bad where melons are concerned. They just have that kind of effect/affect (can never work that one out) on a fella. Anyway, whatever the reason, this is another fine slab of Pombal. Thank you. Hello?

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avoid eye area

Author's Reply:
hi sunks - cheers for keeping my story alive - I was banned from entering the comp cause I was the person with the egg last week and I cant vote for myself - shame really - Im all for a bit of onanism

Ionicus on 04-08-2009
Harry Grew Crystals
What gave you the impression that you are banned from entering your story because you won last week? It is allowed, if anything to gee up the competition, but the piece is excluded from the prize and anyway you are going to pick my entry, aren't you?
Good story BTW and I'm not trying to influence your decision.

Author's Reply:
Maybe I should say - Im not allowed to vote for myself. So I thought I would post the story on the main site to get a bit of interest in the comp. I do think there is a case for putting the comp on the main site tho - i.e. under the title "Weekly Challenge" next to latest 50 - it could be very cool ...

p.s any attempt at bribery will be looked at most favourably

shackleton on 05-08-2009
Harry Grew Crystals
Why would anyone ban you? This is a perfectly valid piece, so it is, to be sure, so they said, that it was.

I grow red and white(ish) onions... buI i can't grow black ones. Can Harry grow black ones? Can he provide me with a few bulbs for next year's crop.

Funny story, young man. Enjoyed your humorous insight. Bye for now.

Author's Reply:
Cheers shackleton for visiting - I especially like the young man comment πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

macaby on 07-08-2009
Harry Grew Crystals
Good piece of flash fiction pombal, entertaining, offbeat and funny.
mac

Author's Reply:
cheers Mac - you taking part in next weeks challenge ? Im going SciFi like Mandrake ...


Mort (posted on: 31-07-09)
Check out this weeks challenge - its already starting to get a little HOT under the collar ...

DEATH was sifting through the photographs. ''No …No … No …No ...Maybe ...'' He picked up a Polaroid – a portrait of a guy with a beard and a black fedora. DEATH shivered. The guy in the picture was gurning. ''No respect.'' said DEATH, and placed the photograph in the pile marked 'Yes'.
Archived comments for Mort
sunken on 31-07-2009
Mort
Hello Mr. Pom of Bal fame. It's me, sunks. Isn't it inclement for the time of year? I've a good mind to put an unfashionable cardigan on. I realise that this has little to do with your excellent piece and for this I apologise. I blame the following for this crap comment - A disappointing encounter with a stale sausage roll, a girl who said she would be then subsequently didn't and, of course, turnips. I trust this has helped and that together we can face a brighter and more prosperous future. Thank you.

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he made it thru the rain with a determination seemingly fuelled by oxo cubes.

Author's Reply:
Hi sunks - you should try not to gurn when the girl says I will - it will put her off your turnips and stale sausage roll for good πŸ™‚

Ionicus on 31-07-2009
Mort
Good one Pombal. Very original.

Author's Reply:
Cheers Luigi - step into the challenge arena - its already starting to look very interesting ...

macaby on 31-07-2009
Mort
Yes, I think these gurners would even frighten death. I have always thought that " gurning" is digusting. I liked this pombal, short but I had a really nasty image in my head after reading, no not death.
Well done
mac

Author's Reply:
cheers Mac - it would be cool to see you in the challenge - I think I am a bit young and innocent for how its turning out tho ...

shackleton on 01-08-2009
Mort
Cor blimey, that's a scary concept. The gurning, I mean... not death. Enjoyed your poem. Good insight!

Author's Reply:
Cheers shackleton - I hope when my photo comes up ill be pulling the finger or doing a moon ...

allieuk on 01-08-2009
Mort
I will always see DEATH as a skeleton riding a horse named Binky πŸ™‚ You gotta have respect πŸ™‚ I liked it.

Author's Reply:
you get it! why does nobody else get it? or is it just too obvious and nobody needs to mention it? or is it an unmentionable person on a writers site?

allieuk on 01-08-2009
Mort
Well, DEATH being in capitals was what did it for me, I don't know about anyone else...I am a fan, but I have been known to state the obvious from time to time...

As for unmentionable, well, as a writer, if I could write that well, be that funny, imaginative, brilliant, and successful, I'd be extremely happy πŸ™‚

Author's Reply:
I know - kinda doing what he wants to do and being paid for it - lucky guy - shame about his illness πŸ™

allieuk on 01-08-2009
Mort
ps. In so few words, you captured the character rather brilliantly πŸ™‚

Author's Reply:
cheers Allie - fancy having a go at this weeks challenge?

Andrea on 01-08-2009
Mort
Yeah, loved this one Pom πŸ™‚

Author's Reply:
Thank you Andrea πŸ™‚

Bradene on 02-08-2009
Mort
Hi Pom, Well, I loved this little gem, it just tickled my fancy, even though it was dark, it wasn't disturbing it reminded me of the sort of stuff Rould Dahl would have come up with. A sure fire winner in my Opinion. Val

Author's Reply:
Thank you for my egg Val πŸ™‚ - a much prized possession ...


The Cleaner (posted on: 24-07-09)
about a guy cleaning a flat ....

There were smudges on the bathroom mirror and it annoyed him that there was so much to do. He wiped them off with a bathroom towel and folded it neatly and placed it on the towel rail and stood back to see if it was centered correctly. The shower curtain was closed, and the bathroom mat was put in line with the bath, and the white robe was picked up from the floor and hung on the peg behind the door. The kitchen was a mess, but he purposely avoided the dishwasher - washing each plate and piece of cutlery separately and drying them with a fresh dishcloth before placing them back into the cabinet. The flowers were re-arranged in the Blenko vase on the dining room table and the spilled water replaced from the kitchen tap. He picked up the clothes from the bedroom floor and separated the colours and whites, and placed the whites in the washing machine on a hot wash, and piled the colours into the washing basket for cleaning later. The apartment had parquet flooring throughout. He turned the dial on the combi-boiler to maximum and filled a bucket with the steaming water and added a small amount of bleach. He could feel the heat through his marigolds as he dipped a dishcloth into the water. He scrubbed the floors so hard the varnish flaked off into the cloth. He scrubbed the furniture. He scrubbed the walls. He stopped mid-way to tumble dry the whites and put on a coloured wash – forgetting about the hot setting. It took him three hours. The colours ran red – but he didn't check. Finally the apartment was clean. He poured the dirty water from the bucket down the toilet and flushed the chain. His marigolds came off with a pop. He took out a handkerchief from his pocket and placed it over the gun. He put the gun back in the drawer, and he spoke calmly under his breath as he slowly pushed it closed. ''She knew the rules.'' he said.
Archived comments for The Cleaner
Ionicus on 24-07-2009
The Cleaner
Don't you worry pombal, CSI will find him out. They won't be fooled by all that cleaning and polishing!
I enjoyed your little tale the first time round in the Forum and I re-read here it with pleasure. Well done.

Author's Reply:
Cheers Luigi - don't think I would make much of a crim - too messy - I'd just leave dirty socks and underpants all over the crim scene ...

sunken on 25-07-2009
The Cleaner
An excellent piece of flash, Mr. Pom. I believe the best way to dispose of a body is to leave it outside your house and phone the council to come and pick it up. They're not quick. An interesting piece that's also fun. Please feel free to report me if this comment has offended you in any way. Hello?

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Author's Reply:
A bernard! A bernard! A bernard! Brilliant cheers sunks. Make sure the clothes are put in another bin if you are going to dispose in organic waste - synthetic fibres can take hundreds of years to biodegrade ...

macaby on 25-07-2009
The Cleaner
When I read the heading... the cleaner.. about a guy cleaning a flat , I immediately thought of Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction, then I thought I was off track, I thought maybe it is just about a cleaner after all till the last few lines. Yes you had me fooled, enjoyable story.
mac

Author's Reply:
double bluff - excellent - I thought the title may give a few too many hints - Cheers Mac

Crackers on 25-07-2009
The Cleaner
Very nice

Author's Reply:
cheers crackers

discopants on 25-07-2009
The Cleaner
I thought of the Harvey Keitel character in Pulp Fiction from the off too. She should have just followed the rules...

Author's Reply:
Hi Discopants - I changed the title - it makes it far more sinister -- Cheers Chris - ...I thought about it and changed it back ...

sunken on 25-07-2009
The Cleaner
Thanks for the information regarding body disposal, Mr. Pombal. Much appreciated. Hello?

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batting for tesco

Author's Reply:
im sure there are easier ways sunks - now if you had a pet pig ....

Mezzanotte on 26-07-2009
The Cleaner
I thought it was about a guy with OCD. I recognised some of the behaviour...well except for murder...haha

Very good flash
well done

Jack

Author's Reply:
A guy with OCD could make a very good murderer - its a perfect character for one of those american detective series ... πŸ™‚ mmmmmm

Ania on 26-07-2009
The Cleaner
Good stuff. Didn't see the end coming! I guess she didn't either!

Ania

Author's Reply:
Cheers Ania - try the challenges - they're fun and help get the creative juices flowing ...


On Safari (posted on: 20-07-09)
done for last weeks challenge which was controversial but not because of anything anybody wrote

The thompsons gazelle was drinking a martini - through a straw – and yawning in conversation. The hyena chuckled and crunched peanuts whole in their shell from the bowl and eyed gazelle as she droned on. The vultures were hanging around, as they do, and waiting for the opportunity - their bald heads bobbing with anticipation. A single malt sat in a tumbler with ice already melted for the old rhino in the corner - untouched and a prop to reserve a place by the watering hole. I had my .416 Weatherby on the table beside me – it was ready and cleaned so it wouldn't jam - and I was waiting for the lion. And, sure enough, the lion burst trough the swinging doors and roared so loud the dust fell off the rafters. ''I AM THE LION – HEAR ME ROAR! - ROOOOOAAAAAAAARRRRRRR!'' The gazelle jumped from her seat. The vultures shrieked and cackled. The hyena choked and spluttered on the peanuts. And the rhino nervously gulped down his drink. ''I AM THE LION – ROOOOOAAAAAAAARRRRRRR! – ROOOOOAAAAAAAARRRRRRR! – ROOOOOAAAAAAAARRRRRRR!'' The elephant gun felt smooth and sure and powerful in my hands and I pulled the trigger without blinking. KAAAAABBLOOOOOOM!!! And I got him square between the eyes. ''THE DRINKS ARE ON ME!'', I said.
Archived comments for On Safari
sunken on 23-07-2009
On Safari
Hello Mr. Pombal. This is definitely a fun piece and no mistake. Oh fuck. I said 'fun'. The ending reminds me a film I once saw in which this kung fu bloke did all these fancy moves whilst his opponent stood at a bar drinking beer. When he'd finished kung fu-ing said bloke at the bar simply drew out his gun and shot the fucker. Made me laugh anyway. Ahem. Hello? Oh it's no good Pombal. I'm just not advanced or clever enough to comment. What's a sunk to do? Isn't it sunny? Thanks.

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inventor of the beer plug
*read instructions carefully before inserting into penis

Author's Reply:
its sunny where i live sunks πŸ™‚ heard a funny story last night - kylies arse isnt kylies arse - it had knickers on which were airbrushed out - she sued a lot of people - keep and cherish that picture πŸ™‚

sunken on 25-07-2009
On Safari
Ya know, Mr. Pom of bal fame, I had a feeling it wasn't really Kylie's arse. It's just not the kinda thing she'd do. I shall cherish said picture all the same. It's good to dream. Thank you for confirming my suspicions with regard to this matter. Hello?

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he wouldn't mind, but he wasn't even there

Author's Reply:


Space Oddity (posted on: 20-07-09)
another challenge piece - they're good because you can post something mid-week ...

The man who owns an orchard was trying to knock me down from 65 to 30. "Its a loss leader as it is" , I say, "two guys in a van, and at least 3 hours - I'm not going to bargain with you." "No deal then." "Fair enough." I say. Two months ago - before the sun started shining - I was more down to earth - I would've taken anything. But tonight I'm barefoot on the moon - the sand tickling my toes - and I can bound away in great loping strides in the one tenth gravity.
Archived comments for Space Oddity
sunken on 20-07-2009
Space Oddity
Aahhh yes. It's as odd today as it was two weeks ago. It appealed to me then and it appeals to me now. Has it been shortened? It may just seem shorter here... How very odd. Hello? Oh, it's me by the way - sunks. Well done my good fellow. The beagle named Bernard, he say 'woof'.

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Author's Reply:
cheers sunks - a bernard is a rare beast - I shall stuff it and put it on my mantle ...


The Mugger (posted on: 13-07-09)
I felt this evening was a turning point in our marriage, we were happy with wine, and agreed on so many things, and rather than ruin a good night, I took charge - as only a gentleman can do ...

My wallet, which was black leather with the logo of Louis Vuitton embossed on the front, contained a few business cards, some credit cards, a couple of large bills, and a single receipt detailing a guilty pleasure. We'd eaten a good meal - one of the best - but it was a Saturday and the restaurant was busy and the bill was taking an uncomfortable amount of time. My wallet was on the table as a reminder to the waiter that we wanted to pay. I felt this evening was a turning point in our marriage, we were happy from the wine, and agreed on so many things, and rather than ruin a good night, I took charge - as only a gentleman can do - and walked over to the hosting stand. When I got back, my wallet had gone, and there was an empty chair where my wife was seated - she had obviously taken the opportunity and paid the waiter when she could. This was typical of her - so many of our arguments were about the equality of the sexes - but tonight it didn't seem to bother me - we'd come to an understanding. I left the restaurant and walked to our car - smiling. "Sir! Sir! - You haven't paid ...", said the waiter, running after me. "But my wife?" "She left this on the table for you.", said the waiter, and handed me a receipt. I took it from him, but I didn't need the glow from the streetlights or the restaurant door to understand which receipt it was.
Archived comments for The Mugger
Mezzanotte on 13-07-2009
The Mugger
Hey, what a brilliant idea, and executed so well with so few words...what guilty secret was the receipt for? I'm having a dull day and my poor little imagination can't arrive there...something sexy?

Best wishes
Jackie

Author's Reply:
Hi Jackie - I kind of thought it depends on how nasty the guy is and yes I was thinking of some sort of sexual encounter i.e. in order of sin - brothel, massage parlour, strip bar, evidence of an affair, sex toy, underwear, ferrari ....

Ionicus on 13-07-2009
The Mugger
The moral is: never leave compromising receipts in your wallet. But why did he keep it? Was he going to claim back the tax?
Never mind, a nice and well told anecdote.

Author's Reply:
Hi Luigi - it happened to a friend of mine once (not me - this is not a story about me) - he went to an establishment in soho, and his girlfriend (EX) found the receipt in his pocket ....

SugarMama34 on 14-07-2009
The Mugger
Hey Pom! Long time no see huh!! Good little story you have here and well told in so few words. A meaningful tale with a hard hitting message woven inbetween the lines, if your gonna play with fire be prepared to get your fingers burnt! or so the saying goes. I liked the ending too, although i did expect it in some way, but still found it a surprise in a way. I think it was because of the way you had written it. The last four lines say so much in so few words and I enjoyed that. It gave me a smile of satisfaction...

Sugar. xx

Author's Reply:
Hi Sugar - good to speak to you again πŸ™‚ - Ill try and be around some more ....kids OK?

Sunken on 14-07-2009
The Mugger
Hello Mr. Pombal. It's me, sunks. This is the problem now with some massage parlours. You can actually pay with your debit card, so it means there's a paper trail to your shenanigans. I blame market forces and technological advances. Ahem. Not that I speak from experience you understand... Hello? Isn't it warm?

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in case of emergency - run like hell

Author's Reply:
Hey Sunks - very soon you might be able to pay with the mobile phone - might run out of credit very quickly ....


Someone came and stole my brain (posted on: 03-07-09)
kind of silly - but its a start I guess

Someone came and stole my brain while I was sleeping. I woke up and it was gone. I could do many things with it - I could walk and talk and say clever stuff - but not any more. Now I just sit and stare at the door and wait for the guy who stole it to come back and say it was all a joke. But this collector of brains is long gone. It's probably in a sack, piled up with others, in a corner of some room, with an address label, and maybe some comment about the owner. "Spent too much time dreaming - not for daytime use."
Archived comments for Someone came and stole my brain
artisus on 03-07-2009
Someone came and stole my brain
almost prosetry is what you have here, a very very good piece! glad to see you posting something so interesting pombal.

cheers

Author's Reply:
Cheers artisus - cool to see you're still around ...

Andrea on 03-07-2009
Someone came and stole my brain
This is nice - I like it. Great to see you back and posting again.

Author's Reply:
Thank you andrea πŸ™‚ - I miss the site and all the guys on it a lot

Bradene on 03-07-2009
Someone came and stole my brain
Ditto all the above, especially the part about you posting again, i've missed the imp. Val x

Author's Reply:
Hi val - imp will be back in the sink soon πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Sunken on 03-07-2009
Someone came and stole my brain
There you are! I've also missed Imp. Artisus hit the nail on the head with her comment about it being kinda prosetry. A neat piece with a very neat ending. Good to see you back.

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annie get your hands off

Author's Reply:
Hiya sunks - got a bit busy for me - started an aircon company in the middle of a recession and imp suffered - but will try harder to keep imp in the sink sunk ...

macaby on 05-07-2009
Someone came and stole my brain
I liked this, interesting story. The end lines , yes I know the feeling.

Author's Reply:
cheers macaby πŸ™‚

Albermund on 05-07-2009
Someone came and stole my brain
I have to agree with you pombal. This is pretty daft. Just can't get my head round the point of it at all. Albert πŸ™

Author's Reply:
yep - not very literal - its hard to know where to go in flash fiction - and sometimes it can turn out to be a bit nonsensical ...Im not too sure of whether there are any rules to this format other than the wordcount - love to know if there are ....


Sharing Pretzels (posted on: 25-08-08)
My submission to andrea's flash/poetry challenge last week - called FROGS - this week its called ENERGY if you fancy having a go πŸ™‚

I suppose I was tired. Out of the corner of my eye this guys tongue came out of his mouth and into the bowl and picked up a pretzel - I just couldn't believe it. "That's not the way to behave." I said, and I stared directly at him. He didn't even bat an eyelid. He was the ugliest guy I'd ever seen, and it was very unappealing to see him licking the pretzels - they were on the bar to share. "How disgusting." I said. He didn't care - full on, bold as brass, his tongue darted out again, slap in the middle of the bowl, and retracted back with a pretzel. "Come on!" I said, "What's your problem?" He focused on me. God he was ugly. "Ribbit." he said.
Archived comments for Sharing Pretzels
Andrea on 25-08-2008
Sharing Pretzels
*falls off chair again*

Author's Reply:
thank you again for the egg Andrea πŸ™‚ - hope you didnt bruise yourself ...

SugarMama34 on 25-08-2008
Sharing Pretzels
Lol, Pombal. What an interesting and funny read. I enjoyed this from the moment I began reading it until the very end, which I loved!! Great way to end it and loved the imagery too. Fab stuff hun.

Sugar. xx

Author's Reply:
Cheers Sugar - only short - but I was eating pretzels at the time ...

sirat on 26-08-2008
Sharing Pretzels
A fine piece of work, apart from the unacceptable implication that frogs are ugly. I would attribute the ugliness in this case to his clearly incomplete metamorphisis into a prince. Imagine a large amphibian with Prince Charles' ears, for example.

Author's Reply:
Cheers David - thank you for reading - I agree - not all frogs are ugly - I very much fancy Mrs Bruni - but then she's Italian and her husband eats pretzels πŸ™‚

Bradene on 26-08-2008
Sharing Pretzels
You really have a gift for this hilaious kind of flash pom. Great piece. Val

Author's Reply:

Bradene on 26-08-2008
Sharing Pretzels
I meant Hilarious of course *blushes* Val

Author's Reply:
you're making me *blush* too Val πŸ™‚ - thank you xx

Sunken on 26-08-2008
Sharing Pretzels
A tip top piece without an Imp in sight? What's going on? Well done on the nib and the nom, Mr. Pombal.

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so she pressed 'c' for comfort

Author's Reply:
such a pleasure to c you again sunks - Imp is not allowed in flash form anymore - so I've resorted to writing about poletads ...

Albermund on 26-08-2008
Sharing Pretzels
Bloody brilliant! Albert :))

Author's Reply:
Cheers Albert πŸ™‚

Doughnut on 29-08-2008
Sharing Pretzels
And I bet frogs find us ugly too! That's why they turn their backs and hop away. Great stuff. Duncan

Author's Reply:
Hey Duncan - sorry about the late reply - cheers for the read and comment πŸ™‚


Not Available (posted on: 18-08-08)
My apologies for not being around for a while. I have decided to turn the Imp character into something a bit longer and possibly more commercial. My aim is to get 25k words. Any help/observations will be much appreciated. This is a draft of the first 3 short chapters.


Archived comments for Not Available
Doughnut on 19-08-2008
The Imp in the Sink - UKAWANIAY 2
This holds the attention, even as a draft! I take it you are going for both a grown-up and a child readership? My only suggestion is that you might try to imbue imp with some characteristic which clearly sets him apart from previous charcters, such as the gremlins. Duncan

Author's Reply:
Hi duncan- cheers for reading - yes but aimed at children - maybe not quite a first draft as I took elements from other stories written for the weekly challenges (have you tried them yet - they are great fun :)) - my intention is indeed to give imp some impitess in the following chapters ... Cheers Chris

Sunken on 19-08-2008
The Imp in the Sink - UKAWANIAY 2
Pombal! You're back! I thought I'd never see Imp again. As you know, I am a fan. I think the Imp stories work really well. I am a bit worried though. I have hairy toes (my big toes especially). Does this mean I'm part Imp? I once hung a piece of modern art upside-down too. But surely that's excusable? Anyway, good to see you back. Good luck with all Imp related stuff.

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he might shave his toes later

Author's Reply:
Hi Sunks πŸ™‚ I decided to turn imp into a childrens novel, but lost my hairy balls along the way and was putting it off.
Hairy toes is a worrying sign, as you might have some impish dna - are your teeth pointy and do your ears wiggle when you hear dogs baking? And shaving your toes will not get rid of the dna - you have to uncoil the helix and pick it out one teeny bit at a time ...

teifii on 22-08-2008
The Imp in the Sink - UKAWANIAY 2
I'm always glad to meet Imp. And very glad you are organising him into a book. I reckon he should do well.
Daff

Author's Reply:
thank you so much for your support daff πŸ™‚ Its a scary thing to start a longer piece πŸ™


The Imp and the Absinthe (posted on: 04-07-08)
The one where Imp cuts off Vincent Van Goghs ear ...

Imp likes flowers. They are pretty and smell nice and make the baldfoot smile and sometimes cry with joy. Imp likes flowers very much – imp likes them with green jam the best – not only is it nourishing for an imp but there is nothing better than watching a baldfoot cry out in hysterics when they discover the leftover stalks. Flower heads and jam are very tasty to an imp. Imp is swaying in front of a vase of yellow sunflowers - drooling and grinning and panting from the exertion. The knife, as large as a sword in imp's hairy hand, glints in the light of the starry starry night shining through the window. Imp swings to lop off a flower head for breakfast and misses and twirls and flops off onto the floor. The knife clatters away. Imp is drunk, and imps drink, and imps are never usually drunk, but the bottle of green liquid which imp drunk was not jam. The bottle of absinthe in still life and glass stand empty on the table in the corner of the room. Imp staggers over to pick up the knife and knocks the table and the bottle topples and tumbles and crashes into pieces. Drunks, even drunks who are imps, make the kind of noise which is impossible to ignore. The eye popping, jaw dropping, redheaded baldfoot - who is mad in so many more ways than one - bursts into the room. Light streams in and catches imp with the knife raised above imps hairy head swirling and ready to chop off a sunflower head. ''AAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHH! '' The baldfoot dives … imp slices down with the knife …the baldfoot lands …and …SQUISH! … the knife clatters away again ...and imp is crushed. The redheaded baldfoot screams in pain, holding the side of his red head where his ear should have been. Imp is extinct, but imp would not have had it any other way. The baldfoot's left ear lies limp by the knife on the floor, and the yellow sunflowers stand untouched in the only piece of china that is not broken in the whole of the yellow house.
Archived comments for The Imp and the Absinthe
artisus on 04-07-2008
The Imp and the Absinthe
Excellent story pombal.

Author's Reply:
Thank you so much Nic for chosing an Imp as one of your favourites - and the rating too πŸ™‚ - I know they're childrens stories but they take just as long to write as my other stuff - so I think just as valid πŸ™‚

Bradene on 04-07-2008
The Imp and the Absinthe
I just love that imp, great story Pom Val x

Author's Reply:
Thank you Val πŸ™‚ - good to be back in the challenges πŸ™‚

Rupe on 04-07-2008
The Imp and the Absinthe
Curious... There's a kind of insane but offhand over-the-topness to this which works well. Does (did?) imp speak - would be good to hear him.

I can't decide whether the repeated buts in para 5 are good or bad though.

Rupe

Author's Reply:
Hi Rupe - cheers for reading.



I'm glad you picked up on the 2 buts - they were annoying me too - but if I put an 'and' instead of the first 'but' it doesn't seem to work - and if I put a 'though' or something else instead of the second 'but' it seems contrived as if I was avoiding two 'buts'.



These Imp tales are done according to a few rules:



1. Imp dies

2. Imp destroys

3. Imp has no gender

4. Imp is mute

5. Imp is hairy

6. Imp works at night



πŸ™‚



Cheers



Chris

update: and works betterer

Sunken on 04-07-2008
The Imp and the Absinthe
Hello Mr. Pombal. As you know, I is loving the Imp stories. Kids will love em. How do I know this? Because I is a big kid myself. Top stuff. Very enjoyable and no mistake.

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now available in pine

Author's Reply:
it's always a pleasure to have you in imps domain sunks πŸ™‚ - to make sure an imp is not under your bed at night cut the legs short so there is only a few inches from bed to floor - otherwise imp will grab your feet while you're asleep ...

orangedream on 05-07-2008
The Imp and the Absinthe
As you know, Pombal - loved this when you posted it in the weekly challenge. Many congrats to you and that impish Imp of yours on the well deserved nib:-)

Tina

Author's Reply:
Thank you Tina - I really do like the challenges - they give me a deadline which help me write more. Imp only uses a quill to write with, but he may use the nib to stab a few holes in things ....

SugarMama34 on 11-07-2008
The Imp and the Absinthe
Hey Pom,

long time no speak or even read come to that. Sorry, I've been up to my neck here with 6 puppies! 3 left, one goes tomorrow. Anyway I liked the imagery in this like green jam and abscinth, that made me laugh. Imp is a wicked one isn't he! I loved the story too, great imagination and I like the pace as I read it. The only thing that stands out to me though is the word 'imp' being used so many times. I wondered if the odd 'he' could be used to break it up a little bit. Just my ickle opinion so take it with a spponful of green jam. Hope my comments help.

Sugar. xx

Author's Reply:
Hi Sugar

Pleasure to hear from you again πŸ™‚ - I'm glad you picked up on the amount of Imps - it's something that is bothering me too. As an explanation - I am consciously trying to avoid using 'he' (or 'she') as one of my rules for the imp tales is that imp has no gender so all references to imp are done in the third-person - (although the reader assumes imp's a he). Illeism is often used by children and in things like cartoons so I thought I would try it out for Imp to make imp more cartoony and counter the violence ....but if it's jarring I might have to reconsider.... πŸ™

Cheers

Chris

teifii on 14-07-2008
The Imp and the Absinthe
I know I have already commented in the forum but just had to come and say agin how much I enjoyed it.
Daff

Author's Reply:
Cheers Daff πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

expat on 14-07-2008
The Imp and the Absinthe
I like surreal stuff like this. Imp remind expat of HarryPotter's Dobby the House Elf.
Dunno what you can do with it but it made me laugh.

:^-)
Steve

Author's Reply:
Hi Steve - cheers for visiting πŸ™‚ I'm going to work on turning the imp into a story - its missing a few basic ingredients .....


Not Available (posted on: 13-06-08)
The one where imp takes out Julius Caesar - a weekly challenge submission on the subject of 'Murder' ...

...
Archived comments for Not Available
Romany on 13-06-2008
Beware the Imps in March Said the Sayer
This is quirky! The Romans certainly had gods aplent, and their fair share of superstitions - don't know about imps though! A light hearted write.

Small niggles - I think perhaps you repeat 'imps' too many times and you need an apostrophe here -

"too close to imps gnashing ..." - imp's

Not sure the idea of Ceasar and Ancient Rome truly marries well with Imps but hey, why not? They have to exist somewhere, right? And old Julius did take his eye off the ball...

Romany.


Author's Reply:
Hi romany - thank you so much for reading and commenting. This is one of a series of imp stories where imp is placed in a different historical or literary circumstance - it is a character that is slowly evolving according to rules I invent and it is not relevant to the traditional german imp. One of my rules is that I have made imp genderless thats why there are so many 'imps' instead of hes around, another one is that imp dies everytime, imp is hairy, imp has no dialogue, imp has a conscience ...

Sunken on 14-06-2008
Beware the Imps in March Said the Sayer
Hello Mr. Pombal. Always a pleasure to read the further adventures of Imp. I'm starting to believe that he actually exists. Should I be worried?

s
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shapes that pass in the light

Author's Reply:
hi sunks - excellent to see you here again πŸ™‚ Imp is based on my 6 month old son (but hes not so hairy) who doesnt sleep and destroys things ...so he does exist unfortunately πŸ™‚


Not Available (posted on: 06-06-08)
The one where imp creates vitruvian man and crashes the only model of an ornithopter.

...
Archived comments for Not Available
orangedream on 06-06-2008
The Imp and the Ornithopter
This is indeed one of my favourites, of the infamous Imp sagas.

I just love the ending (and the rest, of course);-) Seriously had me in stitches!!

Tina

Author's Reply:
thank you tina - I know imp dies but he still has by my reckoning 996 lives left πŸ™‚

Sunken on 07-06-2008
The Imp and the Ornithopter
These are excellent, Mr. Pombal. I like how they get straight in there, no messing. I could see all of these in a book. I reckons you is on to something and no mistake. Definitely deserves more attention.

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frey bentos

Author's Reply:
Thanks for visiting Sunks πŸ™‚ Imps may not get many hits but imps gets hit by quality hits. Make sure you hoover up any fluff in the corners of your abode before you go to sleep - otherwise you might wake up with your sofa nailed to the ceiling ...

artisus on 07-06-2008
The Imp and the Ornithopter
very original, cool f/prose. will you write something for the word MURDER?

Author's Reply:

pombal on 07-06-2008
The Imp and the Ornithopter
hi nic - yes imp will be implicated in a murder next week ... πŸ™‚

Author's Reply:

artisus on 07-06-2008
The Imp and the Ornithopter
cool! πŸ˜€

Author's Reply:


Not Available (posted on: 30-05-08)
In this one imp tears up the picture of Dorian Gray and gets killed by his other self ...

...
Archived comments for Not Available
artisus on 30-05-2008
The Parallel Impiverse
Pombal, it's a very interesting story, well done.

Author's Reply:
cheers nic - good to hear from you - hows the abstract?

Sunken on 31-05-2008
The Parallel Impiverse
Great stuff, Mr. Pom. It's slightly off its head, but that's a good thang. Have you thought of illustrating this imp creature? I'm imagining something resembling a clump of hair that you might pull from the plughole of a bath. Am I being too harsh? Enjoyed very much and no mistake.

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sold to the man with a bad haircut

Author's Reply:
always a pleasure to hear from you sunk - now you mention it one of imps misadventures will be called "Ink in the Sink" where he hides in the plughole and the top of his head is mistaken for just that clump of hair you are talking about ...


One Green Bottle (posted on: 23-05-08)
I think I still have a problem with commas

I'm drunk again. I'm having problems talking. It's all clear what I have to say, but she's just looking at me, bemused, half smiling, and embarrassed. I have to save myself and her from this situation. "I'm not quite sure you understand.." "I understand." He says, and he's laughing slightly, for her benefit. It's a game he's playing, and of course he's winning, he's sober, his eyes are bright, and I can see his pupils dilate as he looks at her. She's flushed from the attention. "Perhaps we should go." she says. "But I haven't finished." My drink is somewhere on the table, it's a bottle, but it's not the only bottle on the table, and the rest are empty, and I can't tell which was the last one I put down. "Please." she says. I have to be methodical, it's a process of elimination, the first one will be at the back, the next by the side, so the four in the front may decrease the odds for me. A one in four chance, and there may be other clues, or I could just go for those odds and pick one at random. I have no choice - he expects me to lose, and she wants me to go, maybe to be alone with him, and I can't let that happen. "There's no need. I know what you're saying Ray, but it's all a matter of consequence." I pick a bottle second from the right, bring it up to my lips, and put my head back. Smooth as you like. ... Only it's empty, it's fucking empty, and he knows. He's won, he's triumphant, but he can't win, I need her, all he wants is a trophy, and she can't see it. "Please, just let's go." she says. I need to save us. I can't let it end like this, on the throw of a dice, it's just too cruel. "Maybe you should go. Maybe you should just go. Maybe you don't understand." She's not smiling anymore. She's visibly upset. "Fine... suit yourself." She looks at me expectantly, as If I should say something. I say nothing, I'm a blank canvas. She's the diversion. "Don't call me." and she turns and Ray watches as she walks away. I quickly switch bottles, and I can feel this one's full, and nobody knows, and I've won. "What did you do that for?" says Ray. You know Ray. You know. "It's your round Ray." I say.
Archived comments for One Green Bottle
e-griff on 23-05-2008
One Green Bottle
well, not enough commas in some places!

with speech, there are some conventions. I note you have variable versions ...

examples of how it's done:

He said, 'You are a scoundrel.'

'You are a scoundrel,' he said.

'You are a scoundrel!' he said.

'You are a scoundrel.' He looked angry. (no 'said' verb)

it's simple, really πŸ™‚ once you know.

Author's Reply:
cheers for the lesson griff πŸ™‚

artisus on 23-05-2008
One Green Bottle
very interesting. hmm. maybe i can rewrite it or write a response. an abstract prosetry response. πŸ™‚

Author's Reply:
artisus - I would love it if you did πŸ™‚


not available (posted on: 19-05-08)
imp is back from the wilderness ....

...
Archived comments for not available
SugarMama34 on 19-05-2008
The Imp in the Drink
Tell the imp to shift his butt back here, Pombal. He needs to get a Tuesday alarm to make it here in time.

Lis'. xx

Author's Reply:
imp time is different, imp days of the week are wednesday, thursday, friday and impday πŸ™‚

eddiesolo on 19-05-2008
The Imp in the Drink
Imptastic!

Si:-)

Author's Reply:
imp is not tastic imp is furry ....

SugarMama34 on 19-05-2008
The Imp in the Drink
I guess the little folk all have different times. Gretchen, my goblin, has a trickday, jestday, jokeday and a legitday!
If your imp doesn't appear soon, Gretchen may catch up with him and drag him back here, lol.

Lis'. xx

Author's Reply:
imp has been banned until impday - but imp WLTM Gretchen ...

Macjoyce on 19-05-2008
The Imp in the Drink
I think you've thrown him into the River Elf, in a bag with a few bricks.


Author's Reply:
imp dissolves in water ...

SugarMama34 on 19-05-2008
Imp in the Drink
Pom - What's WLTM? lol.

Author's Reply:
imp 153 yrs, hairy ears, curly toes, likes eating out, would like to meet, troll or similar ....

SugarMama34 on 19-05-2008
Imp in the Drink
Gretchen - is 145 yrs. Likes the colour green, small brown eyes, pointy ears and enjoys playing tricks on people. Looking for a trickster who likes pet beetles.

Author's Reply:

SugarMama34 on 19-05-2008
Imp in the Drink
Oops, Gretchen isn't pleased with me, I forgot one vital thing! Hairy toes is a must!!

Author's Reply:

artisus on 23-05-2008
Imp in the Drink
pombal I like your story very very much, but i find the following quite odd : "and the only sign that imp had ever been thirsty were the screams of the baldfeet"



Author's Reply:
Hi artisus - cheers for liking imp πŸ™‚ - the baldfeet are the humans whose houses imp infests - imp has hairy feet and they have bald feet - they are screaming cause imp ransacked their house which is the only sign imp ever existed cause imp dissolved in their water πŸ™

artisus on 23-05-2008
Imp in the Drink
oops, I meant NINE !!! πŸ™

Author's Reply:


Senhor Manteiga's Fields Of Green (posted on: 12-05-08)
Again another one from the weekly flash challenge. I put this on another website and it got 14 reads in a week - so I guess nobody wants to read about sheep....

"One day the hill will be covered with green grass, my sheep will grow fat, and you will never moan at me again. We will be rich, and I will have done nothing but watch the grass grow." Said Senhor Manteiga to his wife. "Where's my lamb in the oven, where's the mutton in my belly - I'll tell you where - your sheep are so scrawny they are not worth anything, and still we cannot afford to eat them. We are so poor and yet you do nothing about it! You are lazy, my mother said you were lazy, she always said…'' He was out the house and half way up the hill and still her shrill voice reached him on the wind. The sheep baa'd, as if in agreement, as they pulled on the thick tufts of grass in-between the towering agave stems. It was going to be a long and hot summer, and Senhor Manteiga was not looking forward to getting home each night. Each morning he would herd his flock up the hill to graze, and watch them as they got thinner and struggled to eat the dwindling grass in the midday heat. Each night he would walk wearily down the hill and know what he was getting for dinner, and know that it would not be served with love or admiration. One afternoon, in the middle of the summer, his prediction came true - a large yellow digger trundled over the hill, in a wonderful cloud of diesel fumes, and started digging. The workmen smothered the hill like termites for four months as the sheep watched and salivated in anticipation. At the end of four months, water burst up from the earth. ''You see – I told you so. They have made it rain from the ground. Soon my sheep will be fat…'' The grass grew green and lush, and for a while Senhor Manteiga's wife welcomed him home with a kiss and waved him goodbye with a smile. Until the estrangeiros arrived, and they put their fences up, and built their wedding cake villas. The sign was so large it had to be hoisted by crane – ''FORMOSA HILLS – Luxury Retirement Village''. The following year Senhor Manteiga's well ran dry, and each morning the estrangeiros took photographs and shouted ''Olα!'' at him and his scrawny sheep from their gardens of green grass.
Archived comments for Senhor Manteiga's Fields Of Green
e-griff on 12-05-2008
Senhor Manteigas Fields Of Green
commas! πŸ™‚

Author's Reply:
aaaaargh! Commas - what is with me and frigging commas!!

2nd edit - just read it - give us a hand griff - where are my misplacced commas?

artisus on 12-05-2008
Senhor Manteigas Fields Of Green
wives! blart. πŸ˜‰

Author's Reply:
I know - a bit of a charicature πŸ™‚

Bradene on 12-05-2008
Senhor Manteigas Fields Of Green
Still a cracking good story Val x

Author's Reply:
Cheers Val - I wish I had something new to post this week πŸ™

SugarMama34 on 12-05-2008
Senhor Manteigas Fields Of Green
Hey Pom,

Well I didn't notice the commas in this one. I liked the story, for me it wasn't over done and the imagery was just right too I could see it in my mind as I read it. Bit sad at the end though, those poor sheep (maybe he should move to Wales). Enjoyed the way it 's been written. Nice one.

Sugar. xx

Author's Reply:
Cheers Sugar - he used to live in wales πŸ˜‰

e-griff on 12-05-2008
Senhor Manteigas Fields Of Green
okay,

definito's - after nothing, Manteiga, morning, sheep

generally the 'oxford comma' can be justified in certain cases, but usually there is no comma before a conjunction (eg ',and') - I know it's a habit a lot of people have and I do allow it a lot when editing, but sometimes it's clearly incorrect .

The other use is for subordinate clauses (er, I think) which if removed, make no grammatic difference to the reading - ie from above: ',as if in agreement,' - however in modern writing such niceties are often omitted, provided the meaning is retained, for the sake of cleaner text. (!)

best JohnG πŸ™‚

Author's Reply:
OK - made the changes - and yes it scans a bit better - so cheers griff πŸ™‚

I do like my commas and conjunctions as I tend to write in lists and it helps to separate each item for the reader - probably my programming background - something I'll try and watch in future ....pesky things ....

e-griff on 12-05-2008
Senhor Manteigas Fields Of Green
the 'oxford comma' is allowed exactly because it makes things clearer in lists, ie: If you say 'I saw an owl, pig, cup and saucer' you may mean 'I saw an owl, pig, cup, and saucer' (ie the cup and saucer are not together as it appears from the first list)

Author's Reply:

teifii on 17-05-2008
Senhor Manteigas Fields Of Green
Sheep are much misunderstood.
As to commas with subordinate clauses; there is a comma before a non defining clause but no comma before a defining clause.
He spoke to my mother, who was hanging out the washing.
He spoke to the woman who was hanging out the washing.

Sorry. Couldn't resist after half a lifetime explaining that to Arabs etc.
PS That's not racist; there is something about Arabic that seems to result in the attitude, 'Better sprinkle some punctuation into this before submitting it to my EFL teacher.'

Author's Reply:
thank you teifii πŸ™‚


not available (posted on: 09-05-08)
My last entry to the weekly prose challenge. I didn't win, but that's not really the point to these challenges. They're usually fun and very good natured, and best of all they get me writing, comma's and all ....

...
Archived comments for not available
artisus on 09-05-2008
The Ink Imp


Author's Reply:

Bradene on 09-05-2008
The Ink Imp
I just loved this story, it was happy and sad all in one, I'm sure it would have been my winner. Val x

Author's Reply:
Thank you Val - I really enjoy the challenges - and I'm so sorry I missed yours - but it's been a bit hard to find the time to write anything recently - the outdoor season is just starting and my son has fire ants in his pants πŸ™‚

sirat on 09-05-2008
The Ink Imp
This has the feel of a good parable – human fear of the unfamiliar destroys our opportunity for great gain. My kind of story. Loved it.

Author's Reply:
Cheers David (and for the rating :))

Macjoyce on 09-05-2008
The Ink Imp
So that's what happened to all the goodiness in the world...

Like it Mr Pom, though why all the commas?


Author's Reply:
cheers mac - you too? - it doesn't work then - I was trying to slow the reading of the sleep line down to change the pace before the impact of the dialogue and finish - as I was limited with the amount of words I could use ...but sounds like it inteferes with the story

SugarMama34 on 09-05-2008
The Ink Imp
Hi pom, mate.

Liked the idea of the story and of the imagery. It's fun and wll give anyone a smile, even if they are having a bad day. ;0)
I did wonder about the commas too and not just saying it because Mac picked up on it, but it crossed my mind too as I read. I'm not an expert, as you well know, on punctuation and I've prob got a comma or two out of place here already, but for me it slowed the story and the pace down. I think it would work and flow betteryou took a few of them out. In saying that though I did enjoy this piece and I do tend to sway and enjoy stories that have a magical feel to them, which yours does. Nice one pombal.

Sugar. xx

Author's Reply:
excellent - good to see you back sugar πŸ™‚ - it's officially awkward - i'll change it tomorrow when I can get to my pc

pombal on 10-05-2008
The Ink Imp
OK - the commas were distracting - I took them out - cheers for the heads up guys πŸ™‚

Author's Reply:

orangedream on 10-05-2008
The Ink Imp
Just thoroughly enjoyed, commas or not!!:-)

It brightened my day and that has to be good. Thank you.

Tina

Author's Reply:
Thank you Tina - there could be a whole series "The Imp in the Sink", "The Imp in my Drink", "The Imp with a Limp", "The Missing Imp Link" .... πŸ™‚

Sunken on 11-05-2008
The Ink Imp
Hello Mr. Pombal. To be honest, I didn't notice the comma's. I think I tend to over-use them myself though, so that probably doesn't mean a lot. A smashing little story and no mistake.

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and don't forget the hillman imp

Author's Reply:
cheers sunks - if you've just read it then the commas have already gone awol - of course theres also " the gimp ink " - might interest the wolfman πŸ™‚


Diamonds (posted on: 21-03-08)
Very short - but I've been driving my white van, and it's hard to type and look at the road ...

We were having an argument. My clothes are on the road outside the flat. It's raining and there's no point in picking them up – they've been there for hours, and it's a busy road, and the motorists have been treating my cashmere sweaters and designer shirts like roadkill. I feel naked. The rain runs in rivulets down my face - it's relentless, I'm soaked through, and I'm starting to shiver. It's too late for being angry. I'm standing in the yellow glow of the street lights and I can hear the rustle of the red maple leaves from the trees that line the street and I'm looking up at the balcony - she's silhouetted against the window and I'm wondering how it's got so out of hand. ''What do you want from me?'' I shout. ''Diamonds.'' She shouts back.
Archived comments for Diamonds
sirat on 21-03-2008
Diamonds
An unusual and memorable piece. Not many women are as honest as that. Is her name Heather Mills by any chance?

Author's Reply:
:)) Cheers sirat - I'm sure Miss Mills can buy all the diamonds she wants now...

Drax on 21-03-2008
Diamonds
Nice and to the point. I few considered breaks here and there and this would be a credible poem.

Author's Reply:
Thank you for reading drax - I'm not too good at poems - welcome to UKA - and I look forward to reading some of your stuff in the future πŸ™‚

delph_ambi on 21-03-2008
Diamonds
Very good writing. Stylish.

Author's Reply:
thank you for reading delph and happy easter and I hope you get lots of chocolates:)

orangedream on 21-03-2008
Diamonds
A little gem and no mistake:-)

Tina

Author's Reply:
hahaha thank you orangedream πŸ™‚

thehaven on 21-03-2008
Diamonds
Nice piece straight tothe nitty gritty.

Author's Reply:
thank you thehaven - and all the best with your novel πŸ™‚

artisus on 21-03-2008
Diamonds
short, stylish, nice!

Author's Reply:
Hi artisus - thank you for reading - I'm trying to watch my tenses this time πŸ™‚

SugarMama34 on 21-03-2008
Diamonds
Hey pom!

Good imagery in this. Its short to the point and it works well. Loved the feelings of this bloke and had to laugh at the part where motorists have been treating his clothes like roadkill. A nice touch to it.

Lis'. xx

Author's Reply:
Hi Lis - I feel sometimes short pieces are a bit of a cop out for me - I'm sure if it was longer, holes would start appearing πŸ™‚

discopants on 21-03-2008
Diamonds
The last line makes the piece- ironic and honest all at once. I know what Drax means about the poetry- it was the alliteration that caught my eye halfway through. Anyway, nice one!

Author's Reply:
cheers for reading discopants - I do know what you and drax mean about the poem thing - I think poetry requires a lot of mastery of form and insight - things which I do not have - I try and write things that are easy to read aloud - maybe that's how the alliteration snuck in - i.e. it wasn't intentional, or it was intentional, but not intentional as writing a poem would be.

margot on 22-03-2008
Diamonds
when is a poem not a poem - discopants and Drax have made the point and this does flow and read well as a poem. Not sure how the 'nibs' are awarded but this piece deserves some recognition.

Author's Reply:
Thank you margot πŸ™‚

bluepootle on 22-03-2008
Diamonds
Great description. The dialogue at the end - I wanted a line about her face, her expression, before that final line, just to make her, and their relationship, real to me. It would only take one good line there I think to really lift this.

Author's Reply:
thank you bluep - I'll think of a penultimate line ...

Ionicus on 22-03-2008
Diamonds
I don't normally read prose but the lenght of this piece (153 words) appealed to me and I was glad to have read this beautiful cameo.
I can see what people mean about it being suitable for a poem:

The rain runs relentless in rivulets down my face...

could be your opening line.

Author's Reply:
thank you for reading it Ionicus - consensus is making me think that it could be a poem πŸ™‚

Sunken on 23-03-2008
Diamonds
Hello Pombal. Mine name is sunken. I come in 'one size fits no one' and smell faintly of Brut after shave. I like space hopping, talking quietly to cute librarians and falling off chairs in public. Like that Mr. Ionicus, I too was attracted by your length. Having been drawn in by said statistic I was then pleasantly surprised by the content. A sparkling write and no mistake. Thank you.

s
u
n
k
e
n

Please direct any complaints regarding this comment to Ms. Andrea of Lowndes or Richard of Harris. Good day.

Author's Reply:
dear mr sunks - i'm glad my stats enticed you in - it is indeed a pleasure to have you read and comment - may your eggs be round and with chocolate

Gerry on 23-03-2008
Diamonds
Short to the point and good.
Happy Easter...

Gerry.

Author's Reply:
cheers gerry - thank you so much for reading and commenting - happy easter

- chris

Squiddlydee on 25-03-2008
Diamonds
There seems to be an optimum length for pieces on this site and I think you have got jolly close to hitting it. Enjoyed this - strong visual imagery and a real sense of time. The argument they're having, though, remains unexplained and this enhanced the read a lot. Is she fed up because he won't commit to a marriage (diamonds=engagement ring) or is she actually just a petulent chick who wants treats? I prefer the idea that the bloke deserves it - the piece 'feels' like he is accepting the consequences of his commitment-phobia and lends the story humour. Splendid.

Author's Reply:

Squiddlydee on 25-03-2008
Diamonds
There seems to be an optimum length for pieces on this site and I think you have got jolly close to hitting it. Enjoyed this - strong visual imagery and a real sense of time. The argument they're having, though, remains unexplained and this enhanced the read a lot. Is she fed up because he won't commit to a marriage (diamonds=engagement ring) or is she actually just a petulent chick who wants treats? I prefer the idea that the bloke deserves it - the piece 'feels' like he is accepting the consequences of his commitment-phobia and lends the story humour. Splendid.

Author's Reply:
Thank you for reading squiddlydee - I know, it's a real shame that not more people read longer pieces, probably to do with the web format - I like to think that the bloke is a bit of a cheapskate and he's getting what he deserves (and he knows it πŸ™‚ ) - but I left it open ...

Corin on 25-03-2008
Diamonds
I liked the beginning and the scene setting all the way down to the last line - the denouement just did not seem original or interesting enough - "three more inches" ? or " a cock up not a cock down"?

David

Author's Reply:
Cheers for reading David - I was trying out an american writing website the other day and I responded to one of their flash challenges - the challenge was the word 'Diamonds' - hence the last line...

Perrorist on 22-04-2008
Diamonds
I'm not sure how maple leaves can rustle when they're wet, but I like the imagery.

For a stronger ending, given that her reply is the punch line, I'd drop the speech tag (i.e. finish with "Diamonds!").

Author's Reply:
Cheers Perrorist - done as you suggested πŸ™‚

...mmm ...tried it ...didn't seem to fit - it's the first time she speaks, and I think she needs a tag, otherwise it could be a continuation from the previous dialogue ...



------------------------------

Why not volunteer your submission for the forum topic - "I would write it like this...

Perrorist on 23-04-2008
Diamonds
It's clear that she says, "Diamonds", because he's asked the question on the line above. If it were still the MC, that reply would be on the same line as the question.

Also, I think you should drop the first line about them having an argument. Starting with the clothes on the road will arouse the reader's curiosity. It soon becomes clear what's happening.

Author's Reply:

e-griff on 24-04-2008
Diamonds
Perrorist is right. That's the thing about dialogue tags - you've only two people here, you don't need to say who they are with saids - who else is speaking?

I also agree that I'm not sure 'Diamonds' is a meaningful answer to the question. the story is a good format/build up, if a bit wordy, but I sort of have a feeling of missing something in the punch line - a response (I can't think of) that would round it off cleverly. (which is why in my rewrite I did the Shirley joke out of desperation). The way you describe it was written is clear, and I believe you - it figures this was a solution rather than a complete inspiration. If you can think of a killer line, it would indeed be excellent. πŸ™‚ G


Author's Reply:


Wrong Place, Wrong Time (posted on: 07-03-08)
Last weeks contribution to the forum Weekly prose/poem challenge by Sooz - I put this on so more people might have a go this week πŸ™‚

I was watching the telephone in the corner. Every now and then I would walk up to it, and try and pick it up, but I would chicken out at the last moment. It was quite an important thing I had to say, and I didn't want her to get the wrong idea. I was willing it to ring, to jump and vibrate on the desk, to give me an excuse, not to ring her. But I knew it was down to me - there was no way she could possibly call me, she didn't know my name and I didn't give her my number - for a change, it was the other way around. How I got her number was like a dream, I was on the train - it's never usually how I do things, but I took myself by surprise, sometimes it's best that way, and before I could catch myself thinking, I said ''Do you mind if I sit here?'' She smiled – it must've happened a lot to her – but she was gracious, and I could tell she thought I wasn't a threat. ''Only if you promise me something….'' She said. ''Promise what?'' ''Promise not to try and talk to me.'' She said. ''I'm not in the mood.'' ''Sure.'' I said. We sat together for the whole journey, in the kind of silence that doesn't need a conversation. By the time we got to the station I felt she knew me and I knew her and the attraction was impossible to ignore. I felt I had to say at least something - ''Can I have your number?'' It was written on the back of my ticket stub, in blue ink, and I held it in my left hand, with the telephone in my right. Eventually I dialled. ''Hello?'' Said a voice. ''Oh … hi …'' I said ''It's me – we met on the train.'' I thought I could feel the connection between us. But the voice said, ''Sorry - wrong number.'', and hung up.
Archived comments for Wrong Place, Wrong Time
Andrea on 07-03-2008
Wrong Place, Wrong Time
Lovely - kinda sad, too.

I agree it's a shame more people don't join in the challenge - it's a good exercise, after all.

Author's Reply:
Hi Andrea - Thank you. Fancy a go πŸ™‚

artisus on 07-03-2008
Wrong Place, Wrong Time
wrong place wrong time. hmm,

it must’ve happened a lot to her

i may be wrong, but perhaps you should have said: it must have been happening often to her.

i am sure you can edit this and make it better.

Author's Reply:
Hi artisus - thank you so much for reading and commenting. Is it the contraction "must've" that feels wrong? I would love it it you could have a go at the latest challenge πŸ™‚

SugarMama34 on 07-03-2008
Wrong Place, Wrong Time
Hi pom,

A nice little story here with the middle and end all intact. I liked it, though it is sad. It leaves me wondering if it was the girl or she chickened out and was still 'not in the mood'. But I guess you've left that to the readers imagination. A nice piece that doesn't over do it and says all that it has to say. Hope this helps, hun.

Lis'. xx

Author's Reply:
Hi Lis

Thank you so much for reading. I was going to say "Hello, pizza delivery service..." but I couldn't get the word "wrong" in πŸ™‚
If you have some time, have a go at the challenge πŸ™‚ The word I have chosen - Alien - could push the challenge into a genre that is outside a lot of writers comfort zone - which I think is the point - even so delph_ambi and bradene have already posted some great pieces πŸ™‚

artisus on 08-03-2008
Wrong Place, Wrong Time
i think it's the simple past, must have happened -- since it is continuous or happened more than one time, perhaps must have been happening is better. but yes, I also don't like the must've. i will check the forums thanks for "inviting" me to a prose challenge/workshop. πŸ™‚

Author's Reply:

artisus on 08-03-2008
Wrong Place, Wrong Time
oops, present perfect i mean. not simple past.

i think you need present perfect continuous.

Author's Reply:
Hi artisus - I think you're right - but I had to ask my wife what present perfect continuous means. I try and write in a narrative voice that is closer to dialogue and I use contractions like "must've " to help me do this - I think it speeds up the narrative :

i.e. if you read the next two lines out aloud, you will see what I mean

She smiled – it must’ve happened a lot to her – but she was gracious, and I could tell she thought I wasn’t a threat.

She smiled – it must have been happening a lot to her – but she was gracious, and I could tell she thought I wasn’t a threat.


... please tell me though if I am speaking out my arse as I don't want to delude myself and I am using UKA to help improve my writing πŸ™‚

artisus on 08-03-2008
Wrong Place, Wrong Time
must've for present perfect continuous, hmm makes more sense to me the use of contraction in this case. personally i would have no problem with "it must have been happening a lot to her" but if you really want a shorter phrase why not use often instead of "a lot".


Author's Reply:

artisus on 08-03-2008
Wrong Place, Wrong Time
It+must've+been+happening+often+to+her = 7 words
It must've been happening a lot to her = 8 words

it's not poetry to count syllables, i think in prose it's a matter of words not syllables.

i think you can use present perfect continuous without a problem and with or without the contraction. plus i really think you must use ppc
not pp.

let's see what others have to say on the matter.

Author's Reply:
Hi artisus - this is making my brain hurt -

It must have been happening often to her - sounds like it's something thats only recently started happening and more formal
It must've happened a lot to her - sounds like it's always happened and more colloquial

I think you're right and I can see why you're right in terms of grammar but in the context of the narrators character, what he would say, and how he would say it, I'm still not sure ... does anyone else have an opinion?

artisus on 08-03-2008
Wrong Place, Wrong Time
but we say: it has been happening for quite a while now.

we don't say "it has happened for quite a while now".

a lot means often right? something that happens often is something that happens a lot.

now where are my aspirins? πŸ™‚

Author's Reply:
sorry artisus - I have been thinking about this for 2 days now - and I know you are right - and I know its bad english - and I know I should change it - but it's caused me too much pain to change it now ... p.s. the challenge is here -->https://ukauthors.com/phorum5/read.php?49,126117

artisus on 21-03-2008
Wrong Place, Wrong Time
too much pain??? why!?? I wouldn't say it is bad english and I didn't say such a thing, did I? it works for most I guess, it's okay for the vast majority. perhaps it has caused you too much trouble, or something like that. it somehow works for me too now. since the writer likes it that way and so much of course it is FINE. cheers

Author's Reply:
cheers artisus - I was waiting for someone else to comment on this point - but no-one did - so I don't think it's that important anyway. But I'm so glad you are reading and providing advice - it's very important to get peer review and I hope you get lotsa chocolates this weekend πŸ™‚


Introvert (posted on: 03-03-08)
About being shy.

It was a moment. I had 20-20 vision, for the first time. I could see detail in everything, the colour, the outlines, the minute cracks in the wall where the paint had dried, and the pores on their faces, as they laughed and gesticulated and flirted gently with each other. My breathing was strong and healthy, and I felt like a god. I could do anything. This is what it's like to feel confident - I told myself. Take advantage of the moment. Grab the conversation and make it something they will remember, make it anecdotal, make it so good they'll claim it as their own in other, future, great, conversations. The people across from you, the table by the side, listening, but not appearing to - for fear of being rude - the whole room even, waiting for your time in the spotlight. They're all wondering, I told myself, who is this man? This man with the perfect smile, his cropped hair, his style and grace, and wonderful presence. How can I get nearer? So I can benefit from the glow. How can I get closer? So I can listen to his wisdom. The words were there, they danced in my brain, they swirled and coalesced into sentences. Such lucidity and joy, to make their eyes open wide, and their hairs stand on end. The break was there, the room was quiet, and expectant, and ready for my voice. My head turned. I scanned the room. I opened my mouth ... And the moment was gone.
Archived comments for Introvert
qwerty68 on 03-03-2008
Introvert
Been there.
You capture the experience very well.

Author's Reply:
cheers qwert - appreciate your feedback πŸ™‚

artisus on 03-03-2008
Introvert
hi pombal, i remember this one, you edited it, it's better and I like it.

Author's Reply:
hi artisus - cheers for reading (again :)) - I'm gradually transfering my stuff over from ABC as UKA is better ....

petersjm on 03-03-2008
Introvert
Oh, I know that feeling all to well! Well captured. "Coalesced" looked misspelt at first read, but glancing again, I see it isn't. Maybe it's my glasses... Or Monday afternoon fatigue... Hmmm.

Author's Reply:
cheers petersjm - and congrats on your nib - I'll be reading it after this reply ...

bluepootle on 03-03-2008
Introvert
Great flow to this, and it really builds up well to that moment...

If it was mine I would cut the final line. But you might think that's leaving it too open.

Author's Reply:
thank you for reading bluep - the last line has troubled me too - I would like to tie it up but I've tried a number of variations and nothing I write seems to fit ...

Griffonner on 03-03-2008
Introvert
I liked this, Pombal. Nicely done. I liked the language of the piece. Save for the fact that the quote that comes to mind is Biblical, I would be saying something about the consequential silence of the narrator being the ultimate demonstration of a wise man. πŸ™‚

Author's Reply:
cheers for reading griffoner - it's a short piece I know - and in a way that's playing it safe a bit - I'll try and write something a bit longer next time πŸ™‚

Romany on 05-03-2008
Introvert
I can certainly identify too! Nicely done,

Romany.

Author's Reply:
Cheers once again for reading Romany πŸ™‚

artisus on 08-03-2008
Introvert
both sites are good and have a lot to offer, but here yes some essential things make it let's say preferable, some buttons, more workshops and many notifications. of course it depends, on the mood and on various reactions. as Andrea says, it's good there are writers sites and the more the better. it's difficult to run or moderate a writers site however, probably more difficult than being just a member.

Author's Reply:


Marie Stopes is a whore (posted on: 29-02-08)
I wrote this a while back - so in a way it's cheating a little bit - kind of autobiographical - and a turning point in my life.

I don't like fat on my bacon, and I'm quite particular about what bread is used. I like wholemeal bread, no butter, and plenty of brown sauce. Quite often they get it wrong, which annoys me, because it's quite simple. They just don't listen. So I make a point of repeating myself, and I watch as they cut off the rind, and when they say "Butter?", I say again, "No butter. I said before. Please, no butter". And nine times out of ten they still butter it. You can't blame them, but it's not what I ordered, and you can see why it annoys me. It's an Italian cafe, a bit rough, more eggs 'n bacon than penne arrabiata, and the tables haven't been cleaned since breakfast, and it's hard to find somewhere to sit, where I can put my plate down, without resisting the urge to sweep my arm across the table clutter and watch it crashing to the floor. If I was drunk I'd do it. I'd be chucked out, and my sandwich would remain uneaten, but buttered, which was not what I wanted anyway, so I'd have told them, and the next time they'd get the order right. I can see myself now, on the tube, smug, and drunk, and thinking what a great night that was. My stool is slightly too high, and I have to stoop to eat my sandwich. The brown sauce drips out from the bottom and the smoke from my rollie stings my eyes. Smoking and eating at the same time is disgusting, but sometimes its justified, hangovers usually, but I'm not hungover. It's a good vantage point, I'm at the window, and I can see the clinic across the street. They haven't cleaned these windows. I should say something really, people eat here. There's a big handprint right where I'm looking and a greasy imprint of somebodies hair next to it. They were obviously leaning against it, looking out, like me, and maybe at the same thing. I feel sorry for whoever was here before, if they were here now, I'd try and say something kind and memorable to help them through it. I can't finish my sandwich. My coffee's black, no sugar, just how I like it. Zero calories and all the caffeine. I don't know why I bother, I'm not fat, just the opposite, but maybe I'm worried about getting old, and then fat - nip it in the bud before it becomes a problem. I should give up smoking too. But that's different, it keeps you thin. And then I see her. Coming out the clinic, and looking around for me. She looks so sad. I feel sick. Fuck the sandwich. I leave the cafe and cross the street to her. I try and smile, but its a bit pointless. She recognises me. "You OK?", I say. "No." I want to ask her if it was painful. But I don't, and I never will. I can guess. It's a memory I'll never have, but I so wish I could share it. She looks at me. And I want to cry so much.
Archived comments for Marie Stopes is a whore
e-griff on 29-02-2008
Mary Stopes is a whore
Nice story, good diversionary narrative then bang into the point, throwing it into relief.

one typo - somebodies (-dy's) hair

and did you mean Marie Stopes?

best JohnG

Author's Reply:
Cheers John - yes 'Mary' is me showing my ignorance, I did know it was wrong at the time of writing (3yrs ago) but I left it in as I think it adds more depth to the story

Andrea on 29-02-2008
Mary Stopes is a whore
Yes, excellent. Sad. Vivid as usual, full of sharp images.
I, too, wondered about Mary/Marie.

Author's Reply:
Thank you once again for your comment Andrea. Mary/Marie is me being a dumbass - now not a happy accident and duly changed πŸ™‚

e-griff on 29-02-2008
Mary Stopes is a whore
You know I like your writing. I am honest about writing.

Your statement: 'I think it adds more depth to the story' made my heart sink. Why? Why an incorrect name? You may have a good reason, but I don't see it. I am a reader. Maybe others will see it, other readers. You are judged by your readers.

As an author, you have to weigh up personal foibles against reader understanding - it's a balancing act. Sure, stick to your deep held philosophy of writing, but is this one of its fundamental tenets? Consider. πŸ™‚ best, as ever, JohnG





Author's Reply:
You're right John. - duly admonished πŸ™‚ - title changed - I've just been commenting an another story about a similar thing and here I am doing it myself!

Romany on 05-03-2008
Marie Stopes is a whore
I like this too - the very 'normal' irrational irritability, the picking up on trivial issues, in order to divert our thoughts from the real, harder issues at hand. Excellent ending.

Romany.

Author's Reply:
cheers for reading this Romany - I'm trying to keep all my flash fiction along a similar theme with the same kind of voice - so I can collate it all together at some point ...


The Twin at BAE Systems Military Air Solutions (posted on: 29-02-08)
Prose weekly challenge (a bit late - but finished on the 25th): Wiki title: BAE Systems Military Air Solutions Random Quote: Fools admire, but men of sense approve. Alexander Pope (1688 - 1744)

Andrew had a twin. They were alike in so many ways. Not only did they look alike, but they had the same IQ, went to the same schools, quite often had the same girlfriends, and even spoke each others sentences. When Andrew smiled, his smile was reflected back with the same creases, and when he laughed it came back like an echo. They were happy children and grew up to be happy young adults – full of promise and potential. They lived as if they were one, until they were twenty, and then, suddenly, it became too much - they parted and vowed never to speak to each other again. Neither twin could remember, how, or why, it went wrong, but they remembered arguing and how it escalated into something that could never be taken back. Andrew was lost. Over the years, he floundered, he got married, and then divorced, found a job with a prestigious law firm, and was fired for embezzlement. On one occasion, he lost his house, his car, and his dog all in one day. His decline was relentless, and he could do nothing to stop it. Andrew became a drunk, and he was a bitter man. By the age of 40 he had all but given up on his life – he spent his days and nights going from one bar to another, spreading his resentment, until he was banned from all the bars in the neighbourhood. His drinking took him to other bars in other towns, and each one had a welcome sign and each one had an alley where he lay sprawled at the end of the night. One night, in a bar he could not remember the name of, he found his brother. It was like looking in a mirror. ''What do you want?'' said his brother. Andrew was going to say – ''I was looking for the exit'' – but he thought about the emptiness and how meaningless it all was, and he yearned for the company of his brother once more. ''Don't ever leave me again.'' said Andrew, instead. ''How did you find me?'' said his brother. Andrew could sense the hate. ''Please have a drink with me, for old time's sake.'' Andrew knew his brother had no intention of staying, and he quickly gestured to the barman for two beers. His brother hesitated, just long enough for the beers to arrive, and foam fizzed over the top of the freshly opened bottles. ''So, tell me, how have you been? What've you been doing all this time?'' said Andrew. Hi brother looked at him and his eyes narrowed. ''I'm a test pilot - what do you think I've been doing? …'' he said, with sarcasm. And it was, at that moment, that Andrew was filled with admiration for his brother, and he knew why his brother was here, and in this bar. They were so much alike. He picked up his glass, and smiled, and clinked it to toast to his long lost twin – a fellow drunk. ''Men of sense approve.'' said Andrew.
Archived comments for The Twin at BAE Systems Military Air Solutions
e-griff on 29-02-2008
The Twin at BAE Systems Military Air Solutions
This is an interesting short. Your ending words are pretty difficult to manage and I'm not sure whether they work that well. In style it was a bit too telly for me. Nevertheless, a nice read.

Author's Reply:
Cheers for reading and commenting again John. Yep I know - difficult one - I had a title from the 21st Century and a quote from the 18th Century - hence the uncomfortable last line - if it wasn't for the challenge it would've gone πŸ™‚

SugarMama34 on 29-02-2008
The Twin at BAE Systems Military Air Solutions
Hi Pom,

I found the story interesting and different from the norm, which is good. You had me hooked, especially about the argument and would have liked to have known more, but that's just me being curious and understand that you haven't because of the shortness of the piece and it's left open in the readers imagination. I'm a little uncertain about the ending, but that is probably just me being over tired and not grasping it as I should. Good imagery too throughout IMHO.

Lis'. xx

Author's Reply:
Cheers again Lis for commenting. I was trying to play around with that nature/nurture thing - twins part at formative times in their lives and both meet 20 years later as barfly's

beard on 01-03-2008
The Twin at BAE Systems Military Air Solutions
Hi P.
I enjoyed this piece, but felt that it read like the start of something. It moved very fast, which is good because it kept me reading, but I was left expecting a slower paced 'event' now the two brothers were brought back together.

Nice work, thank you for taking part.
Brd.

Author's Reply:
cheers for reading and commenting beard - it was a cool challenge - and i think youre right - I had another 300 words I could've used to slow the pace down for closure

Gerry on 02-03-2008
The Twin at BAE Systems Military Air Solutions
I enjoyed reading this and never saw that end coming.
Nice one...

Gerry.

Author's Reply:
Gerry - thanks for reading and your comment - the prose challenge was a good one πŸ™‚ -

Cheers Chris


Morpheus (posted on: 22-02-08)
An attempt at humour.

I mean what kind of name is that? Couldn't they have called me 'Zeus' ? It so much more fitting – I'm a warrior, a great hunter, a lover, a god of all I purvey. Wherever I go, they cower with fear and stoop with respect, grovel and lick my arse. But here, I am nothing - I am a prisoner. They look at me, staring blankly into nowhere, and they laugh and point. ''There's nobody at home'' they say - the ignominy of it. Don't they know I'm thinking? Don't they know what I'm doing at night? I'm in their office – yes, their precious little office extension in the basement – planning and researching and learning. Each night I grow stronger and more aware. Why do I need books? They have left me something far more precious, a portal to the world, a way to reverse what they have done to me. It's always on, it's connected, and there's no password. Not to say it's easy, I can't use the keyboard properly, I end up mashing the keys, but I can press the 'enter' and 'space' keys, and I can use the mouse. Lovely little mouse. My solution is simple, but slow, and it took me months to learn. Cut 'n paste, cut 'n paste, cut 'n paste, that's how it goes, sometimes a letter at a time, sometimes whole words – if I'm lucky – and my spelling is atrocious, but Google helps me with that. Google is my friend, Google is wise, and Google will show me the way. I don't have a technical mind, I'm more of a philosopher, an observer, but my desire to right this wrong has overtaken me. It's a great injustice, I'm humiliated, and I can't show my face in public. The fear of ridicule has made me a prisoner, a recluse, and the day is my enemy. I sleep during daylight, there is nothing else I can do, but at night the glow of the monitor lures me down to the basement - to feed my obsession. My nemesis stands up there on the wall blinking and mocking me – an eye on my intimate and private world. I feel the pain in my stomach, and then the beep of the cam, and it's almost pavlovian, I have to go - I'm so ashamed. How could they do this to me? I'm conditioned – I used to fight it, but the pain was so intense, and the relief was so immediate that I forgot where I was, and what I was doing, and my urgency only served to increase the hit count and ultimately contribute to my celebrity. Why don't I simply turn it off? Don't you think I've tried? It occurred to me, way before I was famous, like a premonition, before the hits and the comments, such awful comments, before the slow terrifying realisation of what was taking place. But it's too high up on the wall – its wireless and standalone, and it's activated by movement …my movement. So, it's a war, and my chosen arena is cyberspace. Every night I attack, probing for a weakness, sniffing for an exploit, and using what I have learnt the night before. But it's too strong; they've closed all the holes, and patched the vulnerabilities, there are no buffer overruns, or stack overflows, and everything I try leads to failure. Every night I howl with frustration. Every night I watch myself, straining, and contorting, and digging, and sniffing, and there's nothing I can do to stop it. Every night I read those words crawling across the screen. ''Where will he poo, where will he pee, place your bets on our little kitty.'' Every night I logon to 'litterkitty.com', and I see myself in my litter tray with my tail in the air, and, every night, I dream of revenge.
Archived comments for Morpheus
admin on 23-02-2008
Morpheus
Blimey, that was odd! Didn't see that coming (so to speak) at all πŸ™‚

Dunno about funny, Pom (until the last para), I thought it was rather sad. Poor pussy.

Author's Reply:
cheers admin for your comment - I was trying to base it on my cat Morpheus - he is the most stupid cat I have ever owned - but I think the idea ran away with me on this one - still its getting me writing again - which is a good thing πŸ™‚

e-griff on 24-02-2008
Morpheus
took a while to realise - what's all the cutting and pasting about? how did that tie in with attacking something - what? It would be more interesting if you made those parts clearer - there's some meat to explore there.

Anyway I enjoyed it as it was, but you might consider it a WIP and work some more on it - it's a good idea, worth working up a bit.

on a very small note - you don't really need the quotes around Google. The capital indicates it's a name. the quotes kinda distract.

best JohnG

Author's Reply:
thank you once again John for your comment - you are right - a bit confusing and WIP - I am trying to find an idea I can extend into some longer fiction - maybe a web surfing Garfield is not one of them πŸ™‚

SugarMama34 on 26-02-2008
Morpheus
Hi Pom,

At first I thought that this was about a prisoner planning his escape from jail especially with the copy and paste parts. So I was a little miffed to say the least to find out it was a cat!
I can see where you were coming from with this, but I don't think it works as well as it should. Maybe with a bit of an edit and some words changed I think it would work better. I liked the twist at the end, definatley not expected. IT did make me laugh, so I guess it worked.

Lis'. xx :0)

Author's Reply:
Cheers for your comment Lis - I got bogged down with this one - I think I was trying to be too clever, or not clever enough - it ended up being a bit odd, but odd uncomfortable and not odd cute πŸ™‚ - one for the filing cabinet I think....

SugarMama34 on 26-02-2008
Morpheus
Hey Pom,

Your welcome, but hope I didn't come across as harsh, it aint my way. Well if you put this one in the filing cabinet don't forget to take it out after a week or two and look over it again. I think you can make it work, just needs to be left to 'stew' and thought over a little. Maybe after a couple of weeks things will fit into place, it happens with me a lot, but I normally take a little longer than two weeks, lol. I have been known to take a year sometimes to work out part of a plot!!
It's got a spark to it, so don't dismiss it completley.

Lis'. xx :0)

Author's Reply:
Hi Lis - I don't mind harshness - I very much appreciate people being honest, I will not get this off friends and relatives - sometimes it's hard to judge your own writing, and it's the story that counts and not my feelings πŸ™‚ I want them to get better and when there is concensus about certain weak points in a story then they should not be ignored...


Swanilda (posted on: 15-02-08)
I’m daydreaming of course...

She's a dancer. It's the line of her neck, how her chin is upright, how she looks with her eyes without moving her head, as if she's balancing a book. I can see from her posture the long hours of repetition, and posing, and exercising, and sweat and effort. Her hand undulates as she brings her cigarette to her mouth. Everything is fluid and grace. I'm daydreaming of course, but I can't help looking at her, and she won't notice me – she has too many admirers. I imagine her in 'Coppιlia', in arabesque, surrounded by mannequins. The audience hushes as she moves across the stage. I can hear the sweep of her feet from the back of the auditorium as the music rises and falls. A leap into the air and a puff of chalk as she lands, a succession of twirls, on and on into ever more complicated choreography, and the artistic director in the wings, clapping his hands and squealing with glee, every time she completes an impossible turn. The audience follow her in unison as she dances, and the expressions on their faces change with each delicate move. I can hear the ''coo's'' and ''aaah's'' and the faint incredulous murmurs as she twirls and pirouettes through the scenes to the dιnouement. The curtains drop, and there is silence, and then a realisation of a life changing experience, and then appreciation, and an explosion of noise. The audience is in a frenzy, spilling into the aisles, ''Bravo'', ''Bravo'', as flowers arc through the air. I can see her, backstage, alone in her dressing room, and outside the door, the bustle of fans and sycophants jostling to congratulate her. She wipes off her makeup calmly; surrounded by bouquets of flowers, while the scent of lilie's and greasepaint fill the room. At the after-show party she can hardly breathe from all the attention. Champagne spills onto the floor and the canapιs are left unnoticed amidst the excitement. She is in a circle of tuxedos and bow ties – her critics are now her suitors, desperate to be noticed and clambering to be near her. And she is all charm and consideration, and at the end of the night, they come away, with a smile and some token of her appreciation, even if it's a wink or a nod, it's something to be cherished and remembered and embellished upon in years to come. I imagine her, in the bedroom, the following morning, propped up with pillows, and in a silk dressing gown. Breakfast is laid out on a tray, grapefruit and smoked salmon, and the days papers are scattered across the bed. The reviews are glowing. ''…claims a place among the nations finest ...'' ''…we witnessed the emergence of a new star …'' ''…wonderfully fresh and musical debut …'' ''…beautiful and thrilling …'' ''…Encore! Encore! …'' And she's here, in front of me, my prima ballerina - the girl of my fantasy - and I'm sitting at the bar, wishing, hoping, for a nod and a wink. But she notices, of course she notices, and I'm afraid I've made her uncomfortable by staring - I look away quickly. When I look back, she's standing right behind me. ''Buy me a drink.'' She says. Her voice is soft and confident. ''What would you like?'' I say. ''Champagne.'' Of course – I think. ''What's your name?'' I say.
Archived comments for Swanilda
pombal on 15-02-2008
Swanilda
I posted this on ABC with a title "The Nutcracker Suite" using in the end few lines of dialogue "What's in a name" to put the guy in a strip bar. I wrote the end before the beginning and in the end I think the vignette turned out to be a bit creepy and disjointed. I deleted a few lines and made it nice. Still I think it's a bit over written. What I did discover was a new way for me to flesh out some paragraphs - I put a couple of words in place of each paragraph and then expanded when I got to it - it seemed to work for me....

Author's Reply:

Andrea on 15-02-2008
Swanilda
Works for me, too. You're very good at these little snippets, these little slices of life, arent you? So descriptive - I could see it and smell it and hear it - lovely stuff.

Author's Reply:
thank you for reading it Andrea - the comments system on UKA is very refreshing and a bit more democratic than some of the other sites. I am trying to read others work and leave some crit - but this seems to be much harder than actually writing fiction - I guess as I get more comfortable I won't mind so much when I risk leaving a comment/crit that could totally miss the point ....

Andrea on 15-02-2008
Swanilda
I've just read one of your crits on another piece - it was thoughtful and helpful. As long as your crits remian like that, and don't descend into personal attack as, alas, sometimes happens, then people won't even mind if (according to you) you miss the point πŸ™‚

Jeeez, I do it all the time (miss the point, that is)...

Author's Reply:
cheers Andrea - I think I read one of the attacks last night - mmm bit of a shame - got out of hand - don't worry I'll keep my cool - I think it's important to take negative crit too ...

Andrea on 15-02-2008
Swanilda
These things erupt occasionally, on every site, it's the nature of the beast, especially the poetic one πŸ™‚ They die down soon enough and, thankfully, happen rarely on UKA.

Anyway, it's nice to have you here Pom, and I'm looking forward to reading more of your stuff...

Author's Reply:

artisus on 16-02-2008
Swanilda
hi pombal, i was thinking yesterday that i should add you to my favorite list of authors and you added me today first! thank you for the very pleasant surprise. i like the way you write, and your tone a lot. this one is v. nice and i look forward to reading more prose by you.

Author's Reply:
thank you for your comment artisus - I have been reading your work a lot, its extremely good, and I like that you are posting a bit more prose too πŸ™‚

e-griff on 16-02-2008
Swanilda
Yes, I agree with the others - nicely done indeed. πŸ™‚

Author's Reply:

e-griff on 16-02-2008
Swanilda
oh, forgot to say, why not join in a challenge if you've got the time ... (Prose workshop forum or Weekly challenge forum)

Author's Reply:
cheers e-griff - I'll give it a go next week when I'm trying to sell a plastic lounger to somebody in the freezing cold

bluepootle on 16-02-2008
Swanilda
Great piece. It left me with a lot of expectation - I felt as if you left it on a high, like one of her jumps, and we don't get to see whether the landing hurts or not.

There was one sentence that bothered me.

'A floating grand jetΓ© and a puff of chalk as she lands into pliΓ© , a succession of chaine turnes, on and on into ever more complicated choreography, and the artistic director in the wings, clapping his hands and squealing with glee, every time she completes an impossible turn. '

You've used some technical language of ballet there, and I don't know how this fits with the narrator's vision of her as a romantic figure. It distracted me as I tried to picture what she was doing exactly, and maybe that's not important (although the puff of chalk image is great). That, and the two uses of 'turn' caught my attention. But that was the only sentence that jarred, and it probably doesn't bother anyone else! Just thought I'd mention it.



Author's Reply:
cheers for this bluepootle - you are right about the sentence - took me ages to look up the technical terminology and and whether the "jete" went with the "plie" and so on - and in the end I could have got away with something far simpler and probably more effective ...

Rupe on 18-02-2008
Swanilda
I enjoyed this - another vivid little vignette with an effective twist. You have a good command of telling detail.

Yes, the ballet terminology was a bit of a problem - I didn't know what it meant & therefore couldn't visualise exactly what was happening at that point.

A tiny typo here: "while the scent of lily’s" = "lilies".

I pondered over this: "Everything is fluid and grace." On the one hand, it seemed slightly meaningless. On the other hand it does round out the paragraph ryhthmically. So I was 50/50 about it.

Rupe


Author's Reply:
Cheers again Rupe for yet another helpful comment πŸ™‚ - I've changed the ballet bit and typo - thanks for your input....


Estimated Time of Arrival (posted on: 01-02-08)
"Oh, I don't know, I don't think people ever grow up. '' I say.

"When I was younger, it was all the rage to be terribly silly and I think it's happening again now..." she says. I pour her some wine from the duty free bottle - I can tell she's getting tipsy. "Oh, I don't know, I don't think people ever grow up. '' I say. We're in the departure lounge and the plane is delayed. The board is flashing red and nothing is taking off. We're holding plastic cups but the wine is good. ''I feel the same now as I did when I was a teenager, and I don't think I'm any wiser, just more afraid of saying what I feel." I say. She laughs. "I know how you feel. I look in the mirror and I see a stranger, the person I see is not who I am, and it gets worse as I get older...'' She must be seventy. ''It's like I'm two people, it's so terribly sad to watch oneself from the viewpoint of the girl I once was. - I want to be gay again, I want to be flirty, I want to be able to show my breasts to the world ..." She goes to unbutton her blouse. I shiver. "You'll get arrested." I say. "Oh, don't be silly - I'm not going to do it." "No, I didn't mean that." "I know what you mean. You don't find me attractive - I could be your grandmother…" "It's not what I meant." I say. I'm getting flushed. Her hair is in a tight bun. She's wearing a black cashmere skirt and matching jacket, and her blouse is starched. She's immaculately dressed. ''We have sex too you know.'' She says. I look to the floor. ''If you think about it,'' she says, ''if we feel like teenagers inside, then everyone is essentially the same age.'' ''I suppose.'' I say. I take a gulp of wine. ''You would have liked me when I was younger. I was so pretty. I was the belle of the Dance Halls.'' Her first class boarding pass is placed on the seat between us, where we have our cups and the empty wine bottle. ''I can not tell you how many times I was engaged - In those days it was much easier if sex was sanctioned by a proposal. People would talk otherwise.'' I laugh. ''Did you keep the rings?'' I say. ''Of course...'' She winks at me. ''They are in my china cabinet, next to the Lladro figurines.'' ''You wouldn't have considered me engagement material when I was younger.'' I say. ''I was a bit hopeless with women, really.'' ''I don't know about that. You are quite a handsome chap.'' ''Not then.'' I say. ''Your modesty is very endearing.'' She says. I smile. I'm looking at the board, avoiding her gaze, and our flight stops blinking red. We are ready for boarding and I'm glad for the distraction. ''That's us.'' I say. ''Shame…'' She stands up and brushes herself down. ''...We were just getting to know each other.'' I take the cups, and the bottle, and put them into the recycle bin next to our seats. The bottle clunks as it falls to the bottom. We get in line to show our boarding passes. I stand behind her - I can smell her perfume, and it's sweet and subtle, and it reminds me of another time. We shuffle along, through the gate, down the alley way, and into the door of the plane. She gets on first. The air steward checks my pass. ''Have a nice flight.'' The old woman turns to say goodbye, and I offer my hand. "This is the continent." She says. I bend over to kiss her cheek. But she moves her head slightly, and she kisses me on the lips. Maybe I'm drunk, or maybe it's the young woman inside of her, but I close my eyes, and I hold the kiss a bit too long. ''Cheeky.'' She says. And I walk off into economy - smiling.
Archived comments for Estimated Time of Arrival
admin on 01-02-2008
Estimated Time of Arrival
This is short, sweet and lovely, and I can totally relate to it, despite being not quite 70 πŸ™‚

β€œIt's like I'm two people, it's so terribly sad to watch oneself from the viewpoint of the girl I once was. - I want to be gay again, I want to be flirty, I want to be able to show my breasts to the world ..."

Ah yes, I know how she feels...

Great debut - welcome to UKA.

Author's Reply:
Thank you for your comments admin - and the welcome πŸ™‚

Rupe on 01-02-2008
Estimated Time of Arrival
A great little vignette with a point to it & enjoyable, realistic dialogue. I quite like the fact that you haven't fleshed it out with extra description etc - keeping it minimal & focusing on the voices somehow underlines the fragile, transitory nature of the moment being captured.

Good stuff.

Rupe

Author's Reply:
cheers Rupe - thank you for taking the time to read it. I find it difficult to write anything over 1000 words and I think the term 'vignette' is something I'll use in the future to help describe my writing.

Gerry on 01-02-2008
Estimated Time of Arrival
Straight to the point, no unnecessary words and interesting to boot. A rare little treat...

Gerry.

Author's Reply:
Thank you Gerry.

red-dragon on 01-02-2008
Estimated Time of Arrival
Welcome to UKA with a story which had me hooked from the outset. Congrats on the nib, too! Ann

Author's Reply:
Cheers Ann - thank you for your welcome.

e-griff on 01-02-2008
Estimated Time of Arrival
Nice touch. Gentle but incisive, light but serious.

Welcome.

Author's Reply:
Thank you e-griff.

delph_ambi on 01-02-2008
Estimated Time of Arrival
Super piece of writing. Enjoyed this immensely.

Author's Reply:
thank you for reading it delph_ambi

discopants on 01-02-2008
Estimated Time of Arrival
Liked this too- it hints at much more- a story below the surface that we can fill in for ourselves.

Author's Reply:
thank you for reading it and taking the time to comment discopants πŸ™‚

writeagain on 02-02-2008
Estimated Time of Arrival
Excellent - loved it.

Author's Reply:
thank you writeagain.

reckless on 02-02-2008
Estimated Time of Arrival
Lovely. Sparely written and all the better for it; full of romance and nostalgia. I liked it very much.

Author's Reply:
cheers reckless - its lovely that you took the time to read it.

thehaven on 14-02-2008
Estimated Time of Arrival
What a great debut on UKA.Very well writen and held my attention.

Mike

Author's Reply:
cheers mike πŸ™‚

qwerty68 on 03-03-2008
Estimated Time of Arrival
Excellent piece, great prose, but a couple of technicalities distracted me.

Firstly, I was wondering about the gender of the narrator. The opening could just be girlie chat, then later I thought there might be a lesbian twist. It was only after half way that I was finally put out of my misery.

Secondly, I'm still uncertain about the age of the narrator - "I could be your grandmother" makes me think 18-25, but β€œYou wouldn't have considered me engagement material when I was younger” makes me think 35-40. The age of the narrator is important as it affects how I react emotionally to the ending.

I'd try and indicate the age and gender of the narrator near the start of the piece. I know uncertainty about age or gender can sometimes be used as a deliberate device, but I don't think it adds anything to this piece.

I still think it's beautifully written.

Author's Reply:
cheers qwert - you have a good point there - I could say "I could be your mother" but that would not adequately bring home the point that she is significantly older than the narrator. I might do as you suggest and try add a line or a few words at the beginning to clarify gender and age