ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Write...Edit...Publish JUNE challenge -- BRIDGES. My flash fiction, A Bridge too Far.

Here is my flash fiction for the WEP BRIDGES challenge for June. Open to all creatives who wish to join us. I've literally re-vamped a previously-published story to fit the challenge.

It's Shakespeare time again in my teaching schedule. Othello and A Merchant of Venice are on the menu. If you're a fan of The Bard you'll probably recognise some references. I've chosen names from random Shakespearean plays, but of course, Macbeth is always my favorite.

A Bridge too Far



‘Take me with you, Dad.’

‘Sorry, sweetheart. If there was any other way, we wouldn’t leave you here.’

Here was the International School of Exchange, one of the best Norweyan schools—big, ostentatious, gothic. 

‘Listen, sweetie, look at our separation as just another bridge to cross on your journey towards world domination. And, uh, it’ll be good for you to mix with humans for a change, to see them in another light.’

Dad so got it wrong. 




Bellona is loitering at the top of the stairway with her group of besties looking for all the afterworld like a row of creepy gargoyle statues. I have to pass these weird sisters to get to my next class. But, hey, they can’t put the fear of God into me. Bellona I can handle, but flanked by Portia and Nerissa, she looks scary indeed, even without a beard. I will need all my craft to survive.

‘Something bothering you, Emilia?’ Bellona’s voice wafts down the stairs like fog and filthy air. ‘I was just telling the sistas that something wicked this way comes. You look like you’re going to puke. Come along up. Wouldn’t want you to choke.’

I massage the banister knob with my left hand, feeling the silkiness of the aged wood smooth under my magnificent marble skin. I could glide up the stairs and float right through the lot of them, bitch slapping them while I pass, but my cred would be shot if I took that route. 

Maybe this is a place where I can belong, but there's a bridge to cross before that happens. 

Bellona. 

In my Adolescence That Never Ends, I’ve discovered every school has its ghoul!

‘Come on up, you swine,' she says. 'New girls have to pass the test.’

‘What test?’ Why didn’t I keep my big mouth shut? Now she can't wait to get her long claws into me.

‘The test to see if you belong.’

Why do they suspect I don't belong?

Hmm. I shouldn’t have deliberately stepped on her shiny black Doc Martens when I cut her off at the classroom door. But that was pretty tame considering the way she’d baited me all the way through the Shakespeare class, jealous little warhorse. Not my fault I knew all the answers to Lady Macbeth’s questions (well, Ms Opine acted like Lady Macbeth in her sleepwalking stage, floating about the room in her long skirt, stroking her long red tresses, curling her dark red lips in disdain at the students’ stumbling answers to questions about Macbeth’s motivations). To tell you the truth, all she was missing was the candle in her hands.  

'Hey, Ms Opine,' I imagined myself saying. 'I knew old William personally, dig that? We used to chat after the shows in the Globe. I even suggested a few characters in history he might use for his next play. Where do you think he got the idea for Macbeth and King Duncan, hmm?'

Yep. I know every one of the Bard’s plays by heart, Ms Opine, in ye Olde English, not the modern crap you let students read these days. Like which sounds better--'Killing pigs' or 'Killing swine'? No contest.

‘Get off my boot, you weirdo,’ had been Bellona’s reaction to my little stomp attack after ckass. ‘Take that!’ She’d swung her long blonde mane (yes, she was very horsey. I thought it unusual in a Norweyan public school) and delivered a stunning blow to my solar plexus.

‘Ouch!’ I’d yelled, surprised at the power in her dainty little fight move. 

She gave me a strange look. 

Did she feel my flesh as hard and bony as her elbow? Is that what gave me away? Still, I couldn’t resist another stomp on her boots, grinding my rubber soles as hard as I could without breaking her foot. 

If you’ve ever tried to hurt someone by stomping on their Docs, you’d know it takes a lot of girl power. Those babies have pretty good toe protection. I put as much oomph as I dared behind that stomp/kick/grind. Bellona’s face turned as white as mine and her jagged breath concerned me for a minute as I wondered if I’d gone too far. The tears in her big baby blues were a bonus, looking quite dramatic hovering on her smoky fake eyelashes. But she was a tough chick for a human, or kinda human. 

Now, she’d rustled up reinforcements. I was facing a Birnam Wood Comes to Dunsinane moment.

Oh, great! An army gathered against me. I have to think fast or my first day will be my last day here. If I use too much power, I’m out. Too little, and these weird sisters and their cronies will make my life a misery just like the hags did to poor old Macbeth.

Was it worth taking the ‘test’, or should I refuse to listen to them, get back on my metaphorical charger and gallop away?

As Bellona and I played at outstaring each other, I thought of another school, another Bellona. Turned out that chick was a vamp like me. She didn’t want any competition. There could only be one Queen Lilith, so she demanded I take the test. I’d refused, but lived to regret it. I could have beaten that wispy vamp in a heartbeat, um, well. Well, I don’t have much choice this time, do I? I can't always run away. I’m here forever. If I’d passed the last test I would have been Head Girl at Cawdor by now. Hmm.

Avaunt! I race up the stairs, two at a time, holding my ridiculously long serge skirt like I'm some simpering Regency heroine. Those weird sisters step back as if they’ve seen a ghost. Well, you have, stupidos. Bet they’ve never bullied a ghost before.

Soon I’ll be Head Girl of the International School of Exchange. Pretty cool.

Hey, Dad, sometimes we’ve just got to decide which bridge to cross and which bridge to burn.  




WORDS: 995
FCA

I hope you like my story for the WEP BRIDGES challenge. Anything goes, as you can see. You have until June 21 to post - flash fiction, non fiction, poetry, artwork...The entry that catches the eye of the judges wins a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

Please click on the names in my right sidebar with DL (Direct Link) next to the name, or go to the WEP website limked in previous paragraph.






53 comments:

  1. Adolescence that Never Ends? That sounds like hell to me.
    I thoroughly enjoyed this piece and would like to read more. Much more. I am greedy that way.

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    1. Yes, wouldn't it be terrible to be forever an adolescent? A fate worse than death, LOL! Glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for coming by.

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  2. Great story! A teenager vampire - that's a new one. And after all her years, she still wants to be Head Girl. Argh!

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    1. Yeah, time she got over that eh? I originally had it set in England, which is all about Head Girl, LOL.

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  3. Which bridge to cross and which to burn...witch to cross and witch to burn :) I remember the original flash of yours. Striking!

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    1. Which witch is which, eh? I've jigged it a bit but it's still a fun piece to me.

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  4. Too funny. Way to go for girl power!!

    I like Shakespeare; but it takes a lot of work sometimes to 'get' the language.

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    1. These days in Oz, they're going for the modern version and still calling it Shakespeare which is too funny!

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  5. Hi Denise - you've bewitched us ... fascinating play with names, scenes and ideas - and Shakespeare played in the round. He certainly built bridges into his plays ... all now interpreted differently ... building bridges from the 1500/1600s into today's understanding.

    That image is very evocative of Macbeth's witches cauldron ... boiling away ... loved the story - cheers Hilary

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Hilary. I'm glad I bewitched you, LOL! Love playing with names. Should have added a pop quiz, eh? The Bard certainly built bridges to the modern world.

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  6. Hi,
    I read this and the enormity of peer pressure came to my mind. it is sad but true that many people make decisions that are detrimental to their lives because of peer pressure and the need to be accepted or approved of.
    Thanks for this poignant story.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat

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    1. Yes, peer pressure has been around for so long and i guess it always will be. I'm glad you enjoyed my story, Pat.
      Shalom aleichem
      Denise :-)

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  7. I love Shakespeare. No I don't want the modern version. That's like making Pan's Labyrinth in english, a travesty! Leave it alone, if kids can do that madness call math they can learn Shakespeare if put to the fire. Anyway this story was very entertaining. Glad she made her mark. Aim for the top!

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    1. Well, they're dishing out the modern version these days, sadly. Better than not studying it at all, I guess. Never thought about the link between math and Shakespearean language. Interesting. I'll use that!

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  8. Great story, Denise. I loved the paranormal twist on it and how much you shared about Emilia. So sympathize with her going through adolescence forever.

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  9. Hi, Denise!

    fun, Fun, FUN.... Really enjoyed your piece. Nice visuals and terrific TONE....

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    1. Glad you did Michael. I had fun writing it.

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  10. 25, now that's the age to repeat. Adolescence, whoa, that would surly be drag like no other. World domination couldn't come soon enough!!! Great twist on an oldie! Excellent!
    I agree, learn it as it was meant to be, otherwise what's the point?

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    Replies
    1. 25 would be much better than 15! Thanks my friend.

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  11. Stuck in that state forever sure would stink. Maybe that's why some ghost are severely ticked off. Great one indeed.

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  12. It would be difficult to bully a ghost! HA. "Find me if you can."

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  13. Cool concept. There is so much here. Plays on words and characters, connections to past and present. There's a lot to be said about learning the classics, but I do sometimes understand why new versions pop up. For me, I always appreciate the classics, the originals, and think of the new versions as a means to reach people who's minds aren't in the right place to accept the classics... And then there's peer pressure. Honestly I wasn't very good at being a teenager when I was a teenager, so it's hard for me to relate, but I still think it made for a good story.

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    1. Yes, at least the students understand what they're reading. And there'll always be peer pressure.

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  14. That so would fit with a Halloween prompt. Very nice.

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  15. I like it. 'Mean Girls' with a twist. Like really mean girls. Great entry!

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    1. There are plenty of Mean Girls around for sure. Thanks.

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  16. I love this piece, especially the Shakespeare references!

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  17. Interesting take on boarding schools, mean girls,and bullies with vampires and witches thrown in. A fun story like Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer rolled together into one.

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    1. It was meant to be fun, Deborah, and it was.

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  18. What a great story, I enjoyed it from start to finish, well done. Hope all is well with you Diane

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    1. Thanks Diane. All's well with me. Hopefully you too. Thanks for coming by.

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  19. Very nice tongue-in-cheek, Vampire story.

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  20. Being an adolescent forever sounds awful, but if bullies ran the risk of picking on a vampire, they might be inclined to be a bit nicer. Very well-written tale!

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    1. They might be, unless they're vamps too, LOL.

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  21. Fantastic story! This is the kind of writing I love to read. Well done.

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    1. Glad you like it, J Lenni. This is just the kind of writing I like to write, LOL!

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  22. Great story, well paced, took the reader right in to that school situation but being a teenager/adolescent forever, how awful. Loved the use of the names. Thank you for keeping WEP going.

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    1. Thanks for supporting WEP Sally. Glad you like my story.

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  23. Ha, I loved the story and I loved the voice.

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  24. Original twist on the the vamp theme! Thank you for sharing! Happy IWSG day.

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    1. Thanks Adrienne. Lovely of you to pop by.

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  25. Nice to see some names I recognize. Hope you're doing well. :-)

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