The Race

Last year, I created and celebrated ‘Word Challenge Week’.
For those of you that weren’t here then, I dedicated a whole seven days to writing and posting short stories prompted by only five random words. I had to link these words into my prose for each short story.

What happened, though, was that instead of getting seven sets of five random words, I got eight. This, ‘The Race’, is the result of the eighth set. I thought it was time to share it with you.

My words were: tail, chocolate, fragrant, paddock and sport.

Happy reading!

***

Fred’s tail flicks at the multitude of flies surrounding his rump. For some reason, it’s their local hangout spot—a place where they gather and share the latest events to shape their short lives.

This paddock was Fred’s favourite too. His mother told him he wasn’t allowed to have a favourite—especially since they move around so much—but over the last few years, this paddock had stood out from all the rest. It had the sweetest grass and the coolest shade. It had the trough with the least amount of algae of all the troughs on the farm. How could you not like it?

The last couple of days have been a little strange, though. The paddock hasn’t been the same. The humans, Kevin and Ryan, have carted these metal frames into the field and have cut a random loop in the grass near the fence. Fred frowns when he sees them from two paddocks away. How dare they deface his favourite place?

They started putting signs up near the road yesterday.

‘We’re going to revolutionise sport.’ Ryan had said into his little electronic thing-a-majig as he hauled a massive sheet of corrugated iron down the driveway. It had something painted on it in large red letters, or so Fred assumed. All those human symbols were gobbledegook, ‘I’m telling you, Tim. We got a permit, and it’s gonna be awesome!’

Fred stared at Ryan. What was he talking about? What sport?

A couple of birds chatter loudly on the branch above Fred’s head. Briefly, he wondered if it was possible to learn fluent tweet. Maybe they could elucidate Ryan’s comments to Tim; if only Fred could speak their language. But, then again, the birds were practically screaming at each other, so it would have been a miracle if they had heard anything other than themselves.

‘Oi, Kev!’ Ryan yells from the road.

Kevin slowly straightens with a groan and looks in Ryan’s direction. His hands are heavily dusted with dirt, which he promptly wipes on his ripped jeans.

‘Yeah!’ He bellows back.

‘Sign’s up. Looks sweet!’ You can hear the smile in Ryan’s words. Fred rolls his eyes.

‘Come over here and help me mark parking, yeah?’

Three days later, Fred’s favourite paddock is surrounded by humans. They crowd in around the fences, ignoring the concept of personal space completely. There’s a man on the driveway with a bright yellow reflective vest on, directing traffic to the parking area.

‘Ladies and gents,’ Ryan’s voice comes from a small and very loud machine that has been strapped to the branch of a tree, ‘are you ready for the race of the century? Make your way over to trackside to watch it front row! Watch out for those fragrant, chocolate pies, though, eh? Don’t want to stink out the car on the way home. Race starts in five minutes.’

Fred attempts to roll his eyes. It’s not like we can help where we go, he thinks, it just sort of happens!

‘Alright, Freddy boy,’ Kevin says, ruffling up the fur on Fred’s forehead, ‘You ready to run?’

Wait, what?

‘Let’s get you into the starting gates.’

Me? Run? You’ve got to be joking. I find it hard enough moving from one paddock to another at a stroll.

Strapped into some tiny cage thing, Fred begins to panic. His breathing is exaggerated and short, he kicks and makes ghastly groaning noises of agitation. It’s obvious he wants out, but Kevin is ignoring him, taking the noises Fred is making as ones of intense excitement.

‘Get ready, folks. It’s about to start. Watch out for gate four! He’s one of our own! Fred’s his name. Make sure you give him a cheer.’ Ryan’s voice booms again.

The crowd shrieks and woops and generally makes idiots of themselves.

‘Ready Fred?’ Kevin asks again.

No. No I am not.

Without another work, Kevin climbs over the cage and onto Fred’s back. Fred starts bucking frantically, dinting the metal that surrounds him.

‘Racers, ready …’

And then the starting gun fires.

***

For the others I posted in word challenge week:
An Accidental Encounter
Losing Stitches
Decisions
Sorry Affairs
The Hike
Dinner Date
The Crow

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Why?

The world is a dark place. It’s been that way since the sun fell.

It was kind of beautiful, to be honest. One minute it’s in the sky, beating down and breaking millions of people out in the most horrendous of sweats, and the next, it’s descending from the sky in the middle of the day.

Everyone says that the scientists should have predicted it … but they didn’t or, at least, didn’t tell anyone that they did predict it. But, really, how sick do you have to be to know about something like that and not tell anyone. That’s not a conspiracy theory, that’s a worldwide genocide.

So instead of taking preventative measures (if there is a method of prevention for the sun falling), we are now living in darkness whilst every engineer in the world figures out a way for the world to thrive without the sun.

It’s been four days.

Everyone is carrying on as if this is all going to be fine – like the power’s gone out and all we have to do is wait for it to come back on. My parents are going to work in, what’s supposed to be, the morning and staying there the whole day even though it’s pitch black and they have to work under buzzing lights.

It’s bleak.

School called the house about five minutes ago. Apparently, I’m still expected to go. I didn’t pick up, I just listened to the principal drone on and on about expectations of students at “our fine academy” and that my parents should call the school to organise a “disciplinary plan” for their daughter. UGH..

I roll my eyes at the answering machine again, and delete the message.

I stopped being a daughter six months ago – before all of the sun shit happened. But, still, the teachers at my school can’t get it right. That’s what I’m most annoyed about from the message. In an age that’s supposed to be “accepting” of all identities, and from a school that has it written in their vision and mission, I shouldn’t have to explain myself to people. When I say that I am male, I should be male. I shouldn’t be asked why I “made that choice” – because it’s not a choice. I may still have some of my feminine features, but that doesn’t make me any less male.

And then the sun fell and I thought that trivial issues, like my transgender status, would be forgotten. But even in the darkness, they find a way to promote their rejection of my true self. As I said before, UGH..

I thought that something drastic like the sun falling would transform what people focus on. But it’s like they don’t care that the would could be days away from ending. They have blind faith in a group of people who, let’s face it, have no idea what they are doing. It’s not like they’ve had to build a sun simulation machine before. We had the real thing. It worked well. And then the sun just gave up – got fed up of watching people destroy the world they were given.

So instead, the people of the world, continue to focus on the same petty things – things that are none of their business, things that they don’t understand. And people that were struggling to show who they are, are still struggling.

But, let me ask you this, what’s the point? Why make somebody feel bad about who they are, who they have no choice of being, when there are more important things that need focusing on?

Why?

***

That’s it for today, folks! I’ll see you Tuesday! xx

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Make Your Voice Heard

“Could you keep it down?” my brother bashes on my bedroom door.

My eyes roll back in my head. Now I have to start again.

“You idiot!” I yell toward the door, “you just completely ruined my one take recording!”

“You’ll get over it!”

I’ve been trying to perfect ‘Say You Won’t Let Go’ by James Arthur for weeks. The falsetto makes me pitchy. It’s hell. Of course when Jasper interrupted, the falsetto was going fantastically. Ugh.

“You’re never going to be famous anyway!” he added as an afterthought before retreating back to his own bedroom.

“GO AWAY!!” I screech even though I know he already has.

I’ve been uploading covers to YouTube for about 6 months. I love it. And in that time, I have accumulated 233 followers. It’s not a lot compared to some other musical youtubers, but it is still amazing to me.

My mum and bought me some great recording equipment like microphones, software and a camera for a combined Christmas and birthday present. It’s really nice knowing they support my dreams despite their reservations about the viability of this as a career. I guess I’ll just have to prove them wrong.

I stop the recording, delete it and start again.

“I met you in the dark, you lit me up

You made me feel as though I was enough”

I try to let the heartache leak and permeate through my voice and expression. I let the pain of the song ring around my room – let it transform from intangible to tangible.

I need this. I want this. This will be my life. This is what I dream.

Ignore Jasper. Ignore those who say I can’t. Use their words to fuel my fire.

I can do this.

***

A short one today!

See you Saturday! Don’t forget to follow me on social media!

Bookworm

Happy Saturday! A short story for you!

***

I was seven when I bought my very first book with my own pocket money. I had been eyeing it off for months and pestering my mother to please buy it. Its glossy dust jacket and strong hardcover boards sang to me over her claims that I must save up my pocket money.

I pressed it to my chest and told my mother there was no time and that another person would buy it from under my nose.

‘Well,’ she said, looking down at me with her hearty chestnut eyes, ‘you’ll have to start saving right away.’

Each week we went to the bookstore to visit my book. I cooed to it and brushed my palms across the spine, the cover and the pages. Each time I asked my mother to buy it and each time she would shake her head and help me do my sums to see how much more pocket money I needed.

‘Oh, it’s so close, Mum,’ I would say, even when it wasn’t.

‘Keep saving,’ she would say.

When I finally brought The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter to the counter, the lady there smiled down at me. Her eyes crinkled tightly in the corners and the irises were ice-blue.

‘Today’s the day,’ she said, ‘I hope I will see you again in here soon.’

‘I have it now. I don’t need another one.’

‘You might just,’ she said.

‘No. One is good.’

A couple of days later, I finished The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter. The dust jacket had become dull and I no longer wanted to clutch it as much as I did when it was under the bright lights in the shop. I wondered what stories the other books held. I never thought to look at the others each time I visited my book. What if there was another one that sang louder and with better timbre?

‘You’re back,’ the lady behind the desk said as the bells on the back of the door jangled my arrival.

I nodded, not stopping to chat.

‘I told you, you would want another one.’ She called after me.

I searched through every case to find a gleaming book—one that shadowed my other one.

I could hear my mother chatting quietly to the lady at the counter.

‘… it took her a couple of days. I have never seen her so captivated.’

What’s “captivated”? I thought as I pulled dull stories from the shelves and pushed them roughly back in. I scrunched my nose at Guinness Book of World Records. The cover gave an extravagant and exaggerated dazzle—it looked like the book I was looking for, but it couldn’t hold a note longer than a couple of seconds.

I tugged a copy of The Gruffalo out and with it came Where the Wild Things Are. They tumbled to the floor in my attempt to catch them both before they, inevitably, fell on the floor.

‘MUM!’ I bellowed across the store, ‘I FOUND THEM.’

‘Inside voice!’ she hissed from the counter, ‘What have you found?’

‘The books that I am going to buy next. Do I have enough money to buy them?’

I held out my money in my palm for her to see.

‘Let’s see,’ she said, shifting the coins around so we could count, ‘You have one dollar, two dollars, three dollars, and twenty, thirty, eighty cents. And you need,’ she turned the books over to see the price stickers, ‘$17.35 for The Gruffalo and $19.95 for Where the Wild Things Are. So you need $37.30 all together and you already have $3.80 so you need to save $33.50.’

My balloon of pride at finding my key-perfect books immediately deflated.

‘I’m never going to get that much!’

‘How about I give you $10 to get you started? Then when we get home we can make a pocket money chart like we did last time.’

‘Does that mean that I have enough money to buy one book?’

‘Not quite, but it’s closer.’

I nodded. I ran my fingertips over the covers of the books and placed them carefully back on the shelf.

‘I’ll be back soon.’ I whispered to them and followed my mother out of the store. I didn’t even say bye to the waving lady behind the counter.

It took me a couple of months to raise the money. I worked solidly doing chores around the house.

One night, elbows deep in the plastics drawer, my mother pulled me aside.

‘What are you doing, baby?’ she said, slowly prying a container from my hands.

‘I need five more dollars.’ I replied, trying to take the container back so I can put it in its appropriate pile.

‘You don’t have to do this now.’ He eyes had that look of pity in them.

‘But, I need my five dollars.’

‘What about,’ she said setting the container on the ground, and pulling me in for a hug, ‘I give you the five dollars now. You’ve earned it. You’ve been helping Dad and me around the house for so long, I think you deserve those last five dollars.’

‘Really?’ my face stretched into a wide grin, ‘Do you mean it?’

She nodded.

The next day, I walked into the bookstore, clutching my $33.50.

I don’t think I’ve ever looked back from that day.

***

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See you Tuesday!

Invisible People

I thought I would write a small short story for you today!!
Here goes!

***

Sometimes I think that, maybe, I’m too obvious – that people an read exactly who I am and what I have to offer. It’s frustrating. I thought that I may be a least a little more cryptic, or layered.

Sitting here, now, I can hear them talking. They speak as though I’m not in the room – invisible, unless expressly need.

‘Ugh. Horrible,’ Georgina, a girl I thought to be a friend, says suddenly.

‘Really?’ Her buddy, sitting close, replies with her eyebrows raised.

I stay as still as I can, as though any movement, even a wisp of wind will break the spell – the illusion that I am not there.

I like to tell stories. Maybe that’s why Georgina hates me. Because I have the propensity to extend my storytelling for hours on end. But all she needed to do was tell me to stop. I would have. It not like I can force her to listen.

The window, ajar, lets in a cool breeze that ripples across me. It’s nice – like blowing dust from a countertop in the kitchen of an abandoned house.

It’s been a while since someone let me tell stories to them. It’s not like I endeavour to bore them, sometimes people really love them. I’m good at it. But, like every story, they’re open to people’s interpretations and preferences. You can’t please everybody, right?

‘… so cliché …’ Georgina, is saying.

‘I’m not cliché!’ I want to scream at her, ‘how dare you?!’

Pride and Prejudice, though?’ Georgina smiles at her companion, ‘that was absolutely exquisite.’

***

There you go! Short. Sharp.
Tell me what you think!

See you Saturday!

Don’t forget the socials!

much love x

The First Snow

Oh, Hi, there,
Hey,
How you doin’?

It’s Saturday again… only two more Saturdays ’til the end of the year! … I think I might throw up.

Where has this year gone????!!!

Today I thought I would give you another creative piece … something to sink your teeth into this holiday season … cue courtesy holiday Insta snap *click*

It's tree day!! 🎄 #christmas #xmas #decoration #bauble #festive #santa #gold #christmastree #glitter

A post shared by Sarah (@azinsidehead) on

So … grab yourself a cup of tea, and let’s get on with it, shall we?

***

The First Snow

All she could hear was the soft crunch of her boots compressing the freshly fallen snow to the pavement. She knew that she shouldn’t have been out there. It was far too cold. But seeing the snow made her brain go fuzzy, and a smile to stretch as much as her face would allow.

It was ‘the first snow’ – that’s what her sister coined it. It was the most magical, the most vibrant, the most breathtaking. When she asked her sister, Naomi, why the first snow was all of these things, she had said just this:

‘Because it is, Poppy, it is.’

Poppy spent the next half an hour reading her encyclopaedia. If the first snow was coming tonight, she had to know why it had superpowers. But the encyclopaedia just said that snow was frozen rain. Boring!

Now, though, seeing it – being in it – she finally got it. The first snow. The garden had transformed – everything was covered in white. The shapes were less harsh and everything was so, so quiet.

‘Poppy!’ he mother called from the back door, ‘Time to come back inside!’

Poppy, cheeks rosy with the chilled air, plonked her bottom on the ground. Her parka puffing around her middle. She needed a few minutes longer.

‘Poppy!’ she heard her mother again.

Slowly, she peeled off her right glove, and stuck her entire hand in the snow beside her. The sensation was thrilling. It sent shivers up her spine and down to her toes. It looked so soft, like a puffy pillow, but it felt crisp and grainy – not to mention numbingly cold.

‘The first snow,’ she muttered, leaning back lie flat on her back, ‘The first snow.

***

There you have it! A bit of festive flash fiction for this Saturday!

I’ll see you Tuesday!

Stay safe

xx

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Hippy, Happy Birthday to me!

Hi, there! Yes, it is my birthday. Don’t ask me how old I am. I’m old. Let’s leave it at that.
In celebration of my birthday, I thought I would share a creative piece with you that I wrote a little while ago (about a year ago, now).

It’s another piece of historical fiction. Though it is based on non-fiction elements, I definitely too creative license with it, so please don’t use this information as part of your history assignment, or something, because some of it just ain’t true.

Anyway, it’s called ‘The Jewel’. I hope you enjoy it!

***

The Jewel

A jewel, thought she as she stood as still as she possibly could, must make a statement.

One of my predecessors, Anne Boleyn, wore a statement. It said: ‘We are Boleyn. We are no Tudor.’

She shifted from one foot to the other. The silk pumps she wore had no comfort left in them; the soles were wearing to a few strong and stubborn threads.

The artiste, had his brow furrowed, and he worked in silence. He knew his king’s rule. Though Henry forbade the artiste speak, she longed for a conversation to distract from her aching feet and her stiff limbs. It had been three hours, at least.

I long for a jewel that has statement, she wanted to say, what do you recommend for a queen with my complexion?

His eyes darted from his work to her, from her to his work. His arm seemed to move on an independent axis and flourished when she thought it would finally rest.

She thought of Anne’s necklace again. Though a simple ‘B’ with silky white pearls dangling from its base, it spoke those words to all who saw it. ‘We are Boleyn. We are no Tudor.’

Indeed, when she thought about having her own necklace made with a ‘P’ rather than a ‘B’, she was caused to consider how long it had been since ‘P’ was an accurate letter. First she was ‘P’, then ‘B’, then ‘N’, then ‘T’. So which did she choose?

Nay, this was Anne’s jewel. Henry must not be tormented.

At that moment, one of her ladies entered the chamber.

‘Jane,’ she addressed her subject, noticing a flush in the girl’s cheek, ‘is there something of urgency you wish me to know?’

‘Your Majesty,’ said her lady, ‘His Majesty wishes to speak with you.’

‘Does he know that my portrait is being took?’

‘Indeed, Your Majesty,’ she bowed her head a little, ‘but he is quite insistent.’

‘We shall resume later.’ She said to the stunned and disgruntled artiste behind his easel. He watched as his queen picked up layer upon layer of her skirts and whisked herself from the room. He scratched at the sores on his scalp.

She found her husband sitting in his bed, an array of physicians tending to the gaping wound in his leg.

‘My dear,’ she took note of how the infection had spread, ‘you wished to see me?’ She curtsied before her king.

‘Katherine,’ said he, ‘you must organise a feast. Find the best cooks. Dismiss the ones we have. I feel myself improving. It is cause for celebration, is it not? I want swan, goose, turkey, partridge, pheasant, and pork. Twelve courses. Entertainment, too. A dancing bear should do.’ He used all his strength to sit further upright.

‘Music. Find the best composers and minstrels. Invite the entire court. No wives. Can’t stand them, except you, of course. Make sure you see that Mary and Elizabeth are there so they may flaunt to the ambassadors. They must be married somehow and if they flaunt, the ambassadors report to their masters.’ He coughed, as though he were to bring up a horse, and continued speaking, ‘Of course, you must implore to all that I insist it must be perfect. I am king, after all. That will be all.’

She made her way to the door, which was held open for her to pass through uninhibited. Just before she stepped off the threshold, he spoke again, ‘Oh, and Katherine,’ she turned to see her husband, limp in his bed, ‘be sure to bring your ladies. The men of court love an ogle.’

‘Yes, my dear.’

Over the next week, she acquiesced to her husband’s requests as best she could.

She found a dancing bear and his master in a travelling fair. Though the master might be a little uncouth for a banquet of Henry’s taste, she was sure that he would be no trouble after completing his entertainment.

She had invitations designed and handcrafted by the artiste and sent express to the households of each member of court. She made sure to make it clear invitation did not extend to the ‘weaker’ sex.

Orders for hunting parties went out for ten swans, seven wild boar, fifty pheasants, five turkeys, eight venison, fifteen geese and thirty partridges to be shot, collected and brought to the kitchens.

She reviewed menus with the new cooks and settled on twelve courses including swan pie, roasted venison, glazed boar and a selection of fine sweet meats.

She spoke with composers about their new creations, and listened for hours to minstrels. Some she thought would make her ears bleed. A small group of musicians, about five or so, was decided on. They had strings and whistles which, she believed, would please Henry.

She did this as his chamber began to exude pungent odours and the sweat on his brow became thicker.

Thursday raced toward them all. She had a new gown fitted—a gold embroidered fabric that had flashes of ruby shades streaked throughout—and also had one fitted each for Mary and Elizabeth. They chose a deep and scorching red and a pale lilac respectively.

The one thing I missed, she thought, is a jewel to adorn my person.

As queen, she had many jewels to exhibit her status. Both stepdaughters bent over the cases, lifting and considering, deciding then returning. No jewel in the collection would suit the complexion nor the character of the woman they adorned. They sat upon the collarbone, dull and silent.

On Tuesday morning, Katherine sat as her lady wove her hair. The preparations were sorted on her part, now it was up to the servants. Her lady hummed a tune whilst she worked and Katherine shut her eyes to listen to the rise and fall. She smiled. Henry would be happy.

The door to her chamber burst open and knocked back upon its hinges as the bells began to chime outside.

Katherine’s smile left through the open door. Her hands were latched upon each other, and her lady dropped the hair she held. She would have to start again.

Two sets of four words tumbled from the mouth of the messenger.

Katherine forced her gaze from the reflection of the messenger in her looking glass to the reflection of herself.

Her skin was pale, but set in her face, now, were a set of jewels—ones that made statement.

I am free.

***

And there you have it, friends! As you know I love an ambiguous ending. How did you find this one? Too ambiguous? Not ambiguous enough? Let me know your thoughts and interpretations in the comments.

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See you Tuesday! Much love xxx

Falling

On Instagram yesterday, I announced that I am going to be posting twice weekly on here. I know, I know. I am asking for trouble. I barely get enough time to think/write/sit as it is, and I am pushing myself to write something twice a week. Wow. Can anyone say “glutton for punishment”? Actually, don’t. I don’t want to hear it. I can do this. I’ll show you!

So… as of today, I am posting every Saturday and Tuesday, right here on An A-Z From Inside My Head. DON’T MISS OUT! Come and hang out with me!

Today, I thought I would give you a little bit of flash fiction to be going on with. See if you can spot the inspiration behind the characters!

Enjoy!

 ***

‘Drink,’ she croaked, ‘You’ll feel better.’

Even flat on my back with covers under my chin, I felt the need to narrow my eyes at her, and perhaps, if she got close enough, slap her across the face.

‘I’ve been like this for days.’ I mumbled, ‘It’s not some miraculous cure. It’s a cup of tea.’

‘Tea has healing powers, dear.’ She placed the steaming cup on the bedside table and left the room.

Grandmothers are a special creature, though, when in the throes of illness, ultimately frustrating. She was hovering—trying to will me into recovery.

Suddenly, there was a slight rustling outside my window. My eyes gravitated toward the gap between the pane and the sill. Possible combative protection strategies raced through my mind, and all resulted in the same thing—horrific death.

‘Ow. Shit. Holy—’ a voice drifted through the window over the rustling.

This was it. This was how we were going to die. Cause of death: an injured, clumsy murderer.

‘Rachel! Ow! Son of a bitch!’ the voice continued.

Wait … how did they know my name?

‘Rachel! I think there’s a thorn in my— yup, there’s definitely a thorn in my hand.’

I raised an eyebrow, and stifled the urge to laugh.

‘Jack, is that you?’

‘Rachel! You’re home. Good.’ A tuft of blonde hair peeked above the window sill, shaking slightly with his efforts to climb, ‘Ow! This thing is so damn prickly!’

‘It’s a rose bush, Jack. Rose bushes usually have thorns.’

‘Whatever, clever clogs,’ his face came into view. It was red and sprinkled with perspiration.

‘Don’t look down,’ I smirked, knowing full well he was petrified of heights.

‘Ha ha,’ he expertly catapulted over the window sill and into the room.

‘Well done. You have about thirty seconds before Grandma comes in and asks what all the noise was.’

His triumphant face paled considerably; it swivelled on its axis desperately searching for a hiding spot. Settling on the space beneath my bed, he launched himself onto the floor and rolled into it just as the door swung open.

‘Did you hear that awful racket, dear?’

‘Yeah, grandma,’ I deadpanned, ‘I was just about to fall asleep. I think it must have been those kids next door.’

‘I have told that couple that they need to keep their kids under control!’ she wagged her finger in the direction of the open window, ignorant of my sarcasm, ‘But do they listen?’

She shuffled over to the window and yanked it down, shutting it with an almighty bang. I felt Jack’s head hit the underside of my mattress, causing a loud scoff to escape from my lips.

‘What is it, dear?’ Grandma turned to face me, ‘Are you feeling alright?’

‘I’m fine,’ I cleared my throat, ‘Just a tickle.’

‘Okay,’ she nodded solemnly, ‘I’ll leave you to sleep.’

And, thus, she waddled from the room again.

Jack let out a dramatic sigh and slid out into view again.

‘What have you done to yourself?’ he gingerly placed himself on the bed and brushed a couple of strands of hair out of my eyes.

‘I fell.’

‘Off what? A three-storey building?’

I chuckled, ‘Something like that.’

‘Does it hurt?’

‘Not right at this minute,’ I murmured, ‘I’m pretty heavily dosed on pain killers.’

‘You’re high?’ he laughed.

No … just … painless.’

‘Well … school hasn’t been the same without you.’

‘I’m sure it’s surviving without me.’

‘It’s not nearly as fun.’

‘Oh, you’re fine.’ I nudged his shoulder with my fingertips, ‘big baby.’

He ran his fingers through his hair, and exhaled softly.

‘What are we going to do?’

‘I’m coming back to school in a week. You’ll survive that long, right?’ my bottom lip jutted out, mockingly, ‘Or is Bruno picking on you?’

His look of reply implied that I was close to being punched.

‘How is Bruno, anyway?’

I was sure that Bruno had been horrible to Jack—he always was. But I missed him. He could always make me laugh.

‘He’s fine, I guess.’ Jack mumbled.

After a moment’s silence, he raised himself from the bed. He looked down at me, opening and closing his mouth like a fish, then turned away.

‘I’ll see you next week, I guess,’ He grumbled before heaving the window upward.

‘Jack! Come on! It was a joke!’

‘Look,’ he abruptly spun on his heel, ‘I came here to see if you were ok. I hadn’t heard from you, and I was worried.’

‘You aren’t my boyfriend!’ I found myself shouting.

‘That may be!’ he bellowed back, ‘But let me ask you this: has he come to see you? Called you? Texted you?’

I fell quiet and stared at my hands.

‘That’s what I thought. See you around, Rachel.’

And, with that, he flipped his legs out the window and jumped.

***

There you have it!

Let me know in the comments if you have placed the inspiration behind the characters! I’d be interested to hear who you think they stem from!

I will see you next Tuesday for another post.

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Much love! xxx

P.S. My next A-Z post needs to start with I. Any ideas?

Regrets

In terms of regrets, this one is the most trivial, yet hurts the most.

When you’re in school, you don’t really understand the implications of your actions. You don’t understand that when you walk past a teacher’s office yelling whilst they are conducting a meeting with someone that you have just completely disturbed and disrupted a very important conversation. You don’t understand that your teacher is putting their blood and sweat and tears into giving you exactly what you need in order to be successful. They care. They want you to do well. And yet …

I didn’t realise how much my lack of effort would affect me later in life. In saying that, I have done alright for myself. I still have a job, I have a place to live, but I wonder, if I tried harder and got better grades, whether I would be better off in life.

The thing is, I realise now, that I literally had everything at my fingertips. I had people to help, I had email addresses and phone numbers that I could use for support outside of school hours, and still I ignored everything that was given to me.

I found the work difficult. That’s why I disconnected. It was too hard, so I stopped trying. I remember the very moment I made the decision. I was in a math class. Mr Newman was going through “basic” algebra. I could hear that there were word coming out of his mouth, but he may as well have been speaking Swahili to me. Every dot and squiggle on the white board was a hieroglyph.

“Any questions?” he asked when he had finally finished his lengthy explanation.

Many. I have all the questions, I had thought.

I just stared at the board like someone had told me that my dog had died. No matter how hard I tried to comprehend the x’s and y’s, I couldn’t understand how if y=2x+3, then somehow you get a straight, diagonal line on a plane.

As far as I was concerned, if you befriended a pilot, and got a sharpie and a ruler, you could easily get a straight diagonal line on a plane without x’s and y’s even remotely coming into the equation.

Only half of my year level got into university courses. Most of the girls pursued nursing, and the boys spread themselves over engineering, sciences, and arts.

Harry, my best friend, he went into culinary school. He made new friends there, and I haven’t really heard from him since.

Me? I bounced around from job to job – trying to find my niche, not really knowing what direction to go in. It was like being a little kid again, getting lost in a mass of people. You could go to the place that says ‘Information’, surely they would be able to help; but you thought you saw a red jacket just like the one your mum was wearing over there, which isn’t by ‘Information’ at all; but you have ten dollars in your pocket which could easily buy you a couple of tries on the rotating clown heads; but didn’t Dad say that it would be better to stay in the same spot until your mum realises that you’re gone and comes to find you?

In my case, though, it was: oh, there’s a job going at the local building company; but maybe I’d be a better plumber; then again, this electrical job pays alright and I already know what I’m doing … do I really want to go through training again?

Hindsight. It’s like believing in magic. You never actually believe that it exists, until you see something that makes you realise that what you thought is not actually how it is.

It’s easy to sit in a classroom, and think that not completing that assignment or that exercise is not going to make a difference – and maybe not completing one won’t, but when it’s assignment after assignment and exercise after exercise, I realise now that the only person you are failing is yourself.

The bottom line is, as my English teacher used to say, it’s your life. People can push you and pester you to do your work and get it in on time; they can try to help you to make things easier in completing that work. But actually doing that work? Well … that’s up to you.

A/N: I’d like to point out, this is a work of fiction…
If you would like to read my non-fiction views on jobs and occupations click here.

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Stresses

The weight presses down on my shoulders, as I struggle to stumble forward. At this point, I want to curl up into a ball and just… Well…

I can imagine that anyone watching me would assume that my body was just randomly failing – no visible reasons for such a dramatic demise.

‘Are you okay?’ Pete quietly asks from somewhere to my left.

‘Give me a minute,’ I huff, stopping and putting my palms on my slightly bent knees.

‘You should really…’ he begins.

‘Give. Me. A. Minute. Okay?!’

‘Alright!’ he puts his hands up in surrender, though obviously disgruntled at the admonition.

Once I had regained my breath, I slowly straightened.

‘Kate…’ he started again, ‘You should really do something about that. You don’t have to bear the weight of all this on your own.’

‘I’m fine,’ I mumble.

‘You’re obviously not.’

‘I’m fine. I can do this. It’s just a bit of stress. I can handle it.’

The ball, somewhere in my lungs, tightens again; it takes on the air that I am desperately trying to inhale.

‘I’ve got a lot going on,’ I choke out.

Pete chuckles, ‘You always have a lot going on.’

My frown slowly transforms into a half-smile.

‘Yeah, well,’ I shrug, ‘Life is full of shit.’

We continue walking. The ball in my lungs isn’t quite gone but Pete’s rapid transgression to the pros and cons of Pokemón Go has me distracted enough to make it manageable.

‘It’s not all shit, though,’ Pete abruptly swerved the conversation again, ‘right?’

‘No,’ I smile, taking his hand, ‘not all of it.’