Half a Haibun 1

Half a haibun a collaborative project between 10000hoursleft.wordpress.com and other bloggers part 1 - the unhappy wife with K E  Garland

The two bedroom apartment and the job I had were because of Thom. We built a life together: eating breakfast, driving to work, eating lunch, returning home, eating dinner. His reliable presence smothered me.

But the alternative was to return home.

“Now, will you marry me?”

Why not, I thought.

love’s blind artisan

stokes furnace, raising ashes

thirst’s empty vessel

brimming in complicity

Madame Pele’s dormant wrath

 

Tanka inspired by an extract from The Unhappy Wife, by Dr K E Garland. The book is a fictionalised account of the real lives of 12 women who are/were in unhappy marriages, and includes an afterword by relationship coach Anita Charlot. The extract is from Chapter 4, capturing the world of one of the ‘voiceless’ wives. I am currently reading my paperback copy and loving the insight into the characters and unique circumstances that have caused the dysfunction in each relationship. Kathy has done a great job distilling the essence of her wives (as she calls them) and painting their unique shades of unhappiness in an engaging read.  If you’d like to order yourself a copy, head to kegarland.com.

This is the first of an ongoing (and occasional) feature, called  Half a Haibun. I look forward to getting stuck into this collaborative project, with bloggers I admire submitting prose that I will use as inspiration for a tanka or haiku. The intention being that together, we’ll create a whole; 2 halves converging to add a richness and complexity to one another, in the form of a haibun. Look out for more from December 2016 onward, as my November is all about THIS.

After Forever

Photo of an outdoor wedding setting and a swing, green lawn used as a microfiction writing prompt
Photo by Ben Rosett

Today is our wedding anniversary- Mr & Mrs Billingup; a date I’ll never forget, curved round my ring finger with his initials, the permanence of ink marking the impulse of a fleeting moment. Looking at it now, I can laugh at that tired old joke my girlfriends used to make, the BB of Bryan’s initials implying a best before date. Holding the last of the photographs, I wished away all traces of that day as I threw it on the fire and watched the edges curl to weightless ashes.

 

Inspired by Sonya’s Three Line Tales, Week Thirty Seven.

The Unhappy Wife

photo of author Katerin E Garland and cover for book The Unhappy Wife, used as image for an inteview with the author
Cover image and photograph courtesy of K E Garland, used with permission.

A Conversation with Dr. K E Garland

Dr. Katherin E Garland (writer/ academic / blogger / my friend) has just published The Unhappy Wife, a book of short stories based on the real lives of 12 women in marital discontent.

The closest I’ve come to marriage is having a partner who is a wedding photographer. With or without the ring, however, relationships have their ups and downs: sometimes they work; sometimes we invest in the work to make them work; sometimes we walk away; and sometimes, we remain – unhappily.

Over the weekend, Kathy and I chatted about her book, the writing process, and insights on love and relationships.


Continue reading

Expectations

Image of cupcakes on a tier wth white creme topping used as a prompt for a flash fiction story
Photo by Stephanie McCabe

Proposal, ring, dress, venue, invitations, flowers, hair and makeup, photographer, seating arrangements, navigating family politics- a never-ending to-do list along the well-trodden path espoused by wedding planners, magazines, her girlfriends who’d gone before her, and of course, her mother.

Looking through the tiered treats at the smiling faces, giddy from champagne and sugar, she wondered whether this milestone, her bridal shower, was going to be the one, the last hurdle before she has the guts to call the whole thing off and throw herself off the trajectory she’d been riding on autopilot.

The call was getting harder with growing expectations and mounting debt; sighing, she took another cupcake, after all, there was another fitting to accommodate fluctuations between now and then.

 

Written in response to Sonya’s Three Line Tales, Week 20. It’s a fun challenge- Sonya has a knack for selecting beautiful photos that inspire so many different stories. Half the fun is reading what others come up with – join in if you have time!

The Ephemeral Lie

image of tumbleweed for week 6 in the 10 week series exploring old blog posts. this week's entry is a post inspired by a prompt with 7 words, and is titled 'the ephemeral lie'.

This week’s edition in our 10 week sojourn through the tumbleweed is a post inspired by a writing prompt that required seven specific words be included (actually called ‘seven stupid words’ by the prompt creator). Each word had a way of leading my imagination along twists and turns until I found the path that allowed each one to fit in with some semblance of a cohesive story.

If writing in response to prompts were a sport, this prompt would be considered an extreme sport. What were the words? Well, that would be telling! I’m interested in knowing if you can pick the words – particularly if any of them stand out as being contrived, in amongst my usual vocabulary. I won’t be offended if you get the words wrong!

Click on the image to be transported through the tumbleweed. Watch your step, and be prepared to broaden your linguistic horizons! Oh, and pack a dictionary! That is, if like me, you have no idea what ‘fealty’ means (well, I do now, and I’ve just given away one of the words). Bonus points if you know what a pineapple is, and move to the next level if you do your take on the same challenge and post a link in the comments- go on, what have you got to lose?

If you want to read other posts in the series, look in menu item ‘travel through the tumbleweed’.

Enjoy the ride!

The Ephemeral Lie

“I got a call from Tristan earlier. Said he’d received an interesting message from you”

Janette picked up on the challenge in his tone, even though he was trying to be nonchalant. They’d been married 14 years, and she knew all the nuances of his voice, and what feelings were bubbling below the surface, regardless of what the words may imply. Sometimes the most banal things he muttered had an insidious undertone.

“Oh, right. Didn’t know it was that interesting, I just sent him a pic on Snapchat of the cookies I baked for the Jamboree”

Tristan was the scout leader and had recruited as many parents as possible to volunteer for the upcoming Jamboree- baking, donating items to be auctioned, sewing costumes and all manner of ways in which they could raise money. Janette had done her bit and baked a large batch of triple chocolate chip cookies- sans the weed she normally put in them for the occasional garden party with the ladies.

“Don’t play dumb with me” Bryan didn’t bother hiding the emotion now.

Janette continued with the task at hand, finely chopping carrots, slightly irritated by Bryan’s insistence on talking and pussyfooting about. Dinner was at least 30 minutes off, meaning she’d be there for a while and an unwilling audience to Bryan’s BS. Sighing, she replied “Bryan, just spit it out, what are you getting at?”

“Really? Really Janette? You have no idea? Can you do better than tell me it was a picture of cookies?”

The saucepan of water she’d put on to blanch the carrots was bubbling and boiling vigorously. Without the exhaust fan on, a whirl of dense steam cut through the terse exchange between the two of them. Janette really had no idea what he was on about. The truth was, she thought she’d sent the picture of the cookies to Tristan.

Thrusting his phone in her face, Bryan revealed a damning screen shot of a Snapchat message. Janette’s hand dropped the knife with a clang on the wooden chopping board, sending neatly chopped carrots flying. Betraying the ephemera of Snapchat, the screenshot showed Janette’s hand in frame beside a mirror, a rolled up pineapple, a credit card, and a few lines she’d prepared earlier. Her secret was out. Bryan wasn’t meant to know about her dabbling in narcotics. His role was to fund her lifestyle; come home to dinner, and the charade of a nice middle class family; and, ask no questions. Hands trembling, Janette felt her world unravel. He wouldn’t stand for this, and he would destroy her now, pulling the rug out from under the comfortable lie she’d been living all this time. That message had been intended for Trent, her dealer, who was also Bryan’s best friend. She’d sworn fealty to Trent, using him as her sole dealer, provided he kept Bryan busy when she was partying. Trent was key to keeping her two worlds separated, but now it was crumbling, just like those damn cookies that she must have sent in the chat to him instead of to Tristan.

 

Broaden your linguistic horizons and use these seven words in your story: insidious, blanch, narcotic, fealty, jamboree, ephemera, pussyfoot (prompt from here)