Full Tanka: I Walk


Traditional tanka contain five lines instead of haiku’s three, and 31 syllables instead of 17. The structure is that of a haiku followed by two additional lines of seven syllables each: 5-7-5-7-7.


What glory in fields

And delight in child blue sky.

What wonder in sun

And wind fresh from distant sea.

I walk from troubles to peace.

Weekly Writing Challege: Power of Names: What Verity means to Sam


noun: verity; plural noun: verities

  1. 1. a true principle or belief, especially one of fundamental importance.

Sam had had no idea what he was getting himself into by joining the army.  He had thought it would be a good profession with a good pension and that he would be good at it.  When he thought back now, there was a cockiness and an arrogance about him, god save his soul, but he had wanted action, adventure and excitement.  He had wanted to hold a gun, and to be put through the intense training.  He sometimes hated that young boy that asked for the torturous existence in which he now lived.   When you first go out to combat, in the planes and ships, you feel a sense of such power, you feel strong, invincible even; they made you feel that way; they had you all fired up and everyone believed that they were going in to fight for good.  Slowly the realisation came for most of them, that there was no sense of value for the individual human life, not of the enemy and not of the soldiers.  They were all dispensable.  The feeling of power was short lived.   When they arrived on land and went out to the front line, there was such a feeling of emptiness, of nothingness, and then fear filled that vacuum and there was no space for anything else.  Nothing strips you bare like fear.

It was like running into an unknown hell world. Your wildest imagination could not describe it. The earth seemed to bleed beneath the soles of the soldiers boots.  It felt like there were demons waiting in shadow in the buildings.  You could not see them, but you could feel their presence, they were waiting for you.  Then a bomb would go off; an explosion of dirt and helmets and limbs.  You saw faces you knew lying in the dirt, dead.  You tried to move forward with the rest of your battalion but like those dreams where you cannot move your limbs no matter how hard you try, you slowly get a few steps forward and then you a bomb throws you to the ground and all around you men fall and fall and fall.  All the time you are shooting at these unseen entities, you shoot at mounds of earth, at bushes, at windows, at the air.  The air becomes a mixture of black and fire.  Eventually you worm your way in closer, and closer and suddenly the guns have faces and they are looking right at you, and their eyes hate and these are the faces of the men who have killed your friends, who have blown your friends bodies to pieces and you do not realise at the time, but your eyes hold the same hate.  In a blind rage you roar and you shoot, and you shoot and someone shouts “keep moving forward, keep moving forward” and you do, but all you can see are the eyes of the man you just and blood.  It all happens so quickly that there is no time to process anything, all that stays with you are the sounds and the images, the chorus of groans and cries, the sound of bones crunching, the sound of blood and flesh, the mixture of black and red all over the ground, the eyes, always the eyes of dying men.

When you return from the war zone and it is all over, you are relieved, and you try to pretend that none of that just happened, as though you had just watched it on a movie and it was not real.  You pretend you are the same person you were before, but you are kidding yourself.  You kid around with your mates, you all make jokes about things, but you are a shell.   Some soldiers cannot pretend and cannot forget.  Once they have been out there, they are lost out there and they can never come back.  The change in them is almost instant. Their soul is out there on the killing field looking in shame at the bowels of humanity.  The only thing left in their hearts is rage and hate and that is all you can see in their face, it is there even when they look at you, their comrade, their friend, they have the same hate in their eyes for you as they do the enemy.   It scares you because you do not know what they might do, but what scares you most is that you know that the rage in their eyes is also in you and one day you might not be able to come back either.  Like your friend, you will be lost in a hell in the past, desperately looking for a friendly face and finding only loathing and fear.


When you get home, you are safe and unharmed when so many of your friends are dead.  You wonder why you survived when others perished.  You think about your friends who have died and you feel like somehow you cheated at something and that at any moment someone is going to realise that they made a mistake and realise that you were not supposed to live and at any moment you will receive a bullet in the head.  You would welcome it.  You did not deserve to live, others deserved to live more than you did.  Perhaps it would have been easier or more just if you had all lived or died together.   There is nothing easy or just about war, there is no reason or understanding.  It is not right that some live and some die, not in a squad, not when they have all experienced such horror together.  It is unjust and unfair, and they should not have died and for the rest of your days, you have to walk around looking for them, screaming their names in the desert, hearing them shout your name in your sleep, hearing their cries for help in crowded streets where there is no place for them.  You can never be free of these men, these friends who you realise you loved better than anyone else and better than you will ever love anyone again.  You carry them around on your back like your pack.

The men you killed.  You never talk about that.  No one does and no one wants to hear.  You do not even talk about it to yourself in your own mind.  Think of your worst memory, something that makes your stomach sink and shame rush through you veins every time you think of it.  It does not come close.  The memory of looking into a man’s eyes as you take his life is like slaughtering your own soul.  It is like looking into the darkest part of your own soul, a part you should never see.  It never leaves you.  It hangs over you.  You can try to push the memory away, but it always finds its way back.  It will appear in your head randomly at any time and it is exhausting.

In the end, Sam thought, it did not matter whether it was right or wrong to fight for your country.  It did not matter whether on the grand scale of things you were doing something for the greater good.  The politics did not matter, the real reasons for the war, be it for oil or for religion or for human rights do not matter.  It does not even matter whether it made any difference to the countries that you were supposedly helping, although Sam along with many other soldiers never saw much sign of it helping, not in the Far East.  It did not matter anyway, all that mattered was that every soldier and every person innocent or otherwise who has been touched by war is tainted by death and that a darkness that you see there follows you around forever.  All that mattered to Sam was that the things he did were wrong, the things he saw were wrong and no one ever says it like that.  It tortured him.

Sam had never came out and told Verity any of this, but he knew she knew he had been in the war on the front line and he knew that unlike some people, she was honest with herself about what went on in a war.  She was the kind of person who really thought about these things, and tried to understand what it must be like for all involved, for the victims and the soldiers.  She tried to imagine what it must feel like to see so much death, to have killed.  He knew she knew.   He would always try and push those thoughts away even though Verity told him not too, instead he would think of Verity and imagine her smiling and then it would lead elsewhere and he would eventually get to sleep.  He was not sure if he was in lust or in love with Verity, but he desperately wanted to be around her all of the time and sometimes all he could think about was kissing her.  It stirred in him a boiling desire that it was hard for him to control.  She seemed oblivious to it, he never could figure out women.  She was kind and attentive to Sam, but she was the same with everyone, that was her nature.  He just could not stop thinking about her.  He thought maybe it was just close proximity and being around her so much, it was driving him crazy but at the same time, it felt like it was the only thing that was keeping him going.  He wondered if she had any idea.

Ah, Verity, Verity.  Her name meant to so much to him.  It was melodic.  He felt shy saying it because it meant so much to him, so he called her V instead.  It was so simple yet it epitomised her.


Everything she said, everything she did spoke the truth.  It was impossible not to believe in everything she said.  If she was a god he would have faith in her, he would kneel before her and ask for her love and forgiveness and he knew she would give it gladly.  She looked like her name as well, her face spoke of her feelings with subtlety and although you had to look closely to read it, it never lied.   She often smiled, not just with her mouth, but also with her grey blue eyes.  When she looked into your eyes it felt like she was taking your pain away.  She was so kind and she never judged.  At times there was a real sadness and a tiredness in her eyes.  She hated hearing about injustices, about people being treated unfairly, she hated hypocrisy and lies. She always said that these things would always exist in the world but that you had to understand that the people who behaved in these ways deserved your compassion, because they were so far behind you in the journey for their soul.  She said that life was a journey on a long road and the purpose of your journey was to create a soul that you can love completely, that loves all souls and that exists in peace.  She said it was your own responsibility to create yourself in this way, that it took many lives before you even began on the journey and that once you were on it, it never ended, but you learn that the road is the purpose and that the experience of the journey can be heaven. She said that if you felt guilt or shame, or sadness or pain, you were on the right path, you just had to persevere.  You had to learn to forgive and love yourself first, on your own and then you project that love and forgiveness onto everyone else, even the people who have strayed from their paths. She had such a way of putting these things.  It just quite simply made sense and it meant that perhaps Sam was not damned after all.

Verity, Verity, if Sam could just learn how to be like that, calm and peaceful and accepting.  He saw how she was and he knew it was how he should be, but he did not know how.  He had nightmares that he had not faced, that he felt he was not strong enough to face.  It was one thing to understand, and another to experience.  He could not forgive himself, he did not know how, how could he?  He knew at the time somewhere inside of himself that what was going on around him was wrong, he knew it but he did what he was ordered to do anyway.  There were people who could have been saved, soldiers, civilians, innocent people.  There were people who did not need to die.  He saw mothers cradling their children in their arms, their husbands dead in their own homes. He had held men in his arms dying, crying for their mothers. How could you get those images out of your head? The wailing in your ears, the screams, how could you forget those sounds.  How could he ever, even if he could see these people again, express to them how sorry he was, how awful he felt about what had happened to them, about what he had let happen.  How could anyone forgive him?  Verity would not forgive him if she knew, not if she knew truly.   What if she could though?  He often wondered that. What if he could manage to get the words out and explain to her what had went on, what he had seen, what he had done.  Could she possibly really forgive him, still care for him?  Did he not represent everything she hated about the world?  Would she not think him weak and pathetic if he broke down and cried?  Would he ever be able to look her in the face again without shame?

  “Oh Verity, help me, help me get all of this pain out.  I can’t take it anymore”  he silently begged her before sleeping every night, as though he could will her to hear his pleading.



Weekly Writing Challenge: Golden Years: Stolen Children


Olivia was eight years old when they took her away from her mum and dad.  She was a child, who was only just beginning to learn about the world and how it worked.  Before the lights went out all she wanted was to make her family and her friends happy.  She was an active child and went to karate, gymnastics and dancing.  She was good at these things because she was never afraid.  She liked performing the most; reciting poems, singing and dancing.  She told her aunt Verity many times “I want to be a singer and dancer” and Aunt Verity would always say, “You can be anything you like darling, all you have to do is believe that you can” and Olivia did believe.  She was excited about growing up and being able to do all the exciting things adults could do.  She loved learning about things and easily understood her lessons at school.   She really was a lucky little girl and she felt loved.  She was also very thoughtful and kind, especially for a child her age.  She liked giving people things and never asked for too much.  She listened to her mum and dad even if she thought they were being silly.  She was a good little girl and she was happy.

That was until they took her and her brother away.  Olivia could not really remember a lot about what had happened just before that.  She remembered everything being normal and going to school, going to her classes, she remembered Aunt Verity coming to stay over and playing games with her and listening to her saying poems and singing and her mum being so happy to see her.  She remembered being very sad when Aunt Verity was away but knew she would see her again soon and loved talking to her on Skype when she was in Australia.  Somehow though, very quickly everything started to change and her parents started talking in hushed voices all the time and being so serious.  Olivia can remember vaguely people around her, her parents, her gran and papa, her auntie Lana, her teachers all talking quietly to each other whenever there were kids around.  She remembered all the adults watching the news all the time and telling Olivia to shush a lot.  Her dad used to tell her everything she asked about things that were going in the world, but he just seemed to stop doing that and Olivia could just sense that something was wrong.  All of a sudden things changed very quickly and everything seemed very panicked and on the news they kept talking about the oil running out and the lights going out in other countries and then came the day that she will never forget.

Olivia had not been at school for a while, maybe it was a week, her child mind could still not tell how much time was passing, but she was in the house with her mum, her dad and Jack house and the TV went grey and then black and it was all very quiet.  Her mum and dad were sitting in the kitchen drinking tea and talking quietly again, telling Olivia to go out of the room when she came in to ask what was happening and when she would be going back to school.  She had this feeling that something awful was happening and it was all the more frightening because nobody would tell her what it was.  Her tummy was feeling sick.  Jack, her little brother was being even more difficult than usual and his tantrums were more frequent because he was getting no attention.  Olivia was being a little nicer to him then because they were both scared and it felt better to at least have someone.

Suddenly she heard a van coming round into the street and a lot of doors started banging and then there was shouting and crying.  Someone banged on the door very loud.  Olivia just froze at first, the knock was different.  It was loud and sharp and it sounded serious.  There was silence throughout house.  Her mum and dad were still in the kitchen but they did not move.  Olivia and Jack had been playing in the living room and ran through to the kitchen to their parents.  Her mum was sitting at the kitchen table, eyes wide and face frozen.  Her dad was standing up, but still and his face was such as Olivia had never seen before, he was scared and that made Olivia feel a dread she had never felt before.  She simply looked up at him and Jack started to cry.  Her dad knelt down quickly to Jack and said severely “Jack, you have to be quiet now. Go to mummy”.

Her mum took Jack in her arms, held him, and began to cry too and rock a little.  The door banged again and still her dad stood there, thinking.  He took a deep breath looked at her mum and started walking out of the kitchen.

“No Jake. Noooo” begged her mother in a wail.  “I’ll handle this Elis” he stated his face as serious as ever.

Her dad answered the door and had started to say “How can I help you?” when several men barged through the door.  Her dad was strong and muscly but Olivia could hear scuffling in the hall as he tried to stop them coming in.  She heard further noises of a struggle and shouting.  Olivia began to cry too and ran to her mother and Jack.  They all held onto each other, all three of them just sobbing and grabbing on to each other.  Olivia remembered looking at her mother’s face and seeing such an utter helplessness there.  She had not understood at the time, but her mother was in despair and was paralysed with fear.  It seemed like a long time they all sat there in the kitchen holding on to each other and crying, Jack now wailing.  The men burst through the kitchen door, her dad behind them still trying to fight them off but they kept pushing and punching him out of the way.  Olivia saw blood.  The men came towards the three of them and still Elise held on to her two children with a great force, she was hurting Olivia now, but Olivia only held on tighter.  She looked at the faces of the men their faces were as forceful as their actions and their eyes were blind to hers.  She hated them.

“Nooo. Nooo. Nooo.  Nooo” her mother cried again and again and again, tears falling among the cries and wails all over the kitchen table.  Olivia began to scream as the men’s hands were upon her and her brother, pulling, pulling them away, all just a blur of limbs and salt and screaming and pain in Olivia’s young mind.  She could no longer really see what was happening she just feel the hands grabbing her arms and pulling her, the sounds of her mother crying and sobbing and screaming doing something to Olivia inside that would change her forever.

Somehow the men pried Olivia and Jack away from their screaming mother and their dad was lying on the floor beaten by the men, defeated.  Olivia looked over the shoulders of the man who was carrying as the men carried her to the front door and the cold air outside.  “Dad, daddy, help, help daddy” Olivia yelled tears soaking the shirt of the man who had her over his shoulder, she was kicking and hitting him now, hitting him in the face, but he was like a bull and did not stop.

“Daddy will find you.  Daddy will find you.  Daddy will find you”  repeated her daddy, his face so contorted with blood and sadness.  That was the last Olivia could remember, of her childhood and night after night after night every time she went to sleep those words circled around in her head, “Daddy will find you. Daddy will find you.  Daddy will find you”.

They had taken her to a school underground and the children told that a massive flood was coming and that no one on the ground would survive.  Later teachers taught them about what had happened to the world, about how they had used up all the oil, how humans had caused global warming which had caused the flood.  Olivia listened to the lessons, but she inwardly she questioned everything they told her.  She had heard the rain and the water overhead not long after they had arrived at the school and been aware of a change in the air, so she believed that the flood had happened, but she also knew that they were lying to her about a lot of things, and she could not believe that there was no one left outside or that God was punishing them the way they said, she believed God was good and that whatever had happened, there was a reason for it and a reason she was still alive and still sane.

She had been in the school for ten years now and daddy had not found her but she had never given up hope that she would find him and her mother.  She had to at least try to find her mother, she just had this feeling that she was out there somewhere thinking horrible things about what had happened to Jack and Olivia, and she could not bare the thought of her mother living in such pain.  If there was anything or anyone outside, Olivia had to find out, because if her mother was alive, she had to know that Olivia and Jack were still alive so that she could have peace.  That thought kept Olivia going.

She was no longer a child, but she had not progressed through her childhood and teenage years in a slow transgression the way she should have, with all the mistakes and experiences and emotions of growing up.  She had been ripped from her childhood in an instant like a tree from its roots and she was never the same since.  Olivia was now eighteen years old, but she was not adult nor teenager, nor child.

The children in the school had never stepped outside in the world since the day they were taken away from their families.  They were not allowed to play or socialise or interact like humans.  They had lessons together, meals together, exercise together, but always under the watchful eyes of the teachers and they were never allowed to talk freely to each other or to the teachers.  They were not shown affection or nurtured or shown real love.  They slept in bunks on their own, separated from each other.  Most of them had retreated into themselves and did what was necessary to appease the teachers and pass their tests.  It was as though their souls were dead.  They functioned like human beings, but they did not act like human beings.  The existed without living, that was how it seemed to Olivia.  She was not even allowed to interact with her brother although she had seen him at some of the classes.  She could not tell anymore if he knew her or not.  The younger children had been kept separately from the older ones for a long time, until they forgot Olivia supposed.

Olivia’s soul was not dead.  She was like a snake lying in the desert as still as a stone, waiting for an opportunity.  She was forever changed by what had happened to her, but not broken in the way some of the other children seemed to be.  They had this vacant look in their eyes.  Olivia’s face would not give away anything to anyone, but if anyone had looked closely enough, right down in the back of her eyes was a burning; not a naked wild flame, but a deep depths of the earth burning that would never go out and that only grew outwards the more she understood and the older she got.

Without sunlight and without life, the children still looked like children, their faces far too youthful and their bodies not fully grown, but they were not children.


Olivia had lost childhood the minute she was taken from her mother so violently but she also knew that really she was as old as the earth.  Innocence was gone, love was gone but passionate earthly fire was not, the fury of injustice was not.  It was not something that could be taught or that grew or that could be taken away, it was like the energy in the stars, it had always been there and always would be there and Olivia had decided that it was time to let some of it out.  She was getting out of the school and she was taking her brother with her, and no one was going to stop her.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Threes – Tori Sinks with the Sun




Tori had been riding for several hundred miles, and her bike started choking.  The power was running out.  Tori kept going.  She was in a blind race now, whatever the external circumstances were, she would keep going.   She would not stop.  There was a thought somewhere in the back of her mind that she was damaging her beloved bike, but it was not a thought that registered anywhere.  She kept riding it until it slowed down and she had to get off.  She threw the bike to the ground and started running.  She knew that the distance she had made up between her and the cowboy on the bike would be lost very soon now that she was running and he was on horseback.  She ran anyway.

Tori was a fit girl, she was physically active nearly all of the time and was no stranger to running.  She was about to test herself.  She ran hard at first, taking long strides and lightly springing off the ground from one foot to the other.  In the beginning she was strong.  She wasn’t sure how much time had passed, but the sun was still hot and it had gotten pretty high.  It always felt like a lot more time had passed when you were running, especially in the beginning.  She had always found that the first half an hour was the hardest, and if you could push through that, you got into a rhythm that you could maintain for quite a while without too much trouble.  She also had a great deal of adrenaline pumping through her blood stream which was helping her push herself that bit more than she usually would.

Her powerful strides started to slacken off as her heart felt the pressure of pumping so much blood to her lungs.  She had to purposely breathe deeply in through her nose and out through her mouth, making her chest expand and stomach protrude on the way in and back in on the way out.  She had learned that it would slow down her heart and make the run more comfortable until she got over that feeling that she had to stop because she was too out of breath.  Her body and her vital organs were not aware yet, put her mind knew she would be running for a long time.  Most likely longer than she had ever ran before.  She waited for the panting to stop and the heart beat to come back down a little as she concentrated on breathing.  Eventually it did and although her pace had slackened off a little, she got into a steady rhythm that she could keep up for some time.

At this point, her mind could separate from what her body was doing.  The movement of her legs had become as regular as or perhaps more regular than her breathing and she could think about other things.  In fact, it was the only way she could keep going for any length of time.  Her first thought was of the cowboy and how far behind her he might be, but she knew that allowing herself to succumb to the fear that he produced in her would make her heartbeat get too fast and the run would become unbearable again, so she pushed that thought to one side for now and searched her mind for something more pleasurable.  She at once thought of Jo and pictured the pleasantness of her face and the warm feeling it gave Tori thinking about her.  She saw in her mind Jo laughing, and then dancing to that hip hop music she had on that music thing, bouncing like a child.  It made Tori smile.  She thought of the inviting way Jo looked at you, waiting patiently for you to give her something.  Tori was never sure at first exactly what she was expecting, but apparently just talking to her was enough.  Tori felt like someone else when she was with Jo, in Tori’s mind anyway.  She felt at ease, she felt like a young child again, she could laugh, she could be stupid. No one Tori had ever met had made her feel like that since as long as she could remember.

She tried to remember back to when she must have felt that way as a child.  She couldn’t really remember any specific instance or memory of feeling like that, but she was sure she must have felt it at some time.  The feeling was familiar to her although long forgotten.  She could only remember that feeling disappearing.  Like she must have been feeling that way, and then she could remember something specific happening that scared her and the feeling suddenly disappeared.  She remembered feeling scared.  These memories were mostly of her parents.  She was always there in her memory, watching, but no one else seemed aware of her being there.  It was like her parents were there, but in a different reality to Tori’s, like she was watching them in some kind of bubble in front of her.  It was loud and frightening and definitely happening, it was real, but Tori felt in her memory  that although her body was there, although she could in fact see herself as a child, the her that was her now was not in that child.  She could almost see herself in that blind way you see yourself in your mind.  You see yourself, but obviously you can’t really, because you can’t ever look at yourself unless in a reflection and it’s not a memory of a reflection, it is a memory of you in reality when you were there in your own skin, but you see it externally.

The memory was of her mother and father arguing.  Her mother was crying and she was drunk.  Her mother drank a lot during this time.  It wasn’t as obvious with her father, but she was pretty sure he was always drinking too.  Her father was belittling her mother.  Telling her she was a mess, a pathetic excuse for a wife and a mother.  Telling her that Tori was strange because she didn’t know how to look after her.  How Tori was always dirty and hungry looking and always looking at him with those big pleading eyes.  In the memory Tori’s mother just sobbed and put her face in her hands.  This happened for a while, Tori can’t remember how long.  It felt like months because she was in fact starving most of this time.  They had no food and the farmhouse they stayed in was falling apart.  They did have some things that they grew in the garden, some fruit and veg, but it began to run out as the sun got hotter.  Tori remembered feeling that her parents could have kept the garden up, but they were only concerned about brewing the alcohol they drank.  Tori, now thinking back, was not sure if they always drank so much, or if it dramatically got worse after the lights went out.   In her infant mind, it all seemed to happen very quickly.

One day Tori’s father never came back from the fields.  He used to go out every day looking for something to kill to eat, or something to pick for them to eat, but one day he just never came back.  Her mother never slept that night, but never moved either.  Tori sat with her for as long as she could stay awake.  A few days later, Tori awoke and her mother was gone too.  Even then, Tori was not a child who cried a lot.  She discovered quite early that it didn’t really get her much.  She was also very weak and hungry and even in her young age, her instinct was to find food. She began doing what her dad had done, and went out in the baking heat to the fields to find something to catch or to pick.  Tori was a child and the bullets for her father’s gun had run out long ago.  She went to the shed in search for a weapon and went out with a small garden fork; it looked spiky enough to stab something.  Tori was never really fast enough to catch anything and there was not much to catch.  She pretty much ate anything that she found still growing and vomited a lot.  She was losing strength and was giving up.  That was when the cowboy found her.

She had been out roaming the fields again and had found very little to eat.  She kneeled down on her hunches and put her head in her hands and stared at the ground.  She became aware dully in her memory of there being someone there.  She doesn’t remember hearing a noise or seeing something.   Like always with him, she could just feel his presence.  She looked up and he was sitting on a horse staring down at her.  She looked up, still with her chin her hands.  The cowboy’s expression did not seem to change. He had extremely small eyes that were quite far apart.  The pupils were very circular and piercing right into her.  He had tanned, leathery skin, but still his face was childlike.  He had very long legs.  He did not smile.  He was taking her in.  He was thinking.  He picked her up and put her on the back of his horse.  Nothing was said between either of them and she did not try to run away.  She is pretty sure she passed out on the back of the horse.

Her mind then switched to a different memory, to a memory that had become a nightmare and taken on a life of its own in her dreams.  Reality blurred with fearful dreams.  He was looking at her.  She hated the way he looked at her, it made her feel disgusting, like she wanted to become invisible.  Those eyes watching her, looking at her in that way, with some kind of fire burning in those tiny determined eyes.  His hands on her, her kicking him, pushing him away.  Running.  Running.  Tears, salty tears and running.  That awful sick feeling that was nearly paralysing.  Her legs feeling heavy, like lead.

She was still running.  Years had passed and she was still running.  She came back to the present and realised she was breathing heavily and struggling with the run.  She was dehydrated.  Her head had begun to pound and she felt sick.  Still she knew she couldn’t stop.  Knew she wouldn’t stop.  She also knew the running was futile, but she wasn’t just running away now.  The exercise to her was like pounding on the ground or a tree.  She was pounding her bad thoughts and her fears; she was stamping on them with every step of the run.  With every heave of her lungs, she was forcing herself to be stronger.  In her mind, she was facing memories and feelings that she had put aside for years. She looked at them, acknowledged them in a way she had not done before.  She was looking at herself and all the bad things she had done in her life.  She was looking at a girl who forced herself to care about no one and nothing.  She was looking at a girl who least of all cared about herself.  Who as often as possible drank grog until she got to that dark, black place in her mind where no thought and no emotion actually registered, where she was conscious, but not thinking, not feeling.  She was looking at a girl who was so drunk it was horrible to look at.  At a girl who was a mess.  Who pushed away everyone who cared about her because she had convinced herself she did not care about herself or about them.  She was looking at a girl who revelled in hate and anger, who often fantasized about killing the cowboy, a girl who found men weak and repulsive.  Who did things with when she was wasted that she later felt ashamed about.  She was pounding herself with each step; she was enjoying the pain she was putting her body through and the screaming of her lungs.  She was finally glad to be facing him, to know that the thing she had been dreading and avoiding for so long was eventually going to happen.  She was relieved that it would soon be over and she could rest.  She could no longer breath.

She didn’t want to go on.  She recognised where she had run to, and began to remember some of the landmarks.  The cattle grids, the way the land still lay despite there being even less trees and bushes than there were before because of the fires.  It was now dusk.  The sun began to go down and the temperature dropped which Tori was relieved about.  It got that misty way just before the sun set and the sky started to go orange.  It was going to be one of those big burning sunsets.  One that Jo would of loved, would of exclaimed “wow” at.  Tori had to admit that it was beautiful, and thought it was actually quite fitting and also sad that it should be quite so dramatic.  She felt part of the sunset; the burning, damaging red of the sun was inside her, on fire within her.  It was also losing its energy, slowing down, sinking, melting into the ground and below the earth.


She was nearly there and now her only thought was water.  She knew if she stopped now, she wouldn’t last long.  She was pretty sure she had been running for hours in the baking sun and that she was extremely dehydrated.  She knew the sun was a killer and that it was quite likely she would die from heat exhaustion as quickly as anything else.  She wouldn’t of minded lying down and accepting it, however she had decided she would keep running to the water tank and that was that.  She wasn’t sure whether there would be anything left in it, but it had been raining, and fewer and fewer people were able to stand the heat nowadays.  At that precise moment, she didn’t blame them one bit.  She also knew however, that before she could be at peace, she had to face him.  If she died running, she would never put it to rest.  She had to face him.  She had to drink some water and then face him.  She was just so tired now, it was painful to keep going and yet she was sure she was so near.  Perhaps that was why she was struggling.  Her body was preparing to give up because her mind was thinking about the end of the journey when there was still a bit to go.  She pushed herself on.  She made her mind tell her feet and her legs to keep going.  She forced herself to keep going.  She made it home.  There was water in the tank; she drank some in the middle of huge gasps for air.  Then she collapsed.

She was between consciousness and sleep and had been having fitful nightmares that felt all too real.  She was a child again and she was vulnerable, it was a feeling she had managed to fight off for years, but one that had enveloped her now.  She felt the dread that took over her when he was there, felt that dark penetrating presence.  She came too and realised she was not quite dreaming, he was there.  She looked up and he was standing looking at her.  He was so still and staring with those bloody eyes that she wanted to rip out of their sockets.  She found a new energy in the anger and hatred she felt for him, felt it kindle inside her and grow and grow, she looked at him with all the disgust she felt for him and stared at him in the face with it.  He didn’t seem to notice it, but waited with that same expression of nothing on his face.  Did he actually ever feel anything she wondered?  Other than desire for things he couldn’t have.  She made herself get up.

“I’ve been looking for you” he said in that soft voice the belied his nature.

Tori said nothing but held her gaze on him, all the emotions she had in her threatening at any moment to burst out of her.  She knew that she was about to lose control and that she would not be able to stop herself, or even be in control of what she did when she let it take over.

“It’s pointless running.  I’ll take you on the horse and we’ll find one of our old places and we’ll build a fire.  Remember we used to do that?  There’s no point running anymore”.

He looked almost smug, like he’d won, like he’d just caught his prey and was about to devour it.  He had the air of someone who found it all effortless, fun even to hunt and to kill.  It was never about necessity with him; he enjoyed killing things weaker than himself.  She let it take hold of her.

Tori lunged at the cowboy at the same time she let out a strangled cry that was deeper than her voice and that came from some unknown place within her.  She tackled him to the ground with more strength than most men have, put her weight on top of him and grabbed his throat.  She squeezed and squeezed with an unrelenting grip on his neck, those eyes looking at her fuelling her anger and her will.  He was startled for at the very most a few seconds and then he grabbed her arms with his own strong hands and pushed his body weight up and threw her over.  She still did not let go of her grip, her arms were locked, but he now had his weight
over her and with his free hands he tried to pin her kicking legs to the ground in between punching her sides and ribs trying to weaken her so he get his full body weight on top of her.  They struggled in this way for a short time, but Tori could not stop him with only her legs and her hands keeping her grip on his neck.  She also started to feel that desperate fear girls feel when they are pinned down.  She let out another scream and used all the strength she could find to pull him by the neck over to one side; she threw him to the side a little but of course lost her grip.  Almost immediately he was scrambling to his feet again and was lunging towards her.  She looked around her and spotted a rock; she let out another cry and turned away from him, her head down, pretending to sob.

“Please, just leave me alone.  Can’t you get it through your thick skull that I don’t want you?  I just want to be left alone.  Just leave me alone” she screamed.

She was not so much pretending anymore, she was begging him not to make her do what she was about to do.  She heard him come towards her from behind and as she grabbed the rock, she swung around to face him and swung the rock with all her strength and smashed it against his face.  She kept swinging and she got lost.  Her mind was not registering anything, she was swinging, swinging, letting out all the anger she felt, screaming.  Screaming.  She thought she was never going to stop.   There was suddenly blood everywhere.  Tori was sobbing.

Tori was torn between finishing him and letting him finish her.  The only alternative she could accept to her killing him was death for herself.  There was a time when she thought she would have been able to kill him effortlessly and with no remorse, but something stopped her now.  Now that she had come to the point she had been preparing for the last couple of years, she found she didn’t want to go through with it.  If she did kill him, she knew that she would never be free of him, he would follow her everywhere until the day she died, she wanted him to kill her, to be free of it that way and then at least she could have peace.  She stopped and she got down on her hunches and put her head in her hands and cried, the way she had as a toddler.  She would just have to force him to kill her.  Hopefully bludgeoning him with a rock would make him angry enough to kill her.  She hoped.  She would rather have his violence than have anything else from him.  She couldn’t bear to think of giving in to him that way, to having to exist with him.  She would not let that happen.  She looked around and he was beaten and bloody, but certainly nowhere near dead.  She looked up at him this time and wondered incredulously whether he was capable of any compassion at all. How could he have no idea of the torment he was putting her through?  Why was she not able to kill him and be done with it?  She knew why, because she if she did no matter what he had done to her, she would never be able to look Jo in the face again, and Jo was the only reason she wanted to stay.  Jo would forgive her if she understood it all, but Tori didn’t think she would ever be able to bring herself to let Jo know how dark this world could be.  She didn’t want to be the one to take Jo’s innocence away; it would be the end of everything.  She had to fight until he killed her, she just didn’t know if she had the strength anymore.

He stood up and wiped the blood from his still expressionless face.  His tiny piercing horrible eyes penetrated her.  Nothing had changed.  She had to keep fighting until she died from exhaustion, she didn’t think he would factor in that Tori was dehydrated, suffering from heat exhaustion and fatigue and was about to collapse anyway.  She decided she would fight, not to kill, but until her body gave up and then she would close her eyes and eventually be at peace.  She began to feel at peace already just thinking about it and her eyes all of a sudden seemed very heavy.  The cowboy made a step toward her, something registering in his eyes, beginning to doubt whether he would be able to keep her after all.  They looked at each other now and Tori saw that he understood she was giving up herself.  Not to him, but to this world.  This however was not good; the last thing she wanted was for him to save her.  She told herself she must muster one last bit of strength so he would finish her off for good and she told her legs to come out from under her and stand up.

The pain in her head felt like drumming, she could hear it now.  Low, rhythmic and distant.  She lifted her head and was about to stand up when she saw that the cowboy was no longer looking at her, he was looking out into the bush, concern on his face.  She tried to focus but her head was spinning and she felt an overwhelming dizziness and nausea take over her.  She thought she heard a whoop of air and dust flying and something heavy falling to the floor but at the same time, the ground flew upwards towards her face.  Her eyes closed as her cheek hit the hard red dirt and she let go of it all.



DPchallenge: A Great Wave

Image http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/inspiration-images-1000-words/

I feel like I am being carried along by a great wave.  I cannot seem to stop myself being pulled by it and now that I no longer try, I am no longer afraid.  The ideas in my head and the actions they lead me to take have come from that same energy that drives the wind that pushes the water down into the sea.  I cannot stop the words flowing through me and I do not want to.  I let them appear and then I let them go.

The more calm and still I make my mind, the more fluid my passage through life becomes.  When I breathe in, the ocean comes towards me and when I breathe out it blows back out into the earth, moving with me like a twin.  When I close my eyes I am forever moving forward.

I dream every night of a massive storm out at sea.  In the beginning I see the water darken below me and the waves start to rush in and out gaining momentum.  I feel before I see that the storm is coming.  The wind picks up and when I look out towards the horizon I see a giant wall of sea the height of the sky. It is surging towards me with all the strength of the earth.  I know this should frighten me but in the dream I am not frightened, I have been expecting it and I am excited when I see it coming.  Then I am in the middle of the sea on a boat and the wind is all around, circling.  There is no light but I can see that the sea has taken on a threatening colour of blue that is like thick black blue tar.  I can barely stand on the boat but I do not want to go back inside, I want to be out there with the ocean, because it pulls me to it always with a strong unseen arm, fingers creeping towards me or hands grasping up pulling me into its chest like a lover.