Tuesday, October 13, 2015

#62 Killer Samovar (Poem)

62
Write about a nonsense, anything you heard or read or came up with yourself. (May Doctor Seuss help you!)
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.


The Killer Samovar 

Based on true story

I went to the kitchen
The house was asleep
But I wasn’t sleepy -
I fancied something to eat.

I know! 
I should wait till next morning
When all are awake,
But I was so fortunate
To find me some cake.

I opened the fridge,
And there was my beauty.
Jump into my shoes -
What’d be your duty?

“Stop! Do not move!”
I heard a voice from the sky.
And before my response
Something heavy did fly.

It fell on me once,
It fell on me twice,
It fell on me head 
The whole three times.

I could not believe it,
Once I was back on my feet.
You, the pot from my land!
How you dare to contradict?

I rubbed the knob on my head,
Put that heavy thing where it belong,
And stretched arms to my sweetie -
I could not wait for so long!

The vicious attacker 
Flew and struck me once more.
"There’s nothing in the fridge,
Not for you, you moron!"

It fell on me twice,
It fell on me thrice,
It fell on me head
The whole four times.

I stayed down on the floor
Right there on my knees.
The house was asleep,
Not aware of my caprice.

"I want the darn cake!"
I cried (it was loud).
The Samovar stroke me again,
For crying outloud!

It fell on me twice,
It fell one me thrice,
It fell on me head
The whole five times.

Here in my coffin
I’m peacefully now.
In a pretty make up
And my favorite dress with a bow.

“She died for a cake,”
My obituary states.
I’m peaceful… I’m speechless…
The killer escapes.

It fell on me twice,
It fell on me thrice,
It fell on me head
The whole six times.

The moral of this story
Is simple as hell.
Don’t put heavy items of metal
On the upper shelf.


* * *


Monday, October 12, 2015

#59. Doctor

59
Write about a doctor – a real one, a fictional one, a good one, a bad or spooky one.

When I was in 4th grade, I was constantly playing doctors and hospitals and thought that I wanted to become a doctor when I grow up. I played doctors and hospitals because doctors and hospitals played a significant role in my early years - I spent a month in a hospital in 3rd grade, and another month in 4th grade, and for a few years I would be under doctor's constant care - once a month I had to get up early in the morning, rain, shine or snow, and before breakfast, when it's still dark outside and most people are still in their bed, go to a hospital to have a blood test. Was it fun? Nope. It never was fun. There is very little that I felt positive about those experiences. But I did have a couple of heroes, or rather she-roes. One was my pediatrician whom I thought was one of the most beautiful women in the world. She always looked beautiful with make-up and manicure, and her hair cut and colored in a fashionable manner. She was what we call these days a curvy woman, nobody would dare to call her fat. When she left (we had many house calls), she always left a trace of feminine perfume behind. She was kind to me. She probably was one of my first girl-crushes, in the most innocent ways - I wanted to be just like her. I remember that there was a very kind and friendly woman doctor in one of my prolonged stays in a hospital in Krasnoyarsk too. I remember her much less, not in all those little details, but she was very nice and made my stay much better. There was also a nurse who'd come to give me shots when bed rest was required. She had the kindest face and the gentlest hands - I never even felt the needle which many children (and some adults) are scared of. Her shots were light and unnoticeable. Three times a day, every day for weeks in a row, Natalya Aleksandrovna would visit me at home. Always with a kind smile, always with a kind word, and with a needle which I don't remember.


#58 Apples

58
Write about an apple. Do you love eating apples or apple deserts? Do you find apples symbolic for school, fall or anything else?
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

I have to open my dark secret - I don't like apples, and never really liked them. There is one vivid memory from my childhood. I think I was not older than 6 - my father brought home an enormous red apple, which was fragrant, juicy and sweet. I was stunned - never before had I tried an apple that had such characteristics, and I have to say I still did not find another one quite like that. I also remember that when I spent a month in a hospital (if not longer), when I was 9 or 10, my parents would bring me home food and some treats (hospital food is never good, is it?), and there were apples which I did not like. But I guess at some point I tried to bite both apple and a cookie, a simple 
biscuit, and I really liked the taste. Only now I am aware of many apple deserts that are popular in different cuisines around the world - back then I did not know about then, and sort of by accident, or from lack of variety, I invented one. These days, I sometimes make apple deserts. Our family latest favorite desert is English Flapjack - which is not at all a pancake as Americans might think. Flapjack is made with oats, butter and brown sugar, sort of  an oat bar really. In my recipe, it is made with apples, and I also add honey to it. It's one of my most favorite ways to eat apples.

Rise and Write 57-63. Week 9


#57. Gait

57
Write about a gait. Maybe you watched one particularly unusual stride from a street café recently, or write about your own gait.
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

It's a little difficult to come back to daily writings after a long-ish period of silence. I compare our daily writings with the daily exercise routine before participating in a marathon. If you decide to run a long distance and all you've done before is exercising from time to time, almost randomly, you know that you need to work on your stamina first - you need to build up your strength little by little. This is what it is about - building a writer's stamina. Not about being perfect or genius in your every piece. It's all about work and about honesty with yourself. 

Write about a gait, eh? The first thing that comes to my mind is a line from a popular 1980s Russian song which goes something like this... "With your flying gait, you came out of May, and disappear into the whiteness of January..." Yes, it's a love song, and it's about a short passionate affair, and it is sad, though disco music does not suggest sadness - it just never does. I always, as a little girl, imagined a beautiful young woman in a flying white dress and high heels, probably silver ones, her face not visible, but more beautiful than one can describe, disappearing into smoke and light. And it's all because of one phrase - "your flying gait". The power of word!

Rise and Write 57-63. Week 9


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Rise and Write! Prompts 57-63. Week 9

Hello writers,

Well, I have managed to complete all the week 8 prompts and am ready for the new challenges, and I think so are you. Her you go - write! 

Prompts 57-63. Week 9

57
Write about a gait. Maybe you watched one particularly unusual stride from a street café recently, or write about your own gait.
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

58
Write about an apple. Do you love eating apples or apple deserts? Do you find apples symbolic for school, fall or anything else?
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

59
Write about a doctor – a real one, a fictional one, a good one, a bad or spooky one.
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

60
Write about a puddle. Did you enjoy jumping in them as a kid? What? You still do?
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

61
Write about a charming person – a real one that you’ve met or a character. Of  what does their charm consist or of what is it made?
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

62
Write about a nonsense, anything you heard or read or came up with yourself. (May Doctor Seuss help you!)
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

63
Write about feeling great! What’s the sensation in your head, chest, knees, etc.? Does it make you jump or sit quietly and savor the feeling?
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.


#56 Sorry

56
Write about feeling sorry for something you have done or something you have not done. Remember that you can always use your character!

OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

Maybe there is something. Back then, I felt hurt that my understanding of love did not meet with his. I felt hurt, I felt devastated. I thought it was all his fault. But it was not his fault that our understanding did not match. He did not know back then. And I also did not know. Nobody's fault. And I am sorry. I only hope that he will find someone whose understanding of love will match his, so they can live and love one another happily ever after.

And maybe there is something else. Back then, I felt hurt that my understanding of friendship did not meet with hers. I felt hurt, I felt devastated. I thought it was all her fault. But it was not her fault that our understanding did not match. She did not know back then. And I also did not know. Nobody's fault. And I am sorry. I only hope that she will find someone whose understanding of friendship will match hers, so they can live and be friends with one another happily ever after.

Rise and Write 50-56. Week 8

#55 Suitcase

55
Write about a suitcase. Is it a brand new thing from a department store, a charming vintage or a ragged old thing that saw the world? Describe its smell, shape, feel…
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

Two suitcases, not pretty ones, not even plain traditional ones, rather two duffle bags - one enormous bag and one reasonably medium sized, were my luggage on my way to a new continent. How to explain to someone whose furthermost move was from one house to another house, or even from one city to another city? How to explain that you have to fit your whole life, short or long one, or a reasonably medium sized one like mine was, in a couple of suitcases, not necessarily pretty ones or traditional ones, or two duffle bags, such as mine? How to explain that whatever you chose to bring with you, you'd better truly love and cherish, if it fits your bag, and whatever does not fit, will stay out of your life from now on? A few items of clothing, a few most beloved books, a few photographs of your childhood and people you love... A few items that won't mean anything to anybody else, but mean so much to you, as those items you won't be able to buy in Walmart where you'll be taken on the second day of your new life to replenish a few practical things that you left behind - a hair dryer, a nail polish remover, those important little things that you won't bring with you to cross the ocean, but can't live without when you're in your 20s. The duffle bags looked enormous and weighed enormously when you were in the first airport where your father saw you off and you both tried very hard to not shed a tear, and in the second airport, a bigger one, where they still spoke your mother tongue, and in the third airport where everything looked like out of the movie and people spoke a language you've never heard before, and in the forth airport, after the longest flight of your life, where people had a skin color that you've never seen before. The duffle bags, looking so enormous in all those airports, suddenly looked tiny at home, in a small room where the one with whom you chose to continue your life journey brought you. In the little room where you unpacked all the things carefully chosen to stay with you on the new continent, the duffle bags were emptied, folded and tucked away, and all you had left were those few items of clothing, few most beloved books and few photographs of your previous life. The enormous duffle bags rapidly became a little pile of familiar things which traveled with you from your childhood home to a new world. Everything else in the tiny room and beyond it, in the house, on the street, in the town and the whole new continent, was unknown.

Rise and Write 50-56. Week 8


Write, Rewrite (Poem)


You wrote a story,
But did not get it right.
What a trifle - rewrite!
It does not work again, nonetheless,
But you will not write any less.
If not the third one, then sure the thirtieth rewrite
Will get your story just right,
If not the thirties, then three hundredth will do.
Keep writing, without further ado.

If only we learned to write
Before we learned to love,
We'd know then!


In Russian here.

#54 Changing Season

54
Write about changing seasons, that very particular time in the year cycle when it is not Autumn yet, but already passed Summer…
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

Such times are the dearest to my heart. There is something touching, real, transparent in between the seasons. The air is clearer and crisper, the temperatures are milder and more comfortable, and the feelings such in between times evoke in me are of ending something old and tired and beginning something new and fresh. Changes are both exciting, inspiring, full of hope, and at the same time a little intimidating, or perhaps vulnerable. Times in between seasons are like times in between periods of one's life. Those who have ever had an aspiration to change their life, sure know how vulnerable those periods are - half of the time we just want to hide from the world, as it is not what it used to be any more, though not what we want it to be yet. 

Rise and Write 50-56. Week 8

Monday, October 5, 2015

#53. Countryside (Excerpt)

53
Write about a village, real rural countryside. Do you idealize it as many writers and poets have done? Or, as Agatha Christie, see its dark side?
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

In the Village

Marusya felt a little bit alien in this world. Everything looked differently, sounded differently, smelled differently here. There was no traffic noise, as if automobiles were not invented yet - though it was 1980s if you trusted the calendar. There were a few motorbikes here and there, but they did not make a huge difference, not what traffic did even in such a small town as hers, let alone big city traffic. This strange silence was filled with birds chirping, the sound of wind playing with trees, dogs barking, and everyone, even people she'd never met before, saying this long heavy Russian hello - zdravstvuite. The way to her grandparents' home was filled with this silence - it was a wide bumpy country road, a dirt road which was dry and dusty in summer, wet and mushy in fall and spring, and white in winter, with tall snowdrifts on each side of the road - as tall as Marusya and even taller. The thick forest surrounded the few old wooden houses, restrooms outside - small wooden buildings with a terrifying hole in the ground, no matter what's the season, the only place to pee, unless it was dark at night, then it was okay to do it just outside of the house door. Everything in the house smelled differently from Marusya's familiar apartment smell. Towels, bed sheets, blankets - it all smelled somehow a little wet, and when she encountered this smell somewhere else, it would brings her back to the grandma's home. Only later in life she realized it was the smell of mold which was hard to get rid of in a wooden house, covering its people and stuff from rain and snow the huge chunk of the year. That was probably the main reason why babushka painted the house once a year - to get rid of the smell and darkening corners. The paint was typically light blue on the walls and white on the ceiling.

about 10 min or so

Rise and Write 50-56. Week 8


#52 Door

52
Write about a door – wooden, glass, heavy, tall, Dutch door, garage door or a magic door (Open, Sesame)…


OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

I am opening the heavy door, part wood, part glass. I am letting someone out, they hold it back for me in exchange, we smile and thank each other. This door has so much potential to let me in the new world - the world of "real writers" as I call it. I don't have to be a "real writer" as I walk through the door. I don't even have to be a "real writer" once I'm in. What I do have to decide for myself, whether or not I want to become a real writer once I leave this space through the same heavy door, part wood, part glass, holding it for someone else, perhaps another writer, and most probably reader. I don't have to decide it forever. Perhaps I'm not ready yet to leave this door as a real writer. Perhaps all I can handle now is to be an aspiring writer, a writer who mostly dreams and reads books about writing, and goes to writer's conferences. It really is all totally up to me whether I decide to stay a writer who goes to writer's conferences and feels pretty good about herself for a week or two after the conferences, okay, maybe a month or two after the conference and meeting real writers ... or to become a real writer, the one who writes, not just writes, but who writes every day, who writes from her heart, who is not afraid to write with mistakes, and who is not afraid to set a goal, a writing goal, and reach it, the best she can. Only one door to the writer's world, one door in and the same one out - no, not this heavy one, part wood and part glass, but the one inside of me. No matter how much praise, how much criticism, how much ignoring there is on my way once I passed this door - it is up to me, always and only, to leave through this door or to stay. 

about 5 min 

Friday, October 2, 2015

#51 Queen



51
Write about a queen. Is she a real figure in history or a fantasy character from your favorite fairy tale? Is there some thing about her you find admirable or enviable? Is there something that you dislike about her or her status?
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

I grew up in times when, in my part of the world at least, kings and queens were either historical figures, often interpreted negatively, or fictional figures, also very often negative or at least ambiguous, or folklore figures, often comical. There were of course some queens, like the one in Alexandre Dumas' books about musketeers and the wonderful Soviet musical movie D'Artagnan and Three Musketeers, the Queen Anna, played by a very talented and feminine Russian actress Alisa Freindlich, whom we adored. But even Queen Anna-Alisa seemed just too far from our ordinary life, and her romance with Lord Buckingham seemed to me as a kid far less real and interesting than the romance between her faithful servant Constance and my childhood hero d'Artagnan.
Queen Anna: "I did not say yes, my lord."
Lord Buckingham: "You did not say no."

Rise and Write 50-56. Week 8

#50 Grandpa's Fingers

50
Write about fingers (or toes). Do they belong to your character? Are they lean and long “artistic” fingers, or short and chubby? All of them in place? What are they good at?
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

I remember as a child, I was struck by the fingers of my grandfather, to be precise, by the lack of them. I can't even remember how many of them were missing - quite a few. It always creeped me out just a bit - a bit because I adored my dedushka! He was a very gentle, kind man, and even though suffered, as many men in Russia, from alcoholism, was not aggressive or cruel at all. He would do his day job (when I knew him, he was taking care of horses in the local collective farm), spent lots of time on the steep rocky bank of the Angara River where he'd watch boats, big and little, ships, ferries and tugboats - he became almost a part of the scenery, so much that grandma, his wife said that Angara became an orphan when dedushka died. When I grew up, I thought about what happened to dedushka's fingers, and many village men's fingers which were missing. And one thing I came up with was they chopped them when were tipsy because they never stopped doing the traditional countryside work, such as chopping firewood or building and rebuilding houses, barns and banyas, and they were almost always tipsy. I am a city kid, so the men who I grew up with in cities did not have such a problem. The other guess is they lost their fingers at the field of war or, in my dedushka's case, in the years spent in prison - no, he wasn't a criminal, though the Soviet government liked to make their citizens criminals for the most innocent things they have done (helping out a poor family, feeding them in hungry years, would be such a crime; you did not have to do any crime at all, just to born in a "wrong" family - you were a criminal by birth). Grandpa's missing fingers are like many of Russian history's missing pages - pages about which the truth we will never know because those who experienced them are mostly gone by now, and even when they were alive, their destiny taught them to keep their mouth shot.

12 min

Rise and Write 50-56. Week 8

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Rise and Write: Prompts 50-56. Week 8

Happy October, writers! 

Welcome to the 3rd month of daily writing sketches! I am glad we made it so far! I wanted to drop it more than once, but thanks to you I see that it actually really helps - not only helps finding the time to write (I now am absolutely convinced that I can write anywhere, any time, on any given subject - which is, frankly, a huge part of being a writer, a huge part of craft). But I find that it also helps with the growth as a writer - it's like when you are a runner, there comes the time when you feel like you can't run any more, and then you catch second breath (or second wind?) - you find more new energy within yourself, and running becomes easy. I still have lots of things to learn about writing (English grammar and vocabulary would be a couple of such things), but I learned that I can catch my inspiration whenever I want to - I learned that I can write on demand. And this is HUGE.

Here are the new 7 prompts for your inspiration, and please do share what you've been learning during these past two months of intense almost-daily writing.

Prompts 50-56. Week 8

50
Write about fingers (or toes). Do they belong to your character? Are they lean and long “artistic” fingers, or short and chubby? All of them in place? What are they good at?
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

51
Write about a queen. Is she a real figure in history or a fantasy character from your favorite fairy tale? Is there some thing about her you find admirable or enviable? Is there something that you dislike about her or her status?
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

52
Write about a door – wooden, glass, heavy, tall, Dutch door, garage door or a magic door (Open, Sesame)…
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

53
Write about a village, real rural countryside. Do you idealize it as many writers and poets have done? Or, as Agatha Christie, see its dark side?
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

54
Write about changing seasons, that very particular time in the year cycle when it is not Autumn yet, but already passed Summer…
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

55
Write about a suitcase. Is it a brand new thing from a department store, a charming vintage or a ragged old thing that saw the world? Describe its smell, shape, feel…
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

56
Write about feeling sorry for something you have done or something you have not done. Remember that you can always use your character!
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

#46 Chores; #47 Bird; #48 Wrinkles

46
Write about housework chores, such as vacuum cleaning or mowing the grass. Who did it in your childhood home? When you were introduced to this work first? Is it something you enjoyed doing or tried to avoid at any coast?
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

You know what I want? I want to learn to love chores. I mean, truly, to stop resenting them and not just that, but finding poetry in doing them! It’s very hard for me. I am out of shape, that’s the reason number one – it is just physically very challenging to do housework for me. My head is full of creative ideas, and I’d rather be working on them than cleaning the floors, that’s another reason. And there are more, but the point to me is not in counting reasons why you hate doing something, but in finding a way to stop resenting and even finding a way to do them that will bring me joy. I know some people focus on the result – they look forward to the result (clean house), and it somehow makes it OK for them to actually do all the chores. I understand, but it does not do the trick for me. Other people just tell themselves that once it’s done, it will be over, and they will be able to enjoy whatever it is they actually want to do. Not a bad way, but again, somehow it's not helping me. Once I read a post by a woman whose approach to cleaning the house was the most inspiring of all – the most creative and I even want to use the word “artistic”! She lit candles, played relaxing music while cleaning her home – she took it as a meditative, creative, and truly cleansing process! It's hard to impress me when it comes to cleaning, but there I was really impressed. Cleaning your home, the sacred place where you enjoy being, enjoy sharing life with the people you love, enjoy creating whatever you love to create, can be actually such a beautiful process, similarly to cleaning your tired mind or exhausted soul, or aching body. It can be as beautiful as having a spa day. Banya for the house!

10 min



47
Write about a bird - the one you have (or had as a kid), or a magical bird from a fairy tale that you love, or a bird that visits your yard and teases your cat.
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

Excerpt from my fairy tale

Anya walked in the snowy wintry woods, feeling all cozy in her cute little coat and valenki*, wearing mittens and a long scarf which Chickenleg House made for her, when suddenly she heard someone coughing. She looked around and couldn’t find anyone, but then she heard it again… cough... cough, cough…
“It’s me, Anya, Snegir **, can’t you see me? Look up!”
“Oh hello dear Snegir, and I was wondering to myself, who is coughing? Did you catch cold, poor fellow?”
“There is that, a little.”
 Anya took the woolen scarf from her neck and handed it to the bird.
“Here, wrap it around your neck, that’s what mama taught me to do when catching cold. It will warm up your sore throat. You will feel better in no time!”
“Thank you, Anya, you are such a kind little girl,” said Snegir and wrapped the scarf around his neck.
“But wait a minute, take this bunch of frozen berries with you, they will prove being useful some day.”
With these words, Snegir handed a bunch of bright red berries to Anya.
“What should I do with them?”
“Just keep them in your pocket. Don’t worry, they won’t go bad. They are not just some frozen berries, but rather magic little things. They will keep till Summer and help you one day. You will know when you need them.”
And Anya did just what the kind Snegir told her. She put the bunch of bright red berries in her pocket and saved them until she needed their magic power.

* valenki - traditional Russian woolen (felt) boots.
** Snegir (from the word "sneg" which means snow) is a Russian name of Eurasian bullfinch, a pretty small bird with bright red tummy which is very visible in the snow.

10 min


48
Write about wrinkles - yours or on someone's face, or maybe your character's. What stories wrinkles can tell?
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

A kind wrinkly face looked at her, and she sensed the open, wise spirit from its features, and even some sort of loveliness which is usually hard to describe, but one can feel it with their heart, or maybe with something bigger than a heart. It was as a choir of angels was singing from every little wrinkle passing through this lovely face which only a sleeping one could describe with this quick meaningless word – “old”. The silver voices sounded so harmonious – as if someone’s healing hands held her whole being, softly touching the very core of what was her soul.

5 min



#32 Number; #34 Reptiles; #42 Leaf

I looked up all the prompts we've done in August and September, and found out that I missed 8. I posted one earlier today, and in the evening I had a sort of writing marathon and wrote 6 more prompts while waiting for my daughter who was having a dance class. I post three here, and another three in the following post. So I am down to only one missed prompt, wahoo! It feels great to catch up like that! 

P.S. Later tonight, I will post 7 new prompts for the first week in October, so tomorrow we will be ready to start a new month!




32
Write about a number that is significant in your life. Maybe it’s your lucky number, or the opposite. Maybe you feel connected to a certain number and see definite patterns in your life (or your character’s life).
OPTIONAL: Work on your own fiction, without the connection to the topic. Share what you are working on.

I remember as a kid, my cousins and I used to pick favorites. Favorite color, favorite letter of the alphabet, favorite number – you name it, we categorized everything! Since this little piece of writing is supposed to be about numbers, I will only tell you that my favorite number since my childhood was 9. Why? I don’t know really, maybe because there is 9 in my birthday date. I think a bit later, when I learned about numerology as a young person, I learned that 6 is significant for me – it’s the sum of all other numbers of my name. And I have to say I always liked 6, probably because 6 as a written symbol is an upside down 9. One way or another, these two numbers are my favorite numbers, or my lucky numbers if you will, and the fact that one of the great songs by sexy Bryan Adams is called Summer of 69, does not hurt either.


5 min


34
Write about reptiles. Most people have very strong feelings towards them – either love or hate them. Which are you? (Or your character?)
OPTIONAL: Work on your own fiction, without the connection to the topic. Share what you are working on.

Not being a hater of snakes, I have to say it is still a little difficult for me to understand people who love snakes or frogs to the point they have them as pets in their homes. It is not difficult to understand that they admire the exotic beauty and mystique of snakes, and no, it is not difficult to understand at all when people adore cute little frogs or lizards. But to have a pet that I can’t really pet seems a little should I say "restricting" to me. I would definitely have more appreciation for reptiles as pets if they were fluffy and fuzzy as kittens are! We just took our kittens to a surgery, and their poor little tummies were shaved, which makes them so vulnerable, a little snake-like really. I can’t wait when they grow all their fur back, and we don’t need to be extra careful about petting their thick, soft fur again.

5 min


42
Write about a leaf turning color. Is it still up on the tree or did you find it under your feet? What’s its journey?
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

The most gorgeous leaf turning color I’ve seen was a huge maple leaf fallen from a giant maple by our beach house. Those leaves were truly amazing, reminding me of paintings made by artists. Their size was also quite remarkable. They were bigger than our then 6 years old daughter's head who liked to gather a bouquet of the giant artistic maple leaves to bring to school to share with other kids and teachers. The leaves bigger than a little girl’s head in all hues of yellow, orange and red all at once, as if they were the palette of an impressionist, are one of the brightest memories I have about our living in the tiny hut on the beach.

#33 Happy Day

33
Write about a happy day from your childhood. Where are you? With whom? What’s going on? What made this day so memorable?


OPTIONAL: Work on your own fiction, without the connection to the topic. Share what you are working on.

It is not easy to choose a particular happy day from my childhood - there were so many of them! But maybe the correct thing to say would be that I remember rather many moments of my childhood, and not whole days. I remember lots of laughter and light. I don't know why but when I think of my childhood, despite some challenging times, I do remember mostly how absolutely happy it was and how it was filled with light. Mama, Papa, Andrei and I taking walks - long walks in the fields and sometimes woods near our small town, because that's what doctor prescribed for mama's health condition.  Mushroom hunting with papa - he is such a mushroom hunter, and I went to many all-day hunts with him. Mom likes to add that she would fill papa's backpack with food, so I wouldn't get hungry - when he hunts alone, he never takes food with him. Papa taught us, Andrei and I, to never tear off a mushroom with its roots, only very precisely cut the stem, or the leg of a mushroom, with a small pocket knife (he would give each of us a knife and make walking sticks from the branches he'd found in the woods) - so we never destroyed whole families of mushrooms growing under the earth, as the individual mushrooms are connected with each other... I remember how I absolutely adored my brother and wanted to play with him endlessly. He was and still is such an inventor with wild imagination and a great and very kind sense of humor. When I faced the "real world", the world outside of my family, I was struck by how many people see humor in cruel or insensitive jokes or comments. Even later yet, I realized that the family I grew up in is one of a kind, I still did not see any family like mine, except for the one Justin and I created together. It's not to say that they don't exist, but that they are extremely, extremely rare... Sometimes I think that I must write only because of this unique vision of life that I got growing up in my family.

9 min

September Make-up Link-up (I will try to link up more today, even if they'll be short and diary-like... I have 7 prompts that I've missed in August/September.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fork in the Road - Write and Link #5

Rowan Leaves and Hole by Andy Goldsworthy (born 1956) (source)


Fork in the Road
Short Story by Natalia Lialina

Linked up with Write and Link #5

Someone knocked at the door – first quietly as if they were apologizing for an inappropriately late disturbance, then louder, with impatience and even a tone of demand. Melanya got up from her warm spot up on the Russian stove.
“Who is it at such a late hour?” she asked cautiously.
“Forgive us, dear sister, could we please stay overnight?”
The voice which asked for shelter sounded like no voice Melanya had ever heard before – in the intonations of the stranger there was something calming, something promising peace. The night was blustery, and Melanya had a tender spot in her heart for travelers who were far away from their familiar bed. She lit a candle and with very little hesitance opened the door. Two pilgrims appeared in front of her. One was tall, skinny, with big gray eyes which had a strange light in them as if they were illuminated by a magic lantern. The other one was short and a bit chubby, with small brown eyes that seemed annoyed or maybe just tired. Both were wearing long black cassocks which Melanya knew unmistakably were monk’s habits.
“Good night, dear sister, and thank you for being so kind to us exhausted strangers,” said the tall monk. “I am brother Timofei, and this is brother Dimitri.”
“Come in, have a seat, take a load off your feet,” said Melanya closing the heavy door behind them.
She opened a woven basket in which was half of the day’s loaf and offered the bread and some water to the monks. They broke the half-loaf in equal parts and ate it quickly, drinking water from the copper drinking ladle.
“Thank you, dear sister. We haven’t eaten since yesterday morning,” said brother Dimitri as he looked around the humble hut.
The home was clean and small, almost tiny, though enough for one person to be comfortable. Other than the warm spot on the top of the Russian stove, it only had two hard wooden benches to accommodate the sudden visitors. As they finished the late supper, they washed and wiped off their faces with a clean towel that Melanya offered them, and thanked the woman. Melanya snuffed out the candle that had made a dim light in the otherwise dark hut, wished the monks good sleep and went to bed. Sleeping in one room with the monks seemed somehow both a little strange and at the same time very peaceful.
“God, forgive me,” she whispered and fell deeply asleep.  

This year's had been a long and unusually hot summer, and the farmer's job had been far more difficult to complete than in years past. But as the leaves started turning yellow at the end of August, it had become stormier and colder, as if Mother Nature had finally awakened and remembered that it was time to cool down and to bring some rain to both the fields, exhausted by heat and drought, and the farmers, exhausted by heat and work. It seemed Mother Nature knew it was time to give the earth some long awaited relief from the fires that had killed so many crops and woods in the neighboring villages. As the long delayed rain cleansed the air, the villagers had danced in the showers and stretched their hands up to the sky, crying and laughing with joy, tears on their faces, both from their eyes and from the merciful forces of nature.

“Do you live here alone, sister?” asked brother Dimitri in the morning.
“All alone, brother, I’m a widow,” said Melanya.
“And how big is the village?”
“A dozen houses.”
“How-come yours is so far from the rest?”
“My husband, God forgive his sinful soul, liked to live by himself, mind his own business.”
“Say, dear sister, what happened to him?” asked brother Timofei.
“Got drunk, as always. Drowned in the river. It was a hot summer.”
Melanya pressed her lips tightly together, and brother Timofei stopped questioning her any further.
“Do you mind, dear sister, if we stay here one more night before we continue our long journey again?”  
“There is enough room, stay if you like.”

So the two monks stayed one more day and one more night, helping the young widow with her small farm, cutting and putting away firewood for the stove and even cooking a hearty dinner.
“I see they teach you everything in the monastery – you are not afraid of any work, not even ashamed of women’s jobs,” said Melanya as the three of them sat down to have some rest and a well deserved meal.
Brother Dimitri only grinned.
“There is no such a thing as a woman’s job,” said brother Timofei. “Not when you’re a monk. Work is work. It’s all the same in the eyes of God.”
They continued their meal in silence, and after cleaning the dishes off the chunky wooden table, Melanya, as always, scraped the surface of the table with an old knife. When Brother Dimitri left the hut, his fellow monk said to Melanya,
“Say, dear sister, what happened to you? I noticed you have deep scars on your right arm. And please forgive me for saying so and don’t get angry, but there is a rip on your pretty underskirt, as if you cut a part of it.”
A dark cloud fell over Melanya’s pretty face as she shifted her thick eyebrows together. Was brother Timofei who seemed such a kind soul only pretending to be a monk, God’s servant, while in fact he was like any man in the village, looking at her underskirt? A wolf in sheep’s clothing?
As if brother Timofei read her mind, he rushed to say quietly,
“Forgive me, sister, I see that my words offended you. I will not speak of it again.”
After the long day filled with work, Melanya prepared a steam bath, a good old Russian banya, to honor the unexpected helpers. With birch brooms prepared by her late husband that summer, the monks had a proper steam bath and a good night's sleep. Only Melanya could not fall asleep. The tall monk’s words sounded in her ears, not letting her fall asleep peacefully, as she usually would after a good day of work and a good rest in banya.
The monks got up with the first roosters. Melanya offered them a loaf of freshly baked bread and a jug of milk for their journey. How far they would travel, how many days or weeks - God only knew. When the young widow again had a moment alone with brother Timofei she said, “Come with me first. It’s not too far from here. Then you’ll continue your journey."
Walking through wind-fallen trees they arrived at the edge of a river. The water, which flowed slowly where the small wooden houses of the village decorated the lower banks, here, at the high bank, moved rapidly and almost violently. There, on the tall white birch, quite naked after all the rain and storms which autumn brought to the land, brother Timofei spotted a piece of white fabric. From the uneven shape and torn lace, he recognized the missing piece of Melanya’s underskirt.
“I did not take it off the tree,” said the young widow. “He was drinking as he always was, all the five years we were together after our wedding in the church. But this past summer, it got worse. I thought it couldn’t get worse. I thought…”
Melanya covered her face with her hands and cried as freely and loudly as a wounded animal would cry, not afraid of being heard in the thick forest.
The fast river, the piece of an underskirt, and the animal cry of a beautiful young widow, brought the mosaic together. He stretched his hands towards her.
“There, there, sister...”
“I know I’m a sinner. There is no forgiveness, I know it, I know. What will happen to me, brother?”
The monk looked so young to her, so pure in the early morning light there by the vigorous river. The monk could have been her brother, the one who disappeared in the smoke of the last war where hundreds and thousands of soldiers and officers had vanished. Her husband could have been one of them, disappeared or killed as her older brother had been, an older brother who stayed forever younger than her. The monk could be one of them, lost as so many men were on the fields of war. But his cassock had saved him just as a deep wound had saved her husband. They had survived. 
Brother Timofei held her cold hands in his, waiting as she cried out all her tears which swept down her face, shimmering on her cheeks.
“There are many roads here on earth, dear sister. We pick one and follow it. When we see a fork in the road, we again pick one road and follow it. Then we see another fork, and another one, and another one. There are many roads, sister, more roads than you and I can know. And even more forks.”
When the monks had gone on their way, Melanya returned to her hut, put all her modest belongings into a big woolen shawl that her late mother had given her on the day of her wedding, tied it, closed the door behind her and left the village.

September 28, 2015

Saturday, September 26, 2015

September Make-up Link-up!

Hello fellow writers,

Before we begin daily writing in October, I offer you a place to link up any missed prompts, re-writes, or simply the pieces of writing that you have been working on your own and would like to share. (Please note that we do not practice critiquing each other's writing, unless you specifically ask for it.) Feel free to write for 5 minutes or longer on any given topic and link-up whatever you have in store!

To review the prompts we did in September, from 29 to 49, go to these posts:


To review the writing prompts that we did in August, from 1 to 28, go to these posts:

Week 1

PS Want more writing challenges? Make sure you don't miss my other creative writing link-up which I host once a month on In The Writer's Closet (click HERE to participate).


Monday, September 21, 2015

Me-Time


Hello writers,

I'm taking a break from Rise & Write.
I love this brainchild of mine,
and I love your wonderful company,
But I feel like I need time for walking alone now -

Time to wander,
Time to explore freely,
Time to write without given challenges
(Even if they are self-given),
Time to simply be.

Much love & See you soon!