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  • Zoe fiddles with the fringing on the armchair cushion in their Mother’s bedroom as she searches for something to say.  The faded ochre threads reminiscent of their gaudy grandmother from whom the cushions had be […]

    • I love how you expressed the old lady’s words. I was right there listening to them! I also loved your description of the “domino of tingles reverberates from top to toe”. Very good. Interesting piece or scene being all in one room over a short period.

      Good writing.

    • Artfully woven! I love the use of the cushion to begin and end the story. I especially liked the line, “Her Mother’s ragged breathing mirrors her own as tries to shove the lid back on the years of aching accusations.”

    • This is a really evocative piece and your best yet in my opinion. Some beautiful phrasing in here – too many examples to pick one out. I feel so bad for Maggie, especially when her mother wakes and can only say hurtful things with her dying breaths. Nice work

  • Jane thank you. My kids are still little, 11 ,12 and 17 so I’m not empty nested just yet although my daughter is going to boarding school next year. Probably what sparked the story. I’m struggling with the emotional “coming to terms” with that decision. Thank you for reading and commenting. So happy you stopped by xxx

  • Hey Chantel so happy to read your comments thanks for much. High praise indeed coming from you, I shall hug them tightly. X

  • Oh my, this conversation was so well done it reminds me so much of the phone conversations with have with my father-in-law in the UK at the moment. Liked the way you tied the birthday into the ending and the last phrase: “continued stirring the pot of whatever with my frustration in it and a certain grin”. Yep. sums it up. Very moving.

  • Jane, this was such an easy read in that it flowed beautifully and had me hooked from the word go! Not an easy feat! Great descriptions, great pacing and nice detailing. I did think she was more of a vengeful woman fuelled by a need to get her won back rather than a do-gooder so somehow the ending for me seemed wrapped up in a beige bow… but I…[Read more]

  • Like sinking into a plush velvet sofa and watching a period drama. Agree with the comments above, lovely descriptions, one of my favs: “his arms descend slowly while his chest, invaded by the encompassing rhythm of her mouth, by her warmth, by sadness, stays cold”.

  • Ohhhh a niggling creepiness the whole way building to the big reveal at the end. It was the smell that weaved it’s way and propelled the story on for me, the smell that wouldn’t go away and got louder and more threatening as the story progressed to the overwhelming stench of the corpses. Shudder! You crafted this so well Chantel with some…[Read more]

  • So atmospheric. So brooding. Intrigued by how his description of this building is almost a comment on his much disliked self. I really enjoyed this new story line and hope to see much more of this. You have such a beautiful turn of phrase, such vivid descriptions and you create mood so well. Almost filmic. Loved x

  • Loved the ending Catherine it left me wondering if she would repeat what she’d said or just go with the flow again. Only a matter of time I reckon. You painted the picture of her growing discontent well. Nice one!

  • This is such a warm story. It gave me the “feels”. Your prose flows so easily and your dialogue bounces back and forth effortlessly. Bravo. So many beautiful descriptions and pictures painted; ” It was his custom to park in the rear, not because the car was nice, but because it wasn’t. It coughed to a start, wheezed to the entrance, then d…[Read more]

  • Ah your comment made my day. You get it! You get the rose tinted perspective of stale bread…this is where my idea was born, in the bread that can be repurposed… trying to conjure up a stale marriage that still works on some levels. Despair, distaste yet deep affection and intricate bonds that tie them together. Thank you for your open heart.…[Read more]

  • Yes. I really didn’t want to explore this but in the end couldn’t come up with another story idea. I started with the sourdough idea as an analogy for a marriage but somehow when I started writing I got immersed in the emotional undercurrent and had to scrabble to fit it in at the end. Thanks Gills and thanks for your generous comments. x

  • Argh I knew it, I kept spell checking but of course it didn’t pick up smoother as it is also a word. Smother, of course, thank you. Thanks Catherine for reading my piece and for commenting. It’s a complicated thing love and marriage even more so. Thx

  • Are you kidding? Not poor at all! It rattled along at a great pace and the writing flowed so easily. Kudos! Fab take on the prompt. Your use of language really paints a visual picture for the reader, loved the Pantone 012 reference. Your characterisations are clear (loved the adjective spikey) and defined and the energy between the various…[Read more]

  • You feel for this man flaws and all. You root for him despite being an anti-hero. Clever. Sad.

  • I loved the beginning of this piece, the beautiful descriptive phrasing “Dark clouds scudded across the low sky and the wind, which had trickled through her window vents yesterday had now decided to launch an attack”. The ominous pacing built to great effect. Love the characters name Dora Spiddal BTW. I enjoyed the build up right til the end…[Read more]

  • The feverish chirping of birdsong pecks its way in and then out of my subconscious and jars me into a rude awakening. The quiet night is broken by the dawn chorus lead by a few braggart soloists determined to […]

    • Beautiful words. Your story starts off well but I must say it really gets into its groove from the third paragraph. The picture you paint is both familiar and painful and you so delicately express the duality of love in all its forms.
      A typo with ‘I smoother an urge ‘ should be smother but easily fixed.
      You mentioned struggling with the end however I thought the ending fitting. Thank you for sharing.

      • Argh I knew it, I kept spell checking but of course it didn’t pick up smoother as it is also a word. Smother, of course, thank you. Thanks Catherine for reading my piece and for commenting. It’s a complicated thing love and marriage even more so. Thx

    • Wow! this is powerful and so evocative. The sadness is pretty palpable and I particularly love the paragraph where you want to crumple up his papery skin and throw it in the bin – “our bodies have betrayed us” – so many of us can relate to that idea and the “sagging punishment of time has taken its inevitable toll” – really good use of language here. It’s telling how sometimes our best work comes when we feel negative emotions most deeply.

      • Yes. I really didn’t want to explore this but in the end couldn’t come up with another story idea. I started with the sourdough idea as an analogy for a marriage but somehow when I started writing I got immersed in the emotional undercurrent and had to scrabble to fit it in at the end. Thanks Gills and thanks for your generous comments. x

    • I love the turn at the end. You said you ran out of time, but I wouldn’t change it. Things that are stale can still be wonderful; the Panzanella and even the old man.

      • Ah your comment made my day. You get it! You get the rose tinted perspective of stale bread…this is where my idea was born, in the bread that can be repurposed… trying to conjure up a stale marriage that still works on some levels. Despair, distaste yet deep affection and intricate bonds that tie them together. Thank you for your open heart. x Funnily enough I re-read it this morning and would still end it this way now.

    • Hi Julie-Anne
      I love this piece. You’ve written such beauty into the mundane moments, though those are the moments that often spur deep thought. I love how you concluded it, and the message of making good things out of what you have is well-expressed and ever so heartening. Well done

    • Hi Julie-Anne, Gosh this is a very honest piece. After being married for 25 years in a month I can really relate in so many ways. In fact it is scary how much I can relate. The only difference being my three have not flown the coop yet. All still here at 22, 20 and 17. But I can see that day is drawing very near when I have the empty nest. You have captured it beautifully and some of the thoughts that go through my own mind. Well done.

      • Jane thank you. My kids are still little, 11 ,12 and 17 so I’m not empty nested just yet although my daughter is going to boarding school next year. Probably what sparked the story. I’m struggling with the emotional “coming to terms” with that decision. Thank you for reading and commenting. So happy you stopped by xxx

    • Hi Julie-Anne,
      great work! Why are you dissatisfied with the ending? I love the mentality it evokes, of doing the best out of dry bread. Great use of the prompt all they way through. Very honest prose, the closeness to the details, your slow paced description of the autumn of a marriage, the portrait of decay. You took on the difficult task to tell the passing of time, and you did it all through the story but what really got me was when she cut her finger: in that split second before the blood comes out and times stands still, 25 years have passed… wow. Brilliant way of telling it through such a simple detail. Very observant writing. Brilliant.

    • you do what I term ‘literary’ fiction very well.
      yes, a somewhat depressing observation but it can’t all be sunshine, moonshine and roses. your descriptions were so spot on, I also felt the queasy-ness of that dogs-breathe first morning kiss.

      I hope our other halves never get to read our brutally honest observations – they are not flattering and yet they probably see us in the same way – or not. some men are really not that observant.
      my favourite telling description – that really tells me that this couple, despite all their faults and sags, will remain together for another 20-odd years is this line – which is a masterstroke imho :
      ‘…and his body seeks out the contours of my body into which it can nestle. Like an answer to its question’ – sheer brilliance.

      great piece.

    • What a beautiful story! Thank you so much for writing it. As I read it, I could see myself on the cusp of this, no empty nest just yet, but still feeling that ‘will this never end?’ from domestic moments of homework and after school madness. I also see myself sometime in the near future watching our bodies slide quicker down the gravity slide, it’s already happening but reading your story made it an ‘us’ thing rather than just my own. So I read this with relief as I realised that a partnership is going hand in hand together over all terrains to the peace that comes with familiarity. Sweet, sweet story and the ending was perfect!

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Julie-Anne McDowell

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@julieannemcdowellhegartyoutlook-com

active 1 month, 3 weeks ago