#SoCS: Life’s Rich Tapestry

So, Madam, on your plate tonight you have a Career Re-think and a dose of Covid about to take hold. And the dog has IBS. And the water meter outside your property has been stolen, so now there’s clean, drinkable water pouring down your street. Pity- I just hate that kind of waste, don’t you?

But that’s not what I ordered at all! I exclaimed. Take this back immediately, please, and bring me what I asked for.

The waiter smiled brightly. Aha! But that’s the thing, you see- at this establishment you don’t always get what you asked for. In fact, you rarely get what you asked for, especially on Pot-luck Night, which is most nights, by the way.

Well, I want what HE’s got, I said pointing to the table ahead of me. He’s got White Sandy Beaches and Tour of the Baltics lined up on his plate- that’s what I ordered.

The waiter was polite and patient. Again, Pot-luck, he said. Anything’s possible in this place. Did you notice our signage when you came in? He pointed to the ceiling with a sweep of his white-sleeved arm. I looked up. “Life’s Rich Tapestry” in bold blue neon letters winked down at me.

Well, I can’t deal with all this. It’s overwhelming. Maybe just leave the dog thing: I can probably handle that. I’ll take her to the vet. But the other stuff? A career re-think when I’m nearing 60? A dose of Covid? And don’t you know that COJ is in disarray- do you know how long it might take for them to replace a stolen water meter? No thanks. Take this plate away please.

Well, I’m afraid that’s not an option here. The waiter was smiling again, perhaps a little condescending this time. You see, you can’t leave until you’ve finished what’s on your plate. That’s the deal, I’m afraid. Just the way it is.

I sensed angry tears coming on, a sense of helplessness and even fear. I wanted to run away, anywhere at all, just out of here.

The waiter sat down just then, in the empty chair opposite me. His smile had softened as he spoke to me in low tones. That man over there, the one with the Beach and the Baltics on his plate- well don’t be too envious. He’s a bit of a nasty piece of work, and he doesn’t know it yet, but we’ll be dishing up some ‘Just Desserts’ for him once he’s finished his main course. He’ll be smiling on the other side of his face when I bring THAT to his table.

So, he continued, as he stood up. Best you get started, you’ve got a lot on your plate there. You’ll be fine, he added. Just remember to go with the flow. Oh, and don’t forget to self-isolate when you get home.

What do you mean? I asked.

Self-isolate, he repeated. For 10 days, for the Covid. Who knows? You might even enjoy the R &R. It’ll help you to prepare for all the other challenges ahead.

But how do I get the dog to the vet if I have to self-isolate? I asked.

He shrugged. You’ll figure it out, he said. You’ve got friends, family, neighbours. These things are sometimes sent to test us. And it’s often all part of something bigger. He was looking up at the ceiling. I followed his gaze. The signed winked at me again, like a gentle reminder. “Life’s Rich Tapestry.”

#SoCS Writing Prompts, Sat 26/11/22: ‘On Your Plate’.

Photo by Igor Starkov on Pexels.com

#1liner Weds: The Nose Knows

Have you ever been drawn to something that your normal logic tells you should repulse you? Scare you even? But you just can’t explain it. And you just can’t help yourself…

The Nose Knows- a flash fiction tale

The smell hit her in a wave of nausea as she slid into the driver’s seat. He’d done it again! Smoked a cigar in the car, ground it down into a stinking ball, and left it there it in the ashtray overnight. Left it there for someone else to clean up. She gritted her teeth, opened the window, and drove off, her hands tight and tense on the steering wheel.

On the highway, exhaust fumes from the car in front of her made her gag, so she closed the window again. With her indicator on, she managed to overtake the car and continue to the offramp where she turned into the mall and into her usual parking bay. She noticed a dark patch of oil on the tarmac next to her as she pulled in- someone else’s oil leak. Its petroleum stink, hot in the late morning sun, rose to meet her as she stepped out of the car. The nausea nearly overwhelmed her as she locked the car behind her and headed for the salon, the doors sliding open as she stepped into the entrance.

The smells of the salon– peroxide and acetone and all the things for nails and hair dyes– was stifling, and the stink of hair being by fried by extreme heat made her feel dizzy. The receptionist was understanding: “It’s no problem, Mrs Arends. Rather just go home if you’re unwell. Just phone us when you feel better, and we’ll be happy to reschedule today’s appointment.”

Stepping into the house, the smells of aerosol polish and oven cleaner reminded her instantly that today was Wednesday, the day the cleaning service people came in. Walking quickly up the stairs to her bedroom, she could tell that there would be no peace up here either– the entire upstairs level smelt of linen washed in too much detergent (she had asked them previously to adjust the amounts), and of the overpowering, artificially floral scents of fabric softener hanging in the air. Opening the door to the ensuite bathroom, she collided with the harsh stink of household bleach stinging her nostrils, her eyes, her throat.

She was walking towards the far end of the homestead grounds now, far from the main house, where the air was cool and soft and smelt of greenery and of the bark of the surrounding trees. She’d walked this way exactly once before: years ago, when they had first moved onto the property. Now she made her way past the simple stone and brick cottages that belonged to the farmhands and other workers on the property. It was peaceful, and very quiet- nobody home during working hours. Ahead of her was a simple stone wall, not very high, and some distance behind the wall was a cottage made of yellow bricks, a bit bigger than the simple cottages that the farmhands occupied. She recognised it as the home of the groundskeeper and his wife. There was a small garden adjoining the cottage, with rows of ripening mielie cobs, a few spinach plants, and five or six red and white hens scratching about. She kept walking.

The smell was like nothing she’d ever experienced: gamey and pungent and almost overpowering. It was the smell of something rotting, but with a strange, almost-freshness to it: organic and nearly edible. As she approached the wall, she saw that it was one section of a square enclosure, its height reaching just above her waist as she leaned over. The pigs continued to grunt contentedly as they chewed and slurped and sucked– the slops and kitchen leftovers being churned and pushed and pummeled by their round, flat, fleshy snouts as they grazed. As she stood and watched, the thought of humus came to her: stuff of the earth, and mushroom compost or maybe manure. She thought about the vegetable garden they had kept briefly when they first moved onto the property. It hadn’t really worked out– he’d wanted pavers– and the project was finally abandoned. She stood and watched the pigs, admiring their snouts, how busy-busy and agile, and imagined them rooting in the roots, hunting for truffles in the dirt (it was pigs that did that, wasn’t it?), their nostrils alive with the sweet smell of decay. Imagined then grinding their snouts into the dark earth, the stuff of life. She imagined them sniffing out and hunting down those hidden treasures, till, finally, success- their noses caked in dirt, and the precious thing, the strangely shaped nub of fungus, now within reach.

When he at last found her, she was lying on her back on one section of the wall with her knees bent, gazing calmly up at the early evening sky. She had one hand on her stomach, gently caressing the small mound there: 16 weeks exactly, give or take a day or two. He vaguely heard her say something about not coming back tonight. About being just where she needed to be.


Written for One Liner Wednesday at Linda G Hill

(Not always) the sweet smell of success.’


 Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

#1liner Weds: How to find your Writing Feet

“Tain’t no Sin to Take off your Skin, and Dance around in your Bones.”

Ray Bradbury’s book, ‘Zen in the Art of Writing’, mentions this little ditty above, which he describes as his ‘favourite tune’ when he was young. At first glance this ditty is deceptively quaint and whimsical, but I find it quite profound: it talks of the act of baring your writing soul, reveling in the freedom of unrestricted expression as you go about finding your voice, and the joy of being unrestrained and unconcerned about what everyone else might think of you as you do so.

I’m loving reading this book; I find it many things: humorous, informative, irreverent, wise, enthused, energising, reassuring, warm, honest, and all based on Ray Bradbury’s many years of writing experience and ‘living large’ even as a pre-teen. He delves into his childhood loves and fears and pains and talks about how these things carried him and informed him as writer and story- teller.

I’m quoting below from Chapter One- The Joy of Writing:

“… the first thing a writer should be is -excited. He should be a thing of fevers and enthusiasms. Without such vigor, he might as well be out picking peaches or digging ditches; God knows it’d be better for his health. How long has it been since you wrote a story where your real love or your real hatred somehow got onto the paper? What are the best things and the worst things in your life, and when are you going to get around to whispering or shouting them?”

I love writing fiction; expressing myself through storytelling- I find it cathartic, and I find it helps me to delve into my thoughts and feelings and reveal these on the page in the way that’s right for me. Frustratingly though, storytime too often ends up on the back burner as the rest of the stuff of life takes over. Not a good excuse, I know. Ray Bradbury would probably tell me to just Find my Feet, Hit the Page Running, and to Spill my Guts in the process!

Written for One Liner Wednesday at Linda G Hill

#SoCS: Rite of Passage

Have you ever misjudged or misinterpreted a situation so badly that it leaves you reeling? Or maybe you misunderstood someone’s motives- assumed good intentions where none existed, and you now feel that you can’t trust the person, and maybe can’t trust your own judgment in certain situations. Poor judgment and misunderstandings can happen to anyone, but they have a way of knocking our self-confidence and can even leave one in a really difficult position…

He was running at me now, picking up speed as he got closer, his right arm raised and bent at the elbow, the ball in his hand. My eyes were on the ball, my feet firmly planted, bat raised to strike. I saw the ball leave his hand, and as I swung at it, I immediately realised my lack of judgment. My angle was wrong- I had swung into the gap, and there was no contact. Instead of that clean smack of bat to ball, there was the heart-sinking sound of the ball hitting the wicket, and the tumble of bits falling over as they hit the ground on impact. I heard the fielder nearest me to my left shout out in glee as he clapped his hands, “Bowled him!” and from the corner of my eye the long white sleeve of the umpire lifted slowly towards vertical, his index finger pointed, his face deadpan. There was no argument to be had here- as I slowly removed my visor and gloves, the fielders and the bowler were already huddled together, patting each other on the back and exchanging high fives. Amidst the loud cheers of excitement from the spectators and the celebratory music that had now started up in the stadium, I heard a strange sound, a low hum followed by a deep clear voice coming from nowhere that I could see. “You’re out. It’s time to leave the playing field.” “Yes, I can see that,” I muttered to myself, beyond irritated at having the obvious pointed out to me by someone or something that I couldn’t even see. I was now headed towards the players’ change rooms, anxious to escape my humiliation with the comfort of a hot shower. But the entrance to the change room was now blocked off by a locked gate, and I found myself being ushered down a long passageway- a different route to the change rooms, I assumed. I heard the sound again, the same voice as before, this time: “That route cannot be opened for you. Please make your way down the passageway.” I continued to walk down the passage which now seemed to stretch further in front of me with each step, and I realised after some minutes that I could no longer hear any sounds from the stadium above. The passageway was dark and soundless, barring the crunch of my own footsteps. I sensed my irritation growing, and I thought about turning back. I stopped and shouted into the void in front and behind me. “Hey! What’s going on here? I just want to get to the showers, guys! I’ve just had a really crappy game of cricket, and I’d like to get out of here right now, please!” Again, that low hum, closer than before, followed by the voice, so close now that it seemed to vibrate from inside the passage walls: “Well then someone didn’t properly explain the rules to you, unfortunately. That was not just a game of cricket. That was the game of life.”  

#SoCS Writing Prompts, Sat 22/10/22: “Bowl.”

Photo by Yogendra Singh on Pexels.com

#SoCS: The Happiest Place

Is it that thing we all seek, where when we find it, we want to return again and again? The place that we keep in our hearts, where we feel at home and at peace when the world at large is wearing us down? Yes, it is, and maybe more besides. Can a place, a physical and geographical space, experience happiness? Do non-human entities experience happiness and other qualities that we normally associate with humanness, with the experience of being human in this world? If you could ask a place what would make it happiest, it might well tell you it would be happy if there were no humans in it…..

Spirit of Eden: Those two worry me. Getting a bit too sure of themselves round here. I can tell you now that pretty soon they’re gonna be sprouting a bunch of mini-me’s and start taking over the place.

Serpent: They seem nice enough. Not causing any harm that I can see.

Spirit of Eden: Yes, they are nice- always friendly and smiling. Not too bright though. I just don’t trust what’s coming once the offspring start arriving, all running about looking for food and shelter and the like. For now they seem happy in their little tree house, but in no time you’re gonna have droves of them all vying for access to the trees with the best view, and cutting branches off to build porches and family rooms and things, and it will just get worse from there, I can tell you. I just don’t trust them. You wait- soon they’re all gonna be running around in their numbers, pushing us around, acting like they own the place.

Serpent: Ok, So what next?

Spirit of Eden: We get them out. Before the damage starts. And here’s where it’s over to you, my fine friend. I’ve seen Miss Evey passing by under this very tree a few times lately, and she looks up into the branches and gets a certain look on her face- maybe she’s after one of these nice ripe apples, or maybe it’s your natural charms that put the sparkle in her eyes these days….

Serpent blushed a bit. You’re too kind, he said. So, tell me…. what’s the Boss’s feelings about all of this? I mean, he’s the one who bought them here in the first place.

Spirit of Eden: Well, I haven’t had a heart to heart with him about it, but I do check in with the old guy on occasion. He hasn’t said much but I suspect he’s beginning to share my concerns.

Serpent: Ok, so what do I do?

Spirit of Eden: You lead her astray, o charming one, by whatever means you deem necessary. And once the Boss sees that she’s been flouting the rules, well, he’ll take it from there.

Serpent: Ok, sounds like it could be fun. So, I’ll just wait up here then, shall I? Maybe I’ll just shed another layer while I wait- make sure my skin has that irresistible glow going on. I’m sure she’ll be along sometime very soon…..

#SoCS Writing Prompts, Sat 15/10/22: “Happy Place.”

Picture of Eve from Pexels

#SoCS: ‘Back of the Fridge’


08/10/22: There may be forgotten treasures there: unopened jars of your favourite relish that you were saving for a rainy day. Or something else entirely: a jar of greenish, blackened mycelium fuzz, effectively disguising the host underneath. You read the label for clues, and there it is: ‘Bandini’s Grated Parmesan,’ with an expiry date that has itself long expired. Here’s my take on it- a tale with a tweak:


The Creature in the Kitchen:

The man from the appliance repair centre appeared puzzled.

Well, I can’t see much wrong here- your connections are all fine, the thermostat is working. I’ve checked everything.

It’s not just that, she replied. Nothing in the fridge is passed its expiry date, and yet stuff just keeps going bad in here. This fridge is rendering my food inedible. You’re the expert- you need to tell me what to do.

There was an awkward silence. He was looking down at the floor, biting his lip, frowning.

Well, there is one thing, he said finally. But this is going to sound weird, so just bear with me, please.

Tell me, she said. I’m all ears.

Well, I think you might have a Kitchen Goblin at the back of the fridge. Behind the fridge, most likely.

What? Are you serious? I thought those things were just a joke. An urban myth….

Oh no, they’re real, all right. Last week a woman in your street called on me for her washing machine. Kept on switching itself off mid-cycle. I found the darn little creature hiding away in the detergent dispenser. I removed it on the spot, of course.

Well, then let’s do it. I can’t go on like this.

Are you sure? They’re nasty little things, and they tend to jump up at your face when exposed. I can call for assistance if you like.

The sooner this can be sorted, the better, she said. Let’s just get it over with. She was now leaning against the fridge, ready to start pulling it away from the wall.

He joined her on the other side, preparing to pull.

Ready? He said. On the count of three:  one, two, …….


#SoCS Writing Prompts, Saturday 08/10/22: ‘Back of the Fridge’