#writephoto: Baginbun

For Sue Vincent’s #writephoto. A different angle this week. Same story.

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They stand on the rath, neither knowing what it is—tourists, here today, gone tomorrow. Gone in about half an hour. The guidebook calls it a ringfort and they’d been expecting something like the Alamo. It’s a disappointment so they watch the sunset instead, oblivious of the voices that whisper in the wind and the grass.

The fort, perched on a rocky promontory looks down on the lough on one side, the sea on the other, was destroyed more than eight hundred years ago. They can’t imagine eight hundred years and think cave men, not real people. The stones remember, and the rocks below where the defenders were thrown once their arms and legs were broken. The gulls echo their last cries.

She puts an arm around his neck and kisses his ear. “Do you think there was a restaurant in that village we passed?”

He nuzzles her neck. “I hope so. We’ll just have to keep on driving until we find one otherwise. I’m famished.”

They scramble down off the rath and make their way back to the road. The gulls call but they don’t hear. Below, waves break on rocks and the white of bones. After eight hundred years, only bones are left, though they were scarcely more than bone when they were alive. The siege. Nothing but rocks to eat. No fresh water. There had been no need for the brutality; they were already ghosts. The bones settle, let the waves rock them, listening to the songs of the seals, waiting for final oblivion.


Writing exercise: Tension

Issa Dioume is passing on some of Ursula Le Guin’s writing advice in the form of exercises. This one is to write a short scene of less than 150 words using whole, grammatical sentences of no more than seven words. This is a condensed scene from my WIP.

The watch slams the door closed again. Will she come? The message surely won’t leave her indifferent. Énna is her favourite brother. Minutes pass, and the postern gate opens. Aoife stands there, two gallowglasses behind her. Her eyes widen in surprise.

“You? Why has Énna sent you?”

Art’s eyes shift to the gallowglasses. Their hands grip sword hilts. He fumbles for something in his cloak.


He reaches out a hand. Aoife steps forward to take the message. His empty hand grabs her arm. He pulls her outside; a gallowglass lunges. One by one, Art can take them. His sword slices across the Ostman’s throat. The return stroke catches the man behind. Art whistles for his horse, turning.

“You are coming with me.”

The words die in his throat. Aoife faces him, drawn sword in hand. Her eyes flash in fury.



#Three Line Tales: My heart

For Sonya’s three line tale photo prompt.

photo by Nick Fewings via Unsplash



He painted a heart on her wall but she wouldn’t see him.

He painted himself tugging on her heart but she wouldn’t return his calls.

She took her heart with her when she moved away, to give to the one she wanted, not the creep who used to stalk her from the bus stop.

#writephoto: Guivre

Another scene from the end of the story. For Sue Vincent’s #writephoto challenge, which for me is turning into a storyboard for my WIP.

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He hears Aoife screaming to him to come back. It is too late, she says. No revenge will bring back Gileabard. He doesn’t listen, can’t. His ears are full of the child’s screaming, and his eyes see nothing but green coils draped in white. Not revenge. It is a past of false promises, false happiness that he will kill.

She knew what would happen as soon as she saw him wading into the water. As if a sword could protect him. Guivre, she heard him shout, scream, and the water boiled. He lies now on the bank, his face lily-white, his soft grey eyes blank, staring at something she cannot see. She rips the left leg of his chausses with the sword and reveals the wound—two red staring eyes, rage and despair.

He doesn’t fight. She can see from his eyes that he is leaving, following a call, or simply slipping into gentler waters. She doesn’t understand. She has never known what he promised, or what promises he had broken. All she knows is that it is over. She picks up his sword and stands on the lake’s edge. She shouts to the Guivre to show herself, but the lake is calm now; even the ripples have died.

A sigh. She turns and catches sight of the wisp of breath that is Riseárd’s last. The sword, glowing cold and green, squirms in her hand, and with a cry she drops it in the water, watching through the first of her tears as its coils slither out of sight into the depths. She turns to the lily-white face, stiller even than the lake water, and the world is filled with emptiness.

If only

Five-word messages to send beyond the grave, for the Daily Inkling’s prompt.


“I said they were poisonous”

To next-door’s kid who ate the holly berries.


“The pic didn’t come out.”

To your bestie who was in a selfie accident at the top of the Eiffel Tower.


“It wasn’t your size anyway.”

To the girl you stabbed in the January sales.


“I said the bus stops.”

To your grandad knocked down up on the main road trying to flag down a coach full of Dutch tourists racing to make the last ferry to Rotterdam.


“I thought I’d filled it.”

To your brother who dived into the empty swimming pool during a drunken party.


“Pitbulls are rarely just smiling.”

To your brother after he agreed to hold his dealer’s dog for a minute.




Flash fiction: Casting off

Flash fiction for the Daily Inkling’s prompt—sink or swim.

With thanks to Paul Militaru for the photographic inspiration. This one’s for you, Paul

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They had often stood on this bridge, out in the middle of the river where the current appeared to rush fiercest, though it seemed to her a lifetime since she had watched the rushing water with excitement. Once, she had felt carried along on the back of some great animal or bird, to places she had never seen, to be someone she had not yet met. She felt like the river, rolling and racing to the sea, longing to throw herself helter-skelter into its huge embrace. The world was vast then and there was no horizon.

He stands next to her in silence. Once, she would have known what he was thinking. Once she would have cared. Doesn’t she? She has to ask herself. There’s a twinge of pain, because the answer is, yes, she does care. She twiddles the stem of a red rose in her fingers. He has always bought her a rose when the Gypsies come around the restaurant tables. She used to think it was romantic. Now she sees that he simply doesn’t want to look like a cheapskate.

She twiddles the rose and looks along the river to the horizon, because there is a horizon now, and she knows that whatever is beyond it will stay hidden, out of reach. What you get is what you see. He shuffles, and she thinks she hears a sigh. She moves closer. Their hands touch and he doesn’t move away. They are on the edge, of the bridge, the horizon, the rushing water, the unseen ocean. One way is back to the bland indifference until they wake up one morning and find that somehow, the other is no longer there. The other way is onward, to watch the coiling water and follow where it leads. How to know which way to fall?

She lets the rose drop from her fingers. They both watch as it falls, head first, red and unopened. They watch as it is caught by the current and dragged out of sight. The water squirms, dark green and rapid. She realises she is holding her breath. Then she sees it, the red splash bobbing, twirling in a little whirlpool before shooting off after the rest of the river. To the sea. She turns and he is looking at her, an idiotic grin on his face. Reflected in his eyes, her face smiles back.