Category Archives: Writing

spider on web

A Casual Flash

Jane got used to the darkness very slowly. She didn’t want to participate in this joke, as they called it. Yet, she had no choice. Now that things had gone too far, Jane couldn’t see how she could escape with both her reputation and dignity unbruised. She moved her stiffened fingers and felt dumb pain from pressing them too hard to the door handle. Working in a kitchen had never been her dream job, but even that seemed like a sweet paradisical world compared to the haggard reality of the moment.

“Jim,” she mumbled carefully. Then, more boldly, “Jim, are you there? Unlock the door already.”

No answer came from the other side. The radio unit cracked softly and went completely silent. Another day passed, then another night. Jane awoke to the cold truth that no one would hear her knocks and cries. Being found by chance now was an outcome that entertained a very thin chance.

© 2016, Mariya Koleva

Wasteful, addicted, bruise

Wasteful Till Addicted to Bruise

I haven’t written for 3WW for a long time. Here are the 3 Words for Wednesday, last week – Wasteful, Addicted, Bruise. This time I felt like a flashy.
Wasteful, addicted, bruise

Wasteful – Addicted – Bruise
“If you’re wasteful in your habits, your body’ll get addicted to bruises.”

A board with that slogan on it hanged on the wall just over the blackboard in our classroom. For four years my eyes fixed on it when looking up. I grew so accustomed to the words that I lost all sense of their meaning. Which, at first, I couldn’t understand. I read and read, but I didn’t see the logic and the idea behind them. Then, one winter morning, we all got the message in a clear crispy tone. Three of our schoolmates were on the sports playground, in their underpants only, bodies bruised badly, heads hanging in utter shame. Large cardboard signs hanged on their necks, and on them one could read: “Wasteful, ergo bruised.”
The trick of the remaining years at the school was to keep from getting addicted.

See you next time 🙂

PS. And here is a link to the original posting where you can read what the others have come up with.

215 week of worldes

To the Tower Over the Bridge Across the Pond

For the 215th Wordle by Sunday Whirl:
/organs tower money poor pond friends cell dna teeth signal bridge skirt/
I didn’t write a poem. As you see.
215 week of worldes***
Shine had her mother’s DNA in her cells. She knew it well, it hurt. All her mother’s organs had collapsed and defaulted by her 45th year due to the booze and pills, and all the unknown substances she took. Her teeth decayed as early as her 25th year, while Shine was still a little girl. In fact, didn’t have a memory of good teeth in her mother’s mouth.

The tower where all poor and diseased people had to go was leaning over the pond ready to fall. No one had friends and no one would signal the outer world about the things that happened there. You needed money to cross the bridge back to your previous life.

Shine put on her best skirt and a new shirt and went out of the flat.
(c) 2015, MK

Say Good Bye To Childhood

A year and a half ago, on August 3rd 2012, I was inspired by a photo prompt a fellow-Wordsmither, Gerry Wilson, had suggested. I sat down and wrote the first two sentences of a short story. The story was in my head. I planned to write it over the coming weekend and even commented on Gerry’s blog with a promise that my next comment will contain the link.

Some time later, the photo was still on my desktop, giving me hard time for a promise unkept. The worst part is that the story was still in my head, but I didn’t find the time to sit down again. I deleted the picture, but thank goodness I kept the initial sentences on file.

Here is the story. Not exactly the one that was in my head, but pretty much so.

“Jumping Into Swimming Pool” by Ian Kahn Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Jumping Into Swimming Pool” by Ian Kahn
Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

*This is a story without a title*

Here is Gerry Wilson’s original post. It is really awesome that I managed to find it, as well as recover the picture again.

 

***
From left to right on this picture are Peter, Susan, Bobby, my cousin Rebecca and me, Quentin. My sister Alex took the photo from across the pool. That was the first day of the happiest summer I’ve ever had. Later on, I would remember it over so many a tearful nights, that it would hurt me in the throat to even pronounce the names. Especially the name of the one who is not on it.

That is Susan’s parents’ pool we are standing at, on the picture. We took the picture in July, the morning after Susan’s 15th birthday. After that we would go and play there every day. Early in the morning I would crawl out of my bed and run to the terrace of my step-mother’s luxury house, to see that Peter is already standing on the edge of the pool.
“Hey, Pete,” I would shout out. “Wait for me. Don’t jump in!”

Then, without looking to see if he would do as asked, I darted downstairs, past my smiling step-mom whose understanding brown eyes always followed me with a playful flicker, and across our freshly-mown lawn.

I rarely had the time for the official passage to Susan’s, but usually used the wicket gate our fathers had made in the wall, out of good neighborly manners. Our fathers were friends, indeed. I think they had gone together at University, if not even something more. One morning, I passed through the gate and reached the pool, only to see Pete and Susan making out at the near pool bank. First, I heard Susan’s giggle and hurried whispers, then I saw them. Seeing me, both pushed away from each other and looked different directions. I didn’t care what they did, but I was thankful they tried at least to keep some decency and not make us all uncomfortable in their presence.

Pete snapped, “Where’s Alex?”
“God, Alex,” I would slap my face. I had forgotten her again. Alex was my half-sister. She was my father’s daughter from his marriage to my step-mom: a cutie, 4 years old, and very gentle. She was often ill, her lungs had some difficulties. I don’t know what was wrong with her then. The only thing our parents told me was I had to take good care of her and not molest her in any way. I liked the kid, so I didn’t mind looking after her whenever I could. Sometimes I forgot she existed, though.

When Peter asked his sleek question, intending to send me away so he could steal a couple of more kisses and squeezes from Susan, I ran back to our house. Alex was waiting for me on the steps in front, smiling. Her mom was right behind her, holding a towel. Rebecca had already left for her parents’ villa somewhere on the coast. Alex was my responsibility now.

I stopped insecurely. My step-mom had seen me, as usual, when I passed through the kitchen, but had said nothing. Why hadn’t she made me stop and wait for Alex? She had only looked at me in her peculiar way.

“Alex,” I said, “are you ready? Let’s go swim.” I stooped and pinched her on the cheek. She beamed, “Let’s, Quentin. Let’s.”
Turning to her mom, she waved, “Bye, mommy.”
Her mom let a vixen-like smile and silked out, “I’ll be dreaming of you, honey.”

I felt great discomfort. It was as if this was meant for me. I looked at her, but she was smiling innocently like a Madonna, tenderly patting her daughter’s shoulder. Maybe I was wrong. Alex took my hand and we went to Susan’s. Bobby was already in the water, inflating a rubber toy for Alex. I didn’t see Peter, but Susan was sitting in a chair under a parasol. Her sunglasses covered her eyes, so I didn’t know if she saw us. Alex tore her hand from mine and, screaming with joy, jumped in the swimming pool. Bobby met her with a welcoming hurray and hurried to reach her. Alex couldn’t swim at all, no one had taught her, but she managed quite well while in the water. Bobby was holding on to the toy and pushed it forward for Alex to grab on to it. She did and, screaming even more, struggled to climb on it. Finally, she tried to jump over Bobby. They liked each other very much. He stood still so that she wouldn’t tip and helped her stand on his shoulders. I was looking at them, and didn’t notice Susan had disappeared.

When I finally got in the water, I took a look around the swimming pool and noticed that we were alone in the entire yard. “Maybe those two are upstairs in a bedroom,” I thought disgusted and curious at the same time. I tried to imagine what they could possibly do in a room with a bed, and I remembered the films showing a man and a woman alone, but I wasn’t sure exactly how this was done. I wasn’t that curious either. OK, I was, but only to a certain degree, and then, I preferred playing in the pool.

Then we heard the scream. And another scream. Alex froze, her eyes fixated on an upstairs window. Next thing, she gasped and dropped from Bobby’s shoulders in the pool. She breathed in trying to speak, swallowed some water and choked. Bobby held her tight and made a stroke toward the edge of the pool. I was right after them. We took Alex out and Bobby patted her on the back slightly. Alex was not OK. She continued to cough, her thin shoulders jerked up and down, and she could not breathe. I stared at her, and exchanged panicked looks with Bobby, who continued patting her. We had to try to make her breathe freely, but we didn’t know how. We laid her down on the tiles. It just got worse. So, we decided to turn her to her side. Seconds passed by and Alex didn’t recover. Her small body was turning stiff, her face got blue.

We completely forgot about Pete and Susan. The house on the other side of the swimming pool did not exist. The swimming pool was not there. Bobby and I stopped breathing, stared at Alex, and we were holding her hands. Alex was not breathing either.

Then we heard Susan.
“Help! Help me! Bobby! Quentin! Help!”

I looked at Bobby and nodded. He darted toward the house. I stayed with Alex and trembled. Alex was dying or maybe dead. I didn’t know how to tell the difference. I was so cold and so afraid, that I didn’t dare to think. I remember now that hot tears rolled down my cheeks and shocked me. I wanted to wake up and see that all was a stupid and horrible dream, but I knew it wasn’t, so I cried in my helpless 15 years. I just slumped on the tiles beside Alex’s cooling small body, still holding her thin white hand, while my elbow was hooked under her head, now hanging loose and heavy. I wept, not caring who will see me or how I looked. I broke down and my shoulders shook until numb. My face paralyzed distorted and my thoughts were illogical, they felt like frightened deer scurrying through a forest scared by each leaf shadow and every moving shrub.

I didn’t know how much time had passed. When I finally looked up, I saw Bobby walking slowly and mechanically, like a zombie. He came out of the house and stopped, unsure where to go. For a moment I thought he would walk straight into the pool, but he checked himself and only then he noticed us. He ran to Alex, and squatted next to us, but didn’t touch her. Only then I saw his hand was cut and bleeding.

“What happened?” we both asked the other one. Looking at each other’s eyes, we knew that we were lost.

Our childhood was over.

© 2014, mariya koleva

NaNo winner 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013 – How Well I Did?

NaNo winner 2013This year, for the third time, though not exactly in a row, I took part in NaNoWriMo. After I did it first in 2010, I have never stopped seeing myself as a fiction writer, although somewhat insecure at first.
Here is a summary of my achievements this time and an overview of how those stand next to past years’ achievements:

  • This year I managed to cover the 50k distance and did it even faster than before. I validated on the very last day, but the total pure writing time I took this November was maybe just two thirds of the two previous forays.
  • This year I finished my story. I did the same the second time, too. This year I finished the story on the very day when NaNoWriMo finished, and I actually validated a complete text. As a comparison, in 2011 I finished my story around Dec. 8th. As another comparison, the story I started in 2010 is not finished yet. I continued writing it for most of January, then had another go in July. It is still a mess.
  • This year, I edited my story. That is, I made a first edit. There must be lots of things to do more. But I will need an editor and a professional to tell me that. As far as I go, the story makes me happy. As a comparison, my 2011 novel never made it to an editing round. I read it 6 months after writing it, and bitterly regretted not doing even a rough editing.
  • This year, I took advantage of sponsors’ deals and bonus offers. I purchased Scrivener for half-price.
  • Since my story was complete, written and edited to some decency, I submitted it to the Writing Accelerator run by Lulu.com where I will get a free review. It may also happen to be one of ten novels to get really rewarded. We’ll see the results later
  •  I uploaded my novel on the Wattpad website where people may read it, comment on it, and vote. Not only popularizing it, the website will be drawing one lucky winner who will grab $2,000. Hoping that might be me. I tried to get a free book on Amazon, using their promo code, but it didn’t work the right way.
  • I sent my first chapter to the JukePop Serials, where novels are posted in series, so as to raise suspense in the readers. A couple of days later, I heard back from an editor there, that my text was accepted. I am again taking part in a competition, where the prize will be $500, to be distributed among the three serials that have collected the most +Votes by the end of the contest period.
  • I would really like to edit my 2010 novel and submit it to a YA Romance contest. We’ll see about that.

NaNo Winner 2013 Continue reading →

sombre-chapbook

Sombre Chapbook FREE on Smashwords

My poetic work, entitled Sombre Chapbook is FREE on Smashwords, as part of the sitewide promotion that is held in July. Last year I had good sale volumes with Lily In The Moonlight, and hope to see some again. Last time only Lily participated, and this year I decided to include the poetry book, too.

sombre-chapbookHere is the direct link to the book. Use the coupon code SW100 at check out and get it for FREE.

Then, all you have to do is enjoy and later on tell me what you think. I welcome reviews as comments here, to my email, shared on your blog, and, of course, on Smashwords site of the book.

While you are on the site, check my Young Adult novel, Lily In The Moonlight. You may get it for FREE, as well, and enjoy the summer read.

Riding the Wave

Not-Bobbers’ Anniversary

Since high school I’ve wanted to write. It took me a long time to actually do it. I passed through several complex stages of touching writing, without doing it.

MNINB-Challenge

I majored English at university, and started a PhD right after that, hoping that theoretical literature will be a good enough contribution to literature in general. Teaching literature was another such good contribution. Somewhere on the way, it turned out theoretical stuff didn’t bring any joy at all. At a certain point, I felt more and more inept, without really being so. I couldn’t handle Homi K. Bhabha and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, nor the writings of Tsvetan Todorov or Julia Kristeva (check them out, you’d be amazed). To make the long story short, I found out I was not able to meet my mentor’s academic expectations. Besides, a novel or even a short poem have much more value to it than any theoretical piece on literature. If a single soul reads it and remembers it for life, or has their life changed by it, that would be much more helpful. I tried my hand in a couple of short stories, but didn’t like them at all. All that time I used to write poetry. It’s much easier than prose, as most poets would agree. Yet, I’ve never considered poetry to be real writing.

In a new attempt to get involved in literature turned to translation of fiction. That went on for several years, and then I signed up for a Twitter account, because I wanted to help my deteriorating official translation business. Twitter didn’t help my business, but brought me to the Poetic Asides community with the regular Wednesday prompt and the Tuesday poetry chats (remember those #poettues?). The blog format of Poetic Asides where all participants commented in a single thread was very suitable for a novice like me, as I would read through the whole conversation and just a couple of months later it was November, so I took part in the two major projects of my new life. I did November PAD and NaNoWriMo very successfully. Then, I discovered I could write. Apparently, I needed a longer form to find that out. Sadly, long forms need much time, which I never have. I became more or less a regular at Poetic Asides, even if only for checking on the conversation and a poem or two.

Last April, when Robert announced his planned Platform-Building Challenge, I was ready for that. In fact, it came as a miracle, just when I had realized how much I needed that. So many times during the two past years I had heard/read about Platform and how important it is, that I was starting to feel my failures are partially due to the lack of one. I did my best to follow the challenge and some of the steps were easy, some were more demanding. Overall happy with the outcome, I got involved in the #MNINB April-platform community and just rode the wave as it came. Since then, I have been included in the Wordsmith Studio project, have had my Bio and pic there, wrote some guest posts for the blog and I have been participating in discussions and challenges. I must admit that sometimes I’m too slow, but still, I am there. Over this past year I have been working towards a new Master’s degree, and that consumed most of my spare time, as I also work and have a very young child. Those “side activities” have been getting in the way of writing and following as much as I have wanted. Some members of the WSS (as we call it now) have been more active and have taken initiative to make a website and set it up so we, as a community, may use it. Members there have been very encouraging and supportive in everything and finally, I am among like-minded people who don’t actually care that I can’t cook well or am easily intimidated by perky shop assistants. Smiles… They have set up a group on Goodreads, hold regular chats on Twitter, too. The only places I can participate, though, are the FB/G+ and the WSS site itself. And that is more than enough, honestly speaking.

Since last April I have been bold enough to submit some poetry and got a couple of acceptances. I wrote a short story for the Snake Oil Cure magazine and they published it and then I had a short story of mine published without even submitting it. Linda Hatton was so kind to like it and send me a message about that.
The wonderful thing about the WSS community is that we are multi-functional. We have people for everything. There are photographers, designers, people who know about “site hits” and traffic, among other things. What we all have in common is that we all WRITE.

After I completed the challenge I found out that I don’t fail for lack of a platform. I fail for lack of persistence, SEO-team, advertisement, marketing strategy and so on. Of course, talent is also need for success. I found out I had a pretty much precise idea what a platform is, I simply don’t have the resource to build it properly. Since I’ve been going on my own snail speed, I am happy to part of that something larger that supports me and moves me to progress. Team-work really matters and that is the most valuable achievement of last year’s challenge. I don’t know if anyone expected that, and I guess Robert is glad to see our progress as a stand-alone group. I hope that is to continue and shape into something beautiful and beneficial to all.
Happy anniversary, Not-Bobbers!

This is another of a series of anniversary posts this month, and here is a list of links to each one of the previous ones, all of them personal, curious, special and worth reading. Numbers before the names designate the date in April the authors chose. Names are clickable links. Will open in new tab 🙂

1) Kiril Kundurazieff
3) Veronica Roth
4) J.lynn Sheridan
5) Elizabeth (Beth) Saunders
6) Sopphey Vance
7) Melanie Marttila
8) Heather Button
10) Gerry Wilson
12) Emily E. McGee
13) Anne Kimball
14) Khara House
15) Barbara Morrison
18) Mona AlvaradoFrazier
19) Jeannine Everett
20) Linda G Hatton
24) Claudine Jaboro
25) Carol Early Cooney
Out of the list: Kasie Whitener

The Theme behind November PAD

#frivolousfriday/blogpost_

Image credit: Rebecca Barray

For today’s post I decided to tackle the November Poem-A-Day Chapbook challenge and focus on its prompts. Some time into the challenge in 2010, Robert asked whether or not we have found any particular theme behind it. Then I managed to identify a theme for myself and formed my chapbook around it. Of course, I didn’t follow that theme throughout all my poems. Not only does it need a lot of pre-planning, which I am completely incapable of, but that also means very severe sticking to the theme, another incapability of mine.

In 2010, the theme I saw unfolding behind Robert’s prompts was the cycle of a love affair – starting with opening the new page, all the way to lessons learned.

In 2011 I participated in the challenge again. I do that alongside NaNoWriMo as a way of pumping my creative enthusiasm. My busy daily routine then, however, didn’t allow me the time to sit down and consider whether or not there was a theme behind the prompts. Moreover, I skipped several and that only added up to my frustration.

However, here I am, participating in NovPAD again. A fellow-poet, Maxie Steer, put that theme question across, so I started thinking. This time Robert doesn’t offer the prompts himself, so we can’t suppose he has a hidden theme for the chapbook. This time he picks prompts from participants’ suggestions. The challenge started with my own Matches prompt (which was a great honour). Here is the list, so far:

  • Matches
  • Full Moon
  • Scary
  • Just Beneath…
  • Texting
  • Right /Left
  • Circle
  • Talk Back to a Dead Poet
  • When He’s Gone
  • Foreign Word/Phrase
  • Veteran Poem
  • Non-existing Device (that should exist)
  • Letter/Recipe
  • Stuck
  • Tradeoff
  • Last line becomes First: Thrilled
  • Wheel
  • Glossa-form
  • Gathering/Letting go
  • Song Title: On a Lonely Island
  • Paradise
  • Deep

I started by a love poem, then I wrote a life-asserting poem, some vague scary stuff, a self-irony poem, a love lost poem in the unsuccessful form of a text message, a pun poem and then the Circle prompt came by and I wrote a poem of my Daddy. After that, and after talking to Maxie, I started thinking that perhaps this chapbook may focus on my daddy and my relation with him. I have many poems written about him, but several more won’t hurt. After that the When He’s Gone prompt hit it again. In between, however, I still wrote either love or nature-inspired poems. What can I say? Sometimes I just want to write that, depending on the prompt!

I must state it honestly that I am a bit behind on the prompts and I have been thinking about what to write, or, more precisely, how to write it. I have just vague ideas and feel I am too slow. Luckily, this post is not about NaNoWriMo, because I have had a complete crash over there 🙂

 

What is your incline with the PAD prompts this year?

Slipped His Mind

SLIPPED THE MIND, after Flashy Fiction

Image credit: Kerala Photos

 

You see, the consequences were grim! I work at the railway station, the central one. There I have to take care of various things as arrivals and departures, but not about schedules or communications, what the complicated females at the office do. I am responsible for the real, physical trains that come into and leave our station.

So, one morning I came late. That was the minor trouble, as I came in drunk. Maybe I wasn’t too drunk, but I had been drinking all night with Heavy-Metal friends and the 4am shift came a bit early for me.

Uhm, I was at the station at about 5 am. That is early enough, considering only few trains move at that time. Besides the night shift had stayed longer to cover me. All in all, things promised to come right, when at about 10am I felt very sleepy.

There were two things I had to do that day: mind my work and take my son from school to his theatre practice. I am divorced and enjoy certain days to see my child. “Enjoy” is a word my lawyer taught me. “It shows enthusiasm,” he says. As he knows better, I agree. After all, he has studied for 17 years, as he quotes so often, while I had trouble completing 10th grade out of 11 necessary to obtain high education diploma. I doubt it my lawyer can make it on the street, or at the railway station as I do, but in court he is the boss.

 

The part about my lawyer is too long. He is of no importance to my story. I needed to mind my work and take my son from school to theatre practice.

The first thing didn’t come right at all. At about 10am when I started to feel weirdly sleepy, I had to lead a train into the station by redirecting the rails. My colleagues tell me they found me head over the switch board, pressing the lever with my heavy forehead. Sadly, there is no one working with me in the direction cabin at the remote end of the station. That way, my fellow could have seen me drop my head and could have saved the day.

That started a whole series of complications. Police needed to get to the spot, also the Railway Authorities. After all, an entire train had derailed and crashed! I was so lucky there were no lives lost. I may be a drunkard and generally no good, but I won’t take a life on my slate!

Amidst all the hustle, I was asked to step out of my duties, hand over the “representations of my office” – they called the baton and the red head-piece I was wearing that. All in all, I was at a loss. True, I was street wise, but that sort of administration clamour had never occurred to me. I felt I was not apt for the challenge. Best of all, I yearned to be left alone to take a healthy nap on the sofa in my high-air cabin.

So much so, that I forgot all about my son. The official held me at the station till after dusk and then a colleague drove me home, I was so shaken. When I stood in front of the door, I saw my son asleep on the door mat there. His mother had left us, so she wouldn’t have known.

“No theatre practice today, ha, son?” I asked, guilty in my heart.

“No, Dad.” he said humbly. “Today was the final rehearsal. We stage the play on Sunday. Will you come?”

I heard the hope in his voice, the hope not all has been lost. Youth’s foolishness, I thought, as I slammed the door and yelled, “When do you plan to do the dishes?”

 

© 2012 Mariya Koleva

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

There you have it – The Light At The End Of The Tunnel prompt for a flashy. How would I miss the opportunity to have a twist of irony with that topic? No way, of course.

Image credit: Flashy Fiction site

 

THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNEL

Believe it, or not, I was ready to die. All of a sudden, death did not appear as scary or impossible anymore. I was ready, no, I was willing to embrace it. All the small things that had formed my small joys were gone, and the idea of not seeing the sun tomorrow, had simply expired.

How is that possible, one would ask. Is not the human being one that never loses hope or the love of life? Is not that the reason humans are at the top of all reasonable creation?

I don’t have an answer for that. I just know that I was indifferent to life, I cared not. To be honest, I was indifferent to death as well. It was not attractive in any way, moreover so, as the experience was entirely unknown to me. The downright truth was that I did not care. For the moment, death meant escape from life. Life had become a nuisance, a dark pit of losses and failures, from which I would rather break out. Since I had no power to struggle anymore and I had no faith that my struggles could bring about a life any different from the one that lead me here.

Then I spotted that vague light area far ahead. I blinked once or twice to make sure I can see it correctly. There it was. A very dim and unclear dot, not disappearing. I must have reached the bottom, I reckoned, if that is the light at the end of the tunnel. I have never believed one could see such a thing. I must be at the end of my tether, indeed. Once I had swallowed the bitter realization that I have nothing to live for, I started thinking what to do about this light. I mean, if I see it, am I supposed to undertake any particular piece of action? Do I need to feel hopeful again, resurrect my expectations, my will to fight, or was the light going to do something for me?

“Good evening.” A sharp voice stated ahead of me.

“Good evening.” said I not sure what to think.

“We are sorry to announce that due to recent huge spendings, we are forced to turn off the light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks for your hopes and have a happy afterwards!”

 

So… I blinked a couple of confused blinks. Huge spendings, I thought. Suddenly I didn’t feel like giving up. Curiosity overwhelmed me, as I headed towards the place where that voice sounded a moment ago.

 

© 2012 Mariya Koleva

This story was published in MouseTale Press, a literary magazine, in January 2013.