2012 Short Story Collab #5 & #6

THIS post is now part of the TRANSLATION ISSUE of the Language/Place Blog Carnival, edited by Steve Wing.
Collaborative Stories #5 and #6 are both posted here to show the divergent paths the stories took when sent off to a different set of writers. In this collaboration project, which started in March in honour of International Women’s Month, I began by writing the first 100 words of a story and then sending it to two other women, asking them to pass it along after adding onto the beginning. The only rules to this collaborative project were that each entry should not exceed 100 words and that the story had to cross international border after each writer added her part.
This story leapt borders a few times, and each time it did it changed in touch and feel.
Story #5  marks the last of the stories whose paths began with me and included Martha Williams (UK) and Claire King (France). This one closes with Anita Chapman (UK). You can read the first four stories hereherehere and here.
Story #6 is the first in the series that went from me to Jules Archer (US), Beate Sigriddaughter (Canada) and Myra King (Australia). It closes with Toby Cogswell (UK).
The final two stories in the series will follow later this month.
Thanks for reading, and thanks to the wonderful women who participated in this project.

* * *

# 5: This Day

Michelle Elvy – Martha Williams – Claire King – Anita Chapman

Speaking of flying. Dreaming, that is. The dreams are never the same of course: sometimes you float among cold choking clouds, other times it’s oily, hot and thick and you can’t tell if it’s liquid or gas suspending you above-ground. Sometimes you’re wrapped in whipped cream (never with strawberries, which you don’t understand because it’s your dream dammit and you love strawberries). Or you float through a watery world, where owls gurgle a greeting through kelp and tall poplars wave prettily while goldfish glup-glup by.

Awake, you peddle to market on Monday, wheels rattling over the kerb, road, cobbles… across the square through a haze of cinnamon, where grizzly old men clutch espressos at small, round tables and schoolchildren chatter through minty breath as they walk past market daffodils.

This morning, for the first time in months, the grey light is pierced by a hint of gold and the cold fails to bite your fingers. For a few minutes you pause by the church and look to the sky. Then you remember the time and lurch ahead, swaying madly from side to side.

When you arrive, breathless, the door’s already open.

In your scatter for the steps you lose your footing and fall forward. Your basket flies from your hands as they reach out to stop the crack of skull on slabs, but before your palms touch down your feet leave the ground. You spin up in a slow tumble, the contents of your basket meeting you on their way down.

For a moment you do not try to right yourself, but embrace the familiar feeling. You smell tea… and bath salts. That’s new. You hear a voice and open your eyes.

I’ve been waiting for you.

When you saw the church, you thought about that day when you asked the driver to take the car around the block instead of pulling up outside. Engulfed by the train of your silk gown, you’d made your decision.

Standing before you is the man responsible. He knows you shop for grandma’s groceries at the market and take them to her apartment. You haven’t returned his calls but you’ve thought about him. He is older and he has kids from a previous marriage. Carpe Diem, you think as you inhale the scent from the punnet of strawberries he is holding.

*

Anita Chapman is currently seeking agent representation for her novel, ‘The Grandson’ which is commercial women’s fiction set in Siena, Italy where she lived whilst studying Italian. Anita is in her third year of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme. She blogs about writing at http://www.neetswriter.com and you can follow her on Twitter @neetswriter.
Claire King lives in France. Her novel The Night Rainbow will be published February 2013 in English, German and Dutch. She is fiction editor at The View From Here and blogs at www.claire-king.com
Martha Williams writes. You can find her in connection with the 2012 UK Flash Fiction Day here

* * *

# 6: Kite

Michelle Elvy – Jules Archer – Beate Sigriddaughter – Myra King – Toby Cogswell

Speaking of flying. Dreaming, that is. The dreams are never the same of course: sometimes you float among cold choking clouds, other times it’s oily, hot and thick and you can’t tell if it’s liquid or gas suspending you above-ground. Sometimes you’re wrapped in whipped cream (never with strawberries, which you don’t understand because it’s your dream dammit and you love strawberries). Or you float through a watery world, where owls gurgle a greeting through kelp and tall poplars wave prettily while goldfish glup-glup by.

Awake, you peddle to market on Monday.

Your legs are tired and earnest as you hop off the bike. You chain it to the nearest streetlamp and give it a quick, reassuring pat on its banana seat for good luck. As you walk into the open-air-market, vendors hawking their wares, housewives buying up organic food for their families, bushels of bright flowers being pimped to errant husbands, a sense of disheartened meant begins to linger. The kind that makes you nervous and sick to your stomach. You look around and you wonder what on earth am I doing here? In a place so sunny and repetitive.

You came to celebrate, each breath, each motion, each taste of dream or cream or strawberry, each daffodil. But now you feel insulted. Everything is for sale, even your own dreams, which they are happy to sell back to you for a price. Nobody asked you if you agreed to this marketing of everything. It frightens you. And still you want to celebrate the perfect swirl in the center of a rose.

You can see your bike waiting for you like a patient pet. You think of your dream, some say cycling is akin to flying – gliding along. But there are bumps in your road.

You recall what Damian said to you before slamming the front door in a final protest.

‘Get your head out of those fantasy clouds, Cynthia; I’m sick of enabling you. For god’s sake, admit you’ve got a problem and find yourself some help.’

But you don’t have a problem.  Your head belongs in the clouds.  You are a poet.  It is in you to document what you see and hear around you, what you feel and taste, the bitter and the sweet.  You are the kite and Damian should be the rock.  He should be holding the string to your kite so you don’t completely float away, and not be judgmental or resentful.  It’s not right to throw Psych 101 words at a poet.  It means nothing other than your rock is smaller than expected, and quite disappointing.  You sigh at the remembrance.

*

Somewhere between being born and raised in the backwoods of Montana, Jules Archer developed a craving for the written word. Today, she writes random stories of heartbreaking torpor and domestic bondage. She enjoys reading Playboy and sipping Blue Moon in her spare time. She writes to annoy you at jules just write.
Toby Cogswell is a two-time Pushcart nominee. Credits include Illya’s Honey, REAL, Iodine Poetry Journal, Slipstream, StepAway (UK), Turbulence (UK), Front Porch Review, Rufous Salon (Sweden) and Ballard Street Poetry Journal, and are forthcoming in Bacopa, Compass Rose, Alligator Stew (UK), The Broken Plate, Border Crossing, I-70 Review, Incandescent (UK) and Pale House – Letters to Los Angeles. Her latest chapbook is Surface Effects in Winter Wind, (Kindred Spirit Press). She is the co-editor of San Pedro River Review.
Australian writer Myra King has written a number of prize winning short stories, including first prize in the UK-based Global Short Story Competition and a shortlisted story in the 2010 Glass Woman Prize. Her short story collection, City Paddock, was published by Ginninderra Press. Her novel, Cyber Rules, was published by Certys in 2012 and is available on Amazon. All royalties from her books go to support The Creswick Light Horse Troop and Médecins Sans Frontières – Doctors Without Borders. King has upcoming (or recent) work in Boston Literary Magazine, Eclectic Flash, Meat for Tea, eFiction, Red River Review, Fast Forward Press, Illya’s Honey Journal, San Pedro River Review, The Fiction Shelf, and The Foundling Review. You can find more at her website
Beate Sigriddaughter, www.sigriddaughter.com, lives and writes in North Vancouver, Canada. Her fiction has received three Pushcart Prize nominations. She has also established the Glass Woman Prize to honor passionate women’s voices. 

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4 Responses to 2012 Short Story Collab #5 & #6

  1. Pingback: Collaborative story | martha williams

  2. Hi Michelle, thanks so much for the opportunity to take part in this-what a great idea!

  3. martininwhangarei says:

    Interesting where narative takes us. Even when I write in isolation, I never know where I am going to end up, and to dare to collaborate in this way is fascinating. Pretty cool experiment, this.

  4. Pingback: translation issue ~ 翻译问题 ~ Übersetzungsausgabe ~ Μετάφραση θέμα ~ ””” मुद्दे | delinquent dispatch

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