As a participant on an Inspiration Project event, you will be invited to showcase your writing, right here, on our website. We are thrilled to share the work of some of our January attendees. Happy reading!
An excerpt from Home by Deirdre Reidy
The audience follow their directions, exhibiting suitably shocked faces and some booing as the villain of the tale enters from the wings. I am slightly disgusted with myself and my affection for day time tv and especially these trashy talk shows. On impulse I switch to the lunchtime news instead, if I’m going to be glued to the box doing so in the pursuit of current affairs and news feels more worthwhile than talk shows.
Keeping up to date with the what’s going on in the world has taken on an urgency it never had before, the old me couldn’t have named Government ministers or held her own in a debate on the latest referendum. These days, being informed keeps part of me alive. Helps me feel part of that world, even if that world has forgotten me. After sitting through a token segment about the new elephant calf in the zoo and the way too regular bulletin about a missing young woman, I turn the tv off entirely. What am I if not missing too?
TV can be a welcome escape from my mundane existence, becoming enthralled in the lives of fictional characters, shouting at game show contestants to encourage them along or gaping at reality tv shows and wondering how on earth this passes for entertainment. TV is also a 32”, surround sound, high definition punch in the gut as it forces me to face my predicament. The much dusted (with a special cloth to protect the screen as per Shane’s directions) acts as a mirror held up to my life.
What does the mirror reflect? You will see the normal household tasks and chores, the comfortable home life of a couple who have been together for years. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, TV shows, showers, sleeping, the odd bit of DIY.
What you don’t see is more important. Of course most homes don’t show everything to represent the lives of those who live within those walls; the inhabitants live facets of their lives outside of the house. Work, college, socialising, exercise… My mirror shows Shane living such a life, he comes and goes like you would expect. But I don’t, I am here. Always here. In a house sized jail cell I tastefully decorated myself.
Finding My Way Out Of The Fog
By Niamh O’Reilly
Today we’re told is blue Monday. I look out my window and I think about how alive I feel. I couldn’t be further from blue. I’m a veritable rainbow, buzzing with hope after coming back from The Inspiration Project. A writer’s retreat that was like chicken soup for the soul, served with a cocktail of confidence and support with a sneaky shot of positivity on the side.
Yes, today is anything but blue.
But it wasn’t always like this.
This time last year I was trapped in an unending fog. I was a first time mum and I was drowning. Fear, anxiety, loneliness and a prevailing sense of feeling constantly overwhelmed, dragged me into darkness. I cried every day. I looked in the mirror and I didn’t recognise my own reflection. I felt no connection to my baby boy.
I was a shell.
Empty, lost and utterly alone, my dream of becoming a mum had turned on me and was eating me alive.
I desperately tried to keep my head above the water. I tried so hard, but failed at every attempt to feel like a normal mum.
I was drowning.
Then one day in January my feet simply couldn’t tread water anymore, the waves crashed in and enveloped me.
I let this cruel thief take everything and sank straight to the bottom.
One year on and I don’t recognise myself anymore, but now it’s for all the right reasons. I find myself lost once again but this time it’s in my baby boys blue eyes. His chubby cheeks, his belly laugh, his soft skin and blonde hair. His intoxicating smell and the feel of him in my arms.
I found my way out of the fog.
Slowly, things got better. I accessed a strength I didn’t know I had and the light came flooding back. I don’t like to say I’ve beaten Post-Natal Depression. I think it’s always going to be something I carry with me. But what’s important is that I’ve silenced it, by finding my identity again. It’s a different me, but it’s a ‘me’ I’m trying to accept one day at a time.
Excerpt from ‘Our Destiny Is Blood’ by Clare Daly
Far Eastern Siberia, 1827
Caleb Tamersk was going to die. He had long accepted that fact. He’d even got quite comfortable with the notion, living precariously close to it as he did. Throughout his life he had taunted death, sent countless men into its open arms knowing that when it came for him, he would go out strong and fighting. He never thought when the moment arrived that it would be like this. This was beyond his worst imaginings and he wondered whether he was still asleep in his cell and this was some sort of macabre dream. The shackles cut deep into his torn wrists, the pain shooting up his arms. This was no dream. He was no longer within the walls of Castle Valla prison, he was outside them and that was the worst place he could be.
He’d been dragged out into the snow, forced to his knees as the guards chained him to a metal ring set in the ice. As the last of the daylight faded from the sky, they hurried back inside. He could just see the entrance behind him, the portcullis shrieking as it was lowered to the ground, the castle and all inside secure. He had never panicked in his life but it grew inside him – the uncertainty of what was to come. His teeth chattered against the cold and he cursed that the snow was deep enough to cover his knees but not enough to hide in, away from what was coming.
He pulled again on his chains in desperation, trying to shift the ring itself. It was unlike any metal he had ever seen – heavy as iron, but shiny like a mirror, his own reflection a distorted swirl as he tried to free himself. But there was no escape. His only hope was to freeze to death before it came, but the guards had seen to that too – the overcoat heavy on his shoulders. The sacrifice was no good if the offering was already dead. He must be alive.
My eyes began building tears “Mam, you don’t have to do this, I can get help.” My ear is firmly against the door listening intently for any noise, for any sign to go and get help.
I hear him slap her hard, she shrieks in pain “Lizzie go now, I’ll fine” and with that she starts to roar as I hear him fumbling at his belt and the tiny whimpers that follow.
The ones that will never leave me.
It passes slowly, I couldn’t leave so I sit silently at the door hands placed against it whispering to her that I love her, through every one of her screams and shouts I shudder. I scrap my arms and legs to shreds, rocking forwards and backwards sobbing quietly while hiding that I was there.
He behaved like an animal, grunts groaned from him matted by my mams soft cries, and he must have slapped her a dozen or more times demanding her to move this way or that way. When he lets out a huge grumble I think it is over, I hear him roll over in the bed, and I hear mam exhale in what I think is utter relief. I assume he will leave now, and I can check her over. I fear what I will see, so I mentally prepare myself to be strong. It doesn’t end though and even my mam sounds surprised and exhausted when he remarks “I’ll have another go in an hour.” With that I falter to the floor crying howling in agony at what I have just heard.
He realises I am near than shouting through the door to me “Did you enjoy that kid?” laughing wholeheartedly.
Right now, I don’t care if he kills me, he has done enough.An excerpt from my novel, a work in progress.
#InspireMe18 (Flash Fiction)
Stepping along the stones scattered across the river, Mona sang quietly to herself. A family picnic is what they needed she overheard her mother say in the kitchen. So a family picnic in the forest was arranged. Mum had really outdone herself, the food was gorgeous and each of their favourites were thought of.
Small Sammy had his tuna sandwiches with the crusts cut off, Peggie had her sausages wrapped in bacon and she Mona got her veggie spring rolls.
It had to be bad news. Especially when her mum was going to all this trouble. Still they got a nice day out of it. Mona was used to the upset. She knew her mother’s pattern now. Butter them up and then wham, the blow came.
Because she was eleven, the eldest, Mona knew more than the other two. She tried to help her Mum too, taking Peggie into her bed when she had nightmares and reading Sammy his bedtime story when Mum forgot. She didn’t mind doing it but she’d like it to be good news.
A nice day out followed by good news that was her dream.
Mum was calling them. Huddled together on the blanket, they jostled for space. Her Mum seemed excited. Maybe today was the day after all, the day that would be a family day out and nothing more.
“I’ve news for ye.” She watched her Mum put down her sandwich.
Mona tried not to look upset, she put her best smile on.
“Since your Dad passed, you’ve all been amazing, especially you Mona, helping me with so much. Facing a lot of upset. Anyway, we are going on holidays, a real holiday.”
Her mum was laughing and hugging the small two.
Mona turned to wipe her tears, thank you she whispered to the forest.
It was a rough sailing that day. The boat was dipping and diving and the waves were splashing up over the side, getting us wet, but I couldn’t care less. My mind was as foggy as the sky and my heart was as heavy and the anchor that steadied the ship. Only thing was, I didn’t feel steady, not in the slightest. I had left all that was familiar to me, against my will and was heading into the unknown and the unwanted and it made me feel weak. Sure, it would be nice to see my granny and grandad a bit more often, my cousins even, but what about my LIFE. I wanted to have my LIFE more often, just as it had always been, with my friends and my boyfriend. I had not been given any choice in moving to Ireland. My parents had decided we were going and that was it, without as much as a by your leave. It was just all too much and all too sudden. From getting a phone call in October, enquiring about mum’s health, to moving over, lock stock and barrel in December was just ludicrous, irresponsible even. Didn’t they understand I had a perfectly happy life in England and wanted to keep it. Wasn’t I always singing ‘my life’ by Billy Joel, around the house, why didn’t anyone hear me? Why was this happening, I couldn’t believe this was actually happening! We stood there, Andy and I, on the deck having a smoke when Richard came up, flashing a packet of Carrolls cigarettes.
‘Got them in the duty free, dirt cheap in there, so I bought a packet of 200’, he said, excitedly ‘ cost me less than a fiver’. She asked if I was paying in pound sterling or Irish punt’ he continued ‘She didn’t even ask me if I was old enough! Sure I might as well pay with this, seeing as I won’t be needing anymore English money’ he said, whilst handing her is English Fiver, he told us. ‘Fuck me, that’s cheap, go and get some for me’ Andy asked, as he was taking money out of his pocket.
Excerpt from Carrie Sherbourne’s ebook – ‘Home’
A perfect rainbow danced across the attic’s gable wall. Its painter, a single ray of sunlight, emerging from a chink in seventy years of dirt coating the attic window. Bursting through, it strikes an object hidden within an old tin box, fragmenting its light into a kaleidoscope of colours, splashing them onto the bare brick wall for admiration.
Tip toeing through the litter of bygone days, I follow the sunbeam’s finger pointing where I must go. What magical object has caught its light? Hidden from view, scattered among discarded odds and ends, lies a miniature, finely cut glass perfume bottle.
“Junk” my mother would have said of all within the box, without investigation.
I hold it as if it were made of the most precious glass. This was my mother’s perfume bottle, faithfully filled with her favourite scent. The full stop in her preparations for a special occasion.
Removing its tear drop lid, I listen for the quiet pop of the seal breaking. Raising the delicate bottle to just beneath my nose, I close my eyes, as the faintest scent of childhood fills my soul. Memories I’d forgotten, envelope me. With each breath, childhood and adolescence agonies and ecstasies rush by, until one moment remains; my mother, beckoning me to her dressing table where she dots a spot of perfume behind her ears and mine.
As her image fades, I place my finger over the small opening and tip the bottle, hoping for more. It’s empty. Perhaps it has spilled or evaporated in the lifetime since Mother last used it? I breathe in once more, wishing to fill a void I’d not known existed up to moments ago.
Replacing the bottle amongst the other gems I turn it left and right hoping to recreate the rainbow, but the sun has lost interest. I pick my way back across the junk ridden room before pausing to look at the gable wall. The rainbow is gone, the sun no longer pointing.
But as I close the door, the faint scent of childhood follows.
The above piece won me my first ever writing prize. While I wont retire on my winnings it was a great thrill for me. My name is Tric Kearney and if you wish to know more about me just click here.
Excerpt from ‘The Bay’, a short story by Adelle Kenny
How did I even end up here? It bubbles from my innards, I thought I had it buried deep. What was buried I wasn’t even entirely sure but everything felt like it was threatening to spill. Lines that had never really had a chance to develop, given my relative youth, were deep now. Etched from the shock I felt from the voices that nagged at me. Frayed skin around my nails, showed externally the torment I couldn’t put words to. The words didn’t even seem to make sense but threatened to overcome me. They chipped away at me, despite my pleas for rest, to let me take in the gravity of the situation I was facing. Instead the voices kept whispering above the noise which only I could hear, beating to be heard. I awoke like any other morning except for one difference, a moment of clarity.
I was seven and three quarters when Mammy went for a walk across the bay. That evening was different though, as I remembered her being cross at me. Doors slammed, voices were raised. She seemed funny to me that day. She had always played tea party with me and my dollies, but that day she had flung the cup I gave her across the kitchen floor. As my lip wobbled so did hers. Usually she would gather me up in her arms, tell me she loved me to the moon. On that day she sat on the floor crying. I remember she cut herself on a shard off a china cup from the tea-set she had bought me for my birthday only a few weeks earlier. The blood dripped onto the broken shards on the floor but Mammy stayed on the floor crying. I didn’t notice the blood that weeped elsewhere from her.