Gigil

In response to Word High July the snippet below is inspired by the Filipino word ‘gigil’ or ‘uncontrollable urge to pinch or squeeze someone’. It’s part of a series charting the impact of the discovery of intelligent life in space on five ordinary people over the course of a month. Enjoy!

Image taken from Buzzfeed: “36 Of The Most Beautiful Words In The Philippine Language”. All credits goes to them.

***

“Ow! Stop with the – the pinching thing! You’re a grown woman!”

“Oh have some fun Jo!” Irene laughed and prodded him again, the younger man squeaked pleasingly and Irene decided that she liked the sound very much. “Besides, this is exciting! My first trip to England and for a science seminar of all things!”

Jo tutted and dodged Irene’s questing fingers at the last minute. She huffed at the disappointment and tried to calm her heart a little. It was strange to be so excited, but the life she’d promised to start leading again was a strange road filled with new opportunities. It bubbled under her skin until she itched with energy from the soles of her feet and up to the tips of her fingers, where it emerged in the urge to nip and tickle.

“Get away! Look, it’s not far now to the Science Museum, just keep your hands to yourself until then. Deal?” Jo asked.

She nodded and tucked her hands into her pockets. The weather in London was surprisingly warm, Irene had expected dreary rain and packed accordingly but her sweater was a touch too thick. The greenery was a surprise too, the park they’d cut across was beautiful and the trees reminded her of her mountain home just enough for a spike of apprehension to sneak through her excitement.

“Tell me again what’s happening today? Den got really excited when I told him where I was going but I haven’t followed it all that closely if I’m honest,” she said, hurrying to match Jo’s stride.

“It’s the first review of the UK submissions for the response signal,” he explained. “The contest won’t close globally until next year, but there’s such a massive response rate that they decided to start thinning the numbers out by holding national heats.”

“Well, I guess its sink or swim time then,” Irene said, and, unable to resist, snuck another quick pinch.

“Ow! Irene!”

“Sorry Jo, I just can’t seem to resist. Its nerves, I feel terrible,” she apologised and tried to cover the insincerity in her voice by tucking her hands away once more. Jo was just so damned pinch-able.

“Whatever, we’re here anyway,” Jo pointed to an enormous building with a queue that stretched half way down the street. He stopped and unhooked his backpack, fishing inside for something. “Here we, invitations. Let’s see if these work as a queue jump, if not we might not make it inside in time!”

He handed Irene a thick piece of card with her name typed in fine black copperplate lettering and hurried towards a very official looking security guard. Irene followed a little slower, admiring the building and enjoying the buzz of people chattering. There was so much life in the city; there was in the bush too but she felt like she was reclaiming a piece of herself she’d forgotten when Adam passed. And there it was, there first time in nearly a day since she’d thought about Adam at all.

“I’m choosing life, Adam. I hope that’s ok, but even if it isn’t; I’m doing it.”

Silakbo

In response to Word High July the snippet below is inspired by the Filipino word ‘silakbo’ or ‘emotional outburst’. It’s part of a series charting the impact of the discovery of intelligent life in space on five ordinary people over the course of a month. Enjoy!

Image taken from Buzzfeed: “36 Of The Most Beautiful Words In The Philippine Language”. All credits goes to them.

***

The chime of the message alert on Maliha’s phone woke her from deep sleep. She blinked; her hands fumbled clumsily for the device and it took a minute to remember that she’d left it charging on the vanity. Biting back the kind of curse her parents were never allowed to know she used, she rolled out of her bed and followed the light from the screen.

She unplugged the device and after a few misplaced stabs managed to silence it. She sat back on the bed and flicked to her inbox. The message inside was from a co-worker and Maliha felt a wave of sickness as she read it.

“Office has been destroyed, looks like arson. Police here now. Call Ramin when you get this message.”

Hot anger welled in Maliha’s chest, her breath caught in her throat and she tasted bile. It took two mis-dials before she stopped shaking long enough to type Ramin’s number.

“Maliha? Are you safe?” Ramin asked. His voice sounded gruff and raw in the darkness and Maliha felt her fury expand in a tingling wave up through her head and down to her fingertips and toes, hot and righteous.

“Yes, yes of course; I’m at my grandmother’s,” the words left Maliha’s mouth in a rushed tumble the she couldn’t restrain. “What happened? Rehana’s message said it might be arson? Was anyone hurt?”

“I-” Ramin’s voice broke and a dry sob echoed from the phone. “I don’t think anyone was hurt, but everything we had here is ashes! I think it was my fault, I pushed all those articles about that poor blogger and about the signal and now it’s all gone!”

“Ok, it’s ok, we have back-ups of all our data and no one was hurt,” Maliha said. “You know this is nothing to do with you and everything to do with greedy people. You know that Ramin, we always knew something like this could happen. And it’s awful but it won’t be the end. We keep publishing even if we have to do it from my grandmother’s house!”

There was a long silence and Maliha was a breath away from asking if Ramin was still on the line when he spoke again, voice still raw and weary but also stronger.

“You’re right, of course you are. I-I’ll get in touch with everyone, spread the word. We aren’t over, we won’t be over until acts like this are stopped,” he replied. “Stay near your phone, we might need your grandmother’s house if my contacts don’t work out.”

“I will, good luck.”

Ramin hung up without responding and Maliha collapsed back onto her bed. Her anger was hotter than ever and that would be good for the days to come.

A Snippet or So

As sworn, signed and promised last week I put aside some turbulent events over the last few days and did a little writing.

This is an initial draft of an opening on a piece of fiction I’m working on, so please enjoy:

The Drowning Place

Strange and terrible, an outright tragedy; these were the words the newspapers printed the day Ajay Ingham drowned, although not, it should be said, in specific reference to his apparent demise. His name wouldn’t even be mentioned until almost a week later, lost on page six in a list of nine hundred people whose goals and achievements, hopes and dreams had been squeezed into twenty characters or less.

Circled in red then folded and unfold a hundred times or more, tucked in a pocket or stuffed under a pillow. The piece of newsprint became a talisman of sorts to three people; his mother Annabel, his grandfather Robert and a man whose face and name Ajay had never known in a country half the world away.  Later they might say that they’d suspected something was missing, that an empty casket in a quiet church yard couldn’t quite dampen the hope that maybe, somehow or someday they would find that last shred of peace. Peace the sinking of the Lady Britannic denied them one stormy night in August.

And if Ajay managed to find a little peace too, well that was a richly deserved reward.

***

“You’ll be cold dressed like that.”

Ajay glanced from his phone and down at his jeans and t-shirt. He shrugged, the outfit was as good as any he owned and it wasn’t like he didn’t have a hoodie in his bag.

“Its fine,” he replied, glancing at his mother. “Besides, Grandpa said he’d booked me a cabin this time.”

Annabel hummed, a slight frown creasing her brow as her eyes slipped to Ajay’s naked wrist. Ajay hid a long suffering sigh and waited for the inevitable. He loved his mother, loved her quirks and her interests; the yoga retreats, forays into veganism and solstice nights spent telling stories. But once he’d passed out of childhood, and at fifteen he firmly believed he had, her superstitions had entered the realm of perpetual embarrassment.

“Did you forget your caul bracelet?” she asked.

 

A bathtub named eureka

As Archimedes might attest, inspiration strikes in the strangest of places.

For me, it’s an inevitability when my mind starts to wander and I have two primary locations; walking the mousehound or in the shower. I’m certainly not alone in this phenomenon, Stephen King credits the idea for The Mist to a particularly dreary trip to the grocery store and Suzanne Collins attributes an evening flicking through TV channels as the inspiration for the Hunger Games.

The problem however is not having the idea, but developing it. This is my Waterloo, to borrow a turn of phrase, that terrible and exhilarating moment when for an instant I see a perfect visual of an idea taking shape. It might be an image or a turn of phrase, sometimes it plays like a poorly focused YouTube clip and sometimes it’s as simple as a picture of a flower in the grass. But it amounts to nothing if I do nothing with it and here too I suspect I am not alone amongst aspiring authors.

In describing his writing process Garth Nix estimated it took about a year of working from that initial spark to setting pen to paper. While this clearly proves very successful for Nix, I’ve nurtured too many of my ideas long past that time with little to no progress so it’s time to abandon the cautious approach.

My challenge then, and a challenge to anyone who reads this blog, is to start getting that inspiration out of my head, off my hard drive and out into the world. It might be flash fiction, it might be drabbles, it might even just be a basic writing prompt but from now on I’ll be participating in #StoryFriday and I’m starting with a writing prompt:

WP: It’s 2018 and Project Breakthrough: Listen has just announced to the world that evidence of intelligent life has been found, where are you and what are you doing when you find out?