Monthly Archives: March 2017

The Empty Cradle

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On Mother’s Day, dedicated to the mothers whose babies couldn’t come home and to the mothers whose babies couldn’t stay.

Tiny baby fast asleep, too precious for this world to keep.

The Empty Cradle

The empty cradle rocks
Silence echoes
Deafening
Around the empty room
Around the empty house
My empty arms
Ache from holding
The heavy weight
My tears fall
From my full eyes
Into the empty cradle

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

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100 Word Challenge – Risk

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100 Word Challenge – Risk

I haven’t done one of these for a while as everything’s been crazy work and rehearsal wise. Do please do come see me play Richard III, amongst others, in Shakespeare War Play if you can!  This is a challenge to write exactly 100 words either using the word risk,  or any form of the word, as one of the 100, or using risk as a prompt and implying it in the 100 words.  I have written this drabble using risk as a prompt.

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Spare Room

You’re moving out? Tomorrow! What am I supposed to do? Well yes I know I can get someone else in, but that’s not going to happen straight away. I’ll have to live by myself for about a month. Anything could happen. One of the bulbs could go out and I could trip over in the dark and crack my head. I might be cooking tea and the doorbell rings and before I know it the house has burnt down. You can’t leave me! What do you mean this is exactly why? Most accidents occur at home you know. Risky place.

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

Train of Thought

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Train of Thought

The rain is so heavy tonight. I’m cold and wet but at least the others can’t see my tears. It’s been all I can think about since it happened. His face, when he realised what he’d done. Apparently they all look like that. They’re there of their own free will, we reckon they’ll have thought about it for months, but that moment, before the impact, they stare at you in abject horror. And that three seconds, his face before I hit him and it was all over, will stay with me forever.

Afterwards, when my driver had been taken away wrapped up in a blanket, they brought me back here, and I haven’t moved since. We reckon my driver will have a lot of support and help until he’s back to his old self. That doesn’t happen for us though. We can’t leave the line, so they just put us out of the way, and leave us to rust. They haven’t even washed all the blood off my face.

I hear a whistling and know that the one they call Graham is coming to hide down here like he does every night. Apparently the stuff he smokes isn’t looked on well by the others with legs. Especially for a Railway Guard. I don’t care though. To me, he doesn’t look any less vacant than the rest of them.

He walks along with his head ducked down, water dripping down his uniform. He squeezes into the doorway of a shed and lights the white paper tube. Plumes of smoke leave his mouth and the smell filters towards me and I feel a little comforted. I feel like Graham would be one of the few who understood me. Always alone and not quite fitting onto the track in life he was given.

He grinds the end of the smoke into the wet ground and it disintegrates under his wet boots. He reaches into his pocket and takes out a peach. He’s always hungry after he smokes. He used to eat brown bars but then he started following round the one they call Angela and since then it’s always been peaches or little coloured sticks dipped into something that looks like the mushed up leaves that clog the lines.

He bites the peach and the juice drips onto his chin. I see the other one before he does. Creeping up through the rain, all in black. He wraps his arm around Graham’s neck and rests a shining sliver of metal against his throat. The peach, forgotten, drops into a puddle.

“Easy now,” this new one snarls into Graham’s ear. “Do as I say and nobody needs to die tonight.”

Graham’s eyes are spilling tears and a dark patch, barely visible amidst the rainwater, forms on the front of his trousers. “What do you want?” Graham stammers through his sobs.

More are appearing now. All in black, all creeping about. I’ve no idea how many there are, all I know is that there is only Graham who is free to move. Was free to move. I’m powerless.

“It’s very simple,” the one with gun mutters into Graham’s ear. “We have a bomb and we’re going to put it onto one of these trains. Then tomorrow,” he laughs now, low and sinister, “when it reaches Kings Cross, kaboom. All you have to do, Mr Matthews, is keep your mouth shut and pretend we were never here. Or, this pretty little thing”, he says letting go of Graham’s neck to retrieve a small black box from his pocket which lights up Graham’s tear soaked face, “will throw herself in front of one of them tomorrow. Understand?”

Graham nods slowly, his chest heaving with sobs.

“Good good.” The man with the shining blade smiles and nods at one of the others who uses something shiny to open up one of the other guys. None of them are waking up. Useless mindless lumps of metal.

If only there was something I could do.

Graham is stood shaking and crying and the others are faffing about inside one of the lads. I think of Angela. The way that Graham looks at her. Then her face is in my head, screaming the way that guy did, fear and terror, another guy rusting away in this yard, forgotten and blood soaked. It wouldn’t even be her choice. The sound of the screaming is filling my head. His screams. Her screams. Then out of nowhere there’s an ear splitting noise. Choo choo! All of the ones with legs jump around yelling and holding their heads. Choo choo! Is that me? Choo choo! It is! I don’t believe it. Then I remember. It’s the trick of our ancestors. Bus surely it’s not possible. The ones with legs took it away from us when it was no longer any use to them. And yet the noise comes over and over again. Louder and louder. Choo choo, choo choo, choo choooooooo! Graham stares at me open mouthed as more of his kind appear running and yelling. The ones they call police come then and the ones who threatened Graham are thrown face down onto the wet ground. All is saved. All will be well. I am a hero. No longer a killer.

Maybe they’ll even let me off the tracks.

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The noise fades and Graham sucks the last of the fruit from the peach stone and tosses it into the mud. He walks over to me, the same hazy look in his eyes that he always has. He pats the side of my aching head and smiles. ‘We’ll be getting you cleaned up in the morning old boy, he says. “No good leaving you here any longer. The inquest is done now. Back to work.”

He saunters off, whistling again. I’ve heard the others with legs talk about him. They think he’s weird, speaking to us trains as though we can understand him.

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

Living in the past, the present, the future

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Living in the past, the present, the future

Mindfulness.  It’s trendy, or so I hear.  You have to live in the moment to be truly content and mindfulness lets you do that. Or, more eloquently:

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” (Anonymous, often wrongly attributed to Lao Tzu, correctly spelled Laozi, real name Li Er – now I’m tired!)

Now, I don’t know a massive amount about mindfulness, but I’ve had my fights with the black dog and my fair share of panic.  I’ve had moments where the future looks bleak and it’s made me depressed, past experiences have left me anxious and, sometimes, the present moment has been a depressing anxiety filled place to be.  I’ve also been able to look back at my past and smile and imagine a future where I’m happy.

The Ghost of Happiness Past

Memories can be a wonderful thing, especially when they come to you at random.  I like to think we’ve all sighed when that song has come on in a bar or the scent of a bouquet takes you back to a beautiful day.  In the end, life becomes a series of memories, some bad, some good.  There will be regrets, mistakes, lessons and pain, but there will also be smiles, places, people and moments that will make the rest of it worth it.

Nostalgia can be a dangerous thing, and yearning for a life that you used to have and cannot have again could drive you to breaking point.  But experience, learning from what you have been through and knowing that you have learned from it, makes you better prepared for what is to come.

The Ghost of Happiness Present

As I said, I don’t know a lot about mindfulness, though I have been told that the “mindfulness” that is sold to 21st century folk is not the mindfulness that has been practised for thousands of years, but rather a sort of quick fix solution.  I remember it being described to me as completely living in the moment, and never focusing on an irrevocably lost past or future fantasy.  Even if you are only washing up, you should concentrate entirely on the temperature of the water, the feel of the pots in your hands, the way the dried on porridge feels when it dissolves into slime and gets stuck underneath your fingernails…  OK the last bit I made up, but the rest of it is completely true.

So, great, yeah.  Live in the moment.  Appreciate what you have in the here and now.  Don’t depress yourself by either wishing for what has gone or what is to come.  Be content.  On the surface it sounds like pretty sound advice.  I do both conscious breathing and grounding to help with my anxiety, which I guess is along the same lines and it’s definitely beneficial to pause at least once a day and appreciate where you are and what you have.

But, surely to fully appreciate the present, you need to also appreciate how the past brought you to that moment and what is going to come in the future?

The Ghost of Happiness Yet To Come

For a lot of people the scariest place of all is the future.  What if things don’t work out how you want them to?  What if something terrible is around the corner?  What if there is no tomorrow?

For other people the future can’t come soon enough.  The things they will do, the success they will have, how happy they will be.

Worrying about a future that might not happen is pointless – I know this and I do it anyway, but I’m working on it.  Living in a fantasy world and taking no action towards it is equally pointless – you cannot enjoy success in any area if you’re not willing to put in the hard work to get there.  But letting your mind wander where it will may help you notice a risk that you hadn’t noticed before or a solution to a problem that you never thought of.  People often “sleep on it” when they have an important decision to make.  This comes from letting your unconscious mind deal with something rather than overthinking it consciously.

Although I am biased when it comes to mind wandering, as most of my writing is done that way.

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Your brain is the most powerful computer in the world.  It has the ability to store memories, interpret everything you’re sensing into a coherent present that you can see, smell, hear, touch and taste, and plan and strategise for what is to come.  Yes it may put a rose tint on your memories to protect you from pain, it may warp your view of the present by interfering with memories, foreboding or hope, and it may lose all control at times and lead you to panic or blindly hope for things that will never happen, but your mind has the ability to live in the past, the present and the future simultaneously.

Perhaps we would all be better off by appreciating the good and bad in all three by loving and learning from our experience, appreciating and enjoying the moment and looking towards the future with hope.

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

Katherine Howard – Review

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Katherine Howard – Review

Some historical figures, Cleopatra, Van Gogh, Henry VIII, have become the stuff of legends, so famous for a certain quirk, a love affair, their temperament, particular incidents, that it has become easy to forget that they were real people just like you and me and had everyday lives and conversations just like you and me.  Bebington Dramatic Society‘s production of Katherine Howard showed the everyday life in Henry Tudor’s court and also showed his lesser known faults – the lonely little boy who was afraid of the dark and only wanted to be seen as a person and loved for who he was.  A very funny production that often left the theatre laughing out loud it quickly dissolved into the tragic circumstances that ended Katherine’s life.  Henry’s vicious and unpredictable temper was not dwelt upon, but this added to this little known story of Henry’s fifth wife.  While not entirely historically accurate, the play is a beautiful portrayal of love, longing, jealousy, manipulation, the powerful and the powerless.  The final scene was particularly haunting, and while none of the cast could be criticised, Mark Prescott and Charlotte Cumming performed brilliantly as the ill fated husband and wife.

Katherine Howard closes tonight at 7:30 at the Gladstone Theatre, Port Sunlight.

Copyright, D M Day, 2017