Saturday, December 31, 2016

Water Lilies

Beautiful colors.
Dreams of what could have been.

The willow branches
Cry like babies.
Their green tears
Touch the lake.

Beautiful colors.
Dreams of what could have been.

The water lilies
Dance on the current.
Their pink petals
Always wet.

Beautiful colors.
Dreams of what could have been.

Just some paint
On a white canvas.
Just Monet
Reinventing the world.


NOTE This could be the first chapter of a new novel.

Chapter 1

December 10th, 2010 is a day I will never forget. It was the day that changed my life forever. That’s why I know it was a Friday. I also remember that a group of pirates hijacked a Liberian ship and that a new archive was unveiled regarding the genocide in Rwanda.

But that is all somehow unimportant. It’s just the background to my own personal tragedy, because that Friday was the day my husband died. Till then, I had lived comfortably in the cocoon of my daily life, but all of a sudden that cocoon was ripped apart and destroyed.

Josh and I had been married for eighteen years and had three beautiful children. Iris, the eldest, was seventeen. Josh Jr was thirteen and going through the worst adolescence in the history of humanity. And then there was sweet, innocent Emma who was only five.

I met Josh at the hospital where we both worked. I was an ER doctor and he was a nurse. I was also a lot more ambitious than he was. That’s why, when Iris was born we decided he would be a stay-at-home Dad and I would keep on working. It made perfect sense.

Josh was a natural with children. Me, not so much… Don't get me wrong. I love my kids, but I need to leave the house and meet other grown ups from time to time.

The morning of that ill-fated Friday was like any other morning.

I showered, got dressed and went down to the kitchen. Josh was standing, his back to me, making school lunches.

‘I don’t want a chicken sandwich, Dad. I’ve decided to become a vegetarian,’ Emma said.

‘Well, I guess you’ll have to start tomorrow, sweetie,’ he answered.

I went up to him and we kissed. My husband was a gorgeous-looking man. I still couldn’t believe he had chosen me. I mean, I’m not ugly or anything, but he was film star handsome. Tall, black hair, green eyes. It must have been his Celtic ancestry.

‘How are you, love?’

‘Good. You?’

‘Never better.’

He smiled at me and I melted inside. After all the time we’d been together, I was still madly in love with him.

‘What are you thinking?’ he asked me.

‘That I love you.’

‘Right back at you, princess.’

Josh always called me princess and I thought it was cute. It reminded me of that Italian film about a concentration camp my daughter is crazy about. 

He kept on packing lunches and I sat at the table with the children.

‘Ouch, you just kicked me, little idiot,’ Iris said to her brother.

‘Calm down, kids. I want some peace,’ I said.

‘Do you remember the school recital is today, Mum?' Iris asked me after a while.

‘Of course,’ I lied. It was always Josh who reminded me of those things and this time he hadn’t.

I finished my coffee and my two pancakes quickly and stood up. I kissed the kids and hugged Josh.

‘I’ll call you at lunchtime. Maybe you can pick me up at seven and we can go to the recital together.’

‘Good idea. See you later.’

My morning at the hospital was hectic as usual. If you have ever watched ER, you can imagine what it was like. Minus the handsome doctors, that is.

I ate a sandwich for lunch. I didn’t even bother to go to the canteen. I just swallowed it as fast as I could standing in the ambulance bay.

At six thirty, as I was getting ready to go, Minnie, my favorite nurse, came up to me.

‘Thinking of going home? Don’t. A building just collapsed in Harlem. They are bringing some of the victims here.’

‘Let me call Josh and I’ll be with you.’

Josh wasn’t happy. He asked me if there were no other doctors on call and I said no.

‘Okay, okay. But Iris will be terribly disappointed.’

Iris plays the piano and is very good at it. Till Josh died I missed most of her concerts.

The evening proved to be extremely busy. Two of my patients died. One of them was a little girl who had been crushed by a beam. 

When things calmed down at around nine, I was heartbroken. I’ve never got used to losing patients, especially children.

I was sitting behind the reception, drinking some tea before heading home when I saw them. Two uniformed cops. They walked towards me and, before they spoke, I knew what they were going to say.

I started crying hysterically and then Minnie gave me this pill and I don’t remember much more. Just a huge pain that started in my stomach (or was it my heart?) and reached every single cell of my body.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Washington Square (1997)


I knew 
I was losing my head.
I knew
There were cobwebs
In my brain.

I started 
Talking to the air.
I could see trees with faces,
Rocks with limbs.
Bats floating
In front of me.

The men came
In their white coats.
They tried to soothe me
With feathery words.
But I screamed at them
And they gave me a pill.

Now I’m alone
In a hospital bed.
Dreaming of blue skies,
Dreaming of release.
But most of all 
I dream of you.

It was all your fault.
You destroyed my mind.
You destroyed my soul.
Maybe one day
I’ll smile again…

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Cage. Free Verse Poem.

Little goldfinch,
Stay with me.
You are lucky,
You are free…

I must sit here at this table.
Copy words from my book.
Mama says I need to learn
To be responsible,
To behave well.

I want to fly,
I want to leave.
Take me somewhere
Where sentences don’t exist.

I wish you could talk,
I wish you understood.
Do you feel 
The way I do?

This room is a prison,
My flowers are dead.
The apples on the table
Smell of sawdust and lead.

Quickly, my darling,
Hide under my dress.
Mama is returning.
You don’t want to
Go back into your cage.

For Real

Have you ever seen a fairy? If you want to, you must wait till it's dark and the moon is shining its white light on your garden.

Tread lightly not to frighten them and you’ll see them sitting on the lower branches of a tree.

A fairy is as small as a peach and as delicate as china. Her wings flutter constantly. It’s like music. Like the music of a feather on piano keys.

Go nearer if she lets you and look at those wings. They are transparent and resemble sheets of ice.

Fairies use leaves and petals as clothes. They know how to weave them into magnificent robes to hide their tiny limbs.

Most beautiful of all is a fairy’s face. It resembles a tiny jewel. Her small eyes speak to you and the rosy lips are like the promise of a kiss.

I know you think I’m daydreaming. You think this is just make-believe. You think they are the musings of a madwoman.

You’re wrong. It’s all true. I’ve seen fairies in my garden…

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Time Travel. Creative Writing Prompt.

I didn’t know what to do, but I was bored, so in the end I decided to press the button.

I felt an electric shock and was pushed backwards.

‘What was that?’ I said, standing up. 

A cloud of smoke enveloped both me and the machine. I couldn’t see anything. The white fumes made me cough.

After a while, the smoke disappeared. And lo and behold the attic was gone. I was in the middle of a green field.

‘Where am I?’ I wondered. I was wearing short sleeves and it was so cold I started shivering.

‘What do I do now?’ 

For some reason, I continued speaking in a loud voice, even though I was alone. I started walking. I didn’t know which way to go. All around me there was grass and then nothing else. No cows, no fences, no roads. As a landscape it was plain boring.

Suddenly, the earth moved. I looked behind me and I saw a huge dinosaur walking towards me. He was ugly, scaly and didn’t look friendly. 

‘You have to be kidding me!’

I started running, but he was faster than I was. Now I understood how rabbits felt when chased by a wolf.

He caught up with me and held me with one of his paws. I was more terrified than I’d ever been before. He lifted his paw towards his mouth and I closed my eyes.

‘No, please Lord, don’t let him eat me.’

Just then I heard a plop and was surrounded by smoke one more time. When the smoke dispersed, I saw I was back in the attic.

My uncle was looking at me and he didn’t look happy. 

‘What have I told you about not touching my things? You could have died! Thank goodness I happened to be looking at the Prehistory camera right now and was able to bring you back…’

‘I’m sorry, Uncle Bob, it’ll never happen again. I promise.’ 

While I spoke, I hid my hand behind my back. My fingers were crossed. What? My uncle’s inventions are too much fun to give them up altogether just like that.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Sharbat Gula

I’m only a child
But I feel old.
The world thinks I’m wild.
Their curiosity makes me cold.

They talk about my eyes,
They wonder about my fate.
But will they listen to my cries?
I guess I’ll just have to wait.

When he took my picture,
He stole my soul.
He said I was a lovely mixture.
He said I looked like a foal.

My photograph has been everywhere
But I have stayed at home.
My heart is forever bare
To be found in any tome.

Under My Bed

There’s a monster under my bed…

Dad has just turned off the light and told me to go to sleep, but I can’t. I hear somebody breathing and I promise it’s not me.

There’s a monster under my bed…

I have just turned on the light and called for Mum. She has come and told me to calm down. She’s tucked me in and said I was alone. She’s sung a lullaby and said she was just next door. But I can’t sleep.

There’s a monster under my bed…

I guess I could look. But I don’t want to. I’m sure I would see orange eyes. And a big brown nose. A green wart and enormous horns.

I scream for Dad and he comes again. He tells me he’s tired and fed up with me. I ask him to please look under the bed.

He says there is nothing. Just a bit of fluff. He kisses me good night and leaves my room.

There’s a monster under my bed…

I know there is. You have to believe me. I’m not making it up. I’m sure he will eat me up during the night. Then Mum and Dad will feel guilty and wish they had listened to me.

There is a monster under my bed…

Eventually I fall asleep and after a while I wake up again. I have seen him. He’s real! 

‘Mum, Mum, please come here.’

She comes to my room. Her hair tousled, her eyes half-closed. I describe the monster and she starts laughing. I pout at her cruelty.

‘Wait a minute,’ she says and returns with a book.

‘Is this by any chance your monster?’

I look at the book and there he is. The Gruffalo! It’s the story Nana read to me yesterday.

So there isn’t a monster under my bed…

Now I can sleep and so can Mum and Dad.

The Gruffalo (2009) Full Movie

Iris Surprise.

I have just seen a vole
Sleeping in a tiny hole.
She was inside this purple lily.
No, please, don’t think me silly.

I just can’t find a word
to rhyme with iris.
What a mess!
The lines of poetry are becoming blurred.

What a sweet, heart-warming pic.
She looks so tiny and cosy.
It made me a happy chick.
I think I’ll call her Rosie.

Enough rhyme for one day,
My brain cells
Are getting tired.
Prose is calling from my desk.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Best Friends. Writing Prompt.

If I could have any fictional character as my best friend, I would choose Joey Tribianni. 

Why? There are many reasons. Joey is naive and childlike. He’s honest and would never backstab me.

Even though he’s not a real person, I’ve had a crush on him for years. He’ so incredibly handsome and sweet!

I can easily picture myself as his flatmate (Rachel Green, eat your heart out!). We would share everything and tell each other our secrets.

Then one day, late at night, Joey would confess how he really felt about me.

‘There’s something I have to tell you, Maria.’

‘Yes, Joey?’

‘I’m in love with you.’

At this, I would open my eyes wide and say, ‘My sentiments exactly.’

But then the director would shout, ‘Cut! You’re a horrible actress, Maria. That was too rehearsed. I want you to sound natural.’

‘I was trying to sound British. Besides, my husband is in the audience.’

Talk about a mood killer…I think I’ll choose a new best friend. How about Bugs Bunny? My other half will be more than happy with my new choice.


Don’t stand on that.
It makes you cry.

My Mum is strong,
My Mum is courageous,
But when she steps 
On that contraption,
I see the tears
Run down her cheeks.

Avoid that evil device.
It will break your heart.
It will tell you truths
You don’t want to hear.

Don’t step on that.
It makes you sad.

It shows you numbers,
It screams facts.
Even grown ups,
Fear that machine.

Stay away!
It will destroy

Your self confidence.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Swing

Whenever I see the swing, I think of Josh. We used to go to the lake and take turns riding it and looking at the water.
He would tell me about his day and I would talk about this and that.

Josh was my best friend. We had been best friends since kindergarten.

‘What do you think of the new girl?’ he asked me one day.

‘She’s pretty.’

‘I think I like her.’

I felt a pang of jealousy. I wanted Josh to like me like a girl, not to think of me as just a mate.

‘More than you like me?’

‘Of course not. You’re my friend. This is different.’

A few days after our conversation, Josh told me he couldn’t come with me. Apparently, he had to go somewhere.

I imagined he would be meeting Lisa, the new girl. I cried all the way to the lake. I stayed there for a while, but without Josh the swing was no fun.

The next morning at school, I asked him where he had been.

‘Nowhere important,’ he said.

‘Are we going to the lake today?’ I asked.


But we didn’t go. In the middle of the morning, Josh got up, spoke to the teacher and left. I wondered what that was all about.

When I got home, I called him.

‘Why did you leave?’

‘I wasn’t feeling well.’

‘Are you better now? Do you want me to go and be with you?’

‘No, it’s okay, Claire. I think I’m going to go to bed early.’

I felt rejected, as if something bad was happening to our friendship.

Over the next few days, I noticed Josh looked sick. He was pale and thinner than usual. He also got tired very easily.

‘Are you going to tell me what’s going on?’ I asked him one day as he sat on the swing, his gaze fixed on the lake.

‘I have cancer.’

‘What? You cannot have cancer! You are only twelve!’

‘But I do… and it’s bad. I’m never going to get to grow up or to do everything I wanted to do.’

‘Don’t say that!’

I know I shouldn’t have, but I left him there and ran all the way home. 

‘What’s wrong, sweetie?’ Mum asked when she saw the tears running down my cheeks.

I told her about Josh and she hugged me. Then she drove me back to the lake to pick him up, but he had already left.

A few days after that, Josh was taken to hospital. I begged my Mum to let me visit him. At first, she said we shouldn’t bother him, but after a while I convinced her.

Josh was in a big white bed and looked small and frightened.

‘I brought you candy,’ I said.

‘Thanks,’ he smiled. But he didn’t eat it.

He didn’t seem to want to talk, so I just stayed by his side.

A few mornings later, Mum and Dad came into my room before my alarm went off. Their serious faces frightened me.

‘No, don’t say it! I don’t want to hear it.’

I knew Josh had died and couldn’t bear it. I ran into the bathroom and locked myself in there. I didn’t go to school that day.

Now I go to the lake every day and think of Josh. Of everything we could do together if he was still here.

Mum says I have to cheer up and I know I will. Eventually.