The Harp

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“So,” he whispered. “It’s really true.”

In the heart of the forest, in the last place you would expect to find one, was a harp. It glistened under the waterfall, the water crashing down on it and bouncing off in glittering cascades. These golden droplets splashed into a small lake that shimmered in the later afternoon sunlight. Birds chirped overhead, flitting between the branches. A young stag pranced about in the long grass, and the blur of a bushy squirrel tail whipped behind a thick trunk. This was the most magnificent, secluded place Warren had ever seen. He smiled and felt at one with the nature.

It was clear this was no ordinary harp; not only from its unusual location, but also by its sweet song. It was a beautiful, hypnotic sound which the trees almost seemed to sway in time to. In fact, the sounds of the forest worked in harmony with the harp rather than drowning it out. The music wrapped its silken fingers around Warren’s heart. His very soul.

The song, the beauty of the scene, and the sense of peace they brought to him both physically and mentally, made Warren long for the instrument. He should have been asking himself how it was playing by itself, or how it had come to be there. He should have sensed the magic.

But he was already under the spell. He climbed hastily over the rocks, eyes and heart locked on the enchanting artefact. It shimmered alluringly, flirting with him.

He hesitated as he reached the waterfall. One poorly placed foot and he would slip downstream. Warren stepped underneath the crushing weight of water. He felt an intense energy that had nothing to do with the strength of the waterfall on his shoulders. The harp was pulsating, and radiating with heat despite the coolness of the stream.

There was definitely no-one playing it. In fact, there was no evidence of any human interference in this forest bar the harp itself. It did not seem like this was a place humanity was meant to see.

He studied the harp up close. He looked at the ornate wooden carvings of exotic flowers and graceful animals and thought they moved. He blinked and looked again. The strings were like silk, finer than a spider’s web. He put his hand on the frame. The throbbing power transfused into his palm, and wound its way through his entire body. He felt the melody entwining with his lifeblood, and it felt incredible. He felt stronger and healthier than he had in years. Overcome with euphoria, he placed his other hand on it, and pulled it out of the water.

The music quickened. It grew louder until it sounded angry and deafening. The soothing sound of the stream became a crashing roar of betrayal. The river raged and swelled until it flooded the banks. The trees grew dark as hundreds of birds burst from their midst and dived at him. Dozens of squirrels and other woodland creatures poured from the oaks like  a furry plague. The deer’s eyes turned bloodshot as it charged wildly at Warren. The forest awoke with a cacophony of fury, and it had a thirst for blood.

He tried to run from the clearing, but the harp grew increasingly heavy and he struggled to move it. The crows pecked at his exposed skin in relentless waves of black feathers and sharp beaks, their beady eyes wide with rage. The other animals bit at his bare legs until they were tattered and bloody, missing large chunks of flesh and sinew. In several places, white of bone was visible. He had puncture wounds on his arms, chest and neck, but still the birds circled him. He screamed, but there was nobody to hear him.

He tried to hobble back to the waterfall to replace the harp, but succeeded only in ripping his skin further. It was agony. One crow clawed at his face, scratching deep gouges from forehead to chin. Another pecked at his eye and it popped, instantly spurting blood. He shrieked in helplessness, adding to the din of animals noises and screeching music.

His legs couldn’t take it anymore. They buckled beneath him. The animals did not relent their attack, but increased in ferocity now that they could attack more of him. The river dragged him under its depths, as if the water was against him too. He has no enerfy left to fight the tide, and was almost glad for the coolness of the water.

Until the current pulled him downstream and his skull smashed open on a rock. He spat out blood, struggled to breathe for a minute, and then was overwhelmed by animals and water alike.

The water tainted with blood ran upstream, against the current and back into the lake, where a small whirlpool drank it down into the unknown.

The music slowed back to its soothing tune, the harp back in its original dwelling. The birds flew back to their nests, whistling merrily, and the army of little animals scurried out of sight. The water saturated the earth until it had shrunk back to a gentle stream. The forest quieted down. It had been appeased.

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Death

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This was a poem I wrote for Coursework in my first year. My tutor hated it… but I didn’t think it was that bad =( It was meant to be cheesy!

All consuming, ever famished.

Greedily gorging, cannot vanquish.

Invisible yet everywhere,

taking lives without care.

Leaving only destruction in his wake,

but friendship and feelings he cannot take.

He knows not life, he knows not death,

for he is no corpse, yet has no breath.

As new as us, as old as time,

a creature of fear, a creature sublime.

And should you ever chance to meet

this creature that so likes to eat

the souls of every living thing,

you cannot pray, you cannot sing

of the deities that gave you hope.

They turn away, they watch you choke,

for even they cannot contend

with that which brings everything’s end.

Your lives have led up to do this day,

when he would lead you far away

beyond the realm of life and light,

into the dark beyond our sight.

And so when your time comes to die,

do not fight or flee or fly.

Accept him in with welcome arms,

and look back on your life’s old charms.

And smile as you step through the veil,

for all stories must end, and my, what a tale.

100 Word, One Sentence Story

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As he sat by her bed, a thousand images burst into his mind; his first tantalising glimpse of her auburn hair as she passed him in the corridor, the twinkle of her emerald eyes across the table on their first date, her dazzling teeth grinning behind those perfect lips as she screamed, “yes!” in answer to his proposal; her stomach becoming bloated with their unborn child (while she somehow remained as astonishingly beautiful as ever), and yet all soon to be gone with just one push of a button that will not only end her life, but his as well.

My Fair Duchess

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I didn’t realise it was NaPoWriMo!! Strangely enough it wasn’t mentioned on my Creative Writing course…

Well, here’s a poem I wrote for Coursework last year, as a response to Robert Browning’s My Last Duchess, where we had to keep the rhyming words at the end of the lines the same as the original poem. Not as easy as it looks!

 

There’s my fair duchess captured on the wall,

As beautiful here as in life – I recall

The piano whites tickled by her elegant hands.

She finishes playing and then she stands.

“Miss, will’t please you play once more?” I said.

She obliged and attended me while I read.

 

And each day upon seeing her glowing countenance,

I longed more for the passion of her emerald glance.

Though lovely as that smile had been, by

law the property of my brother. And I

Admired from afar, speaking when I durst

and choosing the path of betrayal, but at first

she declined my affections, said it was not

a safe topic, or an appropriate spot

to talk – afraid of my brother perhaps?

The duke who sits in luxury’s lap –

Who throws away money, saying, “paint

my dear duchess ere her beauty grows faint.”

The man who owns such fanciful stuff –

which I’m afraid is never enough:

for the greatest jewel he already had.

Suffice to say my heart was glad

when she agreed to my proposal with, “whate’er

the consequence, I’d follow you anywhere.”

Sir, how happy was I! My favour at her breast.

I waited ’til the sun set in the West

before riding out on my servant’s mule –

“To town I go,” I managed to fool

my brother. I rode with her – each

moment falling for her more. Her eloquent speech

beguiled me. For the bough of cherries she thanked

profusely – such a small gift had ranked

higher than my brother’s marriage; the gift of our name.

It had been forced on her, so who could blame

her lack of love and marital skill

when marriage was against her will?

 

My brother knew we met like this –

The small details went not amiss.

He pieced it together, then let

us meet under false pretences he had set.

I tried to deny, make some excuse

but in the end he made me choose.

I smiled at him. I had no doubt

of my decision. “Her I cannot live without.”

 

“This presumption must be tested.” He gives commands

and by the hanging rope she solemnly stands.

She smiles at me and say, “I hope we shall meet

again. Know I am happy not to repeat

the same shallow pretence

of love and false munificence.”

I was pained to watch, but disallowed

to leave. I watched my love die and I avowed

to avenge her. But ere I go,

I stand before her painting. And though

the unveiling of her face is a rarity,

those concealed eyes still show love for me.

Blossom

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I am delicate satin between thumb and finger.

In the intricate dance of Spring, I am the forerunner.

We swirl in unison, my family and I,

Mother waves goodbye in the breeze that carries us.

We shower like confetti, shoot like sparks,

leaving a scattering of pink snow in our wake.

But soon our song ends. I fall amongst the green,

and lie by yellow flowers, to be trampled to brown.

The Moon Dream

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I was sat in a class at the CUJAE (Creative University for Just About Everything), and we were taking it in turns to tell each other an interesting real life story we encountered. When it came to my turn, I told them about some rather uninteresting shopping experience where a woman stole a top from Marks and Spencer (from my dreams you guys probably think I’m obsessed with shopping… I swear I’m not!)

Then a large woman at the back stood up and told her tale. And her story, like her size, dwarfed mine:

“My husband and I decided we needed a fresh start. He got a job at NASA, and we thought, ‘screw it, let’s go live on Mars.’

So we packed up our rocket, sold our house and bought a plot of land on the red planet. We were just about to set off when my brother decided he was coming with us.”

The woman pushed the tiny desk away from her so she could breathe a little easier.

“We left Earth behind. I thought ‘great! a brand new start with the man I love and my annoying little brother.’ But no. The idiots have to get talking, and then they see the moon out the window. They tell me they want to stop there, to see the sights. Already they’re ruining my trip.”

She smashed her fist on the desk, which wobbled dangerously.

“They were determined. So I parked the rocket on the moon, and they put on their space suits. My brother said he would ring me when my husband got bored of drifting round the moon. That was fine, we had plenty of satellites orbiting the Earth so we’d both have signal.

“So I set off on my own to Mars. I got a call from my brother a few days later, but I ignored it. I never went back for them.” She finished her story and sat down. “And I haven’t looked back since.”