December 2006 – March 2007

 

The most recent drabbles are at the top

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A challenge about nursery rhymes. This is possibly slightly silly. Posted 23rd March 2007

 

The Nursery Rhymes of England

"Actually, he wasn't."

Will broke off mid-hum, and looked at Merriman quizzically.

"A merry old soul. And neither did he have fiddlers. Fiddlers would have been a mercy. War-horns produce such a regrettable sound."

Will closed his mouth.

"And, while we're on the subject, Tom was no piper's son, and the pig was no mere pig; the Light has never truly recovered from its loss. As the for Fall of Jack and Jill…"

Will was intrigued."What about the three little kittens?"

"A work of fiction, of course." Merriman sounded impatient. "Talking animals do not exist outside foolish fantasy stories for children."
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Note: Actually, this is not, perhaps, quite so silly. Some nursery rhymes relate to historical events, and others may be watered-down versions of older legends or lore, so far reduced that they're now considered only fit for babies. I find this quite powerful.

 

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Challenge: "Make-do, or do without." Posted 5th March 2007

 

Hand-me-downs
 
"Stephen's wearing a dress!" James whooped, capering with the photograph held triumphantly aloft.

"The war was barely over," his mother explained. "'Make do and mend' was the motto. And grandma had no need for my old baby clothes..."

"A dress!" James prodded Stephen. "Like a girl!"

Max looked up, his brush resplendent with scarlet. "But we remember what your favourite scarf used to be."

"What?" James froze mid-leap. "What?"

But Max was concentrating on his painting, and Stephen was writing, and their mother was cooking, and all were deaf.

"I'm giving it to Will," James said, with painful dignity. "I was going to, anyway."

 

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This challenge called for a drabble about gossip. Posted 1st March 2007. This drabble also inspired me to write Other Lives, Other Voices

 

To foreign parts

"Will Stanton hasn't been home for years," Mrs Pettigrew commented from her corner.

Mrs Horniman leant forward, smug with knowledge. "He's gallivanting in foreign parts again, Alice says. He sends postcards."

Mrs Pettigrew sniffed, treating the news with correct disapproval.

"Perhaps he's a spy," Fred observed, busy with potatoes.

His mother fluttered anxiously. "Oh dear. Do you think so? He did go to Oxford..."

"Spies come from Cambridge, dear," Mrs Horniman reassured her.

"Like James Bond." Oblivious, Fred stared at invisible vistas beyond the window. "Casinos and cars and gorgeous girls."

Sighing, he returned to his potatoes, envying Will, who had escaped.

 

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A challenge about darkness. This was posted on the 26th of January 2007

 

Power cut

Bran edged closer. "When the power goes, you understand why people once thought monsters lurked in the dark."

A creature sounded, high and mournful; maybe far, or maybe near.

"It makes the world seem so vast and unfriendly, and our grip on civilisation so frail."

A cloud like a dark hand consumed the stars.

"And no light to guide us home, and no way of finding the path beneath our feet." Bran stopped walking. "Are you even there, Will?"

But Will saw the mind behind the darkness, and the shambling things that moved unseen. "I am here," he declared. "I am here."

 

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This challenge was about spectator sports. I cheated horribly in this drabble, since I didn't include the notes in the word count. Posted 8th January 2007

 

The Boat Race

"And the Dark Blues are surging ahead. The Light Blues are a veteran team, after all, except for their youthful cox, and…

"Oh! What have we here? The Light Blues have raced into the lead. Unbelievable! Oh! The Dark Blues are sinking like a stone. They've gone! Not even bubbles remain.

"But the Light Blues aren't stopping. Oh! They seem to have left their cox behind, alone in the water, but… You've won, lads! You can stop… Oh!

"Well, listeners, both teams seem to have vanished. This is Susan Cooper, reporting on what could be the last Boat Race ever. Er… goodbye."
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Note: This is a work of fiction. In real life, of course, the Dark Blues (Oxford) are of the course the goodies, while the Light Blues (the Other Place) are the baddies ;-)

Merriman ought to be the cox of the Light Blue team, since the cox is the one who tells everyone where to go, but he was too tall, so Will got the job. Arthur is the stroke – the lead oarsman - because he owns the boat. The Lady is Bow, because everybody does.

The Grey King was almost stroke on the Dark Blue boat, but his desire for menacing solitude didn't work too well in what is, after all, a team sport. Now the Rider has the job, but he keeps calling the oars "reins" and urging the boat to "giddy up." This is confusing.

The Wild Magic also entered a boat, captained by Tethys, but it prefers to race on the wild and untamed ocean, and so was disqualified.

 

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This drabble was written for a challenge about nightmares – posted 5th December 2006

 

Only a dream

 

He woke with a cry. Will was at his side, calm as ever. "Bad dream?"

 

Bran felt foul with sweat. "It was horrible. There was a sword… a rider… a horse's skull..."

 

Will was very still.

 

Bran pressed trembling hands to his face, hiding from this, the very worst of it. "And you weren't human. And you were going to live forever, and I was going to die." He lowered his hands, and gave a faint laugh. "Silly, eh? It was only a dream."

 

Will was looking beyond him, his face like carved stone in the half light. "Only a dream..."