She said she was seventeen. She looked her given age, her clothing fashionable, worn with a hint of disdain, her figure slim and supple. It was her that eyes gave her away. They knew too much. I pitied her then, and she saw it. I regret it to this day.
I have always been interested in nature. One of my very first memories was of receiving a book called A Naturalist’s Guide to Great Britain. I still have this book even though it was given on my seventh birthday. I used to peruse the pictures and then try to identify the same things when outdoors. For some reason, and for someone with such a bad memory, most of the nature stuff stuck in my brain particularly birds. I still look for hawks and buzzards every time I go outside.
When I grew older — I won’t say taller — I made a point of visiting and holidaying in places that were linked with natural beauty. I’ve been lucky in visiting such wonderful countries as Norway, Austria, Switzerland and Sweden as well as many others renowned for their scenery. I have loved them all. I think this is why I love a view and at some point in the future, if ever I could afford a permanent one, it would mean more to me than any amount of material possessions.
There are two things that have brought me peace of mind. The first is writing — I honestly hate to think where I would be without creating. The second would be when I’ve been as far away from other people as I could get: the top of the Eiger in Switzerland and the Arctic Circle. I dream of those two individual things being one. I love it quiet and I love stunning scenery.
Author’s Note: If I remember, I’ll write a post about my visiting the Ice Hotel in Sweden, having to go to the loo in the middle of the night in nothing but my boxer shorts and a pair of trainers and walking past a bar full of very drunk people. They went quiet. I went red.
I have concerns about whether the next generation and certainly the ones after them, will be able to admire as much natural beauty as I have. This worry is probably reflected in a lot of my short writing for WordPress and with more subtlety in my long-form work. I become frightened whenever I consider the consequences of our acts. So much now rests in the hands of humanity and those hands are greased and sweaty.
Life is a delicate balance, a see-saw in a hurricane one might say. Life is colour and sound and texture and the sum of our collective imaginations. Life is also a constant source of inspiration and nature personifies it. I’m not sure what I would do without a few green trees, unkempt hedges and a stream or two. I wouldn’t write the same as I do, that’s for sure. Food for thought.
Thank you for reading
Richard M. Ankers / Author of The Eternals Series
Into Eternity (Soon!)
The day still held a sharp residue of summer, a citric tang. Memories of those early years picking lemons off the trees, how it felt like holding the sun, sneaking bites then wrinkling our faces, a flood of yellows past washed over me like an August storm. They were hot those yesterdays, so very hot.
Memories resurfaced of times forgotten. I could almost taste the sweat rolling down my face again. It used to tickle at my lips and then hang like a mountain climber scaling an overhang waiting for gravity to do its thing. Next came the choice: lick or shake? I always licked; it was a salty temptation.
I was young, innocent, untouched by the dreams of others, instead, dwelling in my own. Life was good. Citrine was the colour of those dreams and I missed every one of them.
My love of Reading
There’s something about the word that drips from the tongue, fan-ta-sy. Three syllables became my sanctuary. I’m thankful for them daily.
It all started when a little girl — not me, thank you very much — walked through a wardrobe and stepped out into snow. Wow! Could you? Would you?
There was a simple answer for one young lad who wanted his own space, his own little world to live in: yes. Perhaps it was isolationism or just a desire to dream during the safety of day instead of risk the terrible nightmares he suffered every night? I still can’t answer that, but my future was set. Not only this, but I secretly promised myself that at some point, at some time, I would write something that released others in the same way that the incredible C. S. Lewis did for me.
Once one develops a taste for a certain genre of writing it can rapidly develop into an obsession. It did, too. Every penny of pocket money, odd jobs and birthday money went on comics and books. We weren’t well off and neither were my extended family, but one advantage of loving the written word is that generally, you don’t need to be. I bought, collected and read. It made me happy.
As I grew from single figures into double and onwards, my lust for reading never evaporated although it was kept secret from my friends and even family to a degree. Being sporty, which I was and still am, it would have been unwise or at best ill-advised to advertise a passion for books to the world if you know what I mean. And so my secret horde grew. Foremost amongst my collection was the author Michael Moorcock and for one good reason: Elric.
Elric was first written as an exact opposite to Robert E. Howard’s classic Conan the Barbarian. Where Conan was muscular, powerful and epitomised physical might, Elric did not. The albino prince of a dying race, Elric survived on drugs and sorcery. He prayed to Arioch, a less than redeemable God, and had a general dislike for everyone: just my kind of guy. When Elric (and I can’t remember how he actually came to own it) finds the sword Stormbringer — wow, what a name — the circle is complete. Elric’s sword sucked souls and passed that vitality to its owner. The white wolf was born and my love of antiheroes with it. I read many Elric novels — Moorcock was ever prolific — and was staggered that right at the end of them, my hero was killed by his own blade. So many twists. So many possibilities. So much scope to learn from in my desire to write. I read EVERYTHING that Moorcock wrote and still own upwards of fifty of his novels. One of my few regrets of youth was not getting to meet him at a book signing. I drove, then walked many miles to get his autograph only to find it cancelled when I got there. For someone as shy as me to have plucked up the courage to do so was devastating.
Fantasy can be interpreted in so many ways and so my reading diversified. I vacuumed up Gene Wolfe’s poetic prose, Ray Bradbury’s never ending imagination, everything and everyone from age old classics to the latest in modern writings. I enjoyed them all and still do when I can find the time to read. Fantasy provided an outlet, an escape, a place beyond the sneers and angry words of what to me did and still does seem a vicious world. At times, anyway.
The best Fantasy authors have the ability to not only drag you into their worlds but make you think they’re real, possible, plausible. I think this is why I did and will always prefer Fantasy to Science Fiction. No matter how good a Sci-Fi novel is at its core you know it’s not actually happened, where just perhaps a Lewis or Tolkien might have been to their worlds. Maybe that’s just me, but I like to think it.
In these days where computer games deliver sights and sounds to our every sense, where cinema slams ideas in through our eye-sockets, I feel very sorry for those kids who aren’t given the freedom to use their own imaginations as of old. There is and never will be anyplace like the deepest parts of our own minds. We have such scope, such magnificent horizons available to us that lie just waiting to be unlocked. I hope children in particular can return to these places over the next few years. Things often have a way of going in cycles. One can hope. As for me, I’m now writing what I was once reading, and it’s still the only thing that really makes me happy. Long may it continue.
Thank you for reading
Author of The Eternals Series
Into Eternity (Very Soon!)
All Images courtesy of Goodreads.com
Author’s Note: I wrote this immediately after reading a post by my good pal the wonderful Sue Vincent and her struggles with sleep. I hope you enjoy it.
When one is small, the night terrors seem all the more fearsome, bigger, unavoidable. The act of sleeping becomes a nightmare that one will do anything to avoid. Anything!
The beauty of youth lies in the length of the days and the innocent belief they will never end. The sun will rise to hang in the sky seconds dragging to minute, minutes to hours. Years never enter the equation. This is the way of things. The moon, however, is a fleeting visitor. This changes with time.
As an adult, the days shorten and nights increase. The inevitable slide toward death sees the daylight hours hurtle by at a rate of knots, the nights drawing out in their passage to one continuous darkness. For a child of nightmares who grows into adulthood, this is the worst time of all. Not everyone sheds the fears of youth. I think she knew this.
She came as a gathering of dust motes illuminated by the moon. Of no discernible distinction, more cloud than woman, she accumulated each night in the deepest recesses of my subconscious. I did not know her only of her. Neither did I dread her though some might have. She was the nightly reassurance that someone, anyone watched over me.
I did not shake the nightmares overnight. I wish I had, but that would be a lie. They were weaned from me like a child form its mother’s milk. A gentle coaxing of one soul from here to there with whispered affirmations and unseen smiles. She was so kind. No, that is wrong. She is so kind.
So, who is she, this woman with the opal eyes, this misting nymph? I do not know, I never have. All I can tell you is this: there are things we do not understand, and she is one of them. Neither do I wish to understand her. There are times when it is better to just close one’s eyes and dream.
The Fabric Girl
There was never so lonely a child as she. The fabric girl, I called her because her eyes must have been stitched together to not see what he did to her, to them.
That was a lifetime ago. I was young then and understood less than I should’ve. In adulthood, I’ve known her by the same name, but not for the reasons of youth. Age teaches one wisdom where once there was haste.
The truth was, she held them together in her tight-lipped way like the thread on your trousers or chord on your curtains. She took the beatings and bad words and sewed them into her complicated mosaic called life. She was a seamstress that girl, the best there’s ever been. She had to be, for a loose thread would’ve doomed them all.
The strongest person I’ve ever known, the stubbornest of the stubborn, that little girl with straw hair and skin like a ghost has drifted through my every thought. I’ve regretted not having told her, hers was a name born not from mockery, but admiration. The fabric girl’s still stitched into my soul.
"It started with a lamppost in a faraway land." He paused, his chest rising and falling like a calming sea, eyes hazy. "It began with a light in a distant world of snow," he heaved.
"Yes," I said, eager for more.
"I just never want that light to go out."
50 Word Stories: The Dream
The same as always, I wake and pray. Tensing, I draw back the curtains to a torrent of white that falls on the window like sprayed frosting; Christmas the cake to be devoured. I have no need to see the tree, presents, smiles and joy, my day is already made.
For all the kids that dwell Deep inside.
50 Word Stories: Red and White Yesterdays
I remember before the knowing, when the pure whiteness of snow signalled the onset of Christmas and with it Him. My dreams were red and white with expectant tomorrows, the child that was revelling in the magic of that one day amongst so many others. It has not gone away.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
Christmas was always white. Innocence reigned.