Recurring Theme

16 Jul

I have a recurring theme to my nightmares – fighting for someone, and it turning into fighting either someone I love or fighting for myself.

Most seem to start out in a surreal world related to schools. Invariably in the dream-to-be-nightmare, I arrive at a school to teach a particular class. The class is a group of miscreants who’ve been banished from regular classrooms to one isolated from the rest of the school. Sometimes they classroom is off away among a mini forest, or is in a broken, neglected building on the verge of collapse.

The dream students are all adolescents, and often absentees. They have their own “dress code” whereas the school’s other students dutifully wear the prescribed uniform. They keep to their own schedule, coming in and out to fit their other life on the street or just wasting it out at home. Some have a criminal record for minor misdemeanours, Some are hard core fighters against the world if only emotionally.

I find resources for them. I find second hand furniture, and show them how to upgrade it. I buy paint for the walls, scrounge carpet for the floor… I try to make it become “their” classroom. We get along well, as I apply a relaxed “teach what they need when they need it” approach. They come to respect me, and that’s all I need from them.

In the meantime I’m arguing the case for them to be in a safer building, as there is an ever increasing threat of the building collapsing or falling into a sink hole beneath it. Other staff become aggravated that I’m not following the regular curriculum, I’m being given too much leeway, too many resources, too much unaccountable funding…

And as the dream becomes a nightmare, I have to physically take action. I wrestle a falling student up from the gulf which has opened beneath her. I shove furniture off from on top of students as the building is shaken by an earthquake. I separate two fighting students. I defend a student from a walk-in attacker.

And that’s when I waken – as my sleeping body physically moves with the nightmare activity. More than once I’ve hit my sleeping husband (poor guy). On more than one occasion I’ve fallen back to sleep to dream it all over again.

I hate that nightmare. I’ve wondered if it reflects anything real from my teaching career. And, yes, I’ve had to verbally argue for better conditions, more resources. I’ve had to separate fighting students. I’ve had to face down other staff disgruntled by my department getting funs=ding for classroom improvements. But these things never upset me at the time or place.

I stopped compulsory education level teaching in 2001. Why does this come back to haunt me? Who can say – perhaps I didn’t fight the good fight enough for some students – I don’t know. But I so wish this nightmare would let me get over it!



Posted in response to this Daily Prompt:
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/nightmare/

2 people who gave me great advice

16 Jul

The first was my mother, Jocelyn (died in 1997).

When I was entering the teen years, she responded to me belly-aching about having to babysit for a couple who gave me the creeps. I had babysat for them once before (and I don’t believe I was paid – my mother was doing them a favour) and I was to sleep overnight on their couch. The four boys all went to bed readlily enough. I only had to remind them to keep their noise down else they wakened the baby, once.

When all was quiet, and the Untouchables episode had finished (now that dates me, yes?), I wrapped myself in the blanket and fell asleep, the couch being comfortable and I being rather naïve. I awoke twice that night to find the father of the house standing watching me sleep; the first time from the hallway door, the second from the end of the sofa.

But when I told mum I didn’t want to go back there, she said…
“When you have a job to do, get on with it”.  I did the babysitting job, but asked the father to drive me home, which he did in spite of being tipsy.

But I have applied that to every job I’ve done.

The second to give me advice – and a better piece of advice I’ve never had – was my father Willy (died c. 1987). We ran a family Dairy (corner store, similar to Abu’s Kwik-E-Mart in The Simpsons). I loved working there after high school. And i enjoyed working with him and with the other employees – including Marge (no, not Simpson).

One day I was so tired, I just wanted to sit out the back and read. I know I may have grumbled a bit.

Dad said…
“If you have a job to do, find the fun in it, and do it well”.

Which led to, when stacking tinned goods on the shelves, Marge writing the price on each can, and rolling them one by one across the shop floor to me to stack. (Yes, writing prices with a felt pen dates me, too.) Customers had to get used to checking the floor for rolling cans every afternoon. We had some hilarious times in the shop.

And both pieces of advice have stuck with me all through my working life as an accountant’s clerk, teacher,  parent, and all the other twenty or so jobs I’ve done.

Others have given me advice, but both my parents’ advice have stuck with me.

 

This prompted by the Weekly Challenge at…
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/discover-challenges/a-piece-of-advice/

Off the page – 200-word june homework

2 Jul

The brief: 200 word suspense…1st prsn, or 3rd restricted; no reveal
Suspense can be thought of as generated by the deliberate withholding of information from a reader through the strategic use of point of view.”  Spend some time writing a first person, or third-person restricted, narrative where you lead your reader on but refuse to divulge the full picture of what is actually going on.


The lights are off, inside the building and out in the car park. This place is so familiar I don’t need them. I tighten my grip on the handles of my bag, and feel to check I’ve left the desktop as clear after my rummaging as it’d been when I arrived.

One small chink of keys in my pocket is the only sound. My tread is silent as I cross the room. At the first door, as I place my hand on its handle I remember one hinge squeaks. I work a mouthful of spit, and dribble onto the one at waist height. 

The handle makes no sound, the hinge is silent. I slip through and make sure the door doesn’t ‘clunk’ as it’s forced closed by the fitting above. Across the linoleum floor I feel the cold through my socks. The outer door opens without a sound. I slip my feet into my shoes waiting at the door sill. I get the keys from my right pocket, and lock the door again.

It’s cold, a frost. The night’s black, stars a bright contrast. Cold air stings my lungs, drowns the traffic noise. No-one will know. A sound alarm? Pff!

© Lynne McAnulty-Street, Rotorua NZ, 2016

Off the page – 200-word homework, May ’16

2 Jul

I chose this bach at the end of the beach road after watching for two nights and a day – no lights, no movement, no one living here. A perfect hiding place, its porch faced the headland away from neighbouring baches – just right for recuperation in seclusion from prying eyes. This first night, all I needed was sleep. I’d break the door lock in the morning, after the neighbour took his skiff out for fishing.

I sprawled on the floor. The cotton rug was too scratchy, so I slung it onto the narrow bench-seat. The wooden planks of the partially closed in verandah were cooler to lie on – soothing to aches, bruises, scratches and burns in the summer night’s heat. I started relaxing into sleep almost immediately.

A peculiar feeling, like an ever expanding cold tingle, stirred me wide awake. It crawled over me, my neck, shoulders, back… wrapping me in a creepy prickling sensation. I should have been alone, but I wasn’t. I listened through the blackness.

A snuffling noise. I rolled over and under the bench, pulling the rug back down over me. The click of nails on steps. Damn! The dog had followed me from the crash site!

Off the Page – 200 word homework

25 May

There’s something about Douglas Archer…I can’t quite put my finger on anything in particular…it’s just— Things don’t add up. He wears a wedding ring on a cord around his neck, but his house— Have you been inside? Nothing lady-like, feminine. No photos of any woman at all. No frilly touches. How long’s he been here?

That’s eight years more than me, and I still don’t know him. Oh, we talk. At the tea rooms when we sit together over a scone and a shared pot. Always in green corduroys, even in summer. And that green… checky-type… flat cap. Doesn’t  take it off, ever.

But I always get a funny feeling whenever I see him…not up close, but when he’s like, on the other side of the road, or way across the supermarket… It’s like – I’ve known him before. Curious that, cause he’s never mentioned any towns or villages I’ve been. Anyway, enough about “Ginger Head”. Glasses like owl eyes.

What’re  you reading? Oh, I know that magazine. From Scotland? Yes, off you go. I’ll have a quick flick through it while you’re “occupied”.

Oo, Murderer’s Son Looking For Father. I remember that case – Archie McDougal. Old photograph…

…Oh! Ooh!!

_____________

Written as a 200-word homework piece, given the brief to provide background to a character, either Ruth McLean or Douglas Archer, and using the word “curious”, for the April meeting.
The latest 200-word homework piece is at the dedicated page here at my site.

 

Competition Winner – Me?

3 Apr

The competition was for members of the Rotorua Writers Group, with the brief of a 1500 word mystery. I did Not expect to get past the first cull!

Peeping Tom or Worse

Written under pseudonym Bridie Stewart *

In bed by half-past-six, both girls were surprised to hear conversation from the footpath outside their bedroom. Susan peeked out between the slats of the blinds, and only caught a glimpse of who was out there when their Mum, who was on the terrace just outside, rapped on the window.

“There’s men outside talking,” Susan whispered. With Mum just out there, all they could do was wonder what was going on. They heard Mum and Dad talking very quietly, coming inside again into the lounge…more quiet talking.

Dad came into their room.

“Shut your windows, please?”

“It’s too hot, Dad.”

“Never mind. Just close them and keep them closed. Every night.” He left only when Susan had closed them. They whispered in the gloom, wondering why they had to have the windows shut, as the summer night’s temperature rose.

“Maybe there’s a swarm of bees outside,” Susan guessed.

“Maybe there’s fireworks tonight?” Sally guessed. No other ideas of any sense came, and they eventually fell asleep despite the muggy air.

At school the next day they learned what the neighbourhood mystery was.

“Have you heard about the prowler?” demanded Stephen from Sally’s class.

“Nah, my Dad says it’s only a Peeping Tom!” corrected Richard. None of the girls had heard about anything at all, not even Lilian, whose Dad had been outside with the men. She only lived two doors up from Sally and Susan.

When they got home from school, Susan asked Mum about it. “What’s a prowler, Mum? And what’s a peeping Tom?” Mum didn’t answer but continued busily buttering scones.

“We’ll talk about it when Dad gets home.”

Of course the two girls were waiting in the carport as he pulled in. Susan carried some of the groceries he’d bought, Sally carried his jacket.

“They know something’s up?” He guessed while putting more groceries on the bench.

“Not enough to keep them safe, Willie.”

Ooh, the thrill that ran through Sally hearing that! Dad asked them to sit at the table while he had his cup of tea, and he told them what he knew.

“Mr Bloxham’s told us his two girls had a man in their bedroom two nights ago. And Mr Thompson heard his dog barking three nights ago, and when he went outside to shut him up, there was a man standing on the back porch looking through Rose’s bedroom window. No one knows who he is, but we do know he’s up to no–-“

“Ooh, is he a burglar?” Sally interrupted.

“Well, he could be. But Sergeant Delft says there’ve been no robberies in the neighbourhood. And the man Mr Thompson saw isn’t tall enough to be the man the Police think has been burgling in Lansdowne, and the burglaries up there happen in day time. This man peeping through windows only comes at night.”

“Is he called Tom?”

“Peeping Tom is a name for any man who peeps at things he shouldn’t. And peeping Toms don’t come inside the house. We think it’s too dangerous to have your windows open at night. All the Dads around here have told their kids about closing the windows.” Willie took a sip of his tea, and the girls waited while he bit out a chunk from his scone, chewed it then swallowed it with another gulp. The phone in the kitchen rang.

“Joss, can you answer that?”

Mum answered it, then called back. “Willie, it’s for you.”

He rose and passed the girls a half-scone each as he left. The family rule of ‘No walking around while you’re eating’ would keep them out of earshot. His words couldn’t carry across the lounge into the dining room, so the girls didn’t make out a single distinct word. Except…

“Thanks for calling, Dave. I’ll get the word around. Good night.” He hung up with a clatter. Mum and he went to their room, leaving the girls to whisper and wonder what the call had been about. They soon knew. Mum and Dad reappeared and joined them. They guessed it was serious when Mum took a plate, a scone, began to butter it and then ate it. After they’d had a sip of tea, Dad cleared his throat.

“That was Dave, one of the sergeants at the Police Station. He told me…one of your friends… Rosemary Birkett…had to scream out for her father last night…late… There was a man in her room…lying…lying on top…on top of her.” He hung his head.

“But–but Rosemary’s a good girl. She’s my friend! She’s my best Friend!” Sally’s eyes were ready to flood with tears. Susan put her arm around Sally’s shoulders, gave her a wee hug.

Joss stood up, rushing her chair back so hard it hit the wall behind her.

“I said they didn’t need to know all the details!” She started gathering plates, knives, dishes and cups, and walked in her ‘busy walk’ back to the kitchen. Willie caught sight of the tears welling up in her eyes. She called back.

“I want the girls to stay with their Nanny.”

Dad looked at the girls, and made a decision, getting up briskly and joining her. Whatever he said, they stayed at home.

But their windows–all windows–were closed that night, and checked every hour or two. Willie even went outside twice with his torch when a neighbour’s dog barked. And so it went for another week. At school the girls heard other children’s tales of the mystery man.

Someone had broken into Mrs Voyce’s house at two in the morning, but she’d thrown her iron at his head. The iron made his head bleed, ‘cause the police saw smudges of blood on the iron when they arrived.

Peter heard someone out in their garden one night, early. The dry leaves under the trees were scuffing as someone moved around. His Dad “ran out with a big torch, ready to catch the bastard”.

* * * *

A large group of men met in the local Dairy after it closed, as the prowler was wandering further. They kept the lights low.

“I reckon it’s one of those poofters in number 23.”

“More likely to be one of that gang in Middle Street.”

“What about that old guy–lives alone a block over.”

Wild guesses, why this man, why not that man…

Dave arrived, in uniform, to give them ‘official advice’.

“The Police cannot allow to you form a posse. We cannot allow you to try to catch this man. Keep things legal, lads, and leave it to us.” But he paused at the door before stepping out. “I didn’t say…we can’t prosecute you, did I. Unless someone’s daft enough to carry a firearm. Best be on your way, lads…you might feel like taking the long way home?”

Silence for a few seconds. The men drew breath.

Sahti, the owner of the dairy, spoke up.

“Mr Bloxham, leave your rifle on my back room bench. Don’t trip over the baseball bat out there. Oh, there’s a really thick broom handle somewhere there too. The head falls off. Don’t fall over that.” He found torch batteries ‘near expiry’–he couldn’t sell them. His wife brought a box of plastic whistles they were ‘going to discard’.

Without any formal plan, the men left the dairy, wondering, muttering, in small groups to wander home, the long way around–to ‘cool off’.

* * * *

From opposite South Park, a high-pitched whistle carried for blocks. Every group of men thought they’d go home that way. As it was getting a bit late, they’d better hurry so the wife wouldn’t get worried. Some ran along the street where the park was, two groups cut through the park. They converged on one house, outside which Mrs. Davies stood, waving her arms to them.

“Quick! Quick! They’ve got him! They’ve got the swine!”

Around the back they ran, to find Mr Bloxham holding a baseball bat across the throat of a medium height man, of slender build, while he pushed the bat hard towards the trunk of the forty-year-old oak trunk. Sahti and Willie stood silently, close-by, ready to move.

“Shut! Look who it is!”

“Well, begger me! Young Samuel, the vicar’s lad!”

“Why, Sam? Dad keep you on too short a leash?”

Mr Bloxham eased off on the bat. Samuel sagged to his knees, sobbing. One man grabbed each of his shoulders–not that he was struggling.

They heard a siren, from a few blocks away but coming quickly closer. Most of the men faded away, leaving Mrs Davies on the back porch clutching her rolling pin, her two open-mouthed girls beside her. They knew Samuel from Bible Classes. Mr Bloxham, Willie and Sahti encircled Samuel.

Dave trotted onto the back lawn. Without a word to Mr Bloxham, Sahti or Willie–just a quick nod–he handcuffed Samuel and led him to his patrol car.

“Why, Samuel? Why?”

“All I wanted was a girlfriend. You know, to see what…”

The patrol car door slammed shut on his last words.


* The pseudonym? Well, I originally tried a draft of a real solid crime mystery, then realise I could not accomplish that theme in 1500 words. So I began anew with a domestic, neighbourhood mystery, as you’ve just read. One of my absolute favorite crime suthors is Stuart MacBride, hence Bridie Stewart

 

Quote

Since when is a 3-letter word offensive?

30 Dec

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Three Letter Words.”

An entire post, without using three letter words.
Really? I could understand “An entire post, without using four letter words”.
Somehow, I didn’t know there were offensive three-letter words…
My education in that ‘school of life’ seems to have been somewhat deficient!

I cannot even think of a single offensive, rude, crude or rough three-letter word.. Where do I find these armaments in one’s vocabulary of insults? Is there an Internet site that lists them? Probably. However, this family’s Internet Service Provider screens every website address before letting it download to computers here, so I won’t be able to investigate by that channel. What about an Ebook? From where could I purchase a copy of “Vulgar Three-Letter Words”? If, that is, it exists. Which I doubt.

Whoever is able to tell me a source of such an educational treasure, please leave a comment below to tell me what it is? Also, where I will be able to purchase or download it from? Thanks, y’all!

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Penguin Blog

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Math, teaching, copious metaphors, and drawings that will never ever earn a spot on the fridge

Kiwi Chick

Just a Girl Finding Her Place in the World...

McFly Undone

Greensock Transitions & Rejected Submissions

All Romance Reads

Get Your Swoon On

William Cook - writer

Dark Literary Fiction

Sharon Lee Hughson, Author

Holding Out for a Hero

Kristen Lamb's Blog

We Are Not Alone

Jesse Dwight

Official Website

KENYAN&HERLOVERS

FALL in LOVE with ME

RELATING TO HUMANS

Where Humans and Kurt Relate

B O O K W O R M A N I A C

a fanboy's eerie book blog

Red Penn's Reviews

Reviewing a mixed bag of crime, romance, children's, and old favourites

Penguin Blog

Thoughts and ideas from the world of Penguin

Knowing Neurons

Neuroscience Education

Math with Bad Drawings

Math, teaching, copious metaphors, and drawings that will never ever earn a spot on the fridge

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