creative writing

The Midnight Ballet

“Where were you last night?” she asked Malcolm, picking him up by the stomach and holding him against the familiar soft fur of her dressing gown. As she stroked his cheeks, his ears and expertly under his chin, he reflected on her question, obediently purring.

Of course, it all started with the ginger tab, recently moved in two streets over. Malcolm had been picking up that strange, foreign scent all of yesterday on his daily prowl over his domain, Baker Street to Whiteshilling Way. He decided to go out that night. He only occasionally did this, to keep the other neighbourhood cats on their feet. Usually he liked spending time with his human at night time: It was night time when they had taken his brother away from the pack. They had been closest, playmates. But when he woke up, his brother was gone. When she was asleep, he’d keep an open eye on the house: setting up patrols. For good measure he’d run laps to keep himself awake, especially before settling down for a few minutes on the bed. He liked to check up on the human. To make sure she was still warm and breathing. But last night, he had ventured out.

The cat flap passed over his head and he gracefully leapt up the garden wall. Malcolm barely registered what he was doing: He had lived here for almost as long as he could remember, after he lost his brother. Instead, he was preoccupied contemplating his furry little problem. All the cats in the neighbourhood knew how things were. Every cat each had their own quarter. Admittedly some larger than others, but how else would you know who ran things around here? It’s every cat for himself nowadays. His own quarter was not the largest, but considerable enough to be avoided by his neighbours. Over time, he had worked hard expand around his plot, reducing that of the cats around him. Reputation was important. It kept things ticking over soundly. Keeping other cats away from your human in the street. They knew Malcolm wasn’t to be messed with. So tonight, he’d have to show the new cat in town the way things worked around here. 

There he saw it. Over on the fence of three doors down, an orange flash of bushy tail. On his territory. Something had gone into the nice old lady’s lawn. She always left out her left overs for him every other day without fail. Usually no one would dare touch his food, so it was alright until early morning – before the birds started snooping around. Usually he’d kill a particularly brave one for effect but there’s only so many times you can do that before it gets boring. Easy prey. Occasionally, swatting the odd unsuspecting victim and sinking your fangs in as they squirm has its perks. It certainly left his mark in the neighbourhood. Still, as he slinked across the little maze of fence tops, he saw the ginger newbie go in for the kill. On his left-overs bowl.

He pounced, and the ballet began. Soundlessly, the air barely fluttering against his ears, he flew down from the fence. Landed on his front two paws, he pulled his hindlegs through and started to sprint towards the ginger. His back to him, unknowing of the danger gathering pace behind him as he tucked into the gravy covered chicken. Only the ginger tab’s ears quivered, the ground betraying the slightest vibration. The light pounding of feet. The tab barely registered this information before something shot into his back. Pinning him to the ground. A stomach-wrenching war cry filling his ears.

Right off, Malcolm sensed something jarring. His readiness to cat fight, claws out-stretched in the cool night air, paused. He saw the tab’s face. A jolt of familiarity sparked in Malcolm. What’s more, the tab’s wide headlamp eyes spoke of something more than fear: Recognition. The two felines were poised like statues for what could have been an age, Malcolm pinning the helpless ginger tab beside the bowl of leftovers, the other paw splayed open above his head. The smell pausing the whole scene. Something faintly resonated from somewhere deep. Something old and important lay within this cat’s scent. Never had Malcolm felt anything as deep and overarching as this before, as if a thread was gently pulling him towards this cat.

            “Brother?” The ginger cat said, relaxing under his grip slightly. Malcolm was speechless, his mouth lolling open. He too, slackened his hold. “Is it you, brother? It is, isn’t it?” The tab rolled back over on his paws, coming to Malcolm’s eye level.

            “You… can’t be,” Malcolm was aghast. After all these years. 

creative writing

Writing Prompts

Sit down in front of your notebook. Close your eyes for a few seconds and take yourself away. Picture your happiest memory; your highest point and warmest feeling. What was around you? How did you come to be there? Were you with anyone? Who was around? Why were you happy? How did it feel? Get it down. Whether you were on the beach, your arms outstretched embracing the wind as it blows through your hair, sprinting down the street in a rainstorm with the love of your life, or opening an envelope, your family looking at you with bated breath. Capture your feelings and how they came to be, bottle them into the page.

On the beach, your arms outstretched embracing the wind as it blows through your hair

Now write about the last time time you cried. Did you cry in front of anyone or were you alone? Where were you? What made you crack? Tell your story. Let it flood out from your memory, down your arm, your hand, through the pen and splash out onto the page. Know that your notebook is your closest friend. It will keep your secrets. Hide it under your mattress if you will, learn to break the seal on what you’re afraid to write. Introduce yourself to your notebook by writting down 10 things nobody knows about you; then 10 secrets you’ve promised to keep; and the top 10 lies you’ve told. This is your initiation. Learn to detach yourself from your bonds of secrecies when you write. Your writing becomes an infallible piece of art, detached from your own world of promises.

You’re warmed up. Now lie. Jot down two big fat lies and a truth. Note down little details. For example, I had:

  1. Once I leaned back on my chair and into my math’s teacher’s crotch. Twice. Without realising: In year nine; my friends were laughing and I didn’t know why; after the first time they told me and I slid down my chair embarassed then stretched back again, hence the second time.
  2. On my first shift working at a theatre I almost spilled wine on Arlene Philips: It was a private event for choreographers and contacts seeing the annual performance of a dance show; she was the first person I had ever served; tripped on something behind the bar but I just saved it; I don’t think she noticed.
  3. My mother once left me trapped in the car for two hours: after doing the shop; I was four-years-old; I banged on the door; it wasn’t locked but I didn’t have the strength to use the door handle.

Tell them to someone. Get them to deduce which one is true and which is a lie. Pretend you’re on Would I Lie To You.

Believable, bizarre, fun and unique

Spoiler: No.1 was my truth (And I’m still mortfied!). As an appalling liar, I like to use white lies. On my first shift I did almost spill wine but it wasn’t on Arlene Philips (although she was around!), and I was once trapped in a car because I wasn’t strong enough to open it but my mother was outside laughing. My point is, if you can’t think of where to begin with writing, use what you know. But then distort it. Make it believable, bizarre, fun and unique.