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ArtSpark #442

Draw, paint, collage the thing you are afraid to put into words.

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Artspark #441

Cool. Write for three minutes non-stop on the subject of 'cool'.  Don't try to make sentences, just jot down whatever comes into your head.  Then use what you've written as the basis for a poem or short descriptive passage.  Feel free to share your jottings as well as the finished work.

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ArtSpark #440

A magic spell has transformed you into a garden: everything in that garden reflects some aspect of your personality, your dreams, your history.  Take us on a walk around the garden, in words, pictures or both.

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Unreasonable

Unreasonable

"You're being unreasonable."

She wants to pound the meat of her fists against stone.
Bloody them.
Press them against the blank canvas of her face.
Leave behind a bright butterfly of rage,
And scream that life is not all reason.

In fact -

Much of what she's been taught is irrational and unreasonable.
That "you're being unreasonable" truly means, "you're not cooperating with what I want".
This is her experience.
This is what she learned as a child.

Not truth. Nothing so pure as reason.

Good girl.
She doesn't complain. Doesn't cause trouble.
What does a good girl get?
Nothing but crumbs of peace. Stolen solitude.
What does a good girl become?
An angry woman.


Creative Commons License
Unreasonable by Amy J. Francisconi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Cinderella continued

Even if they had been inclined to be friendly, I would hardly have fitted in. I had so little knowledge of those things which made up their daily lives that they might as well have been speaking another language as they chattered to one another. They might, indeed, have been so many exotic birds twittering and fluttering their bright plumage. What could I possibly have learned of the different qualities of silks and laces, other than how to best mend them when my stepsisters tore their party dresses? I knew nothing of fashion, and they, it seemed, knew nothing but.

I tried my best, truly I did, to look interested. I wanted them to like me, for Char’s sake if not my own; after all, these were the friends of his childhood, so their opinion must matter to him. At least, I assumed that would be the case, though I had very little experience of friendship to guide me. There was Buttons, of course, dear, loyal Buttons who had been there as long as I could remember, but I had never had the chance to play with other children. Father had thought my stepsisters would be sufficient company for me.

In that, he was wrong. They had cared very little for playing with ‘the kitchen brat’, as they called me, and such games as they did choose to play with me were – well, suffice it to say that I had preferred to avoid them, even if it meant cleaning the cellar instead. What playtimes I had were solitary, and I learned to amuse myself. When I had the chance, I would sneak into Father’s library and lose myself in the printed word, storing up stories in my head so I could tell them to myself again in the lonely nights.

Now, in the palace, I once again sought refuge in books. There was an impressive library, the books all leather bindings and gold tooling, with comfortable chairs in which I could almost hide away entirely. I was both amused and appalled to realise that none of the hundreds of books had been touched for a very long time; some had clearly never been opened, and all had a layer of dust which had been years in the making. I brushed the dust off as best I could with the hem of my gown, and settled down to a morning’s reading.

Just as I had managed to drift away into another realm, snuggled comfortably into the soft leather of the chair, and was beginning to forget for a while my unfriendly surroundings, the book was snatched from my hands.

“Lazy little slut!” hissed Queen B. “I might have known I would find you idling somewhere. Stop lolling around and find something useful to do: if we have to have you here you can at least earn your keep. And leave the books alone, they’ll only fill your head with nonsense. You don’t imagine Charming married you for your brains, do you?”

I was speechless. Angry, but speechless. I ran out of the library, down the staircase (nearly tumbling headlong in my haste) and into the palace gardens. I kept running, my face getting redder and streaked with dust and tears, until I reached the edge of the surrounding forest. Not a safe place, or so I had been warned, but I no longer cared. What did it matter if I were eaten by bears or murdered by outlaws? My fairy tale marriage was turning into more of the same nightmare that my childhood had been. So, let whatever might happen, happen.

I took a deep breath and entered the forest, slowing my pace to avoid tripping on the tree roots and fallen branches. The trees gradually grew thicker around me, cutting off much of the light. I didn’t mind. The soft green semi-darkness soothed my eyes. As I walked along, now no more than strolling, I kept thinking I saw movement on the edge of my vision, but whenever I stopped to look there was nothing to be seen. After a while, I gave up on trying to identify the elusive creature, since it apparently meant me no harm, at least.

For ArtSpark #439 - continued

While Char had been around, they had been using my given name, Ella, but as soon as the door closed behind him I became once again Cinderella, Cinders, that contemptuous name with which my stepsisters had mocked me. Indeed, the resemblance of the Queen and Princess to my stepsisters was remarkable: the same sly, taunting tones, the same scornful looks, and above all the same sharp, strong fingernails with which they pinched and prodded me. I felt as helpless as I had done back at my father’s house, cleaning out the ashes from the fire and scrubbing the kitchen floor.

I was, of course, given a maid to attend me, as befitted my station. This was an added, subtle torture. Belinda was well aware of the Queen’s feelings towards me, and she knew that she could get away with almost any discourtesy and petty cruelty. To be laced into a corset by a maid who resents and despises you is a most unpleasant experience: by the time I was dressed for the day I could barely breathe or walk, and my stomach was so squashed in that I could only manage a mouthful or two of food at a meal.
 
After the lacing and the painful hair brushing which followed (I have no idea how she managed to find so many knots in my hair which all required dragging out) I was expected to receive visitors. Every single one of them was an old friend of Charmaine, and the majority had been among the list of potential brides-to-be for Char, so I’m sure you can imagine how friendly they felt towards me. They sipped their tea daintily from their bone-china cups as they murmured how very surprised they were at Char’s choice, adding, “But, of course, first marriages seldom last”.

To be continued

For Artspark #439


Cinderella 2 – The Palace Years

So, I got my Prince Charming. Very nice, very romantic. What they forgot to mention was that I also acquired the in-laws from hell.

If I’d given it any thought, I would have realised that their Royal High-and-Mightinesses wouldn’t be best pleased at dearest Char’s choice of bride. They had a selection of suitable young women lined up for him already, though I’m not quite sure how they expected him to choose one from the two dozen almost-identical titled pampered darlings eager for princesshood. I don’t suppose it would have mattered much which he married.

When he went rushing off after the ball, they were alarmed at the possibility that he might opt for someone other than one of their carefully chosen coterie, but consoled themselves with the thought that I was, at least, clearly wealthy. Look at the dress she was wearing – a designer model for sure, my dear. And did you see that carriage? All gold and diamonds – how ostentatious!

Imagine, then, their dismay and disgust when Char found me in my ragged dress scrubbing the kitchen floor. Not only was I not one of them; I was not even a moneyed commoner. Char, however, was besotted. I think he rather liked the idea of rescuing a poor little working-class girl and dazzling her with the high life.

The wedding took place with more haste than their Majesties would have liked, so much so that there was gossip about the likely arrival of a new little prince or princess in the next few months. This proved not to be the case. And after the wedding there was little opportunity for baby making. We hardly had a chance to talk alone, let alone anything else.

The in-laws maintained a polite façade at the wedding. Char’s twin sister Charmaine made an elegant if distant bridesmaid. Queen B (her given name was Betise, but no-one ever used it) was cordial in that stiff, fixed-smile way in which the upper classes simultaneously conceal and reveal their disdain, and his Majesty led me clumsily round the dance floor for a few awkward minutes before returning to his ale.

Once the guests had gone, it was a different matter. When Char was in the room with us, they limited themselves to sly looks and subtle verbal digs, but the moment he left us alone they started in on me.

To be continued


Artspark #439

And they all lived...ever after.  Write about what happened after the traditional ending of a fairy story or myth, from the point of view of one of the main characters.

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Artspark #438

Using the style of Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse, write a scene in which our hero encounters some aspect of modern life (the internet, the Inland Revenue, Strictly Come Dancing, pedestrian crossings...)

Artspark #437

Renewal.  At the beginning of a new year, create a piece of writing or visual art on the theme of renewal, rebirth, new beginnings, the phoenix rising from the ashes...
ArtSpark is about providing an idea, prompt, or "spark" to inspire creative writing and all types of art, which we hope you will want to share with the community.

Ideas are drawn from life, literature, and from the works of various contemporary artists.

A running list of past sparks can be found here.

*** Feel free to post responses to ANY spark to the community at any time. ***

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