Monday 31 October 2022

Happy Hallowe'en

On the day of the dead, when the year too dies,
Must the youngest open the oldest hills
Through the door of the birds, where the breeze breaks.
There fire shall fly from the raven boy,
And the silver eyes that see the wind,
And the light shall have the harp of gold.

By the pleasant lake the Sleepers lie,
On Cadfan’s Way where the kestrels call;
Though grim from the Grey King shadows fall,
Yet singing the golden harp shall guide
To break their sleep and bid them ride.

When light from the lost land shall return,
Six Sleepers shall ride, six Signs shall burn,
And where the midsummer tree grows tall
By Pendragon’s sword the Dark shall fall.

Y maent yr mynyddoedd yn canu,
ac y mae’r arglwyddes yn dod. 
 ~ Susan Cooper, The Dark Is Rising series

I love this poem so much. I don't know exactly why, but from the very first time I read that opening line, I was hooked. Every Hallowe'en, it rises unbidden and I must seek it out and read it again. I'm certain I've shared it here before, but have it again. And if you haven't read the series it's from, go! Go now, and find Over Sea, Under Stone and read it. I know it's meant for children and it's mostly adults who read my book, but go read it now with your child eyes. I hope it stirs something in you like it did me.
It's the third book in the series, The Green Witch, that captivates me the most. The dream-like sequence with Jane under water with the witch. It haunts me. 
I love liminal things, being at the edges. I love to stand on the sand with the sea washing my toes, or dipping them into the stream beneath the trees, or to stand in the depths of a woodland, at the boundary between civilisation and wildness, between reality and possibility.
I've always felt a very liminal person. Today is the day of the dead, the day the veil thins and we can almost caress our dead loved ones. Death, being dead, has always frightened me. One part of my brain accepts that after death comes nothingness, a lack of existence, and that terrifies me more than I can bear. But I have other parts of me too, and I have learnt to let them talk, to let them soothe the fear so I can still breathe, still think. Parts of me that aren't afraid of death, but fascinated by it. Parts of me that wish they could be a Ferryman.
To try and help me deal with my fear of my own mortality, my Dad explained to me that one of the roles of the Hindu Goddess I was named for, my middle name, Kali, is death, is a psychopomp. The word appealed to me: a spirit or other divine being who guides a soul from one life, one state of being, to the next (that I, a white western woman, am named with Celtic and Hindu influences, is something I sometimes feel I need to address for concerns of cultural appropriation. I will leave it, for fear of overexplaining, with that a dear friend of my mother is Hindu).
I'd like to be both a doula and a death doula, someone who spends time with a person entering the world, and leaving it. I think it's why the Witches are my favourite Discworld characters: I immediately understood that was a role of theirs.
Hallowe'en is a day for reflecting on death, and Death, and other worlds. It's a day for considering who we are, and who we want to be. Death in Tarot doesn't necessarily mean the end of life, rather it represents change, the end of a stage. It is paired with the hope of rebirth, in some form.
Covid has shifted the world, and the world is trying to realise itself again. It could go in many directions. Some of the most hopeful have already been closed off, but at my core I'm an optimist.
I've always felt in a liminal state, torn between possibilities. I feel as though I may be starting to peel through them to find the balance point, the place where I'm meant to be.

Monday 24 October 2022

Dream come true!

Really short post because I'm too excited to focus. That short story I said I'd submitted? It got accepted!

I was anticipating rejection. I knew I liked the story, but I didn't know if it was good enough - imposter syndrome dogs my footsteps in most aspects of my life. I would have been happy with a rejection, though; proof I had taken a step out of my comfort zone, that I'd taken a risk towards achieving one of my deepest wishes. That shift in mindset alone was reward enough.

Cloaked Press accepted it. It will be published in December, in a collection called "Winter of Wonder: Fauna 2022". I will of course be sharing a link when I have one.

I have to keep reminding myself it's just a short story: I feel like I've won the lottery.

It feels so good, like the hard work starts here, and the hard work will be worth it.

I can be a writer.

Monday 17 October 2022

Short Story - Mirror Mirror

If I'm going to succeed as a writer, I need to be doing lots of writing! So here's a bit of flash fiction for your enjoyment.


What was that? Out of the corner of my eye…

I’ve just got home from work. It was a hard day. Pete was being a dick again, almost literally. Slammed my keys on the side, shoved the door shut, struggled out of my coat and scarf and strung them up. Then, movement. A glimpse of something.

I live alone, no people, no pets (unless you include Fred, the cactus I’ve managed not to kill yet). Nothing that could move.

It’s an old mirror, hanging in the cramped hallway. Inherited from my grandmother, rest her soul. Must have caught sight of me, or maybe it was my coat swinging on the peg. Whatever. Got my heart going, so I can call it cardio.

Kitchen. I grab a glass from beside the sink and fill it with cold water from the tap. Stand and drink that while I try to plan dinner. Can’t afford to order takeaway and I’ll be ill if I keep skipping meals just because I don’t want to cook.

What food do I even have in?

Wilted lettuce, some cheese. Bread looks a bit mouldy, but the slices at the other end of the loaf should be ok.

Who am I fooling? A sandwich isn’t going to cut it. Freezer food it is. Chicken nuggets and chips, as if I were 5 again. Peas, to add some colour at least, and a bit of that lettuce. That’ll count towards my 5-a-day, right?

I’m not going to eat standing at the sink. Back into the hallway to the lounge, and again a sense of seeing something as I pass the mirror. A sense, not of being watched, exactly, but of being not alone. Ha, I’m so lonely I’m turning my reflection into a friend.

It’s a bit easier to shake off the creepy feeling this time.

Collapse on the sofa, legs up, plate on my chest, and I’ll eat. God, I’m a slob. Maybe if Pete saw me like this he’d leave me alone. But then the other women would just get it worse. Wish HR would do something. They won’t, though.

Grab up the remote and try to find something on one of the services that catches my attention. Disaster cakes, or something.

And again, that nagging feeling of being not alone. I pull myself to sit up a bit straighter, plate in one hand, remote in the other, and look around.


No response, not that I expected one. Settle back, wary. Put the remote down and resume eating. Before long, I’m laughing at some poor person’s unfortunate mistake. Don’t think it makes me a bad person: they went into it knowing the risks. I think it’s ok, right?

A noise! I jerk upright again, spilling my mostly-empty plate from where it rests on my stomach.

“Hello?!” Heart races. A skittering noise from the hallway. I move the plate - fallen peas will have to wait - and pick up the remote again, holding it like a baseball bat, and creep out of the room.

That mirror catches my movement, backlit by the flickering TV. I turn away, not liking the feeling of being watched even if by myself, Pete’s eyes rising unbidden in my mind.


I spin, and face my ridiculous reflection full on, wild-eyed and wielding a tiny TV remote. There’s a small cat at my feet. It looks like the one in my grandmother’s photos.

I look down. No cat.


The cat is still in the mirror.

I back away, not taking my eyes from it.


Insistence in its voice, and it starts purring. I can feel the vibration where it rubs itself against my leg in the reflection. I lower my weapon in disarmed confusion: there is a cat at my feet, rubbing itself against my legs.

There is a cat.

No idea where it came from, but here it is. It doesn’t ask for much. I’ve never seen it leave the flat, but I haven’t had to buy a litter tray or any food for it, and it’s never here when my landlord comes to visit, but after a hard day’s work, there it is, waiting for me. Waiting in the mirror.

Tuesday 11 October 2022

I Miss My Mum

There is a lot going on in my life at the moment. I had to leave care even though I enjoyed it: I was so stressed that my eyebrows fell out. Several times. And one of them looks like a normal eyebrow (but not the bushy eyebrow had before), and the other is slowly returning.

Diagnosis: stress-induced localised alopecia.  Eyebrows, head hair (I lost a third of it last time we moved house and a third of it there), leg hair.

I gave myself a fringe.

I'm waiting for formal diagnosis of autism. I'm on the second waiting list: the first waiting list was 6 months long and getting that interview confirmed I am autistic and gave me a place on the longer waiting list for formal diagnosis. It's something we've considered since I was in my teens, and dismissed, and come back to, and the care job put me in a place where I needed the diagnosis.

Since then, I've realised the trauma of birth and having a child in the house, no matter how much I adore him (which is more than the world), has had a huge impact on me and my ability to cope with the world and society.

Aerial circus is a lifesaver and my current main job.

I haven't written here because I barely know who I am. I am trying to get support and therapy, so I will get there, I'm just lost at the moment. 

I've always been scared of being self employed or trying to make it as a writer, but right at the moment trying to do anything else (except parent and teach circus) has become even more frightening, so you know what, I'm going to try. I submitted a short story a few weeks ago: not submitting it had become more terrifying than trying.

Covid has made the world a liminal place. We're teetering on the edge of societal shifts, and it's exciting and terrifying and interesting and I don't know where it will land - and I feel like this is paralleled in me.

My Mum died when I was little. Have I talked about this before? I background miss her always, but right now that feeling is stronger.

Here I am. Here I am trying. I disagree with Yoda: there is try: try is the step between not doing and doing. If you don't believe in try, you will never escape not doing; you will never do.

I intend to do.