Monthly comp – February 2021

About Forums Den of Writers Monthly Competition Monthly comp – February 2021

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  • #9527

    Can’t believe it’s February already. To quote Don McLean, February made me shiver. Cold, love, anger, heat, fear, excitement, illness, happiness – 400 words maximum on absolutely anything that caused a shiver one February.


    “Then gently scan your brother man” (Robbie Burns)

    ‘Hipbones,’ she said. ‘They’ll disappear. Never to be seen again.’
    That was early on. After forcing her to admit it. Persuading her it’d change nothing between us. When I’d arranged my physio appointments to coincide with her off-duty; to give us some pressure-free hours at home. When the missionary position seemed more exotic for its recent impossibility; belief in the healed strength of a humerus being fragile. As was my confidence she’d come to see it my way. Start rejoicing.

    Her mid-January prophecy came true within the week. Another two and even lying down, belly yeast-risen. Much more so than the only other pregnant woman I’d (not) slept with. When I commented: ‘Everybody’s different.’ Defensive, despite it being just a passing remark.

    Week later, one of my gloomy days – I’d not glorify it with a PTSD tag – coinciding with one of her periods of resentment, it was the defensiveness I recalled. ‘How many weeks are you?’
    ‘I don’t know. I said –’
    ‘Because of the missed pills. Yeah. And you’ve a scan in a fortnight, which they do at –’
    ‘Eleven weeks –’
    ‘Eleven to fourteen weeks. Which would take it back to November. The week in November we slept apart.’
    She spun round to face me at a speed which sent pink raspberry tea arcing from the mug she held over the white sleeve of the sweatshirt she was wearing. One of mine.
    I’d seen this brand of cold contemptuous challenge before. Then, the occasion professional; less so the half-hid guilt. Which is how I recognised it now.
    ‘You’re saying this is not your child?’
    ‘Not saying. Wondering –’ Then ducked as mug became missile; its shattering a signal we’d entered unknown territory. ‘You said yourself you shared a bed –’
    ‘And that it was innocent –’
    ‘– And that you were naked –’
    ‘And that it was innocent. You believed me then –’
    ‘And do now. I’m sorry love.’

    I’m sorry love.
    I lost count of how many more times I said that.
    Meaning it.
    Even when it wasn’t my behaviour I apologised for. Even when I knew she’d sinned. Knew. Because the man I held more closely to my heart than I did her was avoiding me.
    And I’d intercepted – interfuckingterpretated – a glance of guilt and complicity between him and her. Since when the freezing of my brain has made sluggish my every attempt to apportion blame.

    [400 words plus title]

    • This reply was modified 11 months, 3 weeks ago by Sandra. Reason: formatting

    RETRIBUTION 373 words (not including explanation)

    ‘Sire, if I may plead caution…’ James’s face was hidden from me as he stared out of the window across the city, and I began to wonder if, indeed, he had heard my quietly spoken words. But then he turned, and I saw in his eyes the haunted look I knew so well and had come to dread.
    ‘You may plead, Madam, for undoubtedly it serves me ill to appear callous in the eyes of my beloved wife, but do not seek to divert me from this course of action. I have refused you nothing you have asked of me, yet I will refuse you this.’
    ‘You misjudge me, Sire. I do not seek such diversion.’ Cold air wrapped itself around me and I shivered. Edinburgh Castle fell short of even the most basic comfort and, in a rare moment of weakness, I found myself longing for the stifling confines of the English Court. I laced cold fingers through my husband’s and found warmth.
    I pressed his hand to my cheek. ‘Who, if not I, could be more mindful of both the sorrow that lies heavy on your heart and your need for justice? But Duke Murdoch commands powerful allies and there are those who believe that in securing your release from King Henry he has absolved himself from his father’s sin. Promise me, my lord, to stay your hand until such times as you are certain of your own allies.’
    I spoke of sorrow and justice as if they were shallow things, but for a man of such righteousness as James, they were to him as the beating of his heart.
    ‘You humble me, Madam. My desire for retribution agin those responsible for the murder of my brother, blinds me to common sense. Your words of caution are well-received. Who is to say that the evil which imprisoned the true heir of Scotland and starved his body and soul will not manifest itself once more? Perchance with my own life as forfeit this time? I have waited these many years; I can wait a little longer. But be assured, when the time for justice is favourable, the line of the Albany-Stewarts will receive the same mercy as was shown to my brother.’

    In 1402, David, 1st Duke of Rothesay and heir to the throne of Scotland, was imprisoned in Falkland Palace and starved to death by his uncle, Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany. David’s father, King Robert III, in ill-heath and fearing for the life of his youngest son, James, sent the boy to France, but he was captured enroute and held to ransom by Henry IV. It would be eighteen years before the boy (now king) was returned to Scotland, during which time the Albany-Stewarts governed in his stead. In 1424, and despite his father, Robert Stewart having died four years previously, Duke Murdoch Stewart, his sons, Walter and Alexander, and his father-in-law, Duncan, Earl of Lennox were tried for treason and publicly beheaded in Stirling.


    Just Another Night at the Theatre.

    Suspenders. Check.
    Stockings. Check.
    Corset and lacy panties. Check.
    Pearl necklace. Make up to die for. Check.
    Lab coat. Check.
    Rubber gloves. Check.
    Rice, torch, water pistol, newspaper, confetti, party hat, rubber gloves. Check.
    Sense of humour. Check.
    Willingness to participate. Check.

    “So come up to the lab and see what’s on the slab. I see you shiver with antici…pation.”

    (Bit of fun, as not really a February thing – and I focused on the shiver! 😉 )

    • This reply was modified 11 months ago by Squidge.

    The Softness Of Untouched Snow

    ‘I say, Lilian, there’s a fair covering out there. Fancy a walk – a slide?’
    ‘Silly old beggar.’ I shook my head and carried on knitting. ‘Out there, in that? Slipping and shivering – at our age?’
    ‘Shivering means you’re alive. Come on, old lass, it’s been a long time indoors. Lets make some footprints afore anyone else does. Make our mark in the world …’
    Off he went to grab our coats, presuming my answer. Never changes, daft bugger. Any more than a dusting and he’s out; snowball fights with passing kids. Snow-fairies on the lawn, I ask you. I swear he loves snow more than sunshine.
    Me, I liked it less and less as years passed. As good a husband as Bert was, snow reminded me of what was missing in our marriage of late; of years, truth be told, only it’s not the done thing to talk about intimate matters.
    Snow’s how we met, you see; him chucking snowballs and catching me by mistake. Laughing, I threw one back, then he threw another and …
    ‘Eee, look at your coat,’ he’d said when we stopped, snow-caked. ‘Here, let me help you dust it off.’
    I’d slipped as I made to him, but he caught me; pulled me close. We kissed, surrounded by a galaxy of glittering snow, uncaring of who else saw.

    I had to admit, as we set out, this cold, February morning, that I’d forgotten about the softness of untouched snow; how crunchy the crust after a night of frost. The parkland we reached, it twinkled like Narnia and memories poured back as I gawped about me at the lacy branches, white-quilted benches and glitter everywhere, from ground to sky.
    A snowball abruptly brought me out of my dreaming and, as I stooped to make my own, I slipped.
    The old bugger laughed as he pulled me up.
    We were face-to-face and, suddenly, we were seventeen again.
    ‘Hey, d’you remember?’
    Bert leant in. I’d forgotten how soft his lips were; what a thrill it caused when his tongue played with mine.
    ‘You made me shiver!’ I said with a gasp.
    ‘Told you it’d make you feel alive.’ He whispered in my ear; ‘What do you say we get back into the warm, and see if I can make you shiver again.’

    384 words


    4 fab entries.

    Sandra: a mind tortured by contemplation of an almost-certain affair and a child on the way that may not be his own. But which betrayal warrants the biggest shiver? What a deliciously twisted tale.

    Seagreen: what a terrible tale – but writing as sharp as February frost. It isn’t the weather that makes the reader shiver, but an icy heart.

    Squidge: and a bit of fun it certainly is! Is it something you’ve actually done?

    Janette: a different shiver. Sometimes things can come back to life in the cold of February. Loved this story. Snow and tenderness.

    Once again I can’t choose, so I go for the one that gave me a shiver for the longest (even though it may actually be because I’ve just had my Covid jab). Well done Janette.


    Yay indeed – well done Janette! And well done for choosing from such a disparate selection, Athers.


    Well done Janette!

    – yup. Rocky Horror Show at The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton whilst at uni. And then at The Haymarket Theatre, Leicester, when we were in a minority dressed up, and me and Mr Squidge got into the local paper cos the reporter wanted to know what made people dress up that way to watch a show. (We were dressed as aliens that time!)


    Congratulations, @janette . Two shivers for the price of one. A very enjoyable story.


    Well done,J!
    And well done to you too, Ath for setting the comp ☺️

    John S Alty

    Well done, Janette!

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