Calm the Storm, Embrace the Fire

This was the first piece I wrote that pushed me to move forward. The first version was merely a skeleton, fast passed with barely a description. I showed the piece to my partner and he ripped it to shreds. Explained what didn’t make sense and why, explained what was good and bad about the piece. Really helped me to see, to understand my work and the potential it had. Another two versions later and this is what you get. A piece I’m truly happy with.


The rattling windows and flashes of light breaking the darkened sky was in no way helping to ease his troubled mind.

“She’s almost convinced me, that I don’t actually love her… and now I don’t know what I feel.”

His eyes darted about the room, the lava inside heated rapidly ready to surface at any moment. He could feel the pressure building, knew he was losing control and yet he continued on with attempting to calm the raging storm. Breath, no, that wasn’t going to work.

The molten rock continued to bubble and burst, he snapped forward, clenched his gut and tightened his eyes shut. A wash of light air filled his mind and so he chose to sit, bracing himself with a widespread hand, he untangled his knotted body and pushed back. Took a breath and slid down the wall as he exhaled, his skin scraping against the ridged wall. The cold dusty floor was a welcomed familiarity and brought a grounding effect to his body.

He tucked his knees in close.

The storm erupted within, he clenched his fists, tugged the rusty follicles sprouting from his thickened skull. Pushed his palms deep into his sunken eye sockets, took a breath and tried to still his shaking limps.

He continued to entangle each finger around another weaving a flesh barrier before ripping them apart.

He’d spent too many moments deciphering his own emotions. Carefully and precisely labelling them, containing them in their different coloured boxes. Placing pictures and memories which reflected each emotion in the very same boxes. He only opened them when he was ready to deal with the effects they had on him. Even believed he’d come to understand them, control them, but now it felt as though the boxes had been ripped open and strewn across the vast ocean of his mind.

He never once contemplated what effects another’s emotions could have on his own and he didn’t know how to catalogue them and place the individual pieces back inside. He was falling in a whirlwind of memories on a cold autumn day.

He opened his long-lashed lids and glanced up with his warm desert eyes towards the stoic Craig, who’d been watching him through his episode, unsure of how to aid in alleviating his pain.

Daniels eyes pleaded, his brows furrowed and lifted slightly, his soft thin lips drew close.

Craig looked away, towards a commotion further down the hall in the kitchen, racked his eyes along the wall, up to the ceiling and down again towards Daniel who’s face hadn’t changed in the moments Craig had taken to shuffle his words into the right order before letting them pass firm lips.

“Kate just doesn’t want to be abandoned.” Yes, that was right no one wanted to be abandoned, unfortunately, some had felt this more than other. “It’s easier for her to convince others they dislike her, even hate her. Saves her from being hurt. It’s easier for her to cope with a small amount of pain now rather than a large amount later.”

Daniel’s brow furrow deepened and his nose crinkled, “That’s no way to live.” Is that what Kate really thought, how could anyone think in such a fashion? Surely not. He realised this was a thought far from his own. Did he have to create more boxes and what colour would they be? If they came from someone else should they be the same or different, or maybe a different shade? Yes, they could be brighter or duller than the ones he’d chosen for his own.

He was pulled back from his thought process when Craig agreed, “It’s irrational, but what proof does she have which will convince her it can be any other way?”

Daniels’ stomach rose, his cheeks lightened, drawing his lips up and his eyelids opened wide, his eyes appeared all the more bolder. “I can.” He spoke with conviction, Craig noticed the sparkle in his eyes, the sudden charge towards positive energy and he did not like it one bit.

The image of a potential future filtered through Craig’s mind, and all he could see was pain. His stomach tightened and his chest twanged. For his own sake, he had to make sure Daniel saw reason, otherwise the feelings would continue and the repeat scenarios would plague his mind.

“Are you sure you want to?” Craig watched the cogs turning within Daniel’s mind before he continued, “It’s gonna be a hard slog. Think about it, carefully, before you commit.”

Daniels’ lips dipped, his shoulders turned in and rounded, his head dropped down. Craig finished with, “You can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved.” Before leaving Daniel to his own thoughts.

The words danced around Daniels mind, darting from one side to the other, tickling his imagination. He dared to dream he could be her saviour which brought a slight smile to his lips. The fog grasped at the pleasant memories evaporating all the colour and the rain washed them down the drain. His smile was quick to run away when he realised how unsure he was of Kates’ emotions.

Once he’d pushed aside the storm and let the light of a new dawn filter through his mind he made his way to her room.

Daniel stood within the door frame to Kate’s bedroom and waited for her to peer up and notice his gaze. He took note of the sketches strewn across the walls and wondered if Kate had drawn them all. Some were mere murmurings of lines of which he had to stare at for far too long before the images came to life.

There wasn’t much to the room, the images brought life, but the rest was devoid of an inspiring world. The bland carpet only made tolerable by the bed which took up most of the space. The purple blanket draped across the bed looked comfortable and inviting. The only other piece of furniture in the room, that just fitted between the bed and wall, was a timber shelf filled to the brim with books, and a black metal lamp facing the bed.

The window was ajar, the breeze sweeping the lace curtain into the room. A small pendant refracting dancing light across the ceiling and along the walls.

Kate glanced over and her lounged posture became ridged. “Just answer one question for me. You don’t have to answer now,” Daniel fumbled on his words, “Just… be sure before you do,” And took a breath before asking, “Do you want to be saved?”

Her eyes instantly welled, her lips began to tremble and Daniel’s heart leapt out of his chest when he thought she was going to say no, but to his surprise, she whispered, “Yes.” Stood up from where she’d been reading, let the book slip through her fingers, lept over and embraced him.

Her soft body filled the gaps between his ridged skeleton. Her fingers barely touched their tips as she wrapped herself around his body. He lent in, scared she would rapidly change her mind and back away.

The shock reverberated through Daniel and so did her warmth. Kate was a petite girl with a big heart which had been beaten and battered, and yet there was a glimmer of hope. The glimmer sparkled, wrapped around his soul, tugged at his tendrils. She deserved to be loved and Daniel swore to be her one.

Copyright © Stephanie Johnston 2018 All Rights Reserved

 

 

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Mountain Range

These two characters, well, I thoroughly enjoy writing about them, they are both hot-headed, stubborn and neither back down. They’re likely to get themselves killed or at least seriously injured at times with the way they go about their lives. In the beginning, they pushed all the wrong buttons, but progressively they have come to love one another and now… they have the strangest of relationships. Of which I look forward to exploring a whole lot more.


The front door flew open, a sizable dent now needing repair, thunder echoed through the house as Max strode in, chest expanding rapidly, hands closing, fists forming, white knuckles exposing. Fingers stretched and rapidly closed, nails bedded skin.

The process repeated.

As blood pumped, veins bulged, and mountain ranged formed along the fiery skin. The heat, the anger, the rage radiated and oozed from each pore.

Each pulse was visible.

Chelsea glanced over and took note of the information Max’s body provided and walked over anyway, then asked, “What has your briefs in a bunch?” The question wasn’t going to help calm the beast and she didn’t care. Her tongue wasn’t going to shorten for anyone, she would never house a civil tongue, never let it lose its sharpened edge.

His head snapped to hers and he roared, “Leave me alone, not today. Leave. Me. Alone.” His eyes burned and he let them singe her skin. He placed one foot past her and used his shoulders to push her aside. She did not yield. Instead, she snapped back around so they were now facing head-on. The showdown was on.

“I don’t want to talk about it.” The words rolled off his tongue and whipped her across the face, but still, she continued to ignore the warning and pressed on. Stepped closer, placed a gentle hand on a firm chest which expanded as he took an extended breath and closed his eyes, “Seriously.” Another warning and still she did not move. The breath slowly releasing as he clearly stated, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“What, instead you’re just going to bottle it up, close the lid. You’re already about to explode.” His skin was continuing to redden, mountains were rising as the valleys deepened. “Just let it out slowly, release the valve, before you place another hole in the wall.” She glanced over at the first one, “You’re patching that, and painting the wall so it can’t be seen.” His eyes darted to the damage. Chelsea didn’t deserve to have this released on her or the home she’d provided for them. Guilt formed in his gut, but she wasn’t helping the situation. Her version of helping was to push, to burrow through any barrier and she sure as hell wasn’t going to back down anytime soon.

Help, he knew she only ever intended the best for them all. “Please.” He could hear the strain in her voice, the twang in her chest, the tare which opened her heart a little more every time she sore them in pain. He saw the plea reach her eyes.  He wasn’t going to last much longer.

Copyright © Stephanie Johnston 2018 All Rights Reserved

Him

This is an extract from one of the novels I’m working on at the moment. These characters have been bubbling around my mind for some time now and the more I write this piece the more I learn about them, the more I fall in love with them. They bring forth wonder and all the possibilities of a life we may lead.


I remember the first day I heard it, his voice was horse and dusty, grew deep and continued to become strong, burrowing a way through my mind, the sensation was…, I could feel him, a shadow looming over me, analysing my every decision. Sometimes he would fade away, for a short time, never quite gone more or less taking a step back from shotgun, wading out in the ocean. I could feel his tentacles tickling the far reaches of my thoughts.

A dark room, no a dark space is how I would describe it when I tried to connect with him, to find out what he was, what he wanted. I tried to separate him from me, to feel somewhat normal as though he hadn’t taken over half of my mind.

I even started reading serial killer books, I was scared of turning into an unstable monster. You always hear about killers feeling unstable, saying it wasn’t them, that they listened to the voices, to what they had to say. They were mentally unstable and I was feeling much the same way.

Even though while growing up I’d always told Melena everything I was afraid she’d look at me differently, as though she might abandon me, and so I hid my oddities.

Schizophrenia.

I thought I may have been schizophrenic, especially when he spoke of how I should be, how I should run, chase and hunt. Eventually, it felt natural and I began to follow his words, let his reasoning sink in, became aware his hold was taking me to a place I’d never been, never imagined. The more I listened the more I felt animalistic, a beast rather than human.

Copyright © Stephanie Johnston 2018 All Rights Reserved

Faded Fear

This time it was different, this moment had an alluring, unknown mystery about it. The sensation was soft and yet, still intense. Each touched was graced with care and taken as a promise. Each connection became a murmuring haze of erupting emotions. Each limb indistinguishable from the next and from either form.

The sensation aided in her ability to let go, to relax and feel whole. Bliss pushed out any and all other emotions. Panicked anxiety no longer known.

She felt as though she had been brought to life and he…

He felt the moment the memories and pain washed away. Saw her eyes shift, saw the fire ignite and knew instantly that he no longer needed to fear her fragile nature. She was no longer made of glass. He needn’t fear the thought of breaking her. He could touch her with all his love and bare all he was to her, without concern of pushing too far, of her running in fear.

He moved closer, reached out and made contact, waited mere seconds, to ensure she was ready, waited for her to open, so he could enter, and further still they connected beyond any parallel.

There was no need to question, no need to fear. The blossom of clarity was felt, the calm ocean was embraced, and the fire burst, sparked, erupted and wrapped them in a warmth that would never leave them cold, even on the briskest of winters days.

Copyright © Stephanie Johnston 2018 All Rights Reserved

How Many More

At times when I’m editing my novels and dissatisfied with were it is going, usually when attempting to be more descriptive, I let go, and instead write the words that spill from my mind. This is one of those pieces.


The sky had darkened and even though the sun had long since faded the heat had not.

They lay still, unable to move. The weighted heat held their bodies firm and fried what little brain tissue was left. Even if they had the energy to spare, the pit only allowed them enough space to remain in a fetal position.

It wouldn’t be long now, if they weren’t removed from the shallow pits, they would surely perish.

For the first few days they spoke to one another, held their spirits high, but with the lack of food and water, and what little they did get was soon thrown up and left to fester. The food was to foreign for their bodies to handle, even in their staved state, they couldn’t force themselves to eat. Couldn’t keep enough strength to fight back when an opportune moment arrived, not that they came.

The guards were careful, ruthless, regimented. They had years of training to perfect these pained conditions.

With each rising sun hope dwindled. The sun only lead to more pain and discomfort. It was only a matter of time before the days faded to darkness.

How many insufferable days were left?

The inevitable was clear, they understood it, knew it was coming, but not for one moment had they accepted it. They never gave up, they never stopped fighting.

They were still at war with themselves, their country, the men in the huts, the ones who walked the perimeter, those who stood guard on the towers.

Breath, another breath, but how many more.

Copyright © Stephanie Johnston 2018 All Rights Reserved

Breath Fire

When I re-read words such as these, I don’t believe them to be my own even though they are the most natural. As pen hits paper, fingers dance across the page. I’m swept up in a firestorm of emotions which can only be described as raw intensity. The same emotions are felt when I go to gigs with friends and watch my favourite bands. These are the times when I feel most alive.


Still the mind, expel the hunger,

See true, past the fortress.

Open the mind, breath in the sea,

Exhale Fire.

Turn the land to ash,

Bring forth new growth.

Copyright © Stephanie Johnston 2018 All Rights Reserved