Short Story, 'Thoughts of a Little Girl', Inspired by a Photo
Sometimes we suffer from writer's block. Sometimes the ideas are so elusive that we need a little prompt, a little prod to get us going. It could be in the form of a picture, a phrase, taking the first letters of a word or an idiom, or merely using an object. Some set themselves parameters by using a place, an object and a style.... It all depends how you work best.
I issued the challenge of a photo to inspire other writers to push their boundaries a little, to go beyond their comfort zone, to try using different ideas, to use words to their best effect. I had an amazing response, some upbeat, some sad, all of them remarkable and I’m grateful to everyone who contributed.
I was surprised that the majority of the responses were sad, spooky, dark. The standard of writing is high and the variety of interpretation astounding. However, I suppose my surprise at there being so few upbeat pieces was because I know the circumstances behind the image below.
A Photo Prompt
We were walking on the beach, as we often did, in Berrow, just outside Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset. My daughter stopped at the water’s edge and stood looking across the sea at the sunset. Her silhouette looked so dramatic.
As luck would have it, I had my camera with me, so I took a photo. I was so pleased with the photo that I had the urge to paint from it. It turned out a lot better than I expected! Just in case the painting was lost or damaged I decided to take a photo of it. So photo became painting became photo!
My daughter loved living there and still regards the area as home in many ways. That feeling of being ‘at home’, that bond with a special place, never dies.
It seems fitting for me to come up with my personal response to my own challenge.
Thoughts of a Little Girl
Peace or Turmoil
It’s so peaceful here. The sun lays a gentle path on my piece of sea, bathing it before bedtime.
This sun has etched its rays on my bedroom window a hundred times as it falls to hide behind the horizon, splashing its spectrum across the sky, palest yellow, feint blue, down through deep sulphurs to burnt reds, never the same but always mesmerising, beautiful.
This sea, that can hurl itself at the town’s defences, pound onto the beach, whip wild horses to gallop over its crests, toss boats as if they were driftwood, is mine; this piece of sea that leaves paintings in the sand, abstract pools of footsteps leading to the mud, foam shooshing back from the shallow lapping of sand.
These waters are treacherous nonetheless; they arrive unnoticed, silently stealing in, gate-crashing before guests are ready to leave, trapping vehicles on the sand, making islands where people are stranded, sometimes doomed. They fling spray across the prom, where children shriek and run to dodge the sting of its tail.
Marsh and Beach
Living by the Sea
We have to respect the sea, I know. It can support and it can destroy but I love it in all its forms. It is part of my home; I hear it, see it, smell it, every day. I walk across the dunes, run across the marsh bridge, fight the wind along the beach. The gusts snatch my breath before the air reaches my lungs.
I design sand-castles. I find driftwood, seaweed, shells. Driftwood has shapes - horses, snakes, portholes, toads, tables and arches. Shells and pebbles, like jewels when wet, dry to keep their true quality a secret. The dunes behind the beach have tough shrubs, spiky branches, bright berries for the buntings and blackbirds to devour.
Then I stop to look across this water. I stop to gaze under the soft light of sunset. That’s when I smile and sigh my content.
And the sky? you ask. Well, its vast, wide, cloud-skudding vault is a floating cloak, protecting me, enfolding me, tucking me in under the horizons.
What's out There?
As I stand here, all seems possible. That ray of light stretches out to the horizon. Where does it end? What would I see there? What could I do?
The sea draws me, lulls me, has been part of my life since I was born. Maybe I’m a bit wild at heart. Maybe I have some wanderlust to be satisfied. Maybe I just need to be next to this moving, enigmatic mass of nature.
I won’t go yet. I’m away from the noisy, dirty city and I’m comfortable here. I belong. I have family and friends. I have the fields, I have the sea, I have the sky. One day, when I’m bigger, I’ll go to see what’s out there. I’ll find out what’s over that horizon and maybe I’ll like it.
Each time we go away, usually not far, I think about going further. Each time we come home, I’m happy to see ‘Home Hill’; I know I’m not far from tumbling into my own bed.
That’s one thing I do know. I’ll always come home. I’ll come home to my stretch of coast, to my sea, to my sky, to my home hill. The sea might call me away, might tempt me to follow that wide stretch of sunlight to the horizon but that same sea will call me back to its water’s edge, to see its sunsets, to feel its breezes, to give me that comforting welcome of a favourite private place.
Home is Where the Heart Is
Where do you call home?
© 2014 Ann Carr