Saturday, 2 April 2011


A small indulgence. Talkback - the online forum for the UK's Writers' News and Writing Magazine - runs a monthly 'One Word Challenge'. They give you one word (funnily enough) as a theme and you can write 200 words of fiction and/or 40 lines of poetry.

Last month's word was the delicious 'Ink'. My fiction entry didn't get short-listed but I have to say I really, really enjoyed writing it. I may have to expand on the idea...

Do let me know what you think. Thank you.


It’s an obscene stretch of vellum that extends to touch the walls of his cell. Thin to the point of transparency the gift of skin lies flaccid beneath his clumsy fingers. Yet as soon as his quill is dipped into ink – a turgid shade squeezed from oak cankers – a new world evolves.

Liquid towers strut across still rivers, defined and desired by the hungry pen. Humble houses open onto bacchanalian gardens; fresh water springing from fertile wells. The canvas rambles in the wake of his caress. He flicks the surface – welts raise as troubled mountains.

Plucking with the nib he labours at molehills, he pokes at craters until – no more. The drying brown powder refuses to emulsify with his pitiful spittle.

With darkness comes familiar blindness. The light has abandoned the skies, no longer seething through the single hole above his head. For this night only the prisoner wraps his art around his naked flesh and sleeps in its caress, soaking in the dreams he has made.

In the morning she will come to release him from the wondrous cloak. And he will wait as long as last time – maybe less, maybe more – for her next bequest.


  1. I've got a massive headache at the moment, Lily, so forgive if I don't properly praise this -- because it should be praised. I adore this. Everything from word choice to imagery to inventive concept and language.

    Love. It.

    I hope this one gets short-listed!

  2. Love the imagery, and the very idea of remaining sane through art, then taking very real physical comfort from it? The dark undertones just emphasize all that is wonderful here. Well done.

  3. Thanks Rebecca, thanks Chris. Really appreciate your comments.

    Sorry you have a headache Becky, hope you're better soon.

  4. Great piece, Lily. Atmospheric, descriptive and dark and only 200 words. Well done and good luck!

  5. Because her poem was better!

    I'm so pleased with that result, because that's the way I would have called it had I been judging the poetry section.

    Well done, Lily! That was a great!

  6. Oh, thank you Kim! Besides, I really loved Dorothy (our Antonia Woodville's) story.

    I'm not sure whether to post the poem up here or save it for my dark verse collection. Hmmnnn...

  7. Saved and savoured. It was the best poem I'd read for a long time. I am, what my old English teacher described as, a Philistine - if it don't rhyme, it ain't poetry.

    For me the power comes from the rhyme. For a witches spell to have power it must rhyme. If there is no rhyme, there is a danger that it may become just prose with poor punctuation.


  8. now you see why my win had me floating ... I found Lily's entry to be outstanding and thought, there goes my chance of winning yet again ...

  9. Wow, what a delicious bubble - wish I could live there. Props to you, Lily. Creative flare. I especially love the first two paragraphs.

  10. Many thanks all. Much appreciated. I think I've found a place for this poor artist...

    I'll get the poem posted up a little later this evening.


Lily Childs is a writer of horror, esoteric, mystery and chilling fiction.

If you see her dancing outside in a thunder storm - don't try to bring her in. She's safe.