What makes you laugh?

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Laughter. The simple pleasure of a belly laugh! What a physical experience it can be.

What brings on that kind of laughter for you, dear reader? Does it happen often?

It takes a lot for me to laugh out loud. I’m more of a quiet smiler. Sometimes the smile is so quiet, you could think I was unaffected. I often ‘feel’ the smile in my head and know that it isn’t showing on the outside.

Watching movies often brings out a noisy laugh. Usually over slapstick comedy. I consider slapstick as physical comedy; somebody has fallen, for example. I laugh and laugh like a sicko! There is nothing very subtle about my sense of humour 😀 I’ll find myself laughing so hard that I can’t catch my breath. Sometimes, it is scary because it seems I’ll never get it back. I think this is because I struggle to let myself be loud and my natural inclination is to stuff it back in.

Graham Norton makes me laugh. I love his show. I chuckle my way through it, up to and including the red chair! Graham is very clever at bringing his guests right along, sharing with us their unusual stories and cracking us up.

I laugh with my husband, unexpectedly. Not because I don’t expect to laugh with him, but perhaps because a moment ago life was staid. Nothing particularly outstanding was happening. And then, something is said – we’re on the same wavelength and something clicks – then we’re both bent over in raptures of laughter. Take a peek at each other and again we’re falling around. If you’re lucky enough to have that kind of bond with somebody, then you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

Naturally, I’m a very serious person. I laugh with people I can relax with. That includes my children and my sisters. There are only a few friends that I’ll find myself laughing with.

I didn’t grow up with a wider network of family. It was always Mum and Dad and my siblings. All aunties and cousins lived in another country. And so, I didn’t develop strong bonds there.

My husband and I just spent a day with a cousin and his wife. We’ve been developing friendship over the last few years, mainly via Facebook; and we visited with them in 2013. But we laughed and laughed this weekend. It was very natural and friendly; non-judgmental laughing at each other and ourselves. A lightening of spirit experience.

The endorphins released from laughing are real. You can feel the release and relaxation after a good bout of laughter. It must be why there are laughter therapy classes, why comedians are so popular and why everyone loves the Simpsons! 😀

If you’ve read this, hopefully you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about and you enjoy loud and proud laughter regularly. If you don’t get enough laughs – search it out! What makes you laugh?

I’m including a link here to something that still makes me laugh. I hope you’ll get a good chuckle out of it too.

Alone

Synopsis

A lone voice in the dark keeps hope alive

Submitted to Round 1 of the 250-word Microfiction Challenge, November 2022


The formerly busy square of a bustling city, streets now desolate, deserted, atmosphere dark and brooding.

The only sounds, the eerie moan of a lonely wind, and screams of twisting buildings, corkscrewing into oblivion.

No human walked these streets, only hungry creatures roamed free from interference. Rodents, pets gone feral, deer, wolves. And predators.

A battered German Shepherd named Harvey, who’d once been loved by a Small Child, came daily to this place of echoes, ghosts. Aching for his Gracie.

His matted, patchy fur, grey lined muzzle, tattered ears and flyblown eyes disguised the beauty of this once fine animal. His heart lifted and eyes shone when he heard her voice calling him, gathering memories, hastening hot tears. He hurt, yet he came as a Willing Supplicant, in hope that he could feel her love, her warmth, her touch.

‘Help a hungry child, every dollar counts. Donate today.’

The disembodied voice played around the square. Muted as it bounced off green covered buildings. Sharp as it hit open air and clear-to-the sky glass towers. The voice was of a girl child, bright, innocent and hopeful.

Ears pricked and tail wagging, the beast smiled with happiness. His vision impaired by tears and overlong fur, he gambolled like a puppy with joy. She was here.

Except that, she was not. Once a day, the girl’s voice broadcast from the bones of a screen that showed children squatting in dirt, huddled and unhappy.

Hope sustained his canine soul.

1916 Rising a reimagination

SYNOPSIS

A man of character must stand for love of country, or bend for the love of his wife.

(SUBMITTED TO RND 1 OF #NYCMIDNIGHT #RHYMINGSTORYCHALLENGE2022 – OCTOBER 2022)


In Dublin fair at Easter time, the year nineteen sixteen

A patriot stood among his friends, composed almost serene.

He stood and pondered empty streets

And friends broken, or dead.

Breathed in the reek of blood and gore

Quite overcome with dread.

 

Michael was that patriot, brother to these men

Who littered now the floor around, with lifeblood, all his friends.

Who lay there broken, crippled, weak

Crying for their mothers.

The ghost in the machine was he

A traitor to his brothers.

 

Reflecting on his subterfuge, the cause he had betrayed

His wife, dear heart, the pawn with which he’d paid.

Michael’s honour withered, shattered

He’d crumbled when it really mattered.

Protect the brothers with whom you fight

Protect your wife, love of your life.

 

We shattered peace for Eire, he thought

and waved the tricolor.

To loosen boots upon our neck

With heart and soul we fought.

But I did take the coward’s route

And handed friends one final boot.

 

We all had chosen with our hearts to take this desperate stand

Despite explicit orders of the leader of our band.

For centuries we had dreamed of Ireland, free of outside rule

It weren’t enough to live in peace, while treated still as fools.

Home Rule at last bestowed

though Free State still on hold.

 

I’ll be grand, he’d told his wife, smile wide upon his face

Behind the cheer however was a deadly lack of grace.

For freedom sought, for safety bought

These brave or stupid few.

Built barricades, were unafraid

Until the Brits broke through.

 

Watford boys first at the fight, strategically unprepared

For sniper ambush from above

Death came then undeclared.

They clambered over bodies, crawled into rebel ranks

No way they could recover

From certain death they shrank.

 

Send grenades to flush them out, called officers of rank

There’ll be no reinforcements lads

Short shrift, then on to France.

With bloodied hands and hearts and mind

They measured out revenge

And stood their ground; entrenched.


Anger grew, pride delayed

For rebels behind barricades

Too close to fragile innocents

Too late to get away.

British power must be invoked

Till rebel dreams go up in smoke

 

For Ireland.

 

For King and Crown.

 

You’re Michael Ryan? The King’s man said

He dropped his head with shame.

Take them out, one bullet each, direct into the head.

Oh please God, no, Michael cried, the fight had been in vain.

You made your bed, the soldier said

You brought this heinous game.

 

The longed for glorious rising stalled

Too little thanks for those we called.

But triggered at last a desperate howl

For independence and self-rule.

That ended in partition and

One hundred years of deep division.

 

Michael was released from Kilmainham Gaol

Two weeks after that night.

As his reward for dealing fraud

For giving up the fight.

One last time he looked behind

At dark and brooding walls.

 

And raised a prayer to sons of Eire

Was proud to stand beside ye.


Challenge parameters were: Max 600 words. Genre: Historical Fiction. Theme: Counterfeit. Emotion: Proud.

Personal note: This was quite the challenge for me – I unintentionally write ‘poetry’ in flash fiction pieces. But to write a story in rhyme was a whole different ballgame. It feels a little clumsy to me, but I hope it provides context and emotion of an important historic moment in the history of Ireland.

Extinction Event

When a species is too stupid to save itself, what can you do?


One hundred and fifty years ago I stood here on Mt Fuji and gazed out over a lush, green valley, breathed deeply of pristine air and delighted in the melodies of bird song, the playfulness of forest animals and the ingenuity of man.

Today, I have returned to confirm the emergency; our worst fears come true. This world and its humanity have reached total societal collapse.

The dire wolf beside me whimpers with despair and I push a hand through his fur as his gigantic body brushes against my fragile one.

My large head and slight limbs don’t suit the gravitational pull of this planet. My pale skin burns easily and the sun hurts my large, dark pupiled eyes.

‘Hold, Diego,’ I say.

Diego sits, his great shoulders slump and tears roll down his snout.

‘I know, my friend,’ I say. ‘It is a sacrilege, but we knew it was coming. We were lucky to save *you* from extinction.

As a puppy, Diego became the last of his true kind. We have had success with cloning and so he has companions. His species was ‘saved’ but they are unable to reproduce.

My kind are the great collectors of the universe. This world is off the beaten path for us but we love its complexities and cultures, despite the flaws of the people. Our interactions are few and often end in pain, for us. Death for them.

It is hard for us to see a dying world and so we tried to warn humankind. We left signs, like the occasional ‘natural’ disaster or deadly virus release, in an attempt to bring their attention and concern back to basic caregiving, and away from selfish expansion.

It was easy for us to insert code into scientific work; to push science in the right direction.

Our concern was twofold.

The peoples of this planet would destroy all other living creatures, including plant and fauna, before erasing themselves. Or they would attract the attention of less friendly extra-terrestrials who would see the rapaciousness as a clear and present danger. A pest to be eradicated or at least encouraged to self-destruct.

I can no longer stand here, as I struggle to breathe. With a mourning soul, I move toward my ship.

Diego growls, always my faithful bodyguard and I look up to see people gathered around us. They carry small belongings, hold the hands of children and stare at us in awe – and with hope.

A voice in my ear says, ‘They have gathered at all the sacred mountains. We are their last hope.’

I look again at the dense smog covering the land, the desiccated trees and the corpses.

And I answer.

‘Tell all ships. Bring the people on board.’ [455 words]


Written for Furious Fiction September 2022 – non-winner (nor shortlisted, longlisted …)

Story prompts: 500 Words.1st line must contain FIFTY.  Must contain a four-legged animal. Include the words: Emergency, brush and board (or derivatives thereof).

Text describing Furious Fiction the ultimate flash fiction challenge

Furious Fiction, flash fiction challenge

Simply 6 Minutes – birthing nightmare

A Halloween poster showing horror masked surgeons looking down at a patient, the lights behind their heads creating a skull shaped image

My worst nightmare come true.

Months spent in a cosy cocoon, oblivious to what was coming.

As awareness grew, it was all about how comfy I was here, buoyant in my liquid bath.

Soothing tones of mother and father, crooning at the edge of my hearing.

Tender talk, wishes and promises of a beautiful life.

Hopes and dreams and plans.

I became cramped in the shrinking space, and longed for escape, for room to stretch and turn.

The stories became scary, daunting, threatening.

Mother’s voice.

Oh, I hope it doesn’t take too long.

Mary said her birth took three days, and she was in pain for two days before she begged for an  epidural.

Sarah’s baby came out blue and was in an incubator for weeks.

I’m afraid. What if the baby is hurt? What if I can’t bear it? What if ….

Oh mother, I thought. Please stop talking.

Is my entrance to your world to be such a terrifying event?

Can I not look forward to your whispered sweet things?

The moment arrived.

The pressure, the fight, my need to remain while mother’s body forced eviction

Squeezed through a tightening tunnel, expelled toward the light.

 

I don’t want to leave this place!

I felt chilled. I felt fear. And was welcomed to the world by noise, screams and horrifying faces staring down at me. Cold gloved hands reached for me.

 

Mother! I don’t want to.

Will there be joy after this heinous experience? [245 words, 6 minutes]


Thanks to Christine for this weekly challenge.

Simply 6 Minutes Challenge Note

  • Set up a timer or sit near a clock so you can keep track of the six minutes you will be writing.
  • You can either use one of the prompts (photo or written) or you can free-write.
  • Get ready and write for 6 minutes, that is it! Can you write a complete story? Can you think of a new Sonnet? Can you write 400 words? 400? 500? There are no restrictions on what kind of writing you do, but you should try to be actively writing for six minutes.
  • After you are done writing, include your word count and then post back to this page #Simply6Minutes or include your link in the comments section. Pingbacks are enabled.

Simply 6 Minutes – Leave me Alone

Head and shoulders of baby, lying on white blanket, holding a teddy. The baby is looking quizzically at the camera.

What are you looking at?

I’m feeling vulnerable here, and you old women are always staring at me.

Hey, leave the hair alone! I’m not a plaything.

And why does your food smell better than mine?

All I get is that sweet stuff out of mummy and tasteless, odourless wet stuff she puts into my mouth.

Nothing that smells as good as what you lot are eating.

And when will someone clean out my pants?

I tell you, the service around here lacks a certain je ne sais quoi!

If you leave the poop against my tender butt for too long I get one of those nasty, painful rashes, and I’m always getting them, which means you are the worst mother!

Neglect is what it is. Bad food, ignore the full nappy, and too many over perfumed, noisy old gasbags staring at me all the darn long day.

Woah, this is exhausting. Me and Pepi need to sleep. It’s a hard life, lying around and dealing with you lot.

Please, leave me alone. We need peace and quiet.

After you clean out the nappy, and you give me a mouthful of that sweet liquid, and I guess some of that sludge green stuff will have to do.

Then I’m gonna sleep and dream of quiet, fluffy clouds, where me and Pepi can gambol like puppies, smelling sweet, and eating good grub. [231 words, 6 minutes]


Thanks to Christine for this weekly challenge.

Simply 6 Minutes Challenge Note

  • Set up a timer or sit near a clock so you can keep track of the six minutes you will be writing.
  • You can either use one of the prompts (photo or written) or you can free-write.
  • Get ready and write for 6 minutes, that is it! Can you write a complete story? Can you think of a new Sonnet? Can you write 400 words? 400? 500? There are no restrictions on what kind of writing you do, but you should try to be actively writing for six minutes.
  • After you are done writing, include your word count and then post back to this page #Simply6Minutes or include your link in the comments section. Pingbacks are enabled.

Pirate Tuesday

Vector illustration cartoon of kids pirates on the ship at the sea

Illustration cartoon of kids pirates on the ship at the sea

It was pirate Tuesday at the local preschool and as I rushed to catch the bus, it was heartwarming to hear jubilant chatter and calls of excited children. Imagination piqued, they ran down footpaths in cheap costumes, waving plastic swords, an assortment of paper parrots perched on shoulders. There were almost equal numbers of Tinkerbell running the streets.

I volunteer at a women’s refuge once a month and knew some of these children. It required tact as strong as steel not to acknowledge those I recognised, even as some swayed in my direction, to confess some pirate secret, or some new heartbreak.

I was saved by the bus as it arrived, and abruptly swamped as it braked through a large puddle. My sapphire silk shirt now clung in the wrong places as I climbed the steps dripping and cursing, to see the driver hand held dramatically to his forehead, laughing. HIs face showed shame, mixed with concern.

‘So sorry, darling,’ he said. ‘My colleague distracted me with some story about his nephew being one of these crazed preschoolers, and the adventures they’d had kitting him out. I nearly missed the stop.’

‘It’s fine,’ I said. ‘I’ve a spare blouse at work. I’ve enjoyed watching the kids while I waited, so it was worth his effort.’

‘Where are you headed, love,’ the driver asked. Probably glad I wasn’t one of those cranky passengers.

‘Green Street, near the Pavilion,’ I said.

‘We’ll get you there, and you’ll be happy to know there’ll be no crocodiles, lost boys, or nasty hooked pirates. It’s the real world from now on,’ he said cheerily, and the door hissed shut as I took a seat.

‘I wouldn’t mind an adventure with a man with a hook,’ I whispered to myself, and watched the children stream into the schoolyard as we pulled away.


Written for Wordle #288 run by Lisa. Words to incorporate are:

pirate, forehead, imagine, footpath, abrupt, volunteer, colleague, sway, sapphire, pavilion, confess and tact.

Palestinian Harvests & Jewish Identity | Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann

I really enjoyed this informative and human story. It illustrates that the best understanding comes from participation, not observation. And that we can all be human together, regardless of school of faith, if we can put aside our assumptions.

Just, give it to me

Ferrero flavoured gelato

Gorgeous, rich Ferrero flavoured gelato from Topolino Gelateria in Wodonga, Victoria.


I so wanted to renege on the promise I’d made myself not to eat that 500ml tub of gorgeous, rich, Ferrero gelato. And I’m so proud that I held out.

I did eat the 1L tub of Mango/Lemon Meringue, which made me so happy and yet, really shit too!


49 words written for Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Renege

Reached a low point

I cannot find a place in myself that has the energy and motivation to do anything. I’m doing only the bare essentials, dragging my feet on anything else.

If I have a full workload, I can make myself do it. The sheer pressure of the expectation and remnants of a sense of pride in a job done well pull me through. 

But I’m not busy at the moment. There is not pressure to perform. And my default has become streaming TV and grazing on crap. I lost 32kg in 2019 and I’ve gained 10kg. I don’t know why I eat, it’s not like I enjoy it. It’s like filling holes, trying to fill myself up. 

My self talk has never been particularly healthy, but has gone downhill in a hurry. 

If I’m not working, I’m on the couch. I’m not writing. I’m not moving.

I can’t face a routine. I fight it. 

I’m afraid of how few years I have left, and instead of somehow making the best of what I’ve got or challenging myself to really embrace these next few years, I’ve already stopped. Like, what’s the point?

Every night, as I fall asleep, I wonder if this is the night I’ll die of a heart attack, which I guess is one of the better ways to go. Dying in your sleep.

I’m browsing online articles / studies on middle-aged women (late-middle aged women) and a couple of the phrases that connect are ‘frustrated goal attainment‘ ‘depressed mood, negative appraisal of aging changes‘. 

One of the more positive articles expresses ‘Healthy aging is happy aging‘ and that’s where I need to find myself. My husband is four years younger than me and a professional working man, who loves his job. So, he gets ongoing enjoyment and positive feedback in his life. It would be easy for him to ‘get over me and my negative attitude’. I wouldn’t blame him, but that adds another fear to my list.

(The top part of this post has been sitting in drafts since July. It is now September, and not a lot has changed!).

I am not a friend to myself. I’m now grasping at the positives, while wallowing in quiet misery. I hesitate to post this, because I don’t want to be all negative. It is not a cry for help, just me talking out loud about my reality. 

Some positives are:

  • In August I attended a writer’s conference in Perth, which has ‘inspired’ (such an overused word) me to put one of my manuscripts into a competition. The first 10,000 words and then if I’m lucky to progress to the the second round, the full WIP. 
  • In 2022, I’ve entered quite a few short story competitions, in particular with #nycmidnight and #furiousfiction. I’ll also enter something into RWA Australia’s Sweet Treats anthology competition. Maybe I’ll put one into the Spicy Bites, although I’ve just read the 2022 anthology – and WOW there are some quite graphic (to my eyes) stories, with excellent writing. If I enter something, I’ll be writing sensual not raunchy.
  • I auditioned for The Chase, Australia last week. That was fun! I applied online on the Wednesday, they called me Thursday and while I sat at a pavement café in the rain (the other diners had all run away) they quizzed me. Then set up a Zoom meeting ‘in 45 minutes’ at which time they went through my application, finishing with a ‘fast minute’ quiz and small multiple choice. 
    The very first question these types of comps ask is ‘tell me a crazy/exciting/funny thing that has happened to you’, and when the chap asked me, I said ‘I knew that the one thing that could stop me being accepted is that I’m a quiet personality who doesn’t do spontaneous anecdotes.’ However, we then spent 40 minutes or so going through the application and chatting and laughing, so hopefully I’ve sold myself and I’ll get a call up.
    If successful, it will be this year, and I should get two to three weeks notice – to record in Sydney.
  • I’ve been able to get to Perth twice this year (May and August) and so have seen our grown children. Who tried their best to fit me into their busy lives 😁
  • Eric and I are going to Singapore in November, and will see Phantom of the Opera in Melbourne on the way home. Phantom in Melbourne was our honeymoon show back in 1991. 
  • AND BONUS, our cat didn’t die in surgery on Friday!

 

 

Rebound

When you realise that you’re really over your boyfriend


‘Everyone met Holly? Babe, you know everyone, right?’

Such an arse, I thought. Tony, my dickhead, soon to be ex-boyfriend and his obnoxious artificial bonhomie.

He’d been so angry when I rocked up in girly blouse, mini skirt, sandals for a bush walk. My quiet rebellion.

Two hours of hiking this coastal bushland before this lazy introduction.

‘Hiya, I’m Sarah,’ said a pretty brunette. She held out her hand. ‘Sorry. Old habits.’

I smiled. She seemed nice. Genuine. Quite the surprise in Tony’s world. She looked comfortable, good walking shoes. The other women looked hungover, their men much the same. Although, ripped, athletic, tattooed. Delicious.

‘Nice to meet you, Sarah. Enjoy hiking?’

‘Love it,’ she said. ‘These aren’t my kind of peeps, but Johnny,’ she pointed to a dreamboat, ‘he’s working something with Tony.’

‘Part of the deal. I know how that works.’

Sarah raised an eyebrow.

‘Do I look like a hiker? I’m paid to attend.’

‘You’re a hooker?’ Sarah asked. I laughed.

‘There are similarities. Look, last night we attended the Aria Awards.’

Sarah cooed her delight.

‘You’d think so, right?’ No. Posers. But new dress, shoes, dripping in diamonds that I can keep. A tidy stash, and I’ve earned it.’

‘You don’t like him,’ she said.

‘I hate him, arrogant prick. But he has opened doors I would never have walked through. Some I wish I hadn’t. You ever tried bondage?’

‘No!’

‘His version of the Red Room. No safe word. Free to his mates. He sweetened the deal, but I paid with body and soul. I’m set up and cashing in.’

‘You’re leaving,’ said Sarah.

‘This afternoon. Chalk and cheese this life and where I come from. Time to go home.’

Tony dropped his sweaty arm across my shoulders.

‘Time to hit the peak, Hols. Let’s give those sandals a real workout,’ he said. Smiling, with cold eyes.

‘You don’t want to talk a little more business?’

‘Nah, bunch of losers. No offense, S.’

Sarah looked livid, about to strike back.

‘Some alone time, darling,’ I quickly said. ‘And, better views.’

‘Instagram worthy,’ said Sarah. I’d rescued her and Johnny from disaster.

Treacherous walk, feet slipping in sandals, wind up my skirt, hat threatening to blow away. I reached the top, gasping for air. The vista took what was left.

‘Drop your knickers,’ he said, abruptly.

‘What?!’

‘You heard. Drop em.’

The bastard being true to himself.

Suddenly, my hat flew over the cliff.

‘Stupid bitch,’ Tony yelled as he reached for it.

It was the fork in the road.

In seconds, I was at his back. With desperate power, I pushed. He fell.

His broken body far below. My eyes watered from salt air. I dropped and began to scream.

‘Help me!’ [457 words]


Written for Furious Fiction March 2022 – non-winner (nor shortlisted, longlisted …)

Story prompts: 500 Words. A character who commits a crime. Some kind of door being opened. Words to include: Chalk, talk, fork (or derivatives thereof)

Words describing the Furious Fiction flash fiction challenge, with an image of pencils wrapped in a detonator timer

Furious Fiction flash fiction challenge