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I'm lucky to have the privilege of belonging to a community in which works like this can be found. Reading this was a real immersion in...

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“Hey.”

“What?”

“... Why is the sky blue?”

Trip looked up, following Ares’ gaze. “Good point. It is blue.”

“Why isn’t it orange, like normal?”

Trip frowned. “I don’t know.”

Something shuffled in the undergrowth nearby. The two friends swept around, their feet swishing through the fallen rembranch leaves as they stared at the bush from where the sudden shaking had emanated.

“Is someone there?”

Ares glanced at Trip, trying to hide any unease. Trip took a gentle step towards the bush, his arms slightly raised as he tried to keep his balance. Despite his attempted deftness, the leaves underfoot betrayed his movements. He gently moved closer. The bush stayed still. Ares squinted, trying to see if anything was behind it from where she was stood. It was very still indeed. Almost… too still.

Trip was now close enough to the bush to smell the fragrance of its palma flowers. His tail flicked silently before he lunged into it.

“Gotcha!”

A startled rabbit flew out of the bush, taking Ares by such a surprise that she fell backwards. It ran over her, landing on her chest before leaping an inch over her face and fleeing into the woods. A silent moment passed before she sat up, exhaling a breath that she hadn’t realised she had been holding. Trip was kneeling immediately in front of her.

“You alright?”

Ares screwed her face up. “I’m fine. And stop smiling!”

Trip was indeed grinning widely. “I can’t help it. You got floored by a rabbit.”

“Shush! Rabbits are mean.”

“Yes, clearly. What a dangerous, rabid beast it was. Feeding on your fear like tha- OW!”

“Trip! Stop it!”

“Okay, okay.”

“And… please don’t tell anyone.”

Trip raised his right eyebrow and opened his mouth. The witty quip on his tongue was forgotten as he looked at Ares’ face - a face that looked as if it would rip his arms off if he cracked another joke at her expense.

“Alright. My lips are sealed.”

She exhaled again - this time in relief - and stood up, brushing the dust off her arm fur as she did so.

“Let’s keep moving. Home isn’t that far away.”

Trip nodded and they resumed their journey.

“This sky is definitely strange, though…”

“Yeah.”

“Do you think Master Griffin will know why the sky turned blue?”

Trip pinched one of his whiskers between an index finger and thumb, and ran them along it gently. “I don’t know, but if he doesn’t, I don’t think anyone else will.”

They walked on in silence for a while, which began to annoy Ares after a few minutes. She was annoyed because, if she wasn’t talking, then she was thinking, and if she was thinking, she was worrying. She tended to worry about an awful lot of things in general. Maybe that’s why silences were horrid things to her - things to be filled with something, even if the only thing available was the sound of her own voice.

She knew of the news of a group of bandits hiding out in the woods. So had Trip, of course. Everyone in town was talking about it. And there was apparently a food shortage coming soon. But she was deliberately trying to ignore the elephant in the room: the fact that they had awoken to a different coloured sky. The freakish blue above them made her uneasy. Everything around her all seemed so surreal. The entire world looked utterly different under this strange canvas over the familiar landscape.

Valend boasted an eternal autumn, with warm mornings and beautiful, golden evenings. The lakes filled warm and deep, and the forests were blessed with many trees, nuts and fruits, and carefully kept trails, like the one they walked along now. There were not many towns, but Ares and Trip had grown up in a lovely and peaceful village called Roam. Master Griffin had taught her that their race had been born in Roam itself, many thousands of years ago. Sometimes, she was proud of this fact. Other times it depressed her.

“Hey, Trip.”

“What’s up, Ares?”

“Master Griffiths says that the Malar originate from Roam, right?”

Trip smiled again. “That is apparently what all those dusty scrolls have taught him, yes.”

“Wouldn’t that mean that we’ve spent thousands of years in the same place?”

Trip stopped walking for a moment to consider this. “I guess you’re right.”

“Doesn’t that bother you?”

Trip ran his fingers through the fur atop his head. “Urm… why would it?”

“I just think it’s a bit sad that our families just stayed put. Why not try something new every once in a while? The thought that my great-great-great-great grandfather never thought to move out - to explore - just makes me feel… well…”

“...Feel… what?”

Ares noticed Trip staring quizzically, and flushed. “Oh… I dunno.”

“Hmm.”

The two friends carried on together, silently consenting to complete their journey.

-

Roam’s arms were open wide for them as they arrived. The woods they were walking through ended, opening up to reveal a large field of tall wild grass. The woodland trail continued, becoming a downtrodden track of grass and hay that led straight down the middle of the field and into Roam. Over to the left, a lake’s edge quietly sat and glittered. Ares noticed some of the wild grass stalks gently bending in the wind, and then others being swept aside roughly by young rodendeer, running and laughing as they played in the…

Ares snapped her eyes away. “Trip! The sun!”

He looked up and went pale, shutting his eyes and clasping his hands over his face. The sun had turned a bright, blinding white.

“My eyes!”

Before she knew what she was doing, Ares had grasped one of Trip’s arms and turned, yanking him into a startled half turn motion.

“Keep calm. Let’s move.”

They started towards Roam. Ares could see that the arms were still open.

“Ares… my arm.”

“Oh. Right.” She let go. “Are you alright, Trip?”

“I think so… Ares, don’t loo-”

“Don’t look directly at the sun, I know. Nearly there.”

The arms were the opening in the wooden fence around Roam. Most of the time, it was not needed, but in the deepening of mid-autumn, when the animals of the woods became more aggressive, the fence proved its worth, year after year. They paced through with a determination that was starting to make Ares’ legs ache. She made for the nearest building, grabbing the door handle with both hands. It wouldn’t budge.

Strange. The doors of the houses in Roam were always left unlocked during the day. She pounded on the door, hard.

“Hello? Let us in!”

A stern voice from the other side of the door rasped. “Get away from this house, monster!”

Ares gasped. “...What?”

“Begone! Curse you, bringer of demonic light!”

She recognised the voice. “Mr Whiting?”

No answer came.

“Mr Whiting, it’s me! It’s Ares! Your neighbour! Don’t you remember me?”

Trip placed his hand on her shoulder. “Valend damn Mr Whiting. Let’s ask somewhere else, before we accidentally blind ourselves in this sun.”

But it became clear, all too quickly, that it was no use. No matter where they tried, they only found locked doors and venomous words. Eventually, Ares gave up and put her face in her hands, waves of emotion sweeping over her.

Trip awkwardly stood by. “Hey… Ares... “

“Oh, Trip! Everyone’s being so horrible!”

Trip nodded. “Yeah, they’re being stupid. Seems like they think we changed the sky and the su- ARGH!”

Trip slapped his hands over his eyes again.

Ares gasped. “Be careful where you look!”

Trip puffed loudly. “I know, I know. An accident. My bad.”

“Where can we go?”

Trip lowered his hands, his eyes still closed. “There’s one place we haven’t tried.”

Ares was careful to keep the sun out of her peripheral vision as she moved to look towards the building she knew Trip was talking about. “Master Griffin’s.”

Trip nodded, opening his eyes, but only to a squint. “Let’s go.”

Trip hadn’t taken five paces before a loud snap froze him and Ares in place with shock. It had come from immediately in front of them. Ares looked around for a moment. All was quiet. She took one step forward, and stopped, leaning forward to confirm what she thought her eyes were telling her. The waves of a rising heat were just discernable not twenty yards in front of them. But this was more intense than anything Ares had seen before. It was somehow denser, and much hotter. She could feel the heat against her face even from this distance.

Another huge snap resounded around them, forcing Ares’ eyes shut.

When she opened them, everything she knew changed forever.

A single figure stood in front of them. It was a Malar, like them. It was female, like Ares. Very much like Ares. In fact… besides being a little older than her, the Malar was almost identical to her. They only locked eyes for an instant, but that instant showed Ares a terrible thing.

“Oh, Crud!” The figure said, before it raised its arm and slammed something on its wrist with its other hand. Another snap! And the Malar was gone.

Trip’s mouth was open, unbelieving. Ares couldn’t move. She couldn’t think.

“Ares! Trip! Get over here!”

She couldn’t move. She didn’t move. She later recalled having her arm grabbed by Trip and being run into Master Griffin’s house, but she never remembered lying down to rest. Only waking up five hours later to a concerned Trip and, in the background of her vision, sitting on an old armchair and smoking an old bagweed pipe, the stern eyes of Master Griffin.
A Blinding Sky
It feels good, after a long and unhealthy absence, to return to the pastime I love. I truly hope I can come back to this exciting story I have started.

Hoping and wishing all the best for you.

:iconja-mes:
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Hold the phone.

I've been to Romania this week, and got back yesterday. After returning to my place in old Brighton town, I logged on to find that Goggles in Mireview had been gifted a Daily Deviation by neurotype! My profile was awash with views, favourites, and so on.

July Literature DD Round Up:iconirrevocablefate:
Features by IrrevocableFate 
          Solace by Medoriko Bo. by Silver-cLaw if you need help making it through the day by trembling-knees
:icongrimface242:
Features by GrimFace242
Mr. Five by TheVoiceofMadness We Hold Hearts by ttbloodlusttt Te by ZetsubouDahlia What I gave you by WhitePlumFragrance Heart Sold. by Lady-Yume :thumb407777094: FACTORY DEMON FORKLIFT BATTLE by AntiMach Last Words by estallidos .Red lips. by BlackRoseMew The Heart Necklace by Mimibert Cyclical love by xXI-Feel-InfiniteXx Paradigm Shift by jade-pandora [transmissions of a dead girl] by crimsonletters Southern modernization by Emmaessence may as well buy another pack by creativelycliche The Coffee God by anapests-and-ink Bad Shot by CrumbledWings
:iconneurotype:
Features by neurotype
Senryu Series 12 by Laurence55 The Interview by levi3o4 :thumb459736038: Visitor by sliverofciel :thumb451905651: Margie by capricecake daughters by sunshinegypsy Palani by Augmented4th Parental Guidance by Rangavar :thumb4436160


This is so unexpected and sudden. I am stunned. I feel encouraged. And humbled. And happy. And grateful!

I haven't enjoyed this feeling for a long time...

If you haven't seen it yet, here is the piece in question:



It would be unjust not to vocalise my gratitude. A massive shout to those of you who have looked at Goggles in Mireview, read it, and commented/faved/enjoyed it.

OI!

That was my shout.

Also, I was invited to contribute Goggles in Mireview to CRLiterature's gallery. Thanks, guys! I am happy to. If you have the time, go check them out. I've joined.

Finally: I will try my best to thank everyone who comments and favs my work. I will also take a look at your profile if you start watching mine. I don't promise much, but I promise you that. It's the least I can do.

Keep scribbling!

:iconja-mes:
Mature Content Filter is On
(Contains: strong language)
Nico swept out of the open manhole. She was grinning like a schoolgirl. It wasn't until I had made this mental comparison that I realised that, in all honesty, she was probably young enough to be a schoolgirl.

“Why aren't you in school?” There was no drive in my words. I was thinking out loud.

She gave me a confused look, a curious smile emerging after a disarmed moment. The grime on her face, fresh and dark from the underground that she had just emerged from, had an element of Victorian orphan about it, especially when combined with her mucky, plain clothes. This is of course excepting the night vision goggles which were resting on her forehead. Out of place? Perhaps. But it was a sign to me of what she was: a poor child with deft hands.

I didn't know much about her. Well, I still don't. But she was young. And she hadn't known any other life than the one she had: drifting through the streets of Mireview, biding her time between voracious thefts and excursions to the rooftops for the promise of a safe sleep, away from the nightmarish hands of the inner city night. Those biting winter winds and dark, enclosed alleyways were enough to drive any man mad, but the men who stalked the poorer districts of Mireview had already succumbed to that far, far before December had arrived.

“Hey wiseguy. You're daydreaming again.”

I shook myself. “I'm sorry – what did you say?”

She wiped her sleeve across her upper lip. Given the state of the sleeve, it did little to remove the grime. “I said I have a job. You're watching me do it! And besides, no school would have me. Look at me. Why would anyone want to try educating me?”

I kept hold of her gaze for a moment, biding my time. “Because you're lovely.”

She glanced down for a moment. If not for the black marks over her face, her blush would have been visible. She may have wanted to say something dismissive, and yesterday she might have done it. Something like 'Shut up' or 'Get a life, you Middle District ponce', but today was different. Today, I had come back to her.

Without a word, we moved on. The manholes weren't going to clear themselves, and she had only treated four so far. After about five minutes of twists and turns down the streets of the poor district, a route I am sure only Nico knew, we arrived at the next manhole. She placed her feet on the ladder and proceeded to move down.

The manholes of poor district. What should have been an easy part of their day to day infrastructure was now instead a major injury hazard. The covers had been removed and carted off to the factories years ago, before either of us had been born. Any iron is valuable to production, I suppose, and this was a quick and easy source when the industry needed it. The promise of their return, I imagine, was accepted without question.

Poor Nico in a poor district. How could she know about the manhole covers that ensured the safety and protection of passing pedestrians in the Middle and Upper Districts? She barely knew about any world outside of this one: cold, dark, and dirty.

And still she whistled as she swept down the manhole, scrubbing away merrily.

When she popped her head out once again, I had thought of a more intelligent, probing question. Hell, it was even something I was genuinely curious about. Almost. I grinned and placed my hands behind my head.

“So... how'd you get your goggles, Neeks?”

She waited until she was out of the hole and standing in front of me before she cleared her throat and said, “I bought these goggles to help me do my job.”

I eyed her warily. She had said that a little too loudly. “To help you see in the dark?”

“That's right. I bought them with my savings.” She then glanced around us, grabbed my hand and half-dragged me down the nearest alleyway. I was too shocked at the sudden change in direction that I didn't say anything at all. Not until she practically threw me out of her grip and shoved me against the wall.

“Ow! Hey, st-”

“Quit whining and shut up, you big fat fuck! Do you know where you are? We are not in Middle any more, you get me? We're in poor. Poor. Where kids like me get their fucking hands cut off for stealing bread. Where even lying on duty – which I have just done, by the way – means more pain for me than you can imagine in your entire fucking life. You get me, you Middle District prick?”

Nodding like a vibrating ruler which was profusely dribbling, I waited for a moment. I took a step away from the alley wall, feeling something unpleasantly slimy on my back as I did so, and raised my hands slowly.

“L.. Look... I'm sorry, all right? I wasn't thinking.”

She had turned to face the dim lamp light lazily casting its glow on her face. She didn't move. “No. No, you weren't. You don't have to.”

“I... what?”

“You don't have to think.” She glanced my way. “I do.”

She strode out of the alley. Purposeful. Confident. Resolute. Knowing that she still had twenty five manholes to descend and scrub. And that she would complete the task alone.

I swore under my breath. How could I have been so stupid? Nico was right. I was an idiot. I still am.

Most people in Mireview would probably tell you that much from what had gone on the day before.

I had seen her pop up from one of the manholes and stride away, happily going onto the next stop on her eternal voyage to clear regular passage into the bowels of Mireview's sewage system. Those are her words, not mine, whispered in an alleyway this evening between manholes. And they were laced with the undeniable edge of sarcasm, as surely as her goggles were tinged with the reflections from the dim street lights which led our way.

To this day, I cannot tell you what had made me run up, talk to the girl, and arrange the meeting. Had I been overly curious, throwing the caution of my position as a resident of Middle District to the wind? Had I wanted a change from the horrendous monotony of life that the structure of Mireview's society had created?

No. I knew that much.

It was her face. Her face, complete with joy and wonder, even though she was considered the lowest of the low. And the goggles. They looked so very out of place. It sparked my curiosity. I wanted to know how she could look so vibrant, so different, so full of life.

I knew that now, I would never know.

I made to start moving, then stopped. I was alone, and had been now for several minutes. And I was in a dark, dingy, poor district alleyway. And I was wearing the distinctive beige threads of the Middle District. And there was the sound of heavy breathing coming from behind me.

Before I knew it, I was on my front, sprawled on the ground, tasting blood in my mouth and writhing with the sudden blast of pain in my back. I didn't have time to think before a pair of rough hands grabbed my shoulders from behind and pulled me up, forcing me onto my knees. They grasped my arms next, tugging at them in ragged fashion, until my hands were behind my head.

By now, I was sobbing uncontrollably. I must have looked pathetic.

A shadow emerged in my peripheral vision. I couldn't see, but it walked with a limp. He was male. I felt that much from his laboured breaths. He was also smart. He knew, even now, that it was stupid to reveal himself.

“You got any money, boy?”

My nodding returned with renewed vigour.

“On the ground in front of you.”

I moved my hands to my pockets.

“Don't you try nothing funny. You hear? This knife is pointing at your fucking neck, Middle District.”

The nodding continued as I threw the contents of my pockets onto the ground.

He sniffed as he surveyed his winnings. “That all?”

I whimpered.

“Jesus Christ. I thought you Middles were supposed to be loaded.”

He shuffled around for a moment before striking me hard in the face. I collapsed to the ground as he dragged himself to gather the pieces of copper and silver I had thrown down. He sniffed again before grabbing me by the shirt and pulling me up. Now I could see him.

He was old. Very old. Too old to be attacking anyone, least of all me. His face was contorted in a rage that went beyond my understanding. His balding, windswept hair told of a life spent on the streets with nothing but scavenged crumbs and raw road kill for nourishment. The creases and cracks in his skin were deepened by his lowered eyebrows and grimacing lips until he barely resembled an old man at all. But it was his eyes that cut to the soul. Dark enough to be black as far as I knew in this dim light and my watery vision – giant pupils which bore down on me relentlessly, asking questions of me that I couldn't answer; shaking an empty purse to a terrified death.

He grasped me and shook violently. “I don't believe you. You've got more. Give it to me, you lying, Middle bastard!”

All I could do was squeal. God, it's embarrassing to remember.

The man held his knife up to my face. His eyes looked at the point. It was red and dripping. The pain in my back flared up at the sight; my subconscious was making the link for me. His eyes looked up at me. Now he was grinning.

“You know what the penalty is for lying to an elder in poor, don't you boy?”

As his words sunk into me, I finally found words of my own. “Y... y... yeah. I do.”

The old man looked taken aback for a moment. Hell, so was I. He shrugged to himself, shaking off his confusion, before leaning in, his knife raised. I closed my eyes.

His sudden gargled scream sent me falling to the ground in shock, my eyes opening to the sight of Nico throttling the old man, choking him to death with a coil of wire. All he could do was thrash around madly, but Nico, though small, was strong. Strong enough for an old man past sixty, anyway. And she had the darkness on her side. She held him in place until he stopped moving.

I wish I could tell you that this wasn't a horrifyingly lengthy process, but it was. The old man just wouldn't die. He kept fighting for a while, but even after he lost his strength, it was another several moments before his eyes clouded over, and death took its hold over him. How Nico kept holding him is utterly unthinkable. I still wake up in cold sweats with the memory of those twisted moments: the thrashing arms, the clouded eyes, the blinding pain, the foul stench. The loss of life.

I couldn't say anything, only watch as she stood up over the dead old man. Her goggles were on, which meant that she could see everything in front of her. I was suddenly utterly ashamed.

In that moment, hazily watching her there, that I realised. Her mirth was a façade. It was no more a reality than her chances of ever leaving this hell hole of a city district. It was a ruse – an act that she played out every day to escape the unrelenting reality of her surroundings. I hadn't seen that. And I had paid the price.

She turned and walked away, discarding the wire as she moved. She paused for a moment before removing the goggles. She set them down at the entrance to the alleyway and moved on.

As I found myself disappearing into an unwilling and uneven unconsciousness, my eyes stayed firmly fixed on those night vision goggles. What had they been?

I decided just as I lost my mind.

Nothing.
Goggles in Mireview
Here's something else - something darker. Challenging? Maybe. I can't say for sure where this came from. Just that it's there.

I thank the prompts journal of birdsonqs for giving me prompt 75 this evening (where would we be without online random number generators?):

fav.me/d5df6rt

The thumbnail tool doesn't seem to be working. Odd.

Many thanks and all the best to you. I want to make it clear: I make no promises on the content of future scribblings. Not any more.

Adieu...

:iconja-mes:
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Well. What a year.

First of all, to that small group of folks who have enjoyed my scribblings of the past, I apologise. I include myself in that tiny demographic. I've done myself a disservice this year by neglecting what is my favourite hobby. I regret that.

However, although it is true that I have had time to write - time which I haven't used - the opportunities have been few and far between. I have trained to be a maths teacher this year, and only got my QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) Certificate through this week. My graduation is tomorrow! It's been a remarkable journey in which I have grown as a teacher and as a person. But it's been a busy time, and promises to remain so as I start a new job. Having said that, I have this summer to unwind, recharge, and hopefully... write. But I will make no promises. I am unable to any more.

So, here is my first offering in what must be the best part of a year!

The Penny Drops“Come on, Stu. Eat up.”
“Mmmmmmngh...”
“Acting like that won't get you anywhere, you know.”
I fixed him with as full a stare as I could muster, which wasn't much, given my state. He was a hazy apparition in my vision, loose, and blurred. God, my head hurt. I tried to say something with coherence.
“Well... when you're as hung over as I am right now, you start to stop caring.”
“What? Didn't hear that. Your vocal chords are working at too low a frequency to be picked up by human ears.”
He grinned. I didn't even pretend to share his apparent mirth, instead focusing on glaring. Evans raised his hands in mock surrender.
“Jeez, man. Chill out. You know, nothing cures post-drunkenness more quickly than a bacon sandwich. Like that one. That one there. The one I just made you.”
“What about black coffee?”
Evans glanced at his mug. “Well... yeah... I guess that's quite effective...”
“What about th


A small piece on the struggle of getting back into writing. It's quite relevant, in my case!

In other news, given the difficulties I've had in terms of committing my time to the site, I have stepped down as an admin of my all time favourite writing group here on DA, DeviantLITERATURE...

New BeginningsNew Beginnings
May 12th 2014
Once again, we have left you hanging somewhat and for this I can only humbly apologise. However, we have lots of news for everyone to munch on, some sad and some promising new horizons for DeviantLITERATURE!
Over the last few months what has rapidly become apparent to both myself and the other Administrative members is that we as a unit have been floundering with the amount of pressure we're under every day, what with submissions, journals, affiliate news and the now seemingly long-distant features. We've been thinking desperately of switch-ups now for weeks, but have had to finally relent and admit that what dL needs more than anything is change and a draft of new, fresh faces.
However, a change never comes without first a loss: so it is with regret that we say goodbye to our dear friend, Ja-mes who has been an unwavering cornerstone of dL's foundations since Day One, always impressing me with his passion and dri


There was a time when I could commit to this. That time is over. Sad? Perhaps. But I think it'll be exciting to see what happens to the group with more committed admins in place.

For your time and for your awesomeness, I thank you profusely.

:iconja-mes:
“Come on, Stu. Eat up.”

“Mmmmmmngh...”

“Acting like that won't get you anywhere, you know.”

I fixed him with as full a stare as I could muster, which wasn't much, given my state. He was a hazy apparition in my vision, loose, and blurred. God, my head hurt. I tried to say something with coherence.

“Well... when you're as hung over as I am right now, you start to stop caring.”

“What? Didn't hear that. Your vocal chords are working at too low a frequency to be picked up by human ears.”

He grinned. I didn't even pretend to share his apparent mirth, instead focusing on glaring. Evans raised his hands in mock surrender.

“Jeez, man. Chill out. You know, nothing cures post-drunkenness more quickly than a bacon sandwich. Like that one. That one there. The one I just made you.”

“What about black coffee?”

Evans glanced at his mug. “Well... yeah... I guess that's quite effective...”

“What about the wake up juice the bartender makes in Back to the Future 3?”

“Oh, come on. Give me a break. That isn't even real.”

I snorted. I wasn't sure, but the guttural utterance from my throat may have made the table vibrate. “I bet it does exist somewhere.”

Evans looked at me. He was a curious mix of frustration and bemusement, his loosely applied deodorant spray mixing with the coffee after-taste on his breath. It did not make for easy smelling given my churning stomach. Although Evans looked annoyed, and I tried my best, I just couldn't empathise. This was my apartment he was stinking up, after all. And coffee isn't cheap.

Seemingly reading my mind, Evans turned to strain more coffee. “Let's just get you fed and thinking straight. You promised to get started again today.”

Get started? I remembered nothing of this.

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“That's what you told me. Hey... hey. Don't give me that look.”

Evans meant well. Let's be frank – even now, he's a great support to me. Always has been. Not every guy in his early twenties would stick around and fry up a bacon sandwich, albeit helping himself to the kitchen in the process. But even given his altruistic nature, the look he gave me in that moment could have killed lesser men. I suppose I was glad to not be a lesser man, though any man who would qualify as 'lesser' than me temporarily evaded my mind at that particular moment.

I mean, think about it. I was hung over, house-bound, and had spurned most human contact for the last month. I was sitting in a shadowy kitchen in a shadowy flat that needed hoovering a fortnight ago, and needed most of the lights replacing since far, far, before that. I shook my head, prompting a wave of pain.

“Ow...”

“Look, Stu. We know each other as well we can possibly know one another, so I feel qualified to say that we both know why you're like this.”

Indeed we did. “Evans. Shut up.”

“I guess, on reflection, it makes sense in some ways. Who would have thought it? A young, virtually unknown writer takes his place alongside the greats with his first novel...”

“EVANS. STOP.”

Damn it. Yelling made my head feel as if it had been split open. I'd watched a YouTube video some days before which told me that the human head can be well approximated by a watermelon when it comes to consistency – a hard outside, with a soft, squelchy inside once you break through. Perfect for testing what weapons would be effective in fighting a zombie invasion. Now that it came to it, yelling like that felt like taking a sledgehammer to the proverbial watermelon of my skull. I was surprised that blood didn't splatter everywhere.

Evans stayed quiet for a while. I knew him well enough to know that he wouldn't be deterred by the rebuttal. He just recognised he needed to be patient and careful. Both of which, as luck would have it, he seemed great at. Of course.

“Alright, Stu.” He slid the plate towards me, the bacon sandwich having stopped steaming. Evans sat down and took a sip of his freshly poured coffee.

I sighed whilst the storm in my head raged. It abated a little. Evans' patience was impressive, but I also knew he completely understood my position.

“I am trying, Evans.”

“I know. That's all anyone can ask. But my goodness, you set a precedent with that first book, didn't you?”

I smiled, flinched, and felt my face turn to a grimace. It wasn't entirely due to the hangover.

“I...”

The thing about alcohol (and more notably, its side effects) is that it plays with your brain in a way which procures sudden bursts of strong emotion. Most of the time, these are unwelcome. Last night I was happy enough in my stupor to make false promises about starting up writing again. But now I felt myself slump, so much so that a rush of tears ran to my eyes. I blinked several times, surprised at myself for a moment. I chose to stay quiet.

Evans took another sip of coffee, set it down on the table, and folded his arms slowly. “Are you ever going to eat that sandwich? Because I swear, I will go to town on it before long.”

I looked at him in silence. He returned my gaze for a few seconds.

“No? Okay then.”

He swept the bacon up with all the grace that could be mustered. After taking a large bite, he spoke through the mouthful.

“You know what I think?”

I shook my head, more gently this time.

“I think you're having a crisis because you don't know if you can replicate your successes again.”

Coming from a mouth that was spitting out dribbly bread and grease, this was surprisingly astute.

“You should take more pride in what you have already accomplished. Did you ever really, REALLY celebrate?”

I found a voice. “Well... I had a party with the publishers-”

“Doesn't count. Too pressured. You couldn't  properly have fun with De-Marco breathing down your back every minute.”

I remembered De-Marco's thin, moustached face looming over the punch bowl so vividly it was like the man was back in the room with me. Slightly unhinged. European. I exhaled sharply through my nose. “Okay... Um... Book signing?”

“What? That's not celebrating. That's working.”

“I thought... I thought... I dunno.”

“Exactly. You don't know. And not knowing hampers your writing. You need to start from a place of security. And your security lies in remembering that you CAN write and you CAN do it well and that you WILL do so again.”

I raised my right eyebrow. “It's that simple?”

“Absolutely! Getting caught up in just replicating success isn't helping you. It's scaring you into alcohol and sloth. Celebrate what you HAVE done. I promise, it'll work out from there.”

I sniffed. “That was a lot of words.”

He smiled. “Yeah, but you needed to hear it. And you know what the best part is?”

“What's the best part?”

“It came from you.”

I smirked. “Eh?”

Evans laughed. “You didn't think I could come up with this stuff, do you? It was you. Last night. I'm absolutely serious. You wouldn't shut up. I'm repeating verbatim what you were telling me. Without the slurs.”

I chuckled. “I'd like the slurred edition. See if it has as much impact.”

“You don't believe me, do you?”

“Hell no. It's a great idea to try to motivate me, though.”

Evans took a big bite of my sandwich. “You can believe what you like.”

I hesitated. “Even if I do celebrate my first book, it won't magically produce another.”

“Neither will getting paralytically drunk and raving to me.”

We both laughed.

My eyes narrowed, suddenly realising. “Did I really say that?”

“Oh God, Stu, come on! YES.”

He got up and moved to lean against the mirrored wall behind him, his work finished. I shuffled around until I was sat where he had been.

I must admit, the sandwich was starting to smell great. The cloudy haze was starting to clear, too. I tasted the bacon between my teeth. The coffee too.

The kitchen light flickered to life and illuminated the morning grey – a pleasant surprise.

I finished the sandwich and the coffee. I was on my own. I leaned back, licking my lips. My head still hurt, but less than before.

The laptop was just visible in the lounge down the corridor. For the first time in what seemed like a very long time indeed, I was excited by the prospect of seeing a blank Word document. I got up gently and moved into the front room. On the floor was a copy of my first book.

“The Penny Drops. By Stuart Evans.”

I sat down, taking care not to move too quickly. I was still hung over, after all. The Word document appeared as I unlocked Windows 8,  practically inviting me to get started.

I smiled.

“Lovely. Let's start.”
The Penny Drops
My goodness! Something new? I know what you're thinking:

'Who are you sir, and what have you done with the real Ja-mes?'

Alas, it is really me. With something new. I think a blog update is necessary.
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Ja-mes

Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United Kingdom
I write as a hobby, and I must say I really enjoy it. I've been around Deviant Art for a while now, and have loved it since day one! I'm looking for (constructive!) criticism on a few pieces of my work. So no pictures (sorry...!), but an opportunity to exercise your imagination.
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Hold the phone.

I've been to Romania this week, and got back yesterday. After returning to my place in old Brighton town, I logged on to find that Goggles in Mireview had been gifted a Daily Deviation by neurotype! My profile was awash with views, favourites, and so on.

July Literature DD Round Up:iconirrevocablefate:
Features by IrrevocableFate 
          Solace by Medoriko Bo. by Silver-cLaw if you need help making it through the day by trembling-knees
:icongrimface242:
Features by GrimFace242
Mr. Five by TheVoiceofMadness We Hold Hearts by ttbloodlusttt Te by ZetsubouDahlia What I gave you by WhitePlumFragrance Heart Sold. by Lady-Yume :thumb407777094: FACTORY DEMON FORKLIFT BATTLE by AntiMach Last Words by estallidos .Red lips. by BlackRoseMew The Heart Necklace by Mimibert Cyclical love by xXI-Feel-InfiniteXx Paradigm Shift by jade-pandora [transmissions of a dead girl] by crimsonletters Southern modernization by Emmaessence may as well buy another pack by creativelycliche The Coffee God by anapests-and-ink Bad Shot by CrumbledWings
:iconneurotype:
Features by neurotype
Senryu Series 12 by Laurence55 The Interview by levi3o4 :thumb459736038: Visitor by sliverofciel :thumb451905651: Margie by capricecake daughters by sunshinegypsy Palani by Augmented4th Parental Guidance by Rangavar :thumb4436160


This is so unexpected and sudden. I am stunned. I feel encouraged. And humbled. And happy. And grateful!

I haven't enjoyed this feeling for a long time...

If you haven't seen it yet, here is the piece in question:



It would be unjust not to vocalise my gratitude. A massive shout to those of you who have looked at Goggles in Mireview, read it, and commented/faved/enjoyed it.

OI!

That was my shout.

Also, I was invited to contribute Goggles in Mireview to CRLiterature's gallery. Thanks, guys! I am happy to. If you have the time, go check them out. I've joined.

Finally: I will try my best to thank everyone who comments and favs my work. I will also take a look at your profile if you start watching mine. I don't promise much, but I promise you that. It's the least I can do.

Keep scribbling!

:iconja-mes:

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:iconbattlefairies:
BATTLEFAIRIES Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2015
Oh and thanks for Watching!
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:iconja-mes:
Ja-mes Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
No problem. You share my humour. :D
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:iconbattlefairies:
BATTLEFAIRIES Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2015
Why hurray! Bottoms up, friend :icontoastplz:
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:iconja-mes:
Ja-mes Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Strap that to a cat. Perpetual energy.
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(1 Reply)
:iconbattlefairies:
BATTLEFAIRIES Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2015
Thank you for Favouriting my work! This means you can now ask the Djinn ONE question --> 'Ask The Djinn' stamp by BATTLEFAIRIES <-- clicky clicky
The Djinn will answer truthfully and to the best of her considerate abilities.
Have fun (and come back often)!
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:iconroguemudblood:
RogueMudblood Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2015   Writer
Thanks so much for the :+devwatch:! :love:
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:iconja-mes:
Ja-mes Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
No worries. You're a great writer! :D
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:iconroguemudblood:
RogueMudblood Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2015   Writer
:blushes: Thanks for the compliment - it's truly appreciated. :)
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:iconja-mes:
Ja-mes Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
:thumbsup:
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:icon3wyl:
3wyl Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Hello! :wave:

On behalf of ProjectComment, I would like to welcome you to our group! Some of the things we have that you may not know are:
We also have Targeted Commenting where you can just leave a link to your piece, a few questions, and we'll comment on your piece so that it is more driven and focused for you.

Overall, there are many things, all displayed on the front page of ProjectComment, and many more things to come! If you have any suggestions, concerns, queries or anything else, please do not hesitate to contact us!

We hope you have an enjoyable stay! :glomp:
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