‘Lion’ Film Review

lionreview.jpg

One of the greatest films I have seen in years, the gorgeous and captivating tale of finding your way back home, Dev Patel stars as the Indian orphan Saroo, who uses Google Earth to find his way back to the family he lost at the age of five.

Based on a true story, Lion begins by showing how 5-year-old Saroo was tragically separated from his brother one night and ends up getting lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. Many cruel encounters follow, making you sit on the edge of your seat, wondering if he will make it to a place of safety.

Luckily, he gets adopted by an Austrailian couple and manages to live a privileged and contented life, far away from the poor streets of his hometown. At the age of twenty-five, Saroo longs to see his birth mother and brother again. Due to the technology of Google Earth, Saroo finally has a chance to use the memories he has to find out where he came from.

There is a terrific cast, Sunny Pawar is adorable and really sets the film alight with his realistic role as five-year-old Saroo. Nicole Kidman and David Wenham shine as the charismatic couple that adopt him.

If you do one thing this weekend, watch this incredible film, you won’t be disappointed.

Five stars!

 

 

The Second Draft.

instagramcapture_dcc9662c-2c28-4e36-99ba-7bad49f84e29

I’ve finally finished editing the first draft of 1:58 and if there is anything I have learnt from this experience of using a red pen on my own work it is this – I can be brutal. Many writers say that they don’t like to ‘kill their darlings’ but I found it quite easy to use my inner-editor to cross out sections that didn’t work, be brutally honest about my use of clichés and accept that there were parts of my novel that just didn’t work.

I had a dream a few nights ago about my novel, when I woke up I realised all of the mistakes I was making with my story and I quickly jotted them down. I’m going to make some major changes, from the name of the novel to the events that take place in the narrative. It’s still the same story in many ways and I am keeping the characters that I have grown to love but the novel didn’t excite me when I read it back. If it doesn’t excite me, then it’s definitely not going to excite a reader.

This is the first time I have completed a novel and edited my own work, so it’s an entirely new process for me. I am excited to get started on the second draft, it may take three or four drafts before this novel is ready but I’m willing to put the hard work in to really create the best story I possibly can. No one said it would be easy. Ernest Hemmingway once said “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” A little dramatic but he definitely has the right idea.

 

 

 

 

Breathing New Life Into An Old Story…

WP_20160814_14_01_31_Pro

In 2014, when I was studying Creative Writing at university, I decided to take part in something called NaNoWriMo. A writing task to write 50,000 words during the month of November. Despite my lack of belief in myself, I managed to do it. I spent a few weeks beforehand writing a plan, I had detailed questionnaires on all of my characters, I was ready to go. I celebrated when I reached the word count. I actually completed a novel! Yay me!

Then, I left the story alone. It sat on my USB for two years, yes you heard right, TWO YEARS! I guess I didn’t have much faith in my story, I thought it was rubbish and didn’t want to read it ever again. Until one day. I don’t know what pushed me to do it but I decided to read my story to myself. As I scrolled through the pages, I realised it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. Although my inner editor had already started to rewrite the story in my head, I saw a few moments in the story that had true potential.

I printed off my manuscript and took out a red pen. I highlighted sentences that worked, crossed out sections that didn’t and scanned the manuscript for inconsistencies and spelling mistakes. I’m still in the process of editing the novel but once I’m done, I’m going to start my second draft of 1:58. I’m breathing new life into an old story and I couldn’t be happier about it 🙂

 

 

 

A Story To Tell

writingbook

It’s been a long time since I had a story to tell. Writing stories and poems has always been a big part of my life but over the past two years, I’ve been doing it less. I would only feel inspired in small doses and I felt like I didn’t have the confidence to write well any more.

Today I woke up and decided to finally get an idea on paper that has been brewing in my mind for the past couple of months and it felt good. It’s a novel, in the planning stages but at least it’s something. I’ve decided to stop putting pressure on myself with my writing. Instead of giving myself deadlines and expecting too much, I’m just going to write, for fun, like I used to.

I’ve never lost my passion for writing, just my motivation to do it. If I only write my novel when I want to instead of when I feel I have to, I will probably start to enjoy the process again. In time I will get my confidence back and writing will become a daily part of my life again. No matter how much I write, I will always call myself a writer because I believe that writing is not a profession, it’s a lifestyle.

The amazing thing about writing is there is the freedom it brings me. There is no right or wrong, no rules on how something should be. I feel something strongly and I write about it. I create a character in my mind and write their story. I love to explore the beauty and tragedy of life, the questions I want to answer, the places I want to go through my writing.

I’m excited by my latest idea, I have a good feeling that this could be the story I want to tell but if it isn’t then that’s okay, there is plenty of time for me to try different stories and to grow and learn as a writer.

 

Camp NaNoWriMo 2015

campnanowrimo

So, I have decided to do Camp NaNoWriMo. After the success of winning NaNoWriMo in November last year, completing 50,000 words in thirty days for my first full length novel 1:58, I decided that it was time to do it again. Camp NaNoWriMo is the same as NaNoWriMo but there is more freedom, I can choose my own word count goal. However, I’m still sticking to 50,000 words. I can do it. I know I can.

I feel like I have lost a lot of motivation in the writing side of my life and the less I write, the more confidence I lose and I knew that it was time to transfer the novel that I have been planning for months in my head, down on paper. I have started to outline and plan a novel called The Last Letter. I have it planned up to chapter twelve and I am going to spend the last few days of June planning the rest to start the Camp NaNoWriMo on July the 1st.

I have planned many novels and many of them have never been written but this one, it just feels different. I can’t really explain why but this is the story that I really want to tell. Completing the challenge last year boosted my confidence enormously because I had never completed a longer piece of writing from start to finish. I had written poetry and short stories but never succeeded in writing an entire novel. Now I can say I have. And I am going to do it again.

I have so much time on my hands right now and I feel like I am wasting it. Day in and day out, I do nothing productive and it is only getting worse. I don’t want to be the writer that doesn’t write. I don’t want to be the woman who says she wants to be an author but never even tries to make the dream a reality. I want to write this novel.

The Last Letter is my chance to prove that I can write novels. It is easy for some writers to just write a 100,000 word novel from start to finish, start revising it, complete it and then send it to publishing houses. But what about the rest of us? The struggling writers that don’t always have the discipline to complete what we start? The writers that listen to the voice in their heads that says they are not good enough and believe it. The writers that know they can do it but have to convince themselves that they won’t fail.

I can manage 1,600 words a day. I have done it before. There are a few days in the month of July that I will be busy but I will have to work around my plans and make sure I get my daily word count. I know I can do this. I have done this before.

July has one extra day than November. I have thirty one days and 50,000 words to write and this time I am going to revise the novel and redraft it and get it ready to be published. No more messing around with ideas and wondering if I am good enough to be published. I need to start believing in myself. I can be an author, no, I will be an author and doing NaNoWriMo is just a stepping stone on my journey to achieving this dream.

‘Love, Rosie’ Film Review

Critics are calling Love, Rosie a mediocre Rom Com with no depth or originality but after watching it, I have to disagree. Love, Rosie is so much more than what it appears, if you look deeper into the story, it will definitely steal your heart. 

An adaptation of Cecilia Ahern’s epistolary novel Where Rainbow’s End, the film focuses on two characters, Rosie (Lily Collins) and Alex (Sam Claflin). They met at the age of five and have been best friends ever since. The two characters face the highs and lows of growing up and deal with the complexities of love, life, family and friendships.

I have no doubt that the audience will be charmed almost instantly by their unbreakable bond but wonder if there is something else between them. The film is a little bit predictable at times but sometimes all you want to watch is a simple love story with relatable characters and an uncomplicated plot.

Missed chances, miscommunication and mistakes, drive the characters two apart and as Rosie and Alex try to carry on with their separate lives, a force always pulls them back together again. The sentiment of the film is sweet and I really enjoyed watching it.

Love, Rosie is a heart-warming and likeable film, give it a chance, it is a nice relaxing love story, perfect to watch on a Friday night.

Four Stars!

Letters To Emily

close up of hand holding pencil over white background
Photo by Lum3n.com on Pexels.com

I’m still amazed that I completed NaNoWriMo in 2014. I set myself the challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I completed it and now I feel like I am ready to write another novel. Writing 1:58 was an amazing experience, I finally finished a novel. It was a big achievement to actually finish something. 1:58 is technically a novella but it’s definitely given me the confidence boost that I need to move forward.

I learnt a lot from the NaNoWriMo experience, I found that discipline was extremely important and I learnt to turn off my editor voice in my head and just write. I really loved the characters in my story but once I wrote the finally word and ended it with a full stop, I knew that the plot definitely had to change. My original story fell flat and I knew I could do better. That’s when I started to plan Letters To Emily.

There were many different titles but I’ve decided to settle on Letters To Emily because it fits the idea I have in my mind perfectly. I’m still using the character’s Eleanor Hemming and Lacey Collins because I loved writing about their lives in 1:58. However, instead of the story being centred around two babies that were switched, I’ve decided to change it to a child that is taken.

Now, I know that the idea has been done many times before but there are a few twists and turns that I have planned to make sure that my novel stands out. There will be many different forms in the novel. Letters and messages will be embedded into the narrative and the story will not only focus on the lives of Lacey and Eleanor but their daughters Charlotte and Erin and let’s not forget Lacey’s husband Ben.

A big secret will change the lives of both families and I want to focus on how a tragedy can effect a family. I also want to write about the bond between mother and daughter and another layer to my story is how the internet has become an important part of our daily lives. Charlotte and Erin meet on an online chat room, they become friends and confide in each other about the daily problems that they both face. Erin feels disconnected from her mother Eleanor, they never stay in one town for long and she finds it difficult to meet new friends. Charlotte is tired of constantly being in Emily’s shadow, her mother is still obsessed with finding her daughter even though ten years have past. Ben doesn’t know if he can save his marriage and Lacey is either running her bookshop or posting in an online forum about missing children.

I am confident that this is the book that I want to write. I know that 50,000 words is achievable in 30 days so I shouldn’t have an issue with writing 80,000 to 100,000 words with no deadline. Of course I would love to finish the first draft of the novel by the summer, so I can edit it and make it better and hopefully get it ready for publishing by the end of this year.

My NaNoWriMo Journey

winner certificate nanowrimo 2014
I WON NaNoWriMo!

In September, I decided that 2014 would be the perfect year to take part in a writing challenge. I had plenty of free time and I was starting to wonder when my first novel would actually get written. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, hundreds and thousands of writers from across the globe take on the challenge of writing 50,000 words in just thirty days. It’s insane! I thought it was impossible but it really isn’t.

It’s been quite a journey and there were many days in November that I felt like giving up but when I crossed the finish line and I received my online winners certificate, it was all worthwhile. I now have a solid first draft to work on. I feel happy knowing that I have completed a novel, from start to finish. It isn’t perfect, there are lots of mistakes and it needs a lot of work but I’m proud of myself for actually finishing something I started.

There is no secret to being a great writer, you have to write. One word after another, you have to put all of your insecurities and doubts away and lock them away to an unreachable place in your mind. That’s what I did for the month of November. I knew that no one would read my first draft and it didn’t matter how rubbish it was, I just needed to write a full story. Now I’m already thinking of edits, revisions and plot changes for my second draft.

I’m really proud of myself, I have always wanted to be a novelist and now I know that I can be. Technically 50,000 words is a novella but still, it’s the longest thing I have ever written, my first novel attempt was about 20,000 words so this is a big achievement for me. I know I can write poetry and short stories but I wanted to prove to myself that I can write novels.

I will definitely take part in NaNoWriMo again but for now I am going to start revising my first draft… I’m so excited!!! 🙂

The Muse Has Returned

152039262

For a while now I have been leaving my novel alone, not intentionally of course. I’ve been avoiding writing all together. I don’t know why I do it. I love to write. I feel better when I write. I ignore my compulsion to write. Why do I depriving myself of it? I’ve figured something out about my writing process though in the last few days. I can’t focus on just the one writing project. I blame university for that. I got so used to juggling several projects at once, short stories, poems, scripts and novels that I can’t help but do the same thing now I have finished my degree (I got a 2.1 by the way, go me!!). So now I’ve started a new poetry collection from scratch, a new short story collection and I’m carrying on with my novel. I don’t understand the impulse I have to do this but it’s worked, my muse has returned.

Today I have written two poems, I have three new story ideas for my short story collection and I have started writing chapter nine of my novel I Choose Life and it’s only 1pm! Hopefully this will be the end of my writers dry spell and I can finally get something done. I love the feeling of finishing a piece of writing but I have yet to complete an entire first draft of a novel. That will change by the end of the year. If I work hard, I can get my first draft done by the end of December. Most writers claim that the editing stage is the hardest but I think I might find that easier than getting the story written. The problem is, I question myself. I think about all of the things that I am going to change once I get to the second draft stage and I really need to focus on just writing the story from beginning to end.

I need to believe in myself like I do when I write short stories or poetry. Anyone who claims that writing a book is easy, obviously isn’t putting their heart and soul into it. Anyone can write words but it takes a truly disciplined person to be a writer. Although I sometimes lack motivation and give in to the negativity that tells me that my writing isn’t good enough I know that I have the strength to eventually start writing again. There is no way that I am giving up. I will finish the first draft of my novel. I might decide in the second stage of editing that I hate my story and I no longer want to pursue it, if that happens then I will still be pleased that I reached the milestone of writing a 50,000 word draft of a novel.

I’m going to leave it there because I have to get back to my novel. Then I have to write another article for Women Make Waves. Then I might start another short story this afternoon. My mind never stops. I might need another two coffees to help me but today is definitely going to be a great writing day!

The Girl In Red

beautiful child sad-Lgirl in red


Antonia

Mi Bella. Mi Princesa. Mi poco Isabella. Gone. I could not find the right words to say. I spoke two different languages but I could not allow any words to escape my lips. Trapped in my throat, the words were dry, they cut my throat. I tried to say the words out loud to myself because I knew that it would help me. I took a deep breath and finally said them. My daughter was taken from me.
I sat with my eyes fixed on the front door. I was waiting for my mamá to come home. I knew that I needed to phone the police but I was afraid. How did this even happen? She was playing outside, my darling Isabella. I always sat in the front room and watched her play with her toys. She was perfectly safe. I would never let anything happen to her. They have to believe me, I am not a bad mother. I just wanted my Isabella to laugh and play, enjoy this new house, this new country. We came here to give her a better life, a better chance, more than what was offered to me. I tried to understand how my Isabella was taken. At first I thought she had managed to escape from the garden somehow. But, she couldn’t unlock the gate; she was only four years old, turning five in a few weeks time. Someone must have opened it. These were all assumptions at first until I ran frantically down the street to find her.

An elderly man was walking towards me; I asked him if he had seen a little girl. With dark hair, brown eyes, a red dress with matching red bows in her pigtails. He nodded softly and my heart skipped up into my throat at this revelation. He told me that he saw a white man in his late thirties walking hand in hand with a little girl of that description. He also told me that they were walking towards a parked white van but he didn’t see anymore. I thanked him with a hug and we swapped addresses, his eyes locked onto mine.
‘I will pray for you and your daughter.’
‘Gracias, Gracias, Gracias. God bless you.’

I wanted to stay strong but I couldn’t contain my emotions for much longer. Tears started to fall down my cheeks, as I wandered back to my front door; I grasped the door frame to prevent me from falling. My mamá Georgina was due back from the store soon. I was afraid to handle the situation on my own. Where was Mi Bella? It was my job to keep her safe and all I knew was that someone was strange was holding her hand. It’s a thought that I could not bear. I was breathless as I heard my mamá open the front door. She looked at my face, stained with tears, Isabella’s ragdoll clutched to my chest. It was a mother’s instinct, she knew. Something terrible had happened and I needed her help.

Georgina

It had only been a short while, living there. I and my chica moved to the states because we wanted a better life for my nieta Isabella. I knew when I got home from the store that something was wrong. The aura around my daughter screamed desperation, she needed my help. I clutched her hand tightly, my child was in pain and I didn’t know why. She took her time with her words, as I waited for them I held my breath. What had happened?
‘Isabella is gone.’
‘What do you mean she’s gone?’
Antonia was trying to catch her breath, I tried to calm her but she was breathing too quickly.
‘Sweetie, you need to calm down.’
‘She’s gone mamá. What are we going to do?’
‘We need to call the police, now! Did you leave the gate open?’
‘No we can’t. Of course not!’
‘We have to stay calm Antonia. I’m sure she just wandered off somewhere.’
‘She didn’t, I know what happened to her’ Antonia inhaled deeply.
‘What?’
‘Mamá, someone saw her when she was taken.’
Before we knew it the street was flooded with blue lights, the police had arrived and they were asking so many questions. Antonia and I were sat at the kitchen table, staring at the cold coffee swimming in our mugs. They kept asking us the same questions. Why were they sat here asking us? Why were they not looking for my nieta? The police man asked my daughter again if she knew what had happened. Her eyes were empty and distant; it was hard for her to accept. I was trying to be strong for her sake but inside my heart was showing the cracks of grief.
‘Madam, do you know anything at all that would help our enquiries?’
‘The man’ her voice was too soft for the police man to hear.
‘Sweetheart you need to speak up.’
‘The man.’
‘Did you get a good look at this man?’ the police man asked.
Antonia shook her head as tears formed in her eyes.
‘Officer, could I have a moment alone with my daughter please?’
He nodded and as he left the kitchen, I turned to Antonia and hushed the tone of my voice.
‘What’s the matter with you?’
Antonia’s expression was blank.
‘They might get suspicious if you don’t co-operate. I know the last thing we need is the police snooping around but you have to answer their questions. Do you want to find Isabella?’
‘Of course I do!’
‘Well, answer their questions and there is a better chance that they will find her. I will bring the nice police man back in here and we can bring Izzy home, OK?’
‘OK’ Antonia wiped away the tears from her eyes and tried to find some composure.
The police man asked his questions and she replied with every detail that she could think of. She mentioned the neighbour, the white van, the man in his thirties and the description of what Isabella was wearing.
‘She was wearing red.’
He wrote down the word red on his notepad and circled it a few times. Now that they had everything they needed, it was time to find our Isabella.

Jim

It was something that I did every day, my morning walk. I liked my neighbourhood; the people were always friendly to me as I passed by. But one morning, I encountered a grumpy sort of fellow with a young girl. There was something unusual about the way he was holding her hand, he was almost dragging her. I hadn’t seen either of them before, but there were always families moving in and out of this neighbourhood. He glared at me with his steel eyes when my eyes met his.
As he walked past me, the little girl turned her head. I vaguely remembered her face from somewhere. Then it occurred to me that I had seen her playing in her front garden a couple of days before when I was walking past. I didn’t act on my suspicion and forgot all about it until a woman approached me on Hall Park Drive, half an hour or so later. Her face was fear stricken; her eyes were wide with desperation. She needed help. Her daughter had been taken and it didn’t take long for me to realise that the little girl I saw was hers.
I then felt a pang of guilt. Maybe I should have acted on my gut instinct when I knew something wasn’t right? I told the police everything I knew. Hopefully my description of the guy would help with their investigation. I hoped that they would find that little girl. It was such a sad time. Nothing had every happened like that before, it was a really nice neighbourhood.

Isabella

I didn’t have my lollypop. The man told me I could have one. He promised me a red one. I said I wanted a red one cos it’s my favourite colour and it matched my dress. That’s where we were going, to get my lollypop. I think. I didn’t know any of these houses; they were different to the house that I lived in with my mamá and abuela. I liked that house a lot better than our old one. Our old one was tiny and I had to share a bed. I didn’t mind though, we always got to snuggle. Now I have my own bed. All to myself, my mamá says I am a big girl now so I don’t need to share. I do miss the snuggles though. I jump in mamá’s bed sometimes because I miss the snuggles.
I missed my mamá now. Maybe this man can take me back to her when we get my lollypop? I didn’t want to ask him, he had a frowny face. My mamá made the same face when I was bad. Did I do something bad? I only wanted a lollypop. My mamá didn’t like me having lollypops cos she says that all my teeth would all fall out. The man with the frowny face didn’t have many teeth. I think I had more teeth than him. His mamá didn’t tell him to brush his teeth like my mamá did, his teeth was yellow. My mamá helped me brush my teeth every morning after breakfast and before I went to bed, I didn’t want my teeth to be yellow. I don’t like yellow. My favourite colour is red. I was wearing my bestest red outfit today. I begged mamá to let me wear it. It was my favourite dress. I wish she didn’t put the red bows in my pigtails too tight, I want to pull them out. Maybe the man with the frowny face can help me?
‘Too tight’ I pointed to my pigtails but he ignored me so I shouted louder so he could hear me.
‘Pigtails too tight!’
‘Will you just shut up!’ his voice was scary and his frowny face was more frowny that it was before.
I didn’t say any more words because I didn’t want to hear his scary voice again. He stopped the van and looked at me.
‘We’re here.’ He held my hand tight as we got out of the van.
‘Lollypop?’
‘Yeah, yeah. It’s inside the house.’
I was excited about my lollypop but I was missing my mamá. I hope she doesn’t have a frowny face cos I didn’t tell her about the man. I will get my lollypop and the man will take me back to my mamá and abuela.

Phil

I couldn’t wait for her to go inside. She left her alone before. Why wasn’t she going inside? My hands were trembling with excitement; I was so close to getting what I wanted. Another beautiful little girl, and beautiful she definitely was. I was only watching her play in her front garden for a few moments. I wanted to make sure, to time it perfectly. As I edged closer to the house, I got a perfect view of her. Her hair was dark and so were her eyes. She had delicate Latina features, she was unfamiliar and this concept was alluring. I could hear the joyful laughter escaping from her mouth as she played with her dolls. I glanced at my watch, timing was everything. Her mother checked on her every ten minutes, almost like clockwork. If she was mine, I would never take my eyes off her for a second. I would give her the attention that she deserved.
My favourite part was watching them. I admired the innocence and delicacy of their nature, little girls faces were always perfect, undisturbed like a china doll. This little girl had rosy red lips; it was the first feature that I was drawn too. It was the day before that I spotted her. I didn’t want to wait but I knew that I must. I had to observe and make sure that she was the right little girl for me. I was a little bit too selective sometimes but I am glad because this little girl was worth waiting for.
The lollypop trick always worked. I never thought it would. The one time it didn’t work was a few months ago, when I lived in a different state. A little girl, with beautiful fiery red hair left her mum’s shopping cart to explore the sweet aisle. I waited patiently and offered to buy her a lollypop but her mother came around the corner before I even had a chance. I may have missed out on that little girl but this girl, with her foreign eyes and perfect red lips was a prize, another chance. She was easy to persuade but was going to be a handful I could tell.

I was almost at the house when she started complaining about the bobbles in her hair. It was always the little things. I preferred the quiet ones. The little girls that didn’t speak unless they were spoken too, they were my favourite little girls.

Antonia

Why was there still no news from the police? I sat by the window, watching cars pass by and people walking with their dogs and children. My mamá was cooking in the kitchen. How could she think about food at a time like this? I could feel the insides of my stomach growling and purring with hunger but the thought of letting anything pass my lips made me feel sick. I had a salty taste on my tongue from all of the tears. My chest ached with sadness.
I knelt down to pray. I placed my hands together and squeezed my eyes as tightly as I could; I tried to resist the urge to cry again. I put my heart and soul into my prayer. I told God that I would never ever take my eyes off Isabella again and I begged for his forgiveness. I prayed for Isabella’s safety and I hoped that she would return and the police would find her unharmed. My mamá entered the room. She had no words to say. She knelt down next to me and prayed for Isabella with her own thoughts. We helped each other up and she went back into the kitchen and brought back some paella on a plate. The smell made my stomach flip with excitement but my brain was forcing me to reject it. I pushed it away from me.
‘Chica, you need to eat.’

Isabella

I felt a rumbly in my tummy when we got to the man’s house. I wanted more than a lollypop. I decided to wait until we got inside to ask the man with the frowny face if I could have something to eat. It was darkerer than my house. Maybe he didn’t have enough lights? We have lots of lights in my house. My favourite is the lamp in my room. It had lots of colours, red, green, blue, red but not yellow. I didn’t like yellow.

I got to turn the lamp off all by myself when my mamá finished reading. I really really liked the book she read to me last night. It was a story about a bull named Ferdinand who liked to smell flowers. I like flowers too. Especially the red ones. Frowny face didn’t have any flowers in his house. He didn’t have many colours. Everything was grey, black and brown. Boring colours! I never had boring colours when I was colouring at home. I drawn a picture for my abuela of a mermaid and she put it on the fridge cos it was her favourite picture I had ever drawn. There was no boring colours in that picture.

I followed the man up some stairs. They were very big and hard to climb but I did it with no help. He took me into an even darker room and then closed the door and left me there. I didn’t want a lollypop any more. I wanted to go home. My eyes were crying cos I missed my mamá. I thought I was alone in the dark room until I heard a whisper and then another whisper. The curtain was pulled to let a tiny bit of sunshine in. There was another little girl and another. I counted on my fingers. Five little girls. Me. Add one. Six little girls. They had been crying too. I was only four but mamá said I was a big girl now. So with my big girl brain I counted. I cried. There was no lollypop. Was I going to see my mamá again?

Phil

I was in the kitchen, cooking my dinner in the microwave when I heard the new little girl crying. I knew it was her because the others knew better by now. I couldn’t stand the tears and more importantly, I didn’t want my neighbours to suspect anything. I paused the timer on the microwave and went upstairs; the room fell silent when I entered.

The foreign girl looked up at me. Her dark eyes were bloodshot with tears. They all did this, she will get used to it, just like the others. I didn’t have to say anything, my presence was powerful enough and I loved this feeling. They listened to me. They provided me with everything I would ever need. They were quiet, once they understood that I was in control. I was walking through the living room when I saw blue lights outside the window.

I pinned myself up against the wall and peered through a gap in the curtains, my palms were sweating and I could hear my heartbeat in my ears. The lights went past my house and once they had disappeared out of my sight, I drew a breath of relief.
I never experienced the feeling that I was going to get caught until now. Maybe this was one little girl too far? I was always careful with my methods. I was clever enough to get away with it. They wouldn’t catch me. I left no traces. But then, I remembered the old man and then I panicked.

As I was walking away from the house towards my van with the little girl, I noticed an elderly man walking in our direction. I looked down at the floor but I could feel his eyes scanning me, I gripped her hand tightly and got in the van. I looked in my mirror as I was putting the van into gear and he was still there, watching. I didn’t think of it at the time, only now as fear crept in my mind at the reality of blue lights passing my house. It might be time to move to a different state again. It would be harder to transport six little girls, last time I moved, I only had three. I glanced at the clock. It was seven thirty.

Isabella

It was very quiet in the room when frowny face had left. I sat down on the floor when another little girl with brown pigtails moved the curtain more to let light in. I then saw all the faces of the five little girls. They was probably the same age as me. The girl with the brown pigtails sat down next to me, she was maybe older.
‘What’s your name?’
‘Isabella’ I told her that she could call me Izzy if she wanted too.
Her name was Charlotte. I like that name. She was very nice but very quiet.
‘Why are you whispering?’ she put her finger on my mouth.
‘He doesn’t like it when we’re noisy.’
‘Why are we in this room?’
‘None of us know but it’s better than being in the special room.’
‘What’s the special room?’ I didn’t want to go there.
They all went quiet again; I could hear Mr Clock ticking on the wall. We had a clock at home, when I was three I called him Mr Clock and my mamá laughed at me. I missed Mr Clock. I missed my mamá and abuela. I wanted to go home.
The pointy hand was on the twelve at the top and the little hand was on eight when we all heard Mr Frowny face come up the stairs. All of the little girls were scared but I was scared the most. I hid behind the big curtain but my feet could be seen so I sat down on the bed next to another little girl with yellowish hair, it was curly and long, she started to bite her fingers so I did too. He opened the door and grabbed Charlotte and pulled her arm until she nearly cried. When she left the dark room, I cried and so did all of the other girls. We cried quietly. They wouldn’t tell me what the special room was but I didn’t want to find out.

Charlotte

It had been a long time since I had seen my mum. I was stood at the school gates waiting for her when a grumpy looking man offered to buy me a lollypop. I thought he was a daddy of one of the other kids so I followed him. It was only when he locked the doors of the van that I got scared. I was alone in a dark room and after a couple of weeks a new girl would arrive, scared like I was when I got there. I was six when I was taken by him, I think I am seven now. It was only three weeks until my birthday and I know that I have been here longer than three weeks. I was the oldest. Marybeth was a little younger; the girl he brought today must be only four.

I was used to Phil’s special time. I was the only one that knew his name, he told me to say it when he was hurting me. He told me that I was his favourite. I learnt not to cry cos he would only hurt me more. I closed my eyes and thought about my mummy. She must miss me like I miss her. Every time I hear a car come past the house, I hope that it is her coming to find me. Once the special time is over he puts me back in the dark room with the other girls. I sit next to the girl in the red dress, the new girl. She was so little. So scared. I held her hand and we all sat in the quiet dark room, waiting for someone to rescue us. Some of the newest girls had hope, but I was losing it. Was I ever going to see my mum again? Was I going to play with my baby brother again? Was I going to go back to school? I really liked my school. My favourite part was the colouring, I really liked to colour.

My belly had been hurting for lots of days now. Phil hadn’t given us food for a while and when it did it wasn’t very nice, but bad food is better than none at all.

Georgina

My heart shot up into my throat when the newspaper landed on the doormat with an unexpected thud. It had been twenty four hours since Isabella was taken and in that moment, as I saw a large faded photograph of her wearing her favourite dress on the front page the reality hit me. HAVE YOU SEEN THE GIRL IN RED? A young Latina girl aged four was last seen yesterday afternoon in her front garden of 74 Hall Park Drive. Police are looking for a white male possibly in his early forties, medium build, dark hair and stubble possibly driving a white van. Any enquiries contact Dallas Police department.
‘What’s that?’ her eyes were deep with naivety.
‘You don’t need to see it.’
‘They put her picture in there didn’t they?’ she was close to tears again.
‘Yes they did.’
‘Where did they even find that picture?’
‘I gave it to them chica. It was the most recent one I could find. Do you want a cup of tea?’
‘No, I don’t want a cup of tea. I want to go out there and look for her.’
‘Antonia, the police are doing their jobs. All we can do is sit and wait.’
‘I don’t want to sit and wait ma. I need to get out of this house. I need to look for my baby. I cannot stay in any longer and do nothing. Are you coming with me?’
‘I should stay here and wait by the phone in case the police call.’
‘OK, I will go out and look for her on my own then.’
‘Come on; be a little bit more practical now. Let the police find her.’
‘I can’t ma, I can’t. I have to go.’

Antonia

I left my mamá in the kitchen and went into my bedroom to fetch a cardigan; I put on my shoes and walked out of the front door. I had no idea where I was going; I just had to find my little girl. I walked for miles and miles until I realised I was lost. We had only recently moved to the neighbourhood and all of the houses looked alike.

I wanted to panic but then I thought about my baby, out there somewhere, with someone strange. I went into her room last night. Everything was undisturbed, the bed was made, I peeled back the duvet cover and got inside. I grasped her pillow and absorbed her smell. Filling my lungs with the sweet and familiar scent, it triggered more tears. Her favourite book was sitting on the bedside table and it pained me to know that I wouldn’t be reading it to her. I wouldn’t be able to see the wide eye joy on her face when she picked out her favourite colours from the pictures or the way that she laughed when I impersonated Ferdinand the bull.
It was that image that motivated me to find my way back home; the sky had created every shade of blue before I made it back to my front door. Mamá was worried that I wasn’t going to return; she kept pulling me close and telling me that everything was going to be alright and the police would find her. I went to bed that night and stared up at the ceiling, my eyes wide awake in the infinite darkness, I prayed more times than I could count until my body gave in and I drifted off to sleep.
I woke the next morning with a splitting headache, feeling like I didn’t have any sleep at all. In a trance-like-state, I went downstairs to see my ma. She was sitting at the kitchen table with two policemen. The first thought that crossed my mind was… Did they find her?
‘Morning Antonia, the policemen have some news.’
‘Is it bad? It’s bad isn’t it?’
‘Shhh, just sit down and we can find out.’
‘Why didn’t you wake me when they got here?’
‘I didn’t want to disturb you.’
I sat down next to one of the policemen and listened as they told us what they had discovered.
‘We have communicated with other police stations in a few different states and your daughter isn’t the only little girl who has gone missing. There are six little girls in total, including Isabella, that have disappeared in the last two months. We have come to a possible conclusion that these cases may all be connected. We are trying to gather as much evidence as possible to try and connect the cases. Is there anything else you could possibly think of Miss Vazquez that could help us with our enquiries?’
I had no words so I simple shook my head. My stomach twisted. How could someone do something like this? She’s just a little girl. They are all just little girls. I couldn’t do anything to help them. I couldn’t rescue my darling Isabella from the cruel man that tipped my whole world upside down in one moment. They would find him. They had too.

Jim

The little girl in the red dress was in my prayers every night, for the entire time that was she was missing. It was another ordinary day. My life was built around routine and ever since my wife died, I found great comfort in knowing what I was doing and what I had to do. It was a Friday morning and I was doing the weekly food shop in my local grocery store. I was walking down the fruit and vegetables aisle when I saw a hooded figure. He was quite tall, medium build, with a dark sweatshirt on with a hood. He was trying to hide his face. I decided to follow him. This was completely out of character for me but my gut was aching again with suspicion. Something wasn’t right.

He was looking at the same shelf for a few minutes. He didn’t see me. But I saw him. He looked in my direction and I caught a glimpse of his face. It was him. The same guy. The one who stole that little girl. My heart was tumbling inside my chest and I knew that I had to think carefully about my actions. I pushed my trolley to the customer service desk and asked them if I could use the phone. I dialled 911 and called the police. I told the staff at the grocery store to make sure that he didn’t leave. It was a dramatic blur of blue lights and police men marching into a busy grocery store. I watched as they pushed him out of the front doors, his hands bound together by handcuffs, his guilty eyes looking down at the floor. It was in their hands and my part was over, well almost.

Although my heart was still pounding from my encounter, I knew that I wanted to be the one to tell the mother. I arrived at her front door later that morning. Her face hadn’t experienced joy for days and I was privileged to be the bearer of good news. The police still had to question the man about the whereabouts of the little girl but I was optimistic that the nightmare was almost over. A mother would be reunited with her child and everything would go back to normal.

Phil

That stupid old man. I knew that my mistake would cost me everything. I should have stayed at home with all of the girls but I needed to go to the grocery store. The cupboards were bare and now that I had six little girls, I had to buy more food. It all happened so fast. I saw the old man. I tried to make a run for it by before I knew it I was handcuffed and thrown in the back of a police car. They can ask as many questions as they want. I’m not telling them anything. I knew it was one little girl too far. I should have stopped at five but I gave into my selfish desires. There was something exotic about the little girl in the red dress. With her dark features and foreign qualities.

I gave in. I did it again. I was too weak to fight with the voice in my head. It always won. This time it ruined everything for me. This was it. I thought about the six little girls in my house. Waiting in a dark room, I would never enjoy their company again. I would never touch Charlotte’s smooth skin and see her innocent blue eyes widen when it was her turn for special time. She was my favourite. She always was, until I found the little girl in the red.

It pained me that I would never get to be with her like the others. Why didn’t I take her to my room for special time instead of Charlotte? I had the chance and I blew it. I guess I wanted her to be there a couple of days before I got to know her better. I wasn’t a complete monster. She was still upset and I wanted her to calm down a little. I had a little bit of hope that they would let me go. They had no proof that I stole those little girls. They only had the old man’s word for it. Maybe I will get out of here? Maybe I will get to be with the little girl who escaped my love?

The interview had started. I was sat in a grey room with two people, a tape recorder and a ghostly air of silence. They asked their questions but I said nothing.

Decided to upload a creative piece of work that I submitted for my university course this year. This is a short story titled The Girl in Red that was my final fiction piece, I hope you enjoyed reading it 🙂