The Need To Succeed

success

Energy and persistence conquer all things – Benjamin Franklin

I may have lost my way for a while but I now feel back to my old self. My ambitious, hard-working and motivated self that wants to succeed. I have so many projects and exciting opportunities happening right now that I haven’t even had the time to blink and really think about how far I have come in the past month.

Persistence is something that comes naturally to me. Sure, I can give into the temptation of being lazy for a day and say that I will do something tomorrow but in the back of my mind, it all keeps on turning. Like an old grandfather clock, my mind never stops. The hand always goes round and round and even when I don’t think I’m thinking about everything I have to and want to do, it’s still there, encouraging me to keep going. I have this ongoing need to succeed.

I want to update this blog as much as I used to but there are not enough hours in the day to achieve everything I want to and I have to learn to prioritize. In the last few weeks I have managed to land myself a paid part-time freelance writing job, volunteer at a hostel as a mentor in Creative Writing, sign up to be a volunteer at The Manchester Literature Festival and start my own online magazine Zest For Life. It’s in the very early stages but please follow the Zest For Life Blog here.

Adding to that I have a novel that is still stuck on 4,000 words because I haven’t had the time to focus on it. I am still writing short stories and poetry for collections that I will put together one day in the future. I still contribute articles for two online magazines and I also have this blog. If that wasn’t enough, I’m also signing up for a night class once a week, the class is being taught by a successful author who will be teaching the different ways to publish your writing.

I know I have a lot of things going on in my life right now but I like to be busy. The days were so long when I had nothing to do and no motivation to start anything new. Now, I feel my old self again. I am ready to take on anything life throws at me. I still think about the future but I am really in love with my life right now.

There’s a burning passion inside of me for words. I want to write. I want to be a successful writer. One day I want to be a successful author. I want an amazing career. I want to complete all of the projects that I have set for myself. I want to take every opportunity that comes my way. I want to succeed and I’ve decided to start enjoying every second of my life.

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.

Waiting & Wishing

photo of person holding alarm clock
Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush on Pexels.com

I’m always wishing for something or thinking about something I want. I know that I should appreciate what I already have but sometimes, I find myself stuck in an endless cycle of negativity and hopelessness. I’m tired of struggling. I just want everything to happen. Right now. I don’t want to wait any longer. I’m still waiting for the day that changes everything.

Why is it so difficult to see what is right in front of me? What is this selfish need that all humans have to always want more? I feel like I have fallen into the same trap that everybody else falls into. I have it imprinted in my mind that the only way I am ever going to live a happy life is to get everything I want. But I know deep down that none of it really matters.

I have a long mental list of things that I want to complete, I want to have lots of money and own expensive possessions, get my a dream job, be able to travel the world and possibly have a family of my own one day. But do I really want all of that? More importantly, do I really need all of that? Or is society’s influence so strong that I don’t know the difference between what I really want and who I want to be and what society expects of me?

Dreaming is an important part of living. There’s nothing wrong with hoping for a better life and wishing for good things to happen but when they start to control your overall happiness, it becomes a big problem. And it’s starting to become a big problem for me. I’m only twenty one years old, why do I feel this pressure to achieve everything and have everything I want right now? I blame society. I blame social media. I blame the high expectations that are set by others. I also blame myself for succumbing to this toxic way of thinking. I don’t need to follow any guidelines, my life is not going to be the same as anyone else’s, I need to start believing this.

I try and switch off and embrace the day, live my life and stop worrying about the future but it’s hard. None of us know how much time we have and I think that urgency causes this need to want everything right now. I want so many things. Maybe I should start focusing on what I need? I already have everything I need. I have amazing friends, a family, a loving partner and a home. I am more privileged than most but I fail to see how lucky I am on a daily basis. I am surrounded by love, I experience happiness every day but I don’t realise it because it is clouded by the pressures of the future and everything I have yet to achieve and material possessions I have yet to own.

I need to stop thinking of happiness as a goal. Life is a journey and finding happiness is part of that journey. I’m not always going to be happy. I’m going to have days that I feel so bad about my life that I won’t want to get out of bed in the morning and that’s okay because there are plenty of days ahead of me that I will experience joy and contentment. I might not be where I want to be right now but I need to start enjoying the present and stop fretting about the future. I’m not perfect, I’m going to make lots of mistakes, I’m still young and I still have so much I need to learn about this crazy and perplexing thing we call life.

The F Word

bright-future-ahead

Future. It’s a word that has been circling around my mind a little bit too much recently. My future seemed so far away a couple of months ago, as I sat behind a desk at university, I had it all figured out in my head. I felt optimistic that everything would work out and somebody would give me a job. Well it hasn’t happened yet. I just sit at home all day fantasizing about the life that I will have once someone takes a chance on me and I am earning some real money. It’s frustrating and I’m not the only one who feels this way.

A few weeks ago I applied for a job that I really wanted and I knew that I would be perfect for it. I aced all parts of the job application and interview and I had my fingers and toes crossed tightly for an email telling me that I had the job. Of course life never works out the way you want it to. I didn’t receive an email, a few days later after I contacted them, I found out why I didn’t get it. It wasn’t me they said. It’s another person. They had more experience than me. What?!

It was a junior position that I was applying for. Surely that meant you didn’t need any experience, it was a position to put you on the career ladder. An entry level position made for graduates such as me. I was angry at first because I knew that I was so close to getting the dream job and I knew that I would have to go back to job hunting and sitting at home bored. I am grateful for the many casual writing jobs I have done over the past two years, they have given me great experience and they look wonderful in my ever-growing portfolio but I need a full time position.

I have just graduated university and I should be feeling happy and I do, but this is the first time in my life that I feel really stuck. I’m waiting around for life to happen to me and I have no control over what happens next. I know people tell you that there is more to life than money or a career and you should enjoy the present moment but let’s be realistic here. I need money to pay for things, go out and enjoy myself and I can’t do any of that if no one gives me a job. I’ve applied for dozens of jobs since I finished my classes in April and the one job that I wanted I didn’t get. I honestly feel like giving up some days. Why is it so hard to get going?

I fear the future because I have high expectations on what I want my life to be. I’m not the sort of person who will settle for something because I have no other choice. Although I feel frustrated and fed up about the career part of my life, I know that I will find something. Maybe life has a different plan for me? I might want to be a copywriter but the universe might be telling me otherwise. I have to try and put a positive spin on my position because if I don’t, I will only feel sadness and life is too short to feel that way.

The future feels daunting sometimes and although the uncertainty of it takes me outside my comfort zone, I know that the future will be bright, no matter what happens. Sometimes you have to give yourself a little pep talk. Try to be positive and keep your chin up. I’m trying my best to appreciate the present moments instead of worrying about the future. To do that though I may have to switch my brain off, wish me luck!

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 🙂

Orange Is The New Black TV Review

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A beautifully plotted TV series with heart wrenching moments of truth.

Orange Is The New Black is the latest TV craze to spark controversy and gain instant fans. This comedy drama set in a prison was everything I wanted it to be and more. The writing, first of all is absolutely brilliant in this show. The characters are individual and I really liked the way that each episode focused on their backgrounds, how they ended up in prison and how much they have changed since their crime.

There is a diverse cast and some of the stories are lifted from Piper Kerman’s memoir ‘My Time In A Women’s Prison.’ The series began as a rich to rags story about the main character Piper and her ways of adapting to the prison life. Although I enjoyed the first few episodes, it wasn’t until the end of season one that my anticipation grew.

However, as the first season progressed and season two began, the main arc of the series focused on the conflicts between inmates and how their stories coincided.  I personally loved the character Suzanne Warren, often referred to as Crazy Eyes. She was a wonderful character with many layers to her back story and I am glad that justice happened in the end for her character in the season two finale.

I now have to wait like everyone else until next year for the next instalment of Orange Is The New Black, but after that spectacular season finale. I am left feeling satisfied and warmed by the surprise endings and the sweet karma that killed an inmate that definitely had it coming.

Watch it! I promise you won’t regret it.

Five Stars!

The Fault In Our Stars Film Review

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The Fault In Our Stars is the story of Hazel Grace Lancaster, an intelligent and witty teenager living with terminal cancer. Her parents encourage her to attend a cancer support group and it is there that she meets to love of her life Augustus Waters.

Hazel and Augustus embark on an ambitious journey to grant Hazel’s only wish, she wants to know how her favourite Imperial Affliction ends. After contacting the author and taking a life changing trip to Amsterdam, the two fall in love and enjoy every moment they have together.

I read the novel shortly before the film release, but knowing the contents of the story did not spoil the film adaptation for me it only enhanced the emotions I felt as I turned the pages of the heartbreaking novel. I often feel an aching disappointment when I watch film adaptations of novels I feel emotionally attached to but in this particular situation, the film amazed me with it’s similarities to the book. John Green stayed clear of the typical cancer clichés and approached the story in an original way, the film also achieved this.

The film is sombre in places but the balance is restored with lots of laugh out loud moments between the cute on screen couple. The chemistry was electric between Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort and many readers will agree with me when I say that they are the perfect Hazel and Gus.

The plot of the book and film isn’t anything exceptional but the story is character driven and the beautiful simplicity of young love pushes the story forward and keeps you on the edge of tears from beginning to end.

The Fault In Our Stars is a roller coaster of emotions and it explores the honest, funny and thrilling moments of being alive and in love.

Five Stars!

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Film Review

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Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is back with the second adaptation of The Hunger Games Trilogy.

Catching Fire is a wonderful addition to the first film and it has definitely stayed true to the book and true to the characters that the readers created in their minds when reading the series. I am always sceptical when I watch adaptations because most film makers ignore some of the important points in the book and leave them out of the film. Catching Fire was an exception to this. It was exactly like the book! The first Hunger Games left out a couple of key points but the film contained all of the plot points that were needed to tell Katniss’ story.

The story takes place in a futuristic place of Panem, where people live in districts and teenagers compete in a televised fight to the death called The Hunger Games. In the first book we are introduced to this concept and follow Katniss as she wins The Hunger Games alongside Peeta Melark (Josh Hutcherson), a boy from the bakery who also lives in district 12. The Capitol, who are in charge of the games were not best pleased with the stunt that the two young teenagers pulled and their act of rebellion would definitely come back to haunt them this time round.

President Snow, still in charge, decides to hold a Quarter Quell for the 75th Hunger Games, which means that victors from all of the games compete together. There are some new quirky characters in the second film, Katniss and Peeta fight, holding hands, pretending to be in love for the sake of both of their lives. This Hunger Games was set in a tropical jungle, the challenges that they face are even more dangerous than before. Catching Fire is a step up from the first, Mocking Jay is hoping to be even better. There are rumours that the final film will be split in two parts. I can’t believe that I have to wait another year to see Mockingjay in the cinema.

Catching Fire is an excellent film, the book, written by Suzanne Collins is equally excellent. The perfect young adult fiction series since Harry Potter in my opinion. Collins has created her own franchise, just like JK Rowling. I really believe in The Hunger Games franchise and I know that it will carry on being successful.

If you love the books or just want to see a fantastic action-filled exciting adventure then Catching Fire is for you. This film adaptation exceeded my expectations and more.

Brilliant!

It definitely will not disappoint you!

Rating 5/5

‘Shadowing The Sun’ By Lily Dunn Book Review

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A gripping, dark novel about betrayal, sexuality and the loss of innocence.

Shadowing The Sun has dark beautiful prose, unusual characters and a gripping storyline. Dunn is an excellent writer and I will definitely be reading more of her work.

As an avid reader, I read a lot of books and only a few books leave a lasting impression. I often finish a book, place it back on my shelf and I then read another book, without thinking about it again. Shadowing The Sun was a rare find, after I finished the book, the story and the characters still had a lasting affect. The emotional roller coaster of Sylvie’s story gripped me and I still had a lot of unanswered questions after reading the book.

Shadowing The Sun revealed the terrible consequences of neglecting your children. I was moved by the essence of the story. It was written from the perspective of 12 year old Sylvie. An inquisitive, innocent girl who craved to be loved by her father. The point of view switches from her twelve year old self to present day and it is clear that whatever happened when she was 12 was still having a lasting effect on her present life.

Dunn achieved a perfect balance of naivety and innocence in the tone of the narrator. Sylvie was visiting her father’s commune in Italy for the summer with her brother Sam and her two friends Max and Josie. Whilst she was there her father was neglectful towards her, her father’s friend Jeet abused her trust and Sylvie learnt that things are not always what they seem.

The story showcased the shocking truths of how quickly innocence can be taken and how one summer can affect not only the present but impact the future too. Dunn also captured the feelings of being a teenager perfectly, the story was gripping and sinister at times but also had some light-hearted moments too. What I loved about this book was how Sylvie wasn’t judgemental, which is real to how children actually are.

With beautiful prose, the author created a smooth transition between the flashbacks of Sylvie’s childhood and the demons that affected her in her adult life. At the age of twelve Sylvie was caught in the shadowy space between being a girl and a woman, Sylvie was fascinated by the behaviour of her father’s colourful friends. The men were like predators, circling her, touching her, and constantly commenting on her looks. Sylvie’s vulnerability and innocence shines through very clearly because she doesn’t see that it is wrong for them to treat her this way.

Towards the end of the novel, everything is revealed and we find out that that adults in Sylvie’s life failed her when she needed them the most. They were completely unaware of the terrible things that happened that summer in Italy which explained why as an adult Sylvie found it difficult to trust and love her partner Jack.

We discover that she had chosen a career as a photographer, which is her way of taking control – ‘Now it’s me who’s behind the camera, no-one has to see me. I’m the one taking the picture now.’

Dunn crafts the crescendo of the ending brilliantly – adding in subtle clues and hints throughout the novel. This book really got under my skin and I found it a compelling read, the story and the characters have stayed with me ever since. Shadowing the Sun is a perfect choice for those who love a gripping plot.

Rating – 5/5