Showing posts from 2017

Winter Rest...

A friend recently sent me a link to this wonderful article on the excellent blog, Writer Unboxed. It really resonated with me and reflected something true for the season, I think, which we tend to overlook. As ever, we should be taking our cues from Nature rather than our crazy hyped-up and currently rather unhealthy human society...

Here is the article for those of you who are interested in the idea of allowing our creative side to lie fallow for a season and embrace it.

Winter Rest

All our best wishes from Cafe Aphra for this Christmas season and the end of 2017.

Photo by Pavan Trikutam on Unsplash

Brexit Saved Me by Joy Manné

It’s an English party, on the remote island where we winter, and most of the guests are retired, like us. Our hostess greets us at the front door. In the living room, with its Persian carpets and paintings by talented imitators of Monet, our host encourages us to take a glass of wine. ‘So sorry you’ve been ill. I was ill too, you know. It lasted ten days. Flu.’

‘Laryngitis. I can’t remember the last time--.’

‘I’m never ill either. Champagne?’

He steers us to their long terrace.

It’s standing time; mulling time; drifting from group to group time; talking about the weather time; performing oneself time; sizing up and deciding who it’s worth spending longer with when we sit down to dine. As always the men and women keep apart until they have drunk enough. An exclusive group of men sit on toffee-colour cane arm-chairs at the further end of the terrace. One has even been an ambassador. The less important men gather in groups scattered along the terrace away from the VIP’s. What do retired me…

A little bit of winter motivation...

And our personal Cafe Aphra favourite...

Heart's Desire by Claire Macrae

The summer of her tenth birthday, Lucie’s family went to live in the woods.

It was her dad’s choice. Living somewhere beautiful was his heart’s desire, and Lucie’s too. She wanted Narnia, and this looked almost right. 
Her parents tried hard to make the house decent. An old man and his son had lived there before. The son was grown up, but he had a Condition. When the old man died, the son was taken away, Lucie didn’t know where. When she found out that her bedroom had been his, she was scared. Supposing he hadn’t really gone? Or only out through the wardrobe, into the woods. If he’d done that, he could come back. At night she lay taut and silent, listening for warning sounds: footsteps, the clink of hangers, his hands peeling a path through her clothes. 
She wished she could share a room with one of her sisters, but they wouldn’t have had that. They were both much older and Susan-ish; they didn’t want to live in the woods. They missed their friends, and shops, and places to go.
Too soon, …

My Desires by P.E. Cuberos

My desires are golden butterflies that I trap
in the cobwebs of my wisdom.

My desires,
blossom, ripen, swell, explode.
The seasons of my heart,
raspberry crests on the tips of my breasts

My desires,
sailors sailing to the magical cave,
in the depths of the rippling of the waves of my legs.

The singing of the sirens pulls and calls
to drop in and dive down
to deep and depth explore.

My desires
Wings that tickle with soft whispering tongues
My velvet-silk skin

Butterflies have a brief life
Raspberries rot
Sailors drown
grows old.

by P. E. Cuberos

The System by Olivia Jackson

“This is something that’s been a part of my life from the beginning – this sense that we can’t keep living this way, this drive to do something about it, to change the system. It was my mum, see. I saw her get beaten by my dad at least once a week when I was little. And then I saw her beaten by the system again and again. And every time she tried to get back up, to help herself, the police sent her right back to him. And the courts wouldn’t help her either – she didn’t know where to turn, how to get help. So she turned to me. I was only ten. ‘Mikey my lad’ – she called me Mikey when I was little – ‘Mikey my lad, if I didn’t have you I’d have nothing.’ And I took that right to heart. Well you do, don’t you, when you’re that age? So I took it on myself to protect her: just her and me against the world, that’s how it felt. I’d try and get between her and my dad when he was at it, take some of the punches for her. No way I was strong enough to stop him. Eventually my dad overdosed and lef…

An Afternoon in LA by Craig Hill

It was a bright and placid day. Eric sat alone on his deck, watching the sun creep across the San Fernando Valley at its normal, slow-moving-vehicle pace. Eric was bored. This was not unusual. Eric had been bored for the past 5 years, 4 months and 3 days, ever since he sold his interest in the Fatburger franchising organization.
Franchising had been fun for a while. Hooking new prospects and reeling them in had been more exciting than fly fishing, which he had tried for a while when he lived in Gunnison, Colorado right after college. Before long, however, convincing aspiring franchisees that they needed to commit to at least five outlets to make their investments pay off lost all its luster.
He made enough money by selling out that he would never need to work again if he did not want to. He did not want to. He tried a variety of hobbies. He set up a woodworking shop in the basement and made German beer steins out of recycled bowling pins on a wood-turning lathe. He took piano lessons bu…

language by Clarise E. Reichley

since i've been learning to contort my tongue into a foreign dialect 
language has deepened its meaning. 
i have to relearn how to say 'i love you'. and i am driving a stick shift convertible in the rain
i’ve driven wordless into a world rich with description.
‘i love you’, sounds so much less beautiful when you're unsure of the pronunciation.
without words to express my unknowing i trip on the gilded road leading to expression and i must teach myself the nuances of a smile placed on ‘love’, the emphasis on ‘you’, the stutter on ‘i’.
this freshness forces me into illiteracy and i am prepared only with an inexperienced, naive vocabulary.
stuck in the guidebook of mutilations so extremely different from the comfort of phonetic syllables.
who ever heard of someone reading a manual on how to say, ‘i love you’
i love you is a feeling not an instruction and this new version of affection

It's here again... the Cafe Aphra November Challenge!

Greetings all! 

So this year we thought we'd do something a little different for our Cafe Aphra November Challenge... a touch of tongue-in-cheek, a pinch of parody, something to make us smile in these dark and shortening Autumn days.

Ever wondered whether your favourite classic novel would get published nowadays? 

Well now's your chance to write that imaginary rejection letter from the publisher sent to the author of a famous classic, explaining exactly why their manuscript is unsellable, unpublishable or unreadable. 

Or, if you'd rather, you can try and 'pitch' your classic manuscript to a sceptical modern-day publisher and see what he or she has to say in response.

It doesn't have to be long, and you can either make it obvious what the classic in question is, or you can keep us guessing.

Perhaps this all sounds a little confusing... A parody of a rejection of a pitch?! 
What on earth does that look like??

Well if you want an example of what I mean, here is one from l…

Chasing Butterflies by Christopher Stanley

She remembers chasing butterflies across the freshly mown lawn, the air ripe with lavender, her dad drinking cider on the patio. She danced from bush to bush, carving circles in the sky with a fishing net made of bamboo and plastic mesh.

Thirty years later, she sits in the darkened corner of a hotel conference suite, her hair scraped back, her eyes hidden behind tortoiseshell frames. She’s surrounded by colleagues sipping Cabernet this and Pinot that. The man on the stage speaks with the wayward tones of someone who’s been drinking since lunch but she isn’t listening. Leaning into the microphone he says, “Which brings us to that most coveted award, Employee of the Year.”
She never caught a butterfly. Eventually she collapsed on the grass, exhausted. With a handkerchief from his pocket, her dad stroked the tears from her cheeks, saying “You tried your best. That’s all that matters.” Sitting her on his knee, he said “Don’t be upset. There’s nothing in this world more important than little…

The Bridge

I'm standing on a bridge. Not a metaphor, not the idea of a bridge, a real fucking bridge. It's cold and the end of my nose is numb. The drizzle is coming down as if it will never end. I look down at the cars, they have their lights on, even though it's daytime. That's how much of a grim day this is. They make that swishing sound as they go past on the black road. The air is heavy with exhaust fumes.
Tears course down my cheeks. I'm crying for myself, my daughter, even my mother who I hardly knew. The pain's all I've got left, my veins are full of it. My thoughts float up like bubbles that burst one by one. I'm worthless. I may as well not be here. Get it over with. I hate them all. Nobody cared. Just do it, get it over with.
I heave myself over the white painted barrier and stand there looking down at the cars swishing past, each containing a small world of people. It's making me feel dizzy and my hands are cold. The railing's slippery with the r…

Spilt Drinks

Morris was not at the hospital to witness his wife’s last breath, but no-one there was surprised. Not his daughter, Samantha, not his brother, Reg, nor his mother-in-law, Madge. They assumed Morris was drunk because he was a great drunk: great for missing great moments like his own church wedding—held a week later at the courthouse—like Samantha’s birth, and now Dolores’ passing.

Reg found Morris at home, asleep on the kitchen floor. Reg slapped his brother’s face. “Dolores died,” he said.

“What?” said Morris.

“Dolores died.”

Morris took hold of the kitchen counter and pulled himself to his feet. “So, I’m a widower,” he said. “I need a drink.”

“Don’t you dare,” said Reg.

“If I accept your dare and succeed, what prize do I win, Reg? Your respect?”

“Too late for that, brother.”

“How are the others doing?”

“Samantha’s a mess. Gloria’s mad at me for coming to tell you. Madge sends her spite.”

“And you, Reg, are you offering spite as well?”

“No spite. Hopeless pity, perhaps.”

“Yeah, well, pity’s an e…

No Brain Pickers for Her!

Outside, all is quiet with hardly a breeze amongst the trees. The late afternoon sky, accountable to no one, seeps through the mullioned bay windows in a lady-like shade of grey. Inside, Beryl listens to the pop of unseasoned firewood as it makes the final shift and crumbles into embers. She sits primly in an old winged armchair, legs crossed and fingers intertwined over one knee.

Without warning, a foul odor drifts through from the kitchen area that makes Beryl recall descriptions of the crawl space underneath John Wayne ‘Killer Clown’ Gacy’s murder house. Next moment, her exotically named date, Avocado, pushes his way through the shuttered swinging doors holding waiter-style at shoulder height a silver tray brimming with food.

He sits down opposite her in a mahogany chair with cherubs chiseled into the sides.

“Can I pick your brain?” he enquires, delivering his best Bela Lugosi stare.

In response, Beryl belches operatically. Breaking Avocado’s gaze, with her face set like an adversary, …

Bella's Serial Killer

Bella’s haphazard lifestyle was the reason she was still alive. She didn’t know it, but her serial killer was a very punctual, precise man with a strict routine. He spotted her some nine months ago, running across heathland. It was 8.56am on a Monday morning. Next Monday she appeared at 8.30am, the Monday after at 9.03am. 

Her serial killer noted these times in a little book and came up with an average. Not that ten minutes here or there really made much difference, but he liked things to be neat and tidy, as little room for error as possible. It was one of the reasons his career had been so successful and his work remained ‘unsolved’. On the fourth Monday she didn’t appear. On his way to the shops one Wednesday morning two months later, there she was. It was 10am. That screwed his average entirely.

At first it annoyed him, but then it tantalised him. Cat and mouse. So, undeterred, he returned to his watching place every Monday between 8.29am and 9.05am. One Monday she arrived at 9.10am…