February 21, 2014 § 8 Comments


On the shortest day the rain came – flinging itself at her valley, blackening the earth. Water seeped up the brick path into her garden – last year’s grasses waving aimless as old paddy fields. She watched: her breathing too quick, too thin. Worms drifted, torpid, white, suspended; bees floated on their backs, spinning dizzy like coracles. The violence mocked and hid the stars, numbing her senses like a mantra. Then her spirit quietened, and giving in, she turned in on herself and ceased to see.

Her energy stripped bare, her body slowed. She grew the thick fur of a dormouse. Taking blankets, she made a nest and surrounded herself with books and warming soup. Lighting a fire in the hearth, she began to dream. Taking a pen, she wrote of things that no longer mattered – remembered events that could not possibly have taken place. Her consciousness became continuous: day and night fusing seamless. Nothing stopped, and no thing remembered to begin.

There was no brightness to touch or gather on those short grey days. Clouds hung heavy and full, pressing down on her like an unwanted lover. The river meadows became bogs that would swallow her, her trees poking out like sentinels, roots holding their breath for a sun almost forgotten. Rats swam mindless of the farmer’s gun, and swans gathered in loose clumps, wondering. There were no streets, no paths to roam. Only silence.

There was no one to explain, so she used her ears. Climbing the stairs to open the long thin window that faced the river, she cocked her head, holding her breath tight in her chest. No birdsong to justify, no swish of wind to condone, no sense of coming or going. Sounds that had always been there – telling all yet demanding nothing – were gone.

And as the waters stirred, she became indifferent, and her being grew light.

Inspired by ‘The Being Of Nothing’. Samuel Beckett. Blogged  17th January 2014.


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§ 8 Responses to Flood

  • Miranda Stone says:

    This is a perfect example of how writing can be both minimalist and beautiful. Every sentence here is necessary, Rachael–you have discarded any hint of superfluity. I know when I write minimalist fiction, I have to be careful that the sentences don’t end up too clipped or too similar to one another in structure. You’ve done a fantastic job of avoiding that here. I haven’t read Beckett’s work, so I lack the knowledge of being able to compare that to yours, but yours is an excellent piece. I can’t help but feel that this has a touch of magical realism as well. When I first read about “her” in the beginning paragraph, I thought of a human woman. But then when she began to grow fur, I imagined her as an animal. And yet she was tending to human activities, seeking out books and making soup. One of your major strengths as a writer is on full display here, in the way you’re able to so vividly and originally describe nature, such as you do in this sentence: “Worms drifted, torpid, white, suspended; bees floated on their backs, spinning dizzy like coracles.” Fantastic, Rachael. There was no need to be unsure about this one!

  • JessicaHof says:

    This was so moving, magical and dream-like. How you manage to convey that quality who can explain, but you do – it is a gift, and this is a poem in prose. A Beautiful evocation – almost zen-like. xx Jess

    • Rachael Charmley says:

      Thank you, Jess, and so pleased you enjoyed it. I’ve got myself into a regular meditation routine these last few months, and I seem to be able to slip into a very simple, focused state at will – sometimes – and this piece came out of that place.
      Very unlike me – as I’m a restless spirit – but very pleasant. Long may it continue because I like this kind of writing… 🙂

      Hope you’re well and happy. xx

      • JessicaHof says:

        I need to try that – although I suppose my Rosary is something similar; but I am such a bird-brain in terms of concentration that I find it hard.

        I love your writing, and here it is at its best. I don’t always comment because I am not sure I have anything to say other than that – and it probably becomes boring to hear that it is ‘good’ all the time 🙂 xx

        • Rachael Charmley says:

          I think it’s a question of finding what works best for you. The rosary is a beautiful thing and works for many. Bird brain? We all find it hard to concentrate- or rather not concentrate- that’s what we humans do. When I have trouble, I just accept that my thinking brain has just got the better of me this time and not think I’ve failed in any way. This culture of ours overvalues left brain thinking
          To its detriment. Gosh, that was quite a rant…;-)

  • This is stunningly beautiful.. Really inspired writing, bleak, evocative and magnificent..
    Sent from my BlackBerry smartphone from Virgin Media

  • Rachael Charmley says:

    Thank you, John. It didn’t get a lot of views – but that’s no criteria. Writing like this really seems to free me up. 🙂

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