Bottled Up by Krazmaz

Perhaps a good fifteen or twenty feet across, James’ platform was just one of many such little outcrops throughout the cave, albeit one of the few ones large enough to live on. The light from his fire let him see maybe two or three others but they were more like stalagmite than platforms, really.

He didn’t mind though. Life on the platform was more comfortable than you’d expect, albeit very lonely. James didn’t think he’d ever seen another person, or if he had he certainly couldn’t remember. Every day it was just him on his platform with his tiny hut and his fire and the silent, echoing sounds of absolutely nothing else. He was pretty used to it.

After gathering cave wood (which sprouted from just under the lip of the platform and was only moderately perilous to collect), getting his fire going and seeing to the essentials of life James would – without fail – settle down to write something. What he wrote varied, though he tried for narrative consistency in his story about an adventurous cave vole.

Sometimes he just didn’t feel like doing that one though, which was okay. Whatever he did he popped down onto cave-parchment, rolled up, slipped into his bottle and sent off into the cave dangling beneath the heavily repaired lantern he had for just such a purpose. He would sit and watch the little light of the lantern growing smaller and smaller as it drifted off into the cave before finally turning that far corning and winking out from sight. It’d be back.

Many years ago when James had been a younger man, he had once woken up to find the bottle on his platform. This had been a first for James, and he had been understandably surprised – so surprised he didn’t notice the sad, deflated remains of the lantern the bottle had ridden to get there until afterwards.

Inside the bottle had been a poem. He hadn’t even liked it that much if he was honest, though it had helped him get the fire going that one time. More, it was what the poem represented that hooked his interest. Someone else was out there! Someone else sitting in a cave James had always thought he was the sole occupant of. What was more, this meant there was a definite means of reaching them!

A quirk of the airflow within the cave – which was well-known to James – was a particular stream of air that ran more-or-less in a complete circuit around the known interior of the cave. Or at least that was what James thought. Given the darkness it was hard to tell, but his few experiments with it had seen a crude craft of his own design float off into the gloom and return the next day none the worse for wear. The lantern, he imagined, would fly much better. It did.

No-one ever replied. Whoever had sent the poem in the first place – and anyone else who might have happened to be in the way – apparently didn’t feel the need.

James knew they were getting them, too. The bottles always came back but they always came back empty, and there was no-way the parchment could just fall out. The first time this happened he imagined that their response would be forthcoming in another bottle. Perhaps they needed some time to write it but thought James still needed his bottle. How considerate of them, James thought.

But they had never sent anything. Some time later, he finally cracked and wrote something else. Eventually James stopped waiting and just wrote something every time the bottle came back. It kept getting opened and it kept getting emptied, and James continued to sit on his platform alone and in silence.

Maybe his messages weren’t good enough. This idea popped out of nowhere one day and stopped James in his tracks. Objectively, living without any real constructive feedback, James had no way of knowing how good or not what he was doing might have been. But now the idea was in his head. He quickly became convinced that it must have been pretty bad – why else wouldn’t they reply?

Not having a single clue what was expected of him, James tried much harder. Of course, he had no idea what this meant, so in practical terms he just ended up losing weight from worrying about his performance – which dipped. The bottles kept leaving and kept coming back empty, and James’ desperation grew as his frame shrank.

Maybe they didn’t like the vole. James could understand that. Now that he looked back over what he’d done, he could admit the vole was stupid. He could see why they’d ignored it. He’d have ignored it too. It was stupid. Boring. How had he not realised that before? He’d do much better.

Or at least he’d try. He thought he’d tried, but they still hadn’t replied. Maybe he was getting worse? He asked the cave but the cave said nothing. He was pretty sure he was getting worse. It didn’t help that his trousers kept falling down. They used to fit him quite well, now not so much. He made a belt but it stopped working after a while.

With his hands shaking so much it was hard to write. His fires weren’t as bright anymore either since he was getting so difficult to gather wood for it, and it didn’t help that he was just so tired all the time these days. Some days he couldn’t even gather enough energy to write. Not that it mattered. No-one ever replied. He doubted they even noticed, whoever they were, wherever they were.

One day, lying curled up by his dying fire in an effort to ward off the cold he always felt these days, James caught a flicker of something moving in the corner of his eye. With supreme effort he pushed himself up onto his elbow and peered up. His heart practically burst when he saw another, new bottle drifting towards his platform.

Dragging himself on his belly across the platform he frantically swiped at the bottle, catching it out of the air. Rolling onto his back he struggled with trembling fingers to open it and, after much effort, managed it. The cork rolled off the edge and fell away out of sight, but James didn’t care. Up-ending the bottle he held it with both hands and gave it a shake, watching the rolled parchment sliding its way out before plopping onto his chest. He unfurled it.

It was another poem. It made no mention of James’ vole, their opinions on James’ vole, their opinions on anything else he’d ever done or indeed any sign they were aware of him at all even though they clearly must have been. They’d been opening his bottles. He knew they had. James read it twice to be sure, then a third time, then a fourth through tears.

Maybe he just wasn’t good enough yet.

Letting the empty bottle follow the cork off the side of the platform James pulled himself over to his hut and fumbled around inside for fresh parchment and his old bottle to put it in. Sniffling, his writing barely legible, he forced himself to start something new.

He’d try harder. He had to try harder.


About Krazmaz

A rambling non-entity bereft of talent.

Ohh, I just love the messages within this story. You can’t write in isolation with confidence and clarity -constructive criticism will help to improve your writing, if you let it – and the stress that writers can go through when they worry about whether they’re “good enough”!  Check out more fantastic stories and follow Krazmaz here: https://krazmaz.wordpress.com/

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Demise and Rebirth

Did I give up in those moments
When the waves crashed over me,
The biting cold gnawed at my ear
And the wind sang songs so sickly sweet,
I thought the world had run out of letters?

Did I throw myself away
Like some discarded, empty wrapper
To forever be abandoned on the roadside
Never decaying, never leaving, until a petty criminal
Picked me up as part of community service?

Did I surrender to an onslaught of criticism
With no physical cause, nobody I could blame
But myself, and my mind, which encouraged
Me to shrink down into obscurity, so often sought
By the stories I never thought good enough to tell?

Somehow, I held on, though many times
I dreamed of the beauty of my non-existence,
The paradise of eternal sleep over life,
And squeezed through the closing doors of promise
That predicted stories worth writing again one day.

Distress

Quick and ruthless poetry. Great writing.

we are starlings

Who are you?
Who am I?

A swelling, cataclysmic ride

Pulsating, gyrating
Bend and contract

Pushing and pulling
Ever more in abstract

Who do we resemble?
Who are we now?

From the pale moon shadows,
Bleeding the cow

I can’t even fathom
The perfect One here

But I am just covered
And smothered by smear.

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Miss Understood by Mudiwa

I’m Miss Understood
You know me so well

Because you see happiness in my smile
You hear the music in my voice
You feel the warmth of my spirit
You admire the confidence in my stride

I’m Miss Understood
You know me so well
But here’s the thing

I don’t smile for me, its for you
When I speak, I speak for you
I give you all the warmth my spirit can muster
I carry myself as best I can, one step at a time

I’m Miss Understood
You know me so well
But heres the thing
You really don’t know me

But I don’t want you to feel responsible
It’s not your fault
You’re so good figuring me out
Or at least thats what I let you believe

I’m Miss Understood
You know me so well
But here’s the thing
You really don’t know me
And I don’t get it

Why can’t you see the pain in my eyes
Why can’t you hear the tremble in my voice
Why don’t you feel my broken spirit
Why haven’t you noticed the hesitance in my walk

I’m Miss Understood
You know me so well
But here’s the thing
You really don’t know me
And i still don’t get

How you can’t see I’m putting on a mask
How you dismiss me when i take it off
How you pretend you can’t see the real me
How you so casually overlook my suffering

I’m Miss Understood
You know me so well
But here’s the thing
You really don’t know me
And I don’t get it
How you make me feel so deeply misunderstood


About Mudiwa

My name is Mudiwa. I’m a Zimbabwean woman in my early 20s and the founder of MentalityZim, a project that aims to raise mental health awareness particularly in Zimbabwe but also in the world at large.

Visit Mudiwa’s blog where she blogs about mental health, depression, and how to help people who are suffering from mental health issues: https://mentalityzim.wordpress.com/


A huge thank you to Mudiwa for being the first person to submit to Let it Come from the Heart! If you would like to see your own writing featured on this blog, please visit the Submit page.

A Moment of Clarity

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Ah – what was it that worried me again?

My nagging questions have subsided
Over an afternoon teaching eager students, who
Met every single target with delightful glee;
Encouraged to go on, I am fulfilled,
New eyes looking at each classroom, thinking
That teaching has rich rewards for those who try.

Oh, it’s all a learning process, of course,
For every lesson has its challenges to overcome.

Clear as day, I see this job not as my enemy:
Let problems come and I will strike them down
Aware that passion comes from great achievement, I
Reach odds once thought hopeless to beat;
It’s time to embrace this chance to teach
The energetic children who have chosen me.
Yes, this does seem like the life for me.

© Laura Marie Clark

Excerpt from the book “City Of The World”

Please visit my author page and share in my adventure:
http://www.ctupublishinggroup.com/laura-marie-clark.html

A Moment of Doubt

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Am I missing something here?

My training was quite brief, it’s true
Over in two weeks; it’s little surprise that
My progress is a cause for concern.
Everything should have fallen into place by
Now – am I simply not cut out for this?
Teaching demands a more powerful ambition.

Oh, it’s all a learning process, of course
For how much longer, though? How much more can I take?

Do the others have these insecure moments
Of worry, thinking their skills are somehow lacking?
Underneath their confident exteriors, do they
Believe there are still countless improvements to be made?
The truth is, this might not be the place for me.

© Laura Marie Clark

Excerpt from the book “City Of The World”

Please visit my author page and share in my adventure:
http://www.ctupublishinggroup.com/laura-marie-clark.html

no longer lost

I love it when a poem makes me feel exactly the way I would in the situation it describes. This is very well done.

Eliot's Tears

fumbling with your bag
there is a look of desperation
that feeling that must wash over any addict
flipping through your belongings
looking for something
you were certain was present
only to find it missing

and then the panic
seconds stretching into moments
time that stands still to tell you
that whatever you seek
is not within your grasp
and you’ll have to do everything you can
just to replace it

and there is no question in your mind
that you will
you’ve already begun to plan
your return

and then the relief
as you fold over that last piece of paper
or unzip that last pocket
that you were
absolutely positively sure
you looked behind
looked in
and it’s there

and you’ve found it
and both the thing you sought
and yourself
are no longer lost

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Now That We Can Smell

When water forming at the mouth
Brought about as immediate reaction
To the scent that somehow came
Wafting under the gap beneath my door:
So strong, it promised to fulfil
My hunger; as I drooled
So my stomach rumbled in delight
Of pies and pastries, each one fresh
And ready to be eaten, they filled
The very air itself with ravenous desire:
Now that we can smell.

When foulness came along, on paths
Once rich with the aroma of flowers;
Man and dog in companionship, but man
Without a care for noses passing by,
Left the dog to do its business
Then wandered off without responsibility:
So I come along after, and obnoxious it drifted
Into my nostrils, a nasty, unclean odour
Hanging on the breeze, toxic presence
So I gagged on that which makes me live:
Now that we can smell.

When in a crowded gym, we worked
Hard to chisel ourselves into our desires,
Came pouring off bodies the stench of sweat;
So wrinkled up my nose and carried on
The dripping so profuse, it pooled down
Over my forehead, down my face, and
In waves of stinky perfume rose off me
Into the room to set the sense alive;
This one pleasant to me, productive smell
Clung to my clothes and skin until clean:
Now that we can smell.

But the most of all from my imagination:
I thought a rat, perhaps, though could not hear
It left behind the tang of strewn trash
Damp, decomposing, it occupied my lungs
Is unforgiving always, never satisfied
Until the funky inhalations make me dizzy,
So potent and ferocious, that not only
Dirt and filth do I associate:
This reek has come to mean some rotten
Performance before critics and their wielded pen:
Now that we can smell.


 

Author’s note:

After my last post on the Five Senses (Smell), Shiva Malekopmath asked me to elaborate more of using smell in our writing. While my initial interest in writing about the senses was to encourage more use of them, and not particularly in listing examples (in my opinion, smell is a very underused sense that many writers, myself included, don’t think about enough), I am happy to provide a little poem based around smell.

I’ve picked out some simple, common smells to use in this piece. The first is food, and a reaction to the smell of food. The second is the smell of dog waste interrupting a natural scene. The third is the smell of sweaty bodies in a gym. The fourth is an attempt to associate a nasty smell (in this case, rubbish) with performance anxiety, the implication being that people who suffer with performance anxiety can feel as though they are little more than trash.