The Revolution

“Lizard people, once a far fetched political conspiracy theory, has been confirmed to have a startling element of truth after thousands of people across the nation woke up this morning to find friends and family members gone, and numerous sightings of large lizard-like beings on the run. Mrs Cartwright was coming home from a night shift when she encountered three humanoid reptilians. Diane is with her now-”
I turned down the television and pulled my worn book from in between the sofa cushions. It was hard not to get distracted by the news, no matter how many times I’d heard it. We were warned to stay in our homes, keep our loved ones close and report any disappearances to the police. I was reading The Great Gatsby. A timeless classic, but not my favourite book. I used to claim, with a whimsical, hubris air, that the description of the party at the start of chapter three was one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I have ever read. It was half a lie – I was an English literature student who couldn’t name her favourite book and was desperate to find some footing in the forced conversations within the first term of university.
The reason I was truly reading it was to comfort myself because when I said that – spouted that bullshit in some ridiculous, long winded way – another student had lit up.
“I love that book! Don’t you just fall in love with Gatsby?”.
Ella. I sat next to her in the lectures we had together, shared hangovers over steaming lattes, read poems out to her whilst we laid out on her bed, and loved her, entirely. Our deep and incredibly personal friendship had blossomed over this precious little novel, and I dared not forget that.

That morning she had disappeared. Her and her husband were due to catch an 8am flight but when had he woken, she was gone with her phone still plugged in on her bedside cabinet and her belongings untouched. People were unsure, at the time, whether people were becoming these reptilian creatures or being killed or eaten or taken by them. I don’t know which would have been worse. 

“Your wife doesn’t love you,” says Gatsby. “She’s never loved you. She loves me.”

Realising I was reading the same line over and over, I gave up.
“Mark?” I called, shuffling my feet into his slippers and standing up.
I was met with silence.
A soft rustling came from the kitchen.
“Uhhh, Mark?” I tried again, my sense of reason dissipating as the news reports echoed in my head. Trying to be soundless, I peered round the door. My husband, not half reptile, was right there in his long, creased apron taste testing from the large pot on the stove, moving his hips and shoulders jauntily in some ridiculous attempt at dancing to the music from the headphones in his ears. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief, laughter creeping in at the stupid, lovely sight of him. Finally he noticed me stood there and pulled his headphones out, offering me a soft smile.
“Hello Darling.”


“Any news about Ella?” he tried, his face hopeful. 

I shook my head, trying not to think too hard about it. It was hopeless. We all presumed the worst.

“You don’t think she’s…?” my voice faltered. 

He considered it for a moment, and then shrugged, “I wish I could say no, Darling.” 

But your best friend is, in all likelihood, a giant lizard. Cool. 

I slumped into a seat at the dining table, the weight of the situation settling upon my tired shoulders. It didn’t seem possible. Every heartfelt moment we’d spent together couldn’t have been a lie. 

“Come on now.” Mark tried, bringing the wooden spoon over to my face with a coy grin, “Try this.” 

I couldn’t sleep that night. Gently, I placed my hand against Mark’s warm chest, and felt it rise and fall evenly. He was so calm. Did he dream? Was his mind totally undisturbed by the dramatic events happening across the globe, by the fear and grief apparent in every face he passed in the street? He still seemed so cheerful, despite it all. I mean, he knew Ella. He liked Ella.
Suddenly, a shadow darted past the open crack of our bedroom door. I jumped, recoiling my hand and pulling the cover up around my shoulders.
You’re overthinking. The stress is getting to you. It’s nothing. 

My heart beat heavy against my ribs, and nervousness rose like bile in my throat. 

Just go out there and check. Put your mind at ease. 

Yes. Clever. Face your fears. Gently, I pulled the cover away and stood up, avoiding the creaky floorboard that I had mastered locating after years of waking up earlier than Mark for work. 

I crept around the bed, watching my husband intently for any signs of waking. I reached the door and, composing myself, yanked it open fiercely, ready to confront my empty corridor. I went to scream as I found myself staring at a pale, wide eyed face, but their hand clamped securely over my mouth and suddenly I was being forcibly pinned against the wall. They closed the bedroom door with a swift movement and glared at me from beneath a thick hood. 

“Would you shut up!?” the intruder whispered sharply, and my nerves melted away as I focused on familiar eyes and that soft, caramel voice I knew well. It was Ella. 

She stepped away from me, sighing with agitation, “It’s just me.”

“Where have you been?” I questioned, trying to make my tone sharp but breaking into relieved laughter at the sight of her. She pressed her finger to her lips, indicating silence and gestured towards the bedroom door. 

“We mustn’t wake him, but we have to go. I know people who can help us escape before it’s too late. There’s an underground network-”

“What? What do you mean, escape?!”. 

“You can’t trust anyone anymore. I mean, Mark shows all the obvious signs of being one of them-”

“Mark!? Not a chance.” I argued. 

Ella took my hands in hers, running her thumbs across my palms gently, her eyes pleading with me. 

“I wish I could prove it to you. We’re not safe. He isn’t, well… who he says he is. Most people aren’t. They’ve been taking over for a while now. Has he seemed happy still, unworried, calm?” 

I thought back to the kitchen, the way he danced, as if it were a normal Tuesday evening and all was right. I felt the weight of the silence in the air, and knew he was still sound asleep despite it all.

I leaned gently against the door, torn. 

“And why do you trust me?” I whispered, “How do you know I’m not one of them?” 

“Well, I don’t.” she replied, shaking her head at how ridiculous it seemed, “But you seem true. You seem real. And I’d rather risk it all then leave without you. You’re like… my soulmate.” 

“Soulmate?” I repeated, my conscience swaying. 

She nodded, and the air seemed to thicken around us. Surely I would be crazy to run off, to run away from my own husband, because of one conversation? Then again, could anything truly be deemed crazy in a time of lizard revolution?

It felt absurd, too fantastical to be true. But I trusted her. I let her guide me down the stairs, out the front door, and into the depths of an uncertain fate. I sat nervously in the passenger seat of her car, and watched her lean over me into the glove box. It fell open onto my knees and within, amongst cables and old food wrappers was a well read book, the corners folded upwards and weak with touch.

The Great Gatsby. 

Of course.
I liked the word she’d used.
Soulmates, with their fates resting in each other’s palms, escaping absurdity, beating on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.


The Story on Her Skin

He lies in the dark, a spill of faint, pale light coming through the window to splash the top of the opposite wall. The room about him is a world of shadows. She lies unseen in the dark beside him, and he gazes at the imagined shape of her, a disturbance of bedclothes and, so faint as to be illusory, her soft breath. He watches her, though he cannot see her in the darkness of the room, for long minutes before she speaks.

– Tell me the story again.
– Now?
– Now.
– We should be sleeping.
– Please…
– I’ve told you already tonight
– I like to hear it.
– You only like to hear it because you know I like to tell it.
– Well, isn’t that the same thing?
– Ka-
– Please?

He sighs in the dark, but he knows she can hear the smile in it.

– Okay…

And so he begins the story.

– There once was a woman with a story on her skin, intricate beautiful images that told the tale of her life, her loves and her losses.
– Was the woman beautiful?
– The woman was very beautiful, and her story was beautiful. She had drawn it herself, you see, on parchment and paper, in pencil and in ink, and then a wise old apothecary-
– Tattoo artist.
– -apothecary… He traced the images she gave him onto her skin, writing her story…

The night is still, the world beyond the window silent but for the wind, within only his slow breathing. He considers for a moment longer, and then continues.

– Her story began at the small of her back, a single lily for her father, lost when she was only six. Then a swirling pattern of white feathers rising up, for the freedom of leaving home and seeking out her own path. On the left one of the feathers is a quill, tracing out the letter ‘P’, a sign of her first love. But from the letter falls a drop of scarlet blood, for her first broken heart. Between her shoulder blades a large blue orchid, for the passion in her heart as she ventured out into the world. At her right shoulder the feathers darken to black and coalesce into two ravens, for the thoughts she cannot stop and the memories she never wants to lose. Her story grows and changes with every passing moment, and she captures it all in pencil and ink on paper, and picks out those that matter most to paint on the parchment of her skin.
– What about her left shoulder?
– I’m getting to that, be patient.

She sighs beside him, and he hears her shifting slightly as he continues.

– At her left shoulder is the newest part of her story. On that pale, smooth field of skin a tree grows, a cherry tree for the love that she has found. It is a young tree but strong, its delicate branches topped with pink blossoms. The branches and blossoms stretch out onto her shoulder and the top of her arm. The tree is the only part of her story that she did not draw herself. It was drawn by the man whose love it represents.
– Why didn’t she draw it?
– It was her gift to him. The greatest gift she could have given.
– Why?
– It was the chance to help tell her story, to write it permanently on the parchment of her skin. Permission to be a part of her, forever. It meant more to him than she could ever know.
– A cherry tree…
– With blossoms of pale pink. The tree looked as though it were swaying in the wind, and at the tip of the branch that touch the top of her arm, a blossom was blown free, caught in ink as it drifted over her skin.
– A single blossom?
– To begin with. But as the years passed their love grew and strengthened, and each year she added a new blossom, tracing down her left arm.
– A blossom for every year? How many were there?

In the darkness he reached out a hand toward the mound of covers, his fingers seeking out her pale skin. But as before, as it had been for years, they found nothing beneath the cloth; he was alone in the dark. He sighed as he lay down, in the bed that had been too big for too long now. From the shadows of the room, he thought he heard once more her last imagined question.

– How many were there?

He closed his eyes against the darkness and memories, and whispered his response to the night.

– Not enough.

© Matt Beames 2019

Love is the Sharpest Knife

Jack looked up at glorious expanse of stars spread out above him. It looked like diamonds cast carelessly over a black velvet sheet by some unknowable giant, or a god. Jack laughed and rubbed his face. He didn’t believe in giants, or gods for that matter. He was a man of science. A man who believed in measurable facts. He wondered idly if that was what had brought him here to the top of the tallest building in town on this particular freezing December night. A chance to reach out and try to find something out there, something bigger than himself.

“If you’re there God give me a sign,” called Jack. His voice echoed between the towers for a second before it was whipped away by the biting wind. The world remained silent. If there was a god he wasn’t talking. Jack didn’t feel the irresistible pull of faith, that warm sense that he was loved unconditionally. No, if anything he felt small… cold… He felt… alone. He sighed, a cloud of breath appearing then slowly dissipating, fading into the ether like so many of his dreams. He rubbed his gloved hands together and contemplated what to do next.

My body is a cage that keeps me from dancing with the one I love. My mind holds the key.

Jack started as Peter Gabriel’s soulful voice spilled out of his jeans into the night air. He fumbled in his pocket, gloves and thick coat making his movement slow and clumsy, before finally managing to extricate his mobile. He tapped at the screen but the music continued to play.

My body is a cage that keeps me from dancing with the one I love. My mind holds the key.

“Gloves Jack you muppet,” he muttered before jamming a glove into his mouth and pulling it off with is teeth. He tapped the screen and wedged the phone between his shoulder and his ear while he pulled his glove back on.


“Jack?” came the voice on the other end of the line, a note of relief in their voice. “I thought I’d lost you for a minute there I’m sorry about that I don’t know what happened.”

“I don’t get great signal here so I’ve come outside, it should be fine now.”

“Great. Where were we I forget?”

“We were just talking about Sarah.” Just saying her name seemed to push back the dark and the cold. He felt a small ball of fire settle in his stomach warming him. That was love. The kind that you read about in books. Love that enabled a middle aged woman to lift a car off her child or husband dive in gunman and take a bullet for his wife, knowing full well that he would die. It could even made you warm when it was cold outside; the soul warming the body.

He let out a long breath sending out a cloud of while smoke like Smaug the dragon. “Do you The Hobbit is her favourite book? I think when she told me that was when I knew for the first time that I loved her. I mean I’d known for a while unconsciously but I’d never really thought about it specifically you know?”

“Well, it is a classic.”

“She’s never afraid to have an opinion that people disagree with. She’s strong like that. I always admired that about her. Never afraid to make the hard decisions…”

“You make her sound like some kind of angel but it can’t all be peaches and cream. I mean my husband is wonderful sure enough but he snores like someone is pushing a Mini full of raccoons through a wood chipper.”

“Nothing leaps to mind. I mean she’s not perfect but I also know she’s the one…”

“I don’t go in for all that ‘the one’ stuff myself. I mean I thought my first boyfriend was the one, then my second I was convinced he was and well after my third I realised there is no ‘the one’. There’s a great song by Tim Minchin…”

“I bought a ring you know,” Jack interrupted feeling the sturdy weight of the box in his pocket. “I’ve had the whole thing planned for weeks. Meal in town. Nothing too fancy I don’t want to give the game away. A few drinks in that swish new cocktail place in town and then I’ll bring her up to the roof to watch the fireworks. Did I tell you we had our first kiss right here on this spot five years ago on new years day?”

“Wait you’re on the roof?”

“This exact spot,” continued Jack not seeming to notice the interruption. “I remember it like it was yesterday. She was radiant, long red hair that ran down he back in waves. Bright blue eyes with just a twinkle of mischief and that dress… Wow. I thought I was happy before I met her you know. Hanging out with my friends, playing games and watching the football but after that night I really was happy. It’s like there was this whole new level of happiness that people had been keeping from me. Now that is love.”

“Do you want to talk about what happened?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well the fireworks start in a a couple of minutes and I doubt you’d have called me if you were up there snuggling with Sarah.”

Jack let out a long breath the fire in his stomach guttering. He felt the cold pressing in on him again . A leaching cold that sapped the vitality right out of him. His legs felt weak but he forced himself to stay upright. If he sat down he might never get up.

“It didn’t quite go to plan,” he laughed a bitter laugh. “I could tell something was bothering her at dinner, she hardly touched her food. So I asked her what the matter was. And she told me.”

“Told you what?”

“It wasn’t working. I didn’t make her happy anymore.” Anger and pain fought in Jack and his voice broke as he talked. “She was leaving. ‘It’s just something that I have to do’ she said. We can still be friends. Friends?”

Tears ran down Jacks cheeks. Icy lines that dripped onto his jacket with a steady drop, drop, drop.

“Look Jack,” came the voice after a few moments of silence. “I know it feels terrible now. The actual worst. But believe me I know from long experience it can and does get better.”

“It was supposed to be a new start you know,” replied Jack. “A new year a new us.”

“It still can be. A new year a new you. The world is full of new opportunities we just have to be willing to take them. And sure you might get burnt but you get up and do it all again because at the end of the day that is what life is about. Getting up and going again and eventually your patience will be rewarded.”

Down the street Jack heard the shouts of the crowd as the countdown to the new year began.

“Five. Four. Three.”

“Jack are you still there?”

“Two. One.”


Fireworks exploded across the sky and the crowd erupted with cheers, whistles and shouts. The new year was here.

“OK. Time to go.”

“Wait Jack I…” Jack clicked off the phone and stuffed it into the pocket of his jeans. All around him, fireworks flashed sending trails of blue, green and gold across the sky. Even up here he could hear the cheers and the drunken chorus of Auld Lang Syne. It was a new year. A chance for a new start. He felt the pressure in his chest lift and for the first time that night his breath came easily. He smiled and took a step forward into his new life.

My body is a cage, that keeps me from dancing with the one I love. But my mind holds the key
My body is a cage, that keeps me from dancing with the one I love. But my mind holds the key
I’m standing on a stage of fear and self-doubt. It’s a hollow play but they’ll clap anyway.
I’m living in an age, that calls darkness light. Though my language is dead still the shapes fill my head.
I’m living in an age, whose name I don’t know. Though the fear keeps me moving still my heart beats so slow.
My body is a cage. We take what we’re given, just because you’ve forgotten that don’t mean you’re forgiven.

I’m living in an age that screams my name at night but when I get to the doorway there’s no one in sight.
I’m living in an age where I realise I’m dancing with the one I love but my mind holds the key
You’re standing next to me.
My mind holds the key.
Set my spirit free.
Set my spirit free.
Set my body free.
Set my body free.
Set my body free.

Getting dumped sucks balls; massive, hairy balls, but unless you’re also being eaten by zombies things can and generally do get better. If you’re at the end of your rope it’s always better to talk to someone, a problem shared is a problem halved and all that. Here are some numbers you can call for free and talk to someone who will listen without judgement:

Call 116 123


May’s shoe box flat was icy on that February morning and she simply could not stand the idea of pulling the duvet back. The steely ring of the alarm on her phone blared on for a minute or so before she let out an almighty, defeated groan and reached her hand out from the warmth to turn it off.
May hated Mondays. She was an ‘aspiring’ writer, which meant she wrote all the fucking time but just never got any bloody recognition for it, which further went on to mean she had to work five days a week at a dingy little coffee shop that had been choked up on the corner of the market a block from her flat. She enjoyed writing about sunsets and parties and wonderful colourful worlds. The grey mix of customers that would appear in the store, losing the camouflage of the dirty grey pavement for a moment to stare right through her and buy overpriced, bitter coffee never inspired her, funnily enough. 

Ginny, in contrast, was up early, flinging open the door to her wardrobe and collecting her long black jacket with bright enthusiasm. By now, she thought, May would be getting ready too, pulling on that ghastly bright yellow raincoat she had seen in the picture supplied in the case file. She was a pretty thing, this May, with a head of curls and a scattering of forget-me-not freckles. Ginny was excited to meet her.

When Gin arrived at the coffee shop, May was running down the road with her yellow coat billowing behind her, late for her shift. Smirking, Gin took to patiently reading the menu, stood outside the window and glancing across the range of drinks with a detached interest. 

“I definitely recommend the chai latte Ma-am, today only it gets you two stamps on your loyalty card.” May sang, out of breath as she fiddled with the key in the lock and let herself into the cafe. Ginny jumped, her gut lurching at the sound of May’s voice, undoubtedly aimed at her.
“What?” she whispered, turning around as if on a wire, mouth forming a perfectly shocked ‘o’ as she raced to follow the young girl into the store. She felt her cheeks burn red as the young barista stopped to look directly at her face.
“Uhhh. the chai latte. It’s.. it’s good.”

Suddenly, the coffee machine exploded, as May’s case file had said it would, at 8.36am. The explosion rang out as the the plastic casing shattered in a brilliant, fiery blast.

A huge shard of sharp plastic came straight for May’s lovely, lovely face.

Gin was staring, watching it all happen, a lifetime seeming to rest itself in those few precious seconds. She just couldn’t help it. Within a moment she had tackled the poor girl to the floor and out of harm’s way.

“Oh, fuck.” she hummed, rolling off of her immediately and stumbling to her feet, “I’m so sorry. I should not have done that.”
“You saved my life” May breathed, trying to collect her breath in loud rasps, “You just saved my life”.
“Oh shit, I did, didn’t I? Oh that’s shit, oh fuck, so much fucking paperwork.”

You see, no one usually spoke to the Grim Reapers unless they were, well, dead. Which May would have been at roughly 8.38am, if the Grim Reaper assigned to collect her hadn’t intervened. She was meant to die almost immediately due to a bleed on the brain created by harsh damage to her frontal lobe.
Gin wasn’t meant to get involved.

That was the punishment. No one ever became a Grim Reaper by being good. She didn’t remember even a fraction of her past life but whatever she had done, she was now paying for it with an eternity of solitude. No one ever saw Grim Reapers until death and the only conversation Ginny had received for hundreds of years were the dribbles of conversation she had grasped at in accompanying souls to their next life.
And then there was May.
Ginny had heard the rumours in the spaces between life and death, fragmented whispers passed from other Grims. The cliche of the one true love breaking the ‘spell’. The fairy-tale love story. There’s one person that can see a Reaper and give them a shot at normality and love.
She’d laughed it off.

And then there was May.

She was picking herself up off the floor now, her pink lips split and swollen. Her blonde curls were all in disarray, curling upwards in little funfair loops. 
Gin instinctively reached out her hand and helped her up.
“Are-are you okay?” she mumbled, still gripping onto the other’s slim fingers.
May remained silent, her eyes scanning gently across Gin’s startled face.
“You aren’t hurt at all.”
Grim Reapers sit at the doorstep of death everyday – acquiring injuries at every small explosion just wouldn’t be ideal. Gin smiled and shook her head dismissively, “You’re bleeding, you know.” 
“Funnily enough, I’ve never felt more alive.”
Gin laughed in disbelief, “I know what you mean.”


They bustled through the door; the daughter ushered into her seat, the mother fumbling with bags, neither looking especially comfortable at the prospect of being here which is generally how most people enter my office. I glance down at her record: fifteen, vaccinations up to date, no significant illnesses or concerns thus far, though prone to influenza. I look up at them mechanically with a smile that I hope doesn’t appear as rehearsed as it is.

“What seems to be the problem?”

A full silence sits between them. Mother elbows daughter, making wide-eyed encouragement and receiving very little back. I lean into my desk slightly, an attempt at closeness across the vast expanse between us.

“There’s no need to be embarrassed, I guarantee whatever you have to say I’ll have heard a thousand times before.”

Her insecure gaze catches mine a moment and darts away. I look across at the stern-faced mother and back again.

“Maybe you’d be happier if we talked privately?”

“I’m in love.” The statement hung heavy in the air and while a tension remained stretched across her shoulders I could see a fraction of relief seeping out of her; the first hurdle successfully jumped.

“OK, well, first of all, you did the right thing coming to see me,” I offer in as soothing a voice as I can muster, “It takes a great deal of courage to acknowledge it, let alone say it out loud. Now, if I may, I have a few questions, is that alright?”

She shifts in her chair, legs and arms unfurling ever so slightly, and nods for me to continue. I pick up my pen and let it hover over the paper, the questions appearing stacked in my mind.

“OK. When did you first start to feel like this?”

She thinks, her eyes darting, replaying memories, searching for the beginning, “a few months ago I guess.”

Her mother’s eyebrows are momentarily lost in her hairline. I shoot a glance at her, one that says ‘do not startle the deer’ and she looks away. I return my attention to the daughter, carefully probing further.

“Was there anything in particular that triggered it?”

She stumbles over words, trying to find the right ones, “I dunno I… I guess I first noticed this day in maths. These guys were being rude to me and he told them to shut up and I… I guess I didn’t think he even knew who I was before then.” A gentle smile crept in at the corner of her mouth, her eyes glazed with memory, while her mother feigned something in her eye to wipe away a tear.

“So this love, how would you categorise it?”

Her brow furrows, “What do you mean?”

“Love comes in many forms,” I explain patiently, “Familial love for a parent or sibling, love for a close friend or kindred spirit, romantic love, love of consumables such as foods, love of a place or object such as books…”

“Romantic,” she interjects, her cheeks turning a soft rose, “this one is romantic.”

“This one?!” The mother, who’s lips have remained pursed until now, flails dramatically as if she were aboard a sinking ship.

“I don’t mean it like that, it’s just him,” the daughter huffs, tired of a cyclical argument that I imagine has been going on a while to bring them to this point.

“What do you mean?” I pose calmly.

“This instance of love.”

The air thickens to the point of choking but I press on. “So you’ve had more than one instance?”

She looks between the two of us, furrow returned, “Well, obviously.”

“Which kind?” I press.

She falters, the momentary confidence waning, “All of them…”

I nod and scribble a note on my pad, doing my best to keep a supportive smile on my face, “And these other affectionate feelings, they started when?”

She looks between us as if waiting of a punchline. “Always.” She turns to her mother to be greeted only by a cold shoulder, “Are you…are you seriously saying you don’t love me?”

I hold the tissue box out and the mother tugs at them; one, two, three.  The daughter’s cheeks puff with stone, fighting back the salty sting at the corners of her eyes.  “Mum?”

Breathing deep she turns to her daughter, the first moment of genuine eye contact during this whole visit.  To the naive eye I can see where the girl will have gotten the idea from, many of the surface signs of love are there, but then that is what I’m trained to spot.

“Mina it’s different,” the words fighting through breath, through the harsh realization that her daughter has been battling this unnoticed for so long.

“It’s true,” I find myself chiming in, “Chemically you are flooded with an excess of oxytocin, probably increased adrenaline and norepinephrine too, we’ll do some test to determine what exactly your imbalance is so we can get you on the best treatment programme.  Your mother…”

“Treatment programme?” her words cutting, “I don’t need treatment, there’s nothing wrong with me!”

“But you just said…”

“She dragged me here this isn’t….You can’t be being serious!!”

“I’m afraid I am, Mina.  What you’re experiencing…it’s not normal.  But it’s ok, it’s just a chemical imbalance.  We’ll have you right as rain in no time.”

New year; Who dis?

Hello, lovely ones!

It’s new year, and the gang are throwing in their Second Chance pieces, now available to vote for at the Voting Page

This month, as the hand in will be the beginning of February, let’s revolt against Van Halen and actually talk about Love. Yes, this month’s theme is going to be Love, and what a lot of fun we’re going to have looking at the dark brood that I call my writers this year.

So, short and sweet as I’ve been trying to write everything this weekend, please find this month’s Example piece below:





Sitting like a grubby jewel on the expansive cliff face known as The Sword Coast, Waterdeep could be argued to Faerun’s New York City. Deep in the hustle and bustle of the manically packed streets of hawkers and hookers, shoppers and shops, stands the less than famous than some of its competitors tavern; The Sunken Shoe. As the metaphorical camera of narrative starts to get slightly travel sick, we take one last swoop into The Sunken Shoe to reveal a grubby interior, sides caked in dust, so are some of the patrons. Behind the bar, a Drow (an Elven race that prefer darkness to light; think Goth kids) cleans the solitary surviving glass owned by the bar as the customers now have to drink out of the cheaper and more durable wooden tankards. Anyway, ignore Thomas, we’re not interested in him. Moving along the bar towards the booths near the end of the room, we find the two patrons that aren’t sleeping sat in one of the booths and deep in their cups. A white scaled male Dragonborn (Humanoid-Dragon person. The result of if a dragon and a human got their Marvin Gaye on…) wearing thick armour, speckled with bullet wounds and holes, and a Dwarven man with short brown mohawk and beard running down into singed ends, wearing a flannel shirt and jeans sit swaying slowing in the seats. The shorter of the two lifts a finger and aims at one of the three dragons he can see sitting across from him:

“Balthazar, I have a question,” his thick Scottish accent straining against the alcohol and thought process that are waging war in his mind. “What is love?”

The Dragonborn sat stoically for a moment, either dazed from his drink or trying to look like he were in deep thought, before belching loudly; a cloud of frosty air wafting from his nostrils.


The two sat in silence for a moment before the dwarf burst into raucous laughter. Balthazar’s smile slowly crawled across his lips like a night worker slowly slipping into a morning’s embrace.

“Snowball, your wit is as sharp as your sword,” the Dwarven drinker chuckled, calming himself back to the conversation. “But seriously, what is it like? How do you know?”

Balthazar cleared his throat and leaned forward, his face growing serious and the closest to sober it had looked in years.

“Grimnir, in your luxury you have not had to experience it, and I suggest you keep it that way. I only half joke when I say it is painful, for it really is.”

“I wouldn’t call it luxury,” Grimnir protested. Balthazar waved him off with a smirk.

“You know what I mean.” He pauses for thought before continuing. “I once loved a woman, she was big and boisterous, stronger than an ox. We flirted a little, before we were separated and I promised to bring her War Hammer back to her. Months I searched for a way to return, and finally found myself in the way as she tried to save the world. We spent several nights together, and she confided in me when I thought I were mere distraction. And then she left; suddenly and without warning. I was informed she had gone to another plane of existence, so I waited. I was killed in battle, and revived, and still I waited. When she finally returned after nine years, so did my happiness. But, as you are well aware, we are not designed for happiness. So when I finally tried to prove my worth to her, show her that I was strong enough to stay, she beat me to a pulp and left me for fear that she’d kill me if she didn’t.”

The two sat in silence again. Grimnir cleared his throat.

“I’m sorry to hear of your loss in my absence, old friend” Grimnir said with a sense of searching for the right words, “but that is just one story in a book full of many different endings.”

Balthazar barked a laugh. “That’s easy for you to say, as a man who has been around long enough to see a few chapters written. How have you, a man who has experienced centuries, never felt love?”

Grimnir shifted awkwardly in his seat. “You know that my line of work means that I have little in the way of feelings other than anger, resentment, and many other bad things. I think I’m starting to understand a new feeling.” He chuckles as he catches Balthazar raising an eyebrow sarcastically. “I have been exploring this generation’s heroes and have stumbled upon a fun group known as Marblesong. They are kooky and very headstrong, but they seem to be in a bad way as of late. They have a Halfling with them, a wonderfully energetic and cute thing, and I have been informed from my Betters has a lot of potential.”

“Has the old dog fallen for a young pup?” Balthazar clucked mockingly. Grimnir grinned and threw the dregs of his cup at the Dragon.

“No, you big softie, I just… I care for this one. I haven’t cared for much in a long time; present company excluded of course. I just want to make sure this one survives more than the other two, and that bothers me. I am not one for picking a fight that I can’t handle, but we went against a bloody Fire God the other day and I spent the entire time worrying about her safety above my own and the others. It is not right.”

Once again, the two returned to staring at the bottoms of their cups in silence; both wanting to say something but not too sure how to word it. Finally, Balthazar offered a refrain.

“Friend, you have been gone so long, it seems you have forgotten how to live. Love comes in many forms: Sexual, casual; platonic; careful. So many versions of love exist in this world that it kind of has its own magic. To show emotions that might elevate your vulnerability doesn’t mean to question the very foundation of your being. For once, allow this to be a moment of growth for you. Your care for this girl is obviously not lustful love, but that of a kindred spirit. Lovers are just friends who worked out the next step; it doesn’t mean you love them any less if you stay as just friends.”

As if narrative sensed a need for more, the door exploded open as a hyperactive Halfling girl with short brown hair, seaweed green eyes, and a permanent grin bounded into the bar; followed shortly by a dour looking Half-Elf with ginger hair and golden scales lining his features, and a tanned Elven woman with auburn hair, streaked with mistletoe, and somewhat dazed expression on her face.

“Right,” Grimnir said, slamming his hands on the table. “Gang seems to be back up to things. Better go play meatshield for glass cannons. You remember how to get hold of me, should your stubbornness slip?”

Balthazar nodded. The two stood and then embraced, before parting ways once again, to find out what fate had in store for them this time around…