People, Play and Purpose – Writers’ Well


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I’d like to share with you one of the prompts I used in last Friday’s workshop, which sparked much reflection in me, and I believe others. I continue to explore some of the thoughts and ideas it brought up, but for now let me simply share what we did, and what I wrote at the time.

For me this is the time of year for reflection, looking back on what has been and harvesting the juicy stuff, whilst throwing the rest on a glorious winter bonfire – right? It might seem a little early to some, as we’re not even in December yet, but I can easily get wrapped up in other stuff (!) in December, and then come to New Year and – oh? There’s another year gone? So no harm in starting early:-)

So, super-simply, I gave everyone three minutes to make some notes on the following topics, as they reflected on the year that has been; People, Play and Purpose. When those three minutes were up, those notes were used to inspire a poem written in 10 minutes. The notes themselves were not shared or read aloud, and I personally only touched on a few things in this poem, so the notes will no doubt be a potential source of further writing inspiration. For now, I share with you the poem I wrote:


Play is my hot air balloon,

my purpose a clumsy anchor

that play can help me lift,

if I trust its lightness

to hold such weight,

for I do not wish play

to float away

and disappear me beyond beyond,

for who would I find there?

What would I do?

For sure I need an anchor too.

But roots aren’t heavy,

plant pots can move.

I want to play my purpose

into carrying me,

instead of the other way around,

forge it in a fire

that leaves all unnecessaries

light and blowawayable as ash

and all essentials

bright and portable

ready for the journey…

but don’t search my pockets,

rather let’s both

reach into our own depths

and reveal

on one…



the world we hold

in the palms of our hands.


I just LOVE the interplay between play and the profound, for it seems in my experience that it is often in the most apparently frivolous moments that I let myself go enough to get a sense of something deeply true, which I then can receive lightly – know what I mean?

Blessings on the People in your life,

and may Play and Purpose dance in you

that your days may be full of joyous meaning…



If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

and here:


Let the way of the heart…Writers’ Well


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I’d like to share with you one of the prompts I used in last Friday’s workshop, which warmed us up beautifully for a very thought provoking session. More on that another time perhaps, but for now, the way of the heart…

Let the way of the heart

Let the way of the heart

Let the way of the heart shine through

We sang this simple chant together several times and then, after a few moments of silence, we just wrote for three minutes, whatever came. I found this beautiful version on YouTube. Why don’t you take a brief moment to listen, sing along if you wish, and then just write…


This is what I wrote:

The heart is so welcoming, turns nothing away, when left to its own devices. It’s not a matter of forcing, or doing – rather of letting be, giving the heart permission to return to default. Maybe that’s what silence does, like the magic of turning a computer off and on again – silence returns the heart to default, and turns it into Rumi’s Guest House again. It’s grace, effortless, and it’s bigger than me – this ‘way’. And I do not carve, or make, or create it, I follow it – I observe, respond and allow myself to be guided by the song that calls, the light that leads, the heart that knows…the way.


And as I’ve referenced it, if you haven’t met Rumi’s Guest House before, here it is…Enjoy!


If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

and here:


Are these yours? – Writers’ Well


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I’d like to share with you one of the prompts I used in last Friday’s workshop, which sparked much hilarity and excitement, however simple and apparently mundane! It began with my asking people to note down three possible reasons people might need to use the launderette. I then gave each writer two small pieces of paper and asked them to write, one on each, an item of clothing, in as much or as little detail as they wished. These were then folded and placed in a box from which each of us took a single one, and proceeded to write a story which had to begin with:

“Are these/is this yours?”

After we’d shared, we found we’d so enjoyed listening to the stories that we spoke of putting them, format to be decided, in the local launderette for others to read! I’ll let you know if that happens! However, as a starting point, five writers have agreed for me to share their wonderful and wildly unedited work here – all written there and then in just 10 minutes!!! Amazing:-) Enjoy!


At the launderette

“Is this yours?” the red-haired bespectacled woman said in the primmest of voices. “I said ‘Is this yours?’” She raised her voice and glared at me as if she was holding up a little lacy black thong number, something sensuously out of bounds. The snigger in the corner got louder. I wanted to say ‘Of course not, mine would be pretty and sexy; I wouldn’t be seen dead in that thing.’ “Err, yes it is thanks” and I moved towards her, holding out my hand to take my Mrs Doubtfire bra back; beige, shining, big and very comfy, it brought laughter to my daughter and granddaughter but they weren’t standing in a busy launderette trying to impress a charming grandfather who had the ease of a relaxed man, glistening white hair and a face rugged and interesting that had stories to tell.

I turned my back, embarrassed. He carried on talking as if nothing had happened and inside I thanked him. The conversation flowed, my heart opened and I fell into his wide, bright blue eyes.

The washing machines stopped. We loaded driers about the same time. I put in extra money in the hope he would too. We sat back down. The laughter came, the smiles became more frequent, the eye gazing wondrous. I told him about my grandchildren, he told me about his life on boats. I made him smile with my shyness, he made me laugh out loud with his humour.

The machine noise stopped and I pulled out my hot, still slightly damp clothes, haphazardly, and untidily, pushing them into my bag.

And when the charming man asked ‘Care to join me for a cuppa in the café next door?” I answered, quietly and with pleasure, “Yes please”.



‘They came out of my basket but I’m pretty sure they’re not mine’

Not my size or colour – after all they are even a real pair in their own right – even though well worn, ‘used to be white’ – no holes yet but threatening!

‘Are they yours?  Or yours?’        ….no they wouldn’t be yours either!

Being a regular I get to know the other regulars and recognise the newcomers.  I’m just trying to work out who might be missing ‘em – or not – maybe pleased even they’ve gone missing and too embarrassed to claim.

Ah – ‘ere comes Betty one of the Friday regulars – small wash, dry, sits and chats the hind leg off a donkey.  They wouldn’t be ‘ers.

Ooh!  Busy day today – someone new,  rather posh, not often see that type – they certainly won’t be ‘ers either.

Never mind eh? – they can’t be that well loved.  I mean – just look at the state of ‘em.

Were they for tennis? running?  school?  bed?  Who on earth wants white socks in the first place?

Why am I so obsessed with these darned socks – albeit not darned – yet!

‘Allo Fred – you’re a bit late today.  Been to the Bookies yet?’

‘Yeah I got a hot tip – an outsider at Cheltenham – 3 to 1 – good new racer from Lansdown Stables – pretty little mare named The Missing Sock!’

‘Funny that – I hear there’s a pair’

by Jenni A


Are these yours he said as he pulled out a pair of shiny leopard skin trousers from the drier. On no, they are not mine, but it’s nice that you thought they could be I reply. The young man smiles – Well you could you know you’d get away with it! I laugh and turn back to folding my own clothes. The grey cardi buttoned all the way up to the top. The sensible skirts and mannish trousers. How ironic I think – he could have thought that the leopard skin trousers belonged to me. Perhaps he had sensed my inner wild woman. The one who wants to wear long flowing brightly coloured skirts and funky headbands and wear short skirts over jeans and grow her hair long. That would be the day I think to myself – I know my hair would take forever to grow into long flowing locks if ever. But, those leopard skin trousers had made me think – why not, why should I stay the dowdy middle aged woman – who or what was I hiding from.

I finished packing my washing away and as I went out I quietly put the leopard skin trousers that he had placed on the bench into my bag. Well, you’ve got to start somewhere I told myself . . .

by Hilary B


“Are These Yours?”

“Are these yours?”
It was a reasonable question. The item I had taken out of the tumble dryer was a pair of Levi 501 jeans with button opening flies and the person I addressed was a young man of shining muscles sat on the launderette bench in his underpants.
He stood up – I struggled to keep my eyes on his face – and walked over to me. Gosh it gets hot in these places.
“No ma’am, they’re not”. American accent. Am I in a movie suddenly?
“Umm…” A small man, unnoticed until this moment, had made the sound. “Umm….I… that is, they’re mine”.
“But you’re wearing jeans already.”
Clearly I wanted it to be the movies, I wanted those shiny, ripping muscles to have something to do with me. The little person blushed,
“Yes, well, I have more than one pair of jeans.”
“What? Oh, yes, of course. I’m sorry, here you go”.
Mr. Muscles had sat down again and I handed the 501s to the small person.
“Oh, just a minute – there’s something else in the machine. Maybe it fell out of your pocket”, and I handed him a small card, water rippled and crackled by its adventures over the last hour. I couldn’t help but notice (honestly) that it was a card from a local dating agency. How did I recognise it? The same one was sat on my desk at home.
“Don’t be a shrinking violet”, I’d told myself. “Get out more. Meet some people. Maybe you’ll meet the man of your dreams.”
I had – in the launderette: the insignificant man who owned two pairs of jeans (at least) was my date. We met in the cafe next door half an hour later, he is his clean 501s, me in my favourite – now shrunken unfortunately, though he didn’t seem to mind – violet jumper.


“Are these yours?”

The launderette had been empty when he arrived through his new method, but now all the machines were whirring around like clocks. Even so, everyone heard.

“Oh no!” he thought. “Not again!”

As time travel was new to him he hadn’t quite got the hang of it. Sometimes he regretted going to that Totnes workshop. All he was trying to do was give his clothes a wash before he somehow found a way to slip back.

The launderette assistant held a pair of thigh length boots aloft for everyone to see. He’d hidden them behind a rickety stack of plastic laundry baskets. He’d hidden himself there too, for as long as he could. (Elizabethan underwear would draw attention.)Of course the feathered hat and boots didn’t need to go in the wash.

Four pairs of curious eyes swivelled in his direction. How embarrassing.

“Er..yes,” he said but the rest got awkward as he found himself speaking in rhyming couplets. He’d obviously spent too much time away from the twenty-first century. A tumble-drier whirred to the end of its cycle.

“Thank you,” he managed to say, with a blush. She placed them on the centre of the floor and retreated disdainfully behind a door. There were giggles.

This was going to be tricky. Timing was everything. He retreated to put on his beautiful breeches and embroidered jacket as things quietened down. The launderette would need to be empty. All the machines including tumble-driers needed to be still. And then there was the very particular curve and angle for launching himself through time…

He flung himself into the empty washing machine just as the town clock struck midday, grabbing his thigh length boots as he went. If he got the timing just right, he’d get to The Globe just in time to see that new play Shakespeare was doing. If not – it would be a long journey in the spin cycle. Hmm… It was looking as if he was going to have to do that Level 2 Time Travel workshop after all .. that is, if he ever managed to get the hang of the timing on the door lock, and get back to Totnes again on the right Saturday morning….

by Wendy W




If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

and here:

Poetry in three – take two!


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Last Friday, while on a half-term break from the weekly writing workshop I lead, I followed through on a personal promise to warm up my three-minute poetry writing skills for real, in preparation for several upcoming events.

It was a truly magical morning, during which I went to the cafe in Exeter Library, and asked if I could write three minute poems for their customers while I drank my coffee. These people would give me a subject of their choosing, I would write the poem in three minutes, and then, if they liked the poem, I would invite them to make a donation to the cafe’s fund, which pays for a coffee for those who can’t afford one. In just half an hour I’d approached five tables, written three poems, and had £15 pounds to donate, as each person who’d received a poem had given me £5, and enough tears/smiles/appreciation to fill my heart to bursting.

I could have continued but I didn’t wanted to push my luck, or break the spell, or get  greedy. I’m sure I will become more accustomed, but it really is a very powerful and connecting experience. When a total stranger reads and receives my words, and responds with tearful eyes, material generosity and an emotional exclamation that I’ve truly captured something of their own thoughts and feelings, that is just…well it’s pure energetic alchemical gold. It’s also the closest I come to the experience of knowing that I receive all that on behalf of something much larger than individual little old me. During those three minutes something is gifting me, and I am accepting my role as the one allowing that gift to be passed on by making it manifest. That is an honour.

“That’s amazing!” said the cafe manager as I gave her the £15  “you should come again!” Indeed I intend to. You can read the poems in the photos. Remember these were written in just three minutes so no, they’re not brilliant, they’re far from perfect, but they spoke to the people they were written for…and that’s all that matters.


Poem for a priest2



Poem baby rose


poem about music

I’m very much looking forward to writing in collaborative circles again, both tomorrow and Friday, feeling creatively re-inspired and deeply re-affirmed in my belief in the potential power of poetry, and in general spontaneous writing in from a place of heart, humility and courage.

May you too know the experience of being blessed by the act of blessing another, until there is no distinction between the gifter and the gifted.

Take a leaf – Writers’ Well


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image credit:

Each week (well most, I missed last week – sorry!) I share on this blog one of the writing prompts used in my workshops, along with an example of what was written in response. This week is going to be a bit of a bumper edition (!) because a) I missed last week b) it’s half term this week, so there will be no Friday class and c) I’m feeling super full (in a good way!) and want to share some of that:-)

So to begin, I’d like to share the simple prompt I used in last Friday’s class. As I walked to the venue that morning, I picked a bouquet of beautiful fallen autumn leaves, of every size and hue. I laid them on the floor in a circle and asked each writer to pick one. We then spent a minute or so in silence, observing our chosen leaf (or bunch of smaller leaves) and then wrote for three minutes in response. Of course this could be done with anything collected from nature. I have, in the past, used stones/pebbles, or shells, of sticks/twigs.

This is what I wrote (sorry, I forgot to take a photo…)

You make me feel tender, this gathering, and the holding (there’s a small leaf stuck to a larger one, horizontally, like a baby being carried) and you shake as I hold you…or is it me shaking? It’s like you emphasize my tiniest movements…and then I imagine something else – you remind me of a flute, the different keys to press, and the bulge at the end of your stalk, where you once met the tree, swells like a mouth piece, and though you’re delicate, as I look more closely each one of you has a clear, strong, straight ‘backbone’ from which tiny veins stretch, though I can’t see them so well through the mottled yellow brown you’re turning, turning, turning.

So, that warm up is a fitting one for these three bonus prompts I’d like to offer for this half term week. These are taken from my ‘Elemental Journey’ prompt cards. You can find more information about these by following the link at the end of this post.


I just picked three at random, and luckily ended up with three different elements! They should be self-explanatory but feel free to ask questions in the comments section. I hope you have fun with them!

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If you enjoyed these prompts, then you can find more here:

and here:

Poetry in Three!


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Here’s me writing poetry to order at a Christmas Fair last year

I’ve been rediscovering my love for writing poetry for others on the spot in 3 minutes, to warm up for some Christmas ‘gigs’! Here’s one I wrote last week, for a guy who runs a local cafe. He asked for a poem on the topic of ‘Growing Teenage Girl’. Poetry has power people (but you know that…) – the conversation we had after that! And when I left, 2 hours or so later, he said I’d made his day…and it only took 3 minutes  Make someone’s day in your way today…it needn’t take long! So here it is, cheesy and raw, yes, but hey – it’s unedited and straight off the page…3 mins!



I know you’re growing

But I try not to see it

It was easier

When I could hold all of you

Your joys, fears

Lift you out of danger

Kiss sweet dreams

Into your forehead

Before you slept

But you’re growing

And some of those branches

Are out of my reach

Nobody teaches

Us to be parents

We have to learn

And grow too

But much as I stretch

I can’t always reach

The tips of you

So I feed the soil

With my love and trust

That if I take care

Of your roots

Keep you safe

As much as I can

Keep the fridge full

Of more than ready made crap

If you’ll eat it

And keep out home

A place filled with space and light

You’ll grow


Be happy



And here’s another, written at a reunion with college friends. Some of it, well, you probably had to be there…written in three minutes, in a busy bar, on the sign that had reserved our table…

reunion poem

30 second stories

Can’t capture the lives

That have come together,

People who’ve not changed

In 21 years

And tears haven’t started yet

But the laughter’s there

And we fall

As a Renault crashes the party

We’re just getting started

But the leaving will come

Eventually too

No house to return to

Together for a party

In Postman Pat land

The fizz is flowing

Because we’re grown up now

But it’s the little ones

That give many of us

Life’s meaning

While others are dreaming

Of a life beyond the 9-5

And so the photos will capture

Moments and smiles

Until the next time

We reminisce and remember

This is what life’s about

Laughs that don’t change

And the chance to be

18 again


Want to try? I have an egg timer I can lend you… 😉

To do//To be – Writers’ Well


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Each week, I share on this blog one of the writing prompts used in my workshops, along with an example of what was written in response. This week I’d like to share a simple prompt that brought a powerful visceral response; there was a knowing laughter and a frantic scribbling, followed by a gentle sigh and an atmosphere of ‘knowing’. I personally found it fascinating to observe this, and though I share my own poem here, I intend to ask all those who were there last week to send me their poems to share on this blog if they wish. The wisdom and playfulness and profundity was quite stunning. And, well, it was really very simple…

  •  Take a blank sheet
  • Write at the top ‘To Do’
  • Add one item to start off that list
  • Pass to your right/receive on your left and add another item
  • Stop when you receive your original sheet back.

Now, turn over…

Write ‘To Be’ as a heading, and complete as before, though perhaps not quite as before, for now you find yourself allowing your shoulders to relax, smiling knowingly, and closing your eyes to dream into what it means…to be…

Now take all of that and mix it and call it and craft it and cajole it into a poem! See – simple! 😉

So, here’s what I wrote because that’s all I have to hand right now, but I’ll hopefully share some other examples soon. I loved each and every one of them…

What am I

if I throw

all that I do away?

What would be left

of the me

others see?

And is that why

I hide behind

all that I have

and do,

built up like a wall

that keeps my real self

from showing through,

because what’s true

doesn’t fit neatly

into a world of ticks and lists

it just exists,

naked and unadorned

until we clothe it in tasks

that matter far less

that simply being –

in spite of the mess…


So dear friends, over to you! How’s your balance of Be and Do 🙂 


If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

and here:

Wild innocence


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prince and fox

Image of The Little Prince and the fox, from the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I’d like to share some personal reflections inspired by a recent weekend bushcraft/camping adventure that still leaves me with far more to explore, and indeed wanting more…adventure, wilderness, realness – freedom. Enjoy:-)


Who has not felt the urge to throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence? – JOHN MUIR


It was a reconnection with innocence. I don’t mean childish or naïve or sweet – I simply mean authentically unadorned; the kind of wild, untamed innocence that knows it is timelessly and irrevocably at one with, and originated from, the very elements and other forms of life that surround it. The kind of innocence that looks neither forward nor back because the only truth is now, this moment, in which we are alive, the fire’s flickering, the potatoes taste slightly burnt and adults and children are dancing around the fire, chanting and laughing with sheer raw joy.


So what was the emotion that rose in me like a monster when we left, at once exultant and enraged?


One voice was saying, ‘This isn’t real. Come on, you couldn’t live like this day in day out, nobody would choose that. It would be hard work, miserable.”


But another voice was singing, “Oh, My God, that was me! That’s what it’s all about. That’s what I need to remember; remain humble and love, treat the whole earth as my home – not just one walled off doored off part of it. For a while I’ve been awake again, and the joy and wonder of that is so strong it overwhelms me.”


It was a taste of freedom; joyous, wild, risky, wonder-full freedom. Why now, unforced (perhaps) and consciously (really?) was I about to lock myself away in captivity again? There’s the rub; the pain and the curiosity and the question. Why would I do that to myself? Why would I support a system that does that to others? There is grief in seeing my bondage for what it is – chosen and self-inflicted.


I remember a quote from The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

“I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you…”


With taming comes responsibility, because once tamed it is hard for the tamed one to survive again in the wild. When looked at through the lens of my own experience and values this translates thus:


In order to be free I must once again take full responsibility for myself and my own experience. I must make nobody responsible for me because, in so doing, I shrink my own strength and I tell life/God that I do not trust – that I need comfort, safety, a backup plan.


Having explored and outlined the extremes, can I find the sacred aliveness of that meeting place of middle ground? Can I remain free and wild and authentic, and allow my heart to engage with others and this world deeply, rawly, fearlessly, staying always aware that I want to give and receive space and dares, not walls and promises, because promises are often broken and walls fall down, but love is something much wilder and more resilient, therefore in all my relationships with other people, other sentient beings, the natural world, let me not tame or be tamed.


Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?



On the same theme, I’ve also very much enjoyed reading the following recently:

A poem by Tom Hirons, Sometime A Wild God

A book by Cheryl Strayed, Wild – a Journey from Lost to Found



Equations of opposites – Writers’ Well


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Each week, I share on this blog one of the writing prompts used in my workshops, along with an example of what was written in response. This week’s prompt was a bit of an experiment, and kinda fun 🙂 I could go into more detail on why and how I came up with it and what I had intended to explore, but I’ll save that for another time. So here goes – Equations of Opposites!

First, we went round writing pairs of opposites, any kind of opposites, for example:


Love  Hate

Black White


…and so on.

Then, on the next go round we added a + sign and an = sign, and completed this word equation with whatever new word/short phrase came to mind. It wasn’t about getting it ‘right’, there was no ‘right’ answer, just what that combination made you think of in that moment. Here are some examples…



Then, I invited people to write a poem in response, in just 10 minutes, though of course you could use this as a build up to any kind of writing. This is what I wrote:


Life is a smorgasbord

and doesn’t come with a menu

but rather throws us

ingredients we can choose

to catch or not

use or discard

as we choose,

depending on the size

of our container

and our willingness

to be curious,

the time we have to stir

and the heat we can brave

as we cook it all up


I’d love to hold your hand

feel your joy

or pain

and claim to know

and offer you

exactly what you need

to make it all

turn out right

but I can’t

and if I try

I lie

because it’s your pot

you’re stirring

and the fires beneath

are kindled by your dreams

your wishes


but when it tastes bad

or you get burnt

or the pot boils over

I can add a little seasoning

put on some ointment so it doesn’t blister

help you clean up

until you’re ready

for more ingredients

and a new recipe



Hmmm – can you tell I’ve been cooking a lot lately 😉



If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

and here:

Synchronicity – Writers’ Well


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Each week, I share on this blog one of the writing prompts used in my workshops, along with an example of what was written in response. This week’s prompt was inspired by the concept of ‘Synchronicity’. This is something that has always fascinated me, ever since I read The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield) as a teenager. I enjoy watching how life plays out, and seeing how really, there are no coincidences; it all happens for a reason. At least, that’s my take on those moments that seem too well timed, too perfect, too unexpectedly ‘spot on appropriate’ to be explained by anything other than a universe rich with wisdom, humour and purpose.

So, back to the prompt! We simply wrote down an example of synchronicity from our lives, passed the sheet on and added to the one we received until we had a variety of examples which we read aloud for mutual inspiration. We then wrote a story, in 10 minutes, either directly inspired by a personal experience, or about an imaginary scenario that incorporated our understanding of synchronicity. This is what I wrote:


“There’s nothing more I can do for you sir. We’ve received the paperwork and the process is unfolding. You must wait.”

He took these words with him onto the bus, with the heaviness of a weary traveller carrying the world on their back. The driver clipped a hole in his return ticket and he took a seat on the half empty bus, being careful not to meet eyes or smile.

The panic was making his heart race so fast he put a hand on his chest to stop it leaping right out and disturbing his fellow passengers. What would he say? His wife. His child. They looked to him. They needed him strong.

His shoulders collapsed and he took a deep breath involuntarily, as if preparing to let out all his tears in a single flood; but a voice stopped him, and his breath left quietly, stilled by an urgent yearning to hear. 

It was his language. Someone was speaking his language!

He turned slowly, scared he’d find this to be a dream, a sound mirage spun by an unravelling mind. But no. 

There, three rows back, on the other side of the bus, was a man in his thirties, bouncing a young girl on his knee and telling her a story that was making her giggle and laugh with abandon. Unable to stop himself from staring, he was noticed, and the young girl pointed at him.

The father, or so he assumed, looked up, and the speed with which those eyes both recognised and felt his own pain, hit sharply in his ravaged chest. The stranger patted the seat beside him, and smiled.

“Come, share our story.”

And he did.


If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

and here: