The Brown Eyed Dreamer

'Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.' William Wordsworth


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NaNoWriMo- Day 1

Anyone would’ve looked away at this point- after all, it was only a mundane interaction between boy and girl, waitress and customer. But something stopped me from averting my eyes, and that’s when I saw it. I watched her walk behind the counter to get his coffee, and I watched his eyes as he followed her every move. And in his stare was a look that had gone unnoticed to everyone except me. There in his soft smile and bright eyes stood that tiny flickering flame, that glimmering shred of hope shining in a kaleidoscope of quiet despair. I watched him watch her with such intensity it seemed to pain him, and eventually his eyes dropped back to his book. He shook his head, sighed softly, eyes riveting over the pages but not seeming to take anything in. A few seconds later she was back with his drink and they were both smiling and laughing as friends again- but I’d seen it. I’d recognised that look; it had existed in so many faces that passed through this old café. It was a look that occurred over cups of coffee, in all those hellos and goodbyes and in all those careless wandering words that filled the spaces in between. 
The poor boy was in love, and the girl he looked at with such longing had absolutely no idea.

So this year I’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo again as a way of trying to get into writing again. This year I’m writing a collection of short stories all about the many regulars of one café. Above is a small excerpt of what I’ve written so far; it’s been great so far getting back into the feel of writing! Good luck to everyone doing NaNo this year and if I don’t write here again before the end of the month, have a wonderful November everyone!

~thebrowneyeddreamer


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The Red-Haired Storyteller

I saw her today for the first time in a while. She passed me on the street, and before we were close I could see her eyes flicker with recognition she tried to hide, a quick blush falling to her cheeks; she remembered, but she was trying not to show it.

Suddenly, she turned and crossed the road, her steps gaining pace as she put distance between us. I stopped and watched her anxious departing back for a few seconds before turning to move on, and for a while I forgot about her.
It was only when I was sitting absent-mindedly by the duck pond much later that her face flickered before me. While the sun glinted through cracks in the leaves and spilt dappled drops of light across my shirt, I thought of the girl with the bright red hair, the most magnificent storyteller I had ever seen.
She was a girl with a mouth like a crafter’s wheel, spinning enchanting stories laced with gold and wearing them proudly. But when we held these garments to the sunlight they did not glint, but disintegrated in the sun. Nothing more than cheap metal, we watched her tales rust and crumble in our hands.
She was a girl whose stories glided out of her mouth like a midsummer’s breeze, gentle and enticing. They carried the sweet, soft smell of adventure, enticing us with curious eyes that we blindly followed. But they only ever led us to a dead-end path where adventure lay battered and bruised in the soil, an abandoned play-thing from a long finished game.
She was a girl with eyes that glistened when she spoke and danced like fireflies in a sea of midnight every time she opened her mouth. Her stories were like precious gems that she held to her heart like a mother, but when we teased them from her prised fingers, we found they were fakes, only real within her own head.
This girl created extravagant stories like an artist designs their finest piece or a writer fabricates their fantasy world. She painted oceans and starlit skies for us, and for a while so convincingly, until the bulbs began to burst and we realised we were only staring at a faded ceiling. She brought to life a beautiful world that we tried to live in, but we knew this world was a lie even if she didn’t realise it.
I skimmed my shoe across the surface of the water and sighed. The girl had gone too far now; her stories were too impossible, her tongue too powerful. In her constant chase of adventure she’d fallen onto a broken path that was too high to reach even if we’d wanted to. But she was ignorant in her chase, skipping along over cracks and humming a simple melody to herself. And all the while she stared hypnotised at her fake ceiling sky, oblivious to the crumbling path below her. It was only a matter of time before the foundations of her stories caved in, and she drowned in a pit of lies before we ever had a chance of saving her.


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Block.

I miss writing. It used to be that a pencil never left my hand, that ideas always fled into my head. I’d write whenever I could find time, and whenever I didn’t really have time too. Characters, plots, journeys and worlds would flood from my mind and spill onto paper, filling page after page of the cheap notebooks I bought from the store. I loved building a  story until it almost become a world around me, with most nights spent scribbling down everything I could think of until I could get my characters to the end of their adventure. I miss the thrill of new ideas, the hours spent in the corners of libraries and cafés planning and the satisfaction of finishing.

These days, there’s not enough time, not enough energy. School builds walls around my daydreams, reminding me of my responsibility to do well, of the importance of my future, while all the time my mind scurries like a bird trapped in a cage, willing to escape from studying for subjects I care nothing for. And as all this is happening, a greater wall looms above, dark and menacing, blocking any idea from coming to me. I feel trapped, bored, yet too exhausted to make a change.

But I swear, this drift is only temporary, and I will be back. A mind cannot stay trapped forever, and soon the shackles of exams will be broken and I’ll be free to spend hours filling pages with every trace of my thoughts. Soon I can go back to the one thing I love most. And when I get back, maybe the sparks will ignite and ideas will burst back into life, and I can carry on as before; a dreamer.

That’s all I can hope for, for now.


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People Exist.

It’s a weird feeling, the sudden realisation of the people around you. Not the crowds of emotionless faces you see on streets pushing past other emotionless faces, the lines of impatient frowns waiting for their coffees in a crowded café on a Wednesday afternoon- people. It’s strange to come to the realisation that these aren’t just faces and bodies and obstacles and hold-ups and filled space, these are people. And not just any people, people with a story, just like me yet so unlike me.

It’s strange to think that all around me, there are literally a billion stories going on, a billion paths being walked and uncovered. There are people living and experiencing and journeying in this adventure we call life, and it has nothing to do with me. There’s you, for instance. Right now, you’re reading this post, but afterwards, your life story is going to continue and I’m going to have no idea what will happen next. After I post this, my story will continue, but you’ll have no idea what will happen. We exist in the same universe but never acknowledged each other until right this second, and in a few seconds we could forget that again and carry on existing on our own, forgetting everybody else in an instant.

We’re all pinpricks of light floating through a chasm of darkness, so focused on our own trails we forget to focus on the mosaic of light around us and why it’s there. I always knew there were people around me, but I never thought about the fact that these people lived. That man in front of me at the check-out has friends and family, hopes, dreams, allergies, regrets. That girl who was waiting in the car park across from me has a story I have no idea about that she’s still working out for herself. All these faces I see and forget within moments, that form the backdrop to my life story, those faces have names and emotions and their own stories. And me? I’m just someone else’s background to their great story, another fading star in a sea of dark.


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Tuesday’s Inspiration #1- Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s being just around the corner, I thought we’d start Tuesday’s Inspiration with a nice little theme- love. Now I know a lot of people absolutely detest Valentine’s Day, and I can understand that, so this prompt is not just surrounding Valentine’s, simply love in general. This week’s prompt is also inspired by an article I read a few weeks ago, where small children were made to describe what they think love is (you can read the article here).
I loved the sweet simplicity of the children, yet how innovative and deep their ideas were. And so I ask you to answer this question for me-
What is love?
What comes to mind when you think of love.? Write a short story or a poem showing what you believe love is, whereas it’s hope, pain, sorrow or sadness. Whether you’re spending Valentine’s with your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend or a room full of scruffy yet adorable stray cats, I think this is a great activity to write about. So much has been written about love, but what’s your take on it? Make it original, make it yours!
Happy writing!


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The Art of Disappearing- Part One.

[Inspired by the writing prompt from Alice Kuiper’s website, here.]

He didn’t want to be a victim; that was the very last thing he wanted. He didn’t want lines of stony faces watching him with cold, emotionless eyes as he slouched along the corridor, head bent in a vain attempt to hide himself. He didn’t want sympathetic pats on the back and pep talks from awkward teachers, and brand-new, supportive ‘friends’. He didn’t want people tip-toeing around him like he was a bomb ready to explode. He didn’t want to come home every day to find his mother sat at the table, concentrating on something in the far difference that only her eyes could see. He didn’t want to walk about in this alien world where everyone pretended everything was fine while everything crumbled around them.

He didn’t want any of this. High School was the only place where he could escape from everything that had happened. All he wanted to was blend, and now he stuck out more than ever. And the scar probably didn’t help.

It was a huge gash running from his top lip up to his cheek bone, bright red as if bursting with blood. He hated the way people stared at him now, never fully being able to meet his eyes when they talked to him. He hated the whispers hardly hidden behind hands as he passed by, the rumours and speculations about what really happened that night. He hated the interrogations, people who’d never passed acknowledgement now wanting to know if he was okay, their eyes begging for a piece of truth, a delicious sliver of revelation on the incident. He always ignored the stares, bowed his head and carried on walking, mumbling a half-hearted reply and shrugging his shoulders as he left.

Today was a day just like any other. His mum barely tore her gaze away from the spot on the kitchen wall to say goodbye to him before he left, and after closing the door he knew already he’d come home six hours later to find her sitting there in the same position, fixated on a memory frozen in her mind. She’d completely changed since everything had fallen apart; she was barely a person anymore, merely a ghost trapped in another night. In his own confusion about everything, he chose to ignore it, making sure she had food and water and always leading her up to her bed at night. He felt more like a carer than a son- but instantly he pushed these thoughts to the back of his head. He didn’t want sympathy. He wasn’t a victim.

Everything could be normal if he could pretend for long enough.

His hood up in the light drizzle, no one could see his face. No one could know who he was, and in that brief, momentous walk to school he was a normal kid, not the boy everyone had heard about. He could walk and passers-by didn’t lift their heads in recognition, cars didn’t slow while drivers stared out of windows, mouths slightly agape. No one could see his scar, and in his head he could imagine his skin free of bruising and scar tissue.

He was so caught up in his daydream of perfect normality he didn’t notice anyone walking alongside him until a voice spoke from beside his right ear. A voice that was warm and quiet and completely unfamiliar, that flowed gently through the air like a fresh breeze on a Summer’s day.

‘Sometimes it’s nice to disappear, isn’t it?’


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Slow Dancing in a Quiet Café

Picture this. A small, fairly unknown café on a street corner in late September, where inside it draws closer to closing time. And there’s you, in a small booth beside the window, coffee cradled in your hands to warm your fingers. The first leaves have begun to fall from the trees,carried in a cool Autumn breeze past the window and skittering along the pavement. You’d be busy marvelling at the beauty outside the window if you weren’t marvelling at the beauty sitting opposite you.

This person; you’ve only known them a short while and yet you’ve already formed this bond a thousand years of friendship couldn’t match. This person with eyes so wide and welcoming, and a smile that awakens the butterflies in your chest and makes your hands clammy. They’re sitting in front of you, this sweet smile playing across their lips as they tell you a story, and you can’t help but smile and nod along within them, completely captured by their everything. You barely lift your head to nod a ‘thank-you’ at the waitress busily scrubbing at the crumbs on your table, so absorbed in this wonderful being in front of you. And it is only when you reluctantly stand up to leave the café that you realise it is empty except for a few half-empty coffee cups scattered across tables. The waitress has disappeared into the kitchen, leaving the both of you completely alone.
‘I had no idea we’d stayed here so long!’ they exclaim, looking at you with a small smile. You shake your head to stop yourself getting lost in those eyes and try to think of something to say.
‘Time flies when you’re having fun, I guess,’ you reply, scratching the back of your head, unable to stop a smile and nervous laugh escaping your lips.
You always hate this part the most; goodbyes have never been your favourite things. You hate the awkward goodbyes and promises of seeing each other again which mostly get broken. You pack away your stuff slowly, trying to savour the moment for as long as possible. Meanwhile they stand patiently beside you, humming along quietly to the tune crackling out of the old battered radio on the checkout table.
‘This is my favourite song,’ you utter, looking up. Your gaze is met to a hand reaching out to you where behind lies an expectant gaze and curious smile. You return a questioning gaze, an eyebrow raised.
‘Do you want to dance?’
The small question is answered by a quiet gasp. Nervously, you take their hand and straighten up. You both draw closer, until your bodies are gently brushing each other, and you can feel their chest rise with each breath while their heartbeat gently thuds against your chest. You pray they cannot hear the intense thudding of your own heart and begin to dance.
The moves are slow and simple, perfectly matching the smooth, calming acoustics of the song. You both remain silent, eyes locked as you spin and step to and fro. Your fingers intertwine, they absent-mindedly stroking your thumb with theirs as you roll a strand of hair intricately through your fingers. Small, shy smiles create conversation that no words could match, the silence enveloping you both in your own world. Their eyes are pools that reflect yours, searching your face, trying to create a memory as feverishly as your eyes are. You could happily stare at those eyes forever, fall deep into the crevices of their soul and remain there in perfect serenity. You could fall in love with those eyes.
And so that is how your perfect date with this perfect person comes to an end; not with stiff, awkward hugs and the drop of your chest as you have to watch them walk away, but with a slow dance in an empty, quiet café in late September. A café where outside leaves fall and life moves on, and where inside two people dance to the gentle rhythm of two hearts beating as one.


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A Love Affair with Eyes

There’s something about eyes that just captivates me. When a mask is carved and placed expertly over a face to create a void of emotion, eyes are the one things that consistently shine through and show how we really feel, who we truly are. Out of everything in a person, eyes always remain in my mind after the memory of a face has long since faded.

I love eyes of any colour, wide and child-like or small and scrutinising. I love eyes that are seas you could drown in, with hazy flecks of colours swimming through their gentle following colour. I love eyes surrounded by paths of crinkles and wrinkles that tell of a thousand frowns and a thousand smiles. I love eyes with glints of secrets shrouded within, the ghost of stories yet untold hiding and waiting to be discovered. I love eyes that express more than words and a smile ever could; eyes that create a memory so vivid it engrains itself into our very minds. I love the eyes of children, filled with innocent delight and an unending curious gleam. I love the eyes of the older, brimming with tears spilled and frothing with laughter, bright, wise sparks of life in a wrinkled, ageing face. I love how every eye sees the world in a different way, and how no two eyes could ever look the same; eyes who have withheld the beauty of this world and have endured pain and sorrow, eyes that reflect every memory in a kaleidoscope of colour and brightness that I can’t help but fall for each time I look upon them.


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The Clear Out

In a cold, cluttered study dimly lit by a bulb encased in a thick layer of grime, a man stands surveying old, flaking walls filled with bookshelves and cabinets, head cocked on one side as he impatiently tuts and looks around him. A room once the hub of his home and working life now sits dormant and forlorn in the cold October sun peering through cracks in the yellowed blinds. A room once so lively and loved now seems as alone and lost as the man standing within.

He takes a step forward and roughly glides a finger across the nearest shelf, leaving a bright trail of mahogany standing stark among the surrounding layer of dust. Lips curling in disgust and rubbing his covered finger on his jumper, he sighs. This room, now of no use and an annoyance to him, needs clearing desperately.
As a plan forms in his head, he leaves the room only to return a few seconds later armed with every cleaning utensil he can find. He then starts clearing out the room. Initially, he takes his time, taking each item off the shelves and inspecting it before deciding what to do with it. But as each dog-eared novel and notebook full of scribbles is salvaged from the dust and dirt of the shelves, old memories resurface themselves to mock and taunt him. Memories of days where writing was his life and words tumbled out of him like droplets onto a page, and the world around him held the fascination of a child. But too many rejections from snotty publishers can make a man bitter in his ways, and soon his bubble of ignorance was torn as the world became cruel and unforgiving. Suddenly the passion of the world was gone, and a dream to write died along with this room.
Memories flood back like flames, taunting him with their flickering, fiery tongues. Fury filling his core, he flings out his arms and pushes every item into bin bags, grabbing books, ornaments and ornate ink pens and throwing them to walls, ignoring the glass smashing and ricocheting off the walls. Ripped pages fall like burning ashes to a floor filled with shattered glass and puddles of blue ink stains sinking into the carpet.
His crazed cleaning does not stop until he grabs hold of an old glass photo frame and a jagged edge catches his skin. He curses loudly as it draws blood and looks down towards his cut, only to be stopped short by what he sees.
It’s an old frame, a photograph within that had been blocked and almost faded from memory. He sees himself, a young man of only twenty, standing beside his childhood hero, a published author whose name he cannot recall now. He looks upon the uncontrollable smile on the young him’s face, the eyes shining with childlike eagerness, and that day comes back to him like a bolt of lightning. He remembers meeting this man, and sharing with him the hope of one day joining him with the esteemed title of ‘author’, his love of writing and wanting to write forever. And most of all he remembers the author looking at him with an almost fatherly smile, patting his shoulder and saying, ‘If you want it enough you can do it. Never give up on a dream like that.’
The statement echoes through the man’s head and around the room, bouncing and echoing off the bare walls. Never give up on a dream like that. The frame drops from between his shaking fingers, landing with a dull thud below him. He stops; sinks slowly to the ground. Everything is too much. How could he forget this? How happy he had been then, how full of joy and life… memories flood back once more, but this time like rushes of water coaxing the tears from his eyes as he falls forward onto his hands, sobs rocking his whole body. He balls up his fists and beats the ground, yelling to a man who is not there, who cannot hear him.
‘Never give up?! You can’t even begin to unravel an idea before reality shoots it dead now! I’ve been shot down one too many times, I’m wounded. I GIVE UP. I can’t get back up this time.’
The cold, empty shelves stare at the man sunken and broken in the centre of the room with blank, harsh stares. Tiny speckles of blood spurt from a cut in his hand, but that short, sharp pain is nothing compared to the tearing of his heart, the thumping of his head, the desolate thud as his stomach drops. No pain could compare to that of a man falling apart from the seams. Tears fall relentlessly from his eyelids, and his body lurches forward and back with pain, as emotion floods out of him in a tidal wave of desperation, total loss and turmoil.
‘I can’t get back up this time,’ he whispers, his eyes shut to try to bottle in the pain, ‘I can’t get back up.’