With the first four creative writing sessions in Vienna behind us, we’re proud to present some of our writing here with you. Thank you to Irena Ashcraft and Michael Dey for being the first!
The Power to See
By Irena Ashcraft
Sitting Down to a Sunday of Writers
By Irena Ashcraft
Writers are the imaginers of this world, pushing it forward word by word, to a riveting twist or wildfire conclusion. They sit together at a cafe, minds humming and pens swirling, creating galaxies that will be the stage for every love affair and dragon’s wrath, a portal to another realm, the proving ground for time travel. Unassuming, quite types, slowly and silently write their spells, weave their enchantments — words so powerful they often can’t be shared, hidden from the world with a quiet “Oh, not so good,” or a small, deflecting laugh. Writers are the prophecy makers, yet so well hidden are their true intents in the blur of moving pens, in the clattering of plates and coffee cups that the waiter brings. Norsemen once believed that poetry was a kind of magic weaved — words that held, somehow, more power than the sum of their definitions laid side by side: something sacred hidden within the lilt and the rhyme, some other magic riding the current created by the song. And so — were they wrong?
By Michael Dey
It’s been something in the region of 4-5 dog hours now since my friend completed their ritualistic frenzied dash out the front door. It’s like this every day, if ‘day’ is how they call it (please correct meif I’m wrong). Or at least apart from the two where they are substantially more docile and cat-like in nature, remaining in their open basket til the late morning sun has crept in slithers across the hallway, and out again through the farthest window. They then spend the afternoon scratching and yawning in front of their moving pictures, before a stranger arrives at the door with their din dins (I think he’s a little intimidated by me).
But today is one of those other days. I’ve spent the morning dozing in a corner, or at the very least pretending to be asleep, my ears twitching in synchrony to the sounds of water upon porcelain, the rousing of the furnace as it splinters into its rumbling life, the sandy fall of instant coffee, the pendulum of hurried footsteps, and the jangle of lifted keys before the slam of the door. Like a cough in a cavernous cathedral, the air around me seems to resonate for some further, echoing moments, until resting into electric silence. I’m on my own again.
Eyes remaining closed, I begin to gradually unfurl each corner of my dogy. My front and hind legs expand away from one another like old steam pistons, while my heavy ribcage inﬂates and descends towards the carpet, the hinge of my jaw opening like a drawbridge, revealing a set of yellowing teeth, safely conserved biscuits, and a thin, ﬂopping tongue. As slowly and deliberately as custom dictates, I prise my eyes open, allowing the newness of the monotone day to sweep over me, before rising to stand on all four paws.
I glance around. Everything seems in order. They’ve left that folder they needed to prepare for the presentation, again… that being despite my relentless and undeniably helpful tail gesturing in its general direction the weekend before. My nose wrinkles in recognition at the remnants of dinner from two evening’s past, now beginning the early stages of its descent towards becoming a microbe’s delight. Next to it, a dried pearl of colourless wine has stained into the last sip crevice of its lipstick crowned container, its companion, an empty bottle resting solitarily by its side.
I hope they’re ok.
I meander from the sitting room and out across the fossilised pea, ribbon pasta and breadcrumb ridden wasteland they call the kitchen. The instant coffee powder I referred to earlier still remains dehydrated within a white cup, the kettle beside it lightly steaming. As I watch its gentle billows of moisture, I become deeply aware of my nose becoming dry, and know I must drink. Reaching the corner of the room, and lowering my head into my metallic bowl, I feel a mildly penetrative sense of existential angst, as the reﬂection of my tongue draws and retracts like a thirsty invertebrate, drops of water sloshing and dripping and guzzling around my mouth and into my parched throat. After licking my (now quite heavy) moustache dry, I sense a sudden spike of discomfort and irritation from my lower back. Vermin. Parasites. It seems they have returned from their subsequent banishment, bestowed upon them by the kind man in the white overalls, who paradoxically also relieved me of my testicles some years back. No longer able to suppress the pain, I urgently thrash my claws into the tufts of my fur, nibbling in rapid, wet, self-inﬂictive bursts, doing anything to squash the madness of itching upon my deep, down, somewhere skin.
The pain somewhat subsiding, I admit temporary victory, and continue my morning pilgrimage across our cold kennel.
What I’ve never quite understood (as I descend upon the scratching, takeaway ﬂyer strewn ‘Welcome’ mat of the front door) is why exactly they leave, and always with such a sad expression on their furless face. It wasn’t always that way. There was a time, when they were still just a young pup (I’d since reached my prime of 30) that they seemed so eager and happy; wagging their tail through life with so many long walkies and delicious warm leftovers and knowing exactly who’s a good boy without question (they were, and I am). That was also, of course, when their pretty friend would be here every night, so happy to see them, and me, stroking me, and them, laughing, singing, talking, as together we’d ﬁdget peacefully within our rabbit-ﬁlled dreams upon the sofa, or they’d rest their toes beneath me, while I’d lay in content, inﬁnite stillness beside the quietly hissing gas ﬁre.
Been attending some creative writing meetups lately, and wrote this short story from the perspective of a lonely old dog on Sunday. It’s bigly inﬂuenced by the John K. Samson Virtute trilogy, but a little personal heartbreaker nonetheless.