Sunday, 26 November 2017

My Wall

This is my wall.
Its blank at the moment,
Blank and empty.
Though I suppose they are the same thing.
I have been sat in front of it for a while,
Waiting for it to fill up
With colour and lights and pictures
Of my life.
It is my wall, after all.
But it’s blank.
And I’m still waiting.
Should I be worried
For my wall?
This is my wall.
It’s a bit brighter now,
I got off my butt and
Found some cans of paint in the corner
So now my wall is green like the forest,
With rivers of blue.
Complete with a crescent moon
And a navy sky.
Yep, that’s my wall.
This is my wall.
I have strung up fairy lights
Across the sky.
They look like stars.
So now my wall is a little brighter,
And I’m glad,
Cos it’s my wall.
This is my wall.
I’ve put up some pictures:
Of the Boy who Lived telling me
“Don’t let the muggles get you down.”
Of the Son of Poseidon teaching me
“With great power comes great need to take a nap.”
Of the Girl on Fire warning me
“If we burn, you burn with us.”
Little things to make me smile
When I look at my wall.
This is my wall.
I’ve covered it with pictures
Of my family,
Of friend both new and old.
Of places I have been and want to go,
Of animals I think are cute,
Of pictures that mean me,
Pictures to fill up my wall.

This is my wall,
What’s yours?

By R.B.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Why It's Important to Talk About Mental Health:

Overtime, it floods uncontrollably out of you.

                We, as a society, are fundamentally awful at talking about mental health. As soon as the topic comes up we avoid it like the plague—That’s harmful. That silence can be deadly, so it’s about time we break it and scream from the rooftops about mental health because it should not be ignored.
There is an enormous stigma surrounding mental health that needs to be challenged. Young people suffering from mental illness are dismissed because they’re “teenagers.” Women are dismissed because they’re “emotional.” Men are dismissed because it’s not “manly.” This stigma is damaging and needs to be erased— and this can be done by talking about mental health issues.
One quarter of the population of the UK will experience a mental illness at least one point in their lives. The stigma that surrounds mental health causes the subject to become taboo, which leads to people being too scared to speak out. Being trapped in your own mind is terrifying. Having someone to talk to is vital, otherwise it leads to a build-up of negative emotions that, one day, will just explode out of you.
Imagine a river in the rain. At first, the water level rises slowly; nothing too drastic, but different to the usual. The more it rains, the worse it gets. There’s a storm coming, and there is only so much rain the river can hold. It keeps raining and raining and raining and then— the river overflows.
                That’s what it’s like to suffer silently through mental illness. Overtime, it floods uncontrollably out of you.
                And to those saying: “It’s all in your head.” Well, yes. It’s a mental illness. It affects our brains and surprise surprise; our brains are in our heads. Does this make it any less serious? No. Should it be treated as seriously as physical health? Yes.
As author Matt Haig once said: “Mental health is physical health. Bodies and minds interact.”
Mental illness is not infectious. It’s not contagious. It shouldn’t be treated any differently to physical health. If I need a sick day because my brain simply cannot cope with life that day then I should be able to take a day off without any shame or guilt— just as I would be able to do if I was physically unwell. By talking about mental health, we can help to make people realise that it is, in fact, equally as important as physical health, and is just as serious an issue.
                Anxiety and depression are both momentous in terms of how they affect people: 5.9 people in 100 suffer from anxiety and 3.3 in 100 suffer from depression, with a horrendous number of 20.16 in 100 people experiencing suicidal thoughts. These are the most commonly talked about and recognised mental illnesses, but there are, of course, other mental illnesses that are hardly ever talked about that need to be talked about and understood by more people.
                Nearly as many people suffer from PTSD as they do anxiety, with studies showing that 4.4 in 100 people are at one point affected by it. So why do we only tend to focus on depression and anxiety? Just as many people suffer from OCD, bipolar disorder, anorexia, BED, and so many more mental illnesses that to focus primarily on only two issues is ignorant of us. Ignoring other mental illnesses causes people with those issues to feel alienated within society. By talking about a larger variety of mental health issues we can stop people from feeling isolated. We can help more people. We can improve lives.               
                I know, reading this, you may not suffer from a mental illness, but I can bet a friend, family member, or classmate does. So show them that they aren’t alone. I don’t mean walk up to them and yell about their struggles, but don’t alienate them for struggling. Attempt to understand what they’re going through and try to help them.
                Sometimes, people just need someone to talk to.
                Don’t get me wrong— it’s pretty unlikely you’re going to be able to fix their life, but it’s good to know someone is there who loves and supports you while you learn to fix it for yourself. Everyone needs someone to believe in you. Quite simply: it’s encouraging to know there is someone who cares and who listens.
                I always thought there was strength in staying silent. But there’s not. Yes, it’s scary to put your thoughts out there, but it’s also so, so much stronger to speak up.
                So be strong.
                Speak up.
                Keep the talk about mental health alive.

By Isabel Tyldesley

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Hidden in the Mist

For ten minutes she stood there, silent and unmoving. A lot of kids have tried and failed at making any sort of conversation with her. I watched her from far away, always making sure I kept my distance from her. It seemed like I was the only one in the room with some sense of self preservation. I’m not really sure what was the thing that made me feel that way about her, what was the thing that scared me the most. If it was the way she was standing there, looking like a statue or if it was what her eyes were hiding. They scanned the room, never focusing on anything or anyone for more than couple of seconds before moving on. That is until they stopped on me. They were dark, almost black and it felt that with this one look she stripped me bare and saw everything about me. My secrets, dreams and biggest hopes all seemed to belong to her now. And as I thought that her eyes are the scariest thing about her, she did something even more terrifying.

She smiled.

By Patrycja Gajewska

Saturday, 28 October 2017


Pride like a peacock in
his rich blues, greens, yellows
stands tall— overshadows
his brothers. Or so he thinks.

Greed’s safe bulges with gold,
locked in chains.
The key is “lost,” even for
a starved child, a homeless man.

Lust is cloaked in goat furs—
when he’s even dressed at all.
He strips with graceful power.
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?

Envy snakes in silence, stares—
his pupils vertical slits.
He marks his prey, he slithers;
he licks his lips, he slavers.

Gluttony talks in grunts, snorts.
Cheese, chicken, fish, sausage, bread
a constant guest in his hand.
The guests do not remain long.

Wrath does not walk. He charges.
His eyes wild, mane red, he roars.
His whisper louder than a
pride of deafening lions.

Sloth drapes himself across chair,
floor, sofa, other people.
Where he is, is where he lives.
A snail. A slug. A maggot.

By Isabel Tyldesley

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Prompt 58

It was a quiet day; the type that you are neither happy nor sad about, the ones that cling to you like the itchiness of your Mum’s old jumper and kind of made you uncomfortable but reminded you of home. It was the type of day that Jack spent lying on the couch eating popcorn and reading a book- today’s was Crime and Punishment- without bothering to put either a shirt or pants on. I mean really there was no real need for either items of clothing as he was currently without a roommate and even then it didn’t matter all that much.
Jack was in all aspects an average Joe except his name was Jack and he wore very extravagant clothing, he had brown hair that was sort of shabby and brown eyes that sometimes looked hazel. He was not all that interesting and had given up about a year ago on trying to date, his life was beyond dull.
It couldn’t be helped; his ex-roommate that had been dead for a month was the interesting one but now he lay, dead, in the morgue where Jack worked. Mathew was the sun to Jack’s moon, a man with too much charm and a happy disposition that would make anyone want to take a gun to either their head or his on a rather bad day. He was blond, too, with rather big glowing green eyes that peered at you the way Jack’s cat did when it wanted to play. In all reality Mathew was not your usual kind of guy; he was a notorious player who prowled night clubs and brought anyone willing home.
Like the time he forgot his keys and had to knock on the door with a red-head, looking like a cat that had brought home a dead mouse.
 In all reality, now that the house had turned quiet and the rooms cold and the idea that every time he came home there was no smell of food on the stove, Jack had begun to miss Mathew. He would take it all back: the dishes in the sink, his missing bread, even the late rent that he had to cover because Mrs. Cray was demanding and scary-- and may have actually been related to the Cray twins.  Not giving her rent would be the worst mistake ever made by him or anyone.
The clock chimed one so he decided to turn to bed. He had work in the morning and there is only so many times you can put organ failure before agents knock on the door wondering if there is an epidemic. At this hour there was nothing more that looked like Heaven than the large well made up bed. He flopped down onto it, exhaling as he went. He bounced three times before being hissed at by a small blond cat that ran from under Jack’s head and took a far corner away from his human counterpart.
Jack did not react, simply snaking onto the bed and curling under the duvet and not moving again. Well that was until the clock chimed three…
The grandfather clocks chime echoed like a summoning about the house, his cat hissed out and darted with a screech under the drawers. Jack began to feel stifled, wriggling uncomfortably under the duvet, kicking at it until it eventually fell off the bed and he lay there in his boxers with a cold sweat. There was a hellish hot glow that leaked out from under his door its origins leading to the living space on the other side. There was a wind that kicked at his door and something that sounded like a million dead souls screaming for their lives from the other side.
If this is my bloody neighbours again, I’m calling the police.
He opened his door, not grabbing a dressing gown from his way out and stumbled upon what could only be a literal portal to hell. It was alive and moving with red smoke that danced about the air leaving it hot and humid and yet right in the middle stood Mathew wearing what could only be assumed as red satin jock strap and nothing else. As the smoke cleared both young men were left to stare at each other in a somewhat level of dismay, I mean one was meant to be dead and the other hadn’t expected to see his ex-roommate for another eternity.
‘Hold on, you died.’
At first, Mathew didn’t reply.
Yeah, well, it didn’t stick,’ Mathew said simply. He leant over the couch arm and picked up a hidden bottle of merlot, pulling out the cork with his teeth. They looked, and Jack rationalized this due to the lighting, as though there were four elongated fangs.
‘What do you mean? That isn’t how death works.’ Jack was more than flabbergasted at his friend as he threw his arms about in great exasperation before settling down on the couch too.
‘Well, I was killed because God thought I was a good match for Lucifer,’ Mathew said rather nonchalantly.
‘Wait- they’re real?!’
‘Yes,’ Mathew again replied like it was a perfectly rational thing to say to someone who has 1) never died and 2) was a strong atheist. ‘So I went down to Hell, and Lucifer was at the gate and what I didn’t understand is that I’m a very good catholic and I repent all the time so I tried to figure out what it was I had done before I died.’
Jack knew as a fact that Mathew was not a good Catholic and he did not repent for every sin he made in that room of his. Only the ones he found to be an unpleasant experience.
‘Anyhow,’ he took a sip from the merlot, ‘I say is it because I do it with everything that says yes,
‘And he replies no-- apparently they changed that rule ages ago.’
Another sip. ‘So we go through everything and he was just about to call Peter to the gate when he asks if I’m gay. I tell him I’m Bi and he looks like someone had hit him in the face.’
Jack snatches the merlot away and begins to down a good part of the bottle; it was more down to the part where his friend thought this was a perfectly reasonable story to share. ‘So he mutters something in Enoch and he takes me aside to his palace and he pours me a glass of wine and we get talking-’
‘You were chatting up the devil?’
‘Yeah.’ He takes the bottle back. ‘So we start dating and everything’s good-‘
‘You were dead a month. Not even buried.’
‘You’re awful at your job and that’s twenty years in Hell,’ Mathew says. ‘So we get dating, then he wants to go slow and I say no because I don’t want that type of commitment.’
‘Wait, what?’
‘So then we start arguing. He tells me I shouldn’t be dead anyway and brings Azrael into it. She was pretty peeved.’
There wasn’t enough alcohol in the world to get him drunk enough for this story.
‘And she’s like yeah, he’s not actually meant to be dead, and voila! I’m back here.’ He gulped down the rest of the bottle. ‘Worst breakup ever.’
It was the first time in that month that Jack wished for quiet and then his phone rang: The morgue.
It’s not like it’s four in the morning or anything…

Or that there was a missing body.

By Chloe Howard

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Kindly and Joyous

An Empress Is Born.

An Empress taken from her family, bundled through the back of the Palace - for someone like her could not possibly pass through the front, it's unthinkable - and stripped of her name. To this day, it is still unknown.

An Empire surrounded on all sides, being eaten out from its insides. Bottom of the pecking order, one of eight wives, a mother and nothing more, she is told. An Emperor intent on war.

The Summer Palace destroyed in an inferno. The treasures raided, a lone puppy discovered. Bottom of the pecking order, one of eight wives, a mother and nothing more, she is told. An Emperor intent on dying. 

An Emperor gets his wish. An Empress ignored - someone like her could not possibly rule, it's unthinkable - and strangers are crowned.  

An Empress grows out the nail on her littlest finger and coats it with the finest jewels. It becomes so long, so sharp, one could easily mistake it for a knife.

An Empress is crowned.

The Empress changes the world.

At some point, The Empress begins to lose her hair. She isn't quite sure when. All she knows is that the thick black locks on her pillow and the skin-coloured patches on her head terrify her. She wears a wig.

 A Summer Palace rebuilt, treasures abundant and shared, her lover executed. An Empire saved. The Empress revered, but the Woman destroyed.

Monday, 9 October 2017


It's not a sting of fear, nor the nail-biting tension of worry.
It's the sharpness in-between.
An ache in quiet moments,
A stress unheard of at sixteen.

It's found in chest pains that leave me paralysed,
In migraines that last days.
I can push it back, for a moment,
But still it always stays.

It finds its way home, like the cold creeps in Winter.
Into soft blankets and candlelit rooms,
It lingers, slips under every door,
And taints the bed sheets, like smoke fumes.

It's not a warming crimson, but a bright white,
That makes my head hurt.
It's a destroyer of opportunists,
And a breeder of introverts.

It is parasitic.
But it is not a definition,
Nor a dangerous disease.
It does not rule me.

By E.H.