While The Leopard Stalks

Looking out the window to my left I can see that the UK has given up it’s facade of sunny, pleasant weather, and has resumed its usual routine of greyness, wind and rain. The gentle pitter-patter against the glass adds insult to injury, the overcast clouds offering up a bleak, dreary shadow over any potential of getting out to break the day up. Each of us men in the Holdaway house are reminded for the first time in what seems like forever, that if it isn’t the lockdown that’ll stop us, it’ll be the weather, or a breakdown, or a faulty pump.

But it’s not all doom and gloom! Though the irony of ‘the warmest April ever recorded’ has a little sting in it’s tail with regard to our inability to work through lockdown, it has blessed us with one of the nicest, most relaxing, home-stays of my lifetime. Most days have been spent lounging in the garden, reading, writing, or chatting, listening to the kids’ gleeful giggles as the springs of the trampoline squeak under each bounce. Or warm, evening workouts with my brother, followed by our ‘one walk of the day.’

I’m not sure whether it’s the messed up sleep patterns or the typical greyness of the day, but I’m feeling a little flat today. My words seem not to want to flow, my brain is foggy, and I’m struck with a sudden lethargy that seems to undermine all the progress I’ve been making. We’ll put it down to the lockdown blues, I think. Despite the restrictive guidelines of the lockdown, the rain has taken away just that little bit more today.

All that said, there truly is no problem that we cannot make worse ourselves, and it’s our reactions to what goes on around us that makes all the difference. And so here I am, typing away the heaviness of my eyelids, embracing the comfort of a hoody I nabbed from a friend after a night out not so long ago. And lo-and-behold, words are appearing on paper — or, screen — and its amazing. Miraculous, even. This heavy, tired, lethargic mind can still go to work when it’s simply told to, and I’m reminded that showing up when you don’t feel like it is far superior a remedy to inactivity than thirty minute videos on motivation.

It’s a day for reading in the armchair, recovering from the intense training, reminiscing over past experiences, and remembering the world before the crisis, and I’m totally okay with that. If you’ve written anything that you’re proud of or would like to share with me, please post a link in the comments. I’d love to check out your writing and make some more friends around the blogosphere.

Onward and Upward!

Each week the Fiction Writer’s Group puts out a flash fiction photo prompt with a 300 word limit. It’s an enjoyable little task with an opportunity to enjoy the work of, and share your work with, the rest of the community. This week’s photo was of a young monk performing some kind of ritual in a river. If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say its a reflective exercise with a heavy focus on the sounds of the water resonating against the metallic dome, but I could be wrong on a million levels. It’s a beautiful photo, capturing a truly beautiful moment, and it inspired me to start getting involved with the activity again. In any case, my entry takes the assumption made above as a foundation and explores the sensations experienced during the meditative ritual. Here it is.

While The Leopard Stalks

Image Source:  https://pixabay.com/…/buddhist-ritual-water-buddhism-18075…/

In a remote corner of the Vietnamese jungle, young Lau lowers himself cross-legged into a shallow creek. He resists the urge to squirm or to fight the feeling of wetness as it first claims his naked feet, engulfs his lower legs, and climbs the cloth of his robes up his lower back.

Thin rays of sunlight burst through the canopy of trees, dotting the clearing with leaf-shaped patches of golden heat. Lau accepts the tingling warmth to crawl across his head as sweat drips across his face and down his back.

He’s aware of the eyes on him as he places the silver bowl facedown in his lap. The amused, watchful eyes of Master Ling, the curious looks of the birds sitting upon their perches, and the calculated, hungry gaze of the leopards that stalk each distant shadow.

With a more shallow bowl Lau scoops up some water, raises it slowly to head-height, and begins to pour it down over the upturned bowl. Immediately thousands of cold beads splash from the top of the dome, catching light as they dance from it in all directions. Each icy, glittery, pinprick awakens the skin as they find his face, his chest, and his arms.

The silence is abolished by the pitched ringing of metal and the pitter-patter splashing of the beads returning to their source. Lau resists each urge to wince or pull back from the sensations. They are his to own, his to experience.

He repeats this over and over, contemplating life and appreciating all that comes with it. The beauty of sensation and sound, the blessings of taste and smell. He could be robbed any minute of his future, but was that ever his to begin with? Not a thing could lay hands on this present moment.

Not a thing.

So, half of this blog post was written yesterday, and I was going to finish up the flash fiction and get it posted, but I decided to binge Under The Dome on Amazon Prime with the Mrs. while she had a little time off work. I’m really into that series, though I cannot wait to read the book. I’m actually more surprised there’s still a few Stephen King novels I haven’t read yet! All that said, if you want to take advantage of a month free trial to binge a couple of their title shows while the world is tasked with staying home (my favourites being The Boys, Swamp Thing, and Carnival Row) here’s a link for you to do so 🙂

Just bare in mind that the above link is an affiliate link which nets me a small bounty for your signup, so it really goes a long way to help support the site and content like this without costing you a penny! And if you really want to take it to the next level, check out my Patreon account. I share exclusive flash fiction and more, so go check it out and see what tickles your fancy! Your choice, blue pill or red pill. Or better yet, take both!

Well, that’s all from me today. Let me know what you thought of the flash fiction, and how do you feel about the lockdown. Are you getting tired of it yet, or just doing your bit to manage as well as you know how?

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