Rome! Have you ever seen the Colosseum?
Beautiful isn't it; how strange it is that things of immense beauty contain contrasting
From the outside tourists marvel at the grand scale and arresting architecture, it
is ideal for a photograph or postcard.
Step inside, though, and a whole complexity of emotions will haunt the senses.
Stand on the arena floor and wonder how many men and women have followed your steps into oblivion.
Tell me you are not depressed by the sense of death and sacrifice.
When criminals broke the law of Rome they were sent to the Colosseum, the inside of the theatre was seen to represent the wild lawlessness of nature, signifying that the games participants were no longer under the protection of the civilised world, or Rome, hence lions and other wild beasts being set upon unfortunate victims.
In one building both civilisation and extreme lawless barbarism are represented.
Let us travel through Rome's modern streets, past the majestic buildings towering over thick-stale communities humming with the shock of humanity, down the Via Nazionale, past the Pantheon, designed by that most famous Hellenist whose love of the arts was rivalled only by his famed temper and ruthlessness, just ask the Jews. Indeed a grandiose building regularly defecated on by homeless column dwellers.
On our fly-by visit through the eternal city we stop at a typical Roman café of Greek design, filled with ladies who lunch, Japanese and American tourists, typically Roman as I have already mentioned.
At the front of house is an antique stained dark wooden bar, past this is a labyrinthine series of small salons decorated with circular marble topped tables of Napoleonic design. This is where we meet our heroine, sat against a backdrop of paintings from the Romantic period and antique mirrors hung on a wall of red and gold damask.
The café has the typically Italian smell of coffee beans and stale cigarette smoke, the girl is absorbed in the reverie of people watching.
She loves looking at the clothes with which the young Italians fashionably adorn themselves; also she was surprised at the radical Asians who seem to
be springing up all of a sudden, whether they are Chinese or Japanese she could never
She liked watching them from behind her magazine rampart; she felt a disturbing sense of inferiority when she looked down at her baggy jeans.
The girl was in Rome finishing off her education, her face was slightly chubby but because of her full lips it all seemed in proportion and symmetrically pleasing to the eye.
Any Englishman could see that she was middle-class; she had the shyness of a schoolteacher's daughter, one of those girls that carried a clarinet to school.
She was beautiful, but by the way she carried herself, it was evident that she spent most of her youth flying under the radar. Most of the boys in her village regretted not noticing her while they had the chance, now they only see her when she pays half term visits to her parents, all metropolitan and out of their reach, village boys are so simple, they bored her with conversation of industry and sports.
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - The Mother From Hell (following on from A Depressive and a Botched Suicide) By Laura Fry
Outside, a woman in late middle-age tries to look through the large crematorium doors.
Despite the November wind, she is dressed in six-inch stilettos, thin stockings and a tiny mini skirt which leaves nothing to the imagination.
One mourner hears a sound over the music and makes her way outside, aghast.
Fiction - Loved Ones By Emma Williamson
I remember the day my mother and father split up. All the family had gone out for the day with our parent's friends, Claire and Craig and their two daughters, Lauren and Molly. Me and my two younger brothers, Jasper and Cohen were in the ball pit with Lauren and Molly.
'Silver, drink!' Jasper announced, he was only 3 years old and hadn't quite grasped the concept of full sentences yet.
Fiction - What Colour My Dear? (Exercise in experimenting with different voices)
By Michelle Dee
"What colour my dear?"
"Blue. Yes blue to match my mood."
"Why so blue dear on such a promising day?"
"Well I'll tell you. I have just this moment been turned down yet again for employment; that is the third this morning if you please. I am doomed never to find a suitable position.
Fiction - Replacing Sheila By Gary Clark
She was a sorry sight Sheila, sat all day in a corner of the room, moving only occasionally to look through the window when the front gate rattled or a car door slammed.
But it was never him and her watery eyes soon closed again, sadly, as she returned to her fitful dozing. Old age takes its toll on us all eventually.
Poor Shelia, cast aside like an old
Fiction - Equus Mal-Amour By Frankie Lassut
Every time Roger fell out with Trudy, he took it out on Selina.
Saturday nights were the worst. Roger and Trudy would go out pubbing, Selina would of course stay at home, dreading the unhappy couple returning at 12.30 - 1am.
It was always the same. Selina would hear them coming up the lane.
"Don't you fuckin deny it! I saw the way you looked at her!"
"Oh, stop being so fucking stupid!
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Sundog By Amanda Lowe
I have my yellow boots on to walk the dog who is scratting at the door, he knows it's time to go. Outside, he's running ahead like a mad thing as my yellow boots squelch flat fields, left foot, right foot.
Striding along the bank, lost in thoughts, I stop and gawp at a sundog, reflection of the sun in the sky. The sun and its doppelganger side by side, striving to outshine each other.
Fiction - The Lie of the Land By Steve Rudd
So I ran.
I ran, and I ran, and I ran.
Nothing means anything when eagerly anticipated phone calls never come.
All those wasted Sundays slumped beside the phone add up.
Ah, heartbreak. You've got to hate it. But you've also got to take it.
The hardest thing of all is resisting the urge to break the ice, to ring first,
to put words into your mouth
Fiction - Too Late To Call By Sarah Ann Watts
The bus pulls out of the station. I check my watch - I am not too late. I close my eyes, pretend to sleep.
The witching hour is yet to come. I told you I would be home by midnight. You like to know where I am. I tell you I can protect myself and you shake your head in doubt. 'Be careful. It isn't the same world.'
I laugh at your fears and paint my lips and smile.
Fiction - The Day By Danny Swain
Ray turns the CD player off as he answers the phone. The sound of waves crashing against a beach fills his ear. Jenny wipes the plate and puts it on the draining board. A man appears at the kitchen window. Benjamin pulls the car into the drive and gets out. He hears a noise in the garage.
Mary locks her front door and buttons up her coat. Read more...
Fiction - Blood in the Bath By Leah Scarpati
It was Halloween night and the weather suitably matched the mood of the evening. Like a parody of a horror film, the wind howled at forty miles per hour, blowing the dried up autumn leaves up into mini tornadoes down the deserted and dimly lit street. The odd raindrop fell from the sky, threatening to pour down but unable to carry out the threat to its full potential.
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - A Scene In Suburban Hell By Laura Fry
Nothing unusual ever happens in Sandwalsh. People don't tend to move away to pastures new. They know their neighbours, even if they are not exactly friends.
Perhaps they cry into their IKEA pillows every night, out of boredom, depression or sheer frustration, but if they do, they most definitely hide the unfortunate fact from public view. What people think is
Fiction - Career Opportunities A Joe Geraghty story
I was sat on an amplifier in the band's rehearsal room on Wincolmlee, secreted away on Bankside, a decaying industrial area of Hull. In front of me was the city's hottest band, Witham, presumably named after the area on the edge of the city centre.
Talk about a lack of imagination. From the way they were lounging around the room, I assumed I
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - The Hand that Rocked the Cradle By Lin Whitehouse
Hearing his mother's footsteps, the boy climbed out his bedroom window. They were both angry. He wanted to run away but it was a long drop and he might hurt himself.
She shouted when she saw him, sitting on the tiled roof, suddenly scared and remembering a time she had climbed out of a similar window.
He hugged his knees not wanting to look at her; she could not look away
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Resurrection By Leah Scarpati
The rhythmical drip-drip of condensation echoed around the cave. Kate couldn't see her hand in front of her face, were her eyes even open? The fall had shattered her torch as well as her ankle; as the pain continued to bite, panic rose. She couldn't feel her toes.
Hours of calling for help had been swallowed by the chasm of darkness,
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - The Latter-Day Luddite Saves the Day By Laura Fry
The police were on a coffee break, at a loss. Despite all the technology, the wanted man had got the better of them. They didn't notice the young woman at the opposite table with an old-fashioned tape recorder, on her way to teach a friend's child German.
She had found the man who had just left the café somewhat suspicious and pressed record.
This latter-day Luddite was able to tell
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Lost Property By Manuro
My dreadful husband died at an elephant hospice. To this day, whenever I see a sick elephant I feel a rush of overwhelming joy! I changed my name in 1979 and never foresaw the problems this would entail - car insurance, washing machine hire purchase agreements.
Women are named through male lineage: we disappear over time, our identity the property of others.
Fiction - Two Sides of the Same Tattoo Needle. By Leah Scarpati
Well I can certainly say I've learned my lesson! Mummy had always warned me about expressing myself through body art, tattoos, piercings and such like; but the more she told me not to, the more determined I became to disobey her.
"It's just not what people like us do dahhling," she purred in-between a long drag of a cigarette and a sip of her dry martini. "Just because
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Beginnings and Endings By Lin Whitehouse
It's a hypothetical question, what if - my father hadn't died in June - I hadn't known about my husband's girlfriend - I hadn't looked up when I did?
I was caught in a web and struggled to avoid his gaze, felt myself flush. I drowned in his smiling eyes. Could he see my outer sorrow, sense the inner excitement I concealed?
It's funny, funerals signify an end, but I felt something was
Fiction - Hangover By Leah Scarpati
The day ended as it had begun - disastrously. From the minute she opened one sticky mascara eye, then the other and the hangover woodpecker began to tap-tap-tap at her head; she knew the day was a right off. Her head hurt so much she could she feel her hair growing, her tongue was dry like an arid river bed and was fixed to the top of her mouth;
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Say No More By Joe Hakim
I'm on my way to the shops. I don't see him until I nearly step on his head.
I look down at the man on the floor, and notice he's on a bike - crotch on seat, feet on pedals, hands on handlebar. Like he's been zapped by a super-villain's freeze ray and toppled over.
I look around to make sure it isn't some kind of prank.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," he replies.
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - A Depressive and a Botched Suicide By Laura Fry
And once again boats sail down the Danube, but you; don't worry about me any more, I'm like leaves, the wind blows me away, wolves die alone...
The mourners read the translation of the deceased's beloved Croatian song. The male voice booms from the CD through Hull Crematorium, bringing additional shivers to the late autumn Yorkshire morning. The European flag
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Fun and Games By Shep
It was easier than he thought. Several swings of the bat and his problem had disappeared like the last drag of his cigarette. He looked at the windows adjacent to where he stood; half expecting to see the neighbours looking on with horror and disgust, but there was not a face in sight.
He smiled to himself and walked down the garden path back to his front door. Read more...