Maia armistead1

casual.ties

New Zealand

I tell the story
Of a girl who lives
In the mind of an old man
200 years before my time
All because I read
Four pages of a leather-bound book
In the back corner of a library
When I wanted a place to
Escape to

Maia armistead1
1

casual.ties (New Zealand) published:

Mara Bennett

PROMPT: Novel Writing Competition

Mara Bennett was a girl with a share of imagination that well exceeded the limit of her skull; and, like a 1 litre pitcher filled with 2 litres of orange juice, some of it was bound to spill out sooner or later. It also meant that whoever thought it was a good idea to pour 2 litres of orange juice into a 1 litre pitcher was going to get rather sick and tired of mopping it up off the kitchen...

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Maia armistead1
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casual.ties (New Zealand) published:

Mara Bennett

PROMPT: Novel Writing Competition

Mara Bennett was a girl with a share of imagination that well exceeded the limit of her skull; and, like a 1 litre pitcher filled with 2 litres of orange juice, some of it was bound to spill out sooner or later. It also meant that whoever thought it was a good idea to pour 2 litres of orange juice into a 1 litre pitcher was going to get rather sick and tired of mopping it up off the kitchen...

Seeking Peer Reviews

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casual.ties (New Zealand) published:

Mara Bennett

PROMPT: Novel Writing Competition

Mara Bennett was a girl with a share of imagination that well exceeded the limit of her skull; and, like a 1 litre pitcher filled with 2 litres of orange juice, some of it was bound to spill out sooner or later. It also meant that whoever stupidly thought it was a good idea to pour 2 litres of orange juice into a 1 litre pitcher was going to get rather sick and tired of mopping it up off the...

Seeking Peer Reviews

17 days ago

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casual.ties (New Zealand) published:

A girl and a boy play chess

PROMPT: The Art of Specificity

1. A girl and a boy play chess. Brother and sister, with dark hair and light eyes. Their mother watches, silent. The girl starts, and the brother believes he is going to win. He is wrong. His sister wins the game. 


​2. A girl and a boy play chess. They are both dark-haired and light-eyed, siblings. Their mother stands in the corner of the room, silent, watching. To begin the game the girl moves the white pawn, and the boy...

Seeking Peer Reviews

about 1 month ago

Published Work

Novel Writing Competition

Mara Bennett

Mara Bennett was a girl with a share of imagination that well exceeded the limit of her skull; and, like a 1 litre pitcher filled with 2 litres of orange juice, some of it was bound to spill out sooner or later. It also meant that whoever thought it was a good idea to pour 2 litres of orange juice into a 1 litre pitcher was going to get rather sick and tired of mopping it up off the kitchen bench. Mara’s mother, Mrs Bennett, was at her wits end with orange juice after 18 years. She believed it was beginning to stain the carpets. While most parents encouraged their children to embrace things such as individuality and creativity, Mrs Bennett endeavoured not to dabble in these areas, and this was something she tried to pass onto her only daughter. While most people resorted to force to try and get their children outside, Mrs Bennett resorted to increasingly ridiculous statements...

Novel Writing Competition

Mara Bennett

Mara Bennett was a girl with a share of imagination that well exceeded the limit of her skull; and, like a 1 litre pitcher filled with 2 litres of orange juice, some of it was bound to spill out sooner or later. It also meant that whoever thought it was a good idea to pour 2 litres of orange juice into a 1 litre pitcher was going to get rather sick and tired of mopping it up off the kitchen bench. Mara’s mother, Mrs Bennett, was at her wits end with orange juice after 18 years. She believed it was beginning to stain the carpets. While most parents encouraged their children to embrace things such as individuality and creativity, Mrs Bennett endeavoured not to dabble in these areas, and this was something she tried to pass onto her only daughter. While most people resorted to force to try and get their children outside, Mrs Bennett resorted to increasingly ridiculous statements...

Novel Writing Competition

Mara Bennett

Mara Bennett was a girl with a share of imagination that well exceeded the limit of her skull; and, like a 1 litre pitcher filled with 2 litres of orange juice, some of it was bound to spill out sooner or later. It also meant that whoever stupidly thought it was a good idea to pour 2 litres of orange juice into a 1 litre pitcher was going to get rather sick and tired of mopping it up off the kitchen bench. Mara’s mother was this unfortunate person, and she was at her wits end with orange juice after 18 years. She believed it was beginning to stain the carpets. While most parents encouraged their children to embrace things such as individuality and creativity, Mrs Bennett endeavoured not to dabble in these areas, and this was something she tried to pass onto her only daughter. While most people resorted to force to try and get their children outside, Mrs Bennett...

The Art of Specificity

A girl and a boy play chess

1. A girl and a boy play chess. Brother and sister, with dark hair and light eyes. Their mother watches, silent. The girl starts, and the brother believes he is going to win. He is wrong. His sister wins the game. 


​2. A girl and a boy play chess. They are both dark-haired and light-eyed, siblings. Their mother stands in the corner of the room, silent, watching. To begin the game the girl moves the white pawn, and the boy moves the black pawn in response. The brother is concentrated, he refuses to let his mind wander. I'm the oldest he thinks, ​I deserve to win. His sister is four years younger but she is solemn and determined. She moves her bishop and looks up to gauge her brothers reaction, but he doesn't even blink. The brother watches her play. She's a good player he says to himself, but I'm better. I have to win. The sister has her next move...

Dialogue Dexterity

The Traffic Light

She ordered a traffic light. Not once has she ever finished the whole drink, but still, any time she sees it on a menu she whines and bargains until somebody breaks and gets it for her. When it arrived at the table she grinned. It always came in a pretty glass with some tropical umbrella or curly straw that made every kid in the restaurant turn and stare. I kept my eyes on her as she took the first sip and smirked when I saw her face scrunch up in disgust. Ten minutes, I thought, I give her ten minutes until she gives up. 

I was wrong. It only took five. 
"Does anyone want to try some of my drink?" she asked. "It's so good."
"Well if it was that good you'd have finished it by now." I replied.
She just rolled her eyes at me and shoved the straw between my lips. I sucked up a sickly sweet, tri-coloured...

Flash Fiction Competition

Maggie Magnolia

Magnolia trees bloom in autumn,
and die the very next day. First they flower, but in a moment, all that's left are white petals on the ground. It's sinister, Maggie thought. Living, dying. That's supposed to take a lifetime.
Magnolia blossoms live and die forever. 
Maggie was named after that tree, but she couldn't remember ever been called Magnolia. Maggie, Magnolia. Living and dying forever. 
Magnolia's are difficult trees to climb. 
The first time Maggie climbed the tree to the top, she was 12 years old. It was also the last.
Magnolia branches are strong.
But not strong enough. 

Flash Fiction Competition

Maggie Magnolia

Magnolia trees bloom in autumn,
and die the very next day. First they flower, but in a moment, all that's left are white petals on the ground. It's sinister Maggie thought. Living, dying. That's supposed to take a lifetime.
Magnolia trees live and die forever. 
Maggie was named after that tree, but she couldn't remember ever been called Magnolia. Maggie Magnolia. Living and dying forever. 
Magnolia's are difficult trees to climb. 
The first time Maggie climbed the tree to the top, she was 12 years old. (It was also the last).
Magnolia branches are strong.
But not strong enough. 

Writing Small

Birth

I am an atom. No; I am made of atoms. My heart glows like the sparks from the strike of a matchstick, and the particles swarm, like moths to a light, towards it. I am a hiccup in the space time continuum that just keeps on rupturing until, finally, life. 

Living Locales

Life

My bedroom moves around me. The bedsheets writhe, the wardrobe door drags itself across its hinges and whines in the middle of the night. The blinds open and close, and send flickers of light onto the wall that melts away like ice, and the paint drips down onto my eyelids and glues them closed. 
The books in my shelf reproduce, rewrite themselves. They create new storylines that I convince myself I'd simply forgotten. Their fingers scratch new ending onto old pages, and I programme myself to believe the sound is the birds on the roof. 
The floor is sensitive, my footsteps cast ripples along the carpet like a skipping stone. When I move with heavy footfalls it groans in pain, and doesn't let me move until I apologise. 
The room is made of cells, they swim and rupture and repair. My room is as alive as I am. 
It grows as I do, and no matter how tall I grow...

Poetry and Spoken Word Competition

Little things

He spent his years
floating through
acrylic blue skies
and metallic seas,
And caught mechanical birds
In sugar spun nets.

He painted stars
across gauzy
six o'clock skies,
and closed his doors
against the rain
to keep the carpets of
his mind safe
from mould and damp.

He had calm moments
of ephemeral inspiration,
where he wondered
exactly why the world
looks so different
on a Saturday,
and how winter
makes everything
look lonely.

His life trickled out
on every acre,
and stained his bare feet
the colour of grape juice.
He cut snowflakes
out of paper and
strung them across his
windowsills, and wondered how
long it would take to fall
all the way from the moon.

He spoke in staccato bursts,
as if his tongue could never
quite catch up to the mechanical
whirring in his brain
that struck the silence
like a bass line,
and his syncopated heart
​fell short with every beat.

I Remember

n

I remember how blue eyes look when they smile.

I remember that roses look more beautiful when they are dying.

I remember the sound of cards being dealt, and the smell of old wool, but I do not remember how to play go fish.

I remember her in photographs, but never outside of the frame.

I remember that I am the only one who likes black jelly beans. 

I remember that I am not strong. 

I remember the taste of lime cordial, and how the cold made my teeth burn. 

I remember, but not all the time. 

I forget that there is a word that means always. 

I forget how to tell the truth. 

I live for the moments I remember, but sometimes, it is so much easier to forget. 


 

WILD

Where are the wild things?

Where are the wild things?

Do they hide
in dark places
like under beds
and in the place you see
when you close
your eyes?

Do they sneak
up behind you
or do they
whisper past
like spirits
that are barely there?

Do they like quiet 
places, and hide between
your sighs
when you sleep,
or do they  
hide in the timbre

Of your voice?
Are they even out
there at all?
Or are they 
someplace else.
How do we know

If the wild things 
are behind bushes or
under beds,
or if they are
inside us?

 

Becoming Human

Strings

1. It's like waking. The one in the front drags a lonely finger across its strings, barely a caress. Just enough to test if the beauty is still there. It feels like a sunrise, as the others bow their heads towards the early riser. Their wooden muscles are taut as they poise themselves, some still, pressed against the necks of another, others clutched between knees, tense and brooding. They watch. And then it begins.

2. Like clockwork. Melodies emanate from the front section, teasing at tongues, tracing across your spine. Intricate dancing of horsehair fingers across metal strings, grating along the ridges in a way that allows you to hear every dip and knot in the tone. Every imperfection. Then comes the depth. Solid tones like honey and steam. Sticky, something you want to dig your teeth into. Their wooden bodies thrum with the power of earthquakes and hurricanes. The orchestra seems to open their mouths and chorus at the...

What Came Before

​Running Away

Two months ago I landed myself in prison by driving a stolen car through the botanical gardens. Two months on and I’m here, standing on the doorstep of a house with a green door. Arugula Green, to be exact. I know because I helped choose it. It was unusual to me that it had faded, that the months had passed without me, as if time should have stood still in my absence. I could imagine him inside this very house, glasses askew, hair mussed, as usual. You can’t take him anywhere. Probably drinking coffee with too much sugar in it for it to be considered coffee at all. His job at the call centre would be forcing him out of the green front door and into his old silver Honda in a few minutes. He’d always hated that job with a passion, but I could tell he was going to get out of there someday. Maybe today, if he agreed....

Novel Writing Competition

Ground Cumin

When I asked my mother what my name was she laughed at me, and went back to stirring a pot on the stove. I think it was soup, because the room smelt like chorizo and my mother makes the best chickpea and chorizo soup. My mother could have been a chef I think, because I can still remember the taste of that soup in my mouth, and I haven’t remembered anything in a long time.  When I asked again she stopped. She put the wooden spoon down on the breakfast bar and searched for a joke in my eyes.

“Are you feeling okay?” she asked, stepping closer, studying me suspiciously as if she was expecting me to burst into laughter and tease her for falling for it. It would help if I knew what she would have been falling for, because I’m pretty sure the prankster is supposed to know what the joke is when they’re making it.

I suppose...

Why I Write

I write

I write to bring history into colour, to fill pages that were once blank with masterpieces of unknown fortune. I write to make fiction into fact, to solidify worlds that were once built of toothpicks and craft glue. I write because my favourite symphony is the sound of thoughts being scratched onto paper, because the solid beat of pen-clicks is the metronome that keeps my life in time. I write because it is the only thing I'm sure that I love.  

Novel Writing Competition

Ground Cumin

When I asked my mother what my name was she laughed at me, and went back to stirring a pot on the stove. I think it was soup, because the room smelt like chorizo and my mother makes the best chickpea and chorizo soup. My mother could have been a chef I think, because I can still remember the taste of that soup in my mouth, and I haven’t remembered anything in a long time.  When I asked again she stopped. She put the wooden spoon down on the breakfast bar and searched for a joke in my eyes.

“Are you feeling okay?” she asked, stepping closer, studying me suspiciously as if she was expecting me to burst into laughter and tease her for falling for it. It would help if I knew what she would have been falling for, because I’m pretty sure the prankster is supposed to know what the joke is when they’re making it.

I suppose...

Universal Knowledge

Language

Our language lies is the hidden glances between hooded eyes, and whispered words in an unfamiliar tongue. 

10 Second Essays

Time passing

1. I may live by the rules of time and space, but I am not controlled by them. 
2. Everything is never nothing, but nothing is always everything. 
3. Every day the sky is a different colour, and every day I am a different girl.

Flash Fiction Competition

How do they stand it?

How do they stand it? I wonder as I watch them layer voices and tear them away like a game of pass-the-parcel. How do they stand the noise? How do they stay beautiful and abrasive, how do they get forgiven but never forgive? This is what I wonder when I sit at a lunch table, so close to the people I know but too far to drag them away with me. Their sandpaper voices graze my skin until I am as raw as the rest of them. I want to be quiet, but I don't want to be alone. 

Playwriting Competition

Ménage

Gwen and Clint are running around the paved outskirts of a park at night, the streets are deserted.

GWEN   Only you...

CLINT   What?

GWEN   Only you would make someone run at this hour of the night.

CLINT   It's cooler, and anyway, if some dodgy homeless guy comes up to us we can work on our combat skills as well as our fitness.

GWEN   As if, you'd probably just ask him for fashion advice.

CLINT   Why must you hurt me so? I pride myself on my collection of vintage T-Shirts.

GWEN   You do realise having holes in them doesn't actually make them vintage, right?

CLINT   I'm not going to answer that question, and how are you not tired yet? You've hardly left the house in three years, let alone gone running.

GWEN   All those years of beating you in fights benefited my fitness, I guess being the superior sibling does that to...

Mysteries Abound

Who we are

We know who we are. Kind of. We can see ourselves in abstract terms. The peace keeper, the optimist, the sister, the writer. We can see ourselves in the distorted reflections of dirty bathroom mirrors, in the rippling images on puddles of collected rainwater. We can see the marks our feet leave behind, but we will never know of the quieter, unseen impact that hangs in the air once we leave a room. We don't know anything in specifics, but we can watch numbers flicker on calculator screens and watch red lines incline on graphs and pretend we know exactly what they mean. We can map out constellations and guess at their origin, we can make up stories and they can become a part of history. We can write books and create new worlds, even though we don't understand our own. We don't know who we are, but do we really want to?

Playwriting Competition

Ménage


Gwen and Clint are running around the paved outskirts of a park at night, the streets are deserted.

GWEN   Only you...

CLINT   What?

GWEN   Only you would make someone run at this hour of the night.

CLINT   It's cooler, and anyway, if some dodgy homeless guy comes up to us we can work on our combat skills as well as our fitness.

GWEN   As if, you'd probably just ask him for fashion advice.

CLINT   Why must you hurt me so? I pride myself on my collection of vintage T-Shirts.

GWEN   You do realise having holes in them doesn't actually make them vintage, right?

CLINT   I'm not going to answer that question, and how are you not tired yet? You've hardly left the house in three years, let alone gone running.

GWEN   All those years of beating you in fights benefited my fitness, I guess being the superior sibling does that to...

Did I ever tell you the story?

"So once there was a man, who was... a prince. And he knew he had a kingdom to run somewhere out there; but he never looked. For the prince loved stories so much that in time, he lost himself in them. One day, the prince decided to look out his window after hearing noises out there. He saw the village, all the people out there, so much more than ink and paper. They were all so beautiful, so solid. Happy, bright. He wanted so much to join them, but as he rose to run to the door, he found he could barely stand. He coughed and fell back down, all of a sudden so weak. His coughs alerted the village, and they broke down the walls, their lost prince found once again. They were overjoyed, but the prince hadn't even the strength to smile. But even dying, he was still a prince, and he told the village,
"Don't you worry,...

Time Traveler

1942

The room was dripping with the scent
of red lipstick and satin,
and figures waltzed
through the cigarette smog.

She suited the harshness.
The synthetic tones of darkness
tainted by the urban glow,
and light through champagne glasses.

This place was far from home.
It was loud, and the floor where she stood
was littered with the aftermath of human nature.
Destruction. And life.

She was the rose 
that refused to be strangled
by the weeds that grew there.
She was. No more.












 

All Talk

Mr. Fox?

What?
Hi, Mr Fox, is it?
That's me.
I work at a publishing company, and I’m supposed to be finding work from ‘promising new authors’ and-
No.
Sir, if you'll just consider, we could-
I said no.
...
...
It really is a fascinating story. I read it all, practically begged to be the one to come and ask you.
I suppose you expect me to be touched by that.
Not at all, Mr Fox.
Sullivan.
...What?
Sullivan. That's my name.
Yes.. I know.
Use it then.
Okay then... Sullivan, I best be going. Unless you're willing to reconsider?
Not in the near future.
In the far future then?
I'm sure you'll find some way to persuade me.
I'll try my very best, Sir.
Now get out of my house.
Of course, Sullivan.

Five sides

- She leaves her curtains open at night
watches the streetlight's shimmer from her window.

- She fails art class horribly but fills pages with words
that are a special kind of masterpiece.

- She watches too many super hero movies,
and listens to classical music in the car.

- She loves to dance but never learnt
so turns lopsided pirouettes around her living room.

- She doesn't finish stories and can never think of endings
so writes a thousand beginnings to make up for it.

The end.
 

Finding Mara

Sullivan Fox hated light wash wood. The way the sun hit it made him feel sick, so of course, the house he sat in now was completely furnished in it. The living room table was, so he let his coffee cup stain it without feeling any regret. There was an alternative, but that included leaving the room and rummaging around to find the coasters in one of the opened but further untouched boxes that were still sitting in the hall, and that was far below the last bullet point on his list of priorities. The blinds were up, and the sun was almost unpleasantly bright, on the verge of synthetic, and the need to squint his eyes every time he looked in the wrong direction was disrupting his Zen. Finding himself here had not been entirely his choice, but it was the best he could do with such a short amount of time. He had brought the house for two...

Quartet

Casualties

He hated light wash wood, stockpiled lasagne in his freezer. He was a horrible typer and had coffee stains on his table. 

After... After... After

After Life

After long nights and open windows, after glow in the dark stars and ugly reflections in tainted glass, after promises that have turned to rust and gold that turns the colour of the sky. After what? After rubble and wreckage, blonde guitars and short dresses, permanent marker on wood. After years that felt like seconds, and pain that was never supposed to end. After life. After life. After life.

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25 Likes from Others

Mara Bennett

Liked by 1 person

Mara Bennett

Liked by 1 person

Mara Bennett

Liked by 4 people

Ground Cumin

Liked by 8 people

A girl and a boy play chess

Liked by 2 people

The Traffic Light

Liked by 2 people

Birth

Liked by 2 people

Maggie Magnolia

Liked by 7 people

Maggie Magnolia

Liked by 2 people

Life

Liked by 1 person

Where are the wild things?

Liked by 1 person

Ground Cumin

Liked by 5 people

​Running Away

Liked by 6 people

n

Liked by 1 person

Soul flowers

Liked by 1 person

I write

Liked by 1 person

Strings

Liked by 2 people

1942

Liked by 3 people

Did I ever tell you the story?

Liked by 1 person

Who we are

Liked by 1 person

Sandpaper stars

Liked by 3 people

Five sides

Liked by 2 people

Life in context

Liked by 1 person

She was

Liked by 2 people

After Life

Liked by 1 person

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