Santillana del Mar, Cantábria, España

Saturday, 15 June 2019

⌗WEP-IWSG challenge, CAGED BIRD, Friday 14th June 2019

Good Morning, and thank you for visiting.

I signed up for the June Challenge of the combined WEP-IWSG community of writers.
If you would like to know more about Write...Edit...Publish go here
and the Insecure Writers' Support Group  go here

I wrote a short story for February, theme, 28 DAYS that you can read here
I did not write anything for Jewel Box because  I was participating in the A to Z Challenge April 2019 (Tenth Anniversary) for the first time and still groping around for my marks !
If you would like to sign up for the next (August) challenge go here and save the page.

Here is my short story with the theme CAGED BIRD.
It is set in Sitges, Catalunya, on the Mediterranean coast.

Where I wrote the story. Been going there since 2009. Home away from Home, every May.

Tim and Sam

The early morning sun crests the Garraf and twinkles onto the sea. A shaft of golden green paints a path onto the lapping waves. As the minutes pass, the carpet of cloud rolls up as the orb climbs the cliffs to explode in the sky.
Timothy, on his terrace, sips at his tea and nibbles on an apricot cereal bar. A bowl of strawberry flavoured cream bears witness to an earlier feast on awakening.

                  ' You're up early ! ' Sam crumpled features appear through the French windows to the terraza. He pulls up the chaise-longue to bask in the clear breeze.
                    ' The parade is this afternoon, remember ! I still have some last details to attend to. '
                    ' I thought Luis had everything in hand ! '
                    ' You know me, I don't want to leave anything to chance. '
                    ' Control freak ! ' Sam scolded playfully.
                    ' On ne se refait pas ! '
                    ' Would you like some breakfast ? Although it looks like you have a head's start. '
                    ' Quit taunting ! If you're making tea, brew a full pot, will you please ! I'll just nip into
                      the shower. '

Sam hands him his canvas bag overflowing with accessories and Tim grabs his keys.

                      ' See you near the Platja de Terramar at 2.00, be on time !'
                   ' Don't worry, I'll be back from my four-hour hike in the Garraf...' Tim narrows his eyes and his teeth clench. ' Just kidding ! You should see your face ! You're such an easy target. '

                  Tim closes the door behind him and clatters down the narrow winding, paint-flaked, wooden staircase. He secures his canvas bag in the basket and hops onto his bicycle.
The town is quiet. Some late-night revellers are talking loudly on the beach, re-inventing the World. Some early bathers are criss-crossing laps in the sea. A few wisps of dawn clouds linger. No wind disturbs the surface of the water. The midget waves break, whispering on the fine sand.
                    Tim turns into Luis' courtyard and stands his bike next to the workshop door. Luis is drinking coffee, still in his bathrobe, shiny-eyed, dishevelled head.

                         ' Todavía, no estas listo ! '
                         ' Charlando con amigos y cerveza hasta las dos ! ' Luis replies.
                         ' Fissa, tenemos que levar todo el equipaje hasta el magatzem . '

At the warehouse:

                     ' Podremos, quizá , poner mas flores alrededor de su cabeza, torsado en la corona !          
                       Que opines ? '
                     ' Si, si, buena idea.'
Tim and Luis select a few irises and pink roses to stick in the thorns about the statue's head. She looks stunning. A bright muslin dress flows around her legs and reveals an ample bosom, in a tight V decolleté. Her giant feet with splayed painted toes stand in light leather sandals.
Satisfied with their creation, Tim, Luis and a few other members of their gang shove at the levers around the float and stir the wheels towards the sliding doors of the hangar.
Tim steps outdoors and joins the Mayor and Esteban, the parade supervisor.
                              ' Estamos listos, esperando en su siñal.'  Tim greeted them.
                       ' Bien, bien. Unos rezagados todavía . Digamos un quarto de hora antes de empezar a constituir la fila,'  explained Esteban.

Sam is idly gazing over the ripples, looking at the gulls dipping in and out of the surface, emerging with gleaming peixets. The parade should be coming from the Avinguda de Salvador Cassacuberta any minute now. Tim had sent a text. Sam heard the band first. Trumpets, cymbals, trombone and Sac de Gemecs. Then, at tree level, he glimpses feathers, bright specks against dark green leaves.
The sight is awe-inspiring. Float upon float laden with baskets of flowers: roses, tulips, irises, lavender...surround the statues. Queens, princesses, angels with gigantic breats and huge thighs bulging from tight robes. Some have beards, some have hair cascading to their feet. Reds, yellows, white, orange. Rainbow banners: ' Sitges, Juny 2019 '.
The paraders are all dressed up in gay dresses and suits. Some with plumed helmets or flower twirled crowns, others with hawaian reaths about their necks. Women, men. children join in. They dance to the thunderous tunes. They sing along to the Catalan chants.

Tim emerges from behind a winged gruffalo, jumps in motion and runs towards Sam onto the steps running along the Rambla.
The parade rolls and rumbles along the Passeig Maritim. The crowd leaves the floats on the Plaça dela Fregata to proceed up the steps. At the canons, they pause. Aficionados take pictures with the sea for background, sparkling under the late afternoon sun. They all climb the last steps to the Plaça del Baluard and the church bells toll to welcome them. Down the paved Caller de Fonoller, along the fishing harbour until they can no longer continue. They were not going to explore the goat trails of the Garraf , at least, not today.
Up through the cobbled alleys of the old town, they stamp or creep according to their disposition.
                             ' Una birra si us plau ! '
                             ' Una margarita per aqui. '
                             ' Un gin tonic amb un shot de tequila per aka. '

a blast of trumpets, a clash of cymbals and they are off to the next bar de nit, exceptionally open at this early hour. The big drum beats to the DJs' tunes and everyone dances: style or no style, nobody gives a hoot.

                                ' It's half-nine, better start for the Platja dela Ribera. ' Tim shouts to Sam above the din.
They jostle their way down the Caller de Bonaire and check on the floats. The Mayor has posted sentinels to guard the giants and their paraphernalia.

Suddenly a crack, a whoosh and the sky explodes into a billion stars. Best fireworks in the World !
A last blast takes flight and rains rainbow sparks.

                                  ' Here come the cages ! ' exclaims Sam.

The flower-weaved bars are opened and a hundred white doves take to the the moon. When the Ooohs and Aaahs, the applause have died down, Sam turns to Tim.

                                  ' Let's have a kid. '

Tim smiles, banana mouth.
                                  ' Gabriella can be our surrogate mother. ' he adds.

They put their hands around eachother's waists and sway towards home.


And just for fun, here is a poem that I wrote in December 2015, which is oddly appropriate....
I haven't changed a word ! The World works in mysterious ways !


I know why the caged bird sings.
he sings for freedom - he sings
to draw attention to his lot.

He sings to bear his confinement.
He sings as soon as the sun
crosses the horizon. He sings

to the sparrow, to the tit who sit
on the branches of the lime tree.
He sings to forget.

The caged bird sings
when he hears the bluejay
strain. He sings when 

the mockingbird is silent.
He sings because he was made
that way and his vocal chords

have not been taken away.
The truth is like a waddled-up
handkerchief soping wet

in a pocket. May the air flow 
through the bars and cool
the feathers

of the caged bird
when he has finished
his song.


Break Free, Queen, go here
Live Forever, Queen, extract Highlander. go here

Funeral for a friend, Sir Elton John, LIVE Prague, May 2019. go here
Song for a Guy, video, go here
Someone Saved my Life Tonight, LIVE, Old Grey Whistle, 1982. go here

Fool's Overture, Roger Hudgson, video, go here

Don't Give Up, Peter Gabriel, LIVE World Tour with Paula Cole, 1993. go here

My photos Sitges, 29th-31st May 2019

The Official guide to Sitges Gay Pride June 2019, on Wordpress, go here

Sitges tourist information site, Visit Sitges, go here

Thank you for visiting and reading. Please feel free to like/dislike, comment, discuss and I will be sure to reply and visit your blog to read your own contribution.
Sunny here in Toulouse, Spring in full bloom, Summer soon.
Have an inspiring weekend.


  1. That was a fascinating read. My writer's mind kept wondering where the caged birds were going to be inserted. Such an atmospheric story. I loved all the detail. I found some common points between my story and yours. The sea, for example and the second is a surprise that I don't want to spoil for anyone who may head over to read it. Well done.

    1. Thank you Kalpana for visiting. Glad you enjoyed it. Will shortly visit your blog to read your story..sounds intriguing. Am sure I will like it. Heatwave in France this week. Apart from writing and housework in the morning, haven’t been up to much. Sorry for the late reply.

  2. Nice take on the prompt. Wonderful parade descriptions.

    1. Thank you Toi for commenting. Am happy you thought my piece original. Have an inspiring week and I’ll see you next Wednesday on IWSG.

  3. Sure captured the parade atmosphere. A caged bird singing to be free could surely be too. Enjoyed the poem too.

    1. Thank you Pat. Happy you liked the poem. Will visit you shortly to read your contribution.


  4. This was an interesting read and a great take on the prompt. Your descriptions and photos make it read almost like a travelogue rather than fiction. I also applaud the Gay Pride oriented theme - topical and timely.

    Just a couple of suggestions for you to consider -

    1) Where does the conflict in this story lie? What does the protagonist want? If it lies in that Sam wants a child and Tim doesn't, or vice versa, then it needs an introduction earlier on and a fuller development before the ending resolves it. Gabriella needs an introduction too somewhere before the ending.

    2) Is the readership target bilingual? If it is, then the dialogue needn't be touched. But if not, a large part of the dialogue is written in a language other than English and readers like me who don't read it will not understand those parts. Some sort of glossary/explanation needs to be provided for them. An occasional word/phrase is great for atmosphere, but large amounts of text in another language interrupt the flow rather than advance the story.

    I enjoyed reading this flash, especially the vivid descriptions. Thank you for sharing this work at WEP.

    1. Thank you Nilanjana for reading and commenting so comprehensively. I réalisé that my short stories don’t always have a conflict/resolution dichotonomy. That is probably why, they are not often accepted for publication. However, I just enjoy writing them and often come across other writers who like reading them
      You, like many other bloggers who read this post, have a point about the language. When I think and write I use all my languages. Conversations come to mind in their original version, and they fit whatever the characters want to express. I hesitated about including footnotes, originally, then decided against it as an experiment to see how many of my readers it really put off. I read books in English and French fluently, newspapers and magazines in Spanish, Catalan and German..and only short stories in the latter, as my mastery is more limited. I will always prefer the original text, as so much is lost in translation, especially in creative writing and dialogue.
      Next time, I’ll put footnotes with an approximate translation though as I do recognize that it is a problem. But maybe it is time for English native speakers to start learning foreign languages !
      Have a lovely week.

  5. You really nailed the setting in this one. Everything felt really vivid and real.

    1. Thank you. Haven’t visited you in a while, though I know you write a lot . Will try to remedy, as the end of June means a bit more free time to read and write.
      Have an inspiring weekend.

  6. Great pieces especially the poem which was like a premonition of the theme. And you know I love Queen.

    Picking up on Nilanjana's point about your bilingual dialogue: my mother spoke to her Chilean mother in Spanish much of the time. My Spanish is 'rusty' so I found myself thrown out of the story as I tried to translate the dialogue. So, that detracted from the read and I missed details on my first read-through.

    1. Thank you Roland for visiting. I’m sorry for the late reply. Still haven’t caught up on all your Azure Spark, let alone the IWSG’s and WEP’s
      The might like to read my detailed reply to Nilanjana. I’m still figuring it out, what to do ? The novel I am writing would ideally be in French and English, at least the different dialogues...with fang and other Cameroonian ethnic languages thrown in...but I réalisé I would be catering for a limited readership.
      So that is the question ? A big fish in a small pond or a small fish in the ocean ?

    2. I've been pondering the language dilemma for a few says, Susan. I suspect that those English native speakers who learn another language are not proficient enough to switch as they read - I'm not able to in Spanish, French, German or Dutch; the four I know bits of. (My mother was fluently multi-lingual like you and could switch.)

      And then there is Welsh. I know a few phrases and add some into my Welsh police procedural - see Azure Spark. However, I attempt to create a context to make the Welsh understandable - even resorting to translations of sorts. But it's hard to do. I had to do it with my debut novel as that had French and Quebecois speakers.
      Context is the key and you did that in many cases above.

    3. Ah ! Today I can reply ! Why ?
      Thank you for the encouraging remarks on language, and your understanding. Will try to do better in August.
      Still haven’t seen your contribution. Behind, behind on commenting.

  7. A charming story. It would've read even better if there was no foreign language bits (or at least a translation in the footnotes). I noticed that a few other commenters mention the same factoid.

    1. Thank you Olga for reading. Glad you enjoyed it. The language..see my replies to Roland and Nilanjana.
      I had considered footnotes...but my translation wasn’t to my didn’t render the essence of the expressions used. I am not a born translator, as I learnt my languages independently from one another, without dictionaries !

  8. Vivid and exciting. I am glad that the doves finally got to fly free - as do so many gay people. Finally. Echoing others on the need for a translation.

    1. Thank you for reading. Happy you liked it.
      Language...see my replies to Olga, Roland and Nilanjana, above.
      Haven’t visited you in a while...will remedy this shortly.
      Have an inspiring weekend.

  9. Susan, it's a great story and the poem is certainly also perfect for the prompt. There are ways of using foreign language in stories. I use it in mine when I set stories in Italy or France. After using a foreign phrase, say a response so it's clear. For those foreign-language only passages of dialogue, most of us wouldn't have a clue which sorta spoiled it. But if you read books which use foreign phrases, you'll see that unless the phrases are common - like tres bien or something, the author always finds a way to show the meaning.

    Thanks for a great post for the prompt. Love the pics!!!!

    1. Thank you Denise for your positive feedback. I was going to provide footnotes but then wasn’t satisfied with my translation, so left it in original version, as an experiment... I’m glad to notice that many readers were not bothered, butrealise that the majority are.
      So thank you for your suggestions. I’ll have to work harder in the future at making the meaning clear despite the foreign ‘bits’. My characters just se their mother tongue, naturally, that’s how I hear them in my head ! But I have to find ways to work around that so that it does not disrupt the flow of my readers’ enjoyment.
      Have an inspiring week and thank you for hosting the WEP challenge, it unleashed an ocean of creativity. I have read some stunning stories this year.

  10. As others have mentioned, the dialogue in a different language meant a lot of meaning was lost for me, otherwise I enjoyed the descriptions of the parade.

    1. Thank you Sally.
      I enjoyed writing the descriptions of the parade immensely. It brought me back years...ago. I , in fact missed the gay pride of 2019 in Sitges. As we left on the 1st June, and it started in the afternoon until the 10th.

  11. VIvid imagery throughout! I hope Sam and Tim do get that child! :)

    1. Thanks Jemi for your lovely feedback.You have made my day by engaging so fully with my characters. Happy you enjoyed it.

  12. I've never been to any parade but this sounds fun although I do not understand the Italian (?) so no idea what those said. But this is a nice celebration of life, I do not think there should be a difference, gay or not, life is life.

    Have a lovely day.

    1. Hi Lissa. Replied to your comment on Wordpress, a few days ago, as Blogger was refusing to publish me on my own blog ! Go figure !

  13. Hi Susan - loved the poem and as you said just so right for this WEP. While the storyline of the parade and life in fiesta town ... just wonderful - great connection with Pride ... I too hope their wishes come true. Loved both reads - cheers Hilary

    1. Thanks Hilary. For some reason, my replies got swallowed up by blogger. Go figure.

  14. Hi,
    Your story was engaging. I knew early in the story that it was about gay pride since one of the largest gay parades is in Berlin, Germany. At least, I think it is one of the largest. I'm not sure.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

    1. Aleikoum salam Pat.
      Thank you for your praise. Sorry for the late reply. Comments and replies get sucked up by .... the spiderweb ... in mysterious ways ... I must have a fluid of sorts .... HA !

  15. This story worked wonderfully for the prompt, and I loved the celebratory feel of it. The poem was also marvelous! Well done!

    1. Thank you so much L.G. For visiting and for the praise. Keep up the hard work, see you in July and August.

  16. Very cool story.

    [ Sam crumpled features ] --- I feel like something's off there.

    Wow... gigantic breats ((breasts??) and beards? I have yet to see that combo at a pride parade. Seems my Queen friends need to catch up on the trends. I have, however, seen that combo in a LARP setting. I'd be so psyched for both of those to come together. (You know you wanna hang with gay Gandalf. Or would it be Gandalf the Gay? OMG. I want this to be real. Is it real? Google teased me something that looked like it, but it's actually just proud of doing LARP. Blarr... clearly we need more diversity in fantasy so this can become a thing. I'm rambling. Sorry.) (Another side note, I've been to a handful of pride events, and they were all in America during the Obama administration. So my perspective is limited.)

    Loved the pics that went with. More of those cages need to disappear. Love is love! We don't need to keep having the same debate. The rainbow has existed for thousands of years. No matter what cage "they" try to lock it in, it still exists. Just let be people. As long as things are consensual with those who are able to consent, rock on with whatever.

    1. The beards and gigantic breasts are not necessarily gay pride related as in Catalonia and the rest of Spain and Portugal for that matter, there is a tradition of giants at any parade with floats. The giants are most often, Kings and Queens, but sometimes bizarre combination of sexes, human/animal etc... especially during Carnaval. Sitges has a great Carnaval parade in February, so they tend to use floats in the same vein.
      Glad you enjoyed the story. Go Freedom !

  17. I like the back and forth banter. I could almost see them.

    I will give you a heads up for the future. When you use an expectation mark at the end of a sentence, it means the character is shouting.


    1. Thanks Nancy for the tip. Though I am not sure I agree ...

  18. A nice story (though would appreciate if the dialogues were translated. Had to keep switching between Google Translate & your blog to understand it)

    1. Thank you Bernadette. As you can infer from my numerous replies on the subject of language above... you were all my non consenting guinea-pigs for an experiment on how far I could get away with foreign dialogues ... My apologies. And please, don’t EVER use Google translate again ... it is abominably misleading and misinformed. I have now put it on this blog for any French people who have gone astray ... and still don’t read English ... Are they in for a surprise ! HA !

  19. Not sure if my comment went through...

  20. Since the second one showed up right away, I'll try again for my critique.

    First, this is a really nice, evocative vignette of an event and a relationship! The couple have a nice, easy way of being together.

    I struggled with my rusty and limited Spanish to make sense of the passages that weren't in English. Make mine another vote for using brief bits of Spanish, with responses and settings that make them self-explanatory, or else with translation.

    Finally, as I noted, it feels more like a scene from a longer work than a story unto itself. There's no conflict, no development. It's a beautiful scene, but it's not quite a story, in my opinion.

    1. Thank you Rebecca for your comment. Will try to do better in the future.
      Have an inspiring summer.


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