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Wonderful Stories & The Wonder of Travel

With several weeks left before final deadline in our latest ‘Wild Atlantic Writing Awards’ (WAWA), based on the theme of Love, we’re delighted to publish two more stories selected among finalists in our last competition on the theme of Nature.

Reflecting the diversity of award participants, Matham Ramesh from India was selected in the Top Ten in our Flash Fiction category while Abby McNab Crain from the United States achieved the same goal in our Creative Non Fiction category.

Want to develop your interest in travel writing, even host your own travel blog?

Our upcoming ‘Travel Writing Workshop’ on April 10th may be just the ticket.

Only a few places available.

Aside from receiving a Certificate of Completion, participants will:

- Learn more about the freelance market and best ways to enter it;

- Understand key elements of travel articles, from destination features and memoir to hotel and restaurant reviews;

- Develop effective strategies for research;

- Acquire the skills necessary to write an attractive pitch.

- And, more importantly, have your very own travel writing stories critiqued by Sean Hillen, an experienced writer-cum-editor whose experience includes

Fodor’s travel guides and major daily newspapers and magazines.

Consider the dynamics of Sean's own travel blog ‘World Itineraries.

The Click

by M. Ramesh

He takes up position behind a clump of tall grass, waiting for things to happen. His Nikon D610 is poised to capture the drama. The river flows placid, making tiny, monotonous noise like a boy rattling a jar of pebbles.

A sambar walks majestically to slake her thrust. He raises his Nikon and scans the waters expectantly.

There is disturbance near the other bank of the river. A pair of hooded eyes bob up, followed by a scaly body, swishing tail.

He lays himself flat on the mud, holding the Nikon in a crooked angle. They’d pay more for a shot of serrated teeth and pink entrails of the gaping mouth. The twisted head struggling between the jaws will fetch an award. He wants to capture the four legs up in the air. Would be allegorical—death is the inversion of life.

Her doe eyes blink innocently but he feels no pity. Fools die.

He stretches his hands out as far as they go. Click. She catches her thick, cupped tongue scooping water. Little streams shimmer as they cascade down the sides of her mouth. They are frozen—inside the Nikon.

The ‘log’ floats nearer without causing even a mild ripple. He admires the stealth.

She has only herself to blame, he shrugs. Isn’t the blackbird on the branch cawing incessantly? Why couldn’t the stupid animal take the warning? You are idiot, you pay for your idiocy with your life.

He slithers right, rises the Nikon as high as he could and Click! He catches the very moment she swishes her tail, getting a superb shot of her open vagina.

Randy girl!

The rogue approaches like a creeping shadow. His heart becomes an African drum. He lifts the Nikon.

It’s the Moment. The moment worth dying for!

A volcano erupts from under the water.

Giant open jaws lunge forward. Click!

Jaws close in on the head. Click!

The attacker rolls. Her four legs rise heavenward, as though in a vain prayer. Click!

In the middle of the river a family is assembling for lunch.

He checks the shots and smiles. He calls himself the best wildlife photographer in the world.

He sets the timer for 5 seconds to take a good shot of himself, wondering how it’d feel to be wedged between he mighty jaws, a moment before life bids goodbye.

The answer is right behind him.

He hears the rustle in his immediate rear, feels warm breath on his back, but it is too late. The blackbird is cawing incessantly, but it is too late to realize the warning is for him, not the sambar.

He turns. Suddenly, his world is full of pink flesh and rows of teeth.

The blackbird’s switches to a melancholy tune.

Darkness swallows him. Several knives enter his abdomen together. Pain sears through his body. Nikon is tossed up in the air, it clicks on the descent.

Click! The best picture ever taken begins its eternal wait for appreciation.

Matham Ramesh, is a journalist and editor with Business Line, a financial daily published in Chennai on the Bay of Bengal in eastern India. He writes about energy and climate change, as well as editing the science and legal sections of his paper. Matham is also a music critic and has authored a romance-thriller novel, Silence of the Cicadas, which takes place both in India and in Yorkshire, England and focuses on a single, fun-loving archaeologist who is passionate about his work and his fiancé.


Frost on a Fence Post

by Abby McNab Crain

The voices in my head are at it again.

"If only people paid attention," the arrogant and adventurous 12-year-old spouts.

"No one understands anything," the sad, rebellious 16-year-old rages.

"Life is so unfair and not going how I planned," wallows the disillusioned 20-something.

And then the wise old one who has no age, just a mischievous smile, sparkling eyes, and great style, sits quietly or chuckles at the others.

There are many others. They rarely agree on anything, not even to disagree. It gets noisy in here. That is why I began to walk.

I live in a small city that butts up against the foothills of the Pyrenees. It is a simple place to live, earthy and elegant, intellectual but unpretentious. Living in the old centre atop the hill, I need only follow the wall down to the river and I find myself under the canopy of trees. There is a hush, a calm, as the city's sounds fade with the cover of leaves.

It is at this exact moment when the voices assert themselves.

Their chatter is a mixture of the metaphysical and the mundane, great depth and a shockingly shallow concern for others' opinions. They bandy words with what I coulda, shoulda, woulda said in infinite fantasy scenarios they conjure up.

As I consciously put one foot in front of the other, lifting my posture to its full height, a space begins to emerge. The regal crane, perched on its favourite stone, flutters its wings as if saluting. I nod in return and walk on, concentrating to avoid tripping over the rambunctious roots that criss-cross my way. I absorb the individual steps and moments, time utterly forgotten, and suddenly find that I've walked miles in real silence. The voices are as equally enraptured with the moment as I am and have not just fallen silent, but have retreated into a deep and cradling void, successfully soothed.

I round a turn in front of me and come upon a small farm. A somewhat dilapidated fence runs its length. But I don't really notice its sad state, for today, it has been transformed. The watery morning sun is striking this fence post such that it appears to be pure gold. I stop and stand in awe. The voices awake and all simultaneously gasp.

"That fence can't really be made of gold," insists the know-it-all 12-year-old voice.

I take a few steps forward. She is right. It is the reflection off of the frost on the fence post. A startling revelation appears as my eyes begin to liberate my overflow of joy: I may feel as beaten up as this fence looks, but given the right light, the real silence from within, I too might shine.

"Now you're getting it, dear," chuckles the wise old voice as she winks a sparkling eye. That is why I walk with the trees, so that her voice may win.

In addition to writing, Abby McNab Crain’s hobbies include teaching modern dance and practising yoga. Abby, who lives in Pamplona, Spain, has a BA in Theatre from Ohio State and is currently studying copywriting. She is also converting her website into a lifestyle blog.

Upon hearing about being among the Top Ten in the ‘Wild Atlantic Writing Awards,’ she said, “What a wonderful surprise to be a finalist in your contest! This is the first creative non-fiction contest I’ve ever entered, so I couldn’t quite believe it and feel honored to have been chosen. It’s a great joy to have my work recognized. Thank you.” Her philosophy is captured in the following quote, “Whatever you want in life is not ON its way, it IS its way.”

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