The word of the week is:


Definition of mania:


  1. excitement manifested by mental and physical hyperactivity, disorganization of behaviour, and elevation of mood;
  2. excessive or unreasonable enthusiasm often used in combination with the object of such enthusiasm


  • aberration, axe to grind, bee in bonnet, compulsion, craving, craze, craziness, delirium, dementia, derangement, desire, disorder, enthusiasm, fad, fancy, fascination, fetish, fixed idea, frenzy, hang-up, idée fixe, infatuation, insanity, lunacy, monomania, obsession, partiality, passion, preoccupation, rage,

The Sphinx without a Secret by Oscar Wilde

 “Then why did Lady Alroy go there?”

“My dear Gerald,” I answered, “Lady Alroy was simply a woman with a mania for mystery. She took these rooms for the pleasure of going there with her veil down, and imagining she was a heroine. She had a passion for secrecy, but she herself was merely a Sphinx without a secret.”

“Do you really think so?”

“I am sure of it,” I replied.

He took out the Morocco case, opened it, and looked at the photograph. “I wonder?” he said at last.


“l’ai-je eu? (did I have it?); l’ai-je? (do I have it?); and l’aurai-je? (will I have it?)” by Derrick Tyson


Be manic for five minutes, using the word “mania” as fre­quently as you can. When you’re fin­ished, post your prac­tice in the com­ments section.

Marla4  – kudos to you for using it in another practice (possibly unintentional)

Also, extra credit if you use the word of the week in your daily practice!

My Practice

They called it mania and put her away in a prison of a place. She felt like a princess  locked in a tower until the baby was ripped from her stomach. After that her life seemed to be put on hold. For years she endured medications and experimental procedures until she no longer remembered the sweet smell of freshly mown lawns and the sound of water cascading over rocks. She knew only disinfectant and clanking keys in doors.

Earlier this year she was to leave, but didn’t know how. She had no visitors and could not remember any relatives. The words mammy and daddy alien on her lips. Today though, with help from the nice lady with the blue cardigan niece was coming. Niece was going to take her home.

A wedding. Niece explained the concept over and over to Blue but she kept forgetting. The girl, niece’s girl was having this wedding and Blue was to go. It was in the church. Not the church they went to every week a different one. Niece told Blue it was her old church. But that was the chapel in the place. She knew no other church.

Pale blue hat sat on Blue head, with a darker bluejacket and inbetween blue dress. New shiny shoes covered her stockinged feet. She kept looking at her roundy face in the shiny shoes. The drive was long to the church of the wedding and Blue looked out of the window of the car at the grass and walls and cows lying down. “Tis gonna rain, mind I tell you” said the daddy of Niece.

Blue knew they all had names, but they were just out of reach in a cloudy part of her mind where thoughts nudged each other in the fog but she couldn’t string them together. Inside the church Niece told her where to sit. A man, elderly, came up and whispered to Blue in an odd croaky voice she recognised. Her thoughts suddenly stopped tumbling in a vortex and formed coherent sentences, but she remained silent and turned to face the front again.

She hadn’t needed to turn to him, she knew him, she knew his leathery touch and smell of pipe and pomade. She remembered the night of undying love on the freshly mown lawn by the babbling brook. She allowed silent tears to flow throughout the ceremony as she remembered. The black sheep, the loose woman, the hysterical girl, the mania driven fallen maiden, all these and more. Daddy had slapped her, hard on her right cheek causing it to redden and smart. Mammy had cried. Jonathon, her brother, threatened to kill Marty Connors. Niece, her name was Julie, Julie’s daddy was Jonathon, it all flooded back including the long drive to the place. They locked her into a mental asylum. The people took her baby and they did horrific things.

But none of that hurt as much as Marty Connors walking away from her, that night in the rain when she told him she was pregnant, that night when she screamed into the driving  rain to turn back and run away with her, that night when her heart turned black. So yes bleat away quietly black sheep, hush your tears, remain silent, for now.

At the reception she listened to stories, of people she knew from that long ago time. Her ears primed and ready to hear more of Marty Connors. Did he marry? Did he have more children? Was he happy? Did he ever think of her? She thought of the whisper, “How’s it goin, Ruthie?” Did he not know where she had been? Questions, questions, questions rivalled for position in her mind, a mania of questions. The people were dancing to “The Siege of Ennis” twirling and swirling, their smiles fixed on contorted bodies.

Later the music slowed, she saw Marty Connor weaving through the mass on the dance floor, she looked away. He stood in front of her, again the heady perfume of his body curled out like wisps of smoke and she like a chimney sucked it all in. He took her hand and led her to the dancefloor. The other dancers moved back as they began a waltz, a dance outside of time, that took them back to those nights of endless love. She got her answer not just in the way he held her so gently as if she was the porcelain figurine on Nana’s mantelpiece but in the hush in the room. It was a moment people would talk about for years, “I was there when…” like people remember what they were doing when they heard Kennedy was shot. Jonathon was weeping, Julie was clasping her hands as if in prayer, the bride and groom the only ones oblivious in the selfish love of newly weds to history being rewritten to a different ending, that their story was a bit part in a bigger story.

Ruth was still thinking, it was so new to her that she couldn’t stop, her thoughts moving from Marty now as she was held in the rhythm of the song to the song of motherhood, her baby, grown now. Her first questions held the key to her lifesong. Was it a boy or child? Did it live?

Joe Bunting
Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let’s Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).