Ubuntu #atozchallenge

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Ubuntu; the belief that we are defined by our compassion and kindness toward others.

It was a way of life for all who followed that path; helping those who could no longer help themselves.

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Toothsome #atozchallenge

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Toothsome; pleasing to the taste. 

It was a guilty pleasure of summer; ice cream on the beach. After months of being on a diet to fit perfectly into my bikini. The cold, sweet ice cream hit my tongue and I moaned quietly in pleasure. For a few seconds, I wondered if it was too sweet but then I swallowed and could only think about eating more.

I heard my boyfriend chuckling next to me and I glanced over at him as I went for another mouthful.

‘Diet broken?’ he asked, grinning at me.

All I could do was nod, my tongue sticky with ice cream.

‘I don’t mind you being a bit chubby,’ he added.

Shooting him a disgruntled look, I got back to enjoying my ice cream. There was nothing that could bet this cooling, sugar rush in my mouth. I shut my eyes and enjoyed the feeling in my mouth.

What was it about ice cream that made you feel so happy? And ice cream by the summer sea just made it more special. Maybe it was the sweet memories of childhood holidays? That small treat on a hot day?

Well whatever it was, it was worth breaking any diet for!

Spoondrift #atozchallenge (Part 2)

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Spoondrift; a showery sprinkling of sea-water or fine spray swept from the tops of the waves. 

The ice cream went down well and afterwards, Raven let Cody and Kadie go back to playing in the sea. This time though, she watched them closely. The beach was getting busier as more people came out to enjoy the sunshine. The tide was also on it’s way out and some of the waves looked fairly big.

Raven’s thoughts turned inwards and she began to think of her ex-husband. She had been doing well not dwelling on him. The seaside had seemed to wash all those thoughts and issues away but her out burst before had brought it all back. She hugged her knees and just for a moment pictured how things had been four years ago. She had been happy, busy and enjoying family life.

Then her world had come crashing down. She still didn’t have the full picture of what happened, just like a jigsaw puzzle missing pieces. She could hardly remember what Dave had said, just that he was leaving her over and over again. She begged him not to go, told him they could fix whatever it was but all along he was sharing his bed with another woman.

And she had only found out two years later after the divorce when the kids had told her about daddy’s girlfriend. Then the story had come out; how they had met on a business trip and tried not to fall in love but then had given in. How Dave had tried just to say it was a fling, how they had broken up but Dave hadn’t been able to let her go. How Dave decided he needed to be with her and not even his responsibilities family could stop him.

Raven dropped her head and shut her eyes. She took a few deep breaths and just listened to the sea. The sound of the waves rushing back and forth along the shore. The children laughing, dogs barking, music playing.

I want to move here, Raven thought, I need to start over.

She opened her eyes, she felt more determined that she had in awhile. Grabbing her handbag and making sure, she had all her personal items, she took off her sandals. Raven got up and walked on the cool sand. Avoiding a sand castle, she reached the edge of the water and let a small wave tickle her toes.

Kadie pointed her out to Cody and Raven watched as her daughter and son splashed their way over to them.

‘I don’t want to leave!’ Kadie moaned.

‘Just a few more minutes!’ Cody put in, ‘we just saw a fish!’

‘It’s okay,’ Raven said with a small laugh, ‘we can stay as long as you like. I just wanted to see what it was like.’

‘It’s cold but you get use to it,’ Kadie pointed out with glee and held out her hand.

Raven took Kadie’s hand and let her daughter led into the sea. The waves lapped stronger around her and the spray flew up, dappling her shorts and t-shirt. Raven took Cody’s other hand and they jumped a few of the waves, laughing loudly.

Raven forgot her heartbreak and nightmare again, letting the sea take it away on the waves. It was just her and her children and that was all that mattered right now.

Spoondrift #atozchallenge (Part 1)

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Spoondrift; a showery sprinkling of sea-water or fine spray swept from the tops of the waves. 

Raven peered over her sunglasses and book at her two children playing in the sea. They were laughing and throwing buckets of water at each other. She smiled and looked up at the clear blue sky from which bright and warm sunlight was pouring from. Breathing the sea air deeply, Raven felt grateful that she was here. This was just the get away moment she needed.

Last week, she had laughed when she’s heard the weather forecast. How can we have a mini heat wave in the the middle of April? It was snowing two weeks ago! she had wondered. The weather presenter had insisted though and deciding to throw caution to the wind, she had booked a short break in Blackpool.

Leaving the kids, who were old enough to look after themselves for a bit, to carry on playing, Raven got back to her book. She was re-reading some classic novels and Frankenstein was her current mission. It was hard to disappear into the words though.

The beach was busy, other people having decided to chance the weather too. There were other children playing noisily, dogs barking and further up donkeys giving rides. Behind her came the noise from the Blackpool Pleasure Beach theme park; the echos of the roller coasters, the screams and the shouts. Music was playing from one of the restaurants or arcade places on the promenade. Further along the beach, noise was also drifted from the south pier; tinkling of music from the tea room and the rowdiness of fairground games.

‘Mum! Mum!’ a child shouted.

Raven looked up and saw her nine year old daughter, Kadie, running towards her across the sand. Raven put her book down, frowning and trying to see what was wrong.

‘He got water in my eyes!’ Kadie cried.

Raven snatched up a towel and as Kadie fell at her feet, she scrubbed her daughter’s face with the towel.

‘You’ll be all right,’ Raven said as Kadie started sobbing.

Raven looked up as her thirteen year old son, Cody, joined them. He was holding two buckets and looking flushed with the heat.

‘I didn’t mean it!’ Cody said as water dripped off him.

Raven handed him another towel, ‘I’m sure you didn’t.’

The buckets hit the sand and Cody dried off then sit down next to them on the picnic blankets Raven had laid down.

‘You okay now, Kadie?’ Raven asked.

The girl nodded and Kadie wrapped the towel around her. Kadie was sniffing and looked tearful still.

Raven pulled the cool bag over and took out two bottles of juice. She give one to each child. Whilst they drink, Raven found the bottle of water she had started and took a few sips of that.

‘Can we go crabbing later?’ Cody asked.

‘No. You know I don’t like it,’ Raven said.

‘Dad would let us,’ Cody muttered under his breath.

‘Yes, well,’ Raven snapped, ‘he’s too busy! Off with that whats her name, living the life of Riley, not caring about anything!’

Cody pulled a face and drink more juice. Kadie buried her face in her towel.

Raven sighed, ‘I’m sorry, I shouldn’t take it out on you.’

She pulled them both into a hug. Cody struggled against her and pushed his way out but Kadie snuggled closer. Raven breathed in the sea salt and sand in her hair.

‘Who wants ice cream?’ Raven said suddenly.

‘Yeah!’ shouted Kadie and Cody.

Laughing, Raven dug around for her purse.

To Be Continued…

Runnel #atozchallenge

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Runnel; a small stream. 

The largepainting had always hung in the guest bedroom of my adopted grandparents house. The girl in the frilly red dress was their ten year old daughter, who had died a two years later. She was playing in a runnel which ran through an spring dappled woods.

‘She’s catching fairies,’ gran said, ‘she always loved doing that.’

That use to fascinate me as a child and when I couldn’t sleep, I would study the painting for the fairies. I never saw any though. As an adult the painting still interested me and I guess that’s why my grandparents left it to me when they passed.

Quaquaversal #atozchallenge

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Quaquaverasl; moving or happening in every direction instantaneously. 

There were days Nancy felt like everything was happening at once and was all out of her control. She felt pulled like a rubber stretch doll in all directions, knowing she would soon snap. The only escape she had was in her mind where she could pretend everything was all right.

Potterphile #atozchallenge

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Potterphile; a person who loves the Harry Potter books and films. 

I came down to breakfast, feeling like my brain was still in bed. Sitting at the table, I pulled the box of cereal over to me, grunting a reply back to mum who had just said, ‘good morning,’ to me.

Opening the box, I poured some cornflakes into the already waiting bowl. Placing the box back again, I glanced over at my little sister. All I could see was her violent red hair over the top of a thick book.

I wonder for a moment what she was reading. She was a total bookworm and hardly had her face out of a book. I lost count of how much she had read and most of the time I only half recognised some of the titles from school.

I splashed some milk on top of the bowl and started eating. I wasn’t even hungry but the wrath of mum wasn’t worth it. I glanced up at her as she put some toast down and fussed over a few things. Mum buttered the toast and nibbled on a slice. She looked tried and frustrated. Her hair which was the same color as my sister’s, was super fizzy as if it had been electrocuted.

If I could manged the words, I’d ask her how work last night was. She’d told us things were tough at the nursing home at the moment. Most of the old people had flu and they were dropping like flies. For the past two weeks, someone had died every second or third night. There seemed to be no end in sight for it clearing up.

I couldn’t get everything out of my mouth just yet, so I shoveled in some more wet cornflakes. Then I drank some orange juice, hoping that would wake me up. I felt like a zombie with a headache who was hungover.

‘Time for school,’ mum cut in.

She hurried up from the table and began clearing away. She was eager to go to bed and get some sleep. I wished I could do the same. Instead though, my day was going to be full of boring lessons and detention for not doing my science project.

I abandoned the rest of my breakfast and went to get my things. Behind me, I heard mum telling my sister to put Harry Potter down and get her stuff. Ah, that’s what she was reading! Shaking my head, I finished off getting ready then went downstairs again.

‘Here’s you lunch,’ mum said, handing me my plastic lunch box.

She reached up and tried to flatten down my hair which was doing it’s normal just out of bed sticking up everywhere look. I had red hair too, only it was much lighter then theirs, which I was thankfully for.

‘Thanks,’ I muttered and tried to shove the box into my bag whilst attempting to avoid her hands.

‘Lily! Come on!’ mum called upstairs.

My sister appeared, school bag on her back and that huge book hugged to her chest.

‘Lunch,’ mum said and handed her a pink fabric bag with a unicorn flying over a rainbow on it.

‘Did you put the fairy cakes in?’ Lily asked.

‘No, you know the school doesn’t like unhealthy food. You can eat them when you get back. Have a good day,’ mum added.

She kissed Lily’s forehead, opened the door and pushed us both out. The door rattled shut behind us. We started walking, it was a strangely bright sunny day and it felt like spring had finally arrived. In the front gardens of neighbors, flowers were starting to grow.

Lily fell behind and I reached the bus stop first. There were a few other people waiting there; two younger girls from my high school, a postman, a man in a high visibility vest and an harassed like young mum with three kids one of whom was in a pushchair. I glanced back for Lily and saw her walking slowly over, her face buried in her book.

There was no point in telling her to put it down. She was into nearly all books but there was something about the Harry Potter ones that really made her addicted. She must have read each one a hundred times and watched the movies just as much.

Lily came to a stop close to me, the book totally blocking out her face. Her fingers were wrapped so tightly around the thick spine that her knuckles were turning white. It must be hurting her little hands to carry something so big like that. I saw the page turn.

‘Which one’s that?’ I asked her.

‘The fifth,’ she spoke, ‘The Order Of The Phoenix.’

I pulled a face as if trying to remember which one that was. Lily had dragged mum and I to all of the movies and she must have made me watch each one a few times at home too.

‘Where you up to?’ I uttered.

Lily was quiet for a few seconds then she said, ‘they are at the starting feast.’

‘Here’s the bus. Stop reading whilst you get on,’ I added.

Lily had a habit of tripping up and down stairs and over things whilst she walked with her head in some fictional world. With a sigh and a nudge from me, she lowered the book and got on the bus behind everyone else.

The bus was packed as normal and I pushed Lily into a seat before the young mum could get one of her kids into it. I lent against the plastic panel leading up to the stairs, looming over Lily like an evil step-brother. Lily pulled up the book again and turned to her marked page.

‘What is about those books?’ I spoke loud without meaning too.

Lily glanced at me, ‘they are good,’ she replied.

‘So are many others,’ I put in.

She shot me a dirty look, ‘and what would you know? You hate books.’

The lady next to Lily throw me a disgruntled look then stare down at her Kindle again. Another woman behind her peered at me in horror before turning to the window. A few other people had raised their eyes too and I felt like Lily had just said a swear word.

‘I don’t’ I muttered.

Lily shot me a smug look then put Harry Potter between us. I pressed my lips together before turning away from her. The rest of the bus drive felt like it took forever but finally we made it to the stop outside of the high school and we got off in a crowd of people.

I had to drop Lily off at her primary school around the corner first. I took her arm, not caring that she cried out and almost drop her book.

‘We’re late!’ I snapped and broke into a jog, dragging her behind me.

‘Let go!’ Lily shouted.

She tried to wiggle free but I was too strong and was able to force her onwards. Only when we got to the gates and I pushed her inside, did I let go. She looked disheveled and grumpy.

I turned to go then remembered. I grabbed her shoulder, spinning her towards me then lowered my face to her’s and whispered, ‘wait for me in the library, okay?’

Her eyes got wide, ‘you got detention again?’ she asked then giggled.

‘Just do it,’ I growled and stalked off.

I was late to home room and the excuse of having to drop Lily off wasn’t working anymore. School was as dull as I thought it was going to be. Time seemed to have slowed too and the droning of the teacher’s voices remind me of bees buzzing in the summer heat.

At lunchtime after I had eaten, I crept off to one of my favorite hiding places; the English teachers’ stockroom. There in a back corner, hidden behind all the towering shelves filled with fiction and text books, I sat down. From the bottom shelf next to me I pulled out one of books; Harry Potter and The Order Of The Phoenix. 

Smiling, I turned to the page I’d marked last time. I was far ahead of Lily. But I wasn’t about to tell her or anyone else that.

Occhiolism #atozchallenge

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Occhiolism; the awareness of the smallness of your perspective. 

Looking up into the billions of stars in the sky, Joe realised how small his problems truly were.

Noctuary #atozchallenge

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Noctuary; the record of a single night’s events, thoughts or dreams. 

I had the dream again last night. I was in the library, there were the hushed sounds of voices and pages being turned. The smell of old leather, paper, ink, wax and dust drifted like a strong perfume. I was at an old desk, candles in lamps flickering around me and I was wearing a long white dress with a black corset.

Books were piled around me and I was reading one, open on a stand and the writing seemed to be in Latin. I was looking for something but I couldn’t seem to find the answers in any of these volumes. There was an ink pot and feather quill in a stand on my right side with some sheets of yellow paper.

Closing the book, I selected another one and flipped through it. Stopping at a page with a coloured drawing on one side and tiny writing on the other, I looked at the picture. There was a girl, older then me and she was wearing a white dress too! Her’s was tied with a large black bow at the back. She was going up some stone stairs in the middle of a forest. There were tall, green pine trees fading in the distance and lines of sunlight pouring through them.

I tried to read what the picture was about, but the book was written in a language I didn’t know. I studied the girl, noticing how her hair was the same brown colour as mine but it was straight and not curly. I blinked and the girl’s head had moved! Her face had turned to look over her shoulder and out of the page!

Gasping, I tried to convince myself it wasn’t true but I knew the girl was watching me. Her eyes were the same colour as my own and her face though on the edge of adulthood was mine too. I pressed my face closer to the book, my hands trembling as I clutched the edges. I saw a wind playfully blowing the girl’s dress about.

She was saying something! I lent closer in, trying to hear what the girl was saying.

‘It’s not here, what you seek,’ she whispered.

‘It’s not?’ I uttered back.

‘It’s here,’ she said and waved her hand at the forest in the picture.

‘Where?’ I pressed, desperately.

‘You know,’ she hissed back.

The wind played with her hair and the tails of the long black ribbon then everything became still. The girl’s head turned back and the picture was still again.

The book slipped through my fingers and hit the table top hard. The noise rang through the library then the dream was swirling away.

Next moment, I saw myself standing as the older version of me had done. I was on the steps leading up the forest. I could smell the pines and the green bushes. Birds were twitting and the wind was waving the tree tops. I looked down and saw myself in the same white dress with the black ribbon as she had worn them.

And I as walking through the trees, looking for what I knew to be there; the answers I had been seeking to life itself.

Mangata #atozchallenge (Part 2)

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Mangata; the trail of light left by the moon’s reflection on the sea, ‘the moon road’. 

Someone was calling my name in the distance, I could hear them over the sounds of the waves and the rocking of the little boat.

‘Susy! Susy!’

I opened my eyes and stretched, my body stiff from leaning over. Looking around in a daze, I realised I’d fallen asleep! Luckily though the sea had carried me ashore and the little boat was wedged on the beach. Checking my watch, I saw it was now close to two in the morning.

‘Susy!’ a voice yelled.

It was my older sister, Aura! I looked madly about and thought I saw a blob of flickering light, coming over to me. I looked at the electrical lantern balanced at the head of the boat. It was letting off a good amount of light still. I picked it up and climbed out of the boat.

‘Over here, Aura!’ I yelled and waved the lantern.

‘Susy! she shouted back, ‘are you okay?’

‘Yes,’ I hollered.

I ran along the shore to met her. The surf splashed up against my boat and the wet sand slide underneath me. We almost collided as we were both closer then we thought. Laughing, Aura hugged me tightly, her lantern hitting my back, her wild blonde hair tickling my face.

‘We were worried!’ she gushed, ‘We thought you’d got lost! Father and mother have gone to the cove and to the rocky pools. They thought the tide might have carried you there.’

‘No,’ I replied, I was close enough to shore. I didn’t realise the time.’

Aura let me go and we walked over to the boat.

‘Did you get it?’ she asked, excitement bubbling in her voice.

I nodded and answered, ‘yes and some more things too.’

We hurried over and I grabbed the hiking bag to show her.

Aura grabbed my hand before I could start pulling things out, ‘wait,’ she said.

I looked at her, her face glowing in the lantern lit.

‘We should find father and mother, they are so worried.’

‘Fine,’ I said and flipped the hiking bag closed again.

I heaved it onto my back then we both pulled the boat up the beach. As we neared the low stone wall, two moving lights appeared and we heard running footsteps. Aura, held out her hand and we both stopped. Ducking into the shadows of the wall, we hide our lanterns behind us and waited to see who was coming.

Heavy feet hit the sand, followed by softer ones and the swishing of cloaks. I saw in the gloom, two lanterns holding magical balls of blue and green dancing lights. So, it could only be…

‘Mother! Father!’ Aura cried and she rushed over to them, ‘I found her! Susy! She’s fine!’

I stepped from the wall’s shelter and hurried over. My mother hugged me, repeatedly saying my name, asking if I was okay and that I had worried them all.

‘What happened?’ my father finally cut in.

‘Nothing…I…It was just so nice out there and I caught some stars too. I didn’t know the time had gone,’ I replied.

I couldn’t tell them I had fallen asleep, it’d be awhile before they let me out again by myself.

‘I got The Moon Reflection Essence!’ I cried and struggled to take my hiking bag off to show them all.

My mother stopped me, her hands pulling the straps back on, ‘later,’ she said.

Father collected the boat, heaving it up and and carrying it back. We walked off the beach, breaking the quietness with a little conversation. A sandy path let back to the village. Ours was the first house on the little cliff that looked out over the sea. As we got closer, I saw that all the windows had lights shinning out of them, so it seemed like a beacon. There was a tail of smoke coming out of the small chimney too.

Arriving, we took our boots off then Mother hurried me into the living room, where the fire dully burnt. She threw some more logs on then began helping me out of my damp clothes. In the background, I heard father lowering the boat against the house and coming in with my sister. They joined us and started to get dry too.

Standing in my under dress, I emptied my hiking bag and removed all the jars. Mother inspected them as I did so, nodding and muttering her approval. Lastly, I handed in the biggest jar and watched her face closely.

The Moon Reflection Essence glowed brightly in the living room, casting a pool of light around mother. Her smile grew as she turned the jar to see the light from the reflection of the moon from all sides.

‘It’s perfect,’ she said, proudly.

‘At a girl, Susy,’ father spoke.

‘Wow, it’s so bright!’ Aura awed.

‘Well done,’ mother added and drew me into a hug.

A wave of sleep hit me and I rubbed my eyes as I rested against her shoulder. The warm of the fire, the safety of home and the tiredness of my trip building together.

‘It’s bedtime.’

I agreed with a yawn.

Once in bed, I could see the moonlight dancing on top of the waves before me. I could feel myself drifting away, those waves carrying me out to sea.

‘You’re going to make a great witch, Susy,’ Aura’s voice said.

‘Huh-huh,’ I uttered.

‘We both will do…One day. Next time will you show me how you get the moon essence?’

‘Sure,’ I muttered then let the dream sea carry me away.