The bus sat alone in the desert. The sun beating endless down and warming everything metal during the day. At night though the cold moon turned everything chilly. Slowly, the bus began to rust away.
The bus sat alone in the desert. The sun beating endless down and warming everything metal during the day. At night though the cold moon turned everything chilly. Slowly, the bus began to rust away.
Ace put his boots on the dashboard of the pickup truck and lowered his cowboy hat over his face. Soft, sad county music was whispering out of the radio speakers, but it was barely audible over the cold air con, engine rumble and wheels crunching over stones and red sand. He breathed deeply and started daydreaming about the curvy blonde waitress at the last diner they had stopped at.
Red, who was at the wheel, shot his cousin a dirty look. The truck wasn’t new, but even so there was just something about Ace relaxing that got to him. Maybe it was because Red had done all the driving today? Glancing over again, Red could easily see why that waitress at the diner had thought they were twins. They did look so alike with their short black hair, wide jaw line and broad shoulders. The fact they were both wearing leather cowboy boots, jeans, dark t-shirts, brown leather jackets and hats also did not help.
Trying not to grind his teeth, Red looked further down the desert road and towards the mountains. Something glinted in the burning sunlight to his right. Wondering what it was, Red eased back on the gas and watched the object take form. In the shimmering heat it looked like a mirage and he wondered if he had been driving for too long.
‘Hey, Ace. Look,’ Red said loudly.
Ace shifted, grumbled something and pulled his hat off. He looked at Red questionably and slightly angrily, ‘what’s it?’
‘Something’s over there,’ Red answered and pointed at the object.
Ace looked over, taking his boots of the dashboard as he did so. At first he was not sure what it was growing out of the otherwise desert landscape, but then he recognised the long yellow rectangle shape.
‘It’s a school bus,’ he cried.
‘A school bus? Out here in the middle of nowhere?’ Red asked, puzzlement filling his voice.
‘Let’s take a look,’ Ace added as if he had not heard his cousin.
Red nodded and drove the truck over. He parked just off the road and cut the engine. Looking out, he saw that Ace had been right and there was a school bus seemly abandoned in the sand. Wondering how long it had been there for, Red opened his door and got out. Straight away the desert heat hit him like a baseball bat and he began to have second thoughts.
Ace though had flung open his door and was already quickly walking over. Dust trailing in his awake and the sound of his boots the only noise to be heard.
Closing his door then going around and closing the passenger door, Red followed Ace over. He looked at the desert floor as they went, but could not see any tire tracks or other trails. It was possible the bus had been there weeks or months, but he also knew how fast things could change out here, so maybe it had only recently been left?
Ace reached the bus before he did and started looking around it. Red headed straight for the door and found it open. Sand was piled against the steps, indicating that it had been abandoned. He stepped in, knowing he might find more clues inside. He noticed dust on the mirror and wheel. There were no keys though. The seats all had a layer of red sand dust on them too. The air smelt hot and musty.
‘Been here awhile then?’ Ace called from the doorway.
‘Couple of months maybe? It still looks okay in here,’ Red replied over his shoulder.
He walked further down, minding his head and looking for anything else that would help pin down the time or suggest why the bus was here. Red heard Ace getting on board and start messing with the driving wheel and wires.
Then something caught Red’s eye and he stopped. It was a kid’s denim jacket. He picked it up, but there was no name on the label and the pockets were empty. Putting it back, he then found a lunch pack a few seats down. It was also empty, but he was grateful for that as any food would not have lasted long in this heat.
‘Think we can strip it?’ Ace called over.
‘Someone still might come back for it,’ Red answered as he reached the end of the bus.
He picked up a book that had been left on the back seat. It was a children’s horror story and he remembered the series from his own childhood. He flipped through the pages then pocket it.
‘Na, I don’t think they are,’ Ace spoke out.
Red made his way back to his cousin and looked out of the grime covered window. He could just see the red mountains and a tall cactus. The heat was still raising and he felt like he was baking in the bus. Wiping his forehead, he wondered if it was worth the effort to remove things they could easily sell.
‘I’m going to get the tool box,’ Ace declared.
He slide off the driver’s seat and went out of the door. Red watched him disappear out and around the side of the bus. He moved to get off too and something crunched under his boot. He looked down and saw it was an M&M.
Rubbing her temples, Miss Quine fell into questioning why she had agreed to this trip. Behind her, the bus full of shouting eight and nine year olds was reaching it’s peak. Trying to ignore her school class, she looked out of the window and saw the same scene that she had seen half an hour ago; the desert. The dark yellow, red sand stretched all around them, sometimes tufts of green poked up breaking it up, but she could not name the plants. Ahead of them appeared some mountains, but they looked long off in the distance.
She glanced across at her teaching assistant, Miss Pointer, who was busy trying to stop Timmy from throwing M&Ms at Becky. Stepping in, Miss Quine quickly defused things and took the rest of the candy off him. Timmy sat down in a huff and began blowing bubbles with his saliva. Miss Pointer helped the crying Becky settle back down again.
Miss Quine shoved the packet into her bag then looked for the other four adults amongst the twenty-five children. Mr Seale and Mr Greene were roughly in the middle and singing along with the wheels on the bus song that some demon child had started up. Mrs Fisher and Mr Bennet were at the back and looked so deep in conversation that they had not notice William wiping his nose pickings on the window.
Miss Quine sighed and decided she didn’t have the energy to deal with that. She turned to face the front of the bus again and caught a worried look flash across the driver’s face. Before she had time to ask, she heard the engine make a weird sound and the bus suddenly jerked off the road as if it was a dog being pulled on a leash.
They bounced and skid across the desert. Sand and stones peppered and rattled off the bus as the brakes give a loud squeal. The children started screaming and crying whilst the adults hurried to calm them. The bus spun into a stop and the engine cut out.
Miss Quine snatched a few breaths then stood shaky up. Stepping over to the bus driver she saw he was tightly gripping the wheel. She patted him on the shoulder, called his name and asked if he was okay. After a few moments he came to life and nodded, ‘is everyone okay?’ he shouted.
A half-hearted reply muttered back to him, mingled with sobs and sniffs.
‘I’ll see what’s up,’ he answered, ‘everyone stay on the bus.’
The driver opened the doors and got out. Miss Quine watched him inspecting the bus then felt a tug on her jumper. She looked down and Roy was standing directly there.
‘Miss, I got to go,’ he said quietly.
Miss Quine rolled her eyes and looked up to see if one of the gentlemen was free. They all seemed busy though and she was unable to catch any of their eyes.
‘Okay, Roy,’ she said.
Miss Quine stepped off the bus and he followed her. The earth felt hot under her feet and the air seemed to shimmer around them.
‘Go over there, where no one can see,’ Miss Quine directed as she pointed the child across the road and towards a large cactus, ‘keep away from that though,’ she added.
Roy nodded and took off. Miss Quine turned to the bus driver, who had opened the bonnet and was looking inside.
‘What’s the problem?’ she asked.
‘I think it over heated….not sure…might have to go and get some help,’ the bus driver replied.
‘Help? Out here?!’
‘Don’t worry. There’s a little shop a few miles down this road. We can walk there, be good for the kids.’
Miss Quine looked down the road, but could not see anything. She clicked her tongue and decided there was no choice. Getting back on the bus, she rounded up her class, told them what was going on and after a brief argument with some of them, they all got off the bus and walked down the road.
Staying in their seat arrangements with their buddy, the row of children and adults started walking with the bus driver leading the way. The children talked loudly, pointing out all kinds of things and seemly happy they were now free of the confinement of the bus. Miss Quine took off her jumper, already feeling warm then paused as some of the kids darted off to look at a lizard.
Walking on and the sun shone down, making everyone hot and grumpy. A few times the kids asked if they where there yet and if they were lost and if they could stop. Miss Quine forced them all on whilst she prayed the shop was close. Telling them to sing a song, she whispered to the bus driver, ‘how much further?’
‘Couldn’t tell you,’ he replied.
Miss Quine gritted her teeth and decided this wasn’t the time to give him a piece of her mind.
Finally, a small white building appeared at the side of the road. The kids cried out and pointed at it. Those that had the energy started running whilst the rest tried to get the adults to move faster. Miss Quine sank onto the porch, her feet sore, her t-shirt soaked in sweat and her face bright red. Someone give her a bottle of water and she gulped it down.
The voices of the children faded into the background for a few moments and Miss Quine sorted herself out. The bus driver came up to her as the last of the children vanished into the shop, which Miss Quine guessed had never had so many people in it before.
‘It’s not far to the town. I’ll leave you here now and go and get some help. Should be back soon,’ the driver said.
Miss Quine nodded, thanked him then watched him walk off down the road. Behind her she heard a fight break out and she stormed into the shop.
There was something taking shape in the distant. I stopped, wondering what it was as I reached for my water and map. Taking a few mouthfuls of warmish water, I then checked the map and roughly pinpointed where I was. Looking up again, I saw the desert flat before me and the red mountains close by framed by the deep blue sky. The huge objected was there before the first mountain, a white and red patchy rectangle shape it seemed to be.
Putting my water skin and map away again, I walked on, determined to find out what the object was. Maybe it was something that would give me shade in this otherwise empty sand-scape or further shelter for the night. Small puffs of dust rose around my boots, sand was already clinging to me so a little more would make no difference. My legs and arms were achy and I knew soon I’d have to stop for a rest.
The object grew and soon enough I saw it was a bus. I paused, puzzling over why a bus would be in the middle of nowhere. I carried on walking, listening to the sound of the breeze shaking sand grit and my boots shuffling loudly. As soon as I reached the bus, I saw it was little more then a shell. The windows were all gone, so had the wheels and what was left was a rusty frame.
I looked through the space were the door had once been and saw that the inside was empty as well. I could just make out where the driver’s seat and wheel had been in front of me. Further down, where the outlines of the seats but the floor was just metal now. Heat came off the abandoned bus like an oven and I decided not to venture inside.
I walked around it, noticing the headlights were missing and so were any signs of what the bus might have been from and where it was heading too. Around the other side was a shadow outline and though the heat was still drifting off the metal, the sand was cool. I sank gratefully down and drink another mouthful of precious water.
My thoughts tumbled and I wondered how and why the bus had ended up here. Someone or someones had clearly stripped it down, perhaps before dumping it here. Maybe as a landmark? A looked up at the side of the bus and tried to see anything that would give me any clues.
Another thought popped into my head. What if there had been a trip of school children or tourists out to see the mountains and the bus had broken down or they had gotten lost? Stuck out here, they had no choice but to strip the bus down to use what they could as they tried to get out of here.
I smiled at my imagination and decided that here would be a good place to set up camp for the night. Checking my map, I saw that actually I wasn’t far from a ranch and then a small town. Maybe a day or two, three at the most? I checked my supplies, decided I’d be okay and set up my tent and stuff.
Crawling into my sleeping bag as the night settled in, my thoughts were still on the bus. Just how had it ended up here?
It was going to be a bad day, Lily could just feel it. From somewhere deep at the back of her memory though she recalled what great grandma once said.
‘What you got to do, Lily, is tell yourself that after the storm there’s always a rainbow.’
‘What do you mean, granny?’ Lily recalled her younger self asking.
‘I mean, no matter how bad something is remember there is always something beautiful in the world. Even if it’s the smallest of flowers or the largest of animals. If you just look for it you’ll find it and you’ll realise that not everything is bad.’
‘Okay, granny. Can I get the tin horses out now?’
Lily came back to the present, smiling at the memory. Her younger self might not have understand any of that, but now as an adult she did get it. Finally, she got out of bed and as she prepared for the day, she held great grandma’s words close to her.
She had been believing that it was hay fever over the last few days.
Awaking, she felt worse and realized it was a mild cold.
Sighing, she decided to spend the day in bed, hoping it would go away with rest.
Faith stepped down from the small buggie, feeling grateful that the Rector had offered it and his valet for her short trip home. Originally, she had been perfectly happy to walk home, but then the rain had started and the Rector had said he simply could not allow his guest to walk in such bad weather.
As the valet urged the chestnut horse on and the animal broke into a trot, Faith opened her front gate and walked up the path to her cottage. The night wrapped around her like a heavy wet blanket. The rain dripping off her hat and ruining her hair. She unlocked and opened the door, pitch darkness met her.
Stepping inside, Faith search for the candle and matches she knew Mary had left for her. She had dismissed the maid before she had gone for dinner and no doubt Mary had rushed home to her ill mother and five younger siblings, who Mary was now the soul provider of. Faith had taken the maid with the house, only because it had saved her the trouble of finding a new one.
Faith lit the candle and straight away the shadows thinned. She shut the door, making sure it was locked then went up the stairs. In her bedroom, she touched the flickering flame to the other candles and banished most of the darkness. She undressed, put on a night gown, then sat at her small dressing table and brushed out her hair.
The sound of boot steps echoed along the hallway.
Faith paused, brush stuck in her hair. She turned and looked at her bedroom door. The latch was lifting slowly upwards. The breathe caught in her throat and desperately she wanted to cry out, but she couldn’t force the words through her lips. A tiny click, which seemed earth shattering loud, came from the door and it eased open.
‘Who is it? What do you want?’ Faith suddenly shouted.
The door swung fully opened to reveal the empty hallway. Faith thought she saw a flicker of the shadows then she heard the man’s boots going downstairs. Each step sounded like a doom bell ringing out.
Somehow coming back to her senses, Faith placed her hairbrush down, grab a candle and hurried out of the room. She shone the flame about the hallway and the stairs, but there was no one to be seen.
‘I am not afraid of you!’ she cried, ‘this is some school boy trick is it? Well, it is not funny and I shall catch you, mark my words. There is no such thing as ghosts!’
Faith stormed back in her room and slammed the door shut. She locked it and got into bed, her hair only half brushed and still wet. Arranging the bed clothes and the candle, Faith picked up her Bible and began reading from it. The rain rattled against the windows and the sound calmed her nerves.
Soon, sleep came for her and Faith gladly went to it. She rested fitfully and as the grandmother clocked chimed two, she awoke. Turning over, she listened to the chimes fading then the boot steps sounded in the hallway. Frowning and muttering to herself. She got up as quietly as possible, snatched one of the bed sheets up and without a candle went to the bedroom door.
Opening it slowly, she ventured out and down the stairs. At the bottom she waited and listened to the footsteps made their way to the front door. Then holding the sheet out, she jumped around the corner and threw the sheet in the direction of the sound. Her arms followed and she wrapped them around a small wiggling body.
‘I have you!’ she cried.
‘Quick! run!’ a young boy’s voice cried.
Faith heard the sound of laughter and running footsteps from the kitchen. The back door shut with a bang. Left to struggle with the one she had captured, Faith shoved him into the parlour and fumbled with the second candle by the front door. On lighting it, she re-opened the door and saw standing there the Rector’s youngest son, who she had meet that evening.
‘James? What are you doing here?’ she asked.
The boy looked down and Faith followed his gaze. Huge army boots were strapped to his feet and he looked ridicules in them.
‘That explains all the noise, but why?’ Faith asked.
The boy shrugged and Faith noticed how wet his clothes and hair were.
‘How did you get in?’ she pressed.
The boy shook his head.
‘Well, you’ll have to stay here for the rest of the night. It is too wet and dark to be going back to your father now. What will he say about all of this?’ Faith spoke.
‘Oh! Miss please do not tell him! We only meant to scare you a little! Please, Miss!’ the boy cried, he fell to his knees and wrapped his arms around her legs. He started to cry into her nightdress.
‘Now, please young man, get up. Tell me, why did you want to scare me?’
He turned his tear stained face up to her’s and said, ‘it was just a game.’
Faith sighed, ‘let’s get you out of these wet things. You shall catch a cold.’
‘I know how to lit a fire, Miss,’ the boy piped up.
He went over to the fireplace and though it had not been used in awhile, the coal, kindling and paper were stacked to one side. Faith watch the child building then lighting the fire. A soft, warm glow cast it’s way over the room.
‘I suppose, we should stay up and wait for dawn. Then I shall take you home,’ Faith said.
James nodded, ‘but what will you tell father?’
‘I shall think about it,’ Faith said, ‘in the meantime we shall read the Bible together.’
As soon as dawn broke, Faith and James went out. The boy had fallen asleep and Faith had had to wake him. It was a slow walk up through the village to the church and by the time they got there the Rector’s house was awake and searching for the missing child all ready.
Whilst he was whisked away by the nanny, Faith had a quiet word with his father. Upon leaving, she prayed the other children were not to troublesome. She walked back home and headed into the parlour, where she found a pair of man’s boots abandoned by the fire place.
The soft knocking on the door disturbed Faith. She rolled over, still half asleep and whacked her hand into the pillows on the other side of the bed. Moaning, she lay there for a few moments, but then the knocking got louder and she forced herself up.
‘Hello?’ she called in a tried voice.
‘It’s only me, Miss,’ the voice of Faith’s maid, Mary, called through the door.
The door creaked opened and the young woman shuffled in carrying a large jug. She was dressed in a typical black dress with a white frilled apron. Her dark hair was tied up under a white cap, allowing too much of her rosy face to be seen. Mary walked across the room and over to a bowl by the window. Tipping the jug gently, water splashed down and into the bowl. then placing the empty jug down, she moved to the wardrobe.
‘I heard something last night,’ Faith said as she slide from the bed, ‘it sounded like a man pacing the hallway. There seemed to be no one there though. You wouldn’t know anything about that would you?’
Mary paused in her search through Faith’s wardrobe, ‘So, you’ve heard him have you, Miss?’
‘Heard who?’ Faith snapped.
‘The ghost solider, Miss,’ Mary said.
Faith frowned then began washing her hands and face.
‘At least that’s what the Morgans use to call him,’ Mary added as she selected a morning dress of pale blue and white trim from the wardrobe.
‘I don’t believe in ghosts,’ Faith finally responded, ‘no, no, one of my walking dress, please.’
Faith waved the maid’s choice away then waited till she came back with a totally different dress; of lime green and black strips, before beginning to get dressed. Both women stayed silent throughout then leaving the maid to tidy the room, Faith went downstairs.
Walking into the dinning room, she found breakfast all laid out and awaiting her. Even though she didn’t feel like eating, Faith sat down and made herself a cup of tea. Sipping, she heard the grandmother clock chiming eight and the maid humming above her. With some light pouring in through the window, it felt easy to dismiss the boot steps of last night.
Nipping on some toast, Faith decided she had enough and went out for a walk. The fresh morning air really brought her back to her senses. The small village was all ready wide awake. Shops were getting ready to open and people were hurrying about. Faith walked passed the small church and out into the countryside.
The smell of grass and animals hung in the air, but Faith felt at home. She looped around the village, enjoying the warm sun and the birds flapping between the trees and hedgerows. Coming back into the village, she went into a tea shop and sat down to have some lunch.
‘Are you the new school teacher?’
Faith looked up at the waitress who had appeared with her tea and sandwiches, ‘Yes. I am.’
‘Am sure the Rector is delight you are here. He has been trying so hard to manage things since dear Mrs Pieton left us.’
‘I am sure he has been more then capable,’ Faith said as she arranged her napkin and hoped the girl got the hint to leave.
‘I heard you had brought the Morgan’s house. It’s haunted you know,’ the girl added.
Faith shot her a look, ‘I believe in no such things.’
The waitress bobbed and left her to her lunch.
Upon returning home, Faith found Mary in the study. The maid was emptying some of the books onto the shelves.
‘Good afternoon, Miss,’ Mary said, ‘I thought I would get started in here.’
‘It will take a long while to sort all my books and things,’ Faith added.
She walked over to her chair and sat down at her desk positioned under a window from which the front garden could be seen.
‘Would you like me to help you dress for the dinner you have tonight, Miss?’ Mary asked.
‘Yes, at the Rector’s?’
‘Of course. No, we still have time. Mary…what else do you know about this…ghost?’ Faith asked.
Mary slipped the last book in her hand onto a shelf then turned to her, ‘they say he was a solider, who was wounded on a battlefield close to here. He walked in begging for help, but the villagers were all scared and no one would open their door.’
Faith tapped a pencil on the desk and looked thoughtfully at the maid.
‘This cottage was empty at the time. The family in Manchester. He broke in through the back door and fell in the hallway. When the family returned, they found him dead and decided they could no longer stay here. If that had happened to me I would have left too!’ Mary gasped.
‘Where is the proof though?’ Faith asked a few moments later, ‘was there anything in the papers? Any witnesses?’
‘No, Miss. It is believed the army covered it all up,’ Mary answered.
Faith sighed and looked out of the window. The summer’s day was really getting underway and she could see the flowers in the front garden waving in the breeze.
‘Please go and get my dress ready for tonight,’ Faith uttered, ‘I wish to read awhile in here before I get dressed.’
‘Very well, Miss,’ Mary replied.
Curtsying, the maid left the room quietly.
Faith turned and began searching through the boxes. She found one of only three books she owned on the science of the supernatural and took it back to her desk. Flipping through, she read a few passages about ghosts before Mary knocked on the door and requested if she was ready to dress.
To Be Continued….
The grandmother clock chimed two as Faith started to climb the cottage’s stairs. She held the candle holder away from her, so that the small flickering light offered more guidance. Her other hand rested on the heavily polished banister and she felt the smoothness of the wood against her fingers. With her slippers muffled by the thick carpet she made her way up to the dimly lit first floor.
The chimes faded and silence settled once more. Without knowing why, Faith glanced behind her. The hallway below her was empty, expect for the sound of footsteps. She twisted, aiming the candle downwards and trying to peer through the shadows. Nothing seemed to be moving and yet, the sound of a man’s heavy boots echoed along the hallway carpet.
‘Hello?’ she called out, her voice steady.
She listened for a reply, but no words came back to her. Faith glanced upstairs and the calling of her bed then carefully turning around and hitching up her skirts, she stepped down. As soon as she came to the bottom the walking boots stopped.
‘Who’s there?’ Faith shouted, ‘My husband is upstairs and it will not take much to rise him!’
Dropping her skirts, she waved the candle light about and prayed that whoever was in her new house did not know that she actually lived alone. Some of the light bounced off the stained glass windows in the front door then splashed along the wall. Her eyes followed the glow along the hallway and passed the first doorway.
Faith moved slowly and inspected the small living room, dinning room and kitchen. Nothing was disturbed. In the living room the embers of the fire burnt dark orange, but they do not cast enough light. Faith closed all the doors and went back to the stairs, there was one more room she had to check. As her hand reached for the doorknob of the parlour door, she realised that was the first room she should have looked in.
The door swung open and she stuck the candle inside. Not being able to see very far, she was forced to go into the hardly used room. Two sofas faced each other over a low circle table, the curtains were drawn at the windows and the fireplace was empty. There was nothing else in the room and no place for anyone to hide.
Faith walked out, shutting the door behind her. Frowning, she looked down the hallway again. She could hear her own hard breathing and slight wheeze caused by being in her corset and tight evening dress for too long. Her heart pumped in her ears, seemly too calm and normal for the current situation.
Perhaps though, she had been wrong? Faith puzzled, she had never had a good imagination thanks to her strict up bring and she believed everything had a logical explanation. However, the sound of the boots had been so real. She looked upstairs and wonder if it was possible the invader had sneaked up whilst she had been going through the other rooms.
Slowly climbing the stairs, Faith stopped at the top and looked first to the left then to the right. The layout was the same as below; three doors to the left and one to the right. Faith went to there first and opened the door on to a small room that was meant for the maid. The candle flickered violently and Faith paused to give it time to stop. The circle of light showed her a bed frame against the wall, a wardrobe and desk against the other, whilst a small square curtained window was in the wall opposite.
Stepping out and securing the door behind her. Faith looked into the other rooms. The first was her dressing room and wardrobe, which held a large table and mirror, an old oak wardrobe and a number of trunks and boxes. The second room was her library and study which was still being unpacked, whilst the third was her bedroom. All the rooms were empty.
Faith sighed deeply and closed her bedroom door behind her. She lent against it then moved to light the other candles that were dotted around. The once dark room quickly became bright and she felt safer. Placing the originally candle by her bedside, Faith began the difficult task of undressing herself. Luckily she had had a lot of practice of the years, but it still took awhile.
Finally standing in her under things with her abandoned other clothes on the floor, she blew out all but one candle and climbed into bed, too tried to put the night dress on. Pulling the blankets up, she put her head on the pillow and felt sleep stealing over her.
The sound of a man’s boot steps in the hallway again made her shoot up right. Faith froze, clutching the blanks to her chest and listening hard. The steps were steady and seemed to be making their way to the front door. She counted, trying to remember how many steps the hallway was. The noise went on long past her counting.
‘What should I do?’ Faith muttered, ‘perhaps, I should just lock the door and stay in here. If it’s a thief there’s not much he can take anyway.’
Faith pulled the blankets back and got out of the bed. As quietly and quickly as she could she crossed the rug covered floor and locked the bedroom door. For a few moments she listened there, but all she could hear were the boots which she decided were now pacing the hallway.
‘Oh odd!’ she cried under her breath, ‘maybe, he’s waiting for me to come down again? I shall not fall for any tricks!’
Faith got back into bed and sat there listening to the footsteps until sleep claimed her.
To Be Continued…
Penny sank on to her two seat sofa and felt like she had just landed on a cloud. She shut her eyes, but snapped them open again as her small brown staffie dog jumped up next to her. Pip wagged her tail, give a little moan then curled about Penny’s legs. Sighing, Penny stroked Pip, feeling the short soft fur under her hot sweaty hand. Penny felt the urge to grab the dog and bury her face against Pip’s neck then cry loudly.
Penny held it together and instead carried on petting Pip as her thoughts fell into a downward spin. Rubbing her forehead and trying to ease the migraine that was steadily building, she thought about taking some pain killers. However, the dog felt so good against her legs, that she did not want to move.
She shut her eyes and listened to the sound of traffic outside her flat. A car horn blared then engines rumbled by. Voices drifted in the hallway and a door shut somewhere. Penny let the background noise fade, she willed herself to doze and her head to empty of all the dangerous thoughts that now existed.
Pip sighed into her jeans and Penny felt a gentle wave of warmth coming off the dog. Feeling grateful that she wasn’t alone, Penny let go the suicidal thoughts and told herself it had just been a bad day at work. Further more a bad week.
‘Maybe I need a new job,’ she said a loud.
Pip twitched and looked up at her.
‘But the hours and pay are great and I do like it…I just wish certain people weren’t there…It must be easy being a dog,’ Penny added as her thoughts drifted.
Pip wagged her tail at that and licked Penny’s wrist.
‘You don’t have to worry about money or jobs. You just have to think about food and sleeping and walks.’
‘No, no.Hush,’ Penny cut in and petted her head, ‘It’s okay. You’ve all ready been out, remember?’
Pip grumbled then settled back on Penny’s legs.
Penny rubbed the dog up and down her spine, feeling the bones under her fingers. Leaving her hand in the middle of Pip’s back, Penny sniffed a few times, feeling tears welling. Her migraine pounded loudly, blocking all further thoughts.
Penny got up and went into her bedroom. Pip followed, yawing. Penny dug out some pain kilers, took them with some water from a bottle she had in her bag then climbed into bed. Ignoring the little voice, that had somehow gotten through the pain her head, pleading for her to take the whole box, she curled up and tried to sleep.
Pip joined her and Penny pulled the dog closer. The tears she had been holding back sprung forth and she give into the crying. Sobbing loudly, she struggled to catch her breath. Slowly down, she breathed deeply then moved and flipped the pillow over so she wasn’t laying on a wet patch.
‘It’s okay,’ she muttered, ‘I’ll get things sorted. Tomorrow. I’ll speak to someone and things will be better. And if I have to move jobs then that’s what I’ll do.’
Pip moaned and snuggled closer to Penny’s chest. Unable to avoid the flicker of a smile on her face, Penny wrapped the duvet around them both tighter and Listened to Pip’s loud breathing. Shutting her eyes, Penny let herself drift off.
Tomorrow things would change, no matter what.
...moments of unexpected clarity
Miniature Diorama Photography