A-Z Challenge 2017

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to say that I’m taking apart in the A-Z Challenge again! So, starting from tomorrow all my posts, beside from the Sunday ones, are going to be on a set theme and follow the letters of the alphabet. If you want to know more, you can check it out here; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

My theme this year is to do with words. So, I’ve researched and selected 26 different words that I like the sounds and meanings of. These words are either from different languages, archaic, scientific or unusual English words. Each word will form the base of the short story.

On Sundays, which are none writing days on the challenge, I’ll take the previous story and continue it or expand on it. Just so that things stay flowing and I’m still in the mind set to do it.

I’m really looking forward to taking part and hopefully many interesting story will come out of it.

In fact, I’ve all ready started writing!

All the best, Hayley.

Advertisements

The Bookworm

pexels-photo-267684.jpeg

I don’t know what was going through Kim’s mind that day. Only that she wanted to be left alone. My old gran would’ve said that girl was away with the clouds and why couldn’t I find someone normal to have as a girlfriend?

I didn’t want normal though. I wanted the unexpected and unusual. I wanted more excitement then a cheerleader – who were way out of my zone anyway and more beautiful then the geeks and nerd girls. Saying that though, Kim was a bit of a geek. Though she always denied it.

We were meant to have a date that evening. But as we left school, Kim told me it was off then left without another word. I pondered as I walked home if that meant we had broken up, but Kim would have said that. She was a girl of few words and when she spoke it was only to say what she meant.

The late afternoon was pleasant enough, for the end of March. There’d been a lot of rain recently, but it was a mostly dry and sunny day. I didn’t much feel like going home. But I was feeling stuffy in my uniform. So, I headed there to get changed.

There was plenty of things I could do, like homework or playing on my Xbox, maybe seeing if anyone else was up for hanging out. I wasn’t in the mood though. Kim had put me off and my thoughts were fixed on her.

What was her reason? She’d never cancelled on me before and we’d been dating for five months or so now. Yes, I wanted to sleep with her, but I was willing to wait. If she’d been ill or busy with something else, why didn’t she just say? It had been simply, ‘I can’t meet tonight. Sorry.’

I could text or call her, but Kim wasn’t one for phones. Instead, I decided to go and see if I could just find her by wondering about. A crazy, long shot of an idea, but it had worked before.

Grabbing a jacket, I left and walked around our small town. I checked Kim’s house, but there was no one home. I checked the school, but it was now locked for the night. I searched shops, the library, the little parks. Finally, I walked out to the woods.

There were a handful of dog walkers, a jogger and some school kids from the other high school dotted around. I was about to give up, maybe she’d gone out of town? Some emergency she couldn’t tell me about? Other ideas popped into my head and my feet came to a stop.

I was facing the river. The water was flowing gently, causing the grass and tree branches which dipped in to move also. It was a pretty spot. I looked further to my right watching the river moving past me. Something caught my eyes. There was a large branch stretching over the river and laying on it was Kim!

She still had her uniform on, but she had let down her long black hair. There was a book covering her face and her school bag was hanging up close by. She seemed to be asleep.

I walked over and lent around the tree. It was easy enough to climb up and walk over, but I didn’t want to. Instead, I said Kim’s name gently and tried to wake her. It took a few attempts.

‘Go away, Dustin,’ Kim said.

‘Why? What are you doing?’ I asked.

‘Communicating with this book,’ she replied.

I frowned, ‘why?’

‘Because it’s hard and I’m trying to understand it. Now go away!’

‘Is that why you cancelled our date?’ I asked.

‘No,’ Kim answered.

I waited, but she didn’t say any more. I rubbed my fingers over the bark of the tree and felt how rough and dry it was. Kim just lay there, book still over her face.

‘Then, why?’ I pressed.

‘Because I wasn’t in the mood,’

‘Oh.’

I put cheek to the tree trunk and stared at her. Kim had really nice legs. She wasn’t wearing tights or leggings today, a sure sign the weather was getting warmer. Her skirt was knee length though and give her the cover she needed. Her blouse was still tucked in and I could see it swelling around her chest when she breathed in. Even though I hadn’t seen them yet, Kim had small boobs.

I couldn’t decided what to do. From her demeanour it was clear I should go, but I didn’t want to. There was enough room on the branch for me if I wanted to sit close to her feet. Or, I could sit at the foot of the tree. What was the point in waiting for her when she’d made it clear she didn’t want me though?

‘I guess, I should go,’ I said, a little too loudly.

Kim finally took the book off her face and looked at me.

I lent off the tree and got ready to make a move.

‘You don’t have,’ Kim said, ‘I’m bored anyway.’

She sat up and shuffled along the branch. She put the book in her bag, tugged it down and put the strap over her head. The she clung on to the tree trunk and slowly climbed down. I helped her over the last bit then give her a hug.

‘What’s the book about?’ I asked.

‘Seventeen century witches’ plays,’ she added.

‘Witch plays?’

Kim held my hand and we began walking.

‘Yeah, because people in the sixteen hundreds loved witches.’

I nodded, noticing the sarcasm in her voice. Kim swung our hands and we headed down a quiet little path.

‘Maybe, you can help me figure it out later?’ she said.

‘Sure. Does this mean we get to have our date after all?’ I asked.

‘I guess…You’re going to pay for dinner, right?’

I shook my head, unbelieving that and Kim laughed at me.

Toxic Thunder

pexels-photo-67102

It had been raining forever. At least it felt that way. I liked the rain, but I wanted to feel the sun on my face as I had done as a child. I remembered the yellow warmth, just about. The rain was always cold and wet, sometimes it would be a different colour too. When that happened people stayed inside for fear they might become contaminated. Though really, all water was toxic.

They claimed there was nothing they could do about it. It was a world wide disaster and the predicated death levels were higher then the War. That was the price we were paying for chemical warfare, the government said. Still, scientists and others were working around the clock for solutions whilst there was hope left. Everywhere warning signs stated not to drink unfiltered water, to stay inside as much as possible and report all health problems to a doctor.

Today, the rain was a lime green colour which was why I wasn’t allowed outside. Sitting in the window seat of the second floor landing, I watched a few brave people walking the street below me. They held their umbrellas up high and huddled in thick coats, as if that would protect them.

The book I had picked from our small library lay opened but unread in my lap. Since there was no going to school today, father had insisted we self-educate. My two brothers had taken over the library with their historical debates. Father was in the study and Mother had gone to lay down as as the lime rain had given her a headache, or so she had claimed. I could have gone to my day room, the family lounge or the parlour, instead I went to the best spot in the house to see the outside world.

I pressed the side of my head to the wet glass, knowing I’d be told off for getting my curled blonde hair damp. I didn’t care. I watched guards in red uniforms appear and began clearing people from the street. They must have been told that the toxic level had reached a high. A siren began to wail, confirming that. The street quickly cleared and just in time too as the lime rain picked up and started to change colour.

Black rain began falling and in the distance came a rumble of thunder. I tightened my grip on the book. The page corners curling under my fingers. I had always feared storms, but they were worse now. They said sometime toxic rain conducted lightening and exploded. Fires were common during storms and deaths.

I tried to relax my hands, the hard corners of the cover were digging into me. The thunder growled louder, sounding so close. The street before me went dark with only a few dots of light peering out. The lightening flashed, yellow red, capturing the street in that moment. I heard a popping sound and the lights around me all started to flicker.

The smell of gas and burning electricity filled the air. An emergency bell rang though the house, backed by the siren’s call. There was a rush of footsteps and voices. The clatter of things being dropped and doors moving echoed throughout the house.

‘To the shelter, quickly!’ my father bellowed.

‘I’ll get Madam,’ a maid spoke.

‘Where is Miss Victoria?’ another voice asked.

A flash of lighting hit the sky making me jump as it crackled away. I stood up, clutching my book and hurried two flights of downstairs. In the grand hallway, everyone was rushing into the kitchen, shouting at each other. I joined them hurrying into the cellars. My shoulders and skirts brushing maids and kitchen staff.

I tripped down the stone steps, losing a shoe, and my one of my brothers caught me at the bottom. He had to move me out of the way as the last people flew down and the metal door slammed shut. My brother rushed me down the corridors, through the wine and food cellars. My legs and feet hurt as we went further down. Finally, we arrived with everyone else in the last and deepest cellar. My brother hushed me into a corner and left me breathing in the damp air.

Huddling in the dim light with my family and servants, I caught my breath. My mother looking dazed was sitting on a small bed, half hidden by  a curtain. My father was sat comforting her and my brothers were giving orders to some of the servants. I tucked myself into a alcove, hugging my book and praying we would survived.

Creepy Doll Face

pexels-photo-228844

I looked up and there she was staring down at me again. My breath caught and I chocked on a bit of water I hadn’t swallowed. A coughing fit hit my chest and I had to turn away whilst it felt like I was coughing up a lung. I couldn’t breath and panic shot through me.

I sat down, luckily landing on Harriet’s bean bag or else I would have been on the floor. I rubbed my chest and calmed myself. Most of the coughing subsided and I was able to think again. I took a few depth breaths and tried not to think about anything other then my breathing.

Reaching up to the small desk, I took down the bottle of water I’d brought upstairs with me. Unscrewing the cap, I took a sip, testing my throat. It seemed okay. I took a few more and shut my eyes. Music was still rocking through my headphones. I slipped them off, wanting a few moments without Meat Loaf singing his love to me.

The coughing stopped and I took a mouthful of water. Feeling better, I put the cap back on and tried not to look up again. I scanned my ten year old daughter’s bedroom. Taking in the bright pink princess wallpaper, Harriet’s collection of unicorn teddies, all her books, the doll’s house and all her fake looking dollies.

The vacuum and cleaning bucket stood in the middle of the room like intruders. I should get back to cleaning. Harriet hated anyone cleaning her room, luckily she was a very organised and her bedroom was always tidy. Still though, there were things a child couldn’t clean.

I went to stand up and my eyes began drifting up to the top shelf again. I stopped myself, not wanting to look at her again. Those piecing blue-grey eyes were a death trap and all that blonde curly hair wasn’t as innocent as it looked. I focused on the floor and the vacuum, planning what I was going to do next.

I couldn’t escape her though and I lifted my eyes upwards. She was sat on the corner of the highest shelf above Harriet’s bed, where all the precious things Harriet was too young yet to play with sat. There were things like pot ponies, glass teddy bears, a paper weight with a real flower inside and the doll.

My breath caught again and I was taken in by her as if she held power over me. Her china face was snow white and perfectly heart shaped. Her red painted lips were a tight bow as she faked a smile. Her glass eyes had little black eyelashes brushed on which give a frame to her glaring gaze. Her face was framed by all that blonde hair which there appeared to be far too much of. She was wearing a pale blue dress, trimmed with white lace at all the edges. Her limbs had been arranged so that her arms and hands rested on the shelf and her feet hung down. She had on tiny white lacy socks and blue leather shoes.

‘It’s just a doll,’ I said aloud, breaking the spell.

I took a deep breath and looked away. I got up and went over to the vacuum. I plugged it in and turned it on. I cleaned the carpet and I tried to let the noise of the vacuum drown out my thoughts, but it didn’t work.

The doll had only been here two weeks. A late birthday present from Harriet’s grandmother. The woman was almost a hundred and in a care home down south, near the coast. The doll was probably around the same age as her. Harriet had only meet her twice,  as a baby, so Harriet wouldn’t remember. Mrs. Perkins did though! And every birthday and Christmas Harriet would get something in the post from her. Normally, they were suitable gifts, but that china doll totally wasn’t.

Even though, Harriet had cried and moaned, I had put the doll on the shelf and told her could have it when she was older. It hadn’t worked though. I had been hearing Harriet talking to the doll as if it was her best friend. Also, I kept finding the doll about the place. Yesterday, it had been in the bathroom, on Saturday it had been on the sofa and this morning, I swear the doll was in the kitchen, but then I hadn’t been able to find it.

Now, the doll was staring me down.

Ignoring it, I finished my cleaning. Then as I was leaving the room, I reached up and pulled the doll off the shelf. She slide easily enough down. Stuffing her in my cleaning bucket, I took that and the vacuum downstairs again. I put anything away then debated what to do with the doll.

Finally, I got a plastic bag from the cupboard and wrapped her in that. Her creepy face didn’t seem to happy about that. I didn’t care! Then I went up into the attic and left the doll on an old wooden chair that had belong to my great-granddad.

The rest of the day was normal and I had this strange peace of mind. However, when Harriet came home the world collapsed.

‘Where is she? Where is Esme?’ Harriet wailed.

‘Who?’ I asked.

I was in the kitchen, sorting out dinner and my husband was in the living room. I’d picked Harriet up from school two hours or so ago and she’d only now just noticed her doll was missing.

‘Grandma’s doll,’ Harriet clarified.

‘I’ve not seen her. Did you leave her laying around some place again? I’ve told you not to play with her, remember? She’s a special doll,’ I replied.

Harriet puffed out her cheeks, trying to hold back tears as she thought.

‘Why don’t you ask you dad to help you look?’ I suggested.

With a huff, Harriet stormed off.

For the next few minutes, I heard my husband and daughter searching the whole house. I busied myself with making the meal. When I called them both to eat, Harriet declared the doll was still missing.

‘I’m sure she’ll turn up,’ I said.

When You Are Alone At Home

pexels-photo-300001.jpeg

I hated being all by myself at home. It was too quiet and there never seemed to be anything to do. Most people would like that, I guess. They’d see it as a chance to do those odd jobs or hobbies or watch TV which they couldn’t do when parents and kids were around. Yes, I could do all that, but I didn’t feel in the mood for any of it.

Maybe it was the lack of motivation? The pressure that I must do something! I had the space, the time, the chances, so yes, I must do some kind of activity which I couldn’t do other wise.

Nothing was coming to my mind though. I listened to the ticking of the kitchen clock, the dripping of the rain outside and the cat purring around my legs. I put the TV on, but only for background noise and just to hear voices so I wouldn’t be lonely.

I wondered if this was how it was when you got old and housebound. Would I just watch TV all day and doze? Would I reflect on my past and wonder what the rest of my future would be like?

I hope I’d lived a good past.

The cat jumped up and snuggled into my lap. We’re not friends, but with my parents gone for a few days, she was attention seeking. I petted her and listened to her purring more loudly.

I’ve have to get a cat when I was old and stuck inside. It would have to be a nice cat though. One who’d sit in my lap all the time and not be so wild. An indoor cat. Maybe, one of those with a really long coat and bright blue eyes. I hope I’ll be able to brush it though….

I channel flicked, but didn’t find anything worth watching. A nagging voice in my head told me to do something. ANYTHING!

Picking the cat up, I placed her on the floor. Disgruntled, she looked at me then trotted off. I went into the kitchen, though I was hungry and began looking around. Finally, I decided to do some baking.

I wasn’t that good to be honest, but at least it would kill time until the evening. Then there’d be soaps on and quiz shows and murder mystery dramas. I could get snacks and chill out, maybe the cat would come to me again?

I pulled one of my favourite cooking books off the shelf and flipped through it. What could I make? Something simple, easy and tasty. Cake? Cupcakes? Yes, that would do…chocolate cupcakes!

I set to work and found my mind better now it had something to focus on.

The Gold Family

ghosts-gespenter-spooky-horror-40748

I woke up suddenly from a collection of bad thoughts that had leaked into my mind. The pale peach ceiling which I had always hated, met my eyes and my nose was so close to it. Realising this, I had drifted upwards again, I rolled over and floated back down.

Hovering above the bed, I tried to make my floating form conform to the curled up position I had always liked to be in. I couldn’t feel the blankets or pillows under me, yet with a lot of contraction, I could move them around with my energy.

Settling as best I could, I looked across at my husband, he was resting soundlessly. I wondered what he was thinking about. Listening, I couldn’t hear the children, so I guess they were resting too. The blinds were down on the windows so I couldn’t see what it was like outside. There was a clock on the bedside table, but I disliked looking at it. Time was meaningless.

However, we couldn’t do much in the daytime. An energy reversal seemed to have happened. Once we had gotten energy from sleep, food and the sun, now we could only get energy from darkness and live animals. Though there wasn’t a lot we could do with the energy. Yes, we could move things and make noises, but I couldn’t clean or leave the house!

I don’t know how we’d all ended up like this to be honest. Maybe, it was a curse or punishment? I didn’t like to spend a lot of time thinking about it. Instead, I tried to carry on as normal, even though that was impossible, but still we had to keep going somehow.

My husband stirred then sat up. He drifted to the bathroom and I listened to him swearing as he remembered he couldn’t do anything.

I got up and tried to straighten the bed though it was in vain. In the background, the children’s voices could be heard and the sound of the clockwork lullaby played. The floor creaked with their footsteps and laughter drifted down the hall. They went downstairs and tested their energy on whatever they could.

Some nights we were stronger and other nights we were weaker. The oldest child had been keeping a record of this, but it she’d long forgotten it now. I heard them turning on and off the TV and radio. There was also the flicking of the hallway light switch and the ping of the microwave. All sounds that had once filled our house and been so normal to us all.

My husband came back in and defeated, lay on the bed again.

‘What will happen when a new family move in?’ I asked.

‘I don’t know,’ he sighed, ‘maybe they won’t.’

‘Someone’s bound to!’ I cried.

He mumbled something and curled up tighter into a ball.

Grumpily, I left him to it and want down to join the children. They were in the living room, messing with the TV. I drifted on to the sofa and watched then turning the channels. They were exhausted soon enough and settled around me to watch cartoons.

I couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen when someone brought the house. Surely someone knew what had happened to us. What if they didn’t though? I tried not to think about that. It didn’t make sense, someone – a family member, friend or neighbour had sorted things out now. Too much time had passed for it not too.

The children went outside to play. Though it was very little play, just the moving of a ball back and forth and the rocking of the swing set. I watched them from the kitchen window, just like I use to. Then I went up to see my husband. He was still as I had left him.

‘Why don’t you go outside and play with the kids?’ I suggested.

He uttered something, then got up and drifted through the floor as if it wasn’t there.

I potted around the bedroom, touching things I had once loved; jewellery, books, dresses, DVDs. Things I missed so much and never really taken for granted. I sighed and looked out of the window. I couldn’t see anything. Just the blackness that seemed to have engulfed us.

I knew it was going to happen one day. It happens to us all, I just didn’t expect it to be like this.

Empty Swing

There was one swing in the playground that no one ever sat on. Sometimes flowers, teddy bears and cards decorated the swing then were gone. Despite all the stories, one stood out the most; a little girl fell off the swing to her death. But no one knew the truth for sure.

Wings

three line tales week 59: Happy St. Patrick's Day

She hadn’t flown in a plane since she was a child.

However, she wanted to see the world and this was the fastest way.

The nerves soon give way to joy and she found a passion she never knew was there.

 

(Inspired from; https://only100words.xyz/2017/03/17/three-line-tales-week-59)

Empty #writephoto

When the moors were empty, it made them far better to walk upon, Wish decided. There weren’t noisy children running around or dogs barking or horses clopping everywhere. There was just the wind blowing through the dry grasses and heather. The sweet smell of just flowering plants and spring. Birds singing off in the distance and nothing more.

Wish came to a stop and looked around. She spread her arms out and threw back her head. The sky above was a lovely pale morning blue. Not a cloud insight, she noticed. Smiling, Wish dropped her head and arms, she got back to walking, feeling totally calm and satisfied.

 

(Prompt from: https://scvincent.com/2017/03/23/thursday-photo-prompt-empty-writephoto/ With thanks).

I’ve Been Published In An Anthology!

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to share this with you all!

Last year, I took part in a short story writing collaboration on one of the writing Facebook groups I’m a member of. They’ve released their first book and it contains the story I helped write. I got named too!

It would be awesome if you could support them and me by buying this book. It’s available in all formats and world wide.

Here’s the link;

 

There’s me! Hayley Hardman.

17265172_10212522500757089_5685584138134451506_n

Totally exciting to see your name in print.

Thanks for reading this and all your support. Every like, share and follower helps me to feel more inspired to carry on writing stories.