Querulous #atozchallenge

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Querulous; complaining in a whining manner. 

Mum said I was just too much and this would be better all around. I didn’t believe her though but there wasn’t much I could do about it. I’d never travelled by myself before and it was a long way to go to Aunt Maggie’s. I’d be excited about going on the train, but now two hours later, I was bored.

The train was rattling loudly and clicking over the rails. Rain was hitting the window and the countryside was racing past in blurs of green and yellows. I couldn’t focus on counting sheep or other animals now. For awhile, I had watched the old woman, who I was sharing this carriage compartment with, but then she had fallen sleep.

She reminded me of my great grandmother because of all the wrinkles and old dress. The woman had been reading, then knitting a scarf, then eating lunch before she had gone to sleep. I was tried too, but feeling awake. Leaning against the window ledge, I watched the rain and began thinking.

I wasn’t being sent away because I was bad, mum had made sure to tell me that, it was because she wasn’t well. She needed someone to look after her and there was no one, so she had to go to hospital which meant there was no one to look after me. I couldn’t be by myself, not just because I’m only thirteen, but because I have autism.

Autism is a hard thing to explain to people, so I don’t talk about it often. Mum says, I’m not different, I’m normal, but I just have a special way of thinking and doing things. There are lots of other people like me and they have their own ways too, just like everyone else does. I wish I didn’t have it though. If I was normal, I could look after myself and mum better.

Instead, I’ve to go to Aunt Maggie’s though I’ve not seen her for years and she’s not really my aunt but a very old friend of mum’s. I don’t know how much she knows about me, but mum says she’s really nice and with it being half term, I won’t have to move schools. Hopefully, she’ll be nice and let me play games and read my comic books all the time.

I had been fighting going to Aunt Maggie’s for the last two weeks. Mum had slowly started suggesting it along side explain things to me. I told her I could stay in the hospital with her or someone else could look after me. What about my normal babysitter, Nancy? I really like her and she always makes me laugh. I’d have anyone, I plead; even Mrs. Cramps, the crazy lady who smells bad and lives at the end of the street.

No, mum had said, no one else can do it. Please don’t make this harder. Be a good boy.

I was a good boy, but I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay with her. I wanted to stay in my bed, in my room, in my house. I didn’t want to go to some place new. I don’t like new things, especially if it’s noisy. Mum knew that and still she had tried to make me excited about going. It hadn’t really worked even though the train had been a nice distraction.

That’s how she’d really got me on the way to Aunt Maggie’s and the bag fill of snacks, toys and comics. Now, I was getting close to arriving and meeting Aunt Maggie, my mind had changed again. No longer did the way mum had put things make a difference. I just knew it was going to be too hard. I couldn’t be good if I didn’t like it. That was just the way it worked.

I shut my eyes, listening to the rain falling and the old woman snoring. I’d try my best I decided then if I was really good, maybe I’d be able to go home faster.

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Petrichor #atozchallenge

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Petrichor; the pleasant smell of the earth after rain. 

Everything smells better after it’s rained. There’s a cleanness in air which my ma said was God washing and cleansing everyone. I use to believe that without a doubt. Now though, I’m not sure. There’s so much I believed in as a child which has faded now I’m adult.

It’s strange how different things are after the rain. You notice the pools and reflections of things more. The sounds of splashing wheels and feet. The dripping of drops off things. I randomly remember a boy once telling me that the rain was actually a leak from Heaven’s showers.

I wondered for ages how that was possible and pictured angels having showers all together. Or God having a bath and all the water overflowing. Maybe that was the real reason behind a flood?

When you’re a child it’s easier to believe in these things. As an adult you are more logic and less imaginative. You know how rain is made and why it falls. The novelty of it has worn off too, like snow. I use to love snow! Now, it’s just a pain.

Even though, I know the truth behind things now, it doesn’t take the pleasure away from them. During the rainfall and afterwards, I open my window to let all the smells and sounds in. I sit on the ledge and take deep breaths till I feel calmer. I try to think of nothing at all, but sometimes like today, my mind wonders.

I look up at the sky, where the dark clouds roam and a few rain drops still linger. Are God and the angels up there right now having a bath and cleansing the poor below?

Opia #atozchallenge

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Opia; the ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.

He was holding me tightly and I was staring into his brown eyes trying to decide what to do. I felt a weird mixture of emotions and too much was tumbling through my mind to focus. I knew I should say something, but the words wouldn’t form.

His eyes were so intense with the weight of the question that I felt vulnerable. What would he do if I said the wrong thing? I couldn’t think of that. However, I couldn’t think of an answer either.

I took a deep breath and tried to break eye contact with him. I just needed a moment without his gaze. Would he see that as a wrong move though? Catching myself just in time, I wondered what was really holding me back from answering him.

There were too many things….What did I want though? I bit my lip, juggling the words on my tongue. It could only be ‘yes’ or ‘no’ that I squeezed out. My heart knew the right one to say, but my head said the opposite.

Whatever I picked, it would change both our lives.

‘Well?’ he said, finally crumbling at the long wait.

I took a deep breath and hoping I said the right thing, I replied, ‘I love you too.’

Nefarious

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Nefarious; extremely wicked or villainous.

Morgrim Redsbeard sat in the far corner of the Dragon’s Broken Claw inn, nursing his eighth pint of ale and believing it would cure his headache. Keeping low, Morgrim tried to blend in with the shadows, hoping no one recognised him. He wasn’t in the mood to tell tales of his victories tonight.

The Dragon’s Broken Claw was the most popular drinking hole in Eleria Town. It was just bad luck that Morgrim and his adventuring companions had decided to spend the night here. Morgrim glanced up, taking in the packed room with hooded eyes. The loud noise of voices wasn’t helping, but he didn’t feel like going to his shared bedroom just yet.

Taking a mouthful of ale, Morgrim wished he was drinking something more to his palette, like a nice golden dwarven beer. Also, instead of being in this man inn, he wanted to be in the great dwarf halls of his home, surrounded by kin.

Sighing into his tankard, Morgrim tugged at his long red beard which his ancestors had always been famous for. His finger caught in one of the knots and he was distracted for a few moments. Then out of the crowd, a voice caught his ears.

‘There’s always been outlandish rumors surrounding the Grey Tower. Only a few have ever be there though and many more have tried but The Dead Marshes have seen to ’em.’

Morgrim turned and scanned the over-crowded room for the speaker. There was  a tall man standing at other table close by on the left. At first glance, the man could be mistaken for a elf, but Morgrim’s eyes could tell he was just a fair skinned and haired man. There were other men seated or gathered around the table, they were all holding tankards and there was the remains of a meal on the table. The men looked eager to hear a tale.

‘They say an evil wizard rules the land there and he binds all creatures to do his bidding!’ the man continued.

Morgrim huffed into his ale. He had been to The Dead Marshes months ago and he had seen this so called evil wizard with his own eyes. For him, the fight hadn’t be worth it, but at least there was no more trouble for the surrounding villages.

‘Have you been there?’ a drunkard shouted.

A wave of voices followed demanding similar answers. A few other voices called for more drinks and someone else shouted for bread and cheese.

A ghost of smile appeared on the man’s face and he replied, ‘no, but a friend of a friend has! And he said it was the worse thing he every saw. There were armies of goblins and other such creatures working for this evil wizard. The whole land had been stripped bare and fires were burning everywhere. The smell was vile and chocking.’

‘Evil wizard my a-‘ a voice roared but was cut off by raucous laughter.

The man banged on the table and shouted above the noise, ‘This wizard is so wicked that soon everyone will be in danger! He is coming here and either he’ll bend you to his will or slay you all!’

Silence slowly began to fall over the inn. Heads turned and a few voices whispered.

‘It’s true! I tell ya. His name is becoming the most feared across the lands. He wields power no one has every seen before. He is blessed by dark Gods and he is friends with the giants and dragons. Right now, he is gathering his armies to invade. He’ll stop at nothing till he has complete rule!’

Morgrim slide his empty tankard away. His headache finally fading. He reached behind him and from the wall took his warhammer into his hand once more. The weight of the weapon give him great comfort and he always made sure it stand by his side.

‘How do you know this, Man?’ Morgrim spoke quietly in his deep voice.

Heads turned Morgrim’s way and a few elbows nudged each other as people recognised him. A full silence fell on the inn room and it seemed like breathes were being held.

‘It’s been circling for months. Travellers and messengers have been bringing word to the courts,’ the man explained, ‘though I’m sure a dwarf like you would know all about it.’

Morgrim stood up, the table pushed away by his broad and muscular body. He held his warhammer tightly but none threateningly. Casting his eyes, around the room to see that he had everyone’s attention, Morgrim turned back to the man.

‘I see you don’t know who I am, Man. I am Morgrim Redsbeard and I have been to that Grey Tower in The Dead Marshes which you speak of,’ Morgrim stated, ‘and I’m tell you now no such wizard ever lived in that tower.’

The man swallowed, looking deflated and started searching for words to make a come back with.

‘If you want a tale about an evil wizard, I could tell you one. Many have fallen to my warhammer,’ Morgrim declared, ‘innkeeper another pint of your finest ale. I’ve a tale that will chill your very ears off.’

(Characters originally from The Dead Marsh story. Which can be found here;  https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/the-dead-marshes-part-1/) 

Mellifluous (Part 2) #atozchallenge

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Mellifluous; sweet and smoothly flowing sound.

I nudged the white headphones with the tip of my walking boot and tried to figure out why someone might have left them on the footpath. They looked new, but perhaps they were broken. Not wanting to crush them, I picked them up and inspected them.

My dogs were off playing somewhere and I could hear distant voices. The canal pathway was empty though. The sounds of the water lapping against moored boats and the birds singing made for a pleasant background sound track.

I half wondered if that was why someone had abandoned their headphones. Had they suddenly decided that the song of nature was much more interesting then whatever they had been listening too?

That was a fleeting thought though. Why would anyone do that? Maybe the headphones had been stolen or just dropped?

I looked around, searching the rough ground that edged the canal path and the line of short trees that led off into the woods. There seemed to be nothing more.

I placed the headphones back down. Leaving them for someone else to find. My thoughts lingered though and I couldn’t help but think of someone taking the headphones off, dropping them and embracing the sweet sounds of nature.

Mellifluous (Part 1) #atozchallenge

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Mellifluous; sweet and smoothly flowing sound.

It was her favourite thing to do after work. She would sit back, put the headphones over her ears and find some music to suit her mood. Sometimes it would take a few tries, but then she would hit a smooth song that would be sweet to her ears.

She would relax and let the sounds carry her far away. She’d leave everything behind; her troubles, her thoughts, her dreams, her body. She would drift on a cloud of notes, high above everything, where nothing could touch her.

And there she would find it; nirvana.

Logophile #atozchallenge

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Logophile; a lover of words.

He loved words. They were his passion, life, work and ultimately his untimely death.

Kenopsia #atozchallenge

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Kenopsia; the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet. 

 It was a strange apocalyptic feeling that crept slowly over Georgina as they walked through the abandoned prison.

‘We shouldn’t be here,’ she whispered.

Bayo shot her a look over his shoulder then paused as her saw the cringing expression crossing over Georgina’s face.

Her voice had sounded louder and had echoed more then she had meant it too. Georgina felt like she had broken the second spell that hung over the building by being the first to speak. The first spell had been when they had entered the grounds, ignoring all the warning signs and sneaking under the two wired fences.

 ‘What is it?’ Bayo hissed.

‘This place is gross,’ Georgina said back.

Bayo give a small shrug of his broad shoulders and carried on walking. He was dressed far better for this place then Georgina was. He was wearing high work boots with his jeans tucked into them, a tight t-shirt and a padded coat. His skin was as dark as the shadows around them and his short black hair was a mass of small weaves.

Georgina watched him duck through a rusted twisted metal door then followed him, careful not to snag her blue designer coat, teal coloured mini skirt and matching tights on the sticking out wires. Her low pumps were covered by so much mud and dirt, it was hard to know what colour they were.

Judging from what was now around them, they had entered the first male block of the prison. The other three teenagers had come to stop in the main space and were shining their torches about. Bayo and Georgina joined them and began looking around too. On this floor, tables and chairs had been dotted round. There had been a TV, a snooker table and a table tennis table, giving the inmates downtime. Above rose four floors of cells, many of which had their doors wide open.

Nature had long taken over what had once been a loud and bustling scene. Patches of green and yellow moss covered the floor. Weeds grew in clumps through cracks and black mould coated the ceiling. Water was dripping heavily from somewhere close by. Rust covered everything metal and the paint was peeled.

Georgina shivered and felt like she was being watched. She touched her loose golden blonde hair nervously and making sure it was tucked safely into the hood of her coat. She double checked the coat was zipped up before putting her hands in the warm pockets. Then she turned away and took in her friends. They all looked deeply fascinated.

The only other girl in the group, Phoebe, had her head thrown back and was looking up at the ceiling as if it was covered in precious  gem stones. She didn’t seem at all concerned about what was around them. Her dark brown hair was plaited back and she was wearing hiking boots, old jeans and a thick grey jacket. Her torch light reflected off the grimy walls.

The three boys, including Bayo, seemed interested in exploring the cells. There were a few on this floor, but it was a certain one that they were eager to find. They shone their torches around, trying to figure out the numbers on the doors so they could plan their route.

Georgina moved closer to her boyfriend, Alex. He was the tallest of the boys and had dark spiky hair. His face was rounded and baby like but had a handsomeness to it that Georgina enjoyed staring at. He was wearing black trainers, ripped up dark jeans, a loose t-shirt and a leather jacket. She slipped her hand against his and wormed her fingers in between his so that they were holding hands.

‘I don’t like it,’ she muttered like a tried child being forced into bed.

‘It’s cool,’ Alex answered back.

‘It’s not. It’s creepy and unhygienic. I want to leave!’ Georgina snapped.

‘Go ahead then,’  Tiger sneered.

Georgina looked at him and pulled a face. It was Tiger’s fault they were here in the first place. He was the oldest of the group and Phoebe’s boyfriend. He had short brown hair, sharp eyes and model’s face. He was old boots, tight jeans and a long sleeved top.

Georgina turned away and pressed her face into Alex’s shoulder.

Tiger snorted as if he had expected her not to reply to him.

‘Which one is it?’ Phoebe asked.

‘It’s on the second floor. I remember that much,’ Tiger answered.

He walked over to the unstable looking concrete stairs and began climbing them. Phoebe and Bayo followed, their footsteps ringing out in the quietness.

‘Alex, I really want to leave. There’s something off about this place,’ Georgina whispered.

‘It’s fine,’ Alex responded and drew her into a hug, ‘I really want to see where one of the most famous murderers of all time was locked away.’

‘Why?’ Georgina asked into his jacket, her voice muffled

‘Let’s go,’ Alex spoke, having not heard her.

He took her hand and they walked up the stairs then across to another set and up those. Georgina tried not to look further ahead then the next steps. The open cell doors didn’t seem inviting at all and they reminded her of animal mouths, just waiting for something to walk in before snapping shut.

‘This is it, I think. Number thirty-eight,’ Tiger pointed out.

Alex and Georgina joined Tiger, Phoebe and Bayo at the open cell door.

‘Yeah, they say he drew pictures of his victims with his own blood on these very walls,’ Tiger continued.

He walked into the cell and flashed his torch around. It was empty of furniture, pipes were sticking out were a toilet and sink had once been and the walls were a dark grey and peeling badly.

Phoebe squeezed her way in and touched the wall. She inspected the floor and began looking for something.

‘We’ve seen it now, can we please go?’ Georgina cut in.

She tugged the sleeve of Alex’s jacket.

‘There’s other cells to see on this tour,’ Tiger declared, ‘the hanging cell, the gun shot cell….the showers. Do you fancy a trip to the showers, Georgie?’

‘No!’ Georgina cried as Tiger leered at her.

‘That’s enough,’ Alex growled and moved between them.

Tiger shrugged, letting the whole thing slide.

‘I can’t find the blood pictures,’ Phoebe said disappointingly.

‘It’s okay, babe. There’s more to see,’ Tiger answered.

Georgina looked behind her. There was a wire fence securing the edge and below was the main room. She thought she saw a flicker of movement down there in the shadows. It was nothing though, right?

She tugged Alex’s jacket sleeve again.

‘Okay, we’ll leave,’ he huffed.

‘Whatever,’ Tiger scoffed, ‘we’ll carry on then.’

‘Some other time,’ Alex added to show there was no hard feeling between them.

Tiger shrugged, not caring either way. He took Phoebe’s hand and led her out of the cell. Bayo trailed after them like a guard dog.

‘You okay?’ Alex asked Georgina.

She nodded, her eyes still watching below. There was a figure down there for sure now. He was a massive man with tattoos and he was just wearing shorts. He didn’t appear to be doing anything, just waiting.

Georgina held her breath and watched the man blending back into the shadows. The urge to get out reached it’s peak and she fought back a scream. Biting her lip, she looked up at Alex, he was watching the others head to the next floor.

‘We need to go,’ Georgina forced out.

‘Sure,’ Alex sighed.

Holding hands, they began to head out towards the sunny afternoon whilst behind them their friends walked further into the darkness of the jail.

Jouska #atozchallenge

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Jouska; a hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head.

She was there again in her front garden, sunbathing and relaxing. I’d missed seeing her during winter. Now though, she’d be out there every sunny day and I could watch from the shadow corner of my living room. I know what people would think of me if they knew I was watching her; a spy, a peeping tom, a stalker, a rapist.

I’m not any of them. I’m just a lonely artist who sees the beauty of all female forms. Sometimes I’ll sit here and sketch her, other times I’ll draw her from memory. Most of the time I just like to watch and hold a conversation with her in my head.

‘Hello,’ I would say, ‘nice weather today.’

‘Yes,’ she would reply, maybe lowering her sunglasses.

‘I’m sorry to interrupt you. But I live across the way there and I’ve been admiring you for so long.’ 

She might sigh and try to break the news she has a boyfriend or a husband to me. Not that I’ve noticed one about the place. Or perhaps, she might look closely at me and try to tell me I’m not her type. 

In some of these conversations, she does declare her interested in me, but those are very rare and only when I’m feeling at my most lowest. Most of the time she’ll state a boyfriend.

My reply is always, ‘that’s fine. I’m an artist and I would like to paint you.’ 

‘Well, I don’t know,’ she’d respond and start to blush.

‘Please? You can have the painting. It’s the only thing I wish for.’ 

‘I’d need to think about it,’ she would say whilst getting up.

‘No. Don’t think about it. You wouldn’t have to do anything. Just lay there as you have been doing and I shall get to work at once. Here, I have my paper and pencils all ready. Please, this would mean so much to me.’ 

She’ll lower herself back down, ‘okay….’

‘It’ll be fine,’ I’ll say.

Then I begin to sketch her. Outlining all her loveliness whilst she sunbaths. 

After, I will transfer the sketches to canvas and paint her. It’ll be my master piece. The one painting everyone remembers me by.

If only that conversation could become real…

Imbroglio #atozchallenge

 

pexels-photo-89820.jpegImbroglio: an extremely confusing and embarrassing situation.

I wanted to hide my shame, but I couldn’t, the best I could do was get up and leave. Even though that didn’t feel right. I had always been one to stand my ground just like my mother had told me. She had been too headstrong and modern for this tiny Irish village in the middle of nowhere. She had never been accepted by the locals and many were happy that she was now dead.

Wrapping my shawl tighter around me, I walked across hilly ground. Not really going anywhere because sometimes you just had to walk away. The wind twisted my loose hair about and though I felt the chill, I was warm enough. My hands dropped to my rounded stomach that was no longer concealable.

Behind me, I could still hear the villagers’ voices and laughter, even though the pub was miles away now. I blamed my mind and the fact that their harsh words would always linger with me. I wanted it not to be true, but it was hard not to believe them when I myself didn’t know.

I came to a sheltered nook and gratefully sat down. The thin grass was dry and so was the soil below. I curled up as best I could, wanting to feel safe. I tried switching my mind to other things, but I couldn’t let it go.

Sighing, I wondered why love had to be so confusing. Even the most simple love could be, but in my case it was far from simple. My hand rubbed my stomach in circles as I fell into more deeper thinking.

Was the man I had fallen in love with and grown to know for two years really lying to me?

The locals said he wasn’t American like he claimed to be, but a born and bred Irish man. He’d gone to America to be an actor, but that hadn’t lasted long. Now, he was working where he could and he was married with a family too.

I just couldn’t picture my dashing boyfriend being like that. For a start, when I’d announced my news he’d been delighted. Surely if I was his mistress he’d have recoiled? And he’s away so much because he’s an actor and he has to travel to filming locations.

Rattling my mind, I tried to think if I had ever noticed anything that might have suggested other wise. Had their been papers about? A call or text on his phone? Reminders on his fridge?

There seemed to be nothing. I had to know though! I got up, struggling to do so then under a darkening sky, I walked back to the village.

I needed to hear the truth, not just for my piece of mind but for the baby’s too.