Stone Circles (Part 1)

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Every summer, I travelled from boarding school in London back to my aunt’s house, Trenworth Manor in Cornwall. My parents had died when I was a baby, leaving me a fortune and placing me in the care of my mother’s childless and widowed twin sister. My aunt, not knowing what to do with a boy had always put me in the care of others.

I was thirteen that year and growing into a gentleman all ready. I had short brown hair, that curled at the ends, light brown eyes and my face, though still  rounded with child-likeness was becoming more strong and defined. I was tall for my age but thin as I had yet to fill out. I also had some faded scars on my palms, the results of being caned too hard a few months back.

Looking out of the small, two horse drawn carriage’s window, I saw the scene around me began to change. After travelling many hours by a few different horse drawn coaches, I was pleased to see Bodmin Moor growing wild all around the road as it meant I was almost at my aunt’s house. She lived in a small manor house, left to her by her husband, on the edge of the moors and overlooking a tiny village.

The two brown horses clopped through the half open gates, the carriages wheels crunching over stones then we were there at the front door of Trenworth Manor. The driver let me out and I looked around at the house. It hadn’t changed in a year, it never really seemed too. The huge grey stones and plan front loomed over me, the handful of windows seemed to be judging me like eyes and the door was a closed mouth, keeping it’s secrets inside.

I went up the steps whilst the driver lowered my trunk. The door open as I got there and the housekeeper, Mrs Bennett, peered out of the gap. She was a short, stocky woman, with a huge bosom that her practical black and white frilled dress seemed unable to keep in. Her face was worn and wrinkled more then her years but she must have been in her mid-fifties that year. She had small, unhappy brown eyes. Her dark brown and grey hair was to her shoulders and plaited back.

‘Good day, Mrs Bennett. Please inform my aunt Mrs Whitley that I have arrived,’ I announced.

Mrs Bennett grunted at me like an old dog, opened the door wider and walked off. None of my aunt’s servants had ever had the time for me either. I walked in, hung my hat on the stand and went into the parlour to await my aunt or Mrs Bennett’s return.

I heard the driver drag my trunk into the hallway and stop to catch his breath. I had all ready paid him and we had known each other for a few years now. He should also remember that he wouldn’t get any hospitably here.

After a few moments, he left, closing the door behind him. I heard him urging the horses on and the coach wheels starting up. I went to the window and watched them leave down the short driveway and out onto the moors.

Turning, I took the parlour in; a few chairs were dotted around, two low tables placed between them, a small fireplace in the far wall and on the mantle a ticking brass carriage clock. My aunt never had visitors. Expect her solicitor and sometimes people looking for work.

I didn’t sit but walked around the room, stopping sometimes at the window or the fire place. I was tried and hungry, wanting to eat and go to bed. The minutes passed and Mrs Bennett came bustling back, tutting over my abandoned trunk in the hallway before coming into the room.

‘Your aunt is not feeling well today. She’s employed a new maid to wait on you,’ Mrs Bennett replied in a clipped voice.

‘Oh. Has my governess not arrived yet?’ I said.

It was normal for my aunt to employ someone to teach and keep an eye on me over the summer. For the last few years, my governess had also been the teacher of Bodmin town’s girl school. Before that, there had been a string of young women in their first appointments as governesses. I could not really remember them all.

‘No,’ Mrs Bennett sniffed, ‘your aunt has decided you are too old for one now. You should be able to take care of yourself.’

I was taken back by this and didn’t know what to say.

‘I disagree,’ Mrs Bennett said in a low voice almost as if she didn’t want me to hear but could not help speak her thoughts, ‘boy should not be left to wander around and idle away!’

‘Idle?’ I uttered, horrified.

Mrs Bennett rose to her short, full height, holding her head high and staring down her nose at me as if I was something disgusting that shouldn’t be inside the parlour.

‘I have too much do. You know where your room is,’ she added then turning on heel, stormed off.

Unsure what to do, I walked slowly to the connecting rooms I always stayed in. Trenworth Manor seemed un-decorated and half empty of furniture. The wallpaper and paint were badly faded, where there were small paintings on the walls they were dusty, the rugs and floorboard, though clean were threadbare and scuffed. The staircases’ banisters had been polished so much, they had turned dull.

The furniture that did dot the hallways and gathered in rooms was old, some tables and chairs going back generations – family heirlooms. The fabric on the curtains, chairs and cushions were so faded you could no longer see the colours or patterns. There were perhaps only a few ornaments – vases that stood empty in on window sills, animal and people figurines on mantles and bookcases.

The manor give the impression it had not been lived in for years but someone was trying to keep up appearances. There was a pressure of silence, broken only by the ticking of clocks that echoed around and the creak of wood. There was a faint musty, damp smell masked by the scent of lilies and fire smoke. I also recalled the smell of dried fruit and green leaves from Christmas.

I climbed two staircases, down a short corridor and arrived at the first of the three doors. Opening the door, I entered the bedroom and found someone had recently aired it out. The window was open, the breezy moving the curtain across the plush window box seat. Taking up a whole wall and most of the room, was a large double four poster bed with dark red velvet curtains swept around the wooden poles. At the head, two small tables guarded either side and at the bottom there was a worn bedding box.

In the opposite wall, was a white marble fireplace. Coal, firewood and kindling stacked neatly and waiting to be lit. On the mantel, was a small sliver joint picture frame containing paintings of my parents looking at each other. There was also a small blue vase and two china dogs. On the wall above was one of my favourite paintings; Bodmin moor in all it’s summer glory was the ruins of castle in the distant. To the right of the fireplace was a small dark wardrobe.

Smiling at the familiarity and glad not be be travelling anymore, I relaxed. Taking off my shoes, I climbed up onto the bed. Laying down, the pillow felt soft on my head and the blankets warm underneath me. I yawed then shut my eyes, feeling sleep hushing me away.

To be Continued…

Hunter #FridayFictioneers

The sun rose on another day, the light touching the roofs of the nearby houses and I prayed thanks to God. In the distance, I could hear the hissing and shuffling as the monsters retreated into any solid darkness they could find. Sunlight burnt them as well as fire, sending them back to Hell where they had originally came from.

I checked my weapons, strapped them to myself and prepared to go out. The best time to hunt monsters was between now and three PM. I was determined to send them all back and restore the world right again.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2018/07/18/20-july-2018/ with thanks).

Lonely Grave #WeeklyWritingChallenge

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The meadows stretched for miles and miles. Not many people came by, sometimes a farmer or a lost hiker, but they never saw the headstone standing alone on the little hill before the leafy woods.

Birds soared above, sometimes landing on the headstone that marked the life of someone now long forgotten. Other animals also came, they sniffed the stone and moved on. Nature grew moss and grass across the stone, protecting it from the rain and snow.

And the ghost whom the gravestone belongs to drifts evermore, silently haunting, waiting to be released.

 

(Inspired by; https://secretkeeper.net/2018/07/16/weekly-writing-challenge-150/ with thanks).

Wishes #WritePhoto

There was so much hanging off the small tree it was hard to see the branches and leaves. I looked up in wonder at all the ribbons, plastic straps, paper and other stuff waving in the summer breeze. It reminded me of a Christmas tree.

I wished I’d brought something to hang in the tree. I looked around to see if there was anything close by but there wasn’t anything in the copse. Expect….I was wearing a red ribbon in my hair today.

I took the bow out in one, my hair falling around me then tried to find a spot on the tree anywhere I could reach. There was only the thin trunk which looked so bare compared to the branches. I didn’t think my ribbon was long enough to wrap around, so went for the begin of a branch instead.

Tying the ribbon there, I made a wish. Then shut my eyes and spun around three times. Stopping, I walked off in the direction before me, not looking back at the tree. And that was how the Wishing Tree worked.

 

(Inspired by https://scvincent.com/2018/07/12/thursday-photo-prompt-wishes-writephoto/ with thanks).

Books #WhatPegmanSaw

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She could get lost in here. Bookcases rose all around her, filled deep with knowledge and life. She didn’t know where to begin it was so over welling. She had been told it was huge and grand but this was beyond what she had imagined.

Reaching out, she ran her fingers along the spines of the books as she walked. She thought she could feel little throbs and whispers as she did so. It was a librarian’s best dream and it was going to take awhile for her to realise this was now her reality.

(Inspired by; https://whatpegmansaw.com/2018/07/14/baltimore-maryland/ with thanks).

 

The Set #FridayFictioneers

Will had learnt not to question things on the odd jobs he picked up during summer but this time was a little different. Helping the set producer prepare the background, Will wondered what this movie was about. It’s a horror for sure he decided, placing paper pumpkin lights in a too fake creepy tree.

Another assistant wheeled on a rectangular cage trolley then helped an actor who was heavy bandaged and wearing a blood stained white doctor coat inside.

‘What is this about?’ Will asked.

‘It’s a love story between two burn victims,’ the set producer answered with a shrug.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2018/07/11/13-july-2018/ with thanks).

Gone

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I held the last photo of the ship, The Blue Royal, taken before it had sunk under stormy waves in my hands. You could barely make out the black shape of the ship against the grey sky and sea. The photo had been taken some distance away, on another ship, The Blue Princess, by a passenger wanting to capture the storm.

I knew the full history of both ships, not though interested but family history. My great aunt’s twin cousins, Lily and Rose, had been on board The Blue Royal on a cruise for their sixteenth birthday. The storm had hit the ship hard, capsized it and caused sixty-two people to drown. Twenty-eight bodies, including Lily and Rose’s were never found.

My great aunt had kept a keepsake box of them and now she’d gone, the box belonged to me. Inside were; letters, postcards, little china animals, a small china face doll, a bible and some small books. I felt a strange chill touching this stuff. I had never known these cousins.

Holding their items made me want to know more though. What had their lives and deaths been like?

I could only imagine.

The Stranger

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There was a stranger waiting for me when I got off at the underground station. I didn’t notice him as the crowd was heavy and I was in a hurry.

The train left, rushing into the tunnel and people moved upwards to the haze of London air.

The stranger followed me, though I wasn’t aware of it then.

I walked out, into more busy crowds and made my way back home. I knew someone was following me soon after but I tried to convince myself it wasn’t true.

At my apartment door, I glanced over and noticed him. I stopped, wondering what to do.

‘Carol?’ he called out.

He knew my name! but I didn’t know him. I didn’t answer. Would he leave me alone if I said no?  If I said yes, then what?

I had paused for too long, staring at him. There was something oddly familiar about his face and hair color.

‘I’m sorry,’ he said, turning away.

‘Who are you?’ I asked sharply.

‘Your older brother,’ he said softly, ‘our parents had to give me up for adoption because they were teenagers when I was born.’

 

 

The Chestnut Mare

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To Penny there was nothing like being on the back of a running horse. The power of the mare under her, the wind whipping her hair, the warmth of the summer evening. It was the escape that really made Penny happy. Here there was no technology, no stresses, she could be alone and herself.

The horse ran on, the short grass and soft soil making it easier for her. Penny thought she was enjoying the run too. The weather had been far too hot later for such activities and the mare wasn’t one to be fenced up for days. They could be free together in the wilderness.

Crossing #WritePhoto

Something from my childhood came back into my mind as I walked across the stone foot bridge; ‘don’t trip or the witch will get you!’ I paused, hearing a memory of girls laughing. What was that about?

I shook it off and looked over the side of the bridge. A low, slow river was running under the three stone archways, making nice tinkling and bubbling music. The water was clear, thanks to the bright day and I could see a few weeds and plants caught in the current. There was no rubbish which strangely reminded me I was so far from London.

I breathed in the fragrant countryside air and tried hard to recall that memory. Something about going to school and me hating having my hair tied up in two pigtail plaits. Two girls in bright red dresses throwing stones into the water and shouting at the witch to appear.

It was all too faded to remember correctly. Resting against the cool stone, I let the flow of the water help me drift further into my memories. I had been seven when I had been evacuated from home. There was a war on and it was safe in the countryside then London because of the bombs. I didn’t really understand anything else at the time.

I was extremely lucky as my mother was heavily pregnant and also my brother was only one and half years old, so we got to stay together. The other children, I remember didn’t and they had to say goodbye to their mothers at the train station. Our other stroke of luck was that my father’s sister lived out here and she had agreed to take us in.

It was like going on holiday, mother had said and so it sort of was. Only, I had to go to a new school and make new friends which wasn’t that bad because I was so young. I missed my bedroom and our house though, sadly it got blown up in the Blitz but I didn’t know that until years later.

My cousin! That was the other girl in the red dress and she’d told me that about tripping on the bridge and a witch grabbing you.

I felt sadden I’d forgotten that but it had been so very long ago and Sarah had died a young teenager of scarlet fever. At the time, we had all ready been moved some years, to a large house on the edge of the village and daddy was back from the war and it was all over.

Hadn’t I cried for days when my parents had told me? I had gone to her funeral in red – her favorite color- instead of black like everyone else. I was thirteen or fourteen then. And just like when I was seven and I didn’t full understand the war or why we had to move away, I didn’t understand why Sarah was gone.

We moved back to London after that I think. Dad had secured a job there and we needed to be closer. Auntie came to live with us for awhile but I think the sadness of having no daughter and no husband – killed in France- got to her and she moved away.

Other thoughts tumbled into my mind, unlocked by all of this. It was strange to come back here and remember things I shouldn’t have forgotten. Maybe, it was best that they became forgotten once again though? I felt, that these memories had come back to me and I should do something with them.

‘Grandma!’ a voice called, breaking my thoughts.

I turned and saw my granddaughter, Hattie, running towards me. My daughter and husband following behind.

‘Don’t trip or the witch will get you!’ I said.

That made her stop and glance around, ‘witch? where?’ she questioned.

‘The one that lives under the bridge,’ I explained.

Hattie joined me and tried to look over the wall but she was too small.

‘She likes little girls the best,’ I carried on, not sure if I was making it up or if more was coming back to me, ‘she cooks them in her big pot and eats them with bread!’

Hattie pulled a face and shook her head, ‘I don’t believe you, grandma!’

I swooped down on her, making crackling witch like sounds. Hattie screamed then burst into laughter as I started tickling her and I remembered, a long, long time ago, two girls laughing and tickling each other on this bridge, joking about an old saying.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/07/05/thursday-photo-prompt-crossing-writephoto/ with thanks).