Over Crowded #TwitteringTales

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Britney looked around the beach. It seemed everyone in the world was here and the noise was so loud Britney couldn’t hear the sea! Leaving her husband sleeping and the children learning to surfboard, she found an empty cafe on the promenaded.

Finally some quietness! she thought.

 

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2019/07/30/twittering-tales-147-30-july-2019/ with thanks).

 

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River #whatpegmansaw

The sun shone on the murky mud river, heating it up but leaving the depths cool. Ripples caused by fish and the boats crossed the surface. I watched and saw fish jumping.

Sipping my coffee, I lent on the railing of my cousin’s houseboat and wished I could have this life. He had moved to Luxon, South Australia as a child, leaving England behind. Our twin mothers had been close and we had visited each other often.

Now though, I had lost everything and had come here seeking an escape but perhaps, I could stay here and begin again?

 

(Inspired by; https://whatpegmansaw.com/blog/ with thanks).

30 #FlashFictionChallenge

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I was twenty-nine for one day more. Tomorrow, I’d hit the big three-O. My family had planned a surprise party. I had half a mind not to turn up. I’d get on a plane, the next flight to anywhere and have a holiday alone.

But that would upset so many people and all the money and effort everyone had put in. Perhaps, I would enjoy it more then I thought? I don’t know, there is something unwanted about birthdays when you are an adult but it’s an inescapable part of life, so it might as well be enjoyed.

 

 

(Inspired by; https://carrotranch.com/2019/07/25/july-25-flash-fiction-challenge/ with thanks).

 

Beach Day #CCC

The hottest day of the year, everyone crowd to the coast. Beaches full of families all enjoying the English summer.

Voices rose and fell, a constant noise like the sea waves. People cooled off in the sea, napped on the sand or walked the promenade. Dogs were barking as they chases balls and each other. Seagulls called and eyed up the food on offer. Music was playing from the pier; rides of the children and gambling games for the adults.

Under the shelter of the sun umbrella, I watched the scene, marvelling at everything.

 

(Inspired by; https://crimsonprose.wordpress.com/2019/07/24/crimsons-creative-challenge-37/ with thanks).

Creepy #1LinerWeds

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She had walked down this street many times but in the darkness it took on a different feeling. Shadows lingered, creating a creepiness that didn’t leave until dawn.

 

(Inspired by; https://lindaghill.com/2019/07/24/one-liner-wednesday-creepy/ with thanks).

The Last Train #FridayFictioneers

They were closing the old steam railway down. It was too expensive to run things and the volunteers hadn’t been able to save it.

People crowded on the small platform, waiting either to see the train or take a ride for the last time.

It was a shame, a true end of an era moment.

Steam billowed out around the old engine train and the whistle blew. It was time to leave the station for the last time.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/07/24/26-july-2019/ with thanks).

The Eyes – Mokumoku Ren

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Hideo dashed through the lashing rain, his wooden clogs slipping on the dirt track, his back weighed down by his heavy travelling pack. He looked desperately around but he was surrounded by abandoned rice paddy fields and there seemed to be no shelter to be had.

He made for the nearest tree which was only just taller then himself. Hideo shivered and wondered how far it was to the nearest village. Trying hard to convince himself that he wasn’t lost, Hideo fell into prayer.

When he opened his eyes and looked down the road, he saw a gate sticking out of the undergrowth. Smiling and feeling like his prayers had been answered, Hideo walked over, the rain and wind whipping around him. He tugged himself through the half open gate and went up what had once been a path which led him to an abandoned house.

Entering, he called out and listened to his echoing voice. Normally he had would have taken off his clogs and left them at the porch but he had no idea what would be on the floors and thought it might be safer to keep them on for the moment.

The abandoned house’s roof was sound and the all the rooms were dry. Hideo went into the front room and set himself up on the floor. He was tried but he had something to eat and drink before settling down to sleep.

The rain hammered on the roof like a banging drum and the wind howled through ripped screen windows. Normally such a racket would have kept Hideo awake but he was so tried sleep came easily.

Sometime time later, something disturbed his sleep and Hideo woke up, he lay in the dark wondering what it was. Thunder rumbled and he decided the storm must have awakened him. Grateful, he had found this abandoned house, Hideo lay down to sleep again but a creeping feeling of being watched prickled the back of his neck.

Muttering that it was just the storm and tiredness, Hideo tried to rest. The feeling wouldn’t go away and seemed to grow until he was forced to give in and light his lamp.

‘I’m sorry for entering your house!’ Hideo spoke in Japanese, ‘I was only seeking shelter. Please let yourself be known. I mean no harm, I am but an old travelling merchant who became lost in the storm.’

Hideo listened to his words faded but heard no reply. He debated getting up and walking through the house, making peace and saying thank you for the shelter. Something flickered out of the corner of his eye and Hideo turned to see a shoji screen behind him.

Another flicker of movement and a human eye was staring at Hideo.

‘Thank you for letting me stay here,’ Hideo spoke and bowed low.

When he looked up again more eyes had joined the first and they seemed to be forming across the screen.

Hideo swallowed and watched as soon the whole screen was taken over by staring eyes.

‘Mokumoku Ren – haunted shoji screen. The first sign of a haunted house,’ Hideo whispered.

Quickly, Hideo began uttering prayers, blessing and thanks, everything he could think of that might keep the spirits of the abandoned house at bay.

Finally exhausted, he collapsed on the floor and fell into a deep sleep.

Sunlight tickling his face woke Hideo. Startled, he looked around, the memory of the haunting eyes hurried him to leave this place. Gathering his thing, he rushed outside then remembered to be respectful and turned back with a low bow to the abandoned house.

‘Thank you for letting me stay. Please don’t haunt me!’ Hideo called.

Spinning around, he ran down the pathway and back onto the dirt road, praying that no spirits followed him.

Ritual #FirstLineFridays

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They congregated up in the hills, far away from judging eyes. The ground was soft and wet under their bare feet. A warm breeze blew their simple robes about their ankles and wrists. The sky was blocked by a low hanging fog that hugged the hills in a chilly embrace.

They gathered around the huge standing stone who’s jagged edges pierced the sky. Strange symbols and patterns covered the stones surface, darkened by dried blood and faded blue paint.

Around that hill top, smaller standing stones raising up out of the long grass formed a circle Each had a symbol on that had once been painted green. Perhaps they were a warning? Or protection for those inside?

The people took off their robes, felt the chill of the air and fog on their skin. Tattoos covered their bodies, matching the symbols on the standing stones. Everyone joined hands and began singing in a language that was hardly heard today.

Before their voices died away, a wizened old man, bent almost double and leaning on a gnarled old walking stick came forward. He touched the stone and began chanting. Other voices rose and fell around him.

The ritual had begun.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2019/07/19/first-line-friday-july-19th-2019/ with thanks).

 

Clarity #WritePhoto

Tears blurred my vision. I wiped them away hard and told myself to stop crying. It was too hard to, so I shut my eyes and dragged in some deep breathes.

A strong breeze blew, sweeping the salty smell of the sea and also some spray towards me. The marram grass whipped up and began bruising my ankles and legs, almost as if it as trying to stop me.

I hugged the urn hard and carried on walking. My feet sank into dry sand and kicked up as I walked. Before I reached the lapping waves, I slipped my shoes off. Barefooted, I walked into the sea and felt the cold water rising past my knees.

I give up with wiping the tears away and looked around to make sure I was alone. It was passed 5:30 AM and no one was here on the little beach. This place had been my dog, Teddy’s favourite walk. He had loved jumping into the sea and swimming out to catch a ball. He had enjoyed digging holes and been fascinated by crabs and jellyfish on the beach.

There was a feeling a rightness to set him to rest here.

It didn’t have to be done quickly, but I knew I’d changed my mind otherwise. I unscrewed the lid and tipped the urn slowly. Grey ash rushed out and vanished into the waves. I dropped the lid and the urn then dropped down, the sea came up to my shoulders.

Tears and grief swamped me. I couldn’t move, only stay sitting in the sea with the waves splashing against me.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/07/18/thursday-photo-prompt-clarity-writephoto/ with thanks).

Visit #TaleWeaver

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I hadn’t seen my great aunt Sophia in five years because I had been travelling the world and Sophia only had a landline phone. So, I thought it would be nice to go and spend sometime with her. She was my oldest relative and I loved hearing the stories of her life, family members and past friends.

Great aunt Sophia’s cottage hadn’t changed. There were roses, honeysuckle and jasmine growing up the house towards the thatched roof. There were loads of other flowers and plants in the front garden which reminded me of being in a gardening shop. There was actual a sign with faded words on it declaring Plants for sale on the front gate.

I walked up the path and knocked on the door with the iron knocker. How many times had I ran around this cottage, laughing and chasing butterflies? So many of my summers had been spent out here as my parents, who worked difficult, long hour jobs in London had used great aunt Sophia as a nanny.

‘Sophia? It’s me, Hattie! Are you home?’ I called out.

I tried the door and found it locked.

Dumping my heavy hiking bag, suitcase and duffel bag on the doorstep, I walked around the side of the cottage. The back garden was a huge acre lawn with large trees dotted about to give shady patches and at the sides were long flower beds containing all kinds of bright, sweet smelling blooms, wild flowers and small evergreen plants.

There was no path across the lawn, so I walked on the grass down to the bottom, where half hidden by a weeping willow was a large Victorian glass and iron greenhouse. The door was open and I stuck my head inside to call out, ‘great aunt Sophia? It’s Hattie.’

‘Who?’ a soft, old voice spoke.

I entered the greenhouse, heat wrapped around me, catching my breath and making it harder to breath. Long leaf tropical plants brushed my face and arms, making me feel like I had walked through spiderwebs. Narrow bench tables ran down in rows though here and there, a rickety table or a massive plant pot sat.

Slipping through a gap, I saw a white haired and hunched woman in her late eighties, sitting on a old wooden chair, looking around confused. Sophia was so much older then I had last seen her, there were more wrinkles, her skin was too tanned with sunlight, her eyes looked duller, her hair shorter but she was still great aunt Sophia. She was wearing a pale blue summer dress with a white lacy trim.

‘Your only grandniece, Henrietta. Hattie. Hat. We spoke on the phone this morning, auntie Sophia. Remember?’

Sophia stared at me, taking in my boy short brown hair, sun kissed skin, my too thin but muscular body, the torn jean shorts and white crop top I was wearing.

‘Ah! Hat!’ Sophia cried.

She struggled to take off the thick gardening gloves she had on.

‘Here,’ I said and helped her take them off.

‘I was just repotting these baby cacti,’ she replied.

I looked at the tray she had been working on and saw lots of new cacti in tiny brown plastic pots. There was a mix of different kinds; some looked like little tufts of fluff, others was straight and tall, there were round pin cushions, some had different colour ‘buds’ on them.

Behind the tray, more cacti grew and some were quite big having been in the greenhouse for more then forty years. I realised we were standing in cacti corner and the familiarity of it made me feel right at home.

‘You should have seen some of the cacti I saw in America! They were huge!’ I spoke.

‘Is that where you’ve been, Hat?’ Sophia asked.

I nodded, ‘I went to California, Texas, Arizona, Washington D.C, New York and Louisiana.’

‘All of those?’

‘Yes. I’ve been to other counties too. Canada, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand and Italy.’

‘Your parents funded it?’ Sophia asked, knowing it was true.

‘Mostly. I did work in a few places. I taught English.’

Sophia patted my hands, ‘I bet they were glad to get rid of you again.’

I sighed and decided not to get into that argument. It was a part of an old family feud; parents having children and not bring them up themselves; old traditions and rich fathers.

‘It’s too hot in here,’ I said, ‘let’s go in and I’ll make us afternoon tea.’

Sophia agreed and we left the greenhouse for the coolness of the cottage. In the kitchen, I found everything I needed to make a pot of old English tea, sandwiches, and small cakes. I brought everything into the living room which was soft and cosy.

Sophia was dozing in a large armchair and I took the other one. The windows were open and I could hear bees buzzing and smell the flowers outside.

I poured the tea and give Sophia a cup.

‘How are you?’ I asked, ‘have you been trying to go out?

Sophia glanced at the windows, ‘no,’ she replied.

I clutched my saucer and cup, wondering how to carry on this conversation. Great aunt Sophia had agoraphobia. No one knew for how many years she had suffered with it, she had had lots of treatment but nothing worked for long.

Now, it was so easy to blame it on her old age; she struggled walking and standing, she had bouts of confusion and she didn’t have many local family and friends to visit anymore.

‘And why would I want to?’ Sophia picked up, ‘the world is a bad place. I’m safe here and anyway my plants need me.’

I sighed and sipped my tea.

‘You must have seen the badness in your travels. I worried about you. I got all your postcards…’ Sophia trailed off and got up to go to the fireplace where there was a stack of postcards resting against the wall.

‘I saw lots of good and amazing things too. I got photographs to give you,’ I replied, ‘and I’m glad you got my postcards.’

Sophia sit down again, postcards in hand, she shuffled through them, looking at the imagines of all the different places.

‘Do you like them?’ I asked.

‘Yes. Very nice,’ Sophia replied, ‘where are you going to go next?’

‘Nowhere.’

‘You’re staying at home?’

‘I’m going to stay here and look after you,’ I said.

Sophia smiled but said, ‘I don’t need looking after, child!’

You do, I thought, instead I replied, ‘I meant help you out and stuff, like I did before.’

‘Right then. Those cacti still need potting. Off you go!’

I rolled my eyes, grabbed a cake and left the cottage for the greenhouse.

Somethings never change but I was happy to be back again.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2019/07/18/tale-weaver-232-july-18th-visit/ with thanks).