Snow Light

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My car’s windscreen wipes struggled to clear the heavy snowflakes away. I turned them all the way up and that helped somewhat. Everything around me was either white, grey or black like I had entered an old fashioned movie dead of colour.

I clutched the steering wheel tighter and listened to the faint rock music from the CD player. A glance at the Satnav and it didn’t looked like I had moved much. The time of arrival kept going up instead of down and I gritted my teeth.

If it had been anyone else but my dying father, I wouldn’t be out here now driving from my honeymoon in this snowstorm. I rounded a corner and saw in the beam of my headlights two stark trees clawing at the grey sky.

I had to pee and my ankle was cramping.

Pulling over under the trees, I got out but left everything running. The worse thing right now would be the car to breakdown.

I went behind the tree and got up real close as there wasn’t much cover here. I unzipped, aimed and relieved myself. Feeling better, I pressed my head against the tree and took a few deep breaths of frozen air.

Then for a few minutes, I walked about and stretched. The conversation with my mother came back to me as it had been doing on repeat since I had hung up the phone this morning.

‘Christian, your father is really sick. You should come to the hospice.’

‘I know but there’s a snowstorm and I can’t leave Jan up here alone.’

‘Bring her with you.’

‘And have us both stuck in the snow? No. I’ll come.’

‘I think it’s almost time…’ mother sniffed down the phone.

I rolled my eyes, she and father had been saying that for the last three months. It’s why Jan and I had brought the wedding forward but still dad hung on. I didn’t want to leave my wife in our honeymoon cabin in the magical snow covered forest, but there was no other choice.

Feeling the chill sinking through my thick coat, I got back in the car again and drove once more. Still the snowfall. It was like a blanket on the bare land softening the hardness of winter.

There was no other cars on this country road, sensible of everyone but it also meant the road wasn’t gritted and the wheels felt like they were sliding. I took it easy, watching all the time for dangers because there was also the gloom of night looming.

I thought of Jan and how she would be curled up before the fire, reading and waiting for me to call. Had I done the right thing leaving her behind?

‘I don’t mind either way,’ she had said, ‘do you want me there when he passes?’

‘He won’t pass. He’s too stubborn. This is just another false alarm.’

‘But you are still going?’

‘Yes. For mother’s sake more then his. He’s out of it most of the time anyway thanks to the drugs.’

‘Christian, it’s really coming down outside. Will you be okay driving?’ Jan had asked.

‘I’ll take it easy.’

I hugged, kissed her and said, ‘I love you, wife.’

Jan giggled and replied, ‘I love you too, husband.’

Now, I regretted leaving her and I wished I had told my mother no but what if dad was finally going and I wasn’t there when he died? I couldn’t have forgiven myself to that.

The snow became blinding and I had to slow further. I couldn’t stop though and turned my thoughts to how when I reached the main roads and motorway it would be easier. I tried to relax and just concentrate on what was ahead of me though that was only about a few inches.

Was that lights ahead? I frowned and and squinted. It looked like just one light. A motorbike then? But who would be insane enough to drive a motorbike in the middle of nowhere, in a snowstorm?

A creeping feeling raised the hairs on my arms and had the strange urge to pull over. Why? I couldn’t say. I wrestled with myself for a minute then despite not wanting too, the steering wheel was turning and I was bumping off the road into a low ditch.

Confused, I let go of the wheel and sat there, listening to the wind howling and the car engine rumbling. Where was the light I had seen? I waited for something to pass me by but nothing did. Had it been a reflection off something? I had read somewhere that snow could cause something like that.

Shrugging, I went to pull back onto the road but the steering wheel wouldn’t turn.

‘What the hell?’ I uttered aloud.

I turned the wheel this way and that whilst pressing on the pedals but the car didn’t move. The engine revved then fell into it’s comforting rumbling as I stopped trying.

‘I don’t need this! I really, really don’t need this! Come on! God damn it!’

I hit the steering wheel with my palms and threw my head back into the head rest. I shut my eyes and breathed angrily. Thoughts went through my head and I decided to get out and see what the problem was.

Opening the door, I walked around but could see I wasn’t stuck in the mud as I was frozen ground. The ditch also was only slightly lower then the road. I opened the bonnet and looked inside. Everything seemed fine in there.

I got back in the car, snow melting off me. I picked up my phone and saw I had no signal.

‘Typical! Just typical!’ I shouted.

I blared the horn in anger, got out again and slammed the door shut. I walked up and down, blaming my parents, the cancer, the snowstorm, the car, myself until my legs and arms felt frozen stiff.

Getting back in the car, I looked at the Satnav to see if there was any civilisation nearby. Perhaps, there would be a helpful farmer? Or maybe I was close to the village? The Satnav came back empty, just showing the red lined road I was on and nothing close by.

I turned off the car engine. Not sure what else I could do.

Sitting for a few minutes, I watched the snow burying my car and strangely recalled how one summer holiday my dad had let me bury him in sand at the beach. Mum had taken a photo as we had all laughed. Then we had got fish and chips followed by ice cream. Dad had then carried me back to the hotel as I dozed in his arms.

I smiled and began to recall other favourite memories. Finally, I came to one about my first diving lesson and how I had scared my dad as I had almost hit a wall. We had laughed about that long afterwards and he still wouldn’t get in a car with me driving today.

Shaking my head and laughing, I turned the engine on and the car started up. Handbrake down, foot on pedals, gear in and turning the steering wheel, the car obeyed me and pulled back onto the road.

‘What was all that about?’ I cried.

Unsure, I carefully began driving. Everything felt normal and like there had been no problems back there at all. Shrugging, I carried on my journey.

Two hours later, I arrived at the hospice and went to my dad’s room. He was sleep with the blanket pulled up to his chin. My mother was sitting beside him, face hidden in a tissue.

‘I made it,’ I whispered.

Mum looked up her, her face tear stained and eyes red, ‘he’s gone,’ she stuttered and threw her arms around me.

‘When?’ I asked.

She mumbled the time and as I held her I cast my mind back.

He had died at the same time I had seen that light and my car had stopped working.

Stage #FridayFictioneers

It’s always the same; butterflies in the stomach, dryness of tongue and bubbles of excitement. The actors and actresses wait in the wings. The stage hands roam and the orchestra tune their instruments.

The curtain goes up, the stage is light, the players become their characters. A story unfolds like real life; love, lost, mystery, murder and a solved conclusion. The audience absorb everything, caught up in events, forgetting that things are not real.

And afterwards, normality feels surreal and it’s like we are all just characters in a play of life.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2020/02/26/28-february-2020/ with thanks).

Bootlegged

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The alley was getting darker as the sunset. I lent against the wall and watched the streetlamps flickering on. The rain had stopped a few minutes ago, water dripped off the broken guttering and the overfilling bins. I had no idea how long or how much longer I’d have to wait but it was going to be worth it.

I tried to look casual, perhaps acted like I was looking for a lost kitten or something but it was hard to be so normal in a place like this. I hadn’t seen any police or soldiers or anyone else who looked suspicious. The only other sounds were from the cramped houses either side of me; babies crying, children talking, adults shouting and a lone dog barking.

A rattling of the broken wire fence at the back of the alley and the shuffling of feet drew my attention. It could be him or it could be someone else… I cast about and made clicking noises as if I was looking for a lost pet.

A hacking coughing stopped me and I looked up at the small man standing in the shadows. He was wearing a massive coat that covered him from head to floor, a floppy hat that covered the top of his head and give his face more cover. He might also have been wearing a woollen mask but it was hard to tell.

I walked over to him nervously but trying not to show any fear. There was enough light from the streetlamp to aid us and I tried not to stand in front of it. We both looked and listened, giving enough time for anybody watching us to jump out. Everything seemed normal.

Slowly, the small man opened his coat and there was a soft rustling sound. Light flashed across something shinny. He held his arms wide and coat high to reveal the many pockets sew inside which were stuffed full of bootlegged products.

I licked my lips and stepped even closer. Forgetting for a moment that we had to be careful. Someone could still be watching us, waiting for either the handover or the completion.

‘What you got?’ I whispered.

‘Whatever you want,’ the man hushed back, flashing a smile that showed off his golden teeth.

‘Nonpareils?’

‘Left side, down.’

I looked then pulled out a small grey packet. I felt the weight in my hand and decided that was fine. I put it in the secret pocket in my jeans.

‘Belgian Sea?’

‘Right, top.’

I pulled out a small box and looked quickly inside. I nodded and slipped the box into a pocket inside of my coat.

‘Cow Solid?’

‘Right middle. I got dark, white or milk.’

I selected a small paper wrapped bar of milk and eased it down the side of my left boot.

‘How much?’ I uttered.

He named his price and I handed over a few packets of cigarettes, painkillers and ketchup.

Satisfied we both walked away as it started raining again.

 

(This story was inspired by my fiance wondering what it would be like if chocolate was banned. This scene came into my head and I had to write a short story about it!)    

Mermaid #3LineTales

three line tales, week 212: a mermaid sitting on a rock in the ocean during golden hour

Nineve raised her face to the sunset, enjoying the last warmth.

The sea lapped around the rocky out crop she sat upon, calling her back beneath the waves where she belonged.

Nineve looked down at her fishy tail, glittering multi-coloured scales and wondered what it would be like to have legs.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2020/02/20/three-line-tales-week-212/ with thanks).

Still #WritePhoto

I just wanted to be alone and still. I didn’t like the voices in my head. I walked around the edge of the village, following old rights of way across farmland. In my hand, I held a long thick stick. I waved it back and forth like a blind man or a child bored at play.

When the stick hit things, nice sounds of thunking and thudding echoed which broke up the birdsong and faint tractor noises. The rest of the countryside village was quiet as if a sleep spell had been cast over the place. I hated the silence, it allowed the voices to come through more loudly.

Walking by the edge of a large pond, I threw the stick as far as I could. It splashed into the water, sending waves and ripples back towards me. The sound was loud and shocked some birds out of a tree. I watched them wheel away in the dull blue, late winter sky which was strangely warm today.

I sat down under a mossy tree. My back against the rough, cold bark. I could smell the coming spring and around me nature was awaking from her months of sleep. There were buds of green leaves on the tree. Shoots of flowers in the grass and hints of purple, white and yellow colours popping up.

In the field across the pond, sheep were grazing. They were fat with their winter wool and also pregnant with their lambs. I had passed cows and horses on my way here but I liked watching sheep better. They looked like fluffy clouds skimming the grass and I could dream alongside them.

The voices in my head were constantly whispering and they weren’t nice. They made me doubt things, give me anxiety and fear, made me think there was no reason to go on. They took the form of the girls who had bullied me when we were teenagers, tapping into weakness from my past.

Doing things to myself sometimes helped. The voices eased when I give them pain or blood. It was even better after the times I had given into them and given up. I had been saved from myself and for a few days, there had been no voices but then they had returned and continued haunting me.

I looked around and saw I was alone. A stillness had settled over things again. I took off my clothes and folded them in between two tree roots. Naked, I stepped to the edge of the pond. I shivered, goosebumps rose on my skin. My toes brushed the water then my feet were underneath.

Chills wrapped around me, warning me away. I went in further, up to my knees, my hips, my stomach. The pond bed was muddy and the hardness of rocks and branches half buried. I felt the drop and slightly panicked. Starting to swim, I went into the centre of the pond, trying to ignore the sensation of an icy layer across my skin.

I took a deep breath and dived down. The water was semi-clear and I could see weeds and rocks. Was that the stick I had thrown in earlier? There were too many down here to be sure and other things beside. I felt the urge to swim back up, the need for air calling in my brain.

The voices told me not to. They told me stay here and drown.

It was hard though, I had tried once in a bath and the instinct to rise up and breath was too strong to be fought. I twisted about, angling downwards and snatched up some of the weeds. I pulled at them, they were strong. I wrapped them around around my legs and hands, letting them anchor me down.

My lungs burned, I needed to go up but instead I gulped down water.

I looked up and saw the surface of the pond. Up there all was still and soon enough I was too.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2020/02/20/thursday-photo-prompt-still-writephoto/ with thanks).

Cascade #FFftPP

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He liked nature so much he decided living amongst it was his second calling. He became a monk hermit, famed for his curing herb mixtures and blessed water. People travelled from afar to his shelter to exchanged food and tools for his remedies. He never took money and stayed true to God.

 

(Inspired by; https://flashfictionforthepracticalpractitioner.wordpress.com/2020/02/19/flash-fiction-for-the-purposeful-practitioner-2020-week-08/ with thanks).

 

Sand Turtles #WWP

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He did his art on the beach. Moving the sand into shapes from his imagination and memories. He liked fantasy and animal sculptures the best but sometimes he expanded out into food or historic places.

Today, he created two turtles swimming out of a small sand pile. He took a photo, a reminder not to duplicate the piece. Then he left his art behind for people to admire before the sea came to claim the sand back again.

 

https://sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/2020/02/15/weekend-writing-prompt-144-sculpture/

Blown In On The Wind

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Returning from dropping the grandchildren off at school, I sank into my armchair and looked out the window at the storm I had just battled through. The wind was as strong as a car speeding on the motorway and it was driving the heavy rain and hailstones into you like shards of glass.

I turned the TV on, then left some daytime game show sounding in the background. I changed into slippers and a warmer jumper. There was housework to do but it could wait until later.

Sitting down again, I looked at the collection of photos on the mantel and the wall. There were many of my husband who had died six years ago, we had been married for fifty-two years. He had been in the army and though the idea of being an solider’s wife had worried me, I had enjoyed the travelling and many experiences.

There were photos of my only child, my daughter, Victoria and also her husband, Danial. Both had died in a car crash, five years ago. Then there were my grandchildren, ten year old, Beth and seven year old, Alex, smiling brightly in every photo.

I got out my knitting, feeling the need to relax. My joints were aching because of the cold and I couldn’t get warm enough. The joys of old age and having to look after young children once again. I would soon feel some energy back then I could do some chores.

A banging upstairs stilled the clicking of my needles. I looked up at the ceiling, listening as the bang came again. The wind was swinging a door about, that was all.

I got up and climbed the stairs, feeling pain in my hips and knees. At the top, I saw Beth’s door moving and banging against the frame as the wind blew about.

‘She didn’t shut her window probably, that child!’ I uttered.

I went in, closed and locked the offending window. Outside, the wind carried on raging away, leaving the bedroom freezing cold. Turning the heater up, I went to head back downstairs and put the kettle on.

Something white moved out of the corner of my eye and I turned to it. Was it a bird? No..it was something else….The shape seemed to grow and become more solid, yet still see through. The white colour became more cream and I saw the outline of a long dress drifting.

The more I stared the more the ghost took form before me until a young woman was standing before the bed. Her long hair was down to her waist and her face was full of sadness. As she looked around, confusion frowned her face then she went to the window and looked out as if she was lost.

‘Hello? I said gently.

No reply.

‘I can see you, ghost,’ I added.

The woman turned and looked at me slowly.

‘What are you doing here?’

She sighed and softly, almost in a whisper answered, ‘looking for my child.’

‘Are they here?’ I pressed.

‘No,’ she uttered, ‘the strong wind blew me into your house. I am sorry.’

‘It’s okay, pet. Would you like to stay until the weather passes?’ I asked, ‘some company meet be good for you.’

The ghost took a moment to think then nodded. She turned, taking the room in again.

‘This is my granddaughter’s room. Come down into the living room,’ I spoke.

I went back down and the ghost followed me. A cold draft trailed around her and her dress floated on a wind that seemed to be a part of her.

Settling in my chair and picking up my knit, I tried not to watch the ghost hovering around.

‘They have passed,’ she muttered after a few minutes.

I looked up and saw her before the photos, ‘yes, pet,’ I replied, though there wasn’t a need too but it did open a conversation, ‘you lost your child?’

‘At birth. I followed a day later,’ the ghost answered, ‘and I have been searching ever since.’

‘That’s why you are still here,’ I added.

‘Yes,’ agreed the ghost. She give a long moaning sigh and stirred the leaves of a pot plant.

‘Where do you think your child is?’ I questioned over the clicking of my knitting needles.

The ghost was quiet and thoughtful.

‘At your house?’ I pondered after a few minutes.

‘If she was, she is no longer,’ the ghost woman replied, ‘that is why I had to leave. I cannot rest without her.’

I nodded and fell to thinking. Soothed by the sounds of the TV and needles, it was easy for my mind to drift.

‘You know, pet,’ I said, ‘stillborn babies probably go straight to heaven.’

‘Do you think?’ the ghost gasped.

‘Yes. They are innocent and have no reason to stay here. Maybe, that’s what has happened?’

‘Has it?’ whispered the ghost.

‘And perhaps, it’s not the search for your child that keeps you here but the grieve of the loss?’ I concluded.

The ghost let out a low moan.

‘Have you tried to leave?’

‘No. I did not want to,’ the ghost replied.

‘Try and see what happens, pet,’ I responded, gently.

‘Am I scared.’

‘I know but there’s nothing to worry about and your child will be waiting. If not, I shall help you.’

‘You will? Oh! Thank you!’ the ghost cried and she smiled.

‘Now, try to go to Heaven, pet.’

The ghost nodded and after a few moments, she began to fade away.

‘I am going! I am going!’ she shouted, ‘I shall be united with my child.’

‘Yes, dear. Go, go! Find your child and be at peace.’

With a finally smile, the ghost woman vanished.

Her cold spot lingered another minute or two then warmth took over once more.

I lent back in my armchair, knitting abandoned on my lap, looking at where the ghost had stood. Then, I turned to the photographs and said, ‘if I was her, I would have done the same. Mothers and children should always be together.’

Time Blur #FridayFictioneer

Ivan and his friends were repeatedly told not to go near the tumbled down red barn on the edge of Slim’s farm. From a distance, there seemed nothing wrong with the abandoned structure so the teenagers wondered why they had to stay away.

Bored one afternoon, they checked the barn out. Entering, it seemed to be a normal, empty wooden building. So, had some bad secret the villagers wanted to stay hidden happened here?

Messing about, they accidentally triggered something. There was a mighty whooping sound, the barn began to shake then vanished, casting the teenagers into time and space unknown.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2020/02/19/21-february-2020/ with thanks).

Mill #CCC

I didn’t like the mill. There was something odd like it was only pretending to be an old wheat processing place.

There was no point sharing this worry. Nobody believed in my notions. It was best to keep quiet and get on like everyone else. Rumours about the New Law Army taking people away were circling again, so it was best to do nothing.

Whatever the mill was – real or a hide out for spies- I had to let it go. It wasn’t worth investigating and getting taken away for.

Godmon forever watched us and knew all we did.

 

(Inspired by; https://crispinakemp.com/2020/02/19/crimsons-creative-challenge-67/ with thanks).