Summer has gone so fast like a whirlwind of sun, heat and fun. For the last few days, it has been feeling autumnal; strong winds, rain, a chill to the air and the nights have been closing in quicker.
For me though, this season is the best and I’m so happy for it to start. Some of my friends are already complaining; it’s colder, it’s darker, I’ve to switch my clothes around! I don’t see the problem though, I can finally wear jumpers and be all cosy!
Then there’s listening to the rain and wind outside whilst the fire is crackling away and I’ve a good book to read and hot chocolate to sip. What more could anyone want? Maybe a cat or dog or another person to snug with…
Well, I’ll get one or the other, maybe even two or all, one day! For now, I’m happy still without the responsibility to a pet or relationship.
It’s starting to rain outside now but it’s that summer drizzle stuff and not the autumn down pour. It’s dark out there too and I can see the neighbour’s garden light on.
The morning sun shone through the hole of the bending tree. The wood cutter looked up, shielding his eyes from the glare. He could see the rays of light exploding against the tree’s trunk. It’s a blessing, he thought, shifting his hand on the handle of his axe as he said his thanks to the sun god and the goddess of nature.
The wood cutter continued his walk into the forest, feeling like today was going to be good. He approached the first tree he planned to cut down in the small clearing. He begin chopping, the sounds of his axe startling birds into the sky and echoing in the other trees.
He was about halfway through the trunk when he heard the crying. He was about to swing again but the noise paused his movement. He listened and realised it was a baby. Lowering his axe, he followed the sound to the other side of the clearing and spotted a wicker basket poking out from under a bush.
Putting his axe down, he pulled the basket it towards himself and and saw in the wrapped in a blanket, a baby boy.
‘I was right!’ the wood cutter cried, ‘today is a blessed day.’
In fields full of flowers we would spend our summers; playing, talking, reading, kissing. Standing at the edge now, I could see her still, running in a flowing white summer dress, the hem brushing the steams of the flowers as her hands trailed across their petals. She was laughing and looking back at me as I chased her.
A soft rain began to fall, darkening my clothes. I ducked under an oak we had used as shelter many times. If I pretended for a few moments, she was on the other side of the trunk, counting as we played hide and seek.
The rain came down harder, dripping through the leaves above. A rumble of thunder echoed across the fields. I shivered and wondered, why had I come back here? Had I really thought she would be here waiting for me? Lightening lit up the grey sky. The hairs on my arms stood up, it was unsafe to stay here.
I began running back to the village, the rain soaking me and the thunder clapping. I was crying, my chest hurt, I felt crushed with wanting what I could no longer have. She was gone forever and she would never run through those fields again.
Children’s laughter followed as she walked through the woods. The smile on her face grew and she spread both her arms out so that her fingers could brush the moss covered tree trunks and tall bushes.
Summer hung heavy in the air, carrying the heady scent of flowers, enough to drown upon. The low river tumbled passed, eager to get to the seaside. Bees buzzed, birds tweeted, squirrels scampered and the children played.
She felt at peace here. It was far from the busy city and her home, quiet of people but loud of nature. She could be anything she wanted amongst the trees with no one to judge her; a princess or a child again and not the gnarled old maid.
The children were calling, telling her to come back and see what they had found. She hadn’t gone far, not being able to walk well now. She totted back, wondering if they would show her shiny fish or wiggly worms? She reached the pebbly river bank where she had left them but it was empty.
She shut her eyes then opened them again. The ceiling of the hospital glowed white above her. Sirens wailed in the distance and the hush of nurses’ shoes crept along the nighttime corridors.
It had all started out like this; singing on the city streets at the weekend. He had a simple guitar to strum along with, a microphone, an electric box and a head full of songs. No matter how he was feeling, he would get up in the morning, head in and find a good spot. He would lay his guitar case before him, sprinkle in a handful of change and hope that he would make something.
The crowds would come and go like the tide, he would sing and play, letting the notes carry. People would gather to watch him, pausing in their hurried shopping, surprised by his voice. When he was done, clapping and coins would rain down. He would be bow, feeling accomplished then strike up another song.
And that’s how it was for years, just playing on the streets and getting what money he could. Then he saw recordings of himself on Youtube from people who’d been in the crowds and an idea formed in his head. He switched things up, made a channel, recorded and posted his songs on the internet. His world just exploded and his steps into fame and the music career he always wanted began.
It was too hot to walk on the tops today, but Judy had to get away. Out here, with the heathers, few trees and mother nature all round, she could escape. She didn’t have to put on the brave face anymore. Didn’t have to laugh along with her co-workers jokes or agree with their complaints. Didn’t have to pretend that everything was normal when her world had crashed.
Judy walked over to the big standing stone which seemed to stand proud against the aqua blue sky. It was the hottest day of the year and Judy was really feeling it. She had dress in shorts, a vest top and trainers. In her rucksack was two bottles of water, some snacks, her mobile phone and purse.
Reaching the stone, she sheltered in the shade it offered. Sitting down, she had some water then soaked up everything around her. The birds and crickets where singing, a lazy warm breeze was drifting around the heather and there was nothing else.
The tears were unexpected but she let them fall. It seemed there was nowhere she couldn’t escape the course of things. Her brother was gone and there was nothing she could do about it.
He had tried everything; morning jogs, early nights, watching people, re-planning. Nothing worked, the muse had left. He lent on the desk, hands gripping his hair, feeling frustrated.
His laptop was waiting for his next words and if he was to scroll back, he would see the result of all his hard work. It wasn’t enough, he hadn’t finished the novel and now he was on his last idea to break the writer’s block.
He picked up a pen and began writing on his notepad. At first, came a flow of his thoughts and feelings then ideas appeared followed by something he could at least try and use. He turned back to his laptop and forced himself back into writing.
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.
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?