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?
For the last few months, Yancy had been going around car boots, fairs and similar places. He brought old photographs, postcards and sometimes albums of them if they were cheap enough or he found a picture he liked.
Each morning, he would gather a bunch together and look at them at the desk in his studio. In the afternoon, he would try and draw or paint something inspired by what he had seen.
It was hard going but it was helping to break his block. For months, he’d not been able to bare touching his pencils and paintbrushes but now he was finding it easier each day.
He had yet to move back to canvas though but that would soon come. He tried not to think so much. Best to keep the negative voices down.
That morning, from his pile, Yancy selected a photo of a young child standing in front of a white washed wall. He wondered who the child was and what they were doing. Puling his sketchbook over, he drew the child, ideas turning over his head.
An hour later, he stopped and looked at what he had achieved. He had capture the child’s likeness well. Yancy smiled and decided the time was right, he wanted to paint this on to canvas.
The young boys were still sat on the bench as I jogged around the fountain pond for the third time. I slowed down once more, noticing the lack of an adult with them. In the early morning, there seemed to be only us here.
‘Where’s your mummy?’ I asked them.
They looked up at me shocked. They couldn’t have been older then three and six. The older brother hugged the younger one tightly and shook his head.
‘Your daddy then? Who are you here with?’ I pressed.
The older one shook his head again, the younger boy started crying.
‘Do you know where you live?’ I asked.
Another shake of the head.
I sighed and tossed about what to do. I could jog on and leave them here, get on with my life as if I had never seen them. Or I could do what was right, phone the police and tell them that the boys had been abandoned.
Death looked upon the human remains and thought about life’s endings. It was all those little things that made letting go so hard; the unresolved promises and dreams, the fear of the After, regrets and the pain.
Death didn’t remember any of that. He knew once he might have been human but those memories were faint like a dream you tried hard to hang on to but vanished all the same.
He thought about how complicated humans made themselves out to be with all their; traditions, wars, loves, creativity and historical records but in the end humans were just like every other living thing.
When they were gone, they were gone as simple as that. Death liked the idea. It seemed to him how things should be. Humans crazed about souls and how they were the invisible essence of life which would rise into Heaven. Death knew souls to be a fairytale, a good way to help easy the suffering but really there was just nothing. Nor was there was no After which some humans clung closely too.
And Death was not a ‘ferryman’ or ‘angel’, he was just the end.
The crash of wave and snap of sail sung to Desi as the sun set on another day. She had only a few minutes of watching the ships arriving or leaving the harbour before mother called her back into the inn. She had a good view sat on a little hill above the harbour and now the lamps were being lit too.
Stopping the wind from making noise with her skirts, Desi listened as sails were taken in or let loose. The whipping sounds of ropes and flapping of cloth mixed in with the creaking and slapping sounds of the sea against the ships’ sides made her long to be down there.
Desi shut her eyes and let the rumble voices of the men wash over her. She couldn’t hear what they were saying but she could imagine them repeating instructions, talking about their travels or suggesting which inns to visit this evening.
How she longed to be amongst them, traveling to other lands and escaping her dull life. But it wasn’t to be. Women couldn’t be sailors and many believed it was bad luck for them to even step aboard. Still though, Desi clung to her dream and maybe one day she’d be sailing away from here never to return.
The small river weaved it’s way around the banks and trees just as it always did. The soft, tinkling sounds the water made as it traveled over rocks and fallen branches was the constant background music to the woods.
The wind made itself know; shaking the newly flourishing branches, roughing up the young flowers and grass. The noises echoing, falling and raising again in an almost pattern like way. The wind blew across the surface of the river but it knew better then to mess with the water, for water is more powerful.
Shy animals scampered or fluttered about; birds in bushes, squirrels in trees, butterflies on flowers and rabbits nibbling grass outside their burrows. All could just be glimpsed if in the right place at the right time. They were heard far more then they were seen though.
I, the ancient but still mighty oak which all this around me, adding it to my fountain of knowledge. I towered over all the other trees; giving shelter to the saplings, home to many animals and a king to this patch of woodland. We were protected because man said I was over two hundred years old and must not be cut down.
With man doing their job, I was left alone to do mine.
It was a guilty pleasure of summer; ice cream on the beach. After months of being on a diet to fit perfectly into my bikini. The cold, sweet ice cream hit my tongue and I moaned quietly in pleasure. For a few seconds, I wondered if it was too sweet but then I swallowed and could only think about eating more.
I heard my boyfriend chuckling next to me and I glanced over at him as I went for another mouthful.
‘Diet broken?’ he asked, grinning at me.
All I could do was nod, my tongue sticky with ice cream.
‘I don’t mind you being a bit chubby,’ he added.
Shooting him a disgruntled look, I got back to enjoying my ice cream. There was nothing that could bet this cooling, sugar rush in my mouth. I shut my eyes and enjoyed the feeling in my mouth.
What was it about ice cream that made you feel so happy? And ice cream by the summer sea just made it more special. Maybe it was the sweet memories of childhood holidays? That small treat on a hot day?
Well whatever it was, it was worth breaking any diet for!
Irusu; pretending to be out when someone knocks at your door.
The door bell cut through Trudy’s chopping of carrots. She paused, wondering who that could be. Placing the knife down, she shuffled in her slippers towards the front door. It couldn’t the postman, he’d already been and she hadn’t order anything. Perhaps it was a neighbor?
As best her old body would allow, Trudy crept to the door and looked through the peephole. There were two women standing on the doorstep, they looked just a little younger then Trudy did. They were dressed smartly and held paper booklets in there hands.
Religious people, Trudy thought.
She debated a moment then decided she wasn’t interested and turned away. A rapping knock on the door followed and caused Trudy to glance back.
Did they see me? No, the new door is solid.
Trudy stood still in the hallway. The only window now was the small rectangle one above the door. It was far too tall for anyone to see in or out of.
I’m not in.
Shuffling off again, she pretended not to have heard anything and went back to the carrots.