In The Light Of The Moon

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I couldn’t sleep, my insomnia was paining me again. I took a lantern and went out to the shore of the lake. Despite the lateness of the hour, a freezing fog was hanging in the air. I let the lapping of the water guide me and felt the wooden planks of the jetty under my boots.

The wood creaked and the water splashed against the poles. There should have been the addition of a rocking boat but last month it had been overcome by heavy rain and sank. I could picture the bones of the boat resting on the bottom of the lake.

The moon was full and low in a cloudless sky. I marvelled at her, not being able to recall seeing another moon see big. Something drew my eyes downwards and at the end of the jetty I saw a figure standing out against the fog.

I frowned, there should have been no one out here. The servants had their own house further back and we were miles from the nearest village.

Before I could address the figure, she turned to me and I saw it was a young woman. She was tall with red flaming hair and wearing a sky blue dress that floated around her. She smiled sadly then turned back to the lake.

I rushed forward, the sense that something was wrong vibrating through me. I reached the end of the jetty and held my lantern high.

There was no one there!

I turned and twisted, looking everywhere. The fog couldn’t have been playing with me for I swear the woman was as real as myself and yet, there was only the lapping of the lake breaking through the night.

Rocking

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I had a dream about a rocking horse burning. I stepped through a door into a nursery and there under the window, where sunlight blazed in was a large white rocking horse. He had a grey mane and tail, grey spots on his side and an open red mouth. He had a leather saddle and reins.

If it wasn’t for the bowed wood his hooves were upon, he might have been mistake for a real horse. As it was he was made of wood and paint; a child’s toy. When he rocked there was a loud creaking sound and the floorboards underneath him squeaked.

I wanted to go over and touch him but then the sun seemed to shine blinding bright and flames sparked up. The rocking horse was vanished under red, orange and yellow fire. The wood crackled, the paint peeled away and the leather blackened.

The urge to save the horse grow but I couldn’t move. The whole nursery became alight and I had to escape but I couldn’t. There was crying and shouting, the fire and smoke blurring the sounds. I didn’t understand that I had gone but I had.

The dream haunted me for nights until I had to figure it out. I couldn’t just be a random thing it was some kind of memory. I looked it up online and found that in the 1874, there had been a girl who died in a nursery fire which had started when the sun shinning too hotly on the back of a rocking horse had caught fire.

How could I have know such a thing?

Yuletide Gnomes

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This year elf on the shelf was out and gnomes were in. I liked them better, they had funny, fluffy beards, no faces just a nose sticking out from under a far too big hat and fat woollen bodies. They looked far cuter to have a round the house.

Until, things started happening. Little things went missing and then reappeared in other places. I heard child like giggling and it wasn’t my own children. I came down one morning and found the dishes all washed and put away!

‘What is going on around here?’ I muttered as I went around the playroom and put away all the farm animals for the third time that week.

‘It’s the gnomes, mum!’ my children cried.

‘The who?’

‘The yuletide gnomes. They keep doing all of this,’ my youngest daughter, Izzy said.

‘They like to play and keep the house clean,’ my oldest son, Ben replied, ‘I looked them up. They protect the house and like to eat porridge with butter on Christmas Eve.’

I laughed, ‘such imaginations you all have!’

‘No,’ my other daughter, Freya shouted, ‘they are real!’

I paused, ‘okay, they are real then….Do they report back to Santa like the elf did last year?’

‘Nope,’ my son replied, ‘they are like Santa and give out presents alongside a Yule goat.’

‘Is that why they keep getting the farm animals out? They need a goat?’ I questioned.

‘Maybe,’ Izzy said.

‘We need to buy a goat!’ Freya cried.

‘Let’s see what we can do then,’ I said.

That night after putting the children to bed and sitting down to watch TV with my husband, I kept looking over at the two Yuletide gnomes. Were they really the cause of things? Well, they weren’t doing any harm and if they wanted a goat and porridge on Christmas Eve then I was happy to join in the fun.

 

(Find out more here; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nisse_(folklore) )

Apple #WritingPrompt

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My favourite apples were those picked straight from the tree covered with water drops from a light autumn shower or droplets from a misty morning.

It seemed like I spent all my autumn days outside harvesting, sorting out the animals and making sure everything was ready for winter. I had lots of help, I was the only girl out of eight children. The joke was my mother had kept trying till she had a girl but I had turned out more boyish then some of my brothers!

I was fourth generation of farmer and it ran strong within me. I had favourite jobs and ones I hated but I still did them all. My best was apple picking. I loved getting the reds and greens off the trees, stacking them in baskets before putting them in the trucks to go to the shops.

There was some comforting about the weight in hand, the smell of the crisp apples under my nose and when I tasted the sweet tang of the fruit nothing could bet it.

One of my brothers joked that it was apple juice that ran in my veins instead of blood. I believed that could be true. Another brother said I had been born from an apple seed mother had swallowed on the advice of grandma. A third claimed they had found me under an apple tree on harvest moon night!

However, I had come into the world my name; Autumn Apple Atkins was fitting and perfect to my ears. Some sniggered at it, others had used it to bully me but to me it was who I was and where I had come from.

My father had promised me the orchard and I could think of no greater thing to inherit then the trees that bear the fruit I love.

 

(Inspired by; https://sarahelizabethmoore.org/2019/11/03/writing-prompt-44/ with thanks).

Balefire #WritePhoto

The child rubbed her eyes as smoke from the fire began to irritate her. In blurred vision, she saw dark shapes moving around the orange-red fire. The figures were dancing slowly in time with the movement of the tips of the flames which sent flickering embers into the night sky.

The child shouldn’t be here. Her parents had told her no and left her with grandma. She had escaped as soon as granny fell sleep in front of the white noise displaying TV. The child had never been out this late but she had come to find out a truth she all ready knew within her heart.

From her hiding spot under a spiky bush, the child heard the rise and fall of voices. At first she couldn’t make out what they saying then she realised it was not English being spoken. It was another language, one from the deep past that belong to ancient peoples.

Lulled by the song and tried, the child fell sleep. She had nightmares, swirls of black and red shadows trying to grip her but she couldn’t escape because the fire blocked her at every turn. Smoke got into her eyes and blinded her, it filled her mouth when she tried to scream. Something grabbed her legs, dragging her into a hole that opened up in the ground.

The child woke and was disoriented. Slowly, she crawled out from the bush and went towards the dying fire. The people were gone now, fading into the night as if they had never been. The sky above was becoming lighter but rain clouds were gathering.

Looking into the last of the flames, the child picked up an un-burnt stick. She knew, somehow what had gone on last night. Touching the stick into the fire, she waited till it began to burn then removed it.

Waving the stick in the air, the child said aloud, ‘I won’t be a dark witch. I will be a white witch.’

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/10/24/thursday-photo-prompt-balefire-writephoto/ with thanks).

Copper #WritePhoto

Autumn leaves stuck to my boots, a drizzle rainfall patted the trees. The sky was a dusky blue-grey-black, night was coming fast. Birds tweeted their last songs and somewhere a woodpecker knocked. 

I didn’t want to be here. I wanted to be home in front of the TV, eating snacks, being normal. My mind wouldn’t let that happen. I was going though so much therapy and techniques it was hard to keep up with it all. None of it was working. 

Being in the forest helped, somewhat. The hour or two of walking in the evenings, no matter the weather, helped to tire me. If not, the all night gym did.

No pills, cognitive therapy or other practises lasted long. The voices and thoughts came still. They whispered for me to do harm to myself and others. They laughed, taunted, demand, said there was no getting rid of them. I was mad.

I should have stayed locked up in the clinic but I wasn’t ill enough; my problems could be controlled. What did the doctors really know? They didn’t have all these demons inside. I didn’t trust myself, no one could, it was only a matter of time until…I did what the voices wanted and killed the next person I saw.

Looking up at the copper coloured leaves, I tried to relax and clear my head but all I could think about was the flow of blood. Red and pooling on the ground, the taste of it in my mouth, the feel of it on my skin.

Footsteps behind me. I turned hoping it was no one but along the path came a man with his dog.

They were my first victims.    

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/10/03/thursday-photo-prompt-copper-writephoto/ with thanks).

 

Brisk

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Autumn’s carpet lay at my feet. The trees above were almost bare having been forced to shed their coats by the strong winds. The sky was grey with rain promising clouds which would add to the water all ready on the ground.

It was the kind of brisked day I liked to go walking through the woods on. The cold reddened my skin, making me feel more alive then the summer’s heat had done. There was also so many different smells to be enjoyed; earth, wood, nut, rot, fire, damp and pine. There was nothing like the scents of autumn!

I could imagine my old dog going crazy through the crisp and crunchy leaves, chasing birds and squirrels. She would also find conkers and acorns to chew up then the biggest sticks to demanded me to throw.

My wife too would have loved this. Autumn was her favourite kind of year and she would cook the most wonderful of foods; stews, soups, hotpots, apple pies, pumpkin pies, fruit pies, ginger biscuits and so much more. She said autumn was her season and you couldn’t beat it.

Alone I now wandered, walking paths once filled with happiness. Autumn makes me both happy and sad, able to forget the hurt and remember more deeply. Out here, I can pretend my wife and dog are just over there, playing in the leaves and laughing amongst the trees.

 

(This story was inspired by the below ASMR sound video)

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).