Robin #TaleWeaver

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It was early morning and still mostly dark. The grass was crisp with frost and the road sparkling. Most people were still in bed but I was making my way to the church. It was the eve before Christmas Eve and many things still needed to be done.

I was dressed not in my normal vicar robes but a heavy coat underneath was a handmade wool cardigan, black shirt with my white colour, grey trousers and soft shoes. Even so, I still felt winter’s chill and I knew once inside it would be even colder.

My house wasn’t that far away but I had to walk up a narrow pathway then enter the back of the graveyard and go across there to the small side door. It was treacherous¬† when icy or snowy but last night hadn’t been cold enough to make it so.

I opened the gate to the graveyard, which I kept well oiled as I hated the loud screeching squeak. The headstones looked strange in the half light, some looked like fallen rocks and others like hunched figures. There were a few pathways that led through and I took the main one up. The grass was kept short, as I liked it and the gravestones well tended even if there was no family member left to do so.

I got the door, unlocked it with a too larger key and stepped inside. The smells of wax and damp stone met me. I stomped my boots and hurried to turn on the lights and the old 1960’s heaters. They should have been replaced long ago but money was needed else were and I don’t think it would matter anyway. Nothing could keep the church warm – too many gaps in the windows, doors and brickwork now.

I got on with my tasks; placing candles about, fixing the wings of an angel that a child had snapped off the other day. Make sure the winter food giving table was’t over full and removing a few things into the boxes underneath. I checked the stacks of prayer books, bibles, song sheets and other papers make sure no mice had gotten to them and they weren’t left too close to the leaking windows.

There were loads of other things but I didn’t made doing them. It give me time to think and enjoy the silence of the church. I sometimes hummed hymens, played a tune on the organ or went though some of the CD music to easily remember their numbers without having to look it up.

My final task before leaving the church was to check to the mice traps. Any little furries in there, I would collect and take the traps outside with me when I left. I didn’t believe like the last vicar and groundskeeper that they should be killed. I caught them alive and set them free in the fields I past by on the way home.

Today, as I did that and watched their little white and brown bodies disappearing into the frosty grass, I saw a robin on the fence post. He seemed to be watching me.

‘Good day,’ I whispered.

He put his head to one side as if wondering why I was speaking to him.

‘Cold out isn’t it? The church might be a bit warmer but don’t get frozen on the window sills!’

He chirped a little and dropped down into the grass.

‘Robins always remind me of Christmas. It’s said one relight a fire in the stable and an ember burnt his chest. Of course, there are lots of other stories,’ I spoke.

The robin fluttered about, looking for food and I wished I’d brought something with me.

‘Next time, little fellow,’ I said and walked back to my warm house and breakfast.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2019/12/19/tale-weaver-254-christmas-tales-19-12/ with thanks).

Christmas Elsewhere #3LineTales

three line tales, week 203

Irene hadn’t wanted to spent a wet Christmas at home, alone and falling asleep during the Queen’s Speech.

She decided to book a holiday and go on an adventure package holiday, she was still fit enough and didn’t feel her old age, though people were referring to her as ‘old lady’ now.

The first day involved getting into a warm sea and swimming with sharks, ‘What a way to spend Christmas!’ Irene uttered as she felt a fin brush her toes.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2019/12/19/three-line-tales-week-203/ with thanks).

Angel #WritePhoto

It was a horrible winter afternoon, close to Christmas eve and the rain was just coming down as if a flood gate had opened. The wind was lashing the rain like the snapping of a whip against the windows and the sky above was a dark stormy grey full of bleakness.

I should have been at work in an noisy office of people’s voices, telephones ringing, keyboards typing and Christmas music playing on the radio. Instead, I had phoned in sick but not for myself for my dog.

Pip had eaten something that disagreed with her and she had spent the night with stomach bug symptoms. Whatever it was, she had gotten rid of but she was exhausted and I was on standby to take her to the vets at any second.

She was old now but still a stocky staffy and she would play with soft toys and gnaw on small chews when the mood took her. Pip preferred the sofa over her bed and liked cuddling up me.

I was wrapping presents and watching Christmas movies, just passing the time. I heard a tapping on the door and thought it must be another delivery man. Getting up, scattering wrapping paper and bows, I went to the door and found someone standing in the hallway.

The figure was white, blurred and shinning at the edges. I thought it was a ghost but then I noticed the white feather wings coming out of the back and the golden halo above the head. There was no doubt this was an angel.

‘Hello?’ I said timidly.

No voice replied but the figure became more solid and I saw it was a man in a flowing white robe that fluttered as if a constant breeze was about him. He had long, curls of golden hair, not a strand of which was out of place. His face was soft and colourless, he had blue eyes, no facial hair, a long roman nose and a wide forehead. No wrinkles touched his white glowing skin and his hands that were by his side liked like a marble statue’s.

‘Please, don’t have come for my dog!’ I cried and rushed back into the living room.

Patch was still dozing on the sofa. I sat down and hugged her, feeling tears sting my eyes. It was the wrong time of year to lose anybody and I didn’t want to let my dog go.

I heard the soft movement of feathers brushing together and though I hadn’t heard anything else, I knew the angel had come into the room. I didn’t look up. I didn’t want too. If I didn’t see then maybe the angel wasn’t there, perhaps he would just go away.

‘I have not come to take anything,’ a soft male voice spoke.

‘Then what?’ I asked, my voice muffled as my face was pressed in the Pip’s short brown fur.

‘Just, I wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas.’

I raised my head and looked over. The angel was standing just inside the doorway, taking up a lot of space. He must have been close to seven feet tall and though his wings were folded and dropped down, they framed his large body like open car doors. The feathers reminded me of a swan’s, though they were bigger and whiter, unreal looking and yet I had the sense they would be soft and his wings more then capable of lifting him in flight.

He seemed uncomfortable in my small house and he wasn’t looking at me but at the Nativity scene on the windowsill. The figures were all pot and hand painted, they were old and looked a bit bashed but I had never replace them. On either side were metal and a glass lanterns, that I had lit with tealight candles.

I didn’t know how to reply to him. I had thought for sure he was here to carry my dog’s soul away.

He looked at the Christmas tree, admired the lights and decorations upon it. He appeared tempted to touch one of the wooden angels but kept his hands still. His head turned and the angel took in my dog and myself for the first time. I was still holding Pip tightly, not fully believing he hadn’t come for her.

Then the angel turned and walked away silently.

‘Wait!’ I cried, ‘that’s it? That’s all you wanted?’

I got up and followed after him. Pip trailed behind me, tail wagging.

The angel turned in the hallway, ‘yes,’ he said.

‘No, message from God? No, you’re going to give born the next Saviour?’

The angel give a slight frown and shook his head. He began to fade, the edges of his robe, wings and body blurred and shone brightly just like before.

‘Just, Merry Christmas?’

‘That is all,’ he spoke.

I looked down at Pip then back to the angel, he was becoming more faded.

‘Well, then, thanks, I guess and to you too.’

He nodded and was gone.

‘That was weird,’ I said aloud.

Pip walked to the door and starting barking to go out.

Still puzzled and not sure if what I had just experienced was real or not, I got ready to take my dog for a walk.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/12/19/thursday-photo-prompt-angel-writephoto/ with thanks).

Red and Green #PhotoChallenge

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The new traffic light was working just fine but the builders were puzzled by the request to place it in in the middle of the plains where antelope grazed and lions watched them from a distance.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2019/12/17/photo-challenge-294/ with thanks).

 

Chill #WritePhoto

The snow froze the ground and lay not as a solid blanket but more patchy and lumpy. The Wastelands were like that, rising and falling, all wild with long grass, spiky bushes and stunted trees.

A small cabin, easily missed, stood nested in between two hills and the cover of trees. Smoke rose from the chimney as the clouds blocked the last rays of sun. The chopping of wood echoed and the whooshing of an axe came from the behind the cabin.

Lance collected the newly sliced logs and juggled them with the axe. He could have left the heavy tool outside but he had lost his last one to the Imps. Going inside, he knocked the snow from his boots and dumped the wood and the axe by the fire.

The two dogs growled at him then settled again on the sofa at the sound of his voice, ‘it’s only me. It’s fine.’

Lance went outside to get the rest of the wood. It was dark now the sun had set and a few flakes of snow fluttered from the heavy clouds above. Lance couldn’t see that far into The Wastelands but he knew the layout as if the map was drawn onto his skin.

Back inside, with the rest of the wood, he put two pieces on the fire then put the other logs into the basket beside. It felt too early to light the lamps but if he didn’t the Imps might try to use the shadows to sneak in.

The lamps went on to the two window sills and on the small table next to the door. Lance touched the holly above the door, the leaves were bright green and the red berries shone in the light. There was also dried sage and other plants that The Hollow Witch said should help to keep the Imps away.

The snow was falling faster now and sticking to the ground. A chilly wind was creaking the cabin and creeping through the gaps to try and freeze the inside up. Night rolled in, claiming The Wastelands in darkness.

Going back to the fire, Lance sit in the only other seat in the cabin, an armchair. One of the dogs thumped his tail, whilst the other didn’t even raise her head. Lance didn’t mind, when the dogs were calm it meant the spirits were away.

‘Let’s hope we have a quiet night,’ Lance uttered, ‘the snow is coming down again and that should help keep things at bay but other things might be seeking warmth and we don’t ever invite anything inside.’

The dog grumbled in agreement and rest his head on the arm of the sofa to watch Lance.

Looking into the fire, Lance fell into wondering why him. He could see things people couldn’t for as long as he could remember. It had drove his parents away and he had been left as an apprentice to a shoe maker. That had only last a year though because he hadn’t been able to stop talking about the little elves who mended shoes in the night.

Lance had tried to be a baker, but couldn’t stop talking to the Spirit Keeper of the Ovens and the bread ended up burning too many times. Next, he had tried to be a blacksmith but the Talker for the Horses had kept telling him he wasn’t doing it right and Lance had kept getting in trouble even though it was the Talker making the mistakes.

He had found not pointing out the spirits was the best thing to do but somehow everyone in the town and the neighbouring ones knew he could see things. That unknown was frighting to simple people so Lance had moved away and tried to be a guard in the King’s City. But the spirits were worse there and Lance found seeing them and hearing them all the time too much.

Seeking out the help of people of magic or others that saw the spirit world had helped. Though it had also lead to him being exploited. As a young man he wasn’t aware of this, just glad to have found he wasn’t alone and someone wanted to help him.

As time went on and Lance become more awake to things, he realised that some of those magic people couldn’t see like he could and were using him to trick people into spending money and sometimes getting their houses robbed.

Lance had come all the way out here, to The Wastelands were people didn’t live. He had wanted to be away from everything and not bothered by spirits. He had built his cabin and made a living for himself as a carpenter. He carved bowls, cups, spoons, buckets, children toys and other useful items which he sold anywhere he could do.

The money he used for food and to pay for The Hollow Witch’s services. Lance was grateful to have discovered her. She had come to his cabin one night, seeking shelter and warmth from a snowstorm.

Lance had been unsure at first then The Hollow Witch had told him she could see that he was being hounded by a group of Imps and in return for a night or two of shelter, she would get rid of them for him.

Agreeing, Lance had let her in and once she was warm, The Hollow Witch had cast spells about and got out some sage to banish the Imps.

‘I’m the Hollow Witch because I live in a tree hollow down in the valley on the edge of The Wastelands,’ she had told him, ‘I can help you with your other spirit problems too. But I can’t take away your Sight, only help keep things at bay.’

‘Do you know anyone who can take the Sight away?’ Lance had asked her as the wind had whipped the snow outside and the fire had crackled away.

‘No one can take away your gift or your curse if that’s what you call it. It is your’s alone. You can use it as I have, to aid people and yourself or you can try and ignore it. But some spirits won’t like that,’ The Hollow Witch spoke.

‘The imps?’ Lance had pondered.

‘Yes. They will stop at nothing till they have your attention. They will steal from you, pinch and bite you, laugh and scream in your ears. Anything that makes you speak of them. Then they will continue because that is what they do. They plague us, trick us and led us to danger.’

Lance nodded and had fallen silent. He had felt coming out here would help him escape but it seemed he had been wrong.

Coming back to the present, Lance heard the growling of the dogs. He watched them get off the sofa and go to the door. They stood with ears and tails up, fur raised, growling deeply.

Lance followed them and tried to look out the window but it was too dark. He pressed the side of his face to the door and listened. He could hear laughter like a child but he knew it wasn’t.

He stood back and repeated what The Hollow Witch had told him to, ‘you are not welcome here. Go away. Don’t do anything to this place nor myself or my dogs. Stay away. I banish you from this space. Return to where you come from. BE GONE!’

Taking a few deep breaths, Lance pressed his ear to the door again and heard the wind blowing the snow.

The Imps were gone now but he knew they would be back soon enough.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/12/12/thursday-photo-prompt-chill-writephoto/ with thanks).

Winter Trip #FFftPP

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The snow had been falling for the last week, it came as no surprise to Joy. She was a winter baby, born on Christmas day. As a child she had hated that, at first double presents had been great but then she had had to wait a whole year to get more whilst it felt like her friends got two separate days of presents.

An adult now, she didn’t mind because if she wanted something she could just buy it and actually when people asked what she wanted she struggled to say. This year though, she had been clear on what gifts should be under her tree and that included the reason for her drive out today.

It was a long one, an almost six hours round trip but God it was going to be so worth it. Joy caught herself smiling in the car’s rear view mirror, she couldn’t contain her excitement. Glancing down into the passenger seat, her smile just grew even though it felt like this was a dream.

The golden retriever puppy was curled up a sleep in the basket Joy had brought with her. For as long as she could remember, Joy had wanted a dog and now her Christmas wish had come true.

 

(Inspired by; https://flashfictionforthepracticalpractitioner.wordpress.com/2019/12/11/flash-fiction-for-the-purposeful-practitioner-50/ with thanks).

Non-fiction Announcement Hugh’s Charity Appeal

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I found this on one of my fellow blogger’s pages and I wanted to share it on here. All you have to do is go to Hugh’s blog and leave a link to your own blog and then Huge will donate a ¬£1 to Battersea dogs and cats home for each link!

The 2019 Christmas Charity Appeal – Help Me Raise ¬£250 For Battersea Dogs & Cats Home By Leaving Me Links To Your Blogs and Books

Pictured above is my current dog Patch who came to live with us when her owner, my uncle, passed away a few years ago.

My first dog though, Sandy, pictured below, came from Manchester dog’s home. She passed away years ago now but I’ve not forgotten her and do miss her sometimes. It felt get to rescue Sandy and give her a great home for the rest of her life.

There’s so many animals in need of care and new homes right now and it would be great to help as many as them as possible.

Saying that though, Christmas isn’t the best time of year to get a new pet, so think carefully if adoption is on your mind.

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(Photos both my own).

Stormy Day

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I could feel the damp coldness on the window and hear the gale force wind driving the rain. Sighing, I pressed my fevered forehead to the glass. I had wanted to go out today, get some fresh air and pick up a few things. Instead, an open window and rummage through the kitchen cupboards would have to do.

Something warm and furry brushed my fingers then a cool wet tongue licked my hand. My guide dog, Hope, had come to my side. I could hear her tail wagging as I reached out and stroked her head and ears.

‘Looks like another day inside for me,’ I said, ‘though Bob should be around soon to take you out.’

Bob was my next door neighbour, he had a guide dog also and another Labrador. He was only blind in one eye but did have some blurred vision in his left. He liked walks and use to do a lot of hiking.

With having the flu, I had asked him to take Hope out for me. She enjoyed being with the other dogs and having some down time from her job of guiding me places.

I crossed the living room and Hope followed at my side.

‘Alexa,’ I called to the device, ‘what’s the weather like today?’

‘Currently it’s forty degrees, heavy rain, strong winds and cloudy. Tonight, there will be more rain.’

‘Alexa, what’s the weather like tomorrow?’

‘Tomorrow it will be forty-three degrees, scattered showers and heavy clouds.’

‘Thanks. I’ll try and go out tomorrow.’

There was a knocking on the door. Hope barked and guided me over, though I knew well enough were my front door was.

‘Kat, it’s Bob,’ he called through the door.

I unlocked things and let him in.

‘Hi,’ I said, ‘is the weather as bad as it seems?’

‘Yes,’ Bob replied, ‘I’m in my waterproofs and wellies. Hello Hope. How’s the flu doing?’

‘Bit better. I wanted to go shopping but might be best if I don’t.’

‘Oh? I can go and get you somethings. I climbed mountains so this weather doesn’t bother me!’ Bob replied and laughed.

‘No, it’s okay. I’ll try later,’ I answered.

‘Well, if you can’t, I really don’t mind.’

‘I know but it’s fine honest. Here’s Hope’s lead. Have fun, girl.’

We said goodbye and I went back into my apartment and to the window again. I opened the window and felt the almost freezing air on my face and arms. The wind was strong and water droplets hit my face.

I was glad Bob was heading outside instead of me, it sure felt horrible out there today.

 

 

 

An Eagle for Christmas #CCC

Dear Santa,

This Christmas I would like an eagle. I know it’s not the normal pet to ask for, but eagles are cool and it would be great at scaring and protecting me from bullies.

I know a dog could also do this but some are too cute and easy tricked by food. I did think about asking for a lion or a hippo but they are too heavy to carry in your sled. Whilst an eagle can fly alongside you.

I will leave an extra cookie for you and a dead mouse for the eagle.

Thank you, Kate.

 

(Inspired by; https://crispinakemp.com/2019/12/04/crimsons-creative-challenge-56/ with thanks).

Office Space

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It was the most unusual place to write but Barry loved the abandoned office. He could sit, type on his Sci-Fi dystopia novel only disturbed by the cooing of pigeons.