Fallen #Writephoto

Alice knew she looked a mess but in that moment she didn’t care. Pressing her back into the rock she was resting against, Alice cried harder into her hands. The ferns and trees muffled her sobbing and protected her from curious eyes. Letting it all out, she wondered how things had gotten this bad.

Taking deep, shaky breaths, she wiped her face then rubbed her hands dry. She sniffed loudly and dug around her little blue handbag for a tissue. Blowing her nose a few times, she crumpled the tissue up and dumped it back into her bag.

Looking around, she admired the view of forest, letting nature distract from her depressive thoughts. The dark green ferns were growing in wild clumps, reminding her of dinosaur movies and the large trees were letting dappled spring sunlight in. The rock she was resting on felt cold and rough. She reached out and touched the rock’s companion who was just as cold. Millions of years old rocks seemed beyond belief but here they were and so was Alice.

The sharp barking of a dog drew her attention. She looked quickly around but the forest was too dense. Something broke through the trees and Alice saw a massive grey dog coming towards her. She tried to move but her back hit the rock hard and she cried out. Alice stumbled away, hand trying to rub her back and at the same time trying to keep her balance. She failed and fell sideways into the ferns.

Crying out even more, Alice struggled to get back to her feet. The giant of a dog appeared above the waving ferns and peered down at her. Alice stopped moving and held her breath. The dog was sniffing with a big black nose and paws the size of tea sauces were stomping down the ferns in attempted to get to her.

A scream ripped out of her before she even meant it. The dog stopped, stared in panic and backed off quickly. Alice gasped for breath and pressed a hand to her chest. Pushing herself up, she saw the dog standing some distant away but still watching her.

‘Duke! Duke!’ a man’s voice shouted from the other side of the trees.

The dog turned towards the voice, tail swaying.

‘Go away,’ Alice hissed through clenched teeth.

The dog give a single bark and sat down, sad looking eyes studying Alice.

Staying still and hoping the ferns hid her from sight, Alice watched a man dressed for hiking enter the clearing. He approached the dog, fussing over him. Alice saw the dog was so tall that he came to the height of the man’s hips and the man just had to reach his hand out to pat the dog’s large head.

A fern branch snapped and Alice’s eyes shot to the man’s.

‘Oh my god,’ he half shouted as he rushed over to her, ‘are you okay? What happened? Did Duke scare you? Was that your scream I heard? I’m so sorry,’ he gushed, his words tumbling together so that Alice struggled to understand them.

The man pulled her up and out of the ferns before she could reply. Alice felt her cheeks getting hot and avoiding his eyes, she dusted herself off. She knew how odd she must look to him. He was dressed to be out here in boots, water proof pants, t-shirt, fleece jacket and rucksack. In stark contrast, she was dressed in a business suit; black blazer, white blouse, black pencil skirt, black tights and black flat shoes.

‘He wouldn’t have hurt you, honest,’ the man was babbling, ‘He’s a big baby. Scared of his own shadow. Typical, great dane. I’m so sorry. Are you hurt?’

‘No,’ Alice forced out.

She looked up at the man and had to fight down even more shock. He was ruggedly handsome with longish sandy colored hair, a matching stubble beard, a nicely angled jaw and cheeks, he had shimming blue eyes and soft kissable lips. Was he a fallen angel? Alice had forgotten how to breath.

‘Then…then is there anything I can do?’ the man asked.

Alice had the impression he was taking her in for the first time and wondering why she was out in office clothes with a tear stained face and her mud colored hair tumbling about like she’d been hit by a hurricane.

‘Would you like some tea?’ he asked.

Alice puzzled, ‘tea?’

The man took his rucksack off, dug around and came out with a thermos. He unscrewing the lids before pouring hot tea into the cup and giving it to Alice. She accepted it gratefully and warmed her hands on the hot metal whilst watching the steam floating upwards.

The great dane yawed loudly as if with bored of this whole ‘saving the damsel in distress’ scene. He laid down, sprawling in the grass and shade of the ferns, looking as harmless as the rocks next to them.

‘Thanks,’ Alice began, ‘I’m not too keen on dogs and he’s so big, he startled me. I’m Alice by the way.’

The man nodded, I’m Kipp. He’s Duke,’ he said pointing at the dog who give a single wag of his tail.

Alice smiled into the tea and took a sip. It tasted sweet and milky, just the way she liked it.

‘So, how did you get out here, if you don’t mind me asking?’ Kipp questioned.

‘I had to get away,’ Alice sighed, ‘my job interview went disastrously wrong. I was so upset and embarrassed, I decided to have a walk.’

‘Surely, it couldn’t have been that bad?’ Kipp asked.

Alice sipped more tea and shook her head, ‘I was so nervous that I tripped through the front door then I couldn’t remember the interviewer’s name. I got all my answers mixed up and I knocked over a glass of water and she got covered in it. When I tried to help her clean up, I hit my head on the desk and fainted.’

‘That’s not good,’ Kipp said, there was a hint of laughter in his voice.

Alice looked up, she had been staring at Duke whilst she spoke, scared of what Kipp’s reaction to her story might be. She saw though that he was trying very hard not to laugh and keep fixed a serious expression his face. He looked so cute and funny that Alice couldn’t help but giggle.

Kipp relaxed, a large grin spreading across his face, ‘I guessing you didn’t get the job then?’

‘I don’t know…she said she’s call me but I’m guessing not,’ Alice replied.

‘Well, you know what to do next time now.’

Nodding, Alice drank the tea. It was making her feel better and so was talking to Kipp. Though, she would have preferred him not to have seen her in this state. He probably has a girlfriend, she thought then scowled herself, this was not the time to be thinking of romance.

Kipp rubbed the back of his neck, cast a long look at Duke then turned to her.

‘Getting a job is hard,’ he said, ‘but you’ll get there.’

‘It sure doesn’t feel like it. I’m no good at interviews, I get so nervous!’ Alice replied.

‘It’s all about practice,’ Kipp explained.

Alice finished the tea and handed back the cup, ‘thanks, I really needed that,’ she said.

Kipp took it from her with a heartbreaking smile, ‘it sure looked like you did. Happy to help.’

He fixed the cup back on the thermos and placed it in his rucksack. Swinging his bag back on, he looked around casually, giving the impression he wanted to leave. Duke on the other hand, seemed to have fallen asleep.

‘How old is he?’ Alice asked.

She knew she was clutching at anything she could just to stop Kipp leaving.

‘About five years old,’ Kipp responded with a slight shrug, ‘he’s super lazy. A trait of the breed. He’d sleep all day if you left him be.’

Alice hurried to think of another question but her mind had gone blank.

‘Anyway,’ Kipp said, pulling the straps of his bag up, ‘it was nice to meet you. Good luck with the job hunt.’

‘Thanks,’ Alice mumbled.

Kipp whistled then called for Duke.

The great dane raised just his head and looked grumpily over. Then slowly he got up on his long legs and ambled over.

Kipp patted Duke’s head and they turned to go.

Say something! Alice screamed at herself.

‘I should repay you,’ Alice gushed.

Kipp looked over his shoulder, ‘it’s fine.’

‘No wait,’ Alice cried, fumbling for her phone in her handbag, ‘let me give you my number and I’ll buy you dinner,’ she added without even thinking about it.

A confused expression clouded Kipp’s face, ‘no,’ he said and came back over to her.

‘But…I….I…’ Alice trailed, words failing her.

‘I should buy you dinner,’ Kipp stated.

Alice opened her mouth then closed it. What had he just said? Words tumbled around her head, she tried to make them say something but it was too hard.

‘If you want that is,’ Kipp added, ‘I’m liking the wild forest woman look you’re rocking there.’

Alice reached up to her hair, where his finger was pointing and pulled out a piece of fern.

‘Oh…I…’ she mumbled and tossing the fern away, began tugging at her hair in search of more.

‘It sounds like you’ve had a bad day,’ Kipp went on, ‘and I wouldn’t be much of a gentleman if I didn’t try to make it better. So?’

Alice stopped panicking and dropped her hands from her hair.

‘Yes,’ she breathed, ‘that would be nice.’

Kipped held out his hand and shyly, Alice took it.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/05/10/thursday-photo-prompt-fallen-writephoto/ with thanks).

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Mud #FridayFictioneers

I stopped and looked across the muddy stream up at the embankment rising above us. There were wooden steps placed into the slope but the bottom few and the little bridge that had once got you there had gone.

‘Are you sure this is the right way, daddy?’ my little girl asked.

‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘I’ll carry you across. Pick up Fluffy.’

She scooped up her little dog then I picked her up and carefully walked through the stream and up to the remaining steps. Setting them down, we carried on, though I was slowly regretting this afternoon walk.

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2018/05/02/4-may-2018/ with thanks).

Groke #atozchallenge (Part 2)

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Groke; to stare at somebody while they’re eating in the hope they’ll share. 

Monday morning found Sutcliff back at his office desk working hard. He had a meeting before lunch which over ran, so he arrived at Park Square later then normal. The area was less busy as most people had all ready gone back to work. Sutcliff was grateful for the extra quiet, that meeting had been intense.

Getting out his lunch box, he opened it and picked up half of a beef and horseradish sandwich. He heard a whining at his feet and looked down. The little brown and white dog was back!

‘Get lost,’ Sutcliff grumbled.

The dog cried as Sutcliff took a bite of the sandwich.

‘Where’s your owner?’ Sutcliff asked.

The dog yowled and pressed a paw to Sutcliff’s shoe.

‘If I give you a bit will you leave me in peace?’

Sutcliff took another bite of the sandwich then give the rest to the dog. The dog ducked under the bench and Sutcliff heard chewing sounds from underneath him. He ate the rest of his lunch in peace then went back to work.

The next day it was raining. Sutcliff sat on the bench under his umbrella and had his lunch. Just as he was wondering where the little dog was, he saw the dog entering the park and trotting over to him. The dog stopped at his feet and looked up pleadingly with sad eyes.

Sutcliff signed, ‘it’s just cheese today,’ he said.

The dog cried and shivered, the rain was dripping off it’s soaked fur.

Sutcliff opened the second half of the sandwich and give the chunk of cheese to the dog. The cheese was gone in seconds then the dog went under the bench. Sutcliff looked down and saw the little dog curled up there, behind his legs, sheltered from the rain. Sutcliff finished his lunch and went back to work.

The rest of the week, the same thing happened at lunchtimes. Sutcliff wasn’t sure how the dog knew what time he’d be at Park Square for but the dog was always waiting to share his sandwiches.

‘It’s meant to snow tomorrow,’ Sutcliff told the dog on Friday.

The dog put it’s head to one side then begged for more food.

Sutcliff had now taken to bring extra ham with him. He give the dog another slice.

‘Where do you live?’ Sutcliff asked then laughed at himself.

He had started holding conversations with the dog as if they had become friends. Sutcliff had also started patting the dog and scratching him – for the dog was male- behind the ears.

‘Anyway, back to work time now,’ Sutcliff spoke.

He gathered his things, said goodbye to the little dog and walked off.

It snowed over night and when Sutcliff woke up, it was still snowing. Standing in front of his apartment window, Sutcliff wondered about the dog. Where was he? Was he warm and safe?

‘It’s a only a dog!’ Sutcliff snapped.

He spent the morning doing chores but the thought of the dog didn’t leave him. It was still snowing in the afternoon and the sky was dark grey. Sutcliff put on his boots, scarf coat, hat and gloves then set out into the city centre. He walked as he would to work then took a short cut to Park Square.

The snow was thick on the ground and covering the tree branches. Sutcliff walked over to the bench, leaving deep footprints behind. He felt like a fool. What was he doing out here looking for a stupid dog? It probably wasn’t a stray after all and belonged to a homeless person or someone who just let the dog roam around.

He looked at the snow covered bench then turned around to go back. From far to the side, in an alleyway of two tall office blocks, Sutcliff thought he heard a bark. He turned his head and saw the little dog scampering through the snow towards him.

‘Dog!’ Sutcliff called and quickly walked over.

The dog rushed at his feet, jumped up and pawed at his lower legs, crying loudly. Sutcliff picked him up and hugged him. The dog felt freezing cold and wet. Without thinking, Sutcliff unzipped his coat and placed the dog inside. The dog snuggled against him and Sutcliff hurried out of Park Square and back home.

Letting himself back into the warmth of his apartment, Sutcliff took the little dog from his coat and placed him on the floor before taking his things off.

‘No messing, no biting or scratching or howling,’ Sutcliff told the dog firmly.

The dog sneezed a few times then began to sniff around.

Sutcliff went to the fridge and took out some slices of ham. The dog bounced over, tail wagging, tongue licking. Sutcliff give the ham over and the dog wolfed it down. From the cupboard, Sutcliff took out a bowl, filled it with water and set it down. The dog drink eagerly.

After showing the dog around his home, Sutcliff made a bed for the dog next to the heater out of some old bedding. The dog settled down and went to sleep, looking happier. Sutcliff sat on the sofa and watched the dog sleeping.

‘We’ll see how it goes,’ he muttered.

Pets were allowed in his apartment, so Sutcliff had no problems keeping the little dog who he decided to call Alfie. Sutcliff also talked to his boss and she let him bring Alfie to work each day which meant they could still enjoy lunch in the park together.

Groke #atozchallenge (Part 1)

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Groke; to stare at somebody while they’re eating in the hope they’ll share. 

Every week day lunchtime, Sutcliff left his desk at his city center office and walked the few minutes to Park Square. No matter the season or the weather, he always had his lunch on a little rickety bench under the only tree in the Square. Whilst he ate a sandwich and apple, he watched life going by.

The first Friday of April was a surprisingly warm and sunny day. Sutcliff left his desk and office feeling cheerful. All his morning tasks had been done and there was hardly anything for him to do this afternoon. He walk his normal route over to Park Square; half way down King’s Way street, across the road and a right turn on to Elmhurst Street. Then another right on to Park Square road, around the corner and down to the iron fenced plot of green land.

Towering office buildings and smaller shops lined either side of the streets. People dressed for work and casual wandered by. Their footsteps and voices mingling with the rumbling traffic on the one way roads. Everyone seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere except for Sutcliff who walk slowly, enjoying the brushed warm air and freedom from his desk.

He reached Park Square and opened the first of three gates on to the tiny park. He stepping onto the compacted sand and yellow gravel path that was shaped like an upside down letter ‘T’. Short, yellow-green grass lay on either side of the path and the small elm tree stood at the back in the middle. Sutcliff walked over and sat down on the bench under the tree.

There was no one else in the tiny park, though a few people walked passed. Sutcliff looked up at the office blocks around him, he could see empty desks through the windows and people moving about. Sutcliff smiled to himself, loving this quiet corner. He slipped off his leather messenger bag and took his lunch box and water bottle.

He opened the box, took out half of a ham salad sandwich and was about to bite into it when a small whine noise made him pause. Frowning, Sutcliff looked down and saw close at his feet a little white and brown patched dog. One of the dog’s ears was up and the other was down, beady black eyes were staring into Sutcliff’s own and white whiskers were twitching as the dog’s wet, black nose sniffed.

Sutcliff closed his mouth, not taking his bite and glanced around. He had seen dogs being walked around here before but there seemed to be no owner in sight. He noticed the dog wasn’t wearing a collar and looked a bit on the thin side. Maybe, it was a stray? Shrugging, Sutcliff ignored the dog and began to eat the sandwich.

The dog started crying. Sutcliff glanced down then about again. There was still no one around. The dog whined louder and moved closer to Sutcliff’s feet, it was clear what the dog wanted.

‘No. Go away,’ Sutcliff said loudly.

The dog backed off little then sit down and kept watch as Sutcliff ate the rest of his lunch. Sometimes, the dog would make little noises and move its head around. Nothing seemed to distracted the dog’s eyes away.

Sutcliff packed his things away, relaxed for a few minutes then got up. He kept his distance from the little dog as he left the park. Closing the gate behind him, Sutcliff looked back and saw the dog sniffing around the bench, looking for scraps.

Sutcliff went back to work and give the dog no more thought.

To Be Continued…

 

Chilly Day #1linerweds

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There was only one spot on the pond not frozen over and all the birds were crowded into it trying to keep it that way.

(Inspired by; https://lindaghill.com/2018/03/28/one-liner-wednesday-chilly-day-for-a-swim/ with thanks).

The F-Word #1LinerWeds

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She said I couldn’t swear around the puppy in case he started to pick up my bad habits.

(Inspired by;https://lindaghill.com/2018/03/21/one-liner-wednesday-the-f-word/ with thanks).

Spawn #TwitteringTales

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It’s strange to think that my fondest memories as a child was going out each spring and collecting frog spawn. It just seemed so natural and innocent. It probably started my career too! I’m now head frog and toad keeper at the zoo.

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2018/03/20/twittering-tale-76-20-march-2017/ with thanks).

Puffins #3LineTales

three line tales week 111: two puffins ; ireland st patrick's day

The sea roared in my ears, the tide was coming back in. I lent out over the edge of the cliff, camera ready to snap whatever was down there. I took a few photos blindly then the puffins flew up into my face, defending their nests and forcing me away.

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2018/03/15/three-line-tales-week-111/ with thanks).

Ahead #Writephoto

Sitting down on a rickety bench, I admired the view from atop the little hill we had climbed.  It was a good enough day for a walk; sunny but not too warm or bright, there was a gently breeze and Spring was busting awake in the air. The countryside rolled out below me, seeming to shake off a grey winter’s blanket to start popping with colour once again.

I breathed in the sweet, flower fragrance air and thought about how much I’d just missed this. I raised my hands and put them up to the breeze, feeling that invisible and freeing force. Lowing them, my coat and long t-shirt sleeves rolled down and I caught sight of the fresh looking, raw scar along my right arm. It went from my wrist to my elbow, were they had to put pins in to help heal the bone right.

I can’t bare to touch it and before the memories had time to build again, I looked out over the countryside. I could see some sheep in the distance like little puffs of clouds, there were a few trees just getting their green leaves back and down in that twist of valley, a river was meandering through like it had been for hundreds of years. Birds were twitting and singing passionately, though I couldn’t see them. There was all this natural blue and green everywhere.

Was this Eden?

A few shaky breaths came out of me then I noticed my arm was shaking. I drew my sleeves back down, hiding the messed up skin. Hugging my arm as a hurt child would, the mantra I had adopted began to repeat in my head; at least I’m still here. Looking down, I saw my knees were pressed hard together. I relaxed them, only to feel dull achy pain in both my legs. The right leg was scared the same as my right arm, from knee to ankle. The left wasn’t that bad because that side hadn’t been trapped by the motorcycle.

A dog’s barking drew my attention away. I raised my head and looked around. The barking was from my Westie, but I couldn’t see that white fluffy ball against the green underbushes. I clung to the bench, as I twisted around looking for him, my fingers curling over the weather-worn wood. Then he appeared trotting down the little pathway with my older Scottie dog tailing him.

‘Hey, where you two been?’ I asked them.

At the sound of my voice, they both raced over and jumped onto the bench. I laughed as they both crowed my lap and licked at me. I felt wet, muddy paws on my jeans and coat, and even wetter noses and tongues against my skin. I hugged them both, breathing in the countryside in their furs.

Two more dogs appeared at my knees; a faithfully golden retriever and grey hound.  I freed a hand and patted them both. I’d missed all these dogs for the last few months and to be out here walking with them now was like a dream. I felt tears of joy coming to my eyes.

From behind me came footsteps and my husband’s voice calling my name, ‘Casey? Are you all right?’

I nodded and wiped my face.

‘I thought you were behind me. I didn’t mean to go off like that! Are you tried?’ he questioned.

‘Not really. I was just looking at the countryside,’ I replied.

My husband sit down and I put my head on to his shoulder. He slipped an arm around me and I put my hand to his chest. I shut my eyes and for a few moments listened to his breathing and the rustle of his coat. He put his other arm around me, hugging me tightly. He smelt better to me then any countryside ever could.

‘I should get you home, you’re shaking,’ he said softly.

I felt more tears in my eyes and nodded into him without saying anything.

I still had along way ahead of me to go but I was going to get there.

 

(Inspire by; https://scvincent.com/2018/03/15/thursday-photo-prompt-ahead-writephoto/ with thanks).

Postcard #43

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Greetings from the airship Harmonious Hope! 

We are currently flying over Peru though expect to land in a few days. So, thought I’d try and get this to you then. It’s rather hot and wet here, even more so when we fly over the jungle! I’ve seen a few ancient Temples though and been able to map them. My work is going well enough.

I miss England terribly! The good tea has all run out and rationing has been in place for a few days now – though sometimes it’s too hot to eat anyway! Hopefully, the new supplies will be adequate.

All my love, George.

Ps. The monkeys are doing better now and are recovered from eating my artist equipment!