Shadows #3LineTales

three line tales, week 142: a girl and her puppy at sunset

It plays in my mind still, that afternoon fifty years ago, there was a girl and her dog in the garden playing with a ball under a sunset blood smeared sky.

I wanted to play too but the fence was high and I could only see through a hole, I tried calling out but they ignored me, so I want to the shed, took out a ladder and climb over into her garden.

It was abandoned as was the house, there was no girl, no dog, just the wind in a dead apple tree.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2018/10/18/three-line-tales-week-142/ with thanks).

 

 

 

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Crow Song #FirstLineFriday

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It sounded like birds were being murdered, the noise of their cries was that loud. I opened the blinds on the kitchen window which looked out onto the back garden. There on the lawn were four large crows fighting each other.

I had no idea what to make of it, other then they were fighting over food. It was too late in autumn for them to be mating. I knew nothing of birds though, nor put any food out for them. I was aware my neighbours did though, so perhaps that’s why they were attracted to my garden?

A half reminded, old poem came into my mind; one for sorrow, two for mirth or joy, three for a boy and four for a girl. Wasn’t that how it went? I couldn’t remember, it was something grandma sung. It didn’t matter.

I didn’t like the birds fighting out there and making all that noise. I went to the back door, calling my cat as I did so. He was old and lazy now but the sight of him might spook the birds into flight. I unlocked and opened the door, the cat came slowly towards me.

We stepped out almost together and the birds saw us both. Their horrible calling screeched upwards as if they were unhappy to be disturbed from their argument. One of them took flight, large black wings beating and the others quickly followed.

‘Make sure they don’t come back,’ I told the cat, ‘damn birds.’

I hobbled back inside, my knees aching and my chest heaving. It had been worth the pain to stop that racket. I settled into my arm chair, relaxing into the peace. I shut my eyes and began to drift off, exhausted all ready.

A tap tap on the window, stirred me. I didn’t want to awake but it could be important. The nurse coming to check up on me or my daughter visiting. I opened my eyes, moved my almost ninety year old body and looked towards the front window where the tapping sound was continuing.

A large crow was sat on the window sill outside, tapping it’s sharp beck against the glass.

 

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2018/10/12/first-line-friday-october-11th-2018/ with thanks).

Bone #WritePhoto

The skull was laying in the trodden down wheat field daring me to pick it up. It looked like the remains of a deer or a cow without the horns, I couldn’t really tell because it wasn’t whole and the jaw was missing. The bone was clean, snowy white and looking out of place in this yellow-brown acre.

‘Just walk away,’ I said aloud and turned my back on the skull, ‘but it looks so good and far better then the fake ones you’ve seen. And wouldn’t it make the perfect table center piece for Halloween dinner? No, you don’t know where it’s been, Bryce!’

I walked back the way I had come, brittle stalks crunching under my boots. The wind blew tassels of my flame red hair and rattled the branches of trees. A crow cawed in the distance and the clogging smell of upturned soil blocked the air.

Isn’t that exactly what you’ve been looking for? A voice in the back of mind that was half my own and half not whispered, it’s right there for the taking, a gift from nature. No one else would give it the admiration and respect it deserves. Go back and get it!

I stopped and spoke aloud, ‘No, No! I just can’t!’

Why? the head voice asked, who would know you’d taken it? No one knows its there. If the farmer finds it he’ll crush it with his tractor or just throw it away. Could you bare that? You should rescue it! Keep it safe!

I pressed my lips together, scrunched up my face and turned back around. I wanted the skull to be gone but it was still laying there, a rectangle of stark white in an yellow nest. That’s how I’d seen it to begin with from up on the ridge of the woods. It was hard to be sure what it was from over there but seeing the murder of crows flapping above had made me believe it was a wounded animal. I couldn’t have walked away from that.

A dog barked sharply, jumping me out of my thoughts. I look around, hoping it was in the woods but no, the dog was in the field with me! It was a big, black and brown beast which was bounding towards me! Giving no more thought, I dashed back to the skull, snatched it up, despite the heaviness of it and raced out of the field like an Olympic gold medal runner.

I scrambled over the lowered barbed wire fence, clutching the skull to my chest. I stumbled but got back up and over the ridge into the trees. I ran through the woods, out of them and over a main road before my burning lungs forced me to stop. Looking wildly around, I saw no sign of the dog, only a startled man who looked to be in his fifties, waiting at a bus stop.

‘You all right, love?’ he called.

I nodded, too breathless to speak.

‘What happened? What you got there?’ he asked, pointing towards the skull.

I glanced down at it, my mind racing and said the first thing that came into my mouth, ‘I’m fine. Jogging with weights, new exercise plan.’

Before he could reply, I turned and walked quickly away, my words echoing stupidly round my head.

I made it home with the skull without meeting anyone else. On my doorstep, meowing his head off was one of my black cats. He stopped and watched me as I approached, seemly startled that I was outside and not inside getting ready to open the door for him.

‘Hi, Spooky. Where you been? I just had an adventure!’

He yowled and weaved around my feet. I let us both in and we headed into the kitchen. I placed the skull in the sink, ran the hot tap and washed my hands. Water splashed on the skull, darkening it. I washed it and realised I would to have research how to clean best.

Spooky jumped up on the counter next to the sink and I held the skull towards him. He took a few sniffs, whiskers twitching.

‘What do you think? isn’t this going to be perfect for Halloween?’

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/10/11/thursday-photo-prompt-bone-writephoto/ with thanks).

Rex #WeeklyWritingChallenge

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Ty listened hard to the sound, looking up at the locked door and wondering what was going on in there. The new house was creaking and not just because of the wind, there was something in the attic.

Mum and Dad said it was nothing, just the noises old houses make but Ty was old enough to know what was normal and what was not. The sounds in the attic were defiantly in the not area. It was difficult to make out what the scrapping, scratching and low moaning could be, maybe an animal?

Ty turned and went down the large staircase, he was just high enough at eight years old that his hand could hold onto the too smooth banister. The hall light was on at the bottom but the corridor was still dark. Light was spilling out of the living room door like a welcome sign and focusing on that helped Ty make it all the way there.

His parents were on the sofa watching the TV which for now was balanced on a coffee table. Around the room, were stacked cardboard boxes and mis-match furniture – some from the old house and some from the new. There was a empty fire place in the back wall and the left wall was all windows that were now blocked out by heavy curtains.

‘Mum, Dad,’ Ty called out, ‘I think there’s an animal trapped in the attic!’

His parents turned to him, looking at first disgruntled then confused.

‘What do you mean, Ty?’ his Mum asked.

‘Come and listen to the noises.’

‘That’s just the house,’ Dad explained.

Ty shook his head and held out his hand. He led his Mum upstairs, his Dad following behind. They past their bedroom, the bathroom, TY’s bedroom, turned the bend and came to the front of the steps leading up to the attic. There they stood and listened.

There was nothing at first, just the faint drift of noise from the TV and a car outside. Then came a low moaning like a cat or dog in pain. A tapping of claws? Nails? on a wooden floor, a scratching like a dog wanting to go out and the sliding movement of wood against wood.

‘See,’ TY whispered.

He watched his parents looking at each other.

‘It does sound like something, doesn’t it,’ Dad said.

He walked up the stairs slowly, each step creaking under his weight. He felt around the door frame, disturbing a line of dust which floated down to TY and his mum.

‘What’s he doing?’ TY whispered.

‘Checking for a way to get in,’ m=Mum whispered back.

‘Ah ha!’ Dad said and turned to show them the small key in his hand.

He unlocked the door and turned the handle. A mouth of darkness yawed before them.

Ty crept up the stairs, feeling nerves and excited at the same time. What was going to be there? Something hidden from the past?

The light pinged on and an awful smell filled the air. Ty stopped and put his hand over his mouth, he was going to be sick. He swallowed a few times, saw his Dad was also effected by the stink and carried on climbing to join him.

The attic was a mess; furniture broken, contains of boxes ripped up, things scattered everywhere and some animal had been to the bathroom all over the place it seemed.

‘What an earth?’ Dad muttered.

Then they both saw it coming out from behind the remains of a chair a large dark shadow which was slowly creeping towards them.

TY grab his Dad’s hand, feeling numb with fear as whatever it was came closer.

The shadow came into the edge of the light and they saw it was only a dog. A big, fluffy brown dog which was trailing a lead behind it.

‘What is it?’ Mum called as she came upstairs to join them.

‘A dog!’ Dad cried, ‘the last family must have left him behind!’

‘What a stink and mess!’

The dog hung his head guilty and give a swing of his tail.

‘Poor thing! He’s staved. Who would do such a thing?’ Mum added.

‘Bad people,’ Dad answered then tried to call the dog over, ‘come here boy, we won’t hurt you, come on.’

The dog didn’t move and let out a little moan.

‘Come here dog,’ TY called, ‘you hungry?’

The dog whined and came forward, shaking slightly. Once the dog was close enough, Dad held out his hand which the dog sniffed then Dad took hold of the lead and they all went down into the kitchen.

There it was clear the dog was very hungry and thirsty. He was also friendly enough and grateful to have been saved.

Dad untangled the lead and found the dog was wearing a collar with a tag.

‘His name is Rex,’ Dad announced.

‘Rex,’ Ty repeat and hugged the dog, ‘we’ll take care of you now!’

 

(Inspired by; https://secretkeeper.net/2018/10/08/weekly-writing-challenge-162/ with thanks).

Charm #3LineTales

three line tales, week 139: a yellow snake in a basket

The crowd gathered around the old man as he removed the lid of the basket. He put the small wooden pipe to his lips and played an alluring tune. From the basket, a yellow snake slowly rose upwards swaying in time with the music, seemingly tamed and the crowd marvelled.

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2018/09/27/three-line-tales-week-139/ with thanks).

Red #100WW

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There was a carpet of autumn leaves on the floor of the woods and Jess was loving hiding in them. This was her second autumn and she was fascinated by chasing anything that moved.

I laughed as she raced squirrels to trees and barked at flying birds. I went horse yelling her name repeatedly and she would come bouncing back, splattered with mud.

Jess was having a great time, it seemed a shame to end it. I would have to put her lead on and drag her home, but I didn’t feel like I could when she was so happy.

(Inspired by; https://bikurgurl.com/2018/09/26/100-word-wednesday-week-90 with thanks).

 

 

Swim #FFfTPP

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Butch could swim for hours just like he chased balls, so combined he was in heaven. I enjoyed watching him; his yellow coat flowing across the water, his black eyes and nose pointed towards the ball. When he grabbed the ball, he would turn and come back with no encouragement, knowing his reward would be the ball thrown again.

That was how I would always remember him. Even when the cancer meant he couldn’t walk anymore and everything was a struggle. Saying goodbye to him was the worse day of my life. I didn’t just lose my best friend that morning, I lost myself too.

(Inspired by; https://flashfictionforthepracticalpractitioner.wordpress.com/2018/09/19/flash-fiction-for-the-purposeful-practitioner-2018-week-38/ with thanks).

Left #FirstLineFriday

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Spider silk clung at the doors, over the windows, across everything she had left behind. Sasha stepped up to the door, hand trembling as she put the key into the padlock that barred the way. It took a few tries to unlock then she slipped the padlock off.

Sasha set it aside and shaking even more, she reached out, her fingers clutched the handle. She opened the door, the hinges creaked in warning and all the nightmares came flooding back.

Sasha wanted to close the door and run away from it all again. Instead, she steadied herself, taking in deep breaths before walking inside. There was thick layer of dust covering everything, showing that no one had been here in years.

She walked into a spiderweb, the almost invisible strands hard to brush off. Sasha wiped it from her face, her anxiety almost flooding over. Shutting her eyes, she went to her calm place and told herself she wasn’t going to live in the past anymore. She had come here to end that.

Opening her eyes again, Sasha ignored the ground floor rooms, though the faded sounds came to her. The noise of a loud TV, glass smashing, thudding on wood, shouting. Sasha was a child again, hiding behind the sofa with her younger brother, Sonny. Fear was causing them both to shake and cry. Sonny had wet himself as their mother had screamed in pain and their father’s shouting had echoed through the house.

Sasha stopped on the stairs, the memory freezing her. She glanced to the closed living room door. She could see the room clearly; the sofa and the arm chair, facing a small cracked TV on a plastic stand, a broken coffee table and the old gas fireplace.

She reached a hand out of the staircase railing. Goosebumps raising on her arms. Sasha went upwards, children’s crying in her ears. There was a half opened door at the top then around a bend two more door frames and across the carpet were shards of wooden doors.

Forcing down everything, Sasha went into the first bedroom. Wood crunched under her feet, she peered into the gloom and felt a low gust of air rush past her legs. She glanced down, there was nothing but she was reminded of all the times she and her brother had run to their room. They had hidden wherever they could; under the bed, in the wardrobe. It had made no difference where they hid when father was in a blind rage.

Sasha flicked the light switch, her fingers finding it out of habit. No light came on above. She took her phone out and used it as a torch, the bright beam showed her that nothing had changed since they had left.

The small beds on either side of the room were unmade, things scattered on top of them. The doors to the wardrobe were open, children’s clothes tumbling out. On the floor a few broken toys lay twisted. Sasha slowly searched the room, not sure what she was looking for nor if she would take anything.

She found her brother’s teddy bear, hidden under his pillow as Sonny had liked to hide it. She took that, the worn fur feeling stiff against her hands. Sasha picked through the clothes, seeing some that she remembered her or Sonny wearing; a school uniform, a nightdress, a stained jumper…

She looked through the stuff on the bed; some books, school things, a baby doll and  metal cars. She looked underneath and for a moment was convinced she would see Sonny’s bruised and tear stained face staring back at her. There was nothing but a dead mouse and more spiderwebs.

Standing up, Sasha left, the teddy loose in her hand. She went to her parents’ bedroom which looked like someone had smashed everything up. She guessed her father had done that, perhaps after her and mum had run away. That memory stung sharply it was like a snow storm and she couldn’t see it clearly.

Sasha looked through what she could but there was nothing worth taking here. She poke her head into the bathroom, decided against going in and went downstairs again. She walked through the living room, dinning room and kitchen. She had half been hoping to find photographs but there seemed to be none.

Arriving at the front door again, she didn’t look back as she left again. Sasha closed the door behind her, re-locking the padlock. She put the key and her phone into her pocket then looked down at the teddy bear. It was smaller and dirtier then she reminded. Why had she picked it up?

She turned back to the front door, thinking she would return the teddy to the bedroom. Sonny would cry if it was lost and he would never sleep with it.

‘Sasha? Are you okay?’ a voice called out.

She jumped and turned, feeling like a child once more and someone was going to notice her injuries.

It was only her husband though, standing in between the open car door and the empty gate posts.

Sasha calmed herself and walked over to him. She hugged him without saying anything.

‘You are covered in dust and…webs?’ he questioned as he tried brushing her down.

Sasha stepped back, looking at herself and seeing it was true.

‘What’s that?’ her husband asked, pointing at the bear.

‘It’s Sonny’s. I should take it back, he’ll miss it,’ Sasha said quickly.

‘All right, but let me come with you,’ her husband said.

Sasha bite her lip, wanting to tell him, like she had done when they had arrived that she wanted to go in by herself. This time though, she didn’t think she’d have the strength. Nodding, she took his hand and they went to the front door.

Once upstairs again, Sasha placed the teddy back underneath the pillow.

‘There Sonny,’ she whispered, ‘go back to sleep now.’

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2018/09/14/first-line-friday-september-14th-2018/ with thanks).

Through The Mist #TwitteringTales

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Everything was hushed at 6 am as I hide in the forest, breathe held. Through the misty trees ran the wild horses with their coats of many colours, their hoofs pounding the earth, manes and tails flying in the wind. It was a beautiful sight and well worth the wait.

 

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2018/08/28/twittering-tale-99-28-august-2018/ with thanks.)

 

 

Big Art #100WW

The art competition was under way. Artists had started at first light, sketching their master pieces on the closed road. The crowds had gathered, stopping to stare, talk and point. The judges made the rounds, muttering to themselves.

Jason sat back from his grizzly bear holding a rainbow tuna. He had finished and felt, with a glance at the nearest paintings, that he was in with a good chance of winning. And what a prize! A nice payout, his paintings in the gallery and a boost to his name.

The judges came by and Jason held his breath whilst they decided.

 

(Inspired by; https://bikurgurl.com/2018/08/22/100-word-wednesday-week-85/ with thanks).