Leaf Pile

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Raking leaves should have been my son’s job, just as it was mine as a kid. However, my son is gone and has been for twenty-three years. He had been ten years old, a boy full of life which had been cut short.

I pause in my raking, leaning on the smooth wooden pole as I get my breath back. Looking up at the left front window of my house, I see my wife standing there. She is stroking her short white hair, her mouth moving as she speaks but her eyes are not watching me, they are staring into the distance.

The dementia has her mind in a tight grip of late and some days she doesn’t know who she is. In my heart I know she doesn’t have much longer to live but I can’t let her go. I wave at her and get no response back. She carries on playing with her hair and speaking either to herself or to someone she thinks is there but has long since passed away.

Getting back to work, I pull the dry leaves together into a pile, freeing the grass from the quilt blanket the leaves create. I wouldn’t burn them but put them on the composed heap to be used in planting my show flowers in the spring. Garden is the only thing I have left to enjoy now.

The front door opens and I hear my wife shouting. Her words are garble and it’s hard to pick out what she’s trying to say. She pulls at her hair and dress as she comes down the path.

‘What is it, Olive?’ I call.

She ignores me, trapped in a world of her own.

I go over and leaving the rake against the side of the house. She’s clearly in distress but there is no way she can tell me what’s wrong. It could be she believes she is in a different time and some moment there has triggered the upset.

I talk to her softly, calming her though she seems unaware of me, ‘it’s fine, whatever it is. I can help. You are okay. I’m here.’

I reach for her but she waves my hands away and carries on shouting out what seems to be just random words, ‘not here! Gone! Come back! Where is he? Don’t know what to do! Alex! Alex! Frog in the hallway. Frog, frog, frog! Gone! Gone!’

It’s hard when she gets like this. I want to get her back inside and sat down but she would fight me all the way and last time she pushed me down and I almost broke my arm. I know I’m too old to deal with her now and leaving her care to a specialist would be best. I can’t though. I can’t let her go….

I pick up a stray leaf and press it into her hands.

‘Look Olive, isn’t it pretty? Listen to the sound it makes,’ I say.

She crunches the leaf, tears it up and lets the bits fall from her hand. She stares in fascination.

I give her another and another. She crunches them in her fist and tosses the leaf pieces to the wind. They blow around in the breeze and she watches them go.

I take her hand and led her to the pile of raked up leaves.

‘Where is Alex?’ she asks.

‘At school, my love,’ I reply.

I can’t explain that he’s been dead for years because she won’t understand and though it hurts, it’s easier to lie.

‘School?’ she repeats as she picks up leaves and plays with them, ‘he never comes home. Never. I miss him….When will he come? When, when?’ she cries with desperation.

‘Soon, dear, soon,’ I reply gently, ‘come back inside now. It’s cold out here and you are not wearing a coat.’

I take her arm and guide her away. She starts muttering to herself again, words I can’t catch or understand.

Once inside, I get her in front of the TV, feet up and wrapped in a blanket. Her eyes are distant. She isn’t here, she’s off in the past, some place I might not remember or don’t want to recall.

I stay with her until she is settled enough to be left again. The news is on the TV but she’s not watching it but the sounds of the voices help her to feel not alone.

‘I’m going out again but I’ll be there if you need me. It’s getting dark and I want to finish,’ I say.

She says something which is lost on me.

I get up, go to the front door and on the mat is a crumbled brown leaf. I pick it up and take it outside, feeling a pain my heart that never goes.

Hamper #FFftPP

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I was rushed off my feet in November and early December, it was Christmas present time and I loved it.

Hampers were in my speciality, my business and I didn’t just do food ones, there were all kinds. From baby and child items, to pets to spa days to brides to be, birthdays but there was something magical about my Christmas ones.

Maybe, I wondered packing one of the baskets up, it was the smell of the dry cinnamon sticks, the tang of bottled mulled wine, the scent of the holly and green door wreath and heavenly ginger snap biscuits. Perhaps, it was in the feel of the pair of cosy socks, the fluffy snowman teddy or the wooden angel decoration.

All this and more tucked in the white paper shreds within the wicker box then sealed with red bowed ribbon with two large brass bells tinkling on the ends.

I just could never lay a finger on why but that’s how my Christmas hampers were.

The sight was elegant and exciting, bring forth the urge to untie the ribbon and see what was inside! It was the perfect gift for anybody. Straight from my heart to your’s as my slogan went.

 

(Inspired by; https://flashfictionforthepracticalpractitioner.wordpress.com/2019/11/06/flash-fiction-for-the-purposeful-practitioner-week-45/ with thanks).

Kitchen Sink #FridayFictioneers

I hadn’t been on holiday in years and now getting away for two weeks on honeymoon seemed perfect.

Of course, I had been packing for weeks. Not sure what I’d need in Italy which was a place I had always wanted to visit.

At the airport my husband turned to me and said, ‘looks like you’ve packed everything! Which suitcase is the kitchen sink in?’

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/11/06/8-november-2019/ 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)

Fall #CCC

The leaves were getting their autumn colours and falling. We walked through the woods and I loved the smells drifting in the air; damp soil, rooty plants, wood smoke and…. aftershave?

I turned to my boyfriend. He was a few steps behind, disappointment on his face.

‘Did you just put on aftershave?’ I asked.

He nodded, ‘just a bit. It smell musty in here. Like my nana’s house.’

I crossed my arms and give him an angry face.

‘Sorry, babe. I just don’t like nature as much as you do.’

‘Well, maybe you need a new girlfriend then,’ I snapped and stormed off.

 

(Inspired by; https://crispinakemp.com/2019/09/25/crimsons-creative-challenge-46/ with thanks).

 

 

Get Away #FFftPP

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The Spanish accommodation didn’t look like the photos on the internet but Mel and Alex weren’t bothered. Their apartment was clean, cool and cosy just what they wanted to return to after a day of exploring.

The stone building was old but built to last with flowers and trailing plants everywhere. There was a nice cold swimming pool at the side and a lawn for kids to play on, though thankfully there didn’t seem to be many children here this week. Most would be going back to school now.

Mel and Alex had just wanted to get away for a week and this holiday hadn’t been planned at all. That’s why they weren’t fussy about things, they were just happy to be relaxing and far from busy city life.

Taking deep breaths of warm, flower fragrant air, Mel stood in the doorway feeling so happy. Alex came behind her, all ready for a morning by the pool side. They kissed, pressed their foreheads together and smiled.

‘I’m glad we decided to do this, husband,’ Mel spoke.

‘Me too, wife,’ Alex replied, ‘let’s go swimming.’

Hand in hand, they walked to the pool and swim in the cool shimmering water.

 

(Inspired by; https://flashfictionforthepracticalpractitioner.wordpress.com/2019/08/28/flash-fiction-for-the-purposeful-practitioner-week-39/ with thanks).

Old Stables #CCC

Outbuildings at Hethel

Perhaps once famous horses had lived in the old stable and maybe a maid had fallen in love with a groom there and they had romanced in the hayloft.

I daydream too much but I really wish to know what had happened in the stables throughout their history. All those stories were lost to time and it’s such a shame.

For years, no horses’ hoofs had echoed the whitewashed walls, no boys had run in and out, nature hadn’t been cut back but this was all about to change. I was bring the stables back to life and soon the walls would have stories to tell once again.

 

(Inspired by; https://crimsonprose.wordpress.com/2019/05/22/crimsons-creative-challenge-28/ with thanks).

Cat

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Darla held her breathe, watching the new cat sniffing around her living room. Darla had never had a pet before, being highly allergic to animals but now she took strong antihistamines. For the past few years, she had done lots of research into getting the right cat and had even spent time being around lots of different breeds.

Darla had finally chosen to get a Sphynx, well known for being a hairless cat. Some people say they are ugly but watching the sliver-grey coated and pale green eyed cat, Darla was all ready in love.

She called the cat over with a ch-ch sound and the cat came. Rubbing it’s head against her hand. Darla picked up the cat gingerly and placed it into her lap. The cat looked at her, mewed and rubbed her hand again, wanting more strokes.

‘I thought of a good name for you,’ Darla spoke as she run a hand down the back of the cat, ‘Cleopatra. Cleo for short. Because you are a Sphynx cat and in Egypt they have statues of Sphinxes. They also worshipped cats like Gods. Cleopatra was a female pharaoh and she’s real famous. What do you think?’

Cleo mewed and Darla took that for a yes.

 

 

 

Madagascar #WhatPegmanSaw

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It was the trip of a life time. A world way from what they had always know. The honeymooners, married three days ago and now celebrating. They walked hand in hand, barefoot on the soft sand beach, pointing out that sight or this.

Strange animals filled the air with noise and scampered around as the sea lapped boats and the shore. A warm wind stirred the dry air and rattled the palm trees. Native voices in the distances called as fishermen returned from their morning’s work.

The honeymooners basked in the sun, relaxing. Lost to everyone but each other.

 

(Inspired from; https://whatpegmansaw.com/2019/05/11/what-pegman-saw-madagascar/ with thanks).

Proficient #AtoZChallenge

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Proficient; well advanced in an art, occupation or branch of knowledge. 

It had started in his childhood as a focus for his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and his love for Dungeons And Dragons had been born. Now, in his mid-thirties he was a Dungeon Master and sometimes player at the local board games club but he also travelled to events, conventions and D&D weekends to Master there.

He knew all the rules by heart, could add up the dice rolls faster then anyone and was great at reading out the adventures and describing the battles. He was proficient at the hobby but to him D&D was more then that, it was the way of his life.