Lorn (Part 2) #AtoZChallenge

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Lorn; lost, ruined or undone. 

The stairs looked forbidding, so Caleb and Beth climbed up slowly and gingerly. Beth had left the books on the doorstep, ready to collect when they left. Some of the stairs railings looked like they had been gnawed by rodents, making the banister unstable.

They found the rooms in better shape up here. The bathroom, four beds and the en-suit hadn’t been touched by the flood but the vandals and squatters had been here. The bath, toilet and sink had been smashed up; cream porcelain chucks covered a chequered lino floor and water stains dotted the wall like a painting.

The first bedroom – possibly Grandpa’s room was mess of clothes, bedding and bits of furniture. The wooden bed was broken, the remains against the wall. Two double mattress were on the floor, blankets draping over. Someone had patched the broken windows with newspaper and old fabric.

‘Let’s spend time looking for things,’ Beth said.

Not giving voice to his disappointment, Caleb nodded and warned her, ‘look out for glass and needles. Who knows what was going on here.’

‘I’ll be careful,’ Beth answered.

The searched the room and found some coins, empty beer cans, food wrappers and a few photographs. The clothes weren’t worth going through. It seemed the house had really been robbed out.

‘Recognise anyone?’ Beth asked, sharing the photos with Caleb.

He shook his head, ‘no. Maybe they were Grandpa’s but I don’t know.’

‘Do you want them or not?’

‘No,’ Caleb answered and turned away.

He went into the next room which was a smaller bedroom. There were three single beds squished in, clothes heaped on the floor, rubbish in the corners and the smashed window letting all the elements in. On a bedside table, was a pile of used cigarettes, ash scattered about.

Caleb went in, just to check but there was nothing of Grandpa here. He meet Beth in the doorway and they moved on to the next two bedrooms. At some time, they had been children’s rooms going off the old wallpaper which was mostly torn away. Like the first two rooms, people had been sleeping in here but Grandpa had been using them as storage and there were a few boxes to look through, though they weren’t the first to do so.

‘More books,’ Beth said about the first box.

‘Any be saved?’ Caleb called.

‘Possible. Let’s take them. What’s in that one?’

‘A tea set…Some of it anyway. Few bits of smashed. Next one…’ Caleb trailed as he looked through another box, ‘videos.’

‘Same in this one too,’ Beth laughed, ‘and some music tapes….Your Grandpa liked sixties rock and country. Irish ballads?’

‘No idea,’ Caleb spoke, ‘there’s some photo albums here. They look okay and a school year book….Let’s take this box.’

‘Finally one,’ Beth pointed out, she moved over and opened it, ‘things wrapped in news paper…..oh, it’s horse!’

Beth held up a porcelain horse and Caleb crossed the room to look. Removing the rest of the yellowed newspaper, Beth passed him the brown and white horse. Then she picked up another wrapped form and peeled back the newspaper.

‘This one’s a shire horse. Look at the leather stuff, he’s ready to pull a cart!’

‘Do you want them?’ Caleb asked, running a finger over the cold, smooth face of the horse.

‘Sure,’ Beth said.

‘Let’s check theses drawers and wardrobe.’

There was only a few items of clothes, shoes and children’s toys. Caleb pulled a teddy dog out and turned it over in his hands. He didn’t recognise it, so put it back.

In the next room, they found more books and children’s toys. They saved the books and got ready to leave.

‘I forgot about about the attic,’ Caleb said soon after they had brought all the boxes they were taken down to the front door.

‘Where is it?’ Beth asked, looking back up the darkening staircase.

Caleb went back up and stood on the landing. He looked along the ceiling for a few moments the pointed out the almost hairline rim of the attic door, ‘there!’ he said.

‘Can you get up?’ Beth asked.

‘I’ll need a ladder….Maybe a neighbours got one,’ Caleb wondered, he came back downstairs, ‘you load the car and I’ll go and ask around.’

‘Okay…but don’t take too long, it’s getting late.’

They kissed, Caleb give her the car keys then headed out. Beth began moving the boxes and loading them into the back of the car. Soon after she had finished, Caleb appeared with a ladder and a middle aged man in tow. He had a grey, balding head, a rough covering of beard and worry lines on his face. His hands and body showed the lifestyle of a construction worker. He was wearing dirty jeans and an old blue t-shirt.

‘This is, Reggie,’ Caleb said.

‘Hi,’ Beth greeted the man.

‘We’ll go up. Why don’t you wait out here?’

‘No, it’s okay. I might be able to help.’

They went back inside. Reggie helped with the ladder then Caleb lifted the attic door and shone the torch from his phone inside.

‘Oh wow, it’s packed up here!’ Caleb called down, ‘looks untouched too. I guess no one was able to get up here. Okay, I’m going in.’

‘Be careful!’ Beth called.

‘I shall be. Here, let me pass stuff down.’

Together, the three of them emptied the attic. There were cardboard and plastic boxes filled with books, photos, film, bric-a-bric antiques, papers, two landscape oil paintings, old toys, including a collection of metal cars, a small stuff rocking horse that had seen better days, a sixties recorder player and some other things.

‘There were treasures in this house after all,’ Beth cried.

‘Some of this stuff could be worth a bit,’ Reggie stated as he inspected one of the paintings which showed a river going though a forest with a herd of deer coming for a drink.

‘Beth! Look at this!’ Caleb yelled.

‘What is it?’

‘My grandparents wedding stuff! Their clothes and photos. Wow! This is amazing. Here, I’m going to pass it all down.’

Excitedly, Caleb passed Beth and Reggie a huge white box and another that was black. Then a battered cardboard box, over flowing with dusty fake flowers, photo albums and other things.

Beth took the lid off the white box and couldn’t believe her eyes. Folded inside was a lacy white wedding dress from the fifties with a huge veil laying on top.

‘I can’t believe this survived,’ Beth uttered.

‘The old man probably wanted to forgot all about it,’ Reggie cut in, ‘from what I remember, she died young.’

Reggie handed her a loose photo which showed a  veiled bride sitting in the back of a Rolls Royce.

‘What happened?’ Beth asked.

‘Some disease. She was only like in her thirties.’

‘That’s sad.’

Reggie nodded then Caleb yelled there were some more boxes and they got back to work.

The attic was soon empty and Caleb climbed back down, ‘thanks for your help, Reggie.’

‘No probs. Be nice to see this place fixed up and lived in again. Those yobs made a right mess,’ Reggie said.

‘Yeah. The builders are coming tomorrow and hopefully, things will be better,’ Caleb explained.

‘I can’t believe all of this was still up there!’ Beth gasped, she had been looking through some of the boxes, ‘how are we going to fit it all in the car?’

‘I’ll give you a hand,’ Reggie said.

They loaded the car up, just about fitting everything in. They said goodbye to Reggie and watched him taking his ladder back across the road to his house.

Caleb then turned and looked at his Grandpa’s house.

‘You okay?’ Beth asked.

Caleb nodded, ‘just feeling bit tried.’

‘Same. Let’s get back to the apartment, unload all of this and get take out for dinner.’

‘Then tomorrow, we’ll be back to see the start of things.’

‘I’m sure it’s what your Grandpa wanted,’ Beth said and put her hand on Caleb’s shoulder, ‘he wouldn’t have left everything to you otherwise. I’m sure he was proud of you, despite everything. But none of that was your fault.’

‘I know,’ Caleb said quietly, ‘it was my drug addict teenage mum.’

Beth squeezed his shoulder but didn’t say anything else.

Caleb started the car and they drove away into the evening light.

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Lorn (Part 1) #AtoZChallenge

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Lorn; lost, ruined or undone. 

The house was ruined. Caleb stood in the doorway, his hands running over the damp and rotting wood. He tried hard to remember the home his grandpa had once lived in but he had only visited a few times as a baby and toddler. Now, the house was Caleb’s but he didn’t know what to do with it.

‘Is it bad?’ his girlfriend’s voice asked from behind him.

‘Looks it,’ Caleb answered.

Beth poked her head in, her mess of red curly hair tied high in a bun tickling Caleb’s arm as she had ducked underneath him. Her nose wrinkled at the smell, she pulled a disgusted face then smoothed it out into a sad expression.

Caleb moved his arm, bring it over and down to go around her back. He curled his fingers around her side and held Beth for a few moments. He shut his eyes on the scene then felt Beth stroking his flop of black hair and trailing her fingers down to his cheek.

‘We don’t have to go in,’ Beth spoke quietly.

‘I need to. I want to see if anything is left before the builders come,’ Caleb answered, ‘better be careful where we step,’ he added.

Testing the bare floorboards, he stepped carefully inside and keeping close to the wall. He held out his hand and helped Beth across. Together they went into what had been a living room. The damage from the flood and vandals was worse then Caleb could have imagined, even though the lawyer had prepared them for it.

A dirty, water line about four foot up the wall ran around the room, marking the height of the flood. Wallpaper was peeling or had fallen off, plaster clumps lay about and in some parts the red bricks could be seen peering out of holes in the walls. The windows were boarded up, expect for one which was missing glass and allowing light into the miserable room.

Broken pieces of rotting furniture stuck up from the sinking floor like the arms of drowning men asking to be saved. Caleb and Beth’s feet knocked and tripped over wood, fabric bundles, glass and electric wires. Some parts of the floor giving a warning creak, making them change direction to avoid falling through.

‘I wish I could have done something,’ Caleb whispered.

‘There was nothing you could have done,’ Beth said.

Caleb kicked an empty drawer and spotted something underneath. It was a photograph. Badly water damaged but Caleb could see himself as a baby being held by his grandpa. With a flicker of a smile, he turned to show Beth.

‘He looks like you,’ she responded, ‘same crazy hair!’

‘Yeah’ Caleb said with a hint of laughter.

‘Maybe, there’ll be some more baby photos round?’ Beth wonder and she inspected the floor hopefully.

‘I doubt it. Mum didn’t bother taking many and none of the foster people had any contact with Grandpa. My adopted parents did but they would have sent high school photos,’ Caleb explained.

‘Oh,’ Beth uttered.

She stopped looking and wiped her dirty hands on the old pair of jeans she wore. She avoided looking at Caleb, hating to see him upset by the bad memories of his past.

‘Nothing else here,’ Caleb said.

He slipped the photo into his pocket and carried on his walk through.

In the kitchen, everything that wasn’t nailed down was gone. The three remaining cupboards were empty, doors hanging off. A dark flood line ran around the walls and the floor had been dug up, the plastic lino ripped back expose how bad the water had leaked through. The window and back door were boarded up, but someone had kicked it in.

Beth went to the door and swung it back and forth. It let out a squeal as the wooden board scrapped the floor.

‘Probably, squatters,’ Caleb spoke, ‘though why they’d want to stay here is beyond me.’

‘Better then the streets, I guess. Warmer and drier,’ Beth suggested.

‘Maybe, but still.’

Caleb went over and had a look at securing the door whilst Beth stepped into the over grown garden. It was hard to tell how big it was because of the tangle of bushes and plants. Rising above was an apple tree, budding with new leaves in the spring sunshine.

‘This could be nice….Needs a lot of work…’ Beth trailed.

‘Everything needs work,’ Caleb huffed.

‘Leave it. The builders will sort it tomorrow.’

Taking a deep breath, Caleb abandoned the door and walked through an open archway into the dinning room which then led into a second living room. All the wall paper had been torn off and someone had been knocking into the walls. Caleb looked at the exposed pipes as he walked over plaster and window glass.

In the second living room, Caleb went over to a bookcase in the corner. The shelves had been taken out and most of the books because someone had used them to start a small fire with in the middle of the room. There were three books left on the bookcase; Medieval History Uncovered, Knights Of The Middle-Ages and Myths and Legends of Britain. Caleb picked them up and saw they still looked readable, despite a covering of dust.

‘Grandpa liked history,’ Caleb shouted.

‘But you said you didn’t know him,’ Beth said from the connecting archway.

She walked though and joined him, edging around the remains of the black ash from the fire.

Caleb showed her the books, ‘Look okay to keep,’ he added.

‘I don’t mind. It’s good to save books,’ Beth said and she took them from him.

‘They could have burnt the whole place down,’ Caleb pointed out as he moved to inspect the damage in the centre of the room.

He toed a half burnt book and the pages crumpled.

‘This house has survived so much; water and fire, the elements, people,’ Beth voiced, ‘and now you want to save it instead of knocking it down.’

‘The money is there to save it,’ Caleb reminded her, ‘and once it’s done we can live here. Our five years of trying to save for, find and buy a house is over.’

‘And your past?’ Beth asked timidly, looking down at the books.

‘I’ll deal with it,’ Caleb replied.

He moved over and hugged her, resting his chin on top of her head. He could feel Beth shaking slightly and worried she was going to cry, he tightened the hug and kissed her forehead.

‘Don’t worry about me. Think about what you can do with the house.’

Beth nodded, sniffing a little and crushing the books to her breasts.

‘Let’s go upstairs. The flood didn’t get up there, so maybe some stuffed survived.’

 

To Be Continued…

Out Of Luck #3LineTales

three line tales, week 164: a couple on a road trip

Three hours later, the stolen car started having problems, the engine was making strange noises then it died and silence filled the air broken only by Amy’s and Chad’s rushed breathing.

They sort each others hands, clutching fingers tightly as they looked out of the window and saw coming through the dirty snow a number of shambling moving dark figures.

Desperately, they had tried to get away, to survive the threatening plague but luck had run out on them, there was nowhere left to go, so they stayed in the car, holding hands and waiting for the end.

 

(Inspiration by; https://only100words.xyz/2019/03/21/three-line-tales-week-164/ with thanks).

A Sign Of Magic #WritePhoto

The full moon hung in a strange dark blue, smoke cloudy sky. The silvery light fell on a  metal sign in the shape of a large grey, wizard hat, which rose high above a huge hotel.

The sign shimmered letting out a pulse of magical energy which rippled through the air. Everyone who knew even a bit of magic, felt the pulse no matter where they were and they all took off towards the hotel.

Soon, witches on broomsticks with their animal familiars landed in the car park. Wizards arrived in clouds of sparkling dust. Mages, sorcerer/ess, warlocks, enchanters, alchemists, seers, druids and loads of other magical sensing people arrived across the hours in all kinds of ways including; magic carpets, red flames, blue flames, snowstorms and miniature hurricanes.

Everyone gathered in the gigantic underground hall, lit be flickering candles and awaited for the Magic Council to assemble and announce why they had all been summoned.

Finally, one of the High Wizards rose and addressed the gathered, ‘there is a crises,’ he croaked, ‘magic is dying and we must do everything we can to save it.’

A murmur went around the room then a young witch’s voice rose, ‘then let us all work together to fix it.’

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/03/14/thursday-photo-prompt-sign-writephoto/ with thanks).

 

 

 

 

Vanished

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The teenage sisters walked through the acre of woodland opposite their house on their way to school like they did every week day.

Today though, they never made it.

The sisters vanished without a trace and nobody could find out what had happened to them.

 

(Prompt from; https://promptuarium.wordpress.com/2019/03/09/missing-sisters/ with thanks).

Planter #FridayFictioneers

Once children had loved playing on the miniature piano but then it had been abandoned and the stories all lost.

I didn’t have the heart to throw the piano in the skip and send it to landfill with the rest of the rebuilding waste. I set it to one side whilst I thought what to do with it.

The months passed and from the soil on top of the piano plants began growing and that sparked the long awaited idea of how to save the instrument.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/03/13/15-march-2019/ with thanks).

Outwitted #TwitteringTales

The detective stood on the empty platform, casually smoking a cigarette and watching the steam train rolling in through the heavy down pour of rain.

This was the moment he had been waiting for. The carriage doors open, steam billowed and the hunt for the murder was finally over.

 

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2019/03/12/twittering-tale-127-12-march-2019/ with thanks).

The Stealer #3LineTales

three line tales, week 162: people browsing a book stall

The weekend market was busy, the stalls weighed down with a range of goods from clothes to bric-bric, household items to a world of foods and people were everywhere, scrambling over the best deals that the sellers were yelling out like singers of heavy metal bands.

Adam, keeping his head down, went to a book stall and began looking through the titles, then with a glance to the occupied seller, he started slipping books into his padded jacket.

Walking away, Adam went start home, where he sat on his broken sofa and began reading one of the books.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2019/03/07/three-line-tales-week-162/ with thanks).

Jumper #CCC

A Bridge 3 Far cp

Joan walked onto the old railway bridge and climbed up the safety fence with some difficult. She sat, only just balanced, on the top bar and looked down. It seemed a long drop but the bottom was hidden by trees and bushes.

Uncomfortably, she decided whether to jump or not.

She wanted to but would it be effective? She didn’t want to wait dying of injuries.

Actually, here didn’t look good enough.

Wobbling, Joan climbed back and stood on the bridge once more. She took a deep breath. Today wasn’t the day then but sadly, she knew it would come soon enough.

 

(Inspired by; https://crimsonprose.wordpress.com/2019/03/06/crimsons-creative-challenge-17/ thanks).

The Wrong Shoes #SundayPhotoFiction

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The teenage girl walked into the studio set, the blue and white chequered dress swishing around her. She was nervous, this was an important scene in the movie but she followed all the directions and got everything right.

During the lunchtime break, the director and wardrobe designer came to her.

‘You did just fine,’ the director said, ‘but I’m having a problem with the shoes.’

The girl looked down at the sliver slippers on her feet, puzzlement on her face.

‘They are not coming up well on the film,’ the director continued, ‘so, I decided to change them to these ones….’

The wardrobe designer came forward and showed the teenage girl a pair of bright ruby red, shinny shoes that seemed to sparkle with magic.

‘Oh!’ the girl cried, taking the shoes, ‘they are…just….I love them!’

The girl slipped the shoes on, they fitted perfectly. She smiled up at the director and designer.

‘Great!’ the director said, with a clap of his hands, ‘let’s get back to it then! We’ll need to re-shoot this morning’s scenes.’

The abandoned sliver slippers were dumped back in the wardrobe department, totally forgotten forever.

 

(Inspired by; https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2019/02/23/sunday-photo-fiction-february-24-2019/ with thanks. Photo Courtesy of Susan Spaulding).