A life Of Stories

batch-1867552_1920

It was a grim task but I had volunteered to help my family clear out a distant relation’s home. I hadn’t know Bill Dalton existed until a second cousin of my mum reached out and told her that his uncle had died and he knew my mum was an antique dealer. Did she want to come and do a house clearance?

Bill had been an organised hoarder so the task of going through things wasn’t that hard, just long.

Whilst my mum and her second cousin were inspecting a collection of figurine women dressed in 1800’s ballgowns, I decided to open a corner cupboard that had yet been touched.

The door creaked like it hadn’t been opened in awhile. Inside, stacked on the small shelves were pile and piles of notebooks. There was a range of leather, paper and hardback covers all looked well use and the lined sheets yellowing. The notebooks were all tied together string in small groups. It was a strange sight.

‘What’s all this?’ I called over my shoulder.

My mum and her second cousin came to look.

‘I don’t know….’ he trailed.

‘Pull one out,’ my mum said.

I pulled the smallest stack of notebooks out and undid the string around them. Picking up the top one which was like a hardback diary, I opened it.

‘It looks like a novel…’ I said.

I handed it to the second cousin then passed another one to my mum and gripped a third for myself. We read quietly for a few moments.

‘I didn’t know him well,’ the second cousin broke the silence , guilt and sadness in his voice.

‘It looks like this is a whole novel, handwritten and with corrections at the sides,’ my mum muttered.

‘Are all of these novels? Surely he didn’t write these, maybe he copied them or translated them or something?’ I said.

‘I don’t think they all are. Look at those, they say diary with the years.’ the second cousin pointed out.

I pulled out that stack, untied them and picked up the top one. He was right, it was a diary and each day page was carefully filled in.

‘Do you think there’s anything important in these?’ I asked.

‘I don’t know,’ the second cousin said, ‘do you think you could go through them and find out?’

‘I’ll try,’ I said.

All of the notebooks turned out to either be yearly diaries which Bill had recorded his life in, full novels which Bill himself had written, short stories, ideas and drawings, reflections on things and details of locations and characters.

There was a lot to go through but none of it was important paperwork. I didn’t want Bill’s life to fade and so with the family’s permission and years of work; I finally held one of Bill’s officially published novels in my hands.

I hope he is pleased.

Hay fever

flower-meadow-1510602_1920

Every spring as soon as the grass got cut and the flowers started popping up, my sneezes and watery eyes started. Normally, I’d take some meds and get on with it but this year, my hay fever was worse then ever.

I felt like I had a cold. My nose was blocked and I was sneezing so much whilst my eyes were puffy and always felt like they had something in them. None of my normal things seemed to work, so I went all out on cold and flu things as well. At least they kept some of the symptoms at bay.

The days grew longer, the sun was out more often and spring turned to summer. Still, I was plagued and only cold showers seemed to help. I longed for autumn and winter to come.

 

 

D.I.Y

sneaky-elbow-N4FB-VFMNEk-unsplash

Crossing another task of my long list of them, I looked through the pages; some computer typed and others handwritten which were stabled together, at the other jobs there. They were all D.I.Y tasks like; paint the fence, fix the bottom draw in the kitchen, put the wheel back on the shelf unit, replace the doorbell.

It was was strange to think that once I hardly had the time or else I would say I’d do it tomorrow and now I needed to fill the daytime up because my job was on hold. What better way to pass the time then getting through my lists?

Everyone else was in the same place and constantly I would hear the whirl of drills, the teeth-on- edge scrapping of a spade against rocks and the blasting chugging of a chainsaw. Voices would drift from other back gardens; children playing, neighbours talking loudly over their fences and the wind slapping shut doors.

I frowned over a scrawling of words at the bottom of the list but couldn’t make them out. The one below it appealed to me more then anything else; build wood plants for herbs and butterfly/bee liking flowers.    

That sounded like a nice thing to get making.

Create This Book!

98183360_10223330442308873_3451114614425649152_n

I’d never destroy a book, they are like precious stones to me so when I received a book who’s sole purpose was to be drawn in and have pages abused, I was stunned. How could anyone, let alone me, do what this book was demanding?

Flipping through the almost blank white pages, I read the title on each one and my mind turned of the suggestions that the book was wanting; fold this page, draw dots, create a pet, write a list of things you have lost etc.

‘How can I do this to you?’ I whispered.

‘Because I want it,’ the book answered back, ‘I don’t want to be empty. Fill me with your pens.’

I shut my eyes, took up my pens and made my first marks on the cover. I was expecting to recoil in horror by what I had done but actually, I smiled at my crude drawing of a tree.

It’s okay, I thought, this book was made for this and the pages want me to bring them to life.

 

(Photo belongs to me)

Light

nature-670516_1920

The garden was alive. Birds were singing merrily, bees were buzzing around the blooming flowers but I wasn’t interesting. I could see the beauty of it from my back door and the way the sunlight caused a cast of shadows against the walls and flagstones.

The air was heavy with flowers, grass, damp earth and somewhere a faint hint of burnt toast. No doubt from one of my neighbours who was rushing through breakfast. I hadn’t eaten, couldn’t face the idea of food yet. I had a few sips of water and that was enough for the moment. Later, I would have a cup of tea and a biscuit.

There was nothing  wanted to do today. TV was a boring old friend, going on about the same problems. The radio was a drone of sounds that washed each other out. The birds would start to annoy me soon, they seemed too happy, too caught up in spring joy.

Why couldn’t I be as happy as them? What did they do that made then feel so good?

I stepped outside, feeling the sun like hot bath water around me. The sky was a crystal blue, too pure to be real. The flowers were too brightly coloured. They swayed in the breeze as if nodding to each other. Bees visited the blooms and carried pollen away, they large fuzzy bodies cute like children’s TV characters.

I breathed deeply and sat down in a somewhat abandoned plastic garden chair.

I didn’t want to live in the shadows anymore, the light was so much better.

Post It Note Short

note-3723693_1920

No school, kids stuck at home, how do teachers cope? Been driven mad, cabin fever made me into a monkey yesterday. I know all the words to Frozen 2, maybe I could audition for the next one?

The A-Z Challenge! (Non-Fiction Announcement)

#AtoZChallenge 2020 badge

Hi everybody,

It’s April and once again I’m taking part in the Blogging A-Z Challenge. You can check more out about it here; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com.

Throughout April each of my short stories will be represented by a word in alphabetical order – on Sundays this will be a part 2 of Saturday’s story.

Like with past years, I have created a list of words to use as inspiration. All this words are new to me and come from all over the place; different countries/languages, times, fallen out of use, scientific etc.

You can check this years and previous stories from this challenge out here; https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/category/a-z-challenge/

I hope you enjoy reading this stories and discover some new words along the way.

Thanks for your support, Hayley.

Operation #TaleWeaver

teddy-562960_1920

I sat at a desk in the cleared dinning room which was now the reception of a imaginary hospital. I shuffled blank pages around to pretend I was working.

‘Hello!’ my seven year old daughter, Adile spoke.

I looked across at her with her waterfall of blonde hair and pink summer dress on. In her hands she held her favourite teddy bear. He was a medium size, with curly brown fur, a red faded bow tie at his neck, one ear and two black eyes.

She slide teddy on to the desk then with a determined but grim face began telling me a story, ‘we need to see a doctor. Teddy had an accident and he’s got a huge cut in his side and all his stuffing is falling out! You aren’t feeling so good, are you Teddy? So, we’ve come to the hospital to make him feel better.’

‘I see!’ I cried, ‘right, I’m sure we can make teddy better. Let me get some details down then I nurse will come and to assess you then the doctor will examine teddy.’

Adile nodded.

I grabbed a pen and piece of paper, ‘name please?

‘Mr. Teddy Bear.’

‘Age?’

‘Erm…five!’

‘Address?’

‘My house.’

‘Which is what?’ I asked.

Adile recited our address carefully.

‘Phone number?’

Adile thought and repeated the numbers of our house phone.

Then, though it was silly, I took Adile’s name and details, so it seemed this make belief game was real. Then I questioned what was wrong with teddy and wrote the details down.

‘Can you draw me a picture of his injures?’ I asked and handed Adile pencil and piece of paper.

Adile nodded and got to drawing a teddy like shape with a hole in his side and a cloud coming out of it.

‘There!’ she said and give it back to me.

‘That’s good. Please take a seat and wait for the nurse to call you,’ I said and pointed to the dinning room table chairs which were lined against the wall.

I put the paper I had written on and Adile’s drawing on a clipboard then I got up and left the room. Going into the living room, I changed my pink jumper to a blue one and put a nurse’s hat on my head.

I walked back in, stopped in the doorway and looked at the clipboard, ‘Mr. Teddy Bear?’ I called.

‘Here!’ Adile answered with her hand up.

‘I’m the nurse. This way please,’ I said and lead them into the conservatory. I sat down on the floor before the coffee table and Adile sat down on the other side. Teddy on her lap.

‘So, what’s the problem?’ I asked.

Adile launched into her story of teddy’s injury again.

I nodded along then asked to look at him. Adile placed teddy on the coffee table and I looked at the large hole inside and some stuffing poking out.

‘That looks sore,’ I said, ‘does it hurt a lot?’

Adile lent her head down as if listening to teddy whispering to her then spoke, ‘he says it hurts loads.’

‘Oh dear!’ I cried, ‘let me take your vitals and we shall rush you through!’

From the children’s doctor’s kit, I got a stethoscope and listened to teddy’s heart. I wrote some numbers on the paper. Then I took his temperature and so forth, as if I was a real nurse carrying out all the needed tests.

‘Right, that looks okay, Mr Teddy. I’m going to speak to the doctor right now and then we shall get you into surgery.’

‘Is it that bad?’ Adile shouted.

‘Yes I’m afraid so. We need to stitch up that cut and give you a stuffing transfer right away!’

‘Oh no!’ Adile moaned and hugged teddy tightly.

‘It’ll all be fine. Teddy won’t feel anything and afterwards, he’ll be as good as new. Can I leave to get the doctor now?’

Adile buried her face in teddy and nodded.

I left the room and went into the living room once more. I changed jumpers to a white one, took off the nurse’s hat, put the stethoscope on, my reading glasses on and tied my hair back into a ponytail.

I walked into the conservatory and announced, ‘I’m the doctor.’

‘Doctor!’ Adile cried, ‘please fix my teddy!’

Tears sparkled in her eyes and she was on the edge of a crying session again.

I knelt down and took both Adile’s hand and teddy’s paw.

‘It’s all going to be okay,’ I said gently, ‘I know just want to do. Would you like to come with me now? You can stay with teddy whilst I operate.’

‘Yes, please!’ Adile spoke.

I helped her up from the floor and we went into the living room.

‘Mr. teddy, please lay on the table here. Don’t worry, everything is going to be fine,’ I spoke.

Adile lay teddy on the coffee table and I handed her the nurse’s hat whilst asking, ‘would you like to be the nurse?’

With a nod, Adile put the hat on then patted teddy to comfort him.

‘Here’s a mask for you, nurse and also one for me,’ I said and we both put the green masks onto our lower faces, so our mouths and noses were covered.

‘Firstly, teddy let’s give you some special gas which will make you sleepy,’ I said, ‘nurse? Let’s count to ten together whilst I do this, okay?’

I picked up an empty paper bag and place it over the bear’s face. Then I gently and slowly pressed the bag inwards, so it crumbled and became flat. Adile and I counted to ten.

‘Mr teddy? can you hear me?’ I spoke.

Adile lent in then shook her head, ‘he’s a sleep,’ she added.

‘Good. Right. I got some stuffing here and I’m going to put it inside the wound now.’

I put a few handfuls of stuffing inside the teddy. Felt it and added one more handful.

‘Is that enough?’ Adile asked.

‘Yes, I believe so and now I’m getting the needle and thread….’

Adile gasped and put her hands to her cheeks, ‘No!’ she wailed.

‘It’s okay,’ I answer soothingly.

I thread the needle with brown thread and got sewing the hole closed.

‘Oh, teddy, oh teddy, please be okay!’ Adile muttered.

She started sniffing and sobbing. I reassure her as best I can.

I finished sewing the hole. I tied and cut the threads then smooth teddy’s fur to hide my handwork.

‘Nurse, I’m all done. You can wake him now,’ I say.

Adile gently shook teddy a few times whilst calling his name. I sit him upright and handed him back to her.

‘Teddy? Are you well again? Let me see!’ Adile said and she carefully inspected my sewing, ‘he’s fine now,’ she concluded and give him a tight hug.

‘Teddy needs some fresh and sun now. Can you take him outside to play? He should be able to now.’

Adile nodded and come over to hug me. Her warm arms wrap around my neck and I hugged her back. I took off the nurses’ hat and mask and kiss her cheek.

‘Thank you, mummy,’ Adile said.

‘Your welcome,’ I answered.

Adile rushed off and I tided things away and straighten things out again. In the conservatory, I paused and watched my daughter and her teddy bear playing in the sandbox, the sun bouncing off her blonde hair and her face full of happiness.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2020/03/26/tale-weaver-268-medical-26th-march/ with thanks).

Always A Book By My Side

book-520626_1920

I promised myself this year I wouldn’t buy anymore books. The bookcases and shelves were bowing under the weight of so many books, they wouldn’t take anymore. I had moved on to filling storage boxes and then to piling books on the floor by my bed, sofa and desk.

Most people held maps of how to get to places in their memories, I had a map of where each book was in my house instead. If there was one title I wanted to read, I was able to go to the room and shelf or box or bookcase it was in and after browsing through, locate it.

Most of the time, I took my next book from a current reading pile and moved through them that way. When I went out, the book came too and so I was never without one. There was something comforting about the weight of a book in your bag and also if you needed to wait you could read for a bit.

I had calculated I had enough new books and ones I wanted to re-read that I didn’t need to buy anymore books for a few years. So, I thought to try and read what I had and save the money I would have spent on something else. So began my new year resolution.

Within a month I had broken it. There were two books I wanted that I had missed the release of. I brought them and told myself to get back on track. Another two months later and I went to an art and craft fair. I meet an self-published writer who hadn’t sold a book all day. I felt bad and so brought his book and also another which had been on my list for awhile.

I told the writer of my book buying ban and thought it a hard task to do. I agreed and said this was the second time I had broken it now but I was determined to keep trying. I told myself if temptation came again I was to turn away.

It didn’t work! A few weeks later, I found another book I couldn’t live without and had to buy it. A new addition to my library and other world to escape into when I got around to it.

Why couldn’t I stick to my ban? Why did I have no self control? Why was I so addicted?

I pressed a book to my face and breathed in deeply, loving the ink stained pages and weight in my hands. I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t stop, I needed more books.

Storm Ciara

storm-damage-1481036_1920

When the news said there was an amber weather warning, I knew that Ciara wasn’t going to be friendly. She was coming over from America with the full force of a winter storm. At least, the British weather wasn’t as bad as the USA.

Ciara woke me up on Sunday morning by driving hailstone on to my window. I heaved the winter duvet and my massive Great Dane, King, off me and looked out of the window. The wind was fifty to sixty miles per hour, everything was moving violently and the surrounding bare trees were really showing how strong the wind was. Rain thundered down and the wind whipped the water into a frenzy.

I got up and sorted for the day. My bachelor mind doing it’s normal voice off about how nice it was not to have a wife or kids being noisy but also how worrying it was not to have those things.

Letting King out into the garden, the wind blew ice into my face and I was grateful that within a minute King was back inside. I dried him off, wondering how he could be so wet!

King sulked off to his massive dog bed in the converted dinning room. Dispite him being a huge dog – he came up passed my hip and I was six foot two, he could easily rest his head on tables too – King hated the cold and wet weather.

Getting a large mug of coffee and some toast, I went to my study and began working on my different writing tasks. I had a novel to complete, creative writing lectures to plan, students’ essays to mark and journal articles to finish. It might have been a Sunday but writers and teachers never stop.

Storm Ciara erupted throughout the whole day. She hit against the windows desperate to get in. She threw out everything she had; wind, hail, snow, rain, thunder and lightening. I glanced up often from my work and watched the storm from the small window.

King joined me at some point, he put his dark grey head into my lap then curled up tight under the desk. When the thunder started, he yowled and only hugs and comforting words soothed him.

I tried to take him out at lunchtime but a quick trot to the park entrance at the end of my street was it. Storm Ciara was still bad in the afternoon and darkness came early. I took King out again and we embraced the gusty wind and drenching rain together. I tugged him along, trying to convince him that a longer walk was what we were going on.

The trees above swayed violently and the branches cracked. Deep, long stretching pools of water were either covering the grass or the pathways of the park. As we passed the children’s playground, a creeping feeling crawled along my skin. The swings, roundabout and the rocking animals were moving because of the wind but for some reason I thought of ghost children at play.

The wind was whistling through the climbing frame, slide and other things, making ghastly sounds. Rain was dripping off everything and it was all so eerie, almost abandoned looking.

We hurried home and once safe inside, I got use both into a hot shower. King sit, drinking the shower spray and I enjoyed the warmth spreading on my icy skin. After, I got the fire in the living room going and feed King. I just had some soup then we both sat by the fire, watching TV.

‘What is it, King?’ I asked as he raised his head and whined.

Then I heard it, the monstrous groaning and cracking of a tree. There was almighty snap, crunch of metal and shattering of glass. I felt a tremor running through the house and King threw back his head and howled.

I rushed to the window and saw a tree had come down across the street and was laying across a number of cars.

There were bits of tree and car scattered across the road. The wind was picking up the lighter things and blowing them away. Doors of the houses opposite opened and people stepped out. I couldn’t hear them but I could see the shock on their faces and in their body language.

King pushed me out of the way and looked out of the window too. We stayed there for awhile. Watching the crowds of neighbours gather and soon a fire engine arrived. No body had been hurt but some of the cars were write offs for sure.

‘There’s not much we can do,’ I said to King, ‘looks like everything’s under control. It’s snowing again. Let’s go back to the fire.’

Settling down again, King sprawled across the sofa and myself. His head and front legs on my lap, pinning me down. I felt safe like that, even though King was a rubbish guard dog. I guess just having a massive dog and his heavy weight on me was enough comfort as storm Ciara raged outside.

 

(Inspired by current events; https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/02/11/storm-ciara-commuters-warned-snow-ice-across-parts-britain/)