Not Today

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The writing won’t come today. I have words and ideas enough in my head but they won’t come out onto paper. My headaches with trying, my hands shake with holding the pen tightly. I shut my eyes, try to relax, to clear my head then focus but the paper stays blank.

Fume #WritePhoto

The smoke rose above the trees. That was how he was able to find them. He followed the smell of burning wood and cooked beans.

He moved through the night like a shadow, staying strangely silent for a beast his size. He knew how to quieten his feet, body and breath. He knew where everything lay in his forest and could avoid the nosiest bushes and dry branches of fallen trees.

It was always best to wait, he knew that but sometimes there was no time. Tonight, the people were camping, sleeping in tents. It was the perfect and easiest hunt.

He arrived, slowed and took in the scene. The fire was burning low, orange embers against the black ground. The two tents were together, sheltered under the trees but not from him. He listened and could tell they were sleeping by the sound of their breathing.

He licked his lips and crept forward. All ready he could taste their blood.

He pounced. The tent collapsed underneath and he ripped into the fabric.

Screams rippled through the air then faded into night.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2020/01/02/thursday-photo-prompt-fume-writephoto/ with thanks).

Sale!

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It was that time of year for the madness to be began again; the New Year sales were on!

Dear Diary

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Dear Diary,

It’s always strange waking up on the first of a new year. You think things will have changed but nothing has. I can imagine the number of people who woke up this morning and got on with their New Year resolutions.

Diets, give up smoking, stop drinking, save money, start a family, get a new job, whatever people choice to do. I didn’t pick anything. There was nothing I can think of that I want to achieve this year. I guess that makes me boring but no one has actually asked me so I haven’t had to make anything up.

I guess I would have said that I wanted to go on a diet and that one with the shakes I had seen on the TV the other day was what I was going to do.

Or maybe, I might have said that I wanted to take up a real difficult hobby like leather or metal working.

How long can you wait to decided what your resolution is going to be? How did it all come about anyway and why is there pressure to have one?

I don’t know. I guess I should just pick in case I’m asked. Someone at work is bound to want to know.

So, my 2020 resolution will be to give up buying books for the year.

That’s harsh and different but useful to me. I have a library of books to read and not buying any new ones will save some money that could be nice to use to go on holiday with.

It’ll do.

Winter Sea

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People loved the sea and they loved coming to see it but most of them didn’t stay so only a few knew what it was like to live on the coastline during winter. And it wasn’t all just ‘look at how the sea is raging and how flooded the harbour is!’

It was a dangerous time of year and I having spent my whole life in a Cornwall fishing town knew it well. We had been flooded, power failures, cliffs had fallen to the sea, people had drowned in riptides or huge waves, boats had been dashed like rotten wood on rocks and the harbour warning bells were always ringing.

From my attic bedroom as I lay in my bed trying to sleep, I didn’t need to look out of the wind to see that a storm was beginning. I could hear the wind like the blades of a helicopter whipping everything it could pull up into a tornado. What sounded like a tree branch bumped along the roof then was gone.

The rain hammered on the slates like men breaking stones in the quarry a few miles away. The windows rattled, dripping and water stained. There was a knocking as hailstones joined in, the ice chips bouncing away as they hit.

The sea was making the most noise as if in competition with everything else. All that separated my house from the sea was a road and a wall. I could clearly hear the waves bashing the flood defences and trying to climb the wall.

Wondering if we would be flooded, I rolled over and tried to sleep again. It wasn’t the storm keeping me awake, I was use to the weather. It wasn’t the night light casting multi-coloured stars on to the ceiling and wall, that was meant to help. No, it was my phobia of the dark.

Nyctophobia, it was called. I was on a never ending cycle of things to try and help me or cure me. It came and went, some months were easier, sometimes of the week were better then other but winter was the hardest to get through. It was dark for most of the day and my mind was never at rest from the fear of what might be waiting in that darkness.

Giving up sleeping, I turned the light and read my book. It was strange but I loved horror stories and true horror things. I liked reading about the supernatural, ghosts were one of my favourite subjects – fact or fiction. Tonight, though I was reading about true witches starting from the earliest historical records to now-ish.

Of course, I realise how ironic this is because loving horror and being afraid of the dark don’t go together! Some people said that reading and watching horror themed things was the cause of my problems but there was more to it then that. It wasn’t that I believed the things in the horror books and films could be waiting in the darkness to grab me, it was more that in the dark you didn’t know what was truly there.

The dark made you think something was something else, objects had hidden depths, people looked different and sounds were also changed. I knew there were no real monsters out there, just humans who became like them. Perhaps, there were ghosts but I believed they weren’t like the fiction stories said.

I read and read, sometimes dozing off then reading back a paragraph until it grew light outside.

Free at last, I wrapped up warm and went outside, despite the storm. Everything lashed around me; the wind, the rain, the sea, it was like a surge of nature at war with just me.

I went to the wall and looked down. The sea was high, over the rock breakers and every wave was splashing over the wall top. It wouldn’t be long till sea water was pooling across the road.

Salt stung my eyes and water coated me. The wind buffeted me and I couldn’t stay long. I walked along stopping when a wave came over, not that getting wet by it would make me any drier!

My head cleared, my fears left and I felt easier. Not much was open in town partly due to it being Sunday, not tourist season and the storm. I passed a few cafes, an arcade and bingo hall, shops who’s shutters rattled like teeth. I went to the harbour and watched the boats riding the sea like a roller coaster.

 

 

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.

Apple #WritingPrompt

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My favourite apples were those picked straight from the tree covered with water drops from a light autumn shower or droplets from a misty morning.

It seemed like I spent all my autumn days outside harvesting, sorting out the animals and making sure everything was ready for winter. I had lots of help, I was the only girl out of eight children. The joke was my mother had kept trying till she had a girl but I had turned out more boyish then some of my brothers!

I was fourth generation of farmer and it ran strong within me. I had favourite jobs and ones I hated but I still did them all. My best was apple picking. I loved getting the reds and greens off the trees, stacking them in baskets before putting them in the trucks to go to the shops.

There was some comforting about the weight in hand, the smell of the crisp apples under my nose and when I tasted the sweet tang of the fruit nothing could bet it.

One of my brothers joked that it was apple juice that ran in my veins instead of blood. I believed that could be true. Another brother said I had been born from an apple seed mother had swallowed on the advice of grandma. A third claimed they had found me under an apple tree on harvest moon night!

However, I had come into the world my name; Autumn Apple Atkins was fitting and perfect to my ears. Some sniggered at it, others had used it to bully me but to me it was who I was and where I had come from.

My father had promised me the orchard and I could think of no greater thing to inherit then the trees that bear the fruit I love.

 

(Inspired by; https://sarahelizabethmoore.org/2019/11/03/writing-prompt-44/ with thanks).

Post It Note Short

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Note to self; move cacti to higher place to stop cat from being spiked again also pay vet bills.

Dear Diary

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Dear diary,

Where has the year gone too? It’s the second to last month all ready and I feel like it’s just been lost. I know it’s not been really but it’s just the strangeness of the changing seasons.

I know this surreal sense will pass.

The air is always foggy at the moment as people burn fires and let fireworks off because it’s almost bonfire night. For some reason, the sounds and smells remind me of the World Wars. Like the fireworks become the distant sounds of guns going off and the smell of burning.

Perhaps, in a past life I was a solider? Or maybe, I have too good a imagination?

It’s raining again. The sounds of drops pattering on the ground and tapping against the window is making me sleepy. Listening to rain has been helping me sleep better at night.

I have nothing to do today. My knee and leg are still aching and the plaster cast is itchy. I’ve built a tower of pillows to rest my leg up on and I’m just going to rest and watching the Halloween episodes of TV shows I missed yesterday.

I feel like having a nap first though.

Photos Speak Louder #FridayFictioneers

Photos have always drawn me in. I’m no good at taking them and I’m not interested in photography. I like to think about why someone took a photo, the landscape and people in them. The capturing of the moment, the memory.

There are some that believe photos capture the soul. I’ve not come across anything like that, just a lot of nameless faces and changed places.

What I believe is that each photo holds a story within. It’s my destiny to uncover these stories, no matter what they might be.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/10/09/4-october-2019/ with thanks).