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).

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)

Another Monday

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The alarm went off. She rolled and turned it off. There was no need to get up. The alarm was set to indict it was morning. Not that it mattered because she fell back to sleep and didn’t get up till lunch time.

It was a strange curse of insomnia; she didn’t sleep at night but in the day she had no problems.

She blamed it on the six months of working night shifts at a warehouse. That had been  two years ago but being ill had thrown her body clock out of the window.

Time was of no importance now. She did things when her body and brain said to. It was like being on autopilot. She didn’t care, it was easier this way.

Afternoon TV helped to keep the demon thoughts at bay. Some days if she was up to it she would go out for a walk or to the shops but most of the time she’d order stuff on the internet.

Laying in bed, she realised it was a Monday. Adults would be going to work and children to school. She would be here, tried from her sleepless night and illness, wondering how many more Monday mornings she would wake up on.

Non-Fiction Announcement -Virus Attack!

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Hi everyone,

Some of you might have noticed that in the past week this blog has been failing in it’s goal of a new story each day.

I’ve been really ill with a virus. I spent 3-4 days in bed then the rest of the week just taking it easy and trying to recover. I’ve barely been able to read or watch TV and movies, so writing has been far from my mind.

I’m feeling better enough now to try and pick things up. I’m lucky that Word Press let’s you back date posts, so I can fill in the days I’ve missed and avoid triggering my OCD! This is going to take some time and of course I’ll be writing the stories for this week as well.

Please bare with me whilst I try and do this.

Thanks for your understanding, Hayley.

Read

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I opened my book, slipped the leather marker out of the pages and looked at the chapter heading. Straight away I remembered where I was up to and eagerly began reading.

The phone rang. I looked up and listened to the shrill tone. Abandoned my book with a sign, I got up to answer it.

‘Hello?’ a man’s voice with an Indian accent asked, ‘I’m calling from your internet provider. We are going to cut your internet off.’

‘I don’t have the internet,’ I answered.

‘You don’t?’

‘I’m eighty-eight! I’ve no interested in such things!’

He hung up.

I put the phone down and went back to my favourite armchair. I curled up again and picked up my book. Where was I? Even without my bookmark jammed in between the pages, I could easily tell.

I begin reading again. I got through a few pages but then the door bell rang.

I rolled my eyes and got up. It was a delivery man asking me to take a parcel in for next door. That all sorted, I got back to my book.

I only had a few chapters to go and I really wanted to know if the soon to be married young lovers would discover they were actually brother and sister!

The sound of crows crying loudly, brought my head up. I looked out the window and saw two crows fighting over the bird food I had put out yesterday. They were having a right go at each other.

I wasn’t a fan of big birds, so I went out and scared them off. I waved one of the walking sticks at them and the crows got the message. Black wings beat loudly and flew over the fence. I looked at the darkening sky. It was going to rain soon and it was getting colder.

I went back in, heard the clock chime and realised it was almost time for something to eat. I put one of the frozen ready meals in the oven and whilst it cooked I made and lit the fire.

The crackling of the flames on the logs and the smell of fragrant smoke were comforting.

I eased back into the armchair and began reading again.

The timer went off and I had my meal. After I got a cup of tea and tried once again to finish my book.

The door bell went – next door come to get their parcel.

The phone rang – my daughter checking up on me. Reminding me about the trip to the garden centre tomorrow.

The fire needed other few logs.

I drank my tea, read my book and finally relaxed as it was night now and nobody would disturb me. I could finally finish!

Or not….two chapter to go and lulled by the fire, I fell sleep.

Friday 13th

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It was one of the days Henry dreaded most; a Friday thirteenth, the unluckiest day of the year. He debated if it was even worth getting out of bed. He could call in work sick and just stay here where it was safest. 

No, the boss will know I’m lying, Henry thought, he overhead me talking about today for sure. 

Henry got up and avoided doing anything that might trigger the bad luck. He didn’t look into the mirror, he didn’t walk on any cracks as he headed to work, he didn’t go under any ladders or scaffolding and he prayed no black cats crossed his path.

At work he didn’t speak much and just got on with his accounting spreadsheets. He didn’t take his breaks or stop of lunch, Henry just wanted the day to be over. He ignored his colleagues asking him to come out for drinks or food or dancing. He mumbled he was busy tonight or he wasn’t feeling well.

He left work on time, a rarity for him, and hurried home. Once there, he undressed and got straight into bed even though he was hungry and his favourite quiz show was on TV.

If I can sleep through the rest of the day, everything will be fine, Henry thought.

However, he couldn’t sleep and within an hour had got up and was making something to eat. He had soup and crusty bread whilst watching the end of the news. Seems a few bad things had happened today; but then didn’t they everyday?

As soon as he had finished and tided up, Henry went back to bed and read for a few hours. He felt safer in his bed, nothing could happen here.

He heard it start to rain outside and a cat begin meowing loudly. He tried ignoring the child like crying yowls but the noise was cutting through his concentration.

Henry got up, went to the window and looked out. At the house across the way, he saw an outside lamp on and underneath, on the front door step was a black cat!

Henry clutched his chest and stumbled backwards. Was it okay that he had only glanced the cat? The creature hadn’t crossed his path or touched him or even looked up at him. Perhaps, the cat wasn’t all black?

Henry clung to that thought and got back into bed.

Everything is going to be okay, he started repeating.

He checked the time and saw it was almost ten o’clock. Three hours to go till Friday thirteenth was over.

Henry picked up his book again and tried to get back into it but his mind kept wondering. He got up again and looked out the window but the cat had gone.

‘I don’t know if it was all black or not,’ Henry said aloud, ‘but if it lives in that opposite house then I must have seen that cat before and I know there’s no black ones around here! Unless…they got it recently….’

Trying to get rid of his thoughts, Henry got back into bed again and pulled the duvet over his head. He tried to convince himself nothing was going to happen and somehow he fell asleep.

In the morning, he awoke to his alarm going off. Henry struggled out of a deep sleep and turned it off. Sleepy, he looked at the date and saw that he had made it through the unluckiest day of the year.