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).

Hungry

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He sat at a table in the food court of the shopping mall, trying to blend in. Around him, people were talking and eating a range of fast foods and he could smell the hot grease, salt and mixed aromas of meals.

He looked down at his hands and waited. He couldn’t bear to watch people eating or breathe in the smells anymore. His stomach was growling loudly and twinging with pains.

Two young Muslin women at the table next to him got up and left, chattering in a different language.

He eyed their left tray, piled with rubbish. Slowly, he got up, picked up the tray and sat back down with it at his own table.

He had been seen, of course, too many eyes around but he didn’t care.

He opened the first box and saw the remains of chicken thighs inside. He took out a piece and eat what he could, nibbling the bone.

There were no fries, just a pot of gravy. He’d never been a fan and the pot felt cold when he picked it up. Placing it back, he got up and left.

He felt eyes on him once more and questions on lips, but no one stopped him.

I don’t care, he thought.

He walked around the food court. Looking at the rubbish left on the tables. Sometimes he reached out and touched something to see if there was anything left inside. He moved on to more tables, aiming for ones recently left where the food might still be warm. He ate whatever scraps were left trying to hide his actions out of habit but it was still impossible in such a busy place.

He found a quarter of a taco in a discarded wrapper and swallowed it. The cup beside had water from melted ice cubes at the bottom which he gulped down.

He found another table with children’s box meals stacked up. He sat down and looked through each box. He found an unopened bag of fruit and slipped it into his pocket for later. Desperate his starvation now, he knew the important of saving something for another day.

At the bottom of another box was a few cold fries. He ate them then found a small bottle of orange juice with some left inside which he drink.

He felt into other box and pulled out a plastic wrapped toy. He sighed but unwrapped the toy car anyway. He ran the car across the table, remembering another time.

He become aware of two people flanking him. He looked up and saw security guards of the mall staring down at him.

‘You need to leave,’ one of them said.

He thought about arguing; I’m was just sitting here, what’s the harm in that?

There was no point.

He got up and security walked him to the exit only stairs. He knew people were watching and whispering, what had he done?  

I just wanted some food.

He went down the steps and out on to the snowy, icy streets. Snowflakes melted on his warm skin and busy shoppers hurried by eager to get back to their homes.

He hunched his shoulders against the wind and walked back to his things tucked into the doorway of a closed down shop. There he huddled against the cold, abandoned by the world.

(Partly based on a real story).

Zodiac #WeekendWritingPrompt

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The clock always fascinated her. The background was blue and green enamel whilst the numbers, hands, animals and figures were gold. As well as telling the time, the clock told the passed of months and years but she never realise that.

 

(Inspired by; https://sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/2019/05/18/weekend-writing-prompt-106-zodiac/ with thanks).

Veld #AtoZChallenge

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Veld; a grassland of southern Africa. 

It stretched far and wide, a seemingly empty grassland but I knew that wasn’t true. Out here there were herds of wild animals and my camera finger was just itching to take their photos. The life of a photographer might not be easy but it give me the chance to experience places like this.

Punk #3LineTales

three line tales, week 160: protesters meet riot police

The big wigs said we couldn’t stand up, we were too small and not important but they were wrong because our belief was more then they could ever imagine.

Filling the streets, marching to the beat, demanding voices heard, we were seen as a disturbance, a trouble that needed to be controlled by the blues and yellows with their riot gear.

We didn’t want a fight, we the silent wanted to be come the spoken but emotions ran wild, battles broke out and we lost that day, however people heard our words and we shall come back stronger.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2019/02/21/three-line-tales-week-160/ with thanks).

 

 

Carved #100WW

The dead tree in the park was to be removed but first an artist had been allowed access. He had thought awhile about what to do – paint the tree? Chainsaw sculpt an image? Use the branches to display other works of art?

He liked that idea! But he was going to need help. He ran art classes in schools so decided to get the young people to make pieces to decorate the tree. Then they all went out and did just that.

Lastly, everyone carved their names into the trunk signing the art piece off.

 

(Inspired by; https://bikurgurl.com/2019/02/20/100-word-wednesday-week-109/ with thanks).

 

Roses #FridayFictoneers

I came home, exhausted after a full day in court trying to convince everyone my client wasn’t a murderer. Sadly, he was but it was my job to try and get his sentence reduced.

Dumping my stuff, I sank onto the sofa, kicked off my high heels and wrapped myself around a large cushion. I felt like I could sleep forever.

Something glittery caught my eye. Sunlight was falling on the glass roses my husband had brought for Valentine’s day. I couldn’t help but smile, at least somethings weren’t bad.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/02/20/22-february-2019/ with thanks).

 

 

Timeless #WritePhoto

It was a silly idea but it stuck in my head and what did I have to lose anyway? An afternoon getting lost, back tracking lots then finally finding the correct field. Though, it’s hard to say those hours were wasted because I actually enjoyed getting out of town and into the countryside for awhile.

I’m NOT going to start at the beginning, I’m sick of doing that with the doctors, nurses, support workers etc. I sound like a broken record in my head, stuck repeating the same lyrics over and over. Sorry for the use of cliche, but as I’ve found out things put plainly get more understood then some hyped up analogy.

To all those people and everyone else – family, friends, colleagues- they need to hear it to understand it, no matter how many times it takes. Also, they like to hear me being positive; ‘I’m okay,’ ‘I’m doing fine,’ ‘No, I don’t need help,’ ‘Thanks for your concern, I appreciation it.’

And all the while I’m just screaming in my head; ‘Can everyone just F off and leave me alone!!’

It’s strange how we are sort of programmed to hold everything in, to stay ‘normal’ when everything is anything but and just carry on.

I thought about this the other day, when I saw a boy having a tantrum in the shop because his mum wouldn’t buy him a toy. He was full on getting all his emotions out for everyone to see and though people didn’t like it, we all understood what was going on.

That’s what I want to do! Just scream to the world that I’m not happy and I didn’t get what I wanted in life and now I’ve been told not much can be done about it. As an adult, I can’t seem to do that. It’s not the to do action when you are mid-thirties.

The action is to accept and move on.

Or else you go out and try silly things like this!

Now, I’m walking across short, wet grass, heading to the almost center of the field. Ahead the massive standing stone looms, it’s a strange twisting shape and a total blot in the flat landscape. It’s a mystery how it got here but legend says it’s an ancient healing stone and has cured millions.

I come to a stop beside the stone. It’s covered in dark moss and bits have been chipped away which is why it has an odd shape. I guess people were so desperate for healing they removed bits. I wonder if that worked for them or if the bits lost power? Does it actually matter?

I touch the stone like I’m meant too. It’s freezing and wet, not a surprise there. I feel foolish. I breath and hope no one is seeing this right now!

Do I believe the stone will heal me? I’m not sure. Common sense says no but common sense also says drugs are meant to but when the drugs stop working what then?

When you lose belief in one thing how can you find it in another?

Tears roll down my cheeks, hot and salty, I don’t wipe them away. I’m too tried.

I move closer to the stone and hug it. My arms don’t reach all away around and there’s a large gap my fingers try to bridge but don’t. Dampness and coldness sink into me like the starting up of a shower before it gets hot. The stone is smooth, worn over the years. I press my cheek to it and just let everything go.

I cry, scream, shout, punch, kick, I bash my head against the stone.

Dizziness sweeps me. Sobbing, I slip down to the ground, press my back against the stone and turn my face skyward. Shutting my eyes, I listen to my hammer heart, my ragged breaths and a headache building.

It starts raining softly.

The stone feels warm.

And for the first time in a long time, I feel little bit of peace.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/02/21/thursday-photo-prompt-timeless-writephoto/ with thanks).

The Poet’s House

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Arianie had only one thing on her mind as they pulled up behind the abandoned house and that was books; what condition would they be in? Could any be saved? Even good enough to sell?

Her boyfriend, Lex, turned the van’s engine off, satisfied they were hidden from view. Lex and his three friends; Tyler, Evan and Rhys got out and scouted around making sure no one else was about.

Opening the car door to let some cold air in, Arianie listened to the birds chirping, distant traffic and footsteps in the overgrown garden. She looked at the house which from the back looked fine at first glance. Closer though, masses of cobwebs could be seen in the windows, the net curtains were colored by age and dirt, just like the windows and was the back door slightly ajar?

Bored of waiting, Arianie got out, tightened the pony tail she had twisted her dark brown hair into and walked across the long, damp grass in her borrowed safety working boots. Not sure and not caring where the boys had gone, Arianie walked up onto a decking area which was tumbling away from the house.

Someone had smashed a pane of glass in the back door and used it to break in.

Putting on black gloves, from the pocket of an old winter coat that was so last season,  Arianie pulled open the door and cringed at the piercing shrike the rusted hinges let out. Her eyes shut as she yanked the door all the way open then she peered inside.

‘Arianie!’ Lex’s voice called.

‘I just want to get it over with!’ she snapped back.

‘You know the rules.’

She muttered something under her breath as Lex joined her on the decking. He nudged his way passed and stepped into the house, shouting, ‘Hello! Anyone here?’

Arianie followed him into a small room that was like a back porch area. There were mud encrusted boots on bristled mats, worn coats on hooks, bits and pieces on the shelves and a stopped clock on the wall. There was also a smell, that was hard to identity but it was a mix of dust, mold, rotting things and wet dog.

Wrinkling her nose and pressing the sleeve of her coat to her face, Arianie walked on and into a kitchen. Ignoring this room, she stepped through an open door and into a hallway.

Lex’s voice was echoing through the rooms and from behind her Arianie could hear the others coming in.

She walked through a dining room, a living room, and a front room, noticing things the men might take. The house was full of stuff and a thick layer of dust and cobwebs covered everything.

As she walked and looked for books, Arianie recalled what Rhys had said about the place. It had belong to a poet, though she had never heard the name before, he had died ten years ago and nobody had come forward for his body or estate. That was why the house was perfect target for them; lots of items to steal.

Lex came downstairs, shouting the coast was clear.

Arianie went into the hall to meet him, feeling like her allergies were starting up though she had double dosed antihistamine.

‘There’s a room upstairs just for you,’ Lex said in a low sexy voice.

Arianie pulled a face but couldn’t hide her building excitement.

Letting Lex take her upstairs and into a back bedroom converted into a study-library, Arianie found her slice of heaven.

There were floor to ceiling bookcases on all the walls which were only broken up by the door and window. Books, untouched for years crowded the shelves. There was a desk by the window, with a high leather chair and in the opposite left corner a matching arm chair that had a small table beside it.

‘Get to work,’ Lex spoke, giving Arianie’s bum a pat as he left.

Any other time she would have told him off for that but words at the moment failed her.

Slowly, walking into the room, Arianie began with the books not on the shelves; those that were on the tables or floor. Strangely, she had always been a big reader but today it was values that drew her more. Her granddad had been a rare book dealer and he had filled her head with knowledge Arianie had always deemed useless. That was until she had met Lex and got in on his ‘second hand business’.

There was never enough time on these kind of jobs, so she hurried through as much as she could. By the open door, Arianie stacked books she thought could be sellable and left others where she dropped them.

From time to time, Lex or one of the others would come and take the books away. Arianie could hear them going through the rooms, opening things and scattering everything. The poet might not have been rich but like everyone else he had things other people would pay for.

Arianie knew she would never make it through all the books in the room. So, once she had figured out if and what the system was in place to order them by, she moved quickly through the subjects.

The poet had liked classics, mythology, legends, history, old fashioned romance and poetry.

Taking down a volume of Shakespeare and seeing it in good condition, Arianie pulled out everything by the playwright and stacked it in the doorway.

‘Shakespeare always sells,’ Arianie muttered, echoing her granddad’s words to her once.

There were other people who sold well too and she was quick to find and pull out those names too.

‘No more now,’ Lex said from the doorway.

Arianie turned to him with books of War poetry in her hands.

‘Shame,’ she replied.

Checking she had all the War poetry books, Arianie quickly scanned the rest of the shelves just in case a hidden gem stuck out. It had a few abandoned places back, when she had found an first edition and signed Peter Rabbit book.

Nothing at first but then next to the desk was a section of books that seemed different. Arianie pulled them out and saw they were the poet’s published works. Maybe, no one would buy them but it was worth a shot. She added them to the pile in her hand then left them balanced on the desk whilst she looked through the draws.

Lex and his friends would never forgive her if something was missed. She might specialize in books but she also had a duty to find anything of value.

The desk was empty, just old letters, papers, stationary that weren’t worthy. Collecting the books, she went downstairs and outside into the cold air. It was growing dark which meant the raid was coming to an end.

Arianie walked to the van and saw the back double doors open. Inside were stacked a few small tables and chairs, a tall lamp, cardboard and plastic boxes which contained more breakable things and all the books she had selected.

A cold blow of air made shivers run up her spine despite the protection of her coat.  Arianie walked around and opened the passenger door of the van. She put the books into the foot well then climbed in. She closed the door and was glad that there was a separation between the back seats and the loading section of the van.

Picking up one of the poet’s own books, she sat reading, whilst the men finished the job then shut the van doors. Rhys, Tyler and Evan got into the back seats and Lex climbed into the front. Someone passed the beer cans around and they sat drinking and chilling.

‘What you got there?’ Lex asked Arianie.

‘Just one of the poet’s books,’ she answered and give a small shrug.

‘He any good?’ Rhys laughed from the back.

‘Maybe. We’ll see how much we get for him,’ Arianie responded, ‘can we go now?’

‘Sure,’ Lex said.

He started the van up, gulped down the rest of his beer and threw the can out of the window.

They drove out of the hiding place and back onto the road, mixing in with the traffic as if they were normal people heading for home.

Salt

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Doctor Roy Parker stood on the end of the pier, huddled in a huge winter coat and looking around. Everyone thought him mad to take a seaside holiday in February but he embraced it. The quietness at the out of season resort, the emptiness of the beach and town, no worries or cares, created a perfect escape from an intense twenty-four hours- seven days a week hospital job.

Resting his arms on the rotting wooden rail, Roy watched and listened to the gale force winds creating mini sand storms along the beach below. Out at sea, the wave tops were whipped into meringue peaks which then crashed onto the shore and got left behind by the large rasping, rolling salty water.

Rain started falling, fat drops plopping onto the wooden boards, the damp sand and stormy sea. Roy didn’t mind, this was nature at one of it’s wildest moments and he could just become lost in the raging weather. He balanced himself against the elements, letting them sweep everything away for a good while.

The wind became more violent, throwing sand and waves upwards to Roy. A tingle of danger went through him and the Doctor decided he’d had enough for the moment. With rain and sand grains clinging to him and sea salt the only thing he could smell, Roy finally turned away and walked back to the large dome cafe that dominated the middle of the pier.

He opened the door and was greeted by a gentle warm hug of air. Choosing a seat near a  right hand side window, Roy noticed he was the fourth customer in the cafe. Two old ladies in their seventies or eighties, sat a few tables away in the center row, were enjoying a meal. To the far left, next to a rain coated window, a young man in his twenties or thirties, sat with his eyes closed and hands around a white mug. A yellow Labrador guide dog sit at his feet, tongue lolling, face attentive.

The rest of the tables, though set for customers were empty, giving an eerily abandoned impression to the place which the weather made all the more real.

Looking towards the counter and kitchen area, Roy saw a bored teenage girl at the till putting a brownie onto a plate. Listening, he heard a soft brush of musical notes coming from the kitchen along with the smell of mingled hot food and coffee.

Roy picked up the plastic covered menu wedged behind glass salt and pepper shakers and a bottle of vinegar. He scanned the deserts and drinks list then turned the menu over to see the meals. There wasn’t a lot of choice but that wasn’t a surprise.

Meanwhile, the waitress took the brownie to the blind man and spoke to him for a few minutes. She patted the guide dog’s head. Roy got the impression they knew each other which in this small town was easy to believe. Then the girl turned, coming towards him whilst digging out a paper pad and pen from her white apron bag.

‘Hi, what can I get you?’ she asked in a fake bright voice.

‘A pot of tea,’ Roy answered.

The girl noted it down.

‘And fish and chips.’

The girl made to nod then replied, ‘if you order the special it comes with tea, bread and butter.’

‘Is that a pot or just a cup?’ Roy asked, avoiding the temptation to look at the menu again.

The waitress thought for a moment as if she had forgotten or was deciding something, ‘I can make it a pot,’ she stated and wrote on her pad again.

‘Thank you,’ Roy said.

The girl walked off and disappeared into the kitchen. Roy listened for voices but the wind, rain and sea were in storm mode and all other sounds were now blocked out. Turning to the window, Roy watched the rain pounding against the glass and clouding the view which he imagined on a nice summer day was a picturesque beach.

He was lost in his thoughts for awhile, so when the waitress appeared with his tea, Roy was slightly startled.

‘There you go,’ the girl said as she set a tea pot, milk jug, sugar bowl and cup down.

Roy thanked her as she headed back to the kitchen then looked at the mismatched and dented tea set. The poor sliver colored tea pot had seen better days, the rim of the sugar bowl was chipped and the darker sliver milk jug looked like it could fall apart. He gingerly poured the steaming tea and fridge cool milk into his tea cup.

‘Excuse me, Sadie,’ a man’s voice called loudly.

Roy looked about and saw the blind man trying to attracted the waitress attention.

‘I’ll get her for you, dear,’ one of the old ladies spoke.

‘We are leaving now, Mark,’ the second replied.

‘Thank you, Iris and Lilly. I want to leave too,’ the blind man answered, ‘the storm sounds bad, so I’m going to get a taxi.’

They both got up. The first lady, who was wearing a powder pink felt coat and had a hint of pink in her white permed hair, walked slowly to the counter. The other lady dressed in a pale blue felt coat and with blue wisps in her white hair, went over to the blind man.

Roy watched, wondering if they were twins or sisters or friends.

The waitress appeared at the counter, talked to Iris or Lilly then picked up a phone.

The old lady went back to her sister or friend and after saying goodbye to Mark and his dog, headed for the door.

Roy braced himself to feel the bite of the wind as the door opened but he was sat far enough away that he felt just a whisper of the chilly wet air. He picked up his tea and took a few sips, feeling warmth sinking into him.

The girl appeared at his side and placed two plates down, one had two slices of bread and small pot of butter, the other held his fish and chips.

‘There you are. Is there anything else you need?’ she asked.

‘No, thank you,’ Roy answered.

With a single nod, the girl swept away and over to the blind man. She talked to him, no doubt saying she had ordered a taxi.

Roy arranged the plates of food how he wanted them then put salt and vinegar on his fish and chips. He picked up his knife and folk from the white napkin and started eating. It wasn’t the best meal he’d ever had but it tasted great today. The chips had just a crunch to their outside and were soft in the middle. The fish was lightly and crispy battered, soft and tender inside. With the added salt and vinegar the whole thing came together in one celebration in Roy’s mouth.

So distracted was he, Roy didn’t noticed the blind man leaving till he felt a touch of cold. Looking up and towards the door, he saw the man going out and the waitress helping him. She closed the door and hurried through the cafe into the warmth of the kitchen.

Alone, Roy took a moment to glance around then carried on eating. The fish was tasty, though the salt was drying out his lips and he had to keep licking them. He drink some more tea to help. Unable to stop, he ate quickly, forgotten how he’d built his hungry by a morning walk in the town, then along the edge of the beach and around the pier.

He was finished before he knew it. Pouring the last of the tea, Roy hugged the cup and listened to a rumble of thunder in the distance. He looked out of the window and though it was hard to think the weather had gotten worse, it seemed just that.

Roy finished his tea and sat relaxing for a few minutes. Coldness crept over him and he felt stiff in his legs and back from the plastic chair. Perhaps, it was just his imagination but he felt a slight rocking motion.

Getting up, he went to the counter and looked for the girl. A door labeled kitchen was open in the back wall and Roy could hear radio music more clearly now.

‘Hello? he called, his voice sounding loud in the empty cafe.

‘Coming,’ the girl called back.

She appeared, trying to turn a scowl into smile.

‘The bill, please. And if it’s not too much trouble could you phone me a taxi?’

‘Here you go, the girl said and handed him a slip of paper, ‘and yes, I can. Where are you going too?’

‘To the Mermaid Hotel,’ Roy replied as he dug out his wallet.

The girl took his money and made the call. He listened as she said the address of the cafe and the hotel. She hung up the phone and turned back to him, ‘The taxi will be a few minutes and pick you up from the pier enterence.’

‘Thanks,’ Roy answered, he added a ‘goodbye,’ and went to the door.

Preparing to step out into the storm, Roy took a deep breath and opened the door. Rain that felt solid hit him and the strong wind tried to force him back. Roy wrestled with the elements, hurried out and back along the pier.

‘It is swaying!’ he cried.

Daringly, he looked over the safety rail and saw the sea waves arching upwards around the wooden supports. Imagines of the pier collapsing, the buildings crashing down and himself thrown into those violent waves flashed through his mind.

Panicked, Roy ran off the pier, slipping on the wet boards and dodging the small buildings and stalls that were dotted around. He made it safely to the enterence which was an indoor hallway connecting the street to the pier.

Huddling inside there, water dripping everywhere, Roy looked out for his taxi. A rumble of thunder made him jump then laughing loudly, Roy let all his fear go. Of course, the pier was moving! It was built to do so! How else would a wood and iron structure survive the sea? And the storm was only that and nothing to be scared over.

A red car pulled up outside, horn blaring.

Roy opened the door, walked out and got into the taxi.

‘The Mermaid Hotel,’ he said to the reflection of the driver’s face in the rear view mirror.

‘Right O,’ the driver spoke and peeled the car away.