Be A Better Person

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It had been a rough year. Everything that could have gone wrong had. Normally people have bad days and weeks, but for me things had kept spiraling. Now, I was forcing things to be up again. So far it was working.

I guess there weren’t many people who didn’t know about my struggles which is why I had no idea who left the handmade postcard in my diary. It had to be someone at work because I’d not left my diary unattended anywhere else.

There were no clues on the card though. It simple said two things. ‘Better’ on the front in bold bright letters and ‘Be a better person’ on the other side in bright blue. It had been printed off a computer, so there was no handwriting to go off.

I sat at my desk, holding the postcard in both my hands and staring at it. The office chatter had died down as it was lunchtime. A few people were still working away but they are all too far in the background.

‘Be a better person,’ I said aloud, just to make sure I had read the words.

What a strange thing to say.

It didn’t feel motivational or inspiring.

I stuck the postcard next to my computer screen and looked at it. My mind was reflecting on what someone was trying to tell me.

My moods and behavior hadn’t been good lately, but that was understandable. My husband’s affair, the divorce, finding out his new wife had given him the baby I never could have, my dog dying, the car crash and month in hospital, almost losing my job and house. Did that make it reasonable that I’d become an emotional and mental wreak?

The word “better” was sticking with me. Why not strong? or powerful or something else. Of course they could mean it in the get well sense, but even then….

I picked up the postcard and tugged it back into my diary. It was just too distracting.

Oh well….At least whoever left it meant well…..

 

(Please note this is a work of fiction. None of it reflects my real life.)

Shelter

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It was the only place he could find to get out of the rain. Huddling into a corner, he made himself as warm and comfy as possible. He had already checked out the place and made sure no one else was in residence. The corner he had picked was also the best one. It was a large dry spot and he had clear views of the two doorways into the house.

He looked up and watched the rain falling in. The roof had long ago tumbled in, though the attic and floor above, creating a massive hole in the middle of the house. There were bits of roof tile, bricks, plaster and rubbish scattered around. He hadn’t seen any furniture and guessed the house had been well cleared out over the years.

He rested his head down and listened to the patter of the rain. Oddly he felt like an intruder. This had been someone’s home once. A place of love and safety. It had seemed nice too, a good place to bring up a family. Where had they gone though? What had made them move out?

Trying to dispel those thoughts- what did he care?- He settled for sleep. He began counting sheep jumping over a fence as was habit. He pictured each sheep differently as an individual as his father had taught him. Something about how that helps you fall asleep better.

With the lullaby of the rain, he fell asleep and dreamed of his childhood which he hadn’t thought about in years.

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The river was good at keeping secrets. Though sometimes it decided to give them up; a broken arrow from a hunt, a lost ring from a lovers’ quarrel, a human body. A few secrets though, it would never give up.

 

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/05/11/thursday-photo-prompt-green-writephoto/ with thanks)

The Wall

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I was typing away that night as normal then the next second nothing. My fingers stopped moving, my mind shut down and I slowly slipped from my chair. I remember that, but only because I saw it like I was watching it happen to someone else.

I was sat on the floor for a long time, staring but not seeing, not thinking anything, just like a robot that had been turned off. I must have lay down at some point and shut my eyes because when I woke the night had passed and sunlight was coming in through the small Tutor windows.

My back and limbs were stiff from laying on the four hundred year old floor. I got up feeling numb tingles throughout my body, I stretched and wondered what had happened. Had I fallen asleep working again? That wasn’t uncommon.

Getting up, on unsteady legs and went to my desk. There was still a piece of paper in the type writer. Not like me at all. I sat down and looked at it but I couldn’t read the writing. It was like it was in another language. I pulled the paper out and looked at it harder, but I still couldn’t read it.

I turned to the last full page I had wrote and scanned through it. Once again though, I had the same problem. I couldn’t understand the words! Placing the paper down, I got up again and hobbled from the room. I went downstairs and into the bathroom.

After that and having something to eat in the kitchen. I took a walk in my garden then in the village. All the houses here dated from Tutor times and in the late spring sun shine they looked like zebras on a grassy plain.

I went back home and sat at my desk again. The words on the page made more sense. I tried to carry on were I’d left off, but nothing happened. No words formed in my head and my fingers didn’t move on the keys.

Something was wrong.

I shut my eyes and thought about my novel. I called the characters out and pictured the plot I was weaving, but nothing came.

I opened my eyes again and realised I had hit the wall.

 

Sundays

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The only thing Sundays are good for is laying in bed, reading books and drinking tea.

Somewhere On The Beach

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The beach was empty which was strange for a warm, sunny day. Normally tourists flocked here to see the famous natural rock sculptures. Clearly everyone had better things to do today and I wished I had too.

Trekking down to the beach and towards the rock formation known as the Rhino, I let my troubles consume me. The sand was damp under my feet and my footprints were deep, but I was wearing strong water proof boots, so my feet stayed dry. I heard the sea in the distance, it was far out in front of me and the waves were rolling gently against the sand. The air smelt of spring grasses and salt. Seagulls squawked and circled in the sky, the only other sound to be heard.

I had no reason for being here. The urge to visit the Rhino had come from boredom. If I had a dog that would be my excuse. Maybe I needed to get one? Not a big bounding beast, just a small friendly creature, who wouldn’t give me too much fuss. I had never been animal person though.

The grey and white layered rock rose before me. The top point must have been thirty feet high and there was a thick covering of moss, seaweed and other plants. From the distance, it did look like a rhino eating a chunk of grass, but as you got right up it just looked like a interesting shaped rock; worn over the years by the sea and nature.

I lazily explored the rock pools that gathered in the base of the Rhino. There were a few small crabs, starfish and other things that were surviving in the pools till the sea came back in. Nothing greatly fascinating.

After, I found a dry place to sit on the rocks, looking out at the far away sea and straight of damp sandy beach. Sometimes, there’d be boats or surfers or swimmers to watch, but there was nothing today.

The oddness of that made my thoughts turn away from my troubles and to wondering what was going on. Maybe, the fact it was Monday morning didn’t help. No there was something else going on.

I got up and headed back to the wave breakers and the white fence that marked the start of the beach. Sand clung to my boots and the bottoms of my water proof trousers were wet. It felt like a long walk back. I wished I’d brought my ipod or my phone with me. I had left both hidden in my car though, wanting to be totally alone.

I made it back to the wall and the car park. Something fluttering in the breeze caught my eyes and I went over to it. Flowers, ribbons, cards and a teddy bear collected in a neat little pile. Someone had recently died. I looked at a few of the cards. They were in memory of a young man, but I couldn’t tell anything else from that.

Leaving my car, I went over to the row of shops across the road. It wasn’t holiday time and some of the little shops were closed. A cafe was open and as I walked in I went to a table with a newspaper on it. I sat down and picked it up. On the front page was a report about a young man who had fallen off a boat yesterday and drowned.

That’s why the beach had been empty.

Apple

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I knew a girl called Apple once. We went to first school together and I use to admire her from a far. It was more then a crush, I was in love, but I was only seven and didn’t understand all of that. I’d watch her in the playground has she skipped rope or kicked a football.

I’d sneak looks at her in class too, though we sat at opposite ends of the room. She was on the red circle table with the rest of the clever kids. I was on the green square table with the dumb kids. In-between us, I think were yellow triangles, blue rectangles and purple hexagons. Apple liked art, maths and science. The opposite of me as I liked; writing, reading and lunchtime.

Apple was pretty and her clothes were always clean and new. She had fair skin, bright blue eyes and blonde hair which was in two pigtail plaits. She never had any cuts of bruises on her legs and arms. Her socks were shocking white and her black buck shoes shinny. Everyone loved her and wanted to be her friend.

I was the ugly duckling of the class. I was short and fat with choppy black hair and dark brown eyes. All my clothes and shoes were old second hand ones. I seemed to have a new bruise or cut every week thanks to my fighting with my older brothers or the many animals we had. I was always mistaken for a boy too and for many years I believed it was so, even though I was a girl.

I don’t think Apple and I ever talked or played together. We lived in two different worlds and even at that age, I could see that. I was jealous of her, especially when she got invited to parties or when she was giving out invites for her parties. I never got invited to anything, at least I don’t remember if I did.

I spent a lot of school being alone. I had a few friends, but they were too much like me and nothing like Apple, who I wished I could be. I couldn’t find the courage to talk to her though. The fear of being further rejected hung too heavy over me. I hoped maybe we’d be grouped together to do project work or else when the tables were remixed in the new school year, we’d be sat together.

It seemed fate kept us apart and then we moved on to big school, we went to different ones and I never saw Apple again. I hoped and daydreamed I’d see her again. Maybe, she’d transfer to my school or I to her’s? Perhaps, we’d meet again in college or uni? but no, Apple vanished from my world.

She lingers still in my mind though. On nights I can’t sleep when I’m alone in bed because my wife is working away, I think of Apple. I think of what could have been if only we had meet again or when we both had been older. Would Apple have loved me as much as I had loved her?

Smoke Flare

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It was his only hope, his final chance to be saved. He lit the last flare and held it high above his head, praying that someone would spot him on this uninhabited island.

 

(Inspired from; https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/57964385/posts/1452260479 with thanks)

Drifting

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She was drifting on a sea of dreams to lands unknown.

Voices

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I had always know my son, Caleb was different. How often had I stood at the kitchen window watching him talking and playing with someone who wasn’t there? I had blamed it on imagination. He was an adventurous child, forever wanting to do things and chatting away.

He had a normal up bring. Yes, he was an only child but his father and I were happily married. We did lots of family things together and with both of us being teachers, we had Caleb embrace education. He was perfectly fine in school too, always getting high grades and having lots of friends. He was healthy and loved sports.

Under that though, there had always just been something…

When he was twelve he still had imaginary friends. He could be playing in his bedroom, the garden or at the park and you could hear him talking aloud. It would seem at first he was talking to someone, an adult or another child, but then you just knew he was talking to himself.

‘Who is it you are talking too?’ I asked him one summer’s day.

Caleb was sitting on the lawn, a few toys scattered around him and I was hanging out the washing. It was the summer holidays and though we normally send him to a summer school or camp to be with other children, he had refused to go this year.

He turned to me, a toy tank in his hand and looked up through his choppy fringe which needed cutting.

‘No one,’ he replied.

‘You’re too old for imaginary friends now,’ I pointed out.

‘They’re not imaginary,’ he muttered and went back to playing.

‘Oh, then who are they? Are you on the phone?’ I asked.

‘No. I’m thirsty. Can I have a drink please, mum?’

‘Okay,’ I said slowly.

Pegging the last sock on the line, I walked back into the house. From behind me, I heard Caleb whisper, ‘she’s going now. Tell me more about the War.’

I almost turned around but I didn’t. I made him a glass of orange squash and took it outside. He was playing like a normal child, rolling his tank over the grass and making gun like noises as he reacted a battle with his toy soldiers.

Of course, I then spoke to his father, his teachers, the parents of his friends and they had for years noticed the same thing that I had; Caleb was seemingly talking to someone all the time. The idea that he should’ve grown out of that by now stuck with me and I became determined to figure out what was wrong with him.

Finally two years later, I got him in to see someone from the mental health, but Caleb wouldn’t talk. We had maybe four sessions then that was it. For awhile after, I thought it had worked, he was quiet and sullen, a typical fourteen year old most would say. It wasn’t the truth though.

Instead of finding hidden adult materiel in his room, I began finding notebooks filled with what seemed to be stories and conversations. There was no title or dates, just a run on of writing. The stories covered lots of different time periods. There was one about a WW2 fighter pilot, who was blown out of his plane over Germany spent the rest of the War as a POW. Another, told of a little boy who was tricked into going down into a well and died there when he became trapped.

I put the notebooks back every time and I tried to bring them up in conventions without reveling I knew about them. Caleb shrugged it off, ignoring my suggests that he was interested in writing and journalism.  I had to let it go in the end.

Caleb made it through high school and college. He got top of the class grades and he went on to a good university to study to be a teacher. We were both proud of him. When he moved out though, the house became empty, almost sad like. We got by though. Work kept us both busy and we were looking into fostering and maybe adoption.

The news hit out of no where, almost three years after that, just as Caleb was doing his finals. I was sat in my headmistress’ office, reading emails when the phone rang. I picked it up like normal, thinking it a call from a parent or teacher etc, but it was Caleb’s university tutor telling me that Caleb had been found dead in his student room. He had hung himself three days ago.

A strange feeling went though me, it was like sand slipping through my fingers in slow motion. The tutor’s voice sounded dim and everything around me had begun to fade. I couldn’t think clearly. I dropped the phone and just sat there.

We had to go and pack up his student room. I was running on automatic and so we just moved his stuff back into his bedroom. I just kept thinking that Caleb had moved back in and he was out with his friends. It was months, maybe close to a year before we actually went through all of his things.

Sitting on Caleb’s bedroom floor, sorting things out into piles, my husband and I worked in silence. It was raining heavily outside and the wind was rattling the windows. A storm was on its’ way. I dug through a cardboard box and began pulling things out.

In a handful of notebooks and even in between his uni notes, he had written strange stories and conversations which so reminded me of the notebooks I had found when he was younger. These were not like any stories he had written before though. They were horrible, filled with violence and death.

I found a diary. It was a fake black leather covered A5 size with lined pages for each date. I had never known him to keep one before and as I flipped through the pages, I saw he had written about hearing voices in his head. Some days were blank or he’d simple put;

I didn’t hear any voices today. 

On other days he had written things like;

A voice told me a new story today. I wrote it down, like I do with all of them. These voices are more then just those of fiction characters. They are so real. Maybe they are ghosts? I’ve never believed in that though. But how else can they be explained? 

Then about four months before his death, I found this;

The voices were bad today. I have one at the moment that keeps telling me to kill myself. I’m fighting it like I do with all the others but it’s so strong. It doesn’t seem to have a story or talk to me like the others. It questions if I’m good enough and what’s the point and that every will be better if I just pick up the knife and bleed.

I shall try to contain it. I know what the voice is saying is wrong.

Two months later, Caleb had wrote;

The “suicidal voice” has gotten worse. I can’t sleep and I’m not eating much. The voice has taken over and it’s constantly whispering to me. It tells me over and over to kill myself. It says pain is good and so is blood. My life is pointless, I’m useless, nobody loves me or wants me. I can’t think of anything else but that voice.

All the other voices have gone now. They have vanished and even if I try to think about them and speak to them, I can’t. The “suicidal voice” blocks them all. I don’t know what to do. I need to tell someone. I need help. But what can I say? I’ve been hearing voices all my life, Doctor and now I’ve got this voice repeatedly telling me to kill myself. No one will believe me!

I felt tears running down my face. My husband was saying my name but I ignored him and turned to the last page my son had written on. He had put;

I can’t cope any more! Everything I’ve tried hasn’t worked! Listening to the voice is the only choice I’ve got now. I’m going to do it tonight. 

I pressed the pages to my face and burst into tears. My son had been a schizophrenic and no one had ever known about it.

(Story inspired by local research into hearing voices at Manchester University  https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/research/projectdetails/?ID=3083)