Camp #WhatPegmanSaw

During the summer, the school’s headmaster would go away. Worn down and stressed, he found escaping to the hills and spending time in complete isolation and nature the best to recover.

He pitched a tent, created a fire, built extra shelter from fallen branches and ferns around his camp site. During the daytime, he walked the hills, fished, set rabbit traps and collect edible fruits, plants and fungi. Later, he cooked what he’d caught and had supper.

At night he fell sleep, lulled by rain, wind and animals’ calls, knowing when he woke there was nothing to worry over.

 

(Inspired by; https://whatpegmansaw.com/2019/08/03/black-hills-south-dakota/ with thanks).

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Visit #TaleWeaver

cacti-chinese-money-plant-environment-1657108

I hadn’t seen my great aunt Sophia in five years because I had been travelling the world and Sophia only had a landline phone. So, I thought it would be nice to go and spend sometime with her. She was my oldest relative and I loved hearing the stories of her life, family members and past friends.

Great aunt Sophia’s cottage hadn’t changed. There were roses, honeysuckle and jasmine growing up the house towards the thatched roof. There were loads of other flowers and plants in the front garden which reminded me of being in a gardening shop. There was actual a sign with faded words on it declaring Plants for sale on the front gate.

I walked up the path and knocked on the door with the iron knocker. How many times had I ran around this cottage, laughing and chasing butterflies? So many of my summers had been spent out here as my parents, who worked difficult, long hour jobs in London had used great aunt Sophia as a nanny.

‘Sophia? It’s me, Hattie! Are you home?’ I called out.

I tried the door and found it locked.

Dumping my heavy hiking bag, suitcase and duffel bag on the doorstep, I walked around the side of the cottage. The back garden was a huge acre lawn with large trees dotted about to give shady patches and at the sides were long flower beds containing all kinds of bright, sweet smelling blooms, wild flowers and small evergreen plants.

There was no path across the lawn, so I walked on the grass down to the bottom, where half hidden by a weeping willow was a large Victorian glass and iron greenhouse. The door was open and I stuck my head inside to call out, ‘great aunt Sophia? It’s Hattie.’

‘Who?’ a soft, old voice spoke.

I entered the greenhouse, heat wrapped around me, catching my breath and making it harder to breath. Long leaf tropical plants brushed my face and arms, making me feel like I had walked through spiderwebs. Narrow bench tables ran down in rows though here and there, a rickety table or a massive plant pot sat.

Slipping through a gap, I saw a white haired and hunched woman in her late eighties, sitting on a old wooden chair, looking around confused. Sophia was so much older then I had last seen her, there were more wrinkles, her skin was too tanned with sunlight, her eyes looked duller, her hair shorter but she was still great aunt Sophia. She was wearing a pale blue summer dress with a white lacy trim.

‘Your only grandniece, Henrietta. Hattie. Hat. We spoke on the phone this morning, auntie Sophia. Remember?’

Sophia stared at me, taking in my boy short brown hair, sun kissed skin, my too thin but muscular body, the torn jean shorts and white crop top I was wearing.

‘Ah! Hat!’ Sophia cried.

She struggled to take off the thick gardening gloves she had on.

‘Here,’ I said and helped her take them off.

‘I was just repotting these baby cacti,’ she replied.

I looked at the tray she had been working on and saw lots of new cacti in tiny brown plastic pots. There was a mix of different kinds; some looked like little tufts of fluff, others was straight and tall, there were round pin cushions, some had different colour ‘buds’ on them.

Behind the tray, more cacti grew and some were quite big having been in the greenhouse for more then forty years. I realised we were standing in cacti corner and the familiarity of it made me feel right at home.

‘You should have seen some of the cacti I saw in America! They were huge!’ I spoke.

‘Is that where you’ve been, Hat?’ Sophia asked.

I nodded, ‘I went to California, Texas, Arizona, Washington D.C, New York and Louisiana.’

‘All of those?’

‘Yes. I’ve been to other counties too. Canada, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand and Italy.’

‘Your parents funded it?’ Sophia asked, knowing it was true.

‘Mostly. I did work in a few places. I taught English.’

Sophia patted my hands, ‘I bet they were glad to get rid of you again.’

I sighed and decided not to get into that argument. It was a part of an old family feud; parents having children and not bring them up themselves; old traditions and rich fathers.

‘It’s too hot in here,’ I said, ‘let’s go in and I’ll make us afternoon tea.’

Sophia agreed and we left the greenhouse for the coolness of the cottage. In the kitchen, I found everything I needed to make a pot of old English tea, sandwiches, and small cakes. I brought everything into the living room which was soft and cosy.

Sophia was dozing in a large armchair and I took the other one. The windows were open and I could hear bees buzzing and smell the flowers outside.

I poured the tea and give Sophia a cup.

‘How are you?’ I asked, ‘have you been trying to go out?

Sophia glanced at the windows, ‘no,’ she replied.

I clutched my saucer and cup, wondering how to carry on this conversation. Great aunt Sophia had agoraphobia. No one knew for how many years she had suffered with it, she had had lots of treatment but nothing worked for long.

Now, it was so easy to blame it on her old age; she struggled walking and standing, she had bouts of confusion and she didn’t have many local family and friends to visit anymore.

‘And why would I want to?’ Sophia picked up, ‘the world is a bad place. I’m safe here and anyway my plants need me.’

I sighed and sipped my tea.

‘You must have seen the badness in your travels. I worried about you. I got all your postcards…’ Sophia trailed off and got up to go to the fireplace where there was a stack of postcards resting against the wall.

‘I saw lots of good and amazing things too. I got photographs to give you,’ I replied, ‘and I’m glad you got my postcards.’

Sophia sit down again, postcards in hand, she shuffled through them, looking at the imagines of all the different places.

‘Do you like them?’ I asked.

‘Yes. Very nice,’ Sophia replied, ‘where are you going to go next?’

‘Nowhere.’

‘You’re staying at home?’

‘I’m going to stay here and look after you,’ I said.

Sophia smiled but said, ‘I don’t need looking after, child!’

You do, I thought, instead I replied, ‘I meant help you out and stuff, like I did before.’

‘Right then. Those cacti still need potting. Off you go!’

I rolled my eyes, grabbed a cake and left the cottage for the greenhouse.

Somethings never change but I was happy to be back again.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2019/07/18/tale-weaver-232-july-18th-visit/ with thanks).

Shoot Out #CCC

high noon

My English village has a strange legend. There’s a field with a small pathway running by it called High Noon Lane. Back in the 1800’s, an American cowboy arrived looking for a money lender that had stiffed him. It’s said they meet in that field at twelve PM and shot each other dead. The area was then named after that event.

As children it was believable and we would reenact the dual. As an adult, the legend stuck with me and I liked to think it was true, though there was no historical proof.

 

(Inspired by; https://crimsonprose.wordpress.com/2019/03/20/crimsons-creative-challenge-19/ with thanks).

Awaiting The Muse

She was waiting for the muse to come and get her. The sun was warm on her back and the longish grass so nice between her toes. Or at least she imagined it to be so. She couldn’t actually see any grass or sunlight from where she sat in the front room of her house. The sky was gunmetal grey with threating rain and the rest of the view blocked by the large green bush.

She unwrapped another chocolate and put it in her mouth. A burst of orange took her by surprise then she turned her attention back to the urban exploring video she was watching online. A large American man was wondering through an abandoned mountain theme park. She would have been half interested if it didn’t feel as samey as others she had watched.

Switching back to the main computer screen, which displayed a virtual white page she thought about what to write. She was torn by not being in the mood and feeling slightly eager to spill her thoughts onto the page. Her fingers tapped against the keyboard then she waited for the muse to come.

The Unwanted Husband

The last thing she wanted was a husband, but that’s what Becky ended up with after the hen night. The whole event was a blur, but for a handful of flashes and the agonizing hangover. Becky rolled over in her double bed and her arm collided with a broad shoulder. Coming too fully, she scooted to the edge of the bed and threw the duvet away from herself and the other body.

The man groaned and rolled over, long black hair falling over his face and still shut eyes. Becky poked his nose, not sure if she was still dreaming. The man wrinkled up his face as if about to sneeze then changed his mind. Becky studied him closer. She didn’t recognise him and couldn’t recall any memory of seeing him before. However, this wasn’t the first time she’d had a late night stand and not known the details.

Shivering in a blast of cold air, she got up and went into the bathroom. Hopefully, the man would wake up and just leave, like she was use to and there’d be no further contact. Getting into the running shower, she let the burning water clear her skin and mind. As she reached for her strawberry body scrub and a wash cloth, she noticed the gold ring on her finger.

Frowning, she bought her left hand closer to her face and looked at the ring on her fourth finger. It wasn’t one of her own rings, she noticed nor was it the normal finger for her to wear anything on. She slipped it off easy and inspected it. There were no marks that she could make out and no memory came to her mind about where it had come from.

Becky placed it in the soap holder of the shower, so the ring wouldn’t get lost and carried on. She got out soon afterwards and dried off in a big fluffy pink towel. Wrapping it around herself, she padded back to her bedroom, hoping that the man had left. However, he was still in the bed as she stepped into the room. Ignoring him, she dressed in comfy jeans and a t-shirt and went to the front door. She unlocked it so his exited would be easier and went to make some coffee.

In the kitchen she also took some tablets for her headache and made some toast. Taking her coffee mug and plate into the living room, she turned on the TV and sit down. The news flickered on as she heard the shower start up again behind her. Twisting around, she tried to look through the living room door into the hallway, but she couldn’t see anything. Growling under her breath, she almost got to her feet to tell the unwanted stranger to just leave, but the clicking of the bathroom door stopped her.

No confrontations, just let him alone and he will leave soon enough, she told herself. Turning back to the TV, she had her breakfast and afterwards pulled a blanket around her shoulders and put a cushion in her lap. She hadn’t been paying any attention to the noises going on around her, preferring just to wait until her headache had cleared.

However as she was dozing, she felt eyes on her. Snapping too, she looked up and there was the man, dressed in a black shirt and trousers, holding one of her mugs in his hand. He was so tall and wide that he almost filled the doorway. His wet black hair was now swept back and she could see his handsome face. He had large blue eyes, plump pink lips forming a pleasant grin and a shadow of a beard covering his lower face.

Becky was on the verge of telling him to leave, when he held out something in his other hand and offered it to her.

‘Ya left it in the shower,’ he said in a thick American accent.

‘Wh-at?’ she stuttered, looking at the ring in his hand.

He came forward, placed his mug on the coffee table next to her’s and tried to give the ring to her, but Becky hid her hands in the blanket.

‘What’s wrong?’ he asked.

‘Stay away from me! Just leave, please,’ Becky half-shouted.

He paused, ‘Ya didn’t say that last night, Baby…’

‘Who are you?’ Becky questioned, trying to calm herself, though she was starting to feel hysterical.

‘Ya husband, Eric,’ he replied casually and as if it was the most natural thing to say to her.

‘No, no,’ Becky shouted and scrambled up from the sofa to stand before him, ‘I’m not married. God, that’s the last thing I want. My friend, Darla is the one getting married.’

‘Darla?’ Eric’s voice and face filled with confirmation.

Thank God for that! This is Darla’s husband, Becky sighed in relief, clearly he’s got us mixed up and since I’ve never meet him this makes more sense because Darla and I do look so alike. But…wait a minute.

‘Yeah, I know her. She’s my best friend’s fiancée. We were all out celebrating their last night of freedom,’ he chuckled, ‘that’s how we meet, by accident in a night club and I told ya about my Russian bride and how she’s jilted me at the alter two weeks ago.’

Becky shook her head, unable to take in what he was saying.

‘Ya felt sorry for me and said ya’d marry me,’ he added.

Eric grabbed her hand and slipped the ring onto her finger, before her reeling mind could register the movement.

‘I didn’t mean it, I was completely drunk!’ Becky screamed.

He grabbed her shoulders and rubbed her arms gently, ‘it didn’t seem that way to me. Even the Priest asked ya-’

‘Priest? I’m not religious, so there’s no way we can be officially married!’ Becky spit and yanked off the ring. She threw it at him and he caught it in both hands, ‘You’re lying! You’ve made this all up! Get out, Get!’ she screamed and flapped her arms at him.

Eric stumbled backwards and hit the wall. Desperate, half formed words tumbled out of his mouth as he tried to come up with some way to calm her down.

Becky flew out him with her fists, hitting him on the chest, arms and anywhere she could reach. The rage consumed her and she felt unable to stop, until Eric grabbed her wrists and shoved her away. Becky lost her balanced and tumbled to the floor.

‘Okay, okay!’ Eric yelled, ‘I’m sorry.’

Becky threw her hair out of her face and looked up at him through a film of tears.

‘It was just meant to be a joke. Darla and Noah asked me to trick you into thinking we had. I didn’t want to do it! But I…’ Eric trailed off and sank into the armchair that was next to him.

Becky pulled herself up from the floor and climbed onto the sofa, ‘why?’ she asked softly as she wiped the tears away and tried to compose herself again.

‘To cheer us both up, I guess,’ he answered and shrugged, ‘I wasn’t lyin’ about my fiancée nor about what ya said. I think they overheard us talking and set us up. I’m really sorry. I should go.’

He stood up and Becky listened to him gathering his things and going to the door. She bit her lip, which was already blooded and felt too guilty to let him leave like this. Slowly, she got up and moved after him. Though she was unsure what to say or why she needed to bother. Eric was at the front door, just opening it, when she appeared behind him. He made to turn towards her then stopped and went to go again.

‘I’m sorry too,’ she cut in.

He paused and turned to her.

‘I way over-reacted, but you understand why, right? Do you…want to finish your coffee? I’d like to hear more about what happened…if you want to that is?’

‘Sure,’ Eric responded and closed the door as he followed Becky back into the living room.