The Wasp

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The family had a picnic under the tree. They munched on sandwiches and cake whilst  sipping ice lemonade.

A buzzing alerted mother to the wasps, she waved one away. Father tried to swat another with his newspaper. Then the baby cried as a wasp landed on him.

Then the whole swarm come down! Wasps crawled in the cake’s icing, crept on the sandwiches and fell into the bottle of lemonade. They buzzed around, eager to feast on a picnic they had not been invited too.

Abandoning things, mother gripped baby and father the other two children, they all rushed back to the car and locked themselves inside hoping the wasps didn’t follow them.

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St. Mary’s Retreat

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St. Mary’s Retreat was miles away from the tiny town of Brogan, hidden in the mountains and the forest that surrounded them. No one went up there anymore, there was no need, expect for the brave teenagers who wanted a scare.

I was walking around the old stomping ground, having been away from Brogan for almost ten years. I had grown up here, an orphan kid angry at everything and the memories were painful.

Somehow, my feet took me to St. Mary’s whilst my thoughts went back into the past. A crow startled from a tree, brought me back and I stopped and looked around. Through the thick foliage, I could see a complex of abandoned buildings and a small church.

Smiling, I walked towards them. The buildings looked intact but rotting away. Windows and doors were smashed in. There was graffiti on the walls and remains of furniture about. I toed bits and pieces, turning things over, it was mostly building material. Everything could have been salvaged had been removed and the rest broken by teens.

I found a wooden cross still attached to a paint peeling wall. A sharp memory came back to me. When I was seven, St. Mary’s had recently been vacated by the nuns who had lived here for forty-odd years. They had been using the place as a retreat for old and ill nuns who couldn’t do they duties anymore.

Before then and originally, the area had been a holiday retreat. Which explained why there there was a bar, tennis court and a swimming pool. The nuns had the church built which is why it looked more newer then the other buildings.

I walked outside and found myself at the pool side. It was drained of water, expect for the rain which had gathered at the deep end. There was so much scum on the surface it was hard to tell how deep it was.

A story came into my mind, one of those scary ghost tales that children love to tell. I had forgotten about it but seeing the pool reminded me;

One day, a new nun came to St. Mary’s Retreat. She was young and sad. She was kept in isolation from the others. The head nun claimed ‘the child, had an infectiousness disease.’ but this was far from the truth.

Somehow and unbeknown to the young nun she had become pregnant. A lot of people had tried to find out what had happened but the nun stuck by her words and started claiming like Mary in the bible, an angel had come and told her she was to carry the next Christ. No one believed her and she was cast out to the retreat to have the baby in secret.

The nun give birth to a boy all alone in the middle of the night. She looked at him and realised he was the Antichrist. Wrapping him in a Holy sheet, she took him outside and walked into the swimming pool which then was still full.

In the morning, the nuns found her and the baby dead, floating in the water.

From then on every night at the pool side, the crying of a baby could be heard and the ghost of the nun was seen.

And that’s why the nuns had to leave because the ghosts were haunting them and no blessing or anything else they tried would get the spirits to move on.

Of course, we had all believed it then but now, I wasn’t sure it could have happened. Walking down into the pool itself, I want to edge of the collected water and looked into it. There was a rotten vegetation smell from the dead leaves and other decay. There was a stillness too, that I didn’t like.

I found a large fallen branch and began to poke about in the water. I was bored.

What was I doing here? What was I looking for?

Clearly, a part of me was still looking for answers. I had been abandoned here as a day old baby, left on the doorstep in a box. The nuns had taken me in but a year later, I went into foster care then was adopted by a childless couple in Brogan. They had been good parents whilst I had been a difficult child.

I had come to the the retreat many times as a teenager, I had always known this was where my life had began. Perhaps, then the story of a pregnant nun had been true? Maybe, she hadn’t tried to drown me but had dead some other way and the nuns had always planned to get me adopted anyway?

Was I the Antichrist? How would I know? Frowning, I tried to wonder if I felt any different and if anything in my past could give me an answer to that. But I wasn’t sure, I wasn’t religious, didn’t believe in such things nor did I believe in the supernatural. Surely, if I was evil, I would know about it.

I signed, threw the branch into the water and got out of the swimming pool. Walking back through the buildings and towards the road that brought me here, I knew I’d never find out who had given birth to me and what had happened to them. I turned back, seeing the edge of the swimming pool from a broken window.

But what if that childhood ghost story had been true? All stories had to come from somewhere and what if mine had really began here?

Roots #WritePhoto

They say family roots run deep but how does that apply to an orphan? Especially one in his fifties who’s only just found out that his parents weren’t actually his.

Sitting down in the root maze, under my favorite trio of trees in the park, my thoughts were clouded by betrayal and lies. My ‘parents’ had never told me and now they had both passed, the lawyer had been the one to break the news.

Sitting in the leather chair, a huge desk between us, I had read the looks on the lawyer’s face and decided he was going to tell me some super bad news. Like; ‘your parents had nothing to leave you. Or your parents left everything to a cat charity.’ But no, it was; ‘James you are adopted. Margret and William were not your biological parents.’

I didn’t know what to say or then did he have the right family? Was this the last joke of my father? Funny man he was, always up for a laugh and a prank. But no, it was all true. Here was accounts from a police officer and social services and newspaper cuttings too; Baby Boy Found Abandoned In Park; Police Appeal For Parents To Come Forward. 

The lawyer said no one knows who my parents were but Margret and William created a paper trail if I wanted to try and find out. The lawyer give me a box file then my not parents’ house, money and everything else. I left numb and not sure what else to do I came to the park and the trio trees.

Reading through the some of the papers, it interested me to note that I was actually found close to here, in a yellow blanket. Perhaps, that’s why I had always been drawn to here or maybe it was just one of those things. Whatever it was, wasn’t important right now.

I felt myself slipping away, everything I had known no longer felt true. Who actually was I? I felt like an actor playing the role of James McBride who had forgotten his true self.

I shoved everything back into the box file and looked up. The sunlight was dancing through the leaves of the trees, like disco lights. I shut my eyes.

I was still me.

My parentage didn’t change anything.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/05/09/thursday-photo-prompt-rooted-writephoto/ with thanks).

Joyance #AtoZChallenge

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Joyance;  feel joy and gladness. 

Years of trying, giving up hope, deciding to forget it. The test positive; my world change with the touch of your tiny hand.

Post It Note Short

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Jelly didn’t set. Don’t know why. Baby upset, gone shops to buy ready made. Why am I a bad cook?

Christmas Eve

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The church bells rang out signalling the start of midnight mass. People walked or drove  over, some carrying presents or boxes of food for the poor. Snowflakes fluttered from the dark sky whilst fairy lights everywhere twinkled warmly. The fresh air was mingled with the scents of pine, hot cooking and frankincense.

In the church they gathered, singing hymns and saying prays by the flickering candle light. They celebrated the birth of a baby thousands of years ago that they believed changed the world for the better. With hearts full of joy and wonder, they wished for a Christmas of peace.

The Loneliest Day

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The phone rang, Jen tutted and abandoned the cake batter she had been mixing to answer it. It was probably a cold caller and she should just let the answer machine get it but she had finally got month old baby Louis down for his afternoon nap and didn’t want anything disturbing him.

‘Hello?’ Jen said into the phone.

‘Hi, it’s only me,’ her husband, Mike spoke, ‘I tried your mobile. I thought you might be a sleep.’

‘No,’ Jen replied with a sign, ‘I was in the kitchen.’

‘Okay. I just wanted to let you know I’m not sure what time I’ll be home,’ Mike explained, ‘there’s been a full office computer crash. Some idiot downloaded a virus yesterday and it’s super bad. I’m not letting anyone from the IT department leave till we’ve fixed it.’

‘I see,’ Jen uttered.

‘I’ll get something to eat on the way home. Don’t wait up for me, you still need to rest as much as possible.’

Jen nodded.

‘How is Louis?’ Mike asked.

‘Good. He’s sleeping now and he drink a full bottle before.’

‘Super! I got to go. Got the big boss at my throat. See you later, Honey.’

‘Bye,’ Jen said as the ring tone beeped in her ear.

She hung the phone up then stared at it. Why did things like that had to happened? Jen hugged herself and tried not to let the silence of the house get to her. Feeling a slight chill, she moved back into the warmth of the kitchen.

There in the bright lights, surround by cooking equipment and ingredients she could pretend that everything was normal again. Busying herself with finishing off mixing the cake batter, she was just about to divided it into the paper cupcake cases with a baby’s cry came from the living room.

Jen paused and tried not to rush off. Hoping, he would stop and settle again, She began scooping batter into the cases. She made it to four then give in and went into the living room.

‘I’m coming, Louis,’ she called.

Jen stood over pram then picked Louis up. She mumbled things to him and snuggled him. Then realised he needed changing and went and did that. Wrapping him up again, she tried to get him back to sleep but he seemed too awake. Placing him into the pram again, she wheeled him into the kitchen and parked him up.

Finishing dividing the cake mix, she placed the tray into the oven and set the timer. Washing her hands, she tidied everything up then wondered what to do next. On the counter was a pack of spaghetti and a jar of bolognese sauce, this evening dinner.

‘We won’t be needing this now,’ Jen said aloud and put them away, ‘I’ll have some soup instead and you can have some more milk.’

Louis made a moaning sound and Jen checked on him. He had taken both scratch mitts off again.

‘How do you do that?’ Jen wondered.

She put the mitts back on and wheeled him back into the living room. There, she put the TV back and set the channel to one with afternoon game shows as had became her habit. Picking up Louis, she sat cuddling him on the sofa. He dozed on and off then wanted feeding again.

The timer went off whilst she was feeding him and Jen, who hadn’t mastered juggling a baby and other things yet, had to place him down and go to get the cakes out. Louis started crying and her repeatedly tell him she was coming right back had no effect. Cakes out and left to cool, she washed her hands and hurried back to breast feeding him.

Settled again, Jen felt waves of tiredness drifting over her. Louis was a heavy, hot, soft bundle in her arms. The house was warmer now as the heating had come on. Rain was tapping against the windows and even though it was almost four o’clock, night had rolled in.

Realising, she should close the curtains, Jen got up careful and placed Louis in his pram again. She went over to the window and looked out. The street lamps were on and there were cars and people outside. A front door across the road was open, light pooling out and two people were stood in the glow.

A stab of loneliness hit Jen. Her hands slipped from the curtains. She had been ill throughout the whole of her pregnancy and had to have time off work sick then take early maternity leave. Luckily, she and Louis had got through the birth fine, but Jen was recovering and hadn’t left the house much in the last ten months now.

Family and friends had been regularly visitors throughout those months and Jen was grateful for those mornings and afternoons spent with in their company but the mid-week period was the worse time. It was just her and Louis for eight or nine hours whilst Mike was a work and everyone else was too busy.

Jen closed the curtains and tried to get rid of the dreadful feeling filling her up. She checked on Louis who was fast asleep then went into the kitchen. She ate one of the just cooled cakes and made herself a cup of tea.

To help focus herself, Jen thought about plans for the next few weeks. After her last hospital check up, she would started to go out more. She had seen a mums and babies play group advertised at a local church on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. There was also baby swimming on Monday and Friday mornings at the sport centre. On Wednesdays there was the lunch club at her work that she could take Louis too as well.

‘See? You are going to be fine,’ Jen said aloud, ‘just get better.’

Grabbing another cake and her cup of tea, Jen went back to the sofa. Adverts were flashing on the TV and Jen got ready to watch the next quiz show, feeling that little bit better.

Bakery Dog #FFfAW

The little dog popping out of a pink doughnut had been the cake topper on her first birthday. Her mother had kept it as a token, all these years. Betty smiled and placed the dog on top of a glazed pink sponge cake.

Lighting the single candle, she carried the cake into the dinning room and the awaiting crowd of family gathered there. She placed the cake before her first grandchild, who was sat in the arms of her daughter.

Betty still couldn’t believe and she knew her parents would be proud of her now.

 

(Inspired by; https://flashfictionforaspiringwriters.wordpress.com/2018/08/27/fffaw-challenge-180th/ with thanks.)

 

Caught #WritePhoto

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The morning sun shone through the hole of the bending tree. The wood cutter looked up, shielding his eyes from the glare. He could see the rays of light exploding against the tree’s trunk. It’s a blessing, he thought, shifting his hand on the handle of his axe as he said his thanks to the sun god and the goddess of nature.

The wood cutter continued his walk into the forest, feeling like today was going to be good. He approached the first tree he planned to cut down in the small clearing. He begin chopping, the sounds of his axe startling birds into the sky and echoing in the other trees.

He was about halfway through the trunk when he heard the crying. He was about to swing again but the noise paused his movement. He listened and realised it was a baby. Lowering his axe, he followed the sound to the other side of the clearing and spotted a wicker basket poking out from under a bush.

Putting his axe down, he pulled the basket it towards himself and and saw in the wrapped in a blanket, a baby boy.

‘I was right!’ the wood cutter cried, ‘today is a blessed day.’

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/08/23/thursday-photo-prompt-caught-writephoto/ with thanks).

Dear Diary #47

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Dear Diary,

Strange things have been happening in the new house. I’ve not really had the time to write since our first night because we’ve been busy unpacking and buying things.

It’s four days later now and expect for the first night, though of course something could have happen but we were too tried to notice, something has been going on.

The second night, soon after midnight when I had put baby back to sleep again, I heard noises in the quietness. It sounded like someone moving things in the attic – a wooden trunk bring dragged and footsteps.

I woke Blaine up but we heard nothing. A few hours later, I heard a soft crying and woke up thinking it was Poppy, but she was fast asleep.

The next day, our second full day in the house, I went out with Poppy for a walk. Blaine had returned to work but I still had another month on maternity.

The park across the road is really nice. The duck pond is clean and the ducks even look posh. Is that an actual thing? Maybe, it’s because there were two white swans gliding about.

There were large patches of grass and trees, two playgrounds, sport areas and a skateboard bowl. From across the way, came the sound of children playing and I could just make out the primary school behind the high hedges.

When we got home, I knew something was wrong. I closed the door, took Poppy straight from her pram and walked through the house. The back door in the kitchen was slightly ajar.

Thinking someone had broken in, I went over and found that perhaps, I hadn’t locked the door and the wind had pushed it open. The back garden gate was secure and the fence too high for someone to climb over.

Then though, I found all the upstairs doors open and I knew I had closed them. Nothing seemed to have been taken. I told Blaine and we agreed to get all the locks changed and things secured.

That night, I heard things moving in the kitchen. It didn’t sound like a person though, it seemed to be more like the wind rustling things and making stuff creak. Trying to remember if I’d left the window open, I went downstairs and there wasn’t anything. I had left the light on and the window was closed.

Poppy was awake when I got back, wanting changing and feeding. Blaine slept on and I let him, I know how tried he was having to juggle being a new dad, having a new job and having to move.

I tried to get to sleep again but I don’t know. I just felt too awake which is strange as since weeks before Poppy arrived I’ve been so exhausted. I listened to the noises of the house, water dripping somewhere, pipes rattling, a door creaking, the stairs creaking, a door handle rattling…

I sat up and listened hard. Perhaps, it had been nothing. There are lots of noises in a new house. but I just have this feeling that it’s not just that…

I don’t know. I don’t believe in ghosts, I don’t even like watching horror movies or reading stories. I don’t have time for such nonsense. It’s properly just a side effect of the tiredness and stress. In a few months, it’ll just be normal and the house will feel like it’s always been ours, at least, I hope so.