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.

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Toothsome #atozchallenge

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Toothsome; pleasing to the taste. 

It was a guilty pleasure of summer; ice cream on the beach. After months of being on a diet to fit perfectly into my bikini. The cold, sweet ice cream hit my tongue and I moaned quietly in pleasure. For a few seconds, I wondered if it was too sweet but then I swallowed and could only think about eating more.

I heard my boyfriend chuckling next to me and I glanced over at him as I went for another mouthful.

‘Diet broken?’ he asked, grinning at me.

All I could do was nod, my tongue sticky with ice cream.

‘I don’t mind you being a bit chubby,’ he added.

Shooting him a disgruntled look, I got back to enjoying my ice cream. There was nothing that could bet this cooling, sugar rush in my mouth. I shut my eyes and enjoyed the feeling in my mouth.

What was it about ice cream that made you feel so happy? And ice cream by the summer sea just made it more special. Maybe it was the sweet memories of childhood holidays? That small treat on a hot day?

Well whatever it was, it was worth breaking any diet for!

New Year’s Eve

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Standing on my best friend’s doorstep, looking up at the falling rain, I wondered how it had come to this. Another year was over and I didn’t want to let it go. So much had happened; good, bad and in-between. My mind jumped over the memories like snap shot photos and I was filled with happiness.

Sighing, I wondered how I was going to move on. It was a strange notion because nothing had actually changed nor would do in the coming weeks, expect for the dates. Why did I feel like this was such a big problem then? I rubbed my head and decided I was just being silly and I should let everything go.

The door opened behind me, party music and shouting voices drifted into the night. I turned around frowning and saw my boyfriend standing there.

‘It’s almost midnight. Come inside,’ he said.

‘No,’ I answered, ‘you come out here.’

I held my hand out and there was a moment where he almost pulled me in and I tried to pull him out. He stepped over to me and we held each other. Someone shouted out the number ‘ten,’ and other voices joined in the countdown.

Muttering the numbers under my breath, I drew my boyfriend closer and he started saying the numbers too. We were wrapped together, smiling at each other, breathing in the cold night air. Reaching ‘one,’ we kissed and welcomed in the new year.

 

 

Bonfire Sparks

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I hadn’t been feeling well all week but I wasn’t about to let it stop me from going to the bonfire night party.  I hadn’t been to one in years and the idea of seeing a professional firework display and spending the weekend with my boyfriend was just too good to miss.

Making sure I wrapped up warm and had everything I needed, we set off and walked to the park. There were huge crowds all ready and the smell of hot food swamped the air. I held my boyfriend’s hand tightly. We walked around, pushing our way through people who were gathering before a circled off area.

I saw they were waiting for the bonfire to be lit. I could see the pile of wood raising against the the dark sky. We found a place to stand and joined the crowed watching as some men light the kindling wood at the base. The flames were bright orange, red and yellow and they took to the dry wood quickly. Loud cracking and popping sounds joined the voices of the crowd.

We stayed for awhile, the fire growing and the heat becoming stronger. My boyfriend then moved us off to place where the fireworks display was going to be. There was all ready a mingling of people there, trying to get a good spot. That seemed silly to me because we’d able to see the fireworks from anywhere in the park. We stood before the rope and looked at the men who were doing some checks.

People began to press against us, loud voices and laughter surrounded us. I took deep breaths but it didn’t help. I felt unwell and just wanted to get out. I tugged my boyfriend’s arm and got him to lean down so I could tell him this.

He looked unhappy but we forced our way out of the crowds. We walked away and I felt better. The air was cleaner and cooler. We walked up a hill and joined a few other people who where there. Sitting down on our coats, he rubbed my back and talked softly to me. Thankfully, the tail end of my illness stayed to fade again.

The first firework screamed through the air and give off an ear shattering pop. I snapped my head up and the bright multi-colours dazzled me. Another firework shot up, exploding in front of the first and adding more colour to the sky.

‘Oh!’ I cried.

More fireworks went off, covering the sky in a wash of colours and deafening everyone with their music. I was enraptured and found it hard to take my eyes away. Then my boyfriend was calling me and tapping on my shoulder.

‘I’m watching this,’ I told him, unhappily.

‘I know, but I have to ask you something.’

I turned to him and noticed he was on one knee beside me. I frowned and then I spotted the small box in the palm of his hand. It was open and there was a silver ring glittering in the flashing lights.

‘Will you marry me?’ he asked.

The smile that light up my face was brighter then any firework that night.

Modern Love

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I liked the new girl. She was quiet, polite and hardworking, plus she knew how to be a receptionist unlike the last woman! She had been here three months now and we were a good team. Settling into lunch that day which sadly was a working lunch like the many we had to have due to staff shortages, she suddenly switched the conversation.

‘Emma? Can I asked you a personal question?’

‘Sure, Alia,’ I replied. There was nothing I liked better then talking about my life.

‘How did you met your boyfriend?’

I looked at her. She was dressed in her normal long black coat, floor touching black skirt, loose and long black top and a black hijab which covered her head and neck, only showing her dark face. I had often wondered if she was in mourning since she was always dressed in black, but I hadn’t been able to bring myself to ask.

In contrasted, I always dressed in bright colours, favouring; blues, greens, purples and whites. I wore knee or ankle length skirts with leggings or tights, some days I put on trousers. My blouses and tops were sensible enough but some of them did draw focus to my large chest. I’d wear a matching jacket or cardigan as needed. With it being late summer, my skin was lightly tanned. I wore my long med brown hair up or down, depending on how I felt.

I had never seen even a wisp of Alia’s hair so I didn’t know what colour it was. she didn’t wear any makeup either whilst I went through the whole colour plate in time with the seasons and the weather. We both wore glasses- me thin metallic purple frames and her’s thick, round and black old fashioned frames.

I also carted a large and very full handbag around with me, whilst Alia seemed to keep everything in the deep pockets of her coat. Alia had a ring of keys attached to her which constantly made sounds as she moved and reminded me of the housekeeper in The Secret Garden movie.

‘My boyfriend?’ I questioned.

Alia nodded and waited for me to launch into the story. She was use to my length talks now.

‘On a dating website,’ I answered, ‘that’s where I’ve meet all my boyfriends, expect the ones I dated in education. I guess I find it easier, you know? I have a habit of creating bad first impressions with men. Plus, there’s so many different kinds of men you can meet and I’ve found it far better then bars and nightclubs.’

‘Oh,’ Alia responded.

‘Of course, if I could meet a boyfriend naturally I would do. I like the build up of friendship then the slow falling in love and the realisation of it,’ I explained then give a small shrug.

‘So, you’d like it as a fairy tale? Love at first sight?’ she asked.

‘That would make it easier, wouldn’t it? But life doesn’t happen like that.’

I laughed and give a little shake of my head.

The phone rang and our conversation was interrupted by someone making an enquire. After I had dealt with them I turned back to Alia.

‘Why did you want to know anyway?’ I asked her.

She looked a little guilty and there was a slight flush to her cheeks, slowly and almost in a whisper she said, ‘because I would like one.’

Alia pulled her hijab to cover more of her face as if she had told me a dirty secret and now needed to hide away.

I thought over her words for a moment. Sipping my water slowly.

‘And why can’t you?’ I asked.

She didn’t reply and had suddenly found something to do on the computer before her which totally had all of her focus. She ignored me as if I hadn’t spoken.

Casting my mind about, I wondered if Alia came from a family were arrange marriages were traditional. Perhaps, her parents were very strict about her seeing men? I wouldn’t know the truth if I didn’t ask, but I was nervous too and knew it would effect how I saw Alia.

Instead, I asked, ‘you know, online dating is normal now. It’s how most people met. Would you like me to show you how to sign up? I’ll put you on the free site I used. I meet my current and last three boyfriends off there.’

‘But how did you know they were….okay?’ Alia asked.

She looked at me shyly over her shoulder.

‘Well, because I set myself some rules and stuck by them. Plus, once you’ve talked to them online for a bit you get a feel for them. Then you can meet up with just the ones you want too. You have to meet in a really crowd place that you know well. Like in town,’ I added.

Alia waited for me to go on. Her interest peaking and her expression becoming more relaxed.

So, I did, ‘and never go to their houses or a location they suggest that you are not happy with. Art galleries and museums make for good first dates. Or meals out. Whatever you feel comfy with.’

She nodded.

‘So, would you like my helping signing up?’ I asked.

Alia paused then in small voice said, ‘yes, please.’

I smiled broadly and wheeled my desk chair over to her corner. With my help Alia would be fine and I’d make sure she found a suitable boyfriend.

The Mystery Of Love

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In the beginning there was a stranger who then became my friend who then became my boyfriend who then became my fiance who then became my husband and my soul mate forever.

Dear Diary #25

And September is here! I can’t believe how fast summer has gone, it was over like all that flash flooding we’ve been having. I only saw like 20 odd days of pure sunshine out of the 92 days. How bad is that? And so not enough to get a tan, but luckily no one else really has either.

I’m strangely not looking forward to going back to uni now. It’s final year and that’s going to be so much hard work and so little time for partying! I’m glad things have got sorted and we can all stay in the same house. It was very touch and go for awhile back there. Dev said that me and him would find our own place, but getting a one or two bedroom flat wasn’t as easy as it would actually seem. It’s all good though and the four of us will be fine again.

My parents have been bugging me with questions about afterwards. I don’t know what I’m going to do! Maybe take a different course and return? Do a masters or go into teaching? I just don’t know and a part of me is wondering what kind of job I believed I was going to get doing a history degree. I should have gone with business or computing or something that leads straight into work. Perhaps, something will come up and right now I just got to try and pass this year.

At least I can get a few more days of freedom in! I’m off to the Lake District tomorrow, for a few romantic days away with Dev. So looking forward to that. We’ve not had much alone time or dates with him working as many hours as he can get at the pub. So it’ll be nice to spend sometime together. The weather isn’t looking great though, so we might not risk any long walks, but I’d be happy to just lounge by the indoor pool.

I should actually go and start packing!

Date #1

Architecture, Mbs, Shopping Center, Glas

I never set out to do any shopping, this was meant to be a first date after all. However, the bargains in the craft and book shop were too good to miss out on. The window display beckoned me with special offers and since we were just wandering around the mall anyway, I told my date we should go in.

To be honest, I wasn’t attracted to him at all. He was a head shorter then me, sadly something I’d noticed as we had left the coffee shop and I prefer my men tall. He was dressed all in black; hoodie and jog pants, so not very date presentable and he had longish black hair and a beard too. In fact, he reminded me of an over stuffed teddy bear; not very good looking, but very cuddly.

We split off; him to look at craft stuff and me to look at books. I browse the titles and book covers as my mind recalls something he had said before whilst we had sipped sweet coffee.

‘The last novel I read was last year and it was Fifty Shades Darker.’

I had shivered at both those things, ‘why?’ I had blurted as my mind screamed, I read a book everyday and get through one in about a week! How could anyone not read? 

‘I can’t get into them,’ he had replied and shrugged.

‘And what did you think of Fifty Shades?’ I asked slowly.

‘I liked it. Grey is an interesting guy. I haven’t seen the movie yet though, I’m worried it’ll spoil the books.’

I had hid the disgust on my face and finished my coffee quickly. I switched the subject back to TV series, which he seemed to handle better.

Shaking my head, to clear those thoughts away, I grab a book and looking at it decided it wasn’t for me. I choice another then a few more, but nothing appealed to me. Glancing over my shoulder, I track him down and see him talking to someone, a tall black man with a patterned shirt on. Must be a friend, maybe?

I get moving and wander a round. I spot a humors book about newspaper headlines and since it’s a pound decide to get it. I find some notebooks, really reduced, some craft stickers, two books on sewing and a few other things.

‘Looks like you found somethings,’ he says, appearing at my side as I am looking at the adult coloring books.

‘Yes, I did. I saw you talking and thought I’d leave you to it. Was that a friend?’ I ask.

He nods, ‘old friend, from about two jobs back.’

‘I’m going to get these and then…erm, I think I might have to go home,’ I trail off.

Silence creeps between us and we both hear a woman talking loudly on her phone as she goes past the shop. The traffic in the mall has picked up and I can hear school kids chatting and laughing.

‘What time is it?’ I ask.

He digs his phone out and answers, ‘almost five.’

‘Then yeah, I need to go.’

I head to the till with him following me then pausing to look at something. I pay, we meet again then walk out.

‘I wish I could stay longer. It’s been fun. I got this exercise class this evening and I don’t want to be late.’

‘It’s fine. I had fun too, maybe we could do it again sometime?’

‘Sure. Minus the shopping though? I didn’t expect to find all this stuff, but it was so cheap. One of the books I get was like three pounds instead of thirteen. It was too good not to get,’ I laugh a little.

We dodge a wave of people then head outside. I debate telling him not to bother walking me to the bus stop, but as we are all most there it doesn’t matter.

‘I shall text you,’ I say as we come to a stop.

‘Yes, please do. It was nice meeting up,’ he adds.

‘Yep, I had a good afternoon.’

He moves to hug me and met him. Hugging him does feel like a teddy bear. I break the hug before he can kiss me, though I am not sure if that even crossed his mind. We say goodbye and I watch him walk away.

I collect what I think about him and decided that though I don’t see him as being my next boyfriend, the possibility of friends is there.

Dear Diary #17

Dear Diary,

It’s the start of a new year and I’m still drunk. It must have been about five am when I got home and god the taxi must have been expensive. Though, I might have brought some wine and other stuff before going to Alex’s, but I really don’t remember.

What I do remember is that we all had a great time and no one ended up in hospital like last year. I think Sophie threw up on the stairs just before eleven then fell down them. At least I think it was her. It could have been Sammy, she’s never been a good drinker. Whoever it was seemed fine though. The last thing I remember was counting down to midnight and standing in the drizzle watching fireworks.

My new job starts this Monday now, meaning I’ll have broken two years of unemployment and the dole. Hopefully, I’ll break my third year single status too. I wanted that to be my New Year resolution. The only reason I remember what everyone’s was, is because Alex wrote them down and give everyone the list.

Mine caused arguments because most of the girls said finding a boyfriend wasn’t a resolution and it had to be something you wanted to give up. Penny and Lucy were in my corner and agreed that the resolution didn’t have to be like that anymore and could be a goal you want to achieve. In the end, I changed it to stop buying large amounts of clothes that I don’t wear and stop wasting money, which I now need to save up to buy a car with.

Alex and Sophie had as theirs; to go on a diet and loose like a quarter or half of their current weights. I never understand that one because they both look skinny anyway and no one ever really sticks with it. Sammy said she was giving up drinking for the year. Penny was giving up chocolate, which is one I could never do and really I don’t see her being able to do it. Lucy’s resolution was to plan her wedding as Dan had asked her on Christmas Eve.

Some of us said she couldn’t have that, but she and the bridesmaids to be –who just happened to be Alex, Sophie, Sammy and Becky-voted it was allowed. I did try to use that to argue the case for my boyfriend one, but it didn’t work. The last two on the list,Becky and Krystal both decided to quit smoking.

Anyway, I’m still keeping finding a boyfriend on my personal list. Maybe, I can find an okay dating website to join?