My Merry Little Christmas #WeeklyWritingChallenge

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I’d had it with him! Blocking his number, I officially deleted my ex-boyfriend from my life. Sitting crossed legged and arms on the sofa, grumpily gazing at the TV but not taking the ten o’clock news in, I shoved my heartbreak away.

I wasn’t going to cry and feel sorry for myself. I hadn’t been the one sleeping around, getting drunk and kissing girls in nightclubs. We’d only been together six months, hardly anytime at all. And anyway, I’d hated his taste in music, movies, his dislike of books and his big ego. We’d had little in common from the beginning and it was only thanks to his interest in American sports we had started dating.

Still though, Christmas was around the corner and now I’d be spending it alone. Well, there was family to visit but I’d feel like the odd one out.

I looked at the Christmas decorations and the little fire burning in the fireplace. It needed stoking and more wood adding. I was in no mood to sleep now, so I got up and kneeling down, grabbed the poker. Jabbing it in, the flames woke from their doze. I put another two logs in and which the fire growing once more.

Back on the sofa, I wanted something to take my mind off things. The TV wasn’t helping, I didn’t have enough concentration to read a book and my house was all ready tidy. There were presents still to wrap, cards to write but I wasn’t feeling up to that. I needed an action plan, something to total focus on and forget about him for awhile.

I got my laptop out and went surfing the internet. There were lots of distractions out there. I clicked on link after link; reading blog posts, news, comic strips, finally I came to some Christmas craft website and scrolled through. There were lots of things I could make but my heart wasn’t in it.

Turning the TV off, I went on to a video website and listened to some live relaxing music. I made some hot chocolate and toast, curled up again and drifted into the sounds of the fire and the sad piano notes.

For some reason, that song about having having yourself a merry little Christmas popped into my head. I hummed it whilst hugging my warm mug and thought, yes, I’m going to have one of those this year and I’ll be happier and better for it.

 

(Inspired by; https://secretkeeper.net/2018/12/10/weekly-writing-challenge-171/ with thanks).

Avenue #writephoto

It was too late to go back, Saly realised. She had meandering around the park without thinking. Now, she was at the far side where park met meadows and farming fields. Casting around, she spotting a bench and slipping the headphones off, she went and sat down.

Curling her fingers over the bench lip, Saly looked at the canopy walk away created by the two rows of closely planted trees who’s branches arched and touched high above. When she had been younger, she had believed such structures were tunnels into other lands filled with magic and wonder.

Taking in a very deep breaths, Saly smelt the ting of smoke over the fresh air and earthy scents. There were no signs of flames though, so the gently breeze must be carrying it. She sniffed, thinking maybe it was her partly blocked nose that was causing her to think she was smelling the smoke. Saly had been over the last few days, sensing things that weren’t really there.

Looking down at her knees, she wondered if things would ever be the same again. Of course, they wouldn’t be, not now that he had gone and she was alone again. But that had been one love and surely there’d be another? There’d always been before. It was hard though, Saly told herself, the death of a relationship seemed the end of everything.

Noticing that she was very much alone, Saly let the silent tears she had been holding in all day finally fall. Her auntie had always told her it was stupid to cry over men and a sure sign of weakness. Saly had agreed but how could she stop all these emotions when they were constantly consuming her like an over flowing bathtub?

There’s someone better out there for you, she chatted in her head, this is just another trial run for the real thing. 

Wiping away hot tears, Saly sat up straight and become determined not to cry over him anymore. Staring at the canopy walk of trees, she got up and went over to the entrance. Shadows were playing across the ground and there was feeling of protection within the sheltered area.

‘When you walk out the other side,’ Saly said aloud, ‘you’ll have left your past behind you and take your first steps into your future.’

Slowly, she walked underneath the trees, trying to stay true to her words. For the last few steps she held her breath then taking the first step out, let everything go. She smelt flowers and the coming hot summers. The endless possibilities of her future stretched before her. Saly walked away, her heart lighter.

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/05/17/thursday-photo-prompt-avenue-writephoto with thanks).

Jump

Person Standing on a Brown Wood Log Floating on a Body of Water

Looking into the clear water, I avoided her eyes as her announcement hung in the air. A group of small fish passed by, battling the strong river current. I faked interested in them to give me time to think hard, which I then couldn’t do. Her words were totally unexpected and heavily weighted.

I wanted to ask her so many questions; why? How? Who?

But nothing would form. It was if the English language had left me completely and I was a dumb foreigner in a new country. The fish passed by, going wherever they were heading to up river. Gentle waves lapped at the soil banks and around the posts of the old wooden bridge. I saw a clump of grass and a long twisted stick pass by. It all seemed so normal.

‘Rory,’ she whispered my name like a ghost on the wind.

I didn’t turn to her, I couldn’t.

‘I’m sorry,’ she added as if that would make it any better.

A breeze shook the just turning autumn leaves of the surrounding forest trees. A few leaves came loose and fluttered down into the water. They landed lightly, causing only a few small ripples, then the river carried them away.

And still, I couldn’t face her or the truth of her words. It felt like this was happening to someone else. A different version of me that was here at another time. I hope that Rory acted better.

I heard her stand up. The rustle of clothes, the jiggling of her backpack. All I could think about was this was why she had brought me here, to tell me that. She knew it would be easier out here whilst I was captivated by the magic of the forest instead of inside a cafe or a house. She could slip away perfectly now, vanish into the pines and the hollows without worrying I’d chase after her.

She sighed and lingered for a few moments. I just knew she was waiting for me to say something. What did she want? For me to beg like a dog? Plead that if she took the words back I’d promise my eternal love like some Greek hero? Perhaps, she had known all the long that this would happen. That the weight of her words would sink me like the stones we had sometimes thrown into the river.

My silence stretched. I heard her light footsteps moving away then she paused again and I think she almost wanted to say something to me. Even if I’d wanted to look at her, I couldn’t move my head and perhaps if I had it might have changed things. Or maybe, it wouldn’t have made a difference.

She left me watching the flowing water and thinking about jumping in.

Black Hole

Milly wanted a black hole to appear and swallow her. Grabbing another tissue, she wondered what that would actually feel like. Straightening up, her eyes fell back onto the phone screen, causing her to take the words in again. It’s over, glared up at her like an ugly scar that wouldn’t go away. Her fingers strayed out to tap something into the empty box below, but she couldn’t bring herself to reply.

Her desk blurred as another round of tears took over. Sniffing, she buried her face in the harsh paper and give up the fight. Squeezing the tears out and gasping for every breath, Milly felt a tension headache building. Wiping her face and throwing the tissue away, she brought her handbag up from the floor and dug around inside it. Pulling out a packet of painkillers, she went to take two tablets then paused.

She glanced around the office, peering over the top of her claustrophobic cubical. Everyone was caught up in their own worlds of doing their jobs and no one was watching her. Milly looked down and had the fleeting thought of taking the other ten tablets that were in the packet.

Clutching the two in her hand, she threw the packet back in her bag and grabbed a bottle of water. Taking the tablets and a mouthful of water, she buried that dark thought in the corner of her head. Finishing off the bottle, she dropped it into the bin and looked down into the crumples of rubbish.

It feels like I’ve easily been thrown away too, she thought.

Rubbing her eyes, she focused on her computer, but couldn’t concentrate on the lines of names and numbers. After a few moments of scrolling up and down, she decided to call it quits. There was no way her voice and her emotions were going to hold steady cold calling people now. She closed everything down and gathered her things, including her phone, which she didn’t look at as she threw into her handbag.

Getting up, she walked to the manger’s room and knocked on the door. He waved her in, though he was on the phone and she had to linger just inside whilst he finished.

‘I’m really not feeling well,’ Milly said in a shaky voice as he looked questioningly at her. ‘I’ve got this killer migraine and I’m feeling very flushed. I’ll make up the two hours sometime next week.’

He eyed her suspiciously, ‘alright…’

‘Thanks,’ Milly jumped in and left before he could say anything else.

She hurried out of the office, not bothering to say goodbye to anyone and went to her car. Sinking into the driver’s seat, she stared at her handbag on the passenger’s chair and thought about calling him. Maybe, I can fix things… her thought trailed. Her hands reached out, but then she decided driving home first was more important. She looked up at the office windows and saw a still figure seemingly watching her.

Milly drove home on autopilot, struggling to hold back the tears and a sea of turmoil thoughts. She pulled up outside her tiny flat, having easily cut her journey time in half on the quiet roads. Grabbing things and getting out, she locked the car and went to the door.

Grateful no nosy neighbours were around, she let herself in and went straight to her bedroom. She dumped her stuff, got changed then sat on the bed with her phone. The text message was still there, waiting for her reply. She frowned and thought about what she’d say as her fingertips toyed with the phone’s protective case edges.

Finally, she set the phone aside. Her mind made up that she wouldn’t reply. Curling up on her bed, she grabbed one of her teddy bears and began crying loudly into the soft fur. Pain hammered into her chest and she came up gasping for air like a diver. She wiped her face and lay quietly, soft moans escaping her chapped lips. She rubbed her chest and felt the black hole opening up in the middle of her heart and swallowing it whole.

Rebound

Crowd, Dance, Party, People, People Dancing, Disco

Pepper rolled over and sprawled across her bed. Half-asleep she rubbed at her itchy nose then her tried eyes. Pushing back her red dyed hair, she stared at the ceiling. Licking her dry lips, she rolled over and snuggled into an old flat soft toy bat. She shut her eyes again and started too drifted off.

The sound of knocking boomed in her ears and disgruntled, she tossed the edge of the duvet back and twisted her neck to the door.

‘Shower’s free. I’m making coffee and toast,’ the voice of her best friend and housemate, Holly, shouted from the other side of the door.

Pepper growled then replied back, ‘okay!’

Getting out of bed, she grabbed her dressing gowned from the floor and walked to the door. Opening it, the mixed smells of Holly’s shampoo and deodorant assaulted her nose. Pulling a face, she walked out of the short corridor to the bathroom door. She heard Holly rattling things around in the kitchen.

In the bathroom, she locked the door and did what she had to do. The hot water really woke her up, easing the aches in her feet and back. She brushed her teeth afterwards and felt like herself again. Towel drying her hair, she walked back to her room and got dressed in some comfy clothes.

‘Coffee!’ Holly called.

Zipping a brush through her hair, Pepper then tied it up and went into the living room. Holly had laid out a plate of buttery toast, two coffee mugs and a jar of strawberry jam. The TV was on some Sunday cooking show and Holly was curled in the arm chair with a glass of orange juice.

Pepper sat on the edge of the sofa and grabbed the knife. As she began spreading jam on a slice of toast, she shot Holly some sly looks. Holly was wearing a long, blue wool jumper with the sleeves rolled up and a pair of jeans. She had her short boyish brown hair ruffled up and her large green eyes locked on the TV screen.

‘How are you feeling?’ Holly asked after a few moments.

Pepper nodded, her mouthful of toast.

‘And last night?’

‘What about it?’ Pepper said as she swallowed.

‘You can’t keep kissing strangers and pretending it’s him,’ Holly pointed out.

Pepper froze, toast and jam pressed to her lips.

‘You were all over that guy with the Mohawk…don’t you remember?’

‘Some of it,’ Pepper replied and nibbled at the toast.

Holly sighed, ‘I know you miss him. But you need to stop behaving like that.’

‘I’m having fun okay? And since when does kissing some guys in a nightclub hurt anyone?’

‘It hurts you, Pepper,’ Holly stated.

Pepper threw the rest of her toast down and stood up.

‘I’m trying to help,’ Holly pointed out.

‘Sure you are,’ Pepper snorted and walked back to her bedroom.

Holly called after her, but Pepper slammed the door on her voice. Sitting on the edge of her bed, Pepper pulled up her handbag and dug through it. She removed a crumpled napkin that had a phone number on it then a square of toilet paper that had another number bleeding through it. Placing them aside she dug out her phone and looked through the text messages.

When she didn’t find what she was looking for, she put the phone back and her bag on the floor. Curling up on the bed, she shut her eyes and thought about him. Memories danced before her and it took a few moments for Pepper to select one to play.

A light tapping on the door drew her back a few minutes later. Opening her eyes, she watched the door open and Holly coming in. She crossed the floor and sank down next to Pepper.

‘I care about you,’ Holly said softly.

‘I know,’ Pepper muttered back.

‘You need to stop. I’m worried something bad will happen to you.’

Pepper nodded into her pillow.

‘I know it’s not easier, but you will meet someone else. Maybe you’ll be happier too. But you need time to sort yourself out. And kissing random strangers isn’t going to help that,’ Holly lectured.

‘What if I never meet anyone else?’ Pepper answered.

Holly shook her head, ‘you will do. Everyone does. Just focus on yourself for a little while. Stop going to the nightclubs and spend more time thinking.’

‘Maybe, you’re right,’ Pepper breathed.

‘Just a little,’ Holly slotted in.

Smiling, Pepper pushed from the bed and hugged her best friend, ‘thanks for looking out for me.’