Change #1LinerWed

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I ignored the sign and speeded on the motorway with Five Finger Death Punch blaring through the speakers but seconds later hanging upside, blood dripping, smelling petrol, I wished I had listened.

 

(Inspired by; https://lindaghill.com/2020/03/25/one-liner-wednesday-change/ with thanks).

The Rising Sea

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Oliver peered nervously out of the window and saw a sea wave crashing over the wall and on to the road outside his house.

The white foam tops of the waves clouded the air and sea spray mingled with the falling rain. The sea roared with an untameable lust that deafened everything nearby, only challenged by booming thunder.

The weather forecast had said it was going to bad on the coasts and flooding were likely. Of course, Oliver had prepared with sandbags at the doors and low windows. Most of his furniture was stacked upstairs and his car was parked up at Raven’s Edge cliff carpark.

Oliver thought that he should have stayed with his car because it was safer but he would have been fretting too much about his house being flooded.

Listening to the sea bashing about as the wild wind stirred the waves up and rain poured down, Oliver realised it was too late to do anything else. He would just have to hope that the sea didn’t rise anymore and his house didn’t flood.

Snow Light

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My car’s windscreen wipes struggled to clear the heavy snowflakes away. I turned them all the way up and that helped somewhat. Everything around me was either white, grey or black like I had entered an old fashioned movie dead of colour.

I clutched the steering wheel tighter and listened to the faint rock music from the CD player. A glance at the Satnav and it didn’t looked like I had moved much. The time of arrival kept going up instead of down and I gritted my teeth.

If it had been anyone else but my dying father, I wouldn’t be out here now driving from my honeymoon in this snowstorm. I rounded a corner and saw in the beam of my headlights two stark trees clawing at the grey sky.

I had to pee and my ankle was cramping.

Pulling over under the trees, I got out but left everything running. The worse thing right now would be the car to breakdown.

I went behind the tree and got up real close as there wasn’t much cover here. I unzipped, aimed and relieved myself. Feeling better, I pressed my head against the tree and took a few deep breaths of frozen air.

Then for a few minutes, I walked about and stretched. The conversation with my mother came back to me as it had been doing on repeat since I had hung up the phone this morning.

‘Christian, your father is really sick. You should come to the hospice.’

‘I know but there’s a snowstorm and I can’t leave Jan up here alone.’

‘Bring her with you.’

‘And have us both stuck in the snow? No. I’ll come.’

‘I think it’s almost time…’ mother sniffed down the phone.

I rolled my eyes, she and father had been saying that for the last three months. It’s why Jan and I had brought the wedding forward but still dad hung on. I didn’t want to leave my wife in our honeymoon cabin in the magical snow covered forest, but there was no other choice.

Feeling the chill sinking through my thick coat, I got back in the car again and drove once more. Still the snowfall. It was like a blanket on the bare land softening the hardness of winter.

There was no other cars on this country road, sensible of everyone but it also meant the road wasn’t gritted and the wheels felt like they were sliding. I took it easy, watching all the time for dangers because there was also the gloom of night looming.

I thought of Jan and how she would be curled up before the fire, reading and waiting for me to call. Had I done the right thing leaving her behind?

‘I don’t mind either way,’ she had said, ‘do you want me there when he passes?’

‘He won’t pass. He’s too stubborn. This is just another false alarm.’

‘But you are still going?’

‘Yes. For mother’s sake more then his. He’s out of it most of the time anyway thanks to the drugs.’

‘Christian, it’s really coming down outside. Will you be okay driving?’ Jan had asked.

‘I’ll take it easy.’

I hugged, kissed her and said, ‘I love you, wife.’

Jan giggled and replied, ‘I love you too, husband.’

Now, I regretted leaving her and I wished I had told my mother no but what if dad was finally going and I wasn’t there when he died? I couldn’t have forgiven myself to that.

The snow became blinding and I had to slow further. I couldn’t stop though and turned my thoughts to how when I reached the main roads and motorway it would be easier. I tried to relax and just concentrate on what was ahead of me though that was only about a few inches.

Was that lights ahead? I frowned and and squinted. It looked like just one light. A motorbike then? But who would be insane enough to drive a motorbike in the middle of nowhere, in a snowstorm?

A creeping feeling raised the hairs on my arms and had the strange urge to pull over. Why? I couldn’t say. I wrestled with myself for a minute then despite not wanting too, the steering wheel was turning and I was bumping off the road into a low ditch.

Confused, I let go of the wheel and sat there, listening to the wind howling and the car engine rumbling. Where was the light I had seen? I waited for something to pass me by but nothing did. Had it been a reflection off something? I had read somewhere that snow could cause something like that.

Shrugging, I went to pull back onto the road but the steering wheel wouldn’t turn.

‘What the hell?’ I uttered aloud.

I turned the wheel this way and that whilst pressing on the pedals but the car didn’t move. The engine revved then fell into it’s comforting rumbling as I stopped trying.

‘I don’t need this! I really, really don’t need this! Come on! God damn it!’

I hit the steering wheel with my palms and threw my head back into the head rest. I shut my eyes and breathed angrily. Thoughts went through my head and I decided to get out and see what the problem was.

Opening the door, I walked around but could see I wasn’t stuck in the mud as I was frozen ground. The ditch also was only slightly lower then the road. I opened the bonnet and looked inside. Everything seemed fine in there.

I got back in the car, snow melting off me. I picked up my phone and saw I had no signal.

‘Typical! Just typical!’ I shouted.

I blared the horn in anger, got out again and slammed the door shut. I walked up and down, blaming my parents, the cancer, the snowstorm, the car, myself until my legs and arms felt frozen stiff.

Getting back in the car, I looked at the Satnav to see if there was any civilisation nearby. Perhaps, there would be a helpful farmer? Or maybe I was close to the village? The Satnav came back empty, just showing the red lined road I was on and nothing close by.

I turned off the car engine. Not sure what else I could do.

Sitting for a few minutes, I watched the snow burying my car and strangely recalled how one summer holiday my dad had let me bury him in sand at the beach. Mum had taken a photo as we had all laughed. Then we had got fish and chips followed by ice cream. Dad had then carried me back to the hotel as I dozed in his arms.

I smiled and began to recall other favourite memories. Finally, I came to one about my first diving lesson and how I had scared my dad as I had almost hit a wall. We had laughed about that long afterwards and he still wouldn’t get in a car with me driving today.

Shaking my head and laughing, I turned the engine on and the car started up. Handbrake down, foot on pedals, gear in and turning the steering wheel, the car obeyed me and pulled back onto the road.

‘What was all that about?’ I cried.

Unsure, I carefully began driving. Everything felt normal and like there had been no problems back there at all. Shrugging, I carried on my journey.

Two hours later, I arrived at the hospice and went to my dad’s room. He was sleep with the blanket pulled up to his chin. My mother was sitting beside him, face hidden in a tissue.

‘I made it,’ I whispered.

Mum looked up her, her face tear stained and eyes red, ‘he’s gone,’ she stuttered and threw her arms around me.

‘When?’ I asked.

She mumbled the time and as I held her I cast my mind back.

He had died at the same time I had seen that light and my car had stopped working.

Storm Ciara

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When the news said there was an amber weather warning, I knew that Ciara wasn’t going to be friendly. She was coming over from America with the full force of a winter storm. At least, the British weather wasn’t as bad as the USA.

Ciara woke me up on Sunday morning by driving hailstone on to my window. I heaved the winter duvet and my massive Great Dane, King, off me and looked out of the window. The wind was fifty to sixty miles per hour, everything was moving violently and the surrounding bare trees were really showing how strong the wind was. Rain thundered down and the wind whipped the water into a frenzy.

I got up and sorted for the day. My bachelor mind doing it’s normal voice off about how nice it was not to have a wife or kids being noisy but also how worrying it was not to have those things.

Letting King out into the garden, the wind blew ice into my face and I was grateful that within a minute King was back inside. I dried him off, wondering how he could be so wet!

King sulked off to his massive dog bed in the converted dinning room. Dispite him being a huge dog – he came up passed my hip and I was six foot two, he could easily rest his head on tables too – King hated the cold and wet weather.

Getting a large mug of coffee and some toast, I went to my study and began working on my different writing tasks. I had a novel to complete, creative writing lectures to plan, students’ essays to mark and journal articles to finish. It might have been a Sunday but writers and teachers never stop.

Storm Ciara erupted throughout the whole day. She hit against the windows desperate to get in. She threw out everything she had; wind, hail, snow, rain, thunder and lightening. I glanced up often from my work and watched the storm from the small window.

King joined me at some point, he put his dark grey head into my lap then curled up tight under the desk. When the thunder started, he yowled and only hugs and comforting words soothed him.

I tried to take him out at lunchtime but a quick trot to the park entrance at the end of my street was it. Storm Ciara was still bad in the afternoon and darkness came early. I took King out again and we embraced the gusty wind and drenching rain together. I tugged him along, trying to convince him that a longer walk was what we were going on.

The trees above swayed violently and the branches cracked. Deep, long stretching pools of water were either covering the grass or the pathways of the park. As we passed the children’s playground, a creeping feeling crawled along my skin. The swings, roundabout and the rocking animals were moving because of the wind but for some reason I thought of ghost children at play.

The wind was whistling through the climbing frame, slide and other things, making ghastly sounds. Rain was dripping off everything and it was all so eerie, almost abandoned looking.

We hurried home and once safe inside, I got use both into a hot shower. King sit, drinking the shower spray and I enjoyed the warmth spreading on my icy skin. After, I got the fire in the living room going and feed King. I just had some soup then we both sat by the fire, watching TV.

‘What is it, King?’ I asked as he raised his head and whined.

Then I heard it, the monstrous groaning and cracking of a tree. There was almighty snap, crunch of metal and shattering of glass. I felt a tremor running through the house and King threw back his head and howled.

I rushed to the window and saw a tree had come down across the street and was laying across a number of cars.

There were bits of tree and car scattered across the road. The wind was picking up the lighter things and blowing them away. Doors of the houses opposite opened and people stepped out. I couldn’t hear them but I could see the shock on their faces and in their body language.

King pushed me out of the way and looked out of the window too. We stayed there for awhile. Watching the crowds of neighbours gather and soon a fire engine arrived. No body had been hurt but some of the cars were write offs for sure.

‘There’s not much we can do,’ I said to King, ‘looks like everything’s under control. It’s snowing again. Let’s go back to the fire.’

Settling down again, King sprawled across the sofa and myself. His head and front legs on my lap, pinning me down. I felt safe like that, even though King was a rubbish guard dog. I guess just having a massive dog and his heavy weight on me was enough comfort as storm Ciara raged outside.

 

(Inspired by current events; https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/02/11/storm-ciara-commuters-warned-snow-ice-across-parts-britain/)

Winter Trip #FFftPP

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The snow had been falling for the last week, it came as no surprise to Joy. She was a winter baby, born on Christmas day. As a child she had hated that, at first double presents had been great but then she had had to wait a whole year to get more whilst it felt like her friends got two separate days of presents.

An adult now, she didn’t mind because if she wanted something she could just buy it and actually when people asked what she wanted she struggled to say. This year though, she had been clear on what gifts should be under her tree and that included the reason for her drive out today.

It was a long one, an almost six hours round trip but God it was going to be so worth it. Joy caught herself smiling in the car’s rear view mirror, she couldn’t contain her excitement. Glancing down into the passenger seat, her smile just grew even though it felt like this was a dream.

The golden retriever puppy was curled up a sleep in the basket Joy had brought with her. For as long as she could remember, Joy had wanted a dog and now her Christmas wish had come true.

 

(Inspired by; https://flashfictionforthepracticalpractitioner.wordpress.com/2019/12/11/flash-fiction-for-the-purposeful-practitioner-50/ with thanks).

Round and Round #FridayFictioneers

Mary glanced down at the map then out the car window.

‘Which exit?’ her husband, Tom, asked as they entered the roundabout.

‘The second…? No, the third….?’ Mary tried to answer.

She consulted at the map but struggled.

Tom carried on going around, trying to hold his tongue. He wasn’t in the mood for another argument about directions.

‘I think it’s the second.’ Mary finally answered.

Tom drove once more around the circle of trees and took the second exit, ‘for Christmas I’d like a Sat Nav,’ he muttered.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/11/27/29-november-2019/ with thanks).

The Keeper #WhatPegmanSaw

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I had heard the tales, who hadn’t? but I needed to see. The twisted road to the house was through an overgrown woods and a bubbling swamp. It seemed the perfect for a horrible castle, especially as the full moon was playing hide and seek with the clouds tonight.

The gates appeared and top was the green stone dragon.

I got out of my car and went forward.

Finding my voice, I asked, ‘Hello?’

‘Who disturbs me?’ the dragon’s booming voice rang out as he shook himself awake.

The tales were true after all!

 

(Inspired by; https://whatpegmansaw.com/2019/10/19/ljubljana-slovenia/ and also https://crispinakemp.com/2019/10/21/have-you-seen-our-dragon/ with thanks).

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.

Goosey Gander #CCC

Kelly froze and couldn’t get out of the car. The goose had surround her and were squawking loudly. The noise sent chills through her, like finger nails on a black board. Her hand began to shake on the door handle, she want to let go but couldn’t.

One of the goose flapped it’s huge white wings and rose up threateningly. Hissing ruptured and loose feathers dotted the ground.

There was a tapping on the window. Kely screamed, started the car again and tore away.

The farmer lifted his cap and scratched his head in puzzlement. Townies today!

 

(Inspired by; https://crimsonprose.wordpress.com/2019/08/21/crimsons-creative-challenge-41/ with thanks).

Taxi! #TwitteringTales

Everyone thought the job was easy; drive people from A to B but Dec knew there was more to it. With twelve years under his belt, he found the waiting boring, nervous still collecting customers and traffic stressful.

That’s why he’d decided to give up and move to the coast to work on a boat.

 

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2019/08/13/twittering-tales-149-13-august-2019/ with thanks).