Silence

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Everything was too loud and bright; birds singing in the trees, dawn peering around the curtains. A cat meowing to be let in – her cat? Then someone’s whistling and echoing footsteps. A car engine started as she reached over and turned on the lamp which triggered an explosion in her head that sent her back down to the pillow. Groaning, she tried to get up but knew she wasn’t going to make it. She reached for some water and pills, taking them quickly. Then searched for her ear defends and a blind fold.

Silence at last.

 

(Inspired from; https://lindaghill.com/2017/12/27/what-is-just-jot-it-january-2018-rules/ with thanks).

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Magic #writephoto

Winter arrived over night whilst everyone slept. The forecast had said it might sleet but they didn’t predict the thick blanket of snow that lay on the ground and trees. Looking out of my bedroom window, I felt torn by the view. It was amazing, the snow made the woodland and fields magical, like a fantasy land. However, leaving my front door and going to work was going to be hard.

Telling myself it might not be so bad and maybe it was only a little dusting over icy ground, I got ready. Before I left though, I put the TV on and the news that in the area I lived in was totally snow covered didn’t make me feel any better. Still though, no snow going to stop me!

Stepping out, my boots sink ankle deep into the snow, breaking the perfect surface. The air give me a cold hug and my breath misted before me. Birds were singing in snow draped branches and only the middle of the stream was flowing by. A part of me knew it was bad, but I walked to the driveway.

I got in my dad’s old Jeep which had been a joke thirty-fifth birthday present but I actually really appreciated it. Turned out a Jeep was a urban-countryside vet’s best friend. It took a few minutes to prepare for travel then the engine turned on the second try and I set off.

The tyres crunched under snow, at first finding it hard to grip but then getting there. I took it easy, not fast and trying to see the outline of the road. I got about a few miles away and then I saw a bank of snow up ahead and I just knew the wonderful Jeep wasn’t going to make that.

Leaving the engine running, I got out and walked over. There was a dip in the road here before a small bridge. The snow had filled the dip, finding support to make a raise. I looked to other side but there wasn’t enough gap between the trees to get by. Other thoughts ran though my head; getting a shovel and digging, calling neighbouring farmer to plough me out or walking.

A flake of snow spiralled passed me. I watched it join the others at my feet. Then looking up, I saw the dark morning sky start to rain down snow. It fell slow and gentle, melting on my warm coat or drifting through the trees to add to the ground. I had a flash back to childhood and playing in the snow.

It wasn’t enough to distract me though and I stepped back to the Jeep. Once in, the snow began to fall faster and thicker. I slowly turned around and drove back home. Defeat isn’t a word I use but there was no other way to put what had happened.

Once home, I phoned in work and found that so many other people were stuck too that the lead vet had closed the practise. Hanging the phone up, I felt a little better. Sitting at the kitchen table, I watched the snow dancing and tried to capture that ‘magic’ feeling from childhood again.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2017/11/30/thursday-photo-prompt-magic-writephoto/ with thanks).

Forbidden (Part 1)

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The antique shop had only been open a few days and from my office window it had seemed busy. There had been a continuous flow of all kinds of people going in and out. Sometimes they carried paper bags but most of the time they came out with nothing. A few people in the office had been and they whispered about the things they had seen behind their hands.

I had no interest in anything the shop was selling. The front window display looked like a posh jumble sell just without the clothes. There were a few tables, bookcases and chairs filled with a variety of items; old books, lamps, dolls, teddy bears, ornaments, vintage toys, clocks etc. Far too much to look at.

Getting into my car after finishing work for the week, the engine wouldn’t start. It was pouring with rain and a snap of winter freeze was in the air. I called my breakdown service and the waiting time was an hour. I looked miserably back at the office building. I could go in and do some more work…or…I glanced across at the antique shop.

With a shrug, I got out of my car and hurried across to the door which was lit up like a lighthouse. Going in, a bell ring over my head and nice warm air hugged me like an old friend. Stepping through, I saw the shop was more packed then the window display! There were tables, bookcases, cabinets, shelves holding all kinds of things that everything blurred into one.

In the center was a square counter and till area. Three old women were stood there helping customers. There was a hushed chatter as if secrets were being spoken. No one looked at me, so I just began moving around. I noticed a staircase to my left with a sign above it saying more things up here. At the back of then room three doors led off but one was marked staff only.

I drifted around, looking but not looking, wondering and frowning. The air smelt of old attic and dried flowers. Sort of comforting but also chocking. Then through the mass of things, I began noticing items that shouldn’t be here and had been prohibited by the New Age Government. Banned books, items related to cigarettes and alcohol,  banned music, statues and sketches of nudes, ‘too’ modern art, fantasy and mythology items. I looked at a model of a red and yellow dragon rising out of flames then I quickly moved on.

That would explain why this shop had seemed so popular! People were looking and buying prohibited items! I hurried into one of the back rooms and found a dark corner. My head was tumbling. If I got caught here that’d be the end of me! The end of everyone in this shop! Having prohibited items meant jail time leading to death unless someone bailed you out.

I shut my eyes and tried to calm down, but I was sweating badly. I took in deep breaths and told myself, I just needed to walk out of here and not come back. I should go and wait in my car for the breakdown man to come. Then when I got home I should report the shop as was my duty. But I couldn’t move.

‘Hey! What you doing!’ a gnarled voice demanded.

I opened my eyes, not sure if I was being addressed or not. There was an old man before me, the light was dim but I could still make him out. He had red cheeks, an angry face and was wearing a tweed suit. He was also carrying a lit lantern.

‘Nothing…I got lost…’ I trailed.

‘You buying something or what?’ he snapped.

‘Oh, erm…This…’ I uttered, without looking I picked up the first thing my right hand touched and showed it him.

He snorted and waved at me to move. I did so and he followed me to the counter. I had closed my hand around the smooth, light object. I kept my eyes up as I placed it down on the glass top and paid for it. Then on receiving a small paper bag, I rushed outside. The rain and freezing cold hit me in the face, whipping the warmth of the shop from me, but I didn’t care.

I got into my car and sit there huddled and shaking. The paper bag clutched my hands like a bomb. A knocking at my window made me jump and I shoved the bag onto the floor and opened the door. It was only the breakdown man, who kindly took me home.

To Be Continued…

 

(Inspired from; https://thewriteedgewritingworkshop.wordpress.com/2017/10/19/writing-prompts-for-monday-october-23-2017/ with thanks).

Toffee Apple Tasting

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There were a few things that sum up autumn perfectly and one of them is toffee apples. As you do the weekly shop and pick up the normal fruit and veg, you spot the boxes in the last section of the large open fridge. Strolling over, you see sticks coming out of red glossy apples and next to them are chocolate covered sprinkle apples.

Your mouth starts to water as you remember how sweet they taste. You select a few, knowing that next week they might not have any in. Then you carry on with your shopping list but you can’t wait to get home now. At the till, you hurry through packing and paying, keeping up a light chat with the small woman scanning your shopping.

You leave, go to the car and place everything inside then you drive slowly home because the rain is heavy and the wind gale force. When you get back, you see your family is still out. Your husband has taken the kids to a birthday party at a soft play centre. You unpack and twice have to draw yourself away from grabbing a toffee apple.

Once everything is sorted, you chose one of the bright red apples and curl up on the sofa with it. Enjoying the sound of the weather outside, you don’t turn the TV or radio on. You unwrap the treat, the plastic coat so loud as you twist it off. You breath deeply, smelling the crisp apple and sweet, sweet treacle toffee.

You turn the stick slowly, marvelling at the perfect, thick toffee and wondering how did they get it so good. Your own attempts at making toffee apples drifts into you mind, but you shake them away now isn’t the time to reflect on your failures. You bring the apple to your lips and began nibbling at the lip of toffee on top.

A blast of sticky sugar hits your tongue, you shut your eyes and moan softly in pleasure. You nibble more, feeling like you can’t get enough now you’ve started. Then you hit the rock hard toffee and cold apple layers. You go more slowly, careful of your teeth. When you finally bit into the apple, the sweet and softness of it goes perfectly with the toffee as if they were made for each other.

You carry on eating, rolling in the happy feelings, until all the toffee is gone and you are almost at the core of the apple. Saddness creep in under the sugar rush. You wish there was more… You lick your lips, feeling sticky as you look at the apple core.

The sound of car pulling up on the driveway shakes you out of the pleasure. You hear car door and voices; your family is home. Spring up from the sofa, you put the apple core, stick and plastic wrap in the bin and wash your face.

The front door opens and you fight to keep down the sugar rush as you greet your family. They must never know.

Spare Change

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Normally, I wouldn’t have stopped but today I was feeling too happy, so when I spotted the homeless man sitting against the car park wall, my hand was already going to my pocket.

‘Got any change?’ he asked in crackling, horse voice.

‘Maybe. Sure,’ I added.

I removed my hand and opened my palm. The coins were digging against my fingers, so I moved them and looked closely what I had. Counting out a one pound in the sliver coins, I give them to his out stretched hand. His hand was filthy, his fingernails black with dirt and his skin dark with too sun and not enough washing.

‘Thank you,’ he replied.

I nodded and made to move off as he dropped the coins to the ground in front of him.

‘How old do you think you are?’ he asked suddenly.

I paused. His voice was calm and curious, not mocking or angry.

‘Well…I know how old I am….twenty-nine,’ I answered.

‘No, no, no! A woman should never tell a man her age!’ the homeless man gasped.

‘I don’t mind….’

He shook his head, ‘let me tell you how old you look….twenty-four!’

‘Well, thanks. I’m use to people telling me I’m younger,’ I explained and smiled.

‘Do you remember the sixties?’ he asked.

‘Erm…no….Sorry, but I…’

I started to shuffle away, regretting I’d stopped in the first place.

‘Let me tell you want happened!’ he shouted.

‘I have to be somewhere,’ I spoke.

‘My wife got pregnant,’ he cut in, ignoring me, ‘only I was shooting blanks, so I knew it couldn’t be mine.’

‘Oh…’

‘Shooting blanks, I was!’ he shouted and burst into laughter.

I felt the urge to get away growing. Something wasn’t right about this man and I was feeling uncomfy. My good karma was fading and I reminded myself this was why I didn’t give money to the homeless.

‘I knew it wasn’t mine,’ he ranted, ‘so, I looked and looked and found she was having an affair with her best friend’s husband! The baby was his. So, I left.’

He waved his hands around then leered at me. For the first time I fully took him in. He had black hair, streaked mostly grey that was long and shaggy. He had a short beard that was also grey and his face was wrinkled like a dried fruit, making him twenty years older then he seemed. His dark blue eyes looked worn and heavy, he’d seen too much bad stuff. He was wearing an ancient track suit that might have once been blue but was now holey and dark with age and dirt.

‘Okay. I’m sorry about that, but I really have to go now,’ I said gently.

He moved as if to reach my hand and I stepped back but he was merely shifting around.

‘You know what they named him?’ the homeless man asked.

I shook my head.

‘Hal. Do you know what it means? First seed,’ he snapped.

I pressed my lips together and eyed the exit door, it was only a few steps away and I could make that in a few seconds, especially, if I ran.

‘Hal! They did it to spite me! Are you religious? You don’t look it. But it’s in the Bible that.’

‘I am actually,’ I uttered.

The homeless man didn’t seem to care any more. From under his jacket, he pulled out a white rosary and danged it between his fingers.

I nodded to him.

He began to play with the beads, muttering to himself. Perhaps it was a prayer.

‘Well, bye,’ I said and walked away, what else could I have done?

One Moment

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It had been a last minute decision that changed our lives forever. Getting into my car, I watched from the rear view mirror as my wife checked our ten year old twins were strapped into the back of her car. Then she walked around and got behind the wheel.

Starting my car’s engine, I glanced at my fourteen year old son, sat now in the passenger seat on his phone. He had been the trouble of all this and the reason why we now had to take two cars on holiday instead of one.

Sighing and partly blaming myself, I drove off. For years, my wife had been trying to get us to buy a bigger car but we couldn’t offered it, unless we got rid of both smaller cars and that would have meant one of us taking the train to work. Getting those thoughts out of my head as I reached the motorway, I tried to think of everything we had to look forward to.

The six hour journey to Cornwall always felt like forever. I found my driving quieter though as the twins weren’t bugging me and my son was too busy on his phone or playing games. I put the radio on and let the rhythm of the music mix with the steady engine.

After stopping at a services and having a quick meet up, we carried on the last leg of the drive. It was a few miles before the turn off,  that I checked my mirrors and saw a lorry swerve lanes and plough side on into the car behind me. My heart stopped and I couldn’t breath but then I had to focus. I slowed and pulled over, praying that car hadn’t been my wife’s.

Yelling at my son to stay, I dashed out and ran to the scene of the wreckage. The car had spun off the hard shoulder and was laying in a tangle remains of trees and undergrowth. I didn’t even look at the lorry as I pulled open the driver’s door. And even though I knew, I was still fighting for it not to be true.

Car #fridayfictioneers

To keep the kids quiet during the six hour drive down to Cornwall, I put together activity bags for them. Of all the things to pick from first, they selected car bingo. So there was a lot of shouting as we all spotted things on the list.

That was until my husband yelled out, ‘dead rabbit!’

Silence fell. I shot him a look and turned to the kids. They were upset.

‘Who want’s a sweet?’ I asked loudly and grabbed a packet.

That quickly helped everyone to forget about dead things.

 

(Inspired from: https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/07/19/21-july-2017/ with thanks)

Storm

It had been threatening for days but now a summer storm was here. We’d picked the worse day for a funeral as the rain was lashing down, the wind whipping and lightening cracking across the doom grey sky. Sitting in the back seat of the car watching this all go by, I thought that actually uncle Arnold would have loved this. It was just the type of thing that would happen to an adventurous man like him.

(Inspired from; https://katmyrman.com/2017/07/18/twittering-tale-41-18-july-2017/ with thanks)

Ferry

It had been a long wait but finally we was driving onto the ferry. My car wheels click-clacked over the metal bridge and I parked as the man in the neon yellow vest directed me to. As soon as everyone else had squeezed on, there was a rumble of engine and whirl of propellers which sent vibrations juddering through everything.  Then we were off to the island and the adventures that awaited us there.

 

(Inspired from: https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/06/21/23-june-2017, PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz with thanks)

Wind Back Time

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Hanging upside down and trying to control her breathing as panic floored her, Lisa tried to think about something else. Shutting her eyes which was easy enough to do because she suddenly felt sleepy, she began listing off everything she had had been heading to the shops to buy.

Tea bags, milk, sugar, bread, cheese, fruit and veg….chocolate biscuits, Lisa thought.

A fire engine siren whipped through the air, causing Lisa to open her eyes and stop the list. From her upside view she couldn’t see the red truck but she knew it was there now. Blending on with the other emergency vehicle at the scene.

Her hair felt wet and she hoped it was only sweat. Wiggling, she tried to see if she could get out, but her hand didn’t want to reach down and undo the seat belt. Dragging in a deep breath, she watched the blur of people standing outside her car. Lisa tried to count them, but the figures seemed to become one.

‘Help,’ she cried weakly. Not sure what else to do.

‘It’s okay, Miss,’ a too young looking ambulance man said.

Lisa turned her head to look at him.

‘Please don’t move,’ he added.

‘Ok,’ she mumbled.

Lisa shut her eyes again. The ambulance man was saying something else but she didn’t hear him.

How had this happened? she wondered.

One moment she had been driving along the motorway the next another car had ploughed into her side and she had spun and flipped. At least that’s how it had seemed to her. Perhaps, that was just her mind thinking of it like a movie.

She wished she could rewind this back like a movie. At least then she might try to do something differently. Maybe more lanes or slow down, just something that might have made a difference.

‘We are going to cut you out now. Please stay still,’ the ambulance man said.

Lisa took a few deep breaths and focused her mind winding back time. However, nothing she could do would change what had happened.