Petrichor #atozchallenge

pexels-photo-320008

Petrichor; the pleasant smell of the earth after rain. 

Everything smells better after it’s rained. There’s a cleanness in air which my ma said was God washing and cleansing everyone. I use to believe that without a doubt. Now though, I’m not sure. There’s so much I believed in as a child which has faded now I’m adult.

It’s strange how different things are after the rain. You notice the pools and reflections of things more. The sounds of splashing wheels and feet. The dripping of drops off things. I randomly remember a boy once telling me that the rain was actually a leak from Heaven’s showers.

I wondered for ages how that was possible and pictured angels having showers all together. Or God having a bath and all the water overflowing. Maybe that was the real reason behind a flood?

When you’re a child it’s easier to believe in these things. As an adult you are more logic and less imaginative. You know how rain is made and why it falls. The novelty of it has worn off too, like snow. I use to love snow! Now, it’s just a pain.

Even though, I know the truth behind things now, it doesn’t take the pleasure away from them. During the rainfall and afterwards, I open my window to let all the smells and sounds in. I sit on the ledge and take deep breaths till I feel calmer. I try to think of nothing at all, but sometimes like today, my mind wonders.

I look up at the sky, where the dark clouds roam and a few rain drops still linger. Are God and the angels up there right now having a bath and cleansing the poor below?

Creepy Doll Face

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I looked up and there she was staring down at me again. My breath caught and I chocked on a bit of water I hadn’t swallowed. A coughing fit hit my chest and I had to turn away whilst it felt like I was coughing up a lung. I couldn’t breath and panic shot through me.

I sat down, luckily landing on Harriet’s bean bag or else I would have been on the floor. I rubbed my chest and calmed myself. Most of the coughing subsided and I was able to think again. I took a few depth breaths and tried not to think about anything other then my breathing.

Reaching up to the small desk, I took down the bottle of water I’d brought upstairs with me. Unscrewing the cap, I took a sip, testing my throat. It seemed okay. I took a few more and shut my eyes. Music was still rocking through my headphones. I slipped them off, wanting a few moments without Meat Loaf singing his love to me.

The coughing stopped and I took a mouthful of water. Feeling better, I put the cap back on and tried not to look up again. I scanned my ten year old daughter’s bedroom. Taking in the bright pink princess wallpaper, Harriet’s collection of unicorn teddies, all her books, the doll’s house and all her fake looking dollies.

The vacuum and cleaning bucket stood in the middle of the room like intruders. I should get back to cleaning. Harriet hated anyone cleaning her room, luckily she was a very organised and her bedroom was always tidy. Still though, there were things a child couldn’t clean.

I went to stand up and my eyes began drifting up to the top shelf again. I stopped myself, not wanting to look at her again. Those piecing blue-grey eyes were a death trap and all that blonde curly hair wasn’t as innocent as it looked. I focused on the floor and the vacuum, planning what I was going to do next.

I couldn’t escape her though and I lifted my eyes upwards. She was sat on the corner of the highest shelf above Harriet’s bed, where all the precious things Harriet was too young yet to play with sat. There were things like pot ponies, glass teddy bears, a paper weight with a real flower inside and the doll.

My breath caught again and I was taken in by her as if she held power over me. Her china face was snow white and perfectly heart shaped. Her red painted lips were a tight bow as she faked a smile. Her glass eyes had little black eyelashes brushed on which give a frame to her glaring gaze. Her face was framed by all that blonde hair which there appeared to be far too much of. She was wearing a pale blue dress, trimmed with white lace at all the edges. Her limbs had been arranged so that her arms and hands rested on the shelf and her feet hung down. She had on tiny white lacy socks and blue leather shoes.

‘It’s just a doll,’ I said aloud, breaking the spell.

I took a deep breath and looked away. I got up and went over to the vacuum. I plugged it in and turned it on. I cleaned the carpet and I tried to let the noise of the vacuum drown out my thoughts, but it didn’t work.

The doll had only been here two weeks. A late birthday present from Harriet’s grandmother. The woman was almost a hundred and in a care home down south, near the coast. The doll was probably around the same age as her. Harriet had only meet her twice,  as a baby, so Harriet wouldn’t remember. Mrs. Perkins did though! And every birthday and Christmas Harriet would get something in the post from her. Normally, they were suitable gifts, but that china doll totally wasn’t.

Even though, Harriet had cried and moaned, I had put the doll on the shelf and told her could have it when she was older. It hadn’t worked though. I had been hearing Harriet talking to the doll as if it was her best friend. Also, I kept finding the doll about the place. Yesterday, it had been in the bathroom, on Saturday it had been on the sofa and this morning, I swear the doll was in the kitchen, but then I hadn’t been able to find it.

Now, the doll was staring me down.

Ignoring it, I finished my cleaning. Then as I was leaving the room, I reached up and pulled the doll off the shelf. She slide easily enough down. Stuffing her in my cleaning bucket, I took that and the vacuum downstairs again. I put anything away then debated what to do with the doll.

Finally, I got a plastic bag from the cupboard and wrapped her in that. Her creepy face didn’t seem to happy about that. I didn’t care! Then I went up into the attic and left the doll on an old wooden chair that had belong to my great-granddad.

The rest of the day was normal and I had this strange peace of mind. However, when Harriet came home the world collapsed.

‘Where is she? Where is Esme?’ Harriet wailed.

‘Who?’ I asked.

I was in the kitchen, sorting out dinner and my husband was in the living room. I’d picked Harriet up from school two hours or so ago and she’d only now just noticed her doll was missing.

‘Grandma’s doll,’ Harriet clarified.

‘I’ve not seen her. Did you leave her laying around some place again? I’ve told you not to play with her, remember? She’s a special doll,’ I replied.

Harriet puffed out her cheeks, trying to hold back tears as she thought.

‘Why don’t you ask you dad to help you look?’ I suggested.

With a huff, Harriet stormed off.

For the next few minutes, I heard my husband and daughter searching the whole house. I busied myself with making the meal. When I called them both to eat, Harriet declared the doll was still missing.

‘I’m sure she’ll turn up,’ I said.

Luck

PHOTO PROMPT © Shaktiki Sharma

Kobi looked up at the post then pointed out the bright green and black insect that was hanging there.

‘Granny! A cricket!’ Kobi called.

‘Huh?’ Granny asked.

She bent down and looked through her huge, thick glasses.

‘No, it’s not. It’s a grasshopper,’ Granny muttered.

Kobi’s shoulders sank and disappointment etched across his face.

Granny moved her glasses up and down, ‘maybe a locust,’ she added thoughtfully, ‘but not a cricket. Too big.’

‘Awww, I really wanted a lucky cricket,’ Kobi sighed.

Granny smiled, ‘We’d have to go out of town to find one of them. Crickets don’t like all this noise.’

Kobi pulled a face.

‘Why do you need luck?’ Granny asked.

‘For the maths test,’ he replied.

Granny took his hand, ‘I can think of better lucky things for that,’ she answered and led him away.

 

(Inspired from: https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/03/08/5881/ PHOTO PROMPT © Shaktiki Sharma, with thanks.)

Low Tide

low-tide

When the tide finally went out the tiny pink shoe was left half buried in the wet sand. A baby crab scuttled across it and paused wondering if he had found a new shell to call home. He sit in the shoe for a few minutes then decided it was just too big for him and scuttled away.

The men gathered on a sand dune. Flatting down the spiky marram grass with their damp clothes. They breathed the sea salt air heavily and shared around the last flasks of water, tea and whisky. In depressed silence, they looked out at the low tide and long strip of yellow beach over which the setting sun was casting a colourful display.

As the darkness gathered, the men said their goodbyes and left, fading back into the village with a heaviness in their hearts.

(From; https://scvincent.com/2017/02/02/thursday-photo-prompt-low-tide-writephoto/)

 

You Can Never Know

black-and-white, cars, city

I sit in my car on the other side of the street and I monitor your house. It’s a busy night were cars driving past, pulling up and leaving. For a few minutes, I think I’ve got the wrong address. Did you move? Or maybe you’ve never lived here? But then the door opens and you step out.

I see you turn to say something into the house then you shut the door and began walking. I know it’s you, even in the orange light from the streetlamps. You look so much like her and yet not. My mind begins thinking about how things could have been as it does so often. I always wanted a daughter and you could have so easily been mine.

I let your mum go though and you with her. It was better that way, better for us all, but who really says that would have been so?

I want to get out of the car and chase after you. I want to grab your hand in mine and say, ‘I’m your father! The man who brought you up wasn’t really him. Your mother had an affair before her wedding night but she still choice him. Her and I knew the truth though and now I want you to know that too.’

And what will you reply? That I’m joking? A liar? I’ve got the wrong person?

Perhaps.

In my head though, you look at me and see the similarities between us. You cry out, ‘father!’ We hug and our lives become more filled because we have each other.

I can’t do it though. As much as I want to, I know it’d ruin your life and the memory of you mum. So, I stay sat in the car.

The Dying Light (Part 4)

lantern, light, rustic

Nathaniel braced himself for going outside. He could hear the wind and the rain knocking against the lighthouse door.

‘We’ll need the lantern again,’ Tom’s voice called from behind him.

Nathaniel glanced over his shoulder as the old station master lit the candle and closed the lantern’s door.

‘I won’t need to take my case. Just a few things,’ Nathaniel announced.

Opening his case on the floor, because there was nowhere else to search through it, Nathaniel dug out a large cross, a bible and a small bottle of Holy Water. Pausing he debated what else to take. He had never done this before, he was not that kind of religious man and he was more use to standing before the congregation and leading them in hymens and prayers.

‘You ready now, Father?’ Tom’s voice spoke out.

Nathaniel nodded and closed his case. Then he followed Tom to the door and they both stepped out into the bad weather. The wind blew hard around them, making sounds like a crying person as it swept around the marsh. Rain hit and blinded them, making the walk down the rock steps difficult. The candle flame in the lantern flickered and Tom had to hold the side with the broken panel close to him to stop the light from going out.

Slowly they arrived at the edge of the low bridge and Nathaniel blinked away the rain in his eyes. He could hardly see though and he thought for a few moments he could hear the very distant sea pounding on the rocky shore. The light from the lighthouse flashed by and for a few seconds, Nathaniel thought it was lightening and the sound he had mistaken for the sea had actually been thunder. Then though he looked up and saw the lighthouse beam turning slowly around.

‘Here is good,’ Nathaniel said trying to be bold.

‘I thought you might want to go more in the middle!’ Tom shouted over the wind, ‘closer to where the boy died.’

‘And where did he-?’ Nathaniel cried then the words were snatched from his mouth by a gust of wind.

‘No one knows for sure, but further out,’ Tom concluded after the wind finished whipping them.

Gritting his teeth, Nathaniel walked on, feeling the bridge under his feet and clutching the cross, bible and bottle to his chest. After a few paces he stopped again.

‘This is good enough! Bring the light here!’ he called out.

Tom moved closer till their shoulders were touching and they could huddle over the bible and lantern together.

‘What was the boy’s name?’ Nathaniel asked.

‘Paul, I believe!’ Tom shouted.

‘Paul? To the spirit of Paul, if you are out here, we do not mean you any harm, we wish to help you. Come towards us,’ Nathaniel began, ‘your sister has been worried about you for so many years, but now it’s time you went towards the light and up into Heaven. Your family is awaiting for you there. You will not have to be lonely or lost ever again.

Nathaniel paused for breath and felt Tom shivering violent beside him. A worrying thought entered Nathaniel’s mind; he did not two deaths in his hands tonight. Swallowing water that tasted salty, he held out the cross and hoped he was doing this right.

‘Paul come towards us now! Let us help you cross over! Go into the light, rise up to the Holy Father and Mother. I release you from this Earth and into their hands. Go now and be at peace!’

Giving the cross a little wave, Nathaniel then tucked it back in the crook of his arm and palmed the bottle of Holy water. Carefully he unscrewed the lid and let a few drops fall out before closing the bottle again. The wind snatched the Holy water drops away and mingled them with the rain. Whatever power they might have had seemed lost but Nathaniel hung on to his faith.

‘I bless this place!’ Nathaniel screamed into the wind, ‘I release all the spirits that have lingered! Go into Heaven! Go and be at peace! Go!’

The wind howled and pushed hard against them as more rain flooding down on them. Tom lost his footing and waved his arms around to try and keep his balance. The lantern light waved and flickered around. Nathaniel grabbed and held on to him, struggling to juggle the things in his hands too.

Somehow, they steadied each other and the light candle survived. Pushing Tom ahead of him, they made their way back to the rock steps. Behind him, Nathaniel swore he could hear people crying but it must have been the wind. Feeling their way up the rocks, like tried and injured sailors, they reached the lighthouse door.

Tom opened the door and they tumbled in, slamming the door shut and fighting the wind as they locked it. Tom set the lantern and himself down on the first step. Nathaniel slumped against the door and they both caught their breaths back.

‘Is it done?’ Tom finally asked.

‘I did my best,’ Nathaniel answered, ‘though with the storm it was hard to tell anything.’

Tom nodded, ‘best go up and tell her.’

Collecting the lantern again, Tom started climbing the stairs.

Nathaniel opened his case and placed the now wet cross, bible and bottle inside. Closing it again, he picked up the worn handle and trailed after Tom upstairs. Water dripped off them and back down the steps. In the quietness of the lighthouse they could both hear the storm now raging outside.

They reached Mrs. Fitz and found her comfortable in bed still.

‘It’s done,’ Nathaniel said coming to her side and sitting down.

The dying woman didn’t reply.

Nathaniel took her hand which she had just slipped back under the blanket. He patted the warm skin and began praying, whispering the words softly with a bowed head.

Tom moved to the other side of the bed, the handle of the lantern tightly clutched in both his hands. The candle flame still glowing behind the glass.

Nathaniel finished his prayer and just as he was about to start another, Mrs Fitz’s fading voice uttered, ‘thank you, Father.’

‘Your welcome. Sleep now,’ Nathaniel whispered back then he took up the Lord’s Prayer.

The storm carried on through the night, seemingly attacking the lighthouse but the building had stood for hundreds of years and was well use to taking on bad weather. As dawn finally broke, grey and watery, the wind quieted down and the rain turned back into a light drizzle.

Nathaniel finished his final prayer and looked up at Mrs Fitz’s face. She was gone.

Tom, having placed the lantern down hours ago when the candle had finally melted and go out, drew up a blanket and lay it over her face.

Nathaniel took in a few deep breaths and moved his stiff body. He stood up slowly, feeling weighed down by numb limbs.

‘Thank you, father,’ Tom whispered, ‘I know she will be fine now.’

‘Of course. She is at peace,’ Nathaniel said.

‘I shall walk you back to the station and signal a train to stop for you,’ Tom spoke out.

‘Thank you,’ Nathaniel replied as he collected his case, ‘might I go to the top of the lighthouse first?’

Tom glanced up then with a single nod turned towards the stairs. They went up and on the fourth floor was another bedroom this time with a double bed and dust growing thickly across everything. They went up again and Tom opened a heavy metal door and stepped out.

Nathaniel followed, feeling cold and wet air sweeping passed him. The huge light of the lighthouse which had now gone out dominated the roof floor. A rusty railing ran around the edge stopping anyone from falling off. Nathaniel went to over and looked out. Far in the distance, he thought he could make out the sea but all around him was the marsh. A stillness had settled over the tall grasses and stagnate water pools now, bring a calmness that seemed heavenly.

Nathaniel took a few deep breaths then thought he heard the sound of playful children laughing somewhere below him in the marshlands.

The End

The Dying Light (Part 3)

lantern, light, rustic

Nathaniel waited on the doorstep to the lighthouse listening to the rain and wind picking up. He knocked again, louder this time then felt a chill go up his spine.

What if I’m too late? he thought.

He reached for the door handle and tried it, the simple brass knob turned and the door opened on squeaky hinges. He shone the lantern in and though he had not given much thought to what he would find inside the lighthouse, he was pleasantly surprised.

Many years ago, someone had re-done up the lighthouse and turned into in a comfy home. The ground floor had been made into seem like the front hallway of a house. A light bulb with a white shade on it hung down from the ceiling. The walls were painted pale blue. A handmade rug covered a large area of the floor, an empty wooden hat stand stood next to wall hooks that held three coats and a small wire framed rack on the floor held a collection of boots and shoes.

Nathaniel collected his case and stepped inside. The stone spiraling stairs were straight ahead of him attracted to the wall on his left. Next to the stairs was a small table that held a very old fashioned phone and a vase of fake red roses. Then he spotted a totally out of place door set into the far wall with a little sign reading bathroom. He pondered this then wondered if he should take his coat and shoes off.

Footsteps sounded on the stairs, catching his attention.

An old man appeared coming down. He wearing a white shirt, blue jacket and blue trousers. A scrubby beard covered the lower half of his face and his blue eyes flashed with worry and panic.

‘Are you him?’ the old man cried, ‘Father Tawny?’

Nathaniel nodded, ‘yes, I am.’

‘I’m Tom, the station master…well, retired now. The trains don’t stop here any more. But I still volunteer from time to time. I was meant to meet you. But Mrs. Fitz, she begged me to stay with her in case she passed before you came,’ Tom gushed.

‘And is she…?’ Nathaniel trailed.

‘Hanging on, just about though…’ Tom added in a dropped voice.

‘Then I must- here,’ Nathaniel said and give the lantern to Tom, ‘Sorry, I stole it and broke it. I would not have made it across that marsh without it though, thank the Lord.’

Tom stared at the lantern as if he had never seen it before then nodded his head. He blew out the candle and placed the lantern down next to the table.

‘Come up, then,’ he spoke.

The old station master turned and led Nathaniel up the stairs. The first floor was a kitchen with the cooker, sink, work tops and cupboards special made to fit the rounded walls. A small fridge and freeze took up all the room under the stairs. A small table and two chairs stood in the middle. Above the sink was a net curtained window.

They carried up to the second floor which was a living room, once again the furniture had been made to fit the round walls. There was a sofa, an armchair, a TV stand, cupboards and a bookcase. Carpet covered the floor and wall lamps lit up the room. A window above the sofa had a curtain half drawn across it. Nathaniel marveled at it all. The place seemed so homely.

They climbed the third section of the spiral staircase and arrived in a dimly light room.

‘This is it. The bedroom,’ Tom pointed out as he came to a stop.

Nathaniel give a nod. Two small single beds was opposite them, bedside tables were either side with lamps on them, there was a small dressing table and a wardrobe tucked under the staircase which carried on upwards. A window was slotted between the two beds, a dark curtain pulled tightly across it.

‘Mrs. Fitz?’ Tom said softly and moved to the first bed.

Nathaniel followed him and saw an old woman laying in the bed. The blankets were pulled up tight around her so that only her face poked out. A white night cap was on her head, keeping her hair back. She seemed to be struggling to awake.

‘Sit down, Father,’ Tom said indicting a rickety wooden chair next to the bed.

Nathaniel placed his case down and sat.

‘Mrs Fitz? I’m Father Tawny. Shall we prayer together?’

The dying old woman’s eyes eased open and looked up at him.

‘Yes,’ she breathed through dry cracked lips, ‘but first you must do something for me.’

‘Yes?’

‘Hundreds of years ago, when the sea surround this lighthouse, the owners and men from the village use to wreak ships on the rocks by turning the light off. Then they would salvage what they could from whatever washed ashore,’ Mrs Fitz spoke.

Nathaniel frowned, wondering what that had to do with anything. He moved closer and listened more carefully as the dying woman began speaking again.

‘As a child, I would play with the children from the village and we played a game called Wreakers. In the early evenings, a few of us would be here and we would turn the light on and off as the other children pretended to be ships and tried to reach the lighthouse from the village across the marsh.’

Mrs Fitz stopped and drew in some shaky wheezy breaths.

‘Take your time,’ Nathaniel spoke gently.

Mrs Fitz wet her lips and continued, ‘one evening as we were finished playing Wreakers, I realised my younger brother had not returned. We set out looking for him, but we could not find him. I had to tell my parents and they with the other villagers searched for him. Finally, it was decided he had fallen into a deep marsh pool and drowned.’

‘Oh. I’m so sorry,’ Nathaniel uttered.

The bed clothes moved and a wrinkly weak hand appeared, reaching out to him. Nathaniel took it, clasping Mrs Fitz’s hand in between his. He brushed the cooling skin with his finger tips, trying to offer comfort to the old woman.

‘Please, Father. Go out into the marsh and help guide his spirit to Heaven. I hear him crying so often that I know he’s out there still. A little boy so lost and lonely.’ Mrs Fitz begged.

‘Yes, Of course,’ Nathaniel answered.

‘Do you need assistance, Father?’ Tom asked.

‘Go with him and be my eyes!’ Mrs. Fitz cried out.

‘I shall,’ Tom answered.

‘We will be back soon,’ Nathaniel uttered.

He stood and collecting his case followed Tom back down the stairs.

To Be Continued…

In The Deep

three line tales week 51 - danger deep water

It had been years since I’d last been at the water plant.

Standing on the gated platform, I looked out over the dark lapping water.

The memories came flooding back and I recalled a childhood lost to tragedy.

 

(From a photo prompt by: https://only100words.xyz/2017/01/19/three-line-tales-week-fifty-one , with thanks. Click to read the other stories the photo above inspired and maybe try writing one yourself.)

Metal City

PHOTO PROMPT © C.E. Ayr

Noah lay in bed, regretting he had ever wished to catch his friend Martin’s chickenpox. Being off school had been fun at first, but now he was bored. The sound of the front door bell brought him back from that thought and he listened as his mum went out to work and his grandfather came in to babysit.

As soon as his grandfather came into his room, Noah threw back the duvet and demanded a story. His grandfather settled into an old wooden chair and after a minute or so of thinking began;

In Metal City there were no humans and nor had there ever been. The origin stories always went along the lines of this; a band of rouge AIs and other robots escaped from a destruction faculty. Humans no longer felt they were needed but they thought differently. Somehow and often a great escape plot is told here, the AIs and robots made it out and into the wastelands.

They traveled far, over came many problems and some of them developed into more then their creators had originally planned for them. Finally, they came across a flat sandy piece of land and decided to create a place to live. Now each story tells this part different, for none knows how the robots made Metal City or where all the metal came from, but some say they took it with them and others say they found the reminds of an abandoned city which the harvest things from. However it happened, Metal City was born.

Then the robots began to make others and at first these robots were weaker versions of themselves. Over time though, these new robots and AIs got cleverer and cleverer and soon highly intelligent robots and AIs lived in the city. Of course, they built upon the first groups buildings and made even more fantastic structures.

They lived in harmony with no need for religion or money. The AIs and robots filled their days with building new things, researching and becoming more intelligent. And of course, they also passed on the origin stories to the next generations, but it wasn’t because they believed their history was importance it was to remind them all how little humans think.

Noah’s grandfather came to a stop. Noah stared at him, thinking deeply about the story. Finally he decided he didn’t like it and told his grandfather so. With a shrug his grandfather said that one day Noah would understand.

(Inspired from https://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/2017/01/11/13-january-2017/)

Shine

Free stock photo of light, art, water, space

 

The streetlamps’ orange glow reflected off the slowly falling snow, making the flakes shine like fairy lights. Then a gentle wind twisted the flakes away and they fell to the all ready white carpeted ground.

From her bedroom window, Charity watched and wished she could go out to play. However, the clock stated it was two am, well passed her bedtime. She sighed and watched the glass mist up under her nose. She pressed a finger to the mist patch, going to draw a C for her name when an idea came into her head.

Grabbing her desk chair, she put it against the window sill and climbed on top of it. With a lot of effort, she opened the top window. A blow of freezing air drifted into the room and around her. Ignoring it, she stretched her small hand out of the window.

A snowflake landed in her palm. She giggled at the coldness and watched it melting. Reaching out as far as she could, Charity felt more snow landing against her skin. She twirled her hand in it, feeling the softness of the flakes then the wetness as they melted.

Drawing back a frozen hand, Charity watched the snow falling thicker and faster. The streetlamps were the only lights on in the street, but they now could not penetrate through the white flurry. Darkness crept back in, making the snowflakes lose their magic and turn eerie looking.

The wind picked up, gusting the snow around and through Charity’s window. Gasping, she reached up to close it, but felt the wind tugging the latch away from her. Charity yanked the window close, but lost her balance on the chair at the same time and tumbled to the floor.

Landing hard, Charity tried not to cry out. She bite back tears and caught her breath. Slowly getting up, she rightened the chair and peered out of the window again. Snow was hitting her window hard and she could no longer see passed it. The winter storm that the news had warned of earlier and her parents had tutted over, had finally arrived.

Wiping her face, she put the chair back under the desk. Then going to the window again, she half drew the curtains. A few minutes ago, she had hardly heard anything, but now Charity could hear the wind howling and the snow hitting everything. Shivering, she went back to bed and hugged her favourite bear tightly.

 

(Prompt from; https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/shine/)