Hiraeth #atozchallenge

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Hiraeth; a homesickness for a home you can’t return to or that never was. 

I went back the other day. I don’t know why but I was just passing. I had been to a job interview at that new office block. It was nothing special, just a call center that was expanding but easy work I could do.

On the way back, I went a different route, I guess out of old habit. I went down the road we always walked to school on. Passed the ‘big’ houses and row of trees. It’s gone now that school but the houses and tress are still there. After that though everything had changed.

Those long narrow roads we use to play on are now normal roads going around the new housing estate. The blocks of flats that we all use to have live in have been wiped away as if they were never there.

The park is still there though and I pulled up there to have a wander about. It was quiet, but I guess for the middle of a week day that it normally was. Leaving my car, I had a look around and noticed they’ve upgraded the park. There’s a whole new play set, a skateboard area and a football pitch. The old duck pond had been giving a make over too.

I probably looked liked a salesman walking around, just without a briefcase and or clipboard. It was hard to know where my flat had once been. There hand’t really been streets as it had been all one place. The new names streets give me no hint. Nor was the old dead tree stump there or the little corner shops.

The houses look nice though, better then the grey stacks we called home. I realised I missed them. I hadn’t thought about my childhood home in years but standing here now I felt the longing for my old room. We’d play games and stay up late, annoying the neighbors with our music. There had been bad times and good, like everyone else.

I saw a curtain move and a small dog began barking at a window of the house I’d stopped at. I turned and walked back to my car. There was nothing else to see and do here. That feeling of wanting to go back stayed with me but I knew I only could in my memories now.

I got the job by the way.

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Spawn #TwitteringTales

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It’s strange to think that my fondest memories as a child was going out each spring and collecting frog spawn. It just seemed so natural and innocent. It probably started my career too! I’m now head frog and toad keeper at the zoo.

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2018/03/20/twittering-tale-76-20-march-2017/ with thanks).

Snowman #Sundayphotofiction

26 Jade Wong March 4th 2018

When you are a child snow is magical and fun. As a adult, snow loses that and becomes inconvenience. The simple tasks became almost trial like with everyone battling to win. These thoughts came to me as I watched from my living room window. The snowflakes was coming down heavily once again and laying a top of the inches deep snow that had already fallen.

I heard my boyfriend coming downstairs and I walked out into the hallway to meet him.

‘Let’s go build a snowman in the garden,’ I said.

He stared blankly at me. His mind processing what I’d just said and checking it was correct.

I started grabbing my coat and boots.

‘Why?’ he asked.

I shrugged, ‘I just fancy it. Remember when you were a kid and it snowed? It was a thing you always did alongside snowball fights and sledging.’

‘Sure,’ he said, though his voice was still uncertain.

We dressed and headed outside. The snow fell and melted on us. I felt an icy breeze on my face. Leaving deep footprints, we circled the garden and began building a large ball of snow.

Slowly, that magic of childhood came back to me.

 

(Inspired by; https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2018/03/04/sunday-photo-fiction-march-4th-2018/ with thanks).

Between #Writephoto

I don’t remember much about the Between, but mum said I spent a lot of my childhood there. I was an only child and Mum was a single parent on the run from her abuse ex-husband, a father I never knew. We moved around so much, not having much contact with anyone. Years later, I asked her why that was, couldn’t she have gone to the police or someone for help? She said, things back then were just different. It was normal for a husband to hit is wife.

I didn’t go to school and was only let out sometimes, so the Between was my imaginary world. Mum said it started when we stayed in a semi-abandoned farmhouse when I was around six. She let me out to play in a wild meadow and I came back talking about fairies and unicorns.

From then, I would often talk aloud and play with the things from the Between. I drew pictures too, to show mum what the animals and people were like. She kept some of them that I had drawn in a small sketch book. There was a fairy princess and queen, a unicorn, strange dragonflies and butterflies, gremlins, goblins, imps, pixies and other fantasy creatures.

‘You must have told me about them and I just imagined it all!’ I laughed to my mum.

‘No. I never said anything about any make believe things,’ mum explained, ‘not even Father Christmas or God.’

‘Oh…Then I must have read about it somewhere,’ I wondered.

‘Perhaps. I don’t remember,’ she replied, ‘I was sad when you grew out of it though.’

I hummed as I thought back. It was hard to remember clearly, but I started high school in one of the towns we were hiding out in. Something about being forced to go…But it meant that town became our permanent home. I had something of a normal life then and the Between was lost to me.

‘I guess it was a childhood thing,’ I added with a shrug, ‘but why were you sad?’

‘Because it meant you were grown up.’

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/02/15/thursday-photo-prompt-between-writephoto/ with thanks).

Dollhouse #FirstLineFridays

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‘I don’t care what you do with it. I just want it gone,’ Alex said, pointing at the dollhouse.

I withdrew my hand from the dolls’ living room and looked up at my older sister. She had a full black bin bag in one hand and a flat empty one in the other. We were surrounded by so much stuff in my late uncle’s attic it was hard to believe she could just single out one thing to just get rid of.

‘Why?’ I asked, ‘don’t you think your daughters, Sophie and Lucy would like it?’

It was hard to tell in the dim light of a single, dusty bulb, but Alex’s face seemed to pale. Her expression become tighter as if she was holding all her emotions in but I could see she was upset and distressed. She turned away, collecting herself.

‘Fine. I’ll take it for my Millie then. I’ll keep it till she’s a bit older though,’ I added.

I looked back at the dollhouse. It was a fine thing, modelled on famous Victorian ones but made more cheaply. Red brick wall paper covered the outside, only curling a little at the corners, the window frames were white but held clouded glass panes and the chimney was wobbly.

Two doors opened to reveal the inside which was divided into 4 floors then seven different rooms by staircases in the middle. The ground floor had a kitchen and servants’ bedroom. The next floor had a grand living room on the left with a fancy dinning room on the right. The third floor had a master bedroom to the right and a double children’s bedroom on the left. At the top, was an attic children’s playroom.

All the rooms were made of dark wood – walls and floor, some of which was covered by patterned wallpaper and rugs. The pretend Victorian furniture looked original and complete, sitting in the rooms I expected the pieces to be in. There were seven dolls; a butler, a cook, a maid, a gentleman, a lady, a boy and girl. They were all dressed in faded clothes and made of china.

‘You can’t,’ Alex said in a shaky voice, ‘I want it gone. Into the skip now!’

I sighed and fought back arguing, it wasn’t worth it, ‘I’ll get Michael to move it later. It’s too heavy for me.’

Closing the dollhouse’s doors, I moved on to helping my sister sorting through things. The dolls and their house lingered in my mind and when our husbands turned up at the end of the day, I had mine packed the dollhouse into our car with some other of things. I made sure to keep Alex busy so she didn’t see him taking it.

At home, we put the dollhouse and everything else in the spare bedroom to be sorted for later. Sitting before the house, I opened the doors and looked at the little dolls. They could almost be Victorian originals but I knew nothing about that. I carefully arrange them in the rooms they most fitted in; the cook and butler in the kitchen, the lady and gentleman in the living room, the maid making the beds, the children in the playroom attic. Wondering all the time why my sister had just wanted to get rid of it.

The next day, we were back in the attic again and I just had to ask her why.

‘What was with the dollhouse yesterday?’ I asked over a pile of cardboard boxes we were opening.

Alex was quiet then she said, ‘you took it home didn’t you?’

I pressed my lips together and pretended to be busy writing a label ‘glass’ to put on the box before me.

‘It’s fine. It doesn’t matter,’ Alex replied, sadly.

‘Tell me,’ I responded, ‘is it haunted?’

‘No…really, it has nothing to do with the dolls’ house.’

I waited, wanting to break the silence but knowing she needed the chance to open up.

Slowly, Alex began, ‘Before you were born, mum was sick and dad was away with the army. Uncle agreed to look after me and I moved in for a few months. His and wife daughter had long moved out but since he couldn’t bear being in her bedroom, I was put into the spare.’

Her words sparked something familiar; a family story I had heard before about the time our mum was ill in hospital. Alex had been eight then and there had been no one else to look after her.

‘I don’t know why I did it, but one night I couldn’t sleep, so I went into our cousin’s bedroom,’ Alex picked up, ‘I saw the dollhouse and was so drawn to it, I flung open the doors and began playing with the dolls. Uncle found me and he was…so angry…He took me over his knees and lifted my nightdress. He beat me with a slipper. I cried and cried. Then he dragged me out and threw me back into bed.’

‘That’s horrible! I gasped, ‘you told right?’

Alex shook. Her head was down and partly turned away from me. She was quietly sobbing. In the gloom, it as hard to tell if she was crying or not yet. Her hands were wrapped around something; a piece of cloth?

‘The next night, he came into my bedroom, saying how sorry he was. He hugged me and then he started…’ Alex dragged in a deep breath, ‘touching me…it felt wrong, I struggled against him but there was nothing I could do. He said he’d make me feel better. That everything would be okay….’

I bite my lip and tried to reach through the boxes before us, but my sister was just out of touch. She didn’t seem to care though. She was lost to her past thoughts now.

Alex wiped her face and carried on, ‘he told me to keep quiet about it. No one would listen to me anyway, mum was dying. So, I didn’t say anything and he got into bed with me often after that. As praise, he let me play with his daughter’s toys but I found no joy in them. I never told anyone, not even when dad came home and mum got better. Then you arrived and everything changed.’

‘You should have told someone,’ I growled, balling my fists.

Alex rubbed her eyes and stood up. I hurried to my feet too and crossed the distance between us. We hugged tightly.

‘It doesn’t matter now. He’s gone and so have mum and dad,’ Alex uttered.

‘But…’ I trailed, she was right, what could be done now?

‘I can finally move on,’ Alex cut back in, ‘that’s all that matters now.’

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2018/02/16/first-line-friday-february-16th-2018/ with thanks).

Someone Lives There Still #FridayFictioneers

It was hard to imagine that anyone would want to stay in a city destroyed by war but some had no choice. Driving down the once busy roads, framed by pleasant buildings which were now bombed out hollows, I spotted the smaller corner shop where I had spent most of my money as a child. Surprisingly, it was still open! Though the attached home of the owners was ruined.

I slowed and saw people moving passed the windows. They were shopping despite the empty shelves. Life was carrying on as normal.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2018/01/24/26-january-2018/ with thanks).

The Light

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I hadn’t walked in Crow Woods since we had moved away thirty years ago. Trailing my fingers across the rough trunk bark of the first tree, I took a deep breath. The heavy scent of damp soil and green nature with a hint of pine was all too familiar. Underneath me on the single track, mud coated my boots and there was touch of frost and ice in places no one had yet been.

The sight of all the trees like old friends, made me recall my childhood. Everyday, I’d come here to play, my imagination fuelled by the nature and freedom. I hadn’t needed anyone else or any toys, I had searched and used what the woods had. Sticks had became swords to fight off monsters, the stream became a mighty river that I sailed on and tree hallows had turned into deep caves.

I smiled at the memories. I had been so lucky. Pausing, I looked around and admired the bare trees as they reached skyward. Birds were singing in the distance and there was a breeze now knocking things together. I shut my eyes and thought if I listened hard enough I could hear the ghost of my mother’s voice calling me home.

Mum didn’t like me staying out once it got dark. I had to agree with her as once the light had gone from the sky something seemed to happen to Crow Woods. It was a hard feeling to describe but it was like the atmosphere changed to a dark, grim feeling. You could no longer trust the trees or the ground, they harboured shadows with ill intent. But the light was the worse part.

Reaching the last stretch of trees, I ducked under their shade as if I was a shy child again. Stretching in front of me was a low raise, framed by a rusty wire fence then wild fields surrounding a hill with a flat top. I couldn’t see it now because of all the growth but this was Crow Farm and up there had been the house.

A lingering fear grew in my stomach as I remembered everything. Only once, I had been up to that hill and stood in the ashes of the house. I had told my parents and they had forbidden me to return. It was dangerous and trespassing, if anyone catches you they could shoot you! Despite my fear, curiosity stayed with me but I didn’t leave Crow Woods again. Though I came close countless times.

I heard a woman singing sweetly, often on cloudy afternoons when I had followed the stream too far down. I would go looking for her but I would never find her and instead end up on the boarder of Crow Farm. On Sundays, I would hear children playing and laughing when there was no one else there. When it rained and I tried to go home, some strange wanting to be in the woods would overcome me and I’d have to fight it off.

Then I started seeing the light. It was a single beam from a high window, but it was so strong that it shone out over the trees. It came on cloudy and rainy days, in the evening whenever the daylight was low so that It would be seen more clearly. I followed the light sometimes, when I was feeling brave and I would end up at Crow Farm. There on the hill, I would see the shadow outline of the the house with one of the upstairs rooms lit up.

I didn’t tell anyone. I thought at first it was just my imagination but it was just too real to be. Later on, fear kept me away as I started seeing figures and hearing piano music coming from the house. I stopped following the light and thought that would solve everything. I tried to go back to normal but I could never play in Crow Woods like I could be before.

One winter night, I woke up and found the light in my bedroom! It was shinning through my window and the beam was leading straight out to the farm house. I screamed and screamed but It didn’t stop. Only when my parents came in would the light leave and they thought I was having nightmares. There was no pattern to when the light would come but I knew it was not going to go away.

My parents tried everything; doctors, specialist, moving my bedroom, moving schools then finally we had moved house. Mum had always wanted to live on the coast and it was there that I found peace after six years. The light had become a faded memory, nothing more then a childhood accident that I grew out of.

Standing here now, all that was hard to believe but I knew it was true. The Light was still calling me, it always had been.         

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).

Outhouse #FridayFictioneers

In the eighties, my uncle owned a small shop in a row of five others with rooms above them built in the 1920’s which also had a shared toilet outside. As a child, I was so scared to go out to the tiny brick shelter that I wouldn’t ‘go’ unless I super had to. It was freezing and dark, home to many spiders and smelt stale. I never met anyone else using the toilet, thankfully.

When the council knocked the whole row down, long after my uncle had passed away, I went to see the demolition and to see goodbye to the toilet that had haunted me.

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/11/29/1-december-2017 with thanks).

In The Forest

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She told me to meet her there. The place we had always met at as teenagers. I would have preferred a warm cafe with a choice of posh coffees and cakes, like a real first date should be but for whatever reason she had chosen to resurface our painful youths.

Climbing over the small hill, I tried to peer through the trees but they had grown wild and thick, their numbers perhaps doubling over the ten years since I’d last been here. Unsure, if I was now going the right way in the woods, I looked around for any signs. Anything I might have recognised was long gone.

Walking on, I trusted my gut that this was the right way and pushed through the low branches. Down before me, nestled in-between a clump of small trees and tall grass was the small abandoned wooden cabin. I smiled and hurried forward, expecting to see her there leaning out of the window as she often did, like a princess in a castle awaiting her prince.

There was no one there. I looked around and saw that the place was still in usable condition. Though I had to duck and squeeze through the door. Two windows let in some dim light on either side and it seemed that no one had been in awhile. Some old posters, torn from magazines and comics hung on the wall. I spotted a few at the back that I recognised; Superman, Batman and a few early nineties rock bands. On the low table were some empty bottles and cans, one of the chairs was knocked over and the old sofa that I recalled so fondly was gone.

There was a rickety staircase to my left and going over, I decided it wouldn’t hold my weight. I hadn’t put a lot on since being a teenager, going to the gym every two – three days helped that but testing the stairs I could easily see they weren’t stable. I stared up at the opening above, my mind remembering that there had camping beds and sleeping bags up there for those nights we boys had been brave enough to sleep out here.

Turning away, I walked out and there she was passing by the same trees I had done. I stopped and took her in. Of course, she had aged and put on a bit of weight too. Her hair was still chestnut brown but a lot shorter. She was wearing tight jeans with the ends tugged into high boots and a blue jumper; not the bright wild style of clothes that had draped her past self.

I felt a mixture of nervous, excitement and embarrassment, just like when she had first contacted me online. What would she think of me now? Would the sparks still be there? Other thoughts circle but I pushed them to the side as she drew near, having spotted me soon after I had her.

She smiled, tucked a loose stranded of hair behind her ear and came to stand before me. Her eyes roamed over me and she seemed satisfied. She held out her hand and took mine, the smile growing on her face.

‘I was worried you wouldn’t come,’ she said gently.

‘Well…I wanted to see you too,’ I explained.

She nodded and appeared shy, her eyes only glancing to my face. She squeezed my hand and focused on the old cabin. I looked over my shoulder at it, wondering what she was thinking.

‘It feels like so long ago…’she uttered then turned to me, ‘You’ve never been back here since?’

I shrugged and answered, ‘maybe once or twice after you left, but then….there didn’t seem any point.’

I felt and heard her take in a shaky breath.

‘It doesn’t matter now,’ I responded quickly.

I tugged her hand and led her to the cabin, feeling like a teenager again.

‘It’s not quite how I remember it,’ I pointed out.

She nodded, ‘I know! When I found it a few months back I couldn’t believe. I thought like my old house it would have been knocked down. I’m so happy it’s still here.’

We stopped close to the doorway and we looked up together. Then I felt the touch of her clothes against mine, her breath on my neck and her lips brushing my cheek. I turned to her, feeling the old stirring of our first love. I wrapped my arms around her, drawing her close and kissing her on the lips.

 

(Inspired from; https://allaboutwritingandmore.wordpress.com/2017/09/15/daily-picture-prompt-258/ with thanks).