Empty Chair

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Old Max had for many years sat in the chair outside his front door and watched the world go by. He waved to people he knew and yelled at the kids who played too loudly.

He had a dog called Bill, who loved to bark and charge at passersby.  Old Max would laugh and just say he was playing as Bill bit someone’s leg or tore someone’s coat. When Bill became too old to chase, He would sleep at Max’s feet and growl in his dreams.

Bill passed away and the loss made old Max angry and grumpy then before. Max ran after the children in the neighbourhood and took away their balls and other toys. Parents would go over to take to him but Max was close the door in the faces.

For a few months, Max was seen to yell at no one and people said he was crazy. There was little anybody could do though but tell each other to stay away from the old man who seemed to be working his way through something.

It wasn’t until winter fell that Max stayed inside and the children rejoiced in their outside playtime. From his windows, he watched them and grumbled at their fun. What so delighted them about the cold snow and icy pathways? Max thought he could dimly recall from his own youth but it had been so long ago and his memories were full of holes.

Old Max went to bed on night soon after Christmas day and didn’t get up again.

For years, his chair sat empty on his doorstep weathering away until final the house was able to be sold and be brought back to life again.

Plans

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‘Here are the plans for the wind farm and new pier,’ Tom said and hung his drawing up.

A ripple of sniggers and giggles went around the boardroom.

Tom turned to look at his drawing…

It wasn’t his!

The picture showed a line of wind turbines out at sea and a pier below them and were those stick people on the pier?

It looked like one of his children had tried to cope his finally draft.

‘Erm…sorry,’ Tom mumbled, ‘wrong drawing.’

Shuffling through his papers then his briefcase, Tom tried to keep his cool. He need this to go well and nothing was going to stop him. Realising all his drawings were gone, he coughed and turned back to the boardroom and indicted the drawing presented before the stern business investors.

‘Anyway,’ Tom picked up, ‘as you can see this gives us the rough idea of what is going to happen….’

Trying to Juggle

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Working from home sounded great but in reality it was horrible. The kids always wanted something then the dog wanted something, then the wife was yelling at the kids or the dog of just in general.

Having a meeting was like dealing doing a deal with the devil. I was tried of telling people to un-mute themselves or turn there sound out or was that a fire happening in their background?

I just wanted a few minutes peace to write this report. My children stuck stickers to my back, I ran the dog’s paw over with my chair and my wife was asking what time I’d finished work because it was my turn to cook tonight.

The house was always a mess, the children kept moving my things and I just wanted my nice clean office back!

Right, enough is enough! I’m going to empty the shed and turned that into a office. I could lock the door and be at peace in there. I could carry my briefcase across the garden each morning and pretend I was going into work. I could get a radio and a coffee machine….

Yes, that’s what I needed, an office away from office.

Sing #FirstLineFriday

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Do you hear the people sing? from Les Miserables strangely came to my mind as we watched from the balcony as below the people gathered. It seemed the whole country was flocking to the capital, their voices a mass of shouting words which made it hard to pick out what they were saying.

Drums and other instruments echoed along said the peoples’ voices, blocking out my chance to hear what was being said. There was a marching beat going on with the drums, though a few sounded out of the beat and perhaps a trumpet? or something else forcing it’s notes through.

Handmade banners and signs waved in the wind, the writing upon them moving as if the letters were alive. I picked out the words ‘rights’ and ‘for’ and ‘stand’ and ‘truth’. The normal things that protesters wrote about.

‘What are they doing, daddy?’ my five year old daughter, Betty asked.

‘They are unhappy about something and want people to know about it,’ I said.

I picked her up and held her tightly in my arms, so she could get a better view of events below.

The police were starting to gather now. Their uniforms and see-through shields marking them out from everyone else. For the moment they seemed not to be doing much other then preparing. If fighting broke out, I’d take my daughter inside and put a movie on really loudly.

‘But why, daddy?’ Betty asked.

‘Same reason when you get unhappy and want mummy and I to know about it, ‘ I replied simply.

‘Or Freddie?’

I glanced across at my wife and our three month old son. My wife had a worried look on her face and was clutching the baby, who was wrapped in a blanket, to her shoulder. She hadn’t said anything since we had come out to look at what was going on. I knew scenes like this reminded her of the unrest in her home country.

‘Let’s go inside,’ I said gently.

‘But I want to see!’ Betty cried.

‘Maybe, another day,’ I answered and hustled my family safely inside.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2020/06/05/first-line-friday-june-5th-2020/ with thanks).

Highland #CCC

I didn’t want normal cows for my petting zoo. Though most children wouldn’t be bothered. I wanted something different, something more exciting.

I’m not sure why I picked Highland cattle. I guess I thought they looked kinda cute. They sure are bigger than I thought they were going to be but they do get the wow I wanted.

 

(Inspired by; https://crispinakemp.com/2020/05/06/crimsons-creative-challenge-78/ with thanks).

 

 

Frog Hunting

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I didn’t want my children stuck inside whilst we home schooled. I wanted them out exploring and learning for themselves. So, we went down to the ponds and streams of the wood.

There was lots to see and because it had rained yesterday, everything was full and bright. The children took off their shoes and socks and ran barefooted like pixies as they hunted animals.

‘Look mummy! A bug!’ my youngest cried.

‘It’a beetle,’ I replied.

‘Little fishes!’ cried another.

I laughed and told them, ‘they are tadpoles. Baby frogs.’

‘They don’t look anything alike!’

Simply, I told the children how frogs grew. Fascinated, we watched the black tadpoles swimming around. Then, we heard the croak croak call of a frog.

‘Can you find him?’ I asked.

Giggling, the children dashed off and I sat back and watched their delight. Soon, my oldest came back with his hands cupped together, a proud smile lighting up his face.

‘What do you have there?’  I questioned.

He opened his hands and a large frog jumped out and landed in my lap. With an echoing croak the frog jumped again into a tall patch of grass.

‘Oh no!’ my son cried and darted after the frog.

I laughed uncontrollably.

Freedom

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There was nothing out here but nature. I got up on the wooden fence of the pier and let the wind blow though my hair. Sea salt tingled my lips and waves lapped in my ears. It was a calm, cool night. The sky was dotted with stars and the moon was full.

My torch lay abandoned on a near by bench. Normally the pier was lit up to tempted people here to go on the rides, play the fun fair themed games and spend money. The lights hadn’t come on this year, there was no point because people had been told to stay at home.

I could no longer bare it and had escaped into the night. I was tried of the arguments with two teenagers, tried of trying to do maths with my other children and tried of trying to keep my toddler entertained for long enough for me to do some housework. I didn’t regret having seven children, I just had never imagined we’d been all trapped at home for weeks on end.

I shut my eyes, breathed in deeply and listened not just my ears but my heart. The sea whispered, singing the song it had done since the beginning of time. The waves rasped across the sand and shells on the beach behind me. A seagull called close by disturbed by my presence.

For a few seconds I thought about letting go. I could fall down with the whistling wind and part the wave below. The sea would consume me gladly and wrap me in a watery embrace for all eternity.

I felt the forward lurch in my body and placed my hands on the top rail to catch myself. I looked into the dark water below and decided not today. I got down, grabbed my torch and walked back the way I had come.

I had responsibilities and so much love still to give but the sea would always be waiting for me.

Iniquitous #AtozChallenge

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Iniquitous – grossly unfair and morally wrong.

It’s always so unfair and wrong. He’s got more then me or she’s broken it. He’s annoying me then she bit me! He started, she started, he did it, she did it!

Always fighting, like they are punishing you for having them both. Would it have been different if they were both girls or both boys? Doubtful. Siblings always fight. You did so with your own.

‘It’s not fair!’ he cries, ‘I hate her!’

‘I hate you more!’ she screams back.

You roll your eyes and silently beg for peace. Just five minutes like Mrs Elephant wanted.

‘What happened?’ you ask thinking you can play judge, jury and court all in one.

They spill the story of how one was doing something wrong but the other was sure it was right and unfair it was for the interruption to happen. How this or that might be broke, why it’s not his or her fault. He should be punished, no, she should be punished.

It’s the same old story, repeat time after time. What’s the point in trying to keep putting the bridge out of fire if it finds a way to carry on burning down?

‘Leave each other alone,’ you rule, ‘you go back to whatever it was and you come do something with me.’

Tongues stick out, there are pouts and tears. She stamps are foot and crosses her arms and declares, ‘its not fair! you love him more then me.’

Not that cliche again!

You say, ‘that’s not true. Do you want to do some baking?’

Another war stopped, another battle half won. You just hope this is a phrase they are going through. How can they love each other one moment and hate each other so much the next? It’s a bafflement never to be solved but then that’s siblings for you.

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

Sea Monster Chains #CCC

I had taken my two children to the newly restored old docks area. I was admiring the boats and my children were arguing about what sweets from the shops they wanted.

‘What’s that big chain for, Daddy?’ my six year old, son asked.

I looked and saw a huge and heavy, rusted iron chain.

‘For the sea monsters,’ I replied.

‘Sea monsters?’ my eight year old, daughter echoed.

‘Yes. It’s in case a sea monster gets into the dock and they have to capture it.’

‘And then what do they do with the monsters?’ my son asked.

‘They feed children to it!’ I shouted and playfully tried to grab them both as they shrieked with laughter.

 

(Inspired by; https://crispinakemp.com/2020/03/25/crimsons-creative-challenge-72/ with thanks).

Blown In On The Wind

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Returning from dropping the grandchildren off at school, I sank into my armchair and looked out the window at the storm I had just battled through. The wind was as strong as a car speeding on the motorway and it was driving the heavy rain and hailstones into you like shards of glass.

I turned the TV on, then left some daytime game show sounding in the background. I changed into slippers and a warmer jumper. There was housework to do but it could wait until later.

Sitting down again, I looked at the collection of photos on the mantel and the wall. There were many of my husband who had died six years ago, we had been married for fifty-two years. He had been in the army and though the idea of being an solider’s wife had worried me, I had enjoyed the travelling and many experiences.

There were photos of my only child, my daughter, Victoria and also her husband, Danial. Both had died in a car crash, five years ago. Then there were my grandchildren, ten year old, Beth and seven year old, Alex, smiling brightly in every photo.

I got out my knitting, feeling the need to relax. My joints were aching because of the cold and I couldn’t get warm enough. The joys of old age and having to look after young children once again. I would soon feel some energy back then I could do some chores.

A banging upstairs stilled the clicking of my needles. I looked up at the ceiling, listening as the bang came again. The wind was swinging a door about, that was all.

I got up and climbed the stairs, feeling pain in my hips and knees. At the top, I saw Beth’s door moving and banging against the frame as the wind blew about.

‘She didn’t shut her window probably, that child!’ I uttered.

I went in, closed and locked the offending window. Outside, the wind carried on raging away, leaving the bedroom freezing cold. Turning the heater up, I went to head back downstairs and put the kettle on.

Something white moved out of the corner of my eye and I turned to it. Was it a bird? No..it was something else….The shape seemed to grow and become more solid, yet still see through. The white colour became more cream and I saw the outline of a long dress drifting.

The more I stared the more the ghost took form before me until a young woman was standing before the bed. Her long hair was down to her waist and her face was full of sadness. As she looked around, confusion frowned her face then she went to the window and looked out as if she was lost.

‘Hello? I said gently.

No reply.

‘I can see you, ghost,’ I added.

The woman turned and looked at me slowly.

‘What are you doing here?’

She sighed and softly, almost in a whisper answered, ‘looking for my child.’

‘Are they here?’ I pressed.

‘No,’ she uttered, ‘the strong wind blew me into your house. I am sorry.’

‘It’s okay, pet. Would you like to stay until the weather passes?’ I asked, ‘some company meet be good for you.’

The ghost took a moment to think then nodded. She turned, taking the room in again.

‘This is my granddaughter’s room. Come down into the living room,’ I spoke.

I went back down and the ghost followed me. A cold draft trailed around her and her dress floated on a wind that seemed to be a part of her.

Settling in my chair and picking up my knit, I tried not to watch the ghost hovering around.

‘They have passed,’ she muttered after a few minutes.

I looked up and saw her before the photos, ‘yes, pet,’ I replied, though there wasn’t a need too but it did open a conversation, ‘you lost your child?’

‘At birth. I followed a day later,’ the ghost answered, ‘and I have been searching ever since.’

‘That’s why you are still here,’ I added.

‘Yes,’ agreed the ghost. She give a long moaning sigh and stirred the leaves of a pot plant.

‘Where do you think your child is?’ I questioned over the clicking of my knitting needles.

The ghost was quiet and thoughtful.

‘At your house?’ I pondered after a few minutes.

‘If she was, she is no longer,’ the ghost woman replied, ‘that is why I had to leave. I cannot rest without her.’

I nodded and fell to thinking. Soothed by the sounds of the TV and needles, it was easy for my mind to drift.

‘You know, pet,’ I said, ‘stillborn babies probably go straight to heaven.’

‘Do you think?’ the ghost gasped.

‘Yes. They are innocent and have no reason to stay here. Maybe, that’s what has happened?’

‘Has it?’ whispered the ghost.

‘And perhaps, it’s not the search for your child that keeps you here but the grieve of the loss?’ I concluded.

The ghost let out a low moan.

‘Have you tried to leave?’

‘No. I did not want to,’ the ghost replied.

‘Try and see what happens, pet,’ I responded, gently.

‘Am I scared.’

‘I know but there’s nothing to worry about and your child will be waiting. If not, I shall help you.’

‘You will? Oh! Thank you!’ the ghost cried and she smiled.

‘Now, try to go to Heaven, pet.’

The ghost nodded and after a few moments, she began to fade away.

‘I am going! I am going!’ she shouted, ‘I shall be united with my child.’

‘Yes, dear. Go, go! Find your child and be at peace.’

With a finally smile, the ghost woman vanished.

Her cold spot lingered another minute or two then warmth took over once more.

I lent back in my armchair, knitting abandoned on my lap, looking at where the ghost had stood. Then, I turned to the photographs and said, ‘if I was her, I would have done the same. Mothers and children should always be together.’