Blown In On The Wind

ghost-1280683_1920

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.’

Christmas Eve

santa-claus-1906513_1920

All the children but one were in bed. I looked at my oldest from across the living room, he was sat on a beanbag next to the Christmas tree, playing on a game console, headphones in and switched off from the rest of the world.

My wife give me a nudge with her elbow and and nodded towards him, her eyes telling me I had to convince our son to go to bed now. It was an hour or so before his normal time and I was finding being the father of a fourteen year old difficult.

‘It’s too early,’ I whispered back to my wife.

‘I know, but we have presents to wrap,’ she replied back.

‘So? Josh can help.’

She shook her head, ‘I want him to have one last magical Christmas.’

‘You said that last year…He’s a teenager now,’ I hissed back.

My wife pulled a face and turned her attention back to the TV. We had been watching some old Christmas movie but it wasn’t that interesting and followed the same old plot that other seasonal films did.

There would be no arguing with her. It really wasn’t the time. Christmas was stressful and more so when you had a big family and an even bigger extended one. We had six children; four girls and two boys, ageing between five and fourteen.

I had four older siblings who had many children of their own and my wife had three remaining siblings with families of their own, plus the children from her two brothers who had passed away. Then there were all the cousins, distant relatives and friends who were like family. Also, the people who only seemed to appear at Christmas then fade into memory for the rest of the year.

I got up, trying not to be grumpy. I was just as tired as she was and not in the mood for dealing with argumentative teenage boys. Perhaps, there was another way though?

Tapping, Josh lightly and motioning the removing of his headphones and I got his attention.

‘Why don’t you go and play that in bed now?’ I said.

‘It’s still early,’ he replied, a moaning tone in his voice.

‘I know, but we have present wrapping to do and you wouldn’t want to spoil any surprises.’

Josh fixed that look, the one that said he didn’t believe me and was getting on the edge to start arguing, ‘No, I won’t. I know what you’ve got me all ready. What I asked for; new headphones, Zombies Revenge Battle Two and The Haunted Earth games, Zomboz and Bomboz books, a download of the newest Death Rattle album, one of their band hoody and matching t-shirt.’

I took a deep breath, ‘and how do you really know we got you all of that?’

Josh shrugged and turned back to his game, ‘mum told me.’

Avoiding looking back at my wife, I spoke, ‘but we might have brought you something else too. Please, Josh, be good and think about your brothers and sisters. We know you don’t believe anymore but it’s important to keep things nice for them.’

I had noticed he had been keeping his distance all day. The other kids had been over-excited and unable to focus on much. Josh hadn’t spoke much and spent a lot of time playing his games. Even later, when we had gone out to lay the glitter and oats trail for the reindeer then put out the mince pie, whiskey and carrots, Josh hadn’t been with us.

Had my son really grown out of Christmas?

‘Come on, Josh. Bedtime or else you’ll have to help wrap presents,’ I pressed harder.

Josh sighed and gathered his things. He went upstairs and I followed after him.

‘I’m staying up to finish this level,’ Josh said, threateningly as he flopped down on his bed.

‘That’s fine. Thank you,’ I answered and went to shut the door.

‘Dad?’

‘Yes, son?’

‘Was Santa real?’ Josh asked.

I frowned and paused in the doorway. Where had that question come from?

‘Like, did he ever existed?’

I came back into the room, pushing the door closed behind me. Josh was sat up now, his game forgotten for the moment. I joined him on the bed and thought how to reply.

‘And don’t give me a fairy story, I know none of that is real,’ Josh added.

‘I guess there might have been an old man once who inspired the stories,’ I said carefully.

‘Like Robin Hood and King Arthur? There’s not much fact they existed, is there?’

‘Yeah, that’s right. It’s that kind of myth, legend thing. There must have been someone who inspired those stories,’ I replied, latching onto his way of thinking.

‘I guess that makes sense,’ Josh answered, ‘I wonder who he was? I bet the internet would know!’

‘The internet knows everything,’ I muttered, ‘but you know that some stories can’t be captured.’

‘What?’

‘Get into bed and let me tell you about an old man in Iceland who was the first Santa.’

‘Dad,’ Josh groaned, ‘I’m not a kid and I don’t need a bedtime story! And I have this level to finish.’

‘I know all that but just this once okay? I thought you wanted to hear about it.’

Pulling a face and muttering, Josh did as I asked and settled into bed.

‘Once there was an old man who lived alone but he loved children. He had longed wished for his own but, and though he’d had a few wives, he never had any of his own. He was black smith and also a carpenter because where he lived in a small town in Iceland it was far from anywhere else.’

‘He could have moved,’ Josh cut in.

‘Not the point,’ I replied and got on with the story, ‘the man made little money mending things, so he made things to sell but soon no one wanted anymore chairs or tables or shelves. The man decided he would have to make something else instead or he would have no money to get food or firewood.’

‘Sounds like he needs a new job,’ Josh muttered.

‘One day, watching the children play in the snow, an idea came to him; he would make them some toys. He spent a long time planning and trying to make things. At first he wasn’t sure what the children would like and because there was so few toys around, there was little for him to go off. The man asked the children and they told him they would like dolls and blocks, hoops and spinning tops, rocking horses and pull along dogs.’

‘Baby toys?’ Josh scoffed, ‘why?’

‘No, these where old fashioned toys. They didn’t have computers and TVs back then! Or even plastic. The toys were all made of wood and spare things that were left over from making other things. Children didn’t have a lot of time to play in the old days. They had to help their parents run farms and they had to go out to work as money was always short,’ I explained.

‘Like the Victorian children? We learned about them in history class.’

‘Yes,’ I replied.

‘So, he made these toys and then what? He went and give them out?’

‘Erm, no, because he wouldn’t have made any money then. The man tried to sell the toys but people weren’t interesting. They didn’t have spare money to buy toys, they had to buy meat, bread and firewood instead. The man was disheartened but then another idea came to him and he asked some of the children to come and work for him. He give them easy tasks and paid them with toys.’

Josh laughed and asked, ‘for real?’

‘Sure, why not?’ I questioned, ‘the idea did work and other children came looking for work because they too wanted toys and the man found them jobs, sometimes helping him to make the toys themselves. When he ran out of jobs, the man got the children to help other people and because the children were getting toys instead of money, there was more money to go around.’

‘But, he wasn’t making any money himself was he? So, the man was just as poor as before.’

I give a nod and carried on, spinning the story I was making up on the spot as if it was a well known tale, ‘but because there was more money to go around now, people could offered to buy toys for their children. They could have special presents on their birthdays and Christmas. Then, one of the adults came to the old man and asked him to start making gifts that the adults could give each other because they had seen how happy the children were and the grown ups wanted to celebrate too.’

Josh nodded sleepily but didn’t interrupted. He was curled in bed, looking like a child once again as he started to doze off.

I continued, ‘The man was happy to do this because it meant more work and more money. So, he made gifts the adults could give each other and soon that become a tradition too. On the winter solace that year, the town celebrated the shortest day and the man give away many toys to lots of people, thus another tradition was born.’

Getting up, I tucked Josh in, he was almost asleep so it was time to finish the story, ‘ word began spreading about an old man in Iceland who give children toys in winter and people liked that idea and decided to make it so. Stories were told and added to and changed over the years. Santa was created from all them, but who knows what is true or not now? Like all great myths and legends, we’ll never know for sure but doesn’t that make them more interesting?’

 

 

 

 

 

Yuletide Gnomes

gnome-3000478_1920

This year elf on the shelf was out and gnomes were in. I liked them better, they had funny, fluffy beards, no faces just a nose sticking out from under a far too big hat and fat woollen bodies. They looked far cuter to have a round the house.

Until, things started happening. Little things went missing and then reappeared in other places. I heard child like giggling and it wasn’t my own children. I came down one morning and found the dishes all washed and put away!

‘What is going on around here?’ I muttered as I went around the playroom and put away all the farm animals for the third time that week.

‘It’s the gnomes, mum!’ my children cried.

‘The who?’

‘The yuletide gnomes. They keep doing all of this,’ my youngest daughter, Izzy said.

‘They like to play and keep the house clean,’ my oldest son, Ben replied, ‘I looked them up. They protect the house and like to eat porridge with butter on Christmas Eve.’

I laughed, ‘such imaginations you all have!’

‘No,’ my other daughter, Freya shouted, ‘they are real!’

I paused, ‘okay, they are real then….Do they report back to Santa like the elf did last year?’

‘Nope,’ my son replied, ‘they are like Santa and give out presents alongside a Yule goat.’

‘Is that why they keep getting the farm animals out? They need a goat?’ I questioned.

‘Maybe,’ Izzy said.

‘We need to buy a goat!’ Freya cried.

‘Let’s see what we can do then,’ I said.

That night after putting the children to bed and sitting down to watch TV with my husband, I kept looking over at the two Yuletide gnomes. Were they really the cause of things? Well, they weren’t doing any harm and if they wanted a goat and porridge on Christmas Eve then I was happy to join in the fun.

 

(Find out more here; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nisse_(folklore) )

Ice Skating

ice-skates-1082514_1920

All autumn my little sister had been begging me to take her ice skating. Winter arrived early and stayed late this far north but still we had to wait for the lake to freeze over deeply enough to be safe.

‘Can we go out to check today, Alex?’ she asked me as we ate porridge before the roaring kitchen fire.

‘It won’t have frozen enough yet, Beka,’ I replied, ‘it only snowed a little last night.’

‘Still I want to see!’ Beka cried.

I rolled my eyes and finished my porridge.

‘Take her out Alex,’ mother said from the huge table, ‘today, we are getting the  sweet puddings ready for the Winter Feast day. You two will only get under our feet.’

Both grandmothers, cook and maid agreed.

‘I want to help father hunting,’ I spoke.

‘He left all ready. Now, be a good son and look after your little sister.’

Grumpily, I got ready and the maid helped Beka with her fluffy elk boats, long red coat, gloves, scarf and matching red hat. We meet by the kitchen door, all ready to go out in the freezing morning.

‘You won’t need your ice skates, Beka,’ I said.

Beka pulled a face and shifted the white leather ice skates on her left shoulder, ‘it’s just in case.’

I shook my head, decided not to argue with her and opened the door. An icy wind blasted in and the fire began to gutter. Quickly, we went out and saw a thick frost and light dusting of snow on the ground. The sky above was a steel blue colour and the sun was a weak yellow in the sky.

We walked to the end of the garden, through the gate and around the edge of the woods. Gun shots echoed and a few birds flew up from the trees.

‘It’s father,’ Beka spoke.

I nodded and we walked on to the lake. Ice cold, clear water lapped at a frozen mud shore. A few ducks were swimming in the distant and the little wooden rowing boat was rocking against it’s wooden walk way.

‘See,’ I pointed out.

Beka sighed and looked downcast, ‘it’s no where near frozen!’

‘In a few more weeks it might be. Let’s go out in the boat instead. It might be the last time we can.’

She nodded, we climbed into the boat and I rowed us around the lake.

Replaced Papers #FridayFictioneers

He was running late for his meeting, so he didn’t check his briefcase before leaving the house. All his paperwork was in there though as he had put it in yesterday afternoon, so why wouldn’t it still be?

He got to the meeting, flustered and feeling unprepared. He had to present the company’s finance report to the board, so today was not the time to be panicking.

Everyone was all ready seated, he apologised for being late and got on with things.

He pulled out the paperwork and looked for his notes but what he saw instead was brightly coloured children’s drawings.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/10/30/1-november-2019/ with thanks).

Left Overs

candy-2363_1920

It had been a good Halloween sweet haul this year. Lucy had let the twins have a few handfuls of treats from their plastic pumpkin buckets when they had returned. Once they had gone to bed, she had put the rest into the sweet tin to keep fresh.

A couple of times over the next few days, she let the twins dip into the mini chocolate bars, small bags of gummies and other treats they had been given. Lucy herself hadn’t been able to resisted and would pinch a few things in the evening and hope the twins wouldn’t notice the missing sweets.

Googly Eyes

character-72718_1280

Sitting at the dinning room table, I watched my ten year old, identical triplet girls crafting a Halloween banner. It might only have been the first weekend of October but all ready my mind was on Halloween and I was encouraging my children to join in the fun.

The only problem was my three year old son, there was only so much crafting he was capable of. For awhile he had been happy to paint pictures, stick stickers and glitter on everything but now he was bored.

‘Mum! Coby is being annoying!’ Lottie cried.

‘He’s stealing all my pens!’ Hattie moaned.

‘Go away! It’s girls only!’ Kattie shouted and give Coby a hard shove.

He hit the floor hard and started crying.

‘Girls! Please!’ I snapped, ‘be nice to you baby brother.’

Picking the toddler up, I placed him on my hip, though he was getting far too heavy to carry around.

The girls all stuck out their tongues then got back to their banner making.

I signed, too tried to argue with them and sit at the head on the table with Coby on my lap. He snuggled against me, sniffing softly.

There was a bowl of squashes in the middle of the table which I had brought to do some autumn decorating with but hadn’t decided yet what to do with exactly. There where different varieties and colours; some looked like mini pumpkins, others mini watermelons, some were white and others were more tall then round.

A strange idea came to me, something I’d probably seen off a kid’s cartoon.

‘I’ve an idea Coby. Would you like to help, Mummy?’

He nodded into my chest.

I gathered what we needed then choosing one of the squash, I stuck googly eyes on it.

‘Look Coby!’

He laughed and I moved the squash about and made a ‘do do’ sound like the squash was walking along.

‘Do-do-a-do. Ah it’s such a nice day! But where are my friends?’ I spoke in lower pitched, funny voice.

Coby laughed and clapped his hands.

‘Do you know where my friends are?’ I made the squash say.

‘There!’ Coby said and pointed at the bowl.

‘So they are! Can you help me bring them to life?’

With a nod, Coby grabbed one of the squashes and we spent some time decorating a few of them. After, we played with them, giving them voices and making stories up.

When the girls finished the banner, we tided up and watched TV for a bit.

When their dad arrived home from his ruby matched, the girls rushed to show off their banner.

‘Impressive!’ he answered then listened as the girls told him all about which bits they had done.

‘Come see what Coby and I made,’ I finally got in.

The girls rushed back to the TV, happy they could watch something less toddler aimed.

Coby, I and my husband went into the dinning room and Coby delighted in showing off his brought to life squashes.

 

Moon Fall #3LineTales

four boys playing football in a lush green meadow

The moon fell from space and broke up as it entered earth, sending fire across the sky.

The children walking in the forest, found a chunk of it, not knowing what it was and seeing only a strange coloured ball, they played with it, throwing and kicking until the moon piece began to break up.

Each with a moon rock, the children decided to take their unusual find home, whilst unaware of the turmoil and terror that had befallen their world.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2019/09/26/three-line-tales-week-191/ with thanks).

 

The Butterfly Princess – A Children’s Story

flower-crown-3335567_1920

Once upon a time, a young Princess lived in a vast kingdom and her home was the mighty castle that stood at the heart of the country.

She lived with her parents; the King and Queen, nine siblings, many uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, other relatives and an army servants. The family were extreme close and enjoy being together.

One early autumn day, the young Princess and some of the other children were playing outside in the castle’s huge maze of gardens. The girls were catching butterflies and dragonflies whilst the boys hunted for beetles, worms and bugs.

The young Princess caught a very pretty butterfly that had many different reds, oranges and yellows on the wings.

‘I wish I could be like you, butterfly and know what it’s like the fly,’ the Princess whispered.

When the Princess went to bed that evening, her back hurt and she couldn’t settle to sleep. Her skin felt itchy and burning. She called for her Nanny – who was one of many in the castle- by ringing the bell by her bed.

Nanny came at once and looked at the Princess’ back.

‘Nettle rash? Or ivy? Perhaps something else?’ Nanny pondered, ‘well, whatever it is, here is some of Nanny’s magic lotion. It will cool and soothe and make that rash gone!’

The Princess nodded and let Nanny cover her upper back in a sweet smelling lotion.

That night the Princess hardly slept. She tossed and turned, not able to get comfy because her back hurt too much. She felt like her skin was on fire and began crying. The Princess rang the bell for Nanny and a maid then sat wailing till they arrived.

Nanny came and looked again at the Princess back. The skin was bright red and looked like it was bubbling.

‘Not a rash then. Sunburn?’ Nanny wondered, ‘don’t worry, Princess! Nanny has something for everything.’

Turning to the maid, Nanny asked for, ‘cold water, clean cloths and some warm milk.’

They washed the Princess back, put on a different lotion then wrapped her up. The princess sipped the warm milk then lay on her stomach and finally fell to sleep.

In the morning, the young Princess was running a fever and her back was worse. The King and Queen came to see her then sent for a doctor- the best in the kingdom. When he arrived, he was puzzled and declared that the Princess must have sat too close to a fire and had burnt her back.

Nanny disagreed with him but what else could it be?

The doctor give some medicines, instructions and left to see the King’s father who had come down with a bad cold.

By that night the Princess felt little better but her back was still bad and she couldn’t lay down on it. As she tried to get some rest, she felt something moving over her shoulder blades.

Ringing for Nanny, the Princess crawled out of bed and made it across her bedroom to a big mirror. She looked at her back but it was wrapped up and she couldn’t see it.

When Nanny arrived, the Princess told her but Nanny thought she was still feverish.

However, when the Princess awoke in the morning, her back felt like someone was cutting into it and she took the bandages off to see.

There on her back, growing out of her shoulder blades were a tiny pair of black wings!

The Princess gasped and called for Nanny and maid.

‘Look at my back!’ the Princess cried to them, ‘I have wings!’

‘Go and get the King and Queen at once!’ Nanny snapped at the maid, who hurried off to do so.

‘They are real!’ the Princess cried and she tried to move them.

‘How did this happened?’ Nanny muttered.

The King and Queen came and when they saw the wings they wondered if their daughter had been cursed by an evil witch. They decided they would have to seek magical help and the Princess would have to stay in her bedroom and no one would be allowed near her.

The Princess wasn’t happy but no one would listen to her.

Over the next few days and nights the wings carried on growing until they were almost as tall as the Princess was. They were very pretty and brightly coloured in reds, oranges and yellows.

Lonely and bored, the Princess learned how to control the wings and when Nanny and maid were not around, the Princess would try to fly!

This took a lot of time but she began to get the hang of the wings.

Then one beautiful, full moon lit night, the princess decided she wanted to go and fly outside. She crept through the castle using many secret passages and servant corridors. Finally, she made it out into the kitchen gardens and without looked back, she hurried to one of the other gardens furthest from the castle.

There she felt the breeze tug on her wings and she knew what to do.

The Princess stepped up onto a stone bench, she fluttered her wings, closed her eyes,  concentrated and jumped into the air.

She opened her eyes and looked down, her feet were off the ground!

She flapped the wings and rose higher and higher! Soon she was flying over the gardens then over the castle, over the city and towards the moon.

The Princess felt thrilled, she had gotten her wish to fly!

She yawed and decided it was time to return to bed. The Princess flew back to the castle, landed in a garden and sneaked back to her bedroom. No one could ever know what she had just done!

For the first night in a month the Princess slept well.

When she woke in the morning, her back felt different, lighter. The Princess looked down and saw on either side her butterfly wings! They had fallen off in the night. She was a normal girl again.

The End.

Mock Scarecrows #CCC

The farmers’ children had been tasked with making and putting up some new scarecrows. Looks like they didn’t get very far…

 

(Inspired by; https://crispinakemp.com/2019/09/04/crimsons-creative-challenge-43/ with thanks).