Hokora #Writephoto

I stopped before the shrine, my younger sister’s hand tightening in my own. I glanced down at her. Miki’s school uniform almost matched mine and her long black hair was tied back like my own. She had a bright pink backpack on her shoulders whilst I had a leather satchel on just one shoulder. Miki’s face was turned upwards, her usual blue eyes fixed on the shrine, her expression slightly puzzled.

‘It looks like an…owl,’ she said slowly.

‘I guess…it does,’ I replied.

We were use to seeing these Hokora -Shinto shrines- dotted along the roads, outside houses and important buildings. They were places for the Kami – spirits of nature – to visit and people to prayer and /or leave offerings. They were little one roomed ‘houses’ made of stones and or woods.

This one though, was different. It was made out of a tall single stone and had an archway at the top. Inside was a metal carving of a creature that looked like an owl but it it had long ears and a horn in between. Inside the owl was an unlit candle and around it were small coins.

‘Why, an owl, Keiko?’ my little sister asked.

I thought for a moment then replied, ‘owls are a symbol of fortune and protection. Which makes sense for travelers because they’d ask the Kami to protect them from evil spirits whilst on the road.’

‘Oh,’ Miki responded.

‘Let’s pray for a safe walk home and good luck,’ I suggested.

Miki give a single nod and a hum sound.

We put our hands together, shut our eyes and bowed before the shine before asking aloud, ‘Kami bring us protection and fortune on the journey.’

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/02/01/thursday-photo-prompt-shrine-writephoto/ with thanks).

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Playground #FridayFictioneers

Stood in the new playground taking everything in, I began to doubt this ‘futuristic’ design. Stealing glances at the other committee members it was clear they were uncomfortable too. The artist and architects on the other hand were looking totally pleased with themselves.

‘What do you think?’ the artist asked.

There was a slight pause then a feedback of mixed muttered words.

‘I guess the children will decided that,’ I spoke loudly and everyone agreed.

‘Let’s release them!’ someone called.

Hurrying behind the safety glass, we watched the gate rise up and all hell break loose.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2018/01/03/5-january-2018/ with thanks).

Christmas Day

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Santa arrived back home feeling tried, stuffed and proud of another successful Christmas. Leaving the reindeer in the hands of some tipsy elves, who were eager to get back to the party, he walked into the large, heavily decorated house. Cheering, clapping and shouting voices trailed after him even as he closed the door.

He would celebrate later, once he had rested. Sinking into his favourite chair before the roaring fire, he began to doze. Images swam before his eyes; presents, chimneys, decorated trees and stockings. Christmas music was playing and in the air was the lovely aroma of sweet baking.

Relieved it was all over for another year, Santa turned his thoughts around and thought about all the children now excitedly opening their presents.

Ice Tree #FridayFictoneers

It had only been a stupid school playground game; who could lick an icicle and get their tongue stuck? However, things hadn’t gone to plan and the four boys had ended sat in the staff room for the afternoon waiting for the icicles attached to their tongues melt.

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/12/06/8-december-2017/ with thanks).

A Little Blood (Part 3)

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The next morning, whilst I was sorting Grace out who seemed determined to bring the roof down with her crying, Harry popped up at my elbow. I glanced at him and realised he was dressed in the vampire costume. Though he hadn’t gotten it on right. The waist coat was the wrong way and not buttoned, the cape was lopsided over one shoulder.

‘Harry! Those weren’t the clothes I left out for you,’ I said angrily as I struggled to get Grace into a clean nappy.

‘I am a vampire,’ he replied, ‘and this is what they wear.’

I opened my mouth, words tumbling in my head but then I decided it wasn’t worth it. Grace was going to be too much of  handful today and I could do without Harry being the same way. Taking a few deep breaths, I decided what did it matter? I could wash the costume next week and beside going to the library and the park if the weather held, I had no other plans for the day.

Wrestling, Grace into some pink pants and a long sleeve matching top, I wrapped her in a blanket and scooped her up. She cried down my ear and no soft patting or soothing sounds seemed to work. She couldn’t be that hungry as my husband had feed her around 4 or 5 am.

I turned to the leave the room and spotted Harry playing with some wooden number blocks that had originally been his. I so needed to fix his costume but Grace had no plans to let me.

‘Let’s go get some breakfast,’ I said above the wailing baby.

In the kitchen, I put Grace in the supported high chair and made her some milk. Harry hovered about then took Grace’s hand and tried to quiet her down. Normally, he was really good with her and she did stop crying, but not today.

I hurried through making us all breakfast and making sure we’d all eaten. Grace finally silent for awhile but as I looked at her flush cheeks and felt her hot skin, I began to think she wasn’t well.

‘Harry, let me fix your costume,’ I said as he tried to pull his cape about him.

‘It’s stuck,’ he uttered.

I got up and took the cape and waist coat off. I tucked the shirt into the trousers then put the waist coat on better and the cape properly.

‘There you go. So much better. Now let’s tidy up. Can you help with that?’

Harry scrunched up his face but helped anyway. Grace watched us but soon reached out for me and I had to pick her up. Once the dishwasher was empty and filled with the breakfast things. I put a clothes wash on then had to go and change Grace again.

She fussed and cried a lot again, but at least it was quieter then this morning. I placed her back into the cot afterwards and asked Harry to read to her. He picked up a story book about monsters and read in a loud voice. I tided her room then got Harry to help me tidy his.

‘Do you want to go to the library now?’ I asked him.

‘Only if I can get a vampire book!’ he replied.

‘We’ll have to see what they have.’

We got ready then bundled into the car and I drove off. A drizzle which threatened to turn into rain added to the gloom of the overcast day and there was a sharp cold wind too. I remembered hearing something about a storm coming. Perhaps, we’d skip the park today, maybe we could do some painting or make something?

The library was busy as they had a story time session on. I let Harry join in though he did get some looks from the children and adults but then they acted like it was normal to see a boy dressed in a vampire costume.  After, we found some children’s books about vampires and also some baby books for Grace.

Down in the adult section, I breathed in that lovely smell of old paper and polished wood. The library wasn’t old but they had re-used books and bookcases from a much older one that had closed years ago. I found some books to read and we checked them all out.

The rain was heavier when we left and I drove straight home. The wind was turning into gale force and blowing everything around. The children were quiet, thankfully watching the weather or else Harry was flipping through his books and sometimes showing Grace a picture.

When we got back we had lunch. Harry was too hungry to complain about cup a soups and ham sandwiches. Grace only had half her milk though. I put her down for a nap, my thoughts of her being ill stronger then before. Hopefully it was only a cold.

Harry wanted to read one of his books. So we did that whilst his sister slept.

‘I’m like this vampire,’ Harry pointed out, ‘I like blood too.’

‘But can you turn into a bat?’ I asked teasingly.

Harry stopped up, shut his eyes and wrapped his cape about him. Then he unfurled it and flapped it. He made little squeaking sounds then ran about the room. The cape flapped and flew, almost as if it was flying.

‘Oh! A bat!’ I gasped and put my hands to my face.

Harry came and flapped in my face. I faked panic, though I had no fear of real bats. I grab Harry and tickled him. He burst into laughter and we tumbled on the floor together. Grace’s crying next door cut through out moment and I had to get up to see her to her.

Harry trailed after me. I picked Grace up and felt her head. She was so hot! I took her into the bathroom, cradling her tightly. I wet a cloth and pressed it to her hand. Grace cried on crying.

‘What’s wrong, Mummy?’ Harry’s voice called out.

‘Your sister isn’t well. She’s got a fever,’ I explained.

Harry came closer and took her hand, though Grace was wiggling around.

‘She’ll be okay.’

‘I could give her some of my blood. Vampire blood heals everything,’ Harry spoke up.

I paused, wondering how he knew that then I shook my head, ‘no, no. She just needs some water and some rest. Why don’t you get a book and read to her? She always likes that.’

As Harry hurried off, I damped the cloth again and eased it around Grace’s face and neck. She had stopped crying as much. I heard Harry getting a book and coming back. I told myself, if Grace got worse I’d take her to the doctors, but for now, if the I could get the fever down she’s be okay.

Harry came back into the bathroom and sat down before me. He opened the book and began reading. I couldn’t help but smile, he looked so good in that costume and it was fitting he’d picked a vampire story. He struggled over some of the words, but he seemed to be doing okay.

Grace was listening too, though she was still being fussy. I wet the cloth again and that was how we spent some of the afternoon. We all had a nap afterwards and when my husband came home. I took Grace to the doctors. Her fever had come down but she was still ill.

Thankfully, it was only a bad cold and we were home quick enough. After talking to my husband, I sorted Grace out and put her to bed. We had pizzas for tea then my husband had to persuade Harry out of the vampire outfit and into PJs.

‘I thought you said you’d put it away?’ my husband asked when he came back down.

I was dozing off in front of the TV and I had come back too, ‘huh?’

‘The Halloween costume. I thought…’

I waved my husband away, ‘Grace was ill, I didn’t want to add a five year old to that battle too, so I just let him wear it. I’ll go put it in our wardrobe before we go to bed. He won’t be able to get it in there.’

There was a slight frown on my husband’s face then he came to me and we snuggled on the sofa. I fell asleep in his arms, my dreams full of children vampires turning into bats and drinking strawberry milkshake.

A Little Blood (Part 2)

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As soon as we got home Harry wanted to put his vampire costume on. I frowned about it but decided he had to as if it didn’t fit I didn’t want him to be disappointed.

‘Let’s put the shopping away and then we can,’ I told him.

After that though, Grace needed changing and feeding. Harry bounced around, unable to settle before the cartoons I’d put on for him.

‘Now? Now!’ Harry said loudly.

‘In a minute. Let me put Grace down.’

She was dozing off, lulled by the warm milk. Settling her on the sofa next to me, I turned to Harry and nodded.

He grab the costume and I helped him into it. Luckily, it fitted him really well. He spun around then gathered the cape together. He started making swishing sounds to match the noise of cape.

I shook my head, trying not to laugh, ‘okay. It fits. Time to take it off now,’ I said.

‘No!’ Harry shouted.

‘Shh! Grace is sleeping,’ I whispered.

‘I’m a vampire now,’ Harry responded, quieter, ‘hiss hiss hiss.’

He flapped out the cape and walked around the room with his head held high. He looked like a snobby aristocrat. It reminded me Dracula actually. Where Harry had learn to act like that?

‘All right my little vampire, what would you like to do now?’ I asked.

Harry turned to me, cape raised and his mouth opening wide, ‘I want blood!’

‘Blood?’

‘That’s what vampires like! And I’m a vampire now, so that’s what I want!’

‘Okay,’ I said slowly and fell to thinking.

Harry crept over and appeared at me knee. He pressed his face to my leg and made a muffled nom nom sound. I didn’t feel anything, the jeans I had on were thick. I patted his head and recalled something for a new cartoon we had been watching recently.

‘I don’t think you’re the blood drinking kind of vampire, Harry,’ I said.

He looked up, his mouth wet and red. He wiped at it before I could.

‘I think your the colour red drinking kind of vampire. Let’s go see what red foods we can find for you to eat.’

Harry thought, ‘I guess we could try that. But Mummy, I am a blood drinking vampire. I’m sure of it!’

‘Well, let’s see.’

I scooped up Grace and carried her with me into the kitchen. Harry ran ahead and he was opening cupboards and looking inside as I arrived. Grace stirred on my shoulder, getting comfy before continuing sleeping.

There was no where to put her down, so I had to one hand everything. Spotting, a blush red apple in the fruit bowl I picked it up and offered it out to Harry.

‘How about this?’ I said.

He glanced over his shoulder then shook his head, ‘vampires don’t eat fruit.’

‘I bet some do. Let’s try and it and see.’

Harry came over, took the apple and bit into it. He chewed then pulled a face and give it back to me. Swallowing he said, ‘no.’

I sighed and took a bite myself. This wasn’t how I’d planned the rest of the afternoon to go. There was a load of chores to be done for starters. Surly, Harry would get bored of this soon and want to watch a movie or play with his Lego.

Coming over to join him, I watched him pull out a tin of tomato soup and look at it. Shaking his head, he put it back and selected a tin of spaghetti hoops.

‘Nothing take your fancy?’ I asked.

‘No. Only real blood will do!’ Harry moaned.

‘Let’s check the fridge!’ I cried, suddenly remembering something.

Moving Grace further up my shoulder, I opened the fridge and took out a bottle of strawberry milkshake. I give it to Harry, a large smile of my face, ‘chilled blood, just for you, vampire.’

‘Yes!’ Harry said, clapping his hands.

He took the milkshake and opened it. Drinking some, he seemed happy.

‘Let’s go watch cartoons now. I’ve got ironing and tidying to do.’

Even though Harry spent the rest of the afternoon dressed up a vampire, I found it easy to distract him with TV, toys, games and books. When his dad came home, Harry showed off his costume proudly but then it took us a little while to get him to eat his dinner.

‘Vampires don’t like fish fingers!’ Harry said, crossing his arms and swinging his legs.

‘Well, put ketchup on them,’ I suggested, handing my husband the bottle.

He pulled a face but he did eat after that.

I put Grace to bed early then after we’d watched some more cartoons, it was Harry’s turn. I let my husband put him to bed and I didn’t feel guilty as I listened to him trying to get Harry to take the vampire costume off.

‘But I want to wear the cape!’ Harry was saying, ‘Vampires sleep upside in it!’

‘It’s time not to be vampire now. It’s time to be a good little boy,’ my husband answered.

Harry made hissing noises and the conversation carried on. Finally though, he was in bed and my husband came back to join me on the sofa.

‘Why did you buy him that?’ my husband asked.

‘It’s Halloween next week and he wanted a vampire costume. I let him try it on to make sure he could fit in it but then he wouldn’t take it off. I’ve had to other things today and I decided it wasn’t worth arguing over it,’ I spilled to my husband.

‘He seems really attached to it!’

‘I know. I’ll put it away and get it next week only now,’ I spoke.

I wish it had been as easy as that!

 

To Be Continued…

A Little Blood (Part 1)

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It was a week to go and the shops were packed with Halloween stuff. I breathed in deeply trying to keep my excitement down. This was my Heaven! I pushed the trolley over to the shelves, a small smile creeping on my face. I reached out for the first thing; a gold pot pumpkin then a little gasp stopped my hand.

I looked down at my five month old daughter, Grace, who was still in her car seat in the special holder on top of the trolley. She was asleep, bundled in a pink blanket with a unicorn at one corner. The lullaby of the drive here had caused her to doze off. I glanced to my right side and saw my five year old son, Harry, dashing away.

He went over to the children’s costumes a bit further down and came to a stop. He slowly reached upwards with both hands then turned to me. My love for Halloween and Gothic things was rubbing off on him.

‘Mummy! I want to be a vampire!’ he shouted.

‘A vampire?’ I muttered as I re-collected myself.

‘Yep! That one!’ he added.

I looked to where he was pointing at and saw a full vampire costume hung up opposite him. There was a pair of black trousers, a white shirt, a white ruffle tie, a dark red waist coat with brass buttons, a pointy cross medallion on bright red ribbon and a huge black cape lined the same dusky red as the waist coat.

Harry reached up for it but couldn’t get it down. I moved the trolley around him and pulled the costume down. I  checked the price tag; twenty pounds then looked at the clothes in detail as Harry jumped up and down.

‘Please, Mummy! I really want it!’ he gush.

‘This one won’t fit you. It’s too small,’ I pointed at the age on the hanger.

Though it said four to five year olds, Harry was tall for his age and filling out fast. He was easily a size or two up.

He pulled a face and made his hands into fists. He looked like he was about to throw a tantrum but he was just angry. He turned away, his longish, black hair swinging and looked at all the other costumes. His eyes moved from the zombie, skeleton and pirate to the girls selection; witches, female vampires and bat.

I slipped the vampire costume back and looked through the other sizes. I selected the seven to eight age and pulled it off, I showed it him, pressing it against me as if I was trying it on.

‘This one?’ I asked to get his attention.

He turned his head then his body and let out a happy cry, ‘yes! Mummy!’

‘Okay,’ I added with a smile and put it in the trolley, ‘now what can your sister be?’

Harry hurried to the baby and toddler section and began looking through the clothes. I joined him, avoiding a younger man and his trolley who was speeding past. There were less costumes to pick from and more actual baby clothes decorated with Halloween themes.

‘These are so cute,’ I spoke out.

I reached for a little grey t-shirt that had a imagine of a bat on it with and block letters that read Let’s hang out! I picked the right size for her and put it in the trolley. Next there was a white baby gro with a cream coloured ghost and the word Boo on the front. I put that one in too.

‘A pumpkin!’ Harry cried and pulled a bright orange body suit with a green leaf shape topped hat off the rack.

I pushed the trolley forward and out, giving us some more space. Harry raised the suit to me and I took it off him. There was a Jack O’ Lantern face on the front which looked more friendly then scary. I checked the size; six to eight months.

‘Yeah, this looks good. Nice choice!’ I praised him and put the outfit in the trolley.

We looked at the rest of the Halloween things and got Harry some glow in the dark fangs and a makeup kit to turn him into a full vampire. Some packets of sweets and a few decorative pieces then we carried on shopping.

 

To Be Continued…

Sight #writephoto

I peered through the viewing hole in the rock and the damp moors transformed before me. The pale grass became bright and lush, the washed out sky turned blazing blue and the other rocks in the distance shimmered. I held my breath and waited.

‘There’s one!’ I cried out.

A fairy with blonde hair, wearing a green filly dress and carrying a small wicker basket fluttered by, her wings a purple irradiant colour. Her toes skimmed the short grass then she flew away.

I gasped and took my face away from the rock. I rushed around it and looked for a flash of green or purple. There was nothing but a late summer butterfly, lazily hovering above the grass.

I scampered back to the rock and looked through the hole again. Behind me, I heard my grandfather chuckling.

‘You can only see the Fae folk through that portal, Harmony,’ he spoke, ‘they use it to get in between worlds, like I told you in the stories.’

‘And I believed you, grandpa!’ I spoke, my voice slightly muffled by the rock.

‘What can you see now?’ he asked, his voice full of laughter.

I looked harder, the vibrate colours of the moor and sky stinging my eyes. I saw two small figures walking through the grass. They were male, wearing brown clothes and brown caps. They were carrying cleaning tools and looked like they were on their way to work.

‘Brownies?’ I muttered, trying to recall what they looked like in Grandpa’s big book.

‘What was that?’ he asked quietly.

‘I think those two are brownies,’ I said, coming away from the rock, ‘you look grandpa.’

‘Alas, child, I can’t. These eyes aren’t what they use to be. I lost the sight gift a few years back,’ Grandpa spoke sadly.

I nodded thoughtfully, remembering one of the stories he had told me about seeing the king and queen of the fairies. That was the last time he had seen the Fae folk. I glanced back at the rock then asked, ‘do I have the sight gift, grandpa?’

‘Probably, Harmony. It has been passed on to all the Turner children but only some of them have embraced it. Your mother was only interested up until her late twenties. Then she got married and had you. She said she didn’t have the time anymore,’ grandpa explained.

‘She never talks about them,’ I pointed out.

Grandpa nodded, ‘she’s lost her belief. That’s the key to seeing the Fae peoples and everything else too. Having a hard belief in something will always make it real even if some times you can’t actually see it.’

‘Then I’m going to hold on to my belief forever, Grandpa!’

I smiled brightly and he smiled back then I turned back to the hole in the rock. Looking through again, I could see that other world taking shape around me and the Fae people going about their lives.

 

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/08/31/thursday-photo-prompt-sight-writephoto with thanks).

One Moment

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dino

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The children of class B-2 were stood in front of the T-Rex skeleton in awe when it suddenly came to life, snatched up Billy Bale and ate him. The screams that rose were earth shattering and everybody started fleeing. The teacher standing aghast, caught Billy as he slid out from the bones.

(Inspired by; http://sachablack.co.uk/2017/08/02/writespiration-126-52-weeks-in-52-words-week-31/ with thanks.)