Modern Love

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I liked the new girl. She was quiet, polite and hardworking, plus she knew how to be a receptionist unlike the last woman! She had been here three months now and we were a good team. Settling into lunch that day which sadly was a working lunch like the many we had to have due to staff shortages, she suddenly switched the conversation.

‘Emma? Can I asked you a personal question?’

‘Sure, Alia,’ I replied. There was nothing I liked better then talking about my life.

‘How did you met your boyfriend?’

I looked at her. She was dressed in her normal long black coat, floor touching black skirt, loose and long black top and a black hijab which covered her head and neck, only showing her dark face. I had often wondered if she was in mourning since she was always dressed in black, but I hadn’t been able to bring myself to ask.

In contrasted, I always dressed in bright colours, favouring; blues, greens, purples and whites. I wore knee or ankle length skirts with leggings or tights, some days I put on trousers. My blouses and tops were sensible enough but some of them did draw focus to my large chest. I’d wear a matching jacket or cardigan as needed. With it being late summer, my skin was lightly tanned. I wore my long med brown hair up or down, depending on how I felt.

I had never seen even a wisp of Alia’s hair so I didn’t know what colour it was. she didn’t wear any makeup either whilst I went through the whole colour plate in time with the seasons and the weather. We both wore glasses- me thin metallic purple frames and her’s thick, round and black old fashioned frames.

I also carted a large and very full handbag around with me, whilst Alia seemed to keep everything in the deep pockets of her coat. Alia had a ring of keys attached to her which constantly made sounds as she moved and reminded me of the housekeeper in The Secret Garden movie.

‘My boyfriend?’ I questioned.

Alia nodded and waited for me to launch into the story. She was use to my length talks now.

‘On a dating website,’ I answered, ‘that’s where I’ve meet all my boyfriends, expect the ones I dated in education. I guess I find it easier, you know? I have a habit of creating bad first impressions with men. Plus, there’s so many different kinds of men you can meet and I’ve found it far better then bars and nightclubs.’

‘Oh,’ Alia responded.

‘Of course, if I could meet a boyfriend naturally I would do. I like the build up of friendship then the slow falling in love and the realisation of it,’ I explained then give a small shrug.

‘So, you’d like it as a fairy tale? Love at first sight?’ she asked.

‘That would make it easier, wouldn’t it? But life doesn’t happen like that.’

I laughed and give a little shake of my head.

The phone rang and our conversation was interrupted by someone making an enquire. After I had dealt with them I turned back to Alia.

‘Why did you want to know anyway?’ I asked her.

She looked a little guilty and there was a slight flush to her cheeks, slowly and almost in a whisper she said, ‘because I would like one.’

Alia pulled her hijab to cover more of her face as if she had told me a dirty secret and now needed to hide away.

I thought over her words for a moment. Sipping my water slowly.

‘And why can’t you?’ I asked.

She didn’t reply and had suddenly found something to do on the computer before her which totally had all of her focus. She ignored me as if I hadn’t spoken.

Casting my mind about, I wondered if Alia came from a family were arrange marriages were traditional. Perhaps, her parents were very strict about her seeing men? I wouldn’t know the truth if I didn’t ask, but I was nervous too and knew it would effect how I saw Alia.

Instead, I asked, ‘you know, online dating is normal now. It’s how most people met. Would you like me to show you how to sign up? I’ll put you on the free site I used. I meet my current and last three boyfriends off there.’

‘But how did you know they were….okay?’ Alia asked.

She looked at me shyly over her shoulder.

‘Well, because I set myself some rules and stuck by them. Plus, once you’ve talked to them online for a bit you get a feel for them. Then you can meet up with just the ones you want too. You have to meet in a really crowd place that you know well. Like in town,’ I added.

Alia waited for me to go on. Her interest peaking and her expression becoming more relaxed.

So, I did, ‘and never go to their houses or a location they suggest that you are not happy with. Art galleries and museums make for good first dates. Or meals out. Whatever you feel comfy with.’

She nodded.

‘So, would you like my helping signing up?’ I asked.

Alia paused then in small voice said, ‘yes, please.’

I smiled broadly and wheeled my desk chair over to her corner. With my help Alia would be fine and I’d make sure she found a suitable boyfriend.

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Tried

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I was too tried to do anything. It had been a long week and the only thing I wanted to do was curl up in bed and go to sleep. However, I couldn’t. There were too many things still left to do. I  had to pack for my holiday in Greece, I had to find my passport, print all the tickets and information etc. I stared at the computer screen willing myself to stay awake, but it didn’t happen and I fell sleep.

The King’s Skull

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By the time the goblet was handed down to Wisdom, the legend that the sliver helmeted skull was that of an forgotten ancient King killed in an unknown battle, had long been lost.

Wisdom placed the goblet on to his bookcase, not knowing what else to do with it. Staring at the empty eye sockets, he decided the skull was too real looking and he turned the goblet around.

Feeling a little better, he sit down at his desk and loaded a fantasy war game up on to his PC. For some reason though, his eyes kept drifting to the goblet and he couldn’t concentrate on his game.

There was something creepy about the goblet he decided and he didn’t want it in his bedroom. Getting up, he picked the goblet off the shelf and took it downstairs. He went into the dinning room and placed it in the glass corner case. The helmet wearing skull goblet looked out of place beside a small crystal rabbit and a hand painted porcelain box.

Wisdom went back upstairs and sat down at his desk again. He felt a lot better now. He got back to his game and forgot all about the goblet.

 

(Inspired by; https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/sunday-photo-fiction-january-15th-2017/)

Ticking Down

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Her eyes were constantly watching the numbers on the clock change. Time was passing so slowly and she felt so bored. Today was the perfect day to sit and write. She was home alone until her parents arrived back and she wasn’t at her actual job till tomorrow afternoon. She had also done all her Christmas shopping and more beside.

Listening to the pounding tones of some classic rock music, she tried to focus on the blank page before her. Well, it wasn’t really blank because it was her blog and there were tool bars down one side and also the internet tool bar at the top of the screen. She pulled a face and flicked through the other tabs she had open. Google, Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon before going back to WordPress where the empty page sat still waiting for her words.

Her fingers hovered over the keyboard and she tried to think of anything to write. Nothing came into her head, it was like all the characters and settings had packed up and left. Pulling a face, she looked out of the window next to her. She had left a gap in the heavy curtains to let the natural light in, not that there was lot of it.

The early December day was cloudy and dull. The sky threatened rain or worse snow. Most of the frost had now vanished, but some of the cars still had a dusting on their metal bodies. It looked cold and she wasn’t in the mood to put on a load of layers and go for a walk.

Her eyes looked back at the computer monitor clock. It had only gone up by a few minutes. Sighing, she give up and decided to walk away. Nothing else could be done. Stopping the music, she took off her headphones and got up. Walking into the living room, she saw the family’s old dog curled in his bed. Leaving him to sleep, because he was becoming more and more grumpy about being woken up for no real reason, she turned on the TV.

Really, she should grab one the writing books that lined the bookcase next to her computer or  go upstairs to her room and pick a new book to start reading. Instead, she flicked through the TV channels and settled down to watch some daytime TV, which was a dull as the day outside.

Creepy Clown (Part 2)

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Heavenly paused at her bedroom window. Her room faced the back garden which was only a small square of short grass framed by tall dark brown fencing. Evening had all but turned to night, but enough of the neighbors’ house lights were on to see by.

Heavenly looked out, she saw a cat walking on a wall a few gardens down and the wind blowing harder through bushes and tall plants. Over her garden wall, she could just see the alleyway that ran between the rows of terraced houses then the next line of houses’ back gardens. Nothing else was moving , so she let the curtain fall and turned away.

She walked out of her room, cross the hallway, passed the bathroom and into her mum’s room. There she went to the window and drew in a deep breath before gently opening the gap in the middle of the drawn curtains. Peering out, her breath held as she looked down on the street. Nothing was moving, but the wind which she could just about hear.

‘There’s nothing out there,’ Heavenly spoke aloud, ‘it’s all in your mind. And that clown was just trying to scare you and nothing more.’

Letting the curtain slipped from her fingers, Heavenly closed the gap. Turning she, tightening her fists then releasing them. Trying to push the event out her mind, she let her mum’s room and went back to her own. She got changed out of her high school uniform into fluffy PJ’s.

Putting some other clothes away, she caught her reflection in the wardrobe mirror. Her long curly dark blonde hair was a mess. She took it down then re-put it up again. Her pale and freckled face was flushed deep pink with the cold and the run. She pushed her purple framed glasses further up her nose then closed the wardrobe door.

Heavenly then picked up her shoulder bag and dug around in it. She took out her empty plastic lunchbox, school text books, notebooks and pencil case. Picking up the lunchbox, she weighed it in her hands and glanced over at the curtained window.

Just one more check…. she thought.

Slowly, she went to the window and slipped her fingers down the end of the curtain to peer around one side. The gap was too small. Heavenly pulled the corner back more and looked harder. The cat was now walking across her fence. The ginger moggy sure footed as it balanced its way across.

Heavenly looked down both sides as far as she could see.

‘There’s nothing there!’

She dropped the curtain and hurried out of her room and downstairs. She turned right into the kitchen and dumped her lunchbox next to the sink. She got and drink a glass of water then turning around spotted a scrap of paper on top of the cooker. Going over, she found and read a note from her mum;

Hi sweetie, pie and chips in the oven. Please take the washing out of the machine and I’ll see you in the morning. Love you, Mum x.      

For the first time in months, Heavenly wished her mum wasn’t working nights at the hospital. Right now, she didn’t want to be alone. Heavenly dropped the note on the work top and looked down at the oven. She could feel the slight heat coming off the glass still. With a sigh, she opened the door and took out her food.

Grabbing a can of cola, Heavenly went into the living room to eat. She turned on the TV and put on the news. She ate quickly, wanting to go to her bedroom, lock the bolt on her door and do her homework. Finishing up, she was about to turn the TV off when a news report stopped her.

‘The sightings of clowns throughout England continue to grew.’

The breathe caught in her throat and Heavenly became fixed on the TV screen. The male news reporter continued, ‘the craze which has been happening in America over the last few years every October has started here. People have reported seeing scarily dressed clowns outside of schools, shops and their homes. Police have stated they are looking into it and ask people to stay away and report all sightings to them.’

Heavenly swallowed and whispered, ‘clowns…’

She turned the TV off and flopped back against the sofa. Taking a few deep breaths, she shut her eyes. Straight away, she saw that clown sat silently on the swing and the red balloon tied to the bench.

Heavenly cried out and snapped open her eyes. Abandoning everything she fled upstairs and into her room. She slammed the bolt on the door home and took a few deep breaths. Going to her bed, she gathered her school things and sat down at her desk. Turning on her computer, she flipped through her homework diary and debated what to start work on.

However, as soon as the computer and the internet home page had loaded, Heavenly typed into the search engine; Clowns England News. 

Straight away millions of results appeared;

‘Killer Clown’ Craze.

‘Creepy Clowns’ Invade UK.

Girl aged 10 threaten by creepy clown outside school.

Creepy clowns sightings on the raise.

Seen a creepy clown? Here’s what you should do.

Clowns in outrage over misconduct by ‘creepy clowns’.

‘Wow,’ Heavenly breathed.

She clicked and opened up a few news pages and began reading. A dozen or so websites later, Heavenly had to stop, her mind was freaking out and all she could think about was what if the clown had caught her? What would he have done to her…

Heavenly felt the panic raising within her. She dived into her bed and buried herself under the duvets. She tried to collect herself, but she was crying already. Taking in big gulps of air which didn’t seem to help, she wiped her face and thought about calling the police. Just like most of the articles had stated. Calming herself and turning things over in her mind, she thought about other things for a few moments.

Shaking her head, Heavenly felt like laughing at herself. Reaching the conclusion that the clown had meant to do nothing but scare her and it was a Halloween prank, she dropped the whole thing.

‘This is just silly,’ she finally said aloud and threw the bedding off.

She got up and went boldly to the window. Yanking back the curtains she looked outside. It was totally dark out there now. Heavenly stared hard, trying to see anything at all.

A neighbor’s security light flashed on. Heavenly blinked away sudden blindness. Something moved on the other side of her fence. The ginger moggy? Heavenly pressed her face against the cold window and watch as a red balloon bobbed into view.

To Be Continued…

The Mind Of A Writer

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The second she opened the door in her mind all the stories rushed out. The characters began talking to her so loud that their mingling voices blocked everything else out. Scene settings popped into her vision, taking her from moonlight countryside to a cottage’s roaring fire place.

She shut her eyes and tried to get control over it all. She pushed away the characters she didn’t want to work on and listened harder to the ones she did. It took awhile, but when she opened her eyes again and saw the computer screen and keyboard before her. Hovering her fingers over random letters, she began typing.

Family Secrets (Part 3)

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He was gone when she woke. Em rolled over and looked at the dip he had left in the bed. Reaching her hand out, she felt the cold sheets. Sighing, she lay there and thought about why her husband would have an affair. He’d never seemed to look at any other woman but her.

Maybe I’m unattractive in my old age? She thought, I’m only thirty odd though! 

She then took a few moments to work out how old she actually was then how many years they had been married for; eight.

Perhaps, that was the problem? We married too young.

Pulling a face, she decided that tonight she’d find out the truth no matter what. Getting up, she noted the time and turned her thoughts to time tabling her day. She didn’t need to be in work till this afternoon, so she had time to tidy up and maybe do some more snooping.

She got herself sorted then went downstairs. Rick had left his breakfast things on the kitchen table. She paused in the doorway, realising he must have been late for giving a lecture or a workshop at the uni. She tidied up as she debated what to eat. Em had done most of the kitchen cleaning, when she decided on toast and a coffee.

After breakfast and feeling a bit better, she decided to go and clean the study. Rick would complain like hell, but she could face it, if I find a clue, she added. Grabbing everything she needed, she clambered up the stairs juggling the vacuum and the plastic tray of cleaning stuff. At the study door she stopped to get her breath.

Opening the door, it was clear he had been looking for something. The desk and floor were covered in papers, open books and files. It reminded her of freshly fallen snow. Leaving her cleaning stuff at the door, she tried to step around it all to get to the desk, but failed when she stepped on a book. The spine cracked loudly, the noise like a snapping twig in the quietness of the house.

Rolling her eyes, she picked up the book then begin plucking other books off the floor and stacking them in a pile. Next she did all the papers though she tried to divided them into subject matters. With that done, she started on his desk. Picking up a notebook, the side of her hand hit the computer mouse and the screen woke up.

Her husband’s diary was displayed. She looked and saw that he’d been due to give a lecture on ‘creating fictional characters’ at nine this morning. Then he had a follow up workshop after an early lunch. Biting her lip, she scrolled back and forth through the days, looking for any hints that he had put a meeting with the other woman in.

Soon though, she realised this was his only uni schedule. Growling, she looked through the other tabs he had open, but it was only his lecture notes, presentation and handouts. Abandoning that idea, she turned the computer off and looked through the notebook that was still in her hand. It was a mess of story ideas in her husband’s handwriting. None of them made much sense to her.

She placed the book back and started looking through everything on the desk, but nothing else stood out. She sank onto his well worn leather desk chair and wondered where else she could look. Though it would be hard in all this mess….

Em started tidying again. Luckily, she had cleaned her husband’s study enough times to know where most things went. The things she didn’t know, she placed piled up on the low, long coffee table which was against the right wall next to his great-granddad’s leather armchair. By the time she was done, Em had to leave for work.

Instead of driving directly to the office where she was a part-time admin, she took the route her husband had headed last night. Slowing down at the place she had lost him in, she looked at the houses and tried to see if there was one… that what?  she thought, had a sign post outside saying mistress’ house? Or maybe cheating husbands’ grotto? 

She smiled at her silliness and drove to work. The afternoon passed in a blur of phone calls,  paperwork and filing. Driving home afterwards, she felt too tried to do anything and when she got in, Em lay on the sofa trying to get rid if a small headache.

The ringing of a mobile brought her back. She fished the phone out of her bag and answered it without looking who was calling, ‘Hello?’

‘Em, I’m sorry but I forgot to tell you about this dinner I’m going tonight,’ Rick rushed.

‘Dinner?’ Em questioned as she noticed the breathlessness of his voice.

‘With some colleagues. I totally forgot about it! I’ll be home real late too. You’ll be okay though, right?’

She nodded then said, ‘of course.’

‘There’s no need to wait up. I’ll try not to disturb you. bye’.

‘Okay. Love-‘

The phone beeped in her ear and Em tutted. Placing it down, she decided she wasn’t feeling hungry and that if her husband wasn’t going to home anytime soon she’d go into the attic for a bit. Collecting her things, she went into the bedroom and let her stuff beside the bed. She got changed into jog pants and an old jumper. Realising how quiet it was, she turned on the TV which sat on her dressing table. The news channel came on and she left the steady voice of the news reporter talking to the empty room.

Out in the hallway, she pulled the attic hatch cord and watched the ladder descending. Climbing up slowly, she then felt for the light switch at the top and waited till the blinking light bulbs had settled to step inside. The attic felt hot and stuffy. She breathed in old air and dust as she made her way to the back left corner. The wooden boards creaked slightly under her feet and the voice of the news reporter followed her like a warning spirit.

She reached the back of the attic where behind a dining table and six stacked dinning chairs from her grandmother’s old house was a seemly abandoned steam trunk. Going around the table and chairs, Em reached up to wooden beam and felt along it. Her fingers brushed something small and metal. She brought the key down from it’s hiding place and knelt before the trunk.

She looked over her shoulder and listened, holding her breath like a child waiting to be caught. However, all she could hear was the now the faint sounds from the TV. Turning back, she put the key into the steam trunk’s lock and slowly opened the lid. She breathed in a very faded scent of lavender then looked down at the contents.

To Be Continued…

Cold Calling

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The phone was ringing again. Sallie put the pillow over her head, pressing it down over her ears. She breathed deeply, listening to her harsh breaths and the only slightly muffled sound of the phone. She counted slowly, trying to remember how many times it had rung today. She reach six then stopped.

Tossing the pillow aside, she got up and stormed down the hallway of the bungalow. she snatched the phone up from its living room stand and answered it.

‘Hello?’

‘Miss Pearman?’ a too cheery male voice asked.

‘Yes’?

‘Did you know you could be owned money on your PPI?’

Sallie sighed, ‘I’m not interesting, please remove my number from your list.’

She hung up and took the phone back  into the bedroom with her. Settling down again, she wondered how she was going to get enough sleep for her night shift at the hospital tonight.

The phone ran again.

She eyed it and thought about unplugging it. Instead, she picked it up and asked, ‘who is it was this time?’

‘We’re looking at replacing windows and doors in your area right now,’ a loud female voice spoke, ‘would you be interested in a quote?’

‘No thanks. Please remove my number and stop calling me,’ Sallie snapped and hung up.

She put the phone on the bedside table and tried to get back to sleep again. She muttered to herself about the terrible people. Just as she was dozing off again, the phone rang for a third time. Sallie opened her eyes and looked over. Wondering if suddenly the word had got out that she was  answering her phone.

She answered and pressed the phone to her ear.

‘Hello? an Indian accented woman asked.

‘What you want?’ Sallie asked, sleepy.

‘Madam, I’m from Windows tech support and your computer has been sending us messages that it has a virus. Can you please turn your PC on so I can help you sort this problem out?’

‘That’s it!’ Sallie yelled.

She hung up, threw the duvet away and stomped down the hallway. Spotting the phone plug at the wall near the door, she pulled it out.

‘There! that should stop all you cold callers!’ She cried.

Dear Diary #23

Dear Diary,

Tomorrow is my birthday and for the first time ever I’m spending it alone! Okay well, not so alone because I have the three dogs, two cats, the rabbits, the hens, chicks and the two baby lambs. It didn’t dawn until this morning when I saw the date, realized it was my birthday tomorrow and thought I’ve made no plans!

I guess though the more older you get the more birthday’s lose their excitement. When I was little birthdays and Christmas were always big and the only times of the year when you could really ask for a lot of stuff and get most of it. The parties seemed so much fun, even if they were simple and easily forgettable.

Getting older having my own money meant  could just buy whatever I wanted when I felt like it. No more waiting for my birthday and Christmas to role around! I could have it now with a click of the PC mouse and scan of a card. But I miss those special presents. The ones you hadn’t even thought to ask about but your parents and friends knew you’d love. I do kinda wish to re-live those times again.

I guess I should figure out what to do, see if anyone is around. I can’t be alone for my birthday! I don’t think anybody should be.

 

***

(Side note; with it actually being my birthday tomorrow, I thought I’d have a theme of ‘birthday’ this month. Just thought I’d announce that. Also, planning to get the first short story collection out by the end of this month! Thanks for reading and please like and share. Hayley)

Searching

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He logged on to the dating website and saw he still had no messages. Sighing, he spent ten minutes or thereabouts, scrolling through the photos of women. None of the smiling or pouting faces attracted him. He wondered if he should change his profile or at least the personal quizzes he had half-heartily attempted, so that he might have a better chance of at least finding someone who would return his messages.

Then he again, he thought, the online dating game never seemed to care and just like a coin flip he was either going to meet someone or not.