Visit #TaleWeaver

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I hadn’t seen my great aunt Sophia in five years because I had been travelling the world and Sophia only had a landline phone. So, I thought it would be nice to go and spend sometime with her. She was my oldest relative and I loved hearing the stories of her life, family members and past friends.

Great aunt Sophia’s cottage hadn’t changed. There were roses, honeysuckle and jasmine growing up the house towards the thatched roof. There were loads of other flowers and plants in the front garden which reminded me of being in a gardening shop. There was actual a sign with faded words on it declaring Plants for sale on the front gate.

I walked up the path and knocked on the door with the iron knocker. How many times had I ran around this cottage, laughing and chasing butterflies? So many of my summers had been spent out here as my parents, who worked difficult, long hour jobs in London had used great aunt Sophia as a nanny.

‘Sophia? It’s me, Hattie! Are you home?’ I called out.

I tried the door and found it locked.

Dumping my heavy hiking bag, suitcase and duffel bag on the doorstep, I walked around the side of the cottage. The back garden was a huge acre lawn with large trees dotted about to give shady patches and at the sides were long flower beds containing all kinds of bright, sweet smelling blooms, wild flowers and small evergreen plants.

There was no path across the lawn, so I walked on the grass down to the bottom, where half hidden by a weeping willow was a large Victorian glass and iron greenhouse. The door was open and I stuck my head inside to call out, ‘great aunt Sophia? It’s Hattie.’

‘Who?’ a soft, old voice spoke.

I entered the greenhouse, heat wrapped around me, catching my breath and making it harder to breath. Long leaf tropical plants brushed my face and arms, making me feel like I had walked through spiderwebs. Narrow bench tables ran down in rows though here and there, a rickety table or a massive plant pot sat.

Slipping through a gap, I saw a white haired and hunched woman in her late eighties, sitting on a old wooden chair, looking around confused. Sophia was so much older then I had last seen her, there were more wrinkles, her skin was too tanned with sunlight, her eyes looked duller, her hair shorter but she was still great aunt Sophia. She was wearing a pale blue summer dress with a white lacy trim.

‘Your only grandniece, Henrietta. Hattie. Hat. We spoke on the phone this morning, auntie Sophia. Remember?’

Sophia stared at me, taking in my boy short brown hair, sun kissed skin, my too thin but muscular body, the torn jean shorts and white crop top I was wearing.

‘Ah! Hat!’ Sophia cried.

She struggled to take off the thick gardening gloves she had on.

‘Here,’ I said and helped her take them off.

‘I was just repotting these baby cacti,’ she replied.

I looked at the tray she had been working on and saw lots of new cacti in tiny brown plastic pots. There was a mix of different kinds; some looked like little tufts of fluff, others was straight and tall, there were round pin cushions, some had different colour ‘buds’ on them.

Behind the tray, more cacti grew and some were quite big having been in the greenhouse for more then forty years. I realised we were standing in cacti corner and the familiarity of it made me feel right at home.

‘You should have seen some of the cacti I saw in America! They were huge!’ I spoke.

‘Is that where you’ve been, Hat?’ Sophia asked.

I nodded, ‘I went to California, Texas, Arizona, Washington D.C, New York and Louisiana.’

‘All of those?’

‘Yes. I’ve been to other counties too. Canada, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand and Italy.’

‘Your parents funded it?’ Sophia asked, knowing it was true.

‘Mostly. I did work in a few places. I taught English.’

Sophia patted my hands, ‘I bet they were glad to get rid of you again.’

I sighed and decided not to get into that argument. It was a part of an old family feud; parents having children and not bring them up themselves; old traditions and rich fathers.

‘It’s too hot in here,’ I said, ‘let’s go in and I’ll make us afternoon tea.’

Sophia agreed and we left the greenhouse for the coolness of the cottage. In the kitchen, I found everything I needed to make a pot of old English tea, sandwiches, and small cakes. I brought everything into the living room which was soft and cosy.

Sophia was dozing in a large armchair and I took the other one. The windows were open and I could hear bees buzzing and smell the flowers outside.

I poured the tea and give Sophia a cup.

‘How are you?’ I asked, ‘have you been trying to go out?

Sophia glanced at the windows, ‘no,’ she replied.

I clutched my saucer and cup, wondering how to carry on this conversation. Great aunt Sophia had agoraphobia. No one knew for how many years she had suffered with it, she had had lots of treatment but nothing worked for long.

Now, it was so easy to blame it on her old age; she struggled walking and standing, she had bouts of confusion and she didn’t have many local family and friends to visit anymore.

‘And why would I want to?’ Sophia picked up, ‘the world is a bad place. I’m safe here and anyway my plants need me.’

I sighed and sipped my tea.

‘You must have seen the badness in your travels. I worried about you. I got all your postcards…’ Sophia trailed off and got up to go to the fireplace where there was a stack of postcards resting against the wall.

‘I saw lots of good and amazing things too. I got photographs to give you,’ I replied, ‘and I’m glad you got my postcards.’

Sophia sit down again, postcards in hand, she shuffled through them, looking at the imagines of all the different places.

‘Do you like them?’ I asked.

‘Yes. Very nice,’ Sophia replied, ‘where are you going to go next?’

‘Nowhere.’

‘You’re staying at home?’

‘I’m going to stay here and look after you,’ I said.

Sophia smiled but said, ‘I don’t need looking after, child!’

You do, I thought, instead I replied, ‘I meant help you out and stuff, like I did before.’

‘Right then. Those cacti still need potting. Off you go!’

I rolled my eyes, grabbed a cake and left the cottage for the greenhouse.

Somethings never change but I was happy to be back again.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2019/07/18/tale-weaver-232-july-18th-visit/ with thanks).

The Grave Digger’s Cottage

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Alice said goodbye to her friends and started to run home. Now eleven, her parents let her walk alone but she was only allowed a certain distance. To school a few streets away, the park next door and the corner shop.

She laughed loudly, excitement spilling out as she went. School was over for another day but also for summer. There was a whole two months of playtime and adventures waiting for her.

Alice lived behind the village church and across the graveyard. Her house sat on the back edge of the cemetery, over shadowed by a massive weeping willow tree. It was a small cottage with a yellow thatched roof, red brick chimney, small frosty windows and set apart from all the others in the village. It was called the Grave Digger’s Cottage.

There many routes she could have taken home, but Alice took the quickest. Cutting across church grounds and the straight path that ran down the centre of the graveyard. Opening the gate of her front garden, she skipped up the gravel path, lined with bright summer flowers then opened the front door.

‘Hello, grandpa!’ she shouted.

‘Hello, Al!’ the distant echoing voice of her grandpa called back.

Giggling, Alice took off her shoes and left them with her schoolbag in the hallway. Downstairs there were only three rooms; the front parlour, living room and kitchen/dinner. Upstairs there were also three rooms; a small bathroom, her parents bedroom and her grandpa’s room. Another staircase led to the attic which was Alice’s bedroom.

Alice went down the hallway, through the kitchen to the back door and stepped out into blazing sunshine once again.

Her grandpa was in the back garden, sitting on a stool next to a low table and he was putting together flower bunches. His skin was tanned a deep brown from days spent outside and his figure was stooped from years of being bent over digging. He had a thin cloud of white wispy hair and rough outline of a white beard. His eyes were blue like the colour of the sea lit by the sun.

Alice had been told she looked like him but she had never been able to see it. Yes, they had the same colour eyes and once grandpa’s hair had been chestnut brown like her’s was now. Alice’s skin though was paler and definitely not wrinkly!

‘School is finally over!’ Alice cried.

‘Is it really?’ grandpa questioned.

Alice nodded, ‘are mum and dad home yet?’

Grandpa shook his head, ‘your dad’s watching over an evening exam at the university and your mum had a late meeting to go to in the city. It’s just you and me till bedtime.’

Alice smiled, spending time alone with grandpa was the best. He told awesome stories, let her do want she wanted and allowed her to stay up late.

‘Would you like a hand, grandpa?’ Alice asked.

‘I’m almost done,’ he replied.

Alice sat down on another stool and watched him wrapping green garden twine around the bunches of mixed flowers. Alice knew he had grown them himself and when the flowers were ready, grandpa would cut them and put them together.

‘There we go. Right, would you like to come with me, Al?’ Grandpa asked.

‘Yes, please!’ Alice said.

Grandpa give her some of the flowers to carry and he took the rest. Together they went out into the cemetery. At a handful of headstones, they placed the flowers into the vases and grandpa did some cleaning and weeding if needed.

Countless times they had done this and Alice knew the stories of all of the headstones they visited plus many of the other ones in the graveyard. Grandpa had known a lot of people buried here because they had come from the village and the graves they visited were of family and friends. Grandpa had also buried some of them.

Alice looked back their cottage, the roof could just be seen through the trees and wild growth. Alice sat down on one of the tombs, the stone was cold against her bare legs but she didn’t mind.

‘Grandpa, tell me the story of our house again.’

He looked up from pulling weeds out from around a Second World war grave of his uncle.

He smiled and began chatting away, ‘when the new church was built in the eighteen hundreds after the old one burnt down, they also built a cottage for a grounds keeper to leave in. The man and his son who first lived there were also grave diggers and that’s how the cottage got it’s name.’

Alice nodded.

‘From that day on, every man who lived in the cottage – expect your father- was a grave digger and also church grounds keeper. We had to make sure that nature didn’t take over and the paths clear for visiting people. We had to help plot out the cemetery, decided where to bury people and dig those graves. Then when the headstones arrived we had to plant them in the ground over the right grave.’

‘And what else, grandpa?’ Alice demanded.

‘And we were night watchmen too! Back in time, grave robbers would come and dig up fresh bodies to sell to doctors for science. People would also try to do cheap burials by doing it themselves and we had to stop them! Then there’s tramps and teenagers who muck around and make place untidy. We had to get them out by dawn so visitors wouldn’t see ’em and get a scare!’

Grandpa clawed his hands and made swatting movements in the air. He growled low like a bear before coming over and tickling Alice, who broke into giggles. Then he sat on the tomb next to her and they looked out over the cemetery.

‘Did you ever see a ghost, grandpa?’ Alice asked.

‘Plenty!’ grandpa cried, ‘I saw the ghost of little girl once, way younger then you, and she was running along the path just there. There’s the woman in blue who walks around the church, crying for her lost lover. A black dog with red eyes that’s spotted in the bushes and shadows of the trees. He’s said to guide souls away.’

‘And there’s also the headless man!’ Alice shouted.

Grandpa laughed and spoke, ‘that’s one of your favourites, Al.’

Spots of rain began to fall.

Grandpa pointed out a large bank of grey cloud coming over to them and declared it time to go home.

‘But you will tell me, won’t you, grandpa? The story of the headless man,’ Alice questioned.

Grandpa helped her down from the tomb. Hand in hand they walked back towards The Grave Digger’s Cottage.

‘Of course, I will! As long as you promise not to lose your head with fright!’ Grandpa replied.

Alice laughed and shadows grew long on the ground.

The Glass Maker #CCC

Bottles in window

My great-grandfather had been a glass blower, like his father before him and the cottage they lived in had stayed in the family, though my father had broken that line. I hadn’t know my father that well and despite the glass making trade being gone, there was something in my heart and soul that drew me towards it.

I didn’t set out to make any money from my glass designs, it was just a hobby but then it turned out people were interested to own my pieces and before I know it, I had brought my great-grandfather’s trade back to life.

 

(Inspired by; https://crimsonprose.wordpress.com/2019/03/13/crimsons-creative-challenge-18/ with thanks).

 

 

Glitter #fridayfictoneers

 

Placing the large, sliver glittery jar on the window sill, Ola stood back to admire it. She had loved how in the shop the jar had glowed in the sunlight as if fireflies where inside it. Now as the sun hit it again, light danced across her walls like a disco ball.

Slightly moving the gold candlestick that had been her great-grandma’s, till it was in a better position to catch the light bouncing off the jar, Ola’s couldn’t help but think what the candlestick represented. Originally, one of a pair, it had survived the Second World War and the long journey out of Germany to Sweden. It was hope and freedom in one as well as a piece of her family’s history.

Finally happy, Ola moved away and went off to unpack the rest of her shopping. Afterwards, she got a late lunch and settled in the living room to watch TV. A loud tapping on a window caused her to pause. Glass of water and plate of food still in hand, she looked around. The tapping came again.

Maybe, it was someone at the door? Placing things down, she walked over and opened the cottage’s small door. There was no one there. Confused, she closed the door and went to the back one but there was no one their either. Wondering what was going on, she went from window to window and peered out.

The lane and rolling countryside looked like it always did at the height of summer; trees in full green leave, flowers in their bright colours, the fields in patchworks of greens and yellows against the bright blue sky. The other cottages were covered in climbing flowers and plants underneath their whitewash walls and thatched roofs added to that picture perfect look.

There didn’t seem to be anyone around. Ola went back to her lunch but as soon as she’d sat down the tapping started up again. Frowning, she arose and went quickly to both doors. Peering out of the windows, she saw there was no one there. Perhaps, it was children playing about? Going back, she began her lunch, ignoring the tapping when it started up again.

Finally though, she’d had enough. Getting up and heading in the direction of the tapping which seemed to be coming from the landing window where she had placed the glittering jar, Ola stood for a few moments. Then she saw it. A huge black and white magpie was flying at the window and tapping on the glass.

Ola laughed. The bird was attracted to the jar! The sunlight sparkling off the surface must have caught it’s attention. She watched for a few more moments as the magpie kept trying to get at the jar, then not sure what else to do, Ola rolled the blind down. The jar and window sill fell dark. Ola felt a wave of unhappiness but as she listened the magpie’s tapping slowed then stopped.

Ola pulled the blind halfway up. Thinking that if there wasn’t so much light on the jar then the magpie might stay away. It was a shame not to let the jar glow as it should. Stepping back, she stood by the window for a few minutes. Admiring the movement of the light on the jar, candlestick and walls. The magpie didn’t come back.

(Inspired from: https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/07/12/14-july-2017/ with thanks)

In A Corner Of The World

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I’ve no idea how I ended up walking through this field. But here I am surrounded by long grass, wild flowers and the calling of birds. It’s a warm afternoon, but I can’t see the sun above me and the sky is a strange off blue color.

There’s a cottage ahead. The yellow thatch roof rising through the green leafy trees and tall bushes. There’s nothing else to do but go over and see if anybody is home. The field leads me to a small brown fence over which is a short carpet of grass. Bright flowers dot around the cottage and a wire washing line is stretched in the garden.

I go to climb over then stop. There’s an old woman beating a green rug on the washing line with a wooden tennis racket looking thing. Her white hair is piled up on top of her head and she’s wearing many skirts, a grey blouse and a pale blue apron. I can just about hear the thwacking sounds.

Climbing the fence, I walk slowly over, hoping that she spots me before I have to call out. Luckily, she does and she stops her work long before I reach her.

‘Hallo!’ she calls out and waves the tennis racket thing.

‘Hi,’ I answer back with a wave too.

‘Nice day for a walk,’ she adds.

‘Yes,’ I reply.

I come to the end of the washing line and look up. There are many green rugs hanging down…actually….they are strips of grass….

Puzzled, I look across the garden and see strips of dirt close by. There’s also a small red wheelbarrow, a spade and a large black bucket.

‘I’m just dusting my lawn,’ the old woman says, cheerily and as if that’s a perfectly normal thing to do.

I open my mouth, questions popping, but no words come out.

‘It can get quite dusty you know. And yes, there are other ways to do it but I prefer the good old fashioned method!’

She shows me how by beating a strip of grass. Only, she does it lighter then before.

I nod and slowly say, ‘how does it get dusty?’

‘Oh! Heaven knows!’ she cries and throws her hands up to the sky.

I glance up, half expecting to see a pig flying by.

‘Do you some time to spare? I’d be ever so grateful if you could help me,’ she asks and nods towards the dirt strips.

I look around, shrug and reply, ‘why not?’

‘Good. Then start digging, deary!’

Still puzzled, I walk to where the last dirt strip is as the old woman takes up beating the grass again. Looking down, I see how she’s cut the strips out and then I pick up the spade and start with the next one.

It’s actually easier then it seems as it appears the grass is use to being cut up. I slice the spade in and make my way around. It’s like a knife through butter. The smell of fresh cut grass and unearthed soil floods my nose. The grass strip comes up and I put it into the wheelbarrow. I start on another and quickly cut that strip loose too.

I look up as I place it into the wheelbarrow and I see the old woman taking down the first strip of grass. I watch her replace it into the lawn then return for the second piece.

‘This is so weird,’ I mumble.

Returning to my task, I dig up more pieces of grass and when the wheelbarrow is full I drive it over. I help the old woman take them out and hang them up. She begins beating the first one and dust raises off it.

‘How long does this take you?’ I ask her.

‘A few days,’ she answers.

‘And how many times do you do this?’

‘Oh, three or four times a year!’

‘Really?’

‘Grass gets very dusty in the summer, deary,’ she explains.

I look at her, but her face is just that of a plain woman in her early seventies. Her cheeks are fat and wrinkled like the rest of her skin. Her eyes are a warm blue, shinning with knowledge and happiness. Her white hair is long and tightly held back in a bun. Around her neck is a string of white pearls and there’s an old wedding ring on her finger.

‘Don’t you have anyone to help you?’ I ask aloud.

‘Sometimes, I do,’ she replies with a mysterious tone to her words, ‘it’s mostly just me though. I don’t mind. Keeps me busy.’

I nod and hear a shrill whistle sounding. Looking, it seems to be coming from the cottage and there’s smoke now rising out of the chimney.

‘It’s time for tea. Do you want to join me?’ the old woman asks.

‘Okay…’

She hurries off, leaving the grass strips on the washing line but taking the tennis racket with her. I follow and go through the small blue door after her. It leads straight into a kitchen. I stand in the doorway and look around.

It’s a very old fashioned farmer’s wife like kitchen. There’s a huge black wood burning stove against the far wall. A large oak table and chairs in the middle, a metal sink and draining board under a netted curtain window. Sky blue cupboards and work surfaces line another wall.

The old woman rattles around cups and things. Humming to herself. I pull out a chair and look down to see a fat old ginger cat curled up on it. I pull out another chair instead and sit down. I hear a clock ticking somewhere and the warmth of the kitchen hugging me like a old friend.

‘Here we are,’ the old woman says and sets down a tea tray.

There’s a tea pot wearing a tea cosy, milk jug, sugar cube bowl, a plate of biscuits, two pattern flower china cups and matching saucers.

‘Thanks,’ I reply.

We have tea and it’s good. I nibble at a biscuit and look around the kitchen. There’s not much else to see though. I want to talk, but I don’t really know what to say. Finally, the old woman breaks the silence.

‘I must get back to keeping my corner of the world tidied now and you should be getting home.’

‘Home?’ I say aloud.

‘Yes. It’ll be dark soon and the woods can be a dangerous place. Even for yourself.’

She pats my arm and gets up.

‘But….I don’t know the way…I found myself in that field. I don’t even know where I am!’ I cry.

The old woman tuts at me, ‘just head back the way you came, deary.’

I move my tea cup away and get up.

‘Goodbye,’ she says and gives me a little wave.

I don’t wave back, but go straight out the door, too confused to speak.

In the garden, the grass is still hanging on the washing line and there are dirt strips in the lawn. The sky is turning a dark blue and the birds are still singing. I walk off, feeling like that’s the only thing I can do. I go back over the fence and through the field. I look back at the cottage, smoke is still coming out of the chimney and the old woman has gone back to beating the grass again.

I turn, take a step and stumble. My legs go out from under me and I land face first in the grass. My eyes shut. I take a deep breath and open then again…And I am no longer in the field.

My study comes to life before my eyes. I blink and the rest of the long grass is gone, replaced by the bookcases, my desk and a fire crackling of the fireplace. I sit up in the deep plush chair, disturbing the book that’s slipped down on to my lap. I pick it up and read the title; Maps Of The Old Worlds.

Boots (Part 2)

Silhouette, Bokeh, Man, Out Of Focus, Fig, Bent, Black

The soft knocking on the door disturbed Faith. She rolled over, still half asleep and whacked her hand into the pillows on the other side of the bed. Moaning, she lay there for a few moments, but then the knocking got louder and she forced herself up.

‘Hello?’ she called in a tried voice.

‘It’s only me, Miss,’ the voice of Faith’s maid, Mary, called through the door.

‘Come in.’

The door creaked opened and the young woman shuffled in carrying a large jug. She was dressed in a typical black dress with a white frilled apron. Her dark hair was tied up under a white cap, allowing too much of her rosy face to be seen. Mary walked across the room and over to a bowl by the window. Tipping the jug gently, water splashed down and into the bowl. then placing the empty jug down, she moved to the wardrobe.

‘I heard something last night,’ Faith said as she slide from the bed, ‘it sounded like a man pacing the hallway. There seemed to be no one there though. You wouldn’t know anything about that would you?’

Mary paused in her search through Faith’s wardrobe, ‘So, you’ve heard him have you, Miss?’

‘Heard who?’ Faith snapped.

‘The ghost solider, Miss,’ Mary said.

Faith frowned then began washing her hands and face.

‘At least that’s what the Morgans use to call him,’ Mary added as she selected a morning dress of pale blue and white trim from the wardrobe.

‘I don’t believe in ghosts,’ Faith finally responded, ‘no, no, one of my walking dress, please.’

Faith waved the maid’s choice away then waited till she came back with a totally different dress; of lime green and black strips, before beginning to get dressed. Both women stayed silent throughout then leaving the maid to tidy the room, Faith went downstairs.

Walking into the dinning room, she found breakfast all laid out and awaiting her. Even though she didn’t feel like eating, Faith sat down and made herself a cup of tea. Sipping, she heard the grandmother clock chiming eight and the maid humming above her. With some light pouring in through the window, it felt easy to dismiss the boot steps of last night.

Nipping on some toast, Faith decided she had enough and went out for a walk. The fresh morning air really brought her back to her senses. The small village was all ready wide awake. Shops were getting ready to open and people were hurrying about. Faith walked passed the small church and out into the countryside.

The smell of grass and animals hung in the air, but Faith felt at home. She looped around the village, enjoying the warm sun and the birds flapping between the trees and hedgerows. Coming back into the village, she went into a tea shop and sat down to have some lunch.

‘Are you the new school teacher?’

Faith looked up at the waitress who had appeared with her tea and sandwiches, ‘Yes. I am.’

‘Am sure the Rector is delight you are here. He has been trying so hard to manage things since dear Mrs Pieton left us.’

‘I am sure he has been more then capable,’ Faith said as she arranged her napkin and hoped the girl got the hint to leave.

‘I heard you had brought the Morgan’s house. It’s haunted you know,’ the girl added.

Faith shot her a look, ‘I believe in no such things.’

The waitress bobbed and left her to her lunch.

Upon returning home, Faith found Mary in the study. The maid was emptying some of the books onto the shelves.

‘Good afternoon, Miss,’ Mary said, ‘I thought I would get started in here.’

‘It will take a long while to sort all my books and things,’ Faith added.

She walked over to her chair and sat down at her desk positioned under a window from which the front garden could be seen.

‘Would you like me to help you dress for the dinner you have tonight, Miss?’ Mary asked.

‘Dinner?’

‘Yes, at the Rector’s?’

‘Of course. No, we still have time. Mary…what else do you know about this…ghost?’ Faith asked.

Mary slipped the last book in her hand onto a shelf then turned to her, ‘they say he was a solider, who was wounded on a battlefield close to here. He walked in begging for help, but the villagers were all scared and no one would open their door.’

Faith tapped a pencil on the desk and looked thoughtfully at the maid.

‘This cottage was empty at the time. The family in Manchester. He broke in through the back door and fell in the hallway. When the family returned, they found him dead and decided they could no longer stay here. If that had happened to me I would have left too!’ Mary gasped.

‘Where is the proof though?’ Faith asked a few moments later, ‘was there anything in the papers? Any witnesses?’

‘No, Miss. It is believed the army covered it all up,’ Mary answered.

Faith sighed and looked out of the window. The summer’s day was really getting underway and she could see the flowers in the front garden waving in the breeze.

‘Please go and get my dress ready for tonight,’ Faith uttered, ‘I wish to read awhile in here before I get dressed.’

‘Very well, Miss,’ Mary replied.

Curtsying, the maid left the room quietly.

Faith turned and began searching through the boxes. She found one of only three books she owned on the science of the supernatural and took it back to her desk. Flipping through, she read a few passages about ghosts before Mary knocked on the door and requested if she was ready to dress.

 

To Be Continued….

 (Inspired byhttps://wordpress.com/read/feeds/34771988/posts/1062669023)

Boots (Part 1)

Silhouette, Bokeh, Man, Out Of Focus, Fig, Bent, Black

The grandmother clock chimed two as Faith started to climb the cottage’s stairs. She held the candle holder away from her, so that the small flickering light offered more guidance.   Her other hand rested on the heavily polished banister and she felt the smoothness of the wood against her fingers. With her slippers muffled by the thick carpet she made her way up to the dimly lit first floor.

The chimes faded and silence settled once more. Without knowing why, Faith glanced behind her. The hallway below her was empty, expect for the sound of footsteps. She twisted, aiming the candle downwards and trying to peer through the shadows. Nothing seemed to be moving and yet, the sound of a man’s heavy boots echoed along the hallway carpet.

‘Hello?’ she called out, her voice steady.

She listened for a reply, but no words came back to her. Faith glanced upstairs and the calling of her bed then carefully turning around and hitching up her skirts, she stepped down. As soon as she came to the bottom the walking boots stopped.

‘Who’s there?’ Faith shouted, ‘My husband is upstairs and it will not take much to rise him!’

Dropping her skirts, she waved the candle light about and prayed that whoever was in her new house did not know that she actually lived alone. Some of the light bounced off the stained glass windows in the front door then splashed along the wall. Her eyes followed the glow along the hallway and passed the first doorway.

Faith moved slowly and inspected the small living room, dinning room and kitchen. Nothing was disturbed. In the living room the embers of the fire burnt dark orange, but they do not cast enough light. Faith closed all the doors and went back to the stairs, there was one more room she had to check. As her hand reached for the doorknob of the parlour door, she realised that was the first room she should have looked in.

The door swung open and she stuck the candle inside. Not being able to see very far, she was forced to go into the hardly used room. Two sofas faced each other over a low circle table, the curtains were drawn at the windows and the fireplace was empty. There was nothing else in the room and no place for anyone to hide.

Faith walked out, shutting the door behind her. Frowning, she looked down the hallway again. She could hear her own hard breathing and slight wheeze caused by being in her corset and tight evening dress for too long. Her heart pumped in her ears, seemly too calm and normal for the current situation.

Perhaps though, she had been wrong? Faith puzzled, she had never had a good imagination thanks to her strict up bring and she believed everything had a logical explanation. However, the sound of the boots had been so real. She looked upstairs and wonder if it was possible the invader had sneaked up whilst she had been going through the other rooms.

Slowly climbing the stairs, Faith stopped at the top and looked first to the left then to the right. The layout was the same as below; three doors to the left and one to the right. Faith went to there first and opened the door on to a small room that was meant for the maid. The candle flickered violently and Faith paused to give it time to stop. The circle of light showed her a bed frame against the wall, a wardrobe and desk against the other, whilst a small square curtained window was in the wall opposite.

Stepping out and securing the door behind her. Faith looked into the other rooms. The first was her dressing room and wardrobe, which held a large table and mirror, an old oak wardrobe and a number of trunks and boxes. The second room was her library and study which was still being unpacked, whilst the third was her bedroom. All the rooms were empty.

Faith sighed deeply and closed her bedroom door behind her. She lent against it then moved to light the other candles that were dotted around. The once dark room quickly became bright and she felt safer. Placing the originally candle by her bedside, Faith began the difficult task of undressing herself. Luckily she had had a lot of practice of the years, but it still took awhile.

Finally standing in her under things with her abandoned other clothes on the floor, she blew out all but one candle and climbed into bed, too tried to put the night dress on. Pulling the blankets up, she put her head on the pillow and felt sleep stealing over her.

The sound of a man’s boot steps in the hallway again made her shoot up right. Faith froze, clutching the blanks to her chest and listening hard. The steps were steady and seemed to be making their way to the front door. She counted, trying to remember how many steps the hallway was. The noise went on long past her counting.

‘What should I do?’ Faith muttered, ‘perhaps, I should just lock the door and stay in here. If it’s a thief there’s not much he can take anyway.’

Faith pulled the blankets back and got out of the bed. As quietly and quickly as she could she crossed the rug covered floor and locked the bedroom door. For a few moments she listened there, but all she could hear were the boots which she decided were now pacing the hallway.

‘Oh odd!’ she cried under her breath, ‘maybe, he’s waiting for me to come down again? I shall not fall for any tricks!’

Faith got back into bed and sat there listening to the footsteps until sleep claimed her.

To Be Continued…

 (Inspired by https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/34771988/posts/1062669023)