Good For The Soul #3LineTales

three line tales, week 197: vinyl albums in a record shop, bowie, the cure, fleetwood mac, joy division

‘Good for the ears, good for the soul,’ my dad use to say.

He loved music but couldn’t play an instrument or sing a note and yet I couldn’t imagine him without his headphones on, feet and fingers tapping along to something.

It brought tears to my eyes picturing him like that but it was best to remember him that way instead of in a hospital bed, draped in tubes and wires, waiting for a heart transplant that never came.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2019/11/07/three-line-tales-week-197/ with thanks).

Leaf Pile

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Raking leaves should have been my son’s job, just as it was mine as a kid. However, my son is gone and has been for twenty-three years. He had been ten years old, a boy full of life which had been cut short.

I pause in my raking, leaning on the smooth wooden pole as I get my breath back. Looking up at the left front window of my house, I see my wife standing there. She is stroking her short white hair, her mouth moving as she speaks but her eyes are not watching me, they are staring into the distance.

The dementia has her mind in a tight grip of late and some days she doesn’t know who she is. In my heart I know she doesn’t have much longer to live but I can’t let her go. I wave at her and get no response back. She carries on playing with her hair and speaking either to herself or to someone she thinks is there but has long since passed away.

Getting back to work, I pull the dry leaves together into a pile, freeing the grass from the quilt blanket the leaves create. I wouldn’t burn them but put them on the composed heap to be used in planting my show flowers in the spring. Garden is the only thing I have left to enjoy now.

The front door opens and I hear my wife shouting. Her words are garble and it’s hard to pick out what she’s trying to say. She pulls at her hair and dress as she comes down the path.

‘What is it, Olive?’ I call.

She ignores me, trapped in a world of her own.

I go over and leaving the rake against the side of the house. She’s clearly in distress but there is no way she can tell me what’s wrong. It could be she believes she is in a different time and some moment there has triggered the upset.

I talk to her softly, calming her though she seems unaware of me, ‘it’s fine, whatever it is. I can help. You are okay. I’m here.’

I reach for her but she waves my hands away and carries on shouting out what seems to be just random words, ‘not here! Gone! Come back! Where is he? Don’t know what to do! Alex! Alex! Frog in the hallway. Frog, frog, frog! Gone! Gone!’

It’s hard when she gets like this. I want to get her back inside and sat down but she would fight me all the way and last time she pushed me down and I almost broke my arm. I know I’m too old to deal with her now and leaving her care to a specialist would be best. I can’t though. I can’t let her go….

I pick up a stray leaf and press it into her hands.

‘Look Olive, isn’t it pretty? Listen to the sound it makes,’ I say.

She crunches the leaf, tears it up and lets the bits fall from her hand. She stares in fascination.

I give her another and another. She crunches them in her fist and tosses the leaf pieces to the wind. They blow around in the breeze and she watches them go.

I take her hand and led her to the pile of raked up leaves.

‘Where is Alex?’ she asks.

‘At school, my love,’ I reply.

I can’t explain that he’s been dead for years because she won’t understand and though it hurts, it’s easier to lie.

‘School?’ she repeats as she picks up leaves and plays with them, ‘he never comes home. Never. I miss him….When will he come? When, when?’ she cries with desperation.

‘Soon, dear, soon,’ I reply gently, ‘come back inside now. It’s cold out here and you are not wearing a coat.’

I take her arm and guide her away. She starts muttering to herself again, words I can’t catch or understand.

Once inside, I get her in front of the TV, feet up and wrapped in a blanket. Her eyes are distant. She isn’t here, she’s off in the past, some place I might not remember or don’t want to recall.

I stay with her until she is settled enough to be left again. The news is on the TV but she’s not watching it but the sounds of the voices help her to feel not alone.

‘I’m going out again but I’ll be there if you need me. It’s getting dark and I want to finish,’ I say.

She says something which is lost on me.

I get up, go to the front door and on the mat is a crumbled brown leaf. I pick it up and take it outside, feeling a pain my heart that never goes.

Dead #3LineTales

three line tales, week 195: hands coming out of the ocean

She wasn’t dead though she was meant to be. Instead, she was crawling out of the sea he had tried to drown her in with revenge all ready on her mind.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2019/10/24/three-line-tales-week-195/ with thanks.)

Candle Light

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It was about two in the morning and Bell hadn’t been able to sleep. She had been reading a Gothic horror novel, lost within it’s pages and words. The candle by her bedside was low, the wax dripping away and the flame dropping.

Bell knew she should get a fresh candle but once out of the armchair and woollen blanket, it would be freezing. The fire in the wall next to her had long gone out and the chill from the autumn moor had crept into the house.

She looked at the candle and decided if she didn’t want to end up in the dark within a few minutes she had to move.

Placing the book down, she wrapped the blanket around her and got up. There was a candle by her bedside which she took and carefully lit the new wick from the dying candle. She blew out the first flame then took the new candle and her book to bed.

It was a grand four poster thing and she wasn’t use to sleeping in luxury. She had been brought up in a simple house with simple things. Her father had educated her which had helped Bell learn that her family had fallen on hard times. She couldn’t remember not being happy and her parents had tried to give her anything she needed.

The turn had come when she was fourteen. Her father, ill of health for years, passed. The money ran out. Her mother lost everything.

In the poorhouse, the beds had been straw. They had been surround by people making lots of noise for three years. You would think you couldn’t sleep in such a place but the twelve hours of work a day made you so exhausted that sleep came as a blessing.

Now, Bell was alone in this large room, in this huge house owned by a uncle of her father’s whom she had never known but had somehow found her. Bell was grateful to have been saved after her mother had become ill and died three months ago. It was the answer to her prayers.

Some nights though, she wished to be back with her mother on that floor. Comforted and loved. No longer feeling the loneliness and sadness that consumed her.

Bell got into bed. The sheets were cold against her. She opened her book again and began reading. Her concentration was broken and the chill was making her shake. Putting the book down again, she curled up and thought about trying to sleep.

There was a window across and the curtains were half drawn. She could see the night sky and the full moon. It was too dark to see the raising moorland that surround this house but she could picture the current barren landscape well enough.

The candle wick cracked and the flame flickering against the wall. There were too many shadows in this room for Bell’s liking. The words of the old maid came back to her and Bell remembered the warning of falling asleep with candles lit. That’s how the west wing burnt down.

Bell’s head turned towards the door as footsteps sounded in the hallway. The boards squeaked and a door handle rattled.

It was just her uncle or a servant, restless like herself and walking around the house.

A door opened, the loud creaking wail further broke the silence.

Bell felt a drift of air. The candle flame flickered violently and black smoke trailed up the wall. Bell sat up and looked towards her door.

It was wide open.

She clutched the sheets to her chest. Thoughts racing through her head; it’s just my uncle or servant checking on me because they saw the light. 

No figure seemed to fill the doorway and nothing else moved.

Bell couldn’t find the words to speak.

The candle went out.

Plunged into darkness, Bell let out a cry and threw the sheet over head. She curled up, fear driving everything. Her breathing was harsh in her ears so she didn’t hear the soft footsteps crossing the floor.

The bedding began to slip down, gathering on the floor.

Bell clung to what she could but the bedding began to drag her with it. She let it go and dug her nails into the woollen blanket still around her instead.

‘Who is there?’ Bell cried in a shaky voice.

There was a low whistling like wind through a gap. The dying candle came back to life. The glow of the yellow and orange flame so bright in the room.

‘What do you want?’ Bell shouted.

There was a hand by the flame. It first it seemed nothing more then a wisp of smoke from the candle but it grew and turned shape, became more solid and took the form of a figure.

Bell wanted to scream but couldn’t. She was stiff with fear and yet she couldn’t turn away from what was forming beside the candle flame. She had never seen a ghost before but this one was for sure.

It seemed to be a woman in a flowing dress like a shadow against the wall.

‘I can see you,’ Bell whispered, ‘do not hurt me.’

The ghost moved, gliding to the bed and Bell saw the features of a face. The eyes and mouth expressed sadness and longing with familiarity.

‘Mother?’ Bell breathed.

 

 

Boat Hole #CCC

They were all dead now.

I toss pebbles into the sea then at the boat. I make a game of trying to get stones through one of the many holes. The smaller the hole, the higher the points.

Boredom and tiredness kick in. I walk away towards the stream for a cooling drink and a wash. I cut down some coconuts, split them open and gnawed on the white insides.

I don’t want to be rescue. Being here’s the safest I’ve felt in a long time. If anybody did find me they wouldn’t understand.

I’m not myself anymore.

 

(Inspired by; https://crimsonprose.wordpress.com/2019/06/12/crimsons-creative-challenge-31/ with thanks).

Cast Away #FridayFictioneers

Washed up on the island, he had scratched the passage of days into the trunk of a palm tree. Today, there were forty-two lines.

Some of the shipwreck had washed up too and he had used these items to survive. He had hoped someone else might turn up but nobody alive had. The five bodies, he had buried under a marked tree, for recovery later.

The sound of a helicopter broke the air. He grabbed binoculars, a flare gun and climbed into a tree. He searched the sky and when the chopper grew closer, he fired the red signal.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/05/29/31-may-2019/ with thanks).

Burning River #WhatPegmanSaw

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The waters of the Ganges lapped at the edge of Varanasi city’s western bank. Fires rose on the burnt ground, the flames reflected in the river like the rays of the setting sun. The smell of burnt flesh, cloth and wood chocked the air making the mixed spice fragrances of the markets seem lost in the past.

From the distant boat, I watch men bring my relative’s body down to wash in the river. I wasn’t allowed to go because it was believed women make the event more sorrowful but I had want to see this ancient tradition.  

 

(Inspired by; https://whatpegmansaw.com/2019/05/25/varanasi-india/ with thanks).

Whelve #AtoZChallenge #FridayFictioneers

Whelve; to bury something deep, to hide.

It was time. I walked across the beach, wet with seaweed as the tide was coming in. Bringing my dad’s ashes back here was fitting. We had loved this beach as a family and there was special rock we had all ways sat on.

It was there I dug a deep, deep hole and hide him under the sand. I could have just thrown the ashes into the sea but I couldn’t let go that easily. At least here, I knew where he was.

Patting the sand back into place, I let the tears fall.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/04/24/26-april-2019/ with thanks).

Dustsceawung #atozchallenge

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Dustsceawung; contemplation of the dust. Reflection on former civilizations and peoples on the knowledge that all things will turn to dust.

I dreamed again last night. Everything was gone. Dust storms blew through empty buildings and burnt out cars. The wind howling like a dying animal, the sound amplified.

I walked, face wrapped in a scarf. There was a children’s playground. A skeleton against the wire fence. Didn’t like real. Reminded me of models in classrooms. The skeleton had yellowed bones. Fingers curled around holes in the wire fence. Empty eye sockets staring. Mouth open in scream.

Instantly, the skeleton crumpled. Dust at my feet which the wind blew away from me. Crying out, I ran away. Tripped and fell. Dust in my eyes, nose and mouth. Dust suffocating me! Wind deafening me. Gone. Gone. Gone.

We are all dust. We come from dust and we return to dust.

Thus, the circle goes on forever.

 

(Join in the challenge here; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

Cotton #FridayFictioneers

The cotton mills of Manchester, England, had once been a chaos of noise, sights and smells. The machines had roared, drowning everything else out and making the workers deaf. Dust and chemicals had rose thickly, settling into workers lungs and slowly suffocating them. Accidents and deaths were a daily occurrence. Thus, was the price the poor paid to try and survive.

Now, the great mills that had been the body of Manchester were silent. They stood rotting or demolished, an empty tomb in memory of those poor souls who had worked themselves to death.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/03/27/29-march-2019/ with thanks).