Tsundoku #atozchallenge

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Tsundoku; buying books and not reading them then allowing unread books to pile up together.

I entered my granddad’s house and my heart filled with panic. I was surrounded by piles and piles of books. They reached from floor to ceiling and were stacked everywhere. Narrow passageways lead to each room and you had to sideways step through. I held my breath as I squeezed down the hallway into the living room.

Four walls of books met my eyes. They must have been stacked three or four deep! In the centre was an old, comfy armchair and a reading lamp, but that was all the furniture there. I looked around, titles and book spines flashing before me.

Maybe further inside the house wouldn’t be as bad?

I was wrong! There were books filling the kitchen, the bedroom and the bathroom. It was as if a large library had been packed into a two down to up terrace house, only someone hadn’t realised there wasn’t enough space.

What was I going to do with it all?

I sank on to the armchair and looked around. My head began to come up with ideas; from the simple – getting a skip- to the more extreme – opening my own bookshop or library.

I knew my granddad had been a hoarder of books, but I could never have imagined this.

Logophile #atozchallenge

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Logophile; a lover of words.

He loved words. They were his passion, life, work and ultimately his untimely death.

Dear Diary #22 : Absquatulate (Part 1) #atozchallenge

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Absquatulate; to leave without saying goodbye. 

Dear Diary,

I need to leave. It’s not a question any more it’s the only way. If I don’t leave, I’m going to do something final…

I don’t think anyone want’s that, but what else can I do?

My parents just haven’t gotten over my baby brother’s death. My mother is still spending most of her time in bed. My father waiting on her and sulking off to work when he must. They are shadows of themselves.

And me? I’m more then a shadow. I’m invisible.

I’ve tried everything I can think of and more, but none of the attention seeking or cries for help methods worked. It’s like I’m dead to them too.

That’s why I’ve to get out. I’m going to leave first thing tomorrow. Everything I want is all ready packed and I’ve a plan. I’m going to take mum’s car and drive to my new apartment on the other side of the city. I’ll be still close enough to work that way. Then I can clear my head and figure out if I’m going to move further away or out of the country.

I’m not even going to bother to say goodbye to my parents. I bet they won’t even notice I’m gone.

The Gold Family

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I woke up suddenly from a collection of bad thoughts that had leaked into my mind. The pale peach ceiling which I had always hated, met my eyes and my nose was so close to it. Realising this, I had drifted upwards again, I rolled over and floated back down.

Hovering above the bed, I tried to make my floating form conform to the curled up position I had always liked to be in. I couldn’t feel the blankets or pillows under me, yet with a lot of contraction, I could move them around with my energy.

Settling as best I could, I looked across at my husband, he was resting soundlessly. I wondered what he was thinking about. Listening, I couldn’t hear the children, so I guess they were resting too. The blinds were down on the windows so I couldn’t see what it was like outside. There was a clock on the bedside table, but I disliked looking at it. Time was meaningless.

However, we couldn’t do much in the daytime. An energy reversal seemed to have happened. Once we had gotten energy from sleep, food and the sun, now we could only get energy from darkness and live animals. Though there wasn’t a lot we could do with the energy. Yes, we could move things and make noises, but I couldn’t clean or leave the house!

I don’t know how we’d all ended up like this to be honest. Maybe, it was a curse or punishment? I didn’t like to spend a lot of time thinking about it. Instead, I tried to carry on as normal, even though that was impossible, but still we had to keep going somehow.

My husband stirred then sat up. He drifted to the bathroom and I listened to him swearing as he remembered he couldn’t do anything.

I got up and tried to straighten the bed though it was in vain. In the background, the children’s voices could be heard and the sound of the clockwork lullaby played. The floor creaked with their footsteps and laughter drifted down the hall. They went downstairs and tested their energy on whatever they could.

Some nights we were stronger and other nights we were weaker. The oldest child had been keeping a record of this, but it she’d long forgotten it now. I heard them turning on and off the TV and radio. There was also the flicking of the hallway light switch and the ping of the microwave. All sounds that had once filled our house and been so normal to us all.

My husband came back in and defeated, lay on the bed again.

‘What will happen when a new family move in?’ I asked.

‘I don’t know,’ he sighed, ‘maybe they won’t.’

‘Someone’s bound to!’ I cried.

He mumbled something and curled up tighter into a ball.

Grumpily, I left him to it and want down to join the children. They were in the living room, messing with the TV. I drifted on to the sofa and watched then turning the channels. They were exhausted soon enough and settled around me to watch cartoons.

I couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen when someone brought the house. Surely someone knew what had happened to us. What if they didn’t though? I tried not to think about that. It didn’t make sense, someone – a family member, friend or neighbour had sorted things out now. Too much time had passed for it not too.

The children went outside to play. Though it was very little play, just the moving of a ball back and forth and the rocking of the swing set. I watched them from the kitchen window, just like I use to. Then I went up to see my husband. He was still as I had left him.

‘Why don’t you go outside and play with the kids?’ I suggested.

He uttered something, then got up and drifted through the floor as if it wasn’t there.

I potted around the bedroom, touching things I had once loved; jewellery, books, dresses, DVDs. Things I missed so much and never really taken for granted. I sighed and looked out of the window. I couldn’t see anything. Just the blackness that seemed to have engulfed us.

I knew it was going to happen one day. It happens to us all, I just didn’t expect it to be like this.

Empty Swing

There was one swing in the playground that no one ever sat on. Sometimes flowers, teddy bears and cards decorated the swing then were gone. Despite all the stories, one stood out the most; a little girl fell off the swing to her death. But no one knew the truth for sure.

Spring

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It was the first time Shell had been outside since early autumn. Strangely, everything looked the same; there were leaves on the ground, the trees were bare and clear water was still running in the man made stream. The air felt cold and wet, yet fragranced  with freshness.

Shell breathed in, held it then on release heard the crackling of a cough in her lungs. She tried to hide it, but the cough burst from her like popped ball. She clutched her chest, feeling the tightness growing. She bent over, unable to do anything other then let the coughing fit hack through her body.

Flopping down on the wet grass, her simple dress collecting about her, Shell rubbed her chest and tried hard to catch her breath. She glanced back at the remains of a castle. The light grey stone walls and roofs rose above the brown branches of the tree tops. She had been trying to get there but defeat was creeping in.

Pushing herself up, she went towards the stream and sat down by it. Even though Shell knew the water would be freezing, she scooped up handfuls and drink deeply. There was a few minutes of peace and then another cough tickled up her throat. Giving in to it, she let this cough out.

It was worse then the one before and tears started in her eyes. Sniffing, she wiped her face and made herself look dignified again. Struggling to her feet, Shell walked back though the woods. Glad no one had seen her.

Slipping inside the cottage’s back door, she went up the two flights of stairs and into her attic bedroom. Shell sank down on to the bed and looked around. Someone – her old handmaid probably- had cleaned the room she had just spent the last four months almost dying in.

The windows were open, letting in the early spring air and there was a vase of just budding flowers on the window sill. The bedding had been changed, the floors scrubbed and the fire place clean. There was nothing to say the place had almost been a death chamber.

Shell turned to the window. She couldn’t see the castle from here, but she could feel it. Her home was always close in her mind. She sighed and didn’t let the memories build up. It was time to bury them, just like she had her parents and grandparents.

There was a knock at the door, but before Shell could call out the door opened. Her handmaid walked in carrying armfuls of clothes. the woman was short, busty and getting in late age.

‘Oh! You have returned. I’m sorry. I’ve just brought you some new dresses. Would you like to see them, your highness?’ the maid spoke.

Shell shook her head and let the woman put the clothes away in a roughly made wardrobe.

‘Did you make it to the castle?’

‘No,’ Shell replied.

‘Another day then. Shall I bring you some tea and cake?’ the maid asked.

Shall paused and patted her chest, feeling another cough building, she squeezed out a ‘yes, please.’ Then coughed loudly. she tried to make it seem like she was only clearing her throat, but they both knew better.

With a little bob, the maid left and Shell spent a few moments catching her breath. After, she got up and went to the window. Letting her thoughts roam, she thought about all the times she had dreamed of being Queen and now she really was, she didn’t want it.

 

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/03/02/thursday-photo-prompt-spring-writephoto)

Untimely Death

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We had been gathered around the new grave in silence for sometime when granny spoke out, ‘well it was a stupid thing to do.’

We all looked over at her, a few of us even gasping.

‘Granny!’ Isabella scolded and squeezed the old woman’s hand.

Great grandmother and great granddaughter looked at it each other then joined us in silence once more.

Slowly, people began to drift away as they do when a funeral is over. Their whispering voices commenting on the flowers and service drifting across the cemetery.

I looked down at my older sister’s grave. It was but a hole in the ground with the edges of a pink coffin peeking through the dirt and no headstone to name her yet.

Granny had been right though. My sister should never have trusted that flashy magician or his Amazing Invisible Sword trick.

The Repeating Dark

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Most people don’t really know they are dreaming. They just wake up realise they’ve had a dream and then get on with their day. Me though, I always know when I’m dreaming. I guess it’s because for years I’ve had the same dream. I’ve never really told anyone about it fully. When I was younger, I told my parents a few times about it but they just said it was a nightmare and it would go away.

The dream never has though.

So why now do I want to share it with you? I guess it’s because we know that by the time you read this I’ll be dead. So, it really won’t matter anymore. I’m worried though that this dream won’t die with me and it might get passed on to you. So, I thought I better write everything down and if the dream ever does come for you then you’d be more prepared and maybe do what I could never figure out; break the cycle.

The dream is the same all the time. Nothing, not even the tiniest detail changes nor does the events. I’ve tried many times to change something, but it has never worked. Also, I’ve never found a pattern for the occurrences. Nothing seems to bring them on or makes them stay away for long. The dream seems like a ghost; appearing and disappearing when it wants to.

The dream begins when you wake up in a dark room. For a few moments, you think you really have awoken and it’s the middle of the night. Then though you began to see things and the realisation that this is not your room dawns. You see a table, an empty bookcase, a tall leather armchair and a window.

As you began moving around, you’ll notice other things; the smell of flowers even though there’s none in the room, the breeze of fresh air though the window isn’t open and there seems to be no door. Soft sounds that you are not sure what they are; voices whispering maybe? Faint footsteps, the patter of animal paws. You feel the furniture, it’s solid and cold.

You study the bookcase and see that it’s not actually empty. There is a book in the bottom corner. Pulling it out, the book is thin and black, you open the pages and see a language that is beyond you. The letters seem to move across the page, twisting and transforming, but still you can’t read them. You put the book back.

Unsure what to do, you go to the window and look out. There is no curtain or netting and the window is sealed. No matter what angle and how far you look, you can never see out of the window. A blackness masks the glass, leaving you no hint of where you are.

You can continue to inspect the room, but you’ll find nothing else. Time might then began to pass but sometimes he appears quickly. Once again, I have found no pattern to his appearance. Sometimes you feel you’ve been waiting mere moments, other times it’s hours or days trapped within that room.

The man always appears though. He seems to come from the window, shifting out of the darkness. Taking the form of a shadow at first, but then becoming more solid. He is a dark man; black from toe tips to the fine strands of hair. Backed by the window as he always is, you can never make out any of his features and often he seems to be one with the darkness.

You can try talking to him, but he’ll never answer back. For years, I have questioned him, but not once has he uttered a word. Perhaps, things might be different for you and maybe he will break his vow of silence. I have also tried different things; standing or hiding in different places, giving him the book etc. But nothing works.

Then he holds his hand out and waits for you to take it. I’ve tried not to. I have fought hard to ignore him and often I have stood facing a corner with my back to him. No matter what, somehow my hand always ends up in his! Then his hand closes on mine, holding it tightly and I feel a strange coolness.

He begins to fade back through the glass slowly. You can’t take your hand out of his. I’ve tried but found no solution. He vanishes totally and you see your hand has gone to and the darkness is creeping up your arm. Even if you panic and scream, nothing can be done. The fear is so over-welling that you get dragged down with it.

Then you are surrounded by total blackness and nothing else can be done.

When you awake because despite everything you always do, the dream will seem gone but it never really does. It lingers at the back of your mind and you’ll catch yourself questioning the dream though you might have been thinking of something else. Nothing will resolve though and the memory of the dream will stay with you like a scar.

I really hope that you don’t have it. I hope it dies with me. But since I can’t be sure, I hope you can find some comfort in this letter and know that you weren’t alone.

The Reaper Cometh

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Going out in a hail of bullets and under the wheels of the ten ton lorry was the only way to go. Well, I didn’t have any other choices really because there was no way I was going to jail. The murders they had pinned to me would have meant total life imprisonment and that wasn’t an option.

Committing suicide had also not been an option up until that point, to be honest. I don’t know, maybe, I was thinking I’d dodge the bullets or they’d hit non-important places and that I’d just avoid the lorry’s wheels like they do in the movies. But nope, my number was up.

Once the heavy crushing pain had faded and blackness had come I knew it was the end. When I next opened my eyes, I was standing at the side of the motorway, looking across at the scene. There were flashing red and blue lights everywhere and the sirens were so loud that they blocked the rushing traffic. Though of course, most of the cars were stopping now and people were taking in what had happened.

Police swarmed the scene; searching my fancy BMW, whilst others blocked the view of my body wedged under the lorry. The driver of which was hushed off to one side into a police car like a sleeping baby. The police officers’ whispered voices came to me; is he really dead? The serial killer? The one the papers nicknamed The Red Shadow? He killed ten people we know of, but there maybe hundreds more. Yes, he’s dead. You can see that, can’t you?

I turned away, wondering what to do. Surely a pit to Hell would open up underneath me? I’d be sucked down and spend all eternity being tortured by demons. But I didn’t believe in that.

To the left of me, I saw a black shape peeling itself away from the trees. Ah, the grim reaper coming to claim my soul!

‘Wait….What are you?’ I spoke, the words tumbling from my mouth before I could stop them.

‘I am your reaper, deary,’ replied a sweet old granny’s voice.

Stunned, I just stared. There before me was a small old woman- eighty or ninety odd-she had a hunched back and skin was as wrinkly and folded as one of those weird dogs. She was dressed in a long flowery pink dress, pink handmade cardie and was holding a large blue handbag. Her hair was dyed a strange blue color and she had large glasses perched on the end of her nose.

‘When you are ready, if you’d like to follow me, sweetie,’ she spoke out, ‘you just take as long as you need, okay? No rush.’

I glanced back at the scene behind me. Cars were parked up now and an ambulance had just pulled off the hard shoulder and was trying to get in close so they could collect my body without the public seeing. Police were all ready trying to stop people from coming over.

‘Oh, I think I got some peppermints here. Somewhere,’ the granny said and began searching in her handbag.

‘No, it’s fine,’ I said, ‘who are you really?’

She looked up at me, hand still in her bag, ‘I’m your reaper, deary, come to take you to the other side.’

‘But…I was expecting demons! Devils! A black cloaked skeleton! Black, fire wings!’ I cried.

The old woman chuckled, ‘everyone believes that, but no. We take a different form every time. Everyone is different you know and often they need to be handled differently too.’

‘Do you know who I am?’ I spit.

‘Were. Sweetheart. Who were you?’ she asked then, ‘oh, here are the mints. Care for one? Go on take a handful.’

‘No,’ I stated as I waved my hands and stepped back, when she held out a pink and white stripped paper bag towards me.

‘Not a fan of mints, huh?’ she added with a wink, ‘I got something else in here for you then…’

‘I don’t want anything! Just, let’s go!’ I yelled.

‘Now, now, don’t get upset. I’ll fix it. There now,’ she said and held up a tube of my favorite childhood sweets; lemon sherbet.

She pressed it into my hand, a large smile on her face.

I looked at it in shock then opening the lid, I tossed the white power into my mouth. It tasted just as I remembered; sour and sweet, fizzy and lemony.

‘All better? I knew that would help, petal,’ she said.

I nodded, feeling for the first time in years the sensation of tears in the corner of my eyes.

‘Are you ready to go?’ granny asked.

‘Yes,’ I mumbled out.

She held out a hand which was more like the gnarled, dry root of a dead oak tree.

I took it, feeling no heat or coldness against my own hand.

With her other hand, she patted the top of mine, ‘there, there, deary. It’s all okay now.’

‘So…no demons? No Hell?’

‘Stories!’ she laughed, ‘to scare people. There is no Hell or Heaven. Just the sky.’

I looked up and saw above me the darkening sky.

We started raising towards it. Leaving everything behind. The air rushed around me and as we met the sky, I savored the last taste of sherbet on my tongue.

 

Flames

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The flames grew, becoming brighter and warmer. Shepard shivered and huddled closer to the fire. Outside, the rain was really coming down now and the wind was hitting the countryside with force. The old, abandoned farmhouse rattled and creaked around him. Strangely though, he found comfort in all the noise.

Finally, shedding out of his soaking clothes, Shepard hung his things on the drying rack. Despite everything, most of the furniture had survived and the house appeared close enough to his memories. He hated that though as it made everything come into sharper focus.

Sitting in his underpants, he feed the fire some more wood and watched the flames. Even though he tried hard not to think about it, the memories swelled like an incoming sea. How many times had he sit by this fireplace as a boy? Too many.

Shepard shivered again, but not because he was cold. The flood gates had opened and for a few moments he was transported into the past.

Shadows danced across the wall in the farmhouse’s living room. The flames of the fire, the only light source in the room was unable to fight the shadows off. However, nothing seemed to be bothering the little boy and smaller girl who were playing with a hand carved Noah’s Arc set. They laughed as they lined the animals up two by two and made them all enter the big wooden boat.

Then though from the kitchen came sounds of raised voices. The children stopped, falling silent to listen. The voices grew, though they couldn’t make the muffled words out. A thumping as skin connected with skin rang out and the voices stopped.

The girl began to cry. Her older brother held her close but not to comfort her. It was to quieten her sobs, so they would avoid getting beaten too.

Shepard shook his head and brought himself out of his past. Grumbling, the urge to leave again grew, but he fought it away.

‘It’s only an old house,’ he uttered, ‘nothing here now.’

He felt his drying clothes. They were too wet still to put back on. He tossed more wood onto the fire, not caring that the stack was getting low. If needed there were other things he could burn.

He glanced around and spotted a knitted patchwork blanket draped on the sofa. Getting up, he shuffled across the floor and tugged it off. Wrapping the blanket over his shoulders, he took a deep breath and smelt dust. Pushing the edge of the blanket into his nose, he sniffed the wool, but couldn’t smell anything else.

Shepard saw a flash of his mother. She was sit on the sofa, knitting a blanket which humped over her big belly containing his then unborn sister. Her hair was dark and she was wearing a brown dress and slippers. Her face and arms were covered in old and new bruises. She was humming something as her needles clacked together then she was gone, back into the shadows of the past.

‘Don’t think about,’ Shepard whispered.

He stared hard into the flames, hoping they would burn the memories away.

It was too late though and just like the opening of Pandora’s box everything escaped.

Shepard sucked in a deep breath as imagines, thoughts and feelings tumbled by. Thankfully, he soon arrived at the last memory he had of the farmhouse. He saw himself, a young teenager sat in his mother’s bedroom. She was gone, fled in the night just as she had often threatened under her breath.

He looked out of the window and saw the little cross that marked his sister’s grave in the back garden. She had only been seven. He had dug that small hole himself only a few days ago whilst his sobbing mother had clung to the dirty sheet wrapped body. He had wanted to kill his father then but his mother held him back. Now though, there was nothing stopping him…

Shepard let it all go with a shaky exhale. Just the thought of all that blood again made him feel sick. He reached for his clothes and even though they were damp, he put them on. Gathering his things, he got up and after a few moments of debate tossed the knitted blanket away.

Holding onto the warm of the fire, he walked out of the farmhouse and back into the storm. It was better, he decided, to be out here then inside with all those ghosts.

 

(Inspired by a prompt at; https://scvincent.com/2017/02/09/thursday-photo-prompt-flame-writephoto/)