Empty Chair

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Old Max had for many years sat in the chair outside his front door and watched the world go by. He waved to people he knew and yelled at the kids who played too loudly.

He had a dog called Bill, who loved to bark and charge at passersby.  Old Max would laugh and just say he was playing as Bill bit someone’s leg or tore someone’s coat. When Bill became too old to chase, He would sleep at Max’s feet and growl in his dreams.

Bill passed away and the loss made old Max angry and grumpy then before. Max ran after the children in the neighbourhood and took away their balls and other toys. Parents would go over to take to him but Max was close the door in the faces.

For a few months, Max was seen to yell at no one and people said he was crazy. There was little anybody could do though but tell each other to stay away from the old man who seemed to be working his way through something.

It wasn’t until winter fell that Max stayed inside and the children rejoiced in their outside playtime. From his windows, he watched them and grumbled at their fun. What so delighted them about the cold snow and icy pathways? Max thought he could dimly recall from his own youth but it had been so long ago and his memories were full of holes.

Old Max went to bed on night soon after Christmas day and didn’t get up again.

For years, his chair sat empty on his doorstep weathering away until final the house was able to be sold and be brought back to life again.

Trying to Juggle

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Working from home sounded great but in reality it was horrible. The kids always wanted something then the dog wanted something, then the wife was yelling at the kids or the dog of just in general.

Having a meeting was like dealing doing a deal with the devil. I was tried of telling people to un-mute themselves or turn there sound out or was that a fire happening in their background?

I just wanted a few minutes peace to write this report. My children stuck stickers to my back, I ran the dog’s paw over with my chair and my wife was asking what time I’d finished work because it was my turn to cook tonight.

The house was always a mess, the children kept moving my things and I just wanted my nice clean office back!

Right, enough is enough! I’m going to empty the shed and turned that into a office. I could lock the door and be at peace in there. I could carry my briefcase across the garden each morning and pretend I was going into work. I could get a radio and a coffee machine….

Yes, that’s what I needed, an office away from office.

Gaberlunzie #AtoZChallenge

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Gaberlunzie – a beggar

He was there everyday on the streets with his old dog. He would hold out a hat or a cup and press his head to the floor. He was ashamed. He didn’t want to beg, he didn’t want to be homeless but somehow he had ended up trying to survive like this.

I finally stopped, one April afternoon and decided as if an angel had called upon me to do this good deed. I touched his shoulder softly and met the deep sad eyes of his dog’s.

‘Come with me,’ I said gently, ‘let me help you.’

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

Pill Box #CCC

Someone had painted the pill box on the beach again. I signed and let my dog, Teddy, sniff one of the corners. At least the “art work” didn’t look that bad this time but still, some respected might have been nice.

Once a solider would have sat inside, his only light coming through the gun slit and he would have had to watch the shore for signs of the enemy. A boring job, maybe but a crucial one to slow the enemy down when they landed.

I tugged Teddy’s lead and told him, ‘we’ll have to go back to get the whitewash again.’

 

(Inspired by; https://crispinakemp.com/2020/03/18/crimsons-creative-challenge-71/ with thanks).

 

 

Beau #FFftPP

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Beau stolen my heart. I wasn’t looking for a pet when I met him. I was driving home after the death of my beloved uncle and Beau was eating a dead rabbit on the road side.

I took him to an animal centre and hoped his family would come. Nobody did and Beau was put up for adoption but he had problems. I connected the shelter for an update and learnt that, so I decided to rescue him again.

Saving Beau sealed our fate together.

 

(Inspired by; https://flashfictionforthepracticalpractitioner.wordpress.com/2020/02/12/flash-fiction-for-the-purposeful-practitioner-2020-week-07/ with thanks).

Wild Day #FridayFictioneers

Dog ownership demanded I faced all kinds of weather. Today, I really didn’t want to. I looked at my greyhound, Apollo, he too was watching the snow tumbling down and wind shake the wooden staircase and pine trees.

‘We’ve been out in worse,’ I spoke.

The snow was blinding and soon I lost sight of Apollo. I shouted him but the wind blocked me, I started a mad search but the snow was too bad.

With frozen tears on my face, I returned and found Apollo shivering by the front door.

‘Good dog! You found your way home!’ I cried and let us both safely inside.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2020/02/12/14-february-2020/ with thanks).

Storm Ciara

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When the news said there was an amber weather warning, I knew that Ciara wasn’t going to be friendly. She was coming over from America with the full force of a winter storm. At least, the British weather wasn’t as bad as the USA.

Ciara woke me up on Sunday morning by driving hailstone on to my window. I heaved the winter duvet and my massive Great Dane, King, off me and looked out of the window. The wind was fifty to sixty miles per hour, everything was moving violently and the surrounding bare trees were really showing how strong the wind was. Rain thundered down and the wind whipped the water into a frenzy.

I got up and sorted for the day. My bachelor mind doing it’s normal voice off about how nice it was not to have a wife or kids being noisy but also how worrying it was not to have those things.

Letting King out into the garden, the wind blew ice into my face and I was grateful that within a minute King was back inside. I dried him off, wondering how he could be so wet!

King sulked off to his massive dog bed in the converted dinning room. Dispite him being a huge dog – he came up passed my hip and I was six foot two, he could easily rest his head on tables too – King hated the cold and wet weather.

Getting a large mug of coffee and some toast, I went to my study and began working on my different writing tasks. I had a novel to complete, creative writing lectures to plan, students’ essays to mark and journal articles to finish. It might have been a Sunday but writers and teachers never stop.

Storm Ciara erupted throughout the whole day. She hit against the windows desperate to get in. She threw out everything she had; wind, hail, snow, rain, thunder and lightening. I glanced up often from my work and watched the storm from the small window.

King joined me at some point, he put his dark grey head into my lap then curled up tight under the desk. When the thunder started, he yowled and only hugs and comforting words soothed him.

I tried to take him out at lunchtime but a quick trot to the park entrance at the end of my street was it. Storm Ciara was still bad in the afternoon and darkness came early. I took King out again and we embraced the gusty wind and drenching rain together. I tugged him along, trying to convince him that a longer walk was what we were going on.

The trees above swayed violently and the branches cracked. Deep, long stretching pools of water were either covering the grass or the pathways of the park. As we passed the children’s playground, a creeping feeling crawled along my skin. The swings, roundabout and the rocking animals were moving because of the wind but for some reason I thought of ghost children at play.

The wind was whistling through the climbing frame, slide and other things, making ghastly sounds. Rain was dripping off everything and it was all so eerie, almost abandoned looking.

We hurried home and once safe inside, I got use both into a hot shower. King sit, drinking the shower spray and I enjoyed the warmth spreading on my icy skin. After, I got the fire in the living room going and feed King. I just had some soup then we both sat by the fire, watching TV.

‘What is it, King?’ I asked as he raised his head and whined.

Then I heard it, the monstrous groaning and cracking of a tree. There was almighty snap, crunch of metal and shattering of glass. I felt a tremor running through the house and King threw back his head and howled.

I rushed to the window and saw a tree had come down across the street and was laying across a number of cars.

There were bits of tree and car scattered across the road. The wind was picking up the lighter things and blowing them away. Doors of the houses opposite opened and people stepped out. I couldn’t hear them but I could see the shock on their faces and in their body language.

King pushed me out of the way and looked out of the window too. We stayed there for awhile. Watching the crowds of neighbours gather and soon a fire engine arrived. No body had been hurt but some of the cars were write offs for sure.

‘There’s not much we can do,’ I said to King, ‘looks like everything’s under control. It’s snowing again. Let’s go back to the fire.’

Settling down again, King sprawled across the sofa and myself. His head and front legs on my lap, pinning me down. I felt safe like that, even though King was a rubbish guard dog. I guess just having a massive dog and his heavy weight on me was enough comfort as storm Ciara raged outside.

 

(Inspired by current events; https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/02/11/storm-ciara-commuters-warned-snow-ice-across-parts-britain/)

Sea Mist #FFftPP

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Cati looked for a place to sit. A soft, almost invisible drizzle was falling, masked by mist that hung above the sea and cliffs. From up here, the view was like a window onto nature.

Cati rested on a rough rock. She was wearing waterproofs and covered in beads of water. She took off the hiking bag and searched for her thermal of tea and packet of trail mix.

Having heard rustling, Teddy, a Bernese mountain dog, appeared. He was big, fluffy with a tricolour coat and looked like his name. He loved exploring and walking as much as Cati did which made them best friends.

Cati give Teddy some dried chicken and poured him a bowl of water. Then, she drank tea and ate her snack. Wondering if she should make camp early, Cati packed up. The weather didn’t seem to be clearing and cliffs, like mountains, shouldn’t be walked at night.

‘Let’s go,’ Cati said and rubbed Teddy’s head.

They continued hiking; Cati looking for a sheltered spot and Teddy tracking rabbits. Soon, she found a place under tall pine trees and the sea, rain and a campfire became the background to their evening.

 

(Inspired by; https://flashfictionforthepracticalpractitioner.wordpress.com/2020/01/24/flash-fiction-for-the-purposeful-practitioner-2020-week-04/ with thanks).

 

Flint #CCC

We took our normal boxing day family walk on the beach and thankfully it wasn’t raining. The sky was cloud covered, the wind blustery and spraying sea water at us. We were huddled in coats and boots, not looking like we were enjoying things expect for Banshee the dog.

‘Grandfather! Look at this!’ Tod’s voice called above the crashing waves.

He came over with a large triangle shape of shinny rock.

‘It’s a Neolithic arrow head! A great find!’ my dad said.

‘And there’s more over there!’

We went over and discovered a treasure hoard washed up on the beach.

 

(Inspired by; https://crispinakemp.com/2019/12/18/crimsons-creative-challenge-58/ with thanks).

 

 

Angel #WritePhoto

It was a horrible winter afternoon, close to Christmas eve and the rain was just coming down as if a flood gate had opened. The wind was lashing the rain like the snapping of a whip against the windows and the sky above was a dark stormy grey full of bleakness.

I should have been at work in an noisy office of people’s voices, telephones ringing, keyboards typing and Christmas music playing on the radio. Instead, I had phoned in sick but not for myself for my dog.

Pip had eaten something that disagreed with her and she had spent the night with stomach bug symptoms. Whatever it was, she had gotten rid of but she was exhausted and I was on standby to take her to the vets at any second.

She was old now but still a stocky staffy and she would play with soft toys and gnaw on small chews when the mood took her. Pip preferred the sofa over her bed and liked cuddling up me.

I was wrapping presents and watching Christmas movies, just passing the time. I heard a tapping on the door and thought it must be another delivery man. Getting up, scattering wrapping paper and bows, I went to the door and found someone standing in the hallway.

The figure was white, blurred and shinning at the edges. I thought it was a ghost but then I noticed the white feather wings coming out of the back and the golden halo above the head. There was no doubt this was an angel.

‘Hello?’ I said timidly.

No voice replied but the figure became more solid and I saw it was a man in a flowing white robe that fluttered as if a constant breeze was about him. He had long, curls of golden hair, not a strand of which was out of place. His face was soft and colourless, he had blue eyes, no facial hair, a long roman nose and a wide forehead. No wrinkles touched his white glowing skin and his hands that were by his side liked like a marble statue’s.

‘Please, don’t have come for my dog!’ I cried and rushed back into the living room.

Patch was still dozing on the sofa. I sat down and hugged her, feeling tears sting my eyes. It was the wrong time of year to lose anybody and I didn’t want to let my dog go.

I heard the soft movement of feathers brushing together and though I hadn’t heard anything else, I knew the angel had come into the room. I didn’t look up. I didn’t want too. If I didn’t see then maybe the angel wasn’t there, perhaps he would just go away.

‘I have not come to take anything,’ a soft male voice spoke.

‘Then what?’ I asked, my voice muffled as my face was pressed in the Pip’s short brown fur.

‘Just, I wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas.’

I raised my head and looked over. The angel was standing just inside the doorway, taking up a lot of space. He must have been close to seven feet tall and though his wings were folded and dropped down, they framed his large body like open car doors. The feathers reminded me of a swan’s, though they were bigger and whiter, unreal looking and yet I had the sense they would be soft and his wings more then capable of lifting him in flight.

He seemed uncomfortable in my small house and he wasn’t looking at me but at the Nativity scene on the windowsill. The figures were all pot and hand painted, they were old and looked a bit bashed but I had never replace them. On either side were metal and a glass lanterns, that I had lit with tealight candles.

I didn’t know how to reply to him. I had thought for sure he was here to carry my dog’s soul away.

He looked at the Christmas tree, admired the lights and decorations upon it. He appeared tempted to touch one of the wooden angels but kept his hands still. His head turned and the angel took in my dog and myself for the first time. I was still holding Pip tightly, not fully believing he hadn’t come for her.

Then the angel turned and walked away silently.

‘Wait!’ I cried, ‘that’s it? That’s all you wanted?’

I got up and followed after him. Pip trailed behind me, tail wagging.

The angel turned in the hallway, ‘yes,’ he said.

‘No, message from God? No, you’re going to give born the next Saviour?’

The angel give a slight frown and shook his head. He began to fade, the edges of his robe, wings and body blurred and shone brightly just like before.

‘Just, Merry Christmas?’

‘That is all,’ he spoke.

I looked down at Pip then back to the angel, he was becoming more faded.

‘Well, then, thanks, I guess and to you too.’

He nodded and was gone.

‘That was weird,’ I said aloud.

Pip walked to the door and starting barking to go out.

Still puzzled and not sure if what I had just experienced was real or not, I got ready to take my dog for a walk.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/12/19/thursday-photo-prompt-angel-writephoto/ with thanks).