Cat Life

Black and White Cat in a Tree

In the mornings, he would sit in the tree and watch the village. At lunchtime he would come down, visit three houses for lunch then curl up somewhere warm and quiet for the afternoon. In the evenings, he strolled around till late then mewed at doors till someone let him in.

 

(Story inspired from: https://first50.wordpress.com)

 

 

Ghostly Secrets (Part 4)

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Annabelle stopped then pulled the curling envelope out of the jewelry box. She turned it over and looked for anything written on it or a seal, but there was nothing. She placed the rest of the jewelry back in and opened the envelope, her heart fluttered as she did so, but before she could stop her moving hands, the piece of paper was out and before her eyes.

She read it slowly and the words began to weigh heavy in her mind. It was strange, but even before she saw the name at the end, she knew her mother had written it. She re-read the letter and though it was not addressed to anyone, perhaps her mother had wrote it for her.

A noise and voices outside in the corridor drew her attention and Annabelle folded the letter back up, tucked it in the envelope then placed it up her long sleeve. She blew out all the candles but the one she had brought with her then slipped through the hidden door and blew out the candles in the library. Going into the bedchamber, she paused because the door into the hallway was half open.

She backed up, shielding the light of her candle away.

‘What were you doing in there, girl?’ a sharp man’s voice that Annabelle recognised as the butler’s asked.

‘Nothing, sir,’ Annabelle’s maid squeaked back, ‘There was a cat, you see and I was chasing it away and then I saw the door was open and thought it had gone in, but it had not. I am sorry, sir.’

‘The door was open?’ the butler mutter before raising his voice again, ‘that’ll be all. Get yourself back in the kitchen, girl! And I never want to see you in this part of the house again or I’ll have you removed. Do you understand?’

‘Yes, sir, right away, sir.’

Annabelle heard the running of feet then the door banging too and the clicking of a lock. She held her breath and kept pressed against the door frame. Her body was shaking and heart was beating so loud she was sure someone would hear it. After a few moments, she heard heavier footsteps walking away and she let her breath out. Still though she did not move and she counted a minute before entering carefully into the bedchamber.

She had removed all the candles before, so only the one in her hands offered any light. Annabelle found her way to the door and tried the handle. She pulled the door, but it would not moved. Panicking, she tugged the handle harder, but the door was clearly locked and not moving.

She opened her mouth and cried out then shouted for help. Annabelle listened but heard nothing. She paced before the door, her skirts swishing around her and she tried stay calm. Finally, she decided to relight the other candles and place them around her.

With more light, she could see the bedchamber better. The bed clothes and hangings were musty and she avoided touching them so there was no further rising of dust. She went back to the desk and sat down at the chair. She took the envelope from her sleeve and rubbed it against her fingers.

Opening it again, she took out the letter and re-read it. Annabelle let out a little gasp as the words on the paper sunk in. Her hand rested on her heart and she read like that till the end. Trembling, she put the letter down and looked at it. The words blurred before her and she realised she was crying.

Wiping her eyes, Annabelle tried to figure things out. She had always known her mother was half French, that was were she had gotten her name, but she had not known her mother had lived here. Her mother had died when Annabelle was young and her father had given Annabelle over to the care of her other aunt and she had been brought up with her three cousins.

Annabelle had never given any real thought to the mother she did not know, but now so many questions were coming into her mind. Sliding the letter away, she picked up the sealed envelope that she had avoid opening before and tore into it.

To Be Continued…

Ghostly Secrets (Part 3)

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Annabelle hurried back to her chambers forgetting all her manners. The skirt of her nightdress whipped around her legs and she almost tripped over many times. The flame of the oil lamp flickered madly and made the shadows along the walls more darker. Her bare feet pounded the floor almost as loudly as her heart.

She almost missed her door in her flight. Annabelle stopped and looked desperately around, she barely recognised the corridor but then saw where her bedchamber door was and hurried in. The room was just as she had left with it; with the fire now out and the bed cold. Annabelle placed the lamp on her bedside table and scrambled into bed. She shivered violently and clutched the sheets tightly.

Annabelle calmed herself. She rested against the pillows and took in deep breaths. Despite everything, she heard the grandfather clock in the front hallway below chime three am. She tried to settle, but sleep would not come and her mind was too drawn back to the room. Why had the ghost taken her there? Who’s room had it been? She knew parts of the manor house had been shut away because they were no longer needed. Perhaps, she could ask her uncle and aunt, maybe even the maids and house keeper? Somehow though, Annabelle did not want to tell anyone about the room.

She shut her eyes, feeling tried but at the same time unable to sleep. She wondered when she could try and go back during the daytime. Maybe in the middle of the afternoon? her aunt always took a nap and her uncle went out for a walk. The servants would be busy preparing the evening meal and finishing their tasks for the day. Annabelle decided that would be the best time and promptly fell asleep.

When she woke it was late morning. Annabelle rubbed her eyes and face as she came too. She knew the maid had been in because her clothes were laid out and there was fresh water in the jug. Annabelle got up and washed herself before ringing the bell for the maid. Whilst she waited, she looked outside and out over the moors. It was a grey dull day and there was not much to see.

The maid appeared and helped her get dressed into a plain blue day dress. Somehow, Annabelle held her questions about the ghost and room in. She went down to eat and found her uncle and aunt had already eaten and where in other parts of the house. Annabelle ate her eggs and toast in silence then went back to her room. Stepping through the door, she saw the maid was cleaning out the fireplace.

‘I’ll be done soon, Miss. Is there anything I can do for you?’ the maid asked.

Annabelle looked at her, recalling that the maid was younger then herself, so the girl might not know anything about the room. The girl had chestnut brown hair, so different from Annabelle’s blonde curls and she was wearing clothes that ill fitted her, as if the maid had been given another woman’s clothes. Annabelle pressed her lips together and decided to ask, ‘do you anything about ghosts?’

The girl, paused and looked at her, ‘no, Miss.’

Annabelle  went and sat at her dressing table where she played with a silver hairbrush and mirror. She watched the maid in the mirror and thought carefully.

‘You must know some stories though…’Annabelle muttered.

‘Sorry, Miss?’

‘Have you ever since a ghost?’ Annabelle asked.

‘No, Miss,’ the maid said quickly, ‘I must go and get some more coal.’

Annabelle turned to stop her but the girl hurried off before she could call her back. Sighing, she looked around then noticed the match box on the floor. Getting up, she collected that and a candle from the mantel and left her room. Though she had meant to find the secret room later, the urge to go back and see it again was too strong.

She hurried along the corridor and around into the next one. She remembered the way perfectly and arrived at the door, which was still slightly ajar. Annabelle opened it and stepped in. Closing it behind her, she found herself in darkness and had to go out again so she could light the candle. With that done, she walked through the bedchamber and light the few candles that were dotted about.

It was just a man’s bedchamber and beside from the envelope on the desk, Annabelle found no other names. She paused over the letter and then picked it up. The envelope had been sealed and never opened. It had never been posted. She almost opened it then she could not bring herself to break the seal. Placing it back, she walked into the other room and lit the single candle there.

The small flame hardly cast any light, so she went and picked up another candle from the next room. Then she could see that it was a personal library. A few molding books rested on a few bookshelves, but someone had taken away the others a long time ago. Annabelle went to the tapestry and inspected it more closely. She could not see anything else within it though. Moving it aside, she opened the door to the secret room and stepped in once more.

Straight away she saw the long curtains and went over to open them. Weak light drifted into the room from the dirty windows, but Annabelle could now see a lot more. She brought candles from the first room and placed them around. Then she saw that the room had once been heavily decorated and wonderful, but now time was decaying everything. It appeared to a be a lady’s private room, but Annabelle did not know how that was possible since it was clearly connect to a man’s room.

She walked about, looking at the pretty objects that decorated the room. There was a large chair and sofa, books on the shelves, dried flowers in vases, makeup and hair items on the large dresser. Small paintings hung on the walls of countryside scenes and the actual manor house. Two porcelain dolls sat together in a baby crib, their dust covered glass eyes staring up at Annabelle. Soft rugs covered the floor, muffling her footsteps as she moved around to looked for another hidden doorway. Perhaps she thought this room did connect to another somehow.

After much searching and looking at the placement of the items and furniture, Annabelle decided she had been wrong. There was only one way out of this room and someone had moved everything in here to make it look like it did. She went back to the desk and looked at the items there. There was a ink stand complete with pots and what had once been quills, yellow writing papers, an old book and the jewelry box.

Annabelle touched it, feeling dust under her fingers. She opened the large wooden box and saw the glitter of jewels in the candle light. No music came from the box, but as she inspect it and the contents more, she found a key and was able to wind it up. A soft lullaby rose up and she thought she knew it, but could not place it. She picked up necklaces, bracelets, earrings and loose gem stones, all very expensive and just left hidden in this dark room.

She started putting everything back and that was when she spotted the letter.

To Be Continued…

Ghostly Secrets (Part 2)

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The ghost of the old woman went through the door and Annabelle let out a little gasp. She went over thinking it might have been a trick, but she saw the door as solid as it had been before. Realizing that being a ghost might granted you such powers, Annabelle opened the door and walked into the hallway.

The countryside manor house was as quiet the graveyard close by and just as dark. Feeling a little less nervous with her glowing oil lamp, Annabelle peered around the corridor. The carpet runner felt worn, but far less cold under her bare feet. Shadows lingered anywhere, making the normal objects more monstrous. Annabelle raised the light to a landscape painting that hung just outside her door.

She knew the rolling hills, sheep and grey sky so well now, but in the lamp light the painting looked a mix of greens and greys as if the artist had destroyed the work in a rage. Annabelle’s hand clutched her fluttering heart and she took a few moments to calm herself.

‘It’s only because it’s dark,’ Annabelle muttered.

She turned away and saw that the ghost had drifted off. Annabelle let out a little cry and gathering her sweeping night dress up, quickly walked down the corridor. She caught up just before the old woman turned the corner and Annabelle could see that the ghost was letting off as much light as the oil lamp was, which really was not enough to see by.

‘Could we not do this during the day? It is frightfully late,’ Annabelle spoke out.

The ghastly old woman ignored her and carried on drifting down the next corridor. Annabelle let out a small sigh and wondered if she should just go back to her bedchamber. Somehow it felt too late now and did she not want to know why the ghost kept visiting her?

The corridor stretched before them, but the ghost did not go all the way to the end. She choice a door on the left side and went through. Annabelle frowned and shone the oil lamp on the door. There was nothing unremarkable about the dark oak frame and door. Annabelle held her breath and reached for the brass knob. The door opened silently and she walked into in the well furnished bedchamber.

Looking around, Annabelle guessed it had once been a long term resident’s room as there were still personal affects dotted about. She spotted a small stack of thin books on the bedside table, an ink pot and paper still on the desk under the window, a picture of a married couple in a silver frame on the mantel. She walked further about and noticed the thick layer of dust covering everything. Going to the desk, she looked at an envelope placed to one side, it was addressed to a Mr Cromby in London.

She thought about picking it up and looking at it, but her senses got the better of her and she turned away. Annabelle saw the ghost was disappearing through a small door in the corner and went over to open it. The door was stiff and it took a few moments for her to open it. She shone the light into a small room that might have been a personal library at one time. Empty bookcases lined two of the walls and there was a comfy looking armchair in the far corner.

The hunchbacked ghost was going to the wall behind the chair, where an ancient tapestry was. Annabelle brought the lamp closer to view the scene and saw it was a knight riding a white horse with a red dragon breathing fire at them on the other side. It was really faded and threadbare. If there had been anything else on the tapestry she could not see it. The old woman went through, taking her white ghost light with her.

Annabelle dropped the edges of her nightdress and felt the tapestry. The wall felt solid. With no where to place oil lamp, she carried on pressing the wall hanging until she felt the edge of what might have been a doorway. Annabelle lifted the tapestry and saw there was a small door. She tried the handle and it opened on rusty hinges.

The ghost was waiting for her and silently led Annabelle into a long forgotten room. With a see-through finger, the old female specter pointed at a musical jewellery box on the table. Annabelle went up to the desk and looked down.

‘What is it?’ Annabelle asked.

She looked over at the ghost, but the old woman had disappeared.

To Be Continued…

 

Ghostly Secrets (Part 1)

Brown Wooden Coffee Table Below an Uplight Chandelier

The ghost had been visiting Annabelle for the past four nights. The specter took the form of an old hunchback woman dressed in long flowing rags. She was almost see-through and surrounded by a white glowing light. She appeared at the bottom of Annabelle’s bed as the grandfather clock stroke two am. Annabelle would awaken, not sure what had disturbed her slumber, but knowing she was no longer alone in the bedroom.

Annabelle would roll over and watch the ghost standing there and staring at her for an hour or so, until she fell asleep again. She didn’t feel afraid, nor anything at all really, but was puzzled about why the ghostly old woman was watching her. Twice Annabelle had thought about drawing the heavy curtains around the four poster bed, but the idea made her feel panicky. That was part of the reason she had come to her uncle and aunt’s country house to begin with.

Tonight though, Annabelle was feeling restlessly. She had settled into the bed, warmed by a bedpan made by the maid, who had also lit the small fire in the fireplace and Annabelle had started reading her current novel. The wind and rain were lashing against the small windows as the storm reached it’s peak. She heard a rumble of thunder and looked up from her reading.

In the dimly lit room, she could not see very much. The fire and her oil lamp cast pools of orange glows, but nothing more. Annabelle thought about getting up and going to the window. But she knew there would be nothing to see but the darkness pressing against the glass and the drops of rain running down. She did not feel tried though and so turned back to her book.

She never heard the grandfather clock chiming two and only realized the time when the ghost appeared. The old woman began to take shape at the foot of the bed and the light created made Annabelle finally look up from her novel. She had never seen the ghost form before it was a strange sight to see. First, it just seemed like a flicker of candle light which grew until it took a shimmering shape that could be called a head and body. Secondly, silver hair and clothes seemed to form then finally everything came into focus and the hunchback old woman was there.

Annabelle, with a quick glance at her page and shove in of the red ribbon she was using as a bookmark closed the book and sat up.

‘What is it? What do you want?’ Annabelle asked.

The ghost looked at her with large white eyes and Annabelle saw for the first time the lack of detail within the old woman’s face. There was a smoothness to the long drawn out face when Annabelle expected it to be covered in wrinkles. The hair was clumped together and draped on either side of her small shoulders. The ghost was wearing what at first seemed to be a white ragged sheet, but the more Annabelle looked she realized it was an old fashioned night dress.

‘Who are you?’ Annabelle asked.

The ghastly old woman opened her mouth and tried to form words but nothing came. She rose her hand and with a finger pointed at the closed and locked door of the bedchamber.

Annabelle looked over then back at the ghost. She got the meaning straight away, but was not sure she wanted to follow the old hag. With a shake of her head, Annabelle curled herself more into the bed and drew the sheets up tighter.

‘Why can’t you speak?’ Annabelle asked.

The old woman stared at her silently then once more rose her hand to the door. She moved slowly as she might have done when she was alive. Shuffling towards the door, bent over and as if leaning on a walking stick.  Annabelle watched her and saw that her bare feet were not touching the ground but were raised just off it.

Annabelle released the bed clothes and making up her mind, she slipped from the bed. The floor was freezing, as if she was walking on snow. The darkness weighed heavy around her and Annabelle glanced at her bedside table and the oil lamp. She padded back and collected the lamp. Even though the flame only cast a small pool of yellow light, she felt better.

The ghost was waiting for her by the door. Annabelle stopped a good distance away.

‘I am ready,’ Annabelle breathed.

To Be Continued….

 

Wishing Well

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He threw the coin into the wishing well and didn’t think any more of it, until a week later when a beautiful blonde moved in next door.

 

Love Don’t Bother (Part 2)

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It was a bad dream, somehow I knew that, but I couldn’t wake myself up from it. I was at the bar we always go to at the end of our nights out and a handsome man was talking to me. I could hear Amelia, Darcy and their boyfriends in the background. The man was saying how pretty I am and how he couldn’t believe his luck meeting me in here.

I smile and sip my drink.  I try to say how lucky I feel back, but I can’t.  Loud music wraps around me, tugging me to the dance floor yet I don’t move. Bright lights are flashing and there are too many people. I want to leave and go somewhere else. I go to say this to the man, but he ignores me. I reach out for his hand, but my fingers seem to slip through his. The music and the shouting voices press painfully on my head so that I can only see blinding flashes of light.

I try to shake it away then I spot Darcy’s boyfriend, Alex, coming over. He starts whispering to the man. I can’t hear the words but I can see the effect as the man’s face falls. He gives me a look of disgust and leaves.

‘What did you say?’ my dream self-demands.

‘That you sleep with anyone who’ll have you. You’re old, fat and ugly, but always game for some action,’ Alex says with a laugh.

‘That’s not true!’

‘It so is. You’ve tried it on with me and everyone else in this bar.’

He waves his hand out and I look and see the fuzzy faces of men I half remember. Is that my high school history teacher? And the one against the wall looks like my old neighbour, who use to leer at me from behind his hedge.

I shake my head and back up into the bar stool.

‘It’s true!’ he says, ‘you’re a sex-crazed hippo, aren’t you? Here, you want some…’ he unzips his jeans, ‘I’ll give you some!’

Laughter fills my ears, I struggle to get away from him and then I awake up.

Breathing hard, I listen but hear nothing other than the old house settling, the wind rattling the window and the living room clock ticking. I push myself up and turn on the lamp. The light helps, even though I can now see the shadows fleeing to the corners of the room. Sweeping my hair back, I feel dampness against my skin. I get up and open the window. Cold air trials in, blowing the heat and sleep from my face. I can see a hint of light in the overcast grey sky. It’s going to rain soon.

I take deep breaths, which help clear the dream from my mind. However, it has once again disturbed the past memory that I’d put in lock down. Seeing Darcy’s room probably cracked the lid on it. Closing the window, I go into the bathroom and splash some water on my face. It helps a little, but I still feel my skin all sticking together.

I glance at the shower and deciding I’m awake now, take off my clothes and get in. I turn the temperature down and avoid trying to get my hair wet. Which is an impossible task, because the shower is dodgy and water just  goes everywhere. I wash and try hard to think of anything else other then the bits I’m scrubbing with the sponge.

Parts of the dream flash into mind, but I push them away, only they end up being replaced with the real events.

I get out, dry off and collect my clothes. Taking my towel wrapped body back into my bedroom, I find other PJs to wear. Going to the window, I open the curtains, but not enough light is coming in. I notice a few rain drops clinging to the glass. Making sure it’s locked, I leave the grey dawn and turn on the over head light.

My room comes into full clarity. To my left is my messed up bed with a bedding box placed at the end then my TV on it’s stand with the DVD player sticking out underneath. There’s a few small racks holding DVDs and CDS along the wall in between. The wall above my bed as my collection of framed postcards, which looks impression but all the places are actually here in England. Though I’ve a few from Wales. On the right are three floor to ceiling bookcases, which contain whole arrays of fiction and non-fiction books. Then there’s my desk and computer followed by my wardrobe.

Moving, I go over to my bed and kneel down. Flipping the duvet and other trailing blankets back, I feel around and pull out a large fabric covered cardboard box. Taking the lid off, I see it’s the one I want, for inside is a collection of diaries. Last’s years sits on top. I pull it out and climb on to the bed. Flipping the pages, I look for May and June. Once there, I peer at my small neat handwriting and scan the words.

I find the part I’m looking for in the middle of May. I turn on the lamp, curl up against the pillows and began reading.

I met Darcy’s boyfriend, Alex today. I don’t like him and I don’t really see what Darcy sees in him. He’s a big jerk. When we were introduced I saw him sneering at me and thinking…Well, I guess the normal things that people think about large girls. He was polite enough, but I knew it was forced.

Then I over heard him talking to Amelia’s boyfriend, Luke, in her bedroom about me. I was going out to the library and just passing there when I heard voices. I wasn’t going to stop but then I heard my name. Alex was saying, ‘Marcelen has huge boobs. I’d love to see them. Shame about the rest of her though…did you think someone in her family was a cow?’ He laughed.  

Thankfully, Luke didn’t laugh, but he did reply with, ‘she’s not so bad.’

I left, but as I walked to uni, I pictured myself opening Amelia’s door and giving him a piece of my mind. Don’t judge people! You don’t know me. Apologise and in future keep you nasty thoughts to yourself. But I know I’d never have been able to have said it. 

The library was empty – not surprising for a Saturday…..

I stopped as my past self changed topic. I turn the pages and looked for the next entry about Alex. It was there almost a week later; a Friday night and we were going to Liverpool. I skipped the beginning and found a bit the middle.

Everything was going great until the last club. I was at the bar, getting a glass of water and I felt a hand on my bum. I turned and it was Alex! He was totally drunk. I whacked his hand away and yelled, ‘Darcy’s nipped to the loos!’  He shouted down my ear, ‘it’s you I want!’ Then he squeezed my bum. 

I think I told him to get off and then I got my water and walked around the edge of the dance floor. He followed me and then he grabbed my hand, pulling me close to him. I think he said something about dancing, but I wasn’t sure. I tried to shake him off, but he wouldn’t let go and he kept saying how much he wanted me and how he’d seen me staring at him. I think then, though of course with the deafening, booming music, I could have been wrong, he said, ‘a fat bird like you must be gagging for it!’

I threw my water at him and ran away. Of course, then it took forever to find Amelia and Darcy. Luckily, we were going to head home anyway, so when we meet up outside the club, it wasn’t that bad. I was so sure that Alex would say something because he was still wet, but he didn’t. Perhaps, he told Darcy in private as soon as we said goodnight and went into our bedrooms. Though I think there’s only one thing on his mind right now!  

Even now thinking about it worries me. I know Alex was drunk and that was probably to blame, but still…And there’s no way I can tell anyone, because they won’t remember. I don’t get why people enjoy making themselves so drunk like that. You can have a nice night out without all that illness in the morning. 

I can hear them having sex. They must have done it a few times before now, but I’ve never heard them before. I guess being drunk makes them loud. It makes me think about my ex. I still miss him, but it was still the right thing to do. Things would never have worked out between us and I see that now. There’ll be someone else out there for me, I know. Maybe I need to join that dating website again? But my PhD must come first.

I got some prep to do for supporting teaching the first years Monday. Mustn’t forget about that….

I stop reading and let that sink in. I had forgotten that had happened, but it had been the start of everything really. I look up and and out of the window, the sunlight had given up trying to defeat the heavy clouds and it was now raining. Leaving last year’s diary open, I slotted it under a pillow and went to get breakfast.

 

To Be Continued…

 

Love Don’t Bother (Part 1)

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Dropping the towel from my still wet body, I peer nervously into the full length mirror. All my life I’ve hated reflective glass of any kind. Not even the mirror mazes of my childhood made me laugh. I avoid mirrors like people avoid food they’re allergic too. Now though, I’ve decided to stare the cold hard truth about myself down.

Pressing my lips together, I see my face; the flush chubby cheeks, up turned small nose, large olive eyes, the wrinkling forehead and my fair brown hair. Is that actually me? I know it is, but why did my consciousness ended up in this body? Why couldn’t I have been someone else? Then I might not have been Marcelen Potts, but…Taylor Swift or someone else rich, famous and pretty.

I’m not pretty. My face might just been passable but the rest of me…. I drop my eyes and see my huge boobs. They are round and soft, but hang down too much. I slot my hands under them, rising them up to where they stood be. Now, if they stayed like that, things would be okay, but it wouldn’t make much of a difference, I’d still be a threat to chest high people, just without the aid of a bra…In fact, I’d probably still need one to keep my boobs stable.

Just below them is my non-existent waist. It’s just a round doughnut like roll of pink flesh. It actually reminds me of one of those inflatable swimming rings you put around children to keep them afloat.

I squish the front of it together, trying to imagine myself being flat and able to see my ribs. It’s a pointless task really. I’ve no idea what slim me would look like and the images come from seeing all those zero size walking stick girls.

Isn’t it true that most of the women you see in photos have been made to look that way by editing software? So, what everyone is seeing is actually unachievable anyway? And you hardly ever see fat women! They are all shunned into a corner and society finger points and says no one can look like that. Fat can’t be beautiful, only bones can be!

Dropping my hands, they brush against the sides of my stomach. I stare at my overhanging belly in the mirror, I jiggle it. The warm, damp skin ripples and keeps going like it would never end. I pick it up, pinching the areas either side of my bellybutton and stretching the flesh. I could easily hide a small child underneath me. Or someone could use me as a parasol and stay in the shade.

I try squeezing my stomach all together and seeing if I can get it flat. However, it acts like Flubber and just wobbles away, bulging at the sides. I drop the whole thing and let my hands rest of top of stomach. I will myself to imagine what it might look like flat, but I can’t picture it.

Moving on I do the last part of the inspection; arms and legs. My fingers, hands, feet and toes look good, they are long and thin. My wrists too are slender and my low arms are okay, but then I get to my upper arms, which look like tiny wings. My legs are the same, but are more like chunky tree trunks. And that’s it, staring at my body is complete until I dare to look again.

I turn away, picking up the towel and wrapping myself in it. Though it barely fits around me and I poke out down one side. I leave the hallway and the mirror which is attached to the wall close to the front door. The mirror was there when I moved in and I don’t know who is responsible for it. I should ask my two flatmates if they know and maybe get it removed.

I go up the narrow stairs, which my stomach and upper arms almost touches and arrive at the first floor. To my right is Amelia’s room and to the left is the bathroom, though it’s not the one I use –unless it’s an emergency. Moving past them, I come to the foot of another staircase, which twists back on itself before it reaches the second floor. Two more door sit on the other side of the stairs, leading into the kitchen on the left and the living room on the right. They are joined in the middle by another door.

Clutching my towel, I hurry up the stairs. My footsteps cushioned by the thick pattern carpet. At the top is a small landing and three doors. The middle door- the second bathroom is half open and mist is still hugging the walls. I go in and open the window. Cold autumn air rushes in and the hair on my arms rise. I dry off again and stick the towel on to the rack. I shut the door behind me and go over to the right door, my bedroom.

Opening the door, I hear a creaking behind me and glance over. The opposite door which leads to Darcy’s room, is slowly moving. Ignoring it, I go into my room, put on the flannel Pjs I left on the bed and try not to think any more about my body. Grabbing my hairbrush, I start brushing, but a loud squeaking pauses my hand.

I go out and see Darcy’s door has opened more now. Sighing, I go over and look inside. I’ve been in her room before, ages ago now, but it so didn’t look like this. There are clothes, shoes, soft toys, books and other things scattered over the floor so that not an inch of the carpet can be seen. Her bed and desk look just the same and things are spilling from her wardrobe as if it’s just been sick. I close the door on the chaos and go back to organised.

Everything in my room has a place and it always gets put back there. Sinking on to the bed, I pick up my diary and flick the pages. I stop on today’s date, grab a fountain pen and begin writing. My mind wonders faster than I can write though and soon I’m reflecting on why I decided not to go out tonight. The excuse about working on the research for my PhD was all because I didn’t want to see Amelia and Darcy with their boyfriends. If it had been a girl’s only night I’d have been fine, but playing the third wheel has never been for me.

I stop writing and look up, hearing something outside. There’s a window in the wall next to the head of my bed. I get up, leaving off mid-sentence. Sweeping back the netted curtain, I open the window and stick my head out with my hands pressed hard to the sill.

The late evening sky is dotted with stars and a perfectly thin crescent moon. Below me is the cobblestoned alleyway that leads to my flat and also the flat opposite. Bins nestle against the walls and I think I see the flickering of a shadow. Then laughter rises from somewhere and I hear voices. They wouldn’t come back so soon, but still…

I close the window and the curtain falls back into place. I cross my room, open the door and go downstairs with heavy thuds echoing behind me. I fast walk into the living room, not turning on the light and go to the window. I pull the net curtain slightly back and look down upon a Victorian styled high street.

Lights shine from the few pubs, bars and takeaways onto the large flagstone pavement. Small groups of people are slowly walking around or standing in doorways. I see the thin trails of cig smoke rising from two people at the entrance to The King’s pub. Laughter and voices drift through the thin glass and I can just about smell pizza.

I drop my head, scolding myself for my stupid panicking and the lingering memories of last year. Letting the curtain fall, I go back stairs and climb into bed. I spot the time as being a little past nine, perhaps too early for sleep, but it’s the only thing I want to do. I finish up writing in my diary, avoiding the parts about looking in the mirror before and my depression over being single.

Then placing it back inside the top draw of my bedside table, I turn out the lamp and fall into the darkness.

To Be Continued…

Here We Stand (Part 2)

Religious Statue in Greyscale Photo

I peered through the arched doorway and saw the stone spiral steps leading downwards but also upwards. I squeezed inside and found it was a tight fit between the staircase column and opposite wall. Going downwards, I felt the rough wall with my hand and listened to my hiking bag scrapping along behind me.

It took me a moment to realise the steps had ended. I shuffled on, hoping to find a light switch or to see another source. The air was cold, almost crypt like, but I could smell no rotting bodies, it was just the scent of dampness still. My hand flew into an empty gap and I stopped. There was a hole in the wall.

Deciding there was nothing else for it, I swung off my hiking bag and put it down. My shoulders and back burned whilst a cold air rushed under my t-shirt and danced on my sweaty skin. I rubbed my back and listened to the dripping of water somewhere close by. Fumbling with straps, zips and buckle clips, I opened a side pocket and pulled out a glow stick.

Dim green light filled my vision as I cracked and shook the stick about. I blinked, refocused and took in my surroundings. Large flagstones covered in dirt lined the floor and just above my head was the ceiling. The doorway next to me led into a bathroom. The dripping water was coming from a sink beside a toilet.

Grabbing my hiking bag, I walked sideward then let the straps go as I inspected the sink. It was hard to tell what colour it had been as rust had now taken over. I shone the glow stick close to the water and watched as a red coloured drop ran passed. I turned the tap. It was stuck fast, but after a few tugs, it come loose and iron stained water rushed forth.

The sound blasted around me, unlocking the silence that had been weighing against my ears. I stole some glances over my shoulder, but could see nothing forming out of the shadows that had claimed their space back. I turned and waited for the water to change colour. When nothing happened after a few second, I placed the glow stick down and saw a shard of mirror had been left against the sink.

Cupping my hands, I put them under the water then took a careful sip. It tasted like old soil in which veg had rotted, but it was strangely sweet. Shrugging I had some more then went back for a few more handfuls. The water filled my empty belly and left a tangy, metallic taste in my mouth.

Picking up the glow stick, I bent and tried to catch my reflection in the mirror shard. I could just see the growing beard on my face and my long ragged hair drooping on my too thin cheeks. Standing up, I patted my stomach through my damp baggy t-shirt and carried on.

There was nothing else down here. Or if there was it had long been sealed up.

Returning to the staircase, the full weight of my hiking bag on again pulling me down, I trudged upstairs. There were more steps going up, but finally I found myself in a decrepit bell tower. The wooden floorboards looked okay, but there was a trap door in the centre that had been under the bell. Looking up into the roof, I could not really tell where the bell had once been attached too. There was no doubt in my mind though that it had been taken away to be used somewhere else or melted down.

The tower was open on all three sides, so cold and now rain could come in. I went to the nearest opening and looked out. In the fast building evening light, I could see the tops of trees and houses. A fire was burning a few miles to my left. I could see the smoke rising and perhaps a flicker of orange. It was hard to tell if it was a beacon or some vandals.

The rain peppered my skin, making me feel more refreshed as I went to the next opening. This one looked over more trees and houses. Chimneys reached to the cloudy, gunmetal grey sky, their bricks darkened by the rain. Was that the railway station? Maybe not, but it looked big enough. My thoughts darted back to last night when I had slept fitfully in a storage room.

Stepping away, I went to the third opening. This one looked out on a small graveyard. The headstones stuck up through the tall grass as if demanding still to be seen. A few trees grew on the edge then spread to create woodland. Most of the trees had to be evergreen because all the others were slowly surrounding to autumn. I could see no further as evening settled in.

Not giving into dropping my hiking bag, I went back downstairs. Coming into the church’s altar again, I looked round and tried to decide where the best place to sleep was.

 

To Be Continued…

Here We Stand (Part 1)

Religious Statue in Greyscale Photo

The church seemed too quiet. I paused in the doorway and peered in. A lot of broken wood, plaster and stone covered the floor, making it look highly dangerous. A quick look up and ceiling was holding strong, even though there where a few holes. The place smelt bad; damp, mouldy and animal like. There was no telling what had or was living here.

‘Hello?’ I shouted.

My voice echoed slightly then fade. I didn’t recognise it as it reached my ears. I sounded like some other twenty year old man who was rough and tried from illness and lack of sleep. Well, that was sort of true. The world was now too dangerous to sleep soundly anymore.

I stepped in. Something crunched under my boots. The sounded echoed softer then my voice had. I looked down and saw a pile of yellow bones. They looked too small to be human, but until I’d seen the skull I wouldn’t know for sure. Nudging them with my foot, I couldn’t detect anything further, other then it wasn’t a complete skeleton.

I looked up and around again. Most of the stain glass windows were gone. In their place were loose boards made up wood and metal, however that was only for the lucky few. Weak sunlight was pouring through the rest, causing there to be rectangles topped with arches across the floor. The largest amount of light was coming from the three biggest windows that looked down upon the altar space.

‘Hello? Is anyone here? I come in peace!’ I yelled and held up my empty hands out.

I shuffled into the first patch of light, with my arms up. My shoulders and back ached with the weight of my hiking bag. Some wisps of my too long black hair fell into my eyes and I blew them away with a hot breath. Sweat dampened my dirty t-shirt, not that any more staining would matter. I listened, holding my breath so I could hear more. The church stayed quiet as if it was holding it’s breath too.

I dropped my arms, deciding it was okay for now. Walking slowly towards the altar where I knew there might be some doors leading to backrooms or a basement, my alertness didn’t drop. It was hard walking over the ever shifting rubble, especially because I didn’t want to keep my eyes down all the time.

I reached the first step of the altar which was just visible. There was a dead bird next to my left foot. It looked like a fresh skeleton as it was fully laid out with feathers circling it like a halo. Leaving it, I walked up the rest of the steps and tried to make sense of the space before me.

Churches were apart of the old world now. Though the generation before me had desperately tried to hang on to them and religion, they had been unsuccessful. My generation didn’t care and these ‘holy places’ were just empty meaningless shells now, just liked all the other places.

I craned my neck upwards. Maybe statues had once stood in the hallows above me. Their stony eyes staring blindly down at me in silent judgement. And what would they see? A scruffy, exhausted kid just trying to survive from one moment to the next in a world now gone to hell. Perhaps, their faces would plead with me to save humanity? And I would turn my back on that request, knowing it was an impossible task.

Turning from the wall, knowing I didn’t have to worry about that today, I checked left and right. There was a small blocked up wooden door to my left, possibly an emergency escape. To my right was an open passageway and what looked to be a stone spiral staircase.

 

To Be Continued….