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.

Querulous #atozchallenge

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Querulous; complaining in a whining manner. 

Mum said I was just too much and this would be better all around. I didn’t believe her though but there wasn’t much I could do about it. I’d never travelled by myself before and it was a long way to go to Aunt Maggie’s. I’d be excited about going on the train, but now two hours later, I was bored.

The train was rattling loudly and clicking over the rails. Rain was hitting the window and the countryside was racing past in blurs of green and yellows. I couldn’t focus on counting sheep or other animals now. For awhile, I had watched the old woman, who I was sharing this carriage compartment with, but then she had fallen sleep.

She reminded me of my great grandmother because of all the wrinkles and old dress. The woman had been reading, then knitting a scarf, then eating lunch before she had gone to sleep. I was tried too, but feeling awake. Leaning against the window ledge, I watched the rain and began thinking.

I wasn’t being sent away because I was bad, mum had made sure to tell me that, it was because she wasn’t well. She needed someone to look after her and there was no one, so she had to go to hospital which meant there was no one to look after me. I couldn’t be by myself, not just because I’m only thirteen, but because I have autism.

Autism is a hard thing to explain to people, so I don’t talk about it often. Mum says, I’m not different, I’m normal, but I just have a special way of thinking and doing things. There are lots of other people like me and they have their own ways too, just like everyone else does. I wish I didn’t have it though. If I was normal, I could look after myself and mum better.

Instead, I’ve to go to Aunt Maggie’s though I’ve not seen her for years and she’s not really my aunt but a very old friend of mum’s. I don’t know how much she knows about me, but mum says she’s really nice and with it being half term, I won’t have to move schools. Hopefully, she’ll be nice and let me play games and read my comic books all the time.

I had been fighting going to Aunt Maggie’s for the last two weeks. Mum had slowly started suggesting it along side explain things to me. I told her I could stay in the hospital with her or someone else could look after me. What about my normal babysitter, Nancy? I really like her and she always makes me laugh. I’d have anyone, I plead; even Mrs. Cramps, the crazy lady who smells bad and lives at the end of the street.

No, mum had said, no one else can do it. Please don’t make this harder. Be a good boy.

I was a good boy, but I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay with her. I wanted to stay in my bed, in my room, in my house. I didn’t want to go to some place new. I don’t like new things, especially if it’s noisy. Mum knew that and still she had tried to make me excited about going. It hadn’t really worked even though the train had been a nice distraction.

That’s how she’d really got me on the way to Aunt Maggie’s and the bag fill of snacks, toys and comics. Now, I was getting close to arriving and meeting Aunt Maggie, my mind had changed again. No longer did the way mum had put things make a difference. I just knew it was going to be too hard. I couldn’t be good if I didn’t like it. That was just the way it worked.

I shut my eyes, listening to the rain falling and the old woman snoring. I’d try my best I decided then if I was really good, maybe I’d be able to go home faster.

Gigil (Part 2) #atozchallenge

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Getting into bed that night, I was tried and felt like I could sleep forever. Eva hadn’t stopped going on about the bunnies all day and Tyler had decided to support her with that. At bedtime, they had both gone into a melt down and it had taken forever for them to sleep.

My husband was in bed all ready, reading a book, but I could see he was dozing off. I turned out my light and settled down.

‘Are you going to get them a rabbit?’ my husband, Dave, asked out of the blue.

‘No,’ I replied, ‘what’s the point? They’ll be bored with it by the end of the week. Then I’ll have to look after it.’

‘Or maybe not…Ava’s old enough now. It might be good for her. I had a dog at her age. I’ve always wanted another one,’ Dave said dreamily.

‘No dog either,’ I said gruffly, ‘now, I’m going to sleep.’

I pulled the duvet over and stopped listening to him.

‘I’ll be a nice Easter surprise. Say you’ll think about it,’ Dave suggested.

‘I’ll think about it,’ I answered.

Snuggling down, I fell asleep quickly.

 

Over the next week, Ave and Tyler didn’t let the wanting of a bunny go. My hopes that they would do started to fade and it seemed my children became more determined to force my hand everyday. I didn’t give in and pretended I couldn’t hear them.

A few days before Easter Sunday, I picked up chocolate Easter eggs and other treats for us all to share. I also brought Ava and Tyler soft toy rabbits, not to make up for the lack of a real one, but in the hope of distracting them. I hide everything on the top shelf of my wardrobe.

On the eve of Easter Sunday, when the kids had gone to bed after we’d spent the day at the parking doing an Easter egg hunt, I was curled up on the sofa next to Dave. We were watching a murder mystery TV drama and I was enjoying a glass of red wine.

‘Did you think about the rabbits?’ Dave announced during the advert break.

I looked up at him, a frown on my face, ‘No. They’re not having rabbits. I all ready told you that.’

‘Ava isn’t going to let it go, you know.’

‘She will soon enough,’ I declared.

‘There’s enough space outside for a hutch and for them to run outside. There were two left in the pet shop,’ Dave added, ‘I thought we’d agreed…’

‘Wait? Agreed? Dave…Did you…?’

I looked fully at him, words fading as his express changed to become blank. He was faking it badly though.

I whacked his leg, nearly splashing the rest of my wine. I got up, anger filling me.

‘Where are they?’ I asked.

‘In the garage. I made sure they were warm. I got a get deal on the hutch, food and stuff. Pretty cheap, lot less then I thought it was going to be,’ Dave rushed, ‘Beth, they are really cute. I don’t get why you don’t want them.’

I sank back against the sofa, my thoughts whirling.

‘You can take them back on Tuesday. The pet shop should be open then. I’ll keep Ava and Tyler out of the garage,’ I voiced.

‘Come and see them,’ Dave said.

He got up and helped me stand, even though I didn’t really want to. I placed my wine down and followed him grumpily out of the room. Through into the garage we headed and tucked away behind the old jeep my husband had been working on forever was a large double level hutch.

I put my hands on my hips and watched him open a small side door. Two light brown baby bunnies where snuggled together, sleeping. Dave gently picked up and give it to me. I refused, but then he pressed the rabbit to me and I had no choice.

The bunny was warm and fluffy. A damp nose nuzzled into my hand and whiskers tickled me. I felt something melting inside of me.

‘See? They are really nice. The woman in the pet shop said she breed them and her children have been handling them. She said they’d be suitable for Ava and Tyler,’ Dave explained.

I stroked the bunny in my arms. A part of me still against this whole idea. I’d end up looking after them for sure!  Maybe, that wouldn’t be a bad thing?

Gigil (Part 1) #atozchallenge

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Gigil; The urge to squeeze something that is unbearably cute. 

My two children pressed their faces against the front window of the pet shop. I was too tried and weighed down with shopping bags to shoo them on. The Land Rover was just a few more cars up in the parking bays. I walked over and around to lower the bags to the floor next to the boot.

I dug in my handbag for my keys, my eyes straying to keep an eye on the girl and boy still standing at the window. I opened the boot and put everything in, making sure things wouldn’t be squished on the ride home. Closing the boot, I walked back around.

‘Come on, Ava, Tyler,’ I called.

‘But mummy! Look at the bunnies!’ Ava shouted back.

‘No. Come on now,’ I said sterner.

‘Sophie’s getting one for Easter. Can we have one? We never get anything,’ Ava whined.

‘No and you get lots of things. Now come on!’

Ava give shake of her long blonde hair and turned back to the window.  Tyler had his hands pressed to the glass and seemed fixated.

I stomped over and scooped him up. He’d only just turned five, but he was small and thin. A fussy eater and an insomniac with little interest in things other then watching the TV. Tyler wiggled to get comfy then settled into my arms. He’d thrown a tantrum in the supermarket and was now tried.

‘Look, Mummy,’ Ava picked up, ‘they are just so fluffy and cute!’

I looked, just to indulge her. There were three glass boxes in the window at child eye level. Inside the middle box were four baby rabbits. They were small and light brown, a few had darker patches, they all had black eyes and twitching pink noses. Their small ears were straight up and they were hopping around, doing rabbit things.

A label above them read; New In! Baby rabbits for sale. £20

Looking more into the shop, I saw the glass box on the right was empty; the sawdust clean for another animal. The box on the left contained another rabbit; he was alone, grey and blueish in colour and bigger then the babies. I looked over at the poster above him. Rehoming, Male adult dwarf rabbit. Two years old, suitable with neutered rabbits, older children only. £10.

‘Can we go in?’ Ava asked.

‘No. We have to go home. Tyler needs a nap now and there’s too many things I need to do,’ I said.

‘But I want to touch one!’

‘No, I said!’

She was only going to get more attached if we went in. I reached for her hand and when she didn’t take mine, I picked up her hand. I tugged her away and reluctantly Ava sulked after me.

To Be Continued…

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.

Creepy Doll Face

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I looked up and there she was staring down at me again. My breath caught and I chocked on a bit of water I hadn’t swallowed. A coughing fit hit my chest and I had to turn away whilst it felt like I was coughing up a lung. I couldn’t breath and panic shot through me.

I sat down, luckily landing on Harriet’s bean bag or else I would have been on the floor. I rubbed my chest and calmed myself. Most of the coughing subsided and I was able to think again. I took a few depth breaths and tried not to think about anything other then my breathing.

Reaching up to the small desk, I took down the bottle of water I’d brought upstairs with me. Unscrewing the cap, I took a sip, testing my throat. It seemed okay. I took a few more and shut my eyes. Music was still rocking through my headphones. I slipped them off, wanting a few moments without Meat Loaf singing his love to me.

The coughing stopped and I took a mouthful of water. Feeling better, I put the cap back on and tried not to look up again. I scanned my ten year old daughter’s bedroom. Taking in the bright pink princess wallpaper, Harriet’s collection of unicorn teddies, all her books, the doll’s house and all her fake looking dollies.

The vacuum and cleaning bucket stood in the middle of the room like intruders. I should get back to cleaning. Harriet hated anyone cleaning her room, luckily she was a very organised and her bedroom was always tidy. Still though, there were things a child couldn’t clean.

I went to stand up and my eyes began drifting up to the top shelf again. I stopped myself, not wanting to look at her again. Those piecing blue-grey eyes were a death trap and all that blonde curly hair wasn’t as innocent as it looked. I focused on the floor and the vacuum, planning what I was going to do next.

I couldn’t escape her though and I lifted my eyes upwards. She was sat on the corner of the highest shelf above Harriet’s bed, where all the precious things Harriet was too young yet to play with sat. There were things like pot ponies, glass teddy bears, a paper weight with a real flower inside and the doll.

My breath caught again and I was taken in by her as if she held power over me. Her china face was snow white and perfectly heart shaped. Her red painted lips were a tight bow as she faked a smile. Her glass eyes had little black eyelashes brushed on which give a frame to her glaring gaze. Her face was framed by all that blonde hair which there appeared to be far too much of. She was wearing a pale blue dress, trimmed with white lace at all the edges. Her limbs had been arranged so that her arms and hands rested on the shelf and her feet hung down. She had on tiny white lacy socks and blue leather shoes.

‘It’s just a doll,’ I said aloud, breaking the spell.

I took a deep breath and looked away. I got up and went over to the vacuum. I plugged it in and turned it on. I cleaned the carpet and I tried to let the noise of the vacuum drown out my thoughts, but it didn’t work.

The doll had only been here two weeks. A late birthday present from Harriet’s grandmother. The woman was almost a hundred and in a care home down south, near the coast. The doll was probably around the same age as her. Harriet had only meet her twice,  as a baby, so Harriet wouldn’t remember. Mrs. Perkins did though! And every birthday and Christmas Harriet would get something in the post from her. Normally, they were suitable gifts, but that china doll totally wasn’t.

Even though, Harriet had cried and moaned, I had put the doll on the shelf and told her could have it when she was older. It hadn’t worked though. I had been hearing Harriet talking to the doll as if it was her best friend. Also, I kept finding the doll about the place. Yesterday, it had been in the bathroom, on Saturday it had been on the sofa and this morning, I swear the doll was in the kitchen, but then I hadn’t been able to find it.

Now, the doll was staring me down.

Ignoring it, I finished my cleaning. Then as I was leaving the room, I reached up and pulled the doll off the shelf. She slide easily enough down. Stuffing her in my cleaning bucket, I took that and the vacuum downstairs again. I put anything away then debated what to do with the doll.

Finally, I got a plastic bag from the cupboard and wrapped her in that. Her creepy face didn’t seem to happy about that. I didn’t care! Then I went up into the attic and left the doll on an old wooden chair that had belong to my great-granddad.

The rest of the day was normal and I had this strange peace of mind. However, when Harriet came home the world collapsed.

‘Where is she? Where is Esme?’ Harriet wailed.

‘Who?’ I asked.

I was in the kitchen, sorting out dinner and my husband was in the living room. I’d picked Harriet up from school two hours or so ago and she’d only now just noticed her doll was missing.

‘Grandma’s doll,’ Harriet clarified.

‘I’ve not seen her. Did you leave her laying around some place again? I’ve told you not to play with her, remember? She’s a special doll,’ I replied.

Harriet puffed out her cheeks, trying to hold back tears as she thought.

‘Why don’t you ask you dad to help you look?’ I suggested.

With a huff, Harriet stormed off.

For the next few minutes, I heard my husband and daughter searching the whole house. I busied myself with making the meal. When I called them both to eat, Harriet declared the doll was still missing.

‘I’m sure she’ll turn up,’ I said.

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.

The Mail Eater

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He watches and awaits by the front door, listening as footsteps go up and down the street. He growls as he hears the mailman approach and a shuffling of papers. The letter flap is fluttering and it’s raining inside the house. He jumps, catching white and brown papers which he rips and throws about. He snatches the last few out of a hand he can’t see and tears the letters up.

Afterwards, he sits, tail wagging and tongue lolling, his task of defending his home and family complete.

Luck

PHOTO PROMPT © Shaktiki Sharma

Kobi looked up at the post then pointed out the bright green and black insect that was hanging there.

‘Granny! A cricket!’ Kobi called.

‘Huh?’ Granny asked.

She bent down and looked through her huge, thick glasses.

‘No, it’s not. It’s a grasshopper,’ Granny muttered.

Kobi’s shoulders sank and disappointment etched across his face.

Granny moved her glasses up and down, ‘maybe a locust,’ she added thoughtfully, ‘but not a cricket. Too big.’

‘Awww, I really wanted a lucky cricket,’ Kobi sighed.

Granny smiled, ‘We’d have to go out of town to find one of them. Crickets don’t like all this noise.’

Kobi pulled a face.

‘Why do you need luck?’ Granny asked.

‘For the maths test,’ he replied.

Granny took his hand, ‘I can think of better lucky things for that,’ she answered and led him away.

 

(Inspired from: https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/03/08/5881/ PHOTO PROMPT © Shaktiki Sharma, with thanks.)

Postcard #31

White Petaled Flower on Snow Surface

Dear Lottie,

Just as I thought we’d said goodbye to winter, it snowed heavily! We couldn’t get the car off the driveway, nor go to school and work! We went for a short walk instead and enjoyed seeing the snowdrops popping up from the snow. Most of the streams and waterfalls were frozen too! You should have seen how the dogs and the kids bounded about, they totally loved it.

I know moving to Scotland has been hard on everyone, but it was the right choice. Out here, we can all be freer and live the simple life I’ve always dreamed of.

Missing you!

Sadie and family.