The Mail Eater

adorable, animal, black-and-white

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.

 

Tech Free

View of Vintage Camera

She locked all their technology away and declared they were going to have a family fun day.

 

Spring

the-silver-well-3

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

graveyard-1417871_1920.jpg

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.

Bus Jam

Aerial Photography of Cars on Road Intersection

I slide the sleeve of my black jacket up and checked my watch for the countless time then looked down the road. The huddle of people who were at the bus stop with me turned to look too. I caught a glimmer of exception on some faces but that quickly faded when they saw that there was still no bus.

Trying not to grind my teeth, I stepped back into the crowd which was a mixture of school children, parents, older adults and workers but I was the only man dressed in a business suit.

‘There should have been two buses by now!’ an angry tubby woman shouted.

‘Three,’ an older man corrected, ‘the eighty-five hasn’t turned up yet.’

‘Mummy, I’m going to be late for school!’ a small girl in a grey skirt and blue uniform jumper cried out.

I looked over. The mother, an African woman with a towering head scarf on, lengthy brown coat and a long, very brightly coloured pattern skirt looked tried. She was half leaning on the double buggy which had months old twin boys almost stacked on top of each other. Behind her, six more children-four girls and two boys, wearing the same school uniform, played on the grass.

The little girl tugged her mother’s coat. The woman muttered and sent her to play with the other children.

Someone tutted at my elbow and I turned back to see a supermarket worker scrolling through his phone.

I checked my watch again. Time hadn’t moved. I grounded my teeth together, caught myself and stopped.

Looking up I saw cars lining the road. Their drivers tapping the wheel or dropping their hands out of sight. One woman was even putting on lipstick. Then the traffic began moving again, the lights further ahead had changed colour.

‘Look a bus!’ a high school girl cried.

Everyone twisted their heads to look and there just peeking around the corner was the front of the bus.

People flew into a flurry. Pushing each other, getting out their purses, money, bus passes. The children raced back from the grass, pressing against their mother and the pram. Someone dropped their phone, but the sound of it hitting the pavement was lost in the babble of voices and mixture of movement.

The traffic crawled to a stop. The crowd sighed like a deflating balloon and became still again.

‘Which one is it?’ the old man asked.

‘I think it’s a seventeen,’ the same girl answered.

‘Pah! Not the one I want!’ he grumbled.

It wasn’t the one I wanted either but it would get me into the city centre of Manchester. I checked my watch again and the hands had crept around. With a sinking feeling, I realised no matter what I was going to be late to my new job again. I needed a car! Or maybe a motorbike? Perhaps, a bicycle would be better? At least my mother wouldn’t have to worry about me as much with one of those.

The traffic moved on and finally the bus pulled up. Everyone charged up as the doors opened. People getting off and on mixed together then broke free of each other. I squeezed on, waving my pass then I saw the bus was totally full.

There was nowhere for me to go as there was a blockade of people before me. I tried to look over them to see if there was any seats, but there appeared not to be. The way to the stairs was also blocked, a mother had her three children pressed into the stairwell.

‘I’m sorry but you won’t get that pram on here,’ the bus driver shouted.

I turned, my hands slipping over the cold blue metal handrail. The African family were trying to get on. The mother was rocking the buggy back, causing the front wheels to lift and her sea of children were all ready on and huddling against the other passengers.

‘Hey, excuse me! No room! Stop!’ the bus driver shouted loudly.

The woman looked up, balancing the front wheels of the pram on the floor of the bus.

‘You’ll have to get the next bus. I’m sorry.’

The woman said something under her breath that sounded like it was in a different language. She slowly reversed the pram and yelled at her children in English, ‘get off! Come over here! Tilly, come!’

The children, like tumbling puppies got off the bus and clustered around her. The little girl who really wanted to go to school burst into tears. Two of the boys started fighting and the other girls walked back to the grass again.

The doors of the bus closed and we left the family and a few other people behind us.

I clung to the handrail, though there was no need really, the press of bodies against mine was enough to keep me stable. I shut my eyes tried hard not to think about who’s fingers had just brushed my hip and who’s elbow had bumped into my bag.

Taking deep breaths, I thought about over things, like what I was going to say to my supervisor, what I might grab for lunch today, if I’d get the guts to talk to that pretty blonde a few desks away from me.

First though, I had to get through this.

Flames

flame

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/)

You Can Never Know

black-and-white, cars, city

I sit in my car on the other side of the street and I monitor your house. It’s a busy night were cars driving past, pulling up and leaving. For a few minutes, I think I’ve got the wrong address. Did you move? Or maybe you’ve never lived here? But then the door opens and you step out.

I see you turn to say something into the house then you shut the door and began walking. I know it’s you, even in the orange light from the streetlamps. You look so much like her and yet not. My mind begins thinking about how things could have been as it does so often. I always wanted a daughter and you could have so easily been mine.

I let your mum go though and you with her. It was better that way, better for us all, but who really says that would have been so?

I want to get out of the car and chase after you. I want to grab your hand in mine and say, ‘I’m your father! The man who brought you up wasn’t really him. Your mother had an affair before her wedding night but she still choice him. Her and I knew the truth though and now I want you to know that too.’

And what will you reply? That I’m joking? A liar? I’ve got the wrong person?

Perhaps.

In my head though, you look at me and see the similarities between us. You cry out, ‘father!’ We hug and our lives become more filled because we have each other.

I can’t do it though. As much as I want to, I know it’d ruin your life and the memory of you mum. So, I stay sat in the car.

The Perfect Photo

animal, close-up, macro

Sitting underneath the gazebo in a camping chair, Martin watched the snow falling. He was wrapped up heavily in woollen clothes and insulating underwear, but he could still feel the chill of the frozen air. In his hands and resting in his lap was a massive digital camera. It was currently off as a result of his frustrations.

From where he was sat, Martin could see very little of the park and gardens that surrounded him. He had picked this quiet corner to set up so that he would get the best photographs. Small trees covered with a thin layer of snow and bushes give him a good background. Whilst the patch of snow dusted grass give a good foreground. However, the centre of the photo was missing.

Martin sighed and checked his watch. He had been waiting three hours now and he had not even seen a flicker of a red squirrel. All that had been to the food he had scattered about was a few birds. And though the robin, blackbird and blue tits had been nice photos, it really was the main star he wanted.

Martin let his thoughts drift and of all the memories to select, he recalled one of his grandma and him watching birds in her garden from her greenhouse. He was about ten and all ready a keen photographer. That afternoon though, he was just watching and looking through a large book on birds.

‘There’s the robin,’ his grandma had pointed out.

He had looked up to the bird table and watched the robin hopping around. Then he had gone back to the book and flipped the pages. There were large drawings of British birds in full colour and close ups of wing markings. Detailed descriptions followed in small writing.

‘He out shines all other garden birds, you know,’ grandma added.

‘Why?’ his younger self had asked.

‘Because of his nature,’ grandma had replied.

Martin coming back from the memory wondered what he had replied and what else grandma had said. He could not think of it, though he was sure there was more to that memory.

Looking out on the patch of grass, he saw more birds pecking at the peanuts he had placed down. He turned on his camera and took a few photos. Then the birds took flight, battling against a flurry of large snowflakes.

It’s too cold today, Martin thought, probably the reason why I’ve had no luck.

Sighing, he looked up at the snow falling and decided to pack up and go home.