Rocking

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I had a dream about a rocking horse burning. I stepped through a door into a nursery and there under the window, where sunlight blazed in was a large white rocking horse. He had a grey mane and tail, grey spots on his side and an open red mouth. He had a leather saddle and reins.

If it wasn’t for the bowed wood his hooves were upon, he might have been mistake for a real horse. As it was he was made of wood and paint; a child’s toy. When he rocked there was a loud creaking sound and the floorboards underneath him squeaked.

I wanted to go over and touch him but then the sun seemed to shine blinding bright and flames sparked up. The rocking horse was vanished under red, orange and yellow fire. The wood crackled, the paint peeled away and the leather blackened.

The urge to save the horse grow but I couldn’t move. The whole nursery became alight and I had to escape but I couldn’t. There was crying and shouting, the fire and smoke blurring the sounds. I didn’t understand that I had gone but I had.

The dream haunted me for nights until I had to figure it out. I couldn’t just be a random thing it was some kind of memory. I looked it up online and found that in the 1874, there had been a girl who died in a nursery fire which had started when the sun shinning too hotly on the back of a rocking horse had caught fire.

How could I have know such a thing?

Burn

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The world burns, trees die and smoke chokes the air. We die alongside but we shall raise from the ashes.

 

(Please help to stop the fires in Australia; https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1224506/Australia-fires-what-can-i-do-how-to-help-Australia-fires)

Marshmallows

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We played in the snow, rosy cheeks and numb fingers. At the fire, we roasted marshmallows. The air coated with burnt sugar.

Balefire #WritePhoto

The child rubbed her eyes as smoke from the fire began to irritate her. In blurred vision, she saw dark shapes moving around the orange-red fire. The figures were dancing slowly in time with the movement of the tips of the flames which sent flickering embers into the night sky.

The child shouldn’t be here. Her parents had told her no and left her with grandma. She had escaped as soon as granny fell sleep in front of the white noise displaying TV. The child had never been out this late but she had come to find out a truth she all ready knew within her heart.

From her hiding spot under a spiky bush, the child heard the rise and fall of voices. At first she couldn’t make out what they saying then she realised it was not English being spoken. It was another language, one from the deep past that belong to ancient peoples.

Lulled by the song and tried, the child fell sleep. She had nightmares, swirls of black and red shadows trying to grip her but she couldn’t escape because the fire blocked her at every turn. Smoke got into her eyes and blinded her, it filled her mouth when she tried to scream. Something grabbed her legs, dragging her into a hole that opened up in the ground.

The child woke and was disoriented. Slowly, she crawled out from the bush and went towards the dying fire. The people were gone now, fading into the night as if they had never been. The sky above was becoming lighter but rain clouds were gathering.

Looking into the last of the flames, the child picked up an un-burnt stick. She knew, somehow what had gone on last night. Touching the stick into the fire, she waited till it began to burn then removed it.

Waving the stick in the air, the child said aloud, ‘I won’t be a dark witch. I will be a white witch.’

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/10/24/thursday-photo-prompt-balefire-writephoto/ with thanks).

Beyond the Gates #CCC

Charlie stood before the ornate gates. Her fingers on the cold metal bars as she looked at the pathway poking out of the overgrown nature.

She rattled the gates, not expecting them to open but they did. Fitting through, she walked to the burnt remains of a manor house.

Wondering what happened, Charlie picked up a piece of half burnt wood and felt a chill on her back. There was no wind and no one else here but she heard a woman’s whispering voice say, ‘you should not have come here.’

 

(Inspired by; https://crispinakemp.com/2019/10/23/crimsons-creative-challenge-50/ with thanks).

Read

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I opened my book, slipped the leather marker out of the pages and looked at the chapter heading. Straight away I remembered where I was up to and eagerly began reading.

The phone rang. I looked up and listened to the shrill tone. Abandoned my book with a sign, I got up to answer it.

‘Hello?’ a man’s voice with an Indian accent asked, ‘I’m calling from your internet provider. We are going to cut your internet off.’

‘I don’t have the internet,’ I answered.

‘You don’t?’

‘I’m eighty-eight! I’ve no interested in such things!’

He hung up.

I put the phone down and went back to my favourite armchair. I curled up again and picked up my book. Where was I? Even without my bookmark jammed in between the pages, I could easily tell.

I begin reading again. I got through a few pages but then the door bell rang.

I rolled my eyes and got up. It was a delivery man asking me to take a parcel in for next door. That all sorted, I got back to my book.

I only had a few chapters to go and I really wanted to know if the soon to be married young lovers would discover they were actually brother and sister!

The sound of crows crying loudly, brought my head up. I looked out the window and saw two crows fighting over the bird food I had put out yesterday. They were having a right go at each other.

I wasn’t a fan of big birds, so I went out and scared them off. I waved one of the walking sticks at them and the crows got the message. Black wings beat loudly and flew over the fence. I looked at the darkening sky. It was going to rain soon and it was getting colder.

I went back in, heard the clock chime and realised it was almost time for something to eat. I put one of the frozen ready meals in the oven and whilst it cooked I made and lit the fire.

The crackling of the flames on the logs and the smell of fragrant smoke were comforting.

I eased back into the armchair and began reading again.

The timer went off and I had my meal. After I got a cup of tea and tried once again to finish my book.

The door bell went – next door come to get their parcel.

The phone rang – my daughter checking up on me. Reminding me about the trip to the garden centre tomorrow.

The fire needed other few logs.

I drank my tea, read my book and finally relaxed as it was night now and nobody would disturb me. I could finally finish!

Or not….two chapter to go and lulled by the fire, I fell sleep.

Burning River #WhatPegmanSaw

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The waters of the Ganges lapped at the edge of Varanasi city’s western bank. Fires rose on the burnt ground, the flames reflected in the river like the rays of the setting sun. The smell of burnt flesh, cloth and wood chocked the air making the mixed spice fragrances of the markets seem lost in the past.

From the distant boat, I watch men bring my relative’s body down to wash in the river. I wasn’t allowed to go because it was believed women make the event more sorrowful but I had want to see this ancient tradition.  

 

(Inspired by; https://whatpegmansaw.com/2019/05/25/varanasi-india/ with thanks).

Lorn (Part 1) #AtoZChallenge

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Lorn; lost, ruined or undone. 

The house was ruined. Caleb stood in the doorway, his hands running over the damp and rotting wood. He tried hard to remember the home his grandpa had once lived in but he had only visited a few times as a baby and toddler. Now, the house was Caleb’s but he didn’t know what to do with it.

‘Is it bad?’ his girlfriend’s voice asked from behind him.

‘Looks it,’ Caleb answered.

Beth poked her head in, her mess of red curly hair tied high in a bun tickling Caleb’s arm as she had ducked underneath him. Her nose wrinkled at the smell, she pulled a disgusted face then smoothed it out into a sad expression.

Caleb moved his arm, bring it over and down to go around her back. He curled his fingers around her side and held Beth for a few moments. He shut his eyes on the scene then felt Beth stroking his flop of black hair and trailing her fingers down to his cheek.

‘We don’t have to go in,’ Beth spoke quietly.

‘I need to. I want to see if anything is left before the builders come,’ Caleb answered, ‘better be careful where we step,’ he added.

Testing the bare floorboards, he stepped carefully inside and keeping close to the wall. He held out his hand and helped Beth across. Together they went into what had been a living room. The damage from the flood and vandals was worse then Caleb could have imagined, even though the lawyer had prepared them for it.

A dirty, water line about four foot up the wall ran around the room, marking the height of the flood. Wallpaper was peeling or had fallen off, plaster clumps lay about and in some parts the red bricks could be seen peering out of holes in the walls. The windows were boarded up, expect for one which was missing glass and allowing light into the miserable room.

Broken pieces of rotting furniture stuck up from the sinking floor like the arms of drowning men asking to be saved. Caleb and Beth’s feet knocked and tripped over wood, fabric bundles, glass and electric wires. Some parts of the floor giving a warning creak, making them change direction to avoid falling through.

‘I wish I could have done something,’ Caleb whispered.

‘There was nothing you could have done,’ Beth said.

Caleb kicked an empty drawer and spotted something underneath. It was a photograph. Badly water damaged but Caleb could see himself as a baby being held by his grandpa. With a flicker of a smile, he turned to show Beth.

‘He looks like you,’ she responded, ‘same crazy hair!’

‘Yeah’ Caleb said with a hint of laughter.

‘Maybe, there’ll be some more baby photos round?’ Beth wonder and she inspected the floor hopefully.

‘I doubt it. Mum didn’t bother taking many and none of the foster people had any contact with Grandpa. My adopted parents did but they would have sent high school photos,’ Caleb explained.

‘Oh,’ Beth uttered.

She stopped looking and wiped her dirty hands on the old pair of jeans she wore. She avoided looking at Caleb, hating to see him upset by the bad memories of his past.

‘Nothing else here,’ Caleb said.

He slipped the photo into his pocket and carried on his walk through.

In the kitchen, everything that wasn’t nailed down was gone. The three remaining cupboards were empty, doors hanging off. A dark flood line ran around the walls and the floor had been dug up, the plastic lino ripped back expose how bad the water had leaked through. The window and back door were boarded up, but someone had kicked it in.

Beth went to the door and swung it back and forth. It let out a squeal as the wooden board scrapped the floor.

‘Probably, squatters,’ Caleb spoke, ‘though why they’d want to stay here is beyond me.’

‘Better then the streets, I guess. Warmer and drier,’ Beth suggested.

‘Maybe, but still.’

Caleb went over and had a look at securing the door whilst Beth stepped into the over grown garden. It was hard to tell how big it was because of the tangle of bushes and plants. Rising above was an apple tree, budding with new leaves in the spring sunshine.

‘This could be nice….Needs a lot of work…’ Beth trailed.

‘Everything needs work,’ Caleb huffed.

‘Leave it. The builders will sort it tomorrow.’

Taking a deep breath, Caleb abandoned the door and walked through an open archway into the dinning room which then led into a second living room. All the wall paper had been torn off and someone had been knocking into the walls. Caleb looked at the exposed pipes as he walked over plaster and window glass.

In the second living room, Caleb went over to a bookcase in the corner. The shelves had been taken out and most of the books because someone had used them to start a small fire with in the middle of the room. There were three books left on the bookcase; Medieval History Uncovered, Knights Of The Middle-Ages and Myths and Legends of Britain. Caleb picked them up and saw they still looked readable, despite a covering of dust.

‘Grandpa liked history,’ Caleb shouted.

‘But you said you didn’t know him,’ Beth said from the connecting archway.

She walked though and joined him, edging around the remains of the black ash from the fire.

Caleb showed her the books, ‘Look okay to keep,’ he added.

‘I don’t mind. It’s good to save books,’ Beth said and she took them from him.

‘They could have burnt the whole place down,’ Caleb pointed out as he moved to inspect the damage in the centre of the room.

He toed a half burnt book and the pages crumpled.

‘This house has survived so much; water and fire, the elements, people,’ Beth voiced, ‘and now you want to save it instead of knocking it down.’

‘The money is there to save it,’ Caleb reminded her, ‘and once it’s done we can live here. Our five years of trying to save for, find and buy a house is over.’

‘And your past?’ Beth asked timidly, looking down at the books.

‘I’ll deal with it,’ Caleb replied.

He moved over and hugged her, resting his chin on top of her head. He could feel Beth shaking slightly and worried she was going to cry, he tightened the hug and kissed her forehead.

‘Don’t worry about me. Think about what you can do with the house.’

Beth nodded, sniffing a little and crushing the books to her breasts.

‘Let’s go upstairs. The flood didn’t get up there, so maybe some stuffed survived.’

 

To Be Continued…

Midnight Flames #FridayFictioneers

When the police and firemen arrived, I lied; ‘I didn’t know how the fire started. I can’t do anything with this broken arm!’

The young constable flipped through his notebook and replied, ‘you called four days ago and report your husband for domestic abuse. You give a statement and he was arrested.’

I nodded, distracted by the firemen damping down the blaze. One of them pulled out bits of charred shirt and inspected it. Another picked up a blacken wedding photograph in a smashed frame.

‘I just wanted some peace,’ I muttered, ‘there’s all I ever wanted.’

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/02/06/8-february-2019/ with thanks).

The Witches’ Pots #TwitteringTales

Three ancient hags sat around a fire, stirring their black pots which they added things too and whispered over.

‘Tail of rat dropped in this potion for a diplomat.’

‘Eyes of gnome dissolved in this lotion for Jerome.’

‘Tongue of duckling tender in this poison for the king.’

 

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2019/01/15/twittering-tales-119-15-january-2019/ with thanks).