Answers

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I know everything now, I talked with my neighbour. His wife died. Unable to sort things, he had buried her stuff in ‘graves’. Shamed, he set about digging things up and I decided to help. What else could I do? I was embarrassed about over my thoughts and actions.

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Unearthing

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I had to know what my neighbour had buried. I broke into his garden when he was out and dug into the newly disturbed soil. The hole was deep. Two hours later, I found the sheet and opened it up. Inside was not as my wild imagination had been picturing….

Questioning

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The neighbour was digging again, shifting soil from the bottom of his garden. He had a wheelbarrow this time and there was something big wrapped in a sheet falling over the edges. The clock read three-thirty AM. I’m worried, should I call the police and report suspicious activity?

Digging

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My neighbour was digging in his backyard. I know it’s a normal task, maybe he’s planting flowers or pulling up weeds but you see, it’s three AM and that to me is not the time to go and do a spot of gardening, so what’s he up to?

Small #WritePhoto

an old, carved stone whose recesses are stuffed with red and black ladybirds.

It was a too hot summer afternoon, so I had taken toddler Ava into a shady patch of the lower garden. We sat on the grass, in the dappled shadow of an oak tree which rose up over the reminds of the old family chapel.

Whilst Ava played with some of her toys, I looked at the fallen stone walls and large pieces of stone decor. It was hard to imagine what the chapel had once looked like but I had seen some photos and though it had been small it had been a splendid place.

On the other side of the chapel, out of sight down a sloping hill and nested around three willow trees, was the family cemetery. Every Bartlett was buried there and when her time came, Ava would be too.

I on the other hand, just a nanny, would be buried in the village church graveyard where all the other past servants of Bartlett Manor where.

‘Look! What’s it!’ Ava cried.

I turned, frowning and  saw the three year old pointing to one of the decorative stones. Picking her up, we went for a closer look.

Crowding into the nooks of what might have been a corner stone of the outside ceiling with a now moss covered leave like pattern on it, with hundreds of small ladybirds.

Ava squealed and tried to stick her fingers into the crawling mass. I grabbed her hand and pulled it back.

‘They are only baby ladybirds,’ I explained.

‘Lay-d-burs,’ Ava tried to pronounce.

I laughed at her and clapped her hands together as I sang;

‘Ladybird, ladybird,
Fly away home,
Your house is on fire
And your children all gone;
All except one
And that’s little Ann,
And she has crept under
The warming pan.’

We laughed together then carried on watching the ladybirds.

‘What lay-d-burs doing?’ Ava asked.

‘Napping. Like you should be doing,’ I replied.
Ava pulled a face and began to make a fuss. I quickly settled her down on the picnic blanket and started to read some fairy tales to her.
The heat and tiredness got to her and she was soon asleep.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/06/06/thursday-photo-prompt-choices-writephoto/ with thanks).

Ladybird nursery rhyme quote from; https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46960/ladybird-ladybird

Meow

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Beth heard a cat meowing and hurried into the garden, Was that Shadow calling because he was hungry? Beth’s eyes fell onto the small pile of turned up soil at the bottom of the garden and she remembered, he was gone.

Invitation #WritePhoto

It was a last stab at things. Pulling up outside the gates, I looked at my Sat Nav telling me I had reached my destination. The scene around me looked like something out of The Secret Garden. There were trees and bushes growing wild, moss covering everything, a sense of abandonment and wild beauty.

I got out the car and smelt the air, it was fresh this afternoon and flowers were just being to open. I went to the wooden gate, there were no signs or locks, it opened easily enough. The stone pillars ether side were badly weathered and moss covered, but some of the carved designs could still be seen.

I turned the stone, felt coldness and grit under my fingers. I questioned if I was in the right place. Maybe this was just a decorative gate that led nowhere? Just like the single track lane I was now standing on. I wouldn’t know if I didn’t walk on.

I stepped through the gates and with difficult walk down a half hidden path which was really over grown. Once through, I came out at the bottom of a field? I looked and realised it was actually a huge lawn which rolled down a hill on top of which sat a large looking manor house.

There was no path now, so I trekked up the lawn and arrived breathless and sweating at the side of the house. Catching my breath, I really hoped there was a better way up to this place. Scaling all of that in my wedding dress wasn’t going to be good!

I walked around and came to the front of the house. There were large, flat white steps leading up to a double wooden door in a archway and other side were massive vases of flowers. It was a perfect place for wedding party photos.

The driveway was huge, a half circle with lots of parking and there were a few cars all ready here. There were open iron gates at the end, leading to a wide road which seemed to fade under the trees.

I heard the door opening behind me and I turned feeling guilty and nervous as if I had been caught doing something. I tried to stay calm as a woman in her mid-to late forties, wearing a very fitted business suit and greying hair tight in a bun, came out of the house.

‘Miss Sadie Laker?’ she asked.

I nodded.

‘Mrs Rose Crompton,’ she announced and came down the steps to meet me.

We shook hands and I felt more at ease. We had spoken on the phone yesterday, Rose was the manager of the house and a descendent of the current owners who’s family had lived here for three hundred odd years.

‘Did you find the place okay?’ Rose asked.

‘Yes. It looks so perfect,’ I spoke, ‘thank you for this. You’ve saved my wedding day.’

‘It’s all fine,’ Rose said, waving my words away like dust, ‘it was lucky we had a cancellation! Unlike you though and your venue being double booked, the couple decided not to go through with things.’

‘Shame.’

There was a pause and I knew she was staying at me but I didn’t know what else to say.

‘Where is your car?’ Rose asked me, ‘you didn’t walk all the way up here from the road did you?’

‘Erm, no. I think I missed the turning and came through a side entrance,’ I explained.

‘Ah. I think there’s something in your hair….’

I touched my hair, embarrassment flaring and pulled out a few leaves.

Rose smiled and turned back to the house.

I crumpled the leaves, let them fall and joined her going up the steps.

The rooms for the wedding where lovely, actually lots better then the venue I had chosen originally. By the time I left, I know my dream wedding was going to happen two weeks today. Trekking back to my car, there was only one thing left to do now; resend the wedding invitations with the new venue address on them.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/02/28/thursday-photo-prompt-invitation-writephoto/ with thanks).

Fragrant #WritePhoto

When all her tasks were done and the Big house was busy with other things, Nanny liked to take the children for a long walk. In the winter and autumn months the time spent outside depended on the weather and the fussiness of the six children. In spring and summer, whole days could be spent in the vast gardens.

Elizabeth the oldest at fourteen did not like her hair and dresses getting wet and muddy. Often, she would take shelter in one of the many alcoves and read romantic fiction. In contrast her twin brothers; Henry and George aged ten, loved getting as dirty as possible. They would scamper through gardens left wild, splash in the brook and hunt for bugs. Getting those two back inside was a trying time for Nanny.

Mary, seven, and Anne, five, liked picking flowers to make necklaces, crowns and give as bunches to people. This was highly frowned upon by the gardeners! Whilst the youngest, two year old, James, would sit in his pram or on a blanket and try to join in with his siblings play.

Nanny would find nice comfortable seats to rest on and she would knit, sew, read, join in with games and sometimes nap in the hazy heat of the afternoon. Nanny liked the fragrant scents of jasmine and roses, her favorite though was lavender because it was so calming.

The children liked to bring Nanny handfuls of lavender whenever she was cross at them. Nanny in return would use dried lavender in bedding and clothes to keep things fresh.

As the children grew up and left the Big house to led their own lives, the smell of lavender always reminded them of time spent in the garden with their Nanny.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/01/31/thursday-photo-prompt-fragrant-writephoto/ with thanks).

 

 

Mossy #CCC

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Something attracted me to the stone bull statue in the antique shop so I decided to buy it. The age couldn’t be pined down, 1900’s area maybe and where it had originally stood was lost too but judging by the moss the bull had spent sometime outside.

I searched for a history but couldn’t find one, perhaps there was none? I stuck him in my garden and he seemed fine guarding over my flowers. I wondered if the local cats would be scared, thinking he was a dog and finally stay away.

(Inspired by; https://crimsonprose.wordpress.com/2019/01/30/crimsons-creative-challenge-12/ with thanks).

Crow Song #FirstLineFriday

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It sounded like birds were being murdered, the noise of their cries was that loud. I opened the blinds on the kitchen window which looked out onto the back garden. There on the lawn were four large crows fighting each other.

I had no idea what to make of it, other then they were fighting over food. It was too late in autumn for them to be mating. I knew nothing of birds though, nor put any food out for them. I was aware my neighbours did though, so perhaps that’s why they were attracted to my garden?

A half reminded, old poem came into my mind; one for sorrow, two for mirth or joy, three for a boy and four for a girl. Wasn’t that how it went? I couldn’t remember, it was something grandma sung. It didn’t matter.

I didn’t like the birds fighting out there and making all that noise. I went to the back door, calling my cat as I did so. He was old and lazy now but the sight of him might spook the birds into flight. I unlocked and opened the door, the cat came slowly towards me.

We stepped out almost together and the birds saw us both. Their horrible calling screeched upwards as if they were unhappy to be disturbed from their argument. One of them took flight, large black wings beating and the others quickly followed.

‘Make sure they don’t come back,’ I told the cat, ‘damn birds.’

I hobbled back inside, my knees aching and my chest heaving. It had been worth the pain to stop that racket. I settled into my arm chair, relaxing into the peace. I shut my eyes and began to drift off, exhausted all ready.

A tap tap on the window, stirred me. I didn’t want to awake but it could be important. The nurse coming to check up on me or my daughter visiting. I opened my eyes, moved my almost ninety year old body and looked towards the front window where the tapping sound was continuing.

A large crow was sat on the window sill outside, tapping it’s sharp beck against the glass.

 

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2018/10/12/first-line-friday-october-11th-2018/ with thanks).