The Basement (Part 2)

Woman in Black Walking in Hallway

(Please be aware this story contains adult sexual content.) 

Unhappily, I followed Raven out of the living room and into the front hallway. A cold breeze was now circling the house, causing more smells to mingle in the air; old leather, wood vanish, dusty fabric and a faint hit of cinnamon. A door somewhere was creaking above us and something else was rattling gently.

Beside the front door, two of the moving men were bent down, picking up pans and other kitchen things. The plastic box the items had scattered from had been dropped to one side. The men were rudely shoving things back in.

‘Did anything break?’ Raven called, striding over.

‘Not sure,’ came a mumbled voice.

I sighed and tried to quieten my growing anger.

‘It’s fine, love, we got it,’ one of them said as Raven tried to help.

She ignored them and began stacking things back in right. They tried hard not to watch her, but I saw them. I stood guard, eyeing the men like a guard dog until they give up and left Raven to it.

‘It’s fine,’ she announced.

Flicking her hair over her shoulder, she shot me a smile.

It did little to cool my anger though. I picked up the box and carried it around the grand staircase and into the kitchen at the back.

The original kitchen had been build for the bustle of six or more servants. It was a vast rectangle space with a large fireplace in the far corner which was home to a monster of an aga. To the left of which was a small door for the servants to use. Ahead was a large table and chairs. Boxes were all ready taking up most of the room upon it.

Along the walls on either side of us and the right one were blue and grey granite worktops and cupboards. Black and grey modern appliances including a gas cooker and oven were slotted in or on them. Two more doors were in the corner, one was the back door and I think the other led into a utilities room.

I walked in and placed my box by the double metal sink with work tops either side and a window above. The blinds were drawn and I opened them to give more light and also to see the view outside. A long strip of grass framed by tall hedges was all I could see but I knew beyond it there were acres of land and also something else…

‘I got another surprise for you, Raven,’ I spoke softly.

‘Oh?’ she asked and looked up from a box she had been sorting through.

‘Do you have the key for the back door?’ I asked.

She looked down at the ring of keys she had placed on the table. She pressed her lips together and almost went to pick them up.

‘Can it wait till after? I want to make sure nothing else gets dropped,’ Raven said in a quiet voice.

From the hallway we heard the loud voices of the moving men again and the rustle of them bring more stuff in.

I nodded and turned away, so I could hide my disappointment. How many years had I been planning this moment and now it was ruined by moving men! I had wanted this to be as special as our wedding…

Raven wrapped her arms around me and pressed her head into the back of my shoulder.

‘What is it?’ she breathed in my ear.

‘Nothing,’ I responded.

‘Tell,’ she pressed.

She reached up on tip toes and lend into me. I felt her breath, brush of her lips and nip of her teeth in my ear lope.

‘No,’ I half moaned, half hissed.

She bit harder, ‘Crow,’ she growled.

‘I swear,’ I squeezed out through gritted teeth.

Raven’s biting was passing from pleasurable to painful.

She let go and dropped back down. I turned and wrapped my arms around her, trying to keep composed. My wife knew better though. She pressed into me, fixing me with a hard glare.

‘It’s just,’ I began, ‘I wanted this to be special.’

Shrugging, I looked over her shoulder as I saw movement in the hallway.

One of the moving men barged in, dropped a box on the floor and left again.

Raven patted me.

‘They’ll be gone soon enough,’ she whispered.

The moving men couldn’t have left any faster if they had tried. They seemed to carry on forever with their loud voices and banging. Luckily, they didn’t drop anything but they noise echoed through the house anyway.

Raven and I busied ourselves with emptying the hearse and setting up the master bedroom she had picked to be ours. I helped her make the bed but then stayed clear of it, because the urges to have some fun were too strong. I put clothes away in the wardrobes and drawers. The furniture was old maybe a close to a hundred years and though it all fitted the room it was not originals.

The room was huge, three times the size our’s had been in the apartment we had rented. A wooden four poster bed, complete with dark red velvet canopy and curtains dominated the room. On either side were dark oak bedside tables, which had lamps in an old fashioned style on them. A fire place took up the middle of the left wall, but it had been converted into ornamental then working. Then there were wardrobes and drawers on the left.  Lastly, large windows were in the far wall and they looked over the driveway and front garden.

Closing the wardrobe, I drifted about as Raven placed more things away. I went to the window and looked out. The afternoon was still clear, but it was beginning to switch to evening. Time was running out for my other surprise.

‘I’m going to see how the men are doing,’ I spoke, ‘you coming?’

‘Sure,’ Raven answered and she closed the lid of the large bedding box at the foot of the bed.

We headed down the corridor and stairs together. The moving men were gathered in the hallway as if they were waiting for us. Just like servants presenting themselves to the master and Mrs. Finally it seemed they had finished.

‘Just need you to sign off, Chief,’ the leader called me over.

I gladly went and signed a receipt on a clipboard. They give me a copy then wishing us all the best, left. I closed and locked the door behind them.

‘So,’ Raven purred as she came over and wrapped her arms around me, ‘what did you want to show me?’

I hugged her and kissed her hair. I had her all to myself now.

‘Crow?’ she asked and kissed me on the cheek.

‘You got the keys?’ I asked.

She nodded and jiggled the bunch.

I took her hand and led her to the kitchen. Through the mass of boxes we went and to the back door.

‘Which key?’ she wondered.

‘Just use the skeleton one,’ I suggested and pointed out the biggest key.

She used it and the back door opened. We walked out into the early evening. I closed the door behind us and then tugging her, broke into a jog. Raven laughed, her grip on my hand tightening as I raced for the gap in the hedges. Branches scratched at us as we pushed through then without pause, even though I heard Raven gasp at the sight of the gardens spreading before us, I rushed to the left and took her along the hedge.

A few minutes of running and I had to slow down to catch my breath. Raven bumped into me, laughing and also breathing hard.

‘Where are we going?’ she cried out.

‘To there,’ I said and pointed to a hill in the distance.

Raven looked hard, but all we could see was the outline of a fence.

‘How much of this land do we own?’ she asked.

‘Lots of it,’ I said, ‘it’s in the contract somewhere.’

Raven pouted thoughtfully.

I started walking again, seeing that the sky above was dusky but also overcast. Raven slipped her hand into mine and we fell silent.

We went through a patchwork of gardens and plots. Most were boarded by tall hedges or bushes, making each area private. We came to an open stretch and the hill was just off to our right. I took Raven up, along a half hidden pathway, to a set of small black gates.

‘Oh!’ she cried, spotting the headstones behind the fence.

Her face lit up and just as she had done on first seeing the house, she pressed herself to the fence and looked excitedly across.

I slipped the keys from her and unlocked the gate.

‘They came with the house,’ I explained.

I opened the gate and Raven hurried in. She darted around the headstones and went to the family mausoleum at the back. The square squat building with its black glossy stone walls, stood out. I followed her, knowing to keep my distance, Raven hated being disturbed whilst she was looking around graveyards and cemeteries.

She came back and threw her arms around me in a suffocating hug.

‘This is a amazing!’ she shouted.

I laughed and squeezed back.

‘There’s also a pet graveyard in the woods just through there. I don’t know how much of the woods we own though…There’s also a little church too, further that way….You can just see the steeple…’ I pointed.

We both looked together, through the tall trees we could make out an iron cross.

‘What more could we have asked for?’ Raven breathed.

I shrugged and added, ‘there’s an ice house way way back, double garage close by the house and stables a bit further back too. We only own one of the small cottages though.’

Raven looked at me with big eyes and waited for me to go on.

I searched my mind, trying hard to remember what the agent had told me. ‘The cottages were built for the servants and their families, early nineteen hundreds. I think. They were sold off sometime ago or given to the families. They have the little plot of land around their houses too. There’s maybe ten cottages, dotted around at the edges of our land. We own the first one; the grounds keeper’s.’

Raven sighed and kissed me, ‘you did a lot of hard work, getting this didn’t you?’

‘Yes. It’s worth it though seeing your face,’ I stated.

I gently angled Raven’s face up to mine and kissed her hard on the lips.

‘Let’s go back to the house,’ she said huskily.

All other thoughts went out of my head.

To Be Continued….

The Basement (Part 1)

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(Please be aware this story contains adult sexual content.) 

The new house was perfect. I know nothing can actually be a hundred percent perfect, but God this place was for us! As we pulled up outside the black Gothic cemetery style gates, the two moving vans slowed behind us and I finally let my wife, Raven, take off the blindfold.

‘You can look now,’ I whispered in the husky voice I use to seduce her in the bedroom.

She giggled a little and pulled the blindfold down so it wouldn’t mess up her long pink and purple streaked curled black hair. I watched her closely as she looked first out of the screen window of the converted hearse then the passenger window. She gasped, her face lit up and she sprang from the car.

‘Oh my God! Really? You got it? It’s our’s? she gushed, the words tripping over each other as they passed her black painted lips.

I got out of the car. Even though I could happily have stared at her large nicely rounded bum in her favourite tight black leather skirt for longer. I wanted to see her face. I came to her side, rested against the hearse and put my arm around her.

‘Yes,’ I answered.

‘Oh, Crow!’ she cried and threw her arms around my neck.

I was suffocated in a tight hug with her breathing hard in my ear. I squeezed her back, loving the feel of her weight in my arms and the softness of her black velvet Victorian frock coat under my fingers.

She moved her head and kissed me hard on the lips. Our noses mushing together. I didn’t let her withdraw but pressed more against her, desperate to be inside her mouth. My hands dropped to her bum, my fingers grasping her leather skirt and pinning her body to mine.

I felt a slice of coldness against my back as Raven tugged the edges of my black heavy metal German band t-shirt up and slipped her hands into the waist band of my black jeans. I had thrown my leather jacket in the car before we had set off. It was a typical warm but wet English summer.

I parted her lips with the tip of my tongue and pressed harder against her lips. Our tongues meet and years of practise let us rub and twist tongues without getting tangled in each other’s piecing. I heard Raven let out a little moan and the urge to remove the barriers of our clothes grew.

A loud coughing came from to the right of us and I had to ease off. I shot a disgruntled glance at the moving men. How dare they interrupt my surprise! Raven wiggled against me and I released my tight hold. Whilst I sighed and shot the men a few more unhappy looks, my wife caught her breath then rushed to the tall gates and wrapped her fingers around the iron bars. She pressed her face close and looked up like a child in pure wonder.

Fighting the urge to run to her and grab her from behind, I walked down the side of the hearse and opened the back passenger door. It was crammed with small cardboard and plastic boxes which contained precious things we couldn’t trust with the removal men. The long back space of the hearse was just as full and there were also suitcases.

‘Can I have the keys?’ Raven called.

‘Of course,’ I answered.

Closing the door I walked back to her and pulled the ring keys from my tight black jeans pocket. Raven squealed softly; a cute excited child sound. I pressed the heavy, dark keys into her hands and watched her study them all.

‘This one has to be the gate key!’ she said proudly, holding up a long big black key.

She slotted it into the large lock and turned it easily. Then together we parted both of the gates. The old metal squeaked a little then settled. Before us lay a wide stone crushed driveway flanked by dead seas of grass on either side. Around the edges a low red stone brick wall ran but it was mostly covered by tall evergreen trees and bushes which hide the Gothic manor house from the road.

I took Raven’s hand and we walked up the driveway. Our new home towering over us was like a Halloween haunted house. It was  actually an classic 1800’s English building but over the years people had added to it, including an American family. The dark brown bricks had been painted black, the fancy Gothic window frames were made of iron and lead. Two small towers stuck out at the sides, their pointed roof tops piercing the sky. There was a wide porch area with a black fence around it guarding the wooden double front doors.

Raven slipped her hand from mine and ran up the rest of the driveway. She went up the long low four stone steps and began searching for the right key to the front door.

I looked over my shoulder and saw two of the moving men, opening the gates and the others drove the vans in. The white, boxy vans looked totally out of place in a driveway made for horses and carriages.

Turning back, I went and joined Raven at the front door, trying not to let my irritation show. I should have asked them to arrive at 3pm instead of coming with us a  hour before hand. They were ruining this moment!

Raven, who didn’t seem to mind, found the key and slotted it into the keyhole. She turned it and with a glance at me, opened the door. The hinges squeaked loudly as all good haunted Gothic mansions should. Sadly, though no bats flew out at us.

Giggling, Raven reached for a rope that was tucked up beside the door. She pulled it and a loud bell give off a doom like ring that echoed through the house. Raven laughed and opened the door wider. I wished that a creepy male servant would appear and welcome us in.

Raven stepped into the hallway then began rushing from room to room. Randomly speaking out about this or that lamp or window or piece of furniture.

‘Look at this chair! The wood panelling is so good! Can you smell that? Cinnamon….Oh wow, that painting! What’s through here…’ her voice faded.

I just stood and took it all in. The air smelt a little musty but otherwise clean, a few old cobwebs still hung in the hardest to reach places. I pictured more of them soon enough and whole colonies of spiders. Raven loved them and was forever rescuing them all.

I looked up at the grand staircase which led to the first floor which was currently in darkness. I searched around and finding the light switch box turned them all on. The soft gloom that we had walked into faded and the glow of old light bulbs enriched everything.

A noise at the front door got my attention. I turned and sighed. The moving men had appeared again.

‘Right, where you be wanting all of this then?’ the leader of the group asked.

‘Wherever you want,’ I replied grumpily, ‘we’ll only have to sort it all out again.’

Leaving them, I went and found Raven. She was in one of the living rooms, looking at a bookcase crammed with old books. Her fingers were running over the leather covers, the few rings she wore making her tapping louder.

I sank down into a leather arm chair that was covered by a dust sheet. Placing my arms on the rests, feet stretched before me and head thrown back. I shut my eyes and smelled this room. The air was heavy with books of course, but also the faint scent of pipe smoke and wood polish.

‘How did you do it, Crow?’ Raven uttered, her voice soft and sexy.

I felt her fingers brushing my hair and face.

‘It was hard,’ I sighed, ‘but I wanted to do it for you. For us.’

Raven eased herself into my lap. I smiled, loving the weight of her plump, curvy frame. I wrapped my arms around her and she started playing with my long black hair. Twice she caught the dangling skull and cross bone in my ear and had to untangle a strand of hair.

‘Must have been a lot of money,’ she spoke into my neck.

‘It was….lots of loans and favours. Don’t worry about it. I promised you I’d give you whatever you wanted,’ I replied.

‘But this house! This actual house! The one we dream of for so long but knew we never could have! How did you persuade the owners?’

I grinned, lend in close and kissed her cheek. I breathed into her ear then whispered, ‘I sold my soul to the Devil.’ At the same time, I slipped my hands down her back  and grabbed her bum.

Raven jumped and cried out. Then laughing, she playfully hit my cheek and said, ‘Crow! you didn’t!’

I laughed tossing my head back, the sight of the dark cream ceiling swim before me. Then I dropped my hand and nuzzled into her neck whilst my hands worked their way around her. I kissed her neck, pressing my lips hard against her skin. Raven moaned in my ear. My fingers trailed across her legs and underneath her skirt. A wave of warmth wrapped around my hand drawing me further in.

A loud crashing caused us both to pause. Raven’s breath caught in her throat then she let it go in a swoosh as we both looked towards the half open door.

Swearing and the raised voices of the moving men could be heard in the hallway.

Raven let the tension go and sank back against me.

‘I hope that was nothing breakable,’ I growled.

‘Maybe, we should go see?’ Raven answered.

She kissed me and slipped from my lap.

To Be Continued…

Dead Line

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The house phone rang and because I was hard at work editing my magazine, I picked it up on auto.

‘Hello?’ I spoke.

‘Good afternoon, Mrs Guilding,’ an man with a heavy Indian accent spoke.

I frowned into the phone. A cold caller for sure. I carried on typing away, too busy to stop.

The voice continued speaking without seeming to pause for breath, ‘my name is Kevin and I am calling you from the Peoples’ Life Survey. May I ask you some household questions? It’ll only take a few minutes of your time.’

‘Sorry, I’m not interested…’ I cut in.

‘Please, Mrs. I shall make it as quick as possible,’ Kevin voice’s rushed.

I sighed. I didn’t have time for this. I went to say goodbye and hang up the phone but Kevin bet me to speaking.

‘Don’t worry!’ he said.

Then the line went dead.

Puzzled, I took my phone from my ear before pressing it back again. The dial tone beeped like a steady heartbeat. I hit the end call button and placed the phone down. I could get on with my editing again.

A strange feeling crept over me. My mind began turning over those words and making them into some sinister.

I stopped working and got up. I had been sat for about four hours. Now, my body became awake. I had to use the bathroom and get a drink, maybe some food. Walking past the window, I peered out through the blinds. Everything looked normal out there. I walked out of the study, went to the bathroom then the kitchen.

Whilst I was making coffee and a sandwich, the phone rang again.

Ah! Kevin. We must have just got cut off. There’s nothing weird going on.

I picked up the kitchen phone, fully expecting to hear his voice again. Instead all I got was a beeping sound followed by white noise.

I checked the phone out, wondering if it was something wrong with my line. Placing the phone back, I picked it up again. The dial tone was just as steady as before. Shrugging, I finished making my late lunch and went into the conservatory to eat it.

The glass room was warm and comforting. The pale walls and wicker furniture give it a summer feel though looking outside the weather had decided to rain today. Settling into the sofa, I listened to the wind and rain outside, relaxing into the silence.

The phone rang. I had sandwich in my mouth. Swallowing, I got up and answered the phone.

‘Hello?’ I spoke.

The line was fuzzy was static.

A voice broke through, ‘Kevin…The Peoples’ Life Survey…I ask you question?’

‘I’m sorry. The line is really bad,’ I responded.

‘Make it quick, yes,’ Kevin shouted.

‘No. Bye.’

I hung up the phone.

When I had finished lunch, I sat for a few more minutes and watched the rain fall. Kevin was still on my mind. What was that all about? I glanced at the phone. Willing it to ring, so I could asked him.

The phone stayed silent for the rest of the day.

Shelter

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It was the only place he could find to get out of the rain. Huddling into a corner, he made himself as warm and comfy as possible. He had already checked out the place and made sure no one else was in residence. The corner he had picked was also the best one. It was a large dry spot and he had clear views of the two doorways into the house.

He looked up and watched the rain falling in. The roof had long ago tumbled in, though the attic and floor above, creating a massive hole in the middle of the house. There were bits of roof tile, bricks, plaster and rubbish scattered around. He hadn’t seen any furniture and guessed the house had been well cleared out over the years.

He rested his head down and listened to the patter of the rain. Oddly he felt like an intruder. This had been someone’s home once. A place of love and safety. It had seemed nice too, a good place to bring up a family. Where had they gone though? What had made them move out?

Trying to dispel those thoughts- what did he care?- He settled for sleep. He began counting sheep jumping over a fence as was habit. He pictured each sheep differently as an individual as his father had taught him. Something about how that helps you fall asleep better.

With the lullaby of the rain, he fell asleep and dreamed of his childhood which he hadn’t thought about in years.

Vellichor #atozchallenge

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Vellichor; the strange wistfulness of used bookstores.

What is it about used book shops? You go, you browse, you pick up a few books, you read a few pages, sometimes you buy book/s and other times you don’t. You might stay for coffee if they  have a cafe. It’s a meeting place, a talking point, a land of discovery.

You like the smells that whiffed from the shelves; old ink, yellowing pages, dusty attic, dampness and salty tang. You like running your fingers over cracked spines and flattened leather. You like pulling random books out and seeing what they are. You wonder who the previous owner/s and why they give this book up.

You enjoy a good mystery and there is always just more then the story inside to be had. You adore supernatural and horror too; ghosts give you chills and vampires have you shaking at your knees. You love adventures to far off lands or under deep seas or high in the sky. Science fiction always makes you ponder if this is what the future will really look like even though it’s your less favourite.

If you could you’d live in the used book shops. In fact, your home is slowly turning into one. Your bedroom is floor to ceiling with books! You’ve read most of them, but there are others still waiting to be read and still you go to the used book shop to see more. It’s an addiction, a terrible terrible addiction and yet, its harmless.

Dear Diary #32 : 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.

When You Are Alone At Home

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I hated being all by myself at home. It was too quiet and there never seemed to be anything to do. Most people would like that, I guess. They’d see it as a chance to do those odd jobs or hobbies or watch TV which they couldn’t do when parents and kids were around. Yes, I could do all that, but I didn’t feel in the mood for any of it.

Maybe it was the lack of motivation? The pressure that I must do something! I had the space, the time, the chances, so yes, I must do some kind of activity which I couldn’t do other wise.

Nothing was coming to my mind though. I listened to the ticking of the kitchen clock, the dripping of the rain outside and the cat purring around my legs. I put the TV on, but only for background noise and just to hear voices so I wouldn’t be lonely.

I wondered if this was how it was when you got old and housebound. Would I just watch TV all day and doze? Would I reflect on my past and wonder what the rest of my future would be like?

I hope I’d lived a good past.

The cat jumped up and snuggled into my lap. We’re not friends, but with my parents gone for a few days, she was attention seeking. I petted her and listened to her purring more loudly.

I’ve have to get a cat when I was old and stuck inside. It would have to be a nice cat though. One who’d sit in my lap all the time and not be so wild. An indoor cat. Maybe, one of those with a really long coat and bright blue eyes. I hope I’ll be able to brush it though….

I channel flicked, but didn’t find anything worth watching. A nagging voice in my head told me to do something. ANYTHING!

Picking the cat up, I placed her on the floor. Disgruntled, she looked at me then trotted off. I went into the kitchen, though I was hungry and began looking around. Finally, I decided to do some baking.

I wasn’t that good to be honest, but at least it would kill time until the evening. Then there’d be soaps on and quiz shows and murder mystery dramas. I could get snacks and chill out, maybe the cat would come to me again?

I pulled one of my favourite cooking books off the shelf and flipped through it. What could I make? Something simple, easy and tasty. Cake? Cupcakes? Yes, that would do…chocolate cupcakes!

I set to work and found my mind better now it had something to focus on.

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.

Bridge

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The troll had lived under the bridge for a long time, however he had finally decided it was time to move. The river was too polluted and the smell was making him sick. Every morning, the troll would sit at the edge of the river and watch rubbish floating by. Sometimes he would pull things out; a bent bike, a rusting shopping trolley, a dead dog. He would add all these things to his collections and in the afternoon he would make art.

The troll enjoyed bending metal, snapping wood and breaking other things up to constructed his sculptures. Then he would leave his art in random places so that passersby would see them. His favorite pieces were; the owl made out of wire netting and car parts. The horse made out of shopping trolleys, bikes and wood. The armless mannequin who’s dress was made out of plastic bags and coat hangers.

That morning, instead of sitting by the river and collecting things, the troll began packing. He dug out two huge suitcases he had dragged from the water and ponder what he would take with him. He emptied the broken wardrobe of his clothes, – he enjoyed being fashionable- the cupboards of his kitchen equipment, – he liked cooking tasty meals- his shelves of books, – the troll was a great reader- his chest of drawers full of trinkets, – he liked shinny things- and finally he took his paintings from the wall, – the troll enjoyed experimenting with different mediums.

Putting on his huge coat and large hat, the troll picked up the suitcases and left home. Waves of sadness washed over him as he left the bridge and sculptures behind. Of course, he hadn’t been able to take any of them with him for they were all far too big. Trying not to think any more about it, the troll walked and walked.

Hours later, he arrived at the seaside. He took in deep lungfuls of fresh salty air and decided he liked it here.

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/02/23/thursday-photo-prompt-bridge-writephoto with thanks)

Mind Lost

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The bell on the bus rang and with a few glances in his mirrors, the bus driver pulled up smoothly at the next stop.

I looked down the aisle and saw an elderly gentleman wearing a large brown hat and in a long, light brown coat getting to his feet with the aid of a wooden walking stick. He tottered to the hissing opening doors and looked out.

‘Wrong stop,’ he announced and hobbled back to his seat.

The bus driver with a loud sigh, closed the doors, indicted and pulled off.

The old man sit down again and looked out of the window, watching the rows of houses and small patches of green grass go by.

I returned to my open book, cursing my broken headphones as I felt the first pings of my anxiety starting up. Public transport always triggered it, even if I had taken the same journey hundreds of times. There was no stopping that strange wiggly worms sensation in my stomach and the loss of concentration on my book.

The bell rang again. The bus driver slowed and pulled over, easing the bus to a stop and opening the doors.

The same old man got up and walked over. He looked out then said loudly, ‘this isn’t my stop! This isn’t where I’m going!’

‘It’s all right. Just sit down again then,’ the driver said calmly.

Over the top of my book, I watched the elderly gentleman shuffling back to his seat again. He sat down heavily and started muttering to himself.

The engine rumbled, the indicted clicked and we were off again.

Sneakily checking out the other passengers, I saw that none of them were bothered by the elderly man’s mistakes. They all seemed to be in worlds of their own. There was a business man typing away on a small laptop, another man was reading the free newspaper and a third older man was on his phone. Of the four woman, not counting myself, one was reading a library book which I couldn’t see the cover of, two were sat at the back, heads together talking softly and the fourth woman was dozing off with a sleeping baby in her arms.

I turned my eyes back to my book and tried to get into the romantic story of an angel falling in love with a human he was banished from being with. Your typical young adult supernatural mush but I loved it. However, my mind couldn’t focus and I began to picture what would happen if the bus was suddenly to crash.

It was a reoccurring image brought on by the anxiety. I was caught up in it for a few moments, wondering what everyone would do if we became trip in the turned over bus. There’d be smoke, screaming, blood. People would die – the driver, maybe the old man and baby. Maybe even me…

I shook the thoughts away and placed down my book. My fingers still inside the closing pages. Oh, how I wished for my music! The loud beating and fast lyrics of heavy metal noise that I could fade into and forget about everything.

The bell ring and this time the man with the laptop got up. He hardly waited for the bus to stop and the doors to open, before he leaped to the pavement and hurried away.

The elderly man seemed not to have noticed the bus stopping. He was looking out of the window. He was still muttering, but I could not make out what he was saying.

The bus driver lingered for a few minutes, perhaps waiting for the old man to get off or maybe for a big enough gap in the traffic.

I looked through the open doors, feeling the cold winter breeze on my face and trying to relax. We were next to the old Jewish cemetery. The curling gates at the top of the driveway were locked but the smaller side one was half open. I could just make out the tops of the headstones. New apartments flanked both sides of the cemetery, looking out of place and making me recall an argument about the developers wanting to move the headstones and bodies to another location.

The bus doors hissed shut and with the engine sounding grumpy, the driver cut through the traffic and drove us on.

I saw the old man reach for the bell button and touch it. He got up and went to the doors as the bus pulled up only a little bit down the road. The doors opened and I really hoped, though it was so mean of me, that he was getting off this time.

‘Is this Courtly Way? No, it’s not,’ the old man began rambling, ‘I don’t know those trees there. Driver? Where are we going? You’ve taken the wrong route again! I want to go home!’

‘It’s okay,’ the driver said calmly, ‘I’ll take you home. Just go and sit down.’

The old man huffed and began hobbling back to his seat.

The bus moved off again. A car horn blaring from beside us as a car sped passed and jumped the changing traffic lights.

How could the bus driver be so calm? I wondered, surely he’s getting annoyed with all of this now?

‘Hello, Annie!’ the old man cried.

I looked and saw he was staring at me.

‘Why didn’t you tell me you were getting this bus?’ he asked.

‘I’m not Annie,’ I replied, ‘I don’t think we know each other.’

‘Of course, you’re Annie! I’d know you anywhere!’

‘No. You’ve made a mistake. My name is Eleanor.’

‘What are you taking about? We’ve been married fifty odd years, Annie!’ the old man shouted.

I shook my head, sinking back into the hard seat as my anxiety rose. My book began to tremble in my hands and my breaths started catching in my throat. Those stomach worms wiggled more, causing a dull pain to start up. Terrible thoughts came to me. The bus crashing, people dying, blood, fire, the scent of smoke, the smell of death, the whiff of leaking fumes, my book laying upwards with it’s open pages crushed against the roof as the bus land upside down.

‘Annie! Annie! What’s wrong!’ the old man was shouting, ‘Driver stop! My wife has been taken ill!’

For the first time, the bus driver slammed his brakes on at a stop. Passengers were thrown about and my head knocked into the wall of the driver’s cabin. I felt fuzzy and my ears were ringing. I shut my eyes and counted backwards as around me complaining voices rose and the baby started crying.

‘Are you alright, love? Do you want to get off?’ a new voice was asking me.

I opened my eyes and saw the bus driver looking at me.

‘He thinks I’m his wife,’ I muttered.

‘What?’ the driver asked, glancing at the old man who was hanging onto the newspaper tray.

‘He says I’m his wife,’ I repeated louder.

‘Oh. He says that to all the young pretty girls. He’s harmless,’ the bus driver added.

‘My wife?’ the old man suddenly said, ‘where is my wife?’

‘Come on now, Bert,’ the bus driver said politely, ‘sit here and be quiet now. We’re almost home.’

‘Home? Ah yes, that’s where we are going. My wife should be there. She’ll have tea on the table and wondering what’s taking so long. Get on with it, driver,’ the old man snapped and rudely waved the driver away.

The urge to question what was going on here grew but as the driver passed me I couldn’t say anything.

The bus started again and a few stops later, we slowed down and pulled up. The doors opened and the driver got out of his cabin. He walked past me and to the old man.

‘Bert, you’re home now, time to get off,’ the driver said softly.

‘Ah yes. Thank you,’ Bert replied.

The driver helped him up then off the bus. I looked out the window and saw the sign for an old people’s home in the front garden of a large building. At the bus stop, a woman dressed in dark blue trousers and a uniform looking top greeted the bus driver and Bert. I watched her link arms with Bert and take him towards the house. They were talking but I couldn’t hear the words.

The driver got back on and headed for his seat.

‘Is he okay?’ I asked.

The driver looked at me and nodded, ‘he has dementia. Some days he’s okay, other days he believes we’re in a past year and the worse days are when he forgets who he is. It’s a horrible thing and I should know! My dad had it and I had to watch him slowly forget me, everyone else and himself.’

I just nodded, not sure what to say to that.

‘Are you all right? He really didn’t mean you any harm,’ the bus driver added.

‘I’m fine…I suffer from anxiety attacks. It had nothing to do with him,’ I explained.

‘I see. You okay, now though?’ he said

I nodded, thanked him and he climbed into the driver’s cabin.

The bus started again, the seat vibrating underneath me and the voices of the disgruntled passengers muttering. My mind was far away though, reflecting on the bus driver’s words.