Beneath #WritePhoto

Every Christmas, my family holiday in the Lake District. We go a day or two before Christmas Eve and stay until January second. There isn’t much to do other then walking and visiting pubs as it’s out of season. You either love the escape or you don’t.

Arriving, in the pouring rain, at one of holiday homes for eight people we rent, I park up and look at the Christmas lights flashing in the windows. Going by the cars, I was the last to arrive and that made me nervous. If I had been earlier maybe I could have made up something about my ex-husband joining us later, pretending we are still together, though the official divorce had been two months ago.

Hoping my family wouldn’t make a big deal out of it, I got out of the car. Grabbing my things, I dash to the door and let myself in. The hallway is warm and dry, the smell of burning wood, pine cones and oranges welcoming me.

From the staircase to my right comes faint voices, laughed and glasses tinkling. Glancing up, I wait to see if anyone would come down to greet me but no one does. I go towards a bedroom door on my far left, the one we normally stay in. Then I stop. This year, I had agreed, not needing a double bed now, to take a single bed and share a room with my teen aged niece, Beth. That meant I was in the room on the opposite side, the smallest one tucked under the stairs.

Turning, I go to that one and walk in. Beth had clearly taken the bed by the small window. There were clothes and items scattered about, shoes on the floor, hair dryer and curler on the small dressing table, mingled with make up products. It looked like a typical messy girl teenager’s bedroom all ready.

The second bed was neatly made and looked cosy enough to curl up in and go to sleep. I put my stuff down next to it and began unpacking. At least Beth had left me some cupboard space!

I tried to delay going upstairs as long as I could but at last I had to go. Planning for the worse, I go up, my hand sliding along the banister, below which in the railings weave fake green pine needle bushels decorated with fairy lights.

At the top, a T shaped hallway and before me glass doors leading out to a small balcony. To the left, the wooden door to a small, snug room is close. To the right, an archway through to the open plan living room, dinning room, kitchen. Above which, at the back, is a second staircase leading to an attic bedroom.

I step in, get spotted by the four adults standing in the kitchen and I’m welcomed happily into the folds of my family. Someone gives me a glass of red wine, some else offers me food, a few questions are asked then the talk goes back to the conversation before.

The evening passes quickly, as it does in good company, with nice food and wine. I go to bed early, tried by a day’s work, the two hour drive and full of warmth. Beth had gone to the pub with cousins. I don’t know when she got back, I never heard her but she was asleep in her bed with I woke up in the morning.

Being the first to get up, I made coffee and tea. I had cereal and toast for breakfast. The weather had cleared and though the sky looked grey the rain had stopped. I decided to go for a walk.

Dressing warmly, I left and without planning where to go, I just start walking. I knew most of the area well and wasn’t afraid to get lost, that was a part of the fun anyway! I walk away from the holiday homes, following a little track underneath some trees. That opened into fields which a wide river ran through and a yellow path went along beside.

Birds were still singing morning song, a few cars were traveling on the single road above and sheep were dotting the hills. I just walked, taking it all in, letting go of everything that was bothering me. Nature is a good healer.

Arriving at a small lake, I take a break on a cold wooden bench. The wind playing with the bare tree branches and across the water, making waves which lap the rocky shore. I look at the reflection in the lake’s surface; the small hills, the tree, the cloudy sky. For some reason, I’m reminded of the Arthurian legend of The Lady of the Lake. 

A thin, white, female hand with fingers decorated with shinny rings, raising from the still clear water and holding aloft the bejeweled hilt of Excalibur. The sliver blade itself, glowing in the sun, water drops dripping off it, the magic waiting for King Arthur to claim it.

They were stories I loved as a child and I had been hoping to tell them my children. It was never to be now. The miscarriage in the spring had seen to that. In the summer, the divorce had began. We just couldn’t bear each other anymore, our family was gone, our hearts broken and we couldn’t come back from it. Easier to be a part then together, loveless and angry.

I feel tears come to my eyes and I let them fall. I keep saying, I wouldn’t cry anymore, but it’s still hard not too. There’s this imagine stuck in my mind of me standing before a Christmas tree, holding a baby and my husband beside me. It’s just a dream, like everything else now feels like.

It starts to rain, little drops hitting the lake, the bench, my hair. I get up and dig through my pockets for my coin purse. I take out a penny and walk to the edge of the lake. Ripples grow across the surface of the water as the rain comes down faster and bigger.

I rub the penny, make a wish; a wish that everything could go back to before the pregnancy and that it didn’t happen, my husband is still here and we are happy. I throw the penny into the lake and watch it disappear beneath.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/12/13/thursday-photo-prompt-beneath-writephoto/ with thanks).

Walkies

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It’s too cold to walk any further, Hollie decided. She stopped and looked around, taking in the wonderful view of the peaks and countryside covered in snow. At her side, her dog, Boxer yawed then turned to sniff the air.

‘Let’s go home now,’ Hollie uttered and tugged his lead a little.

Boxer wagged his tail, looked up at her and seeming to agree.

Turning back, Hollie crunched though the snow as the sky darkened behind them.

Dear Diary #25

And September is here! I can’t believe how fast summer has gone, it was over like all that flash flooding we’ve been having. I only saw like 20 odd days of pure sunshine out of the 92 days. How bad is that? And so not enough to get a tan, but luckily no one else really has either.

I’m strangely not looking forward to going back to uni now. It’s final year and that’s going to be so much hard work and so little time for partying! I’m glad things have got sorted and we can all stay in the same house. It was very touch and go for awhile back there. Dev said that me and him would find our own place, but getting a one or two bedroom flat wasn’t as easy as it would actually seem. It’s all good though and the four of us will be fine again.

My parents have been bugging me with questions about afterwards. I don’t know what I’m going to do! Maybe take a different course and return? Do a masters or go into teaching? I just don’t know and a part of me is wondering what kind of job I believed I was going to get doing a history degree. I should have gone with business or computing or something that leads straight into work. Perhaps, something will come up and right now I just got to try and pass this year.

At least I can get a few more days of freedom in! I’m off to the Lake District tomorrow, for a few romantic days away with Dev. So looking forward to that. We’ve not had much alone time or dates with him working as many hours as he can get at the pub. So it’ll be nice to spend sometime together. The weather isn’t looking great though, so we might not risk any long walks, but I’d be happy to just lounge by the indoor pool.

I should actually go and start packing!

Lake District Bath Time

This was just what I needed. I sink further back and let the warm soapy water relax me. The smell of tea tree oil and lavender filled the air pleasantly. After a whole day hiking through hills, peaks and countryside the bath felt like a well-deserved reward. I shut my eyes and straight away saw myself and Mike stood on top of a rocky peak catching our breath. Finally, after a wasted six hours –though that is hard to say in the Lake District- we had made it.

I swirled my hands in the water and moved my legs so my feet were not jammed against the end of the bathtub. I wiggled my upper back, losing the cooling water behind me and letting hotter water in. I settled and listened to the water lapping around me and the sides of the bathtub. Opening my eyes, I watch the steam rising like little wispy ghosts.

For a few moments, I think about a horror movie I had seen ages ago that had a ghost haunting a bathroom. A middle-aged woman home alone gets into freshly drawn bath then the lights start flickering. Creaking sounds like footsteps on bare floorboards and doors slowly moving start up. The lights go out, the woman panics and she is pulled down into the bathtub and the ghost teenage girl appears next to her.

I shake the thoughts away and push myself up. The water rocks back and forth as I sit up and reach for the body wash and sponge behind me. I scold myself for getting distracted by the horror movie. Nothing like that could happen here in the holiday lodge nestled in a quiet valley, even if it is nearly midnight. I sat to wash and hear footsteps and the twinging of music from above me. I look up startled, but then realise it’s only Mike. I can just make out his singing from the living room above me.

I laugh a little, finish off washing then ease myself back down. The warm water sloshes around me and my eyes land on the control of the Jacuzzi. Why not? My muscles feel aching enough. I grab the control and start up the jets. The noise is loud and makes me jump slightly. Cold water hits the back of my legs and back then gets warm and shots up around me. The bath seems to vibrate and I think that everything will settle down.

I lean back, the force of the jets against my skin smarts. Shutting my eyes, I try not to think about the noise of the feelings. I cast my mind back to the wonderful rugged countryside I saw today. We had got up soon after sunrise, got sorted then left. Mike had everything mapped out or so he claimed…After three hours, Mike suddenly stopped and looked nervously around. We had taken pauses to admire the area around us, but this was different. I asked him what was wrong, he said nothing was and we walked another two hours before he admitted we were lost.

I turn the Jacuzzi off, overwhelmed by the noise but the jets don’t go off. I push myself up, wet fingers fumbling over the buttons. I hit the end button and wait. Still the jets bubble away, throwing soapy water over the deep sides of the tub. I try again and press the button twice. Panic starts to build in my stomach and I pressed the button again then wait. I watch the bubbles dying down and only let my breath out when the Jacuzzi goes off.

I dropped the control back on the side and lay down again. My back has gotten dry and sticks painfully to the tub. I wiggled down, letting the water move around me and noticing that its’ gotten colder. I should get out, but I’m drawn to stay longer. My skin is all ready wrinkled so it won’t make any difference.

For some reason, my mind goes back to that horror movie and I think about the words the ghost writes on the mirror throughout the plot. It’s a bit jumbled but the ghost had written things like get out, help, behind you. I look around the bathroom, but see no mirrors. There’s not much wall space for one because the bathtub takes up one wall, the large window another, the shower and toilet the third and the door a fourth. The double sinks and the mirror is behind the door in an alcove space that joins to the master bedroom.

I decide to get out, before I scare myself further. Sitting up, I glance around and see again that the two handles are behind me and look too far away to help me up. Still I give it ago, but can’t get my body up enough. I slide my hands along the edge, to the back and pressing down try to get up again. My hands slip and I ease off, not wanting to risk falling. Frowning, I look around again and try to figure out how I’m going to get out.

There seems no other way then to try the handles again. I reach out, wrapping my fingers around the metal bar attached to the wall. Putting my other arm across, I put my hand on the other metal bar attached to the tub. Slowly, I eased myself up and put my weight into my hands and arms. I got a little way up, but not enough to be able to pull myself up. Sighing, I slipped back and decide to pull the plug.

I turned the metal dial and felt a whoosh of water moving under me. I give it a few moments then using nothing, tried to get up again. I put my hands to the bottom of the tub, behind me and pushed up. Still I couldn’t do it. I thought about calling for Mike, but changed my mind as I realised that if I rolled over and got my knees, I could get out that way.

I tried to turn, but there wasn’t enough room for me to get on to my side. The water level was dropping faster than I had thought and I noticed that if I had not unplugged the tub, this would have been easier. The water seemed against me. Feeling the urge to laugh at this silly situation, I tried everything to trying to get out. In one shift movement, I twisted my body around and flopped onto my stomach, my legs hit the metal Jacuzzi nozzles at the bottom. Dull pain poked me, but ignoring it, I pushed myself on to my knees then got up. The water gurgled around, flowing away. I shuffled to the end of the tub and using the edge as a hand hold, gingerly got out. My foot hovered above the floor and I thought I’d never be able to reach it. I stretched out a little more and felt cold tiles. Throwing my other leg over, I grabbed my towel and abandoned the bathroom.

Avoiding the mirror, I went into the bedroom and dried off quickly. Still wet, I threw my nightdress and dressing gowned on. I left the room, leaving both the bathroom and bedroom lights on feeling the need to keep the darkness away. I walked down the hallway, passing the front door and the second bedroom before reaching the stairs. I walked up and found Mike in the open living room, kitchen/diner.

He turned to me and straight away asked me what was wrong. I felt myself blush, though due to my cheeks all ready being red from the heat of the bath, he didn’t notice. I waved it away and went to sit down on the sofa, instead asking how the food was coming along. He turned to glance at the oven where the two pizzas were all most cooked. He nodded and went to prepare things.

I sat back and watched him, my experience in the bathroom fading in the bright lights and normality. Mike dished up and brought everything over to me, including a glass of red wine and a bottle of BBQ sauce. He turned the TV on and we watched the midnight news as we eat. After Mike pulled out his map and walking books, he flipped through the pages and looked set to plan our next walk. I stood up, pushed everything away and sit in his lap without saying anything. I kissed him and told him that we were spending the day in bed, the next walk could wait.

Jogging

The lake water shimmers in the early morning sunlight. I glance at it and take a deep breath of fresh air. Fixing my eyes ahead, I let my feet carry on pounding the pavement. There is no one around and nature is the only sound. For me this is the perfect time of day. I can be alone and feel like I’m witnessing everything for the first time.

Along the shore of the lake, boats bob on the waves adding to the picturesque scene unfolding before me. The water ripples and moves the reflected images of the trees and surrounding peaks. For a few moments I’m one with nature and then civilisation appears in the form of an ice cream hut.

It’s quickly followed by a car park and a host of other buildings. I want to turn around and run away from all of this. The pull of connecting with nature once more is calling me back, but I fight it down. Every day I do this, but soon I’ll give into my urges and not stop. I pick up my pace and speed past the first of the boats for hire shops.

Boating is one of the main businesses around here and the tourists never seem to get enough of it. I guess if my job was to drive boats about all day that would have more appeal. Granted, I’ve never been good on open water, I prefer to have my feet on the ground. I guess it wouldn’t take long to get use to it though. Being out there, stopping the engine in the middle of the lake, taking in all the nature, what could be more relaxing?

I run past my actual job. The large blue flag declaring boats for sale flutters in the breeze. The white and blue striped building is flanked by speed boats on either side. The office and show room are still shut and the car park next door is empty. I don’t dread returning back here in less than two hours, that job is all I know and it has let me live the life I want. It just doesn’t give the complete freedom I crave.

I’ve loved running all my life and in college I wanted to make it my career, but life decided that it wasn’t to be my calling. So, the only running I do now is at this time, just as the world is wake to another day. There are no people or car traffic to get in the way this early. If I do happen to chance upon someone, it’s the milkman, postman or a dog walker. I ignore them, even if I know them. I have to keep running.

Around me spring is in full bloom. The trees are over crowed with green leaves, there are flowers everywhere and the warm air smells sweet. And that can only mean one thing around here- the height of the tourist season. As I enter my home village, posters displaying holiday homes to let appear in many windows. A handful of Bed and Breakfast signs seem to crowd the space above my head.

I can’t help but study the buildings around me. Some are so old that they fit with the shape of the street so perfectly. Others still have a new look about them as they’ve been freshly painted. The houses are mostly terraces, with a very small cottages squashed in-between. There are flower boxes and pots outside, adding even more summer to the place. I spot one or two shops nested into a corner and then the road twists up.

I turn the corner and face the last part of my morning run. The pavement turns into a tan coloured tarmac and I enter the park. Flowers dance around my ankles, tree trunks wiz by and the short grass lies like a carpet on either side of me. I don’t stop to admire the view, though my muscles are now burning. The flowers and trees drop behind me and the path weaves its way through an area marked as the recreational ground.

There is a golf course on my left. Yellow flags mark the holes almost hidden in the grass. A double tennis court sits behind it. I’ve played both here a few times, but I’ve never been taken with another sport. Once you decided on one, you wanted to get to the top, so spend all your time practising and not doing much else. Thinking about it, if I didn’t run I’m not sure what I would do. I probably would’ve taken up tennis or football. A sport that was physically demanding not metantally.

On my right is the crazy golf and an adventure playground. I remember playing on both as a kid and nothing seems to have changed. The crazy golf course looks so tried with all the paint peeling and the obstacles look smaller now. When was the last time I played that? I can’t recall, it’s been too long. As for the playground, I’ve a handful of memories of that and they all involve running in some form.

Ahead is a bowling lawn, spaces for table tennis and a giant chess set behind that. These are new and I watch them building it three or so years back. It was hard to tell what they are doing at first as this area use to be more flower beds. Then as they laid down the turf and added a boarder, you could tell by the shape. There is also a patio space behind the chess set and this connects with the building stretches itself across the end of the path with many arches hiding doorways.

This building isn’t new, it use to be the grand entrance to the park. Now it houses; a cafe, toilets, an ice cream shop, the paying desk for the golf and storage for the recreational activities. I remember the arches best though because I use to run around them with my parents trying to catch me.

I turn my head back and find my focus again. Running always makes these memories come as my mind has very little to think about. Thinking of other things will only last so long and then my thoughts will drift again. That’s not a bad thing, as I once wrote a proposal about advertising a special deal on an over stocked boat brand we had in. I sold more boats then anyone else that month!

A figure dressed in white rounds the corner of the building. My breath catches in my throat. It’s her again! She’s been jogging on my patch and keeps appearing. I try to slow my pace down, but I’m going too fast. For a split second my mind thinks that she is running towards me, but then I see that she’s jogging on the other side of the path.

Our eyes meet and I swear that time slowly down. I see her short blonde hair flying around her face. Is that the hint of a smile on her pink lips? Her hear the sound of her gasping breathe and her trainers slamming the path hard. Is the same thought going through her head at the same time as it is mine? I smile. Does she notice? And then she’s gone just like that, running down the other path way and I’m left with a fleeting glimpse of her behind.

I’ve no idea who she is. I only started noticing her about two weeks ago and each time I’ve told myself that she’s just a tourist and tomorrow I won’t see her. I’ve been hoping I was wrong and as the days go by, it seems I might have been. I want to get to know her, see if we’d be good together. We have jogging in common already, wouldn’t that make a good starting point?

Tomorrow, I’m going to stop and speak to her….tomorrow I’m going to do it!

I jog off the path, along the building and around it. Once more my mind wonders at why no one has fenced this edge of the park when all the others have been done. The grass at my feet turns to pavement and I am on the corner of the high street. The closes shops are still closed, but I can see their bright and pretty window displays. I run up the pavement and before me is the impressive structure of the village church.

It’s been there since medieval times, but it’s now surround to its Victorian revamp. Going through the gate, the path divides. One leads to the graveyard and back to the park and the second leads around the church and to the other side of the village. This is the path I take. My old primary school appears on my left. It’s now been turned into a cinema and there are posters hung on the walls declaring the latest movies being shown. I hardly remember my time there anyways. I run through a side gate and up a twisting hill lined with terrace houses.

Turning at the top, the pavement disappears and I have to run on the road for two meters until a sprawling drive way joins it. A tall wall and a hedge line the way up and at the top as my medium detached house. It is white wood built on red bricks and the large bay windows face out across the lake and surrounding peaks. I race up the steps and stop in the door’s alcove. Bending over, I try to catch my breath and as I shut my eyes I see her face before me.