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).

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Won’t Be Coming Back #FFftPP

Shoes

He left his shoes on the dock, laughing that he wasn’t a chicken to jump into the freezing autumn lake.

(Inspired by; https://flashfictionforthepracticalpractitioner.wordpress.com/2018/10/09/flash-fiction-for-the-purposeful-practitioner-2018-week-41/ with thanks.)

Float #FridayFictioneers

The flames flickered on the water, their reflections dots of yellow light, almost as if the moon had broken into pieces and spilled across the surface. Waves rippled as more floating candles drifted out. Each carried an unwritten message, whispered from the heart.

Vicky didn’t  know what to wish for. She held her lit candle above the lapping lake and thought. The only thing that kept coming to mind was for world peace, but wasn’t that impossible to wish for? She guessed nothing really was and with a shrugged, she made that wish and set her floating candle towards the others.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2018/08/22/24-august-2018/ with thanks).

 

Dark #writephoto

The first snowflake fell onto my book’s open page before I could turn it. I paused, tutted and watched the flake melt into a water dot over a word. Turning my head up, I saw the sky had grown dark with heavy unfriendly grey clouds. It was time to go home.

Gathering my things, I knew everyone thought I was strange. Why would a young woman go out to the lake to sit and read in the snow? I liked the peace and the distance from people. I didn’t feel the cold at all, in fact, I didn’t feel anything and hadn’t since the incident.

With everything neatly placed in my army hiking bag, I began walking back. The snow was deep but my footprints from hours ago were still clearer. I traced over them but the opposite way this time. The wind picked up as more snowflakes began to fall. I powered on, enjoying the feeling and sight of raw nature.

I almost slipped into the lane but was able to hold on. There were a few four by four car tire tracks marking their way through the snow. A few meters up, off to the side lay an abandoned blue car, half buried in the snow. I had checked as I’d arrived and no one was inside, thankfully. They’d have frozen out here.

A few minutes later and I’d arrived at the edge of the village. The tops of houses stuck out of the snow like early spring flowers. Nobody was walking the streets or driving down the roads. They were all inside, sat by fires, keeping warm and safe. I should have been so too, but there was only so much of being inside I could handle.

I needed to be out, feeling all kinds of weather against my skin. Doing something physical and being my past self. I wasn’t very good at being a ‘normal person,’ it had been sort of trained out of me. I had liked that life, it give me my place in the world but now on almost permanent leave due to injury and mental health problems, everything had been turned around.

Reaching the front door of my parents’ cottage, I didn’t want to go in. The urge to stay outside lingered. However, the wind was really howling and blowing now heavy snowflakes into me. So unless I wanted to get lost in a blizzard and or possibly die, it was time to go in and find another way to spend my time.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/03/01/thursday-photo-prompt-dark-writephoto/ with thanks).

Ruby #FirstLineFriday

new-york-city-556848_1920

I hadn’t thought about anything else other then having a nap after getting off the plane. Bundling myself into a taxi and arriving at the hotel, I had go to my room and just crawled into the bed as if it had been my real destination all along.

The loud crying of a baby woke me up. I lay mused across the bed, wondering where I was. Slowly, as the baby’s crying faded I remembered the business trip. Letting out a sigh, I checked my watch without getting up. It was close to half past seven. My plan had landed around three. So…counting in the before nap parts, I had been asleep for three hours and a half or so. Good job, I had nowhere to be this evening!

I got up and took of my black suit jacket then re-arranged my comfy black pants and white blouse. I took my hair down – half of it had fallen anyway and out of habit checked myself in the mirror. Satisfied, I crossed the hotel room to the windows, where I pulled the draping white curtains aside.

A door led onto a small balcony, I stepped out. The warm evening air caressed my face, I breathed in the city and lake smell, finding it strangely sweet and earthy. There was the noise of traffic and people; the hum of the city. I could hear the lapping water, it was almost right below me. It was a breathtaking view.

Looking down, I saw the skyscrapers towered reflective against the ruddy clouds. The imagine was constantly moving in small ripping waves and I half thought the city was actually under that surface. I looked across and saw the glowing sunset lighting up the building as if they were on fire and I wondered, when I was the last time I had seen anything like this?

The sky was dark ruby and amethyst with an underlining of white cloud edges. I could just see the amber of the sun peeking. There was just so much of this colour everywhere, it was magical. The urge to reach out to touch it and know what it felt like, swelled within me. I raised my arms and stretched my fingers, like a vampire gently arising from the grave.

I felt a warm breeze with a hint of coldness from the lake. My hands were surrounded by the colors but I knew they never could become one with them. I lowered my arms and put my hands to the railing. There was an unreal, dream like feeling but I knew I was wide awake.

https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2018/02/02/first-line-friday-february-1st-2018/

Blue #writephoto

It was nice to sit by the lake, watching the lapping waves and the cold blue evening sky above. A dusty layer of snow lay on the ground and at some of the lake’s edges thin ice had formed. Winter’s chill was heavy in the air, promising more snow in the night but for the moment it was safe to be outside.

There was hardly any noise, just the distance sound of late dog walkers, joggers and cyclists, like myself. I could hear the soft cracks of the ice as the water moved underneath. Looking at a patch close by, there was a glazed spider web pattern of crazing across the smooth surface. It seemed almost artistic.

Turing my face to the sky, I wondered how badly it would snow tonight. The clouds were slowly coming in, turning everything darker. I felt a drop of wetness then it started to sleet. Balancing on my bicycle, I watched the icy rain fall into the water. Little ripples bobbed on the surface and on the ice the sleet seemed to start sticking.

It was time to go home.

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2017/12/28/thursday-photo-prompt-blue-writephoto with thanks).

Lake Side

A photo by Michael Fertig. unsplash.com/photos/ypFabCEUnuA

She tossed her head back, basking in the early evening sunlight. Dangling her bare feet over the edge of the jetty, her soles just skimmed the calm lake’s surface.

This is the life, she thought.

Shutting her eyes, she let the warmth drift across her face. She heard little waves lapping against the shore, the jetty and the small boat that was moored behind her. Birds were singing their late evening song and the wind was sometimes shifting the late summer trees.

There were no people or cars or another distractions, it was just her and the lake.

Swan

swan river

The Duchess sat by the lake, looking out over the sunset kissed water. She sighed deeply and wondered what she was going to do now. She had lost everything beside a trunk full of things and her pet swan. She could cope with that though. It was the betrayal of her husband and the kingdom she would never live down.

 

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/01/12/thursday-photo-prompt-swan-writephoto)

Cracked Ice

cracked-ice

Mark threw a stone into the iced over lake. There was a loud cracking sound followed by a few smaller ones. He moved closer to the edge, crunching over the frosted grass.

The other six children gathered around too and looked at what had happened to the smooth white surface. Large lines cut there jagged way across and small sections had broken away. Water bubbled slowly upwards and over the ice chucks.

‘It’s not safe to skate on,’ Mark declared.

The children groaned. They had hurried out of school, gone home to get their ice skates then rushed to the lake. Their were cheeks were flushed red with the cold and they were all eager to have some fun. Now their hopes had been dashed.

Mark dropped his shoulders and looked further out across the lake. Being the oldest he felt he should come up with an idea of what to do now. However, nothing came to him. He looked up at the already darkening sky.

‘Maybe tomorrow,’ he said in a quiet voice, ‘it looks like it might snow properly.’

‘Then we can skate?’ one of the youngest girls called out.

‘Maybe,’ Mark answered.

He turned away from the lake and led the children back to the bridge. From there they could see the large cracks the stone had made more fully. Water was now lapping around the tiny ice floats and making them bump together.

‘Everyone should go home,’ Mark spoke.

With loud mutterings, all the children turned and began heading off to their houses. Mark lingered. He looked over the bridge once more, watching the sky changing color. Giggling voices drew his attention away and he watched as two teenage girls appeared at the edge of the lake.

Without really knowing why, he ducked down and watched them putting on their ice skates. A part of him knew he should shout over that it wasn’t safe, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. The girls went on the ice and began skating and Mark spied on them, but even if they had noticed him they were too busy.

The girls’ scarfs and loose hair flew about as they spun. They laughter rose and fell. Mark recognised them from school, not that he had ever been as close to them as he was right now. He liked the red-head the best, Rose was her name, but her friend, Beth, with the darker hair was also pretty.

Mark heard a massive crack and before his eyes the girls disappeared. A large hole appeared in the middle of the lake and water was splashing up from it. Without thinking, he ran over the bridge and down on to the lake. The ice held his weight, but he was slipping everywhere.

He reached the hole, even though the ice was breaking up around him. He tried to reach out for the girls as they hands were reaching up from the water. He could hear them both struggling to breath and stay a float. He grabbed hold of one of them and tried to pull her out, but she was too heavy.

Fighting down panic that he would fall in too , he tried harder and managed to drag Rose out. She lay face down on the still cracking ice then tried to get up. Mark moved on to help her friend, but as he reached out for that hand, it slipped from his and down into the water.

‘Beth can’t swim!’ Rose cried.

Rose joined Mark and their hands both dipped into the freezing water in search of the other girl. Mark’s hand only meet water. From underneath them came more cracking sounds and instinct kicked in.

‘We have to get off!’ Mark yelled.

‘No! We can’t leave her!’ Rose gasped, water dripping off her.

‘We have no choice!’ Mark answered back.

He grabbed Rose and started pulling her away. She tried resist, but her ice skates made it easier for Mark to move her forward. They reached the bank as a handful of adults arrived and came to meet them.

‘There’s a girl still in there!’ Mark shouted and pointed across the lake.

The adults rushed into action, Mark turned his attention fully to Rose, who knelt on the snow crying and shaking. He helped wrap her in a blanket and get her to her feet.

As they were walked away by two adults, Mark looked back over his shoulder. The other adults were pulling the girl from the lake. He could see them trying to help her, but it was too late.

 

Story prompt from: https://scvincent.com/2016/12/01/thursday-photo-prompt-cracked-ice-writephoto/ with thanks.

Violet Sky

dark-dawn

This was the dusk Slate had been waiting for. He sat on top of the hill, taking sips of pure dark rum from his silver canteen. All around him the forest and lake were settling down for the night. He could hear the calls of birds and wild animals echoing. The wind rocking the trees and the lapping sounds of the lake.

Slate swirled the rum around his mouth. Enjoying the dark warm spices, before swallowing. It had been expensive, but worth it. The sea pirates always had the best stuff, even though trading with them was a high risk. He won’t go anyway else now though for his precious drink.

He slipped the canteen into the inside pocket of his black leather duster coat then slowly withdrew his gun. The thing was an antique; all silver, gold and wood, but it had been super modified. It was a double barreled, electrical generator, quick fire baby. With one finger, Slate lovingly stroked down the gun’s left side as if it was the leg of a beautiful woman.

‘Your the only lady I need at my side,’ he purred to the gun.

He almost pressed the side of one of the barrels to his cheek, but stopped himself. Something was shaking the trees below and the forest had fallen eerily silent. The last of the sun’s pink and burnt orange streaks give just enough light for him to see the creature taking form.

His breath caught in his throat for just a moment, then he quietened his breathing as much as possible. Switching his gun hands, he brought his right hand up to the machine that covered that eye. It was a complex mechanism of microscopes, colored glass, cogs and many moving pieces. He moved the settings around so that his biogenetic eye could see. He shut his other eye and focused solely on the scene below him.

Straight away, it seemed he was down there and meeting the creature eye to eye. He drew back a little, being gentle with the sensitive controls. He saw the full view and that the creature was the demon he had been tracking for months. Slate smiled. He had always known tonight was the night.

Slipping his gun away, he drew his canteen out again and took a mouthful. He swallowed, relishing the taste before putting it back. Slate got his eye piece to map the best way to go then set off. He walked carefully, but with purpose and tried not to be loud. Yet the forest was against him in this because it was all ready late autumn. Dry leaves and twigs crunched and cracked under his heavy platform boots. Bare branches snatched at him, snagging on his long hair and coat. He knew being the second only thing moving between the trees didn’t help this noise.

However, Slate was there fast enough and standing on a high ridge looking down into a ancient bomb crater. The demon was below him and it was breathtaking. It seemed to be the skeleton of a giant rhino. The bones were all ice white and joined together with a stretchy grey skin, which looked fragile, but was as tough as steel.

The rhino turned its head up as if sensing something and Slate got his first look at the monster’s face. It was extremely rhino like; with two large horns coming off the top of the snout which looked like the tops of snow cover mountains, the wide face and large ears. The huge nostrils flared and the eyes that rose to meet his were pitch black.

Slate grabbed his gun and fired. The silver bullet ripped through the night, shattering the pause that had held the forest. A tail of red and blue light followed it then here was an explosion of sound and electricity.

The demon screamed and roared in one. It reared up and tried to charge out of the crater.

Slate fired again and kept going in quick secession. There was no other way to bring this thing down. Luckily, he had been packing special bullets for this hunting mission. Keeping his focus, he aimed for the head area, knowing soon he’d hit an eye and get into the brain.

The demon rhino had started to bleed out thick black blood, but it was showing no signs of slowing down. It kept trying to plough up the side of the grassy slop, however there was very little grip for it’s smooth flat feet and heavy bulk. With a might cry, it changed tactics and threw itself head first at the side of the crater.

Slate felt the earth shake from under him. He reached out to grab the trunk of a nearby tree. His hand brushed it then he was falling. His feet slide down and he lent back to keep his balance. Slate surfed down the soil as the rhino pulled out, shaking dirt everywhere. For a second it seemed that the demon would turn away, but then those black hell eyes saw Slate and the rhino put his head down again and flicked out his horn.

Slate dodge to the side and felt his legs give way under him. Pain shot down his side and he knew the horn had caught him. Tumbling into the crater, Slate scrambled to his feet, even though burn like pain had seized his muscles. He two handed his gun, holding far out in front of him. It was the only barrier between him and the demon now.

The rhino monster turned. Bones crunching together as if breaking and blood dripping from a half shot away face. A single eye fixed on to Slate.

Slate backed slowly up. He shut his good eye and looked through the machine one to perfect his aim. He squeezed the trigger on an exhale of breathe and felt the gun kick back in his hands. Blue and red waves danced before his eye then he opened his other one and saw the rhino was stunned.

He stepped forward, getting almost too close, before he fired straight into the demon’s head.

The rhino let out a gasping groan and crumbled to the floor.

Slate took in a deep breath of cold night air. He smelt the acid and decaying blood of the demon. The bitter taste of victory bubbled on his tongue. That hadn’t been worth the fight. He let his shoulders drop and his gun fell to his side. At the back of his mind he knew he was badly injured and in pain, but for the moment that could wait.

This demon hadn’t actually been the one he had been hunting.

He wasn’t sure how he knew that. Just that it was the fact. His mind wheeled and he wondered over the sinister nature of it all. The agency were doing this just to taught him, he concluded. They didn’t think he was good enough anymore….Well, he’d show them. Slater Gordon was still the fastest monster killer in the west. With that, he turned, put his gun away and slipped out his rum again.

 

 

(Inspired by Sue’s image prompt at; https://scvincent.com/2016/10/20/thursday-photo-prompt-violet-sky-writephoto/ with thanks.)