Lake

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Water stretched for miles and the sun warmed the surface to a nice feeling temperature. It was the perfect day for a paddle and to try and claim back some of the summer time.

In The Light Of The Moon

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I couldn’t sleep, my insomnia was paining me again. I took a lantern and went out to the shore of the lake. Despite the lateness of the hour, a freezing fog was hanging in the air. I let the lapping of the water guide me and felt the wooden planks of the jetty under my boots.

The wood creaked and the water splashed against the poles. There should have been the addition of a rocking boat but last month it had been overcome by heavy rain and sank. I could picture the bones of the boat resting on the bottom of the lake.

The moon was full and low in a cloudless sky. I marvelled at her, not being able to recall seeing another moon see big. Something drew my eyes downwards and at the end of the jetty I saw a figure standing out against the fog.

I frowned, there should have been no one out here. The servants had their own house further back and we were miles from the nearest village.

Before I could address the figure, she turned to me and I saw it was a young woman. She was tall with red flaming hair and wearing a sky blue dress that floated around her. She smiled sadly then turned back to the lake.

I rushed forward, the sense that something was wrong vibrating through me. I reached the end of the jetty and held my lantern high.

There was no one there!

I turned and twisted, looking everywhere. The fog couldn’t have been playing with me for I swear the woman was as real as myself and yet, there was only the lapping of the lake breaking through the night.

Shimmer #WritePhoto

The church bells were ringing the start of a clear winter morning. Roger had taken to wandering outside as soon as he got up, sometimes he found his way home again and other times he had to stop and work the way back.

Today, he was by the lake and the sun was shinning from behind fluffy clouds. The light was reflecting across the water making it shimmer like glitter. Roger watched the small waves lapping the grassy shore. There wasn’t much out here, it wasn’t a place people often came.

There was an island in the middle of the lake, crowed with trees and Roger had been over there and built dens in the summer as a child. He wonder if there was anything left of those makeshift shelters that had become Knights’ castles, caves full of bears and Native American forts.

Above the island rose peaks, cast black by the sun. Had he been over there? Roger couldn’t remember, his head was getting mixed up with old age. He listened to the church bells last echoing ring and walked on. Some birds were singing but everything else was at ease.

He could have walked for days before but now just these hours in the morning tried him out. When the weather was worse, short walks were in order and afterwards, he slipped a little whisky in his tea.

Winter was’t the best season for walking in, so he lit the fire when he arrived home. He sipped his tea and sit in his chair looking out of a front window. The sun was blocked by the roof tops of houses and more clouds were moving in. It would rain soon or snow, it felt cold enough too. Maybe, that was just him?

Roger dozed after finishing his tea and the fire spreading its warm also helped. It was raining when he woke. It had gotten darker too though it was only 2 O’clock. Roger got up on stiff and creaking bones. He stocked up the fire then made half a tin of tomato soup for lunch.

He read afterwards, picking up one of the tattered books on the shelf. He lit a candle to help see by and wrapped woollen blankets around himself. For years, the heating and electricity hadn’t work. The water still ran coming from a underground spring he didn’t have to pay for. He survived by a camping lifestyle in his own home.

It wasn’t the life he had grown up in nor the one he had lived as a younger man. No, it was another sin of being old. The money stopped, yet living had to carry on somehow. This was the best he could do for now.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/12/05/thursday-photo-prompt-shimmer-writephoto/ with thanks).

Ice Skating

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All autumn my little sister had been begging me to take her ice skating. Winter arrived early and stayed late this far north but still we had to wait for the lake to freeze over deeply enough to be safe.

‘Can we go out to check today, Alex?’ she asked me as we ate porridge before the roaring kitchen fire.

‘It won’t have frozen enough yet, Beka,’ I replied, ‘it only snowed a little last night.’

‘Still I want to see!’ Beka cried.

I rolled my eyes and finished my porridge.

‘Take her out Alex,’ mother said from the huge table, ‘today, we are getting the  sweet puddings ready for the Winter Feast day. You two will only get under our feet.’

Both grandmothers, cook and maid agreed.

‘I want to help father hunting,’ I spoke.

‘He left all ready. Now, be a good son and look after your little sister.’

Grumpily, I got ready and the maid helped Beka with her fluffy elk boats, long red coat, gloves, scarf and matching red hat. We meet by the kitchen door, all ready to go out in the freezing morning.

‘You won’t need your ice skates, Beka,’ I said.

Beka pulled a face and shifted the white leather ice skates on her left shoulder, ‘it’s just in case.’

I shook my head, decided not to argue with her and opened the door. An icy wind blasted in and the fire began to gutter. Quickly, we went out and saw a thick frost and light dusting of snow on the ground. The sky above was a steel blue colour and the sun was a weak yellow in the sky.

We walked to the end of the garden, through the gate and around the edge of the woods. Gun shots echoed and a few birds flew up from the trees.

‘It’s father,’ Beka spoke.

I nodded and we walked on to the lake. Ice cold, clear water lapped at a frozen mud shore. A few ducks were swimming in the distant and the little wooden rowing boat was rocking against it’s wooden walk way.

‘See,’ I pointed out.

Beka sighed and looked downcast, ‘it’s no where near frozen!’

‘In a few more weeks it might be. Let’s go out in the boat instead. It might be the last time we can.’

She nodded, we climbed into the boat and I rowed us around the lake.

Glass #WritePhoto

The first frost had fallen that morning. Dill had waited until the sun had melted it before taking his two westies for a walk. There was still some sparkling white patches of grass in the shadows of the hills and in the distance some of the higher tops looked as white as the clouds that seemed to be touching them.

Dill relying heavily on his metal walking sticks, followed the small stone covered pathway towards the lake. He knew this country well, having spent his whole life out here looking after the flock of sheep. Now, that responsibility had moved to his sons and Dill was free of a burden he had never realised he had carried.

Sitting on a bench his grandfather had built, Dill rested his arthritic limbs. The familiar ache in his chest made itself known and reminded him that he was no longer young. Still though he was defiant that old age would not bet him.

He watched the two westies sniffing about and drinking from the edge of the lake. Soon the water would start to freeze over and in the heart of winter, the lake would become a hard glass surface dusted with snow.

The memory of one winter when he was eighteen always haunted him and the sight of the lake always brought it sharply back.

Dill had been driving the sheep towards shelter when one of the sheep had broken away and gone onto the frozen lake. Dill’s then sheep dog, Kip, had refused to go after it. The black and white dog stood on the edge of the ice barking, torn between chasing the sheep and sensing the danger underneath his paws.

Dill hadn’t been able to abandoned the ewe and had decided to go after her himself. He knew the lake had been frozen for two months now and there was a heavy covering of snow across the surface. He could see the sheep in the distance, her dirty huge fleece making her stand out and her dashing hood prints plain in the snow.

Kip had shadowed him in a shy way and when encouraged still refused to fetch the sheep. Dill had given up and carried on walking, using his shepherd’s crook to steady his footsteps.

Far from the shore, Dill felt the snow shift under his feet and came to a stop as a loud cracking sound started up. Covered by thick snow, it was hard to make out the lines of the break. He had felt a little spiral of fear but pushed on. More cracking echoed off the hills and he thought he heard the sound of water bubbling.

Dill could see the ewe and he was so close but within seconds the sheep disappeared. Her desperate cries echoed in Dill’s ears as did the sound of splashing. Quickly, Dill had rushed onward and found the sheep drowning in a watery hole, edged by jagged ice that looked like broken shards of glass. The force of the water and the sheep’s heavy fleece were dragging her down to her doom.

Grabbing fist fulls of the wet fleece, Dill had tried to haul the ewe out. He struggled as the sheep fought him and the icy water tried to claim her. He tugged and tugged, his own feet slipping on the mushing snow and ice. Kip barked and danced around, unable to help.

Finally, Dill had pulled the ewe out and they had lay on the water snow, both exhausted with lake water running off them. Then, Dill had half carried, half dragged the yew back home. Snow had began to fall and he had thought they would never make it but Kip kept bit at his heels and the ewe’s until they did.

Safe inside, they had sat by the kitchen coal fire for the rest of the night. The warmth melting the snow and chasing the frozen lake water from their veins. The ewe had seemed none the worse of almost dying and Dill knew they had both had a lucky escaped.

One of the westies’ licked Dill’s cold fingers, bringing him back to the present. He patted the dog, speaking softly to it. It was time to go back, Dill could feel the coming snow in his shepherd’s bones. Standing wobbly up, Dill made his way slowly home again where a warm fire and steaming mug of tea with whiskey would be waiting.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/11/14/thursday-photo-prompt-glass-writephoto/ with thanks).

In The Boat

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The sun was dipping low and reflecting on the lake’s still surface as if there was a second sun setting on another world under the water.

I didn’t look back as I walked on the planks towards the small blue painted wooden boat that lay in the tall rush reeds. I was calm in mind; empty headed my grandmother would describe it as.

Untying the boat, I pushed it out so the bottom wouldn’t get stuck then got in. I rowed out, noticing the thin mist parting around me and the ripples the oars created. It was all ready freezing out here and a thin frost was settling were it could. I could imagine the morning sun making the frost glitter like candlelight on crystal.

Stopping, I lay down in the boat’s belly and listened to the lapping of the small waves. I shut my eyes and let the cold come to me. Tomorrow, they would find me with frost on my eyelashes and lips. My yellow and gold lace trim ball gown frozen to my body and his last letter against my heart.

 

Castle #WritePhoto

The lake waves lapped at the shore of the island, making the stones on the pebble beach wet. Against a stone grey sky, the dark castle rose up, the towers almost disappearing into the clouds.

The children had been looking for a boat or another way to get across the lake to the castle but they hadn’t found anything. Dipping their bare feet into the cold water, they thought about swimming across.

The oldest three would have no problems, even though it would take them almost an hour to make it. The middle two would have struggled but with help they could have done it. The youngest one though – only seven years old, could not have done it and since none of them wanted to stay behind, swimming was ruled out.

As the boys skipped stones, the girls looked at the castle on the island and wondered what could be in there. A sleeping princess? A handsome knight? Perhaps, treasure guarded by a dragon?

‘There’s nothing in there,’ the oldest boy announced, ‘I went in there last summer and it’s empty.’

The imagination bubble popped, the girls stopped daydream and debated what to do next. The youngest was hungry and wanted to go home, her brother didn’t want to as the boys were building a den in the woods. The girls not interested in this, decided to pick wild fruit and nuts.

By the time they all meet on the lake shore again a faint drizzle had started. They looked over at the castle but could barely see it in the dim light and low clouds which had come down like fog. It seemed the castle had become ghost like with just a faint outline left behind.

‘We should go,’ the oldest girl spoke.

‘Fine, take my sister with you. We are going to swim across and spend the night in the castle,’ the oldest boy replied.

‘That’s not a good idea.’

The oldest boy shrugged, ‘I’ve done it before.’

‘And what if….’ the oldest girl trailed off.

‘You are all chickens!’ one of the other boys shouted.

A brief argument started then the girls stormed off and left three boys to swim across the lake.

 

Days later, police entered the castle looking for the missing boys. Inside, just as the oldest boy had claimed, the castle was empty. The police searched the lake and the woods but the boys were never seen again.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/07/11/thursday-photo-prompt-castle-writephoto/ with thanks).

Catch A Star #3LineTales

three line tales, week 156: stars over the sea

Little Kim looked into the water of the lake and saw the starry night sky reflected on the dark water then turning to the old woman beside her, Kim said, ‘let’s catch the stars, Granny!’

Granny nodded and went back inside the house to collect some jars, then they scooped water up and afterwards Kim stared into the jars looking at the stars, saying ‘I’m going to keep them forever!’

‘But then no one else can enjoy them,’ Granny pointed out, ‘let’s release them and Granny will make you a special soft star that you can keep forever.’

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2019/01/24/three-line-tales-week-156/ with thanks).

 

 

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).

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.)