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.

 

What Really Happened #WeeklyWritingChallenge

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This story isn’t about them, it’s about you. Though everyone is going to try and make you believe that isn’t true but at the end of the day what does anyone else actually know? You were there and they were there but everyone else wasn’t and they’ve heard the story second hand and not the first account like you have it in your head.

It was raining in the park and you were walking under your umbrella. You had no busy there and were just out because you were bored at home. You had thought about going to the library but it was shut today. You went into the tree lined way, your favorite area.

Here, the trees reminded you of giant soldiers, lined in welcome and you could day dream about being someone special as you went by. You came to the bench you always like to sit on but today there was a note left there.

The paper was wet but you picked it up anyway and read it. It was a letter to a girl from a boy which started off sweet but then turned sour. The boy was breaking up with the girl, not through any fault but because her parents had told him to.

You felt sad. Why did this have to happen? You wonder about the girl, she’ll feel worse and what would that make her do? Fall out with her parents? Harm herself? And the poor boy! He’d be just the same.

You decide this can’t let this happen, so you take the letter. Why should the young couple be parted? You go to leave, the rain patting off your umbrella and the trees, the letter curled up in your hand. A voice calls out to you, starling you and making you look all around.

A young man comes out from behind a tree where he was been waiting and watching. He demands the letter back. You refused to give it him but he was persistent and says the letter isn’t your’s.

You give the soggy paper back to him. He tells you to go. You watch him place the note back on the bench. You tell him that it’s unfair, there must be another way, two people shouldn’t be heartbroken.

He says it’s none of your business.

You go to snatch the letter but he is closer and faster. He runs off into the trees. You decided because you have nothing else to do that you will wait and see if the girl turns up. You sit on the bench, listening to the rain and waiting.

The girl does come sometime later and before the boy can appear, you call the girl over and tell her all. She is most upset and doesn’t understand why you, a stranger is telling her all of this. You try to comfort her, but she doesn’t want to know.

The boy appears and you watch them arguing under a tree, both sometimes pointing to you. Deciding, you get up and go over, you want to fix things. The couple won’t listen though, they demand to be left alone but you can’t, you are involved now. Though you’ll wish for the rest of your life you weren’t.

You make suggestions about how they can stay together, drawing on experience and fiction. The teenagers are not interested though, they see you as a busy-body and want you to stay out of their business. You explain why you can’t and why you feel the need to help them.

They don’t want your help.

You insist in telling them of a way to escape though. You and a lover once a loped from the island and the young couple can do that to. Though when they question you about that lover, you blank over it – things didn’t work out but why do they need to know?- You tell them to buy tickets for the eleven o’clock ferry and go to the other side to start a new life together.

You pled with them not to let their young love die and to try decided what others tell them. Isn’t first love so innocent? So pure? They need to hold on to that! You try to explain it as best you can but they don’t understand. You give them some money for the boat tickets and tell them to go.

The rain starts to come down more heavily, they look at you then each other. They hold hands and walk away, you watch them go. You head home with a heavy heart and an over questioning mind. Was it the right thing to do? Will they be okay?

You won’t know for days afterwards. Then you see the first TV report. Everyone says it was a tragic accident, the young couple fell over board because the rough sea. Then, that it was murder by one of their parents, a relative, a friend, a hired hit person. Lastly, it was suicide.

It’s never proven what really happened to them. But you know.

(Inspired by; https://secretkeeper.net/2018/07/02/weekly-writing-challenge-148/ with thanks).

Bench Love #TwitteringTales

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Sitting on a park bench, I saw a paper pinned by a rock. With a quick glance, I picked up and read what was a love letter. The named addressee seemed familiar and looking I spotted the same name on the bench’s plaque. I returned the letter and left.

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2018/02/05/twittering-tales-70-6-february-2018/ with thanks).

The Grotto (Part 4)

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I took a shower when I got back home and as I stood under the hot water, I tried to clear my head. Still though the idea that my little niece was growing up and losing her believe in Christmas bugged me. How could I make things better?

My own childhood hadn’t been merry and bright. I knew around Willow’s age that there was no Santa, because nothing would bring my parents back to life. Alex and I had kept up the pretense for my grandparents a little long but then we had all gotten tried of it. We had grown up before we should have done and that was why Alex wanted his children to experience everything for a longer time.

Washing my hair, I wondered if I could write a letter to Willow pretending to be from Santa. As long as I was careful, it might just work. I could do some internet searching and see how to get it right. No one else would have to know about it.

I set to that plan after getting dressed and having something to eat. My granddad normally went out to the pub tonight but with the bad weather he was staying in. Leaving my grandparents to wrap presents, I went upstairs and loaded up my laptop. Making up a letter from Santa was easier then I thought. Only a few times did I wondered if it was the right thing to do and if I should check with Alex. I was done before I could do anything else though.

The next day when I saw Alex leaving early for work as I headed out myself, I called over the road to him.

‘I have this…’ I said fishing the envelope out of handbag, ‘can you put it under the tree on Christmas eve?’

‘Why?’ he asked, accepting the letter.

‘It’s for Willow. Just thought it might help her believing for a bit longer.’

Alex looked at the large cream envelope before replying, ‘I think we’re going to have to tell her. Jo is getting tried of all the questions and with Luke still being ill….’

‘But Christmas is so soon!’ I pointed out, ‘No, you can’t! Next year, maybe. Just give her the letter.’

I shoved his hand and the letter up and did my best sister pleading eyes.

‘Okay,’ he signed.

‘Good. See you later,’

I hurried away and went to catch my bus. On the ride into work, I wondered how Willow would take it. Would she know it was a fake or would it inspire her to carry on believing? Had I done a good thing or not? It was up to the Spirit of Christmas now.

Working at the college library was a bore most days but at least it paid and forced me to carry on looking for other job. Some days, I was able to leave early and go pick Willow up from school which was close by. She finished in three days now which meant Christmas eve was so close! The college had finished last week but the library was still open for those bookworms and panic studying students.

I finished early and since it was too soon to pick Willow up, I went home. The next few days past far too fast, so I didn’t get a chance to tell Alex about my plan. On Christmas eve, I went out with some friends and finally had some downtime. It was good to just forget about Christmas and Santa and believing for a few hours.

Late on Christmas morning, my grandparents and I went went over to Alex’s. We each had a pot or tray of something homemade that my gran had cooked or baked. Jo opened the door and seemed glad to see us. I had not seen her in a few days and she really looked tried.

‘My parents are running late, come in,’ she added.

Willow dashed out of the front room, something in her hand, ‘Auntie Angel! Dad said I could couldn’t open this till you got here!’

Giving Jo the bowl of stuffing I was holding, I went over to Willow and saw the envelope in her hand. She was still in her pajamas which were pink and the top read Princess whilst the bottoms had crowns and hearts on them.

‘What is it?’ I asked.

Willow shrugged and opened it.

I held my breath and bit my lip.

‘It’s a letter…’ Willow trailed.

I hummed and waited. In the background her baby brother Luke started crying and I heard Alex trying to shush him.

‘From…Santa!’ Willow gasped, ‘Angel! He really wrote to me!’

‘What does it say?’ I pressed, trying to keep the smile from my face.

‘He said; I’m sorry I can’t see you in person but I’ve been really busy. My elves and I are finishing up making toys packing the sleigh today. The reindeer are almost ready to fly and I have so many deliveries to make this year. My cousins have been telling me all about you and so have the elves,’ Willow read excitedly.

‘Well that’s good!’

Willow nodded and carried on, ‘it can be hard for me to write to each child, but I do try and will always take the time for those that have been really good. I hope you love the pink unicorn you asked for, it was made just for you.’

She dropped the letter and turned to the front room, ‘you should see her, Aunt, she’s huge!’ Willow cried.

I laughed, ‘what else does the letter say?’

‘That; I hope like the other presents you got too. Have a good Christmas and it’s a special time to be with your family. Thanks for believing in me. Santa,’ Willow took a deep breath, ‘he’s real! He’s real!’ she cried.

I laughed and hugged her, ‘he really is if you believe hard enough,’ I whispered.

Letter To Santa #TwitteringTales

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Dear Santa,

I’ve been really good this year. Please can I have the pink sparkly ponies play set, Girl’s Adventure books, Craft making box and a ton of chocolate!

Also, if you can make it snow that’d be great.

Love, Megan.

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2017/12/12/twittering-tale-62-12-december-2017/ with thanks).

The Repeating Dark

Man's Hand in Shallow Focus and Grayscale Photography

Most people don’t really know they are dreaming. They just wake up realise they’ve had a dream and then get on with their day. Me though, I always know when I’m dreaming. I guess it’s because for years I’ve had the same dream. I’ve never really told anyone about it fully. When I was younger, I told my parents a few times about it but they just said it was a nightmare and it would go away.

The dream never has though.

So why now do I want to share it with you? I guess it’s because we know that by the time you read this I’ll be dead. So, it really won’t matter anymore. I’m worried though that this dream won’t die with me and it might get passed on to you. So, I thought I better write everything down and if the dream ever does come for you then you’d be more prepared and maybe do what I could never figure out; break the cycle.

The dream is the same all the time. Nothing, not even the tiniest detail changes nor does the events. I’ve tried many times to change something, but it has never worked. Also, I’ve never found a pattern for the occurrences. Nothing seems to bring them on or makes them stay away for long. The dream seems like a ghost; appearing and disappearing when it wants to.

The dream begins when you wake up in a dark room. For a few moments, you think you really have awoken and it’s the middle of the night. Then though you began to see things and the realisation that this is not your room dawns. You see a table, an empty bookcase, a tall leather armchair and a window.

As you began moving around, you’ll notice other things; the smell of flowers even though there’s none in the room, the breeze of fresh air though the window isn’t open and there seems to be no door. Soft sounds that you are not sure what they are; voices whispering maybe? Faint footsteps, the patter of animal paws. You feel the furniture, it’s solid and cold.

You study the bookcase and see that it’s not actually empty. There is a book in the bottom corner. Pulling it out, the book is thin and black, you open the pages and see a language that is beyond you. The letters seem to move across the page, twisting and transforming, but still you can’t read them. You put the book back.

Unsure what to do, you go to the window and look out. There is no curtain or netting and the window is sealed. No matter what angle and how far you look, you can never see out of the window. A blackness masks the glass, leaving you no hint of where you are.

You can continue to inspect the room, but you’ll find nothing else. Time might then began to pass but sometimes he appears quickly. Once again, I have found no pattern to his appearance. Sometimes you feel you’ve been waiting mere moments, other times it’s hours or days trapped within that room.

The man always appears though. He seems to come from the window, shifting out of the darkness. Taking the form of a shadow at first, but then becoming more solid. He is a dark man; black from toe tips to the fine strands of hair. Backed by the window as he always is, you can never make out any of his features and often he seems to be one with the darkness.

You can try talking to him, but he’ll never answer back. For years, I have questioned him, but not once has he uttered a word. Perhaps, things might be different for you and maybe he will break his vow of silence. I have also tried different things; standing or hiding in different places, giving him the book etc. But nothing works.

Then he holds his hand out and waits for you to take it. I’ve tried not to. I have fought hard to ignore him and often I have stood facing a corner with my back to him. No matter what, somehow my hand always ends up in his! Then his hand closes on mine, holding it tightly and I feel a strange coolness.

He begins to fade back through the glass slowly. You can’t take your hand out of his. I’ve tried but found no solution. He vanishes totally and you see your hand has gone to and the darkness is creeping up your arm. Even if you panic and scream, nothing can be done. The fear is so over-welling that you get dragged down with it.

Then you are surrounded by total blackness and nothing else can be done.

When you awake because despite everything you always do, the dream will seem gone but it never really does. It lingers at the back of your mind and you’ll catch yourself questioning the dream though you might have been thinking of something else. Nothing will resolve though and the memory of the dream will stay with you like a scar.

I really hope that you don’t have it. I hope it dies with me. But since I can’t be sure, I hope you can find some comfort in this letter and know that you weren’t alone.

Postcard #26

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Dear Ola,

I’ve not made it back to New Orleans. Though you probably guessed that. I got way laid by hunting down that… you know what. So I’m sorry you’ll be spending Halloween alone. But I know you’ll be okay. Did you get the charms I sent you from Africa? I’m sorry I can’t send a full letter or call you at this time. Being in the middle of the jungle has that draw back. I’m lucky to have found this post service who were willing to send this postcard on! I shall see you soon, hopefully before the end of the year!

Keep safe, Van.

Postcard #23

Happy, Birthday, Card, Greeting, Carousel, Horse, Pink

The post landed with a loud thud and I hurried to the front door full of hope. Scooping up the letters I saw a flash of pink, blue and white. Most of the letters were for my parents, but the three at the back were addressed to me. The first was junk mail; a credit card application, but the other two, the ones in the colored envelopes were what I had been waiting for; birthday cards!

The Lost Unopened Letter

Treadwell Heights

Yorkshire

1887

My Dear Love,

I do not know how to write all that I must say to you. Too many times I have started writing and thrown the paper away. My quill has flown from my hand and left ink upon my desk. I have further upset the poor surface by my scattered things. It has all been in vain though, because I have failed in my given task!

My head and heart are in battle and I cannot note either one’s thoughts down. There is too much left to be said and the hourglass has run down. Alas, I still try even though the autumn sky grows darker and rain taps its mournful song against the windows. The servants bring the lamps and lit the fires, causing glows as colourful as the falling leaves against the walls.

You should know that I’ve walked Treadwell’s many corridors all day in the deepest of agonies. I have packed and unpacked my things many times. The maids whisper behind the doors and twice the groom has asked me if he stood prepare a carriage.

So, here it is my Love. I cannot be with you. My heart breaks to write such! It has not been an easy choice and though I yearn for adventures, my place is here. I cannot remove the shackles as you once called them. What will I do without these dusty empty halls and rooms? If I leave Treadwell will be shut forever and surely lost!

I picture you reading this and my heart breaks further. I image you standing on the merry ship’s deck as she leaves the docks and the fading cries of well-wishers. Rain falls softly on the paper like my tears causing the ink to run. Oh, read on my brave lion, I have further confessions to make.

It is not just Treadwell that binds me. Lord Cumberland has asked for my hand and I have decided to accept it. He will restore my beloved home and I shall be an orphan no longer. He and I shall never had what we had, but it will be content enough.

I pray that you do not return, for it will be too late. I hope you have many adventures and never forget me.

For I will never forget you, my one true love, my lion.

Adaline

37

I have always been able to see the numbers. They float in the air above peoples’ heads in an array of colours. It’s the same, I image as people being able to see ghosts or auras. However, this is the first time that I’m admitting to seeing the numbers. If as I child I ever did speak of them, I and family have no memory of me doing so. That might come as a surprise to you because you know kids, they can never keep their mouths shut about things. However, and I shouldn’t be reminding you of all people about this, I was a sick child with disabilities. As far as anyone can remember, I uttered my first words at eight years old then rarely spoke afterwards.

I have just realised that you are probably wondering what this is all about. I’ve not started this letter out right at all, but as my dad all ways says ‘I’ve the brain of a monkey in a zoo.’ I know I shouldn’t fall back on it or make it seem like that’s true. We both know I’ve a lot more brain then that. It’s just, this is all so hard to put into words and even writing it is difficult, but all I think about is that I’ve to get it out of my head and maybe, I won’t have to give you this letter because I’ll have come up with a solution.

So, here it all is. I was driving over to yours’s to propose to you today. I know we’ve talk about and I know how your family feels about two girls being married and all that. I just keep thinking about how much we love each other and want to be with each other. The world needs to buck up and accept it. Anyway, the numbers were above everyone’s heads and they either say zero or one. Sometimes, I’ve seen a two or a three, once I really did believe I saw a four! I stopped at a traffic light and spotted this group of teenagers fighting. I got a bit scared, but told myself I was safe in my car and I’d just put my foot down when the lights changed.

I saw a guy getting stabbed and the number above his attacker changed from zero to one.

I panic and stalled at the lights as the kids ran away. I wanted to get out and go and help him, but I just couldn’t. No one else seemed to have noticed and there was loud honking coming from behind me. I started up the car and drove off.

Outside your house, I tried to get out of the car, but I couldn’t do it. I badly wanted to tell you what had happened and feel your arms around me. I know you wouldn’t have told me I was being silly and it was all in my head, but and I think if you are reading this, we both know the really reason why I couldn’t see you.

The number above your head is 37.

(Writer’s note; if I hadn’t been constricted for time I would have wrote this into an actual short story. Maybe one day I’ll come back to it and do just that. Thanks for reading)