The Last Letter

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Dear Lucy,

The sickness is growing, I can feel it and if you’ve found this letter it means the time has finally come. I’m now too sick to sick to talk to you. I’ve gone to my bedroom and will die in my bed. Don’t bother coming to see me, there’s no point. My life has been so empty from the beginning that it only seems fitting that I should die alone now.

I’m trusting everything to you. Underneath this letter is the envelope containing my will. Only you and I know about how I live and that what people say about me isn’t true. I want you to up hold that imagine of me though; the quiet, yet social writer and artist. Who attend a different party or grand opening or some other important event every evening. Who’s house was always full with friends and he slept with different women each night. The too kind, mysterious, rich young man I wish I’d been in my youth.

Please carry on writing my ideas and books for me. You were always so good with new technology. I made it so in my will that you were able to write under my pseudonym, that way you can carry on perfecting your craft. You’ll make a great writer someday and finally be able to step out of my shadow.

I’m sorry to have to leave you like this. You have been like the wife and daughter, I daydreamed about having. I feel I should give you more but you already have my name and career in your hands, so what else can there be?

Good luck.

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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.

Letters To Santa

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Meka sink down into the sofa, it was the first time in days she’d had some time for herself. Taking a sip from her wine glass, she placed it down and opened the two envelopes in her lap. It was the first chance she had gotten to read the letters the kids had wrote to Santa.

Starting with her son’s one, she read it quickly. He had asked for a new bike. A bright blue one. She’d got him a helmet too and the new coat he’d seen last week. Folding the paper back up and slotting it into the envelope, Meka picked up the pink one.

Pulling out and unfolding the paper, she read what her daughter wanted.

Dear Santa,

I have been really good this year. I only want one thing and that’s a unicorn! 

Love Ginny. 

‘A unicorn?’ Meka cried, ‘that wasn’t what she said. She wanted a doll’s house.’

Re-reading the letter, just to double check there had been no mistake, Meka put it back in the envelope then placed both letters on the table. Having a mouthful of wine, she grabbed her laptop and began looking for a unicorn soft toy.

Ghostly Secrets (Part 5)

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Annabelle almost tore through the letter itself as she disregarded the envelope. Her eyes flicked across the neat handwriting that she recognised as being her father’s from the countless letters he had sent her. The letter was brief and written to his lawyer about amendments to his will.

My wife has died, he wrote, And I wish to leave the care of my daughter to my sister, Lucy Yeats and provide her a sum of money monthly to look after the child’s needs and education. My country house, should go to my brother, Edward and his wife. If anything should happen to my sister and her family which means they can no longer care of my child, she is to go to my brother. 

Annabelle felt she already knew about that, perhaps her aunt Lucy had once told her. Luckily, none of that had come to pass and she was only staying with her uncle to get some fresh air and recover from illness. She knew she’s soon be back in London shopping with her cousins and discussing possible husbands.

She read on, noticing how her father’s last letter for that was which she guessed it to be, was so different from her mother’s. Her father continued to list money and items to people, namely her and other family members. Then he had signed it at the bottom. Annabelle set the letter down and picked up the envelope to put it back in. As she did so though light from the candle light caught it and she saw that something had actually been written on the inside of the envelope.

Carefully, Annabelle opened the thin paper and read the secret message her father had placed there. The ink was fading and the words so small it was hard to read without holding it up to the light. She felt a chill go through her as she read;

My wife is not actually dead, but she is as good as. Her madness has become too much to cope with. She no longer knows me or her child or anyone else. I have had to leave her in Edward’s care and remove our child to a safer place. My wife can not be cured nor do the doctors know how long she will live for. Often, she raves in French about seeing the ghostly form of her mother and we are finding it hard to keep servants in the place.

I need a death certificate but so far I have been unable to find a doctor who will sign one. They think perhaps, I mean to cheat my daughter out of inheritance. My will must be prove enough that I do not wish that to happen. We must arrange a meeting between us and a doctor who will assist us. It should be at the church were my sons are buried and everything done in secret for the time being.

The letter ended and Annabelle fell into a deep reflections. She had once had brothers and all the things she had heard about her mother’s passing had been wrong. Everyone had made her believe it had been in child birth, but all along it had been some other illness. And the ghost! Was the hunchbacked old woman actually her grandmother? Perhaps that explained why she could not rest for she wanted Annabelle to understand what had happened and for things to be settled.

Putting the envelope down, Annabelle picked up her mother’s letter and read it in a new light. The words made better sense now and Annabelle felt her heart breaking further.

I have not much time left, her mother had written, I can feel it. Some days I know my husband by his face and voice, but other days he is a stranger to me! I can not remember much other then my baby is gone to join the others in the grave and my young daughter has been sent to London. I hope that she is spared my illness.

The north tower has become my home and often I think of the poor child of my husband’s brother. That child lived here too, hidden from the world because of his deformity and the family’s shame. I think sometimes I can hear screaming and scratching at the door. My mother visits often in her ghost form. I have for years tried hard not to talk of her, but I can no longer hold it back. Still she does not speak and it is always past the midnight hour when she appears.

What will become of my child? I always think of her when I come back to my senses. I wish to she her, but my husband says she is gone and will only come back when I am better. I have heard the doctor’s whispering and I know I never will survive this. I want to leave. I want to get out of this house, it seems to have some supernatural powers, maybe it is cursed or evil lives here. My husband does not believe me, but I think I could get better if I only left!

My child needs to be kept away from this place. I fear for her if she ever comes here.

Clara. 

  Annabelle dropped the letter and burst into tears. How had they kept this all from her? She put her head down on the desk, resting on her arms and cried for sometime. Exhausted she then fell asleep and had fitful dreams.

The room was darker when she awoke because some of the candles had burnt themselves out. Annabelle got up and went to the door. It was still locked. She bang her fists against the wood and began shouting loudly. Someone must come!

However, when she paused to drag in deep breaths, she heard nothing but the slow creaking of the house. Annabelle looked at her hands and saw they were bruised. Wondering what to do she swept about the floor and decided to see if there was another way out the room.

She searched for a long time, testing all parts of every wall and even the floor, but the rooms give up no more secrets. Hungry and tried she give in and lay down on the bed. Holding on to the fact that someone would soon start looking for her, she fell asleep.

She dreamed of her parents in the manor house. They were running down the corridors and in out of the rooms, they were chasing each other and laughing. She watched them from the point of view of a baby until they vanished into the folds of the house.  She cried loudly, begging they come back to her, but they did not reappear and she was left alone.

Annabelle woke with a start, her ears still ringing with the crying of a baby. She sat up, pushed her hair behind her and listened. The crying was still going on. Getting up, she walked around, but could find no source of the noise. She returned to the bedchamber and the desk just as the crying stopped. Annabelle saw the hunchbacked old woman waiting by the foot of the bed.

‘I know now!’ Annabelle cried, ‘I know what happened, but I’m trapped in here. How can I tell my uncle and aunt?’

The ghost looked at her and turned towards the door. Slowly, she floated over and went through the door. Annabelle dropped her shoulders and felt all the energy leaving her. She rose a hand to her head as she felt pain growing and then it was gone. She heard the door click open and slowly move inwards.

Annabelle hurried to the door and opened it fully. The ghost was standing in the hallway lighting the way as the last candle in the room went out. The old woman began moving and Annabelle followed to her chambers.

At the door, she thanked the ghost and promised to make things right, then she went into the room which was warm and blazing with light.

Ghostly Secrets (Part 4)

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Annabelle stopped then pulled the curling envelope out of the jewelry box. She turned it over and looked for anything written on it or a seal, but there was nothing. She placed the rest of the jewelry back in and opened the envelope, her heart fluttered as she did so, but before she could stop her moving hands, the piece of paper was out and before her eyes.

She read it slowly and the words began to weigh heavy in her mind. It was strange, but even before she saw the name at the end, she knew her mother had written it. She re-read the letter and though it was not addressed to anyone, perhaps her mother had wrote it for her.

A noise and voices outside in the corridor drew her attention and Annabelle folded the letter back up, tucked it in the envelope then placed it up her long sleeve. She blew out all the candles but the one she had brought with her then slipped through the hidden door and blew out the candles in the library. Going into the bedchamber, she paused because the door into the hallway was half open.

She backed up, shielding the light of her candle away.

‘What were you doing in there, girl?’ a sharp man’s voice that Annabelle recognised as the butler’s asked.

‘Nothing, sir,’ Annabelle’s maid squeaked back, ‘There was a cat, you see and I was chasing it away and then I saw the door was open and thought it had gone in, but it had not. I am sorry, sir.’

‘The door was open?’ the butler mutter before raising his voice again, ‘that’ll be all. Get yourself back in the kitchen, girl! And I never want to see you in this part of the house again or I’ll have you removed. Do you understand?’

‘Yes, sir, right away, sir.’

Annabelle heard the running of feet then the door banging too and the clicking of a lock. She held her breath and kept pressed against the door frame. Her body was shaking and heart was beating so loud she was sure someone would hear it. After a few moments, she heard heavier footsteps walking away and she let her breath out. Still though she did not move and she counted a minute before entering carefully into the bedchamber.

She had removed all the candles before, so only the one in her hands offered any light. Annabelle found her way to the door and tried the handle. She pulled the door, but it would not moved. Panicking, she tugged the handle harder, but the door was clearly locked and not moving.

She opened her mouth and cried out then shouted for help. Annabelle listened but heard nothing. She paced before the door, her skirts swishing around her and she tried stay calm. Finally, she decided to relight the other candles and place them around her.

With more light, she could see the bedchamber better. The bed clothes and hangings were musty and she avoided touching them so there was no further rising of dust. She went back to the desk and sat down at the chair. She took the envelope from her sleeve and rubbed it against her fingers.

Opening it again, she took out the letter and re-read it. Annabelle let out a little gasp as the words on the paper sunk in. Her hand rested on her heart and she read like that till the end. Trembling, she put the letter down and looked at it. The words blurred before her and she realised she was crying.

Wiping her eyes, Annabelle tried to figure things out. She had always known her mother was half French, that was were she had gotten her name, but she had not known her mother had lived here. Her mother had died when Annabelle was young and her father had given Annabelle over to the care of her other aunt and she had been brought up with her three cousins.

Annabelle had never given any real thought to the mother she did not know, but now so many questions were coming into her mind. Sliding the letter away, she picked up the sealed envelope that she had avoid opening before and tore into it.

To Be Continued…

Family Secrets (Part 4)

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Em’s eyes scanned over the objects in the steam trunk. There was a heavy mix of papers, thin books, photos, objects wrapped in newspaper and letters. Instead of looking through them, Em stood up and ran her hands over the inside of the lid. It was covered with flowery wallpaper which was peeling at the edges.

She dug her finger tips into the top right corner and pulled down. The inside lid easily give way and dropped quickly downwards. Em tried to shelter the contents from flying out, but all they did was bounce before settling. She looked over them, finding for a few seconds all the baby stuff a strange compared to the old woman items.

Em knelt down again and started picking up things and moving them neatly to one side. Sometimes she would linger on items like the small teddy bear, the blue booties, the small patchwork blanket and a baby’s white jumper. When she came to the only photo of the baby, she stopped. She looked closely at the image and saw  her very young self cradling a small pink baby. He was wrapped in a hospital blue blanket and just the side of his head could be seen.

With one finger she touched the baby’s head and wondered where he was now. All the memories rushed back taking over her completely. Sighing and giving into her sobs at last, Em dropped her head. She cried hard, letting everything out and the tears wash over her. She curled on the floor, her body shaking and no longer able to keep herself up.

Slowly, her sobs grew quiet and the tears stopped. She wiped her face and pulled herself up. Gently placing the photo back in, she closed the inside lid on those memories again. Using her jumper sleeves, she scrubbed her face and palms. Glancing at her grandmother’s things, she pulled out a few letters to distract herself with.

Opening the first one, she saw it was a love letter. It was one she’d read before and she knew it was to her gran from her granddad’s childhood friend who was also looking for Em’s grandmother’s attention. Reading it, made Em smile. Putting it back carefully, she opened another one and saw it was a returned letter that her gran had wrote to her granddad close to the end of the Second World War.

Scanning it, the history of her family opened like  a book in her head. She fell into that, forgetting for a few minutes her own past as she became lost in someone else’s. Once she was done, she put all the letters back and closed the steam trunk lid. She turned the key in the lock then removed it. Getting to stiff legs, she put the key back on the roof beam.

Weaving her way out of the attic, Em wiped her face again and felt her cheeks still damp. At the hatch, she turned out the lights and went down the ladder. When her feet hit the bottom the sound of the TV came fully back to her. Folding the ladder up, she closed the attic hatch and went into the bedroom.

It had grown darker and she turned on some of the lights. Catching herself in the mirror, she saw her dust smudged face and clothes. Not stopping to see what the TV was now displaying, she went into the bathroom and had a shower.

The hot water combined with the smell of lime and lemon body wash cleared her head.

Why did I even go up there in the first place? Em thought, did I think it would be different this time? I should get rid of all that stuff. 

‘No!’ Em cried a loud.

She pressed her hands to the wall, the water rained down and soaked her hair.

‘I can’t…’ she shook her head.

Sniffing, she tried to hold it together and told herself that it was okay. Em straightened and started washing her hair. Letting all the thoughts go again. Hair washed, she got out and wrapped herself in a massive towel. Glancing back at the shower, she longed to be back under the hot spray again.

Drying herself as she left the bathroom, the sounds of the TV called her back. Going into her bedroom, Em put on a nightdress and turned off all but her lamp. Then she curled in bed and watched the news telling the world’s updates. She felt herself drifting, but not wanting to be alone, she left the TV on.

Snuggling down, she dozed and felt sleep easily take her away.

Dear Diary #22

 

Dear Diary,

It’s too quiet in the office. I forgot it was half-term and nearly everyone has booked today off. It’s strange seeing so many empty desks, it’s like the staff have all got up and fled as the Doom chime sounded.

Sitting at the front desk is even worse. At least though the phone sometimes rings and someone walks through the door. Ah, the postman is here. I’m not nosy, but sometimes I just get drawn in wondering about people’s correspondence with each other. It’s poor pickings this morning. There’s a small gardening magazine, a letter for someone who left a few months ago and a leaving card for someone who’s moving to another department next week.

Nothing worth pondering over. Also, today is one of those days were I don’t have much work to do. That’s why I’m sat here, writing this down and looking out of the window at the coming rain. It was meant to be nice today, but it’s clouded over so fast now it looks like a cold grey sea hanging  above the buildings.

There’s a slight rattling in the back and running water. It’s only the cleaners finishing up. Seems like they were on a late start this morning. I can hear them talking, passing on some gossip about someone’s affairs. They come to the front desk, saying cheery goodbyes before heading into the now drizzling weather.

I watch them walking away, chin resting on my hand and a small smile on my face. Then I’m back to daydreaming when I can escape into the stormy sea scape of the day.

 

Past Affairs

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Bill found the box whilst digging a new bed for his potatoes. The spade hit the metal tin with a dull chiming sound and vibrated in his hands. He used the tool to scrap off the soil and uncover the item. With his bad back, it took him a full minute to bend down and tug out the box. The earth rapidly filled the hole in removing all trace of the space.

Bill studied the square tin, it was heavy and any pictures or words were long gone. Using the spade he climbed out of the hole and back on to the allotment. A drop of rain hit his bare neck and he ambled over to his shed.

Pushing open the door with his elbow, he stumbled in. The light was already on and casting a glow on the work bench and a deck chair. Putting the spade against the wall, Bill sank into the chair. He grabbed an oily cloth and scrubbed it over the box. When he’d removed nearly all the dirt, he studied the tin again, but couldn’t make anything out. With a shrug, Bill tried to open it. The lid refused to give way and his fingers couldn’t find a good grip. He looked around and spotted a rusty screw driver on the floor close by.

He lent over and picked it up. It was the perfect tool to use and in seconds, he’d popped the lid off. He placed it and the screw driver carefully on the floor then looked inside. There was a collection of papers; letters and postcards, as well as a handful of trinkets.

Bill pulled out the first postcard, which had a seaside scene on the front, flipping it he could just make out the faded handwriting:

My Dearest Petal, I miss you more each day. The sea is my only companion and it can’t be compared to your gracious spirit. How long till I see you again? I do not know. That day in the gardens is forever with me and I see it every time I close my eyes.

 L.Hughes

Brightmore House

Yorkshire

Frowning, Bill read the address out aloud. He’d never heard of Brightmore House. Yet he had lived in Yorkshire all his life. Also, he didn’t know any Hughes. He shook the tin and heard something metal bounce back. He shifted through the paper and pulled out a gold chain, which had been lying close to the bottom. On the end dangled a small locket. With slightly shaking, but curious fingers he praised it open.

Inside was a tiny black and white photo of a face. It appeared to be a man with long hair, a strong chin and large cheeks. Bill held the image close to his fading eyes, but he couldn’t decipher anything else. Checking the locket he saw nothing inscribed upon it, so he put the photo back and closed it. Placing it back in the tin, he pulled out an envelope and eased out the thin sheet of paper.

It was too faded to read and he needed more light. It was getting late anyway and he should head home. However, something had grabbed him about the tin’s contents and he wanted to find out more. Bill heard the rain start to fall faster and heavier. He made up his mind.

With the tin tucked under his arm, he locked the shed and hurried back home. As he entered the cottage, he was relieved to find that his wife had started the fire and dinner. He pulled off his boots and coat before going into the living room. Heat licked around his cold damp skin as he sank into his armchair.

He put the tin into his lap and opening the lid drew out the same letter. Turning on a lamp, he began reading.

Dearest Petal,

                      I have sent the money you have asked with this letter. Please use it to come to me. The nights have been countless and empty without you. My heart pains to hold you again and I feel so utterly lost without you. I am still over welled by the bad news in your last letter. I have prayed that no one finds out, though the possibility of your angelic mother talking tortures me so. Everything has now been sorted and I have the tickets to Africa in my pocket.

Darling, I can’t wait to elope. Do not fret about anything. Please come as soon as you are well enough to do. There should be no problems bringing your maid. Write back to me and let the boy leave the letter at The Black Bull.

 

Your lover

‘Bill, is that you?’

‘Yes. Mag,’ he called back without looking up. He could tell she was still in the kitchen by the sound of her voice. He placed the letter back in the envelope and pulled out a small handkerchief. Inside was a dried out forget me out flower.

‘What you got there?’

Bill looked up and saw his wife standing in the doorway.

‘A box ‘o letters,’ he replied, ‘dug it up.’

‘Letters? Who from?’

He shrugged and rooted around for the seaside postcard. He held it out to her and Mag, after drying her hands on her apron, came and took it from him.

‘Looks like I’ve uncovered some kind of love affair. What do you think?’

‘Maybe. Perhaps you should put it back? The past’s secrets are always best left buried in my opinion,’ Mag said, handing him the postcard.

‘Of course, Dear,’ Bill replied.

‘Dinner’s in a few. Go wash.’

Bill nodded and Mag left the room. As he thought over his wife’s words, he knew he just couldn’t do it.