Ukiyo #atozchallenge

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Ukiyo; ‘the floating world’, living in the moment, detached from the bothers of life. 

It was a taste of freedom to be floating so high without a care.

Tsundoku #atozchallenge

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Tsundoku; buying books and not reading them then allowing unread books to pile up together.

I entered my granddad’s house and my heart filled with panic. I was surrounded by piles and piles of books. They reached from floor to ceiling and were stacked everywhere. Narrow passageways lead to each room and you had to sideways step through. I held my breath as I squeezed down the hallway into the living room.

Four walls of books met my eyes. They must have been stacked three or four deep! In the centre was an old, comfy armchair and a reading lamp, but that was all the furniture there. I looked around, titles and book spines flashing before me.

Maybe further inside the house wouldn’t be as bad?

I was wrong! There were books filling the kitchen, the bedroom and the bathroom. It was as if a large library had been packed into a two down to up terrace house, only someone hadn’t realised there wasn’t enough space.

What was I going to do with it all?

I sank on to the armchair and looked around. My head began to come up with ideas; from the simple – getting a skip- to the more extreme – opening my own bookshop or library.

I knew my granddad had been a hoarder of books, but I could never have imagined this.

Somnambulist (Part 1) #atozchallenge

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Somnambulist; a person who sleepwalks.  

Hammering the last of the tent pegs into the soft ground, Chase felt glad to finally have put up the four man tent. Sitting back on on his heels, he made sure the tent wire was tight and the peg firmly in. The thin rope give off a high pitch twang as he flicked it. Nodding, he got up, mallet slowly swinging in an arm that had gone numb with the strain of working.

‘Tent’s up!’ he called cheerfully.

He walked back around and saw his girlfriend building a fire a good few meters away. She had made a rock circle and was now building up a pyramid of branches. An range of camping things were around her as if she been searching through them.

‘You okay, Faith?’ Chase asked.

‘I can’t find the matches. You did pack them right?’ she said over her shoulder.

‘Yes. They were on your list.’

Faith pulled a face and turned to carry on building the fire, ‘You better find them.’

Chase put the mallet back in the tent bag and came to her side. He began searching through the bags. Everything had been in order, but Faith had messed things up. He found the pots and pans, the BBQ stuff, beach towels, tins of cola and clothes.

‘They’re not there are they?’ Faith said, sounding smug.

‘They might be in the car,’ Chase answered.

Leaving things more of a mess, he walked back to the  small red car, which they had parked just out of view in the shade of the trees. The clearing they where in was a jagged circle shape, boarded by tall trees. It was a sheltered spot but very accessible by the little road that ran straight through it from the main one. The clearing was a well known camping area, but most people came in summer or the warm nights of autumn.

Chase had decided that April would be warm and dry enough for this little get away. As he opened the car door though, he had his third doubting moment.

If there are no matches, we’ll have go home. Sure we can do without them, but cold meals? And if it gets colder later? Faith won’t like that. Maybe we could stay the night? I don’t want to take the tent down now I just got it up, thought Chase.

He began rummaging in the car. Hoping that the matches had fallen out or he’d put them somewhere safe before they left. Finding nothing, he double checked everywhere. Maybe, they had slipped down the seats? Maybe, they had gotten to the back of the glove box? Under the foot mats?

Nothing. Sighing, he stood up. Closing everything and locking the car, he went back to Faith.

‘I can’t find them,’ he announced.

Faith sighed deeply and tossed the last of the wood down. She got to her feet, cleaning her hands on the knees of her jeans.

‘You better get rubbing two sticks together then,’ she stated.

Chase shrugged and replied, ‘I’ll give it a shot.’

‘I’ll sort and put things away,’ Faith added.

Chase sat down and began looking for two sticks that would be suitable. Faith collected the bags and began moving stuff into the tent. Around them, a gentle breeze shook the newly leafing trees, birds sing the last songs of the day and the sky was turning dusky. Hardly anything else could be heard, even if a car drove past, the road was a good few miles away so the sound was faint.

After a good few minutes of rubbing sticks and trying to make sparks with stones, Chase give up. He sprawled out over the just dry grass, exhausted. He shut his eyes and tried to think of what to do.

It’s not the end of the world. We have camping lights and cold food we can eat. Can’t cook meat though…or heat up marshmallows. 

‘Have you given up?’ Faith’s voice cut into his thoughts, ‘I’m going to the stream to get water. It’s all ready going dark. So decided what we are eating.’

Chase opened his eyes and raised himself on his elbows. Faith was framed nicely by the dusky pink sky. She looked dirty and tried though.

‘Fine…This isn’t the romantic weekend I had planned,’ Chase responded.

‘That would have been a hotel,’ Faith uttered.

Chase heard her, but he let it go. It was an on going argument, he had given up on.

‘Want a hand?’ he said instead.

‘No,’ Faith declared.

She grabbed the things she needed and stalked off. Chase flopped back on the grass and watched the sky turn into twilight. After a few minutes, he got up and dusted himself down. He walked over to the tent and saw that Faith had all ready pumped up the double air bed. She had put the sleeping bags and pillows on too, making the bed look inviting. 

At the foot of bed, Faith had put the other bags and suitcases. Chase started looking through them then remember that all the food was in the car. Grabbing a tin of cola, he opened it and walked over to the tree line. 

The wind picked up, shaking the trees and the bird song died. Chase paused, feeling a chill across his bare arms. He frowned and glanced around, but he couldn’t spot anything. 

Night has arrived, he thought. 

He went to the car and got out things to make sandwiches and the picnic snacks. He went back to the tent and picked up the camping lanterns. He turned them on and set them by both sides of the tent door. He got making sandwiches. By the time he had put things together for a simple cold meal, Faith arrived back with a bucket of water and another bucket filled with water bottles. 

‘Dinner’s ready,’ Chase declared. 

‘Thanks,’ Faith said, she placed the buckets down next to the abandoned stack of wood and joined him. 

Chase handed her a plastic plate filled with tasty things then started to eat his sandwich. 

‘Chase, have you been here this whole time?’ Faith asked slowly.

‘Yep,’ he replied around a chunk of sandwich, ‘why?’

‘Whilst I was getting the water, I felt like someone was watching me and then after, when I went to….I heard whispering.’ 

Chase paused and looked at her. Faith’s face was full of puzzlement and she hadn’t touched her food. 

‘I called out and there was nothing. I looked around, but I didn’t find anything,’ Faith added. 

‘It wasn’t me and nothing happened here,’ Chase pointed out. 

Faith nodded and began eating. 

To Be Continued…

Rubatosis #atozchallenge

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Rubatosis; the unsettling awareness of your own heartbeat.

The silence was deafening. There was nothing for miles, the desert was seemingly empty of life. And yet, I was here, driving my jeep over dunes, around or through rock formations, heading for a place that always seemed just out of reach like a mirage.

The Archway to Heaven, the locals called it. I had come out all this way to see if it was true. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to find anything but it would be nice if there was an angel waiting for me or if a flight of stairs shimmed up towards the sky.

Finally, I made it to the arch! I cut the engine, got out and climbed up the dune. I stood under the arch and listened. I could hear my heartbeat hammering away and once I’d stilled my feet on the shifting sand, my heart was the only thing I could hear. I felt disturbed and the knowledge that I was alone out here weighed down on me heavily.

The last of the daylight left the sky, the dim gold colours giving over to total darkness. I looked and above me, I saw Heaven.

Querulous #atozchallenge

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Querulous; complaining in a whining manner. 

Mum said I was just too much and this would be better all around. I didn’t believe her though but there wasn’t much I could do about it. I’d never travelled by myself before and it was a long way to go to Aunt Maggie’s. I’d be excited about going on the train, but now two hours later, I was bored.

The train was rattling loudly and clicking over the rails. Rain was hitting the window and the countryside was racing past in blurs of green and yellows. I couldn’t focus on counting sheep or other animals now. For awhile, I had watched the old woman, who I was sharing this carriage compartment with, but then she had fallen sleep.

She reminded me of my great grandmother because of all the wrinkles and old dress. The woman had been reading, then knitting a scarf, then eating lunch before she had gone to sleep. I was tried too, but feeling awake. Leaning against the window ledge, I watched the rain and began thinking.

I wasn’t being sent away because I was bad, mum had made sure to tell me that, it was because she wasn’t well. She needed someone to look after her and there was no one, so she had to go to hospital which meant there was no one to look after me. I couldn’t be by myself, not just because I’m only thirteen, but because I have autism.

Autism is a hard thing to explain to people, so I don’t talk about it often. Mum says, I’m not different, I’m normal, but I just have a special way of thinking and doing things. There are lots of other people like me and they have their own ways too, just like everyone else does. I wish I didn’t have it though. If I was normal, I could look after myself and mum better.

Instead, I’ve to go to Aunt Maggie’s though I’ve not seen her for years and she’s not really my aunt but a very old friend of mum’s. I don’t know how much she knows about me, but mum says she’s really nice and with it being half term, I won’t have to move schools. Hopefully, she’ll be nice and let me play games and read my comic books all the time.

I had been fighting going to Aunt Maggie’s for the last two weeks. Mum had slowly started suggesting it along side explain things to me. I told her I could stay in the hospital with her or someone else could look after me. What about my normal babysitter, Nancy? I really like her and she always makes me laugh. I’d have anyone, I plead; even Mrs. Cramps, the crazy lady who smells bad and lives at the end of the street.

No, mum had said, no one else can do it. Please don’t make this harder. Be a good boy.

I was a good boy, but I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay with her. I wanted to stay in my bed, in my room, in my house. I didn’t want to go to some place new. I don’t like new things, especially if it’s noisy. Mum knew that and still she had tried to make me excited about going. It hadn’t really worked even though the train had been a nice distraction.

That’s how she’d really got me on the way to Aunt Maggie’s and the bag fill of snacks, toys and comics. Now, I was getting close to arriving and meeting Aunt Maggie, my mind had changed again. No longer did the way mum had put things make a difference. I just knew it was going to be too hard. I couldn’t be good if I didn’t like it. That was just the way it worked.

I shut my eyes, listening to the rain falling and the old woman snoring. I’d try my best I decided then if I was really good, maybe I’d be able to go home faster.

Opia #atozchallenge

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Opia; the ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.

He was holding me tightly and I was staring into his brown eyes trying to decide what to do. I felt a weird mixture of emotions and too much was tumbling through my mind to focus. I knew I should say something, but the words wouldn’t form.

His eyes were so intense with the weight of the question that I felt vulnerable. What would he do if I said the wrong thing? I couldn’t think of that. However, I couldn’t think of an answer either.

I took a deep breath and tried to break eye contact with him. I just needed a moment without his gaze. Would he see that as a wrong move though? Catching myself just in time, I wondered what was really holding me back from answering him.

There were too many things….What did I want though? I bit my lip, juggling the words on my tongue. It could only be ‘yes’ or ‘no’ that I squeezed out. My heart knew the right one to say, but my head said the opposite.

Whatever I picked, it would change both our lives.

‘Well?’ he said, finally crumbling at the long wait.

I took a deep breath and hoping I said the right thing, I replied, ‘I love you too.’

Mellifluous (Part 1) #atozchallenge

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Mellifluous; sweet and smoothly flowing sound.

It was her favourite thing to do after work. She would sit back, put the headphones over her ears and find some music to suit her mood. Sometimes it would take a few tries, but then she would hit a smooth song that would be sweet to her ears.

She would relax and let the sounds carry her far away. She’d leave everything behind; her troubles, her thoughts, her dreams, her body. She would drift on a cloud of notes, high above everything, where nothing could touch her.

And there she would find it; nirvana.

Logophile #atozchallenge

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Logophile; a lover of words.

He loved words. They were his passion, life, work and ultimately his untimely death.

Kenopsia #atozchallenge

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Kenopsia; the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet. 

 It was a strange apocalyptic feeling that crept slowly over Georgina as they walked through the abandoned prison.

‘We shouldn’t be here,’ she whispered.

Bayo shot her a look over his shoulder then paused as her saw the cringing expression crossing over Georgina’s face.

Her voice had sounded louder and had echoed more then she had meant it too. Georgina felt like she had broken the second spell that hung over the building by being the first to speak. The first spell had been when they had entered the grounds, ignoring all the warning signs and sneaking under the two wired fences.

 ‘What is it?’ Bayo hissed.

‘This place is gross,’ Georgina said back.

Bayo give a small shrug of his broad shoulders and carried on walking. He was dressed far better for this place then Georgina was. He was wearing high work boots with his jeans tucked into them, a tight t-shirt and a padded coat. His skin was as dark as the shadows around them and his short black hair was a mass of small weaves.

Georgina watched him duck through a rusted twisted metal door then followed him, careful not to snag her blue designer coat, teal coloured mini skirt and matching tights on the sticking out wires. Her low pumps were covered by so much mud and dirt, it was hard to know what colour they were.

Judging from what was now around them, they had entered the first male block of the prison. The other three teenagers had come to stop in the main space and were shining their torches about. Bayo and Georgina joined them and began looking around too. On this floor, tables and chairs had been dotted round. There had been a TV, a snooker table and a table tennis table, giving the inmates downtime. Above rose four floors of cells, many of which had their doors wide open.

Nature had long taken over what had once been a loud and bustling scene. Patches of green and yellow moss covered the floor. Weeds grew in clumps through cracks and black mould coated the ceiling. Water was dripping heavily from somewhere close by. Rust covered everything metal and the paint was peeled.

Georgina shivered and felt like she was being watched. She touched her loose golden blonde hair nervously and making sure it was tucked safely into the hood of her coat. She double checked the coat was zipped up before putting her hands in the warm pockets. Then she turned away and took in her friends. They all looked deeply fascinated.

The only other girl in the group, Phoebe, had her head thrown back and was looking up at the ceiling as if it was covered in precious  gem stones. She didn’t seem at all concerned about what was around them. Her dark brown hair was plaited back and she was wearing hiking boots, old jeans and a thick grey jacket. Her torch light reflected off the grimy walls.

The three boys, including Bayo, seemed interested in exploring the cells. There were a few on this floor, but it was a certain one that they were eager to find. They shone their torches around, trying to figure out the numbers on the doors so they could plan their route.

Georgina moved closer to her boyfriend, Alex. He was the tallest of the boys and had dark spiky hair. His face was rounded and baby like but had a handsomeness to it that Georgina enjoyed staring at. He was wearing black trainers, ripped up dark jeans, a loose t-shirt and a leather jacket. She slipped her hand against his and wormed her fingers in between his so that they were holding hands.

‘I don’t like it,’ she muttered like a tried child being forced into bed.

‘It’s cool,’ Alex answered back.

‘It’s not. It’s creepy and unhygienic. I want to leave!’ Georgina snapped.

‘Go ahead then,’  Tiger sneered.

Georgina looked at him and pulled a face. It was Tiger’s fault they were here in the first place. He was the oldest of the group and Phoebe’s boyfriend. He had short brown hair, sharp eyes and model’s face. He was old boots, tight jeans and a long sleeved top.

Georgina turned away and pressed her face into Alex’s shoulder.

Tiger snorted as if he had expected her not to reply to him.

‘Which one is it?’ Phoebe asked.

‘It’s on the second floor. I remember that much,’ Tiger answered.

He walked over to the unstable looking concrete stairs and began climbing them. Phoebe and Bayo followed, their footsteps ringing out in the quietness.

‘Alex, I really want to leave. There’s something off about this place,’ Georgina whispered.

‘It’s fine,’ Alex responded and drew her into a hug, ‘I really want to see where one of the most famous murderers of all time was locked away.’

‘Why?’ Georgina asked into his jacket, her voice muffled

‘Let’s go,’ Alex spoke, having not heard her.

He took her hand and they walked up the stairs then across to another set and up those. Georgina tried not to look further ahead then the next steps. The open cell doors didn’t seem inviting at all and they reminded her of animal mouths, just waiting for something to walk in before snapping shut.

‘This is it, I think. Number thirty-eight,’ Tiger pointed out.

Alex and Georgina joined Tiger, Phoebe and Bayo at the open cell door.

‘Yeah, they say he drew pictures of his victims with his own blood on these very walls,’ Tiger continued.

He walked into the cell and flashed his torch around. It was empty of furniture, pipes were sticking out were a toilet and sink had once been and the walls were a dark grey and peeling badly.

Phoebe squeezed her way in and touched the wall. She inspected the floor and began looking for something.

‘We’ve seen it now, can we please go?’ Georgina cut in.

She tugged the sleeve of Alex’s jacket.

‘There’s other cells to see on this tour,’ Tiger declared, ‘the hanging cell, the gun shot cell….the showers. Do you fancy a trip to the showers, Georgie?’

‘No!’ Georgina cried as Tiger leered at her.

‘That’s enough,’ Alex growled and moved between them.

Tiger shrugged, letting the whole thing slide.

‘I can’t find the blood pictures,’ Phoebe said disappointingly.

‘It’s okay, babe. There’s more to see,’ Tiger answered.

Georgina looked behind her. There was a wire fence securing the edge and below was the main room. She thought she saw a flicker of movement down there in the shadows. It was nothing though, right?

She tugged Alex’s jacket sleeve again.

‘Okay, we’ll leave,’ he huffed.

‘Whatever,’ Tiger scoffed, ‘we’ll carry on then.’

‘Some other time,’ Alex added to show there was no hard feeling between them.

Tiger shrugged, not caring either way. He took Phoebe’s hand and led her out of the cell. Bayo trailed after them like a guard dog.

‘You okay?’ Alex asked Georgina.

She nodded, her eyes still watching below. There was a figure down there for sure now. He was a massive man with tattoos and he was just wearing shorts. He didn’t appear to be doing anything, just waiting.

Georgina held her breath and watched the man blending back into the shadows. The urge to get out reached it’s peak and she fought back a scream. Biting her lip, she looked up at Alex, he was watching the others head to the next floor.

‘We need to go,’ Georgina forced out.

‘Sure,’ Alex sighed.

Holding hands, they began to head out towards the sunny afternoon whilst behind them their friends walked further into the darkness of the jail.

Jouska #atozchallenge

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Jouska; a hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head.

She was there again in her front garden, sunbathing and relaxing. I’d missed seeing her during winter. Now though, she’d be out there every sunny day and I could watch from the shadow corner of my living room. I know what people would think of me if they knew I was watching her; a spy, a peeping tom, a stalker, a rapist.

I’m not any of them. I’m just a lonely artist who sees the beauty of all female forms. Sometimes I’ll sit here and sketch her, other times I’ll draw her from memory. Most of the time I just like to watch and hold a conversation with her in my head.

‘Hello,’ I would say, ‘nice weather today.’

‘Yes,’ she would reply, maybe lowering her sunglasses.

‘I’m sorry to interrupt you. But I live across the way there and I’ve been admiring you for so long.’ 

She might sigh and try to break the news she has a boyfriend or a husband to me. Not that I’ve noticed one about the place. Or perhaps, she might look closely at me and try to tell me I’m not her type. 

In some of these conversations, she does declare her interested in me, but those are very rare and only when I’m feeling at my most lowest. Most of the time she’ll state a boyfriend.

My reply is always, ‘that’s fine. I’m an artist and I would like to paint you.’ 

‘Well, I don’t know,’ she’d respond and start to blush.

‘Please? You can have the painting. It’s the only thing I wish for.’ 

‘I’d need to think about it,’ she would say whilst getting up.

‘No. Don’t think about it. You wouldn’t have to do anything. Just lay there as you have been doing and I shall get to work at once. Here, I have my paper and pencils all ready. Please, this would mean so much to me.’ 

She’ll lower herself back down, ‘okay….’

‘It’ll be fine,’ I’ll say.

Then I begin to sketch her. Outlining all her loveliness whilst she sunbaths. 

After, I will transfer the sketches to canvas and paint her. It’ll be my master piece. The one painting everyone remembers me by.

If only that conversation could become real…