Postcard story

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Dear Charity,

It’s Guy Fawkes or bonfire night here in England. Such a weird celebration to remember the attempted to blow up the houses of parliament in London, 1605. This evening there is a firework display and large fire at the park. I can see it from the window of the hotel. They are also setting up a funfair right now. I won’t be going, no need with my view here. I’ll try and take some photos to show you what it’s like.

Hope everyone is well and I’ll be home in a few days,

Love, Bill.

Postcard Story

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Dear family,

London is mad! It’s huge, so much to see and do. We’ve been around so many museums and shops that my feet are dead! My brain is overloaded right now. Uncle wasn’t wrong when he said we wouldn’t do everything in a week!

Tomorrow, we are off to see the Queen. Though Dee says we won’t really get to meet her, it’s just her house and stuff. But I’ve been practising my curtsy and manners anyway!

Hope the weather is nice back home and everyone is doing well!

Love, Twins.

London #WhatPegmanSaw

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London was everything and nothing like I had believed. The city was constantly moving like the Thames river that divided it. There were always lights, smells and noises, it was so easy to get lost.

I tapped my stick on the pavement and held onto Bonny’s guiding harness. My senses told me that my husband Zak was still walking by my side. All around me were other people moving with great hurry and excitement.

I was scared as was natural in an unknown city but also embracing the new experience. Being blind wasn’t going to stop me from seeing London.

 

(Inspired by; https://whatpegmansaw.com/2019/06/08/london-england with thanks).

Sunflower #CCC

Sunflower Dead

Sunflowers remind me of her. I was twelve in 1940 and a London evacuee but countryside life didn’t agree with me. I was ill all the time and the farmer’s daughter, who was my age, looked after me.

One morning, she brought sunflowers fresh off the field to my sick bed.

‘They cheer anything up!’ she said, ‘sunflowers are my favourite.’

I agreed but it was her who cheered me the most, my first and last love.

We found each other after the War, married, children, a life together but now I putting sunflowers on her grave and she has returned to my memories.

(Inspired by; https://crimsonprose.wordpress.com/2019/02/20/crimsons-creative-challenge-15/ with thanks).

 

 

Dear Diary

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Dear Diary,

Thank God it’s February! I thought January would never end, it felt so long! Sadly, winter is still here and it’s been snowing A LOT over the last few days. There’s probably about five inches out there now, looks like twice that on the hills and peaks!

This morning, I was woken up by loud bleating and thinking a sheep had got stuck in my garden, I got up. Actually, it was a farmer leading his flock through the village. The poor things were covered in snow! I guess they must have been out over night and the farmer was bringing them home.

Strange to think that I’ve become use to such scenes. When I moved to Scotland six years ago, I developed a worry for the sheep I saw. An odd thing for a London born and breed city woman but if you remember my mental health break down was so bad that my anxiety and paranoia were out of control.

The first time a sheep got it’s head stuck in my fence, I freaked out so bad the farmer had to get his wife to help calm me down. It was actually thanks to her that I owed my recovery too. She taught me that Highland sheep were one of the hardiest breeds and they were fine to roam the hills alone. I don’t know why that knowledge help me but it did.

I’ve been thinking that this year I should move back to London and my apartment once more, try to pick up my career again and get on with my life. I’d have to switch the rent back on to my grandparent’s cottage and say goodbye to Scotland though.

That thought just doesn’t feel right now which is weird because I never wanted to come here in the first place. Being here though suits me so much better then being in London, perhaps I should just stay?

 

A Winter Storm #WeeklyWritingChallenge

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Harper went to draw the curtains at the living room’s floor to ceiling windows of her three bedroom top floor London apartment. She stopped and looked out. Normally she could see much of London’s high end business streets, fancy apartment blocks and Big Ben on the skyline.

Tonight though, a snowstorm had hit the city and it was really coming down now. The large, heavy white flakes were sticking to everything, even things that were normally warm. The wind was gale force, gusting at 30-40 miles, creating a white blindness against the darkness and the noise it was making was louder then the London traffic jams far below.

Clutching the curtain, Harper said aloud, ‘I’ve only seen snow like this on TV in those snowed-in romantic movies. Well, it doesn’t look ‘lovely’ to me.’

She closed the curtain on the scene and as she did so she heard Big Ben strike the hour. Frowning, Harper opened the curtains and tried to look out but she could barely see anything. She listened hard but heard nothing then the howling wind.

I thought they were still repairing things, the bell and clock haven’t worked in months. How can Ben chime then? Maybe, I miss heard it? Harper thought.

Closing the curtains finally, she turned away and back to the tidy open living room. The fake fire was going in the wall, the warmth coming off it making everything cosy. The other walls were decorated with framed photos of family and friends, Harper and her husband, Hugo, at there wedding five years ago, on their honeymoon, other holidays and celebrations. The larger frames were decorate with sprigs or small garlands of real green ivy and red berries.

There was a medium size Christmas tree, shinning in the corner next to the fireplace. The red and gold colours of all the decorations and lights give a magical feeling. Other Christmas decorations hung about or were on display from shelves, adding to theme. On and around the glass coffee table were stack boxes of presents, rolls of colourful wrapping paper, bows, ribbon, labels, sticky table and scissors.

Harper went back to the red bean bag chair next to the coffee table, where she had been curled up in before. There was a fresh cup of herbal tea on the table and the TV which was turned down low showed Christmas music videos.

Sipping her tea, Harper looked at her list and decided what presents to wrap next. Not for the first time she wish Hugo was here. She looked up at the photos and his smiling face. He had gone to Germany a few days ago on a business trip and had been due back tonight but the snowstorm had grounded all the planes coming to London and Hugo had phoned hours ago to say he was spending the night in a hotel.

Harper turned the volume up on the TV as a classic Christmas song came on; I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. She hummed along as she started wrapping again. Soon she had drink her tea, sing along to more songs, found enjoyment in wrapping the presents again and Hugo had slipped from her mind.

It grew super late before Harper realised but she had finished the bow on the last present. Yawning, she put everything away and turned off the TV. Hugo had phoned to say goodnight two hours ago down a static line which was then cut off. Harper had held the phone in sadness for a few moments then decided nothing could be done and carried on with her task.

Big Ben chimed midnight.

Harper stopped, her fingers had been reaching to turn the fireplace off. She listened, counting the tolling bell sound. Reaching twelve, she turned the fire off then the Christmas tree lights and went to the window. Moving the curtain she looked out but the snowstorm was still swirling and she could barely see the lights of the neighbouring buildings.

‘Maybe, they have finished working on the clock tower?’ she said aloud.

Dropping the curtain, Harper went to bed and slept well. All that present wrapping had exhausted her.

The next day, Harper found that the snowstorm had almost brought London to a stop. All the roads were blocked by cars and buses not going anywhere as the roads were covered. Pavements were crowed by people trying to go to work or the shops but they didn’t seem to be getting anywhere either. The snow lay thick on roof tops and didn’t seem to be melting.

Harper phoned in work and told her secretary, who always seemed to be in the office no matter what, that she wasn’t going to even try and come in and would work from home. Then she added that if the snow started again, her secretary was to go home, no excuses! Then setting herself up in the study which was the third bedroom, Harper worked the day away.

In the afternoon, the snow started falling again. Light at first but then as the sky darkened heavier. Harper phoned and texted her husband a few times but got no response. She had no idea if he was coming home or not. Harper ate dinner late, setting the table for one and having a glass of red wine to calm herself. She watched the snow falling and the twinkling Christmas at the windows of other apartments.

Big Ben chimed seven o’clock.

Harper lowered her wine glass from her lips and picked up her phone. She did an internet search and found that her thought before had been right; the bell had been stopped from chiming expect for special events, whilst repairs were done to the tower. So, she shouldn’t be hearing it. What was that bell chime then? A local church bell?

Whatever, it doesn’t matter, Harper thought and she had some more wine.

Afterwards, she took the rest of the bottle and sat before the TV to watch some movies. No word came from Hugo and every hour, Harper heard a bell ring. It turned midnight again and sleepily, Harper went to bed.

Laying there, she couldn’t get the idea of Big Ben sounding out of her head though. There was no other sound like it and Harper had lived in and around London all her life, so she knew all the noises well enough. Perhaps, she thought, before sleep claimed her, someone put it on in the spirit of Christmas? 

Next morning, Harper found Hugo asleep on the sofa, still dressed from travelling and suitcase next to him.

‘Hugo?’ Harper called and touched his shoulder.

He stirred and woke up.

‘What time did you get in?’ she asked.

‘Couple of hours ago. Didn’t want to wake you, you looked so peaceful,’ Hugo replied, his voice rough with tiredness.

‘I’m up now, so why don’t you go to bed for bit?’

Hugo nodded and taking his suitcase went into their bedroom. Harper straightened the sofa then had breakfast. Afterwards, despite the food delivery three days ago, Harper decided to go to the shops. It wasn’t snowing, but there was frozen piles on the streets and it was freezing.

Setting out, Harper thought about walking to see Big Ben but it would be too long a walk.

What do you hope to prove anyway? That you’re not hearing things? 

Harper shook her head and walked to a local shops. She got everything to make Hugo his favourite – lamb chops and sticky toffee pudding for after. Then she brought the maps up on her phone and looked to see if there where any churches or chapels close by. They didn’t seem to be any.

Walking home, Harper told herself it was only a ringing church bell after all. Back home, she busied herself with tidying up, checking work emails and her phone. When Hugo got up, they had a late lunch and talked.

Harper decided to bring up the bell, ‘Last night I heard Big Ben ringing. Do you think they put it back on?’

‘I thought it was taking them years to do the work?’ Hugo said, ‘it’s Christmas though, so maybe they have?’

‘I want to go and see it,’ Harper said.

‘The bell? I didn’t think you could…The clock and tower are covered in scaffolding, so there’s nothing to see.’

‘It doesn’t matter,’ Harper muttered.

She collected the plates and went into the kitchen.

That night in bed, listening every hour, Harper heard the bell sound. She couldn’t sleep. Hugo felt too warm next to her and his breathing, plus snoring, too loud. Harper got up, thinking she would get a cup of herbal tea.

Standing by the window, sipping tea, Harper watched fine snow drifting down and the dim lights of the city.

Big Ben chimed three AM.

Maybe, it’s all in my head, Harper thought, I’m so use to hearing Ben that my mind is just filling in the sound? Unless…bells have ghosts. Is that even possible? Have I been hearing the ghost of Big Ben?  

Harper laughed, finished her tea and went back to bed.

The idea of Big Ben’s ghost didn’t want to leave her though. So, the next day, her and Hugo walked to the Houses of Parliament. Hugo had been right; scaffolding ran from floor to almost the top of the tower, hiding the clock who’s hands were stopped. There were a few notices around explaining to visitors what was happening.

‘It says here the work will be complete in twenty-twenty-one and Big Ben will only strike on special occasions, like New Year,’ Hugo read aloud.

‘So, it’s not Ben I’m hearing?’ Harper spoke.

‘Looks that way.’

Harper sighed and looked up – a long way up – at the clock face. Above a dark grey sky was threatening more snow and Harper thought she could feel water drops on her face.

‘Feel better now?’ Hugo asked.

‘I don’t know,’ Harper responded.

She touched her forehead but didn’t feel hot or unwell.

I feel….unsettled, Harper decided.

‘Pub lunch?’ Hugo asked.

Harper nodded and let him led her away.

She didn’t hear the bell chime again after that.

 

(Inspired by; https://secretkeeper.net/2018/12/03/weekly-writing-challenge-170/ with thanks).

The Stranger

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There was a stranger waiting for me when I got off at the underground station. I didn’t notice him as the crowd was heavy and I was in a hurry.

The train left, rushing into the tunnel and people moved upwards to the haze of London air.

The stranger followed me, though I wasn’t aware of it then.

I walked out, into more busy crowds and made my way back home. I knew someone was following me soon after but I tried to convince myself it wasn’t true.

At my apartment door, I glanced over and noticed him. I stopped, wondering what to do.

‘Carol?’ he called out.

He knew my name! but I didn’t know him. I didn’t answer. Would he leave me alone if I said no?  If I said yes, then what?

I had paused for too long, staring at him. There was something oddly familiar about his face and hair color.

‘I’m sorry,’ he said, turning away.

‘Who are you?’ I asked sharply.

‘Your older brother,’ he said softly, ‘our parents had to give me up for adoption because they were teenagers when I was born.’

 

 

Out Of Control #TaleWeaver

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Police Constable Williams surveyed the scene then slightly lifted his heavy black helmet to scratch his thinning brown hair. He had worked this beat for so long, he knew it like the contents of his house. All the people were like old friends and he had a good thing going with all the factory owners.

This though….This was just something Williams didn’t know what to do about. He wrapped his fingers around the handle of his cool wooden police baton, feeling comforted by the familiarity of the weapon. Then, he looked again, trying hard to understand what his eyes were seeing.

In the middle of the busy cobblestone main street was the wreckage of an iron steam engine train. The front was wedged into the upturned pavement, the body angled up to the building above and the coal truck behind flatted against the wall. The start of the first carriage could be above, balanced on the edge but trapped in place by the coal truck. The wheels and pistons were still moving, though the train was clearly going no where.

Bricks and wood planks of the ruined factory which the train had fallen out of, lay scattered everywhere. Grey steam curled for the train’s funnel and there was the smell of burning coal and fire. People were gathered in the protection of the other buildings, looking in horror and shock. Shouts and screams echoed the Wiliams’ ears.

The sound of a police whistle brought the Williams back and he moved carefully closer to the wreckage looking to see if anyone needed assistance. He could not see much due to the raising dust and steam. The noise of the train’s wheels and pistons were loud and blocked out anybody’s cries for help.

‘Constable!’ a voice called.

Williams turned as a young man dressed in a black police uniform hurried over then stopped as he saw the unreal scene.

‘I don’t know what happened,’ Williams answered the unasked question, ‘just fetch some more help will you!’

The young constable nodded and turned away.

Running footsteps from the opposite direction caused Williams to try and appear around the steam train. Out of the mess came a group of men dressed in simple working factory clothes; dirty white shirts, black trousers, leather waist coats, gloves, flat caps and goggles.

‘It was an accident!’ one of the man cried.

Williams recognised him as Thomas Smith, the oldest son of the factory’s owner.

‘A likely story,’ Williams muttered.

‘She just shot forward and there was nothing we could do,’ Thomas explained with some wild hand gestures.

‘And what exactly where you doing?’ Williams demanded.

‘Well, we were-‘

A short man, Williams thought was called Henry Pitcher, nudged Thomas in the ribs, making him stubble over his words and go silent.

‘It’s top secret, sir!’ Henry declared loudly.

‘Well, it’s not very secret now is it,’ Williams said, pointing at the train, ‘answer me, what in the devil’s name is going on!’

‘We just experimenting…’ Thomas came back in, ‘we have all the correct permissions. I can show you.’

Williams cocked an eyebrow, not sure he truly believed that. He had had issues with this group of men before and there ‘experiments.’ It had only been little disturbances before though but they had really landed themselves in trouble.

‘That’ll be proven,’ Williams muttered, ‘can you turn that thing off?’ he asked.

The men looked up at the stream train, the wheels and pistons were still going, steam was still blowing and the sound of the gears was growing deafening.

‘Not sure,’ Henry shouted, ‘we’d have to get up there and try turning things off but the coal will have to burn out before we can really do anything.’

‘It might be too dangerous,’ another man spoke out.

Williams would just have to take his word for it, he didn’t know anything about this new metal monsters, just that he was keen on them.

‘Well, I guess we’ll have to try and get it down,’ Williams mused.

‘Leave it to us, sir,’ Thomas said and the men started to scatter around the steam train.

Soon enough, other police arrived and the crowd had grown larger. Some plan was put in place and with the strength of many men and horses, the train pistons were stopped and whole thing was lowered on to it’s side in the street. The coal truck was also lowered but it was too crushed to be saved.

The night was arriving and with the loss of light they had to stop. Williams lent against the wall of the building next door. It had been along day and he was ready for bed. He looked up and spotted an airship flying low above the roof tops of London, parting through the clouds.

Williams started walking home, thinking; I do not know this world anymore, everything is changing too fast. I guess I had better change with it then.  

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2018/06/21/tale-weaver-176-june-21st-trains/ with thanks).

Dear Diary #35

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Dear Diary,

Summer is here but it doesn’t feel like it. Though that suits me just great. I love the wind and the cold. I’m getting tried hearing people complaining about the weather now through. I wonder what the weather will be like in London next week when I go? Probably hotter. It always has been when I’ve been the three times before. I still haven’t planned what I’m going to do, must sort all that out soon.

And then if my passport stuff goes okay, I’ll be off to Germany, which is still a terrifying thought. Andy will be there though and at the moment being with him is like so awesome that nothing can go wrong.

It’s a weird feeling to realise after being with so many wrong and bad boys that I’ve found a really good one now and luckily he’s been right by my side all along! Perhaps, I’m meet my Prince for real this time?

Oh, it’s too soon to tell! But last time I thought 5 years was long enough and look what happened there….

Anyway, plans to be made and things to do. Here’s hoping this month is good.

 

The Last Day

2016, concert, december 31

Kerry looked up from her book at the muted TV screen. A reporter, wrapped up warm clothes was talking to people in a large crowd. Despite the drizzle, everyone seemed happy to be there. The camera turned away and focused on the London Eye. The big white wheel stood out against the black sky and the city lights. Then the camera flashed back to the crowd.

Blowing her nose, Kerry balanced the open hardback on her knees then added the used tissue to the pile that was gathered around her. Coughing loudly, she settled back down on the sofa under her duvet. She read another page of her book, feeling totally distracted by the drama unfolding on the page.

The TV screen went dark and Kerry’s eyes glanced over at it. The big wheel was shown again and this time the camera stayed on it.

Kerry turned up the volume and put her book mark into the page she was on. A count down had started on the TV and people were shouting the numbers as a clock also flashed them up. Placing the book down, Kerry grabbed the small bottle of champagne. It was still cold from the fridge and there was a sheen of water around the the neck of the clear glass.

‘Zero!’ shouted the voices on the TV.

Big Ben began striking the midnight hour and London went into a frenzy.

Kerry cracked open the bottle, which wasn’t corked, but a screw top. The fizz give a little pop still and she poured it into her glass.

Fireworks suddenly went off, both on the TV and outside her apartment as music played and voices took up singing.

Kerry rose the glass in the air to give a little toast, then she sipped the champagne. It tasted acidic against her tongue. Taking a mouthful, she swallowed and placed the glass down. Her phone beeped with incoming texts. She picked it up and answered them all just as fast as they came in.

Swapping her phone out for the champagne, she took two mouthfuls then looked into the glass. The taste hadn’t improved and she’d only drunk half now. Her phone rang loudly. Kerry scrambled for it, knocking her book to the floor.

‘Hello?’ she answered it.

‘Hi. Feeling any better?’ her boyfriend’s voice came through.

‘A little,’ she replied as she sank back on to the cushions.

‘Happy New Year!’ he added.

Kerry giggled, ‘same to you.’

‘As soon as I get home we’ll celebrate properly.’

‘No. We don’t have to…’ Kerry said.

‘We’ll go out,’ he cut through her words, ‘a nice meal, a movie, drinks after. However you want to do it.’

‘No,’ Kerry said again, ‘I want to stay in. Let’s just sit on the sofa with a movie and popcorn.’

‘Well…if that’s what you want…’ he responded in a dropped tone.

‘Yes. I just want you. Us,’ Kerry explained.

‘Okay, I’ll try and get home as fast as I can then,’ her boyfriend added.

‘Good. I’ve missed you.’

‘I’ve missed you too! I should go though…I can’t see the noticeboard from here.’

‘All right. Text me soon,’ Kerry spoke.

‘Sure. Night!’

‘Night.’

Kerry hung up and looked at her phone screen. On the TV, the fireworks were coming to an end and the reporter had appeared again. From outside came the whizzing of a rocket and sound of a firework exploding into a frizzling noise.

Putting the phone on the coffee table, Kerry tossed the rest of her drink back then put the empty glass beside her phone. Picking up her book, she lay down again and opened the pages. A sneeze hit her before she could start reading and she had to dig out a new tissue. Growling, she lent back and wondered how the start to the New Year could get any worse.