Brisk

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Autumn’s carpet lay at my feet. The trees above were almost bare having been forced to shed their coats by the strong winds. The sky was grey with rain promising clouds which would add to the water all ready on the ground.

It was the kind of brisked day I liked to go walking through the woods on. The cold reddened my skin, making me feel more alive then the summer’s heat had done. There was also so many different smells to be enjoyed; earth, wood, nut, rot, fire, damp and pine. There was nothing like the scents of autumn!

I could imagine my old dog going crazy through the crisp and crunchy leaves, chasing birds and squirrels. She would also find conkers and acorns to chew up then the biggest sticks to demanded me to throw.

My wife too would have loved this. Autumn was her favourite kind of year and she would cook the most wonderful of foods; stews, soups, hotpots, apple pies, pumpkin pies, fruit pies, ginger biscuits and so much more. She said autumn was her season and you couldn’t beat it.

Alone I now wandered, walking paths once filled with happiness. Autumn makes me both happy and sad, able to forget the hurt and remember more deeply. Out here, I can pretend my wife and dog are just over there, playing in the leaves and laughing amongst the trees.

 

(This story was inspired by the below ASMR sound video)

Christmas Cards

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Sitting back in her armchair, with hands that never stopped shaking, Mary opened the envelopes of the three letters the postman had just put through the door.

The first was an electric bill she would have to go to the post office to pay off. The second was a junk letter about signing up for a credit card and the third was a charity circular  which as well as wanting her to send money for homeless people, contained a Christmas card and gift sticker labels.

Mary looked at the Christmas card, it was a drawing of a brass band playing in the snow next to a town centre war memorial. She smiled and opened the card. It was blank inside.

Putting the other letters aside, Mary got up and placed the card with the handful of others on the window sill, next to the little Christmas tree who’s fibre optic lights changed colour and give little magic to the cold room.

Going back to her chair, Mary pulled a blanket she had knitted over her knees and dozed in front the TV. She was not interested in watching much now, it was mostly the background noise and the sound of voices that made her keep the TV on all the time.

The doorbell rang around lunchtime, breaking into a dream Mary had been having about being a little girl lost in a snowy countryside. Mary stirred, heard the door unlock and open.

A voice called out, ‘Mary? it’s only me, nurse Sandra. Sorry I’m late. It’s terrible weather out and Mr Lambrook fell this morning! Such a fuss! Are you okay?’

‘Hello, I’m fine thanks,’ Mary answered.

Sandra appeared in the doorway, rain dripping off the hem of her health visitor’s blue and white dress. Her dyed bright red hair was tied back into a bun and her face was blotchy red with cold and rushing about.

‘How about I make us a cup of tea and some soup?’ Sandra asked.

‘That would be lovely.’

Watching the lunchtime news they ate and drink, making light comments on the daily events. Then Sandra ran some health checks on ninety-three year old Mary, asked some basic questions and made a few notes.

Waiting for Mary to come back from the bathroom, Sandra noticed the new Christmas card and realised she had received the same one yesterday. Getting up, she left her notebook on the chair and went to the windowsill. Picking up the card, she opened it and saw it was blank.

Placing it back, Sandra looked in the other cards and found that all ten were blank. A few had come from charity letters, one from a high street shop valuing a loyal customer, another a craft magazine sample and two others from packs of cards that donated money to charity when brought.

Sandra felt a wave a sadness. Had no one sent Mary a real Christmas card this year and when was the last time anyone had?

Hearing the toilet flush, Sandra returned to the other armchair and took up her notebook once again. She wanted to write her finding down and suggested Mary was lonely. Sandra knew not much would come of that though, other then another push to get Mary to move into a care home. Mary had repeatedly refused, she wanted to die in the house she had been born in, like her mother before her.

‘Did you manage okay?’ Sandra asked as Mary shuffled into the room.

‘Yes,’ Mary answered though she seem out of breath.

‘Right. I’ve just a few more things and then I have to go.’

They finished up, said their goodbyes and Sandra went out to her little blue car. Sitting there, Sandra looked at the closing door of Mary’s house and wished she could do something to help the old woman.

Well…maybe there was….

The next day, the postman dropped more letters through Mary’s door. Mary hobbled from the kitchen were she had been cleaning up milk she had spilt. Collecting the letters, she went back into the kitchen where it was warmer and opened the envelopes.

There was a Christmas card and inside was writing.

Mary read the words, tears coming to her eyes. Sandra had sent her a card.

Abandoning the other letters, Mary took the card and moving the blank charity one, placed Sandra’s next to the flashing tree.

All day, Mary’s eyes kept going to the Christmas card and she found herself constantly smiling.

The Loneliest Day

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The phone rang, Jen tutted and abandoned the cake batter she had been mixing to answer it. It was probably a cold caller and she should just let the answer machine get it but she had finally got month old baby Louis down for his afternoon nap and didn’t want anything disturbing him.

‘Hello?’ Jen said into the phone.

‘Hi, it’s only me,’ her husband, Mike spoke, ‘I tried your mobile. I thought you might be a sleep.’

‘No,’ Jen replied with a sign, ‘I was in the kitchen.’

‘Okay. I just wanted to let you know I’m not sure what time I’ll be home,’ Mike explained, ‘there’s been a full office computer crash. Some idiot downloaded a virus yesterday and it’s super bad. I’m not letting anyone from the IT department leave till we’ve fixed it.’

‘I see,’ Jen uttered.

‘I’ll get something to eat on the way home. Don’t wait up for me, you still need to rest as much as possible.’

Jen nodded.

‘How is Louis?’ Mike asked.

‘Good. He’s sleeping now and he drink a full bottle before.’

‘Super! I got to go. Got the big boss at my throat. See you later, Honey.’

‘Bye,’ Jen said as the ring tone beeped in her ear.

She hung the phone up then stared at it. Why did things like that had to happened? Jen hugged herself and tried not to let the silence of the house get to her. Feeling a slight chill, she moved back into the warmth of the kitchen.

There in the bright lights, surround by cooking equipment and ingredients she could pretend that everything was normal again. Busying herself with finishing off mixing the cake batter, she was just about to divided it into the paper cupcake cases with a baby’s cry came from the living room.

Jen paused and tried not to rush off. Hoping, he would stop and settle again, She began scooping batter into the cases. She made it to four then give in and went into the living room.

‘I’m coming, Louis,’ she called.

Jen stood over pram then picked Louis up. She mumbled things to him and snuggled him. Then realised he needed changing and went and did that. Wrapping him up again, she tried to get him back to sleep but he seemed too awake. Placing him into the pram again, she wheeled him into the kitchen and parked him up.

Finishing dividing the cake mix, she placed the tray into the oven and set the timer. Washing her hands, she tidied everything up then wondered what to do next. On the counter was a pack of spaghetti and a jar of bolognese sauce, this evening dinner.

‘We won’t be needing this now,’ Jen said aloud and put them away, ‘I’ll have some soup instead and you can have some more milk.’

Louis made a moaning sound and Jen checked on him. He had taken both scratch mitts off again.

‘How do you do that?’ Jen wondered.

She put the mitts back on and wheeled him back into the living room. There, she put the TV back and set the channel to one with afternoon game shows as had became her habit. Picking up Louis, she sat cuddling him on the sofa. He dozed on and off then wanted feeding again.

The timer went off whilst she was feeding him and Jen, who hadn’t mastered juggling a baby and other things yet, had to place him down and go to get the cakes out. Louis started crying and her repeatedly tell him she was coming right back had no effect. Cakes out and left to cool, she washed her hands and hurried back to breast feeding him.

Settled again, Jen felt waves of tiredness drifting over her. Louis was a heavy, hot, soft bundle in her arms. The house was warmer now as the heating had come on. Rain was tapping against the windows and even though it was almost four o’clock, night had rolled in.

Realising, she should close the curtains, Jen got up careful and placed Louis in his pram again. She went over to the window and looked out. The street lamps were on and there were cars and people outside. A front door across the road was open, light pooling out and two people were stood in the glow.

A stab of loneliness hit Jen. Her hands slipped from the curtains. She had been ill throughout the whole of her pregnancy and had to have time off work sick then take early maternity leave. Luckily, she and Louis had got through the birth fine, but Jen was recovering and hadn’t left the house much in the last ten months now.

Family and friends had been regularly visitors throughout those months and Jen was grateful for those mornings and afternoons spent with in their company but the mid-week period was the worse time. It was just her and Louis for eight or nine hours whilst Mike was a work and everyone else was too busy.

Jen closed the curtains and tried to get rid of the dreadful feeling filling her up. She checked on Louis who was fast asleep then went into the kitchen. She ate one of the just cooled cakes and made herself a cup of tea.

To help focus herself, Jen thought about plans for the next few weeks. After her last hospital check up, she would started to go out more. She had seen a mums and babies play group advertised at a local church on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. There was also baby swimming on Monday and Friday mornings at the sport centre. On Wednesdays there was the lunch club at her work that she could take Louis too as well.

‘See? You are going to be fine,’ Jen said aloud, ‘just get better.’

Grabbing another cake and her cup of tea, Jen went back to the sofa. Adverts were flashing on the TV and Jen got ready to watch the next quiz show, feeling that little bit better.

Dear Diary #44 Athazagoraphobia #atozchallenge

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Athazagoraphobia; the fear of forgetting, being forgotten or ignored or being replaced. 

Dear Diary,

Today has been one of those days. The phone didn’t ring and no one knocked on the door. I didn’t really want to sit in front of the TV all day but what else could I do? It’s been raining most of the time and looking miserable in between. Not many people past by my window and I guess the stray cats had somewhere else to be today too.

I tried to do a little knitting, just a scrap of a scarf I started but my hands were too shaky. I give up after twenty minutes. I can still do it every now and again, but I’m missing it more and more. I tried some other things; word searches, dot-to-dot, quizzes and coloring. Anything to keep me going. I did a little reading too of Wuthering Heights but mostly that’s from memory now. I can just about follow the words but they get jumbled.

I’m sure tomorrow there was something I had to do, something I was looking forward to but I just can’t remember it. I tried looking on the post it notes dotted around, my notebooks and my two calendars but nothing was written. It hurts to try and remember for too long then some other faded memory pops up and I start thinking about that instead.

Today has been just too lonely and emotional to bare. I’m laying in bed now, listening to the rain against the window and the wind howling. I think sometimes the weather, the TV and the stray cats are all I have left now. And the people I do see; the post office woman, the shop workers, the landlord, the neighbors I do know, they are nothing as I am nothing to them.

It’s a strange thought but I’ve had enough time to reflect on it now. I’ve accept the way things are. It’s too late to change anything. It always worried me when I was younger; this fear of being forgotten and ignored. I guess it still does worry me but in a different way now. I wanted to make people remember my name liked movie and TV stars but that career didn’t work out.

I’m starting to think that no matter what it’s the same for everyone soon enough. We all get forgotten. When the people who knew you go, if they didn’t tell anyone about you, then who’s to remember you then? If people stop watching the movies you made, using the things you invented, get rid of the things you created it, then that’s when you are officially gone.

And that’ll be us all soon enough.

Job

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If Sophie was being truly honest with herself, the new job was never something she’d really thought about doing. Now, sitting at the reception desk, she cast her mind back and mapped how she had ended up here.

University had promised so much. The new friends, the new skills, the experience of adulthood and when she had left, she had thought herself walking up to employers and waving her degree in their faces. They’d hire her on the spot!

That though hadn’t happened and in the months after graduating, Sophie recalled how she had felt so lost. Sighing, she let her thoughts linger on those two years when she felt like an outcast. Her friends had all moved away and gotten jobs, cars, some had even married and had babies. She, however had been alone and stuck at home.

Volunteering had been a calling she had often answered. Sophie remembered how she had turned to that again. Finding places and people that needed her help. It had been a delighted feeling but her degree had begun to get dusty. Somehow, she had been offered a job out of the blue from one of those places. Even though it was only in the morning for half the week, it had been welcome money.

Then everything had gone down hill. Her boyfriend broke up with her, the support money she had been receiving was cut and her mum got ill. Sophie felt tears growing, she swept them away and stared hard at the computer screen. Last year, had been bad and she wished she could just erase it from history. She pictured taking a calendar and a black marker pen and just going through and blanking all the months out.

Perhaps, though it wouldn’t really matter. The past was the past and she couldn’t get rid of it. But she could just turn away from it and move on. Sophie smiled at that thought and looked around herself. Today it was quiet in the centre and the heater was blowing hot air on her face. She looked down at the contract of employment she had just sighed and even though she had re-read it a few times, she flipped through the pages again.

On the second page, it clearly outlined her dates and times of employment.

A full time job,  she thought, though I totally didn’t think I was ever going to end up here! I made it somehow and now it’s time to embrace that and start living to the full again. 

Postcard #25

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I sit here in this darkened hotel room and look out across the river. Lights reflect across the water, reminding me of the way you danced into my life and then out of it again. Why did you leave? The question has burned within me for so long now, I fear the fire may never go out. I know you are out there somewhere and perhaps one day you will read this. Till then though I’ll keep leaving these notes behind and hoping you’ll find them.

Not feeling it

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I’m just not feeling it today. I woke up too tried and wanting to just stay in bed. The sun was pouring through my window, looking warm and inviting, but I couldn’t muster the strength to move. Listening, I heard the sound of voices and a car engine, I tired to make out the conversion, but couldn’t. Those people were so close to me and yet so far, as if they were in another timeline from my own.

Rolling over, I try to go back to sleep, but it wouldn’t come and I need the bathroom. I could just go in the bed, it’s no big deal. Getting up takes all of the energy I’d gotten from minutes of dozing off before. The coldness of the room wraps around me, awaking me more whilst at the same time driving me back to bed. I grab a blanket, drape myself in it and go to the door.

I open it and look into the living room-kitchen combo of my tiny flat. It’s practically empty as if no one lives here. Taking a few steps down, I arrive at the bathroom and go in. I do what I have to do whilst my mind wonders how I came to be me. Of late, it’s a question that keeps coming up a lot. Why am I me? How did my mind and body become one? Why couldn’t I have been someone else?

I decide to shower. It’s safer then taking a bath, though I long to be surrounded by water again, but I don’t trust myself. Those dark thoughts are forever looming like shadows that play on the walls at night. They call to me often, inviting me to be with them, to become one with the darkness and not have to think anymore.

The hot water helps. I stand under the shower, letting it pour down around me and take everything away. I find a sponge and some lime shower gel which I wash with carefully. I try not to think, but just listen to the sounds of the water hitting me and the bathtub. I wash my hair too because that sometimes helps.

Turning, I stand there for awhile, just letting the water cascade off me. I feel sleepy suddenly, dizzy and drifting as if my mind has been called away. A loud ringing starts up in my ears, covering up every other sound. I switch the shower off, get out and sit on the loo, head down, eyes shut. The faint passes without me going out. Still though, I feel it lingering.

Putting a dressing gown on, I go into the kitchen and make some peppermint tea. I also grab a breakfast bar as I wait. Then I take everything to the sofa and put the TV on to try and dispel some of the loneliness. I sip my tea, tasting comforting mint. I feel better, but now I don’t want to move.

This is my today.

Nothing

Black And White, Night, Dark, Moon

She just wanted to vanish into the nothing, that way she could stop feeling all those heightened emotions. Laying back on the sofa, she let the heavy metal music pounding from the headphones fill her head. She drifted with the drums, the guitars and the lull of the singer’s screaming voice.

Swallowing tear after tear, she wondered if she would ever feel unbroken again.

Love

Heart, Love, Romance, Valentine, Romantic

Everyday he went it into the woods and made love hearts out of the largest fallen branches. One day he hoped to give them to his wife and daughters when he saw them again.

Remember

Christmas, Advent, Christmas Flower Arrangement, Candle

The smell of the candle reminded him of Christmas. Tears came to his eyes and he let them fall silently.