Snow Light

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My car’s windscreen wipes struggled to clear the heavy snowflakes away. I turned them all the way up and that helped somewhat. Everything around me was either white, grey or black like I had entered an old fashioned movie dead of colour.

I clutched the steering wheel tighter and listened to the faint rock music from the CD player. A glance at the Satnav and it didn’t looked like I had moved much. The time of arrival kept going up instead of down and I gritted my teeth.

If it had been anyone else but my dying father, I wouldn’t be out here now driving from my honeymoon in this snowstorm. I rounded a corner and saw in the beam of my headlights two stark trees clawing at the grey sky.

I had to pee and my ankle was cramping.

Pulling over under the trees, I got out but left everything running. The worse thing right now would be the car to breakdown.

I went behind the tree and got up real close as there wasn’t much cover here. I unzipped, aimed and relieved myself. Feeling better, I pressed my head against the tree and took a few deep breaths of frozen air.

Then for a few minutes, I walked about and stretched. The conversation with my mother came back to me as it had been doing on repeat since I had hung up the phone this morning.

‘Christian, your father is really sick. You should come to the hospice.’

‘I know but there’s a snowstorm and I can’t leave Jan up here alone.’

‘Bring her with you.’

‘And have us both stuck in the snow? No. I’ll come.’

‘I think it’s almost time…’ mother sniffed down the phone.

I rolled my eyes, she and father had been saying that for the last three months. It’s why Jan and I had brought the wedding forward but still dad hung on. I didn’t want to leave my wife in our honeymoon cabin in the magical snow covered forest, but there was no other choice.

Feeling the chill sinking through my thick coat, I got back in the car again and drove once more. Still the snowfall. It was like a blanket on the bare land softening the hardness of winter.

There was no other cars on this country road, sensible of everyone but it also meant the road wasn’t gritted and the wheels felt like they were sliding. I took it easy, watching all the time for dangers because there was also the gloom of night looming.

I thought of Jan and how she would be curled up before the fire, reading and waiting for me to call. Had I done the right thing leaving her behind?

‘I don’t mind either way,’ she had said, ‘do you want me there when he passes?’

‘He won’t pass. He’s too stubborn. This is just another false alarm.’

‘But you are still going?’

‘Yes. For mother’s sake more then his. He’s out of it most of the time anyway thanks to the drugs.’

‘Christian, it’s really coming down outside. Will you be okay driving?’ Jan had asked.

‘I’ll take it easy.’

I hugged, kissed her and said, ‘I love you, wife.’

Jan giggled and replied, ‘I love you too, husband.’

Now, I regretted leaving her and I wished I had told my mother no but what if dad was finally going and I wasn’t there when he died? I couldn’t have forgiven myself to that.

The snow became blinding and I had to slow further. I couldn’t stop though and turned my thoughts to how when I reached the main roads and motorway it would be easier. I tried to relax and just concentrate on what was ahead of me though that was only about a few inches.

Was that lights ahead? I frowned and and squinted. It looked like just one light. A motorbike then? But who would be insane enough to drive a motorbike in the middle of nowhere, in a snowstorm?

A creeping feeling raised the hairs on my arms and had the strange urge to pull over. Why? I couldn’t say. I wrestled with myself for a minute then despite not wanting too, the steering wheel was turning and I was bumping off the road into a low ditch.

Confused, I let go of the wheel and sat there, listening to the wind howling and the car engine rumbling. Where was the light I had seen? I waited for something to pass me by but nothing did. Had it been a reflection off something? I had read somewhere that snow could cause something like that.

Shrugging, I went to pull back onto the road but the steering wheel wouldn’t turn.

‘What the hell?’ I uttered aloud.

I turned the wheel this way and that whilst pressing on the pedals but the car didn’t move. The engine revved then fell into it’s comforting rumbling as I stopped trying.

‘I don’t need this! I really, really don’t need this! Come on! God damn it!’

I hit the steering wheel with my palms and threw my head back into the head rest. I shut my eyes and breathed angrily. Thoughts went through my head and I decided to get out and see what the problem was.

Opening the door, I walked around but could see I wasn’t stuck in the mud as I was frozen ground. The ditch also was only slightly lower then the road. I opened the bonnet and looked inside. Everything seemed fine in there.

I got back in the car, snow melting off me. I picked up my phone and saw I had no signal.

‘Typical! Just typical!’ I shouted.

I blared the horn in anger, got out again and slammed the door shut. I walked up and down, blaming my parents, the cancer, the snowstorm, the car, myself until my legs and arms felt frozen stiff.

Getting back in the car, I looked at the Satnav to see if there was any civilisation nearby. Perhaps, there would be a helpful farmer? Or maybe I was close to the village? The Satnav came back empty, just showing the red lined road I was on and nothing close by.

I turned off the car engine. Not sure what else I could do.

Sitting for a few minutes, I watched the snow burying my car and strangely recalled how one summer holiday my dad had let me bury him in sand at the beach. Mum had taken a photo as we had all laughed. Then we had got fish and chips followed by ice cream. Dad had then carried me back to the hotel as I dozed in his arms.

I smiled and began to recall other favourite memories. Finally, I came to one about my first diving lesson and how I had scared my dad as I had almost hit a wall. We had laughed about that long afterwards and he still wouldn’t get in a car with me driving today.

Shaking my head and laughing, I turned the engine on and the car started up. Handbrake down, foot on pedals, gear in and turning the steering wheel, the car obeyed me and pulled back onto the road.

‘What was all that about?’ I cried.

Unsure, I carefully began driving. Everything felt normal and like there had been no problems back there at all. Shrugging, I carried on my journey.

Two hours later, I arrived at the hospice and went to my dad’s room. He was sleep with the blanket pulled up to his chin. My mother was sitting beside him, face hidden in a tissue.

‘I made it,’ I whispered.

Mum looked up her, her face tear stained and eyes red, ‘he’s gone,’ she stuttered and threw her arms around me.

‘When?’ I asked.

She mumbled the time and as I held her I cast my mind back.

He had died at the same time I had seen that light and my car had stopped working.

Valentine’s Snow Heart

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Kyia came into the kitchen and saw a pile of snow shaped into a heart on the table.

‘Why is that there?’ she asked her boyfriend, Max.

He was sipping coffee and looking at his phone, seemingly not aware of the slowly melting snow next to him.

‘What’s where?’ Max asked, distracted.

‘The snow on the table,’ Kyia pointed out.

‘It’s Valentine’s day and I thought it would be a nice hiding place for your present.’

Confusion passed over Kyia’s face then she begin searching through the snow heart. Her fingers found something hard and she withdrew a sliver ring with a central diamond.

‘Will you marry me?’ Max asked.

Choice #WritePhoto

I don’t know what had driven me outside in this weather. Maybe, the argument with my wife was to blame? Still, it was the choice I had made and now I was paying for it.

Laying on the hillside just above the small river, I tried to get a grip on things. Pain was shooting through my left leg in only the way a broken bone can do. Somehow I had slipped on the wet grass, tumbled down the slope and hit some rocks. My head hummed with confusion and the pain was also making it hard for me to think.

I took in some deep breaths and contracted on the flow of the water. The small river seemed so loud as it bumped and splashed against the moss covered rocks. It was higher then normal because the bad weather and the snow from the higher land.

A few minutes later, my head cleared and I got on to the emergency services. Search and Rescue were on their way. It took them over an hour and whilst I waited, I watched the river and the wind in the trees. I was cold and wet, though my waterproof and winter hiking clothes helped.

I thought about how things might have been different. What if I had died out here?

I phoned my wife and told her. She flew into a panic and it took me an age to calm her down.

‘I’m fine. Everything is going to be okay,’ I spoke, ‘I’m sorry for what I said. I didn’t mean it, you know that. I love you.’

Through the sobbing, I heard her reply, ‘I love you too.’

‘The rescue team is here now. I see the search dog!’ I cried out then added, ‘Darling, meet me at the hospital as soon as you can.’

‘Yes, yes,’ she burbled into the phone, ‘see you soon.’

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2020/02/06/thursday-photo-prompt-choice-writephoto/ with thanks.)

Leaf Pile

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Raking leaves should have been my son’s job, just as it was mine as a kid. However, my son is gone and has been for twenty-three years. He had been ten years old, a boy full of life which had been cut short.

I pause in my raking, leaning on the smooth wooden pole as I get my breath back. Looking up at the left front window of my house, I see my wife standing there. She is stroking her short white hair, her mouth moving as she speaks but her eyes are not watching me, they are staring into the distance.

The dementia has her mind in a tight grip of late and some days she doesn’t know who she is. In my heart I know she doesn’t have much longer to live but I can’t let her go. I wave at her and get no response back. She carries on playing with her hair and speaking either to herself or to someone she thinks is there but has long since passed away.

Getting back to work, I pull the dry leaves together into a pile, freeing the grass from the quilt blanket the leaves create. I wouldn’t burn them but put them on the composed heap to be used in planting my show flowers in the spring. Garden is the only thing I have left to enjoy now.

The front door opens and I hear my wife shouting. Her words are garble and it’s hard to pick out what she’s trying to say. She pulls at her hair and dress as she comes down the path.

‘What is it, Olive?’ I call.

She ignores me, trapped in a world of her own.

I go over and leaving the rake against the side of the house. She’s clearly in distress but there is no way she can tell me what’s wrong. It could be she believes she is in a different time and some moment there has triggered the upset.

I talk to her softly, calming her though she seems unaware of me, ‘it’s fine, whatever it is. I can help. You are okay. I’m here.’

I reach for her but she waves my hands away and carries on shouting out what seems to be just random words, ‘not here! Gone! Come back! Where is he? Don’t know what to do! Alex! Alex! Frog in the hallway. Frog, frog, frog! Gone! Gone!’

It’s hard when she gets like this. I want to get her back inside and sat down but she would fight me all the way and last time she pushed me down and I almost broke my arm. I know I’m too old to deal with her now and leaving her care to a specialist would be best. I can’t though. I can’t let her go….

I pick up a stray leaf and press it into her hands.

‘Look Olive, isn’t it pretty? Listen to the sound it makes,’ I say.

She crunches the leaf, tears it up and lets the bits fall from her hand. She stares in fascination.

I give her another and another. She crunches them in her fist and tosses the leaf pieces to the wind. They blow around in the breeze and she watches them go.

I take her hand and led her to the pile of raked up leaves.

‘Where is Alex?’ she asks.

‘At school, my love,’ I reply.

I can’t explain that he’s been dead for years because she won’t understand and though it hurts, it’s easier to lie.

‘School?’ she repeats as she picks up leaves and plays with them, ‘he never comes home. Never. I miss him….When will he come? When, when?’ she cries with desperation.

‘Soon, dear, soon,’ I reply gently, ‘come back inside now. It’s cold out here and you are not wearing a coat.’

I take her arm and guide her away. She starts muttering to herself again, words I can’t catch or understand.

Once inside, I get her in front of the TV, feet up and wrapped in a blanket. Her eyes are distant. She isn’t here, she’s off in the past, some place I might not remember or don’t want to recall.

I stay with her until she is settled enough to be left again. The news is on the TV but she’s not watching it but the sounds of the voices help her to feel not alone.

‘I’m going out again but I’ll be there if you need me. It’s getting dark and I want to finish,’ I say.

She says something which is lost on me.

I get up, go to the front door and on the mat is a crumbled brown leaf. I pick it up and take it outside, feeling a pain my heart that never goes.

Kitchen Sink #FridayFictioneers

I hadn’t been on holiday in years and now getting away for two weeks on honeymoon seemed perfect.

Of course, I had been packing for weeks. Not sure what I’d need in Italy which was a place I had always wanted to visit.

At the airport my husband turned to me and said, ‘looks like you’ve packed everything! Which suitcase is the kitchen sink in?’

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/11/06/8-november-2019/ with thanks).

Get Away #FFftPP

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The Spanish accommodation didn’t look like the photos on the internet but Mel and Alex weren’t bothered. Their apartment was clean, cool and cosy just what they wanted to return to after a day of exploring.

The stone building was old but built to last with flowers and trailing plants everywhere. There was a nice cold swimming pool at the side and a lawn for kids to play on, though thankfully there didn’t seem to be many children here this week. Most would be going back to school now.

Mel and Alex had just wanted to get away for a week and this holiday hadn’t been planned at all. That’s why they weren’t fussy about things, they were just happy to be relaxing and far from busy city life.

Taking deep breaths of warm, flower fragrant air, Mel stood in the doorway feeling so happy. Alex came behind her, all ready for a morning by the pool side. They kissed, pressed their foreheads together and smiled.

‘I’m glad we decided to do this, husband,’ Mel spoke.

‘Me too, wife,’ Alex replied, ‘let’s go swimming.’

Hand in hand, they walked to the pool and swim in the cool shimmering water.

 

(Inspired by; https://flashfictionforthepracticalpractitioner.wordpress.com/2019/08/28/flash-fiction-for-the-purposeful-practitioner-week-39/ with thanks).

Over The Wall #TwitteringTales

He heard music and laughter coming from the other side of the wall. Curiously, he stuck is head through the balustrades and saw his newly divorced wife having a party with her friends. She looked happier then she had been in years.

 

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2019/06/18/twittering-tales-141-18-june-2019/ with thanks).

 

 

Madagascar #WhatPegmanSaw

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It was the trip of a life time. A world way from what they had always know. The honeymooners, married three days ago and now celebrating. They walked hand in hand, barefoot on the soft sand beach, pointing out that sight or this.

Strange animals filled the air with noise and scampered around as the sea lapped boats and the shore. A warm wind stirred the dry air and rattled the palm trees. Native voices in the distances called as fishermen returned from their morning’s work.

The honeymooners basked in the sun, relaxing. Lost to everyone but each other.

 

(Inspired from; https://whatpegmansaw.com/2019/05/11/what-pegman-saw-madagascar/ with thanks).

Komorebi #AtoZChallenge

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Komorebi; sunlight that filters through the leaves of trees.

Six months trapped in hospital with a brain tumour and I didn’t want to spend another moment in doors. But my wife and nurse insisted on a few days resting and strength rebuilding at home before I went back to my hobby of hiking.

‘Take it easy,’ my wife said as we arrived at the forest trail.

‘I shall do,’ I replied and we set off.

Spring was high in the air. The flowers and leaves on the trees out in full and the gentle breeze carried their scent to me. Birds were singing loudly, making the perfect music to our walk. Sunlight was coming down through the trees, creating dancing patches of light on the ground.

The air was so clean and fresh, a shock after the disinfected air of the hospital. There was colour everywhere, so different from the blandness I’d been in. Warmth kissed my skin and I looked up at the sun through the trees’ leaves. I took deep breaths, eyes shut, let the light play across me and relaxed fully for the first time in almost year.

‘Are you okay?’ my wife asked.

I nodded.

‘I’ve missed this,’ I said quietly, ‘nature is the best healer.’

New #WritePhoto

Sunlight started to undarkened the sky as Teagan and Mason stood on the hill side. It was a strange moment to be caught in both natural dark and light watching the sunrise. A quietness, which felt like held breathe, created a paused between the changing times.

Teagan wanted to say something about how it felt like they were waiting for a great mystery to be reveled to them but she couldn’t frame the words right. Instead, she held Mason’s hand tighter and watched the melted yellow sun breaking through the clouds.

They had come up here from their hotel room, driving first then walking the hill, to celebrate their first day of marriage life. It seemed fitting to watch the sunrise, even though the celebrations were still ringing in their ears.

A bird choir broke the silence with their welcome day song as the sky turned a wash of colours and night officially slipped away.

Teagan lent into Mason and put her head on his shoulder. He slipped his arm around her and kissed the top of her head. Nothing needed to be said, no words could describe the experience, it was all about feelings.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/02/14/thursday-photo-prompt-new-writephoto/ with thanks).