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).

Spike #3LineTales

three line tales, week 158: a border with a barbed wire fence

Holding my dog Spike’s collar, we both watched my husband, Adam, putting up the barbwire on top of the new chain link fence in the back garden.

Adam glanced down from his ladder at me and my mastiff, with a grumpy look that said he wasn’t happy for a number of reasons.

I  threw my arms around Spike into a tight hug and whispered, ‘this is the final straw, Spiky, you get out chasing cats, dogs and neighbours again, it’ll be dogs’ home for you and heaven knows what’ll happen then, promise to be a good boy from now on, okay?’

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2019/02/07/three-line-tales-week-158/ with thanks).

Boxing Day

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Heather looked into her new pug puppy’s bed. There was a small golden box.

‘What is this?’ she wondered.

‘He forgot to give that to you yesterday in the excitement of everything,’ her boyfriend Ben said.

Heather laughed, unwrapped and opened the box. Inside was an engagement ring. She turned to Ben who’d gotten down on one knee.

‘Will you marry me?’ he asked.

‘Yes,’ Heather cried.

Measured

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Jen walked into the shop, excited. The woman ask to help and Jen held out her ring finger to be measured.