Writer Struggles

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I can no longer feel it in my heart and soul. Where once I had energy and passion there is only a dry husk. I feel there is nothing left inside of me to write about. Every place I look for motivation I find none.

Sitting at the bus stop or lingering in a closing cafe, I listen and watch the people just like I have done for years. My mind draws no pictures around them. They are normal people with normal lives. Not fantasy heroes or Victorian heroines ready for adventures.

Searching in the library, I find books on writing, but I’ve read them all before. I look for more, anything that draws my attention, anything that might get the gears working in my head again. I leave with my arms full of books and spend all day and night reading, but it doesn’t solve my problem.

I go to the doctor and tell him the voices have stopped talking in my head. He smiles and says but isn’t that what everyone wants? What’s the problem? I shout back, but I’m a writer and my life depends on those voices! He shrugs, tells me to eat healthier, have a holiday, and take up a new hobby.

At home I lay in bed, watching spider shadows across the ceiling. I think about what if I’d not been born me. What if I’d been born someone else? Like my doctor or the old lady who always gets the same bus as me. What if I was leading a totally different life right now?

Would I miss writing? Would I even know I had a gift?

I once had a gift.

Now there’s only empty space inside of my head with cotton candy clouds floating by. I wonder if Heaven is like this?

In the morning, I get up and pack a suitcase and rucksack. Of my writing suppliers, I take only an old comforting notebook and a favorite pen. I go to the train station, choose the next train to the furthest away place and buy a one way ticket.

Hopefully inspiration will be waiting at the end of the line.

Be A Better Person

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It had been a rough year. Everything that could have gone wrong had. Normally people have bad days and weeks, but for me things had kept spiraling. Now, I was forcing things to be up again. So far it was working.

I guess there weren’t many people who didn’t know about my struggles which is why I had no idea who left the handmade postcard in my diary. It had to be someone at work because I’d not left my diary unattended anywhere else.

There were no clues on the card though. It simple said two things. ‘Better’ on the front in bold bright letters and ‘Be a better person’ on the other side in bright blue. It had been printed off a computer, so there was no handwriting to go off.

I sat at my desk, holding the postcard in both my hands and staring at it. The office chatter had died down as it was lunchtime. A few people were still working away but they are all too far in the background.

‘Be a better person,’ I said aloud, just to make sure I had read the words.

What a strange thing to say.

It didn’t feel motivational or inspiring.

I stuck the postcard next to my computer screen and looked at it. My mind was reflecting on what someone was trying to tell me.

My moods and behavior hadn’t been good lately, but that was understandable. My husband’s affair, the divorce, finding out his new wife had given him the baby I never could have, my dog dying, the car crash and month in hospital, almost losing my job and house. Did that make it reasonable that I’d become an emotional and mental wreak?

The word “better” was sticking with me. Why not strong? or powerful or something else. Of course they could mean it in the get well sense, but even then….

I picked up the postcard and tugged it back into my diary. It was just too distracting.

Oh well….At least whoever left it meant well…..

 

(Please note this is a work of fiction. None of it reflects my real life.)

Voices

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I had always know my son, Caleb was different. How often had I stood at the kitchen window watching him talking and playing with someone who wasn’t there? I had blamed it on imagination. He was an adventurous child, forever wanting to do things and chatting away.

He had a normal up bring. Yes, he was an only child but his father and I were happily married. We did lots of family things together and with both of us being teachers, we had Caleb embrace education. He was perfectly fine in school too, always getting high grades and having lots of friends. He was healthy and loved sports.

Under that though, there had always just been something…

When he was twelve he still had imaginary friends. He could be playing in his bedroom, the garden or at the park and you could hear him talking aloud. It would seem at first he was talking to someone, an adult or another child, but then you just knew he was talking to himself.

‘Who is it you are talking too?’ I asked him one summer’s day.

Caleb was sitting on the lawn, a few toys scattered around him and I was hanging out the washing. It was the summer holidays and though we normally send him to a summer school or camp to be with other children, he had refused to go this year.

He turned to me, a toy tank in his hand and looked up through his choppy fringe which needed cutting.

‘No one,’ he replied.

‘You’re too old for imaginary friends now,’ I pointed out.

‘They’re not imaginary,’ he muttered and went back to playing.

‘Oh, then who are they? Are you on the phone?’ I asked.

‘No. I’m thirsty. Can I have a drink please, mum?’

‘Okay,’ I said slowly.

Pegging the last sock on the line, I walked back into the house. From behind me, I heard Caleb whisper, ‘she’s going now. Tell me more about the War.’

I almost turned around but I didn’t. I made him a glass of orange squash and took it outside. He was playing like a normal child, rolling his tank over the grass and making gun like noises as he reacted a battle with his toy soldiers.

Of course, I then spoke to his father, his teachers, the parents of his friends and they had for years noticed the same thing that I had; Caleb was seemingly talking to someone all the time. The idea that he should’ve grown out of that by now stuck with me and I became determined to figure out what was wrong with him.

Finally two years later, I got him in to see someone from the mental health, but Caleb wouldn’t talk. We had maybe four sessions then that was it. For awhile after, I thought it had worked, he was quiet and sullen, a typical fourteen year old most would say. It wasn’t the truth though.

Instead of finding hidden adult materiel in his room, I began finding notebooks filled with what seemed to be stories and conversations. There was no title or dates, just a run on of writing. The stories covered lots of different time periods. There was one about a WW2 fighter pilot, who was blown out of his plane over Germany spent the rest of the War as a POW. Another, told of a little boy who was tricked into going down into a well and died there when he became trapped.

I put the notebooks back every time and I tried to bring them up in conventions without reveling I knew about them. Caleb shrugged it off, ignoring my suggests that he was interested in writing and journalism.  I had to let it go in the end.

Caleb made it through high school and college. He got top of the class grades and he went on to a good university to study to be a teacher. We were both proud of him. When he moved out though, the house became empty, almost sad like. We got by though. Work kept us both busy and we were looking into fostering and maybe adoption.

The news hit out of no where, almost three years after that, just as Caleb was doing his finals. I was sat in my headmistress’ office, reading emails when the phone rang. I picked it up like normal, thinking it a call from a parent or teacher etc, but it was Caleb’s university tutor telling me that Caleb had been found dead in his student room. He had hung himself three days ago.

A strange feeling went though me, it was like sand slipping through my fingers in slow motion. The tutor’s voice sounded dim and everything around me had begun to fade. I couldn’t think clearly. I dropped the phone and just sat there.

We had to go and pack up his student room. I was running on automatic and so we just moved his stuff back into his bedroom. I just kept thinking that Caleb had moved back in and he was out with his friends. It was months, maybe close to a year before we actually went through all of his things.

Sitting on Caleb’s bedroom floor, sorting things out into piles, my husband and I worked in silence. It was raining heavily outside and the wind was rattling the windows. A storm was on its’ way. I dug through a cardboard box and began pulling things out.

In a handful of notebooks and even in between his uni notes, he had written strange stories and conversations which so reminded me of the notebooks I had found when he was younger. These were not like any stories he had written before though. They were horrible, filled with violence and death.

I found a diary. It was a fake black leather covered A5 size with lined pages for each date. I had never known him to keep one before and as I flipped through the pages, I saw he had written about hearing voices in his head. Some days were blank or he’d simple put;

I didn’t hear any voices today. 

On other days he had written things like;

A voice told me a new story today. I wrote it down, like I do with all of them. These voices are more then just those of fiction characters. They are so real. Maybe they are ghosts? I’ve never believed in that though. But how else can they be explained? 

Then about four months before his death, I found this;

The voices were bad today. I have one at the moment that keeps telling me to kill myself. I’m fighting it like I do with all the others but it’s so strong. It doesn’t seem to have a story or talk to me like the others. It questions if I’m good enough and what’s the point and that every will be better if I just pick up the knife and bleed.

I shall try to contain it. I know what the voice is saying is wrong.

Two months later, Caleb had wrote;

The “suicidal voice” has gotten worse. I can’t sleep and I’m not eating much. The voice has taken over and it’s constantly whispering to me. It tells me over and over to kill myself. It says pain is good and so is blood. My life is pointless, I’m useless, nobody loves me or wants me. I can’t think of anything else but that voice.

All the other voices have gone now. They have vanished and even if I try to think about them and speak to them, I can’t. The “suicidal voice” blocks them all. I don’t know what to do. I need to tell someone. I need help. But what can I say? I’ve been hearing voices all my life, Doctor and now I’ve got this voice repeatedly telling me to kill myself. No one will believe me!

I felt tears running down my face. My husband was saying my name but I ignored him and turned to the last page my son had written on. He had put;

I can’t cope any more! Everything I’ve tried hasn’t worked! Listening to the voice is the only choice I’ve got now. I’m going to do it tonight. 

I pressed the pages to my face and burst into tears. My son had been a schizophrenic and no one had ever known about it.

(Story inspired by local research into hearing voices at Manchester University  https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/research/projectdetails/?ID=3083)

On The Other Side #3linetales

three line tales week 58: a man behind a fence

The fence would always divided us,

physically, mentally and emotionally.

It was the barrier I could never break down.

 

(Inspired from; https://only100words.xyz/2017/03/09/three-line-tales-week-58. Photo by Jake Oates via Unsplash)

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. 

Little Brother

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We always knew when my brother was coming. Everyone knew. My mother would hurry around the house, removing everything that wasn’t nailed down and locking it in her bedroom. She would put the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs and make sure the back door and windows were all locked.

I hide in my bedroom, playing Xbox 360 games and listening to music till it was over. Then she would call me downstairs and we would stand in the living room, waiting. Looking out of the window at the neighboring houses, I noticed their drawn curtains and how quiet the street had become. So usual for a Saturday afternoon, but it was like this every other weekend.

The sound of a mini bus engine broke the stillness and I saw flashes of white from the other side of the hedge. My mother walked out of the room and to the front door, long skirts swishing around her. I stayed put tightening and un-tightening my fists, wondering what was going to happen during this visit.

The door opened and voices came from the hallway. I turned, sighing deeply as footsteps approached then my brother appeared in the doorway. He looked the same as always, a tall, thin mid-twenties man, with too short blond hair and bright blue eyes. He looked too pale, like he was ill, but really he just needed more sunlight. He was wearing black jog pants and a plain blue t-shirt and black jacket.  He smile at me, made a gurgling noise then inspected the living room.

My mother and a male carer from the disability home appeared. They sat on the sofa and fell into the normal conversation about how my brother had been. I watched them for a few moments then decided I should go and put the kettle on. I went into the kitchen, aware that my brother was trailing behind me.

I ignored him and went about making everyone a cup of tea. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my brother opening cupboards and searching through them.

‘No. Peter. Stop,’ I said firmly.

I closed the cupboard he was in and took his hand. He made some moaning sounds as I dragged him back to the living room. Pushing him through the door, I went back into the kitchen again. He shouted something and followed me again. I crossed my arms and watched him opening and closing another cupboard door.

Putting the drinks on a tray, I took them into the living room and placed them on a table. With thanks, my mother and the carer took mugs and carried on talking. I sat down in the armchair next to the window and faked interested outside. I just wanted this to be over already, but there was still two hours to go.

‘He took part in art yesterday and he’ progressing well,’ the carer’s voice drifted over.

‘And has he been eating okay?’ my mother asked.

‘Not really, but he’s been better then other week. He’s been fussing less, but we are still finding it challenging.’

From the kitchen my brother let out a scream and the sound of water rushing out of the tap could be heard. My mother shot me a look, which I pretend not to see. She got up and brought my brother back into the room.

‘Drink your tea, Peter. Adam, made it just for you. It’s nice,’ my mother said.

She sat my brother down in the other chair and give him his tea. Even though it was far too hot to drink, he sipped it anyway. He made some happy giggling sound then in three or so gulps drink the whole thing.

‘Fastest ever tea drinker,’ the carer said.

My brother got up, handed the mug to him and wondered out of the room again.

‘Adam. Go and keep an eye on him,’ my mother demanded.

Groaning, I got up and started trailing my brother throughout the house. He went into the kitchen again and messed around in there before going to the dinning room. He scared the cat and chased her around, till she scratched him and I had to stop him from kicking her. Picking the cat up, I took her to my mother, then followed my brother upstairs.

He went into the bathroom and was using the toilet before I could give him some privacy. I pulled the door too and stood there rubbing my forehead. A headache was building already. I heard the toilet flush and the sink tap running. My brother made his happy noises then squealed.

I rushed in and turned the taps off. He’d burnt his hands again. I give him a towel which he just dropped on the floor. Ignoring me, he walked out and down the hallway. He went into his old bedroom and I followed him. I turned the light on and watched him looking at a few childhood things on the shelves.

My mind pinged with an idea and I opened the wardrobe. I pulled out a box and opened it. Inside was a train set. Sitting on the floor, I begin to take it out and set it up. My brother watched me for a few moments, then joined me. In silence, we made a track and played with the trains. Then my brother broke into loud laughter.

He smashed two of the trains together and laughed even more.

‘No. Don’t do that! Stop!’ I shouted.

A train whizzed past me. The sound echoing in my ear. I turned my head and saw the toy land in the doorway. I started turning back and the second train hit me in the face.

‘Peter! Bad!’ I yelled.

My brother just laughed.

Growling, I snatched up the train set and packed it away. Collecting the two train engines, I shoved them in last and put the box away. Then I walked out and into my own bedroom. I locked the door behind me and sat on my bed. I rubbed my face, which was stinging, but not cut.

Hands banged on my door and my brother began wailing. Trying to ignore him, I grabbed a pillow and wrapped it around my head. He started kicking my door and screaming.

My mother’s voice rang out then I heard her and the carer wrestling my brother away. They took him downstairs where I heard him throw a tantrum. It took them a long time to calm him, then I heard the front door open and the mini bus engine.

Soon my mother was knocking on my door. I just wanted her to go away, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I let her in and we sat on my bed. I told her what had happened and she put an arm around me. Offering me a little comfort.

‘You must try harder,’ she said.

I fought down my words. It was pointless arguing. She left and I stayed on my bed thinking about how easily I could have been born my brother and he could have been born me. Both of us are unlucky, but he has come off worse. I know I should be grateful for the life I’ve got, but I’d rather we’d not been born because for us living with autism is just too hard.

Ghostly Secrets (Part 5)

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Annabelle almost tore through the letter itself as she disregarded the envelope. Her eyes flicked across the neat handwriting that she recognised as being her father’s from the countless letters he had sent her. The letter was brief and written to his lawyer about amendments to his will.

My wife has died, he wrote, And I wish to leave the care of my daughter to my sister, Lucy Yeats and provide her a sum of money monthly to look after the child’s needs and education. My country house, should go to my brother, Edward and his wife. If anything should happen to my sister and her family which means they can no longer care of my child, she is to go to my brother. 

Annabelle felt she already knew about that, perhaps her aunt Lucy had once told her. Luckily, none of that had come to pass and she was only staying with her uncle to get some fresh air and recover from illness. She knew she’s soon be back in London shopping with her cousins and discussing possible husbands.

She read on, noticing how her father’s last letter for that was which she guessed it to be, was so different from her mother’s. Her father continued to list money and items to people, namely her and other family members. Then he had signed it at the bottom. Annabelle set the letter down and picked up the envelope to put it back in. As she did so though light from the candle light caught it and she saw that something had actually been written on the inside of the envelope.

Carefully, Annabelle opened the thin paper and read the secret message her father had placed there. The ink was fading and the words so small it was hard to read without holding it up to the light. She felt a chill go through her as she read;

My wife is not actually dead, but she is as good as. Her madness has become too much to cope with. She no longer knows me or her child or anyone else. I have had to leave her in Edward’s care and remove our child to a safer place. My wife can not be cured nor do the doctors know how long she will live for. Often, she raves in French about seeing the ghostly form of her mother and we are finding it hard to keep servants in the place.

I need a death certificate but so far I have been unable to find a doctor who will sign one. They think perhaps, I mean to cheat my daughter out of inheritance. My will must be prove enough that I do not wish that to happen. We must arrange a meeting between us and a doctor who will assist us. It should be at the church were my sons are buried and everything done in secret for the time being.

The letter ended and Annabelle fell into a deep reflections. She had once had brothers and all the things she had heard about her mother’s passing had been wrong. Everyone had made her believe it had been in child birth, but all along it had been some other illness. And the ghost! Was the hunchbacked old woman actually her grandmother? Perhaps that explained why she could not rest for she wanted Annabelle to understand what had happened and for things to be settled.

Putting the envelope down, Annabelle picked up her mother’s letter and read it in a new light. The words made better sense now and Annabelle felt her heart breaking further.

I have not much time left, her mother had written, I can feel it. Some days I know my husband by his face and voice, but other days he is a stranger to me! I can not remember much other then my baby is gone to join the others in the grave and my young daughter has been sent to London. I hope that she is spared my illness.

The north tower has become my home and often I think of the poor child of my husband’s brother. That child lived here too, hidden from the world because of his deformity and the family’s shame. I think sometimes I can hear screaming and scratching at the door. My mother visits often in her ghost form. I have for years tried hard not to talk of her, but I can no longer hold it back. Still she does not speak and it is always past the midnight hour when she appears.

What will become of my child? I always think of her when I come back to my senses. I wish to she her, but my husband says she is gone and will only come back when I am better. I have heard the doctor’s whispering and I know I never will survive this. I want to leave. I want to get out of this house, it seems to have some supernatural powers, maybe it is cursed or evil lives here. My husband does not believe me, but I think I could get better if I only left!

My child needs to be kept away from this place. I fear for her if she ever comes here.

Clara. 

  Annabelle dropped the letter and burst into tears. How had they kept this all from her? She put her head down on the desk, resting on her arms and cried for sometime. Exhausted she then fell asleep and had fitful dreams.

The room was darker when she awoke because some of the candles had burnt themselves out. Annabelle got up and went to the door. It was still locked. She bang her fists against the wood and began shouting loudly. Someone must come!

However, when she paused to drag in deep breaths, she heard nothing but the slow creaking of the house. Annabelle looked at her hands and saw they were bruised. Wondering what to do she swept about the floor and decided to see if there was another way out the room.

She searched for a long time, testing all parts of every wall and even the floor, but the rooms give up no more secrets. Hungry and tried she give in and lay down on the bed. Holding on to the fact that someone would soon start looking for her, she fell asleep.

She dreamed of her parents in the manor house. They were running down the corridors and in out of the rooms, they were chasing each other and laughing. She watched them from the point of view of a baby until they vanished into the folds of the house.  She cried loudly, begging they come back to her, but they did not reappear and she was left alone.

Annabelle woke with a start, her ears still ringing with the crying of a baby. She sat up, pushed her hair behind her and listened. The crying was still going on. Getting up, she walked around, but could find no source of the noise. She returned to the bedchamber and the desk just as the crying stopped. Annabelle saw the hunchbacked old woman waiting by the foot of the bed.

‘I know now!’ Annabelle cried, ‘I know what happened, but I’m trapped in here. How can I tell my uncle and aunt?’

The ghost looked at her and turned towards the door. Slowly, she floated over and went through the door. Annabelle dropped her shoulders and felt all the energy leaving her. She rose a hand to her head as she felt pain growing and then it was gone. She heard the door click open and slowly move inwards.

Annabelle hurried to the door and opened it fully. The ghost was standing in the hallway lighting the way as the last candle in the room went out. The old woman began moving and Annabelle followed to her chambers.

At the door, she thanked the ghost and promised to make things right, then she went into the room which was warm and blazing with light.

Ghostly Secrets (Part 4)

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Annabelle stopped then pulled the curling envelope out of the jewelry box. She turned it over and looked for anything written on it or a seal, but there was nothing. She placed the rest of the jewelry back in and opened the envelope, her heart fluttered as she did so, but before she could stop her moving hands, the piece of paper was out and before her eyes.

She read it slowly and the words began to weigh heavy in her mind. It was strange, but even before she saw the name at the end, she knew her mother had written it. She re-read the letter and though it was not addressed to anyone, perhaps her mother had wrote it for her.

A noise and voices outside in the corridor drew her attention and Annabelle folded the letter back up, tucked it in the envelope then placed it up her long sleeve. She blew out all the candles but the one she had brought with her then slipped through the hidden door and blew out the candles in the library. Going into the bedchamber, she paused because the door into the hallway was half open.

She backed up, shielding the light of her candle away.

‘What were you doing in there, girl?’ a sharp man’s voice that Annabelle recognised as the butler’s asked.

‘Nothing, sir,’ Annabelle’s maid squeaked back, ‘There was a cat, you see and I was chasing it away and then I saw the door was open and thought it had gone in, but it had not. I am sorry, sir.’

‘The door was open?’ the butler mutter before raising his voice again, ‘that’ll be all. Get yourself back in the kitchen, girl! And I never want to see you in this part of the house again or I’ll have you removed. Do you understand?’

‘Yes, sir, right away, sir.’

Annabelle heard the running of feet then the door banging too and the clicking of a lock. She held her breath and kept pressed against the door frame. Her body was shaking and heart was beating so loud she was sure someone would hear it. After a few moments, she heard heavier footsteps walking away and she let her breath out. Still though she did not move and she counted a minute before entering carefully into the bedchamber.

She had removed all the candles before, so only the one in her hands offered any light. Annabelle found her way to the door and tried the handle. She pulled the door, but it would not moved. Panicking, she tugged the handle harder, but the door was clearly locked and not moving.

She opened her mouth and cried out then shouted for help. Annabelle listened but heard nothing. She paced before the door, her skirts swishing around her and she tried stay calm. Finally, she decided to relight the other candles and place them around her.

With more light, she could see the bedchamber better. The bed clothes and hangings were musty and she avoided touching them so there was no further rising of dust. She went back to the desk and sat down at the chair. She took the envelope from her sleeve and rubbed it against her fingers.

Opening it again, she took out the letter and re-read it. Annabelle let out a little gasp as the words on the paper sunk in. Her hand rested on her heart and she read like that till the end. Trembling, she put the letter down and looked at it. The words blurred before her and she realised she was crying.

Wiping her eyes, Annabelle tried to figure things out. She had always known her mother was half French, that was were she had gotten her name, but she had not known her mother had lived here. Her mother had died when Annabelle was young and her father had given Annabelle over to the care of her other aunt and she had been brought up with her three cousins.

Annabelle had never given any real thought to the mother she did not know, but now so many questions were coming into her mind. Sliding the letter away, she picked up the sealed envelope that she had avoid opening before and tore into it.

To Be Continued…

Ghostly Secrets (Part 3)

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Annabelle hurried back to her chambers forgetting all her manners. The skirt of her nightdress whipped around her legs and she almost tripped over many times. The flame of the oil lamp flickered madly and made the shadows along the walls more darker. Her bare feet pounded the floor almost as loudly as her heart.

She almost missed her door in her flight. Annabelle stopped and looked desperately around, she barely recognised the corridor but then saw where her bedchamber door was and hurried in. The room was just as she had left with it; with the fire now out and the bed cold. Annabelle placed the lamp on her bedside table and scrambled into bed. She shivered violently and clutched the sheets tightly.

Annabelle calmed herself. She rested against the pillows and took in deep breaths. Despite everything, she heard the grandfather clock in the front hallway below chime three am. She tried to settle, but sleep would not come and her mind was too drawn back to the room. Why had the ghost taken her there? Who’s room had it been? She knew parts of the manor house had been shut away because they were no longer needed. Perhaps, she could ask her uncle and aunt, maybe even the maids and house keeper? Somehow though, Annabelle did not want to tell anyone about the room.

She shut her eyes, feeling tried but at the same time unable to sleep. She wondered when she could try and go back during the daytime. Maybe in the middle of the afternoon? her aunt always took a nap and her uncle went out for a walk. The servants would be busy preparing the evening meal and finishing their tasks for the day. Annabelle decided that would be the best time and promptly fell asleep.

When she woke it was late morning. Annabelle rubbed her eyes and face as she came too. She knew the maid had been in because her clothes were laid out and there was fresh water in the jug. Annabelle got up and washed herself before ringing the bell for the maid. Whilst she waited, she looked outside and out over the moors. It was a grey dull day and there was not much to see.

The maid appeared and helped her get dressed into a plain blue day dress. Somehow, Annabelle held her questions about the ghost and room in. She went down to eat and found her uncle and aunt had already eaten and where in other parts of the house. Annabelle ate her eggs and toast in silence then went back to her room. Stepping through the door, she saw the maid was cleaning out the fireplace.

‘I’ll be done soon, Miss. Is there anything I can do for you?’ the maid asked.

Annabelle looked at her, recalling that the maid was younger then herself, so the girl might not know anything about the room. The girl had chestnut brown hair, so different from Annabelle’s blonde curls and she was wearing clothes that ill fitted her, as if the maid had been given another woman’s clothes. Annabelle pressed her lips together and decided to ask, ‘do you anything about ghosts?’

The girl, paused and looked at her, ‘no, Miss.’

Annabelle  went and sat at her dressing table where she played with a silver hairbrush and mirror. She watched the maid in the mirror and thought carefully.

‘You must know some stories though…’Annabelle muttered.

‘Sorry, Miss?’

‘Have you ever since a ghost?’ Annabelle asked.

‘No, Miss,’ the maid said quickly, ‘I must go and get some more coal.’

Annabelle turned to stop her but the girl hurried off before she could call her back. Sighing, she looked around then noticed the match box on the floor. Getting up, she collected that and a candle from the mantel and left her room. Though she had meant to find the secret room later, the urge to go back and see it again was too strong.

She hurried along the corridor and around into the next one. She remembered the way perfectly and arrived at the door, which was still slightly ajar. Annabelle opened it and stepped in. Closing it behind her, she found herself in darkness and had to go out again so she could light the candle. With that done, she walked through the bedchamber and light the few candles that were dotted about.

It was just a man’s bedchamber and beside from the envelope on the desk, Annabelle found no other names. She paused over the letter and then picked it up. The envelope had been sealed and never opened. It had never been posted. She almost opened it then she could not bring herself to break the seal. Placing it back, she walked into the other room and lit the single candle there.

The small flame hardly cast any light, so she went and picked up another candle from the next room. Then she could see that it was a personal library. A few molding books rested on a few bookshelves, but someone had taken away the others a long time ago. Annabelle went to the tapestry and inspected it more closely. She could not see anything else within it though. Moving it aside, she opened the door to the secret room and stepped in once more.

Straight away she saw the long curtains and went over to open them. Weak light drifted into the room from the dirty windows, but Annabelle could now see a lot more. She brought candles from the first room and placed them around. Then she saw that the room had once been heavily decorated and wonderful, but now time was decaying everything. It appeared to a be a lady’s private room, but Annabelle did not know how that was possible since it was clearly connect to a man’s room.

She walked about, looking at the pretty objects that decorated the room. There was a large chair and sofa, books on the shelves, dried flowers in vases, makeup and hair items on the large dresser. Small paintings hung on the walls of countryside scenes and the actual manor house. Two porcelain dolls sat together in a baby crib, their dust covered glass eyes staring up at Annabelle. Soft rugs covered the floor, muffling her footsteps as she moved around to looked for another hidden doorway. Perhaps she thought this room did connect to another somehow.

After much searching and looking at the placement of the items and furniture, Annabelle decided she had been wrong. There was only one way out of this room and someone had moved everything in here to make it look like it did. She went back to the desk and looked at the items there. There was a ink stand complete with pots and what had once been quills, yellow writing papers, an old book and the jewelry box.

Annabelle touched it, feeling dust under her fingers. She opened the large wooden box and saw the glitter of jewels in the candle light. No music came from the box, but as she inspect it and the contents more, she found a key and was able to wind it up. A soft lullaby rose up and she thought she knew it, but could not place it. She picked up necklaces, bracelets, earrings and loose gem stones, all very expensive and just left hidden in this dark room.

She started putting everything back and that was when she spotted the letter.

To Be Continued…

Ghostly Secrets (Part 2)

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The ghost of the old woman went through the door and Annabelle let out a little gasp. She went over thinking it might have been a trick, but she saw the door as solid as it had been before. Realizing that being a ghost might granted you such powers, Annabelle opened the door and walked into the hallway.

The countryside manor house was as quiet the graveyard close by and just as dark. Feeling a little less nervous with her glowing oil lamp, Annabelle peered around the corridor. The carpet runner felt worn, but far less cold under her bare feet. Shadows lingered anywhere, making the normal objects more monstrous. Annabelle raised the light to a landscape painting that hung just outside her door.

She knew the rolling hills, sheep and grey sky so well now, but in the lamp light the painting looked a mix of greens and greys as if the artist had destroyed the work in a rage. Annabelle’s hand clutched her fluttering heart and she took a few moments to calm herself.

‘It’s only because it’s dark,’ Annabelle muttered.

She turned away and saw that the ghost had drifted off. Annabelle let out a little cry and gathering her sweeping night dress up, quickly walked down the corridor. She caught up just before the old woman turned the corner and Annabelle could see that the ghost was letting off as much light as the oil lamp was, which really was not enough to see by.

‘Could we not do this during the day? It is frightfully late,’ Annabelle spoke out.

The ghastly old woman ignored her and carried on drifting down the next corridor. Annabelle let out a small sigh and wondered if she should just go back to her bedchamber. Somehow it felt too late now and did she not want to know why the ghost kept visiting her?

The corridor stretched before them, but the ghost did not go all the way to the end. She choice a door on the left side and went through. Annabelle frowned and shone the oil lamp on the door. There was nothing unremarkable about the dark oak frame and door. Annabelle held her breath and reached for the brass knob. The door opened silently and she walked into in the well furnished bedchamber.

Looking around, Annabelle guessed it had once been a long term resident’s room as there were still personal affects dotted about. She spotted a small stack of thin books on the bedside table, an ink pot and paper still on the desk under the window, a picture of a married couple in a silver frame on the mantel. She walked further about and noticed the thick layer of dust covering everything. Going to the desk, she looked at an envelope placed to one side, it was addressed to a Mr Cromby in London.

She thought about picking it up and looking at it, but her senses got the better of her and she turned away. Annabelle saw the ghost was disappearing through a small door in the corner and went over to open it. The door was stiff and it took a few moments for her to open it. She shone the light into a small room that might have been a personal library at one time. Empty bookcases lined two of the walls and there was a comfy looking armchair in the far corner.

The hunchbacked ghost was going to the wall behind the chair, where an ancient tapestry was. Annabelle brought the lamp closer to view the scene and saw it was a knight riding a white horse with a red dragon breathing fire at them on the other side. It was really faded and threadbare. If there had been anything else on the tapestry she could not see it. The old woman went through, taking her white ghost light with her.

Annabelle dropped the edges of her nightdress and felt the tapestry. The wall felt solid. With no where to place oil lamp, she carried on pressing the wall hanging until she felt the edge of what might have been a doorway. Annabelle lifted the tapestry and saw there was a small door. She tried the handle and it opened on rusty hinges.

The ghost was waiting for her and silently led Annabelle into a long forgotten room. With a see-through finger, the old female specter pointed at a musical jewellery box on the table. Annabelle went up to the desk and looked down.

‘What is it?’ Annabelle asked.

She looked over at the ghost, but the old woman had disappeared.

To Be Continued…