Dear Diary #37

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Dear Diary,

Autumn is finally back! Though the last few weeks of August have felt boarder line. There’s been lots of rain, less sun and a dip in the temperature. So, the change in season isn’t much of a shock. I should’ve known it was getting close to September because of all the back to school and autumn themed stuff in the shops.

I brought some notebooks, pens, colouring felt tips and two colouring books. They were in the sale and were really cheap. It’s a good time of year to top up on stationary! They’ll be selling the rest of it off soon. Though how many notebooks and pens does an old woman actually needs?

The roads are going to be so bad again this week which makes me grateful I don’t drive anymore. Though, it’ll give me something to watch out of the windows in the morning! The buses will also be packed, good job I can only travel after nine on my bus pass but I’ll have to be careful getting back in-between two and four. Must remember to all my shopping before lunchtime now.

I’ll be able to lit my fire again too. I wonder if Mr. Haydock from next door will help me collect the wood and coal like he did last year? Between you and me, I’m sure his affections have grown but he’s been too busy with his gardening and veggies these last few months. Perhaps, if I put a bit more effort into things?

Maybe, I’m too old for all of that, but it would be nice! To have a companion again, someone to share meals, TV shows and a bed with….I’m getting too ahead of myself! I have Misty, but I swear she has her own life and only meows when she wants something. It’d be nice to a have real conventions with someone. Not that the chats I have with the girls at the day centre are not real but they tend to be full of gossip!

It’s getting darker outside now and it’s only about eight-ish. A sure sign that things are about to change. I need to get up and turn the lights on, plus it’s almost time for some TV shows and a cup of tea. In a few weeks, I’ll be able to feel the cold in these old bones but I won’t mind. I do so love autumn!

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)

Post It Note #26

This was it, her chance to stock up on school supplies that had been put into clearance. A slight fear crept across her as she reached the pay here counter. Would anyone question her, an old lady, about why she need so many pens, notebooks and folders? Of course, not.

Date #1

Architecture, Mbs, Shopping Center, Glas

I never set out to do any shopping, this was meant to be a first date after all. However, the bargains in the craft and book shop were too good to miss out on. The window display beckoned me with special offers and since we were just wandering around the mall anyway, I told my date we should go in.

To be honest, I wasn’t attracted to him at all. He was a head shorter then me, sadly something I’d noticed as we had left the coffee shop and I prefer my men tall. He was dressed all in black; hoodie and jog pants, so not very date presentable and he had longish black hair and a beard too. In fact, he reminded me of an over stuffed teddy bear; not very good looking, but very cuddly.

We split off; him to look at craft stuff and me to look at books. I browse the titles and book covers as my mind recalls something he had said before whilst we had sipped sweet coffee.

‘The last novel I read was last year and it was Fifty Shades Darker.’

I had shivered at both those things, ‘why?’ I had blurted as my mind screamed, I read a book everyday and get through one in about a week! How could anyone not read? 

‘I can’t get into them,’ he had replied and shrugged.

‘And what did you think of Fifty Shades?’ I asked slowly.

‘I liked it. Grey is an interesting guy. I haven’t seen the movie yet though, I’m worried it’ll spoil the books.’

I had hid the disgust on my face and finished my coffee quickly. I switched the subject back to TV series, which he seemed to handle better.

Shaking my head, to clear those thoughts away, I grab a book and looking at it decided it wasn’t for me. I choice another then a few more, but nothing appealed to me. Glancing over my shoulder, I track him down and see him talking to someone, a tall black man with a patterned shirt on. Must be a friend, maybe?

I get moving and wander a round. I spot a humors book about newspaper headlines and since it’s a pound decide to get it. I find some notebooks, really reduced, some craft stickers, two books on sewing and a few other things.

‘Looks like you found somethings,’ he says, appearing at my side as I am looking at the adult coloring books.

‘Yes, I did. I saw you talking and thought I’d leave you to it. Was that a friend?’ I ask.

He nods, ‘old friend, from about two jobs back.’

‘I’m going to get these and then…erm, I think I might have to go home,’ I trail off.

Silence creeps between us and we both hear a woman talking loudly on her phone as she goes past the shop. The traffic in the mall has picked up and I can hear school kids chatting and laughing.

‘What time is it?’ I ask.

He digs his phone out and answers, ‘almost five.’

‘Then yeah, I need to go.’

I head to the till with him following me then pausing to look at something. I pay, we meet again then walk out.

‘I wish I could stay longer. It’s been fun. I got this exercise class this evening and I don’t want to be late.’

‘It’s fine. I had fun too, maybe we could do it again sometime?’

‘Sure. Minus the shopping though? I didn’t expect to find all this stuff, but it was so cheap. One of the books I get was like three pounds instead of thirteen. It was too good not to get,’ I laugh a little.

We dodge a wave of people then head outside. I debate telling him not to bother walking me to the bus stop, but as we are all most there it doesn’t matter.

‘I shall text you,’ I say as we come to a stop.

‘Yes, please do. It was nice meeting up,’ he adds.

‘Yep, I had a good afternoon.’

He moves to hug me and met him. Hugging him does feel like a teddy bear. I break the hug before he can kiss me, though I am not sure if that even crossed his mind. We say goodbye and I watch him walk away.

I collect what I think about him and decided that though I don’t see him as being my next boyfriend, the possibility of friends is there.

Church (Chapter 4, Part 2)

Continued from Church Chapter 4, Part 1

I opened my eyes and a moan escaped from my mouth. I was far too hot and sweating, so I threw off all the blankets and stretched out. I could feel the afternoon heat seeping in though the badly nailed wooden boards. I sat up, rubbing my face and pushing back strands of my long gold-red hair. My hand dropped to my hairless tight muscled chest and my fingernails scratched across my skin. Next, I massaged my shoulders and neck feeling the dull pains there because of my rough bed.

My eyes landed on the nearest wooden board and noticing that two of the small nails were loose, I got an idea. Standing up, I stepped over and wrapped my fingers around the edge of the board. Gently, I tugged it away from the wall and it easily gave way.  Light flooded inside and caused dust motes to take to the air. I ripped the rest of that side away, sending a few nails popping. Now, I had a window. Fresh air drifted in slowly as if it was exploring a place it had long forgotten about. I looked out over the graveyard and patched farmland, enjoying the sight.

Sitting down, I pulled my hair loose and looked at the lilac hair tie between my fingers. It was her’s. She had tied my hair back with it just after I had awakened from her knocking me out. I played with it, rubbing it against my fingers and thinking of that moment. I never tied my hair back, but after a few moments, I did just that again.

Casting my eyes around, I saw nothing else to do but to get up and dressed. It was too early to go out searching for evil, so I didn’t bother putting my armour on just my robes. No socks or boots neither. I loved the feeling of the dry wooden boards beneath me. The candle was still lit on the desk and blowing it out, I decided to do a bit of tidying up. Maybe it was due to the sudden rays of light now revealing how messy the room was?

I did my desk first by arranging the candles, matches, books, paper and pens. My bed was next and I sorted out the bedding, removed anything that wasn’t a blanket or a pillow, before doing the mattress up as best I could. The rest of the things on the floor were mostly clothes, books and empty water bottles. I picked all these up, putting the clothes in the large trunk in the far corner, the books on the desk and the bottles in a pile.

My stomach growled and I paused at the sound. It had felt like an age since I had last eaten something. I went over to the small food cupboard I had and looked through the items Granny Malock had given me. I selected a few things and a bottle of water. Sitting at the desk, I ate and drink whilst my mind remembered the ‘not-real’ food Rain had offered me. I paused as I thought about her. What was she doing now?

Shaking my head, I finished up eating a sandwich and an orange. The water was warm and made my mouth and throat drier. I drank the bottle and dropped it with the other ones. Sweeping the orange peel and plastic wrap to the side, I picked up the black covered notebook and starting at the beginning looked through the pages. A part of me had expected the pages to be blank or for something else to happen, but no, the pencil and pen sketches looked the same as they had done last time.

The first page was of the ruined cathedral and second page of the Paradise Garden in great, but small detail. Close ups of flowers on the next, followed by rabbits on the fourth and an owl on the fifth. I turned that page and the sketches of Rain began. I slowed down and studied them more closely than before. The artist had really taken his time to try and get her face right. I wondered who he was and how he had known Rain. Was he an angel like me? Or something else? He had liked her though, I could tell from the way he had drawn her.

The eighth page and I was staring into the eyes of a young man. Was it possible that he was the artist and Rain had drawn this? In a flash, I pictured them together, sitting in the oak tree chairs on the platform. The basket of fruit was on the matching table and they were laughing together. He got up, showed her the sketch he had just completed and handed everything to her so she could do one of him.

I turned the page, pushing the image away and let my eyes fall on a map of a graveyard. There was a church marked at the top and connected to a gate at the bottom by a meandering line. A few small trees were sketched out and some large headstones, almost as if someone was suggesting they could be used as cover. There were also two stone angels facing each other in prayer. A thin dotted line cut out a path and I realised I hadn’t noticed it before. Quickly, I traced it and came to the conclusion that this map had been made during a plan of attack.

I turned my eyes and saw the words written on the next page once more;

 I do not wander in darkness alone as your light shines out before me.

 It looked like a Bible quote, but not quite. Interested, I dug out one of the Bibles I had brought up from the church floor and flipped through the pages. For a good few minutes, I tried to find that line, but nothing matched it. The writer could have easily miss-quoted or else just pieced it together. Something about it bugged me though and for some reason, I got the feeling it wasn’t a line to God or Jesus, but was about and to a person.

I closed the book and put it back on the pile. Resting my elbows on the table, I put my head in my hands and shut my eyes. I had to get her out of my head. I was drawn to her far too much and I knew it. There was so much mystery surrounding her and I wanted to know it, but really, I wanted more. Rubbing my head, I tried to push away all those thoughts and sent my senses out for evil. Killing would defiantly distract me.

I got changed, putting on my armour and boots this time. I collected my sword and wondered down to the church. Instead of walking across the altar, I went my usual route of slipping behind the stone pillar. It was one of a pair that marked the entrance to the altar. I stopped and looked into the large alcove of the church organ. I walked over and let my fingers trail across the keys. They were covered in dust, just like everything else.

Pressing down just a little bit harder caused a note to be rudely admitted from one of the many brass pipes above me. I played a few more, knowing it was a risk in case someone heard me, but I could always deal with them. The notes sounded forced and not as booming as they should have been. I stopped playing and wondered if that was the last time the organ would ever be heard from again.

Shaking off the cold feeling that thought left me with, I went out.

To Be Continued…

Church (Chapter 4, Part 1)

Continued from Church Chapter 3

Make sure you’ve read the other chapters. They can be found here; https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/category/church-novella/

Previously;

Blaze, a warrior angel, who is trapped on earth has made his home in an abandoned church. He fights a taunting daemon and a Demigod Bear. He is rescued by Rain, a Reaper. She takes him back to her ‘home’, a Paradise Garden seemingly inside the remains of a cathedral and encourages Blaze to talk. After which, she tricks him into combat then she revels some of her story and dismisses Blaze.

Chapter 4

‘On this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’

Matthew 16:18

I walked away from the ruined remains of the cathedral and didn’t look back. I was seriously tempted too, but a part of me knew if I even caught a glimpse of those stones I would retrace my footsteps, find Rain and hold her tightly to me. I climbed the hill and unfurled my golden red wings at the top. I flapped them, feeling the rush of air around my body before I jumped up and took to the sky.

The time hadn’t changed, I noted as dawn was just touching the horizon like it had been doing when I stepped under the cathedral archway. I was feeling extremely awake and calm, though it was probably a lingering effect from the garden. I raced the coming dawn home and landed next to the lichgate. I watched the sun completely rise above me. Warm light brushed me then hurried in further to light up the clinging shadows.

Taking in a deep breath, I turned back and cast my eyes over the graveyard. Small headstones poked out of the grass and I know what awaited me. Climbing over the gate, my boots hit the grass and the almost lost path underneath. I pulled my robe tighter around me, hunched my shoulders and walked up to the church. I can feel them, the diminishing ghosts. They watched from their burial places and whispered to themselves and each other. A soft crying child wisp brushed my ears and I tried to block it out.

I kept my pace as I began to climb the slope, expecting at any second to be assaulted by the spirits. Ever since I had moved into the church, they had reached out to me when I passed though the graveyard. Their almost faded voices constantly pleaded with me to help them pass over and escape this place. At first, I had been sympathetic with them, who couldn’t be? But I didn’t know how to help them, it wasn’t my job or place to ferry them over. I had countlessly explained this to them, but they didn’t get it and still clutched to my Heavenly light. Now, I had lost my patience with them all and I automatically put up the barriers and ignored them.

I reached the church porch and turned in confusion. I could just about see the spirits, though in the morning glow their forms were fading fast. There was a small girl in a too large white dress, an elderly couple clutching both of each other’s hands, a teenage boy laying in the grass looking bored. There was a young woman clutching a new born to one side and a two year old to the other, she was stood next to a World War One soldier boy. Beyond them was an ancient hobbling woman, an old man with a missing arm and small dog at his feet, a ten year old girl in a summer dress and finally, a middle aged farmer’s wife.

I waited and watched them all vanish as the sunlight finally settled on the graveyard and church. Thoughts tumbled through my mind. This had never happened before. Had they sensed the lingering evil touch from my fight with the Demigod bear and other daemons? Or had my Heavenly light finally faded? I reached for my great sword and slowly eased it out of the sheath at my hip. The weapon still looked normal and though it was heavy, I couldn’t feel its true weight in my hand. Placing the blade back, I ruffled my wings, reassuring myself that they too were still there and working.

For a few seconds, I wondered what else I could do to prove that nothing had changed. I didn’t feel anything different, just the circling puzzlement over the spirits’ reactions. With nothing coming to my mind, I looked out over the graveyard and decided that maybe the ghosts had finally given up on me. Somehow, that thought didn’t make me happier. They had always been active and determined.

I turned, pushed open the door with some force and squeezed inside the church. Nothing looked out of place and it didn’t look like anybody had wondered in. I wedged the door back in place, shutting out the glorious yellow daylight. I let my eyes adjust to the darkness, then set my boots crunching along the floor, just like they always did over the fallen plaster and bricks. The dilapidated pews rose up on either side of me as I walked towards the altar.

For the first time in what felt like awhile, I looked over at the matching four arched windows, two on either side. They were empty of what once had been colourful stained glass depicting famous scenes from the Bible. The fragile remains of the frames now lent against old wooden boards, which were showing signs of rot. I wondered which Biblical scenes they had chosen and how many times the congregation mused over them.

Stepping up to the stone altar, I paused. There should have been a large divided window behind the grey rectangle block. Now there was only another wooden board, which banished the light and allowed darkness to rule. In the walls on either side of the window were etched out crosses. I knelt, put my hands together and cleared my mind. I fell into saying the Lord’s Pray aloud, ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…’ my voice echoed in the dead church.

Afterwards, I slipped into silence, not sure what else to say. I thought about a number of things, but decided that I just couldn’t word anything right. I let my hands fall and lent back, looking up at the window. I should say thank you, I thought, but somehow I just couldn’t do it. What did I have to be thankful for right now? Shelter, I guess. The fact I was still alive. I clenched my fists. I wasn’t thankful for being trapped here though.

I relaxed my hands and got up. I went to the hidden alcove. Pushing open the door, I climbed the spiral staircase upwards and into my room. I light the candle out of habit, swung my sheath sword into place against the desk and stripped out of my clothes. The notebooks I had taken tumbled out and slapped the floor hard. I gathered them up and placed them on the desk.

Once naked, I picked them up again and took them into bed with me. Though it seemed like I had all ready slept, I felt exhausted. My wings wrapped around protectively around me, but I shimmered them away, so I could feel the cold wooden walls on my back.  Arranging the mass of blankets and pillows, I settled back and shut my eyes. I did some deep breathing exercises and succumbed to a meditate like state.

She came to me right away. Rain. She was standing in her Paradise Garden. Her mismatched green and blue eyes were looking out over the railing whilst the animals and stream sing to her. The air was thick with lavender, midnight jasmine and lilies. She had her arms resting on the rail, her light brown hair loose and wind swept. She was wearing the black pants and a white vest top from the training room. I couldn’t see her expression.

I sighed and said her name aloud. It was sweet on my lips like forbidden fruit. Would I ever see her again, like she had promised? Sleep rolled across me and I welcomed it with open arms.

To Be Continued…..