Blown In On The Wind

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Returning from dropping the grandchildren off at school, I sank into my armchair and looked out the window at the storm I had just battled through. The wind was as strong as a car speeding on the motorway and it was driving the heavy rain and hailstones into you like shards of glass.

I turned the TV on, then left some daytime game show sounding in the background. I changed into slippers and a warmer jumper. There was housework to do but it could wait until later.

Sitting down again, I looked at the collection of photos on the mantel and the wall. There were many of my husband who had died six years ago, we had been married for fifty-two years. He had been in the army and though the idea of being an solider’s wife had worried me, I had enjoyed the travelling and many experiences.

There were photos of my only child, my daughter, Victoria and also her husband, Danial. Both had died in a car crash, five years ago. Then there were my grandchildren, ten year old, Beth and seven year old, Alex, smiling brightly in every photo.

I got out my knitting, feeling the need to relax. My joints were aching because of the cold and I couldn’t get warm enough. The joys of old age and having to look after young children once again. I would soon feel some energy back then I could do some chores.

A banging upstairs stilled the clicking of my needles. I looked up at the ceiling, listening as the bang came again. The wind was swinging a door about, that was all.

I got up and climbed the stairs, feeling pain in my hips and knees. At the top, I saw Beth’s door moving and banging against the frame as the wind blew about.

‘She didn’t shut her window probably, that child!’ I uttered.

I went in, closed and locked the offending window. Outside, the wind carried on raging away, leaving the bedroom freezing cold. Turning the heater up, I went to head back downstairs and put the kettle on.

Something white moved out of the corner of my eye and I turned to it. Was it a bird? No..it was something else….The shape seemed to grow and become more solid, yet still see through. The white colour became more cream and I saw the outline of a long dress drifting.

The more I stared the more the ghost took form before me until a young woman was standing before the bed. Her long hair was down to her waist and her face was full of sadness. As she looked around, confusion frowned her face then she went to the window and looked out as if she was lost.

‘Hello? I said gently.

No reply.

‘I can see you, ghost,’ I added.

The woman turned and looked at me slowly.

‘What are you doing here?’

She sighed and softly, almost in a whisper answered, ‘looking for my child.’

‘Are they here?’ I pressed.

‘No,’ she uttered, ‘the strong wind blew me into your house. I am sorry.’

‘It’s okay, pet. Would you like to stay until the weather passes?’ I asked, ‘some company meet be good for you.’

The ghost took a moment to think then nodded. She turned, taking the room in again.

‘This is my granddaughter’s room. Come down into the living room,’ I spoke.

I went back down and the ghost followed me. A cold draft trailed around her and her dress floated on a wind that seemed to be a part of her.

Settling in my chair and picking up my knit, I tried not to watch the ghost hovering around.

‘They have passed,’ she muttered after a few minutes.

I looked up and saw her before the photos, ‘yes, pet,’ I replied, though there wasn’t a need too but it did open a conversation, ‘you lost your child?’

‘At birth. I followed a day later,’ the ghost answered, ‘and I have been searching ever since.’

‘That’s why you are still here,’ I added.

‘Yes,’ agreed the ghost. She give a long moaning sigh and stirred the leaves of a pot plant.

‘Where do you think your child is?’ I questioned over the clicking of my knitting needles.

The ghost was quiet and thoughtful.

‘At your house?’ I pondered after a few minutes.

‘If she was, she is no longer,’ the ghost woman replied, ‘that is why I had to leave. I cannot rest without her.’

I nodded and fell to thinking. Soothed by the sounds of the TV and needles, it was easy for my mind to drift.

‘You know, pet,’ I said, ‘stillborn babies probably go straight to heaven.’

‘Do you think?’ the ghost gasped.

‘Yes. They are innocent and have no reason to stay here. Maybe, that’s what has happened?’

‘Has it?’ whispered the ghost.

‘And perhaps, it’s not the search for your child that keeps you here but the grieve of the loss?’ I concluded.

The ghost let out a low moan.

‘Have you tried to leave?’

‘No. I did not want to,’ the ghost replied.

‘Try and see what happens, pet,’ I responded, gently.

‘Am I scared.’

‘I know but there’s nothing to worry about and your child will be waiting. If not, I shall help you.’

‘You will? Oh! Thank you!’ the ghost cried and she smiled.

‘Now, try to go to Heaven, pet.’

The ghost nodded and after a few moments, she began to fade away.

‘I am going! I am going!’ she shouted, ‘I shall be united with my child.’

‘Yes, dear. Go, go! Find your child and be at peace.’

With a finally smile, the ghost woman vanished.

Her cold spot lingered another minute or two then warmth took over once more.

I lent back in my armchair, knitting abandoned on my lap, looking at where the ghost had stood. Then, I turned to the photographs and said, ‘if I was her, I would have done the same. Mothers and children should always be together.’

Christmas Elsewhere #3LineTales

three line tales, week 203

Irene hadn’t wanted to spent a wet Christmas at home, alone and falling asleep during the Queen’s Speech.

She decided to book a holiday and go on an adventure package holiday, she was still fit enough and didn’t feel her old age, though people were referring to her as ‘old lady’ now.

The first day involved getting into a warm sea and swimming with sharks, ‘What a way to spend Christmas!’ Irene uttered as she felt a fin brush her toes.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2019/12/19/three-line-tales-week-203/ with thanks).

Wrong Glasses #FridayFictioneers

The book’s words blurred, Rosemary wondered what was going on. She took her glasses off, wiped them on her loose cream nightie. Her gnarled hands began shaking as she put the glasses on.

‘What is wrong with these things?’ Rosemary muttered.

Taking the glasses off, she held them to the page and used them like a magnifying glass. That helped a little, she carried on reading.

When she grew tried, Rosemary set the book aside and noticed that there was another pair of glasses on the table.

‘Oh! My new glasses!’ Rosemary cried, ‘No wonder I couldn’t see!’

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/09/11/13-september-2019/ with thanks).

Christmas Cards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘That would be lovely.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well…maybe there was….

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

There was a Christmas card and inside was writing.

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

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

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

Leaving #FridayFictioneers

Finally, they had got Mrs Willoby out of the old peoples’ home. Supporting her, the careers walked her onto the awaiting boat. The crew were silent, nerves building. They didn’t like being here, an eerie deadness hung about the empty island.

Once the hundred year old lady was seated, Mrs Willoby smiled and peered into her handbag. Nestled in a tissue was a throbbing green stone. Space contamination the government said, but she had never believed them. It was just a pretty stone.

The boat took off at high speed, leaving the condemned land but sealing the fate of another.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2018/07/25/27-july-2018/ with thanks).

Irusu #atozchallenge

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Irusu; pretending to be out when someone knocks at your door. 

The door bell cut through Trudy’s chopping of carrots. She paused, wondering who that could be. Placing the knife down, she shuffled in her slippers towards the front door. It couldn’t the postman, he’d already been and she hadn’t order anything. Perhaps it was a neighbor?

As best her old body would allow, Trudy crept to the door and looked through the peephole. There were two women standing on the doorstep, they looked just a little younger then Trudy did. They were dressed smartly and held paper booklets in there hands.

Religious people, Trudy thought.

She debated a moment then decided she wasn’t interested and turned away. A rapping knock on the door followed and caused Trudy to glance back.

Did they see me? No, the new door is solid. 

Trudy stood still in the hallway. The only window now was the small rectangle one above the door. It was far too tall for anyone to see in or out of.

I’m not in. 

Shuffling off again, she pretended not to have heard anything and went back to the carrots.

Scrap Yard Boy

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I couldn’t just leave him there. He was wet, cold, hungry and crying. I had no idea who had abandoned him or why but they must have been desperate to dump him in my scrap yard or maybe his parents hadn’t cared?

It was luckily my dog found him and that I had called so late at the yard to pick up something I’d forgotten. Heaven knows how long he’s been there for. He couldn’t have been older the two or three. He dressed for a winter walk and had an old bear with him.

As the snow started to spiral down, I gathered him up and put him in the trunk. He cried softly all the way, clearly tried but too scared to do anything else. Once parked outside the glowing warmth of my home, it took a few minutes to get him out.

My wife was waiting for me, a hot meal on the table and the TV talking away in the background. She was as shocked as me to see the boy. She took him to the bathroom, muttering mothering words. I ate whilst she cleaned him and found t-shirt and shorts to dress him in.

We had always wanted a child  but God had decided it wasn’t our fate to have our own. We had spent years in fostering and adaption though had recently had to stop due to old age effecting us. My wife had loved it and I knew she missed it greatly, so she wouldn’t want to part with the abandoned boy.

She bought him to the table and got him to ate some of the stew she had made and drink some warmed milk. He rubbed his eyes sleepily afterwards and she put him to bed in one of the little bedrooms we still had.

‘How could someone abandoned him like that?’ she asked.

I was putting another log on the fire, having washed and tided away the dishes, ‘I don’t know,’ I replied, ‘ but we’ve heard all the stories before.’ I shrugged.

‘Well, he’ll have to stay now,’ she spoke.

I glanced at the clock and paper calendar on the mantle, ‘we’ll have to go and tell the officials. The offices will be closed for Christmas so we’ll have to do it in the new year.’

My wife nodded though I knew she wanted to suggest we don’t tell anyone about the boy. I couldn’t do that though and his life would be so much harder if he had to live in secret. Turning to the fire, I wondered how this had all come to be but I knew how I now wanted it to end.

(Inspired by; https://allaboutwritingandmore.wordpress.com/2017/12/06/daily-picture-prompt-334/ with thanks).

Longing

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He wanted to write, but his hands weren’t working.

Rain on the Bus

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The empty bus pulled smoothly to a stop and the doors opened. The bus driver peered out and watched the old lady getting on with the aid of the handrail.

‘Hello, Doreen!’ he said cheerfully as he recognised her, ‘terrible evening.’

‘Oh, no, Terry!’ Doreen cried with a little wave of her walking stick, ‘it’s quiet perfect!’

She pressed her pensioner’s bus pass to the ticket machine. There was a beep and some words flashed up.

‘For ducks maybe,’ Terry muttered with a glance out of his window.

The rain was coming down heavily and the wind was whipping up into a storm.

Terry closed the bus’s door to contain some heat. Then he waited for Doreen to shuffle off and sit down at the back, like she always did. Checking she was settled, he started up the bus and smoothly drove off.

Doreen smiled and watched the rain hitting the window next to her. She turned up her hearing aids and listen to the rain splashing and the wind howling. Under her, the bus’s engine rumbled away and waves of gentle heat brushed her.

She took off her big pink flowers decorated hat which she always wore on her rainy evening bus rides and set it to dry out next to her. Doreen placed her small red handbag flat next to it, then took off her bright pink rain mac. She was wearing a huge, fluffy green jumper that she had knitted herself.

Turning back to the window, Doreen relaxed into the ride.

There’s nothing, she thought, quite like a drive in the rain to make you fall asleep. 

Mind Lost

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The bell on the bus rang and with a few glances in his mirrors, the bus driver pulled up smoothly at the next stop.

I looked down the aisle and saw an elderly gentleman wearing a large brown hat and in a long, light brown coat getting to his feet with the aid of a wooden walking stick. He tottered to the hissing opening doors and looked out.

‘Wrong stop,’ he announced and hobbled back to his seat.

The bus driver with a loud sigh, closed the doors, indicted and pulled off.

The old man sit down again and looked out of the window, watching the rows of houses and small patches of green grass go by.

I returned to my open book, cursing my broken headphones as I felt the first pings of my anxiety starting up. Public transport always triggered it, even if I had taken the same journey hundreds of times. There was no stopping that strange wiggly worms sensation in my stomach and the loss of concentration on my book.

The bell rang again. The bus driver slowed and pulled over, easing the bus to a stop and opening the doors.

The same old man got up and walked over. He looked out then said loudly, ‘this isn’t my stop! This isn’t where I’m going!’

‘It’s all right. Just sit down again then,’ the driver said calmly.

Over the top of my book, I watched the elderly gentleman shuffling back to his seat again. He sat down heavily and started muttering to himself.

The engine rumbled, the indicted clicked and we were off again.

Sneakily checking out the other passengers, I saw that none of them were bothered by the elderly man’s mistakes. They all seemed to be in worlds of their own. There was a business man typing away on a small laptop, another man was reading the free newspaper and a third older man was on his phone. Of the four woman, not counting myself, one was reading a library book which I couldn’t see the cover of, two were sat at the back, heads together talking softly and the fourth woman was dozing off with a sleeping baby in her arms.

I turned my eyes back to my book and tried to get into the romantic story of an angel falling in love with a human he was banished from being with. Your typical young adult supernatural mush but I loved it. However, my mind couldn’t focus and I began to picture what would happen if the bus was suddenly to crash.

It was a reoccurring image brought on by the anxiety. I was caught up in it for a few moments, wondering what everyone would do if we became trip in the turned over bus. There’d be smoke, screaming, blood. People would die – the driver, maybe the old man and baby. Maybe even me…

I shook the thoughts away and placed down my book. My fingers still inside the closing pages. Oh, how I wished for my music! The loud beating and fast lyrics of heavy metal noise that I could fade into and forget about everything.

The bell ring and this time the man with the laptop got up. He hardly waited for the bus to stop and the doors to open, before he leaped to the pavement and hurried away.

The elderly man seemed not to have noticed the bus stopping. He was looking out of the window. He was still muttering, but I could not make out what he was saying.

The bus driver lingered for a few minutes, perhaps waiting for the old man to get off or maybe for a big enough gap in the traffic.

I looked through the open doors, feeling the cold winter breeze on my face and trying to relax. We were next to the old Jewish cemetery. The curling gates at the top of the driveway were locked but the smaller side one was half open. I could just make out the tops of the headstones. New apartments flanked both sides of the cemetery, looking out of place and making me recall an argument about the developers wanting to move the headstones and bodies to another location.

The bus doors hissed shut and with the engine sounding grumpy, the driver cut through the traffic and drove us on.

I saw the old man reach for the bell button and touch it. He got up and went to the doors as the bus pulled up only a little bit down the road. The doors opened and I really hoped, though it was so mean of me, that he was getting off this time.

‘Is this Courtly Way? No, it’s not,’ the old man began rambling, ‘I don’t know those trees there. Driver? Where are we going? You’ve taken the wrong route again! I want to go home!’

‘It’s okay,’ the driver said calmly, ‘I’ll take you home. Just go and sit down.’

The old man huffed and began hobbling back to his seat.

The bus moved off again. A car horn blaring from beside us as a car sped passed and jumped the changing traffic lights.

How could the bus driver be so calm? I wondered, surely he’s getting annoyed with all of this now?

‘Hello, Annie!’ the old man cried.

I looked and saw he was staring at me.

‘Why didn’t you tell me you were getting this bus?’ he asked.

‘I’m not Annie,’ I replied, ‘I don’t think we know each other.’

‘Of course, you’re Annie! I’d know you anywhere!’

‘No. You’ve made a mistake. My name is Eleanor.’

‘What are you taking about? We’ve been married fifty odd years, Annie!’ the old man shouted.

I shook my head, sinking back into the hard seat as my anxiety rose. My book began to tremble in my hands and my breaths started catching in my throat. Those stomach worms wiggled more, causing a dull pain to start up. Terrible thoughts came to me. The bus crashing, people dying, blood, fire, the scent of smoke, the smell of death, the whiff of leaking fumes, my book laying upwards with it’s open pages crushed against the roof as the bus land upside down.

‘Annie! Annie! What’s wrong!’ the old man was shouting, ‘Driver stop! My wife has been taken ill!’

For the first time, the bus driver slammed his brakes on at a stop. Passengers were thrown about and my head knocked into the wall of the driver’s cabin. I felt fuzzy and my ears were ringing. I shut my eyes and counted backwards as around me complaining voices rose and the baby started crying.

‘Are you alright, love? Do you want to get off?’ a new voice was asking me.

I opened my eyes and saw the bus driver looking at me.

‘He thinks I’m his wife,’ I muttered.

‘What?’ the driver asked, glancing at the old man who was hanging onto the newspaper tray.

‘He says I’m his wife,’ I repeated louder.

‘Oh. He says that to all the young pretty girls. He’s harmless,’ the bus driver added.

‘My wife?’ the old man suddenly said, ‘where is my wife?’

‘Come on now, Bert,’ the bus driver said politely, ‘sit here and be quiet now. We’re almost home.’

‘Home? Ah yes, that’s where we are going. My wife should be there. She’ll have tea on the table and wondering what’s taking so long. Get on with it, driver,’ the old man snapped and rudely waved the driver away.

The urge to question what was going on here grew but as the driver passed me I couldn’t say anything.

The bus started again and a few stops later, we slowed down and pulled up. The doors opened and the driver got out of his cabin. He walked past me and to the old man.

‘Bert, you’re home now, time to get off,’ the driver said softly.

‘Ah yes. Thank you,’ Bert replied.

The driver helped him up then off the bus. I looked out the window and saw the sign for an old people’s home in the front garden of a large building. At the bus stop, a woman dressed in dark blue trousers and a uniform looking top greeted the bus driver and Bert. I watched her link arms with Bert and take him towards the house. They were talking but I couldn’t hear the words.

The driver got back on and headed for his seat.

‘Is he okay?’ I asked.

The driver looked at me and nodded, ‘he has dementia. Some days he’s okay, other days he believes we’re in a past year and the worse days are when he forgets who he is. It’s a horrible thing and I should know! My dad had it and I had to watch him slowly forget me, everyone else and himself.’

I just nodded, not sure what to say to that.

‘Are you all right? He really didn’t mean you any harm,’ the bus driver added.

‘I’m fine…I suffer from anxiety attacks. It had nothing to do with him,’ I explained.

‘I see. You okay, now though?’ he said

I nodded, thanked him and he climbed into the driver’s cabin.

The bus started again, the seat vibrating underneath me and the voices of the disgruntled passengers muttering. My mind was far away though, reflecting on the bus driver’s words.