Postcard story

nature-2574126_1920

Dear Charity,

It’s Guy Fawkes or bonfire night here in England. Such a weird celebration to remember the attempted to blow up the houses of parliament in London, 1605. This evening there is a firework display and large fire at the park. I can see it from the window of the hotel. They are also setting up a funfair right now. I won’t be going, no need with my view here. I’ll try and take some photos to show you what it’s like.

Hope everyone is well and I’ll be home in a few days,

Love, Bill.

Roots #WritePhoto

They say family roots run deep but how does that apply to an orphan? Especially one in his fifties who’s only just found out that his parents weren’t actually his.

Sitting down in the root maze, under my favorite trio of trees in the park, my thoughts were clouded by betrayal and lies. My ‘parents’ had never told me and now they had both passed, the lawyer had been the one to break the news.

Sitting in the leather chair, a huge desk between us, I had read the looks on the lawyer’s face and decided he was going to tell me some super bad news. Like; ‘your parents had nothing to leave you. Or your parents left everything to a cat charity.’ But no, it was; ‘James you are adopted. Margret and William were not your biological parents.’

I didn’t know what to say or then did he have the right family? Was this the last joke of my father? Funny man he was, always up for a laugh and a prank. But no, it was all true. Here was accounts from a police officer and social services and newspaper cuttings too; Baby Boy Found Abandoned In Park; Police Appeal For Parents To Come Forward. 

The lawyer said no one knows who my parents were but Margret and William created a paper trail if I wanted to try and find out. The lawyer give me a box file then my not parents’ house, money and everything else. I left numb and not sure what else to do I came to the park and the trio trees.

Reading through the some of the papers, it interested me to note that I was actually found close to here, in a yellow blanket. Perhaps, that’s why I had always been drawn to here or maybe it was just one of those things. Whatever it was, wasn’t important right now.

I felt myself slipping away, everything I had known no longer felt true. Who actually was I? I felt like an actor playing the role of James McBride who had forgotten his true self.

I shoved everything back into the box file and looked up. The sunlight was dancing through the leaves of the trees, like disco lights. I shut my eyes.

I was still me.

My parentage didn’t change anything.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/05/09/thursday-photo-prompt-rooted-writephoto/ with thanks).

A Little Christmas Tree

christmas-background-1848203_1920

It was a freezing snowy evening the day before Christmas eve 1842, but ten year old Christabel still wanted to go outside. Her parents had gone to the theatre and with tomorrow being a busy day the servants had all gone to bed early, expect for Christabel’s Nanny and maid.

The three of them were sat before the crackling fireplace in the nursery. Nanny and maid were sewing up holes in socks and dresses, they were growing tired with the heat of the room and the darkness. Christabel had been reading a book of poetry but she was finding it difficult and her mind kept wondering.

She looked over at the window and saw in the glow of the gaslights from the street below that it was snowing again. The silent, soft balls of white were floating down lazily, brushing against the frosty glass.

‘I want to go out,’ Christabel declared, there was still a slight lingering of a french accent to her words.

Nanny looked up at her then over to the window, ‘it’s late and snowing,’ she answered.

‘I don’t care,’ Christabel declared.

Throwing her book down, she left the nursery and went to her bedroom. Christabel pulled out her red winter coat which she put on over her white evening dress then sort a hat to match.

‘I really do not think this is a good idea. It is all most bed time,’ Nanny said from the doorway.

Christabel ignored her and emptied more of the wardrobe out, scattering the clothes around with no care.

Her maid came forward and with the ease of knowing her little mistress’ wardrobe, found a suitable white hat with a red flower, black ankle walking boots and a white hand muff. She dressed the child quickly as she had down for years now, without saying a word. The maid knew her place well.

‘I want to go out,’ Christabel stated and now dressed, she left the room.

With a sign, Nanny returned to her room to get ready. The maid began tidying away all the clothes. Christabel walked down the grand staircase, the gaslights on the wall pooling light around and casting shadows on the paintings high above. The silence and stillness of the house give Christabel a slight chill but she would not show it or say anything to the servants.

Stepping into the hallway, Christabel found that only one gas lamp had been left on. The housekeeper had left it for her parents return. The stretching corridor behind her looked unfamiliar, dark, scary and she imagined it full of wild animals waiting to eat her. Christabel turned her back on it and looked at the front door.

Soon Nanny joined her and they walked out together. The snow fluttered around them and Christabel with all child wonder, looked up and around. She smiled and wanted to laugh but held it in. They walked across to the little park that stood in the middle of a square shape block of houses. There was no one else out but them.

The snow was thick and untouched on the ground, they walked down the path which could be just made out in the dim glow of the street gas lamps. Christabel breathed in the cold air, it chilled her but she felt warm enough not to complain. From between the evergreen bushes which the snow was slowly turning white, she saw something shinning.

‘What is that?’ she pointed out.

Nanny looked and replied, ‘I do not know.’

Christabel walked over and found that near the bandstand someone had put up a pine tree and decorated it. Glass coloured balls, white frill lacy, other little ornaments decorated the branches and at the top a red star. She stared in wonder, it was so beautiful and she had not seen anything like it before.

‘Oh,’ Nanny said, ‘it’s a Christmas tree.’

Christabel repeated the words to herself in a whisper.

‘It is pretty,’ Nanny added, ‘the king and queen have one. They are becoming fashionable.’

Still in silent wonder, Christabel looked at the reflection of light and snow in the glass balls. There was something magical and awing about the decorated tree that she  could not look away or think of what to say.

‘We should get back now,’ Nanny spoke after a minute or so, ‘it’s getting colder and the snow is thickening.’

‘What will happened to the tree?’ Christabel asked.

‘I…Nothing. People will come to admire it and maybe on Christmas day everyone will sing and give gifts around it.’

Christabel nodded and looked up at the star which seemed to be shinnying.

A cold wind started blowing, the snow fell faster and thicker.

Nanny took Christabel’s hand, ‘we need to go now. You can come back and see the tree again.’

‘Yes,’ Christabel answered.

Together they walked back. Nanny wanted to go quickly but the snow half-blinded them and the path was slippy as the new snow was freezing on top of the layer they had walked on. Tall trees loomed on the path, shaking in the wind and making them both feel nervous.

They reached the park gates soon enough and were back on the well light street. Stopping to get there breath, they both heard the clip clop of horses’ hoofs and the creaking of wooden wheels. Around a corner came a black handsome cab pulled by a dappled grey mare.

The carriage stopped outside a house and the driver helped two figures get out. The horse stomped on the ground, eager to be off to a warm stable. The reins rattled loudly then the handsome’s door was banged shut and the driver snapped the reins. The mare neighed and walked on.

Nanny and Christabel crossed over and walked up the gate of the house. The figures before them had seemed to be heading this way too and as the front door opened and light was realised out, Christabel saw her parents.

‘Mama! Papa!’ she shouted.

Her parents turned on the doorstep, dressed in all their theatre finer, Christabel ran up to meet them, almost falling over.

‘Come and see what we found in the park!’ she cried.

‘Christabel what are you doing awake and out at this hour?’ Mama demanded, ‘get inside at once!’

Christabel stepped into the house, still talking as she tried to tell her parents all about the walk, the snow and the Christmas tree. Her parents did not seem to be listening to her though. They are taking off coats and hats.

Nanny helped Christabel out of her things, not saying anything though the child included her. Nanny kept her eyes down, she knew she was in trouble with the Master and wanted nothing to do with the child’s talk of the tree.

‘What are you going on about?’ Mama finally cut in.

Christabel opened then shut her mouth, realising her parents had not been listening to her. She felt a bubble of emotion and tears pricked her eyes. She held her breath and tried to keep it all in. Her parents disliked it when Christabel got hysterical and they would not give into her demands then.

‘Miss Lockwood,’ Papa spoke addressing Nanny.

‘Yes, Sir,’ the Nanny began the gushed, ‘Miss wanted to see the snow in the gas lights, how wonderful it is! We went to the park and someone has decorated a tree there like the king and queen have in the palace. It was pretty and Miss I think would like to have one of her own in the house.’

Christabel nodded looking at both her parents full of excitement as a silent crept in.

‘We will see about it tomorrow,’ Papa answered, ‘now to bed.’

‘Thank you, Papa!’ Christabel cried.

She kissed her parents, bid them goodnight and went upstairs. Nanny trailed behind, carrying everything up, glad that things had worked out.

Reflection #FFfAW

She didn’t want to go to the park but she had no where else. Sitting on a bench next to the duck pond, she wondered, how have I hit rock bottom so hard? Wiping tears, she told herself she’d get through. She would find the strength like she always did.

 

(Inspired by; https://allaboutwritingandmore.wordpress.com/2018/08/07/fffaw-challenge-177th/ with thanks).

Dear Diary #47

book-1945499_1920

Dear Diary,

Strange things have been happening in the new house. I’ve not really had the time to write since our first night because we’ve been busy unpacking and buying things.

It’s four days later now and expect for the first night, though of course something could have happen but we were too tried to notice, something has been going on.

The second night, soon after midnight when I had put baby back to sleep again, I heard noises in the quietness. It sounded like someone moving things in the attic – a wooden trunk bring dragged and footsteps.

I woke Blaine up but we heard nothing. A few hours later, I heard a soft crying and woke up thinking it was Poppy, but she was fast asleep.

The next day, our second full day in the house, I went out with Poppy for a walk. Blaine had returned to work but I still had another month on maternity.

The park across the road is really nice. The duck pond is clean and the ducks even look posh. Is that an actual thing? Maybe, it’s because there were two white swans gliding about.

There were large patches of grass and trees, two playgrounds, sport areas and a skateboard bowl. From across the way, came the sound of children playing and I could just make out the primary school behind the high hedges.

When we got home, I knew something was wrong. I closed the door, took Poppy straight from her pram and walked through the house. The back door in the kitchen was slightly ajar.

Thinking someone had broken in, I went over and found that perhaps, I hadn’t locked the door and the wind had pushed it open. The back garden gate was secure and the fence too high for someone to climb over.

Then though, I found all the upstairs doors open and I knew I had closed them. Nothing seemed to have been taken. I told Blaine and we agreed to get all the locks changed and things secured.

That night, I heard things moving in the kitchen. It didn’t sound like a person though, it seemed to be more like the wind rustling things and making stuff creak. Trying to remember if I’d left the window open, I went downstairs and there wasn’t anything. I had left the light on and the window was closed.

Poppy was awake when I got back, wanting changing and feeding. Blaine slept on and I let him, I know how tried he was having to juggle being a new dad, having a new job and having to move.

I tried to get to sleep again but I don’t know. I just felt too awake which is strange as since weeks before Poppy arrived I’ve been so exhausted. I listened to the noises of the house, water dripping somewhere, pipes rattling, a door creaking, the stairs creaking, a door handle rattling…

I sat up and listened hard. Perhaps, it had been nothing. There are lots of noises in a new house. but I just have this feeling that it’s not just that…

I don’t know. I don’t believe in ghosts, I don’t even like watching horror movies or reading stories. I don’t have time for such nonsense. It’s properly just a side effect of the tiredness and stress. In a few months, it’ll just be normal and the house will feel like it’s always been ours, at least, I hope so.

What Really Happened #WeeklyWritingChallenge

young-woman-2268348_1920

This story isn’t about them, it’s about you. Though everyone is going to try and make you believe that isn’t true but at the end of the day what does anyone else actually know? You were there and they were there but everyone else wasn’t and they’ve heard the story second hand and not the first account like you have it in your head.

It was raining in the park and you were walking under your umbrella. You had no busy there and were just out because you were bored at home. You had thought about going to the library but it was shut today. You went into the tree lined way, your favorite area.

Here, the trees reminded you of giant soldiers, lined in welcome and you could day dream about being someone special as you went by. You came to the bench you always like to sit on but today there was a note left there.

The paper was wet but you picked it up anyway and read it. It was a letter to a girl from a boy which started off sweet but then turned sour. The boy was breaking up with the girl, not through any fault but because her parents had told him to.

You felt sad. Why did this have to happen? You wonder about the girl, she’ll feel worse and what would that make her do? Fall out with her parents? Harm herself? And the poor boy! He’d be just the same.

You decide this can’t let this happen, so you take the letter. Why should the young couple be parted? You go to leave, the rain patting off your umbrella and the trees, the letter curled up in your hand. A voice calls out to you, starling you and making you look all around.

A young man comes out from behind a tree where he was been waiting and watching. He demands the letter back. You refused to give it him but he was persistent and says the letter isn’t your’s.

You give the soggy paper back to him. He tells you to go. You watch him place the note back on the bench. You tell him that it’s unfair, there must be another way, two people shouldn’t be heartbroken.

He says it’s none of your business.

You go to snatch the letter but he is closer and faster. He runs off into the trees. You decided because you have nothing else to do that you will wait and see if the girl turns up. You sit on the bench, listening to the rain and waiting.

The girl does come sometime later and before the boy can appear, you call the girl over and tell her all. She is most upset and doesn’t understand why you, a stranger is telling her all of this. You try to comfort her, but she doesn’t want to know.

The boy appears and you watch them arguing under a tree, both sometimes pointing to you. Deciding, you get up and go over, you want to fix things. The couple won’t listen though, they demand to be left alone but you can’t, you are involved now. Though you’ll wish for the rest of your life you weren’t.

You make suggestions about how they can stay together, drawing on experience and fiction. The teenagers are not interested though, they see you as a busy-body and want you to stay out of their business. You explain why you can’t and why you feel the need to help them.

They don’t want your help.

You insist in telling them of a way to escape though. You and a lover once a loped from the island and the young couple can do that to. Though when they question you about that lover, you blank over it – things didn’t work out but why do they need to know?- You tell them to buy tickets for the eleven o’clock ferry and go to the other side to start a new life together.

You pled with them not to let their young love die and to try decided what others tell them. Isn’t first love so innocent? So pure? They need to hold on to that! You try to explain it as best you can but they don’t understand. You give them some money for the boat tickets and tell them to go.

The rain starts to come down more heavily, they look at you then each other. They hold hands and walk away, you watch them go. You head home with a heavy heart and an over questioning mind. Was it the right thing to do? Will they be okay?

You won’t know for days afterwards. Then you see the first TV report. Everyone says it was a tragic accident, the young couple fell over board because the rough sea. Then, that it was murder by one of their parents, a relative, a friend, a hired hit person. Lastly, it was suicide.

It’s never proven what really happened to them. But you know.

(Inspired by; https://secretkeeper.net/2018/07/02/weekly-writing-challenge-148/ with thanks).

One With Peace #WritePhoto

George didn’t know why it had taken him this long to find what he was looking for. He guessed it was because he had been looking too hard and thus not noticed it before. Sitting down on the bench he looked passed the two beech trees that created a nice frame and watched the sun began to set.

Everything felt so peaceful in this lonely corner of the park. The birds were singing evening song at their loudest and best, the hum of people and cars was hardly a distant sound and George felt the happiest he had done in months.

He took a few deep breaths, relaxed and saw the blue sky and white clouds being washed by colours of pink, yellow, orange and a dash of purple. George couldn’t remember the last time he had seen the sunset but that and everything else seemed not to matter right now. He was in this moment and that was all that was important.

The old peoples’ home where he lived was far from his mind and so was the bed he had just spend weeks being ill in. All the smells he had grown to know were go and replaced with fresh air, the blooming of flowers, cut grass and earth.

He knew if he just shut his eyes, he could pretend to be young again; a boy out playing after school, a teenager enjoying a break from exams, a young man wooing a lady with a evening stroll. It was all there in his head, that past life of his, that seemed so far away and almost like it belonged to someone else.

George didn’t shut his eyes though, he kept them fixed to the sky, wanting no other thoughts or feelings right now expect for peace. He had been in pain – emotionally and physically – for so long and he just wanted to be free of all that. He needed to move on now and live the final chapter of his life.

The warmth that had been surrounding him dipped away, leaving George feeling cooler. Above the sun was fast setting, the colours becoming darker and the sky turning grey. The tree tops turned black and a near by lamp flickered on.

It was time to go back, even though he didn’t feel like it. If he could stay, he’d sat through watching the night but he was too old now to cope with the creeping chill of the air. The idea of a hot cup of tea and a cosy bed was calling to his achy body.

Unsteadily, George got up and walked slowly away, leaving the sunset behind him.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/06/14/thursday-photo-prompt-beginnings-writephoto/ with thanks).

Brothers #FFfAW

The young boys were still sat on the bench as I jogged around the fountain pond for the third time. I slowed down once more, noticing the lack of an adult with them. In the early morning, there seemed to be only us here.

‘Where’s your mummy?’ I asked them.

They looked up at me shocked. They couldn’t have been older then three and six. The older brother hugged the younger one tightly and shook his head.

‘Your daddy then? Who are you here with?’ I pressed.

The older one shook his head again, the younger boy started crying.

‘Do you know where you live?’ I asked.

Another shake of the head.

I sighed and tossed about what to do. I could jog on and leave them here, get on with my life as if I had never seen them. Or I could do what was right, phone the police and tell them that the boys had been abandoned.

 

(Inspired by; https://flashfictionforaspiringwriters.wordpress.com/2018/06/11/fffaw-challenge-169th/ with thanks).

Hiraeth #atozchallenge

garbage-3240318_1920

Hiraeth; a homesickness for a home you can’t return to or that never was. 

I went back the other day. I don’t know why but I was just passing. I had been to a job interview at that new office block. It was nothing special, just a call center that was expanding but easy work I could do.

On the way back, I went a different route, I guess out of old habit. I went down the road we always walked to school on. Passed the ‘big’ houses and row of trees. It’s gone now that school but the houses and tress are still there. After that though everything had changed.

Those long narrow roads we use to play on are now normal roads going around the new housing estate. The blocks of flats that we all use to have live in have been wiped away as if they were never there.

The park is still there though and I pulled up there to have a wander about. It was quiet, but I guess for the middle of a week day that it normally was. Leaving my car, I had a look around and noticed they’ve upgraded the park. There’s a whole new play set, a skateboard area and a football pitch. The old duck pond had been giving a make over too.

I probably looked liked a salesman walking around, just without a briefcase and or clipboard. It was hard to know where my flat had once been. There hand’t really been streets as it had been all one place. The new names streets give me no hint. Nor was the old dead tree stump there or the little corner shops.

The houses look nice though, better then the grey stacks we called home. I realised I missed them. I hadn’t thought about my childhood home in years but standing here now I felt the longing for my old room. We’d play games and stay up late, annoying the neighbors with our music. There had been bad times and good, like everyone else.

I saw a curtain move and a small dog began barking at a window of the house I’d stopped at. I turned and walked back to my car. There was nothing else to see and do here. That feeling of wanting to go back stayed with me but I knew I only could in my memories now.

I got the job by the way.

Groke #atozchallenge (Part 2)

animal-1853975_1920

Groke; to stare at somebody while they’re eating in the hope they’ll share. 

Monday morning found Sutcliff back at his office desk working hard. He had a meeting before lunch which over ran, so he arrived at Park Square later then normal. The area was less busy as most people had all ready gone back to work. Sutcliff was grateful for the extra quiet, that meeting had been intense.

Getting out his lunch box, he opened it and picked up half of a beef and horseradish sandwich. He heard a whining at his feet and looked down. The little brown and white dog was back!

‘Get lost,’ Sutcliff grumbled.

The dog cried as Sutcliff took a bite of the sandwich.

‘Where’s your owner?’ Sutcliff asked.

The dog yowled and pressed a paw to Sutcliff’s shoe.

‘If I give you a bit will you leave me in peace?’

Sutcliff took another bite of the sandwich then give the rest to the dog. The dog ducked under the bench and Sutcliff heard chewing sounds from underneath him. He ate the rest of his lunch in peace then went back to work.

The next day it was raining. Sutcliff sat on the bench under his umbrella and had his lunch. Just as he was wondering where the little dog was, he saw the dog entering the park and trotting over to him. The dog stopped at his feet and looked up pleadingly with sad eyes.

Sutcliff signed, ‘it’s just cheese today,’ he said.

The dog cried and shivered, the rain was dripping off it’s soaked fur.

Sutcliff opened the second half of the sandwich and give the chunk of cheese to the dog. The cheese was gone in seconds then the dog went under the bench. Sutcliff looked down and saw the little dog curled up there, behind his legs, sheltered from the rain. Sutcliff finished his lunch and went back to work.

The rest of the week, the same thing happened at lunchtimes. Sutcliff wasn’t sure how the dog knew what time he’d be at Park Square for but the dog was always waiting to share his sandwiches.

‘It’s meant to snow tomorrow,’ Sutcliff told the dog on Friday.

The dog put it’s head to one side then begged for more food.

Sutcliff had now taken to bring extra ham with him. He give the dog another slice.

‘Where do you live?’ Sutcliff asked then laughed at himself.

He had started holding conversations with the dog as if they had become friends. Sutcliff had also started patting the dog and scratching him – for the dog was male- behind the ears.

‘Anyway, back to work time now,’ Sutcliff spoke.

He gathered his things, said goodbye to the little dog and walked off.

It snowed over night and when Sutcliff woke up, it was still snowing. Standing in front of his apartment window, Sutcliff wondered about the dog. Where was he? Was he warm and safe?

‘It’s a only a dog!’ Sutcliff snapped.

He spent the morning doing chores but the thought of the dog didn’t leave him. It was still snowing in the afternoon and the sky was dark grey. Sutcliff put on his boots, scarf coat, hat and gloves then set out into the city centre. He walked as he would to work then took a short cut to Park Square.

The snow was thick on the ground and covering the tree branches. Sutcliff walked over to the bench, leaving deep footprints behind. He felt like a fool. What was he doing out here looking for a stupid dog? It probably wasn’t a stray after all and belonged to a homeless person or someone who just let the dog roam around.

He looked at the snow covered bench then turned around to go back. From far to the side, in an alleyway of two tall office blocks, Sutcliff thought he heard a bark. He turned his head and saw the little dog scampering through the snow towards him.

‘Dog!’ Sutcliff called and quickly walked over.

The dog rushed at his feet, jumped up and pawed at his lower legs, crying loudly. Sutcliff picked him up and hugged him. The dog felt freezing cold and wet. Without thinking, Sutcliff unzipped his coat and placed the dog inside. The dog snuggled against him and Sutcliff hurried out of Park Square and back home.

Letting himself back into the warmth of his apartment, Sutcliff took the little dog from his coat and placed him on the floor before taking his things off.

‘No messing, no biting or scratching or howling,’ Sutcliff told the dog firmly.

The dog sneezed a few times then began to sniff around.

Sutcliff went to the fridge and took out some slices of ham. The dog bounced over, tail wagging, tongue licking. Sutcliff give the ham over and the dog wolfed it down. From the cupboard, Sutcliff took out a bowl, filled it with water and set it down. The dog drink eagerly.

After showing the dog around his home, Sutcliff made a bed for the dog next to the heater out of some old bedding. The dog settled down and went to sleep, looking happier. Sutcliff sat on the sofa and watched the dog sleeping.

‘We’ll see how it goes,’ he muttered.

Pets were allowed in his apartment, so Sutcliff had no problems keeping the little dog who he decided to call Alfie. Sutcliff also talked to his boss and she let him bring Alfie to work each day which meant they could still enjoy lunch in the park together.