Mind Falling

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Everyday I was falling through my mind. Imagines and thoughts tumbling by which I could only half process. Strangely, my current thoughts seemed to be with me and I could think as if I was on the outside again. Mostly, I wondered about when this was all going to stop and what had been the cause of it? How does one man become trapped inside of his own mind and how can he break free?

The answer hadn’t come to me yet, so I was still falling though memories. There were flashes of things I’d totally forgotten but somehow had been stored here and other flashes of things I’d rather not see ever again. There were happy scenes, sad scenes, holiday, birthday scenes and dangerous scenes that triggered all kinds of things deep within me.

After awhile, I stopped paying attention. That was until, I reached my childhood memories. A weird feeling grew and I realised how little happy memories I had at this time. Also, how much I had forgotten. Had my teacher really had green hair? Had my painting really been in that gallery display? What had been my best friend’s girlfriend’s name? Where were all this people now?

I couldn’t really answer any questions, that knowledge wasn’t stored here. What did that matter anyway? The past wasn’t going to happened again, even though right now I did feel like I was re-living it. When all those memories ended there was nothing but blackness. It seemed I was drifting through space, but I didn’t think that was true.

What was going to happened now? Was this for eternity? Or would I cycle back around. I tried shouting, but like last time nothing came of it. I tried to stop moving, but couldn’t. Then all my thoughts stopped.

 

(Inspired from; https://whatthehellisreal.wordpress.com/2017/08/10/photo-fiction-99/ with thanks).

Play A Little Tune

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Bert’s blueberries were not doing so well this year. The too wet summer was the cause. He had been trying everything to make the blueberries happy as they were his biggest sellers and God knew he needed the money.  Finally, he decided to take his violin and play for them though it broke his vow to never play again. As the first notes rang out, tears marked Bert’s cheeks. He played and played till he couldn’t anymore but the magic of the music seemed to work because the blueberries grew and became the best crop he had ever had.

(Inspired by; https://carrotranch.com/2017/08/11/august-10-flash-fiction-challenge-2/ with thanks)

Spare Change

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Normally, I wouldn’t have stopped but today I was feeling too happy, so when I spotted the homeless man sitting against the car park wall, my hand was already going to my pocket.

‘Got any change?’ he asked in crackling, horse voice.

‘Maybe. Sure,’ I added.

I removed my hand and opened my palm. The coins were digging against my fingers, so I moved them and looked closely what I had. Counting out a one pound in the sliver coins, I give them to his out stretched hand. His hand was filthy, his fingernails black with dirt and his skin dark with too sun and not enough washing.

‘Thank you,’ he replied.

I nodded and made to move off as he dropped the coins to the ground in front of him.

‘How old do you think you are?’ he asked suddenly.

I paused. His voice was calm and curious, not mocking or angry.

‘Well…I know how old I am….twenty-nine,’ I answered.

‘No, no, no! A woman should never tell a man her age!’ the homeless man gasped.

‘I don’t mind….’

He shook his head, ‘let me tell you how old you look….twenty-four!’

‘Well, thanks. I’m use to people telling me I’m younger,’ I explained and smiled.

‘Do you remember the sixties?’ he asked.

‘Erm…no….Sorry, but I…’

I started to shuffle away, regretting I’d stopped in the first place.

‘Let me tell you want happened!’ he shouted.

‘I have to be somewhere,’ I spoke.

‘My wife got pregnant,’ he cut in, ignoring me, ‘only I was shooting blanks, so I knew it couldn’t be mine.’

‘Oh…’

‘Shooting blanks, I was!’ he shouted and burst into laughter.

I felt the urge to get away growing. Something wasn’t right about this man and I was feeling uncomfy. My good karma was fading and I reminded myself this was why I didn’t give money to the homeless.

‘I knew it wasn’t mine,’ he ranted, ‘so, I looked and looked and found she was having an affair with her best friend’s husband! The baby was his. So, I left.’

He waved his hands around then leered at me. For the first time I fully took him in. He had black hair, streaked mostly grey that was long and shaggy. He had a short beard that was also grey and his face was wrinkled like a dried fruit, making him twenty years older then he seemed. His dark blue eyes looked worn and heavy, he’d seen too much bad stuff. He was wearing an ancient track suit that might have once been blue but was now holey and dark with age and dirt.

‘Okay. I’m sorry about that, but I really have to go now,’ I said gently.

He moved as if to reach my hand and I stepped back but he was merely shifting around.

‘You know what they named him?’ the homeless man asked.

I shook my head.

‘Hal. Do you know what it means? First seed,’ he snapped.

I pressed my lips together and eyed the exit door, it was only a few steps away and I could make that in a few seconds, especially, if I ran.

‘Hal! They did it to spite me! Are you religious? You don’t look it. But it’s in the Bible that.’

‘I am actually,’ I uttered.

The homeless man didn’t seem to care any more. From under his jacket, he pulled out a white rosary and danged it between his fingers.

I nodded to him.

He began to play with the beads, muttering to himself. Perhaps it was a prayer.

‘Well, bye,’ I said and walked away, what else could I have done?

Beached Boat

It was surreal seeing the wreaked boat on the beach still. I had thought they’d have removed it by now. A rush of childhood memories came back to me. I remembered that we had made a den there and spent many hours playing. Later on, it had been where my first girlfriend and I had spent alone time. Reaching up, I patted the boat’s side and had a fantasy of fixing her up and taking her out to sea. She was far too gone for that but I still liked the idea and maybe one day I could make it come true.

 

(Inspired by; https://flashfictionforaspiringwriters.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/fffaw-challenge-week-of-july-25-2017/ with thanks. Word count:102)

Flames

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The flames grew, becoming brighter and warmer. Shepard shivered and huddled closer to the fire. Outside, the rain was really coming down now and the wind was hitting the countryside with force. The old, abandoned farmhouse rattled and creaked around him. Strangely though, he found comfort in all the noise.

Finally, shedding out of his soaking clothes, Shepard hung his things on the drying rack. Despite everything, most of the furniture had survived and the house appeared close enough to his memories. He hated that though as it made everything come into sharper focus.

Sitting in his underpants, he feed the fire some more wood and watched the flames. Even though he tried hard not to think about it, the memories swelled like an incoming sea. How many times had he sit by this fireplace as a boy? Too many.

Shepard shivered again, but not because he was cold. The flood gates had opened and for a few moments he was transported into the past.

Shadows danced across the wall in the farmhouse’s living room. The flames of the fire, the only light source in the room was unable to fight the shadows off. However, nothing seemed to be bothering the little boy and smaller girl who were playing with a hand carved Noah’s Arc set. They laughed as they lined the animals up two by two and made them all enter the big wooden boat.

Then though from the kitchen came sounds of raised voices. The children stopped, falling silent to listen. The voices grew, though they couldn’t make the muffled words out. A thumping as skin connected with skin rang out and the voices stopped.

The girl began to cry. Her older brother held her close but not to comfort her. It was to quieten her sobs, so they would avoid getting beaten too.

Shepard shook his head and brought himself out of his past. Grumbling, the urge to leave again grew, but he fought it away.

‘It’s only an old house,’ he uttered, ‘nothing here now.’

He felt his drying clothes. They were too wet still to put back on. He tossed more wood onto the fire, not caring that the stack was getting low. If needed there were other things he could burn.

He glanced around and spotted a knitted patchwork blanket draped on the sofa. Getting up, he shuffled across the floor and tugged it off. Wrapping the blanket over his shoulders, he took a deep breath and smelt dust. Pushing the edge of the blanket into his nose, he sniffed the wool, but couldn’t smell anything else.

Shepard saw a flash of his mother. She was sit on the sofa, knitting a blanket which humped over her big belly containing his then unborn sister. Her hair was dark and she was wearing a brown dress and slippers. Her face and arms were covered in old and new bruises. She was humming something as her needles clacked together then she was gone, back into the shadows of the past.

‘Don’t think about,’ Shepard whispered.

He stared hard into the flames, hoping they would burn the memories away.

It was too late though and just like the opening of Pandora’s box everything escaped.

Shepard sucked in a deep breath as imagines, thoughts and feelings tumbled by. Thankfully, he soon arrived at the last memory he had of the farmhouse. He saw himself, a young teenager sat in his mother’s bedroom. She was gone, fled in the night just as she had often threatened under her breath.

He looked out of the window and saw the little cross that marked his sister’s grave in the back garden. She had only been seven. He had dug that small hole himself only a few days ago whilst his sobbing mother had clung to the dirty sheet wrapped body. He had wanted to kill his father then but his mother held him back. Now though, there was nothing stopping him…

Shepard let it all go with a shaky exhale. Just the thought of all that blood again made him feel sick. He reached for his clothes and even though they were damp, he put them on. Gathering his things, he got up and after a few moments of debate tossed the knitted blanket away.

Holding onto the warm of the fire, he walked out of the farmhouse and back into the storm. It was better, he decided, to be out here then inside with all those ghosts.

 

(Inspired by a prompt at; https://scvincent.com/2017/02/09/thursday-photo-prompt-flame-writephoto/)

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. 

Postcard #30

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Dear Nettie,

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Your husband was always kind to me and I have lovely memories of us all playing on the beach. It’s been such a long time since we last saw everyone but our move to France was the best decision. We couldn’t be more happy here. The small B&B is working well and though money is short, we make do. If ever you fancy coming out here to escape everything here’s my number. Just let us know.

All the best, Betty

Waiting

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Time had long ago stopped in the castle. The dust lay thick and the silence heavy. Small animal bones scattered the floors and abandoned spider webs clung to the walls. In a stairwell, a forgotten suit of armour and a clock stood waiting to be used again. And in the rooms where people had once lived and worked, sharing a life now lost to the past, there were only echoes of ghosts.

(From a prompt by; https://scvincent.com/2017/01/26/thursday-photo-prompt-waiting-writephoto/ with thanks.)

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.

 

In The Deep

three line tales week 51 - danger deep water

It had been years since I’d last been at the water plant.

Standing on the gated platform, I looked out over the dark lapping water.

The memories came flooding back and I recalled a childhood lost to tragedy.

 

(From a photo prompt by: https://only100words.xyz/2017/01/19/three-line-tales-week-fifty-one , with thanks. Click to read the other stories the photo above inspired and maybe try writing one yourself.)