The Walk Home #WeeklyWritingPrompt

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Even though he had to work on Sunday, Nick always went to church afterwards. Sitting on the cold wooden pews, he stared at the alter watching the candles flickering against the stone wall and stained glass arch window above. Nick shut his eyes and prayed, thanking God for his second chance, for removing his sins and his needs now being meet.

Not long ago, Nick was barely surviving his fourth year on the streets. Newly released from jail for robbing shops, houses and cars, he found himself with hardly anything. He couldn’t get a job and when he spent all the money he had, he found himself with no home. There seemed nothing else left for him to do but die in the gutter.

However, death had left him alone and during his first snowy winter on the streets, Nick had often visited churches and other holy places that left doors open. There he had found himself again through religion.

Years later, with the help of a few kind people, Nick had turned over a new leaf and found employment in maintaining the cities’ churches. An old victor had allowed him to live in a tiny vicarage which was very basic but at least it was warm and dry. To Nick it was the best home he had ever had.

Leaving the church, he made his way through the graveyard. It was snowing heavily again and some of the smaller headstones where almost covered. Nick was careful and respectful in his walking, he tried not to disturbed anything. His breath misted in front of his face and snow fell on his worn coat and rubber boots. He didn’t shiver or really feel the freezing air, he was use to the cold now.

Leaving deep footprints, he went through the open gate at the end of the graveyard and along the path to the vicarage. Snow lay thick on the roof of the building and also on the window sills. There was little arched porch at the front and Nick huddled underneath. He shook the snow from his coat and boots then dug in his pockets for the key.

In the quietness, Nick putting the key in the lock and opening the door sounded louder then normal. Heading in, he turned the light on and felt a brush of warmth. Taking his his things off in the hallway, he went into the small living room and looked out. It was dark outside but thanks to the streetlights reflecting off the snow, Nick could make out some of the graveyard and the church.

‘I wouldn’t like to be out there right now,’ Nick mumbled, ‘thanks for my new life.’

 

(Inspired by; https://secretkeeper.net/2019/01/21/weekly-writing-prompt-177/ with thanks).

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Insomnia

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Mary-Leigh couldn’t sleep. She lay tousled in bed, staring up at the ceiling watching the shadows play. This was the fourth night now that she was awake whilst everyone else slept.

She turned her head to the side and saw that the time was almost half past two in the morning. Mary-Leigh rolled over fully and snuggled deeper down in the duvet. In her head she ran through a list of things; she wasn’t too hot or too cold, she didn’t need the bathroom, she was hungry. Until she concluded there was nothing stopping her from sleeping.

Something though, clearly was.

Throwing the bedding back, she got out of bed, turned and knelt down. Mary-Leigh rested her elbows on the bed, pressed her hands together in front of her and did something she hadn’t done in ten years.

‘Dear God, please let me sleep,’ she prayed.

A wave of foolishness rocked into her and she dropped her arms.

What am I doing? I don’t believe in all that anymore, do I? She thought.

Mary-Leigh pressed her head into the mattress and fought back tears.

I’m lost and I just want this madness to end. Even if I don’t believe and if really there is no God, if I find comfort in praying what is wrong with that?

Mary-Leigh wiped away the tears that had escaped. She composed herself again. Controlling her breathing, clearing her mind, she put her hands together and prayed again. Afterwards and not thinking about it, she got into bed and tried to sleep.

Hokora #Writephoto

I stopped before the shrine, my younger sister’s hand tightening in my own. I glanced down at her. Miki’s school uniform almost matched mine and her long black hair was tied back like my own. She had a bright pink backpack on her shoulders whilst I had a leather satchel on just one shoulder. Miki’s face was turned upwards, her usual blue eyes fixed on the shrine, her expression slightly puzzled.

‘It looks like an…owl,’ she said slowly.

‘I guess…it does,’ I replied.

We were use to seeing these Hokora -Shinto shrines- dotted along the roads, outside houses and important buildings. They were places for the Kami – spirits of nature – to visit and people to prayer and /or leave offerings. They were little one roomed ‘houses’ made of stones and or woods.

This one though, was different. It was made out of a tall single stone and had an archway at the top. Inside was a metal carving of a creature that looked like an owl but it it had long ears and a horn in between. Inside the owl was an unlit candle and around it were small coins.

‘Why, an owl, Keiko?’ my little sister asked.

I thought for a moment then replied, ‘owls are a symbol of fortune and protection. Which makes sense for travelers because they’d ask the Kami to protect them from evil spirits whilst on the road.’

‘Oh,’ Miki responded.

‘Let’s pray for a safe walk home and good luck,’ I suggested.

Miki give a single nod and a hum sound.

We put our hands together, shut our eyes and bowed before the shine before asking aloud, ‘Kami bring us protection and fortune on the journey.’

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/02/01/thursday-photo-prompt-shrine-writephoto/ with thanks).

Passage

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He hurried along the unlit underground passageway trying to be as quiet as possible. However, his sandals were slapping too loudly on the worn flagstones and the ends of his dark brown robe were making swishing noises around his legs. He wanted to stop and catch his breath, but he was late for midnight prayers.

He felt a welcome sense of relief as he saw the glowing outline of the door. He pressed on, battling the tightness in his chest and aching pain in his thigh. Keeping his eyes fixed on the light ahead, he wondered how many steps further it was.

Then his thoughts changed and out of no where, he saw an image of her by the flicking candlelight. The whiteness of her skin as the dress slipped off her, that desire in her bright blue eyes. The gold curls of her hair, the red rose bud lips and her voice whispering softly for him to come to her.

His toes suddenly hit the stone steps. He stumbled and fell spread eagle. Feeling pain his head, hands and knees he lay there for a few moments collecting himself. Then getting up slowly, he went up the stairs and through the door.

The corridor was well lit with flicking white candles. Male voices filled the air their words of hymn coming together to seem like one sound. The air was heavy with wax and incense.

He shuffled through an open archway and to the church which was filled with monks. Slotting in with the few at the back, he tried to looked like he had been there all along. Hiding his hands in his large sleeves and joining quietly in with the prayer, he avoided the glances of the men around him.

When it was over, he was the first to slip away. Walking quickly, he went to his cell and knelt down by the side of his bed. His thoughts tumbled and twisted, ideas coming to him then going. he tried hard to think about what he should do but nothing seemed right.

He looked up at the small window in the wall and the single candle on the sill. Then at his desk where another candle sat ready to be lit and the Bible beside it.

‘It is not wrong to love,’ he whispered, ‘you teach us we should love all…but this is stronger then love.’

He looked down at his hands for the first time and saw they were cut and bloody. He put them into his sleeves again and fixed his eyes on the ceiling.

‘I do not know what to do. I do not believe she is a devil of any kind…And was it not I that started this…?’ he stopped and let his voice fade.

He shut his eyes and cleared his mind, after a few minutes he spoke again, ‘perhaps it’s best I just leave. I am no longer a pure vessel for carrying your messages. And I have always wondered if my path was somewhere else.’

Getting up, he looked around his cell and realising he had nothing to take with him, headed to the door. He opened it and listened to the silence. Stepping out, he took his sandals off and carrying them walked through the empty corridors and to the passageway once more.

 

Thursday Photo Prompt – Passage #writephoto

The Burning

Burning Coal

Godson stood at the edge of the burnt grass and looked over what remained of the church. There was a lot to see, but also very little. He sighed deeply and wonder why people did what they did.

Huddling into his thick red Parker coat against the late autumn wind, Godson stepped on to the blackened ground. The dead grass crackled loudly under him, just like the fall leaves. He took a deep breath and smelt smokey, earthy air. Even though it had rained in the early hours of the morning, the scent of the fire was still strong.

He came to a large stone, the first of many scattered around. Inspecting it, Godson tried to figure what where it had come from. Maybe from the door arch or one of the windows? It was impossible to tell. The stone had a large black scorch mark across one side. The fire must have been raging hot.

Godson moved on towards what had been one of the front windows. He spotted something and knelt to pick it up. It was a shard of red glass. He rubbed it between his fingers and straight away he could see the stained glass window that had been just above his head. He looked for more glass, but couldn’t find any bigger fragments.

Slipping the glass piece into his pocket, he walked fully into the church ruins. The floor was still mostly in attached but covered with soot, burnt things and fallen stones. He walked carefully over it all and towards were the alter had once been.

‘What devil compels someone to burn down a small community church?’ Godson said a loud.

He balled his fists and gritted his teeth. The anger that he had been trying to subside was rising. A small part of him had been hoping there’d be something left, but now it was clear there was nothing.

The smell was worse here and it felt like the smoke was clogging his lungs. He coughed and had to turn away. He had to leave. Even though he didn’t want to. Perhaps, under all this destruction was something that could be saved?

It started to rain again and Godson give up. He walked back out of the burnt church and to his car. Getting in, he sat looking over for a few moments then drove home.

Days later the police report came through. Godson sat at his desk and read it. A gang had actually been stealing the brickwork, wires, roofing and in fact everything they could get there hands on, just before the fire had started. It seemed they might have caused it and so far the fire bridge had said it was accidentally. Not the news Godson wanted to hear.

‘I won’t rest till this is solved,’ Godson muttered, ‘God. You must help me to bring to justice the people who did this.’

Falling into prayer, Godson saw the image of a burning church in his mind. Somehow, he knew the answers he seeked where there still.

Walking Away

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She walked away from him and it was as simple as that to leave it all behind. She felt better, like a wild bird that been trapped in a cage but was now free. The control was all her own again and she could live as she wanted, not as he had made her believe she should. She told her friends it was better to be alone then in a relationship where you couldn’t be yourself and you fell into being a lie.

So what if her road was now lonely? Wasn’t it better to be like that then to find that you had no life at all? Her purpose shouldn’t have to be to please others or to be the perfect girlfriend. The purpose should be what she wanted and why should she care if other people judged her? She was living how she wanted to now and was a lot more happier.

Serenity

The cathedral was the only place he felt at peace now. Shutting his eyes, he lent forward on his walking stick, the old aches effecting his long suffering back to much for him to rest comfortable on the small wooden chair. He put his hands  on top of one another and bowed his head as if praying.

Through his almost deaf ears he heard an echo of slow footsteps and the quiet rumble of voices. He couldn’t make out the words, but guessed the two people were behind him somewhere. Other sounds drifted over to him like trickling water and he heard more people walking and talking, the moving of chair legs, a rustling of maybe someone searching through a bag or moving a piece of clothing. Beyond all of that he heard the silence of the cathedral it self.

He had always thought about that stillness as like holding your breath too long so that you could hardly hear your body anymore. It was the old cliche his mother had been well known for; “the calm before the storm” which he always remembered her saying when him and his brothers and sisters had gone quiet with whatever play they had been doing.

That memory brought a sad smile to his lips. Bless them all, he thought. He felt a shuddering breath and clutched his stick tighter as pain spiked in so many places of his body that he couldn’t count. A fleeting thought had him questioning if this was his time, but then the pain was ebbing away again and he felt things settle.

‘Mr Green?’

A soft young woman’s voice uttered into his good ear and he felt a light brush of a hand on his shoulder. He became aware of his carer sitting down next to him and arranging her things with gently movements.

He hummed a response, not wishing to break the stillness he had been enjoying.

‘We need to leave now,’ she said.

He shook his head.

She put a hand to his shoulder and he felt her close by his face. Her breath touching his cheek with a slight warmth and smell of mints.

‘We must. I’m sorry. It’s Sunday tomorrow, so you can come back,’ she explained gently.

He sighed, ‘I want to die here.’

‘Not on my watch, you don’t,’ she said lightly and ended with a small giggle.

He smiled at that and finally moved his old body. He found her hand and patted it.

‘You could try tomorrow with Sunny. Just make sure to go after the service, okay?’

He nodded, still finding pleasure in the joke of at all.

Lost In Thought

He wondered what it was like to be God looking down on everyone from the multi-coloured galaxy. He looked at the tall candle pillars on the deep church window sills and saw the flames flicking in a draft. Was God even interesting in what was going on down here? He thought, did he listen to the prayers of the world or did he just let the angels deal with those?

He tried to hear what the vicar was saying as they all bowed their heads together, but he just couldn’t concentrate. He believed that could be true, so was God creating other Earths then? And what if some of those new Earths were the same as this one? And right now, what if there was a man just like himself sit in a church pertaining to be praying when really he was wondering about the possible existence of other earths and humans?

The Arcana Of Dreams (Part 2)

There was gentle harp music playing. I sighed and tried not to open my eyes. The music was so lovely and calming. Something soft was supporting my head and a fluffy blanket was draped over me. I imagined Heavenly things … Continue reading

Church (Chapter 7, Part 4)

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(Continued from Church Chapter 7, Parts 1, 2 and 3)

It was too early for me to sleep and I didn’t feel as tried as Rain. After flipping through the Bible for another few minutes I wanted to go down to the church organ and get the notebooks out. I glanced at Rain then couldn’t take my eyes off her. She was curled up, but had her head thrown back on the pillows and her hair spread out around her. She had rolled over and wrapped her arms around Wolf, holding him like a child would a teddy bear. Wolf with his face pressed to her chest had one of his back legs and tail resting on Rain’s leg. Clearly he would have been too hot under the blankets.

Instead, I pulled a blank piece of paper and an ink pen towards me and began to write down my mission and what I remembered of it. The words formed across the blank white sheet, staining it with gleaming black ink. It was strange to think that out there somewhere was a daemon I should have been hunting. I looked down at what I had written:

 

Manipulative daemon. Preys on fallen angels. Then hunts other angels. Killed warrior angel. Very powerful. Last know location ?

 

I rubbed the pen between my palms and thought about what else I could remember. Nothing else came, so I switched to trying to think about its aura. They must have given me that to track it before I had left Heaven. I shut my eyes and give it my full concentration. Once again nothing came to me. Sighing, I put the pen down and looked at the words again.

Maybe, Rain would have some more answers or maybe I should go out and find some angels to talk to. I had been dimly aware of others since coming here. Angels had a good sense of one another, even if they had never met before. I shelfed the idea for later and turned the paper over. I started a to do list on the other side as it was the best way to clear my mind.

After the mundane things were to sort out the ghosts, further question Rain, make friends with Wolf and trying to track the daemon. I read back through the list after I had run out of ideas then put the pen down. Leaving the paper on the desk, I took off the rest of my clothes and decided how best to lay on the other side of Rain.

At the end of the bed, I avoid her feet and Wolf’s tail, got on to my knees and crawled slowly upwards. Gently I sorted out a couple of pillows and a blanket before lying down. Wolf growled, I froze and looked over at him, but it was hard to tell what he had meant. I got comfy on my back and looked up at the ceiling. There was an abandoned spider web on the wooden beam and crack in a roof slate.

I shut my eyes and thought about the manipulative daemon. Silently, I prayed to be given signs about it, perhaps even a vision about its location. My lips moved as I uttered God’s Prayer then I waited for sleep. I listened to Rain and Wolf’s breathing and felt pleasantly happy about it. For so long I had been alone and now it didn’t feel that way anymore. The burden of being trapped here had slightly lifted, I realised.

When sleep finally came, I dreamed of Heaven. I was flying around the clouds, harp music ringing in my ears and light shining all around me. Then it got dark. Everything turned into a washed out grey as if someone had stolen all the colours. I was falling, my wings broken. I struggled against gravity, but couldn’t fight it. My back hit a hard wet surface which broke my fall. I cried out as pain rocket through me and I thought for sure my spine was broken. Screaming echoed all around me, but it wasn’t mine.

I opened my eyes and saw the rain falling heavily from black clouds. I turned my head and felt mud squashing under my cheek. I saw a black figure and a blue flash in the distance next to the entrance of a cave mouth that opened from a cliff face. I tried to roll over and get up, but I couldn’t. A shape formed in the cave mouth and the black figure and the blue flash were running towards me. Behind them came a dragon like monster. Fire roared out of its’ two mouths and it had six eyes that scanned the area.

The dragon monster stepped out further and I saw it had three sets of large leather webbed wings. They were brightly coloured and looked butterfly like. The ground shook and the monster came forward. The figure and flash reached me and I saw it was Rain and Wolf. I called out to them and they came over. Rain helped me up then we were running together. I tried to ask her what the monster was and what she was doing here, but my mouth wouldn’t work.

We reached the bottom of another cliff, the monster gaining behind us. Rain touched Wolf between his ears and he began to transform in to a giant wolf. I pinned myself against the wall and watched him raise above me. From his back grew wings covered with white and grey feathers. Wolf stretched these and himself upwards and swung his tail about. Rain began climbing his front left leg, using his fur to help keep her grip. I watched her reach the top and sat at Wolf’s shoulder blades.

I started my climb, feeling the long matted fur swallowing me as I went up. Rain held her hand down and I took it so she could help pull me up the rest of the way. I sat behind her and Wolf turned. A half-wolf growl crossed with a monstrous roar came from his killer jaws and vibrated through us. Rain, hands dug into his fur, kicked him and instead of standing his ground to fight, Wolf flapped his wings and took to the air.

The wind felt good on my face and I could feel Wolf’s muscular body tensing and untensing under me as he flew. I looked back but couldn’t see the dragon monster anywhere. Wolf shot through the rain clouds and light flood on to us. Harps and other string instruments blasted in our ears then we were surrounded by welcoming angels. I felt myself being lifted up off Wolf and raising through golden clouds.

My eyes opened and the church’s bell tower ceiling formed above me. I rolled over, feeling happy and calm. My hand roamed the blankets beside me, searching of Rain but finding nothing. I sat up and looked at the crumpled bedding next to me. Rain and Wolf were gone.

To Be Continued…