The First Snowfall #3LineTales

three line tales, week 202: snow in the city at night

The first snowfall came silently like icing sugar over a cake, the snow stuck to the frozen ground, making it slippy under foot.

Jack walked to the abandoned pub, he had tried to get a bed next to the soup kitchen but it was all ready full. He didn’t like the pub but it was out of the cold and wet.

He got inside via a broken window, there were other people which he ignored and got into a corner seat, safe there, he slept whilst the snow continued, knowing in the morning he would have to face the streets again.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2019/12/12/three-line-tales-week-202/ with thanks).

 

 

Autumn Rain #FridayFictioneers

Bob hadn’t be able to offered a new shelter roof after the storm blew it off. He thought at first that his pub’s clients wouldn’t mind just standing outside. Summer was still lingering and the nights were warm and dry. Weeks later, autumn fully arrived, sweeping and washing away summer.

Bob needed a simple and cheap idea to give people shelter. Umbrellas had come to him as he had been watching the rain falling outside. He stock piled boxes full and fixed them across the roof frame. The shelter looked like the stage of a colourful musical but the pub’s clients loved it.

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2018/09/19/21-september-2018/ with thanks).

Dear Diary #25

And September is here! I can’t believe how fast summer has gone, it was over like all that flash flooding we’ve been having. I only saw like 20 odd days of pure sunshine out of the 92 days. How bad is that? And so not enough to get a tan, but luckily no one else really has either.

I’m strangely not looking forward to going back to uni now. It’s final year and that’s going to be so much hard work and so little time for partying! I’m glad things have got sorted and we can all stay in the same house. It was very touch and go for awhile back there. Dev said that me and him would find our own place, but getting a one or two bedroom flat wasn’t as easy as it would actually seem. It’s all good though and the four of us will be fine again.

My parents have been bugging me with questions about afterwards. I don’t know what I’m going to do! Maybe take a different course and return? Do a masters or go into teaching? I just don’t know and a part of me is wondering what kind of job I believed I was going to get doing a history degree. I should have gone with business or computing or something that leads straight into work. Perhaps, something will come up and right now I just got to try and pass this year.

At least I can get a few more days of freedom in! I’m off to the Lake District tomorrow, for a few romantic days away with Dev. So looking forward to that. We’ve not had much alone time or dates with him working as many hours as he can get at the pub. So it’ll be nice to spend sometime together. The weather isn’t looking great though, so we might not risk any long walks, but I’d be happy to just lounge by the indoor pool.

I should actually go and start packing!

The Train Station (Part 4)

Train Station

The train station was just as busy as it had been yesterday. Bridget sat at the same table outside the coffee shop, notebook and pen awaiting her. This time though, she was sipping an ice fruit smoothie. Lost in thought, it took her a few seconds to see the man indicating to the empty chair opposite her.

‘Is anyone sitting here? Sorry to trouble you,’ he added.

Bridget glanced to the tables either side of her and saw that they were both occupied. The one on her right had a very large lady reading a thick book sitting at it and the one on the left had a teenage couple, both playing on their phones. Bridget nodded at the man and gratefully he sat down.

‘I was thinking,’ Bridget spoke.

The man looked questioningly at her.

‘That’s why I didn’t notice you,’ she added.

‘Oh. Its fine,’ the man answered.

Bridget smiled and took him in. The man was in his mid-thirties, with black wavy hair and a sculptured face. His nose, cheeks and chin, reminded her of Roman busts. He was wearing a plain t-shirt and jeans and carrying a single bag. He was holding a takeaway coffee cup and taking the lid off the top.

‘Are you waiting for a train?’ he asked.

‘No…I’m…waiting for a friend. Her train is late,’ Bridget answered.

The man nodded, ‘I’ve got a few minutes till mine.’

Bridget stopped herself from asking where he was going and instead put his face into her memory so she could write him up later.

The man turned from her, looking at the train time table board then at the ticket barrier. A train had clearly just come in and a crowd of people were coming through.

Bridget also drew her attention to them. Many seemed to be coming for a Friday night out or to spend the weekend. There were large groups of only men and only women, followed by a small mixed group of barely old enough teenagers. Bridget spotted a Hen party. All the women were wearing sashes that were pink and had silver writing on. They towed small suitcases and were chatting loudly.

Someone started playing chopsticks on the piano. The musical notes rising above the voices and the engines of trains.

Bridget sipped her drink and shot shy glances at the man. There’s no harm in asking him where he’s going, she thought.

A barking dog drew her attention away and she looked up. A woman was running to the ticket gates, holding two dog leads in one hand and suitcase in the other. Her dogs were racing beside her; a boarder collier and a smaller cross mix. She approached the wide gate, waved her train ticket in the guard’s face and was let in. Bridget watched her running to platform six, the dog still barking.

‘I have to go. Hope your friend gets here soon,’ the man said.

Bridget snapped her head back to him, ‘yes. Me too, thanks,’ she muttered.

The man stood, gave her a small wave and left. Bridget’s eyes followed him, noticing how nice his bum looked in those tight jeans.

Placing her drink down, she flipped open her book, wrote the date and title on the top line and started jotting down his description. She recalled as much as possible, adding in the question of where he was going underneath. Finishing up, Bridget looked up and saw a young man pacing before her.

He was checking his phone and when he reached the entrance to the pub he turned and came back. As he reached the entrance to the coffee shop, he turned and walked back again. Bridget watched him, fascinated. He was wearing a t-shirt that was too big that had some cryptic logo on and baggy jeans with scruffy trainers. There was something about the way he was pacing, it was frantic and clearly he was desperately waiting for someone.

Bridget dropped her eyes away and drew a line under what she had just written. With another look up, she began writing about the pacing man. Letting her pen flow across the lined page, she did not think too much about what she was writing. Stealing more glances, she noted down his clothes and how he looked. He had flat, wide cheek bones and a slight tan to his skin. His eyes were dark and constantly on his phone. He was so fixated that he did not notice his longish hair moving downwards over his face.

He stopped suddenly, looking up at the barrier as if he had heard something.

Bridget paused her pen and stared too. A new train load of people had arrived and they were all barraging through. There were too many faces and brightly coloured summer clothes mixed together for her to just focus on one person. So many had come for a night out, yet it had barely hit the afternoon. Families drifted passed with young children and large suitcases. Two middle-aged women stepped off to the side near the pub and began waving the rest of their group over to them.

Bridget regarded the pacing man. His back was completely turned and he was watching the crowd. Or at least she guessed he was. Whilst she studied him, a tall man peeled himself away from everyone else and came over. The pacing man jumped a little on the balls of his feet and slipped his phone away. As the man approached, they hugged and the pacing man went to kiss the other.

‘Not here,’ the other man whispered and quickly withdrew.

‘No one cares, Sas,’ the pacing man muttered.

The man nodded at Bridget, who quickly turned away and grabbed her drink.

‘Well, I don’t care!’

‘Calm down, Drew,’ Sas said quietly.

Bridget slurped the rest of drink and put it down. Her fingers were wet, so she rubbed them on her jeans before picking up her pen again. Moving her hair back with her other hand, Bridget looked secretly at the men. The second one was a lot taller than the first and more muscular. He also had softer cheek bones and plum lips. His hair was a rich brown and floppy. He was wearing tight, low slung jeans and a half open midnight blue shirt.

‘I don’t see why I should! Why are you so later anyway?’ Drew snapped.

‘The trains,’ Sas said with a quick shrug of his shoulders, ‘Do you want to stay here for coffee?’

‘No…let’s find a wine bar,’ Drew demanded.

‘Okay, fine, whatever…’ Sas trailed.

They began walking away, their footsteps mingling with the countless others and becoming lost in the background noise.

Bridget got back to her notebook and began writing furiously.

 

To Be Continued…

The Train Station (Part 1)

Train Station

The train station was busy as Bridget waited for a table outside the coffee shop. She leant against the wall with her large headphones getting uncomfortable around her neck. She looked for a place to quickly put her latte down but there was no space. She glanced through the window of the shop and thought about going back inside. A burst of laughter drew her attention and she looked at the people occupying the tables.

A group of eight young businessmen had put two of the small tables together and were enjoying a late lunch whilst talking loudly. They were all wearing black suits with white shirts and plain coloured ties. At their feet were messenger bags and small rucksacks. Bridget tried to hear what they were saying, but it was difficult to when they were all talking and laughing at once.

Bridget looked at the only other table where a middle-aged couple sat in silence. By their body languages they were avoiding each other. The man was turned away, looking down at something whilst the woman was looking across at the businessmen. She turned her head and met Bridget’s eyes, a frown on her lips. Bridget knew what the woman saw; a geeky twenty- something girl getting her afternoon coffee fix.

Feeling a touch of guilt, Bridget looked away and up at the train times’ board. From here though the orange letters and numbers with unreadable. However, she was not waiting for a train or for someone to arrive; she was here for something else.

Stealing glances at the couple, whilst trying to pretend she wasn’t watching them, her mind began to fill with ideas. What was their story? She questioned herself. The writer in her wanted to jot all these thoughts down before they become lost to the void. Still though, she hung back, holding her hot takeaway coffee cup and looking around the station.

A large number of people were heading to or from the barrier gates. Suitcases wheeled behind a few of them whilst the majority had rucksacks and some had others bags. Most of the people, Bridget saw were alone and clearly traveling for business. A handful of people were in small groups of friends or family. Voices rose and fell, echoing slightly by the glass roof as they all mingled into one.

The sounds of trains arriving and departing broke up the collected voices. Loud rumblings and clicking of engines sent vibrations through the floor. A whistle blew somewhere, the sharp sound cutting through everything else. A train started to leave platform one, which was only a few meters away from the coffee shop. Bridget watched it go, lost in thought.

A female voice over the PA crackled in with an update announcement, ‘the two-oh-five train to Blackpool North is arriving on platform six and I’m sorry to say that the two-twenty-three Liverpool Lime Street train has been delayed due to a passenger taking ill at a previous station. It is now due in at two-forty-eight on platform three.’

Bridget flashed her eyes up to the roof as if the woman was actually speaking from there. For a moment her thoughts switched to imagining that being the case and just like a life guard sat on their tower, Bridget saw a woman sat on top of the station’s roof monitoring all the trains and informing the passengers.

Smiling, she finally gave into being drawn back so much to the couple. Watching them, she started to notice things. The man had short brown hair, a long nose and scrubby brown beard. He was wearing a loose blue shirt and black trousers. One of his legs was resting on top of the other and sometimes he would wiggle his black pointy shoe. He was on his phone, Bridget observed, reading an online newspaper.

The woman on the other hand was fixated on her coffee. Her sad eyes were staring into the white mug clutched tightly in her hand. Bridget knew that look and guessed the woman was fighting back something she wanted to say to the man. Stress lines crossed the woman’s face, appearing through her natural look makeup. She took some shelter behind her curled blonde hair whilst risking a look at the man. She was wearing a peach blouse, a black pencil skirt with coal tights and black flats. The clothing showed nicely her curvy figure and large breasts.

The woman sighed and opened her mouth to speak a few quiet words, ‘I still can’t believe you said that.’

The man slowly rose his head, met her eyes and replied, ‘she deserved it and don’t tell me you wouldn’t have done the same.’

‘Not like that though…’ the woman trailed with a small shake of her head.

The man shrugged and looked back at his phone again. The woman let out a sigh and stared into her mug once more.

Bridget’s curiosity swelled. To distract herself, she took a small sip of her latte. The hot sweet coffee burnt her tongue and she quickly withdrew. Swallowing as she winced, Bridget noticed the businessmen leaving.

They stood up slowly, keeping the conversations going as they gathered their things. It had had been hard to tell them apart before, but now Bridget could see them individually. They ranged in heights with there being a large difference between the tallest and the shortest. All were clean shaven and three had black hair, one had blond and the others had brown. They seemed an unlikely group of friends, but clearly work had brought them together.

As they walked away, Bridget moved to the tables, but then stopped in disgust. The men had left their empty coffee cups and lunch remains. The crumpled fast food bags and cardboard containers littered the table. She turned away and caught the eyes of the woman who give her a smug look.

Bridget shuffled back to her spot against the wall, just about avoiding two teenage Chinese girls going into the coffee shop.

‘I’m sorry,’ the female announcer seemed to shout above all the noise,’ that the two-twenty-three Liverpool Lime Street train has been delayed due to a passenger taking ill at a previous station. It is now due in at two-fifty-five on platform three.’

The man huffed and muttered something that sounded like, ‘just typical.’

‘Next time let’s go via Piccadilly,’ the woman added.

Bridget sighed and looked over at the small pub next door to the coffee shop. There was one high table over there that was free. However, it would not give her a clear view and that was what she needed. As she thought about cleaning the table herself, an older woman with light blonde hair going grey walked up and started cleaning the rubbish away.

Missed my chance, Bridget sulked.

She took a sip of her latte, finding it cooler and watched the woman matching off to put everything into the bin. As she came back, Bridget saw she was actually a worker for the coffee shop. Feeling her luck finally changing, Bridget slide over and waited whilst the tables got wiped down and separated again.

‘Thanks,’ Bridget said as the cleaner walked by.

The woman nodded, smiling happily.

Bridget took the table closer to the fabric barrier that marked the coffee shop’s seating area. Placing her latte down, she pulled off her bag and placed it on the other chair. She took her headphones off her neck and iPod out of her pocket. Unzipping her bag, she put them in then felt the table top. Her fingers came back feeling slightly damp. Settling in, Bridget sipped more of her coffee and watched the flow of the train station.

 

To Be Continued…

The Crying

England, Terraced House, Stone Facade, Masonry, Facade

Bradley paused and listened again. The faint crying of a baby brushed his ears once more. He looked over at the wall next to him, with its slightly peeling and faded floral paper and old family photographs. The noise seemed to be coming from behind there. He wondered if someone had finally moved in next door. He tried to remember if he had seen any signs this morning or before when he came back from work.

The crying stopped and Bradley, with a shrug, unmuted the TV and started eating his pasta ready meal. The news was full of the latest political scandals, murders and weather. Bradley hurried through his food, trying not to notice the gloopy, bland taste. He turned the TV channels over and turned on his game console.

The crying came again, muted only slightly by the single brick wall between the houses. The wailing noise rose and fall and Bradly couldn’t help but think about a baby in a cot seeking comfort. Shaking his head, he got back to his game, the sound of gun fire blocking out any more noise.

He went to bed far too late. The creaking of the stairs in what had once been his grandfather’s house, but was now his, seemed to accuse him of laziness. Getting ready for bed, Bradley just knew he was going to be grumpy for work in the morning. He flipped back the covers and stopped. The baby was crying again, only it seemed to be directly behind the bedroom wall now. Bradley walked over and put his hand on the wall then his ear. There was most defiantly a baby living next door to him now.

Groaning, he got into bed and put a pillow over his head. Luckily, he was far too tried and drifted off quickly.

His phone alarm clock broke into Bradley’s dreamless sleep. He reached out and turned it off before rolling over and snuggling back down. He awoke suddenly minutes later and hurried out of the bed, nearly tripping in his desperation. Flying through his morning routine and skipping breakfast, he dashed out of the house and into his ancient red Mini.

Driving, he had no other thoughts other than to get to work on time and he did barely make it. Dropping into his chair, he dragged a few breaths of stale, coffee scent air then cracked open the window next to his desk. He spent a few moments straighten his black tie, white crinkled shirt and trying to flatten down his mop of blond hair.

‘Morning, Brad.’

He brought his hand down and nodded at Mark, the only real friend he had in this Hell hole.

‘Sleep okay? Looks like you didn’t,’ Mark chucked.

‘I think someone moved in next door,’ Bradley began.

‘Oh yeah?’

‘They have a baby,’ he finished.

‘Damn. Unlucky. When my neighbour had her brat it kept me up all night too. You’re going to have to invest in some ear plugs, my friend,’ Mark stated and patted Bradley on the shoulder.

Mark walked to his own desk, which was behind Bradley’s and began shuffling papers around. Bradley nodded and looked down at his clutched desk. Too much work with left over from yesterday and he knew today’s would have to wait.

‘Hey, you coming to the pub tonight?’ Mark called out.

‘Maybe,’ Bradley replied over his shoulder then threw himself into his job.

 

Work done for the day, Bradley couldn’t talk himself out of going to the pub even though he didn’t feel like it. He sank into a plush sofa that felt too hard and still stank of cig smoke though the ban had been years ago. He nursed his pint and thought about all the trouble he was going to be in on Monday. He couldn’t risk getting fired; there were too many outstanding bills of his grandfather’s left to pay. Someone brought another round just as he had finished his first and he couldn’t refuse a free drink.

It was late by the time he left, the sky was dark with clouds and no stars or moon peered down. Bradley got into his car, sure he was over the limit as he put the key in. He drove back straight enough, with the street lamps flashing by like a count down. A light rain started falling as he pulled up outside his house.

Getting out, he wobbled up to the terrace house on the end and let himself in. He stumbled in the dark upstairs and into his bedroom. There he threw himself on the bed, grabbing pillows and blankets to wrap himself in. He was fast sleep when the crying began.

In the morning, his head hurt so much, it took him a while to clock the sounds of crying coming from the wall. He sat in the living room, sipping too hot coffee and regretting last night. He put a hand to his head and thought about the fact he could have gone into work and tried to catch up on everything. The baby screamed.

‘Shut up!’ he yelled and almost threw his coffee at the wall.

Instead, he splashed it down and stormed to the front door. Opening it, he walked out and around to the gate of the next house, he went through and was at the front door before he realised that the front bay windows were boarded up and so was the front door. A for sale sign stuck up from the front fence and the street was as silent as ever.

Unclenching his hands, Bradley looked about confused then quickly left. Going through his house, he went out the back door and looked over the wired fence that divided the two gardens. He could clearly see the boarded up back door and windows of the house next door. Wondering what was going on, he went back in then out onto the street once more. Maybe a neighbour had had a baby and the noise was carrying a lot?

Undecided, he went back in and spent the day being too hungover to do much else. As evening came through, he heard the crying of a baby once more. Getting up, he went to the living room wall and really listened. The noise was just too loud and there could be no doubt it was coming from next door.

Maybe, squatters got in somehow? He thought.

Grabbing the phone he dialled the police and told them what he now believed.

‘I’ll send someone around as soon as I can,’ the too cheery female voice on the other end replied.

Bradley hung up and turned the TV on to block out the noise.

The knocking at his door came hours later and it was now dark outside. Bradley let the two male officers in and told them about the baby crying. Together they went to the front then the back of the house, looking for away in. The wooden board was nailed down too well and no corner had come away at any of the doors or windows. There was no access inside.

‘Maybe it’s an animal they left behind?’ one of the officers suggested.

‘I don’t know,’ Bradley replied, ‘I’ve been here four years now and before that it must have been empty for about six years or so…would a pet survive that long?’

‘No,’ the other policemen put in, ‘it could be a wild animal that has got stuck though. We’ll get the RSPCA and come back tomorrow.’

‘It just doesn’t sound like an animal though…’ Bradley muttered as the cops left.

He went back inside and got into bed. As soon as his head touched the pillow the crying started again. Growling, Bradley put the other pillow over his face and tried to ignore it.

Finally the morning arrived. He awoke, sore eyed and tried as if he’d had another night drinking. The sound of hammering and a drill buzzed through his head. Scrambling up, he threw on some clothes and rushed outside. A police car, an RSPCA van and a locksmith’s van were parked outside.

He looked across and saw a burly man removing the board over the front door. Two different police men and a female animal inspector were standing next to the gate, watching him work. Bradley eager though he was to join them, decided to stay where he was and just watch. Soon the locksmith had gotten in and they all entered the building.

It seemed to take forever, but at last the animal inspecting came out. She was gulping down air and looking very pale. She walked down the path and back to her van, where she rested against it as if trying not to throw up.

‘What did you find? Was it an animal?’ Bradley called out.

She looked at him, wiped her hair back then got into the van. Starting the engine, she drove off, leaving Bradley more puzzled. He went and lent on the wall to try and peer into the now open front door, but he couldn’t see anything. For a few minutes, he debated jumping over and going inside to see for himself, but then the locksmith and cops appeared.

‘What was it?’ he asked.

The cops looked at him, whilst the locksmith hurried off as if desperate to be far away.

‘I was the one that phoned about the baby crying last night,’ Bradley explained.

‘Oh…did you know the people who lived here?’ one of the officers asked.

‘No. I never saw them and I never asked my grandad about it,’ Bradley answered.

‘All right then, I’ll go and call it in,’ the second policeman said.

‘Wait, wait! What was it?’ Bradley shouted.

The two cops eyed each other, then the second walked away as the first turned to him, ‘I shouldn’t be telling you this,’ he said a low voice, ‘but we found the mummified remains of three babies…..Now, are you sure you know nothing about the people who lived here?’

Bradley shook his head, too shocked to open his mouth.