Petrichor #atozchallenge

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Petrichor; the pleasant smell of the earth after rain. 

Everything smells better after it’s rained. There’s a cleanness in air which my ma said was God washing and cleansing everyone. I use to believe that without a doubt. Now though, I’m not sure. There’s so much I believed in as a child which has faded now I’m adult.

It’s strange how different things are after the rain. You notice the pools and reflections of things more. The sounds of splashing wheels and feet. The dripping of drops off things. I randomly remember a boy once telling me that the rain was actually a leak from Heaven’s showers.

I wondered for ages how that was possible and pictured angels having showers all together. Or God having a bath and all the water overflowing. Maybe that was the real reason behind a flood?

When you’re a child it’s easier to believe in these things. As an adult you are more logic and less imaginative. You know how rain is made and why it falls. The novelty of it has worn off too, like snow. I use to love snow! Now, it’s just a pain.

Even though, I know the truth behind things now, it doesn’t take the pleasure away from them. During the rainfall and afterwards, I open my window to let all the smells and sounds in. I sit on the ledge and take deep breaths till I feel calmer. I try to think of nothing at all, but sometimes like today, my mind wonders.

I look up at the sky, where the dark clouds roam and a few rain drops still linger. Are God and the angels up there right now having a bath and cleansing the poor below?

Toxic Thunder

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It had been raining forever. At least it felt that way. I liked the rain, but I wanted to feel the sun on my face as I had done as a child. I remembered the yellow warmth, just about. The rain was always cold and wet, sometimes it would be a different colour too. When that happened people stayed inside for fear they might become contaminated. Though really, all water was toxic.

They claimed there was nothing they could do about it. It was a world wide disaster and the predicated death levels were higher then the War. That was the price we were paying for chemical warfare, the government said. Still, scientists and others were working around the clock for solutions whilst there was hope left. Everywhere warning signs stated not to drink unfiltered water, to stay inside as much as possible and report all health problems to a doctor.

Today, the rain was a lime green colour which was why I wasn’t allowed outside. Sitting in the window seat of the second floor landing, I watched a few brave people walking the street below me. They held their umbrellas up high and huddled in thick coats, as if that would protect them.

The book I had picked from our small library lay opened but unread in my lap. Since there was no going to school today, father had insisted we self-educate. My two brothers had taken over the library with their historical debates. Father was in the study and Mother had gone to lay down as as the lime rain had given her a headache, or so she had claimed. I could have gone to my day room, the family lounge or the parlour, instead I went to the best spot in the house to see the outside world.

I pressed the side of my head to the wet glass, knowing I’d be told off for getting my curled blonde hair damp. I didn’t care. I watched guards in red uniforms appear and began clearing people from the street. They must have been told that the toxic level had reached a high. A siren began to wail, confirming that. The street quickly cleared and just in time too as the lime rain picked up and started to change colour.

Black rain began falling and in the distance came a rumble of thunder. I tightened my grip on the book. The page corners curling under my fingers. I had always feared storms, but they were worse now. They said sometime toxic rain conducted lightening and exploded. Fires were common during storms and deaths.

I tried to relax my hands, the hard corners of the cover were digging into me. The thunder growled louder, sounding so close. The street before me went dark with only a few dots of light peering out. The lightening flashed, yellow red, capturing the street in that moment. I heard a popping sound and the lights around me all started to flicker.

The smell of gas and burning electricity filled the air. An emergency bell rang though the house, backed by the siren’s call. There was a rush of footsteps and voices. The clatter of things being dropped and doors moving echoed throughout the house.

‘To the shelter, quickly!’ my father bellowed.

‘I’ll get Madam,’ a maid spoke.

‘Where is Miss Victoria?’ another voice asked.

A flash of lighting hit the sky making me jump as it crackled away. I stood up, clutching my book and hurried two flights of downstairs. In the grand hallway, everyone was rushing into the kitchen, shouting at each other. I joined them hurrying into the cellars. My shoulders and skirts brushing maids and kitchen staff.

I tripped down the stone steps, losing a shoe, and my one of my brothers caught me at the bottom. He had to move me out of the way as the last people flew down and the metal door slammed shut. My brother rushed me down the corridors, through the wine and food cellars. My legs and feet hurt as we went further down. Finally, we arrived with everyone else in the last and deepest cellar. My brother hushed me into a corner and left me breathing in the damp air.

Huddling in the dim light with my family and servants, I caught my breath. My mother looking dazed was sitting on a small bed, half hidden by  a curtain. My father was sat comforting her and my brothers were giving orders to some of the servants. I tucked myself into a alcove, hugging my book and praying we would survived.

Mystery Love

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I don’t know how it happened really. The coffee shop was busy again, just like it had been on Friday and there was no where else to sit but next to him!

She sat down next to me, muttering, ‘excuse me,’ and clutching her bag and coffee mug. I shuffled to the side, trying hard not to look at her. I had admired her from a far for so long and now she was next to me!

‘I’m sorry,’ I said, ‘It’s busy here today.’

‘Yes, it is. Must be the weather,’ he responded.

I nodded and tried to keep my eyes off him. But they kept wondering back towards his dark hair and nicely shaped chin.

She was looking at me and I was trying so hard to avoid her. However, our eyes finally met. She smiled, a small one at first then she tucked a strand of red hair behind her ear and smiled wider.

‘I like your hair. It’s really red,’ I spoke.

‘It’s natural,’ she responded, ‘I like your hair too.’

Then she giggled and settled back on the plush sofa. She picked up her coffee, but it must have been too hot because she placed it down again.

He was watching me and I was trying to be all casual, but I could feel it wasn’t working. I wanted to say something, act all chatting and hide my crush for him. The words didn’t want to form but as the silence stretched I knew I had to say something.

‘Terrible weather,’ I said.

‘It really is. I think the news said it was a storm. It’s meant to snow later,’ he replied.

‘Yes, I saw that too. I really hope it doesn’t snow!’ I cried.

‘Why?’ he asked.

I thought a moment before answering, ‘I don’t mind it, I just don’t like being in it. I guess that’s how most people feel. What about you?’

He shrugged, ‘I don’t mind it either way.’

She looked away, out at the steaming up windows and the rain dripping down. I looked down at my phone and began flicking through things, not really interested in anything. I wanted to ask her questions, but I couldn’t do it. Maybe more small talk would help? But I didn’t know what else to say.

The silence grew again. She noticed it and started talking again.

‘You know, I’ve seen you before.’

‘In here?’ I asked.

She nodded, ‘I’ve been trying to figure you out. But I guess you must really like the coffee here or something.’

She laughed and her cheeks flushed. She was embarrassed. She turned away, looking at the people, the windows, the art on the walls, anything other then me.

‘Actually….’ I began and trailed.

He spoke and I turned back to him, fussing with my hair and scolding myself for saying something stupid. He didn’t seem to have noticed though. He was looking thoughtful now and picking over his words.

‘The coffee is rather good here,’ he announced.

I nodded and picked my mug up. I was having a hot chocolate today and it was still too warm to drink.

‘But there is another reason…’ he said, ‘you.’

I frowned and looked at him, not sure I’d heard him right.

‘Me?’ I questioned.

‘Yes. Do you think sometime, if you are free, you’d like to go on a date with me?’ he asked, shyly.

I smiled and nodded, ‘yes, I’d really like that.’

Mystery Girl

Portrait of Woman Photographing With Smart Phone

Was she late or had I missed her? I sat down and searched the coffee shop for her once again. Of her lovely long red hair there was no sign between other people’s heads. The chattering voices were loud today as the weather was bad and people were seeking warmth.

The door opened, letting in high street noise and the sound of the rain. I looked up and there she was, hurrying to join the queue. She folded her umbrella away and took down the hood of her coat. Her hair was dull today, but I didn’t mind that.

I sneaked glances then when she got a coffee, she squeezed in at a table close by. We always seemed to sit close to one another. Sometimes, I or she would do it on purpose, even if we were the only people in here, we’d pick spots a little away from each other. Other times though, our closeness seemed be coincidence.

She started looking around and I dropped my head to my phone. I couldn’t meet her deep green eyes, but I knew with a look between my eyelashes that she had spotted me.

When she finally turned away, I fixed my gaze on her and that was the start of our looking game.

Rain on the Bus

Water Droplets on Clear Glass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Storm Doris

Lighting Strike

England braced itself for the worst storm of the winter. Heavy rain fell, causing fast flowing streams to run down the side of the road. Large puddles gathered and formed mini lakes. The wind whipped up into a gale and swept up everything it could. In the higher lands, snow fell thickly.

People battled through the elements. Driving their cars out into the storm named as Doris, determined not to let ‘a little rain,’ halt their day. Soon though they had no choice as the wind swept the rain in sheets and caused all the coastlines to become tidal pools. Cars were turned about and those people who had walked hurried back home.

Reports came flying in about people being injured, public transports being cancelled, delayed and the traffic at a stand still. It was an all day storm and people should stay at home. Instead though, those that could, hurried to the shops and brought everything possible. Full shelves suddenly became empty and cupboards became full.

The wind roared, making the sea hit the wave breaking walls and wash up and over into the seaside towns. People gathered to see the waves but were driven back by the strong winds and spraying water. They retreated to the safety of their homes and watched storm Doris rage.

 

Street Ducks

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The streets were cold and wet. Not a place anybody would want to spend the night on. The homeless though had no other place to go.

T settled down in the doorway of what once had been a large Woolworths shop. Somehow, he had remembered that, despite the place being closed and boarded up years ago. Making sure to tuck his sleeping bag in to try and slow the cold from sipping underneath him, T lent back.

The pattering of the rain started to lull him to sleep, but a soft quacking awoke him. T opened his eyes and looked down at the large cardboard box by his feet. One of the two pet ducks inside the box was staring over the top at him with black beedy eyes.

‘There’s no more bread, Petal,’ T said gently.

The duck quacked and retreated back into the box.

T settled down again. He was just falling asleep when the sounds of police sirens cut through the quiet night. T awoke with a start. He looked around and saw a police car and van pulling up on the edge of the street. Uniform officers were getting out and coming towards him.

Sighing, T slowly began gathering his stuff.

‘Just give me a few minutes and I’ll be gone,’ T said as the first police person reached him.

‘It’s not about that,’ the man answered.

T paused and looked up. Rain was dripping off the policeman’s hat and shoulders of his jacket.

‘Do you have any ducks in there?’ the officer asked nodding to the box.

‘Yeah…’ T trailed as five more police people joined the first one.

‘I’m sorry, but we are going to have to remove them from you,’ the policeman said.

‘But why? I’ve done nothing wrong!’ T cried, ‘they were dumped and I’ve been looking after ’em. They is fancy birds, not wild ones. They’re my pets now.’

T reached defensively for the box and placed his head inside. He began stroking the ducks, who eagerly pushed against his hand.

‘There’s be concerns about their health. We have to take them,’ a female officer said.

‘I can look after ’em! I’ve been doing so for the last month,’ T declared, ‘you can’t take ’em there’re my friends.’

‘We have to. They don’t belong to you,’ a second policeman cut in, ‘just hand them over and won’t move you tonight.’

T shook his head, words failing him.

The female officer reached over and patted his arm. She guided T’s hand away from the ducks and before he could reach out again the first policeman had swooped in and picked up the box.

‘What will ya do with ’em?’ T shouted.

‘They will be fine. The RSPCA will look after them. Don’t worry. Why don’t I get you a cup of tea?’

‘Alright,’ T huffed as he watched the policeman hurrying away with his ducks.

The other officers began to disperses.

A sad hole sank into T’s chest that even the warmth of the tea couldn’t fix.

Latte

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Sato felt warmed inside and out despite the rain hammering against the window. Sitting back in the over sized royal purple colored armchair, she carried on watching the wild wintry weather. Around her, the coffee shop was humming with soft voices, machines, people eating and drinking. The air was heavy with the smell of coffee beans, tea and cakes.

Wrapping her hands around the large red mug, Sato let her thoughts drift. She tried not to think too much about anything though; not her job, part-time studies, recent conversations with grandma, the breakup with her boyfriend. She thought about returning to Japan for Christmas. At least that would stop grandma complaining, but she still wouldn’t have anyone special to share Christmas Eve with.

Sighing, Sato looked into her mug at the light brown frothy top. The leaf pattern that had been drawn on top was almost gone now.

Just like autumn almost is, she thought.

Rising her head, she glanced around the coffee shop, which seemed as the weather raged outside to be too empty. There was only a few other armchairs and sofas occupied by single people or by couples. They all seemed quiet and reflective, just like her. Behind the counter, the two baristas were doing a quick clean up before someone else came in. Somehow, they were keeping their tasks quiet as if they didn’t want to disturb the peace that had settled in the air.

Sato turned back to the rain and condensation covered window. People were hurrying by tucked into coats and umbrellas. The wind was shaking the bus signpost and upturning everything it could. A car splashed through a puddle, sending spray everywhere and causing a man with a large briefcase to dodge out of the way.

In a better mood, she would have laughed at that. Instead, Sato felt slightly sorry for the man and sympathized with a near miss to her the other day. As she watched, he crossed the road and opened the door to the coffee shop. A blast of cold air and rain followed him. He went to the counter and began ordering.

A shiver ran through Sato then was gone. She un-crumbled her face and tried to go back to her thoughts again, but then she couldn’t remember what she had been thinking about. Shrugging, she brought the mug to her lips and taking a sip of sweet ginger spiced latte and let the world slide away.

Stormy Weather

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It was autumn on the cusp of winter weather at it’s full force.

The cruel icy wind blew a gale not carrying what it swept away. The nearly hibernated trees lost all their remaining leaves and some branches as well as they seemed to hang on for dear life. The wind rattled doors and windows, seeping inside and spreading the cold further.

The rain coated everything, dripping and clinging where it could. Massive pools of water formed on the ground and ran down the sides of roads. Umbrellas and coats were defenseless against it as if the rain was determined that everything should be soaking wet.

The sky was dull grey. No sun or moon to be seen nor any cloud shapes to be made out. There was just a flat stretch of nothing reaching above a darkening, strangely quiet city.

I turned my eyes away from the window at last. I checked the fire was still roaring and had enough logs. Then went back to my book. For today was the perfect day for staying safety inside.

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.