Green #writephoto

The river was good at keeping secrets. Though sometimes it decided to give them up; a broken arrow from a hunt, a lost ring from a lovers’ quarrel, a human body. A few secrets though, it would never give up.

 

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/05/11/thursday-photo-prompt-green-writephoto/ with thanks)

Advertisements

Secrets

secret

Who knew what was locked away in the tower? Everyday life carried on as normal and no one give the crumbling structure a thought. It stood alone in the middle of the forest. Raising up over the top of the green pine trees and looking across at the village.

Maybe the tower had once been a part of a fort or a castle? A building now lost to time and the nature. Perhaps it had always been a watch tower, built to keep the village on the edge of the forest safe and warn them of coming danger?

Whatever it’s original purpose had been the tower was long abandoned now. And it would have slipped from history if not for a single story that involved it. Two brothers traveling across the country discovered the tower and made inquires about it.

‘Why do you wish to know?’ the oldest member of the village asked them.

‘It is so unusual out there by itself,’ the first brother answered.

‘We were think it might have a good story connected to it for the book we are writing,’ the second brother replied.

The old woman looked them up and down in the firelight of her wooden shack. They were young men; handsome and strong, yet tried from their travels.

‘Here, have some broth and I shall tell you the story I know of the tower,’ the old woman answered.

Gratefully, the brothers accepted the warm bowls of broth and settled down to listen to the old woman’s tale.

‘It was a long, long time ago and the king had just had a baby daughter. There was a big celebration as the kingdom now had an heir. The next day his wife died and an old hag, claiming to be a witch came to the king and demand his daughter. She showed him a contract his wife had signed in which the queen had brought a spell to make her pregnant.’

“By rights,” the witch said, “The child is mine!”

‘The king fought hard, but that night the witch kidnapped the baby and fled to the tower. Everyone searched high and low, but they could not find the old hag or the baby. Heartbroken the king died and his kingdom fell into war then ruin.’

‘And the child?’ the first brother interrupted.

‘Was locked in the tower,’ the old woman stated, ‘the witch raised her there and taught her how to spin and make things. Later, the lost Princess learnt about herself from books. She begged the witch to release her and the witch told her that could only happen when the Princess’ true love came to rescue her.’

‘And did he?’ the second brother asked.

‘No. Of course he did not!’ the old woman snapped, ‘they say to this day the Princess’ bones are still resting on the floor of the tower. The door magically locked so no one can get in.’

The brothers fell silent and finished their broth. They thanked the old woman and left. As they headed out of the village the first brother turned to the second, ‘I want that story,’ he declared, ‘but I’m going to change the ending.’

 

Inspired by: https://scvincent.com/2016/11/10/thursday-photo-prompt-secrets-writephoto/ with thanks.

Journals (Part 4)

book-912721_1920

(Please be aware this story contains adult sexual content.) 

That night, after Chinese takeaway and the kids had gone to bed, I went through the journals.

I got Dan to bring the three boxes into the living room and I sat on the floor surrounded by books. For awhile, Dan helped but then he put the TV on and got distracted by a movie. With the journals all neatly dates, it was easy for me to find the ones I wanted. Setting the others back into their boxes, I looked at the seven books before me. There were all fake leather A3 size, two were black, two were blue, one was green, the sixth red and the seventh was a strange grey color. It didn’t seem to fit in with the rest.

I picked it up and double checked the date. 1979, the year my mum went missing. I put it back and picked up the one dated 1973, the year I was born instead. I flipped to my birthday and read my gran’s account of that day. It was brief. She wrote about my mum and her going into hospital at about lunch time and me bring born a few hours later. Everything was fine, but then there was a line about the nurses and doctors asking about who the father was. If my mum was married and if she was actually going to keep me.

They forced the adoption papers into Mary’s hands. I told her it was her choice, but hadn’t I said I would take the baby on myself? This family has had to many lost children. Mary decided to keep the baby, but she wants to raise it by herself. I know it’s going to a street scandal, but this isn’t the 1950’s now! We shall do our best.

 I turned the page and read some more. It was another brief entry; my naming, leaving the hospital in the late evening and getting me home. Then something about the fact I was a good baby and slept well.

I went to the end of the journal and read the last page. I was five months old now. My gran had put that my mum still wouldn’t tell her who my father was. She could see the weight of the responsibility weighing down her sixteen year old daughter. She planned to adopt me and send my mum back to school.

I closed the book and reached of another one.

‘Anything interesting?’ Dan asked sleepily from the sofa.

‘No. That was the year I was born, so I wasn’t really expecting anything,’ I replied.

I picked up the next one and opened it.

‘We should go to bed. I’ve work in the morning,’ Dan spoke.

‘I’ll be up in a bit,’ I replied.

He paused then said, ‘come to bed with me now. You’ll lose track of time and be up all night…just like when you were reading Harry Potter.’

I smiled at that without really meaning too.

He got up and came to me. Slipping his hands on to my shoulders and massaging. I hummed a little and let everything go. All the tension and worry I’d been carrying with me and just hiding came to the surface. Tiredness quickly followed and I decided for a change that my husband was right.

I had the journals now and whatever secrets were inside of them could wait until morning. Dan helped me up and we went upstairs.

In the week that followed, I read the journals closely in any spare time I had. They told me very little and so much at the same time. I began to realise though that my mum had never told anyone the name of my father. My gran thought it could be a number of men, including; one of my mum’s high school teachers and an eighteen year old neighbor. I though, my gran wrote, looked too much like my mum.

When I came to read the grey 1979 journal it was very patchy and it seemed pages might have been torn out, though I couldn’t be sure. The date my mum officially was declared missing was Tuesday in late April. She had failed to come home from a friend’s house Monday night. Gran wrote mum never turned up to work her part time job in a shoe shop on Monday or Tuesday. She had asked friends and no one had seen her.

The police said she’d run away from home and or was just staying with a friend. She’d turn up. Gran felt differently though. It didn’t make any sense why Mary would leave me behind, she loved me. Even though Gran had pretty much taken over at this point. Gran wrote that six year old me often asked where mamma was. Gran said she was away and would come home soon. But she never did.

Soon after I finished the grey diary, I moved on and read through the 1980’s journals. Gran and the police were still looking for mum. There wasn’t a lot to go on though. And I stopped asking were she was. Gran was mum now and I had to worry about school and growing up.

‘Diaries turned up anything today?’ Dan asked a week or so later as we lay in bed together.

I snuggled against him, putting my head on his bare chest and listening to his breathing. He stroked my hair and held me close.

‘No,’ I replied, ‘gran was right when she told me she never knew what happened. Mary just vanished one day and the police could never find her. I always thought it was because of me. But gran told me and wrote how much Mary loved me. So that couldn’t have been her reason. I don’t know…Maybe I missed something.’

‘Or maybe that’s it,’ Dan said softly.

I rubbed his chest, feeling the small hairs against my skin. I looked up at him and he was watching me. He kissed the top of my head then I moved and our lips brushed.

‘Do you think I should give up?’ I questioned.

‘I wouldn’t,’ he answered quickly, ‘and your gran never did. The answers are out there somewhere. Tomorrow I’ll read through the diaries too. Maybe we’ll find out together.’

‘Thanks,’ I whispered and kissed him deeply.

To Be Continued…

Ghostly Secrets (Part 5)

pexels-photo-68389-large

Annabelle almost tore through the letter itself as she disregarded the envelope. Her eyes flicked across the neat handwriting that she recognised as being her father’s from the countless letters he had sent her. The letter was brief and written to his lawyer about amendments to his will.

My wife has died, he wrote, And I wish to leave the care of my daughter to my sister, Lucy Yeats and provide her a sum of money monthly to look after the child’s needs and education. My country house, should go to my brother, Edward and his wife. If anything should happen to my sister and her family which means they can no longer care of my child, she is to go to my brother. 

Annabelle felt she already knew about that, perhaps her aunt Lucy had once told her. Luckily, none of that had come to pass and she was only staying with her uncle to get some fresh air and recover from illness. She knew she’s soon be back in London shopping with her cousins and discussing possible husbands.

She read on, noticing how her father’s last letter for that was which she guessed it to be, was so different from her mother’s. Her father continued to list money and items to people, namely her and other family members. Then he had signed it at the bottom. Annabelle set the letter down and picked up the envelope to put it back in. As she did so though light from the candle light caught it and she saw that something had actually been written on the inside of the envelope.

Carefully, Annabelle opened the thin paper and read the secret message her father had placed there. The ink was fading and the words so small it was hard to read without holding it up to the light. She felt a chill go through her as she read;

My wife is not actually dead, but she is as good as. Her madness has become too much to cope with. She no longer knows me or her child or anyone else. I have had to leave her in Edward’s care and remove our child to a safer place. My wife can not be cured nor do the doctors know how long she will live for. Often, she raves in French about seeing the ghostly form of her mother and we are finding it hard to keep servants in the place.

I need a death certificate but so far I have been unable to find a doctor who will sign one. They think perhaps, I mean to cheat my daughter out of inheritance. My will must be prove enough that I do not wish that to happen. We must arrange a meeting between us and a doctor who will assist us. It should be at the church were my sons are buried and everything done in secret for the time being.

The letter ended and Annabelle fell into a deep reflections. She had once had brothers and all the things she had heard about her mother’s passing had been wrong. Everyone had made her believe it had been in child birth, but all along it had been some other illness. And the ghost! Was the hunchbacked old woman actually her grandmother? Perhaps that explained why she could not rest for she wanted Annabelle to understand what had happened and for things to be settled.

Putting the envelope down, Annabelle picked up her mother’s letter and read it in a new light. The words made better sense now and Annabelle felt her heart breaking further.

I have not much time left, her mother had written, I can feel it. Some days I know my husband by his face and voice, but other days he is a stranger to me! I can not remember much other then my baby is gone to join the others in the grave and my young daughter has been sent to London. I hope that she is spared my illness.

The north tower has become my home and often I think of the poor child of my husband’s brother. That child lived here too, hidden from the world because of his deformity and the family’s shame. I think sometimes I can hear screaming and scratching at the door. My mother visits often in her ghost form. I have for years tried hard not to talk of her, but I can no longer hold it back. Still she does not speak and it is always past the midnight hour when she appears.

What will become of my child? I always think of her when I come back to my senses. I wish to she her, but my husband says she is gone and will only come back when I am better. I have heard the doctor’s whispering and I know I never will survive this. I want to leave. I want to get out of this house, it seems to have some supernatural powers, maybe it is cursed or evil lives here. My husband does not believe me, but I think I could get better if I only left!

My child needs to be kept away from this place. I fear for her if she ever comes here.

Clara. 

  Annabelle dropped the letter and burst into tears. How had they kept this all from her? She put her head down on the desk, resting on her arms and cried for sometime. Exhausted she then fell asleep and had fitful dreams.

The room was darker when she awoke because some of the candles had burnt themselves out. Annabelle got up and went to the door. It was still locked. She bang her fists against the wood and began shouting loudly. Someone must come!

However, when she paused to drag in deep breaths, she heard nothing but the slow creaking of the house. Annabelle looked at her hands and saw they were bruised. Wondering what to do she swept about the floor and decided to see if there was another way out the room.

She searched for a long time, testing all parts of every wall and even the floor, but the rooms give up no more secrets. Hungry and tried she give in and lay down on the bed. Holding on to the fact that someone would soon start looking for her, she fell asleep.

She dreamed of her parents in the manor house. They were running down the corridors and in out of the rooms, they were chasing each other and laughing. She watched them from the point of view of a baby until they vanished into the folds of the house.  She cried loudly, begging they come back to her, but they did not reappear and she was left alone.

Annabelle woke with a start, her ears still ringing with the crying of a baby. She sat up, pushed her hair behind her and listened. The crying was still going on. Getting up, she walked around, but could find no source of the noise. She returned to the bedchamber and the desk just as the crying stopped. Annabelle saw the hunchbacked old woman waiting by the foot of the bed.

‘I know now!’ Annabelle cried, ‘I know what happened, but I’m trapped in here. How can I tell my uncle and aunt?’

The ghost looked at her and turned towards the door. Slowly, she floated over and went through the door. Annabelle dropped her shoulders and felt all the energy leaving her. She rose a hand to her head as she felt pain growing and then it was gone. She heard the door click open and slowly move inwards.

Annabelle hurried to the door and opened it fully. The ghost was standing in the hallway lighting the way as the last candle in the room went out. The old woman began moving and Annabelle followed to her chambers.

At the door, she thanked the ghost and promised to make things right, then she went into the room which was warm and blazing with light.

Ghostly Secrets (Part 4)

pexels-photo-68389-large

Annabelle stopped then pulled the curling envelope out of the jewelry box. She turned it over and looked for anything written on it or a seal, but there was nothing. She placed the rest of the jewelry back in and opened the envelope, her heart fluttered as she did so, but before she could stop her moving hands, the piece of paper was out and before her eyes.

She read it slowly and the words began to weigh heavy in her mind. It was strange, but even before she saw the name at the end, she knew her mother had written it. She re-read the letter and though it was not addressed to anyone, perhaps her mother had wrote it for her.

A noise and voices outside in the corridor drew her attention and Annabelle folded the letter back up, tucked it in the envelope then placed it up her long sleeve. She blew out all the candles but the one she had brought with her then slipped through the hidden door and blew out the candles in the library. Going into the bedchamber, she paused because the door into the hallway was half open.

She backed up, shielding the light of her candle away.

‘What were you doing in there, girl?’ a sharp man’s voice that Annabelle recognised as the butler’s asked.

‘Nothing, sir,’ Annabelle’s maid squeaked back, ‘There was a cat, you see and I was chasing it away and then I saw the door was open and thought it had gone in, but it had not. I am sorry, sir.’

‘The door was open?’ the butler mutter before raising his voice again, ‘that’ll be all. Get yourself back in the kitchen, girl! And I never want to see you in this part of the house again or I’ll have you removed. Do you understand?’

‘Yes, sir, right away, sir.’

Annabelle heard the running of feet then the door banging too and the clicking of a lock. She held her breath and kept pressed against the door frame. Her body was shaking and heart was beating so loud she was sure someone would hear it. After a few moments, she heard heavier footsteps walking away and she let her breath out. Still though she did not move and she counted a minute before entering carefully into the bedchamber.

She had removed all the candles before, so only the one in her hands offered any light. Annabelle found her way to the door and tried the handle. She pulled the door, but it would not moved. Panicking, she tugged the handle harder, but the door was clearly locked and not moving.

She opened her mouth and cried out then shouted for help. Annabelle listened but heard nothing. She paced before the door, her skirts swishing around her and she tried stay calm. Finally, she decided to relight the other candles and place them around her.

With more light, she could see the bedchamber better. The bed clothes and hangings were musty and she avoided touching them so there was no further rising of dust. She went back to the desk and sat down at the chair. She took the envelope from her sleeve and rubbed it against her fingers.

Opening it again, she took out the letter and re-read it. Annabelle let out a little gasp as the words on the paper sunk in. Her hand rested on her heart and she read like that till the end. Trembling, she put the letter down and looked at it. The words blurred before her and she realised she was crying.

Wiping her eyes, Annabelle tried to figure things out. She had always known her mother was half French, that was were she had gotten her name, but she had not known her mother had lived here. Her mother had died when Annabelle was young and her father had given Annabelle over to the care of her other aunt and she had been brought up with her three cousins.

Annabelle had never given any real thought to the mother she did not know, but now so many questions were coming into her mind. Sliding the letter away, she picked up the sealed envelope that she had avoid opening before and tore into it.

To Be Continued…

Ghostly Secrets (Part 3)

pexels-photo-68389-large

Annabelle hurried back to her chambers forgetting all her manners. The skirt of her nightdress whipped around her legs and she almost tripped over many times. The flame of the oil lamp flickered madly and made the shadows along the walls more darker. Her bare feet pounded the floor almost as loudly as her heart.

She almost missed her door in her flight. Annabelle stopped and looked desperately around, she barely recognised the corridor but then saw where her bedchamber door was and hurried in. The room was just as she had left with it; with the fire now out and the bed cold. Annabelle placed the lamp on her bedside table and scrambled into bed. She shivered violently and clutched the sheets tightly.

Annabelle calmed herself. She rested against the pillows and took in deep breaths. Despite everything, she heard the grandfather clock in the front hallway below chime three am. She tried to settle, but sleep would not come and her mind was too drawn back to the room. Why had the ghost taken her there? Who’s room had it been? She knew parts of the manor house had been shut away because they were no longer needed. Perhaps, she could ask her uncle and aunt, maybe even the maids and house keeper? Somehow though, Annabelle did not want to tell anyone about the room.

She shut her eyes, feeling tried but at the same time unable to sleep. She wondered when she could try and go back during the daytime. Maybe in the middle of the afternoon? her aunt always took a nap and her uncle went out for a walk. The servants would be busy preparing the evening meal and finishing their tasks for the day. Annabelle decided that would be the best time and promptly fell asleep.

When she woke it was late morning. Annabelle rubbed her eyes and face as she came too. She knew the maid had been in because her clothes were laid out and there was fresh water in the jug. Annabelle got up and washed herself before ringing the bell for the maid. Whilst she waited, she looked outside and out over the moors. It was a grey dull day and there was not much to see.

The maid appeared and helped her get dressed into a plain blue day dress. Somehow, Annabelle held her questions about the ghost and room in. She went down to eat and found her uncle and aunt had already eaten and where in other parts of the house. Annabelle ate her eggs and toast in silence then went back to her room. Stepping through the door, she saw the maid was cleaning out the fireplace.

‘I’ll be done soon, Miss. Is there anything I can do for you?’ the maid asked.

Annabelle looked at her, recalling that the maid was younger then herself, so the girl might not know anything about the room. The girl had chestnut brown hair, so different from Annabelle’s blonde curls and she was wearing clothes that ill fitted her, as if the maid had been given another woman’s clothes. Annabelle pressed her lips together and decided to ask, ‘do you anything about ghosts?’

The girl, paused and looked at her, ‘no, Miss.’

Annabelle  went and sat at her dressing table where she played with a silver hairbrush and mirror. She watched the maid in the mirror and thought carefully.

‘You must know some stories though…’Annabelle muttered.

‘Sorry, Miss?’

‘Have you ever since a ghost?’ Annabelle asked.

‘No, Miss,’ the maid said quickly, ‘I must go and get some more coal.’

Annabelle turned to stop her but the girl hurried off before she could call her back. Sighing, she looked around then noticed the match box on the floor. Getting up, she collected that and a candle from the mantel and left her room. Though she had meant to find the secret room later, the urge to go back and see it again was too strong.

She hurried along the corridor and around into the next one. She remembered the way perfectly and arrived at the door, which was still slightly ajar. Annabelle opened it and stepped in. Closing it behind her, she found herself in darkness and had to go out again so she could light the candle. With that done, she walked through the bedchamber and light the few candles that were dotted about.

It was just a man’s bedchamber and beside from the envelope on the desk, Annabelle found no other names. She paused over the letter and then picked it up. The envelope had been sealed and never opened. It had never been posted. She almost opened it then she could not bring herself to break the seal. Placing it back, she walked into the other room and lit the single candle there.

The small flame hardly cast any light, so she went and picked up another candle from the next room. Then she could see that it was a personal library. A few molding books rested on a few bookshelves, but someone had taken away the others a long time ago. Annabelle went to the tapestry and inspected it more closely. She could not see anything else within it though. Moving it aside, she opened the door to the secret room and stepped in once more.

Straight away she saw the long curtains and went over to open them. Weak light drifted into the room from the dirty windows, but Annabelle could now see a lot more. She brought candles from the first room and placed them around. Then she saw that the room had once been heavily decorated and wonderful, but now time was decaying everything. It appeared to a be a lady’s private room, but Annabelle did not know how that was possible since it was clearly connect to a man’s room.

She walked about, looking at the pretty objects that decorated the room. There was a large chair and sofa, books on the shelves, dried flowers in vases, makeup and hair items on the large dresser. Small paintings hung on the walls of countryside scenes and the actual manor house. Two porcelain dolls sat together in a baby crib, their dust covered glass eyes staring up at Annabelle. Soft rugs covered the floor, muffling her footsteps as she moved around to looked for another hidden doorway. Perhaps she thought this room did connect to another somehow.

After much searching and looking at the placement of the items and furniture, Annabelle decided she had been wrong. There was only one way out of this room and someone had moved everything in here to make it look like it did. She went back to the desk and looked at the items there. There was a ink stand complete with pots and what had once been quills, yellow writing papers, an old book and the jewelry box.

Annabelle touched it, feeling dust under her fingers. She opened the large wooden box and saw the glitter of jewels in the candle light. No music came from the box, but as she inspect it and the contents more, she found a key and was able to wind it up. A soft lullaby rose up and she thought she knew it, but could not place it. She picked up necklaces, bracelets, earrings and loose gem stones, all very expensive and just left hidden in this dark room.

She started putting everything back and that was when she spotted the letter.

To Be Continued…

Ghostly Secrets (Part 2)

pexels-photo-68389-large

The ghost of the old woman went through the door and Annabelle let out a little gasp. She went over thinking it might have been a trick, but she saw the door as solid as it had been before. Realizing that being a ghost might granted you such powers, Annabelle opened the door and walked into the hallway.

The countryside manor house was as quiet the graveyard close by and just as dark. Feeling a little less nervous with her glowing oil lamp, Annabelle peered around the corridor. The carpet runner felt worn, but far less cold under her bare feet. Shadows lingered anywhere, making the normal objects more monstrous. Annabelle raised the light to a landscape painting that hung just outside her door.

She knew the rolling hills, sheep and grey sky so well now, but in the lamp light the painting looked a mix of greens and greys as if the artist had destroyed the work in a rage. Annabelle’s hand clutched her fluttering heart and she took a few moments to calm herself.

‘It’s only because it’s dark,’ Annabelle muttered.

She turned away and saw that the ghost had drifted off. Annabelle let out a little cry and gathering her sweeping night dress up, quickly walked down the corridor. She caught up just before the old woman turned the corner and Annabelle could see that the ghost was letting off as much light as the oil lamp was, which really was not enough to see by.

‘Could we not do this during the day? It is frightfully late,’ Annabelle spoke out.

The ghastly old woman ignored her and carried on drifting down the next corridor. Annabelle let out a small sigh and wondered if she should just go back to her bedchamber. Somehow it felt too late now and did she not want to know why the ghost kept visiting her?

The corridor stretched before them, but the ghost did not go all the way to the end. She choice a door on the left side and went through. Annabelle frowned and shone the oil lamp on the door. There was nothing unremarkable about the dark oak frame and door. Annabelle held her breath and reached for the brass knob. The door opened silently and she walked into in the well furnished bedchamber.

Looking around, Annabelle guessed it had once been a long term resident’s room as there were still personal affects dotted about. She spotted a small stack of thin books on the bedside table, an ink pot and paper still on the desk under the window, a picture of a married couple in a silver frame on the mantel. She walked further about and noticed the thick layer of dust covering everything. Going to the desk, she looked at an envelope placed to one side, it was addressed to a Mr Cromby in London.

She thought about picking it up and looking at it, but her senses got the better of her and she turned away. Annabelle saw the ghost was disappearing through a small door in the corner and went over to open it. The door was stiff and it took a few moments for her to open it. She shone the light into a small room that might have been a personal library at one time. Empty bookcases lined two of the walls and there was a comfy looking armchair in the far corner.

The hunchbacked ghost was going to the wall behind the chair, where an ancient tapestry was. Annabelle brought the lamp closer to view the scene and saw it was a knight riding a white horse with a red dragon breathing fire at them on the other side. It was really faded and threadbare. If there had been anything else on the tapestry she could not see it. The old woman went through, taking her white ghost light with her.

Annabelle dropped the edges of her nightdress and felt the tapestry. The wall felt solid. With no where to place oil lamp, she carried on pressing the wall hanging until she felt the edge of what might have been a doorway. Annabelle lifted the tapestry and saw there was a small door. She tried the handle and it opened on rusty hinges.

The ghost was waiting for her and silently led Annabelle into a long forgotten room. With a see-through finger, the old female specter pointed at a musical jewellery box on the table. Annabelle went up to the desk and looked down.

‘What is it?’ Annabelle asked.

She looked over at the ghost, but the old woman had disappeared.

To Be Continued…

 

Ghostly Secrets (Part 1)

Brown Wooden Coffee Table Below an Uplight Chandelier

The ghost had been visiting Annabelle for the past four nights. The specter took the form of an old hunchback woman dressed in long flowing rags. She was almost see-through and surrounded by a white glowing light. She appeared at the bottom of Annabelle’s bed as the grandfather clock stroke two am. Annabelle would awaken, not sure what had disturbed her slumber, but knowing she was no longer alone in the bedroom.

Annabelle would roll over and watch the ghost standing there and staring at her for an hour or so, until she fell asleep again. She didn’t feel afraid, nor anything at all really, but was puzzled about why the ghostly old woman was watching her. Twice Annabelle had thought about drawing the heavy curtains around the four poster bed, but the idea made her feel panicky. That was part of the reason she had come to her uncle and aunt’s country house to begin with.

Tonight though, Annabelle was feeling restlessly. She had settled into the bed, warmed by a bedpan made by the maid, who had also lit the small fire in the fireplace and Annabelle had started reading her current novel. The wind and rain were lashing against the small windows as the storm reached it’s peak. She heard a rumble of thunder and looked up from her reading.

In the dimly lit room, she could not see very much. The fire and her oil lamp cast pools of orange glows, but nothing more. Annabelle thought about getting up and going to the window. But she knew there would be nothing to see but the darkness pressing against the glass and the drops of rain running down. She did not feel tried though and so turned back to her book.

She never heard the grandfather clock chiming two and only realized the time when the ghost appeared. The old woman began to take shape at the foot of the bed and the light created made Annabelle finally look up from her novel. She had never seen the ghost form before it was a strange sight to see. First, it just seemed like a flicker of candle light which grew until it took a shimmering shape that could be called a head and body. Secondly, silver hair and clothes seemed to form then finally everything came into focus and the hunchback old woman was there.

Annabelle, with a quick glance at her page and shove in of the red ribbon she was using as a bookmark closed the book and sat up.

‘What is it? What do you want?’ Annabelle asked.

The ghost looked at her with large white eyes and Annabelle saw for the first time the lack of detail within the old woman’s face. There was a smoothness to the long drawn out face when Annabelle expected it to be covered in wrinkles. The hair was clumped together and draped on either side of her small shoulders. The ghost was wearing what at first seemed to be a white ragged sheet, but the more Annabelle looked she realized it was an old fashioned night dress.

‘Who are you?’ Annabelle asked.

The ghastly old woman opened her mouth and tried to form words but nothing came. She rose her hand and with a finger pointed at the closed and locked door of the bedchamber.

Annabelle looked over then back at the ghost. She got the meaning straight away, but was not sure she wanted to follow the old hag. With a shake of her head, Annabelle curled herself more into the bed and drew the sheets up tighter.

‘Why can’t you speak?’ Annabelle asked.

The old woman stared at her silently then once more rose her hand to the door. She moved slowly as she might have done when she was alive. Shuffling towards the door, bent over and as if leaning on a walking stick.  Annabelle watched her and saw that her bare feet were not touching the ground but were raised just off it.

Annabelle released the bed clothes and making up her mind, she slipped from the bed. The floor was freezing, as if she was walking on snow. The darkness weighed heavy around her and Annabelle glanced at her bedside table and the oil lamp. She padded back and collected the lamp. Even though the flame only cast a small pool of yellow light, she felt better.

The ghost was waiting for her by the door. Annabelle stopped a good distance away.

‘I am ready,’ Annabelle breathed.

To Be Continued….

 

The Life Of Leaves

autumn-1655915_1920

I looked up and saw through the translucent autumn leaves. The pale October sun was giving just enough light to see by even though it was the middle of the afternoon. I stopped and for some reason began wondering about the life of a leaves. How did they know when to start changing color and dying? The tree of course felt the cold and knew it was time to sleep. The tree couldn’t photosynthesis with the weak sunlight and the leaves lost their usefulness.

I felt a jolt back to high school biology class. That was probably where the knowledge came from. Why was it important anyway? Who actually cared about these things and the changing of the seasons? They just happened and we did what we normally did, year after year. I frowned up at the leaves and watched the wind moving them. In that moment, the world slipped away. The barking dogs, the people, everyone and thing in the park, but that one tree and me.

I heard the leaves whispering, but I couldn’t make out their words. They weren’t calling to me though. Perhaps, they were speaking to each other or the tree. What were they saying? That it was growing cold it was time for them to move on? I saw the leaves fall, they came and spiraled around me. They were still whispering, but the words were a secret. Then they were gone, the wind carrying them away.

I came back to and looked around in a daze. Everything looked normal. The kids playing on the swings, the dogs chasing balls, people jogging and yet, I no longer was normal. The leaves had reached out to me, they had whispered their story to me and now I felt a change growing within me.

Family Secrets (Part 5)

Pedestrian, Walking, Shadow, Night, Evening, Street

Em rolled over and pressed herself against her husband’s back. She breathed deeply, smelling cig smoke, beer and damp grass. Coming fully too, Em wondered what time he had got in at. She looked over to the window and saw a faint light coming through.

Had he been out all night?  she questioned.

She looked at the time and saw it was a little past seven. Deciding there was no way he could have just got in, she settled back down. However, she was too awake and had to get up. Being quiet, she went to the bathroom then came back to get dressed. Tying her hair up, she collected the dirty clothes and headed down stairs.

Em spent the morning cleaning and getting the chores done. She was curled on the sofa when she heard her husband moving upstairs. She looked up at the ceiling then back on the TV. Soon his footsteps came downstairs and he went into the kitchen. She listened to him loudly making a mug of coffee whilst she carried on sipping her tea.

He appeared in the doorway a few minutes later then joined her on the sofa. He flopped down and yawed.

‘Good night?’ Em asked.

Rick nodded.

‘What time did you get in?’

‘Don’t know…’ her husband answered.

Em pressed her lips together and though a small part of her pressed not to burst the balloon, she finally decided to.

Taking a deep breath she asked; ‘I know about the other woman.’

Rick shot up off the sofa moving faster then a stepped on cat. His coffee split on the arm of the sofa and the floor. If any splashed on him he didn’t notice as he started in shock horror at his wife.

‘Who is she?’ Em asked staying calm.

Rick opened his mouth then closed it.

Em waited though quickly she saw he could not speak.

‘I know you’ve been going out when you think I’ve gone to bed,’ Em picked up, ‘You’ve been seeing her for awhile, haven’t you? I don’t get it….Why?’

Em sighed. She broke eye contact with her husband and looked at her going cold tea. The cup was balanced on one knee and both her hands were wrapped around it. She let the TV fill the silence between them. A murder mystery series was flashing by.

‘It’s not what you think,’ Rick finally uttered.

Em looked back at him. He had placed his half empty mug of coffee down and was messing with his hair. He glanced at her then looked at the TV, though he wasn’t interested in the detective pondering in his office, Rick’s thoughts were far away.

‘Oh?’ Em broke in.

‘I’m not “seeing” her,’ Rick answered, he drew a deep breath, ‘and I wasn’t keeping her from you either, it’s just I didn’t know how to tell you…’

Em’s grip tightened on the mug and she fought hard not to speak. She rub her lips together and swallowed her words. She looked at her husband with teary eyes and waited for him to go on.

‘I have an older sister.’

‘A sister? Em cried out.

Rick nodded, ‘I found out by accident…Remember when my uncle died and they had to find his family?’

‘Yes,’ Em replied, ‘we’d just got married.’

‘Well, there was some argument about the inheritance and I got to see the family tree. It took awhile, but I got in connect with her….turns out she only lives a mile away.’

Em shook her head, a part of her felt he was lying, covering up his betrayal, but another part of her knew it could  be true. Rick had never lied to her before, but maybe this time….

‘It sounds like one of your novels,’ she blurted out.

Rick’s frowned and tried to counter her back, but he could not. He settled back the sofa, pick up his mug and drink some coffee.

‘It’s not….?’ Em muttered.

‘You can see the family tree, meet her, see her birth certificate. She actually has that though she was adopted. We sort of look a like too,’ Rick added.

Em pulled a face and felt all the tension draining. She finished her tea then placing her cup down she turned to her husband. He was looking into his coffee as if it held the solves to this hole that had been opened.

‘Whilst we’re cleaning the air…’ Em begin.

Her husband moved his head up to looked at her, but she couldn’t meet his eyes.

‘Remember how I said I couldn’t have children because of an infection in my womb as a teenager?’

Rick nodded and went to reach out for her hand.

Em paused him, ‘I didn’t tell you the whole story… I had a baby.’

‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ Rick gasped.

‘Because I wanted a clean start when I meet you and that was such a bad time in my life.’

‘What happened?’

Em shrugged, ‘I wanted to keep him, but I got really ill and my parents went behind my back and sent him to be adopted. I kept what I could and sometime I think about him. Wonder what he looked like now and what he’s doing and what would have happened if I’d got to keep him.

‘Maybe we can find him?’ Rick suggested.

‘Perhaps. What if he doesn’t want to meet me though or what if we can’t find him?’ Em voiced.

‘We have to try…firstly let me introduce you to my sister.’