Outhouse #FridayFictioneers

In the eighties, my uncle owned a small shop in a row of five others with rooms above them built in the 1920’s which also had a shared toilet outside. As a child, I was so scared to go out to the tiny brick shelter that I wouldn’t ‘go’ unless I super had to. It was freezing and dark, home to many spiders and smelt stale. I never met anyone else using the toilet, thankfully.

When the council knocked the whole row down, long after my uncle had passed away, I went to see the demolition and to see goodbye to the toilet that had haunted me.

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/11/29/1-december-2017 with thanks).

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Forbidden (Part 1)

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The antique shop had only been open a few days and from my office window it had seemed busy. There had been a continuous flow of all kinds of people going in and out. Sometimes they carried paper bags but most of the time they came out with nothing. A few people in the office had been and they whispered about the things they had seen behind their hands.

I had no interest in anything the shop was selling. The front window display looked like a posh jumble sell just without the clothes. There were a few tables, bookcases and chairs filled with a variety of items; old books, lamps, dolls, teddy bears, ornaments, vintage toys, clocks etc. Far too much to look at.

Getting into my car after finishing work for the week, the engine wouldn’t start. It was pouring with rain and a snap of winter freeze was in the air. I called my breakdown service and the waiting time was an hour. I looked miserably back at the office building. I could go in and do some more work…or…I glanced across at the antique shop.

With a shrug, I got out of my car and hurried across to the door which was lit up like a lighthouse. Going in, a bell ring over my head and nice warm air hugged me like an old friend. Stepping through, I saw the shop was more packed then the window display! There were tables, bookcases, cabinets, shelves holding all kinds of things that everything blurred into one.

In the center was a square counter and till area. Three old women were stood there helping customers. There was a hushed chatter as if secrets were being spoken. No one looked at me, so I just began moving around. I noticed a staircase to my left with a sign above it saying more things up here. At the back of then room three doors led off but one was marked staff only.

I drifted around, looking but not looking, wondering and frowning. The air smelt of old attic and dried flowers. Sort of comforting but also chocking. Then through the mass of things, I began noticing items that shouldn’t be here and had been prohibited by the New Age Government. Banned books, items related to cigarettes and alcohol,  banned music, statues and sketches of nudes, ‘too’ modern art, fantasy and mythology items. I looked at a model of a red and yellow dragon rising out of flames then I quickly moved on.

That would explain why this shop had seemed so popular! People were looking and buying prohibited items! I hurried into one of the back rooms and found a dark corner. My head was tumbling. If I got caught here that’d be the end of me! The end of everyone in this shop! Having prohibited items meant jail time leading to death unless someone bailed you out.

I shut my eyes and tried to calm down, but I was sweating badly. I took in deep breaths and told myself, I just needed to walk out of here and not come back. I should go and wait in my car for the breakdown man to come. Then when I got home I should report the shop as was my duty. But I couldn’t move.

‘Hey! What you doing!’ a gnarled voice demanded.

I opened my eyes, not sure if I was being addressed or not. There was an old man before me, the light was dim but I could still make him out. He had red cheeks, an angry face and was wearing a tweed suit. He was also carrying a lit lantern.

‘Nothing…I got lost…’ I trailed.

‘You buying something or what?’ he snapped.

‘Oh, erm…This…’ I uttered, without looking I picked up the first thing my right hand touched and showed it him.

He snorted and waved at me to move. I did so and he followed me to the counter. I had closed my hand around the smooth, light object. I kept my eyes up as I placed it down on the glass top and paid for it. Then on receiving a small paper bag, I rushed outside. The rain and freezing cold hit me in the face, whipping the warmth of the shop from me, but I didn’t care.

I got into my car and sit there huddled and shaking. The paper bag clutched my hands like a bomb. A knocking at my window made me jump and I shoved the bag onto the floor and opened the door. It was only the breakdown man, who kindly took me home.

To Be Continued…

 

(Inspired from; https://thewriteedgewritingworkshop.wordpress.com/2017/10/19/writing-prompts-for-monday-october-23-2017/ with thanks).

Village Bakery

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Every morning, Jenny got up and went to her family’s bakery. Always the first to arrive, she tied on a clean pale blue apron over her black pants and white blouse then set about the morning tasks. Firstly,  she took the now clean aprons out of the washing machine and hung them up on the line in the little yard. The sun was just coming up and there was only the sounds of birds to be heard.

Secondly, she checked the stock rooms and made a list of everything that needed re-ordering then Jenny placed that notepad on her grandpa’s desk for him to see. There was no need for her to clean anything as her grandma and mother tided when they closed then again before they opened.

Tying back her short chestnut brown hair and washing her hands, Jenny went to the back kitchen and the bookcase of recipe books. Even thought she knew how to make everything the bakery sold with her eyes shut, she still liked the comfort of the big, overused books. Selecting one which was all in her great-grandmother’s handwriting, Jenny placed it on the book stand and flipped through the pages.

Grabbing the ingredients, she began to make a few different loafs of bread. It didn’t really matter what kinds they were because the second they were on the shop’s shelves they would start to be bought. Having mixed, divided and put the additional ingredients in to the batches, she let all the dough proof.

At that time, other family members began arriving; Jenny’s parents and grandparents. Greeting each other, they all began their morning tasks. Her mother and grandma cleaning everything, her grandpa going in his office to do paperwork, her dad coming to help with the baking.

As the sun fully rose on another picture perfect summer day, the villagers and tourist started awaking. The lovely aroma of freshly baked bread filled the warm air. The bell above the bakery door tinkled and the first customer arrived. Jenny smiled as she heard an old man’s voice asking what bread there was this morning.

Her grandmother began answering as her father pulled a tray stacked with white and brown loafs out and carried it into the shop. Jenny breathed in deeply, shutting her eyes. There was no better job in the world she decided.

China

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It was only a matter of time until someone knocked the china set off the display stand. The moment Audrey finished putting it out and I looked at it, a premonition came to me. I saw all the china flying to the floor and breaking before anyone could save a single piece. I told Audrey. She laughed and told me to go back to work, which there was always plenty of the antique shop. However, I really wish my premonition had shown it was me that broke the china, that would have been more useful to know!

(Inspired from: https://bikurgurl.com/2017/07/19/16492/ with thanks)

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.

Abbey Ruins

Buildwas Abbey, England, Great Britain, Columns, Ruins

There was something about returning to the abbey ruins that made him go cold. It had been his childhood playground for so many years, it had become like a second home. Now, stepping off the bus and entering the abbey grounds after twenty years it still smelt the same. He breathed in summer grass, warm soil and a hint of sweetness which came from the visitor building and shop.

He walked slowly down the stone path, noticing the groups of young families. Everyone seemed so happy and completely oblivious to the past that was rising up around him. Going around the back of the Abbey, he found it quieter and further out some ruined walls that marked separate houses and buildings which the monks had used for guests and storage.

He stopped in front of a corner wall that was about three foot off the ground. He looked around with a lump in his throat, but there were no signs or flowers marking the spot. Strangely, he thought there would still have been. He looked over the top and across to a low tree, there was a bench just in front of it.

He walked over, not remembering a bench ever being there before. He looked at the bronze sign and his heart sink. She had not been forgotten. He sat down on the bench and thought about that summer. He had been ten, one of the oldest in the group, but there had been nothing he could have done.

It had been the normal game of  climbing and jumping, but she had gotten scared and not wanted too. He could not recall her face, it had faded, but he remembered her cries and mumbled nos. Someone had pushed her. One of his friends, but no one could ever say who.

She had fallen, hit her head somehow and landed on the ground never to get up again.

Old Magic

It was just a curiosity because she had time to kill whilst waiting for her friends. At least that’s what Imogen told herself as she left the coffee shop and walk across to The Olde Magick & Apothecary Shoppe. Pausing by the window to take a closer look at the display, she felt drawn to the place. Even though she’d never admit it to her friends, she actually believed in this kind of thing.

The window display was decked out like so many were for Halloween. There was a large broom stick lying across two stacks of old books, draped with fake cobwebs. A witch’s black hat and stuffed toy cat sat on the end. A small cauldron surrounded by plastic flames and logs was on one side with three witch dolls huddled around it. Opposite was a pile of different size pumpkins sitting in a nest of autumn leaves. Different coloured and sized candles were also dotted around on the black and purple cloth coverings.

There was a large bookcase too, which give backing to the display and stopped peeping eyes into the shop. The shelves seemed a little empty to Imogene, but there was the normal stuffed raven and human skull lined up alongside books with interesting and questioning titles. There was also a collection of glass bottles with old labels on them. The curly handwriting was hard to make out, but Imogene guessed they were for display only. Hanging above where dried flowers and herbs. Fancy lettering proclaimed some of the shop’s stock: love potions, sleep potions, herbs and natural remedies, protective charms, crystals. Tarot cards, Fortune telling.

With a quick glance around, Imogen stepped in. A small bell tinkled overhead and she pushed the door back gently. The air was heavy with a mixture of scents, which attracted the nose, but also give you a headache. She took a few deep breaths and listed off the things she could smell: lavender, cloves, aniseed, cinnamon, ginger and incense.

Staying put, she glanced around. The shop itself appeared small, but different curtained doorways seemed to lead off into other sections. There was also a staircase with a staff only sign above it. The place was crammed with bookcases and tables. To the right of her was a short glass counter with an old fashioned sliver till. A black cat with large green eyes was sat next to it, watching her closely.

‘Hi, kitty,’ she said and walked over.

She rubbed the cat’s head and let her hand drop down the silky fur. The cat meowed and began to purr loudly. Imogen laughed and carried on stroking the cat, whilst her eyes darted around. She couldn’t see anyone and there was a weird quietness. Oddly, she felt drawn to the fortune teller’s doorway. It had always been something that had fascinated her, but she’d never been brave enough to have her palm or cards read.

‘Hello. Can I help you?’

Imogen turned at the voice and saw a woman coming down the stairs. The woman was wearing a white gypsy style blouse, black waist corset and black velvet skirt. Her dark hair was pinned up on her head and her face was heavily made up.

‘Ah, I see you’ve meet Ichabod.’

‘Oh, the cat! Yeah,’ Imogen replied, snapping out of her thoughts.

She gave him a final rub and turned back to the woman, who was now sweeping across the floor. Imogen wondered if she was actually a gypsy and then if she was a real witch. She felt her cheeks go red and tried not to stereotype the owner. She looked down into the counter and saw a silver pendent in the shape of a heart with roses on it.

‘Is there anything you are looking for?’ the woman asked.

‘Not really. I was just curious. I walk pass this place all the time and I…don’t know. It just interests me, I guess,’ Imogen said quickly, half losing her words.

‘Most visitors are, but you are most welcome. I’m Gwen.’

‘Imogen. What is that necklace there…the heart and roses one?’

Gwen slide the door open and pulled out the pendent which was attached to a long sliver chain.

‘It’s a locket. You can put dried herbs inside for protection. There’s holes in the back to let the scent through,’ she explained.

Imogen picked it up and looked at in the dim light. The sliver was worn and the roses pattern was going faint. It had an antique look as well as feeling heavy in her hand. She liked it, but the price tag seemed too much. She put it back on the counter.

‘It’s really nice,’ she commented.

Gwen nodded and fondled it, ‘it’s been in here for some time. I think its waiting for the right person. Some objects seem to do that.’

Not sure how to answer, Imogen started petting Ichabod again.

‘Would you like a reading? I’m offering discounts this month,’ Gwen suggested.

Imogen shook her head, ‘I’m good, thanks.’

‘Don’t be shy,’ Gwen giggled and drew a sheet of paper out, ‘the palm reading one is the cheapest. I also do reiki and chakra healings.’

Imogen looked down the list to be polite, yet her eyes were still drawn to the pendant. There was just something about it and the idea of having it seemed to be growing on her. She felt Gwen watching her, so she stared back.

‘How about a deal?’ Gwen said, ‘Buy the locket and I’ll read your palm for free and give you some dried lavender.’

Imogen bit her lip and wanted to ask if business was that bad, but she held back her words and said instead, ‘do you take card?’

‘Yes,’ Gwen replied and took the locket out again alongside a box.

Whilst, Imogen dug up her purse, Gwen placed the locket in its box, wrapped it in tissue paper and placed it inside a paper bag. She also dropped in a small pouch of dried lavender. She tilled up the item and slid the card machine over. Imogen, still feeling unsure, placed her card in and paid.

‘Here you go. Now please follow me.’

Nodded and taking the bag, Imogen trailed behind her and through the curtained doorway of the fortune telling room. A small round, purple cloth covered table sat in the middle with two chairs opposite each other. A chest of drawers was against the back wall and on the floor next to it was a camping stove and a tea pot. It was what she had and had not been expecting at the same time.

Gwen took the chair against the wall forcing Imogen to take the other one. Gwen then held out her right hand and Imogen having read somewhere that the left palm was better, give that hand to Gwen. Then she shut her eyes and tried to stay relaxed. Gwen’s fingers tickled her palm for a few moments and then in a soft voice Gwen began to speak, ‘You’re intelligent and loyal. You could go much further in your education, yet it seems that your heart might lead you away from that…Did you recently break up with someone?’

Imogen opened her eyes and nodded.

‘That’ll turn out to be a good thing. You’re due to meet someone much better around New Year’s Eve. You’ll get far in your career, though it’ll take you awhile to find the right path. Those trials will only make you stronger and more prepared. You good friends will support you. Your fiery temper makes you a little headstrong and though that seems a bad thing, it’ll actually help you. Lastly, it seems you’ll live long.’

Gwen removed her fingers and Imogen pulled back her hand. It felt oddly hot and tingly.

‘See, that wasn’t so bad. Maybe you’ll be brave enough to come back again?’

‘Maybe…thanks,’ Imogen said and collected her things from the floor. She stood up and left the room. Gwen didn’t follow her out. She said goodbye and patted Ichabod, who was still on the counter and then with a last look around, she left the shop.

Cold, clean air embraced her like a friendly hug. She took a few moments to breathe it in and then stepped on to the street. Her head and nose with becoming less stuffy and she felt her shoulders were lighter. Voices called to her and she turned to see her friends waving.