Stocking Up #TwitteringTales

September payday arrived, Kim had worked overtime to have enough money for her shopping spree. At the till, she watched the cashier cashing up everything.

‘That’s a lot of books!’ the cashier said, counting eighteen total.

‘It’s my winter stock pile,’ Kim replied, grinning.

 

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2018/09/10/twittering-tales-101-11-september-2018/ with thanks).

Chain #TwittingTales

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She walked down the hardware shop’s aisle of chains and selected the thickest, heaviest one. She brought some other things too, just so it wouldn’t look suspicious. Back home, she fixed the chain to the metal clips then attached it to her Newfoundland’s collar.  No longer would he been escaping the garden.

 

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2018/07/03/twittering-tales-91-chains-3-july-2018/ with thanks).

Fountains #WeeklyWritingChallenge

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Joy had been fussy all day which had, as far as Mercy was concerned lowered the whole tone of shopping in the city center for holiday clothes. Tried from dealing with the four year old, Mercy decided to finish early and try again when she was alone.

Buying drinks and snacks, Mercy pushed Joy in her pram which was full of things she had brought, across the road to the large patches of grass that made up the ‘gardens’, though really it was just two rectangles of grass divided by a large sunk circle area where there was seating and water fountains.

Mercy found a good spot and give Joy the orange juice. It was a brilliant day; hot and sunny, with a cooling breezy and not a cloud in the sky. Mercy could almost believe that she was no longer in rainy England but in an hotter country. It was busy though and just as the shops had been crowed so was the street. There were people everywhere! The noise was like a constant loud humming.

Joy was fussing again, tugging at the straps holding her in the pram and making straining noises. Her juice forgotten but still clutch in a small hand. She was too big for the pushchair now but her habit of running off meant things had to be this way. Joy was a cute toddler but all ready spoiled by grandparents who had always believed they’d never get a grandchild. Mercy blamed them for the problems Joy often give her.

‘What is it now?’ Mercy asked.

Joy waved her free hand and give a little screech, ‘water!’

Mercy looked and saw that there were children playing in the fountains. Water jets were shooting up at different heights and seemingly at random in what would have been a nice display, if not for the children running about between them. As Mercy watched, she noticed some of the kids were only half clothed; wearing just shorts or underwear, some even had swimming costumes on.

‘No,’ Mercy said firmly, ‘drink your orange juice.’

‘Mama, mama!’ Joy cried and strained more at the straps halting her freedom.

‘Now you stop that,’ Mercy snapped and moved the pram around.

Joy threw the juice bottle away and tried to stand up in the pram.

Ignoring the watching eyes from the people around them, Mercy picked up the bottle, found it half empty and placed it into the pram. Then she put her hands to her daughter’s shoulders and eased her back down.

‘Now, listen, Joy, I said no,’ Mercy spoke in a low voice.

Joy’s face crumpled and fat tears began flowing. An awful wailing sound came out of the small mouth and more heads began turning to look.

Mercy gritted her teeth, getting ready for the rant that was about to happen.

‘You won’t get any sweets.’ Mercy snapped.

Joy screamed loudly and kicked out her legs madly out. Her hands pounded the straps and Mercy had to grab on to pram to stop it from falling over.

‘Fine, fine! You can go and play!’ Mercy half-shouted.

She released her daughter with a few clicks and Joy tumbled out of the pram.

Not dazed at all, Joy forgot her tantrum and stumbled off to the closest water fountain.

Mercy lowered her head, re-arranging stuff in the pram as if nothing had happened.

 

(Inspired by; https://secretkeeper.net/2018/05/21/weekly-writing-challenge-142 with thanks).

Easter Eggs

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I was too old for chocolate Easter eggs. It was so hard resisting though when the shops were full of them. There was too much choice and that’s what put me off; do you go for plain and cheap? Fancy and expensive? Or something totally different like not chocolate but a egg made out of cheese!

I had to buy some for the grandchildren, there were six of them now. It wouldn’t be right them coming over and granny not having had a visit from the Bunny. It was always better to go for the Easter eggs that were cheapest choice or on a good deal. I got them last minute as I always did so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat them myself! This year, I went with a deal; three eggs for five pounds. They were good large ones too!

And I might have brought one for me….Well, you need to treat yourself more often when you are almost ninety!

The Grotto (Part 3)

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We walked back down the queue which was full of chatting children and parents. Willow hugged the present as if she was never going to let it go. I really hoped there was a unicorn inside of there. Glad that was over, I realised I needed the bathroom and a drink.

‘Hey, how’d meeting the Big Man go?’ the male elf said loudly.

I stopped and grabbed my niece’s arm as he suddenly stood before us all green and bells tinkling. There was a huge grin on his face and he was just too happy. He reminded me of the Grinch after he’d stolen everything.

‘It’s fine thanks,’ I muttered.

‘I got a present,’ Willow said proudly and showed him the box.

‘Wow, that’s just great! You must have been good this year then!’ the elf said in fake shock.

‘I’ve been good! Can I have a present?’ a little boy’s voice shouted from the queue.

The elf turned and replied, ‘of course you can!’

We slipped past him and hurried away into the crowd. I’d had enough of this. Heading into the toilets, there was another queue to join but at least it wasn’t as long. I sighed and lent against the wall. Feeling tried and fed up of all these people. I shut my eyes but still the sounds came. A baby was crying loudly behind a closed door, a child was singing Jingle Bells, a young couple were having an argument and there was a constant chatter of other voices.

I felt Willow tug on my coat and I looked down at her.

‘That elf was a bit weird, wasn’t he?’ Willow asked.

‘He was just really happy, that’s all. It’s how they are, I guess…and I really needed the loo,’ I added.

‘Auntie Angel, tell me the truth, is Santa real?’

I rolled my eyes at her use of my name. God, I hated it with a passion. Like how people hate the taste of fish or the sight of a spider or the same Christmas song on repeat. And how I was meant to answer her question? I didn’t want to be the one to spoil Christmas but I hated to lie.

‘What did Santa say?’ I asked instead.

‘If I believed in him then he was real,’ Willow replied slowly.

‘Do you believe in fairies and unicorns and magic?’

‘Yes, I do! but Santa is just different…somehow.’

‘He’s more magical then the rest?’ I suggested as we become the head of the queue.

Willow shrugged and studied the colorful wrapping on the present.

After we’d been to the toilets, we went to a coffee shop, got drinks and small cakes then we walked to the bus stop. I avoided going anywhere near the Santa’s Grotto which meant we went the back way out of the shopping outlet and had to go around. Willow was quiet for the rest of the time, lost in her thoughts.

The bus was busy and I had to stand. A kind, older lady moved her shopping so Willow could have the seat next to her. I placed the bags at Willow’s feet and hung on tight. The bus driver must have been running late as he zoomed off and raced the traffic. The bus smelt like sweaty bodies, dirty water and oil. People were trying to keep to themselves with headphones, newspapers and phones whilst a few chattered about this person or that present or how they were tried of Christmas already!

‘Have you been to see Santa today? the older lady asked.

Willow nodded.

‘And that’s a present from him? You must have have been good girl then,’ she added.

Willow smiled a little and with a quick glance at me, said to the lady, ‘yes.’

‘Your sister’s so nice to take you shopping isn’t she? Did you buy a present for your mum?’

I pulled a face but held the words back in. I was too use to people guessing the relationship between us now. At least no one had called me Willow’s mum today! That’s always the worse, especially when you then work out the age difference.

‘My Auntie,’ Willow corrected, ‘she took me shopping for my family. We are best friends and she’s far more fun then my parents or baby brother.’

‘I bet she is!’ the lady said and smiled more brightly at me. ‘Are you going to save your present till Christmas day?’

‘Maybe…Do you believe in Santa?’ Willow asked.

‘Willow!’ I snapped.

‘It’s fine,’ the lady waved away, ‘yes I do believe still. It’s hard with all this technology and growing up so fast now. But Santa’s out there still, a symbol of hope and happiness for anyone who keeps believing.’

‘I like that,’ Willow said then under her breath, ‘but I’m still not any closer to the truth!’

The rest of the bus journey was normal and we got off before the lady did. We said good bye and merry Christmas then found ourselves stepping into a sleet storm. As the doors closed the bus pulled away, we hurried up the street we both lived on. My older brother’s house was first and the house I currently shared with my grandparents was close to the end of the street. Willow ran up the pathway and rang the doorbell. I had a key somewhere…

The door opened and we both rushed in.

‘It’s almost snowing!’ Willow cried to her dad.

‘It’s really meant to start tonight,’ her dad added, ‘what’s that? a present for me?’

‘No! It’s from Santa!’

‘Another one?’

Willow giggled and ran off to find her mum without taking anything but her boots off.

I looked at my brother, we were so alike we could still be mistake for twins at a distance. Same brown hair and brown eyes, same slightly over weight bodies, though he looked better then I did at the moment. There was four years between us but we’d been through everything together.

‘Hi Alex,’ I said, ‘it was hard to say no to her! but at least all the present buying is done now.’

‘Thanks, Angel. She’s really attached to you,’ he replied.

‘I should go…’

He pulled me into a hug then we said our goodbyes.

To Be Continued…

The Grotto (Part 2)

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We walked through a plastic curtain that was meant to be dripping icicles and entered the igloo. There was a thick patterned rug on the floor and a huge red plush throne which Santa was sat upon. There was a female elf at his side with a fake book holding loose papers. I remembered that we had been asked Willow’s name soon after we had joined the queue.

Santa looked like anyone you’d find in other shopping centres and events. He was tall and fat – though his stomach was probably padded out. His red suit was bright and the buttons shining. He had a huge white beard that looked almost real but really couldn’t be and matching long white hair. The face peering out from all of that was wrinkled and brushed with make up. Santa looked tried, but he was hiding it well behind that smile and twinkling blue eyes.

‘And who do we have here?’ Santa asked in a deep, jolly voice.

Willow walked over to him, her head and shoulders high, determined to gather more evidence for her mission. I hung back, hoping that she didn’t embarrass me.

‘Ah, Willow!’ Santa said with quick glance at the elf’s open book.

Willow stopped by his massive black boots and as if she was a toddler, Santa lifted her up and on to his knee. I had a flash thought about wondering how okay that was now a days. Willow seemed happy enough.

‘Have you been a good girl this year?’ Santa asked.

Willow nodded, ‘yes,’ she added.

The elf slide the book further down, allowing Santa to look at the pages.

‘Ah, I can see from the good list you have been! What would you like for Christmas?’ Santa asked.

‘A unicorn,’ Willow said quickly, ‘with a rainbow mane and tale, a golden horn and she has to be pink.’

Santa chuckled before saying, ‘I should be able to do that for you.’

‘Thank you,’ Willow replied then, ‘Can I ask you a few questions? It’s for a report at school.’

Santa looked a little worried and the elf’s big smile turned into a frown.

‘Go on,’ Santa said slowly, some of the jolliness gone from his voice.

‘How are you related to the real Santa? And don’t say you are ’cause I know that’s not true as the real Santa is far too busy right now.’

Santa looked thoughtful and in a whisper said, ‘I’m his cousin.’

‘Santa has a LOT of cousins,’ Willow mused.

‘He sure does but we must keep it a secret.’ Santa winked.

‘Are these elves real or just cousins too?’ Willow questioned.

‘Cousins. All the elves are needed at the moment to make all the toys.’

The elf shot me a look then give a small side nod to Willow. A clean sign she wanted me to remove my niece. I looked away, pretending I’d not seen and forcused on the glitter covered wall next to me as if I thought it was real ice. We had waited so long for this and I wasn’t about to drag Willow away…Unless she got too embarrassing.

‘But do know Santa right?’ Willow carried on talking.

‘Of course! And I’ll tell him you were asking about him,’ Santa replied.

‘What about the reindeer? Do they really fly by magic? Why doesn’t Santa get a motor, like on a speed boat?’

‘The reindeer do fly by magic dust but there is also a motor. It helps to get the sled around faster. That’s why it’s very hard to spot.’

‘What happens if things go wrong?’ Willow pressed.

The elf give a small cough and Santa glanced at her, she was tapping her empty wrist.

‘Santa has many back up plans if anything goes wrong. But everything is fully tested, so nothing ever does. Is that all? There are lots of other children waiting to see me,’ Santa explained.

Willow looked across at me then back up at Santa, ‘I guess….I’m still not closer to the truth though.’

‘The truth?’ Santa echoed.

‘Yes,’ Willow uttered as she swung her legs, ready to get down.

‘You want to know if Santa is really real don’t you?’ Santa voiced.

Willow looked startled at him and I bit my lip. It was so time to leave.

‘If you believe,’ Santa begin, ‘then he is real inside of your heart.’

Willow give a nod and slide off his knee.

‘Oh, don’t forget your present!’ the elf called and she handed Willow a gift wrapped in girly unicorn paper.

‘Is it a unicorn?’ Willow asked excitedly.

Santa laughed loudly and replied, ‘you’ll have to open it and see!’

‘Thanks for coming,’ the elf added.

Willow skipped over to me, a huge grin on her face. She showed me her present, her finger itching to open it.

‘We’ll open it at home,’ I told her.

Saying goodbye to Santa and his elf helper, we left the grotto.

To Be Continued…

The Grotto (Part 1)

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The queue to see Santa at the small shopping outlet was far too long but my eight year old niece, Willow, had really wanted to see him. So, after we had eaten lunch and done some Christmas shopping, we had joined the hour wait behind the red ropes.

‘Haven’t you seen Santa four times already?’ I asked her.

Willow give me a hard stare, her arms folded across her chest and replied, ‘yes, but I’m on a mission.’

I couldn’t help but smile. She was trying to look serious but it didn’t work with the cuteness of the grandma made knitted rainbow bobble hat and bright pink puff coat with unicorns on it.

‘What kind of mission?’ I asked.

‘To prove he’s real,’ Willow said in a low voice.

I lent down to hear her better as she explained, ‘kids in my class say he’s not real and it’s their parents who buy all the presents. I though want to prove he’s real and I can only do that by talking to as many ‘Santas’ as possible.’

I nodded then said, ‘but you know all the Santas are like the real Santa’s relatives, right? The real Santa is far too busy right now.’

Willow pressed her lips together and puffed out her cheeks, ‘I know.’

The queue moved a little and a mother ahead of us stopped a passing male elf to ask how long it would be.

‘It won’t be much longer now!’ the elf cheerily replied, ‘and have you been good children this year?’

I turned to Willow who was watching intently. The elf was too tall and it looked like the green trousers, jacket and hat were far too small for him. He was clean shaven and he had short blond hair. He was wearing fake pointy ear tips, there was a bell on the end of of his hat and also atop each of his green pointy shoes. He had red blush circles on his cheeks too and though it was hard to tell his age, he couldn’t have been more then twenty-six – close to my own age. Actually, if wasn’t dressed like he was I would have found him attractive!

He walked down the line, chatting to adults and kids then he reached us.

‘I think my auntie likes you!’ Willow spoke out.

‘Oi!’ I snapped and give her pink fluffy lined hood a tug.

Willow giggled and beamed at me as I felt my cheeks go red.

‘This is your aunt? Why I thought you were sisters!’ the elf said cheekily.

‘Are you a real elf?’ Willow asked.

‘Of course I am! Fresh from the North Pole! Only the best elves get to travel with Santa.’

‘How much longer is it going to be?’ I asked.

‘Shouldn’t be-‘

‘No,’ I cut him off, ‘the real time. We have a bus to catch.’

Willow look at me in shock but I tugged her hood again to stop her from speaking.

‘Oh….erm….an hour or so. He’s really popular today! I’m sure you could catch another bus….’ the elf trailed with a wide grin, ‘he’s worth the wait!’ he winked at Willow then walked off.

‘Meanie!’ Willow snarled, ‘I’m not leaving till I see him!’

She crossed her arms and turned away from me, nose in the air.

I signed and looked around. The shopping outlet shone and glittered with lights and sparkly decorations. Christmas music was playing in the background but the noise of people made it hard to only make out a few louder notes. The window displays of the near by shops were trying their hardest to compete with one another and also draw customers into spend lots of money. With it being the third Saturday to Christmas, a lot of people were doing just that.

Looking back at the Santa’s Grotto which was shaped like a large igloo covered in glitter surrounded by presents and models of penguins, bears and reindeer, I just couldn’t bring myself to drag Willow out of the queue and leave. So, we waited an hour and twenty minutes watching the shoppers and the elves until we were next.

There were two female elves at the front, one was taking money and the other photographs. They looked like twins with their green costumes, blonde hair, blue eyes and too much make up.

‘It’s five pounds to see Santa and another five if you want your photo taken with him,’ the first elf explained.

I glanced at Willow and she responded, ‘just Santa, please.’

‘Are you sure, sweetie?’ the second elf asked, swaying the large camera around her neck.

‘Yes,’ Willow and I said together.

I handed over the note from my purse and lead Willow up the cotton wool pathway. The family that had been before us came out and we went in.

To Be Continued….

A Little Blood (Part 1)

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It was a week to go and the shops were packed with Halloween stuff. I breathed in deeply trying to keep my excitement down. This was my Heaven! I pushed the trolley over to the shelves, a small smile creeping on my face. I reached out for the first thing; a gold pot pumpkin then a little gasp stopped my hand.

I looked down at my five month old daughter, Grace, who was still in her car seat in the special holder on top of the trolley. She was asleep, bundled in a pink blanket with a unicorn at one corner. The lullaby of the drive here had caused her to doze off. I glanced to my right side and saw my five year old son, Harry, dashing away.

He went over to the children’s costumes a bit further down and came to a stop. He slowly reached upwards with both hands then turned to me. My love for Halloween and Gothic things was rubbing off on him.

‘Mummy! I want to be a vampire!’ he shouted.

‘A vampire?’ I muttered as I re-collected myself.

‘Yep! That one!’ he added.

I looked to where he was pointing at and saw a full vampire costume hung up opposite him. There was a pair of black trousers, a white shirt, a white ruffle tie, a dark red waist coat with brass buttons, a pointy cross medallion on bright red ribbon and a huge black cape lined the same dusky red as the waist coat.

Harry reached up for it but couldn’t get it down. I moved the trolley around him and pulled the costume down. I  checked the price tag; twenty pounds then looked at the clothes in detail as Harry jumped up and down.

‘Please, Mummy! I really want it!’ he gush.

‘This one won’t fit you. It’s too small,’ I pointed at the age on the hanger.

Though it said four to five year olds, Harry was tall for his age and filling out fast. He was easily a size or two up.

He pulled a face and made his hands into fists. He looked like he was about to throw a tantrum but he was just angry. He turned away, his longish, black hair swinging and looked at all the other costumes. His eyes moved from the zombie, skeleton and pirate to the girls selection; witches, female vampires and bat.

I slipped the vampire costume back and looked through the other sizes. I selected the seven to eight age and pulled it off, I showed it him, pressing it against me as if I was trying it on.

‘This one?’ I asked to get his attention.

He turned his head then his body and let out a happy cry, ‘yes! Mummy!’

‘Okay,’ I added with a smile and put it in the trolley, ‘now what can your sister be?’

Harry hurried to the baby and toddler section and began looking through the clothes. I joined him, avoiding a younger man and his trolley who was speeding past. There were less costumes to pick from and more actual baby clothes decorated with Halloween themes.

‘These are so cute,’ I spoke out.

I reached for a little grey t-shirt that had a imagine of a bat on it with and block letters that read Let’s hang out! I picked the right size for her and put it in the trolley. Next there was a white baby gro with a cream coloured ghost and the word Boo on the front. I put that one in too.

‘A pumpkin!’ Harry cried and pulled a bright orange body suit with a green leaf shape topped hat off the rack.

I pushed the trolley forward and out, giving us some more space. Harry raised the suit to me and I took it off him. There was a Jack O’ Lantern face on the front which looked more friendly then scary. I checked the size; six to eight months.

‘Yeah, this looks good. Nice choice!’ I praised him and put the outfit in the trolley.

We looked at the rest of the Halloween things and got Harry some glow in the dark fangs and a makeup kit to turn him into a full vampire. Some packets of sweets and a few decorative pieces then we carried on shopping.

 

To Be Continued…

Toffee Apple Tasting

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There were a few things that sum up autumn perfectly and one of them is toffee apples. As you do the weekly shop and pick up the normal fruit and veg, you spot the boxes in the last section of the large open fridge. Strolling over, you see sticks coming out of red glossy apples and next to them are chocolate covered sprinkle apples.

Your mouth starts to water as you remember how sweet they taste. You select a few, knowing that next week they might not have any in. Then you carry on with your shopping list but you can’t wait to get home now. At the till, you hurry through packing and paying, keeping up a light chat with the small woman scanning your shopping.

You leave, go to the car and place everything inside then you drive slowly home because the rain is heavy and the wind gale force. When you get back, you see your family is still out. Your husband has taken the kids to a birthday party at a soft play centre. You unpack and twice have to draw yourself away from grabbing a toffee apple.

Once everything is sorted, you chose one of the bright red apples and curl up on the sofa with it. Enjoying the sound of the weather outside, you don’t turn the TV or radio on. You unwrap the treat, the plastic coat so loud as you twist it off. You breath deeply, smelling the crisp apple and sweet, sweet treacle toffee.

You turn the stick slowly, marvelling at the perfect, thick toffee and wondering how did they get it so good. Your own attempts at making toffee apples drifts into you mind, but you shake them away now isn’t the time to reflect on your failures. You bring the apple to your lips and began nibbling at the lip of toffee on top.

A blast of sticky sugar hits your tongue, you shut your eyes and moan softly in pleasure. You nibble more, feeling like you can’t get enough now you’ve started. Then you hit the rock hard toffee and cold apple layers. You go more slowly, careful of your teeth. When you finally bit into the apple, the sweet and softness of it goes perfectly with the toffee as if they were made for each other.

You carry on eating, rolling in the happy feelings, until all the toffee is gone and you are almost at the core of the apple. Saddness creep in under the sugar rush. You wish there was more… You lick your lips, feeling sticky as you look at the apple core.

The sound of car pulling up on the driveway shakes you out of the pleasure. You hear car door and voices; your family is home. Spring up from the sofa, you put the apple core, stick and plastic wrap in the bin and wash your face.

The front door opens and you fight to keep down the sugar rush as you greet your family. They must never know.

Glitter #fridayfictoneers

 

Placing the large, sliver glittery jar on the window sill, Ola stood back to admire it. She had loved how in the shop the jar had glowed in the sunlight as if fireflies where inside it. Now as the sun hit it again, light danced across her walls like a disco ball.

Slightly moving the gold candlestick that had been her great-grandma’s, till it was in a better position to catch the light bouncing off the jar, Ola’s couldn’t help but think what the candlestick represented. Originally, one of a pair, it had survived the Second World War and the long journey out of Germany to Sweden. It was hope and freedom in one as well as a piece of her family’s history.

Finally happy, Ola moved away and went off to unpack the rest of her shopping. Afterwards, she got a late lunch and settled in the living room to watch TV. A loud tapping on a window caused her to pause. Glass of water and plate of food still in hand, she looked around. The tapping came again.

Maybe, it was someone at the door? Placing things down, she walked over and opened the cottage’s small door. There was no one there. Confused, she closed the door and went to the back one but there was no one their either. Wondering what was going on, she went from window to window and peered out.

The lane and rolling countryside looked like it always did at the height of summer; trees in full green leave, flowers in their bright colours, the fields in patchworks of greens and yellows against the bright blue sky. The other cottages were covered in climbing flowers and plants underneath their whitewash walls and thatched roofs added to that picture perfect look.

There didn’t seem to be anyone around. Ola went back to her lunch but as soon as she’d sat down the tapping started up again. Frowning, she arose and went quickly to both doors. Peering out of the windows, she saw there was no one there. Perhaps, it was children playing about? Going back, she began her lunch, ignoring the tapping when it started up again.

Finally though, she’d had enough. Getting up and heading in the direction of the tapping which seemed to be coming from the landing window where she had placed the glittering jar, Ola stood for a few moments. Then she saw it. A huge black and white magpie was flying at the window and tapping on the glass.

Ola laughed. The bird was attracted to the jar! The sunlight sparkling off the surface must have caught it’s attention. She watched for a few more moments as the magpie kept trying to get at the jar, then not sure what else to do, Ola rolled the blind down. The jar and window sill fell dark. Ola felt a wave of unhappiness but as she listened the magpie’s tapping slowed then stopped.

Ola pulled the blind halfway up. Thinking that if there wasn’t so much light on the jar then the magpie might stay away. It was a shame not to let the jar glow as it should. Stepping back, she stood by the window for a few minutes. Admiring the movement of the light on the jar, candlestick and walls. The magpie didn’t come back.

(Inspired from: https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/07/12/14-july-2017/ with thanks)