Shelter

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It was the only place he could find to get out of the rain. Huddling into a corner, he made himself as warm and comfy as possible. He had already checked out the place and made sure no one else was in residence. The corner he had picked was also the best one. It was a large dry spot and he had clear views of the two doorways into the house.

He looked up and watched the rain falling in. The roof had long ago tumbled in, though the attic and floor above, creating a massive hole in the middle of the house. There were bits of roof tile, bricks, plaster and rubbish scattered around. He hadn’t seen any furniture and guessed the house had been well cleared out over the years.

He rested his head down and listened to the patter of the rain. Oddly he felt like an intruder. This had been someone’s home once. A place of love and safety. It had seemed nice too, a good place to bring up a family. Where had they gone though? What had made them move out?

Trying to dispel those thoughts- what did he care?- He settled for sleep. He began counting sheep jumping over a fence as was habit. He pictured each sheep differently as an individual as his father had taught him. Something about how that helps you fall asleep better.

With the lullaby of the rain, he fell asleep and dreamed of his childhood which he hadn’t thought about in years.

Hygge #atozchallenge

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Hygge; being so cosiness and comfortable that you feel content.

The fire crackled and popped as it hungrily consumed the wood. The yellow and orange flames licked around the inside of the brick fireplace, spreading warmth around the living room.

Carol sank into her favourite chair, finally able to rest after the busy day she’d had. Putting her feet up, she made sure she could reach the cup of tea and the box of chocolates on the side table.

Her little dog, still slightly wet and now tried from his walk, jumped on to her lap and settled down. She stroked his silky coat automatically as she looked into the fire.

There was a strong possibility that this was the last time in a good few months that she’d now lit the fire. Every day felt more like spring and it was getting too warm for cosy nights in like this.

Carol felt a pang. She loved the fire and it would be hard to not relight it till the middle of autumn. Of course, there might be cooler and wet days which would call for extra warmth, but they were always far apart.

‘The fire just makes everything better,’ Carol uttered.

Her little dog made a soft yipping sound.

Carol sank further into her chair, enjoying the feeling of being content.

After a few minutes, her mind picked up that thought thread again and she said aloud, ‘all have to surround myself with other things that bring the same feelings. Though nothing can compare to the warmth and light of a fire.’

Starting to make a list in her head of other cosy things, Carol started to doze off. Her little dog was snoring and the fire was making a nice lullaby now. It was all she need to fall asleep to.

Bedgasm #atozchallenge

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Bedgasm: a feeling of euphoria experienced when climbing into bed at the end of a long day.

Finally, I could go to bed! Getting under the duvet and feeling the soft fleece bedding snuggling me was like receiving a hug off a giant teddy bear. I sighed deeply and rested my head against the pillow, feeling totally content.

I felt the waves of sleep and I relaxed into them. For the first time in months, I knew sleep would come quickly and it would be restful. I let everything go, even though the excitement over my first novel being published was hard to let go of!

The road had been long and today, launch day! had been even longer, but now it was time to let everything go. Tomorrow was going to be a fresh start and I needed to be ready to face it. That wasn’t going to be too hard though.

The warmth of the bed was helping to bring sleep faster and I was on that threshold of slipping in. Still though, I clung to the happiness of being able to completely relax. It was a long time since I last felt like this.

Dear Diary #31

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Dear Diary,

Work has been so stressful these last few weeks. I’m so in need of a holiday but no luck! My hours have changed, so they are longer now and due to there still be staff shortages, no one can really have time off. Of course, if I did ask for a few days or a week off I would get it, though my supervisor might not like it!

I’m meant to be training like four volunteers to do my job which would be really useful, but none of them turned up this week. Hopefully, they might next week. I don’t mind training as it means less work for me but it just takes time away from other things.

Everyone thinks being on reception is a cushy job but it’s not! You get rushed off your feet answering the phone and greeting visitors. I don’t mind answering and sending emails though because at least you have longer to deal with them. I’ve always been a happy friendly person, but work expects you to be like that all the time!

My face feels numb from smiling and I’m so weary of being cheerful even when I totally don’t feel like it.

I shouldn’t complain. I like my job and the money is great, but sometimes it just gets too much. I think everyone feels like that sometimes. We get grind down like wood in a sanding machine. Everyday we lose more of ourselves and we can never get it back.

I’ve been reading too many morbid books!

I need to get some more sleep too. That would really help. Maybe trying to get sometime off work wouldn’t be that bad an idea.

 

Dream Time

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He couldn’t remember anything about the dream when he woke and yet the impression of it lingered still.

Mug

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He noticed the mug in the frosted over window and decided to go in. The front and back doors were locked and boarded over with thick wood. However, a broken window allowed him access. He put his rucksack and sleeping bag through first. Then being careful not to snag any of his clothes, he squeezed in and found himself in a kitchen.

There was very little left. Just a few cupboards and the sink. He tried the light switch, but found the power to be off. Next he tried the sink taps. No water came out which meant there was none or it was frozen in the pipes.

Collecting his rucksack and sleeping bag, he decided to see the rest of the house. Every room was almost empty. There were a couple chairs knocking about, scraps of newspapers, a few books and empty cans. The walls were blank and the floors bare. The abandoned house felt colder then it did outside.

He went back to the kitchen after his wander. Putting his stuff down again, he decided it was better then nothing. He went to the window and looking out the dirty glass, he saw it was snowing. The flakes were melting just as fast as they were falling though. The wind seemed to be picking up though and the sky was already darkening.

Looking around the kitchen, he found a cupboard door that had come off and was resting on the floor. Picking it up, he used it to cover the broken window and that helped lessen the draft from outside a bit.

Then even though he didn’t really want to, he got his sleeping bag out and set it in the far corner of the kitchen. The window was further down, but still close if anyone else decided to come in. He got in the sleeping bag still wearing his shoes and coat. He lent against the wall and crossed his arms over his chest.

Looking at the mug on the other window sill above the sink, he wonder who had left it there. The last owner of the house? A builder? The new owner who’d stripped the place then maybe ran out of money to carry on? Perhaps, it had even been another person like him?

A homeless cast out. Forgotten by everyone, seemingly invisible in many places and surviving however they could. Until, God decided the struggling was over and called them back.

Trying to keep warm, he changed his mind into getting some sleep. Letting the wind howling be his lullaby, he dozed fitfully, never falling completely into the dream realm. It was a sad habit he had gotten into over the years. Too many times people had robbed what little he had or kicked him whilst he slept in doorways and upon street corners. Even though the abandon house should have been safe, he didn’t trust it.

The wind continued to howl outside, sending the snow flying thickly. Night came, a seemingly impenetrable darkness. The only sounds to be heard were the wind and the house creaking and moaning.

He listened to those noises as he lay awake. There was nothing unusual about them and he was too old to believe in ghosts. He settled onto the floor, using his rucksack as a lumpy pillow. He rested, trying not to fall asleep. However, days of walking and not eating had taken it’s toll. He fought actual sleep off for has long as he could, but give in without fully knowing.

When he next awoke, he was warm but still cold. Sitting up, he looked around then turned his face to the window. It was lighter out there now, but still looked like night time. He got out of his sleeping bag, regretting it, but knowing he had too. Going to the window, he looked out and saw it was daytime. The snow had stopped falling too and it was time he moved on again.

 

The Bear

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Deep inside the cave the bear slept winter away. He dreamed of spring when the snow would melt, the grass would be green and the air warm. He splashed through the great river chasing salmon and searching for fruits. He meet other bears, fought them and found a mate. He had father cubs, but he’d never met any of them. He roamed the forest, searching for more food and avoiding the humans. Then he felt the season’s change and knew it was time to get ready for the long sleep. The dream slipped away and the bear dreamt of other things deep within his cave.

Dear Diary #27

Dear Diary,

It’s raining heavily and it’s really windy too. It sounds like a storm is happening outside and I wonder if there’ll be lightening and thunder. I might not see it though as I’m currently sat in my sanctuary tepee. The sound of the weather’s making me feel strangely calm, which is useful after the day I’ve had. Nothing has gone right today, diary. I was meant to be brave and go outside and met my friends for a day out shopping.

I got up and ready. I put on wool tights, my black wool skirt and my new fluffy blue jumper. Then I brushed my hair loose and put on make up! I was so happy and bouncing to go. I left way too early. Maybe that was apart of the problem. The bus was late and packed and I was soaking wet. My umbrella’s useless in this kind of weather!

Only a few minutes into the bus ride, I felt the edges of the first wave. People were too close and touching me and I didn’t want them too. The engine was vibrating under my feet so loud and my stomach went all wobbly. I shut my eyes and tried hard to fade into my music. I told myself that it was just nerves about seeing everyone again. I thought about what I’d buy from the shops, what we’d eat and talk about.

The wobbles settled a little, but I could still feel this panic growing with me. When we arrived, the bus emptied fast and I was caught in this tide pool of stampeding bodies. I knew I had to break out because I was being taken in the wrong direction. So, I scuttled to the side and pressed myself into the corner of the bus station. I was like a crab, desperate to avoid what was the incoming tide.

Why I’m thinking so much about the sea and beach today? Perhaps, because I know that helps. Anyway, so I get out of the bus station and on the street. It’s still rain and there are just people with umbrellas everywhere. I decided not to put mine up and just walk quickly to the shopping center. I ignore the people and just focus on where I’m going. That’s always a good technique to use. Then though, whilst I’m waiting for the light to change, someone bumps into the back of me.

I never saw his or her face. They were gone fast, over the road and around the coming cars. Of course, they couldn’t know how this simple act would effect me, but suddenly I felt like the bubble had burst. I become aware of all the people around me. The press of bodies as the crowd waited to cross over, office workers smoking outside their building, the flow of people across the street. I smelt car fumes, cooking food, the dirt of the city center. I felt the cold rain more sharply on my skin, the wind wrapping around my legs and touching my hair.

I couldn’t breath. I couldn’t move. Tears were appearing in the corner of my vision. The feeling of being gripped grew and I felt the urge to run. It wasn’t safe here. There were too many people, too much going on, it was too loud and I needed, NEEDED to be away from here!

The light changed, people crossed and no one noticed me still standing there. I felt them bumping into me with elbows, bags, bellies, whatever, as they all past me by and went on in their own worlds. A car horn blared. I panicked and ran across both sections of the road, not even looking. I think I hit someone with my bag or my hand, but then I was racing to the side door of the shopping center.

I felt better once I was inside. I took a few deep breaths and really calmed myself down. I must have looked like a victim of some kind of attack though. I was standing with my back pressed to the wall, clutching my handbag and umbrella, looking all panicky. Once again though, no one from the passing people stopped even though I must have met eyes with a few of them.

I went to the bookshop. It was the perfect place, even though it was busy. I went into the one section that is always empty- history and art. I placed my stuff down, grabbed the nearest book and sat in a small over stuffed square chair. I took my dripping coat off and ran my hands over the book cover. It felt smooth and cold. Weird how I can recall such things when I come out of an anxiety attack.

I flipped through the pages of the book. It was about Greek art. I looked at the photographs and read the captions. I felt calm. Normal. It was like nothing had just happened to me. After awhile, I got my phone out and made connect with my friends. They came and met me in the shop. There was seven of us all together; me, Bridget, her boyfriend Ryan, Connie, Alex, Tom and his girlfriend Molly.

It felt like a party! Even though there were so many of us, I felt okay because I knew them all. We went for some lunch and I had a really nice jacket potato, cheese and salad. I felt way better after that and the giggly chatter of the girls was pleasing. We did some shopping, well it was more like window shopping and drifting, but it was fun and the conversations were flowing.

Then though, something happened. We were walking down market street. There were people everyone walking or standing in half circle shapes to look at the street entertainers. We were just passing a religious group who were yelling about human sins and God’s wrath, when I felt it. I got this terrible feeling, like something bad was going to happen. I stopped walking and just stood there.

A part of me was totally aware that I should just keep walking, but I couldn’t move. I was struggling to breath and I felt like crying. One of my friends came back to me, I can’t remember who and they were asking if I was okay. I shook my head and looked at the floor. I told myself I was being silly! This was stupid! Why was this happening? Nothing was going to happen. There was no danger. But in that moment it was so real to me that there was nothing else I can do.

More friends came over. I can’t remember what they said, but then Tom had taken my hand was leading me away from everything. We went into a empty shop. A vintage clothes shop were some strange wind chime music was playing and the scent of incense hung heavy in the air. I took deep breaths. My face was wet and I was crying softly. Someone put a tissue in my hand and I felt Tom rubbing my back and saying it was all okay now.

The attack past. I felt so embarrassed. I wiped my face and now that I could think clearly again I thought of something to tell my friends which would make sense. But I couldn’t describe what had happened. I knew it had been real in that moment, but it for everyone else hadn’t actually been real. I was like I had seen a ghost and was trying to declare it. No one was going to believe me.

Tom asked if I was feeling better. I said I was, but needed a drink. Then I told everyone I was sorry and I didn’t know what happened back there and it was silly. They were concerned, but took it well. We walked out of the shop and went to a cafe. I felt better after, but then I decided to go home.

We said goodbye at the bus stop and I left them all to carry on shopping. I did wish I’d stayed though, but to be honest I didn’t want to face their questions and also another attack was too likely. I got home and got sorted. I had a hot bath. God, I needed one after all that being cold and wet. I felt better again, but I still had a niggly feeling.

I can’t help but wonder what my friends thought of it all. I texted Bridget and spoke to her a little. She said it was fine and everyone knew I’d had a panic attack. It was probably those religious zealots, she said. What they were saying about the earth burning and everyone going to hell, ‘my gran is always getting upset by that kind of thing,’ Bridget had added. I also texted Tom and thanked him. He said it was okay, his younger sister also has anxiety and he understood.

Reading that did help. Perhaps, I do feel a bit better now. I’m sure I just heard thunder…Maybe it was a plane. Hard to tell in here. I should get out anyway and go to bed. Tomorrow is another day and I promise to try harder. It’s not silly either. It is a real thing, but it’ll pass with time. I just got to take it easy.

Here We Stand (Part 3)

Religious Statue in Greyscale Photo

I had a tent but there was nowhere safe to put it up. Plus, if I had to escape it’d get left behind. I stopped in front of the large window and looked up. The drizzle was falling against a still light evening sky. There was still time for me to go and camp in the woods.

The effort of popping up my two-men tent was too much through. I choice the dry-ish corner next to the blocked up door and began nudging around the rubble with my boots. It was a surprisingly deep pile of wood and plaster. I slipped off my hiking bag and could almost hear my back and shoulders begging me not to but it back on again.

I cleared a wide space on the floor. The work using the rest of my energy to do so. Juggling the glow stick so I could see in growing darkness, from my bag, I took out a sleeping mat, sleeping bag, my water bottle and a zip lock bag of dried fruit. I sat down and rested my head against the cold wall of the church. It was the first time in about six hours that I had sat down.

I sipped some of the nearly clear water that I’d gathered from a trickle of a steam in the woods. Then ate a handful of the dried fruit by putting each piece into my mouth and chewing as many times as I could. Lastly, I sipped some more water and put my stuff away. I settled down, keeping all my clothes on and my hiking bag close to my side.I threw the unzipped sleeping bag over my lower body and shuffled down. I put my hands behind my head and rested against the wall again.

In the background, I could hear the drip drip of the water from the sink. What sounded like an owl screeched and a dog started barking. I put the glow stick under my bag which left me in darkness but meant I couldn’t be so easily seen if someone walked in. Shutting my eyes, I tried to rest. I knew sleep wouldn’t come, my mind was still on alert even though the rest of me was crying out for a solid night’s sleep. I tried to think about other things, especially mapping out the town I was now in.

The dozing came over me in fits. I would fall into a light sleep than jerk awake. Each time, my eyes would snap open and I’d be transfixed with finding the danger that had to be near by. I listened carefully each time, but could hear nothing other the normal night sounds. Sometimes, I would watch the rain falling in through the holes in the roof or coming in through the windows. It seemed to grew heavier each time and everything but my spot became wet.

Waking for the final time, I watched light creeping into the church like a beggar. The rain had stopped for the moment to let dawn in, but drops were still falling. I stretched out, feeling just as exhausted as when I had lay down. My body creaked like an old man’s and for a few minutes I stared up at the ceiling. There was nothing special about it. Not like I had seen in some other churches were the ceiling was nicely boned and sometimes painted.

Even though I was running on little food, water and sleep, my body still demand a normal release. I gathered my things; folding my sleeping bag and sleeping mat up and into my hiking bag. Then I spent a few moments moving some of the rubble back to hide my tracks. the now useless glow stick I hid at the bottom. I picked up my bag and tried to get it on my back, but my arms were too stiff and I couldn’t left it.

I tried again, despite my protesting back and shoulders. Heaving the hiking bag on, I walked like a hunchback to the other side of the altar. The spiral staircase was dark, but I couldn’t waste another light source. I felt my way down, listening to my bag scrapping the walls. Reaching the bottom, I felt out the bathroom and did what I had to do. Strangely the toilet still flushed.

I turned the tap on and washed my hands in what I guessed to be still iron red water. I washed my mouth out then drink a few handfuls. It tasted as it had done yesterday, earthy and rotten, but still sweet. I turned the tap off and wiped my mouth. Walking sideways out I came to a sudden stop as I hear voices above me.

Family Secrets (Part 4)

Pedestrian, Walking, Shadow, Night, Evening, Street

Em’s eyes scanned over the objects in the steam trunk. There was a heavy mix of papers, thin books, photos, objects wrapped in newspaper and letters. Instead of looking through them, Em stood up and ran her hands over the inside of the lid. It was covered with flowery wallpaper which was peeling at the edges.

She dug her finger tips into the top right corner and pulled down. The inside lid easily give way and dropped quickly downwards. Em tried to shelter the contents from flying out, but all they did was bounce before settling. She looked over them, finding for a few seconds all the baby stuff a strange compared to the old woman items.

Em knelt down again and started picking up things and moving them neatly to one side. Sometimes she would linger on items like the small teddy bear, the blue booties, the small patchwork blanket and a baby’s white jumper. When she came to the only photo of the baby, she stopped. She looked closely at the image and saw  her very young self cradling a small pink baby. He was wrapped in a hospital blue blanket and just the side of his head could be seen.

With one finger she touched the baby’s head and wondered where he was now. All the memories rushed back taking over her completely. Sighing and giving into her sobs at last, Em dropped her head. She cried hard, letting everything out and the tears wash over her. She curled on the floor, her body shaking and no longer able to keep herself up.

Slowly, her sobs grew quiet and the tears stopped. She wiped her face and pulled herself up. Gently placing the photo back in, she closed the inside lid on those memories again. Using her jumper sleeves, she scrubbed her face and palms. Glancing at her grandmother’s things, she pulled out a few letters to distract herself with.

Opening the first one, she saw it was a love letter. It was one she’d read before and she knew it was to her gran from her granddad’s childhood friend who was also looking for Em’s grandmother’s attention. Reading it, made Em smile. Putting it back carefully, she opened another one and saw it was a returned letter that her gran had wrote to her granddad close to the end of the Second World War.

Scanning it, the history of her family opened like  a book in her head. She fell into that, forgetting for a few minutes her own past as she became lost in someone else’s. Once she was done, she put all the letters back and closed the steam trunk lid. She turned the key in the lock then removed it. Getting to stiff legs, she put the key back on the roof beam.

Weaving her way out of the attic, Em wiped her face again and felt her cheeks still damp. At the hatch, she turned out the lights and went down the ladder. When her feet hit the bottom the sound of the TV came fully back to her. Folding the ladder up, she closed the attic hatch and went into the bedroom.

It had grown darker and she turned on some of the lights. Catching herself in the mirror, she saw her dust smudged face and clothes. Not stopping to see what the TV was now displaying, she went into the bathroom and had a shower.

The hot water combined with the smell of lime and lemon body wash cleared her head.

Why did I even go up there in the first place? Em thought, did I think it would be different this time? I should get rid of all that stuff. 

‘No!’ Em cried a loud.

She pressed her hands to the wall, the water rained down and soaked her hair.

‘I can’t…’ she shook her head.

Sniffing, she tried to hold it together and told herself that it was okay. Em straightened and started washing her hair. Letting all the thoughts go again. Hair washed, she got out and wrapped herself in a massive towel. Glancing back at the shower, she longed to be back under the hot spray again.

Drying herself as she left the bathroom, the sounds of the TV called her back. Going into her bedroom, Em put on a nightdress and turned off all but her lamp. Then she curled in bed and watched the news telling the world’s updates. She felt herself drifting, but not wanting to be alone, she left the TV on.

Snuggling down, she dozed and felt sleep easily take her away.