The Rising Sea

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Oliver peered nervously out of the window and saw a sea wave crashing over the wall and on to the road outside his house.

The white foam tops of the waves clouded the air and sea spray mingled with the falling rain. The sea roared with an untameable lust that deafened everything nearby, only challenged by booming thunder.

The weather forecast had said it was going to bad on the coasts and flooding were likely. Of course, Oliver had prepared with sandbags at the doors and low windows. Most of his furniture was stacked upstairs and his car was parked up at Raven’s Edge cliff carpark.

Oliver thought that he should have stayed with his car because it was safer but he would have been fretting too much about his house being flooded.

Listening to the sea bashing about as the wild wind stirred the waves up and rain poured down, Oliver realised it was too late to do anything else. He would just have to hope that the sea didn’t rise anymore and his house didn’t flood.

Blown In On The Wind

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Returning from dropping the grandchildren off at school, I sank into my armchair and looked out the window at the storm I had just battled through. The wind was as strong as a car speeding on the motorway and it was driving the heavy rain and hailstones into you like shards of glass.

I turned the TV on, then left some daytime game show sounding in the background. I changed into slippers and a warmer jumper. There was housework to do but it could wait until later.

Sitting down again, I looked at the collection of photos on the mantel and the wall. There were many of my husband who had died six years ago, we had been married for fifty-two years. He had been in the army and though the idea of being an solider’s wife had worried me, I had enjoyed the travelling and many experiences.

There were photos of my only child, my daughter, Victoria and also her husband, Danial. Both had died in a car crash, five years ago. Then there were my grandchildren, ten year old, Beth and seven year old, Alex, smiling brightly in every photo.

I got out my knitting, feeling the need to relax. My joints were aching because of the cold and I couldn’t get warm enough. The joys of old age and having to look after young children once again. I would soon feel some energy back then I could do some chores.

A banging upstairs stilled the clicking of my needles. I looked up at the ceiling, listening as the bang came again. The wind was swinging a door about, that was all.

I got up and climbed the stairs, feeling pain in my hips and knees. At the top, I saw Beth’s door moving and banging against the frame as the wind blew about.

‘She didn’t shut her window probably, that child!’ I uttered.

I went in, closed and locked the offending window. Outside, the wind carried on raging away, leaving the bedroom freezing cold. Turning the heater up, I went to head back downstairs and put the kettle on.

Something white moved out of the corner of my eye and I turned to it. Was it a bird? No..it was something else….The shape seemed to grow and become more solid, yet still see through. The white colour became more cream and I saw the outline of a long dress drifting.

The more I stared the more the ghost took form before me until a young woman was standing before the bed. Her long hair was down to her waist and her face was full of sadness. As she looked around, confusion frowned her face then she went to the window and looked out as if she was lost.

‘Hello? I said gently.

No reply.

‘I can see you, ghost,’ I added.

The woman turned and looked at me slowly.

‘What are you doing here?’

She sighed and softly, almost in a whisper answered, ‘looking for my child.’

‘Are they here?’ I pressed.

‘No,’ she uttered, ‘the strong wind blew me into your house. I am sorry.’

‘It’s okay, pet. Would you like to stay until the weather passes?’ I asked, ‘some company meet be good for you.’

The ghost took a moment to think then nodded. She turned, taking the room in again.

‘This is my granddaughter’s room. Come down into the living room,’ I spoke.

I went back down and the ghost followed me. A cold draft trailed around her and her dress floated on a wind that seemed to be a part of her.

Settling in my chair and picking up my knit, I tried not to watch the ghost hovering around.

‘They have passed,’ she muttered after a few minutes.

I looked up and saw her before the photos, ‘yes, pet,’ I replied, though there wasn’t a need too but it did open a conversation, ‘you lost your child?’

‘At birth. I followed a day later,’ the ghost answered, ‘and I have been searching ever since.’

‘That’s why you are still here,’ I added.

‘Yes,’ agreed the ghost. She give a long moaning sigh and stirred the leaves of a pot plant.

‘Where do you think your child is?’ I questioned over the clicking of my knitting needles.

The ghost was quiet and thoughtful.

‘At your house?’ I pondered after a few minutes.

‘If she was, she is no longer,’ the ghost woman replied, ‘that is why I had to leave. I cannot rest without her.’

I nodded and fell to thinking. Soothed by the sounds of the TV and needles, it was easy for my mind to drift.

‘You know, pet,’ I said, ‘stillborn babies probably go straight to heaven.’

‘Do you think?’ the ghost gasped.

‘Yes. They are innocent and have no reason to stay here. Maybe, that’s what has happened?’

‘Has it?’ whispered the ghost.

‘And perhaps, it’s not the search for your child that keeps you here but the grieve of the loss?’ I concluded.

The ghost let out a low moan.

‘Have you tried to leave?’

‘No. I did not want to,’ the ghost replied.

‘Try and see what happens, pet,’ I responded, gently.

‘Am I scared.’

‘I know but there’s nothing to worry about and your child will be waiting. If not, I shall help you.’

‘You will? Oh! Thank you!’ the ghost cried and she smiled.

‘Now, try to go to Heaven, pet.’

The ghost nodded and after a few moments, she began to fade away.

‘I am going! I am going!’ she shouted, ‘I shall be united with my child.’

‘Yes, dear. Go, go! Find your child and be at peace.’

With a finally smile, the ghost woman vanished.

Her cold spot lingered another minute or two then warmth took over once more.

I lent back in my armchair, knitting abandoned on my lap, looking at where the ghost had stood. Then, I turned to the photographs and said, ‘if I was her, I would have done the same. Mothers and children should always be together.’

Storm #writephoto

The remains of the tower rose in the distance. It was hard actually to call it a tower now because it just looked like a lump of rock on the grassy hillside. It was the place Rhys and Ffion always met at and had been since they were children.

Today, Ffion had arrived first. She entered the tower and sat down on some stones  crafted into a bench. Above, someone had built a roof and blocked off what had been a spiral staircase. It was a freezing but sturdy little shelter.

Ffion listened to the strong gusts of wind blasting around this Welsh hill and the rain spray soaking everything. There was no warmth to be had in the tower but at least she was out of the elements.

She was bundled in a winter coat, hat, scarf and gloves with a heavy thick knitted jumper and thermal long sleeved t-shirt underneath. Also, she wore  woollen leggings, a long grey skirt and ankle boots. Not the normal clothes of a winter hill walker.

Ffion tried to stay warm and not let the guilty thoughts creep in. Her excuse to her husband and children had been an afternoon meeting friends for coffee. Instead of driving into town, she had come out here and parked the car at the bottom of the hills.

Ffion had followed a rough path up to the tower for an hour trying to think only of Rhys. Would he be waiting already? What would he been wearing today? Had his wife finally forced him to shave off his beard which I so love? 

Shifting her numbing body on the bench, she looked at the moss covered stones and distracted herself by counting. She reached forty then heard footsteps outside. Standing up quickly, Ffion saw Rhys enter the tower and she rushed to him.

The hugged tightly, despite their clothes being damp then Rhys pulled Ffion back inside. They sat on the bench, still embracing and breath each other in.

‘A storm’s coming,’ Rhys said softly, ‘how long did you say you would be gone for?’

‘All afternoon,’ Ffion answered.

Rhys nodded. He took off his gloves and pressed a warm hand to Ffion’s flushed cheek, ‘Fy cariad¹,’ he spoke huskily, ‘dwi wedi dy golli di².’

‘Me too, fy annwly³,’ Ffion gushed, ‘and she still hasn’t made you shave your beard!’

Rhys laughed as Ffion ran her fingers over his thick black beard.

‘I won’t do it. No matter what she says,’ Rhys answered, ‘because I know you love it.’

‘Yes, yes I do!’

Ffion took off her gloves and put her hand over Rhys’ on her cheek. She turned slightly into his palm and nuzzled against him before planting a soft kiss. In return, Rhys pressed his forehead to her’s and tightened his other arm around her back. He dropped his head and pressed his lips to her’s.

‘I can’t wait any longer,’ Rhys groaned.

‘Nor me. Let’s do it,’ Ffion said and kissed him back.

They were quick in their passion because it was cold. Only the necessary clothes were removed and there was hardly any need for a warm up as they were both eager to have each the other. The rhythm of their bodies was in tune, their cries of pleasure masked by the howling wind and they shared the release of desire when it arrived.

In the after bliss they cuddled, listening to the rain pouring down and the steady drip of water coming down the stones of the tower.

‘Rwy’n dy garu di,’ Rhys whispered into Ffion’s hair.

Dwi’ dy garu di hefy,’ Ffion breathed back.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2020/02/13/thursday-photo-prompt-storm-writephoto/ with thanks).

 

 

Welsh Words Translations 

¹Fy cariad – my love

³Fy annwly –  my dear

²dwi wedi dy golli di – I have missed you

Rwy’n dy garu di – I love you

Dwi’ dy garu di hefy – I love you too

Storm Ciara

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When the news said there was an amber weather warning, I knew that Ciara wasn’t going to be friendly. She was coming over from America with the full force of a winter storm. At least, the British weather wasn’t as bad as the USA.

Ciara woke me up on Sunday morning by driving hailstone on to my window. I heaved the winter duvet and my massive Great Dane, King, off me and looked out of the window. The wind was fifty to sixty miles per hour, everything was moving violently and the surrounding bare trees were really showing how strong the wind was. Rain thundered down and the wind whipped the water into a frenzy.

I got up and sorted for the day. My bachelor mind doing it’s normal voice off about how nice it was not to have a wife or kids being noisy but also how worrying it was not to have those things.

Letting King out into the garden, the wind blew ice into my face and I was grateful that within a minute King was back inside. I dried him off, wondering how he could be so wet!

King sulked off to his massive dog bed in the converted dinning room. Dispite him being a huge dog – he came up passed my hip and I was six foot two, he could easily rest his head on tables too – King hated the cold and wet weather.

Getting a large mug of coffee and some toast, I went to my study and began working on my different writing tasks. I had a novel to complete, creative writing lectures to plan, students’ essays to mark and journal articles to finish. It might have been a Sunday but writers and teachers never stop.

Storm Ciara erupted throughout the whole day. She hit against the windows desperate to get in. She threw out everything she had; wind, hail, snow, rain, thunder and lightening. I glanced up often from my work and watched the storm from the small window.

King joined me at some point, he put his dark grey head into my lap then curled up tight under the desk. When the thunder started, he yowled and only hugs and comforting words soothed him.

I tried to take him out at lunchtime but a quick trot to the park entrance at the end of my street was it. Storm Ciara was still bad in the afternoon and darkness came early. I took King out again and we embraced the gusty wind and drenching rain together. I tugged him along, trying to convince him that a longer walk was what we were going on.

The trees above swayed violently and the branches cracked. Deep, long stretching pools of water were either covering the grass or the pathways of the park. As we passed the children’s playground, a creeping feeling crawled along my skin. The swings, roundabout and the rocking animals were moving because of the wind but for some reason I thought of ghost children at play.

The wind was whistling through the climbing frame, slide and other things, making ghastly sounds. Rain was dripping off everything and it was all so eerie, almost abandoned looking.

We hurried home and once safe inside, I got use both into a hot shower. King sit, drinking the shower spray and I enjoyed the warmth spreading on my icy skin. After, I got the fire in the living room going and feed King. I just had some soup then we both sat by the fire, watching TV.

‘What is it, King?’ I asked as he raised his head and whined.

Then I heard it, the monstrous groaning and cracking of a tree. There was almighty snap, crunch of metal and shattering of glass. I felt a tremor running through the house and King threw back his head and howled.

I rushed to the window and saw a tree had come down across the street and was laying across a number of cars.

There were bits of tree and car scattered across the road. The wind was picking up the lighter things and blowing them away. Doors of the houses opposite opened and people stepped out. I couldn’t hear them but I could see the shock on their faces and in their body language.

King pushed me out of the way and looked out of the window too. We stayed there for awhile. Watching the crowds of neighbours gather and soon a fire engine arrived. No body had been hurt but some of the cars were write offs for sure.

‘There’s not much we can do,’ I said to King, ‘looks like everything’s under control. It’s snowing again. Let’s go back to the fire.’

Settling down again, King sprawled across the sofa and myself. His head and front legs on my lap, pinning me down. I felt safe like that, even though King was a rubbish guard dog. I guess just having a massive dog and his heavy weight on me was enough comfort as storm Ciara raged outside.

 

(Inspired by current events; https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/02/11/storm-ciara-commuters-warned-snow-ice-across-parts-britain/)

Blizzard

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The blizzard arrived like they said it would. The snow and wind came down blindly fast. Things ground to a stop like the rusted cogs of a clock. People battled against nature, trying to get on. Children free of school were sledging and building snowmen. It seemed right to join them as not much else could be done.

Days, weeks and months past by. At first it had been fun and slightly annoying but now the blizzard was frustrating and angering people. Cars and houses were snowed in. Transport was limited. Buildings were closed due to burst pipes or lack of heating or it being too dangerous to open.

Homeless people were frozen solid in the street, buried under snow moulds that became too much effort to dig them out. Rubbish piled up around them, unable to be removed as the roads were too blocked up. People who dared to go out risked tripping over the hills of such things.

Other people froze or staved in their homes. Their bodies left because even if they could be recovered, how could they be buried?

Those luckily enough to move away did so and soon that was the only answer. The snow kept coming, the city turned to stone, trapping the people that remained.

Winter Sea

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People loved the sea and they loved coming to see it but most of them didn’t stay so only a few knew what it was like to live on the coastline during winter. And it wasn’t all just ‘look at how the sea is raging and how flooded the harbour is!’

It was a dangerous time of year and I having spent my whole life in a Cornwall fishing town knew it well. We had been flooded, power failures, cliffs had fallen to the sea, people had drowned in riptides or huge waves, boats had been dashed like rotten wood on rocks and the harbour warning bells were always ringing.

From my attic bedroom as I lay in my bed trying to sleep, I didn’t need to look out of the wind to see that a storm was beginning. I could hear the wind like the blades of a helicopter whipping everything it could pull up into a tornado. What sounded like a tree branch bumped along the roof then was gone.

The rain hammered on the slates like men breaking stones in the quarry a few miles away. The windows rattled, dripping and water stained. There was a knocking as hailstones joined in, the ice chips bouncing away as they hit.

The sea was making the most noise as if in competition with everything else. All that separated my house from the sea was a road and a wall. I could clearly hear the waves bashing the flood defences and trying to climb the wall.

Wondering if we would be flooded, I rolled over and tried to sleep again. It wasn’t the storm keeping me awake, I was use to the weather. It wasn’t the night light casting multi-coloured stars on to the ceiling and wall, that was meant to help. No, it was my phobia of the dark.

Nyctophobia, it was called. I was on a never ending cycle of things to try and help me or cure me. It came and went, some months were easier, sometimes of the week were better then other but winter was the hardest to get through. It was dark for most of the day and my mind was never at rest from the fear of what might be waiting in that darkness.

Giving up sleeping, I turned the light and read my book. It was strange but I loved horror stories and true horror things. I liked reading about the supernatural, ghosts were one of my favourite subjects – fact or fiction. Tonight, though I was reading about true witches starting from the earliest historical records to now-ish.

Of course, I realise how ironic this is because loving horror and being afraid of the dark don’t go together! Some people said that reading and watching horror themed things was the cause of my problems but there was more to it then that. It wasn’t that I believed the things in the horror books and films could be waiting in the darkness to grab me, it was more that in the dark you didn’t know what was truly there.

The dark made you think something was something else, objects had hidden depths, people looked different and sounds were also changed. I knew there were no real monsters out there, just humans who became like them. Perhaps, there were ghosts but I believed they weren’t like the fiction stories said.

I read and read, sometimes dozing off then reading back a paragraph until it grew light outside.

Free at last, I wrapped up warm and went outside, despite the storm. Everything lashed around me; the wind, the rain, the sea, it was like a surge of nature at war with just me.

I went to the wall and looked down. The sea was high, over the rock breakers and every wave was splashing over the wall top. It wouldn’t be long till sea water was pooling across the road.

Salt stung my eyes and water coated me. The wind buffeted me and I couldn’t stay long. I walked along stopping when a wave came over, not that getting wet by it would make me any drier!

My head cleared, my fears left and I felt easier. Not much was open in town partly due to it being Sunday, not tourist season and the storm. I passed a few cafes, an arcade and bingo hall, shops who’s shutters rattled like teeth. I went to the harbour and watched the boats riding the sea like a roller coaster.

 

 

Stormy Day

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I could feel the damp coldness on the window and hear the gale force wind driving the rain. Sighing, I pressed my fevered forehead to the glass. I had wanted to go out today, get some fresh air and pick up a few things. Instead, an open window and rummage through the kitchen cupboards would have to do.

Something warm and furry brushed my fingers then a cool wet tongue licked my hand. My guide dog, Hope, had come to my side. I could hear her tail wagging as I reached out and stroked her head and ears.

‘Looks like another day inside for me,’ I said, ‘though Bob should be around soon to take you out.’

Bob was my next door neighbour, he had a guide dog also and another Labrador. He was only blind in one eye but did have some blurred vision in his left. He liked walks and use to do a lot of hiking.

With having the flu, I had asked him to take Hope out for me. She enjoyed being with the other dogs and having some down time from her job of guiding me places.

I crossed the living room and Hope followed at my side.

‘Alexa,’ I called to the device, ‘what’s the weather like today?’

‘Currently it’s forty degrees, heavy rain, strong winds and cloudy. Tonight, there will be more rain.’

‘Alexa, what’s the weather like tomorrow?’

‘Tomorrow it will be forty-three degrees, scattered showers and heavy clouds.’

‘Thanks. I’ll try and go out tomorrow.’

There was a knocking on the door. Hope barked and guided me over, though I knew well enough were my front door was.

‘Kat, it’s Bob,’ he called through the door.

I unlocked things and let him in.

‘Hi,’ I said, ‘is the weather as bad as it seems?’

‘Yes,’ Bob replied, ‘I’m in my waterproofs and wellies. Hello Hope. How’s the flu doing?’

‘Bit better. I wanted to go shopping but might be best if I don’t.’

‘Oh? I can go and get you somethings. I climbed mountains so this weather doesn’t bother me!’ Bob replied and laughed.

‘No, it’s okay. I’ll try later,’ I answered.

‘Well, if you can’t, I really don’t mind.’

‘I know but it’s fine honest. Here’s Hope’s lead. Have fun, girl.’

We said goodbye and I went back into my apartment and to the window again. I opened the window and felt the almost freezing air on my face and arms. The wind was strong and water droplets hit my face.

I was glad Bob was heading outside instead of me, it sure felt horrible out there today.

 

 

 

Unknown (Part 4)

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The baby was crying. Macy could hear it louder then before. Rolling over, Macy, still half a sleep, fumbled for the lamp switch. She yawed then shielded her eyes as light came on.

Grumpily, she listened and heard the storm rolling around. Thunder was echoing it’s booming voice and lightening was popping in the clouds. Rain was clattering down and the wind was like a lion tamer’s whip.

Despite all that noise, Macy was positive the baby was crying in the alleyway.

Getting up, she pulled jeans on and a jumper then went to the door but there was somebody there all ready.

The cat’s meowing made her pause and for a few seconds Macy was puzzled until she remembered Precious.

The tortoise shell cat was rubbing against the door, asking to be let out.

Macy picked her up and put the cat into her jumper. Recalling she would also need a light source, Macy grabbed her phone then went downstairs. Wellington boots and rain coat on, Macy brought the torch app up and went out into the stormy night.

With the cat- a warm, wiggly thing against her chest, Macy felt braver as she stepped out of the front door. The weather smacked her as if warning her to stay back but Macy fought through it and went the few steps towards the alley.

Wait, was that a figure ducking away into the shadows of the entrance?

Macy couldn’t stop as the storm was chilling her all ready. Once under cover, she took the cat out from under her jumper and followed Precious down. The cat sniffed and vanished behind the bins.

Macy shone her phone around, the torch doing a better job then the candle flame the other night. As she crossed over one of the distant bins, she stopped.

There was the shape of a woman with a bundle of clothes? in her arms. The woman’s head was bent, fixed on the bundle and there was blood on the floor.

Swallowing, Macy slowly moved forward, keeping the phone’s light down.

The woman didn’t move nor seemed to know Macy was there.

‘Hello?’ Macy called out.

The woman slowly looked up and turned her head. Her face was wet with tears, rain and blood. Her blonde hair was wet and falling out of the pins that held it up. She was young; a teenager. She had on a dress, a shawl and low shoes that was not enough protection in this weather. In her arms was a ragged blanket and something was moving inside.

‘It’s okay. I won’t do anything…I just needed to know…’ Macy trailed off as a bolt of lightening cracked across the sky.

The flash of light showed for a few seconds, that the girl was covered in bruises and there was more blood on the floor then Macy had first realised.

Macy shivered, feeling the cold not just from the weather now, it was like the alleyway had become frozen. The chill made her start to shake and she didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t turn away and just leave. How could she go back to bed knowing a teenager had just had a baby and was now going to abandoned the newborn inside a bin?

Should I comfort her? Try to take the baby? Phone for an ambulance?  Ran the thoughts in Macy’s head.

She approached the teenager, wanting to help. The girl had  turned back to the wrapped up baby.

‘It shouldn’t have been…Never…A mistake,’ the girl whispered.

‘What happened?’ Macy asked.

‘I told him. He didn’t want it. Wouldn’t do the right thing and marry me. We fought, he hit me, I left him. I told my parents…my father…he beat me, cast me out. It shouldn’t have come…’

‘That’s bad,’ Macy spoke, ‘but you can’t abandoned her now. She needs you.’

The teenager shook her head and replied, ‘someone else who knows what to do can. It has to be this way…’

‘Leaving her in a bin? She’ll die!’ Macy cried.

‘I don’t care! It’s ruined my life!’ the girl screamed.

The teenager threw the baby into the bin. Macy screamed, ran forward but tripped over She fell to the wet floor at the girl’s feet, feeling pain shooting up her arms and legs. Something heavy landed on her back and there was the warning hissing sounds of the cat.

‘Please,’ Macy muttered, tasting blood in her mouth, ‘don’t leave her again. She needs you.’

The baby was crying and so was the girl. The sounds of their sobbing echoed in the alleyway against the background of the storm.

Macy stood and Precious jumped off, still hissing and with an arched back. Macy scooped up the cat and shoved her into the jumper.

‘You know it’s true,’ Macy picked up, ‘you can make it right.’

The girl looked at the bin, unsure. Macy could see her shaking, the swell of her post-pregnancy belly, the blood staining her dress and legs.

Thunder clapped, rain swept into the alleyway, lightening followed in two bright flashes and crackling. The eye of the storm was passing right over head.

‘Don’t leave her,’ Macy added.

The teenager shook her head, ‘it has to be this way. Always.’

‘Fine. I’ll take her,’ Macy announced and tucking her phone away, she reached into the bin.

Lifting out the bloody blanket and looking in, Macy saw the newborn. There was a patch of blonde hair and red streaked skin, eyes shut tightly and mouth open in desperate crying. The baby was so tiny and felt too light in her arms. She hugged the baby to her chest. Then felt the cat in her jumper settling.

‘You would?’ the girl asked in surprise.

‘It’s not the baby’s fault. She’s not a mistake to just forget about! You ruined your own life,’ Macy shouted.

Turning away, Macy carried the baby inside her house. She closed the door with her foot then had to set the bundle and cat down to lock the door and turn on the hall light. Picking up the baby again, she went to her bedroom and made a small cot out of a drawer and some bedding.

The baby was still crying but then Precious stepped in the bottom of the drawer and curled up. Warm and safe now, the baby fell asleep.

Nodding, Macy took her clothes off and hung them up to dry. She put on a new night dress and got into bed. Exhausted, she fell asleep.

 

Morning light woke her. Macy lay confused for a few minutes, her thoughts clouded. She wasn’t sure if last night’s events had been a dream? A nightmare? Real? She rolled over, thinking of getting up and having a cup of tea. That always helped.

There was a drawer on the floor by the bedside. Inside, was the tortoise shell cat, Precious, and a real newborn baby girl.

Macy bent down and picked the baby up. The baby stirred and woke up, big blue eyes starring into her own. Tiny hands uncurled and Macy slipped her finger into a palm the size of a 2p coin. The baby’s fingers closed around her finger.

Precious jumped on the bed and sit between Macy’s legs.

‘Well,’ Macy spoke and smiled brightly, ‘looks like I got a baby and a cat to take care of now.’

Unknown (Part 3)

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Macy had another sleepless night but got a few hours of rest in the morning. She had something to eat and watched the weather forecast. Just as Mrs Kettle had said there was a storm coming. Outside, it was drizzling and the wind was gusty. Not a great day to go out but Macy had shopping to do.

An idea that had come to her last night was her mission of the day. She had also finished off the last of her library books so as well as returning those and getting some new ones, she was going to look through the town’s archive.

Firstly though, she had to go to the job centre of her benefit appointment. Setting out, she hurried through the drizzle and arrived a little late. Everything went fine, well fine if you were unfit to work and mentally unstable.

Leaving, it them took forty minutes to get the library as it was on the other side of town. The rain had picked up and it dripped off her umbrella which give her little protection. She arrived damp and cold but a few minutes by the heater warmed her.

Returning her books, Macy walked around and selected some more to read. Then she went to the archive room and looked for newspapers and other reports from the 1950’s that had deaths of babies and her street name together.

Macy was amazed by how long this took her and shocked when she came across only one newspaper report about the abandoned baby. It was little more then two paragraphs and read that a twelve year old girl had found a premature baby girl in a bin. The baby had died, the unknown mother was being seeked for medical attention.

That was it; no follow up, no other newspapers reporting on it, nothing else relating to the baby.

Macy sat back in the chair and sighed. The table before her was scatted with copies of 1950’s papers and she could feel the heat of the old computer off to the side which had aided her search.

The library was quiet and Macy could hear the shuffling of feet and books, pages turning and voices whispering. Rain was coming down outside and it was growing dark.

‘Excuse me? I’m sorry, we are closing now,’ a voice came from behind her.

Macy twisted in the chair and saw the woman who had checked her books out before in the doorway.

‘Oh. Okay. Sorry, what time is it?’ Macy asked as she got up.

‘Almost four O’clock,’ the woman answered, ‘and don’t worry about this. I’ll put it away. Did you find what you were looking for?’

‘Sort of,’ Macy replied, ‘thanks.’

Collecting her things, Macy left and walked down the road to the high street. There, she did some food shopping then headed home.

The house was cold. Macy shivered and went straight for the gas fire. Holding the worn button down, she listed to the click clicks until the thing came on and blue, orange flames let up the white protection grid.

She unpacked the shopping, made a cup of tea and heated a tin of soup. Macy watched TV, getting warm and dry.

A meowing drew her attention and Macy looked at the net curtain covered window. She went over and lift the netting up. Balancing on the the thin sill was a cat.

‘Precious?’ Macy questioned as she recognised the tortoise shell cat.

Macy went to the door and called the cat in. Precious walked inside like she owned the place and settled in front of the fire like she was home.

‘Did you get locked out?’ Macy asked the cat, ‘you can stay with me. I don’t mind. I’ve not got any cat food though…Maybe, there’s a tin of fish in the cupboard…’

Macy went into the kitchen with a purpose she hadn’t felt in awhile. She took out a bowl and a dish, filled the first with water then from the back of the cupboard a small tin of fish.

Precious was wrapping around her legs and meowing before Macy knew it.

Laughing, Macy watched the cat eating.

‘I can see why Mrs Kettle likes cats. Maybe, she’s right about me not being alone after all….Oh, I left my library books in here. I got this one about ghost stories,’ Macy said as she picked up the book to show Precious.

‘Not my normal reading but with the story Mrs Kettle told me, I thought I might have a change. I don’t think I got any with a cat in….’ Macy trailed as she looked though the seven other books.

‘I like fantasy and romance best. This one is a series I’m reading about men who are really dragons and they meet their soul mates and have to try an explain things to them.’

Macy glanced at the cat, ‘this is so weird. I don’t normally talk so much.’

Precious didn’t look at Macy but started washing herself.

‘I’m going to have a bath then go to bed to read. I’m guessing you won’t join me in the tub,’ Macy added.

Macy ran her bath, feeling unusually tried. Leaving the door open, like always, Macy got into the warm water and started washing.

A padding of paws made her peer at the doorway and she saw Precious walk in and jump up onto the closed lid of the toilet.

Macy covered her chest with her arms and looked at the cat. Bright amber eyes gazed into her own as the cat’s ears and tail twitched.

‘It’s rude to stare!’ Macy snapped then burst into laughter.

She dropped her arms and started washing her hair. After she relaxed in the cooling water and started hoping she could sleep tonight.

Getting out and wrapped in a towel, she went into her bedroom and Precious followed her.

‘I don’t mind cats. Never had one though nor any other pet. I don’t think the goldfish at the children’s home counts does it?’ Macy said.

Putting on a night dress, Macy got into bed and put the ghost stories book in her lap.

Precious, after checking the room out, jumped on the bed and decided to start off sleeping on the pillow next to Macy.

‘I guess, we can relate to each other….my mother abandoned me too,’ Macy breathed, ‘it wasn’t really her fault. She was sick and couldn’t take care of me. My dad came for me but it took years for them to trace him. Mum had lied on the paperwork; claimed he was dead. She didn’t want to have anything to do with him and wanted to keep me from him.’

Macy breathed deeply, feeling tears wetting her cheeks. She reached out and stroked the cat. Precious stretched and snuggled against her.

‘He had a family, of course, wife and two kids but they welcomed me in. I was an angry fifteen year old but they helped me through. It was hard living with them….much like it must be hard to live with other cats. My step-sisters always got my nervous, they bullied me and stole my things.’

Macy sniffed and looked at the ceiling. She wiped her nose and face, dragged a hand through her blue hair then put her face into Precious side.

The cat didn’t seem to mind and as if knowing Macy needed comforting, Precious began licking Macy and pawing at her hair.

‘That’s how I came to be here,’ Macy picked up after a few minutes, ‘my step-mum’s sister was ill and needed looking after. I had always liked auntie Sue and wanted to help. I trained as a support nurse, became her full time carer. Moved in here and slept on the sofa.’

Macy yawed and pulled the duvet up over both her and the cat.

Continuing, Macy listened to the sounds of her own voice as she talked on, ‘Sue died three years ago, left me everything. I had some money, dad helped a lot and I did find a job in an old peoples’ home. I had to sort out the house straight away though as the pain was too much. It still is some days now.’

‘That’s how I lost my job, ended up on benefits; I’m not sound of mind any more. I’m unstable, unfit to be around people. I don’t think ‘normally’ anymore. No control of my emotions or thoughts or feeling. I want to kill myself and other people around me. It would feel easier if I wasn’t here…Just like my mum wanted me to be when she give me up.’

Macy put her head back on the pillow. Waves of tiredness were washing over her. Macy let them take her but before she fell sleep, she turned to the cat and said, ‘thanks for listening, Precious.’

To Be Continued…

Unknown (Part 2)

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Macy woke close to lunchtime and almost rolled back over to sleep again. She forced herself to get up and have a shower. After, she dressed warmly and went down to get something to eat.

It was still raining outside.

Macy passed the afternoon watching TV, reading, doing some arts and crafts which her therapist said was good for her to keep up and drinking cups of tea.

She listened often for the crying but didn’t hear it.

After having an evening meal, she tidied the house, which was really clean all ready but since she couldn’t go for a walk she need to make herself tried. Then she took a bath.

Relaxing in the hot water scented with lavender, Macy listened to the tap dripping and the rain tapping on the window. Everything else seemed quiet. Not that it bothered her.

Letting herself drift, she cleared her head of everything.

At first, Macy thought it was the wind but then the crying became more pronounced.

Macy frowned and wondered what was going on. Maybe, she needed to go see her neighbours? It wasn’t very good to complain though. Sometimes there wasn’t much you could do when a baby was sick and crying. Still though…she felt she needed to know for her own piece of mind.

The night passed like the last one; she didn’t sleep and often she heard the crying.

In the morning, she went around to her neighbours – both middle aged couples- and asked them about the crying.

Shockingly, they knew nothing about it and the pregnant woman wasn’t due till next month.

Puzzled, Macy spoke to more neighbours, even though she didn’t really know them. She did find out that an old woman, Mrs Kettle, on the corner had a number of cats and some of them were feral which she was trying to tame.

‘Could it have been one of them?’ Macy had questioned.

‘Maybe,’ Mrs Kettle had replied, ‘but perhaps it’s her…’

‘Excuse me?’

‘Do you fancy a cup of tea? I’ve some nice ginger cake in.’

‘Sure,’ Macy replied.

Mrs Kettle was a short, stooping woman, with white hair in a bun and many wrinkles across her skin. Once she had a nice curvy and plumb figure but old age had made her look compact and fat. She was wearing a wool skirt, grey blouse and a knitted pink cardigan. She had a friendly and pleasant, mothering nature.

Mrs Kettle’s house reminded Macy her step-aunt’s before Macy had began to make it her own. The wall paper and furniture looked 1960’s and there was fading smell of moth balls and cats.

Macy took the second armchair and shared a pot of tea and a plate of sliced cakes with Mrs Kettle.

‘How long have you lived here?’ Macy asked.

‘I was born in this house a few years after the war ended,’ came the reply.

‘You’ve been here all your life?’

Mrs Kettle nodded.

‘So, who were you referring to? Who is she?’

Mrs Kettle stroked a ginger tom cat that had come to curl into her lap.

Macy eyed a skinny white cat with no ears that was warming it’s back by the gas fire. So far she had counted eight cats but she suspected there were more.

‘I was about twelve and it was this time of year -October,’ Mr Kettle spoke, ‘back then no matter the weather children always played out. I was skipping alone, waiting for my friends when I heard it.’

‘The crying?’ Macy jumped in.

Mrs Kettle nodded, ‘it was coming from your alleyway. I went to look and found in one of the bins a wrapped up bundle. Inside was a tiny, tiny baby still bloody. I didn’t know what to do. So, I took the baby to my mother.’

‘It died didn’t it?’ Macy asked, cutting in, though she had a feeling she knew.

‘Yes. Within an hour,’ Mrs Kettle said in a low voice.

‘And the mother?’

‘We never found her. No one seemed to know where the baby had come from.’

‘Wasn’t there an investigation?’ Macy questioned.

‘In the fifties?’ Mrs Kettle replied with a laugh, ‘around here? No one cared. It happened all the time. A young woman, out of marriage, getting into trouble and abandoning the baby.’

‘Oh,’ Macy breathed.

‘From then on, people would hear the baby crying in the alley and find nothing. Then came the rumours of a woman carrying a bundle running and wailing down the street. Us children came up with ghost stories and believed the baby and her mother had taken to haunting the alley. I stayed away after that.’

Macy finished her tea and hugged herself, not being able to believe this. Was the crying she kept hearing a ghost baby?

There was thump next to her and Macy turned to see a small, tortoise shell cat on the arm of the chair. The cat stepped into her lap and brushed against her crossed arms. Macy stroked the cat, feeling the warmth of the fur and the slight dig of claws into her jeans.

‘Would you like another piece of cake?’ Mrs Kettle asked.

Macy shook her head.

‘You live alone don’t you, love?’

Macy looked up and saw the old woman staring kindly at her.

‘I knew your aunt well. She was a dear friend.’

Step-aunt,’ Macy automatically corrected.

‘A young woman shouldn’t be alone.’

‘I like it that way. It’s easier.’

Macy looked down and saw the tortoise shell had curled in her lap was purring. She hadn’t stopped stroking the cat and Macy realised how calm she felt.

‘Her name is Precious,’ Mrs Kettle explained, ‘I found her when she about a week old. Her mother had abandoned the litter and only Precious was still alive. I hand reared her.’

‘She seems a nice cat,’ Macy responded.

‘Yes. Snow there,’ Mrs Kettle pointed to the white cat with no ears, ‘is deaf and some teenager cut her ears off. A friend saved her and give her to me to look after. And this is Toby,’ Mrs Kettle patted the ginger tom in her lap, ‘he was a farm cat who wouldn’t hunt the mice and rats! He’s a big softy.’

Macy laughed.

‘Do want some more tea?’

‘I should…Actually, yes,’ Macy said with a smile.

She hadn’t liked other peoples’ company for years but Mrs Kettle so reminded her of step-aunt and Macy felt safe here. Plus, if she got up she would wake Precious and the cat was a nice warm and heavy spot on her lap.

Mrs Kettle brought more tea and cake. They talked some more then watched quiz shows on the old TV.

Finally, Macy decided it was time to leave.

‘Take care out there,’ Mrs Kettle said, ‘a storm is coming.’

Macy nodded as she looked out of the frosted front door windows which were dripping with rain.

‘It’s been so nice to have company. Please come back anytime.’

‘I shall,’ Macy replied and stepped outside to battle the weather.

To Be Continued…