Lil’ Horror #FridayFictioneers

It looked like something out of that musical about hungry plants. Trust her half blind grandmother to have brought and given it to her as a leaving gift.

Looking around her small uni student bedroom, Ruby decided to place the ‘IT’ on a tall bookcase. The plant trailed down and for a few moments Ruby imagined those vines growing, crawling across the floor and strangling her as she slept….

Shaking her head, Ruby broke into laughter and started to unpack. Those kind of things didn’t happen in the real world! The plant’s only horror was it’s ugliness.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/09/04/6-september-2019/ with thanks).

Rave #3LineTales

three line tales, week 141: a face covered in neon-coloured splatters

I hadn’t wanted to go in the first place, a neon rave party was sure to be dark, loud and messy, plus they never played my kind of music.

She convinced me though by saying, ‘all the best uni parties happen at the start of the year, you wouldn’t want to miss out on that in your first year!’

Well, I did miss out. I got blind drunk and don’t remember anything other then flashing blue lights which turned out to be an ambulance taking me to hospital, no more parties for me.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2018/10/11/three-line-tales-week-141/ with thanks).

The Paper Mill (Part 3)

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I went home, got my college stuff and caught the bus. Resting my head against the wet window, my thoughts drifted and before I knew it, the bus was stopping outside the college’s gates. Getting off, I headed straight for the library which was either going to be packed or….empty.

There was no one in the lobby, not even a librarian at the desk. I turned back, checked the open sign in the window then with a shrug walked though. The tables and sofas running down the left side were strangely empty. Tall bookcases set up like dominoes were on the other side. There was a staircase straight to my right which I went up.

Pushing through the double doors, I heard whispers of voices and saw two woman at a table with books scattered around them. Feeling better that I wasn’t alone, I went to the section of books I needed and starting gathering more research for my essay. It did take a little while but soon, I was totally focused on my studies.

By the time I left the library, due to the fact it was closing early, the sky was so dark it seemed to be the middle of the night. I huddled in the bus shelter with three other people- a girl and two guys- who held a mixture of conversions. My bag was heavy with books as I’d taken out so I had some more to get through the weekend with. I kept switching shoulders with it then finally give up and set it down my feet.

It was raining lightly now but the wind had really picked up and I could feel the cold through my winter coat. I looked at the bus time table again and noticed the bus was late. I hope they hadn’t cancelled. If the weather and the darkness had been better I would have walked again. The paper mill came back into my head and I hoped the girl was okay.

The bus emerged from the black road and came to a stop before us. I hurried on and took a seat close to the front. There were a few other people on the bus and they all looked as wet and cold as us students did. During the drive, I thought about getting off at the stop close to the mill, but I decided I was too tried and hungry to do that. Plus, I’d have to walk back too.

Arriving at home, I showered and got changed, so I was warmer, then I heated up a can of soup. Eating before the glow of the TV, I blocked out the loneliness of the house. My grandparents had gone for a month and wouldn’t be back for another week. Perhaps, that was why I was so desperate about the homeless girl? I was too tried to think any more.

Leaving the hall light on, I went up to bed. I read for bit before laying in the dimly lit room. The wind was still howling outside and the rain was hitting the window. I thought it would take me awhile to sleep but it came on my quickly. I didn’t have any dreams and I felt refreshed.

Getting up and ready, I saw it had stopped raining. I made breakfast and decided I had to go back to the abandoned mill. I packed up some more food- things that were going out of date from the fridge, some fruit and more tins. This time I also went into the attic and found an old but still good sleeping bag and a pillow.

Walking over, the sky threatened more rain and I past a few cars driving about. At the rows of houses there was more activity as children played outside and parents unloaded shopping. I got a look off an older man and it took me a few moments to realise he was wondering where I was going with a sleeping bag in one hand and a pillow poking out of a carry bag in the other. He’d did’t say anything though.

The paper mill looked the same though in the morning light I could see more of the decay and nature taking over. I crept in, across the courtyard and inside the main building. There was water dripping somewhere and the creaking of wood. I didn’t need my torch this time and I was able to got the right way too!

The girl was still in the room and as I entered the doorway, I saw her piling damp wood closer to the fire pit. She was wearing the coat, bobble hat and a pair of trousers that I had given her. My heart leaped and I felt better.

‘Hello,’ I called.

She stopped, give me a nod and set the wooden planks down.

‘Do the clothes fit?’ I asked walking in.

She give a shrug and said something that I missed.

‘I thought maybe you’d like this too,’ I said and held out the sleeping bag and pillow.

She came and took them from me and whilst she was looking at them, I took the rucksack off and began emptying it. I set all the food down then zipped up the rucksack and slipped it on again. I smiled at her.

‘Why…do you keep doing this?’ she said slowly.

‘I guess because….’ I frowned and really thought about why.

‘Are you sorry for me? Is that why?’ she demanded.

‘No!’ Well, maybe a little…’

‘I don’t need your pity,’ she snapped.

She crossed her arms over her chest and turned her head away.

I pressed my lips together and replied, ‘I’d have been throwing all this away anyway…’

She didn’t responded. I shifted around on my feet and decided it was time I admitted the truth to her and myself.

‘I’m lonely. I guess that’s why…’ I said.

Our eyes meet then she looked me up and down.

‘I don’t believe you,’ she answered.

Sighing, I spoke, ‘guess that is bit odd but it’s the truth.’

‘I don’t need friends. They only stab you in the back,’ she explained, ‘I’m happy alone.’

Nodding, there was nothing else to say. I began to leave.

‘Don’t come back again,’ she said quietly, ‘I won’t be here.’

I glanced over my shoulder at her. The dirt on her child-like face and her unkempt dark hair stuck in my mind. Going home, I reflected on our conversion and decided I need to make more effort in class to make some friends.

I managed to stay away from the old paper mill for a week but then I had to go back again. I went empty handed this time because I just needed to know if she had left or not.

When I arrived, there was a new metal fence around the mill and signs warning people not to trespass and beware dangerous building. I pressed myself to the gate, looking at the mill and I saw that the doors and lower windows had been boarded up.

‘I hope you found somewhere else to go,’ I whispered.

Turning away, I went to catch the bus to meet my new friends for lunch.

The Paper Mill (Part 2)

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Laying in bed, the bedside lamp on to keep the dark at bay, my thoughts kept going back to that girl. She had either run away from home or just didn’t have a home to go back to. I tried to imagine living like her; no family or college, no money or food, no bed or clean clothes. It would be hard. Tossing about, I finally settled down but my mind still wouldn’t turn off.

Tomorrow, I told myself, I’ll get somethings together and take them to her. Maybe she’ll talk to me then and perhaps I can help. Or maybe, the other side of my mind thought, I should just let it go. It’s none of my business. But by seeing and talking to her I had made it my business.

In the morning after a shower and breakfast, I should have sat down to work on one of my essays. I didn’t have classes today and tomorrow was Saturday, so I should have been thinking about going back to the library. Instead, that homeless girl was still in my mind, so I set about finding things she could have.

My parents had died when I was ten, so my grandparents had took me in. They were currently away on holiday, visiting their other daughter and grandchildren in America. There was still a lot of my parents’ things in the attic but I didn’t have time to look through all that. What if the girl had left the mill because I’d scared her? I needed to get there as soon as possible. Luckily, close to the front door was a bag of clothes my gran was putting out for charity collection.

There were a few of my tops that were too small now, but might fit her. I also selected an old green jumper and two pairs of my grandpa’s trousers. There was my old winter coat in the closet, a bobble hat and matching gloves. Taking everything back upstairs, I put the clothes in a rucksack then brought that down. In the kitchen, I took some tins of beans and soup that had ring pulls. Some cans of fizzy drink, bottles of water, a packet of biscuits that no one of liked and a bag of dried fruit.

With those in the bag, I wondered what else would a homeless girl need. Perhaps; sanitary towels, painkillers, matches, candles  and a few other bits of pieces. the rucksack was heavy but it would be worth it. I got ready to go, saw it was raining and decided on my wellington boots and an umbrella. Was there a spare one to take her? My grandpa liked to collect useful things, so at the back of the closet were a few spare umbrellas. I chose a small pink one then set off.

The day was dull and it must have been raining to awhile because there were large puddles and everything was dripping wet. I walked slowly, weighted down with the rucksack. Some of the streetlamps were still on but they didn’t seem to be doing a good job. I hoped it wouldn’t get any darker. Following the country lanes around and to the bridge I didn’t see anybody or cars.

Going over the river, I picked up my pace and hurried through the rows of houses to the mill. I squeezed the gap in the fence and made my way over. In the gloom and rain, the paper mill looked darker and more dirtier. I could hear the rain falling into holes in the roof and dripping off metal.

In through the door and I had to get my phone’s torch out to see. There was no keeping quiet with my wellingtons and heavy rucksack on the debris covered floor. I thought I went to the room she had been in, but I must have taken a wrong turn because I ended up at a metal staircase. At the top of which was a void of darkness. Shivering, I turned away and weaved my way back again. All the rooms looked the same but at last I found the right one.

‘Hello?’ I called, ‘It’s me Darcy.’

The fire wasn’t lit but there was enough dim light from the tall windows to see that she was still there. She was sat on the floor, huddled in dirty blankets with a sleeping bag wrapped around her. She turned and realised it was me.

‘I thought maybe….I could bring you somethings,’ I spoke, not sure what really to say.

She turned away from me without saying anything.

I walked over and placed the bag down.

‘It’s not much just some food and clothes,’ I added.

There was a large piece of cardboard next to my feet, so I sat down. I opened the bag and took anything out. She kept her head turned away from me as if I wasn’t there. Whatever I had been thinking might happen, it hadn’t been like this. But why would a teenage girl suddenly gush out her life story to a stranger she’d never meet over some old clothes and food? Had I really thought we’re going to become best friends?

I waited a few minutes, listening to the rain falling and feeling the cold stiffen my limbs. She was quiet, ignoring me and because she was keeping away from me, I couldn’t make out her face. I wanted to catch her eye so at least I could try and say something else, but she didn’t move.

‘Fine,’ I sighed, ‘I’ll go.’

I picked up the rucksack and slowly walked away. Every now and then I glanced over my shoulder, but the girl hadn’t moved. At the doorway, I stopped and thought about saying something else to her, reminding her of her manners maybe? Get angry and yelling out my disgust at her? Perhaps hoping her the best?

The words, whatever they were, wouldn’t come out so I turned away and walked back through. Even though my mind was still on her, I couldn’t help but think about what the paper mill would have been like in the past. It would have been loud with machines cutting up the trees and making the paper. The air would have been heavy with wood dust and chemicals. People would have been everywhere too.

I made it out in one go, only to find the rain had got heavier and the wind had picked up. I opened my umbrella and hurried home, my heart and thoughts weighed down.

 

To Be Continued…

The Paper Mill (Part 1)

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The worse thing about autumn was it got dark far too soon and I’d always been scared of the dark. I hadn’t meant for it to be so late when I left the college library but I’d been doing research for my last two essays of the year. I hadn’t notice the time until I’d left and gone to the bus stop. I’d missed the last bus home.

So either, I walked the half an hour into town and got another bus or I walked the forty minutes home. If it had been raining which made it darker, I might have gotten the bus but I decided that I could make walking home. Most of the way would be well lit by street lamps and I had gone this way lots of times in the last year.

Drawing up all my bravery, I set off at a hurried pace. My heavy rucksack almost dragging me back whilst making my shoulders ache, distracted me as I went. My college was on a limbo boarder of just being outside a village and on the edge of countryside. The fastest way home was to half walk through the village then go up some country lanes.

I was about halfway home and just about to walk over a small bridge. Behind me an abandoned 1800’s paper mill ruled over the little houses that had once been home to it’s workers. The village had sprung up around the mill but once they had cleared all the trees, it started to get expensive importing more, sales had dropped too and the mill had closed it’s doors.

I stopped and faced off with the darkness before me. A single street lamp on the bridge was the only barrier between us. Beyond that the quiet countryside seemed to stretch endlessly away. I could hear the faint flow of the low river going under the bridge and something else in the distance behind me.

I listened harder, half turning to the sound which was like a muffled crying. I looked back at a row of houses, most had dim lights in the windows and others were draped in black. The paper mill looked eerie, like a silent empty watchman. I tried to tell myself the noise was just a cat or a baby but this feeling of strangeness grew in my stomach.

What if someone was hurt and only I could help them?

Glancing at the bridge, my mind made a choice that I didn’t get a chance to think about. I turned away and walked back towards the houses. I followed the sound along those small well lit pavements, thinking at any moment I’d find the source. Arriving at the gates of the mill and peering though the towering bars, I spotted the flicker of a fire in a ground floor window.

A voice in my head told me to go and my feet began to move away but the rest of me stayed at the gate. The crying was coming from the mill. Thoughts ran though my head; it’s a trick of the darkness, it’s an echo from something else, it’s a ghost, a homeless person, an animal. Why am I here? Go home!

I couldn’t though…

Looking further along the metal fence, I found a hole large enough to fit through and I stepped into the cobbled courtyard of the mill. Trying to walk in a hurried but quiet way didn’t work, so instead I give up trying to hide my presence and just went over to the steps. Looking up, I could make out how run down the mill was now but there was too much darkness to see further.

I went to the window the fire was coming from. I couldn’t see in though as the wall was too tall. My hands touched the cold damp stone and quickly withdrew as if something had bitten me. Coming away, I crept around for a bit, trying not to let the deep darkness creep me out more. Every shadow was a good hiding place for someone and I was just waiting for something to happen. My throat got dry, my heartbeat was loud and fear was making me sweat despite the cold evening.

Taking out my phone and putting the torch app on, give me some more light and helped to keep the shadows at bay. I found a half open metal door and slipped into the building. There was a maze of rooms and a musty smell. Carefully walking, I spent a good few minutes figuring out where the fire was burning. Trying to convince myself it was just kids messing around and perhaps one had got left behind, helped make me feel better.

Standing in the doorway of the right room, I saw a small fire on the floor and next to it was a small humped over person shape.

‘Hello?’ I called out.

The shape moved, twisting around to look at me whilst gasping. I couldn’t make anything out as my phone light didn’t reach so far and there wasn’t enough light coming from the fire. I heard scrambling and the person getting up and moving.

‘I’m not going to hurt you,’ I spoke in a shaky voice, ‘I think I heard you crying. Do you need help?’

‘No,’ the voice of a girl sounded back.

I sighed, glad the person wasn’t a man nor hurt. I waved in the door, wanting to move closer but then not moving as there might be danger.

‘What do you want?’ the girl demanded.

‘Nothing,’ I replied, ‘what are you doing here?’

‘This is my home!’

‘Your…?’ I trailed and looked at what I could see.

Then I stepped inside the room. It was bare but for the fire and small pile of stuff on the floor. I got closer to the fire, drawn by the heat and I saw a girl in her late teens, just like me. She was wearing layers of ripped clothes, her hair and face were dirty but she was standing defensively, ready to fight.

‘I’m Darcy,’ I spoke to break up the tension.

She shook her head at me.

‘How did you end up here? Where are your parents?’

‘None of your business. Go away,’ she snapped.

I frowned and thought about saying more. I had the urge to help her but what could I do? Turning away, I walked back to the doorway. Then with a glance at her went through and tried to remember the way out.

 

To Be Continued…

Spur #writephoto

It was a strange thing to find in a charity shop and I don’t know why I was drawn to it. The spur was rusty but the spiky wheel still spun and it could still be placed onto the back of a boot. I didn’t want it for that though. I brought it, along with the other items I’d picked up then I took it home.

There was no where to place the spur in any room of my house, so I settled for putting it in the cacti bowl that lived in the kitchen. Then I just forgot about it which is just something everyone does.

I don’t know how long had passed but one night I had this weird dream where I was walking through the desert and I came to this abandoned wooden mining town. I walked through the silent buildings and saw a spur, just like the one I’d brought, laying on the sandy ground. I think I tried to pick it up but the dream ended.

After breakfast that morning, I looked for the spur in the cacti bowl. It wasn’t there. Shrugging and thinking one of my housemates had moved it, I went to university for the day and once again forgot all about it.

 

I had another dream days later and I remember this one more because I don’t normally recall my dreams that well. Once again, I was in the desert and walking through that abandoned silent town. I saw the spur and this time I picked it up. I spun the spiky wheel and sliced my finger.

A drop of blood hit the sand at my feet and sunk into the grains. I frowned and began to move on but the ground trembled and a zombie hand shot out and grabbed my boot. I screamed, yelled and tried to kick away. The hand hung on. Panic rose within me, I kicked hard but that caused the hand to pull more out of the sand and I realised the hand wasn’t trying to drag me down but it get itself up!

Without thinking, I jabbed the spur into the rotting hand. The fingers seemed to loosen. I jabbed harder, sticking the spur in like a knife and leaving it there. I kicked with my other foot and punched with my hands until the zombie hand let me go. I stumbled away then finding my feet fled the ghost town.

I awoke in a pool of sweat and shivering. My bed was a mess and my breathing was super loud. I got up and went to the window. It was a cold and wet autumn day but I opened the window and let the strong wind blast the reminds of the dream away.

I had a shower, got dressed and was grateful that I didn’t have any uni classes to attend today. The house was quiet, so I didn’t know who was in. There were dishes in the sink though and the living room was a mess. I tidied up, hoping it would take my mind off everything. Also, I had to find that spur!

When it didn’t turn up, I stuck a note on the fridge and asked my housemates to please return the spur to me. I went to my room and tried to study but my mind was far from my essay and research reading. Instead, I did some internet searching into spurs and abandoned towns in the desert. I didn’t find many answers to the questions I didn’t even know I had.

I went out in the afternoon to the shops and to the town’s library which was nothing compared to the uni’s library but at least I finally got a clear head to study! When I got back that evening, I asked my three housemates about the spur but none of them had seen it.

‘Like a cowboy boot spur?’ Josh asked.

I nodded.

They were all sat in the living room, the TV on an American comedy show and a menu for a local Chinese on the coffee table.

‘Why do you have one of them, Rachel?’ Holly cut in.

‘ It seemed interesting….’ I replied.

‘We’re going to order, soon,’ Kaden switching out, you want anything?’

‘Sure,’ I sighed and picked the menu up.

 

That night the dream came again. This time though I was more prepared and though the zombie scared me, I let him raise from the sand. He was dressed in the reminds of  brown leather pants and a jacket. Holding down my fear, I held the spur out to him. With a loud groan he took it from my stretched out hand then turned away from me.

My eyes flicked open. My dark student bedroom morphing before me. I fumbled for the lamp and got blinded by the light. I rubbed my face and hobbled to the bathroom. Afterwards, I padded back and got into bed again. The near silence of the house hurt my ears and I just wanted to go to sleep again.

I never saw the spur again.

 

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/10/19/thursday-photo-prompt-spur-writephoto/ with thanks).

Dear Diary #38

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Dear Diary,

It’s the first of October today and things have started heightening in the house. This morning, all the doors were open including wardrobes, cupboards and drawers. I got up from bed, still half a sleep and went to the door. I tried to open it and found that it already was! Confused, I inspected the door then looked out into the corridor and saw the other three bedroom doors and the bathroom door wide open!

I closed my door easily and went to the bathroom one and did the same. Deciding it must be another drunk prank by Drew and Jesse, I went through my morning routine. After, I went downstairs and seeing all those doors open, I signed and closed everything. Why had they left all the cupboards open? Worse though was the front and back doors!

The house felt so cold and I hurried to close and lock both doors. Then I checked that nothing had been stolen. Luckily, everything was fine, but I was so angry at them! Of course when they finally got up, we had a massive argument about it. They claimed it wasn’t them and they weren’t drunk enough as they remember all of yesterday.

Beth and her boyfriend came down and joined in. The boys blamed it on them but Beth said it wasn’t. Finally, after a lot of back and forth, I decided this was pointless and got everyone to call it quits. Then I went off to study and carry on writing my first essay of this uni year.

Things were okay throughout the day. Though Jess said he thought that someone had been moving stuff under his bed and Beth thought she heard her boyfriend calling her upstairs and then back downstairs when actually he was outside helping Drew to fix Drew’s car. We laughed about it but then she had to bring up the ghost!

I ignored her and asked if she’d help me make a Sunday roast. I just can’t get back into all that supernatural stuff. I said I’d leave it at home and I’m still determined to do that. It’s final year and I need to keep my head down. But, if I did take the time to try and communicate with whatever is in this house then maybe it would make our lives easier?

There’s been another incident this evening. We were watching a movie all together and the TV screen started flickering then turned off. We were sat in the dark for a few moments and I felt something brush my face, like the tips of many feathers moving past or like I had just walked through cobwebs. Then Drew turned on a lamp and went to the turned the TV on. The screen flicked back on and he started the movie again.

It’s done that a few times now and Drew blames some fault in the TV or the electrics. But everyone’s computers, mine and Beth’s TVs also do the same thing every now and again and I just no longer think it’s the electrics. There’s no pattern and we’ve had the landlord checked everything twice now and nothing has been found.

Everyone has gone to bed now and it’s nearly eleven. I’ve not been able to sleep which is why I’m writing, but I must try and get to sleep as I have a lecture first thing. However, I can hear footsteps and whispering in the hallway. Yes, it could be my housemates, but I know it’s not. The footsteps are too heavy, like someone is wearing boots and not caring who hears them walking about. The voices are too whispery to make out words as if they are purposely trying not to heard. I know from being woken by my housemates talking before that it’s hard not to hear peoples’ words even if they are whispering.

I’m torn. I want to go out and talk to them but I can’t open the doorway to that world at the minute. I just have this feeling that things are getting to get stronger and maybe worse. I think they have got use to us being here this past month and now they have got back to doing what they normally do. The change into a new season and the fact Halloween is approaching is fuelling them too.

I don’t want to be forced into this but maybe I won’t have a choice if I want to carry on living here.

The Searcher

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He haunted libraries like a vengeful ghost feverish on his mission. He sat for hours reading so many different books that the librarians lost track of what he had loaned. What he truly sought no one knew and perhaps the answer wasn’t clear to him either.

When he had exhausted all the public libraries in the country which surprisingly hadn’t taken him very long because all he did was read, he started to join collages, universities and other such places. Even if he couldn’t get in, he found a way for the books to get to him.

People began to take notice and soon he was interesting a lot more minds then just the librarians. Students and tutors would seek him out and ask him what he was doing, but he wouldn’t answer. No one ever knew what his secrets were but other people have now made it their life goal to find out.

Love Don’t Bother (Part 4)

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Trying not to over think as the train whizzed me away and rain pelted the windows, I set my thoughts on my work and the week ahead. For some reason, though I couldn’t get the image of Darcy, Amelia, Alex and Luke sat on the sofa eating Chinese food. My cruel mind put words in their mouth and I hear Alex say, ‘good job she’s not here or she would have eaten all the food already!’

Darcy chines in with, ‘You know she’s addicted to prawn crackers. I saw her eat two whole bags once!’

‘Hey, there’ll be left overs for lunch tomorrow!’ Amelia points out.

Then maybe, Luke might tell them to stop being mean to me. Alex will laugh and say, ‘it’s fine, she’s not here, she won’t care!’

I shake my head and swallow a lump in my throat. I try to convince myself that they would never have that kind of conversation about me, but as the train pulls into the station it’s too deeply planted in my head.

I get off the train and hurry through the ticket gate, which I almost get stuck in. Without looking back, I go to the automatic doors and step outside in the rain. I wipe my face and sweep my hair back, enjoying the cold air on my skin. The crowd is crazy, but everyone gives me a wide berth and though no one is staring at me, I know they all see me. How can they miss me? The giant wearing blanket size clothes.

‘Marcy? Marcy?’

I turn at my name and see Ben coming through the doors. He looks smart in black trousers and a pale blue shirt. He’s unbuttoned the first few buttons and I can see a v shape of his chest. His large stomach hangs low, strapped in by a black belt. He’s dark brown hair is neatly cut short and his face looks tried and concerned.

‘Hi,’ I say softly.

‘Are you okay? Did you have a panic attack on the train again?’ he asks.

I shake my head. He reaches out and takes my hand. His fingers are warm and soft.

‘Let’s go and eat. You’ll feel better.’

I nod and let him led me off into the city.

The bad weather hasn’t stopped people – mostly the students, from a night out. The bars, pubs and clubs already seem busy. We weave through everyone and the streets, passing a Superlambanana statue on the way. They are a new icon of Liverpool; with the body of a sheep and tail of a lamb covered in brightly coloured paint. I feel drawn to stop and look, but Ben tugs me on.

We reach my favourite restaurant and Ben opens the door. The smell of burgers and fried onions hangs in the air. We take the second window booth in the small sixties America themed room. The long counter is directly to my left and it stretches all the way to the back where the toilets are. On the other side of it is a row of plastic red chairs and matching tables as well as two more read leather booths at the end.

The walls are covered with all sorts of memorabilia and Americana. Most of its sixties rock ‘n’ roll, with framed records and photos. A red electric guitar hangs a meter or so above my head. The sign claiming it belonged to some rock singer I’ve never heard of. It always reminds me of Back To The Future.

Feeling soaked, I take off my jacket and grab a menu. It feels slightly sticky in my hands, but I turn the pages anyway. I scan the words, but don’t really take them in, my thoughts have switch to wondering why I’m here. Of course, to have a date with Ben, but was it actually worth it? Maybe my time would have been better spent studying some more and stuffing my face full of Chinese food.

‘You look nice,’ Ben says suddenly.

I glance over and thank him.

A waiter appears and politely takes our drinks order, a strawberry milkshake for me and a vanilla one for Ben.

Then Ben reaches over and takes my hands in his. He rubs my knuckles and watches the movement.

‘Thank God you text me when you did,’ I speak out, ‘I sort of forgot we were meeting tonight. I was busy studying.’

‘Glad I did then and you study too much!’ Ben responses.

I shrug, ‘a PhD is a lot of work.’

‘And what will you do when it’s done next year?’

‘Stay at the uni, hopefully.’

I trail off and look outside at the rain and the city lights. I can just about hear people laughing and talking. Ben is staring at me, I can feel it, waiting for me to go on, but I don’t want to talk. My mood feels like the weather; depressed and gloomy. Ben is still stroking my hands.

‘I really like you, Marcy,’ he says.

I snap back to him, ‘what? We’ve only met twice now…’

‘So?’ he presses and smiles at me.

I press my lips together and smile back, I can’t help it. He’s cute with his baby chubby cheeks and long black eye lashes. There’s something infections about his orange slice smile and laughing eyes.

The waiter returns and we are forced to break hands as the drinks are placed down.

‘Ready to order food?’ he asks.

‘I’ll have a chicken burger, please’ I say.

Ben ponders, glances at the menu then, ‘can I have the bbq chicken pizza?’

‘Of course, thank you,’ the waiter speaks and turns away.

I watch him go and place the order in even though the chef is right behind him. Looking further up, I notice the last booth next to the toilets is occupied. Two young teenage looking boys are staring at me and I can make out a third too, but all I can see is his sticking up hair. The boys look away and carry on with what they are doing.

A wave of nerves wiggles in my stomach and I turn back to the window. I just know they are talking about me…

‘Marcy? Are you feeling okay?’ Ben asks, he’s been sipping his milkshake.

‘Sure,’ I mutter and take a drink of mine, though I wish it was alcohol.

‘Look, I know that was a bit sudden, but you said we had to be honest about everything with each other. So I was just being,’ Ben explains.

I stir the straw in the thick shake, wrestling with myself over what to say.

Ben leans back, his hands pressing down the table top, ‘it’s fine if you don’t like me…I really thought you did though…’

‘I do! It’s just that…’ I take a deep breath, ‘I’m worried you only want one thing…’

His lips twitch and form an O as he makes that sound.

I shrug, ‘why else would you want to date me? I’m not pretty and I have all these issues.’

‘You’re completely wrong. You are very pretty and your issues are not all of you,’ Ben cries.

‘Really?’ I look up through my eye lashes, trying to judge his words.

‘Yes. And of course that’s the ultimate goal, but I’m happy to wait and right now I’m just enjoying your company,’ Ben adds.

I smile, feeling the nerves being overtaking with tingles of delight.

‘A chicken burger and a pizza?’

We both look up and let go of each other’s hands. The waiter places the food down, tells us to enjoy and leaves.

‘Do you really mean that?’ I ask.

Ben nods and unfolds his napkin, ‘wouldn’t say it if I didn’t.’

‘Good.’

I pick up my cutlery and spear a chip. Putting it in my mouth, I watch Ben chopping on a slice of pizza and I just feel things are going to work out between us.

Love Don’t Bother (Part 3)

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I watch the high street from the kitchen window whilst I eat toast and drink a cup of chi tea. It’s raining steadily now and making a nice sound falling off the roof tops and guttering. Market stalls are being set up in two rows either side of the main walk way. The clattering and banging noise they are making is so loud it could wake the dead. Plastic sheets of clear, white and other colours drape over the tops of the stalls, creating another surface for the rain to make music on.

Nothing stirs in the house expect for me and my small noises which the living room clock seems to echo with. I wonder what the girls and the boyfriends are up to? Maybe some soft snuggling and kisses? Perhaps morning sex? I think though they are all in a drunk coma of sleep right now. The idea of sex lingers in my mind and before I can recall the last time I had morning sex, I shove the thought away.

I unlatch and open the window. Chilly, wet autumn air drifts lazy into the stuffy kitchen. The wind plays with the netting and the curtains, before I fix it all back and out of the way. I look clearly outside. I can hear people calling to each other and the grumbling of van engines. The rain bounces of umbrellas and coats as the first buyers appear and begin shopping.

I watch an old woman, who must be about ninety years old picking over fruit and veg. Her cloth shopping trolley resting up beside her and rain drops dripping off the bright yellow rain coat she has on. She hands over tomatoes and bananas alongside some money, then tucking the brown paper bags into her trolley, hobbles away.

The stall holder shouts, ‘get your fresh fruit and veg here!’

I finish my toast then my tea and tidy up. Going back to the window after, I close it and decided that a walk around the market would make me feel better. I go back to my room and select some clothes; jeans and long sleeved top. I dig out my wellington boots and a red rain coat. Feeling ready to face the weather, I put my phone, keys and purse in my pockets before I leave. Lastly, I collect my umbrella from beside the wardrobe and check I have everything.

Going down all the stairs, I try to be as quiet as possible, but it’s so hard when the stairs are like hundred years old and I’m 26 stone or there abouts. I don’t really know, it’s been a few months since I last felt interested enough to find out how overweight I actually was. I make it to the front door and am just about to unlock it when I hear another door creak open.

‘That you, Marcy?’ Amelia’s bell of a voice calls softly.

‘Yes,’ I say, turning my head.

Her head is sticking out of her bedroom doorway. Her dark blonde hair with layers of black looks messy and her cheeks are really pink. Her fingers curl around the edge of the door, holding it in place. I suddenly wonder if she’s wearing any clothes.

‘Are you going out? Can you get some bacon, eggs and bread, please? I forgot yesterday,’ Amelia asks.

I nod, ‘sure.’

‘Also, can I send you the first draft of my essay to look over?’ she adds

‘I guess….’

‘Thanks. Give me a knock when you get back.’

She goes to close the door and I hear Luke’s muffled voice say something. She replies then turns back to me.

‘Anything else?’ I ask, just knowing there’s going to be more.

‘Sausages too,’ she answers.

I frown a little as I realise my walk has become a shopping trip.

‘I’ll give you some money later,’ Amelia says, ‘okay?’

‘Fine,’ I say and open the door.

Cold wind blows in, stronger than it did from the kitchen window before and splatters me with a few large water drops. Amelia’s door closes loudly. I head out, holding up my hood as I go down the cobblestone alleyway and out onto the street. Wandering around the stalls, I decided to get the food on the way back. Nothing peaks my interested though. It’s all the same stuff they sell every Saturday and due to the rain there’s a few stalls missing.

I get the food and go home. Dumping everything in the kitchen I knock on Amelia’s door. There’s no answer. Going back into the kitchen I take my wellies and coat off. I put away the food and make myself a lunch to take upstairs. Gathering everything, I go to my room and spend the rest of the day working.

At some point, I hear the shower going and people moving. The smell of cooking food creeps under my door and I hear happy sounding voices in the kitchen. I ignore it all and carry on reading my books, internet pages and making notes.

My phone pinging a message finally brings me out of my studying. Looking around, I get up and go to the bedside table. Picking my phone up, I see it is a text from Ben. We’d met for the first time last week and had tea together after talking on a dating website for most of summer. He’d been working in Scotland and so we hadn’t been able to meet up until then.  Opening the message, I read;

Hi, meant to talk to you earlier but work was mad! On my way to Liverpool now. Might be a bit late though, should get in for 5.30pm. See you at the train station.

We have a date tonight!

Looking at the clock I see it’s half past four, which means I have no time! I text back a quick line then rush over to my wardrobe. What am I going to wear? I pull out a black soft top with a dragon on it, realise I wore it last time and put it back again. After a few panicky minutes, I get a knee length blue skirt, a matching blue top with a butterflies on it and some black leggings.

Abandoning everything, I have a fast shower, throw the clothes on and sort out a shoulder bag to take with me. Is it still raining outside? I go to the darkening window and look out. The sky is a dull grey and though there are rain drops on the glass, it doesn’t look like its raining. I put my suede ankle boots on and grab a light hooded jacket.

Opening the bottom draw of the bedside table, I find my bag of makeup and go into the bathroom. Voices drift after me, but I don’t listen. Selecting blue eyeshade and liner, I put them on then a bit of strawberry lip balm. The mirror reflects my rushed face, I pause and wonder what I’m doing. How does Ben find me attractive? Maybe he’s just saying that to be nice? But then why a second date? Unless he just wants to sleep with me and was lying about that?

I growl, clutch the sink and will my over-thinking away. Pulling myself together, I brush my teeth and hair then go back into my bedroom. Collecting my bag and umbrella I turn off my computer and my light before going downstairs.

A voice from the living room calls out to me as soon as I reach the bottom. Darcy appears in the doorway wearing pjs which look like they’ve been shrunk in the wash. The shorts she has on barely cover her and the matching top only comes down to her waist. Her small high boobs can just be made out under her long straight blonde hair. I stare at her flat light brown stomach, wondering how she got that.

‘Marcy?’

‘Yes,’ I snap to.

‘We are getting Chinese takeout and watching movies. Want to join us?’ Darcy asks.

‘I can’t. I have a date,’ I gush.

‘What with? The library?’ Alex’s voice shouts from the sofa.

‘Alex!’ Darcy scolds as she glances over her shoulder at him.

‘No. A man,’ I reply coldly.

‘Oh okay….the same guy from last week?’ Darcy questions, dropping her voice.

I nod, ‘I should go. Bye.’

Turning, I go downstairs and to the door. I ignore Alex’s voice as he yells something, so he’s words are lost, whatever it was I don’t need to hear it. I open the door, step out into the drizzle and hurry to the train station.

 

To Be Continued…