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/)

Goodbye To Christmas

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It was time to pack Christmas way. It felt like the decorations and the tree had always been up. The green wreath on the door welcoming guests and the lights flashing colours warmly.

The boxes came down from the attic, the tape came out once more to secure things. There was the slow and careful packing of breakable things; glass angels and burbles. The lights were wrestled back into their boxes to be untangled next December. All that fragrance of Christmas began to fade.

The house seemed different once things were taking down. They left behind an strange emptiness that couldn’t be filled by anything else.

Christmas Day

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The house was quiet, such a strange feeling for today! I stood in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil. My body had kept me up most of the night and my old husband had been complaining again.

I had gone into the spare double bedroom which was made up for my daughter and her husband’s arrival later on. Next door, the grandchildren’s room was ready also.

The whole house felt like it was holding itself in, ready to burst when my family broke down the door and stormed the Christmas tree.

Only then would I feel like it was Christmas day.

Dear Diary

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Dear Diary,

The Christmas tree is up! I don’t care what people think. The best time of year is here and if I want to go all out celebrating then that’s my choice!

Anyway, it’s been proven that putting up Christmas decorations early makes you happier! For me, that’s so true. I love all that magic feeling from lights and sparkly things. It makes me so happy when I see trees and lights in and on other people’s houses! It’s like the knowledge that they are embracing the holiday too.

Tomorrow, I’m putting the lights up inside and out. It’s a huge task but I’ll find people to help me. I just hope it’s not raining because then the outside lights will have to wait. I’m so excited for when everything is finished as coming home will make it seem like I’m entering Santa’s house. (Well, what I imagine it could look like!)

After decorating, my second favourite thing is wrapping presents! I have almost got everyone something and in the next week or two I’ll get wrapping up. I love all the papers with their different prints on and the feel of the more fancier ones. I don’t think a Christmas tree is complete without presents underneath!

I just can’t wait!

Wish #first50words

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I wish we hadn’t gone to the woods that night. It had been fun at first, playing hide and seek.

In the dark everything was more hyped, thrilling and dangerous.

Hiding under a dead tree, trying not to laugh, I heard something whisper my name then felt hands around my neck.

 

(Inspired by; https://first50.wordpress.com/2019/10/14/i-wish-4/ with thanks).

The Wasp

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The family had a picnic under the tree. They munched on sandwiches and cake whilst  sipping ice lemonade.

A buzzing alerted mother to the wasps, she waved one away. Father tried to swat another with his newspaper. Then the baby cried as a wasp landed on him.

Then the whole swarm come down! Wasps crawled in the cake’s icing, crept on the sandwiches and fell into the bottle of lemonade. They buzzed around, eager to feast on a picnic they had not been invited too.

Abandoning things, mother gripped baby and father the other two children, they all rushed back to the car and locked themselves inside hoping the wasps didn’t follow them.

Carved #100WW

The dead tree in the park was to be removed but first an artist had been allowed access. He had thought awhile about what to do – paint the tree? Chainsaw sculpt an image? Use the branches to display other works of art?

He liked that idea! But he was going to need help. He ran art classes in schools so decided to get the young people to make pieces to decorate the tree. Then they all went out and did just that.

Lastly, everyone carved their names into the trunk signing the art piece off.

 

(Inspired by; https://bikurgurl.com/2019/02/20/100-word-wednesday-week-109/ with thanks).

 

A Little Christmas Tree

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It was a freezing snowy evening the day before Christmas eve 1842, but ten year old Christabel still wanted to go outside. Her parents had gone to the theatre and with tomorrow being a busy day the servants had all gone to bed early, expect for Christabel’s Nanny and maid.

The three of them were sat before the crackling fireplace in the nursery. Nanny and maid were sewing up holes in socks and dresses, they were growing tired with the heat of the room and the darkness. Christabel had been reading a book of poetry but she was finding it difficult and her mind kept wondering.

She looked over at the window and saw in the glow of the gaslights from the street below that it was snowing again. The silent, soft balls of white were floating down lazily, brushing against the frosty glass.

‘I want to go out,’ Christabel declared, there was still a slight lingering of a french accent to her words.

Nanny looked up at her then over to the window, ‘it’s late and snowing,’ she answered.

‘I don’t care,’ Christabel declared.

Throwing her book down, she left the nursery and went to her bedroom. Christabel pulled out her red winter coat which she put on over her white evening dress then sort a hat to match.

‘I really do not think this is a good idea. It is all most bed time,’ Nanny said from the doorway.

Christabel ignored her and emptied more of the wardrobe out, scattering the clothes around with no care.

Her maid came forward and with the ease of knowing her little mistress’ wardrobe, found a suitable white hat with a red flower, black ankle walking boots and a white hand muff. She dressed the child quickly as she had down for years now, without saying a word. The maid knew her place well.

‘I want to go out,’ Christabel stated and now dressed, she left the room.

With a sign, Nanny returned to her room to get ready. The maid began tidying away all the clothes. Christabel walked down the grand staircase, the gaslights on the wall pooling light around and casting shadows on the paintings high above. The silence and stillness of the house give Christabel a slight chill but she would not show it or say anything to the servants.

Stepping into the hallway, Christabel found that only one gas lamp had been left on. The housekeeper had left it for her parents return. The stretching corridor behind her looked unfamiliar, dark, scary and she imagined it full of wild animals waiting to eat her. Christabel turned her back on it and looked at the front door.

Soon Nanny joined her and they walked out together. The snow fluttered around them and Christabel with all child wonder, looked up and around. She smiled and wanted to laugh but held it in. They walked across to the little park that stood in the middle of a square shape block of houses. There was no one else out but them.

The snow was thick and untouched on the ground, they walked down the path which could be just made out in the dim glow of the street gas lamps. Christabel breathed in the cold air, it chilled her but she felt warm enough not to complain. From between the evergreen bushes which the snow was slowly turning white, she saw something shinning.

‘What is that?’ she pointed out.

Nanny looked and replied, ‘I do not know.’

Christabel walked over and found that near the bandstand someone had put up a pine tree and decorated it. Glass coloured balls, white frill lacy, other little ornaments decorated the branches and at the top a red star. She stared in wonder, it was so beautiful and she had not seen anything like it before.

‘Oh,’ Nanny said, ‘it’s a Christmas tree.’

Christabel repeated the words to herself in a whisper.

‘It is pretty,’ Nanny added, ‘the king and queen have one. They are becoming fashionable.’

Still in silent wonder, Christabel looked at the reflection of light and snow in the glass balls. There was something magical and awing about the decorated tree that she  could not look away or think of what to say.

‘We should get back now,’ Nanny spoke after a minute or so, ‘it’s getting colder and the snow is thickening.’

‘What will happened to the tree?’ Christabel asked.

‘I…Nothing. People will come to admire it and maybe on Christmas day everyone will sing and give gifts around it.’

Christabel nodded and looked up at the star which seemed to be shinnying.

A cold wind started blowing, the snow fell faster and thicker.

Nanny took Christabel’s hand, ‘we need to go now. You can come back and see the tree again.’

‘Yes,’ Christabel answered.

Together they walked back. Nanny wanted to go quickly but the snow half-blinded them and the path was slippy as the new snow was freezing on top of the layer they had walked on. Tall trees loomed on the path, shaking in the wind and making them both feel nervous.

They reached the park gates soon enough and were back on the well light street. Stopping to get there breath, they both heard the clip clop of horses’ hoofs and the creaking of wooden wheels. Around a corner came a black handsome cab pulled by a dappled grey mare.

The carriage stopped outside a house and the driver helped two figures get out. The horse stomped on the ground, eager to be off to a warm stable. The reins rattled loudly then the handsome’s door was banged shut and the driver snapped the reins. The mare neighed and walked on.

Nanny and Christabel crossed over and walked up the gate of the house. The figures before them had seemed to be heading this way too and as the front door opened and light was realised out, Christabel saw her parents.

‘Mama! Papa!’ she shouted.

Her parents turned on the doorstep, dressed in all their theatre finer, Christabel ran up to meet them, almost falling over.

‘Come and see what we found in the park!’ she cried.

‘Christabel what are you doing awake and out at this hour?’ Mama demanded, ‘get inside at once!’

Christabel stepped into the house, still talking as she tried to tell her parents all about the walk, the snow and the Christmas tree. Her parents did not seem to be listening to her though. They are taking off coats and hats.

Nanny helped Christabel out of her things, not saying anything though the child included her. Nanny kept her eyes down, she knew she was in trouble with the Master and wanted nothing to do with the child’s talk of the tree.

‘What are you going on about?’ Mama finally cut in.

Christabel opened then shut her mouth, realising her parents had not been listening to her. She felt a bubble of emotion and tears pricked her eyes. She held her breath and tried to keep it all in. Her parents disliked it when Christabel got hysterical and they would not give into her demands then.

‘Miss Lockwood,’ Papa spoke addressing Nanny.

‘Yes, Sir,’ the Nanny began the gushed, ‘Miss wanted to see the snow in the gas lights, how wonderful it is! We went to the park and someone has decorated a tree there like the king and queen have in the palace. It was pretty and Miss I think would like to have one of her own in the house.’

Christabel nodded looking at both her parents full of excitement as a silent crept in.

‘We will see about it tomorrow,’ Papa answered, ‘now to bed.’

‘Thank you, Papa!’ Christabel cried.

She kissed her parents, bid them goodnight and went upstairs. Nanny trailed behind, carrying everything up, glad that things had worked out.

Tree Portal #TwittingTales

My twin boys were whispering behind the oak tree. Creeping up, I shouted ‘boo!’ they both jumped, ‘What you doing?’

‘We found the way to Christmas land,’ Cody answered.

‘Like in that movie,’ Corey added.

‘But we can’t get in!’

‘We need a little magic,’ I explained.

 

(Inspired b; https://katmyrman.com/2018/12/11/twittering-tale-114-11-december-2018/ with thanks).

Untrodden #WritePhoto

The snow lay thick across everything. Hilda stepped outside her house, admiring the view and taking a photo with her phone. This early in the morning, nothing but birds had touched the snow and it looked as pure as it been in the clouds.

Hilda felt like laughing, she wasn’t sure why, maybe due to the overwhelming joy in her chest? She loved winter, there was just something so magical and special about the season compared to all the others. Maybe, it was also because her family came from Russia, the home of winter.

It was too cold to laugh, her breath was misting badly in front of her because she had been stood too long. Instead, she smiled and carried on walking down the country lane. There was no wind but some loose snow was drifting from tree branches. Hilda wished it would snow again, there was nothing like the feeling of snowflakes on warm skin.

Following the path around, she came to a breathtaking sight. Snow covered hills rose in the distance, the tops of which were covered by fog. Naked trees spiked the fields, frost bitten and snow draped. A wobbly wood and wire fence ran to the left of her, frozen snow domed the posts.

She scooped a handful of snow up in her gloved hands, patted it down and threw it at a near by tree. It fell short with a soft plop. Hilda laughed, feeling such like a child again that she could no longer contain herself. As her voice faded, she heard something, a faint cry?

Holding her breath, she listened and heard what sounded like a baby crying. The spell of magical winter gone, Hilda grew concerned and tried to follow the sound. It seemed to be coming from the tree she had thrown the snowball at.

How was it possible that a baby was out here alone? she wondered.

Hilda searched around the tree trunk, the crying had grown louder. She moved some snow away and found a little hollow. What was that inside? She reached in, thinking it just more snow but instead her hands withdrew something else. Holding it up to her face, Hilda saw the tiniest kitten she had every seen. It was snow white, with blue eyes and a touch of a pink mouth.

‘Oh! You poor thing!’ Hilda cried, ‘What are you doing out here?’

The kitten give a small whimper.

Quickly unzipping her coat, Hilda tugged the kitten inside to keep it warm. Zipping up again, she inspected the trunk and roots of the tree carefully but she found nothing else. Still worried that there might be more kittens or a mother cat out here, Hilda wandered from tree to tree, bush to bush, anywhere an animal could hide from freezing.

Sometime later and far down the lane, Hilda had to give up which really wasn’t what she wanted to do. There had been no other signs of cats though and Hilda’s worry had moved on to the kitten in her coat. She could feel it’s warm and gentle breathing against her chest.

Heading back home, Hilda decided she would have to find out how to take care of the kitten. She had never had a pet before. Maybe, someone had just lost the little thing and she could find the owner in the village or at one of the farms?

As soon as I know the kitten is okay, I’ll do that, Hilda decided.

Days later and after a lot of asking around, no one had come to claim the kitten. Hilda had decided to name her Snowy and she was doing great. Her time outside had’t seemed to have effected her that much. Snowy was growing stronger all the time and Hilda had fallen in love with her.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/11/29/thursday-photo-prompt-untrodden-writephoto/ with thanks).