Moonbroch #AtozChallenge

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Moonbroch; a halo around the moon which presages an approaching storm. 

Lottie threw the duvet back and got out of bed, giving in to her insomnia. Without fumbling around trying to light a candle, she crossed the bedroom in darkness. She went to the window box and moved the heavy curtains away from the window itself. A cold draft raised the hairs on her skin that wasn’t covered by the long, sweeping white nightdress.

She sat down, comfortable against the plump cushions and quilted seat underneath her. Pulling all of her long, golden hair over to her right shoulder, Lottie played with the gentle curls. First, she straightened them, then twisted the ends around her fingers before throwing the whole lot back over her shoulder.

Lottie looked out of the window into the night which stretched like a never ending sea. Below, the  gas lamps that normally lit the short driveway and gate were out. The moorland beyond, which she couldn’t see, was quiet. It was rare anyone travelled after sunset but on nights of the full moon as it was tonight, nobody left their homes.

The clouds in the sky parted, the moon shone down, casting a dim light which was just enough for Lottie to see by. She watched the moon, noticing the halo of light that surrounded it and how the clouds were lit by the glow. It was a magnificent sight.

An echoing wolf howl broke the stillness. A shiver, that had nothing to do with the cold, ran through Lottie. She reached out to clutch the side of a cushion then tried to move away from the window. Another howl, closer this time stopped her movement and she looked out again.

There was something moving in the darkness of the moor.

Lottie told herself they were just shadows cast by the moon and that the howling only seemed nearby because it had echoed. She put the cushion into her lap and played with the tassels to help calm herself down.

I should go back to bed. Light the candle and read my book until I feel sleepy, Lottie thought.

A movement made Lottie turn her head. Down, next to the gate, a huge grey-black shaggy furred werewolf was standing there in the moonlight, looking up at her with massive yellow eyes. The breathe caught in Lottie’s throat, she became still, frozen by fear that was racing through her blood.

The werewolf threw his head back and let out a mighty, long howl.

From the darkness, another werewolf, slightly smaller and with a light grey fur coat padded towards the gate and joined the first werewolf. They howled together and another werewolf, shorter this time, with a red-grey mixed coat appeared. Then it seemed, more and more werewolves kept coming forward, till at least a pack of twelve stood by the gate.

The first werewolf moved, rising on it’s long, twisted hind legs to stand taller then a man and let out a short howl. He launched himself, trying to get through the gate. He’s long front legs and muzzle fell through the bars, the rest of his body slammed against the metal frame. The gate violently shook but held. The werewolf tried repeatedly, hitting the gate harder and harder as his frustrations rose.

The other werewolves had been pacing around, waiting for the first to break through the gate. They moved in and out of the moonlight, like black ghosts. However, they soon got bored of waiting and began throwing themselves at the gate too. Jaws snapping, claws scrapping, legs flaying and their desperate snarling and howls crying out.

Lottie, fear totally over coming her, screamed and threw herself down to the floor. She tried to get up, but the nightdress was twisted around her legs. Tears of pain and fear wet her eyes. Lottie screamed again louder then before, knowing the noise would awake someone in the house.

Outside, Lottie heard the gate continue to shake and the werewolves, snarling and trying to scramble through.

Finding her feet, Lottie crossed the rug covered floor and opened the door. Light from a left on gas lamp in the hallway stung her eyes and she took a moment. Going over, she stood in the glow and tried to calm herself down.

The swinging of a door opening made her jump and Lottie looked up the corridor to see a bobbing candle in the darkness.

‘Who’s that? Lottie?’ her older brother’s voice asked.

‘Yes. It’s me, John,’ Lottie answered, her voice sounding breathless, ‘there’s werewolves at the front gate!’

‘What?’ John cried and he hurried over to her.

‘I couldn’t sleep, so I looked outside and they saw me!’ Lottie explained.

John rushed into her bedroom, his bare footsteps loud.

Lottie peered around the door frame after him and watched as her brother came to a stop at the window and swore loudly.

Turning away, John came back to her, ‘go to mother’s room. Lock the door and stay there together.’

Lottie nodded and hurried away. She ran along the corridors, her night dress flying out behind her. A few gas lamps lit her way but Lottie knew how to get to her mother’s room without being able to see the way. Up a small staircase and she was there, knocking on her mother’s door, declaring herself and begging entrance.

Her mother, Isabella, opened the door, candle in hand and the light dancing off her loose, long golden hair. Lottie rushed in, closing and locking the heavy wooden door behind her.

‘There’s werewolves outside!’ Lottie shouted.

‘Do your father and brothers know?’ her mother questioned.

Lottie shook her head, ‘Just John knows. He told me to come here, tell you and for us to stay here together.’

‘We should prepare for attack,’ Isabella said, ‘Let’s light candles and the fire. Then get dressed.’

They moved away from the door. Lottie went to the fireplace and began stacking coal and wood on top of the ashes all ready there. Her mother began lighting candles around the room. 

‘Shouldn’t we go to the cellar?’ Lottie asked.

‘There is a passageway from here to there, under the trapdoor by the window.’ 

‘Like in my bedroom?’

‘Yes. Your grandfather’s idea after that horrible night when werewolves got in and roamed through the house,’ Isabella spoke.

‘They killed grandma, uncle William who was only four years old and two maids,’ Lottie picked up, the story having been burned into her memory from the countless retelling of it, ‘the butler’s son, dad’s butler now, has bad scars from trying to protect the other servants.’

‘And it’s how your father lost his  left foot,’ Isabella finished.

Lottie nodded, ‘they trapped all the werewolves in the East wing and burnt it to the ground.’

‘And ever since then, your grandfather and father have trained everyone how to prepare and defend themselves from werewolf attacks; how to fire a gun and fight with a knife. Even you, my only daughter, despite my wishes, have been taught all of that too.’

‘I know,’ Lottie said quietly as she finished setting up the firewood.

She lit a match, placed it into the fireplace and watched the flames quickly beginning to burn the wood. Lottie stood up and joined her mother in the middle of the room. They hugged tightly and her mother kissed her forehead.

A gun shot rang out, followed by shouting men’s voices.

Lottie jumped, gasping and turning towards the door.

‘Let’s get dressed,’ her mother cried as she grabbed Lottie’s hand and pulled her towards the wardrobe.

Yanking open the doors, Isabella pushed through all her dresses and to the back of the wardrobe. She pulled out two sets of men’s clothing; shirts, large travelling jackets, trousers, long woollen socks and knee length leather boots.

Helping each other, they dressed quickly then tied their long hair up in buns.

Then from underneath her bed, Isabella pulled out a rifle, two pistols, ammunition; sliver bullets, and four daggers. They were just like the ones Lottie had under her bed.

Isabella handed her daughter the two pistols and two of the daggers, without saying anything but with a determined look set on her face.

Lottie put one of the daggers in each boot then loaded the pistols and placed them with the rest of the ammunition in the deep pockets of the jacket. Her mother did everything the same.

Ready for anything, they sat down on the bed facing the door and listened to the sounds of fighting raising from the front of the house. Gun shots, male cries and shouts mingled with the howling, snarling and painful cries of the werewolves.

A few minutes later, they heard the clattering of claws across bare floorboards, snarling, snapping of jaws and sniffing from underneath the door. Then the door shook as something huge hit it.

‘Get behind the bed,’ Isabella whispered, nudging Lottie.

The girl did as she was told, drawing the pistols and the ammo from her pockets. Whilst her mother stood up, cocked the rifle and aimed it at the door which was badly shaking as the werewolf tried to get in. The wood began splitting, cracking around a hole in the middle and a large black nose followed by a grey muzzle poked through.

Isabella stood her ground, the butt of the rifle against her shoulder, her eyes fixed along the top of the barrel. Her finger brushed the trigger, waiting for the right moment to fire.

The first werewolf from before burst through the door, using the force of it’s body to break through the hole. Bits of wood flew everywhere and the chaos, Isabella fired.

The shot was loud, deafening herself and Lottie, there was a burst of flame followed by smoke and the werewolf let out a painful cry but didn’t go down. Instead, he leapt through the air and before she could get away, the werewolf landed on Isabella pinning her to the bed.

Lottie screamed, got up and fired at the werewolf without aiming. Both bullets hit the werewolf’s bent neck and sank in deep. The werewolf growled deeply, showing off blood stained teeth, froth dripped from it’s mouth and the werewolf moved up onto of Isabella, trying to reach over to snap at Lottie.

Isabella punched the werewolf’s stomach, grappled the beast and rolled onto the floor with him. Disappearing out of Lottie’s sight. Snarls and her mother’s cries rose, claws and boots scrapped across the floor. Isabella tried to grab one the daggers in her boots but her hands were full of fur as she tried to keep the werewolf’s mouth away from her face.

Shaking, Lottie dashed around the bed and aimed the pistols again. However, she realised that she couldn’t fire as her mother was wrestling with the werewolf and the risk of shooting her was too great. Lottie held her ground, her mind running through everything she could possible do.

Lottie dropped the pistols, pulled the daggers from her boots and waited until the werewolf was on top of her mother. Then Lottie jumped on top of the werewolf, bring the sliver daggers down into the werewolf’s fur. The blades slide into the skin then the body of the beast, going right up to the hilt.

The werewolf let out an anguish cry and twisted to the side. Lottie didn’t let go of the daggers in time and the werewolf fell on top of her. Lottie kicked with both legs, used the force to pull the daggers free then plunged them down to the side of the werewolf before he could get up again. There was a crack of rib bones as the blades drove in and the werewolf’s head snapped around and he’s teeth closed around Lottie’s lower leg.

Lottie screamed in pain then gun shots from the pistols rang out. The werewolf twitched then became still, the jaws loosing on Lottie’s leg. The werewolf’s blood pooled across the floor.

Isabella dragged Lottie away and towards the trap door then down the hidden passageway and into the cellar. Lamps and candles were all ready burning down here and all the female servants were gathered around makeshift beds or the old dinning room table.

Upon seeing their mistresses, the servants hurried to help and hear the tale of the fight. The leather boot and woollen socks had saved Lottie’s leg which was badly bruised but thankfully the skin hadn’t been broken. Once it had been cleaned and treated, Lottie rested in one of the beds and fell asleep.

Voices woke her later and Lottie found that all the men had joined them in the cellar. she listened to some of their talk but finally, she rose and asked, ‘what happened?’

Her mother, father and three brothers turned towards her.

‘It’s over,’ her father replied, ‘we killed them all.’

‘Thank God,’ Lottie answered.

‘And you,’ John spoke, ‘if you hadn’t been awake and seen them at the gate we wouldn’t have had enough time to fight them.’

‘And you fought so bravely against the werewolf that attack us,’ Isabella added.

‘Yes. All the training paid off,’ Lottie said, ‘I’m glad it’s over now.’

 

 

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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.

Raindrops On Glass #TwitteringTales

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He only came when it rained, coming off the moors to seek shelter. I would sat in the library’s window box, reading by gas lamps. I would try to ignore the sounds of him moving around. I had nothing else to say to him nor him to me. We were ghosts to each other.

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2018/07/31/twittering-tale-95-raindrops-on-glass-31-july-2018/ with thanks).

Out Of Control #TaleWeaver

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Police Constable Williams surveyed the scene then slightly lifted his heavy black helmet to scratch his thinning brown hair. He had worked this beat for so long, he knew it like the contents of his house. All the people were like old friends and he had a good thing going with all the factory owners.

This though….This was just something Williams didn’t know what to do about. He wrapped his fingers around the handle of his cool wooden police baton, feeling comforted by the familiarity of the weapon. Then, he looked again, trying hard to understand what his eyes were seeing.

In the middle of the busy cobblestone main street was the wreckage of an iron steam engine train. The front was wedged into the upturned pavement, the body angled up to the building above and the coal truck behind flatted against the wall. The start of the first carriage could be above, balanced on the edge but trapped in place by the coal truck. The wheels and pistons were still moving, though the train was clearly going no where.

Bricks and wood planks of the ruined factory which the train had fallen out of, lay scattered everywhere. Grey steam curled for the train’s funnel and there was the smell of burning coal and fire. People were gathered in the protection of the other buildings, looking in horror and shock. Shouts and screams echoed the Wiliams’ ears.

The sound of a police whistle brought the Williams back and he moved carefully closer to the wreckage looking to see if anyone needed assistance. He could not see much due to the raising dust and steam. The noise of the train’s wheels and pistons were loud and blocked out anybody’s cries for help.

‘Constable!’ a voice called.

Williams turned as a young man dressed in a black police uniform hurried over then stopped as he saw the unreal scene.

‘I don’t know what happened,’ Williams answered the unasked question, ‘just fetch some more help will you!’

The young constable nodded and turned away.

Running footsteps from the opposite direction caused Williams to try and appear around the steam train. Out of the mess came a group of men dressed in simple working factory clothes; dirty white shirts, black trousers, leather waist coats, gloves, flat caps and goggles.

‘It was an accident!’ one of the man cried.

Williams recognised him as Thomas Smith, the oldest son of the factory’s owner.

‘A likely story,’ Williams muttered.

‘She just shot forward and there was nothing we could do,’ Thomas explained with some wild hand gestures.

‘And what exactly where you doing?’ Williams demanded.

‘Well, we were-‘

A short man, Williams thought was called Henry Pitcher, nudged Thomas in the ribs, making him stubble over his words and go silent.

‘It’s top secret, sir!’ Henry declared loudly.

‘Well, it’s not very secret now is it,’ Williams said, pointing at the train, ‘answer me, what in the devil’s name is going on!’

‘We just experimenting…’ Thomas came back in, ‘we have all the correct permissions. I can show you.’

Williams cocked an eyebrow, not sure he truly believed that. He had had issues with this group of men before and there ‘experiments.’ It had only been little disturbances before though but they had really landed themselves in trouble.

‘That’ll be proven,’ Williams muttered, ‘can you turn that thing off?’ he asked.

The men looked up at the stream train, the wheels and pistons were still going, steam was still blowing and the sound of the gears was growing deafening.

‘Not sure,’ Henry shouted, ‘we’d have to get up there and try turning things off but the coal will have to burn out before we can really do anything.’

‘It might be too dangerous,’ another man spoke out.

Williams would just have to take his word for it, he didn’t know anything about this new metal monsters, just that he was keen on them.

‘Well, I guess we’ll have to try and get it down,’ Williams mused.

‘Leave it to us, sir,’ Thomas said and the men started to scatter around the steam train.

Soon enough, other police arrived and the crowd had grown larger. Some plan was put in place and with the strength of many men and horses, the train pistons were stopped and whole thing was lowered on to it’s side in the street. The coal truck was also lowered but it was too crushed to be saved.

The night was arriving and with the loss of light they had to stop. Williams lent against the wall of the building next door. It had been along day and he was ready for bed. He looked up and spotted an airship flying low above the roof tops of London, parting through the clouds.

Williams started walking home, thinking; I do not know this world anymore, everything is changing too fast. I guess I had better change with it then.  

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2018/06/21/tale-weaver-176-june-21st-trains/ with thanks).

Not There #writephoto

There was someone on the stairs. I pointed at the strange dark shape and said one of the few words I could, ‘ogog!’ Look!

Nanny didn’t pause but carried on taking me upstairs in her arms.

I pointed again, waving my hand more and wiggling against her. I had a bad feeling about the dark figure that was coming out before us. I cried  and tried saying whatever I could but Nanny hushed me and held my waving hand.

We passed the ‘shadow man’ and I felt a cold wave like a winter wind brushing against me. I think I saw a smile on the face, but it was hard to make out. Then the coldness and the man was gone. I twisted and looked over Nanny’s shoulder but there was nothing on the stairs.

And that was how it all began.

It was strange for a child to avoid their nursery but I always tried too. I hated going up the stone staircase to the attic at the top where my toys were because I knew on the tenth step lived the shadow man. It always felt icy cold on that step, day or night, summer or winter.

Nobody believed me about him. Nanny said it was my imagination. My maid, Martha, told me it was just shadows. The housekeeper, Mrs Williams, claimed it was a drift coming from the window. My father declared it was a trick of the light. My mother scoffed then ignored me again as she always did.

So, I stopped talking about him and tried to ignore him too. It was hard because he always seemed to be there. I would have to climb the staircase at some point during each day; after lunch or after my lessons or when my mother had a party and she didn’t want me to be seen.

Pausing at the bottom, I gather the long puffy skirt of my dress and the white underskirt up to reveal the matching colour satin or silk slippers before climbing. Sometimes someone else would be with me; Nanny, Martha or Mrs Williams but as I got older they would send me alone.

On the ninth step, I would stop and look at the tenth. There was nothing making it different from all the other twenty-one steps but in the shadows next to the banister a darker shape lingered there. If I stayed long enough, I’d be able to make out the figure of a man. He was taller then father, dressed in a suit and had long hair tied back with a ribbon. His other features were harder to make out; his face was blurred by black mist but he had eyes, a nose and a mouth that always smiled at me.

I plunged through the coldness, holding my breath then raced up the rest of the stairs. At the top, I would peer down but there was never anything there. I would go into the nursery, close the door and try to play with my dolls, rocking horse, tea-set and jigsaw puzzles. When I grew bored or tried, I would climb into the window box and read one of my many books. Until Nanny or Martha would come up to either lit the lamps or take me to bed.

He would be there, awaiting on the tenth step. Stronger outlined in the night but still blurred and blending with the shadows. He would watch me and smile. I tried not to look but I knew what he was doing all the same. He never did anything else but I think that’s what made me most afraid of him. I hoped he was just stuck there with no power, but who was to really know?

Long after I left my parents house, got married, moved into a new house and had children of my own, the shadow man still haunted me. Who was he? What did he want? When I could not sleep or was bored, I would try to find out but I never got any answers.

Then one day my daughter pointed something out on the stairs leading to the nursery. I looked and saw the shadow man standing on the tenth step, awaiting us.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/05/03/thursday-photo-prompt-ascent-writephoto with thanks).

Xyst #atozchallenge

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Xyst; a garden walk planted with trees. 

Escaping from the tea party, I made my way to the tree walk away. It was a place right at the back of the gardens that had been left naturally wild, once my great-great grandfather had finished having the trees planted. His original plan had been to make a wooded area for hunting in but the horses had struggled with the undergrowth and trees.

There had been so many plans over the years to clear the area and make it something else; another ordered garden, a vegetable patch for the servants, a summer house. The tree walk though was too far out to be much use for any of that, plus there’d always been the matter of the cost of it. I, though was grateful that the tree walk had been left alone and was still wild.

Leaving the neatly racked path, I stepped onto a single dirt track and disappeared into the shadows of the trees. Breathing deeply, I left the constraints of the tea party behind me. I was never very good at remembering my manners, sipping my tea and only nibbling at a sliver of cake. It was especially bad today as we had male guests and I didn’t do well when there were handsome men around!

It was best to stay away and let my mother and sisters deal with such things. Mother was determined to marry us all off before the eldest- Elizabeth now twenty three- turned twenty five. At which point, mother believed the possibility of marriage was low. I did not share that view. Perhaps it was my romantic fifteen year old nature but I wanted to believe there was going to be more to my life then marriage and children.

I let my fingers brush against the rough tree trunks and over grown grass. There was no need to be lady-like in this garden. Overhead, the birds sing of spring in a deep blue sky and the warm breeze promised summer. The scent of flowers and earth hugged the air, making me happy. Following the path, I reached the little wooden bridge over the shallow river that created a boarder to our land.

I lent over, watching the water flowing below. I liked the gentle rushing and bubbling noises. Also, it reminded me that when we had been children, we would throw sticks off the bridge and see who’s came through the other side first. This had been our secret garden; six girls just being children and escaping the pressure of adulthood.

How I wanted things to go back to those days! Being carefree and happy with only the distance shadows of a future out of our control. I sighed and wondered how much longer I could stay away. I should have pretended to have a headache or feel faint but then I would have had to go indoors. I wish I could just hide in here for the rest of my life but one can not escape one’s destiny.

I gathered the pale blue skirts of my afternoon dress and checked them for mud. Mother would not be happy if I returned unclean. Thankfully, it had been dry for a good few days now. Brushing the soft fabric off, I walked back to whatever was awaiting me.

Woodland #writephoto

I watched the rain and the sun through the oak tree’s branches and leaves. There was going to be a rainbow somewhere but I didn’t care to look for it. Wiping the tears from my face, I wonder how this had all happened to me. How could I have misread the signs of his affections? All along he had wanted my younger sister!

The oak’s trunk was damp and rough at my back, I had been ignoring the discomfort but now I eased off the tree. I looked at my muddy shoes and skirts. it would be hard to hide them when I returned. I gazed around the woods but no solutions came to my foggy mind.

I should go back to the house but they were all there celebrating the engagement. How was I ever going to face him again? I couldn’t call him out on it, he would deign it. So, I had to live with this the rest of my life; the man I loved, married to my sister and lost to me forever.

 

(inspired by https://scvincent.com/2018/01/25/thursday-photo-prompt-woodland-writephoto/ with thanks).

Christmas Eve

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The moon shone of the freshly fallen snow, making it sparkly like diamonds. The little girl sighed and felt the chilly night air deep in her lungs. She should be home, safely tugged in bed, waiting for Father Christmas to arrive, but she wasn’t.

The train station platform the girl stood on was empty expect for her and her mother. They were waiting for the midnight train which was bringing father back to them. Huddled in her new white cloak, the girl looked up at the clear sky and full moon. A shadow in shape she recognised passed by and she pointed excitedly upwards; it was Father Christmas in his sled!

The sound of a train broke the silence as it pulled into the station, black smoke pluming through the air. There was a hiss of steam and squeal of wheels as the train stopped before them. The girl clutched her mother’s skirts and half hide behind her.

The handful of carriage doors opened and only a few people got out. The girl saw her father coming towards her and broke into a run, tugging her mother to do the same. They embraced, all hugging each other and talking at once.

Safe in the arms of her parents, the little girl looked to the sky once more and thanked Father Christmas for the best present she could have asked for.

Child

It was time. Elisabeth knew she had to do it, but she just didn’t know if she’d find the strength. Standing just inside the nursery room, she looked around and took in all the bright and pretty toys. There were so many things!

In pride of place was the dappled rocking horse with all his red leather tack. The doll’s house took up the left far corner, under the curtained window. The red bricked front tightly shut away, but inside was wonderful collection of fully fitted rooms for the china dolls to roam through.

There were soft toys and wooden toys gathered about. Books on a small bookshelf and other child size furniture; a desk, a chair, a sofa. A tea set all laid out on a circle table and dolls seated at the chairs as if they were really about to take tea. Everything was ready to be played with and you could almost hear the voices and laughter of children on the air.

Elisabeth sigh and thought about what should have been. She dropped her head and turned from the room. Her dark blue dress rustling about her. Her eyes caught those of the elderly housekeeper, who was waiting with dust sheets and the ring of house keys.

‘My Lady,’ the housekeeper spoke, ‘it will be open again before you know it.’

Elisabeth held her head high, trying not to show any of her grief. She swept passed the woman and went along the corridor and up the next flight of stairs to her room. Once there and with the door locked behind her, Elisabeth sank onto the bed and crumpled a child’s nightdress into her lap.

Tears began falling, thick and fast. Elisabeth buried her face into the nightdress and cried until exhausted, she lay down in bed and fell asleep.

 

(Inspired by: https://scvincent.com/2017/04/27/thursday-photo-prompt-child-writephoto/ with thanks)

Postcard #29

black-and-white, boat, mountains

 

My Dearest Darling,

It’s stormy weather again, I’m afraid. Seems every time I decide to come home it happens! Of course, this is the only communication I can find. God damn this island! I hope this note reaches you. I’ve sent my best bird with it. I would suggest waiting until it’s calm to send him back. My research into the new plants isn’t going well. The weather doesn’t help, but it seems the animals here have a liking for the flowers too!

To be honest I’m thinking of cutting this project short and returning to you. I miss you too much to be a part for any longer. Even in the name of Science! As soon as this storm clears up I shall return to you. Perhaps it’s about time I let this hobby go for it’s causing us nothing but trouble!

All the best, Your One And Only.