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.

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Post It Note #40

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The leaves were still falling and it was colder outside. Moulding pumpkins sat outside houses and I wondered why.

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When the tide went out it left the small beach cove layered in seaweed which made it a dangerous place to go for an walk. It was my favorite spotted though because it was empty of people and great for finding items to make my crafts with.

I was walking along the edge, putting interesting bits of wood, shells and other items in my basket. The sea, though distance was still loud as the autumn wind was strong and a drizzle was falling. Letting my raincoat hood fall back, I heard the loud cries of a cat.

Frowning, I followed the sound and a few meters down on the beach I saw a movement of black and heard a strangled cry. Placing down my basket, I carefully walked over the seaweed and slippy rocks. Twice, I felt like I was going to slip but I was able to keep my balance.

From out of a large pile of seaweed rose a small, skinny black cat. He’s huge green eyes focused on me and he’s meows were so pleading it was heartbreaking. I slowly crept closer, but the cat didn’t try to run away, in fact he seemed to be awaiting me. Bit unusual for a cat!

‘Okay, kitty. I’m only here to help you,’ I said gently.

I began taking the long strips of wet seaweed off the cat’s back, thinking at any moment he would do a runner. My fingers touched the cat’s fur and I realised he was soaked through. He meowed at me and kept trying to pulled himself free.

‘How long have been here, cat? Did you decided to take a walk and fell into this seaweed?’ I asked.

He meowed at me some more. I took the last slimy piece off his back then moved on to his legs. Somehow, he’d really got himself wrapped up.  As I untangled a third leg the cat struggled out and shook himself.

‘You’re free now,’ I said with a smile.

The black cat pressed up against me, meowing more softer this time. I stroked his wet head and back. He was so skinny! His tail swayed around, sometimes hitting my leg, I ignored that as I glanced around.

‘Will you let me carry you?’ I asked, ‘just in case you get stuck again?’

Carefully, I picked him up and let him climb up to my shoulder. He pressed his head to my ear and give a low purr. I turned and began making my way back, slowly. It was hard going with just one arm for balance and the sight of a cat blocking my view but we made it back. Just in time for it to start raining.

I grabbed my basket and hurried home. The cat not seeming to mind as he bounced on my shoulder. Entering the  seaside village, I made straight for my shop front then around to the back door which was my front door to my apartment above.  When we got in and up the narrow stairs, I set the cat down then my basket. Taking off my shoes, coat and jumper, I left everything at the front door and went to get a towel.

I dried myself off then the cat. He wasn’t wearing a collar but he was too friendly not to be someone’s pet. Though, I’d not seen a black cat around here, since my own; Web who’d died two years ago. Luckily, I had kept her stuff and I give the black cat a bowl of water and a handful of cat treats that I’d not thrown away yet.

In the coming months, I tried hard to find the cat’s owner, but no one ever came forward to claim him. He made himself at home and was loved by everyone who came into the shop. People also said how fitting it was for a black cat to live in a witch’s shop. I had to agree and some days, I did wonder if he had actually come to me. A witch wasn’t a witch without her black cat familiar!

Oh, I called him Ebb by the way. That seemed kind of fitting.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2017/10/26/thursday-photo-prompt-ebb-writephoto with thanks).

Yellow Day

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It was an overcast morning. The sky was blanketed with heavy strange orange-yellow-grey glowing clouds. Watching them from my study window, I could tell it was going to rain soon. I had been so engrossed in my work on my latest historical book for the last two hours that I hadn’t bothered to turn on the overhead lights or even to look up from my computer screen. If I had done maybe I would have noticed the odd clouds sooner or maybe I wouldn’t have noticed them at all.

Standing up from my chair, slowly so that my old body could take the movement and weight. I hobbled over to the window, leaving my walking stick by my desk. My view changed and I saw those yellow-orange-grey clouds above the roofs of houses and tree tops. Everything looked damp as it had rained before but I’d not noticed. A light wind was blowing the tree branches and the fallen leaves about in a lazy manner. Beside from that everything else looked still.

I frowned at the sky and wonder what was with those clouds. I’d never seen such a strange color. It was if they had been tinted by washed out sunlight or some poisonous toxin. They give off a depressing doom feeling, not like in a horror movie but more a tragic play. Little flecks of rain began to fall, like tiny snowflakes, almost invisible.

A chill went over my skin, rising the flesh in knobbly bumps. Feeling the stiffness growing in my legs, I moved and walked around my small study. The two walls either side were lined with bookcases, holding God only knew how many books. My desk was in the middle and the closed door in the wall opposite the window. Reaching the desk, I lent on it, feeling the aches I had come to know so well ebbing into my limbs.

The phone rang. The shrill crying breaking through my thoughts and pain. I answered it with a shaking hand and breathed deeply down the line.

‘Dad? It’s Emerald. Are you okay?’ my daughter’s voice echoed over the phone.

‘Yes,’ I answered, ‘just the arthritis again. I was sat too long,’ I replied.

Emerald tutted loudly as I shuffled over and sank into my chair. She was daughter number four and always the one who’d been most concerned about me out of the six. I could picture her rolling those sparkling green eyes which my late wife, Pearl, had named her after and fretting with her angel blonde hair. In the background, there were voices; the TV and her two children playing.

‘Listen. Please don’t go outside today,’ she pressed.

‘It does look little odd out there…’ I cut in, eyeing the window and the clouds.

‘The news said it was sand the hurricane winds are bring over from the Sahara. That’s why everything looks so orange-yellow and the air tastes strange,’ Emerald explained as if she was talking to a child.

‘Well, I guess they know more about this then I do. I didn’t have any plans to go out anyway,’ I added.

‘Do you need anything, dad? Do you have enough bottled water and food?’

I glanced around the study as if it could tell me.

‘I’ll go to the shops as soon as I’ve dropped the kids at school and get you somethings,’ Emerald spoke.

‘I guess that would be good of you, sweetheart.’

‘Okay. See you soon. I love you dad, bye.’

‘Bye, Emerald.’

We hung up and after a few seconds of staring at the phone, I got up and went to the window again. This time I took my stick and lent on it. Easing some of the pressure. I opened the window little and looked harder outside. What I thought had been rain before was actually bits of sand and Emerald hadn’t been wrong about the smell. It was hot and dry, like a beach only without the salty sea.

I had been to Egypt once with my parents when I was a child and as that memory came back to me, I decided that there were similarities between today and what it had been like there. I didn’t want to think about that anymore though, so I went back to my desk and found some news stories about storm.

After reading them, I put the PC to sleep and went downstairs, using the chair lift, I hated so much to get there. In the living room, I turned on the TV and opened the curtains. The same sky that had been upstairs greeted me. I turned on the two lamps then watched the news reports. I dozed off for a bit, feeling calm and warm in my favorite chair.

When Emerald arrived, she brought the storm in with her. I must have fully fallen asleep because the heavy rain beating down like fists and the whipping wind hadn’t disturbed me. It was Emerald’s voice shouting out to me above all of that and the creeping autumn cold, like Death’s fingers wrapping around my throat that woke me.

‘Dad? Dad? where are you?’

‘In here, pet,’ I answered.

There was a rustle of bags then she stuck her head around the door.

‘I’m fine,’ I waved her off then began to get up.

Emerald had made a second trip to her car and back to into the kitchen by the time I made it up and in there. She was already unpacking things and placing important items within easy reach.

‘It’s getting worse out there and everyone has gone crazy!’ Emerald said.

I nodded and pulled out a chair to sit down.

‘I got you some more soup and noddles. Theses dried fruits were on offer and two small loafs of bread. I’ll put one in the freezer for you.’

‘Your mother hated frozen bread,’ I muttered.

‘She also hated to be without a loaf,’ Emerald shot back then smiled at me, ‘do you want some tea and lunch?’

‘Yes. That would be nice.’

‘I asked Ruby and Sapphire to check in with you later. If they can’t drop in they’ll phone. Okay?’ Emerald asked.

I nodded, my thoughts going straight to daughters number two and five. It had been a week since I’d seen and spoken to Ruby and three days since Sapphire had called me. One of their birthdays was coming up soon, but I couldn’t remember which. Emerald would know. She had taken over her mother’s place in fussing over me and her sisters.

‘That’s all sorted now. Kettle on and cups, soup in and bread.’ Emerald said to herself.

‘Have you heard from Jade? Didn’t she go to the Sahara?’ I spoke out as the idea came to me. I hadn’t seen my oldest daughter in five years now since my wife’s funeral.

‘I think she did…’ Emerald paused then shrugged, ‘and it’s been a month now. I sent her a few emails and tried to call but she says signal is bad in that part of Australia.’

‘Or maybe that was Topaz,’ I thought aloud.

My third daughter, who lived in America with her husband and five children. They had come to visit two months ago.

‘Well, it wouldn’t have been Opal!’ Emerald came in with as she set two mugs of tea and a plate of toast on the table, ‘I went to see her the other day and she’s doing a lot better now. The doctors said she should be able to go home soon. Though to what I don’t know!’

I picked up my mug with a slight nod of my head. Opal’s life had been nothing but hell. The youngest of my girls she had set herself on a different path from the rest of them and became a drug addict and prostitute. I had written a book about her and it had done quiet well.

‘Maybe, she could move back in with you?’

I shook my head, ‘I like my space and my peace and quiet.’

‘But I worry about you. This house is too big for just you and you need someone to look after you more then ever now,’ Emerald pressed.

This was a conversation I was tried of and I had found it was best just to ignore the topic every time it was brought up. I drink my tea and ate my soup. Emerald filled the silence with chatter about her kids, husband, other family members. I sat in my other thoughts, often looking at the storm building up behind the kitchen window.

When my daughter left, I went back to the living room and put the gas fire on. It was too cold to sit without some warmth. I found a big book to read on Greek myths and legends and with the news on to keep me company and the storm trying to get my attention with it’s rage, I lost myself for awhile.

I must have fallen asleep because I woke slowly into a darken room. Blinking away the dim glow of the lamps, I looked about and checked I was still in the living room. The book was in my lap, the news was still on though the time had changed dramatically and outside I couldn’t see the storm because it was early evening and the rain was too splattered on the glass.

My body groaned and creaked with stiffness and pain, as I got up and went over to the fire place. Turning up the heat, I went around felt the radiators which were all on and warm. I went upstairs, struggled to put on another jumper over my first but managed to do it then went back downstairs. I made myself a large mug of tea and debated what to have for dinner.

Life has to go on in some way, storm or no storm.

 

(Inspired from; http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/orange-sky-storm-ophelia-sahara-13767164)

The Day Before

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The day before the apocalypse happened the weather went crazy. We woke up to dark as night skies and heavy clouds. Rain poured down like I had never seen before and it was like a huge waterfall. Many places were flooded. There was a massive thunderstorm which had people staying inside and those that went out regret it and came home again.

The hailstone fell in sharp bursts, large balls of ice hitting metal like it was dough. Glass smashed, car alarms went off and animals fled underground. The storm rumbled on; bright heavenly flashes of light going off like all the time and the thunder was deafening. The rain turned to snow. Huge flakes sweeping down on gale force winds and covering everything in a white blanket.

People peered out of windows, wondering what was going on. The news was a blur of reports as countries all over the world reported the wildness of storms and weather conditions. The warnings flashed by too; Stay inside! Await rescue! Whole cities swept by freak waves, whole towns buried in snow and the raising death toll.

And I stood by the shelter’s plastic windows, knowing what all this bad weather meant and the fact I couldn’t do anything to stop tomorrow’s rapture sitting heavy on my shoulders.

Hurricane

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It was coming. Atlanta could hear the gale force winds rattling the storm shutters and the rain pelting the roof. She held her breath and hugged her dog, Greg, tighter. He didn’t seem to mind but then he was old and deaf.

They was sat in a small yellow tent set up in the far corner of the cellar. Dim amber fairy lights in the shape stars cast some light down, but it wasn’t enough to do anything by. Atlanta’s didn’t really mind though as long as she wasn’t in the dark.

‘I’m safe. Everything is fine,’ Atlanta muttered.

Every since she had heard about the high chance of the hurricane last week, she had be preparing. All the kitchen and basement cupboards were stocked with bottled water, long life food, matches and extra gas canisters for the camping stove. She had double or triple camping equipment items and a whole range of lighting; battery and candle lanterns, torches and spare candles.

Atlanta picked up her headphones which were top of the range noise cancelling and selected some loud classic music from her ipod.

‘There’s nothing else to do now it’s here,’ she said aloud.

She rubbed Greg’s ears then wrapped herself in a thermal sleeping bag and began waiting out the hurricane.

Post it Note #38

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The weather forecast says there’s a hurricane coming, so please make sure you stock up when you go to the store. Also, board up everything you can and I’ll see you tomorrow night.

Summer Ends

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The sun melted away across the sky and night become ruler once again. Autumn broke the dawn the next day. The wind switched directions, becoming colder and harsher. The leaves began to change colour and fall to the ground whilst the plants started dying.   And just like that summer came to an end just like that.

Storm

It had been threatening for days but now a summer storm was here. We’d picked the worse day for a funeral as the rain was lashing down, the wind whipping and lightening cracking across the doom grey sky. Sitting in the back seat of the car watching this all go by, I thought that actually uncle Arnold would have loved this. It was just the type of thing that would happen to an adventurous man like him.

(Inspired from; https://katmyrman.com/2017/07/18/twittering-tale-41-18-july-2017/ with thanks)

Storm

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It was the worse storm anyone had ever seen. Hurricane winds tore up everything. The rain raged down like an angry heavy metal drummer. Flash floods turned the streets into rivers, sweeping away what the wind had been unable to move. The sea swelled and roared as if Poseidon himself was raising upwards towards the sky. The thunder and lightening clapped together making the very clouds shake, perhaps Zeus was fighting to keep Poseidon down. Whatever was happening, People were sure the Apocalypse had just arrived.