Cancelled #FridayFictioneers

In the wedding room white table cloths hung like ghosts and the napkins sat like sugar cones. The champagne was still in the fridge but most of the other food had been thrown out.

Everything was set up, the preparations done; the dried flowers on the tables with the candles. Fairy lights along the windows for a magical twinkle effect. Along the wall, the DJ stand waited to spin the records whilst on the dance floor only the dust motes twirled.

Silence roamed the room broke only by bird song and the wind blowing outside. There should have been music, talking and laughter but it was an empty celebration now.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2020/04/29/1-may-2020/ with thanks).

Non-Fiction Announcement; Merry Christmas!

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Hi everyone, December is finally here and soon another year will be over!

Merry Christmas to you all and thank you for supporting my writing this year.

My goal for 2020 is to reach 1,000 followers.

I currently have over 700, so I know it’s achievable. Please help me by sharing my blog so I can reach as many new followers as possible. This achievement would make me so happy. Thank you for your help in advice.

On a side note; please don’t worry if some days are missing short stories. December of course is a busy month for everyone!

Also, I still have an eye infection from last month and I’m currently starting with a cold. I have a weak immune system and I’m on a immune suppressant medication. So some days, I’m just too ill to write, so please bear with me during those days.

I do have a few other goals for 2020 but only one of them is blog related; I want to launch a new blog about my long term health condition. I have put this off for years because it’s one of those ’embarrassing’ conditions and I’ve never been sure about how I feel about sharing things but I really want to do it as I think it’ll help myself and other people. I’ll be posting links when I launch it in the new year.

One of my other goals is not to buy any books and put that money and some more into saving for my wedding. – I buy books like other women buy clothes, shoes, handbags etc! I have a huge reading pile that will see me through 2020 if not 2021! So no more books for now. Going to be so hard but I need to save for my wedding and that’s super important.

I won’t bore you with the other goals and this post is too long all ready!

I hope you have a great December and continue to enjoy my stories.

Thanks again, Hayley .R. Hardman.

Lorn (Part 2) #AtoZChallenge

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Lorn; lost, ruined or undone. 

The stairs looked forbidding, so Caleb and Beth climbed up slowly and gingerly. Beth had left the books on the doorstep, ready to collect when they left. Some of the stairs railings looked like they had been gnawed by rodents, making the banister unstable.

They found the rooms in better shape up here. The bathroom, four beds and the en-suit hadn’t been touched by the flood but the vandals and squatters had been here. The bath, toilet and sink had been smashed up; cream porcelain chucks covered a chequered lino floor and water stains dotted the wall like a painting.

The first bedroom – possibly Grandpa’s room was mess of clothes, bedding and bits of furniture. The wooden bed was broken, the remains against the wall. Two double mattress were on the floor, blankets draping over. Someone had patched the broken windows with newspaper and old fabric.

‘Let’s spend time looking for things,’ Beth said.

Not giving voice to his disappointment, Caleb nodded and warned her, ‘look out for glass and needles. Who knows what was going on here.’

‘I’ll be careful,’ Beth answered.

The searched the room and found some coins, empty beer cans, food wrappers and a few photographs. The clothes weren’t worth going through. It seemed the house had really been robbed out.

‘Recognise anyone?’ Beth asked, sharing the photos with Caleb.

He shook his head, ‘no. Maybe they were Grandpa’s but I don’t know.’

‘Do you want them or not?’

‘No,’ Caleb answered and turned away.

He went into the next room which was a smaller bedroom. There were three single beds squished in, clothes heaped on the floor, rubbish in the corners and the smashed window letting all the elements in. On a bedside table, was a pile of used cigarettes, ash scattered about.

Caleb went in, just to check but there was nothing of Grandpa here. He meet Beth in the doorway and they moved on to the next two bedrooms. At some time, they had been children’s rooms going off the old wallpaper which was mostly torn away. Like the first two rooms, people had been sleeping in here but Grandpa had been using them as storage and there were a few boxes to look through, though they weren’t the first to do so.

‘More books,’ Beth said about the first box.

‘Any be saved?’ Caleb called.

‘Possible. Let’s take them. What’s in that one?’

‘A tea set…Some of it anyway. Few bits of smashed. Next one…’ Caleb trailed as he looked through another box, ‘videos.’

‘Same in this one too,’ Beth laughed, ‘and some music tapes….Your Grandpa liked sixties rock and country. Irish ballads?’

‘No idea,’ Caleb spoke, ‘there’s some photo albums here. They look okay and a school year book….Let’s take this box.’

‘Finally one,’ Beth pointed out, she moved over and opened it, ‘things wrapped in news paper…..oh, it’s horse!’

Beth held up a porcelain horse and Caleb crossed the room to look. Removing the rest of the yellowed newspaper, Beth passed him the brown and white horse. Then she picked up another wrapped form and peeled back the newspaper.

‘This one’s a shire horse. Look at the leather stuff, he’s ready to pull a cart!’

‘Do you want them?’ Caleb asked, running a finger over the cold, smooth face of the horse.

‘Sure,’ Beth said.

‘Let’s check theses drawers and wardrobe.’

There was only a few items of clothes, shoes and children’s toys. Caleb pulled a teddy dog out and turned it over in his hands. He didn’t recognise it, so put it back.

In the next room, they found more books and children’s toys. They saved the books and got ready to leave.

‘I forgot about about the attic,’ Caleb said soon after they had brought all the boxes they were taken down to the front door.

‘Where is it?’ Beth asked, looking back up the darkening staircase.

Caleb went back up and stood on the landing. He looked along the ceiling for a few moments the pointed out the almost hairline rim of the attic door, ‘there!’ he said.

‘Can you get up?’ Beth asked.

‘I’ll need a ladder….Maybe a neighbours got one,’ Caleb wondered, he came back downstairs, ‘you load the car and I’ll go and ask around.’

‘Okay…but don’t take too long, it’s getting late.’

They kissed, Caleb give her the car keys then headed out. Beth began moving the boxes and loading them into the back of the car. Soon after she had finished, Caleb appeared with a ladder and a middle aged man in tow. He had a grey, balding head, a rough covering of beard and worry lines on his face. His hands and body showed the lifestyle of a construction worker. He was wearing dirty jeans and an old blue t-shirt.

‘This is, Reggie,’ Caleb said.

‘Hi,’ Beth greeted the man.

‘We’ll go up. Why don’t you wait out here?’

‘No, it’s okay. I might be able to help.’

They went back inside. Reggie helped with the ladder then Caleb lifted the attic door and shone the torch from his phone inside.

‘Oh wow, it’s packed up here!’ Caleb called down, ‘looks untouched too. I guess no one was able to get up here. Okay, I’m going in.’

‘Be careful!’ Beth called.

‘I shall be. Here, let me pass stuff down.’

Together, the three of them emptied the attic. There were cardboard and plastic boxes filled with books, photos, film, bric-a-bric antiques, papers, two landscape oil paintings, old toys, including a collection of metal cars, a small stuff rocking horse that had seen better days, a sixties recorder player and some other things.

‘There were treasures in this house after all,’ Beth cried.

‘Some of this stuff could be worth a bit,’ Reggie stated as he inspected one of the paintings which showed a river going though a forest with a herd of deer coming for a drink.

‘Beth! Look at this!’ Caleb yelled.

‘What is it?’

‘My grandparents wedding stuff! Their clothes and photos. Wow! This is amazing. Here, I’m going to pass it all down.’

Excitedly, Caleb passed Beth and Reggie a huge white box and another that was black. Then a battered cardboard box, over flowing with dusty fake flowers, photo albums and other things.

Beth took the lid off the white box and couldn’t believe her eyes. Folded inside was a lacy white wedding dress from the fifties with a huge veil laying on top.

‘I can’t believe this survived,’ Beth uttered.

‘The old man probably wanted to forgot all about it,’ Reggie cut in, ‘from what I remember, she died young.’

Reggie handed her a loose photo which showed a  veiled bride sitting in the back of a Rolls Royce.

‘What happened?’ Beth asked.

‘Some disease. She was only like in her thirties.’

‘That’s sad.’

Reggie nodded then Caleb yelled there were some more boxes and they got back to work.

The attic was soon empty and Caleb climbed back down, ‘thanks for your help, Reggie.’

‘No probs. Be nice to see this place fixed up and lived in again. Those yobs made a right mess,’ Reggie said.

‘Yeah. The builders are coming tomorrow and hopefully, things will be better,’ Caleb explained.

‘I can’t believe all of this was still up there!’ Beth gasped, she had been looking through some of the boxes, ‘how are we going to fit it all in the car?’

‘I’ll give you a hand,’ Reggie said.

They loaded the car up, just about fitting everything in. They said goodbye to Reggie and watched him taking his ladder back across the road to his house.

Caleb then turned and looked at his Grandpa’s house.

‘You okay?’ Beth asked.

Caleb nodded, ‘just feeling bit tried.’

‘Same. Let’s get back to the apartment, unload all of this and get take out for dinner.’

‘Then tomorrow, we’ll be back to see the start of things.’

‘I’m sure it’s what your Grandpa wanted,’ Beth said and put her hand on Caleb’s shoulder, ‘he wouldn’t have left everything to you otherwise. I’m sure he was proud of you, despite everything. But none of that was your fault.’

‘I know,’ Caleb said quietly, ‘it was my drug addict teenage mum.’

Beth squeezed his shoulder but didn’t say anything else.

Caleb started the car and they drove away into the evening light.

Invitation #WritePhoto

It was a last stab at things. Pulling up outside the gates, I looked at my Sat Nav telling me I had reached my destination. The scene around me looked like something out of The Secret Garden. There were trees and bushes growing wild, moss covering everything, a sense of abandonment and wild beauty.

I got out the car and smelt the air, it was fresh this afternoon and flowers were just being to open. I went to the wooden gate, there were no signs or locks, it opened easily enough. The stone pillars ether side were badly weathered and moss covered, but some of the carved designs could still be seen.

I turned the stone, felt coldness and grit under my fingers. I questioned if I was in the right place. Maybe this was just a decorative gate that led nowhere? Just like the single track lane I was now standing on. I wouldn’t know if I didn’t walk on.

I stepped through the gates and with difficult walk down a half hidden path which was really over grown. Once through, I came out at the bottom of a field? I looked and realised it was actually a huge lawn which rolled down a hill on top of which sat a large looking manor house.

There was no path now, so I trekked up the lawn and arrived breathless and sweating at the side of the house. Catching my breath, I really hoped there was a better way up to this place. Scaling all of that in my wedding dress wasn’t going to be good!

I walked around and came to the front of the house. There were large, flat white steps leading up to a double wooden door in a archway and other side were massive vases of flowers. It was a perfect place for wedding party photos.

The driveway was huge, a half circle with lots of parking and there were a few cars all ready here. There were open iron gates at the end, leading to a wide road which seemed to fade under the trees.

I heard the door opening behind me and I turned feeling guilty and nervous as if I had been caught doing something. I tried to stay calm as a woman in her mid-to late forties, wearing a very fitted business suit and greying hair tight in a bun, came out of the house.

‘Miss Sadie Laker?’ she asked.

I nodded.

‘Mrs Rose Crompton,’ she announced and came down the steps to meet me.

We shook hands and I felt more at ease. We had spoken on the phone yesterday, Rose was the manager of the house and a descendent of the current owners who’s family had lived here for three hundred odd years.

‘Did you find the place okay?’ Rose asked.

‘Yes. It looks so perfect,’ I spoke, ‘thank you for this. You’ve saved my wedding day.’

‘It’s all fine,’ Rose said, waving my words away like dust, ‘it was lucky we had a cancellation! Unlike you though and your venue being double booked, the couple decided not to go through with things.’

‘Shame.’

There was a pause and I knew she was staying at me but I didn’t know what else to say.

‘Where is your car?’ Rose asked me, ‘you didn’t walk all the way up here from the road did you?’

‘Erm, no. I think I missed the turning and came through a side entrance,’ I explained.

‘Ah. I think there’s something in your hair….’

I touched my hair, embarrassment flaring and pulled out a few leaves.

Rose smiled and turned back to the house.

I crumpled the leaves, let them fall and joined her going up the steps.

The rooms for the wedding where lovely, actually lots better then the venue I had chosen originally. By the time I left, I know my dream wedding was going to happen two weeks today. Trekking back to my car, there was only one thing left to do now; resend the wedding invitations with the new venue address on them.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/02/28/thursday-photo-prompt-invitation-writephoto/ with thanks).

Frame #TwitteringTales

I saw the small photo frame in a charity shop and decided it would do to put in the wedding gift box. I was determined not to spend the small fortune my sister was demanding people did on presents. I had my own wedding to save up for as well.

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2018/11/05/twittering-tales-109-6-november-2018/ with thanks).

Jayus #atozchallenge

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Jayus; a joke so poorly told and unfunny that you can’t help but laugh. 

Nerves got the better of him, he stumbled over the joke’s words and messed up the punch line.

White

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She stared out of the window, unsure if she could go ahead with this. She loved him more then everything and it felt right when they were together but were they really ready for this? Taking a few deep breathes helped calm the butterflies in her stomach. It was time.

 

Snow Fall #FridayFictioneers

Looking out of my window, I was surprised to see deep snow covering the street. It was early in the morning, so the streetlamps were making the falling flakes sparkle. Frowning, I wondered how unpredictable snowstorms were. No one had said anything about this and though a few people would be happy, I wouldn’t be.

My wedding was in a few hours. The idea of cancelling, drifted into mind but it was impossible. Rain would be worse, I told myself and at least the wedding photos will look really pretty. It was hard to feel sure though.

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2018/02/14/16-february-2018/ with thanks).

Will She?

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When he saw the ring in the shop window he knew it would be perfect. Now all he had to hope was that she’d say yes.

Hen Party

Cocktails, Summer, Beverages, Silhouettes, Black, Red

Sasha was surprised her bridesmaids hadn’t blindfolded her before they had bundled into the taxi together. Rearranging the skirt of her red and black patterned dress before Amelia sat on it, Sasha bumped her shoulder into the car window. Pulling a face in pain, she watched her other bridesmaid, Dacey, shoving things into the boot then squeezing into the back seat with them.

‘Did you get everything?’ Amelia hissed, trying to hide her words behind her long brown hair.

Dacey nodded, her golden curls bobbing then shot Sasha a look, ‘It’s all good,’ she muttered.

The taxi driver got in and without a word, drove off. A trickle of India style music played through the speakers and set of beads clicked together around the rear view mirror. A light rain began to fall and he turned the wipers on.

Sasha looked out of the window, faking interested in the passing streets light by early evening sunlight. Secretly though, she listened into her friends hushed voices as they seemed to be double checking things.

‘They should be there when we get there now,’ Dacey was muttering.

‘And the food orders?’ Amelia whispered back.

‘All done.’

‘What about the…erm…ah..?’

Dacey shook her head and put her finger before her red lipstick mouth, ‘don’t worry,’ she uttered and winked.

Nervously, Sasha dropped her eyes from their reflections in the door window and started playing with the rings on her fingers. Her thoughts tumbled with what her best friends had possible planned and she prayed it was not strippers. That was something she firmly didn’t want to face tonight.

The taxi drove into Manchester city centre and the driver weaved around roadworks and traffic with only the skill a taxi driver can have before pulling up outside a bar and restaurant. Sasha looked out at it, but didn’t recognise the name or the view through the long windows. She could see large tables with white candles in glass holders, a front desk like area with a menu and behind it the start of a long bar, light up with large green shaded lights from above.

‘Stay in there a minute,’ Dacey shot over her shoulder as she bounced out, her curls flying everywhere.

Amelia followed her quickly and Sasha heard the clatter of high heels on the pavement and the two girls unpacking the boot. She saw them hurrying inside with things, speaking to a small white bloused and black skirt wearing hostess behind the front desk. Hands and bags waved for a moment then Dacey and Amelia started to hand things over.

Sasha turned away and watched a couple walking by. They were holding hands, talking to each other and smiling. They walked into a pub called The Black Lion a little further up, where a man finishing a cig was hanging by the door.

She noticed the rain getting heavier than the sound of taxi door opening again, drew her back and Amelia waved her out. Struggling, Sasha slide over the seats and got out. She stood on the edge of the pavement, pulled down her dress then excitedly followed Amelia in. The bar was warm and smelt of limes and vodka. There was a small group of people settling into a table beside the window, three men and four women poshly dressed up. Sasha walked further in and saw a larger group of women huddled around a half circle table.

Trying to contain her shock and delight, Sasha was swept up for a few minutes in greeting friends and family. Someone put a cocktail into her hand and she took a well needed drink. Tangy sweet fruit flavours danced on her tongue before she swallowed. Voices rose and fall around her and so did the clinking of glasses. She felt she was in a dream still though.

Totting in her very high heels, she leant against the bar, joining in parts of conversations and welcoming the stragglers. She finished her drink too quickly and placed the glass onto the bar. Amelia appeared at her elbow and ordered another one before Sasha could speak up. Then with that drink pressed into her hand and her mum taking her other one, she was led up the stairs.

Butterflies fluttered madly in her stomach, she had the urge to go to the loo then as she stepped into the private room, she saw a long dining table laid out with purple cloth, candles, wine glasses, cutlery, name cards and the little thank you presents she had made last week. Her breath caught in her throat then her mum led her to the head of the table and she gratefully sat down.

‘What do you think?’ Dacey asked as she rushed over.

Sasha nodded, ‘It’s very nice.’

‘The food’s on its way,’ Amelia added.

The guests circled the table for their seats and began talking with each other whilst inspecting the thank you presents. Sasha tried to take it all in, failed and took a few sips of her cocktail. An old family friend, began chatting to her and she fell easily into conversation.

The wine and food arrived and the air, which before had smelt of flowery soap and candle wax was taking over by the warm scent of chicken, soup and cheese. Sasha tucked in, recalling she’d no lunch and realising how hungry she now was. The starters were great, the mains even better and pudding the best.

After, Sasha sat back and enjoyed watching everyone talking. Then a photo shoot was in order and champagne arrived in small flute glasses to further clutter the table. Sasha posed, feeling like her smile would be glued on her face forever. Sinking back down, she reached for her glass.

Dacey stood up quickly and declared a toast, ‘Thank you all for coming! I just want to wish Sasha a happily ever after!’

Voices repeated Dacey’s words in a dim echo and the champagne was sip.

‘I would like to say thank you too,’ Sasha’s mum spoke up, ‘I’m so proud of my daughter.’

Sasha patted her mum’s arm and thanked her. They touched glasses and had a drink.

‘And now….’ Dacey said and walked quickly over to a large pair of doors that ended the room.

She flung them open and Sasha saw two smiling, half naked men standing there holding plastic bowls full of melted chocolate. They had little black aprons tied about their hips which read Nude Chocolatiers. The one of the left had three tattoos across his chest whilst the other one didn’t. They were both muscular but not overly so and they had short black hair.

Sasha giggled and felt an odd feeling of relief.

‘Hello ladies,’ the man with the tattoos called, ‘I’m Chad and this is Luke. Sadly we are not strippers, but would you like to come and join us in making some chocolate truffles?’

School girl like laughed filled the room and the women moved into the next room to take seats at a new table. This one had been sit up like a cooking school’s kitchen work bench. There were plastic bowls, wooden spoons, grease paper and little pots of cream at each setting.

‘Who’s the bride?’ Chad shouted above the racket.

Fingers and voices shouted and pointed at Sasha.

‘You need to sit here,’ Chad said and helped her into her seat in a very gentleman like way.

‘We’ll get you all drinks,’ Luke added and began taking orders for the bar.

Chad helped him and then the handed out the drinks. When that was sorted, they began to instruct the woman in making truffles.

Sasha didn’t think she had ever laughed so hard. There was chocolate everywhere and the bridesmaids, even though they had boyfriends, were flitting with the Chocolatiers. Even Sasha’s mother-in-law to be, who had been happily married for thirty years, joined in the funny and embarrassed her own daughter with over the top remarks. Sasha was grateful her mum stayed quiet.

Removing chocolate from her fingers afterwards, Sasha decided her bridesmaids had done a good job after all and her trust had been well placed with them.

Dacey declared it was time for drinks and dancing on the roof top garden before dragging Chad along. Amelia grabbed Luke before he could escape and the whole party made its’ up to the roof.

Sasha stepped out of the doorway and took in the scene before her. The roof top was actually turfed with fake grass and lots of plastic grey pathways were cut in leading around and through. Fairy lights hung from small trees and flowering bushes in large plant pots. Solar powered lanterns shone from a top of small wooden tables which chairs and benches were dotted around. A small waterfall was trickling happily in one corner styled like a desert oasis. Luckily, the light rain had stopped and it was a warm night.

Sasha looked over the wall and across Manchester. Lights from the apartment and office buildings shone into the night and she thought she could make out people behind the windows towering above her. Voices, music and cars all travelled on the wind. She took a deep breath, feeling slightly more sober.

This was what I wanted, she thought, everything has been so right for this night.