Leaf Pile

maple-leaf-4597501_1920

Raking leaves should have been my son’s job, just as it was mine as a kid. However, my son is gone and has been for twenty-three years. He had been ten years old, a boy full of life which had been cut short.

I pause in my raking, leaning on the smooth wooden pole as I get my breath back. Looking up at the left front window of my house, I see my wife standing there. She is stroking her short white hair, her mouth moving as she speaks but her eyes are not watching me, they are staring into the distance.

The dementia has her mind in a tight grip of late and some days she doesn’t know who she is. In my heart I know she doesn’t have much longer to live but I can’t let her go. I wave at her and get no response back. She carries on playing with her hair and speaking either to herself or to someone she thinks is there but has long since passed away.

Getting back to work, I pull the dry leaves together into a pile, freeing the grass from the quilt blanket the leaves create. I wouldn’t burn them but put them on the composed heap to be used in planting my show flowers in the spring. Garden is the only thing I have left to enjoy now.

The front door opens and I hear my wife shouting. Her words are garble and it’s hard to pick out what she’s trying to say. She pulls at her hair and dress as she comes down the path.

‘What is it, Olive?’ I call.

She ignores me, trapped in a world of her own.

I go over and leaving the rake against the side of the house. She’s clearly in distress but there is no way she can tell me what’s wrong. It could be she believes she is in a different time and some moment there has triggered the upset.

I talk to her softly, calming her though she seems unaware of me, ‘it’s fine, whatever it is. I can help. You are okay. I’m here.’

I reach for her but she waves my hands away and carries on shouting out what seems to be just random words, ‘not here! Gone! Come back! Where is he? Don’t know what to do! Alex! Alex! Frog in the hallway. Frog, frog, frog! Gone! Gone!’

It’s hard when she gets like this. I want to get her back inside and sat down but she would fight me all the way and last time she pushed me down and I almost broke my arm. I know I’m too old to deal with her now and leaving her care to a specialist would be best. I can’t though. I can’t let her go….

I pick up a stray leaf and press it into her hands.

‘Look Olive, isn’t it pretty? Listen to the sound it makes,’ I say.

She crunches the leaf, tears it up and lets the bits fall from her hand. She stares in fascination.

I give her another and another. She crunches them in her fist and tosses the leaf pieces to the wind. They blow around in the breeze and she watches them go.

I take her hand and led her to the pile of raked up leaves.

‘Where is Alex?’ she asks.

‘At school, my love,’ I reply.

I can’t explain that he’s been dead for years because she won’t understand and though it hurts, it’s easier to lie.

‘School?’ she repeats as she picks up leaves and plays with them, ‘he never comes home. Never. I miss him….When will he come? When, when?’ she cries with desperation.

‘Soon, dear, soon,’ I reply gently, ‘come back inside now. It’s cold out here and you are not wearing a coat.’

I take her arm and guide her away. She starts muttering to herself again, words I can’t catch or understand.

Once inside, I get her in front of the TV, feet up and wrapped in a blanket. Her eyes are distant. She isn’t here, she’s off in the past, some place I might not remember or don’t want to recall.

I stay with her until she is settled enough to be left again. The news is on the TV but she’s not watching it but the sounds of the voices help her to feel not alone.

‘I’m going out again but I’ll be there if you need me. It’s getting dark and I want to finish,’ I say.

She says something which is lost on me.

I get up, go to the front door and on the mat is a crumbled brown leaf. I pick it up and take it outside, feeling a pain my heart that never goes.

FooFaraw (Part 2) #AtoZChallenge

room-627215_1920

FooFaraw; a great fuss or disturbance about something very insignificant.

I turned the handle and opened my bedroom door, feeling a slight prickly of fear. Would it look like I had left it when I was eighteen? Or had my great-aunt Dorothy thrown everything I’d had to leave behind away?

The door creaked loudly then bumped against the wall. I let go of the breathe I’d been holding. My bedroom was just like it was. The walls were a pale blue with nothing on them – Dorothy had banned me from putting anything on them- the curtains were drawn over the small window and the ceiling was covered in spiderwebs.

My childhood bed was made, the desk and chair tidy, the single wardrobe was open and empty and the bookcase held a few kiddie books. It was like the room had given up waiting for my return and just settled into a life of abandonment.

I sat down on the bed, the springs squealing. I had hated it here. Dorothy had never loved me or been kind to me. She had repeatedly told me she should never have taken me in and should have given me to the children’s home. The only reason why she didn’t was because my parents had left her money in their will for her to look after me.

Dorothy had physically, mentally and emotionally abused me. Letting all her angry out for her sister’s – my mum’s- happy life before she had passed away and also the fact that Dorothy now had to take care of me. I had no happy memories here. On my eighteen birthday, I had left and the trust fund my parents had left me opened up a whole new world for me.

I hadn’t wanted to keep in touch with Dorothy but we had sometimes over the years. Later it had been nurses and care home staff writing and phoning me. Till the last day and the news she was finally gone, having left everything to me.

But I didn’t want it. I didn’t want to go back to that life. I was different now, free of all of that. There was nothing here for me. I had taken all I wanted before, so why I had come back here?

Because I had wanted to prove it didn’t matter? That everything she had done and said had only made me stronger? That the past was just that and I had escaped from it?

I didn’t know. It didn’t matter. I was making a fuss over something that meant nothing to me. I wasn’t that child anymore. I was a businessman, a husband, a gentle father, a millionaire.

I got up, closed the door behind me and went downstairs. I took nothing from the house. I closed and locked the front door behind me for the very last time.

I got back into the car. My wife looked at me put I avoided her questioning eyes. We were silent until Alexandra couldn’t take it no more and had to ask; ‘what was in there?’

‘Nothing but dust and spiders,’ I said.

‘So, it wasn’t worth you dragging me out here then?’

I shook my head.

‘I’m hungry, let’s go,’ Alexandra snapped.

‘All right. On the way we’ll drop the keys at the housing agency and let them take care of everything,’ I added.

Starting the sports car’s engine, I took a finally look at the house, a sense of complete freedom ran through me.

FooFaraw (Part 1) #AtoZChallenge

room-627215_1920

FooFaraw; a great fuss or disturbance about something very insignificant.

Closing the car door, I lent back on it and took in the house before me. It was smaller then I remembered. The surrounding garden had grown wild, though a neighbour had been trimming it down but the place had the air of long time abandonment.

I tried to recall the last time I’d been here, but couldn’t, nor when I’d seen my great-aunt, Dorothy. She had been in a nursing home for years, the promises of getting better never happening and she had died alone.

Whilst, I had moved country, made something of myself and had a family. I’d left the past behind me and that included the woman who had brought me up. Dorothy had been the only family I’d had.

‘Do we have to look inside?’ my wife, Alexandra asked, ‘can’t they just stick the for sale sign up and  be done with it?’

Her voice drew me back, I looked over the car bonnet at Alexandra shivering in one of her best and most expensive coats; soft blue velvet lined with white rabbits’ fur.

I shrugged and replied, ‘there might be photos and stuff.’

Alexandra put her lips together and looked disgusted at the sight of the house before her, ‘why would you want them?’ she asked.

‘Don’t know. Just, I want to look.’

‘Seems pointless to me,’ she grumbled.

‘Why don’t you wait in the car?’ I suggested.

Without a word, Alexandra opened the door and got back in.

I opened my door again too, put the car keys on the seat, told her I’d be back soon and closed the door.

I walked up to the house. Tall plants brushed my legs, leaving water droplets behind and my shoes crushed on weeds growing in between the path. At the front door, I put the key into the lock and was transported back to the past; I was a teenager coming home from school once again. It was like the last forty years hadn’t happened.

The door was stiff and I had to shove it open. The familiar scent of moth balls, dried roses, herbal creams and varnished wood hit me. Then over that came the smell of mould and damp, stagnate water, stale air, rust and rot. I gagged and turned away, wanting to throw up but I held it down.

I had no idea when someone has last been in here but had to have been a good few years. I walked through the hallway, the wooden floor and walls dulled, dust covered and on the ceiling loops of spider webs draped down like bunting. A black sixties cord phone sat on a small table next to the coat hangers where a pink house coat hung forgotten.

The living room was like I remembered; filled with great-aunt Dorothy’s collection of dolls and figurines, a bookcase of old books, an eighties TV in a huge wooden box, a record player, two arm chairs covered with knitted blankets and on the wall a few photographs of Dorothy’s life but none showed her with family and none were of me.

In the kitchen, the smell was bad. No one had really cleaned things out. The sink tap had dripped, the plug had become blocked and there was the source of the stagnate water. I hurried away and upstairs.

Avoiding the small bathroom, I peered into Dorothy’s room. A place forbidden at all times to my younger self. Someone had been in here, no doubt a friend or nurse had come ever so often for more of her things. The wardrobe and chest of drawers were open, clothes poking out. Books were missing from the shelves and other things too.

I shut the door behind me and turned to the last room; my bedroom.

To Be Continued…

S.A.D

sunset-94198_1920

It was Monday lunchtime and I was laying in bed, half dozing in the creeping silence of my house. The morning had been it’s normal hectic self; getting two kids and a husband ready, fed and out the door in time. Then I had busied myself with chores but now my mind wasn’t occupied the horrible sensations were taking over.

I looked at the pale blue painted ceiling, negative thoughts chasing each other in my head like cats and mice. I fought down the urge to linger on any of those thoughts because that would make them more real and worse. I told myself it would pass, it was just the change into the colder seasons.

Grabbing a pillow, I pressed it over my face and took a few deep breaths, until I couldn’t anymore. Tossing the pillow aside, I felt more in control. Distraction would help stop it coming back. I picked up the second hand, romance paperback I had been reading but after a few pages I couldn’t settle into it.

I got up and went on my laptop instead. I had a few things going on; looking for a job, writing a novel, a few online games with pending quests to complete and friends I could chat to. I did all of those, passing what felt like a good few hours and that helped as there was no space in my head to think about how sad I felt.

The time came to pick up the children from school. I looked outside whilst I debated over shoes and coats, it was rainy and windy with a darkening grey sky and brown leaves tossing around, typical autumn! I pushed the gloomy feeling away from me, gathered what I needed and went out.

Normally, I would walk with the school only half an hour away, but I got into the car and drove instead. The traffic and parking was bad and once I had found the girls, we joined everyone else trying to leave. I half listened to the girls chatter about their day, their friends and teachers, my concentration given to trying to get us safely home again.

Once back and everything falling into a routine again, I felt better, almost like my normal self again. There was tea to be made, more chores, homework to be done, TV to be watched, girls to put to bed, etc.

Time passed and I was in bed again, husband all ready a sleep whilst I trying and failing too. There was just too much darkness in the room tonight, too much wondering of my thoughts and I had to get up and do something. I took my book downstairs and read it until I wasn’t following the words anymore, my mind filled with worries so I couldn’t concentrate.

I took a sleeping pill, my only solution to the problem and dozed off, hoping tomorrow my depression would have gone.

Yestreen #atozchallenge (Part 2)

evening-3260454_1920

Yestreen; during yesterday evening. 

Finishing the washing up, I moved on to drying. I heard my wife moving around and it sounded like she was tidying the dinning room. I really hoped she was going to go out soon, I needed to phone Bob, Bill and Jim. My memory from yesterday evening was hazy and I needed them to confide in.

Putting the dried plates, cutlery and tea things away, I chased down the idea to question my wife about today’s activities. She was suspicious about me enough. I turned off the radio and went into the dinning room to get my newspaper, I hadn’t finished reading it. My wife had moved it and herself into the sitting room.

I settled into my favourite armchair and took the newspaper from the side table where she had placed it. The TV was on some drama show my wife liked and she was looking through her small diary. I turned the newspaper pages loudly and buried myself once more in the articles.

‘Perhaps,’ my wife said slowly, ‘I’ll go and visit the vicar’s wife. Though, everyone else is probably doing that. Their daughter was in my school, you know and I am a key member of the village council now.’

I nodded, tried of her reminding me about that.

‘Are you going to the allotment?’ she asked sharply.

‘What, darling?’ I asked, lowering the paper.

‘The allotment, dear. Are going today?’ my wife pressed.

‘Yes, yes!’ I cried, she had just given me a great idea and the perfect cover.

‘I’m not deaf,’ she tutted.

‘No, sorry, love. I had forgotten you see…I was going to show the lads my…erm…lettuces! I should give ’em a bell and remind them,’ I added.

Tossing my newspaper down, I hurried to the phone and called them one after the other. Bill, Bob and Jim were all confused at first but I talked them into it without giving away anything. Then I hurried to change and gather my things whilst trying to keep yesterday evening out of my head.

‘I’m off then, dear,’ I called from the front door.

‘Here,’ my wife called from the kitchen before hurrying down the hallway.

She give me a thermos of tea and a plastic box containing sandwiches.

‘Remember, be back before five. I’m cooking lamb chops,’ she stated.

We kissed goodbye and I left quickly. I hurried down the street, caught the local bus and went to the edge of the village. Getting off, I walked down the lane to the allotments’ gate. It was unlocked and as I walked to my patch, I could see a few other people moving about. Luckily, they were all too far away to over hear me.

I unlocked the wooden garden gate and stepped into my fenced allotment. In neat rows where growing all kinds of veg. I walked up down, checking them in the glowing sunny day.

‘Just a little water,’ I mused.

Soon after I’d done, that my friends arrived. We greeted each other and showed them the few things that were really coming up now.

‘What is that about really, Gerald?’ Bob asked.

‘The news this morning,’ I whispered, ‘did you see it?’

‘Of course! The whole village knows about the murdered vicar!’ Bill said loudly.

‘Hush!’ I hissed, ‘look, I don’t remember much, so I wanted to know if any of you saw anything in the church.’

They fall silent in thought.

‘We heard a scream, a thud and someone running out the other door,’ I said to jog their minds.

‘Yes, then we ran the other way,’ Bill put in with a shrugged.

‘We thought we’d be caught too, remember,’ Jim added.

‘I was too drunk,’ Bob announced with a scrunched up face.

‘And we didn’t…None of us saw the vicar?’ I asked.

They shook their heads.

‘We going to the police?’ Bill questioned.

We all looked shiftily at each other.

‘Why? What can we tell them?’ Bob cut in.

‘I don’t know….That we heard something and saw a figure but we didn’t know what had happened?’ I suggested.

‘Then they’ll want to know why we didn’t check the place out,’ Jim replied.

‘And what we were doing there,’ Bill tagged on.

‘Maybe, we should keep mum,’ Bob spoke out.

There was a muttering of agreements.

‘If they ask though…?’ I broke in.

‘Then…we weren’t there,’ Bill declared, ‘we were in the pub and everyone there can confirm that. When we left we dropped Bob off then went our separate ways.’

I flashed back to this morning. I’d rather face down a policeman then my wife.

‘So we agree then?’ Jim said.

We agreed.

‘Look at those clouds,’ Bob spoke, ‘don’t like the look of ’em.’

Looking up, I saw there was a bank of dark grey clouds rolling in. The sun seemed to have dimmed too. There wasn’t meant to be any rain today, but it seemed no one had told the clouds that.

‘I’m off,’ Bill said, ‘I’ve left Molly with the grandkids.’

‘I should mow the lawn before it rains,’ Jim spoke next, ‘Anne’s been getting on my nerves about it.’

‘I..got…’ Bob trailed with a scratch of his head.

‘It’s fine. See you all later,’ I said and waved everyone off.

Watching them all leave, I wondered if we had done the right thing. But what would we really told the police? And surely, because we all intoxicated they couldn’t really take our word? I shuffled around the bed where my carrots were, debating what to do.

‘Did we really witness a murder?’ I muttered.

I tried hard to recall what I’d seen but it was all shadows and dust. Deciding to go home, I finished my tea and packed everything up. As I waited for the bus, spots of rain fell. It seemed I had left just in time. My thoughts were still stormy like the sky when I got on the bus then off it at home.

My wife wasn’t in, I guessed she was still out visiting the poor vicar’s wife. I put the TV and lamps on then sit in my armchair. I couldn’t settle though. Finally, I reached for the phone and called the local police station.

‘Hello, I’d like talk to someone about the vicar’s murder….I have some information.’

Yestreen #atozchallenge (Part 1)

evening-3260454_1920

Yestreen; during yesterday evening. 

‘This says he was killed yesterday evening,’ came my wife’s voice from, behind the newspaper.

I grunted, shuffled my own paper and turned the page.

‘Up at that old church in the glen!’ she added.

Grunting again, I reached around and felt for my teacup. My fingers clinked against the bone china and I groped for the handle. Finding it, I raised the cup and brought it to my lips, taking a few mouthfuls of tea.

‘Dear? Weren’t you up there the other night?’ my wife asked in a pondering voice.

I chocked on my tea little then coughed loudly to cover it up. Setting my teacup back on it’s saucer and my newspaper down beside it, I looked at my wife. She was looking fine in her Sunday best dress which she had worn to church earlier. Her grey hair was curled tightly and pinned up. There was a puzzled expression on her wrinkled face and a demanding look in her blue eyes.

‘What? Er, no. Course not. No where near!’ I spluttered.

Her face hardened, turning into the pinched and knowing look she had been famous for as the headmistress of the girl’s high school years ago.

I felt a wave of guilty school boy in my belly. There was no lying to my wife. I had to be careful now.

‘Oh, maybe we did a little,’ I said, trying to wave it all a way.

‘What did you do?’ she asked sharply.

I shrugged before replying, ‘just stayed at The Woodsman pub, talking and drinking. Played some darts, arranged that golf rematch with Bill. Then four of us went for some fresh air and we took Bob home. You know, he lives close to there…’

I smiled and picked up my teacup again. Dropping my eyes to the small table as I drank, I saw the reminds of our Sunday breakfast; greasy plates, empty toast rack, jar of jam, bottle of brown sauce, the teapot with it’s knitted cosy on, the small jug of milk and the sugar bowl.

My wife ruffled her newspaper again and looked down at it, ‘no details of how he died,’ she muttered under her breath, ‘police still investigating and asking for witness….Who would kill a vicar?’ she said loudly.

‘No idea,’ I answered and got to my feet.

I began cleaning the table, avoiding my wife’s staring eyes. Gathering up the plates and other things on the tray, I went into the kitchen. I put things away then began washing up. My wife had left the radio on and there was some song from the sixties playing. I hoped she didn’t come in here and went out instead. I tried to remember if she was visiting anyone today.

Washing the plates, my thoughts turned to yesterday evening. I hadn’t told her the whole truth. We had been up in the church, we had all been drunk and fancied a laugh. It had been Bob’s idea really, he had a spare key to the door but it had been Ernie who’d come up with the ‘joke’.

At the wooden front door though, we had heard voices shouting, a scream then a thudding noise from within. Bob had flung open the door and we had piled in to see a shadowy figure fleeing through the back door.

To be continued…

Fanning The Flames #fridayfictioneers

‘It’s sabotage, you know,’ said my wife.

I pulled a face as we carried on looking out the window. In the street below our apartment two fire engines were putting out the fire engulfing the only house on the block.

‘They’ve been trying to knock down that house for years so they can build another complex there,’ she explained.

‘It was probably an accident,’ I responded.

‘Hopefully, they had good insure and can built another house then,’ my wife added.

A few months later, my wife was proven right.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/11/15/10-november-2017/ with thanks).

Kitchen

Kitchen, Decoration, Kitchen Equipment

Nickie lived in kitchens because food was her passion and her dream was to be a top chief. Though some days when she was chatting away to whoever, she came across more like Cinderella or some old fashioned housewife.