Crow #writephoto

The crow was out there in the dead tree cawing loudly again. I pressed my forehead to the condensation covered spare bedroom window and searched for him. In the early evening, storm coloured garden, the sooty bird was difficult to spot unless you knew where to look for him.

I forced on the highest branches which were bobbing in the wind and there was the crow. He was silhouetted against the dark grey sky, his head thrown back, cawing continuously. It was hard to tell if he was sounding an alarm or just making a racket to disturb me.

Stepping back from the window, I rubbed my aching head and reminded myself there was nothing I could do about the crow. He was just another problem I’d inherited from my recently passed mother. Turning on the TV to try and cover some of the crow’s noise, I got ready for my night shift on the building site.

When I was ready to leave, I went to the back door which we’d always used as the front door. Yanking down the handle, I tried to rush outside but a black mass flew in my face. I shouted, twisted away and tried to grab the thing. Feathers whipped my face, claws scratched my arms, a sharp beak tried to peck at me.

I stumbled outside, almost tripping on the step. Catching my breath, I turned and looked into the doorway. A single black feather lay there. I peered in and spotted the crow hopping around the kitchen. He was busy making himself at home amongst my mother’s pots, pans, glass bottle collection and tatty books.

Swearing loudly, I slammed the door and left. Getting in my car, I drove to work, my head all full of that damn crow. My mother had made him a pet, having found him as an abandoned chick and now he refused to become wild again. I had tried capturing him and taking him far away and to animal charities but he always ended up coming back.

Arriving at work, I tried to become calm again but it was so hard when I knew the crow would be waiting for me. Taking deep breaths, I went about my shift which thankfully was quiet. I finished at six am though with the dark winter sky and the sun having a lay in, made it seem like it was still the middle of the night.

Coming home, I felt tried and once through the door, the annoyance started again. The crow was waiting for me, perched on the back of a chair. He watched me with beady eyes and I swear if he could’ve spoken English he would have demanded I leave.

Sighing, I pulled up the chair next to him, carefully and sit down.

‘How about we just become friends?’ I suggested.

He put his head to the side, seeming to consider me then give a slight nod.

‘You respect me and I’ll respect you,’ I added, ‘and now I’m off to bed.’

Getting up, I clopped upstairs in my work boots the soft cawing of the crow following me.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/01/11/thursday-photo-prompt-crow-writephoto/ with thanks).

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Forbidden (Part 1)

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The antique shop had only been open a few days and from my office window it had seemed busy. There had been a continuous flow of all kinds of people going in and out. Sometimes they carried paper bags but most of the time they came out with nothing. A few people in the office had been and they whispered about the things they had seen behind their hands.

I had no interest in anything the shop was selling. The front window display looked like a posh jumble sell just without the clothes. There were a few tables, bookcases and chairs filled with a variety of items; old books, lamps, dolls, teddy bears, ornaments, vintage toys, clocks etc. Far too much to look at.

Getting into my car after finishing work for the week, the engine wouldn’t start. It was pouring with rain and a snap of winter freeze was in the air. I called my breakdown service and the waiting time was an hour. I looked miserably back at the office building. I could go in and do some more work…or…I glanced across at the antique shop.

With a shrug, I got out of my car and hurried across to the door which was lit up like a lighthouse. Going in, a bell ring over my head and nice warm air hugged me like an old friend. Stepping through, I saw the shop was more packed then the window display! There were tables, bookcases, cabinets, shelves holding all kinds of things that everything blurred into one.

In the center was a square counter and till area. Three old women were stood there helping customers. There was a hushed chatter as if secrets were being spoken. No one looked at me, so I just began moving around. I noticed a staircase to my left with a sign above it saying more things up here. At the back of then room three doors led off but one was marked staff only.

I drifted around, looking but not looking, wondering and frowning. The air smelt of old attic and dried flowers. Sort of comforting but also chocking. Then through the mass of things, I began noticing items that shouldn’t be here and had been prohibited by the New Age Government. Banned books, items related to cigarettes and alcohol,  banned music, statues and sketches of nudes, ‘too’ modern art, fantasy and mythology items. I looked at a model of a red and yellow dragon rising out of flames then I quickly moved on.

That would explain why this shop had seemed so popular! People were looking and buying prohibited items! I hurried into one of the back rooms and found a dark corner. My head was tumbling. If I got caught here that’d be the end of me! The end of everyone in this shop! Having prohibited items meant jail time leading to death unless someone bailed you out.

I shut my eyes and tried to calm down, but I was sweating badly. I took in deep breaths and told myself, I just needed to walk out of here and not come back. I should go and wait in my car for the breakdown man to come. Then when I got home I should report the shop as was my duty. But I couldn’t move.

‘Hey! What you doing!’ a gnarled voice demanded.

I opened my eyes, not sure if I was being addressed or not. There was an old man before me, the light was dim but I could still make him out. He had red cheeks, an angry face and was wearing a tweed suit. He was also carrying a lit lantern.

‘Nothing…I got lost…’ I trailed.

‘You buying something or what?’ he snapped.

‘Oh, erm…This…’ I uttered, without looking I picked up the first thing my right hand touched and showed it him.

He snorted and waved at me to move. I did so and he followed me to the counter. I had closed my hand around the smooth, light object. I kept my eyes up as I placed it down on the glass top and paid for it. Then on receiving a small paper bag, I rushed outside. The rain and freezing cold hit me in the face, whipping the warmth of the shop from me, but I didn’t care.

I got into my car and sit there huddled and shaking. The paper bag clutched my hands like a bomb. A knocking at my window made me jump and I shoved the bag onto the floor and opened the door. It was only the breakdown man, who kindly took me home.

To Be Continued…

 

(Inspired from; https://thewriteedgewritingworkshop.wordpress.com/2017/10/19/writing-prompts-for-monday-october-23-2017/ with thanks).

Haven #writephoto

The sun rose over the little seaside village. The bright yellow, orange, pink and purple colours giving the clouds a rainbow haze against the dusky blue sky. I drove home from my night shift watching as the darkness faded to light and another late autumn day was born.

Glancing over at the sea, it looked calm today. The dark blue, cream topped waves lapping against the crunchy sand shore. The rising sun creating beams of light as the clouds moved. There were no boats or people to be seen just yet. It was too easy to see why this place had been called Haven.

Entering the little road that led into the village which was made up of a handful of fisherman’s cottages, one shop, post office and four holiday homes, I drove past them all and to the larger house that stood by itself on a hill. Originally built for a Navy Admiral who had only lived in it a few years before being lost at sea, the house had then become a hotel and local pub. When that failed, my great grandparents brought it and made it a family home.

Parking up, I just had the energy to get out and make my way into the house. The smell of the sea was heavy and there was sand in the hallway again. Going upstairs, I took everything with me then abandoned it on the chair in my bedroom. I got into bed naked, loving the freedom and feel of the cold sheets.

By the time the sun was fully up and most people were too, I had made a nest out of all the bedding, I settled back and was almost asleep. A car horn sounded and voices shouted. I looked across at the window but of course I couldn’t see anything due to the black out curtains.

I had to wait until the neighbours had driven off or gone back inside before trying again. Being exhausted after a twelve hour shift on the hospital ward helped and I was asleep before I even knew it, safe in my own little haven.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2017/11/16/thursday-photo-prompt-haven-writephoto with thanks).

Backwards Time

stress-2883648_1920She was just so far behind with everything that she might as well be time travelling back into the past. The work was piled meters high on her desk, so that it looked like paper sculptures and her computer calendar chimed every minute with another reminder about something.

She did all she could in the work time then went home to a dysfunctional house. At least her husband had remembered to pick up the kids from their after school clubs today. There was still a meal to be made, clothes washing to do, tidying up and from out of the chatter of her ten year old, a school project that was due in tomorrow and he hadn’t started yet.

There was no escaping the lack of time here either but she couldn’t easily stop like at work. Somehow and with family help, she got everything done and went to bed at midnight. The dream she had though was strange. She was walking somewhere, the colours were all washed together and she could hear a loud clock ticking in the distance.

There was a town but all the people in it had clocks instead of faces. She could hear them speaking to each other and they didn’t find it as bazaar as she did. Still that loud ticking continued. She entered a city and found all the buildings made of clocks and the noise they created was deafening. The people they didn’t seem to care because they were totally clocks themselves.

She watched them hurrying past. They had long thin black legs with shoes at the end and long black hands with black gloves and the clock face was the body and the head together. They seemed to talk in a tick tock language which she couldn’t understand. Then she saw a clock dog being walked by a clock person and it was all just too much to handle.

Hurrying away, she left the city and found herself in the colour washed landscape once more. There was a mirror before her, standing alone and seemingly waiting for her. She went up and looked at her reflection…but a clock face looked back at her instead. Screaming, she awoke from the dream and sat in the darkness wrapped in twisted sheets.

Her husband shifted beside her and awoke, questioning what was wrong.

‘Look at my face!’ she demanded.

‘I can’t, it’s dark,’ he replied.

She got up went into the bathroom and slowly stepped before the mirror. Her own face looked back at her. Breathing deeply, she shook off the dream but decided that tomorrow she was going to ask for some help and perhaps then she could live in the now and not in the past.

One Shot

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When she picked up the email her heart leaped. This was her chance to prove she could do it and move on from being a plain old receptionist. This job interview was her ticket through a new door and only goodness lay at the other side.

She spent the rest of the day preparing; getting her clothes sorted, reminding herself of what she wrote in her job application, writing down questions and answers and even internet researching things. She felt so ready and like the job was her’s no matter what.

Laying in bed that night though, she couldn’t sleep. Her stomach churned like fish heads in a mincing machine, her back ached as if she was laying on a wooden board and her head swim like a whirlpool. She plucked thoughts out of the air as they whizzed passed; what if they asked a really weird question? what if she messed up a big answer? What if someone else was stronger then her?

She saw the job slipping away from her, like ice melting and trickling out of her hands. Sitting up in bed, she turned on the light and reached for one of the self-help books by her bed. She had recently shuffled them so the one about succeeding in interviews and a new job was at the top. Finding her place, she read for awhile. That give her some comfort.

Sleeping well afterwards, she arose in the morning and went about everything as normal. There were large, scratching butterflies in her stomach and her back was still twinging, but she got by. Then it was finally time to get ready and leave. Reminding herself that the job was as good as her’s already, She give it her all and walked out afterwards on a new path.

The Searcher

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He haunted libraries like a vengeful ghost feverish on his mission. He sat for hours reading so many different books that the librarians lost track of what he had loaned. What he truly sought no one knew and perhaps the answer wasn’t clear to him either.

When he had exhausted all the public libraries in the country which surprisingly hadn’t taken him very long because all he did was read, he started to join collages, universities and other such places. Even if he couldn’t get in, he found a way for the books to get to him.

People began to take notice and soon he was interesting a lot more minds then just the librarians. Students and tutors would seek him out and ask him what he was doing, but he wouldn’t answer. No one ever knew what his secrets were but other people have now made it their life goal to find out.

Modern Love

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I liked the new girl. She was quiet, polite and hardworking, plus she knew how to be a receptionist unlike the last woman! She had been here three months now and we were a good team. Settling into lunch that day which sadly was a working lunch like the many we had to have due to staff shortages, she suddenly switched the conversation.

‘Emma? Can I asked you a personal question?’

‘Sure, Alia,’ I replied. There was nothing I liked better then talking about my life.

‘How did you met your boyfriend?’

I looked at her. She was dressed in her normal long black coat, floor touching black skirt, loose and long black top and a black hijab which covered her head and neck, only showing her dark face. I had often wondered if she was in mourning since she was always dressed in black, but I hadn’t been able to bring myself to ask.

In contrasted, I always dressed in bright colours, favouring; blues, greens, purples and whites. I wore knee or ankle length skirts with leggings or tights, some days I put on trousers. My blouses and tops were sensible enough but some of them did draw focus to my large chest. I’d wear a matching jacket or cardigan as needed. With it being late summer, my skin was lightly tanned. I wore my long med brown hair up or down, depending on how I felt.

I had never seen even a wisp of Alia’s hair so I didn’t know what colour it was. she didn’t wear any makeup either whilst I went through the whole colour plate in time with the seasons and the weather. We both wore glasses- me thin metallic purple frames and her’s thick, round and black old fashioned frames.

I also carted a large and very full handbag around with me, whilst Alia seemed to keep everything in the deep pockets of her coat. Alia had a ring of keys attached to her which constantly made sounds as she moved and reminded me of the housekeeper in The Secret Garden movie.

‘My boyfriend?’ I questioned.

Alia nodded and waited for me to launch into the story. She was use to my length talks now.

‘On a dating website,’ I answered, ‘that’s where I’ve meet all my boyfriends, expect the ones I dated in education. I guess I find it easier, you know? I have a habit of creating bad first impressions with men. Plus, there’s so many different kinds of men you can meet and I’ve found it far better then bars and nightclubs.’

‘Oh,’ Alia responded.

‘Of course, if I could meet a boyfriend naturally I would do. I like the build up of friendship then the slow falling in love and the realisation of it,’ I explained then give a small shrug.

‘So, you’d like it as a fairy tale? Love at first sight?’ she asked.

‘That would make it easier, wouldn’t it? But life doesn’t happen like that.’

I laughed and give a little shake of my head.

The phone rang and our conversation was interrupted by someone making an enquire. After I had dealt with them I turned back to Alia.

‘Why did you want to know anyway?’ I asked her.

She looked a little guilty and there was a slight flush to her cheeks, slowly and almost in a whisper she said, ‘because I would like one.’

Alia pulled her hijab to cover more of her face as if she had told me a dirty secret and now needed to hide away.

I thought over her words for a moment. Sipping my water slowly.

‘And why can’t you?’ I asked.

She didn’t reply and had suddenly found something to do on the computer before her which totally had all of her focus. She ignored me as if I hadn’t spoken.

Casting my mind about, I wondered if Alia came from a family were arrange marriages were traditional. Perhaps, her parents were very strict about her seeing men? I wouldn’t know the truth if I didn’t ask, but I was nervous too and knew it would effect how I saw Alia.

Instead, I asked, ‘you know, online dating is normal now. It’s how most people met. Would you like me to show you how to sign up? I’ll put you on the free site I used. I meet my current and last three boyfriends off there.’

‘But how did you know they were….okay?’ Alia asked.

She looked at me shyly over her shoulder.

‘Well, because I set myself some rules and stuck by them. Plus, once you’ve talked to them online for a bit you get a feel for them. Then you can meet up with just the ones you want too. You have to meet in a really crowd place that you know well. Like in town,’ I added.

Alia waited for me to go on. Her interest peaking and her expression becoming more relaxed.

So, I did, ‘and never go to their houses or a location they suggest that you are not happy with. Art galleries and museums make for good first dates. Or meals out. Whatever you feel comfy with.’

She nodded.

‘So, would you like my helping signing up?’ I asked.

Alia paused then in small voice said, ‘yes, please.’

I smiled broadly and wheeled my desk chair over to her corner. With my help Alia would be fine and I’d make sure she found a suitable boyfriend.

Summer Cold

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You had been feeling run down all of yesterday but you had thought you were just tried after running from meeting to meeting. Now though, as you wake up, you realise you have a cold. Struggling to get up, you hope a shower and a cup of tea will help. Doing that seems to help but even before you get dressed you know you’re not going to make it.

You phone in sick and crawl back to bed, feeling guilty. You should go in but your head is pounding, your nose dripping and your eyes feel so tried, you don’t feel like you’ve just been asleep. You pull the duvet over our head, nestle into the pillow and let sleep cart you away again.

Vacation

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It was that time of year again and as she looked out of her office window, she long to be away. Some place quiet and warm. Where it was always sunny and not raining. Where blue ocean meet white sands and the sky went on forever. Turning back to her computer, she did a quick search on a travel site and a few clicks later, she had booked a week’s holiday on a beach.

Play A Little Tune

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Bert’s blueberries were not doing so well this year. The too wet summer was the cause. He had been trying everything to make the blueberries happy as they were his biggest sellers and God knew he needed the money.  Finally, he decided to take his violin and play for them though it broke his vow to never play again. As the first notes rang out, tears marked Bert’s cheeks. He played and played till he couldn’t anymore but the magic of the music seemed to work because the blueberries grew and became the best crop he had ever had.

(Inspired by; https://carrotranch.com/2017/08/11/august-10-flash-fiction-challenge-2/ with thanks)