Lisztomaina #atozchallenge

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Lisztomania; the need to listen to music all the time. 

She couldn’t bear not to listen to music, it was the only thing that kept the tinnitus away. At night she always fell asleep listening to smoothing music; rain falling, bells chiming, the calling of whales. During the day, she had the radio on or the TV set to a music channel.

She had to work from home as she couldn’t cope being anywhere else. The office wasn’t happy though, so she left and set up her own handmade craft business. She sold scarfs, baby clothes, toys and everything else it took her fancy to make. She was a lot happier.

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Groke #atozchallenge (Part 2)

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Groke; to stare at somebody while they’re eating in the hope they’ll share. 

Monday morning found Sutcliff back at his office desk working hard. He had a meeting before lunch which over ran, so he arrived at Park Square later then normal. The area was less busy as most people had all ready gone back to work. Sutcliff was grateful for the extra quiet, that meeting had been intense.

Getting out his lunch box, he opened it and picked up half of a beef and horseradish sandwich. He heard a whining at his feet and looked down. The little brown and white dog was back!

‘Get lost,’ Sutcliff grumbled.

The dog cried as Sutcliff took a bite of the sandwich.

‘Where’s your owner?’ Sutcliff asked.

The dog yowled and pressed a paw to Sutcliff’s shoe.

‘If I give you a bit will you leave me in peace?’

Sutcliff took another bite of the sandwich then give the rest to the dog. The dog ducked under the bench and Sutcliff heard chewing sounds from underneath him. He ate the rest of his lunch in peace then went back to work.

The next day it was raining. Sutcliff sat on the bench under his umbrella and had his lunch. Just as he was wondering where the little dog was, he saw the dog entering the park and trotting over to him. The dog stopped at his feet and looked up pleadingly with sad eyes.

Sutcliff signed, ‘it’s just cheese today,’ he said.

The dog cried and shivered, the rain was dripping off it’s soaked fur.

Sutcliff opened the second half of the sandwich and give the chunk of cheese to the dog. The cheese was gone in seconds then the dog went under the bench. Sutcliff looked down and saw the little dog curled up there, behind his legs, sheltered from the rain. Sutcliff finished his lunch and went back to work.

The rest of the week, the same thing happened at lunchtimes. Sutcliff wasn’t sure how the dog knew what time he’d be at Park Square for but the dog was always waiting to share his sandwiches.

‘It’s meant to snow tomorrow,’ Sutcliff told the dog on Friday.

The dog put it’s head to one side then begged for more food.

Sutcliff had now taken to bring extra ham with him. He give the dog another slice.

‘Where do you live?’ Sutcliff asked then laughed at himself.

He had started holding conversations with the dog as if they had become friends. Sutcliff had also started patting the dog and scratching him – for the dog was male- behind the ears.

‘Anyway, back to work time now,’ Sutcliff spoke.

He gathered his things, said goodbye to the little dog and walked off.

It snowed over night and when Sutcliff woke up, it was still snowing. Standing in front of his apartment window, Sutcliff wondered about the dog. Where was he? Was he warm and safe?

‘It’s a only a dog!’ Sutcliff snapped.

He spent the morning doing chores but the thought of the dog didn’t leave him. It was still snowing in the afternoon and the sky was dark grey. Sutcliff put on his boots, scarf coat, hat and gloves then set out into the city centre. He walked as he would to work then took a short cut to Park Square.

The snow was thick on the ground and covering the tree branches. Sutcliff walked over to the bench, leaving deep footprints behind. He felt like a fool. What was he doing out here looking for a stupid dog? It probably wasn’t a stray after all and belonged to a homeless person or someone who just let the dog roam around.

He looked at the snow covered bench then turned around to go back. From far to the side, in an alleyway of two tall office blocks, Sutcliff thought he heard a bark. He turned his head and saw the little dog scampering through the snow towards him.

‘Dog!’ Sutcliff called and quickly walked over.

The dog rushed at his feet, jumped up and pawed at his lower legs, crying loudly. Sutcliff picked him up and hugged him. The dog felt freezing cold and wet. Without thinking, Sutcliff unzipped his coat and placed the dog inside. The dog snuggled against him and Sutcliff hurried out of Park Square and back home.

Letting himself back into the warmth of his apartment, Sutcliff took the little dog from his coat and placed him on the floor before taking his things off.

‘No messing, no biting or scratching or howling,’ Sutcliff told the dog firmly.

The dog sneezed a few times then began to sniff around.

Sutcliff went to the fridge and took out some slices of ham. The dog bounced over, tail wagging, tongue licking. Sutcliff give the ham over and the dog wolfed it down. From the cupboard, Sutcliff took out a bowl, filled it with water and set it down. The dog drink eagerly.

After showing the dog around his home, Sutcliff made a bed for the dog next to the heater out of some old bedding. The dog settled down and went to sleep, looking happier. Sutcliff sat on the sofa and watched the dog sleeping.

‘We’ll see how it goes,’ he muttered.

Pets were allowed in his apartment, so Sutcliff had no problems keeping the little dog who he decided to call Alfie. Sutcliff also talked to his boss and she let him bring Alfie to work each day which meant they could still enjoy lunch in the park together.

Groke #atozchallenge (Part 1)

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Groke; to stare at somebody while they’re eating in the hope they’ll share. 

Every week day lunchtime, Sutcliff left his desk at his city center office and walked the few minutes to Park Square. No matter the season or the weather, he always had his lunch on a little rickety bench under the only tree in the Square. Whilst he ate a sandwich and apple, he watched life going by.

The first Friday of April was a surprisingly warm and sunny day. Sutcliff left his desk and office feeling cheerful. All his morning tasks had been done and there was hardly anything for him to do this afternoon. He walk his normal route over to Park Square; half way down King’s Way street, across the road and a right turn on to Elmhurst Street. Then another right on to Park Square road, around the corner and down to the iron fenced plot of green land.

Towering office buildings and smaller shops lined either side of the streets. People dressed for work and casual wandered by. Their footsteps and voices mingling with the rumbling traffic on the one way roads. Everyone seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere except for Sutcliff who walk slowly, enjoying the brushed warm air and freedom from his desk.

He reached Park Square and opened the first of three gates on to the tiny park. He stepping onto the compacted sand and yellow gravel path that was shaped like an upside down letter ‘T’. Short, yellow-green grass lay on either side of the path and the small elm tree stood at the back in the middle. Sutcliff walked over and sat down on the bench under the tree.

There was no one else in the tiny park, though a few people walked passed. Sutcliff looked up at the office blocks around him, he could see empty desks through the windows and people moving about. Sutcliff smiled to himself, loving this quiet corner. He slipped off his leather messenger bag and took his lunch box and water bottle.

He opened the box, took out half of a ham salad sandwich and was about to bite into it when a small whine noise made him pause. Frowning, Sutcliff looked down and saw close at his feet a little white and brown patched dog. One of the dog’s ears was up and the other was down, beady black eyes were staring into Sutcliff’s own and white whiskers were twitching as the dog’s wet, black nose sniffed.

Sutcliff closed his mouth, not taking his bite and glanced around. He had seen dogs being walked around here before but there seemed to be no owner in sight. He noticed the dog wasn’t wearing a collar and looked a bit on the thin side. Maybe, it was a stray? Shrugging, Sutcliff ignored the dog and began to eat the sandwich.

The dog started crying. Sutcliff glanced down then about again. There was still no one around. The dog whined louder and moved closer to Sutcliff’s feet, it was clear what the dog wanted.

‘No. Go away,’ Sutcliff said loudly.

The dog backed off little then sit down and kept watch as Sutcliff ate the rest of his lunch. Sometimes, the dog would make little noises and move its head around. Nothing seemed to distracted the dog’s eyes away.

Sutcliff packed his things away, relaxed for a few minutes then got up. He kept his distance from the little dog as he left the park. Closing the gate behind him, Sutcliff looked back and saw the dog sniffing around the bench, looking for scraps.

Sutcliff went back to work and give the dog no more thought.

To Be Continued…

 

Dark #writephoto

The first snowflake fell onto my book’s open page before I could turn it. I paused, tutted and watched the flake melt into a water dot over a word. Turning my head up, I saw the sky had grown dark with heavy unfriendly grey clouds. It was time to go home.

Gathering my things, I knew everyone thought I was strange. Why would a young woman go out to the lake to sit and read in the snow? I liked the peace and the distance from people. I didn’t feel the cold at all, in fact, I didn’t feel anything and hadn’t since the incident.

With everything neatly placed in my army hiking bag, I began walking back. The snow was deep but my footprints from hours ago were still clearer. I traced over them but the opposite way this time. The wind picked up as more snowflakes began to fall. I powered on, enjoying the feeling and sight of raw nature.

I almost slipped into the lane but was able to hold on. There were a few four by four car tire tracks marking their way through the snow. A few meters up, off to the side lay an abandoned blue car, half buried in the snow. I had checked as I’d arrived and no one was inside, thankfully. They’d have frozen out here.

A few minutes later and I’d arrived at the edge of the village. The tops of houses stuck out of the snow like early spring flowers. Nobody was walking the streets or driving down the roads. They were all inside, sat by fires, keeping warm and safe. I should have been so too, but there was only so much of being inside I could handle.

I needed to be out, feeling all kinds of weather against my skin. Doing something physical and being my past self. I wasn’t very good at being a ‘normal person,’ it had been sort of trained out of me. I had liked that life, it give me my place in the world but now on almost permanent leave due to injury and mental health problems, everything had been turned around.

Reaching the front door of my parents’ cottage, I didn’t want to go in. The urge to stay outside lingered. However, the wind was really howling and blowing now heavy snowflakes into me. So unless I wanted to get lost in a blizzard and or possibly die, it was time to go in and find another way to spend my time.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/03/01/thursday-photo-prompt-dark-writephoto/ with thanks).

Monday

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Once Mondays had been hectic, with never enough time but now, each second seemed slower then the last. At first, she had been gratefully, she’d always hated that job so to lose it wasn’t that bad a blow. The belief she’d find a new job soon kept her going but now months later, she was missing working.

She was tried of daytime TV shows, reading books, job hunting and having to cope with less money. The other days were easier to deal with, she found things to keep her going but Mondays were just empty.

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).

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.