The Last Letter

virus-1812092_1920

Dear Lucy,

The sickness is growing, I can feel it and if you’ve found this letter it means the time has finally come. I’m now too sick to sick to talk to you. I’ve gone to my bedroom and will die in my bed. Don’t bother coming to see me, there’s no point. My life has been so empty from the beginning that it only seems fitting that I should die alone now.

I’m trusting everything to you. Underneath this letter is the envelope containing my will. Only you and I know about how I live and that what people say about me isn’t true. I want you to up hold that imagine of me though; the quiet, yet social writer and artist. Who attend a different party or grand opening or some other important event every evening. Who’s house was always full with friends and he slept with different women each night. The too kind, mysterious, rich young man I wish I’d been in my youth.

Please carry on writing my ideas and books for me. You were always so good with new technology. I made it so in my will that you were able to write under my pseudonym, that way you can carry on perfecting your craft. You’ll make a great writer someday and finally be able to step out of my shadow.

I’m sorry to have to leave you like this. You have been like the wife and daughter, I daydreamed about having. I feel I should give you more but you already have my name and career in your hands, so what else can there be?

Good luck.

Advertisements

Yellow Day

fog-tree-desert-sky-60703

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Bye, Emerald.’

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

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

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

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

‘Dad? Dad? where are you?’

‘In here, pet,’ I answered.

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

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

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

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

I nodded and pulled out a chair to sit down.

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

‘Your mother hated frozen bread,’ I muttered.

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

‘Yes. That would be nice.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Happy 3rd Anniversary to The Story Files!

birthday-cake-380178_1920

Hi everyone,

WordPress has just told me that today is The Story Files’ 3rd anniversary even though I started writing this blog in the middle of 2014. I don’t know how the dates and times work out, I’ve a disability in maths. I’m also dyslexic, so how I ended up with a love of reading and writing, I’ll never know, but I’m thankful for it.

Writing stories has been my escape and stress relief since I was a child, despite the challenges I’ve had with letters, words and grammar! I’ve always found that novels- the ones I read and the ones I write, were there for me when no one else really was. Luckily, things are different for me today but I still finding writing good for dealing with my problems.

I started writing this blog soon after a graduated from a Masters degree in Creative Writing. I had serious depression and was feeling at a lost as to what to do with my life. In doing this blog, I forced myself to write a story a day, thus giving me an active thing to do each day no matter what. This and also rediscovering a love for crafts, helped me get over the depression.

Now though, I’m in the habit of writing stories for this blog. I enjoy it and I know for an hour or so each day I can escape into writing. if I can’t make time for it, I work it into whatever I’m doing during the day; I’ll write at lunch and my breaks, sometimes even when I’m meant to be working! Sometimes though, I don’t write a story everyday because I might be away for a weekend etc and it’s good at that time to give my mind a small break. In that case, I’ll write the number of stories needed on other days and that helped to mix things up for me and allows the creativity to grew further.

Originally, I started this blog to give myself some space. I didn’t care who read it or liked or commented because that wasn’t important to me. Over the years, that has changed and now I love feedback in anyway. It’s important to help my writing improve and I feel so happy every time someone lets me know they’ve liked a story and or they take the time to comment to tell me so.

I don’t know what the future is for this blog or my stories. I hope to continue as long as possible. Perhaps, one day I’ll make an anthology, or work on some stories to publish or maybe even write another novel – been awhile since my last one! Whatever happens, I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who follows, likes, comments and shares my blog. I appreciate you all so much and you help inspire me to keep writing.

If you’d like to know more about me and also read the book reviews I write please check out my other blog; https://hailscrazyblog.blogspot.co.uk/

Thank you again!

Hayley.

 

Dear Diary #36

pexels-photo-219249

Dear Diary,

I’ve lost the inspiration and motivation again. It’s like there’s a light bulb above my head that burns bright for a few days then dims and dims till it goes out. Turning it back on is so hard. And I swear each time it takes longer and gets more difficult.

I know what people say; ‘you shouldn’t wait for inspiration,’ ‘find your own motivation,’ ‘just keep going and working through no matter what you feel that day.’

But they are not me.

Someone of them are more successful and they use that to conquer the bad days. Others, have to do it because otherwise they won’t survive so they can’t give up. The rest are chasing their dream, the knowledge of one day getting there seeing them through.

I’m in between all of that; successful but not, surviving just, wanting the dream but also boarder line living it.

Everyday I see people moving on with their lives; getting married, having kids, getting a house, getting a better job, a new car, holidays and celebrations. Getting divorced, losing everything, maybe living on the streets for awhile but then rising back up like a phoenix and going through it all again.

Whilst, I feel trapped. I’m living through the characters I write about, seeing the world and problems through them, feeling their emotions. Some say that’s living better then anyone else, for why would you actually want to go through that?

You know what I call it? Fake living.

I can go to the park and watch the children playing and the parents talking and instead of thinking about my own life, I’m thinking about theirs’. What would happen if a child went suddenly missing? Or if that mum told that mum that she had slept with her husband? Why is that dad alone this afternoon? Is the man with the cap covering his face and trying to look normal really up to something bad?

Those thoughts can’t be helped. I try to stop the flow, to think of things I believe normal people think about; have a left the stove on? When are my library books due back? What happened to that girl I swapped numbers with at the bar last weekend? My life would be easier if that was the only stuff in my head.

I don’t know what to do about this lack of motivation again. I should maybe take a holiday, go some place new. Meet some new people too. Have a life again. It’s all well and good to live in your own fantasy world all the time, but sooner or later, you realise that it’s just not the real world no matter how hard you try.

 

Room 109

pexels-photo-271639

The hotel staff knew him like they knew the numbers on a clock which was very useful because he was always on time. He arrived without flash, in comfy clothes and carrying a small black suitcase. To anyone else he looked like a tourist, but the check in desk girls knew him not to be.

He said his name quietly and he would check in. With his card, he would take the lift up to his room and he would roll his suitcase down the carpet corridor and to the door. There, he let himself in and the door shut firmly behind him with the please do not disturb sign swinging.

He would be seen frequently around the hotel; in the restaurant, in the bar, in the lounge and lobby. Sometimes he would be typing away on a laptop, other times writing in a notebook and whilst he eat; reading a book, always alone. No one seemed really interested him in, a quick glance then on to what they were doing.

His stay could last a few days or a week, sometimes though it would be more than that; two or three weeks, a month or two. It just depend on what he needed. Then he would tidy his room and check out. Often looking more cheerful then he came in.

Months later in the post, the hotel always received a copy of his new novel.

Peace #writephoto

I had been wandering around for a few weeks looking for a quiet spot where I’d be undisturbed to finish editing my latest novel. All my normal places; my study, my bedroom, the library, the park, the coffee shops and pubs I haunted, hadn’t allowed me to complete my work.

It wasn’t lack of motivation, determination or inspiration that was stopping me, it was more the background distractions. So, I had come out here to the middle of the woods to find the peace I needed. It was a bright hot day, unusual English summer time weather but also a week day so most people were trapped in work and school.

It had been awhile since I had last strolled or ran through the woods, so I was surprised to come across the wooden sculpture of a bed. It was made out of thick, but smoothed down tree trunk cut in half with a smaller part of the trunk shaped into a pillow.

I sat down, thinking it would be too hard to sit for long, but actually it was quite comfy. Settling back against the pillow, I set up myself to work and some good hours later I had finished editing my novel and was napping in the dappled shade.

 

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/07/06/thursday-photo-prompt-peace-writephoto/ with thanks)

Dead Line

pexels-photo-207531.jpeg

The house phone rang and because I was hard at work editing my magazine, I picked it up on auto.

‘Hello?’ I spoke.

‘Good afternoon, Mrs Guilding,’ an man with a heavy Indian accent spoke.

I frowned into the phone. A cold caller for sure. I carried on typing away, too busy to stop.

The voice continued speaking without seeming to pause for breath, ‘my name is Kevin and I am calling you from the Peoples’ Life Survey. May I ask you some household questions? It’ll only take a few minutes of your time.’

‘Sorry, I’m not interested…’ I cut in.

‘Please, Mrs. I shall make it as quick as possible,’ Kevin voice’s rushed.

I sighed. I didn’t have time for this. I went to say goodbye and hang up the phone but Kevin bet me to speaking.

‘Don’t worry!’ he said.

Then the line went dead.

Puzzled, I took my phone from my ear before pressing it back again. The dial tone beeped like a steady heartbeat. I hit the end call button and placed the phone down. I could get on with my editing again.

A strange feeling crept over me. My mind began turning over those words and making them into some sinister.

I stopped working and got up. I had been sat for about four hours. Now, my body became awake. I had to use the bathroom and get a drink, maybe some food. Walking past the window, I peered out through the blinds. Everything looked normal out there. I walked out of the study, went to the bathroom then the kitchen.

Whilst I was making coffee and a sandwich, the phone rang again.

Ah! Kevin. We must have just got cut off. There’s nothing weird going on.

I picked up the kitchen phone, fully expecting to hear his voice again. Instead all I got was a beeping sound followed by white noise.

I checked the phone out, wondering if it was something wrong with my line. Placing the phone back, I picked it up again. The dial tone was just as steady as before. Shrugging, I finished making my late lunch and went into the conservatory to eat it.

The glass room was warm and comforting. The pale walls and wicker furniture give it a summer feel though looking outside the weather had decided to rain today. Settling into the sofa, I listened to the wind and rain outside, relaxing into the silence.

The phone rang. I had sandwich in my mouth. Swallowing, I got up and answered the phone.

‘Hello?’ I spoke.

The line was fuzzy was static.

A voice broke through, ‘Kevin…The Peoples’ Life Survey…I ask you question?’

‘I’m sorry. The line is really bad,’ I responded.

‘Make it quick, yes,’ Kevin shouted.

‘No. Bye.’

I hung up the phone.

When I had finished lunch, I sat for a few more minutes and watched the rain fall. Kevin was still on my mind. What was that all about? I glanced at the phone. Willing it to ring, so I could asked him.

The phone stayed silent for the rest of the day.

Writer Struggles

paper-623167_1920

I can no longer feel it in my heart and soul. Where once I had energy and passion there is only a dry husk. I feel there is nothing left inside of me to write about. Every place I look for motivation I find none.

Sitting at the bus stop or lingering in a closing cafe, I listen and watch the people just like I have done for years. My mind draws no pictures around them. They are normal people with normal lives. Not fantasy heroes or Victorian heroines ready for adventures.

Searching in the library, I find books on writing, but I’ve read them all before. I look for more, anything that draws my attention, anything that might get the gears working in my head again. I leave with my arms full of books and spend all day and night reading, but it doesn’t solve my problem.

I go to the doctor and tell him the voices have stopped talking in my head. He smiles and says but isn’t that what everyone wants? What’s the problem? I shout back, but I’m a writer and my life depends on those voices! He shrugs, tells me to eat healthier, have a holiday, and take up a new hobby.

At home I lay in bed, watching spider shadows across the ceiling. I think about what if I’d not been born me. What if I’d been born someone else? Like my doctor or the old lady who always gets the same bus as me. What if I was leading a totally different life right now?

Would I miss writing? Would I even know I had a gift?

I once had a gift.

Now there’s only empty space inside of my head with cotton candy clouds floating by. I wonder if Heaven is like this?

In the morning, I get up and pack a suitcase and rucksack. Of my writing suppliers, I take only an old comforting notebook and a favorite pen. I go to the train station, choose the next train to the furthest away place and buy a one way ticket.

Hopefully inspiration will be waiting at the end of the line.

The Wall

writer-1421099_1920

I was typing away that night as normal then the next second nothing. My fingers stopped moving, my mind shut down and I slowly slipped from my chair. I remember that, but only because I saw it like I was watching it happen to someone else.

I was sat on the floor for a long time, staring but not seeing, not thinking anything, just like a robot that had been turned off. I must have lay down at some point and shut my eyes because when I woke the night had passed and sunlight was coming in through the small Tutor windows.

My back and limbs were stiff from laying on the four hundred year old floor. I got up feeling numb tingles throughout my body, I stretched and wondered what had happened. Had I fallen asleep working again? That wasn’t uncommon.

Getting up, on unsteady legs and went to my desk. There was still a piece of paper in the type writer. Not like me at all. I sat down and looked at it but I couldn’t read the writing. It was like it was in another language. I pulled the paper out and looked at it harder, but I still couldn’t read it.

I turned to the last full page I had wrote and scanned through it. Once again though, I had the same problem. I couldn’t understand the words! Placing the paper down, I got up again and hobbled from the room. I went downstairs and into the bathroom.

After that and having something to eat in the kitchen. I took a walk in my garden then in the village. All the houses here dated from Tutor times and in the late spring sun shine they looked like zebras on a grassy plain.

I went back home and sat at my desk again. The words on the page made more sense. I tried to carry on were I’d left off, but nothing happened. No words formed in my head and my fingers didn’t move on the keys.

Something was wrong.

I shut my eyes and thought about my novel. I called the characters out and pictured the plot I was weaving, but nothing came.

I opened my eyes again and realised I had hit the wall.

 

1,000 Posts Reached!

pexels-photo.jpg

Hi everyone!

I just wanted to share my good news that I’ve reached a 1,000 posts on this blog!

Actually, I hit that number a few days but I’ve been super busy and not had time to write this post!

This should mean that I’ve written 1,000 short stories but due to some of the stories being divided into parts and my two or three novellas I’ve not reached that target it. I’m still aiming for that, even though I’m currently working on a new novella!

Lately, I’ve been thinking of changing my posting schedule and going from a story a day to a story every other day, or just two-four etc a week. This is because I now have a full time job and two part time jobs, so actually finding the time to write a story a day has become more a challenge.

My plan is to keep it up for as long as possible. I enjoy writing and I started this blog to get myself back into writing stories and to have a routine. I’ve come along way in both my writing, job and life since I started this blog 3 years ago.

Hopefully, I can make it continue somehow.

Thank you all so much for your support,

Hayley