The Paper Mill (Part 3)

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I went home, got my college stuff and caught the bus. Resting my head against the wet window, my thoughts drifted and before I knew it, the bus was stopping outside the college’s gates. Getting off, I headed straight for the library which was either going to be packed or….empty.

There was no one in the lobby, not even a librarian at the desk. I turned back, checked the open sign in the window then with a shrug walked though. The tables and sofas running down the left side were strangely empty. Tall bookcases set up like dominoes were on the other side. There was a staircase straight to my right which I went up.

Pushing through the double doors, I heard whispers of voices and saw two woman at a table with books scattered around them. Feeling better that I wasn’t alone, I went to the section of books I needed and starting gathering more research for my essay. It did take a little while but soon, I was totally focused on my studies.

By the time I left the library, due to the fact it was closing early, the sky was so dark it seemed to be the middle of the night. I huddled in the bus shelter with three other people- a girl and two guys- who held a mixture of conversions. My bag was heavy with books as I’d taken out so I had some more to get through the weekend with. I kept switching shoulders with it then finally give up and set it down my feet.

It was raining lightly now but the wind had really picked up and I could feel the cold through my winter coat. I looked at the bus time table again and noticed the bus was late. I hope they hadn’t cancelled. If the weather and the darkness had been better I would have walked again. The paper mill came back into my head and I hoped the girl was okay.

The bus emerged from the black road and came to a stop before us. I hurried on and took a seat close to the front. There were a few other people on the bus and they all looked as wet and cold as us students did. During the drive, I thought about getting off at the stop close to the mill, but I decided I was too tried and hungry to do that. Plus, I’d have to walk back too.

Arriving at home, I showered and got changed, so I was warmer, then I heated up a can of soup. Eating before the glow of the TV, I blocked out the loneliness of the house. My grandparents had gone for a month and wouldn’t be back for another week. Perhaps, that was why I was so desperate about the homeless girl? I was too tried to think any more.

Leaving the hall light on, I went up to bed. I read for bit before laying in the dimly lit room. The wind was still howling outside and the rain was hitting the window. I thought it would take me awhile to sleep but it came on my quickly. I didn’t have any dreams and I felt refreshed.

Getting up and ready, I saw it had stopped raining. I made breakfast and decided I had to go back to the abandoned mill. I packed up some more food- things that were going out of date from the fridge, some fruit and more tins. This time I also went into the attic and found an old but still good sleeping bag and a pillow.

Walking over, the sky threatened more rain and I past a few cars driving about. At the rows of houses there was more activity as children played outside and parents unloaded shopping. I got a look off an older man and it took me a few moments to realise he was wondering where I was going with a sleeping bag in one hand and a pillow poking out of a carry bag in the other. He’d did’t say anything though.

The paper mill looked the same though in the morning light I could see more of the decay and nature taking over. I crept in, across the courtyard and inside the main building. There was water dripping somewhere and the creaking of wood. I didn’t need my torch this time and I was able to got the right way too!

The girl was still in the room and as I entered the doorway, I saw her piling damp wood closer to the fire pit. She was wearing the coat, bobble hat and a pair of trousers that I had given her. My heart leaped and I felt better.

‘Hello,’ I called.

She stopped, give me a nod and set the wooden planks down.

‘Do the clothes fit?’ I asked walking in.

She give a shrug and said something that I missed.

‘I thought maybe you’d like this too,’ I said and held out the sleeping bag and pillow.

She came and took them from me and whilst she was looking at them, I took the rucksack off and began emptying it. I set all the food down then zipped up the rucksack and slipped it on again. I smiled at her.

‘Why…do you keep doing this?’ she said slowly.

‘I guess because….’ I frowned and really thought about why.

‘Are you sorry for me? Is that why?’ she demanded.

‘No!’ Well, maybe a little…’

‘I don’t need your pity,’ she snapped.

She crossed her arms over her chest and turned her head away.

I pressed my lips together and replied, ‘I’d have been throwing all this away anyway…’

She didn’t responded. I shifted around on my feet and decided it was time I admitted the truth to her and myself.

‘I’m lonely. I guess that’s why…’ I said.

Our eyes meet then she looked me up and down.

‘I don’t believe you,’ she answered.

Sighing, I spoke, ‘guess that is bit odd but it’s the truth.’

‘I don’t need friends. They only stab you in the back,’ she explained, ‘I’m happy alone.’

Nodding, there was nothing else to say. I began to leave.

‘Don’t come back again,’ she said quietly, ‘I won’t be here.’

I glanced over my shoulder at her. The dirt on her child-like face and her unkempt dark hair stuck in my mind. Going home, I reflected on our conversion and decided I need to make more effort in class to make some friends.

I managed to stay away from the old paper mill for a week but then I had to go back again. I went empty handed this time because I just needed to know if she had left or not.

When I arrived, there was a new metal fence around the mill and signs warning people not to trespass and beware dangerous building. I pressed myself to the gate, looking at the mill and I saw that the doors and lower windows had been boarded up.

‘I hope you found somewhere else to go,’ I whispered.

Turning away, I went to catch the bus to meet my new friends for lunch.

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The Paper Mill (Part 2)

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Laying in bed, the bedside lamp on to keep the dark at bay, my thoughts kept going back to that girl. She had either run away from home or just didn’t have a home to go back to. I tried to imagine living like her; no family or college, no money or food, no bed or clean clothes. It would be hard. Tossing about, I finally settled down but my mind still wouldn’t turn off.

Tomorrow, I told myself, I’ll get somethings together and take them to her. Maybe she’ll talk to me then and perhaps I can help. Or maybe, the other side of my mind thought, I should just let it go. It’s none of my business. But by seeing and talking to her I had made it my business.

In the morning after a shower and breakfast, I should have sat down to work on one of my essays. I didn’t have classes today and tomorrow was Saturday, so I should have been thinking about going back to the library. Instead, that homeless girl was still in my mind, so I set about finding things she could have.

My parents had died when I was ten, so my grandparents had took me in. They were currently away on holiday, visiting their other daughter and grandchildren in America. There was still a lot of my parents’ things in the attic but I didn’t have time to look through all that. What if the girl had left the mill because I’d scared her? I needed to get there as soon as possible. Luckily, close to the front door was a bag of clothes my gran was putting out for charity collection.

There were a few of my tops that were too small now, but might fit her. I also selected an old green jumper and two pairs of my grandpa’s trousers. There was my old winter coat in the closet, a bobble hat and matching gloves. Taking everything back upstairs, I put the clothes in a rucksack then brought that down. In the kitchen, I took some tins of beans and soup that had ring pulls. Some cans of fizzy drink, bottles of water, a packet of biscuits that no one of liked and a bag of dried fruit.

With those in the bag, I wondered what else would a homeless girl need. Perhaps; sanitary towels, painkillers, matches, candles  and a few other bits of pieces. the rucksack was heavy but it would be worth it. I got ready to go, saw it was raining and decided on my wellington boots and an umbrella. Was there a spare one to take her? My grandpa liked to collect useful things, so at the back of the closet were a few spare umbrellas. I chose a small pink one then set off.

The day was dull and it must have been raining to awhile because there were large puddles and everything was dripping wet. I walked slowly, weighted down with the rucksack. Some of the streetlamps were still on but they didn’t seem to be doing a good job. I hoped it wouldn’t get any darker. Following the country lanes around and to the bridge I didn’t see anybody or cars.

Going over the river, I picked up my pace and hurried through the rows of houses to the mill. I squeezed the gap in the fence and made my way over. In the gloom and rain, the paper mill looked darker and more dirtier. I could hear the rain falling into holes in the roof and dripping off metal.

In through the door and I had to get my phone’s torch out to see. There was no keeping quiet with my wellingtons and heavy rucksack on the debris covered floor. I thought I went to the room she had been in, but I must have taken a wrong turn because I ended up at a metal staircase. At the top of which was a void of darkness. Shivering, I turned away and weaved my way back again. All the rooms looked the same but at last I found the right one.

‘Hello?’ I called, ‘It’s me Darcy.’

The fire wasn’t lit but there was enough dim light from the tall windows to see that she was still there. She was sat on the floor, huddled in dirty blankets with a sleeping bag wrapped around her. She turned and realised it was me.

‘I thought maybe….I could bring you somethings,’ I spoke, not sure what really to say.

She turned away from me without saying anything.

I walked over and placed the bag down.

‘It’s not much just some food and clothes,’ I added.

There was a large piece of cardboard next to my feet, so I sat down. I opened the bag and took anything out. She kept her head turned away from me as if I wasn’t there. Whatever I had been thinking might happen, it hadn’t been like this. But why would a teenage girl suddenly gush out her life story to a stranger she’d never meet over some old clothes and food? Had I really thought we’re going to become best friends?

I waited a few minutes, listening to the rain falling and feeling the cold stiffen my limbs. She was quiet, ignoring me and because she was keeping away from me, I couldn’t make out her face. I wanted to catch her eye so at least I could try and say something else, but she didn’t move.

‘Fine,’ I sighed, ‘I’ll go.’

I picked up the rucksack and slowly walked away. Every now and then I glanced over my shoulder, but the girl hadn’t moved. At the doorway, I stopped and thought about saying something else to her, reminding her of her manners maybe? Get angry and yelling out my disgust at her? Perhaps hoping her the best?

The words, whatever they were, wouldn’t come out so I turned away and walked back through. Even though my mind was still on her, I couldn’t help but think about what the paper mill would have been like in the past. It would have been loud with machines cutting up the trees and making the paper. The air would have been heavy with wood dust and chemicals. People would have been everywhere too.

I made it out in one go, only to find the rain had got heavier and the wind had picked up. I opened my umbrella and hurried home, my heart and thoughts weighed down.

 

To Be Continued…

The Paper Mill (Part 1)

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The worse thing about autumn was it got dark far too soon and I’d always been scared of the dark. I hadn’t meant for it to be so late when I left the college library but I’d been doing research for my last two essays of the year. I hadn’t notice the time until I’d left and gone to the bus stop. I’d missed the last bus home.

So either, I walked the half an hour into town and got another bus or I walked the forty minutes home. If it had been raining which made it darker, I might have gotten the bus but I decided that I could make walking home. Most of the way would be well lit by street lamps and I had gone this way lots of times in the last year.

Drawing up all my bravery, I set off at a hurried pace. My heavy rucksack almost dragging me back whilst making my shoulders ache, distracted me as I went. My college was on a limbo boarder of just being outside a village and on the edge of countryside. The fastest way home was to half walk through the village then go up some country lanes.

I was about halfway home and just about to walk over a small bridge. Behind me an abandoned 1800’s paper mill ruled over the little houses that had once been home to it’s workers. The village had sprung up around the mill but once they had cleared all the trees, it started to get expensive importing more, sales had dropped too and the mill had closed it’s doors.

I stopped and faced off with the darkness before me. A single street lamp on the bridge was the only barrier between us. Beyond that the quiet countryside seemed to stretch endlessly away. I could hear the faint flow of the low river going under the bridge and something else in the distance behind me.

I listened harder, half turning to the sound which was like a muffled crying. I looked back at a row of houses, most had dim lights in the windows and others were draped in black. The paper mill looked eerie, like a silent empty watchman. I tried to tell myself the noise was just a cat or a baby but this feeling of strangeness grew in my stomach.

What if someone was hurt and only I could help them?

Glancing at the bridge, my mind made a choice that I didn’t get a chance to think about. I turned away and walked back towards the houses. I followed the sound along those small well lit pavements, thinking at any moment I’d find the source. Arriving at the gates of the mill and peering though the towering bars, I spotted the flicker of a fire in a ground floor window.

A voice in my head told me to go and my feet began to move away but the rest of me stayed at the gate. The crying was coming from the mill. Thoughts ran though my head; it’s a trick of the darkness, it’s an echo from something else, it’s a ghost, a homeless person, an animal. Why am I here? Go home!

I couldn’t though…

Looking further along the metal fence, I found a hole large enough to fit through and I stepped into the cobbled courtyard of the mill. Trying to walk in a hurried but quiet way didn’t work, so instead I give up trying to hide my presence and just went over to the steps. Looking up, I could make out how run down the mill was now but there was too much darkness to see further.

I went to the window the fire was coming from. I couldn’t see in though as the wall was too tall. My hands touched the cold damp stone and quickly withdrew as if something had bitten me. Coming away, I crept around for a bit, trying not to let the deep darkness creep me out more. Every shadow was a good hiding place for someone and I was just waiting for something to happen. My throat got dry, my heartbeat was loud and fear was making me sweat despite the cold evening.

Taking out my phone and putting the torch app on, give me some more light and helped to keep the shadows at bay. I found a half open metal door and slipped into the building. There was a maze of rooms and a musty smell. Carefully walking, I spent a good few minutes figuring out where the fire was burning. Trying to convince myself it was just kids messing around and perhaps one had got left behind, helped make me feel better.

Standing in the doorway of the right room, I saw a small fire on the floor and next to it was a small humped over person shape.

‘Hello?’ I called out.

The shape moved, twisting around to look at me whilst gasping. I couldn’t make anything out as my phone light didn’t reach so far and there wasn’t enough light coming from the fire. I heard scrambling and the person getting up and moving.

‘I’m not going to hurt you,’ I spoke in a shaky voice, ‘I think I heard you crying. Do you need help?’

‘No,’ the voice of a girl sounded back.

I sighed, glad the person wasn’t a man nor hurt. I waved in the door, wanting to move closer but then not moving as there might be danger.

‘What do you want?’ the girl demanded.

‘Nothing,’ I replied, ‘what are you doing here?’

‘This is my home!’

‘Your…?’ I trailed and looked at what I could see.

Then I stepped inside the room. It was bare but for the fire and small pile of stuff on the floor. I got closer to the fire, drawn by the heat and I saw a girl in her late teens, just like me. She was wearing layers of ripped clothes, her hair and face were dirty but she was standing defensively, ready to fight.

‘I’m Darcy,’ I spoke to break up the tension.

She shook her head at me.

‘How did you end up here? Where are your parents?’

‘None of your business. Go away,’ she snapped.

I frowned and thought about saying more. I had the urge to help her but what could I do? Turning away, I walked back to the doorway. Then with a glance at her went through and tried to remember the way out.

 

To Be Continued…

The Cook Book

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The witch took her favourite cook book out and began turning the heavy yellow pages. She wasn’t sure what to make, something to poison the neighbourhood kids or a light snack for herself?

‘Ah, mashed monster stew!’ she crackled, ‘that’s perfect for this stormy night!’

 

(Inspired from; https://first50.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/the-cookbook/ with thanks).

Believe

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I wanted to believe my daughter but how could there really be a ghost living under the kitchen sink? Opening the lime green cupboard doors slowly, I peered inside, knowing nothing was going to spring out at me but wanting to be careful for my daughter.

Glancing at Sasha as she sat at the table, watching me with large brown eyes which were like my own, I knew she was holding her breath. She lent forward on the chair, trying to see under the sink around me.

I opened the doors fully and looked inside. There was the normal collection of cleaning supplies and pipes. I moved things around as if searching for the ‘ghost’ and the plastic bottles splashed their toxic contents around. Making a mental note to put wood varnish on the shopping list, I came out.

‘No, ghost in there,’ I spoke.

Sasha had her hands over her mouth. She shook her head at me then quickly pointed into the top right corner of the cupboard.

Sighing, I checked again. There was just a small empty cobweb. I closed the doors and went over to her. My mind turning  what I should say to her. She was only five and knew of ghosts from Halloween and stories but that was it. What had now made her think they were real?

Sitting down, I said, ‘what does the ghost look like?’

‘Like me, only see through and he’s a boy,’ she answered.

‘Does he have a name?’

‘Sammy.’

I nodded, trying to keep my expression blank though my emotions were flashing on. She’s just making it up….there’s no way she could have found out.

‘Can you really not see him, mummy?’ Sasha asked.

I looked over at the sink cupboard.

‘He says he misses you…’

‘That’s enough now! Ghosts are not real!’ I snapped and stood up.

Sasha let out a little gasp and bit her lip. Sadness crossed her face and her eyes grew wet.

‘Let’s go to the park,’ I said as a distraction.

For the rest of the day I couldn’t stop thinking about the ghost. It was just too strange that she had called him Sammy and said he was about her age. There was no way I could ask her more though but there was some else who I could demand answers from.

That night as Sasha slept and my husband and I got ready for bed, I turned to him and told him, ‘Sasha says there’s a ghost living under the kitchen sink.’

‘Really? Where there? Don’t ghosts like attics, basements and old places?’ he put in.

‘She also said the ghost was like her, but a boy and is name was Sammy.’

My husband took in sharp breath as he got into bed. He looked at me then turned his attention fully to pulling back the duvet and plumping the pillows. I knew his thoughts and mine were one.

‘I didn’t tel her anything,’ he said to break the silence between us.

I sighed and we both got into bed, ‘I knew you didn’t,’ I replied, ‘but it’s just…’

My husband took my hand, ‘It’ll pass. it’s just make believe.’

I nodded and tried to get it out of my head but it stuck at the back of my mind.

 

A few days later, whilst I was making dinner and Sasha was colouring at the table, she asked me suddenly, ‘Sammy wants to know why you don’t talk about him any more.’

I dropped the knife I was chopping onions with and spun to her.

‘What?’

Sasha looked up from her colouring, waiting for an answer with a determined face.

I picked up the knife, giving myself time to think.

‘He’s not real,’ I answered slowly.

Sasha got down from the table and went to the sink. She opened the cupboard and looked inside.

I had to come over and wash the knife, so I came to her side and after doing that, I looked under the sink again. I still couldn’t see anything. I felt Sasha watching me.

‘Sammy wants to know why you don’t love him anymore, mummy,’ she said.

‘I do…love him…Do you know who Sammy is, Sasha?’ I asked her with a bubble in my throat and pain circling my heart.

‘He’s my twin brother,’ she answered.

I gasped and knelt down, a hand on her shoulder as I looked into the cupboard.

Of course, there was nothing there.

Tears clouded my vision and I couldn’t stop myself as I cried hard on the kitchen floor.

 

(Inspired from; https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/believe/ with thanks).

Flow #writephoto

Life is like the flow of a river, I realised looking up at the waterfall from the canvas I had been painting on. You start off like a spring then become a stream, turning this way and that as you take different paths. Then you join a river and carry on going through things; some good and some bad, changing and growing older. Finally, you join the sea ending your life.

I looked down at the canvas balanced on the small easel, the painting I had done was a likeness of the waterfall and mossy rocks below, but I didn’t like it. Some of the strokes looked childlike and I really hadn’t captured the true beautiful force of the waterfall. I signed and began to pack up. It was always the same when I paused and valuated my art; I couldn’t go on when I became negative about it.

When I was done, I stood and watched the river carrying on tumbling down. The sound was so calming and mixed in with the soft singing of the birds and the rustle of the trees this place was a peaceful spot. The river then bubbled past me and away into a cluster of trees towards the next waterfall. It began raining.

I looked up at the sky frowning then ducked into the cover of some trees. A thought popped into my head; this is the full circle of water. I watched the raindrops falling in the ground and realised that we too became a part of the earth, only we didn’t raise up again. It was a morbid thought but at the same time reassuring.

The river couldn’t stop it’s flow and nor could we stop the flow of life.

 

(Inspired by https://scvincent.com/2017/09/21/thursday-photo-prompt-flow-writephoto/ with thanks).

Opening #TaleWeaver

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They had been travelling through the wormhole for months now and hadn’t seen anything. With the massive transporter spaceship on emergency power though something could easily have been missed, but Captain said it was for the best if they all wanted to survive.

Looking out into the pitch dark nothingness, Kes sighed and wished he’d trusted his gut when they had first seen the wormhole. If he’d only spoken out sooner…but then there had been a lot of ifs in his life. If only he’d tried harder at school and army pilot cadet camp, if only he hadn’t broken up with Lu, if only he hadn’t be come so broke he’d had to take the only pilot job offered to him.

Kes growled and threw the green stress ball he had been playing with at the large window. It bounced off and flew over his shoulder. He glanced behind, trying to spot where it had gone, but it was lost, just like they were. Sprawling in the deep chair, he thought about trying to sleep. He was meant to be on watch, but what did it matter?

Something flashed to his left, Kes eyed it, thinking it only a button on the control desk. Then though, the green flash got bigger and brighter. Kes sat up, realising it was something outside. Had they finally found the wormhole’s exit? He stood up, so he could see more and watch as the green flashes took a shape that looked like a circle made up of connected chains.

He pressed a small yellow button close to his right hand and spoke so the whole spaceship could hear him, ‘there’s something ahead. Possible tunnel or an exit. Everyone prepare for anything.’

Sitting down, Kes thought about awaking the engines out of sleep and switching all the power back on, but his fingers stopped above all the buttons. What if this was nothing? What if it was just a dream?

He tried to shake himself awake then the Captain and first mate came through the door. They took the the two empty seats to Kes’ right side and looked at the green circle which had stopped flashing now.

‘What does the computer say?’ the captain asked.

Kes looked and realised he hadn’t bothered to ask it. He shrugged and went to but then the green circle seemed to expended or maybe it actually wasn’t and they just had reached it. The spaceship entered the circle and went right through without any problems. Before them, the blackness changed and became lit with stars and planets.

‘We made it,’ Kes uttered.

‘Where are we though?’ the first mate asked.

‘It doesn’t matter,’ Kes snapped back, ‘at least we are finally out of there!’

 

(Inspired from; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2017/09/14/tale-weaver-137-14917-opening with thanks.)

Teeth #OneLinerWednesday

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The dentist frowned down at his patient and sighing deeply said, ‘Mr Green, please stop gluing your teeth back in, it won’t help them stop chattering in the chilly weather!’

(Inspired from; https://lindaghill.com/2017/09/13/one-liner-wednesday-cheating/ with thanks).

What I Want

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What I want is simple enough, I wrote in my journal,  I want to feel the fall leaves brushing past me and winter’s icy breath on my skin. I want to watch the early nights come then curl up before a fire with a hot chocolate. What I want is to walk during the dry days and sat reading on the rainy ones all though this season and the next.

I paused, tapping the top of the pen against my lips. Thinking, I then added; If only I could do that! If people could be like the animals that hibernated then winter would be more joyful. I could just do what I want; the above. But life doesn’t work that way and the rain and snow don’t stop peoples’ plans. 

Still though, to be a squirrel running around and collecting food, scampering through the leaves and curling in a little hidey-hole to sleep. That life seems simple and easy. But then I wouldn’t be able to read or sleep by a fire! And what if the other squirrels were mean to me?

No, I guess being me is easier for the moment, even if that’s not what I truly want.      

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2017/09/07/tale-weaver-136-7917-what-i-want/ with thanks.)

Window

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The window stood open and all I had to do was jump, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. The dazzling street was far below me, hazy in the summer heat and packed with tourists. A mingle of voices and traffic rose upwards, blending into the other city background noises.

I was balanced on the bottom rail, the cold metal biting into my bare feet and my toes curled around the edge. My hands pressed into the top rail, my fingers tightly wrapped around. It was if my body was refusing to move from this spot and rebelling against the wanting of my brain.

My lungs started to burn with the breath I had been holding. I tried not to think about it but instinct kicked in and I opened my mouth breathed. This city smelt both familiar and foreign; sweat, pollution, car fumes, spices, warm food and dust. It was hard to separate all those different scents.

I stayed tense and looked out over the city. I had been here a few times now, but it had been awhile since I’d last been. The narrow, twisty cobblestone streets and tiny back alleyways looked like a rats’ maze. The multi-colored two or three store houses were so close together that neighbors could lean out of their windows and have a chat.

Looking beyond, it was easy to mistake the line of pale blue sky for the sea. The coast was about forty minutes away and I had walked across the deep sand beach a few times. I remember thinking I was in paradise. There was a scattering of sitting people drinking out of coconuts or pineapple halves whilst couples hand in hand walked through the lapping waves.

There was too much pain in my body to remain on the railings. I got down, my limbs stiff and went inside to the small sofa. I sank down, my attention draw to the dark screen of the TV. It was stuffy in here, too much heat had gotten in. I put the ceiling fan on and it spun lazily. Watching the fan, I let my thoughts tumble.

It had been my plan to come here and die. I wasn’t sure why but for some reason this city and this room had stuck in my head. I had wanted to be far from home so I wouldn’t have the chance to back out again but I didn’t have the will to do it. Trying to think about the whys added to my tiredness.

I got up and went to lay on the bed. I put the fan on in here too though it was already cool because I had kept the windows and curtains closed this morning. Face down, I stretched out on the sheets, frustrated with myself.