Thursday, 17 October 2019

Friday Fictioneers - 17 October 2019










Photo prompt:  Rochelle Wisoff-Fields


The shop lights illuminated the cobbled paving, glowing bright white and golden, enhanced by the street lights suspended above the pedestrianised area.  Sheila winced at her last mouthful of cold coffee, surprised she’d managed to make it last for an hour.  The dirty looks sent her way by the proprietor of the café told her she must move.  Stealing herself she opened the café door and walked out in to cold loneliness wondering if anybody she saw before her were happy in their lives.  Nobody noticed her which summed up her humdrum existence, stuck in the rat race of corporate business.  

WEP - HORRIBLE HARVEST October 2019





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Here is my story:


Nita loved the smell as she walked in the church, the old wood from the pews reeked from years and years of dust hidden by the polish loving rubbed in by the gnarled hands of the ladies who took pride in making the very uncomfortable seats at least a pleasure to look at.

The aisle adorned with the autumnal leaves intertwined with vines of ivy enhancing added floral touches to the aroma.   

The traditional exhibits were on display, corn dollies, sheaves of wheat, flowers and berries artfully arranged, a centrepiece of a wheatsheaf loaf, only edible for the poor church mice who would nibble at it every now and again.  

Sunlight sparkled through the large stained-glass window, the smaller fan lights reflecting the prisms of colour that lit up the eaves of the church, dust motes danced inbetween the wooden rafters. She would certainly miss these moments.
 
The secret she’d been hugging to herself over the last few months was approaching D-Day.  The day she left this life behind her for her true calling.  No longer would she be Nita, the daughter of the vicar and his wife, the spinster daughter, although these days 33 wasn’t that old not to be married – or rather ‘in a relationship’ whether it was ‘complicated’ or not.  She was counting the days down until she gained her freedom.  Not the little country mouse that wouldn’t say ‘boo to a goose,’ not the dutiful daughter who made the tea, baked the cakes and helped her parents out in their religious calling.

It helped that her parents had no idea what a laptop was let alone what she did on it every spare moment.  She worked late in to the night most evenings, another life, another calling, freedom beckoned her.  Would she miss her old life?  No.  Would she miss her parents?  Yes and no.  She’d miss their love but not their restrictions.  She’d let them know she was safe a few months down the line.

Nita walked out of the church, through the brass-studded oak door, up the crazed pathway with gravestones either side of her, she lingered under the lych gate, just for a moment, shrugging off the doubt and that tiny voice she thought she heard calling her name.

There was another voice calling her, louder this time.  She couldn’t ignore it as she stopped herself from running home, walking sedately as befitted her character. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tim and Catherine clung together.  There had been no sign of Nita for three weeks now.  Tim tried to carry on with his duties but the powers that be made him take sick leave.  Catherine’s grey hairs had now turned pure white making her look 20 years older than her actual age of 50. 

The police had no leads, there were no clues.  Nita’s bedroom was tidy, as neat as nine-pins, nothing disturbed, nothing missing.  Her clothes were still hanging in an orderly fashion in her wardrobe, other items neatly folded and pressed in her drawers.  No diary, no notes, no letters.  As far as anybody knew she had no friends, nowhere to go, she’d made no phone calls from the landline in the house and she didn’t have a mobile phone.

That is where everybody was wrong.  Nita did have clothes with her.  She did have her mobile phone with her along with her laptop that nobody seemed to know about.

The private detective had used his contacts and traced her last steps.  Frank travelled to the next county and the one beyond that and the ones adjacent to those, following good leads, false leads, hopes and let-downs.  The sightings were of a different girl but his instincts were now in play.  He was sure he was on to something.  
~~~~~~~~~~~~
Mark glanced across at his girlfriend.  Yes, she was just what his boss wanted.  Naïve and gullible, untouched, unsullied, hard-working.  He appreciated her figure as she bent to wipe the table down after the last customer left his tiny café.  One more week he had to enjoy her laughter, her innocence and then it would be time.  It was such a shame but that was the price he paid.  To keep his own daughter safe, he’d made a pact with the devil.  Only this devil was a human.   A nasty piece of work who only harvested the best.  He trawled the internet, social media and all sorts of places seeking out his prey, vulnerable victims.  He didn’t stop at women, he would take men, young boys, all sorts. 

He was a hedonist, a psychopath, a cruel and sadistic man always adding to his crop but only ever at harvest time.  Mark groomed them by making them feel safe, secure in their new life, an opportunity to take them away from their boring, dull lives.  Then he passed them on, drugging them before transporting them to their new surroundings.  Only occasionally did his own conscience trouble him then he looked at his own daughter safe and sound and coddled in his love.  His one mistake, when she was only a few days old, had cost him and would cost him until the end of his days.

Nita startled as something banged against the café’s window.  She looked up seeing a man loitering on outside on the pavement, peering in through the steamed-up panes.  He opened the door, the bell tinkling prettily announcing his arrival.  He ordered tea and a bacon roll looking deep into her eyes as she wrote his order on her pad.

Smiling at him she scurried away to prepare his drink and food.  Mark hissed at her, unusual for him, hurry up we close in 20 minutes.  She shrank back from his tone, usually he was kindness itself.

Frank checked his phone, the picture of the girl he was seeking had the same bone structure as his waitress.  His gut was right.  He’d found her. Now came the hard part, persuading her she was in danger and she needed to leave with him. 

Word count: 1000 FCA


Thursday, 22 August 2019

WEP - August 2019 - The Red Wheelbarrow - DL


It's time for the WEP+ IWSG bi-monthly writing challenge.
http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com

Here is my story.


Laura hadn’t slept a wink last night knowing today they were moving in to their new home.  Kevin snored most of the night, nothing worried him, nothing fazed him, he just ‘went with the flow.’  She couldn’t wait to get out of this flat and into a house with a garden.  A garden no less.  She’d been looking online as to what plants she could grow but frustratingly moving in November was not really conducive to producing many plants. 

The promised mown lawn didn’t happen, not unexpected, the bonus was their flat had sold in record time and there was no chain for the new house so the exchange of contracts was plain sailing.   
She shut the 6.00 a.m. alarm off and prodded Kevin.  He jumped straight out of bed and started talking nineteen-to-the dozen about the tight schedule they had to keep today.  Laura smiled to herself, she’d arranged it all, marked all the boxes and had a plan for where each item of furniture was to go.  She’d give the removal men copies of that plan and hoped they would keep to it.

Christmas came and went, New Year they toasted each other in front of the brand-new log-burning fire which was their home-warming/Christmas present to each other.  It was so lovely being in this house.  There was such a nice vibe to it.  They planned and plotted and set out their goals for the following year, a major one being to sort out the garden and deal with the shed at the bottom of the garden.  The key to the padlock had been lost many years ago by the previous owner.  Kevin was going to break the lock and ‘find’ the treasures that were held inside the shed.  Laura was certain all he would find would be rotted floor planks, spider’s webs and probably nests of mice.

Laura was weeding the garden during a lovely spring Saturday morning when she heard Kevin shouting for her from the end of the garden.  She made her way through the uneven path (they really must get estimates from a paving company) to see Kevin grinning like a madman.

‘Ta-da!’

A rusty wheelbarrow with a flat tyre balanced precariously before him.  Kevin’s expression was one of utter happiness.  Laura’s mouth gaped open in astonishment.   A rusty wheelbarrow, whatever next? 

‘Can’t you see it, Laura love?  This would make a fine feature in our garden.  You could do all sorts of things with it.’

Dubious Laura walked around the galvanised metal container, her finger nails picking at the flaking rust patches.  Her imagination started working.  Rub down the rust, paint it with anti-rust stuff – Google here she came ‘cos she’d need help.  Perhaps she could paint it.  A vibrant red with a profusion of colourful flowers, some trailing over the edges.  There would be odds and end in there every time you looked you saw something different.  A fairy garden.  A dragon haven.  An exotic paradise.  Oh, the sky was the limit.

Kevin received a promotion at work.  He worked long hours travelling away for a couple of days.  Laura didn’t mind so much now her barrow project was nearly finished.  She’d scrubbed, scraped, sanded, smoothed and painted her wheelbarrow.  A new tyre and rubber grip handles had been fixed to it.  She wanted it ready for the August Bank Holiday so she could unveil it at a family get-together she had arranged.  The garden was neat and tidy, the walkway had been paved and they’d even splashed out and had decking built along the back of the house. 

Laura and Kevin stood at the doorway welcoming family, drinks were poured, seats taken in the garden, whispering started, what was under that tarpaulin?  Who did they think they were?  Somebody famous who was going to do a great unveiling?

Laura heard some of those remarks, she hid her tears as she put the finishing touches to the food. They made sure everybody had food and waited until the plates were cleared and people’s glasses were refilled.

Kevin stood one side of the cover with Laura on the other side.  Kevin made a little speech.  He said how much he loved their new home; how hard they had worked to make it their own little paradise.  He said how much he loved Laura and how he appreciated all the time and effort she had put in to making their home a loving one.  Now he wanted to show his family and hers what a creative person she was.

Together they lifted the tarpaulin and stood aside waiting for – well they thought maybe they would get a few oohs and aahs or maybe even some applause.  That didn’t happen.  As one their families started to laugh, first trying to smother their giggles behind their hands as they pointed and mocked and started shaking their heads in disbelief. 

They always knew this couple were strange but really, a red wheelbarrow with yellow flowers and a full skeleton inside it, they needed to be locked up.  It wasn’t a normal thing to do, no way.  First the cousins looked at their watches, is that the time, we really must be going.  Then the older generation decided they needed to go and get things done and finally everybody left, no goodbyes, no thank you’s, no good wishes, they just left.

Kevin and Laura held each other tightly, murmuring to each other that they weren’t strange.  Not strange, not odd, not mad, not crazy, just artistic, creative, perhaps a little ‘out there.’ 

The family hadn’t stayed for the best bit. The announcement that Laura had been booked for an exhibition in New York. Her wheelbarrow had won first prize in a gardening competition and would be transported to the USA, included in the competition was a two-week luxury stay in a prime hotel in the centre of the city. 

Now the sky really was the limit.  Laura was on her way no matter what her family thought.


999 words

Thursday, 13 June 2019

WEP Challenge - CAGED BIRD June 2019

It's time to join in the WEP Challenge for June 2019. 
JOIN OUR PARTNERSHIP! WEP/IWSG!


To see the rules and guidelines please visit:
http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com


Here is my entry: 

CAGED

Her mother looked after her father, she cleaned, did the laundry, did the cooking, did the dishes all without any help.  Hetty would rise early, rake out the embers from the bottom of the Rayburn*, relight the fire and get the water boiler ready for the day.  She would knead the dough for the bread placing it in the bottom oven to prove before baking it later in the day to ensure that there was fresh bread to go with Fred’s dinner in the evening when he came in from work.  Fred did the heavy work, digging the garden, fixing stuff in the house, he was quite the handyman.  She’d relegate him to the shed at Christmas to pluck the turkey, or to gut and skin rabbits so that she could make rabbit pies and Christmas dinners.  He drove her everywhere. 

She knew where the lines were.

He knew where the lines were.

Her daughters should have known where the lines were.


Eileen wasn't going to be like all those other wives, nope, not her.  Her husband would bow to her commands.  He would show her respect, love and admiration.  He would do his share in the house.  She would not expect him to cook, nope.  She would do all the cooking; she wouldn't trust his cooking anyway.  He could do the dishes, put the hoover round when he wasn’t working.  He should help her even when she told him there wasn't anything he could do.

Charles was a good earner, a man with prospects.  She would have a good life.  He provided all the nice things she wanted for the home and hearth.  He would buy her nice jewellery but she would choose it herself, he had no taste, it was much better if he was shown what she wanted.  Not like her engagement ring he sent to her in the post!  OK, so what that she’d chosen it from the catalogue, ringed it, dog-eared the page and left in his uniform pocket as he boarded the train to London before he travelled on to join his ship at Portsmouth. 

He should know what to do.

She knew what to do.

She taught him what to do.


Maggie wanted fun.  Ray was her husband, useless as an earner, always had an eye out for a bargain but didn’t give her enough money to feed them and their three kids.  Maggie worked part-time, field work, bar work, scrimped and made-do until one day, the fun had gone.  Life was a drudge.  She felt caged in until she escaped in to the arms of another.

He was the love of her life.

She was the love of his life.

They both found pastures new.


Now Eileen and Maggie’s daughters and sons lead different lives, some better, some still fighting for release.  All the offspring have different views on life and partners, husbands and wives.  Some tried the traditional route, felt trapped.  Some tried the hippy life, still trapped.  Some even tried same sex partners, caged in.

They were taught to be better.

They thought they had better.

Was it really better?

Who can tell? 

What will their children do with their lives, how will they live with others? 

Is everyone caged in some way or another?   

Will a second, third or any chances come their way?  Only time will tell.

Will we know all their secrets or are they caged in the hearts as well?

*similar to an Aga

A Victim No More

Too nice, she won’t mind

She’s always kind

Too laid back

What does she lack?

Manipulated by another

Abused by others

Too afraid to tell those who want to know

Hidden so deep

Too hard to keep

The tears come and the face dries

Nobody knows the pain inside

Kept inside the strong castle walls

What does she do when she falls?

She makes time for others

Listens to their troubles

Then it’s turned and doubled

In on her to spite her love

Nobody believes her when she says what she feels

Don’t be stupid they say

You are wrong they are right

So, she has another sleepless night

All she wants is to love and be loved

The tears flow when she is moved

Pushing out from the heart and caught

With no forethought

Tossed away like discarded paper

No use for the wrapper

Put the lid on it don’t let anybody see

The pain and love that is a divorcee

Deep, deep down

Unplumbed depths under the sea or space

A mind full of grace

Grinding out the race

Finding a way through the story

That she wrote before she was born

Making the mistakes, choosing free will

Living her life in a wonderland full of illusions

Trying to stop the agony, the pain, the hunger

Knowing she’s not getting any younger

Emerging through a rebirth of love

The second chance coming from above

She grabs it with both hands

And feels like she’s playing in a band

Joy and laughter, contentment and bliss

All sealed with her loving husband’s kiss.

She is a bird flying free

Landing on branches of every tree

No longer caged, restricted or barred

Her life is her own to share

With compassion and care

Kindness and respect, love and hope

Living a colourful life in a kaleidoscope

Of joy and release

Finding peace

No longer in a cage

It took her an age

Now she is free as a bird

Her voice is heard

Far and wide

Her tears have dried

Her heart is full


Word count: 929

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

WEP 28 DAYS - CHANGES



Here is my entry for WEP February 2019 challenge

28 DAYS

CHANGES
The couple sat in the lounge by the fireplace
Surrounded by wood panelling and heartache
Two souls not talking, no conversation
With each other for a long duration

The spell was broken as she turned her head
At the sound of the birds fighting over the bread
Burnt toast crumbs scattered over the lawn
Hetty broke the silence and said, look at those birds, Sean

The warmer weather is coming, there’ll be worms galore
Waiting for the hard-baked soil to warm up some more
Her husband tore his gaze away from the window
Looked at his wife’s face, her wrinkled brow

His gaze took in the years of love and happiness
Joy and comfort and of course some sadness.
They didn’t have long left in this place
Their home for many years, their base

For many long years their memories encased
In the fabric of the walls, cement, bricks and mortar
The fights of their two children, a son and a daughter

They’d turned the page of the calendar
Although the numbers were a blur
February had finally come
It was time to leave their home

The tears welled up in her eyes
Pupils dilated with her fears
A journey in to the unknown
A different part of town

New people to meet and greet
Independence slowly abating
The loss of dignity
Superseded by security
So said their family

With love in their hearts
They helped them depart
Their lovely home and abode
As the minutes sped and time slowed

Their lives past before their eyes
They gathered their supplies
Speeding up and slowing down
With a laugh or a frown
They were ready to say goodbye



Hetty marked off the last day of February on the calendar.  Twenty-eight days they had lived here now.  When would it feel like home?  Probably never she thought.  Her home was gone.  A lively, young and vibrant family of four had bought it and would make their own memories there. 


She could hear Sean moving around, he would be out of the bedroom soon, dressed in his shirt and tie, blazer ready over his arm.  Not for him the casual look of today nor her if she was honest.  She styled her hair every day, she wore clean clothes every day, used a pinafore to keep her clothes clean when she cooked.  She wasn't going to be a little old lady with grease spots and old food marks all down her front.

Sean settled himself in the armchair with the newspaper while Hetty scurried round in the kitchen readying the teapot and cups and saucers, checking the biscuit tin was full of Liz’s favourites.

Their granddaughter was a great comfort and support to them.  Always ready to take them to their appointments now they were no longer able to drive.  That was a big blow to their independence.  Hetty sighed deeply, life goes in cycles she thought and this was the start of the last cycle of their life. 

They were safe, secure in the knowledge that they had some independence but with help on hand if it was needed.   What more could she ask for?  Her youth back?  No point in looking back she chided herself, things weren't always rosy back in her younger days, two small children, none of the benefits of central heating.  Life wasn't hard just different from today’s conveniences.  They managed.  In some ways there was less stress, still stress but a different kind of stress.  

So now here they were still in love after 66 years although there were times when they weren't happy with each other – ha!  They worked through their differences and didn’t give up on each other.
Sean stood to open the door and greet Liz.  She was the apple of his eye, his one and only granddaughter, the one most like his beloved Hetty.  The generation gap seemed so small to him today as he saw hope and love and comfort in her eyes.

Settling down to their tea and biscuits Liz announced her good news. 

‘Ben and I are going to be parents which makes you great-grandparents.’  Beaming with delight Liz accepted the hugs and kisses from the two members of the older generation.

Such wonderful news to complete the first 28 days of this new phase of their lives.  Hetty was already planning many knitted outfits for this new life to come, neutral colours to begin with until Liz told them the sex of the baby.  No surprises or guesses what the baby would be for this young couple. 

‘This was the best move we could have made,’ muttered Sean in to Hetty’s grey hair.  She wrapped her arms around his thickening waist.  ‘We’ll make the best of it, you’ll see,’ came her response.

Word count: 796

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

WEP - DEJA VU or VOODOO - OCTOBER 2018



Welcome to #WEPFF - Write...Edit...Publish October Challenge - Deja Vu or Voodoo

Welcome writers! Are you ready for a spooky challenge?



OCTOBER is the month for screams and chills, ghosts and ghoulies, mystery and fear, and this month’s prompt is DÉJÀ VU OR VOODOO!.







Here is my entry –

THE WOODS


The wind blows through the trees as her bare feet graze the cushioned carpet of bluebells, her hair whips around her face, sticking to her lips with their protective covering of lip salve on them.  The breeze lessens slightly as she walks in to the lee of the *copse.  The air hangs and hovers, a feeling of peace envelopes her, stilling her mind, calming her heart.  She becomes one with the earth, grounding herself in to the soil.  The smell of the bark on the trees, the iron musky odour of moist undergrowth assails her nostrils. She breathes even deeper, ingesting the power of the ancient world. 




She touches the gnarled bark of the closest tree with her finger tips, lightly running them over the contours.  She loves the tactile feel of the living plant, her palm caresses the roughness of the wood, sunlight filters through the upper branches and bathes the ground in dappled splashes of yellow.

Her heart starts to beat faster as a battle of men against beasts begins. Spears are flung.  They find their mark grievously wounding a wild animal.  A horde of men dismember the flesh, tasting the warm inner organs, a delicacy, thanking the gods for the bounty they have had the fortune to receive.  The hunters prepare to remove the carcass ready to transport it to their womenfolk.  The meat, once prepared, will feed their tribe for many days.

She places her other hand round the side of the tree, pressing her body against the girth of the tree, too wide in diameter for her fingers to meet.  Through her thin garments she becomes aware of another scene.  This time she witnesses the birth of a young child and her heart is filled with joy and love.  She feels the pride of the father, the love of the mother and the relief from the helpers in the tent.   It is a precious boy, a long awaited male who will take his rightful place, in due course, as the leader of the clan.  A few minutes later the bonny, baby boy emerges through the leather flaps and is held aloft by his father.  The baby opens his eyes as the sunrise peaks over the hilltop.  The encampment let out a great cheer, he is their hope for the future.

She presses her cheek against the bark, it scratches her, marking her skin.  She pulls back, recoiling at the sudden shock of the pain.  Where did the peace go?

Stepping back she looks around her.  There.  Movement at the edge of the wood.  The shrill notes of a mobile phone disturbs the air, discordant, dissonance sounds, a baritone voice answers the insistent instrument.

‘I’ve found her.  Yes, I’ll bring her back to the car, don’t worry, she’ll be fine.’

Michael steps in to the line of her vision, he holds out his hand, encouraging her with a smile to come forward in to his embrace. 

Jane shakes her head.  ‘I’m not ready,’ she whispers, ‘I need more time.’

Michael pulls her gently away from the tree, lifting her up, supporting her as he strokes her arms, strokes her hair. He pushes strands of her hair behind her ears, kisses her forehead.  ‘I’ll stay with you.  You know I love you so much my darling.  I’ll always love you but you know we need to get back.  The doctor is waiting for you.’

Jane nods in acknowledgement.  They think she needs help.  They think she is going mad, maybe she is but she knows what she feels is true.  She does see things.  She does feel things.  Michael thinks all he has to do is to love her more each day and she will get better.

She knows his love will help her to find peace, she knows she will love him until the end of her days.
Another vision fills her mind.  It is too abstract to make any sense of.  She starts to tell Michael she needs to go back to the tree.  His hold is firm on her arm as he leads her to the car park.  He seats her gently and straps her in.   The seat belt is strangling her, she desperately pulls the webbed strap becoming more and more agitated. 

She wants to go back.  She wants to feel calm.  She want to feel peaceful.  She wants to feel love surrounding her.

The doctor greets them both at the entrance to the home.  He welcomes Jane with his kindly demeanour.  He knows how hard this is for her and for Michael.  A nurse settles her in her room as Jane curls in to the foetal position on her bed.  Michael’s tears flow while he watches his wife succumb to the drugs the medical profession deem necessary to bring her back to an ordinary life.


Unknown voices always in my ear
Is that what I hear?
Visions in my head
Is that what I read?

Dreams that disturb my nights
Such ugly sights, such pretty sights
Remembering in the morning
As the fresh day is dawning

Troubles to leave behind
Answers still to find
From the depths of my mind
As yet to be divined.

Searching and seeking my soul
Looking for the loophole
Caught inbetween, stuck in limbo
Is it a friend or foe?

A feeling of peace envelops me
Calmness wraps me warmly
As my angel sits among the flowers
Slowing down each minute of each hour


Will this fog ever lift?
Can I use my gift?
They don’t believe me
They treat me like a baby
They think I behave badly
They can’t let me be

He can’t let me free
He is so loyal and true
He loves me with all his soul
We’ve tried parole
I end up back here
Never to be free
Every year
I still hear
The voices in my head
They invade my sleep
As I weep
Tears of frustration
Unable to take action

*copse – A small group of trees, thicket, grove, wood.



Word count: 991 - NCCO