A look At Life Along The Footpath.

On the day in question, she took the black tarmac path that snakes behind the row of terraced houses. Houses with their postage stamp gardens that are secreted away behind red brick walls. They sit prettily on the edge of the small English market town. Across the width of the path are the allotments. Every forty or so feet of its length are gates, if you stand still enough, you can sometimes hear the squeak and crunch, as rust drags itself across the warped hinges. The home owners can slip out of the doors of their walled gardens, and walk to their patch. Sectioned plots of land just big enough for fruit, vegetables and herbs to grow. Each one has a wooden shed, some are used for hiding Dads from noisy homes, while others are potting and tool sheds. Some, are the holders of secrets, places where illicit pairings take place.

Old Jack, wanders the allotment with a paint kettle, and a blackened gnarled brush. “A ten pound note will get your shed protected” he calls waving the brush. Jack sleeps wrapped in bubble wrap and cardboard; close to the Brazier. Often he rests inside unkempt sheds that he tidys in return. He blows and snorts as he splashes his face at the ice cold pump. You can see where his stained hands are dried on the threadbare seat of brown corduroy trousers. The scent of Creosote wafts around him like midges beside a Scottish loch. Often people smell Jack long before they see him. A harmles but important character of the allotment.

As she walked, she looked at the bustle going on both in and around the allotments. Old men nod in acknowledgement to each other; men with no need to waste words on pleasantries. Years of shared knowledge and friendship, camaraderie and memories have passed between them. Women with their hair covered, and gloves protecting their hands, lean on wheelbarrows and forks. Girls laugh at secret stories. A young woman colours as she looks about; checking she wasn’t overheard. An elderly couple stop what they are doing to smile at each other, and touch fingertips … A shared silent moment. Father’s dig and tend the early veg. Cutting curly spring cabbage for dinner, digging in Manure, sold to them all by old Jack. She scans the scene spotting a damp steamy pile at each shed as she passes, pressing a fine linen handkerchief to her nose.

Life goes on around her as she continues on the path. The sun shone on the crisp morning, birds sang and dogs wagged their tails. A boy on a micro scooter passed her; head down, furiously concentrating on the pounding of his white trainer against the path. A cough pushed spit from his mouth as he passed her. It slapped against her stockinged leg making her gasp. The woman wiped it with her handkerchief, curled her lip in distaste as she lifted her head and screwed her eyes.  He poked up a middle finger and snarled back. A moment or two  passed before she straightened her collar and went on her way.

The path comes to a halt. Cobbles trail a curve around the periphery of the luscious green patch of neatly manicured lawn. Several keep off the grass signs are the only things to mar its perfection. A dozen impressive buildings stand around the edge like sentinels. Her eyes scan the area and her brisk steps echoed as she looked for the large black door of number 5; the doctor’s surgery.

Old Jack squinted, and blinked. His green eyes followed the woman. Drawn to her composure, he followed at a distance along the track. Something bothered him, like an over-wound clockwork mouse with no control of her speed. He watched until she pushed on the heavy black door.

Inside they were very efficient. Fifteen minutes later it was over, Her chewed raw fingers struggled to push the three oversized buttons through the fastening’s of her best coat. Fingertips twitched, she pressed her palms into the worsted fabric to still them. Silently she tugged on the cuffs of her pristine leather gloves. A sound, a crisp snap made her flinch as the door closed behind her. Standing for a moment, she took a shuddering intake of breath, placed her smart shoes one in front of the other. She walked the cobbles in the same manner she came. Controlled, back along the tarmac path. But old Jack saw the difference, he saw her legs tremble, the tightening of her lips. Oblivious, she concentrated on the rapping sound her shoes made against the tarmac surface … Click-clack, click-clack. Holding her head high she blinked furiously a fixed determined expression on her face gave nothing away to the onlooker; the passer-by. So she thought.
All was changed for her. Her world had tilted in a sentence. But life on and around the path continued. Birds sang the sun began to shine as the wind dried her lashes. He watched, until she closed the gate that shut herself behind those red brick walls. He listened for the clink of keys opening her door. His view obstructed not by the walls or the door its self … but the clouds in his eyes. Jack shakes his head slowly as he logs another look at life along the footpath.

What do you think happened? Leave me a comment I answer quick smart.

33 thoughts on “A look At Life Along The Footpath.

  1. Well now I feel awful for assuming she chose to free herself from an unwanted burden, so to speak…

    I love your writing. It’s light, British, descriptive, alluring in mystery. I get a bit lost at the perspective dipping hither and yon, but perhaps I’m unaccustomed to your style. 🙂 I don’t read as oft as I ought these days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for trying it out, if my style was fitting to everyone’s taste I would be a top novelist by now, in stead of having been published only a handful of times. But writing is who I am, so I continue on my own path for now. I am pleased you took the time. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is an amazingly descriptive and exciting story, I loved reading it and I really wish I could work out what happens next. Some of the comments pose some very interesting ideas! To me it feels as though she went into an appointment for an operation – for some reason to me it feels like breast cancer and she’s just had a mastectomy. That’s just where my mind went.

    Looking forward to any next parts! Although I will say it also does well on its own leaving the reader to come up with their own explanations!

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good scene setting Ellen.
    I see it that she is a serving girl in one of the houses and that Jack is her father but she doesn’t know. Having been taken advantage of by master of the House (or the son of) she has had a termination.
    Interesting about the guy on the scooter though. Maybe that will have an outcome or perhaps he is the one who took advantage of her.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your writing is so wonderfully descriptive – can’t wait to hear what happens next…is she sick….or pregnant…??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really, has a nit slipped passed my editing eye? I shal look at the offending fourth iminently. I hope you check that It is captured and corrected … I am pleased to have been pointed in its direction.


  5. I liked the vivid imagery that teleported me into the scene. It was as though I was walking next to her. But Old Jack… I wondered about his story. What was he thinking, feeling… remembering… There was just something about Jack that touched my heart. Perhaps because we seem to be peers in our generations. I enjoyed the story a lot. Please excuse this American’s poor command of the English language… But, nonetheless, accept my humble gratitude for your sharing of your creative gift. Thank you. Have a great day. ~ John F.


    1. Oh John, ot is seven am in ole blighty and what a lovely comment to greet this wild wet wind driven day. Please, you can brighten my day anytime. I may have a stab at John’s story, for a flash fiction competition I am toying with so you may get a peek once the competition is done. Thank you again.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ellen, I love a good, taut short story. From the very first paragraph you’ve painted a scene I can easily picture myself in. And I want the story to continue. I want to know the woman’s name, and I’m wondering if she’s had a biopsy or blood test and is now grimly waiting for what she expects to be bad news.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The imagery you have created here is really breathtaking and in such sharp contrast to what is going on for this girl in the story who I feel the world probably stopped awhile for , great writing, so captivating , thank you. Kathy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This descriptive way of writing has been poking me in the ribs for a while, it just moves well and feels comfortable to me. How well it would work in a longer piece, remains to be seen. Thank you and I am so pleased to receive your review.

      Liked by 1 person

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