Inside a tiny house, nestled in the suburbs of London. Emma looked up at her Mum. “Mummy the sunshine in my picture,” she said pointing to the drawing on the fridge door. “It is sunshine colour, isn’t it? The grass, with Daddy and Mummy, it is grass colour… isn’t it?” A frown shaped her face as she waited for an answer.”That Orange” Emma poked the pencil into the paper, “It Is an orange Orange isn’t it.” Emma’s neck was stretched to its full length, her lips pursed and a chubby hand holding a colouring pencil was pointed at her drawing. Mary dropped to her knees beside her daughter. Intently, she looked into her eyes and explained about colour and how a few had the same name as the things she drew; like Orange and lemon. Emma and her Mother drew and labelled a colour chart, while her little brother straddled Mary’s hip. They learned the colours of the clothes in the laundry bag and the cushions on the sofa; though Emma’s wings threw in some confusion. During the day they sang songs and told stories, together glued tissue paper rainbows to add to the already crowded fridge door. Mary and Joe Carpenter, went to bed that night almost as tired as the children. They were both happy, knowing that tomorrow would be Christmas. The anticipation of the excitement on their children’s faces, the reactions to the parcels beneath the tree. Though not many, each one had been chosen with love, and need in mind.
On Christmas morning Emma skipped into the Kitchen. “What colour is today mummy?” Mary lifted her head, wearing a huge smile. Her eyes crinkled as they met that face. Her five-year-old was clutching pencils and pursing her lips. Her hair knotted from sleep; her giraffe under her arm. Mary’s pride shone from her face, as she wiped her forehead with the back of her flour encrusted hand and bent to her daughter’s height. “What colour do you think it is?” Emma screwed her brow and as if contemplating the world and left the room.
Within the hour Mary had worked her magic, children clean, fed and playing nicely. Food cooking nicely and preparation almost complete. Mary wriggled and hummed to the music on the radio as she cut the last sausage roll. She wiped her hands on the tea towel stuck in her waistband. Throughout the house, the air was thick with the scent of pastry and cinnamon and the sounds of happiness. The little girl’s question forgot; in the excitement of the day.
Tom crawled up the hall chasing his new train blowing spit bubbles; giggling as he went. Dad burst through the front door stamped his feet and brushed a light dusting of snow from his hair. Joe’s nose was red and he rubbed his hands briskly to warm them.”Kisses” he called as he smacked his lips and waved mistletoe above his head.”Kisses I want kisses” he roared. Emma and Tom rushed to be lifted in a sloppy lip smacking embrace. There were lanterns, twinkling lights and paper decorations dangling from every space in the little house. Carols rang out from the kitchen radio and sparks snapped against the guard on their open fire. It looked a perfect Christmas to him. Dropping everything Mary ran to join Joe for a kiss; Singing as she went. Flour covered kisses ended in chuckling and tickles. With all four sat breathlessly on the floor. Emma looked up into her Mother’s eyes and quietly said ” I think the colour is Christmas mummy.”
During the weirdness of 2020 when the world went a little bit mad, and I admit during the lockdowns I did too, and needed a way to refocus like many did, I took to Zoom.
I joined the Theatre for my first ever virtual workshop. With guidance of our creative director, actor and teacher Lynn Whitehead We wrote scripts and radio plays.
Some of us narrated, some were characters and others of us wrote. All of us worked as a team. We made soundbooths under duvets, in wardrobes, or padded dens. Tim our ( on loan) sound magician, stitched and spliced the recorded voices, added the backing tracks and effects. He worked on it for days to transform our groups efforts into a complete piece.
The writing, producing, directing etc, all happened in different places. Not once did we leave our homes or meet in person. ( To be rectified at a later date)
We fulfilled the remit set to deliver a 45 min recording for people to listen to over the Christmas period,( possibly, huddled around a snapping fire). We planned to finish with a collection, something for everyone, and let people see the Theatre still came alive, despite 2020s pandemic.
A group of tales linked in a framework that visitors to the Theatre website, and the local radio could log on and listen to. This story became one of the tales we turned into a dramatized piece.
Below is the finished article I hope you take the time to enjoy it. Tap the next three words to listen.
The twelve things of this years Christmas are in picture form above.
My favourite ornament, it has not changed I just stupidly adore my thoroughly modern Angel. An angel in a red coat with a swanky bag. She watches down from above my books, keeps an eye on me. When Christmas is about Angel takes up a different spot. Overlooking the whole affair, smart with tidy dark brown hair. Her coat a ruby shade of red, like santa’s, it has been said her wings and heart shaped bag glisten in the Christmas lights. She is my favorite ornament by far. If Christmas was still to be Christmas she simply must be there.
Charlie. Is a poem I wrote and love it so much.It encapsulates the spirit of kindness of which this weird year I have seen quite a lot. So for your delectation, get the tissues and be prepared to weep.
Charlie wasn’t keen on Christmas, because of the paper, the lights and all the waste, He didn’t think it good to eat so much, when others went hungry, It soured the taste.
Charlie loved wearing Granddad’s flight jacket, the best ever Christmas gift, Grandma said he wore it each day, walking back from his overnight shift.
The coat was cumbersome and heavy, if zipped it came way past his throat. His arms needed to be longer, the leather smelt of tobacco, the wool a dirty old Goat.
But, Charlie could fit mucky Ethel, underneath it when the rain soaked all her card. Or the snow made her fingers go blue … as she sat in that old butchers yard.
He could fit a curled up ham sandwich and an apple from Grandma’s dish, Deep inside the wool lined pocket. So Charlie, he made a new Christmas wish.
He wished that all people had bedrooms, a place to rest their head. That mucky Ethel could have a bath and a coat to hold over her own head.
But Santa, he did not come calling, to the people who lived on the street. Instead he hoped they would have their own Charlie, who would give the shoes from their feet.
My favourite Christmas coat, I feel like Christmas is here when I wear it. I secretly long to be the Angel in number 1.
Christmas Horror stories, These Books, ‘Horror Anthologies’ are the perfect introduction to short snappy stories to be told around the fire. The fact that they each carry one of my own tales inside, makes them even more special. I hope to scare family over zoom this year, but of course, you could buy them as gifts if you wish. A new book is on pre order coming soon Wings and Fire.
Snow! Writing Merry Christmas in snow, building a snow man and sharing it even if it is only on Zoom; would be magical. It will be in the lap of Mother nature but I have asked Santa and I have been good.
CRACKERS! Yes I know but I do not mean me, or the ones with Cheese. I mean who could have a Christmas weird or not without a cracker to pull, a joke to read and a tacky prize. No they are in my Christmas 2020 regardless of weird.
A TREE. no matter how big how bright or how simple, a decorated tree is simply a must. As is a glass of cream brandy liqueur, Michael Bubl’e on the speakers and plenty of giggles. It is just what I want to do and so should you.
The grandchildren, We can not have them all so we will have none. But Christmas without there faces would be the unhappiest place for me. The one above is Ivy. we have two expected in spring and the chronological list is this.
Merlot 15, Flynn 14, Ivy 5, Mabel 4, Matilda 4. Penelope 3, George 18months. How could we have Christmas without all of these. So we will eat breakfast together and I will tell stories and jokes and we will do this while they open our gifts under their own trees.
Santa and this one is special, another will never do. Santa has stuck by me and taken me through the bad times and delivered the goods. He will be with me at Covid-19s Christmas. We on a normal year have a tradition. We find a day where we can get as many family together and have our ‘Best’ Christmas celebration, 2018 we managed 19 guests. We have, food and drink, crackers and silly hats, music and laughter. Our tradition of the table game, secret santa. Each household brings, a male gift and a female gift, two children friendly ones each for under £7 each. each plainly wrapped with M,F,C on the package. After dinner the pile (to which I have added extras), is put in the middle; with my santa for luck (santa guides the dice). The die is rubbed and kissed the air thick with anticipation. Each of us take turns to throw, you need a double 6 to collect a gift. This continues until the pile has gone. At this point you can donate, or stick. Players usually donate (if a child has not won a parcel) then we begin again. This time, any double thrown, of any number can now steal. The packages have treats, silly things, and booby prizes inside. We laugh until we all have wet faces and gasp for breath. Not covid appropriate, or safe for 2020, so this year it will be sorely missed.
A phone, TO call up Mother, and people who do not have mobiles or wifi. yes they exist and I will not leave them out.
My bird feeding regime begins in earnest usually with a poem about feeding the birds, With no children to share in the feeding this year I will video myself singing Mary Poppins famous song (I can not sing) Feed the birds and send one to each family household so they can see the birds get fed and Grandma Duck is still bonkers enough said.
My rock/pebble painting, represents a song and the year where saying I love you has been there to replace hugs and kisses that we all are still missing.
Which is your favourite of my #12Christmas2020Things did you like best and what will your celebration miss. answers in the comments, I am dying to know.
I dropped, into the soft velvet sofa, pulled the leg rest over, and scrolled through until I found the film we chose. Well, we had a thumb war, and I won, as I would. I chose the Prodigy, lets see how my little brother and his nerdy pal enjoy a real horror.
Tom, sat next to me, pushed his glasses up his nose and gave a squeaky laugh. I muttered ,”Freak.” And paused the credits until Jack arrived. A few minutes later I said, “We will watch the trailer until dweeb features gets here.” I press play, stomp to the door and shout. “Gamer boy, hey, we are starting without you.” Then cozied back into my corner. I stretched the gum with my tongue and slid my eyes sideways without moving my head to see if Tom was scared yet. A screech made him jump and he grabbed my hand. I sat stock still. I could feel wind get in my eyeballs because they were stretched in shock. I didn’t blink or move, then a blob of saliva emerged from behind my teeth, and hovered slowly, it spilt over. I tried in desperation to suck it back; too late, it splashes. A wet patch began to spread at the end of my right breast. Unfortunately, I am bra-less, and my nipple twitched at the change in temperature. This is awkward.
Watch a movie with your brothers nerdy mate, he gets scared, grabs my hand, I dribble. He now thinks I fancy him … my nipples harden which he thinks is my reaction to him holding my hand.
“Tom! sicko, let go!” He snatched his hand away, dropped it into his lap with a funny choking noise. That was when I knew. “Oh God” that was when I knew. He couldn’t take his eyes off my boobs, and his hand wasn’t big enough to cover the reason for the fear on his face. I grab the remote as I stand, and the screen goes black. No more movie, or comfy sofa, just painful silence. The sort you feel crawling up your neck, under your skin.
My slippers slapped hard against the oak floor as I ran to escape. “Shit,” I swear, as I click the door closed. I lean my forehead against it, still holding the knob. My breath slowed, my face cooled and my leg twitched.
Just then, Jack leaps the last two stairs. He went to push by me.”What’s up sis, too scary for ya, such a loser, wimp.” On my bed, in a bra and clean sweater, I have space to think. Movies will never be quite the same.
My first try at a YA piece, did it work? Practicing different styles, for a different audience is tricky.
This was a rag tag prompt press Here to join in or read.
Feed back is what I need. Question, “did it read as if an adult (ole fossil) wrote it, be honest, with your comment. Please?”
Having a chin wag means to chat, talk or gossip. I try to paint a picture of an area of an industrial town in Northern England in the 1950s. I am using a smattering of dialect to paint a picture.
My question is was it enough? Would it be better without? Looking forward to your answers in the comments. “As I am known to enjoy a bit of a *chin-wag* with you.”
There they were the two of em, hanging over the garden fence; arms folded. Florrie’s were under her tiny breasts; maybe to push them up; pretend like, making out she had more. She was long, stringy almost, she wore a pinny and a cotton square covered her hair. Mum, thoughshe was no better than she should be … flaunting her coral lip stain and seamed stockings. What I could see of it her hair was yellow, oh and them teeth … they jiggled about as she spoke; *me mam* said it made her retch. Then Mum would.
Mavis well she was different, Gramps would say “like chalk and cheese those two” I love Granddad, Me Pops as I call him, he had lots of funny sayings. If he liked something he would slap his knees double-handed and call out “That’s champion *lass*, rite *champion*.”
‘Anyhow, back on track, where were I, Oh yes, Mavis. Short n’ stocky with fat knees. You’d see them knees, when she cleaned the windows, dimpled like dumplings. The lads down the Ginel said they looked through letterbox last Summer, seen her naked thighs as she washed by the kitchen sink. “Like *gert* big hands of ham they were” laughed Smithy. My Mum says it isn’t often you’d see them knees … because she’s not too particular about the housework. Then Mum would, she has a sharp tongue, my Mum. Mavis has pin curls peeking from under her scarf. Tinged, more of a dirty grey colour, from the coal fire I expect. That lass is as short as she is wide, wears a fancy wrap around pinny; not many had one of them. I can’t help me sen, so I snigger at her wrinkled stockings and get a clip round the *earlug*; a backhander for doing so. Her roundness comes from having ten kids. Six were lads, all gone and grown now. We live in back to back houses, terraces with Ginels behind. On Monday Morning if School was out, I’d sit astride the sill with a book; the sun warms my skin right through the glass. Mum told us when we were kids “It’s God kissing you.” I am not so sure about that.
They, Florrie and Mavis, think I’m reading. Really I am watching, and listening, you’d be surprised what I hear; looking down at the backs. Those two, over the fence putting the world to rites … having a good old chin-wag. Got to go now, Mam’s got my Pop’s snapping ready, I’ll take it up the allotment to him, he is busy after all; digging us tea. I better have my wits about me in the Ginnel, that Smithy boy, he’d likely have his hand in my liberty-bodice if I loitered. Catch you another time tatty bye.
This post was very different first time around. Reworked, new dialogue and a new character in Old Jack. I hope you enjoy the changes as much as I. “comment please it is fun to talk.”
*earlug* = ear, *Gert* = big, *Champion* = magnificent, *Tatty bye* = farewell, for now, *Ginel* = secreted alley, *lass*= young girl, Having a *chin-wag* = a gossip or a chat.
The last Sunday before Christmas and as you can see the word is Guidance. Actually, this is my first foray in to the daily prompt site. Any of you readers, story tellers or bloggers can join in … by pressing ➡ Here! ⬅.
This year, the spirit of Christmas has been aloof. On Friday, yes 22nd December. I finally made an attempt to decorate for the festivities. Random visitors, maybe popping over to see us during the time between 22nd and 2nd of January we need to be welcoming, and have made the effort.
This year, there is no formal gathering of the clans. No, ‘Our Christmas.’ No magnificent meal for 21, including seven Grand children aged between nine months and fourteen years and two dogs. No wild inappropriate jokes to laugh at, and no story telling or present gifting to the Grandchildren under our roof … next to our tree. All of which we love doing and having; as we did last year. But this year, we are at the youngest daughters for Christmas lunch, at the eldest daughters for New years eve. All gifting will happen on doorsteps Christmas eve, but we won’t get to see the opening, the bright eyes, the ohhhs and ahhs of excitement only found at the point of the opening. Unfortunately, we only fit that amount of excitement, chairs tables and laughterand food , in our house … on a seperate day, ‘Our Christmas.’
Families, often have absent Mothers or Fathers, in-laws, step sisters and brothers. Extra Grandparents, uncles, Aunts and pets. They all are missed by someone … if away from home. It is just the way life is. To accommodate all, under one roof at the same time is nigh on impossible. Though we try, we invairiably miss out someone, an ex Husband that you cannot bring yourself to even pretend for a day to want under your roof, or a miserable Aunt, or the nephew that gets raucous after a tott or two … and has been known to moon at the people passing by the window, who unsuspectantly get a shock going home from church. Morbid Malcom, who wishes his time had passed, and voices such, every fiftythree minutes; once fuelled with Sandyman’s Port, or Harveys Bristol Cream..
It would be unkind to want everyone to fit in with us. Not every year. When have what we call ‘our Christmas’ which is at a date somewhere between 25th Dec and 7th January. Depending on when we can get most people to be … at the same place and same time. Most of the food (prepped by me) is cooked by ‘The Husband’ who stubbornly refuses assistance, until clearing up time at least. As you may realise by now, we are missing it, before we would have had it. I wish I had seeked out some guidance before saying “Not this year.” Truth be told we have both had obstacles during the year, and I felt, it would be too much, both for him, and me.
So up went the tree, cards were written, parcels purchased and wrapped, all in four days. I will bake a special cake for the four Grandchildren at our eldest sons house and deliver cake and gifts Tuesday morning. Christmas day’s desert I will bake on Tuesday evening, while ‘The Husband’ delivers gifts to the youngest son’s home and two more Grandchildren. Christmas will be on time, with nobody missed. All will be wonderful, in it’s special Christmas day slot, this time with our youngest Grandson George; seeing his first Christmas day.
Let us hope for a healthy New Year. Maybe, just maybe, I should have listened to my own guidance. Another year we will accept the help of everyone. It would be better than not have one at all. We, after all, can only do it as long as we are still here.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Have a cool yule Solstice, Enjoy your festival of light and Hanukkah. Any other beliefs I have missed out please forgive me, and please, have a peaceful new year.
What do you do for Christmas? Let me know in the comments. 🎄🎅🧚♀️
“How many times must I tell you?” my Mother shouted. “How many times must I tell you, question mark” Is what my young self-heard. Like all good girls, I answered. A question should be answered, or you might be remembered as rude. I twisted my fingers like a church and steeple; stood on tippy toes and wore my most thoughtful look. “Maybe twice Mummy, I might not quite hear you with once … If I was doing something else … like reading.” Shuffling backwards I sucked in my breath. “I might not hear … the first time.” I continued, I was careful with my answer, making sure to not say too many words or smile too much while I spoke. Unbeknown to me, that was not the right answer. I knew this because Mummy’s lip curled and her face twisted, into that not nice face, the one that made my knickers wet, which she liked even less than my answer; Five I was then.
My school uniform was still being worn when Mum came in looking for me; frowning. My buttons all skew-whiff, socks wrinkled into my shoes and my book firmly clasped between ink-stained fingers; behind my back. I stood straight and looked into her eyes while she spoke, knowing I should have changed before finishing that page, then she would not be as cross. Why hadn’t I? Simple, my book called me. I looked down at my shoe while I rubbed it against my calf; blackening my sock. Both hands were behind my back; clasping Black beauty. This left me unprotected, unprotected against falling, losing my balance. But I was not showing my book, not for anything. “How dare you answer me back, you defiant girl” I felt Mummy’s spittle land on my face as she snarled and poked me with her finger. “I was, only trying to answer Mummy” I whispered. “Just you say that once more girl!” That statement was another trap I fell into when I was small. Even though I was being asked to repeat something, I should never, ever do it. If I did, sore legs, no tea and bed would follow. That’s when my books became best friends. Under the blankets with my penlight torch between my teeth; I treasured that torch. I could check for bogeymen or the devil … she said he would get my tongue if I lied, so I had to be vigilant.
I was one of a family of five, at least until my youngest sister came along when I was six. Six years and four months old, that was when she appeared; all soft and smiley, smelling of milk and baby powder. She came with a plethora of things I had never seen before. Mum and Dad must have done a deal on a job lot; my eldest sister said. There came a van with a carry-cot a bath with a stand, a chair that bounced, bags of rompers, dresses, vests and cardigans. There were lidded buckets, nappies, both muslin and towelling. Then there were the toys. My toys, I had outgrown them … so Mummy said. Off they went, with new ones in her box. How she came to be, or how that happened, I am sure my sisters wondered as much as me. But it did, and there she was, making the family of parents with four girls. She was no bother, she would be asleep when we left for school and asleep or about to sleep when we came home; so I only recall her being around at the weekends and holidays. With two older sisters to help, I didn’t get much of a look in; not old enough to be trusted and not experienced at life. My help was to sit next to her chair and read her stories, and of course to call out if there were any smells.
Learning the meaning of things is easier on a page, you can see the question marks and commas. ” When is a question, not to be answered?” By ten years old I knew better, but at five I hadn’t realised. You had to read the face, and interpret the tone that words were delivered in; if you were to understand. At ten, I knew when not to answer … though answering back was still a confusing one. As is, ‘just you come here.’ You do have to go as soon as it is said; not too quick, or too slow. I do not remember being taught to read faces or voices. It was something it seems you just had to know. It felt like I had to … just know, quite a lot Whilst growing up.
By fifteen I had learned to negotiate, compromise and keep my head down and nose clean. I had been working since I was fourteen, after school and at weekends. Sweeping and tea making in the hair salon, fetching coats and always smiling; part of the job. I lived in a lodging house and had an apprenticeship in hair and beauty, and for the most part, I coped nicely. Being fifteen was a time of hard work and independent living. I paid minimal rent; part of which was to cook the odd lunch for the landlady’s Father. Rent was paid for with three jobs. The hairdressers, the night cafe behind the Mace shop, and working every Sunday in a posh coffee shop in a neighbouring town. The reading of expressions came in handy at the salon, especially for nodding and smiling in the right places. Having my hair and nails done at work was a perk of the job and gave me an air of sophistication, or so I thought. Mixing with the elite as well as knowing good manners. I was brought up with, and my compulsion to read anything I could get my hands on made for a well-rounded, smart, nicely spoken, hard-working young woman. During this time my evenings were filled with writing, poetry mostly, all tucked between the pages of my favourite books. There I was secretly hoping Louisa M Alcott would permeate my work; improve it, as if by magic. But, as all fifteen-year-olds were back then, I was very naive.
My top five books were: Alice in Wonderland Black beauty Mary Poppins Little Women. These taught me that words were wonderful … as long as they are kept in order. Books were my friends and writing could catch your fears on paper. Much better than in your chest.
So here we are with the power of five. Five senses, five elements, five digits on hands and feet. Five paragraphs .What more could anyone want?
I am unable to add this to the blog competition that it was written for, as alas, I got carried away. 375 was the count to stay below to qualify. This piece, is three times longer so I place it here to share with those who might enjoy a read. Iwould like to know if you have found it impossible on occasion. To tame a flash fiction to sit between the numbers required. Please comment I love to talk. .. 🎶😲🎵
Today, is due day for my daughters first baby. As a Mother of some grown up children myself; I have done this from a different angle. *eyes water at memories* I know, due days are often not met … like trains, busses and planes; some are on time, others not so much. My daughter has been and is a wonderful Aunt to four nieces under four and two nephews 12 and 13. Her brothers will vouch for the wonder of Aunt Lisa.
So, my nail biting began a few days ago. This is where the true “let them go” has to be as painful as when she moved out to uni.
Empty nesting; though I missed her, was where I got to see if I had successfully raised an independent young woman; one that would thrive in the world. I had and did and patted my back ‘Good job.’ That was between silent moments of abject fear. Wanting to drag her back, hold her tight and wield off any baddy who dared to upset my baby girl, with every minuscule breath I had.
Today is another test. I must wait, stand back, allow my son-in-law to do the things that they both need him to do. As he is great husband and smashing friend to my girl; I trust him implicitly. But, do I want to be there holding her hand? taking her pain away? Laughing, crying with her, when they wrap that darling bundle and put it in her arms. One hundred percent I do.
But I won’t, I will wait until I am invited to see them, until I meet the infant and check out his or her face, count the toes and fingers. I will smell the scent of purity, innocence and grandchild. My place will be to show patience and restraint. But it feels as hard as letting her go the first time. *Blows nose* well hopefully I will do better when the moment actually comes. Emotional mess comes to mind … Now I wasn’t expecting that. *wipes eyes. 😁😂😢 I am letting her go as good Mums do.
I thank Pixabay for the image of toes and ask
“Is this just me having a not so private melt down? Is psychiatry required?” Just shake me in form of a comment … I obviously am in dire need. … Pass the handkerchiefs *sniff sniff*
Welcome to my page! My name is Emily, I'm a Registered Nurse and Holistic Nutrition Student with a passion for the connection between nutrition and health! Check out this page for plant based recipes, nutrition and fitness tips and all things wellness!
Eric Sinclair - optimist, author, Stroke Association volunteer, occasional chorister - all views my own but fully endorsed by the whippet. "Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional"