A look At Life Along The Footpath.

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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 laughing 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.

Life goes on around her as she continued 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. He is 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 neatly folded cotton handkerchief, curled her lip in distaste.  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 her 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.

This is a Flash fiction or short story. It is one that I expanded and worked hard on to post as my first piece of 2020.  In the comments I would be thrilled if you ,  “let me know if you liked it, or let me know what you think happens next”
Happy New Year let’s all  be kinder this year.

Charlie A Poem At Christmas.

“Charlie.”

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 past his throat. His arms needed to be longer, and the leather smelt like 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 fur lined pocket. And 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 his feet.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7WJ-42kvYrWZVJhRWxLVDhxMUVQbjhJOF9obUU2clJxd3Jz/view?usp=drivesdk

I added a sound bite for anyone wanting to hear me read this. “Do you think a child has opinions on subjects such as this?” I would love a comment please 😁

This year my Christmas cards were bought to support Shelter, we sent them only, to close family and even closer friends. But I purchased one item a week and two when I could, th as extras to my weekly shopping all year. I googled a list of what I should get, to be sure I was providing what was most needed. I trawled charity shops for sturdy rucksacks once cleaned I stuffed them tight. A female sack was complete by August and delivered to the drop in center in our charming market town; you would not think there would be a homless problem here. Just before the cold of December a male back pack was ready to give, being near Christmas, I included a card, a tiny bear and a notebook and pen as extras. My gifts make me tear up as I write this, because who is to judge and it was so little for some but would mean everything to them. May this season and coming year bring roofs for the homless.

#writephoto picture prompt.

I wished I hadn’t seen him, I squeezed my eyes and prayed that he would disappear once I unscrewed them.

In the forest, Granddad always carried his loaded gun; broken of course, but … shot ready. “Just cos you a girl don’t mean nowt” he would say. “You needs to know, and to do.” Each time I nodded my head, I secretly begged not to find him. In the clearing he glistened with snow. Head held proud, no hurry to go. He looked back the way he had come. I darted forward; a distraction technique. Without a breath his gnarly hand caught my nose and cheek. A backhander he called it, a gentle reprimand. Grabbing my lobe he dragged me, not releasing for a second until home. My face wet, my heart bled but … my conscience clear. We never spoke of our last hunting trip. We neither repeated or apologised. Our last meeting was on his deathbed, our eyes met one last time. Silently he closed his lashless eyes, and nodded his naked head.

 

 

Press the thanks to join in or read other responses to the #WritePhoto prompt. Thank you Sue

Do comment please.  “Have you had a moment? when you stuck to your guns?

Was He Living A Dream?

Sheets tangled, tightened and stuck to the flesh of his flailing legs. It took, what felt like hours to realise the grating and rasping breath was his. Tom steadied himself and the race of his heart slowed, his eyes screwed and fists clenched as he said out loud “I woke up and realised it had all been a dream.” He voiced that statement, many times over during the coming hour, never making it true … but desperately wanting it to be.

Ping! his eyes opened, he was wired at the squeak a turn of the handle. Once more his chest pumped his legs violently kicked. Why couldn’t he free his legs? A screech of rusted hinge and rubbing wood made him still. Play dead, play dead, he mumbled to himself. Kate’s face pushed the door wider her hands holding a tray, her perfectly straight yellow teeth on show. “You are awake, well that’s good.” She nodded. Kate placed the tray on the dresser after swiping items on top to the floor. Tom watched as her palms pressed into the denim covering her thighs.

“Kate? What … (he stuttered) the Fuck is happening?” Slowly she lifted her eyes, they had held a gaze on the smeared denim encasing her thighs. In Toms mind, a little too long. “Happening? Happening … what, is, happening?” She approached the bed, wide eyed, smiling. Her mouth sour, her clothes grimy. “Tom, Tom, Tom. Think!” He flinched, snatched his head back and gulped at the stagnant air. Not wanting to make things worse he looked back; forced a smile in her direction, and asked. “I am a bit lost in this, my mind is confused. Why are we here?

“You passed out, on my Nan’s bed. She is not best pleased. In fact she was gonna call Gramps, until I arrived.” Think yer sen lucky I was about. Now lay still while I takes a closer look.” Kate tugged the damp sheet, untangled it from his calf’s. A sharp suck of air whistled, Tom lifted his head as his bare belly was exposed. “What a numpty, jeez this is worse than she said.” Tom heaved, the smell of burned flesh and hair filled his nostrils. That was when he caught sight of his abdomen. “N,n,n,n no tell me its not true.” He roared. Gramps bust through the door a face like thunder his fists as big as young Tom’s head. “Shut yer mouth, you good for nothing clown.” He threw Tom’s shoes and jeans st the white faced boy, picked up the empty whisky bottle as if to strike the boy. Kate took her Granddads arm and crooned gently in his ear. “S’okay Gramps, come, I will sort this … go sober Nan up.

Kate gave him a few minutes before going back in the room. Tom trembled, sat on the edge of the bed staring down. She put the tray next to him and began to clean the area and cover it the way Nan had shown her so many times before. “Your’e a fool Tom” she cleared the swabs and put the rest of the dressings back on the tray. Kate turned at the door “you’ll not live that down,” she nodded “there are reasons people retire and reasons you have to be over 18.” Tom clutched his Jeans covering his groin, tears threatened but never fell. Jeers from his pals followed him home. He carries the tattoo to this day, an exquisite snake, rising up to his belly button, fangs on show. Poor demented Josy had long since gone, and Tom … well, he wears her last tat.

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The story above is a writing exercise from the Dream Author Coaching Programme I am taking part in. To use the statement “I woke up and realised it had all been a dream” within the body of a story. Use it in a way that is refreshing, surprising and or interesting, to delight the reader and not disappoint.

Let me know in the comments if I succeeded or not. I am thick skinned be kind but honest.

Our lonely planet Is left with the worlds Lonliest Whale, singing forlornly in the incorrect Hertz

Time never holds its breath When you can’t catch yours.

The sun does not forget to rise,

from behind closed doors.

Strength will appear from nowhere,

It slips beneath a storm filled cloud.

Allowing you to breathe in its beauty,

And hear nature sigh out aloud.

Our world continues turning,

Despite sadness in our eyes.

Or the sound of the earth failing,

The throbbing beat of babies cries.

Our Earth begins to rumble,

Beneath the seafloor.

For the Wildlife, there is no saving,

Sea creatures have long gone,

Except for the cries of number 52

As he sings his lonely song.

When our world is bare and barren,

Can no longer deliver what we need.

Too late they see the destruction,

As floods drown out the last seed.

To hear the facts of no.52 press here Every day I become more fearful for our world if only each of us took it upon ourselves to change one thing … we could prevent my words from coming true. ” What could or do you do to help?” Leave me your thoughts, I love to chat. 😇

THREE CHAIRS AT A TABLE.

 

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Stan, my friend with the sad eyes and scarred hands walked in the park. His daughter beside him. She twirled around holding out her tiny arm which hooked her wicker basket. She danced until the flowers inside bobbed. If I had been closer I know I would have heard her giggle, seen her cheeks flush and eyes shine. I watched them from my window. He put out a protective arm to slow her while he mouthed words that I was never to hear. My fingers stroked the pretty net curtains as I watched the scene below; they flapped softly in the breeze as if to wave hello.

In preparation, I set the table with my most attractive linen smoothed the fabric with my hands and placed the crockery precisely. I stacked nibbles, dainty cakes and treats in the centre on a three-tiered stand. I remember being pleased with the appearance of my peony-filled jug.

Going back to the window I noticed the traffic, it was particularly heavy as it buzzed to and fro beneath me. I glanced in the direction of the park in time to see them. Dad stretching his torso as he stood up, he ran his ragged fingers through his hair, tugged at his tie and put a hand towards the child. Still swinging the basket she held on to his fingers and craned her neck; high enough to catch his eye. He stooped to speak, she nodded and though I couldn’t quite see … I am certain she smiled. Together hand in hand they walked towards the gate; it was a touching scene; one I won’t forget.

I recall a smile played about my lips and a delicate fluttering sat in my stomach as I made the last-minute checks. I placed a beaker of milk and two china cups and saucers on the table. The kitchen like the rest of my second-floor apartment; was neat and pretty. Since a child, I have favoured keeping everything … spick and span.

The breakfast table that I’d dressed in a gingham cloth, now had three chairs tucked tidily underneath. The staging gave the room a welcoming feel as if it had always had room for two more. I gave the room an involuntary nod of approval.

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It was then, as I was satisfied that my best was done. Right at that moment, I remember hearing a dull thud from outside. I had a hesitant thought making me stop for a second, but I rushed on to the bathroom to re-apply my lipstick. I turned my hand, glanced at my watch and thought … they should be here by now.

Agitated by both the tardiness of my visitors and the noise from the road I returned to the living room. My hand reached out and stroked the baby doll with trembling fingers. I was pleased with my choice; such a perfect gift. Looking down on confusion below … through the freshly cleaned glass. There were people and vehicles everywhere, shouting and crying. The squeal of a siren, a distant whining of an ambulance assaulted my ears. I backed away slowly dropping the doll to the floor, then turned to look at the table. A jagged sound was coming from my windpipe. I flinched as it startled me. The sound made my heart race and my stomach clench. Through lashes clouded with unshed tears, I thought … how nice three chairs at a table can look.

 

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This should be a link to me reading it … fingers crossed that it works.

P.S. the written word is a revisited story, one which has been tweaked, so it slightly differs from the audio.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7WJ-42kvYrWQ2RzRHgxUVFnRjNoOUlCNEE0TUlBTUZyWUVn/view?usp=drivesdk

If you are reading it or listening; I am very interested in your views. Which version did you prefer? leave me a comment as I simply love to talk, and will answer quick smart.

Acknowledgements:

peony photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash,

window Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash Roses photos by ORNELLA BINNI on Unsplash