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.
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.
Our other Angel is Lilly, Pictured below. We were lucky to have got her on 2nd January 2018. Our beautiful pup rescued from Romania has become our angel. A year on and our lives, as well as hers have total changed. She is the reason to wake early, the reason to walk daily, and she brings us new and exciting adventures, including some we would have rather not had (a live mouse). Sometimes I wonder who rescued whom. We will celebrate her gotcha day, and she may get a little treat or two this January 2nd. Ten minutes after this photo carnage had taken place …. poor Christmas lady bug did not stand a chance. *gulp*
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.
As I captured this mornings buds on the bush by the door. I was reminded of this writing from last year. After a tweak or two I repost it. A throwback Thursday; as relevant as it was back then. The last of my roses, still beautiful to me … even as they fade. Like the Ebb of Summer.
I shiver, pull my wrap tight about my shoulders. Evenings have drawn in; become sharper. Dew-laden mornings make my toes curl and the chill pinch my nose. Only two weeks ago we sat in the garden … way past ten. We sipped wine and listened to the night. We had no inclination to close the bi-fold doors, or to shut out the last of the warmth. Instead we jabbered about everything and nothing, until the light crept below the moon and purpled the sky.
As I flinch from the chill I know, my pyjama clad gardening this year has passed. Nor will we eat breakfast outside amongst the birdsong. I already miss him … reading aloud from the papers; while crunching toast. Tomorrow I will put flip-flops, sleeveless tops, shorts and sunscreens away. But today I will savour the last rays that warm my bones. The last of the peach Roses next to the door.
As the sun sits low in the morning sky; I see the Autumnal work to be done. The dust motes that dance in its lowered beam across the table, the streaks on glass that summer hadn’t seen. The Rhubarb’s last crumble waiting to be cooked. I see the rake that needs an oil before leaves hit its Tyne’s. There are beds to be made warmer. A sigh leaves my lips as I turn to go in. A season departs as I rouse another in its wake.
Thoughts of frosty mornings, warming soups, logs crackle and muddy boots. Rosy faces, knitted hats, harvest suppers, coconut mats. Shepherds pie served with peas. Suppers by the fire on cushioned knees.
Cuddles on the sofa under fluffy throws. Hear the crackle of a fire, taste hot chocolate laced with Brandy while warming our toes. Heathers pop their heads up to view Autumn’s arrival. Hedgehogs scurry past along the fence-line; like dryer balls, they roll up when the Cat flicks its tail. A memory beckons and Autumn has taken the Ebb of Summer away.
Could you taste the Autumn? Leave me a comment or two … just to please me.
What I took back from From the Primadonna Festival other than a plastic beaker, a wristband, piles of contacts and a head full of hope.
By Ellen Best.
Changes are afoot in the world of books. Changes especially with writing from the margins.This was an amazing revelation for me. Hearing that there is now some recognition. That the voices that go unheard, not because they are not good enough; because of closed doors, or doors that they do not have a key too now have a chance. Kit De Wall, inspires, and shows us, the ordinary people, that no matter the background … you can be the best. The festival encouraged and gave us onlookers access to people in the industry, that we otherwise we would never have reached. This story, of an Authors selfless act that touched many of us festival goers and particularly me as novice writer, is the one that I will remember.
Kit DE Wall, set up a competition for working class writers, those without the background that afforded degrees or privilege. Out of that opportunity thirty three such burgeoning writers had the privilege of being published in an anthology called ‘Common People.’ Stories and memoirs from the hearts and mouths of the working class. Available in all good leading bookshops.
Only the foresight of Kit, bought about the hundreds of submissions for a place in the book. Would be writers given a chance, given a voice. Many writers inside the ‘Common People’ have been driven forward, careers launched that for years went unheard. The voices of the working class need the same opportunities as those that have access and ability at their fingertips. Working class writers, after all have an authenticity that needs to be documented. She/ kit, in the future hopes to work on a simular idea to encourage rural writers. She hopes to open doors that they often find closed to them. We watch that space with interest and hope she succeeds in the near future.
It was the most sophisticated tenty festival I have been to.
Glorious weather, posh nosh, loos, lots of talks and interactive exercises. Cake, music, craft and comedy, writing and performing. Massages in the woodland, yoga at sunrise, dancing until dark to name but a few of the activities. Oh, in case I forgot to say … there was cake! As they said on the bumpf “the world as it should be for one weekend” Roll on next year I say, it earned a place in my diary.
The books purchased at the festival, the ones I queued to have signed; had accumulated in an environmentally friendly cloth bag in my boot. I took four in at first and placed them gently on the kitchen table. A few minutes later I added another three. That was when I decided that just maybe the rest could wait until I found space in the burgeoning bookcases. It was coincidental that it coincided with a weird look on the husband’s face.
“Are we having a book sale? some sort of fund raiser?” I saw him force his eyebrows together as he opened a few pages. ” Well you can’t sell these, someone has written in them. Not worth a light now.”
*sigh* I left the rest where they were along with the Picasso esque yoga top, beautifully designed, printed on environmentally sourced cotton and sold to me by a wonderful artist who I know will go far. https://www.instagram.com/Amyislesfreeman/
“Have you had as much fun at a festival this summer? I would love to know. answer in the comments I simply love to chat.”