Her Solitary Hike to Freedom.

My rucksack was packed tight with an arctic sleep-sack strapped on top. At low tide, I could wade out … Two months before, I had loaded the dinghy, stuffed with supplies and a two-way radio. Once there, I scrubbed until the skin on my hands became rough and the sores sticky. I pounded rugs, hung hooks for mugs and on a calendar I put a Red cross to signal the chosen day. Painting the outside left each muscle and tendon aching; at last, it was done.

Today was the day. Surprisingly It was easy to leave, I waited until I heard the rumble, saw the soft yellow glow and smelt the fuel. I could almost taste the freedom. On The table, I placed a sealed buff envelope containing a thin gold band. One single elaborately scribed word graced the front; where the address should be. I tugged hard on the handle. A slow lift of my lips and drop of my shoulders felt good … the door clicked shut. Without looking back, before posting the keys through the door I sighed. That sigh was to carry me to my long-awaited destination.

The huge pack was a weight on my shoulders, but one worth carrying. I stuck to the tree-line along the road; ducking from sight, avoiding towns and villages. I slept in barns and an old rusted lean-too; or under my tarp … laced between branches or rotting fence posts. Foil pouches of tasteless food and energy bars swallowed on the move; gave me strength. A dry heat built up where the nylon straps rubbed, but the blisters couldn’t stop me. I trudged on; never losing hope or sight of the end.

A deep intake of breath filling my lungs excited me. At last, the salty smell of the sea drowned the aches and dulled a migraine.

My head, full of fond times and good memories filled the endless stride of my journey.

Uncle Tom took me to this isolated place as a kid. He named it ‘The Retreat.’ By thirteen I knew exactly how it worked. The tides, the isolation. The best fishing spots, where to put the lobster and crab pots.

A lost teen I was … until Tom took me back to basics. If Mam thought I would fail and run home; she was disappointed. Summer, Winter and warm lilting springs were spent at the retreat. It became the only place I wanted to be. Uncle Tom had posted me the keys and owners log; six months past. In the pack was a note, with one word written in black Italic script ‘Escape.’ A stamp from the nursing home was the only identification. On that day my plans began in earnest.

Glenside nursing home called me, the day he passed; there was only me left to tell. My plans were fluid as if I was being guided, memories of conversations filled my waking; as much as they soothed my sleep.

The old map snagged on the zipper of my rucksack; as I logged another ten miles. The wind whipped and tugged It from me. Cross with myself, I crouched down to stave off the worst. My finger followed an old faint pencil line; the map reading lessons Tom gave me came in handy that day. Back on track, fed and watered I hoisted the kit over my painful shoulders. With teeth clenched, I rubbed a hand across my jaw and pushed my booted feet firmly into the sandy soil. It was two more hours of hiking before I gave in to a rest. Too dark to orientate myself and too tired to try; I kept the pack on my back, slid down a smooth trunk and tugged the tarp over my head and slept.

At dawn, a sea fret soaked the tarp but my face must have beamed. Unable to remember the last time I ached from a smile; It was such a good feeling. Even the searing pain in my body couldn’t wipe off that grin.

At a five-bar gate, my steps slowed, my eyes narrowed as I watched a farmer bringing in his herd. A fleeting nod in my direction and a frown made me wonder if he recognised me. As mad as I was for loitering it was good to know a face from the past. The last mile was tough. A steep scramble down to the pebbled cove.

There on a sandbank, half a mile out I caught sight of her. Resplendent in her best frock. Her Windows seemed to wink a greeting. A sigh left my lips my heartbeat slowed and the scent of the sea filled me. Only the cry of a Gull broke the sound of the wind. Not far now, I said in my head. Exhaustion made the wade out so much harder. Weighed down with water I had to force myself on. My legs shook uncontrollably. It took all my strength to reach the door, turn the key and enter my new home my safe place.

His car slammed to a stop, creasing the garage door and jerking him forward. Pleased he didn’t take the last drink, or he surely would have more than a bruised chest. The alcohol saved him from much of the pain as he staggered to the front door clutching his chest. “The bitch” he mumbled. “She knows to have the garage open,” His anger only grew, as he tried in vain to get his key to work. Furious, he picked up a boulder from the lawn’s edge and hurled it forward. The sound was like a bomb exploding as rock met glass. He looked around and saw the curtain twitch at number 18. He turned to face it and growled like a rabid bear as he shook his fists and screamed abuse. Swinging his arms as he turned was a bad move. His weight toppled him head first through the gaping hole. The last thing he saw was the word ‘Escaped.’

His eyes flickered and his lashes raised. Searing pain shot through him. He blinked rapidly; the tears ran down his cheeks as the room stopped turning. He could make three figures out. Two of which stepped back; as they seen him wake. “What the Fuu” he shut his mouth swiftly. “Where am I? What’s going on?” The doctor leant in with a light, looked in his eyes and the nurse checked the screen beside him. “Do you know your name?” Said the Dr While he scratched with his pen on a chart. “Yes, I am Frank … Trubshaw. ” He spat as he spoke, “What’s going on? What’s wrong with me.” The doc looked over his spectacles raising his eyebrows and nodding his head. “You sustained several injuries including a lacerated torso … glass punctured your lung. You have fractured two vertebrae, have a broken scapula and fractures in both your tibia and fibula.” The rustle as he turned the page was loud to Frank’s ears. “You received, two transfusions and were in a medically induced coma for eight days.” He gave him a moment to let it sink in, then glanced at the clock and nodded. “Frank, can you remember what happened?” Said the voice on the other side of his bed. “Two minutes sergeant no more.” The doc said sternly waving his index finger. Once cautioned the policeman continued. “Can you tell us where your wife is?” He leant in closer Frank was perspiring heavily. “Helen, where is she.” Frank frowned, his eyes bulged, a fierce pain shoot into his skull and his back arched.

On opening his eyes Frank slowly recalled the room. A nurse, Sat in a winged chair beside him; her hands curled in her lap. “Water nurse … Water please.” At the last word she shifted; looked confused, stood up and left. The door had barely closed before A doctor folowed by the nurse burst in. “Water, please, he croaked. His voice wobbled and his mouth dry. She gave him water from a pink sponge on a stick, he sucked greedily and she administered more. Again a light was flickred to and fro, the doctor scratched with his pen; charts were filled in. “Well Frank, gave us all a scare you did. We will clean you up and see where we go from there.” With that, he left the room. She worked silently, methodically trying not to make eye contact. When he needed turning a male nurse assisted but there was no conversation. Hours later, when he was clean and a bit more alert; the doctor returned. “What do you remember Frank?” He peered over his spectacles and squinted. “I was speaking to you” Frank stuttered, ” and a pain in my head …” He began to shake. “Okay, okay, try to stay calm.” When he had got his breath Frank asked; “what the hell happened?” The doc introduced himself as Dr Pearce and told him he had a bleed into his brain. “We have fitted a stent which appears to have done a decent job.” He told him tapping the side of his own head to somehow he thought it would reassure the man. “You must rest and stay calm; the next day or so will be tough, I can’t pretend otherwise. The police need to speak to you,” He held up his palm and nodded. “Not until you are stable … All in due course.”

Oblivious to the media coverage I spent my first three weeks between bed and table; eating enough to soothe me back to bed. My exterior wounds were healing nicely thanks to the abundance of salt water to bathe them and air to dry them. I soaked my feet in water drawn from the deck and warmed above the pot-bellied stove. Welts had scabbed on my shoulders enough to bear the weight of a fleece jacket. Internally I would take a lot longer to sort. It was bright and warm, the sun lured me to sit on the porch … the first day outside since arriving. While hugging a mug of hot chocolate and allowing the sun’s rays to caress my face; I heard my name. My top lip twitched and a sweat formed like pimples above it. Invisible hairs stood to attention; down my arms, back and legs. I ran. Unsure of how much time had past; I remember the door cracking, a shaft of light burning my eyes, big arms trying to pull me from the safety of the closet. My fists hit flesh my teeth sank deep, kicking and bludgeoning with all the strength I could muster. Then nothing.

Two months I have been fighting my demons, first from a hospital bed now from my home; my retreat.

Frank has been charged with abuse, false imprisonment, causing mental and physical harm and multiple counts of assault and rape. I am informed he will be facing trial. Frank has been remanded in custody for the duration of his recovery in a prison hospital wing.

Luckily for me, Ben, the unsuspecting farmer who found me huddled in the closet; had recovered. He has long since forgiven me for his broken nose, bitesto his cheek and bruises. He spends time with me; on my porch, sharing memories. Memories of us as children, fishing with Uncle Tom, being scolded for fooling in the dunes, drinking milk from a bucket on the farm. One day who knows … I may find the courage to invite him inside.

Thanks to Esme Slabs who loaned the photo’s that inspired the idea. If you would like to join her Facebook bloggers promoting group click HERE And let the fun begin.

Thank you Lorna from Gin and lemonade. Home of the prompt, to be posted by Friday 9th November.

the prompt is Home go on press it to join in.Home

I share this at EsmeSalon where we can connect with new bloggers, and share our writing. We get to read and comment on other posts press “Here” to share or have a read.

Another wander down the new genre path for me so my question is did it work, was it believable ? Answer in the comments please I can’t wait to chat 😊

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The Ebb Of Summer.

Lorna’s #Ginsperation is a fresh weekly prompt press HERE NOW to join or read. Have fun I know I will.

I am sharing this with Esme on Esme’s Salon A wonderful sharing platform find the blue frog to share your post    “HERE”  connect and have fun.

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, 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.

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.

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.

I’m Only Human After All

This is a revisited story one that deserves a second glance … or that is what I think. I hope you feel the same. 😇

I called out, but his name lodged below my voice box; like a bubble, it floated until it popped. Slowly I turned back the bed, cotton sheets held at arms length, the smell of stale lovemaking sweat and perfume. Bare feet kissed the wooden floors leaving a mist; an impression of where I walked. Across the room down to the utility with my arms full. Once the wash was loaded, I glanced down, my nose twitched at the stench, my mouth sticky, I dry retched and memories flooded back. I peeled my dishevelled stained nightshirt from my aching self and it joined the sheets. My mind was busy trying not to think as I scrubbed and soothed my flesh, steam covered the pointless tracks on my cheeks as Rag n Bone man’s lyrics pounded over the sound of the shower. ‘I’m only human after all.’ I dropped a pill, swigged stale coffee left on the drainer and sat wrapped up in a towel. The dusk alerted the back of my mind it Snook in to disturb my … nothing, my emptiness.

This was ridiculous I am a grown woman Out loud I said ‘pull yourself together’. For the next week or so I was working on auto, walking to work doing my admin answering when I had no choice, until Friday night. Backpack on ready for home I felt him watching. A damp trickle formed between my breasts as I scanned left to right, I knew he was there somewhere. Head down, my shoes slapped against the damp tarmac, three, four, slap, slap, counting, walking determined not to be startled. ‘Hi toots, I thought it was you, fancy a drink?’ His voice hit my eardrums, but I was ready. I let a smile touch my lips for a second. ‘No thanks, busy busy’ I strode on. He was almost jogging alongside me, breathlessly he stopped me with a ‘Hey hey what’s the hurry, he stooped in front of me. Come on, we can continue where we left off.’ He twisted a strand of hair by my cheek, he bent further to peer into my face. ‘I said, I am busy, now please just’ I snatched my shoulder from his grasp and carried on. I didn’t look back, slow down or think about him, I just allowed my feet to pound the pavement slap, slap, slap. Ashamed that’s what I was, ashamed and regretful and I couldn’t accept what it was I had done.

Weeks had passed since he met me from work but I still felt uneasy, he hadn’t called or text or poked me on Facebook, but still, I was wary. Maybe he didn’t know my name either, I couldn’t remember him using it.

Ange and Jack had been arranged for months, dinner with friends, that would get some normality back. I tousled my hair and dressed casual but nice, I pouted in the mirror checking my lippy, I was the most relaxed I had been for a month or more. After fajitas, we had tequila and chilli chocolate buns with mallow topping; her food amazing as always. Ange and I laughed and reminisced about school, Jack cleared up and Ange and I began to talk freely. ‘What’s doing girly? You have been somewhere else for a while, I thought we trusted each other. I tell you every grizzly detail; like we always have.’ She nudged me, her head shook in disbelief, her eyes clouded over and she bit her lip. Just then Jack called through, he was walking to the pub, leaving us to our stuff, as he called it, while he indulged in a lary game of pool. Ange followed for a kiss. I saw them in the mirror’s reflection. As she grinned and mouthed thanks, she closed the door. ‘Well … I’m listening’. She did that thing, that glaring eye staring, folding arm thing that she does when she’s mad. ‘Nothing to say really, I just, well I was stupid, a slut and I, I’m ashamed. After Todd and I finished I felt lost, God that is so cliché, but I didn’t feel attractive or wanted.’ I dropped my head in my hands, roughly rubbed my cropped hair and grunted. Ange plopped on the edge of the chair with me, rubbed my shoulders as I released a howl so guttural I startled myself. ‘C’mon you’ll feel better, I won’t judge you-you know me better than that’.

I scrubbed my face with my palms and wiped them down my thighs. ‘I went to that club, the one on the corner, the one with the tattooed bouncer, the cute gay guy. I had some Jeager bombs and I began to dance, winding myself round guys legs, rubbing up behind them. They didn’t know me; nor me them.’ I leapt up and paced the floor. ‘It was sort of freedom, a liberating, sexy … I know, a slutty thing to do. The bouncer Jason, pulled some guy off me for stuffing his hand up my skirt. He tried to call a cab but I wasn’t having any of that. In my head, I was showing Todd, even though he wasn’t there, couldn’t see. My heart was racing as I dropped into the seat again. ‘Next thing I knew is I kissed this guy. He mouthed a wafer under my tongue … don’t get me wrong I wanted, I was reckless. I’ve been having flashes come back to me of the stuff we did, the table, the kitchen, outside the front door for god’s sake.’ That’s not all. He met me from work one night, a week or so later, it freaked me out. How could I be so stupid?’ Ange’s eyes grew as she listened with her lips clenched tight. ‘Don’t worry,’ I patted her hand. ‘it was fine, he just wanted more. He hasn’t been back.’ After a minute I looked at her holding her hands. ‘I’ve been petrified Ange, I took him to my home! The things we did.’ I shook my head and looked at Ange’s horrified face. ‘ Don’t say anything, I can’t cope with your disgust too.’ We sat for a while with a box of tissues between us, Ange crying for and with me. Me crying out of self-pity and shame. ‘I went to the clinic on Duke Street and had tests, well you just don’t know, do you. I find out in a fortnight … so far, several are back and I’m clean, just waiting on Hepatitis and HIV. I wouldn’t hold it against you if you never spoke to me again.’

We cleared the dinner debris and emptied the dishwasher, although together, it was completed in silence. We made coffee and Jack came in the front door, pink-cheeked, smiling and relaxed. He looked from one to another, pulled a face, pouted his bottom lip and said ‘I am going up, night then’ and he gently closed the door.

Red-eyed and nervous I said ‘I can not cope without your friendship, please don’t hate me’. I held both her hands and stared into her face. ‘For the last time I will not ever, hate you, but I am hurt, hurt because I was too busy to see the effect Todd’s affair had on you and because you felt you couldn’t come to me. I let you down and you put yourself at risk’. I hugged her hard and stroking her hair said. ‘Sometimes, we do stupid things, sometimes, it is no one’s fault but our own and sometimes we are lucky enough to walk away unscathed. I Jane Masters, head of finance, single thirtysomething female, should have known better! but I won’t get it wrong twice. As the song says … ‘I’m only human after all.’

Flower photo borrowed /thieved temporarily from Geoff LePard I thank you, Geoff. Press here to visit the master🔜 here🔚

A new venture into a different genre yet again inspired by the magnificent Rag n Bone man song I hope you enjoyed both the song and the story I look forward to your comments *waves*.

My First Exquisite Dress.

I love the life of your hat,

I once had a dress like that.
All grace and glamour,
The boy’s would clamour
To glimpse the off shoulder
French fancy.

And me, at sixteen,
I learned how to preen
I perfected a wiggle,
A look over my shoulder,
But under my brows.

The dress held my joi de vivre
My confidence my class.
It was in the lace,
While I hid the blush
Upon my face.

My parisienne dress
wasn’t me.
But in it, I could be,
Entertaining and sweet.
They would fall at my feet,
And I could shoo them away.

Back then, when age was nothing
But a moment in time.
Confidence plucked from air
As the flower in my hair.
It was all so fleeting,
like a clandestine meeting.

The Connection

wall

She sat, on a low wall three bricks high. A wall that once was tall, now a crumbled remnant beside the mainroad. Her socks, wrinkled; one higher than the other. They offered no protection against the easterly wind; that bitter December day. Her ditsy floral skirt flicked against the already chaffed skin leaving pink welts. A grey knitted cardi hung from her shoulders, the sleeves clenched tight in her hands as she waited. Flat barren fields of East Anglia solid from the morning frost were inviting her gaze. That look, made me wince. Her eyes glassy and wide; unblinking, she looked … lost.

I noticed her many times as we flashed by on the way to Norwich. Each time we’d go I would see her, with pain in her shape; a stillness about her. Once we stopped at the village shop, while I waited to be served I asked her story. The postmistress said, ” She’s about forty, a local she is… not been herself since her daughter… Some says she were taken and others say different.” Slowly she shook her head as she stamped my letters. “Only six she was, her girl. Where she sits, it’s where she waited that day and every one since, for the school bus to bring her; she never came.”

On one occasion I stopped, pulled the car into the lay-by. I walked over and took a space on the rough wall alongside her, leaving a gap of two bricks between us. A respectful gap I thought. My eyes gazed across the flat land as hers did. “Hello, are you … Are you okay?” I felt a tug, a connection, fleeting though it was. She sat unmoved, undaunted by my presence. I felt the cold from her, saw the fogged breath, I could taste her sadness. An overwhelming urge to reach her enveloped me. Determinedly I unzipped my parka, putting it beside her I untied my wool scarf and wriggled my fingers free of the gloves. “Please, your skin is blue, take these, they’re for you.” I shouted, as the wind whistled by my ears and bit the end of my nose. The pile almost touched her chest; I began to tremble, a feeling of despair, soaked into me. Her eyes flickered as I put the clothes in her lap. “I don’t need them, can you hear me?” A pat to reinforce the point made her flinch, and with a straight back but without a second glance I returned to the car. She hadn’t moved as we passed her, the bundle propped on her lap, her glassy eyes staring forward. Alone, she sat.

That day, the clouds gathered so swiftly that everyone around the conference table stared at the snow. The CEO said “Due to the change of weather we will take a working lunch. The sooner I get you home the better.” I remember hoping she had put the clothes on. I wondered if anyone could relieve her… because of the weather. I couldn’t get her out my mind, her eyes, the liquid that refused to drop but puddled in her lids as if scared to fall. Her forlorn image haunted me.

On the return journey we stopped next to the wall. I remember the wipers swished, the flakes came hard and fast, but she wasn’t there. Pleased to think her in the warm I began to feel better.

In the spring my job took me once more to Norwich. We stopped at the place, next the road. Amongst the grass which grew in the crumbled brick, wedged between the cracks was bunch of brown withered flowers tied with a bright woollen scarf. The connection had forever made its mark, imprinted forever in my heart.

This was entered into the bloggers bash competition 2017. I am thrilled to say my story was the winner. I was pleased and honoured to have my work chosen. I hope you like my flash fiction as much as the judges did. Since I am reposting this story long after its first airing I thought I would add an update below.

My story touched many; or so it seemed. The tale also effected me, in a way I could not have predicted. I find myself searching for the sad, the homeless, the uncared for. I take time to sit with and make a connection. I have learnt … if we don’t walk by, ashamed, with our eyes dropped. If we look and smile give a drink or shake a hand. That connection gives back humanity. This year, 2018, I have not given presents to adults but used that money to make-up a ruck sack for a homeless person. I have so far not been able to give it out. In the past month of carrying it in the boot of my car, looking for someone in need. I have been unable to choose. How do you, at a drop in centre or a night shelter,or soup kitchen or at the Quaker house … How could I just pick one. How could I say this one is more deserving. My lips tremble and my chest aches as I write this. I have phoned the Salvation army to see if they will give it for me; my bag of hope. In the newyear The Husband and I will become volunteers because life is nothing if you can’t at least try. Merry Christmas.

Please leave your comments I would love to know if a piece of writing has altered your thinking or caused a change in you.Merry Christmas.

City Travel.

 

passengers-1150043_960_720

Your always alone in a city,
on a tube a street or a bus.
No one wants to notice,
Give a glance or make a fuss.

Can you smell the stench of travel
As it seeps from Eccrine glands
Of bodies pressed close together
with no place to wash their hands.

Finally the noise is over,

Bodies fly out the doors.

No one makes eye contact,

As all eyes are on the floors.