Day 23 Prompt – My Town

Describe/Fictionalise a childhood memory.

Only a short piece today, I struggle with non-fiction, think I like to lie too much (is that why I love storytelling, lol). So just like trying poetry and possibly mushrooms I’m continuing my quest to try something I don’t like every day, or possibly every other…..town

I spent my childhood in the town I still live. A small little market town that nestles in the Pennine hills, between the Lancashire & Yorkshire border.  Where Bronte Country meets the Yorkshire Dales and where green leafed bridleways snake around the outskirts and a stretch of canal meanders past the edges. A place where the quirky and the quaint swallow you in and call you a friend.

I remember the characters that I saw as a child. Some we were scared of, others we would watch and laugh or admire.  They all had names, never their own, but a name everyone knew. Whenever you went home and told tales of who you’d seen you nearly always got a “Don’t be rude” frown, but as they turned to walk away you could just spot the signs of a knowing grin.

‘Rag Albert’ walked round town with a rope as a belt. His pant legs always tucked-in to boots that never had laces. He looked through the bins, for cast offs and scraps and waved a bony hand at everyone who passed. ‘Gladys’ wore black and had hairs on her chin. She only had 3 fingers on one of her hands and we were always told that her mother had cut them off when she stole from her purse. ‘Benny Bicycle’ was short and round, he sat on a tricycle and wore a jaunty beret. He would launch a spit straight at you if you wouldn’t push him up the hill. There was also ‘German Anna’ who wasn’t from Germany. She would stop you in the street and read your palm for a few pence, if you didn’t pay enough she would just hold you firm, not saying a word till you paid up some more.

When I think back now, through adult eyes, it’s hard to believe that we thought this was normal and nobody cared or batted an eye lid. Today there are still a few that are quirky, new names have taken over the old ones. Times change and faces too, but thank god there will always be the quirky.

You, Me and a Cheese Sandwich

Day 21 Prompt – He or she sees their crush in a library. Describe the incident.

 

It was a quarter to six and Sheila was on her own in the main library. The only other people were the six or seven members of the Tuesday night painting class that were in one of the little meeting rooms upstairs. Sheila stood behind the counter and waited, fighting the ache that was strumming in her forehead. She put her hands flat on the desk, palms down, spreading her fingers as wide apart as she could, stretching them ever wider till she felt the sting. She knew the pain would dull the pressure in her head, it always did. She’d known that for a long time now. Pain was good; pain took away the fear and made tiny little lightning bolts sizzle in her blood.

She looked at the clock, then at the stairs, her eyes flitting wildly between the two. The hands of the clock slowly moved on, seven fifty four. A tiny bead of sweat settled on her brow, she didn’t move. She focused on the second hand hitting its target and moving to the next. She spread her fingers wider. The skin pulled tight, nearly opaque and a second bead of sweat merged with the other. She welcomed the pain.

Seven fifty five, she shot a glance back at the stairs. He always finished the class just before eight. They were coming down; chatting, laughing, heads huddled close. A haze of colour hit the corner of Sheila’s eye, shades of red and vivid blue, patchwork bags and floating skirts mingled into a mass of motion descending the open cased stairwell. Nobody looked her way. The browns and the fawn of her heavy set two piece made her almost invisible against the backdrop of books on the dark shelving behind her.

As the heavy front doors shut loudly behind the departing group, Sheila felt herself relaxing. She lifted her hands and let the pins and needles seep through her fingers. She closed her eyes for a second, savouring the discomfort of the blood rushing back into her fingers. A heady surge of pleasure hit between her legs. She shuddered.

Then she saw him, the teacher,  Jack Marsden; the one man she had loved all her life, the only man who would ever really know her. She knew he felt the same, or he would once he realised it was destiny and they were meant to be together. She would make sure he knew. She shuddered again. With the key in his hand he raised his arm to the lock and the muscular shape of his back stretched tautly against his T-Shirt. She could see him sideways on and caught the side of his square cut chin, the tiny indent of a dimple that flickered in his cheek and the sexy little lines at the corner of his eyes. He turned around without looking up and absently dropped the key into the safe box by the door. He still had his head down, rummaging through his backpack as he came down the stairs. Sheila didn’t move. She watched the stone wash of his jeans strain against his well-defined quads as he took the stairs in clean solid movements.

He still had his hands in his bag and head down as he left, too busy to notice Sheila grabbing her handbag, flicking off the computer and following him out. Once outside Sheila quickly double locked the library doors, dropped the keys into her handbag and pulled the collars of her overcoat up against the bitter night air. She watched Jack continue to search for something inside his back pack as he turned the corner and out of sight. Sheila gave a quick check in her handbag, yes everything there, snapped it shut and followed him round the corner.

She knew the route, she’d followed it a thousand times. She knew every shop that they passed, every car that was parked in the resident only parking bays and every window of the converted mill that overlooked the canal.  She twisted slightly in the darkness and went over on her ankle. She flinched and grabbed for the corner of a bench that sat on the towpath. She sat down and re-arranged the strap of her sensible brown work shoe, rubbing her ankle and cursing the council for the state of the pavement. Then she saw the light go on in his apartment. She straightened up and sat back on the bench opening her bag. She reached in, her eyes never leaving the 2nd floor room. She laid the bundle on her knees and slowly un-wrapped it.  Picking up one of the cheese sandwiches she took a bite then reached for the flask of tea she’d made earlier. She was always prepared.

Sheila was just about to reach for the other half of the sandwich when she saw the second shadow inside the apartment. She froze for a second, and then went for the binoculars in her bag. Her hands twisted tightly round the frame and the pressure in her head came back. She caught the silhouette of a woman move towards the window and saw Jack close the distance between them. Shelia twisted her hands tighter. Then she saw them kiss. Sheila swallowed. Her hand went back into the handbag and she felt the cold steel edge of the knife as it razored across her fingers. She gripped the blade harder and welcomed the pain.

Sheila’s mother always used to say “be prepared” and Sheila always listened to her mother. After all it was mother who said she would marry Jack Marsden, they were seven and neighbours before dad left with Aunty Mary and they had to move house. They never found out who stabbed Aunty Mary outside the bingo hall eight years later, or why a half- eaten cheese sandwich was left at her side. Sheila stood up, straightened her coat and walked towards the apartment, knife in one hand and cheese sandwich in the other.

A Little Book of Happiness

Today’s prompt was to write a story using the words Grandfather, post office, photo album and folder………….

chfphotoalbumIn the little cluttered sitting room, I’m savouring the stillness. Sitting back slowly I let the familiar scent of beeswax and polish, and cabbages and greens waft around my nose. I always call on Pops on a Wednesday. It’s my afternoon off and when the kids are at school and the ironings been done and piled high on beds that I’ve just freshly changed I bustle in the kitchen to bake his favourite biscuits. No matter what else that comes on a Wednesday I always bake him half a dozen or so oat & raisin flapjacks to have with a mug of tea. The scourge is, I hate baking, always have done. I hate the mess and the annoying sweat patch that runs up my back as I murder the dough to just the right texture.  I still make them though. I imagine his skin crinkling at the sides of his eyes and the little twitch of his mouth as he grins and I know how much he loves them.

“Hey Gina, look what I found in the cupboard under the stairs” he says as he shuffles his feet into a pair of threadbare slippers and plops down into the opposite armchair.

“What’s that” I lean over and tug at a slice of tomato that’s got stuck to the underside of his cardigan sleeve.

“It’s your Grandma’s book of happiness, remember she used to call it that” I thought his eyes misted over slightly but couldn’t be sure in the dimming light.

“Yes and you used to say, it’s only a bloody photo album Edna, I’ll get my happiness from the tap room of the Rose & Crown when my horse comes in”  we both smile then, remembering her palms against each hip, her eyes squinted in a mix of fury and humour whenever she pretended she was angry at him.

She’d chuckle and say “Them happiness’s will be there long after that donkey of yours walks home, you miserable bugger” and he’d shoot her a knowing wink and stick the photos in the book for her all the same.

That all changed on the day my grandmother stood on the linoleum floor in the kitchen and started undoing the buttons on her blouse.

“I’m going to be a naturist” she said. “I want to be free and feel the cool breeze against my skin”

My Grandfather was a proud man, he’d seen off Hitler and worked in the shipyards, he was all for nudity, but that was in the bedroom between a man and his wife. “Not in the bloody Kitchen, Edna” he’d shouted over his paper. She’d stuck out her chin. You’ve never been happy, she told him. You’ve always been so uptight – so keen on your horses – and all that real ale!

She’d unhooked her bra. He tried not to look. She pulled off her skirt and her tights. His eyes caught her backside, like an oversized cushion as she went in search of the kettle.

The next Friday she went to collect her pension from the Post office on the high street.  A phone call from Mrs Brown, who lived two doors up, had stopped Pops in his tracks. He’d dropped the racing post and ran out of the house, still in his slippers. Grandma was stood by the counter, as naked as the day she was born, one hand on her hip the other waving her pension book high in the air. Her puppy dog’s ears, marshmallow pink, were swinging free in the wind. Pops had grabbed some folders off the nearest shelf and held them up across her unmentionables. Mrs Brown took off her coat and passed it to him. Nobody spoke.

Grandma worsened quickly from then, and we finally lost her last year. A part of Pops went with her. His sparkle is a little less bright now; his body seems frailer and weathered with grief. I sigh a little deeper and I’m glad of these little bits of time I can still spend with him. I put away the plates and straighten the kitchen before I leave, one less thing for him to worry about. Then I open the bin and see a mound of crumbled flap Jack buried at the bottom. Pops stands in the doorway looking guilty and rocking slightly on his feet

“Oh…… I love you Gina, but you can’t bloody bake” and he shoots me a knowing wink as my hands go to my hips…

.

Nothing Stays A Secret!

This weeks 100 word piece for Friday Fictioneers. Photo by Roger Bultot.

copyright-roger-bultotHis voice was barely a whisper, “Does he know you’re here?” I swallowed softly and lifted my face to touch across his cheek.  “No” was all I could manage as the heady smell of him inflamed my skin sending a thousand tiny lightning bolts pulsing beneath my flesh.

I leaned into the fire, his touch like the blaze of burning sun. These feelings like a saw cutting loose the chains around my heart. I could almost hear the chains being sliced. Hang on… that was a saw. I pushed at his chest, ran to the window and just heard the roar of the tree as it fell. “Damn”

Day 17 Prompt – A Little Coffee and Time Travel with Austen

 

Day 17 for the fabulous Community Storyboard prompt

Ellie had been hiding from the rain for the best part of an hour. She’d been dashing about running errands, paying bills and dropping off dry cleaning when the heavens had opened sending rivulets of water running down the side of the road, splashing knee high off the pavement.  Wearing nothing but a Monsoon maxi dress and a pair of fuchsia flip flops she had two choices, run for the car-park two streets over or nip into the library to wait it out. The Maxi had cost nearly a week’s wages and her mother had said it flattened her cleavage to almost normal proportions, so she wasn’t ready to lose it just yet. She opted for the library, it was closer.

The little coffee bar was on the ground floor with just a few cluttered tables set out facing the large glass frontage. Ellie had only ever known it as a library but she remembered an old school project years ago that said it was once the assembly rooms. Parties and dancing, meetings and court cases had all been part of a long forgotten past.  It was a shame it had all gone Ellie thought as she tapped her fingers on the pretty china coffee cup to the beat of the rain dropping off the canopy outside.

She trailed her hand over a couple of books someone had left on the table. She looked up, but no one was about, just the old grey haired tea lady filling the cake stand and licking a conspicuous dab of chocolate icing off her lip. Ellie looked back at the books, the first was large & grey with a heavy bold font ‘Electrical Instraments in Hazardous Locations’ no, she didn’t think so. She moved it to the side, underneath was a smaller book, thinner and wrapped loosely in a faded green sleeve ‘Pride & Prejudice’  oh yes that’s more my cup of tea she thought to herself as she opened the front cover and settled in to read.

She was so engrossed in her reading she didn’t hear the cough at first. Then it became louder, more determined and she looked up quickly and gulped. Her mouth fell open and an unfamiliar pang of fear hit her chest, or she supposed it was fear, it was making her feel queasy at any rate. He stood above her, his left eye brow raised just a touch and a glint of exasperation was edged on his forehead. He was tall and broad shouldered with a well-defined jaw that even from this angle appeared clenched and tense.

“It appears this is the only spare chair, would you mind if I sit” he gestured to the empty seat. Ellie looked around, when did the room fill up, she hadn’t noticed. She thought there must be a convention on somewhere. There were couples of all ages milling around, wiping rain soaked hands over heavily laced dresses that sashayed to the floor. Men in tight fitting trousers, with long polished boots that rose past their calves, sauntered around pulling out chairs and generally preening. Ellie laughed a little too loud and the handsome stranger shot her a look that could have killed a full herd of cattle.

“Are you quite all right?” he asked leaning in. She wanted to move away to draw back from the heat that seemed to radiate from his body. This close his eyes were as dark as the aura that surrounded him. She gulped again.

“Looks like a good party” she gestured towards the crowd trying to keep her voice steady and light. God, I hope he doesn’t think I’m after an invite, she thought eyeing his impassive features. He continued to stare, and she felt a blush rising up her cheeks. Bloody great, now I’ll look like some sort of desperate virgin.

He looked to the ground then back to her, his eyes focusing solely on her face “May I ask your name?”  She gulped again and kicked herself for being so pathetic. “Ellie” she answered slowly, then not really sure why, she decided to give her Sunday best, pretending to be sophisticated name, “Actually it’s Elizabeth, but everyone calls me Ellie” he smiled and tipped his head slightly to one side and answered “It’s a pleasure to meet you Elizabeth. I am Darcy, Fitzwilliam Darcy”.

Ellie grabbed the side of the small wooden table for support. From the corner of her eye she caught the grey haired tea lady’s smile from across the counter. A smile so brilliant Ellie could have sworn that a star twinkled in the old woman’s eye. And the last thought that passed through Ellie’s mind as she fainted to the floor was “Oh my God, Colin Firth didn’t do him justice”.

What is Love? (Day 16 Prompt, half way through my self imposed commitment to a prompt a day for August.

Go to iTunes, put your music on random. Write a story about the first song that comes up. 250 word or less.

I don’t really do iTunes but this is my ringtone on my phone, and it rang this morning as I was checking out the storyboard, spooky, well actually no because it was just the hubster checking if I wanted white or brown bread from the shop…… so thought I would use this tune instead. Not sure what I was thinking about …

A thin glassy whisper of dusk time fog beckoned the night to hurry on over. Certain things, like certain people, instantly announce their intent. No particular feature need betray them; on the surface an open expression or an innocent smile; and yet an immediate sense that something is amiss. Perhaps the same could be said of certain dark nights, an aroma of tension that flows through the air. A feeling so intense that it tingles the nerves and sends the innocent running to hide from its stare.

I sit by the window and watch you breathe. I see your chest rise slowly, a high mountain peak that you struggle to reach. Then it falls away quickly and stills for a while. I lay down beside you and pull you in close. I can feel your warmth beneath my touch as I raise my hand to your forehead and gentle stroke tiny strands of silver over to one side. You stir then, just a little. So I move my arm away softly and let you settle back down.

I knew that I loved you the very first day, that feeling of wonder and fear all the same. We married in months; they said we were too young, they said that we shouldn’t. We did it anyway. We lived through the struggles, they only brought us closer. The children we raised were our testament to knowing we were right.

I feel your breath against my cheek and remembered when they asked us, ‘What is love’?

I thought I saw you……..

This was for a story / poem prompt  for the fabulous Community Storyboard   “Write about a stranger you see.  Either their back-story or what they are thinking in the moment you see them.”   I thought I’d make a stab at poetry this morning. I adapted it from an earlier prompt  but ‘Alleluia’ it fits in for today as well.  I’m having a lazy Saturday, I’m bad…..

 

I thought I saw you in the corner by the chair,

Were you the one with the fair golden hair?

I thought I saw you as your eyes glanced my way,

Did you see me watching, did you feel me sway?

I thought I saw you as you turned from the crowd,

The beat of my heart was it really that loud?

I thought I saw you as you moved to my side,

Your breath just a whisper you couldn’t quite hide.

I thought I saw you as your hand brushed my skin,

Could you feel the air sizzle, was it going to begin?

I thought I saw you gesture and bid me to follow,

Is this where the fullness replaces the hollow?

I thought I saw you when my eyes closed for sleep,

Are you the belonging I wanted to keep?

I thought I saw you on other nights too,

A stranger in the darkness. I loved you, I knew.

Diana Lovell

images

 

This was for a prompt “Randomly find someone in your year book and create a story of their life today”

 

Diana Lovell was the queen of 89. She was the girl all the guys wanted and the girl we all wanted to be.  She was perfection personified with her golden spun hair and eyes so blue you just wanted to jump right in and drown in the depths.  There was always a collective sigh whenever she passed, like time itself took notice and held its breath.

Diana Lovell knew who she was. You could tell by the way that she walked, the way that she held up her head. She looked at the sky and said bring it on. She wore her own style and never followed the crowd, the crowd followed her. Whatever Diana wore yesterday was today’s favourite piece.

I didn’t know where she lived, I don’t think anybody did. She was a bright floating star that we worshipped from afar but never quite caught. We were in awe of the aura she created and never dared get too close. Perhaps we were frightened that she wasn’t real; that the dream of one day being like her could unravel and a shatter into a thousand tiny fragments of disappointment and loss.

I saw her one day, when I was coming home from town. I’d missed the bus and decided to walk. I took the short cut home, through the park off Richmond street taking the snicket that ran behind the Appolo. It was boarded up now and just the old neon sign, slightly off kilter, gave a glimpse of its glory days.  Only the A and the P were left, I think someone had stolen the P O L O for a laugh. I never came this way usually. There was never any need, most of the shops had long since closed and tightly packed terraces of red brick houses had more boarded windows than those with glass. If ever there was an area in need of regeneration, this was it.

I wasn’t paying much attention, just keeping my head down low, walking a bit faster than normal. Then I saw her. She was sat on a step with her arms wrapped tightly round her knees, her chin was resting on top and she was staring at the floor.  She looked up and our eyes locked. It could have been seconds or even an hour, I couldn’t tell. I froze, locked in the moment. I waited and watched for a smile or a hint of recognition. She smiled. I floated.

“Hi” she said, unwrapping her arms and getting up off the step. I smiled back.

She walked towards me and stopped. “Do you ever feel nobody really knows who you are?” I looked behind, was she talking to me? “Eh” was all I managed. She smiled again and turned back towards the house. She didn’t say anything else. I stood for a little bit longer and thought to myself “Well that was weird”. On the way home all I could think of was that Diana Lovell had spoken to me.  That had been a very good day…

It was twenty years later when I saw her again. I’d dropped my car keys on the floor in the struggle to drop my folders, let go of the briefcase and not spill my non-fat café latte. I was cursing like a builder when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned and saw the familiar blonde tresses, shorter now and cropped close to her head. My fingers jerked and the coffee free falled to the floor.  Diana Lovell held her head up high and smiled. Only Diana Lovell now had a well chiselled chin and a 6 o clock shadow. When I’d heard she’d had a sex change a few years ago, I’d been stunned. That was nothing to the shock I felt now seeing her, I mean him, in the flesh.

That question came back into my head “Do you ever feel nobody really knows who you are?” I’m still in awe of Diana Lovell……………………..

 

An Unexpected Meeting

In an alleyway of tall red brick a lone flickering street lamp lit the narrow cobbled pathway. A pungent stench of bins, overflowing and ignored, hit with a power so caustic that I heaved in the darkness. I sensed a shadow in the corner of my eye. Footsteps in the distance chilled the blood under my skin, and an icy river of dread pulsed through the flow. I stopped. I waited. There they were again… the footsteps; there was no mistaking them this time. I knew you were there. Anxiety ignited my paranoia; like kindling, fuelling it, feeding the flames and kept telling me to check again. I didn’t dare, denial was the easier option. I quickened my pace.

I caught the shadow again. Damn. Closer it came. I had to turn, a knee jerk reaction. Then I felt it, a warm haze of breath that skimmed the sensitive skin on my cheek. I could taste it; rancid, heavy and frighteningly familiar. A smile so wide, so hideous, it spread across his face and his eyes like ink pools of evil, flickered with malice in the absence of light. He raised an arm, high above his head and held something hidden by the shadows.  I tried to scream. Nothing came. My throat constricting to nothing but a desperate whimper “No please…Please no…Please!”, then I lost my footing and fell back against the red brick wall.

I opened my eyes to a muted echo and the bleak light that was still flickering overhead. Every inch of me coiled with alarm, tiny pin pricks of fear that scored at my skin. I raised a weak arm to my head and felt nothing. No pain, no blood stained wound pulsating across my brow. Weird! Then the echo became clearer and I heard his voice calling out. My breath stilled again.

“Are you alright, you gave me a fright there” a soft whisper of hope suddenly diluted the fear.

He put an arm around my waist. I flinched. I waited for the darkness to claim me again. “Lean on me, let me help you up” his voice a rich velvety baritone, unexpectedly calming and distractingly sexy.

“Remember me from the bar, you left your bag and I thought you might need it”. I gulped. Humiliation replaced fear and I nodded, grateful for his hoist up as he stood me back onto my feet.

“Richie, oh thank god, you friggin scared me half to death” I cursed and his eyebrow lifted slightly giving a tiny smirk of humour to a rather gorgeous face. “In that case, maybe I should walk you home, after all it’s not every night a gorgeous brunette drops at my feet”  I crooked my neck, the flickering light just above catching a small cocky dimple in the centre of his chin and I gulped again, this time for a whole load of different reasons.

Maybe tonight wasn’t going to be such a disaster after all!

Dancing in the Street

copyright-renee-heath

He saw her again. The same spot he’d seen her for the last three nights.  Catching her silhouette when he least expected. Tonight a slight wisp of breeze had caught in her hair and delicate curls of mischief were dancing in the air. He saw her move in the stillness and his heart rate quickened. A rising discomfort whispered through his blood. He shivered. He didn’t know her name or why she danced every night as if just for him. But he would come back again tomorrow and the night after too, maybe one day they would speak………………….

A 100 word photo prompt for Friday Fictioneers (although it’s not quite Friday)