An update on life and NaNoWriMo.

It seems too long really since I last wrote a post on everyday life.  I’m not big on the whole blogging my day-to-day activities, but since I spoke to you all about my accidents I may as well give you a little update.

The ankle is all better and thank you to all of those who commented and sent me their best wishes.  It was really appreciated.  The ankle is fine, and doing pretty well considering the 7 week long ‘cast on’ period.  During its ‘cast off’ days, it’s a little stiff, sometimes a little sore, but getting stronger and stronger every day. 

And I have a new car!  Since a tree wrote off my last car, and being in a cast for 7 weeks I haven’t had a lot of freedom, so to have my cast removed and getting a brand new car all in the one week felt amazing.  Funny how you learn to appreciate the small things in life when things are taken away from you.  It gives you a little perspective.

So Dianne is the replacement and she is fitting in very well, my little Hyundai i30.

Oh yeah, NaNoWriMo.  I’m actually doing it this time! I don’t feel so left out now.  Already 10,000 words down.  So, I might actually get a book out of this.  I’ll keep you updated on that at least but I won’t be writing any short stories for a while, I’ll still update with the poetry but no stories.  

If you did notice, I took down the story ‘Dead Girl – Part 1’ since I only really finished the story last week I thought since I haven’t had the time to edit lately because of NaNoWriMo I will edit it later.  I’ll separate it in parts like I normally do, but with a few days in between so you do not have to wait for too long.

 

Cheers all, I hope you are all doing very well and thank you to all of you who have supported this blog.

 

RedPlace~

Pips – Short Story

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Pips

By J. A. Weymouth

Plump, red and juicy with a hint of green at the ends.  The tastiest tomato in the world, he thought, at least in that moment.  The bite was cool on his teeth that sent a chill down his spine but the moment the juicy pips hit his tongue, the freshness of the taste soothed him, awakening his hunger for more tomato.

Sucking the pips, savoring the flavor before he took another bite, he plunged into the tight skin.  He then swallowed, clicking his tongue against his teeth.  A rogue pip stuck itself in between his two front teeth, frustrating him as his tongue was neither flexible nor thin enough to slide through the gap to catch the pip.  Instead he tried his thumb nail perhaps that would catch the bastard.  Success! The thumb nail was a miracle worker for annoying pips stuck in narrows gaps between two front teeth.

The pip appeared as innocent as a pray patiently waiting for its attacker to eat him as he pulled it out, gazing at him, wet on his fore-finger.  However, he could not resent the pip as it was obvious the only thing it wanted was company, and therefore this must be the reason behind it attaching itself to his two front teeth.

‘Maybe, I’ll burry you so I can grow more tomatoes.’  He said to the little pip, placing the seed on the black and gray replicate granite of the kitchen bench.  The seed, a miniscule mass in comparison to the gigantic expanse of the bench, so tiny it appears to sink into its dark background, almost drowning.

The skin of the plump tomato was cool and tight as he pressed the tomato once again against his lips, preparing himself for another bite.  Plrrrrp.  Sweet fluid along with solid pips was released into his mouth hitting against his teeth.  He smiled, more juice had seeped into his mouth from the tomato, waiting, teasing the pips to be caught once again.  Another and another.  He pulled them all out individually with the use of his miracle thumb nail.  He lined the pips against the first so it would no longer be lonely, then pondered over the sweet little gathering of rogues.

‘I will grow you all,’ he told the pips as he finished the tomato.

A voice called from far away, distracting him from his fantasies of flourishing tomato plants.  He slid the lining of seeds in his palm then hiding them in his checkered shirt pocket.  The voice was faintly irritating, with its distracting reality check, however it was useful, because it reminded him to be somewhere.  He communicated briefly with the irritating voice for a few minutes so he could satisfy it long enough to leave him be.  So the voice left and so did he.

***

THE END

Blue Fabric – Short Story (Part 3) END

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Blue Fabric

(Part 1) (Part 2)

By J. A. Weymouth

Everything seemed slow the moment Mary fell.  Noah’s eyes bulged trying to see her in the dark.  The red of her coat could only be seen just by the fade of moonlight through the trees, bobbing in and out of the stream.  All was silent in the presence of the violent water carrying the unconscious girl away.   Stillness took over the forest critters, frogs no longer croaked, owls silenced their callings out to the night as they waited, watching the boy run after his sister.

Noah meandered through, forcefully pushing past branches.  The dense forest could not stop him as he pulled away from rogue twigs and leaped over high, imbalanced rocks careful not to slip or lose sight of the shade of red barely seen in the moonlit water.  He was not going to lose his sister.

He thought anger.  He thought desperation.  He thought rage as he followed.  But then the adrenaline rushed in, blocking out painful feelings.

It felt like he was running ahead, that Noah had finally managed to get to a point along the river’s path where he thought he could catch his sister.

Up ahead, he saw his sister being carried towards him.  Noah had not seen her face and tried to ignore the upsetting feeling that was stirring inside him.  Stones led the way through the river and he thought the largest would be a good place to try and catch her.  Nervously, Noah took his first step onto the rock.  Second.  Third.  He made it to the middle without falling and steadied himself ready for the catch of his life.

Noah knew he had failed the moment before he caught his sister’s jacket.  It was empty.  There was no Mary.

After he threw the jacket against the shore in frustration, thinking himself stupid after another failed attempted at saving Mary, he began to move again.  But before he could take another step, he heard a moan – distinct – coming from within the water.  It had come not much further from where he was standing as it had sounded like a baby animal in distress.

He knew it was frivolous to stand and think to confirm whether it was his sister making the noise, so he moved in the sound’s direction – and hoped.

Pale lips pursed through the surface of the water, now opening to suck in the air – desperately.  Mary had survived only to be carried away into a small enclosure from the side of the river bank; a separate stream dragged her into a dead end.

Noah became too far to stop her but he thought there was a chance to save her as he watched on miserably.

Water tickled Noah’s toes as he stood upon muddy ground. The water levels had risen, the river was flooded and now the urgency of his endeavour was becoming more and more desperate.  When he finally made it to the small enclosure, he could see that it was in fact a cave against the cliff side before the rising of a hill. Noah thought it lucky he had made it to this side of the river earlier on, as now it seemed impossible to cross the river with the force of the current in his way.  The only obstacle in his path now was his ability to maneuver himself into a steady position to reach his sister as there was only enough room for his footing to shimmy against the cliff side.  One slip and he could fall into the river and drown.

With steady feet and keen focus, Noah made it to the side of the cave and looked in.  The cave was a lot deeper than he expected and Mary stood there at the bottom, waist-deep in water and conscious.  Besides the blood and swelling near her left eye she appeared to be well enough despite her fall in the water.  She yelled out in glee when she saw her brother.  Her hand stretched out.  He grasped it tightly and pulled.

Her sister was such a small light thing.  Noah knew this well.  Small for her age he always found it easy to carry her on his back during their games of piggy-back rides.  But there was something terribly wrong when he could not lift her from the cave.

‘My leg is stuck,’ she whispered painfully but Noah ignored this and pulled her as hard as he could but all of a sudden he heard a terrible snap like the sound of a delicate twig breaking.  She screamed this time and cried out to him to stop.  ‘Stop Noah! My leg! I think it’s broken.’

Noah’s mind was racing.  With the water growing more and more ferocious as it rushed in to fill the cave, he needed to think of something quickly because Mary was now shoulder-deep in water.

Noah would have dived into the water with Mary to see the damage to her foot for himself but the cave was too narrow and he would not have been able to fit.  He tried to dip his hands in the water to see if he could reach the bottom but it was no good either, the cave was just too deep.

Soft water droplets fell onto Noah’s face.  Rain was beginning to fall.  Cold shrouded him with a light coat of mist.

This was not happening.  How could this happen?  Only hours ago were they playing on top of the hill in the wind with their kite flying pleasantly above them.  They were having fun.  It was a good afternoon.  By now, they would be at home with their mother, having dinner by the wood heater.

So how could this have happened?

Slowly, the realisation came to Noah that he could do nothing for his sister but watch.  Watch as the water slowly rose above her.  Watch the water slowly drown her.  And all he could do was hold her hand and watch.

Something happened.  The mist that had surrounding him became still in the air.  The water froze in place.  Everything quieted into silence and stilled.

Noah looked eerily into the distance and saw that everything that surrounding them had frozen into place.  He looked at his sister, as the water had become motionless before it completely engulfed her, and looked into her petrified eyes.  It seemed Mary too was solid, still and unmoving.  Everything around him was frozen.  Completely still in this one moment of time.

Then everything sped up around him as quickly as he realised it.  And he was standing over his sister.  Somehow they had made it out of the water – to the bank of the river.  But Mary was lying still by his feet with her eyes now closed.

‘Mary…’ Noah nudged his sister.  ‘M-Mary,’ his voice became broken with the realisation that something wasn’t quite right.

Dawn woke to the sight of a young boy crying as he lay beside his dead sister.  Frogs began to croak in the distance as the gentle, warm light stirred the forest awake.

~~~

END

I would like to thank everyone for your support and enthusiasm in the duration of this story. Thank you so much for your kind words and feedback.  It is what helps motivate me in the creation of these stories.

Blue Fabric (Part 2) – Short Story

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Blue Fabric

By J. A. Weymouth

(Part 1)

It was midday but it felt like evening.  Grey clouds overtook the brightness of the sky, but nothing could dampen their spirits.  To them, it was the brightest of days.  Their father had just made them a brand new kite – cobalt blue – brighter than the sky and he was taking them out for their first test run.

            The winds were high.  A perfect day for kite flying.  Noah took charge.

            ‘Me first!’ Noah demanded as he eagerly clung to his father with the kite in his eyes.  But his father turned to Mary – his four year old sister – and gave her the kite.

            Mary accepted the handle with a nervous hand as Noah looked at her in contempt.  He pouted and waited for their father to explain.  Why did dad ignore me? Noah wondered hurt from the neglect. It was supposed to be his turn first, it had been his right since he and their father had worked on that kite together.  He had helped weave the tail tying the bows together.  Mary had done nothing but watched.

            ‘Why does she get to go first?’ Noah demanded but their father continued to ignore him as he gave Mary instruction on how to fly the kite, the timing, the speed, the pull of the string.  But as their father gave instruction Mary looked at Noah.  Grey eyes looked at him, steadily gazing with curiosity.  It was but a moment that she watched him and he in return saw her.  There was a glimmer in those strikingly clear, grey eyes.  They were the eyes of innocence.  And as he began to recognise that innocence and understand why his father chose his little sister over himself, a gust of wind suddenly picked up.  Mary’s auburn hair flicked upwards against the gale hiding her eyes.  The moment was lost and then they both turned away.

            ‘Okay Mary, now’s your chance!’ their father called out to her encouraging her to run with the kite in response to the quickening wind.  It seemed like such an enormous effort for a little girl, but determination was in her run.  Instructions continually flashed in her mind by concentration.  She pulled in the prime moment and so the kite obeyed, spreading out in full glory, out and free.

            While Mary ran with the kite their father, still in sight of Mary had walked over to Noah.     

            ‘Son,’ he said as he kneeled, ‘I want you to understand something very important.’  He put a hand on Noah’s shoulder.  It was a kind hand.  A hand that never rose in violence or threat but instead, with firm discipline, it had guided over growing children.  It was a hand that lectured, that advised and cautioned.  It was the peace bringer between childish tantrums but had always nurtured in pride. To Noah, his father’s hand would always comfort him, calming him so he would take any advisory word seriously.  Even, in regard to his little sister (maybe even especially).

            ‘You’re my son,’ his father said affectionately, the knot in Noah’s throat growing tighter with his words.  ‘You are my first born,’ Noah thought he could hear the faint catch of breath as he spoke, ‘and as an older brother you have a responsibility to uphold and that is to watch over your little sister even if it means that you might have to sacrifice your turn first every once and a while,’ he continued with a smile.  He was like a lion, the freed sun now glowing behind him like a proud, golden main had somehow magnified his smile. ‘I would hope that you would always watch over her, to look out for each other because maybe one day,’ his father paused the smile now somewhat obscured by the troubled – yet somewhat forced – expression on his face, ‘I won’t be around.’

Starting to feel angry at himself for losing his sister, for failing to be the protective brother their father had brought him up to be, Noah looked up again and in a flash of light he thought he saw the blue fabric of the kite.  It was there and then it was gone but hope reignited.

Now that Noah had an idea where Mary might be, he took a turn as he ran into the direction of where he saw the kite.  The rain continued to fall, fast and hard.  It was cold but as uncomfortable as he was, the weather did nothing to Noah’s determination, he moved fast, unaffected.

A flash of blue fabric stood out as a warning.

Rain continued to fall.  The sound of rushing water came from a distance behind a gathering of overbearing trees.  A blue ribbon flicked and waved in a clutter of dying twigs trapped between two trees.  Noah caught it when it freed itself from the entangled grasp.  As Noah came closer to where he found the ribbon, the sound of water grew louder and more ferocious.

He thought the sound was familiar when he arrived at the bank of a river.  What little he could see, he could just make out the outline of the kite.  He forced his eyes to adjust to the dark, darting about to find his sister.  Nothing but the faint reflection of light against water and the flicker of a nervous kite could be seen.

A gasp.

A whimper.

It happened that Mary tried to cross the river in an attempt to reach the kite.  Finally having been caught by a rogue log against the other side of the river the kite appeared battered and lethargic in the dying wind, but Mary had not made it.  Instead, Noah thought that she must have slipped in her desperate effort to save the kite because now she was clinging onto a low branch, shoulder deep in water.

‘Mary!’ Noah yelled, upset and angry at Mary for getting herself into danger but soon his frustration turned into worry as he came to realise her present situation.  Her head rested above the water by an inch as she breathed and gasped for air, exhausted.  With her hands still clasped around the branch and her grip fragile but sturdy, she called out for help.

Noah saw that Mary had her eyes shut tightly, concentrating on her severe resilience to fight against the force of water and be swept away.

Realising she could not see him Noah called out for her again.  When she heard him she cried out his name and then lunged herself forward for a better grip and cried out again, eyes wide open and searching.

It was pitch black.  The river steadily grew more ferocious as the rain increased.  Mary still could not see him but her situation became more difficult with the rising water level.  Noah managed to find himself wrapped around the low branch (the same branch in which Mary still clung to) in an attempt to rescue Mary.  She cried out when the branch dipped in adjusting itself to Noah’s weight.

He scuffled forward and when he got close to Mary he leaned over and opened his hand out for his sister.  Noah could see the whites of her knuckles as she clung to the branch in an effort to hold on.  The strong grip was desperate.  Noah realised that she was too scared to let go and hold his hand so he was forced to move closer.  He would need to catch her wrist and pull her up instead.

Sliding down towards her, Noah stretched out but he was still too far from her to hold her steady.  He would need to reassure her, give her courage to let go and thrust herself into his arms to be free.

There was only one way now as they were running out of time.  Even Noah began to shiver at the vile cold, its iciness licking his skin, soaking him in cold even through layers of his thick coat but whatever cold he felt then could not be anywhere near as unbearable as the cold Mary was feeling now.  The thought worried him, because surely she would be losing feeling in her hands, making it even more difficult for her to hold on.  Noah saw his sister struggling and despite her sheer grit to hold on – as only a seven year old could – her strong grip was weakening and would not last for much longer.

‘Mary,’ Noah called, in a desperate attempt to encourage her, ‘you’re going to have to let go and grab my hand! It’s the only way!’

Mary seemed unsure.  Despite his hand only being inches away from her, she saw it as something of an obstacle.  It meant that she would have to let go of the safety of the log and with the dark shrouding her surroundings she would have to take a leap of faith into Noah’s hands.  As Mary thought about it more, he appeared further and further away.  Anxiously, she began to plan her attempt concentrating on her left hand (the hand closest to his).  She told herself to do it, over and over again. Finally, Mary took a chance.

Mary caught his hand and as the feeling that she could do it began to occur to her Noah struggled to hold onto her.  His hand had been wet from rain water and she could not feel her hand for the cold had numbed it.  She could not grip.  She was slipping.

The imbalance of the loss of grip made Mary lose her hold over the branch.  A sudden wave of fresh rain water took her and she became overwhelmed under water.  The force of the impact pushed her to the bottom of the river, where sharp rocks and twigs lay rested but because she lost control over herself Mary could not protect her head from hitting the corner of a rock.

There was pain and then the darkness swept her away with the water, flowing onwards to an unknown path.

Looking out in despair as the water raged like a tyrant sweeping away the earth – Noah cried out.

***

Part 3 will be up Saturday 🙂

Blue Fabric (Part 1) – Short Story

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Blue Fabric

(Part 2)

By J. A. Weymouth

Drowning.  That is all he can remember.  His mind was a blue haze of frosty morning and grey water.  And drowning.  He remembered the drowning again.

            He approached the door in muddy gumboots with raindrops in his eyes.  The soggy rain coat he wore did little to warm him.  His mother shook him to answer but no words would come out.  Only silent screaming.  And the deafening memory.

 

Noah was running.  Sunshine was in his face as he chased the cobalt fabric of the kite, its tail tickling his fingertips.  Joy was in his voice as he called out to his little sister.

‘Mary, stop! It’s my turn,’ he laughed as she slipped through his fingers again.  Mary had a natural talent in tricking Noah during their cat and mouse games.  She would deceptively slow down so that Noah would be fooled as to think he could catch her but in the moment before he had his arms around her she sped up in an amazing reflex, easily avoiding Noah’s grasp.

Stopping, now giving up, Noah watched his little sister speed off into the horizon, the kite now gliding in the wind in tail of her.  The blue of its wings stood out in the oncoming grey sky.  Mary took enjoyment in the fact that she had control over the kite again.

A shadow crawled over Noah’s face as the dark clouds loomed overhead.  The kite flew higher.  The wind had aggressively sped up whistling in their ears.  A storm was coming.

‘Noah, come here!’ Mary called with worry in her voice.  She was beginning to lose control over the kite as it flicked and twisted and twirled in summersaults.  The kite danced in complete obliviousness, alive in the domain of the sky.

They were on top of the hill.  Noah had been trying to take the kite from Mary, but her fingers became entangled in the string as she attempted to control the rebelious kite.  Its wild dances worried Mary as it flicked and twitched in painful pulls.  The string strangled her fingers and she cringed in pain.  She became determined to tame the kite becoming frustrated with the thing in the sky and her brother who had been challenging her for him to take over.  With a ferocious tug, Mary broke free from her brother but rather suddenly – tumbling over her own feet – she fell.  Shocked and winded by her fall Mary looked down at her free hands pulling up the loose string and the bare handle.  The kite had freed itself.

Mary and Noah watched the kite fly off into the distance, the wind carrying it through the black shadow of the sky.  Thunder rumbled softly, indicating a lightning storm hovered over the vastness of the Scottish Forests down into the valley.  The tail of the kite flipped and waved goodbye at Mary and Noah in mocking submissiveness of the wind.

Mary followed.

Distracted by watching the kite fly away and over a sudden sense of mourning, Noah turned too late to watch Mary run in pursuit of the kite.

It had become dark too quickly.  Thunder boomed loudly overhead, shocking Noah and he shuddered all over.  A coolness licked the back of his neck indicating the drop in tempretature and that rain would fall soon.  It was like he was frozen by the idea that Mary was running towards a storm and the kite was leading her straight into the middle of it.  Fear began to coil Noah’s insides.

He ran fast and hard.  If there was lightning, the forest would be the last place they should be.

‘Daddy!’ Mary called out to the kite in nostalgic sadness.  There was no way that she would give up that kite and what it meant to her.  While running, Noah watched in dismay as his sister drew closer to the forest.

A memory of wide fields and windy weather, of a smiling face bristled by a bushy moustache watched over them with a look of paternal pride, the blue fabric flapped up above them all.  The memory dissipated as Noah watched his little sister fade away into the forest.  Dread sunk in and so he quickened his pace.

When he finally reached the forest there was no sign of Mary’s whereabouts.  Noah looked out as he stood against the tall gathering of trees, their long trunks standing apathetically in faithful silence.  A stir and a creek in their old, arthritic trunks voiced their ancient presence.  The wind stirred their branches alive ruffling the dying leaves.  An ominous feeling sat and waited inside him growing with each unsteady step.  It should not be this hard to see.  It became too dark too soon.  He could barely see through the thickness of the trees as they gathered together further beyond, far deeper in the forest.

Overwhelmed by the overbearing forest, Noah had just stood there dumbfounded and lost.  He did not know where to look first.  And what was worse, he knew his sister was out here somewhere all alone.  He looked up towards the tops of the trees to see if the kite had been caught, but miraculously, it must have made it through and avoided the trees’ cluttered branches.

Noah had decided to just move forward from where he entered, in the same direction he saw his sister come in.  He journeyed onwards in the hope that the trees had caught the mischievous kite and had not led his sister too far astray.

As Noah moved quickly, a flash of lightning forked out across the sky, lighting the forest in a shocking contrast of bright white against the blackness.  Another flash of light and a roar of thunder followed.  The white light emitted through the trees emphasising their dark shadows making them look like elongated arms stretching out across the forest floor.  These horrific hands reached out for Noah’s shadow as he ran, pushing past low branches.

The denser part of the forest closed in on Noah.  Woodland noises became louder.  There was something eerie in their boisterous noises, as they became more forceful with each loud bang of thunder – unsteady and nervous.

With another flash of light and roar of thunder, rain suddenly started to fall.  Noah was really beginning to feel lost and desperate.  He could not decide where to go, where to search, what direction to follow.  He felt utterly alone.  It began to pour and then he remembered.

***

Part 2 will be up soon.

He Saw Her in the Rain (Part 1) – Short Story

This is a sweet little story I wrote a little while ago. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Part two will be up by the end of the week.

He Saw Her in the Rain

(Part 2)

By J. A. Weymouth

He saw her in the rain when he was walking along the breakwater.  It was pouring as he looked over to see the waves lick the wooden stumps.  The waves moved in such desperation as if they longed to be a part of the land.

The sea’s ferocity moved him as he contemplated nasty thoughts.  They were inside his head and they were screaming.  But then he saw her in the rain, as he was about to jump hoping to become a part of that foreboding ocean.  He relished the thought.  He was going to become a part of something greater.  The most powerful thing he could think of.  Not some ridiculous human life.

He didn’t see her at first.  He heard the soft pounding of thick raindrops.  A rhythmic tap tap of rain falling on an umbrella.  It was the fussy sound that drew his attention. They were beating her umbrella as he turned around to see.  She wasn’t close either.

He turned and saw wellingtons.  The bright canary yellow stood out in the gray.  They were splashed in mud.  He couldn’t see her face it was covered by her umbrella.  He also noticed that she was slightly bent over.  Her back and shoulders were straight but it seemed she was looking down.  He saw a puddle at her feet, but whatever fascination she found in the puddle puzzled him.  What was she looking at?  He wondered.

He hears her sneeze and she bends closer to the puddle.  She pulls up a ring.  He sees it glitter.  Sunshine manages to escape through the thick of cloud covering her shoulders in a soft, warm glow.  It showers her face.  He sees it for the first time.  He thought she was beautiful even as she stood without protection from the rain.  The raindrops highlighted the paleness of her face and the blueness of her eyes.  Her umbrella left forgotten at her feet.  The attention was focused on the ring.

Blue globes look up.  He notices her noticing him.  All previous thoughts on the breakwater disappear as she gives him a pensive look.  She begins to move, walking closer to him.  He sees her put the ring in the small of her pocket, smiling up at him.  Her hands slid into the inside of her woollen jacket for warmth.  He felt nervous.  Her moving towards him made him cautious.  He fidgets suddenly forgetting why he was there and thinks of turning his back to her.

He didn’t.

The rain had stopped.  She is much closer now.  He could see her clearly, only a few feet away.  Chestnut wet hair clung to her face.  Now standing before him he could see her panda eyes masked by milky mascara, her lips pale and shivering.  She smells of oak and cinnamon.  He sees her hand move.  Up and open.  There sat the ring.  She nudges her hand towards him, encouraging him.  He takes out his hand and opens his palm out to her.  She drops the ring into his.

“Happy Tuesday,” she says.

He can’t find any words.  She is behind him now walking away.  He doesn’t look at her as she leaves instead he looks at the ring.  It’s a plastic cheap one, something a young girl would wear.  It has a light pink band and a diamante in the shape of a heart.  He suddenly decides the sea is too deep and too cold for him.  The thought of home was more comforting.  He would sit in front of a warm fire as he daydreamed of blue globes and wet chestnut hair, while the smell of oak and cinnamon still lingered on his mind.  He turns around and she’s gone.  He thinks he’ll keep the ring as a memento.  He didn’t feel like killing himself today.

That was when he saw her in the rain.

~~~

The Red Scarf – Short Story (Part 6) END

The Red Scarf

By J. A. Weymouth [Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5]

The crickets sang in the hot summer night within the overgrown lawn outside a sorrowful looking house.  Any onlooker passing by would see that it was in a despairing state so unfit that it was to the point of decay.  Everything about the house needed urgent attention as the paint cracked flinchingly back from age, weather-beaten and worn.  The dried paint appeared like rotten potato peels revealing the naked wooden boards underneath.  The wood was in rot from previous pests that had been eating away at the house’s exterior.

Any person passing by would see this house and then somehow a cold shiver would crawl up their spines, even in the hot weather, making them feel ill at ease.  This happened so often, for so many years that people began to avoid the house altogether and even children claimed it haunted.

No one really ever saw the man who lived in that house.  People were only aware that someone was living there because of the rare chance of seeing spying eyes peering through moth eaten curtains staring out as passers walked by, and the newspaper pile that every once in a while was cleared away could anyone who cared enough tell that someone still lingered inside that rotten house.

There was one who was still brave though, amongst all the neighbours and curious onlookers.  Maggie White had grown up in that neighbourhood knowing all about the “haunted house” that all the other children had been so frightened of during their childhood.  But Maggie was never afraid.  In fact, she was the first and only child of that neighbourhood who could walk up to that house and touch the front door with her index finger in the middle of the night in a dare, and walk back to her friends, and then becoming, the coolest and bravest kid on the block.

Years later, as an adult, Maggie worked in that house and had begun to learn all about the agoraphobic old man who lived inside the rotten house.  Like the house he lived in, there was something disturbing about the strange old man. A sinister feeling would hang in the air as she nursed, cleaned and cooked for him and even Maggie, the coolest and bravest kid on the block, learned to grow wary.

She had been appointed in his care only a few days ago, but even then she started to feel uneasy.  He was impatient and rude, and although he never touched her (unlike some of her previous patients who would occasionally tap her on the fanny as she worked around them) the way he would look at her, unnerved her – a look she could only compare with when a man would greedily stare at a woman in a certain, chilling way.  Maggie could only cast this thought away, as he was still an old, harmless man and in great need of her care.

One day, something happened that she never thought would happen while she worked in this particular house.  Someone had knocked on the door.  Surprised and also very curious to know who would visit this loner, she answered the door, thinking it was probably just the postman but instead she found a young man, handsome with kind, blue eyes.  Was he his son?  She wondered.  She didn’t think the old man had even married.  Or was it a love affair?  Too lost in her own thoughts she forgot to greet the young man.

‘Excuse me?’ he queried hesitantly.

Shaming herself for forgetting her manners, Maggie apologised.  ‘I’m very sorry! I’m not used to strangers knocking on this door.’

He smiled in amusement but the smile turned strangely, as if it was a strain for him to hold.

‘It’s not I problem. I’ve only come here to drop this off.  Does Robert Cutteridge still live here?’

‘Yes, of course.  Can I help you?’ The man did not reply he only stood there, pensively, however, his body language suggested that he was not comfortable standing where he was.  Despite the large box that he was holding, it did not seem to Maggie that it was heavy.  Something else must have been making him feel awkward.

‘Would you like to come in?’ Maggie invited hoping this would ease him.  Instead, this suggestion only seemed to agitate the man even more so.

Maggie was about to say something until Robert called out to her, demanding that she attend to him.

At the sound of Robert’s voice, the stranger shoved the box straight into Maggie’s arms, not forcefully but enough to surprise her.

‘I’m sorry,’ he apologised quickly and continued to speak desperately, ‘but could you please give this to Mr Cutteridge?  Say that it is from an old friend.’

With his last word he smiled, but it was not a warm smile.  And then he left before Maggie could organise her thoughts enough so that she could reply.  Usually, she was so quick-witted and hot tempered that even she was shocked at her own loss of words.

When she looked up again he was gone.

‘Maggie! MAGGIE!’ Robert yelled once more and before he could scream her name again (in that demanding tone that she hated) she returned bitter-sweetly agreeing to make him a cup of tea.

After handing him his tea, Maggie shared her encounter with his strange visitor.

‘Well, who was it?’

After she explained that the man didn’t give her his name and that he only told her that the package was from “an old friend” Robert simply sneered and whispered under his breath that she was useless.  Maggie said nothing but rolled her eyes and placed the box onto his bedside table.

‘That’s the end of my shift, now, you know how to contact me if there is any need.’ The old man ignored this as she left, and stared at the curious package, his attention fully absorbed.

Robert Cutteridge, 82 years old, could count the seconds from the moment his heart stopped.  When he opened the box, to find the shards of a broken mirror he was dumbfounded at the sight of it at first, until he cut his finger on one of its pieces as he held it up to see.

It all came flooding back – when the blood dripped down, sleeking the edge of the shard in deep crimson – the moment he raped and then murdered his pretty Fanny Fahrner over fifty years ago.  His heart stopped and there was no one to hear his death cry, no time to reach the phone.  He was dead in an instant.

The next morning, Maggie would find the old man missing from his bed. Instead, what lay in his place, was a fully formed, magnificent mirror, the most beautiful mirror Maggie had ever seen.  And no one would ever find his soul, screaming from within its pretty frame.

***

END

Thank you to everyone who has supported and commented throughout this story. I know it has taken a long time but I wouldn’t be able to do it without the encouragement from everyone.  Thank you!