Sunset

Yvonne sat on the beach, her piece of beach as she liked to think of it, and stared out to sea. She particularly liked this spot where the pebbles had been piled up by the tide, leaving the sand exposed just below it.  It meant a lot to her too.

She was sitting there on the ridge, her hands in her pockets and her toes dug into the sand.  Her sandals were just beside her where she had set them down when she had arrived. She had no intention of going into the water this time of the evening, but taking her shoes off for a while felt liberating enough.

This beach was just on the edge of town, the nude beach during the day, but at this time she had the place to herself.  The beach at sunset was her safe place, a special place. No doubt a few hardy souls would be along later for a bit of  midnight skinny dipping.

As always Yvonne’s mind wandered and it wasn’t long before her salty tears were slipping down her cheeks to add to the ocean in their own little way.  With the tears came the guilt. Yvonne hated feeling so lost and pathetic.

“Oh mum,” she whispered and closed her eyes to try and kerb the emotional assault that hit her like a tsunami.

After a little while Yvonne felt a presence next to her. She could tell that whoever it was meant no malice and stayed sitting with her eyes closed. She had no idea how she knew these things but she was rarely wrong.

‘You’ll be okay, little one.‘ Yvonne wasn’t sure if she’d heard the voice in her head or if the words had been spoken aloud. She was just about to open her eyes when she felt a comforting arm slip round her and a  finger gently touched her lips. ‘No need to say anything,’ the voice said and Yvonne knew the voice, and knew it was beside her and not in her head. She kept her lips and eyes closed, waiting. 

‘Your tears are valid, little one. Never be ashamed to allow yourself to grieve, for what we had is forever gone.  And know that the pain you feel is real, and I’m sorry, my darling, it won’t diminish with time, but you will learn to handle it and function more and more like normal. People will stop noticing, and that too will hurt, but it is the way things are. We cannot change the order of things, no matter how much we would like. When your father transitioned I was where you are now, and understand you fully. You were too young at the time, but with my recent passing I could do nothing to protect you from this.’ 

“But…” Yvonne starting, only to feel the finger alight gently on her lips again signalling the need for her silence.

‘There are no buts, my child, we are all born and will all die. I know you already understand this, and I know you well enough to know what you are thinking about doing. I cannot, nor will not, stop you if that is your desire, but perhaps it is not the time yet.’ 

Yvonne sat quietly remembering the pills in her bedside table, but said nothing. It seemed she didn’t need to.

‘I will not always be around, but conjure me in your dreams when you can and remember what we had. You were, are and always will be loved.’ 

The presence was gone as silently as it had arrived. Yvonne suddenly felt alone again, bereft again, and her tears fell anew, but this time she allowed herself to feel, held the guilt at bay.  She opened her eyes and gently wiped away the tears with the back of her hand as she watched the sun slowly slip towards the horizon, and then it was suddenly gone, leaving a horizon of warm colours for Yvonne to savour before she slipped into her sandals, stood up and turned towards home.

“Sunset was always our special time, Mum, love you always,” she whispered as she walked up the beach.

scenic view of ocean during sunset

Sunset by Travis Rupert on Pexels.com

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Umbrella

Today a 100 word short story. One of my favourite types of writing practice.

*******

Here we were again, down on the pier. It was gently raining and everything was tinged with grey.

Despite the rain I was still in shorts, keen to hold on to the last days of summer.  He held the umbrella protecting us both from the worst of the rain.  I looked at him and smiled. He smiled back. We didn’t need words to share our feelings I took his hand as we stared out over the ocean.

Then I woke. It was all a dream. I was still alone and on the wall the picture that had inspired it all.

2019.08.30 Umbrella

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Life

It was the best day, or  rather evening, of my life when I saw my baby boy born.

I was working in a hotel in the middle of the countryside when the alarm was sounded, “She’s gone into labour.”

Luckily the dinner service for the night had already finished and I could rush to be by her side.

By the time I had got there the first pups had already been born. Denny was a golden retriever, the pups all turned out to be black. She had escaped some time earlier and got her goodies.

The last pup, number eleven was clearly struggling. He was definitely the runt of the litter. He was handed to me in a towel to rub him and bring him into the world properly.  He was a black furry little package that stole my heart straight away. I had said I wouldn’t take one of the pups, but here I was in love, and vowed to look after this little man, at least until he was strong enough to look after himself.

He grew slowly but proved he was just as tough as the rest of the litter. Running round the hotel grounds they were always a source of amusement and diversion from the trudge of hotel work.

When he was old enough I bundled him in the car and took him home. I had named him DAX  (Diogenes Alejandro Xenos) a name taken from a Harold Robbins book, ‘ The Adventurers’ because I was devouring his steamy tales at the time, and this hero’s name appealed to me.

Dax grew into a big black shaggy version of his mum. He may have been the runt of the litter but he sure grew out of that.

When I moved away for college I left Dax with mum and dad, with more than just a twinge of guilt. There was no way I could have taken him to London with me, he was a country boy, and used to running in the fields, but when I returned at weekends he would always remember me, and come back to sleeping on my bed.  

The day mum and dad called me to tell me he died I cried.  He had lived a long and good life in the country with mum and dad, and he was much happier than he would have been had he been cooped up in the city with me, but I always felt a bit guilty at leaving him behind, and swore I would never do that again.

09 - Tiny (DAX),jpeg

 

 

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Hat

It was over halfway through the summer holidays and Susie and Tim had been complaining that they were bored, so much so that their mum told them to go outside and play or ‘she’d give them a flea in their ears’.

“So, what do we do now?” Susie asked.  They were both sitting astride their bicycles on the pavement outside their house.

“Let’s go see if Ruby and Billy want to come with us.,” Tim said, and before Susie could answer he had cycled off in the direction of their best friends’ house.

Outside their friends’ house they dropped their bikes on the pavement and ran up the path, knocking on the door as soon as they arrived. No one answered.

“Looks like they’re out,” Tim suggested after knocking once more.

All of a sudden Ruby and Billy appeared from round the side of the house, both pushing their bikes. “We saw you out the window on your bikes so went and grabbed ours too. Where are we going? We are soooooo bored,” Ruby told them.

“The dump.” Tim replied.

“But monsters live there.” Susie said quietly.

“Don’t be daft,” Tim told her. “There’s no such thing. Shall we?” And once again he cycled off not waiting for any reply. He had always been the leader of the group, and the others knew he would have some fun thing planned so followed quickly behind.

It wasn’t a long cycle ride, and there was just enough wind to keep them cool as they cycled, luckily most of it was on the flat, just one hill to climb.

“We’d best hide our bikes round there,” Tim told the others pointing to a small shed at the edge of the dump. “We don’t want someone thinking they’ve been dumped here and nicking them.”

Once their bikes were safely stowed out of sight behind the shed Tim lead the way into the dump.

“We don’t want to go over that side,” Ruby said. “That’s where all the food is dumped. It smells to high heaven during the summer.”

They all took her advice and turned the other way.

“Old clothes and toys are over here,” Billy said.

“Yeah but they’re all yucky and filthy,” Susie added.

“One man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure. We could find some reeeaaaly cool stuff I bet,” Tim told her stretching out the word really. He picked up an old cardigan and throwing it at her started laughing.

“Tim!” Ruby told him off. “Be nice. let’s have a fun day shall we?”

Tim stuck his tongue out at her but took notice of what she had said.

For a while they wandered around picking up bits and pieces of ripped or grubby clothing and dumped and broken toys, dropping them back down again realising that they weren’t the treasure they sought. It seemed that the treasure Tim promised was not going to be found today.

“Look at this,” Billy said holding up a walking cane. “Mighty fine, don’t you think?” He added trying to sound as posh as he could.

The others laughed.

“Moihgty foine indeed squire,” Tim said in his poshest voice.

They all looked at the cane. It was made of a shiny and strong wood with a metal top in the shape of a dog’s head and at the other end half a rubber foot  remained.

Tim looked around. He was feeling a bit miffed that he hadn’t been the one to find treasure, then he spotted something. He pulled it out from under some paper and held it out for the others to see. It was a Top Hat.

“I think these two go together, don’t you my chap?” he asked Billy pointing at the cane with the hat.

“Very Hollywood,” Ruby laughed.

Tim held the hat over his head. 

“Eugh, don’t put it on. It might have fleas or something,” Susie advised pulling a face.

Tim ignored her and lowered the hat onto his head.

For a second he felt a little dizzy and blinked a couple of times to try and clear it, but when he opened his eyes properly again the dump had disappeared and he was dressed in full formal dress. Strangely everything was also in Black and white, nothing was in colour. “What the…?” Tim asked. He could feel glasses pinching his nose, perhaps that was why he was dizzy, and looking at his hands he noticed he was wearing black gloves.

“You tried on The Hat.” a voice from behind him said.

“Uhh?” Tim replied in a question.

“You tried on the hat, and that brought you here.” the voice said.

Tim turned round to find a little girl in a frilly dress with a princess tiara on her head.  She too was monochrome.

“But…” Tim was so stunned he couldn’t speak, let alone form a proper sentence.

“You tried on the Top Hat and it brought you here. This is a cartoon. Little Lord Fontleroy.  I don’t know where you are from, but haven’t you heard of it, of us? ” the little girl asked him. “And by the way, unless you’re quick, there’s no way out of here for you either.”

2019.08.28 hat

 

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Lucky

They called her ‘Lucky’ when they brought her home, and she really felt she was. A new home where she was loved, cared for and fed. She missed her siblings for a while but that soon disappeared as she learnt to love her new family and enjoy the games with her new ‘siblings’.

As she grew they took less interest in her needs. Some days it was almost as if she didn’t exist, yet on others she was an integral part of the family and included in the games and days out. She still felt lucky as she was being fed and had the shelter of a warm home, and occasional affection.

By the time her eighth birthday came round the family all seemed to move on, whilst she still wanted to play and be around them all the time. It seemed now that they found her a nuisance. She was still being looked after (fed watered and given shelter) but she no longer felt quite so lucky or loved. She was almost an invisible part of the family, and when they did notice she was there it was more often than not to scold her, or take out their anger for someone else on her.

Five days before her ninth birthday the rest of the family moved home. ‘Lucky’ was tied to a stake in the garden and forgotten, discarded like an old toy. For five days she was left there wondering what had happened to her family, and why she was being punished. She had no food, and by the end of the second day no water, and definitely no shelter.  How ironic she still bore the name ‘Lucky’ and the name tag on her collar told anyone who might look said so.

On the fifth day a man who smelt strange to her, and was wearing a uniform came and in a soothing voice said her name over and over as he untied her. He took her to a strange place where she was probed and poked, bathed and brushed and finally was put in a cage. She was once again given food, water and shelter, and from time to time someone may come round and give her what she needed most of all -affection.  She didn’t understand the words they said to her, but she did like that they took time to speak to her at all.

One evening an old man came to the door of her cage. He smelled of comfort and of other dogs. He spoke to her for the longest time. He eventually was let into her cage where he sat and just held her, gently crying. The only word she really grasped was ‘Lucky’ which he repeated several times. As he cried she pushed herself close to him. If she could have spoken she would have tried to  take away his pain.

The next day the same man came back with one of the other people who had been looking after her. He held an old lead that smelled of another dog. He attached the lead to her collar and gently led her out of the cage to another room. Here he filled in forms and handed over some money. ‘Come on girl’ he said ‘We’ve a new life to live together.’ She didn’t understand the words, but she understood that this was another chance for her.

The old man took her to his home. He cared for her with so much love that once again she felt deserving of the name Lucky. He fed her well, even sharing his food with her from the table. He let her sit by the fire of an evening, and best of all he shared his bed with her. He didn’t care that her hair covered everything. He didn’t mind her wet kisses, and most of all he too enjoyed walking with her.

Sitting in front of the fire at nights she’d lay her head in his lap and he’d rub her head and pull her ears telling her “Together forever my girl, you and me, no one will ever hurt you ever again.” She didn’t understand the words but she could feel the love. Once again she was truly ‘Lucky’.

Image

original post from March 2013

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Excited

It was the first Friday of the holidays and the boys were staying with Nana and Gramps again for a few days.  Belles had had another baby and ‘needed some time to readjust’, Nana had told them.

The sun was shining through the crack in the curtains making patterns on the duvet. Nana’s old fashioned alarm clock said it was almost seven, and the house was quiet. Gramps had already gone out with the dogs, having popped his head round the door as he got up to wish the boys good morning.

Aaron took out his journal and wrote a few words. He was excited. Nana had said they were going on an adventure today, something different, but she hadn’t told them any more than Aunty Kerri was coming too. Of course the other cousins would also be joining them This was the first time that they had been together in a while.

In the other bed Charlie mumbled something.

“What, bro?” Aaron asked. Then realised Charlie was still fast asleep and talking in a dream. “Nutter.” He giggled. He listened to see if what Charlie was saying made any sense, or if there might be anything he could tease him with later.

“Wrong door,” Charlie mumbled followed by, “the green one.”

Aaron noted this down in his journal.

“The first to go.
Will be the last to know.
Secrets revealed in a careless way
Will change everything in every way.” Charlie said clearly.

“You awake now?” Aaron asked after noting down what Charlie had said. From their adventures he knew that the strangest things often have meaning, and especially things that sounded like poems.  He threw a sandal at Charlie’s bed.

Charlie rolled over, bleary eyed. “Hey, what  are you doing.” He looked at the clock. “Ugh, it’s still early. Let me sleep.” He rolled back, facing the wall, trying as best to ignore the sunshine that was gradually filling the room, and his brother.

“Aren’t you excited? We’re having a big day out with Nana and Aunty Kerri, and everyone, and and…” Aaron jumped out of bed, skipped across the room and opened the curtains wide.

“Ugh,” Charlie said again and buried his head under his pillow.

“You were  talking in your sleep again.” Aaron told him. “First you said something about a green door…”

“That’s one of Gramps’ favourite songs I probably meant that,” Charlie said, although Aaron now had his attention.  He sat up on one elbow, “and?” he asked.

“Then you said something really odd, like a poem or a maybe a message for us.” Aaron read back what he had heard.

“Nana said we were going on an adventure today. You don’t think … do you?” Charlie left the question in the air.

“I most certainly do. Fasten your seat belts it’s going to be another bumpy ride.” Aaron laughed.

‘Are you boys up already. We’re having breakfast and then we’re coming over to Nana’s,’ Aaron and Charlie heard Tilly’s voice in their heads. They had discovered some time before that they could speak to each other by a special kind of cousins’ telepathy.

‘We’re just getting up,’ Aaron replied. ‘ Jack is coming here too. He stayed at a friend’s last night.’ 

Ooooh a friend? a girlfriend?‘ Romany joined the thought chat.

Don’t be silly, Ro-ro,’ Charlie sent.

I can hear you, you know,’ Jack sent them all. ‘His name’s Javier. He’s staying with Fiona. He’s Spanish and I thought I could start to learn Spanish better, especially if I’m going to visit uncle Vern again.’

Uncle Vern was Gramps’ brother and  lived in Spain, near Barcelona. He was one of only a few adults who knew about the cousins’ adventures, and their special abilities. Jack had visited him the year before with Nana and Gramps, and later said it was his best holiday ever.

‘Is he handsome?’ Tilly asked.

‘I guess,’ Jack replied. ‘I think you’d all like him.  He speaks good English already, and if he didn’t have something else to do today I would have asked him to come with us today.’

‘You’d have to ask Nana first,’ Romany sent. SHe didn’t like the idea of someone else on one of their days out.

‘And besides I think today is going to be more than a day out. I think we are about to embark on another adventure,’ Aaron sent. ‘Charlie was talking in his sleep and said some very strange stuff. 

The thought chat went quiet for a moment as they all wondered about what that might mean, and what Charlie had said. They hadn’t been on an adventure for ages and thought that perhaps they wouldn’t again.

Then suddenly they all sent messages at the same time:

‘What…?‘ Tilly.

‘ Is…?’ Romany.

‘ And…?‘ Jack.

‘Hurry up and get here and I’ll tell you all about it,‘ Aaron sent back as he heard Gramps come back into the kitchen.

“Toast and Jam, or cereal?” Gramps called from the hallway. Whiskey came scampering into the room wagging his tail madly, as he always did. He was excited too.

‘ Gotta go, Gramps is calling us for breakfast,’ Aaron sent, leaving Charlie’s pronouncements for later.

Now all five of the cousins were excited.

***********

The cousins are the main characters in my first three children’s books. They have special abilities, and amazing adventures together. Right now it looks like another is about to begin….

All my books can be found at www.lulu.com/spotlight/HouseofTulstig with proceeds going to cancer charities.

 

 

 

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Scared

It’s kinda dark under here, but that’s just how I like it. I can see well in the dark, it’s the light that I don’t handle so well, but I guess that’s a pretty well known fact.

I am the monster under your bed. We are many but we are one.  We are the worst imaginings of all young children, as well as some older ones and indeed quite a few adults. How many times have you crept out of bed to go to the bathroom, only to run back and dive into bed, heart beating, scared of something from your mind that you didn’t see, but knew was there? Well that was me/us, and let me tell you we are always there. As soon as the light goes out, the bedroom, and indeed the rest of the house, is our domain.

These days I am under the bed of a young man whose parents call him, ‘Ivan’. I call him Kid, and he knows I’m here.

****

Kid has just come to bed, and it’s winter so the light leaves the world early. He tries to banish me with the bedside lamp, but he knows I’m here. He’s got a small torch, that he’s not supposed to use after ‘lights out’, but he does. He doesn’t know that such a small beam can do nothing except light my edges.

I sense him. I smell him. I smell his fear. I feed on it.

“Lights out,” his mum calls through the door .

“But…” Kid tries to ask for  a reprieve …

“No buts Ivan. It’s well past eight and you’ve school in the morning.” Mother crosses the room and turns off the light for him, before returning to the door. “And don’t start in on that monster nonsense. You’re a big boy now and you know monsters don’t exist.” I silently laugh at this point, but not silently enough so that kid doesn’t hear me in his head.

“Please leave the door open a crack,” Kid begs.

“Ivan, if I do that you won’t be able to sleep because you’ll be able to hear us downstairs. Now stop being silly,” Mother tells him closing the door, allowing me to take on my true form, not shadows, but something much darker.

Kid’s fear is palpable to me now. he is scared. I feel it.

Mother has forgotten the monster under her bed when she was young. She’s also dismissed that feeling she had after watching the horror film last week that made her as good as run from room to room as she turned the lights out on her return from the bathroom. She knows I was there but won’t admit this to herself, nor to anyone else.  She thinks of herself as a survivor, and I guess she is.

“Kid?” I whisper and slide out a little from under the edge of the bed.

“Go away,” Kid replies. His attempt at bravery makes me smile right across my hideous face.

“I know you’re not real,” Kid adds one of the most used phrases we ever hear down here under the bed.

“Real enough to talk to, Kid,” I whisper into his mind, then mimic his words back to him in his scared little voice, “I know you’re not real, I know you’re not real.”

“I’m not scared,” he tries a bit more bravery, and the torch comes on. He slashes it around the room.

This is my moment to terrorise as only we can do. I move fast staying in the edge of his light show, revealing just enough to truly scare him.  A hairy arm here, a wide mouthed grin showing off my pointed teeth to their best (worst?). I never reveal my full self to him, or anyone. No one has ever seen my face. The best part of this life is leaving the human imagination  to create its own horrors.

Kid gasps once or twice as he sees, or thinks he sees me, or parts of me. He sweeps his beacon back and forth just a couple more times then hides under the covers. He’s scared himself more than I could ever have imagined doing. We leave it to them to do the work. Humans are so good at that.

“You’re not real. You’re not there. Monsters don’t exist. You’re just a fig… far… frag … fragment of my imagination. I am not scared,” he tries to banish my presence and what he might have seen, sticking his head out from under the covers again.

“Then why not look under the bed? or put your feet down?” I taunt him with my best dry leaves voice, still in his head. I never need to use my true voice.

“I, I…” he stutters. “OK, that’s it. I’m not a baby.”

The torch light swings around the room a couple of times and I can feel him moving in the bed above me. He has moved to one side and is gathering his will to look underneath.

My work here is almost done for this night. 

I am ready for him.

Is he ready for me.

They never are, and in the morning his parents will ask all the usual questions, “How?when? where? why? but…” but they will get no answers, their kid will be with all the others who push their limits against us, and I can start in the room next door. his sister’s imagination is just starting to blossom. I shall be that foul blossom.

2019.08.25 scared

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