The Estate – A Blog Collaboration Story

This is Part 3 of a Collaboration story that is taking place.  Before you read it, make sure you read Part 1: Two Doors by Carrie Sorensen, and then Part 2: Shall I turn on the Lights by Nicole Pyles.  Stay tuned to this space.  I shall be posting the links to Part 4 & 5 as they are posted down at the bottom, then I’ll be writing Part 6.

And so begins Part 3…

Part 3: The Estate

Tyler’s face turned serious just then.

He slowly turned to face Freddy “Who is it?”

“It’s a Miss Chan from the estate agency in the city,” said Freddy, uncertainty in his voice.  It was clear to Gnat they weren’t expecting any visitors.

“Freddy, please take Naomi into the kitchen, she is not to leave until our visitor has left the premises.”

Gnat’s face hardened.  He had just confirmed her deeper suspicions that all this was one big lie, said with gentle face and a voice that was just a little too easy to believe.  She should have known better.  Tyler said he trusted only her and Freddy.  But then if he trusted her so much why would he want her tucked away out of earshot?  What is really going on here? She opened her mouth to speak, to demand, but Tyler interrupted her before a sound emerged.

“It’s for your own safety Naomi, please, no one is to know you are here.  Your life would be in danger if anyone found out.  I can’t let anything happen to you, you are too valuable.”

In a voice that was firm but with a hint of desperation he said  to Gnat while looking deep into her eyes “Please just follow Freddy into the kitchen.”  The creases on his aged face had changed from serious to pleading as he spoke.

One thing Gnat had learned from her years on the streets was when someone was being genuinely honest,  telling a half truth, or outright lying.   Tyler definitely had some explaining to do, but she knew from the look in his eyes at that moment he meant every word that he said.

She stood up to follow Freddy.  “Freddy, can you please take Naomi’s cup, we wouldn’t want anyone questioning things now would we.”

Freddy quickly walked over and snatched up the cup before Gnat had the opportunity to pick it up herself.  “This way please Miss Naomi, ” and he pointed the way towards the kitchen.  She followed Freddy around the corner, and down a dark corridor lined with closed doors.  The kitchen was the door at the very end.

Once inside, the warm kitchen was softly lit and felt more like a sitting room than a typical kitchen.  “Have a seat Miss Naomi, hopefully this won’t take too long,” said Freddy with a reassuring face.  He then turned and walked out of the kitchen and shut the door behind him.

The kitchen was not so large, but other than a small sink, a counter top, a few cupboards below,  and a small round table in the center, not much else in the room implied it was a kitchen at all.  There was no stove, oven, or refrigerator, and no pots or pans hung from the ceiling.  A distant shuffling noise and the voice of a woman caused her to stop exploring the room with her eyes and perk up her ears while focusing on the door.  She barely made out the words “Hello Mister Ross, my name is Elisabeth Chan, from the estate agency.”

Gnat had learned from living in her little spot on Second Street that not only could she not ever be seen, but she could also never be heard for fear of losing the one thing she had.  If she wanted to know what was really going on, she needed to hear that conversation.  With Freddy’s footsteps now still, she walked silently and steadily to the wooden kitchen door.  She had already decided she was going to sneak out, and hide in a dark crevice closer to Tyler so that she could hear the conversation better.  She slowly turned the knob while putting the slightest pressure on the door.  It opened without a squeak.   She tiptoed down the hall, quieter than a cat, slipped into a darkened crevice, and became one with the blackness.

Dark Hallway

She wasn’t there long before she heard Tyler’s voice sounding old and tired, “Thank you for coming to see me about this in person, I do appreciate it.  In my condition it’s very hard to get around as you can see.  Freddy, can you please go into the kitchen and bring Miss Chan and I some refreshments?”

“Certainly Mister Tyler.”

Gnat ran on tip toe back to the kitchen, quietly shutting the door behind her, and sat down on a chair at the table for fear of being caught listening in.  She sunk back into her chair and turned her attention towards the sink just as Freddy walked in and shut the door firmly behind him.

“Freddy, who is that lady?” whispered Gnat, her words coming out more of a hiss.  Freddy put a finger to his lips, smiled, and whispered “shhh, we’ll tell you later.”  He was still wearing the laser blue stripe tie and Gnat wondered if he actually lived here.  He started humming a little tune, a song she recognized, but couldn’t quite remember where from.

Freddy opened a box near the sink and took out 3 pastries and placed them on little plates that he pulled out of the cupboard.  He was careful not to get any sugar on his tie or black jacket.  He moved through the kitchen swiftly yet gracefully as he carried the three small plates balancing them gently between his hands.  He pulled on a small handle attached to the wall near the sink and a cube like contraption emerged from the wall.  Freddy lifted the top and placed the 3 plates carefully inside and placed the top back on.  Freddy’s voice then rang out clear which made Gnat jump in her seat “3 Pastries, hot.”  As soon as he had finished saying the words, he lifted the top open, took out the three plates, placed them on the counter, put the top back down and pushed the cube contraption back into the wall.

He put two plates on a square black tray he had brought in with him, and then put the third plate down in front of Gnat. She noticed her pastry was steaming hot.  He walked over to a square gap in the wall.  Pressed a button and said “3 Cups of tea.  Earl grey.  2 cream, 1 sugar.”  In the time it took to blink, three steaming mugs of tea had materialized in the gap in the wall.  Gnat’s jaw dropped slightly in surprise.  Freddy placed one steaming mug in front of Gnat, and the other two on the tray with the pastries.  It all smelled delicious.  Gnats tummy grumbled slightly in agreement.  How long had it been since she’d last eaten back at the hotel?  He gave Gnat a big smile and carried the tray out of the room and shut the door behind him once again.

The food wasn’t about to be snatched away on her here, this she knew, so once Freddy’s footsteps had faded, Gnat tiptoed back to the door, opened it and slipped back into her dark hiding place where she could resume her listening into the conversation.

“As you know she died 20 years ago…” came the woman’s voice.

“Oh yes, I am aware of that.”  Tyler said calmly.

“Some tea and pastries”  Cut in Freddy.

“Thank you Freddy.”  Said Tyler warmly.

Miss Chan continued, “The estate has been owned these past twenty years by a Dr Emily Robertson.  It seems she was a friend and colleague of Dr. Johnsons, and the estate was left to her when Dr. Johnston passed away.   Dr. Robertson is now retired from the University and has agreed to your generous offer and has already vacated the premises.  It seems the house was becoming a bit too much for her to take care of anyway.”

“That’s wonderful news Miss Chan,”  said Tyler, in a relieved tone.

“Mister Ross if you could please allow me to confirm a DNA sample, I will hand over the keys, and security details to you.”  Miss Chan said in her professional voice.

“Certainly Miss Chan.  Freddy, can you please assist me?  I’m getting too old to do these things myself.”

A minute later Miss Chan’s voice rang out in delight.  “A perfect match Mister Ross.  Congratulations the ownership of the estate has now been transferred to you.  While the transfer of the security details of the estate is being arranged by my office, I’ll give you the set of keys for the estate.  It seems Dr. Johnson and Dr. Robertson were very careful women.  Security was of the upmost priority for them, and you will find the house is impossible to penetrate.  You shall feel very safe there.”

“Yes, I heard Dr. Johnson was the type of woman who trusted only a few.”  Said Tyler a hint of annoyance in his voice.

“I’ll say” said Miss Chan, “I mean, who uses old fashioned keys and security cards these days?  The woman used practically every means of security invented save from building a moat and hiring an army.  She was a very gifted woman, the extra precaution probably aided her success don’t you think?”

“Most certainly, after all, some of the things that we discover can be very dangerous when it falls in the hands of others.  We have seen this time and again in recent history haven’t we Miss Chan.”  said Tyler.

“Yes indeed”  agreed Miss Chan “The world is not a safe place at the moment for anyone. Oh, I just received word, the transfer of the security details has been complete.  You now have full access to the estate. ”

“Wonderful news.  Thank you again for coming here.  I do appreciate it Miss Chan.  As it is getting late I shall get Freddy to see you out.”  said Tyler, his voice suddenly sounding even older than he was, a hint of impatience crept out as he spoke the last few words.  Gnat wondered what time it actually was, for she hadn’t seen any clocks since she arrived.  The house was dark, and blackness crept in from the cracks around the thick curtain covered windows.

As the conversation seemed to have come to an end, Gnat quickly tiptoed back to her chair in the kitchen.  She shoved down the now luke warm pastry barely tasting it before drinking back all the tea.  She had just finished wiping all the crumbs from her mouth with the back of her hand when she heard Freddy’s feet approach the kitchen door.

Freddy entered with a sweet smile on his face.  “She has gone now Miss Naomi, and it’s time to go.  But we must go quickly, there is no time. ”    Freddy turned and started to walk out of the kitchen.  Gnat leapt out of her seat and followed closely behind.  She needed to know more.  Who was Dr. Johnson and Dr. Robertson, and why did Tyler buy an estate?  Tyler seemed to hold all the answers and since he was the reason she was here, she needed those answers if she was ever going to get back to her old life.

She was small, quiet and seemingly fragile, but underneath she was incredibly strong willed.

She would get those answers.   She was clever enough, she’d find a way to wiggle them out of Tyler someway or another.

When Freddy and Gnat entered the main room with the fireplace and the large bookshelf.  Tyler was buttoning up his coat.   Freddy opened a nearby closet door and pulled out a hat which he passed to Tyler, and a long black shall, scarf and thick framed glasses which he passed to Gnat.  “Please put this on Miss Naomi.  It is not safe for anyone to see who you are, or know that you are here.  Cover your face and hair with it.”

Tyler bent down, picked up a large ring of different shaped keys, with several cards attached and put it in his coat pocket.  Once she was wrapped up and covered Tyler looped his free arm around hers protectively, but also for support.   “Where are we going Tyler?”

With a hint of impatience in his tone Tyler said “There is no time Naomi, I’ll explain more when we get there.  There is something very important I need you to find, you are the only person who knows where it is.  I believe it is the only thing that can help us locate whoever stole my secret.”

Freddy, now adorned in a navy blue button up jacket walked towards the dark corridor, opened a door on the right and walked inside.  Tyler held onto Gnat and they followed him into the room.  Other than a few buttons on a wall, and candles for light, it was completely bare.

“What is it that I’m supposed to find, and how am I supposed to know where it is?  We are in the future Tyler,”  Gnat said with certainty in her voice after having witnessed Freddy in the kitchen “and, I’ve never been here before!  I don’t think you understand what little I actually know.”

The look on Tyler’s face softened slightly, “You know so much more than you think you do Naomi, that I know for certain.”

“Miss Naomi, this is a transporter.  Technology has changed significantly over the years, and the methods of transport which you are used to are rarely used. ” said Freddy. ” We will be there in a moment.”

Before Gnat could say anything more she suddenly felt the sensation that she was in a fast moving elevator, she felt the whole room move, but she was not sure which direction they were going in.  Her stomach lurched upwards unsettling it’s contents.  Thirty seconds later the movement stopped.  There was a small beep and the door to the room opened.   A draft of cold air filled the room.  Freddy walked out into the cold night air.  Tyler with his arm still linked around Gnat’s, strengthened his grip as they slowly stepped outside.  The sky was littered with tiny dazzling specs of stars, ahead of them loomed the dark outline of a large building.

Stay tuned next week as Tena Carr shares part 4 of the story. 

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A Sign

I think I had completely lost my mind, for I don’t even remember the events which have led me to this dark drab place so far away from anything normal.

Her death was so sudden, so instantly painful, and felt like a warship had blasted a cannon through my heart.  I remember getting a phone call at work, and then my memory went blank.  That was also the last time I saw colour.  The stamp on my passport says I arrived here two weeks after her death.   The Qantas ticket stub says I’m in Tokyo.  I guess shock has a way of royally screwing a person up by taking over their mind, their body, and then waking them up sometime later in a whacky black and white foreign film.

We had plans, lots of them, and we were working our asses off to afford them.  Plans to have kids, travel to Europe, and buy a cottage in the North part of the city.  She wanted a country style kitchen and a little veggie patch out back. I wanted a decent sized garage so I could tinker with my motorcycle.

She was so pretty, always smiling and smelling like the ocean.  She always dressed up nice, and never minded me going off and watching a footy game with my mates.  She was going places too, her paintings of rainbows hung in galleries all over the country.  I still can’t believe she’s gone, everything has gone so dark.  She brought colour into my life.  I’m so messed up right now, I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to do.

Each day I question why here?  Why Japan?  And yet I don’t leave.  Day after day well into the night for a month I walked the grey streets alone, numb, wondering, stumbling,  passing one concrete building after another, uncaring which way I went, often getting so lost I would sit down on a park bench and cry.  I stopped all that walking last week though, or was it the week before?  The soles in my shoes started cracking so I walked into a shoe store and learned my Australian feet are too big for Japanese shoes.  So I went back to my dodgey closet hotel apartment, lay down on the hard futon and went to sleep.  I feel like I slept for two weeks.   I’ve been such a zombie, God only knows what I’ve actually done.   I need to snap out of this, I need to get my sh*t together.

The weirdest thing happened to me yesterday.  I walked into this Irish pub sometime in the morning, one with a sign on street level, but was actually located in a windowless basement.  A soccer game was airing on a big screen TV in the centre of the pub.  I sat in a dark corner and tried to pay attention but  I could barely focus.  The pub was mostly empty save for a few older foreign blokes, and a couple of Japanese men in black suits.  So I ordered another frothy beer and willed the drunkness to come take away the pain.

There was this guy sitting not far away.  He had long white hair tied back in a pony tale.     He saw me, picked up his lunch  and sat down in front of me.  I was not in the mood for company, but there was something about this mans face.  Was it the lines, the odd grey colour, or the fact that he was a foreigner like me? I couldn’t quite figure it out.  I decided to humour him.  He said his name was Jim, came from the UK.  He said he hadn’t been in Tokyo very long, just a few weeks.  He bought me another beer, and that seemed to loosen me up a bit.

For the first time since she died, I actually remember talking about it.  Once I started talking, the words started tumbling out.   I told him about the car accident, how I found myself here and don’t even remember arriving.  I told him how broken I am, how I miss her, how I can’t seem to live without her, and now she’s gone forever and taken all the colour in this world with her.

Jim sat back and listened, then when I was done talking he said, “Tom, what you need is a sign,  a sign that she’s not gone, she’s still here with you, just not physically.  You need to get your life back together, you need to start moving on and you won’t be able to without a sign.”

“You really believe that?”  I asked

“I do!” Jim said. “The sign is different for everyone, it has meaning to you, and only you, and you’ll know it when you see it.  Go on, ask for it, call to her in your mind, tell her to send you a sign.”

I looked at him still a little unsure.

“Go on, give it a go, right here, come on!”  coaxed Jim.

I decided I had nothing to lose.  I closed my eyes and I said in my mind “Babe, if you can hear me, send me a sign that you are not gone for ever, and that I’ll be ok.”

Jim had to go but I sat at that pub until the game was over.  I climbed up the steps into the bright afternoon light.  The ground was glistening like diamonds in the sun.  It must have just rained.  I turned the corner onto a bigger street, looked up and stopped dead in my tracks.  There ahead arched over the street was the most beautiful rainbow I had ever seen.  After having seen so much darkness, the colours were absolutely stunning.

Photo taken by Kristoffer Sorensen

Photo taken by Kristoffer Sorensen

Written for Writer Wednesday Blog Hop over at Chasing Revelry & World of My Imagination

The prompt was the photo above & 5 words which have been written in Bold in the story.  🙂

I Love Trees

I live in a very English part of Melbourne called Surrey Hills, complete with Victorian houses, manicured gardens, and maple tree lined streets.

Canterbury is nearby with it’s cute little shops & cafes.

There are some very old trees in my neighborhood, trees like this:

Image

And this…

Image

And yet in the middle of my local park is this giant Euclyptus reminding me of where I REALLY am.

Image

I love trees, and the uniqueness of the ones in Australia.

Guiseppe’s House

Guiseppes House

This is a story about a haunted house. 

And although most stories about haunted houses are scary or creepy, this story begs to differ.

Once upon a time, back in 2012, Guiseppe Moretti, 45 year old builder and lover of all things old and antique had found the most perfect house in Melbourne’s inner city suburbs.  He had been saving hard over the years building or renovating other peoples houses and finally had saved enough money to buy his own dream home.  His mates all thought he was silly looking for the oldest most dilapidated Victorian house to restore to it’s former beauty, but Guiseppe wanted something to restore that was his, and his alone.  Knowing how much Guiseppe wanted a wife and kids his friends remarked “Mate, you are never going to find a woman to knock up living in that house, especially seeing how much time it’s going to take you to fix it!”

Guiseppe had been looking around for a house to restore for the past few years and had found several suitable places,  but those mainland Chinese developers seemed to always outbid him everytime, much to his annoyance.  But Chinese were afraid of Ghosts, and perhaps that was the reason the interest in this particular house was next to nil.  It also helped that the house was in an area of the city where houses new, old, or restored had to keep the period feel to it, and Chinese just so happen to be lovers of modernity.

David the property agent being Chinese himself wondered how on Earth he would manage to sell this house that he secretly worried would collapse on his head if he stuck around too long, especially since he had to tell potential buyers that two children had died in the house, albeit years ago, and that the house was renowned for it’s ghosts.   David learned first hand that the rumours were true  after one freaky evening whilst showing the property to a middle-aged couple who couldn’t seem to agree on anything.  The two ghosts of the children decided to make a show of their dislike of this couple intruding their unwelcomed unhappiness upon them by slamming all the doors shut at once and giving them a nasty fright.

So it came as a surprise to David when Guiseppe put in an offer after viewing the property early on a bright sunny Saturday morning.  The ghosts were up to their usual ghostly mischief that day.  Guiseppe marched through the house whistling a tune, the biggest grin on his face, his false teeth glistening from the light shining through from the windows.  Much to David’s surprise, Guiseppe didn’t seem the least bit phased as closet doors opened, just long enough for Guiseppe to have a good look, and then closed again as his eyes drifted to another part of the room.  It was as if the two children were trying to give Guiseppe a tour of the house.  David believed it was a sign that the ghosts were as happy with Guiseppe as he was with the house.

Once all the details had been sorted out and the property was his, Guiseppe moved in on a rainy autumn Sunday morning.  While standing in the middle of the sitting room with it’s bluish green wall paper spotted with white patches like a peacock where the paper had peeled off,  dust bunnies hiding in all the corners,  Guiseppe said in a loud booming voice that reverberated through the entire house  “Good morning children, nice to meet you both, I’m Guiseppe, I’m sure we will get along just fine!”  The half opened door to the sitting room creaked as it opened fully.

Guiseppe would tell the children stories as he worked on the house, some his Nonna had told him about Italy before the war, and other times about his own life, and how he could never meet the right woman to give him the kids he’d always dreamed of having.  At night he would sing them an old Italian hymn to help them sleep.  The children grew all the more fond of Guiseppe and did their best to help him, bringing him more nails,  a particular tool he was after that was just out of reach, and once even zipping up his jumper when he told them he was feeling a bit cold.  As the restorations progressed, Guiseppe realized he had grown quite fond of his little helpers as well and he wished they could walk, talk and play like children who are alive.  Guiseppe enjoyed their company so much he found himself meeting up with his mates less and less and instead stayed home and had a fun evening at home playing a board game with the ghost kids.  His mates in-turn scratched their bottoms and started to question his sanity.

He told the invisible children one day that he wished they were able to talk back to him.  Later that week while watching The Block, his favourite home restoration reality show on Channel 9, one of the children grabbed ahold of the remote and started flicking through the channels.  “Hey,  I was watching that, silly kids, there are no cartoons on at this time of the night!”  The channels flicked and flicked and then stopped on a channel airing the Twilight Zone.  Guiseppe hadn’t seen that show in years, but loved watching it as a child.   The episode was about a little girl who brings home a talking doll.  The doll winked, and spoke as if possessed by a ghost.  So engrossed in the show was he, that it took a good 15 minutes for the lightbulb in his head to switch on.  “A talking ghost doll, that’s brilliant, kids you are genuises!”

Without further ado, Guiseppe turned on his computer, Googled antique dolls and found the perfect thing.  An antique dealer in Adelaide was selling some old life sized puppets from the 1950s, like the puppet from the Howdy Doody show, with a mouth that opened and closed as it spoke.  One puppet was a boy with dark curly hair and a V-Neck jumper, and the other was a girl with perfect golden locks in a dark green dress.  Although well worn, the dolls were in tact and apparently still worked.  With a few clicks of the mouse the dolls were his.

Two weeks later a tall lanky Indian man in a DHL uniform knocked on the door.  The dolls had arrived.  No sooner had the courier driven off when the two kids were ripping open the package like it was Christmas morning.  Paper and wrapping materials flew in all directions in the stale breeze-less hot summer room.  The dolls lay still for 5 minutes and just as Guiseppe started to wonder if the kids had finally met their object moving match, an arm jerked upwards, followed by a foot.  It took another 10 minutes for the kids to fully get the hang of possessing the dolls, and within 20 minutes they were dancing around the room in them.   Mastering the speech seemed to be a little more challenging.  That first day all that came out were a series of mouse like squeaks.   Within a week however he had learned that the two children were called Albert and Emma.  Their own alcoholic abusive father had died in the last World War, and their unhappy mother lost her mind and poisoned Albert and Emma to death with arsenic.   After their mother was sent to a mental institution, the house was sold to a cranky childless couple who ignored them no matter how much noise they made.  They had felt unwanted and unloved.  Guiseppe was the loving father they had always wanted and never had until now.

Come winter, so accustomed to possessing the dolls and being like real children again Albert and Emma took to following Guiseppe everywhere, sometimes even when he left the house. When the neighbors weren’t looking,  they would climb into his old Ford and buckle themselves in the backseat and demand to hear another story as they drove around town.    The more he got to know the two kids, the more difficult he found being apart from them.  He found a job with a company that restored antiques and did all the restorations from his garage.  His friends gave up on him eventually but it didn’t matter to Guiseppe.  He had everything he wanted, two kids of his own that never aged, a beautifully restored house, and all the time in the world to spend there with them.

As the years past by, the neighbours came to see him as a somewhat deluded recluse who talked to himself all day, and thus they all avoided him.  They believed the haunted house had made him crazy.  His friends had stopped calling ages ago.  Rather than feel alone, Guiseppe was content and truly happy for the first time in his life.

Twenty years after buying the house,  Guiseppe suffered a stroke and died, so heartbroken were Albert and Emma, that they decided to shed their battered and several times repaired puppet shell and cross over to the other side together with him.

That was the last time a ghost lived in that house.

The end.

I wrote this story for World of My Imagination weekly Wednesday blog hop, where they invite everyone to write a story using a picture and include 5 particular words in the story (false-teeth, peacock, zip, hymn, computer).  They also prefer a 500 word limit, but I have this habit of letting a story run away with its words and it only stopped to catch it’s breath when it hit 1500.  I decided to post it on this blog anyway.  

The photo of the house at the top is an old home I pass each day too and from work.  It’s been for sale for several months now.  The house never ceases to catch my attention each time I walk past and I wonder what stories it holds.  My friend David is a Chinese property agent here in Melbourne.  Although he primarily deals with rental properties, he told me a story once about the challenges he had renting out a property after someone committed suicide in it.  I saw the second photo on World of My Imagination’s blog as I passed this house today with it’s bright yellow for-sale sign and I thought it would be fun to write a story this week about this old house.  

Disclaimer – as I do not want to discourage any potential buyer from buying this house, I would like to reiterate the fact that this story is 100% fiction.

Lost

http://www.flickr.com/photos/saranv/3579803295/

Ryan’s grandfather had suddenly died at work, just a year before he was supposed to retire.  Heart attack, the coroner would later say in a polite phone call to his mother.  Unable to cope with a grieving family which smothered him in teary embraces, or his own overwhelming sense of loss, he had run away 24 hours later.  So upset were his parents they never noticed him digging out the small tent and a sleeping bag from the storage closet, or packing his spiderman backpack full of bread, cheese, biscuits, a waterbottle, and his Legend of Zelda comic book his grandad gave him for his last birthday.

He tiptoed out the backdoor, and crossed the yard to the back gate.  The laundry was still hanging on the clothes line from the day before, sodden from a light mid morning sprinkle and forgotten.  He made his exit while a neighbor consoled his teary mother, and his father sat alone in the sitting room nursing a strong drink, a Patsy Cline CD lulling him further into a grieving stupor.

Ryan knew these woods well that lined the edge of town, only a few blocks beyond his home.  They were filled with thick eucalypt and ferns.  He’d spent a great many weekends exploring or camping in them with his grandad when the threat of bushfire was low, or playing with his friends during long summer days.  Although he started out wondering along a familiar well known trail,  so caught up in thoughts was he that he wondered off the trail and eventually found himself lost.

Before the sun went down he found a clearing.  Remembering what his grandad had taught him, he carefully set to the task of digging out the rocks so that the surface below was flat and relatively smooth to pitch the tent on top of.  He lay out the sleeping bag and crawled inside for warmth.  He began to doze as the sun settled for the night and the moon began to rise, but the buzzing of a flea,  followed by the scurrying of little animals outside, the cracking of nearby branches, and the hissing of a possum in the opposite direction alerted his senses, woke him up like coffee, and prevented him from getting any further sleep that night.   The woods were alot scarier without grandad and he missed him more than ever.

Finally when the skies showed hints of light in the horizon,  and all had gone quiet, an overfull bladder pushed him out into the damp air in thankful relief.  Everything was covered in a thick layer of dense greyish white fog, like snow sticking to the air.  Even the morning birds seemed lost in the fog as they too barely muttered a peep.  He walked in a straight line until he found a tree to pee under, but the snapping of a branch nearby as he was finishing up caused him to turn suddenly, take a few steps, look around, and forget which direction he had come in.   He only figured this out when another rustling sound, closer this time caused him to bolt back in the direction he thought he had come in, only he didn’t end up at his tent.

He wondered through the thick icy fog, shivering with regret, tripping over tree roots and barely dodging trees, and as the fog began to slowly dissipate he began to cry.  He cried big fat drops which ran down his cheeks and landed on the muddy earth below.  It was as if the fog had consumed him, for every piece of him felt cold, damp, grey, empty, and lost in nothingness, and he cried for what was now gone.

He cried until the tears ran dry and there was nothing left.  He lay down on the ground, lifeless and numb, cheek pressed into mud.  “I’ll miss you grandpa”  he whispered.  He closed his exhausted eyes and willed himself to sleep.

This is a slightly altered snippet of a longer story I am currently writing.  It’s a story about grief, loss and finding a re connection within it, a topic I have been exploring recently.   I altered it so I could post it on World of My Imagination, for the weekly Wednesday short story blog hop.  The topic this week is the picture above, and the five words found in this story: task, digging, flea, price, legend.  I had to get a bit creative to fit those words in (Legend of Zelda comic book?  Seriously who reads that nowadays?).  Click here to read the other entries for this week.  

It’s been 6 weeks…

It’s been a tough 6 weeks.  It’s hard to believe it’s even been 6 weeks, it feels more like 6 months have passed.  I hardly remember April, Easter with Sam’s family, or the big events I helped plan at work in March.  I barely remember the summer days when the sun was up before I was.

I feel like I’m a lagging computer whose hard drives are filled to the max. I wish an extra stick of ram, or transferring some files off onto an external hard drive could do the trick. Since I’m human instead of machine thus requiring extra processing time, it’s taking me longer than usual to respond to things. I simply am not working at maximum efficiency. Perhaps a  re-boot would help.

Most days people ask me how I am.  I respond with a chirpy “I’m good!”  Because in reality, I’m doing alot better than a few others in my life, and I can’t help but compare.  But people are misinterpreting my “I’m good.”  I suppose I am too.  Yes, compared to my Mother, and quite possibly even my siblings, I am actually doing good.  But I suppose compared to some whose life is filled with joy and bliss, my life is a bit blah, for lack of a better word.

On May 6th, the day of the supermoon, I walked along the beach near Mermaid Waters QLD.  Life felt so peaceful, yet I knew it was about to change.  That was the day my dad died suddenly in Canada.  The news came with the rising moon into the clear night sky.  A whirlwind of flights and emotions later, I found myself back in Canada comforting my mother and helping my family to plan my dad’s funeral.

6 weeks later I am back to routine life in Australia, except it’s not the same.    I’m trying my hardest not to get overwhelmed.  Work is somewhat busy, I’m trying to plan a wedding, I’m spending my Saturday’s at house inspections as we are looking for a house to buy, my family is grieving, especially my mother, people around me are being diagnosed with cancer, going through some major relationship stuff, or are just plain caught up in their own lives.  They can’t wait to catch up to tell me all about it.  When I gather the energy to meet up or chat with them, I sit there and I listen, and I offer all I can, but deep down inside, I’m struggling.

Everything feels too much, and yet I’m trying to tackle it all head first with all my energy.  A part of me feels it would be good for me to get out and do things like before, continue my life, yet another part of me wants to stay at home and not leave for a week, distracting myself with writing prompts and the dream world of fiction.  These two parts often clash and end up in a stalemate and not much gets done.

I tell myself, I’m a strong girl, I know alot about emotion, grief, and letting go.  I’m good at processing my emotions, and allowing myself to feel.  And yet at the same time, I am STILL processing my emotions and will be for some time.  That didn’t magically disappear when I arrived back in Australia.  I still have my moments of sadness, grief, and heart ache.  I remind myself I did just lose my father.  Death is the ultimate separation and I am feeling this one.    I’m finding it hard when those moments arise to take time for myself, because a few others around me have it so much harder, so much worse, and I need to be strong for them, help them through their pain as it’s so much greater than mine.   But the only way I’m going to work through mine is by taking time out for me, and find a balance between them and me.

It’s like what they say on the airplane.  “In case of an emergency, airbags will drop from the ceiling above.  Please ensure you put on your own airbag before assisting others.”  We can’t always be of assistance to others until we help ourselves first.

So tonight instead of helping others, I’m taking some time to help myself.  I’m writing how I feel instead of pushing it aside while I try to help others with their feelings.  I’m spending time looking at photos, feeling sad and honouring it.  I’m taking time for me.

Below is a photo of my dad.  It’s the last photo I ever took of him.  I had flown back to Canada for Christmas 5 years ago.  It had snowed and my dad said “Come on Yolanda, let’s go out and make a snowman!”  Feeling jet legged and unused to the cold I resisted, so he went out and built one for me.

The snowman

The snowman

The Magic Pen

It's worth the wait

It’s worth the wait

It was the best birthday present she could have asked for, a seemingly magical pen from a great aunt from a rather curious shop in an old alley way in the city.  For the first time in her life she didn’t have to write in code, mixing up letters and numbers in a form of jumbled nonsense that even she had difficulties interpreting later on.

All these years she had been frustrated at the lack of privacy she had endured, with each discovery of his secrets on her pages, a pillaging invasion of her inner world unfolded, the thermometer in the room would rise a couple of degrees as anger seethed heat from his pores as she stood stark still in horror while he read each word out loud, then cornered her for more as he scrunched up the precious secrets with his calloused yellow fingers then cut up the crumpled pages with dirty scissors  and threatened the same treatment to her wrists or neck next, anything to make it stop.  A volcano, that’s what she felt like, all that hot lava swishing around inside, burning, spewing, bubbling, but she was never was the erupting type.

She knew deep down anger was not the best way to deal with things, it was not the best approach, most especially with him.  She had been taught manners, and how to be polite, like all good little girls are.  So she folded her hands together, pressed her lips tight, fought back tears, and when he had exhausted himself in his cruel attempts at extracting more, she excused herself from the room.

The words flowed from the pen, so fine, the letters entering the page as if she were writing from a pin. As the letters formed the ink turned as white as the page, the camouflaged words of a chameleon, that only she could see.

The pen flew faster and faster, the secret words had grown wings of a bluebird and moved with speed and grace across the lines in her notebook and melted into the white fluffy cloud coloured paper.  She thought of flying and becoming one with the clouds, like the angels that she heard from above, but never actually saw, and only ever on cloudy days.  She heard singing from above mixed with the gentle patter of rain, and knew that they were right, it was worth the wait.

 

I took a little blog writing vacation when I went back to Canada in May, and now that I’m settled into June, and back into my Australian routined life, my creative mind came out to play.  I decided to write this little story for a linkup at World of my Imagination blog.  The prompt is the photo above, and the words to be included in the story are: manners, pin, chameleon, thermometer, birthday.