Sleep

Eyes open, staring at the ceiling, or eyes closed and flashes and patterns inside my eyelids. Curling tight in a ball, shivering with cold. Why did I turn the heating off? Pulling the duvet over my head, hoping the warmth of my breath will bring feeling back to my hands. Its only October but the temperature has dropped. So many nights without proper sleep. Pain and worries mingle, darkness does not enfold me in its arms, but instead picks on my mind. It hurts me, darkness extends into the future. Dawn arrives later every morning. Enveloping me in misery. Stay up, keep the lights on. Speed the night through watching TV.

Only days till Halloween, what is waiting for me? Noise outside again. Is there anyone there? If I could sleep I would be oblivious to it. Oh what can I do?

Spooky cat eyes.

She gave me the metal cat as a present, it was sweet of her, but I could not get over the staring eyes. Googly eyes. Glass eyes. It was like the cat had no eyelids.

I put my ‘present’ on the windowledge in the kitchen. As the nights drew in the cat was more noticeable. The eyes, staring. I would try and look the other way as I walked past it to the back door or the bathroom, and on my return I would look at the cooker or the fridge just to avoid its eyes. Her eyes, definitely female, feline eyes.

It was a few months later, September or October, when the nights began to last longer than the days. I looked over at her, but she was facing the other way? Looking out of the window? I asked my husband, no he hadn’t moved her. I asked him to put her back facing inwards. She’s heavy so he did it for me. But, the next night, the same thing. We moved her back… This was the same every night for a week. It kept happening.

The next night I looked and she wasn’t there. I looked around, she was by the cat flap! This was mad. Either my husband was doing it, or the cat had some sort of magical power? I was getting scared it was very strange. I wanted to tell someone, but my husband said if I told the police, or friends, they would think I was going daft.

Every time I put the cat back it moved overnight. So what else could I do? I stayed up after my husband had gone to bed. I looked in the kitchen, and as I did, the cat stretched, front legs, then back legs, arched it’s back, tail straight up…. And jumped… Jumped off the ledge, onto the kitchen counter and onto the floor! It looked back with those eyes…. I was mesmerised. It walked to the back door and I followed. It pawed at the door. What could I do? I opened it. As I did, ghostly black cat shapes poured in! All of them with staring eyes. I knew then I wasn’t safe….

Roses round the door.

When I bought the house I noticed a small rose bush. I thought nothing more of it. Then I moved in and everything was lovely. At least at first.

As time passed the garden grew, I tried to look after it, but it just kept growing. The roses were beautiful, white, perfumed. But it kept growing, entwined in the fence, creeping over the path.

But inside the house I felt safe. It was warm and comfortable, the colours were muted, pastels, old soft furnishings, blankets, a happy place.

Then one morning, I tried opening the double front door, the handle would not move, something was wrapped around it? I looked out of the window, sideways, I saw it. The rose had grown round the door handle, as I watched leaves sprouted and perfect white flowers appeared. The house was happy, the rose was happy. But me? Not so much.

Cloud bird?

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It was high up in the sky, a cloud shaped like a bird? No shaped like a white dove. A dove of peace.

All around the world people looked up and saw it. The symbol of peace.

We saw it one evening, then again the next day. It was happening everywhere. People were posting images on the Web. On visage journal and quick telegraph!

The government’s didn’t like it. They asked their troops and scientists to investigate. Look at the occurrences. Telescopes were trained on each cloud. Radar and radio telescopes. No sign of a reason. It was a mystery.

A week after it started it ended. People saw Elephants and crocodiles in the clouds, turtles and Teddy bears. But no mote of dust or speck of mist became a dove of peace. People started to miss them. Fights broke out between neighbours, children cried. The world had lost magic. Sadness flew round the world. Maybe one day there woukd be an answer.

His eyes

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He was staring across the restaurant. A hard stare. Eyes wide, looking directly at the woman three tables away. She had not seen him as she was sitting side on to him, but her partner caught the look. Who’s the jerk over there? He said to her. I don’t know, she said, glancing across. The man was still staring and she felt uncomfortable under his gaze.

The couple had their meal in silence. Neither knowing what to say to the other. And both of them kept checking what the wide eyed man was doing. He in turn was drinking a beer, then another one..

I’m going over said the woman’s partner. She grabbed his hand, please don’t, she said. We don’t know who he is but he’s big, he could hurt you! She glanced worriedly at the man.

Then she realised he had signalled the waitress for the bill. He might come over and say something, she said as the man paid for his food. Ignore him said her partner. But she couldn’t, who was he. Did he mean to say or do something?

The man stood up, picked up and put on some sunglasses. Come on Jess he said. His Guide Dog stood up from under the table where she had been sitting, her harness jingling. Home Jess, he said, and the dog led him out of the door.

A tail….

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Last week she had ended up halfway up a tree, and this is the story of how it happened.

She had woken feeling tired and the base of her spine was sore. Like she had sat down hard, or fallen over and bruised herself. They had been to a party, got ‘slightly’ tipsy, and come home. The rest was hazy. Something about Halloween, and trick or treating, and What was that all about? Then each of them had drunk from a cauldron, yes that was it, sip a drink from the cauldron of fate and see what happened? Except that she had knocked back the whole glass full. Then she had felt really squiffy, fallen over, yes, and hurt her spine. Ow.

Now it was the morning after, and she felt awful. A proper hangover. But it was time for work now, better get ready.

It was when she was showering that she felt a lump down at the base of her spine. She rang the doctor for an appointment. She was scared it was a tumour?

Two days later at the surgery, she was told it was some sort of bony growth, but the surface was covered in skin, and it was not any form of cancer the GP had ever seen. She had told her that they would probably need a biopsy, but that would take a few weeks to arrange.

She had gone home, wondering what the hell was going on. The ‘thing’ was growing at a fast rate, she couldn’t face calling it a tail. She realised she had control of it, like a prehensile tail of a monkey? Why?

The tail continued to grow. She had to wrap it round her waist to hide it under her clothes.

It was after about three weeks that she made the mistake of telling her friend. He laughed, serves you right, he said. You upset the witch! He said. Drank the cauldron dry. He laughed again. Wait till I tell the others. She must have cursed you.

The next day they came knocking at her door, ‘ let us in’ , ‘ show us your tail’ ‘you’ve been cursed’. Things were getting out of hand. She ran upstairs and opened her bedroom window. The group were hounding her now.

Suddenly she jumped. She was falling…. Then the tail snapped out around the branch, holding her weight, she swung back up to onto her feet. Using her tail for balance she clambered and swung into the trees. It had saved her life. Perhaps it wasn’t such a bad thing after all…..

Where have you been?

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Through the door into the dark shadows, light shining through dusty windows, shafts of sunlight with dust motes dancing through the beams. We were exploring, looking at the racks of plaster molds, stacked high on racks, above head height. Hundreds of them, all shapes and sizes. For slip casting pottery.

In the back of the store room something stirred. A figure unfolding, grey with dust. Semi transparent, like a ghost? We saw it as it lurched to its feet and grasped at the racks of saggars. It spoke. ‘you don’t belong here’ it shouted ‘get out’, and we did! We turned tail and ran, through the door, through the yard and away. We won’t be going back there again!

Be my Valentine?

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I was talking to a friend earlier about her valentine experiences and  remembered an incident from about thirty years ago…

It was a cold, clear Valentines day morning. I’d got up to go to work, and as I stepped outside I found a red rose on my doorstep. It wasn’t wrapped in cellophane or paper. It was a long stemmed rose. Deep scarlet. Beautiful, slightly starting to wilt. I looked up and down the street, no one around. We were in a terraced house, so the door opened down a step straight onto the pavement. Anyone could have left it there.

I went inside and asked my then boyfriend, later to be hubby, if he had put it on the step. But he said no. I quizzed him, but no it was not him. To be honest it wasn’t his style, he rarely knows when it’s valentines day and usually only gets me a card if I get him one. He was as surprised as I was but said I should take it as a compliment!

So I had this beautiful rose. I cut the stem at an angle and it in a pint glass while I went out to do my shift at work.

But I couldn’t concentrate. All morning I thought about who could have left it? It might have been a neighbour. It might have been a friend, but I had no idea that anyone had romantic thoughts about me. My inner Miss Marple told me that it couldn’t have been there long and that it must have been bought from the nearby florists as no roses were in flower at that time of year. There are roses growing on the factory opposite our house, but they were bare stems.

Who? That was my thought. Whoever it was must have known I was in a long term relationship? Why? Did they think I was looking for someone new? The answer to that was no….

Eventually I decided that the rose must have been for someone else. Perhaps the anonymous person had mistaken my doorstep for someone else’s?

I will never know. It never happened again. The next year I felt disappointed. Since then I have rarely remembered it. Only today’s chat reawakened the memory for me.

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