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.

X

Blood red lamp

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Over the front door, the lamp caught the blood red light of the sunset. Strings of ivy trailing around it. Outside a gate heavily covered in it. Swathes of creeping vines hiding the steps.

Only one man came through the gate. The count, the noble man, Dracula.

It was time for his nightly wandering, the lust for blood strengthened his old bones.

New years eve, 2019. Time for sustenance, time for the deep red drink, and the thrill of the chase. Soon he would have his fill.

The leaves of the ivy rustled as he passed through the gate. The churchyard beyond was quiet except for a late dogwalker. The dog would arrive home later. Alone.

And so it grows dark again.

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It’s getting dark again, and all around the house figures are appearing from the trees. Looking in through the windows, clamouring to enter.

Semi transparent, glimmering in the setting sunlight. They have been there since winter began. I think they are spirits. They hold me in. I’m trapped at night until the sun rises again. Fifteen hours, unless the day is overcast and then they arrive earlier and leave later.

If I run out of milk I drink water, if I run out of fresh food I have saved rice and beans. I will not risk going out. The car is parked far away and I’m too nervous to run to it.

Lately as the dark has deepened the creatures have been more determined. I’m hoping as the sun comes back, as it sets later and rises earlier, I will be freed. But now, drat it, the change creeps across the sky. The creatures must know it. Only seconds difference.

Last night they rattled the back door. This morning I found the cat flap open and the key on the floor. It was too far away to be reached where it had fallen. Today I’m hiding the key and putting things behind the door to reinforce it. But that means walking through the kitchen, and sometimes, sometimes, I see them watching me.

Nature

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Walking through the snow she came across some peculiar shaped trees, each one in flower with cherry blossom. In mid winter?! Was that a face? How could this be, what spirit of nature could have created this?

The trees seemed to breathe mist into the cold, crisp air. The frost turning it to tiny ice crystals. Sound reverberated from the mist. A whisper but so loud it shook her body.

“I AM SPRING”….

Life is here, waiting in the ground, waiting for water.. Now you are here this will be your place. You will not leave, you will nurture us with your body.

She realised she could not move, she could feel her feet lengthening, pushing into the soil, her arms were rising in supplication. Twisting and growing longer. Her eyes became knots in the wood, her body a trunk. No she would never leave here….. And she silently screamed as she transformed.

Trust me

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She woke to a bright light shining overhead, blue curtains round a metal bed. The smell of disinfectant in her nostrils. Why was she here? She looked at her leg, a metal cast was round it. Bolts stuck put at the top and bottom near her knee and ankle. She realised she had a cannula in her arm. What else? No visible windows, just the all pervading glow of light. No sound of anyone moving, no drink on a cupboard next the the bed. She felt thirsty, hungry even, no idea what time it was.

She looked round for a push button or a pull cord to get attention, nothing. She called out ‘Hello? Can someone help?’

Silence… She felt tired and fell asleep. Later, she didn’t know how long, she woke again, strangely no longer hungry or thirsty. The cannula was attached to a big bag of pale blue fluid. She looked at her leg. Now it was wrapped in a plastic bandage, the splint or cast was gone? How, she didn’t remember time passing. She heard a sound, a human shape pushed through the soft blue curtains. She flinched as she saw the metallic face.

‘Trust me, I’m a Robot’ it said.

Moonshine and Showers

Four am, the brightness of the moon illuminated our kitchen, little sparks of light twinkled in the rain drops on the window. Suddenly the room dropped into darkness as a thick cloud passed across the moon.

You OK? A voice from upstairs.

Yes, I called back. Just the moon.

It’s dark now, come back to bed, it’s cold, you need your rest.

As I walked into the living room a shaft of moonlight cut through the dark.

Noooo….. I could see my hand changing again, my jaw stretching, my fangs reappearing….

I opened the back door.. It would be a long night…..