Sparks flew up into the night, blooming like a flower as he threw her old books onto the bonfire. He thought back over the last few hours. Finding her asleep on the bed, the sun slanting through the curtains. He’d left her to rest.
She’d come into the kitchen for coffee but barely noticed him. Just muttering fine when he asked he if she was OK.
She put the radio on, one of those inane poppy channels he hated. Started a little jigging dance. She seemed happier now, so he asked again how she was? OK she responded. Then she looked at him, a long stare. Who was that woman you were with last night? she said.
He knew he would have to answer. But not now, not yet. He hadn’t decided what to do.
Cat got your tongue she said?
Now it was night, the books were making sparks. He threw her record collection onto the bonfire.
She always asked too many questions he thought as he walked back into the house.
Her face seemed chiselled and angular, it was pale and smooth. The one blemish was a small mole just below the left side of her mouth. Icy, that’s what he thought, like an ice sculpture. Her manner was friendly though, a slight smile played around her mouth as they chatted. He was attracted to her and decided to ask her to go for a drink.
At the bar he asked her what she wanted? Vodka and tonic was her reply, no ice.
They sat and drank and chatted, he felt closer to her than anyone else he’d ever met. He held her hand and she smiled that quiet smile again.
Look I’ll give you a lift home he said. No problem, it’s on my way. She readily agreed.
As they pulled up outside her house he leaned towards her, a little peck on her cheek, it felt cold under his lips. He looked into her tranquil blue eyes. She took his face in her hands, directing her mouth towards him, pulling his face down, inwards. He felt the cold now, sharp, icy, his mouth was numb. The chill spread across his face, his head. Despite the heat he was freezing, shivering. The kiss continued until his eyes glazed over and he slumped forward.
Sorry hun, she said.
He sits quietly in a laurel bush, watching, seeing who enters the garden. The stone gargoyle. Winged, large ears turned to listen. How did he get there? Did he climb or fly? How does he stay there, no nails or glue support him. Does he protect or reject visitors to His garden? Stone carved and muscular. Is he hiding from gargoyle hunters, who stalk the suburbs and smash his unsuspecting siblings?
What are you, fiend from a nightmare or friend from a mediaeval church? Like an escaped pigeon, sitting in the laurel bush, waiting for his lost love.
He was always two faced she said. He does one thing and says the opposite. When he said he was going to cut down the tree I knew he wouldn’t.
Yes, said her friend, he tells you things that can’t be true. I don’t know why he does it.
The two women continued chatting while the man they were talking about stood in the shadows of the trees and listened. He knew they were right, but they had never asked why.
He had been ill for years, not visibly, but inside, the kind of thing that you didn’t talk about. A depression that had encompassed his whole adult life.
He felt compelled to cut down the tree now. He’d said he would but the birds were nesting. He was going to wait for a few weeks till they had flown the nest. But the women’s words had stung him.
He was found the next morning under a limb of the tree. Crushed and battered. No one went to his funeral, except one middle aged woman. She remembered their life together when they were young. She stood and walked away as the coffin disappeared behind the crematorium curtains. His tale would never now be told, she thought.
The lake looked inviting, the sun was breaking through the clouds and the water was still. Gentle ripples from the slight breeze disturbed the surface.
No one else was around. She had been sitting on the sun terrace and had fallen asleep in the hot sun. Now she was awake and hot. A paddle in the water would be nice and cooling. There was a sloping beach at one end of the lake. She put on her sandles and walked round the edge of the lake.
Walking over pebbles the water rose round her ankles then her knees. Blissful cool water lapped around her.
She stood quietly for a while then started to splash the water up to cool her face, arms and body. It felt so good that she slipped down into the water. Kicking off her sandles she started a slow breast stroke out towards a wooded island a few meters off in the distance. She knew there was a bench in the shade there. Her thin skirt billowed out behind her and she felt relaxed and like she was floating in space.
Then it happened. The skirt snagged on something, weeds? She was a strong swimmer and didn’t think it was a problem. She swung round to pull at her skirt. A hand grasped her wrist and she felt herself being pulled down…..
You daft ‘aipath! What you doin’ collectin’ stones in yer at?
I wanted em fer th’garden. Twill make a nice dressin’ ont top of the pots.
Yer an owd idiot Mon! Yer ed’s full o’ gravel dust now don’t yer know?
Yer ed’ must be rattlin’ like an old stone path being walked on, yer numpty.
Oo you callin’ a numpty? If tha’dud na like me, why dids’t tha marry me?
Becowse I luved yer. An thays the truth o’it.
Trying to write in some sort of dialect. Apologies for it.
In the forest it was gloomy, rain had been falling all day, and a grey swirling cap of clouds seemed to sit just above the treetops.
As she walked into the clearing she looked up. No sign of sunshine. It was almost as dark there as under the trees. At least there was a pool which looked clear. She had got a camping stove and would soon be able to make a hot drink. This then would be her camping spot for the night. Only another 20 miles to her destination.
Then as she prepared her evening meal, the clouds started to part and light streamed into the glade.
The light seemed to trigger movement. All around her the ground seemed to lift up into humps which turned into writhing figures in human form. They had been held down by green tendrils of leaves. The green men. An ancient myth. She screamed as she realised they were surrounding her, mirroring the surrounding trees. Tendrils reaching out and pinning her to the ground. She had realised too late that they were carnivorous plants.