I was passing an antique shop one day when I saw the face of a woman looking back at me from an old cracked and crazed mirror. It’s bronze frame was chipped and pitted with age. The face looked like an old master painting, like a Jacobean lady, with a powdered wig and pale face.
I didn’t know how it was happening but I was drawn inside and paid far too much for it. Minutes later I was walking down the road with a brown paper package under my arm.
What’s in the box? She asked. I couldn’t say he replied. It just arrived in the post.
They sat and drank coffee.
Open it? She said. No wait till Chrismas he replied.
That was three days ago. Now it was Christmas morning. Let’s open it now, she said? After lunch, he said.
Each time they put it off, the tiny Christmas elf in the box got weaker, hungrier, angrier. It had been posted to bestow three wishes. Now it had decided the wishes granted would be its own. It would start by attacking whoever opened the box.
It looked like a massive nest or a basket. Clearly woven, held together with branches not twigs. Something horrendous lived there. Something that could think, could weave, could create a threat in the vision of tangled trees.
She tried to dispelling her fears, to get freedom back. But as she looked on, two huge spikes shot up into the air and the massive bulk of a head loomed into the sky. She knew she had lost when the gold green eyes sparkled as they opened. The beast was awake!
Misty and overcast, branches and twigs reach out like witches fingers. Darkening mist twists and turns. Hidden eyes watch as the gloom deepens. Footsteps trail through the bracken. Water lies in droplets across the dead and dying wood.
She had seen light from the footpath. A cottage.. A campfire? What was there. Goaded by her imagination she stepped off the path. Feet tangling in blackberries and vines. She stumbled and the branches reached down….
There’s definitely something odd about this watch, she said to her friend. I ordered it over the Internet and it arrived today. I needed a new one and this was cheap and cheerful……. She couldn’t explain what was making her uneasy. Is it keeping time? Her friend said, and she replied, yes, it seems to be fine.
She went home after her shift and changed into her pajamas. Put the watch on the bedside cabinet… Tick tock… Tick tock.. Tick tock … She woke in the middle of the night and realised what she had subconsciously been hearing all day…
Tick-tock, the watch was saying the words, not actually ticking or tocking !
At 3am on Halloween morning he awoke to see a figure by the bed. Still, silent, watching him. He blinked and it was gone. But it’s memory stuck in his mind. A grey haired tall woman. Middle aged, quite slender. He sat up and looked all round the room, but the only noise was the tick of the clock and the hum of the central heating. There was no place to hide in the small single bedroom. Not even any curtains to hide behind, with a telltale shoe sticking out. He doubted anyone could squeeze behind venetian blinds…..
Eventually sleep dragged him down into its arms again. Then when he was settled, the figure pushed through the wall and back next to him again. Eyes staring, never blinking, a look of sadness on her face. Never knowing her grandson till now. Knowing it was his last night on earth. One minute here… Tick… The next.. Gone.
After reading the cycling magazine the cat fell into a deep sleep. As I watched him his back legs started to kick and wheel, like he was pushing pedals, hard. In his dreams he was riding a small bike, resting his forepaws on softly covered handle bars. Cycling up and down the rooves, down into guttering, splashing along, kicking leaves down to the ground. Now he’s going for a wheelie, front wheel pulled up. Leaping the gap between two houses, tail flying like a flag. Eventually, after half an hour of chasing his tail on the bike, round and round in rattling circles, he falls gently into a quiet sleep but remembering his ‘mad cat’ adventures.
‘Hello, I’m ringing because I believe you were recently involved in a traffic accident that was not your fault?’
Me ‘oh yes, twenty years or so ago..’
Me ‘oh yes, that time the icecream van hit my car.I gave him a freezing look!’ or when the trapeze artist hit us, I said ‘I could swing for you!’ ‘Or maybe the time I got hit in the rear by a tractor? He ploughed right into us,’
Actually all the caller said was ‘Goodbye’ so sadly I didn’t get a chance to try out my bad sense of humour on her!
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.
I looked over at the sofa and saw, my bag was staring at me, its stone eyes glaring? I knew there were sharp talons underneath. Any moment it could fly up and attack me. And yet it was my favourite bag? What could I do, I couldn’t look away, I did not dare sleep. I would have to watch it until dawn. Until I would be safe.
The owl hooted in my mind, a mournful call, a gentle sound, my head nodded, sleep was coming. I shook myself to wake up. The owl glared. I was trapped.