The Carriage

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He sat on the train with the trolley sitting across his leg and on the seat beside him. So far he’d been able to avoid the judgmental eyes of the nosy older women, but he couldn’t ignore their snide remarks. At this hour of the day, they seemed to be the only passengers, so he wasn’t even able to leave the carriage for greener pastures.

“Why isn’t he at school?”

“How old is he anyway? He looks like he just started high school.”

He cast his eyes down to his knees. I’m fifteen! – he wanted to shout.

His tattered shoes stared back at him – a reminder of his current predicament. If it hadn’t been for his best friend, he wouldn’t even have clean clothes.

He heard his stop on the speakers and made his move to leave.

“Go to school!” a voice screamed from inside the carriage.

He balled his hands up around the trolley handles until the whites of his knuckles were exposed. Taking a deep breath, he exited the train and pushed back his tears. As the door closed, he stood still to watch the train speed off to its next destination.

He sniffed the moisture back before starting his descent from the platform to the street.

He wouldn’t have to walk for long; she lived right by the station. In fact, her whole apartment space shook every 20 minutes.

He stood at her door, smile spread puffing out his cheeks and revealing the dimples that she used to love. He’d prove to her today that he should be in her life.

Cries echoed from the other side of the door. The sound pierced the walls of the complex, and he wondered if any neighbors had complained yet. The baby had some lungs.

He knocked and waited and waited some more.

When the door opened, a disheveled girl stared back at him. The baby continued to scream in the crib on the other side of the room.

“Are you going to help her?” he asked, worried.

“No,” she answered. “What are you doing here?”

“I… bought you a gift,” he said. “For our daughter.”

“Your dad kicked you out. You’re homeless,” she said with no hint of concern, “How could you afford a stroller?”

“I busked,” he admitted. “Then I sold my guitar.”

“So you think this means you’re a Dad now?”

He bowed his head, “I am a Dad.”

She gave a derisive sniff, “Good for you.”

She snatched the stroller from his hands without a word of thanks and disappeared around the corner. He stood in the doorway, chatting between long silences while she ducked in and out of the room. “Maybe we can go for walks together.” “I’m almost old enough to work. I’ll get a job.” “My friends think they can get me another guitar.”

She ignored him, but when she put the baby into the carriage and grabbed the diaper bag, his spirits rose.

She pushed the carriage to the door. Laden with toys and clothes and bags, it moved slowly.

“Here, Daddy. You can have her.”

There was a wildness in her eyes – a flicker of mania.

“For the afternoon?”

“Forever. I’m done.”

She pushed the carriage out the door. He scrambled to get in front of it to stop her from falling out.

“What are you doing?” he cried.

A slammed door was his only answer.

As his daughter wailed, he looked at her. Her tiny hands, her black hair, and dark skin reminded him of his mother. She was perfect. He lifted her out of the carriage and held her head as he had seen in the movies. With water filling his eyes, he cradled his daughter.

“What now?” he sighed.


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The Tree

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Whispers and the occasional shh outside woke Charmaine from her slumber.

With a sigh, she stepped out of bed, slid on her slippers, and wrapped a robe around her tired shoulders. Wrinkled hands stared back from under the long sleeves, and Charmaine muttered under her breath.

It hadn’t always been like this. She was young once, and things had been so much better back then. There used to be a time when no one would dare trespass on her property. When did kids become so disrespectful?

The gate to her garden rattled just outside her bedroom, and she contemplated how best to punish the children. The two boys, she thought, from the squish of their shoes and the slight baritone of their voices, were becoming more brazen with every passing minute. They weren’t even trying to be quiet anymore.

The tiny thieves would learn their lesson.

Charmaine considered her options: skewered, baked, barbecued. But it all seemed like too much work now. She was no spring chicken after all, and her days of roasting children were long gone. No. She needed to teach them a lesson that all their friends would hear about. It was time they feared her again.

She threw open her balcony doors. On the garden path, just by her favorite tree, the boys stood, pockets bulging from their pilfer.

“Thieves!” Charmaine screamed.

Her voice was raspy – foil-crackled rough -, and she reminded herself to have some tea with honey later to soothe it.

The boys turned toward her, mirthful eyes changed to panic-stricken, and they began to run towards the gate.

She glared at the pair for all of a second before snapping her fingers. A puff of smoke consumed the space around them. As it faded, two toads stood where the boys had been. Clothes and gummy bears were scattered on the garden path around them.

Charmaine floated down to stand in front of them. They croaked and hopped around, unsure of how to do either. It continued until they knocked into each other and fell onto their backs. Their legs kicked and kicked, but they weren’t going anywhere.

She picked them up and walked them out onto the street.

Charmaine grumbled and thought out-loud, “I really ought to get rid of that gummy bear tree.”

“Ribbit!” they agreed.

She placed the pair on the ground and stepped away. “And stay out!” she cried.

As everyone on the street turned to look, Charmaine snapped her fingers again. The townspeople gasped as the toads transformed back into little boys, only this time minus their clothes. They both made tiny yelps, jumped, and covered their privates before running away screaming.

The crowd laughed and mocked the pair, ignoring her. She chuckled as she walked back to her manor. Maybe keeping the gummy bear tree would be a good idea, after all. That was the most fun she’d had in a while.

 

The Church – a flash

-Outside, the grey cobbles of the church belfry were lit by a faint morning sun.- (2)Moira crouched in the underbrush, sword in hand. Daylight and the horrors it brought wouldn’t stop her. If she could reach those church doors, she could end this whole thing.

Cries of the wild echoed around her, and she knew she had no time left. She sprinted  towards the church. The doors burst open as she reached them. A host of demons with a thirst for her blood rushed towards her.

Moira lifted the sword over her head and jumped to the side with a laugh, “The end.”

The last thing she saw was the rocket speeding down the path.


 

My very good writing buddy, Newshound to Novelist, has a weekly prompt pot that she hosts. It’s a lot of fun! All you have to do is write 100-words towards a prompt (usually a single word, but this week was the above quote), and link to the original post she wrote. 

Mercy Grove

I’m participating in the 13-Week Streak by Eilidh from Thain in Vain and Charlotte of Drafty Devil. I wrote this last week, but I’ve had some trouble with my dog in the past week and never got around to posting. Here’s my 2nd week entry for this awesome little event!


IMG_20170522_054502The fog was so dense this morning that Claire struggled to see. She looked back and considering the distance back to the campsite. It was an hour either way now. No point in going back.

A power transformer buzzed like an angry swarm of bugs. When did my music stop playing?

She pulled her phone out of her sleeve case and examined it. Smashed. From top to bottom. What the hell?

A light above her flickered, and for a moment she thought she could see a dark and wet streams across her arms and hands, but the moment passed.

Claire rounded the corner. The sound of a distant squeal of wheels sent a jar through her muscles.

 

“Why train so bloody early?” her sister had asked her yesterday – today?

“The marathon’s next month. I’m trying to get used to long distances,” Claire answered.

“But, really! Three in the morning? You’re insane.”

“All marathon runners are,” Claire laughed.

 

The echo of hard footsteps broke her revelry.

Claire turned around.

“Hello?” she called.

A scream from far away resounded back.

She shuddered. Just ignore it. It’s probably just a couple of pranksters.

Claire knew this path well. She had consulted many a map before she came here, making sure it would be well-lit and had little access to the main road. So when she found herself at fork and a sign with the words “Mercy Grove” painted on it, Claire was a bit surprised. She had never seen it on any map. The small cobbled footpath was surrounded on both sides by tall hedges. She glanced inside; the mist was all but gone here.

The smell of snicker-doodles and fresh-mowed grass permeated through the air. Claire was reminded of her grandmother’s house, before she passed.

She through the shrubs.

“He must have been drunk,” she heard someone whisper.

She scowled and turned.

A pair of headlights pushed through the bushes. Claire covered her eyes and braced herself.

The cacophony of squealing wheels, screams, the shattering of glass, and sirens rang across the garden. Claire’s muscles jerked; a single tear ran down her face.

“Let me at ‘im!” she thought she heard her sister scream.

She blinked. Nothing was there. The cobbled path was unblemished, but a shadow raced towards her.

With a shriek, Claire ran the opposite direction.

“Come into the light,” she heard a familiar voice whisper.

A brilliance beamed onto the path, and Claire saw a golden staircase. With a yell, she leapt at it. The shadow grabbed her foot and tried to drag her back, but she landed squarely on the stairs and held on, screaming.

The light glowed brighter until the pressure on her foot receded. With a guttural yell, the shadow faded away.

A soft, wrinkled hand touched her own and helped her up.

“Grandmother?” Claire said, blinking.

“You needn’t run ever again,” her grandmother whispered as they embraced.

Claire smiled. They walked up the golden staircase to the clouds, leaving the troubles of the earth (and the living) below.

 

The Hills

Today’s piece is brought to you by, Donna-Louise Bishop over at Newshound to Novelist. She is doing a weekly writing prompt challenge in which she provides a single word and challenges everyone to write a complete story in only 100 words. This week’s prompt is “Hills” and here is my take on that prompt.

*****

Lora intoned a sweet sigh as her eyes drifted to the window beside her bed. Buildings and houses covered the landscape. She frowned and watched a girl getting the water pitcher.

“There used to be nothing but hills there once,” Lora said.

The girl gave her a knowing smile.

“What was your name again?”

“Sarah, Mum. It’s Sarah,” the girl answered as sadness filled her eyes.

“Right, Sarah. I knew that,” she turned back to the window, “There was a giant apple tree on the top of one.”

Sarah dipped her head and whispered, “I know. You met Dad there.”