Friday, 18 July 2008

The Old House

He came upon the old house at the edge of the wood.
The many paths through Birn Woods seemed to twist and split at junctions such that it seemed impossible to make the same journey twice.
David had never managed to find the house, nor even heard of it before. Yet, here it stood right before him. Ramshackle but firm, its windows long since lost to well-placed stones thrown by boys much younger than he; its curtains still tugging and torn.
For a moment he just stood at the edge of the brambles and nettles, growing a natural defence for the property. Stood and wondered. Then he strove through, his jeans coping with the needles and stings of the plants, until he reached man-made defences, a metal fence.
He stopped here and listened. The breeze was silent through the floors of the old house, though the curtains still moved in each corner of his vision, causing him to glance quickly from side to side as if a human shape had moved by one of the open windows.
He stepped carefully over loose stones and thick weeds gathered at the perimeter of the house. He eyed the fence for a weakpoint, grabbed and shook it to see if it would easily come down.
A curtain flickered again out through the broken main window of the second floor and his eyes flicked up towards it. A woman was standing there, watching him.
David froze, his hands resting where they lay, upon the metal of the fence. The woman had one arm folded across her waist and the other stroking her chin. She was a pretty, middle-aged woman and she eyed him with a cool smile.
Her dress was plain and as drab as the curtains, but she leaned coquettishly against the window frame and seemed to invite David onwards with her posture and intense gaze.
He was fighting twin urges; one to vault the fence he was gripping so tightly, and the other to turn and run back into the woods.
One urge won, and he felt his legs slipping and flailing, trying to clamber up over the fence. The woman above smiled still, unmoving, not breaking her gaze.
David caught a foothold in a small hole in the metal lattice and moved to lever himself up over the fence. His jeans snagged then and his foot wouldn't release from the hole in the fence. He fell backwards, crashing into patches of dirt and sparse grasses, badly turning his ankle and shouting out in pain.
And then, the face at the window was gone. He scanned others for her and thought he caught sight of her dress flowing past one. Scrambling to his feet, he turned and limped with gritted teeth back into the woods.
He soon found the path and then the duck pond beyond, and the children laughing, and the ice-creams melting, and the parents watching, and David felt safe again.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Evening flies

Every summer’s evening I take my sister Suzanne out into the garden after tea. Suzy is six and she has to be in bed by eight. In summer, this is before the sun sets.
We wander across the sprawling lawn, kicking a ball to one another, before heading on into the small meadow at the rear.
Wild and exciting, this is Suzy’s favourite part of the garden. On Sundays she often pretends to be a big cat, and I, the hunter, on safari. She’ll crawl around in the long grasses and I try to catch a glimpse of her and catch her with a long fishing net, before she has the chance to sneak up on me and pounce!
This evening the sky is clear and the low sun in the sky bathes the landscape in a thin red coating, like a sprinkling of Saharan sand upon every object. Even the flies.
They cling together in a lingering patch of sunlight, as if hung between branches; a fizzing nipping cloud.
Last year, in Scotland, the midgies (as they are called there) were so prevalent that I was forced behind doors by eight o’clock, for fear of losing a pint or so of blood! I find them repellent, a blight on summer evenings.
Suzy however, stands there, transfixed. She watches their dance, backlit by the falling sun. She comes here just to watch them.
She thinks they’re fairies.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

The Flood

Peter said it was the end of the world.
Silly old duffer, I told him it was just a flood. He says, 'we don’t get floods in the north-west. Let the south worry about their floods and we’ll worry about our work'.
After lunch I decided I’d take Peter to see the flood. I was interested to see how far inland the river had flowed, and Peter needed to get some fresh air.
Peter nattered away about the cheap supermarket-own brand of cereal I’d started buying for him. Why couldn’t we have Kellogg’s, like we used to? I told him, those Bran Crunches are very tasty and nearly half the price of the Kellogg’s and, as I did the shopping, I was choosing the cereal.
He sulked and scrunched down in his chair, saying nothing as I pushed him along. In my head, I resolved to buy him some proper cereal the next time I visited the supermarket.
When we reached the common we were both surprised to see the water lapping the playing fields. Ducks were dabbling where well-tended flowerbeds used to be and Peter could see his reflection in the water, from the edge of the path.
He looked there, without flinching for many minutes. I finally spoke and said it was time to get going before the shops closed. I noticed then that Peter was crying.
I didn’t know what to say, I felt terrible. It turned out, though, that Peter was crying because he’d lost his first wife to drowning and he was overawed by the memories and the slow creep of all this water.
But I just thought he was sad because he could no longer buy his own cereal, so I took him straight across to Asda and got him a box of whatever he wanted.
He chose Rice Krispies.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

The Covered Isle

Between nightmares and waking dreams lies my memory of Recuva, The Covered Isle.
Sailing on through miles of mind, I can return there in certain light, as the sun begins to droop on a summer’s day.
Yes, we’re drinking port on the deck when the clouds all billow in. The warm sea breeze darkens and the dolphins, that have been marking our journey with splashes and foam, are gone; replaced by petrels and terns, skuas and gannets.
A member of the crew - we called ‘Saint John’ - stands next to me. ‘The seabirds’, he says, ‘mean land is nearby’.
He suggests to the captain we follow the birds to wherever they are heading, in case this sudden squall blows into Neptune’s fury.
The weak captain acquiesces. He is already soft with gin. We barrel over choppier waters and the island rolls into view. Thick and shadowed by heavy hanging cloud, Recuva broods before us.
Everything about it screams death to us. It is jagged, foreboding black, with sootier waters and no kind bays or inlets to welcome the traveller.
Every inch of my flesh tingles as I gaze on its peaks, rising like shark fins from the ancient waters. I think we all want to turn away, our eyes, our bodies, our craft; but we continue, sucked onwards towards the hungry maw of Recuva.
Later that evening we moored off hell, and in my daydreams I can still hear the sickening laughter, the crackle of flames and the scent of flesh cooking.
When we fled, I never looked back.

Monday, 14 July 2008

The Waterfall

He came to the waterfall early on a summer’s morning. Rainclouds dulled the sky and water trickled down the rocks like spilt milk.
Somewhere, above him, a torrent was building and he could hear it roaring in his head. He looked up slowly as the cracks started to sound.
It was as if the very cliff face were being torn asunder by old gods, awaking from untimely slumber.
And then sharp sheets of lightning flickered with the booming rolling waves of the thunder, and Samuel knew the rain would come soon.
He held up his hands, rubbing them in ecstatic delight, before: one, two, seven, fifteen drops of rain dripped onto his dry hands and Samuel knew the land would know life again.
Soon the drops teemed in their thousands, teemed like so many tiny hatchlings sprawling upon the stones, the grass, the pool. Even the trees and the vertical cliffs tasted it; the rare flavour of vitality.
Samuel dropped down onto the rocks before him and began to feel the water pooling about his knees. He cried and screamed many thank-yous to the sky and the thunder answered him with a deep groan.
The water danced down and the waterfall gushed to life and the trees seemed to start to grow and turn green again.
And so Samuel took a stone to his head at the foot of the waterfall, sacrificing himself as is the want of the thunder and of the water and of the green of life.

Welcome travellers...

Welcome to my Daily Postcard.

Moving on from the Daily Tale concept is this new idea of mine. There will be a photograph that I've taken and a short piece of related writing inspired by the image.

It will hopefully be a good way of keeping the writing fresh and interesting, plus it's something a bit different for the browsers and surfers who like to come by and visit.

Let me know what you think.