Maria’s Stuff: Life is stranger than Fiction Part two

This story might be familiar to some of you already.

 

Amadeo's house

Niall’s legs felt like lead as he walked the short distance to collect his car which he had left parked at the house his sister was minding. Two days of work with only travel time between jobs left him feeling as grey as the sky overhead.

Lost in this hazy greyness he failed to notice the tiny woman until she spoke to him. “Good afternoon.” Her soft voice had an authoritative air to it which made him stop before her.

He noted her pastel pink coat, soft nude coloured shoes and pink hat thinking, she is dressed like the Queen of England. Niall noted the package she carried was square, wrapped in a crimson glossy paper and sitting on top of it a perfectly formed golden bow. He looked around him and couldn’t see how she had arrived at this old house on the top of the hill. He wondered if she was an angel.

“I’ve been invited to tea.” Her crisp words brought a smile to his face.

Niall opened the gate and she, to his surprise, walked through. He followed and they walked towards his car.

“You must work here. Are you the gardener?” She stared at him closely. “I have come to have tea with Lady Louise.”

He wondered in what parallel universe did gardeners wear nifty suits and white shirts. But she reminded him of his grandmother, whom he missed, so he made no caustic comment.

“No, I don’t work here. I left my car with my sister who is minding the house while the owner is away and I have come to collect it. I don’t think there is anyone here.” He waited for her to digest this information.

“So I am at the wrong house. I should try the other big house on the far side.” She said with a nod which sent a ripple waving across her silver hair.

He opened the passenger door intending to leave his jacket on the seat when, to his astonishment she neatly slipped into the seat.

Her blue eyes flashed at him as she said, “That is good you have your car. It won’t take a minute.”

Niall smiled while inside he groaned. He had thirty minutes to get to Dublin for his last appointment, then it would be home for food and sleep. He opened his mouth then thought better of speaking. He shut the door carefully and got into the driver’s seat.

The house in question was a mere four hundred yards away. He drove slower than normal and arrived before the large electronic entrance gate.

“It’s shut.” His passenger said. “I’ll wait.”

Lucky for all concerned the gate opened and he drove through, straight to the front door.

Then without thinking he got out, raced around to the passenger door, opened it and when she alighted Niall gave a slight nod.

With a nod in his direction she sailed sweetly past him carrying her gift.

Niall didn’t linger. Tiredness evaporated as he got back into his seat, gunned the engine and got out of there before he was snared again. “I am not up to dealing with a double dose of silver-haired trouble today.” He said with a sigh of relief as he noted his passenger had gone inside.

****************************

I was reminded of this tale last week.

It was late, I was late.  And worse the automatic gate was playing up. The reason why became apparent when I stopped outside the gate and rolled down the passenger window. A ladies voice wafted in to me “Ah good I thought I was late.”

I frowned wondering if I, yet again, had got my wires crossed. I didn’t remember volunteering to drive an elderly lady anywhere.

So I leant across the seat and peered out the window. No, I didn’t volunteer to drive a stranger anywhere, especially to a committee meeting,  which I guessed was her destination judging from the clipboard and file she carried.

She was talking at a rapid pace. I remembered NIall’s encounter and wondered should I shut my window, lock my doors but her next words caught my attention, “It is kind of you Maureen to offer me a lift.”

“I am sorry I am Maria,  not Maureen. Are you sure you have the right house?”

She looked at me blankly then grimaced. “You are not Maureen”

I overlooked the disdainful look she shot my way. I smiled and agreed.

She didn’t look happy at all. “Where is Maureen?”

“One house over,” I said , thankfully at this point the gates clanged shut and I put my foot to the accelerator and left her to toddle into the house next door.

Like mother like son, I decided.

 

 

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The Tattoo

 

I’m staring at my arm. I blink. Blink again, in the hope that I will wake up. I have to be dreaming. The painful, carefully drawn dragon that I paid good hard earned cash for some days ago, has vanished.

It began this morning. While showering, I noticed that the ink was fading.
I attempted to reason the hows and whys of this happening. Had I been conned? Money exchanged for a simple cheap tacky job. But no, I couldn’t call it either tacky or cheap and it hurt.

The tattoo was to mark the turning point in my life. I was free from him. My husband. This was to be the start of my new life and to mark it I went out and did something incredibly stupid. I got a tattoo. I had always said tattoo’s were pointless and not for those over thirty. But here I was at thirty eight complete with tattoo.

Except for one small puzzling fact. It was disappearing.

dragon

Dragon by Sara M.

I decided to return to the scene of the crime – the tattoo shop. It was small, crowded and busy.

A fact not to be ignored given that thousands of us (Irish people) rant and rave about taxes and the loss of income, many of us compound our misery by acquiring a tattoo.

Anyway, the door bell jangles as I enter. He looks up. Squints, at me, which should have been off putting given his employment asks for keen eyesight.  He scowls, then flicks the cigarette butt into a can sitting on a shelf and grunts. The current victim sitting in the chair is young, pale faced and clutching a tin of alcohol. I grimace, turn from him and face my problem.
“Lo.” He grudgingly acknowledges my presence and waves his implement of torture at me.
“I….” Clearing my throat I start again. “We have a problem. The tattoo you gave me is disappearing.”
He smiles. This is not a pleasant smile. It is a horrific metal smile. Cool and ugly.
“I want whatever you are on.” His throaty reply brings a squeak from the boy in the chair.
“Can I have some? Does it make the pain go away?”
I ignore the artists latest victim and focus on my problem.

I stare at him but he is staring at my arm. I l discover, that once again, I have a tattoo of a dragon on my arm.
“I think you should go for a sleep and relax. It looks like a nice clean job, swelling has already vanished. You will be fine.” He dismiss’ me and turns away.
I am staring at the dragon and feel the blood drain from my face. ” It’s back.” I whisper ignoring the giggling of the other occupants. I leave as quietly as I can.
However two minutes later, cutting through the park, I glance down. No tattoo. This is madness. I head for a park bench.
“I must be crazy.”
“You are not but I wouldn’t class you as being un-crazy either.” The voice is pleasant, elderly but pleasant. I look around and see nothing. Not even a cat lazing in the bushes or a bird tweeting in a tree.
Now I know I am losing my sanity.
I feel a tweak of heat on my arm and I glance down. The dragon stares up at me. He is approximately three inches tall and is breathing fire at an amazing rate.
“Please don’t do that.”
“Why? I’ve lain amongst the pages of that blasted book for ever and now that I’m free, why not?’
I shrug my shoulders and consider my answer. To give him his due I can understand his need to escape. “But it’s my arm and I would rather not be burnt.”
He smiles at me . “I’m George, by the way.” As he speaks the fair hairs on my arm are singed.

Grimacing with pain, I lean over and pluck a leafy twig from the nearest shrub. “Try this.”
He does and is happy with the result which is a black shriveled up mess in my hand. How do I know he is happy? Because he begins to dance, tap dance by the amount of pain he is inflicting on me, all the way up and down my arm and finally moves along the seat I am sitting on.
A shadow looms above me and I look up. The park keeper is standing glaring at me. “Why would you do that?”
“What?” I am really puzzled.
“Set a twig on fire.” He has yanked off his cap and is mopping his brow. His bald head is a shining example of cleanliness.
“I didn’t..” I begin.
“It was me.” George explains as he jumps onto the arm of the bench. To re inforce his point he lets out a bellow of fire that catches the end of the park keepers hanky that protrudes from his hip pocket. It goes up in smoke. He looks at me and at George. He faints, landing on the ground with a nice thud.
Standing up, I step over him saying, “looks as though life has lost its boring factor. How would you like to meet my ex husband?”
George smiles and I leave the park with him sitting on my shoulder.

Story originally posted on CC as part of a weekly challenge. – Maria.

 

 

Be Careful what you wish for –

Be careful what you wish for, Isabella’s fairy godmother whispered in Isalbella’s ear.

Isabella ignored her because that is what isabella does best –  ignores people.

“Someday,” her best friend Betty said, “someday you will find out what it is like to be ignored.”

Tonight Isabella was having fun, it was the annual harvest festival ball, a fundraiser for a local children’s charity. Most people attending had borrowed or rented their costumes, giving as much as they could towards the charity but not Isabella. She had spent a weeks wage on her designer dress. She delighted in letting those around her know of this fact. Everyone admired her dress, as she expected. Then she noticed the tone the comments of admiration were being delivered in ,like a fond parent would say to a spoilt child, in order to avoid the nasty experience of a tantrum.

You are imagining it, Isabella decided. Concentrate on the ball and looking amazing, like always. So she did, she didn’t help the elderly lady find a chair, she simply pushed past and demanded that the host of the ball dance with her.  He did so with reluctance and plenty of people noticed but not Isabella.

She failed to help Betty when she felt faint due to lack of food and over excitement.Betty had given up her free time to help get the decorations in place. Isabella had been busy getting her hair and make up done.

“Just sit there Betty, you will be fine.”  Isabella commanded.

So Betty sat and promptly slid off the chair cracking her arm off a table in the process.

All of these events were witnessed by Isabella’s fairy godmother Grainne who was usually a patient, loving and forgiving fairy godmother but tonight her patience was wearing thin. She paid a visit to her boss. When she left the office an hour later she was grinning like a child.

When Grainne returned to Isabella’s side she was not surprised to see that everyone, except Isabella ,was feeling sorry and sympathetic towards Betty who was gone to hospital to have her arm x rayed. The conversation was about dreams and wishes. Isabella declared she would wish for time to stay still, because she loved evenings like this, where everyone was in good form and nothing bad was said and everything was simply fabulous and really perfect.

As soon as she uttered the words the world about her shimmered and glowed. People moved about her but failed to hear her speak. She asked for a fresh drink from a passing barman but he merely continued on walking.  This won’t do, Isabella decided.  She tried to move and discovered she couldn’t. She appeared to be stuck.

This is not funny, she thought and tried with all her might to shout, kick or squirm.

All about her the party continued on, the band was replaced by a dj and people danced around her. One or two commented on the very life like statue that sparkled and glowed but no one saw the tormented eyes that shone out at them. No one except Grainne. She wondered when she would be ordered to release Isabella from the spell but hoped it wouldn’t be for a long time because for Grainne that would be simply “fabulous and perfect”.

I know you know

Bob’s Diary. ..I am not a Reindeer!

After the Christmas Reindeer story, I thought I was safe for a few weeks. Life can be cruel can’t it?

I knew there was trouble brewing when Maria and Sara offered me jelly babies.

Bob 1 no ideaThey are up to something

 But I didn’t expect this…

 No sir, I got to talk to Sir Bob about this…

reindeer 3

I am not a reindeer….

reindeer 2

  I have the answer..

reeindeer 5

 I am a Superhero.

 

Maria’s Stuff: Flash Fiction

Emma said, “They called him Kevin. ”

As he watched her she appeared to be struggling to speak. A trickle of water leaked from the corner of her eyes. Her small white hand covered her mouth.

He looked at her aghast. He was hopeless at coping with tears. He would rather face a great white shark than have to put his arms around his best friend and comfort her.

The air in the kitchen shimmered.The man before Emma imagined the warm air as an entity. It rushed in through the open back door shook hands with the frigid temperature in the room to kick off the cold wall before racing outside. Along the way he saw it scoop up her distress and carry it away.

If he was asked to describe his feelings he would have said they were as brown as the worn boots on his feet. He struggled to grasp the correct word to comfort. For Emma was more to him than a friend. She was a life line to reality. Without her he would gladly slip into the realm of his fantasies, his characters he wrote about, the stories others believed he struggled to create were an escape route from the nastiness of this world. A world he feared and wanted no part of, without her.
A nudge from Emma made him look at her. Her blonde hair glistened in the pale sunlight, her body shook with tremors. Then he looked at her eyes and smiled. “Go on let me in on the joke. Who did they call Kevin?”
His large hand gently removed her smaller hand from her mouth and the laughter poured from her like water bubbling in a pot, in fits and bits. He sat and waited. He was used to waiting.

When she recovered she said, “The children called the new pet pig Kevin. Because they love the stories you tell them. What do you think of that, my Kevin?”
He pretended to be disgusted then winked at her and said, “Fitting.”
Their laughter bounced and floated through the house. As it moved it warmed every centimeter of the old stone building.

Maria’s Stuff: The fight against evil.

John walked into the lecture room and every one in the audience focused on him. He often wondered if people were disappointed when they saw him. They expected a knight in shining armor what they got was a nondescript man.

John was neither tall , nor an impressive man. He knew he would be skimmed over in a crowd. But here, he was regarded with awe. He held power. Here his past victories reigned. He had experience in the world of tracking down evil. His greatest wish was to pass his knowledge on to others in an effort to rid the world of as much insanity as possible. Each day began with this lone thought rattling around in his brain: Imagine a world where everything is as it should be. How wonderful and amazing would it be to have evil fade into insignificance and be forgotten?

Eilis sat among the audience. She had one thing in common with John. She was as ordinary as ordinary can get. She wore nothing startlingly out-of-place. Dressed in scruffy jeans, checked shirt and long hair framing her ordinary face. She was careful to don a normal expression, one of an audience of two hundred all wearing the same benign look, striving to understand the words being delivered at a precise rate.

John took a deep breath and before he began his lecture he scanned the group before him. It was always this way, deliver your lecture to an unappreciative looking group of students and then hope that one of your points would stick with even one of them. He was hoping for a miracle. Still, as he continued on delivering his lecture he wondered which one it would be and what they would get from it.

What he failed to realise was the miracle would take his world in a direction he had never thought it capable of.

Flash Fiction: Aya’s flight.

Aya clung to the rock.  Her thoughts were bleak. Is this it? The end?  She was tired of running.

Her vision was spectacular. A trait she cursed now as she watched the red spectre creeping relentlessly towards her. It was hungry devouring everything in its path.

Worse she could smell the acrid smell of death. So strong it hit the back of her throat making her gag.

Aya supposed this must be how her victims had felt before she ended their lives. But, she argued, my act had been one of self-defense not one born of hunger and greed.

Her eyelids fluttered, she wobbled a little as she clung to the rock. I mustn’t sleep yet, she whispered though there was no one to hear.  Aya was thirsty, hungry and exhausted.

She looked to the sky. The dark clouds mirrored the color of the charred earth but no rain had fallen.

She offered a prayer to the Gods for a quick end.

A tear escaped.

Then she heard it. A flutter. Ears straining she wondered if she was imagining it. A wishful thought converting a whispering wind to an animal’s movements.

Shoulders slumped as she decided to stay and prepare for death.

Aya flinched when she felt the slightest tingling touch along her back. Turning she saw a bright blue and green flicker darting along her back. The kingfisher moved like a flash of lightning as it danced in the air above her.

She opened her mind and heart to it demanding, “What do you want of me? Death?”

“No. Life. Follow me you are close to a spring which leads to a river many miles from here. ” The kingfisher darted away.

Aya watched him leave. Tiredness dictated she check this out before she moved. Swiveling about she took a deep breath. Her lips quivered as a tentative smile formed. She decided green river reeds never smelt this good.

Summoning the last of her energy, Aya loosened her grip on the rock. Then spreading her wings, the last dragon took flight into the dark sky with a heart burdened with hope.

 

dragon

 

One hundred years old and climbing

My eyes meader along the grass path which runs in a higgeldy piggeldy fashion towards the one hundred year old beech tree.

This majestic tree commands the sweeping fields beyond it.

Long arching branches bow low in the soft breeze sweeping the tender freshly cut grass. The air around it tingles with expectancy.

Stretching skywards the tip of the tree appears to brush heavens floor.

It’s extravagant size suggests it has regal dealings of a celestial nature.  Fluffy clouds perch on its top, lingering like surreal angels seeking a brief respite from their work.

Truth is this chameleon is hiding an earthly significance. It serves to remind us of natures calendar as it announces the season by the coat it wears.

Flash Fiction: The Hungry Polka

“I don’t know! Don‘t look at me like that. I just don‘t know, alright?”

The words hung in the air between teeth clenching mother and bored looking daughter. They turned and stared at the fabric.

Reining in her frustrations Gabby reminded herself she should be patient with her teenage daughter. “Well do you like it or not?” Gabby asked gently.

Chewing gum smacked about in her mouth as Ann considered her answer. She was tired of this hunt for the perfect fabric for the perfect dress and all for the perfect day.

The perfect day – her mum’s wedding. Ann tried not to think of it. She would prefer to run, from the house, from their perfectly planned lives and most of all, at this moment from this flaming tweedie shop.

With a shrug Ann said,  “Yes, sort of.” Silently she thought, it looks like the type of fabric that would drive a person dotty. The words made her smile and she repeated them in her head.

Gabby ignored the nit picking irritation created by the “sort of.” Instead she concentrated on the positive, the only positive word spoken by her daughter today.

They floated home on a cloud of relief via the number nineteen bus. Once inside their front door, they parted company.

Ann to her room. Gabby to the kitchen where she filled the kettle. Tea was needed immediately to help her recover. The fabric lay on the counter.

It was spotted by Martin. “Nice dots!” he commented.

Gabby grimaced remembering the work it took to overcome her daughters objections.

Martin  rubbed his hand across the fabric. “Reminds me of a haunting Polka tune I learnt at school.  He left the room whistling.

Gabby draped the fabric over the banisters that evening. Gabby insisted, inspiration for the cut, shape etc would happen if she kept it there.  Martin was continually whistling that tune. She found it irritating. He said it was comforting.

She woke at three in the morning. The room felt chilly. She got up to investigate.

The light on the landing drew her out of her room. She could hear the trace of dance music rising to meet her. She crept down the stairs. Curiosity forced her on, even as she saw the dark shadow on the stairs. Her heart pummeled in her chest, her ears were filled with the loud swoosh as anxiety raised her blood pressure.

Martin stood clutching  the fabric as he muttered softly to himself. The music played on. Gabby wondered where it was coming from. She looked at Martin, in fact she couldn’t take her eyes from him. His eyes were alight but his face was pale as he said over and over again…”Polka dot. Dot. Dot. Polka dot.”

The doctors insisted it was a stress related breakdown. Gabby didn’t know what to think or believe. Martin was no longer her Martin. He was a shadow of his former self, all he did was hum that blasted tune day in and day out. If he wasn’t humming he was singing about dots.

Ann offered her opinion. “Pre-wedding jitters and stress has turned his brain to mush!” With a pop of her gum she left the room.