The warmth seeped into my milky skin, making it tender to touch. I savoured the rare, strong rays which wrapped around my pink shoulders like a woolen shawl. Through my dark glasses the grass was a bright shade of green, stretching forward as far as the eye could venture. The sky was the lightest shade of baby blue with a solo cloud in the obscure shape of a seal. To my left was deep crimson and orange bricks, survivors to hundreds of years of weather. The flag waved gently at the top of the castle in the soft breeze. This image was so serene, so tranquil. I reached for my novel and read the first twenty crisp pages. Great Gatsby was definitely one of my favourites I decided. However something about this setting didn’t feel right. Cars wizzed past, polluting the atmosphere. A big, brown ugly building stood opposite the enchanting castle. Ancient and modern. Seventies designs and beautiful architecture. The contrasts could not have been more stark. Next to the rancid building, a faded hairdressers, a local news agents selling ‘the cheapest booze in town’. Surrounding great culture is the threat of the modern world.
The tired waitress is standing attentively next to a lonely table of two by the only window. In her left hand, she grips a battered grey notepad. In her right hand, she clutches a fluffy pink biro. Her body is leaning towards the elderly couple seated before her, holding hands lovingly over the table’s wooden surface. The waitress’s curly auburn hair is pinned on the top of her head with a black grip, strands have fallen around her face from the mad rush an hour ago. The generic black apron is tied tight, and is wrapped a whole two times around her petite waist. Patches of scrambled egg and brown sauce which have escaped certain plates earlier stand out against the black cotton. The elderly couple smile warmly at her, greeting her with familiarity. The elderly lady wears a neat purple flowery shirt buttoned to the top, complete with a sparkly butterfly broach on the crisp white collar. The elderly gentleman wears his usual cream shirt, his usual light brown tie, and has his usual dark brown blazer resting comfortably around the back of the leather chair. Before she has chance to ask them what they would like she knows. They never change. Always two large lattes and always two toasted current teacakes without butter. The waitress politely nods. But something immediately catches her attention outside. It couldn’t be. Dropping the pad and pen she runs through the door hoping to catch him but once she’s outside he’s vanished, nowhere to be seen. It is as if he has evaporated into the atmosphere around her. Then she remembers. He said he was never coming back.
Here is my opening paragraph to a new story I’m working on. Let me know what you guys think 🙂
Since then they have cut down the trees behind the house. The grey, eroded bricks now glistened exposed to the autumn sunlight. The misshapen moss weaved around the house like a giant hand, clasping all the horrors in its dark green palm. Behind this tangled moss stood a house so full of tragedy and deceit that nobody daren’t venture into it. One girl did. A curious girl of fifteen found the address scrawled on the back of an old photo in a dusty family album. The photo, yellow and crumpled at the edges showed three women in their twenties, Mrs Tabour, Mrs Emmit and Mrs Green. The journey from when this photo was taken to the present day is a terribly tragic and a melancholy one. It all started in 1922.
The warm sand tickled in between my toes. I inhaled a long breath of fresh sea air. It felt cleansing to me. Looking around I chose to sit near to the sea edge so my toes would get wet every so often by a fresh wave. Reaching into my bag I pulled out my towel, sunglasses and my book ready to be transformed to another world. The familiar sound of seagulls and the faint smell of salt filled the air. This is where I felt at my calmest. The sea glistened from the glimmer of the sunshine above. It stretched out for miles, as far as the eye could see. It was such a powerful thought to think how vast it was compared to how small each individual human being is. Sometimes I just sat here all day and watched the sea and dozed in between chapters of the latest book I was reading. When I was little my Grandmother used to take me into the sea, and hand in hand we would jump over waves. We used to come to the beach every summer, build sandcastles and put little flags in the tops of them. Some of my best memories are at the seaside. At night we would walk along the edge of the beach, sandals in one hand. My mother would have to hose our feet before we dared step indoors. Smiling to myself I watched a couple with two small children. The mother was trying to teach them how to make sandcastles but they kept emptying the bucket before turning it upside down. The sea was fairly peaceful today, the waves were calming and untroubled. It is such a vast contrast to how to see can be in the winter months when the storms arise. It becomes violent and angry, water gushing in all directions. The waves become rough and uneasy. Each one growing taller then crashing back down into another wave. The rain and wind contributing to this sudden transformation. Then when this is all over it becomes calm again, as if nothing ever happened. For now I thought, I best enjoy the serenity. I wondered what wildlife would be hiding from us right now, jellyfish perhaps, sea lions, various types of fish? There was nothing overly harmful in these waters, no sharks or anything which was why so many people swam here. The lifeguards were on duty every time I came here but they never really had to tend to anybody for anything. I had gotten to know them pretty well. There was Emily who was my age, she had long blonde hair plaited into two neat braids to keep the hair out of her eyes. Her skin was tanned and freckly from being out here most days. She approached me with her usual friendly smile. “Hey Cat”, looking up from my book I offered her a space on my towel. “There’s meant to be a storm brewing for tonight”, she said with her eyes focused on the sea. “Really?” I hadn’t seen that one coming. Usually the clouds are dark and heavy, looming over the whole community. “Yeah, we’re going to start warning people in a few hours or so, so I thought I’d come over to let you know”. And with that she got up ready to tell some children off for throwing pebbles up in the air to catch. I wondered if I should stay and watch the storm from the cliff edge, but decided that would be way too dangerous. Gathering up my things I remembered I had to get back, after all there was a wedding to plan. On second thoughts, maybe I’ll stay here for a little while longer.
His black leather shoes squeaked as he got out of his old car. They were brand new just the week before. Approaching his dreaded place of work, he left out a heart felt sigh. Another day. The dim flicker of lights from outside shone through the many windows on the side of the library. Although it looked prison like, he still wore a bow tie to match his brown suede jacket with beige patches on the elbows. Pushing his tortoise shell glasses further up his nose, the doors opened automatically in front of him. Before him were walls full of the likes of Byron, Shakespeare and Wordsworth. He was surrounded by literary greatness. “Good morning Pat”, he chirped to the sour face receptionist. As always she slowly peered up from her newspaper, ignored him then went back to reading. But this did not affect him because he knew a secret that nobody else did. And the secret was this, in his leather briefcase was a sealed letter. The importance of this letter was indescribable. It would determine his entire existence. Boring library assistant or best selling author. The manuscript of his novel had been sent to many publishers – twenty nine in fact, all of whom bared the burden of rejection. This is it he thought as he unbuckled the latch and retrieved the letter. His hands were shaking, trembling as his wrinkled fingers delicately tore through the crisp white envelope. Dear Mr Mann it read. We are delighted to write to you and ask you if you would like to meet with us in regard to the discussion of the publication of your manuscript titled, ‘Igore’s Journey’. A wide grin spread across his face, tears welled up behind his glasses. His dreams were about to come true. This is the moment he had been waiting thirty long years for. This one letter. The many years of rejection and the several letters of nos all seemed to disappear from his mind instantaneously. He was going to be a writer and nobody could stop him.
Wading through the brown, murky water I peered around nervously. It was only shin deep now but the news said the worst was yet to come. My eyes welled up at the sight of the once immaculate living room. The beige carpet which we spent hours choosing was completely ruined. I could just see my mother laughing in her crimson armchair with a drink of tea and one hand a cigarette in the other. She would be heartbroken if she saw this now. As if snapping back into reality I felt a small hand tugged at my waist, “Daddy don’t you think that our house looks like a swimming pool”. I really didn’t want my son to see this but he persisted on getting back his favourite toy whilst we were staying at my sister’s cottage. All of a sudden he stopped and headed for the stairs. ‘I can hear a noise’ was all he said. Picking him up we climbed the creaking staircase together. I could faintly hear it too. The noise was muffled and came from my son’s bedroom across the landing. ‘Stay here Alfie, let me go first’, unsure of what was in there I reached for the door handle. The blue door was slightly ajar. Alfie standing behind me, nervously gripped my hand and I gave his a gentle squeeze to reassure him. Pushing it open together we were shocked at what we saw. A stray tabby cat with two tiny kittens was laid on his bed. ‘Kitties!’ My son brushed past me and made a beeline for the animals. Their little furry bodies, huddled close together for warmth were so thin. ‘Daddy can we keep them?! They need a new home like us and and and please pleaseeeee’. I could tell from this moment Alfie was completely besotted. We had lost an awful lot due to the freak weather so any happiness I could bring my son I would gladly accept. They were definitely stray cats, three of them in total.
That was three months ago. Now Tily, Tabby and Tiny are just like us, they have a brand new home and a brand new start. After seeing them so vulnerable it made me realise that the terrible flood affected everybody. They were fragile for a while but Alfie helped to nurse them back to health. It gave him a project, something to take his mind of the loss of our possessions and ruined house. He now wishes to be a veterinarian when he grows up. These stray cats gave him happiness at a time when he needed it the most. Not everybody was lucky though people are still living in B&Bs whilst the clean-up operation is still under way. The downstairs of our lovely home was completely engulfed by over a foot of filthy water from the Thames. It was trashed, so I decided to move the both of us with cats in tow to a cottage near my sister’s where we are rebuilding our lives.
I could feel the train coming to a steady halt. The stop after was mine I was sure of it. Outside the window was a layer of pitch black. The darkness was deceiving and could easily be mistaken for a tunnel. Pulling my thick duffel coat around me I’d forgotten how much colder it was here. The harsh winter air nipped my ears and nose as the train gushed past the Yorkshire countryside. One of the windows must be open I thought. The train you could tell was an old one, with dated logos and seating that was faded and frayed. Sitting on a window seat, I was lost in my own thoughts, wondering how many people had sat here before me, where they were going and who were they with. My day dreams then were abruptly cut short by the realisation of people boarding. A woman sat next to me, she smiled at me as she did. Smiling back I noticed her hair was delicately plaited into a neat little grey bun. She was perhaps my grandma’s age and was carrying her flowery handbag close under her arm. Reaching into her bag, she rummaged through and retrieved a novel. It was the book thief by Markus Zusak – one of my favourites. Although I only had a brief glance at the cover I knew exactly what it was. Without thinking I blurted out, ‘so interesting having death as the narrator’. The lady put her finger in between the book to mark her page then turned to me. She said in a thick Russian accent, ‘do you know that is exactly what I think too, I’ve never read anything like it before’. She then smiled at me again, this time I noticed up close the carefully applied blusher and lipstick and the matching pearl earrings and necklace she was wearing. Over the speaker my stop was announced as the next one. I gathered my belongings whilst making a comment on the book and how much I enjoyed it. She looked glad of the company on her way to wherever she was heading. Standing up I put my rucksack back on, whilst reaching deep in my coat pocket for my ticket. I carefully moved around her and she said for me to get home safely and to enjoy the rest of my night. Although it wasn’t much, it surprised me that a random stranger would be so kind. Usually on this train people are quiet, earphones in and the only sound they make is the grunt to the ticket collector. Smiling at her I said the same. It made me think, how different the younger and older generations are.