On every window pane in every room we found two horizontal strips of black tape, the lower one always slightly wider than the one above.
After two days of packing up my late Aunt’s house, I had to know. ‘Mum, what do they mean?’
My mother trailed a finger over one dark line, muttering, ‘Eyes.’ She stroked the line below. ‘Mouth.’
The house fell silent, as if listening.
‘Mum?’ I breathed.
She tugged her cardigan around her, suddenly chilled. ‘Perhaps your aunt thought if they were blind and mute, they couldn’t hurt her again. Seems she was wrong.’
Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. Just sneaked in under the wire for last week’s prompt, but if you’d like to join in there’ll be another picture tomorrow. See here to join the fun.
Every week he’d slip and scurry to the top of Broun Mam and leave something for Peggy in the disused nesting box.
Sometimes it might only be an unripe beech bud or a sprig of Hawthorne blossom. When he could steal the time alone it would be a note, scribbled in pencil on a page he’d torn from last year’s almanac. I still listen for the waves or When I eat apples I save the pips for you. Things only significant to her, to them.
What she left in return made his hands shake for her. A peach stone sucked clean of flesh; a triangle of lace snipped from her clothing, from somewhere covered, close to her skin. The thought of these items passing through her hands, over her tongue made him shiver …
Until they stopped appearing and he saw them for what they were – things she had discarded.
Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as it starting point. This week we are in St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cuna. See here to join in.
The jailer’s cap was pulled down, his oily beard gingered with dropped snuff. He signalled with pinched fingers. ‘Fourth one along.’
The stench was unbearable, the path slurried with leaves, the emptying of slop buckets. I lifted my skirts to keep the hem free of filth. I stopped, called my love’s name.
A hand appeared between the bars, the wrist too slender to be his, the nails once trim now long, torn, black. A moan drifted on the wind, a sound that was almost my name.
I’d imagined him slender, grubby, downcast but still with shining eyes, still himself. The creature that clawed and thrashed at the stone was not him, not the him I wanted to remember. My basket fell to the ground, bread tumbling, bottle thudding to the muck.
‘How long has she been missing?’ Papa pulled on his boots, his braces still hanging loose, bouncing at his thighs.
‘An hour ago.’ But I was reading up in the attic before that, hiding from my sister, avoiding the grief that hung about her like a shadow. I stared up the hill, towards the foot of the glacier. ‘She wouldn’t go up there alone.’
The old Nancy wouldn’t, but this hollow girl that had replaced her, who drifted like mist through the house since the accident … Maybe.
‘If I’m not back by nightfall …’ The door slammed behind Papa’s back.
Woodbines – at the time, a popular brand of cigarettes mad by the Wills tobacco company here in Bristol. Cigarettes helped with morale in the trenches and were also used as currency.
I was going to use the brand name Five Boys chocolate but didn’t quite have the word count. Five Boys was made by Fry and Son – another Bristol company – and was famous for the image on the front of the wrapper.
Sold flowers under the gas lamp, corner of Great Earl Street and Queen Street, Seven Dials. Old enough to be your Nana, though not yet old enough to be mine. Hair dyed black as a coal hole, always a pheasant feather or a silk rose tucked in her crumbling straw hat. Face like a patch of dried chamois leather. Shared a room with some other biddies – a boot lace seller, a sheet music peddlar and one who peddled herself, if you know what I mean.
Nah, don’t know where she went. People just vanish, lad.