This collection of short/short stories have been written to meet Tablo prompt challenges. I am choosing to include other tales from prompts from other places - sometimes words, sometimes photos that lend themselves to some imaginative word treatment. All provide the greatest joy in the imagining.
I created a cover for each story in case I choose to present them individually, somewhere/sometime in the future. I won't mention that I l-o-v-e creating covers as well (shhh... that's a poorly hidden secret!)
Please keep watching this spot - I have ideas for more stories - and these will be added as soon as my multitude of plans find the time for public viewing.
(Prompt: The Hallway was Silent... )
The hallway was silent… NOW!
After all those petrifying moments when the ceiling and floor beams contracted and cracked and groaned, one by one, up the long passage towards our room…
Now there was only silence. Apart from the painful pounding in my ears making it difficult to hear the alien sounds. I tried holding my breath and that worked – until I began to suffocate and terrified myself anew with the depth of the breath I needed to take. Wouldn’t the huge gasp I tried to stifle be heard some distance away?
Here, in the middle of the night, there was no logic, no commonsense to ease the terrifying feeling that some form of intruder was creeping up to my room… slowly but surely. Desperately, my mind swung like the proverbial pendulum – between the possibilities… and the practicalities.
Hmm, possibilities. Like that news report of the escaped rapist, believed to be somewhere in the surrounding area. (That this area covered some hundreds of square miles meant little to my feverish imaginings.) And the possibility one of our faraway neighbours could resent all things city and have lost the plot and decided to rid the countryside of the newest city-slickers-cum-farmers – namely, us.
And who would hear if some crazed assailant broke a window, or kicked down a door. Who could hear my screams when the next farmer lived half a mile away? Even my husband wouldn’t know – far out in the most distant paddock, ploughing and seeding through that endless, dark night.
The practical side of me argued strongly. Don’t be ridiculous. Quit being such a wimp. The odds are stacked sky high against anyone coming in here for no reason. And you really think the dogs wouldn’t set up such a racket; it would scare the bejeezus out of any wannabe criminal?
And an even more practical side argued, … and you really think dear, faithful Candy dog – yes, that one on the bed when Kanute’s not here – you really think she wouldn’t defend you with her life? Hmm…
Mocking my worst fears, no physical presence materialized, despite the continuing ghostly creaking. And I don’t say ghostly lightly. We had been cheerfully told by our friend/employer that his grandparents had both died in our bed. Without prior experience of the haunting kind, I thought I handled this information with great stoicism and dignity, at the time. Somewhere deep inside however, I must confess to the odd flutter of foreboding. And here it was now... back to haunt me.
Funny how small details like that tend to lodge firmly in a corner of your brain. Small details that led to wild and vivid imaginings plus copious amounts of sweat and tears. Thankfully, no blood was shed that night, or any other, as I lay alone in our bed in that creaky old house.
Remarkably, this would only occur when Kanute was working an overnight shift. Funny that! When he was in bed next to me, I was blithely accepting of any unexplained noises – ghostly or not.
(Prompt: taking a risk that doesn't work out)
"How many more times will we return empty-handed?" I remember saying. I felt desperately downhearted… for some reason, this time more than most. Kanute gave me a comforting hug.
"I know love. It's bloody hard starting milking SO late. And on dark cold nights like this… " He sighed heavily. Luckily for him, his disappointment and exhaustion at the end of a day like this would mostly cause him to fall into bed and sleep—on almost the same breath. I remember many silent tears on nights like that, as Kanute slept while my active mind continued to relive the current rejection.
Our need for machinery and the owner's reluctance to buy us even the barest necessities had seen our share farming arrangement fail dismally. In a 'round table' meeting with the handling agent and the owner, a crusty and particularly stubborn old lady, she made a sudden, most unexpected decision. With her usual serious ‘owl-like’ expression, she sighed heavily several times and then said, “Well ... it seems to me there’s only one answer. The Larsens had better buy the farm!” After just five months of our share-farming agreement, Mrs. Lowe had determined to sell it to us. Still reeling from the enormity of this decision, our ultimate surprise came with the discovery she wished to lease the property to us instead of share-farming, and would extend our contract for as long as it took us to get the necessary finance.
"How many times did we trek off to the city chasing money, do you reckon?" I ask.
He shrugs his shoulders and twists his lips. "I really don't know. Too bloody many, if you ask me."
Somehow we never lost our confidence, although it was sorely tried as we haunted one lending authority after another - stoically accepting their disbelief in our anticipated milk production figures. Everyone, including ourselves, knew the impossibility of meeting the rigorous demands of the lending authorities, with only a tiny 10% to put down as deposit. But despite the odds, the challenge and the possibility existed right then - ready or not.
"Out came your trusty calculator and paper and pencil - just like always." Another of the countless times I have reason to feel blessed by my numbers man's prowess.
As endless sheets of figures were produced, predictions and educated guesses kept us tossing and turning through many sleepless nights. Between milkings we drove those countless three hour round-trips to the city, always starting out full of optimism that 'this time' would be the one.
Now here we were on the night we’ll never forget - the one time we were too tired and miserable to go to the end of our large ‘dry cow’ paddock to ensure our heavily pregnant girls (and those who had just calved, were OK.
"Just this once we’ll risk it," we told ourselves."Surely everything will be as usual. Some grazing, some laying down chewing their cuds, others sleeping."
With weariness and dejection weighing heavily on our hearts and souls, we could easily convince ourselves that a single night off wouldn’t hurt. We owed it to ourselves, surely? And after all, weren’t we doing all this for our ‘girls’ as well as ourselves? Finally, curled up in front of a crackling fire with a glass of Port in hand, we were content to make the easier choice.
But next day, with a clear but pale blue sky above and a crispness in the early morning air, when we checked down the paddock, we made the tragic discovery one of our best cows had died. A clearly evident struggle to get up again after a sudden and common sickness soon after giving birth, had caused her to drop in her tracks. Our beautiful big golden Jersey with the great long lashes around the prettiest eyes - one of our top milkers. Gone.
It’s not wishful speculation to say we could have saved her, because it’s true. The night we surrendered to our fatigue, the miracle of a bottle of glucose injected intravenously would have seen her back on her feet within half an hour. This most magical cure had become freely available to every farmer - so to leave this precious cow unattended was almost criminal in our opinion. Certainly, not one of our prouder moments.
To this day, the needless death of that noble creature causes us a great deal of pain.
To this day either of us only has to say, "What about 100?" for the inevitable next thought—if only...?