Lonely this Christmas

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It was a cold 25th of December. The pavements sparkled with an irridescent scattering of frost and were gently crisp underfoot. The moon was suspended high in the inky black sky, with only the stars for company and the air was perfumed with the heady aroma of pine trees and peppermint. Christmas trees festooned with tinsel and twinkling fairy lights shone proudly from every house whilst indoors families feasted from tables positively groaning with festive food. Crackers snapped and released their gaudy trinkets as heads were adorned with brightly coloured hats. Children, full of chocolate and turkey were desperately trying not to yawn for fear that bed would be suggested therefore bringing Christmas to an end again. Music played constantly in the background, always the same old sentimental tunes.

Violet shivered as she stepped outside for her nightly walk with Jasper, her basset hound. Pulling her thick, woolly hat further down over her ears she gave a gentle tug on Jasper’s lead and they turned left out of the gate and set off through the village. She started up the hill towards the village green, oblivious to the sounds and smells wafting from each house, her mind far away as it always was on Christmas Day. Keeping her head down, she trudged on, stopping occasionally for Jasper to do what dogs do but all the while heading for the top of the village.

The green sat proudly at the top of the hill, resident to a magnificent nativity scene, painstakingly hand carved by someone many years ago, although no one could remember who. Violet stopped and bent down to release Jasper from his lead, allowing him to roam free, never fearful that he would wander far. As he trundled slowly, nose down, on the white tinged, crispy grass, Violet sat down on one of the wooden benches and felt the same, familiar feeling that she felt every December 25th. It crept slowly over her like freezing fog, a despair that threatened to drown her as though an invisible hand was silently, mercilessly, tightening around her neck. Claustrophobia was the official word for it but Violet thought despair was closer to the truth. How many Christmases had she done this now? She had stopped counting a long time ago but she knew it had been too many. How much longer could she go on?

A chill wind blew round her neck and she knew without turning that it was coming from the loch just beyond the perimeter of the village. Almost as though in a trance she stood and began walking slowly away from the green. Aware of every sound now as she made her way towards the loch, she could hear her footsteps crunching, Jasper snuffling the ground, her own shallow breathing and in the distance that bloody song about it being Christmas every day and she almost laughed with the irony of it. Almost but not quite…..because that was the reason why Violet was close to cracking now, the reason why every Christmas Day she made this pilgrimage of sorts to the edge of the village.

Growing up in this picture perfect place had been idyllic. Of course, as a child, it actually being Christmas every day had been wonderful. Going to bed knowing that you would do it all over again the next day, never being sad that Christmas was over for another year was special. It never occurred to her that not everyone lived this way. However when, as a teenager, rumours spread amongst her friends about there being another way to live, she had been intrigued. Imagine living somewhere warm, where your skin could be free to feel the air. Who knew there were songs out there that spoke of other things, that acknowledged sadness as well as joy. Was it really possible that Christmas could be celebrated just once a year?

At 18 she learned the terrible truth as her Mother lay dying. There was another world out there but as part of the village she could not experience it. She was trapped, for eternity, in an endless Christmas. There could be no sun, no Halloween, no music festivals for her because the only way to leave this village was to enter the loch. Violet was ashamed to admit that her Mother dying that day was not what made her weep. It was the realisation that she could never leave. It wasn’t that she had been desperate to go until that point but knowing that she couldn’t had changed everything. Christmas lost it’s childlike sparkle and she fell in to a depression and developed a hatred for the place she had called home.

So here she stood, as she had done every day for years since she learned the awful truth, gazing at the loch. She wondered how cold it was in there, whether hypothermia would get her before she actually drowned. Crouching down she removed her gloves and trailed her hands in the water. Her fingers immediately turned blue and in the distance she could hear a scream. This brought her mind sharply in to focus and she realised that there was no going back. Swiftly removing her coat, hat and boots she plunged in to the icy waters and lay back, allowing the cold to slowly seep in to her bones all the while listening to the terrified screams grow louder.

As she began to lose consciousness she remembered her Mothers final words to her, gasped out with her last breath…’remember Violet, if anyone enters the loch, the whole village drowns with them’.

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Welcome to Miss Tizzle’s

Everyone loved Miss Tizzle’s house at Halloween. The whole town dressed their homes of course, with amber pumpkins glowing gently and perhaps a cobweb here and there, but Miss Tizzle’s was something special. On the week leading up to the 31st, figures would begin to appear in her front garden. Ethereal ghosts that were barely there, fluttered gently in the wind. As night fell, they glowed eerily, making them even more life like. This was of course a peculiar way to describe beings from the after life but it was what made Miss Tizzle’s house so special.

Spooky figures in many guises drew the children of the town in. The werewolf, clad in ripped jeans and checked shirt was, if a little cliched, so life like its eyes were glazed with a crazed and desperate stare. The children claimed if you were close enough you could almost smell it, whatever a werewolf actually smelled of because really, who had ever gotten close enough to a real werewolf and lived to tell the tale?

The vampire, who had been there for as long as anyone could remember, was tall and bony with skin so translucent that you could almost see his veins. Like a pantomime villain from their grandparents days, he was dressed in an old fashioned black cloak with a bow tie fixed around his scrawny neck. His teeth were fixed in a devilish grimace, showing his gleaming white fangs off to perfection.

Dozens of figures appeared as the days went by. The Clown, The Zombie, Frankenstein’s Monster, all deceptively real and equally creepy. Every year they materialised for Halloween and sometimes, if you were very lucky, Miss Tizzle would dream up a new grizzly figure. Like The Witch…she made her debut two years ago. Some children swore that if you listened very quietly you could hear them moaning. A very opinionated boy told anyone who would listen that he saw The Zombie move once. How Miss Tizzle made it all happen was a mystery to everyone but however she did it, it really was the best Halloween display in the whole town.

By night fall on Halloween, Miss Tizzle’s house was ready. The children had raced home from school, all excited to go out, dressed in their finest costumes. From house to house they would go, meeting friends on the way, discussing which house was giving away the best fudge, was Mr Jones giving out his famous sherbet that was so sour and fizzy it actually made your eyes water, who was trying to slip nutritious raisins into their overflowing treat bags and most importantly who had already been to Miss Tizzle’s house…and while all this activity took place, Miss Tizzle was preparing for her favourite night of the year.

Miss Tizzle pottered about her neat and tidy house. It was a small but chunky white cottage with a thatched brown roof. To anyone who took the time to look, they would’ve seen that it looked just like Miss Tizzle. Her brown frizzy hair did indeed resemble the thatch on the roof and she had a round, comfortable body that wobbled rather than walked. Inside, the cottage was furnished in chintz and lace, with a heady aroma of lavender. Miss Tizzle loved lavender, so calming and soothing to the spirit.

As the children raced around town determined to leave her house until last like some grand finale, she was preparing her special punch in the kitchen. She had been making it for so many years now she was sure she could have done it with her eyes closed. She certainly didn’t need to refer to the faded recipe, barely legible in the old cloth book, passed down to her from her grandmother. No one else knew about her punch, well hardly anyone, but they would never tell. She stirred it carefully in her big copper pan and thought with pleasure about who she might share her secret with this year. It was always a last minute decision, never knowing who may turn up to see her display. A shiver of anticipation fizzled up her spine at the thought of the fun still to come.

The sweet and sickly brew had been simmering away for the required ten minutes by this time so Miss Tizzle carefully removed it from the flame and moved to the kitchen table. Slowly and with a steady hand that defied her increasing years, she poured the punch in to the waiting bowl and carried it through to the living room, placing it with the matching cup. Then, just as she knew she would, she heard voices coming whispering along the cobbled street where her stout cottage stood proudly. She quickly moved into position behind the rose embroidered curtains and there, just as she moved out of sight she saw them. Her heart starting racing as she watched the children, gazing in wonder at the creepy tableau. She heard someone say ‘shhh, listen, can you hear the groaning, how does she do it?’ She smiled. She saw Bobby Sawyer, dressed just like her vampire. Sally Briggs, as she suspected she would, had done a fine job of replicating her witch. That annoying boy Arthur Simons had come as her zombie. She knew she shouldn’t have favourites but she really hadn’t wanted him to copy one of her creations. Oh well, another year maybe.

She stood hidden from view for what felt like minutes but she knew must have been closer to two hours. It was always the same, waiting all year for this one night and then it went by so quickly. She hadn’t found anyone yet to share her special punch with and she knew that time was running out. There had been some excellent costumes go past her garden but none that had caught her eye. Someone must surely have some imagination…and then, as the last of the children headed for home, the thought of sweet treats now uppermost in their minds, she saw a solitary figure standing at the gate that led from her garden to her front door. It was obscured by the Clown so she couldn’t quite make out who it was. She moved ever so slightly from her hiding place. She heard moaning and knew she would have to do something now before they got too restless. She peered out again and her heart leapt. Joy of joys, it was a scarecrow. Little Francis Flint, if she wasn’t mistaken. A scarecrow, how wonderful. She didn’t have a scarecrow. She went to the front door and opening it she gestured with one gnarled hand sweetly to Francis, the punch cup in the other hand, steaming gently with her special brew…’Welcome to Miss Tizzle’s my dear’.

The Forgotten Asylum

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Perched on a cliff, over looking the sea, the abandoned graveyard sits. A bitterly cold and bleak place to stand over an open grave, with no shelter from the fierce North Sea and the biting cold wind. No flowers grow here, only thistles with roots of steel survive and thrive. The headstones bear no names, only numbers, for buried here are the bones of the insane, the inmates of the forgotten asylum.

Dragged kicking and screaming over the threshold to a lifetime of torture and humiliation, each mentally afflicted wretch stripped of their identity, heads tattooed with a number and left to fester with every sickness of the mind. Disease was rife, the weakest, the luckiest, succumbed swiftly. The unfortunate ones, those with bodies stronger than their minds, endured years of suffering. Tormented by the plague that infested their heads, they roamed inside the walls of their prison, fighting a never ending battle against thoughts they could not escape.

As bodies fell, they were buried with neither compassion nor humanity, the only reminder of who they had once been the number crudely etched on the headstones. They were not destined to rest in peace and so each night, as the moon emerges out of the black sea, the lost souls of The Cemetery awaken.

 

Goodbye Summer

Smoky chimneys puff in to life
as the air grows sharper
and the nights start on time

Shiny, brown conkers dwell
underfoot, treasure for the
young and young at heart

Leaves fall and grow crisp,
perfect for squeaky wellies
to scrunch with delight

Fat, amber pumpkins
with glowing, bright faces,
shiny, red apples bobbing
gently in buckets

Bonfires burning while
sparklers are twirling,
bursts of bright colours
explode in the sky

Steaming, sweet mugs full
of sticky hot chocolate
give a glow to your insides
then light up your cheeks

The promise of glistening
snow when trees twinkle
with tinsel and hearts
are full with dreams of
Christmas Day.

The Black Hole

I am the darkness
inside your head,
I crumble your spirit,
make you long to be dead

I erase every colour
that brightens your world,
leave you gasping for air
as your life it unfurls

All the laughter and joy
are swept down the drain,
as I poison your mind
with unspeakable pain

The black hole it deepens
with each passing day,
no strength to climb out
nor keep the demons at bay

A life not worth living,
no light to be seen,
a tunnel to nowhere
full of silent screams.

Death

What does it feel like
when you come to call?
Will I recognise your face?
Will you be fat or thin or tall?

Will you wear a cloak of darkness
that obscures your face from view?
Will I sense when you are coming?
Will you somehow send a clue?

Will family long passed
wait to welcome me with love?
Will you tell them that I’m coming?
Will they watch me from above?

Will I feel like I am flying?
Will I sink right through the clouds?
Will my babies know I miss them?
Will I always wear my shroud?

Can I have some extra special time
to love and laugh and live?

I’m not ready yet to meet you

I have so much more to give.

Ignorance

I see you turn
your face away,
pretending I’m
not here

Do be careful
not to stumble
as you run
away in fear

You look so
fucking stupid
Do you know that?
Can you see?

You’re still visible
Still ignorant
Still a friend?
You used to be

But times have
changed,
I see that now.
I am dirty,
damaged goods

I’m the nightmare
living close to you,
I’m the darkness
in the woods

But blindness
won’t erase me,
will not cure what
can’t be healed

Go on and hide,
I see it now,
Your true nature
has been revealed.