The Mystery Man/Spectral #writephoto

spectral

Photo by Sue Vincent

She didn’t know what it was about the shell of what was left of Haverley Manor that fascinated her.  This morning as mist covered it and the surrounding area, giving it a ghostly appearance.  Perhaps it was the figure of a man walking across the fields and appearing at the first window which drew her here on this grey and cold morning.  She adjusted the bonnet upon her head and drew her coat closer about her.

The man stood at the window still as a statue.  Who was he?  Was he real?  She shook her head impatiently.  Of course, he’s real, Hettie, she chided herself Ghosts don’t exist. They’re just figments of people’s imaginations.  She was getting closer to the structure when she heard a man call out to her.

She stopped and turned around.  He was stocky with long whiskers and carrying a rifle.  His face was ruddy and he looked to be middle-edged.  “What is your business here, Miss?” he asked.

“Are you the caretaker?” she asked.

He shook his head.  “No, Miss.  The name’s Finnegan and I was just passing by on my way to shoot some pheasant when I saw you going towards the remains of the old manor.  It isn’t safe.”

“The day before yesterday I saw a man go into the manor.  He’s there now.”

The man looked past her.  “I don’t see ‘im, Miss.”

She turned.  “But, he’s right there at the window on the second floor.”

“That’s impossible, Miss.  The structure is nothing but a shell.  There’s no way anyone can be up there.”

Frustrated, she turned and pointed.  “I’m telling you, he’s there.  I saw him go in just a few moments ago and he’s standing at the window now.  I can’t believe that you don’t see him.”

The man shook his head in bewilderment.  There wasn’t anyone at the window.  Perhaps, this young lady had a fanciful imagination.  “Miss, there’s only one way to settle this.”  He started toward the manor.

She followed him, her heart pounding with excitement as she looked up and saw the tall figure at the window.  Now, she was going to get a good look at this mystery man.

Finnegan walked around the back and watched the color drain from her face.  “You see, Miss.  It’s just a shell.  There’s no way that anyone could have been at the window like you said, unless he’s a ghost.  What did the man look like?”

It took several moments for her to gather her wits in order to speak.  “He appeared to be tall, pale with black hair and a slight limp.”

Finnegan looked startled.  “It can’t be,” he exclaimed.

“You know the man.  Who is he?”

“He was Abram Chaddesley, the late master of Haverley Manor–”

“The late master? You mean he’s dead?”

“Yes, Miss.  He died when lightning struck the manor.  It was reported that he was standing at the window on the second floor when it happened.  He was the only one who perished.”

“How-how long ago did this happen?”

“Thirty years ago, Miss.”  He stared at her.  She didn’t look a day over nineteen.  How could she have seen Master Chaddesley as he was before he died?  It just wasn’t possible.  “We best be leaving, Miss,” he suggested.  “You look a little peaked.”

“Yes, I feel a bit faint,” she gasped, clutching his arm for support.

“Do you live far?”

“No, no, I live at Ramstead Place.”

“I shall take you there, Miss.”

“Thank you.  You’re very kind.”

“It’s no trouble at all.”  He steadied her as they left the remains and started across the field.

She wanted to look back but was afraid to.   After that day, she never set foot near that place again.

This was written in response to the Thursday Photo Prompt – Spectral  for Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Source:  Mental Floss

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The Trees/Caught #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

I stood gazing up at the tree.  It was unlike anything I had ever seen.  It was twisted with a gaping hole through which the sun streamed through and its limbs looked like tentacles.  Of course, it got my imagination running wild.  I imagined that it was an alien tree planted among normal trees.  It fascinated and repulsed me at the same time.  At any moment, I expected it to come alive like the trees in Lord of the Rings.

I sat down in the grass beside it and opened my notebook.  It never occurred to me to write a story about a tree but this one begged to be my next subject.  I pondered for a long moment, wondering what could one possibly say about a tree?  Then, I began to write.  The words began to pour out, filling an entire page.

Suddenly, I became very drowsy.  My eyes felt so heavy.  I fought to keep them open but I couldn’t…

I had no idea how long I had dozed off for but when I opened my eyes, it was getting dark.  The sun was setting.  It’s bright orange glow blazed across the sky and engulfing the trees in its fiery splendor.   The trees.  With a start I realized that they weren’t regular trees anymore and they were talking among themselves.  Shaking with fear, I tried to figure out how I could slip away unnoticed.

I closed my notebook and began to creep away, hoping to put as much distance between them and me as possible.  Then, I felt something on my leg and I turned around.  The alien tree was bending towards me and I could see that it had a face where the hole used to be.  It didn’t look like an Ent.  What was it? 

As if it read my mind, it said in a low, deep voice, “I am Gargantwart.  The Ents, I and others like myself protect humans from the tree trolls which invade the forest as soon as night falls.  Quick, climb onto my branch and I will take you to the edge of the forest where you will be safe.  No time to delay.  The sun will soon depart and darkness will come.”

I had two choices, make a dash for it and risk running into the tree trolls or climb on this monstrous tree and have it take me to safety.  The sound of what sounded like thunder, the shaking of the ground and the other trees, yelling, “Hurry, they are coming,” made my mind up for me and in one leap, I was in the tree and clinging for dear life to its branches.

When it stood up, I had to close my eyes because I’m acrophobic.  I felt the breeze on my face, heard the swooshing sound of the wind in the leaves and the sensation of moving through the forest.  It was a weird experience–one that no one would believe.  Then, we stopped moving.  And I felt myself being lowered.

When I opened my eyes I realized that I was lying on the sofa in the living-room and my brother was staring at me.  Startled, I sat up.  The television was on and the closing credits for Lord of the Rings were rolling.  Dazed, I looked around me, trying to figure out what had happened.  My opened notebook lay beside me and written in it were paragraphs of my story.

“You slept through the rest of the movie,” my brother informed me.

I stared at him.  “Movie?”

“Yes, sleepyhead.  We were supposed to be watching Lord of the Rings but, you fell asleep right when they were showing the Ents, the coolest part of the movie.”  He shook his head.  “Sisters, I’ll never understand them.”

I sat there, thinking, this had all been a fanciful dream.  Smiling, I picked up my pen and began to write.

This is written in response to the Thursday Photo Prompt – Caught for Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Sources:  Wikipedia; Masterpiece Generator

Memories

She sat on the beach, watching

the sun set over the sea.  This

was her favorite spot.  She came

here every Father’s Day since her

Dad died six years ago.

 

She missed him terribly.

A heart attack had claimed

his life and robbed her of

the joy of having him give

her away at her wedding.

And it robbed his grandson

of knowing the most

amazing man in the world.

 

She smiled as she remembered

the times when she was a little

girl and he used to bring her

to the beach.  They would sit

facing the sea and he would

tell her all sorts of exciting

stories about pirates and their

adventures at sea.  Her

imagination would run

wild and she wished she

could be out at sea on those

ships with him.

 

For her twelfth birthday

he bought her a ship in a

bottle.  Every night before

she went to bed, she held it

in her hands as if it were the

most precious thing she had

ever seen.  It was because

it was from her Dad.

 

She still had that bottle

and whenever she saw it

she remembered her Dad

and his stories of the sea.

One day she would tell

her son about his grandfather

and bring him to this beach

which held so many wonderful

memories for her.

 

sunset (1)

Stress

What is stress?  For some it is trying to prioritise the many projects they have undertaken and making decisions.  For others it is moving to another apartment; raising a family; going for a job interview; meeting their future in-laws.  Stress is knowing that the deadline for an article is fast approaching and you just can’t seem to find the time to sit down and write it.  Stress is having to wait another 15 minutes for a bus because the first driver did not stop even though he saw you dashing across the street, your arms flailing.

Then there is good stress like having a child; getting married or getting that promotion you always wanted.  These are stressful because they are big chances.  For each there are greater responsibilities and a lot of adjustments to make.

Stress can result from an overactive imagination.  Take Susan for example.  She invited her boyfriend for lunch for the first time.   She worried that she wouldn’t get home from church in time to prepare the meal.  She worried that he wouldn’t get a parking space.  She worried that he wouldn’t be able to eat chicken or turkey because she wasn’t sure if he was a vegetarian.  She worried that she would be so nervous that she would spill or break something.  Well, her boyfriend got a parking space as soon as he arrived.  Not only did he eat the chicken and the turkey but he had seconds.  Lunch went very well.  The only setback was that it was not long enough.  Susan had allowed herself to get stressed out because she imagined the worst.  Stress robs us of a peace of mind and rest.

Many of us have spent sleepless nights because of stress.  We lie awake worrying about that presentation we have to make to very important clients; a job interview or final exams.  A lot of times stress is self-induced.  We worry and fret unnecessarily and only succeed in giving ourselves high blood pressure. 

How do we cope with stress?  Taking time out is always a good idea and doing something else such as going for walks in the neighbourhood or in the park.  Around this time of year it is especially nice because of the changing colours of the leaves and the air is fresh.  Fresh air helps to clear the mind.  Exercise is another option.  Walk off the stress on the treadmill or pump it out of your system as you lift weights.  Read a book or flip through a magazine.  Pick up the phone and call a friend.  It helps to talk to someone.