Legacy of the Lake

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The pregnancy hadn’t been a good one. Juliet had been bedridden for most of it. The birth was a struggle too.  Afterwards she barely found strength to hold Sacha. The beautiful baby girl was named after Jake’s grandmother.

“Do you want me to go? I can leave you to get some sleep if you like.” Jake asked.

He worried as he looked at her exhausted pale face, and the dark rings under her eyes.

“No, stay. Dad will be here soon, stay until he leaves. Talk to him for me. I’m just so tired, but I want him here, I want him to see Sacha.” her voice trembled, “Wish mum was still here.”

Jake reached out and put his hand over Juliet’s. “She’s here, she’s watching you.”

“But I don’t feel her. How do I know?” She shivered. “It’s so cold in here.”

Jake took another blanket from the closet and tucked her in. There that should keep you warm. “I’ll be back in a second,”

He found a nurse “Whats wrong with her? Why is she so weak? It’s 24 hours since she had the baby, shouldn’t she start to feel better? I’m worried, I don’t want to lose her.”

“We’ll watch her, she’ll get better everything looks fine, but she’s exhausted. The trauma of losing her mother isn’t helping. Did the police ever figure out what happened? Was it suicide?”

Jake hung his head. “Can’t see she’d kill herself, but why would she get so close to the lake in her wheelchair? Tragic accident is what they’re saying.”

The shadows in Juliet’s room gathered unseen around the crib. Sacha slept, swaddled in blankets as a dozen eyes looked down at her. She’s perfect they whispered she’ll be ours soon. The keeper of the lake.

Juliet didn’t hear them, she was slipping away into a drug induced haven, blocking out a terror she didn’t yet know, just like her mother before her. The family legacy continued and Sacha was next in line.

 

These Old Bones

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Sunday – a day of rest.

I wish!

I’m sixty (I whisper that number quietly in my head). Never thought I’d live to see this age. A child of the fifties, I thought I’d stay young forever. I guess we all think that, but here I am SIXTY!

Weekends used to be spent partying, dancing, sleeping late, and then if I could find time, doing housework. I had lots of energy back in the day, it wasn’t a problem. My body isn’t quite as flexible anymore. Yesterday I cleaned house, worked on the yard (yes all 3 1/2 acres), cooked and baked. I rose at 6:30 am and by the time I sat down, it was 6:30 pm.

I forgot my age and when I got out of bed this morning THESE OLD BONES ACHED

Nice Day for a Wet Wedding!

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Juliet discovered she was pregnant a month before the wedding. It wasn’t a problem, unless morning sickness spoiled the big day. She was happy, and so was Jake. Pregnancy meant no wild hen party (or bachelorette party as her American friends called it), but that was OK, she could put it on hold until after the baby was born, something to look froward to.

Then the big day came. May 15th. She was awoken by someone tapping on her bedroom door.
“Is the bride ready for breakfast?”
“Come on in dad, I’m awake”
He dad carried a tray laden with goodies. Fruit, coffee, brioche, jam.
“You’re the best dad in the world!”
“I just want to spoil my little girl while I can. Why are you crying? Don’t cry. You still want to get married don’t you?”
“I’m crying because I’m happy!”
The quiet moment didn’t last long. The doorbell rang constantly after that as caterers, family, friends and neighbors showed up to help prepare for the big event. Juliet drank her coffee and nibbled some fruit, but was far too excited to eat more. She was marrying the man she loved. Life was good.

Stretching she slid out of bed and walked across to the window. The large marquee was set up out front and was bustling with activity. There were flowers, balloons, lights, tables, ribbons. Everything a girl could ask for and more. The sky was a perfect blue.
I’m so lucky, nothing could spoil this moment.

Juliet was wrong!

As she slipped into her beautiful white wedding dress thunder rumbled, and it wasn’t in the distance, it was right overhead. She shivered! Please don’t rain on my wedding day! By the time the bridesmaids had fixed her veil the first big drops of rain splattered on the ground.
“I hope the marquee is waterproof.” she joked, but she wasn’t laughing inside. Something bothered her. When she saw Jake waiting for her in the marquee, she stopped worrying. The sight of him filled her with happiness. His hair was cut shorter than normal and made him look like a school boy again. She remembered their first prom together and smiled and walked towards him.

As the ceremony began, the intensity of the rain increased. By the time they exchanged vows they had to shout to be heard.

The happy couple said I do, kissed and then turned to face their guests. They were finally man and wife!

Something caught Julia’s eye at by the entrance at the side. A woman stood dripping with water. She was dressed in black. A dark veil covered her face. Juliet stopped smiling when she saw her. Something was wrong, something tugged at her memory. Who is that? The woman lifted her veil revealing her face.

Juliet’s face.

Jake tried to hold onto his bride, but she fell to her knees.

Juliet fainted.

Where are you Juliet?

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Gasping for breath, Jake sat up. He was cold! Where am I?
Are you okay?”
Juliet looked at him, concern in her big brown eyes.
“I must have fallen asleep. I had a weird dream.”
He put his arms around his new fiancée and hugged her close, kissing the top of her head. She smelled good. The mists of his nightmare faded as she lifted her face and kissed him again.
“What did you dream?” she asked.
“I can’t really remember, I think I was drowning!”
“Well there isn’t much chance of that happening is there”? You were the champion of the swim team in high school. No drowning for you Jake”
He smiled at her and kissed her again, pulling her close, feeling the warmth of her body close to him.
“When shall we get married. I want to wake up next to you every morning for the rest of my life.”
“Next June,” Juliet replied, “everyone loves a June wedding.”
She stood up and walked down to the lake, dipping her toes into the cool clear water. Jake shivered, but he didn’t know why. Juliet turned and reached out to him, here
come sit by the water for a while, it feels good. They sat with their toes in the water, the sunset and fading light turning the lake’s surface red.
It looks like Hell!
“I’ve never told anyone this before, but I got a bad scare down here one night. I thought I saw a lady in the middle of the lake.” Juliet said as she gazed into the distance.
“What, you mean in a boat or something?”
“No, it was weird and scary she was just hovering there. Half of her body was under the water. She had long hair. I know it was just the light playing tricks with me, but it scared the crap out of me. I thought it was a ghost.”
“Did you ever see her again?” Jake could hardly get the words out of his mouth as his dream flooded his brain. The sun was gone and the remaining light played tricks with the shadows. He began to shiver. He took hold of Juliet’s hand. It was as cold as ice. When he looked at their reflection in the still water he froze.
He was alone!

The Lady in the Lake – was it me?

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A college grad! She couldn’t believe it. 22 years old!

“Mum, I’m home!”

SURPRISE!!!!!!

The quiet dark house exploded into a mess of bright light and excited voices. Juliet stood in the doorway as a sea of happy faces rushed towards her. She was pummeled with hugs and kisses. The party started in the early afternoon and didn’t ease up until after six. Finally she found a quiet place in the garden and sat down to catch her breath. A hand touched her shoulder. It was Jake, they’d been sweethearts since high school.

“Your parents did you proud, were you expecting this?”

“Are you kidding? I had no idea. I was sad they couldn’t come to see me graduate, but mum’s illness makes things tough. This was fantastic. Did you help?”

Jake smiled “A little. Lets take a walk by the lake. I want you to myself for a while.”

They walked hand in hand down the hill, the fading sunlight reflected on the distant glassy surface. Juliet shivered and stopped in her tracks.

“Are you cold? Shall we go back?”

“No, I’m okay, someone walked over my grave that’s all!”

“What a weird expression that is, I wonder where it came from?” Jake said as he put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her closer.

They sat on a bench close to the water and kissed. A romantic setting, the sort of setting that begged a proposal! Juliet said yes and they kissed again, softly, lovingly and then with unbridled passion.

Afterwards they walked to the edge of the lake and sat for a while, dipping their fingers into the shallow water, it was cool, clean. Jake turned his back for a moment, there was no splash, no scream for help, but when he turned around again Juliet was gone.

“Juliet, this isn’t funny, where are you?”

Silence. “Juliet?”

He looked at the water, its glassy surface was still.

“Juliet!”

She looked at him from the depths of the lake, a wicked smile on her face. I was lonely, but it won’t last forever. I’ll have you with me, I’ll catch you.

I’m the lady in the lake and I take what I want.

“Jake I want you!

Secrets of the Lake

Juliet was only LakeLadyfifteen the first time she saw the lady in the lake. She’s taken a short cut on her way home from theater class at school and stopped to rest under the shade of a Weeping Willow. With her back up against the trunk, she inhaled the sweet evening air.

The lake was a beautiful shade of sunset and she wished she had a camera to capture it.

At first she thought the shape in the middle of the lake was a log, but it was too tall. The lake was deep, very deep. Police divers had scoured it for a missing child a couple of years earlier and she’d heard one of them talking to her mam about it’s surprising depth.

Juliet stood up and walked to the water’s edge, hoping to get a better look. Were her eyes playing tricks with her? Clear as can be, in the middle of the lake, was a woman. She appeared to be waist deep in water, which wasn’t possible. Her face wasn’t visible because because she looked down into the water. Long black hair trailed on it’s glassy surface.

“Hey there, hello, do you need help? HELLO!”

No answer.

Shall I go for help?”

No answer.

There was a boat tied up by a little jetty on the far bank, but it would take a half hour or so to get there. The woman must surely be treading water, she’d be dead by then.

What do I do? I’m not a strong swimmer, if I tried to save her I’d drown!

She looked back at the lake, the empty lake, it’s smooth surface reflected the setting sun like a mirror. There wasn’t even a ripple in the water.

The light began to fade fast and Juliet knew she wouldn’t get home before dark. She shivered, eager to be away from the lake and its secrets.

She burst through the front door of her house, happy to be enveloped in warmth and light. Her dad sat in his favorite chair, watching television, he looked up when she walked in!

“Whatever’s wrong pet? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!”

In 2013 I published my first novel Dead of July – Amazon. Life has kept me pretty busy since then, but I’m writing again and soon hope to release a compilation of short stories – Ghosts on the Sand and other Northern Tales. I love writing stories about the North of England, its where I was raised. 

Ghosts on the Sand

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The sun slid behind a cloak of darkness while I cowered on the sand terrified and alone. A flaming ball of fire burned a path through the darkened sky tumbling towards me. Closing my eyes, I waited to die. An earth-shattering explosion rocked the beach. A volcano of hot gushing water erupted from the waves. Angry flames reached out hungrily, looking for something to devour. Strangers emerged from thin air, running towards the fire, shouting to one another in a language I didn’t understand. The watery inferno illuminated their fear stricken faces. Shadowy figures floated slowly towards the shore, bobbing up and down grotesquely in the shallow water. Trembling I closed my eyes and prayed. Was this a nightmare?

My new book is almost ready for the first round of editing. Here’s a small preview from “Ghosts on the Sand”

This story will feature in a compilation with three other short stories. I’m aiming to release it at the end of the year.

 

Not Alone!

candle-in-darkA solitary figure walked through the deserted streets. With every turn plunged he was plunged into deeper, darker shadows as he walked into the bowels of the city, but he wasn’t alone.

“Where are you leading me?” he said to no one.

He came to a dead-end, a courtyard.

“What now?” he asked.

Looking around him he felt hopeless, lost, but he didn’t feel alone. A candle burned in a small grimy window. The only light in the gloom. No wait, there was a door. A slither of light escaped beneath it.

The hinges creaked as he pushed it open and entered a tiny room. He stood for a while as his eyes accustomed to the darkness. The room was empty, but he heard whispers, was someone praying? Following the sound he walked carefully through a darkened archway. A woman sat in the far corner, next to a bed. She turned as he entered.

“Father, how did you know?”

She was holding the hand of an old man. His breath was uneven ragged.

“He’s ready to leave us.” she said. “Bless him Father, help him move on.”

The good father crouched down beside them and held their hands. Eyes closed, they prayed together.

Father Rafferty stood up, his old knees crackling as he did so. The ragged breathing had stopped. He turned to the old lady to offer her comfort, but she was gone. Was she ever there?

The smell of roses tantalized the air and Father Rafferty looked around. A beautiful young woman stood behind him. Her eyes sparkled with life and happiness. She held her hand out, not to him, but to the old man in the bed beyond. A cool breeze passed by him as a young man rose from the old body on the bed.

The young couple embraced and faded into the night.

All that was left was candle light and the smell of roses.

Its all in the eyes.

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The were only two people in the waiting room.

“Mr and Mrs Liddle?”

“Yes, are you going to take us to our daughter, is she okay?”

The Dr. ushered them to sit down, talking to them as he did so.

“It’s not a good time to see her right now. She’s unconscious and we still haven’t figured out whats wrong with her. I was wondering if you could tell me anything about her current health.”

June’s parents looked at each and shook their heads before answering.

“Fit as a fiddle! She’s on the school running team, she swims, she’s in a dance group. Really she’s fine. Why are you asking, whats wrong with her?”

“She’s very sick right now. Did you notice any change in her weight, or any stomach problems?”

June’s mum replied. “What? no! She eats like a horse because of all the exercise she does. I went shopping with her last weekend, to get a new outfit for her cousin’s wedding. She’d actually dropped a dress size, she’s down to a size 8. In fact I wish she’d put some weight on. Why are you asking?”

The Dr. didn’t have time to answer. A nurse ran into the waiting room.

“We need you NOW!”

He ran after her, back into the room where June lay. She was covered in blood. One of the nurses had a bundle of blankets in her hand.

“What the hell is going on here?” The Dr. yelled.

“Emergency C-Section! We had not choice, this little fella would have clawed his way out if we hadn’t.”

The doctor looked at the bundle she was holding. A perfect baby boy looked back at him.

Meanwhile, at the other side of the world, a baby girl was born after a very short pregnancy. She was cute as a button. She was normal in every way, except for her eyes.