Carrie Sorenson · Debb Stanton · Flash Fiction · Leanne Sype · Nicole Pyles · Tena Carr · Writer Wednesday Blog Hop

Surviving the night – A WWBH post

This post is part of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, a weekly meme designed to inspire creativity and encourage sharing of stories.

The hop is co-hosted by myself over at Reading, Writing and Everything in Between, Leanne Sype at Writings and Ruminations, Tena Carr at Jottings and Writings and the newest member of our team, Debb Stanton at Stanton Sunshine. Welcome to the team Debb!!!

The challenge this week is to write a piece of flash fiction in up to 500 words, using one picture and five random words as inspiration. All of these elements need to be incorporated into your story somewhere.

This weeks picture:

 

This weeks words:                            shout, sieve, degree, pile, planning.

 

This weeks story:

Surviving the night

I was alive. I had survived, when everything within me was convinced I wouldn’t be opening my eyes again in this world.

        I shifted my body weight and the stiffness in my legs protested. It didn’t stop there either, the discomfort traveling up my back to my shoulders in increasing degrees of pain. Sitting up, my skin responded to the coldness, making me shiver up and down. My fingers and toes ached as I tried to encourage some life into them, and I could see my breath surrounding me as I tried to use it to add heat into my hands.

         Some of the ache in my hands was from the cold I knew, but some of it was from gripping the ax handle too tightly as I’d waited for sleep to take me. The locked doors of the car would provide little protection, but grabbing the best weapon I could and getting myself hidden inside something was all the planning I’d had time for. I thanked my lucky stars again and again that I’d parked away from the buildings, hidden from view within the trees. It only went a small way to compensate for the complete failure of the engine to start, but I was glad for it now.

        My sleeve became damp as I wiped the condensation from the back window, and I peered through the morning mist looking for any kind of movement. The choice of location was much more remote than the last party, and I couldn’t help thinking now that the decision had been deliberate. In the middle of these fields, at least three miles from the nearest main road, you could shout your heart out and nobody would hear. And a lot of people had tried. What little I dreamed had all been filled with the shouts and screams of frightened, escaping people. All piled on top of each other trying to flee the barns, and only fueling the thirst of that which sought to devour them.

         All was quiet now though, the mist seeming to sieve out all the usual morning sounds. My stomach grumbled as I looked all around. If I tried the engine again it would draw attention in this silence, but I needed to get away and I wasn’t keen on making a break for it on foot. From what I saw of these things from last night, they certainly didn’t conform to any rules I knew of, which meant I wasn’t taking any chances.

         My heart pounded as one of the barn doors opened gently, the shadows from within coming forward into the light. There was no way to tell how many there could be in there. I was concentrating so much on trying to see them, I had no warning when the one hiding in the trees launched itself at the side of my car.

 
Word count: 477
 
 

Carrie Sorenson · Flash Fiction · Leanne Sype · Nicole Pyles · Tena Carr · Writer Wednesday Blog Hop

Appear/Disappear – A WWBH post

This post is part of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, a weekly meme designed to inspire creativity and encourage sharing of stories.

For more information and to see my other stories, check out my Writer Wednesday Blog Hop tab.

The challenge is to write a piece of flash fiction in up to 500 words, using two pictures as inspiration.

This weeks contribution:

Appear/Disappear

Nobody knew where the object had come from or how it had appeared without drawing attention. One night the sun had set on the open space of the promenade, and the next morning the silver, ring shaped spectacle was there.

Big silver bean in Millenium Park.

We didn’t live in a quiet city either, there was plenty going on late into the night and early hours, but still its arrival was a mystery. It had just brought itself into existence without flash or fanfare.
 
        Simon had been mesmerised from the moment he set eyes on it. We went to see it together, and as we got closer it loomed overhead, blocking out the sun. We gazed up at our reflections, our bodies elongating as they curved around it. We dared to walk beneath, right into the centre where the sun shone through once again. As we did I noticed it began to hum gently, responding to something close by. Nobody else seemed to notice, so I kept this observation to myself.
 
        It certainly drew the crowds and Simon took full advantage, moving his busking spot right next it. He set his guitar case on the floor, donned his signature hat and glasses and began playing. Business was slow to begin with, the visitors barely paid him any attention as they wandered around and admired the object.
 
        But as he continued playing, something strange began to happen. It was very subtle to start with, and in the dazzling sunlight was easily missed, but the surface of the object started to change from its silvery, reflective surface, and instead colours danced across its surface.
 
        When he Dad's Guitar 005played a more up-tempo song the colours were bright and radiant, yellows, reds, oranges, all chasing each other quickly around. For slower, more sombre pieces the colours turned to blue and green, seeming to merge into one another gradually without any urgency at all.
 
        It didn’t take long for the crowds to pick up on the connection, and assumed Simon was doing something to it somehow. His case filled rapidly with coins, reflecting the appreciation of the entertainment.
 
        Simon was transfixed and the object seemed just as interested in him. He stayed all day, experimenting with different styles to see what it would do, and insisted on playing long after the sun went down. The colours seemed even more dramatic in the darkness, and it only intensified his efforts. I didn’t have the stamina though, and said my goodbyes before heading home. I’m not sure he even noticed me go.
 
        The next morning when I arrived with coffee and bagels, Simon was nowhere to be seen. And neither was the object. It had disappeared as smoothly and covertly as it had arrived, leaving no trace that it had even been there. The only evidence of Simon was his guitar case, overflowing with coins now, his hat and his sunglasses. It was like he’d never been there either. Looking towards the sky, I wondered where they had gone, and if I’d ever see either of them again.
 
Word count: 504

Carrie Sorenson · Flash Fiction · Leanne Sype · Nicole Pyles · Tena Carr · Writer Wednesday Blog Hop

Looking for Home – A WWBH post

This post is part of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, a weekly meme designed to inspire creativity and encourage sharing of stories.

For more information and to see my other stories, check out my Writer Wednesday Blog Hop tab.

The challenge is to write a piece of flash fiction in up to 500 words, and this time using one picture and five words.

The picture:

20140324-101651.jpg

 

The words:                            body, person, silky, crack, pleasure

The story:

Looking for Home

Another life, a whole other world. The memories were fresh in my mind, if not in anyone else’s. But then how could they be, I’m the only one who traveled from that place to this. Every other person was already here, this is all they’ve ever known.

It’s not hugely different I suppose. The landscape is the same, all the cities and buildings within them are the same. Yet, everybody‘s strange here. People are so absorbed in their own internal world they hardly notice anyone else around them. On my first day here I had three people try to walk through me as though I didn’t exist.

At first I thought it was just me, maybe I wasn’t there, maybe the journey had done something to me, made me invisible. This theory was dismissed though after other people shouted at me for being in their way. After that I tried to make myself as small as possible, dodging my way through the cracks in the crowd, not drawing attention to myself.

My arrival hadn’t registered with any of these people, which surprised me. There was plenty of noise and a whirlpool large enough for me to fit through. Surely these things weren’t common enough to be ignored, considered insignificant. Perhaps I was wrong. The initial pleasure I’d felt at successfully navigating the time spiral had dispersed quickly once I got a sense of the place.

Everything was so noisy here, I wondered how anyone managed to make any sense of it all. I wandered the streets for as long as I could stand it, gathering data to take home, but it all became too much and I had to seek the solace of the park. It seemed to be on the outskirts of this city, and I managed to find the outer edge, as far from the chaos as I could manage. Amongst the trees I could still hear the noise of their strange vehicles droning in the background, but I could lose myself a little in the silky black of the night sky.

I had to try and find a way to get back home again. This place wasn’t somewhere that our Elders had in mind as a refuge. I’d rather stay in my home when the end came than have to live a whole day here. But I needed a power source.

My thoughts were interrupted by loud noises charging through the trees. Shouts were behind the noise and soon lights appeared to accompany the roar. Three of the natives had appeared on strange two-wheeled vehicles I’d never seen before. They sounded powerful and an idea began to form in my mind. Maybe these strange things would have enough power to create the return whirlpool I needed, maybe I wouldn’t be stuck here until the Elders opened the window for me. I studied the newcomers as they set up some kind of camp, waiting for an opportunity to seize one of their machines.

Word count: 496

Carrie Sorenson · Flash Fiction · Leanne Sype · Nicole Pyles · Tena Carr · Writer Wednesday Blog Hop

A Welcome Revenge – A WWBH post

This post is part of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, a weekly meme designed to inspire creativity and encourage sharing of stories.

For more information and to see my other stories, check out my Writer Wednesday Blog Hop tab.

The challenge is to write a piece of flash fiction in up to 500 words, and we’re going back to our WWBH roots with one picture and five words.

The picture:

WineandCheese

 

The words:                    screwdriver, saucepan, barrel, spine, comb

The story:

A Welcome Revenge

‘You always have to be the odd one out, don’t you?’ I muttered as the others left the room.
‘I’m sure I don’t know what you mean, darling’ he replied, kissing me on the cheek before clearing the plates from the table. ‘Shall I take this through too? May as well finish them off.’
I looked at the platter of cheese he held out, trying to keep my blood on a slow simmer. He was doing it on purpose, of course, trying to get a reaction from me. I was determined not to give him the satisfacion.
As he headed through to our guests I stacked the plates by the sink, running the tap as I gathered the saucepans. I knew what he was doing, making every effort he could to show up my sisters new boyfriend. The last time it’d taken hardly any effort at all; for a so-called handy man he hadn’t known one end of a screwdriver from the other. Even I had to admit she’d been scraping the barrel with that one.
But she seemed really keen this time, and he was a decent guy. I didn’t want anything to put either of them off. It would be just like Ian to say something as part of his fun and send the guy running for the hills.
I sighed as I cleared the wine glasses away, three red and one white. He wasn’t even that keen on white wine, but anything to be different. Combing his hair the other way. Taking his lunch at different times. All just to stand out from the crowd. Sometimes I had to think hard about why I married him in the first place. My friends had tried to steer me away but I was young and in love I suppose.
Pushing unwanted thoughts from my mind, I quickly finished clearing the kitchen so I could go through and try and keep him under control. As I hummed quietly to myself a crash suddenly came from the living room.
Dropping everything I raced through, ready to berate Ian for his behaviour. ‘Ian, what have you … ‘ I stood halfway through the doorway in shock, my spine going cold as I took in the scene.
My sister stood over by the window, shaking as she slowly collapsed to the floor. Her dress was torn and hanging around her. On the floor was Ian, sprawled on his front where he’d landed on the glass coffee table.
And over by the fireplace was Karl, my sister’s new boyfriend, holding my mums cribbage trophy in his hand and staring at me as I burst in on the scene. Looking at them all, one after the other, my mind became clearer than it had done in years.
I smiled up at Karl, who looked at me, puzzled. ‘I’ll get the shovel,’ I said, leaving them both stunned as I left them with a new bounce in my step.

Word count: 497

Carrie Sorenson · Flash Fiction · Leanne Sype · Nicole Pyles · Tena Carr · Writer Wednesday Blog Hop

Unwanted Journey – A WWBH post

This post is part of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, a weekly meme designed to inspire creativity and encourage sharing of stories.

For more information and to see my other stories, check out my Writer Wednesday Blog Hop tab.

The challenge is to write a piece of flash fiction in up to 500 words, incorporating two given pictures into the tale. This week I bring you …

Unwanted Journey

Stepping out into the evening air, Henry drew his coat around his chin with one hand, the other grasping his grisly cargo. Glancing along the street, he kept his head down as he walked, barely noticing the lamps beyond the brim of his hat.

He set his pace as quickly as he dared, not wanting to draw attention to his haste but needing to arrive as soon as he could. This was an unenviable task, they all knew it, and tonight he’d been nominated. Nobody ever volunteered for this.

The further he walked, the less he felt the chill, and began to relax as he fell into his rhythm. The buildings were fading away around him, open fields and a few trees replacing them as his only companions. As he traveled, the sun drew closer to the horizon leaving a greyness in the sky that complimented the ground. He could still make out the neatly paved path of his journey as he approached, it had not yet faded into the twilight. It wound back and forth ahead of him, scraggly bushes on one side, and grass slipping down on the other where it descended into the valley. The shadows had already taken over down there, and Henry kept his focus on the path ahead. He’d heard this part of the task could play tricks on the mind, and he was determined to keep his clear.

The paving was even all along the path, no deviation from pattern or mis-shaped segments. He measured his stride to match them evenly, never stepping on cracks, placing his feet firmly in the centre of each one. He wasn’t superstitious by nature but right now every detail counted.

He’d felt relaxed so far, but as he crested the hill the chill returned to his bones. His palms began to sweat and he constantly adjusted his grip on the package, it’s weight seeming to increase as he neared the end of his journey.

Through the darkness now he could see the pedestal in the centre of the path, marking the end of his trip. Made of stone and standing waste high, its centre glowed a deep orange as it awaited its contribution.

Henry pushed his hat back absently as he made his approach, lifting the sack he’d been carrying and lowering it gently into place. As it sat there, the blood that had seeped from within began to drip down the side of the pedestal. At first it seemed random to Henry, until he saw the orange glow travel along the length of the stand ahead of the blood, itself following hidden grooves into the ground.

Although unseen, Henry could feel them watching and it took all his will not to turn and bolt. He knew he had to be patient, to wait and ensure the journey had been a success.

As he saw the spear point shoot through the front of his chest, he guessed in the end it hadn’t.

Word count: 495

Carrie Sorenson · Flash Fiction · Leanne Sype · Nicole Pyles · Tena Carr · Writer Wednesday Blog Hop

Survivor – A WWBH post

This post is part of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, a weekly meme designed to inspire creativity and encourage sharing of stories.

For more information and to see my other stories, check out my Writer Wednesday Blog Hop tab.

The challenge is to write a piece of flash fiction in up to 500 words, incorporating two given pictures into the tale. This week I bring you …

Survivor

The air within the house was heavy, clinging to the walls and ceiling. Nobody had been around in the weeks since the devastation, the windows shut tight, keeping in the musty scent of neglect. Through the grimy windows I could see the blue sky, seeming to mock the efforts of the salvage teams as we prodded and poked our way through what remained. Such a picture would have been far from possible when the bombs had been dropped, the flames and smoke spreading through the town.

Coffee and grinderThis house was the same as all the others, signs of immediate abandonment everywhere. Once the sirens had sounded there wasn’t much time for an orderly exit. This family had just been finishing their evening meal, the dirty plates and glasses still scattered over the kitchen table. Half eaten food now had little resemblance to anything edible, instead adding to the pungency that emanated throughout the place. On the worktop the after-dinner coffee had been dropped, the beans scattered all over and toppling onto the floor.

With nothing worth recovering in here, I made my way gradually through the rest of the house. The lack of noise made it an uncomfortable task. In any house there was often the expected creaks and groans of the structure, the humming of electrics, the clattering of human activity. All of that was absent here though.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In the main bedroom, empty suitcases lay open on the bed, a pile of clothes left in the middle of the floor where they’d been dropped halfway to being packed. It still baffled me that some people had been so willing to sacrifice their lives for such trivialities. I shuddered as I remembered the elderly couple, caught up in the flames while trying to load their car with family trinkets. Their burned remains still haunted me some nights, clinging to each other as they realised they had no escape.

Leaving the bedroom, my attention was distracted by a small noise from behind one of the other doors. My skin crawled as the realisation sunk in, how out of place it was in the silence of the house. I began to doubt myself, my own senses, when the noise came again, a scraping of nails against ceramics. Something was in the bathroom.

I felt myself become dizzy as I contemplated that thought. Something in the bathroom. Nothing was supposed to have survived, and we’d seen first hand what had happened to the natives who had lingered.

There was a shuffling now, coming closer to the door, coming closer to me. I had to leave, to tell someone that something had remained. It had to be dealt with before it could recover.

But somehow I was rooted to the spot, curiosity and fear battling it out within me. I couldn’t move as the door began to open, and whatever it was on the other side edged its fingers around the gap.

Word count: 486

Carrie Sorenson · Flash Fiction · Leanne Sype · Nicole Pyles · Tena Carr · Writer Wednesday Blog Hop

The Bringers – A WWBH post

This post is part of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, a weekly meme designed to inspire creativity and encourage sharing of stories.

For more information and to see my other stories, check out my Writer Wednesday Blog Hop tab.

So, this weeks pictures:

Scary (2752359285)

Scary

And this weeks story:

The Bringers

I didn’t see why I had to come, Hayley was more than capable of holding her own with this Chris guy. She’d hardly acknowledged me since mum had dropped us off anyway. I’m sure she was doing her best to lose me, and I was happy to let her if I was being honest. I liked it even less than she did, this plan that mum was using me for.
‘Make sure you keep an eye on her the whole time,’ she’d said to me, ‘don’t let her wander off alone with that boy.’
Too late, I thought, as I saw her blonde hair disappear behind a large blue and white tent. I could’ve quickened my pace a little, made sure to catch up and play tag-along, but that wasn’t how to get in her good graces and we both knew it.
Instead I wandered around, taking in the sights and sounds. The smell of popcorn and candyfloss wafted on the air from the end of a long queue waiting for the sugary treats, the sound of a generator not quite being drowned out by the music and chatter.
The brightly coloured clowns on one stall drew my attention, their gaping mouths and twisting heads staring out into the night expectantly, waiting for someone to feed their eternal hunger.
As I watched them turning back and forth, a shadow fell in front of me making me turn. Walking past me were five boys from my school, all a few years older.. The crowd parted for them and went silent, watching them go but trying to be subtle about it. Their long leather jackets billowed behind them, their heavy boots leaving prints behind in their wake.
The weather seemed to have turned with their arrival, the clouds overshadowing the bright moon and descending upon us, casting a mist all around. I could barely see the swings of the merry-go-round as it continued to turn in defiance of the arrivals.
I suppressed a shiver as the five carried on past me, most of them not even bothering to look at me. All except the last one, who looked younger than the others and vaguely familiar. As I realised he was actually from my own year at school, he stared deep into my eyes. One side of his mouth lifted slightly, a hint of a grin, and that image stayed with me for a long time.
My attention was caught by a scream then, breaking through the mist from the same direction I’d seen my sister disappear. As this realisation sank in I broke into a run, following the tracks of the heavy boots. I skidded to a halt as I rounded the corner and my eyes took in the scene. All five of them were standing in a circle with Chris, and they were all looking down at one thing. My sister’s body lying in a heap, unmoving.

Word count: 486

Carrie Sorenson · Flash Fiction · Leanne Sype · Nicole Pyles · Tena Carr · Writer Wednesday Blog Hop

Leaving – A WWBH post

This post is part of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, a weekly meme designed to inspire creativity and encourage sharing of stories.

For more information and to see my other stories, check out my Writer Wednesday Blog Hop tab.

So, this weeks pictures:

Chicago

20130803_203658

And this weeks story:

Leaving

Sitting here on the deck, my body keeps a rhythm with the sway of the ocean. The nachos I chose for lunch are as much as I can keep down, while my drink threatens to spill over.

It’s been at least two hours since I left the mainland, and I can only imagine what he’s thinking about me at this moment. I just couldn’t bring myself to face him, to look him in the eye and be honest. He’ll get the idea soon enough.

I just couldn’t be all the things he wanted me to be, no matter how much I wanted to or how much I tried. I want my own life, with my own interests, to explore what there is beyond the city.

I’d felt something within me yearning for a better life, wanting to persuade me to get out before it was too late, before my life was wasted. The idea had always remained in my mind though, a popular daydream to dwell on when things were boring me. It was happening more often than not lately too.

One afternoon, gazing out the office window at the sprawling city and busy traffic I had my epiphany moment. We heard the crash just after lunch, and down below we saw the aftermath of the four car collision. Smoke poured out from the vehicles, people were running all over, some screaming. There was a young woman I could see lying on the pavement, close to the accident site and not moving. From here she didn’t look much older than I was. I couldn’t take my eyes from her, and as I stared I realised she was gone. Her life had ended recklessly, and she wouldn’t be able to fulfill any of her dreams.

This thought sent a chill through me, one I found hard to ignore. What of my dreams? What had happened to them? They’d been buried deep down by the ambitions and plans of another. I couldn’t let them stay there, I needed to give them their own opportunity to flourish. But I knew he wouldn’t understand, wouldn’t let me go.

So here I am now, setting off on my own adventure. I haven’t told him where I’m heading, or even if I’ll be back. He’d only send his men after me to bring me back. How often he’d tell me about where my place was, what my duty was. There’s a tremor of fear in my limbs, but in my heart there is only excitement. Finally I am getting out from my life and doing something for myself.

The ferry may be making me sick, but despite that all I could feel was optimism and hope, and it felt wonderful …

Word count: 455

Carrie Sorenson · Flash Fiction · Leanne Sype · Nicole Pyles · Tena Carr · Writer Wednesday Blog Hop

Missing – A WWBH post

This post is part of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, a weekly meme designed to inspire creativity and encourage sharing of stories.

For more information and to see my other stories, check out my Writer Wednesday Blog Hop tab.

So, this weeks pictures:

20140114-165233.jpg

20140114-165409.jpg

And this weeks story:

Missing

‘And she hasn’t been seen since yesterday, you say?’ repeated the officer, making notes.

‘No,’ said the landlady, ‘I saw her come down for her paper before breakfast, but since then I’ve seen nothing, heard nothing.’ She sat at the dining table staring out the window and down the street. ‘I keep expecting her to walk through the door, or be walking home along the street.’

The officer glanced at the landlady and took a moment from his notes to pass her a box of tissues.

He wandered around the room, observing, absorbing, trying to get a sense of the young lady who had disappeared.

‘Have you tidied anything in here since yesterday?’ he asked.

‘No, nothing. The only thing I’ve done is put some food out for Chester, but he seems to have lost interest. He hasn’t moved from the sofa, just keeps staring at the door.’

‘Does he usually go out much?’

‘Only when she’s out or at work. As soon as she gets back he follows her in, and stays with her the whole time.’

‘And the breakfast?’ he gestured, ‘would that be, Chester’s is it?’

‘No, no,’ said the landlady, taking more tissues. ‘That was hers. What could have happened that she would leave her breakfast unfinished?’ She looked toward the officer, hoping he’d have the answer.

With a gentle smile he turned away and continued around the room. ‘Is this how she usually keeps the room?’

‘Yes, I-I think so.’

‘And, I assume this is her bag?’ he asked, lifting the handles with his pen. ‘Her purse appears to be inside, as well as keys.’

‘What does that mean?’

‘No signs of struggle, nothing stolen,’ he said, while scribbling down the details.

‘Is that good? Does that mean anything?’ asked the landlady, shifting to the edge of her seat now. ‘Maybe she’s just gone out and lost track of time.’

‘Without her keys?’ he wondered. ‘I’m afraid this opens more questions than it answers.’

He made one more sweep of the rooms before putting his notebook and pen away in his pocket.

The landlady jumped to her feet, ‘you’re not leaving already are you?’ she said quickly, ‘what about finding her?’

‘There’s not much more I can do today,’ he said, guiding her gently to the door. ‘I’ll make some enquiries and let you know.’

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Becky shuffled as much as she could in the confined space. Her arms ached from the restraints behind her back, and her ankles burned where the rope dug into her flesh. As she breathed deeper, trying to get some noise out, the tape around her mouth fluttered but didn’t budge. All she could do is look up through the floorboards, watching the officer and her landlady leave her in her prison. As they left and closed the door behind them, her hope went with them.

 

Word count: 475

Carrie Sorenson · Flash Fiction · Leanne Sype · Nicole Pyles · Tena Carr · Writer Wednesday Blog Hop

Family Time – A WWBH post

This post is part of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, a weekly meme designed to inspire creativity and encourage sharing of stories.

It’s been quite a while since I last joined in with this hop, and since then the lovely girls behind it all have jazzed up the format. Instead of having a picture and five words to include, there are now two pictures to trigger all that you can come up with.

So, this weeks pictures:

And this weeks story:

Family Time

As the last of the frost receded from the grass, we began to emerge from our enforced hibernation. For five days we’d been holed up in the house, all six of us and the dog. We’d prepared for it, provision-wise. I’d purposely stocked up on the essentials, plenty of meat to put in the freezer, enough canned goods so the cupboards were bursting.

It reminded me of when mum used to shop for Christmas, but at least then we’d get the festive treats to look forward to. This time it felt like we were locking down for the whole of winter.

With the sun shining high, the kids rushed to the hall in a frenzy grabbing for coats, hats and scarves. In all that time they’d had no chance to get out in the garden, let alone go out on their bikes. They were ready to blow off some steam, and I was more than happy to let them.

I watched them pile out, and then moved through the house, opening the windows wide to shift the stuffiness that had settled. As the breeze came through it blew the cobwebs out of my mind as much as out of the house.

Moving from room to room, I started picking up the remnants that had scattered over the last few days. Boards games were stacked on the table, DVDs and video games left open next to the television, mugs left in random places seemingly, just abandoned when something else became more appealing.

As much as the kids seemed to hate it, I’d actually enjoyed having everyone together for a while, spending time as a family for once. The older they got, the harder it seemed to be to get all four of them to be in the same room for more than half an hour.

It was nicer when Thomas was tiny, and the others all chipped in to help with him, and each other. At five years old the twins had been full of excitement about having a baby brother, and Louise felt all grown up when I left her in charge of any of them. I’d never told her I was only ever in the next room, but it was good to see her getting some confidence.

Just five years on though and they couldn’t wait to get out with their own friends, doing their own things. So often these days it was just me and Thomas, enjoying the quiet and space to be on our own.

After this week though I’m not sure if he could handle having the others around all the time. I popped my head round the door of the office and looked in on him and his daddy. While the elder Thomas worked away at the computer, the younger had snuggled up in the cardboard box leftover from the last delivery. Pillow under-head, he breathed deeply as he became lost in the land of his dreams. I wondered if it was quiet there …

Word count: 500