Tag Archives: 12 days of Christmas Blog Hop

12 Days of Christmas: Moon

It’s the final day of 12 Days of Christmas and this is my final offering, with a nod to the lovely @Rowanwolf66…and thanks for hosting this fun and inspirational Blog Hop.

Photograph by Lisa Shambrook (from my calendar!)
Some thought she was a witch, others thought she was gypsy, she didn’t care what anybody thought, as long as people stayed away.
The cabin was out in the back of the woods, and she had few visitors, if any, which was just how she liked it. 
People could gossip and talk as much as they liked, providing they kept themselves out of her business, and they did, on both counts. 
She kept herself to herself, coming into town just twice a week to collect supplies and trade. She grew vegetables that surpassed any grown in the region, and flowers, and made tinctures, tonics and sweet wine.  
The old women watched her with wrinkled wisdom, the middle-aged women with envy and the young with curiosity. The old men, middle-aged and young men…just watched.  
 A young girl living alone was a danger, they’d say…and they should have been right.  
Such was her beauty that some men made it through the forest in the deep of night, just for a sight of the maiden or for other unsavoury reasons, but rarely did any make it back without scratches and wounds and tales of a voracious hound, and some didn’t make it back at all.
She danced as dawn crept over the horizon, sang as she worked, and wandered through the woods in search of plants. As night fell and the moon rose high in the indigo sky she returned home, and nothing worried her. 
They townsfolk were right she should have been vulnerable, but for the wolf that lay across her doorstep every night. 
And every full moon she left her door wide open and the wolf crept up the stairs and into her bedroom, and under the silver rays her husband was hers, just for the night… 
(296 Words)
Day Twelve: December – Moon
The stories have been amazing…check them all out!

12 Days of Christmas: Feast

Today I rebelled…12 Days of Christmas offers up to 300 words to tell our stories and today’s Feast needed eighty-three more in the telling! My OCD usually keeps me to word counts, but today I’m rebelling!

Photograph by Lisa Shambrook (Please do not use without permission)
Jamie hated supermarkets. 
His weekly shop was monthly, once a month and his trolley contained ready-meals, Pot Noodles and a bag of apples. 
Two things changed: his mum sent him a cook book, by his namesake, and Joanne started on the checkout.  He knew her name because he studied her name tag every week when he went shopping. 
The frozen meals became meat and, god forbid, actual vegetables. 
Slowly, once a week became twice, and herbs found their way into his basket along with mushrooms and onions, and Joanne smiled at him as he put his groceries into bags, reusable bags. 
Jamie’s cooking expertise did not come naturally and when Joanne commented how much she liked swede as it passed through the till, Jamie blanched, he had no idea what to actually do with the said vegetable, but he smiled and nodded like he did.
Joanne chatted away as he packed and Jamie grinned and nodded in all the right places, knowing that if he spoke, his words would run away with him and trip right over his tongue and he’d never be able to speak to her again! 
“Lamb, my favourite!” she said.
Jamie smiled, tongue-tied.
“So what’re you making? Oh, silly question…lamb, obviously…”
He nodded.
“I’ve got a great lamb recipe I’ve never tried,” she said flushing under his gaze. “I got Jamie Oliver’s book for Christmas…”
“So did I!” he managed.
Her smile grew even brighter. “You did! It’s just…I’ve no one to cook for.”
He knew his grin was stuck and it wasn’t going to move. 
“What about you?” she asked, “Anyone?”
He shook his head and squeezed out the words. “No one, just me.”
“I’m sorry, I’m holding onto these like an idiot!” She placed carrots into his bag. “Well, I hope the lamb tastes good!” Jamie paid and grabbed his bags, his stomach twisting. 
Before he walked away Jamie’s mouth moved of its own accord. “Joanne…I really have no idea how to cook lamb, in fact I’ve got no idea what to do with most of these vegetables…” 
“I can help…” she offered tentatively, “I’m finishing in ten minutes.”
“I’d like that…” Jamie’s stomach flipped, like a burger on a grill, as Joanne’s smile lit up his life. “I think it’s time I opened that recipe book!” 
(383 Words)

Day Eleven: November – Feast
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12 Days of Christmas: Spirit

A tale of possession awaits Day Ten of 12 Days of Christmas:

She didn’t know what thrust her towards the cemetery, an unusual shortcut home, but she saw him kneeling at the grave, unaware, as she hurried through the church gates. Unwilling to disturb him, she walked quickly down the York flagstone path. As she passed the grave she shivered and her face tingled in the cold chill of winter’s evening. At home, she barely glanced in the mirror before settling for the night with a hot chocolate and book, so her green eyes turned blue, was a surprise the next morning.
It was a perverse desire to see the grieving man again that took her through the graveyard another night, but he was gone and the chill that surged through her was one of guilty disappointment.
Two more nights, and the shortcut became an obsession, but he was never there. 
Cold nights played havoc with her hair, curls loosened and her locks darkened almost as black as the raven watching on a nearby tomb.
The cemetery became familiar and the grieving man a memory until two weeks later when she bumped into him, dropping her bag, as he wandered down the cobbled path. He raised his head, stepped aside and paused as their eyes met. His eyes lit up his tearstained face as he stared at her, and his hand reached out to touch her arm and shivers twisted down her spine. 
His apology coffee became a meal and two weeks later she crossed his threshold. She shivered and glanced in the mirror by the door; she’d lost weight and grown taller. Then she noticed the portrait, ebony hair and blue eyes, and she suddenly knew why he adored her. He watched as the silent raven landed on her shoulder, shivered possessively and vanished…and his love was finally home. 
(298 Words)
Day Ten: October – Spirit
Take time to read all the other stories…

12 Days of Christmas: Stories

Day Nine of 12 Days of Christmas …and it’s: Stories, we all love stories!
Photograph by Lisa Shambrook (please do not use without permission)
“Could you stay behind please Cara.” Cara sat back down at her desk and spent the next few minutes pulling fluff bobbles from her school jumper. 
“I wish you’d foster that kind of attention on your school work, rather than your uniform Miss Langston.” Cara jumped as Mr Lewis approached. “It’s been noted you’re withdrawn, that maybe, you’re not happy…that maybe…”
There was a knock at the door and his face relaxed. Mrs Taylor walked in. “Sorry I’m late, bit of a rush!”
They both regarded Cara with such seriousness she wanted to laugh.
Mrs Taylor spoke softly. “Cara, we’ve had some concerns and just wanted to be sure you’re okay?” Cara’s shoulders relaxed, maybe they were about to address the bullying. Mrs Taylor continued. “It’s obvious you haven’t been happy this term…” 
Only this term, thought Cara, they haven’t watched me that closely then!
“If we can help…” Mr Lewis flicked through her English exercise book.
“Is this because of my story?”  Cara stared straight at her English tutor. Mr Lewis cast a sideways glance at Mrs Taylor.
“It is isn’t it? It’s fiction you know! All made up!”
“Of course it is!” Mrs Taylor smiled, “Just that if it wasn’t…”
“It is.” Cara rubbed her forehead, “I have an overactive imagination.”
“It’s very lifelike, very real…”
“But it’s not,” insisted Cara.
“But you understand why we’re concerned?”
Cara flushed. “They’re just stories, things I make up and write down…”
Is there anything you’d like to tell us? We’ll always be here.”
Cara shook her head and after a moment Mr Lewis dismissed her.
The school was so intuitive…fiction had raised alarms, whilst her reclusive state at the hands of bullies was missed. Cara didn’t trust the school to put a plaster on her finger, even less a psychiatric overhaul!
(301 Words)
Day Nine: September – Stories
And there are more great stories to read…

12 Days of Christmas: Sea

Day eight and we’re at the sea…

Photograph by Lisa Shambrook (Please do not use)
Alice went to the beach with one intention.
Not to return.
She walked to the beach, wiping tears away as she approached the dunes, and stood for a moment as the breeze lifted her hair from her face. 
The ocean rolled in, wave after wave, never ending, and she tightened her resolve with a deep sigh.
 She knelt and untied her trainers, kicking them off and leaving them behind as she stepped, barefoot, across the soft, hot sand. 
Her toes wriggled and sand trickled through them, raising a momentary smile, but her legs, now heavy though single-minded, still propelled her towards the shore. The sand kicked up behind her and drifted across the dune, and her feet stepped across the tide line, across the mounds of wet seaweed, and the sand firmed beneath her toes.
She stopped and closed her eyes, allowing the gentle gusts of wind to caress her face, one last pleasantry…and she tried to calm her hammering heart. She braced and breathed in salty ocean air, tasting the salt tracing her lips. She listened to her brain, to her grief, to her despair and stepped forward. 
She opened her eyes as a young girl raced past.
The girl ran into the water, leaping over waves and giggling, she hitched up her shorts, already darkened by splashing water, and stopped. Alice watched as the girl in the orange shirt threw out her arms in abandon and turned her face towards the glorious evening sun, enjoying the simple delight of waves at her feet, wind on her arms and the warmth of the sun on her face.  
Alice sank to the wet sand, tears rolling down her cheeks, and a newfound innocence engulfed her, and her hand gently trailed across her newly rounded stomach.
(295 Words)
Day Eight: August – Sea
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12 Days of Christmas: Storms

Day seven and we reach storms in our 12 Days of Christmas Bop…and mine’s an ice storm:

Photograph by Lisa Shambrook and Streamzoo (Please do not use without permission)
They knew it was coming, but they were so far out, so cut off, there was nothing to do but wait.
So they battened down the hatches, like the government had advised, and watched the crazy exodus on the television all cosied up on the sofa. 
The storm was coming, coming from the north and they were the north. 
The television signal vanished as the storm arrived. They glanced at each other, smiling nervously, and he took her hand in his, squeezed it, then urgently pulled her off the sofa and led her upstairs.
She gazed out of the window and smiled at the blanket of snow. The trees, silhouettes against the brooding skyline, barely moved and the world was silent except for the heavy patter of falling snow. She fell into his arms and his mouth hungrily devoured hers.
In the afterglow, his arm cradled her and his hand gently stroked her bare thigh as she lie with her back against his stomach and she sighed. The snow had stopped and the room lightened, a cold brightness filled the air and she clasped his hand in hers. 
It was silent when it came.
They watched Jack Frost’s masterpiece overlay the window, outside and in, and they followed the frost as it bathed the walls. She watched it spread across the sheets and their entwined hands and she felt her toes disappear. Ice travelled up her body in exquisite contrast to the fiery heat enveloping her just a few minutes ago. Feathers of rime patterned her arms and her face grew tight as it froze. She felt his heart beat against her back and closed her eyes as the ice danced across her frigid eyelids, and moments later their heartbeats vanished as the storm quickly passed.
(296 Words)
Day Seven: July – Storms
And there are more great stories to read…

12 Days of Christmas: Sun

Going for something different today in the 12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop…back in August I did a 30 day Blogflash and I ended up writing a serial called Flood (See next post for the entire Flood). With today’s prompt: Sun, I’ve gone back to write a prequel:

Photograph by Lisa Shambrook (please do not use without permission)
“I don’t like this dear…”
“Nor me…”
“When do we go back to land?”
“I don’t know sweetheart.”
“Should we navigate back to shore now, to the marina?”
“Well that was my first idea, but the instruments are playing up…”
“How do you mean?”
“I can’t get anything on screen, and the radio’s not doing anything, it’s just dead. No, stay here, I’m not sure we should go up on deck.”
“Why not? I’ve got a torch.”
“What time would you put us at? Or even what day? The sun’s been gone for days, and all it’s doing is raining…”
“I’ve lost track of the days…”
“It’s Thursday, sweetie. We made it to the boat ahead of the water and we’ve been on the ocean for three days…”
“In darkness.”
“So where’s the sun?”
“Maybe it decided to stay on the other side of the world…”
“That would explain a lot dear! Three days of darkness…that sounds biblical to me…”
“I don’t think we’ve hit the Armageddon…not yet sweetheart, well I don’t think so, I think there’d be more than just rain, you know fire and brimstone spring to mind…”
“But, three days of darkness…”
“It’s fine, it’ll pass.”
“But why, what’s happened, and why can’t we contact anyone?”
“We did, on Tuesday honey, but the Port Authorities just said stay away from the marina, and conserve fuel, then we lost contact.”
Rain hammered down on the cabin roof and the small boat rocked on the waves.
“So we’re just drifting?”
“We are now…have been for two days.”
“Where are we darling?”
“I just said the panel doesn’t work, I’m getting nothing…”
“Then I’m going up on deck…”
“Look! I see rays, through the rainclouds, rays!”
“My word! God bless the sunshine!”
“We’re going to live darling!”
(301 words)
Day Six: June – Sun
Read the rest…you won’t regret it!

12 Days of Christmas: Flowers

So we come to day five of the 12 Days of Christmas blog hop and our prompt is: Flowers, though is not really what I’d call a gift…perhaps another warning…

Photograph by Lisa Shambrook found at flickr.com/photos/thelastkrystallos

Rays of sun fell onto pale pink candytuft interspersed with lavender, while tall, magenta foxgloves with mottled tubes, and variegated greenery gave the display height. Two oriental poppies, with silken, paper-thin petals adorned the arrangement and in the centre sat an arum lily in all its glorious purity.
If there was anything she spent time on it was her garden, and her indoor displays were as heavenly as the well-tended outdoor ones.
This arrangement sat on her windowsill, in pride of place, beneath the frilled jardinière net curtains. A different floral attraction decorated her sill every week, without fail.

 The neighbours were used to her colourful bouquets and ox-eye daises made them smile, blood-red roses brought on flushes of romance and huge purple alliums caused a stir.

So on Monday morning, when the lily trumpet and silken poppies still flourished in the window, the postman raised his eyebrow, the milkman smiled, and the neighbours assumed she was just late with her floristry scissors.
They were still there on Tuesday, and Wednesday, but it had been pouring with summer rain, so maybe the garden was just too wet for old Mrs Thomas.
Thursday was dry, and the poppy petals were wrinkled.
On Friday the candytuft and poppies were sad, they drooped and a day later the poppies black, inky stamens were adorning the actual windowsill and not the flowers.

During the third week the flowers began to brown and dehydrated stems hung limply over the side of the vase…and the neighbours shook their heads in disapproval.

A week later, and the postman noticed not only the papery, brown blooms, but the far less than flowery stench that permeated the house when he lifted the letter box…
The flowers had spoken for weeks, but no one had heard…

(298 Words)

Day Five: May – Flowers
Read the others…they’re worth it!

12 Days of Christmas: Rebirth

Day Four of 12 Days of Christmas: and the gift is Rebirth:

Photograph  by Lisa Shambrook (please do not use without permission)
He was tired and his mind never stopped. Three years trying to keep his head above water in these times of recession had cost him dear. The business drained him, in a way he’d never have predicted all those years ago when he’d stood on the doorstep with Liz. The pride in her eyes and the flush in her cheeks had excited him as much as their new venture had, but now the light had faded behind her brown eyes, and the best part of his day was closing his own when his head hit his pillow. 
He barely noticed Liz, he was too tired. 
He didn’t notice his favourite meal on the table he was too busy calculating profits and losses. He never saw her longing eyes, and he never felt the stroke of her hand on his as he slept. He ignored her needs, because his were satisfied. He had no idea that his mother received flowers on her birthday, but he smiled when she thanked him for her gift.
He waved Liz away when she hugged him, no time for that, and her lips caught his hair as he rushed out of the door. 
He ignored her when she begged him to cut his losses, and he sneered when she told him they’d be happy poor. 
He didn’t notice when her eyes lit up again, or when her new dress fit her curves to perfection. He didn’t even notice the new scent on her pulse, or those heels. He never saw her new hair, or the blush-red lipstick, he was too busy stretching for his out-of-reach mobile phone as he lay on the floor holding his arm and clutching his chest. 
As he ended, she was reborn and he never saw his butterfly unfurl her glorious wings. 
(300 Words)

Day Four: April – Rebirth
Take a look at the other entries…

12 Days of Christmas: Music

Day three of Stacy’s Blog Hop and the gift is Music…I decided to continue a previous flash challenge which you can read here at Monday Mixer ‘Impasse’…let the music play…

Photograph by Lisa Shambrook (please do not use without permission)
Linten pulled the evanescent stone from his leather pouch and shook his head trying to rid his ears of the ringing from the explosion. The corridor was completely blocked and there was no going back…  He could barely see the stone in his hands in the gloom, it glowed, but its power was fading fast. Linten closed his fingers around the warm stone. He could feel it vibrate in his palm and his hopes lifted, just a little. 
“This had better work,” he muttered, “One wish and this is it…I need an escape …”
He drew in a deep breath then coughed as rock dust tickled his throat. As he finished coughing he opened his fingers and glanced down at the stone, now vibrating more intensely and he smiled. “C’mon, c’mon…” He thrust his tulwar back into its sheath and enclosed the stone in both hands. His moth fluttered against his cheek as he willed the stone to work its magic. 
The stone began to sing, music pulsing through the cavern. The music continued, soft notes palpitating like Linten’s own heart, building to a crescendo. As the music reached fever pitch, Linten was enveloped in a tornado that ripped his breath away and he sank into oblivion. 
Fluttering tiny wings roused him, he still clasped the stone within both hands and a gentle melody echoed in his head. His helmet sat upside down at his side and his moth crackled with tiny flames of worry. Linten sat, warily. He was out of the mineshaft and free, and he drew in a breath of fresh night air and opened his fingers revealing the evanescent stone. It tingled and he brought it to his lips, but as he kissed the precious rock the music stopped and the stone vanished, its duty done.
(300 Words)
Day three: March – Music
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