A Winter Wonderland

This is a piece of Flash Fiction for our church magazine, in response to the theme of Snow.

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THIRTEEN WAYS OF LOOKING AT SNOW

by John Yeo

 

I see flurries of silent snowflakes

falling, drifting, settling,

A winter wonderland is created.

~

The snow hangs thickly

on the branches of bushes and trees.

Bending, almost breaking

beneath the weight.

~

Garden birds search hungrily

for hidden food under the icy blanket.

Snow covers and hides all.

~

Water is frozen, solid and hidden,

beneath the thick snowy blanket.

Thirsty birds and animals

lick snowflakes for moisture.

~

A snowflake is a thing of beauty

ice crystals that shine

with geometric splendour.

~

Children wrap warmly in scarves and gloves

to welcome the snow with joy.

Skating and sledging, to and fro

With whoops of sheer delight.

~

A snowman is built by children of all ages,

Mum and Dad and old Uncle Tom.

A carrot for a nose and an old battered hat

with a scarf around the neck.

~

In the snowy wastes, travel

over the glassy smooth surface is fast,

furious and exhilarating.

~

Visibility in a snowstorm is impaired,

the snow falling thickly, too dense to penetrate.

Snow blindness can result from the glare.

~

Housebound by thick snowy drifts

the old folk are trapped indoors,

many look out desperately for help.

Sleigh bells ring jubilantly as horses arrive

with a sledge,

laden with food and warm clothing.

~

Falling flakes add wonder to

the miracle of dazzling white snow.

A thick white carpet brings clean,

fresh magic everywhere.

~

Life is harsh as plants push through

the snowy white blanket.

When the snow stops falling

sunlight begins the thaw.

~

The world becomes a sea of slush

as the snow melts swiftly away.

Leaving behind a muddy, watery, dirty

sea of sludge.

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Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

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SNOWBELLS

This is a piece of Flash Fiction for our church magazine, in response to the theme of Bells.

Bluebells

SNOWBELLS

by John Yeo

   The afternoon had been warm and sunny as Peter and Rosie happily wandered through the green fields and lanes that ran around the outside of the village bordering their Father’s farm. Peter dragged his younger sister along by her hand. At eleven years old, Peter was two years older than Rosie and he was expected to look after her whenever they went out together. There was no mistaking they were siblings, both of the children had a shock of black hair and unusual piercing blue eyes.

    ‘Don’t pull me so hard, please Pete, you are almost pulling my arm off.’

   ‘Sorry Rosie, but it’ll be getting dark soon and Mum wants us to be home.’

Suddenly as they got close to the woods, the evening sunlight reflected off a sea of blue and green that stretched deep into the woods.

     ‘Look Pete, beautiful Bluebells. Oh, please let’s pick a bunch to take home to Mum.’

At that moment two Magpies began chasing each other in the low overhanging branches on the nearby trees.

    ‘Two for Joy,’ shouted Rosie happily.

   ‘OK Rosie, good idea! They won’t be angry if we take them some flowers.’ Peter replied, he knew his sister would be upset if he said, No!

They soon began to pick armfuls of Bluebells to take home. Suddenly, there was a rustle at the far end of the glade as a Brown speckled Doe, dashed for cover. This made them both jump, as the sudden noise took them by surprise.

  Peter nervously said, ‘C’mon Rosie, it’s time to go home now.’

   ‘OK, Pete’ replied Rosy.

The children soon reached the ramshackle collection of buildings that surrounded the cosy farmhouse. As they arrived, Trusty the farmhouse guard dog barked loudly, overjoyed to see them both. Their Mother appeared looking quite worried, her expression softened, immediately, when she saw the Bluebells.

   ‘Come in quickly, you two! Your Granddad is here and he has been waiting for you for ages.’

  ‘OK Mum,’ said Peter.

As soon as their Granddad saw the Bluebells he said,

‘Have you two heard the legend about Bluebells?’ he asked with a smile.

‘Well, some years there are White coloured Bluebells among the Blue ones like you have here. This means there is bound to be a White Christmas coming up and if you listen carefully sometimes these special Bluebells actually ring when they are tossed by the wind.’

‘Oh! Come on Grandpa. How can flowers make a noise?’

Granddad smiled as he said, ‘Ah! You have to listen carefully and believe, if you want to hear the music of the Snowbells.’

White Bluebell

 

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

NEW FANGLED BIRTHDAYS

This is a second piece of Flash Fiction I wrote yesterday for our church magazine, in response to the theme of Birthdays.

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Image ~ Courtesy of pixabay.com

NEW FANGLED BIRTHDAYS

by John Yeo

  I will be reaching a milestone age this year and I have been racking my brains about how to celebrate this occasion. I have a loving generous family and some wonderful friends. The main greeting lately has been, “Hi! What would you like for your birthday?”

Well, to tell you the truth, I don’t know what I would like. We are not poor or extremely wealthy. I can’t think of anything I desperately need. I have enough already with the privilege and the good fortune to have such a nice family and some good dependable friends.

Always one to think out of the box and do the unexpected or the unusual. I have come up with a plan to make this a birthday to share with at least 50 other people.

I want to do exactly the opposite to the norm on this extra special birthday.

I propose to take £100.00 into the local branch of any bank in town and ask them for 50, £2.00 coins.

Then I will walk through the streets of Norwich our nearest city.

For many months I have been shocked to see how many destitute people are begging or sleeping rough on our city streets.

I will then place a £2 coin in their hat or another receptacle they use as part of their attempt to stave off hunger.

I will then smile and say, “It’s my birthday today, have a lovely day!”

I know the usual reasons for not encouraging begging. “Oh, they will only spend it on drink or drugs. You are wasting your time and your money doing something stupid like that!”

My reply to that will be. “What about the people who beg because they are desperately in need? It’s my birthday and I’ll do what I want to.”

 Any £2.00 coins left in my possession at the end of the day will be placed in charity boxes that are usually left in the church, or in many other areas where the needs of the hungry homeless are recognized.

I know at the end of this special day I will have a warm feeling of having done my best to share my birthday widely.

Perhaps I will have started a new fashion where the idea would be to give and not receive gifts on a birthday.

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

 

A Special Birthday

This is a piece of Flash Fiction I wrote yesterday for our church magazine, in response to the theme of Birthdays.

 

Seventy

Image courtesy of google.com

 

A Special Birthday

by John Yeo

   It was a special occasion for Em. she would be 70 years of age today. She was quite philosophical about reaching this grand old age, threescore years and ten, a milestone in her life.
    As she woke in the clean comfortable cabin aboard the luxury cruise liner, she mused on the implications and the meaning of this grand age.
      “Who would have thought I would get to be as old as this? When I was a little girl I remember thinking 40 was really quite ancient. Both my parents lived to be well into their nineties. My Mum used to say they were blessed to have lived so long. She would sometimes quote the passage in the bible….
Psalms 90:
‘The days of our years are threescore years and ten
and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years,
yet is their strength labor and sorrow;
for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.’

     At this point, there was a knock at the cabin door, “Room service!” The cabin steward had arrived, with their early morning cup of tea.
Jay answered the door and came back with a tray of tea that was conspicuous by the birthday cards that were balanced against the teapot.
    “Happy Birthday Darling! We have a special day ahead. Lunch in a waterside pavement cafe. Then we return to the ship to lounge in the sun on the deck, before we change into our formal evening clothes for dinner on the Captain’s table. We will dance your birthday night away together in the Ballroom.”

    “Wow! I hope I can keep up the pace Jay,” said Em, smiling broadly. “I know exactly which dress I intend to wear for our dinner tonight with the Captain.”

      “Of course you will be the star of the evening my beautiful birthday girl.” Replied her husband grinning broadly.

  The day passed slowly in the sun-drenched French port and the evening found Jay and Em, busily preparing for the night of celebrations ahead.

  Soon there was a transformation.
Em looked stunning in a royal blue dress and Jay wore a white dinner jacket, complete with a blue bow tie and cummerbund to match.

  They attended a pre-dinner cocktail party in the lounge, then met up with Sally, the social hostess, and four other couples.
 Sally introduced everyone and led the party to the Captain’s table.
  A richly decorated round table with an ornate floral arrangement and individual place names of each of the invited guests.
  The Captain arrived with apologies, grinning broadly and took his seat at the table.
A pleasant meal followed as the waiters and the wine stewards, served six courses with wine to taste.
  The conversation flowed freely, and the Captain and Sally managed to converse freely with everyone at the table.
 After the plates from the main course had been cleared away and despatched to the galley. The Head waiter appeared with a guitarist and eight smartly attired waiters. Then followed an amazing performance of Happy Birthday, sung loudly and enthusiastically by the waiters as the surrounding diners clapped along and joined in. The ship’s photographer was present snapping away to record the moment as Em smiled. The Captain offered congratulations and everyone clapped to recognize this special moment.
As everyone was leaving the table after this splendid meal, the Captain said, smiling.
     “If I ever write a book I will call it, ‘Tales from the Captain’s table.” There was a momentary silence before anyone noticed the twinkle in the Captain’s eye as he uttered these words.
  Em and Jay then made their way to the ballroom, where they had a wonderful evening dancing and celebrating.

   Em turned to her husband Jay and said, “I’m tired now. I will never forget my special 70th birthday celebrations. Thanks, darling.”
  Jay smiled and said, “You wait until you see what I have planned for when you are 71 next year. Life begins at threescore years and ten.

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

A SURFEIT OF ORANGE

This is a piece of Flash Fiction I wrote yesterday for our church magazine, in response to the theme of Orange.
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Image © John and Margaret

 

A SURFEIT OF ORANGE

by John Yeo

 

 The day started with a fantasy flow of colours liquidizing the rising sun’s reflections on the clouds. Reds combining with yellows creating a dominating orange that filled the sky to herald the start of a brand new day.

 

   “I’ll have to get the pupils interested in the distant past by bringing the past back to the present. We need to get the feel of antiquity by enacting the period physically.”

Mr. Smithers, the History master was addressing his dog Pooch. An exercise he frequently carried out since he had lost Matilda, his late wife of 30 years, to the dreadful scourge of Cancer.

 

“Fire in the sky needs the purification of fire on the Earth.”  Intoned the mystical tribal shaman, as he rubbed two pieces of tinder together to create a flame. The members of the community watched spellbound as the fire took hold.

 

 A spark found its way to some bone dry ferns in the outskirts of a small town in Spain. Wild fire instantly took hold and spread fast. Orange flames dominated the fire devastating the growing foliage on the edges of a forest with many species of wildlife, scared and vulnerable. Fleeing the flames, predators, and prey running together, oblivious of everything but survival.

Birds feeding on the orange berries of a Rowan tree flew up with a cloud of fluttering wings above the heat and fumes emitted by the orange flames that incinerated everything in their path.

The orange uniforms of firefighters were highly visible as they lined up, desperately trying to control the blaze and stem the greedy red, yellow and orange flames.

The firefighters gradually brought the blaze under control then still alert, yet relaxed, they took a break under a green tree that showed flashes of a ripe,  remarkable orange fruit. Sweet to taste with luscious fleshy, juice-filled quarters. Orange segments were distributed to the firefighters for much needed liquid refreshment, and to build up reserves of energy.

Meanwhile, an orange emergency helicopter landed on a field surrounding an impressive church, to rescue a heart attack victim.

The rescue personnel rushed to give CPR to the victim, who happened to be the mayor of the local town.

 A service of thanksgiving was performed in the church as the townspeople and the rescue personnel gave thanks to God for the survival of everyone in that tiny community, in the face of wildfire.

 

 Mr. Smithers the history teacher was visualizing the Shaman dressed in a traditional fiery orange loincloth.

 “Yes Pooch, Today, I’ll have to teach them to respect the dangers of fire.”

 

 The day ended with a fantasy flow of fiery colours from the setting sun’s reflections on the clouds. Reds combining with yellows creating a dominating orange that filled the sky at the end of another day, leading to the last day of the future.

 

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Image ©️John and Margaret

 

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

 

ANGEL INVESTOR

A prompt response for Inspiration Monday ~ ANGEL INVESTOR 

http://bekindrewrite.com

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Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

ANGEL INVESTOR

by John Yeo

   Billy tightened his coat against the biting cold wind. Winter winds were blasting the trees on the avenue, leaving a trail of leaves and small branches all over the pavement. Billy pulled his knapsack over his shoulder, he wouldn’t be sorry to get to shelter today.
    Billy was officially homeless now, a person of no fixed abode.
Whenever he was asked his address by the innumerable officials and interested parties he would sullenly reply, “NFA.”

    Billy lived in the basement of a large crumbling mansion just outside of town. The locals avoided the place, considering it to be haunted. Rumour had it the mansion’s owner lived abroad. An eccentric millionaire who had bought the place with his wife, who died shortly after. The owner had disappeared and left the place to rot.
Billy seemed undisturbed by the rumours and stayed put, sheltering from the elements in the basement.

      The Postman, Tom Banks was the first to be curious about the empty house, he delivered innumerable letters there and they were mysteriously collected. Once he had bumped into Billy after he had delivered the mail.
“Hi! I guess you have a forwarding address for the owner?”

   “No sorry!” replied Billy. “A chauffeur comes to collect the lot every now and then.”

“Oh! they allow you to stay here rent free then!”

“Yes!” Was Billy’s monosyllabic response.

 An old newspaper blowing down the road caught Billy’s eye. ‘Hey something to read, he thought.’

  The headlines screamed about an unknown startup company that had just patented a new product that would provide endless cheap energy to feed the starving millions in the vulnerable parts of the world.
Billy smiled inwardly as he continued to read the story. Apparently an unknown investor working through a third party had financed the whole deal. Profits from the investors stake were paid into a Swiss bank account. Curiously no one knew who this third person was.
Several new and thriving ethical businesses had received finance from this mysterious investor and the curious business world was desperate to get any information. Apparently rewards were on offer for information.

 Down at the local pub around the corner from the mansion, Jim, the local policeman was chatting to Tom, the postman.

   “A tramp you say, collecting the mail you deliver! Doesn’t sound quite right to me, I might just keep an eye on the place for a while. Let me know if you bump into him again.” said Jim.

   “Sure thing, Jim.”

   Several days later a large 4×4 car with blacked out windows roared up to the old haunted mansion and to the amazement of the hidden watchers. An unkempt old man climbed aboard and the car roared off.

   If the locals were interested before they were openly curious now and a large party gathered at the gates to the mansion with the intention of questioning anyone who came and went.

    Of course no one was ever seen coming or going again and the mystery is still unsolved.

   Six months later the crumbling old mansion was put on the market by a local estate agent and quickly sold for a price well under its market value.

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

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ORPHAN

This article was written for “QUINTET,” our Parish magazine, requesting submissions on the theme of  ~ What’s in a Name?

 

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Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

WHAT’S IN A NAME

ORPHAN

by John Yeo

   Our name is the handle by which we are handled.
The childhood is a time of a happy innocent vulnerability. My early childhood was spent in idyllic peaceful happiness, I was an only child brought up by two wonderful parents. Tom, my father was a gentleman farmer. This self-styled title always amused him as he worked from dawn to dusk on the land.

    “I’m a farmer and a gentleman, ask my wife Molly, how gentle I am.”
My Mother, Molly would gently smile and nod in agreement.

  What’s in a name? Certainly a contradiction, as far as my Dad was concerned.

    “Aren’t gentlemen supposed to be rich and lead a luxurious, cushioned wealthy life?” I asked grinning. At eight years old I was as sharp as a razor and very cheeky.

    “Come on Tom-junior eat your tea. Mind you finish those greens they are the secret of good health.” said my Mum smiling broadly.
Mum was a hard worker helping Dad on the farm. She somehow found the time to support the local WI. Sometimes the farmhouse would resound with her ladies busy chatting together, earnestly discussing matters of great importance.

   Such was our family’s happy life until the day of that terrible road accident that changed my life forever. We were out for a Sunday drive to the next village to visit my Uncle Bob when a huge tractor pulling a trailer full of heavy logs crashed into our tiny family car. My Mum and Dad were killed instantly and I was trapped…. Upside down in the back seat; still alive.

    At that moment my life was to change forever, I instantly became an eight-year-old orphan and a problem for the Social services. Uncle Bob and Aunt Millie took care of me for a few weeks but they were unable to make this a permanent arrangement as they had four children and very little space.

    I had become an orphan, now this is a name that due to our vivid Victorian literature has become irrevocably linked to poverty and pity. A state of unwantedness that generated much hardship and sorrow.

     I was fostered by several kindly families at the start of my new station in life and finally, I was adopted by a nice family.

    Mr. and Mrs. Smithers and their four children, all boys older than me, lived in a huge sprawling house in an acre of beautiful gardens with woods and fields stretching towards the horizon.

     The next few months passed in a blur as I quickly became accustomed to my new station in life. It was a slow degenerative process as I became that orphan, who was not really one of us. Quite unworthy to be a real part of the family. I was bullied by the children and ignored by their parents except for when I was expected to wait on them.

     “That boy will do the work! The orphan will clear the table!” said Mrs. Smithers.

 Somehow I had become a person without a name, a legal slave, fed and watered and expected to wait on the family hand and foot.

      ‘The orphan will do the job!” Was the favourite saying of the oldest son, a cruel vindictive fellow.

  I became insecure and frightened to get up in the morning. I refused to go to school in case I said something that would get me in trouble at home later.

     Eventually, I ran away and made my way back to my childhood family home. I was shy and reluctant to knock on the front door and I made my way around the back. A dog started barking loudly and a lady who I vaguely recognised, exclaimed;

    “Hello young Tom junior; what are you doing here? Come inside and have some tea.”
  At that I burst into tears, this was the first time I had encountered such familiar kindness for ages.

     “You must recognise me I am Rose, we used to come here for our WI meetings to see your Mum. My hubby and I bought the farm. Don’t cry Tom, come inside you are welcome.”

    That was five years ago now. I shudder at the memories of that period I spent as just a nameless orphan.

    I now live here in my old/new home with kindly new parents who have made me welcome. I feel secure in the knowledge that there is always an essence of our departed loved ones around guiding us in spirit.

 Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

FICTION NOTICE
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.