INFERIORITY COMPLEX

 

 

J.K.ALLEN Friday prompt
@hijinkswriter

Happy Fiction Friday! Here’s your prompt:
You finally build up the courage to talk to that cute someone you see every day on the bus. Their face turns dark as they respond, “You shouldn’t be able to see me.”
Happy writing!

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INFERIORITY COMPLEX

by John Yeo

 It’s raining hard this morning with a strong wind that keeps trying hard to blow my umbrella inside out. It’s a good job I don’t have far to go to the bus stop. I turn the collar up on my raincoat, this helps a bit to keep my neck warm and dry. Glancing at the time on my iPhone I see I am right on time the usual crowd of commuters is gathered at the bus stop. Most of them crammed into the bus shelter. I smile and nod at some of the more familiar faces.
   A smartly dressed young man pushes back into the shelter to allow me room to squeeze inside, much to the chagrin of old sourpuss who has to suffer the indignity of actual bodily contact with a couple of other commuters. She rewards the young man with a look of pure hatred, even though I have been traveling on this route for a year, old sourpuss would never deign to acknowledge my existence. The young man, who wears a thin gold earring, then acts in a totally unexpected way and pokes his tongue out at the tall grey-haired elderly lady.
    A look of shock covers the face of old sourpuss as she angrily turns her face away.
I have an added incentive to make sure I get the usual bus. I have been admiring a certain pretty young woman for several months now. She usually gets aboard the bus at the next stop after I board the bus and she always gets off at the stop before mine outside the private hospital.
    I have never seen such an attractive person in my life before, she is so adorably beautiful I get shy and unsure of myself whenever I see her. I have noticed she never speaks to anyone and no one else seems to know her. I wonder how I can ever pluck up enough courage to break the ice and to introduce myself to her.
    I choose a seat near the entrance to the bus where I knew I was sure to catch her eye as she entered the bus. I had a vague plan in my mind that may give me the opportunity to break the ice and have a chat with her. The rain was still pouring down when the bus reached the next stop, where the cute young lady usually gets on board. The bus came to a stop and three passengers boarded together. A young couple got on first and there was a few minutes delay as the young man began fishing for some change from his pocket while his wife and the bus driver patiently waited.
    Finally with a grin followed by a laugh the couple took their seats on the bus.
Then came the moment I had been waiting for when my dream lady got on the bus. She shook the raindrops off her red umbrella and placed her ticket on the automatic digital charging icon. Her long blond hair was tied up in a ponytail hanging behind her. As she walked by my seat I got up with a paperback book in my hand, ‘Is this yours?’ I asked, ‘Only I found it on the seat you sat in after you had got off the bus yesterday.’

   I was taken aback as the young woman’s face darkened with a horrified surprise. ‘You shouldn’t be able to see me, I am an alien from a different world than you. I must exist in your imagination. No one ever takes any notice of me or pays any attention to me. That’s why I attend the hospital for treatment every day. Are you a patient there?’

   I shook my head and backed away in stunned surprise, I smiled at her as she got off the bus at the private Psychiatric hospital. I still think she is a dream on legs, a figment of my imagination or not.

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

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ALIEN THOUGHT PATTERN

J.K. Allen @hijinkswriter

Here’s today’s Fiction Friday prompt:
In the future, virtual reality has surged. One of the more controversial uses is in prisons. Whatever crime you committed you have to relive from your victim’s point of view. It’s your first day in prison and you’re terrified because of what you did.

~~~~~

virtual perception-3110810_960_720virtual-reality-3039745_960_720ALIEN THOUGHT PATTERN

by John Yeo

I had put up a strong defense and my lawyer had almost worked a miracle and got me off of the charges. I was shocked when I heard the Judge’s sentence. There was a catch to the decision, I would either have to serve 25 years or this could be reduced to 5 years if I agreed to undergo a new virtual reality procedure. This would entail reliving the crime through the eyes and feelings of the victim. I thought this would be quite easy as I have never had a care what that dirty jumped-up idiot thought at all. I agreed instantly.

  It was with a loud ominous clang the doors of the prison closed behind me. When I entered. I was handcuffed to a tall overweight prison officer who manhandled me into a reception area where after going through the usual formalities, I was soon on my way to a special wing of the prison where I would be completing my sentence.
It was here I met my room-mate Sydney.
    ‘Hi! I’m George,’ I said grinning as I introduced myself. This should be easy, a nice cushy billet in the hospital pretending to comply with all this VR nonsense.’
My new friends face changed visibly as a look of horror replaced the welcoming look he had previously displayed.

    ‘Hello George, I’m Sydney, I’ve been here for a whole year now. I’m not kidding you when I say I wish I had taken the alternative option. This is the scariest thing I have ever done. I killed a neighbour who got on my nerves. They make you experience every single tiny emotion your victim went through when you killed him. Every day the VR machine repeats the feelings repetitively until you will be praying to share the death in reality. What are you here for?’

  I stepped back shocked when I heard this. ‘I killed a man who was abusing my daughter. What do you mean about reliving the crime over and over from his point of view? I just gave the dirty pervert what he deserved. I took the shorter sentence as I thought it would be easy.’

   ‘That’s what I thought too George but reversing roles is frightening, every little fear and emotion your victim felt will be experienced by you. This is absolute torture.’  Sydney had visibly aged in seconds while he was describing his treatment and his mental state.

 George began to feel afraid of what was in store for him, he had made sure the pervert suffered before he had killed him. There was no way he wanted to go through any of that.

   ‘Sydney you’ve got to help me is there any way I can change my mind? Can I appeal to the authorities? I’m scared of what those men in white coats will do to me.’

   ‘Sorry George, there’s no way out of this, you will have to suffer the fate of the pervert you killed, over and over again. Believe me, I’ve tried many times in many ways. There’s no escape.’

George put his head in his hands and burst out crying.

 

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

 

OSWALD ISLAND

A REEDSY PROMPT

You are an explorer who’s just discovered a new island.’

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OSWALD ISLAND

by John Yeo

   The press conference was well attended, with representatives from several of the national newspapers and a few reporters from regional papers.
There was a presentation of sketches and photographs on display of a substantial rocky landmass located in a sunlit sapphire sea. There was a large indentation in the centre that was a natural lake with a channel leading to a bay that formed a natural harbour.

‘First things first Ladies and Gentlemen of the press. My name is Captain Oswald, I own that luxury yacht moored in the harbour. We have just returned from the Indian Ocean, where my island is located.’

Mike Molloy, an ebullient Irish reporter employed by the Daily Torment, a national tabloid newspaper. ‘You are referring to this discovery as your island
Captain? How can you lay claim to an island for yourself. Surely you should be claiming it for the nation?’

‘My friend I have discovered this paradisiacal island, exactly 101 miles off the coast of Tango, located in the South Pacific Ocean. Even now as we speak several members of my crew are in residence guarding my property. I have laid claim to this new land and I propose to sell shares to anyone interested in the future development of my land.’

There was a sudden loud general hubbub as questions were fired at Captain Oswald, a short, stocky man with a shock of sandy coloured hair.
A large familiar-looking man raised his hand and shouted.
‘Peter Swinburne, from the Daily Scare. Supposing you are overruled by the government of Tango and the island is confiscated. How do your investors know they will be able to get their money back?’

‘Mr Swinburne, my word is my bond and I guarantee to refund all monies that will have been invested in my property. I have the financial backing of a leading worldwide firm in the futures investment industry. This will be a first class investment with the minimum of risk. I have been assured by a member of the Tangoan government that this new island is just outside their territorial boundaries and is open for development. I have agreed to allow the Tangoan government a full half share of any future profits.’

Another voice shouted a question, this time it was a lady reporter. ‘Geraldine South, from the Seaview Independent local paper. I would like to know how much of these future profits will be invested locally in these Isles.’

Captain Oswald smiled and replied. ‘There is no question that this government will receive substantial funds in exchange for protection from marauding pirates and gangsters. I have been assured this is possible and a feasibility study is underway as we speak. Of course the bulk of our trade will be with tourists and businesses from here. Holidaymakers will flock there, the ultra-wealthy will build their homes there.’

A tall distinguished looking man then stepped up and said,
‘Ladies and Gentlemen, I have to bring this press conference to a close now. I am a lawyer representing Captain Oswald. I would appreciate it, if all further questions could be directed to my office. I propose to leave a pile of my address cards at the back of this hall.

The next few weeks were exciting as far as Captain Oswald was concerned. Money was flooding in from interested investors as speculators queued to get a piece of the action. The funds were quickly channeled into building projects and advertising.

Captain Oswald had returned to his island and made the trip back several times. He now worked from a plush office in the centre of the financial hub of a city on the mainland.
When the first warnings started to come through, Captain Oswald was attending a plethora of meetings with his new partners and the banks.
The first newsflash was seemingly insignificant, just a suggestion that there was a hurricane due to touch the coastline of his private island.
The news came through as Captain Oswald had a meeting scheduled with the press to announce a public naming ceremony of his new island. Unsurprisingly the island was to be named Oswald island and would be officially recognised by all concerned.

The reports of the power and devastation caused by the hurricane in the South Pacific Ocean became more and more alarming. The weather forecasters had named this powerful storm, Hurricane Esmeralda, a name that would forever be indelibly imprinted on the mind of Captain Oswald.

Within days the Captain and his crew were travelling at full speed towards the Tango islands in the South Pacific following a spate of reports of the devastation and the loss of life caused by Hurricane Esmeralda. There was a lack of news after a while due to the power lines that had been severely damaged by the storm.
Several days later they were approaching the point where Oswald Island was located but to the horror and surprise of the Captain there wasn’t any sign of his island.

Captain Oswald screamed to his first mate, ‘Barnicle, where’s the island?’

‘I dunno Captain, it should be right in front of us.’

‘Have you got the right coordinates man?’

‘Yessir! Positively Sir.’

It took a few seconds for the dreadful realisation that Oswald Island was gone and would never be seen again. Washed away and destroyed by Hurricane Esmeralda, the island was now at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.
The Captain took this discovery surprisingly philosophically.

‘Well life’s a gamble, they say things come and go, Nature provides and Nature takes away. C’mon Barnacle, head for Tango, I need to cash in my chips.’

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

A DRAMATIC SHOCK REACTION

A REEDSY PROMPT

A DRAMATIC SHOCK REACTION

by John Yeo

   That night, the action backstage was even more dramatic than the story unfolding onstage. Harry Houston, the leading man of this highly successful production was in a terrible rage. Harry stood himself up to his full 6 foot 6 inches height and shouted aggressively and belligerently at the diminutive figure of Peter Whelks, the stage manager.
    ‘Look here Whelks, I’d like you to get rid of that so-called makeup artist at once. She is awful, I’ve broken out in a rash all over my face and my neck.’
Harry Houston’s veins were protruding through his leathery skin as an effect of his incredible rage. Peter likened his performance to a cross between Godzilla and a fire-breathing dragon.
     ‘Sure thing Mr. Houston, there will be an instant investigation and if she’s responsible she will be dismissed instantly.’

    ‘Of course, she’s responsible man! She’s the only person who gets paid an enormous salary to apply the muck here that masquerades as makeup. I want her fired immediately.’
Harry then proceeded to cover the offending itchy spots with swathes of calamine lotion from the first aid kit, which had the effect of turning his face and neck bright pink.
At that point, Mrs. Imelda Spinks, a competent professional, who represented the theatre company as head of the makeup department responsible for the facial appearances of the whole cast, bustled into the dressing room. A short-haired lady with streaks of grey showing through her dyed blonde hair, she had piercing blue eyes reflecting an expression that announced she would brook no nonsense from anyone.
     ‘Oh my God! Mr. Houston what have you been doing? You’re on stage soon, you have ruined my carefully applied makeup, what’s that stuff all over you? Here let me help you wipe it off.’

     ‘Stay away from me you old dragon! It’s all your fault, by smearing your dreadful muck all over my face you have managed to bring me out in incredibly itchy spots.’ Shouted the leading man in a threatening aggressive manner.

    ‘Now hold on a minute, Mr. Houston, we have to establish the facts before you are able to accuse anyone.’ Interceded Peter Whelks, nervously stepping away from both of them.

    ‘Don’t you dare speak to me in that tone of voice, you rude ignorant excuse for a gentleman. I’ll slap your face hard for you and you’ll need more than camomile lotion. How come nobody else in the company is showing any signs of these spots?’

    ‘Shut up you idiotic clown! Of course, it’s the gunge you call stage makeup that you’ve been spreading all over my face for the last two weeks now.’ Shouted Harry Houston.

     ‘Look here Harry, You are out of order here. I must insist you apologise to Mrs. Spinks at once please.’ Peter Whelks broke in again.

  With a sudden crack, the tall 6-foot figure of Harry Houston staggered back under the force of a sharp slap from the diminutive Mrs. Spinks.
To everyone’s surprise, Harry Houston suddenly attempted to speak but his tongue seemed to be thick and swollen. He collapsed and rapidly passed out as he hit the floor. It took seconds for Peter Whelks to react
    ‘Call an ambulance quickly!’ he shouted, ‘ He’s not moving at all, I think he is unconscious.’
Derek, a stagehand, who had been standing by, enjoying this unplanned spectacle instantly pulled out his mobile phone and dialed 999. Twelve minutes later a Paramedic arrived on a motorcycle followed by an emergency ambulance. Three professionals were soon hard at work, desperately trying to bring Harry Houston around.

   Mrs. Spinks meanwhile had turned a deathly shade of white and Derek, the stagehand quickly bought up a chair for her. Peter Whelks ordered him to fetch a glass of water for her from the kitchen adjoining the stage. Then turning to Mrs. Spinks he said, ‘Don’t worry, my dear, there is a lot more happening here than meets the eye.’
Mrs. Spinks, her lips trembling and her hands visibly shaking with shock, sat still, transfixed into silence.

     ‘Has anyone telephoned Belinda Houston and let her know what’s happening here?’ enquired Peter Whelks.

  At that precise moment, a tall immaculately dressed lady arrived. Belinda Houston had appeared, right on cue.
    ‘What’s going on? I hear Harry has collapsed and is receiving medical attention.’

  ‘Yes,’ replied Peter. ‘He is in that ambulance there undergoing treatment, the young paramedic standing over there will give you the details.’

Belinda approached the young lady paramedic and said,
‘I’m Mrs. Houston, What’s happened to my husband? I hear he has suddenly collapsed.’

     ‘Yes Mrs. Houston, I’m Ruby Dawson, a senior paramedic. We have brought him around, he seems to have been undergoing a shock reaction to an, as yet, unidentified substance. Can you tell us if he’s allergic to anything obvious? He has a nasty rash on his face and his neck.’

   ‘Oh! Of course, he has a strong allergy to peanuts, the slightest trace of a peanut is enough to provoke a reaction. He knows better than to go near peanuts.’ replied Mrs. Houston.

   ‘That’s it! Exactly what we thought, he has had an anaphylactic shock episode. I’m sorry to say he’ll have to spend the night in hospital under observation. Would you like to accompany your husband in the ambulance?’

   ‘No thanks, I think I will follow in my car after I’ve collected a few things from home.’

  After the ambulance had left the theatre, Peter Whelks called Imelda Spinks and Derek, the stagehand into his office and announced that the show would go on with the understudy in the leading role. He stated quite emphatically that in the interests of confidentiality they were forbidden to discuss the events of the day. He assured Imelda that the management would act with every sympathy for her predicament as the treatment meted out to her by Harry Houston had been unacceptable.
Several days later a huge bouquet arrived for Imelda from Harry Houston with a note of apology attached.

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

A WINTER’S NIGHT IN THE CITY

A REEDSY PROMPT

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A WINTER’S NIGHT IN THE CITY

by John Yeo

  The time by the clock on the Cathedral spire chimed with three loud sonorous peals, assaulting the night and the eardrums of the lone figure wrapped in a dirty blanket, who was lying almost out of sight in a stone archway.

 In the near vicinity, a loud siren screamed with an urgency as an ambulance sped through the city streets, answering a distress call or transporting a sick or injured person to a hospital.

 A vicious wind, whipped around the tall tower blocks across the way causing a harsh updraft. The rain, correctly forecast by some of the passers-by; the few who took the time to talk had temporarily become slashing sleet. A chilling sleet that quickly turned to icy hard drops that stung the face of the figure lying prone on some sheets of cardboard. Clearly visible was a partially torn off address label that simply had the word Amazon left for all the world to see.

 Suddenly Spot, the dog lying close to this frozen figure gave a low growl and bared his teeth.
  ‘What is it, boy?” Exclaimed Freddy, the sad supine sleeper who was forced to spend his nights out in this unfriendly cold atmosphere. Freddy tried to wet his frozen lips with spittle to enable his words to become audible.
Freddie had suffered a marital breakdown several months before and he was now forced to live on the streets.
Spot gave another louder growl as a four-legged, doglike creature padded past them on the pavement.

  ‘Ah! I can see him.’ Said Freddie to himself, ‘An urban Fox on the prowl for food scraps, you’ll be unlucky here Foxy. We’re both starving, it will be a while until any hopes of food arrive.’

 Soon another sound broke the silence as Karla, a heavily made-up lady of the night stepped out of a taxi that suddenly drew up alongside the curb where Freddie was sleeping. Flicking her long peroxide blonde hair from her eyes, she frowned at Freddie and said,
  ‘Hey there! I brought you a cold hotdog and a cup of coffee. You’d better drink this fast before it turns to ice!’

 A strong smell of cheap perfume wafted into the alcove, mixing and fighting for supremacy over the damp musty smell of unwashed humanity.

  ‘Thanks!’ grunted Freddie, wiping ice crystals from his lips. ‘Are you by any chance an angel?’

Freddie broke the hotdog in half and gave half to the dog.

  ‘Are you kidding? All my flying high is in my dreams. I’ve had a rough night, one of the punters tried to beat me up. If I had a minder I would have been fine, but I don’t believe in encouraging pimps to steal from me.’

   ‘What happened?’ Asked Freddie.

 ‘I kicked him hard between the legs and ran for my life. Goodnight to you, I would invite you home but my husband and the kids are fast asleep up there.’
With that she entered one of the tower blocks across the way, clip-clopping on her outrageous red high heels.

Soon with a sudden silent glare of headlights, two police cars stopped and stationed themselves across the street, right outside Oscar’s, a large nightclub a dozen yards or so away.
  ‘Must be chucking out time Spot, the law has arrived in case of trouble.’
As the club emptied, two bouncers stationed themselves each side of the door, a large crowd of people surged out into the streets at once.

The worldly-wise policemen just sat inside their high visibility police cars watching. They knew it was far too cold for any of the club crowd to hang around causing trouble. A fleet of taxis soon started ferrying the clubbers away and before long silence descended on the city streets again.

Dawn broke and as Freddie was drifting into a fitful dozy state. Spot gave a loud bark as a man in a Salvation Army uniform, wearing the familiar peaked hat greeted him with a friendly grin on his ruddy chilled face.
  ‘Are you OK? I’ve got sandwiches and a hot drink here if you feel like eating.’

 Freddie grabbed the plastic carrier bag and immediately wolfed down a cheese and pickle sandwich. Mouthing his thanks, Freddie sipped the scalding coffee, that burnt his insides as he swallowed the steaming fluid slowly. He wrapped his hands around the outside of the polystyrene cup for warmth. Spot made some hungry doggy noises and Freddie fed him half a cheese and pickle sandwich,

  ‘Thanks be to God and the local supermarket’s largesse,’ said the kindly soldier of the Lord. ‘Are you in need of anything? I can take you to a shelter but I’m afraid dogs aren’t allowed.’

  ‘Then no thanks!’ Freddie replied, ‘I go nowhere without Spot, he’s my constant companion.’

  ‘I understand,’ replied the kindly man, ‘Here’s an address where you can get help in the morning, even with Spot staying with you for a short while.’

  ‘Thanks again,’ answered Freddie. “Goodbye!’

A road sweeping vehicle trundled by, with large brushes that swept up most of the detritus left in the road by the clubbers who seemed to consume vast quantities of fast food washed down with cans of drink and coffee.

Morning broke as the thick clouds in the sky lightened slightly. The persistent rain and sleet had stopped now. Freddie dragged himself to his feet and picked up his crutch. He rolled up his sleeping bag and his blanket and packed them into a large canvas bag.
He headed for the local hamburger restaurant where he could use the toilets and clean himself up a bit if the staff didn’t notice that he hadn’t purchased anything.
He tied up Spot outside and muttered, ‘Sorry boy, I won’t be long, I have an appointment at the hospital today. Got to get my leg sorted out.’

Spot whimpered and stood guard over the three bags that were all the possessions Freddie owned in the world.

Soon the roads were full of traffic, cars, and buses transporting workers heading for the city offices as another winter’s night in the city drew to a close.

Copyright ©️ Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

 

CONFLAGRATION

I wrote the following piece of Flash Fiction for our Church magazine in response to the monthly theme of Inflation.

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Image Courtesy of pixabay.com

 

Conflagration

by John Yeo

  It started as a tiny spark that jumped from the orange flames with a crack that made old Ben jump, as a gleaming ember settled on his hand.
Ben, well known as a worthless, no good, lazy member of the parish, was roasting a plump pheasant  in the embers of his campfire.
Ben cursed volubly and brushed the ember from his hand, causing a large area of his skin to be affected by the burn. Ben ate his meal and as his hand became painful, he made his way to the local surgery where it was cleaned and dressed by the Practice Nurse.
   ‘How did you manage to do this?’ Nurse Amelia enquired.

  Ben thought for a moment and said, ‘Oh! I discovered a fire in the woods and I noticed it was beginning to burn out of control heading for the village. I simply stopped it from spreading.’

Soon after, with a cacophony of sirens, six fire engines from several of the neighboring towns descended on the village. There was indeed a large fire burning out of control in the woods. It seemed to have rekindled itself somehow.

Later in the Pedlars Arms, Robin the landlord and some of his cronies were excitedly discussing the events of the day together.

   ‘I understand we have a local hero, Poacher Ben discovered a forest fire that was heading towards the village and he single-handedly doused it and saved the lives of us all. Sadly it started up again the emergency services were quick to respond.’

‘Wow! you mean that worthless wretch is a hero.’ said Roger, the local Draper.

‘Yes that’s right,’ continued Robin, ‘I understand Mrs. Peabody has telephoned the local rag and they are sending a reporter to interview him here. Sarah my wife is comforting him and cleaning him up right now to face the Press.’

Ben quickly became a celebrity as he described the fire that he had somehow managed to divert towards the river bank.

The local newspapers had banner headlines. ‘Local hero saves his community.’

A certain wise member of the village was heard to mumble.
‘If it takes just a spark to start a fire that becomes a raging conflagration.
It needs but a tiny pin to deflate the inflation of an ego that becomes hugely inflated.’

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

 

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.