#Writer’s Wednesday… #Simple by Anita Dawes #Mystery #PsychologicalSuspense

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Chapter One

Gran stormed across the clearing, bending to pick up a stick from the ground without breaking her stride.  Simple, sitting against the woodpile, was in for another of her beatings.  I yelled for him to run, but he didn’t hear me.  Lost in one of his daydreams I guessed.

I watched in silence as Gran repeatedly swung the stick hard against the side of her son’s head.  There were no words to describe Simple’s pain or the pain of watching.  He probably didn’t even know what it was for and I hated her for making me feel all the things he couldn’t say. He didn’t move or look her in the face, not until she let the stick drop from her bony fingers did he feel safe enough to close his eyes.  He slowly put his hands to his battered head, blood pushing its way through the gaps in his dirty fingers.

 

Jack was Gran’s firstborn, a mean son of a bitch.  Then came Simple who was soft in the head and lived in a dream world.  Tommy, my favourite, was the youngest and nowhere near as bad as Jack.  They were supposed to make sure Simple stayed away from town.  Gran never could bear the thought of Simple going anywhere near there, but never let on why.  The beatings came when he forgot, and somehow Gran always found out.  I figured she should give up on the beatings; it wasn’t helping him to remember to stay away.

I knew why the others went to town so often.  The girls there let them do whatever they had a mind to.  I couldn’t figure why Simple sneaked off; not for girls, I knew that much.  Tommy and Jack had teased him enough about Lizzie, the day they caught him spying on her as she washed in the river.

Watching Gran beat Simple made me think back to the day I lay by the river. I was trying to catch hold of the whispers in my head while looking at the reflection of the clouds in the water.  It was something I liked to do and usually had the place to myself.

That particular day, I had company.  Lizzie was taking a bath and Simple was watching from the bushes.  Without warning, the boys appeared and dragged Simple out of the bushes he thought hid him from sight.  Jack grabbed Simple viciously between the legs, saying it was time he knew how to use it.  They called for Lizzie to come out of the water.

I hid behind a rock, too scared to run back to the cabins.  It wouldn’t matter if I told Gran anyway, she’d say they needed their fun and to let them be.

Tommy helped Lizzie up onto the bank.  She stood there naked, her dark hair dripping.  The water running down her skinny legs made muddy pools at her feet.  Jack stopped her from picking up her clothes.  ‘You won’t be needin’ them just yet, Lizzie.  We’re goin’ to have us a little fun.  It’s Simple’s birthday.’

‘No it ain’t, and I ain’t doing what you have a mind to.  Not with Simple.’

Jack took hold of her arms and roughly pulled her close to him.  ‘You’re mine and you’ll do like I say, missy.  You’re his birthday present.’

Simple tried to move away but Jack held him back; telling him he didn’t want to miss out on such a fine gift.  He threw Lizzie to the ground like a rag doll.  I watched, too afraid to move.  Jack had ears like a bat if I moved an inch he would hear me.  Fear and fascination swam together in my head; knitting an invisible chain that held me fast behind the rock.

Jack stood between her legs and unfastened his belt.  He undid his belt, pushed his pants down and fell on Lizzie, pumping his body up and down.  Tommy pulled Simple down on the ground beside them, slapping Jack’s bare behind.  ‘See, Simple, this is how you please the girls.’

There was much grunting and groaning before Jack let out an even bigger groan and rolled away from Lizzie, his thing still dripping as he pulled up his pants. Tommy pushed Simple down on top of Lizzie and he lay there like a big lump.  As Jack pulled him to his knees, a clump of Simple’s dark brown hair came away in his hand.

‘You see how I did it, now set to, before I tell Gran what we saw you tryin’ to do in town again.’

I wish I knew what Simple did that got Gran so mad, so fired up about him being in town.  He was crying like a baby, tears and snot sliding down his face.  Jack kicked him viciously and he fell forward, stopping himself from flattening Lizzie by putting his hands out, hitting the ground so hard the dry dirt sprung up between his fingers.

I wished there was something I could do to help Simple, but Tommy and Jack had been at Gran’s grog again and I knew if I showed my face, they would do the same to me.  Lizzie seemed to have gotten over the idea of Simple getting at her, giggling as Tommy pulled Simple’s pants off.  I couldn’t bear to watch anymore and turned my face away, but I heard every sound that escaped from Simple’s lips.  I wondered what thoughts were running through his head if any.

For days after, I couldn’t bear to look at Simple or talk to him and knew how much he missed that.  I was the only one who spent the time of day with him.  The others always teased him, saying words over and over before moving on to the next the way Simple did.  I spent hours getting him to speak slowly, and with me, his stammer wasn’t so bad. When Simple got worked up his words stuck, stretched out like an echo rebounding around the woods before finding the end of it.  Most times he gave up trying to say what was in his head.

The back of Gran’s cabin was the only place to find any shade unless you took off into the woods, which wasn’t always a good idea.  Folk around here tend to look out for their own and looking out for the neighbours wasn’t their way of doing things, especially the Spiers.  We’d been having trouble with them for as long as I could remember.

I sat with my back against rough, weathered timber that had been cut from the woods, grateful to be alone to hear the wind rush through the trees, whispering my name.  Emily, the name my heart recognised. Not Leanne, the one they called me.  I got to thinking that Gran would have renamed me, not wanting anything to do with town folk or the names they called their children.  Seeing as how Uncle Jimmy had let slip that my folks had come from the town, I got to thinking how on earth Gran could be mine.  I figured the only way was one of my parents must have been kin to my grandpa.  That could account for the way she looked at me sometimes as if I didn’t really belong.  Part outsider; which is how I felt most of the time.

This got me looking closer at Gran’s boys.  They didn’t look like they come from the same seed either.  Jack, mean and dark, had the best looks. Tommy was the just the opposite.  Fair and plain, as if they forgot to give him character.  I’d been told that Simple was soft in the head because Gran had been too old for birthing. That couldn’t be the true reason, for Tommy was all right. Didn’t matter to me though, I liked him the way he was; all soft and gentle, yet big enough to make me feel safe.  Big enough to squash the rest of them flat should he take a mind to.  Reckon that’s why Uncle Jimmy keeps clear of Simple.  I heard him tell Jack one day that Simple would snap soon enough with all the teasing he gets.

I told Gran once that sometimes I thought I could hear my Ma calling me by another name, could feel her reaching for me and almost make out her face.  Gran said I must be getting soft in the head like Simple and warned me not to talk rubbish again.  I knew better than try.  She would whop me like she always did when something didn’t please her.  It didn’t pay to have an opinion or argue with Gran about anything.

Lizzie said it was just my imagination playing tricks on me, but I didn’t believe any of it.  I felt it in my heart, not my head, and it wasn’t the summer heat frying my brains as Tommy suggested.

Gran said she would be making one of her rare trips to town soon.  I would be twelve next month and according to her, a young woman needs new clothes.  This meant material for Gran to make a new dress, two if I was lucky.  Gran hated going to town, but she knew you couldn’t trust men folk to choose anything.  I knew how hard this would be for her and my heart reached out to hug her, my body slow to follow.

Gran waved the air in front of her to keep me away.  ‘No need to thank me, girl.’

I wished what I felt inside didn’t always show so quick on my face.  My life would be a mite happier if it didn’t.

Lizzie had told Gran about the young’un she was expecting and Gran wasn’t best pleased.  Didn’t matter who the pa was, she didn’t ask.  All she said was, it had better be stronger than the last one. ‘You ain’t made for young’uns, Lizzie. Age has taken your best chances. This has to be the last one, that’s if you can keep it from falling away before its time.’

In the past, Lizzie had managed to keep one until it was three months old.  It was sick from the start, Gran said.  And Lizzie too foolish to give it the right kind of care.  No milk to speak of and she forgot about it for days on end.  Took off with Jack and left it crying.  I asked Gran why she didn’t take care of it, seeing as how she knew better.  It was a stupid question and I almost felt the heat from her eyes singe the hair on my arms.

‘The brat’s Lizzie’s, not mine,’ she snapped.

I couldn’t understand Gran’s way of thinking or feeling.  All hard and shrivelled, weren’t any softness about her, not even around the eyes.  Something bad must have happened to make her so hard.  There wasn’t anything I could do, no way for me to change her.  The child Lizzie lost had been buried just outside the clearing by a big old redwood.  I would sit there sometimes and lay a few wildflowers on the makeshift grave.  All Lizzie said was I was too soft to live in the woods. She didn’t seem to care about the loss.

‘Gran should’ve taken you to town years ago, left you outside the church.’  She often said that when feeling particularly mean.

When Gran didn’t ask who the pa might be, I wondered if she might have something to say if she knew it might be Simple.  I found myself hoping this one would be strong.  Having a baby around would be real nice.  I could help Lizzie take care of it.

Just then, Jack stormed into the cabin behind me, yelling about the Spiers’ messing with his traps again, taking his kills.  That I knew to be one mistake they would pay for.  Gran told him to hush up and let Jimmy take care of it when he got home.  Jack went on and on about the Spiers, he had a thing about them. Every time anything went wrong or the still broke, he would say they had been at it.

Gran told him he was too thick to take care of any one of them.

‘It’s no wonder you lost your kill, shouting your mouth off in town. Makin’ out like a big man, letting’ on where you left the traps.’

I heard Tommy ask how she knew.

‘It ain’t hard to figure, when she knows you couldn’t keep your mouth shut if she was to stitch it.’

Jack must have lost his temper and thrown a chair across the cabin, because something hit the side where I sat, listening.  The thought of Uncle Jimmy coming made the cool spot behind the cabin too cold and I moved off into the sun.

I wondered what he wanted, what brought him down from the mountains.  Jimmy was a mean one, even meaner than Jack was.  Tall and quiet, he liked killing, hunting things.  Animals, men, even bugs weren’t safe.  He would flatten anything that crossed his path, his hands quick as lightning, grabbing winged creatures from the air.  Didn’t seem to matter some of them might sting.

I saw him swallow a wasp once after teasing Simple with it.  Mostly he liked pulling the heads off his kills.  Said even a man ain’t nothing without it, get rid of the head, you get rid of trouble.  That’s what he believed.

His visits were always too long.  Tommy hated him and swore he would take off one day and never come back.  Gran laughed.  She’d heard him say it so often; she didn’t believe he had a mind to do it.  I could see in his eyes that one day he would, he was tired of living in fear of Jimmy and being in Jack’s shadow.

I thought about taking off some days.  Thing was, where to?  I guess Tommy had the same trouble.  Town was good for letting off steam, but the woods were home.  Clarksville was growing speedily, too fast for Gran’s liking. She said it was getting closer to the woods each year.  Full of outsiders thinking they can wander where they please and look down their noses at the way we live.  The sheriff was up here just last week, telling Gran I should be attending school.  She sent him off, saying I knew all I needed to.  School didn’t have anything she couldn’t put in my head.

There were times when I wondered if she was right.  Maybe I would have liked school, made friends of my own age.  Throwing the idea at Gran did no good at all; she had a thing about town folk.  Strange, when I’d heard Jimmy say that grandpa had been from Clarksville.

‘Your Gran liked town folk fine back then.  Never did say what changed her mind.’

Jimmy said grandpa died one winter, caught by one of his own traps. Wolves ate most of his body.  I could understand how this would make Gran sad, but I couldn’t make sense of the way she spoke about town and the folk that lived there. Outsiders, she called them.  There had to be a reason for the way she hated them.  I knew better than to ask, but by keeping my ears open, I would hear most things soon enough.

Jimmy had brought down two headless deer for Gran’s larder.  I wondered what he did with the heads.  Tommy said he ate them, but I figured he buried them, although I half wondered if Tommy was right.

Uncle Jimmy hadn’t been with us for more than a week, when the sheriff turned up again, warning Gran to have a word with her boys.

‘Ned Harrison’s been shooting’ his mouth off about Tommy, if he sets eyes on him again he’s gonna kill him. Says he’s been messing’ around with his wife.’

Jimmy stood there the whole time, his rifle cracked open across his arm.  The sun lighting up the fact the barrel weren’t empty.  It didn’t seem to worry the sheriff, he had his hand on the butt of his own gun, looking Gran in the eyes.  I could see Tommy hiding behind the water barrels while the sheriff tried explaining to Gran that he couldn’t keep an eye on Ned all the time.

‘Wouldn’t want your boy to lose his head over a piece of pussy.  Have a word with him, Ma’am.’  Touching the rim of his hat, he bid Gran good day.

I reckon he saw Tommy because he doffed his hat again as he passed the water barrels.

Tommy tried to get out of a beating by telling Gran the sheriff wanted to get it on with Ned’s wife himself.

‘Jealousy is all, Gran.  Ned ain’t gonna shoot no one, too full of grog mostly. When he ain’t drinking’ he’s sleeping’. ‘Lizabeth’s real nice Gran, I like her and old Ned ain’t gonna last forever the way he’s carrying’ on. I figured on movin’ in when he passes.’

‘Is that so?’  Gran said.  ‘Got a mind to help him on his way, bring more trouble that ain’t my doing’?’

‘No Ma.’  Tommy said, his eyes and voice pleading for her not to reach for the stick by her feet.  I could see in her eyes it was no good, she needed to whop him for reasons of her own…

Simple is just 99p this week… just saying!

Tales of Old… #Poetry

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Old fairy tales haunt the air

They wait for memory to bring them back

What evil do we breathe?

Dark woods that call you there

To feed from life, retell their stories

Of magic swords and healing cups

Treasures buried in hidden caves

Where dragons sleep, do not disturb

How do you feel when the winds blow cold?

Is it the ice queen breathing down your back?

Do you hear wolves late at night?

Do you have a cloak of red?

Can you see the house of sugar?

Did you leave crumbs to find your way out?

Did you find Aladdin’s Lamp, rub it clean

Hear the genie scream, what is your wish?

Careful now, lest darkness calls on a witches broom

She’s flying by, your desire she heard

Mischief comes in strange disguise

No needles in this kingdom found

Save one, now they sleep for years to come

Prick not your finger, lest your life be undone

A golden plait hangs from on high

A maiden rescued from tower walls

Who can tell what thoughts are memories

Carried by the wind, imparting old life to live within…

AAAAA

Tales of Old… #Poetry

genie_by_repeatingarms.jpg

 

Old fairy tales haunt the air

They wait for memory to bring them back

What evil do we breathe?

Dark woods that call you there

To feed from life, retell their stories

Of magic swords and healing cups

Treasures buried in hidden caves

Where dragons sleep, do not disturb

How do you feel when the winds blow cold?

Is it the ice queen breathing down your back?

Do you hear wolves late at night?

Do you have a cloak of red?

Can you see the house of sugar?

Did you leave crumbs to find your way out?

Did you find Aladdin’s Lamp, rub it clean

Hear the genie scream, what is your wish?

Careful now, lest darkness calls on a witches broom

She’s flying by, your desire she heard

Mischief comes in strange disguise

No needles in this kingdom found

Save one, now they sleep for years to come

Prick not your finger, lest your life be undone

A golden plait hangs from on high

A maiden rescued from tower walls

Who can tell what thoughts are memories

Carried by the wind, imparting old life to live within…

AAAAA

#Jaye’s Journal: An Unexpected Visitor…

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My office is usually a quiet, peaceful place. Unless something goes radically wrong and I am having a rant.

Today was almost such a day, but I was trying hard not to lose it, determined to figure out what I was doing wrong and why my WIP was proving so difficult to get right.

I have to sit with my back to the door, something I wish I could change but the layout of the room doesn’t allow for any change. So when I sensed someone standing behind me, I assumed it to be one of the family.

‘Ma’am, that is surely a crying shame…’

The soft gentle voice of a man, inches from my ear should have alarmed me, but my curiosity had the better of me and I wondered what he was talking about. Although I wasn’t entirely sure if I had imagined it, I answered. ‘Pardon?’

‘I have to say that character is all wrong, you know…’

By now, I knew I wasn’t imagining it, but insanity seemed a better fit. I was also fascinated, so decided to play along and see what happened. ‘How do you mean?’

‘If you will permit me to sit down, I will explain…’

I nodded, aware that I was about to see who my mysterious visitor was. I watched as this white haired, distinguished and a slightly familiar gentleman walked past me to sit in the only other chair in the room. He reminded me of someone, but my brain was stumbling around like an idiot at a genius convention.

He had kindly blue eyes and an enormous, also white moustache, a bit like Albert Einstein, but I was sure it wasn’t him. He sat there, next to me, calmly watching me with an amused expression on his face. I wondered id he, like me, wondered what he was doing here. I decided to ask. ‘I feel as though I should know you, but what are you doing here in my office?’

His bushy white eyebrows were moving slightly, reminding me of caterpillars.

‘Ma’am, I have no idea how I arrived here, but judging from what I just read on your notebook, I must be here to lend a hand, so to speak.’

For the next hour, we talked about my progress as a writer, my WIP and one character in particular. I had been worried about this one, so it was refreshing to have another clearly expert opinion.

‘The problem, Ma’am is this. You have not brought him to life yet. He needs to have a life, smell the coffee, and do normal things like a regular human being. He will die soon anyway…’

‘Where did you read that? And please stop calling me Ma’am, my name is Jaye.’

‘Oh, I didn’t read it, Jaye. The poor chap never eats, so he won’t last long…’

I was embarassed but had to laugh. My visitor was right. I had been so involved with the plot; I had forgotten to give him a life. My eyes returned to the chapter on the desk in front of me, eager to see with fresh eyes just what a pig’s ear I had made of it all. It occurred to me to thank my visitor for pointing out what had been wrong all along, but when I turned my head in his direction, he had gone and the chair was empty…

I tried to continue working but my brain was busy trying to remember where I had seen the old gentleman before…

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Warning Light?

 

 

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We have a mystery and a creepy one at that. We noticed it a while ago and try as we might, we cannot figure out what it is or what is causing it.

We are quite used to the spooky goings-on around us, as weird things have been happening to us for a very long time. Some of the things have been a bit scary, like the time all of the mirror tiles in the hall were removed during the night and stacked neatly against the wall. Or the times we smell pipe tobacco or perfume that vanishes as quickly as it comes.

Our cat constantly watches things, things we can’t see and follows them around the room with his eyes.  Sometimes, out of the corner of my eye, I see an old woman dressed in old-fashioned clothes in our kitchen and she seems very at home and interested in what I am doing. Our house is very old, built in 1887, so there are probably many echoes of the past in every brick!

Our lights flicker and switch off all the time, and we have had them checked, but it still happens, so when I caught sight of a strange red light among the bushes outside the front room window, I wasn’t unduly alarmed.

Curious, hell yes. It looked similar to those standby lights that all modern appliances seem to have these days.  I was sure it was outside, but it could only be seen from inside the room. Trouble was, we couldn’t find the source of the reflection, and why it was only visible from certain angles.

For ages, we thought it must have a simple explanation, but the harder we thought about it, the less sense it made. Forced to rethink, we wondered if it could be supernatural as nothing else made sense. The problem with this idea was why? And why was it there at all?

It looked for all the world as if something was sitting in the bushes outside our window. We hunted high and low, both inside and outside the window, but found nothing that could be causing it.

It had to be something reflecting on the glass, but our investigations revealed nothing. Maybe it could be a reflection from somewhere else, but where?

This has been going on for several months and we are no nearer finding the cause.

And before you say it, we know that reflections can be misleading, but it is driving us nuts!

Could it really be a demon visitor, one with only one red eye, spying on us through the window?

What do you think it could be?

 

The Broken Life #blogtour Wrap up #crime thriller http://myBook.to/BrokenLife

 

It was exciting…planning my first ever blog tour, but terrifying too.

Would I get it right — remember all those important details?

Six people volunteered, six people who will remain blessed in my heart for taking a chance on me — someone who invents ways to mess up on a daily basis.

I have revisited all of their posts, replying to all the lovely comments… and want to thank everyone who took part and made this old lady very happy.

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I am listing all of the links to my blog tour posts, just in case you didn’t get to see them.

https://lizziechantree.com/2017/06/20/meet-jaye-marie/

https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/the-broken-life/

https://suzannerogersonfantasyauthor.wordpress.com/2017/06/22/thebrokenlifeblogtour.jaydawes2-excerpt-thriller-mystery/

https://allisonmaruska.com/2017/06/23/on-being-a-writer-guest-post-by-jaye-marie/

https://betweenthelinesbookblog.com/2017/06/24/spotlight-extract-the-broken-life-by-jaye-marie-crime-thriller-jayedawes2/

https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2017/06/25/reserved-for-jaye-marie-book-promo/

https://scvincent.com/2017/06/26/guest-author-jaye-marie-thebrokenlifeblogtour-jaydawes2-mystery-thriller/

Now I have calmed down, I can look objectively at my efforts, and I see something I forgot to do.

I didn’t include any review posts!

Hopefully, I may get one or two anyway, for several people said they would be reading The Broken Life … so I haven’t being kicking myself too hard!

Before I close this post, I want to say it again…

Thank you Everybody…

Now, what else can I get up to that I haven’t done before?

The Sad Swan…

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The last time I went for a walk around our local pond/lake, I didn’t blog about it as I have been known to do in the past. This time it was just too sad…

At this time of year, we usually have nesting swans, and earlier this year a pair of swans had built a huge nest and started to lay their eggs. When I was there, I counted five eggs in the nest and made a note on the calendar to remind me when to come back to see the hatchlings.

This date was last Wednesday, and I looked forward to my visit. But the minute I arrived, I knew something was wrong. It was a grey day, no sunshine and it felt chilly, but that wasn’t it. I could sense something, something that felt wrong. No idea why, for everything looked normal, but as I approached the nest, I encountered a rather large plastic barrier at the edge of the pond. Probably put there to stop people (and dogs) from getting too close, for the nest was rather close to the land.

Then I looked at the nest. The swan in residence looked old and tired and was still sitting on the eggs. Normally she would be fussing with the nest and preening her feathers, but she was huddled over the eggs as if she was cold. More to the point, she was alone. Where was her partner?

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I knew that under no normal circumstance would they be apart. In previous years they had been good parents, sharing the care and feeding each other so as not to let the eggs get cold. I scanned the pond, but there was no sign of him (or her, as I can’t tell them apart) what on earth could have happened?

If I had been wearing boots, my heart would have been in one of them, and instead of enjoying the rest of my walk, I went home.

For days, the image of that sad and lonely swan haunted me, and I worried constantly about how she would feed herself. With the cold weather we had been having lately, it was important to keep the eggs warm.

Maybe that was why they hadn’t hatched yet. Maybe they wouldn’t. It was so very sad to contemplate.

 

I have been back again this week, but nothing had changed. Other hatchlings were swimming around, the usual moorhens and mallards, but looking at them made me sadder than ever.

I wondered about contacting the local authority, but they must be aware of what was happening, hence the newly erected barrier. Maybe something had happened to warrant this, and I tried not to think of what it could be.

I will have to go back again next week, but if the eggs still haven’t hatched, they probably never will…