Ms Hattie

 

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Meredith stared at the glistening and twinkling light display.  The crisp winter air was fresh on her face as she sipped a hot chocolate.  The Stars, Moon and Surprises Display was illuminating the town for one evening only and the people of Roseville were amazed at the spectacle.  Multi-coloured cotton ball string lighting hung from the tall evergreens that line the four avenues which meet at the town centre.

Bright yellow fluorescent lighting enveloped the gazebo in the town square, while blue fairy lights were fixed to railings in the park where Meredith was standing, admiring the beauty of sapphire, baby blue, royal blue, powder blue, light blue lights sparkling and dazzling in Roseville town park, adjacent to Ms Hattie, the town’s oldest resident, a strong oak tree that has stood the test of time and if she could talk, she would have an audience in awe of historic battles, weather patterns and how the town has developed over the last few centuries.

Meredith’s grandfather told her about how the big storm of 1901 could not flatten Ms Hattie, while adjoining trees were uprooted.  The summer of 1915 had a sweltering heatwave and Ms Hattie continued to grow tall while other trees withered.  She is an icon of the pretty five thousand resident town which Meredith is so proud of.  In the words of David Icke, “Today’s mighty oak is just yesterday’s nut that held it’s ground”.

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Dream

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I am writing this to you today, my sweet child, on your birthday.

There are things I would like you to know when I must go away

Life, think of it just like the weather. Wet days we use an umbrella and put on a coat, some of us stay indoors until the rain passes,

Sunny days we put on sun hats, sun cream and mind our eyes with sunglasses.

My child, in life, tough days come and go, bright days come and go, people come and go

Remember to always have a goal, an aim, a dream.

Life will mould, bash, uplift, drag, stall, shock, hearten, strengthen, weaken you.

I hope you have more highs than falls.

I hope you show resilience and persistence but no gall.

Remember to always have a goal, an aim, a dream.

Tina

 

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Tina knew that yesterday’s fiasco was the catalyst to open her own business.  She had earned millions for the fashion design company in the decade that she had worked for Pizzazz.  She had a steady stream of wealthy clients, a reputation that was applauded during the awards season and credentials that were worthy of her own name being on her own designs.

The boardroom was always so daunting for Tina.  She stared at the clock as every employee in her unit took their seats.  It was 4:02pm.  At the start of each quarter, she would be asked by Michele Pizzazz how much did she earn for the company.  The staff revered Michele Pizzazz.  When she was in town, it was only ever to assess the employee’s performance.  A tall brunette Parisian who inherited the fashion design business from her father and rose to the CEO position instantly when she stomped her feet and threw a strop.  “Only two million” answered Ms Pizzazz abruptly.  That was the straw that broke the camels back as far as Tina was concerned.  Tina was raised in a family who were taught that if you work hard, you should know your worth.  Her entrepreneurial skills could be developed she thought to herself as Ms Pizzazz continued to outline reasons why two million is not enough in a quarter.  Tina remembers zoning out of Ms Pizzazz’s rant, glancing at the clock, it was 4:05pm, and arising from her seat, placing her Filofax into her briefcase and walking calmly out of Boardroom A.  She remembers touching the button on the elevator and strolling out of the lobby, briefly looking back to take one last glance at her office window, faces pressed up against the pane of glass to gawk at her leaving, Tina smiled and went home.  She slept so soundly.

This morning’s journey by train was filled with excitement.  She was going to choose a new office from which to base her new company.  The future is bright as she is now able to continue working in a flamboyant and vibrant industry.  She is not letting one setback prevent her realising her dream. She loves everything about fashion and is in her element deciding if a client should wear a pink swing coat, a black duffle coat or if a client should accessorise with a clutch, satchel or tote bag. Tina took a deep breath in and sighed, she felt her body calm muscles that were overworked and underappreciated.  From now on, she was going to look after her happiness and become the successful designer she deserves to be acknowledged as.

The Missal

missalFather Jim clutched the missal tightly as he strode confidently to the altar.  It was his stage and he loved spreading the word of God and being able to help those less fortunate than himself.  Life has been good to him.  Graduating top of his class in college, spending years in a seminary in Rome, which to him is the Hollywood of the church, then becoming a parish priest of a developing parish in South Africa.

He fitted in well as he had a humble nature, which he always maintains is from his mother, Margaret Byrne, a lady who was born into a wealthy family but was taught at an early age by her own parents to share the wealth.  She started a dress making business in their local town of Caherlong on the rugged west coast of Ireland.  Every summer she would hire the services of a tailor and the duo would kit out the students of the town in new clothes for the school term.  If the parents of the students were able to pay, she would accept but if they weren’t then so be it, she still gave them the clothes.

Father Jim always uses the mantra of ‘never look down on somebody unless you are helping them up’.

Home Comforts

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Rita smiled like the cat who got the cream as she looked back on last time at the caravan which had been her home for the past few months.  She was made temporarily homeless by Hurricane Jane last winter.  Weather warnings had been in place but hurricanes that forceful in this part of the country were very rare, so the townspeople didn’t prepare enough.  Windows and doors should have been boarded up to minimise shattered glass, water supply should have been turned off to prevent floods and homes should have stocked up on food to prevent the looting of local supermarkets that took place in the days immediately following the hurricane.

The aftermath still haunts Rita.  Her son, Toby, was only a new born when it happened. The strong gale force winds howled loudly that November morning.  The rain fell so fast, Rita thought the clouds above her were going to open so wide and swallow up her house.  Cars were lifted off the roads and flowed down the new river that used to be her street.  Trees that stood long before even her grandparents were born were uprooted in minutes.

“Oh, my goodness, what will I do for supplies?” cried a panicked Rita to her husband Jerry.  “We’ll get help from the army” answered Jerry in a quivering voice that couldn’t hide his nervousness.  A team of locals set up a makeshift relief centre in the town hall.  The next few weeks saw people moved to caravans.  It wasn’t quite like home comforts, but it was their own personal space and it meant the world to Rita.

The days of going down to the local town hall to stock up on necessities give her haunting flashbacks.  She learned to never take for granted day to day errands that she normally complained of, like going to the supermarket for nappies, milk or bread.  Using clean water sterilising baby feeding equipment was always a difficulty after the hurricane.  People are the mercy of weather and at times like this appreciate the simple things of life.

Rita was moving into a house today.  Knowing she will have hot water, electricity, a cosy bed to lay down her weary body, her baby will be snug in his cot all tucked up safely like every baby should be.  On a joyful day like today, she remembers a saying her mother used to say to her growing up, “Never forget who ignored you when you needed them, and who helped you before you could even ask”.

In Too Deep

 

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“Is this what my life has come to?” cried Johnny as blood dripped from his forehead.  He gripped his ankle and put pressure on it to check if could stand up. He could. Just about.  After falling from one oil tanker down the big drop onto the sharp stones, he still wasn’t sure if ‘they’ were following him.  Suddenly, he heard footsteps.  “Johnny” roared a furious male voice. “Johnny” the voice roared again.  A heart broken Johnny knew that voice all too well. It was his brother Stewart’s voice.  Johnny had minutes earlier stooped to his lowest act ever.  He had stolen a massive amount of money from the bedside locker of his frail grandfather.

Stewart took chase after him out of the hospital along with Dave, their oldest brother. They had caught up with him near the train station shop, but Johnny, all too well knowing how to escape from people on foot, leaped over a railing, he caught one last glimpse of his brothers before he escaped, Stewart was frothing at the mouth with anger while Dave was grasping his chest trying to catch his breath, Johnny then took off like a rocket up a steep embankment.

Life had been so good to Johnny up until three months ago.  Since April, he spiralled into a downfall through greed.  It is hard to believe he built up an estate agent firm, his personality of all smiles and sharp black suits made him quite successful.  He knew how to talk the talk.  However, a collection of under the table envelopes and a few back slaps at corporate luncheons meant he got on the wrong side of some people.  His business was shut down by the authorities and he was facing years in jail if didn’t go on the run.

“Your game is up” bellowed Stewart.  Johnny, not having the stamina required to lift himself off the stones, closed his eyes, laid down and waited for Stewart to find him.  Footsteps became louder and Johnny prepared himself for a severe beating from his brothers.  Stewart knelt beside him and Johnny started bawling.  The toll of weeks on the run from the law was coming to a head.  Dave, then approached the two lads, still grasping his chest and surprisingly missing one shoe, gave Johnny a big hug.  “You’ve to face the music buddy but we’ll stand by you” assured Dave.  Johnny linked his brothers arms and hobbled off into the evening sky.

Castle Tale

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The foggy, chilly air wrapped around Orla like a blanket of hugs.  She felt anxious looking up at this monstrosity of a building but as a historian, she was in her element that she was standing in front of this castle in Bulgaria. The solitude added to the atmosphere she was feeling.

Standing, gawping and smiling, Orla felt like a child on Christmas morning, this castle was her Disneyland and she was about to see in person how people lived long ago.  She had read copious books about the area and her imagination was running wild inside her head, thinking about the workmanship, the skill and arduous work involved in building such an impressive sight, the battles fought here, the brave soldiers crossing the fortress and if they made it out alive.

A firm believer that travel broadens the mind, Orla walked on the bumpy pebble stone path towards the front door, a quote from Turkish writer Mehmet Murat ildan came to mind, instead of building castles against your enemies, build bridges for them to come to you! Orla turned the knob of the front door to be greeted by a local tour guide, Ivan, a friendly man with broken English but enough to amaze Orla with tales of how land was swapped between one army to another, families lost young men in battle and amazingly how the castle stood the test of time and has been left unscathed throughout centuries of wars.

Orla took numerous photos of dungeons, banquet halls that would have served lavish meals and spiral staircases that would have been intimidating in candlelight during a battle, “Imagine not knowing if you were going to walk into an enemy”, voiced Orla quietly to the tour guide. “Exactly”, responded Ivan. Orla finished her tour an hour later and returned to her rental car, taking one last look at the stunningly mystical setting of the castle, she smiled, and turned the ignition on in the car to return to her hotel.