At the bus stop, check my watch. 2.17.
A note on the ground. Look up the street, over the wall. No one there.
2.18. No bus. No one to find the note.
2.19. I wait.
2.20. The bus is coming. I pick it up. It’s just a blank piece of paper.
I sit on my Nana’s doorstep watching the rotary washing line turn slowly in the wind. It squeaks as it moves and occasionally tips a little. I’m convinced it’s going to fall over. Nana said to keep an eye on the washing as it’s a windy day. I wonder if she means in case it collapses or in case it blows away.
Inside all the Aunties are chattering. There’s a screech of laughing as one of them shares some gossip. They sound like a bunch of noisy chickens.
Some little birds have come to sit on the garden fence, they chirp and squabble, as if daring each other to steal the breadcrumbs left out on the grass. They quickly fly off as Mrs Nextdoor lets her dog out and it comes running in to the garden, yapping and growling.
In the distance the church bells ring. It’s tea time. Mam is in the kitchen with Nana making tea. Nana is singing her old favourite song and I can hear my mam complaining in protest. The tea cups clink together as they’re loaded on to the tray and one of the Aunties shouts out to make sure she gets a clean cup this time.
I jump up and run inside, eager to claim a red jam tart. I’m greeted by high pitched squawking of “Eee! Mind the hot tea!”
On the shore of the sea stands a lone building where The Watcher resides. The Watcher keeps watch over the calm blue seas, waiting to alert The Guardian if trouble should wash ashore.
These seas are not always such a calm blue azure, nor the dawn light such a radiant gold. There are mornings when the ruler of the ocean rises from the depths, with a horned crown and thrusts a watery sickle at land in angry protest.
At The Watcher’s call The Guardian will arise, in glorious armour and brandishing a flaming sword. The two giants, gods of sea and land meet in furious battle, casting wind and rain and thunder and lighting.
The Watcher sees it all, from the little lone house. Each time The Guardian is victorious and sends the ruler of the ocean back to the kingdom in the deep. Never in this lifetime has the ocean taken the land, though if it had there wouldn’t be a watcher to tell the tale.
Picture: Alma Thomas, The Stormy Sea, (1958)
Read more about Alma Thomas at https://americanart.si.edu/artist/alma-thomas-4778
At the bottom of the hill the road curved slowly towards the outskirts of the town. A row of old houses remained like sentinels to the the outside world. Each house was occupied, their owners having lived there for generation after generation. The seven families of the seven houses. The seventh and last house had a small extension to its side. The last building on the row. It window frames and door painted a bright festive colour. The sign on the front declared in golden ornate script. The Little Red Bookshop.
Travellers whizzing by on the road would barely notice the little shop. Even those on foot often mistook it for being long closed and abandoned. Only the few whose curiosity got the better of them ever ventured inside. The door had an old fashion bell that clunked rather than rang when the door swung open. Like many an old bookshop, the shelves were stacked high with musty tomes and long forgotten volumes of books no longer wanted or needed.
The lights were dim, save for a lamp that shone over a desk in one corner. Here a hunched figure was usually found, scrutinising some parchment or ledger with a magnifying glass.