Country Living

NatureFriend – Pixabay

*************

When life gets too much

rushing here and then rushing there

I can think of going back to that place.

When the traffic is at a standstill

beeps and horns, yelling –

where busy feet scuffle and scrape the sidewalk

the cacophony is deafening.

The rise of pungent food odours

mingle with the death knell

of tobacco smoke, blue and hazy, rising , whirling to the heavens.

A huddled figure, crumpled in the shadows

the world has gone and left behind.

A grimy palm, held out in despair –

a single utterance, all guttural,

‘buddy can you spare a dime?’

Yet people scurry by oblivious,

a stampede to get home in time

to start another day on the morrow.

And when all this has played out –

I can go back to that place of serenity

where peace and silence fills every space

where emerald green grass stretches out beyond the horizon

and blue skies press down to welcome me

where the rhythm of nature progresses on undisturbed

and where the darkness of nightfall holds no menace

Ah, country living – that’s the place for me!

***********

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time, Sharon

Secondhand Love – A Short Story!

Ksenia Chernaya – Pexels

Tulip Simpson waited nervously at the new cafe in town. It was one of those modern places all brightly coloured with chrome tables and sparkling décor.

For a moment Tulip wondered why she had agreed to this meet-up with a perfect stranger but Brenda her best friend at the warehouse where she worked, had insisted she meet the guy. Brenda assured her they would get on like a house on fire.

Tulip adjusted her glasses on a somewhat plump face and hoped her make-up looked right. Just enough but not too much.

She sipped her coffee and grimaced, it was still too hot and frothy. She would have preferred a nice big mug of sweet tea, but wanted to appear with-it and trendy. Considering what she had paid for it, Tulip was determined to drink the beverage down to the last drop.

She sipped gingerly and looked down for a moment. Brenda had talked her into getting a manicure which she reluctantly agreed to. Now, she hoped her sparkling red nails would somehow add to her appeal.

When she looked back up a guy in a beige sweater was standing hesitantly by her table.

‘Tulip?’ he asked uncertainly.

‘Malcolm?’ Tulip replied.

‘That’s me,’ Malcolm James said before pulling out a chair, ‘don’t mind if I sit down do you?’ He continued.

‘No, no,’ Tulip responded sounding more calm than she felt. Tulip stole a glance at him over the rim of her glasses. Mousey brown hair, a boyish face with a few fine lines under his eyes, hinting at his real age.

He appeared pleasant enough, not exactly movie star looks but then, she was no Julia Roberts either.

After Malcolm’s coffee arrived they chatted lightly about various things. And to her surprise Tulip began to warm to Malcolm’s dulcet tones and easy but firm manner.

‘So,’ Tulip said at length ‘how do you know Brenda?’

‘Brenda?’ Tulip nodded, causing her hair to float across her vision momentarily. She brushed it away delicately. ‘She knows Linda at the local state school where I teach maths,’ Malcolm explained.

‘I see,’ Tulip said mildly beginning to relax even more.

‘Linda teaches English, but Brenda lives a few doors down from her.’

‘Neighbours.’

‘Yes, that’s right,’ Graham said. ‘So which do you prefer Tulip, cats or dogs?’

‘Cats, I like cats.’

‘Oh, that’s a shame, I prefer dogs, they’re more loyal.’

A look of mock disapproval flitted across Tulip’s face.

‘So what are you like? Fifty?’

Tulip dropped her spoon in her coffee and gulped. She nodded her head, pondering on the boldness and quite frankly rudeness of the question. All of a sudden Tulip felt foolish, the clatter and the din of the other diners grew louder to her adding to her distress.

‘Is it that obvious? Tulip quaked

‘No, no not at all, I was simply wondering, that’s all.’

The next day at the canteen Brenda enquired optimistically. ‘So how did it go with Graham?

‘He thinks I’m too old.’

‘What!’ Brenda shouted as she spooned sugar into her tea and stirred vigorously. But he’s the same age as you!’

Tulip shrugged. ‘Says he is still hoping to have kids one day.’

‘Really,’ Brenda exclaimed, not stating the obvious.

Tulip knew what Brenda was thinking and didn’t blame her. Brenda’s two kids were grown up and gone, and as blasé as Brenda liked to be about them at times, Tulip knew she wouldn’t be without them.

‘Did you slap his face?’ Brenda asked now.

‘No,’ I didn’t, ‘what for?’

‘You can’t go around asking women their age, it’s rude.’

‘I know it is.’

And so it was that Tulip Simpson found herself childless and single at fifty years old and living at home with her mum. She had been married before, but that ended when Dave had announced one bright and breezy morning that he wasn’t in love with her anymore and had met another woman.

Friends had tried to set her up with other dates over the years but there was always something she didn’t like about them. And it was only because Brenda was sure they would get on that she agreed to meet up with Graham. And look how that had ended. Tulip resigned herself to a life of being single.

That same evening Tulip thought she might pop into the local supermarket to get her and mum something special for dinner. She deserved a treat and was actually looking forward to whipping up something nice.

As Tulip made her was down the vegetable isle she heard a male voice call her name. Hand poised over the tomatoes she looked up found herself looking into the face of a man she found vaguely familiar.

‘Tulip Simpson, isn’t it? I thought it was you.’

Tulip looked at him, a ruggedly handsome face with a quick smile, dark hair with a few streaks of grey.

‘Yes, it is,’ Tulip answered curiously.

‘It’s Phil Taylor. I remember you from college. You haven’t changed much.’

Tulip took his outstretched hand and shook it, noticing his strong grip.

That was when she remembered him. Tulip remembered also that all the girls had a crush on him including her, but he had his eyes on the very pretty Susan Saunders who he later went on to marry.

‘Yes, I remember you now,’ Tulip heard herself say, ‘how have you been?’

‘Can’t complain,’ Phil beamed. ‘And you?’

‘I’m ok,’ Tulip replied tightly.

‘Good, good. ‘You do look well, am I allowed to say?’

‘Do I? How is your wife?’ she chanced now.

‘Oh, that didn’t work out. She was more interested in taking selfies and keeping up with celebrity gossip than looking after a family. I’ve got the kids now.’

After a few pleasantries, Tulip then said, ‘it was nice to see you again Phil. Might bump into you again.’

‘Actually, Tulip, I would like to get to know you better this time. Could we meet up again? Dinner maybe?’ Phil asked eagerly.

Tulip nodded, more than a little surprised.

‘Hope you don’t mind me being secondhand, so to speak.’

‘No,’ I don’t,’ Tulip declared sweetly, ‘I was married before myself!’

************

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time, Sharon.

Approx 4 mins

Man With The Coiled Beard

Eric Masul – Unsplash

He sits on a chair as old as time itself –

a throne?

could be.

Surveying the world through liquorice eyes

blinking away the visions of being caught between this world

and the next.

Blinking away a tear

as the tragedy in all its grimness emerges

a tarnished, disturbed earth

Could be so perfect…

Another day dawns dazzling and bright.

Nightfall descends and plummets further and further

into the dimness

he feels the pull of the sea behind him, calling him,

from whence he came.

But still he sits, motionless

until with a final view, he rises slowly

and heads back to the sea

where he submerges and is consumed by the deep deep watery expanse

until nothing exists, but a stillness…

*********

Thanks for stopping by

Until next time, Sharon

Husband, Where Art Thou?A Sonnet

Swapnil Sharma – Pexels

Besieged with the same question

Rain down the same answer

‘I don’t know’, yet a smile I still plaster,

Hands wrung, oh this life’s predilection!

Songs sung to the moon and the sun

Oh, to be like many a couple made

A voice earnest and sweet ‘please send me a date’

I, comely of dress and yet a dapper prince, there is none.

Alas, dinner for one, could that be so bad?

A solo glass of wine to befuddle my senses

Rushed nuptials, entrapment, the lover’s plight

A life clouded by shadows; one of life’s trenches

No, not for me, how that would give me a fright.

For more moments in springtime. Ah, a maiden’s delight!

**********

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time, Sharon

The Waiting Room – A Short Story!

Maria Orlova

Burt Jarvis pushed open the door to the waiting room and took a seat. It was like any other waiting room in the average dentist or in some such waiting area. There was one man in there before him. Burt gave the man a cursory glance, took a look around and then fixed his gaze on nothing in particular.

‘Who are you waiting for?’ the man enquired.

‘I don’t know, I was just told to come here. I got a letter but it didn’t say who it was from,’ Burt replied.

‘That’s funny, I was told the same thing,’ the older man said.

‘So, what do you do?’ Burt asked for no reason in particular.

‘Well, that depends…’

Burt thought for a moment, then he said, ‘depends on what?’

‘Well,’ his voice had an echo about it, ‘that depends on you Burt.’

Burt felt a finger of fear run down his podgy spine, how the heck did the guy know his name. He sure as hell knew he wasn’t wearing a “My Name is Burt” T- shirt printed on the front. He sat back in the plastic chair puzzled. Maybe he remembered him from school, then the ages didn’t seem right.

Burt glanced at the other man more closely noticing his long black coat, black trousers and well-worn looking black shoes. It did occur to Burt then that a long black coat in the middle of summer was strange, but kept that to himself.

Aside from his clothes, Burt noticed his black hair had streaks of grey. All in all, a fairly well-kept guy.

He shifted uncomfortably in his seat as he pondered, scratching his chin.

‘So,’ the man’s voice broke into Burt’s thoughts.

‘Have you given it any more thought?’ the man asked in a voice that at first seemed croaky but then appeared to get louder.

Burt swallowed before speaking, all of a sudden his throat was dry, his lips even drier. His mouth opened and then shut, but nothing came out. He looked around the room as if that would contain the answers to questions that died a death in his belly region.

An ordinary room, low level square tables, tatty looking magazines, a few small windows that were surprisingly closed on such a warm day. Probably explained why Burt could feel damp patches forming under his armpits. His trousers felt tight and uncomfortable.

‘When was the last time you saw your kids?’ the man asked pointedly.

‘How, how…’ Burt squealed.

‘That’s not important Burt, ‘what’s important is that you see them. I mean, how long has it been?’

‘About twelve years,’ Burt replied obediently.

‘That’s a long time.’

Burt thought for a while as beads of sweat trickled down the sides of his forehead. Who was this guy? How could he know so much? Telling him, Burt Jarvis what he thought was good for him. It didn’t make any sense to Burt, maybe he was caught up in some sort of TV programme where they revealed your secrets and habits, and before long there would be cameras and lights flashing in his face. Burt looked around again nervously, but saw nothing in the room that would lead to that. Strange.

The man’s voice boomed when he continued, ‘what about those times you cheated on your wife?’

‘That was just the once,’ Burt lied.

The man arched a greying eyebrow. ‘What about all that money you have been stealing from your firm?’

Before Burt could think he blurted out, ‘do you know how much it costs to keep your mother in a nursing home? It’s bloody expensive. What he didn’t add was he would be happy when she dropped down dead.

‘I could go on Burt, but you know the wrongs you have done over the years, so I say this. Do you repent?’ he shouted.

‘What!’ Burt screamed. ‘Are you some sort of Jesus freak?’

The man pointed a slender finger at Burt. He chanted repeatedly ‘are you sorry?’ His eyes rolled upwards and Burt could see a spray of spit coming from his mouth.

Burt made to get up but his legs wouldn’t do his bidding. The room began to spin around as if it wanted to consume him. The magazines on the table began to flap open and close. Burt fell to his knees and clasped his hands in the prayer position.

‘Let me out of here!’ Burt sobbed.

He then had a clear vision of who he was. A dishonest accountant. A paunchy man with a bad comb-over who had no principles. He hadn’t given his behaviour a moment’s thought. Until now. Then he saw himself sick, alone and in agony as he died in screaming pain from some unknown illness.

By now Burt’s chubby body was trembling with fright. He managed to get himself back to his feet and wobbled to the door. He gripped the handle, but it wouldn’t open. He began thumping it and twisting the handle.

‘Please, please,’ he pleaded, ‘I don’t know who you are but ‘I’ll do anything you ask. Let me go and I promise to do the right thing from here on in! I swear!’

‘Good,’ said the man, in a voice that was now almost a whisper. ‘You see Burt, I didn’t listen and I have been in torment ever since. ‘My work is finished here,’ he then added.

A confused look swept across Burt’s sweaty face, and in that moment the door opened and the room settled back to what it was before, an ordinary looking waiting room. Burt chanced a look backwards, but to his surprise the man was gone.

Burt hurried from the room as fast as he could into the bright sunshine.

********

Thanks for stopping by

Until next time, Sharon

4 mins

The Ageless Heart

Zach Jarosz – Pexels

Worlds may collaspe

oceans ripple and journey through the earth.

Time passes slowly,

ebbing away the stuff of mere mortals,

seasons come and seasons go,

until two worlds collide.

From there. Somewhere. Undefined.

From the depth of existence,

something ancient yet modern bubbles to the surface…

Hark! A heart no less.

It knows nothing yet remembers a distant echo

remembers waiting for that moment…

Quell this longing, soothe this ache, silence those whispers,

renew me with your vigour

sweep away the solitude

for my ageless heart recalls that glow, that honour.

Whilst everything around me turns ashen and withered,

my heart awaits and knows no boundaries.

It quivers in anticipation

counting down those moments

when by force of nature,

a whirwind approaches .

And we unite…

******

Thanks for stopping by

Until next time, Sharon

Betrayal – Martina Cole Book Review

Martina Cole – Betrayal

Those of you who have been following my blog for some time know that I am a huge fan of this British crime author. Many of her novels have been bestsellers including the Sunday Times Bestsellers list (not too shabby)! And for good reason. Martina Cole has carved out a niche for herself as not your typical crime writer. Her books tend to be about women in the crime underworld who are battling to survive against the odds, in what is predominantly a male world. Her main characters tend to be women who are willing to do anything to survive, even if it leads to murder, vice or violence. Her books are gritty and hard-hitting. But don’t be put off too much if you are not into crime novels as Martina Cole’s novels tend to have family at the centre of every plot.

Betrayal is Martina Cole’s twenty-third bestselling novel and was first published in 2016. Aside from the usual skulduggery of underworld and crime, Betrayal is unusual in that betrayal is a running theme throughout the book as opposed to be it being plot-driven.

Summary and Review

Aiden O’Hara is the head of the O’Hara family and has held that position since he was a child. His priority is to provide for his family and protect them and this he does admiringly even if it leads to a life of crime. However, what he expects for shouldering such responsibility from such a young age is a cast-iron loyalty, support and reverence. And those who do not abide by this and betray him, have hell to pay…

Betrayal is a unique book for Martina Cole because the main protagonist is male, although he is supported by two strong women, his mother Reeva and his long-term partner Jade Dixon.

As Aiden O’Hara’s notoriety grows so does his insistence on loyalty from his family. However, this very trait leads to a sad twist…

I felt Betrayal was not Martina Cole’s best work, but certainly worth a read especially if you are a fan!

Thanks for stopping by

Until next time, Sharon

In case you missed my previous post on Martina Cole

https://wordpress.com/post/sharonswriterstidbits.wordpress.com/5292

Virgo Writers! You’re In Good Company!

Darkmoon Art – Pixabay

So, fellow Virgos how are things shaping up? I know we are living in difficult times and being such sensitive souls it is likely that we are feelings things even more than everyone else! That’s just the thing, us Virgos are renowned for being, super critical, perfectionists, pedantic and fussy, to name but a few aspects of this earth sign. However, there is another side to being a Virgo. We are often found to be caring, sensuous, industrious, devoted to our loved ones, funny and let’s not forget, creative. And it is during difficult times that it’s even more important to turn to the arts, not only when looking for meaning in life, possible answers to questions but also to put a positive spin on our very existence, culture and civilization.

How many times have you listened to a piece of music, read a poem or book or watched a movie and felt moved in some way? Well, that’s what I am talking about; the very power of the arts and its ability to transform and illuminate in ways that in my view, can only be uplifting and positive. And if nothing else, the arts and creativity can offer a few hours of escapism from your daily routine.

Here in no particular order are a few actors and performers whose work I have admired over the years. All Virgos of course:

Michael Jackson

Idris Elba, actor

Richard Gere, actor

Beyonce Knowles, actor, performer, singer

Jennifer Hudson, performer, singer, actor, TV personality

Keanu Reeves, actor

Cameron Diaz, actor

Joe Pantoliano, actor

Sophia Loren, veteran actor

Jack Black, actor, performer, singer

Sean Connery, veteran late actor

Freddie Mercury, late performer

So you have it. I’m sure there are more although these are Virgos whose work I am very familiar with. Some are household names like Michael Jackson, and others like the actor Jack Black may be lesser known, but no less talented!

So the next time you want a few moments of escapism or relaxation and you listen to some music or watch a movie with any of the listed Virgos above, you are in good hands!

************

Happy creativity and Peace to you all, whatever your star sign!

Thanks for stopping by, until next time,

Sharon

Ps: Check out a previous post: Virgo Writers!

https://wordpress.com/post/sharonswriterstidbits.wordpress.com/4258

A Soul’s Cry

Adrienn

I sink myself into my own femininity

I give of myself, until I am no more –

a shadow to some, maybe

a rock to others, I hope.

I bare my soul, for all to see

joyful and in another moment, tearful.

I give in like melting snow –

I stand my ground like the oldest tree

I toil and toil until everything is wrung out of me –

and yet I hold out my arms – still

to encircle you with my power and protection

asking for nothing in return,

for this is me, the other half of you,

the other half of the everything.

And it is from me that the everything can spring forth!

**********

Women of the world, I salute you!

Happy International Women’s Day!

8 March, 2022

Tell No One – Harlan Coben Book Review

On their anniversary childhood sweethearts David and Elizabeth Beck drive to a secluded spot, to a lake that means a lot to them.

There, they reminisce about their lives, clearly in love and clearly with a bright future ahead of them. However, without spoiling the plot too much, this bright future doesn’t quite go as they planned and something happened at that lake that would change both their lives forever, leaving David Beck a widower…

Tell No One by American author, Harlan Coben is like a roller coaster ride. You have to hold on tight and if you have a crash helmet, go put it on!!!

Again, I don’t want go give away too much of the plot. David Beck goes on to become a respected pediatrician, but is clearly still traumatised and haunted by the events of that day at the lake now eight years ago when his wife disappeared, later found dead.

However, an email from an unknown account lands into David Beck’s inbox turning his whole fragmented world around again. The email hinted that his wife might actually still be alive!

In Tell No One, David Beck becomes a hunted man and also makes the aquaintence of a known drug dealer of all people!

If you like complicated plot twists, mysteries, intrigue and action, then this is the book for you. However, at its heart is an enduring love story which is touching without being corny or predictable.

Harlan Coben has been writing for twenty-eight years with a few bestsellers along the way. So, rest assured you have many more titles to pick from!

You can catch adaptations of his books on Netflix. I can recommend: Stay Close, The Stranger and Safe. Really exciting viewing!

Enjoy!

Until next time, Sharon.

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