This week’s #writephoto prompt is
Arnold Droplozenge looked out of his back door at the cerulean sky and the bubbling clouds. Another lovely dawn promising a fine, mild day. Perfect for a stroll… if only.
He forced his gaze to stay on the sky, first counting the clouds, then naming them and allocating them roles in a drama of epic ambition as he allowed his imagination full rein. It was a morning ritual, a mental analgesic… though futile.
At some point the narrative would falter, the defrocked verger represented by a tenuous striation failing as a light westerly rendered it void and, in spite of himself his gaze would dip.
Today he managed five minutes of jeopardy-filled narration before his mental adhesion loosed and his eyes scanned the unkempt rough ground between his back step and the cliff.
His mind knew every tussock, rucked grass and muddy pool. With minimal effort he recalibrated the distance, holding his breath while he did so.
He expelled the stale air. It had been a good night. No further erosion. A reprieve.
No, he told himself as he turned back to the small tidy and snug kitchen: not a reprieve, more an extension of his probation.
Because, as certain as night followed day, the cliff would encroach on his cottage, bite by irregular bite.
Putting on the kettle he distracted himself with the formulaic dance that was his breakfast. Out of the corner of his eye, he glimpsed the pile of unopened letters. Brown envelopes denoting nothing good; fines, tax returns, rates levies. These though all said the same thing, even if he had not bothered to open them. Not maybe the same words, but the same import:
Dear Mr Droplozenge
We are writing to confirm you that the Council has taken advice on the condition of the land in the vicinity of Larkrise Cottage and concluded that you must within [insert dwindling period] move out . We regret we will have no option but to enforce the possession order we obtained last year if you do not do so.
If you will be rendered homeless by this unfortunate turn of events we recommend you contact Claire Smilesigh on… at you earliest convenience…
Claire, the small myopic button-nosed housing office with the inability to sound her ts and her nervous blinking. She cared, he knew that. She’d do her best to see him right if only he complied.
But he couldn’t. Not now. Not since seven years previous when his Clare – no redundant ‘i’ for her – passed. He couldn’t leave her. He’d promised her that even as he’d done her final binding. Her pain had been his, her screams echoing his own silent excruciating accompaniment.
Without even being aware what he was doing, he tapped his left foot on the bare floorboard. If he stayed until the Cottage toppled he’d fulfil that promise and avoid, as he’d managed to do for so long explaining how his wife had not in fact left him but lay face up and watching him between the gaps in the boards. Even caring Claire, if she knew, might find her enthusiasm for helping him dwindling.
He rinsed his plate, tapped the boards again, checking none squeaked and went and found his tool box. He was sure they’d come today, or maybe tomorrow to try and force him out. There were storms forecast and they were sure to accelerate his future. Before that there was just time to finish barring the windows and then the doors….