Tag Archives: short stories

A Drive in the Mountains – Part 2

The smoke has gone, the wind took it, the last was just small puffs, afterthoughts drifting like helium balloons into the mountains.  I’m shivering now, it’s cold, the wind is searing but it’s more than that.  Great shudders shake through me, my teeth chatter and my knees wobble, jiggling up and down in a comical, ludicrous fashion.  I giggled, a few moments ago it made me giggle, but then I realised that  could be hysteria.  I know that I am sinking into shock.  If I allow it to take hold I will die.  I am not going to die of shock.

I have tried again to lean forward but the ledge is too narrow, as I bend, my behind pushes against the mountain and the centre of gravity shifts and threatens to throw me from the ledge.  I’ve tried to peer over by straining my neck but all I can see is far, far below me the green slopes and tree tops.  There is no way to tell how sheer is the drop under this ledge, it could be that there is nothing, like a gigantic step off the side of the mountain.  It could be that it would be possible to slide on it, maybe, steep yes but like a Black Run, slideable.  I can’t see.

I called out to him, Mario, over and over until again the terror, the hysteria almost overwhelmed me and I had to stop to calm myself.  I want to sit down, I can’t sit down.  I can’t move at all.  Oh God, I’m going to die here.  I’m going to tumble from this ledge, I can’t turn round.

The noise of the car burning has gone, it didn’t last very long, a roar, some pops and cracks and then not much.  I don’t know where the car is but I don’t think that it could be amongst the trees or it would have set fire to them.  Wouldn’t it?

Every few minutes I call out, the shouts echo back at me, the mountains mock me, sending my voice back over and over, fading, weakening.

My phone is in my bag, god knows where that ended up.  My legs hurt, my shoulders are sore, isn’t that a sign of internal bleeding, I’m sure I read that somewhere.  My head is pounding.  What should I do, what can I do.

“Mario, Mario.”

Tears sting my eyes and flood down my face, I catch them on my tongue, they moisten my mouth, I’m very thirsty, isn’t that another sign of bleeding.  I don’t want this.  I don’t want to die here on this ledge.

I could jump, simply let myself go, not really a jump, a step nothing more.  I could step over now and that would be the end.  The thought appalls me; a spurt of urine shames me.  If I could sit down I could think, If I could sit down I could live.

“Mario.”

I wonder what the time is.  It is an age since we left the hotel, just after breakfast and we drove for more than an hour to the mountains.  Then a stop at the little bar for a coffee before the whirling, spiralling, breakneck race that left us here.  How long is it since we crashed, I don’t think I lost consciousness, no, surely that would have seen me tumbling into oblivion.  I think, I wish I had gone down then, I wish it was over.  I wish this was not my decision to take.

How long will the sun last, it has moved a small way across the sky, not far, I have no knowledge of these things.  How long does it take to move across the sky.  It must be early afternoon, that’s good, early afternoon is good.  There is the chance that someone will come past; they will surely see the broken fencing, will stop.  Yes early afternoon.  That’s good…

I’m dizzy now, it comes and goes.  A tipping of the world, just a dip and then back again, nauseating, terrifying.  I’m so very cold; I’m shaking and quivering uncontrollably.  It stills now and again for long seconds, just long enough for me to remember how it feels to be normal and then it sweeps through me again. My teeth are chattering.  I can’t feel my feet properly now, they’re numb and the numbness is creeping up my legs.

I don’t think I’m bleeding much anymore.  I have a pain though, a deep, dark pain in my belly.  It’s heavy and dull, not sharp.  Is that good, would a sharp pain be better than this deep ache.

My world spins again.  A great bird flew over a while ago, screeching in the blue sky, it wheeled and turned, it was quite beautiful.  I don’t know what it was, did it see me pinned here on the side of the mountain.  Did it wonder about me?

I can’t stand much longer, my legs need to let me go, my belly is a great stone of pain.  There is nothing more for me, I can’t…

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Flash Challenge

So,  was complaining about a lack of inspiration. A face book friend gave me this challenge. Thanks Polly.

“It was midnight and yet another walrus was making its way down Main Street. A trail of water sizzled behind it and the town band followed in its wake, weeping quietly…”

I changed it very slightly and came up with this:

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‘It was midnight and yet another walrus was making its way down Main Street. A trail of water sizzled behind it and the town band followed in its wake, it was weeping quietly…

The sky was purple, yellow and green clouds scudded before a diamond studded wind.

Charlotte tied her dragon to the hitching post. She wrapped her cloak around her and strode into the middle of the road. She held up her hand, she waited. Nothing happened. The crowd were singing Yellow Submarine, the trees swayed in time and the birds danced a Pavanne along the verges.

She had to stop them. She had to let them know. It wasn’t for her. She knew that she could climb aboard Stenflo and be away in moments, away to the rainbow mountains where the danger couldn’t reach her. But here, here on Main Street the laughing children, clutching cotton candy sticks and sucking on lollipops were in mortal danger. The happy teens, hand holding, hip touching, heart hoping teens were in danger and the elders, mostly her fear was for the elders.

Their silvered heads, their wisdom lined faces and their overknuckled work worn hands, they would make them prey. When it came it came mainly for them, for the years of knowing, the decades of learning and the centuries of loving that they carried in their hearts. It needed all of that. The Walrus knew, the mermaid on the corniche knew. Though unlike her marine brother she didn’t try to tell them. She smirked and tossed her sea green curls and with nary a final glance she dove into the harbour and Charlotte caught just the edge of her laugh as she lost herself in the waves.

She ran to the bandstand and tore up the shallow steps, she tried to take the microphone but the town Cryer was in full flow and snatched it back and pushed her roughly aside.

She ran to the wind section who by now had formed a semi circle around the percussionists. She chose the smallest musician, a small girl child and she snatched the gleaming instrument. Raising it to her lips she blew as hard as she could blow, she called on the north wind, the tempest and the hurricane. She implored help from the whirlwind itself and she blew and the note that she made left the end of the bugle and it flew into the air, a purple storm of sound, swirling and whirling upwards ever upwards until it met the feet of heaven and rebounded and cascaded back to the town as the sound of a million weeping angels.

The people gasped, they screamed, they clutched and grasped at each other. They cowered in the corners and they ran down the alleys into darkness. Only the old ones didn’t run, they didn’t flee. They knew that it was coming for them. The eons passed had foretold this moment and they knew that the only thing they could do was to wait, and to hold onto each other and speak words of love because letting it take them was the only way to save the young.

As she remounted her dragon and swept into the sky Charlotte took one last look at Main Street, at the elders, at the wise ones. They had turned to the west, their eyes were open, their faces were calm and as it came and they gave themselves to it she heard them. They were singing.

 

 

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Good Morning

A piece of Flash – just because.

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Stickiness was the first hint that something was amiss.  Her hand, between her fingers, felt gluey and oddly crunchy as she bent them.  Flora cracked open her lids and squinted in the harsh light, she tried to read the numbers on the flashing digital clock but her brain refused to make sense of the blur. She reached for her spectacles.  The curtains hadn’t been closed, that was odd, very odd, the watery light showed smears and stains on the skin of her hand and arm, what the heck?

Her head pounded, a dull heaviness, her stomach contracted and acid threatened her throat.  She tried to remember. Exactly how much had they drunk last night? Fighting the nausea she acknowledged the misery that hovered at the edges of her heart.  They’d had another row, another blazing, painful confrontation.  Tears formed and overflowed, yet more tears.  She had to get out, this relationship was no good, it was toxic, destroying them both, going nowhere.

She pushed back the duvet and glanced down.

Panic threw her from the bed, she backed towards the wardrobe her gaze fixed on the devastation of stained sheets and ruby splattered pillows.  The knife lay on his side of the bed, Trevor’s side.  What the hell was he doing with a knife, a knife in bed?  She peered now at her shaking body.

Her nightdress was smeared and streaked, there were cuts and slashes in the fine fabric and the tiny lace frill around the hem hung in ribbons around her knees.  Her legs let her go and she flopped in a quivering heap to the carpet.

She couldn’t find the wound, her arms, legs, her belly; all seemed undamaged, whole and pain free.  She stretched a hand behind her and stroked it across her back – nothing.  Where was it from, the blood, she wasn’t hurt yet she was covered in it, the bed was a turmoil of gore there were marks on the carpet, the wall near the light switch.  The more she looked the more she found.  It was everywhere.

“Trevor?” she heard her whisper, it came from far away, feeble and quavering, “Trev?” There was no answer.  There was no sound of the shower, no flush of the toilet, no clatter of pots and dishes from the kitchen.  The house was silent, dead and silent.

“Trevor?”

She pushed to her feet, there were drips of red on her slippers, she couldn’t bear to push her toes into them.

“Trevor?”  She remembered that they had screamed at each other the night before. Her, screeching his name in fury, both of them drunk and unreasonable, railing and tearing in their anger.

“Trevor?”  She made her way down the hallway, no sound.  The red smears on the wall accused her now, her stomach turned and roiled, the door to the kitchen was slightly ajar, she reached out.  Her blood stained hand touched the cream paint, she pushed at the wood.

“Trevor?”

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Through My Eyes I See It

I came across this recently in a bit of a tidy up I was doing and thought it could have another outing:-

Through My Eyes I See It.

The trees in the park are glorious. Like a magnificent pavan they unroll as far as these old eyes can see, their ball gown finery, gold and russet and crimson billowing and tumbling in the breeze. The pain is good this morning. It is there prowling like a great bear around the battlements but for now at least the drugs repel it. Soon though the other assaults will begin, first on my physical self and then, and what is far worse, on my poor addled brain.

Here she comes now the “care assistant” who in truth needs some assistance to care. Bright and brittle in lavender and body odour. Brace for the first wave of attack “Oh Amy what are you doing sitting here all on your own? Let’s pop you with the others so that you can watch something more interesting, it’s no good you just staring out of the window at nothing all day.” Staring at nothing, the billow and wisp of cloud, the glorious, glorious trees and the oceanic swells of winter wheat rushing before the wind. “Staring at nothing.” And she will take me and “pop” me before that abomination the television. She will line me up with the others ogling in aquatic dumbness at the flashing colours. How I hate it, the joyless laughter, the high priestesses with their pregnant pauses and their pregnant bellies and the ignoramus hoi polloi giggling and flirting, leaping into mutual degradation all for their fifteen minutes and a free holiday.

Don’t “pop” me anywhere you lavender suited storm trooper. Leave me in peace with the song of the birds and the glitter of the frost where it lays encrusting spider webs beneath the hedge. Treacherous vocal chords gurgle and splutter. Outraged obscenities transmute into meaningless drivel and so I am duly “popped”. The second invasion approaches, there is nothing in my arsenal with which to repel. “Hello Amy, it’s Thursday.”

Good God Mrs Wilkins you don’t say, a revelation beyond all expectations.

“My Gerry comes today, he comes every Thursday without fail. He’s such a good boy.”

First of all you overblown dollop he is not your Gerry. He is Gerry who belongs to the world, he has a wife, a life and a reason to be. He can wash himself, shave his flabby fat chops and presumably grope ineffectively at his wife in the dark to produce his disgusting progeny. He is not a good boy he is an avaricious little shit who comes every Thursday in the hope that you will have expired on Wednesday night and the home haven’t had a chance to tell him. He comes so that he can pack up your feeble belongings and once and for all put this whole miserable responsibility behind him.

“It is a shame that you never had any children Amy, they are such a comfort.”

Comfort my arse you silly old fool. A cushion is a comfort. Haemorrhoid cream is a comfort Gerry is a cretin.

Now, it comes, the deepest torture. Another careless carer her mind on bus stop gropes with spotty youths and illicit fags in darkened corners will spoon pap into my gullet. Bang the spoon on my teeth again you moron and I swear I’ll somehow find the wherewithal to bite your hand. Oysters fresh from the sea in the South of France. Tender pasta robed in piquant sauce bejewelled with fiery peppers and bread still warm from the boulangerie. Drooling peaches and sun-filled melon with a Bacchanalian of sparkling white Bourgogne sipped from crystal goblets as the heat of the day bleaches the hills and diamonds sparkle in the bay. I can’t bear it, not another minute, not another mouthful, jelly and juice and plastic oh god.

The outsiders approach. The floral tributes, chocolates, pictures of grandchildren. The hugs and kisses, grinning rictus and off set embraces. No don’t come over here, please don’t. “Hello Amy, how are you today. You’re in the best place there’s a nasty wind out there and you’re lovely and snug.” A force seven gale off the ocean, lifting my hair glueing the clothes to my legs and startling tears from my eyes. His hair lifting and flicking as he smiles down at me, the two of us thrown together by the force of nature external and internal. His arms a harbour his broad chest my haven and the warmth of his body welding us together in the blasted sunshine. The sudden silence behind a hedge and the glory of daytime lovemaking. His tears, my tears the ghastly separation as he leaves for the airbase and the violence of waiting for his return. The devastation, the emptiness and the total loss of reason when he is gone and then the wretched years of decline becoming this traitorous slug of a body slumped in a dung heap home waiting for release.

He is here, he has come, it is time, thank God it is time.

“Nurse, excuse me nurse, can you come quickly and look at Amy I think there’s something wrong.”

Ah no for the first time in decades something is wonderfully right.

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Bye Bye Blackbird

Its half past now, I think I’ve done everything.  I tidied round, silly yes but, well that’s me.  John always used to say, when we were going on holiday, “Why are you dusting?  Are you making it clean for the burglars?”  But when we came home and it was all tidy I knew it had been worth it.

Of course there’s no coming back this time is there.  Hm, my tummy does back flips when I think of it.  Strange, when I made the appointment, called the number last week I was very, very calm almost dead inside.  Well you know I was numb.  It was the day after the funeral and I couldn’t feel anything, a grey plastic film over everything.  It’s still there now, but I focused on today and this and it has helped, it really has.

I didn’t think it would be like this.  We had a pact you see, John and me, we agreed years ago.  When the time came we would get some pills, pour some champagne.  Have some lovely music and candlelight.  We had it planned so well, we would eat as well as we were able, and then when we were ready go off together, with the sunset and the blackbird singing.  John had even found out what pills were best and where to get them.

We thought there would be time, possibly some illness yes, but time, to prepare, we never thought it would be like this.

When the police came to the door, no, no, I can’t talk about it.  People have said it will fade with time, I will accept and learn to handle it but I don’t want to you see, I just don’t want to.  I know, oh yes I do know it’s selfish of me but I don’t care, for once in my life I don’t care.

I never would have thought there would be people willing to do this, it’s very brave of them.  When I Googled it, I never thought for a moment there would be so many.  It’s a strange and awful world in some ways but just for me now a blessing.

I’ve tidied round, I’ve taken the cat to Mrs Barraclough, she said she understood and that if I ever wanted her back to just say but I know that she’ll be happy.  I’ve done a note for James, I hope he won’t hate me for this.  I’ve tried to explain but he looked so bereft the other day, so much sorrow and I hate to add to it but he has his life, the children, he’ll be okay.  I hope he’ll forgive me.

I wonder if I should have changed the bed, I didn’t because I didn’t want to leave dirty linen in the basket.  Mind you I’m not going to be in bed, I want it to be here, in the living room looking out on the garden, I want it to be where we were happy.  Oh don’t misunderstand, we had fun in the bedroom, hehe, oh yes, even in the last few years but the living room was where we talked and planned and were together in the lovely evenings.  Just the two of us, close and calm just the way it should be.  I want to sit here and watch the sun go down on the garden and go down with it.

The woman said she’d come at seven, just before sunset, she understood, about the garden and the blackbird song and drifting away with the day.  It’s ten to seven, the money is on the table, and the glass of wine.  I’m nervous, of course I am but a bit excited too, is that strange?  No, no not strange at all.  It’s as if John just went on ahead and now I’m going to meet him.

There’s a car drawing up now, there’s a clause, you sign a second paper, saying that no matter what you won’t back out.  I understand that as well but it was a bit profound signing that.  Oh there she is, oh she’s quite young, pretty.  Used to be a nurse according to the site.  Oh my knees are knocking.  Still here we go, let’s get on with it.  I am looking forward to seeing John again, it’s only been a few days but it’s been lonely doing this on my own.  Still soon be back together.

“Oh hello, dear, hello.  Come on in, just in time, there’s the blackbird now just starting to sing.”

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Janet and John Go to the Bank

Janet and John go to the Bank.

It’s a lovely morning.  See John scratch his belly.

See Janet sigh.  Can you scratch your belly children?  Can you sigh – Janet can.

John takes spot the dog for a walk.  Spot does his business on the lawn next door, see John leave it.  Naughty John – See Janet sigh.  Do you leave your dog’s doo doo on next door’s lawn – John does.

Janet and John are going to the bank.  They are getting dressed.  John puts on his brown jacket and his blue trousers.  See Janet sigh.

John puts on his suit.  Can you get changed as quickly as John can?

Now Janet and John are in the car, John crunches the gears.  See Janet sigh. Can you tut and sigh at the same time? – Janet can.

Now they are in the town.  John can’t find a parking space.  See Janet sigh and look at her watch.  Can you make your face go red like a tomato – Janet can.

Here is Mr Knobhead.  Mr Knobhead is the Bank Manager.  Can you smile and stick a knife in someone at the same time – Mr Knobhead can.

Janet and John need to tell Mr Knobhead that they haven’t got any money.  Have you got any money children.  Mr Knobhead has lots of money.

Mr Knobhead uses a big word – he says foreclosure – can you say foreclosure, John can’t.  All John can say is devastating, that’s a big word, can you say devastating.  Janet can’t, Janet can’t speak.  See Janet cry.

Mr Knobhead tells John that he can’t let him have any more money and will take away Janet and John’s pretty house.

See John tip over his chair and grab Mr Knobhead by the throat. Mr Knobhead’s face is very red now and his tongue is poking out.  It is very rude to poke out your tongue.  Maybe that is why John is so cross.

See Mr Knobhead go to sleep and slide down the wall. Waken up Mr Knobhead, the police are here.

Now Janet and John are going for a ride in a police car and Mr Knobhead is going to the hospital.  What an exciting day they have all had.

Now Janet and John are packing all their things in boxes and going to live at Mrs Brown’s house.  John is very sad, see John sigh.  Would you like to go and live with your mummy when you are forty?  John doesn’t want to.  See Janet sigh.

It is a year later.  Janet and John have been to the court to see the judge.  They don’t live in their nice house any more.  Nobody lives in the pretty house now, see the boarded windows.  See the For Sale sign.  Can you say travesty, lots of people can.

Janet lives with her mummy now. Janet and John have had a divorce and they are very sad.  Have your mummy and daddy had a divorce, I’ll bet they have.

See Mr Knobhead, he has bought a new yacht.  Mr Knobhead is very happy, he is going on holiday.  Lucky Mr Knobhead.

 

 

Banner – Courtesy of Pixabay free images

 

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The Flat Share

Chapter 20 

“Okay, so you’re telling me that, before the card in the shop window advertising for a flat mate, you had never met Samantha Turner?”

“Yeah, no I hadn’t.”

“And although she agreed to take the room she never actually stayed here?”

“No, well she might have done once but I’m not sure because she said she was, then in the middle of the night she was carting boxes up and down the stairs and so I don’t know if you can count that.”

“But, in spite of never staying here she gave you two months rent and contributed to the housekeeping?”

“Housekeeping, no, no.  She didn’t do that.”

“I thought you said she filled the freezer and bought wine?”

“Oh, yeah she did that, I thought you meant she’d done the dusting, which she didn’t.”

“Okay, right.  When you became aware of the boxes, you decided to have a look and that’s when you discovered they were drugs?”

“Yeah, although that was more Joanie than me.”

“Oh, thanks Charlie.”

“Oh, what? No I was just saying, you know.  I wouldn’t want him to think I was nosey, although I suppose I am but it was you, wasn’t it, it was you that opened that box?.  I’m glad you did of course, well actually, maybe I’m not but.”

“Ms Reid. Could you try and keep to the point?”

“Oh yeah, yeah, course, right.”

“So, then when Ms Turner discovered that you had opened the boxes she blackmailed you into agreeing to store them for you and to accept more?”

“Yeah, that’s when you came.  It’s a bit odd that by the way, I think it’s a bit odd anyway, isn’t that entrapment or something?  Don’t you think it’s odd Joanie, him being a policeman?”

“Yeah, I do, I said that already.  It’s all bloody odd if you ask me.”

“Ladies, please can we not go down that road again?  Police procedure isn’t really your concern.  Can we get back to the blackmail?”

“Look before we do that can I just say that I was very low.  Depressed, probably almost mentally ill actually.  Yeah, the balance of my mind was disturbed.”

“Really!”

“Yes.  I think so.”

“Why don’t you just tell me what happened, simply, slowly?”

“Okay, well I was feeling pretty miserable, no money, overdraft, well not really an overdraft because I hadn’t ever.”

“Simply!”

“Well it’s relevant, I think it’s relevant don’t you Joanie?”

“Not really, but you carry on.”

“Are you mad with me?  Is it about opening the box?”

“No, I’m not mad.  I’m just actually very, very tired.”

“Yeah.  Okay so, I went into Marks and I was just walking around and then I saw this bra.  It was really pretty, underwired.”

“Ahem.”

“Oh,yeah I suppose that’s not really… Well I don’t know what came over me. I’ve never, ever done anything like that before but, well.  I put it in my bag.”

“You stole it?”

“Well kinda.”

“Kinda?”

“Well yeah, you see I did but then when I got outside I got really scared and so I took it back.”

“You took it back?”

“Yeah, and hung it on a rack.”

“So, you didn’t steal it?”

“Well, to be absolutely honest I suppose I did but not for very long and I never put it on or anything so really I just took it out and then took it back.”

“So, you almost stole a bra.  How did this lead to blackmail?”

“Ah, well Sam –bloody- mantha had filmed me on her ‘phone.”

“Yes, and?”

“Erm well, she had film of me and then she stole a pile more underwear and put it in the drawers.  Also, she’d given me the money and bought food and wine and stuff.  She said that it’d make it look as though I, erm we, were involved.”

“I see.”

“Would it?”

“What?”

“Would it look as though we were involved?”

“Would taking a – bra – out of Marks and Spencer, taking it back in again, letting a room in your house and having a freezer full of frozen food make it appear that you were involved with an international drug smuggling organisation.  Well, to be honest I find it hard to see how.“However, this brings us to the next issue.  Why did you take the boxes back to the hospital and leave them in the derelict morgue?”

“The what?  Eurgh, the morgue, oh God.  I’ve been in a morgue, oh god, aah.”

“Ms Rook, calm down.  Please just sit down, where are you going?”

“Shower.”

“What? No you’re not, please sit down.”

“No way.  Oh no, I’ve been in a morgue, oh my god, no I’ll have to go and have a shower.”

“Ms Rook, Please sit down!  Ms Rook, come back.  Ms Rook.”

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Good Morning

So while The Muse decides what I’m getting next I’m looking through my older stuff.

Good Morning.

Stickiness was the first hint that something was amiss.  Her hand, between her fingers, felt gluey and oddly crunchy as she bent them.  Flora cracked open her lids and squinted in the harsh light, she tried to read the numbers on the flashing digital clock but her brain refused to make sense of the blur. She reached for her spectacles.  The curtains hadn’t been closed, that was odd, very odd, the watery light showed smears and stains on the skin of her hand and arm, what the heck?

Her head pounded, a dull heaviness, her stomach contracted and acid threatened her throat.  She tried to remember. Exactly how much had they drunk last night? Fighting the nausea she acknowledged the misery that hovered at the edges of her heart.  They’d had another row, another blazing, painful confrontation.  Tears formed and overflowed, yet more tears.  She had to get out, this relationship was no good, it was toxic, destroying them both, going nowhere.

She pushed back the duvet and glanced down.

Panic threw her from the bed, she backed towards the wardrobe her gaze fixed on the devastation of stained sheets and ruby splattered pillows.  The knife lay on his side of the bed, Trevor’s side.  What the hell was he doing with a knife, a knife in bed?  She peered now at her shaking body.

Her nightdress was smeared and streaked, there were cuts and slashes in the fine fabric and the tiny lace frill around the hem hung in ribbons around her knees.  Her legs let her go and she flopped in a quivering heap to the carpet.

She couldn’t find the wound, her arms, legs, her belly; all seemed undamaged, whole and pain free.  She stretched a hand behind her and stroked it across her back – nothing.  Where was it from, the blood, she wasn’t hurt yet she was covered in it, the bed was a turmoil of gore there were marks on the carpet, the wall near the light switch.  The more she looked the more she found.  It was everywhere.

“Trevor?” she heard her whisper, it came from far away, feeble and quavering, “Trev?” There was no answer.  There was no sound of the shower, no flush of the toilet, no clatter of pots and dishes from the kitchen.  The house was silent, dead and silent.

“Trevor?”

She pushed to her feet, there were drips of red on her slippers, she couldn’t bear to push her toes into them.

“Trevor?”  She remembered that they had screamed at each other the night before. Her, screeching his name in fury, both of them drunk and unreasonable, railing and tearing in their anger.

“Trevor?”  She made her way down the hallway, no sound.  The red smears on the wall accused her now, her stomach turned and roiled, the door to the kitchen was slightly ajar, she reached out.  Her blood stained hand touched the cream paint, she pushed at the wood.

“Trevor?”

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Holly and the Mistletoe

It was over, Holly reached up and took down the last piece of Mistletoe, it was the great bunch that she had hung over the entrance.  In the days before Christmas she had dreamed of how it would be, she would hear him, the taxi door, and she would fling back the door.  In the light that flooded the path he would be highlighted, his uniform dark against the background light of the street lamps, his medals glinting and his smile, his beautiful smile lighting the night and warming her world.

When the phone rang, a whole week ago now and she heard the voice she had known straight away that it wasn’t good news.  They had agreed you see, when he first went away that they wouldn’t fall into the trap of regular calls.  On the surface it appeared a good idea and many of the troops committed to it but often and often she had seen what it did.  When the call was delayed, the trauma, the fear and anguish until news came through, either the lines were down or there had been an extra patrol but it was too hard, harrowing and wearing.  So they agreed, he would ring often but always unexpectedly, unlooked for.  The surprise was a thrill and though she lived, all the time in the hope of the call she didn’t experience the fear when there wasn’t one.

That last call though, she had known immediately that it was bad news, his voice, subdued and careful, and he told her. “I’m sorry love, I don’t think we’ll make it home now for Christmas, I can’t tell you more than that.”  She had been stoic, understanding, a soldier’s wife through and through and as her heart broke she made jokes and told him stories, what the family had done, the silly dog chasing a squirrel, the car passing its MOT.  When the call finished he was reassured and happy, she put down the receiver and let the tears flow, the hot angry, sorry, self-indulgent tears.  She gave them their time, from long experience she knew that not to do it would leave her irritated and depressed for weeks and so she indulged herself in the cleansing grief and so as before, carried on.

This time though her soul wouldn’t accept what her head was telling her, surely he would come, this would be their last Christmas as a couple, next year there would be three of them, a pile of baby toys under the tree, the silly pretence of Santa and the tiny new life which would demand a share of the fun and the affection.  This Christmas should have been the last on their own and now it wasn’t to be.

She had waited all day, Christmas Eve, jumping and starting at each car door slamming, peering through the curtains into the damp night and then when the phone had trilled she had answered it with a traitorous heart knowing that it was the end of hope.  They had tried to be upbeat and cheerful but they were devastated and she had spent Christmas day alone and sad…

She was glad it was over, the fire in the big metal drum was warming as she flung the tree into the conflagration and the cards and tinsel.  Yes thank goodness, it was over and now there was the New Year to look forward to, the baby and Steve, soon now he would come.

She raised the sprig of greenery gathering the trailing branches and lifting them high, “Don’t you have a better use for that?”

She turned, the mistletoe gripped tight, her eyes already flooded and there he was, his eyes alight with love as he reached and took the branch from her, held it high and lowered his head, his lips seeking hers, his arms folding her, her and their baby, and their future. Christmas might be over but the rest of their life was just starting.

 

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Good Morning – a very brief flash fiction piece

Stickiness was the first hint that something was amiss.  Her hand, between her fingers, felt gluey and oddly crunchy as she bent them.  Flora cracked open her lids and squinted in the harsh light, she tried to read the numbers on the flashing digital clock but her brain refused to make sense of the blur. She reached for her spectacles.  The curtains hadn’t been closed, that was odd, very odd, the watery light showed smears and stains on the skin of her hand and arm, what the heck?

Her head pounded, a dull heaviness, her stomach contracted and acid threatened her throat.  She tried to remember. Exactly how much had they drunk last night? Fighting the nausea she acknowledged the misery that hovered at the edges of her heart.  They’d had another row, another blazing, painful confrontation.  Tears formed and overflowed, yet more tears.  She had to get out, this relationship was no good, it was toxic, destroying them both, going nowhere.

She pushed back the duvet and glanced down.

Panic threw her from the bed, she backed towards the wardrobe her gaze fixed on the devastation of stained sheets and ruby splattered pillows.  The knife lay on his side of the bed, Trevor’s side.  What the hell was he doing with a knife, a knife in bed?  She peered now at her shaking body.

Her nightdress was smeared and streaked, there were cuts and slashes in the fine fabric and the tiny lace frill around the hem hung in ribbons around her knees.  Her legs let her go and she flopped in a quivering heap to the carpet.

She couldn’t find the wound, her arms, legs, her belly; all seemed undamaged, whole and pain free.  She stretched a hand behind her and stroked it across her back – nothing.  Where was it from, the blood, she wasn’t hurt yet she was covered in it, the bed was a turmoil of gore there were marks on the carpet, the wall near the light switch.  The more she looked the more she found.  It was everywhere.

“Trevor?” she heard her whisper, it came from far away, feeble and quavering, “Trev?” There was no answer.  There was no sound of the shower, no flush of the toilet, no clatter of pots and dishes from the kitchen.  The house was silent, dead and silent.

“Trevor?”

She pushed to her feet, there were drips of red on her slippers, she couldn’t bear to push her toes into them.

“Trevor?”  She remembered that they had screamed at each other the night before. Her, screeching his name in fury, both of them drunk and unreasonable, railing and tearing in their anger.

“Trevor?”  She made her way down the hallway, no sound.  The red smears on the wall accused her now, her stomach turned and roiled, the door to the kitchen was slightly ajar, she reached out.  Her blood stained hand touched the cream paint, she pushed at the wood.

“Trevor?”

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