Three Minds

I was in three minds; did I answer honestly? Let it go and move the conversation on? Or suggest something that might be what she wanted to hear? The slip of her smile hinted I was taking too long. The truth it was then, though she wasn’t going to like it. I opened my mouth, but the words come out differently. My ears heard the fabricated story I was so use to telling. The look on my daughter’s face told me she knew I was lying, but for some reason she let it pass once more.

Flu

It was on mornings like today’s that she just wanted to go back to bed. It was the best thing to do whilst her body fought off the flu. However, her brain had other ideas and she was drawn to sit at her computer and write a terrible short story.

The Next Train

Next Train clock

Marvin sank onto the rickety bench and pulled his great coat tighter around his thin frame. He glanced at his leather bag beside him, then looked both ways along the one line track. He pushed his spectacles further up his nose and sat back. Crossing his legs, he placed his finger linked hands into his lap. The quietness of the semi-abandoned train station was unnerving.

Cocking his head, he checked the large station clock hanging close above him. It was quarter to six. Pushing his sleeve up, he saw that his watch was displaying the same time. The next train was due on the hour, but the station master had warned that it might be late.

Marvin sucked in his cheeks and let his eyes drifted around. There was a short wooden wall running behind him ending at the ticket booth, which was marked only by a door and a small sign above it. He’d come out of there a few moments ago, not realising how the sparse boxy room reflected the platform he was now on.

He rubbed his thumbs together, made a tasking sound with his tongue and peered down the train line. He couldn’t see any smoke, or wisps that could have been steam. The last thing he could clearly see was the signal which was down and in shadow of a little tunnel. The train could becoming the other way though, so he turned his head.

Things looked just the same, only instead of the tunnel where some medium sizes trees. However, he thought he could make out the side of a small cottage peeking through. It probably belonged to the station master. He had seemed to be a grim old man, wearing a dusty timeworn suit. Marvin recalled the conversation they had had minutes ago. He had asked for a single ticket for the next train and upon giving him the ticket, the station master had told him how lucky he was. The station was in operation for half the week only with just four trains stopping each of those days. So, Marvin was catching the last train of the week, if it actually showed.

Bored and tried, Marvin tugged open the bag and pulled out the first file. Turning to the initial page of many loose sheets, he re-read the handwritten words for the hundredth time. It was the standard letter of enquiry from a relative of the deceased, stating the death and requesting the firm for the will and the organising of the inheritance.

It had been a simple case to close, Marvin thought. The will was up to date and the family aware of everything. The only problem had been the fact that he’d had to come to the middle of nowhere to sort it out. His stay over the last few days had been very trying to say the least. He put the file away and felt glad to be getting out. He looked at his watch and saw that it was almost six.

The door opened and the station master walked out with a large lantern and a small flag. Marvin turned his head away from the sudden glowing light and saw a grey puff of smoke. He collected his bag and stood up as the massive black steam train appeared.

This Life

The world’s a cruel place.

World War Three and nothing has changed; there are still different levels of cruelty. Like the one I see now; Mary Talbot burying her new born daughter. The hole is dug, but she still clutches the baby as if it was alive. It’s wrapped in a bloody sheet, which Mary’s fingers pull back so she can kiss its forehead. Perhaps this is for the best. I can’t imagine trying to bring a baby up in this place. It would have died anyway, suffering as we are.

I stand amongst the wooden crosses against the wire fence. Mary, at last, puts the bundle in the tiny hole. She kneels in pray, tears running down her face and splashing into the dry black soil. I want to touch her shoulder and tell her ‘it’ll be okay.’ But I can’t because I know it won’t be.

The wind blows though my long blond hair and my hands catch my skirt as it threatens to rise. Mary climbs to her feet, supporting her struggle upwards on the spade. Blinded by her tears she begins to fill in the grave.

  Is it important to give things back to the cruel world?

There is no such thing as a free lunch.

It’s later now and I’ve joined the rebels, American men gathered in their hut for dinner. I should still be able to have my share of their food. They owe it to me for all the help I gave them before in the fight to stop the war. Tonight they have rice, bread and milk. I’m perched on the edge of a shared chair at the end of the table. I’m quick to grab and eat, forgetting to chew before swallowing.

Their new leader notices me and starts demanding that I leave. I’m no longer part of their group now and I should go back to the British side. I ignore him. But he takes action and drags me out of the hut. I fight back, trying to pull his hands off mine. Words gush from my mouth, running into each other. Not that he listens. The door closes behind me. His voice yells not to come back.

I leave and go back to the British side. My hut is quieter then the Americans’ hut. I search around and dig out some packets of army rations the secret hiding place under the dusty floorboards. Someone has already boiled a pan of water in the make-shift fire place. It seems they’ve just left it. I use it to cook the rations, expecting them to come back at any minute and tell me off. They’d probably tell me to go back to the Americans as well….

  I wish Tex hadn’t left.

  Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Tex is my boyfriend and he was the American rebel leader.  He got out; escaped in the middle of the night with some of the others a few days ago. He didn’t bother to take me; I always thought I meant something to him. I guess he was just using my knowledge to help carry out their planned attacks to try and end the war. I know if I’d not joined them I’d be dead. With him gone, is that what I have to face now? I’m not afraid to die though; I faced it before when they bombed my house, before they brought me to the camp. I’m afraid of dying alone though…

Tex is the only one I trust…But what kind of boyfriend just leaves you behind? I tell myself he had no choice and maybe he’ll come back to get me. It’s a thought I hold close as I try to sleep on the wooden boards of the bunk bed with only this blanket. I try to block out the sounds of the others as they too try and sleep through the night heat and hunger pains. A child cries somewhere. The pitiful shrieks remind me of the struggle to survive….

Another day, I stand amongst the crude crosses trapped within the fence-even in death they are not truly free-and watch them dig another hole. Two men this time dig though the damp earth, piling it up. An old woman clutches the toddler boy behind them. What can he understand from this? He is too young to know of death and a life outside these fences. But is that what we truly want? At least we are safe from the war here……Waiting to die.

  I wish Tex would come back for me….

Journey Home

Opening the door, my gym shoes skidded. I grabbed the handle and yanked myself up. Through the glass I could see a handful people working out and two personal trainers urging a couple of them on. I pulled down my pink vest top and tucked the loose strands of red hair back. Taking a deep breath, I walked in like I owned the place.

With my head held high and my eyes glued to the back wall, I didn’t notice the sudden change. One second I was in the gym and the next I was walking through a forest.  Damp grass brushed up against my shoes. I jumped, with the trees whirling above.

What had happened?

I turned and stepped back, there was only more forest. I looked for the gym, but there was nothing accepted leafy trees and undergrowth. I snapped a twig and jumped again. My heart was pounding and sweat was peppering my forehead. I wiped it away then stared at my hands.

Had I died? Had I slipped and broken my neck or did I pushed myself too hard and have a heart attack. Panicking, I kept spinning around, until I felt dizzy and had to sit down. I collapsed on to a mossy mushroom coated log. I put my head down and breathed deeply. Maybe it was a dream? Or maybe I’d been here along and just convinced myself I was at the gym?

I looked at my shoes. Nope, those were defiantly my indoor trainers. I checked my clothes. The grey knee length shorts and vest top were my gym ones and I was carrying nothing on me. I check my wrist. My watch was gone as well as my rings. I’d put everything inside a locker in the changing room.

I rubbed my arms, feeling chilly and wishing I’d grabbed my sweater. Feeling dampness seeping into my shorts, I stood up and tried to wipe them. My hands came back clammy and dirty. Glancing around, I decided there was nothing for it but to walk. There had to be a way out of here.

There didn’t seem to be a path, so I headed in as straight a line as possible. The trees and undergrowth seems to grow thicker the further I went. I could hear a babbling stream and birds singing. It was also becoming darker. I stopped and getting some bearings, decided to try and find the stream. Isn’t there something about following water when lost? Though, it wasn’t just about that, I was thirsty and tried already.

More confused than before, I came across the stream. It was set low down and cutting its way through the forest floor. I had to lie down on my stomach to scoop handfuls of water out. It tasted good and reminded me of mountain spring water. I splashed some on my face and sat up. Sighing, I brought my knees to my chest and wrapped my arms around them. Closing my eyes and starting to rock, I muttered the classic line of there’s no place like home.

A gentle lapping sound caused my eyes to open and lock on to the space across from me. Hugh yellow eyes stared back and a long pink tongue kept lapping the water. It was a massive grey wolf. Panic shot through me and I bolted. I dodged around trees and bushes, kicking up dirt and leaves. I leapt over a stump and my feet didn’t touch back down. I shot up into the sky with a scream.

I flapped about desperately, whilst my mind wondered what had happened. I seemed to be going further and further up. The whole forest was laid out underneath me. In the distance I could see smoke and a flag. I wasn’t that far from civilisation then. Without realising it, I pointed myself in that direction and began flying.

The forest and clouds sped passed and I felt like a puppet on a string. Somehow I made it over to the camping site. I hovered there and wondered if I had become in visible. Though my first thought of dying seemed more fitting, but I really hoped that wouldn’t be the case. Still really wanting to go home, I set off in that direction and felt relieved that I recognised the area.

Minutes later, I was flying over my town and then touching down in my front garden. Looking around, I spotted nothing unusual and everything looked the same. I open the door and went in with a shrug. I still had no idea what was going on, but at least I wasn’t in that forest any more.

Forest

And she took him by the hand and led him deep into the forest. He’d never been there before and afterwards he was grateful he would never have to go back.

Mill Pond

mpss

Candle

Dark Angel Wings Image

I saw her through the candle light and knew she was the one. The flicking flame made her blonde hair sparkle and shimmer in different yellow shades. I took a sip of my drink and watched her collect the glasses from an emptying table.  The loud music of the bar deafened her words to the leaving group.

As she walked, I moved the candle in its red holder after her. The small light gave her a halo I’d never seen around anyone else before. She stopped at another table, picked up two empty bottles and moved to the bar. I stopped the candle and waited. Nursing my coke and rum, I tried to focus on hearing her.

However, we were both cut off as Five Finger Death Punch pounded out of the speakers. Some moshers/rockers went crazy. A glass was smashed and voices rose with the lyrics. I had to watch her roll her eyes and weave over to the mess. I wanted to call her back to me, thus stopping her from entering danger.

I shouldn’t have been so naïve! She knew the place and people well. With an expert hand, she cleared up the glass and dried the floor. A young man, who looked barely old enough to be in here, helped her. His grin, in the candle light was innocent. He meant her no harm and though interested, he was in love with another.

That other joined them, eager to dance and drink more. They waved my blonde off and she walked back to the bar. There were always more tasks to do. Whilst she disappeared, I finished my drink. The spice of the rum warmed me and the sugar in the cola gave me a rush. The music continuing to fill the air, add to these feelings.  I watched the dancers and marvelled at the mosh pit. How could something seemly similar to fighting be so energetic?

I frowned at my glass and pushed it away. I was tempted to get another, but I’d have to leave my table. That meant someone could take it from me and I’d be powerless to stop them. The song changes, something slightly slower, though I didn’t know the band. Once I only had ears for classical and heavenly music, but since having to stay here I’ve become more open. Now, I listened to everything that could be classed as heavy metal and rock. It calls to me in a way I can’t fully understand. The often fast pace of the music and the loud singing feels like a release.

My eyes catch something in the candle light, she’s come back. I watch her moving in flat black shoes across the floor, collecting more glasses in washing tub. She makes her way over to me and I see the clothes she’s wearing clear for the first time; black pants and light blue t-shirt with the bar’s logo in the corner. She collects the glasses from the nearby tables and then comes for mine.

Her thin fingers and delicate hand touch the glass and transfer it to the tub. I stare at her and notice the way her hair frames her face. Her blue eyes, covered too heavily in green eye shadow fall on to me. Her lips bright red, slightly drop and then she bites the bottom one. There’s a cross around her neck.

There’s a lull in the music and I shout, ‘I know it’s wrong, but can you please get me another drink? I’m waiting for someone and need to stay here.’

‘Oh,’ she gasps, ‘We don’t do that here.’

I pull my wallet out and flash some notes. I hand them to her and she frowns. As she goes to refuse again, I use what little powers I have to convince her to help me. A Slipknot song blasts out and my words are suddenly lost. Luckily, it seems to have worked and nodding, she goes back to the bar.

I watch her and can’t but help notice how her walk has changed.

I hate myself.

Rubbing my face, I turn back to the moshers. They are jumping in their circle and seemingly pushing each other around. Long hair flies about the place and there are flashes of skin and metal. There’s a tap at my elbow and I look up to see she has come back. The glass goes down on the table along with some notes.

I turn to thank her, but she spins away and huffs back to the bar. I rise, determined to follow and apologise. Abruptly a figure detaches itself from the side lines and comes towards me. I sit down, guarding the table and the figure walks past acting uninterested.

Sipping my drink, I watch her, but she is no longer the same person as before. Her aura has dimmed and boarders on changing colour. I study the table and contemplate. I can’t believe this thing that I’ve become. These habits I’ve picked up and this lie I’m living. I down the drink, fist the notes and go outside.

Ikea

When I hear the lights go out and the front doors lock, I step out of the stall. Breathing a sigh of relief, I feel my way to the light switch. The lights ping on and as I behold the staff bathroom, I want to switch them off again. However, I move my feet towards the nearest sink and run the tap. Cold water gushes out and I wash my hands and face. A small sign on the mirror says not to drink the water, but I ignore it.

Glancing up, I see my reflection and faded former self. My normal short brown hair is growing long and semi-wild. Wrinkles and bags drop down from my dull eyes. The shape of a beard is more defined and my skin looks pale. I’ve become the shadow of my father in his last months.

Turning the tap off makes the humming of the lights come back. I flick the switch as I hurriedly leave. The bathrooms are at the end of a small tight corridor and a few footsteps from the staff room. I walk in, turning on the lights. The smell in here is worse than the bathroom. It’s made up of a number of things; fast and mouldy food, sweaty bodies, hot drinks and lingering tobacco. We often joke that the cleaners don’t do their job, but I now know that for a fact.

I open the small fridge and the remains of a half-eaten sandwich and a yogurt catch my eye. There’s also a lunchbox of wilted salad, gone off milk and a bowl of…something. I take the first two items and I make myself a coffee. Sinking into my favourite arm chair, the springs creak loudly. All the furniture in this room was brought back by customers because it was faulty. I guess the managers didn’t want it to go to waste and decided the staff could use it.

Eating and drinking takes the edge off my hunger. Then I have to tidy up. I put on the small radio and begin. Once I wouldn’t have cared or bothered and as the signs state: tidy up after yourself and wash your own things. People seem incompetent and now that this has become my living room and kitchen after hours, I’ve the urge to keep it clean.

I do as much as I can and then go to the lockers. Opening mine, I take out my old rucksack, which is stuffed with clothes and items. I sort through it, taking only what I need and shoving the rest back inside my locker.

After, I head into security and study all the cameras. It took me awhile to figure the system out. I’ve never had a head for technology. However, just like in the movies, I can now create a loop. I don’t bother sitting down as it only takes a few minutes to fix the cameras. I double check that it’s still recording and the time is still moving.

Now, I’m free to roam the shop floor. I pick up a small torch before I leave then go through. Keeping the torch low, I make my way to the tills. Some nights they are not fully emptied and the spare change is useful. I use my key and opening them all; find a handful of coins in the last one. I then take some chocolate bars and fizzy drinks from the shelves and into my rucksack.

I climb the stairs to the bedroom section and turn on some of the lamps. I picked out a single bed some time ago. Making my way over, I sit down and look around. I could have had any bed I wanted and for my first few nights I did. However, I discovered it was easier to stick with one in case I had to get out quickly in the dark.

I get undress and under the covers. Settling down, I set my alarm for five as that gives me enough time to prepare for arriving staff. Turning out the torch and lamp, I try to sleep. It takes me awhile though as my mind is on edge over every sound. Finally, I imagination myself back home; even though I knew when I awake I’ll still be here.

Long Way

long way