It’s Not Over Yet

It was the end of the month, not that she felt any better knowing that. The winter season was still heavy in the air and would be for another whole month or maybe longer if spring had to struggle against its icy grip.

Her diet had gone completely out the window, what with food being left over from Christmas and New Year’s, but also because she had been stocking up and having more hot meals.

Her bank account was the opposite of her stomach; dangerously low and causing her to spend more time looking for loose change when she cleaned up.

To add to this she always felt cold, even in her own home it seemed her body didn’t want to retain any warmth she carefully stole from the heaters. Going out was worse and she would find herself putting on leggings under jeans, putting vest tops under her long sleeve tops and a jacket over them, before heaving on her coat.

The only joy she found was snuggling down in bed, because at least her small attic room was always toasty hot. There she loved looking up at the night sky though the skylight window above her bed. Even if it was cloudy, raining or snowing, she would fall to sleep watching the stars, the clouds or the weather.

She never wanted to get up in the mornings as there seemed nothing to look forward too. Though now at least she could remind herself that spring and summer were just around the corner and soon she wouldn’t be so hungry, broke or cold.

The Letter

A framed picture tumbled from the mantle and crashed on the floor as I jumped onto the sofa. Freezing amongst the cushions and sofa throw, I stared at the mess from a spread-eagle position. I struggled up, dropping the TV remote at the same time. Tutting, I picked that up and placed it on the arm of the sofa, before crossing the living room floor to the fireplace.

I arranged my dark grey jog bottom like PJ pants and the too big t-shirt as I came to a stop. Being careful because my bare feet, I bent and picked up the picture. Glass tinkled and a few small shards fell out. The wooden frame had broken, which had caused the back panel to come loose and allowed me to easily take it apart.

I slide the photograph out and looked into the faces of my parents. It was their wedding day and they were leaving the church after saying their vows. I smiled, noticing how dashing my dad looked in his full suit, whilst my mum looked so young and pretty dressed in a simple white satin and lace gown.

My parents were currently away for the weekend, having won a trip to Paris from entering a TV competition. So, I was home alone, which was great, beside from having to promise not to have a party or anyone sleep over. It was either that or going to stay with Aunty Nora and there was no way in anyone’s right mind that they would want to do that!

Placing the photo beside the TV remote, I suddenly remembered the reason why I had come into the living room. Swearing, I grabbed the remote and turned the TV on. There was an electric buzz, a flash of blue then a re-run of Baywatch appeared on the screen. My fingers stalled and my eyes popped as I saw Pamela Anderson running across a beach in just a swim suit and blonde hair flying everyway.

I dropped my hand and tried to re-arrange myself, but that only made me harder. Growling, I turned the channel the over and watched a cowboy documentary whilst the urges subsided. Then I got the TV guide up and looked for the movie I had planned to watch.  Seconds later, Batman Forever filled the screen and I become torn between watching it and tidying up. Making up my mind, I picked up the frame again and went to throw it in the kitchen bin on the way to getting a brush for the glass, but a yellow rectangle shape caught my eyes and I stopped.

There was an envelope that had been neatly slotted in-between the photo and back panel. I pulled it out and balance it onto of the photo. Shrugging and guessed it was some letter to the happy couple that mum had kept, I went into the kitchen, put the frame in the bin and grabbed a brush and dustpan from the corner. Heading back, I shook the rug out before sweeping the glass up. I hurried back into the kitchen with it and tossing it in the bin, reminded myself that I had to tell mum the photo had just fallen off the mantle.

Placing the brush and pan back, I raided the cupboards for a packet of already made sweet popcorn and grab a can of cola from the fridge. I ran back to the living room, threw myself on the sofa and watched the movie. It wasn’t until the third adverts that I remembered the photo and the letter. Sitting up, I pulled them both over and inspect the envelope. It was blank and the paper had yellowed with age.

I turned it over and found it still sealed. Frowning and guessing that there had been enough stick to seal it again after my parents had opened it, I slotted my nail under the flap and lifted it. Inside was a sheet of a crumbled white paper, which had slightly discoloured, but not as much as the envelope had. I pulled out the letter and unfolding it read;

Detroit, I know you are reading this right now.

 A ball of fear hit me and my hand holding the letter started shaking. This note was for me! But how was that possible? I flipped the paper over and at the bottom in a scrawling signature was;

 Detroit Stotle, 2095

 The handwriting looked too much like my own, though some of the letters were shaker and loopier. I turned the page back and quickly read down it. My breath caught a few times and my brain didn’t seem able to compare what my eyes were transmitting back to it. Questions plummeted through my mind faster than I could really put them together. I turned the letter over again to carry on reading and found that none of my questions were answered. In fact a line in the last paragraph suggested not to try and question anything, but just to trust and act.

I re-read the letter slower and took in the instructions. I had to phone my parents, tell them I was ill and to come home straight away. Then, I had to hang up before they had time to ask anything and wait for them to come home. If I didn’t and they returned on their planned journey through the Eurotunnel, I’d never seen them again.

‘Is this a joke?’ I spoke out aloud to an empty room and the flicking TV.

Pulling a face, I screwed up the letter into a ball and threw it into the fireplace, which wasn’t lit. Grumpily, I settled back on the sofa and watched the rest of the movie. Still though the words upon the page lingered in my mind and I couldn’t help, but think about them.

 I’m from the future, this is your future self telling you that you must change the next twenty-five hours. Only you can do this and only by reading on and trusting what I ask you to do.

 That’s what the second line had read and strangely, I could hear my voice, but a lot older whispering those words in my ear. Shaking my head and trying to get rid of the written words and the voice, I watched the credits roll, then went to the bathroom. After, I got myself another drink and made a sandwich. Taking them back into the living room, I spotted the wedding photograph and switching it out for the other things in my hands, I went and placed it back on the mantle, though it was no frameless.

Before I moved away, my eyes fell to inside the fireplace and the balled up letter. Swearing quietly, I pulled it out and went back to the sofa with it. I smoothed out the paper and looked at it closely. The words hadn’t changed and the letter was still commanding me to telephone my parents and get them to come home. The next section on read;

 I know this is hard for you to understand being fifteen years old in 2015, whilst I am currently ninety-five in 2095. But trust me you don’t want to spend your next twenty year plus without your parents. My life has been nothing but difficult and empty. I have no wife or child or any other family. That is the reason why I am reaching out to my past self. I believe you can change this and that will allow me, us, to have a better life.

 I glanced at the phone on the stand next to the TV, which was now playing adverts. Biting my lip, I got up and picked up the phone. I glanced at the letter again, than got up my mum’s mobile phone in the saved numbers menu. My finger flicked the call button a few times as my eyes darted from the phone to the letter. I twisted my wrist and looked at what was written on the other side again, it read;

 Afterwards, place this letter back in the envelope and keep it in a safe place. May I suggest your parent’s wedding album? Put it under the photograph that is the same as the one you have found this letter behind. This is so that when you are me, you will be reminded to find the letter again and place it where you have found it today. Thus, triggering your younger self, you reading this right now, to carry out the task.

 I can only hope that this works. Though if it does, I will never know the results, for my timeline will been altered. Please don’t delay or asked any more questions. Just be thankful there wasn’t a fire in the fireplace! Make that call now!         

Detroit Stotle, 2095

 I didn’t know what else to do.

I pressed call.     

Letting Go

It was starting to snow again as Janice sat on her oldest daughter’s bed and flipped through a photo album. The pages were covered with happier memories and times, which Janice recalled well. She let her fingertips trail over a photo of her three daughters at a theme park in the queue for the log flume. Three young smiling faces twinkled back at her. She turned the page and felt the sting of hot tears.

Sniffing and swallowing, she concentrated and tried to figure out whom out of her other two daughters this birthday party displayed in the pictures was for. She decided it must have been Jessy, her second child, because she was blowing out the pink candles. The next two pages had photos from their Disneyland holiday and mixed, scrapbook like, with different tickets, postcards and stickers.

Janice couldn’t take it anymore. She slammed the album shut and pressed her hands to her face. Breathing deeply, which sounded like she had a bad cold, she wondered if she would ever feel happy again. Letting the tears fall because she had no choice, she felt an unexpected squeeze of her shoulder. Dropping her hands and looking up quickly, she saw Jessy before her and her other daughter, Lucy lingering in the doorway.

‘I’m fine,’ she answered they unspoken questions and waved her hand.

‘It’s still okay not to be fine though, mum,’ Jessy replied sitting down next to her and sliding her hand down her mum’s back to rub it gently.

‘I know, but I have to stay strong,’ Janice explained and hugged Jessy.

She beckoned Lucy to join them and somewhat reluctantly the teenager did so. Janice put an arm around both her girls and held them close.

‘Kat wouldn’t want you to be so upset,’ Jessy remarked, ‘and anyone else either.’

‘How would you know?’ Lucy muttered under her breath, ‘she was being so selfish!’

‘Now, Lu, don’t be like that,’ Janice gushed, ‘We all could have done more of her. It wasn’t…it wasn’t…’

‘It’s alright mum,’ Jessy cut back in, ‘no one could have known what she was going through. She was just too upset and stressed.’

‘I know, but I only wanted the best for you all. And what kind of mother does that now make me?’ Janice questioned and forced back another wave of tears.

She studied her daughters’ faces, finding all the similarities and differences between them in those few moments. Her girls were beautifully, intelligent and kind. Each had something of herself and her husband within them. Kat had been the same. She had been the leader of her sisters with her motherly side and love of the home. How quickly her happy, positive nature had fallen when the hard times had come knocking.

Janice sighed and held her remaining girls closely.

‘No one will think any different of you, mum,’ Jessy whispered.

Farmhouse

The wind howled through holes in the cracked windows and rattled the branches of the dead trees against brick and glass. An unexpected hailstone wave tapped along the broken roof tiles and caused the drivers of cars on the motorway opposite to turn on their windscreen wipers and slow down. To them and any other travellers, all they saw a farmhouse and a collection of farm buildings which seemed long abandoned. Moss, ivy and other plants clung desperately to the walls and roofs, finding their way inside through gaps of all sizes. Rats and mice scuttled through the crumbling structures, forever fearful of the starving feral cats. Cobwebs flapped in the many corners with spiders’ exoskeletons and the remains of flies still clinging on. The bones of a black bird were scattered on the driveway and inside the front room Mavis lay slowly decaying.

True Feelings About Winter

In winter Molly liked to hibernate. She loved sleeping in even though she had gone to bed early the night before. Somehow, it never felt like she could get enough rest and wake up refreshed. She enjoyed creating a nest out of all her clean bedding and surrounding herself with soft toys as if they were her family.

Best though, Molly relished her new pile of books from Christmas. She would reshuffle her shelf on the first day of the New Year and make plans on what to read. Then she would begin and devour each book as if it was a wonderful slice of her favourite cake. She found that the winter season give her the excuse to stay in and read, which the other seasons often didn’t.

Also, she cherished winter food. The bitterly cold wind, icy rain and snow blankets caused her to crave hot soups, stews, hearty meat dishes and warm gooey puddings. Luckily, Molly still lived with her parents and felt grateful for her mother’s cooking. There was just something about coming home from a long day at work and finding that her mother had slow cooked stew and dumplings. The heavy warm food smell hugged the air and drew her straight in from the cold.

Molly would find herself having endless hot drinks and wearing so many layers it was like she was on an artic trek. Really though, she was just trying to stay awake and get a nice level of warmth against her skin. The weekends were better for her, because she would find reasons to spend most of the day in bed. For her, there was no better place to be and with a book in her hands, there was no reason for her to leave and battle against the winter weather.

View

Lake Riessersee & Zugspitze Mountain - Germany.

He turned the corner and slowed the boat down to behold the view that was before him. Pine trees lined the way to a small patch of grassy land and raising proudly above was a dark grey mountain half shrouded by low hanging clouds. He brought his oar into the boat and rested for a few moments. The wide river splashed gently around his small wooden vessel and singing birds echoed each other in the trees. He noted the burning colour of the sky and decided that he had finally reached a place that had only been touched by God.

Distraction

3linesjan

The Unwanted Husband

The last thing she wanted was a husband, but that’s what Becky ended up with after the hen night. The whole event was a blur, but for a handful of flashes and the agonizing hangover. Becky rolled over in her double bed and her arm collided with a broad shoulder. Coming too fully, she scooted to the edge of the bed and threw the duvet away from herself and the other body.

The man groaned and rolled over, long black hair falling over his face and still shut eyes. Becky poked his nose, not sure if she was still dreaming. The man wrinkled up his face as if about to sneeze then changed his mind. Becky studied him closer. She didn’t recognise him and couldn’t recall any memory of seeing him before. However, this wasn’t the first time she’d had a late night stand and not known the details.

Shivering in a blast of cold air, she got up and went into the bathroom. Hopefully, the man would wake up and just leave, like she was use to and there’d be no further contact. Getting into the running shower, she let the burning water clear her skin and mind. As she reached for her strawberry body scrub and a wash cloth, she noticed the gold ring on her finger.

Frowning, she bought her left hand closer to her face and looked at the ring on her fourth finger. It wasn’t one of her own rings, she noticed nor was it the normal finger for her to wear anything on. She slipped it off easy and inspected it. There were no marks that she could make out and no memory came to her mind about where it had come from.

Becky placed it in the soap holder of the shower, so the ring wouldn’t get lost and carried on. She got out soon afterwards and dried off in a big fluffy pink towel. Wrapping it around herself, she padded back to her bedroom, hoping that the man had left. However, he was still in the bed as she stepped into the room. Ignoring him, she dressed in comfy jeans and a t-shirt and went to the front door. She unlocked it so his exited would be easier and went to make some coffee.

In the kitchen she also took some tablets for her headache and made some toast. Taking her coffee mug and plate into the living room, she turned on the TV and sit down. The news flickered on as she heard the shower start up again behind her. Twisting around, she tried to look through the living room door into the hallway, but she couldn’t see anything. Growling under her breath, she almost got to her feet to tell the unwanted stranger to just leave, but the clicking of the bathroom door stopped her.

No confrontations, just let him alone and he will leave soon enough, she told herself. Turning back to the TV, she had her breakfast and afterwards pulled a blanket around her shoulders and put a cushion in her lap. She hadn’t been paying any attention to the noises going on around her, preferring just to wait until her headache had cleared.

However as she was dozing, she felt eyes on her. Snapping too, she looked up and there was the man, dressed in a black shirt and trousers, holding one of her mugs in his hand. He was so tall and wide that he almost filled the doorway. His wet black hair was now swept back and she could see his handsome face. He had large blue eyes, plump pink lips forming a pleasant grin and a shadow of a beard covering his lower face.

Becky was on the verge of telling him to leave, when he held out something in his other hand and offered it to her.

‘Ya left it in the shower,’ he said in a thick American accent.

‘Wh-at?’ she stuttered, looking at the ring in his hand.

He came forward, placed his mug on the coffee table next to her’s and tried to give the ring to her, but Becky hid her hands in the blanket.

‘What’s wrong?’ he asked.

‘Stay away from me! Just leave, please,’ Becky half-shouted.

He paused, ‘Ya didn’t say that last night, Baby…’

‘Who are you?’ Becky questioned, trying to calm herself, though she was starting to feel hysterical.

‘Ya husband, Eric,’ he replied casually and as if it was the most natural thing to say to her.

‘No, no,’ Becky shouted and scrambled up from the sofa to stand before him, ‘I’m not married. God, that’s the last thing I want. My friend, Darla is the one getting married.’

‘Darla?’ Eric’s voice and face filled with confirmation.

Thank God for that! This is Darla’s husband, Becky sighed in relief, clearly he’s got us mixed up and since I’ve never meet him this makes more sense because Darla and I do look so alike. But…wait a minute.

‘Yeah, I know her. She’s my best friend’s fiancée. We were all out celebrating their last night of freedom,’ he chuckled, ‘that’s how we meet, by accident in a night club and I told ya about my Russian bride and how she’s jilted me at the alter two weeks ago.’

Becky shook her head, unable to take in what he was saying.

‘Ya felt sorry for me and said ya’d marry me,’ he added.

Eric grabbed her hand and slipped the ring onto her finger, before her reeling mind could register the movement.

‘I didn’t mean it, I was completely drunk!’ Becky screamed.

He grabbed her shoulders and rubbed her arms gently, ‘it didn’t seem that way to me. Even the Priest asked ya-’

‘Priest? I’m not religious, so there’s no way we can be officially married!’ Becky spit and yanked off the ring. She threw it at him and he caught it in both hands, ‘You’re lying! You’ve made this all up! Get out, Get!’ she screamed and flapped her arms at him.

Eric stumbled backwards and hit the wall. Desperate, half formed words tumbled out of his mouth as he tried to come up with some way to calm her down.

Becky flew out him with her fists, hitting him on the chest, arms and anywhere she could reach. The rage consumed her and she felt unable to stop, until Eric grabbed her wrists and shoved her away. Becky lost her balanced and tumbled to the floor.

‘Okay, okay!’ Eric yelled, ‘I’m sorry.’

Becky threw her hair out of her face and looked up at him through a film of tears.

‘It was just meant to be a joke. Darla and Noah asked me to trick you into thinking we had. I didn’t want to do it! But I…’ Eric trailed off and sank into the armchair that was next to him.

Becky pulled herself up from the floor and climbed onto the sofa, ‘why?’ she asked softly as she wiped the tears away and tried to compose herself again.

‘To cheer us both up, I guess,’ he answered and shrugged, ‘I wasn’t lyin’ about my fiancée nor about what ya said. I think they overheard us talking and set us up. I’m really sorry. I should go.’

He stood up and Becky listened to him gathering his things and going to the door. She bit her lip, which was already blooded and felt too guilty to let him leave like this. Slowly, she got up and moved after him. Though she was unsure what to say or why she needed to bother. Eric was at the front door, just opening it, when she appeared behind him. He made to turn towards her then stopped and went to go again.

‘I’m sorry too,’ she cut in.

He paused and turned to her.

‘I way over-reacted, but you understand why, right? Do you…want to finish your coffee? I’d like to hear more about what happened…if you want to that is?’

‘Sure,’ Eric responded and closed the door as he followed Becky back into the living room.

Migraine

Migraine

It began as a slight pain on the side of Ren’s forehead. She rubbed the spot and swept dark brown hairs, which had come loose from her ponytail, behind her ear.  Pushing her thin frame glasses up her perky nose, she carried on typing. With quick glances at the computer screen and paper sheets on the desk, she finished up the first of the many databases she was upgrading.

Around her, the office bustled with noise and people. A telephone was constantly ringing and often joined by other ones, forming a never ending ringing sound. Keyboards and computer mice clicked away in random rhythms as computer towers whirled and hummed alongside them. Voices rose and fell in snatches of conversations, pearled with laughter and giggling. Footsteps tapped or shuffled on thin carpet and wooden flooring.

Ren stopped as the pain began growing and blossoming into a headache. She leant on the desk with her elbows and taking both her hands, she rubbed her fingers in slow circles over her temples. Also, she closed her eyes and drew in some deep breaths. Clearly, she heard her colleague in the next cubical talking on the phone and tapping a pen on his desk edge.

Dropping her hands and opening her eyes, Ren went to the handbag at her feet and searched through for some pain killers. Finding some, she took two followed by a mouthful of water from the bottle beside her computer screen. She tried to get back to work, but the office seemed a lot louder than before. She gave up after a minute and decided to take her afternoon break early.

Picking up her empty mug, she walked to the back of the room into the kitchen/lounge area. Two women, whom she half recognised were talking about their plans for the weekend by the coffee machine in the corner. Ignoring them, Ren checked the kettle and flicked it on. She made herself a tea then sat down on a large worn out sofa against the back wall. Praying that the pain killers kicked in soon, she drink her tea and blocked out the distant office noises.

The pain wouldn’t quit and when her fifteen minutes was up, Ren went back to her desk with a throbbing head. Sit back down, she felt a pulsing on the right side of her forehead, rubbing it only seemed to make it worse. She pulled herself together and threw everything into her work. The pain wouldn’t be ignored and started to affect her sight with bright flashing lights.

Shutting her eyes, she willed it all away and wondered if she should take more medicine. However, she knew she couldn’t, even if it didn’t seem very dangerous at that moment. Home it is then, she thought with a big sigh and opening her eyes, she prepared to leave and tell her boss.    

Winter’s Garden

In Winter’s garden I seek solitude. Seeing the plants under a soft blanket of snow calms me. I let my worries escape on the chilly wind as it takes my breath away. I feel like an invisible observer, only leaving footprints behind whilst gaining a new happy place.