Whichever Way The Waves Are Going (Part 3)

Forward, Storm, Spray, Sea, Ocean, Wave

She put on wellington boots and a rain coat. Leaving the hallway light on out of habit, she stepped outside. The chilly night air wrapped around her, but it was too late to think about being cold now. She pulled the door to and set off, feeling the sand path underneath her. Drawn by the sound of the sea, she went to the cliff.

A life time ago this afternoon, she had stood here and looked down, her eyes scanning desperately and seeing hints of his brown coat bobbing with the waves. She couldn’t remember how she’d gotten back home. She inched to the very edge and felt the soft land give way under her feet.

Questions and thoughts spiraled through her head. What had he been thinking? Feeling? Where was he now? She looked down, but saw only darkness though she heard the waves loud and clear. Clenching her fists, she hated herself for not doing this before. She should be with him.

Shuffling her boots along the edge till only her heels were still on, she stopped and looked up. A million pinpricks of white hung above sheltered by a half moon. She could make out some of the constellation, but couldn’t remember any of their names. She wondered what was out there beyond the stars and if that was where everyone ended up.

She shut her eyes, trying to quieten the racing of her heart and the headache beating in her ears. She wrestled with herself as she balanced upon life and death. The cliff point made choice for her and fell away from her feet. She plummeted down with a scream only the night could hear. The wind and waves stole her voice away and she felt wet all over then nothing more as the black sea water rushed up to greet her, hungry for another victim.

Whichever Way The Waves Are Going (Part 2)

Forward, Storm, Spray, Sea, Ocean, Wave

He sit at his desk, pen above the paper thinking how to begin. His hand shook as he started with I don’t want to live anymore. There it was out and he’d said it. I can’t go on, he added. Chewing his tongue and whispering to himself, he looked at the words before putting on the next line, it’s not your fault I was born like this.

She sat on his bed, stroking the soft worn fur of his favorite teddy bear. Deep tear lines marked her red face and in the quietness her sobbing was too loud. Rain tapped against the window as if asking to be let in and the sea was business bashing its anger upon the rocks. She looked at his letter and re-read words she’d never be able to let go of.

Curling himself into the desk, he lent across the paper and struggled to write. He wanted to thank her. She was a good mother and she’d done everything she could. He looked down and tried to state that, but he didn’t know how. Instead, he wrote, I can’t deal with things anymore.

 She looked out the window and saw the middle of the night. Tiredness and coldness ached through her bones, forcing her to lie down on his bed. The pillows smelt like him. She breathed in natural white soap and baby clothes washing powder. The memory of holding him for the first time flooded her.

His computer hummed and he woke the screen up. An empty virtual page appeared. He had meant to type the letter as it would have been easier, but something had drawn him to hand write it. He closed the page and looked at the computer game he’d been working on. It would never be finished now.

Slow tears dripped from her face. Her thoughts tumbled with all she had scarified for her special little boy. She had brought him here away from the cruel world so he could be happier. The burdens of society gone, he could be him.

She had failed him. Failed as a mother. She hadn’t been able to give him what he’d so longed for. What she had never known he’d wanted. Burying her face in the teddy bear, the last line of the letter took shape before her.

I can never be free from myself.

Whichever Way The Waves Are Going

Forward, Storm, Spray, Sea, Ocean, Wave

Another wave broke at the bottom of the cliffs, scattering white frothy spray everywhere. He looked over the edge at the roaring sea and took a deep breath. He bent his knees, held out his coat behind him like a cape and jumped.

The letter was on his desk when she walked in. Putting the washing basket on his bed, she picked it up and spent a few moments trying to decipher his handwriting. As the words sank in, she dropped the paper and ran.

The cold salty air rushed up to meet him. His coat ripped about behind him and for a few moments he imagined he was a bird. Tears appeared in the corner of his eyes then were whipped away as quickly as they had appeared.

She raced out in her slippers and jumper, all other thoughts gone out of her head. She tore open the cottage’s front gate and almost stumbled onto the sand pathway. Long, hard grass blades cut across her, but she ignored them and fled onwards.

The crashing waves ring loud in his ears and he could feel spitting droplets on his face. He smiled, feeling freer then he had in years. He yelled out and the wind tore through his mouth and snatched his wordless voice away. He looked down and saw the sea rising up to meet him.

Panic and pain shot through her chest as she reached the top of the cliff. Barely stopping her feet in time, she watched some small white stones scattering and falling over the edge. She clutched her chest and searched the stormy sea for any sign of him.

He let go of everything and held out his hands to reach the crests of the waves. Chilly water splashed against him then welcomed him inside with a deathly embrace.

She cried and screamed at the edge of the cliff until she tasted blood in her mouth and her body collapsed into the dirt, spent and shaking.

Life’s Given (part 2)

 :

‘For better or worse, in sickness and health.’

Colin nodded at his wife’s misquoting and squeezed her hand tightly.

‘It’s going to be okay,’ he whispered back.

She gave a little shake of her head, but didn’t stay anything.

‘We’ll have…to try…’ he stopped unable to force the rest of the words out. He had the urge to tell his wife so much, but the tears had closed his throat.

She sighed and shifted on the rough hospital bed causing the sheets and her gowned to rasp together. She turned her head away, shutting her eyes and letting the room fill with the whirling machines and their breathing.

Releasing her hand, Colin tried to hold himself together. He rubbed his palms across his knees and thought about going to get a hot drink. He couldn’t leave her like this, even though it seemed she had taken the terminal news okay. He studied her and noticed how thin her face had become. His wife looked like a flat portrait of herself, he decided.

Slumming into the hard chair, he thought about what to do, but nothing formed in his head. He pressed a hand to his head and listen to the ticking clock on the wall.

‘I’m going to get a drink, do you want anything?’ he spoke softly.

She didn’t reply.

He got up and saw she had fallen asleep. Gently, he fixed the knitted hat that hid her baldness and pulled the sheet up to her chin. He left as quietly as he could and went down a floor to the café. There cradling a burning cup of tea, he sat at a plastic table and watched everyone else.

There was only a few people hanging around and most of them looked like last minute visitors. They were sat alone or in pairs, whispering over cups and plates. Colin glanced out of the window and saw a small garden below him over which the mid-summer sun was just beginning to set.

I should take her out there tomorrow, if the weather holds, he thought before sipping his tea. Then his thoughts turned and he recalled how two years ago everything had started in this very hospital. He looked into his tea and tried to remember his wife telling him the news. They had been at home, going to bed. He knew she hadn’t been well, but she had been hiding it in her normal way. What had they done that night?

He shook his head, too much having happened for him to hold on to that one moment. He sighed, blew across his drink and took another sip. Placing the cup down, he pressed his hands into his head.

I don’t want this.

***

They had been a classic family; dad, mum, a boy and a girl. Now though, as Colin sat in his suddenly empty living room and looked at the photos, a chill crossed his heart. Sympathy cards lined the window sill, their soft drawings of flowers lit by the lamp. From upstairs he could hear his wife’s shaking sobs. He thought about going to her, but for the moment he needed to be alone.

His daughter had just died.

She would have been twenty-five next week and had gone on holiday with her boyfriend. A plane crash that had killed countless others and torn families around the world apart, had claimed her. She would never return.

Colin got up and touched the last photo of her and her older brother. He tasted bile in his throat and acid in his stomach. He shook his head and felt a surge of anger at losing both his children.

Unbelievably, tomorrow was his son’s anniversary. Eleven years gone now, killed by a drunk driver, aged only eighteen, in a car accident.

Colin slammed down the photograph and went upstairs. He found his wife flung across the bed face down. Her black dress rode up around her whilst her body heaved and shook on top of the sheets. He helped her up and took the dress off. He dropped it to the floor and saw she was wearing matching black underwear.

He lay her down on the bed again, took off his clothes then slipped between her legs. She didn’t protest as he slipped limply in and tried to offer some comfort. After, he held her tightly till she slipped into a restless sleep.

***

It was the happiest moment of his life. Colin stood on the church doorstep and watched the guests gathering. The early autumn sun was shining in a blue sky and even the little graveyard looked cheerful. He arranged the collar of his suit for the hundredth time and straightened out his red rose in his top pocket.

Everything had to be right and traditional, today was her big day. And also his, but this really was all for her. He watched the last of the guests arrive and greeted them warmly. He helped them find their seats and made sure that their children were going to be quiet.

Nothing can go wrong, everything has to be perfect.

Then, he was taking place at the altar with his best man and the vicar. He listened to the mumbled of voices from behind which got blasted by the starting of the church organ. His best man glanced behind them and Colin saw his face light up.

She’s here!  

He felt sweat bead on his head and hands. He quickly patted it away and took in a few depth breaths. Repeating the mantra over and over again as if he was about to perform that instead of his vows, he tried to clear his mind. He felt her come to his side, he turned and accepted her hand given to him by her father. Colin gulped and took her in. She was too beautiful in crushed white satin and frills.

The vicar’s voice mingled with the ending notes of the organ, filling the silenced room with his opening welcome.

Colin clutched her hands, feeling warmth spreading through him.

Life had given him everything he had ever wanted.       

Life’s Given (part 1)

 :

The waves splashed up around the car as Colin cut the engine, having decided he’d driven far enough. He took his hands off the steering wheel and dropped them into his lap. Staying seriously still, he looked out of the windscreen and watched the white topped sea engulfing the car. He let the rocking motion, more powerful now then when he had first headed in, sooth him.

Tears started in his brown eyes, but he no longer had the energy to rub them away. They leaked down his cheek and chin before falling on to the dirty white shirt. His bloodless, bitten lips trembled and soft sobbing escaped his mouth. He lent back and shut his eyes, allowing the sea to carry him away like a lost boat.

When Colin opened his eyes again, due by the cruel cries of seagulls, he saw that the sky had darkened and it was now raining. He looked out of the side window and saw that the sea was lapping halfway up the door. Moving back, he noticed his feet were wet and a quick glance down confirmed that the salty water had found ways into the car.

He wiped his damp face, moving back loose strands of dark brown hair then got back to waiting. He could hear the waves roaring outside and the strangled cries of the gulls still. Spray and rain mixed on the window, clouding his view and Colin felt himself on the edge of breaking down again. He let it come and sat there crying loudly as the sea broke through the glass.

***

Summer ended and Colin convinced himself so had his life. Bitter and hungover, he packed up the last of his boxes into the car. Refusing to look back at the house he had spent his whole adult life living in and fighting for. He got in, flicked the engine on and drove off. The swinging For Sale sign filling his review mirror. He drove straight into town and once there pawned the rest of his valuables.

He stopped at a cash machine and tried his card, but it wasn’t accepted. Out of habit, he put it back into was wallet with the two hundred pounds he’d just got and went back to the car. Sinking behind the wheel, he watched people roaming around the car park and going about their daily lives. His throat felt chocked, he thought about getting out again and going to buy a coffee.

‘Waste of money,’ he muttered to himself.

He pulled a jumper over his knees and grabbed a tatty science fiction novel from the passenger seat. He sat there reading and pretending he was waiting for someone. He read for an hour before deciding to take a nap. Wrapping himself in more winter clothes, he shut his eyes and pictured his bed back home. Soon, he was sleeping as peacefully as a kitten.

A loud tapping brought him awake. Colin opened his eyes and started out at the car park attendant. He went to open the window then remembered the engine was off, so opened the door instead.

‘You okay, sir?’ the large African man asked him.

Colin nodded, ‘I was waiting for someone,’ he mumbled.

He saw the attendant’s eyes flicking through the packed up car before zoning back to him.

‘The car park is shutting; I’m going to need you to leave.’

‘Of course, of course, I’m so sorry,’ Colin rushed.

He closed his door and started the car. He strapped his seat belt on then put the car into reverse and drove off. For a few minutes, he didn’t think about what he was doing, just that he had to get away. Then, he realised he was heading home and almost slammed on the brakes. Approaching around about, he followed the signs for the motorway and decided to head to the coast.

At least there I might be less disturbed, he thought.

Two hours later, he pulled up in an empty beach carpark. The tide was in and night was coming on fast. He glanced around and thought about finding a hotel. Another waste of money and what’s in my wallet is what I have, he signed. Getting out of the car, he went to the public toilets which stink of stale waste and salt.

Coming out again was a great relief and he hurried into his car once more. Locking himself in, he wrapped the same clothes around his tried, hungry body and pulled out his book again. He disappeared between the pages.

***

Colin was sick of hearing condolences. He had removed the phone cable and found a new best friend in cheap alcohol. He sat before the TV on the sofa or else sprawled on his bed and let the hours trickle passed. He tried not to look around the house or even think about anything, but it was too hard to do.

Sympathy cards lined the window sill, causing him to painfully remember the other two times that they had appeared. He got up, collected them all and threw them into the bin. Feeling slightly better, he looked around and decided to do the same to her things. He grabbed some bin bags and starting in the wardrobe, removed all of her clothes. He tried not to look and dwell as he did so, but still his thoughts couldn’t help it.

Here’s that red dress she wore for our last date. The sexy underwear I got her for Christmas. A witch’s Halloween costume for that big party last October. The purple high heels she looked wonderful in. Work clothes that would make the teenage office boys blush. Night clothes and underwear for the hospital stays. Slippers.

He was crying before he knew it. Stuffing as much as possible in, he then took the bags outside and dumped them in the garden. Coming back, he went through the rest of her stuff and added that to the pile outside. He wrestled with the memories and drank more heavily to forget. Collapsing onto the bed, he fell asleep in an emptier house then before.

Strangely, he dreamed of her funeral, though it wasn’t the actual one. The small church was humming with people singing hymns and he was walking up to the open casket. He looked in and saw his wife laying there. She was wearing a plain black frilled dress, oddly cut too low so that her breast stuck invitingly up. Her thin, needle scared arms lay beside her wilted torsos and he was confused for a few moments. This isn’t her!

Then he recalled the cancer. She had been eaten away and now this husk was all that was left. He looked closely at her face and saw that it really was her. He would always know the bow of her lips and button of her nose. Someone had put makeup on her, but it was too soft and made her look too natural. Where were the vibrate colours she was famous for?

He backed away as the priest rose and began tolling words from a little black book.

‘It’s wrong!’ he screamed, ‘So wrong! Stop! No!’

He rushed at the people in the pews, but he went right through them and the wooden seats. He spun and charged the priest, but the same effected happened. He went to her coffin and slipping his hands underneath her pulled her body out. He clutched his dead wife to his chest and cried hard, ‘Don’t leave me!’

To Be Continued…

Water Man Part 1

The water trickled through his fingers. He flexed the digits, bringing some life back into them. He tried to grab onto something, but found nothing other than some pebbles. He raised his head all the same and looked around the forest. The trees rose around him creating a canopy that almost blocked out the blue-grey sky. Rain drops slowly fell off summer leaves which shook in a gentle breeze.

He struggled upwards with a groan and eased his aching body off the boulder. He sat down in the slow flowing river, collecting himself. The cold water lapped against his skin reminding him that he was naked. He looked around again, trying to figure out where he was and what had happened. Nothing came to him, not even his name.

Getting up, he felt like he was lifting the boulder too. His feet sank into small stones and sand on the river bed, but he kept his balance. Splashing through the water, he made it to the bank and sat down again. Exhaustion crippled him and he fall back into the grass. He looked up at the swaying tree branches and they soothed him into sleep.

When he came to again, the sky was darker. Night was settling in. He eased himself up and noticed that the grass had imprinted on his skin. He brushed himself off and pulled himself towards the river. Nothing had changed expect the time. He washed his hands and face, before drinking some of the water. It was cold and fresh.

Shaking his head, he glanced around and got to his feet. There had to be answers somewhere. Like Adam he began to walk in the forest. The daytime birds were finishing off their songs and the night time birds were taking over. The wind had picked up and he quickly became chilly. He came to a tall tree and stopped to press his hand to the trunk. The roots were tangle in the loose soil and he thought he could burrow under there till dawn.

The urge to go on made his feet move and he carried on following the river even though it was running in the opposite direction. In his head, he believed he must have drifted down the river and at least that fact might give him a starting point. He breathed in deeply and smelt the damp earth and trees. The ground felt good underneath him.

He noticed a waterfall up ahead and made for it. The water was lazy cascading down and it looked just as shallow as before. There was no way the water could have brought him here. Growling, he cast around and did a little pacing. He rubbed his forehead feeling the start of a sharp pain there. He must have gotten into the river and lay down on the boulder. Unless, his mind ticked over and his hand felt the damp ground, the river had been higher days ago.

He sat down, the thoughts over taking him and his head pounding with pain. There had to be answers somewhere, he was just looking in the wrong place.

To Be Continued…

***

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Sycho

Dr. Guylian, the psychologist, consulted his appointment list and with a slight shake of his head crossed out the third name on the list. His eyes flickered to the newspaper next to him on the desk and he saw the same name: Margaret Dales printed on the open page. There was a photograph of a young petit woman with curly hair under a headline of; Suicide Verdict For Depressed Mother Of Six.

The corners of Guylian’s mouth give a slight flick up as if to grin, but then became straight. He had work to do. He glanced at his laptop clock and saw it was a few minutes to nine. Mr. Kingsly was in the waiting room having checked in according to the computer.

There was a soft knocking at the door.

‘Come in,’ he called sounding like a school headmaster.

The door opened and his P.A, Miss Tibet, waddled in. Her chubby arms were loaded with brown paper files and her huge breasts were spilling out around them almost as if they were eating the files. Her stomach to floor black skirt threated to trip her up and did nothing to hide or support her bulging belly. Her dark cream blouse looked loose enough, but had one button too many open at the top. Her face, acne and pockmarked covered, was masked by makeup that unfortunately still showed what was underneath.

Dr. Guylian tried not to cringe and kept a blank face.

Miss Tibet dumped the files down on a small desk to his right and began fixing them, ‘Everything is in order,’ she stated loudly, ‘I’ve removed Mrs. Dales from your appointment list. I’ll sort out her files for the police- if they want them- later on if I get a chance. Is that okay with you, Doctor?’

‘Yes. Thank you. Please send Mr. Kingsly in,’ Guylian responded with his eyes fixed to the computer screen.

‘Of course,’ Miss. Tibet said gruffly and left.

The door didn’t click back into place behind her and Guylian growled. He got up, straightening his black suit and white shirt. He tweaked his tie and patted down his short black hair. Then balancing his black framed glasses on the end of his nose and picking up his notepad he went to the comfy leather chair next to the red fabric sofa.

There was knock and Guylian welcomed his client in. Mr. Kingsly shuffled forward, quietly closing the door behind him. He was wearing a rumpled old suit and looked as if he had just come from a funeral. His face drooped with heavy wrinkles and tiredness. Kingsly settled onto the sofa, laying down with his legs together and his arms over his chest and his fingers linking.

‘How are you feeling today?’ Guylian asked.

‘Tried, Doc. So tried. I didn’t sleep at all last night nor the night before,’ Kingsly rasping voice answered. ‘I tried hard. Pills and everything like you said. But it was no good.’

‘Why do you think you couldn’t sleep?’ Guylian let the question roll off his tongue.

‘Stress,’ Kingsly answered with a slight shrug, ‘the debt collectors are gonna get me.’

‘I’m sure they aren’t,’ Guylian cut in, ‘that can’t be all that’s troubling you.’

Kingsly eyed up and swallowed loudly.

‘You are safe here, remember.’

‘It’s…her,’ Kingsly muttered.

‘Her?’ Guylian asked after a few moments.

‘It doesn’t matter. It’s nothing. Nothing, I’m sure.’

Guylian tapped his pen against his pad and watched his client shifting on the sofa. Kingsly was really nervous. Guylian waited for him to go on.

‘Can you give me something to sleep, doc?’ Kingsly spoke.

‘Did the last stuff not work?’ Guylian questioned, ‘I guess we could try something else….’

‘Like what?’ Kingsly asked with a slight rise to his voice.

‘I have another client who likes to smother herself. She claims it’s the only way she can sleep. Of course, I don’t advise that. It’s dangerous,’ Guylian explained.

‘Why does she…? No, I don’t want to,’ Kingsly rushed and got up off the sofa.

‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.’

‘It’s okay, doc. I need to go now. Thanks,’ Kingsly turned and walked to the door.

Guylian kept his head low and wrote across his pad. He heard the door open and close softly. He carried on writing for a few moments then let out a sigh. Getting up, he went back to his desk and woke up his laptop. He began typing up his notes whilst his mind ticked over.

His phone buzzed and he picked it up.

Miss. Tibet’s voice crackled through, ‘Mr. Meta has arrived. Shall I send him in?’

Guylian’s eyes flickered to his computer clock, ‘give me a few more minutes,’ he said and hung up.

He finished up the notes then dug out his next client’s file. He flipped through the pages and decided to see how hard he could push Meta. The man seemed close enough to the edge now. A lick of anticipation acrossed his face and Guylian picked up the phone and called Meta through.

‘Mr. Meta. How are you today?’ Guylian called, getting up from his desk as the door opened.

Meta stumbled in. He was short, bald and his stubble beard unshaved. He was wearing dirty jogging pants and a t-shirt. Meta collapsed onto the sofa like a rag doll.

‘Mr. Meta?’

‘Bad,’ came the raspy voice.

‘Please go on,’ Guylian pressed trying to hide a hint of a smile.

‘The voices are still talking to me. Yesterday, they told me to jump from a bridge,’ Meta declared, ‘I got up on the railing, but I just couldn’t do it.’

‘Don’t you want your pain to end?’ Guylian said pleasantly.

‘Yes, yes,’ Meta sobbed, ‘I’ve nothing left now. It’s all gone.’

‘I’m sorry to hear that…maybe it’s time…you moved on?’

Meta took in a deep shaking breath, ‘how?’

‘Perhaps, you should listen to the voices and do what they say?’ Guylian suggested, hiding his Cheshire cat smile behind the notepad.

Red and Black

I was never what they were expecting, but I had gotten use to that over the years. The dying saw my colours first, just like I saw and was drawn to theirs. I knew what the human race had imagined throughout the centuries; the black cloak, the scythe, the boat, the angels. They never cast me in that role though and yet here I was; the girl child in the red coat with the black umbrella, come to ferry your soul.

Wood

Mr. Baxter had no choice but to cut the young trees down on the hill at the back of his garden. It was an idea his wife had been suggesting for the last few weeks, but Baxter had been trying to find another solution instead. This morning time had run out though and as his wife had left to drop the children off at school then go to her part time job, she had reminded him about their lack of fire wood again.

Out of options and armed with a small axe plus a pair of gardening gloves, for that was all he had, Baxter stepped out of the back door and avoiding the chicken coop, which give shelter to the three remaining chickens, strolled across his ragged looking lawn. The grass was littered with children’s toys of no real age or gender and many of the toys were broken and weather battered.  His back garden ran straight for twenty paces, then ended under a big oak tree with a crudely made wooden plank and chicken wire fence just before it.

Mr. Baxter struggled to climb over the boundary marker he had made with his own hands and cut off pieces from the chicken coop years ago. As he came to stand on the other side, he surveyed the quickly sloping hill and the row of houses that lay at the bottom. He couldn’t see very much through the wild tangle of bare tree and bush branches. However, he did spot a large and mean looking German Shepherd dog wondering around the neatly trimmed lawn of the garden to the left of him.

Hoping that the dog didn’t spot him and thus draw any human attention upon himself, Baxter selected the nearest young spruce, which for all he knew about trees could have been an endangered native species, and started to swing his axe at the trunk. Luckily, his swing was good, his axe blade sharp and the trunk thin, so after a few moments the tree fell. Smiling to himself, he rested the axe against a fence plank and dragged the tree up alongside it.

Sweat popped on his brow and caused his hands to go slick in the gloves. The tree became snagged on the branches of its companions and Baxter had to put all his energy into shifting it. With a final heave, he threw the small tree over the fence and into his back garden. He paused to catch his breath, for he was very over weight and had a back problem. Wiping his face and forehead, he selected another young tree and attacked it with the axe.

For the rest of the morning he carried on in the same vein, until his wife came home at lunch time and she came out to him with a cup of tea and half a fish paste sandwich. Handing him the cup and plate, she glanced at his hard work and nodded her head.

‘I fear it won’t last us though,’ she said quietly.

‘My benefit payment comes in on Thursday. I’ll try and get some more logs and coal then,’ he answered through a mouthful of sandwich, ‘this’ll be good for kindling though, so I won’t buy any of that.’

‘I’ll go down to the job centre tomorrow and see what else we can claim or if there’s any more jobs I can apply for,’ Mrs Baxter responded with sadness in her voice.

Baxter nodded, feeling he couldn’t say any more about their unfortunate situation.

‘Shall I help?’ his wife asked instead.

‘If you want too. I think I left the saw on the kitchen table.’

‘I noticed you had,’ she replied and left.

He finished off his sandwich and drank his warm tea in a few gulps, before turning back to the tree he had been cutting down. Leaving his things to the side he begin again and had chopped through the trunk just as wife returned. She helped him heave it up into the garden then began to saw the branches and trunk up. Baxter left her to it and moved towards another tree. He left his eyes drifted down the hill and saw that the German Shepherd was now in the garden below him. The dog was right up against the fence and sniffing the air madly.

From where he was, Baxter could see that the fence looked a lot stronger than his as it was made from concrete pillars and had two layers of thick wire in-between. Still though, he hoped there were no gaps that the dog could get through. Getting his footing next to another young tree, he swung low at the truck. The sound of metal striking wood drew the dog’s attention and this time, aware that something was going on above him, the dog started barking.

Baxter paused and looked nervously down the hill. The dog was jumping up against the fence now and barking urgently. Baxter’s eyes flicked towards the house, but he couldn’t see much further into the garden, let alone a back door. He glanced up at his wife, but couldn’t see her, only his fence. Gritting his teeth, he took a few swift swings at the tree and cut it down.

A yelling voice cut through the dog’s barking and the fading sounds of the tree crashing down. Baxter stopped and ducked down to hide as best he could. He heard the sound of the saw stopping and guessed his wife too had paused. The voice was yelling the dog’s name, though he couldn’t be hundred percent sure what it was, maybe Dante? Danta? Danti?

The dog stopped barking and the owner’s voice – a young man- questioned what had started it. Of course the dog didn’t answer and the man made his own conclusion that it was properly just a large bird or cat.

Holding his breath, Baxter slowly peered out of the branches and down into the garden once more. The dog and man had gone. Standing up, he grabbed the tree and hauled it up to his fence where his wife stood waiting. Together, they pulled the tree into their garden and left it beside the others.

‘That was close,’ Baxter muttered.

His wife glared at him, ‘what does it matter?’ she shot back.

Startled, he stared at her, his hand lose on the axe.

‘Do you think he would have even cared or asked? And if he had done, you could have said you were doing some winter pruning and to mind his own bloody business!’ She half shouted.

‘Calm down, it’s alright,’ he said gently.

He let the axe fall to the floor and held his wife tightly. He kissed her head and rubbed her shoulders. Slowly, she uncoiled and let her body lean against his. He heard her sigh and wondered if she was going to cry.

‘We’ll get through this,’ he said softly, ‘It’s only another month or so. It’ll be fine.’

‘I know,’ she sniffed.

‘Hey, there’s still time to sell the children,’ he joked and laughed.

She smiled, laughing lightly and patting his shoulder, ‘I don’t think we’d get much for them,’ she joined in with the joke.

Baxter hugged her tightly, ‘then we’ll just carry on. Now let’s get this wood sorted and inside before it starts to get dark and the children come home.’

His wife nodded and together they want back to work.

Note

On the desk before him was a leather notebook, a small white dice and a handgun. Resting his head on his hands, he thought over again what he was going to write down. Then taking a pen, he flipped to a random empty page in the notebook and began writing. He let the words fill the page without pausing or double checking his spelling. He just needed them out of his head and to see them on the page.

We don’t always grasp what is important.

We loss so many moments and don’t realise.

We go through life on rolls of chance dices.

We think that’s the way it should be, but really,

It never has been, just like I shouldn’t have been.

 Once done, he set the pen down and picked up the dice, which he played around with. He re-read what he had put and decided it would do, because he knew he’d never be able to write all of his thoughts and feelings down. With his other hand, he grabbed the gun and put it to the side of his head. He pressed the trigger and the dice rolled out of his hand into a small mouse hole in the wall.