Do you have an evil twin?
December 29, 2012

Do you have an evil twin?

You know the one that eats the packet of biscuits when you’re on a diet, or flirts with someone’s partner at a party, or secretly uses the credit card you’d hidden at the back of your purse when you know the credit balance is already too high, or eats the last rolo … the bad side

Yep, that’s the one. It’s your alter ego. The one you really don’t want to admit to but who is there with you, every step of the way, dogging the nice, kind, principled things you do with the mean little comments about what you’d really like to do…

Now that sounds bad – and a little weird, but actually its ok for us to all have that BAD person inside because comparing like with like doesn’t work, but comparing good with bad lets you see what is really the right thing to do and what really is not! Good and bad luck work the same way. If you didn’t have bad things happen to you occasionally, you wouldn’t be able to leap about in quite the same way when something good pops up. If it was all good, there would be nothing different to notice would there?

So why do we have a good and a bad side? Freud, Jung and a whole host of others psychs have plenty to say about it. Maslow is famous for proposing that human motivation is based on a hierarchy of needs. The lowest level of need is physiological and survival needs, such as hunger and thirst. Further levels up include belonging and love, self-esteem, and finally self-actualisation.

Self-actualisation, hmm – what the ****** is that? Well the nearest in layman’s language to it is

  • the discovery of one’s vocation or destiny,
  • the realisation of life as precious,
  • acquisition of important experiences,
  • being able to developing choice,
  • and having a sense of accomplishment.

Ok, what has that to do with good and bad? Well, the crux of that is as we approach a new ‘New Year’. Are your choices and your 2013 going to be ‘bad’, or ‘good’? Is your alter ego who grumbles about everything, criticises everyone, refuses to do anything new, and is dissatisfied about life in general because it is all ‘bad’ going to take the first step into 2013, or is your ‘good’ persona going to beat it there?

midnight approachesWe are all about to face the New Year’s resolution crisis point any day now in a time when the economy is in recession, businesses are failing and everyone is finding it tougher and more depressing than any time since the 1930’s. Those New Year choices will take you at least a year forward; maybe much further, so don’t let your alter ego keep you in the old ways of 2012. Be pro-active if you haven’t, brave even if you don’t think you are, optimistic even though you’re not. It’s not surprising to know that ‘self-actualisation’ is in your hands, and so is the fate of your evil twin …

I have given life to two evil twins in Courting the Dark which is coming out next year. One of the characters is my weak and silly side, and another is my very wicked one. Now you have to read the book when it comes out to see what they’re like, don’t you 😉

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The Dinner Party
December 6, 2012

Christmas ain’t Christmas without a bit of a spooky tale, so here’s mine …

tableware for dinner party‘A dinner party? Can I bring a plus one?’ A frisson of something trembled in my soul.

‘Of course – do we know them?’ He just laughed. We were on the phone so I couldn’t see his expression.

‘See you later then.’ He sounded happy – certainly not how I’d expected him to be after Clem, but he’d gone and I was left wondering.

‘Was that who I thought it was?’ The voice was muffled from under the table. The owner’s prone legs were splayed across the floor, extending oddly from under the table cloth, as if a murder victim had just been hastily stuffed out of sight.

‘Yes, and he’s coming tonight.’

‘That’ll be interesting after all this time.’ The tone was sarcastic.

‘With someone.’

‘Oh.’ Silence, then more curiously, ‘who?’

‘He didn’t say.’

‘In that case it’s going to be really interesting.’ The table shook as if the murder victim’s spirit was attacking it and then both table and legs settled into stillness. I waited for the body to rise from its last resting place, but table and legs remained motionless. It made me feel queasy but I didn’t know why.

‘Are you ok under there Alex?’ I asked, suddenly worried.

‘Yeah, just thinking.’

‘Thinking?’

‘About Jay and Clem and the way they just went – you know.’ Alex didn’t need to say any more. I did know. More than Alex did, in fact; but I was keeping that to myself.

‘Yes, well if you’re done under there, we should lay up now.’

‘Yep, all done, I’ve tightened up all the screws so it shouldn’t collapse under the weight of the food – or the conversation.’ The comment ended in muffled laughter and the table shook again. The legs wriggled out from underneath it, bringing the rest of the body with them.

‘Haha! Very funny.’ I turned away and went back to the kitchen to find the wine. Tuneless whistling floated in from the dining room and I guessed the table top was being transformed for the dinner party now it was safe to sit at again. I ignored the annoying whistling and turned my attention to the wine rack. I usually relished choosing exactly the right wine but my head wasn’t on it tonight. All I could think about was the plus one Jay was bringing – and what about Clem? I checked the clock. It was already seven-thirty. They were all due at eight. I called to the table and its legs.

‘If you’re done there, can you check the oven? I’m sorting the wine.’

‘OK.’ It was louder than expected and I turned in surprise as Alex appeared in the kitchen doorway, flushed and dishevelled from the table wrestling.

‘Maybe have a bit of a tidy up too?’ I added pointedly. Good humoured laughter bubbled around the hallway.

‘Um, I see what you mean.’ The reappearing vision was sleek and immaculate. I felt imperfect and uneasy. I pushed past into the cool of the hallway, assessing which me I saw in the mirror. I wondered what Jay would make of me, five years on. Five years – had it really been so long; since Clem had happened? I was startled out of my reverie by the doorbell jangling insistently.

‘It’s for you-oo,’ came light-heartedly from the kitchen, along with the smell of perfectly cooked Beef Wellington.

‘I’ve got it,’ I called back impatiently. I opened the door, the angry angst-ridden me well hidden under the hosts charming bonhomie. ‘Ange, Mike – how are you?  Ange enveloped me in a cloud of too-strong perfume and billowing chiffon.

‘Darrrling, how are you – it’s been ages.’ She was right – for all the overdone lovey-ness, it had been the same five years of ages as since I’d seen Jay or Clem.

‘We’re good, thanks Ange.’ I disentangled myself and Mike’s less flowery and more business-like hug was a relief. ‘Come on in.’ I turned to call out to the kitchen, but Alex arrived with drinks right on cue. Eventually the storm of hello’s, hugs and darrrrlings dissipated and we moved into the warmth of the lounge, warily convivial. The bell went again and I rushed to answer it, trying to quell the jitters that it would be Jay this time. It wasn’t. Agitation overcame courtesy with the Betterware woman collecting the catalogue she’d left earlier. I flung the unwanted package at her and slammed the door in her face. Belatedly a wave of shame made me redden. I re-joined the forced conversation in the lounge, knowing the only conversationalist I wanted to bandy words with was yet to arrive, but God knew who with. Unbidden, the old jealousy consumed me. I wondered if I could even be civil to Jay’s plus one. Trying too hard to concentrate on Ange’s gushing, I almost missed the third ring, but in the visceral depths of my gut, I heard it instinctively. I was beaten to the door. Momentarily I hated Alex with a hatred I’d felt only once before but I didn’t have time to dwell on when. The lounge door burst open and before I could prepare myself, Jay was standing in front of me.

‘Hey,’ he was embracing me and I was drowning in his sharp-spiced smell, his proximity, his warmth and the desperate yearning I still felt for him. My head spun and I held onto him tightly. ‘Such a long time.’ He breathed the words into my ear and they spiralled round my head like a tornado funnelling into oblivion. In the eye of the storm, was his plus one. As my head cleared and my vision settled, she stood quietly and ominously behind him in the dark hallway. I pulled away sharply, waves of fear travelling up and down my body like electricity, sparking, shorting, sparking; killing.  Clem from Dinner party

‘Clem!’ My exclamation killed all talk in the lounge. I sensed something behind me and found the lounge conversationalists had clustered there, mixing their sweat and perfume with my dismay. Jay smiled at Clem and beckoned her in. The clamouring bodies behind me parted like the red sea for the unexpected, and mysteriously, very alive, plus one.

She passed through us, as if we didn’t exist; or maybe she didn’t exist? I was starting to doubt my own senses and sanity now. Jay just smiled enigmatically, and followed her. From my vantage point obliquely opposite I observed her apprehensively. Exactly the same as the last time I’d seen that elongated bony face, with its too large eyes, black, black hair and white skin. Now if possible, the pale complexion had become almost translucent; unhealthily waxen, as if she really wasn’t there at all – the way I’d thought it was.

‘Who’s hungry? Shall we sit for dinner?’ The jovial enquiry broke the tense silence, and the buzz of who was sitting where eased us round the table. Legs sticking angularly out from a lifeless body as it sprawled out from under the table. I found myself directly opposite Clem and Jay; the last place I wanted to be.

‘Clemmie, darrrling; where have you been hiding yourself?’ Ange didn’t wait for a reply. She rounded straight on Jay. ‘We thought it must have been a crime passionelle when she just disappeared and then you went persona non grata too.’ I watched Ange preen herself for what she considered wit. Mike wriggled further back in his seat beside her, face closed, but body expressing his discomfort. I knew what was going on behind those blank grey eyes. I’d heard him explode at her once after she’d been particularly pretentious at one of our dinner parties long ago – Christ why were we having this one?

‘Crime passionelle and Jay? Oh, Jay would never hurt a fly. He wouldn’t be the one to be involved in a crime passionelle.’ Clem smiled icily and everyone froze a degree colder. Her eyes slid back to me. Jay interjected quickly.

‘We’ve been on a bit of a tour.’ Four pairs of eyes trained on Jay and waited for more. Clem remained supremely aloof, face shadowed, tensed, dangerous; in control. ‘Clem was a little unwell so we went some places to make her better.’ He flashed a brilliant smile at her and then at me, as if including me in the secret of the places they’d been to make Clem better. That last time, I’d left her, the skin had been pale as death, the face a mask, blood pooling stickily under her head.

‘You’re looking well now.’ Mike offered it up dubiously, and Clem nodded graciously at him. Ange looked at him as if he was mad – a green-eyed stare like a cat would give its enemy. Clem looked quiet and serious. A far cry from the lascivious woman who’d tried to steal greedy kisses from me just before I’d left her broken and lifeless.

‘The starter’s mushroom pate. I hope you all like mushrooms?’ Alex was valiantly trying to break the ice patina rapidly spreading over us.

‘Magic mushrooms, darrrling?’ Ange’s trill made the rest of us cringe.

‘Oh Ange, really …’ Jay patted her arm as if she was a naughty but delightful child. She tittered and combed her hair flirtatiously at him. Clem’s eyes swivelled back to her and the dark lights in their depths terrified me. Where had they been to make her better? How could you make a dead body better? 

‘How’s things in the psycho industry then Maz?’ He was talking directly to me. I pulled myself together enough to reply.

‘Oh, mad as ever.’ The laughter was appreciative and I breathed out, avoiding Clem’s black-eyed stare, wishing I’d never visited their house that day. ‘I dream about you day and night, Maz. I want you. I know why you are always round here, always offering to help, always checking in on Jay … ’ Her hands were clawing at me, grasping, squeezing, her mouth almost on mine, her heavy breath hot on my face, stealing my own away from me… ‘You know what they say about psychiatrists don’t you?’ I might as well play my audience for all I could if it would deflect that hateful stare from me. ‘You can’t tell them from the patients …’ Raucous laughter showed it had been well received and the wine choice I’d made had been a good one – one of the highest alcohol volumes I had, and chosen specifically for that reason, but not to promote gaiety, to promote softening. Jay’s softening, Jay staying, Jay, Jay, Jay. I tried to shut down the insistent voice in my head, but it was replaced instead by Clem’s,‘Maz, Maz, Maz.’ …

The memory of that last time I’d seen her couldn’t be ejected from my thoughts now. It had taken me over body and soul. She wouldn’t leave me alone; I couldn’t wipe the slimy disgust of her saliva from my lips or escape from her burning eyes, or the threat she posed … ‘Maz, Maz, Maz.’ … ‘Get off me you stupid bitch. It’s not you I come here for, but Jay.’ I flung her forcefully away from me and her head cracked against the table edge…

‘Do psychiatrists live in the real world, or their imagination, do you think, Maz?’ Clem was coolly vicious. The conversation around us flowed on, witticism, quip, joke, flirt, ‘more wine?’ No-one else heard her low-voiced question. They weren’t meant to. Only she and I were in this discussion.

‘This is real, so of course the real world.’

‘Is it?’

‘Is it what?’

‘Is it real?’

‘Of course it is.’ I looked at the exaggerated expressions on the other dinner party guests; wide-eyed, laughing, bored, polite, exasperated. I realised they weren’t talking to us and we weren’t talking to them. There was an invisible barrier between us – like we were in another world, alongside but not touching. Clem smiled mysteriously. ‘Are you dead, or alive?’ She tilted her head quizzically and my mind rushed back to that day again. Her face collapsed in on itself as if life had imploded as her head struck the table; first the surprised look, then the blankness of death. She tumbled awkwardly to the floor and lay there. The table wobbled and then was still. Her legs stuck out angularly from the lifeless body as it sprawled half under the table. Shock turned to nausea as I turned to see Jay coming through the door to the room. Could he forgive me?

‘What do you want me to be?’ I considered the question. The real answer was neither. Alive meant either I was going insane or she was some awful thing from beyond the grave. Dead meant she was some awful thing from beyond the grave or I was already insane. ‘Or more to the point, why am I here with you, and they can’t see me?’ I looked around at the four other faces. They seemed even more distant than before.

‘What is going on?’ I hated her. Now I remembered that hatred in fine detail where I’d only remembered it dimly earlier. I wanted to address Jay, but he was across the divide with the other dinner guests. It was only Clem and me here.

‘It’s confession time, my dear. Just tell them what really happened and we’ll leave you in peace.’ I didn’t want Jay to go, but I wanted Clem to. Greedy, demanding, disgusting, hateful Clem, who’d taken my Jay and made him infatuated with her. Greedy, demanding, disgusting, hateful Clem, who’d tried to kiss and paw me when the only one I wanted to do that was Jay. Greedy, demanding, disgusting, hateful Clem, who had Jay, and didn’t even want him. ‘I won’t go away until you admit you killed me.’

‘You fell.’

‘Fell?’ Clem’s voice was sinuous like a python coiling round me.

‘You fell.’

‘Why did I fall?’

‘You just fell.’

‘I didn’t just fall. Tell them, tell them!’ Her voice rose from its soft sibilance to a harpies’ shriek. I covered my ears in agony as her banshee wail made my head split apart and the blood pooled stickily under it.

‘I pushed you, OK? I pushed you off of me, you slut, and you hit your head on the table.’ My voice reverberated around the room as the dinner party froze, forks in mid-air, glasses poised to clink, heads’ thrown back in surprise. I catapulted back through the eerie barrier from Clem’s world to my own.

‘We said to absent friends, Maz.’ Alex touched me lightly on the arm, ‘and how sad it is Clem isn’t here anymore, but we’ll toast her anyway – across the ether.’ She turned to the rest of faces round the table, all looking oddly at me, and added, ‘to Clem – RIP.’ I breathed in the smell of fruity red wine and Beef Wellington, over-perfumed women and after-shaved men. Maz from the dinner party

I looked gratefully at my wife Alex. Jay and his new girlfriend looked back.

To me she still looked exactly like Clem.

Enjoy.

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Chained melody final cover

If you fancy longer reading in 2013, my new novel ‘Chained Melody is out on 18th January and will be available then on Amazon.

Beyond the page as Sandra sways …
July 5, 2012

Now it starts to get interesting for Sandra…

‘. . . Sandra glowered at him with hatred, but he didn’t see her venom. He was buried in his damn Telegraph as usual. ‘Blah, blah, blah . . .’ she mimicked him, from her hidden position behind the upheld pages, openly making mocking faces at him as she silently mouthed the words. He just continued to drone on about HIS views and HIS opinions and HIS ideas, never, once, ever, asking her about hers. And of course the weight problem came up too – it always did. He called her blubbery like a whale: and the fact that she didn’t work.

‘. . . and that really is the crux of it?’ He suddenly put the pages down flat on his lap and looked directly at her over the top of his wire – rimmed glasses. Questioning, no: he wasn’t questioning her – he never questioned. He told : he told, criticised, belittled, and shamed her. He never questioned, otherwise he might have got a very different answer to the one he got. The question was rhetorical, just saying, ‘I’m right aren’t I?’ It just didn’t have the ‘aren’t I?‘ at the end of it.

Sandra hastily re-composed her belligerent sneer to a face of polite agreement. ‘If you think so, dear’ she said meekly, not even knowing what she was agreeing with because her mind had been totally taken up with the wonderful release of baring the teeth of her frustration at him in the seconds before the question-statement was posed.

‘Hmmm’ he said, narrowing his eyes at her, not quite sure if the response was satisfactory enough, and then obviously deciding it was only Sandra – it would do. He shook the newspaper pages slightly to remove any crumples from them and withdrew behind them again. The voice was slightly muffled as it continued from behind the barrier, ‘I’ll have that tea now, but make sure it’s not too weak, and there’s only one spoon of sugar in it, oh and I don’t want that flowery mug you gave me last time. You may want to act like a char woman but I drink my tea out of a proper cup and saucer like a gentleman would.’ He didn’t even look to see if Sandra acknowledged and obeyed the command: he knew she would.

Once the tea was satisfactorily made and provided in the appropriate format, Sandra escaped to the bedroom. She left the bedroom door just ajar – so she could hear if he moved from his throne and came upstairs to see what she was doing. Not that he was likely to. His interest in her had dwindled to nothing but the odd reprimand and string of orders years ago, once the children were grown. She’d outlived her attraction to him when she no longer provided anything material in his life. He’d already looked elsewhere, anyway. She knew that. She occasionally found the odd hotel or restaurant receipt in his jacket pocket when she took it to the dry cleaners. They were careless oversights on his part which merely told her he didn’t bother to hide anything anymore. Such absolute arrogance. She didn’t know who the current one was, but she suspected it was a woman at the office. She’d noticed his enlivened tone when he’d declaimed the woman as a tart for going to a belly dance class – a belly dance class of all things!

The comment had made Sandra pick up her ears – partly because she could tell that his interest was obviously piqued and whilst Sandra had long since ceased to care about his betrayals, she was canny enough to realise that it was wise to keep track for her own self-preservation. But she had also been curious about belly dancing. It conjured up tantalising images of raven haired beauties, barely covered in diaphanous silks, bejewelled and sequined, trailing seductively over the shoulders and sexual appetites of their male audience.  She almost smelt the heady scent of desire, the mystery of decadence, the pounding beat of the drum as the dancer flicked and shook her hips and breasts to its rhythm – the rhythm of sweat and thrust and sex. She shivered slightly in excitement. That was something she hadn’t experienced in a very long while. She crept to the bedroom door and listened silently for a few minutes. There was no sound at all below. He was either still deeply immersed in the stuffy news print or he’d dozed off. Either way, she could.

She stripped her shapeless woollen top off, dragging it over her head roughly, and hastily let her tracksuit pants drop around her ankles like a puddle. Hidden carefully at the back of her wardrobe, underneath an old dress, was the outfit. It was skimpy and exciting. She slid into it, smoothing the soft transparent drape of the skirt over her hips, running her hands down to her thighs, and then swinging them slightly, luxuriating in the way the fabric fell against her bodies outline, hiding it, but revealing all. She sighed with satisfaction, wriggled her shoulders slightly in a shimmy, making her breasts rub against each other exuberantly, bubbling over the top of the tiny sequined bra. She smiled.

 

More to follow next week …

Follow me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Debbie-Martin-author-and-writer/290947497649847

and on my website:

www.debbie@debbiemartin.co.uk

where you’ll find lots more to read and information when my books are going to be published.

Debbie Martin

It’s all in the mind …
May 31, 2012

Sometimes we’re not sure what we believe. We hear so many people’s different opinions and so many views on what life is all about, it’s difficult to decide for ourselves. We just know what is right and what is wrong with human behavior – and that is a good enough start for me. Here’s a little story all about what is wright and wrong from several viewpoints, and how they tackle it …

It’s all in the mind

The cloud of dust above the city eddied and gathered density. God was not pleased with Gabriel. ‘Time to kick some ass’, he thought.

***

Jed Jenkins stretched his legs out in front of him and lit another joint. The Saturday afternoon game was nearing its conclusion and his team was losing as usual. His temper was bad. He scowled at the TV and swilled the dregs of his can round before tipping it into his mouth. ‘Stupid sods’ he shouted at the TV. ‘You’re feckin’ useless!’ The empty can followed the abuse, hurled angrily at the TV screen. In reply the TV flicked off, refusing to respond any more, like one of those signs in the doctor’s waiting rooms, ‘…we’re not here to take abuse so anyone doing so will be removed.’

‘Shit!’ He fumed. Now the sodding TV didn’t work either. He hauled himself out of the chair, and stomped out the kitchen, looking for a replacement for his displeasure. He didn’t have to look far. Sally was at the sink, washing the lunch dishes. She half turned as she heard him approach, and quickly turned back to her chores, knowing what would come next if she came under scrutiny. It made no difference; she’d drawn his attention already.

‘What’s the matter? Got a problem? Cat got your tongue?’ He grabbed a handful of her hair, until now loosely tied in a ponytail behind her head, and twisted it in a circular motion, forcing her head to twist with it if she didn’t want clumps of hair to be pulled out.

‘Ahh,’ she moaned. It just made him twist harder.

‘Please don’t, Jed, please – you’re hurting me.’

He loosened his grip, and pulled her around to face him, ‘aw, I wouldn’t want to hurt you, pussy cat,’ he said smoothly, smiling lopsidedly at her. Still holding her by the ponytail, he slid one grimy finger round the curve of her cheek, ending up on her slightly trembling lip. Her mouth turned down miserably at the sides, and fear pulled her full lips tight, but as his finger lingered, she relaxed slightly. Sex, she thought. If he wants sex, that will be alright. The finger stayed poised on her lips, and the lopsided smile broke into a grin, showing broken and cracked teeth with nicotine stains.

‘Huh,’ he laughed like a cough. He slid the finger across her lips and then rammed it so hard up her left nostril that the nail sliced into the delicate inner skin, bursting it. Sally winced and expelled another breathy high-pitched ‘ahh’ of pain. Blood trickled out of her nostril and over her lip. He let her go, pushing her away from him so hard she slammed the small of her back against the edge of the sink and her body folded in half. She knew what was coming now. She just had to close her mind to the physical pain and hope he wouldn’t go so far he killed her this time. She briefly hoped Darren wouldn’t come home in the middle of it then the rain of blows robbed her of consciousness.

Darren hid behind the allotment sheds. He was scared to go home. He’d got to the back door just in time to hear the first ‘ahh’ of Sally’s pain. It stopped him short. He wavered for a few excruciating seconds of indecision before backing away until he reached the yard gate and then turned and ran like hell was after him, not stopping until he’d reached this place of relative safety. He didn’t want to think what was going on in that kitchen. But he knew when he finally steeled himself to go home, he’d find his mum, beaten and bruised, mouth split, eyes blackened and swollen; like a deformed monster from a horror film, edging her way slowly round the house, trying to stay upright despite the agony of her pulped body. He shook his head in futile rage and buried his head in his hands, weeping hot bitter tears. At fourteen he was on the edge of manhood, but his slender body wasn’t sturdy or hardened enough yet to stand up to the rough brawn and vicious aggression of Jed.  Year after year he’d watched his mother beaten, bruised, and now he was starting to understand  the sounds and smells of sex, he also suspected, abused and raped – and he stood by and let it happen. He hated himself almost as much as he hated Jed.

Once the first flush of frustration subsided, he wiped the tears away from his face. He sat, squatting on his heels, back balanced against the rough timbering of the shed. It was Mr Hughes shed, he knew that, despite not having really looked where he’d run to. He knew it was Mr Hughes’ shed because it was painted green and Mr Hughes had this thing about green and trying to make this tiny bit of soil and plant life in the middle of the urban jungle look like being in the country. ‘Stupid bugger’ he said, and took a deep breath in, expanding his chest and squaring his shoulders.  He knew he was going to have to face it somehow. His heart thumped and he felt sick. He closed his eyes, as if trying to blot out the picture of what his mother would look like when he got home.  He couldn’t do it. By closing his eyes he gave himself a blank canvas to paint the picture on. It was red and distorted, not like his mother at all, but yet underneath, there was something …

This time he didn’t blot out the picture. He let it come, almost willing it to be the most terrible, the most battered he’d ever seen her. His throat constricted. His mum; his kind, lovely mum. This shouldn’t happen to her. It shouldn’t…

More to follow next week …

Follow me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Debbie-Martin-author-and-writer/290947497649847

and on my website:

www.debbie@debbiemartin.co.uk

where you’ll find lots more to read and information when my books are published.

Debbie Martin