Beyond the page – Chapter 3 starts here …
June 28, 2012

Chapter 3 starts Mary’s journey proper as she opens the book again…

 

Chapter 3

Without even realising it, exhaustion had overcome her and she had fallen asleep on the chair. Disturbing images of her father sobbing nagged in her head as she drifted, and then diffused into her dreams. Muddled scenes of men and women in shadowy and indistinct conflict flicked in front of her, one after another like the pictures in an old cinemascope. Silhouettes, posed mannequins in a staged set, one begging for – what? She didn’t know: another raising an arm – to hit or hold? A woman flinching as she anticipated a blow: and yet one more, that turned and smiled at her, swiftly turning away again, knife raised high to plunge. . . She woke with a jolt. The woman’s face was hers.      The book was in her lap again. She picked it up and rolled it over in her hands.

‘What is happening to me?’ She said it to the book itself, although she knew it was just an inanimate object, but yet it seemed to be inextricably linked to the odd experiences and memories that were swamping her, one after another. She leaned back against the chair again. It was still rough and uncompromising against her back.

‘This has got to go!’ Was she saying it to the book or the chair, she wondered ruefully. Both disturbed her in different ways – the chair because of its associations with mother – the book because, well, why the book? She fingered the scrollwork on its cover. It was fine filigree, and beautiful – she hadn’t noticed that until now. Her fingers lingered on its smooth leather. It was softer than the leather usually used to bind books. It had the softness of chamois, yet the depth of dark brown velvet with its plush pile. It fitted snugly into her hand as if it was melding with her. She realised that the ‘got to go’ was definitely for the chair. It was awful, and she wondered why she’d not got rid of it – got rid of the whole suite that actually she saw now she’d always hated – when mother had died. It rubbed against her shoulder blades and she flexed them, stretching and arching her neck to tease out the stiffness in it that sitting so upright in the chair caused. In doing so she looked directly at the door again and the thought of her sad-faced father standing hesitantly in it all those years ago upset her. What on earth had been going on between him and mother to have caused such a rift? Her imagination started to range through different scenarios – distrust, unfaithfulness, disillusionment – anger, yes anger because mother had been so brutal with him. Why was she so angry with him?

Her palm prickled and she realised she was clutching the book hard in her right hand, squeezing at it so the binding stuck to her. The continuing sense of confusion made her head feel woolly. Too many emotions were flitting through her and she felt unsteady, even though seated. The book, what was it about it? Automaton like, she flicked it open, letting it settle randomly at the start of another chapter. Chapter 9: ‘In the belly of the whale’.  Mary re-read the title and then let her eyes get drawn into the first line of the chapter…

‘. . . 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 . . .’

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

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Beyond the page…
June 21, 2012

and so it continues…

There was nothing near her feet – it must have fallen when she dropped the book. It wasn’t obvious on the floor close by either so she stood up and laid the book on the seat of the chair and scrabbled around carefully under it, reaching gingerly as far as she could reach. She felt nothing as far as her fingers could reach. The knife must had bounced underneath the chair, just out of her reach. She moved the chair completely to one side, sweating slightly with the exertion of pushing it because it was old and heavy – solid oak and with threadbare tapestried upholstery. The floor under the chair was bare apart from a thin layer of dust and crumbs from years of the hoover only reaching to the front of the chair, and no further.  There was still no knife to be seen. She was puzzled. It must have slipped down the side of the seat cushion then.

Playing at the back of her mind now was the fear that there was a murder weapon here, in her home – one it seemed she’d used – or had she? It was like a dream, or was it real? Whatever it was, it had been there and she’d been grasping it and it had been sticky with a dead mans’ blood and she had to find it. Her heart thumped uncomfortably in her chest and she felt the trembling rising in her again. She was afraid now. After half an hour of searching everywhere she could think of, in and around the chair, sliding her fingers carefully down the crevices in the upholstery and grimacing with disgust at the crumbs and sticky patches she encountered – this had been the chair mother had huddled in during her later years, and the accumulation of spilt meals and drinks probably accounted for the unpleasant detritus that Mary found – she admitted defeat. She plonked back into the chair and sat confused and uncertain what to do next.

It had felt so real, yet had she actually been the person acting out the drama, or had she imagined it all? Now the events that had unfolded were becoming a blur for her, just leaving the unsettling emotions she’d experienced buzzing at her like angry bees. She couldn’t even be sure of the sequence of events now – maybe there hadn’t been a knife, or had there? Had she stabbed – no, the woman – Belle –the man, or had she, or had it not happened at all? The more she tried to rationalise and document the events in her head, the more unclear they became, until eventually she wasn’t sure whether any of it had happened at all. She sunk into the chair and settled against the hard, high back of it. She was conscious of its rigidity and it was uncomfortable. Odd how, in all the years she’d sat in this chair, slyly when her mother was alive because it had always been mothers chair, and then by right when mother had died, almost like slipping into her mothers’ place without noticing, she’d never remarked on how uncomfortable it was. Now it felt hard and uncompromising against her shoulders and she shifted against it, wondering whether to move – but to where? The other chair in the room was not only similar, but also placed in the more drafty position – mother had always insisted on being out of all drafts. The settee – well that was just part of the set, and lower backed so it was not only hard and lumpy with its’ worn stuffing, but also left your head swaying around unsupported on a tired neck when you just wanted to relax. An odd thought strayed through her mind,

‘why don’t you get something much more comfortable then? She can’t stop you now…’

And she found herself agreeing with it – then pulling herself up short – now she was talking to herself too! Thinking about mother slipped her almost seamlessly into childhood memories – mother standing over her as she ate the ‘greens’ she so hated, mother brushing her hair hard with the stiff bristled brush so her scalp tingled, mother sitting prim and tight lipped on the edge of the same chair as father walked out of the door…

Now she was really shocked. When had father walked out of the door? Father – father? She couldn’t even remember him. He had died when she was very small and it had always been mother and her, in their routine. Get up, scrub her face with icy cold water because mother said you didn’t need hot water to wash in, clean her teeth, pull on her pinafore and blouse, dark wool tights – even in summer, and pull her hair neat and straight with the small white clip in one side – the only token gesture to femininity that mother had allowed.

She’d followed that routine into her teens, only varying slightly when going to work, to drop the pinafore and replace it with the skirt and blouse or skirt and jumper mother had applauded as looking ‘business-like’. Never walk around bare foot, or just in stockings – ‘you’ll catch your death’ – and everything had its place. Now father’s face was distinctly out of place, but she could picture him as clearly as if he was standing in front of her and she was mother perched on the edge of the chair as he was just walking out of the door, casting a pleading glance back at her.

Mary dredged her memories for an explanation – when was she remembering him leaving the home? Why? How old was she? Why did he look so sad? The droop of his full moustache added to the miserable expression, but his eyes were sad too, looking wistfully at…at her, no, at me – he was looking at me, not mother!   But I am mother – aren’t I? Mary concentrated hard, drawing the memory of the man back into the room, and there he was – almost as real as Belle had been.

‘You can go, I don’t want you here.’

‘What are you talking about?’

‘I want you to go, Frank. I don’t want you here anymore.’

‘Are you crazy, woman? I’m your husband.’

‘Maybe, but that doesn’t mean I have to have you here – sweating and upsetting my nice clean home, wanting to paw me in bed, expecting me to cook and clean for you. I hate you – I hate all you men. You disgust me, and I don’t want Mary warped by you either. ‘

‘Warped by me? What have I done? I am her father – I haven’t done anything wrong at all. I work all day at the bakery, I come home tired and all I want is a good hot meal and some affection from the woman who calls herself my wife and I’m told I’m a disgusting pig and I ‘paw’ you – I ‘paw’ you! You’re my wife and I’ve always shown you the utmost respect.’

‘Respect – pah! It’s no respect to have to do what a man wants me to. If you don’t go I’ll say you tried to paw Mary too and then they’ll make you go.’

‘Etta, Etta – what is wrong with you? Why this hatred of me – what have I done wrong? I don’t understand?

‘I don’t want a man here – any man here. I want you to go and I shall make you go.’

‘Etta…’ his face was pinched with surprise and pain. I knew from his slack stance that he was amazed and confused by mother. I looked from his face to mother’s.

‘Alright, you can stay here but I won’t have you anywhere near me and you must stay away from Mary. You can sleep in the spare room. I will leave you a meal for when you get in, but I don’t want to spend any of my time with you. If you don’t abide by my rules I’ll say you’ve touched Mary.’ She emphasised the word ‘touched’ but as Mary noticed it, she also realised the words were almost coming from her, and she was the icy cold, cruel woman damning the sad man lingering uncertainly at the door to a life of misery here or rejection away from them.

‘I’m sorry, Etta, I can’t live like that.’

‘You always were weak, Frank.’

‘Not weak, Etta, but that is no life – nor is it for the child.’

‘The child will do what I tell her to. So will you.’ The pronunciation was chilling, because I could see in father’s face that he realised he had no choice but to accept it. He was banished – however or whatever form it took – he was banished. He repeated his sad plea,

‘Etta, I can’t live like that – and why should Mary not have her father here? What have I done wrong – I don’t understand why you hate me so.’

‘I don’t want you here.’ The tone was implacable.

‘And what will you live on?’

‘You will send me some money every month.’ The tone was flat but dictatory.

‘I will… why would I do that when you banish me like this?’ It was the first time Father’s tone had grown harsh.

‘Because if you don’t I will tell Mary you are a monster and I will tell everyone else you touched her.’

Father just stood at the door, half in, half out of the room, just as he was in our lives. He was expressionless for a moment and then he sobbed. His face crumpled and he sobbed. Mary had never seen or heard a man cry before.

 

More to follow in chpater 3 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

Marys story continues – Beyond the page …
June 14, 2012

Now it all gets a little more curious as Marys’ little story turns into a big one. Now I’ve written the first bit but eventually I’m going to ask for your assistance as you decide what might happen to Mary as her story unfolds – and I will write it!

Here’s how her story continues into Chapter 2 …

Chapter 2: Mary

The tumult of emotions still resonated within her – emotions she’d never even imagined before; the yearning of unrequited love twisted her heart uncomfortably and yet the humiliation made her shrivel  until the throb of revenge blended all the emotions into that one action –t he thrust of the knife. That had felt so good: so satisfying even as paradoxically she’d simultaneously felt the thrust of the bitter-sweet sadness of loss cut into her soul.

Nobody asked Mary questions about herself. They assumed she’d have nothing much to add to their experiences. Mary: plain, thirty-two and looking more like fifty-two. Life was a routine for Mary -it had been from the very first moments she could remember.  Mother’s routine then, but mother’s routine had become her routine as the years revolving round her mother had ingrained it in her too.

Mary stayed in her chair for a while, unsteady from the aftershocks of the first-time emotions.  Her world was unsettled. The surge of anger and the throb of passion had no place in the plod of her routine. Her stomach still churned from the anxious fear they’d instilled in her. She sat silently and still, waiting for the rolling waves in her stomach to settle, but they didn’t, and out of seemingly nowhere – just like the scene from the book had become solid around her, the unease turned dramatically into nausea, and she rushed to the bathroom, flinging the door wide as she made for the toilet, grabbing it’s rolled edge and hanging over the bowl, retching.

It reminded her of childhood tummy upsets. She’d always hated the thought of hanging her head over the toilet bowl when she felt sick as a child. Mother had issued dire warnings about touching toilet seats,

‘…covered in germs and they’ll get all over you…’ in that prim, I told you so voice that ordered Mary’s life.

She’d imagined the little army of germs mother said lived in toilets and on toilet seats – that was why you never touched them –  stomping up the incline of the bowl and swarming all over her head and face  and hands as she gripped the bowl and she was in turn gripped with the overpowering heaving of vomiting. Even as the rhythmic convulsions of her stomach resulted in of her stomach spewing  its’ contents out of her mouth, burning the back of her throat and making her eyes and nose run, so she imagined the germ army swarming over her microscopically – like a thin layer of iron filings bristling all over a magnet. After she’d been sick like that she’d always felt she wanted to scrub herself off to try to dislodge the germ fur all over her from the toilet bowl. It was no different this time even though there was no mother there to remind her…

At thirty-two she felt the same as she had at twelve, or even five, four – how young could she remember back to? The heaving sensation settled down and she sat back on her heels, away from the toilet bowl, yet still close enough to revert to hanging over it if the nausea returned. She swallowed hard, trying to soothe the rough soreness of her throat with her saliva, and swill away the acid taste left in her mouth by the vomit. She shivered with distaste but the nausea didn’t seem to be returning so she shakily stood up, flushed the toilet and held her hands under the running water from the hot tap. She squirted several sprays of liquid soap onto them and scrubbed, lathering the soap to a foaming froth, before rinsing it away, imagining a layer of germ army funnelling down the plughole, protesting and flailing as they tried to stop themselves being washed away. The incongruous picture she conjured up for herself made her giggle, but then she stifled it in mid-ripple, thinking ‘am I going mad?’  Why was she imagining armies of germs, like she had as a child? More to the point how and why had she imagined being a burlesque dancer stabbing a lover?

Mary carefully dried her hands on the rough white hand towel hanging over the edge of the bath, and cleaned her teeth. She felt better once she’d rinsed the vile after taste of the vomit from her mouth and the fresh spearmint of the toothpaste cleared her palate. She still felt unsteady so she returned to her armchair and sat down, confused and disturbed by what had engulfed her so totally for what seemed like hours, but from the time on the clock and the progress of the early evening shadows, had been no more than thirty minutes or so – only enough time to dive into a chapter in the book but no more.

She picked up the book from where it had tumbled from her lap onto the floor as she’d bolted for the bathroom. It was just as it had been when she’d settled it into the hollow of her lap and flipped the pages open – old worn leather, rough gilt edged pages, with a pattern chased just lightly into its’ leather binding. Then she remembered the knife – where was the knife that she’d been clutching? A tremor of fear fluttered through her chest – the knife that had pierced the man’s heart, and was smeared with his blood, deep red and sticky.

More next week – will she find the knife, do you think?

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

It’s all in the mind – part 2
June 7, 2012

…and it concludes …

‘This really isn’t good enough, Gabe.’

Gabriel shifted in his plush office chair. ‘What isn’t good enough ?’ he didn’t add ‘God’ at the end of the sentence although he supposed he should, but it really was a nonsense, the way he went on about sorting out the Middle Eastern crisis, as if he was, well, ‘God’.

‘All this…’ God gestured to the folder spread out across the desk. The photos of Sally’s beaten and blackened face fanned out where the paper clip holding them to the written documents had slid aside.

‘This, Gabe. This.’

Gabriel shrugged his elegantly suited shoulders, feeling slightly uncomfortable now he looked at the dossier.

‘Well I know it’s not the best of situations,’ he agreed, ‘but there are some situations you just can’t change without an outside influence.’

‘Well bring in the outside influence!’

‘But it’s against our principles,’ he exclaimed, ‘you know that. A change of heart arising from self-awareness – yes. But not an external influence.’

‘But maybe the external influence is exactly what brings about the self-awareness and change of heart? Are you going to do something about it or am I?’

‘Well if you can tear yourself away from the Middle Eastern crisis for long enough, and think you can do better, why don’t you?’ retorted Gabriel. ’ But it’s all in the mind – remember…’ He sneered and sat back, raising his eyebrows slightly questioningly at God and smiled. ‘And surely the Middle East crisis is more crucial than these two quite unimportant little drama’s…’

God picked up the folder. ‘I think we’ll see what I can do.’ he said decisively, ‘and you’ll owe me several thousand years of apologies if I do it without any ‘external forces’, as you put it, right?’

Gabriel smiled a smile which said ‘yeah, right!’

God sat down opposite Gabriel, and studied him. ‘We have an internal force to work with here already and he just needs to believe in himself to create the will to change. In fact I think it’s happening already.’

***

Darren breathed out. The sorrow for her pain slowly transformed into anger once more; and then a steady determination that this wasn’t ever going to happen again. He breathed in deeply and then out slowly, letting the breath whistle out between his pursed lips. He didn’t know how or why, but he knew this was the last time. Something felt different inside him. He felt different. Bigger; stronger; bolder. A presence to be reckoned with.

He stood up straight and walked firmly back home.

Walking through the back door straight into the devastation that was the kitchen, he saw saucepans and plates scattered all across the floor, some of the plates broken. There was a pool of blood near the sink and smeared bloodied hand prints along the wall leading away from it and on the edge of the kitchen worktop. There was no sign of his mother, but as he pushed the lounge door ajar, he could see Jed slumped in the armchair, head thrown back, snoring, a pile of emptied lager cans and an ashtray full of the butt ends of joints on the floor near him. Darren turned back to the kitchen and surveyed the scene. He was disgusted and trembling with rage at what he imagined must have happened to his mother. A rolling pin was balanced half on, half off the kitchen table. It had a bloodied end so he guessed it must have been used in the attack. He picked up the non-bloodied end. It would do. He would do this quickly first and then find his mother and tend to her.

He wiped the blood from the rolling pin across his cheeks and forehead, like war paint, drew himself up to his full height and ran into the lounge letting out a series of blood curdling yowls. Jed woke from his stupor but the drug induced haze left him confused. Coming at him in ear splitting rage was Sally – or so he thought – because masked by the blood-paint, his mother’s features showed through his genes, and Darren looked to Jed exactly like she would if she had been an avenging angel straight from hell itself. Darren launched himself at Jed, rolling pin swung high, roaring with anger and crashed it down on his knee caps, shattering both of them and popping them out of their casings. Jed’s legs skittered uselessly against the seat of the chair and he cowered in terror. The lingering combined effect of drugs and alcohol made Darren seem huge and the noise roared around him like a demon.

‘Never touch her again or I’ll destroy you next time.’

‘Don’t hit me, don’t hit me…’ like a whimpering child, Jed cowered in the chair, trembling, and a dark stain crept around his crotch as his control failed and he urinated.

The bully was gone, replaced with a pathetic excuse for a man. Darren stepped back, realising he needn’t become the bully himself now. He threw the rolling pin down and ran from the room, calling ‘mam, mam, where are you. I’m here.’

A small voice replied, ‘Darr, I’m here, help me…’

He found her in the hall, a small pile of bones and bloodied rags on the floor in the corner. He cradled her until the ambulance came and it took both her and Jed to hospital, Jed pinned in the corner, flinching at Darrens’ slightest move in his direction. She would be alright, they said, don’t worry. She would be alright in time.

***

‘What I fail to see,’ continued Gabriel, with polite sarcasm, ‘is exactly how what you’ve spent the last day doing has contributed to world peace?’

‘It’s the little things, Gabe,’ God said patiently. In his mind’s eye he watched Jed think about cuffing Darren and blacking Sally’s eye, but just as quickly stop himself as he also recalled the avenging hulk that had stood over him –seemingly in Darren’s body, with Darren’s voice. Sally sung softly to herself as she did the dishes out the kitchen. Somewhere soon another Mary would find her Joe – God reflected that the name Joseph was perhaps not modern enough now for the modern idiom, although the human race did have this disconcerting capacity for bringing things back into fashion from nowhere – and then all hell really would break loose. Humankind would need to understand why it was the little things that mattered to deal with that.

‘Hmm, well it’s been interesting,’ Gabriel said with an unconvinced expression. ‘And by the way, would you please stop referring to me as Gabe and yourself as God. We’re not.’

They walked under the archway which led out from the cloistered building. It proclaimed ‘It’s all in the mind. What you think, you are’ on its logo. God smiled at Gabriel’s exasperated expression. He watched him walk briskly away, blissfully unaware of the first sprouting of flight feathers showing through the thin material of his shirt. He wondered idly if he’d have time for a pint before tackling that Middle East problem again.

More stories 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

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

A sweet little tale – ‘The shed’
May 24, 2012

The shed

I woke with a jolt from the dream about the shed. I can describe it from memory as clearly now, at well over 80, nearly blind and stuck in this chair in the drawing room, as I could at 18. The foliage around it was lush and verdant, spilling over the doorway and down the timber walls; spreading like a rampant green carpet around its base. His chair was the bright red one. The kitchen chair painted shiny red like a post box. Mine was the softer blue cane armchair – he always said ‘softer chair for my soft sweet lady.’

Inside the shed is the mattress, taking over the whole of the shed floor, spread with a pink and blue check sheet and an old cream horsehair blanket on the top. The horsehair scratched my back and legs as I lay on it, but I didn’t care.

I feel warm and happy and YOUNG as I remember those times we spent there. Young – and vibrant and rebellious; making my own choices for once.  Mother disapproved of Harry – of course she would – the gardeners son; ‘but he’s just a servant’ she’d spat at me once when I’d tried to defend him against a charge of letting her prize rose bush wither in the frost, without letting her see how much my emotions were engaged in the defence too. If Mother had ever known we were there, curled together, warm, drunk with love, she’d have been apoplectic with rage – speechless for once! That made me laugh – it would have been a bubbling girlish giggle then, now it was the rasping hiccup of a cackle and I suddenly felt sad I had come to this.

I looked out of the window towards the shed again and felt its proximity, even though it was barely visible to me. It was lonely sitting here, alone. The sadness lingered around me. There was no mother to chide me now. No giggling little sisters to pry and annoy me as I tried to slip surreptitiously away to my trysts with Harry. No ramrod stiff father, sporting the luxuriant moustaches he was so proud of, collar turned over so sharply at the corners, I wondered sometimes that it didn’t cut into the skin on his neck. And then, as my mind wandered on from my childhood and teens, into my twenties, no harum-scarum children of my own racing around the house, playing hide and seek and snuggling Fanny, our cat, in baby clothes and pushing her around the garden like their own baby.

2012 was a far cry from the year I was born. The world was a strange place to me now, and I a stranger in it. If I could just get to the shed, maybe I would be near Harry again, and his nearness would make me feel less of a stranger here. Maybe the years would melt away and all the dreams and possibilities we’d hoped for then would not be so long gone and far away. I would no longer be an old, blind woman, sitting solitarily in an empty room.

I struggled to my feet, and shuffled awkwardly out of the room and into the hallway, to the back door. The garden was just a fresh green blur to me but I knew if I walked straight ahead, the shed stood sturdily in front of me, like Harry had all those years ago. I reached the edge of its shingled base. The ivy still crept off the now cracked and peeling timbering of its walls, and right in front of me – no further than a fingertip away, a heart beat’s distance, would be the red chair. Harrys’ red chair – and Harrys’ strong reassuring frame perched on it, turning as I approached,

‘Harry, oh Harry – how did you get here, I thought it all went such a long time ago…’

The firm deep voice, answered me gently,

‘What are you doing?’ You’ll trip and fall, and then everyone will be cross with me! Come on let me take you back in. I was just sitting out here having a crafty read of the newspaper …’

The strong, warm hand held mine, guiding me kindly back to the house.

‘Were you dreaming again?’

Of course, that was it – I’d been dreaming. We reached the back door and another voice called to me, similar, but older, and frailer.

‘Beth, Beth, my soft sweet lady – are you alright?’

Harry, my Harry; I’d married him after all, you see, despite mother and father’s disapproval. The war had changed so much. My beloved old Harry; and my beloved young Harry too – my grandson.

Suddenly I was no longer alone or old, or sad.

‘Just a silly dream, ‘I said, as I settled back in the softer blue cane armchair and watched Harry ease himself onto the bright red one. ‘This is the real thing.’

More stories to follow next week …

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Debbie Martin