Monthly Archives: March 2013

UP

Dale was sitting at the table sobbing. He had been there for the last few minutes and was clearly heartbroken. Watching from the other side of the playground his form-teacher was deeply moved by his plight. All morning he had been distracted and hadn’t taken part in the class with his usual enthusiasm.   

Mrs Allum couldn’t bear to watch a moment longer. She told Miss Wingate, her teaching assistant, to keep an eye on things for a moment. Keeping one eye on the other children as they played on the various things in the playground, or chased each other she crossed the yard and stood be Dale for a second before putting her hand gently on his shoulder. 

Dale stopped his sobbing suddenly and looked round. It was almost as if he had had no sense of anyone else being there before Mrs Allum touched him. His eyes were red-rimmed and his nose was running slightly. Pulling a tissue out from her sleeve Mrs Allum handed it to Dale with a nod and an empathic smile. 

“What’s wrong, Dale?” she asked him. “All morning you’ve been looking out the window and haven’t taken any notice of the class. Is there something wrong at home?” Although she knew she shouldn’t be prying or putting words into his mouth she had to get to the bottom of what was upsetting Dale so much.

“It’s nothing,” Dale said defensively.

“Nothing doesn’t make anyone cry,” Mrs Allum told him gently. 

“No, well, I er, I..er mean it’s nothing you can help with.” Dale replied sadly.

“Haven’t you heard that a problem shared is a problem halved?” Mrs Allum sat on the wall and tapped the space beside her indicating Dale should sit beside her. At the same time she checked that Miss Wingate was still keeping an eye on the other children as they played.

Reluctantly dale sat beside Mrs Allum  It was clear he was waiting for a scolding, or worse. “Can I offer you a cuddle?” Mrs Allum asked. She knew she was overstepping the guidelines here, but Dale was so distressed and needed help. 

“I guess,” Dale said as he moved in slightly closer.

“So, are you going to tell me what’s wrong? And maybe I can help you.” Mrs Allum gently put her arm over Dale’s shoulder.

I can’t tell anyone,” Dale confessed.

Mrs Allum’s radar was on full alert now. She had heard so many horrible stories about what some children suffered at home. She was almost scared of what she might hear.

“My mum said..:” Dale started, then thought better of it. He remained silent for a while.

“You can tell me, Dale.No matter what it is you can tell me,” Mrs Allum was hoping that she was sounding the right note to encourage Dale to open up. She was aware she should have alerted the Head by now, but didn’t want to break the spell she felt she had woven to make Dale feel safe enough to talk.

“We’ve got to give her up, up, up…” he started sobbing again. 

“I’m sorry Dale, I don’t understand.” Mrs dale’s face showed the confusion she was feeling.

“Denny. Denny, we’ve got to give her up,” Dale sobbed.

“Ah,” Mrs Allum understood now. Denny was the Blunt family dog.

“Tell me more, Dale, perhaps I can help,” Mrs Allum, being an animal lover was all ears.

“My mum said we can’t afford to keep her. She only gets the dole, and since my dad buggered off she can’t feed us all and Denny.” 

Mrs Allum ignored Denny’s bad language and suggested that she speak to his mum and tell her that he was so upset about having to give up his dog. 

“She’ll be really angry with me for telling you,” Dale looked concerned. “Any way, she’s probably done it by now. She was going to take her a long way away, tie her up and leave her”

Mrs Allums’ heart leapt into her mouth as she felt her blood pressure rise along with the anger she felt. “She’s going to do what?” she asked.

Dale repeated his story about his mum’s plans for their dog, then started sobbing all over again.

“Dale she can’t do that. I am definitely going to help you, and one way or another we’re going to keep Denny.”

As the school bell rang Mrs Allum encouraged Dale back into class. After setting the task for the afternoon she left the class in the care of Miss Wingate. Her first stop on leaving the classroom was to speak to Shelly, the school secretary. She managed to get Mrs Blunt’s home and mobile numbers and set off for the teachers’ room. 

There was no answer on the home phone so Mrs Allum called the mobile number. After a few moments Mrs Blunt answered. As diplomatically as possible Mrs Allum explained what had happened and asked if the situation as Dale had told it was correct.

Mrs Blunt Was shocked that Dale had been so upset and sheepishly admitted that there wasn’t enough money to keep the dog, and that she did intend to give her up, but she said that she would not just leave her in the street. She intended to drop her off at an animal charity at the weekend.

Hearing the family’s plight Mrs Allum explained her situation. She had been a widow for some years now and would welcome the companionship of a dog. She had met Denny on several occasions when Dale had been out walking her. She said that perhaps she could give Denny a new home, and with Dale’s help with the walking, everyone could be happy. 

Mrs Blunt was unsure of what to say, and asked to discuss it with Dale when he got home. Mrs Allum agreed that would be a good idea but as she hung up the phone she felt her life was about to change, and that Dale wouldn’t have to completely give up his beloved dog after all. 

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WHAT YOU DO FOR FUN

‘What you do for fun? Now that’s what really tells me more about you.’ Angela typed the words onto the screen. She had been in the new chat room she had found for the last forty five minutes or so and had for the last ten of those been chatting with a guy who simply called himself ‘Albie’. From the profile photo he had posted she could see that he was more or less her type, if she really had one. He had a thick  head of dark, buzz-cut hair, and an enticing stubble-covered chin. In the photo he was smiling slightly, which for Angela was a huge encouragement.

‘Interesting question’ Albie typed back. ‘I’m wondering just where you want this conversation to go now?’

‘Wherever you want’ Angela clicked the keys quickly.

‘I enjoy reading, perticularly Stephen King, and eating out. How’s that for starters`’ Albie started the ball rolling. ‘Now your turn…’

‘OK’ thought Angela, how far do I go with this. She was feeling a little more than just flirtatious. It had been an age since she had had a real boyfriend, well since Mike had left her over nine months ago, and she was wanting to scratch the itch that had been driving her wild for some time now. Alone she couldn’t quite manage that. ‘I too like reading, but am more of a Patricia Cornwell girl. I did enjoy the recent ‘Shades of Grey’ books too. I also like to eat out.  Sounds like we could be made for each other.’ she finished typing and clicked ‘send’.

‘If I was at all paranoid I’d think you had just copied my replies.’ came back the reply from Albie. ‘How about adding a little something? Something just for me?’

‘OK’ typed Angela ‘I enjoy nights in with the right man, especially if he knows how to keep me happy.’ As she hit the send button she felt a thrill run through her body. Perhaps this time would be better.

‘Now that sounds more interesting.’ Albie’s reply was quick.

Angela waited a moment, fingers poised over the keys. She was wondering if he was going to write some more. The little icon in the top right hand corner of the screen indicated that he was typing, but she never really trusted that.

All of a sudden the screen scrolled up a little more. So Albie had been typing after all. ‘I am a man that knows how to keep women happy,’ he began, adding a smiley icon, which Angela thought was little naff. ‘I have patience yet am rash, I have stamina and hold out till last, I enjoy feasting and bring more than enough to any feast.’

Angela laughed at Albie’s language, but at the same time was intrigued, and more than  a little interested. ‘Do you have any photographic evidence for that last comment?’ she asked. As she typed the last she felt deliciously naughty.

All of a sudden the computer pinged as a notification appeared on the screen. Albie had sent her an image file. Angela wasn’t sure how to proceed now. She knew how to open the file, but didn’t know if she really wanted to. She wasn’t sure what it might contain. She wanted to see better what Albie looked like, but wasn’t sure she was ready for a full revelation.  Finally deciding that it was she that had started this train of thought she decided to hit the ‘open’ icon.

What she saw took her breath away.  It wasn’t quite what she had expected, but for all intents and purposes it looked like things were on the up for her.

 

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ABOUT YOU

Today’s story  involves some of the main characters from my first two novels -and may contain inadvertent spoilers …..

Winner and Take Two are both available at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/HouseofTulstig

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“‘Boyd’s new West End extravaganza, which opened last night, is a combined triumph of musicality and reality,’ How’s that for starters?” Joey was thrilled his friends’ new show was getting good reviews. “And here this bit’s about you ‘Gisela Diaz-Hernandez is captivating as the heroine of the piece, Pocahontas. Her portrayal of the doomed heroine is at times strident, showing an intense strength of character and ability to act and sing. The role is the perfect vehicle for the Latin beauty’s skills’. Could you want better?”

“Oh, Joey, I am on the moon,” Gisela laughed and turned slightly to grab the hand of her leading man. “And Samuel, what does it say about you. What does it say about him Joey?”

“Yeah, man, come on give up the review. Tell us how wonderful he thinks I am too.” Samuel punched Joey on the arm encouraging him to finish off reading the review of the première performance.

“mm, de, de, de, about you Mr Laurent, de, de.. ah here we are.. ‘The role of John Rolfe is interestingly portrayed by Samuel Laurent, the most wooden actor and out of tune singer I have seen or heard for an age’…”

The dressing room was suddenly filled with an uncomfortable silence, until Joey could contain himself no longer and burst out laughing. “Gotyer!”

“Oh Joey, that was too mean. Poor Samuel.” Gisela reprimanded her friend. “Sometimes your English senses of humours doesn’t amuse me.”

“Yes Cubbs, It was a bit mean. Had I not already read the review a moment ago I’d have believed you too,” Victor added. “But it was great to see your face just then, Samuel;”  Victor raised his glass to Samuel.

“OK, yup you got us, so what does it really say?” Samuel asked taking a gulp from his glass of champagne.

“‘The role of John Rolfe is interestingly given to Samuel Laurent, who manages to bring the character out from under Pocahontas’s shadow. His forceful and resonant voice fills the theatre with a  realness that is almost touchable.’ … Better now?” Joey passed the paper to Gisela.

“What about the rest of them?” Gisela asked pointing at the other papers.

“All much of a muchness. Everyone loves the show, and everyone loves you two:” Victor told her as he passed the rest of the papers to her.”From Pop Sensation to Theatre Diva loved by the whole country.”

“You’ll have to cut out these reviews and save them for your children and grandchildren,” Joey suggested.

“They’ll be able to check all that digitally by then,” Samuel said “Paper will be a thing  of the past.”

“But Samuel, I will like to save them for the day we might have children.” Gisela suddenly looked away having decided that she may have revealed a little too much.

“We?” Joey asked. “I didn’t miss that you know. You said when ‘we’ have children. Samuel already has a son, are you two planning something?”

“A twist of the tongue, is all, Joey.” Gisela was concentrating on her face in the mirror reapplying her make-up.

“A slip of the tongue, Gisela? You’ve got me wondering now” Joey countered.

“Well wonder all you like, my man. There will be no announcements from us tonight.” Samuel started to change out of his stage clothes into something for a night on the town.

Joey was about to pursue his line of questioning, but noticed Vick was shaking his head, suggesting that it wouldn’t be a good idea. Nodding back, Joey said nothing more  about the complicatedness of Gisela and Samuel’s relationship.

Joey, Gisela and Samuel had met each other when they were contestants, and finalists in the country’s largest singing contest; Pop Sensation. They had become firm friends from day one. During the competition they had shared the highs and lows of becoming household names. After the final show their friendship had developed and deepened making them pretty much inseparable.

Joey’s career had gone from strength to strength, and with Victor at his side he was unstoppable. Gisela and Samuel were happy to have shared much of Joey’s success. When they were offered the lead roles in Sir Brian Boyd’s new show they had grabbed the opportunity with both hands. They were thrilled that the show was a success, and pretty much euphoric that they too had received rave reviews for their first roles on the London stage. They knew that this was just the beginning for them, both in their careers an their personal lives.

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WORKING

“It’s just not working,” Justin said in frustration.

“What do you mean?” Sylvie asked.

“Well, It’s not working,” Justin’s reply was less than helpful.

“Repeating something doesn’t explain it,” Sylvie was losing patience.

“Repeating something doesn’t explain it,” repeated Justin.

“Now we’re being a little childish aren’t we?” Sylvie stated.

“Are we? Maybe one of us is.” Justin was so frustrated and well aware that he was taking it out on the wrong person but he could hardly help himself.

“OK, let’s be a little logical. I know it’s annoying, but if we look at it logically we can sort it out, I’m sure.” Sylvie smiled placatingly.

“Argghhh, what do you think I’ve been trying to do?” Justin was close to losing his temper now.

“Sorry, but I’m only trying to help.” Sylvie looked away and out the window.

“I know you are, but it’s just not working. I’m at a loss. I think I’ve tried everything, but I guess a new pair of eyes might help. Here have a  look.” Justin grabbed Sylvie’s hand and helped her out off the bed and into the chair.

“OK,” Sylvie ruffled Justin’s hair. “Now we’re working.”

“We always work, but this, this is so frustrating. It works so rarely.” Justin smoothed his hair down and looked into Sylvie’s eyes. “You are always so positive. How do you do that?”

“By keeping a positive perspective, I guess,” Sylvie laughed at him.

“And you moan at me about incongruous explanations,” Justin laughed too.

“I guess I meant I don’t know how I keep positive, I just do it.  I’ve done it for so long it’s part of me. I’m a glass more than half full kind of girl”

“You sure are, and I love you for it.”

“I know you do. If you didn’t pull me back to reality now and then I’d be off in the clouds and we’d get nothing done.”

“That’s not very positive is it?” It was Justin’s turn to ruffle hair. “OK logic. Logic will save the day.”

“It will, let’s hold onto that and everything will be fine in no time. So step one….” Sylvie leaned forward and checked the instructions, compared them to what she thought and smiled back at Justin whose eyes were scrunched up with concentration.

“Step one… A very good place to start. Shall I say the words or will you?”  Jason’s eyes were closed. He had no need of the book. He knew the words by heart. They were as good as inscribed across the back of hiss eyelids. With his eyes shut tight he could see them clearly.

“OK. So you say the words and I’ll keep watch.” Sylvie shut her eyes for a second waiting for Justin to begin. Opening her eyes she held herself rigidly in her chair as the energy in the room changed slightly. ‘At last’ she thought ‘it is working, it is going to work. Things are on track’.

—  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  — 

Do you want to know what they’re up to? Leave me a comment or a suggestion and I’ll continue the story…

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CLEAN

“Clean your plate or you can’t get down,” His mum used to say to him. Now it was so deep-set in his psyche that not only did he not find it possible to leave a morsel of food on his own plate, but he also helped clear up any leftovers on others’.

Vincent was now just thirty three years old, and his weight in Stones had overtaken his age by five. He now weighed over thirty eight stone, or as they might say over the pond five hundred and thirty five pounds, or on the continent two hundred and forty three kilos. Whichever way Vincent thought of it he wasn’t happy.

“If only I could just leave a little at the end of every meal,” He bemoaned his lot to his Doctor, “I know I could start losing it. It’s all my mum’s fault for making me feel so guilty about leaving anything.”

“We’ve been through this before, Vince,” Doctor Vazana began, “You need to do a lot more than that. Exercise would be good, but at your current weight exercise is almost impossible, and not snacking between meals would help too. We have a new diet plan here for you to try”

“But I hardly eat anything between meals,” Vincent almost whined, “And I already eat so healthily.”

Doctor Vazana wasn’t convinced, but could do little more to help Vince if he wasn’t prepared to face the hard and fast reality that he would have to cut down severely on his food intake to lose any weight. Vincent’s health was already suffering. He had high blood pressure, poor circulation, and was looking at the onset of type two diabetes.

“Denial,” said Doctor Vazana “And we’re not talking the river in Egypt.” He laughed lightly at his joke, whilst Vincent just looked bemused. “It’s time you faced facts. If you don’t do something soon you’ll not see forty.”

Vincent looked hurt and upset. “It’s just so unfair…” he started, “… some people get to eat anything and not put on weight. But I eat just a  little more than normal and I grow huge. It’s my genes Doc.”

“It may well be hereditary, but you aren’t helping.” Doctor Vazana handed over a new proposed diet to Vincent..”This has to be it, Vince,” He said. “Last chance saloon. To even get any chance at a stomach band, or any kind of intervention you must lose weight!”

Vincent left the Doctor’s surgery feeling fed up and dejected. He jumped, or more properly, lumbered, into the car, and reached across the dashboard to grab himself a Mars bar. That would make him feel better he thought.

When he got home he threw the diet plan on the table without a further glance, then ambled into the kitchen to make himself a quick snack. After all his wife wouldn’t be home for a couple of hours yet to prepare dinner and he didn’t want to starve. ‘I don’t want to fade away completely’ he mumbled to himself with a gentle laugh.

Settling down on the sofa as best he could he grabbed the remote control and pointing it at the television he selected one of his favourite afternoon cookery programmes. Beside him he noticed a magazine that he hadn’t seen before. He picked it up and flipped through the pages as he ate his double-decker cheese and jam sandwiches and family size packet of cheese and onion crisps.

He wasn’t really concentrating on either the television programme, or the magazine, but all of a sudden he noticed an advert for instant  weight-loss. ‘Synchronicity,’ he thought as he read the advert. It sounded perfect. Thee was no mention of exercise, promised you could eat all you want and yet still lose weight. He re-read the advert three or four times, eventually deciding that it would be perfect for him. Leaning over the side of the sofa he grabbed his laptop, fired the machine up, logged on and found the site as listed in the advert.  Within moments he had ordered and paid for his very own ‘sprite’ and was looking forward to starting the new miracle weight loss plan.

Ten days later a package arrived, marked ‘handle with extra care’, and addressed to Vincent. There was no return address and no other markings.  Taking it off the post-woman  he remarked that it was his ticket to weight-loss. The post-woman smiled politely and nodded her head. She had heard Vincent say something similar many times.

Slumping back down on the sofa Vincent turned the packet over and over trying to find the best way to open it. As he did so he was sure he heard a noise inside much like a voice. Digging between the cushions on the sofa Vincent found a knife that was just sharp enough to cut through the tape that was tightly wound round the package. Pulling back the cardboard a strange cage-like structure was revealed. On this a note was attached. The note read:

‘To make best use of this sprite for weight loss be very careful how you address it. Open the inner package with care so as not to damage the sprite. We at Souhait Products wish you luck and success in your timely venture.

“Address it?” Vincent wondered aloud. He pulled the note off and dropped it back into the outer box beside him. Then he carefully opened the inner packaging. Suddenly there was an incredibly bright flash causing Vincent to cover his eyes and dramatically drop the inner packaging. When he opened his eyes again there was a strange little being sitting beside him on the arm of the sofa. “whoa..” Vincent said blinking several times. Had he been able to jump backwards he would have done.

“Whoa,” the strange little creature repeated back at him. “Whoa?”

“You can talk too?” Vincent said. He was beginning to wonder if the cheese, or ham that he had had in his elevenses toasted sandwich had been out of date, or perhaps it was the pickled onions.

“Of course I can talk, what did you think I would do? Did you think I would sit here mute and how then would I be able to help you?” The sprite said.

“You’re here to help me?” Vincent questioned.

“You ordered a sprite to make a wish come true did you not?” the Sprite stated. “I am said sprite, and I shall grant your wish, but only your very first one.”

“What kind of joke is this?” Vincent asked. “Are you some kind of robot toy?”

“Robot Toy, enough with the insults. I am a sprite, a granter of wishes, a fellow of the magical order. Now if you’d like to tell me what you truly want I will get on with conjuring up your desire and be on my way.” The sprite was losing patience with Vincent.

“OK, So I want to be able to eat anything I want and still to lose weight, in fact I want whatever I eat to make me lose weight, No … wait a minute…”Vincent said.

“Too late I’ve heard your wish and it is in order and processed and done.” Having said this there was another flash. Vincent covered his eyes again and when he opened them the sprite had disappeared.

“Another money grabbing, swindling piece of rubbish,” Vincent said to himself. “Now , where’s that magazine? I’m going to get straight back to that company and complain. Try to make a fool out of me will they?” He shouted angrily as he leaned over the side of the sofa to find the magazine. Grabbing a pile of papers he found a half eaten chocolate bar in the middle and instead of looking any further he settled down to eat that instead.

Over the next few days Vincent carried on eating as normal without further thought of the sprite incident. He didn’t dare tell his wife about it, as she would have moaned at him for wasting the little spare money they had, and he didn’t tell anyone else about it because firstly he didn’t see anyone else and secondly he was embarrassed at his gullibility.

By the third day Vincent was sure that his trousers were loser than normal and checking in the mirror was convinced he had lost some weight. By the end of the week he knew he had lost weight, and his wife even congratulated him on keeping to his recent diet regime.

Day by day the pounds were dropping away, yet he could still eat what he liked when he liked. Within a month he had lost so much weight that he decided to go and see the doctor, partly for his regular check up, and partly to show the doctor that he could do it.  Doctor Vazana was duly impressed. IN fact he was quite amazed at how much Vincent had been able to lose in such a short time and insisted on doing some tests. As Vincent left he told him  to keep up the good work.

Within another month Vincent was a shadow of his former self, and yet whatever he ate the weight still fell away. His wife was impressed with his weight loss and told him so. She even showed him how much she liked the now svelte Vincent much more regularly than ever before.

By Christmas Vincent had lost so much weight he was well below the BMI weight for a man of his height. He spent Christmas stuffing himself full of turkey , stuffing , mince pies and all the traditional fare, and still he lost weight.

Early in the New Year Vincent was looking unwell, he had lost so much weight, and no matter what he ate he could not maintain, or regain it. Eating just didn’t work and he was becoming frail and in danger of literally fading away.

On the sixth of January he was tidying the house and in the pile of wrapping paper and boxes he came across the box the sprite had arrived in. He pulled up a chair in the kitchen and re-read the note that was attached to the inner packaging. He wondered if he should have asked differently for his weight-loss wish, but before pondering too much he spotted the turkey remains on the worktop and decided to make himself a couple of sandwiches with cranberry jelly, and a side order of extra-rich-coleslaw.

Halfway through his second turkey sandwich there was another incredibly bright flash as Vincent swallowed a huge mouthful of coleslaw. Accompanying the flash there was also a loud pop. After the flash and popping sound the kitchen was empty. Vincent was no longer on the chair, although his clothes were.  Vincent had finally left the table before his plate was clean!

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A SIGN

The previous episode to this story (EXPLORE) can be found here.

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Having travelled through the television by some strange kind of magic the children were now standing on a beautiful sandy beach looking between their friend, Frankie, who was the same age as them and an older version of the very same person.

“Wow,” said Stan. “This is a wild start to a boring half term holiday.”

“I think I need to explain,” repeated the older Frankie, She started to tell the kids as they settled onto rocks around her. “You are correct, Frankie, this shouldn’t be able to happen. You and I shouldn’t be able to be present in one of the worlds.”

“One of the worlds?” Stan asked.

“Yes, Stan, one of the worlds. There are many worlds or realities that are all happening at the same time, but with slightly different stories in each. In this world, that you have arrived in, I am as you see me now, older. In your world reality Frankie is your friend and still very young.”

“But how.. er, how…” Stan was having trouble trying to get his head round what the older Frankie had just told them.

“It’s a bit like two channels on the TV,” the younger Frankie said, “Like ‘More 4’, and ‘More 4 plus one’.”

“Ah,” Stan commented, pulling a face that suggested he was beginning to understand what was going on.

“Normally two existences of the same being cannot normally appear in the same reality. This is what we call a paradox.” Older Frankie explained.

“A pair of socks?” giggled Jensen, making Stan giggle too. Ruby and young Frankie stared at them with looks on their faces that told them to be quiet.

“A Paradox … ” Older Frankie said “… is something that cannot happen. Yet here we are and it has happened. Two Frankies in one reality. This is not good for any of our realities, but it has been allowed to happen so that I can ask for your help in changing things and re-establishing the true order.”

“Woo, Hoo,” Stan said. “All this sounds like something from a crazy story. It’s like something from Star Trek, or magic. Am I dreaming?”

“I’m sorry Stan it is real, you are not dreaming, and I’m sorry if it is a little difficult to understand.” Older Frankie smiled at him.

“It’s just so odd,” Stan said again.

“I know, but…” Older Frankie started to speak.

“Stan, please let me speak. I am finding it difficult to be with an older version of me, you know. If it’s strange for you just imagine how strange it is for me,” Young Frankie butted in.

“Thank you,” Older Frankie said as she started to explain more. ” Deep down, Frankie, you have knowledge about what’s happening, but I shall tell you all now so everyone knows what’s going on.”

Everyone sat quietly, listening carefully to Older Frankie as she explained about different realities, and how they were being pulled together. They found it all a little difficult to understand but tried as hard as they could. Older Frankie told them that some of Frankie’s  friends ‘The cousins’ had removed something from the reality they were standing in and this had been part of the problem.

“What the cousins did was not wrong, but we did not foresee what might happen. It had to happen, but now we need you to help us return the balance, both here and in other realities. Will you do that for us?” Older Frankie asked.

The friends all looked at each other, all thinking the same thing, that they were being invited to take part in an incredible adventure. After a moment or two they each solemnly said “Yes”.

“Trying to understand everything is giving me  bit of a headache,” Stan said, “But I think it’ll be fun.”

“But what do you want us to do?” Ruby asked.

“I can only tell you about the first thing we need you to do, my sisters will each tell you something else.” Older Frankie looked at each of them in turn.

“Please tell us what you want,” Younger Frankie said , speaking for everyone.

“I need you to find a sign in your world and bring it back to this beach to rebalance this reality.”

“What sign?” Ruby asked

“Frankie knows what the sign looks like, and before your day is out you will be given information about where you can find it.” Older Frankie said. “For the time being that is all I can tell you…. Now I shall return you to your world.”

A few minutes later the friends found themselves sitting back on the sofa in Frankie’s house. They were still watching an episode of the cartoon on  television that they had been watching before whatever had happened had happened.

“Did that…?” Stan started.

“Yes, Stan. It wasn’t a dream.” Frankie told him.

“Are you still watching that?” Frankie’s mum stuck her head round the doorway. “I’ve finished my call. So who wants to help me in the kitchen?” She asked. “We can cook up something together that will be out of this world.”

Hearing that Frankie, Ruby, Stan and Jensen all looked a little surprised, then started to laugh together at the same time.

“Out of this world,” Ruby said.

“Out of this world,” Jensen repeated.

 

 

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SHOES

Every day for the past week Madeleine had stopped at the shop window to admire the new pair of shoes that had only recently been put on display. She was completely entranced by them , and only had two more days before pay-day when she could rush out of work, into the shop and make them hers.

The shoes were a patent red, and so shiny Madeleine imagined that she could actually see her reflection in them as she gazed through the glass of the show window. They had a slight heel. Madeleine didn’t like anything more than a  slight heel. Well she wouldn’t, being quite tall already. She didn’t want to bring any more attention to her height. The heel was glitter covered as were the very edges of the shoes all the way round. Madeleine imagined that she would feel like a queen just putting them on her feet and knew that they would make her the envy of every other girl at the dance club.

“Hey Maddy, what you doing?” Janis sidled up to her. How Madeleine hated the way people reduced her name to two syllables. How she detested the name Maddy. Her name was Madeleine and should never be shortened.Not that she’d tell any of the girls that.

“Oh. Hi Janis, nothing really, just seeing what’s in the shop windows. I love window shopping don’t you?” Madeleine answered non-committally. She didn’t want Janis to know what her real objective was as she was looking in the shoe shop. She didn’t want anyone to know about the shoes until she appeared at the dance-hall on Saturday night with her best friend Teresa, when she would be wearing the most gorgeous shoes anyone could ever imagine her wearing.

“You still going to the Dance on Saturday?” Janis asked, almost as if she had just read Madeleine’s mind.

“Yes, are you?” Madeleine replied.

“Of course, Johnny insisted that I dance with him again.  Johnny had been Janis’s off-on boyfriend for the last couple of years. “He thinks we can win the tournament this weekend.”

Madeleine just smiled and started to move away from the shoe shop window. Janis grabbed her arm and tagged along, as if they were the best of friends. Madeleine hated the way people assumed that just because you were friendly with them that they could take advantage and manhandle you. Teresa was her best friend and she’d never presume to grab hold of Madeleine like that.  Madeleine did think it would be nice to be held like that by one person though. She suddenly thought of Terry. He often looked at her when they were at the dance hall, and even spoke to her occasionally,  but so far he hadn’t asked her to dance. She was hoping that this weekend would be different. She was hoping that with her new shoes she would have a lucky charm and that he would not only ask her to dance but that they would enter the competition together and maybe even win.

Friday eventually came round, Pay-day. Madeleine went to Mr Gruber’s office at just after four o’clock as she always had and signed for her wages. Popping them safely into her handbag she went back to work. For the next hour Madeleine had one eye on her work and kept the other on the clock. At five o’clock sharp she intended to leave as quickly as she could and get to the shoe shop before it closed just half an hour later.

Just before five Madeleine started to tidy her desk and clear her things away. At dead on five she left her desk and grabbed her coat, left the building by way of the staff entrance and headed down the road to the shoe shop.  She had only taken a few steps when she heard Janis behind her.

“You’re in a bit of hurry tonight aint’ you Maddy?” Janis shouted after her as she ran to catch up.

“I promised me mum I’d be back early tonight,” Madeline said maintaining her pace along the road. “And I’ve a few errands to run on the way.”

“OK, you don’t have to say no more,” Janis said, “I get the blooming message. I’ll see you tomorrow then at the dance. Make sure you cheer when Johnny and I raise the cup.”

Turning the corner, Madeleine almost bumped into Mrs Webster, her mum’s next-door-neighbour.

“Oh my, watch where you’re going… oh it’s you Maddy,  Madeleine. You’re in an awful hurry ain’t yer?” Mrs Webster said in almost one breath.

“I don’t want to be late for tea tonight, ” Madeleine said, “Mum’s doing something special as Uncle Thomas is popping in, and I’ve got to get to the shops before they close, sorry can’t stop,” Madeleine said almost as breathlessly.

“OK, love, I’ll see you later, don’t spend all your money mind.” Mrs Webster laughed at her little joke and she and Madeleine went off in their respective directions. Mrs Webster was headed to the Cake shop. She too had a special errand to run.

As Madeleine turned to go into the shoe shop she quickly glanced in the window. Stopping in her tracks she gasped and felt crestfallen. The shoes were no longer on display. Without further ado she rushed into the shop and straight to the wooden counter. The shop smelled of new shoes, leather and polish. Madeleine had always thought it was a homely and comforting smell.

There was no-one else in the shop. Even Mr Pierce the shop owner didn’t appear to be on the premises. Madeleine knew he sometimes made home deliveries as she’d often found him at home dropping off shoes for her mum,but he wouldn’t have left the shop unlocked.

“Hello?” Madeleine called over the counter, wondering if Mr Pierce was in the stockroom at the back of the shop. There was no answer. “Hello? Mr Pierce?” Madeleine  called again. “Are you there? Is everything alright?”

For a moment she thought she heard something behind the curtain that separated the shop from the stockroom. Holding her breath she listened carefully. She was sure she could hear her mum’s voice whispering something, and then she thought she heard Mr Pierce whispering something back. ‘How strange’ she thought

Madeleine moved around the counter and stopped in front of the curtain. She hoped everything was alright. Just as she was about to pull the curtain back Mr Pierce did the very same from the other side, appearing before Madeleine a little flustered and red-faced. At the same time as Mr Pierce appeared Madeleine was sure she heard the back door to the shop close with a bang.

She didn’t want to pry into what had been going on on the other side of the curtain but felt impelled to check Mr Pierce was well. “Are you OK, Mr Pierce?” She asked. “I did call a couple of times but got no answer. I’m sorry if I disturbed you.”

“No, no, Don’t worry Madeleine dear, I just had a bit of Friday afternoon business to deal with.” Mr Pierce smoothed down the hair on either side of his head and twirled the ends of his moustache. He still appeared slightly flustered and red-faced, but Madeleine thought no more of it, after all, she thought, it was his business and not hers.

“Mr Pierce I’ve had my eyes on a beautiful pair of shoes that have been in your shop window for the last ten days. Today I came in to buy them and they are no longer there.” Madeleine explained to Mr Pierce.

“Ah, you must mean the red Sonia Anderson’s. Designer quality at its best,” Mr Pierce told Madeleine.

“If they were the one’s in the centre of the display that have now been replaced by the grey and blue pumps, yes that’s exactly the ones I mean.” Madeleine was looking around the shop to see if they were anywhere on display inside. “I even noticed that they were my size.” She added.

“Oh, Madeleine, I am so sorry. I sold them just this very afternoon.” Mr Pierce said picking up a box from the floor. “But maybe these would be just as nice?” he said showing Madeline the contents of the box he had just picked up.

“Oh, Mr Pierce, I’d had heart set on those all week. I so wanted them. I really thought they would be mine. I’m sorry, but no they were the only ones I wanted.” Madeleine was almost heartbroken.She was so disappointed. Thanking Mr Pierce for his time she turned and left the shop. She was fighting back the tears that were threatening to spill over as she closed the shop door behind her.

On the short walk home all Madeleine could think about was how unlucky she had been to miss out on the shoes. Would Terry ask her to dance now? Or would he give her his usual glance and stay with his mates. She considered not going to the dance the next day, but knew her best friend Teresa would be annoyed with her if she pulled out now.

Within twenty minutes she was at her front door. “I’m home, mum,” she called slightly dejectedly as she pushed through the door and hung her coat up on the coat-stand.

“Hello, love. Come on in here,” her mum called back, “Your Uncle Thomas is here, and I’ve made a special tea.”

The day didn’t feel quite so special now, but Madeleine didn’t want to upset her mum, or Uncle Thomas, she knew they would have made a bit of an effort. She Gently pushed the living room door open pasting a smile on her face as she did so.

“Surprise”, came a load shout from a range of voices inside the living room. Looking up and round the room Madeleine saw her mum and  Uncle Thomas in the middle of the room surrounded by a selection of their family and friends. She hadn’t told anyone at work, or anywhere else for that matter, that it was her birthday, yet here they all were smiling and holding up glasses to toast her. Even Janis was there, and right at the back Mr Pierce with a beaming smile. She was indeed surprised.

Uncle Thomas handed her a glass of Pomagne, telling her that she could drink it legally now, while her mum came forward with a carefully wrapped present.

“Here you go, love. I hope you like them.” Her mum beamed at her, and leaning forward gave her a quick kiss.

“Thanks, Mum,” Madeleine took the present and carefully unwrapped it. Inside she was delighted to find the Sonia Anderson shoes that she had had her eyes on all week. Her eyes filled with tears all over again, but this time tears of happiness.

“Well try them on then,” Mr Pierce had moved forward and was smiling at her as he held her mum’s elbow.

Madeleine sat down and slipping off her work shoes she put the new ones on. She stood up and with a smile as wide as her face announced “A perfect fit.”

Behind her came another voice, “With those you’ll win the dance competition tomorrow night. Of course if you’ll do me the honour of being my dance partner.”

Madeleine recognised the voice at once . It was Terry, and he was asking her to be his dance partner. It looked like the shoes were indeed going to be a good luck charm. Turning round Madeleine was unable to hide her delight and accepted Terry’s offer without hesitation.

“What a turn up for the books,” Madeleine said as she took another sip from her glass of Pomagne.

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