Monthly Archives: September 2013

LOST

Day by day more of my thoughts are lost to me.  I’ve now lost count of the numbers of the days gone by but I am sure that it’s been more than a month since I woke up alone, with what felt like the mother of all hangovers.

Sue and I were on what was supposed to have been the cruise of a lifetime.  I guess you could certainly say it lived up to this expectations in one respect.

We’d flown to Venice to board the ship,  setting sail in the early evening as the sun went down over the backdrop of the city. It felt like the perfect start to our last holiday together.  Three months before sure had been diagnosed ‘terminal’.

After ten days cruising round the Mediterranean we broke free of Europe through the straits of Gibraltar,  and that was the last time we saw land.

Our last stop before setting out across the Atlantic was some small port on the Mediterranean in North Africa, a jumping off point to visit some new  archaeological site.

According to the guide on board the site was exceptional for the skeletons found there which suggested a whole new pattern of evolution for mankind.  Frankly I thought it was probably just some money spinning gimmick thought up by the local tourist board to drag some money into the country’s failing economy. The cruise company were just as keen to lighten our wallets providing what seemed to me to be quickly cobbled together tours.

As soon as Sue found out about the site she was keen to sign up for the tour.  I, on the other hand,  wanted nothing to do with it.  There was no way I was going to stop Sue going though.

On the morning of the tour we arrived in port and off Sue went. She teamed up with an old couple from Lancashire who were just as excited as she was by all the hype. We’d met them at dinner on the first night and shared a table with them since. They  were seasoned travellers, and this was their fourth or fifth cruise if I remember correctly.  Simon was a retired engineer, and a bit of a fusspot in my opinion. Maggie, a retired teacher was a bit of a wildcard, always up for fun and light as a feather on her feet around the dance-floor, although I hasten to add never with Simon.

As the ship Docked in the little port buses pulled up alongside for the special expedition. Saying goodbye for the day to Sue I kissed her on the cheek and chided Sion and Maggie to take care of her. They had no idea of our true situation, but had caught on enough to realise Sue was not as robust s she was keen to pretend.

The ship gradually emptied of almost all the passengers. It seemed this archaeological site was quite a draw. I elected to sit by the pool and read one of the books I had brought for the journey. Settling down on one of the sun-beds I whipped off my t-shirt and applied a high factor sun-cream, before lying back to enjoy the sun and a few hours with Stephen King. I’d grabbed his latest novel from the airport before we flew, and although I was only a few pages in I was gripped. There were a few others around the deck doing similar leisurely things.

After a leisurely lunch I returned to the cabin and took a customary siesta. I knew Sue and the others were due back at around half past five so had plenty of time to myself still. In no time  I fell into a deep sleep only to be startled awake what felt like a short while later by Sue crashing into the cabin with her stories of the excursion. She was so hyped up on the experience that I had to grab her wrists to get her to sit down a moment to tell me about it more clearly.

According to Sue’s story of events when they got to the site Maggie refused point blank to get off the coach, telling all and sundry that she could feel a malevolent presence and that it wouldn’t be safe. Sue thought this amusing, especially as Maggie had been one of the ones that were the most keen to see the site.

The tour guide eventually persuaded Maggie to get off, but she wouldn’t join the tour. She simply sat in one of the small cafe-huts that had grown up around the site and waited all day for the tour to be over. Sue’s words were tumbling over themselves as she tried to recount the story of the tour around the site. I’d never seen her so excited, and yet all at once anxious, before. It was obvious she had had an exceptional day. At the time I felt thee was something different about her but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Hindsight being the incredible thing that it is allows me to put a  whole different spin on her behaviour now.

Although dinner was a few hours away Sue insisted we get ready and stop off in the buffet restaurant first for a snack. She claimed that there had been no food available all day and that she was ravenous. I was so pleased to see her spirits soaring that I quickly complied and we took the stairs the five flights up to the buffet. Entering the restaurant it was clear Sue wasn’t the only one who had returned hungry from the day’s excursion. The place was really busy with other guests snacking before dinner.  Having had lunch I declined Sue’s offer to get me a plate too, so was surprised when she came back with one of the dinner plates loaded with pizza and a variety of cold cuts. Since her diagnosis her appetite had dropped off considerably. It was a comfort to see her  tucking in again, although a little disconcerting too. Looking round the restaurant I could see others with similarly laden plates.  Being used to the  incredible gluttony of some guests on the cruise I simply assumed that they too had missed out on lunch and were here to get their money’s worth now.

After Sue had had her fill and cleaned away the whole plateful of food we went down to the bar near the main dining hall. I had my usual pre-dinner martini whilst Sue went for an alcohol-free cocktail. This was another out of character action. She usually enjoyed a good drink but said at the time that having just eaten a good plateful she wasn’t in the mood for alcohol.  She had indeed had a good plateful of food and I wasn’t sure she’d be ready for dinner when the time came, but as soon as the restaurant opened for the second sitting she was at the door and at our table long before anyone else. Simon was right behind her, with Maggie and I bringing up the rear.

Up until that evening Sue had only had the minimal two courses, but that night she dived straight in and chose an item from each of the seven courses, and even started in on the bread rolls before any of the dishes were served. Simon seemed equally hungry attacking the breadbasket along with Sue while we waited for the first dishes to be served. Maggie and I watched on in an amused silence. Strangely neither Sue nor Simon wanted wine that night and stuck to the water while Maggie and I shared a bottle of Rioja.

Looking back Sue’s behaviour, and that of Simon’s at dinner should have alerted me that something was amiss, but at the time I was so happy to see her full of energy and with an amazing appetite that I missed the signs. If only I’d known then what I know now, but then again what could I have done at the time?

09.27 lost at sea

 

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FROM MY CHILDHOOD

When Mum and Dad sold the house they cleared the loft of everything and gave me a couple of boxes of my old things. There were two cardboard boxes of things from my childhood, things that I didn’t have a a lot of interest in at that time. In my usual procrastinating way I took the boxes and put them in the cupboard under the stairs to check through them later.

Five years later and it was time to move and sell my flat. I pulled everything out from under the stairs and decided that a five year break from filing to checking really was long enough. Along with the old fireplace rug (why did I keep that so long, or even at all?); the box of tiles left over from having work done on the bathroom (same question), the bag of dog toys half chewed and falling apart and all the other bits and pieces put in there ‘just in case’ I also pulled out the two boxes Mum and Dad had given me.

Sitting on the floor cross-legged in the living room I opened the top box and started to go through all those bits and pieces of yesteryear, so many things from my childhood and so many memories.

On top of the box were five of my old school reports. Looking through them I was amused by some of the teachers comments, and by the grades that I had been given. All those years later they all seemed so irrelevant. I had a successful and happy life even though I didn’t quite live up to the standards set by some of my teachers.

Right beside the reports were some of my old school exercise books.  I gave them a cursory glance, noting the amount of red pen annotations on many of the pages. For a moment I was drawn back to one of my classrooms where I was pulled up for my poor handwriting. At the time I was horrified and humiliated, being reprimanded in front of all my classmates. Thinking about how awful I felt that day I wondered what reason the teacher really had for verbally abusing me so horribly in class. It didn’t gain her any respect nor did it improve my marks. It was just horrible, cruel and so unnecessary.  I tossed the books into the ‘throw’ pile and dug deeper through a variety of discarded toys and games.  I put some aside to keep, but decided that many were beyond saving so they too went on the ‘throw’ pile.

The second box began pretty much the same, until I came across an old ‘magic’ puzzle box. It was one of those wooden boxes with a secret mechanism for opening it.  I knew I had managed to open it many times when I was a child, but pushing and pulling the blocks in a variety of different directions as I sat there with my tongue out in concentration wasn’t getting me anywhere.

I put it aside for a while as I went through the rest of the box, but it was always just there beside me taunting me to open it. I eventually gave in to the internal struggle of ‘oh forget it‘ and ‘go on you can do it‘ and picked it up again. I got up and sat on the sofa, making myself comfortable for what could be a mammoth session of concentration and started to push pull and prod at the blocks all over again.

Turning the box round and round I checked every facet of each of its sides. I shook the box to see if that would help it give up its secret of how to open it. I banged it on the arm of the sofa. All of this was in vain. The box just wasn’t going to let me in that easily. I eventually gave up and placed the box on the sideboard ready to attack it again later.

As I continued with the clearing out of the cupboards I felt the draw of the old puzzle box calling me to test my mettle and open it. By dinner time I was ready to give in again. I popped a convenience meal into the microwave and gobbled down the results with a can of beer. There was nothing much on the telly to hold my interest so I picked up the box again.  Watching a popular quiz show I absent-mindedly played with the puzzle box whilst shouting answers to the presenter’s questions at the other box.

All of a sudden there was a click and some of the blocks in the puzzle box shifted. Immediately my attention was focussed. I had no idea what buttons I had pressed to shift the blocks, but was happy I had started the process.  With careful inspection and a fully focussed mind I gradually prised the blocks backwards and forwards eventually releasing each one and opening the box.

Inside I was surprised to find five old five pound notes and a small selection of old stamps. I’d almost forgotten my passion for stamp collecting when I was a kid. I wasn’t sure if the five pound notes would still be legal tender but decided I’d pop along to the bank in the morning and check. As for the stamps I didn’t think any would be valuable, but thought that while I was in town I could also drop into the collectors’ shop too.

That night I slept like a log, all the worries about my impending move that had kept me awake for the last few nights had flown from my mind. The next morning I awoke refreshed and happy.

It was a beautiful fresh sunny morning so I walked into town. My first stop in the bank was profitable enough. The notes were still legal tender, but just to prevent any problems I got the bank-teller to exchange them for current notes. I now had an extra twenty five quid in my pocket to spend.

In the stamp shop I handed over the pile of stamps and left the owner to look  through them. As he did so he was ‘umming and ahhing’ while he shook his head or nodded with each stamp he looked at.  As I listened to him I guessed that none of them was worth much. That was until he stopped and held one up to the light. He was smiling and nodding excitedly.

Eventually he said, “Well young man. This is a beauty, but I guess you already knew that.”

“Uh-huh,” I replied non-committally.

“The others aren’t worth much, but this one is a prize to behold. I’d like to offer you five thousand for this, and take the others off your hands.” He said.

“Five thousand?” I repeated slowly.

“Well, okay then, seven thousand five hundred. But I’ll not go a penny higher,” he quickly told me.

I repeated his latest figure, just as I had done with the previous one. It seemed he had thought I was rejecting his offer before so I thought I might as well try again.

“Ten thousand and that really is my final offer.” He said ” You’re driving a hard bargain.”

“Ten thousand,” I said and shook his hand. “A banker’s check or bank transfer and it’s yours. I’ll let you have it as soon as I have a confirmed payment.”

“Of course” was his reply.

I couldn’t believe it… an old box from my childhood had been hiding a fortune, and now that fortune was to be mine. For starters I had twenty five smackers in my pocket, enough to have a little celebration. Having made the deal I picked up the stamps with a promise to return the next day and set off for the pub.

09.23 - From my childhood -Puzzlebox

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RULE OF THIRDS

The previous part of Adam’s adventure can be found here:

SHADOW

***************************************************

Adam came back downstairs after his shower, having put on some clothes and thought about his situation whilst doing all of that. He looked into the kitchen where Joanne and Gabrielle were still sitting, apparently in silence.

“I’m calling a meeting in the study,” Adam told them both, turned on his heels and went down the corridor into his study.

When Joanne and Gabrielle came in Adam was sitting at his desk scrolling through something on his laptop. Gabrielle coughed to let Adam know they were there.

“Come on in, and grab a chair,” Adam told them. “I’ll be with you in a second.” He continued to look for something on his laptop for a couple of minutes, then shut the screen down onto the keyboard and turned around to smile at his two new colleagues.

“Adam?” Gabrielle said.

“Sh,sh,sh,” Adam replied, “I’ve been thinking about our situation, and I think we better come up with a pretty good plan. Now I’m  new to all of this, whereas you two, as far as I understand it, are pretty old hands at the whole time management game. So first of all I want you to fill me in with as much information as you possibly can on what this shadow might mean, and on how they’ve been dealt with in the past.”

“Stepping up to the plate, I like it.” Gabrielle held out his hand to Adam.

Taking Gabrielle’s hand in his he shook it firmly. “I’m glad you like it, because the three of us are going to be a formidable team, an unbeatable team. There is no other way. We can do this.”

Joanne held out her hand and Adam shook that too. “Thank you,” he said to the pair of them. “I still don’t really understand who you two are either, but I’m guessing I’m a pretty unknown commodity for you two so let’s do it. The three musketeers to infinity.”

For the next half an hour Joanne and Gabrielle told Adam all they knew about the shadow, previous occurrences of similar phenomena and a little background on the way they had worked together up to that point.

“Okay, that’s the story to now. Time to put a game plan together for dealing with what this way comes.” Adam proposed.

“Sir, er, Adam, may I suggest we work within the ‘rule of thirds’ –with the three of us I think it is or best chance.” suggested Joanne.

“The rule of thirds?” Adam asked. “I thought that was a technique for taking photos. Tell me more.”

“In the first instance ‘the rule of thirds’ is a photographic technique. Divide the subject into nine equal parts and conquer the overall composition by that division and re-connection.” Gabrielle fished in his pocket for something.

“Divide and conquer. I like it.” Adam agreed.

“The main function of ‘the rule of thirds’ is not to put the main subject of the composition at the centre. That’s what we have to avoid. The Shadow and what it precedes shouldn’t be our central focus. We need it in the picture but we need to focus on the solution.” Joanne continued. “The rule was first proposed at the end of your eighteenth century, and despite it’s detractors still holds true today.  It isn’t just a photographic principle it is also based in the metaphysics and quantum sciences that are becoming more understood by your now.”

“OK time to stop right there. I get the photographic analogy but if you start to force the other metaphysical and quantum stuff into my head I’ll go into melt down. Sparrow tried that with me and I just got more confused.”

Gabrielle pulled his hand out of his pocket holding what Adam thought was a mobile phone. “You calling in back up already?” he asked.

Gabrielle showed Adam the device in his hand. It clearly wasn’t a mobile phone. “No, Adam I’m not. This is something from your future that might help. We cannot do this totally alone, for all our bravado – this could be your saviour.”

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IN THE MORNING

How William loved to be up and about early in the morning. He always thought it was the time of day when magic could be found in the countryside if your were patient enough.

This particular morning William had got up at five and taken Matty,  his border Collie, off into the fields for a good long walk. It was a crisp frosty morning. The sky was clear and bright with just enough watery sunlight breaking through the atmosphere to warm Wills’ face as he ambled down the old footpath away from his back gate.

Matty was running hither and thither sniffing out whatever he could find. Not far from the house a wary rabbit ran out onto the path. Matty didn’t spot it first off, but as he lifted his head and looked forward he suddenly noticed it and gave chase.  Wills worried what he would do if Matty ever caught a rabbit. He couldn’t bear the thought of another living animal getting hurt, especially if it was for sport.

Matty was gradually gaining on the rabbit, both of them running with their big ears bouncing up and down as they did so. Suddenly the rabbit stopped in its tracks and looked round at Matty. Wills knew what would happen next and smiled. Matty simply stopped and looked round at him, as if asking ‘Dad, what do I do now?’ Wills simply shrugged in reply.

Knowing that the hunt was not a serious one the rabbit slowly hopped off into the hedgerow as Matty gave chase then sniffed around the place where the rabbit had gone. Once more he looked back to Wills for approval. This time his face seemed to be saying ‘I did good Dad. I saved you from that rabbit, and no-one got hurt.’

“Well done lad,” Wills told Matty as he caught up with him and rubbed hi big old ears. “Yep, you did good, well done.”

Having gained his Dad’s approval Matty went off at a run again hunting down more big game if he could find it.

In no time they had come to the edge of the forest, where they would cut through to the river. Wills watched Matty as once again he stopped almost dead in his tracks.

“What is it boy, another scary bunny?” Wills asked him as he got closer.

Matty was sitting stock still. He was not moving a muscle, not blinking or twitching at all.

“What is it lad?” Wills asked again as he came level to where Matty was sitting.

Following Matty’s line of sight Wills became as still as his dog.  He could hardly believe his eyes. He was dumbfounded and elated all in one go. He knew that one day his patience would be rewarded with a little bit of magic, and it seemed that today was to be that day.

Not wanting to break the spell of the moment Wills crouched down beside Matty, who still had not moved a muscle, and together they watched the amazing scene before them.

20.06 (71)

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WHAT IS THIS?

The previous part of this story can be found here:

VINTAGE

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As soon as the girls had bought their drinks at the bar Paulette moved to one of the quiet booths towards the back of the bar, followed swiftly by Suzette.  It was still early in the evening so the place wasn’t too busy, there were just a few after-work drinkers, just like the girls. The music playing was the usual background noise that was almost so background that it was completely ignored by the regular punters.

“What is this all about?” Suzette asked once they had got comfortable and taken a sip of their drinks. “You’ve been acting strange ever since you came back out of the back room after having tried on that frock:”

“Well…” Paulette replied fishing in her coat pocket.

“Well, nothing. Come on out with it.” Suzette was not known for her patience.

“Chill, will you. Well, at least till I tell you what has got me all excited.” Paulette smiled.

“Chilling as we speak,” Suzette took another sip from her drink, and tried to ‘chill’ as Paulette had asked.

“When I got back into the back room after checking how the dress looked in the mirror I found something,” Paulette started to explain.

“Something?” Suzette repeated, interrupting Paulette’s story. “The mystery deepens.”

“If only you’d stop interrupting and let me explain..” Paulette took a quick drink.

Suzette smiled and made a zipping motion with her hand across her mouth to show that she wouldn’t say anything else.

“OK. Like I said I found something. All I did was slip my hands into the small pockets in the dress, just before I took it off, and in one of them I found an envelope.” Paulette sat back

“An envelope?” Suzette repeated.

“Enough of the parrot impersonations, Suze. You don’t have to repeat the last word of each of my sentences.” Paulette pulled a face to show her annoyance.

“Your sentences..” Suzette said and pulled a face back.

The two girls laughed. Suzette made the zipping motion again and signalled with her hands for Paulette to continue.

“So I found this envelope.” Paulette reiterated. “On the outside it was blank, but inside there was a letter.” She laid the envelope on the table between them.

“A letter?” Suzette said, mugging again for Paulette’s benefit.

“Suze, you can be the most incredible pain,” Paulette told her best friend as she sipped from her glass and slipped the envelope back towards herself. “and for that I shall end my story here.”

“Sorry,” Suzette stuck out her bottom lip and tried to look as puppy-like as possible. “Come on, tell me. You’ve dragged the story out this far, and I want to know what the letter said, and who it was from.”

Paulette looked at Suzette and smiled again. “The letter is a love letter to the owner, and designer of the dress, from a very famous, and married actor.”

“O.M.G.” was all that Suzette could think of to say.

“O.M.G. Is that it ?” Paulette laughed at her friend’s face.

“Well, O.M.G. and come on share the details.” Suzette held out her hands indicating to Paulette that she’d like to read the letter too.

“As long as you promise to keep it quiet and stop interrupting and pulling daft faces.” Paulette bargained. “We can read it together as I only scanned it before and checked the names at each end.”

“That’s a bit of a tall order, but okay.” Suzette agreed nodding.

Paulette opened the envelope and unfolded the sheet of paper inside. She laid it gently on the table before them after checking that there was no moisture from their glasses that might damage the paper.

“Dear Jeanette,” Suzette read aloud. “So you think that’s Jeanette DuBois, the designer, and if it is your dress is going to be a DuBois original. Not bad for fifty five quid. Got yourself a bargain there, Pols.”

“Shhh, don’t read aloud, and yes I am sure it is her, just read on.” Paulette put her index finger to her lips to show Suzette that she should keep her voice down.

Suzette read on, whilst Paulette read again the same letter. Looking up now and then Paulette almost giggled watching the way Suzette’s lips moved as she read the letter.

“O.M.G It has to be her, this bit here where he says..:” Suzette whispered.

“Yes, Suze, I know, now shhh.” Paulette interrupted.

The two girls read on in silence. One or two of the phrases made Paulette blush slightly. The letter writer was very forthright in his reminiscences.

As they finished reading the letter together Suzette looked up with wide-eyes. “He’s pretty explicit isn’t he. Do you really think they did that?” She asked pointing to an underlined sentence in the letter.

“I really hope so,” Paulette replied, blushing slightly again.

“Oh look at you blushing. Don’t tell me you’ve never tried.” Suzette giggled as she saw the embarrassment grow in her friend’s expression.

“Suze, please…. So have you?” Paulette asked.

“Yep, Remember Nick, the cabbie guy. Well he was very adventurous, so we just went for it and …” Suzette starting to explain.

“T.M.I. Suze,  and O.M.G, you two doing ….” Paulette rolled her eyes in mock judgement.

“Yeah, well it was a few years back. but Madame, butter wouldn’t melt, Dubois and Gary Nailer, well that’s a whole different ball game,” Suzette laughed at the pun she’d made.

“Nailer, he  sure did Suze, some ball game that must have been.” Paulette laughed too.

“Stop it. So what are you going to do?” Suzette asked.

“Do?” Paulette replied

“Yeah, with the letter. If that fell into the wrong hands it could be really damaging. Nailer’s been married to whatsherface for years, they’ve a couple of kids as well.” Suzette explained.

“I was thinking that we should just destroy it and say no more of it. Lot’s of people would get hurt if this came out.” Paulette said.

“Or….” Suzette whispered, leaving a heavy pause in the air.

09.19 -what is this

 

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VINTAGE

For a few days Paulette had passed the second hand shop with hardly a glance. She was trying to economise and even the second hand shop was more than she could afford before pay-day.

Two days before pay-day Paulette’s resolve broke and on her way home from work she stopped to look in the second-hand shop window to see if there was anything new to take her interest. What she really wanted was a smart dress to wear to the awards party that Jonathon had invited her to. She could wear the black Stella McCartney gown that she had bought for a snip`last year and worn a couple of times to functions, but she really wanted something new and different. Knowing new and different was way out of her price range she would be happy to settle for second-hand and different, and hopefully stylish.

Staring past the items directly in the window Paulette saw that one of the racks had been restocked with a whole range of recently added dresses. As she tried to see what the dresses were like she heard a familiar voice right behind her.

“Come on Pols, lets get inside. Alice told me they would have a whole range of new dresses for us to look through today, and we can always ask her to put by anything we really like until pay-day.”

The voice belonged to Paulette’s fellow second-hand fan, Suzette.  They had been friends since their schooldays, when they were in the same art class and teamed up because their names sounded alike, or at least ended in the same letters. They had always thought of themselves as the fabulous ‘ettes’.

The shop they were currently standing outside was one of their favourites and they often got the heads up from Alice, the owner, if any new stock might be attractive to them. It seemed Alice had already told Suzette about the dresses Paulette was trying to get a look at through the shop window. Even from this poor vantage point Paulette could see that the rack held some interesting garments.

“You temptress, Suze,” Paulette said as she was grabbed by the arm and maneuvered towards the shop door. As pay-day was so near Paulette didn’t resist, wanting to get a good look at the new stock before the rest of the town had chance.

“Hello, you two,” Alice the shopkeeper said as the old fashioned bell on the door rang and the two girls entered. “I thought I might see you both today. The new range has some exquisite styles, and I’m sure you’re both going to be asking me to hold onto at least one dress each for you. Come on and take a look. And if there’s anything you want to try on you can pop out the back. Shall I put the kettle on while you two get stuck in?”

“Alice, it’s like you read our minds every time we walk through that door.” Suzette said as the girls headed towards the rack of new stock.

“Well I am a bit psychic you know,” Alice said with a wink as she pushed through the beaded curtain into the store-room to put the kettle on. “Oh and there’s another box of clothes I’ve not been through yet. Same supplier, so it’s bound to be good stuff too. If you’re happy to come get it and hang it out for me I may even be able to negotiate a discount.”

“We’ll come get it in  a minute, Alice. You know how we love a bargain, and if you’re going to add a discount then we’re here to help.” Paulette said as she pulled one of the dresses off the rack and held it against herself, before deciding that it wasn’t quite what she was looking for and put it back.

Suzette pulled another of the dresses out and held it up. “Look at this beauty, Pols. This stuff is amazing. It’s all vintage class. Trouble is it’s vintage sizes too. Look at the waist on this one. I’d never get into that, but you might.”

“It’s stunning, Suze, but not quite what I’m after. That shade of green really isn’t flattering on me. Makes me look like some kind of leprechaun.” Paulette replied.

“Hang on a minute,” Suzette said pulling out another dress. “This one is gorgeous, and it might even be my size. I’m going to try this one on.” She disappeared into the back room where Paulette could hear her chattering to Alice as she tried on the dress.

A minute or two later Alice appeared laughing with couple of mugs of tea, one of which she passed to Paulette. “Suzette is huffing and puffing in there to squeeze herself into that red dress.”

“These dresses are fabulous, Alice. They’re obviously vintage, but that means they’re vintage sizes too. Suze thought she ‘d get into that one, though.” Paulette sipped the tea.

“Well if she doesn’t, and I’m doubting it, there are more in the other box. Maybe one of those will suit her better.” Alice returned to her chair behind the counter and till.

Seconds later Suzette appeared back in the shop, slightly red-faced with the dress over one arm and a mug of tea in the other. “Not quite,” she said hanging the dress back on the rack. “Found anything?”

“Nope, let’s get the other box out,” Paulette said putting her mug on one of the display cabinets.

Dragging the box out of the storeroom between them the girls opened it and started to take the clothes out, holding them up as they did so to inspect them, before hanging them on one of the racks.

After a while Paulette found a blue dress she liked, which she thought might fit her so she disappeared out the back to try it on. Moments later she appeared back in the shop wearing  the dress she had taken out with her.

“You look a million dollars, hon,” Suzette told her. “It looks great on you. The colour picks out the blue in your eyes.”

“It looks like it as made for you, Paulette,” Alice added.

Paulette admired herself in the mirror, smoothing down the folds of the dress. She loved how it looked and had already decided she would buy it.

“Seventy-five quid,” Alice called across the shop.

“And how much discount for the help we’re giving here?” Paulette asked?

“Let’s call it seventy then.” Alice called back.

“Fifty sounds better,” Paulette was still admiring herself in the mirror.

“Sixty, last offer,” Alice dropped her price a little more.

“Fifty five and you’ve got yourself a deal, as long as I can pay you in a couple of days.”

“You drive a  hard bargain, missy, but, yes you can have it for fifty five.” Alice clapped her hands together to signify a deal.

Paulette went back to the storeroom to take the dress off, while Suzette continued to look through the box, and hang the dresses up on the rack as she went through them.

Paulette returned with her dress, a strange and content smile on her face. Suzette, meanwhile had come to the bottom of the box without finding anything suitable.  “Nothing for me today then,” she said as she hanged the last dress on the rack. “When you getting some more in, Alice?” she asked.

“Should be early next week. Sorry there’s nothing there for you, love.” Alice said taking Paulette’s dress from her and placing it on a hanger with a plastic cover. “I’ll keep this for you until Saturday lunch,” she told Paulette.

“Great, Thanks. Come on the Suze, let’s get off. Thanks for the tea, Alice,” Paulette said grabbing Suzette’s arm and heading towards the door.

“OK, boy but you’re in a hurry all of a sudden,” Alice said, “Bye girls.”

When they got outside the door Suzette pulled her arm free. “What’s all the rush?” she asked.

“Time for a quick drink?” Paulette suggested, avoiding Suzette’s question.

“Think we need to. I want to find out what’s up with you.” Suzette looked at Paulette, but got no clue as to why she had been in such a hurry to leave the shop, or as to what the mystery was.

“Come on then, a quick one in the feathers, my treat,” Paulette said grabbing Suzette’s arm one more time and urging her down the street towards the pub.

09.18 Vintage

To find out why Paulette was in a hurry and acting mysteriously

come back tomorrow for more of the fabulous “ettes” story. 

Part Two can be found here

https://writeyho.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/what-is-this/

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STAIRS

Matt woke up squashed in a corner on a stairs landing.  His head ached and his body felt all out of kilter. He ran his fingers through his hair, brushing his foppish mop of a fringe back out of his eyes. Checking himself out quickly in the reflection from the grimy window  he realised he wasn’t hurt but he definitely looked more than a little disheveled. He  had no idea how he had got to this unknown stairway landing, or why. To him the place looked and smelled like hospital stairs. ‘Had he been in hospital?’ he wondered. If so why was he on the stairs and in a less than clinical state.

Looking through the frosted and crosshatched toughened glass he took note of the awful weather outside. The sky was a battleship grey with darker black clouds rising high into the atmosphere marching across the desolate background. Occasionally lightning cut through the palette of greys hurting Matt’s eyes, and when the thunder assaulted his ears it sounded like the world were being torn asunder.

Matt considered his position. For a moment he remembered the film where a guy woke up in a hospital in an end of the world scenario and wondered if that’s what had happened to him, but it felt all too cliche and unreal. Could cliches become real? Seconds later his mind switched to another scenario. He remembered a television programme sometime back where a hypnotist had convinced a guy that Armageddon had happened and that he had to fulfill some role in it all, finding his brother and looking after a little girl.  Considering this option he thought it was a possibility, he was all too gullible and fell for those sorts of tricks far too easily, but then decided he was being far too melodramatic, besides he didn’t have a brother that would do that too him. He had probably just got very drunk last night and ended up sleeping here on these stairs where he was safely out of the rain. The trouble was he had no recollection of going out the previous night. To tell the truth he couldn’t remember any recent events of the past few days.

“Come on,” he told himself out loud, “Get a grip.”

As he hadn’t, so far, managed to move, nor even to stand up he considered that he could be overplaying everything again. He had been born with an over-dramatic sense of imagination. Was he just being the drama queen that Sasha always insisted he was? It was probably Sasha’s fault that he ended up here. They were regular drinking partners and often culprits in each others drink induced problems.

Picking up his bag from beside him on the landing he fumbled through it for any clues to where he’d been and how he had ended up on these stairs that had no place in his memory.

The First thing he picked out was his mobile phone. He flicked the on/off button. The screen blinked on to tell him that the phone only had five percent charge left and promptly turned itself off again.

Muttering under his breath Matt threw the phone down with frustration. Picking up his bag he tipped it upside down and emptied it on the floor beside him.

Besides a couple of crumpled tissues, ‘how had they got there?’ Matt wondered, there was a lighter, which was strange as Matt had never smoked or owned a lighter, a couple of boiled sweets, the sort his Nan used to give him and a small notepad and pencil. It was these last two items that grabbed Matt’s interest. He regularly took notes when out and about to remind himself to do things and hoped that he had written something that would help him understand how he had got to where he had found himself at this precise moment.

As he flipped open the notepad to find out what ha dgone on he heard footsteps on the stairs below him, and they were headed hi sway with a sense of urgency. Realising that there was nowhere to hide if the person racing up the stairs proved to be dangerous Mat pushed himself back into the corner as far as he could, well out of the way and waited….

 

Serenity Hospital

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Filed under Adult, Contemporary, Intrigue, Thriller/Mystery