The red lights flashed 12.45am on the dash board of the car. It was dark. Mum was whizzing down the country lanes, trying to get home as soon as she possibly could. They were all tired. Amelia lay in her car seat – mouth hanging open, tongue lolling to one side like a dog. Jordon had his seat reclined as his snores filled the rushing quiet of the outside world in the car. Jessica was always the last to fall asleep. Mum called her a night owl. That always reminded her of an owl with headlights for eyes, light beams cutting their way through the darkness. It always seemed like a funny saying to her. Mum’s eyes were like headlights too. They remained fixed, never changing, on the running black road through the windscreen as black trees, bushes and sky seemed to rush by. Jessica grew tired. As she lay in her car seat and relaxed, her eyes grew heavy. She peered out of the window. Tiny blazing stars winked at her in the black through the distance. She imagined one suddenly falling out of the dark sky, tumbling, tumbling, tumbling towards the earth. Once hitting the ground, it would bounce harmlessly like a rubber ball but shatter, scattering splinters of tiny diamonds in all directions, shining through the black. And, she’d catch a stray one that would fly in her direction, and clasp it tightly in the palm of her hands. Its aggressive spale would glitter and shine as if desperate to burst out, lighting up her hands like a beacon as she kept it prisoner in her fingers. Mum sped on through the night. As Jessica relaxed into her chair, the thick mist gathered around the car as they raced on. Someone, she couldn’t quite remember who, told her that fog was just low flying clouds. Low flying clouds? She had never thought of clouds flying before… as if they had little wings that carried their fluffy bodies higher and higher in the sky. Perhaps they only flew low once they had eaten too much dinner – what did clouds eat anyway? Relaxing into her seat even further, she imagined that in their car, they were actually quite still and it was the world rushing past her window in such a hurry. Where might the trees be going? Perhaps they were running away from something, rather than to something. In her mind, she imagined them hitching up their bark like skirts, revealing skinny, spindly wood legs with roots as toes, sprinting along beside her car, and disrupted soil from their feet flying and tumbling in their wake. The fog thickened. Her window was cracked open. She thought of stretching out her hand and rolling the glass down further so she could touch the flying clouds. In a moment of inspiration, she pressed the button which controlled the window, and it rolled down. In floated a pale pink fluffy cloud, as if to say hello. It looked just like candy floss! And before she knew it, she couldn’t help herself, she took a bite! Well…. It wasn’t like what she was expecting. It was light, fluffy, and creamy and fizzed on her tongue. The shocked cloud drifted promptly out of the window. It looked very cross. It looked at her as if to say, ‘Well! That’s a fine thing to do when you first meet someone! Didn’t your mother teach you any manners!?’ But by then, Jessica couldn’t pay much attention to it because her tummy really, really hurt. It was like a million snakes were squirming around in her belly! It was like an elephant was tickling her insides with its long, rough trunk! It was like a big, clumsy tortoise was working its way down, down, down in her stomach. Trampling and rolling around. Forcing its way through tubes that were just too small for it! She groaned, and regretted eating such a big chunk of the cloud. Her hands found her tummy to comfort herself, only to find that it felt different! It was skinny! Like a tube! She looked down and was completely taken aback to see that she had a snout at the end of her face! She wanted to scream, but no noise came out! Her nose was long like a crocodile’s but multi-coloured, and she immediately knew that it was the cloud! The cloud had done this to her… perhaps it was magic, or perhaps all clouds did this to you. After all, how many girls have eaten a cloud before? Surely she must be the first. Examining her body, she saw that she was thin like a snake: skinny, boneless and long. Her feet were scaled with claws where her toes used to be, and her back itched. She turned to see what was irritating her back and was greeted by the most beautiful rainbow wings she had ever seen! Her heart leapt in joy and her body twitched in excitement. The window rolled further down, and before she knew it, she’d slipped out of the window! And just like a gravity defying cloud, she drifted out of the car and flew out into the cool night. Her wings snapped and flapped open like an umbrella as she undulated in the air like a water snake. The car below chugged along the black winding road; fog lights blaring though the clouds while Jessica snaked higher and higher and higher into the pink fluff. She opened her jaws and took chunks out of more unsuspecting clouds as she soared by, and giggled as they fizzed on her tongue. As she flew higher, the world below became more and more distant and the world ahead seemed as if a different planet. Soon screams and shouts could be heard through the thick clouds, so she flew closer to investigate. Her ears pricked up as she heard yells of ‘Star bow! Star bow! Move it quickly before they get away! Look alive son! Look alive!” And through the pink fluff slowly emerged an enormous war ship with a pirates flag flying high! And as she looked, she saw another ship, slightly smaller seeming to be trying to run away from the pirate ship. Arrows flew in the air. “Fire!” was yelled as cannons flew through the clouds and disappeared into fluff. Jessica heard the crashing of wood and splinters as she knew that it made contact. Her attention was interrupted as someone shouted, “Dragon! Dragon!” For a moment, her heart stopped as she halted in the sky and all were silent. It was as if everything stood still. The silence before the storm. The still was finally broken by another voice shouting, “It’s a fire breathing dragon! Run for your lives!” Fear momentarily gripped her heart before she chuckled, unafraid, for she realised that SHE was the fire-breathing dragon! To test her fire, she thought of the burning furnaces within her stomach. She imagined it full of white-hot coal, and as she did so, puffs of pink smoke came through the tunnels of her nose and she knew she was ready. “Dragon! Dragon!” the pirate screamed at the top of his lungs as a volley of arrows whizzed past her ears. Jessica’s shoulder suddenly exploded with pain. It was as if her whole shoulder burst into flames and was burning ferociously. An ear-splitting roar filled the air and echoed through the misty clouds. Her jaws snapped wildly in anger when she saw an arrow sticking out of her right shoulder, before she responded by blowing blisteringly hot breath all over the pirate ship! She blew and blew and blew! Her mouth was like a hydrant but instead of water shooting it, it was roasting hot flames! In less than a minute the whole ship and all its pirates were burnt to a crisp! Jessica regarded the charred mess in surprise at her own anger and strength – but, after all… she was a fire-breathing dragon. She turned to the other ship and was greeted with whoops and cheers of approval. She smiled, but to them it looked as though she was merely showing all her gloriously white sharp teeth… to which they smiled back nervously. “Thank you so much Great Dragon!” One of the passengers yelled up at her. Apparently, she saved them from being robbed by the notorious pirates that regularly roamed these parts of the skies. It was soon made clear that the person shouting to her, was in fact, a prince! (of course) and he was very thankful to Jessica for saving them and their royal treasure. “Such a feat such as this one deserves a worthy reward!” he said. And from below the decks, the Prince brought out the most shiny, glittery sparkly diamond Jessica had ever seen in her life! Jessica was so grateful, she was actually at a loss for words (which to those who know Jessica, was extremely rare.) But he wasn’t finished. He offered her a job – Protector Of the Most Royal Family and all their treasures. What an honour! Jessica was overwhelmed with gratitude, and was terribly sad that she had to decline. “After all,” she said, “I’m only 10 and I really ought to be getting back home… well to my car anyway.” Naturally the prince was very disappointed, but said he understood. So with that, Jessica said her goodbyes to the Prince and his crew and snaked her way downwards, through the pink fluffy clouds towards the car that her mum was driving. It was easy to spot from so high up. Her mother, eyes still fixed in the road, was concentrating as she drove down country lanes and trees ran past with their skirts hitched up. Jessica was beginning to feel very sleepy herself now after all her adventures, and so she slid in through the open window, snaked herself onto her car seat and closed her eyes. And, as she fell asleep finally, the corners of her mouth twitched in a smile as she thought of her mothers’ reaction when they finally reached home. She would park the car in their driveway, crunch on the gravel path to the back car door, open it quietly only to find a snoozing multi-coloured dragon with magnificent wings, snoring where she left her daughter Jessica! Now what would she say to that!? J
Of course, it was fashion y’see,
To have a beard as long as can be,
And Barnaby was a usual lad,
Who thought to himself, ‘I’ll do that.’
So he threw his blades, razors and things
Promptly into the bathroom bin!
Eager not to be a failure,
He binned all shaving paraphernalia.
All such things, now a cardinal sin,
As his ‘growing a beard’ phase was to begin.
His jels, smells, potions and things,
‘All belonged to his past,’ according to him.
After a day or two, he was in for a shock,
And was warned, through laughter, others might mock.
But adamant Barnaby said he’d not care,
That the joy of his beard, with the world he’d share!
Now Barnaby’s hair was silky and soft,
Rich and mysterious with jels held aloft.
Dark and lustrous, sexy and suave,
A sexier image… he thought he’d carve…
But the hair on his chin was different y’see,
You’d have to see it to truly believe,
Thick dark hair, lovely on his head,
Who’d ever guess his beard would grow red!
That’s what I said! His beard was red!
Not on his head, but his beard was red!
This wasn’t what one would expect,
Unless of course someone laid a hex!
Now Barnaby wasn’t the wimpy kind,
Nor the kind that comments would mind,
He wore his beard with a ‘dignant pride,
Even when it grew round to his behind!
But he’d admit, he would address,
The issue of his state of dress,
For those with red hair also know,
Not all colours in your closet go.
So he would mostly just wear green,
For that was the colour to be seen,
And still his beard, it grew and grew,
The length so long, he’d rival few.
It grew to his knees, then his feet,
It grew to the pavement and down the street.
It grew so long that none could afford
To challenge him to the book of re-cords.
T’was soon the longest in the world,
Some bits were straight and some were curled.
He’d roll it in a giant red ball,
And use a hair band to hold it all.
His fame, it grew throughout the land,
As the man with the beard, so red and grand.
The phrase, ‘Merlin’s beard’ was no more,
As ‘Barnaby’s beard’ was used more and more…
For who could miss the river of red,
As it flowed down the street in the wake of his head.
Which, ironically, grew round and bald,
As his chin sprouted cherry hair two-fold.
So next time you see a river of hair,
You know that Barnaby’s somewhere near.
Be careful, don’t step on his frizzy mass,
With no hair on his head, it’s all he has.
Gone were his lovely locs of black,
Only sometimes did he wish for it back.
Most of the time he’ll gladly tell friends,
That his ‘growing a beard’ phase would never, ever end.
Who can see the wind? She is invisible but you still know she’s there. How? You can feel her. You can see how she affects other things around you. She whispers through the leaves, mutters past the gutters, gurgles though the soggy drain pipes and sighs over mountain tops -she even bites through the cold.
She is everywhere.
I am going to tell you a story. But before I do it, I need you to do something for me. You need to lie flat. You need to unfurl your curls. You need to expand your irises beyond comprehension to let me in. You know the bends and the folds in your brain? You need to iron out those creases with the strength of your will. Once you do that, you are ready. Ready to hear my tale.
Imagine where we are in the world. Imagine time as an infinite line. Do you see us? You, sitting there, eyes shut and listening attentively. And me.
I am flat, and wide and infinite. I can see all, and I see us on this time line floating in the black. Now, remove yourself from it. Watch how the glowing line twangs and snaps in the darkness. Can you see the light that buffets the line? Pull yourself away, further and further back… faster and faster and faster until you can hear infinity whipping past your ears. Do you see us now? Do you see our planet on that precarious line? Balancing like a pale blue precious pearl in the velvet dark on a glittering, shimmering time line. Beautiful isn’t it?
Now – zoom back down, down, down to the earth… careful! Don’t get dizzy now. Then we rewind.
Let’s go way, way, way back… to the time before now, the AD before this AD. But this isn’t far enough… we need to go back to the long necked dinosaurs; the razor sharp teeth monster mouth and the laborious long lizard. Past the lush green forests and the winding azure blue that He was most proud of. And then we go back farther still to BC to Adam and Eve. And although you never imagined that you could go this far back, although you imagined that this was the beginning – this was not. Adam and Eve was just one beginning, I am taking you back to the one before that. For before there was mankind, there was Man and Woman, and before that still, there was Woman – The Supreme Being.
And before there was Eden, there was The Whistling Woods.
The Whistling Woods were a legend that most don’t know about, and they did exactly what it sounds like they did. The world was made in harmony. The trees whistled a melody that was harmoniously blended with the song of the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth. Everything sang and was joyful – for that was His intention.
But there was something missing…. He decided to create a being that was supreme. He would make it intelligent, wise, kind and caring. He poured into it all of his best ideas. He would make it resourceful, strong of heart and mind, and sturdy. He would make it soft yet hard, it would be vulnerable yet strong – lean and lithe. It would be His best creation to date: Woman.
This Woman came to be known by the name Aisosa of the heavens, for she was beautiful and wise beyond your human comprehension. She was all He imagined that she would be.
In an instant, he waved his little black paw and Melia felt her world growing… or rather, she was shrinking. Excitedly she remembered when he had transformed her into a lady bird, but desperately hoped she wouldn’t be a dung beetle again.
“Well come along! I haven’t got all day! You’ve got wings…use them!” and with that he hopped back onto the window sill and flew out. Flapping what she hoped were pretty little wings, she followed him. As she did so, a buzzing filled her ears. Glancing at her reflection in the window pane before flying into the sky, she saw what he changed her into.
“A mosquito! Why not a little bird… a sparrow or something like that?” the cat flashed his wicked sharp teeth at her.
“Really? You think a bird would be a wise choice? And they say humans are intelligent creatures…” sighing to himself he slowed down and flew beside her.
“Where we are going, you do not want to be seen. Seeing as you insist on coming along, I have made you as inconspicuous as I can.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means just don’t get in their way, and don’t get noticed!”
Melia managed to keep up with the moggy as they flew to a wood that she knew as the Wily Woods and onto a less familiar setting…Hantree Forest.
There was a full moon and as they flew closer and closer, Melia felt her little heart flutter in her chest. She wasn’t sure if it was fear or excitement. Whichever it was, she didn’t really get time to think about is as she glanced down into the unusual shaped trees to see dozens and dozens of witches gathering around a fire with an enormous cauldron bubbling away.
“As you can see… a dangerous position for any mortal, never mind a child, so keep your wits about you. There’s my witch closest to the cauldron. I have duties to perform. You can watch.
And with that, they drifted in silence towards the chattering lot.
Moggy’s witch looked like what Melia thought witches looked like. She was green with an enormous wart on the end of her nose. She wore a black cape, a long black skirt with a tatty hemline, had stripy red and black tights on, black ankle boots and on her head she wore a large black hat. They were all dancing around the cauldron and making a really loud racket. Melia watched as sparks of pink, green and blue whizzed out of the cauldron.
Suddenly the cauldron burst to life and a pumpkin flew out! It, whizzed into the air and spun around while the witches howled and hooted in glee. Hats were thrown into the air in celebration and to Melia’s surprise, she saw that the witch’s hair didn’t float downwards like everyone else’s, but flew upwards towards the sky!
“Happy Halloween!” they cackled one after the other. It was then that Melia noticed a black cat come out from behind some bushes, perched on a witch’s broom. He drew closer to the fire and waited for his witch to hop on.
“Off into the night’s sky, where the moon is riding high!
Off to meet our destiny and the child who hears our cry!”
With the mention of a child, Melia froze in fear for it was a well-known fact that witches hated children. In fact, in some books, she had read that witches could sniff children out… that they smelt revolting. But then, she was a mosquito, so surely she as safe?
“Through the night as black as fright, as black as sin, as black is white!
Through the air on Hallow’s Eve, through the clouds astride our steeds.
Melia landed on a nearby branch above the fire to listen to the witches chanting. And as she watched, other cats materialised from the bushes in puffs of pink magical dust – a cat for every witch… and in their paws, they held broomsticks, or perched on the end of one, all waiting for their witches.
The fumes from the fire smelt sweet like sugar, and Melia felt herself getting very dizzy. She decided to fly lower and landed on the pumpkin that had flown out of the cauldron before the chanting started. It was leaned up against a tree. She saw a witch close by her singing. Melia watched as the witch’s ugly features seemed large and swirly as the tiredness began to take hold. The pumpkin seemed enormous and bright orange in the firelight. A wand leaned under the pumpkin and it was then that she had a brilliant idea.
Why couldn’t she do a little magic too? How hard could it be? Pink and blue sugary flames befuddled her tiny brain as her mosquito feet landed on the white tip of the wand. But instead of muttering any magical words that she thought she knew, her mind was filled with the enormous orange pumpkin. And before she knew it, sparks flew out from the wand!
Whizzing and popping in all directions! Pink, blue and gold fizzed and crackled as silver balls sprung out from the tip! Squeaking in shock, she fell off the wand. Flapping her tiny wings, she flew frantically to a small branch and hid behind it to watch.
The silver balls began to grow and grow and grow!… they slowly turned orange, and when they were large and Melia recognised them as pumpkins! Pumpkin after pumpkin began rolling along the floor like gigantic marbles, towards the fire. Rolling in circles, banging into each other, bumping into witches’ feet, while the wand spat out more and more silver balls that were rapidly growing into more huge orange pumpkins!
“Uh –oh…” she whispered to herself as she watched as the area became overrun with rolling pumpkins. The witches looked around confused. Where had they all come from? Some of them didn’t care, hopped onto their brooms and took to the skies, and some waited and watched.
“Helga!” one witch shouted with yellow eyes and long black hair that floated up into the midnight blue sky. “That’s your wand! It’s gone crazy! Why haven’t you got it under control?”
“There’s nothing wrong with my wand!” Helga shouted back angrily. She was just about to hop onto her broomstick where her black cat was perched obediently at the tip before anyone could begin to blame her when her moggy hopped off! He carefully strode towards the wand that was still shooting silver balls. His sleek black fur shimmered in the moonlight and firelight. Side stepping the rolling pumpkins, he strolled towards the wand and very closely towards Melia who was hidden behind a bush, she held her breath.
“What?” she shouted angrily….
“You’re a witch…” her cat calmly said… “Tell me… what do you smell…?”
Suddenly the forest fall quiet. The silver balls stopped growing, the pumpkins stopped rolling…the wand stopped sparking and the fire stopped crackling. The silvery moon rode high watching silently.
“I smell … a child…” At her words, it was as if electricity was in the air. The tiny hairs on Melia’s little body stood on end. The witches that had taken to the skies heard all the commotion, they swooped in loops down on their broomsticks, trailing golden magical sparks from behind, yelping and howling in excitement as they landed back down in Hanover Forest.
When she heard his sonorous voice, her knees crumpled. She had to sit. He told her he had something to say. He couldn’t do it by phone. She said yes, she would be there. It had been such a long time. All the things you need to say to someone you no longer see; that had previously crowded her mind, had escaped – she knew she wouldn’t go.
The day came and she spent the morning in bed, watching the world out of her upstairs window. It was a cold dull day; the breeze was blowing rubbish down her street. A lone crisp packet tumbled out of control down the pavement and out of her view. Her net curtains were a screen between her and the world.
Then, without thinking, she was pulling on clothes. It was only as she crossed the road outside of her flat, her body stiff against the wind that it occurred to her she had something important to say to him too. She had been waiting to say it for years.
On the street she was surrounded by concrete-grey and the dull roar from the mid-morning traffic. Huge portly clouds rumbled, threatening the streets below: a promise of a storm, as droplets of rain fell away from rounded dark bellies that hung heavy in the heavens. Strands of her greying hair escaped from the loosely tied bun, and as her hunched form hobbled down the street, her troubled mind drifted. People bustled past her but her eyes didn’t see. Her mind wandered, not realising she had come out of her flat with her bedroom slippers on; she almost glided in urgency on the smooth pavement. And while her feet pushed her on, her milky-blue eyes revealed her missing in action – she remembered every detail.
It was an Indian summer. He was beautiful then, charismatic. His warm summer hair shone as his piercing blue eyes glittered mischievously. He’d smile at her and, as if his warmth was contagious, she’d feel his golden glow touch the deepest part of her stomach as butterflies erupted sending her body shuddering in triumphant tremors.
It didn’t take much to convince her. In those days death could come at any time, but with his suggestion they’d be together forever in some glorious tale of romance, love and loss. They were taking control from the enemy. Even thinking about it made her bristle with excitement. Surrounded by chaos: the black, white and murky grey roared at them in anger: how dare they love! Furious, flaming red splashed at their feet and smeared those who were close, but could not touch them: they were invincible. While death and destruction whirled around them, they stood firm, hand in hand in perfect harmony.
It was all romantically, blissfully real.
…until he looked at her expectantly.
Blinded with tears, a wobbling picture shimmered while memories flooded her mind as icy fingers gripped her tightening chest. She drew her brown coat close around her frame, feigning to feel any warmth it offered – she remembered every detail.
Her heart had skipped a beat as he held her hand – cool smooth fingers wrapped protectively around hers. Her hand sweated.
In her mind she saw his smile. She didn’t see anything or anyone else – it was just him. The tones of his laughter floated on the breeze like music as he threw his head back exposing that neck. White light streamed from the sun behind him crowning him in God-like glory. The sunflowers bowed in his presence as the wind whispered lovingly, caressing his glossy hair. Everything loved him, and she fell in line.
They both signed up for the adventure. Men, women and boys pretending to be older than what they were: all signed up. It was a chance to be heroes, her chance for glory and adventure with him…A memory flashed: blood red, and she grimaced at the scene – she remembered every detail.
Chaos ensued. Screams and shouts filled her ears and gun-fire peppered the ground at her feet, ripping up the soil. Her saucer-like eyes saw all. The steel-grey metallic bird in a smoke filled sky, swastika clearly labelled on the tail. Gone was the serene blue of the heavens, replaced by a stark flat white. Black smoke billowed; undulating and snaking from a vanishing point. It was as if it was building up to some unimaginable height before transforming into some diabolical genie, erupting from the lacerated land.
‘Thuwp… thwup… thwup … thwup… thwup…’
Artificial wind whipped up her fair hair and her eyes squinted protectively. Bodies lay strewn on the cold hard summer ground. Through the smoke and the burning flames she saw snippets of fighting; heard the shouts of men; smelled charred flesh and could taste the coppery tang of blood in the air. Soldiers hung dangerously out of the sides of the metal bird, furiously firing in front of a backdrop of burning buildings. Flashes of light jerked from the noses of rifles in an artificially slowed state as she stared on bewildered. Pushed out the way, she sprawled on the ground grazing her knees on sharp rubble and bits of shrapnel. They stung as bits of soil stuck in her torn and bleeding flesh. The earth where she had stood erupted, throwing a soldier (the one who had pushed her out of the way) forward – she lay there, watching with wide eyes.
No time to scream. Sounds were muffled as her ears rang from the explosion.
A hand thudded dead nearby, bloody and jagged. The wrist bone shattered exposing stark white encompassed by raw red. Scanning the confusion, her frantic eyes searched for him. Among the running soldiers; the shouts and the bodies; the smoke and the flames; she saw him running towards her.
His once glowing golden hair was dirty and messy. His face was smeared with black and dull red, his gun clasped tightly under his right arm. The green on his fatigues were not as bright as she remembered. They looked more of a washed out green – faded, perhaps a light grey. Why hadn’t she noticed that before? The scene played out as a film, slow, deliberate with close-ups of intricate details. The blue of his bulging eyes were sharp as the black pupils stretched too wide. His animated mouth urgently formed words she couldn’t hear through the constant muffled ringing.
Scrambling to his feet he returned fire running while towards her, his dishevelled hair flapping furiously as he ran, his face contorted with fury and pain. A throbbing purple vein protruded from his temple as a bead of sweat trickled down his cheek leaving a clear pale track. Her rhythmical heart pounded in her ears as his steps fell in line with the beat. She blinked a slow backdrop of red warmth. At that moment, sympathy welled up inside her and her heart sank as she wondered how his mother was feeling.
He ran past.
She lay on the grass watching the soles of his black boots disappearing. Mud flew up in his wake. She involuntarily blinked, blank, numb.
Her soaking feet cold, ached as she doggedly turned the corner. Slippers were no protection. It wasn’t far, but she hadn’t been there in years and she was old now.
She tried to forget him every day. She didn’t want to hear from him, until he had called. She didn’t want to see him, until the day arrived. She didn’t want to speak to him, until it was time.
A car horn brought her back to the present. The crash of metal on metal splintered the air as tyres skidded in surface water. Angry voices swore. Car insurance quotes and jingles penetrated her mind. ‘Shopping for insurance deals?’
She had broken their deal. What would she say to him after all these years? What could she say? ‘Sorry’ was on her lips, but the word was burnt ash in her mouth and laced with anger.
The rain gave her new skin, dampening her smouldering sparks.
Lightning seared across the sky, transporting her back to that field where he burned with beauty, eclipsing the sun. And she sealed the pact. She didn’t really understand, didn’t expect him to go through with it. But he did. On that summer day, with the sun shining as it did, and him glowing as he did – she would’ve agreed to anything.
The rain fell in heavy drops now, drenching her frail form – making good on its promise.
Shuddering, suddenly she was back on the battle field. All their friends were dead: time to make good on the promise. He had come back for her… he had pulled her up from the dirt. He had come to save her. She could see it in the black of his eyes; they were hopeless, pitiful, scared and searching for their exit.
In the mine he saw their chance, and with one look, she knew. It was time, but she didn’t know it would be like this.
Grasping her hand, he took a deep breath and momentarily closed his eyes to prepare himself. On opening them, she saw that he was ready. They were a steely blue: cold, calm and determined. Clasping her hand tightly in his, their eyes met. His head nodded slightly in affirmation and they walked… together.
A split second before they stepped, her eyes flickered. She loosened her grip. Releasing his cool hand as quick as Judas kiss, her small fingers slipped from his grasp and she turned and bolted… while he stepped into his future.
Searing pain flashed up her leg and ran straight to her brain. She didn’t look back as the explosion turned everything white hot. Colours faded to nothing, sounds vanished, her pain was gone, and the world she knew faded to white.
He was a veteran now. The blast literally took his face and his legs. Dr Adams said he was lucky. She was even luckier.
She tried to visit him a couple of times, but couldn’t bare his face, couldn’t meet those eyes, knowing what he would ask.
She was a silly girl then, enlisting for adventure. It was a time for change, women could change things, do things, and she was going to be one of those women who changed the world. She would enter a whirlwind adventure with the man she loved. They’d both be heroes. What better place to start than in the war against the greatest evil ever faced?
She was a naive girl. He was an experienced soldier. He should never have asked.
The rain grew heavier.
Her body stiff against the wind. She pulled, out of habit, her coat around her frame as her aged milky-blue eyes scanned the familiar field.
The sunflowers bowed in the wet wind and she saw. His cap covered his burned and blistered skin; a scarf covered his face. His neck healed hard, lumpy and thick.
He turned in his chair to face her. Guilt seeped off her in droves. ‘Sorry’ bubbled up in her throat, but anger and pride forced it back down.
She would hear what he had to say first.
In many ways Monica was like a normal teenager. She had a few spots, went to school, did her homework and flirted with the idea of flirting with the boys from the local prep school. And like all teenagers, she was different.
A deep ancient magic resonated within her bones – way, way deep down in her bone marrow which coursed with an electric vibrancy. She could feel it tingle on the surface of her skin as she stepped out of the shower and prickled with goose bumps. She could feel it sing as the cool breeze from the open window ruffled the tiny hairs on her arms; and when she spread the coco butter over the mounds of anxiety, calming them with a few strokes and the smell of chocolate.
If you looked closely in her eyes, you could see it glistening in the dark depths. You would fall backwards, backwards into an ancient wisdom that few could comprehend.
This could help explain the deep rooted fear that some felt in her presence, for although they did not know for sure, and they could not prove it, they knew – they could feel it.
They knew that she danced with the devil.
We meet Monica sitting cross-legged on the orange carpeted floor on a crisp autumnal Monday morning, watching breakfast TV. Her hair, scooped up into two neat afro-puffs with a fringe that she insisted on having which stuck up straight into the air like an antennae. Wires of light brown framed her crown as she munched on her soggy cornflakes without taking her eyes off the screen.
Her knobbly knees protruded from her short grey pleated skirt while her shins were covered with straight long white socks. Her mum had bought her round-toed, flat Clarkes shoes, and they sat on her feet – black, imposing and stubborn – hardly the height of fashion, but they were comfortable and ‘gave her feet room to grow…’
She shovelled another scoop of cornflakes in her mouth.
Her West Norwood Girls School blazer lay on the kitchen chair and she contemplated ‘forgetting’ it.
But then, it happened. Almost undistinguishable electric blue sparks shot out from her eyes as she detected trouble – she was needed.
A quick glance in the kitchen told her that her mother was still upstairs – probably still in the bathroom. Like a stone statue, she froze. Her senses heightened. She focused and listened. The shower was on. She could feel the hum of the humid heat on her face. She breathed it deep into her lungs, and saw in her mind’s eye the steam billowing in the small white room. Her mother’s hand wiped the condensation from the mirror with a squeak to see her own reflection. That was enough. She could slip out. She would need her mask.
Her ears filled with the screams of the innocent… there was no time to waste. She grabbed her school bag, flicked open the secret compartment and withdrew her shiny black mask. It fitted neatly on her nose, and using her super speed, she whizzed up to her room and changed from her school uniform to a blue and black cat suit with detachable cape.
Time was of the essence. She knew it and so did he.
Opening the window to their small flat, she let in the chaos of the traffic below. Her cape flapped behind her as she teetered on the ledge that was twenty floors up. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath, stretched out her arms and leapt into the emptiness.
The room was still.
Voices from the television told an empty sofa how they could win an amazing £30,000 plus £20,000 worth of modern gadgets.
Steam rolled out from the cracks of the bathroom door, wave after wave of damp curls.
A bowl of soggy cornflakes was left on the orange carpet.
Today, as I was working on my presentation on Dissociative Identity Disorder, the muse nudged me to be more creative. The creative piece I am working on at the moment, is called, Being Merry. Now to be fair, I shall probably not use any of this material for the end piece, but at the moment, I am proud of what I have written and so thought I would showcase it here. What follow is an introduction to Merry’s life, who has Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), or what is more commonly known as Multiple Personality Disorder. She is a duel-heritage character who experiences the world through her duality – always being a half of something, rather than a whole. And so, her makeup exasperates her mental condition. The voices from her past become confused with the voices from her present – it’s all confusing! (But that’s the point.)
Any comments would be gratefully appreciated.
The more I learn, the less I know. The harder I search, the louder the truth trumpets in my ears: that I have lived many lives, spanning hundreds of years, across continents.
Retracing my steps to search for something that was once lost is futile. I know this. Yet I am compelled to search by a force I do not understand. What am I searching for? My sanity; my sense of self. The further along I go along in this journey, the more I wonder whether I had it to begin with.
I am the full stop, the black finality at the end of an exclamation mark; the last at the end of a line spanning back hundreds of years. I am a symbol; a representation; an idea: the product of my environment.
And as I strive to define myself, to become myself, being partly of Caribbean descent, the exact opposite happens. I am losing myself in my blood drenched history. The hands that claw to save themselves are pulling me down into the black abyss. The voices ring out in my head, crashing and careening in a cacophony of noise, and I can no longer differentiate their voices from mine.
I am lost.
I am splintered. The fissures run deep. Within the cracks the pieces have developed into minds of their own – a village full of people with the potential to multiply into a small country. I see the world through fractured, frosted glass.
Sometimes letting the Devil know you’re defiant is all the spirit will allow. Even if you don’t have the fundamental tools to fight him, you are calm in the knowledge that you do fight.
And in the dank darkness, He sharpens his teeth.