Rain

Tears from god. He always thought of that in the heavy downpours. The type where you can feel the stinging weight of the raindrops on your body, the cold water pelting your face. His mother used to call it that, heavenly tears. What was god crying about all the time?

He’d set off into the night just as the first drops had begun to fall. He’d smelt the rain coming, rushing to put on his boots and set out into the village to catch it. He’d grabbed his jacket but didn’t bother with an umbrella. He wanted to feel the water tonight. He wanted to feel something.

The sun had set hours ago and the hazy glow of the streetlights above him blossomed down the road he was taking. Each a branch up out of the dead black road beneath his feet, offering beautiful orbs of light to the angels above him, and who were threatening to leave. He saw how the sheets of the rain splintered across the face of the lights, little streaks through the glow like tiny missiles before disappearing into the void of the nothing.

That nothing welcomed him tonight as he walked. It spoke to him of a new solitude which he was happy to lay his bones within. The night and the rain were pure and wild, base elements that ravaged the world. He’d stepped into them before, drowning once and becoming lost in the darkened forest of his mind.

Tonight he just needed to walk. To smell the fresh air and feel the waters smother his face. The coldness came with the rain tonight also, and he watched his breath escape out into the air like his soul leaking away. He licked his lips, tasting the rain water; feeling the flecks of the divine in those tears shed from above.

The village began to open up into fields at this end, sweeping pastures plunging down the valley where the water would rush and flow like a tide on land, going out in a grassy sea. He heard nothing but the falling rain, but he watched as lonely cars moved slowly off in the distance. Little specs of light, haunting eyes that hovered across the fields where the main road was. What lives did those little tin cars carry? What stories and sadness did the souls within survive. Somewhere tonight he thought, one of those cars will fall victim to strong salty tears. Skidding and colliding somewhere and snuffing out the contents within. Plunging an unfolding tragedy into the lives of those who knew, loved and would now miss those dying embers. Collecting rain water in the crumpled remains of the squashed tin can.

His mind had become saddened as late. His body had struggled to move in the mornings when the alarm would ring in a new day like a gospel chorus. He muscles and bones a defying demon to the angelic blessing of the new dawn. He would lurk in the shadows of life, disconnect from the buzzing beast of the people he knew.

He only stepped out when it rained.

It would wash something away, something out of him. He felt it down on his clothes, the gravity of the water that was pulling down into the DNA as he walked. And he walked through the village, out towards the fields. Watching the clouds and the little lights that blinked in and out like struggling stars.

Then there was his own tired tears, that he could no longer censor. He would cry his own monsoon when he was truly alone. Weeping out to add to the rain until his forehead ached and his throat was sore. He let the ghosts in, and they would pillage his mind. Playing films in his head that he felt were on repeat. Never able to rewind or go back. Never flooded out by the rising waters that surged over everything, all but the things he most wanted most to drown.

He came to the end of the track he’d be walking. The huge brambles and blackberry bushes converged to block the way. Forcing a path would tear at the skin, ripping open the sore and cold meat that had begun to sting in the frigid air and water. So he turned on the spot, pirouetting like a shadowy ballerina in this hidden dark ballet. Watched only by the audience of nature which cowered in the bushes and the trees, watching for him to retreat.

He walked back the way he came, the roads now washing the rain water down the streets and into the gullies and drains. Leaves and litter sped on those miniature streams, washing away the dirt and despair. He wanted to open a vein and let the vermillion river meet these streams. Wash out the leaves and the junk of his heart and wring his organs dry.

Crossing the street he saw into the windows of the Fountain, the village pub which cast cosy a warmth in the sea of blackness. The huge fire was roaring and people stood and chatted around it with drinks in their hands. The windowpanes ran with the raindrops, tiny tears streaking down giving the people within a false sadness. He could not enter there, he could not be like that. The fire and warmth called to him, but he’d been burnt before. Touched by a heat and love that all too soon had smothered and gone out. He could still smell the dying of that hearth, still remembered the splutter and the death until there was nothing but ash.

He hurried on by, the rain not relenting. It still felt good, it still felt like something. Returning to his house, he stood in the driveway, looking up to the bedroom light which had been left on in his haste to depart. The little light behind the glass cast a shaft out into the night, like a lighthouse warning of danger. He took a step forward, and hesitated. Had he turned the light on at all?

He stayed on the spot and let the rain fall around him, off in the distance he heard the slow rumblings thunder. A struggling beast waiting to get up from underneath a mountain. The light in his bedroom switched off as he blinked the water out of his eyes. He dropped the keys he’d been clutching and turned around, heading off back into the night.

Heading off again into the tears from god.

White/Blue – where are you?

‘It was snowing. It always snowed. That’s how she liked it.

The swirling white that enveloped everything, dusting and smothering all in a wonderland. There was more variety in snow she’d always thought. A sunny day was nice, for a trip to the beach or a stroll in the park; but sunny days were predictable, ordinary, and what everyone wanted. Snow, on the other hand created such chaos and difference…..’


With some housekeeping and changes to this blog, this is an update for the ongoing sci/fi short ‘White/Blue‘. Fear not, the lady of the jars has not gotten lost and the girl from Europa has not returned to her planet yet. This serial short story has lain dormant a bit too long over the winter months, but has recently been seized by a new wave of investment. As such, their temporary home has moved to my other site ‘MarkryanHavoc‘. If you haven’t checked this out, there is new content there and more of a showcase for my other works. New projects are underway and a lot of creative plate spinning is happening.
Updates will continue here for their ongoing tale, and it’s about to get pretty interesting. So please be sure to take peek through the blizzard, and refresh where you left them. Enjoy.

(A final copy of the completed tale is now looking to be published in the near future.)

Between the jars: ‘In space we dream’

‘P’erl’ came the voice. Softly, like a snowflake landing on her ear. Her eyes were closed still, she felt the webbing around her body, keeping her in place. She was hesitant to open them, such dreams she’d had, and they were in danger of slipping away if she opened her eyes. It was so rare for her to sleep, and when she did, the night flashes came, robbing her of any peace. She was unusual for her kind. The rest of Europa never had dreams, never suffered the nightmares of other worlds parade across her mind like she did. Calling out in despair and anger. She’d learned not to sleep. She had learned a lot just to live.

It came again ‘P’erl’, a little stronger; this time the other side of her head. Her eyes flickered apart and scanned, she found no-one there. Her room lay beneath her empty and quiet. She hung up in the rafters, encased in the white webbing that held sleep, and dreamless sleeps for everyone but her. She knew the voice now, she had known it before. Her inner self telling her, it was time to go.


They are coming back....The lady of the jars and girl from Europa. New entry coming soon. To read the previous installments check out the story so far.

Leviathan: Of the soul – Out Aug 25th

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Out Aug 25th

Lurking deep within all of us, even those familiar to the stormy seas, dwells the leviathan. The monster in the soul which takes hold when the sun is so easily burnt out. It is the bringer of the darkness, the chaos and the nightmares. Threatening your little raft of life, cast out into the world.
Journey here out onto the sea of poetry and short stories that explore the waves of emotions, horror and sadness. But keep an eye on the horizon, for that little splinter of hope that breaks from the sky.

‘Leviathan: Of the soul’ is a poetry and short story collection covering topics of death, mental illness, suicide and redemption. Hold on against its onslaught.

joojo (1)

W/B – Fishing for light

To read the previous installments, click here

It was not the nature of the lady of the jars to be idle. Though she lived a somewhat idealised life, she was never one to shy away from work. Though her magical abilities helped in many ways, she believed hard work and action were the ways to get things done. She respected the powers that had come alive within, the knowledge that had been entrusted with her. Which is why she was keen to spring to action in helping the girl who had fallen from the stars.

There in her small kitchen, she watched as the girl curiously looked over her book of magic, wondering what they could both share with one another before the end. For she knew an end was coming, and every end had a start.

“Right, I think we’re going to need a little bit of help.” She said, looking deep into the azure wells that seemed etched with blue veins, the lamp light catching her eyes in a hauntingly special way.

“What do you mean?” the girl asked, no fright or reservation gave way in her voice. Just curiosity.

“Well, though we are protected here in my little cottage; and the snow will offer us more protection, there are things outside that I’ve begun to notice that might try and make things a little tricky for us.” The lady said, looking out the windows into the darkened grey beyond.

“Where are we going then?” The girl asked, holding her wrist the lady noticed, her hand spread like a small mirror. The lady hesitated.

“Do you sense them too?” the lady asked suddenly. The girl blushed purple, or seemed to blush, for she was actually in the process of travelling beyond the walls of the cottage. Projecting a version of herself outside to look around.

“I see a man, and things I do not know of.” The girl replied, the colour draining now away from her face.

The lady sighed slightly.

“He will never learn I fear.” She said, going over to the window to take a look for herself. But the snow was thick and heavy, and obscured much of her view. She turned back to the girl. “We need to go to a place where the energy centres collide. We need to conjure something which is much beyond what I can store in a little jar. It’s a place not far, at the centre of the forest. There is a clearing and you will feel it before you see it. It’s a very special place but I’m afraid it does not hold the type of protection my cottage has. This energy, this magic is not owned by anyone. It’s powerful and magnificent. Like the electricity that runs in the big cities. Anyone can tap into it. We can light a room or power a bomb, it’s how we use it that matters.”

The girl looked on, thinking suddenly of her home planet Europa. Where the ice coral was used to power and give life to the subterranean cities. This power was never abused, but cherished; a blessing that had come to them. And then she remembered the coral she had taken the day she left. That which she didn’t need but had spirited away with her. Why she had, she still was unsure of. Something within her had told her to. The same conflicting voices that sometimes forced her to act in ways she knew were different from everyone else.

“Are you okay?” the lady asked. Noticing how the patterns on her skin had changed suddenly, taking on a metallic colouring, covering the skin in an almost armoury sheath.

“Yes, I’m fine honestly. Sorry, I was thinking about something…..This place we need to go to, is it far?” She asked.

The lady watched as the metallic colours shimmered away, and the aqua blue hues began to dance and sway once more. She was concerned, it was the first moment she had seen as if the girl was frightened.

“No, it isn’t far really. But we will need some help to get there, and to shake off that man who is outside and who you have now seen. He’s the gentlemen of the boxes and he thinks you are here to help him with something.” She said.

“Can I help him?” The girl asked.

“Yes, you can. But you shouldn’t my dear. For what he wants helps no-one but himself. Before this is over, I think he will learn perhaps the biggest lesson. For wheels are in motion now that cannot be stopped, even if the destination is still unknown.” She replied, going now to the cupboards in her pantry.

“Oh, I see. It’s funny how we slide so precariously on destiny’s string.” The girl said. The lady turned and smiled at her.

“Indeed, destiny brought you here. And it’s destiny that we can still have a hand in. Come, there are things to be done.” She said, grabbing a bag that was tucked away under one of the chairs. “We need a few things, but I must quickly go and wake Ezra.

The lady of the jars opened her front door, pushing aside the drifts of snow which had built up during the day. Out of habit, she kicked off the snow which had collected over her doormat, revealing a ‘Welcome’ that had been hidden by the snow that the overhang had failed to protect from. Stepping outside, she got a greater sense of what was now out here. She had known the gentlemen of the boxes was around, she had sensed him earlier. But now she felt something else, and she reached quickly into her pocket and took out two coloured vials. They glowed there in her hand and in the dark. She took the red one and popped the stopper out with her thumb. The contents rushed upward and dispersed into a small cloud in front of her. In the blink of an eye the red vapour sped away and around the house. It collected back in front of her and she could see then in the smoke what it was. They had left their mark, staining the ground and the space where they had been.

“Dimian” she said, her breathe dispersing the red cloud in front of her which drifted quickly up into the sky, lost suddenly the in the snow which continued to fall. Dimian were old, ancient creatures which dwelled in the ground. They weren’t necessarily bad creatures, just all consuming. They gobbled and swallowed all the power they needed for their epoch slumbers, consuming vast amounts of previous ancient magic to keep themselves sustained. They did not discriminate on who or what they devoured. The Lady of the jars had her own protections against these creatures, but the sheer number of what she had seen in the cloud gave her pause for thought. Clearly the landing of the girl, and her cosmic concentration had woken them, fuelled them to seek out this treasure trove of power. She would have to be careful.

Inside the cottage the girl went about collecting the items the lady had asked for and adding further layers to her clothes in preparation for their journey. The lady now walked swiftly to the middle of her garden and took the other vial she had in her hand. This one glowed strong with a yoke yellow light. She reached a mound in the middle where a small stature of a boy stood, a fishing rod holding up a huge lantern that flickered out a warming flame in the dark. This was one of her protective elements to her cottage. The boy stood as a guardian, casting his light and power around her little home. But he could also do more than that. She cracked the vial over his head, sending the snow that had collected there up into the air like yellow dust. The vial smashed, but like that of an egg, as the yellow contents dripped down his head and covered his body. With a final flash of light the stone broke away and the boy came to life.

“Ezra, good to see you.” The lady said, as the boy swung the lantern on the fishing pole over her head.

“Brrrrr, it’s always so cold! Don’t you ever have a taste for warmer climates?”

The lady laughed. “Well, you are only wearing pyjamas. But you know me…” She said, a twinkle in her eye.

“That I do.” Ezra said, smiling a little and looking around. “Which usually means there’s a perilous task me for me, right?”

“Got it in one, but this time there is a damsel in distress.” She said.

“Really. Well, I would have put you more in the spinster in danger category myself.” Ezra said, putting the fishing pole under his arms so he could rub his hands together.

“You know, I could move for a more Grecian theme to your statured state, sans pyjamas!” she said, mockingly. Ezra looked around into the billowing snow.

“Alright, alright. Who needs saving this time?” He asked.

“Come, you can meet her and then I’ll show what we need to do.” She said, taking the fishing pole from him and opened the little door on the lantern. She tipped out a little flame which she hurriedly captured in a bottle she retrieved from her pocket. And placed it on the ground where Ezra had stood just before. It glowed in the dark and gave a warmth which melted the snow slightly around it. Looking like a sparking amber jewel in a sea of white.

to be continued…. 

Baptised by the spider – extract from The Projectionist

(Harley Holland – 2018)

A mist encroached the hardening woods. Covering the dead autumnal leaves and foliage in a crisp shaving of ice. Gary Tumnal had found peace in those early mornings where the birds barely sang. He would leave the warmth of his bed and wife for the chance to hike out into the vast forest. She never understood it but there was a wonder out there only Gary knew. It swallowed all the thoughts and pressures of his daily life – giving him a sense of peace. He had scoffed at his wife when she referred to his practice as meditative. It was enough to curl the bottom of his lip up like a snarling mutt. “How could she call me a fucking hippie” he thought. He was a man who knew what he liked. He drank ales and enjoyed lifting weights on a hot summers morning. There was nothing peculiar about him…..

…read the rest here 

For more of Harley Holland’s work, follow the spiders here

W/B – Sunshine and sadness

The sunshine beat down, making the dead still air hum like static. Nothing moved. Nothing stirred. The whole forest and world rested in the maddening heat of the day. She looked up into the sky where this giant tangerine sphere blazed away, and she mopped her brow. She was hot, and sweaty. Moving slowly back towards the sad little row of town houses where she called home. She heaved the panel of wood carefully and painfully slow to her house; the middle one. The brightest of all the little homes. It’s white paint glistening in the hot sun. She thought of her house as the last good tooth in a set of rotting teeth. Rubbish and filth marked the other buildings, faulted by the need for their owners to work long hours just to survive rather than to maintain a nice home.

But she did, and she worked harder than any.

She heaved the panel finally in through her door, propping it up for now in the hallway. She had gotten up early that day, putting her hours in early at the little shop in town where she worked so she could leave before five to get to the wood shop before it shut. She knew the owner well enough, and knew he never did business out of hours. And she wanted the wood today. She wanted to fix the door tonight, while she knew he would be out.

As she caught her breath in her little hallway, she sighed at the cliché of her life so far. Married when she just seventeen, to someone she never loved. Stuck, out of circumstance, to the man and the place for fear of having to start over with nothing. The money her parents had given her was swallowed up before she had even been married a year. Drinking and gambling away her inheritance it seemed was his favourite past time. And she let him; she knew she was indeed part of the problem. She allowed him to drink and stay out because it meant he wasn’t there, at home with her. Punching the walls and putting her down. Complaining and demanding things, and putting his foot through the back door.

She went now for a glass of water, fanning her arms to cool them down as best she could as she made her way to the tiny kitchen. Her house was cool, she made it that way the best she could, but in doing so it was dark and cave like, blocking out the scorching sunlight wherever she could. Their town; plagued by tropical heat and an unrelenting sunshine that cooked and boiled everything beneath it, was something she had come to despise.  She drank from a glass, looking now at the gaping hole in the door panel. An easy fix, and done before. This time she had made sure to get the gotten stronger wood, something that would not so easily be destroyed. But something had been different this time. A part of her heart had splintered and snared like the bits of wood that stuck out now like vicious thin teeth. Her heart, hardened over the years and placed under a cloud of criticisms and chaos, surprised her at making her feel something. Something where everything she thought was numb.

But what was it. Anger? Remorse?

She wasn’t too sure. Suffering so long in the dark, it’s painful to see the light after so long. She mistook the determination for her usual war-time mentality of getting things done, carrying on and making things right. Getting the wood panel for the door, fixing it so there was no longer the yawning reminder of the open wound that was her life. Letting the dank air in. Letting the light in.

Something within was screaming. Something determined to be heard and acted upon.

She filled her glass again from the tap, drinking down the cool water. Replenishing her fluids that had escaped in her long hike from the wood-shop, and the internal steam engine that was slowly gathering force to implore her to act.

And then she heard the door go.

The front door slammed shut, not caught in any breeze that the deadened air around them could muster. He was home early. Must have been a bad day. She heard the yelling in the hall, incoherent cries like the nightjars she passed on her way to work, gathering and chorusing in the trees above. Soon he was there, in front of her, gesturing to the hall way, no doubt the wood panel caught in his way. He looked hot and red, his skin crumpled and dirty; burnt by the sun after the long day in the fields and the alcohol that dehydrated him. His hollowed cheeks, gaunt by a wicked life and bad teeth, threw shadows on his face making him look like an angry red skeleton fresh from the grave. He banged and blamed, flailing his arms around. Knocking things off the kitchen shelves. She would have to fix things, she always did. Clearing up his mess while she slept off his mood.

She ducked more than once, mindful not to be the target of his rage and waited for the storm to die. But she did something then she had never done before. The steam engine in her had reached its peak and burst, empting out years of frustrating and hatred in a single event. She launched the glass she held in her hand out into the air, and watched it sail over the kitchen and smash on the stone wall. She screamed loudly, like one would into a pillow, so loud it sounded like an air raid siren. Momentarily it confused him. He stopped dead, unsure of what was happening. She was usually so passive. So subservient. Afraid to rock the boat which would lead to her to drown in a deep sea of chaos.

But the mouse had roared.

He acted fast, waiting for her screaming to subside. The chemicals inside kicking into gear to save his self-preservation of a life he had constructed. A life where he was the boss. Her grabbed her roughly by the hair, spinning her around and pulling her backwards. He wasn’t a big man, or even strong. But fuelled by fury and drink, he handled her like that of a ragdoll, pulling her free of the safety of her little home. Their little home.

Kicking free the remains of the broken door, and out into the scorching heat. Though the day was heavy, the sun drew up on them, an oppressive spectator in the unfolding drama. She didn’t cry out, too shocked and stunned into what was occurring. She was dragged out to the center of the garden they had, and roughly shoved into the middle, finally free of his hands from her hair. He grabbed a chair that was propped up by the fence, unfolding the deckchair style and placing it on the grass that had shrivelled into a horrible rug of dirt and dry leaves.

He pushed her into the seat. The silence signalling she had gone too far with the glass. Too far, and too brave to have even begun a journey on him. She sat, motionless; waiting and watching to what was to happen. She watched him find some garden trellis string, some she had bought last year to help keep the cucumber plants steady and vertical.

He was quick tying her to the chair, binding her hands and then her legs to it. She began to protest, pleading half-heartedly that she wouldn’t do it again. A lie, she knew she would. She knew then that if there were ever a next time, she would smash the glass on his skull and be rid of him forever. But he was fast, and tied a rag in and around her mouth, keeping it in place with the string. The string, which she felt now digging into her wrists.

When he was done, without a word, he stood back and quickly went back inside. She was left there, in the garden with the sun burning done on her, tied to the lawn chair. But his return was swift, and carrying a bag of rubbish which he emptied all around her and over her. Foul bits of food and muck covered her, lapped at her feet like a garbage tide. He returned two more times, fresh trash spirited from their neighbours houses, to be emptied on and around her. Crowning her as the queen this new tragic kingdom. He threw the last empty bag away and came close, his eyes piercing hers as he bent low. Grabbing her cheeks between her fingers, pressing his dirty nails into her skin, he hissed at her.

“If you ever do that again, I will kill you.”

And he realised his grip, and stalked back inside the house. A diminishing monster, back to the depths.

The humiliation was as bad as the smell, but it was the flies and the sun which were the real torture. She was out there hours, cooking in a putrid heap as the flies nibbled and pecked at her like tiny vicious birds. The sun radiated an intensity that nearly caused her to faint, pushing down like a fiery hand from god.

But she survived.

Woken out of the delirious dreamscape her survival mind had slipped her into by a bucket of cold water thrown over her once the sun had set. He loosened her from the chair, not saying a word. Not able to look her in the eye. Before disappearing out, off to drink and spend more money.

In the aftermath, she collected herself best she could. She cleaned herself off, and tidied the garden to keep the rats from overrunning the place. Despite her nausea she had some bread, to fend off the intense hunger and disgust that brewed and bubbled in her stomach. And then she went to her bedroom, and began to pack. She did not want revenge, no good could come of that. But something had snapped within her, the spun sugar strand of patience had fractured.

She collected only what she needed, throwing it all into a bag and bringing the walls down to this part of her life. She cleared out the little box under the floorboards where he kept money, the one he thought she didn’t know about. She put it back, empty, sealing the box to a grave of solitariness. She stripped the house of her, of the things she needed to go on with. Cutting the cord to an unhappy life here. She stood in the front room, wondering if all her life could really lie crumpled and stuffed in the small bag she held in her hand. And then she saw it, the snow globe up on the shelf. Twinkling away through the dust at the higher realms of display. She had bought it herself, years ago. A winter market in one of the neighbouring towns had brought it into her life. She had been transfixed with the winter scene at the time, like bubbles of snow dancing in a small sea like dust in the wind. It was small, no bigger than her fist. And she had remembered placing it up on the higher shelf to give it a better chance in her life there, out of the danger zone of fists and fits.

She took it down now, unsettling the snow that had gathered in the bottom like pebbles in an aquarium. Should couldn’t help herself, she shook it; making it and herself one with the disjointed feeling of a world in flux. How long she stood there, she didn’t know. No happy memories were there to be collected. Only dark shadows of the past that she wanted to put into the grave.

And then, she left.

The rest was a blur. She left the house, the street and the town. Traveling far on the little she allowed herself to spend. Finally settling in the little cottage she lives now. Currently entertaining the girl from Europa. Unknowing, in part, of the little eyes who watched it all unfold, and the man of the boxes who skulked around her house.

You may be asking yourself why she never used magic to save herself from a life so fraught at the beginning. Or why she never turned her husband fittingly to a bug to squash underfoot. That too is an interesting story. For you see, once she was married, she was taken away from her family, and where she had grown up. The choking rights of marriage had labelled her practically property, and her husband had concluded that she needn’t have many things in their new home. His own were suffice. What her family didn’t know, and neither did she until later once she had left, was that he had used a bit of magic himself in the first place; to marry the lady of the jars who at the time was the girl with the glass like beauty.

This may sound all too convenient and easily explained away, but yes; sometimes life is that clichéd. He hoodwinked them all, sloppily in the end, but had struck lucky one night gambling and had acquired what he needed to enchant her. It wore off of course, but by then she was cut off from her family, and of the aged magic her own mother knew and possessed. Her mind had silenced all she had learned from her book growing up; and that’s the thing about the book itself, it needs to be with the owner. It needs to have a connection in order to tap that power and manifest. More importantly, it needs to come from a place of positivity. A submissive mind is not the soil in which miracles to grow.

But magic, and good magic, finds a way. Which is why the book came to her; posted by her mother when she knew she was safe and free. Knowing the how, or the why or the ways this magic helped find its way back to her, is inconsequential. What we do know is that once she was in possession again to such wonders, she did all she could to block out the sickening heat that reminded her of that horrible day. Which is why it snows constantly there, and why she always feels happier cold and by herself, than hot and suffering, surrounded by those flies.

….to be continued.

To read the full story, click here

W/B – Origins and oranges

Read the full story here

Origins with oranges

To an untrained eye, the book was nothing special. It did not scream magic or invitations to thumb its precious pages. It actually went out of its way to look ordinary. Tea stains and scuffed leather, what looked like dust was really tiny particles of used magic covering the book, misleading vestiges of wonder. She kept her magic bible on the sideboard in her kitchen, next to the wooden spoons and ladles. She usually had a bowl of oranges nestled on top, keeping the vast pages pressed down and crisp, the smell of citrus in the air. A quick glance at the book would not rouse a curious mind, yet within the pressed bits of trees held such secrets and magic; it was practically priceless.

Although she may have handled the book in a casualistic way, the lady of the jars was very careful and appreciative of it. She did not take her powers for granted, and she knew she and the book were intertwined on a fatalistic level. Over time, notes and incantations had been scribbled on the pages, adding a depth and personal quality to the spells.

They moved into the kitchen, the girl now dressed in trousers and a shirt with a huge pullover jumper keeping her warm. The cable knit had been something the lady had whipped up last year, enthusiastically knitting away with love and excitement and creating something which practically trailed the floor. Of course, there were snowflakes on the pattern.  The girl pushed up the sleeves and followed behind her towards the table which sat by the south facing window,  looking out down towards the stream. Snow covered the ledge, but in the misty fog of the flurry you could make out the shapes of the world moving about in their winter havoc.

The lady dropped the tea cups in the sink and went over to her book, picking up an orange with her and heading over to the table. She motioned for the girl to sit down, offering her the fruit while she took her own seat and flicked open the pages. The smell of the paper was enticing, spices and whiffs of exotic breezes drifted from the spine. She scanned the contents, gazing as if for the first time upon the words.

“Imamiah….My, they are rare aren’t they. I know my grandmother spoke of one in her life. That was around the time of the great enlightenment of course. Makes sense. How much darker things have gotten since. My my. People never learn I’m afraid.” The lady chatted, scanning the pages for what she was looking for. The girl watched her, rolling the orange back and forth on the oak table between her small hands.

“How much do you know of this then?” The girl asked.

“Oh, a little here and there. I know you don’t view this process as a death, or an ending.” The lady did not see the girl flinch.

“No, we do not die in that sense.” The girl spoke, almost as if frightened of the word death. The rolling of the orange had stopped.

“No, death is not the end, I believe that also; and I know what you’re here for is not to die; but to become. More like a phoenix. Are you familiar with that?” The lady asked, kindly.

“Yes, very much so. I know of this bird. We have creatures on Europa that dwell in the ice caverns. They are a little like the birds on this planet, except their bodies are frozen vapour that move in orbs which grow. Each year they rise up out of the tunnels and caves to the warmer temperatures where the layers of vapour explode, reducing them down to their original forms. The vapour allows us to breathe, it’s the cosmic breathe of the planet under the ice.”

“Amazing! I always wondered how life operates on the other worlds. You must be at home her with all the snow then?” The lady asked, expectantly.

“Yes, it reminds me a lot of what I do miss.” She said, adding, “But there is a lot to see here too. You for one. I know not everyone is like you. I’ve seen a lot of darkness here before. I only feel light here with you.”

“This world is everything, the light and the dark and the pulls of the in-between. There are good people who make bad choices, and there are bad people waiting to make the right ones. No one is fully lost or beyond change.” She suddenly made a  little ‘Yelp’ Which made the girl jump slightly.

“..ah here it is, Imamiahi!” She said, excitedly, before reading out the passage:

‘Imamiahi are very sacred beings. Travelling across the skies to dwell on earth. Sometimes their trips can be a time and age, others will be gone in a blink of an eye. The Imamiahi will pick the barer, they will travel from the edges of space to come to our material level and offer us the most wonderful gift. Though their intentions will at times be complicated, they are very empathetic and feed off the thoughts, feelings and emotions of the barer they have chosen. Be mindful, your consciousness will not only affect the Imamiahi, but the environment around you with them.  

Their purpose here is always the same, to shed a layer of themselves or part of their celestial DNA that has ceased to operate to any purpose. They are well meaning, and through their own transformation, they impact those here on earth. The shedding of the layer forces time to flux, for deeds to be undone that were negative. A deep- clean of souls in order to go on with a clearer mind for change. For this to occur, certain practises must take place, and must be in place for it to happen…

The lady lifted the page briefly to see what was listed on the next page.

“There’s a notage here.” the lady said, before reading out:

‘Though the Imamiahi will have a choice to decide when this is all to take place, certain things can propel the process to be forced or demanded. This can stem from fear, threat, duress or the instant salvation. In the worst case, this will take place to reduce everything back to the beginning. A time explosion.
As barer, you are the guardian as well as the watcher.

The lady thought on this a second or two, before smiling at the girl.

“Well, prepare for the worst but hope for the best I say. Let’s see what we need to do then. I hope a good only conjuring is needed. It’s been a while since I invoked some of the deep earthy magic.” She said, licking the lips in her mind to the thought of something exciting.

The girl smiled back appreciatively, knowing deep inside she had chosen the right barer for her. She knew she hadn’t told her everything; the book itself said some Imamiahi would have complicated agendas; and hers with a little more than unusual. But she would tell her when the time was right. She looked out of the window to watch the snow fall down, the tufts of white resting momentarily on the glass before bleeding into the drifts already there. She watched the world there in that little cottage, and lifted the orange to her mouth and bit into it like an apple.

   to be continued….

Between the jars

 

 

WHITE/BLUE – SHADOWS IN THE SNOW

Knock three times

The snow that had collected just above the window frame drifted down in a fine powder, dislodged by the loud knocking coming from the door. Inside, they lady and the girl looked over to the door where the banging was coming from. The knock was repeated, this time with more force.

“Stay here, and please; don’t say a word.” The lady said, and the girl nodded in reply, taking a sip from the tea cup; her throat changing colour as the liquid fell inside her, like a fading rainbow. The lady ambled to the door and grabbed a walking stick she kept by the umbrella stand. She didn’t need the stick of course, her bones were weary but her health was fine, she merely liked how it looked walking along in the snow sometimes; inspecting things with a gentle prod. Now, she held a tight hold on the top of the cane (shaped like a giant snow globe) and cautiously opened the door, catching the knockee mid-knock.

“Oh!” she said, a smile widening like that of the door. “Timothy, what brings you this way?” She looked out into the snowy gloom; the disappearing light had blanketed the world in an encroaching grey, like soup lapping at a bowls rim. A small boy stood on her doorstep, his feet in wellington boots far too big for him. He was wrapped up against the storm, but his nose was as red as a holly berry.

“Oh, hey. Sorry, I didn’t think you could hear me, thought you might be sleeping.” Timothy shouted, compensating for the wind by yelling like only a child can. The lady chuckled.

“Well, if I were; I’m sure it would’ve woken me up. Anyway, come in come in.” she said, beckoning him inside out of the cold.

“Is Stacey here yet?” He asked, remaining on the doorstop.

“Stacey? Why would she be here?” She asked him, puzzled somewhat.

“Well, it’s Thursday. You said for us to come for the stories on Thursday, remember? I even brought some biscuits my mum made.” He replied, shaking a small tin he held in his hands, containing, now no doubt, shards of biscuits. “I just wanted to know is Stacey was here yet, if not I would go to her house now and walk with her.”

The lady could see the twinkle of opportunity in his eyes.  Her mind flickered to her calendar and checked the date. Nope, he was a day early. Timothy was always over anxious. She chuckled a little and told him he’d gotten the wrong day. As his face fell she took something out of her pocket. She handed him the small purple glove, its index finger was slightly frayed with a long loose thread which looked like a long woollen nail.

“She left this here last week though, perhaps you might be so kind as to drop it by to her today.” She said. His eyes grew large as he took the little mitten, holding it like a small treasure. He set off straight away back down the little path calling out to the lady as he went,

“Thanks, see you tomorrow!”

The biscuits beyond repair now, flung this way and that in the little tin as he rounded the corner of her fence and disappeared up the lane. She stood and watched him go, enjoying the scene of the darkening light and the heavy snow which spread a happiness inside of her.

But then it stopped. Cut off quickly as she saw the shadows. They reached up and under the little fence she had at the bottom of her garden. Tall and thin wisps of dark, like the fingers of a demon. It all grew suddenly quiet as the wind dropped and the silence that accompanies snow descended.

She couldn’t see him, she only felt he was there. The presence. The energy she could normally feel bubbling way off over the woods, but marked on every page of her treasured magic book. Like a compass it pointed the way to the light and dark, and she felt the shadows creeping nearer and nearer to her. She shut the door hastily, warding off the nefarious nature by her own incantation and signs that keep her little cottage safe.

She never saw the gentleman of the boxes, though she knew he was there. His little eyes peering at her from the trees as he skulked around to her backyard.


Blueberry tart and tears

“What’s wrong?” The girl asked, watching the lady step back inside and lock her door. She was muttering something under her breath when the girl asked again. “Are you okay?” concern showing from a mask which beheld no emotion. It travelled in waves to the lady, she felt it in her bones. Looking over, she smiled back quickly, calmed by her presence.

“Nothing I hope. We’re safe inside her my dear, I just felt some bad energy from outside just now, that’s all.” She said, putting the cane back to where she found it and coming back towards the fire. “I’ll let you know if it builds to anything we need to be alarmed by. But this little cottage can handle a lot thrown its way.” She came back over towards the fireplace, the flames roaring nicely still. “Why, you’ve drunk all your tea. That calls for more, and a little cake too I imagine.” She said, taking a little blueberry tart out of the tin by the tea tray.

“Who was at the door?” The girl asked, curiously.

“That was a little rub of a boy called Timothy Sanderson. He came around today in the hope of tales and stories. But alas, one is being invented now as I sit here with you and might just be finished in time for him tomorrow when he comes back again….and gets the correct day.” She said, sneaking a blueberry tart for herself from the tin.

“I could feel his warmth for you, but also something else. Infatuation?” The girl asked. The lady couldn’t help but laugh at this. Bits of the cake spraying onto the copper coloured rug on the floor.

“Oh my, that would be his growing fascination with a little girl called Stacey Izzana. He really does have it bad. No, me he sees as the crazy old woman who tells stories and feeds the other children chocolates and biscuits when they should be eating fruit.” She said, eyeing up another cake in the small little tin.

“He seemed like a pure soul.” The girl sad, tasting her own cake.

“Yes, they all are the ones that come here. Eager minds looking for adventure and intellect. These books fill them with both, and I’m happy to be the tool in which to help with that.” She leaned forward slightly, inching to the edge of her seat. “But you, you my dear are an Imamiahi are you not? It is you that will bring us that adventure, and the change I’ve felt coming for some time.”

The girl finished her cake before replying, all the while looking deep into the soul of the lady before her. She knew where she was heading of course, before she even left Europa. She knew the journey would be the way it was and what type of soul who would great her when she stepped out of her cocoon. Best laid plans. But the lady surprised her still. The house and the energy was not something she’d come across before. This woman only wanted to help. It was a selflessness that she had not come across in her previous encounters. She could read the makeup of another being like you would read the ingredients on the back of a cereal box. Formulating and registering the light levels that contained within. But much like the box, it could not tell you the taste, the character or how it might make you feel. Inside the girl felt something she hadn’t felt before.

“Yes, I’ve been called that in the past. You are a kind person, I know that; I can feel it.” She said, blue tears leaving her eyes, falling upwards to the ceiling.

“This, this feels like home.”

To be continued……
(read the other parts here)


GHG

White/Blue – Between the jars (I)

(Between the jars – Sidebar to fable)

How to bottle the weather:

The lady of the jars has many of nature’s wonders stacked and stored in her secret room, away from prying eyes (though she keeps the door unlocked). This magical art was not taught to her by anyone in particular. Which perhaps is a shame, as she does like company. Instead, she learnt how to do this from the Guāng-shu, her own little magic bible that was passed down through her family. Pages have been ripped out, new pages added. A suspicious crystalline stain permeates one of the sections towards the back which refuses to be cleaned. Though passed down through her family, the book was never intended to end up in her hands. This may have been to save her from her fate, or because of the doubt in her abilities. But through a series of events that still surprise her to this day, the book was hers when she was old enough to read. And read she did.

Jars fill her little cottage there by the stream. She is forever getting new vials, and jugs and glass jars delivered. Not so much through her proficiency of usage; but lately, more to her failing eyesight which refuses to be remedy by the wearing of glasses. Which leaves the broken jars tipped away in the rubbish, and many a swear word emanating from her little house.

To bottle the weather….

1.    Pick a day that the weather you wish for is at its most potent. The intensity leads to longer shelf life.

2.    Set your jar in a pool of water (this conducts the elements required for storage).

3.    Place a ‘Tan-ya’ stone in the bottom of the jar (imitation stones will not work).

4.    Recite the incantation located in the Guāng-shu.

5.    Channel the power down into the bottle, sealing it quickly. This may take some time depending on the nature of it. NOTE: Hurricanes are decidedly tricky.

6.    Once bottled, swirl the jar until the Tan-ya stone breaks like an egg. This seals the condition inside and prevents escape or leakage.

7.    Store in a cool place where sunlight cannot enter.

As impressive as bottling the weather is, her favourite bit of magic has to be the ‘Dragon’s tongue’. A single little red flame that ignites and burns within one of her little jars with the ability to burn the strength of the smouldering centre of the earth. This she keeps tucked under the blanket in her bed.
Her own little wizardry water bottle.

Read – White/Blue

White/Blue – Part II

(part I here)

Ice on the edge of space

She slept of course, that’s how she’d gotten there. Trapped in a dream that travelled across sky and time. It wasn’t far really, not within her scheme of things. Europa was really the backyard to Earth’s green and blue house; compared to the places she’d been and seen. The trip was quick, a blink of the inner eye for her. Sleeping, forming, and settling into something new in which to emerge from. No-one knew she had left, she made it that way. It wasn’t sneaking out the backdoor or running away, merely moving to the place she knew she would blossom. Unfold in the weighted gravity and expand like the sea coral in her mind.

Getting there was the easy part. She would not miss her home moon, she was not one for looking back. Too many shards of ice poking her into a position she knew she’d outgrown. She had breathed her last and stepped into her waiting transport, bidding a silent farewell to her gods, before becoming one herself. She had shaken her teeth out, burying them deep into the subterranean ice, like planting a seed without the expectation of growth. A silly ritual, one from her childhood. Sealing overt the past and welcoming a new dawn. She’d marked the spot with taldium stones. Smooth onyx rocks that looked like fillings from a gigantic beast. This was all she left behind. New teeth grew inside her as she’d slept in the transport, hurtling across the cosmos as the milk teeth grew and fused together in the depths of space.

Her heart had guided it. The comet that buckled and flayed in the pressures of the vast unknown. Steaming up in the re-entry to a land she’d never entered before. It had lit up the sky across a remote part of china, heralding change and ill omens to the many onlookers who captured it in their eyes as they gathered around their small communal fires. Her heart beat, her skin stretched. Her mind collapsed a million times only to be reborn and steer the transport to that spot. A spot chosen, not for its ease or any strategic opportunity. It was chosen for its sole reason alone, the reason she had left Europa in the first place. It was where the one was, the one who could change her and perhaps, even save her.


Detach and connect

Steam began to gather around them now, the snow and air evaporated temporarily while the remains of the comet and the contents hissed and spewed in the hole in the ground. The lady of the jars didn’t hesitate, she hoped into the hole and began pulling away at the stray tendrils that had not joined the body. She pulled and heaved, working it free and pulling it away like a tooth from a root. Her hands were raw from the cold, but the blue liquid quickly covered them and the pain subsided. She was resourceful, years of chopping wood for her fire and toiling her own yard had given her strength and determination. She lifted the body like a doll off the floor, heaving it over her should; the doll now a sack of flour to be carried into her cottage. Snow began to cover the hole, the marked earth smeared black and blue began to be covered once more in the blanket of white the lady of the jars had always cherished. Soon there would be little evidence of any visitor. It was a secret she was eager to keep to herself, and with that thought she hurried quickly inside.

Closing the door, she took the body over to the fire in her living room. Her house was sturdy, and she could only just hear the howling blizzard outside, the fire crackling over the sound of the perpetual winter. She placed the body carefully, then stoked the fire before taking off her cardigan which was now wet with melted snow and ice. The blue liquid began to slacken, but it did not pool off onto the floor; instead it collected into droplets which lifted up into the air, disappearing like tiny ghosts.  She stood back and watched the transformation, the cocooned being separating into the body of a girl. The hair and skin humming to life with a florescent radiance which faded to healthy glow. The girl’s eyes suddenly blinked open and she sat up. Her eyes, those azure wells that pierced the room flashed and opened up a doorway to another space. A land beyond the stars. The lady of the jars handed her a throw which she kept draped across her good chair, and wordlessly the girl surrounded herself in it. Embracing the warmth and kindness the protection it offered. They sat there in the quiet for some time, having a conversation with no words but levelling out their worlds.

“Tea, that always helps a situation.” The lady said, standing up slowly as not to frighten the girl. The ageless entity that sat on her rug in front of the warming heat. “You stay by the fire, I’ll bring it in.” she said, bustling out into the kitchen. She boiled the kettle and took down the jar of green chai, tipping the leaves merrily into the giant teapot she always had on the side. Though she lived alone, she always devoured copious amounts of tea, and the giant teapot was a testament to it. She filled it up with the bubbling water, and added some crushed almonds, swirling them around inside. She grabbed some small glasses and returned to the living room with the refreshments; popping them down on the side. Though it had been snowing hard and the day was dark, it was now growing darker she noticed, finding the light from the lamp post at the end of her path gaining more strength in the encroaching shadow.

“You must have travelled far, here drink this; it’ll help.” She said, handing the girl a small glass of the tea. The girl reached out with her swan like hand and the lady noticed it then, the etching on her arm. It was a pattern, words even, in some sort of languages; she was sure her book could tell her. These weren’t just dead prints like tattooed skin. The pattern and words swam with life, like a moving aquarium dance of blue hue and light, rippling across the skin, growing strong then faint like a conflicting idea.

“Thank you.” The girl said, reaching for the glass. Her teeth split apart for her to speak, having fused together on her journey. The words were understandable to the lady’s ears, but anyone else from anywhere else would have understood, the language fitting the ear of the listening, wrapping around the mind and settling in the soul. A sweet whisper of a voice, like a feather landing on a petal. Delicate, but hiding a secret strength of flight.

“Are you…” the lady began, but was interrupted by an abrupt and determined knock at her blue door. It wasn’t the pheasants this time, that she knew.


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WHITE/BLUE

(for Naomi and Gina)


The lady of the jars

It was snowing. It always snowed. That’s how she liked it.

The swirling white that enveloped everything, dusting and smothering all in a wonderland. There was more variety in snow she’d always thought. A sunny day was nice, for a trip to the beach or a stroll in the park; but sunny days were predictable, ordinary, and what everyone wanted. Snow, on the other hand created such chaos and difference.

Her cottage was nestled right by the huge stream that swept through the core of the little village of Hamani. It was near enough for her to grab the things she needed from the stores and the like, but just far enough on the outskirts where she could find the solitude and quiet she relished. That’s not to say she was lonely. She was always visited upon by someone knocking on her door and trampling their life into her small little abode. Each day brought something her way, but she always had the choice of opening that small blue door of hers to see what awaited. Some days she would sit by the fire, listening to the rhythmic knocking on the door, picturing not the tired salesman trying to entice her to part with her coins; but instead the small wood pigeons or pheasants tapping their beaks on the wood.

She had been called many things in her time. She wasn’t old, though some days her bones seemed to be. She would bustle around her cottage with the spirit of a teenager, ignoring the small ache in her joints. The cold heightened it, but she would never admit that.

Witch had been thrown her way once. Princess too though, that had been even more painful to hear.

Most saw her as a wise woman with magic, but of the good kind that you knew you were safe to inquire about. She knew the flowers and the herbs, the healing nature of the world that surrounded her small little cottage by the stream with the wood overstretching its reach to her doorstep. People came with their children who would play in the snow and then toast themselves by the fire while their parents would acquire an ointment or potion to help with some pain. Sometimes the kids of the village would come to hear the stories she would tell over huge bubbling cups of hot chocolate. The towering piles of books that dotted her home loomed over all who came there. Hers was a place of possibilities, and it was called ‘Dustings’, and she was the ruler of her own little kingdom.

Though she was an honest soul, people had no idea of the true power that dwelt in her little home. They saw the plants and spices that filled every draw and nook. The witch hazel and birch that swirled in its hued state on the walls. Secrets gained from the botany books and fables that stuck out of drawers and were lodged under table legs. But they did not know, and they never would, of what she kept in her secret room.

It had always surprised her really. No enchantment had kept it hidden, and the noise and light that came from the tiny room at the back of her cottage was enough to entice even the most mildly curious pair of eyes. Yet secret it remained, an indication of the respect many had for her more than fear.

Locked by a tiny key she kept around her neck, the secret room was not large at all. More of a store room usually catering tinned foods or laundry detergent. But here, here is where she kept her jars. Luminous and terrifying, magical and mesmerising. The jars were small really, able to be held in the palm of your hand. Each one filled with light and motion. She bottled them you see, the weather systems. She kept all the aspects of elements, siphoned off into their purest from and bottled. Her own collection of small ships. How she had learned to do this, only she would ever know. But there they are, lined up next to each other on her shelves in her secret place. She would rotate them into seasons, or sometimes calamities. A good thunderstorm would go well with heavy wind and hail.

These bottles were most precious to her, and she never misused them. She was always mindful of the good she could do, and the darkness she would always be able to lighten. Most precious of all were the snow-scapes. The blizzards, and the flurries raging away in their little jars which had cooled to a frosted glass beauty there on the shelf. These she kept in their own section, away from the heatwaves and the monsoons. She would sometimes come and sit by these little vials and watch the dance of the nature there contained behind the glass. A snowglobe of the most literal sense. She wasn’t playing god with her treasures, she was only capturing the beauty of god.

These names the people had for her, she always smiled when she heard them muttered in hushed tones. But to herself, she was always the lady of the jars.


The Visitor

It was a strong blizzard that blew the snow and the ice that day. It blotted out the sunlight entirely, plunging the village in a darkening grey fog. No one left their house except for urgent business, and save for the howling wind, all was quiet. The lady of the jars was anxious, which explained the weather. She would sometimes open up a raging thunderstorm when the bad moods really took hold, but on the days when she was worried, the blizzards came to cover and dispel everything. The paradox of still and motion, certainty and doubt.

She had woken that day with a feeling. Something nibbling at her mind like a bird pecking at her finger. She had pottered about her cottage, finding things to do to occupy her brain. Changing the sheets, dusting the ornaments, cleaning the kitchen cupboards. All to subdue that fretful feeling inside. But her skull itched and her fingers twitched. Something was coming, she felt it in her bones. She knew the something was different, a thing that was to impact her life and change her course drastically. This, in part led to her anxiousness. Though unafraid of change, she worried she might lose her power to bottle the wonders that she had kept hidden and safe. This was the one loss she feared, the change that worried her. Her own priceless art gone.

She looked outside. The flurries had whipped up high on her window and she could barely see to the end of the small path which led to the dirt track towards the village. A lonely lamplight shone off in the distance, the one she knew marked the start of her path. It hummed and glowed pitifully in the blanketing white, like the heart of a huge beast teetering on the edge of eternal sleep. All of a sudden, a loud bang sounded above her cottage. It boomed in through her walls and knocked picture frames off the shelves. She let out a small yelp, and clutched her chest. She knew it was beginning there, on that at snowy day. At eleven o’clock in the morning. She knew, and she suddenly smiled.


Europa down

She pulled open her back door, the wind hurtling inside like an invisible hand knocking through. Though she had control over the weather, it wasn’t an on/off magic that tingled in her fingertips. She knew there was a time delay in which to shift into a new weather pattern. Making the unnatural reasonably natural. She hadn’t even gone to her small secret room to change the weather, her heart was hammering in excitement and she hadn’t bothered. Besides, the blizzard added to the drama that was unfolding in her backyard.

She stepped out into the cold and was suddenly covered with thick snowflakes. Her feet were cold, she had stepped out with only her slippers on, but the pull was hastening forward, caring not a button for the numbing that quickly came in her legs. She pulled her jumper up over her mouth and ploughed on through towards the thing she could see now. She noticed the remnants of stardust peppered across the sky above her. Something had landed and at the bottom of the garden. An asteroid, or could it be…… No, it was alive. Her blood told her that. It pulled and ebbed inside her seeking out the magic of life, seeking out the different.

She made her way forward, her eyelashes thick with snow and ice. He heart was pounding, it drummed in her ears against the wind.

Then suddenly, she was there. Standing over it. In shock for the sight before her eyes. Stardust splattered the snow around. Golden fragments coated the ground and the air, locked in a static tableau of exploding space. The gold drifted off into the air while the stained ground faded to a neon blue. The impact had made a small dent in the soil, like a giant ice-cream scoop and plunged into the earth. At the bottom, covered in stands of blue was what she knew it must be. The fallen. Some called them fallen stars, objects from the cosmos that littered the earth when they tumbled from heaven. She looked in closer, her mind suddenly skimming that book she kept safely locked in her cupboard along with her jars. Then she saw the blue tendrils stiffen, like neon roots tightening around their precious cargo. Bits of snow and dust seeped down in-between each one, melting into a liquid that oozed and formed around the body. Encasing it in a protective shell.

Europa, that was what this is. Her mind had summoned the right passage in her book, she saw it now clearly in the bright blue font that had burst off the page. That book which had come to her from her mother. The secret to her magic and light of heart. It had come before, once before long ago. All the way from another space.

The girl from Europa. Now in a small hole in the bottom of her garden. And she knew there, in the whistling silence that time was short, and things would always be different from here on out.

….to be continued

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A Close call

He watched as his train pulled out of the station, the rain filming over his window, forcing his world underwater. He felt he was leaving, but also that his was going nowhere. How much strength had it taken to board the train? How little they knew of what was yet to come.
The thoughts of all of them stuck to the top of his mouth, fizzing and irritating like a caught painkiller. The chalky taste of unfinished tales and lives he had altered.

The train spend on, the film over the window fleeing faster, washing everything clean but his mind. They left the dirty city and burst into the wide expanse of the countryside. He could see the misty mountains off in the distance. The tops hidden by the clouds and the design of the gods who dwelt there. He remembered his grandmother telling stories of the creatures who dwelt around the base of the Everestian beast, little folk who came to snatch bright shining things and souls. She was always one for stories, but never able to tell the truth. How much of all of this had she kept from him, how much did she pack into that large suitcase and carry off into the grave with her?

The motion of the near empty carriage soothed him, rocking his thoughts back and forth between despair and departure. He didn’t know where he was heading. The train was snaking north, up into the mountainous region, but his body remained deep underground. He was still mining through the hurt to find freedom, despite of where he was being taken.

The memory of the day before found him like a stone is his shoe, irritating him suddenly. He pictured them there, gathered around the small fire with cups of coffee and confused faces. They hadn’t wanted to hear what he was saying. They had hung those flags of favour for too long, and they would not let him tear them down so easily. How could he be sure? They had asked. Was that really what had happened so long ago? Had he done something to give them the wrong idea? All this now swelled inside him like a sickly bile. The actions of a twelve year of raked across a family court. Of course, it was so long ago now, why did it matter to anyone? He heard his mother say this over and over again in his mind. His family leaping like deer to avoid any consequence.

He looked out of the window, trying to focus his thoughts on something else, but for a moment; a nasty jarring moment he had felt it. Doubt. Stabbing him in his chest and needling into his brain. A weaker person would water this seed, allowing the doubt to blossom into tragedy. But he had boarded this train. Packed only what was needed and headed off to somewhere else. These actions warmed his heart, as he knew these were the actions of the strong. He knew then, in the creeping cold of the 10.20 outta state that he would not be reduced by his circumstance. Easy was to stay, and he knew it was always easy to die, but much harder to live.

Little Black horn

 

Horn

LITTLE BLACK HORN

He’s a wounded animal. A dying breed who I keep here with me. I never intended him to stay after the first night. There is no selfishness with Little Black Horn. This is what I’ve named him. He’s a dying breed. I was draped over him, trailing my fingers down the prominent blue veins on his arms.

‘What are you thinking about?’ He asks me. I’m not thinking about the accident. That is what he is implying. I’m not thinking about how frail you have become.

‘That we really should be eating something. You know I want to, but we can’t be laying on top of the bed all day.’

‘Then how about we lay in it?’ He begins kicking the duvet down around our ankles.

‘I really need to eat. Let me cook us something special.’….


(Highly recommended and free this weekend. Click the images for link. For more information on Harley Holland, visit his blog here.)

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Elle va bien

ELLE VA BIEN

 

They jostled onto the train that had arrived with a clankering commotion at the station. The vaulted tiled ceiling of the underground station swirled with the sound of metal, tannoy announcements and tourist hubbub. They train had emptied somewhat, spilling out its human cargo which shuffled towards the luminous sortie signs, the basic words even foreigners understood. Ingrained from childhood French lessons and the trappings of travel. They were able to get seats as the train pulled away and snaked into the belly of the city, passing tunnels and bones of the long forgotten.

The seats were as hard as wood, worn down from millions of asses thankful of somewhere to rest for the short journeys between stations. They were heading down towards Saint-Marcel and thankful too to be getting away from the crush and pull of the touristy hotspots. They watched the other passengers engrossed in smart phones, conversations and anxieties of potentially going the wrong direction. Passengers on life’s train of happenstance.

Opposite them sat a lady, listening to her headphones and glancing off into the train. Looking, but searching for nothing. Her brown hair fell around her face, framing her like a motionless portrait typical of those seen meters above in the many museums dotting the city. She sat motionless, listening to her music as the train swayed and hummed down the line. The only movement was a collection of tears that suddenly began to build and breach, trickling down her face. They watched as she tilted her head down, blinking away the collection of tears and emotions that had appeared. One of them jabbed the other in the side, bringing attention to the scene before them in case it was not being seen or felt for the degree that it was. The audience of empathy which was required. He reached inside his pocket and took out a tissue, hoping it was clean. The crinkles indicated it had been with him all day, but looked devoid of anything unpleasant.

He reached across and gently touched her arm. She looked up, surprised. “Are you okay?” he asked, hoping his eyes spoke to a level beyond the language required. She nodded and mumbled words of appreciation, taking the tissue and dabbing her eyes. A small smile appearing at the corner of her mouth, her eyes shaking away an embarrassment that wasn’t necessary.

She looked above her finding the line map, a tiny yellow light indicated they were at Bastille. The train usually emptied a lot here, and she glanced around seeing those exiting and ones awaiting to board. Her hand found the phone in her pocket and she skipped the track on her music. Her mind was suddenly taken elsewhere as her heart skipped a beat, and the chaos around her ebbed away. It had never been ‘their song’, but it was always one that had reminded her of them. The lyrics so seemingly fitting for what they had, what had burrowed inside of her and warmed her soul. She did not notice the two guys sit down opposite her, the limited space between where their knees nearly met. She was off elsewhere, hearing laughter and smelling them on her bedsheets.

The train jerked, and though she stayed in her memory, it shifted along with the train. It had all crumbled, corroded only yesterday. Smashed liked a teetering tea cup on the edge of a kitchen counter. She could understand things not working right now, she could even acknowledge the arguing. But those had been usual relationship problems. To be told you were no longer needed, that you were no longer welcome in their life. That was what had hurt. She could deal with the packing up of possession and the moving on. Going into work the next day as routine propelled her forward. But she could not take the hurt that had ignited within, perhaps lying dormant for the inventible. That she was never the one, she could no longer make them happy. All that she had to offer, came up short. All those reasons she had told herself why she was inadequate rang out to be real in a horrible realisation of truth, a view she had shielded her eyes from, like looking at the sun. It had swallowed her, submerged her in a grey that clung to her like oil.

Putting on her work clothes, combing her brown hair. Seeing the day instead of cowering in her bed like she wanted. The feeling of detachment and lack lay upon her, making her feel that no one really cared for her in this world. If she turned up to work or not; nothing really mattered in a way. The tears welled and broke forth, streaming down her cheek in a warm river. She had forgotten she was on the metro. Her mother would have been ashamed to see her show such emotion in public, but she did not realise. Too consumed in grief and self-piety that she found herself deep beneath the streets of Paris on a Metro train that ran all day, every day. Until she felt something nudge her arm, softly yet foreign. She looked up surprised to see a small tissue and concerned smiles greet her. She nodded a thanks and was able to cough up “Merci, je vais bien,” and she smiled slightly, knowing it was true.

They grey was still within her, but in that moment a tiny part had turned to white.

Disembark

“There would never be a place where that would feel like home to me.” She said, her hands trembling as she tried to keep herself under control. He looked away, and at that point she knew his decision had been made. Her heart sealed itself in that moment, covering up in a sheath of self-protection she had learned from when she was young.

“You could be happy there Simone, you have tomorrow to unfold and your dreams to come alive. Don’t place your happiness at my feet”.

“Not when they’re walking over me.” She said.

“Don’t be this way. I told you from the start I was leaving, I made you no promise.” He said, a little more determined now after her petulant remark. He didn’t want the hurt to be there, he didn’t want it to show. The pain he was causing, he was happy to ignore if he couldn’t see it; cover it up and sweep it away like the good intentions he’d had. Those intentions were always to live in the moment and not dwell on the future too much. But Simone needed that security of tomorrow. She needed to know he would be there, not just when she needed him, but even when she didn’t. A static presence in her life, like a lock on her door to keep her safe.

“I’m sorry, if that means anything to you.” He said, and her eyes bore into him. Scanning his conscience like a metal detector, sniffing out a lie.

“I think you believe that.” she said, and her tears began to drip out of her eyes, lifting off in the zero gravity. Floating out into the planet’s green atmosphere. She was hoping this day would never really come, but when it did, he would change his mind. He would see the love they had, and the love she had for him and stay. Push away all the pullings of the other life and reasonings of leaving and just stay. Be with her and let them carve a life out together. A part of her knew he never would, but she had wished and prayed and begged for it be different. She had read in a book once that she could change her fate. What she didn’t realise was that sometimes you got what you needed, not what you wanted.

As he went to kiss her, she pulled away. The moment hung like Christmas decorations in January, gaudy and out of place in the grey. He turned, but all she could see was the blurry colours of him departing as the tears bubbled in her eyes and she wept at her loss. A pain that quickly stabbed and settled within her as his rocket left forever.

IMPERFECT, IMPERMANENT AND INCOMPLETE

She walked steadfastly onto the platform, her mind a buzz with silent yearnings to hear her name again over the muffled crowd. But it did not come. So she stood on the platform waiting for the train as a tear ran silently down her cheek. Only when the train had arrived and she’d boarded did she glance back to where she had left her.

She was nowhere to be seen….

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And though a part of her would always be incomplete, she smiled in that moment, knowing that she would never be more beautifully damaged in a thousand lifetimes; and never wanted to be anything else.


Taken from ‘Imperfect, Impermanent and Incomplete’. Part of the short story collection ‘An Impermanence of things’ – Out now in eBook and Paperback.

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Kiss me like a stranger

How long had she been driving? The sky above her was threatening the night, while bullet lights of passing cars pierced her eyes. She had left that morning, surprised by so many things that were happening, but no longer surprised by being surprised.

She had packed up things so quickly. Everything swept away with such ease she felt she could be erased from life in a blink of an eye and no-one would notice, no one would care. A part of her doubted she would even go through with it. But down the highway heading out away from town she smiled to herself, a scared secret smile that she was doing the right thing. Not the best thing, this would not make her instantly happy or even make the pain stop. But it was the right thing to do.

She yawned theatrically, and pushed her hair back catching her nail in some of the strands. She opened the car window for the cool air to wake her up a little. Her phone had been switched off since she’d left, she knew there would be endless calls and texts until she was located; talked around and called back. She was happy to silence that. The radio rang out, lifting her spirits as the night closed in on that highway which was getting more isolated. The lights in the distance were getting further apart and she knew she was hitting the ‘Quietlands’, the stretch of road that coursed through a mini desert with nothing of interest on either side of her.

She was getting tired, and she was hot still, even as the day’s heat descended. She felt grubby and sweaty, her back sticking to the seat of the car as she zoomed away from her past. She knew her destination. She had had it planned and etched I her mind for years now. She knew which road to take and how long it would be until she got there, and she planned to drive through the night to make it.  Her eyes were getting heavy though. The lids dropping like a shutter to a store closing for the night.

She took a right turn down a road she knew was wrong almost instantly. The silent highway tarmac gave way to a rough dirt track which snaked around the cactus and mounds of earth. She stopped suddenly, releasing she had gone wrong and put the car in reverse when he spotted some dim lights up ahead. They weren’t moving, and she guessed they were pulled to the side of the road. What a shitty place to break down she thought and put the car into gear and drove slowly up to where the other one was parked.

She pulled alongside the car, which she noticed too was the same model as her own. At least she might be able to help fix it, her own car had given her quite a few problems over the years, and she always carried a spare of everything. The sun had disappeared over the horizon now with the slither of light hanging on to the blue black sky. Though the lights were on, she couldn’t see anyone at first.

“Hello?” She called out, though the open window of her car.

It was then she appeared.

She floated as if on a sea of crimson, her red dress puncturing the sandy track like blood slashed across flesh. She came from the bushes, her hair immaculate with a faraway look in her eye. Jessie was a little taken aback, but she called out again; assuming she had not heard her as she had not replied.

“Hello, do you need some help.”

The woman smiled and carried on over to her car where she knelt on the wound down window.

“Hey. What’s up?” She said, as if meeting on old friend.

Jessie looked at her through the dying light of the day, framed in her car’s window pain. She was everything she had wanted to be once. She looked immaculate, like she was stepping out onto the town. She wore a confidence that married her friendliness well, the two playing out for the audience of anyone.

“Do you need help, is your car broken down?” Jessie asked, smiling encouragingly.

“That piece of shit? It’s old, but it’s working.” The woman replied, giving Jessie the once over.
“Oh, I thought you might be in some sort of trouble?” Jessie asked, making it a question.

“Trouble?” the woman asked curiously, and laughed a little. And with that she turned around and walked back to her car.

Jessie watched her, momentarily unsure of what to do. She then suddenly felt the urge to get out of her own car. She unbuckled her seatbelt and climbed out of her dusty machine which whirled and deflated after the long hot day.

“What’s your name?” The woman asked her, as if beckoning her over. Jessie made her way over to the car, the same colour as her own yet caked in dirt as if it had emerged up out of the sand.

“Jessie, how about you?” She replied. The woman had jumped up onto the bonnet now, sitting upon it like a kid.

“Where you heading?” she replied, avoiding the question. Though Jessie didn’t feel any danger, she didn’t want to tell anyone where she was headed. She knew once the world knew, it would throw up things to pull her back. Back to the life she never had wanted to live from the start.

“A long way away. Listen, if you do need any help, I’m happy to assist.” Jessie said, listening to the desert around them open to the twilight.

“You running away?” She asked suddenly.

“No.” Jessie replied defiantly. She saw something then flash in front of the woman’s eyes. The same defiance that twisted and churned in her own belly. “No. I’m making some changes for the better is all.” She added.

“What’s so bad that you’re leaving behind?” She asked.

“Urm…listen, if you don’t mind. I need to get going. So if you do need any help, please say.” Jessie said, politely but firmly. She was always one to go along with what people said and wanted, but she was indeed trying to make some changes in her life and now was a good time as any.

The woman cast her eyes down to the ground, while she toyed with the sunglasses she had in hand. As if finding what she was looking for there, she looked up at Jessie.

“Is it Jack?” The woman asked suddenly. Flaring her eyes. Jessie glared at her, not sure of what was happening.

“What?” she asked, a slither of understanding falling down from the sky.

“Or is it slowly seeing the dream you dreamt back when you were only twelve, wither and die like everything out here. Cooked and charred in the sun until it blows away into time?” She said.

Jessie stared at her, sensing something familiar. She looked at the car, the licence plate covered up in dust and dirt. She looked quickly into the passenger seat, spotting a duffle bag and vanity case.

Suddenly the woman jumped off of the bonnet and came towards her, grabbing her face and kissing her quickly on the mouth. Jessie couldn’t help it, but she closed her eyes; tasting the watermelon lips and feeling the hazy intensity. She pulled her in close, cocooning her away from the world in a moment where all made sense to her. Her mind flashed back to her old house, the smell of takeaways and the cheap cologne.

They parted as suddenly as they begun, Jessie knew then what she needed to do. She dropped to the floor and grabbed the largest stone she could find. Picking it up, she launched it over and over again into the woman’s skull, battering her down into a scarlet pulp that matched the inappropriate dress she was wearing. She threw the rock off into the buses near to where the other car was parked and then returned to her own. Her hands were shaking, and blood smeared onto the steering wheel as she turned it around and sped off back towards the main road. As she glanced in her rear-view mirror, she noticed the headlights of the other car had faded, snubbed out like the life of the woman who now lay in the dirt, beaten and crumpled and gone from this world.

When Jessie got to the main road, she turned right, accelerating hard into the direction she had been heading before.

After a few miles, the blood on the steering wheel had faded away and her breathing had now returned to normal. She reached over to her own small bag she had on the front seat and took out her lipstick. She smeared the scarlet shade across her lips, puckering in the mirror as she sped off into the night. Determined more than ever to get away, and to get to the place she had planned to in her dreams for years. Not looking back once.

Her own universe

Tuesdays were always difficult. A problem day. A nothing day. All the things wrong in her life seemed to have occurred on that second day of the week. Second for her at least, some people she knew classed Sunday as the first day. What did they know she always thought? She could always gauge how one Tuesday was to unfold anyway, the motivation of Monday dripped away by the evening, making way for another mediocre book-end of days that collected on the shelf of her life. But this Tuesday was different. Different in a similar sort of way, like driving down a road that you’ve never been down before, yet knowing there will be a dead end.
The rain had done it’s best to encourage her to stay at home that day, the wind whipping up a sizeable storm outside her windowpane to keep her safely tucked inside watching the world come to a watery end. The promise of a good book by her small cosy fire was not enough of a lure it seemed, to keep her from going over to see her mother. She lived on the other side of town, which in itself was not a large body of houses, you could cross to the other side in about ten minutes by car. However, Jackie didn’t own a car and she didn’t drive. She was much too anxious to be let loose in a world where maniacs were given licenses to speed along invisible racetracks.

So that day, the Tuesday day; she braved the weather and made her way to her mother’s house. She was prepared for the storm, and had dispensed on the cumbersome umbrella that would no doubt pick her up and whisk her away to Oz. Instead, she was bundled up so tight and so well she looked like a yeti wading through the small streets, caring not to the cars that splashed by her on their own personal adventures.

She’d had the ominous feeling since breakfast, that something was out of sync that day. The weather was the first warning, the second being her hands which had been shaking since she had tried to spoon the cornflakes into her mouth for breakfast. The tiny pieces of cereal had fallen all around her bowl like tiny bits of cardboard on a craft mat. She’d taken a pill and all had seemed fine, though she couldn’t shake the feeling. It stuck to her like the film of milk left on an emptied glass.

She thought more of it now, watching a black cat dart out from under someone’s parked car on the side of the street. Unaccustomed to being out in the wet weather, it glared at her as it made its way to the safety of a porch of the house she passed. The feeling was itching away at her insides now, and she quickened the pace towards her mother’s house.

“Mum, it’s me” She called into the small little cottage. Her mother never locked her doors, refusing to believe she was living in the 21st century, still half expecting friendly neighbours to pop in to see how she was doing and borrow sugar. She closed the door and locked it firmly behind. “Mum?”. But there was no reply. The house wasn’t quiet though. It groaned and shunted in the storm, and in the rooms away some pipes gurgled into their own orchestral concert. She took off her jacket, hanging it up on the coat hook by the front door. She passed by the picture of her father, nestled into a neatly polished silver frame, greeting anyone who entered her mother’s kingdom with a smile and a look of knowing.

At her feet she felt Apollo brush past her, gliding through the hallway like a streak of fur. Her mother had had her since she was a kitten, given to her by one of the ladies she played bingo with down at the village hall. She’d always said she was more of dog person, but she secretly, Jackie suspected, adored that cat; who took great pride of place throughout her mother’s well organised life. Apollo meowed noisily and scuttled off towards the conservatory.

“Mum, you about?” she called out again. Holding back the alarm now that had convened on her feeling of ill and dreed since the morning. She followed the cat to the back of the house, the rain thundering hard down onto the conservatory roof, tining and thundering through the back room.

There she saw her mother, slumped on the side of her high backed chair. A stranger would have guessed she was sleeping, but Jackie knew her better than that, and though she couldn’t help it, she hung back for a moment, bracing her emotions for the tidal of grieve that was to come.

There was a slow rumble of thunder coming from outside, the ferociousness of the storm was waiting in the wings still, about to set forth it’s lasered dance of lightning and noise. She brushed the loose hair that had fallen over her mother’s face, the greying sight of age that hung loose and lifeless. Her eyes were closed she noticed, and a huge part of her was relieved to think that she had felt no pain.

She was sat in the centre of the conservatory just by her huge astromic telescope that she had bought herself a few years ago. Anyone who came to the house always thought it was decorative. The type of thing high end department stores sell for obscure aesthetics to those with more taste than knowledgeable inclination. One look around to spot the kitschy frog ornaments and dusty fake flowers would be enough to tell you it wasn’t one of those. This was an actual telescope, and her mother simply adored star gazing. She would sit out here, and sometimes in the garden on the warmer nights, and gaze up into the heavens. She knew all of the constellations of course, and would set Jackie’s niece Angela on her lap when she came over and try to find the planets for her, even in the day.

Her mother sat there now, an empty shell in that high back chair, her hand on her notepad with some scribblings of her night’s recent gazing. Apollo jumped up and sat on her lap, wafting the smell of her perfume up into Jackie’s nostrils, flaring up memories and loss. She cried there then, for about twenty minutes, her hand in her mother’s as she said her goodbyes. She wondered what to do after, going over to her mother’s phone in the kitchen to ring her brother to tell him what had happened. Seeing in her mind’s eye the next 24hrs unfolding in a terrible depressive snapshot of time.

She put the phone back in its cradle and instead went to the kettle and made herself a cup of tea. She sat with her mother for the rest of the day, until the sun slipped out of the sky and darkness descended. The storm had long ago blown itself into oblivion, making way for the tranquil stillness that comes after a hurricane. Jackie had done the same, allowing the moments and thoughts of despair to be swept away in the stormy waters.

She looked up through the telescope to see the stars dancing above in their diamond beauty, and then she got to work.

She reached up through the telescope and grabbed the black duvet of space. Some stardust sprinkled her hands like glitter off a birthday card. She heaved and pulled and dragged the galaxy down to earth where she and her mother sat in that conservatory on that infamous Tuesday. She tugged and dragged, scaring poor Apollo with her grunts and sighs, who dived behind her mother’s cardigan which she had wrapped around her body, stiffening slowly as she slipped into rigor mortis. When she had what she needed, she drew it around her mother, blanketing her in the sea of stars. The ones she had longed for all her life. Wrapping her tightly like a swaddled child, in a stars and space. Keeping her safe forever in the place she loved.

A linguistic form that can meaningfully be spoken in isolation

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Prophet

Stepping into the church after so many years made him hesitant at first. He lingered in the doorway like an uninvited guest, hovering on the threshold. Some tourists excused themselves in broken English as they brushed passed him, entering the cool relief of the stone sanctuary away from the blistering hot sunshine outside. Holding his breath, he stepped inside; glancing quickly high up to the ceiling as if looking for God.

The church was quiet, despite the added tourists who had passed him and who were now inspecting one of the older tomb covers towards the rear of the nave. He turned in the other direction and made his own way towards the collection of remembrance candles which twinkled out from a small alcove. Despite the sunshine which streamed in through the stained glass windows, the small candles held their own air of magic and brilliance. Tiny twinkling eyes danced together in their own little rhythms. They were why he was here today, the only reason he would ever step inside a church.

He noticed the small donations box propped up next to the candles, the unlit ones lumped together in a small metal box like a collection of teeth.

‘20p per candle’

The sign suggested, though whether this was indeed a suggestive price or intended one he wasn’t sure, either way it didn’t matter. He dropped the £2 coin into the metal coffin and was saddened to hear its solitary ring out from below. Clearly not many people needed remembering today. He picked up a candle from the box and then turned suddenly to the sound of footsteps behind him.

“Good afternoon.”

The old man said, smiling at him as he came towards the stand where the candles were. He wore a trench coat that did not suit the day’s weather, and he carried a hat in his hand as which he held down at his side. He was dressed for November, not the glorious spring Elysium that covered the world outside the door.

“Afternoon.” He replied in return, smiling at him, though annoyed he would have to share his moment with someone else now.

“Lovely day isn’t it?”

The old man had stopped a few feet from him, and seemed eager to engage in a conversation. Though annoyed somewhat, he had no intention of being rude and instead smiled and replied to him.

“It is indeed, a little too warm for me though.”

“This little church provides a nice little oasis from the outside world I find.” The old man said.

He nodded in agreement.

“Yes it does. Sorry, did you need to get to the candles too?” he asked him, motioning out of the way to where the candles lay.

“No, thank you. Please carry on. I didn’t mean to disturb you too much.”

“No trouble. I was just lighting a candle for my mother. It’s her birthday today.”

“I see. I shall leave you to it then. Though I should say, we never truly know what is coming our way, and must always prepare for the worst; but hope for the best.” He said.

He looked at him a moment, unsure of what he meant.

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, just being philosophical. Please, I shall leave you in peace. Enjoy your day.” The old man said, and he suddenly turned and walked away, his loud jacket echoing off the small stone walls as he departed down the church.

How odd, he thought. He watched him go, then turned back to the candles that lay before him. Only a few were still burning brightly, the others dying out and completing their mission and sending the prayers into the sky. He held the small candle by the base and stuck the wick into a bright burning flame. The wick inhaled quickly, bursting into life. He placed it away from the others on the rack, letting it glow in its own lonely beauty. He thought of his mother, who had died a year ago. He watched as the wax dribbled down the side and remembered her quiet tears when she’d heard she was going to die. The cancer that had lain within her which had accelerated with an ungodly speed, to prove salvation impossible. His mother, his rock; gone practically overnight.

He closed his eyes and prayed for her, thinking how devoted to god she was and knowing if anyone were to be in heaven, it would be her.

The tourists who had entered before him had found their way to where he was now. Their foreign tongues licking at his neck signalled him it was time to leave. He turned and left, making his way towards the door, dropping a pound coin in the donations box near the entrance; but never looking down the aisle towards the alter, or taking in the sad pictures of the saints that peppered the walls.

He pushed the huge doors open, shut since his entrance into the small church on St. Collin’s street, and stood just inside the doorway. Nothing divine was calling him or pulling him back. There was no need to sprinkle himself with holy water or skim the bibles in search for a hymn to ease his soul. He stood in the doorway like a kid on a dock, because it had just that second started to rain.

Thumbing the pages

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