Quiet… writer at work…
I came in from doing a bit of gardening and caught Anita napping!
I came in from doing a bit of gardening and caught Anita napping!
Kate’s days were too long, the nights never ending. She didn’t belong in this life, this face, this body. It was all wrong.
She had wished for death many times, and it passed her by so often. It cheated her yet followed her everywhere. It whispered to her. Black thoughts plagued her dreams, monsters wearing the face of her mother, brother, husband. She wished such evil for them and it had returned to sit like a monkey on her back.
Kate heard the teasing voice in her head and chose to ignore it, wondering again if she was going insane. Why was it still pestering her after all these years, why couldn’t it leave her alone?
None of what it said ever made any sense, so she filed it away in her mind as some sort of deviance she must have been born with, like colour blindness.
Friday had been a busy day like any other and Kate was tired and ready for bed, ready to forget the day and switch her brain off, but the heartburn that plagued her all day seemed to have another agenda.
Pushing the unruly mop of curly hair away from her face, she studied the canvas in front of her, trying to decide if the painting was good enough; or if she was wasting her time trying to be creative when she felt like crap. It had most of the elements her customer loved so they should like it. A stunning waterfall was the focal point of the picture with ethereal greens and blues in every shade imaginable captured in the white froth of the spraying water. The image seemed to shimmer and move the more you looked at it.
She knew the place well, it was in Cornwall and she had been there many times. It was a truly magical place, for you could climb up the rocks and get close to the falling water. Close enough to get soaked, she thought, smiling at the memory. She knew she would have to go there again, and soon.
There was something about water; it seemed to communicate directly with Kate’s soul. She loved nothing more than being near, or in it at every opportunity. A simple boat ride would be so much more special if she ended up soaked to the skin. She didn’t tend to analyse it too much though, water had the power to make her feel good and paint extraordinary artwork. This transferred to anyone who loved her paintings, and that was all she cared about.
Deciding to call it a night, she took a last look at the canvas, reasonably pleased with what she had accomplished. The wet paint glistened like moonlight on the water, and she wished as always the effect would remain when the paint was dry.
In the beginning, she thought the voice just wanted to confuse her as it kept telling her what to do, or usually, what she shouldn’t do.
Why was it she instinctively never took any notice of its instructions, or the seemingly sincere appeals or sarcastic quips? She knew from experience to refuse to cooperate sometimes led to a disaster of one kind or another, but something other than the voice told her that to obey was more than her life was worth.
Either way, she seemed powerless to do anything other than follow her own instincts, even when she knew deep down she was wrong.
It was almost as though she was meant to fail, to suffer. To know and feel just how stupid she was, as though she was born with something missing. She often wondered if the voice was, in fact, the devil, because sometimes it would seem as though it was. All that medieval temptation and mysteriousness – it could well be, she thought, but what was its business with her?
A small part of her brain always sympathised with the Devil. He had been cast out too hadn’t he, fallen from grace and all that? They did seem to have a lot in common. It didn’t explain why this voice had been annoying her for most of her life. There was no reason she could see or imagine, or was it the only thing that listened whenever she prayed for help?
The voice didn’t seem evil or cruel to her. Sometimes there was something else just underneath the surface; something she could sense, but never strong enough to make her toe the line. She never obeyed the slightest suggestion, and despite the consequences, she didn’t intend to start now. She often wondered if her life would have been any different if she had, or would it have been worse?
What could it possibly do to her anyway? It was just an annoying voice in her head and couldn’t hurt her, could it?
She finished her cigarette, stubbing it out in the overflowing ashtray and looked at the painting again. Oh well, she had done enough for one night. She wiped the paint from her fingers with a piece of rag that smelled strongly of linseed oil and made her way to the kitchen.
The indigestion was developing into razor blades in her stomach and she pulled a face. Why was it bothering her now? She used to suffer a lot in the past when she was worried or going through yet another crisis.
Lately, though, her life had evened out and that was just as well for she was getting too old to put up with any more trouble. She was moderately happy and free from problems; at least she thought she was. There was no annoying pig-headed husband to drive her nuts anymore, no pestering family turning up at inopportune moments. She was her own boss, doing something she loved. If she could just sell more of her work, it would be perfect.
Then she could move to a remote island, somewhere she would not see or hear other people with all their noise, but she was content for now.
That’s if she could just get this indigestion to sod off.
While she was making the last cup of coffee before bed, she took another antacid tablet, hoping to knock the heartburn into submission so she could get some sleep.
A wave of nausea and dizziness hit her and she clutched desperately at the worktop, wondering how long it would last this time. This wasn’t like before; she felt hot and seemed to be moving in treacle. She sat down on the nearest kitchen stool, hoping it would pass or just ease off as it had in the past, but if anything she was feeling worse by the minute. There was no pain, apart from the heartburn which was trying to burn a hole in her chest; and when she checked her pulse it was dancing all over the place, seeming to stop altogether for long moments as she frantically tried to hold herself together.
This can’t be happening now, she thought. Was she finally going to die or was this just another one of its games? She didn’t care anymore, she just wanted to stop thinking and feeling. Just stop.
The voice was busy telling her that she needed help, but Kate didn’t want to listen. Please just go away and leave me alone. She didn’t need any insidious remarks tonight.
As she sat there, trying to decide what to do, Dylan, her silver tabby walked into the kitchen and wrapped himself around her ankles.
‘Hello boy, where have you been?’ She hadn’t heard the cat flap so he must have been asleep on her bed. He nuzzled her hand and stared up at her as if he worried about her. She loved him dearly but other things were on her mind just then. ‘I am okay, go back to sleep.’
She was probably right, this was nothing new. She had been having these ‘turns’ for a while now and they always stopped before. As she sat there, she began to realise that this time something was wrong. She was sweating and sleepy, and a strange thing was happening to the indigestion. Instead of the annoying pain of heartburn, it was turning into a clamping grip of iron that threatened to get worse. It was time; it seemed, to call an ambulance…
Through my window, I watch the three hazelnut trees across the road from my house. In the autumn, the leaves change colour and fall and the old bird’s nest comes into view. In the spring, the pigeons fight over it, bringing new twigs. Soon the green leaves will cover it over, but I can still see the pigeons sitting on the nest waiting for their young.
Magpies love to walk along the wall behind them and sparrows cling to the wall, searching for insects. Starlings dance in the sky in front of my window in a murmuration of joy.
Along the road to my right are two almond trees. I cannot see them from my window until the blossoms begin to fall, blowing past my window. Nature’s own wedding confetti.
It is peaceful until school starts again and hundreds of children pass by, laughing and playing, pushing each other into the bush by my tree.
I watch the planes and helicopters on their way to mysterious places, along with the ducks that fly over on their way to the pond.
I watch neighbours awaiting the birth of a child, seen the new pram, watched the child toddling, and then wearing a school uniform for the first time.
The postman who always waves to me on his way past… all life lives outside my window…
© Anita Dawes 2018
This is my third week of suffering the effects of the flu and I can honestly say I haven’t known anything like it before in my life. I have had some spectacular medical incidents in my time, heart attack, cancer and other delights. I even had something called Asian flu, which nearly saw me off when I was a child, but I don’t remember ever feeling as bad as this before.
I was the last one to fall foul of this virus in our house, smugly watching everyone else as they coughed and sneezed their way through hell and back, confident that I was made of sterner stuff and not likely to catch it.
But I did.
It has been nearly four weeks now, and I don’t think it has quite finished with me yet. The violent headaches and the coughing have eased a lot, but the nausea shows no sign of abating. Everything still tastes foul, even the water from the tap.
I don’t remember much of the last few weeks as I have slept so much. I have lost weight too, in a way I wouldn’t recommend and still have no appetite. I have tried to keep up with the emails and comments, but anything-resembling blogging just hasn’t been happening. At first, I didn’t argue, not being anywhere near well enough for that, but gradually I have begun to feel guilty. I supposed this could be a sign of recovery, but no matter how bad this guilt feels, I haven’t been able to get the brain to cooperate and come up with anything interesting to blog about. I haven’t been able to read either and that wasn’t best received either.
So, feeling just a tiny bit better, I thought I would try to write something. However, even as I sit here, my fingers caressing the keys, my eyes want to close and my brain slowly begins to slide into semi-consciousness.
But wait a minute, what is that strange feeling stirring in my head? It seems to be an idea for a blog post…
Maybe normal service will be resuming after all…
The Enhanced league is a collection of short stories and anthems centered around a year in a fictional baseball league. It has a slight science fiction background. This league has a lot more pomp than you might be used to, and nobody seems to care if the players use performance enhancing drugs.
Stories involve existing heroes, up and comers, and falling stars. While there are the obvious stories that take place on the field of play, there are also human interest stories that take place around the baseball gyrations. These stories involve scouting, trades, ruthless business decisions, and even relationships.
I enjoyed researching and bringing you The Enhanced League, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. – CB
I love the way Craig Boyack writes, I swear he could make the phone book interesting, so I was keen to read his latest story, which is all about baseball!
Not that I know much about baseball, but I knew the author would have included amazing characters and serious twists into it. The Enhanced League is the story of a baseball league where someone has thrown the rulebook out of the window. Nothing is as it should be, but far from being far fetched, the story line is eerily acceptable thanks to the author’s persuasive command of his writing!
At first, I thought this would be a collection of short stories, as these are something the author does really well. Instead it was a fascinating blend of characters, highly unusual situations and a hidden plotline, at first separate, but melding into the whole at the end. This was altogether innovative and made for a fascinating read.
About the Author
I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.
I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.
I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.