Kate has welcomed death from an early age. With no family to speak of and a brother she hates, she waits for death to take her away.
It speaks to her. Teases her, yet will not come for her.
Death takes those around her, making her desire for it greater than ever.
She wonders how much longer it will take for her time to run out…
On the way home, Kate picked up some lamb chops and some white wine for her lunch with Sam, inwardly still trying not to be angry with Michael. Who did he think he was? Regardless of the fact him turning up was something she had dreamed of for years, he still had the cheek of the devil.
There was an ambulance outside Janet’s house and Kate’s heartbeat accelerated as she walked towards it, wondering who it was for. As she drew closer, she saw Janet’s door was open and as she watched, a paramedic in a reflective yellow striped jacket was wheeling Janet out of her house in a wheelchair. She appeared to be asleep, her face pale and peaceful. What had happened?
She approached the ambulance. ‘Hello, how is Mrs Goldman? I’m her neighbour.’
The paramedic stopped for a second and looked at her. ‘The old dear took a tumble and we’re just taking her in to be checked over.’
‘How did she tumble, she has no stairs?’ Kate asked.
‘She must have been up on a chair, there was one overturned when we turned up.’ He grinned at her and climbed into the back of the ambulance. ‘She’ll be fine, see if she’s not.’
Kate had the strangest feeling Janet wouldn’t be ‘fine’. She was far too old to be taking a tumble.
She decided to spend the rest of the day in her studio after she had something to eat and if Janet wasn’t home by tomorrow morning, she would go and see how she was.
The rest of the afternoon was spent preparing the next canvas. This one was going to be a night scene, with the moonlight like a pathway across the water. That was the plan anyway, and that sometimes changed as her paintbrush often had a mind of its own.
As the afternoon faded into early evening, Kate found herself thinking about Michael a little more fondly than she had that morning. She had almost seemed rude, hadn’t she? God knows what he made of it.
She was in the kitchen, waiting for the kettle to boil when there was a knock at the front door. Who could have that be, she thought, wondering if it was something to do with Janet.
Kate’s heart was in her mouth as she opened the door to find Michael standing there with a small bunch of carnations clutched to his chest. She almost choked, and her first instinct was to slam the door, but for some strange reason, she couldn’t.
‘I’ve come to apologise, Kate. I shouldn’t have carried on as though nothing was wrong between us. No wonder you had nothing to say. Please let me in, so we can start again and talk properly.’
She glared at him. ‘How do you know where I live?’
‘I felt so bad after you left, I had to find you so I could apologise in person. I had no way of knowing if you would turn up tomorrow.’
‘But how did you know where I live?’
He had the grace to look sheepish. ‘I looked you up on the electoral roll. Lucky you still use your old name, or I would never have found you.’
Kate still hesitated, unsure whether to let him in or not. This was her private space; did she want him touching everything?
She already knew she would let him in, the effect he had on her was the same as ever, regardless of the history between them. ‘You had better come in then,’ she said, standing aside so he could pass. ‘And don’t think I have forgiven you because I haven’t.’
He turned and offered her the flowers. ‘They’re not a peace offering Kate; I just thought you would like them.’
She tried to accept them gracefully, knowing she would prefer to wrap them around his neck, and made her way to the kitchen to put them in water.
He stood in the doorway watching her, and it all seemed the most natural thing in the world as if he had done exactly that dozens of times before.
It suddenly occurred to her just how much she resented him showing up on her doorstep.
‘Nice place you have here, Kate. Been here long?’
Why did she automatically think he already knew the answer to that?
‘Not long ‘, she said, non-committedly. ‘And I will soon be moving on, anyway’.
He smiled, and there was just a hint of nervousness in his smile. Was it possible he was a little unsure of his reception?
He nodded at the back door. ‘What happened to the cat?’
The hair on the back of her neck twitched and it was all she could do not to march up to him and slap his face hard. ‘Why assume something happened to my cat? He could be sleeping in another room.’
His smile vanished, and she could see he was trying to think of a suitable answer. Whatever he said, she wouldn’t believe a word. It was as if he knew what had happened to Dylan, and how could he, unless… The possibilities that presented themselves didn’t bear thinking about, and she knew something was wrong. Nobody would say a thing like that by chance.
‘Come on Michael, say something to convince me you meant nothing sinister.’
‘I don’t know why I said that, Kate. The way you’re carrying on, something did happen to the cat. What was it?
The cheek of the man took her breath away, which was just as well for she had no intention of telling him anything.
‘It doesn’t matter, come and sit down and tell me the real reason you showed up here tonight.’
He followed her out of the kitchen and paused outside her studio. ‘Can I have a look?’
The door was open, so he already had a good look in her opinion. She leaned past him and closed the door. ‘I would rather you didn’t if you don’t mind,’ she said, not caring she came across as more than a little angry.
He looked surprised, but what did he expect? Had he forgotten how badly he had let her down, not to mention walking out on the child they had made together?
Her temper finally snapped and she turned on him angrily. ‘Don’t bother getting comfortable, Michael. I want you to leave, now.’
‘No buts, did you think I would fall into your arms again? You must be more stupid than I thought. Please, just go.’
For a moment, he managed to look sad, but if that was supposed to mean anything to her, he was badly mistaken. Although a small part of her still loved him, a bigger part resented him for turning up like this, assuming she would forgive and forget. She hadn’t been able to do it then and certainly wasn’t about to do it now.
Kate went to open the front door, desperate to get him out of her flat. Just as well I’m leaving, she thought, as knowing he knew where to find her was annoying her a lot more than she thought it would.
‘Can’t we just talk about this, Kate,’ he said, trying to look sheepish.
She came up to him and shoved him not too gently towards the door. ‘Go away Michael, I don’t want you here.’
As he walked away, she waited for him to turn around, to appeal to her one more time. He didn’t, he kept on walking and for a split second it was all so sad she felt like crying.
He didn’t appear to have come by car. If he had, it must be parked somewhere else. Why would he do that?
As Kate stood on the doorstep, she noticed there were no lights showing at Janet’s house. Did that mean she was still in the hospital? She would have to ring them in the morning and find out what was going on.
She didn’t feel in the least like painting, and went to the studio and stared at the canvas. She should work on it a bit more, after all, Sam was coming for lunch tomorrow and the more progress she could see, the better. It might help to get all thoughts of Michael out of her head, so she would have no trouble sleeping tonight.
She tried to empty her mind of him as she spent the next few hours pushing paint onto the canvas, and one question kept rattling around in her head. Why had he assumed something happened to her cat? It might have just been a coincidence; after all, there was a cat flap in the back door. It could have been for the previous tenant’s cat. It was almost as if he knew something bad had happened, but how could he have done?
She decided to call it a night when her arm was so stiff she could hardly hold the paintbrush. Canvas number three was almost finished and Kate liked the way this one was turning out. Probably because it was such a peaceful, serene scene, it had gone a long way to soothing the savage beast Michael had awakened with his impromptu visit…
I think the greatest magic on this earth is to be found in water. Any kind of water, whether it is the powerful oceans or the peacefully slow moving rivers.
I have found magic in mighty waterfalls and simple rock pools, and love nothing better than being close to it. I have spent many happy hours beachcombing, looking for shells and driftwood, and the occasional piece of sea glass.
Sea glass, or mermaids tears, as it is sometimes called, is just ordinary pieces of glass, chemically weathered and tumbled beneath the waves to produce beautifully smooth frosted pebbles.
This process takes a long time, and each piece contains its own mystery of where it came from and how it ended up in the sea. It could be from a shipwreck or a message in a bottle, the possibilities are endless. It can be almost any colour, but black is supposed to be the rarest, although it must be hard to spot among the pebbles on a beach.
Sea glass has been called a reverse gem, for most of the gem stones that we recognise have been made by nature and refined by man. Sea glass is the opposite, but I suspect it is a lot more complicated than that.
One thing has always puzzled me. Why isn’t there more to be found? I have searched for most of my life and only found a few pieces, probably because I am looking in all the wrong places.
Whatever the truth of it all, I think it is magical and I treasure my collection.
Maybe it is because I too am flotsam, thrown up on life’s beach. Waiting to be found and treasured by a fool like me…
When Jaye called me into the office to see Sue’s new word and picture for the #writephoto challenge, my first thought was, no thanks, I’ll give that one a miss.
What could I say about the word Stark?
I wrote a poem called Hope, that seemed to sum up the meaning of Stark to me.
This morning, Jaye called out each comment to me as I sat in the living room. I was feeling low, so each comment blew me away.
I can’t tell you how much this means to me. I had just finished the #BlogBattle challenge, called Education, all about how hard learning had been for me when I was at school. All your lovely comments were music to my ears.
I wanted to jump on my time machine to tell all my old teachers about it.
Daft I know, I should be over it by now. Being made to feel a fool all those years ago must have left a strange mark on my psyche.
Most of the time, it is quite well buried, so today I need to thank each and every one of you who took the time to say how my poem Hope, made you feel.
The word Hope laced each of you together in the one big hug that I felt this morning.
Death has been visiting Kate all of her life, leading her to imagine she has nine lives, like a cat.
With nothing to live for, no family, just a brother she hates, she waits for death to take her away when her lives run out.
Death continues to speak to her, teasing her, yet will not come for her. When people around her begin to die at the hands of a serial killer, she hopes to be next.
Has she finally run out of lives? Will she find a reason to live after all, before it is too late?
Saturday morning arrived and Kate felt better than she had for quite a while. The pain in her chest had gone and she was more like her old self. A little optimism was creeping in which she found most welcome. She had never been a miserable person, despite her turbulent life and the thought she might have nothing else to look forward to was depressing in itself.
Today was more like it. She felt in control for the first time in ages. Her first cup of tea tasted wonderful and she enjoyed every drop as she ran through what options she could think of to take full advantage of the day. Shopping was high on the list for the cupboards were empty. She should telephone Sam with a progress report and possibly make a start on canvas number three. She idly wondered if the library was open on a Saturday and mentally decided to check when she was in town.
After an invigorating shower, Kate started to make a shopping list and wrote down cat food without thinking. As she looked at the words, the sharp pain sliced through her chest and she had to sit down. ‘Oh Dylan, I miss you so much,’ she said, her eyes filling with tears. She sat, waiting until the pain had gone, leaving an ache behind. She blew her nose and went back to the shopping list.
It suddenly occurred to her that the voice had been quiet for days, hopefully, it was a good sign.
The weather was trying desperately to match her mood. It was early in September, and the trees showed no sign of the approaching autumn. Gentle sunlight and a light breeze made the walk to town a pleasant one. The library wasn’t open, so it would have to wait until next week. As she went past the estate agent, one of the men inside looked up at her from his desk, and for a split second looked so familiar. He had dark curly hair, greying at the temples, but she couldn’t see his eyes properly as he was wearing glasses. She walked on, deep in thought to the supermarket.
Later that morning, after getting back home with several bags of shopping, the image of Michael slipped into her mind and she found herself imagining what he would look like now. She stopped, with a packet of frozen peas in her hand, and realised it might have been him. ‘Don’t be daft, why on earth would it be?’ She shook her head as if to dislodge the notion and carried on putting away the groceries.
Kate expected the voice would have something to say about it. It never usually missed an opportunity to snipe at her but it remained quiet.
She rang Sam and made arrangements for lunch on Sunday for a preview. She should get a bottle of wine, or something nice for lunch.
When Kate crossed the street on her way to see if Janet was in, she noticed that the old green car was still there. Was that one more thing to worry about, she thought?
Although she waited patiently at Janet’s door, the old woman did not appear. She must be out or having a nap. As Kate drew nearer to the estate agent, her stomach was churning and she desperately wanted to walk the other way. What was she thinking? It couldn’t possibly be Michael, not here in Guildford. She always imagined him happily married and living the high life in London. After all, he was a good-looking man; women should fall over themselves to grab him.
She suddenly realised she was standing outside the estate agents and the picture of a picturesque cottage was right in front of her. It’s too expensive, she thought, buying anything like that was out of the question, she had never had that kind of money and wasn’t about to end up in debt at her time of life. She wondered if they had rental properties too.
Her eyes began to focus past the pictures in the window and she studied the staff, but Michael wasn’t one of them, at least she couldn’t see him.
Her feet moved to walk inside and she went with them, safe in the knowledge there would be no embarrassing moment. Not if she was quick. She walked near the empty desk, looking for a nameplate or other identifying piece of evidence, but there was nothing. Then a soft female voice behind her asked if there was something she could help with, and Kate turned around, fully intending to ask about rental properties.
The woman who had spoken was quite short so Kate had a clear view of the man who had come up behind her.
‘It’s okay, Juliet. This lady is here to see me. Hello Kate. Long time no see.’
Kate’s knees had turned to jelly, how was she still standing up? It was definitely Michael, older, a lot older, but still attractive. He wasn’t wearing his glasses today and the familiar blue eyes had the effect they always had. She instantly felt she was the most important part of his life. How could he still do that, after all this time?
He took her by the elbow and steered her towards a chair.
‘I’ve just been seconded down here as they were short staffed. Funny how fate intervenes, don’t you think? You must tell me all about yourself. How are you and what are you doing these days?’
She stared at him, her mind a complete blank. Think of something to say, she thought, or he will think you’re senile. What were you supposed to say to someone who had broken your heart so many years ago?
He was looking at her the way he always did, and the magic had not died. Not in the slightest. She knew she was lost, so why try to go through the motions of being offended, or hateful. What would be the point? He probably wasn’t free anyway, so there was no harm in talking to him, was there?
‘Somehow, you look the same, Michael. How are you ?’
‘Oh, I’m fine. Getting older but nothing I can’t handle. Was there something you need, or did you know I was here? His eyes twinkled, reducing her nether regions into a pile of jelly babies.
‘I was contemplating finding somewhere to rent. Is that something you do here? She said, trying to hold on to her sanity.
He glanced at his watch. ‘Look, why don’t we discuss things over lunch; less formal than sitting here like any other customer.’
She remembered nodding slowly, but nothing else, and before she knew it, they were sitting in a quiet public house and there was a glass of white wine in front of her. Michael was looking at her as if waiting for the answer to a question.
‘I’m sorry, did you say something?’
‘I asked if you were well Kate, you look amazing, so I suppose the answer is yes.’
Kate picked up the glass of wine and took a sip, contemplating what to tell him, if anything at all. Something was telling her not to say anything and surprisingly it was her own idea. As she sat there looking at him, a frisson of annoyance nagged at her. How could he calmly sit there, looking gorgeous, as if they had no traumatic history between them? Had he forgotten he hurt her so badly it took years to heal? Added to that, the trouble with her ex-husband had turned Kate off any romantic encounters for life and there had been no one in her life since.
He is being patient, she thought. He must think she was too old to think straight, and maybe she shouldn’t enlighten him.
She declined any food, intending to keep the meeting short. He kept studying her and asking questions, obviously hoping one of them would make her talk.
She had fantasised about meeting him again, how they would be as wonderful together as they had been before, but somehow it didn’t feel right. He had no right to think she was still his for the taking.
He was talking again. ‘… must be something you can tell me about your life, is Jack still in the picture?’
So, he knew about Jack, what else did he know about her? ‘No, I divorced him and there is no one else.’ Why had she said that?
He smiled at her, his whole face lighting up like a little boy on firework night. ‘So, what have you been doing with the rest of your life, Kate?’
How can he just sit there as if they were old friends? She should hate him, and part of her probably did. She suddenly realised this meeting was not a good idea, and it was time to go home. ‘I paint’, she said and went to stand up. ‘I have to go now, I have things to do.’
He stood up and moved behind her chair, his hands brushing gently over the back of her coat as she stood up. She had to use all of her willpower to keep moving.
‘I might pop in tomorrow, to look at some properties. It was nice to see you again, Michael. Goodbye.’
His face was a picture. So many thoughts and emotions were flitting across his features, but he said nothing, just smiled forlornly at her. ‘See you tomorrow, then Kate.’
Sound waves wrap around my heart
Whispering stories from the start
I fill my pages with the words
My candle burns down low
I start again by morning light
Each word I write, I hope to bring delight
To those who read between the lines
Of stories old and new
I write of people to fall in love with
Places you would wish to go
With paper and pencil, my weapon of choice
Long may the sound waves fill my pages
A paperback writer on every shelf
In coffee shops, they weave their spell
Long before eBooks took the air
Paperback writers were always there
A book in hand is better than two eBooks
The touch the smell cannot be replaced
By scrolling light to vex your eyes
No need to plug a book in to read to the end…