Somebodies Son.

Somebodies Son. The moment I walk into the chemist and see her I know she is my mother. I wait and watch her in the security mirror. When she turns the corner I bump into her, knocking her handbag and its contents to the floor. Dropping to my knees I apologise, “I’m really sorry. Are you okay? Here’s your purse.” She’s so grateful she doesn’t notice me slipping her notebook into Read more

Bystander: a horror story.

Bystander: A Horror Story. As Megan opened the back door, her mother’s voice boomed out from the lounge, “Don’t blame me, blame the cat." Negotiating the minefield of saucers of souring milk, Megan mumbled to herself that the damn cat had been dead for years. Stepping into the back room, she looked around at the fading floral wallpaper, marked out with bright squares where pictures had once made the place a Read more

Bystander

I have been writing a few tales for my next collection and now I really need to get on with getting them sorted. I have had the story, Bystander, knocking around in my head and on paper for a while now but I just could not get the ending right, i now have that fixed so I just need to get on with editing. Here is the opening of Read more

Writing Everyday in October: I Love Trish.

The taste of blood slid across Howard’s tongue as the Norwich to Ipswich train rattled along the track. For the last half hour he had nervously bitten his nails, all in the pursuit of the latest high. Howard’s best mate, Kes, (everyone called him Kes, because he was always high as a kite) had raved about the mind blowing time he’d had the other night at the Caribbean Club. Read more

Writing Everyday in October

                            Which Witch is Which? East, Witch West, Witch Downtrodden Spinsters. Dot. Serial killing child, Where’s was that neglectful Aunt Em? Should have shown more discipline! So the question remains, Who truly was the Read more

Somebodies Son.

Somebodies Son.

P1080145The moment I walk into the chemist and see her I know she is my mother. I wait and watch her in the security mirror. When she turns the corner I bump into her, knocking her handbag and its contents to the floor. Dropping to my knees I apologise, “I’m really sorry. Are you okay? Here’s your purse.”

She’s so grateful she doesn’t notice me slipping her notebook into my coat pocket. As she wanders off she leaves behind a scent that is unmistakably Mum.
Only when I’m safely back in the side street do I allow myself to look at her little notebook. The cover is black, crinkled like crocodile skin. I run my thumb over the gold lettering, M.a.r.g.a.r.e.t. A tingle ripples up my hand. Over the years I have thought of many names for my mother, but it makes perfect sense that she’s called Margaret. Margaret’s are strong, honest, and reliable… just like that Mrs Thatcher.
On the first page mum has written her name, Margaret J. Lawrence, 11 Blanche Street. Her handwriting is so neat, I wish she had been around to teach me.
She’ll be home soon, if I’m quick I can surprise her. How pleased she’ll be to see me waiting. I catch sight of my scruffy face in a shop window, I can’t remember when I last shaved or washed. Mum will help transform me back into her son. Perhaps we’ll even make it on the front page of the Ipswich Star, “Long Lost Son, Home at Last.”
When I eventually get to Blanche Street my heart sinks. Opposite the row of tatty run down terrace houses is a dirt track where a couple of burnt-out cars and a white van is parked. This was not what I had been expecting. In dreams I saw us together living in a country cottage with roses around the door or perhaps a detached house with a long gravelled driveway. I’m puzzled. What could have happened to my mother for her to end up living in this hellhole of a street.
The front door is locked and the curtains pulled tightly shut, a good sign, you never know who might be skulking around in an area like this.
I think of mum, she looks so much different to what I had imagined. She’s aged more than I expected, but that doesn’t matter as greying hair can easily be dyed back to blonde. When we are together I will help her with her makeup. Her lips will be rose pink for daywear and poppy red for when we go out on the town.
***
Down the road a door flies open and out storms one of those skinhead types. I try not to watch as he bad mouths someone inside his house, then he stomps over to the white van. I hear a woman crying and think I should help, but the last thing I need is a fight, so I scurry towards the side alley.
A high brick wall guards the back of the houses. I get to mum’s backyard only to find the gate locked. With no time to waste I scramble up the wall. My legs flail about as I scrape my gut before falling flat on the bare concrete below.
I lay still, but no one comes out, nobody cares. Picking myself up I nip to the backdoor and cup my hands to the window, inside is a tiny kitchen. The door handle clicks as I push it down, I scold my mum for not keeping it locked. When we’re together I’ll make sure she will always be protected.
Safely inside the kitchen the first thing I spot is her little cup on the draining-board. I carefully lift the rim to my lips and imagine mum’s lips on mine…giving me a good night kiss.
The cupboards are jam packed with loads of outdated tinned stuff and not much else. The fridge is empty, apart from a half bottle of milk and some mouldy cheese. I make a promise on the spot that I will learn to cook. My mum will have tasty meals every day. I’ll give her shepherd’s pie, toad in the hole, liver, bacon and creamy mashed potatoes with really thick onion gravy. On Sundays we’ll always have a roast and none of the vegetables will come from a tin.
I turn to face the door leading to the rest of the house. My stomach tightens. This must be how proper kids feel on Christmas morning. I throw open the door only to be faced with the same old disappointment. The room is dark and drab. Flicking on the light only makes things worse. The room is bare except for an empty birdcage hanging from a stand in the far corner. There is a thick layer of bird shit around the floorboards; for once something smells worse than me.
The front room isn’t much better. There’s a single chair, Mum’s throne and a little side table next to it. I run my hand over the grease spot at the top of her chair and pocket the few hairs I find. The ticking clock on the wall reminds me I have little time to explore. In the table’s side drawer there’s only money off coupons and a stash of useless Green Shield Stamps.
The clock on the wall begins to strike, pushing me on. Back in the middle room I notice the staircase; I take the steps two at a time. I reach the small landing and step into the front bedroom to find It’s empty: ready for me to move in. I quickly step into the back bedroom and admire mum’s single bed. Throwing back the blankets I grab her pillow close to my face, filling my nostrils with her distinctive smell.
Outside I can hear the world outside, reminding me to move on. There will be plenty of time soon to be close to my mum.
The only other furniture in the room is a chest of drawers. I’m about to pull open the top drawer when I hear the front door open; Mum’s back! I frantically empty each drawer on to the bed. The first has nothing but slips, knickers and bras. The second is jammed full of the same grey coloured tights, there must be fifty shades of grey all bundled up. The third is full of neatly folded cardigans. I rummage through her belongings, then stop. I can hear her moving around downstairs.
I tug at the bottom drawer. A stack of used wrapping paper, all ironed, spring out. Under that is a mound of yellowing documents. A quick scan shows they are of little interest to me. Then at the very bottom, I find the treasure I’ve been looking for: our photographs.
I tip the photos out on the floor and spread them out. All the faces seem to follow me, making my head really ache.
I cock my head and listen. I think mum is in the kitchen, my head throbs so much it’s hard to tell. I look down at the photos and just like a puzzle everything falls into place. In front of me is her life. There’s mum on a beach with friends, laughing. Other photos show’s mum in the park, a woman by her side. Another shows mum out for dinner, dressed up to the nines with the same woman. I look closer, trying to see my features. I know for sure that I definitely take after mum. I can’t see any pictures of my dad. I wonder what happened to him: I hope he is dead.
Now as I look down at the photos all I can see is the same two grinning, taunting faces, but what has she done with the pictures of me? I dig deeper into the pile and wonder where all the baby pictures are; what had I done that she would want to get rid of all memories of me? That woman is going to have to work really hard for me to forgive her. I pick up a picture frame with her silly grinning face looking back. I’m beginning to feel differently about my mum, I’m starting to feel really angry and throw the frame down. The glass smashes. I hear a creak on the stairs. I try and clear up the mess before she gets to the top of the stairs. I cut my hand, blood spills all over the pictures. Shit! It wasn’t meant to be like this. I stumble to my feet, smooth down my shirt, now it’s covered in blood. I try and slick my hair into place as I hear her pause on the stair. This at least gives me a moment to pull on my best smile. The top stair creaks, I reach my arms out to welcome my…..shit…a miserable policeman steps into the doorway, slowly shaking his head.
He slaps on some handcuffs, they dig tight around my wrist. He pushes me down the stairs, out of the house and into the back of the police car.
Most of the street has come out to gawp. A policewoman has her arm around Margaret. Now that I look at her properly, I can see she could never have been my mum. My mum is strong, upstanding, reliable…not some sad lonely lesbian.
Eventually everyone goes back indoors, the police get back in the car, the driver looks at me in his rear view mirror and sneers, but I don’t react. We drive away in silence. We turn onto Cemetery Road, I let out a heavy sigh of relief. There! I see my mum, a fine upstanding blonde haired woman, dressed in a red coat, matching shoes and handbag… I wonder where she lives?

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Bystander: a horror story.

Bystander: A Horror Story.

Spilt milk
As Megan opened the back door, her mother’s voice boomed out from the lounge, “Don’t blame me, blame the cat.”

Negotiating the minefield of saucers of souring milk, Megan mumbled to herself that the damn cat had been dead for years. Stepping into the back room, she looked around at the fading floral wallpaper, marked out with bright squares where pictures had once made the place a home. Back then Lilly had been very keen to present to the world a well maintained home, with everything in its place. However, that was a long time ago, now the house was practically an empty shell. The front room was the only place in the house that was barely hanging on to its former memories.

Megan had had the room converted into a bed-sit after her mother had suffered a small stroke and could no longer manage the stairs. That day had been a test of everyone’s patience; with her younger sister, Gloria complaining that she had little time to spare, as she still hadn’t found the perfect outfit for Charle’s and Di’s wedding. The fact that she would be sitting at home watching the event on the television did not seem absurd to her at all. In the end, Gloria got her husband Nigel to help shift the furniture around downstairs to accommodate a single bed. Lilly had wanted her double bed, but even she had to agree it would leave little room for her wing-backed armchair and precious sideboard. In the end the single bed was wedged against the front door, allowing Lilly to see through the middle room and the kitchen at the back. Her armchair was placed by the window while the sideboard took pride of place against the far wall.

In the centre of the sideboard stood a faded black and white snapshot of Lilly and her husband Joe on their wedding day, to the left, a photo of Gloria, aged fifteen wearing a light pink sash declaring her, ‘Little Miss Brighton, Seaside Queen 1969’. A year later Gloria had married Nigel, a man seven years her senior. Their collection of brightly coloured nuptials dominated the other side of the sideboard alongside a stash of memorabilia from Gloria and Nigel’s various holidays abroad, including: a conk shell from the Maldives, a ship in the bottle from the Caribbean and a Micky Mouse letter rack declaring Florida, ‘The Sunshine State’. Megan had thought her sister had married too young, but now she saw that her sister had been more than canny in getting away with caring for their mother.

The only photo Lilly had of Megan had been tucked behind the other memories. It had been taken the year before she had left school. She hated the face that stared from the frame, all teeth and hair; harking back to the time when she was openly known as the ugly sister; a label Megan had never quite been able to let go off. On numerous occasions Megan had asked her mother to get rid of it, only for Lilly to snap back, “If you’d got someone to marry you, or done something important with your life, then I would have had that framed instead.”

With a deep breath, Megan stepped into the front room and once again the stale smell of her mother and the state of the room reminded her that things could not carry on like this for much longer.

“Is that you Meg?” boomed Lilly.

“Yes Mum, replied Megan, “you’ve lost your teeth again?”

Poking her head from around the chair, Lilly scowled, “Don’t have a go Megan; Gloria and Nigel wouldn’t treat me the way you do.”

Clenching her teeth, Megan replied, “When did you have them last?”

“This morning, when I fed the cat; not that he seems to be hungry at the moment.”

Megan was about to explain for the umpteenth time that the cat was dead, but knew it would lead to her mother contradicting her for the rest of the afternoon. Instead, she took her coat off and made her way back into the kitchen. “I’ll have a look by the sink Mum; maybe you put them down when you made a cup of tea this morning?”

“Oh I haven’t had a drink all day, snapped Lilly, “I ran out of milk.”

Wearily pulling her coat back on, Megan asked her mum if there was anything else she needed. Lilly’s voice almost sparkled as she rattled of a list,

“Ohh, a pound of tripe, a new ironing board cover, some starch for your dad’s collars, some red step polish…”

Megan could hear her mother continue with her useless requests as she went to close the kitchen door. Throughout her life, Megan had tried to love her mum but Lilly had never made it easy. In the last year things had gone really downhill with Megan finding it difficult to spend more then a couple of hours in her mother’s company. On a good day she knew that this was just a factor of her mother getting old; however, on days like these, she honestly believed that Lilly was going out of her way to drive her crazy.

As she walked down the road towards the corner shop the familiar resentment rose up. A few streets away lived Gloria and Nigel, who despite living so near had managed to pass all responsibility on to Megan. All that was required of them were their biannual visits on Lilly’s birthday, a quick visit after their holidays and lunch the week before Christmas. On these occasions all three would witness the miraculous transformation of Lilly from cantankerous old woman to sweet old lady. If the truth be known, it was Nigel who Lilly had a soft spot for as it was him who would always make a point of giving Lilly a holiday gift. Each time Nigel and Gloria had returned from a break away, Nigel would say, ‘I like to give you present’s Lilly as you gave me the gift of my beautiful wife.’ Gloria in turn would cringe, but being a good wife she just smiled, keeping the bile from shooting no further then the back of her throat.

Megan was so fuming right now that she had half a mind to go round and visit Nigel and to get him to come back and see Lilly at her worse, but knew their would be no point. Nigel would gently tut about the saucers of sour milk, pat Lily’s hand and charm the old woman. By the time she’s got back to the house, she had calmed herself down and decided to tackle the kitchen sink and just try to spend some time with her mum.

She began by picking up one of the saucers from the floor and watched in horror as the curdled milk slid off the willow pattern and onto the floor, splashing up her bare legs.

“Yuk,” Yelped Megan.

“You’re not making a mess in there are you Megan?” Scolded Lilly.

Ignoring her mother, she grabbed hold of a tea towel from the draining board, and tried to find a clean part to wipe the curdled mess off her legs .

“Did you hear me Megan? Megan!”

As Lilly’s voice cut through the air, Megan contemplated stomping into the front room and suffocating her mother with a pillow. Just lately she had become unnerved by these sudden violent thoughts. The real fear she had was to wake up to find she had actually gone through with the deed.

Megan shuddered as she carefully folded the tea towel, counted to ten, then replied, “Yes Mother.” She then threw the rest of the saucers into the stinking grey dishwater.

“I hope you’re being careful with my tea-set; Nigel bought that back from their honeymoon in Devon you know.”

‘Oh, how could she ever forget,’ thought Megan. Darling Nigel, he who could do no wrong, Brighton’s very own male Pollyanna. Megan wondered what her sister had seen in her Nigel, he was older then Gloria, no looker and quite dull. Megan had thought that Gloria must have been pregnant, but it later transpired that Gloria had little interest in having any children of her own. The way Gloria had been so keen to leave the family home anyone would have thought Gloria had had a horrible childhood, but nothing could have been further from the truth, particularly when her upbringing was compared to their neighbour, Sybil.

Poor Sybil, it wasn’t her fault who her mother had shacked up with but no one in the street gave them a chance, except for Megan. Megan had wanted a friend, while Sybil longed to be liked or at the most acknowledged. But snooty Gloria and their mother had put a stop to that. How Megan wished Gloria was here right now. She would love to grab hold of her perfectly groomed blond hair and ram her immaculate face right in the greasy dishwater; then she would finish off her mother.

“No, no, of course not,” said Megan to herself, emptying the grey swill from the bowl with its collection of discarded ‘boil in the bag’ meals. As she did so, she saw her mother’s dentures slipping through the sludgy dishwater. Retrieving the teeth from the bowl, Megan turned on the cold water tap, slid the grey muck off the dentures with her fingers then placed them on the window sill. Looking at her mother’s teeth, she gave them a huge forced smile, knowing this was the only time she would see them smiling back.

With the kitchen back together again, she put the kettle on the stove for her mother’s cup of tea and another saucepan of water for the boil-in-a-bag dinner. Megan stared at the old stove and remembered a time when she would come home to the most delicious aromas. Her mother had loved to cook, everything from full roast dinners to all kinds of desserts. Despite Megan loving all things sweet, their father Joe would always give a portion of his dessert to Gloria. Although it was never said, Gloria was quite clearly his favourite. Gloria had always lapped up the attention but everything changed the day she had won Little Miss Brighton Seaside Queen. She had come home filled with excitement, but the next day she changed. Everyone put it down to growing pains. But from then on she grew distant; Megan was almost relived when she said she had met Nigel and announced that she was moving in with him.

Now all the empty kitchen smelt of was curdled milk and boiled fish. While she waited for the fish to cook, she set about refilling her mother’s pill box. After her stroke, Lilly had become less confident about venturing outdoors on her own. At the time she had been walking down the street when she collapsed into the road. Although not badly hurt, Lilly was kept in hospital for a couple of nights before being discharged back to her own home with the understanding that her daughters would take care of her. Gloria had made many promises to both her sister and her mother, but over time she managed to pass all of the reasonability’s back to Megan. “You’re better at dealing with all those domestic chores Megan. Besides, I have Nigel to care for, you only have yourself.”

The depressing thing for Megan was that her sister was right, but what else could she do but be her mother’s carer. Even so, thirteen months down the line, playing nurse had taken its toll with Megan having increasingly dark thoughts. Again Megan shook such thoughts from her mind and pulled on her best smile as she handed over her mother’s dinner tray and dentures and said, “I was wondering mum, you must get quite lonely.”

Megan was surprised when Lilly’s face lit up, “No, not so much now your father has taken upon himself to come and visit.”

Megan stared at her mother, things were a lot worse then she first thought. Seeing the cat was one thing, she could even believe that a stray was popping round, however, the idea that her mother was now at such a delusional stage was too much.

“Mum, you know dad couldn’t have been round, you know he’s been dea…”

Before Megan could finish, Lilly buttered in, “He was here Megan, as clear as you are standing there.”

Lilly paused, waiting for her daughter to contradict her, but the last thing Megan wanted was to bring up her father’s death, it had been horrible. Her father had always had a secret stash of home made booze in his shed, but somehow he had mixed up the weedkiller with his beer. The worse part it had taken him three days to die with nothing the medical team could do little to help alleviate his pain. Megan was brought back to reality by her mother giving out a victorious huff as her daughter waved any confrontation away.

“Oh he did look thin, but it was your father all right, it was my Joe. He seemed quite happy to stand just in the doorway and listen. He didn’t speak, but he never was big on conversations was he. I told him all about Gloria’s visit to Floria, which I know pleased him. I didn’t tell him much about you, but then there’s little to tell is there?”

The familiar hatred was brewing up inside Megan; why did her mother have to take a stab at her at every opportunity? Megan thought about grabbing hold of her mother’s dressing gown cord and wrapping it tightly around her mother’s throat.

“Megan, Megan? Have you listened to a word I’ve said?”

“Yes, I mean no. I mean… Sorry mum, it’s been a long day. I’ve had a lot of people on my case.”

Lilly took a stab at her fish dinner and said, “Well, aren’t you the lucky one. The only person who ever really cares for me is Nigel and your father.”

“You took your pills?”

Megan didn’t mean to sound so sharp, but her mother snapped, “I don’t want them, they get caught in my throat, I don’t know what you’re giving me Megan but I don’t want them.”

“Don’t be silly, just take them and I can get out of here.”

Megan wished she could grab her words and make them unsaid, but she knew it was too late. Lilly didn’t bother looking up at her daughter as she picked up the tablets off the tray and swallowed them one by one followed by a loud slurp of her tea. Feeling the familiar throb on the side of her head, Megan knew it was definitely time to leave.

“Look Mum, I’m really sorry, I’ve got to go. I’ve got one of my migraines coming on…I’ll come over again tomorrow? Maybe even stop the night?”

Ignoring her daughter’s olive branch, Lilly pushed the slab of fish and opaque sauce around her plate with as much contempt as she could muster. “Oh, don’t you worry yourself Megan, believe me I’m quite happy for you to leave.”

Megan waited for a moment longer, daring herself to kiss her mother on the cheek, but the increasing pain in her head pulled her away as much as the fear of rejection. As she made her way through the house, she grabbed her coat from the dining chair, determined that she would not let her mother see her cry. As she stood in the back yard, Megan shuddered as she stared at the neighbouring bedroom window. She almost convinced herself that she saw Sybil as a child staring down at her. Past memories washed over her, good god, how she had begged her mother to allow her to go to Sybil’s aid:

 “She’s crying mummy, I want to help.”

 “It’s not our place to interfere. What goes on behind other people’s closed doors is no business of ours”

Gazing up at the empty windows Megan let go of her tears, “Worse for who mother, worse for who?”

* * *

Eventually Lilly stopped seething over how badly she thought her daughter had treated her. After listening to the ‘Ten O’ Clock News’, she pulled herself out of her chair and flopped into the single bed. No sooner had she felt sleep begin to steal her away, she heard a noise coming from the kitchen. Pulling herself up onto her elbow, Lilly peered through to the back room and once again saw a tall silhouette.

“Joe, Is that you?”

The silhouette stood perfectly still, grinning.

“I told Meg you’d come to see me. You should come round when she’s here. She might treat me with a bit more respect.”

The silhouette kept perfectly still, listening to the old woman whittle on.

“If you want a cup of tea, there’s milk in the fridge. Don’t use it all though, I need some for the cat. There are some biscuits too, help yourself to as many as you like Joe, you need feeding up.”

Lilly snuggled down in her bed and murmured, “If you’re staying the night, you’ll have to make do with the bed upstairs. I’d love a cuddle with you Joe but there’s no room.”

Lilly smiled to herself as she heard the rattling of the biscuit tin.

***

Halfway through the night, she woke to find the room was freezing cold; the kitchen door was wide open.

“Oh Joe, you always were so forgetful.”

Pulling herself out of her bed, she made her way to the kitchen, not noticing the upturned dinning room chair that lay in her path. Lilly’s foot became caught, sending her crashing to the floor. As she tried to get up, she let out a harrowing cry as a rush of pain shot up towards her groin. Once the initial shock had passed, she was able to pull herself to the side of the room were she gently rocked herself back and forth, willing the pain to go away. With her breathing returning to normal, she crawled across the floor towards the dinning room table and sat down at one of the upright chairs. As she stared at the upturned chair, she realised it must have fallen over when Megan had left in such a huff.

She then wondered why Joe hadn’t up-righted it when he had come round to see her. Lilly called out from her chair, praying Joe was upstairs. If she had the strength to walk over to the stairwell she would have seen the culprit sitting on the middle stair, delighted that at last it was Lilly feeling some pain. Eventually, Lilly felt able to hobble to the kitchen, shut the back door before making her way back to bed where she forced the horrible experience to the very back of her mind.

The next morning she had forgotten all about the night’s events, until she swung her legs out of bed and a pain shot up her leg. As she lifted her nightdress she couldn’t help but let out a gasp of horror. The majority of her upper leg was a deep purple, but it was the sight of the large blood blister hanging from her thigh like a deflated balloon that distressed her the most. Throwing her nightdress back over her legs she reasoned to herself that if she ignored it, it would hopefully sort itself out. Easing herself off the bed, she hobbled into the back room, wishing Joe had stayed the night. She stood at the foot of the stairwell and called out his name, until disappointment pulled her away. It was then that Lilly realise just what a vulnerable state she was in. Sinking down to the foot of the stairs Lilly held her head in her hands and really cried, just as she had the day Joe had died.

Eventually she got a pot of Aspirin from the kitchen cupboard, made a cup of tea and managed to calm herself down, after all it was just an accident; besides, she had been through worse and survived. However, she had never had to deal with such things on her own. How she longed for the days when she would stand on her doorstep and gossip with whoever was passing. Lilly thought back to when Megan and Gloria were young, playing in the street with the other children without a single care in the world. Then Lilly suddenly remembered the creepy child who appeared on her doorstep with Megan gripping her hand.

“Her name is Sybil, and she’s my new best friend.”

Hearing Megan’s words brought an unknown feeling of joy to Sybil, up until that day she had not known what having a friend felt like. However, Lilly, like the other children, found the child to be somewhat unnerving and was quite relieved when Sybil’s mother, Pauline, came and picked her up.

“There you are Sybil, I’ve been worried sick. You better come in before Peter gets home.”

Later that night Lilly told Joe about Pauline and Sybil. “You know me Joe, I’ll speak to any one. But there was something not quite right about that girl Sybil. She’s not right, I’ll tell you that much. And as for her mother, quite rude, she didn’t even stop to say hello.”

Lilly’s view of the family didn’t improve when the next day she was in the back yard at the same time as Pauline. Lilly tried to say hello, only to watch her new neighbour scurry off back indoors. The same performance was played out a week later when Pauline came into the local shop. With her head down she gathered up her goods, paid and scurried out while the local fishwives watched on with crossed arms and pursed lips. No sooner was the poor woman out of the shop then the other women started to chatter amongst themselves. Kitty Thompson, the local gossip monger was the most vocal in her damnation of the new family.

“That child isn’t right, just this morning I saw her staring down from the back bedroom window and as for the state of her house, I walked past the other day and saw inside…the room was in disarray, that woman should be ashamed.”

The next morning Lilly stepped out of her house to pick the milk off the doorstep when a very handsome man came walking up the road toward her. As she stood up holding the milk to her chest the man smiled. Lilly smiled back and was most surprised when he stopped outside Pauline and Sybil’s house. She was further taken aback when he got his key out to open the door.
Lilly stared in disbelieve, Pauline was plain, hair suited for a headscarf and yet here was this handsome man looking so pleased with his lot. Lilly was about to step back inside when Pauline opened the front door with Sybil by her side. Lilly noticed that Pauline had a small suitcase in her hand. Within a split moment the man revealed a different side of himself, the winning smile switched to an angry glare. Sybil looked up anxiously at Lilly, who in turn hurried herself back indoors.

In an instant Lilly heard her neighbours door slam shut followed by Pauline’s pleas for help. Lilly in turn did what she always did, she switched on the radio and lost herself in her knitting.
When Megan and Gloria came home from playing in the park, Lilly sat them both down and told them they were to have nothing more to do with Sybil.

“But why?” cried Megan.

“I just don’t want you to. Now that is the end of it.”

After than Lilly went out of her way to avoid the family next door, she had Joe erect a six foot fence in the back yard. If she was on her doorstep gossiping she would make an immediate excuse to go back inside if she heard her neighbour’s door open. Despite her promises, Megan still tried to be friends with Sybil. Whenever she saw her in the playground at school she would walk over to her, only to spy Sylvia from across the playground, scowling. Eventually Sybil learnt to keep out of both the girls’ way, till finally she practically stopped going to school all together. On very rare occasions, Lilly would catch Sybil’s haunted face looking down into the back yard from her bedroom window; on these occasions Lilly would hurry up her chores and go back inside.

One Sunday morning cries came flooding from next door. Joe nodded at Lilly to turn the radio up, only for Megan to come running down stairs and pleaded for her parents to call the police. “Sylvia needs help!”
Lilly didn’t even look up from her knitting, “I’ve told you before Megan, what goes on between other people’s closed doors is none of our business.”
With that Lilly turned the radio up as screams continued, and despite the continuous calls for help, no one came.

Later that night two police cars and an ambulance pulled up outside Lilly’s house.
Lilly opened her bedroom curtains just as two body bags were being removed from her neighbours and placed in the back of the waiting ambulance. Pulling on her nightgown she slipped down the stairs and stood on her doorstep anticipating the moment for when the police would take Sylvia’s murderous partner away. Lilly was shocked when she saw young Sybil, whose nightdress was covered in blood, being guided towards the waiting police car. The next day Lilly sent the girls to her sisters for the rest of the day. The street buzzed with gossip, while Lilly expressed how upset she was. “You should have seen the look that girl gave me, anyone would think it was I who’d killed her mother.” As the day unfolded, whispers contradicted each other on what had gone on behind the closed doors. It transpired that the man had been Sylvia’s partner who she had tried to escape from but once again he had tracked her down and moved back in with her with fatal consequences.

The next day the papers had been filled with their usual mixture of lurid headlines and lies. ‘Devil Child Slays Werewolf Father’ screamed one paper, while another had the more sobering ‘Are We Failing Our Children?’ Now with the horror making the news, more clichéd comments came flooding out of the street’s residents’. “He was such a quiet man, you wouldn’t think he would change like that.”
“He was always polite to me, I don’t think he could have been all to blame.”
“That child was a bad egg from the start.”

As the weeks passed, the residents of the little back street in Brighton moved on to another ruined life to pick over, leaving Sybil to quietly rot away in Jupiter Hills Hospital.

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Now all alone, Lilly wished the memories of Sybil would slip away as readily as most of her other precious memories had. Only the other day she was looking out of her window when she saw a taxi pull up outside her neighbour’s house; she could have sworn it was Sybil, all grown up, stepping out onto the pavement. When she looked again she saw a young woman who was now living next door. It was on times like these that she cursed the high fence in the back garden that kept her locked away from her neighbours. What Lilly needed was a distraction from these memories creeping up on her, so she decided to make herself a cup of tea and settle down to ‘The Archers’. If she had glanced up to the top of the stairwell she would have caught a glimpse of the figure hiding at the top of the stairwell, waiting.

With her cup and saucer in hand, she made her way back to her chair, only for her to spill most of the tea in the saucer. Stopping at the table she poured her tea back in the cup, were she saw someone had drawn in the dust. On closer inspection she saw the word “BYSTANDER” written across the table.

Wiping away the dust with the sleeve of her cardigan, Lilly muttered to herself, “That girl of mine gets more and more childish, if it bothers her so much, she should clean it up herself.”

For the rest of the afternoon she watched the window as if it was a television, until twilight prompted the street lights to come on and for Lilly to pull the curtains shut. For the rest of the evening she listened to the radio. By the time the ‘Late Love Hour’ show came on she was beginning to nod off in her chair.

Half asleep she heard the bed springs move. Without opening her eyes she mumbled, “Drink your milk, you little bugger,” believing her cat had returned for another one of its visits, unaware of the figure sitting on her bed with Lilly’s medicine pot in their hand.

Lilly woke with a start, the curtains were open and the sun shone through. She watched as the dust danced amongst the rays, wondering how long she had been asleep. It was then she saw young Sybil tapping at the window, calling out to her, “Lilly, Lilly, Lilly.”

Lilly woke with a start to find herself more alone then she had ever felt before. She longed for Sylvia to come and see her, she would even be pleased to see Megan, not that she would ever tell her that.
Lilly went to stand up, but her leg buckled making her promptly sit back down on the chair. She tried again to stand up an reach for her pills but gain the pain in he leg made he sit down sharply. on the third attempt, Lilly managed to grab the bottle, only to find it empty. Confused and very upset, Lilly stood upright but the excruciating pain shot up the whole of right side of her body causing Lilly to fall to the floor.
Unable to pick herself up, Lilly managed to turn on her side; as she did so she saw a pair of feet step out from the stairwell walk and towards the doorway of the lounge. Lilly lifted her head and let out a thankful gasp, “Oh Gloria, am I pleased to see you.”
Lilly held up her hand, waiting for her daughter to help her back into bed, only to watch with some confusion as Gloria ignored her mother’s request walked over to the sideboard and turned the picture of her dressed as Little Miss Brighton, Seaside Queen 1969, face down, looked down at her mother and turned the radio up full blast.

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Bystander

I have been writing a few tales for my next collection and now I really need to get on with getting them sorted. I have had the story, Bystander, knocking around in my head and on paper for a while now but I just could not get the ending right, i now have that fixed so I just need to get on with editing. Here is the opening of the story which will be part of my new collection of tales of terror, do let me know what you  think.

If you haven’t already, be sure to pop over to the other short story collection of tales of terror: www.blanchestreet.co.uk 

 

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Bystander.
As Megan opened the back door, her mother’s voice boomed out from the lounge, “Don’t blame me, blame the cat.”

Negotiating the minefield of saucers of souring milk, Megan mumbled to herself that the damn cat had been dead for years. Stepping into the back room, she looked around at the fading floral wallpaper, marked out with bright squares where pictures had once made the place a home. When she was growing up, the house had been a hub of activity. She and her younger sister Gloria were able to bring back their friends anytime they liked. Their mother, Lilly, loved to listen to the children laughing as she sat in the front room knitting. However, that was a long time ago, now the house was practically an empty shell. The front room was the only place in the house that was barely hanging on to its former happy memories.

Megan had had the room converted into a bed-sit after it became apparent that Lilly could no longer manage the stairs. That day had been a test of everyone’s patience; with Gloria complaining that she had little time to spare, as she still hadn’t found the perfect outfit for Lady Di’s wedding. The fact that she would be sitting at home watching the event on the television did not seem absurd to her at all. In the end, Gloria got her husband Nigel to help shift the furniture around downstairs to accommodate a single bed. Lilly had wanted her double bed, but even she had to agree it would leave little room for her chair and precious sideboard. In the end the single bed was wedged against the front door, allowing Lilly to see through to the kitchen.

Her wing-back chair was placed by the window. The sideboard took pride of place against the far wall, with its display of photographs and memorabilia; mainly from Gloria and Nigel’s various holidays abroad. the centre stood a photo of Gloria as a teenager wearing a light pink sash declaring her, ‘Suffolk’s Miss Dairy Queen 1964’. Beside the frame stood a faded black and white snapshot of Lilly and her husband Joe on their wedding day. Next to them was picture of Gloria and Nigel on their wedding day. Megan had been in the shot, but she looked so awkward Lilly had cut her out of the picture all together. The only photo Lilly had of Megan had been tucked behind the other memories. It had been taken the day she had left school. She hated the face that stared from the frame, all teeth and hair; harking back to the time when she was known as the ugly sister. A label Megan had never quite been able to let go off. On numerous occasions she had asked her mother to get rid of it, only for Lilly to snap back, “If you’d got someone to marry you, or done something important with your life, then I would have had that framed instead.”

With a deep breath, she stepped into the front room and once again the stale smell of her mother and the state of the room reminded her that things could not carry on like this for much longer.

“Is that you Meg?”

“Yes Mum, you’ve lost your teeth again?”

Poking her head from around the chair, Lilly scowled, “Don’t have a go Megan; Gloria wouldn’t treat me the way you do.”

Clenching her teeth, Megan replied, “When did you have them last?” “This morning, when I fed the cat; not that he seems to be hungry at the moment.”

Megan was about to explain for the umpteenth time that the cat was dead, but knew it would lead to her mother contradicting her for the rest of the afternoon. Instead, she took her coat off and made her way back into the kitchen.

“I’ll have a look by the sink Mum. Maybe you put them down when you made a cup of tea this morning?”

“Oh I haven’t had a drink all day, I ran out of milk.”

Wearily pulling her coat back on, she asked her mum if there was anything else she needed.

“Ohh, A pound of tripe, a new ironing board cover, some starch for your dad’s collars, some red step polish…”

Megan could hear her mother continue with her useless requests as she went to close the kitchen door. As much as she tried to love her mum, she was finding it more and more difficult to spend time with her. On a good day she knew that this was just a factor of her mother getting old. However, on days like these, she honestly believed that Lilly was going out of her way to drive her crazy.

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Writing Everyday in October: I Love Trish.

Ipswich 143 - Version 2
The taste of blood slid across Howard’s tongue as the Norwich to Ipswich train rattled along the track. For the last half hour he had nervously bitten his nails, all in the pursuit of the latest high. Howard’s best mate, Kes, (everyone called him Kes, because he was always high as a kite) had raved about the mind blowing time he’d had the other night at the Caribbean Club. Some bloke had offered Kes a new kind of high at the club toilet and he said he was off his head all night, “It’s called Trish. Think ecstasy, crossed with a trip and dib-dab of speed.”
Even before Kes had finished yabbering, Howard was hooked. Kes had said he was going to meet up with a guy called Chef and get some Trish for the weekend. That had been a couple of days ago. With no job worries, Kes will still be off his face on Trish, thought Howard.
As the train pulled into Ipswich’s train station, Howard pulled out the crumpled piece of paper from his jeans pocket on which Kes had scrawled.
9 Blanche Street, Ipswich. Ask for Chef. Say, “I love Trish.”

When the train finally pulled in to Ipswich, the seasoned travellers rushed from the platform and grabbed the waiting taxies. With no sign of a bus, Howard began walking towards what he hoped was the town centre. Half way he bumped into a young couple and asked if they knew where Blanche Street was. The woman shrugged her shoulders, as the bloke said, “You sure you want that part of town mate?”
Howard nodded while trying to ignore his growling stomach, all he wanted was to grab his stash of Trish and get back to his bedsit in Norwich.
Recognising the nervousness pouring out of Howard’s body, the man shrugged his shudders and said, “It’s no more than ten minutes away, just off Cemetery Road.”

Having followed the man’s directions, Howard turned into Blanche Street and instantly understood what the man had meant. The street was a row of pre-war dilapidated terraced houses. As he walked down the street, Howard’s stomach tightened; with most of the street lights broken it was difficult to make out the door numbers.

As he crept past one house he heard a man shout, “Madeline, Madeleine!” which caused Howard to quicken his step. Each house he passed seemed to be more decrepit than the last: that was until he reached number seven. The bottom half of the door had been boarded up. Bare wires hung where the doorbell had once been and the upstairs windows were smashed.

Again Howard felt his gut jolt, but there was no way he was going back home empty handed. Taking a deep breath he raised his hand to knock on the door, only for it to suddenly fly open. A dark silhouette of a very, very big man filled the door frame.
“Y,y,y,you Chef? Said Howard?

With no ready response, Howard tried to steady his voice without much success and said, “I,I,I,I,I love Trish.”
The man stepped back and nodded for Howard to enter the gloomy lit front room.

The first thing to hit him was the overwhelming stench of stale cigarette smoke, greasy takeaway food and something else, something rotten. While trying to manoeuvre passed the minefield of beer cans and overflowing ashtrays, Howard knocked a half-eaten takeaway box off the oversized leather armchair: spilling its contents onto the threadbare carpet. Dropping to his hands and knees, Howard went to clear up the partly chewed, greasy chicken bones only for Chef to yell, “Fucking leave it, get your arse in the back.”
Howard jumped to his feet, brushed the grease from his hands on to his jeans and then followed the man through the middle room, into the kitchen.
Hanging from the centre of the kitchen celling was a bare light bulb highlighting the cobwebs that strung from every corner, the floor felt sticky beneath his feet. Howard glanced round the near barren kitchen. The only other furniture was a tatty pine wooden table, either side sat two mismatched chairs and a bar stool. Chef nodded at Howard and grunted, “Sit.”

Like a well trained mongrel, Howard quickly obeyed, pulled out the chair and sat himself down.
Chef flung open the fridge door and said, “Beer?”

Howard stared at the man’s huge hands that gripped the rusting fridge door, his fingernails caked with black grime. A trickle of bile shot from Howard’s empty stomach into his throat causing him to nod as he tried his best to swallow his sick.

Grabbing two cans from the fridge, Chef slammed one can down in front of Howard, cracked open his own and drained the contents before Howard had even opened his.

“Get that down yah, it will stop you from being so fucking jumpy.”

Howard tried his best to stop his hands from shaking as he opened his can, only for the contents to spray all over his face.
Howard slurped at the frothing can as Chef laughed while he grabbed another two beers from the fridge. As he sat down at the table he said, “So, how’d you hear about me, was it London Tony?”

….. Wanna find out what happens to Howard and the other residence of Blanche Street? why not pop over to the homepage www.blanchestreet.co.uk and click on the doors and then hurry yourself over to the Amazon link  to and get stuck into ten terrifying tales: http://www.amazon.com/Blanche-Street-Where-neighbours-nightmare-ebook/dp/B00OWFK1SA

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Writing Everyday in October

 

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Which Witch is Which?

East, Witch West, Witch

Downtrodden Spinsters.

Dot.

Serial killing child,

Where’s was that neglectful Aunt Em?

Should have shown more discipline!

So the question remains,

Who truly was the witch?

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Writing Everyday in October: For You.

For you.

Hidden away, too scared to speak, afraid to fail,

A burning inside, small glow waiting

No one could see, not them, not him, or me

Until a small blow, led to a spark,

An awakening

The burning within

A flame is formed, and courage burns

May this be your new beginning

May your shroud of doubt be gone

May the sparks start flying

May your imagination continue to grow

May you find were you belong

May you relish your new big adventure

May you enjoy the wild, wild ride

May you carry on living

May you discover

Just how much you really are alive

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Writing everyday in October: Animals

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Imagine that you could wake up tomorrow in someone else’s body. Whose would it be? How would your life change? What are some of the first things you’d do?

 

Animal.

Ever have one of those mornings where your tongue’s all furry and your head is so sore from too much of a good time from the night before? Mr. Marcus St. Phillips is having one of those days, but for him it’s like this every morning. Marcus holds down a steady job, pays the bills and tries his best to keep his wife, Pamela and two children, Chrystal and Jacob happy. Not an easy task, considering how demanding they and his job can be, so every night he drinks and drinks and drinks.

He can do morning routine with his eyes closed, and most mornings are like that. But this morning he’s feeling a little bit odd, his head is heavy as he pulls it of the pillow and makes his way to the bathroom. This morning he just knows that if he opens his eyes too soon, his head will crack open, such is his hangover and so he covers his face with shaving foam using his shaving brush. This morning, a Monday morning, which for Marcus is the worst as his binge drinking reaches marathon levels from Friday lunch time till Sunday midnight, seems so much worse, and it’s not going to get much better.
As he drags the razor along his cheek, the razor staggers and pulls to such a degree that he dares to open his eyes against the fluorescent light above his head. oh so carefully he opens one eye then teh other then shuts both of them tight praying that he is still fast a sleep and that teh face that was looking back had been conjured up by the amount of sauce he had put away over the last 36. After what feels like a lifetime, Marcus again opens his eyes, just slightly this time, sees a totally different face staring back at him. Of course it is an elaborate joke being played on him by his children, a silly magic trick, but deep down he know’s what he is seeing is himself with a very different face.
He stares and stares and stares at teh face looking back and eventually calls out to his wife, but instead his voice cries “EE-ORRR!”
Slapping both hands across his brain finally admits that his head has been replaced by that of an Ass!
Shutting his eyes so tight this time he begins to see white stars bursting in the darkness, he prays to wake up in his bed and out of this stupid nightmare. He waits and waits but dare not open his eyes, so instead tries to call out, “Pamela! Pamela!”, but the bathroom is once again filled with the grating sound, EE-ORR, EE-ORR”.
Afraid he has gone a little insane, he screams out, “What the hell is happening to me?” but all that comes out is the
“EE-ORR, EE-ORR, EE-ORR, E-ORREE-ORRRR.”
Marcus shakes his head from side to side and decides that his so bleary eyed, that all this is just in his head. So taking himself to the bedroom and carries on his regular routine and pulls on his shirt, tie and suit and they all fit just fine.
Avoiding the mirror at the top of the hall he makes his way down to the smell of bacon and eggs, walks into the kitchen with his making sure to keep his mouth tightly shut half expecting his wife to scream, but instead she just says “Well, sit down it’s getting cold”. as she puts his plate of food down on the table.
He opens his eye and then other and tries his best not to make a sound, he’s wife’s standing there, dressed smartly with her piny on, but her head is that of a Chicken, again she looks and tells him to sit down as he’s making the place look untidy, but now with his eyes and wide as the plates and although the only sound she is making, “Cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck.” he understands every word!

Just then the door flies open and he hears the voice of his youngest, little Chrystal. Marcus tries oh so very hard not to be surprised that as well as pigtails, his adorable daughter now has teh head of a pig! He watched as she scrambles onto her chair and buries her snout into her plate and grunts like a pig! Marcus feels his go dry as his tongue hangs heavy out of teh side of his mouth. He tries to speak when his whole body tightens at the sound of his son as he comes bounding down the stairs. He looks on a little amazed to see his son has the head of a sly young fox, his up to no good as he sneaks some bacon off his father’s plate, thinking he hadn’t been seen.
He is then reminded that this is what his son is always like, a bit sly, a bit crafty, it’s just that he has been drunk for so long that he had forgotten just what a sly old fox his son could be!
He looks at his wife, a clucking hen, trying her best to keep the brood together, his spoilt daughter, always asking and getting just what she wants and he himself for being such an ass for the drunken life he had allowed to take over.

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Writing Everyday in October: The Seaside. (Another True Story)

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Describe your first brush with danger.

It was one of those perfect summer’s sunny days that can only exist in the memory of the past. Families parked outside their individual candy coloured beach-huts, sitting, playing, eating, laughing. The beach sandy, the pebbles smooth, the sea bright as the sun shines and glistens on the low lapping crystal blue waves.
High above seagull squark, but are well behaved, neither swooping down to grab a chip from a holiday maker strolling along the prom, or evacuating its lunch on a child’s shoulder (the seagull, not the holiday maker). This really is a perfect summer’s sunny day, as I remember it.

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There I am, playing on the shore with my cousin, Michael splashing water at each other, running along the shore. Laughter, so much laughter on this perfect summer’s sunny day.

Shooting out of the water, wooden groins line the shore, starfish cling on to the rough barnacle edgers. Out of nowhere, my cousin shouts, “Dare yah! Dare yah to paddle out along that groin”.

Always up for a dare. Aren’t we all when youth is our folly? And so with trunks and tee-shirt on I wade out to see how far I can go, not the most scariest thing I have ever done, but still at the time it felt like fun.

I’m wading out further, pulling my tee-shirt with a picture of a dude riding a Kawasaki motobike printed on it. Up above the waves, only now noticing that the wind has changed, the sun’s gone in, the current is pulling hard around my feet. High above, the seagulls squark, but this time there is fear in their throats as they look at me below. All too soon waves have risen, panic fills my whole body, my eyes wide. Clinging on to the groin, the barnacles are digging in, scraping, scratching, my face etched with a look that to anyone who saw it would know it as terror.
I look out to sea, the dark grey waves increase in strength, ready to whip me away to a watery grave. I turn to my cousin, standing safely on the shore, our eyes lock, he turns back to the beach hut, then back to me and shouts, Glenn, Glenn, throw us your t-shirt it will get ruined, you’ll get in so much trouble, it’s new!

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Writing Everyday In October: Childhood Memory

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Describe the clearest, most vivid memory of your childhood – a moment that has stayed with you for life.

I just have to close my eyes and I can see it, this tall blue box, not unlike Doctor Who’s, TARDIS, standing proudly at the top of the stairs of my Nana’s house. I must have been a bout five or six years old, but even today as I sit here typing, I can see that blue box very clearly.

Standing either side of the blue box are my Nana’s neighbours, Dot and Harry Scott, I cannot remember their features, but a memory recalls that they both looked lovely, smily people, straight out of a 1950’s advert. The two things I remember about Dot and Harry Scott is that Harry died young and Dot woke up one day to find her eyelashes had turned painfully inward.

But before that time, before they left to live somewhere else, they had given me this blue box, a wardrobe.

That night I dreamt about them standing on the top of the stairs, smiling. I was at the very bottom of the stairs, looking up, watching them open the wardrobe door, their smiles getting larger and larger. Then out of the wardrobe, this black mass came tumbling towards me. Before it got to the bottom step I woke up. I don’t remember telling anyone about my bad dream, or being fearful of opening the wardrobe the next morning. But that is one of my earliest nightmares, one of my most vivid memories of when I young.

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Writing Everyday in October: Afterlife Exclusive: Betty Give’s her ‘Boop’ the Boot!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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After many years of being one of the most recognisable sex-symbol on earth, Betty was relieved to find her cutesy yet overtly sexy image had at last fallen out of fashion. With the phone no longer ringing asking for a guest appearance on The Late, Late Show, let alone a day time appearance on Loose Women, Betty was happy to let go of everything and take comfort in the anonymity offered in the afterlife.

Upon arriving in the afterlife, the first thing Betty asked for was an extra large caftan that would forever hide her modesty; something that had been forever on display for all to see, even on days when Betty had longed for a moment of not being stared at.

For Betty, the most harrowing times had been in the early part of her career when her American artists thought it was their, “God-dam given right to draw and show off a young woman’s titties, fanny and legs at they felt fit. ”

The abuse didn’t stop there. For decades, Betty had been forced into an unnaturally painfully tight corset underneath her trademark black dress. Every corner of The Afterlife was filled with the heavenly sigh Betty gave as the wardrobe mistress undid her corset and at Betty’s request, threw it in the furnace. It came as no surprise that her second request for the most popular menu most starlets requested when they came to The Afterlife: double cheese burger, fries, cheesecake and a diet coke; all of which was devoured in seconds.

Then came the tears.

Regardless of who enters the afterlife, tears are a natural occurrence, combining; loss, laughter, freedom and hate. For Betty, it was the latter which poured down her face as she screamed out, “This voice, this voice has been nothing but a curse.”

Although here at the afterlife, all knowledge of what has gone before, is well documented long before a traveler makes their appearance; it is only upon their arrival that the individuals final decisions are revealed, understood and duly respected.

Once Betty had allowed herself to be all cried out, she made one last simple request, “Give me peace. Give me silence.”

As the seamsters prepared her needle and thread, she wondered if Betty would say one last “Boop-Oop-A-Doop” for old times sake. Instead, the beautiful Betty sat weeping tears of joy as the seamstress carefully sewed Betty into a permanent silence.

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