Piece of paper

The rain sodden road reflected the street lamps, the light bouncing off the hard otherwise black surface. It was pretty, she reflected, or would have been if it was not for the tank that was stationed outside her window.

Looming out of the night, the bulk of the war machine infuriated her, as did her brother’s desire to join the troops in the war. But then again, if it was not for him going to the Front, she would not have her independence. Being a woman before the war had been restrictive, but now, without the men around, she was having far more fun.

But the cost had been great. The women folk of the township had their independence, but they had lost all the same. Her hands fidgetted with a piece of paper.

Her mind roved her past, coming up with bizaar memories. It rested on one in particular… the last time she had seen Chad before he had left for the war.

It had been a weekend retreat that they had disappeared off on. Mother was not to know. Mother did not approve of Chad going to fight. So sister and brother had hired a cabin close to the lake just outside their home town. It was their final time together before Chad was going away; for how long no one knew.

Hot words had been flung at him.

“FOOL!” she had hurled at Chad.

His face had clouded with anger and hurt that night. “I’m not a fool, Tracey. I’m not. I just want to join my friends on their adventure.”

“It’s not an adventure, Chad. It’s death and disaster and all that’s bad.”

Then, his anger had melted and he had cried, silent tears running down his cheeks.

“I thought of all people, you would understand, sister.”

And he had not talked to her since.

The piece of paper fluttered to the ground. It was now her face that ran with tears, as she felt a gnawing pain. She was right, had always been right, but now it was a cold comfort. The piece of paper was final proof she was right, for it was a telgram. Chad was dead.

Lucky

My brother walked into the room, breathless with laughter, a beer in one hand and his mobile in the other. Accompanying him was Sue, his wife and Best Friend. She was my Best Friend too and we had grown very fond of each other before they were even married. It was storm season, when the thunder and lightning came with the rain.

“On the following Friday, we packed our bags and planned our escape,” he was saying to someone on the phone.

“What’s that?” I asked, all ears.

“Oh, Belinda, didn’t you hear?” Sue’s eyes popped as she spoke with me, surprised I hadn’t kept up with the gossip.

“No, Sue. I have been snowed under with lots of work to do. Haven’t even had time to look at the News let alone keep up with family business.”

Sue stared at me in silence, as I felt great guilt for not keeping in contact. They had been away on a camping trip, while I had stayed home to catch up with the extra workload my Freelance Writing Business had generated that month.

But my brother, Troy, who was still laughing, hung up the phone.

“Well, Belinda, the river came up after the massive storm last week. Water flooded the camping grounds where we were staying, turning it into a temporary island. Only 4WD vehicles could get through. Not even our little tinny was useful, as the flood wasn’t high enough for it.”

I closed my mouth, becoming aware that it was open as I stared at him in disbelief. Normally, the camping grounds where he and Sue frequented, didn’t flood at this time of year.

Sue took up the rest of the story, as Troy stopped long enough to gulp at his beer.

“But then, on Friday, the river flooded even more, and so we had only a small window of about 2 hours to escape. We packed up our camping equipment and stashed it in our sedan. Then, we threw all our important possessions into the tinny, before heading back to dry land. The river was high enough during that little bit of time to use the tinny.”

Troy was nodding. “And both Sue and I had our daughter’s birthday party to get back in time for.”

“Lucky…” was all I could manage to say in response.

17 Cats

17 cats. How did he end up with 17 cats. And at his age! 60 years old was too old to have 17 cats. 

His only desire was to be left alone. That meant NOT having any cats, let alone 17 of the damned creatures! 

And then he remembered. The month before he’d been drinking with his mates, and a stunning woman had walked into the bar. Not only was she stunning, but she was even his age.

Before too long, he had been shouting her rounds, until he was under the table. 

The night after had been bliss. The scent of her captivated him, and they had gone home together…back to his place. 

Now, it was a month since they’d met and he was surrounded by 17 cats.  In the bed beside him, he could feel warmth radiating from something underneath the sheets. He tentatively reached out his fingers. No, it was not her. It was his hot water bottle.

  And then the next lot of memories came back.

  She had confessed that she was dying. This was to be her last tryst as the disease that melted her insides was tightening its grip. She had no one to leave her 17 cats to. 

In the depths of passion, last week, he was chivalrous. In her will she had left them to him! And now, she was in the village morgue, awaiting burial by her cat hating family. 

Youth

It was THE day. Time to shine. Laurie stood before the mirror in the green room back of stage.

Could she dazzle the crowd who sat in the audience? If only her Alchemist brother has been there too. He had been working on a secret recipe, refusing to tell anyone what it was.

A teenager was putting on a costume nearby. Oh to be young again. But Laurie was in her 50s. Some said she was still young, but she knew they were only being kind.

The 50 year old actress looked at the teenager again. Then she remembered. That youth was Renee. Renee had asked her a peculiar question when they met on Tuesday. The teen was having trouble with some of her lines and had asked Laurie to mentor her.

After putting on the costume, Renee approached the older lady and her now mentor.

Shyly handing Laurie a letter, she blushed.

Laurie took the envelope. The stamp on the front declared it was from Amsterdam. It must be a letter from her brother.

Ripping it open, she unfolded a letter, written in her brother’s scrawl. A vial of brown liquid tumbled onto her hand as she did so.

Eyes scanned the letter excitedly, but one sentence stood out.

“This vial is the end product of my project and is the Elixir of Youth.”

As soon as she was alone, she promised herself, she’d drink it!

Dragon’s Ire

Night had fallen on the little village, while Wilkes walked home. Nervously looking behind him, he saw the sun set just before he reached his brother’s house. 

“Where have you been? We’ve been looking for you all over!” announced his sister as she answered the door. His brother could be seen standing just inside the hallway. 

“Amie, please let him in,” his brother, Sage, rescued him from any more questions. “The main thing is that he’s here.” 

Wilkes wearily entered the long hallway. It ran half the length of the house, starting at the front door and ending at the little living room towards the back yard. 

“Okay, Wilkes, what news do you bring?” Sage questioned, now that all three of them were inside. 

Wilkes’ sad eyes looked into Sage’s curious ones, and then Amie’s. 

“The Dragon burnt down the village over the hill. He’s on his way here.” 

Amie’s eyes were round, as Sage gasped. 

“What about everyone? Did anyone escape?” asked Amie. 

“I don’t know, Ames,” Wilkes shook his head. 

All three hung their heads, silent in the glare from the happy little fire obediently staying in the fireplace. It sputtered a little and Sage picked up the poker to stir it. But a Salamanda appeared, bright and golden. Sage leapt backwards, but the Salamanda stayed inside the fire and didn’t attempt to crawl out. 

“I bring tidings,” she hissed. 

Wilkes, Sage and Amie all stared at her. A Salamanda in their fireplace? This was most unusual. 

“Yes,” ventured Sage. 

“The Dragon is changing course. For today, you are safe.” 

“And what of the Villagers?” Amie croaked out of a dry throat. 

“All safe. What’s more, your parents will be arriving tonight.” 

And with that, the fire flared and the Salamanda was gone. 

The Swamp

He wandered, not sure whether it was aimless or not. Lost on the path that was meant to be taking him home.

Was it the right path?

It had occurred to him that this path might not be going in the direction it was meant too.

He’d narrowly escaped the clutches of the Swamp Witch, and was now looking for the way home.

The forest was enchanted. Gerard knew that much. Around knobs and hollows in the trees fairies buzzed. Their different coloured auras looked like tiny moving lights in the gloom.

And in patches where the light shone through the dense canopy, little gnome villages could be seen, their red and white toadstool shaped houses obvious if you knew where to look.

He walked past such a village, positive he’d seen it before.

But there ahead, he saw it. Proof that the path was deliberately leading him astray. The Swamp Witch’s house stood out, tall and proud in amongst the Swamp.

He smiled ruefully to himself.

Yep. The path home was enchanted too, and he didn’t have a clue as to how to get out.

Water

“I don’t want to go into the water, Mum,” my brother, Wilson, pleaded.

“Silly boy.” She shook her head and then her tail.

Mum, I don’t want to,” he complained again.

So, it was up to me, the big sister, to show the way.

I dipped a toe in, and then joined him in whinging.

“It’s all cold and wet feeling,” I told her.

Mother sighed.

“We’re designed to swim, both my silly ducklings.”

The others were already splashing around in the river, with our Father. This fear was humiliating.

Just then, we heard it. A rustling in the bushes. All three of us turned, and stared into two amber eyes.

“FOX!” yelled Wilson, and we raced each other to the riverbank and dived in. I looked around, and was relieved to see our Mother swimming towards us.

Looking back to where we had been, I saw the fox slunk off heading towards the cover of the forest.

“I told you the water was safe,” she admonished.

Once upon a time I would have resented her smugness, but today?

As Wilson and our other brothers and sisters joined us, and Father took up the rear, I was too relieved to care.

Meaning of life

I’m in my middle years of life. Sometimes I wonder why they’re not called the muddle years as life seems to suddenly turn upside down and inside out.

I remember my 30s. Life was ahead of me. My thought was that I was wise now and had years to sort out life.

Once, I was 20. The road ahead glistened with all things new and there was potential everywere.

But I am in my 40s and am a Writer. So there is only one cure… ad that is to write about it.

I can see my next novel now… the plot is as follows:

Character… 40 yo. Desire… Meaning of life… Obstacle… she’s living with a Magical Pumpkin Pie that won’t let her leave…

Anyone else know how to turn this into a meaningful story?

Novel project

Bear with me a while. My aim is still to publish regularly on Liz’s Everest.

But now, and until the end of October, my focus is on writing a book.

So far, I’ve started the first chapter. The opening scene can be found in a story I wrote in May 2020. It’s called Yellow Rose and can be found in the Archive.

The Archive can be found at the bottom of the Welcome and Archives page, accessible from the menu.

The name may change. At this point I am unsure. But stories tend to suggest their own titles… so I’ll allow the novel to tell me what it’d like to be called.

Thank you for continuing to support my work.

Liz

Ancestor

The swimmer kept doing his laps. The ocean pool, cemented into what was once a rock lagoon, was bitterly cold, and the icy wind only made it more so. But it reminded him of home, and of Neptune.

A woman stood on the shore, a collection of seashells in her hand. By the make up on her face and the blue wig covering a tightly wound bun, she could have been an Actor.

Finally, the swimmer pushed himself up onto the ledge that ran the perimeter of the ocean pool. Looking up as he vigorously rubbed his body dry with a towel, he saw her. A wave and a smile greeted her, and then he was on the footpath winding its way back to the beach.

“Kevin, aren’t you cold?” Brown eyes gave a troubled look at the scantily clad man, as he approached.

“Yeah. A coffee will heat me up.”
Kevin smiled at Katherine, as he started towards the black Volkswagon.

Later, Katherine sat at the Cafe, 2 lattes sitting on the table infront of her.

“They’re cold now. You took too long.”

Kevin’s golden eyes crinkled as he grinned. He pulled out a chair and leaned back.

His eyes were unusual, she had always thought. And so was his obsession with swimming that ocean pool. Katherine had resigned herself to never understanding.

The red headed man across from her, raised the mug to his lips.

“This tracksuit is too warm. Mind if i take off my jumper?”

“No. There’s no one here to see.”

A head emerged as the navy jumper fell to the ground. With his chest bare, he could have been a Greek God.

Sighing, Katherine met his gaze. “You’re crazy. I swear you’re part Mer-man.”

The golden eyes crinkled again as he smiled.

*If only she knew my father* But his smile hid his true thoughts.