Donate coins to EyesofArt.
Juice
Cancel
Written by EyesofArt

Winter's Tick Tock

Winter has come early this year; some welcome it as others wish they have more time to prepare. 

Time.

Time lingers for those who wish it did not.

Time stops for those who beg for the sound of ticking.

Unfortunately, time ceases for a few moments when the first snowfall touches the earth. The power of time intermingles with the coldest season. The pleasure of her touch is ripped from her lover's grasp.

For a moment, there was darkness as her eyes closed for the final time in the body she inhabited for thirty-two years. Everything seems lost after that last moment except love and passion.

Time was different now.

Time seems out of sync, so she thought as she stands in cemetery unaffected by the chill in the air. It was oddly warm to her.

However, the ticks of time for those around her kept moving forward. She watches as each family, friend and foe listen to the eulogy only her mother has put together. She knew her mother’s words even though someone else was reading it.

Snow cascades down upon her wood cherry casket. Why the cherry wood, she thought to herself.

“Because the cherry tree symbolizes strong expression, rebirth, new awakenings and compassion. It is time.” The voice startles her.

“Who goes there? I am not afraid!” She yells into nothing. A few minutes of silence before she realizes as days slowly pass, she could not leave the cemetery, something was holding her back. Over time she watches other ethereal beings go through an unknown tunnel of darkness. Maybe staying here was best for her.

                                                                                                        To be continued…

5
1
0
Juice
28 reads
Donate coins to EyesofArt.
Juice
Cancel
Written by EyesofArt
Winter's Tick Tock
Winter has come early this year; some welcome it as others wish they have more time to prepare. 
Time.
Time lingers for those who wish it did not.
Time stops for those who beg for the sound of ticking.
Unfortunately, time ceases for a few moments when the first snowfall touches the earth. The power of time intermingles with the coldest season. The pleasure of her touch is ripped from her lover's grasp.
For a moment, there was darkness as her eyes closed for the final time in the body she inhabited for thirty-two years. Everything seems lost after that last moment except love and passion.

Time was different now.

Time seems out of sync, so she thought as she stands in cemetery unaffected by the chill in the air. It was oddly warm to her.
However, the ticks of time for those around her kept moving forward. She watches as each family, friend and foe listen to the eulogy only her mother has put together. She knew her mother’s words even though someone else was reading it.

Snow cascades down upon her wood cherry casket. Why the cherry wood, she thought to herself.
“Because the cherry tree symbolizes strong expression, rebirth, new awakenings and compassion. It is time.” The voice startles her.
“Who goes there? I am not afraid!” She yells into nothing. A few minutes of silence before she realizes as days slowly pass, she could not leave the cemetery, something was holding her back. Over time she watches other ethereal beings go through an unknown tunnel of darkness. Maybe staying here was best for her.

                                                                                                        To be continued…

#fantasy  #scifi  #fiction  #mystery  #shortstory 
5
1
0
Juice
28 reads
Login to post comments.
Advertisement  (turn off)
Donate coins to TotalBookNerd.
Juice
Cancel
Written by TotalBookNerd

True Colours

It didn’t surprise me when Julian came home today with blood covering his shirt. At first I thought that he was being bullied, since he refused to go to school for a week, but that thought quickly died out when I received an email from the principal informing me about his suspension. I was even more stunned when I discovered that he was suspended for severely beating up a classmate.

“Hey, Jules. How was school today?” I inquired. I received an infamous grunt in response. I then said, “I’m making your favorite tonight; chicken lasagne.” I looked towards Julian with a smile. With no response, he angrily sped up the stairs to his bedroom, shutting the door quite violently behind him. I let out a sigh then continued to prepare the dish until darkness bled out into the sky before I finally proceeded towards Julian’s bedroom.

“Jules, I’m coming inside.” I said and slowly opened the door.

He was sitting against the headboard, headphones in and eyes looking distant. “I’m going to tell you a story.” I said, taking a seat on the corner of his bed.

“You’re wasting your breath if you’re thinking of telling me a bedtime story, Cara.” It’s the most that he had said to me in weeks.

I pretended to ignore his response and continued, “When dad proposed to mum, gran didn’t approve. She barely knew him yet she judged him. One day when dad was walking home he saw a woman having trouble carrying her goods on the street. She was taking groceries to her mum who lived far away and had no one to take her there, so dad accompanied her. Through the journey the woman only talked about a certain man she hated because he wanted to marry her daughter and she felt that he wasn’t good enough because he was black. Dad silently listened through it all until they reached her mother’s house. The woman thanked him profusely than asked for his name. She paled when he replied because that’s when she realized that the man she hated so much had just helped her.” I paused, stealing a glance at Julian who had tears in his eyes.

“After that day she changed her mind on the marriage.” I added.

“No matter how tough life was for dad, he didn’t take it out on those around him. I know it’s hard, Jules. I’m not mum, I can’t comfort you the way you want me to, but I am your sister and I will keep trying to help you, no matter how much you push me away.” Tears threatened to fall from my eyes.

“We can be a whole family. Two halves of a whole, don’t you think?” I asked trying to smile. 

“Maybe.” was all he had said. The next day when he came home, his shirt was untarnished.

5
2
0
Juice
18 reads
Donate coins to TotalBookNerd.
Juice
Cancel
Written by TotalBookNerd
True Colours

It didn’t surprise me when Julian came home today with blood covering his shirt. At first I thought that he was being bullied, since he refused to go to school for a week, but that thought quickly died out when I received an email from the principal informing me about his suspension. I was even more stunned when I discovered that he was suspended for severely beating up a classmate.

“Hey, Jules. How was school today?” I inquired. I received an infamous grunt in response. I then said, “I’m making your favorite tonight; chicken lasagne.” I looked towards Julian with a smile. With no response, he angrily sped up the stairs to his bedroom, shutting the door quite violently behind him. I let out a sigh then continued to prepare the dish until darkness bled out into the sky before I finally proceeded towards Julian’s bedroom.

“Jules, I’m coming inside.” I said and slowly opened the door.

He was sitting against the headboard, headphones in and eyes looking distant. “I’m going to tell you a story.” I said, taking a seat on the corner of his bed.

“You’re wasting your breath if you’re thinking of telling me a bedtime story, Cara.” It’s the most that he had said to me in weeks.

I pretended to ignore his response and continued, “When dad proposed to mum, gran didn’t approve. She barely knew him yet she judged him. One day when dad was walking home he saw a woman having trouble carrying her goods on the street. She was taking groceries to her mum who lived far away and had no one to take her there, so dad accompanied her. Through the journey the woman only talked about a certain man she hated because he wanted to marry her daughter and she felt that he wasn’t good enough because he was black. Dad silently listened through it all until they reached her mother’s house. The woman thanked him profusely than asked for his name. She paled when he replied because that’s when she realized that the man she hated so much had just helped her.” I paused, stealing a glance at Julian who had tears in his eyes.

“After that day she changed her mind on the marriage.” I added.

“No matter how tough life was for dad, he didn’t take it out on those around him. I know it’s hard, Jules. I’m not mum, I can’t comfort you the way you want me to, but I am your sister and I will keep trying to help you, no matter how much you push me away.” Tears threatened to fall from my eyes.

“We can be a whole family. Two halves of a whole, don’t you think?” I asked trying to smile. 

“Maybe.” was all he had said. The next day when he came home, his shirt was untarnished.

#fiction  #shortstory  #bedtimestory 
5
2
0
Juice
18 reads
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to seanarturo.
Juice
Cancel
Write the longest grammatically sound alliteration you can possibly muster. The longest such alliteration's author wins $150 if, and only if, this challenge receives at least 300 entries. Editing is allowed.
Written by seanarturo in portal Words

Someone Said Sentences Should Stay Short

Someone suspiciously strange, somewhat secretive (surely surreptitious) solicited stupendous sentences somehow sensible - sustaining scrutiny - stretching such staggeringly spun spans so society should sense shocking, stupefying, surprising, stunning, startling speechlessness such so someone shall say such spun sentences surely stole speech stealthily, seemingly suspending synapses sidelined subsequently since seeing strained spreads so smoothly, swimmingly, steadily struck (surely spurning simplicity); someone surely superb, somewhat spectacular (seemingly smart) scrawled swiftly such special strings somehow sensible - specifically shrewd - stretching sagaciously solely so society shall stay shocked, surprised, stunned, startled, spell-cast, (simply speechless) seeing stuff said so sublimely (surely seductively) somehow stated in a drabble.

6
2
1
Juice
21 reads
Donate coins to seanarturo.
Juice
Cancel
Write the longest grammatically sound alliteration you can possibly muster. The longest such alliteration's author wins $150 if, and only if, this challenge receives at least 300 entries. Editing is allowed.
Written by seanarturo in portal Words
Someone Said Sentences Should Stay Short
Someone suspiciously strange, somewhat secretive (surely surreptitious) solicited stupendous sentences somehow sensible - sustaining scrutiny - stretching such staggeringly spun spans so society should sense shocking, stupefying, surprising, stunning, startling speechlessness such so someone shall say such spun sentences surely stole speech stealthily, seemingly suspending synapses sidelined subsequently since seeing strained spreads so smoothly, swimmingly, steadily struck (surely spurning simplicity); someone surely superb, somewhat spectacular (seemingly smart) scrawled swiftly such special strings somehow sensible - specifically shrewd - stretching sagaciously solely so society shall stay shocked, surprised, stunned, startled, spell-cast, (simply speechless) seeing stuff said so sublimely (surely seductively) somehow stated in a drabble.
#nonfiction  #shortstory  #100  #drabble  #sentence 
6
2
1
Juice
21 reads
Load 1 Comment
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to ChanelleJoy.
Juice
Cancel
Written by ChanelleJoy in portal Fiction

RED (Part 4)

Two weeks passed and I didn’t see any sign of the strange visitor. I was ready to dismiss the whole thing as a vivid daydream, probably brought about by my need to feel safe and secure. Jacqui and I had become best friends. We were inseparable. I was slowing gaining confidence and had even made a few more friends. The two other ladies staying in the room with Jacqui and I were lovely. Jill, the spunky sixty-year-old, became the mother hen. She was a bit rough around the edges but had a heart as big and bright as the sun. Her hair was short and almost all grey and her blue eyes always had the look of mischief about them. She gave amazing advice and she gave it to you straight; no pink-frosted icing, no beating around the bush. I liked her a lot. At nineteen, Ruby was the baby of the room. She was also the smartest in the room with an IQ bordering on genius. Astronomy was her favourite hobby and she was currently completing her Bachelor of Science, majoring in Astronomy and Astrophysics. Her goal was to get a job at NASA and I wouldn’t have been surprised if she achieved this. She had a quietly assiduous way about her. A book travelled along wherever she went and she always seemed to be working on something, usually “space stuff,” as we eloquently dubbed it. If it wasn’t space stuff, it was puzzles; crosswords and Sudoku mainly. She said it relaxed her, helped to quiet her mind. If she had nothing to do she would get anxious and start heading down the rabbit hole of panic attacks and way too much analytical thinking.

Then there was Dale. Dale – the attractive thirty-four-year-old with his unruly mess of dark brown hair, usually hidden under an akubra that shaded cheeky, hazel eyes. Dale – with his lean, suntanned, muscular body, strong masculine jaw with just a hint of stubble and dazzling smile. His rugged good looks fit in quite well with the desert landscape. He was a Jackaroo on his family’s ranch in Queensland and was in the Northern Territory for both business and pleasure. Romance was not something I had expected on this trip but the first day I met him, I could hardly keep my eyes off him. Not only was he unquestionably handsome, he was also extremely talented with a guitar and had a beautiful voice that sounded kind of like Keith Urban mixed with a bit of Diesel. To top it off, he could cook a mean roast. He was the epitome of male perfection. My heart could barely contain itself within the confines of my ribcage. It wanted to leap out and attach itself to his. I can’t honestly say it was love at first sight; more like lust at first sight, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, as Jill pointed out.

“We all need a good root every now and then. More of the now than the then,” she added with a chuckle. “I tell you, me and my husband, boy could we give it a good go!”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or blush. I’d never heard anyone talk that way. She was right though, in saying that lust at first sight wasn’t a bad thing. It gave me hope. I hadn’t thought it would ever be possible for me to feel anything remotely positive towards another man. This proved to me that I wasn’t entirely broken and that maybe Simon hadn’t damaged me beyond repair. Simon! I’d completely forgotten. He would be back from his business trip by now. My fear intensified as I couldn’t help but wonder about his reaction to my absence. Could he find me here? Would he even try? I succeeded in working myself up into a hysterical mess.

“Calm down, love.” Jill sat at my side rubbing my back. Jacqui held my hand on the opposite side and Ruby gave me a paper bag to breathe into.

“Don’t let him ruin this adventure for you when he isn’t even here,” Jacqui said emphatically. She knew how I was feeling, much more so than the other two. It was advice she had given herself many times. Even now, though it was years later, she was still trying to learn how to put it into practice.

“Jacqui’s right, Erin. Worrying about it won’t change whether it happens or not. Breathe, Erin or you will hyperventilate.” Ruby brought the paper bag back up to my mouth.

“If there is one thing I have learned in my life, it’s to live in the moment, in the here and now. Why waste time and energy thinking about the past. The past is the past. It’s over and done with. The future hasn’t happened yet so why waste time and energy wondering about all the ‘what ifs’? Erin, look at me.” Jill took my chin in her hand and turned me to look at her. Her eyes were serious for once. “Right now, Simon is thousands of kilometres away. Right now, he can’t hurt you. Right now, you are here with three sexy ladies and one incredibly sexy Jackaroo. You couldn’t possibly be in a better place!” She winked at me and I giggled. The mischievous Jill was never far away.

3
1
0
Juice
26 reads
Donate coins to ChanelleJoy.
Juice
Cancel
Written by ChanelleJoy in portal Fiction
RED (Part 4)
Two weeks passed and I didn’t see any sign of the strange visitor. I was ready to dismiss the whole thing as a vivid daydream, probably brought about by my need to feel safe and secure. Jacqui and I had become best friends. We were inseparable. I was slowing gaining confidence and had even made a few more friends. The two other ladies staying in the room with Jacqui and I were lovely. Jill, the spunky sixty-year-old, became the mother hen. She was a bit rough around the edges but had a heart as big and bright as the sun. Her hair was short and almost all grey and her blue eyes always had the look of mischief about them. She gave amazing advice and she gave it to you straight; no pink-frosted icing, no beating around the bush. I liked her a lot. At nineteen, Ruby was the baby of the room. She was also the smartest in the room with an IQ bordering on genius. Astronomy was her favourite hobby and she was currently completing her Bachelor of Science, majoring in Astronomy and Astrophysics. Her goal was to get a job at NASA and I wouldn’t have been surprised if she achieved this. She had a quietly assiduous way about her. A book travelled along wherever she went and she always seemed to be working on something, usually “space stuff,” as we eloquently dubbed it. If it wasn’t space stuff, it was puzzles; crosswords and Sudoku mainly. She said it relaxed her, helped to quiet her mind. If she had nothing to do she would get anxious and start heading down the rabbit hole of panic attacks and way too much analytical thinking.

Then there was Dale. Dale – the attractive thirty-four-year-old with his unruly mess of dark brown hair, usually hidden under an akubra that shaded cheeky, hazel eyes. Dale – with his lean, suntanned, muscular body, strong masculine jaw with just a hint of stubble and dazzling smile. His rugged good looks fit in quite well with the desert landscape. He was a Jackaroo on his family’s ranch in Queensland and was in the Northern Territory for both business and pleasure. Romance was not something I had expected on this trip but the first day I met him, I could hardly keep my eyes off him. Not only was he unquestionably handsome, he was also extremely talented with a guitar and had a beautiful voice that sounded kind of like Keith Urban mixed with a bit of Diesel. To top it off, he could cook a mean roast. He was the epitome of male perfection. My heart could barely contain itself within the confines of my ribcage. It wanted to leap out and attach itself to his. I can’t honestly say it was love at first sight; more like lust at first sight, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, as Jill pointed out.

“We all need a good root every now and then. More of the now than the then,” she added with a chuckle. “I tell you, me and my husband, boy could we give it a good go!”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or blush. I’d never heard anyone talk that way. She was right though, in saying that lust at first sight wasn’t a bad thing. It gave me hope. I hadn’t thought it would ever be possible for me to feel anything remotely positive towards another man. This proved to me that I wasn’t entirely broken and that maybe Simon hadn’t damaged me beyond repair. Simon! I’d completely forgotten. He would be back from his business trip by now. My fear intensified as I couldn’t help but wonder about his reaction to my absence. Could he find me here? Would he even try? I succeeded in working myself up into a hysterical mess.

“Calm down, love.” Jill sat at my side rubbing my back. Jacqui held my hand on the opposite side and Ruby gave me a paper bag to breathe into.

“Don’t let him ruin this adventure for you when he isn’t even here,” Jacqui said emphatically. She knew how I was feeling, much more so than the other two. It was advice she had given herself many times. Even now, though it was years later, she was still trying to learn how to put it into practice.

“Jacqui’s right, Erin. Worrying about it won’t change whether it happens or not. Breathe, Erin or you will hyperventilate.” Ruby brought the paper bag back up to my mouth.

“If there is one thing I have learned in my life, it’s to live in the moment, in the here and now. Why waste time and energy thinking about the past. The past is the past. It’s over and done with. The future hasn’t happened yet so why waste time and energy wondering about all the ‘what ifs’? Erin, look at me.” Jill took my chin in her hand and turned me to look at her. Her eyes were serious for once. “Right now, Simon is thousands of kilometres away. Right now, he can’t hurt you. Right now, you are here with three sexy ladies and one incredibly sexy Jackaroo. You couldn’t possibly be in a better place!” She winked at me and I giggled. The mischievous Jill was never far away.
#fiction  #shortstory  #desert  #red  #australia 
3
1
0
Juice
26 reads
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to ChanelleJoy.
Juice
Cancel
Written by ChanelleJoy

RED (Part Two)

That night I dreamed of the Outback. It called to me and, almost as if it were instinctual, I answered the call. I was an eagle soaring high and free above the hot, red land; the land my dream-self called home. I flew over Uluru, dove down to let the tips of my talons brush the waters of the Katherine, let the wind catch me beneath my wings to lift me back up into the clear, sapphire sky. It was exhilarating. I didn’t want to wake up. I wanted to keep dreaming this dream forever. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option. I woke early, as always, and headed downstairs to make Simon’s breakfast. He would be expecting to have it all prepared and ready for him when he awoke. The dream stayed vivid in my mind all day, an endless reel playing on repeat, making it difficult to ignore. I rushed through my chores for the day and before Simon arrived home from work, I organized my flights and accommodation. I had a small amount of money saved from the time before Simon, when I’d had a job as a waitress at a dingy little café.

Three days later, Simon left for his two-week business trip. As soon as his car was out of sight I went into action. I packed everything up that I wouldn’t be taking with me to the Outback and took them to a storage facility. I didn’t have a lot of stuff so it didn’t take long. I sold all my expensive jewelry and clothes, even the car I used. Suddenly, I had a lot of money and the means to go wherever I wanted. You would think I’d be happy, but I’d never been more terrified in my life. When the day came for me to leave, I almost didn’t. A torrent of thoughts came flooding through my mind like a tidal wave. What was I thinking? This wasn’t me. I wasn’t rash or bold or brave. This is a mistake. The little old lady’s words came back to me, as did the dream and a great sense of peace. No, I corrected, this was right. In fact, it was high past time that I did this. With renewed determination, I called a taxi and headed for the airport, never once looking back.

After a short, three-hour flight from Sydney, I arrived at the Ayers Rock airport a little after 4:00pm, local time. From there it had been a brief drive to my accommodation in Yulara. I was staying in the Desert Explorers Inn. I hadn’t wanted anything fancy. If there was a comfortable bed, showers and a flushing toilet, I was happy. I would be sharing the room with three others. They had not arrived yet so I dumped my luggage in the room, not bothering to unpack, and headed straight outdoors to explore.

Now, here I stood. The immensity of what I had done still hadn’t quite sunk in yet. It was all a blur. I’d been running on pure adrenaline, constantly glancing over my shoulder in case Simon should give chase. Here, in the peace and tranquility, it all became very real. I’d done it. Go me! A soft breeze blew loose tendrils of my long, dark hair across my face. Absently, I tucked them behind my ear. I should feel proud of myself, and I was, but the uneasiness and trepidation still had not dissipated. I had hoped those feelings would be gone once I arrived yet they lingered on. A sound of wheels on gravel made me jump and brought me out of my reverie. Turning, I saw a woman around my own twenty-nine years climbing nimbly out of a taxi, pulling a red bag behind her. I breathed a sigh of relief as she brought another red bag out of the boot. It was just another guest. With a bag in each hand she headed towards check in. I should offer to help, I thought. That would mean talking and conversation; another two things that had become foreign to me. No one was ever interested in what I had to say and if they were, it was only to refute, mock or chastise. I learned it was better if I only spoke when spoken to or not at all. It was time to break that habit. Pushing down the butterflies that had suddenly taken wing in my chest and stomach, I turned my face into what I hoped was a friendly smile and walked towards her.

“Hi.” Nowhere near loud enough. Come on, I coaxed myself. You can do it. I tried again.

“Hi.” Success.

“Hey,” she replied.

“Um, would you like some help?” I asked.

“Oh, that would be great.” She passed one of the bags to me. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.” Now that the initial contact had been made, I had no idea what to say next. Introduce yourself, my brain nudged.

“Um, I’m Erin by the way.” Oh, this was so awkward. I was regretting ever having spoken to begin with.

The woman smiled at me, holding out a hand. It took me a moment to remember what that meant. Right, she wanted to shake hands.

“Nice to meet you, Erin. I’m Jacqueline but I prefer Jacqui.” She made a face. “Jacqueline is such a mouthful.”

I laughed, startling myself as I shook her hand. “Nice to meet you too, Jacqui. And I think Jacqueline is a nice name.”

Now Jacqui laughed. “So did my parents, or someone, apparently.” She checked in and we carted her bags off to her room, discovering that she would be one of my room mates.

“Oh cool, we get to be roomies.” Jacqui exclaimed. “Which bed have you claimed?”

I pointed. “Bottom bunk of that one.”

“Mind if I take the top? I’ve met you and you seem ok so far.” She chuckled. “Don’t want to take my chances on our other roommates.”

“Go for it.”

“Sweet. Thanks.” She shoved her bags aside and jumped up to the top bunk to test the mattress. 

Despite being quite short, she managed to get up with little effort. “Hmm, not too bad. So, where you from, Erin?” 

Leaning over the railing, she looked at me with large, dark eyes. She was a beautiful woman – unusual, but beautiful with her short, purple hair, full lips and skin that looked like it had seen a lot of sun. She seemed friendly, too. I decided I liked her. Maybe this would be my first new friend. Better not get ahead of myself though. One step at a time, Erin.

“I’m from out Sydney way. How about you?”

“Melbourne now but I was actually born here, in the outback.”

“Oh wow. Why did you leave?” I asked then cringed, realizing too late that I was prying. Jacqui didn’t seem to mind but her answer was vague.

“Oh, various reasons. But I always end up back here. It’s like there is a cord attached to me and I can only go so far before it pulls me back. I can’t escape.” Jacqui sighed. “It’s frustrating but comfortable at the same time. How’s that for a paradox?”

Her sudden melancholy made me feel guilty. “I’m sorry. I should not have pried like that. I’m, well, I’m not really used to conversation and making small talk. It’s going to take some time to relearn the do’s and don’ts.”

“No, it’s ok. Really. It’s good to talk to someone about it. I don’t really have a lot of people I can talk to.”

“We have that in common then.” Seeing as she had shared something personal I felt I should as well. “I haven’t been in the best of situations lately and, well, I feel I’ve sort of lost myself, you know? People tried to tell me who I was but, I think they were just trying to force me to be someone they wanted me to be. That’s why I came here, to find myself again.” I stopped and took a deep breath. That was the most words I had spoken all at once for a long time.

Jacqui studied me for a moment before speaking. “Seems like we have a few things in common.” She smiled. “I have a feeling we are going to be great friends.”

I liked her even more. We stayed up talking well into the night. I learned she had come from a broken home here in the Northern Territory. Her mother had been a junkie and she never knew her father.

“I think he may have been Aboriginal. I’ve been told I look half and half. Some local kids used to call me half cast.” She made a face. “I didn’t even know what it meant back then.”

I frowned and shook my head. Kids could be so cruel sometimes. Though I’m sure it was more a reflection on the parents and their lack of parenting rather than the actual child.

“When I was born, I was a heroin baby. They had to ween me off it. They were going to adopt me out there and then but mum promised she would sober up and quit. She kept her word, for a few years at least anyway. As soon as I was old enough to go to school, she fell back into old habits. I learned early on how to take care of myself.”

Eyes wide, I sat on the edge of the bed waiting for her to continue. She went on to say that, finally, when she was ten, someone had reported her situation and the child protection workers came to take her away. That was how she had ended up in Melbourne; as a foster child. She had bounced around several homes until she was in her teens. At fifteen, she moved in with her first boyfriend until he started getting abusive. She ran away and from there, the streets became her home for a while.

“It was tough. I managed to get in with another group of kids and we all looked out for each other. I’d be lying if I said they were a nice bunch of people but at the time, they were what I needed. The streets are dangerous for a young girl, especially one on her own. I learned that the hard way.”

Tears flowed down my cheeks as she told me about the first time she was raped. The fear, the anger, the pain, the demoralization, the humiliation, the guilt, the feeling that something precious had been stolen from you that you would never get back; I knew it all. Simon was great at it and he was great at convincing me that it was my fault, that he was doing this because I had made him. Hearing Jacqui’s story however, I was thankful that I had only experienced rape from one person and that he hadn’t been a stranger. Although, I think in some ways it’s worse when it’s someone you know, someone you once trusted and held in high regard. Either way, Jacqui’s experience was far worse. It had happened to her more times than she could count and most of those times had been by one of her foster fathers when she was just 13. He did it to all the girls they looked after, a different one each day. How his wife never knew was beyond Jacqui. The next year, a group of men in their twenties followed her home one night. Unaware of the danger lurking behind her, she had crossed into the park. There they grabbed her, dragged her into some bushes and each had their turn. She thought she was going to die there and then and would have welcomed it. Just at that moment, while she was waiting for death’s cold embrace, a woman suddenly appeared, looking down at her with compassion and concern. She helped Jacqui up and half walked, half carried her to her foster home. When they got to the door, Jacqui had turned to say thank you, but the woman was nowhere to be seen.

“I really have no idea where she went. One minute she was there, the next she was just gone. I ran back down the steps and looked in every direction. Nothing. Like she had vanished into thin air. I remember getting goose bumps. I don’t believe in God or angels but if I did, she would have been one.”

Goosebumps broke out over my arms also. It reminded me of the old woman at the supermarket. The two events were remarkably similar. Was it mere coincidence, orndivine intervention? If it was divine intervention, why hadn’t it happened before? And why hasn’t it happened again?

The last time Jacqui got raped happened not long after she had been out on the streets. She’d gone for a meal at a homeless shelter and another homeless man had followed her under the bridge where she’d made her bed. See, I thought, where was the divine intervention then?

“My opinion on life wasn’t a great one. If it hadn’t been for Deb and Rick, I don’t know what would have happened to me. They caught me one day trying to steal food from a grocery store. Instead of turning me in, they asked if they could help. I mouthed off at them of course, being the brat that I was, telling them I was no charity case and didn’t need any help from their rich asses. They just looked at me, all full of compassion and offered to buy me a meal. I was suspicious warily let them lead me to the food court where they asked me what I wanted. I couldn’t believe it, thought surely it was too good to be true. So, I decided to test them. I picked the fanciest place I could see. They didn’t even bat an eye lid; just walked right on in to this restaurant, asked for a table and sat me down. Everything sounded amazing. Still not believing them, I ordered the most expensive thing on the menu. It wasn’t until the food came out and they started eating – like it was the most natural thing in the world to be in a fancy restaurant with a homeless girl – that I realized this was for real. That’s when the dam walls broke. I don’t know how long we sat in that restaurant but I’d never cried or spoken so much in my whole life. They took me in and a couple months later I was legally adopted.” Jacqui shrugged as she concluded her story.

I wanted to hug her but I wasn’t quite there yet. Instead, for the first time, I shared my story. I told her all about growing up with parents who hadn’t wanted me. I told her all about Simon and my recent ‘great escape.” It seemed appropriate to call it that. She cried too. And she hugged me. It was nice. For a long moment, we just held each other tight, connected by our plights, connected simply by the raw need to feel human contact. We held each other until the last racking sobs had subsided and we both felt empty, light, as though we had just dropped something incredibly heavy. With a final sniff, Jacqui let me go. She wiped her eyes and gave a dry chuckle.

“And here I was expecting a simple holiday, keeping to myself, doing my own thing. Instead I find a soul mate.”

Tentatively I reached out and squeezed her hand. “So did I.”

We both slept solidly and soundly. It was the best sleep I had ever had.

 

1
1
0
Juice
21 reads
Donate coins to ChanelleJoy.
Juice
Cancel
Written by ChanelleJoy
RED (Part Two)
That night I dreamed of the Outback. It called to me and, almost as if it were instinctual, I answered the call. I was an eagle soaring high and free above the hot, red land; the land my dream-self called home. I flew over Uluru, dove down to let the tips of my talons brush the waters of the Katherine, let the wind catch me beneath my wings to lift me back up into the clear, sapphire sky. It was exhilarating. I didn’t want to wake up. I wanted to keep dreaming this dream forever. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option. I woke early, as always, and headed downstairs to make Simon’s breakfast. He would be expecting to have it all prepared and ready for him when he awoke. The dream stayed vivid in my mind all day, an endless reel playing on repeat, making it difficult to ignore. I rushed through my chores for the day and before Simon arrived home from work, I organized my flights and accommodation. I had a small amount of money saved from the time before Simon, when I’d had a job as a waitress at a dingy little café.

Three days later, Simon left for his two-week business trip. As soon as his car was out of sight I went into action. I packed everything up that I wouldn’t be taking with me to the Outback and took them to a storage facility. I didn’t have a lot of stuff so it didn’t take long. I sold all my expensive jewelry and clothes, even the car I used. Suddenly, I had a lot of money and the means to go wherever I wanted. You would think I’d be happy, but I’d never been more terrified in my life. When the day came for me to leave, I almost didn’t. A torrent of thoughts came flooding through my mind like a tidal wave. What was I thinking? This wasn’t me. I wasn’t rash or bold or brave. This is a mistake. The little old lady’s words came back to me, as did the dream and a great sense of peace. No, I corrected, this was right. In fact, it was high past time that I did this. With renewed determination, I called a taxi and headed for the airport, never once looking back.
After a short, three-hour flight from Sydney, I arrived at the Ayers Rock airport a little after 4:00pm, local time. From there it had been a brief drive to my accommodation in Yulara. I was staying in the Desert Explorers Inn. I hadn’t wanted anything fancy. If there was a comfortable bed, showers and a flushing toilet, I was happy. I would be sharing the room with three others. They had not arrived yet so I dumped my luggage in the room, not bothering to unpack, and headed straight outdoors to explore.

Now, here I stood. The immensity of what I had done still hadn’t quite sunk in yet. It was all a blur. I’d been running on pure adrenaline, constantly glancing over my shoulder in case Simon should give chase. Here, in the peace and tranquility, it all became very real. I’d done it. Go me! A soft breeze blew loose tendrils of my long, dark hair across my face. Absently, I tucked them behind my ear. I should feel proud of myself, and I was, but the uneasiness and trepidation still had not dissipated. I had hoped those feelings would be gone once I arrived yet they lingered on. A sound of wheels on gravel made me jump and brought me out of my reverie. Turning, I saw a woman around my own twenty-nine years climbing nimbly out of a taxi, pulling a red bag behind her. I breathed a sigh of relief as she brought another red bag out of the boot. It was just another guest. With a bag in each hand she headed towards check in. I should offer to help, I thought. That would mean talking and conversation; another two things that had become foreign to me. No one was ever interested in what I had to say and if they were, it was only to refute, mock or chastise. I learned it was better if I only spoke when spoken to or not at all. It was time to break that habit. Pushing down the butterflies that had suddenly taken wing in my chest and stomach, I turned my face into what I hoped was a friendly smile and walked towards her.

“Hi.” Nowhere near loud enough. Come on, I coaxed myself. You can do it. I tried again.

“Hi.” Success.

“Hey,” she replied.

“Um, would you like some help?” I asked.

“Oh, that would be great.” She passed one of the bags to me. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.” Now that the initial contact had been made, I had no idea what to say next. Introduce yourself, my brain nudged.

“Um, I’m Erin by the way.” Oh, this was so awkward. I was regretting ever having spoken to begin with.

The woman smiled at me, holding out a hand. It took me a moment to remember what that meant. Right, she wanted to shake hands.

“Nice to meet you, Erin. I’m Jacqueline but I prefer Jacqui.” She made a face. “Jacqueline is such a mouthful.”

I laughed, startling myself as I shook her hand. “Nice to meet you too, Jacqui. And I think Jacqueline is a nice name.”

Now Jacqui laughed. “So did my parents, or someone, apparently.” She checked in and we carted her bags off to her room, discovering that she would be one of my room mates.

“Oh cool, we get to be roomies.” Jacqui exclaimed. “Which bed have you claimed?”
I pointed. “Bottom bunk of that one.”

“Mind if I take the top? I’ve met you and you seem ok so far.” She chuckled. “Don’t want to take my chances on our other roommates.”

“Go for it.”

“Sweet. Thanks.” She shoved her bags aside and jumped up to the top bunk to test the mattress. 

Despite being quite short, she managed to get up with little effort. “Hmm, not too bad. So, where you from, Erin?” 

Leaning over the railing, she looked at me with large, dark eyes. She was a beautiful woman – unusual, but beautiful with her short, purple hair, full lips and skin that looked like it had seen a lot of sun. She seemed friendly, too. I decided I liked her. Maybe this would be my first new friend. Better not get ahead of myself though. One step at a time, Erin.

“I’m from out Sydney way. How about you?”

“Melbourne now but I was actually born here, in the outback.”

“Oh wow. Why did you leave?” I asked then cringed, realizing too late that I was prying. Jacqui didn’t seem to mind but her answer was vague.

“Oh, various reasons. But I always end up back here. It’s like there is a cord attached to me and I can only go so far before it pulls me back. I can’t escape.” Jacqui sighed. “It’s frustrating but comfortable at the same time. How’s that for a paradox?”

Her sudden melancholy made me feel guilty. “I’m sorry. I should not have pried like that. I’m, well, I’m not really used to conversation and making small talk. It’s going to take some time to relearn the do’s and don’ts.”

“No, it’s ok. Really. It’s good to talk to someone about it. I don’t really have a lot of people I can talk to.”

“We have that in common then.” Seeing as she had shared something personal I felt I should as well. “I haven’t been in the best of situations lately and, well, I feel I’ve sort of lost myself, you know? People tried to tell me who I was but, I think they were just trying to force me to be someone they wanted me to be. That’s why I came here, to find myself again.” I stopped and took a deep breath. That was the most words I had spoken all at once for a long time.

Jacqui studied me for a moment before speaking. “Seems like we have a few things in common.” She smiled. “I have a feeling we are going to be great friends.”

I liked her even more. We stayed up talking well into the night. I learned she had come from a broken home here in the Northern Territory. Her mother had been a junkie and she never knew her father.

“I think he may have been Aboriginal. I’ve been told I look half and half. Some local kids used to call me half cast.” She made a face. “I didn’t even know what it meant back then.”

I frowned and shook my head. Kids could be so cruel sometimes. Though I’m sure it was more a reflection on the parents and their lack of parenting rather than the actual child.

“When I was born, I was a heroin baby. They had to ween me off it. They were going to adopt me out there and then but mum promised she would sober up and quit. She kept her word, for a few years at least anyway. As soon as I was old enough to go to school, she fell back into old habits. I learned early on how to take care of myself.”

Eyes wide, I sat on the edge of the bed waiting for her to continue. She went on to say that, finally, when she was ten, someone had reported her situation and the child protection workers came to take her away. That was how she had ended up in Melbourne; as a foster child. She had bounced around several homes until she was in her teens. At fifteen, she moved in with her first boyfriend until he started getting abusive. She ran away and from there, the streets became her home for a while.

“It was tough. I managed to get in with another group of kids and we all looked out for each other. I’d be lying if I said they were a nice bunch of people but at the time, they were what I needed. The streets are dangerous for a young girl, especially one on her own. I learned that the hard way.”

Tears flowed down my cheeks as she told me about the first time she was raped. The fear, the anger, the pain, the demoralization, the humiliation, the guilt, the feeling that something precious had been stolen from you that you would never get back; I knew it all. Simon was great at it and he was great at convincing me that it was my fault, that he was doing this because I had made him. Hearing Jacqui’s story however, I was thankful that I had only experienced rape from one person and that he hadn’t been a stranger. Although, I think in some ways it’s worse when it’s someone you know, someone you once trusted and held in high regard. Either way, Jacqui’s experience was far worse. It had happened to her more times than she could count and most of those times had been by one of her foster fathers when she was just 13. He did it to all the girls they looked after, a different one each day. How his wife never knew was beyond Jacqui. The next year, a group of men in their twenties followed her home one night. Unaware of the danger lurking behind her, she had crossed into the park. There they grabbed her, dragged her into some bushes and each had their turn. She thought she was going to die there and then and would have welcomed it. Just at that moment, while she was waiting for death’s cold embrace, a woman suddenly appeared, looking down at her with compassion and concern. She helped Jacqui up and half walked, half carried her to her foster home. When they got to the door, Jacqui had turned to say thank you, but the woman was nowhere to be seen.

“I really have no idea where she went. One minute she was there, the next she was just gone. I ran back down the steps and looked in every direction. Nothing. Like she had vanished into thin air. I remember getting goose bumps. I don’t believe in God or angels but if I did, she would have been one.”

Goosebumps broke out over my arms also. It reminded me of the old woman at the supermarket. The two events were remarkably similar. Was it mere coincidence, orndivine intervention? If it was divine intervention, why hadn’t it happened before? And why hasn’t it happened again?

The last time Jacqui got raped happened not long after she had been out on the streets. She’d gone for a meal at a homeless shelter and another homeless man had followed her under the bridge where she’d made her bed. See, I thought, where was the divine intervention then?

“My opinion on life wasn’t a great one. If it hadn’t been for Deb and Rick, I don’t know what would have happened to me. They caught me one day trying to steal food from a grocery store. Instead of turning me in, they asked if they could help. I mouthed off at them of course, being the brat that I was, telling them I was no charity case and didn’t need any help from their rich asses. They just looked at me, all full of compassion and offered to buy me a meal. I was suspicious warily let them lead me to the food court where they asked me what I wanted. I couldn’t believe it, thought surely it was too good to be true. So, I decided to test them. I picked the fanciest place I could see. They didn’t even bat an eye lid; just walked right on in to this restaurant, asked for a table and sat me down. Everything sounded amazing. Still not believing them, I ordered the most expensive thing on the menu. It wasn’t until the food came out and they started eating – like it was the most natural thing in the world to be in a fancy restaurant with a homeless girl – that I realized this was for real. That’s when the dam walls broke. I don’t know how long we sat in that restaurant but I’d never cried or spoken so much in my whole life. They took me in and a couple months later I was legally adopted.” Jacqui shrugged as she concluded her story.

I wanted to hug her but I wasn’t quite there yet. Instead, for the first time, I shared my story. I told her all about growing up with parents who hadn’t wanted me. I told her all about Simon and my recent ‘great escape.” It seemed appropriate to call it that. She cried too. And she hugged me. It was nice. For a long moment, we just held each other tight, connected by our plights, connected simply by the raw need to feel human contact. We held each other until the last racking sobs had subsided and we both felt empty, light, as though we had just dropped something incredibly heavy. With a final sniff, Jacqui let me go. She wiped her eyes and gave a dry chuckle.

“And here I was expecting a simple holiday, keeping to myself, doing my own thing. Instead I find a soul mate.”

Tentatively I reached out and squeezed her hand. “So did I.”

We both slept solidly and soundly. It was the best sleep I had ever had.
 
#fiction  #shortstory  #desert  #red  #australia 
1
1
0
Juice
21 reads
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to ChanelleJoy.
Juice
Cancel
Written by ChanelleJoy in portal Fiction

RED (PART ONE)

Red – the colour of the Outback. Everywhere I looked was red; red sand beneath my feet, red rocks standing tall and proud. Even the sky was red as the sun threw out his final rays in a glorious grand finale. It was not farewell. He would be back in the morning to shine once again on these magnificent, rugged plains of red. I breathed deeply. It was my first day here in the Australian Desert – the first day of a four-week trip. Already I felt small and insignificant, like I was buried by the sheer grandeur of this vast, great land. But I didn’t feel smothered or overwhelmed. I felt free. This was my journey, my voyage of self-discovery. Here, I was alone. Here I could unpack the heavy baggage I carried within my soul. No airs or graces, no pretending, no acting like everything was fine when really, I was dying inside. No fake smiles, no holding back the tears, no lying. Just me, open, honest and raw. Raw like this desert.

Life had not been easy of late. Well, life had never really been easy. Somewhere along the way I had lost all the pieces of myself. I was like Humpty Dumpty after his great fall, only, there were no king’s horses or king’s men to help put me back together again. There was just me. That was fine. This way, no one else could try to tell me who I was. No one else could dictate my steps or coerce me into submission. I smiled. It felt odd, still a foreign thing to me. I could not remember the last time I had given a genuine smile. Wanting to capture the moment I lifted my camera to my eye and clicked. I wanted to document as much of this journey as possible.

I hadn’t told anyone where I was going. I hadn’t told my parents, or my brother. They wouldn’t care. They performed their obligatory family duties towards me; birthdays, Christmas, my wedding – but that was the extent of their affection. For the most part, I was invisible to them. I had no friends to tell and I especially had not told Simon, my husband. He would have arrived home from his business trip by now to find the house empty of all my belongings. I had finally worked up the courage to leave. I hadn’t, however, worked up the courage to confront him. So, I ran. And what better place to run to than the desert, I’d thought. No one would expect me to go there. At least, I hoped anyway. Simon would be angry. Of that there was no doubt. Angry enough to warrant searching for me, though? It was very possible, but that was a risk I had to take. I was done being his punching bag. When I’d first met Simon, he had seemed so wonderful. A few years older than me he was mature, settled in a good career and he looked at me as though I was someone. He treated me like a queen. Expensive dinners, expensive jewelry, expensive cars and an expensive house; I had it all. What I hadn’t noticed at the time was that he was quietly and subtly training me. The abuse started slowly at first. Just a little smack every now and then when I would make a mistake, or when I displeased him. Then on the other hand, I would receive gifts whenever I did something that Simon deemed correct. I was his dog and he was training me to obey my master.

I’d grown up in a home where I was taught to not be seen or heard unless the circumstances were dire. My parents had never wanted me. As far as they were concerned, my older brother was their only child. I was just an inconvenient nuisance; which was why I was so swept away by Simon at first. Then, when the abuse started, I didn’t even realise what was happening. I was so used to being told what to do, to being kept in my rightful place. I thought it was just normal behaviour.

One day, I was out doing the grocery shopping. Even though it was just groceries and I had to make sure I got everything Simon wanted, I quite enjoyed the experience. It was one of the only times I was allowed out on my own while he lounged about at home. I’d just finished paying for my purchases when I felt a hand on my shoulder. A dear little old lady with brilliant white hair was standing behind me.

“Excuse me, dear. I was wondering if you might help me unload my trolley. The arms and back aren’t like they used to be.”

I glanced nervously at my watch. I was allocated 2 hours to complete my shopping and I wasn’t supposed to talk to anyone unless I had to. Thinking about it now, there was no way Simon could have known if I did speak to someone, but back then I thought he was capable of anything. My watch told me my time was almost up. The old lady looked at me from wise blue eyes.

“Is everything ok dear?”

“Um, ah, yes. Yes, yes. Everything is fine,” I stuttered. “I’d be happy to help.” 

I quickly began to unload her trolley onto the conveyor belt. She thanked me then asked if I would wait and help her to the car. I glanced nervously at my watch again. I was going to be late yet I couldn’t refuse. She clearly couldn’t manage on her own. I hurried to unpack her trolley into the boot of her car, slammed the boot closed, said goodbye and began to dash off to my own car.

“Wait,” the woman called after me. 

Gritting my teeth, I turned back. “Yes?”

“You don’t have to stay with him you know,” she said.

I blinked in astonishment. “I don’t know what you mean,” I muttered unconvincingly.

The woman placed a hand on my arm. I flinched at the light touch. 

“Yes, you do. You don’t have to acknowledge it to me, but you need to know that you can leave. Heaven has someone else set aside for you, someone far, far better.”

I was shaking. How did she know? I started backing away. “I… I have to go.”

“Don’t worry. He will be asleep when you get home. He won’t even know.”

I turned and ran as best I could while pushing a loaded trolley. I threw everything into the boot, praying that nothing broke, jumped in the driver’s seat and floored it. I threw a glance to where the old lady had been. She was gone. Her car too. I scanned the car park but the little, old red Corolla could not be seen anywhere. She couldn’t have got away that fast. I glanced at my watch again. It wasn’t far to go but I was still going to be at least half an hour late. My heart hammered in my chest, pounding out a beat worthy of the dance floor and a cold sweat enveloped my body. My hands slipped on the steering wheel and I almost went crashing into the gutter. Amazingly, I managed to get my grip again just in time. There would have been a whole other level of punishment if I damaged the car. I slowed down when I reached my street and crept into the driveway. Inside, all thoughts of the old woman evaporated. I took the bags straight to kitchen and began to put everything away. I was on edge waiting for Simon to come raging in. He never did. It wasn’t until I went into the lounge room that I saw him, snoring, fast asleep on the lounge in front of the TV. Just like the woman had said. I broke out in goosebumps. Who was she? Some kind of psychic? I didn’t believe in God or angels so a psychic seemed the only other plausible explanation. That is, if you could call psychics plausible. I didn’t really believe in them either yet, if she was right about Simon being asleep, perhaps she was right about the rest as well.

6
1
0
Juice
40 reads
Donate coins to ChanelleJoy.
Juice
Cancel
Written by ChanelleJoy in portal Fiction
RED (PART ONE)
Red – the colour of the Outback. Everywhere I looked was red; red sand beneath my feet, red rocks standing tall and proud. Even the sky was red as the sun threw out his final rays in a glorious grand finale. It was not farewell. He would be back in the morning to shine once again on these magnificent, rugged plains of red. I breathed deeply. It was my first day here in the Australian Desert – the first day of a four-week trip. Already I felt small and insignificant, like I was buried by the sheer grandeur of this vast, great land. But I didn’t feel smothered or overwhelmed. I felt free. This was my journey, my voyage of self-discovery. Here, I was alone. Here I could unpack the heavy baggage I carried within my soul. No airs or graces, no pretending, no acting like everything was fine when really, I was dying inside. No fake smiles, no holding back the tears, no lying. Just me, open, honest and raw. Raw like this desert.

Life had not been easy of late. Well, life had never really been easy. Somewhere along the way I had lost all the pieces of myself. I was like Humpty Dumpty after his great fall, only, there were no king’s horses or king’s men to help put me back together again. There was just me. That was fine. This way, no one else could try to tell me who I was. No one else could dictate my steps or coerce me into submission. I smiled. It felt odd, still a foreign thing to me. I could not remember the last time I had given a genuine smile. Wanting to capture the moment I lifted my camera to my eye and clicked. I wanted to document as much of this journey as possible.

I hadn’t told anyone where I was going. I hadn’t told my parents, or my brother. They wouldn’t care. They performed their obligatory family duties towards me; birthdays, Christmas, my wedding – but that was the extent of their affection. For the most part, I was invisible to them. I had no friends to tell and I especially had not told Simon, my husband. He would have arrived home from his business trip by now to find the house empty of all my belongings. I had finally worked up the courage to leave. I hadn’t, however, worked up the courage to confront him. So, I ran. And what better place to run to than the desert, I’d thought. No one would expect me to go there. At least, I hoped anyway. Simon would be angry. Of that there was no doubt. Angry enough to warrant searching for me, though? It was very possible, but that was a risk I had to take. I was done being his punching bag. When I’d first met Simon, he had seemed so wonderful. A few years older than me he was mature, settled in a good career and he looked at me as though I was someone. He treated me like a queen. Expensive dinners, expensive jewelry, expensive cars and an expensive house; I had it all. What I hadn’t noticed at the time was that he was quietly and subtly training me. The abuse started slowly at first. Just a little smack every now and then when I would make a mistake, or when I displeased him. Then on the other hand, I would receive gifts whenever I did something that Simon deemed correct. I was his dog and he was training me to obey my master.

I’d grown up in a home where I was taught to not be seen or heard unless the circumstances were dire. My parents had never wanted me. As far as they were concerned, my older brother was their only child. I was just an inconvenient nuisance; which was why I was so swept away by Simon at first. Then, when the abuse started, I didn’t even realise what was happening. I was so used to being told what to do, to being kept in my rightful place. I thought it was just normal behaviour.

One day, I was out doing the grocery shopping. Even though it was just groceries and I had to make sure I got everything Simon wanted, I quite enjoyed the experience. It was one of the only times I was allowed out on my own while he lounged about at home. I’d just finished paying for my purchases when I felt a hand on my shoulder. A dear little old lady with brilliant white hair was standing behind me.

“Excuse me, dear. I was wondering if you might help me unload my trolley. The arms and back aren’t like they used to be.”

I glanced nervously at my watch. I was allocated 2 hours to complete my shopping and I wasn’t supposed to talk to anyone unless I had to. Thinking about it now, there was no way Simon could have known if I did speak to someone, but back then I thought he was capable of anything. My watch told me my time was almost up. The old lady looked at me from wise blue eyes.

“Is everything ok dear?”

“Um, ah, yes. Yes, yes. Everything is fine,” I stuttered. “I’d be happy to help.” 

I quickly began to unload her trolley onto the conveyor belt. She thanked me then asked if I would wait and help her to the car. I glanced nervously at my watch again. I was going to be late yet I couldn’t refuse. She clearly couldn’t manage on her own. I hurried to unpack her trolley into the boot of her car, slammed the boot closed, said goodbye and began to dash off to my own car.

“Wait,” the woman called after me. 

Gritting my teeth, I turned back. “Yes?”

“You don’t have to stay with him you know,” she said.

I blinked in astonishment. “I don’t know what you mean,” I muttered unconvincingly.
The woman placed a hand on my arm. I flinched at the light touch. 

“Yes, you do. You don’t have to acknowledge it to me, but you need to know that you can leave. Heaven has someone else set aside for you, someone far, far better.”

I was shaking. How did she know? I started backing away. “I… I have to go.”

“Don’t worry. He will be asleep when you get home. He won’t even know.”

I turned and ran as best I could while pushing a loaded trolley. I threw everything into the boot, praying that nothing broke, jumped in the driver’s seat and floored it. I threw a glance to where the old lady had been. She was gone. Her car too. I scanned the car park but the little, old red Corolla could not be seen anywhere. She couldn’t have got away that fast. I glanced at my watch again. It wasn’t far to go but I was still going to be at least half an hour late. My heart hammered in my chest, pounding out a beat worthy of the dance floor and a cold sweat enveloped my body. My hands slipped on the steering wheel and I almost went crashing into the gutter. Amazingly, I managed to get my grip again just in time. There would have been a whole other level of punishment if I damaged the car. I slowed down when I reached my street and crept into the driveway. Inside, all thoughts of the old woman evaporated. I took the bags straight to kitchen and began to put everything away. I was on edge waiting for Simon to come raging in. He never did. It wasn’t until I went into the lounge room that I saw him, snoring, fast asleep on the lounge in front of the TV. Just like the woman had said. I broke out in goosebumps. Who was she? Some kind of psychic? I didn’t believe in God or angels so a psychic seemed the only other plausible explanation. That is, if you could call psychics plausible. I didn’t really believe in them either yet, if she was right about Simon being asleep, perhaps she was right about the rest as well.
#fiction  #shortstory  #desert  #red  #australia 
6
1
0
Juice
40 reads
Login to post comments.
Advertisement  (turn off)
Donate coins to P09EYE.
Juice
Cancel
Written by P09EYE in portal Fiction

Am I home?

Three blinks left.

I don't feel like I need to breathe anymore. It's funny, my whole life I felt like if I didn't get my next breath, I'd go insane. It was never a matter of being afraid that I'd die, but that panic overcame me. I now realize that I used to have nightmares of drowning, or suffocating, and the lack of breathing was the main thing that scared me. What a silly thing to be scared of. I think that I used to have dreams where I was able to live without breathing, or something, and strangely I was free. More free in those fleeting dreams than in any moment of my... what was the word?

Two blinks left. 

I try to laugh. I cant. I don't need to breathe to laugh. Do I? 

Why would I laugh? I'm d... pain. I feel pain. I think that's pain. No, what's the word, mirth? No, this is a giggle. But I don't breathe, I don't need to, so why laugh? Is laugh the right word? Nothing seems funny to me. I remember that I used to be happy and want to laugh at things. But never out loud, why never out loud? 

I never enjoyed life properly. I spent all of it fearing pain and repressing my real happiness. Live, laugh, lo- what's the last word?

I'm going to do it. I don't need breath to do it. I'll just force it. OK, laughter! 

Copper?

One blink left.

Blinking, I remember having staring contests with my friends. I never realized how much blinking I did. I'm suddenly very aware of my eyes. But I'm not really seeing anything. If I'm not seeing, why blink? I took it for granted, I took so much for granted. My family, my friends... love. That was the word, live, laugh and love. Oh my, I remember love. I love love! I never let myself love anyone... or let anyone love me. Why not? Why didn't I love? I had love and I ignored it. I feel like I'm losing my breath. I can't breathe! Wait... I'm dying, I'm dying here on this dark road. For my wallet, my stupid wallet, that guy took my... That's why I can't breathe. Copper. I taste copper. What's going on? I'm not breathing, I'm not doing anything. I'm dying. I never lived. I never loved. Please, can't I just go back? Please... my eye lids are getting heav... why blink? It's so co-cold. Let...me... love... someone... oh... it's you. I remember you... am I home?

1
0
0
Juice
51 reads
Donate coins to P09EYE.
Juice
Cancel
Written by P09EYE in portal Fiction
Am I home?
Three blinks left.

I don't feel like I need to breathe anymore. It's funny, my whole life I felt like if I didn't get my next breath, I'd go insane. It was never a matter of being afraid that I'd die, but that panic overcame me. I now realize that I used to have nightmares of drowning, or suffocating, and the lack of breathing was the main thing that scared me. What a silly thing to be scared of. I think that I used to have dreams where I was able to live without breathing, or something, and strangely I was free. More free in those fleeting dreams than in any moment of my... what was the word?

Two blinks left. 

I try to laugh. I cant. I don't need to breathe to laugh. Do I? 
Why would I laugh? I'm d... pain. I feel pain. I think that's pain. No, what's the word, mirth? No, this is a giggle. But I don't breathe, I don't need to, so why laugh? Is laugh the right word? Nothing seems funny to me. I remember that I used to be happy and want to laugh at things. But never out loud, why never out loud? 
I never enjoyed life properly. I spent all of it fearing pain and repressing my real happiness. Live, laugh, lo- what's the last word?
I'm going to do it. I don't need breath to do it. I'll just force it. OK, laughter! 
Copper?

One blink left.

Blinking, I remember having staring contests with my friends. I never realized how much blinking I did. I'm suddenly very aware of my eyes. But I'm not really seeing anything. If I'm not seeing, why blink? I took it for granted, I took so much for granted. My family, my friends... love. That was the word, live, laugh and love. Oh my, I remember love. I love love! I never let myself love anyone... or let anyone love me. Why not? Why didn't I love? I had love and I ignored it. I feel like I'm losing my breath. I can't breathe! Wait... I'm dying, I'm dying here on this dark road. For my wallet, my stupid wallet, that guy took my... That's why I can't breathe. Copper. I taste copper. What's going on? I'm not breathing, I'm not doing anything. I'm dying. I never lived. I never loved. Please, can't I just go back? Please... my eye lids are getting heav... why blink? It's so co-cold. Let...me... love... someone... oh... it's you. I remember you... am I home?
#shortstory  #home  #breathe  #blink 
1
0
0
Juice
51 reads
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to JosephDov.
Juice
Cancel
Trident Media Group is the leading U.S. literary agency and we are looking to discover and represent the next bestsellers. Share a sample of your work. If it shows promise, we will be in touch with you.
Written by JosephDov in portal Trident Media Group

First admittance

Bone-deep exhaustion floods through me, every shuffling step feeling like it might be my last. Years of fear and frustration boiling up and then subsiding because feeling anything at all is too much effort. I walk into the computer lab silently beside my classmates; turning right and heading towards the back of the class instead of my customary front-row seat. A few people glance at me quizzically, unsure of what I’m doing, but I ignore them and seat myself in the back corner, head leaning against the wall, the coolness a stark contrast to the raging inferno inside my of my head.

Professor Montoya doesn’t know what to make of me. She asks loudly over the conversations of the rest of the class, “Are you ok?” I glance up at her, debating whether or not to respond, and choose to simply allay her concerns with a thumbs-up. Lying about how I feel has gotten me this far in life. Hopefully it can get me through the rest of this class as well.

Everyone’s working on the lab assignment; extensive defining of terminology for their research projects. Usually I would be up at the front making a spectacle of myself as I debate with Professor Montoya about semantics and how certain definitions could be misconstrued. Today, I don’t even bother turning my computer on. Instead, I lower the chair all the way down, and place my head on arms. I inhale and exhale slowly, wondering if I can breathe in enough oxygen to wake myself up even a little bit. But even the action of deep breathing is too tiring to continue for long.

Listening to the conversations of research partners towards the front of the class, I quietly thank whatever deity exists that my perpetually flaky partner is absent today as well. Just as I think this however, I hear the professor scolding him for showing up late. I don’t even bother raising my head. Hiding behind a massive computer screen, I hope irrationally that he doesn’t notice my massive frame hunched over in the back. My hope is dashed.

“Hey buddy, what’s going on?” he asks, plopping down in the seat next to me. I’m simultaneously overwhelmed by gratitude for his kind voice, and completely infuriated that he couldn’t take the hint that separating myself from the rest of the class meant I didn’t want to be disturbed. I offer a non-committal grunt.

“Can I do anything to help?” His sincerity and open demeanor aren’t doing anything to help at the moment, because indifference is easier to deal with than sympathy. My head still buried in my arms, I shake it back and forth slowly, mentally begging him to go away. Thankfully, this time my telepathy has apparently worked because he pats my shoulder awkwardly several times before returning to the front of the room.

The conversations in the room become louder and louder, as people try to be heard over their neighbors, until what seems like a deafening cacophony of voices are all debating definitions. Professor Montoya’s voice rings above it all calling for quiet.

“Alright! Enough! That’s plenty of time to work on your operationalizations. Now we’re going to cover the types of tests you’ll be using for your data. Who can tell me what a chi-square test measures?” I finally raise my head from my arms to glance around the room, noting that the only person looking in my direction is the professor. I lean my head against the wall again, closing my eyes and wondering how upset she would be if I left early. As I debate the pros and cons of blatantly walking out of class in the middle of the lecture, I notice that my name is being repeated.

“Joseph? Can you enlighten us?” Professor Montoya is staring directly at me now, and the rest of the class has turned around as well to hear my response. I stare back nonplussed, mind blank, wondering what on earth they were talking about. I shake my head, unable to form words, a sudden lump of anxious build-up making its home in my throat. A few people look at me askance, unable to determine why I’m not on my A-game today, but blessedly turn back around when the professor returns to lecturing on homogeneity and independence. The world blurs for a moment, colors blending together, a vacuum-like silence descending on the room as the sound rushes out. My eyes droop, not quite closed, but not absorbing any information regardless.

“Joseph, talk to me, what’s going on?” The sudden voice from my left startles me, jumping slightly in my seat as reality snaps back into place. I turn to see Professor Montoya staring at me with worried eyes, eyebrows scrunched together, slowly reaching a hand out. I flinch.

“You’re really worrying me, please talk to me,” she implores, lowering her hand but still looking at me too closely, too much scrutiny in those eyes. I look away, desire to confide in someone conflicting violently with my lifelong refusal to ever admit any emotional pain.

“I’m just really tired today,” I whisper, trying not to let the sound of exhaustion and tears enter my voice. Judging by the look on her face, I doubt I succeeded.

“It’s more than being tired, I know what tired looks like, this ain’t it. Come on Joseph, you know I’m a mandatory reporter. If you don’t tell me what’s going on I’m going to have to assume someone’s hurting you or you’re hurting yourself. Please, talk to me.” I glance up at her face, and can tell she’s deadly serious about the reporting if I don’t give her something. I take a deep breath, trying to steady my inner turmoil and find the courage to admit a tiny portion of what’s happening in my head.

“I’m on new meds,” I respond, refusing to look at her, speaking more to the keyboard in front of me than anything else. “They’re just making me really tired. I’m sorry I’m not participating.”

Her silence in response forces me to look up at her again, wondering what her reaction would be to hearing this. If she would stop probing. Wondering if she would leave me alone again so I could pretend to be present. She stares at me intently, seemingly searching for something that she doesn’t find. The pressure of maintaining eye contact becomes too much, and I look away again.

“Meds for what?” she asks in a no-nonsense tone. I can tell from her voice that she thinks I’m lying, that I’m on drugs, downers, maybe took too much syrup this morning.

My breath is coming in shallow gasps now, heart pounding so hard in my chest it feels like the motion is rocking me back and forth. I shake my head again, hunching over, shame flooding through my at the thought of admitting what’s wrong with me.

“Joseph?!” She asks in alarm, a hint of panic seeping into her voice, clearly dismayed by the sight of me. “Joseph, I need you to verbalize to me. What’s happening? You’re scaring me!”

I realize that if I don’t say anything, she’s going to call campus safety. That idea more than anything else spurs me into calming myself long enough to respond.

“Depression,” I mumble, the word escaping from my lips like a pulled tooth. “The meds are for depression.” My whole body is tense, drawn taut like a bowstring, ready to snap at the slightest hint of scorn or doubt. I wring my hands together so hard that I can feel my bones creaking in protest, knuckles so white they look dead. My previous exhaustion is replaced with a post-adrenaline rush of shakiness, breath still coming out in nasally exhales. I can’t bring myself to look at her.

“Ok,” she replies. “Thank you for telling me. I understand. Don’t worry about the classwork today. Feel free to take off whenever, I know you don’t need the practice.” With that, she gets up, walking to the front of the class towards a raised hand, never looking back. An overwhelming sense of relief fills me, a prickly feeling building in my eyes. Curious, I reach up, feeling wetness, confused as to what it could be.

3
0
0
Juice
48 reads
Donate coins to JosephDov.
Juice
Cancel
Trident Media Group is the leading U.S. literary agency and we are looking to discover and represent the next bestsellers. Share a sample of your work. If it shows promise, we will be in touch with you.
Written by JosephDov in portal Trident Media Group
First admittance
Bone-deep exhaustion floods through me, every shuffling step feeling like it might be my last. Years of fear and frustration boiling up and then subsiding because feeling anything at all is too much effort. I walk into the computer lab silently beside my classmates; turning right and heading towards the back of the class instead of my customary front-row seat. A few people glance at me quizzically, unsure of what I’m doing, but I ignore them and seat myself in the back corner, head leaning against the wall, the coolness a stark contrast to the raging inferno inside my of my head.

Professor Montoya doesn’t know what to make of me. She asks loudly over the conversations of the rest of the class, “Are you ok?” I glance up at her, debating whether or not to respond, and choose to simply allay her concerns with a thumbs-up. Lying about how I feel has gotten me this far in life. Hopefully it can get me through the rest of this class as well.

Everyone’s working on the lab assignment; extensive defining of terminology for their research projects. Usually I would be up at the front making a spectacle of myself as I debate with Professor Montoya about semantics and how certain definitions could be misconstrued. Today, I don’t even bother turning my computer on. Instead, I lower the chair all the way down, and place my head on arms. I inhale and exhale slowly, wondering if I can breathe in enough oxygen to wake myself up even a little bit. But even the action of deep breathing is too tiring to continue for long.

Listening to the conversations of research partners towards the front of the class, I quietly thank whatever deity exists that my perpetually flaky partner is absent today as well. Just as I think this however, I hear the professor scolding him for showing up late. I don’t even bother raising my head. Hiding behind a massive computer screen, I hope irrationally that he doesn’t notice my massive frame hunched over in the back. My hope is dashed.

“Hey buddy, what’s going on?” he asks, plopping down in the seat next to me. I’m simultaneously overwhelmed by gratitude for his kind voice, and completely infuriated that he couldn’t take the hint that separating myself from the rest of the class meant I didn’t want to be disturbed. I offer a non-committal grunt.

“Can I do anything to help?” His sincerity and open demeanor aren’t doing anything to help at the moment, because indifference is easier to deal with than sympathy. My head still buried in my arms, I shake it back and forth slowly, mentally begging him to go away. Thankfully, this time my telepathy has apparently worked because he pats my shoulder awkwardly several times before returning to the front of the room.

The conversations in the room become louder and louder, as people try to be heard over their neighbors, until what seems like a deafening cacophony of voices are all debating definitions. Professor Montoya’s voice rings above it all calling for quiet.

“Alright! Enough! That’s plenty of time to work on your operationalizations. Now we’re going to cover the types of tests you’ll be using for your data. Who can tell me what a chi-square test measures?” I finally raise my head from my arms to glance around the room, noting that the only person looking in my direction is the professor. I lean my head against the wall again, closing my eyes and wondering how upset she would be if I left early. As I debate the pros and cons of blatantly walking out of class in the middle of the lecture, I notice that my name is being repeated.

“Joseph? Can you enlighten us?” Professor Montoya is staring directly at me now, and the rest of the class has turned around as well to hear my response. I stare back nonplussed, mind blank, wondering what on earth they were talking about. I shake my head, unable to form words, a sudden lump of anxious build-up making its home in my throat. A few people look at me askance, unable to determine why I’m not on my A-game today, but blessedly turn back around when the professor returns to lecturing on homogeneity and independence. The world blurs for a moment, colors blending together, a vacuum-like silence descending on the room as the sound rushes out. My eyes droop, not quite closed, but not absorbing any information regardless.

“Joseph, talk to me, what’s going on?” The sudden voice from my left startles me, jumping slightly in my seat as reality snaps back into place. I turn to see Professor Montoya staring at me with worried eyes, eyebrows scrunched together, slowly reaching a hand out. I flinch.

“You’re really worrying me, please talk to me,” she implores, lowering her hand but still looking at me too closely, too much scrutiny in those eyes. I look away, desire to confide in someone conflicting violently with my lifelong refusal to ever admit any emotional pain.

“I’m just really tired today,” I whisper, trying not to let the sound of exhaustion and tears enter my voice. Judging by the look on her face, I doubt I succeeded.

“It’s more than being tired, I know what tired looks like, this ain’t it. Come on Joseph, you know I’m a mandatory reporter. If you don’t tell me what’s going on I’m going to have to assume someone’s hurting you or you’re hurting yourself. Please, talk to me.” I glance up at her face, and can tell she’s deadly serious about the reporting if I don’t give her something. I take a deep breath, trying to steady my inner turmoil and find the courage to admit a tiny portion of what’s happening in my head.

“I’m on new meds,” I respond, refusing to look at her, speaking more to the keyboard in front of me than anything else. “They’re just making me really tired. I’m sorry I’m not participating.”

Her silence in response forces me to look up at her again, wondering what her reaction would be to hearing this. If she would stop probing. Wondering if she would leave me alone again so I could pretend to be present. She stares at me intently, seemingly searching for something that she doesn’t find. The pressure of maintaining eye contact becomes too much, and I look away again.

“Meds for what?” she asks in a no-nonsense tone. I can tell from her voice that she thinks I’m lying, that I’m on drugs, downers, maybe took too much syrup this morning.
My breath is coming in shallow gasps now, heart pounding so hard in my chest it feels like the motion is rocking me back and forth. I shake my head again, hunching over, shame flooding through my at the thought of admitting what’s wrong with me.

“Joseph?!” She asks in alarm, a hint of panic seeping into her voice, clearly dismayed by the sight of me. “Joseph, I need you to verbalize to me. What’s happening? You’re scaring me!”

I realize that if I don’t say anything, she’s going to call campus safety. That idea more than anything else spurs me into calming myself long enough to respond.

“Depression,” I mumble, the word escaping from my lips like a pulled tooth. “The meds are for depression.” My whole body is tense, drawn taut like a bowstring, ready to snap at the slightest hint of scorn or doubt. I wring my hands together so hard that I can feel my bones creaking in protest, knuckles so white they look dead. My previous exhaustion is replaced with a post-adrenaline rush of shakiness, breath still coming out in nasally exhales. I can’t bring myself to look at her.

“Ok,” she replies. “Thank you for telling me. I understand. Don’t worry about the classwork today. Feel free to take off whenever, I know you don’t need the practice.” With that, she gets up, walking to the front of the class towards a raised hand, never looking back. An overwhelming sense of relief fills me, a prickly feeling building in my eyes. Curious, I reach up, feeling wetness, confused as to what it could be.

#excerpt  #shortstory  #storysample 
3
0
0
Juice
48 reads
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to ChanelleJoy.
Juice
Cancel
Written by ChanelleJoy

RED (PART ONE)

Red – the colour of the Outback. Everywhere I looked was red; red sand beneath my feet, red rocks standing tall and proud. Even the sky was red as the sun threw out his final rays in a glorious grand finale. It was not farewell. He would be back in the morning to shine once again on these magnificent, rugged plains of red. I breathed deeply. It was my first day here in the Australian Desert – the first day of a four-week trip. Already I felt small and insignificant, like I was buried by the sheer grandeur of this vast, great land. But I didn’t feel smothered or overwhelmed. I felt free. This was my journey, my voyage of self-discovery. Here, I was alone. Here I could unpack the heavy baggage I carried within my soul. No airs or graces, no pretending, no acting like everything was fine when really, I was dying inside. No fake smiles, no holding back the tears, no lying. Just me, open, honest and raw. Raw like this desert.

Life had not been easy of late. Well, life had never really been easy. Somewhere along the way I had lost all the pieces of myself. I was like Humpty Dumpty after his great fall, only, there were no king’s horses or king’s men to help put me back together again. There was just me. That was fine. This way, no one else could try to tell me who I was. No one else could dictate my steps or coerce me into submission. I smiled. It felt odd, still a foreign thing to me. I could not remember the last time I had given a genuine smile. Wanting to capture the moment I lifted my camera to my eye and clicked. I wanted to document as much of this journey as possible.

I hadn’t told anyone where I was going. I hadn’t told my parents, or my brother. They wouldn’t care. They performed their obligatory family duties towards me; birthdays, Christmas, my wedding – but that was the extent of their affection. For the most part, I was invisible to them. I had no friends to tell and I especially had not told Simon, my husband. He would have arrived home from his business trip by now to find the house empty of all my belongings. I had finally worked up the courage to leave. I hadn’t, however, worked up the courage to confront him. So, I ran. And what better place to run to than the desert, I’d thought. No one would expect me to go there. At least, I hoped anyway. Simon would be angry. Of that there was no doubt. Angry enough to warrant searching for me, though? It was very possible, but that was a risk I had to take. I was done being his punching bag. When I’d first met Simon, he had seemed so wonderful. A few years older than me he was mature, settled in a good career and he looked at me as though I was someone. He treated me like a queen. Expensive dinners, expensive jewelry, expensive cars and an expensive house; I had it all. What I hadn’t noticed at the time was that he was quietly and subtly training me. The abuse started slowly at first. Just a little smack every now and then when I would make a mistake, or when I displeased him. Then on the other hand, I would receive gifts whenever I did something that Simon deemed correct. I was his dog and he was training me to obey my master.

I’d grown up in a home where I was taught to not be seen or heard unless the circumstances were dire. My parents had never wanted me. As far as they were concerned, my older brother was their only child. I was just an inconvenient nuisance; which was why I was so swept away by Simon at first. Then, when the abuse started, I didn’t even realise what was happening. I was so used to being told what to do, to being kept in my rightful place. I thought it was just normal behaviour.

One day, I was out doing the grocery shopping. Even though it was just groceries and I had to make sure I got everything Simon wanted, I quite enjoyed the experience. It was one of the only times I was allowed out on my own while he lounged about at home. I’d just finished paying for my purchases when I felt a hand on my shoulder. A dear little old lady with brilliant white hair was standing behind me.

“Excuse me, dear. I was wondering if you might help me unload my trolley. The arms and back aren’t like they used to be.”

I glanced nervously at my watch. I was allocated 2 hours to complete my shopping and I wasn’t supposed to talk to anyone unless I had to. Thinking about it now, there was no way Simon could have known if I did speak to someone, but back then I thought he was capable of anything. My watch told me my time was almost up. The old lady looked at me from wise blue eyes.

“Is everything ok, dear?”

“Um, ah, yes. Yes, yes. Everything is fine,” I stuttered. “I’d be happy to help.” 

I quickly began to unload her trolley onto the conveyor belt. She thanked me then asked if I would wait and help her to the car. I glanced nervously at my watch again. I was going to be late yet I couldn’t refuse. She clearly couldn’t manage on her own. I hurried to unpack her trolley into the boot of her car, slammed the boot closed, said goodbye and began to dash off to my own car.

“Wait,” the woman called after me. 

Gritting my teeth, I turned back. “Yes?”

“You don’t have to stay with him you know,” she said.

I blinked in astonishment. “I don’t know what you mean,” I muttered unconvincingly.

The woman placed a hand on my arm. I flinched at the light touch. “Yes, you do. You don’t have to acknowledge it to me, but you need to know that you can leave. Heaven has someone else set aside for you, someone far, far better.”

I was shaking. How did she know? I started backing away. “I… I have to go.”

“Don’t worry. He will be asleep when you get home. He won’t even know.”

I turned and ran as best I could while pushing a loaded trolley. I threw everything into the boot, praying that nothing broke, jumped in the driver’s seat and floored it. I threw a glance to where the old lady had been. She was gone. Her car too. I scanned the car park but the little, old red Corolla could not be seen anywhere. She couldn’t have got away that fast. I glanced at my watch again. It wasn’t far to go but I was still going to be at least half an hour late. My heart hammered in my chest, pounding out a beat worthy of the dance floor and a cold sweat enveloped my body. My hands slipped on the steering wheel and I almost went crashing into the gutter. Amazingly, I managed to get my grip again just in time. There would have been a whole other level of punishment if I damaged the car. I slowed down when I reached my street and crept into the driveway. Inside, all thoughts of the old woman evaporated. I took the bags straight to kitchen and began to put everything away. I was on edge waiting for Simon to come raging in. He never did. It wasn’t until I went into the lounge room that I saw him, snoring, fast asleep on the lounge in front of the TV. Just like the woman had said. I broke out in goosebumps. Who was she? Some kind of psychic? I didn’t believe in God or angels so a psychic seemed the only other plausible explanation. That is, if you could call psychics plausible. I didn’t really believe in them either yet, if she was right about Simon being asleep, perhaps she was right about the rest as well.

2
0
0
Juice
34 reads
Donate coins to ChanelleJoy.
Juice
Cancel
Written by ChanelleJoy
RED (PART ONE)
Red – the colour of the Outback. Everywhere I looked was red; red sand beneath my feet, red rocks standing tall and proud. Even the sky was red as the sun threw out his final rays in a glorious grand finale. It was not farewell. He would be back in the morning to shine once again on these magnificent, rugged plains of red. I breathed deeply. It was my first day here in the Australian Desert – the first day of a four-week trip. Already I felt small and insignificant, like I was buried by the sheer grandeur of this vast, great land. But I didn’t feel smothered or overwhelmed. I felt free. This was my journey, my voyage of self-discovery. Here, I was alone. Here I could unpack the heavy baggage I carried within my soul. No airs or graces, no pretending, no acting like everything was fine when really, I was dying inside. No fake smiles, no holding back the tears, no lying. Just me, open, honest and raw. Raw like this desert.

Life had not been easy of late. Well, life had never really been easy. Somewhere along the way I had lost all the pieces of myself. I was like Humpty Dumpty after his great fall, only, there were no king’s horses or king’s men to help put me back together again. There was just me. That was fine. This way, no one else could try to tell me who I was. No one else could dictate my steps or coerce me into submission. I smiled. It felt odd, still a foreign thing to me. I could not remember the last time I had given a genuine smile. Wanting to capture the moment I lifted my camera to my eye and clicked. I wanted to document as much of this journey as possible.

I hadn’t told anyone where I was going. I hadn’t told my parents, or my brother. They wouldn’t care. They performed their obligatory family duties towards me; birthdays, Christmas, my wedding – but that was the extent of their affection. For the most part, I was invisible to them. I had no friends to tell and I especially had not told Simon, my husband. He would have arrived home from his business trip by now to find the house empty of all my belongings. I had finally worked up the courage to leave. I hadn’t, however, worked up the courage to confront him. So, I ran. And what better place to run to than the desert, I’d thought. No one would expect me to go there. At least, I hoped anyway. Simon would be angry. Of that there was no doubt. Angry enough to warrant searching for me, though? It was very possible, but that was a risk I had to take. I was done being his punching bag. When I’d first met Simon, he had seemed so wonderful. A few years older than me he was mature, settled in a good career and he looked at me as though I was someone. He treated me like a queen. Expensive dinners, expensive jewelry, expensive cars and an expensive house; I had it all. What I hadn’t noticed at the time was that he was quietly and subtly training me. The abuse started slowly at first. Just a little smack every now and then when I would make a mistake, or when I displeased him. Then on the other hand, I would receive gifts whenever I did something that Simon deemed correct. I was his dog and he was training me to obey my master.

I’d grown up in a home where I was taught to not be seen or heard unless the circumstances were dire. My parents had never wanted me. As far as they were concerned, my older brother was their only child. I was just an inconvenient nuisance; which was why I was so swept away by Simon at first. Then, when the abuse started, I didn’t even realise what was happening. I was so used to being told what to do, to being kept in my rightful place. I thought it was just normal behaviour.

One day, I was out doing the grocery shopping. Even though it was just groceries and I had to make sure I got everything Simon wanted, I quite enjoyed the experience. It was one of the only times I was allowed out on my own while he lounged about at home. I’d just finished paying for my purchases when I felt a hand on my shoulder. A dear little old lady with brilliant white hair was standing behind me.

“Excuse me, dear. I was wondering if you might help me unload my trolley. The arms and back aren’t like they used to be.”

I glanced nervously at my watch. I was allocated 2 hours to complete my shopping and I wasn’t supposed to talk to anyone unless I had to. Thinking about it now, there was no way Simon could have known if I did speak to someone, but back then I thought he was capable of anything. My watch told me my time was almost up. The old lady looked at me from wise blue eyes.

“Is everything ok, dear?”

“Um, ah, yes. Yes, yes. Everything is fine,” I stuttered. “I’d be happy to help.” 

I quickly began to unload her trolley onto the conveyor belt. She thanked me then asked if I would wait and help her to the car. I glanced nervously at my watch again. I was going to be late yet I couldn’t refuse. She clearly couldn’t manage on her own. I hurried to unpack her trolley into the boot of her car, slammed the boot closed, said goodbye and began to dash off to my own car.

“Wait,” the woman called after me. 

Gritting my teeth, I turned back. “Yes?”

“You don’t have to stay with him you know,” she said.

I blinked in astonishment. “I don’t know what you mean,” I muttered unconvincingly.

The woman placed a hand on my arm. I flinched at the light touch. “Yes, you do. You don’t have to acknowledge it to me, but you need to know that you can leave. Heaven has someone else set aside for you, someone far, far better.”

I was shaking. How did she know? I started backing away. “I… I have to go.”

“Don’t worry. He will be asleep when you get home. He won’t even know.”

I turned and ran as best I could while pushing a loaded trolley. I threw everything into the boot, praying that nothing broke, jumped in the driver’s seat and floored it. I threw a glance to where the old lady had been. She was gone. Her car too. I scanned the car park but the little, old red Corolla could not be seen anywhere. She couldn’t have got away that fast. I glanced at my watch again. It wasn’t far to go but I was still going to be at least half an hour late. My heart hammered in my chest, pounding out a beat worthy of the dance floor and a cold sweat enveloped my body. My hands slipped on the steering wheel and I almost went crashing into the gutter. Amazingly, I managed to get my grip again just in time. There would have been a whole other level of punishment if I damaged the car. I slowed down when I reached my street and crept into the driveway. Inside, all thoughts of the old woman evaporated. I took the bags straight to kitchen and began to put everything away. I was on edge waiting for Simon to come raging in. He never did. It wasn’t until I went into the lounge room that I saw him, snoring, fast asleep on the lounge in front of the TV. Just like the woman had said. I broke out in goosebumps. Who was she? Some kind of psychic? I didn’t believe in God or angels so a psychic seemed the only other plausible explanation. That is, if you could call psychics plausible. I didn’t really believe in them either yet, if she was right about Simon being asleep, perhaps she was right about the rest as well.
#fiction  #shortstory  #desert  #red  #australia 
2
0
0
Juice
34 reads
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to EyesofArt.
Juice
Cancel
Famous First Words: Write a great opening line to a novel.
Written by EyesofArt

Tick, Tick

Winter has come early this year; some welcome it as others wish they have more time to prepare. 

Time was different now.

Time seems out of sync, so she thought as she stood in cemetery unaffected by the chill in the air. It was oddly warm to her.

4
1
0
Juice
24 reads
Donate coins to EyesofArt.
Juice
Cancel
Famous First Words: Write a great opening line to a novel.
Written by EyesofArt
Tick, Tick
Winter has come early this year; some welcome it as others wish they have more time to prepare. 
Time was different now.
Time seems out of sync, so she thought as she stood in cemetery unaffected by the chill in the air. It was oddly warm to her.

#fantasy  #fiction  #mystery  #shortstory 
4
1
0
Juice
24 reads
Login to post comments.