Beautiful and Haunting – Gypsy!

gypsyWednesday passed by with no sign of my mysterious fantasy man. Every time I heard someone kick-start a motorbike my heart missed a beat. It was never him though never the leather clad, cool smoking man! I bought ‘Rock On’ by David Essex, but I should have saved my money because even when I wasn’t playing it I couldn’t get the song out of my head.

Richmond fair opened on Thursday evening. The rides were much cheaper that night.  Everyone called it test pilot night. You rode cheaply, but at your own risk. I didn’t usually visit the fair on test pilot night. Not because I was afraid of dying while testing out the rides, but because I had to get up for work the following day. A night at the fair almost always involved lots of alcohol, greasy food, and a hangover. When I left work on Thursday, I bypassed Richmond Market Place altogether, not wanting to push my way through throngs of ‘test pilots’. I was almost home when I encountered the old wrinkled gypsy again.

“Hey pretty lady, buy some lucky heather.” She said in a husky voice. Her accent was deep and guttural. A true Romany maybe!

Gypsies, with their superstitions and potions, scared me so I opened my handbag and found my purse, hoping I had some change to give her. I grabbed twenty pence, which would do nicely. A cheap way to prevent being cursed!

“Here you go,” I said looking up. I stopped dead in my tracks. The old hag who sold the heather was gone and a beautiful young woman stood in front of me. Was it a trick of the light? Her black curly hair rested on her bare shoulders. Even though she stood still the bells on the bottom of her skirt jingled in the breeze. She shivered and pulled her shawl tightly around her. Her dark searching eyes focused on me. They were hypnotizing. I held out the change I’d pulled from my purse.

Looking at the hauntingly beautiful face I whispered. “For the lucky heather.”

She frowned and opened her mouth to speak. I felt her breath, it smelled like lilies and then she disappeared right in front of my eyes.

The plot thickens, disappearing man and now a gypsy! Stay tuned, my next post will be on the road from Italy. Maybe the Italian air will inspire me. Thanks for stopping by!

My first novel Dead of July is available on Amazon for 0.99.

I KILLED HIM!

I am remembering the very first story I ever wrote. I was thirteen and a troubled teen (aren’t all teens troubled from time to time). This story was written with big loopy writing scrawling across the pages, no computers in the late sixties. As the story got more and more exciting, my pen raced across the pages, my hand hurt, but I continued. eager to get the pain and hurt festering inside me, onto paper. It was a kind of exorcism. It worked too.

What was that story about?

Me!

I had a crush on boy who was of course very handsome, about five years older than me and completely out of my league. He didn’t know I even existed. Can you remember your early teens, and what that was like? It hurt didn’t it. When hormones took over your body, nothing or no one made sense. I don’t know how teenagers even survive, so difficult are those days. Writing was the only thing that got me through it. What was the story about……? You could say it was a train wreck.

Underground

When I look back on what I wrote, I realised I was writing this boy out of my life because I knew he would never even notice me. He was an exotic handsome looking creature, always surrounded by pretty girls. He didn’t even know my name and would never have time for anyone as average and ordinary as me, so I killed him with my pen.

In my story we were an item and very much in love. He lived in London and I lived in the far north of England. I would go and visit him every weekend. He was a musician and I was a journalist. As I write about it now I remember it vividly. Lets call him Matt for the sake of giving him a name.

Matt and I were on the London tube with a group of friends, on our way to a party. Suddenly our carriage shuddered and we heard the wheels screaming on the track as the brakes vainly tried to stop the speeding train.  There was an explosion and we were throw around like matchsticks.  We felt the impact as the train crashed head on into something, crushing the first carriage and mangling several more. I thought I was going to die as the carriages ahead of me seemed to be rushing backwards. Matt was in front of me. He put his arms around me and I waited to die. Next came the fire and smoke, then nothing. Was I dead?

I opened my eyes expecting to see the devil and the fires of hell (never expecting to go to heaven because I had dabbled with pot and LSD), but instead I saw the grimy face of my friend Julie looking down at me. I was lying on the platform surrounded by casualties. People were crying and moaning. The air we breathed was filled with smoke. I raised my head to look at the train, or what was left of it. “Where’s Matt? Is he okay?” I said to Julie. She didn’t answer me, but looked away. She was crying. I pushed myself up on my elbows weakly, my head spinning, trying to breathe oxygen and not smoke. A fireman came over to check on me. “Be still, you have had a nasty shock, and a lump on the back of your head. We will get you out as soon as possible”

“Matt, Matt Matt where are you? Julie where is he?” I managed to get to my feet. “Matt, Matt, can you hear me?” I collapsed into the arms of the fireman, who placed me gently back down on the ground, putting something under my head to make me more comfortable. I felt a prick in my arm. People faded in and out of my vision, voices came and went. At last I saw Matt leaning over me. He kissed me gently on my forehead. “It’s going to be alright” he said. “Look after the baby” Then he was gone.

When I opened my eyes again I was in a hospital bed. My head and back hurt badly. Julie was sitting next to me again, looking a little cleaner now. Sun shone through the windows. “How long have I been out?” I asked.

“About ten hours” she replied, smiling weakly. “They gave you something to calm you down. Do you remember anything?”                                                                        

“Not much. Is Matt here? I remember seeing Matt, thank god he’s okay.” Julie took my hand and started crying “Matt didn’t make it. He was killed instantly when he threw himself in front of you. He saved your life.”

“No, I saw him. He kissed me and spoke to me, I SAW HIM.”

The doctor, probably alarmed my cries, came into the room. “Shhh, calm down. Don’t upset yourself. Your parents just called, they are on their way, they will be able to take you home in a couple of days. You will feel better soon, you have to think of the baby now.”

“Baby?” I said.

The doctor looked a me puzzled. “You didn’t know? You are almost three months pregnant.”

Then I remembered what Matt said “It’s going to be alright, look after the baby.”

Yes, that is what I remember of my very first story. I wrote about three hundred pages, all in long hand. It was my therapy and got me over my crush, preserving my sanity and allowing me to get on with my life. Seems a fairly healthy way of doing things to me. Better than drugs, or getting into trouble. I wish someone had encouraged me to continue with my writing, but they didn’t. Now, over thirty years later, I am writing again.

‘Dead of July’ my first full length novel will be released in July  Preview Dead of July

My first short story, rough around the edges, but still a fun short read is still available from the links below:

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The Anniversary

She sat at home and waited.

valentine

The table was set with the best glasses, candles flickered setting the mood. Fifty years of marriage to the same man. Had there been regrets? Never! Had there been bad times. Of course, marriage wasn’t a rose garden. Sadie was sixty-nine years old, a year younger than her husband. They had been married for a life time and this was something to celebrate.

Mike had popped out to get another bottle of wine, that was almost an hour ago. It should have only take twenty minutes, where was he? Had he bumped into someone he knew and forgotten about this special night? She called his cell phone and heard it ringing across the room. He hadn’t taken it with him.

She blew out the candles and went to the window to watch for his car, just as she had done every year for the past five years, since he was killed in a car crash on their anniversary.

sunset-ipad-wallpaper28b

 

The sun was setting like an orange fireball, sliding slowly into the ocean. She began to cry, something was wrong. Mike should be back by now. Had he been in an accident? Where was he? She shivered. Something was wrong. She was confused.

The door opened and Sadie signed with relief, turning round, ready to scold her husband for taking so long. It wasn’t Mike though, it was her son John. She dried her eyes and gave him a hug. “Oh John, I’m glad you are here, I am worried about your dad, I think he got lost, he only went for a bottle of wine, but he’s been gone for an hour”.

John hugged her tight, his eyes filling with tears. “Mum, what smells so good? Shall we eat? I brought a bottle of wine, look it’s your favorite.”

“But, we have to wait for……”

“Look at the beautiful sunset” John said as he opened the wine. “Let’s eat out on the deck”

“Oh what a good idea, I will put the food out. Your dad likes to sit on the deck. I made enough for three” Sadie said.

John walked out onto the deck while his mother busied herself in the kitchen. He called his sister “Jeannie, I just made it in time. Mum is a little worse this year, but I distracted her. She had cooked the usual anniversary dinner. We are going to eat it out on the deck while the sun sets.”

He could hear his sister crying “I miss dad too. It’s five years today, how could this have happened on their anniversary? How will she ever forget?”

“Got to go” John said and hung up as his mother served dinner.

“I cooked Mike’s favorite. I wish he was here” she said

“Me too, Mum”

Not sure where I got the idea for this story, it just came to me. Maybe as I thought about my mum and how much she missed my dad after he died. It made me cry a little. 

Check out my short story which is still available on Amazon and Smashwords from the links below. It is the first story I had the courage to share:

‘Dead of July’ my first novel will be released in a couple of months as and e-book and in print.

(Preview) Dead of July

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Luke – I love you!

Lucia lay in her coffin looking alive and beautiful. Was she really dead?  Friends and acquaintances passed by, smiling down at her resting body. “She looks alive” a college said. “She looks like she could talk to me”

Lucia indeed looked radiant in her coffin. She died at the young age of thirty from a brain tumor that had lurked in her head for years undetected.

Lucia found herself looking up into the dark blue eyes of Luke, her fiance of eight months. Wait a minute, why was she looking into his eyes, wasn’t she dead? “Hey Luke, don’t be sad, I’m here. They thought I was dead, but look, I’m not. Thank God! They made a mistake.”

Lucia sat up and kissed him on the lips. Luke wiped a tear from his eye and walked away. “Hey, wait for me, I’m here. Wait.” she said as she ran after him. Why didn’t he hear her?

They closed the lid on the casket. Lucia stood and watched confused.

coffinThe room was silent as Luke and his three brothers walked back into the room. She smiled as she always did when she saw them together. They were a handsome family.

The four of them picked up the coffin. “Hey guys, I’m here, there had been a mistake. HELLO!”

They lifted the coffin effortlessly. “There is nothing in there, that’s why it’s easy to lift” She thought.

Luke and the coffin bearers passed right through her. Lucia shivered and followed them outside as they walked the short distance from the funeral home to the freshly dug grave.

She stood next to her beloved Luke as her coffin was lowered into the ground. Why was she still here? Why was she watching?

Lucia felt herself fading as the first handful of dirt was thrown onto the coffin, and she heard the noise it made as though she were lying there in the silk lined darkness.

She put her arms around Luke and held him. He could smell the scent of her body, a smell he loved. He inhaled deeply closing his eyes, tears streaming down his cheeks. Luke’s mother squeezed his hand.

“She wouldn’t want you to be sad” she said.

Lucia was looking at Luke from a long way off now, looking down a tunnel at him, watching him throw a single rose into the grave.

“Luke, I love you” she whispered.

“Lucia, I will never forget you.” he said and then turned away, unable to look as the earth covered her.

Check out my short story which is available on Amazon. 

My upcoming novel ‘Dead of July’ will be released in March 2013. For updates Follow me on Facebook

My first Novel ‘Guy at the Bar’ is back with my editor and will be re-released in late 2013. It’s a great story, but needs the TLC of a good editor. 

 

 

Flat Country Snow – Chapter Four – Breakfast

So here we are again, after many distractions, back to my story.  Look at that delicious breakfast.  They call it a ‘Full English’, eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes, beans and of course……black pudding. This would be served with fried bread and toast. Not sure if I could eat all of that now, but I used to love waking up to a breakfast like this. I know back pudding (or blood pudding) is hard for some people to stomach, but I loved it. I hope you enjoy chapter four of my story.  This is romance with a twist. I do believe in love and romance, but in my stories it is a secondary factor. This story still makes me smile when I read it. Not sure why, maybe it just brings back a lot of young and innocent memories, reminding me of how I was when I was 17.  I hope this makes you smile too. 

Chapter Four

Steven (I kept trying to call him Steve, but it just didn’t fit) was still fast asleep on the bed beside me, fully clothed, and looking as if he hadn’t moved all night.  I was very relieved that I had woken up first because I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and I looked awful.  Mascara all over my face, dress crumpled from sleeping in it…Yuk! I grabbed my bag of toiletries and my dressing gown and headed down the hallway to get a bath and make myself presentable.  The big grandfather clock at the end of the hallway said 8:30, so we had managed to get a good night’s sleep, and I actually didn’t have a hangover, maybe I should make champagne my regular tipple. I wish I could afford that luxury.  That stuff had been about fifteen pounds a bottle, and we had three bottles last night.  In 1974, that was enough to feed a family for a week, or enough to keep you in booze for a month. 

            I ran a nice hot bubble bath, and lowered myself into it.  It felt good, I allowed myself to relax for a few minutes before washing my hair and getting dried.  The bathroom was getting pretty steamy so I opened the window, but only a crack. Burr, it was cold, it was very cold. It wasn’t snowing heavily, but I could see ice particles glistening in the air.  It did the trick though, the steam escaped out of the window and I was able to clear the mirror enough to see myself.  I towel dried my hair to get most of the wetness out and then headed back to my bedroom.  Steven was no longer sleeping on the bed, so I quickly got dressed before he showed up again.  I sat on the stool in front of the dressing table and put on my ‘face’, I still smiled about putting make up on. My mum always used to sit and put her ‘face’ while I watched her.  She never wore much make up, but always sat there and applied it under my watchful eyes.  I missed those days. Life was much easier when you were young. I had just finished putting on my makeup and was spraying myself with perfume,( j’reviens by worth) when there was a tap on the door. I was about to shout “Come in” and then thought the better of it, just in case it wasn’t Steven. I opened the door to find one of the hotel staff standing there with a trolley loaded with food, some of which was covered with big stainless steel domed lids.  Wow, breakfast in my room, I did feel special.  I ushered him in and he laid out breakfast for two on the table by the window.  He uncovered two plates of egg and bacon, with fried bread and mushrooms. There was a pot of tea, orange juice and also a dish of strawberries. My tummy started rumbling at the sight of it. Just as he finished setting it out on the table my weekend fiancée appeared. He was a wonderful sight, standing there in the doorway in jeans and a big bulky sweater. Clothes just looked good on him, they probably looked good off him too, but I didn’t think I was ever going to see him minus clothes.  He was going to make some man very happy some day, when he found the courage to ‘come out’ anyway.  The porter left the room and Steven and I sat down and had breakfast together.  I thought the morning may be awkward, but really it wasn’t.  We chatted about the night before, and he thanked me for making the evening such a success.  I kept telling him that I hadn’t really done anything, just enjoyed a pleasant evening, with good company.  I had actually been a pretty spectacular evening, but I didn’t want him to know that. We lingered over breakfast, both of us knowing that we would probably never see each other again.  It was a shame really because we were enjoying each other’s company, but it was always going to be a friendship, nothing more. Finally after spending way too long over breakfast, Steven stood up and told me we should get going. His flight was at three o clock that afternoon, so he needed to be back at the army camp by noon, and I really needed to get on my way back home as the snow would definitely slow me down. Steven went back to his room and collected his belongings and I did the same thing. I hadn’t really unpacked anything, so there wasn’t much to put in my case, but I certainly didn’t want to leave anything behind.  I put Steven’s beautiful ruby and diamond ring back in its case ready to give to him.  I checked the room again and stepped out into the hallway.  Steven’s door was open so I went into his room, he was standing looking out of the window in deep thought.  “Penny for them” I said and he turned around and smiled.  He grabbed his green army overnight bag checked around the room again, and then came over to the door. I held the ring out to him, and he shook his head. “No, you keep it” he said “My grandma would have liked you, so you should have it” “I can’t, it’s worth way too much” I told him, it really was an antique.  He looked troubled, as if he didn’t know what to do and then said “OK, well you hang on to it for now, it seems only right, then you can give it back to me when we meet up again, we probably will you know, so just hang on to it until we do”.  I almost felt like singing the old Vera Lynn Song “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day”. I really wasn’t sure we would ever meet again, but it would be nice if we did. Steven actually looked like he may be about to cry.  I walked over and gave him a big hug, and he hugged me back, very tightly and then we turned around and left the hotel.  I stopped at the front desk to pay, but the bill had already been taken care of. I really had been treated to a wonderful week-end. It was all a little overwhelming.

Chapter One – Road Trip.

Road Trip to Norfolk

Here we are again! I am sharing another story with you. Not sure if I am even going to publish this one, so you may have the privilege of being the only people to read it.  (If it is a privilege). This again, is based on something that really happened to me, but then went off in a whole new direction.  This story put a big smile on my face, not sure why, it just did.  I hope it does the same for  you. Writing takes more time than I have, but is fun, and brings back lots of memories that would otherwise have stayed hidden away in the dark murky places of my brain. Hope you like the photo. The Norfolk Broads are indeed beautiful. My parents spent long summers there in their caravan.  Enjoy, and please feel free to comment.

CHAPTER ONE

 

                Thetford in Norfolk…….ever been? It is not a very big town.  I think in 1974 the population was around four thousand people, and they all talked funny. Well not exactly funny, just different. The buildings were quaint, pretty.  It was a big colorful village,(or small colorful town) a mixture of brick, whitewash and oak beams.  Why was I there? Keep reading to find out! I had been writing to someone who was in the military and stationed abroad. You could say he was a ‘pen pal’! Pen pals were very popular in the sixties and seventies.  I actually had two in America.  One lived in Duluth and the other in California. My military pen pal had been on maneuvers in Norfolk and was given the weekend off before he returned to foreign shores. We planned to meet for the weekend in Thetford, our first meeting actually. We had talked on the phone a couple of times, but generally, we just wrote to each other.  I enjoyed my drive to Thetford, it was my first long journey on my own.   I was 17 so  everything was exciting and new, don’t you wish life stayed that way?  The drive there took me about four hours, A1 (M) to the M14 and ending up on the A11 (or was it the A14) who knows? I did manage to get there without  getting lost, which was all that mattered.  It was an easy drive, and full of anticipation.  I felt very grown up.  I think my parents were glad to get rid of me for the weekend, seventeen was a little young to be going off to spend a weekend with a boy you had never met, but I was strong-willed teenager and there wasn’t an awful lot they could have done to stop me, even if they had wanted to.  My parents just  wanted a peaceful life so they let me go ahead with my weekend plans, hoping I got home safely and didn’t break any laws.

                I pulled over as I approached the outskirts of Thetford, just to collect my thoughts, powder my nose and look at a map. It was two thirty in the afternoon.  The plan was to find a pub in the centre of town, called ‘The Bell Inn’, apparently it would not be difficult to find as it was famous for being used regularly in the ‘Dad’s Army’ television series which everyone one loved. I can still hear the theme music from it in my head now. “Who do you think you are kidding Mr. Hitler, if you think old England’s down” and another favorite from the show

“Whistle while you work, Adolf Hitler is a twerp and his army is half barmy, whistle while you work”

It was one of the funniest shows on television, portraying those daytime civilians, who called themselves ‘the home guard’ during the second world war and donned military uniforms after work. They took their job of guarding the towns and villages of England against the Germans, very seriously. There wasn’t a person living in England who didn’t like this show. Anyway, I digress; I was sitting in my bright yellow Vauxhall Viva, just outside Thetford, wondering what on earth I was doing here.  Wondering if maybe I should turn around and go home! How much complication was I going to bring to this pen pal relationship by driving across the country to meet this young man? I had seen a photograph of him of course, and he looked pleasant enough, no Robert Redford, but out of ten, he probably got a seven.  I looked at my watch again. It was one thirty, and hour before the meeting.  I pulled back onto the road, if I got there early, who cared.  I was hungry anyway and sitting in the car was making me feel a little sick.  It was pretty cold too.  Norfolk in February wasn’t warm. You could smell snow in the air, along with the smell of coal fires burning.  I approached the little town slowly, finding myself on the main street very quickly.  This town wasn’t much bigger than Richmond, my home town. Of course it was much flatter which was why Norfolk was known as ‘Little Holland’.  There are lots of canals and waterways, it seemed a canal ran along beside the road for the latter part of my journey.  I didn’t have to look very hard to see ‘The Bell Inn’ it was right on the corner King Street and a very nice looking place! Steven had booked us rooms there, yes two rooms as we were after all just pen pals. We were just two friends meeting face to face for the first time.

I was starting to feel nervous now, not excited, just very nervous.  I was a romantic at heart, and I think deep down, like any girl, I was looking for Mr. Right.  I never admitted this to anyone, always said marriage and kids didn’t interest me, but isn’t everyone looking for Mr. Right?  I parked the car in the car park at the side of the Inn and sat there, breathing deeply and telling myself just to relax and have fun.  I opened the door and got out into the cold afternoon air, it was raw.  It felt damp and cold with a wind starting to whip up.  I quickly got my small overnight bag out of the back of my car and walked to the front door of the Inn. When I entered I stepped into a warm inviting atmosphere.  There was a big fire crackling at the far end of the room which that was exactly where I was going to sit, warm and cozy by the fire.  I needed to check in first and take my bag up to my room.  That felt weird, I hadn’t checked into a hotel on my own before.  I felt grown up and very small all at the same time.  I suppose it was better that I was on my own, it would have felt even more strange if a I was checking in at the same time as a guy I had never met before.  I asked myself again, what was I doing here?

                As I approached the big wooden pulpit that served as a reception desk, a very pleasant you girl came to greet me. She was a little flushed and strands of her blonde curly hair were falling out of her pony tail, which looked as though it had been hurriedly put in.  It she had white power on her lower arms. She smiled as she found my room number and apologized for her appearance.  “One of the chefs called in sick today so I have been trying to help out” she told me.  She giggled a little as she said it.  “Not too good in the kitchen, but willing to learn” she said. She told me my room number and gave me a big iron key, which would not have looked out-of-place in a castle.  It was an old building, and the keys were part of its history. “Up the stairs and to the right” she told me.  “Your room is the second door on your left. Can you manage your case, only Mr. Manwaring is busy collecting glasses in the bar right now, he could bring your things up later if you can wait” I told her I could manage just fine, as I was only staying the one night, I didn’t have many clothes. “Mr. Manwaring really?” I asked her. “No” she giggled, just kidding.  Mr. Mainwaring was a character from the ‘Dad’s Army’.   I followed her directions and went up the red carpeted stairs to find my room.  Room number 13, was that a sign? I almost asked her to give me a different room when told me the number, but that really was silly wasn’t it. Thirteen was only a number after all!  It was a nice room, a little dark, old oak furniture and a big comfortable looking bed.  The bed was very high and covered with a big red quilt that made me want to snuggle down and go to sleep.  I had plenty of energy during my drive, but all of a sudden I felt it sapping away.  I put my overnight bag on the chair and went to the wash basin.  No ‘en-suite’ in those days, just a wash basin in the room, and a toilet down the hallway.  I washed my face, I did look a little tired, so I touched up my make-up and put on a clean sweater.  That felt better.  I looked at myself in the mirror, yes a definite improvement.  What I needed now was something to eat and a drink. I looked at my watch; it was almost three o clock, where had the last hour and a half gone?  I was late!

                I went downstairs and nervously walked towards the restaurant/bar area.  I couldn’t see inside so I just had to be brave and walk right into the room.  It was a nice room.  The bar was at the far end, no fire here though, I never did get chance to sit by the fire did I? There was a formal looking dining room to the left, and then some bar tables and chairs over to the right.  There were also some booths over by the window.  I couldn’t see in all of them.  There was no one sitting at the bar, or at any of the tables.  Had he left already because I was a half hour late?  That would be just perfect, drive for four hours or so, and then get stood up. I walked over to the bar, it was a little early for a brandy and coke, but I really felt like I needed one.  At times like this (I was only seventeen remember, a year before I could legally drink), I would approach the bar ready to lie about my age.  I was born on January 18th 1956,that made me JUST old enough to drink legally, as my real birthday was on year and one day later that.  No one ever asked me my age, and hadn’t since I was sixteen.  Now I don’t want you to think I was a heavy drinker, I was not, but when you live in a small village, there wasn’t much else to do apart from go to the pub, or the local barn dances, and no one really cared how old you were, as long as you weren’t getting out of control, or driving. The landlords and barmaids used to keep their eyes open for the local police, who occasionally raided the pubs trying to catch under age drinkers.  If they saw a police car pull up, those not old enough to drink would do a runner out of the back door and over the back wall into the field.  They would stay hidden until they got the “all clear” from the barmaid.  The odd police raid added to the excitement of the evening sometimes, apart from when the weather was bad and you jumped over the wall into a muddy ploughed field.  On one occasion I remember a good friend of mine jumping into a field with a prize bull, he wasn’t hurt, but got a nasty fright. Luckily for him he managed to jump back over the wall just before the charging bull reached him.  The police actually saw what was going on, but were laughing way too much to arrest him.  I’m pretty sure that story was told often back at the Police Station. Anyway back to Thetford and the Bell Inn.  I was just about to order myself a brandy and coke, when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned around and there, in the flesh, stood my pen-pal Steven.  It was very awkward, we both started talking at the same time, stopped, and started again in unison.  I really wished I had a drink before we met, at least I wouldn’t have felt so self-conscious.  

                The barman saved the day.  “What can I get you?” he asked. Before I had chance to answer, Steven asked for the wine list.  Now there was a novelty! The barman showed us to a booth and said he would be back with the wine list. Steven asked for the menu too!  “So here we are, together at last” Steven said.  For once in my life I was speechless, didn’t happen very often, but I felt way out of my comfort zone.  The man sitting opposite me, and I say man because he was a lot older than I thought he was, probably in his mid twenties, which to a seventeen year old was old. He was about six feet when he was standing, was average build, had sandy red hair and freckles.  He was quite pleasant to look at, which is what I thought when I saw his photograph, but I think the photograph had been taken a couple of years earlier as he seemed to have matured a little since it was taken. I smiled and luckily for me, before I had chance to say anything stupid, the barman came back with the wine list and the menu. Steven took the wine list, and I took the menu. My stomach was rumbling with the promise of food, breakfast has been a long time ago. I didn’t hear what wine was ordered, but the barman walked away and I concentrated on the menu.  Fish and chips sounded perfect. I handed the menu over to my pen pal, and looked out of the window.  He glanced at it and put it down. “Don’t be shy Sheila, we have known each other for a long time, we should be able to relax” I agreed with him and told him I was just a little tired after the long drive, and I felt a little overwhelmed with everything.  This was the first time we had me and I felt awkward. The barman came back with an ice bucket and two glasses. He opened the wine which Steven tasted and then poured us both a glass. It was good.  This man sitting in front of me was very intense, he looked me right in the eye as he told me all about the wine, which was German, and about the vineyard it was grown in, he had spent time in Germany and travelled around different Vineyards.  He seemed to have done a great deal.  As I drank my wine, I relaxed and started to enjoy the afternoon.  As it got dark outside, snowflakes began to fall, not heavily, but the ground was soon white.  By the time the food arrived, two plates of fish and chips, I was starting to feel a buzz from the wine.  I was relaxed and actually enjoying the conversation.  I heard about Military life and Steven’s travels. He talked and was very animated while we both ate and drank. I listened and found everything he had to say very fascinating, and then came the bombshell.  “Sheila, I hope you don’t think I have brought you here for a dirty weekend, I haven’t, in fact quite the opposite, I am not attracted to women at all, but I need a female friend for this evening to meet my Sergeant and his wife for drinks, I want to convince them I am not a ‘Queer’, even though unfortunately that is what they would call me.  I am due for promotion and I think I would have been promoted sooner, but there is a suspicion that I prefer men which doesn’t  bide well  in the army. My sexual preferences are well and truly locked in the closet, and always will be. The army is my whole life; it’s what I do, what I live for. From the moment we first started writing, I felt we connected, and I knew you could help me with this. I trust you”.  I was stunned, and I have to say a little relieved.  I laughed out loud. I couldn’t help it, I just laughed.  He looked taken aback and ready to get up and leave. I put my hand on his. “No don’t go, that’s OK, I would be happy to meet your Sergeant for drinks, I really would like to get showered and changed though, I feel a mess after my journey.  Why me though, why did you chose me to come all the way from up North to pretend to be your girlfriend?” “Actually, you need to be my fiancée” he said, and produced a very nice looking ring. “It was my grandma’s ring; you can wear it for tonight if you would”. It was beautiful, rubies and diamonds and obviously an antique. It went well with the surroundings.  I actually was starting to enjoy the whole intrigue. It let me off the hook a little and I could relax and not worry about what was coming at the end of the night. We talked a little longer, putting a plan together so we got our story together about how we met, going over difficult questions that may arise. When we felt like we had a plan, Steven paid the bill and we went upstairs together, his room was next to mine, he stopped outside my door, gave me a hug, looked me right in the eye and told me he really appreciated what I was doing to help him. 

                I went into my room and flopped on the bed, wow, this certainly was not what I expected! I had been writing to this chap for a year now, and didn’t know he wasn’t ‘my type’.  I laughed softly to myself, I always managed to get into some sort of scrape or adventure, but I couldn’t lie, this was actually fun.  I looked at my watch it was five thirty, I had crammed a lot into this day.  When I got out of bed this morning I had not expected so many twists and turns along the way.  Good job I had a good night’s sleep before I set off. We were meeting Sergeant Davies at seven o clock so I had an hour and a half to get myself together.  I decided to have a nap, it had been a long day, and the wine had made me so relaxed I knew I needed to shut my eyes for a while.  It seemed like five minutes later when I heard a knock on my door, I looked at the clock, it was six fifteen.  I got up and answered the door to see my new-found fiancée standing there with a cup of tea in his hand. “I couldn’t hear you moving so I figured you had gone to sleep, here this will help wake you up, also I went shopping and I hope this fits”  He had a Dorothy Perkins bag in his hand. He wouldn’t come in to my room just handed them both to me, smiled and they went back to his room.  I undressed and washed and drank the tea. I laid the dress out on the bed, he really didn’t need to buy me a dress, but he was only the second ‘gay’ man I had ever known and maybe it was something they liked to do.  The dress was very elegant. It was black jersey, with a sweetheart neckline and hung gracefully from the fitted bodice. A lovely cocktail dress!  I wasn’t exactly twiggy and this sort of style suited me better than a tight-fitting waistline.  I tried it on and found it was a perfect fit.  I wasn’t sure if the military was the right career choice for this man, but that was none of my business.  I put my face on, and made a special effort; after all I had just become engaged.  I almost forgot to put the ring on.  It truly was lovely.  Good job I had brought some high-heeled shoes, they were black suede and went perfectly with the dress.  I had been planning to wear them with the other pair of jeans I packed, but this looked much better.  At about ten to seven there was a knock at the door again, I opened it and it was my fiancée, with a bottle of champagne and a glass in either hand. He was wearing jeans, a white shirt open at the neck, and a blue blazer, a little better dressed than the guys I usually dated. I actually felt quite sad that he wasn’t attracted to women, if he was, he would have been a good catch. The blue blazer brought out the blue in his eyes; he was a very good-looking man.

1944 – A Love Story

Believe it or not, I have found a love story, which was written on  a typewriter by my dad in the Second World War,  during the terrible bombings in London.  He then mailed this story to his father in July of 1944.  Maybe he didn’t think he would live to deliver it in person. Unfortunately he didn’t finish this story, only wrote ten pages, so watch out for my interpretation of how it will end. I also found a very short essay written about his time in Egypt. It looks like destiny intended me to write. Is it coincidence that these stories resurfaced  on the 11th anniversary of my dad’s death?

I told you, things happen to me……….