A kid in your grade whom you don’t know very well shows up at your house one day to tell you something important. What does he say?

I open the door and standing there looking directly at me is Hershel, from my class, the quiet kid at the back who doesn’t really like to make eye contact with anyone.

I wonder if is he is lost and I’m about to close the door when he speaks.

“Good evening Riley, may I come in?” His voice is very deep for a twelve year old, most people make fun of him for it, or they used to, I haven’t actually heard him speak for almost half a year.

His voice startles me and I almost close the door anyway, except I don’t, but I can’t just invite him in either, he could be crazy, it’s always the quiet ones, that’s a saying for a reason.

I debate for a moment as he just stares at the ground, he has got really curly hair, it’s dark brown at the roots and almost blonde at the tips, he even has blonde highlights. It’s quite feminine hair, I never realised, maybe it’s the voice that threw me.

“Come in, but don’t touch anything,” I caution, before leading him up to my bedroom, Hershel is quiet, too quiet, I don’t even hear his footsteps behind me, freaky.

I sit on my desk and he just stands, eyes on the floor.

“I have something to tell you,” he says quietly.

I wait for him to continue.

“Go on,” I say.

I wait some more.

“Tell me,” I command.

“I remember that when Miss Brent died you spoke at the assembly, my dog has just died can you please do the same?” He asks.

I am speechless, not only do I not know Hershel, I didn’t even know he had a dog, certainly I didn’t know the dog well enough to write him an epitaph.

I want to refuse but I don’t because I like to think I am a good person which is how I ended up standing in front of a grave on Saturday morning, speaking about a dog I never even met before.

Hershel is quiet, but I can tell he is sad.

When I finish he just stares at the grave, then he walks away, I follow him, into his mansion, because he is rich, like famous person rich, given a tour of his house, that rich.

We walk into wealth and he just stands there at the threshold, during the tour I saw a gaming room, I want to go there but Hershel is silent.

Then the maid comes up to us with a lovely bouquet of flowers that would fill up my whole house, she tries to give them to Hershel but he is just staring at the floor again.

I take them and thank her, before reading the note out loud.

“We will send a replacement, love Mum and Dad,” the words are out of my mouth before I even realise what I am saying, I re-read it appalled, and I carefully put the note down.

“You may go now,” Hershel says looking at me directly.

“You can come with me, my mum is not a chef, but she’s making spaghetti and meat balls, I don’t have a pet but I have a little sister, she’s almost two and she’s basically an animal,” I say tucking a braid behind my ear as I take my bike out of the shed.

“You do not have to be nice to me because –”

“Because you lost your pet and your parents are mean, yeah I do, come on it will make me feel better.” I say grabbing his forearm and dragging him along, it’s awkward with my bike, and I scratch my leg but I don’t let go.

“You do not have to drag me, if it will make you feel better then I will come.” He says going into the shed to take out his own bicycle.

I laugh, “Was that an actual joke? I thought you didn’t even know what it was.”

Hershel smiles as both get on our bikes and ride back to my house.

 

 

 

Short story: Write a scene that begins with: “It was the first time I killed a man.”

Write a scene that begins with: “It was the first time I killed a man.”

“It was the first time I killed a man.” The words were out of her mouth before she could stop them, and she looked across with a mixture of fear and relief.

There was no judgment on her face, so young and seemingly innocent, she held my gaze, her grey eyes almost shinning as she nodded, eyes aged beyond her years, childhood not something she would ever experience.

“It will not be your last, many more must die before and even then you may never know what peace is,”

So much death,’ she thought looking away, ‘too much.

“You fear that you will become a killer because of the life you took and the ones you intend to take.”

“That is not why I am afraid –”

“You enjoyed it?”

She met that level gaze again, and watched for a reaction as she spoke her next words.

“I felt nothing, there was some justice at ridding the world of evil but I am still waiting for the guilt, the horror of the act, anything.”

No reaction and she looked away.

“You are afraid –”

“Weren’t you listening?” She said hotly, “I don’t feel anything!”

“No, you are afraid that what happened to you has changed you irrevocably, that even when you wish to you can no longer feel emotion. They changed you and that change cannot be undone.”

She looked back to see tears gleaming in that grey gaze and wanted to turn away from the emotion but she stared, fascinated.

She reached a hand out to touch the tear, a barrier of resistance as her hand met with its reflection.

Snapshots through time: Liana’s decision

Forever and always

Liana noticed both Sanella and Ezra locked in an intense conversation and she walked in.

Ezra looked a little stricken and Sanella looked smug, which was strange because ever since he had gotten her pregnant Ezra had stuttered around like a peacock whereas Liana had become a recluse, embarrassed at having fallen pregnant because of a one night stand; she very rarely left her office.

Liana walked in, and they both jumped.

“You want to publish it?” Ezra asked, recovering some of his composure.

Liana met Sanella’s distressed gaze.

“Why do you hesitate?” Ezra asked,

“Morally, I’m not sure if it is the right thing to do.”

Ezra looked confused for a moment before nodding.

“Both Jonah and Eleanor are patients at the institute, and you blame yourself for making them recount their lives.”

He phrased it like a statement but Liana nodded.

“The more they remembered of their past lives the –”

“The crazier –”

“We don’t say the word crazy!” Sanella reprimanded.

“Fine, the more they remembered of their past lives the more mentally unstable they became, and from the looks of all the other people you interviewed it appears that this is a trend.” Ezra said nodding, as he began to pace.

“So now your fear is; that people will think that there is no such thing as mental health issues, just people who have remembered something they shouldn’t.”

“We are not supposed to remember our past lives.” Sanella said softly.

They were all quite for a long time.

“Do you ever wonder how many things have been discovered and kept a secret because we are just not ready to face some truths?” Ezra mused.

“It is for the greater good,” Liana said, “tragedy has plagued Jonah and Eleanor for decades, because their love was too strong, it overrode any commands of the brain to not remember. Maybe if they are lucky; in their next life they can forget enough to enjoy a love they have waited two life-times for.”

Snapshots through time: Eleanor remembers the past

Embrace me Jonah

Embrace me Jonah

Jonah waited beside Eleanor’s bed, the doctors were confused, a woman of thirty with no history of health issues didn’t simply have a seizure and slip into a coma for a month. Jonah didn’t care what the experts said, he would wait for his Eleanor, he had already waited one life time for her and he didn’t mind waiting another.

It came as no surprise to him when she awoke and called out to him.

“I remember,” she said softly. “My darling Francis, I remember.”

“If it hurts you, then don’t.” He had said to her, brushing her dark her away from her forehead, so different from the lighter shade she’d had in her previous life, with the thought came a piercing pain in his head but he fought through it.

“I have to know, I need to. On the train tracks that day, what happened?” She asked her voice urgent, as though she knew her mind wouldn’t last long in this fluid state.

“We were supposed to meet one last time, but the train it hit you,” Jonah said carefully, “I died a few years later, working on the railway, I couldn’t be away from trains from you.”

Eleanor smiled sadly.

“How can it be that we have loved each other for two lifetimes, but never really get to be together?”

Jonah hugged her tightly as his mind started to rebel.

“I don’t know Miss Marie-Ann, I don’t know.”

Snapshots through time: Marie-Ann’s ring

one-ring

Sanella looked up as Ezra stormed into the office.

He looked down at her, his anger a palpable thing in the air.

“How may I help you?” She said pleasantly.

“A letter? You think a letter was enough to convince someone – regardless of the amount of coincidences she shared with Marie-Ann,” he interjected when she opened her mouth to argue, “was enough, you’ve taken out something, tell me now!” He demanded, his eyes too bright.

“A little obsessed?” She said with a smile.

He gave her a strange look, “Of course,” he said so earnestly that Sanella actually believed him.

“Marie-Ann was given an engagement ring when she made the deal with the Mayor’s son. Expensive and oddly unique, the ring has been lost for decades.” Sanella said and reached into her desk and pulled out the ring.

“Eleanor knew exactly where it was,”

Ezra gazed at it, he looked almost fearful.

Sanella smiled and said softly, “It is one thing to believe, quite another to be proven right.”

Ezra met her gaze. He opened his mouth to say something and closed it again.

Snapshots through time: Marie-Ann’s The Letter

old-letter

“Her name was Marie-Ann, we couldn’t be together, back then people couldn’t mix like they do now. She was white and I was black,” Jonah told Liana, “we kept it secret for as long as we could but we were found out. To say life got unbearable would be an understatement, the tenuous peace we were working towards blew up. It split the whole town in half. She cut a deal with the mayor; Mr Hopkins, to marry his son, an ignorant and violent young man, but she agreed so they would leave us alone.”

Liana had then been presented with a letter, soft and worn with age, she had the paper authenticated. It was real.

Much as I love you, and I do love you, I can no longer accept what we are doing. Your nearness, it causes great pain when you leave. Despite knowing that I will regret this decision forever, I can no longer take the pain of your presence any more – even for you. I will not put myself through it. Maybe in our next life we can try again. – MA

MA had stood for Marie-Ann Jean who had been born in 1953 and died in 1975.  Eleanor Avenoso had been born nine months after Marie-Ann had died. When she had first read the letter, she had collapsed and slipped in to a coma that had confused the Doctors. But it was when she had woken up that the real problem began.