Tag Archives: death

Her spirit returned last night

She came to my house last night, uninvited, unwanted, unseen. Fifteen years gone. The moment I opened the front door, I sensed her presence as the faintest trace of perfume of a long ago lover. Graveyard chilled yet unable to turn away, I entered and followed her trail up the stairs, the marks a phosphorescent glow in the dark where she had stopped and run her hand along the bannister, touched her photos on the landing and hesitated by the painting. Our painting, that day at the beach.
The air tingled, vibrating like a high voltage power line as I followed her scent into my study, the buzzing deafening where she had opened my latest book and dropped it at mention of Anna, fleeing from my new life. The trail vanished at my bedroom door, as though she had not dared to enter what was no longer hers.

An unquiet soul on unfinished business.

I walked back downstairs, scared, cold, hair bristling and at the same time, entranced as I had been for so long by her. In another place, in another life. I turned on the lamp from the old house, lit the oil burner with her favourite, sat and waited. Listened to our music.
She had loved me, hated me, loved me, died.
The journey to forgiveness is long and hard.
The journey to self-forgiveness is without end.

Love and death on the Camino: is there ever a single truth?

chemin de saint jacques july 2013 070
This is embarrassing, right? I have not posted on my novel-in-progress since late October [I forced myself to check the date].
Do any of you remember what was happening to our lovers? Well, in case you do not, they are in south western France and Tom suspects that Anika is murdering pilgrims on the Camino and is torn between his love for her and trying to solve the mystery of the killings.
What to do?
Trust her?
Confront her?
Keep quiet and pursue the truth on the Camino?
Is there ever a single truth?
Tom has been attacked and may be in danger; should he give up and slip quietly away?
P1010007
So, what have I been doing in the last x months? Apart from living life and earning a few dollars consulting?
November was NaNoWriMo 50,00 words in a month and I have revised my effort down to a 25,000 word novella which I intend to submit to a competition in May. I have experimented with 6 and 100 word flash fiction, partly as a bit of fun and partly as practice in writing intense moments of prose with no verbiage, explanation, backgrounding etc.
Is this a list of excuses for inactivity on my Camino novel? Fortunately not.
Most days I have been writing the 4th draft of ‘Love and Death on the Camino’ and have revised to that point of the story where Tom is forced to face the very real possibility that his lover is a serial killer. Yes, we are back to where we left off.
So, watch this space!
Oh, am I happy with my revision? Hmm. the plotting is tighter and the characters more rounded and sympathetic [says me]. It will need at least one more total rewrite after this and I shall be ready to send it out maybe by the end of 2015.
So, once upon a time two people crazed by grief fell in love ….what could possibly go wrong?
Le Puy to Espalion May 2013 036

My life and death in boxes

First the socks. Black ones bundled together next to the pink in the top drawer. Knickers in the next; everyday white here, black there, special occasion lacy separate. Not that I will need them again unless they bury me in them.  Damn, a blue pair muddled, bloody eyesight worse.

 Where are the wooden hangers for my shirts? So hard to reach, pain tearing my soul.

A place for everything and everything in its place. Once you start tossing your clothes any which way, ironed and unironed together, where does it all end? Like life, keep the bits separate, keep the parts contained. Compartments. Boxes. Control. Survival.

 I’m so bloody tired these days it would be easy not to bother, but what then? What would it say, to have lived my life in boxes and to fall apart at the end? 

 We don’t talk about the cancer. No point, doesn’t change anything. It eats my bones, eats my eyes, nothing to be done, nothing to stop it except time and that will be soon enough. Nothing left to say whereas once I couldn’t be stopped; a fountain of words and with Mark the words and sex binding us like honey. But I was married, still am and still to the wrong man and now I’m dying. You have to laugh. Or cry. Neither of us cried. Rob did, he was always the weakest. 

Damn, my good slacks are still marked, can’t wear them like this, have to wash them again – ah, bending down! That hurts, shouldn’t have done it. Shit!

Don’t leave a mess for others.

Don’t cry.

 Nearly finished, pullovers each folded in their plastic bags and laid in the wardrobe in their proper place, in their snug little homes.

Finished. All in order. Everything in its place.

Knives, forks, spoons, nobody throws them together them in one pile. Clothes the same. Life the same. Boxes each containing their secrets got me through Daddy, helped me survive Mark and it will get me through this. 

He’ll be home soon and I have to be finished.

Well, I was smart enough to keep quiet, not like telling about Daddy.

 We don’t talk about anything much, Rob and me and that suits me; silence fitted me like a glove when I stopped feeling after Mark. My navy blue silk dress and jacket became my armour. The ‘ice queen’ they all wanted to fuck.

He’ll be home soon, there’s leftovers and salad, that’ll do, he’ll be fine. I guess he won’t be hungry anyway.
Just a moment, rest for a moment, so bloody tired.

I learned my lesson and kept it in boxes: big or small, shiny or dull, old or new. Knickers, socks or love, it works the same way. Shove it in a box, push it under the bed where the monsters live and pretend. Simply pretend.

Ikea boxes are perfect. 

 He stopped loving me. Mark, I mean.

A life of boxes and compartments and one final box to unlock before he comes home and starts watching me with those doggy eyes. ‘What do you want of me?’ he asks. ‘I want you to be him!’ I scream silently. ‘Lives of quiet desperation’, who said that? I would have known once or Mark would have, finishing each other’s sentences, ricochet words of love and hate in our own world. 

 One final box, a pretty one. Open the lid, swallow the pills, close the lid and rest. Clean sheets, smoothed pillows. middle class manners to the end. So many words wasted on Mark and so many hours wasted waiting at the phone and now to rest in my box where nobody can touch me. I choose my last box and it is done.

He should not have –

He should not have gone to the cafe that Sunday.
He should not have sat next to her.
He should not have chatted with her.
He should not have been at the cafe again next week and seen her.
He should not have asked her out.
He should not have dated her.
He should not have fallen in love.
He should not have moved into her apartment.
He should not have seen her in the park with him that day.
He should not have fallen out of love with her.
He should not have stayed.
He should not have died at the hand of the girl in black.
But he did.

Ghost story: an ending

He was so cold and alone and her gaze so fixed and he could bear it no longer.

He reached out to her and took her hand and she gave that slow half smile he remembered and embraced him and once more they walked hand in hand as they had done in another life as the dawn light grew stronger.

There had never been a choice since the day he first saw her in her navy blue silk dress and she laughed and said ‘I always fall for the wrong men’ and his world tipped over and was never righted until this moment.

Ghost story: choose your own ending

He woke and saw her standing by the bed, staring down at him. What did she want from him? She had been dead ten years and still she came and watched and waited.

Her gaze was steady; he yearned to reach out and take her hand, yet knew instinctively that to do so would be his own death. Nor did he dare to close his eyes.

Why did she visit him every night? What was she seeking from him or trying to tell him? He had done his best. Nobody blamed him, not to his face at least. What else could he have done? The alternative had been unthinkable and what would it have changed?
Would she have lived if things had been different between them that day?
She gazed at him, unwavering, expressionless, the dark eyes he could never forget. The room grew cold. he wanted to reach out and hold her, it was ten years too late.
She faded away, to reappear the next night and every night until finally, in the pre-dawn light, he did what he had long known was the only way out.