Brendan first met her on a Friday evening when a cold wind swept across the East River into Brooklyn. It was a mild November until then but the time for overcoats and scarves had arrived as bitter winds sailed south on the Hudson to the boroughs.
He exited the Bedford Avenue station and prepared for a cold gust of air . . . channeling down the staircase, turning his head towards the banister. The Williamsburg streets were busy with people pouring into the bars to secure tables for the night. He walked down Driggs Avenue towards Grand Street where he was due to meet his roommate, Peter, at a bar they frequented the previous summer. The biting air clung to his shaven face while he waited at a set of traffic lights on Metropolitan Avenue to change colour. It was Peter’s friend’s birthday, a girl he studied drama with at Trinity. Peter convinced Brendan to attend after he first declined his invitation.
“I know you don’t know most of the old crowd but they’re all very nice. Besides it might be good for you to have a night out, Bren. Don’t you ever miss the old days? We’re not in our thirties yet.”
“The old days are a blur, Peter,” he said.
An evening with people he didn’t know well meant strained conversations and fighting the drink’s lure. He told himself to stick with stout, it was going to be a long night and if he allowed himself an early whiskey things could get away from him. The bar was wedged between two restaurants with blue steel bars covering the front windows, Iona engraved in gothic lettering above the door. The wooden furnishing and old photographs of Dublin gave the impression of an actual pub.
He ordered a pint, seeing Peter and the group sitting in the beer garden. The glass trembled in his hand as he approached them. Brendan tried to lock eyes with Peter who was rolling a cigarette and deep in conversation with a gangly boy with long, rakish hair hanging over his eyes. He hovered over the table for a minute before his friend, Hannah, saw him.
“Hey, Bren. God, it’s been ages,” she said, standing up and giving him a hug.
“Yes, long time no see,” he replied, holding his hand up to everyone in greeting. He ran a hand over his fringe and brushed back his dark curls.
Brendan took a seat beside Hannah and everyone continued with their conversations, their voices echoing around the beer garden. He sipped his stout, looking around the group. They were the types he never knew in university – beautiful and intellectual and wealthy.
“Can you believe it’s been over ten years since Freshers’ week? God we were so awkward,” a girl with auburn hair said. They all laughed and Brendan stared at the water dripping from the gutter onto the ground, this talk of old flings and lecturers boring him.
“That seems a long time ago,” the tall boy said. “Sure look at us now, scattered in all corners of the globe.” Brendan turned his head towards the door, as if expecting to see one of his friends but they were all far from Brooklyn.
“How’s work going, Bren? Hannah asked, taking a sip of her cocktail.
“Oh it’s fine, thanks. They’re letting me go home for Christmas so I can’t complain.”
“That’ll be great, Bren, Christmas at home is wild. Have you met my friend Sarah by the way?”
A girl with chestnut brown hair seated beside Hannah leaned forward. He hadn’t noticed her at first but she struck him there with her brown eyes, sitting on the bench in a denim jacket. Her hair was tied in a short bow with a red bobbin. She had a slim face with clusters of small freckles dotted on her cheeks.
“No, I don’t believe so. Nice to meet you.”
“You too, Peter’s told us a lot about you.”
“All good I hope.”
“Oh, it was a glowing review,” she said and smiled at him.
“Well, Peter’s always been a good liar,” he said, bowing his head.
“Who wants another drink?” Hannah asked.
“I’ll have the same,” Sarah said, holding up her empty glass. Her long fingers were wrapped around the pink straw hanging from the rim.
“What about yourself, Bren? Hannah asked.
“Sure, another pint thanks,” he replied.
He’d have to buy a round now so he didn’t look tight. She slid across the bench to face him.
“So how long have you lived here, Brendan?”
“Three years, Sarah.”
“It’s so different to Dublin, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it’s another world.”
She leaned her slender frame against the wall, the collar of a white blouse protruding from her black jumper.
“But I do miss Dublin at times,” he added.
“Yes, me too. Do you think you’ll stay here?”
“Hard to say. What about you?” Hannah returned with the drinks on a tray before she could answer. Brendan smelt their vodka as it crackled against the ice, tempting him to order a whiskey.
“It’s time for dancing, they’re all waiting for us at Copa. Everyone finish your drinks,” the tall boy announced. Brendan finished his pint, the cream slivering to the bottom of the glass, wiping some from his mouth. Sarah let out a short laugh.
“This is why I shouldn’t drink stout,” he said, wiping his lips with a napkin.
They stood up to leave, he waited outside for Peter while the others walked on. He was sporting a new haircut and silk shirt beneath his quilted jacket. The wind blew down the road, flanked between redbrick houses built behind low black gates and paved yards.
“Winter’s here now,” Peter said.
“Do you know that girl, Sarah?”
“We did a few plays together in Trinity.”
“She seems nice.”
“Don’t get any ideas, Bren,” he said.
“I wasn’t,” Brendan said, craving a drag of his cigarette.
The next bar was on a street corner beneath the Williamsburg Bridge. A tug boat drifted on the murky water, its city pennant flapping in the wind. People huddled underneath the streetlamps and blew into their cigarettes. There was a short queue, three girls in heavy make-up wearing short skirts stood ahead of them.
“I need a whiskey,” he said.
“I thought you were off the hard stuff,” Peter said.
The bouncer called them forward, Brendan produced his driving licence and waited for Peter inside the doorway. It was a narrow establishment with exotic music shaking the walls. Peter found the group by a set of tables, giving out hugs and pecks on the cheek. Brendan walked towards the bar, joining a crush of people crowded around the glossy countertop. Two men with slicked back hair wearing pressed shirts were whispering in each other’s ears and pointing at girls on the dancefloor. He squeezed beside them and ordered a bottle of beer with a whiskey. The music pierced his ears and he was kept waiting five minutes for a drink, handing over a twenty dollar note.
“It’s another five,” the bartender shouted, sleeved tattoos running down both his arms. He snatched a ten out of Brendan’s hand and walked over to a pair of tall blond girls flashing their credit cards.
Brendan decided to run after finishing his drinks, letting the cutting wind guide him home and delay his sorrow with a joint before bed. He drank his whiskey and then the beer in a few sips, squirming through dancing couples and back out into the night. The lights of the bridge rose and fell along the suspension cables, twinkling stars over the river. She was smoking a cigarette on the footpath.
“Are you leaving?”
“Not yet,” he said.”
“Can we share this? I can never finish a whole one.”
“Sure,” he said, walking towards her and extending his fingers beneath her grip on the filter.
“Thanks. I was just about to ask Peter for one,” he said, taking a deep drag and handing it back to her.
“You looked like a man who was making an exit.”
“I was just getting some air, it’s hard to catch your breath in there.”
“If you say so,” she said, dropping her arm and holding the cigarette by her waist. The glint in her eyes shone through the darkness.
“So you come here often?”
“First time, I haven’t been out in a while,” he said.
“Yes, Peter said you prefer staying in most nights,” she said, blowing out a wisp of smoke.
“He’s making me sound reclusive.”
“You were just leaving though?”
“I’ve exhausted all my small talk for an evening.”
“Same, my cheeks are also going red,” she said, handing him back the cigarette.
“They look fine from here,” he said, exhaling and tossing the cigarette on the ground. He clenched his jaw and darted his eyes towards the pavement.
“Come on, they might be getting worried about us.”
She tugged on the sleeve of his coat and pulled him towards the door. Brendan was flushed as she disappeared into the crowd, fearful of losing her to the night and its brazen boys. He ordered a whiskey to keep his tongue loose and thoughts sparse. She pushed off the bar, moving away from the group who were huddled together on the dancefloor, and back over to him. He stood against the wall, watching people dance and mouth the lyrics.
“You’re not in the mood for dancing?” she asked.
“I feel Peter does enough for both of us,” he said, the lampshade’s silhouette running down her cheek line.
“Yes, taller boys always look awkward dancing,” she said, looking up into his blue eyes with loose strands of silky brown hair falling over her eyelashes. He thought about reaching out and tucking them behind her ear, clasping his fingers around the glass.
“This place is so loud,” he shouted in her ear.
“You should see Berlin, the nights don’t get started until around four.”
“That sounds way too intense.”
“Yes, I much prefer just going to the pub.”
“Me too,” he said, wishing he had the nerve to take her hand in his.
The whiskey glazed Brendan’s vision and doubts as the night ran on. He felt himself falling deeper with each sip, prepared to profess something foolish to her.
“Are you going to ask me something?” She bit her bottom lip, piercing her cherry red lip gloss.
“I might,” he whispered, dropping his head and leaning in towards her when the lights came on.
“Everybody make your way to the exit,” one of the bouncers shouted while the music still played over the speakers.
She walked ahead of him, turning back and smiling. His chest felt weak watching her tread around the tables as time slipped through the shadows. Outside, she turned to face him on the top step, shifting the weight from her heels onto her toes. He wanted to grab the back of her neck and feel those lips against his until the bridge’s lights faded with the dawn. She glanced sideways, tucking her chin into a tartan scarf.
“Where to next then?”
“It’s getting late,” he said.
His throat was dry from the whiskey and tobacco. He didn’t want to just be a boy she flirted with, forgotten once the sun had risen over the flat rooftops. Peter and Hannah appeared outside and ushered them both into a taxi.
“Bring us home, we’ll drop the lads off first,” Hannah said from the front seat.
His heart sank, scrambling his thoughts to keep the night going. The car turned onto Broadway and drove under the rumbling rail tracks. There was a clamour about the night passed and all the ones soon to come.
“Do you have anything planned for you last day, Sarah?” Peter asked.
“Oh, not much. My flight’s in the evening so I won’t be delaying.”
“It’s a long journey to Berlin,” he said.
“Yes, ten hours from here.”
Brendan was silent, staring at the streets of Brooklyn through the window. The buildings melded through his drunken regard. Their knees hovered inches apart, never to touch. The taxi stopped outside their apartment complex and he stepped out, handing a ten dollar note to Hannah. He gripped the door handle, staring at her.
“Goodnight,” she said.
“See you soon.” The driver shifted gears and the car pulled away, cruising through the traffic lights.
“Bren, open the fucking door, I can’t feel my face,” Peter bellowed. He walked between two parked cars and up the stoop, turning the key.
They stumbled out of the elevator and into their apartment. Peter went straight to bed, leaving his tobacco on the dining table. Brendan rolled a cigarette and walked into his cold, dusty bedroom. He leaned his head on the window frame and struck a match, blowing into the pane. The golden towers of downtown sparkled under dark clouds. He finished half the cigarette and went to bed.
“Just let it go, Bren,” Peter said the following evening, offering scant consolation.
He blended his regret with whiskey. The rest of the weekend passed with a frost covering the pavements, spent fighting the fading of her grace from his heart.
love! Is the key to life and opens your heart to another personand if youjizz don't know if you love then you might need a booster. It is like a youtube cupid floating down for me the gates of heaven. Is staring you in the face and you don't even know it. You know i was there. You could be staring it lightens face . . . darts. Love! Is your heart and soul if you can't find it then you might need someone to guide you in the direction. Later in life you will find it and use heelys settle down and whatever. Honestly love is like a reward it is a feeling it's your whole life. You might be best friends auto electrical workers work with each other. Love is a part of your life and you can't kick it out everyone needs a bit of love. Make the right decision a couple lessons. Make the right choice.
I was crazily in love with a girl at school. I went to ask her for a valentines day dance but she said the John had already asked her. He was my best friend. I walked into the podigious halls which majestically curved and slanted. The fire was roaring like a fire bursting out into the blue to catch a prey. My best . . . friend was also in love with this girl. He seemed like he was winning her as they lent over to kiss each other. For me this was heart-breaking so I pulled a prank on him and puled down his trousers. Everyone looked at him and laughed at him we then got into a massive argument. "I love her more" He said, I was outraged and yelled "You stole my girl, I hate you so much". We went on like this for at least 5 minutes and then we realized that it already had 500,000 views on you tube and my crush had left.
She never talked to either of us again and me and John made up but we were still bullied so much.
By Ethan McEwen
Love..... as defined is " A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another." Love is much more than that. It can not be defined, it must be felt in a way words can not describe. It consumes you, slowly taking over you. You can fall in love, meaning you plummet in to a state where all you can think is that person. . . . And in an instant they become your world. Love is complication and destruction but also care and respect. It may break you, only to rebuild you and break you again and again. But without it you have no trust, no compassion, no other feeling. Love plays in to all the other feelings too. Anger, happiness, sadness..... because in order to feel that way you must have some sort of care for what lead you to feel that way. If you love something, it makes you happy and it's loss would devastate you, it's controversy would anger you. We need to feel, to strive, to have something to look forward to. Love may hurt because it isn't perfect but it's wonders are perfect to us.
I finally did it, I had collected 70 tokens from my cornflakes, eating them morning, noon and night for the past 6 months. I don't think I could eat any more flakes of corn if someone paid me a million pounds. But the prize would be worth it. 70 tokens and a hundred pounds for a night with the Prime Minister.
My . . . friends all questioned why I went to such an effort, what difference would one night make? They didn't know that in between munching bowls of flakes I had been learning hypnotherapy. I had plenty of time to read as I had saved so much time by not cooking. I had even practised on a few friends and they had no idea. Some of the antics I had made them perform were hilarious.
I walked to the postbox with a spring in my step. This time next month I would be sat opposite the most powerful man in the country. He wouldn't even know that between smalltalk I would be working my way into his weasly mind. Between now and then I had to decide what I would do with him, what was the most important thing, not just for me but for the country?
I was tempted to get him to reveal the truth about conspiracy theories, did aliens really exist? Or to give everyone an extra week's holiday. My favourite idea was to get him to sack all other politicians and hire my mum, the wisest person I know. However, there would likely be a rebellion and someone might discover what I had done.
I had to be more subtle. Mail order power, it was at my fingertips and I had the ultimate plan. I would embed a code word in his mind, maybe after cheese and biscuits and everytime I uttered that word the Prime Minister would be forced to do whatever I said. I just needed to maintain access with him. I could be very charming when I wanted to be and so I would find a way for him to keep in touch. Perhaps through my charity work, he could be our new sponsor, it would help his campaign.
The possibilities were endless, thanks to a few sticky tokens, a few golden flakes and my powerful mind.
Sunshine poured through the open window, encapsulating everything in her surroundings with a light golden glow. She rolled over, groaning as her eyes opened to the beautiful day. In the distance, she could see the city had already awoken.
'Matt,' she poked her husband harder than she intended, 'Matt, wake up.'
She knew . . . it was his day off but it was her morning to lie in. She also knew that at any moment her train of thought would be cut -
'Mommy!' the screams echoed through the house along with the gentle thud of four feet against the hardwood floors.
Matt rolled over, his eyes aglow with trickery. As far as the girls were aware their father was fast asleep and Mommy was the only adult capable of making them their favorite breakfast.
Little did Matt know, the joke was all on him. Other than the man lying in her bed, whose clothes hung in her closet, whose toothbrush sat by hers on the sink, Olive's beautiful daughters were the only people she would happily get out of bed for.
'Come on then you terrors, breakfast time! Mommy's gotta head to work at five.' she slipped on her robe as the tiny blonde angels began to jump up and down on the bed, waking their father who was too busy watching the woman he loved look her absolute best in the glimmering morning sunlight.
Olive Conrad was a young mum. A time-line of bizarre events and chilling coincidences led to the career criminal falling in love, starting a family and giving up the day job to become a full-time mom. Of course, those events would also lead to the events of that beautiful morning and the chance that changed her world.
Five years earlier, Olive stared blankly at the mess on the brand new flooring she'd just had fitted. Her office was a disaster site. She'd have rather had The Big One crumble the place to dust, at least then she could get the clean up on the insurance. Now she had to call in Ignacio to deal with the blood staining the wood.
'I can't believe this has happened again,' she lied. She knew it was going to happy again the moment Chapo walked through her door.
With his huge figure, square jaw and pristine suit, Chapo intimidated everyone in the office. Everyone except for Olive. Now, he stood staring at her with his dead eyes.
'Why do you bother bringing them in? I know who they are Chapo. I get it, I should ask your permission before I defend the lives of my employees from your stupid brother and his stupid, addicted, smackhead henchmen, right?' She spat, the venom filling the room with a haze of rage.
Chapo stood looking at his protege, wondering why it had to be a woman that made such an imprint on him. Why did it have to be a woman that could carry out the most brutal of acts? When men did this sort of thing he would laugh, he'd give them a bonus and send them on their way. When women did it, he suddenly became afraid. If the weaker sex can do unspeakable acts to the most dangerous men in the world, he worried that this women would one day do the same to him.
'We need to go south, we cant bury another body on American soil.' Chapo avoided Olive's eyeline as he circled the heap on the floor.
'And how do you expect four Latin American men to transport the body of a politician to Mexico without alerting any of the authorities? Every move we make is being watched.' Olive spoke slowly, knowing that Chapo would develop an insanely dangerous idea that would result in Olive ruining another pair of shoes.
She was right. Chapo began to pace as he thought, twisting his wedding ring like a nervous twitch.
'We can fly it there.' He said.
Olive jumped up and down on the spot, clapping her hands together and laughing.
'What's so funny?' Chapo asked, forever finding himself surprised by the reactions of his top employee.
'I bet myself you'd take ten minutes to come up with the most ridiculous, dangerous and downright retarded idea and I won, I get to buy myself a new handbag on your creditcard.' Olive's teeth glinted under the electric lights as she laughed.
And yet, the more she listened to Chapo's plan, the more she realised she might be able to get a new coat out of this business deal. You see, Chapo had just invested in an enormous property fifty kilometer out of Cancun. Though the home had already been built and furnished, the gates and electric fences hadn't been erected quite yet and there was a five kilometer-long straight road leading to the house. If they could acquire an aircraft, the road would be more than long enough, and the surrounding countryside empty enough to land the plane, dispose of the body and be home in time for Homeland without any passports being stamped.
'You find me a pilot, I am owed a favor and can get an aircraft by midnight. If it all goes well you can have one of lion pups. We'll pay him or her, obviously. Just ask them how much.' Chapo straightened his cufflinks as he spoke, preparing himself to leave the office.
Olive nodded, she knew a bar where most of the pilots in the city hung out. If she could get one of the transatlantic guys, she might get a few free flights out of the deal. Chapo left without saying goodbye, his trademark move, leaving Olive half-alone in her office.
'A lion pup though, I mean the extravagance of that man never fails to amaze me,' Olive said to Stephen. Stephen didn't reply because Stephen was about to be buried in the Mexican desert.
Later that evening, Olive walked into the bar on Sunset where all pilots drank free. Apparently the owner had a thing for air hostesses, which hit Olive's nose the moment she walked in. A sea of primary colours, thick lipstick and impeccable hair met her like a brick wall.
The bar was dark with music playing just loudly enough to muffle private conversations. At the bar, she found a seat and ordered a gin and tonic. The bar tender smiled a confusing grin.
'You're not a steward,' she smiled, 'and you don't look old enough to be a pilot.'
Olive smiled back. She's learned the hard way that even talking to bar tenders about what she was or was not, was a bad idea. Police always retrace your steps and Olive was a pro and silencing those steps before they could speak.
Then came that first coincidence.
Olive sipped her drink, taking in the room and it's occupants. Silver-haired men and women of every race lined the booth. There was not one other person in that room that was alone.
Then the London flight arrived.
He walked in tall, his uniform lightly crumpled from the ten hours he'd spent at 36,000 feet. Olive's jaw dislodged and hit the floor. It was fate.
'Matthew Lowe?' she asked, her accent suddenly reverting and startling the bar tender.
He looked around for a moment until he clocked her.
'Oh my God, Olive?' his eyes widened for a moment before excitement overcame him.
It had been at least five years since Matt had last seen Olive, their history dating back to their late teens where they'd met at university. There had been a connection from the off. Matt had felt it but held back, sensing the danger that lay behind Olive's enchanting exterior.
'You actually became a pilot?' There was no need for a catch up, that would come later.
Olive had forgotten about work. All that mattered to her was standing right in front of her. The moment Matt's gaze met hers, she was thrown back into her childhood. She was suddenly eighteen again and the world seemed so much bigger. In the last five years she'd moved to a new continent, started a successful business, moved her way up into the world of crime quickly and all too easily. She'd managed to make millions indulging her thirst for power whilst alienating her heritage and forgetting the love she once felt flowing through her veins.
'Of course I did,' Matt grinned as he sat next to her at the bar, the rest of his staff dispersing into the club, 'Did you become the environmental activist and political nightmare you always wanted to?'
Olive's blood ran cold. This wasn't the first time she'd bumped into someone from her past but Matt was harder to lie to. He knew Olive.
'I'm... actually I sold out. Got into big business. I make way too much money and I really do very little.' Olive laughed, knowing that he'd see straight through her like he'd always done.
'So why are you here? This bar really doesn't seem like your scene. I thought you'd be living it up in some mansion in the Hills?' He never stopped smiling, it was enchanting to Olive.
'I do have the mansion, just about to get new floors put it actually... again...' on the bar, Olive's phone began to violently vibrate as a call came in from El Chapo.
She didn't answer it. Matt looked at the called ID and back to Olive.
She didn't know for sure, but Olive could see in the way that Matt looked at her that he knew what she was, what she had become. He didn't say a word, he waited for her to say it.
'You wanna make a million dollars tonight? I can't offer you Euros, that would be extortionate.' She smiled as Matt's eyes widened.
Now, the second coincidence could be argued as just bad luck. You decide.
Chapo stood by the plane with Ignacio standing on his left and Kevin to his right.
'Boss, this is Matthew. He's going to be our pilot tonight.' Olive shook Chapo's hand and nodded to Ignacio.
In reply, Ignacio raised an eyebrow. Olive knew she was in trouble leaving the body for him to clean up but she would deal with that later.
'Hello Matthew, it's nice to meet you. Are you capable of flying a G6?' Chapo spoke slowly and clearly.
'Definitely. I've not flown one commercially before, is there any way I can get a recommendation after this so I can move out of flying the Atlantic route?' Matt asked, his innocent smile fading in the company.
Chapo laughed and indicated that Olive should explain. They boarded the flight and were into the air faster than Olive had expected.
Once they were cruising, Matt flicked the seat belt sign off. Ignacio instantly started smoking a cigar and Kevin began playing games on his phone.
Olive approached the cockpit and slowly opened the door.
'Hey, can I chat to you?' she asked as Matt turned around in surprise.
'I can't tell anyone I'm doing this, can I?' Matt asked.
'No,' Olive looked down, 'I'd probably have to kill you. It's fine though, you'd want me to do it over one of the other guys.'
'This aircraft belongs to the Governor.' Matt picked up a photograph of the state Governor with another man, who Olive assumed was the usual pilot.
Olive spent the next five hours explaining what was going on and that if Matt asked too many questions he'd end up dead. She also agreed to give him an extra million of her own savings because she'd lied to him.
In the end, Matt didn't take the money. It was his own fault, he argued. He'd agreed to do the job knowing full well that Olive wasn't in big business. He'd been keeping up-to-date with her social media feeds up until a year ago, where all trace of Olive was wiped from the internet. It was around the same time she'd been made Chapo's number two. The photographs of her with Latino businessmen, corrupt American politicians and celebrities disappeared and the horrors of her job became her primary function.
The awful part was that she knew how good she was at it. She'd fooled herself into thinking that Chapo and her colleagues were her family and any threat to them was worth her getting her hands dirty.
Now, she was stood in her beautiful kitchen with her two beautiful children as her beautiful husband slept through the morning. It hadn't been long after that first trip that Matt had been recruited. The job was easy and their love had evolved. It was only when Olive fell pregnant with the girls that Matt had insisted Chapo let her go back to logistics.
So when the LAPD asked the bar tender about a blonde woman with a fake American passport and even faker accent who had hired an English pilot to fly off-radar to Mexico to bury the body of respected Republican Stephen Horn, she told them that Olive and Matt had met there that night but it seemed unplanned. Stephen Horn was five points up when he disappeared, taking a huge lead over the current Governor.
It was also strange that the Governor's plane had to be refueled the next day and was paid for by one of the anonymous donor, despite it not leaving the airstrip. Then, the Governor's wife had done something stupid and reckless, landing Chapo in a federal cell.
If the time line been just a moment out of sync then Olive wouldn't have been the one with the Colt when Stephen began verbally abusing her and threatening her employees.
Had Chapo not filled the last of the foundations for his Bel Air home then Stephen would have been four feet in solid concrete instead of ten feet under a dusty lion cage.
If there had been a strong easterly wind, or a free runway so he wasn't circling for an hour, or any number of influencing factors then Matt might not have gone to the bar that night and Olive might not have been there.
All of the chances in a long, dangerous timeline flashed before Olive's eyes as sixteen heavily armed cartel-affiliated men surrounded her and her infant children in their home on that one beautiful morning.
Had one moment gone any differently then she'd be the one holding the gun.
A wicked smile curled the corner of her lips as her hands worked busily. She was a little lost in thought, remembering...he had that habit of brushing the hair from his eyes with a sweeping gesture that showed off the bulge of his biceps, a way of biting his pink lips and staring at her like she was something delicious . . . and awe inspiring. Her smile sagged, became pursed lips once more. She could not hate him.
It was the media. Pretty, airbrushed, doll-eyed little girls with rosy cheeks and shining flawless skin - this was what all women were meant to look like. She had pitied older women, mocked them even. Their loss of 'beauty' was a failure on their part, a source of her own triumph over them. But time, time made fools of us all. Her hands had become frantic, folding and refolding the slippery material. He had called her all the things she believed she would never become 'hag,' 'witch' and the simplest yet worst truth ever, 'old'. But no, she did not hate him. She loved him with a longing ache that would not subside. It was not his fault or at least not his fault alone. She was culpable. All of the beauty and youth obsessed society was to blame.
None could escape time...or at least never before. A wrinkle here and a wrinkle there, a wrinkle in the fabric of time in just the right place was all she needed. He had no idea how close to the mark he had been in calling her 'witch'. It was against all the rules of the coven - and time and space for that matter - but the aching for her head rested gently on his chest listening to his beautiful heart beating alongside her own was just too desperate.
Her fingers pinched the fabric just so and she began to whisper the magic words that would change time forever and end her pain. And then she stopped, time would continue. It was relentless and she could not stop it...
Somewhere, I am running. Running, running, running.
My feet pound relentlessly against the earth. Everything is sped up, life in fast forward. My heart pulses hard in my chest, my head, my throat, my fingers. My feet tread bare against the rough ground, their soles numb and bloodied. The world races past me, eyes and . . . ears. My is breathing loud and rapid in my lungs, the only sound that seems to fill the night air besides the drum of my feet, and the sickening sound of the heavy boots that pursue us. Running, running, running. I stumble, my breath caught up in a gasp, my arms stretched out in front of me in a primal attempt to shield myself from the approaching black pavestones, burying my face into the crooks of my arms. With no sound, it seems, I slide along the cobbled street, skinning my left forearm and both of my knees, grimacing as the skin peels back.
Her hand thrusts into my line of sight from nowhere, her voice is shouting but I can only make out an unintelligible blob of sound, fuzzing and meaningless. I look up at her, facing those who run behind me, and she pulls me upright. At the touch of her hand, the world begins to slow. First, and briefly, we are in real time, and then we are slow, moving through treacle, until every second lasts forever. And that is when I realise what is going to happen. In this infinite moment, she is beautiful, glorious as I look upon her face. Her hair, black as coal, is curled neatly around her neck, its velvet ribbon hangs slightly dislodged and caresses her white skin as she turns away from me. This instant hangs suspended from all others; her hand in mine is soft and small and clings to me, anchoring it there. Her wrist protrudes just slightly from the cuff of her woollen coat with its velvet trim. As she runs, its pleated back panel expands and contracts as if in breath, the buttons just above it glinting in the light of the streetlamps, a flash of brightness, twinkling, like stars caught on the small of her back.
Running, running, running. Her grip on my hand slackens as we reach a tall brick wall. To us it is a huge towering black spectre in the night. Somewhere, a clock is ticking, a phone is ringing, someone is putting their children to bed, and I am running. She faces me, and I see her lips moving but I cannot hear the words but still I understand. She crouches; her white dress with its frothy lining leaves barely an inch now comes barely an inch from the top of the creamy white sock which shortly disappears into her mud flecked boots. She makes a cup with her hands and I step onto it. I reach up. I hear her sound of protest as she stands and I’m lifted but not enough to reach, my fingers left groping uselessly just a few inches from the top of the wall. With one huge heave and a thrust of my leg I’m there and I’ve caught it and I pull myself up, the raw flesh down my arm screaming in protest against the bricks and the weight of me. I scramble and I’m up; I feel my foot just clip the top of her forehead.
Steadied now, I turn; I reach down to her, my fingers splayed. She looks up; reaching desperately for my fingers. I can hear the boots; the echo around us. She glimpses them over her shoulder but I won’t follow her gaze. She looks back to me in panic, reaching again and this time she finds my finger-tips, but my grip is slick and she can’t hold it. She screams and sound comes running back to me from some place other than her body, which still I am reaching for. The boots rattle my ribcage and I spin so I’m reaching down and my legs hang over the other side of the wall and she grabs on, her hand around my wrist. I pull, and I hear her shoes against the bricks, so I pull harder. She’s calling me, yelling my name. I try to pull harder. The world stands still. I’m back in that moment again, where she first took my hand, but I know her hand’s gone, and she’s falling. It’s all I can think, though I’m falling too, and I hit the ground a heartbeat after she does.
I call her name over and over; crying; trying to climb; falling; cutting my hands; knocking my nails back. I am clawing the wall, screaming her name because that's all I've got and that's all she’s become. She is just a name unanswered on the other side of the wall and I am just a tiny girl who can never get to her. Somewhere a baby is born, somewhere lovers meet, somewhere a grandfather clock is ticking in the hall of our quiet house without us, and somewhere I am broken on the ground.
I ducked into the bushes nearby, and crawled along the cold earth beneath them. I can still feel the cold earth on my hands, how it stung on my cuts, and how thorns snagged my shoulder, and tore my jacket, leaving me shivering on the frosty grass when I finally emerged. I was doused in cold sweat, and my limbs trembled in the icy wind. I knew I had nowhere to go, and went back to the bushes, where I hid. Time hung still around me as I lay there. I could feel those moments, where she grabbed me and she fell, all happening at once, all instances somewhere, played on loop for eternity as I lay waiting on the ground for something to happen. When a hand founds my sleeve and dragged me out into the open, I called out her name, and I didn’t fight. My pursuers looked down at me, and I didn’t feel the knives of their words in the cold. I looked around, but I couldn’t see her. I still cry for her every night.
At night when I lay packed against others, I imagined her, alone, and afraid, like I was. After I was liberated, I still clung to this idea that I would find her, somewhere, and I wouldn’t be alone any more. One morning, I woke, and I cried, and I realised that I had always known that she was dead. If I had admitted it to myself before, though, it would have killed me. I am not sure I would have minded.
Somewhere, though, I am still running, in those moments that were worlds, instants that were universes that unfolded into others. Seconds bleed into minutes bleed into days; it’s all just another place. It’s happening now. I know because when I close my eyes, I see her face, that wall, those men. I know because I still feel that those cuts on my palms, and that fear in my heart, and I always will. I know this, because that way, she will be alive always, just somewhere I can't see. She is not past tense; she exists in between seconds, in the ticking off the clock, in everywhen.
If only the world would stop turning. If only time played no role. I just want one good shot, the right pout, the right seductive glint in my eyes. I need this. I need this because if I can grab, capture, portray this beautiful moment in time with me, the ever illustrious me as the foreground feature I'll top the . . . Likes and Comments list for years to come. Share, share and share people! Share it until you fingers go numb!
If only this damn creature would just sit still. So cute, so furry. Perhaps I should entice it. Entice it with soothing words. Make it feel safe, calm, at one with me and my smartphone. I just need it to play ball. I'll be so the talk of school if it does. All that "you only ever post pics of you in front of the mirror crap" would be long forgotten. I wonder if I should quickly change my top. Oh perhaps I should. It doesn't really go with my lipstick.
Tanya pondered a swift wardrobe change, a spritely makeover. She contemplated starting over but the her phone was an extension of her now, the reverse camera function her portable sense of self worth. It didn't matter if the Heavens were to open. She'd stay put, wait out the storm, the drenching. If only the bear a few dozen feet away could guarantee the same devotion and commitment to the perfect Selfie. The selfie to end all selfies.
Where has he gone?
Tanya half swivelled reluctantly away from her pixelated image trying to spot her big fluffy friend. No sign, no hope. She checked herself fully again in her camera's eye. The perfect pout, that seductive glint, the greatest surprise attack. Luckily she had it set to speed burst. I hope that phone stay intact.
I met Queen Nefertiti on Thursday afternoon in H&M on 34th street. Her outfit was to die for and her skin glowed like she had been mummified for no more than a week, ok, ok.. a month maybe?
At first I was really stalkerish about it, I followed her to the the third floor "basics" section, then I watched her decide . . . between a gold knit sweater and a silver. I was rooting for silver, she went with gold. After hiding behind a rack of crop tops for 15 minutes I decided that it was time to man up, or woman up.. or whatever basically, I decided to say hello.
I smoothed out my wrinkled white top and adjusted my feet in my too tight heels to make myself look natural and comfortable. Why the heck did I decide to wear heels on a random Wednesday? Who freakin knows! At least she will think that I am like cool, and stylish and stuff.
"Hey Ms. .... um Queen Nefertiti"
She adjusted the silver top on her left arm and gracefully turned to look at me. It was a little too graceful.. like she practiced it for a week at Julliard. At closer look, I could see that the glow of her skin wasn't coming from the natural effects of skin preserving mummification, it was definitely that Mac bronzer for dark skin tones. Damn!
"Why hello" She replied.
Her breath hit me like a pile of bricks. Nobody mentioned that the most beautiful woman of all time suffered from severe halitosis.
"Are you one of my loving fans?" she asked
"Um, yea... I guess" I needed to end this conversation fast if I wanted to save my sense of smell.
" Well I'm so happy to meet you" the queen stated "Would you like a picture?
I wanted to ask her how she became known as the most beautiful woman, how she truly lived and died, how it was being a real queen. I looked her up and down and everything that I once found mystical and appealing was just ... human.
"Sure" I replied .. "lets take one for Instagram, I want my friends to see I met the most beautiful woman of all time."
Mine is just the opposite. I am 67, EYE Doctor and still working because I still love what I do.
As someone wise said,"if you love your job : you will never work a day in your life."
I was a diver in the Bond film Thunderball and still dive to this day. Planning a big bucket list trip in November to Australia, New . . . Zealand, and the South Pacific. Do some work and a lot of vacations, while you are still healthy. The age thing will eventually get us all.FOR NOW, NOT ME. I will be a 007 guy for as long as I live. If offered a dive job with EON, I would jump at it today. Maybe James needs a trusty sidekick to watch his 6 in a dangerous who is a total pro with some snow on the head.
People usually are afraid of me, Doctor. I don't understand why.