Goodbyes.

I love writing short stories which capture single moments; instances which are often overlooked. This is one such short piece inspired by the accompanying painting, observation and my own experience of leaving.


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Goodbyes are strange things, often they are the closing of a book before the end, before the story is finished, leaving so much unsaid and undone.

Forever a moment tinged with sadness for what may have been, whilst lingering expectation of future calls from beyond the now.

Enhanced for me by the hissing of steam locomotives and the rattle of passing railway carriages. I find the very intrinsic transient nature of the station heightens the poignancy. You see today I go to my future; a place where hesitant anxiety skulks in the shadows of trepidation.

Stepping from the platform onto the train is confirmation of my intent, yet my heart is heavy with sadness. The weighty clunk of the door signals finality. The solid steel and wood closing off possibility of concede.

Leaning from the open window I look into her eyes.  Deep brown pools glistening with wetness, teardrops not yet formed. My heart flutters in the presence of her beauty, as it always does.

Leaving her is my greatest regret. Pale skin, gentle, soft. Hair that cascades over her shoulders, which lays upon the morning pillow, a delta, a million threads sparkling in rising suns light. Oh, how I shall miss her warmth, her scent, her childish laughter and her smile.

I reach forward as she steps closer. Wrapping my arms about her slenderness I pull her to me, hold her close. Comfort, comradeship, love.

She lifts her face, powder and rouge, lipstick and Coco Chanel. Pouting she reaches to me. My lips taste hers, sweet, soft, eager. I can feel her skin through the light cotton of her dress. My body floods with desire, with passion. Yet overall the sadness of parting drapes around my soul, a black cloak of earnest despondency.

One moment. One solitary final moment. It is all I have left.

The shrill shriek of the stationmaster’s whistle pierces the air cutting lose the threads of safe harbour. Our lips part, my hands slip unwillingly from her body. The train moves, a grunt, a hiss of steam, another whistle.

My destiny awaits.

I stand looking back. One hand raised, a forlorn attempt to wave. She smiles back, gesturing in return. Small rivers, silver tears run down her cheeks. Too soon she is gone from sight. I fight to retain her image freshly in my mind. That last look. Sad inevitability painted upon her perfect face, the tears which enhanced her beauty. I want, need to capture that, burn it into my memory, etch it there for eternity.

Sitting back I keep my eyes closed, not wanting her light to escape. The faint odour of Coco Channel prevails, the waxy smudge of lipstick. Her laughter is conjured within my mind, giggles, childlike, almost a squeal.

I wonder if I shall ever set eyes upon her again.

Who knows the future, who knows what destiny holds in store?

Not I.

Goodbyes are strange things, often they are the closing of a book before the end, before the story is finished, leaving so much unsaid and undone.

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   © Paul White 2015

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The Fifth Chapter

I have to say, this is one of my favourite short pieces. It was so much fun writing and I am sure, at some point in the future, Marylin and Gordon may just make another appearance.


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I was sitting at my desk, reading over my first draft, again. I am calling it my first draft, but in reality, it is just a pile of notes and rough plot guides put into chronological order, (sort of), with a few added scribbles here and there.

In fact, the whole thing is a bit of a mess. But hey, you have to start somewhere.

Even as rough and messy as this draft was I could still see promise in its outline. The places I used in the story were mostly real places, like my office; only instead of being in the rear of my house, the fictional office was on the second floor of a run-down building in the centre of the city and it was not ‘my’ office in this story, but Gordon’s.

Gordon is a private eye, one of the old ‘gumshoe’ tradition.Marilyn_Red_SamShaw_t800

I was happy with the other characters too, particularly Marilyn the demure blond bombshell. (Think Marylin Monroe. Okay, not so original but perfect for my story.)

Only Marilyn had an ulterior motive in seeking Gordon’s help; there was something from her past, something hidden, something bad which was now creeping up on her. I was not sure what it was yet but it was there, smouldering under the surface, as was Marilyn’s sensuality.

I know this format, the gorgeous (blond) girl, the private detective, who was down on his luck as far as the whiskey was down the in the bottle, add a hint of foreboding and sex… it was nothing new. It was a tried and tested structure of many books. Yet, as I re-read my draft I knew I have something special here. This was a nineteen fifties style novel, a pulp fiction, stiletto-esque paperback being brought up to date, dragged kicking and screaming into the modern world. (at least, I hope that is how it will turn out.)

I knew it was not going to be any ordinary story because, even to me, the writer, the creator of this fantasy, there was an element of surreal fact, a touching, almost tangible reality to this tale.

manuscript_250pxBy the time I re-read through the manuscript as far as chapter five, making margin notes and a few changes along the way, my eyes were weary and my mouth parched. It was time for a break, a cigarette and a coffee. I would dearly have loved a double Scotch too, but it was way too early for that.

 

I leant back in my chair, stretched my back, listening to those small creaks and cracks as bones and tendons moved for the first time in hours. I pressed save. There was no way I was trusting all my work to auto-save, not again. I closed the file and picked up the ceramic mug, which my daughter bought me for Father’s Day and walked out of the office.

My mind was still racing with thoughts of the story, what steps Marylin should take next and would Gordon listen seriously? So, it took me three, maybe four steps before I realised something strange was happening. I stopped, blinked twice, looked left and then right, rubbed my eyes and looked again.

I was no longer in my home. I was not in even in my house.

I was in that run-down office building in the city, on the second floor, outside the gumshoes office, the very office, the very building I created in my mind while writing my book.

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This was impossible. I must be sleeping. I must have fallen asleep at my desk and this was all in my dream.

I pinched myself. It hurt. I was not sleeping.

‘Where’s Gordon?’ Her husky voice drifted along the dimly lit corridor. I knew without looking, without turning around it was Marilyn.

Her voice was exactly how I imagined it would be.

The click-click of stiletto heels echoed as she came closer, each step sending a shiver of expectation and bemused wonderment down my spine.

I turned around to face her.

‘What have you done with Gordon?’ she asked.

‘Nothing,’ I said, shaking my head.

I could not believe I was talking to a figment of my imagination.

‘You’ve deleted most of him, you’ve deleted those paragraphs.’ Marilyn, I noticed was shorter than I envisaged her to be. I would have to do something about that.

‘I haven’t deleted them, I have saved them, I need to re-work them,’ I spoke defensively.

Here I was in some sort of netherworld, talking about the book I am writing, a work in process, with a fictional character who, as of this moment only existed within my mind.

Yet, it all seemed so real.

I could smell Marilyn’s scent. It was Coco Channel, No 5.

Marilyn slid a long, thin pink cocktail cigarette from a gold case, placed it between her bright red lips and lifted her head towards my own. Automatically, I reached into the pocket of my jacket and took out my cigarette lighter. I always use a disposable lighter, because I am constantly losing them, but here, in this twilight world, I acquired a heavy gold, Du Maurier.

 

Unperturbed, I held it towards Marilyn, watching the flames light as it reflected in the 5d14058f7c3dc37d0567cc7fc6eeff27deep blue pools of her eyes. Marilyn closed those bright red lips around the gold covered filter and drew in deeply until the tip of her pink Sobranie was glowing red.

She managed to turn this simple act into one of sexual suggestion, of illicit promise, a hint of a secret shared.

‘Thank you,’ she sighed, blowing out a perfect ring of blue smoke that meandered lazily upwards, spiralling towards the glass orbs of the industrial lighting suspended from the vaulted ceiling.

‘I’m making some coffee,’ I said, holding up my mug as if to justify the statement. My own cheap ceramic mug had disappeared. It had been replaced by a brown glazed cup.

I was not disturbed, but rather fascinated by the fact.

Marilyn smiled. I could not help but notice the way her head tilted to the right as she did. I found it quite endearing. It was something I would have to write into her character.

‘I’ll wait inside,’ she said and clicked her way along the hall towards the office door.

I had never been here before, never imagined this part of the building, yet somehow I knew the coffee was made in a small room further along this corridor. The doorway would be on my right. A small plaque would be etched with the legend ‘still room.’

It was.

When I returned to my (Gordon’s) office, Marilyn was sitting on my (Gordon’s) chair behind the desk. I sat on one of the two chairs facing the desk. (one of two chairs I do not have.) As I placed the coffee cups on the table I noticed my laptop was now an old, clunky looking Imperial Typewriter. Chrome metal, black keys inlaid with discoloured ivory coloured letters. I said an inwardly silent prayer to the gods of digital storage; when (and if), I ever returned to the ‘real’ world, I asked that all my work would still exist.

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Marilyn tossed a pile of papers towards me. Dark blue carbon paper slipping from between sheets of typewritten foolscap.

‘That will never work,’ she said dismissively, waving one hand in the air.

I picked up the sheets of typewritten copy. This was my story, Marilyn’s story, Gordon’s story. These papers were sections of the manuscript of my book.

‘What do you mean, this is brilliant.’

‘Oh please, Paul,’ Marilyn walked around the desk, placed a hand on the back of my neck and lent forward. I could feel the silky talcum powder softness of her cheek, pressing against mine as she rested her chin on my shoulder.

‘Look,’ said Marilyn, running a long ruby painted fingernail along the lines of text, ‘That’s far too modern to be taken seriously, what on earth were you thinking?’

Slowly and deliberately Marilyn read my story out aloud. It was strange hearing her voice, the smoky, sexy, husky voice which I created, reading out my story line by line.

I had to hand it to her, like many writers I convinced myself I was writing a masterpiece. I was so wrapped up, so involved in my work I failed to see the flaws, failed to step back and read it for what it was, a piece of work which not only needed a lot of heavy editing but needed an entire overhaul, to be re-worked altogether.

When Marilyn got to the fifth chapter, I had had enough.

I held up my hands in surrender.

Marilyn casually tossed the manuscript back onto the desk, the sheets of paper sliding into disarray.

Turning my head, I looked at her. ‘You are right, I have a lot of work to do to get this right.’ I admitted.

‘Yes, you have, but I know you can do it.’ Marilyn placed one hand on the side of my head, turning it towards her, she kissed me. It was a sweet taste of smoked honey, smeared with a waxiness of deep red lipstick and scented with face powder.

‘You must do it,’ she said, ‘If not, both Gordon and I shall die.’

It was a point, like so many, I had not considered.

‘I must go now. I must let you concentrate,’ Marilyn winked at me and click-clicked out of the office.

Looking back at me over her shoulder she said, ‘Please, don’t let us down. I don’t want to die yet, not yet, not when I have never fully lived.’

I listened to the sound of her stiletto’s fading away into the distance as she walked the length of the corridor.

Placing my hands over my eyes, I let my forehead rest on the desk while I tried to assimilate what was occurring. How in the name of all possibility have I wandered into my own fictional world?

My next recollection is the knocking on the office door. Looking up I rather tetchily shouted ‘Yes, yes, come in’.

My wife entered with a freshly brewed mug of coffee. 4410471775_4ca51b8c0e

‘You have been in here for so long, I thought you would need a drink by now’ she said, looking at me quizzically.

Placing my own cheap ceramic mug, full of steaming coffee on the table, I watched as she collected the two brown nineteen fifties style cups from my desk.

I looked around, my office was as it should be. It was back to normal, my laptop sat in the centre of my desk, notepads, pens and my mobile phone lay where they belonged. I must have nodded off after all. It must have been a dream, but the brown cups my wife had just collected… maybe we had them all along?

I walked to the door and opened it, cautiously peering out, both left and right, before daring to set foot outside. Thank goodness, I was still at home and not in some imaginary corridor. I headed for the bathroom, where I ran a bowl of hot water, ready to wash the tiredness from my face.

In the mirror, I saw the face powder on the shoulder of my jacket where Marilyn had rested her chin. There was also a smudge of bright red lipstick on my left cheek. I could also detect the lingering scent of Coco Channel, No 5.

chanelno5THE END

© Paul White 2018

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I hope you enjoyed that short tale? If so why not check out my longer short stories, my ‘Novelettes’ at Electric Eclectic books HERE 

You will find plenty of captivating stories to choose from myself and my fellow Electric Eclectic authors.

Go take a peek, now 🙂

Paul.

 

 

A Preserve of Love

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 Today I made jam.

 Blackberry jam with the fruits from my garden, the final harvest of the year.

These Blackberries are plump and juicy. They have such an intense flavour and sweetness which comes from the fact they are actually wild Brambles I have tended, with love and affection, during the past three years.

I have ensured these Blackberries have a rich soil, a solid foundation in which to sink their roots. I have fed and watered them whenever they needed attention.

I cared for each leaf, gently dusting off the debris which fell upon them as caringly as I untwisted the mess and tangles they got themselves into.

I marvelled at the beauty of their flowers, the bright centres, the white petals and the sweet scent.

When the fruits began to form, I admired nature’s magic and when they ripened, I plucked each one with respect and appreciation, leaving a few behind for the birds and wildlife so they too could share in nature’s wonderful bounty.               

In fact, I showered these berries with love and affection, tenderness and understanding. I tried to balance their wildness and waywardness with thoughtful, considerate support. There was little I would not do to ensure these Blackberries were as happy and contented as can possibly be.

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As I stood in my kitchen preparing the jam I thought of you.

How I gave you a place to live, a home, somewhere you could put down roots of your own. How I provided food when you were hungry and drink when thirsty.

The many times I picked you up and dusted you down, brushing off lives injustices and torments. How I untangled you from those situations and incidents you got yourself into.

I marvelled at your beauty, your bright eyes, the porcelain glow of your skin and your sweet scent.

My love for you fruited, like a mystical magic. When we made love, it was with respect and appreciation, leaving little to the imagination. We shared each other, nature’s wonderful bounty.

I showered you with love and affection, tenderness and understanding. I tried to balance your reckless foolishness and rowdy craziness with sensitive, considerate support. There was little I would not do to keep you as happy and contented as I could.

I always knew you were a wild child, a free spirit seeking something, seeking yourself, seeking the unobtainable. Whatever you needed I knew it was something more than I could offer.

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So now, as I pour the last of the Blackberry jam into the jars, I am smiling to myself. Smiling because each time I look at one of these pots it shall remind me of you.

During the bleak winter nights as I sit by the fire, eating a simple snack of jam on toast, the summer sweetness of the berries shall bring forth such fond memories of you I shall weep with sad contentment.

On crisp cold snow-covered mornings, the flavour will remind me to look up to the sky and send you a pray of love and well wishes for your safety and happiness.

A prayer to let you know I love you still and so I shall forevermore.

Today I made a preserve of love.

 

© Paul White 2014 

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Visit my website at https://paulznewpostbox.wixsite.com/paul-white

Andromeda’s tears

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My yacht, Cetus, gently rises and falls with the sea swell. It is a motion I find comforting, a feeling further enhanced by the occasional sound of muted splashes as the sea laps against the hull.

The sun is low, an orange globe, slowly sinking towards the far horizon; the one we crossed earlier in the day, when the sun was at its zenith.

It was hot then. Oppressively hot.

The raw heat sucked the moisture from our skin, from our mouths, from our lungs, like a vampire drains the blood from its victims. Leaving nothing but shrivelled carcasses of dried parchment in its wake.

Now, I sit on the quarter deck. A flame from the spout of a small Aladdin style genie lamp flickers in the faint breeze; its feeble light still reflects and refracts from the etched glasses and the silver of the pot, from which Cassiopeia is serving sweet Moroccan mint tea.

Casablanca is lost to us, far behind in the darkness, beyond that far horizon. Ahead, barely visible in the dwindling light, is another. One we shall sail over in the morrow, as we make headway for the island of Seriphos.

Upon whose shores Andromeda awaits for our arrival.

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Phineas, has let his mouth become quarrelsome with his head once more. The promise of marriage fades, tears run down Andromeda’s cheeks.

Cassiopeia demanded we make this passage, before Poseidon becomes enraged with Andromeda’s words and lets loose the wrath of his jealousy upon the innocence of the young girl.

Which is what brings us here, to the centre of the sea as the night falls.

The sun, I am sure will hiss and splutter as it dips itself into the dark waters of the Mediterranean. Perhaps not, but that is how it seems from my vantage point on this deck.

The mint tea is refreshing, revitalising. It replenishes that which the sun has drained from my body and Sucked from my skin and eyes.

I lean back, the night air is still and warm. It hangs almost immobile, just brushed by the lightest of night breezes. The silence it brings forms an accompanying peace.

All is well with my world, for this moment.

Cassiopeia settles into the seat next to me, she rests her head against my shoulder.

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“Will we make landfall tomorrow, Cepheus?” she asks.

“If the winds be to our favour” I reply.

“Then I shall dry Andromedas tears” she says, kissing my neck gently.

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Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned

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The following story was inspired by this image. 


He watched as she trotted backwards and forwards and all around the house. Naked, except for her shoes and the small gold pendant dangling between her breasts.

Those stupid four-inch stiletto heels, tapping an irritating Morse code each time she passed him by and, this was even more annoying, leaving dimples in the linoleum and the parquet flooring.

She knew he disliked her flitting about wearing nothing but those ridiculously expensive Christian Louboutin. Which is why she was wearing them now.

It was her way of saying, ‘Fuck you’.

Her way of saying, ‘I’ll do what I want when I want’.

He gritted his teeth. It was not worth attempting to speak with her, especially when she was in this mood.

She stood a few feet in front of him, eyes fixed on his, challenging him.

He stared back, trying not to show any emotion on his face. ‘Let her think what she will’, he thought.

A flick of her head sent the mane of golden blond hair from her face, over her shoulder. She tipped the small bottle of perfume, letting a droplet onto her fingertip. Slowly, seductively she dotted the scent behind her ears. Another finger full ran from under her chin, down her throat and between her breast.

She never took her eyes from his. The next trail of perfume was teasingly spread along the crease where her legs joined her torso, her fingers dabbing the scent in a line alongside her smooth, freshly waxed virginal mound.

Two more dots. One behind each kneecap completed her task. She walked closer, smiling. Not a happy smile, not a loving smile, just a smarmy grin.

“Jimmy likes this one,” she said, sniffing her wrist, breathing in the aroma of the perfume. “He says it compliments my own smell, especially when I get… hot”. Again, the sickly smile spread across her face. “Oh, I forgot to say, Jimmy is coming here this time. You’ll get a chance to see him after all”.

With that, she turned and sauntered out of the room. Not looking back Not even an over-the-shoulder glance.

He was sickened by the way she treated him. Yet what could he do? This was her revenge, her punishing him for all his misdemeanours and lies and dalliances of the past.

Some might say he was lucky she did not kill him when it all came to light. But he knew this was a fate worse than death. Something few believe possible.

He clung to one hope; this situation could not go on for much longer. He was sure she would become bored by the whole thing pretty soon. Nothing and no one held her attention for long, not even him and that was then, let alone how they were now.

This had lasted much longer than it should have. To continue would be, at the least, inhumane. Although he knew that fact would not bother her. Boredom was his only hope, the only true conclusion he could wish for.

Two hours of hearing glasses tinkle with ice, soft music and constant chatter, followed by giggles and laughter. He wished he could move away, out of earshot. Even with his eyes closed, he could not sleep.

It was the noise, the music, their voices. Mostly it was the expectation. The images of imagination playing in his mind which prevented sleep.

Not much would be left to his imagination now the door to the lounge was opened. Their voices becoming louder.

“No, no.” He heard her say. “In here.”

The door, which was ajar, swung open and they came staggering in. Glasses of red wine in their hands.

They should not be in here, in his study, his private sanctuary, especially drunk and with red wine. He knew there would be spillages. The bitch.

She plonked herself down on the large leather footstool. He noticed her steal a surreptitious look at him, a flashing, covert glance.

“I want you, now,” She said to the young man kneeling beside her.

“Here?” He asked.

“Right here, right now.”

“I need to… um …go…first,” Jimmy said, leaving the room.

She stood and walked over to him, bending slightly so her head was level with his.

“You can watch this. You had better watch this. If I see your eyes closed, even once, I’ll cut your fucking eyelids off.”

The young man came back into the room. “who are you talking too?”

“No one, silly. I was singing,” she said. “Now, this is for you” She deftly unzipped the back of her frock and let it slither to the ground.

Underneath she was totally naked, except for her four-inch heeled Christian Louboutin, which she crossed over the young man’s back, pulling him closer and the small gold pendant nestled between her breasts.

He watched her, watching him. Besides closing his eyes and risking his eyelids, he had no choice. After all, his head was not joined to anything. It was not as if he could move it.

She gasped. Fingernails digging into Jimmy’s back, white teeth biting down, teeth sinking into the flesh of the young man’s shoulder. Yet, only for one small insignificant moment, as her body jerked with pleasure, did she glance away, did her own eyes close for a moment.

Laying these few feet in front of him, her eyes fixed on his, she was challenging him.

It was her way of saying ‘Fuck you’.

Her way of saying, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”.

 

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© Paul White 2017