Running on Empty – Speakeasy #176

Everything hurt. Even her eyelids, which was ridiculous, and yet she couldn’t open them.

A movement to her left made her flinch and curse instantaneously when every cell in her body screamed in protest. She pulled on the last of her reserves to protect herself. Her hair whipped out, snaking around the hand which hovered above her.

“What is it with you and the hair?” She heard a familiar voice mutter.

“Zachariah,” she said, frowning. Why can’t I sense you?

“Hag,” he responded.

Would it kill you to use my real name? “If I had the strength, I’d punch you,” she murmured, squeezing his wrist with the silken binds.

“That bad, huh?” He flexed his hand until she let go.

Her hair slithered back and shrank against her side. “Just give me a minute and I’ll be as good as new.”

He laughed, and she wanted to punch him again. “Take your time. I took care of the ones you couldn’t handle.”

That did it. Her eyes snapped open and the world hit her with a punch of light and colour. She glared across at Zachariah and groaned when he grinned back, showing teeth.

“You did that on purpose,” she accused, narrowing her eyes.

“Someone had to snap you out of it. You can’t lie here, feeling sorry for yourself.”

You’re going to pay for that. “A giant-sized version of Metal Mickey just made me his bitch,” she said slowly, because each word hurt. “I’m surprised he didn’t snap me in half, so forgive me if I need to regroup.”

Their latest battle with the Fractured had claimed more than a dozen lives. They had used magic to power monsters made of metal and the enemy had proved a considerable challenge.

Zachariah’s face pinched in disgust. “It’s like cheating,” he said, looking across the field towards the mountain of metal littered across the clearing. “Using man-made constructs against us.”

What the hell is that noise? The rumbling in her throat was akin to a disused engine trying to ignite the cold in its bones. Not what her laughter usually sounded like. Maybe that’s what she was now, she thought sourly, broken.

“We got a live one here,” somebody called from inside the metal mountain. She recognised the voice, she just couldn’t place it. Her lids were heavy and stubbornly refused to bend to her will. They slammed shut, sealing her in darkness.

“I need to carry you over to Elliot,” Sebastian said.

That’s it…Elliot! “Glad he made it,” she croaked. He was the newest member of the team. A changeling with a chip on his shoulder. She’d liked him on sight.

“This is going to hurt.” Sebastian again. “Try not to pass out or it won’t work.”

Hurt didn’t even cover it. The moment Zachariah lifted her from the ground she was drawn into a world of pain. It wanted to pull her down into a comforting void where she would feel nothing but a quiet, blissful peace.

“No checking out on me,” Zachariah whispered.

She managed to grunt, letting her mind wander. A scan of the damage to her body told her it was worse than she thought; a dislocated shoulder, three cracked ribs, several broken bones and internal bleeding. The only thing keeping her alive was magic and she was almost out.

“I will not die at the hands of a tin can,” she ground out. The sound of her voice frightened her, it was weak and breathy. The sound of a drowning woman.

“That tin can might save your life,” Zachariah answered.

She puzzled over that a moment, until darkness engulfed her once more. The cold, hard ground came up to meet her as Zachariah lowered her down again.

“You still with me?” he asked, touching her cheek. “Think you can access Mickey’s juice?”

“Hook me up,” she croaked.

Zachariah’s laughter brushed over her skin. “Anyone particular you had in mind?”

Sorry, my funny bone doesn’t seem to be working. “Hilarious.”

After a long, uncomfortable silence she began to chant softly, calling on the last of her magic to make the connection. If it didn’t work she would die here in the dirt.

She felt the slow unwinding of her hair as it moved with snake-like elegance, seeking the energy source. The stark silence was replaced with a gentle hum. It was followed by a punch of magic so strong and dark it knocked her out cold.

***

Thanks for reading.

Mel

Advertisements

Hidden – Speakeasy entry #160

excavator-300x200‘Tell me if you’re game’ – such a simple request, and yet powerful when written as a taunt by your best friend.

Johnson is, quite frankly, the thorn in my side. He lives to challenge me, and sometimes I wonder why I go along with it. If he wasn’t my only friend, maybe I’d say no once in a while.

This time he wanted me to sneak onto the building site behind our school and hide the team mascot. All because our nemesis, Scott Duncan, had taken his latest prank a step too far and Johnson wanted retribution.

‘Game on’ I text back and crept out of the house through my bedroom window.

I knew Johnson would be pacing in front of the football field by now. He lived right next door to the school and patience wasn’t in his vocabulary.

We’d earned quite a reputation for ourselves, and though far from a famous duo, we did have something in common with the comedy greats – Johnson was always falling into catastrophe and dragging me with him.

‘What took you so long?’ he grumbled, stepping into my path.

I had to swallow the laugh that bubbled in my chest when I spotted him in full camouflage. It was just like him to dramatise the event.

‘I’m here, aren’t I?’

He didn’t say anything to that so we walked for a while in silence. It didn’t take us long to get to the site.

‘It looks harmless enough,’ I muttered, and it did. The equipment surrounding us was well-maintained, materials were stored safely. Better still, there were no cameras to catch us in the act.

In fact, there was no indication of the danger lurking beneath us, that a poisonous gas was seeping through the earth, and penetrating our system. We were breathing it in, oblivious to the effects, because all we could smell was the cool damp earth below us.

‘Did you find out why they stopped construction?’ I asked him, feeling uneasy for the first time.

‘Sometime about a hidden danger.’ He chuckled. ‘The only thing that will be hidden around here is the mascot.’

I glanced in his direction as he dumped his rucksack on the floor. A cloud of dust shot up into his face making him gag.

‘What the hell?’ he choked, rubbing his eyes.

I turned in a full circle, trying to get a better look at the environment; sensing that all was not as it seemed.

I’d barely made it back round before the dizziness hit. It was intense, made me worry I might puke my supper into the dirt.

It was worse for Johnson. He was on his knees now, groaning and clutching his head.

‘We need to get out of here,’ I said, and then stared in stupefied horror as Johnson’s body crumbled to the ground.

‘Okay, you’ve had your fun. Let’s get the hell out of here, man.’

When he didn’t answer I crouched beside him and gave him a little shake. He moaned in protest and it was a weak, pain-filled moan.

‘Shit,’ I muttered, as the panic crept up my spine. What the hell was happening?

My head was pounding by now and I squeezed my eyes shut in defence; they felt like they were bleeding.

I tried to think, tried to ignore the horrific realisation that it wasn’t blood running down my face, but tears. I don’t know which was worse. All I knew was that something was very wrong.

As the hard ground came up to meet me I wished for the safe comfort of my room. I wanted to be anywhere but here, wanted to feel anything but the subtle hum beneath my body.

It took me a long moment to realise I was no longer lying against the hard dirt and my eyes shot open, despite my fear.

I stared in confusion at the walls of my bedroom and took another minute to assess the damage. I no longer felt nauseous. I wasn’t sure what I felt, but it wasn’t sick.

My brain tried to make sense of it and settled on the fact it had all been a dream. I almost bought it, until I spotted the soil staining my trousers and felt the powdery residue all over my hands.

The next moment I was on my feet and rushing towards the window. Johnson, I thought in a panic far greater than that I’d felt a moment ago. What the hell had happened to Johnson?

***

Written for this week’s speakeasy contest.

Thanks for reading

Mel

Under a forgotten sun – Speakeasy #157


Winter seemed reluctant to release its hold. The cold seeped into my bones like icy fingers and I shivered against a bitter wind that pulled me this way and that. I longed for the gentle days of summer, for the ground to turn soft beneath my feet.

When I was a safe enough distance from the village I allowed what little strength I had left to cloak me in the radiance of a forgotten sun. It was an illusion, but one my body responded to in earnest.

da VinciThe life I carried stirred inside me, impatient to be free of his binds. I ran a hand soothingly over my stomach and willed him to be still, just for a little while longer.

He could hear my thoughts, I know he could. But he wasn’t yet mature enough to communicate his, not clearly. I got a series of images, memories of a time I didn’t belong to. Still I understood his need. It was the reason I had ventured out alone, away from a community that feared us and wanted only to be rid of him and all he represented.

When I saw the cabin appear in the clearing, at first I thought it another illusion. One brought on by my desperation.

The moment I saw the wolf I knew it was him and my heart quivered, for him, for our child, for all of us.

Joel transformed then, though it was forbidden. His eyes gleamed with a knowledge I could never possess. It hurt just to look at him.

“If they find you here, they’ll kill you,” I whispered, unable to move towards him because I feared that weakness.

“You think I’d allow you to go through this alone?” His voice thundered around us, as deep and raw as the emotions rippling through me.

“I’ve studied well. I’m prepared.” I took a step forward, only then noticing the scar on his arm. “What have you done?” I asked, forgetting for a moment, that to be with him was punishable by death.

“They can’t find me now, Teagan, you’re safe. Let me help you.”

As though waiting for a sign, our son made his intentions known. The pain robbed me of breath for a moment, the first signs of labour. I had studied this, was prepared for this and soothed him once more.

“It’s time,” I whispered, trying to calm my beating heart.

Joel was by my side in an instant, lifting me off my feet and carrying me towards the cabin.

“How?” I managed, remembering the structure that shouldn’t be, but was.

“It’s Audrey’s power. Her will,” Joel said, glowing again with a knowledge that he had yet to speak of. “Once we cross over there’s no going back. You have to be sure, Tegan. Will you come with me?”

“Will he be safe?”

A cloud passed across his face. “I’ll always keep him safe.”

“Then I’ll come with you.”

His face was very close to mine now, and his eyes, so like the wolf, were hypnotising. “Will you leave everything behind?”

I knew what he wanted me to say, and I hesitated, too weak to dull all of the pain. It seared through my stomach and made me wince against the growing contractions. I would have to give up my powers, give up everything, for him and the child we’d made together.

“I’m afraid,” I choked out, and I was. Afraid to hope, to want the life together I thought we could never have.

“I’ll keep you safe,” he said, loosening his grip. But it wasn’t his words that swayed me, it was the love I felt in every fibre of his being. It cocooned me in warmth. It was brighter than any star, stronger than any sun I could conjure.

“Yes.”

We stepped over the threshold and into the kind of room that didn’t belong in a cabin. It had been an illusion after all. It was a doorway, nothing more. Joel had brought us to safety, risked everything to protect his family. For we were a family and had been since the moment I’d looked into the eyes of his wolf.

As soon as our presence was detected the medical staff rushed forward and guided us to a bed.

By now the pain was intense. I was no longer in my own time and my power had no place here. I was on my own, and would have to rely on what medicines they would allow.

***

Thanks for reading.

Mel

The Light of Hope – Speakeasy entry #155

 

Without a word, she dropped to the ground.
‘Without a word, she dropped to the ground.’

Without a word, she dropped to the ground. Words would have been futile in her chosen form, and a growl would have belied her frustration.

She changed swiftly, and without fuss. Her body was lithe and agile, and as she crossed the forest floor she didn’t make a sound. She was as graceful as the large cat she’d assumed moments before; intense and fully alert.

Sophia was a born warrior. Her strengths and preternatural abilities were encoded into her genetic structure.

Finding the change of clothes where she’d stashed them, a replica of a dozen others scattered around the forest, she dressed quickly.

When she reappeared her brother was down from the tree and pulling on a pair of shorts.

She studied the three jagged claw marks on his skin and felt a fresh wave of anger.

“You were careless today, Jacob,” she told him, closing the distance between them in a few easy strides.

“Maybe, but we got away, so no harm, no foul.”

“Then what’s this?” she accused, dropping her gaze to the welts on his skin.

He shrugged broad shoulders. “Just a scratch, sis. They’ve done worse.”

They had. Much worse.

She, like Jacob, had been born in a lab. They had spent their formative years in combat training and learning about Euthoratopia; the prison they called home.

They existed to do others’ bidding, and like puppets, they were pulled in whatever direction their masters chose.

They were the only two to survive the Chameleon Project, and that made them special.

Both could shift between human form and that of the animals they were twinned with.

Jacob spent more time as a bird than he did in human form, because it gave him the illusion of freedom.

Sophia on the other hand, preferred to use the skills she had been given in hand-to-hand combat, though in cat form she was pretty lethal.

Earlier they had run into trouble and she’d almost lost her brother to the enemy. One of them at least.

Sophia glanced down when Jacob began to draw symbols in the cracked earth.

On instinct she blocked the message with her body, because they were watching. They were always watching.

The message was coded, an intricate puzzle that took her a few moments to work out.

When she met her brother’s eyes she could see the excitement, an emotion overshadowed by the light of hope. He’d found a way out.

***

Thanks for reading.

Mel

 

 

 

Please don’t stop the music

“Sweet mother of Jesus, somebody get me some eyes in there.”

Samuel looked at his boss with a smirk. He wasn’t being ironic, despite the fact millions of viewers were watching.

Channel 6 had been hi-jacked and the moment the cameras stopped rolling it was game over.

“Thirty seconds sir, and we’ll be able to see more than the stage.”

Lieutenant Jefferson gave a distracted nod and Samuel knew he had to be feeling the pressure. They were in the middle of a circus.

News crews, media groupies, concerned citizens and emergency services, they all added up to one thing. They were about to go global.

“Tell me what we know,” Jefferson said, focusing his attention on Samuel.

“We just got confirmation Richard Beckett is inside. I spoke with his commanding officer and you were right, he was Special Forces. Given the sophistication of the bomb…” Samuel broke off and motioned towards the monitor in front of them. “Sir, we’re in.”

Jefferson whistled long and low when he saw the screen. “They plastered the poor guy’s personal life all over national television. I’d say they missed a crucial part of the story.”

Beckett’s wife had been a contestant on Dance With Me the year before. She’d had a public affair with her dance partner, which led to the breakdown of her marriage.

“I’d say that oversight came back to bite them on the ass.” Samuel’s eyes flicked to the other monitor where the show was being broadcast live.

The camera cut to a close up of Matthew Flemming’s face. He was starting to show the strain of dancing for three hours straight. His boyish good looks had earned him the devotion of hundreds of fans, and his new plight would earn him hundreds more.

Richard Beckett had planted a series of bombs beneath the studio floor. On the night of the live final, he’d sat in the audience and waited until Matthew Flemming took to the stage, before arming the device.

A pre-recorded message was rigged to broadcast the moment he pressed the button. Its purpose was to gain attention swiftly and with minimum fuss. Mathew Flemming was now standing on a giant pressure plate. If he stopped dancing, or even missed a step, the entire floor would blow.

Nobody doubted his sincerity, not after his breakdown the week before. He’d attacked the reporter doing a back story for the new show and his vow of revenge had gone viral.

The threat wasn’t taken seriously, not then. But when he interrupted the broadcast with his list of demands, the producers finally got it. They’d created a monster.

His instructions were simple. As long as they kept the cameras rolling, and Matthew worked those feet, nobody got hurt.

Any deviation from the plan; a trigger happy security guard, anxious spectator, would-be hero, and he detonated the device. In his words, he had nothing left to lose.

“What’s the endgame here? What does he hope to achieve?” Samuel wondered aloud.

He turned to Lieutenant Jefferson. “Beckett’s made no demands since he took over the show. It just doesn’t add up.”

“I agree. Something else is going on here,” Jefferson said.

They both turned to watch Matthew Flemming move across the floor with his usual style and grace. If he was tired of the song he didn’t show it.

It was a cruel twist of fate that the track turned out to be ‘Staying Alive.’ There was no way Beckett could have anticipated it.

It would be so easy to blame Matthew, Samuel thought. He knew many people did, because they believed what they read; that Matthew was a ladies man and used his natural charm to get ahead. No matter what the cost. It’s what they’d fed to Beckett.

But it didn’t matter now because, whatever happened, there would be no winner.

His main priority was the innocent people trapped inside the studio, guilty of nothing more than being fans of the show.

“Holy shit!”

Samuel snapped to attention when he heard the exclamation and his own profanities turned the air blue when he spotted Sandra Beckett running across the stage.

The explosion took them all by surprise, a moment before the screens went black. The silence, after so much sound, was almost as shocking as the realisation it was over.

Samuel’s eyes sought out the Lieutenant’s and what he saw cleared his head like a slap. Why, if they’d just lost, did his boss look so happy?

Hell in a handbasket

blue-pump-300x202Life had once been defined by linears and absolutes, that’s what his father had said. But Jeremiah found it all but impossible to correlate the idea with his own existence. He tried to imagine it; order amidst the chaos. It was an alien concept.

In his world there were no universal truths, and things were never black and white. People no longer believed in good or evil, at least not in a traditional sense. Jeremiah believed in nothing and no one but himself, as he’d been taught.

There were those he trusted, those who wouldn’t shove a knife in his back the moment it was turned, but they were few.

He lived his life by the hour, because that’s how things changed.

The earth his ancestors had once loved was light years away, in time if not in space. In its place was a battlefield, a land that was unrecognisable, an age more dangerous than any of those before it.

Most people travelled alone, if they didn’t belong to a group or committee. It was unheard of for families to travel together. Not only did it make them a target, there was no longer a desire to belong. Autonomy was paramount, and though indifference among his people was common place, in Jeremiah’s experience antipathy now dominated the culture.

His family had been an exception. They had lived together and fought together, until they’d been captured four years ago.

He’d watched as his mother, father and two older brothers were eliminated; their faces solemn and yet somehow unrepentant. Then their captors had turned to him and offered a different fate.

He was valuable. Strong men and women were occasionally saved and recruited, and he was a prime candidate.

It was only thanks to Johnson he’d survived the resurrection.

People were susceptible to any form of conditioning after the amygdala virus had wiped out their emotional centre. No longer did fear run lives, and a regulative conscience was a thing of the past.

There were those, like Jeremiah, who were immune to the plague of 2018. Even the virus he was injected with at the age of thirteen failed to do anything but give him a headache. The disease behaved differently in him, but few knew that, because he’d schooled himself to blend in among the soulless recruits who were his generation.

Johnson had seen it. He’d recognised the truth. He’d recognised that a world of such colour, such potential for growth, shouldn’t be dulled by a civilisation who felt nothing. The world was alive with possibility, with depth of emotion. He saw it in every line. He wanted to be the instrument that brought sustenance to the wilting souls of those around him.

Jeremiah didn’t share his optimism, but he did see the beauty in the sky above him and on the ground on which they walked. Somewhere deep within him he craved connection, and one day, he hoped to trust enough to believe in something more.

 “It’s time,” Snow whispered beside him, sharpening his focus.

“Are you sure?” he whispered back.

He knew that Snow’s eyes were on the girl, as were his.

“One hundred percent. She’s one of us.”

Jeremiah nodded once and gave the signal to those waiting in the shadows. “Move out.”

The group of misfits tore down the embankment, weapons at the ready. They were risking their own lives by daring to be different, but they knew the girl would die in the camp if they didn’t take action.

Their numbers were growing and despite how much things had changed, they recognised that strength.

In an age where emotions were redundant and chaos ruled, they were the one constant that made a future possible.  

Thanks for reading.

Until next time

Mel

Strength of heart

Speakeasy #148

They say the human heart weighs between nine and eleven ounces, but how can that be when mine is too heavy to bear. A burden that roots me to this place.

If not for its strength I would have slipped away hours ago. Instead I’m weighted down by my need to bear witness.

It’s more than a symptom, or psychological force. It must be. It hurts too much. The intensity of it prevents me from moving. Though even if I could, I no longer have the ability to stand.

My back is as broken and twisted as the gnarled stump I’m laid against. The evening breeze drifting through the trees coats me in ice, burning my skin.

Everything aches; my eyes from seeing too much, my lungs from breathing in the bitter scent of blood, blood which covers the forest floor. My arms are sore and cramping from the effort to fight off so many, and yet, if I could, I would raise them again.

I tried so hard to protect him, gave it everything I had, but there were too many of them and I failed.

It’s silent now, and even the silence hurts.

My throat is raw, so painful I’m unable to swallow. I screamed at them to have mercy, screamed until my voice became a croak.

They saw only through a thick mask of fear and hatred, and heard nothing but the sound of their own frenzy.

The ringing in my ears does not drown out the pain. If I live through this I will never forget the sounds he made, and yet he did not defend himself. This knowledge fills my head so completely, I want to weep.

Everything is so damn heavy, and I cling to the darkness for a moment. It takes every last drop of willpower to open my eyes. I owe him that much.

No one could ever know what happened here. That’s what they’d said.

I know, and still I am alive.

I don’t know why.

My brain wants to deny the sight of his brutalised form on the ground. I won’t allow myself to look away, even though the tears are blurring my vision.

This is what hate does, and it makes me sick to the stomach. I can feel it, like acid in my throat and I allow my head to drop back; wondering if I will choke on my own vomit.

The stars above me are aglow with the burning hatred I witnessed. Judging the scene before them and all of mankind. It’s an odd thought, but one that overpowers me.

There was so many of them, each one a testament to my failure.

Still, it isn’t the worlds above me that make me feel small and insignificant. It’s this one. What happened here, in the clearing, made me realise how far apart we really were.

I have never felt more ashamed of my fellow man or the violence we are capable of.

It twists in my gut, the pain so much more potent than the knife wound leaking my life force onto the wet grass.

I’m growing weaker and I don’t care. I don’t even care when I hear movement in front of me. I have to be silenced. I’m surprised they haven’t finished it already.

I have never turned away from anything in my life, or given in to fear. It’s not who I am. So, despite the pain, I lift my head, if only to look them in the eye. I want them to know I would have fought with my dying breath to stop them.

Again my brain seeks to deny what is right in front of me. It isn’t them I see. It’s him. The one they’d beaten to death for nothing more than the fact he doesn’t belong.

The one I thought was dead.

He isn’t dead. He is unmarked by the violence he encountered.

He moves with an unearthly grace that humbles me. There is no malice in his face. No anger. Only compassion.

He is beside me in an instant and lifting me the next, with the care he might have lifted a child.

I realise something as he begins to walk across the clearing. I can no longer smell the blood, or feel the ringing in my ears. My body doesn’t hurt anymore, and my heart, my heart is so light I think it might float away as though it weighed nothing all.

***

745 words

Thanks for reading.

Mel

Why not visit the Speakeasy to read some of the other great posts. You will find the prompt for this flash fiction contest, which included an incorporation of the sentence, ‘no one could ever know what happened here.’

Fluffing my lines

There was a time when things were different. A time when my husband and I still spoke to each other, when my mind didn’t freeze in the middle of a sentence.

It started with the index finger of my right hand. Just a tremor, and at that point, not enough to disrupt my daily routine.

Slowly the tremor got worse, affecting first my hand, and then the whole of my right arm.

I tried to hide it. From myself, my husband, the students in my class.

I knew what it was. I knew there was a high probability in terms of developing the disease because my mother had it too. That’s not to say it’s passed genetically. There was never a test I could take that would tell me one way or the other.

Still, I sat in the doctor’s surgery beside my husband and prayed I was wrong. I wasn’t.

Dr. Robinson earnestly told me I had Parkinson’s disease and everything changed.

It didn’t happen right away. On that day I merely nodded and listened to the sounds of sympathy from a man I barely knew.

Beside me my husband was silent. We didn’t speak about the diagnosis, then or since. In fact, we don’t speak to each other very much at all.

It’s not that he isn’t supportive. In his quietly subtle way he is still the rock I can lean on. He thinks I don’t notice what he’s doing. He thinks I would reject his efforts to support me, and I don’t blame him. I’m the reason he feels that way.

I always told him it would be the end of us if I got sick. I saw what the responsibility did to my father, how his feelings changed. In the end, when he looked at my mother, he was incapable of seeing beyond the disease. He alternated between pity and resignation, before settling on resentment.

It was fear talking. I couldn’t stand it if this man, who loved me so passionately, began to lose sight of everything we meant to each other. I didn’t know how to explain the blind panic I felt. Not because I had Parkinson’s, but because I was afraid of losing him. So I stopped talking.

I think he was waiting for me to ask him to leave. He loved me too much to deny me that choice, and though he wanted to fight for us, he didn’t know how. So he stopped talking too.

Lately, I’ve experienced something called freezing, or a form of it at least. My mind stutters for a few moments, perhaps searching for a drop of dopamine to grease the gears. When this happens I can literally stop in the middle of a sentence as though someone has plucked the words from my head.

My friends make allowances, some handling it better than others. Strangers shuffle nervously in their seat, waiting for me to get it together, or perhaps someone else to intervene.

My husband doesn’t do any of those things. He voices the word I had been about to utter, as though it were his turn in the conversation. He has this clever way of timing it too, as though he knows me so well, he knows the exact moment my thoughts will reform.

When I think about it, it’s something he’s always done. He’s so in tune with me he knows what I’m thinking anyway.

I may have stopped talking, but I haven’t stopped paying attention. When he looks at me there isn’t a hint of pity. He isn’t embarrassed, or impatient with me when I’m tired or stressed and the tremors get worse. He looks at me the way he’s always looked at me. The way he always will.

Yes, things are different, but it doesn’t have to be the end. I’ve been selfish, I know that now.

It took me hours to carefully apply my make-up. My anxiety is a nervous apprehension – the best kind. He’s always had this effect on me. My body might betray me from time to time, but not in this. The fluttering in my stomach is nothing new.

Tonight I’m going to be the one to effect a change. I’m going to make up for lost time and help my husband to understand that I won’t turn him away.

Maybe I’ll fluff up my lines, or tremble a little bit more than I used to. But that’s the thing about our marriage. We never really needed words anyway.

****

Thanks for reading

Mel