A short story submitted for an Anthology based on Film Titles
I GOT ACCEPTED - YAY!!!
Unfortunately, that meant that I couldn't publish 'Memento' here for a few months - but now I can.
The Anthology is to help raise funds for a brilliant charity. For all details please read the interview below.
The book "Off the Record 2 - At The Movies" contains short stories, all based on film titles, by 46 brilliant Authors plus the one by me. An absolute bargain and available from Amazon.
Thank you so much to those that took the time to read Memento and to give me brilliant comments about it.
This is the interview I did for Luca Veste's great blog
(Lots more to read on it as well.)
The links to the Anthology are at the bottom of the interview
The links to the Anthology are at the bottom of the interview
He cried the day I gave it to him.
Turning it over in his hands he splattered it with big, hot tears. He didn’t wipe them off though and the inky words ran in rivulets into each other, stretching spidery fingers across the page.
“Dammit, John.” I said. “Stop it. Look what you’re doing.”
He couldn't look. He couldn’t see through the past or his tear frosted lenses.
I gently pulled the paper away from his trembling hands and replaced it with my firm ones.
We stayed there for a long time. Silent and still.
Traffic on the road outside the open window rumbled noisily past, a horn blasted and children shouted above the din, to make themselves heard. We didn’t notice.
After rush hour a calm fell outside but, inside, the lack of movement belied the tumult and the turbulence.
We were there for three hours or more. I knew not to speak and he couldn’t talk.
I waited. I got cramp but I bore it and tried not to move. Tried not to disturb his process.
He would deal with this. I knew he would, he could, but he needed this time of stillness. I couldn’t break down his wall but I could be there when the bricks came tumbling down. I just held on. Tightly, so he knew I was there. So he wouldn’t forget and think he was alone.
It gradually grew dark. Day to dusk to night. It was never dark in the town. A red aura hovered below a pitch sky. Tonight the dark, dark, blue was studded with the eyes of angels.
That’s what Tilly had always called the stars. She liked to feel protected and safe.
We used to laugh with her and make up stories about the different angels. Venus loved chocolate but the boy angel, Mars, didn’t. Ironic.
Tilly had a dog; a funny mongrel called Angus. We used to guess what he was made up of. It was quite hard. His paws were huge but the rest was medium, except for his eyes. His big, blue eyes. Everyone though they made him particularly special.
Tilly called him her guardian angel as he never left her side, where possible. If she left the house without him he would sit at the window and wait for her. Never moving until she arrived home safely. We put a comfy cushion there for him in the end. Mainly so we didn’t have to listen to his bones grinding against the hard windowsill.
Until Tilly came home, Angus wouldn’t eat, or wee, or chew his favourite bone. Nothing but wait. Maybe he did know how special she was too.
Miranda had died giving birth to Tilly. Maybe that was Tilly’s saving grace; never knowing a mother to grieve for. Only John. John was lucky, well no he wasn’t, as his precious wife had died, but he was lucky in that Tilly was a perfect child. Always slept through, always happy, always loving. Tilly always had someone or something in her arms. She’d have been the perfect nurse for a Vet; caring, not cutting.
John stirred. Just a little. Stiff in body and manner. Awkward. I didn’t know what to say. No words would ever be the right ones. I stayed silent and kept looking at him.
No more tears. They had dried up a while ago, leaving patches on his face and on our hands where they had fallen. Heavily for a while, then slowly easing, until, eventually, none.
I was thirsty and I knew he must be too, even if he didn’t know it himself.
We'd had afternoon tea. Just the two of us. Outside. It had been a beautiful day. Warm, blissful, relaxing. I’d baked some scones. They looked flat and wonky but were delicious and we ate more than we should have. Too good to resist straight out of the oven. Their steamy hotness melting the yellow butter into little pools which swirled into the jam. We didn’t have any cream. It didn’t matter. Earl grey tea perfumed the air from our cups and we moaned a lot with the simple pleasure. Smiling at each other. Big, silly, soppy grins. We were happy.
That seemed a lifetime away now.
I came in to find a teaspoon that I had suddenly remembered. It was pretty, delicate, and I wanted to put it in the sugar bowl as I liked using it to put a spoon of sugar in John’s tea. I didn’t take sugar so it was nice for me to spoon it into his so I could use my little spoon that would, otherwise, have just been no more than an ornament.
Frustrated at its unexplained disappearance. I was rifling through a drawer in the dresser. You know the type – full of batteries and tiny bulbs, business cards and rubber bands. Fuses too.
It was there right at the back, that I found it. Half jammed into the crack at the base of the drawer. I pulled it out carefully, as I did not know what it was and I was curious.
It was from Tilly. Dated the third of February 2003. The last day she was in our lives. Not the last day that we felt life but it was a good while before it began to creep back in and we never forgot. Not for a minute, but we did have to give ourselves permission to live and feel. Eventually.
John eased to his feet. Stiff. He stretched and touched my face.
“Thank you,” he whispered, “I love you.”
“I know. I love you too.” I held his hand not wanting him to move it. We looked out of the window. The stars were shining brightly, despite the air pollution.
The angels had not been looking that night; the third of February 2003. It was stormy and wild and we were all bundled up against the cold, the wet, the biting winter wind. Even Angus had his coat on. Red tartan to match his name. Tilly had chosen it. She liked things ‘right’.
We don’t know what happened, what Tilly saw.
A man bumped into us. Possibly drunk, possibly ill. He dropped his carrier bag and the contents spilled across the wet pavement. Oranges rolling around. Vivid against the dark, wet. John and I rushed to pick them up for him before they got ruined.
As we turned to bend down, Tilly ran across the road. What she had seen to make her do that, we will never ever know. Angus barked, pulled and won. The lead slipped from John’s hand and Angus shook out his wings and flew after Tilly.
The big, red, double-decker bus got them both and that was that. Life extinguished in a squeal and a bang and a thud. Deep silence before the screams from me and the lone passenger. Screaming in stereo.
The driver, vision blinded by the rain, didn’t have a chance. Never even saw them. Never drove again. It wasn’t his fault.
John hadn’t seen the piece of paper before. Neither had I. It was probably stuffed in the drawer; a surprise in hiding.
The drawing was in felt tip pens. Colourful. It was us. Our family.
Tilly had honoured me by calling me Mummy. The first time made me cry and she gave me a hug, not understanding why I suddenly couldn’t talk to her.
There we all were in the clothes and hairstyles (roughly) of 2003. Tilly in her red coat, to match Angus’, of course. John in his long, grey wool coat and me in my, fashionable for that year only, flowery duffle coat. We weren’t dressed for the picture weather. A big yellow sun dominated one corner and flowers and hearts filled the spaces between.
Black ink scribed our names: Daddy, Mummy, Angus and Tilly on a nice walk. A headline declared. I love you forever my angels.
Later, much later, we framed it. Black rivulets, crumples and all. A memory, a message, a lovely memento from our little angel.