Mitchell's Mustard Blog

May 18, 2017

What about Charlie – The Chase

Filed under: My Work — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — mitchellsmustard @ 9:31 am

Oxygen was burning his lungs, he could feel the heat prickle under the skin on his face. This late at night it was harder to navigate down narrow Trinity Street, it was quiet apart from the sound of rushed footsteps and Charlie panting for air, aggression and revenge kept him running. His vision bouncing past the shops and scattered street lights, desperately trying not to trip on uneven patches of cobbled pavement that hid in the shadows, knowing that would end the chase. Up front he could see the silhouette of the man he was pursuing, plunging in and out of light from the shop windows. He was running on the same amount of energy as Charlie, both men were running on fumes and adrenaline. Charlie was grateful for the lack of tourists out late at night, Trinity Street was a haven for tourists but at this late hour it was only the homeless in doorways that could be counted as a witness and that wouldn’t stand up in any court. The man passed an alleyway full of shops on the left, the overhead lights made him easy to see and Charlie was gaining on him, pushing him harder and giving him an extra boost of energy. He was deafened by his own gasps for air, his vision seemed slightly blurred but he knew he needed to catch up, he needed answers. There was music and light coming from the church on the left as he passed, he hoped that no one had noticed these two men pass in a hurry. The street opened out into a wider road and the man stopped for a split second to make a decision on his route, he could carry on straight forward past Kings College but it was a long and straight road which meant there would be more running to do, he could take the dark passage to the right, or take the road on the left onto the Market Square. To Charlie’s delight the man chose to turn left, he was tired and needed to slow, if not stop soon. Going straight on was not an option for Charlie, his body wouldn’t allow it. Going down the passage on his right would have meant little running but pitch black alley ways to lose the chase. Market Square has an island of market stalls in the middle, to the left of Charlie was a row of shops, following his eyesight clockwise the side of the square opposite was also occupied by shops. To the far right of the square was what looked like a big hall which took up a full side on its own, on the last side of the square was St Mary’s church, it was the one way road next to that which Charlie had followed the man down onto the square. Split second decisions felt like minutes passing as Charlie was close on his tail, they both clambered through the empty market stalls of wood and metal. The stalls left derelict by their owners until the following morning. As tired as they both were they battled their way through, under and over metal framework. The man tipped the occasional stall over to cause more work and frustration for Charlie, he knew he was gaining on him which caused his heart to pound. As one stall led onto the next the tarpaulin roof had breaks in which let in the light from the moon, catching the moments of light in the darkness maze of the frame-work made it harder to see what obstacles were in the dark on the next stall. This caught both men out which slowed them both down, catching their shins and arms on loose metal that were hidden in the dark. Charlie needed to get close to him before they reached the other side of the market stalls or he will manage a huge lead that Charlie feared he wouldn’t make up. Catching sight of a metal pole waist height Charlie managed to jump and land without any obstruction just as his target stumbled out of the last stall, Charlie was right on his tail, he could hear him pant for breath as well as hearing his own. The man’s fear was obvious as he scrambled across the road nearly landing on his knees, no time to make a decision on direction, straight forward was the path taken. He fled down a large path between the buildings at the corner of the square leading onto another road behind the huge hall. Charlie was close on his tail but his legs and chest burnt like never before, he had to fight thoughts of giving up by picturing the deathly expression that this man had left on her face. They went through another alleyway next to a pub to come face to face with a group of girls dressed up standing outside a club having a cigarette, they screamed as they flew between them, Charlie shouting his apologies as one fell over. They went up a few steps taking two at a time, past a raised coffee shop on the right and funnelled into a side entrance of Grand Arcade shopping centre. Charlie knew it would be closed off at this time, as he turned the corner into the building there were bars up to prevent entrance. To his right there is parking ticket machines and a bland wall, to his left there is two lifts. The lift furthest away had its doors closed but the closest ones doors had just started to slide closed, It’s the only place he could have gone Charlie thought as he launched towards it. As he entered the lift just in time for the doors to close the man was standing there with fear over his face, they stood for a few seconds staring at each other, they were thinking what to do next. It was deadly silent in the lift whilst both men seemed to hold their breath, Charlie had never really thought about what he would do once he had caught him. Suddenly the lift beeped to say it was heading up, Charlie glanced at the buttons and notice they were going to the top floor. Every wall in the lift was covered in mirrors so it was hard for Charlie to not notice how worn out and old he looked, he could hear his breathing again. Charlie breathed in and it felt like fire, he pictured her smile then launched forward and punched the man in the face.

   He stumbled back and fell to the floor of the lift, cupping his nose as blood trickled down his chin.

   “You’ll learn to regret that” the man said with glazed eyes.

   The lift stopped and the doors slid open behind Charlie, in the split second that Charlie took to turn and look out of the lift door the man had produced a gun from his belt line. Charlie knew nothing about guns but his initial thought was the bigger it is the more dangerous it can be and it wasn’t a small gun. He stared at the gun, noticing the chrome reflect the lift lights, indentations down the side of the barrel, maybe a model number. It looked heavy, maybe that was the reason the man’s hand was shaking.

   “Slowly walk backwards out of the lift, keep your hand where I can see them.”

   Charlie did as he was told, backing out of the lift into the open air top floor where it was empty and quiet, looking over his shoulder he could see that the only other exit was across the other side, too far to run. He held his hands above his head. He hadn’t asked him to do so but that’s what you always see in the movies, it seemed the right thing to do.

   “Turn around, walk over to the edge” Charlie obeyed the mans orders.  

 

The Cambridge skyline was beautiful at night, a show of lights from the cluttered heights of surrounding buildings, church steeples and college towers. Each with their own significance, a reason to be lit up. At this height the wind whipped around his body, trying to pick him up and carry him to safer ground. Pulling and tugging at his clothes, distracting his thoughts. Looking out from the edge of this car park, Charlie remembered visiting these lit up buildings with Abigail. She had wanted to visit them, understand the history of these buildings, look at their beauty, but he never really appreciated them until now, too late. He had turned his back on the man, the gun. He stood at the edge of the car park looking out.

   “I loved her, loved her more than you could ever dream of!” The man’s voice came as a surprise as it broke the silence.

   Charlie took a deep breath, controlled his aggression, he didn’t want to sound emotional or in fear.

   “Clearly, there’s no better way to show a women how much you love them than to . . . . .” he still couldn’t say it. “To do what you did”.    

   “She deserved it, that little prick teasing bitch” He replied through gritted teeth.

Charlie could hear his footsteps as he slowly worked his way toward him, felt the cold of the gun as it touched the back of his neck. Charlie felt numb, his body wanted to give up, his mind slowly starting to agree.  

    “Do you want to know what her last words were?” he said laughing. “Ohh Charlie, Charlie I’m sorry” he teased in a high-pitched female voice. “That’s when I cut her throat because I was sick of hearing your name, Charlie this, and Charlie that . . . That all she used to go on about . . . Stupid bitch didn’t see what was right in front of her!”

   He tapped the gun against the back of Charlie’s head a couple of times.

   “Are you listening to me?” He asked.

   Charlie ignored the question. He stared out across the city, controlling his breathing, trying to save his energy. He looked over the edge, down six floors to the concrete, it could be so easy just to end it all now he thought.

   “Hey!” The man smashed the gun against Charlies head again, this time with force. “What’s wrong with you, I’m trying to tell you about how your girlfriend died, are you not interested?” He yelled. “Some boyfriend you are!!” Nudging Charlie with his gun again.

   The more Charlie ignored the man, the more irate he became. He could hear it in the mans voice, his movement, he was starting to pace back and forth behind Charlie. He had started to mutter to himself, Charlie couldn’t make out what he was saying. The more he paced the more distracted he had become. Charlie was feeling calm, his breathing was back to normal. He now just needed to wait for the man to make a mistake, a moment for him to take control of the situation.

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May 13, 2017

Bruised

Filed under: A Little Something — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — mitchellsmustard @ 1:14 pm

He had come home from school with another bruise, another one to add to the collection. This young boy full of charisma, charm, and joy when encased by the families four walls ached physically and mentally without a peep. His mother could hear him quietly weep in the morning whilst getting ready for school, which in turn made her cry for answers, but he was proud and strong and a shrug of the shoulders was the answer to all. He often came home with rips in his clothing, when doing his washing she would find blood stains on his sleeves, his explanation was yet another nosebleed. She watched her young boy battle in silence, the more pressure she applied for answers the more he closed up and became aloof around her. She had spoken to the school on numerous occasions but they explained that without her son coming forward they couldn’t pursue. A promise to keep an eye out for him was lost in communication because he had come home again with a cut on his head, an accident he had explained. His eyes told another story, a silent uncomfortable story. Over the last year his character had changed, her brave little boy seemed to fear the outside, and worst of all, fear the inside. His brave little smile had left, his charisma had been removed, joy was a thing of the past. She confided in friends and family, ‘troubled teens’ they’d say to put her mind at rest. But she could see the screams behind his eyes, the damage to his body, the way he flinched at movement.

  She had heard him weep again in the morning so she confronted him, no prisoners, she wanted answers. Where had her charming and enthusiastic boy gone? What was happening?

  As she broke down, so did he. He was curled in the corner lost and fearful, she had scared him. She knew she needed to apologise . . .   

   . . . But it was too late, that day he had taken his own life. She wished someone had listened, wished she had worked harder to get to the truth, wished her little baby boy had opened up. But, all the wishes in the world had expired. Stood by his graveside she cried for today, cried for tomorrow, and feared whatever followed.

December 17, 2016

Forever Sleeping

Filed under: A Little Something, Just a Thought — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — mitchellsmustard @ 12:56 pm

As he lay motionless I placed my hand on his side, never have I felt something so cold and empty. He looked the same, but different. His golden coat looked grey, a misty outline of life laid to it’s lost meaning. My hand missed the rise and fall of his chest as I sat crossed legged next to him. I pulled at the neck of my school jumper as a distraction from the tears that fought my childlike pride. I knew I needed to leave but I wasn’t ready, I hadn’t said everything I needed but I still couldn’t find the words. It’s expected apparently, loss binds you up and you rush to say the right things rather than say what’s actually on your mind. Sitting here in the hallway of my family home, too young to understand how to feel and too naive for what happens next. Brushing my hand over him, feeling his greying coat between my fingers for the last time. Stroking him and rearranging his hair so he looking clean and neat, I didn’t want him to leave feeling unkempt and unloved because he couldn’t do it himself anymore. I leaned forward and rested my head against his, my pride gave way and let my emotions take over.

   “You’ll always be my boy, I love you”.

   Those are the words that I found, those are the words I’m pleased I said, those are the words that will stay with us forever.

   He had given me a childhood of love, a companion, a hairy four legged brother. It was a hard way for a young boy to say goodbye, a vision that will stay forever. I have so many fond memories of his character, his presence. Laying with him for hours with my head on his chest, the power of his existence beating against my ear. He’d follow us like there was something to gain, but in hindsight I think he felt like he had gaining by just being with us, by our side. The one thing I shall never forget . . For us he was our brother, our family member but we had the luxury of other things in our life. We had friends, jobs, school, the outside world. . For him we were everything.

   It was painful, the way you left us. It changed me, made me view things differently. There’s parts of me that wished we had never found you forever sleeping in our hallway, but there’s also parts of me that wouldn’t change a thing.

October 9, 2015

Drawing a Line In The Sand

Filed under: A Little Something — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — mitchellsmustard @ 1:49 pm

Like the strength of waves, beating and crashing. A power of vengeance, sorrow, and regret. Pulling away as it rises, then striking, giving only a moment to catch a breath. He had never felt tears like it before, the waves behind his eyes. The heartlessness in seeing a proud man break down, to crumple like an addict, pulling limbs in as tight as possible, folding into nothing but himself. Protection from any other blows, but wasting time because he knew that the first one had already defeated him. “You don’t realise the size of your heart until you feel it ache” he said to anyone, and no one. Surrounded by all the love one man could ask for, yet, in this moment he felt further away than he had ever been before. He was used to the distance in miles, not emotions. His wife and children loved him, stood by him, but in that moment he refused to reach out. They are the love he lived for, but he had just lost the love that he had never lived without, this was untravelled territory. The unconditional love will always resume, but the warmth that came with it had faded away in it’s sleep. Today, drawing a line in the sand, no going back, it’s all different now. Everything looked the same, smelt the same, but it wasn’t. The world was now missing a vital part of his life, his idol, his hero, his father.

March 27, 2015

Her little love notes

Filed under: A Little Something — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — mitchellsmustard @ 9:35 pm

‘I adore you x’. This was written on the post it note that he found in his suit jacket pocket, he hadn’t worn the black suit for years and was surprised it still fit him, probably due to the weight he had lost recently. He stopped and stared at the loving note, spellbound, lost, loved. She had beautiful handwriting, he knew he was biased, but he loved the way she curled her letters, delicate, passionate, and all without a concentrated effort, it just flowed. He pictured her giggling, running around the house with the post it note pad, quickly leaving love notes for him to find when he returned home from work. And when he found them, she would act blasé, nonchalant, but he could always see the excitement in her eyes as she followed him around the house asking questions about his day, she wasn’t worried about the answers, she just wanted to see his face while reading the notes she had strategically placed. She didn’t always hide them, he would find ‘morning sunshine’ stuck to the bathroom mirror, ‘I’m proud of you’ on the front door, or one of his favourites that he had kept in his wallet, ‘you make me tick’. He had found that note on her pillow a week ago, the morning she had left for work early, on the day she didn’t return.
She would sometimes buy him little presents, something she might stumble across, a little something that she knew he would appreciate. Leaving little post it note clues around the house for him to follow and find her gift. Her infectious giggle would echo round the house while he was hunting, following the trail. He missed that giggle.
He was perched on the edge of their bed in his underwear, he stared at the note. He knew this was going to be the last note he would find in her handwriting, because today, she was the reason he had to wear the black suit, the day he had to say goodbye for the last time. He kissed the note and placed it on her pillow. He knew he needed to get dressed, he didn’t want to, but knew the cars would be here soon.

February 1, 2015

The murder scene . . a snippet of a crime story I’m toying with.

Filed under: My Work — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — mitchellsmustard @ 1:01 pm

The sweat in the room was heavy enough to soak through his shirt, a smell that he didn’t recognise, but didn’t need an educated guess as to what it was. He thought it was strange how he had never smelt death before, but he knew that’s what it was that caused the aroma that clung to the walls. Knowing that once he left the room, the smell would cling to his jacket, similar to how cigarettes do. What he was about to see would also cling to him, an attachment that couldn’t be removed at 40 degrees.
The beautiful shaggy grey carpet on the bedroom floor would never be the same, Charlie loved the feel of it on his bare feet in the morning. It was expensive, after feeling it between his toes for the first time, he knew it was well worth the money, it had become part of his wake up ritual. The blood was thick and had matted parts of the carpet, it was ruined, once it was cleaned Charlie would still know it had once been there. This blood should still be under her skin, in her veins. This blood had once pumped round every inch of her beautiful body, the blood that had kept her alive was now split, like unwanted wine. She was placed on the floor at the end of the bed, take away the bruises, the blood, and her lifeless body held a pose. Her left leg bent with her foot tucked under her right knee, her toe nails painted in her obsessive manner. Her little black dress had been pulled up to sit at her navel and her underwear torn, nothing covered up to hide the truth. Her left arm down by her side, her right lay across her chest, for a moment Charlie pictured her trying to defend herself. Red sore abrasions on both wrists stood out on her pale skin, finger nails painted to match her toe nails. Her long hair lay to rest across her face and neck, but not enough to cover up the incision on her neck, her skin looked so pale against the bloody wound. Her body looked cold, distant, dead. Her eyes were still open and blood shot, bulging with fear and pain. Seeing all this devastation in the room that the two of them had shared so much love took Charlie’s breath, causing panic, it was the look in her eyes that caused him to freeze, he couldn’t look away, mesmerized. He’d watched enough television to know that touching anything would be a bad idea, the temptation to pick her up, make her comfortable, it was hard to bare. Alarm bells ringing in his head to phone the police, but all his body was willing to do was drop to his knees, a single tear formed in his eye whilst his chin started to quiver.

December 22, 2013

The death of a fisherman

Filed under: A Little Something — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — mitchellsmustard @ 4:22 pm

When the waves crashed against the side of the vessel, the boat was thrown side to side like a rag doll in a playful dogs mouth. The grey stormy sky a similar colour to the sea, the boat seemed to advance towards a future of nothingness. They all had families waiting for them to return, longing to hear the cheers of loved ones as they step onto dry land, a fond memory from each trip. Only he longed for the next outing. Spending weeks aboard and his body became used to the rocking, the unsettled sea waiting to swallow his boat in one almighty gulp. He could never explain how much he loved the sea because it would always be his worst enemy, it had beaten him black and blue, it had taken his men from him, taken the soul and life from the back of his eyes as he watched it claim victims, people he knew. Returning to tell their wives that life was now different, the expression on their faces as he became the enemy and not the sea. He had battled with his foe for many years, the creaks and groans of his boat had become his home, longing for his family but knowing he couldn’t stay on dry land for long. He couldn’t get the rush that he experienced at sea, she was his ugly mistress that could turn her mood at any moment and test the boats ability to perform, a battle with a beast that took no prisoners in a moment of weakness. He always believed he would die at sea one day, hoped he would be taken by her, they teased each other even though he knew she would win every time if given the chance. He felt he wasn’t ready just yet, she had taken so much but still had so much to give. She would rest like all other things, to build up her strength for her next attack, the calm before the storm. He watched her build, watched her huff and puff around them. He found beauty in her anger, this seemed to provoke her strength in some way.
Pain surged through his chest as he collapsed, If only he knew that his wild mistress wouldn’t claim him after all, would he have returned? Taken his last step onto dry land, to leave her crashing at his back, tempting him to return. To think that it would be his own heart that would fail. As he crashed to the kitchen floor his first thought were of his family, but to them he had become a stranger. He longed to feel the sea around him, drag him under and pull him into her, to feel her anger around him. Take him under her ice cold wing to numb him from the pain, they had toyed with each other for so many years, it didn’t seem right to die without her. He missed her whistling in his ear, baiting him to make a mistake. He wanted to be taken by her, she deserved to win this battle, but it was not gods will.

November 7, 2013

The Tartan Blanket

Filed under: My Work — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — mitchellsmustard @ 5:30 pm

He spread the tartan picnic blanket out with care, making sure all corners were straight. Every year he used the same blanket to protect the importance of this tradition, it was used, washed then folded neatly and stored away until this day came around again. The tartan was laced with yellows and greens and over the years the colours had faded to give it a vintage look. He loved this blanket, not because of the colours, not because it was of an age, but because it was one of the first things that she had given him. He swept the loose mischievous blades of grass away with his hand, “she’ll be here soon” he told himself. Every year in the same spot this picnic was set, to a standard that she would approve.
The first time they discovered this spot was by chance. He had just moved to Cambridge and she came to visit. A romance by distance is hard for the strongest of relationships, but they were strong, she was his queen and nothing would stand in the way of that. They had spent the day walking around his new local area, stopping on a bridge that looked over the river Cam, they stood and they watched as the water passed below. He whispered love songs in to her ear to make her giggle, she was bashful about love. As he went to tickle her sides she ran to the steps next to the bridge, taking each one carefully in her heels. She made her way onto Jesus green and finally stopped, turning she expected him to still be on the bridge looking down at her, but he was hot on her tail. He took her by the waist, picked her up and spun her round as they both laughed. They eventually fell to the ground, laying on the grass entwined. They stopped laughing, they stared at each other, they smiled, they were in love. They spent that afternoon together sat on the bank of the river watching the water pass under the bridge, talking of future plans, not realising they would make an effort to watch the water pass this same spot on the same day each year. It was their spot.
He took a step back to view the layout of his affections, brushing his hands together as a sign of completion. Sitting down next to the picnic basket he considered opening the bottle of her favorite wine to accompany him while he waits, she wouldn’t have minded but he still felt that it would be rude to start without her. He tapped his fingers on top of the basket, some would think of it as impatient but she knew him better than that. He watched the river pass under the bridge, gently flowing past like that of his life, the occasional bit of debris twisting and tangling with its surroundings to give the water an uneven run. He sat, he watched, and he waited.
Each year they spent time at this spot talking about future plans, with each year that passed their plans became smaller but their achievements became bigger. She had moved to Cambridge, they lived in a small two bedroom house off Hills Road. The news that they were to become a family had come as a surprise, a good surprise. Nine months passed quickly and they welcomed Isabelle in to their lives, she was a quiet and adorable baby, giggles and brunette curls. The only thing that didn’t change from that moment on was the love this little family shared, his job, the money, their friends, it all spiraled around their beautiful little girl, but he wouldn’t have had it any other way.
He watched people pass by as he waited, the fruits of one existence viewing the many, remembering, romancing in the moment, and sympathizing. Loud disobedient children, just like their Isabelle had once been. The young and adventurous, who learn only by mistakes. Young couples holding hands, causing a smile to the happy, yet disapproving to the disgruntled lonely. And the old that take their time and refuse help, holding their pride higher than their health. He watched life, he waited, he smiled.
Isabelle grew quicker than they could have ever imagined, gone were the days of cuddles before bed, he missed the days of testing his imagination for a bedtime story, to watch her drift off to sleep as he explained how the prince and princess had met, or how they had saved their kingdom. He even missed pretending to eat and drink at one of her tea parties, he felt a little stupid when she insisted that they dine out in the street for all to see, but it was for her and he would do anything for her, that had never changed. Even through her troubled teens, the many broken curfews, the bad attitude, the long nights of waiting up for her to get home, in fear that something may have happened, dreading that phone call. He was never soft on punishment with her but he knew there wasn’t anything that he wouldn’t do for her, even when he was still upset.
He watched a Cambridge university rowing club across the river, synchronized movement by the crew pulling their racing shell from the clubhouse into the water without a hitch. This was a common pastime for many while sat on the bank of the river Cam, something he had watched with interest over years while he waited for her. He liked to reminisce about his wife, from the moment they met she was destined to occupy his mind, even when she wasn’t there. When he proposed to her he had sent the ring through the post to their home address so it wasn’t expected. He fondly remembered her face, how it turned from surprise, to a smile, to tears. She said yes as soon as she could find the words. Remembering the funny faces she used to pull at baby Isabelle to make her giggle when she thought he wasn’t watching, he never told her that he saw her.
She had started to lose a lot of weight, she looked drained. As stubborn as a mule but she knew something was wrong. By the time she had her first checkup, the cancer was diagnosed at its most advanced stage. That was the day it all changed, the day everything came crashing down. She closed up, his queen had become vacant, she had disappeared out of the back door, just leaving someone who looked like his wife behind. All communication had left, it took the playful smiles, the infectious laugh and her comical wit. A shell of the woman he loved, she had given up before the first bell, that’s what tore him apart the most.The last goodbye was the hardest part, to bury his queen, to be alone knowing that she will be waiting for him, alone.
He was staring at the water day dreaming when he felt movement next to him on the blanket, she had silently arrived. As he gazed at her his heart started to pound against his old and tired ribs. It had been three years and he missed his wife that little bit more every day that passed, she still occupied his mind, even though she wasn’t there. Caught in the right light, the resemblance was flawless, Isabelle looked like her mother. The same facial expressions that would always melt his heart. He loved spending time with his daughter, because little parts of his wife lived on in her. Just like her mother, she had grown to become an amazing woman. His heart swelled with pride.

September 2, 2013

A Life to Bury

Filed under: A Little Something — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — mitchellsmustard @ 6:29 pm

You could smell the whisky on his breath, but you couldn’t see the loathing behind his eyes, the loathing of the job in hand. The only thing that broke the silence for that moment was the rough sound of his hand rubbing four day stubble on his broad chin. The stale smell of cigarettes strangled the collar and sleeves of his shirt, knowing that the feeling of someone watching him will never go, not while he’s here. The wind whistled, pulling at his unkempt hair, cartwheeling leaves falling into the freshly dug hole he stood above. Sweat started to build at his hairline, he was nervous, exhausted, out of shape. She always said he was out of shape, at this moment he felt like she was right. He felt small, insignificant, lost. He didn’t want to be there, he would have done anything to still be in his house, reminiscing alone, the sound of ice cubes against a tumbler, behind a locked door. But he had to do this, he signed up for this years ago but he never really gave it any thought, this day came earlier than ever expected. He’d rather it was someone else standing in his shoes right now, but a promise is a promise. The morning sun on the rise, the beauty of another day distracting his fearful eyes. He was scared, tired and from this day forth, alone. He stood for a moment, placing his body weight on his shovel, the sweat and dirt that covered his face disguised his pale sickly complexion. He knew the black cars would roll up soon, holding his life in a box. His mother used to say “for every tear you cry, will be returned when you die” but his tears were gone, dried up and forgotten just like him. He had anger, he had pain, but he didn’t have the energy. His arms had become heavy, his heart in his throat as he saw the reflection of the sun on the leading car. Today is a day he will always remember, for today was the day this now lonely grave digger had to dig a hole for his own wife. A promise is a promise.

February 21, 2012

So here it is . . . . my Writers & Artists 2012 competition entry

Filed under: My Work — Tags: , , , , , , , , — mitchellsmustard @ 6:46 pm

Also Known As

Nothing strikes despair within like watching your girlfriend cry your name in fear and pain but being just out of reach, eye watering strength doesn’t get you any closer just like a vacant prayer. Its strange how atheists turn to a higher power in such moments like it’s their one last chance. The feeling of my heart in my throat chokes down the pride, why care what people think right now because she needs me. Seeing the disbelief in her face and the reflection of life in the whites of her bulging eyes, the way her hair dances in slow motion around her panicked features. Everything seems slower under water but time will never be on my side, watching bubbles of life leave the lips I kissed just minutes before we hit. Panic hits me as she starts to relax on the other side of the window, I kick and punch but the window just won’t budge. Is it the water that’s sending her to sleep or my inability to save her in this situation? Remembering when three addictive words passed your lips for the first time, on the other side of this window those lips are now turning blue. It was my job to protect her, not endanger. Why did I have to drive? I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the window and realise how old I look, stirring to see her hand against my reflection. Palm spread against the transparent water cell. She mouths those three addictive words like she and the water have a silent understanding; they will be her last words so better make them count. No one can see tears under water but sometimes you just know they’re there, an empty stare as her body starts to dance just like her hair. The car and I start to part as it carries on sinking and my lungs start to burn, the car disappears as the bottom of the river becomes dark. Panic . . . . A huge intake of air. . . . No scream . . . . Sat bolt upright.

My nightmare is a cruel reminder of the past, creeping up when I’m at my weakest to rattle my bones like a toy. My bed sheets seem to learn a new constricting body hold each night whilst trying to find a way of making us become one. Sticky heat and sweaty pores used to be a summer rarity in my bed but now it’s the only way I know. I can get used to the clammy start to the day but the nightmares, the feeling that my heart is about to make an appearance through my chest never seems to be acceptable or feel like normality in the morning. I slowly shed my second skin to head towards the bathroom in slight fear of turning on the eye blistering light. Plucking up the courage whilst my hand is on the light cord I count to three. 1. . 2 . . 3. . The light exploded in to life and like every explosion you are left with the aftermath, the debris that needs clearing, the injuries that need attention and the surroundings that need reassurance. All this devastation behind one pair of eyes. I look into the mirror knowing what’s going to be staring back at me. The bathroom looks a mess, I look a mess and my life is a mess.

Melissa, even her name rolled off the tongue oozing with sexuality and confidence. She was what’s known as a true muse to my lost way of existence, an inspiration to do what’s right in this world of wrong doings. On the night of our four year anniversary we went to her favourite restaurant on cobbled streets in the heart of Cambridge, as always it was amazing food with great atmosphere. The entertainment was from the regular pianist we had got to know over the years who had become a good friend. He was an aging man with the heart and soul of a teen, plunging his fingers on notes that could stop you in your tracks or tap your foot without effort depending on his mood. We discussed our future. Discussed our love for each other and laughed about our plans.  This was the night she happily told me good news she was expecting our first child; this isn’t the reason I will always remember that night. I will always remember that night because that was the night I killed her.

Watching the light behind her eyes extinguish no more than a metre away, imprinting that image into my soul. After her empty shell had descended to the bottom of the river my only logical thought was to leave, get away. I knew it wouldn’t be long before they would come looking for me. I wouldn’t have the answers to their questions. They would never understand that question after question about losing my world to a murky river would send me over the edge. I wanted to swim down to find her, hold her, open my eyes and realise it was only a horrible trick from a playful night time mind. I could hold her body in mine and just drift with her, we could both slowly submerge to another existence but I was proving to be a coward. My guilt wanted me to live, to have this story and to be punished for my own decisions.

Standing in this bathroom where the tiled walls had an off white tinge, the smell of untreated mould was unbearable. I looked a gaunt version of myself in the mirror; my reflection reminded me of the junkies that lived in the alleyway behind our flat. She always used to say they looked like they wanted to be someone else, that’s what I needed to do, lose my identity, lose me. It wasn’t safe being me in this current setting. Handing myself in wasn’t an option. I knew I should, if not for her family then mine but I was scared. She wasn’t here to help me anymore; she would have known what to do. I knew nothing about losing who I was, to lose how I looked; all I could do was go into hiding. I found a motel that didn’t need my name as long as I was paying in cash, unfortunately the place looked and felt like somewhere you would only find people who had no identity. Ideal for me as I didn’t want to be found, it was what I needed but couldn’t be further from what I wanted.

She was so wonderful; I can picture her smiling in the restaurant. The beautiful black dress and diamond necklace that complimented her pale skin, I can see her in slow motion, slightly blurred like an old film recording. She had the most amazing smile, the smile that always kept my attention. I always knew whatever problems came our way her smile would defeat and conquer, I needed that smile now. From the celebration of news that I was going to be a father I decided to have a drink for the occasion, I should have made the decision to get a taxi home. Playing over and over in my head but I can’t change it, clearly not ready to take responsibility of fatherhood due to poor judgement that evening. I’ll always be paying the price.

We decided to take the back roads home coming out of Cambridge. Both feeling excited about what is yet to come of our lives we were joking and laughing on our way back. Right at that moment I felt invincible, nothing was going to stop this beautiful woman and I enjoy life. Distracted by the sweet sound of her voice and laughter I misjudged the unlit corner next to a river in a little village. The seconds it took for the car to leave the road and hit the water felt like minutes, the bank was raised so the car lifted off like it was from a ramp. Seeing the fear in her face, the smile had gone.

The rush of cold water against my skin paralysed my thoughts and common sense, panic set in and survival became all that’s known. I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt when we hit, I never did like wearing them and she hated that about me. Under the water I was on the outside of the car looking in on her; I must have been thrown through my window. I had it open a little just to let fresh air into the car. As much as I tell myself that playing it over and over in my head won’t change what’s happened I still do it, my biggest fear playing on a broken record.

I felt dirtier stepping out of the shower than before I stepped into it. I was getting used to the wet dog smell from the complementary motel towels I used to dry myself off with. I sat, I paced the room. I had nothing but memories to keep me occupied. I sat and stared at a picture of Melissa that still haunted a compartment in my wallet. She was sat with a smile just like times before, a figure with his arm around her belonging to someone I used to recognise. Some mornings I would find myself styling my hair like the man in the photo to see if I could strengthen the recognition but the beard on my face would just confuse the moment. These days it just felt like an identity was slowly drifting in to the past, hidden by the beard and lack of sleep. By looking at the couple in the photo it was hard to believe I could have ever found myself in a situation like them, they were becoming strangers and the picture could well have been cut from the back of a magazine.

I could hear the sirens whilst I lay on my bed, my body felt like stone. The sirens were louder than ever before but my body seemed to ignore the pounding of my heart. I could feel my heart pound in my head; the pounding seemed to match the sound coming from the door.  I lay staring at the ceiling thinking of the other side. As I heard people shouting out in the hall way I just thought of her smile. I didn’t react when the door was forced off of its hinges. I didn’t react when the room was filled with uniformed police. Losing my own identity meant I started to lose the memories of her, she was part of the figure I recognised in the photo not part of the man I had become.

“Is this him?” said one officer,

“Yeah this is him . . .  also known as Dan Mitchell” the other officer replied whilst dropping the wallet in a plastic bag.

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