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Welcome, friends old and new, to my blog. This is the place where I can share my scribblings and thoughts on loving life. I hope you enjoy them, make suggestions and come back to read more.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

A Question of Balance

I've got some good news and some bad news. 

First, for all you pessimists and 'glass-half-empty' types, the bad news: Friday Five will be late this week. Life got in the way of blogging (curses!) and my nifty little digest will have to become a Saturday Six. Or even a Sunday Seven (you know my procrastination habits of old).

Now for the good news: Stamp has finished bubbling and now needs to be left to cool before the final edit, soooooo I got busy on my next project. Because I love you, (yes, even you there in your Eeyore pyjamas and matching slippers- I don't judge) I thought I'd let you see it first. I know I spoil you, but you're worth it. Now flip your hair and get reading. 

A Flip of the Coin

He hadn’t expected it to be like this.
The harsh neon light reflected painfully from the sterile green walls and stung his watery eyes, causing him to squint through his eyelashes. The scent of bleach and flowers tried, but failed, to mask the underlying odour of defecation and death. He wasn’t sure what he had expected. A hand, warm against his cold and paper-thin skin, held his own gently, dutifully. After a long and interesting life, James Edward Bailey waited for the end, not with fear or trepidation, but with patience. At least he was not alone.
The silence was heavy, broken only by his own laboured breathing and the rhythmic tick of a cheap plastic clock on the wall. It was like a countdown. He wondered how many minutes he had left, how many aching inhalations and exhalations. Not many. The shadow of pain in his chest told him that. He turned his head to look at his silent companion, unmoving and bent over his withered hand. It wasn’t anybody he recognised. He wondered if his children had visited, wondered if they would visit. He hadn’t seen them for a long time.
The figure sensed his movement and raised its head. It was a man. His face was pale and lined, but kind. His hair, like his eyes, was dark and soft. He met his gaze and smiled weakly at the stranger. He wondered who he was, and why he was here with him. He moistened his dry lips and spoke.
“Do I know you?” His voice sounded weak and frail, like it had no life left. He remembered when it had boomed. The stranger shook his head.
“No, Jimmy, but I know you.” He laid his other hand over Jimmy’s and his fingers stroked soothingly as he answered; they were bone-thin but comforting. Jimmy imagined his skin whispered like sheets of parchment where it was touched. “I will be here for you.”
“That’s very… kind of you.”
“It’s what I do.” The stranger smiled. Jimmy searched through his foggy memory for any recollection of his face. The morphine had numbed his brain. He remembered when it had been so sharp. He couldn’t place him.
“What is your name?” Jimmy wheezed.
“I have many names. Some call me Thanatos, some the Grey Walker, others Anubis.” He paused and looked directly into his eyes. “I imagine you would know me better as Death.”
Jimmy gasped, a rattling sound that vibrated through his frail body. Was this some kind of joke? He peered at the stranger’s pallid, drawn face and knew that it was not. Death had come for him.
“I’ve never been much of a believer,” Jimmy began. Death smiled again.
“I know. I know everything about you. I know everything.”
Jimmy didn’t know whether he found that comforting or not. He shifted slightly and tried to sit up. He couldn’t. He remembered when he had been strong. Death made hushing sounds and shook his head.
“Relax. It won’t be long now. It’s almost time.”
Jimmy let his head fall back onto the pillow. His heart, weakened by time and cigarettes, tapped quickly in his chest. He wasn’t sure what he had expected. His visits to church had been limited to obligatory christenings, weddings and, more frequently in the last years, funerals. He didn’t believe in God, or Heaven. He’d had no time for religion. Not like Emily.
He smiled as he thought of her. Emily. His beautiful wife. His one loyal supporter. They’d met in an office where she’d been a secretary and he a caretaker. She’d given him an ear-bashing over some shoddy repair work and he’d invited her out to dinner to apologise. They’d been married three months later, when the spring blossom fell from the trees like the confetti that no one could afford.
He’d never really recovered after her death from cancer six years previously. He’d sat by a hospital bed, watching her fade away before his eyes, feeling a flame inside him gutter and perish. He seldom cried, but he had wept that day, knowing she was gone forever.
“Will I see her again?” he asked Death. Death knew who he meant. He gestured to the other side of the bed.
“She’s here now.”
Jimmy turned his head, and his eyes opened wide in wonder. To his right, radiant with youth and love, sat his Emily. Her golden hair was thick and lustrous, and her skin glowed a soft pink. Her lips formed a smile like a rose blooming as she took his hand and pressed her cheek to it.
“Jimmy,” she sighed. “I’ve waited so long for you to see me again.” She raised her head and beamed at him. Jimmy whispered her name as he strained his fingers to grasp hers more firmly. He winced automatically as the slight movement tugged the plastic tube that fed him morphine through his bruised and collapsing veins, surrounded by mottled and dry flesh. He tore his eyes away and back to Death.
“I was wrong? About the afterlife? There is a Heaven?”
Death shrugged.
“Of sorts. People make their own Heaven. And Hell.”
“Which one will I go to?”
“That depends.”
“On what? On whether I believe?” Jimmy began to feel desperate. “Because I do! I believe!”
“It’s not that simple.” Death withdrew his hand from Jimmy’s and reached into his pocket. Jimmy noticed, for the first time, that Death was wearing jeans and a hooded jumper. His hand returned, closed over something small. He stood and stretched out his arm, holding his closed fist in front of Jimmy’s face. From the corner of his eye, Jimmy saw that Emily’s brow creased anxiously.
Death opened his fingers slowly. A shiny silver coin gleamed on his upturned palm. 

What do you think so far?


  1. Fantastic, but what a cruel place to end the preview! I need to know what happens next...

    1. 'evil cackle' It's a WIP so I'll let you know...

  2. stumbled upon this while flicking through my feed. happy stumble for me.I'm liking this and will therefore, add myself to your list of followers. It's a win-win. You get a new folloeer. I, eventually get a new tale to enjoy. Sorry, but I believe my win somewhat eclipses yours :-)

    1. I can't argue with logic like that! Welcome to the clan; I hope you like cake : )


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