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Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Stamp- part seven

Hello again and welcome to my Wednesday WIP.

I've been busy editing "Stamp" and working on "A Flip of the Coin" this week, in between schoolwork, snow-sculpting and car trouble. For once, I've set myself a deadline that I might actually keep in finishing my short story collection by the end of March. All but one story is drafted, and I'm making good use of my wonderful beta-readers to keep on top of edits and improvements. I'm feeling very organised, which is a bad sign. Plate-spinning is not normally my strength but maybe this old dog (easy now) is learning a few new tricks after all!

Anyway, enough about me. I know why you're here today. You want to find out what happens next, right? You've read about Ben and his fall-out with Tim, and you're wondering if they'll ever be friends again, and how Ben's life is working out post-Cassie. Most of all, you're wondering what the stamp is for... read on for another piece of the puzzle.

Stamp part seven

He was too busy to call Tim over the next couple of months, and Tim didn’t seem too worried about calling him either. Even though it was what Ben had expected, and even wanted, the death of their friendship stung. He buried himself in work, burning the candle at both ends and living life to the full, trying to fill the increasing emptiness inside him with alcohol and one-night stands. He knew he was becoming a cliché. He drove the length and breadth of Britain to secure deals, and spent his nights in a succession of glamorous clubs and swanky parties, with a different girl on his arm every time. His commissions grew larger, and his car was upgraded.

Jack was delighted with him and said he was the best dealer the company had ever had. There was talk of sending him abroad- all expenses paid, naturally- to make deals with the larger recording companies that had taken an interest in remastering and rereleasing some of their rarer finds. Ben revelled in his success, but felt sad he had no-one to share it with.

He started thinking about Cassie again. It had only been one night, but she was different- special. He found that he was comparing the beautiful women that threw himself at him with her, and finding them not up to her standard. They didn’t have her perfect mouth, or delectable smell. He wondered how he might find her. He had more to offer her now- this time she might stay.

He searched the internet for models named Cassie or Cassandra but, as lovely as the images he saw were, none of them was the girl he was looking for. He went back to the place where he thought the club had been, time and time again, but he could not find it. He became obsessed with the idea of seeing her again, and imagined her honey-golden eyes smiling up at him as she wrapped her arms around his neck. He looked for her everywhere, his eyes scanning crowds in the hope of spotting her perfect features amongst the faces. She remained elusive. The only proof of her was stamped on his hand. The black ink was a constant reminder of that night, his only link to her.

He even went back to the website he had found while looking for ways to remove the stamp, but it offered no leads; the dwindling posts did, however, throw up something unexpected. There was something happening with the numbers, and it was happening to a lot of people.

He read, with wide eyes, post after post talking about the numbers- and their meaning. They were dates. One post from a woman saying her boyfriend had proposed unexpectedly on the date stamped on her hand. Another, who had won a promotion. Still more, with photos to prove their claims, linking the date stamps with significant and life-changing events. A baby, four days early- a record deal- a publishing contract- the list went on.

Ben read the stories and peered at the blurry images taken with mobile phones and felt his heart lift. He’d known all along there was something special about the numbers. Now there was proof. They were lucky. He’d had nothing but good fortune since he was stamped- was it possible that his date would bring something even better? He pulled back his long sleeve and read them again, although he knew them by heart after months of seeing them.

23052013. The 23rd of May, 2013. It was April. Just over a month to go. He stroked the black ink as he considered the possibilities. Promotion? Possible. Baby? Unlikely- or at least he hoped so; he wasn’t aware of fathering any children eight months ago. A proposal? No- he froze as an image of Cassie’s laughing face flashed across his mind. Could it be..? Could it be the date he would meet Cassie again? A warm glow spread across him as he contemplated the idea. It would be almost too perfect- poetic even. A significant and life-changing event.

He glanced over at the calendar on the wall. It was the 14th of April. Three days before Tim’s date. He had to tell him. It was nearly midnight but he grabbed his phone and pressed the speed-dial option. He hadn’t spoken to Tim in months but he couldn’t let him miss out on this...

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