Archive for the ‘short story’ Tag

The last goodbye (short story)

They both knew, at best, it might be months before they would see each other again, as they sat in the airport chatting about the good times they’d shared over the past 12 weeks. Of course neither would admit it at the time, they just joked, laughed and bantered the time away until John’s flight was called, kidding each other that he’d be back in no time. A long lingering hug and a cheery wave goodbye and that was it. Julia stood rooted to the same spot for minutes, gazing into the distance after her lover. The man she adored had just got on a plane bound for the good old US of A, heading back to New York.

How had she let herself fall in love with this man? What on earth was she thinking? But that was just it; she hadn’t been thinking when she bumped into a tall, dark stranger a few months ago at a works party. She was captivated by his accent, sense of humour and engaging smile. He was so easy to talk to and right then she’d wished the whole roomful of people would just disappear so they could be left alone.  Of course it didn’t work like that, she was there with her boss and had to do her bit networking on behalf of the company. She remembered that night. How both of them couldn’t take their eyes off each other. It didn’t seem to matter where she went or how many people she talked to, she’d look up and there he was, smiling.

She didn’t know at the time how that chance meeting would turn her world upside down. Quite out of character, she’d given him her number that night, not really expecting him to get in touch. Imagine her surprise when she picked up her phone the next morning only to hear his deep, seductive voice. He wasted no time in asking her out and they hadn’t spent a night away from each other since.

He was in London on business, so she knew from the start that there would come a time when he had to go back to the States. Back to his family. Oh yes, she had become the other woman and although she loathed herself for falling for a married man she couldn’t end it.
As she walked away from the airport she wished he’d be back soon, but didn’t see how. After all he had been completely honest about his commitments right from the start, but she still hoped. She slowly drove home in a daze, parked the car on the drive, went in and switched on the visual Valium to distract her from her melancholy. She tried to focus on the possibility of seeing him again on his next trip to the UK, whenever that might be.

Just then, a news flash brought her thoughts abruptly back into the room as the presenter announced Flight 6061 to New York had crashed into the ocean, with all passengers and crew feared lost. She sat in numb disbelief. She had always believed she would see him again, but now she knew, John was gone forever. It was never meant to have happened this way.

© Jacky Leonard 2015

Authors Notes
Written at a Montpellier Writers Group session

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A night time stroll

Night had fallen across the Cotswolds, when I took my last walk of the day with my dog, Boots, a small border collie. She was the runt and the black sheep of the litter so we have a real affinity as I often think of myself the same way. Although I’m the eldest of 3, I’m the shortest and the one that has the most unconventional lifestyle.

Anyway, back to our walk. We headed up the lane towards the graveyard; not my usual route, but something drew me towards the silhouette of the church. Boots didn’t mind where we walked, she just wanted to be outside, in her usual place, just ahead of me, leading me up the lane. It was a particularly dark night – almost starless so I only caught glimpses of Boots as she went on ahead of me. My torchlight caught the white patches on her coat and the whites of her eyes each time she came back to round me up, before she darted off again to find interesting new smells.

“Have a heart Boots, Hang on, wait for me” I yelled. This caused her to pause and loiter while I caught up. I sometimes think she does this rather begrudgingly just to humour me and make me believe that I’m in charge. I was particularly slow this evening as my thigh was stiff and sore after a recent badminton match. The adage the older I get the better I was seems apt for me now.

I don’t usually go into the churchyard as you have to put dogs on a lead and Boots isn’t keen on that, but as it was so late I snuck her in. It’s about as rebellious as I get these days. As I walked past the old tombstones I noticed that some were in a poor state of repair, so much so that it was quite difficult to read the inscriptions on a number of them.

Just then something spooked Boots, she yelped and jumped sideways. This happens often and there’s never anything there. I’m convinced she has a sixth sense and sees dead things, so her behaviour doesn’t faze me anymore.

I then spotted a stone I’d never seen before so I limped over to look…the inscription read…
Hear lies the body of Daisy Chain
Only her body they took her brain!
Not just her brain, they took her head
No wonder the poor woman’s dead!

[© Jacky Leonard 2010]

Bats in the attic

“There are bats in the attic,” said Michael as he descended the grand staircase of the old mansion house.

“How do you know asked Matilda?”

“I’ve seen them, great big black furry things,” he said. “All hanging upside down like little suspended Dracula’s; I’d avoid the area like the plague if I were you.”

His sister seemed unconvinced.  If anything it was now more likely that Matilda would climb the several flights of stairs to explore the upper regions of the building.  Not that she particularly cared for attics or bats for that matter, but she now felt more inclined to go since her brother had thrown down the gauntlet and dared her not to.  And Matilda was not one to listen to any of Michael’s advice, regardless of how well meaning its intention.

“Don’t be daft Michael, it’s just a room, I’m not scared of a few furry flying things; houses like this are supposed to have bats in the attic aren’t they?  Why don’t we go up there now and take a good look around?”

“OK then, if you’re absolutely sure, but don’t come crying to me if they flap around your head and crawl into your hair,” said her brother.

So they climbed the staircase onto the first floor landing and continued up the next until they reached the smaller staircase leading to the third floor.  As they ascended they heard rustling a flapping overhead.

“Do you believe me now?” Asked Michael.

“I didn’t disbelieve you; I just want to see them for myself” said Matilda, who was positioned behind her brother on the staircase.

“You go first then” he suggested.

“No, it’s OK you’ve been up here before so I think I should stay behind you for now” she responded.

They felt a chill in the air as they entered the attic and strained their eyes to see through the darkness beyond the doorway.  All of a sudden the door slammed behind them, creating mayhem in the room.  The bats clearly took umbrage at being disturbed at this time of day and showed their agitation by flying in frantic circles around the children’s heads.  This caused Matilda and Michael to panic and run around in ever decreasing circles until they bumped into each other.  They headed for a light at the end of the room thinking it was the door, pushed on by the constant flapping of bats.

Matilda had now had enough, she began screaming hysterically, grasping onto her brothers arm for dear life.  There seemed to be no escape.  She wished she had never come here; she waved her arms around above her head trying in vain to keep the horrid flying rats away, but to no avail.

Her brother was no help either he had gone very quiet, other than the odd grunt of exertion as he ducked and waved to try to keep the bats at bay.

The bats seemed to grow in number and were now herding them towards the light.  The last thing they saw as they fell through the open window to their death on the concrete patio below was the black cloud of bats above them.

Just then, Michael and Matilda’s parent’s arrived at the door of the attic, summoned by their daughters screams. They opened the door and looked towards the window; it was open, clearly the children had gone.

(Jacky Leonard © 2010)