Bad Memory by
J.J. Deur (4,738
My wife speaks in a hushed
voice. I’m of a higher standard - a loud one! She cannot stand anybody’s loud
voice. In the presence of loud speakers, her hands, on their own, travel where
her ears are. She cups them there, and holds her head pretending to have a
I cannot stand her low voice. She asks me to lower my voice. I ask her to raise
hers. She fails, most of the time, to follow my suggestion of speaking up.
I forget to lower my voice because of the plain fact that I don’t hear myself
and, when I don’t hear myself speaking, how would others hear me, I tell her. Of
course, I pretend that my hearing is equal to a ninety year old person.
She keeps repeating her mantra that I am too loud and the neighbors hear
everything I say or argue about.
I offer her a linguistic compromise: Let us speak only in our native tongue and
no neighbor will understand. She tells me that English is comfortable enough for
her and, besides that, certain words from our mother tongue have disappeared in
time from her vocabulary, due to our living so many years abroad.
I egg her on; “Then read the newspapers from back home on-line.”
She says: “I would if you give me some computer time!”
I said:” I forget, why don’t you ask?”
“When I do, you don’t hear me! When you do hear me, you forget!”
One week ago, what sounded to me like a whisper and, to my wife, sounded as the
normal speaking tone of voice; supposedly she told me that the next Saturday
we'd be going to have two important events to tend to, in a probably short frame
of time. According to her, this is what she said that she had said, and I think
she whispered: “Don’t forget, we’ll have to go to Woodside to bring the cargo to
K&K Freight Forwarding Services there and, after that, we’ll have a wedding to
attend, in New Jersey.”
The Snow Angels by Paul
It had been an amazing year,
a life changing year, a year never to be forgotten, beginning with love at first
sight and ending with a miracle.
It all began, of course, as all years do, on New Year’s Day. You might think
that very little occurs, let alone starts, on New Year’s Day as everyone is
either nursing a hangover or is just too tired to even contemplate participation
in anything very much at all. Now, that may well be true for some, but not for
For me, New Year’s Day is no different to any other day of the year … after all,
isn’t every day the first day of another year? You might deduce from this that
if I have such disdain for the first day of the year that my feeling for the
last day of the old year might be likewise, and you would be right.
I am, and always have been, a Christmas person, I love every aspect of that
season … but New Years Eve has always left me cold. In fact, I dislike every
thing about it. I hate the crowded pubs, the noisy house parties, “old lang syne”,
first footing and, of course, the bloody fireworks.
I always spent the evening with likeminded people, namely, my younger brother,
Greg, eating Chinese takeaway and watching DVDS. We would prefer to go out to
eat but, to go anywhere decent, you have to book at Easter.
On the other hand, my friends, Dave and his wife, Emma, loved New Years Eve but
didn’t celebrate it for quite different reasons. Dave worked shifts as a porter
at the local hospital. He’d been there since he left school, which was nearly
fifteen years. It didn’t pay well but he really loved it. As a family man he
always managed to trade shifts so he had Christmas off but subsequently he
always had to work New Years Eve.
Emma was a housewife or homemaker, or domestic goddess, or whatever the pc speak
is. She had worked at the hospital as well until she fell pregnant with their
first child. Now they had three boys, all under 5 years old, so she never had
So, with all those in mind who do not participate in the Old years night rituals
either by design, as in my case, or by circumstance, as with Dave and Emma, I
set the scene for this tale. With all that said, let’s get back to the beginning
of the story, the start of that amazing year.
It was New Year’s Day and I was invited to spend the evening with my good
friends, the Parkers, for one of Emma’s wonderful dinners … a culinary
experience for which I would have gladly paid a king’s ransom but for which the
only charge, to me, was my attendance. Well, as the saying goes, “there’s no
such thing as a free lunch” and that goes for dinner as well.
I was a bachelor and happy to be so. I was comfortable in my own company. I
liked my life, I could do what I wanted when I wanted and I had a good job
which paid well and allowed me to indulge myself, if I wanted to.
This, for Dave and Emma, was an alien concept. They were a couple and were
happy, ergo I was single and therefore must be unhappy. So every time they had a
dinner party, a picnic or BBQ, there was always some poor, unfortunate,
unattached female guest who was propelled towards me. Even at their wedding they
tried to pair me up with the matron of honour’s younger sister.
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The House Guest by Paul
Curtis (12,154 words)
Chestnut Cottage is a rather
quaint, Tudor thatched dwelling with its white walls and black oak timbers, rose covered lych-gate and a wishing well in the garden. It is very much the
stereo typical “chocolate box” image of an English country cottage.
It’s in a fairly remote area situated at the end of Vicarage Lane, some half a
mile from the church and about a mile from Appleby village itself.
My name is Harry Tyler and I lived in the cottage for more than twenty years and,
by the time summer came to an end, I had been in residence another eight months
after I died.
Not in a physical sense, my body did not lie undiscovered, decomposing in my
armchair; I was found and dealt with in the proper manner.
At the time I was happy enough to die though I took no hand in it, I hasten to
add. I died of natural causes.
The last year of my life was a mere existence after the death of my dear wife,
We had no children of our own and what other family that were left, we were not
Rose and I had been happily married for 47 years. We retired to Appleby
village and we had such a nice life together. She was my conduit to the world;
she was the interface that connected me to people. After she was gone, it was
like being stranded in a foreign land without a translator.
To find myself alone in the world, at the age of seventy four, filled me with
dread so I withdrew into the safety of the cottage and became very reclusive, only venturing out when I had to.
When I died, I thought I would be reunited
with my Rose again. But I remained in the cottage and she was nowhere to be
I spent every day confined to the cottage and garden, the same prison I confined
myself to before I died.
In many ways it was no different to when I was alive except I didn’t have to
eat or drink. Nor did I have to wash or comb my hair or trim my beard and, of
course, I didn’t feel anything. I was exactly as I was when I died … a fat, old
man with white hair and a beard, wearing the same clothes I had on when I
breathed my last.
I hoped to God I didn’t have to spend eternity wearing that awful red jumper. I
hated that jumper. The only reason I was wearing it at all was that my
favourite one was still damp and I didn’t want to catch a chill. If I had
realised I was going to pop my clogs anyway, I would have worn the other one.
So there I stood a fat, white bearded, old man wearing a red sweater that made
me look like an off duty Santa Claus. I didn’t understand why I was still there;
I didn’t want to be there I wanted to be with Rose. I thought there must be
something I had to do in order that I could move on but, at that time, I had no
idea what that something might have been.
On the first of September, I thought, "today is not like any other day, today
things are going to change". I was standing in what used to be the bedroom Rose
and I shared and I was looking out through the window at the unfolding scene
A removal truck had just come to a stop in the lane and a small, blue car parked
a suitable distance behind it. The driver of the car slowly got out and
walked towards the gate, pausing briefly to speak to the removal men who were
lowering the tail board. She walked through the gate and down the long winding
She was an attractive, young woman, late twenties or probably early thirties,
petite with shoulder length, black hair that shimmered with a hint of blue, like
a raven’s wing, and she walked awkwardly with a stick in her right hand.