Lesley eyed the building while she polished the antiques. Its bleak façade hung like a gaping maw; rotted teeth below empty sockets, and its tongue rolled rock-strewn into the river.
Her gaze returned to inspect the wares on the windowsill; all polished and shiny, ready for another day of business. Lesley knew though, that by morning they would all be tarnished again.
That night, as every night, Hell’s presence rose through the devil’s portal, imparting its ancient malice into the water. Fetid fumes seeped up river banks, swarmed over trees and bled into buildings, coating everything in a dark patina.
Erica slung the beanbag over her back and declared that she was going to be a hobo and live on a train. It didn’t matter that the beanbag was as big as her, or that it was missing the stick, or that it really wasn’t a sack at all. However, it was purple with white spots and that was enough of a spark.
I stopped washing dishes and looked at her. All she needed was a pair of baggy trousers with old suspenders and a cloth cap, and I laughed; she had a vivid imagination.
Michelle had never liked Tears for Fears; what kind of a name was Roland Orzabal anyway? Here she was nearly three decades later in the music room at her parents’ home, how ironic that it was her responsibility to sort through the rubbish since, well….she dinged a cymbal with her fingernail and chortled.
Her father had belittled her when it became clear that she was not the least bit interested in music; her mother always kept a frigid distance. So Michelle became a lawyer and a very good one, who’d just sent her parents to jail for tax fraud.
At twelve I lived in a pointy-roofed home on the corner of Bearsdown Road and Coltsfield Close in Plymouth, England. It had a gigantic swath of grass bordered by a concrete wall that ran at least fifty feet, and was favored by local hoodlums who’d hide their cigarettes under the loose bricks.
During this particular year, my Dad was away at sea with the Navy. My Mum continued making wine in the fermenters under the stairs, and at dinner times we’d turn the telly around to watch American sitcoms Bewitched or Alice.
It was the year that I got my ears pierced. Four years before the age my parents had originally agreed upon but with the authoritarian figure absent, it was easy to wear away at my Mum’s resolve.
That was a turbulent year. Mistakes were made by both of us. The best parts of it belonged with our cat, Jenny Muffin, who would snuggle with me under the blankets at bedtime. She’d curl up against my stomach and we’d both fall asleep warm and cozy.
It’s mediocre she thought, trailing a varnished red-tipped finger around the edge of ingress. She took a disinterested peek into the rest of the room; saw a shallow tub, a plain wash basin and other things typical of the dimension.
But the walls are bare, and who could surrender under such bright light? Where are the candles; the sumptuous colors? So restrained, so…human.
She turned to survey her own world. She was naked. Steam undulated around her as she walked. Others like her engaged in deeply sexual acts within enormous claw-foot baths.
Marcus and Jane hadn’t vacationed in years, so when Marcus’ grandfather died, leaving his grandson a substantial donation, the couple first invested in college funds for the kids. Then they booked a holiday in Hawaii. It meant connections and long distances, but neither cared; they were kid-free and ready for alone time. They rested their eyes and sighed.
Abruptly, shouting erupted near the cockpit; urgent; demanding. The plane pitched downward.
Marcus had never felt such immediate, gripping fear. Strangers shrieked; wailing mothers hugged babies; a man with a bloody knife stumbled by.
Marcus clutched Jane until forces ripped them apart.
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