What’s in a Name?


whats in a name

(600 words)

Dr. Rowina Scott stood at an enormous round window, gazing in awe at the towering pyramidal blocks a thousand stories high that dominated the city. She never grew tired of looking at them nor ceased to wonder at their immensity. Multi-coloured sky pods darted around and between them. A bleep from her pager jolted her out of her reverie. The director, Dr. Abraham Klein, wished to see her urgently. What the hell did the old bugger want?
She knocked softly and entered the chamber. Klein’s office was circular and enormous, and painted in brilliant white. Huge oval windows in the ceiling far above showed a cerulean sky dotted with small white clouds. Dr. Klein did not look happy, she thought.
“Take a seat, Dr. Scott.” Klein gestured to a sumptuous white chair and retreated behind his desk. He sat down and rested his chin on the inverted ‘V’ of his fingertips. “It’s about the Oceanic Integrity Committee.”
Rowina crossed her legs, admiring her slim calves, trim ankles and painted toe nails. The hours on the treadmill were paying off, much as she disliked the old-fashioned methods. “Yes?”
“It’s being headed up by Professor Yasarin.”
“What!” Rowina almost exploded. She stood up, put both hands on the edge of the enormous desk and looked Dr. Klein directly in the eyes. “What the hell are you saying?”
Dr. Abraham Klein’s eyes wavered, looked down at the polished amboyna burl, then, bracing himself, back into Rowena’s. “Look, I knew you wouldn’t be happy.”
“You can say that again!”
“He’s a changed man, into environmental conservation, reforestation, breeding endangered species, stricter emission controls ….”
“For Chrissakes. If he’d got his way at the 2030 climate summit, we’d all have drowned in our beds by now!”
“Look, he was wrong, we all know he was wrong; he openly admits he was wrong. Anyone can make a mistake.”
“Oh, opposing anyone and everyone who argued for emission controls for ten years. A mistake!”
“Now, now, Dr. Scott, listen to the man. Be reasonable.” A smooth voice with a hint of Russian accent came from behind.
Rowena whirled around, surprised. The man had entered the chamber soundlessly.
Professor Yasarin adjusted silver-rimmed glasses on his Roman nose. She had to admit he was quite handsome, in that cruel Gulag-commandant way. She could feel his eyes scanning over her, undressing her mentally. “Dr. Scott, er, Rowena, if I may be so bold. Look, I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye.”
“Pfft!”
“But, look, things have changed, I myself have changed, and now I want you onboard. Onboard as someone on the committee I can trust to make the right decisions. The right decisions to care for our oceans.”
“OK, well, look, they’ll come at a price.” Rowena looked from Professor Yasarin to Dr. Klein and back to the professor.
The professor took a seat and put his head back, staring at the distant ceiling. “Yes?”
She continued, “One, I get the right of veto, two, I move to the office on the top floor, and three, er, I want the next research vessel named after me.”
The professor laughed. “Is that all?” whilst Dr. Klein made a noise like a fart.
Rowena looked down at her holographic nails, watching seagulls fly. “Uh huh.”
“Well, my dear, I’ll tell you what. Why don’t I take you out for dinner and we can discuss it?”
Rowena looked from Klein’s apoplectic visage to Professor Yasarin. She noticed his teeth were white and straight, something she always looked for in a lover. “Well, I’m free tonight.”

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Deaf Date


sign language

(500 words)

As a man who’d been almost stone-deaf since birth, meeting women was something out of Christian Brown’s comfort zone. They may have smiled, but from their eyes, and replies, he knew he was less than intelligible.
Now he was shown to a seat in the Koh-I-Noor restaurant. He took a deep breath and looked around at the mainly empty seats, then at his watch. 7.55 p.m. His councillor and psychologist, Susan, had arranged a blind date for him with a lady called Stephanie. She’d told him nothing about her, just that she was attractive, divorced and in her early forties.
But he trusted Susan. Over the past three years, she’d helped him gain social skills and a measure of confidence. Looking in the mirror, he recognised his good looks, despite the hearing aids behind both ears.
A woman with a white stick and sunglasses passed his table, aided by a waiter. “Are you Christian?” he enquired.
Hearing the dull thudding of his own voice, Christian responded that he was Church of England. He must have been intelligible after all, as he saw the woman stifle a laugh. The waiter struggled with both Christian’s pronunciation and the joke, reiterating the question.
Christian read the lips of the woman, presumably Stephanie, as she stood at the table. “Are you Christian Brown? May I join you?” From the way she felt the table and edged around it, he realised she was blind.
Stephanie had likewise been told very little about Christian, and now sat, trying to understand his strange manner of speaking. Susan had said he had a good heart, and that was what she now needed most in a man. She asked Christian if he could lip read and heard a noise that sounded like ‘yes.’
Christian admired her long chestnut hair and judged from the parting that it was her natural colour. She had high cheekbones and perfect teeth. He felt a strong attraction building and told himself to relax, to let her feel at home with him. To his surprise, a waiter brought her a beige plastic-coated card, covered in small bumps.
Stephanie skimmed it with her fingertips. “May I have Chicken Vindaloo and Tarka Dahl, please?” She smiled in Christian’s direction, “I like things spicy!”
Christian read her lips and felt his face flush, then, with relief, realised it didn’t matter.
He felt a hand on his shoulder and turned. It was Susan, all smiles at seeing the two of them together. She gestured in sign language to him, whilst speaking it out loud for Stephanie’s benefit. “Hello, Christian, are you alright?”
Stephanie felt a kiss on her cheek and Susan’s hand on hers, and a whisper in her ear.
“Are you OK with Christian?”
They both smiled at Susan, one seeing, one unseeing, one hearing, one unhearing, realising that this wise and compassionate woman was trying her best to bring much-needed romance into both of their lives. Neither felt inclined to object.

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The Magic Roundabout


roundabout 1918-20

(500 words)

Lambda could see the lights of the supermarket through the shrubbery and across the canal, but here, on the pathway to the road, it was sparsely lit, and the adjoining children’s play area was dark and desolate. He looked around, then, with no one in sight, leapt over the six-foot fence and sat on the roundabout. He took a key ring out and played with the cold metals, toying with ideas. Finally, randomly flicking through them, ‘Fuck it,’ he thought. Holding one tight he began to kick the ground, the roundabout spinning in response. “Make the connection. Make the connection!”
Round and round. Round and round, then … he was in a colossal room with stone walls. The floor was earthen and there were gigantic wooden benches and tables. Huge logs blazed in an enormous fireplace, throwing out sparks like twinkling fireflies.
The floor began to vibrate, and something began to approach. Thud … thud … thud. A deep voice began to boom out. “Fee Fi Fo Fum.”
Lambda quickly flicked through the key ring to the glowing silver ‘home’ key. Gripping it tightly, he began the mantra, “Make the connection …”
Wham, he was back on the roundabout, which was now slowly coming to a halt. He breathed a sigh of relief. Why waste precious energy fighting an evil giant?
But at the back of his mind whirled thoughts of Jack and the Golden Goose. No, he must help elsewhere. Once more he selected a key, this time a tiny brass one. “Make the connection …”
He found himself on a vast concrete walkway, surrounded by skyscrapers. Around him were beings, they looked human, all walking the same way as him, but engrossed with small silver screens. Reflected in a ground floor window he could see himself in a red leather jacket, the others, intent on their anonymous journeys, clad in sombre blacks and browns. Then the sky went dark. Lambda looked up to see an enormous black disc above, blotting out the sky. Surprisingly, no one around him seemed to take any notice!
With one giant leap for mankind, he flew to the top of a skyscraper. There he could look directly into a lens at the bottom of the craft. Some kind of device was being readied. The kind of device that would vaporise the ‘zombies’ below, he surmised. He reached into his jacket for a small metal sphere, then into another pocket for a launcher. With practised precision he launched the nuclear seed right into the centre of the lens.
Without waiting for the fallout, literally, he once again grasped the home key. “Make the connection …”

Back on the roundabout, he noticed an approaching couple and quickly turned on his invisibility shield, hearing them laughing and swearing as they passed. He looked over at the supermarket lights. Life could be exciting as a Super Hero but he needed to eat, after all. Deciding to leave the worlds to their problems he headed to the hot chicken counter.


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Neck Snapping Time


exorcist

(600 words)

Papers clutter a desk. I pick one up and read about a man’s obsession. Seems there’s a character who enjoys killing. The description is brief. Medium height, average build, nondescript face. No distinguishing marks. Not much to go on!
But the writer describes an incident where the man strokes another man’s hair and gently, lovingly, wraps a scarf around his neck. Like a petrified mouse under the paw of a cat, the victim remains motionless. More hair-stroking, then the killer places two large, strong hands on either side of the victim’s head, a quick twist and … snap … over he goes, the lolling head smacking the floor, the lifeless body following like a piece of meat. Only thing, seems all this happens in the writer’s dreams.
I go over and stoke the fire. I want to read the full story. So, I gather the sheets from the desk, light a cigarette, and pull an easy chair up to the hearth.
Well, seems the writer had financial problems of sorts, but this character he’d encounter in his dreams would help out. The writer would tell the guy how much cash he needed and, if of a realistic nature, it would appear in his waking life. Money for the mortgage, car expenses, holidays, that kinda thing. The only thing was, seems he had to donate a proportion of the amount ‘borrowed’ to a charity to ‘repay’ the ‘loan.’ If he didn’t, well, cue neck-snapping man.
The door opens and in comes Lil. “You find anything?”
“Well seems our dear brother had funny dreams.”
“That figures.”
“No, seriously, seems he had a character he would meet in his dreams. This guy, Adam, would help him out financially. But he was a sadistic killer on the side!”
“What, you’re kidding me!”
“No, listen. ‘17th October 2019. Watched Adam snap a man’s neck like a matchstick. Turned his head round one hundred and eighty degrees, like that girl in The Exorcist. These dreams are so real. More real than when I’m awake. Saw the man’s frightened eyes in technicolour, heard his neck snap in Dolby surround sound.
Needed £300 for new tyres and dents knocking out of wheels. Well, the very next day mother phoned and said she’d dreamt I had car problems and did I need any financial help! Well, that’s £85 I need to find by the end of the month for A’s charity. Or ….’”
“Wow.”
“Wow indeed. Seems our dear brother was either off his rocker, or had supernatural help, of a kind.”
“Well, we can check his filing cabinets, bound to be bank statements and the like. Or they’ll be on his computer. Wonder if we can get into it?”
“I can’t imagine him writing passwords down anywhere findable, can you?”
Lil shrugs. “Then why would he leave papers like these lying around? And why not write them in a diary, like any normal person?”
“Well, he was hardly normal was he!”
“Look, we don’t know for certain he’s dead. He could walk through that door any minute.”
“Sure. Dream on.”
“Hey, you got a smoke?”
I toss Lil a cigarette and she inserts it into a crack in a white face surrounded by ginger curls. “Look, are we going to tell anyone about this – these ‘fantasies’?”
I sigh. “I think we must, don’t you?”
In answer, she takes the papers, taps them into a neat pile and tosses them onto the flames. “Let them find out for themselves.”
The smoke from the smouldering sheets blends with the smoke from our cigarettes and we both sit, lost in thought.

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Flip Side



solar flare 2

(600 words)

Traditional psychology can’t explain it. Well, they try to, they say it’s some kind of amnesia. I know it’s not, but they won’t listen to me. I look in the mirror and the person I see is not … me. It’s like I’ve been put in someone else’s body, not a bad one mind, and given a few sheets of A4 to learn about his history, life and work. So when Susan, my ‘wife’ comes to me and says Frank’s on the phone, I don’t have a clue who she’s on about, he wasn’t on the A4 sheets. Then she’ll get annoyed. “Look, Steven, you must go back for more tests. Stop giving them a hard time!” Mind you, she’s not bad looking though, and bedtime has been fun!
It’s no use though. I know I’m not ‘me’ if you see what I mean. Sometimes in dreams I’ll see a young woman with high cheekbones, long wavy hair, brown as chestnuts, and two kids, teenagers with tousled hair and braces on their teeth. Jake and Jenny are their names. Then there’s a dog, a black Labrador, called Rusty who likes to roll in autumn leaves and jump in the snow.
The lady, I don’t know if she’s my wife, is called Hannah. She has a laugh that reminds me of milk bottles tumbling over.
That’s who I think I am.
So I looked around and found someone, a Dr. Nightshade. He’s a ‘displaced personality specialist’. He says what I’m experiencing is not uncommon, something to do with solar flares. They can knock the ‘astral body’ out of alignment, he says. Then another personality can move in and the displaced one moves into the other body, the one just vacated. Or something like that. He calls it TPD, ‘temporal personality displacement’ on account of the fact that the astral body can travel through time as well as space. Of course, your average psychologist doesn’t believe in any of that he says, but he’s had special training, from those who ‘know’.
Anyways, he says he can fix me. He’s got a machine. Apparently he doesn’t even need to have the other person present – the ‘me’ with ‘him’ inside, if you see what I mean. He says the machine simulates the effect of a solar flare, but in reverse, so it’ll pull ‘him’ into this body and I’ll just ‘flip’ back into mine, wherever and whenever that may be. So it’ll be goodbye Susan, hello Hannah, Jake, Jenny and Rusty!
He says it’s not without risks though. Sometimes the astral body of a third person can become separated and then there’s a three way swap, or even more. He says that’s really unusual though, and he just has to run the machine a few more times until all the astral bodies are in the right people.
Well, the good Dr. Nightshade ran the machine, took my money, a load of it, and nothing happened! He says it doesn’t always work first time. To come back tomorrow. ‘Get a good night’s sleep and don’t worry,’ he says. As if!
There’s a knock on the door. Susan. She comes in but she’s changed her hair. It’s long, wavy, brown. Like chestnuts …. “Hello Sweetheart,” she says, “I thought we’d go to the park. It’s a fine day. Take the kids.” She laughs. Milk bottles tumble over.
A tousle-haired girl, lean and smiley appears at her side. She doesn’t have braces on her perfect teeth. I hear the pounding feet of what sounds like a dog racing up the stairs. “Come on dad, Rusty needs some exercise!”

Please note: this story was originally published on 3rd February 2017. To read the comments (recommended), please click HERE.

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To Unpathed Waters, Undreamed Shores


pluto

(600 words)

Giselle Brown leapt and found herself soaring into the air. She gazed out over a lake of frozen hydrocarbons, black as tar, then into the starry sky where one star, like a torch seen at the end of a tunnel, outshone all the others – the Sun.
As she reached the apex of her jump, twenty-five feet above the ground, she gazed in awe, as she always did, at the huge crescent of Charon, hanging in the dark sky, before she began to fall, gently, back to the icy surface. She glanced at her chronometer and smiled. Nearly ten seconds, her highest leap yet.
“Giselle. Can you come back; we need you.” The voice of commander Sandy Bjornstrom came in her helmet.
She felt frustration. “Why, what’s up?”
“Just come back, please – now.” The channel went silent.
She walked across to the rover, feeling her boots crunch on the frigid ground. Around her there was no sign of civilization, just boulders and ice and unswimmable lakes, languishing at minus 230 degrees Centigrade. Somewhere over the horizon lay the lights of the station and its bristling array of antennae and dishes.
They’d been sent out here, a ten-year trip, to investigate a phenomenon. A signal had been detected. A bizarre series of pulses that would start with one, then two, then three, and so on. Up to between eleven and seventeen. Then it would start all over again from one. There had been endless debate, argument and analysis, but there seemed to be no pattern to the maximum number of pulses reached. One thing was certain though; the signal emanated from somewhere on – or in – the dwarf-planet, Pluto.
Out of her suit, sipping scalding-hot coffee, she sat in the whiteness of the rec room.
Sandy bounced in. Tall, thin, flicking his parted blond hair from a pale forehead. “Klaus found something interesting. Very interesting.” He hesitated, a deep furrow appearing above his eyes.
“Well, what?”
A screen flickered into life. “Radar data. Look.” An amorphous blob appeared to be moving in a kind of amphitheatre.
“What is it?”
A network of graphics appeared around the shape, rounding it into something disc-like, but with protrusions in places. “It’s something underneath us, something deep in the ocean.”
“What, how big?”
“Klaus estimates … roughly ten miles in diameter.”
“What! What the hell is it?”
“We only just got the data … from the balloon. It could be anything. An area of warmer fluid, a gigantic rock … or some kind of … floating city, even.”
“You’ve got to be kidding!”
Sandy gave a wry smile. “Early days.”
“What, you think they’ll want us to go down there?”
“Probably. But I’ve already made the decision. Erik and Klaus are prepping the drill. It’ll take two weeks, then they’ll send the sub down.”
“If there’s anything intelligent down there, d’you think they’ll know we’re here?”
“Unlikely, I’d have thought. If there is, they’re sealed off down there. Till we drill into their ocean, that is. It’s probably nothing … but then there is that damned signal. It’s coming from somewhere down there.”
An intercom sounded. Klaus’s voice breathless and excited. “You’re not going to believe this!”
“What?” they exclaimed in unison.
“The signal just reached nineteen!”
“What, are you sure?”
“Yes, I just double-checked the data!”
Disbelieving, Giselle and Sandy stared at each other. In twelve years, since first detected, the pulses had never gone beyond seventeen before, not once. Until now.
Pluto, wasn’t he the god of the Underworld? With shaking hands, Giselle put her coffee cup down onto the white Formica table.

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Now I Am Ten


 

desert island survival

(600 words)

 

March 27th

It’s my birthday! I am ten. Mummy and daddy say they have a speshal surprise for me. But I have to wait until next week! Today they gave me a Lego set. It is a very big one, so I don’t mind waiting. I will make a model of the Houses of Parliment and a space rocket.

March 28th

School was boring. Denis Lavin got punched in the mouth by a boy in year six. He lost a tooth and his face was all bloody. The boy who punched him was laughing but he got caned. Then he wasn’t laughing.

March 29th

I hate my school! Mrs. David was horrible to me in RE cos I said I don’t believe in God. But that’s what mummy says.

March 30th

Hooray! I’ve found out what the surprise is. We are going on holiday tomorrow and I will fly in an aeroplane! There will be mummy and daddy, my brother Stephen and my uncle David.

March 31st

I was so excited I couldn’t hardly sleep! We are going to the airport soon. Daddy’s friend Dave is driving us. I am taking Enid Blyton. The Folk of the Faraway Tree. That’s my favourite. And this diary too. Of course!

 


 

Day 1

Something horrible happened. I am on an island with uncle David and some people I don’t know. From the plane. It crashed in the sea and we came in a dinghy. Somebody put a lifejacket on me. I don’t know what happened to mummy and daddy or my brother. Uncle David says not to be afraid. But I am. He found me some paper and a pen. They have lit a fire.

Day 2

It is very hot here. There are men from the plane. They are trying to chop down parm trees to make us shelters. They are shouting a lot. A nice lady called Nadine came and read me a story but it was a grown up one and I didn’t really understand it. About love and stuff.

Day 3

Me and uncle David have a kind of house. They made it out of bits of plane that washed up and some trees. I like it here but there’s no other kids so I feel lonely. I like Nadine. She and uncle David are friends.

Day 4

I have got to no some of the men. There is Tony. He is very big. And Dean. He likes to talk and shout! They are making a big fire so we can be rescued. Today I swam in the sea. They said it is safe if I stay close to the beach. I don’t think there is sharks. I like it here but I’d rather be rescued.

Day 5

Today there was a fight. A man called Derek told Tony that he wanted a bigger house. He said Tony took to much stuff from the beach that had washed up and that Tony’s house was WAY bigger than his. He started pulling bits from Tony’s house. Tony punched him in the face and it was all bloody. I think Tony bust Dereks nose. A lady called Wendy looked after him. She seems very nice.

Day 6.

This is the end of my paper. I rote on both sides but there is no more space. There was some food washed ashore and there is some coco nuts and bananas. But I don’t know what will happen. I miss mummy and daddy and my brother Stephen. I hope they are all right. I am scared and I hope we are rescued soon.

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The Butterfly’s Revenge – A Short Horror Story


butterflies

(400 words)

Leah glances anxiously around the waiting room. Everyone looks so calm. How the hell can that be? The waiting room is dim, perhaps a dozen men and women of all ages sit, staring ahead as though unseeing. The door opens and a bright light behind him silhouettes the towering figure of Dr. Chansette, a huge cockroach, six feet high. His antennae wave. “Miss Leah Hope?”
Leah looks around. No one seems interested. She gets up, her guts knotting, but knowing she has no choice. Following Dr. Chansette, she proceeds along a shiny white corridor. He turns and waves a leg. “Please, come through to the dissection room.”
Feeling fearful, Leah follows him into an operating theatre. The room is full of strange, throbbing machinery and lights flicker on wall panels. In the centre of the room, under blazing spotlights, is an operating table, surrounded by banks of electronic equipment.
“Greetings, Miss Hope. I am Mr. Cuttemup, I’ll be doing your procedure today.”
Leah turns to face an enormous butterfly. She sees shimmering emerald and ruby tones in his wings. Trying to stay calm, she says, “Is … is this really necessary. Can’t I … can’t I just go home?”
Mr. Cuttemup flutters his wings and laughs, holding up a long scalpel blade which scatters light from the iridescent lamps above. “No, I’m sorry, we have to see … what you’re made of!”
Two giant earwigs, dressed in green theatre gowns, take Leah’s elbows and lead her towards the operating table. “Don’t worry, it’ll be painless,” says one, smiling and waving her glistening antennae.
Leah finds herself fastened down to the operating table and looks up at the brilliant spotlights above her, giving white spots before her eyes. Suddenly she has a frightening thought. “Wait a minute, what about the anaesthetic, where’s the anaesthetist?”
“Ah, that won’t be necessary.” Mr. Cuttemup unbuttons Leah’s blouse, then pulls out the scalpel. “Nurse, prepare the patient please.”
The earwig-nurses exchange glances, then one leans forward and yanks Leah’s bra up, exposing her large pale breasts.
Leah suddenly becomes calm. Of course, this is a nightmare. She’ll wake up in a minute!
Dr. Cuttemup’s scalpel stabs into her chest, right between her breasts, and carves a two-foot wound down to her groin, as she realises that the earwigs were lying – the pain is beyond belief – and yes, this is a nightmare, but it’s no dream.

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Not to Forget, but to Forgive


forgiveness

 

To apologise, yearn to repent,
To feel sadness in our heart.
To now admit we caused your pain,
We selfishly did start.
And will it make it better?
Will you feel good that we feel bad?
Or are the words we use what matter?

Mea Culpa – Je regrette
For actions done and said.
That perhaps weren’t meant to do you harm,
Or, yet, intended to disarm.
But with time’s all-crowning wisdom,
With the passing of the days,
We now admit we ‘got it wrong,’
See error in our ways.

And through God’s grace, we have a wish,
To take back what we said or did.
To numb the mind, to salve the soul,
To blank out memory,
To stay the bruising to your pride,
That lack of any thought,
Or selfishness, applied.

Know forgiveness can release all pain.
It calms the breast,
It soothes the heart,
And washes clean, like rain.
Not to forget, but to forgive,
To put away the thoughts of grudge,
Undoes the traps in which we live,
And frees us from the path we trudge.

But then, by equal,
Feel we the right,
For those who’ve hurt us,
To leave their fight.
To make amends,
Those heartless lovers, selfish friends.
Siblings blinded by base concerns,
To our true and honest yearnings,
Our soul’s desires,
To them,
Inconsequential,
As compared to earnings.

And, rarer than the rarest stone,
That’s mined in any quarry,
One day to hear those precious words,
“Lo siento”
„Es tut mir Leid“
« Je suis désolé »
“I’m sorry.”

 

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New Year’s Eve Ritual 2018/2019


new-years-cards-children-looking-out-window

(500 words)
Boxes, special boxes, lie at the bottom of my locked filing cabinet. Deposited there are letters and cards collected throughout my life. From grandparents, school-friends, parents, lovers, wives, children, more lovers, more children. Since the invention of e-mail though, they’ve been few and far between.
Tonight it’s New Year’s Eve 2027 and there’s a very special box of letters I want to look at. But first there’s something I have to do – The Ritual.
I go to my trusted computer and start. I’m alone in the house. My partner, Suzanne is at her parents, the kids are grown up, probably remonstrating with their own kids about coming home at a ‘sensible’ hour. As if!
I begin to type. Dear – . I leave the name blank for now, anticipating the thrill of typing it in. ‘I hope you are well and I wonder how this will find you? You were talking about moving to a villa in Portugal. Are you still planning to live there? Did you marry Fiona? Is your mother still alive?’ Questions surge into my mind.
I take a swig of cider, Weston’s Vintage Cider 2026, 8.2% alcohol. Three bottles for a fiver at Tesco, same as it’s been for the last ten years! I swill the amber liquid around my tongue and savour grass, twigs, toffee, leaves, moonlit apples.
For the next two hours I sit writing and drinking cider. About what I’ve been doing myself for the last year, my failing health, my increasing wealth and my disastrous love life. Then about my goals and aspirations. Maybe they’ll be interested? Do that trek up Kilimanjaro, play a recital on the piano, maybe get that novel published. The one that’s been rejected more times than I care to think about. But hey! What about Stephen King, Agatha Christie and J K Rowling?
Finally it’s finished. 11.30 p.m., half an hour before ‘witching hour.’ How pleased I am to sit ‘in here’, writing, rather than ‘out there,’ getting ‘wrecked’ and singing Auld Lang Syne with strangers!
I fill in the recipient, print my letter, sign and address it, then seal it up with tape. Finally I delete the document and empty the trash folder. That completes the ritual!
I go down to the fridge and take out a bottle of Chardonnay. I pour a large glassful of lemon-coloured nectar, then go back upstairs to my ‘special box.’ It contains ten long, white, thick envelopes, all with the same handwriting. I slot the one I have just written in at the back and take out the one at the front. It’s dated 2017, and labelled ‘to be opened 31st December 2027.’
The cycle is finally complete! I open it, trembling with anticipation. I begin to read, my eyes misting as I do so. Throughout the last ten long, eventful years, of life, death, joy and heartbreak, it has been waiting patiently in this box for me, though I now have no memory of ever having written it.

Please note, in terms of ‘likes,’ this post has been my most popular post ever (in terms of views, it is The Downfall of British Journalism) and was previously published twice (unchanged). If you’d like to read the comments on these (recommended) please click below:

New Year’s Eve Ritual [2016/2017]

New Year’s Eve Ritual 2017/2018

Also, something I came up with recently was to make a list of ten great things that happened to me in 2018 (even though it was my worst year for twenty years!), ten things to aim to do every day, ten things to aim to do at least once a week, and ten goals for 2019. Onwards and upwards!

Finally, a  couple of very inspiring posts, perfect for ‘resolutions’!

The Only New Year’s Resolution I Ever Make by Rhonda Byrne

The Optimist Creed by Christian D. Larson

A Very Happy New Year to all my readers and followers!

Best Wishes, Simon.

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