Turning Tales Week 6: How To Control Time

Welcome to the sixth week of Turning Tales!

This week’s writing topic: temporal mastery :tornado: :hourglass_flowing_sand:


You have the power to make centuries pass in the blink of an eye or seconds stretch across pages.

Slow down time to narrate a turning point in your character’s life. Their first kiss. A car accident. Their failure on the drama school entrance exam.

Speed it back up. Let your audience know that months, years, and decades have passed since that crucial event.

Then show your readers where your character is now.


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Then and Now

I remember that kiss the way her lips felt like silk against my lips, the moment felt like it lasted forever we had been eighteen then almost out of high school. She was going to be the one I would be with for the rest of my life, she was my world. I had let her walk home alone that night. I was so stupid I should have walked her home no matter what I always did. The following morning my parents had me sit down and they told me that Torri…Torri was gone they found her in a ditch less than a mile away from her house I didn’t want to believe it. The tears that stung my eyes then burned the day of her funeral. No one blamed me, not even her parent but I did they said I couldn’t have known that anything would have happened but that didn’t matter to me I let her go.

It’s been ten years since I lost Torri. I had moved away and tried to start over, but nothing was ever the same for me, just a completely empty vessel walking through the life I have in a foreign world that I don’t really know how to navigate. I’m going home for the first time in ten years, of course my mother is happy. She says that my father is excited to see me again. I can’t say that I don’t miss them, but I don’t want to go back. I can’t think of home the same way anymore, it’s just filled with agony and pain.

“We can visit her if you want” my mother’s voice was quiet and hesitant, and my eyes filled with tears at the thought of visiting her in a grave.

“Yeah, maybe mom” I choked out trying to reassure her. I wanted to tell her that I thought coming home might not be the best thing for me but if I’m being honest being in a large house filled with basically nothing wasn’t really doing me any good either.

“Ryan dear, you need to try and let go” my mother’s voice came over the phone and penetrated the memory.

“I’m sorry mom it’s just not that easy. I’ve tried work keeps me busy and I’m lucky I got the time off for the reunion” I know it hurt her a little bit, but it was partly the truth. My boss had pulled me aside and told me that I needed to take some time off. My performance was slipping again, and it was starting to look bad.

“Ryan, you know that Torri would have wanted you to be happy”

“I know…”

“Just think about it and maybe do something about it” my mother had never interrupted anyone before, so the shock still had me in its grip, but her words were true, and they cut like a knife before I heard I love you and then the click of the phone on the other end. Maybe she was right, I know Torri would have wanted me to be happy but how do I move on? I have been so worried about getting hurt that maybe the healing can finally happen for me like it did for her parents, maybe there is a life that I can build without Torri.

The Void

This is a message from the future. This is a message from the past. This is a message from this exact moment in space and time. I have seen the end of the universe. I have seen the beginning, and I have seen every moment in between. I send my story out into the void. I don’t know who will read it or when they will read it. I just hope that somebody someday will. I hope somebody already is.

If my message reaches those from the past, let the following be known. In the early 22nd century humanity discovers the secret to time travel. They begin small-scale experiments with animals and eventually humans, traveling seconds, minutes, hours, eventually days back and forward into the future. All goes well. Humans appear to suffer no long-term effects from time-traveling.

In 2130, all of humanity gathers together for the next phase of time-travel advancement. A three-man expedition plans to travel millions of years into the past. 65, to be exact. The goal of this mission was for the three-man crew of this expedition to record themselves finding a dinosaur, and also to prove traveling this far into the past was possible. Unfortunately, it was.

The expedition was led by one Henry Williams, one of the pioneers when it came to the discovery and development of time-travel. Joining him would be fellow scientists and good friends Robinson Selkirk, and me. The expedition would take humanity farther back in time than it has ever dared to go, and I would be along for the ride.

The time ago this took place in my life is irrelevant. It’s happening right now. But in terms that primitive humans can understand, this happened a long, long time ago to me, and many memories are hazy. But I still vividly remember the grins we all gave each other as we strapped into our seats and prepared to launch into the distant past. Our machine was a half-sphere, completely white, with a massive window-like door where the other half of the sphere should have been. It was packed very light, with only chairs for the three of us. The sphere itself was self-maintaining. As long as we remained in it, we did not require food nor water nor the need to use the bathroom. We were planning to stay only a few minutes in the past this trip, so food and water were not needed. We also did not age while in it, something that was only understood later, after the launch that fateful morning.

A voice I have long since forgotten gave the countdown, and we launched 65 million years into the past. The time-traveling itself is unremarkable. Much like space travel. I have done it an infinite number of times at this point. You see time on a quantum scale is much more like distance than anything else. In the machine, it took us 1 minute to travel 1 million years, so it was a brief hour journey for us there and back. The travel itself is uninteresting, all that you see outside the ship is complete and utter blackness, and the sensation of moving forwards or backwards in it. As you approach your destination the time between it and the destination bleeds together, so you see flashes of light that gradually enlarge until the moment of arrival, in which the location appears in front of you and the machine stops.

On this particular trip, the three of us didn’t do much talking. We had already discussed at length every possible emotion we were feeling about this trip, so there was no need to discuss anything further. We mostly just sat in nervous anticipation.

Exactly as planned we began seeing streaks of colour mixed with the blackness outside the machine, and exactly 65 minutes after we set off we landed in our destination. It was a clearing within a coniferous forest. We didn’t see any dinosaurs, but we heard several calling to each other. With boyish excitement we prepared to leave the craft.

I don’t remember exactly why Henry got out first. He was the captain, so it seemed natural he would be the first to depart. But though my memory is hazy, I don’t think we ever specifically talked about who would leave first. I think Henry may have just been a random victim of fate.

The moment Henry stuck his leg out of the craft, it turned instantaneously to dust. One moment there, the next a pile of dust. The moment froze in my head. Henry let out a scream of horror. Me and Robinson were unable to do anything as Henry lost his balance and fell out of the craft. The moment his body fell out, he turned instantly to dust, his screams fell silent.

Though my memory of that horrible moment is locked in my brain, I only vaguely remember what happened next. Me and Robinson realized Henry was dead pretty quickly. We mourned for him, but we also tried to figure out what had happened to him. I threw one of my gloves out the door, it turned to dust the moment it left the craft. Our worst fears began to grow within us. We decided to turn the craft around.

Upon our arrival back in 2130, we were questioned about what had happened to Henry. The camera confirmed our story. Robinson threw another glove out of the machine. We were dismayed when it also turned to dust. The tests on the dust confirmed what we had feared. The remains of the glove were 130 million years old.

I don’t know if the year I post this in will be before or after the discovery of time-travel. But if it is before, then let this be known. Time-travel is possible, but those who do it age for just as many years as they travel. You might not feel it immediately, maybe not even for trillions of years, but you will feel it eventually. Time always catches up with you.

Robinson and I spent many days afterwards in a haze, trying to come to terms with the fact we would never be able to leave the Time Machine again. Eventually, we came to a decision that if we were trapped, at least we would make the most of it. We said goodbye to the world that we knew, and we disappeared into time. We traveled through time extensively, visiting as many interesting places and events through time as we could imagine. Every historical event one could ever think of. We witnessed the first human strike a stone together to create a spark. We witnessed the first animal hesitantly crawl onto land. We saw the Big Bang itself. We traveled for a million years and witnessed the heat death of the universe. I have long since forgotten most of the events we saw. I have lived for billions of years, I don’t think the human brain is physically able to comprehend that much time, so naturally there are millennia-long gaps in my memory. But I do know how much Robinson and I saw.

I have long since forgotten what caused it. My suspicion is that we accidentally appeared in a thunderstorm, and were struck by lightning, but I have no way to be certain at this point. But whatever happened our control panel shortened out, and with it went our ability to control where we went. This has been how I lived ever since. Roughly every 10 minutes the Time Machine randomly travels to a new moment in time. 99% of the time it is somewhere black, in the dark endless void of space, though perhaps once a millennium it appears somewhere more interesting.

Robinson and I held on for as long as we could. But the sheer hopelessness and endlessness of our situation began to break us. Robinson broke first, and though many memories have been lost to the void, I will never forget the day I lost him.

Of all the places I have ever traveled, intentionally or not, I have never seen anything more beautiful. The machine had randomly appeared on a tropical island. It was sunset, the sky was painted an unimaginably strong shade of orange. When this was I do not know, but I suspect it was several million years in the future as the sun was much larger in the sky than it was in 2130. We sat in awe and silence just admiring the view for 5 minutes. But we were aware that this paradise would quickly be stolen from us, returning us to the cosmic void of time.

“I’m done.” Robinson spoke with such finality that I knew his decision was certain. I tried to stop him, tried to tell him not to, but he didn’t listen. Eventually I gave up. He gave me one last look and walked out of the machine. At this point he was too old to even fall to dust. He just stopped existing. Disappeared into the sunset.

I had several moments then to follow him. I didn’t. The machine teleported away, and I returned to the black void of time. It has been a billion years since that point, I have traveled many more. I have finally made a decision.

Eventually I will land in a time with the internet. When that happens I will post this story, as my final testament to the life I have lived. Then I will return to the void, and I will wait. It will likely take longer than the number of atoms that can fit in the universe, but eventually I will return to that island with the orange sky. When that happens, I will join Robinson and walk into the sunset. It will happen eventually, and I am willing to wait. I am in no hurry. After all, I have all the time in the world.

Forest magic

The forest smelt of growing things, mixed with an off overtone of wet animals. It was quiet, too quiet and I kept my eyes and ears open as I moved, as silently as possible, through the undergrowth. Was that a leaf rustling to the left? Not a bird to be seen - or heard, for that matter. I don’t trust the quiet, forests are not naturally silent places; rats and voles move, birds chirp and fly, not this still silence, waiting to be broken. I send my senses ahead of me, trying to find the predator which I know is waiting in ambush. Only a strong hunter would cause the other animals to go quiet and I concentrate with all my skills.

A soft growl gives me a split-second warning and my time dilation skill kicks in, just in time to see a scimitar-toothed cat break invisibility to leap at my head, all claws extending towards me. As if in slow motion, it curves closer, but I am able to draw my sword and swing it upwards to eviscerate the cat. Too slowly, I realise that he wasn’t alone, as I feel a set of claws on my back, raking down and I jump forwards. The wounds are excruciating and it is difficult to focus, time speeds and slows as I absorb the pain. Reversing the sword, I slash backwards and hear a body slump into the bushes. Releasing my time magic, I check that the second animal is dead, I can hear a chirp as the first, brave bird makes itself known. I can also hear something else, a small sound, a snuffle, a whimper. I search nearby and find a hole between the roots of a tree, with a tiny nose peeking out. From such huge parents, the kitten is tiny, mottled, tawny, perfectly camouflaged for forest living. I can feel the baby mind pushing against mine and I let her see my regret. “Nirah.” I hear her voice in my head as she gives me her name and creeps out of the den. She is gorgeous and my heart melts. I will raise her, it wasn’t her parents’ fault, I, too, am a predator and I might have hurt the cub that they were trying to protect.

Thanks to rapid healing, it only takes a few minutes to be hale and ready to continue my journey. I pop Nirah into my pocket and she vanishes, though I can still feel her infant weight. I must find meat and water soon. I can hear her thoughts, she has not yet learned to shield her mind, she is comfortable, content and sleepy. I am happy. From being alone and somewhat lonely, I have gained a lifelong companion who will be a great hunter when she grows. I project love to her and feel her echo it.

Driving With Mom

I push the car along easily enough with my right foot, watching the yellow line skim past in a solid blur. We are still in the passing zone, but there are no cars around. The sky and the trees bleed past our vision as I turn the radio station to match my mom’s favorite genre. She talks about Thanksgiving plans, just around the corner. I hear her, but my attention is divided as I watch ahead of me, behind me, and beside me for possible intrusion.

It is not long before we approach flashing lights along the side of the road. I’m going fast, but not too fast to be caught off guard. My eyes have already summoned my foot to the next pedal. I throw up my arm across Mom’s chest, like she always did with me.

“Hang on,” I advise, though I’m not concerned. It’s probably just construction.

But my mom is already gone. She’s gone back to a time when I do not exist, a time when my older sister is still the baby of the family. She is drifting uncontrollably in a car, watching glass dance around her in slow circles. She is hearing a humming sound that slowly gets louder, growing into a sharp whine that won’t leave her ears.

“Mooooommmmmyyyyyyy,” my four-year-old sister’s cry is barely audible over the whine of tires burning across the pavement. Suspended in fear for an eternity, she briefly wondered if it was over when she felt the road beneath her. But her head bounced again. And again. With no other choice, she watched clouds sailing past her as she slid twenty more feet. Her mind fought to stay awake, to listen to where her daughter was, but all she could hear was crunching, crunching, and finally a pop. When it all went still, she forgot. She forgot about the driver. She forgot how fast they were going. She forgot what color the dress she was supposed to wear the next day when she walked down the aisle.

She forgot about the pain in her leg coming from a hole where the pavement ripped her knee. She forgot everything except for the small piece of glass she could feel in the back of her head. The glass she felt was not glass, but a shard of her own broken body, a piece of her skull. Soon she forgot the pain, as she lays staring at the blue sky, listening to her daughter crying beside her until help arrived.

She forgot about everything until now. Now she remembers all the painful details, except that I am not the driver. I am her youngest daughter. I am coming to a stop. We are not wrecking. She is rocking and screaming in a terror that I cannot see or feel, but know is as real to her right now as it was then.

I keep one hand on the wheel, keeping it under steady control until we come to a complete stop. The other hand is on her shoulder as I slowly repeat the same thing, calmly, until she can hear me again.

“You are safe now. It is 2018. You made it out of Missouri, Mom. You’re not in Missouri.”

Eleanor Elizabeth Glenn

Standing on a stage with a camera pointed at me was nauseating. My mouth and lips had become dry, my brain felt like it was buzzing. The noise of the crowd, unbearable.

Was I hyperventilating? Why did I think I could do this? How much longer until I had to speak?

I looked down at my speech, which sat on the podium. A speech I had read and memorized. I had rehearsed it over and over to anyone and everyone who was willing to listen. And now the words blurred together and scrambled in my brain…

Now I know what you’re thinking. She’s going to break and fail. Run off stage or just faint on the spot. That there is no way that she will recover from those internal thoughts.

Hell, I was getting anxious just reading them. But, before we find out she faired, let’s visit her past.

“Eleanor Elizabeth, can you answer the question for me?” Ms. Cuthbert’s voice abruptly brought me back to the real world.

“Uhhh…” Blank. Completely blanked out. What would the question even be about? “I’m sorry… I’m just really tired today.” I was tired, but that wasn’t new. Insomnia, night terrors, sleepwalking. It’s a wonder I even made it to class today.

“Well, I expect an A on your next paper.” Ms. Cuthbert’s disappointed gaze turned to the other side of the class.

“Elle… Hello, Elle! You’ve gone off again.” Tia’s worried voice brought me back to the surface.

“Oh, jeez. I’ve done it again. I’m just in a million places.” Work. Home life. Creative projects. Sleeping issues… emphasis on sleeping issues.

“Where did you go?”

“I honestly don’t know, Ti. Fairyland, where the grass is always green, the sun always shines bright, and a glass of water is always cold.”

“Sound like a beautiful place.”

I smiled and looked around the Mio Pia vineyards. The best place to drink wine in the county. It was beautiful, but not as beautiful as fairyland.

Fairyland was far, far away as I stood on this stage. There wasn’t anything that could take me away from what I was here to do. I had a message to deliver, and I knew that I had to cover my stage fright.

“Now it is time to introduce the lovely Eleanor Glenn,” The announcer’s voice boomed throughout the auditorium.

“Hello, Castle Rock!” My voice sprang out unexpectedly. The rest of my speech flew out of me and before I knew it, I was saying goodbye.

As I walked off of that stage I smiled and felt proud. I truly hoped that my speech about dealing with sleep paralysis, night terrors, sleepwalking, and more would help some of the audience members. I know that I have spent many years feeling alone. That there was no one out there that could relate. So seeing an auditorium filled with people who may be afflicted or perhaps just wanting to learn more.

What started out as a night filled with terror, turned into an amazing night. A night where I held my head high and delivered my speech. Tonight, I survived.

The clock struck six

“yes, mother, I have picked up your prescription from the chemist. I’ve left it downstairs.
“You said you picked it up yesterday. You know I can’t go downstairs.”
Sebastion closed his eyes and wished she would treat him like a real son instead of an unpaid career,
" I did, mother. I left them downstairs by mistake.”
The clock at the foot of the stairs sprung to life, sending its evil chimes upstairs to his mother’s bedroom.
“It’s six o’clock, you know I take my tablets and a cup of tea. If only your older brother was here, he would treat me better. But, anyway, he’s coming home to see me.”
The grandfather clock at the bottom of the staircase always frightened Sebastian. Even at the age of twenty-seven, it still brought back the bad memories of when they first brought him from the orphanage to the big house. As they opened the door of his new home, his first sight was the clock, the large white face surrounded by gruesome wooden carved angels staring down at him. It scared him.
He had watched his stepfather each night wind up the clock and adjust the pendulum up or down as necessary. Then, finally, Sebastian was given the job, and he hated it. His stepbrother would stand and laugh as he climbed on a chair, wound up the clock, and adjusted the pendulum at the bottom. So even today, he halted the clock and hated his brother.
“Mother, there are only three of us left. He will be here soon, don’t worry. I’ll go to the kitchen and get your tablets.”
He stood before the evil grandfather clock and opened the case door. Gingerly he placed his left hand on the swinging pendulum to stop it from moving. It felt good to have the power over the hated clock and stop that constant tick. Automatically he looked around even though the only person in the house was his invalid stepmother upstairs. Then, with his right hand, he turned the small nut at the bottom of the shaft six rotations pushing the weight up. He smiled,
“you wait, everybody. Six is my lucky number.” Then, opening his mobile to get the correct time, he moved the minute hand forward forty-five minutes.
Picking up The tablets he had left on the hall table the previous day, he climbed upstairs with the cup of tea on an ornate tray for his stepmother.
“Where have you been? I’ve been sitting here waiting for my tea.”
“Mother, you have been asleep.” The old lady stared at him inquisitively, took the cup from the tray, lifted the teacup to her lips, and slowly drank her tea to wash down the tablet. The clock struck seven.
“You see, mother, it’s now seven o’clock.”
The slurping of the matriarch’s tea was suddenly interrupted by a knock on the heavy front door. Sabastion turned and left the room. Looking down the stairs, they seem to go on forever. He thought of the song “stairway to hell”. The grandfather clock stood staring up.
“Good evening, sir. Do you know Mr Grove, there has been an accident?”
“Yes, he’s my stepbrother. Is he ok?”
" I’m sorry to say he’s been run over. I understand he is the son of Lady Grove.
Sebastian stood for a moment before answering.
"Oh no… You must come and tell Lady Groves yourself. She is in bed upstairs.
“Mother, there is a policeman here to see you.”
The young policeman stood at the bottom of the bed and reverently removed his hat.
“Madam, I’m sorry to inform you that your son was killed today at six o’clock, not far from here, outside the railway station. It was a hit-and-run. We haven’t found the driver, but we have the car .it was stolen yesterday outside the high street chemist.”
He turned and stared at Sabastian.
“Excuse me, sir, where were you at six o’clock this evening.”
Sabastian turned and stared at his mother.
“I was here with you, mother. The Grandfather clock struck six. Isn’t that right? Father was paranoid about keeping the clock on time.” His mother turned to the constable and nodded yes.


Four leaf clovers were always hard to find, but only if one was impatient.

But Adam always seemed to have the time of day, glancing at the patches of grass whilst at the bus stop or asking his parents to take the longer route home in hopes of spotting one in the corner of his eye. He would spend majority of his recess crouched over on the sidelines, carefully weaving his fingers to count each of the leaves on clovers, hoping to reach four. Sometimes he’d be able to find one, and he would stick it in his sock or give it to Mrs. Leonard, his first grade teacher, and other times he’d have to go back inside to each lunch empty handed.

Mrs. Leonard noticed his particular attention to details after her first present, glancing every now and then to his table where he’d organize his backpack at the end of the day while his other classmates roughly tossed everything inside—it was time to go home, after all, it wasn’t surprising that everyone was in a rush. He stacked his notebooks and papers neatly, setting them inside before ensuring his zipper had closed all the way before walking out to meet his parents.

Adam was the type to color between the lines calmly while other students excitedly scribbled. He was the one to curiously peer at what was served at lunch without much of a fuss. He would sit criss-cross applesauce patiently as she gathered everyone for story time. And most notably, those little four-leaf clovers began piling on the corner of her desk, waiting for her at the end of each day.

Then Adam’s mother was diagnosed with cancer.

Adam stopped looking for four-leaf clovers after that.

Mrs. Leonard kept wondering how to console the grieving boy months after the diagnosis, but felt her eyes water when Adam nibbled at his fingernails, mumbling, “All that luck, and it still didn’t help.”

Years had passed before the kindergarten teacher saw the red-headed boy again, watching as he walked the halls with a royal blue cap and gown, greeting each of his past teachers with a beaming grin. He had gotten so much taller, shoulders broad with maturity and a posture that oozed composure. His words were calm, practiced, and his demeanor was just as friendly as he was thirteen years ago.

She smiled as he walked alongside his father, the both of them keeping up with the congratulations and causal conversations with the faculty. She was at the end of the hall, and simply knowing that she was the last one they were going to see made her heart grow with pride.

He had gotten into his top choice for college, modestly tossing aside his brilliance with excuses that allowed him to gain attendance. His father had done his best to fill in the shoes that his mother had left behind, and with pure love and hope for a better tomorrow, Adam grew into a young man that glowed.

As he approached his first classroom, he paused, rummaging through his coat pockets and pulling out a familiar green plant, twirling it between his fingers.

“I gave up looking for some time,” he began, extending his hand to place the clover into her palm, “but my patience had never failed me, so maybe it wasn’t luck that I was chasing after, it was time I couldn’t have.”

His father smiled and shook his head, as if this was something he had heard millions of times already.

But Mrs. Leonard didn’t falter, “Your mother would be very proud of you, Adam.”

The boy suddenly looked much younger, “Maybe, maybe not, I’ll never really know.”

The piles of four-leaf clovers had done nothing at his mother’s bedside, and they sure as hell didn’t do much when she took her last breath. But they made her smile in their last moments of being together, and to Adam, that was worth every second spent in the grass.

“Luck was never satisfactory anyway, Mrs. Leonard, it was about time I took charge of my own fate.”

Aiden was out of breath. Sweat dripped from his brow as he shifted the weight of his sword. “You’ll never make First Commander letting an old man like me out pace you”. Samuel teased. “I’ll have your job in no time old man” Aiden said coyly. He rushed forward, thrusting his sword in front of him, pummel to chest. Samuel side stepped Aidens advance, slipping his foot out to catch Aidens left foot on his way by. Surprised by Samuels antics, Aiden stumbled forward, tripping further on his own feet, catching Samuel’s pummel to his mouth as it was swung around by its blade into Aidens face. He landed roughly on his back. “Are you serious? You have to resort to such trickery old man?” Aiden said, laughing at the smug look on Samuel’s face. “I would like to see you do that with a real sword, and not lose your fingers!” Samuel’s smile grew bigger. Taking joy in showing his apprentice that he wasn’t above a good butt kicking. The taste of blood filled Aidens mouth. His lip already swelling. Samuel extended his right hand down to Aiden. Aiden gripped Samuel’s arm with both hands. Smiling. Samuels eyes squinted in suspicion, but it was too late. NOW! Aiden thought, hooking both his legs around Samue’ls arm pulling and rolling backwards. Throwing his mentor over his head. “Whoa!” he exclaimed, crashing to the ground. “Two can play at your games” Aiden laughed, picking himself up from the ground. He tasted blood again as he sucked at the center of his busted lip.

Blood. Aiden fought, grasping at consciousness. Blood. The scent filled the air as Aiden became keenly aware of the coldness seeping into his bones. He could no longer fill his toes, his fingers warm with the painful tingling that comes before feeling is lost. His chest hurt from the weight on his back. His breathing shallow. I have to get up. I have to focus… Aiden pushed gentle at first, then harder, until he managed to pull his arms under him, locking his shoulders. He flinched as a searing pain burned across his chest. Unable to see, he pawed at the cold wet ground. Bit by bit, he inched out, crawling until he felt the weight from his fallen comrades release him from their grasp. Aiden rolled onto his back breathless. The whole world seemed void of light. He felt light-headed and dazed as the memories of the night flooded back to him. Samuel. Gone. His brother, Jar’Nell. Gone. Black armor flashed before his minds eye. Demonic eyes peering at him from behind their helm. The clash of swords. The strange sound his sword made as it struck his assailants black armor. The merciless way they attacked and killed all in their path. Tiredness began sweeping across his body. His chest burning as the searing pain and numbing cold mingled together. Tears began running from his eyes and down the sides of his face. “Why?” He asked. His voice barely audible. He breathed deeply, ignoring the pain in his chest. “WHY???” he screamed into the night sky. “Have you forsaken us?” He questioned. “Answer me!” The night sky suddenly lit up as lightning danced across the sky. Thunder roared and rain began to poor down as the sky seemed to cry with him.

He needed to get warm and see to his wounds, but as the rain continued to pour over him, he began to lose hope and consciousness.


If I could go back in time, about 40 years or so, I would have chosen Papyrus as my writing programme for assignments, if they hadn’t had to be handwritten. My musing self takes technology from now into the realms of my past. My assignments would have been faultlessly organised, instead of taking a pair of scissors and a roll of sticky tape into the dining room, where pages lay in rows on the table. Cut sections of handwriting lay next to paragraphs, taped to huge newspaper sheets - no tabloids here. I spent hours cutting and moving content, which now would be a matter of seconds to cut and paste. Research was a notebook, not a Navigator and organisation was a pin-board, rather than a Thinkboard. Calculations were done the hard way; astrophysics was a good ‘think’, but fun. Fast forward to now, my young relatives can type faster than they can write and have no problem bending technology to their will. I still enjoy learning, which is why I can now join two digital boxes together with a dash-dotted line and my book of church-related writing is organised as a digital tree. Now to get on and finish the service and sermon before time runs away from me and it is Sunday morning.

It was a cool, autumn night when Natalie and Jace finally left the tavern. Stars dotted the sky and the moon was full enough that no extra light was required to see the road before them.

Natalie pulled her cloak a little tighter before slipping her hand into Jace’s, taking in the feeling of his jand enveloping hers.

“Happy One Year Anniversary, my Love,” she said softly, her blue eyes sparkling as she looked up at him.

He looked down at her, his blue gaze meeting her own. Gently he brushed her strawberry blonde hair from her face, smiling softly at her.

“Happy One Year Anniversary, Love.”

His voice was deep and warm, the sound of his words warming her under her cloak. Jace leaned down and placed his lips against hers in a loving kiss, stealing her breath away.

“Shall we head home, my Darling?”

Breathlessly she nodded, moving down the road with him, her hand still in his. This was how she wanted to live her life. Hand in hand, no matter what would come their way.

Step by step the two walked down the moonlit road, their shadows blending into one behind them. All was quiet as they enjoyed their walk home after the eventful night at the tavern.

Quiet except for the sound of horses’ hooves hitting the dirt as they galloped towards them. The couple moved over to the side to give them more room to pass. Natalie drew closer to Jace as the riders drew nearer, his arm sliding around her to bring her into his safety. He smiled down at her in reassurance as she glanced up at him. Not many were out in a hurry at this time of night.

As the riders caught up to them they didn’t go around as the couple believed that they would. Instead they circled around and stopped in front of them. They were so close that when one of the horses snorted the air danced through her hair.

“Jace Michaelson?” one of the riders growled.


Jace moved her behind him as if he needed to protect her from them.

“We have a message for you.”

Without another word every rider pulled out their pistol, aimed it at Jace, and fired.
The sound of the pistols were so loud that it took Natalie a moment to realize that she was screaming. She continued to scream as she watched Jace’s body crumple to the ground.

Time slowed as he sank. Memories of their short marriage flashed before her eyes. Their “I do”. Their first dance. Decorating their home together. Making plans to start their family. Now none of that would ever happen again.

With those thoughts rage overtook her and something broke inside her. Taking a deep breath she focused all of her rage towards the riders who killed her husband. She threw her cloak back, the fabric billowing behind her. With outstretched hands she reached towards the riders and, in her anguish, she screamed again.

This time it was as if some sort of wave left her being, avoided the body of her husband, and slammed into each and everyone of the riders. In the same slow motion she watched as the wave lifted them up as if they were rag dolls and slam them into the dirt road. They didn’t rise again.

“And I have a message for you.”

Her voice was cold and empty as she spoke, as if she had released all that she had into her scream. She sank down to the ground beside Jace and cradled his head in her lap. Her tears flowed freely down her cheeks, the liquid falling down onto his.

“Happy One Year Anniversary, my Love…” she whispered.

As if in response the power that she had expelled towards the riders came back and enveloped the two. It circled around them faster and faster until…

Natalie stepped out of the tavern, her cloak wrapped around her to keep out the cool, autumn night. The night sky was clear and full of starts, the moon so bright none other was required to light their way. She reached out and placed her hand in Jace’s, enjoying the way his enveloped her own.

“Happy One Year Anniversary, my Love.”

“Happy One Year Anniversary, my Darling. Shall we go home?”

She nodded, a feeling of deja vu coursing through her. Only this time… something felt different. She felt different. The broken part of her hummed. This time things were going to be different.

The Reunion
I hadn’t been home for three and a half years. People in my home town of New Strawberry Fields saw me as their prodigal daughter. The girl from the burbs who made a name for herself before moving to NYC for college chasing a dream.
I was still a star here in town. Some called me either that or the Super Star. I’d mad ea name for myself as a three time Jazz and Swing dance troupe soloist. My old partner Ed ‘King’ Marsh and I had broken the school record doing that. Ed had stayed closer to home. Along with his best friend Adrian Knight. We’d been a trio through High School and stayed best friends.
Even after three years the thought of Adrian still made me heart achea bit. We’d been more than friends. The summer before college I’d been his girl. Adrian was my first boyfriend. Myfirst love after dance.
Being back in town was surreal. New Strawberry Fields hadn’t changed at all the last few years. I’d changed so much. Hadn’t for gotten home though. Or my old friends.
Standing on the porch of a local bar I saw so many people I’d grown up with. Members of the old crew. Including my childhood best friend Alice.
We saw the red pick up truck as it pulled into a parking spot. Adrian had truck like that. At least he used to. It’d been his dad’s but he’d gotten a new one during our first date and given Adrian the old one. Alice rolled her eyes,” Let’s go inside Bethany. You don’t want to see who’s driving that.”
Alice had never really liked Adrian. Or the fact that I’d picked him instead of Ed. Hadn’t understood that Ed and I weren’t into each other like that. “Why not?”
Alice grabbed my hand and tried to pull me towards the door.”Trust me girl. It’s a bad idea.” I didn’t move. Finally she gave up and headed in,” I guess it won’t hurt. Especially if he isn’t alone.“ When I saw who was getting out of the truck my night got even better. The boys were back in town.
I was a bit surprised those two were going to the bar. Especially after the week Ed had been having. He’d caught his now ex girlfriend cheating. She’d been stupid enough to hook up with is roommate the night Ed was coming back to campus! The girl had been asking to get caught.
I hoped a night at the Barn hadn’t been Adrian’s idea. I knew that recent heart break and alcohol aren’t always the best combination. I’d seen one too many friends got buzzed/ drunk. Followed by whoever it was accidentally texting, calling, or messaging a recent ex.
When the boys saw me on the porch I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I’d missed them both like cray cray. Their faces were priceless, and the double take that happened was even better.
“ No way.”
“ Beth?”
Hearing Adrian call me by that nickname did it. Tears of joy won. I didn’t try to hide them as I ran towards the stairs. Adrian had a few seconds head start on Ed. I didn’t care who I got to first. Between my partner in crime and the boy I left behind I couldn’t decide. They’d booth been my boys back then. The reunion was way overdue.

Watching the Sunrise

Charlie sat down in his favourite armchair and stared out the window. His feet found the indents on the carpet that perfectly fit his slippers. His view was of an open field drifting off to the trees and mountains in the distance. The day began as it always did. A cup of coffee, soft jazz playing in the background and watching the sun as it peaked up from the horizon. This morning, the sun had little time to shine its rays. Grey clouds blanketed the sky casting shadows across the field, bringing a drab mist. It had been a lifetime of trying to forget. There was always an unsuspecting trigger that would bring that day back. He was never prepared. It always caught him off guard. He kept himself busy enough to pass the time but the quiet moments between were the loudest. Then, everything came back.

It was a time when the world was still new, those years when he thought he was invincible. He and his friends had the world at their feet. Freshly graduated without a care in the world. They celebrated their new found freedom, before the world made them “responsible adults”. Diplomas in hand and tossing their caps to the wind. He still looked through the old photos though not as often anymore. He remembered the possibilities, the dreams and the promises they made to each other. He had long since thrown away the photos that brought tears to his eyes or put a lump in his throat. Despite his efforts, the “what ifs” still nagged his conscience. What could he have done different? What signs did he miss? Why had he let her go home alone? Why didn’t he make her stay? That doubt has stayed with him and made every relationship unsteady. He always fell and somewhere along the way he gave up and decided he was better off alone. He filled his life with work and ran away from any chance of a meaningful connection. He couldn’t take that chance to make the same mistake again.


“Yes, Mary.”

“When will we be free?”

“I don’t know Mary. We could find out together.”

“I would like that Charlie, I would like that very much.”

He met her at the beginning of high school. It took until grade ten before he finally mustered up enough courage to ask her out. After that they were inseparable. The next years were sheer bliss and the rest of the world didn’t matter. Their friends teased them about their relationship, never seeing one without the other. They spent the days in each others arms watching the world go by. They spent the nights sharing each others’ closest secrets. He learned about her fear of intimacy. That her mother died giving birth to her and her father never forgave her for it. Her father had blamed her for everything that went wrong since. The only place she felt safe was in Charlie’s arms, nuzzled close to his chest. She would often fall asleep there as he stroked her hair. Her soft black hair that flowed like silk between his fingers. He would kiss the top of her head when he knew she was asleep. It didn’t matter where they went or what they did, as long as they were together.

Their last night together she was uneasy. He had to remind her that everything was about to change, for the better. They were both leaving the next morning for college. Full scholarships and a new life together lay ahead. She seemed reassured and left that night with a bright smile and a glow of hope for their next adventure. He went home and packed his compact car making sure there was still room for her. Early the next morning he drove out to the little cottage by the lake. Her father and her lived right outside of town in a quaint rural area at the edge of the woods. The morning dew made everything damp and a light mist hovered high above the ground. As he approached the cottage, he knew something was wrong. He knocked several times with no answer. He peered through the window but couldn’t see through the drawn sheers. He opened the door and the stench of gun powder and iron struck him. He walked into the living room where he found her father slumped on the couch. A spent shotgun sat nestled between his knees and what could be his head leaning back against the couch. A pool of crimson red coated the floor and speckled the wall behind the couch. He called out for Mary, there was no answer. He ran upstairs to her room to find her. She wasn’t there. He continued his frantic search throughout the cottage. He returned upstair and sat on her bed. In the quiet he noticed whistling coming from the attic door and a light tapping. He climbed the narrow stairway and slowly pushed it open. The attic smelt musty and damp, it had bare rafters with a single open window at the far end. The morning mist had crept in giving an eerie glow to the light that came through the window. Her shoe tapped the leg of an upturned stool as she swayed from the breeze. One hand still caught in her noose. She was wearing her prom dress with a red bow tied in her hair. At her feet he found an envelope with his name on it, he read her note.


I can never forgive myself for what I did to my mother and now my father. I didn’t want to ever do that to you too. You have been my friend, my lover, you have been everything to me. Please forgive me and let me go. Be free. I was never meant to be free.

I am sorry.

All my love, Mary

Charlie untied the rope and lowered her to the ground. He removed the noose from her neck and held her close to his chest. Loosening the red bow, he ran his hand through her dark hair. He gently kissed the top of her head. Her hair still felt like silk. He hummed and rocked her back and forth. His warm tears fell against her cold skin.

That moment has never left him. He finished his coffee and got dressed for the day. From his garden he cut six red tulips and drove out to the cottage by the lake. He walked past the cottage towards the lake. Facing the lake, there were three tombstones in a row that watched the sun rise every morning. Her mother, her father and Mary. Charlie cleared the dried grass and fallen leaves from her grave. He took the glass vase and tossed the dead flowers. He filled the vase with the six red tulips and placed it back at her tombstone. He sat down on the damp ground.

“Hello, Mary. I brought you tulips today. You were in my thoughts this morning and I wanted to visit you. Hope you don’t mind.”

Charlie visited week after week, year after year. One day there would be four tombstones. Her mother, her father, Marry and Charlie.

Morning Mist

“You’ll never go back. It’s in the past. Forget about it.” My uncle’s words resounded in my mind as I stepped down onto the tarmac. It was raining gently, just how I like it. With a deep breath, I took in all the familiar scents and the fresh air; I was home again.

As I started the long drive down to the country, I began to reminisce. Looking back now, I realise I was oddly nostalgic for one so young. I drove through town and past Mures; the smell of fresh fish and chips wafted across the wharf. I passed the museum, my early source of history lessons, and my mind wandered to Truganini. I became lost in a daydream.

I reached the valley in time to witness the last of the morning mist. I looked back up at Sleeping Beauty. Intermittent traces of winter snows still dotted her peaks, like a dusting of icing sugar on chocolate cake. As I rounded the bend, early apple blossoms caught my eye. Beautiful.

I had not seen the house since it was painted. Rounding the bend, I stopped to admire that first view from a distance. It looked pretty, camouflaged on the hilltop. As I pulled up, it suddenly seemed different to the fairy tale I had left behind. It looked pathetic, run down. Only sporadic daffodils decorated the yard. The pansies were either gone or hidden under rampant weeds. The gate was missing off the stable Dad and I had built for the pony.

The current inhabitant invited me in for coffee. It was smaller than I remembered it. It looked old. The grey carpet had not aged well. Maybe it had always been like that. The sitting room was now in Louis XIV style, gold leaf and red furniture. I grimaced; what was once so homely seemed so distant. The tiles in front of the fireplace had been cracked. Even the kitchen was different. Most of the cupboard doors had lost their handles. It was all falling apart.

I walked down to the dam and sat on the edge of the bower. The turf had all dried up and turned yellow. There was no seat there now. It had been raining, and the dam was full of muddy water. The brambles were overgrown and I had trouble reaching the windbreak at the bottom of the property. Our fence was still there. My inscriptions were faded, but nevertheless present. I climbed through the fence, checked the ground for snake holes and carefully made my way through the thick undergrowth.

My tree. It was a big Huon Pine. It had been my special place when I needed solitude. It wasn’t as picturesque as it had once been. No matter. I sat down on a big root and contemplated my childhood. I missed the country. It had been such a wonderful place to grow up and I had been so upset to leave it. I hated the city; the smog, the traffic, the population density and the way it seems so unfriendly.

I missed Sam, too. He had been my best friend. Now he was dead, and I’d never had the chance to say good bye. Everyone thought I was over it, over him. They thought I was strong, that I knew it didn’t matter, that I knew it was in the past. They didn’t know that I still cried for him, and I wasn’t going to tell them. “Let them think what they will,” I said with conviction. “This place is my home. This is my life. I’ll come back. I’ll prove them all wrong. I know where I belong,” but inside I knew that reality was otherwise.

My uncle had been right. This was in the past. I could never go back to it. It wasn’t home. I didn’t know where home was, because it certainly wasn’t in the big city where I now lived. “Why did this place have to change?” I asked out loud, as if talking to the cow standing near the fence. But inside I knew, I knew it hadn’t changed. I had. I suddenly realised that I’d grown up. I’d not planned it to happen that way, but my plans had nothing to do with it. A tear rolled down my cheek and I brushed it off, vainly trying to forget the truth.

I composed myself and went to the car. It was time to go.

The next morning, I counted the rabbits on the way back to the island’s tiny airport, the way I had with Mum and Dad when I was little. As we flew north over the southern highlands, I looked out and I knew. I’d never go back now. The last of the morning mist rose over the mountains. I turned my head and allowed myself to cry one last time.