As I looked through time an event became clear. Focussed and entirely wrong. It destroyed a family, a man and created a paradox. Twins separated by the skin of two worlds touching.
BlogBattle has begun. This months word is “Stable.” I tend to use word prompts to explore writing before deciding if there’s enough backbone to continue. This time I’ve heard from a character resting quietly in a finished novel yet to be published. An unexpected outcome of the prompt word. It might be the opening gambit of a follow on. Then again it might not be stable enough for that…
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Rose is an established character. She has one unpublished novel and appears in two others. When I saw this months prompt word I was immediately visited by her. Back in the first book her mind was certainly not stable. This might be the start of her next journey as it now ties into a far bigger story.
Rose had a big circle latched on her calendar. One year anniversary of an alternate universe inside a coma where reality was not quite so clear as it seemed now. Parts had drifted away, as things do in time. Back then her mind was split in two; an outside interface that dealt with the world and a secret inner one screaming for help. The latter had dominated her since the Josh catastrophe that left her divorced with two kids. It had taken three years to seek help and that had, paradoxically, caused a meltdown leaving her in coma that was neatly tagged as a myxedemal induced by low TSH with a lucky outcome.
Whitaker, her shrink, knew better. Sure he’d taken some flak for blood results with a lower hormone level than normal, but it wasn’t low enough to cause an issue. Not in his opinion. His theory was more a mental one. Rose had simply shut down in a mind bomb whose fuse ignited under therapy.
That was then, this was now. Rose had come out intact. The broken mind healed. No split mind with a safe haven to jump into when life got hard. A year ago today she has stood in front of her kitchen window smiling. No regret, no fear of people looking down at her and no self esteem crying wolf. Signed off as emotionally stable after two decades of Josh bombs. Even the hate had disappeared. Then again he’d been sent down for assault and repeat offences when folk dared to say no.
A tremor passed through her there. No, a simple word he’d abused along with her. Gone now, let go of. It was liberating.
The niggle remaining was more to do with the childhood dream. The ageless girl who visited at night. Or had done until the coma where she had manifested inside it. Part girl, part dragon rider in an altered reality that seemed, at the time, as real as this one. Why on the anniversary of recovery was she thinking about Rebecca?
Deja vu. Rose stared at her phone. A text from the former paramour, David Williams. The paradox man, although that phrase came from another dream where another man was locked in a prison of ice. More than a man if she remembered true. A sage, magician or… no, it was gone now, but she did remember him talking to Dave. A distant interview through time and connected to the dream girl somehow.
Need to talk, Dave x
Need to talk? He saw her most days at the Oak where she worked as a waitress. After the coma she had avoided any real conversation it was true. Then again he probably didn’t know she’d heard every word of his unidirectional conversation when she was locked inside her coma. Dumped twice, once by him and again by too good for me Tony who declared his love there before leaving for a time out. Very brave. More so when she never even knew he felt like that beforehand.
But Dave, there had been no texts since her recovery. Polite hello’s in the pub and banal banter, but no mention of the affair. Then again that was always more convenience than lasting. Not just for her, but equally for him. Bad places weren’t unique to her.
Why now though? That thought stuck and turned. A year and on the day Rebecca came to mind, Dave makes contact. Still, this was new Rose.
No kiss added. Be still my beating heart.
She found herself thinking about the accident. Way back, when her own kids were still at Houghton Primary School. A sad day and one that saw Whitaker’s case load explode. Concerned parents bringing in traumatised children as one of their own collided with a van. The only time the lollipop man failed to show up. Olly the Lolly the kids called him. She knew him as Dave. The man who never quite recovered. Blaming himself for an accident that wasn’t his fault and always countered by “But if only I’d been there.” It left him torn inside and shifted sideways to Houghton Cemetery as groundskeeper and grave man.
That was the day two twins became separated. One left to the paramedics and the other she had carried back into the school staff room, already broken. Emily, that was her name and her sister, Chloe, the one that died. It was Roses opinion Dave had transferred to the cemetery as penitence. Watching over the small grave. Making good his failure to stop traffic. A pang of sadness washed over her. What happened to Emily she didn’t know. Just that her presence at school ceased, presumed moved somewhere else to stop triggers launching post traumatic stress.
Rose had moved on. Remembering yes, but no longer absorbed by it. Time healed or, in her case, a meltdown that fused a mind that had split. Back to Josh. She blocked that one real quick.
But Dave might not have moved on. How could he? Tending that grave each week. Maybe he just needed a friend?
Things have got complicated. Can you make the cafe here on Saturday? x
Another kiss and a public space. Not a romantic locale though. A coffee shop for grieving relatives annexed to the crematorium, nice. She was intrigued.
Around 2. x
Pulling into the carpark stirred up memories. Last time they were involved. Rose knew the location of the grave he toiled over and glanced across. So much blood from such a small body. Odd what memories associate with. She shuddered, locked the car and entered the visitor centre. The cafe was on the right.
She paused looking through rectangular pieces of glass in the double doors. There he was, in the furthest corner facing inwards, presumably so he could see her enter. What she saw next sent shivers up her spine. The ghost of Chloe.
That’s what she would have looked like now, she thought. But what’s she doing with Dave?
Her phone pinged.
I did say it was complicated x.
Rose refocused her gaze and saw him waving her in. Clearly he was sitting to keep watch on the door.
She pushed through and approached the table. Emily she had not seen for years, the possibility it was not her never crossed Rose’s mind.
“Hello Rose, it’s been a while since….” Dave trailed off.
“Since we met outside the pub.” Rose finished it for him. She turned to Emily almost ready for a relapse.
The girl was now a teenager, about the same age as…
“Hi, Mrs Grey. It’s been a while hasn’t it?”
The smile was genuine but haunting. Rose could only nod.
“I think you know my friend Rebecca yes?”
Rose just stared. Her mind reeling. Dave touched her hand. Stable she was no longer feeling.
The connections made here are to the paradox man Dave. Rose met him in a previous novel. Emily in another. The interview Rose dreamed of is new. The scribe she referred to, but can’t remember is The Amanuensis, a character created in an A to Z challenge and added to in various flash fiction prompts. He has communed with the characters connected to this side of the story while trying to find out why his world has collapsed and left him inside a sorcerers bubble in a prison of ice.
These can be found at the following links.
The Paradox Man, David Arthur Williams
I enjoyed the story. Need to read the other stories. Why could Rose see Emily. Did the others in the cafe see her. I think this story has a lot of mileage in it.
The others might well help there. I’m aware it might be a tad confusing since I know these characters well because they are all inside several novels (not published yet). Emily and Dave have history. She is real and the surviving twin. Rose hasn’t seen her since she was about six or seven. She took Emily away from the accident scene where her sister was taken away. The prompt took me back to this story with this being the third in the series. Call it a tester into it. I thought it might be the start of the opening chapter…still need to chat with them a bit more first though lol
Many thanks for reading it and keep an eye open for the new prompt tomorrow 😊
Not knowing the characters beforehand added a lot of mystery to this piece. I really enjoyed it!
The description of the child’s death caught me off-guard and really twisted my perception of the story in a different, darker direction, and the final cliff-hanger left me wanting to know more. What questions will Rose ask, and what answers will she receive?
Thanks Joshua! These are all established characters from previous works. Trade of there is to try and not make it so detached to new readers. Always a risk if there’s continuation of plots if a reader hasn’t seen the previous. Rose has a full book done. So have the others with Dave, Emily and Rebecca. None are published as yet mind so only beta readers know the full story. The links with this post do connect some previous scenes though. I tried the A to Z last year too. That was themed as a narrator interviewing my cast list in A to Z sequence. (If you’re not yet familiar with that challenge it runs in April. A letter a day as it indicates A through Z). A new character evolved from the narrator along with an entire new story idea. The links here do dip into him meeting with some of those in this story.
Back to this piece though… it appeared out of nowhere. Rose hasn’t spoken to me since her book ended. I was mulling the prompt over and she dived in. If I can zone into their minds I’m more a biographer than a writer lol.
The death scene was actually the very first thing I ever wrote as a story too. Quite a few years back now. That’s knocking about on here too! Really need to get my theme changed and improve site navigation! I kind of know where this is going too. Just need more hours in the day to write it!
Whoa! Great twist there! I’m intrigued. 🙂
Thanks Joy, this particular saga has been rolling for some time. Three books (needing editing) and put on a back burner. Rose really ought to have been sorted by now. That said with this prompt she came back for a visit and carried in a few other members of the cast!
Have you done one this month? I’ve been monitoring the ping-backs while Rachael has been off. I’m sure I’ve not seen one from you although I may have inadvertently missed it.
Don’t you love those characters that just start talking? LOL I just finished writing and scheduling mine. It’ll go live at midnight this Thursday. 🙂 This one took me on an interesting turn with a scene I know happens; whether in or out of future books, though, I’m not so sure!
Impatient children chattering in the background! At least that’s my analogy…until the antagonist steps in. Goes very quiet then lol.
I’ll keep an eye on the prompt post then and get over as soon as I see it. That said I’m sure I have a reply to you owed on the last one!! Still, this month I’ve actually visited every entry…probably because I’m doing the admin while Rachael is off swanning about in Ireland lol. Having said that, I’m intending on doing the visits every month now.
Looking forward to reading your new one too. You never quite know when a prompt post might find it’s way into a new book somewhere too. Most of mine seem to be heading that way!
Nice story and nice take on stable. Interesting way of using characters that you already know.
Thanks Marian. It’s something I do a lot nowadays. Use prompts to develop backstory that gives me more insight into who they are.
This one is actually the start of another book that has sat waiting to begin its path. I may take it into NaNo in November too. If I’ve not got stuck in before that is!
Well it’s a good way of working on characters for another book.
Agreed, if it’s not feeling right in short scenes then it’s probably not the one that needs writing as a novel!
My unfamiliarity with the characters caused me to read carefully as I kept track of them, but you definitely piqued my interest in what Rose would discover at her meeting with Dave. It was certainly ended in a way that makes me wonder what will happen next! Quite a surprise considering I kept waiting for the part where the horse comes in…. 🙂
I think your fingers betrayed you at one point (mine often do that to me!). Where I read: Signed of as emotionally stable…. I presume she was supposed to be signed off? Minor detail!
I am guilty of using characters I know as familiar friends that I know too well and other think eh? Rose has a book of her own already as do Dave and the twins Emily and Chloe (not published as yet). The minor detail is about to get corrected as you are spot on too. Definitely signed off. This piece is possibly the start of my next book with Rose, or at least setting the scene.
With prompts (apart from Corona) I often build back story scenes in short fiction. They are sometimes serialised so to speak. Too many projects and a terrible problem with unique short stories wanting to all grow into big ones.
As for the stables…after dialogue on the other posts I felt like adding signage on the reception wall. “Grange Undertakers, all manor pertaining to bereavement services. Horse and carriage to church and cemetery available.”
I know exactly what you mean about getting a lot of mileage out of “old friends.” Last month was the only story I’ve submitted that was completely new and not attached to any novels in the works or on back burners. After all, if you know your characters, they help with exploring your book ideas in short stories!
Spot on. My use of them in short stories, or more precisely, prompts is to develop backstory and get to know them better. One stream has about 50k in total of backstory as a result. Funny how quick it piles up without even realising.
That said my “new” one happened last month with Corona. Even that later gave me a way into a previous short story that I’d not considered too. Funny how my fiction does that. First noticed in the A to Z where I wanted to have a narrator interviewing characters from all my books. That blighter linked everything together instead whilst world building his own plane of existence!
I enjoyed reading your contribution for #BlogBattle, and the twist at the end was not quite expected. I knew something would happen, but …
Thank you, but the but suggests questions lurk!!
In truth this is not really a short story. I wrote a novel two years ago totally dedicated to Rose. Before that I did one that took me through Dave and Emily’s story. Well, part of it. It’s a bigger series in waiting. Rebecca also featured in that too. Neither are published yet.
I saw this prompt and Rose came to mind so this is probably the start of her next book or something close to it. I did it this way to test the idea.