Authors can share their short stories (less than 2000 words please) or poetry, and it won’t cost you a penny! The deadline this month is 24th May as I will be off to the Island on the 26th May. Stories or poems can be on any subject, but please keep them reasonably family friendly. On 25th May I will pick a winner and runner up and share the links in my newsletter and on my Facebook and Twitter pages. Please ensure that you add your story to the current month’s submission page and not any previous month, or it may be missed.
I look forward to reading your efforts. The winner and runner up will receive these laurels to add to their story:
Here’s a short story from me – hope you enjoy!
ANGEL, by Stevie Turner
Copyright © Stevie Turner 2017
A gigantic rusty angel had infiltrated her dreams once again, its huge wingspan stretching upwards into the clouds. Christine woke up with a start, the hot Sydney sun already beginning to filter in through the blinds. She sat up in bed and sighed at the sight of so many wedding presents scattered around the bedroom that she would need to find a home for. Mike turned over on his side towards her, yawned and rubbed his eyes.
She felt somewhat foolish at being bothered by the persistent dream, and so decided to keep her thoughts to herself.
“Oh, just a dream.”
“Come over here and have a cuddle.” Mike reached out his arms. “Are you nervous about the flight?”
She smiled, sank down under the sheet, and snuggled up to her new husband.
“More worried about why Mum doesn’t want me to go.”
“She’ll get over it. You two have hardly been apart all your life. Your dad’ll be there for her.” Mike ran his fingers through Christine’s dark curls. “We’ll only be gone for two weeks. I haven’t seen my parents for five years, and it’ll be great to spend New Year’s Eve with them up in Edinburgh. They haven’t even met you yet.”
“I know, I know.” Christine inhaled the scent of him and closed her eyes. “I hate to see her so stressed though.”
Mike’s leg slid across her hip.
“Five more minutes and then we’ll get up and finish packing. We don’t have to be at the airport for another three hours.”
“No, I’ve got to get up!” Christine reluctantly began to wriggle out of his embrace. “We’ll fall asleep and miss the plane.”
Two arms pinned her down and a deep voice whispered in her ear.
“I wasn’t thinking about going to sleep.”
She decided not to make a last minute phone call to her mother. Enough tears had been shed in the past few weeks to last a lifetime. Refreshed by a hot shower Christine put on a loose top, some shorts and sandals, and then zipped up her case.
Mike felt the weight of her suitcase with one hand, and grimaced.
“Excess baggage. What have you got in there, half your wardrobe? You’ll need more than shorts and sandals when we get to the UK. When we drive up north after visiting London it’ll probably get even colder.”
“I’ll pay, and I’ll change in the toilets at Heathrow before we leave. It’s absolutely baking today and it’s only ten thirty.”
She welcomed the air-conditioned coolness of the airport terminal, and purposely refused to answer her phone when it buzzed in her pocket. In the departure lounge Christine ate a salad and looked over Mike’s head at a wall showing a picture of two smiling air hostesses against a backdrop of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
“I’m so excited.” She sighed. “I can’t wait to get to England.”
As the Millennium Eye lifted her up above London, she looked down at the grey river flowing sluggishly beneath her, the Christmas lights twinkling, and the tourists now reduced to the size of swarming ants as they meandered along the Embankment encased in layers of clothing. Christine glanced back at Mike in puzzlement.
“I don’t know why, but I know I’ve been here before.”
Mike took another photo before focusing the camera upon his wife.
“Not on the Eye, surely?” He snapped the shutter and looked at her questioningly. “I know it’s been here for years, but I thought you’d never been abroad?”
“No, not in here.” She looked down at another glass pod beneath her, and then pointed towards a City Cruiser pulling in at Westminster Pier. “On the river; I’ve been on a London riverboat before.”
“Perhaps you dreamed it… smile!” Mike pointed the camera at her again and clicked. “Your mum told me that our honeymoon trip was going to be the first time you’d travelled out of Australia. I think she wanted to make sure I’d look after you.”
“I’m a big girl now, I can look after myself.” She smiled at him. “I’m having a great time being with you though.”
“Good.” He gave her a kiss and picked up two half-filled plastic flutes of champagne. “Now let’s finish these up before we get back on the ground again.”
The rain was relentless, the wipers of the hire car barely able to keep the windscreen clear. Christine shivered and gave the heating another blast as Mike turned off the M25 onto the A1.
“Does it ever stop raining?”
“Sometimes, I think.” Mike chuckled. “One time in Wales it rained for eighty days non-stop. I remember eating fish and chips on the beach at Whitley Bay as a kid, so it must have been sunny that day.”
She felt the kind of lassitude come over her that only jet lag can deliver. Christine closed her eyes and let the steady hum of the car’s engine lull her to sleep. When she checked her watch on waking, she felt refreshed, hungry, and somewhat surprised that nearly five hours had passed. She looked around her. The car had come to a halt in what she assumed was a picnic spot just off the main motorway. She followed Mike’s retreating back to where a huge brown coloured edifice in the shape of an angel stood a short distance away. Shocked at the sight of it, she decided to get out of the car to have a closer look.
It appeared the same as when she had visited it all those years ago as a small child. Flashes of her mother’s dark hair blowing in the keen wind raced through her mind. Her father had picked her up so that she had been able to touch the steelwork.
Dwarfed by its height and wingspan, Mike gazed upwards towards the angel’s head, and then turned as he sensed her coming towards him.
“The Angel of the North, they call it. Copper gives it that rusty colour.” He yawned. “Sorry; I needed a break, I was almost falling asleep.”
“Mike … Mike.” She clutched the sleeve of his coat in alarm. “This is the angel I’ve been dreaming about! I came here with my mum and dad soon after it was first built. I must have been around four or five!”
“You came here with Ken and Molly?” Mike shook his head. “That can’t be!”
Tears had already formed behind her eyes with the knowledge that he was so, so wrong.
“Not with them.” Christine’s voice caught in her throat with the realisation. “With my real mum and dad. This is going to cause such a shitstorm Mike, but you’ve got to help me find them! I know I’m right!”
“Bloody hell!” Mike was immediately wide awake. “Are you sure?”
“Absolutely certain.” She nodded. “It’s all come back to me in a rush. We went to a big shopping centre afterwards, and I must have been taken from there. Ken and Molly have looked after me very well, but…” She wiped away a tear. “…they’re not my parents.”
“You might have been taken from the Metro at Gateshead, it’s not far away.” Mike put his arms around her. “This is certainly bizarre but don’t worry, we’ll go to the Gateshead police and get them to look back through their files.”
The uniformed sergeant had an accent that Christine was having difficulty understanding, although it did seem strangely familiar.
“There’s a picture of a four year old missing girl, Christine Harrison, on our files, who disappeared from the Metro Centre in early March, nineteen ninety nine. She was never found.” The sergeant rolled the mouse to scroll further down the page and then turned the monitor around with a flourish towards Christine and Mike. “It says she would have been five on the seventh of March, the day after she went missing.”
“That’s my birthday!” Christine stared in disbelief at her childlike self on the screen. “We went to the shopping centre so that I could choose a present!” I’ve always remembered being Christine Edwards though, until I married.”
“We still have an address in Gateshead for Mr and Mrs Harrison on the file.” The sergeant scribbled on a piece of paper. “I think we ought to go there. What do you say?”
Christine clutched Mike’s arm for reassurance.
“I keep thinking I’ll wake up in a minute.” She ran a hand through her hair. “Can I have something to eat and drink first please? I feel a little light-headed.”
“Sure.” The sergeant nodded. “I’ll get some tea and toast sorted. If you do discover that Mr and Mrs Harrison are your real parents, then we’ll need to speak to Mr and Mrs Edwards. I’ll need to get my Australian colleagues to pay them a visit. I take it you won’t be phoning them beforehand…?”
“No, of course not.” Mike interrupted. “I’ll make sure of it.”
The middle-aged lady’s face blanched visibly, and she held on to the doorframe is if for support. She looked past the sergeant and Mike to where the face of her very own angel beamed back at her.
The toast completed several somersaults in Christine’s stomach before deciding to settle. She walked towards the mother she had been so cruelly snatched from as though on air.
Christine embraced her mother’s thin frame, as Mike as the sergeant looked on.
“I never wanted to move from here.” Emily Harrison sobbed, and then held her daughter at arm’s length to look into her eyes. “I always said to Dad before he died that I’m staying put. He never thought you’d be found, but I knew I’d see you again one day and that somehow, some way, you’d find your way back to me.”
Christine’s head spun with a thousand thoughts. She gazed into eyes that were the same as her own and had a strange sense that she’d arrived home, even though she lived 10,000 miles away.