Traffic Delays!

I’ve lived in Anglesey in Wales for almost four years now. It isn’t a big island and the first thing I noticed was how easy it was to travel around. The concept of leaving home and driving to a destination is a simple one. Yet for so many it isn’t. Now I calculate my journey by when I want to be there and if it twenty minutes away, I will set off to arrive in twenty minutes, and there is rarely an issue.

When I lived in Manchester and my journey was twenty minutes, I would have to add at least an hour for travel time. City driving is now worse than ever and in the three and half years I’ve been away, it has got so much worse. I find it a nightmare when I need to travel back there and my stress levels increase rapidly.

When I was in my late teens, we lived a fifteen minute drive from the town centre where I worked. I would walk to the bus stop, catch the bu,s and it would travel through reletively car free roads. It stopped at other stops and arrived at its destination on time. That same journey now takes over an an hour due to nose to tail traffic all the way. Not to mention buses are always late.

Rush hour is a thing of the past for me now. It’s not something I think about anymore. I know I am luckily.

I hated it, and wanted out, and did something about it. So I felt such empathy with this blog post by author Julia Blake. It’s not always the toll of travelling, it’s the stress and ultimatly the arguments with other people that all add to the problem.  What do you think?

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Read Road Closures and Rats by Julia Blake to see what inspired my comments!

 

A Good Son

by Karen J Mossman

 

I was at Pedro’s house and we were making out on the sofa. My head was back, my neck stretched in pleasure, my eyes flicked open and there was his mother looking through the window.

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I don’t think any of us recovered from that as I made a quick exit. Now as I lie in my bed, I feared I was drowning. My eyes wouldn’t open, not that I want them to. Carefully I poked out my tongue, jiggled it about and was rewarded with the strong taste of chocolate. Hmmm! My senses came alive as it rose up my neck until it covered my entire head. I was afraid that if I opened my mouth, I would drown. But how could I resist chocolate? Easter my favourite time of year. As my tongue ventured out again, I expected to feel the luxurious velvety creaminess, but instead, my eyes snapped open and it was all a dream. I was nose-to-nose in bed with Pedro and his brown eyes were looking at me.

“Good morning, Cassie!” he said. “Happy Easter!”

He brought his hand up and perched on his finger was a fluffy yellow chick. Not a real one, of course. Its wired feet were wrapped around his finger. He bobbed it a couple of times.

As I focused on it and then him, his eyes flicked sideways. There on the dressing table was a huge chocolate egg with a big red bow.

I shrieked and leapt out of bed, pulling down my short nightdress as I went. Grabbing the egg, I kissed it. I loved Easter! Pedro was now sitting up bare-chested with an amused expression on his handsome face. Remembering my manners, I skipped back and sat on him, thanking him personally for my special gift.

Just as we were getting into it, his phone rang and sighing I fell back against the pillow. “I have to take this,” he said, stabbing the button with his finger. “Hello, Mother.”

Once more she had come between us, she was constantly ringing, usually at the most inopportune moments. Actually, she didn’t even need inopportune moments to do that. She just rang.

“Can you bring home some milk?” “What are you doing? “When will you be back?” It was always the same. I was sick of his mum. Apart from that day, where I did a quick hop, skip and jump out of the front door, I hadn’t met her, and I already didn’t like her.

-o-

I am a clairvoyant, and there are some aspects of my gift I don’t like. One of them is suicide. So, when the mum of a victim wanted me to accompany her to the place where her daughter died, I already had misgivings. That’s another problem, I find it hard to say no especially when someone is distressed.

The circumstances of this were not pleasant, not that any suicide is. Jess Turner, a girl who seemed to have a lot to live for had ended her life horrifically. It had been in all the papers, I remember sitting in the Dandelion Café reading about it over a cup of coffee.

Jess, whose pretty face had stared up at me from the photograph, wasn’t much older than I was. She had one child, a husband, and loving family – and a dark secret. One day she took herself off to the local park, sat on a bench, doused herself in petrol, and lit a match.

Calling it a tragedy doesn’t do it justice. I wasn’t sure I wanted to communicate with such a troubled and demented soul. You had to be demented to do something like that. I’m sure there were easier ways to die.

So why her mum wanted to come to this place, was beyond me. I met her after work at the park gates; it was already dusk, and the sky was a dark leaden colour. I didn’t know her but guessed she was the lady clutching a flower.

“Cassie?” She came forward to meet me.

“Hello, you must be Sandra.”

“Yes. Thank you for agreeing to come.”

“What would you like me to do? You know I can’t promise anything, don’t you?”

She nodded as we walked together down the path. “I know, but I have to try. I’ve brought this along.” She dug into her pocket and pulled out a hair bobble. “This is hers and she wore it the last time I saw her.”

I looked at it but didn’t take it. “Okay, let’s wait till we get there. Do you know where it is?”

“Not really,” she said putting the bobble back in her pocket. I had a vision of us wandering around in the park after dark trying to find this bench.

-o-.

Back with Pedro, our relationship had taken took a worrying turn. “My mother wants to meet you,” he announced one day while we were making ourselves a drink in my kitchen.

My stomach did a flip. “Why?”

“Why not? You’re my girlfriend, and you can’t hide from her forever.”

“I can,” I said filling two cups with tea and taking them to the sofa. My flat, above a shop, was small, with a lounge and a kitchen to one side. Another door led to the bedroom, and a small bathroom.

“She wants to meet you properly.” He slurped his drink and then placed it on the table before sitting on the sofa. “Cassie, we’ve been seeing each other for over a month. I’ve met your brother, so it’s only fair you meet her.”

“I have met her,” I said sitting next to him.

“I mean properly, not just a wave of your hand as you disappear.”

“Pedro, darling, I don’t think I could look her in the eye,” I said staring at him.

He laughed, “Do you think she’s never had sex? How do you think me and my sister were born?”

I slapped his thigh. “That’s not what I meant. You’re a mummy’s boy, Pedro, and I’m just competition.”

He looked indignant. “I am not!”

“Yes, you are. How many other twenty-eight-year-olds do you know still living with their mums?”

“A lot. It’s practical. Especially since Chantelle disappeared. Anyway, she wants you to come for dinner and I said yes.”

“Oh, Pedro! You didn’t! Why didn’t you ask me first?” I folded my arms as if protecting myself from his words.

“I just did.”

“Except that you’ve already committed me.”

“Oh, stop being a grump!”

I stuck my bottom lip out childishly. I had every reason to be a grump because I didn’t have a choice.

Chantelle was his twin sister who had disappeared. That’s how we linked up in the first place. He wanted me to help find her but I couldn’t.

-o-

It wasn’t difficult to find the place of Jess’s suicide as they’d cordoned off the area with police tape. The actual bench had been removed, but the blackened tarmac remained. There were a lot of flowers, with a variety of messages.

‘Miss you so much.’ ‘I’m sorry this happened.’ ‘You’ll be forever in my heart.’ Every one of them heart-breaking. I tried to keep my eyes averted and not read too many of them. I didn’t want to feel their grief.

Sandra lay down her flower and then dug into her pocket for the hair bobble. I took it and as soon as it touched my skin, I was consumed with feelings of guilt. Not only did the hair on the back of my neck stand on end, goose bumps flooded my arms and shoulders. I felt a piercing heat burn my bones. So much so, I almost lost balance. Sandra’s hand touched my arm, and I grabbed her wrist to steady myself.

Unable to speak, I nodded as the spirit of Jess filled me. Her last seconds of life were horrific. The moment she lit the flame, she panicked as the scorching heat became unbearable. She tried to beat it out, but it spread quickly. Her screaming filled the air, and I tightened my grip on Sandra’s wrist trying to endure it. Her pain became mine, and the terrible secret she’d tried to keep came pouring out. The secret itself was not so bad, at least not bad enough to kill herself for.

In the last few moments of life she had felt a deep sense of regret, not for what she’d done, but for this dreadful end she’d assumed would be was her only way out.

There was no time for tears or escape, one moment she was Jess and the next she was burned embers and bone fragments.

I opened my eyes and was crying as Sandra looked at me with alarm.

“What did you see? What happened?” She asked worriedly.

I couldn’t tell her how I watched her daughter burn in agony. “She was so ashamed,” I said, wiping my face and bringing myself back under control.

“Did she say anything?”

“I picked up on her addiction to other men,” I said tactfully.

Sandra’s face paled. “I know about that. She didn’t have to kill herself for it,” she said in a voice that sounded like a grumble. “What else did she say?”

“At the last minute, she regretted her action.”

“Yes?” she said expecting more.

I looked back at the charcoal-coloured ground and at the trees behind. The birds sang their goodnight melody, and I sighed. “Such a beautiful place to have witnessed such a sad ending.”

“But…but, did she say anything else? Mention anything at all?” Sandra persisted.

I turned to look at her, the hair bobble still twirling around my fingers. “What were you expecting?”

“I wanted her to tell me where she hid the rest of her Grandfather’s money. He left it all to her in his will, but we don’t know what she did with it. I was hoping…” She trailed off, seeing the look on my face.

I handed her back the bobble. “I think we’re done here,” I told her, as the night air turned chilly. There were no ghosts here.

-o-

Pedro’s mum held out her hand. “Hello, my dear, nice to meet you at last. Do come in.” Her red hair was back-combed, and she wore a lot of makeup with dark red lipstick, red nails and a pair of twisted gold hooped earrings. I wondered if she was trying to recapture her youth, or if she was making a statement to prove she wasn’t old yet.

I could feel the blush rising up my neck at the thought of her seeing me in the throes of an orgasm.

“Pedro, mijito,” she greeted, a Spanish word of endearment meaning my little son. “There is wine in the kitchen, go and fetch it while Cassie and I get to know one another. Oh, and turn down the oven while you’re there.”

She took my hand and led me into a back room. It was decorated with Spanish culture in mind. “You will have an apéritif before dinner, won’t you?” She said it in such a way it was difficult to refuse.

“Now, tell me all about you and what you can see.”

Really? “W-what would you like to know?” I asked not wishing to tell her anything. Where was Pedro?

“Well, you see ghosts, don’t you? Pedro has told me about it, and I want to hear it from you. I’m so fascinated.”

“Erm, well, only when they want me to, the ghosts I mean.”

“Ah yes, perhaps if I give you something of Chantelle’s?”

Here we go. “Mrs. Parslow-”

“Please, call me Amia.”

“I can’t tell you if Chantelle is still alive if that’s what you are asking.”

Just then Pedro came back. “Mother leave her alone. You promised you wouldn’t.”

“Well,” she said, taking the bottle of wine as he put three glasses on the table. “It seemed like a good opportunity.” Then she looked at the third glass. “Aren’t you driving later?” she asked him.

“Yes, I’m just having the one.”

“No, put it back. We’ll have no drunk drivers here.”

Amazingly Pedro returned the glass to the kitchen. Just like a good mummy’s boy.

Dinner wasn’t much better as Mrs. Parslow continued issuing instructions or contradicting whatever he said. After we finished eating, Pedro gave an appreciative burp.

“Manners,” she scolded.

“Sorry, Mother.”

“Pour Cassie some more wine,” she told him, and he rose to his feet.

“No, it’s fine, I don’t want any more.”

“Coffee then, anyone?”

I didn’t want coffee either; I wanted out of there. I’d had enough. I don’t know who was worse, him or his bloody mother!

“Could I just have some water?” I asked. “I have the beginnings of a headache.”

“Oh no,” Mrs. Parslow said dramatically. “Get her some tablets while you’re up, Pedro.”

“No, it’s okay,” I blurted. “I’ve got some special ones at home, I’ll take those.” Pedro was staring at me.

“What kind are those, love?” Mrs. Parslow asked. Before I could reply she glared at Pedro. “Stop gawping and get the girl some water.” He turned and left the room.

“Oh, just some the doctor gave me,” I said shaking my head and getting up. “I really should go.”

“Have your water first,” she reminded me.

“I will, thank you. Is the kitchen this way?” Pedro could get my coat at the same time.

I entered the room just as he turned holding the glass of water. “Oh! Are you going?”

“Yes, thank you for a nice meal,” I said taking it and drinking half in one gulp.

“I’ll get your coat then,” he said as I ignored the puzzled glance he gave me.

As I turned to leave, I caught sight of something familiar on the sideboard. It was a huge chocolate Easter egg with a big red bow. Exactly the same as mine.

The end

This story is taken from a collection of short stories featuring Cassie.

The Adventures of Cassidy Newbold

Or a full length story in The Ghost on the Stairs

 

 

 

Every Picture Tells A Story

by Karen J Mossman

 

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We all lead busy lives and sometimes it’s hard to find the time to do things we enjoy.  So why not allocate yourself an hour or two in the evening, or at the weekend, or even on the journey to work if you are a passenger, and enjoy a good book.

Play the Game is a novella that’s gets you to the very heart of the story.

Each pictures tells its own unique story. My characters are called Kelly and Stella. As I’m a big fan of Chicago Fire, my favourite characters are  Stella Kidd and Kelly Severide. Their romance captured my imagination, so it seemed right to use their names.

The next photo shows a cosy couple enjoying dinner. Kelly and Stella’s first date is in the hotel where they first met. She hasn’t dated for a long time and apart from Kelly being nice, she was tempted by the thought of a hot meal. The trouble is she is also a modern woman, and was prepared to pay half the bill. When she opens the menu, the food is so expensive it’s completely out of her range. Will she own up, or not each much?

The next photograph is of a Call Centre and this is Stella’s day job. She works as part of a team of handling insurance claims, and hates the girls she works with. They gang up on her by making snide remarks and bullying her at every opportunity. So, as a writer, I couldn’t let them get away with it, and Stella will ultimately get her revenge, but no in the way you think.

The next two pictures show what she does during the week. She hands out sandwiches to the homeless. This means she has to walk the streets at night visiting all the places girls usually stay away from. She’s never had any trouble, until one night, a man high on drugs or drink, takes a shine to her. There is no one around to help up and she is terrified as he tries to lead her away.  Help comes from an unlikely source.

Her team members are big fans of their football club. In between calls they switch screens to follow matches and always talling about the best players. Stella says she’s not a fan, and doesn’t know any of the footballers. It only opens her up to more ridicule.

Kelly’s world is very different to her own and his circle of friends bring her anxieties to the fore. He is very patient as he tries to explain that she’s just as good as everyone else, and she shouldn’t be intimidated by them.

Love was something she never expected to find. Kelly is much more than the person she originally mistook for hotel staff. When he finds out what she does, how, despite her circumstances, she still find time to help others, he can only admire her courage. He wants to build up her self esteem, take away her loneliness, and give her back self confidence.

Will Stella listen? Can love be as powerful as that?

One last tragedy comes into her life but this time she is not alone to deal with it.

Read Stella’s inspiring story and how there is something special in all of us. It just takes the right person to show us the way.

Read it here.

Available to read for free in Kindle Unlimited until January 2020

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Churches and Ouija Boards

Dad was a religious man and enjoyed going to church, he also loved the social aspect of it. As a child we as a family went to church every Sunday. Beibng with everyone there made it feel like a family or a community that we fitted into and enjoyed the company of.

In the church hall we went to barn dances, attended shows, and musicals, in which we starred in. There were jumble sales to organise and attend, and I went to the youth club and guides in the hall.

Mum and Dad went to social evenings at different people’s houses. They even went to Benidorm with the minister and his wife. I used to baby sit their children.

The Rose Queen was a great annual event. My sister was Rosebud Queen at one time, and I was a lady in waiting to the Rose Queen hersef. Happy days.

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That’s me in the black and white photo on the far right. I recall having a boyfriend who was a biker and and I bit of a bad boy. I adored him but was hugely embarrassed to be doing this. I think my parents volunteered me. He never found out about it and at that time it was never the person I wanted to be.

We eventually moved away and although Mum and Dad went to other churches, they never quite got the same friendship and social events they had there.

I went to see The Exorcist when it first came out and it terrified me, so much so it put me off horror films for life.

In 2000 Dad got septicaemia and almost died. When he recovered he said he saw a tunnel and he was being urged through it by his mum who was waiting for him. Later he retracted that saying it was the drugs that made him say it. I think he experienced something but it went against what he believed in, so he denied it.

He lived for another ten years, and when he was told he only had a few days left to live, he was so brave. He accepted it was his time to go and to this day I wonder where he is, where he thinks he is, as its hard to accept him not being a conscious mind somewhere.

I’ve never forgotten him telling me about Ouija boards and although I don’t recall the full conversation, it inspired a story called They Came For Him.

There is an interesting article about Ouija boards here if you would like to read it. Meanwhile, They Came for Him is about a girl who goes back to a friends house to play with a Ouija board. What she experiences is will affect her for the rest of her life.

Here is a small extract from the story. If you want to share your experiences, I would be interested to here them.


‘Dad was now running in my direction. His face filled with fear. For one horrible, horrible second, our eyes met before he passed right through me. For that brief moment, I felt his core and spirit. It was part of me again. When he was gone, I felt bereft, like something had been torn away.

Immediately my skin turned ice cold. A raw blackness filled me. For a second, I couldn’t breathe, and then it was gone. I spun around and saw the spectre sweep dad into the road and under the wheels of a passing truck.’

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Train Journeys

One day while I was away in place we holidayed with the children when they were small, we came to a level crossing and the barrier went down to say there was a train coming. For one moment I felt the rising excitement I had as a child.

Dad used to let us get out of the car and stand by the gates waiting for the train to pass. The mounting anticipation as we heard it approaching was so exciting. The smell of the steam as the chug-chug-chug that got louder and louder. It was an absolutely thrill when the train went past. It was always huge and loud, and apart from covering us in smoke, it made all sorts of noises as it trundled by.

The carriages all and a corridor and there were compartments all the way along. When we were teenagers and we caught the train, if it was empty we used to think it was fun to travel in the luggage rack above the seats. They were made of strong rope that looked a bit like a hammock. It was so much fun!

In The Magic of Stories, which is launching this week, I include two fictional stories that came from these early memories of trains.

Joanna’s Journey is my novel set in the 80s because that was when the original idea came to me. A a girl got on a train to London and as it was full the porter took her to the first class carriages. Inside was a handsome guy who didn’t want company but then felt obliged to share. There begins a three hour journey where strangers reluctantly get to know one another.

The first story in the book is called Stranger on a Train, and it was taken from the premise of Joanna’s Journey and written at a time when I loved having a twist in the tail kind of story.

In this one Jenny meets Nino in a similar way to Joanna. She then goes on to have an affair with a rising rock star, same again as Joanna but this is not what you expect.

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Hidden Stories in Family trees

At the end of the nineties I researched my family tree and being the curious type, I ended up doing four, my parents and my other half’s parents. Each one totally fascinating and each had curious tales to tell.

My father was very dark skinned. Out of us four children, only my sister had the same skin tone. I remember going to cabaret shows in the seventies and eighties, and the comedian would say things – ay-up the Arabs have arrived!

His mother, my grandma, was also dark skinned, as were three of her six children. We were lucky enough to have a photo of her mother and it was clear it where it came from. When I researched the family tree, I could find nothing. Recently my sister did one of those DNA checks via Ancestry and Turkish blood came up. I’d love to find out who it was and the story behind in. Perhaps it was a illicit liaison somewhere.

When I did my mum’s tree, we already knew that her dad did not know who his father was. He was born in 1904 and it was always suspected that the father was the doctor she was a nanny to. On her deathbed my grandparents begged her to tell them who it was, she refused and took her secret to her grave.

Why? What harm could it have done seventy years later? I think I found the answer. Just before he was born, according to the 1901 census, she worked as a domestic servant to a large family in the town. They owned a business, the head of the household was also brother to the mayor, who was a local businessman. I reckon it was him, or one of his elder boys that did the deed, possibly against her will. There are many stories about domestic servant’s becoming pregnant. The family were, seventy years later, still prominent in the area and I guess she still felt some misguided loyalty. That would make more sense, don’t you think?

When I did my husband’s family tree, I already new he was an only son, of an only son. That made me realise my own son Ian, was the last in the Mossman line. The original Mossman was Scottish and he came to Manchester when his parent’s died to look for work. He married his landlady’s sister and they had three sons and a daughter together. Of the three sons, Robert, Harry, and James, Robert had one son, Harry had two, and James had two. Robert, was our line. Our of Harry’s two sons, one died aged sixteen tragically after a school sports days. The elder died in a prison of war camp during World War 2. James emigrated to Australia and was never heard of again. So I concentrated on James and found he had several sons, who had also married and had children. When I finally made contact it turned out the one I spoke to was also called Ian Mossman. What a coincidence!

My husband’s mother was interesting because she lost her mum to asthma when she was eight and didn’t have a good childhood because her father passed her around to relatives to look after. He was a hard working man. He was active in World War 1 and on the Homefront in World War 2. Eventually he realised his daughter needed a mother and married a woman he not love.

There are many more interesting stories in my tree, as I’m sure there are in yours. Is there any you want to tell us about?

Meanwhile, The Magic of Stories also contains poetry, and each poem tells a story. This is just one of them.

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Don’t tell a writer your secrets!

Sometimes the most embarrassing things can be humorous and I wrote something a little risqué by my standards. I also wanted it to be a little cringe worthy because we’ve all been in situations that have made our toes curl.

You know that saying, never tell a writer your deepest secrets? No? Well, perhaps I made that up but it’s true. They may write it in their book!

I’m guilty of that. Someone, who will remain nameless, once told me how she lost her virginity, and as much as wonderful things are written in books about ‘the first time,’ the reality is it is often embarrassing and messy. You always hope you’ll never see that person again, right?

If we collected stories of first times, it would end up being really funny simply because people keep that to themselves. They don’t want to share their inexperience or be made to feel foolish. I know I wouldn’t. The truth is we have all been there and hearing someone else’s stories makes ours less shocking. The more we hear, the more amused we get, do you follow?

I wouldn’t dare ask you about your first time and neither would I tell you mine, so instead I put a tale in The Magic of Stories, one I made up, with a little bit of truth in it!

Meanwhile I will leave you to read this amusing post entitled:

41 Things I Wish I Could Say To The Guy Who Took My Virginity

 

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