Against Autumn's Discarded Leaves

This is a story recollected from the mist covered land of youth. Looking back on that day it seems so distant, almost fictional. But I will tell it how I remember it.
I was back home on leave from the army in the quiet village that I grew up in. I had been stationed in Cyprus, a small island in the Mediterranean. My duty there had finished, and I was on leave for the next few weeks.
It was terribly cold being back in England, but I made sure to wrap up warm whenever I went out. I was staying with my mother – in her little cottage in the village. I found it a little strange to be back home to be honest, I felt quite alienated. Stuck in a weird place between childhood and being an independent man. I think having nothing to do played a huge part in it. Suddenly there was nobody breathing down my neck, or waking me up in the middle of the night for sentry duty. I was free to come and go as I pleased, free to do whatever I liked. And that was the problem – there was nothing to do.
                After a few days of this I took to going for long walks. I would wander the worn paths through the woodlands that I once had played Robin Hood in as a child. I would sometimes pack a lunch, find a clearing and just sit, eat, and smoke cigarettes, watching the blue smoke curl up into the autumn sky.
On this particular day I had finished the ham and cheese sandwiches I had previously packed, and was on my way home. It was a clear sky above, but the country air still held a certain chill. I remember humming ‘April in Paris’ as I walked, my hands stuffed deep into the pockets of my bomber jacket. As the path started to veer slightly to the left, my foot caught on a protruding root and I just about lost my balance. At first when I looked back up I thought that my eyes were playing tricks on me. I had hardly seen another soul on my walks, and right there, sitting beneath a large gnarled oak, was a young woman.
                She was absentmindedly smoking a cigarette while simultaneously playing with her long blonde hair. She was wearing quite a lovely dress, which rather surprised me due to the temperature. And her skin, her skin was the palest of white, I had never seen a girl with such a pallid complexion. It looked like porcelain, like she would shatter into a hundred pieces if she took a fall like I almost had.
                I called out a ‘hello’ and nonchalantly strolled over to where she was sitting. She looked up at me with marvelous green eyes - eyes as dazzling as the vast Mediterranean ocean. Her lips were painted a dark red, I couldn’t help but thinking of blood – as horrid as that sounds. She exhaled a lungful of smoke and smiled. I took a seat next to her, got out my own pack of Chesterfields and lit one with my silver Zippo.
                ‘Aren’t you a little cold?’ I asked her.
                She just gave a little shrug with her petite shoulders.
                ‘Suit yourself. But you can wear my jacket if you like.’
                She looked at me and flashed another heart melting smile.
                ‘So what’s your name?’
                Nothing. No reply. Was this girl a mute or something? Maybe she didn’t understand English. Oh well, I thought. Doesn’t do anything to make her less attractive.
We sat there, beneath that old oak, smoking our respective cigarettes and neither of us saying a word. She finished hers around the same time as I finished mine. I smoked quite fast you see, still do come to think of it. But as I was saying, I was sitting next to her, wondering what to do or say, and she places a small hand on mine and gives me an inquisitive look. I slipped my fingers into hers and gave her a peck on the cheek and hoped I wasn’t being terribly forward. Apparently I wasn’t, as she leant in and planted a kiss firmly on my lips. It was quite the pleasant surprise, it really was. Anyway, it wasn’t very long at all until I was pressed firmly atop of her, running a hand up her ghostly legs, her skin smooth and soft under my calloused palm. I slid my lips from hers and down her neck, leaving her lipstick smeared messily. Her mouth parted a little more and a small moan escaped. So she did make some type of sound!
We made love there, atop of autumn’s discarded leaves. Luckily with nobody passing on the trail.
                Afterwards, I pulled my trousers back on and took out the packet of Chesterfields. I placed one between her Arden-smeared lips and lit it. I then put the dancing flame to my own and went into the undergrowth to relieve myself.
When I came back out she was gone.

Many a night I have thought of her. The strange but beautiful girl that never spoke one word. I have mused over many a pint about who she was, or what happened to her. But I guess I will never truly know the answer.
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Revenge (Part One: In The Realm of Loss & Uncertain Direction) (Excerpt)

      ONE 

 
She woke, drenched in sweat and shivering uncontrollably. Her breaths came in eager gasps, her lungs trying to suck in as much oxygen as they possibly could. Her nightgown was clinging to her skin, uncomfortable, sticky. She had dreamt of him again, his trespassing hands all over the fallow field of her body. He had sown his malevolent seeds many years before, when she was barely thirteen years old. The seeds had sprouted, and flourished, overgrowing most - if not everything that had once blossomed. And even though those vile vines of his had partly withered with time, there was little chance that anything would ever grow there again. He who had hindered the possibility of another ever coming along and planting something new. Her stepfather.
      Jennifer threw back the sweat soaked sheets and got out of bed, her legs feeling weak and disobedient. Luckily, Rachael, her roommate wasn’t in, she was most likely out somewhere drinking. She grabbed a towel from her wardrobe and then unlocked the door and made her way warily to the communal bathroom. She switched on the fluorescent light and walked over to the sink. She looked terrible. Her blonde hair was a mess, her blue eyes seemed dead. Her pale skin was blotched with red, like she had been crying in her sleep. She probably had, it wouldn’t have been the first time. She was an attractive girl; it wasn’t an uncommon occurrence for the guys around campus to look twice when she walked past. Her beauty was useless though, she couldn’t handle close contact with the opposite sex, she had tried once or twice and the consequences were disastrous. How horrible was the thought that, that the only man who had ever had her, had been him. God, she had no idea why her mother had married the piece of shit. It wasn’t just her he had abused, but her Mom too. Jennifer knew he had beaten her on numerous occasions. She had heard it with her own ears – and seen the evidence with her own eyes, the swollen bruised-blue painted upon her mom’s face. She meekly pushed a shower cubicle door open and went in, locking it behind her. She pulled the gross-smelling nightgown up and over her head, struggling slightly as it clung to her body, not seeming to want to let go. She eventually managed to peel it from her pallid skin and stepped into the shower. She couldn’t help but notice how white her feet were, so pale they almost seemed to reflect the light from the faintly humming tube on the ceiling. She didn’t go out in the sun much, even though she lived in LA and she had heard it was what you were supposed to do. She had always been indoor person, even as a child back in Iowa. It hadn’t surprised Trudy - the one true friend she had back home in Mason, when she had told her that she was moving to Los Angeles to study creative writing at UCLA. She was the bookish type – even though she didn’t look it. Who knows, maybe if her early teenage years had been different, she might have gotten into the usual things pretty nubile blondes girls did, like being on the cheer squad and getting banged by guys on the wrestling team. Go Mohawks! She didn’t think so though, she had always felt a little different – a little bit of an outsider.
      Jennifer turned on the faucet and let the hot, hot water blast her skin - to the point that it almost hurt. She ran her hands through the knots in her hair, pulling them out as she did. Pain was good, it took ones mind off things. Things like that asshole John Gardener – the sower of the seeds of horror. She lathered shampoo in her hair, then rinsed and repeated with conditioner. While she let it do its thing, she exfoliated with the vanilla body wash she had picked up last time she had gotten groceries at Ralphs in the village. She was starting to feel a little better already, she would go back to her room, take a Ativan – or two, and go back to sleep, hopefully, this time, with no dreams. She turned off the shower and dried off half heartedly before wrapping the towel around herself. She picked up her nightgown and walked back to her room. 
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