Time. That precious commodity no one has. Everything is about time. I bitch about time, ALL THE TIME! But it’s a misnomer. See, if I have time to shovel a chocolate bar… (fine two bars) in my gob, then I can find time to schedule tweets, finish that bloody book, and pin my posts to Pinterest.
I’ve already talked about choices, and the fact reaching goals is all about choice in my post a couple of weeks ago that talks about Setting Unrealistic Goals in Order to Achieve Unbelievable Outcomes.
Everyone knows Twitter is in the top 5 tools for boosting traffic, but scheduling tweets is another matter. I have tweets scheduled up to 6 months in advance. Yeah, really, and no, it’s not because I’m super organised. Once I write a post, I use a program to create template tweets and then schedule them for the next 6…
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Written by: roseyn
Vince barged into the police station. He was sweaty, out of breath. His car keys jangled, felt strangely heavy in his hand. He found Fiona slumped in an old wooden bench. Her hair hung low, covered most of her pretty face, her small fingers clumsily twisting her white-strapped watch.
Guilt squeezed Vince’s throat, struck him momentarily speechless. In four long strides, he reached her. “Fiona?”
When she looked up, her weary, cheerless eyes told him more than he needed to know. He felt a sharp twist in his already queasy stomach. “Are you alright?” he asked, dropping to his haunches.
Fiona nodded. “I’m sorry, Dad. I didn’t know what else to do.”
“You did the right thing calling me. And it’s I who am sorry.” He swallowed back another punishing surge of guilt. “Tell me again, tell me exactly what happened.”
The unbroken buzz of human activity surrounded them, sharp, urgent voices, phones ringing relentlessly, impatiently, metal framed chairs scraping along the generic epoxy flooring.
“Inspector Rex phoned,” she began. “He said my International License had expired, that I was in a lot of trouble and that it was in my best interests to come down to the station. When I got here, he wanted me to make a statement about what happened yesterday and that it’d better be the truth. Otherwise, I’d be in more trouble. That’s when I rang you.”
“You know he can’t force you to make a statement?”
She shrugged. “He just said that things would go better for me if I did.”
Anger fuelled Vince’s body, gradually extinguishing any guilt. He stood, searched for Rex, found him smugly leaning against a weathered-looking doorjamb. “Damn you, Rex,” he mouthed as he sensed the incredible urge to pulverise his ugly, smirking face.
He grabbed Fiona’s quivery hand instead, and they both left.
The drive home was silent. Vince was in part grateful for it. It allowed him thinking time, without the paranoid hindrances of alcohol.
Had she then been living in Auckland all this time? If not, why were her husband and child here? More importantly, who wanted them dead?
He re-considered his initial belief that he had been framed. The whole idea now seemed ridiculous. It would mean someone knew he’d be driving on that exact road, at that exact moment. And even he didn’t know that.
“Fiona, who else knew where we were yesterday?”
Fiona blinked several times. “Just Sarah.”
“The girl you were getting the notes from?”
She nodded. “Why?”
Fiona fell back into her cold silence, Vince back into his make-believe thoughts. Was Sarah somehow involved? Surely not.
But either one or both drivers of the other vehicles were.
Vince swung into his long, stone covered driveway, slammed the car to a quick stop, decided, for now, it was best that he and Fiona maintained their lies.
Until he found the truth.
From out of nowhere, a woman with mascara-smudged eyes and wild cherry-coloured hair appeared.
Fiona gasped. “Mum?”
Written by: roseyn
Roger’s utterance is small but enough to alert me that he isn’t bona-fide.
And I wonder… why are they interested in a girl that isn’t their daughter? Who are they really?
Shoes shuffle. Sighs, impatient ones, drip with deception. And I maintain my pretence of someone still asleep.
When enough time passes, when intimate silence rules, I slowly feign waking up, hoping my performance is a level above amateurish. I stretch my arms; refrain from the immediate urge to look to my right… in their direction. When I eventually do, the space is vacant. I don’t know whether to feel relief or disappointment.
Perhaps, an uneasy medley of the two.
I spin to my left.
I quickly apologise. For what, I’m not sure. Roger hovers over me; his stretched smile a little too knowing for comfort. Next to him is the pink-dressed woman staring wide-eyed.
Call it paranoia.
But none of it feels right.
Roger’s overly concerned expression is mildly comforting. Not so his rhythmical, controlled finger, now tapping my shoulder.
A fresh round of shivers works down my spine.
Roger returns to the photo “So, still no memory of this girl?”
I stare at it; remember her well.
Karen Malloy. Right hand assistant to Jean-Pierre.
“I wish I could,” I say.
Roger scrutinises me with cool, unblinking eyes.
Moisture prickles my armpits.
“Very well,” he says, slowly pocketing the photo.
And without another word, they both leave.
I suck in air, hard and sharp, climb out of bed and stride to the bathroom. It is small and smells strongly of pine, the type you associate with rigorous sterility. I clutch onto the hand-basin’s edge as if it were my lifeline and stare into the smudge free mirror. What stares back is six months of lazy hair growth, a beard neither necessary nor wanted.
Am I really Jean-Pierre?
This revelation, true or otherwise, obviously knocks me. I review what small amounts I remember, the nameless construction company, the Manila envelope, the black BMW, the Asian gunman. I picture Karen frantically snapping photos of the folder’s contents; I see Jean-Pierre jump back into the BMW and drive off, the harsh screech of wheels still resonating vividly in my head.
If I am Jean-Pierre, why has no one looked for me?
I return to my bed, try to watch some ridiculous soapie. It fails in distracting me from the real world.
I close my eyes instead. My first thought is to search the internet; find out more about Jean-Pierre. But without a surname, it would be no easy feat. Maybe check out old newspapers….
My eyes fly open. Looking down at me is a pretty, petite woman with strawberry blonde hair and blue-green eyes. I immediately gasp.
She nods. Confusion strikes me dumb. I follow her finger pointing to a set of clothes piled neatly at the foot of the bed.
“Get dressed, John,” she says. “We need to get you out of here… now.”
Written by: roseyn
Charlotte is weeping, soft, subtle weeps.
Yogi finds her on the usual sofa, with the usual red wine. But this time she is staring at a silver framed photo. Yogi knows the photo. It is of her teenage son, Max. “What’s wrong?” he asks. Concern rings true in his voice.
Charlotte instantly straightens. “Nothing important.”
In Yogi’s short-lived experience, tears are not a sign of nothing important. He fast rethinks his story choice for the day.
And then begins his tale.
Every morning, fifteen-year-old Taj arrived at the small, quaint railway station at exactly 6:30am. He wore his regular long, grey pants and white shirt [not a good colour for a potato-farm worker such as him, but the only ones he had].
That day he arrived at 6:10am.
His little sister was having a very loud tantrum. Taj couldn’t wait to leave.
Inside the railway shelter, sat a girl. She appeared a similar age to him and wore a perfectly pressed dress with bold colours, a starch-paralysed bow in her dark pony-tailed hair, newly polished shoes and a smile unmistakeably full of hope and eagerness. In her hands was a fresh bunch of pink lilies.
An approaching train rumbled closer and she stood. She poised on tiptoes, her rounded chin high as the train halted, as the doors squealed open.
As not a single person disembarked.
The girl lowered her shoulders and walked away.
The next day Taj appeared early again.
No screaming sister this time.
As he hoped, the girl was there, a replicate of the day before, except for the slightly wilted flowers, the less rigid bow and her shoes, faintly brushed with reddish dust.
The train came.
As did the girl.
Her dress and bow now appeared unloved, the lilies irreversible.
Before she walked away, Taj called out to her.
The girl swung on dull-lustred shoes and glanced at him with wide, chocolate eyes. Tears shimmered from their corners.
“Waiting for someone?”
It was after all the obvious question.
Her answer came quickly and with too much emotion. “My mother. This time she promised… to come.”
Taj felt his heart rip. He knew of such broken promises. He quickly fished through his pockets and then handed her a small object.
The girl frowned. In her hand was a milky white stone.
“Keep it close to you,” Taj said. “And every night, make your one, true wish.”
For the next several days, Taj arrived early, the station always empty.
But Taj never lost hope.
He knew the power of his stone.
One only had to believe.
Nearly a month passed before he saw the girl again… laughing and hugging a short woman with the same wide, chocolate eyes as hers.
Yogi felt enormous joy.
Charlotte is smiling; her cheeks now dry. “I could use a stone like that,” she says.
Yogi stands wearing a special smile of his own, then plants something in Charlotte’s hand.
It is a small, milky white stone.
Feel like the romance and sex in your relationship has become lost somewhere between having children and managing every day pressures such as work demands, home duties, and financial stresses?
Then you must read How to Get Your Boyfriend Back [From the Husband He Turned Into] by Julia Black. This reader-friendly book provides clear, practical and sometimes amusing suggestions in how to reignite the passion in your relationship.
It is well researched and uses a number of real-life examples. I particularly liked the dot-pointed summary, What to Do, at the end of each chapter and have personally taken on board many of Black’s suggestions. A great read.
I was given a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Written by: roseyn
Stella couldn’t breathe.
Something strong and pungent scorched her aching lungs. She coughed, rasped, struggled for air that wouldn’t come.
Immediately recognised the horrifying stench of smoke.
Instincts rolled her off the bed and down low on the rough, timber flooring. A hungry succession of short gasps followed. Her eyes stung.
Closing them? Little relief.
Opening them? Just more blinding smoke.
With her skin unbearably hot, her stomach bilious, Stella crawled forward, mapping her way to the door. There, crackling flames flicked and licked the darkening doorjamb.
Her mind screamed.
And in the distance came their cries, long, bloodcurdling cries.
Stella lurched up with an enormous gasp, her eyes stretched wide, her pjs drenched, her body quivering.
But was it? She could still taste the smoke; still sense her skin burn hot and her chest felt as if a giant clamp was strangling it. She instantly leapt from her bed, tripped on a crooked rug. She swore, used the bed’s edge to right herself and stumbled directly to the tiny, serviceable kitchen.
All appeared as normal.
Even so, Stella fell headlong into her compulsive ‘checking’. The stove, the oven, and all six power points ensuring nothing suggested the early birth of fire. Once satisfied, she scoured the remaining rooms in a similar fashion, her own bedroom always left until last.
Exhausted, she slumped on her bed, avoided the ugly, twisted scars on her arms and wept.
The shower was warm and soothing, better than expected, better than she deserved. It loosened her stiff muscles, helped dampen the dull throb in her head. Even the sweet smell of her new orange body wash was surprisingly uplifting. She stayed immersed beneath the powerful jets, until her fingers wrinkled, until she felt strong enough to face the next step in her life.
Once dried and dressed, she pocketed her mobile phone into her stonewashed jeans, grabbed her wallet and car keys. She did one last compulsive check and left the apartment.
The bridge loomed large as it always did, the tip of its steeply arched structure semi-hidden by the hazy, early morning skyline. Even the tall, contemporary buildings scraping the nearby distance couldn’t compete with the bridge’s striking, antiquated exterior, its cold grey steel rich with the warmth and colour of history.
Stella could hear it calling to her.
She hurried across two minor roads and down a long, winding path towards it.
The icy southerlies nipped her reddened cheeks and a glance at the hovering black clouds made her pull her denim jacket tighter around her. Nondescript vehicles filtered in and out of her peripheral vision, their noxious fumes strong, destructive.
Stella found Betina huddled under her usual grubby blankets, coddling a half-empty bottle of sherry. Unfriendly smells drifted from her. Nearby, something small scurried beneath torn, crumpled newspapers. “I need… to… talk… to you… please.”
Betina wrinkled her stubby nose and grunted. “Aint ya got some’a else?”
Stella swallowed. “No,” she mumbled. “I haven’t got anyone….
Written by: roseyn
I sat on the shaky squab, my arms wrapped around my legs and hungrily searched for freedom. The wooden door on my left was old, splintery but it sported an incongruously shiny new knob.
My eyes next slid to the window.
“Too little,” Mario said as he crouched in front of me. A small, slim switchblade met my face. “There’s nowhere to go.”
I refrained from looking at it.
“Tell me about this fool proof anti-hacking system. The one you call Osmosis.”
I automatically stiffened. How did Mario know that? Unless…. My shivers were tremors now. Mario whipped out his hand and clamped his long fingers around my throat. My eyes flew open and I gasped. He began circling my bloody wound with his switchblade, its cold tip sizzling against my burning skin. I braced myself expecting the worse.
“You have such a pretty face,” he whispered in a bone-chilling tone. I knew without doubt that he was warning me. “Osmosis. Yes or no?”
‘Osmosis’, my own personal project, did exist. But, in the wrong hands? Disastrous. Like worldwide disastrous. And as an employee of the Intelligence Bureau, I couldn’t allow that. However, I also knew that Mario would eventually break me.
And I couldn’t allow that either.
Despair hung heavily on me as I realised there was only one way out. The white, tiny pill stored in my wristwatch. The ‘kill pill’ as the more brash agents of the IB called it. Tears pricked my eyes as I pictured a brightly lit Christmas tree, surrounded with colourfully wrapped gifts, young squealing children and their loving dad … my future children, my future husband. The ones I would now never have. Rage, hot and wild, suddenly swept through me, along with a solid dose of determination. I wasn’t dying… damn it. Not like this. And not now.
“Yes,” I spluttered.
Mario bore the triumphant expression of the victor as he released me.
His first mistake.
I gulped quick, short breaths and rubbed the tender skin on my throat.
I then began some moral gibberish about computer hacking, all the while leaning back on my hands. Mario leant forward. I had him hooked.
Mistake number two.
I bent my knees slightly and beckoned Mario closer. He did.
His third and final mistake.
I then rammed my feet directly into his groin. He buckled. I darted. Straight to the hatchway. I unlocked the bolts and jumped into a dark, foreign world.
“Sarah, thank god.”
It was the man on the phone. My ex. Marty.
Written by: roseyn
I was experienced neither in the rudiments of polite conversation nor in the proper carriage expected in such favourable company. Be it what it would, I maintained an upright posture [at times made difficult with the lamentable conditions of the road] and with a countenance I prayed was pleasant. “So what know you of my uncle?”
The Reverend half-smiled. “Silas Dench was a most formidable and shrewd gentleman. And one who gladly bestowed his charitable assistance to those less fortunate.” He fixed his eye upon me, longer than I deemed comfortable. “But, I expect you are already acquainted with his notable generosity.”
I thought his manner to be odd, a little too curious. “I fear you know my uncle better than I. But yes, in thanks to his ‘notable generosity’, good fortune has indeed befallen me.”
The Reverend coughed quietly. “Pardon me but my latter statement was not in reference to your own good personage… but to the Bal Maids.”
I took immediate pause and gave thought to the Maids, the young, unmarried women who laboured at the East Levant Mines and of their now, precarious situation due to my uncle’s passing. “To be sure, Reverend, the Maids will continue residing in the estate’s cottage as they have done these past years.”
The reverend nodded. “You appear to have inherited your uncle’s remarkable compassion as well. But there are those who think accommodating the Maidens most inappropriate.”
The perpetual strain in maintaining a straightened carriage began to cause me considerable discomfort. I adjusted my silk cravat, a forced pretence to relieve my hands from petrification. “And you, Reverend? What is your view?”
“My view is irrelevant,” he said, with a markedly dismissive voice. “And I do hate capitulating to sordid gossip.”
I didn’t consider myself a highly learned man but the irony of his statement was quite laughable. Still, his warning left me more than a little nonplussed.
We settled into a congenial discourse upon the approaching royal wedding. In truth, it was more favourable to the Reverend’s knowledge, but it relieved me into a more comfortable state.
Before too long the clip-clop of the horse’s hooves fell into slow trot, the eternal shroud of road dust cleared and we arrived at my journey’s end.
I hadn’t really contemplated my Uncle’s abode. But I stared in awe as the splendid colours of twilight alighted the two-storey stoned dwelling upon its regal chimneystacks projecting from a wavy, slate roofline, upon its bountiful, verdant gardens.
The carriage stopped near the arched door. I expressed my gratitude to the Reverend and descended the carriage. Before parting company, I distinguished joyous laughter to our left. A small group of ladies, attired in traditional white protective clothing.
The Bal Maids.
I stood fascinated by one in particular.
A most agreeable looking woman, even handsome despite her resolute glare and her ill-meaning smile.
“The Bal Maid of Great Condurrow,” the Reverend said, as if it were some ghastly affliction. “That’s the title she has behest herself.”