We bought an old house, my boyfriend and I. He’s in charge of the “new” construction – converting the kitchen in to the master bedroom for instance, while I’m on wallpaper removal duty. The previous owner papered EVERY wall and CEILING! Removing it is brutal, but oddly satisfying. The best feeling is getting a long peel, similar to your skin when you’re peeling from a sunburn. I don’t know about you but I kinda make a game of peeling, on the hunt for the longest piece before it rips.Under a corner section of paper in every room is a person’s name and a date. Curiosity got the best of me one night when I Googled one of the names and discovered the person was actually a missing person, the missing date matching the date under the wallpaper! The next day, I made a list of all the names and dates. Sure enough each name was for a missing person with dates to match. We notified the police who naturally sent out the crime scene team. I overhead one tech say “yup, it’s human.” Human? What’s human? “Ma’am, where is the material you removed from the walls already? This isn’t wallpaper you were removing.”
Remember to like and comment and click the follow button to subscribe
When I was a freshman in high school (14 years old), I met the boy of my dreams by lying to my best friend. I was always the type of child who would be left out because my only talents were things you could only do alone, like writing poetry.
My best friend, Dave, was starting a band, and I wanted to join it. I had no musical talents, and no desire to learn music, either. I told Dave that I played the drums so he would let me join, I mean, how hard is it to keep a beat? If my brother could do it, so could I. So a few days later I went to our first practice at a boys house who they called “Shoey”. My father dropped me off, and I knocked on the door. “Shoey’s” little brother let me in and led me to the basement. There was the whole band, all set up and ready to go. On the other side of the room was a young man tuning his guitar. They introduced him as “Shoey”. I smiled, shook his hand, and walked over to the drum set to display my “talents”. I actually wasn’t that bad. But in no way was I good, either. Luckily, no one in the band was all that talented, except Shoey.
When everyone decided to go outside on that cold winter day to smoke a cigarette in the woods, Shoey and I followed, though neither of us smoked. We talked, and he offered me his jacket. I refused. I had a sweatshirt, and though I was still cold, I noticed he only had a t-shirt under his coat, and didn’t want him to be cold. After 5 minutes of arguing back and forth about his jacket, he unzipped it, and wrapped it around both of us. I think we were both a little shocked. He had never had a girlfriend before, nor had he even kissed a girl, and here he was being all romantic. Later that day, I kissed him goodbye and left the band practice, which would be the last practice.
That was March 7th, 1999. I am now a junior in college, and he is graduated with a degree in computers. We are looking into starting a family when I get out of school. I still look back on these days and laugh. I didn’t even know his real name until a week into the relationship…I called him Shoey. I call him Dan now, and I never would have met him had I not lied to my best friend about my absent talents.
In high school, a relationship can last only a few days or weeks, enough to get one through the social events of the season, which in this case were the Spring Formal and the Powder Puff Game. Today, I cannot recall which came first. I know this: I attended both the kegger that followed the game and the formal dance with a rapist. My rapist.
He was the captain of a sports team and was regarded as having a shot at a professional career, even if he also was clearly deficient in the brains department. I liked him simply because I was concerned at the time with being popular, and dating a sports captain was an automatic ticket to the in crowd.
I was also uncomfortably a member of the Most Likely to Succeed crowd, and dating a high school sports star was becoming a habit for me; I’d previously been dating another less-than-brilliant young man who ranked high on the rosters of both the football and baseball teams. He was no prince of morals either; he dated me behind the back of his “real” girlfriend, who ultimately was crowned homecoming queen.
But we left the keg party to drive to the house where he lived with his parents and pick up some eight-track tapes for the party. I had consumed a little bit of beer at the party just to fit in, as I didn’t like beer and wasn’t accustomed to drinking. I felt drunk, unstable on my feet.
A COUPLE OF YEARS LATER, I ENCOUNTERED MY RAPIST ON SPRING BREAK FROM COLLEGE AT A HOMETOWN BAR WHERE MY DAD TOOK ME TO DEMONSTRATE WHAT A “GROWN-UP” COLLEGE STUDENT I NOW WAS.
We went in through the garage; no one was home. He pushed me down onto my back on a sofa in the family room, pulled down my pants and forced himself into me. I recall feeling acutely aware of how weak my arms felt, like jelly. I still recall the sensation of utter helplessness. I could not push him off. I recall saying “no” several times. It didn’t matter. He kept going and was done quite quickly; he pulled up his pants and in mute shock, I assembled myself and we got back into the car and went back to the party.
I vaguely recall that the dance came afterthe rape and that I attended it with him despite the rape, because I was trying to maintain the facade that I was so cool and nonchalant about sex that the attack had not upset me.
Over the next several days my mind was preoccupied with only one thought: What would I do if I were pregnant?
My parents were very strict immigrants from Eastern Europe who set a stern curfew, had complete confidence that I would attend a top university and regularly checked for signs that I’d been smoking cigarettes when out with my friends. We had never discussed sex, and I knew that although they were loving and supportive, they would be shocked at the idea that I’d had any sort of sexual relations with a man.
When I got my period, I was incredibly relieved. At the time, I felt pride at my cavalier attitude about the attack once my anxiety about pregnancy was relieved. By that time, I’d consumed a lot of literature from the ’60s, including Portnoy’s Complaint, and thought my sanguine attitude was simply because I was cool and cultured.
MY ATTITUDE AT THE TIME WAS THAT THE “POOR GUY” WAS SO STUPID HE KNEW NOT WHAT HE HAD DONE.
A couple of years later, I encountered my rapist on spring break from college at a hometown bar where my dad took me to demonstrate what a “grown-up” college student I now was. My rapist asked me to dance and I accepted, congratulating myself on my forgiving nature and again, my “cool” attitude about sex. My attitude at the time was that the “poor guy” was so stupid he knew not what he had done. I tend to still believe that.
But my rapist? Well, I found an item in the local police blotter: He’d ended up in jail on a petty theft charge. His bright athletic future never came to fruition. As for me, I went to law school when I was 28 and still never told anyone what happened to me. I worked hard to be published in the school’s law review — my topic was Rape Trauma Syndrome, inspired by an Indiana case in which the jury acquitted the defendant of a rape charge because the plaintiff had shown insufficient trauma.
The jury had been allowed to hear evidence that she’d gone out dancing in the days following the attack. The case outraged me. I knew from experience that it is eminently easy to pretend, even to oneself, that the attack “was nothing.” Yet, I still told no one of the motivation behind my interest in writing on criminal law, a field I did not pursue. To this day, although I mention the article on my résumé, I delete the reference to its title.
So before Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s letter to Dianne Feinstein was revealed to the general public, I’d recently begun telling the story of how I was raped at the age of 16 by a boy in my high school class. I had kept the story a secret from everyone in my life for nearly 40 years, with the exception of the young man I briefly dated as a freshman in college.
I never told my parents; I never told my younger sister, with whom I am still very close; and I never told any of the women with whom I was very close friends in high school and college. I never told any of my current girlfriends, until close to a year after the Harvey Weinstein allegations became public. I still have not told my sister, who knew the perpetrator. I want to shield her from it. I still have not been able to tell of it to a man I have been regularly dating for the past five years.
But I still remember the attack as if it just happened. I remember the sensation of terrible weakness in my arms and that I said “no” many times and was ignored. I remember that there was a pool at the house where the party was held, and that’s where the keg was located. It was a lovely, balmy night, typical of the town where I grew up, and I’m pretty sure the shirt I was wearing was light pink and had frilly cap sleeves.
And I still remember the cul-de-sac on which the rapist lived, and that no one was home, and details of the “rumpus room” where the rape occurred. I’m pretty sure he drove a gray Honda Civic, which was a relatively new model at the time. I remember vividly what he looked like. His name, of course, I will never forget.
What can I say about a girl I loved since I was ten… that I love the way she laughs at me when I commit mistakes, the way she fusses over silly things and even the way she cries over some sad silly late night show…
She was my best friend and I have known her since we were small. She knew all my secrets, which reveals my feelings for her, that I love her not only because she’s pretty and smart but also the way she laughs at everything and the way she sees life and love. I could still remember the first time we met; I was five years old then. It was one windy afternoon having no one to play with except for my best friend, Troy. He and his family just moved out to a neighboring state at transfer because his father got promoted. And so I climbed up our tree house, I saw a moving truck coming down the street. I watched it approaching and noticed a family station wagon following it. It stopped in front of the house and out came a family. I was about to glance away when came out the loveliest girl I’ve ever seen.
She was four years old that time but then even at an early age she was a beauty. She had long curly hair, which reached almost to her waist. She had fair complexion and eyes which could make a man lose his heart into them. I continued to watch her when suddenly she looked up and saw me watching them in the tree house window. I was about to duck when she smiled and waved her hand. I waved back and then watched in amazement as I saw her running towards the tree house. So I went to the edge of the ladder and said, “Would you like to come up?” she answered, “May I?” So I help her climb up and when she reached the top she then turned to me and said, “By the way, my name’s Sam, what’s yours?” I answered, “My name is Christopher but then you can call me Chris.” She smiled and said, “Well I like your name. Hey your tree house’s neat!” then I replied, “Thanks! Troy and I made this. This used to be our hide out. We used to goof around, play ball and go biking together. He was my best friend and I kind of miss him you know.” She smiled and said “I’m here now, we could do things you do with Troy and I could be your new best friend too. I never had a boy for a friend before so it could be exciting to have one. I could learn how to play ball and I have my bicycle so we could go biking together. Now how does that sound to you?” I smiled and said, “Well that sounds good enough.” Then she held her hand and said, “It’s a deal then!”
So that’s how it started. So we became best friends and it was kind of strange at first for she was a girl and there are things which I was little bit hesitant to indulge her like catching frogs, swimming in the lake and climbing trees, but then she tried and did everything just to please me. There was even a time when she fell off the bike trying to catch up with me in a race we had and I was the one who bandaged her scraped knee. I could still remember the time when she hit the window of our neighbor when we were playing baseball and it was I who talked to Mr. Chambers and promised to pay for the damage, which meant having to loose a week’s allowance. I remembered the time when I fell off the tree when I tried to rescue a little kitten because Sam was near to tears when she saw the helpless kitten trapped in a branch. I even fought with the tough guy when they teased Sam and made her cry and I ended up having a black eye and a bruised cheek. I remember Sam crying as she placed an ice bag over the damaged eye and later gave it a get-well kiss. I did everything to please her and gave everything her little heart desires.
The lake was our favorite hang out. We had our Saturday swim routine. We would pack food and later eat them under the big oak tree. There was a special branch in which the two of us could sit together and tell each other’s dreams. She dreams of being a Ballerina and she knows my dream of becoming a doctor. She never laughs at my dreams and pursuits even if they were quite impossible. It made me like her even more.
As years went by, I noticed that my feelings towards her were slowly changing. Somehow, I thought it was just a simple crush case. But when I started thinking about her at night, dreaming of her and having the feeling of wanting to be with her all the time, I thought it was something different, something that made me feel strange, but then it was exhilarating feeling. It made me feel so alive. Whenever our hands touch, I could feel the tingling sensation in my spine. Once when we were at the lake having our Saturday swim routine and as I carried her towards the water edge, I had the feeling of not wanting to let go. I just wanted that moment to continue hoping it would never end. I then realized I was slowly falling in love with my best friend.
Many times I tried to deny the feeling for I was scared to imagine what would happen if ever I’d try to tell her how I feel about her. I was scared because she might think that I’m taking advantage of her and our friendship. I was afraid of losing her so I just kept my feeling hidden.
We reached the age of fifteen and I noticed that Sam grew lovelier each day. How my heart aches wherever I see boys glance her way. I want to punch their noses as I watch them talking to her giving compliments, flowers and chocolates. There were times when I watch her at a distance with mixed feelings of anger and hurt! Because it hurts so much to know that there were so many things I wanted to tell her but then I could not do so. There were so many presents which I long to give her but then I could not for she might see me only as a friend. I was also scared of letting her know how I feel about her as much as losing her.
Then one day, I just learned from a friend that she already had a boyfriend. At first, I tried to convince myself that it was just a rumor. Her boyfriend was Mark, a popular senior, who was the heartthrob of the campus. She, being the cheerleader was close to the basketball team to which Mark was the captain. When I saw them walking together at the parking lot that afternoon, I watched her with my heart slowly breaking into pieces. I saw her wave at me but I just pretended not to see her for I was scared that she might see in my eyes the pain I’m feeling inside because of seeing her with another guy. Those days that followed where the saddest days of my life. How my heart aches when I see her walk by me with him at her side. Every time we meet in hallways and I see him around her, there’s a feeling inside me that makes me want to grab her away from him. How it hurts to see the girl I long possess was now owned by somebody else. That special smile I long for her to cast on me was now casted on him. As she passes by me she doesn’t know that I whisper the words “God how I love you.”
Then one faithful day they broke up. She came too me that evening crying on my shoulder. They had a big fight and it ended up with their break up. Mixed feelings were scaring me inside. I was happy because she was free and maybe I would have the chance of telling her my true feelings for her but then I was feeling so bad because she is crying her heart out just for him. At that time, I was not quite sure of what I wanted to do.
So we found ourselves doing what we did in old days with our Saturday swim routine, spending time in our tree house. We still enjoyed doing childish pranks for we still are both young at heart. So many chances I had for me to confess my feelings for her but still I couldn’t bring myself to her for I was scared of losing her once more. I once lost her, now I could not bear of losing her again by telling her, “I love her”. So I just kept my feelings even if it was bursting to be expressed from my aching heart.
It was a week from our JS Prom, we were seated at the branch of an oak tree drying ourselves after our afternoon swim when she said, “I was wondering Chris if you would like to be my partner?” It just got out of my wits for it was like a dream I never thought would happen. It took me awhile to answer her, “I thought there are so many boys who would die for you to be their partner?” So she turned away and quietly said, “Well I just thought I would like to spend that night with my best friend.” Then she continued in a whisper I could barely hear, “Don’t you want to die just like them to be my partner Chris?” I was too stunned to speak for it came close for me to blurt my feelings for her. We… we’re silent for a while until I finally whispered, “I would be happy to be your partner Sam. “The she smiled and suddenly kissed my cheek. I could hardly contain the joy I felt that time. I saw her turned red and bowed her head. Suddenly she stood up and run towards the water saying, “Last one to reach the water treats to sundae fudge!”I ran slowed up so that I would lose which meant having to have her with me for another three hours or more.
Our Prom night came. I bought a new tuxedo and poured almost the entire bottle of perfume. I went to fetch Sam. Sam’s mother greeted me and I went to sit in the living room waiting for her to come down. I was talking to her father when I heard her say, “How do I look?” I look up and saw her lovelier than ever in a strapless white dress with her hair flowing around her face. I stood up and opened my mouth but found out I could not find my voice. Then I got her hand shakily fastened the corsage around her wrist and whispered, “To the loveliest girl in the whole world.” She then asked, “Is that true?” I nodded and she smiled and I smiled back then I turned to open the door for her. When we arrived at the gymnasium we hardly recognized our classmates. Gone were the jeans and T-shirts. They were replaced with tuxedos and gowns. Then I held out her hand bowed and said, “Would you give me the honor of your first dance?” She laughed and curtseyed. Then I led her to the dance floor. It was like a dream coming true, a moment of enchantment. I was there dancing with the only girl I ever loved. She was smiling up to me, as we were slowly moving in a smooth gliding motion. I found myself lost as I stared down to her sparkling eyes. The curls of her long hair were like waves enhancing her beautiful face. There were so many things I wanted to tell her that moment. I wanted to tell that she was the most beautiful girl that night. I wanted to tell her that she would always be the beacon of light in my darkness, but what I wanted to tell her the most was that I love her. I drew up all my courage and bent to whisper it in her ear but suddenly the music stopped and the magic was gone. I came close to telling her, but still haven’t done it.
We walked towards the table and found ourselves surrounded by friends. I asked her if she wanted a drink, she nodded and so I went to get one. It took me a long time to get one and when I returned to our table, she was gone. I asked her friend, Katie, where she was but she told me that she doesn’t know. So I went to search for her. As I was searching for her, I reached the garden. There I saw two silhouette figures outlined by the moon’s silvery light. They were so close to each other that I could never describe the feeling I had when I recognized the white dress that Sam was wearing that night. I just turned and left the gymnasium.
Since that night, I avoided her. Many times she tried talking to me but I never gave her the chance to do so. I was afraid to hear her say that she loves Mark and not me. I would rather have left in ignorance of her true feelings for me than to hear from those dreaded words and feel my hope crush and my heart break. I didn’t return her calls. I would not see her if she comes into our house. In the hallways, as she approaches I would go to another direction. It also hurts to do those things but then I thought that was the best way to forget her. Those months were tormenting but still I kept my pride.
The day of our graduation came. I was planning to take up medicine at a neighboring state and was to move out the next day. As the program ended, she approached me and handed me a rose. As she stared at me, there was something in her eyes I couldn’t describe. There was sadness in them and when she smiled it wasn’t the same smile she had. I wanted to hug her at that moment, tell her that I love her but then she turned and walked away from me.
So I moved out the next day as I planned. Luckily, I was accepted at the university. I concentrated with my studies but still I think of her at night. I was always wondering if she thinks of me too. I tried hard not to think of her but still I could not stop myself from loving her. Each achievement I have was done for her. I thought that if I will be successful one day, I would be able to tell her that I love her and by that time, I’m worthy of having her.
It was a year after our graduation when I decided to return home and see her again. I thought a year is too much for me not to see her and during the past year I felt like a person lost in the desert and only the sight of her could quench the thirst I have inside. As I got off the plane, I went home directly, desperate to get to her house desperate to see her, to hug her. Then I would tell her that I missed her and that I have loved her for a long time. This time I am determined to let her know my true feelings for her and I could not contain anymore the love I have for her. I reached their house; I saw her elder sister and I approached her. I smiled at her but I noticed she didn’t smile back. I was confused for she used to be a cheerful lady just like my dear Sam. I then asked, “Hi Jen! I guess you’re surprised why I’m here. Well I just want to visit you and I was also hoping to see Sam. I kind of miss her you know. Mmm… by the way have you seen her?” All I saw was sadness in her eyes as she replied quietly “Come follow me.”
I was confused with the way she’s acting but still I followed her. As we were walking, I was trying to indulge her in a conversation but she just answered my question briefly. Then I realized that she was leading me to the direction of the lake. It was still the same as I left it, with the same oak tree, Sam and I used to climb up. I smiled upon remembering the kiss Sam gave me when I agreed to be her partner. It’s been one of the happiest days in my life and I realized that I missed Sam more than I thought. Then Jen stopped walking and pointed to the tree. She then whispered, “There’s Sam.”
I looked at where she was pointing and saw a newly dug tomb with the name of the girl I ever loved. I could not believe at what I saw and desperately tried convincing myself that this is all just a nightmare and I would soon wake up. I stared at Jenny in disbelief with her eyes searching for explanations and she slowly started saying, “It has been a week since she died. She died of Leukemia, but even though she was sick, she never stopped thinking about you. It was even your name she uttered before she died. She asked us to bury her here for she always regards this place as a place of LOVE. She said that this is where she had spent the happiest days and that was when she was with you. By the way, she also asked me to give you this.” She handed me a parcel and with that she left.
I slowly opened the parcel and saw that it contained the dried orchid from the corsage I gave her for our prom. Then at the bottom I saw a letter. It was dated last month. I opened it with shaking hands and started reading……..
I know… by this time you read this letter I’m gone. I just want to tell you that I feel very lucky and thankful to God that I had a friend like you. I would also like you to know that I had left something inside, something I kept from you all these years. I love you Chris, not in a friendly way but as one who would feel like spending the rest of my life with. I have always loved you even from the start. I guess it just bloomed each day that’s why the happiest days of my life was… when you were by my side. You just don’t know how I dreamed of you at night and wake up in the morning and dream no more for you were with me. When you were away, I can’t stop crying because I was afraid to think that you are with another girl. I just can’t bear to see you with another girl. I just want you all to myself. I may sound selfish but that’s how I feel.
Each time, you held me close to you, was like a dream coming true, for to be close to you and feel your heart beating next to mine was like heaven. So many things I did so that you will learn to love me but I NEVER saw a hint. I did everything to please you because I love you so much that I even tried to fool myself that you’re in love with me too. So many nights I’ve cried when I think of myself unloved by you. Well you might think that what I’m saying are lies but, I tell you, my heart speaks the truth for I cannot bear telling a lie to the one I love. I know you might be thinking of Mark; but I just did that to make you jealous, to make you see me as a young woman, capable of loving and not as the little girl you used to play with. Sometimes I imagined that you were jealous and fooled myself that it was a sign that you feel something for me too. When Mark and I broke up and I came crying, I just did that to know… how you would react and with that I’ll know that you love me too. But I failed for you didn’t give me any clue. When our prom night came, you just don’t know how happy I was when you handed me the corsage and saying that I was the loveliest girl in the whole world. While we were dancing, I wanted so desperately to hear you say that you love me too but you NEVER did. When Mark came and pleaded me to give him a second chance, I was scared that you might see us talking. I didn’t want you to get the wrong impression so I told him we would talk in the garden. There I explained to him that it’s you whom I really love.
What happened next was that I found you missing and later learned that you were searching for me, I just concluded that you saw us together. The next day, I tried to explain but then you never gave me a chance to do so. You continuously avoided me and never knew how much pain I’ve experienced that time. I felt the world crushing on me. In our Graduation day, when I approached you, I wanted to tell you… how much I loved you but I decided that I just couldn’t do it. I could not bear to hear that all you feel for me is just brotherly hand of love. For I want you to love me as a woman and not as a girl or playmate. So I just turned away and left.
Now that saying I LOVE YOU might be too late, but still I want you to know that I will always love you and my heart has always been and will be yours alone.
P.S.: Think of me sometimes… and always remember that loving you was the best thing that ever happened in my life.
I felt my tears falling as I folded the letter. I wanted to shout out to let her know that I love her, if not as much, but more than she did for me. I love her more than anything in this world. I knelt touching the soil of her grave and rain started to fall. I continued crying softly and whispered, “Oh God, send my love to heaven.”
In China every student is assigned a desk to share with another student. Only in college where students move from classroom to classroom each lesson is this not so. People must have stories about their classmates they have shared desks with. Whether you like or not, someone there sitting beside you from every single sunrise to sunset.
Approximately twelve classmates I met, who once shared a desk with me, occupy the memory of my youth, each of which is like a treasure of mine, sneaking into my dreams occasionally, dragging me back to that extraordinary time and bringing tears to my eyes unwittingly. Among them, swallow, a nickname of a girl, was the last one.
She was my classmate but not the one sitting beside me at the very beginning. One rumour related to her, which I never care about, caused the teacher, who was responsible for this class, to decide to exchange her seat. So, she became the one sitting beside me. We were not well known to each other before, since she was as ordinary as other classmates to my mind. However, she became the unique one as time went by.
Pink T-shirt coupled with a skirt comprised her style in summer, this is how she always appears in my mind. Sweet smile with white neat teeth but one slightly askew was her mark. Tranquilly, elegantly and gently the way she sat could make the entire world silent, quiet and peaceful. No one, deeply with their heart, could help stopping being attracted by her, at least for me.
She was my classmate. The more I kept contact with her, the more I was fascinated by her. Good at English but not physics, she played a role of English tutor to me. Including her, A few girls sitting around me, were considered to be “live dictionaries”, since I am too lazy to check any English word myself. No fighting between us, no imaginary boundary separating us in the middle of the desk, we had a harmonious relationship which was abnormal since a girl and a boy always quarrel at that age as it seemed hard for them to make an agreement.
The farewell was in a gorgeous day, sunshine, a little breeze and amiable temperature, but I am sad. A small pack of plum candy was the last gift I gave her. Just as a piece of cloud floating away, she had gone and disappeared. People yearning for light in a deep dark night, flowers longing for rain and dew in severe droughty weather, I am missing her.
Although thirteen years past, she is still vivid in my mind, as the things happened yesterday. With a book under arm, sneaking to the classroom from the back door and quietly sitting beside her, I repeat it in almost every dream. I am missing her.
Considering herself as an elder sister of mine, smiling in a little bit smirk way, careful doing everything but in fact faltering sometimes, she was an ordinary girl whilst distinctive and unique. She has held all my heart those many years, resulting in no place for any other person. She was a disaster for me at that age.
With strong will, I can fulfill every dream through hard work. But like a boxer fighting in cotton, or birds flying in water, no matter what a strong will I have, I have little chance to capture her. Regardless of how wonderful she is, how sweet her smiles, and how elegant her postures, she, from the very beginning, is just not my destination.
He got up to pee. He didn’t want to get up, he wanted to sleep. Old age and time dictated that sleep would have to take a back seat to sleeping in a puddle of pee. His normal good nature crept back in as the picture of him laying in a puddle of pee settled into his mind. He chuckled.
It was dark. That didn’t matter. He had done that late night walk to the bathroom several times a night (and quite a few during the day too) for almost the entire decade since he retired. It was as natural to him now as forgetting where his glasses were. And just as annoying.
It was the middle of the night. He gently closed the door to their bedroom. His comings and goings never wakened her…but light, well that would often make her stir a bit. Sometimes even bringing her to the edge of wakefulness:
“Honey, you okay?’
A sleep worried voice would come from her side of the bed.
“I’m fine, Honey. It’s okay. I just had to pee. I love you.”
A moment later and he would hear her breathing slow down a bit…then that snore that was like white noise to him now. He would smile again. She thought she didn’t snore. Just him. That became his own secret – he would never tell her they both snored.
In the middle of the night, that snore often let him return to sleep the moment his head hit the pillow. It also made him reach over to her side of the bed, placing one of his vein ridden hands on top of her now plump hip. She would reach, even in her deepest sleep- to pat his hand. It wasn’t a conscious act anymore. It was a connection too deep for that.
It was the middle of the night- both of them reassuring the other with a touch, a few words, or the answer to: ”You Okay?” that they were together…and still alive. It was enough.
He made some tea. That brought yet another smile to a face that had smiled more than it had frowned for more than seventy years. When he was younger, tea, well tea would keep him awake. Now he would often sip a whole cup of tea while sitting in the dark – pee, and go back to bed. The whole time he was sipping the tea he would just listen to her snore, ride the waves of time back to their youth, or enjoy the quiet of the middle of the night.
Sometimes, she would wake up enough to go to the fridge to get water. He would watch her slip silently past him…thinking he was asleep in his recliner. Even half asleep, thirsty, and in the middle of the night, she cared about him. She wouldn’t want to disturb him, or wake him. As she passed by to return to the bedroom she would caress his foot lightly with one hand.
It was a ritual almost as old as their four plus decades of being together. He would whisper out into the darkness:
“I love you too.”
He didn’t need light to see the smile he knew that put on her face. He didn’t need his hearing aides in to hear the soft return:
“I love you, too.”
Sometimes, in the Middle of the night, the rain would pound against the roof. Both of them would have to pee at the same time. He liked those nights with the pounding rain and the mutual call of nature. For on those nights he would make tea for himself, hot chocolate for her and they would sit on their enclosed front porch and watch the rain fall.
Sometimes they would talk about the past. Sometimes the future. Sometimes about things they learned that day, or in the last week. Most times they just sat quietly sipping their drinks in the middle of the night. She would wear her Granny Pajamas that ground out any thought of sexuality but left her femininity intact. He would wear old boxer shorts and a robe missing the belt. He could care less that his lap was now occupied by a small rounded belly and not the flat stomach of youth.
It was the middle of the night, they were both old and gray, and the rain was making sure nobody was peeking onto their porch to comment on their aged bodies. If they were, well that thought made him smile too. So he told her about it. Her laugh was like wind chimes to him: delicate, sweet, flute like.
“A little chilly, Honey.”
“We better go in then. That lightening is a bit scary.”
Two hands then reached for each other. Another quiet habit as old as their marriage and even a few years before that. Even in the middle of the night that habit never failed them.
“Did you lock the door?”
It might have been two AM, or three, or even four AM…somewhere in the middle of the night, when they let go of each other’s hands. Him to crawl into his side of the bed. Her to crawl into hers. A momentary and ritual fight over the sheets and blankets brought a smile to both of them.
In the darkness, with a backdrop of snoring from both sides, a hand reached to rest on a plump hip. A soft warm wrinkled hand covered it to pat it with loving security.
It was the middle of the night.
He was a nice man, good looking and a church go-er, he was loyal to god as much as he was his wife Ann-Marie. He’s tall, around about 6’2 I’d say, not much meat on his bones but well looked after whether it was by himself or his wife. Tint of dark in his skin and bright green eyes, I could see why Ann-Marie loved him, but his looks wasn’t just who defined him, he would always have a glowing smile that would stand out in the crowd, his voice was one the angels loved to listen to, never a violent side to him, never a bad look in his face.
What made him do it?
Ann-Marie was slightly younger, the 24 year old who always dressed appropriately and was proud to show off her perfect man, every Sunday morning they would walk in to church together, holding hands… smiling and welcoming everyone they walked by, never a day went by that they didn’t show up to church.
On September the 12th 1984, He had turned up to church without his woman at his side, just him, himself and god. Many people fussed around him, “how is your wife?” He was questioned a few times, “she is good, resting at home” he would reply, everyone quickly become suspicious but not long after we was to find out… there was to be a congratulations in order, when Ann-Marie was back on his side but her stomach was much more slightly bloated, straight away people raced over to them both with glowing smiles, some didn’t approve but the ones that did fluttered them with happiness.
“Meeting the murderer” you wouldn’t think it right? You’d expect a jobless man with nothing to loose but him, he had everything to loose.
Months went by and Ann-Marie got bigger, they had broke the news of expecting their baby girl by the begging of June, although it was March and she was getting bigger and having the pregnancy struggles, she still always shown her face in the church. Since we found out, the priest would always have us sing along to a personal good luck song, ensuring our song was heard with the angels and their baby will grow stronger each day. She was looking really good, they started to look a bit more distant but I suppose that is simply what having a baby does. Having a baby plays with your emotions and the way you feel, it’s life and it’s a life growing inside of you which makes it worth it but I don’t think he understood this when she told him she was leaving.
Anger flustered through his mind, he felt overpowered by the woman carrying his daughter, he rang the emergency number, “I’ve stabbed my wife 17 times! She’s lay head on the kitchen floor.” He handed himself in before racing to the kitchen and killing her by stabbing her 17 times like he said. The police later turned up
Weeks went by, it was his trail date, he had admitted to everything and will more than likely plead guilt to murdering his wife and unborn baby. But his solicitor has other plans rather than jail. “I murdered my wife, god has yet to forgive me” head line news all over the paper, will his faith in god let him be a free man?
No he wasn’t a free man, at least not for 18 months he wasn’t. A reduced sentence for the heart felt man he was, his loyalty to god and his guilty plead. Even in prison he never missed a day of praying… did he actually make a mistake? Will god forgive such a violent crime and will he ever forgive himself?
18 months passed, he was back out, his first mission was to go to his community church and ask the community for forgiveness. Many turned him down but many accepted, “thou shalt not kill… but thou shall give forgiveness when asked” the priest responded before shaking his hand, “welcome back, Darius” he welcomed before walking through to the front of the church where the priest then repeated loudly, “thou shall give forgiveness when asked” most clapped and agreed but others had over opinions, “thou shall not covet” a voice shallowly but confidently shouted from the other side of the church, low silence claps of agreements follow.
Months went on and the ones who didn’t forgive started to accept he is a member of their community and he does have the same love for god as they share. He was welcomed to sit where he pleased without the funny looks and the quiet judging, he felt normal again but obviously his wife and child wasn’t there, but that is something he is to live with for the rest of his life.
Years went on, all had been forgotten until one day, he was welcomed into a church holding the hand of a new loved one, her children followed behind them. She introduced herself, “Janet” to everyone to welcomed her, not a word of Ann-Marie was spoken but did she know she was allowing a murderer into her life?
This is an absolutely true story, and I am telling it for the very first time.
I used to work as a fine art restorer and conservator, but my remit was far wider than just paintings and sculpture. As a specialist in contemporary art and specialist materials, my work involved everything from art to zoology through mosaics, kinetic art, electronics and lapidary. Over the course of nearly forty years I either restored or conserved for the future many works by world famous artists, many objects now on display in the worlds greatest museums and palaces, and also worked for many VIP’s and celebrities from rock and rollers to royalty.
There are many unusual stories that I could tell from these years but the following is probably the strangest and most intriguing, so here we go.
I was once called in to estimate for performing some restoration work in an eighteenth century private mansion in a very famous London square, not so very far from Harrods in Knightsbridge. The house is a large and imposing Georgian building over five floors, the typical ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ home which, in it’s heyday, employed a Butler, Footmen, Chef and myrid other servants to look after a large rich family who lived in opulent circumstances. Two world wars had thined out the residents of the house however, the toll of war is hard on family life and England had changed forever, it would never be the same again.
By the nineteen eighties of course, the butler and footmen had gone and the remaining family members were now reduced to actually working for a living, and largely looking after themselves, although still hanging on to their upper class ideals in many ways.
The house had been somewhat neglected, since world war two had left it with fewer family and staff, with the upkeep on these large london mansions being a huge millstone around the necks of the owners they scraped by with just the minimum of paid staff.
But, by the nineteen eighties there was some new money around, and the house was slowly being worked on, being refurbished and redecorated room by room.
The job that I was called in to look at involved a very large room which had originally been a ballroom. One could imagine the dances and ball’s that had once graced its interior, with the ladies wearing their finest clothes and the men in white tie and tails as they walzt the nights away.
This room had originally been very finely decorated with long brocade drapes at the tall wide windows, there was carved and gilded details to the scaglioni faux marble pillars, which were surmounted by gold leafed ceiling panels and architraves. It was absolutely splendid and in generally good condition if somewhat shabby.
The broad walls were hung with fine Chinese silk, this was stretched in the usual way over wooden lathes fixed to the wall beneath, the seams and joints carefully arranged to allow the design to flow across the wall without interuption. The skill which was needed to achieve this perfection is hard to describe, but one imagines a team of nineteenth century workers putting great craftmanship and not a little love into their work, to complete this effect of luxury. Sadly now as I looked, the silk was fadedd, loose in a few areas, dirty and stained in others and needing some new love to bring it back to life.
In cases like these, we conservators try hard to save everything possible, replace with new the minimum, and to treat the materials with great respect and reverance. We are like doctors looking at a fragile patient. We try to do no harm.
The light blue of the silk was now faded around the window reveals to a pleasant grey blue which set off the beautiful design of an oriental landscape, with small pavillions scattered across rock strewn gardens of cherry blossom and bamboo, reminiscent of that of fine porcelain.
Investigating the corner joints, I discovered that the vertical seams had been carefully inserted into slots cut into the wooden lathes and scured with narrow silk covered fillets. It would be fairly easy to release the silk from the frame, although great care would be needed in the full removal.
One wall seemed to have had a previous restoration, as the silk was somewhat looser in the stretch and part of the pictorial design did not quite match. I took reference photographs, made measurements of the wooden framing and many notes about the condition of the walls and wall coverings in regards to the windows and doorways.
Well, within a week an estimate was prepared, along with a working plan and materials list, and was submitted to the owners of the house. I heard no more for about eight months, in fact, just as I was giving up hope of ever getting the job.
Yes, we had the contract, we could go ahead as soon as we could arrange the work to fit in with our present commitments.
I visited the mansion again to make final arrangements, taking along a young lady conservator who was to do the preliminary work. She was delighted to be involved, and I had much faith in her ability to do an excellent job.
We started in early June, the weather in London was beautiful that year and the house was virtually ours, as both the family and their small staff had left for holidays in Italy. Only the hired caretaker remained, more of a live in security guard really, as his care taking duties were light, so we rarely saw him.
After a few days we had made inroads into removing the silk from two walls, each panel carefully photographed as it was taken down, whilst a condition report was prepared for future use, and diagrams made for the refitting.
At this point I was calłed away to an emergency situation in a gallery in the south of London, trying to save as much as I could from a fire which had ripped through after a poorly placed halogen spotlamp had set fire to a curtain. My assistant carried on at the mansion, I have always had full trust in her and was confodent that the job would go swimmingly.
Dealing with the fire damaged art was both messy and time consuming, but we got stuck into the job and concentrated on saving what we could.
A few days later, I recieved a frantic call from the office, could I go immediately to the mansion as there was some sort of problem, the reason was not stated as my assistant wanted to have me take charge of the situation.
I arrived early next day, and Lucy
asked me to come up to the ball room. She had removed almost all of the silk and the battens, carefully numbered were neatly stacked in the center of the dance floor. Only one wall of silk remained in place, the wall that had had evidence of earlier work. The other walls were now all cleaned of cobwebs and the light yellow of the plaster glowed in the sunlight from the windows.
Lucy had already told me that there was an unusual texture under the remaining silk, and now as I peeled it carefully back I could see that the wall was covered in a patchwork of small paper rectangles which had been distempered over. In some places there was evidence of mould and flaking of the surface.
We removed the remaining silk and battens, working carefully to do no damage to the wall beneath.
With the silk covering folded, and the battens numbered and stacked, we looked closer at the wall. In one section a paper rectangle was loose on the corner, so very gently and taking great care we gradually eased it away from the wall. It took nearly an hour to remove, but came away undamaged. On closer inspection it seemed to have something written upon it, but the distemper on one side and the thick mould on the other made it difficult to see. I placed it into an acid free envelope, and Lucy took it back to the workshop that evening, and handed it on to our paper restorer.
Two days passed, with me back at the fire scene, and Lucy having a short break with family. Then I got a call from the office, what did I want done with the fiver?
It turned out that after working on the paper rectangle for a couple of days, the paper restorer had discovered that under the mould and distemper, the rectangle was actually an old English white paper banknote. A five pound banknote!
I called Lucy, and put her in charge of removing the rest of the rectangles from the wall, and arranged for the paper restorer to be on hand to help with the job.
He set up a small on site workshop and lab in the ball room, so that each banknote could be processed on site. In total three and a half thousand five pound notes were removed from the wall. It took the best part of six months to process them, with only six being deemed to fragile to save. Of course, the family were delighted with our find, even more so when the notes, presented at The Bank of England, were paid out in full face value. Seventeen thousand pounds, had been pasted onto the wall, but by whom?
Various ideas were put forward, but we suspect that the notes had been pasted onto the wall either at the time of the Wall Street crash of 1928, or had been hidden away there at some time during world war two, possibly for safe keeping by a family member who subsequently sadly died in the conflict. Whatever, it made the present family extreemly happy to have an unexpected windfall of money, which would be worth in excess of a quarter of a million pounds in todays money, taking inflation into consideration.
Well there you are, a most unusual find and a most unusual true story.
So, next time you move house or redecorate, be careful how you remove the wallpaper or covering, because I suspect that this was not the only hoard of banknotes safely stored for the future in that way.
Remember to share, follow and like for more short stories.
I am tk , a guy who hardly go out at night for drinks. One Saturday night my younger bro and i decided to go out for couple of drinks. We went to the nearest pup, we got there a bit early and we picked a very nice spot where you could see everyone coming in and out.
While drinking, a group of girls came in and set right in front of us, one of them was my ex, she kept on waving at us smiling.. I wasn’t interested but i waved back.. she came to our table asked us if we could join them, I said “no we are actually with our girlfriends” … why would i wanna go to a pup to be with my ex… i mean i know her, and i know her cookie too i ate that shit.
After some few hours lot of people came in, lot of fine girls,the pup got creepy crowded.. people are dancing and drinking. It was my round to go and buy, when i came back, just after i set down, I saw two beautiful girls coming straight next to us, simply because it was the only spot with enough space.
The other girl was blond i think, then the other one was gorgeous, such a hottie, a light skinned caramel babe in adidas tracksuits damn! i still remember all her moves, i couldn’t get enough of her, every chance i got i looked at her.. she seemed a bit shy, well i thought so. I don’t know what other guys thought of her but all i know is that i would lick her from head to toe.
While my brother and i still admiring her beauty we saw two guys coming for them.. the next thing she is holding hands and cuddling with one of the “motherfuckers” sorry i mean one of the “guys” who magically later became her cousin.. i didn’t buy that. still don’t. I got bored, very irritated i immediately took out my phone and replayed messages on WhatsApp.
While at it, the hottie, charlorray its her name… she came set next to me asked me why am i here if am gonna be on my phone the whole night, I told her that she was also on her phone when she got here… but in my mind i wanted to tell her ” babes go to your man i don’t wanna get into trouble “. After talking she then went back to her lover cousin.
At my 10th drink half way drunk, i felt a very warm and soft hand grabbing my hand then i looked it was her “charlorray” she then pulled me outside pushed me against the wall… asked me if i ever kissed a stranger.. i slowly said nnno… She then kissed me …. Damn!! she was so good, so amazing just the way i loved it,. it felt like the world has stopped moving, the pup turned in to a church, drunkards turned into followers, tracksuits turned into a white dress.. it was quiet a dream.
After the kiss she wanted to leave i grabbed her and pulled her back to me kissed again, she then stopped, i asked for her number, she refused while taking my hand and went back inside the pup. It felt good, so good but was very surprised but bit worried that i will never see her again after this. In my mind everything was her, I’ll be lying if i say i didn’t think of fucking her, yes true i thought of wanting to fuck the shit out of her but she was not up for that, she was just up for kissing a stranger and i respected that.
The night got old, the pup was about to close everyone went outside, all the crowd was outside and i couldn’t find charlorray.. then i bumped into her lady cousin she then told me where charlorray is.. luckily i found her exactly where i was told I’d find her. She asked me to walk her home, i agreed.
When we got to her house, we got into her car that was parked outside, we talked like we knew each other for years, we cuddled a bit though it was a lil torture to me because i couldn’t stop thinking about the kiss and she refused to kiss me again. When i asked for her numbers she gave me two choices.. numbers or a kiss, numbers came with a package of friendship and a kiss came with nothing.. she is a good girl, friendly, kind and very calm. so I made a good choice for not choosing a kiss. but i still wanted it, wanted us to be kissing friends… Wait did i tell you that we even nursed the new friendship with chocolates…. **laughs**
What is love? I met a man in a store. I worked in the store. He didn’t. He was a customer. I didn’t know his name. He sent a dozen roses with a card asking me on a date. I inquired of co-workers to find out who the mystery man was. Oh, he was so old my parents would never allow me to date him. I was seventeen, weeks away from eighteen. He was twenty-four.
To this day I don’t know how he did it. He talked my parents into allowing us to go on a short, three-hour date to a local restaurant. We went on a Saturday night.
The next Friday night we went to a movie at a theatre next door to the store where I worked. My parents owned the store. We were asked to leave the movie because we were talking to each other non-stop.
That crazy man asked me to marry him the very next day and the day after that I said “yes”! The crazy man showed up at my high school to give me a dozen roses and my engagement ring.
Three weeks later we married on Thanksgiving Day. We chose the date because I would be on school break. I moved into his garage apartment. It was so tiny. Too tiny! It was the size of a single car garage!
Two weeks after we married, my husband’s employer filed for bankruptcy and he lost his job. We scraped by. He took odd jobs and worked towards obtaining his Master plumber’s license.
By early March, I was pregnant. By September, we were parents to a very preemie little boy. The following week, my husband started his own plumbing business. We were so very broke.
I found a decent job as a bookkeeper and we moved to a rent-to-own-house.
Eighteen months later our daughter was born, and I had a hysterectomy. I was twenty. Two months after her birth, my husband broke his upper left arm in half. Two surgeries later and with a mountain of medical bills, we had to forsake our home and we moved to an abandoned, bank-owned, partially constructed home on three acres. It was barely livable. The idea was we would fix up the house a little at a time. It was a low point.
I found a better job and my husband healed and we put money into getting the house fixed up. Heirs to the thirty acres surrounding our house approached us to see if we wanted to purchase the land. We did.
I walked on the campus of a community college and began what would be an eight-year journey of night classes to obtain my accounting degree. I worked, attended classes, studied, parented, and barely slept and learned to let go of keeping a perfectly clean house. Sleep was more important.
College was interrupted for a bout with ovarian cancer. I was fortunate. It was caught early enough.
Sixteen years into our marriage, I was a college graduate and CPA and our children were in their teens! Now we had two kids to get through college. Staying on a strict budget, and with the help of academic scholarships, they earned their degrees.
On a balmy March day, in the year 2010, my husband and I peeped in to see our daughter and son-in-law. Labor had been induced. Our daughter had received an epidural and was relaxed and in early labor. We waited with the other grandparents in the waiting area. It was just the four of us waiting when we heard codes/alarms blaring and all the hospital staff on the floor running and I do mean running! We parents, soon-to-be grandparents, tried to run after the hospital bed being pushed as fast as it could go down the hallway of the hospital. Our son-in-law turned for just a second. The baby’s heartbeat had stopped, he said….
At that moment, I looked in the eyes of the man I had then been married to for twenty-nine years. In an instant, every moment of joy and sorrow, of sickness and health, of richer or poorer, passed between us.
I look back on that day and know this. Love starts small with a feeling of emotion and attraction. Love grows through the sharing of the ebb and flow of life. To give up on it too soon, is to give up on the treasure of looking into the eyes of a man or a woman whose shared your life with you. There is no replacement for the love that builds with time.
It was exactly 11:12 am when the hospital bed was hurried down the hallway. We four grandparents prayed. We would learn the umbilical cord was wrapped around our grandson and had caused his heart to stop.
In an eternity lasting minutes, we waited, then our son-in-law sent a text of our daughter holding our grandson. Our grandson was born at 11:22 am. Our anniversary is 11/22. That’s a good number.
Not every marriage is sustainable. We have had our share of fights and twice were on the brink of divorce. I am glad we didn’t give up.
Today, the first grandson will soon be nine and his younger brother is five.
We’ve been blessed to have moved from poverty to financial stability and to have survived and thrived after medical scares and to have each other.
I married a man I met at a store. We live in a farm house in the middle of thirty-three acres.