Be Careful What You Wish For

The solicitor peered over his half-moon glasses with grave solemnity and pushed the mahogany box across the vast expanse of tooled green leather that covered the desktop.
“Your Godfather has bequeathed this item to you, Celia. There is an sealed envelope inside.”
Celia lifted the lid. Under the envelope was a strange bird surrounded by a nest of white napkins.
“I understand your Godfather was Geoffrey Soames, a diplomat in India.”
“Yeah, I think so.” Said Celia with the disinterested of a fifteen-year-old. She vaguely remembered a fat bloke squeezing her six-year-old cheeks. She stuffed the envelope in her pocket, closed the box and left the musty office and the ghoulish solicitor.
At home she placed the hideous bird with the sharp beak on the mantelpiece next to her parent’s hideous carriage clock and headed upstairs to her bedroom. The box would be handy to keep her makeup stuff in, she thought, flopping onto her bed.
Then she remembered the envelope.

My dear Celia.
No doubt the gift of the bird will be a disappointment. But, whosoever possesses the bird can make three wishes. Choose carefully.
With kindest regards
Geoffrey

Yeah, right? Geoffrey. And I’m Madonna.
Later, Celia put her skepticism to one side and made a wish. She decided to start with wish for a fortnight holiday for two in Magaluf and see what happened.
The next morning her father walked into the kitchen. “Registered delivery for Celia Thornton. Must be important.”
Celia slit open the envelope with the butter knife. “I’ve won a holiday for two, dad!” She squealed.
Her excitement soon evaporated when her enraged father told her that over his dead body she would take her feckless, fuckwit boyfriend to Magaluf.
“I hate you dad, I wish you were dead!” She shouted as she slammed the front door.

*
“The beak penetrated here, Martin. See, just above the left eye.” The pathologist pointed at the small red rimmed hole in the victims head.
“You’re sure it was an accident?” Asked DI Fuller.
“Absolutely certain. I’m guessing he had some sort of seizure. That would explain why he was gripping the ornamental bird so firmly when he fell and impaled himself on the beak. Death would have been instantaneous.”
“A painless death, then.” Said the inspector. “A small crumb of comfort for the family. I’m off to see them next.”
Rather you than me, thought the pathologist running a scalpel around the dead head.
*
Celia listened, with a growing sense of horror, as the inspector explained the circumstances of her fathers demise to her sobbing mother. This was all her fault. She had caused the death of her father. Hadn’t she wished him dead?

*
After the funeral Celia lay on her bed floating in a sea of grief and misery. She had wished her father dead. A common enough aspiration of truculent teenagers, but for Celia a wish that had come true.
Then she remembered. Scrabbling under her bed she found the letter. Of course! Three wishes. She had three wishes!
Celia ran from the house not stopping until the fresh earthen mound of her father’s grave lay in front of her.
“I wish my dad was alive again,” she shouted, startling a woman arranging flowers at a nearby grave.

*
Her father’s eyelids fluttered, then opened to impenetrable darkness. As his fingertips felt the coffin lid inches from his face, he began to scream. His daughter, waiting above, heard nothing.
There is no better sound insulation than six feet of damp soil.

Chosen by an angel

 

Beneath the blue sky she watches the palm trees sway in the warm breeze. Sunlight and shadows dance across the white facade of the mosque opposite her home. The air is heavy with the scent of jasmine. The lilting voice of the Imam calls the faithful to prayers. Her mother sings in the kitchen, her younger brothers bicker in the yard. She waves to her father who is walking across the road towards her…….Then…..she hears someone screaming……….

***

Rahel slowly realised it was she who was screaming. Then, the crash of breaking glass brought her back to the moment as burning debris fell past the window. She was sat on the floor in the corner of the lounge, terrified, struggling to breathe and holding her son close, covering his face with her scarf. Through the dense choking smoke she could discern the ghostly shapes of others crouched or curled up in resignation around the edge of the room.

As Rahel began to slip back into semiconsciousness she felt an unexpected cool hand on her forehead. She looked up dreamily to see a man looking into her eyes. When asked later, she would be unable to describe him, such were the ordinary features of his face and the style of his clothing.

The man bent down and gently lifted her to her feet. She felt a surge of energy pulse through her body.
“Walk.” Said the man. “Leave this place. You must live.”
Before she passed through the doorway she looked back over her shoulder. Despite the flames rolling across the ceiling the unremarkable man was moving around the room stooping over each huddled figure.
Yasser Qabanni too felt the cool hand and looked up with pleading eyes but the man shook his head and moved on to the next. On the other side of the room he helped Musa, a young teenager to his feet, told him he would live and gestured towards the doorway before continuing his circuit of the room deciding who would live and who would die.

***

Two months later an undamaged USB stick would be discovered during a search of the ash and debris of flat 801. It contained the plans for a terrorist attack on a large shopping mall in London. The attack was to be led by Yasser Qabbani. Then, later in November the analysis of DNA samples from the flat would identify the remains of a known people trafficker and child abuser.

Many decades into the future Rahel’s son, now a renowned neurosurgeon, would sit indulgently listening to his mother and Musa Badawi, the prominent civil rights activist, recall how they all survived the terrible fire in London.
“He must have been an angel” she said of the unremarkable man who saved their lives. “What other explanation is there? We were chosen by an angel.”

+++++

The prompt for this story was to write a piece about ‘meeting an angel’. The recent tragic fire at Grenfell Towers in London is the setting for my story.

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Trapped in amber

The Antiques Roadshow expert passed the necklace of rough stones slowly through his finely manicured fingers and held it for a moment in the sunlight for the television cameras to pick out the subdued orange and yellow hues.

“Many viewers will be familiar with polished amber jewellery, but what we have here appears to be an example of unpolished Lithuanian amber jewellery..but I’m not sure…perhaps you could tell the viewers the story of how the necklace was found……”

As his son began to relate the little of what he knew the old man, hunched in the wheelchair stared up at the necklace; remembering.

He remembered leaving the cell and climbing the stairs to stand in the middle of the road stunned at the Armageddon destruction. He had shuffled aimlessly along the road through a haze of smoke and dust, a bewildered ghost, one among many.

Some time later, desperate for water he had entered a building that had escaped total destruction; the sound of glass crunching under his feet as he stepped through the wreckage sharp in his memory.

On the floor of the house he found a horrifically burned body, the right hand a grotesque claw appeared to have been holding something. The arrangement of the stones on the floor suggested a necklace, the connecting string having been burned away. Nearby, in the charred remains of what had probably been a chest of drawers there was a metal box; not unlike a biscuit tin his mother would have at home. Opening it he found photographs: formal family groups, individuals posing, children. One in particular caught his attention; a young girl, standing against a wall – probably of the house he was standing in – looking into the camera, smiling in the sunlight. Smiling at him.

He had gathered up the strange almost weightless pieces of stone and placed them in the tin box and left the sad house of death. Later at home he he felt compelled to restring the necklace. He then placed it in the box and closed the lid and tried to forget.

“….and my father left the house and was eventually rescued and repatriated. He was one of the few British prisoners of war to survive the atomic bombing of Nagasaki…”

“What an amazing story. And this is the actual box?”

“Yes, it is.”

The presenter carefully put the necklace to one side and spread the photographs, sepia and black and white images, on the blue felt table cover to allow the television camera to show viewers the happy family scenes and the the young girl standing against the wall. She was smiling at them as her fingers played with a piece of jewellery around her neck, the smooth polished amber stones glinting in the sun

Parallel Universe

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‘Are you in there, Gregor?’
Thomas peered through the viewing window into the swirling gaseous mass that filled the laboratory interior. The chromatic cloud was peppered with pulsating, sparkling spots of light. Quite beautiful he thought.
‘Gregor!’ He shouted impatiently into the microphone.
‘I’m coming, Thomas, I’m coming!’
The ghostly figure of Gregor emerged from the foggy cloud and entered the viewing pod accompanied by a faint metallic smell.
‘You’ll set fire to the building one of these days with your experiments!’
‘It’s really quite safe’. Said Gregor, brushing away glowing beads that clung like embers to his suit. ‘How can I help you?’
‘Bad news I’m afraid. The Grand Council have decided to terminate your experiment.’
‘Why? It’s producing significant data.’
‘Yes, I have read your preliminary report. A number of the species you are studying are quite remarkable. Their constant development of social structures is fascinating. But the time overrun of the project is unacceptable…….you need to be doing something more relevant.’
‘I realise that it has taken longer than expected, Thomas, but observing such micro species has been difficult. A few more days would yield far more information; a day of our time represents many epochs of theirs. We could learn so much more.’
‘I am very sorry, Gregor, the grand council have made their decision. The technicians will clear the lab tomorrow; get rid of this toxic cloud.’
‘To terminate seems cruel; It’s been enjoyable watching them. In all sectors the various beings have evolved physically in different ways, but all are equally resourceful. In one particular group I have detected signs that they are attempting to reach and colonise the adjacent sphere, the one they call Mars. I regret that I won’t see if they manage it.’

‘Gregor. Have you ever thought…?
‘Thought what, Thomas?’
‘That we might just be part of some experiment too…..!’

Written in dark ink

 

It was a short walk from the Post Office to the address on the telegram. Rather than send the boy he decided to personally deliver this bad news to his friend. At the door he paused to look up the familiar street, peaceful in the late spring sunlight. Paused to remember, try to recall happier times.
He knocked, listened to the footsteps approach along the hallway he knew well. The door opened. He was relieved it was Alex.
“George.” Said Alex, looking at the small square telegram offered to him by the Postmaster. Alex, his reluctant fingers failed to grip the telegram which fluttered to land soundlessly on the pavement. Alex slowly bent down to pick up the message of death; his three sons were in France, in constant danger. As he stood up their eyes met.
“It’s for Laura.” Said George. “It’s addressed to her.”
“Clem, then.” Said Alex, his mind a confused maelstrom of emotion; guilt at the good news that his sons still lived battled with the grief that his daughter’s beloved husband’s name would be written in the dark ink.
Then, a voice behind him broke his train of thought. Broke his heart.
“Faither, what is it? I heard Clem’s name…….”
Alex turned around to face his daughter, reached out to catch her as she fell, her life, her future slipping through his fingers.

*********

My story is of how I imagine the news of my grandfather’s death was delivered.

When the war ended one of Clem’s comrades visited Laura to tell of how her husband had been wounded during the Third Battle of Arras. With his hip shattered he had been laid in a shell hole for shelter until he could be picked up. He was never seen again and he was formally presumed dead in February 1918, one of 36,000 dead at Arras.

Who were you?

 

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Shadowy figures swarmed over the wall. He shot one in the face, another in the chest. Blood was everywhere. Then the firing mechanism clicked. Clicked again. Fuck! Out of ammunition. A heavy body landed on him, fingertips scrabbling for his eyes. He managed to get his fingers around the man’s throat and pressed. The body gradually went limp and the dream faded and Neville drifted back into a deep, deep sleep………

The brochure lying on the bedside table at the crime scene had led Detective Inspector Ramsey to the Carleton Clinic. Sat in the consultant’s office he could see through a window into a dimly lit room where a man, with an almost comical cap covered with small flashing lights sat in a chair, reminding the detective of a recent visit to the dentist.

Mr Bradley reached out to snap shut a silver Venetian blind.

“In layman’s terms, Inspector, we replace memories that a patient may find distressing. We use memory manipulation techniques pioneered by Ramirez at the beginning of the century. We erase bad memories and implant happier ones. In other words we give people new beginnings to their lives.”

“Ah, yes, I see.” Said the detective. “As your brochure says: ‘What you remember defines who you are’.”

“Yes, exactly so. In a recent case, a patient’s wife felt her husband’s upbringing was socially incompatible with her own. We erased his memory of a poor, disadvantaged childhood and implanted memories of a childhood similar to his wife’s life experiences; private school, parents in professions, living in a wealthy area and so on. His wife felt it would make her husband more confident in social and business situations.”

“Was Neville West one of your clients, Mr Bradley?”

“Yes,” said Mr Bradley guardedly. “Has something happened, Inspector?”

“Your client strangled his wife this morning.” Said the detective bluntly.

“That’s truly dreadful!” Said the shocked consultant. “He was such a pleasant, equitable man.”

Until you messed with his head, thought the detective as he asked to see Neville West’s file. A request predictably refused on the grounds of Data Protection by the obviously uneasy consultant.

After the detective left his office Bradley hurriedly spoke into his phone “He’s gone George. For now. You’d better alter the file. If they find out that you mistakenly implanted the memory from that soldier with PTSD you’ll be facing a manslaughter charge.”

“What did you just say…… there’s others?”Said Bradley massaging his temples. “How many?” He whispered.

***

During the First World War, New Zealander, Sir Harold Gillies pioneered plastic surgery. Plastic Surgery was developed to repair disfiguring injuries caused by gunshot and shrapnel. Later in the same century the techniques were given a more commercial title: cosmetic surgery. Breasts could be enlarged, noses remodelled and lips inflated to make patient feel better about themselves.
At the beginning of this century Neuroscientist Steve Ramirez is pioneering memory manipulation with the objective of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s.
My story is based on the idea that, like plastic surgery, memory manipulation will become commercially available for frivolous purposes.

A Scottish culinary piece

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Early in our relationship, I took Ann on a date to see a David Gates, then a popular American singer perform at Leeds Town Hall. It was February and the auditorium was freezing, the victim of a power cut, and everyone was dressed in winter attire; the audience a sea of fur hats. It looked like a Dr Zhivago convention. This was the 1970’s the decade of power cuts, miner’s strikes and three day weeks. The star, probably wishing he was back in Oklahoma, heroically performed in a thin suit and a shirt with some buttons undone to reveal a bare chest, no doubt covered in more goose pimples than hairs. An equally heroic orchestra provided the music, supported by the castanet chatter of teeth from the audience. We clapped manically at the end of each number, the only way to generate bodily heat.

Periodically, during the performance the man sat next to Ann climbed over some empty seats in front of us, scuttled along the row and left the hall, only to return again a few minutes later to climb back into his seat. When he wasn’t seat hurdling he quietly, and annoyingly, hummed and and loudly whistled along with the performer. Either he had a severe incontinence problem or he was one, or maybe two, notes short of an octave. At first he was an amusing diversion and Ann and I smiled at each other in the darkness.

As the second half of the show starts there was a strange rustling noise from our bizarre neighbour.
“What’s he doing now?” asked Ann out of the side of her mouth.
I leant forward and peered through the gloom, leant back and whispered, a little too loudly, “He’s got his piece out”.
The surrounding seats creaked and squeaked as the members of the audience within earshot of my stage whisper shifted uneasily; the way sheep react when they notice a dog peering with intent through a five bar gate.
“CHANGE SEATS WITH ME, NOW!” demanded Ann, now rigid with fear, in a much louder stage whisper. We changed seats and I sat next to the oddball as he noisily munched his ham sandwich … or if you were a recent immigrant from Scotland, a ham piece.

Messages from the past

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They kept coming. Not every day but at regular intervals, disconcertingly regular. But, not so predictably regular that he could catch the person that left them. The messages were written on lined paper. Pages that seemed to be from the same notebook, yellow with age and with threatening jagged edges down one of the long sides where the pages had been ripped violently from the body of the book.

On the occasions when he found a note on the floor of the hall he would painfully bend over to pick it up, read it and then shuffle through to the lounge.There he would pull the curtains carefully to one side and peer out, surveying the street, studying the neighbour’s windows. He was becoming increasingly unnerved. The writer seemed to know him; know of his past life. Was the author seeking retribution or money?

The first note had said simply: ‘We have found you’. The faint, straggling longhand had given him no clue. Subsequent notes had similar brief messages or lists of long numbers in painstakingly neat columns. He knew what they referred to, but not what the sender wanted. Why now, he thought; it had been a regrettable fragment of time in his life, the larger part of which had been spent as Doctor George Simpson, unremarkably serving the community of this small American town.

****

It had snowed all day. Large snowflakes, like torn paper, floated down from the leaden sky thickly blanketing the lawns, the streets and the house roofs. It occurred to him that if a note was delivered that night a trail would be left in the virgin snow. A trail that may lead to the source of the messages, a neighbour perhaps.

In the dark, cold hallway he sat uncomfortably by the door. Waiting. The moonlight seeping through the transom window slid silently across the ceiling. The carved Bavarian wall clock had just chimed four o’clock when the letter plate rattled faintly and a folded piece of paper fluttered to the floor at his feet. He picked up the note, levered himself out of the chair, gripped his walking stick and pulled the door open to confront the messenger. There was no one there or a trail to follow. The undulating snow had a glittering crisp crust, unblemished by footprints or any other marks. Bemused, he unfolded the piece of paper; a faded picture of a young officer and a Jewish woman, a child clasped to her breast. The officer is pointing a Luger pistol at the woman………

His walking stick fell with a load clatter on the parquet floor. “Mein Got..Mein Got,” he whispered. Fear gripped him, crushed his soul and his heart. In his final moments, as he fell slowly forward into the snow, Hauptmann Georg Schneider, was thrown back into the nightmare of Belarus.

****

Our writing group were given the theme ‘messages’ as the prompt. 

A deadly time

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On the last day of their holiday, Bill and Sonia, from Chicago, were invited to visit a military enactment in a nearby village. They had enjoyed Jonathan and Martha’s company while staying at the hotel, so they were pleased to be asked to join them. Travelling in their fellow holidaymakers’s car they admired the beautiful, scenic countryside, illuminated by a bright summer sun. As they approached the outskirts of the village Jonathan turned into a farm track and parked under the shade of an oak tree.

“We’ll walk from here, guys! The organisers like to keep the village looking authentic.” explained Jonathan as he switched the engine off. They got out of the car and Jonathan opened the car boot, then he and Martha handed out clothing.

“We like to dress the part; adds to the experience.” Said Jonathan, “Here, try this helmet for size, Bill, you too Sonia. I’m afraid we’re all soldiers today!”

Bill pulled the metal helmet on and bent down to look in the door mirror. Smiling, he could just imagine himself as a Roundhead about to fight in a battle.

Dressed in their uniforms, they walked down the road to the village, their helmets and pikes glinting in the sunlight.

The village square resembled a film set; soldiers milled about and cannons pulled by horses clattered by on the cobbles, drowning out the shouting of orders. Then columns were formed and the soldiers started to march over the bridge.

“Gee, this is awesome, so real!” Said Sonia trying to keep step.

“Awesome, but pretty hot in this gear, Honey!” Said Bill looking around for Jonathan and Martha.

******

The battlefield stank of blood, burnt flesh, shit and smoke. The officer, looked sadly around at the carnage, then, bending down from his horse, took the strange object from the soldier.

“You found it upon this body, soldier? Around the wrist, you say? He said, pointing at a butchered corpse.

“Aye, Sor,” said the soldier.

“Strange object indeed,” said the officer picking away glass fragments, “see, there are letters, an inscription, ‘Rolex’. Perchance a Lord Rolex….? Odd numerals too, carved upon the rim. This the General must see!”

“Perhaps ’tis an instrument of Satan, Sor?” Said the surly soldier, then watched as the officer rode off with his battlefield trophy.

Still waters

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On the first day of the holiday, Colin Ashby was stretched out on the bed covered only by a thin white sheet. The sun, forcing its way round the edges of the heavy drapes cast just enough light to be able to see where his blood had sprayed across the suede upholstered headboard and over the pleasing watercolour rendering of Lake Como hung above. At the time of the discovery Colin Ashby’s wife Julie, running along the edge of the lake, far from the hotel, did not hear the hysterical screams of the distressed chamber maid.

++++++

The holiday had come as a complete surprise to Julie and Colin. A letter, from Angela Osborne of Tricorn Travel, addressed to Julie, invited her and a partner to travel to Lake Como and spend a week at the Hotel Serbelloni in Bellagio. The writer of the letter extolled Julie’s reputation as a travel critic and blogger, and expressed admiration of her weekly column in the Guardian. The holiday was gratis, on the proviso that Julie would write and publish an article about the establishment. The hotel management and staff would be unaware of Julie’s professional interest; she would be a secret guest.

The holiday offer could not have arrived at a better time. After a whirlwind courtship, Julie and Colin had hardly been married a week; an impromptu honeymoon would be the icing on the cake. The letter, along with two airline tickets, fluttered to the tiled floor as they embraced, laughed and danced in the kitchen of her apartment.

Landing at Milan airport in glorious sunshine, they emerged, luggage in tow, from the terminal to scan the unfamiliar surroundings for a taxi. To her surprise, a man standing near the door held a card with her name scrawled across it in capital letters. So much for travelling incognito she thought, as she introduced herself to the driver. They sat in silent absorption of the scenery and themselves as the car effortlessly negotiated the narrow roads leading to Como. The car stopped at the edge of the lake where the Hydrofoil would take them on the last leg of their journey. As they turned to thank the taciturn driver the car was already moving away. They enjoyed the swift journey across the lake and were soon making love on the king sized bed in their luxuriously appointed room.

Later, in the dimming of the day, after a pleasant dinner, they had sat on the patio in elegant wicker chairs looking out over the placid waters of the lake that held the image of the mountains beyond. As the sun slowly set, their first evening deteriorated as slightly drunk they argued. A flute, half full, had been unbalanced and fell on the paving scattering shards of glass that glisten and sparkled in the lamplight. Julie, shocked and upset at this turn of events, had gone to bed alone.

++++++

After formally identifying the body of her husband, Julie numb with shock, stared out of hotel manager’s office window. She failed to see or appreciate the beauty of the vista; the late morning sun touching the mountains on the far side of the lake. The policewoman who had earlier taken her statement now sat beside her on one side of the rosewood desk. A senior officer of some sort sat opposite, silently reading her words. The harsh chainsaw rasp of a moped filled the room, then faded as the officer looked up and spoke.

“So, Signora. You have told me the last time you saw your husband was when you closed the curtains of your suite. Signor Ashby was sat where you left him, while a waiter swept up the broken glass around him.” Said the inspector. “Then, unable to sleep, at sunrise you went out running. Yes?”

“Yes.” Julie confirmed in a barely audible voice.

“And yet,” continued the inspector, “your husband, your late husband was found in your room, in your bed. Murdered.

“I don’t understand… I can’t explain….he wasn’t ..”

“Perhaps then, you could explain, please, the argument.”

“We quarrelled about my family, my father, my sister. They didn’t attend our wedding. He, Colin, that is, didn’t want them there, or my friends. He wanted a quiet affair. There were other things……… I’m not sure if I knew him at all.”

“Then, I may not shock you a great deal if I tell you that Colin Ashby is not your late husband’s name. Another interesting discrepancy in your story is that the company that you tell me arranged your visit, Tricorn Travel, does not exist. The only facts at my disposal are you and, forgive me, a corpse.”

“But the letter. Angela Osborne’s letter is in the bedroom, in my briefcase. My mobile, the texts……….”

“There is nothing in your room. No letter, no briefcase, no cellphone…….nothing.”

Julie held her her tear stained face in her hands.

“However, for now I cannot connect you the to crime. The modus operandi points to others.” Said the inspector. “I have arranged for you to stay in Como. My assistant will accompany you. Please do not leave the town until I give you permission to do so.

++++++

During the afternoon the weather changed. Dark ominous clouds gathered above the slate grey water. The atmosphere became oppressive. The dull vista mirrored her mood as Julie, sitting in a lakeside cafe, watched the hydrofoil cut through the still water as it sped towards Como. Only the day before, she thought, the car had dropped them off here in Como and she and Colin had taken the same boat to Bellagio; Colin, or whoever he actually was.

“There will be a storm soon,” said a voice behind her, “then this thick unpleasant air will clear.”

“Do I know you?” Said Julie looking up.

“No, but, by a strange twist of fate, we are related.”

“May I?” The young woman asked in accented English, indicating that she would like to sit, to join Julie at her table.

Despite the absence of an invitation, the woman sat. But this discourtesy was soon forgotten as Carlotta Trovato related a strange, but to Julie, a familiar story.

Carlotta’s story began in London in the summer of 2014. At the time she was estranged from her family in Sicily; a disagreement, a collision of an impetuous daughter and an overbearing father. She moved to London and found work in a recruitment company in the Strand. One client she managed was an importer of fine wines.

“My client was a handsome man and attractive. A relationship developed. I was, as you say, swept off my feet. Like you, Julie, I married James, or ‘Colin’ as you know him.” Said Carlotta. “I had an inheritance from my grandmother which he persuaded me to invest in his company. A company, that like him, did not exist. To cut a long, very long story short; he disappeared, I was left destitute. In time I was reconciled with my family, and with my father. Then at the beginning of this year, a friend, one I had made in London, a follower of your blog, read the exciting news of your engagement to marry. And, of course, she recognised your fiancé, my husband.

“My God!” whispered Julia as she recognised the familiar theme.

“It was our mutual husband’s misfortune that I am the beloved daughter of Don Diego Trovato ,” said Carlotta, “He is the head of a Cosca, a clan of the Siciliano Cosca Nostra, the Mafioso.”

A clap of thunder almost drowned out her last few words and large rain drops landed on the cafe umbrella like stones.

“I am sorry it was necessary to involve you, to bring you here.” Said Carlotta. “But, there is nothing to connect you with all this. The police know investigation is futile; this crime of honour will remain unsolved. Go back to your world, pick up your life and move on. You will soon discover that your money is still in your late husband’s account; you are of course now the next of kin. My inheritance from my grandmother? Well, that is gone. But my father is satisfied.”

For the second time in the day Julia sat with her tear stained face in her hands. The deceit, all the lies, death; It was all too much, too much.

Carlotta Trovato leaned forward, touched her hands lightly, almost affectionately, and said, “Of course, we have not met nor spoken of this matter.” Then, standing up , she walked away into the rain.

This is a short story developed from the first sentence prompt : On the first day of the holiday.  Our writing group home work for the summer break.