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.

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. 

Lost hat

 

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He had left his hat. Somewhere. It certainly wasn’t in amongst his props. Where was it he thought? In his mind he retraced his steps, where he had been, trying to remember exactly where he left it.

While Magik Miguel was desperately trying to think exactly where he had left his hat, a young girl called Lily found it. It was the school holidays and Lily was helping her grandfather, the theatre caretaker, tidy up after a performance. He told her to pick up the discarded sweet wrappings and sweep up the popcorn spread around on the floor between the folding seats.

Really, she thought to herself, people are so messy!

After tidying the theatre she walked through to the room behind the stage where the performers prepared themselves before going on stage. Lily had heard actors calling this the ‘Green Room’. It wasn’t green, she thought, so why call it that? She had asked her grandfather but he had no idea.

Lily wiped the worktop and cleaned the mirror. It was when she started sweeping the floor that she noticed the hat under the chair. She picked it up and turned it over in her hands. It was a shiny black top hat, the sort that she had seen magicians pull white rabbits and doves from. She looked inside it. It was empty. There wasn’t even a feather or a rabbit hair.

Placing the hat on the worktop she pretended to be a magician. She said, “Abracadabra,” as she theatrically waved an imaginary wand over the hat. She was slightly disappointed that nothing happened. Then, thinking of the magician at the Christmas party she had gone to, she tried “Izzy Wizzy let’s get busy”. Not even a whisker! Then she remembered her mum’s uncle. Uncle Bill had been a magician. She would ask mum.

“When you were very young, don’t you remembered Uncle Bill saying “gilly, gilly” as he pulled a coin out of your ear? Said her mother. “Why on earth are you asking that?”

Her  mum never found out why. Lily had ended the call and put the mobile in her pocket. “Gilly, Gilly,” she said thoughtfully, then louder, GILLY, GILLY!

Nothing happened. Feeling a bit silly she decided to go back to sweeping the floor. As she pick up the brush her eye caught a movement in the mirror. She turned around and gasped in shock. A very white rabbit with pink eyes was peeping over the rim of the hat, it’s nose twitching inquisitively.

Lily carefully lifted the rabbit out of the top hat and placed it on the floor where it scampered into a corner.

“Gilly, Gilly,” she said again. Another white rabbit appeared.

Soon the floor was covered with white rabbits. She looked around the green room. “What on earth am I going to do with all these rabbits?” Then anxiously thought, “what on earth will I tell Grandpa?”

Just as Lily was thinking these thoughts, a hand suddenly appeared out of the hat. Not a normal hand. It was a sort of silvery shimmering hand, a hand made of glistening stuff. It appeared to want to be shaken.

Having been brought up to be very polite and shake a hand when proffered, Lily reached out and shook the silvery hand. As she held the hand she began to feel strange, slightly queasy. A bit like being seasick. She felt as though she was melting, becoming liquid. Before she had time to be frightened the silvery hand pulled her syrupy body through the hat and she was falling.

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My writing group was given a prompt , the opening words of a short story: He had left his hat. This is my attempt at a children’s  story. When I have time I will continue the tale; follow Lily down into the mysterious underworld that supplies magicians with white  rabbits, doves and even elephants. Her mobile phone might prove useful. Magik Miguel may come to her rescue………

The weekend

 

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Hi Beth

We’re having such a wonderful time. Still can’t believe we won the Agatha Christie Murder Weekend competition.

Hotel’s lovely, just as promised on Facebook. All in Art Nouveau style. Even the newspapers in the reception are all dated 27 May 1922, the date of the ‘murder’. It’s like we’ve gone back in time!

Things haven’t changed much. The Daily Mail headline is about Rudolf Valentino being arrested for bigamy! Lenin’s had a stroke. There’s even a report about a fire in this very hotel, imagine tha…………………..

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“The email just stops there.” Said the builder. “Found it under the rubble of the old hotel ruin that we’re clearing. Screen’s cracked, but I charged the it up and found this email. Thing is, it shouldn’t be there. Nothing been disturbed here since the fire.”

Sergeant Simmons, despite the day’s warmth shivered.

“What’s really odd Sarge; the iPad’s date. Look, 1922!!”

The task given to my writing group was to write a piece of 150 words with the title The weekend. I enjoy the challenge of editing such short stories, trying to convey the story line and making the narrative flow with so few words.