Happy holidays! As a treat I’m sharing the opening of my debut novel. Hope you enjoy. 🙂
Trusting her visceral senses Alicia dropped from her mattress and stumbled towards the hallway. A terrorised scream shot out of the darkness. Her chest lurched, setting her heart into a rapid tempo that pounded in her eardrums. She wanted to hide but an inexplicable instinct told her to flee. Her fingers fumbled against the door, searching for the latch. Footsteps stampeded past her room. She waited for the steps to recede before lifting the metal catch. Light burst into her room, clawing at her vision. She placed her palms flat to the wall. It stole the warmth from her finger tips as she followed the curve towards the courtroom.
This brightness faded bringing the back of Balthazar into focus. Shock hit her with the force of a whipping tornado. The victim grunted and struggled to no avail against the thin band of Balthazar’s arm. A knife glinted, reflecting the freighted stare of his victim. Balthazar’s elbow jerked backwards, causing an arc of blood to spray over the blue crystal. Red, so much red. His tall, slim build inexplicably no match for the stocky guard. Frozen she watched. Balthazar released the gurgling man and wiped the blade across his sleeve, tarnishing the blue uniform of his alliance. He stepped over the flaying body. With a confidence she’d never witnessed in him before. Balthazar slid his hand over his head to his nape, slicking the dirty, blonde strands in place. Unaware or uncaring of her proximity he moved onto his next target.
Being self-employed has its perks, one of which is planning a Christmas dinner with like-minded people. No corporate party for me. I can’t think of anything worse. A night out with people I barley know. Spending the entire time wishing I had something charming and witty to say. Argh!
With that in mind we picked our venue and instead of a double date scenario like last year. I asked my friend to add a few more guests, rounding us off to a comfy group of 10.
This was his response, ‘Lorraine? Sociable!’ What can I say; sometimes I surprise myself.
My next challenge was to find a babysitter. It’s an impossible situation, made difficult by my snowflake daughter. Who is petrified of staying away from home, scared of strangers and hates mummy going out. She’s 13!!!
This triggers my internal berating; I should have been firmer with her. Taken her to more playgroups, or at least one playgroup. Arranged more sleepovers, sent her on sleepovers and not collected her after an hour. Followed by, dear god – she’s never leaving home…
Then there’s the younger boy to consider. He’s a chatter box with too much energy, which manifests into boredom. That leaks into playing pranks on his sister. He loves it when she screams. I dare not ask my 80+ Nan to look after them; I don’t think she’d survive the night.
Thankfully one name came up. I was told she’s 16, great with kids and has lots of experience. Perfect. I arranged it all with her mum and agreed to drive her home afterwards.
Saturday night approached, I checked to see if ‘Girl’ was still available and offered to collect her. I was assured Girl knew where I lived and that she was only 5 minutes away. All seemed great. My daughter was becoming nervous, needing lots of hugs and reassurance. At one point she asked if she could be the babysitter and just phone me every hour. UH NO!
Girl phoned at 7.05. ‘Sorry I’m running late but I’ll be with you in a moment.’ Phew, I pop on a coat of lipstick and get the kids settled in separate rooms with a DVD.
7.30 – Comes and goes. Hubby and I are getting anxious. Not only have I arranged a night out with people I hardly know but the babysitters late. Do I call her mum or wait patiently? Being rational I think; I walk my dog past her house, it’s not far. Maybe she changed her mind?
7.40 – I call her mum. ‘What? She left over half an hour ago, she should be there!’ her mum says.
Oh god, I’ve lost someone else’s kid. My writer brain kicks in conjuring up graphic murder scenes. How am I going to live with myself!
‘I’ll get in the car and drive around for her. What colour hair does she have?’ I say. Then drive around the block looking for a kid I’ve never met. It’s dark and foggy with no one on the streets.
5 Minutes later I’m back home again and call her mum. Please let her be ok!
‘Any luck finding her?’ I ask
‘No and her phones just died. I’m around the corner from your house looking for her.’
I teeter out in my heels and dress to join the search. I tell her I’ve checked the streets and ask if she would have gone to a friend’s house. Preying she’s gone AWOL and not abducted.
A lad not much older than my son runs over to us. ‘Mum… mum!’ he shouts, ‘She’s back at home.’
It transpired Girl’s mum had told her to call at the wrong numbered house. The poor thing spent half an hour knocking at every number five she could find. By the time she arrived she looked like she might cry and offered to babysit for free. I told her not to worry. Then gave her a box of biscuits and tub of pringles. I briefly introduced my kids and left a shell shocked daughter as me and hubby legged it out the door. We we’re now late for dinner!
The evening was perfect! Amazing food and great company. More importantly I laughed so much my stomach hurt. I can’t wait go out with my new friends again. To top it off, I came home and discovered my daughter and the babysitter hit it off. Now she knows where we live, I hope she’ll be available for the next event.
Why not share your funny babysitter stories or even some Christmas party fiascos? I love to get your comments so don’t be shy.
Sander drifted amid the warren, unwilling and frustrated. He coasted into the dark. An unease gripped him, how long would he remain here in this state? A spec of light hung in the horizon. Sander reached out, hoping to gauge its distance. Was it growing? An orange ball of flames hurtled towards him. Sanders heart spiked as the globe passed through his spirit form. What was this place? This dream appeared so tangible. Sander tried to run his hand through his hair, he felt nothing. Everything was disconnected.
He floated into a lit chamber that was far more spacious than he would have anticipated for a burrow. An open ebony wardrobe caught Sanders attention. Meticulously ordered blades hung in the interior of the doors. Each one inscribed with the name Natheus. Leather belts, heavy boots and black clothes hung in precision. He inspected the weapons, appraising the guard’s regimentation.
A spark caught his attention. A blazing sun extinguished into mist as a male warrior emerged. Sander stomach clenched for a moment until he remembered he was incorporeal.
The warrior’s muscles flexed. A dark braid cording down his spine. Sander scrutinised every detail. Was he supposed to be learning something? He couldn’t quite remember. The male unsheathed his swords from his back and spun to Sander. Light fragmented off the two swords. He stood two feet taller than Sander. With weapons braced at his sides, he looked formidable. Gold cuffs glinted on his wrists. Sander chest tightened. He was in the lair of the Djinn’s. The warrior disregarded him as easily as the air. Returning his weapons to their posts.
The festive season is upon us. Town lights shine, trees are adorned with trinkets and the shopping list keeps growing. I love this time of year even though it’s full of nostalgia. Reminding me that life hasn’t always been so kind.
Not everyone is fortunate to have a loving family to share in the good times. This time of year can be the loneliest of all, to those who have no one. Even though I have children and a husband to share this year with, I’m still aware that at any point that could change. For me Christmas is about showing the people you care about, how much they mean to you. Having the time to create memories that are built to last. Sharing, loving and enjoying.
I grew up in a dysfunctional and ‘off and on’ broken family. Christmas time was either ‘we will have a wonderful family time’ or mum over compensating for a single parent type of Christmas. To my two younger sisters, brother and I, all the holidays were magical. They still hold a special place in our hearts regardless of our circumstances.
When I was eighteen, mum died from a brain hemorrhage. It was 3 months before Christmas. I was numb, battered by grief and the constant changing environment. Dad moved back into the family home and the holidays crept up on us.
That Christmas Dad gave me £100 to buy my eleven year old sister gifts.
‘Like mum would have done because I didn’t know where to start,’ dad said.
The irony was, neither did I. Christmas went from thoughtful gifts, warms smiles and the pretense of Santa. To a bottle of wine and pack of cigarettes under the tree. I appreciated the gifts, at that point alcohol was a welcome distraction.
The next five Christmas passed in a state of equal disrepair to the half family that remained. Just my brother, youngest sister and me. Dad hated Christmas, choosing to spend it in the pub or at his new home.
Leaving the three of us to create new family traditions. I would pick small gifts, with the little money I had. Bought with the intention of showing I cared. I’d start buying food in November so I could budget for treats and a turkey. We would decorate tree with mums ornaments and be thankful we still had each other.
This year I’ll be thanking my lucky stars for my friends and family. They give my life great meaning and support.
What do you have to be grateful for this year? Maybe you know someone that might be lonely this Christmas?