After you’ve gone…

Today I’m sharing an extract from my novel ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov‘. Rosa’s cousin Tyche has come to Easthope a year after Rosa’s death. Rosa’s husband Luka has invited her for dinner:

Tyche looked round as they went into the light airy hall and then the lounge, and gave a shiver as if she too was nervous. French windows led into a large glazed conservatory where four people sat on comfortable padded cane furniture. Tyche hadn’t expected an interview panel.
“Tyche, this is my good friend Brian Makepeace, we’ve been pals forever, same nursery, same school, same band, same Uni.”
Brian stood up to shake hands. He was a huge man with a round pale face, pocked and marked, scarred from teenage acne. He was dressed in black and standing seemed to dominate the room with his unsmiling presence.
“Hi Brian,” said Tyche pulling her hand from his enormous paw. He said nothing, his great wan face as blank and distant as the moon, his eyes small and expressionless.
“And this is Brian’s wife Estelle.”
“Hello, Tyche,” Estelle smiled shyly, friendly and welcoming. Her eyes, although wide with surprise, were warm. She looked insubstantial, somehow, a little timid creature beside her big husband.
“And this is Rosa’s best friend, Melanie, and Mel’s cousin Garth.”
So, Luka’s closest friend and Rosa’s closest friend. It was clear that they were as shocked and amazed at her appearance as Luka had been.
“This sounds very rude, but it’s spooky how like Rosa you are,” said Estelle and then giggled as if she had embarrassed herself.
Tyche laughed too “So I’ve been told,” and she thought she could like Estelle for her openness and lack of guile.
“Well, will it make you feel better if I tell you the resemblance is only superficial?” said Melanie and they all laughed but Tyche wasn’t sure whether there was some barb behind Melanie’s words, and if so whether it was aimed at her or Rosa.
Melanie was wearing a short tight black dress, and was beautifully made-up. Estelle was wearing a taupe linen dress and jacket, a little too light for her fair complexion. Tyche was wearing tight jeans and a scarlet low-cut T beneath a sleeveless fringed suede jacket. Was she too casually dressed?
“So how are you related to Rosa? I never heard her mention you, nor Luka, have you, Luka?” asked Melanie. She was smiling but it seemed forced.
“Oh distantly,” Tyche replied “Our grandparents were cousins.”

As the evening progresses, Tyche begins to find out more about these people; it seems that Luka and Melanie, the widower and best friend are now an item, that Estelle is a kind and true friend to Luka, and her husband, Brian – always called Rudi, is an enigmatic and maybe sinister man, but protective towards the bereaved Luka. After dinner, Luka puts on an album he and Rudi made when they were in a band together while still at school. The band was called Swank.

As if on cue, Swank started “After you’ve gone, and left me crying, after you’ve gone…”
Luka switched it off and there was an empty silence.
“I miss her like hell,” he said and left the room.
“Poor Luka,” said Melanie “She was my friend, my best friend.”
Rudi flicked Tyche a look but what he meant to convey she wasn’t quite sure.
“But she changed, after the bank raid,” Melanie went on.
“Of course she did!” exclaimed Estelle hotly, as if she was annoyed with Melanie. “It was ghastly! Everyone said how brave and noble she was; they just think of the bravery not how nearly she was killed!”
“If Chambers had pulled the trigger – “
“No, I mean the marksman. If that policeman had been the tiniest bit off target, he would have blown her head off. She thought he was going to shoot her, I think for a second she thought that he had!”
How perceptive, thought Tyche, and looked at Estelle with respect. Luka was standing in the doorway, listening.
“Rubbish,” said Rudi, as if for Luka’s benefit.
“It’s not rubbish, Brian,” his wife responded.
“She said that to me once,” Luka spoke unexpectedly “She said she thought she’d died and when she found she was alive she couldn’t cope with it.” He was hurt, it was plain to see. “I still don’t know why she did it, it wrecked our life,” he spoke bitterly. “If she hadn’t done it she’d be alive now.”
“Oh Luka, you can’t believe that,” scolded Melanie.
“I’m just saying this. If the first thing hadn’t happened, she wouldn’t have got on that train and she wouldn’t have been killed!” Luka looked round as if expecting to be contradicted then left the room again, pulling the door behind him.

If you want to fin out how Tyche gets to know these people, and who was Rosa Czekov’s stalker, then here is a link to my book:

http://amzn.eu/1IMMIt5

Rosa Czekov is an ordinary person who, through an extraordinary act of courage, brings herself to public attention. Rosa is modest and private, and this unwelcome publicity attracts a stalker who makes her life a misery and brings her to the verge of a breakdown. 
Her cousin, Tyche Kane, has a mission to discover who is tormenting Rosa and bring him or her to retribution. In the course of her pursuit, Tyche uncovers many secrets in an effort to prove Rosa was not just imagining her persecutor.However, her quest not only puts her own life at risk, but endangers Rosa’s friends and family and leads to the murder of someone very close to her.

It’s a raid, nobody move!

Here is an excerpt from my novel, The Stalking of Rosa Czekov;  Rosa had gone to the bank on just a very ordinary day when things take an unexpected turn.

Be aware – this excerpt contains strong language:

“It’s a raid!” someone shouted and the queue swung round to see two men standing in the doorway pointing guns at them. “It’s a raid, nobody move!”
Time expanded and everything happened so slowly that Rosa could observe each tiny detail. One man was taller but they both had scarves wrapped round their faces and baseball caps pulled low. He’s on something, a distant part of her mind told her as she stared at the brilliant eyes of the smaller one. The other man’s dark eyes were wide as if alarmed at what he was doing and his skin shone with sweat.
“Go go go!” shouted the smaller one, and the other ran to the counter and shoved a gun forward with one hand, a bag at the cashier with the other.
Then everything snapped back to normal speed as an old man at the front of the queue wielded his walking stick and struck the gunman with an audible crack on the head. There was the deafening sound of a gunshot and a prolonged screaming. Rosa spun round even as she crouched; the mad-eyed man had grabbed the young mother by the throat and was poking the gun into her face. The child was screaming and hysterical, clinging to her mother’s legs.
“Stay still, don’t move, I’ll kill the bitch!”
“Don’t do anything stupid,” said a man behind Rosa.
“Anything stupid? Anything fucking stupid?” and the gunman yanked the woman backwards and her coat opened and her pregnant belly protruded.
Very slowly Rosa stood up.
“Take me,” said Rosa’s voice. “Take me, she’s got the child. Take me, I won’t struggle.”
She moved her arms away from her body in an appealing and harmless gesture. The woman was screeching ear-piercing shrieks, her howls like nails down a blackboard.
“Take me,” said Rosa again and slowly she walked to the gunman who unbelievably backed away.
She looked into his eyes. They were grey and pebbly, the whites completely red, sheened as if with glycerine drops and they were mad and wide and unreasoning.
“Take me,” and she stepped forward again and shut her eyes.
She opened them as someone shoved against her and fell. The pregnant woman was pushed so violently she tumbled to the floor and Rosa was grabbed. He had an arm round her waist, holding her to him and something hard and brutal was shoved beneath her jaw so painfully that she nearly cried out.
A single blue flash played across the ceiling; there had been no sirens but the police were outside.
“No-one move!” he screamed so loudly that Rosa’s ear hurt.
No-one moved. Rosa could smell him. Sweat and Calvin Kline and a sweet unidentifiable smell, some strange body odour.
“We’re getting out!” he yelled and wrenched her round so they faced the door.
Through the glass they could see the white of police vehicles and running blue shapes of policemen.
“Shit, shit, fucking shit!”
In her head Rosa said, let me go, put your gun down and let me go, lie on the floor and let me go and they won’t shoot you.
He pushed her forward so she was against the door, the gun tight to her throat, her head tipped awkwardly. The street outside was cleared of people and there was a line of police cars and men in navy with strange caps and black sticks. Except they weren’t black sticks they were guns.
He was swearing continuously, the words running into one long stream of expletive.
“Right bitch you’re gonna open the door and we’re goin’ out and we’re gonna get a car and we’re gonna drive. Right bitch, right bitch.”
Gerry had called her a right bitch.
For a moment Rosa didn’t realise that he meant her to open the door but it was locked.
“Open the door, open the fucking door or she gets it!” he screamed and there was a chorus from behind “Open the door! Open the door, he’ll kill her, open the door!” as the other customers begged for her life.
It clicked unlocked and she pulled it open, her hands slipping, as wet as if she’d dipped them in a pool of sweat and tears. The air outside was icy and peculiarly silent.
“Put the gun down,” a calm voice came through a megaphone. “Put the gun down and you’ll be alright.”
Put the gun down, put the gun down said Rosa inside her head. She was pushed forward and stumbled as they went down a kerb.
“I wanna car an a million pounds!”
He was holding her so tightly, pressing her so close against him she could feel his heart.
“Put the gun down and no-one will get hurt and we can talk -”
“Fuck talk! I wanna car an a million pounds!”
Rosa looked at the sky; the clouds were moving very fast, like a speeded up film. She leant back to escape the pressure of the gun and the man staggered. He began to say something and the pressure eased and in her peripheral vision she saw the barrel wave and then there was a loud plopping noise and the retort of a gun and she was showered in a hot crimson stream.
Hot rain? Hot red rain?
The arm around her waist fell away and she sensed the man moving back and then she knew what was dripping off her hair and eyelashes, what was streaming across her mouth and down her chin, with a metallic stink of gore. It was his blood, he’d shot himself.
But standing facing her, a gun to his shoulder, staring down the barrel at her was a policeman, his blue eyes so wide they seemed to start from his head. She stared back at him and slowly raised her arms, held them out beseechingly to the man in blue with the gun.
He didn’t move, nor did she, even as other officers approached and kicked away a weapon. And only then did she let herself be ushered to an ambulance, looking  over her shoulder at the marksman, his gun lowered now, staring back at her, his mouth dropped open as if he was about to cry.

© Lois Elsden 2018

The Stalking of Rosa Czekov – Rosa Czekov is an ordinary person who, through an extraordinary act of courage, brings herself to public attention. Rosa is modest and private, and this unwelcome publicity attracts a stalker who makes her life a misery and brings her to the verge of a breakdown.
Her cousin, Tyche Kane, has a mission to discover who is tormenting Rosa and bring him or her to retribution. In the course of her pursuit, Tyche uncovers many secrets in an effort to prove Rosa was not just imagining her persecutor.However, her quest not only puts her own life at risk, but endangers Rosa’s friends and family and leads to the murder of someone very close to her.

http://amzn.eu/54k8kfS

The unknown eye

I had the idea of a stalker stalked for a long time, but when I came to write it, the story, as usual turned out to be quite different… A stalker, yes, stalked? No, but the stalker tracked and eventually found and identified.

There was a very interesting programme on TV last night about the reality of living with a stalker – sometimes a person you don’t even know. These sad and horrible true life-stories are far removed from my fiction; when I wrote it I didn’t do justice to the terror, fear, anxiety and hopelessness victims feel… but mine was a fiction I wrote about ten years ago, and if I was writing it now, it would be very different.

Here is a link for the programme which is available for the next twenty-nine days in the UK:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09glkcj/stalkers

To return to my fiction… Rosa Czekov was stalked; she escaped from it by catching a train which was involved in a crash resulting in a lot of deaths… now Rosa’s cousin Tyche has arrived in the town on a mission t discover who drove Rosa to take such drastic action.

In this except she is thinking over the meeting she has just had with Rosa’s husband, Luka:

Tyche put down the page and thought about the Luka she had just met. He was still grieving for Rosa but he was getting on with his life, and doing well with his business. Rosa’s descriptions of him as a teenager were fascinating, saying as much about her as they did about him. It was quite clear to Tyche that, contrary to common perception, Luka loved Rosa more than she loved him. What was the French phrase, ‘un qui aime, et un qui est aimé’… When did Rosa realise this, or did she?

Tyche gazed down at the road below, beyond the café patio. People passed slowly backwards and forwards like fowl on a pond, drifting along aimlessly, as if they didn’t know whether to go to the beach to paddle or along to the next beach to swim. There was only the hotel and four or five guesthouses beyond the café, the road ending in a car park. The path led past the swelling mound of Dark Fort; it was a mysterious place, an ancient Neolithic site. A gap in its wall allowed the sun’s first rays to trace a line across its bowl. Eventually the path led to Opal Harbour, a tiny little quay, quaint and pretty, protected by a seawall.

Rosa had decided that the stalker was a man, for no reason. Tyche was not so sure; she looked at her list again; this was the A list, the people closest to Rosa. There was a B list of other people who knew her, and even a C list of every person she could think of. Family, long forgotten children at nursery whose names she had copied from the backs of class photos, junior school, the County, the drama club, her dance class,  friends of  her sister Gerry, friends of Luka’s… There were other people, the milkman, the paper boy, the postman, people who came into the gallery, artists, customers, business acquaintances…

Included on the C list were the names of men who had written repeatedly after she had become ‘famous’. At first she’d thrown away the letters, embarrassed by these strangers, some admiring, some threatening, or creepy, some obscene, some pathetic; some offered love or sex or money or all three. When the things started happening, and she knew she was not mistaken or imagining it, she passed the letters to the police. By this time there were only ‘the regulars’ who kept writing; but the stalker was the one whose messages were on copy paper that could have come from any computer, even her own.

And then there was the D list. Everyone connected with the death of Enoch Chambers, including the man who became her lover.

If you haven’t read my story, I would love you to do so… you can find it here, and if you are kind enough to leave a review I would be very grateful!!

Three questions while planning a novel

I came across an article by someone who was discussing how to change a short story – or maybe I should say develop a shirt story into a novel. I haven’t really ever done that; it is such a long time since I wrote short stories, and I never saw them as being anything other than a stand alone shorter piece. I have written short pieces, on the other hand, which may develop into something but which can  in a way serve as a short story!

This excellent article I read by, Mary Lynn Bracht  was a background to how she came to write her first novel, ‘White Chrysanthemum’ which will be published in January 2018. In the article, Bracht outlined three questions she asked herself while planning her novel-from-a-short-story; it’s made me think about my writing, and I asked myself the questions:

Question 1: How does the story end? I very rarely know how my stories are going to end – I sometimes have a scene I know will come at then end but I’m not always sure who will be involved in it or what will be the outcome. Quite early on while writing ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov’ I knew there would be two people fighting at the edge of a raging sea during a storm. They would both be swept into the sea but only one would emerge – and when the idea first came to me I didn’t know which one. This was supposed to be the climax of the story, and the actual conclusion would result from this fight.  In the event, two completely different people were engaged in the struggle and neither survived… did this mean there was no climax? Well, no, because the main character witnessed the scene, and what led up to it, and what happened after it was vital to the story.
This hasn’t actually answered the question so… for the two things I am writing at the moment – my latest Radwinter story – I have a couple of scenes in my mind which will complete certain story lines, but there are three other aspects which I don’t yet have an answer to and am wondering whether to eliminate one to save for a different story. In my NaNo story about the mystery woman, I think aspects of the mystery will be revealed, but the narrative isn’t sufficiently developed yet for me to have a clear view of where it’s going.

Question 2: What scenes/events must take place in order to reach the end? I have a variety of ideas when I am writing, but not all of the scenarios I have up my writing sleeve will be pulled out for these novels. So, in answer to the actual question – I don’t know. I don’t have a clear idea of the conclusion, and can only see a few steps in front of me, so to repeat, I have no idea.

Question 3: Am I telling the story from the right character’s perspective? In my Radwinter novel there can only be one perspective since it is a first person narrative; however, there are scenes which include someone else’s blog so I guess that is a different perspective. In my NaNo book, although much of the story is told from the point of view of the MW – the mystery woman, it is only her actions and some of her thoughts which are revealed; her past is concealed, and any thoughts she may have of what happened to bring her to the town are not revealed. However, she is beginning to do some writing herself, she is writing a sort of memoir, starting with her days at Uni, and it may be (I haven’t decided yet) her writing eventually reveals what happened to her (which I don’t yet know) which led her to living in a small anonymous bedsit in a place where she knows no-one and no-one knows her.
Because I have no proper plan for my stories, I can’t really answer whether it’s from the right perspective – as I said, in my Radwinter story, there is only the one point of view, that of Thomas Radwinter.

Here is a link to the article – it really is worth reading!

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/breaking-in-writers-digest/transforming-short-story-novel

…and here are links to my novels I’ve mentioned:

http://amzn.eu/7SNYKTk

https://www.amazon.co.uk/RADWINTER-5-Book-Series/dp/B072HTG366/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1509924449&sr=8-6&keywords=lois+elsden

Went the day well? NaNo day 1

In case you’re wondering, my title, ‘Went the day well?’ was from a 1942 film based on a story by Graham Greene, which was a quote from a poem:

Went the day well?
We died and never knew.
But, well or ill,
Freedom, we died for you.

John Maxwell Edmonds.

I’m using it about something far less important or significant, the first day of the 1917 National Novel Writing Month – the online challenge to write 50,000 words during the month of November.

This is my fifth year of attempting it, and in the last four attempts I was successful, although with a couple it was a close-run thing, completing the challenge a few minutes before midnight on November 30th!

I was all set up with what I was going to do; I have a character called Gus and I’ve written about him several times, and I decided I wanted to pull his story together and NaNoWriMo seemed the ideal vehicle for my attempt. So… I had a busy day yesterday, lots of things happened, some planned some unexpected, some good, some really not good at all.

I sat down first thing and opened a new document… and blank… Gus had wandered off… he obviously didn’t think he was ready to share his story. There would be no point in forcing it I knew, that way difficulty lies! I have so many other things I am doing at the moment, probably too many, that I knew Gus would prove recalcitrant and reluctant.

I did have a back-up plan; after I finish writing my novels quite often the characters’ stories continue in my head and I sometimes actually write down what happens next – this doesn’t develop into a sequel, but some of the ideas might lead to something new (what happened to the characters in ‘Farholm’ resulted in an idea which developed into ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov‘) However, when I tried to find a couple of these ideas I wanted to pursue I couldn’t locate them; I have an awful feeling that when I was doing my mass clear out and tidy that they went into the recycling bin)

So at eleven o’clock last night, I addressed the empty page. I started something completely new, something which had just been a vague idea floating around… I don’t know whether it will work, but it’s started and I managed to write 1076 words before midnight!!

I will try to keep you up to date with my progress… and will maybe share more about my idea later today… but definitely tomorrow!!

Here are links to ‘Farholm‘ and ‘Rosa‘:

http://amzn.eu/6YAke3w

http://amzn.eu/0KjhkE4

… and here is a clue about what I’m writing about:

https://loiselden.com/2017/10/10/the-bowman-the-tusked-creature-and-the-three-diamonds/

PS my featured image has nothing to do with what I’m writing, it’s just a picture I like!

Running out of options

The title of my e-book ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov’ tells you what the story is about – a woman named Rosa who is stalked… except in fact Rosa isn’t even in the narrative except as a back story. Her cousin Tyche Kane is determined to find out who stalked Rosa, frightened her so much that she caught a train which crashed…

BRAVE ROSA DIES IN LITTLE GILL JUNCTION CRASH

It was revealed last night that one of the victims of the Little Gill Junction train crash was Rosa Czekov. The body of Rosa, 32, was identified from her possessions and her jewellery by her husband Luka

Tyche tries to entice the stalker into stalking her as s/he did Rosa, a dangerous idea as she finds out when she is out on a run:

She trotted on until she came to the bottom road to Oak and on an impulse took it. She had slowed, losing the impetus, disrupted by the phone call and what had been said. What was it about Rudi which made her behave like this against her better judgement?
The road was narrower and she stepped up onto the verge and ran on the grass as two cars passed. It was a mistake coming along here, it wasn’t wide enough and there were too many bends and high hedges. She ran on, wondering whether she should turn round but she was half way to Oak so she pushed on. She was tiring; she had gone further than she intended and deviating to Oak added extra miles.
There was the sound of a car behind her but glancing back it was not yet in sight. There was nowhere for her to step off the road now, the verge had petered out so she increased her stride to get to a place she could wait. The car was creeping along and she wondered whether to stop for it to pass. It was bugging her now. She glanced over her shoulder and it was in sight, and it looked like one of the two which had just passed her.
She was filled with fear; was this him? She had a spurt of energy, resisting the urge to keep looking back. It was a maroon off-roader, she didn’t know enough about cars to know what sort. And what was it with tinted windows? Rudi’s Chrysler and this beast.
It was crawling along; it could be the stalker or it could just be some creep ogling her as she ran. She couldn’t go on at this pace and she stopped. The car stopped. She turned and trotted back towards it and it went into reverse. Angry now, Tyche found some strength to run.
And then suddenly with a crash of gears it was accelerating towards her.
Oh shit!
She turned and ran seeking some escape. There was a wooden fence instead of the hedge and she ran and jumped and managed to scramble her way over, catching her foot on the top and catapulting headfirst into a field. She lay winded for a minute. The car had slowed on the other side of the fence then drove slowly away.
Tyche sat up, panting. The front of her vest was grass stained and there were marks on her knees. She was rubbing at her legs when she heard the car; it was in the field, it had come in an open gateway further up and it was bumping over the rough pasture towards her. She sprang to her feet and ran off across the field, the car was accelerating now and she had no doubt that the driver intended to run her down. She jinked sideways and ran towards a tumbledown cattle shed. She was at the limit of her stamina and strength and the car was roaring after her. She slowed and the car slowed behind her; he was playing with her, he could have knocked her over before now. She slowed more and so did he.
She suddenly leapt forward and ran as fast she could and he accelerated. She gave a flying jump and some how managed to vault the old bath which served as a water trough; she slipped as she landed and rolled away but it didn’t matter, the car had gone straight into the bath with a satisfying crash.
Exhausted though she was, she sprinted away from the shed, not knowing whether she would be pursued on foot. She knew where she was now, knew where she was going. She climbed another fence into a field of maize and made her way down a row pushing between the plants.
She was spent, only fear carrying her on. There was a noise behind her and a plume of smoke rose from the field, it had to be the car. She pressed on and came at last to another fence, climbed wearily over into the garden and made her way through the shrubs and then across the overgrown lawn. Remembering Rosa’s words, she counted along the ornamental bricks at the edge of the patio, lifted one and found the key. She went to the back door, let herself in and switched off the alarm and then with the door shut and locked behind her she sank to the floor, shattered.
She lay in a trance of exhaustion for an immeasurable amount of time. Her ears pricked. Was it him? She tensed, alert in the silence of the empty house. He had come into the house before when Rosa lived here, he had gone through her possessions, moved, hidden and replaced things. Tyche’s hands were shaking so much she could hardly turn the key in the lock but in seconds the door was open, the alarm set, and she was crouched down against the wall trying to find some extra energy or courage.
She rang Tic.
“Keogh.”
“Where are you?” she whispered.
“Eldenham. Are you alright? I can’t hear you very well. Still OK for tomorrow?”
“Yeah, looking forward to it.”
He laughed and rang off. She didn’t want to ring Rudi, tried Estelle, decided not to leave voice mail. Luka too was out of contact.  She crept down the side of the house and peeped round the front.
She could have wept with relief. Estelle’s green Ka was parked on the drive. She staggered to the front door, knocked, rang the bell then sank onto the step.

© Lois Elsden 2017

There he is! Walking down the street!

My subject of my novel ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov’ is easy to guess!! I return to the theme of stalkers and being stalked in the book I am working on now, provisionally called ‘Saltpans’; one of the characters is troubled by someone who seems to be stalking him… at present it is harmless, letters, small gifts, other messages. He doesn’t know who it is but it’s troubling.

I came across something I wrote some time ago, and this is from the point of view of someone who becomes intrigued then infatuated and then obsessed about a stranger… Here is an excerpt:

There he is walking down the street in front of me! … There he was just a-walking down the street.. is that a song from the sixties? Or maybe it was something else… there he stood in the street , smiling from his head to his feet

But anyway – there he is! And before I know it I’m walking after him, following him! He walks quite quickly, but then he does everything quickly. I’ve watched him working, and whatever it is, selling tickets, doing stuff behind the counter, making coffee, rearranging chairs, he works quickly… not hurrying, not rushed, not slap-dash, he’s just quick.

I keep up with him as he goes round the corner walking along past the back of the shopping centre. Slim waisted, neat figure… he isn’t very tall, long-bodied rather than long-legged, wearing jeans as usual and a black polo shirt.

Suddenly he stops and I almost stop too but he has met someone and I have to carry on walking, stepping out into the road to go round them.

I get a snatch of conversation, his friend, a taller man, balding and with has short blondy red beard, is saying something about Clacton… Clacton? Isn’t that a seaside town in… in Essex maybe?

I cross over the entrance to the car park, and there’s no traffic to stop me and I’m walking away, wanting to glance over my shoulder… I get to the corner and stop and get out my phone and stare at it hopefully… then I have to cross over, I can’t stand there for ever. But the lights are red so I wait. I glance left and he’s standing beside me, so close that I can see a blue mark on his cheek as if he’s stabbed himself with a pen.

I stare across the road, and it’s only when someone pushes against me, someone behind me that I step out and move, a couple of feet behind him again. He cuts across in front of me and has only gone a few yards beyond the crossing when a car stops, he bends to look in and then opens the door and slips into the passenger seat. There’s a burst of music then the door shuts and they drive away… I stop and stare after them, memorising the number…

“Are you alright, dear?” an elderly gentleman asks me. “Do you need help?”

I gather my sense… no I’m fine, I tell him with a smile, I’ve just remembered something… and thanking him again I set off to find the nearest bar… and when I lift the large glass of Pinot, my hand’s trembling.

© Lois Elsden 2017

Here is a link to my e-books, and my recently published paperbacks, ‘So You Want To Write‘, and ‘Radwinter’:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_2_6?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+e%2Caps%2C136&crid=1Q08W85YOOTFO