Planchette- Part 100


“What- what are the goals? I- I mean regarding my treatment. I thought I would need screening.”

“Currently, there is no screening for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. The goal of this first phase is to clear the blood of leukaemia cells and to reduce the number of blasts which are very immature cells in the bone marrow to normal. It usually involves treatment with 2 or 3 chemotherapy drugs that are given while you’re in hospital. It takes about a week to give the chemotherapy, and then you’ll stay in the hospital for a few weeks longer.”

“Woah, hang on that’s not possible! Ava could give birth at any time, I mean it’s possible. She’s nearly 25 weeks pregnant. I really can’t do that, not with such short notice.”

This first phase is very important, I’d strongly suggest that you follow this advice.”

“I’m sorry, it came as a shock that’s all. I thought that I might be able to have treatment from home. I’m so sorry Ava.”

Ava’s bottom lip trembled. “Jesus that’s so scary, you away and me potentially going into labour at any time.”

“You still have possibly 15 weeks to go. When would my chemo start?”

“Three days.”

“Shit! That soon? Okay, well that’s good I guess. Ava, I will be there for the birth of our baby, there’s no need to look so terrified!”

Ava pulled her hand away. “I have every right to be! Don’t make promises that are out of your control anyway. Go for the treatment and get this cancer out of your system!”

Oscar pursed his lips, inhaling deeply. “Okay, so the side effects, what about those? I only really know about hair loss.”

“Yes, hair loss is extremely common. You may experience nausea and vomiting, easy bruising, mouth sores and  loss of appetite.”

“Well, I have about ¾ of those symptoms anyway. So the others won’t make much difference. I mean what have I to lose?”

“Three days time though Oscar!”

“That’s fine, I-I have no choice.”

“Oscar you’ve gone a horrible colour. Do- do you need some water? You should go and get some fresh air.” Ava whispered.

“Shhh.”

“Do you have any other questions?”

Oscar shook his head. “N-no. ”

Doctor Cassidy nodded. “We will ring you within the next couple of days so that we can sort out your medication. Don’t go rushing off, have a sit down for a few minutes if you need to, or have a drink in the cafeteria. ”

“Thanks.” Oscar whispered as he vacantly stood up not waiting for Ava and wandered out into the corridor. A woman dressed in a long brown coat and frizzy hair flashed past his blurry eyes. He stared as she darted past,  running after her. It was May, he was sure of it. His hearing was failing him, what was happening? “May.” He called in a voice so tiny, no one heard him. Oscar swayed, reaching out for the wooden handrail, completely missing it as he slumped to the floor.

***

“Jesus Oscar! Oscar?!”

His eyes flickered open,  the blurry image of faces looming over him. He felt gentle hands prop him up against the wall, helping him to place his aching head between his knees. ‘ The sound is so bizarre, what is happening ?’ He placed a hand to his burning forehead. Too many people crowding him. ‘I need to get away, I need fresh air.’ He thought. Oscar crouched onto his hands and knees, reaching for the wall and attempted to stand. He felt a reassuring hand against his back, the sound coming to a halt, as he plummeted into darkness.

To be continued….

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Bedfellow


“Nancy, turn off your bedside light will you? It’s getting awfully late. I can’t possibly sleep with that beaming in my eyes!” Nancy gazed up from her novel, snapping the pages shut.                                                                 

“Oh must you be so intolerant! It’s only 10.15pm, I was simply going to finish chapter five. That’s one, two, three pages to go.”

“Finish it if you must, but I’ll hold you fully to account should I sleep in tomorrow! It’s like you’re waiting up for something. Tell me this Nancy, precisely why would you go to bed bathed in perfume with rouge upon your cheeks?”

“Erm, they say that Marilyn Monroe wears Chanel no. 5 to bed. I read it in a magazine article.”

“It isn’t proper to be reading magazines! Not here. So now you’re trying to emulate her?”

“Not exactly, no.”

“If you ask me, it looks like you’re about to leave the premises. Why would you wear a slip to bed instead of night wear and wear your hair in a hair net with not a single roller in sight? Not one!”

“Oh stop being such a little busy body Diana! None of this concerns you.”

“It does when I am awoken by you returning at 4am in the morning! What pre-cis-ley were you doing last night? I have every right to express my concern! I’ve seen the way that you look at Albert Stapleton when he passes you in the corridor!”

“Don’t be such a goose! We barely notice one another. The boy’s rooms are on the other side of the school!”

“I think he likes you and you he!”

“Go to sleep Diana!”

“Not until I’m informed of the facts. You can’t hide things from me. I’m your best friend aren’t I? Surely that gives me some entitlement to the truth?!”

“Oh that’s enough and no it doesn’t!”

“Nancy, you listen to me. What attachments do you have with Albert?”

Nancy sighed. “Albie and I have become very close over the past month; we are very fond of one another!”

“Oh you have a foolish pet name for him now do you?! You’re fond of Albert! Fondness of one another! Now you listen hard! Behavior such as this is prohibited within the school, not to mention the fact that he is one year your senior!”

“Oh cool your temper, you’re like a little fire cracker aren’t you?!”

“Nancy if anyone were to find out other than me, you would both be expelled. You cannot go around kissing members of the opposite sex!”

“Oh dear.” Nancy sighed. “I think you’ve grasped the wrong end of the stick. You accuse me of failing to understand your point, but you’ve missed mine by a country mile!”

“I don’t understand.”

“Good. Just you keep it that way, we’ll say no more on the matter tonight. Goodnight Diana.”

“Now you wait a minute. Are you informing me that it was more than a kiss? It was wasn’t it?”

“Erm… I-I…..”

“Nancy! My God! What do you think you’re playing at? You cannot flounce around like some little harlot. You-you and he had sexual intercourse in this very school!  I’m right aren’t I? You are 17 years of age and Albert Stapleton is your bedfellow!”

“My what?”

“You- you are his whore!”

“How dare you fasten such a degrading label upon me! You of all people Diana! A girl who I once called my best friend, someone who stayed by your miserable side when you had nobody! ”  Nancy pulled off her hair net, teasing her hair with a comb.

“You are not married to him! Not bound by legal matrimony and if you’re pregnant well, you’ll be carrying his bastard! What precisely did you do? How far did you take things? ”

“It is no business of yours!”

“Well I think that it is. You must tell me everything or I- I’ll….”

“You’ll what? Tell everyone and get us expelled?”

“That’s not what I was suggesting, but come on now, how did this all begin? I saw you talking to him in the library a few days ago.”

“I’m allowed to talk to him aren’t I?”

“Yes, but what were you discussing so secretly while I was looking in the Home Economics section?”

“Must you know?”

“YES!”

“Shhh! Lower your voice. Albie said that we should go to his room as the boys on either side were away on holiday. There was less chance of us getting caught.”

“What happened then? You- you consummated your relationship?”

“Shhhh! STOP!”

“This is an outrage Nancy! You’re- you’re no better than a common prostitute!”

Nancy stood up, slapping Diana across the face. She yelped, grasping her cheek. Nancy pulled her dressing gown more tightly around herself, placing on her slippers leaving a flabbergasted Diana seated upon her bed.

“I am no man’s whore.”

Steer the stars


Blue hands me a cigarette, I hesitate momentarily before proceeding to take a long drag and pass the splif around the large circle. I cough a little, pulling a face.

“Honey what’s that face for? It’s weed that’s all, nothin’ sinister.”

I know that of course and nod. “This-this is all just so new to me.”

“Yes, well these things take time. You’re with us now, you aint got nothin’ to worry about, she’s one of the team. Hanna is one of us ain’t she everybody?”

I stare anxiously around the circle as the others nod enthusiastically, passing around the shared bottle of the cheapest, most potent beer that money can buy. Blue sits there playing with the small braid which hangs loosely from the side of her dark-haired head.

“Ma Momma is gonna be so angry with me. I’ll never hear the end of it.”

She looks up. “Now don’t you give a thought to what yo’ Momma thinks. You’s a woman in yo’ own right. It’s time to make your own decisions in this life o’ yours. Don’t let nobody push you over or pull you in the wrong direction d’ya hear?”

“I suppose you’re right Blue.”

“ ‘Course I’s right. My nickname aint Blue the brain for nothin’. ” She grins. “Now then, where was we? Ah yeah. Let’s all hold hands and welcome our new friend and sister in to our tribe. Hanna we welcome you and hope that you will enjoy being a non conformist. You knows what means now don’t you honey?”

I nod. “It means that I should not conform to the normal pattern of behaviour of society.”

“Yeah that’s right. She’s got it folks. Now then has anyone got anythin’ that they wanna say on any matter in the recent few days?”

A tall blonde haired man nodded. “Hanna this is Jacob.” I smile politely; he reciprocates my action and breaks the circle, stepping forward to shake my hand.

“Hi there.”

“N-nice to meet you.”

“T’morra is a big day for us all. Protestin’ ain’t no easy task, but I think we’re all prepared aint we? We’ve all got the banners, sign posts an’ such things. But we must remember one thing, we’ve gotta keep this peaceful. The last thing we want is for us all to get arrested by the cops an’ make the papers. You got that. An’ Hanna are you with us?”

Truth be told I didn’t know, my Momma would kill me and I’d never hear the end of it.

I-I think so.”

“Well that ain’t no good! I need either a yes or a no answer!”

“Yes then. I’m with you on this one.”

“You here that? She’s with us guys! That’s no mean feat, don’t worry Hanna we won’t push ya in at the deep end, we’ll start you off good an’ slow, you can be one of the sign carriers an’ remember this is a peaceful protest, so no retaliation any of you. You don’t want us all gettin’ arrested!”

“Erm, excuse me.” I say. “I mean, this may be a kinda stupid question, but what is this protest all about?”

“All about? It’s about us an’ our free will an’ our rights.”

“Yes but more specifically what is it for?”

“My girl, you have so much to learn! That’s about it.”

“Well what’s the actual point then?”

“I dunno.”

“I though we were all about love and kindness and peace, what about that?” It’s like that quote from that song! Ya heard it? ‘And peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars.’”

“Oh that one? From ‘Hair’ ?” Jacob laughs. ” Yeah I’ve heard it, like I said it’s all gonna be very peaceful, we ain’t gonna be doing no harm, no harm at all!”

Pine cones


“Ivy! Wait up! We can’t keep up with ye.”

“An does that mean a have to slow down an’ wait Jimmy?”

“Yeah.”

Ivy sighed, bending down to rescue her knitted wool sock, which had slid halfway down her right calf. Little Bessie pouted. “I’m the bairn, why do I always get left?” She tugged her older sister’s sock up for her, grinning mischeviously.

Ivy took her little sister’s hand in hers. “Thanks. Aww lass, we weren’t leavin’ you. Come on we’ll both run together.”

“I hate running!”

Jimmy turned around on his heels, glancing over his left shoulder. “I’m the man an’ I say stop complainin’!”

Bessie pulled a face, sticking out her tongue out at him.

“Oh now you two just behave yourself, an’ Bessie you forgot this again! You left it by the creek! That’s no good is it now?” Ivy handed Bessie the small cardboard box.

What happens if there’s a bombin’ you’d be stuck then wouldn’t you? I’m not givin’ ye mine. Now, be a good little lass an’ put it around your neck. That’s a girl, now you keep that safe.”

“Ta Ivy. I’ll try an’ be good! I promise!”

“It’s alright. We all start the new school on Monday, so you two best be good. I know you’ll try Bessie, I’m just a bit worried about our wild Jim.” She grinned. “An we’ll have to try an’ speak proper too. Or properly, I think they say over here.”

“I like me accent!” Jimmy piped in. “There’s nought wrong with it!”

“We want to become proper ladies and gentleman then it isn’t proper!”

“Who says I want to be a lady? I want to fly aeroplanes!” Bessie spread out her arms, circling around her siblings.

“Neooowwwm! Looks how fast I’m goin’! Try an’ catch me!”

“Bessie! You’ll fall down an’ cut all your knees like last time! Slow down will ye, an’ watch your footin’ on all these big tree roots!”

“I’m not Bessie! I’m the fastest fighter plane in the world! Neeeooowwwm!”

Ivy and Jimmy shook their head at one another. “She’ll be fine. It’s a big field, she’ll not get lost.”

Jimmy proceeded to kick his way through the remainder of the field, noticing a billow of smoke coming from behind a cluster of trees in the vast clearing.

“Look a’ that! Come an’ see Ivy!”

“What? What d’ya see?”

“Loads o’ smoke! Well maybe not loads, but some! I’m goin’ to investigate!”

“Hang on Jim I’m comin’ with ye!”

Bessie stood a couple of paces in front of them, hidden behind a large oak tree. They noticed her sandal poking out.

“Boooo!”

“Arrgh!” Ivy laughed, pretending to be alarmed.

“Ha- ha! You was scared.”

“You were scared!” Ivy corrected.

“No I wasn’t!”

“No I was correctin’ you Bess. The proper sayin’  is ‘I was’.”

“Oh, right.”

“Good grief! It’s somethin’ very big! What is it Ivy?”

“It-it looks like an aeroplane.”

“I’ve always wanted to see an aeroplane up close! I’ve only ever had me models!”

“I-Ivy I’m scared!” Bessie whimpered. Ivy scooped up her little sister, holding her in her arms.

“Don’t you be afraid Bessie, we’ll always look after you. Jimmy! I don’t know if it’s safe! It’s smokin’ real bad! It’s only a little plane, like one man one. I-I think the fire’s out now. Look at its blackened wing!”

Ivy wandered closer, catching sight of a man in the cockpit.

You two! There’s a man in here!”

“D-dead or alive?”

“I-I don’t know. The window is broke. I-I could check but- but I’m afraid to get close!”

“Bessie, you come over here with me an’ Ivy will check. She’s the eldest.”

“Oh ta Jimmy, but yes I’ll do it.”

She crept closer to the window, shuddering as she noticed a small smear of blood upon the remaining section of broken window, which was already spattered with mud. Ivy placed both hands to the glass, cupping them to block any excess light.

“I can’t see his face properly, his head is to one side but there’s a lot of blood an I don’t know where it’s comin’ from! Erm, hello mister, are you alright?” He stirred ever so slightly.

“You two, he’s alive! Go an’ run an’ get help in town. He’s hurt real bad I think.”

“Is he English?”

“I dunno Jimmy! I’ll try an’ talk to him while you’re away. I’m not scared. Run as fast as you can. Bessie are you stayin’ with me or goin’ with our Jimmy?”

“Can I just sit on that rock. I’m too slow to run with Jimmy, he’ll shout at me, but I’m scared ‘cos the man is bleedin’. “

“Yes love. Go an sit over there. You’ll be fine.”

Jimmy nodded, running to the village get some assistance. Ivy cautiously pulled at the handle of the battered plane door. Much to her relief, it had not jammed in the impact.

“Are you badly hurt mister?”

No reply. Maybe he was a foreigner she thought.

Erm parlez vous Francais?” Silence.

“Parli Italiano? Sprecken ze Deutch?”

She shook her head. “Never mind. My brother will be back shortly an’  he’s bringin’ help. My God!” She eyed the protruding bone, prominently poking up under the flesh of his left shoulder underneath his jacket, which had slid down his arm.

“A-a think it’s dislocated, or maybe broke. Ma little brother did that once, fell out of a tree an’ his shoulder popped out. Looked a bit like yours. I feel a bit mad like ‘cos I know that you don’t understand a word that I’m sayin’. A probably shouldn’t touch ya head but I’m scared that that hood of yours is stoppin’ ya from breathing properly. You’re as white as a sheet. I’ll just unbuckle the chin strap an’ leave it at that. There.”

“Danke.”

Ah! Ya can speak! Did you just say danke? Erm sprecken ze Deutch?” He nodded slowly.

“Oh lord! I think you’re a German. The village folk wont like that, not one bit. Still, you’ll be alright by yourself so long as you weren’t plannin’ to bomb the North East.”

The pilot gazed at her with hazy eyes, he closed them. Ivy shook him. He winced, letting out a small cry.

“Oh I’m sorry mister, but don’t you be doin’ no sleepin’! Erm entschuldigung. No erm, that’s not right. Oh I should have paid more attention at school. You’re not very old are you, erm maybe late 20’s at the very oldest? Erm wie heibst du?”

He stared blankly at her. “Too many questions, but don’t you worry, help will come soon.”

 

Scotch


The dusty Manhattan air niggled at Ruthie’s throat as she paced up and down the balcony, the contents of the glass of Scotch sloshed from side to side, her hand trembling with anticipation.  She gazed at her gold wrist watch, another one of Billy’s pointless gifts; one that said; ‘Darlin’ I’m sorry but `I’ve had another affair, but this expensive watch will solve everything.’ Ruthie swayed a little, as the potent alcohol intoxicated her system. She placed a hand to her forehead, running her fingers over her Marseille waved hair, as she did so something jagged caught a section, hooking itself to the strands. Ruthie inhaled sharply as she unhooked the costume jewellery engagement ring from her hair, cheap just like her relationship. She staggered inside, opening her jewellery box, carefully taking out the metal hair comb, one too gaudy to be her own. It was proof enough. The latch clicked on the bedroom door as Billy stumbled in, tossing his bowler hat onto the floor. He collapsed into a chair, dizzily attempting to unlace his black polished shoes. He smelt of her, that other woman with her cheap harlot perfume. Ruthie wandered over to him.

“Honey, you were out so late again I was so worried, what were ya doin’ ?”

“Big work schedule at the office.” He slurred.

They kept you there until three in the mornin’? How could they?”

Billy fumbled with his knotted tie, his head lolling against the side of the arm chair.

“You’re drunker than I am honey.” Ruthie cooed. “Let me help you unbutton your shirt. I was ever so worried ya know.”

“Wha- d’ya mean?”

“Oh Billy you’ve been working to hard, you’re worn out. Did you go to the cabaret bar again with the fellas? It that why you’re so late?”

“Yeah.”

Ruthie nodded, completely unconvinced. “You smell like her again Billy!”

  “ ‘mell like who?”

 “That little red headed harlot you were seeing! You said it was over, you told me that there was nothin’ goin’ on between the two of you anymore.”

  “There isn’t.”

  “Liar! You cheatin’ God damned liar! How dare you. How can you lie to me?!”

  “Baby, I-I.”

 “How long? HOW LONG?!”

  “Oh come on, it was nothin’.”

   “NOTHIN? How is sleepin’ around with another woman nothin’? I trusted you, you son of a bitch. I thought we were gonna have a future together you and me!”

   “It didn’t go no further than a kiss.” He lied. “I’m tired, I need to go to bed.”

    “You sly, son of a bitch! You snake! You absolute viper! You-you!”

Ruthie swung for him, an unsteady Billy toppled to the floor, lying there, stunned with fresh blood pouring from his nose. He scrambled away from her, backing towards the small en-suite bathroom.

You get the hell a way from me d’ya hear! You-you ravin’ lunatic!”

Oh I’ll show you a lunatic, you’re gonna get what’s been coming to ya.”

  “I really wouldn’t do that Ruthie baby, you’re gonna be makin’ a big mistake.”

  “Oh and why’s that cheatin’ Billy? Give me one good reason why I should save your ass!”

 “It just so happens that I’ve got me a gun in my pocket. Oh no! Where he hell?!”

Ruthie smiled slyly, stroking her fingers over the object buried in her dressing gown pocket.

“Oh dear, poor old Billy’s plan has backfired hasn’t it! What a shame. So you came in armed did you? You knew that I was gonna hit the roof when I realized that you were sleepin’ around with little miss hooker!”

  “Oh Jesus!”

  “Prayin’ to Jesus Christ aint gonna save ya now you fool! I knew what your motives were!”

“It was precautionary Ruthie! Murder was never on ma mind!”

   “Complete and utter baloney!”

   “Cool it Ruthie, I think you’re runnin’ a fever or somethin’ it- it’s too hot in here.”

   “Utter lies! You’re so full of manure my man, my god I shoulda seen it months ago. I’m such a fool, such a blasted fool! I’m gonna give you to the count of 10 to get out of here and save your own ass!”

  “What?”

  “One, two, three, four. Move Billy! Five I’m warnin’ you! Six! Ten. Too late! Too God- damned late!”

No rock


Eliza shuffled uncertainly from side to side, glancing down at her frayed knotted laces on her worn canvas shoes. Her Aunt Beatrice dusted off her floury hands, gazing up at her from the opposite side of the kitchen. She sighed loudly.

      “Eliza! If you’re not going to help me with my baking, you may as well go out and play. Put on your overcoat, it’s not so warm today.”

Eliza swallowed and nodded. Without so much as a word, she pulled on her lightweight overcoat, hastily fastening up the toggles in dire attempt to get out from Aunt Beatrice’s feet.

      “Oh Eliza! Don’t look at me like that. I have a village fete to bake for. My cakes are in high demand. I promise that we can spend some time together later. How’s about that?”

Eliza nodded glumly as she lifted up the latch, glancing over her left shoulder once more at her Auntie, before wandering out into the fresh spring air.

She padded carefully down the sandy path, inhaling the salty sea air as it rustled through her long blonde hair. Eliza took the ribbon from around her slightly discoloured wrist and knotted her hair back into a ponytail, the wisps of baby hair framing her face. Eliza clambered over the hill to one of the highest parts of the cliff and was seated, catching her breath. She crouched up once more, spreading her skirt beneath her. Eliza closed her eyes, picking a small handful of daisies, proceeding to make a daisy chain. Her youth began to show, as she soon grew tired of her insignificant task. She yawned, laying flat on her back, staring up at the opal sky with it’s floating clouds. Eliza counted them, one, two, three, and four. She created a small frame with alternate thumbs and forefingers, gazing through it as if it were an imaginary camera lens.

Eliza gasped, sitting bolt upright as a sharp stone imprinted uncomfortably into her back.

“Horrid stone!” She cursed, picking it up with her thumb and forefinger, tossing it carelessly over the opposite side of the cliff. She shook her head and laughed, her face soon fell as she heard the most frightful, blood-curdling cry. Eliza gasped, picking up her skirt and shuffled over to the edge of the cliff.

“Hello?”

She could see nothing, and dared not venture any further. Eliza descended the long line of steps to discover were the cry may have come from. As she reached half way, she noticed a man, crouched with his hands over his mouth. Eliza shuffled nearer, reaching the bottom only to catch sight of another being, lying upon the dusty ground. The man placed a hand to his mouth.

   “He- he’s dead! Did you just throw that God damned stone?”

Eliza gasped. “Dead? DEAD!” She repeated over and over.

“What is it with kids and throwing bloody stones?” He barked, his face reddening. He mopped his sweat soaked brow with a handkerchief, placing his hands on his waist to reveal the growing damp patches underneath his armpits.

   “Well?” He continued. “Did you think that it was a very clever idea? Did it not even cross your mind that there might be people walking in the under path?”

Eliza’s small mouth gaped open like a codfish.

“I-I didn’t check, I forgot to.”

        “Course you did! Aren’t you too old to do something so foolish? A little girl shouldn’t be out alone on a day like this. What kind of irresponsible parent lets their child play on the cliff tops anyway?”

“Both my parents are dead.” It was true. The man’s facial expression softened ever so gently.

“I’m sorry.”

Eliza gasped at the flaccid body of the innocent man upon the cold ground, his shocked eyes wide open with specs of curdling blood in the corner of his mouth.

“Are- are you sure he’s dead?”

   “Oh I’m certain, no pulse.”

    “Oh my goodness.”

    “Oh Lord would be more suitable.”

    “Isn’t that blasphemous, I mean to take the Lord’s name in vain?”

The man shrugged. “Some might say it was.”

Eliza slowly sat upon the banking, placing her head into her hands and wept, as the cruel realisation of what she had done was brought home.

“Crying isn’t going to bring him back kid.”

   “I’m 13. That’s not so little. My name’s Eliza.”

   “John.”

   “Pardon?”

   “My name’s John and that was Charles, but we call, I mean called him Charlie.”

   “Oh don’t! Don’t put it like that!”

   “He’s dead Eliza, gone forever.”

   “Oh John! His poor Mother and Father, however will I tell them? We need to get help, we must tell someone immediately.”

    “Sit back down!” John ordered.

“What? Why?”

    “Eliza, Charlie had no family there’s simply no-one to tell.”

    “No-one at all?”

     “No child, I looked out for Charlie, he was like a brother to me.” John sniffed, wiping a tear from his eye.

   “He was the best of men, one of the kindest people I have known. He was the definition of goodness, and now he’s gone!”

“Oh don’t!” Eliza begged. “Surely I didn’t kill him, I know very little, but surly a stone wouldn’t bury itself into someone’s forehead like that? Not that deep! A stone couldn’t cause that much damage!”

“Yes! Yes it would if a young fool was to hurl it off a cliff edge in the way that you just did!”

Eliza shook her head. “I don’t believe it. You’re lying!”

     “You would be a liar to deny murdering him! You’re a child, you wont go to prison, but we can’t just leave the body up here either. You must stay here with Charlie while I get help.”

    “It’s too late for help!” Eliza wailed.

    “You can’t just leave the body here to rot! Charlie deserves better! The best!”

Eliza nodded, mopping her teary eyes with her white lacy handkerchief.

  “Stay here.”

She shuddered at the though of being left alone with a newly deceased corpse, an innocent man whom she’d unintentionally murdered.

“I won’t move.”

 She whispered, her voice choked with resentment.

   “You better not!”

    “I promise that I will not leave Charlie’s side, it’s the least I can do.”

    “I’ll have to bring the police.” John sighed. “This is manslaughter. Do you understand what that means child?”

“Little girl and child! Stop giving me such silly labels John! Yes I think I know what it means, killing someone by accident.”

Precisely what you just did. 23 years old, old enough to be your brother!”

 “Please stop! Are you going to get help or not?” Eliza snapped.

“I just thought that you ought to know the facts Eliza! Poor Charlie!”

“GO!”

Eliza glanced up at John with large eyes, too afraid to examine Charlie’s body too closely.

“You better be here when I get back! This is only a small town! They’d soon find you!”

   “I wouldn’t dare John.”

John turned on his heels, running down the steep, sandy path.

She was alone with a corpse, someone who had once been so happy, so full of life. Eliza shuffled closer to the body, squinting her eyes to haze over the ghastly wound. ‘This is all your doing’ She scolded. ‘At least have the decency to look at him properly and take responsibility for what you’ve done.’ Eliza opened her eyes, staring full on at the bloody wound upon his forehead, which was spattered with fresh blood. Charlie’s brown eyes were wide open, his lips parted slightly to reveal his perfectly straight white teeth.

’23 years old’ she thought. ‘He was only 10 years older than myself.’

“Oh Charlie I’m so, so sorry. I didn’t even know you, yet I feel so much pain in my inner self! I killed you, there’s nothing I can do to ever make this better, no recompense I can give. What will become of me? I’m not a murderer, I can at least promise you that. I just hope that God has mercy on me when it is judgment day.”

Eliza reached out her hand, grasping his pale one in hers. It was not a worker’s hand, he was perhaps a scholar, she thought. She stroked his slim fingers.

Charlie, I only hope that you did not suffer greatly.”

 

Eliza sat in the chilly spring air for over two hours, with Charlie’s stone cold hand still pillowed in her lap. Eventually the sound of voices came into earshot, the heavy clattering of footsteps nearing. Eliza trembled as three middle-aged men surrounded her. But where was John?

   “This is all my doing.” Eliza sullenly confessed. “I tossed some stones over the cliff edge a few hours ago, I did not realize that two men were walking in the undergrowth below and- and one hit Charlie and killed him.”

She whispered. The tallest man gazed at them, examining the wound upon Charlie’s forehead.

  “This is a wound of far more impact.”

  “I’m only 13, I don’t understand.” He gazed at Eliza, smiling ever so slightly.

“My dear, you are not to blame for this.”

 “How?”

   “Did you hear anything while you were taking your stroll along the cliff tops, before you threw your rock?”

   “Nothing.” She stated truthfully.

“I suppose the wind might have carried away any trace of the sound.”

  “What?”

The second, smaller man adjusted his braces, rubbing his chin.

“My dear, you are not to blame. Dear God! Where is the other gentleman now, the one who came to fetch us? He said he would not be far behind.”

“Sir, I threw the stone which hit Charlie. The evidence is there as clear as day.”

  “Little girl a more serious weapon caused this young gentleman’s death, a bullet from a sniper. This was no rock.”

Planchette- Part 99


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“Oscar! Stop it!”!

“Stop what?”

“You look like a frightened little rabbit caught in a car headlights! Please try to calm down.”

“Sorry if you feel that way, but I can’t help being so nervous.”

“I know.”

“Maybe I’ll need to have further tests?”

“Perhaps Oscar, but for now please stop stressing!”

“Stop telling me what to do! How do you know how I’m even feeling Ava? I just want to get this over with. You shouldn’t be coming to this appointment with me! It isn’t fair on you or our unborn baby.”

“It wont make any difference!”

“What happens if you get stressed again, we can’t have you going into labour not yet. Sometimes I really worry about you. I worry a lot.”

“Worry?” Ava scoffed “Since when do you worry about me?”

“You don’t even seem interested anymore about your own pregnancy.”

“Oh please explain this one to me Oscar!”

“Oh I shall! For example, when do you ever take the time to do any research or attend mother and baby classes? I suggested it months ago but you completely ignored me! I don’t think you care, not really.”

“What?”

“Ava this is your first pregnancy, surely you should be reading up on the subject. I-I mean I have!”

“What precisely have you been reading we don’t own any books!”

“Yes but the library stock them, unlike you I am researching!”

“Well that’s great, I’m really happy for you Oscar, what do you want a medal or a little silver star?”

Oscar narrowed his eyes. “You’re mocking me!”

“Whatever. I don’t need to read baby books, it will come more naturally to me anyway! I’m the Mother afterall!”

“You should be reading!”

“Oh I do read! Just not sodding baby books! I’m going to have baby stuff up to my ears when it’s born but now, well, I’d quite like to enjoy my life and a bit of freedom. Oh no wait, someone else is already taking that away from me!”

“You’re actually unbelievable sometimes Ava!”

“Just get out of the God damn car Oscar!”

“I will when you calm down and stop blaspheming! Cool it! You can’t go around blaming me for making you stressed, when you bring it unsessecerily upon yourself. Don’t pull that face, you know exactly what I mean!”

“Oh shush! Do you know where you’re going, can you make it?”

“Yes and yes Ava!”

“Good, okay. Who is it that you’re seeing?”

“Urm Doctor Cassidy, you know like the singer.”

“You’ve lost me Oscar.”

“You know, Eva Cassidy and David Cassidy.”

“Oh.”

“Never mind.”

Ava tutted, shaking her head.

“I like that top Ava, the royal blue really suits you. It brings out your lovely complexion.”

“Oh you noticed. It’s one of my new maternity ones.”

“It’s pretty. It’s this way Ava, to the reception I mean.” He gently grasped Ava’s hand, leading the way.

“Urgh! Your hand is really clammy.”

“Sorry, it must be down to nerves or a hot flush I guess!”

“Do you have your appointment card? I’m not going all the way back.”

“Why do you doubt me so much. I have it here, see?”

He gazed at the familiar receptionist, handing her his appointment card. “Thank you, have a seat. He wont be long.”

Oscar nodded. “Thanks.”

“How do you feel Oscar?”

“I have butterflies. Yeah I’m not going to lie, I’m extremely nervous.”

“Oscar Setterfield?”

“L-lets go in.”

A white faced Oscar entered the doctors surgery eying the one chair which sat in the corner. He helped Ava to be seated. The health care assistant smiled.

“I’ll go and get you another chair.”

“Thanks.”

She returned swiftly and Oscar gratefully sat down upon the hard plastic chair.

“Hello Oscar, how have you been since the bone marrow aspiration?”

“Erm a bit achy and tired most of the time actually. I’ve been in quite a bit of pain, I could possibly do with better painkillers to tell you the truth.”

“What have you been taking?”

“Ibrupofen and paracetamol.”

“Ah, yes you’ll need something stronger. Now then,with your bone marrow biopsy results well, we found a vast number of unhealthy white blood cells, more than we’d usually expect.”

Oscar swallowed. “Oh God!”

I’m really sorry, there’s no easy way of saying this, you do have Acute Leukaemia.”

Oscar closed his eyes, placing his head in his hands.

“We will start to treat you right away with chemotherapy.”

“Is chemotherapy the only option?”

“There are others but chemotherapy is the most efficient.”

“How- how does it work?”

“There are different ways in which you can receive it. Orally in a pill form, into the spinal fluid or though a thin flexible tube inserted into the upper chest. Chemotherapy is usually given in cycles. Each cycle has a treatment period followed by a rest period.You may have your treatment here, but depending on how you react, some people may need to stay in the hospital for treatment.”

“What about side effects?”

“The side effects depend mainly on which drugs are given and how much. Chemotherapy kills fast-growing leukemia cells, but the drug can also harm normal cells that divide rapidly. It does effect blood cells, making you more at risk to infections. You’ve probably already noticed that you bruise more easily.”

“Yeah, I do. Will I lose my hair?”

“It is very common, but it will grow back.”

“What other problems could it cause?”

“Chemotherapy may damage sperm cells, you may feel very nauseous and suffer from muscle cramps.”

“It can’t be that different to what you’re already experiencing Oscar!” Ava piped in.

Oscar nodded. “W-when do I start treatment?”

“We’ll start you on a course of chemotherapy straight away.”

“How, how can you be so calm Oscar? What about me and our baby?” Ava gasped.

Oscar wiped away a tiny, forming tear. “I have no choice Ava. I can either fight this or give in. I choose to fight, it’s as simple as that really.”

To be continued….

Planchette- Part 98


Oscar’s phone vibrated loudly against the cheap, wooden bedside table. He groaned, reaching out and grasping it.

“Hello?”

“Hello is that Oscar?”

“Yes.”

“It’s Doctor Cassidy from the hospital.”

Oscar abruptly roused to full consciousness, swinging his legs out of the bed and perching himself on the very edge.

“You- you have my bone marrow biopsy results don’t you?”

“Yes.”

“God, quicker than I expected! Can- can you tell me them now?”

“Like I said previously, I very rarely give people their results over the phone. But we’d like you to come in at 9.45am, sorry that it’s such short notice.”

‘What time was it now?’ Oscar glanced at the bedside clock. ‘8.45am’

“Okay.” He sighed. “Erm thank you.”

“We always advise bringing someone with you.”

“Alright. Thanks.”

Ava, where was Ava? But then Oscar recalled his promise to himself, one which he intended to keep. He couldn’t possibly force all this stress upon her. Oscar showered and dressed rapidly. Oscar entered the living room where Ava sat curled upon the sofa like a cat, with a bowl of coco-pops in one hand.

“ Ava I need to shoot off to the hospital soon.”

“Why?”

“My-my bone marrow biopsy results are back.”

“Oh that was quick. What time do you need to go?”

“Ah hour.”

“I really want to come with you Oscar.”

“I-I’m not sure. What happened if you get stomach tightenings again?”

“Then I’ll just have to take it easy for a few days afterwards, someone should be there with you.”

“My doctor did advise that someone accompanied me. Have you had a change of heart? I mean erm oh shit.”

What’s that supposed to mean! This could be serious couldn’t it! I mean, the fact that they wanted to do the bone marrow aspiration in the first place surely that gives you a subtle clue. You’re still in denial Oscar!”

“No I’m not! It’s just hard that’s all.”

“I know. Do you want a drink before we go? You really should eat something, you can’t live off plain rice cakes and crackers!”

“At the moment I have no choice. Can I just have a glass of water please?”

“Fine.”

“Sorry.”

“No, it’s alright, just take a cereal bar or something with you. You look really pale, like you could almost do with some fresh air.”

“Perhaps.”

“Here’s your water. You know what I’m still really hungry, I’m going to put on some toast for myself. Want some?”

“No thanks Ava.”

“Do you have to be so awkward?!”

“I’m just not hungry, my stomach is churning.”

“Oh Oscar, it’s probably just nerves. I wouldn’t worry.”

“Yes, but it’s not your health is it!”

“Stop being so selfish!”

“Pot calling the kettle black.” Oscar mumbled.

“What was that?!” Ava snapped. “You have a bloody cheek Oscar Setterfield! You really do, you’re such a hypocrite. You should get it tattooed upon your forehead.”

“Oh Ava, why do you always have to go a step further and get all personal. Let’s go shall we?”

“I’m not very happy at the fact that you haven’t eaten anything!”

Oscar sighed, pulling on his jacket, his hands trembling as he fastened the zip. “I don’t have the energy to argue anymore, I’m sorry if you think I was being selfish, let’s just leave it at that shall we? I’ll take a cereal bar with me.”

“Just get into the car.”

Oscar obeyed, gently opening the passenger side door, dreading having to experience Ava’s slightly erratic driving. He gazed out of the window, focusing on the shapes of the clouds as a distraction.

“Ava, can you slow down a tad please?”

“Is there anything you want to criticize about me?”

“N-no I’m just feeling a little fragile and plus I don’t want you go get a speeding ticket, seeing as though it is my car and you’re not a named driver!”

“Shhh!”

Oscar rolled his eyes and shook his head rolling down his passenger window so that he might receive the benefit of the breeze upon his face.

“Do you really have to open the window?”

“Yeah!”

“Are you not feeling so well?”

“I feel pretty sick actually. Please just relax your foot a bit on the pedal, look there’s a speed camera coming up.”

“You are the worst backseat driver ever!”

“I know, I’m sorry. I-I’m just very nervous.”

“I know you are but please don’t take it out on me Oscar !” Oscar nodded, yet said nothing, his tired eyes filling with hot, salty tears.

To be continued…..

Planchette- part 97


Oscar guiltily grabbed a towel and headed into the bathroom. He opened the small window and pulled the blinds to. Oscar stood under the lukewarm water, attempting to cool his skin. What was with Ava? She was so techy all of the time. ‘Hormones’ Oscar thought. ‘Get a grip and stop taking everything in life to heart’ He washed and dried himself and crept into his own bedroom, it just wouldn’t do to wake poor Ava again. Oscar groaned as he noticed another large bruise upon his left ankle. ‘How did that happen?’ he cursed, sitting himself on his bed and taking off his tracksuit bottoms, still wearing his boxers. It was too hot to even think about clothes. He pulled his duvet away from the bed and covered himself with a single sheet, falling into an exhausted sleep.

**

Nausea, that horrible sensation within his stomach. Oscar sat bolt upright in bed staring around the darkened room. He rubbed his stomach, feeling his scorching forehead. He glanced at the discarded sheet upon the floor. As Oscar wretched, he placed a hand to his mouth and darted into the bathroom, vomiting into the toilet. Hazy eyed, he crawled over to the bath and rested his cheek upon the cool porcelain edge, his breathing shallow. He heard the gently pitter patter of footsteps and felt a hand upon his back.

“Oscar.”

“Ava, I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine, you can’t help it, here wipe your face.”

She handed Oscar a damp flannel which Oscar received gratefully. “Thanks.” He whispered.

“Can- can you stand?”

“I’ll just be a minute, don’t worry Ava you can go back to bed.”

“I’m not leaving you, I’m awake now, so…”

“Okay.”

“Oscar I’ll get you some water. Just stay there and please don’t try and get up, you’ve turned a horrible colour, how do you feel?”

“Groggy and really overheated.”

“Do you feel like you’re going to throw up again?”

“No.”

“Good. Now, come back to bed. I feel wide awake now, I don’t reckon I’ll be able to get back to sleep, but that doesn’t matter.”

“I feel guilty. How’s the baby?”

“Fine, it was kicking away again earlier.”

“That’s great.”

“Not really, not for me. You have no idea how annoying it is!”

“Don’t say that!”

What?”

“Just be careful what you say Ava! Don’t jinx us. We want this baby to be a healthy one.”

“Oh stop being so sensitive Oscar. Honestly!”

“It’s only because I care about you and our child.”

“Whatever. I’m not convinced.”

“For God’s sake Ava! Can you stop being so techy for once?! You need to cool down.”

“I’m not the one burning up in the middle of the night.”

“You know that I didn’t mean it literally! I mean, can we actually just go for a day without having an argument. Things could be worse, much worse!”

“I don’t think so. You should try being pregnant,  it’s not easy you know!”

“Oh well, just you wait until our child comes. We wont know what has hit us believe me!”

“More like I wont know what has hit me! I’m fully prepared for the fact that I’m going to have to do everything!”

“Oh Ava who says you are? I’ll do my even, fair share!”

“No you wont. Oscar I’m watching you get sicker every day!”

“That’s rubbish. I’ve had more energy over the last week or so.”

“Yes but you look weary!”

“Oh, so you keep saying. Repeating yourself doesn’t solve anything. I’m doing everything I can, it’s out of our hands for the time being, well until the doctor phones at least.”

“Okay, come on you! Bed! Now! Do you want a drink or something to settle your stomach?”

“Just a glass of water please. Shall I sleep in my own bed?

“No, there’s no need. Where were you last night?”

“I already said, at the library. I was just doing a bit of research.”

“On what?”

“Babies and such things.” It was half the truth at least, as he had picked up half a dozen parenting books from that section of the library.

“Fair enough, still you shouldn’t be staying up too late.”

“I wont in future, sorry Ava. Try to get some more sleep. Night, or should I say morning?!”

 

To be continued…..

Planchette-Part 96


“He was difficult to live with wasn’t he?”

“You can say that again. My Dad Lee was angry and violent. I think if I ever saw him in the street I’d run a mile.”

“Where is he now?”

“I have no idea whatsoever. I lost contact with him a good few years ago.”

“I see. Whose choice was that?”

“It was mutual I guess, probably for the best. I don’t know.”

“Don’t you think that he might like to meet his Grandchild?”

“Probably not, he’ll be too off his face to even care.”

“How do you know until you try Oscar. Do you have a phone number or an address for him?”

“Not anymore, but I think Mum will.”

“If I were you, I’d ask her tomorrow.”

“I’m not so sure, but thank you anyway.”

“Give it a go Oscar, but first go home and rest. You need plenty of sleep and keep drinking lots of water.”

“I will.”

“This- this might sound strange, can I give you a hug? I think you need one.”

Oscar smiled softly, placing his arms around May, who reciprocated the hug. “I can’t thank you enough May.”

“I dare say we’ll meet again Oscar, but until then, I wish you all the best.”

Oscar wiped his nose and watched May as she toddled out of the library. She must live near by, Oscar thought. He grabbed the notebook from his pocket, scribbling down all the details of the reading. Oscar zipped up his coat and exited the library. It was colder outside than he had initially anticipated and Oscar dreaded the walk back to the house. He wondered whether Ava would be asleep yet, he hoped so as the last thing that he wished to give her was an explanation. He turned the key in the lock. All the downstairs lights were off. Not feeling at all hungry, he poured himself a glass of cold water and crept up the staircase. Much to his relief, Ava’s light was off in her bedroom. She must have had an early night after all. Oscar showered and brushed his teeth quickly, pulling on a T-shirt and track suit bottoms and slid silently into bed beside Ava. She stirred gently.

“Hmm you’re back.”

“Yeah. How are you?”

“I had a bath and got into bed early like you suggested, but you’ve just woken me!”

“Sorry Ava. Go back to sleep.”

“You’re freezing.” She mumbled.

“I’ll soon warm up. Shut your eyes.”

“Get much work done?”

“Erm yes lots.” Oscar’s stomach fluttered, he despised lying. ‘Ava will think I’ve gone mad’ he thought.

“Great. Night Oscar.”

“G-goodnight Ava.”

Oscar lay awake, staring at the shadow of the hanging light upon the ceiling,mulling in his thoughts. Ava gently snuggled into him, as she did so he placed his hands softly upon her stomach.

“Hello little one.” He whispered. “It’s Daddy again. Daddy spoke to a lady today and she was right. You already mean the world to me. Is that your little hand? I think it is! I can’t wait to meet you, but please don’t come to early. We need you to be healthy and strong to face the big wide world. I love you already. I’m tired now, goodnight.”

Oscar placed his arms around Ava’s waist and fell into a deep slumber.

***

“Oscar!”

“Hmmm w-what!”

“ You’ve just woken me again! You’re boiling hot! Where have all these hot flushes come from? For God’s sake!”

“Well if I do have Leukemia that will be the cause!” Oscar groaned.

“It doesn’t help that you’re clinging on to me! Were you talking in your sleep last night?!”

“Erm no, I was talking to our baby!”

“What’s the point? It isn’t even born yet!”

“Well I see a need for it!”

“Whatever. Go and cool yourself down somewhere. Have a cold shower or something it’s 3am for God’s sake!”

“Sorry Ava, I really didn’t mean to disturb you.”

“Well, next time you feel the urge to talk loudly to yourself, please can you just stop.”

“No I wont just stop doing anything! You should be doing the same!”

“Go and have your shower, don’t be long the pipes are so noisy!”

“I wont I promise! See you in the morning.”

“It is the morning! Now scoot!”

To be continued….