Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Secrets and Burdens

“You want another job, Louise?” Gwen takes silence for assent. “Two brothers,” she explains. “Malcolm writes text books or something at home; George is helpless, spastic they used to call it. Anyway there’s two days when he doesn’t go to the day centre.”

Louise nods absently, letting the healing power flow into Gwen’s shoulder as she relives yesterday’s nightmare in the café; dreamy Chelsee, so absorbed in the scarlet flow, obediently standing still while pandemonium reigns.

I’ve been almost happy, Louise screams inwardly now, I won’t get involved. But it was too late, the message, the entreaty, in those pale eyes, the colour of seawater on a wet day, compelled her, so later that evening she’d slipped in to see Chelsee in hospital.

Neither spoke a word. Chelsee trembled, staring, at her visitor. Louise, hating Chelsee, hating herself, hating most of all what was unknowingly asked of her, reached out reluctant questing fingers to the bandaged arm. It happened at once – sometimes there was nothing but today the warmth flowed out of her and into the damaged girl. She took Chelsee’s hands in her own and felt great surges of power drain from her, like nothing she had ever experienced before, leaching from her till she almost fainted.

Chelsee relaxed, eyes half-closed, her breathing regular but Louise knew the girl was greedily sucking the strength from her. What was different this time? Why so needy? Louise shook off her weakness and centred herself until intuition found what she sought.

Chelsee’s eyes snapped open and Louise stared down at the bony body with its slight tell-tale mound just visible under the blue bedspread.

Her intuition was never wrong.

“So you’ll go then?” Gwen speaks sharply, twisting under the competent hands so Louise has to break off and stare blankly. “To see Malcolm,” Gwen sounds exasperated. “Get a grip, girl. I told him you’d call in today on your way home.”

“Fine.” Louise writes down the address, conscious all the while of the shrewd blue gaze..

Gwen stops bristling and pats her hand. “I saw him too, you know; on the News, night before last,” She twinkles as she scores a hit. “I knew you’d be at your wits’ end. Oh yes, booked to work his magic on the Welsh in the Millennium Stadium, God help us all.”

Louise had almost forgotten about him, with all this on her plate, but she shivers now. No need to pretend with Gwen thank God.

“Clever idea though,” Gwen smiles. “Where better than Wales to hide a girl called Jones? Not Louise though, surely?”

“My middle name,” she says absently, then looks down into the wise, kind eyes. “Oh Gwen,” she whispers. “Something terrible has happened, but I really couldn’t help it.”

Nicola Slade


Anonymous said...

I think Chelsee's going to have a lot of explaining to do soon isn't she?

I like the way Nicola's pieces interlink with Lindas' and look forward to reading many more.

Your friend


Nicola Slade said...

That's very kind, Annie. So far Linda and I have managed not to tread on each other's toes with this unexpected character overlap - let's hope we can maintain that harmony!


Anonymous said...

Thanks AW. I thought the basic idea of the collaboration was to have a network of interlinking stories, which is why I pinched Chelsee from Nicola in the first place. I know Nicola hadn't named her, but she had mentioned the girl in the coffee shop, and as soon as I read Nicola's piece, I knew exactly who Chelsee was.

Chelsee is not going to be explaining things to people, she's enjoying her little secret far too much. But I can imagine the gossip and scandal might be rather interesting. I mean... who's the daddy?

Word verification "intinsie" which must meansecretive and manipulative behaviour. How apt.


Eric said...

I haven't kept up with any previous parts of this story, but what's here is really well written. Good job.

Douglas Bruton said...

We seem to be stalled at the moment. Is Greyling Bay still on the map? Still open for business? Or have all the writers taken their pens and notebooks and gone to other beaches?

I check in here daily... to see the thing unfolding. It appears to be snagged on something and not to be doing anything.

Just wondering, is all.


Nicola Slade said...

Aw shucks, and here was me thinking Jane was just leaving my purple prose up so the passing multitudes could admire it!

I imagine the prosaic truth, Douglas, is that she's very busy at the moment; I'm sure she'll stick something else up soon for us all to enjoy.