Out of Time

A Story by La Mouche

Here we were asked to write a short story about symbolism, and life and death, and I remembered this dream I had about terraced houses, and pools of light and rust, and doors...

There was no time to fret: Cisca had one last thing to do before the end. She would have liked the chance to swim naked in the thermal pools of Reykjavik with her new boyfriend; to have finished her Visual Arts degree, not because of the promise made to her mother but because she really enjoyed it, whilst it lasted; to have kissed more men - and women, why not; soft and chastely on the lips, or with tongue, wet in the excitement of passion. Well, now it was too late for all that. For this last thing, though, she was going to make the time. She was going to choose, for once, all by herself. 
     It was a wet, cold evening in March. From the bus, Cisca gazed at people outside going places; blurry, shapeless grey smudges through rained-on glass and speed. What grudges would they hold, she wondered, if suddenly they were told they had ran out of time? Would they stay calm or freak out? Would they tell or spare their relatives? Would they blame God, or themselves, or others? Riding with her, to her right, an old man asleep under a woolly hat, snored away, lulled by the under-seat heating, the motion, and the gentle roaring of the bus engine. Disgusting. They stopped at traffic lights. Her eyes returned to the outside and met a man’s waiting to cross. He smiled, waved an arm. On the other, he carried shopping bags; one from Toys ‘R’ Us. Cisca rushed a half smile and looked away, pulling the rim of her skirt down with her pale, withered hands. Damned happy people! They are everywhere!
     A good hour later, she got off at the last stop. She ran up a narrow lane, lined with sycamores. At the end of the lane, an even narrower path led to a number of terraced houses. Cisca stopped there, breathed in and out, unsure. She felt a sudden urge to turn around and go home. Go home and lie in her bed until the moment came. She was only thirty. She was only a woman. She was only human. The pain sprang out of her in waves, enveloping and numbing, gnawing at her insides, exhausting. And those who love her, her mum, dad, Christine, her friends; she pictured them saddening and waiting God knows how long, to then sadden even more.
     She passed one, two, three, four, five, and six houses. Outside the seventh and last house, Cisca stood; her limbs shaking. The front gate was sanguine with rust; the façade was a mucky white. She pushed the gate open and went through, rubbing the red off her hands onto her coat. It was so quiet. The air was so crispy. Cisca flicked a lock of hair from her eyes. This is it, she said, I am early for once. She walked to the front door, and knocked on the tainted glass pane. A misty, white light was turned on inside. The door opened so slowly that she grew impatient. When she finally stepped into the pool of light, out to greet her came the fresh smell of steaming geysers, and oil on canvas, and her boyfriend’s minty breath.

The End

The Day The Thought Struck

A Story by La Mouche
I was walking through Northumberland Boulevard with Helen when the thought struck me. It was a rainy Saturday morning and we had just had a lovely breakfast at the M&S Kitchen. “Don’t think about it just now,” she said, leading me into Thornton’s. “You don’t look it anyway.” But I went on, “I am going to be forty in three years…” Helen walked in her usual cheery way to the back of the shop and reached for a marzipan cake. I followed behind. “My nan likes this,” she said handing a tenner to the lady behind the counter. I smiled, then the thought returned to envelope me again like a cocoon. “Three years,” I mumbled. “What?” asked Helen; her eyes fixed on the lady’s hands, which were skilfully wrapping up the marzipan cake in rich burgundy paper. “Three years,” I carried on gloomily, whilst Helen took the marzipan cake and placed it in her handbag saying, “My nan is certainly going to love this!”

We left Thornton’s and made our way to the City Library for our writing group. We were late, as usual, but also as usual, the first to arrive. Sean joined us a few minutes later. “It looks like it is just the three of us today,” he said. “Yep,” Helen replied. In the next ten minutes, we talked about a lot of things; so many I cannot recall them. And we talked about birthdays; of course, because it had recently been Helen’s, and her boyfriend Chris had got her the mini laptop she wanted. So it was suggested, when the moment to choose a theme for the writing exercise came, that birthdays was the theme, that the maximum number of words were 750 and that we had twenty minutes. I took on the task straight away, not without a sunken heart. Oh well, at least I knew exactly what my story was going to be about. It took me ten minutes to write it and the number of words was 345, counting those in the title.
The End