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Elsa May Green. Chapters ninteen, twenty, and twenty-one.

by Peter Culbert 7 months ago in Love

A twisted tale of want.

Elsa May Green. Chapters ninteen, twenty, and twenty-one.
Photo by Vladimir Yelizarov on Unsplash

Chapter nineteen.

September 24th, 2007.

I awoke that morning with purpose, one matter on my mind and that only. Swiftly turning the pages on my address book, I found his name, Doctor Michael Hayes. He had been my psychiatrist in the past and I needed to speak to him again before it was too late. Picking up the telephone in the hallway, I dialled the number. I knew I was meeting the gang at The Welcombe Hills for our yearly half-hearted walk and drunken picnic, but right now I had more pressing issues to deal with.

‘Please pick up, please pick up,’ I mumbled to myself.

‘Doctor Hayes,’ said a voice on the other end of the line. It startled me for a moment, expecting that I would speak to a moody receptionist first.

‘Doctor Hayes, it’s Tom Jarvis, you probably don’t remember me?'

‘Hello Thomas, I remember you, how can I help?’

The words I conveyed in the next few minutes determined whether I found myself locked away in a straightjacket for the rest of my life or rescued from my torrid mind, but I knew I needed to utter them. I had to open to him like I did as a teenager; he was my only saviour.

‘I am not sure how to say this Doctor Hayes, I have been experiencing dark moments in my life again. Seeing shadows, hearing voices, frightening episodes that seem to get more frequent, blacker, and scarier each time. I guess I just need some help, I don’t know what to do anymore,’ I replied nervously, expecting the worst.

‘Okay, I see, well I could you see you at eleven today if that’s any good to you?’

‘Yes, yes, that would be fabulous, I will see you then and thank you.'

A river of calm washed over me, knowing Doctor Hayes might help rid me of the presence that had followed me for so long. I spent the two hours prior trying to relax, but I felt nervous about what he may say. I was a lunatic, or being stalked by a demon, saying the latter sounds mad, so I prayed for the former. The meeting with him would decide whether I would be free to walk outdoors again unattended, and that thought left me petrified.

The time on the clock in my kitchen heralded my need to get dressed and challenge my demons as I trudged into the bathroom for a shower. The steam from the water wrapped my broken frame in a warm embrace as I stared into the distance. I was aware my visit to the doctor would be a stressful event, but I also recognized that I could no longer carry on, it was my opportunity to face the truth.

I headed out of the shower and into the reflection of the mirror. A searing heat was burning at my neck as I ran my fingers across my jaw. My skin sore, the reality of last night’s dark events showed themselves to me as the foggy air diluted. A scar around four inches long was now prevalent, I felt certain that the scars appearing on my body appeared because of what was happening to me. I was battered and beaten, but I knew today could be a day of hope and perhaps even transition to a new dawn. I just needed help to exorcise the demon from my life. I applied antiseptic cream to the wound, slipped into my clothes, picked up my keys, and closed the front door behind me.

The air was warm and inviting as I trudged down the road, passed the King’s Head, up Jury street toward the surgery. I felt anxious and desperate simultaneously as I entered, giving my name to the receptionist before taking a seat and perusing a copy of Perfect Home. The room was white, without colour, clinical, and soulless. This only added to my fear. Not the most welcoming place for those who sought refuge from their minds.

‘Mr. Jarvis, Doctor Hayes will see you now,’ announced the burly receptionist over her spectacles. I could feel her studying me, making a diagnosis as I entered the room bearing his name.

Doctor Hayes was renowned in the town, his excellent reputation preceded him. However, there was talk a moment in his past haunted him. It is said he had failed to save one of his patients, and he carried her name with him like an anchor. Fortunately for me, he came to my rescue when I was sixteen years old, without him I do not think I would have made it to this day.

‘Come in Thomas, good to see you again. I just wish it was under better circumstances!’ he said, shaking my hand.

I placed myself before him; I didn’t know what would happen; I recognised I may not get out of there, but I felt desperate and now was the time, no matter what.

‘Thank you for seeing me so promptly, it’s good of you,’ I said fiddling with the wristwatch my dad had bequeathed me.

He smiled what looked like a knowing smile. I wondered if perhaps after the phone call he had already made his diagnosis and it was straight off to the county mental institute for me. Whatever would be, would be, I was ready for anything that could help.

‘It surprised me to hear from you this morning Thomas, you mentioned earlier you had been experiencing moments of darkness, tell me in your own words what you mean,’

I spent an hour laying my cards on the table while he listened to me patiently. I spoke about Nicole and what Aunt Mary had done; I recalled my parents and the life path they chose and the feelings and thoughts that were ever-present in my mind. I explained my recent bout of dark encounters which were becoming more increasingly frequent.

He would nod now and again just to let me know he hadn’t fallen asleep. Eventually, the final syllable, the last vowel, and the ultimate consonant fell from my mouth and lay before him for examination. Void of vocabulary, I awaited his prognosis.

He paused, put his pen and notebook on the table.

‘Tom it seems to me these episodes you are experiencing are psychotic and often heightened by anxiety, this is not unusual. Stress can be a trigger. By the look of things, you are going through a tough time now. Perhaps the realisation you have a sister who by your admission had remained secret from you because of the actions of your aunt triggered them, or at least some of them. It also sounds like you still struggle with the loss of your mother and now your father, which is understandable.'

'I have known you for many years, Thomas, and I know you had a lot to deal with in your life, more than most I would say. Can I be frank, I think you are dealing with it all pretty admirably but as a precautionary measure, I would like to refer you to see Edward Stanton- Alexander at the hospital who is a friend of mine. I will ask him to talk with you and perhaps run through a series of tasks and tests to determine the nature of the problem. How does that sound with you?’

To be honest, his words left me relieved. He hadn’t locked me in a mental hospital and thrown away the key; he listened and offered support and advice, which I needed so badly.

‘Yes, that would be great, Thank you so much!’ I replied.

I left the surgery in a positive and hopeful mood and headed toward my apartment to get changed into my walking boots before meeting the clan at the hills. Arriving back, I spotted my answering machine flashing and pressed the button on it.

‘Good morning mister Jarvis, my name is Ed Stanton-Alexander. I received a call from doctor Hayes and wondered if you would be free tomorrow morning at quarter to nine. If you are, then please call my secretary to arrange.’

I stood in shock at how fast he responded following my earlier visit to the surgery. I could not remember a time when I got an appointment so promptly. Usually, it took weeks, what with demand. So, seeing two in the space of twenty-four hours seemed almost unreal. Perhaps my psychotic episodes as Doctor Hayes mentioned were worse than I had imagined, and it would be the next shrink awaiting me with the straitjacket in hand. The thought did not deter; I needed help and the path I took would lead to my salvation; I felt sure of it.

I picked up the telephone and made an appointment with his secretary.

'Okay, that is the appointment sorted out, time to sort me out!’ I exclaimed.

Changing out of my shirt and tie that I had deemed fit for my meeting with Doctor Hayes. I pulled a top over my head.

I flailed my arms in the dark recesses of my wardrobe; I dragged out my old clay encrusted walking boots and headed into the kitchen. I needed to find the specially designed instrument that would remove the thick chunks of dried mud from the sole of them. I opened the drawer and picked up a butter knife before scraping away at the muddy memories of the walk from the year before, before lifting my rucksack that sat next to the fridge and heading back into the bedroom.

‘Walking boots’ check, ripped jeans’ check, crumpled t-shirt, check, Sunglasses, a six-pack of beer and wine, check!’

I was ready; I knew this afternoon promised to be yet another serious drinking session as always on the day before my birthday, as I presented myself to the sunshine and headed down the steps and onto the main road. I felt happy; convinced that tomorrow would be the first step in controlling the haunting episodes and with this newfound sense of positivity; I perceived that today was going to be fantastic.

I could see Michael, Ruben, and Elsa waiting at the style, which is where we always met. She looked divine in her boots and yellow-flowered gypsy dress, her sumptuous locks trailing her shoulders like silk scarves, her legs sculpted and bronzed. She encapsulated summer right there and then, and I wanted to picnic inside of her.

‘Good morning Thomas, it is seven minutes after twelve you are late,’ she said looking at her watch and giggling.

‘Good morning Elsa, yes sorry about that, I had a little business to take care of!’

‘Cut yourself shaving?’ asked Michael, pointing to the wound on my neck.

‘Not sure to be honest, it just appeared this morning!’

'Morning Rube, where is Gabe? I asked.

‘No idea, he wasn’t at his house when I knocked this morning, moreover the curtains closed, which is unusual for him, day or night!’ exclaimed Ruben.

‘I have called his mobile phone but all I get is a dead tone!’ said Michael.

Something didn’t feel right about this. We repeatedly greeted each other at the spot at five minutes past twelve, which signified the commencement of the climb. Gabriel was consistently the first here and would check the time we all arrived. The fact he wasn’t here at all was unusual. I could only imagine he had found a woman and spent the night with her and would turn up eventually with his tail between his legs.

‘Look if he gets his butt out of bed, he can catch us up!’ snapped Ruben, clearly annoyed by his brother's no show.

‘Yes, come on, we have a mountain to climb!’ hailed Michael.

We embarked on our journey down a dusty track that leads to the foot of the hill and the beginning of our ascent. The day could not have been any better for the climb as the sun shone. Elsa was walking a few yards ahead of us picking daisies as she went, she looked like an innocent little girl in a fairy tale. The scent of the rich flower-laden entered my being and expelled in me a moment of sheer contentment and happiness as I walked with them, and yet my mind was still on Gabriel.

‘I hope someone brought beer or even better wine!’ said Michael, struggling with the craggy stones on the trail.

‘I have beers and I have wine too!’ I replied.

‘Three bottles of the finest French grape over here!’ exclaimed Ruben.

The trail was steep, but it would not beat us; we were older, none the wiser, but more determined to make it to the top. Age was a mere number; it did not define and would never stop us; it was merely a numerical badge attached to our shirts. It was bloody steep though; I could feel my heart beating rapidly as we ascended. What seemed like an eternity later, we reached the peak, once again, we had conquered the infamous climb for another year.

A sense of overpowering sadness upon reaching the top of the hill met me. The ache of pain and sadness drowned my senses for a moment as I stood there staring into the horizon. I did not understand why I felt the way I did; I had never experienced such misery before on top of this hill.

‘What is happening to me?’ I thought, trying to hide my state from my friends.

Whatever was happening disappeared as quickly as it came, leaving me emotional and relieved.

‘Bloody hell, it seems taller this year!’ puffed Michael, collapsing to the ground.

‘My feet are killing me!’ exclaimed Ruben, perching himself on a mound.

Elsa played mother, flicking out a blanket between the daisies that laden the top of the hill before reaching into her hamper and placing its contents on the surface. I watched her in complete admiration and studied her offerings. There was everything four intrepid mountaineers could wish for from her famous cheese sandwiches to pork pies, wine, crisps, and fruit. We would dine like Kings today.

‘Come on boys, sit down’ order Elsa politely, as she rested herself gently on one corner of the blanket, pushing her summer dress between her thighs. She could eclipse the sun, she looked magnificent, a goddess. I wanted to march over and take her into my arms and maul every inch of her right there and then with my mouth.

‘Who’s for a drink?’ I asked, pulling on the ring pull of a beer can, gently placing myself onto the blanket next to her. The lager was still cold and tasted heavenly against my parched throat. We all raised our cans of amber nectar in triumph, having once again conquered the climb.

‘I am worried about Gabe. What if something has happened to him!’ said Elsa, with a look of loss in her eyes, like she had lost one of her flock.

‘I’m not, he can be a right pain in the arse!’ announced Ruben offering his voice of brotherly love.

‘He’s always been here to conquer the mountain Rube and I won’t have you say a nasty word about him!’ said Elsa sharply, hushing him.

‘I would not worry about him, when we left the pub last night, he was talking to that woman who works at Jackson’s boatyard. You know the one, the blonde with the dodgy eye!’ said Michael.

‘You mean lazy eye, don’t you, Michael?’ asked Elsa firmly, shaking her head.

Elsa would hold us accountable if we traduced somebody unless they deserved it. She experienced a barrage of taunts and abuse in the past and it hurt her, and she was adamant that sarcasm about another’s appearance, disability or the like was not the correct way to behave. Most of the time we acted in a manner that befitted her wishes.

‘Ah yes I thought he seemed distracted last night the dirty stop out,’ I said giggling under my breath.

‘Do you remember when we used to come here as children?’ asked Michael, who looked distant, reflective almost.

‘Oh, my word the Kites!’ laughed Elsa, bringing back a flood of memories for me and my infamous kite.

‘I remember your kite Elsa, it was pink, and you named it the fairy Elf!’ I said chuckling to myself.

‘Oh, my word, that was it, the fairy elf, how in the heck can you remember Thomas, I had completely forgotten about it,’ she said.

But I remembered, I could visualise everything about her from the clothes she wore to the way she tied her hair into a ponytail, to the little blue dungarees and yellow wellingtons on her feet when we came here as children. There wasn’t a single memory I had forgotten, I locked them in my heart and would shine like a beacon to guide me to happiness on the bleakest of days.

‘Not sure to be honest, Elsa, it just popped into my head!’

‘I remember you and Gabe had that enormous grey kite Ruben, didn’t you name it the deadly destroyer or something like that?’ asked Michael chuckling to himself.

‘Demon’ mumbled Ruben embarrassed by Michael’s recollection.

‘That was it, the demon destroyer!’ bellowed Michael.

‘What was yours named Thomas?’ asked Michael.

‘Ah, I forget, it was so long ago’ I replied, knowing full well what I named it.

‘Come on, Tom, I am sure you can remember!’ giggled Michael, rubbing his hands in anticipation of my words.

‘Didn’t you name it princess Elsa?’ asked Ruben.

I looked over at Elsa who was bowing her head, either in embarrassment or to hide the giggles. Either way, I sat there mortified.

‘Ah yes, that was it, anyway what are the plans after here?’ I asked, trying to kick the elephant on the rug out of existence and thus save my blushes.

‘Thank you, Thomas’ whispered Elsa as she lifted her head and placed her soft hand on mine.

‘The usual route Tom, here then the Kings followed by Celebrities, it’s tradition!’ replied Michael.

‘Oh god not Celebrities, surely we have outgrown that place!’ I announced.

‘Speak for yourself, Tom mate, celebrities forever,’ hailed Ruben.

Celebrities was the only nightclub in town and a venue we outgrew long ago but always found an excuse to go there every few months. It signalled a flashback to our former years and remained unchanged. The place was a mix of bad chat-up lines, teenage hormones, revolting aftershaves, and floored handbags, but as Michael said a tradition is a tradition, so Celebrities it would be.

‘Sounds like a perfect plan for the day!’ said Elsa as she reclined into the lush grass and inhaled the sunshine.

We spent the afternoon sitting on our mountain top covered in the sunshine, putting the world to rights, Gabriel did not join us that day. I missed him, we all did, and as the minutes turned to hours, it was time to say farewell to the infamous hill for another year and move on to our next haunt, the King’s head. We packed our things and headed back down toward the town.

‘I can’t understand why Gabriel’s phone is dead!’ said Ruben, removing his phone from his ear.

‘He Probably didn’t pay his bill, we all know what he is like with money. He probably spent it on that girl last night instead!’ laughed Michael

‘Yes, Mike you are right, he has always left things like bills to the last minute, I remember him asking me years ago whether council tax applied only to people who worked for the organisation, making the rest of us exempt!’ I chortled.

‘He will be back, trust me, if there is alcohol then Gabe will be there!’ said Ruben confidently.

We headed down the track and up the road to the market square before turning the corner toward the pub. The King’s Head was a ghost town as we entered it apart from a few of the elderly regulars who had taken up residence there for as long as I could remember. Dave appeared his usual grumpy old self, cleaning the optics and muttering.

‘Three bottles of your finest wine barkeep, none of that cheap rubbish you have fobbed us off with for the last god knows how many years!’ announced Michael.

Elsa had already fed the jaws of the jukebox and was busily gyrating her curved form in the pub's corner.

‘There you go Sir Michael, three bottles of my finest wine!’ said Dave, plonking three bottles of the usual battery acid onto the bar.

‘That will be thirty-six pounds’ he said, rubbing his hands and beckoning the sterling.

‘Just thirty-six pounds, an absolute bargain!’ exclaimed Michael sarcastically.

‘You can always prop up the bar at Bertha’s place,’ said Dave, laughing to himself.

‘No thanks Dave, we had the joy of that the other night,’ said Michael.

‘I had fifteen years of her Mike, think yourself lucky.'

‘You could have spent those fifteen years reading books on good wines, Dave,’ said Michael, who was more than Dave’s match in literary sarcasm.

‘They would have been better years spent if I had done that!’ he replied.

I peered over at Elsa. She was gyrating provocatively in the corner, her summer dress licking at the mocha skin on her legs, her hair moving to one side revealing her majestic bone structure. Her lips kissing the air around her as she moved in time to the music. My mind fell back to the moment all those years before at Badger's rest as I admired this beautiful Amazonian goddess twisting and turning slowly next to the jukebox. The afternoon I tasted every drop of her, touched each inch of her. I knew it would never happen again, but it had happened, and I locked it inside me.

'Hey, Rube, should one of us go check Gabriel is ok? Asked Michael, propelling me from my daydream.

‘Yeah, I will pop over and give him a knock, if I have to drag him out of there I will,’ replied Ruben placing his wineglass on the bar.

‘Save a dance for me, Elsa!’ he said as he passed her and headed out onto the street.

‘So, mate, when are you going to make your move?’

‘Huh, make a move, what do you mean Mike?’

‘Come on Tom, it’s obvious how much you like her, you always have, even when we were kids. Don’t regret any more of your decisions mate, life is too short. I promise you that if you express to her how you feel will kick yourself, but I know what I would do!’ Michael said expressively.

‘But the pact, Mike, what about the pact?’

‘Balls to it Tom, you cannot live by a contract we created as kids, you almost lost her to Rube. I know we said the pact is alive but you have to break the rules sometimes and do the right thing!’

I knew Michael spoke the truth; even though the pact was back; I needed to tell her how I felt. I promised myself every year and failed miserably. Perhaps this is the moment to man up and break the rules and utter those three hidden words to her.

Michael’s supportive words of encouragement instilled a sense of confidence in me, but I knew sitting at the bar in the King’s Head surrounded by elderly folk under the glare of Dave was not the right place to lay my soul bare. I wanted the occasion to be special, as unique as our intimate encounter on that beautiful day all those summers ago at Badgers rest. Tomorrow would be the fifteenth anniversary of our first kiss, and I demanded to free myself of the binds holding my heart and voice captive for so long. I needed to lift the curse I had walked with me since we were sixteen years old.

I decided at some point this evening I was going to utter the feeling desperate for freedom from its cage. Tonight, was the night I would give myself to her in body and mind, no matter the consequences.

Chapter Twenty.

Stranger scenarios.

‘What are you two plotting?’ asked Elsa, who had finished dancing and set herself between me and Michael.

‘Oh, just man stuff, you know Elsa, football, women, cars, the usual!’ replied Michael with a wry beam.

‘Sounds riveting Mike. Thomas, are you excited about your big day tomorrow?’ asked Elsa, focusing her attention on me and leaving Michael with his world of man stuff.

‘I am Elsa. I would love to take a boat out on the river. The forecast tomorrow was to be sunny again so it would be a great day to go boating if that’s okay with you all?’

‘It is Thomas, it’s your day, and a day on the boats would be fantastic,’ she replied.

I glanced down at my Dad’s watch; it had been an hour since Ruben left to fetch Gabriel; I knew Gabriel’s house was only ten minutes from the King’s Head, so I would have expected him to be back by now.

‘Hey Mike, could you give Ruben a call, it’s been ages since he went to check on Gabe?’

‘Sure, thing Tom’ replied Michael, rustling through his jacket pocket and pulling out his phone.

‘That’s strange, his phone is dead also.'

‘It can’t be dead, I rang him earlier today, let me ring him!’

‘Yes, you are right Mike, how strange’ said Elsa putting her phone on the bar with a look of concern etched across her face.

‘Are they both on the same network, perhaps they did not pay their bills!’

‘That would not surprise me about Gabe, however, there is no way Ruben has not paid his phone bill!’ said Michael.

He was right, of all of us Ruben was the best with money, he paid his bills well before their due date. He even created an excel spreadsheet to monitor his finances.

‘He will be back soon enough with Gabe in tow, I am sure of it, there’s nothing to worry about!’ said Michael reassuringly while refilling our wine glasses.

‘I cannot believe we have been coming here for so long. Do you sometimes wish your life had been different?’

‘Different how Thomas?’ replied Elsa.

‘I don’t know what I mean to be honest.'

I knew, and I was trying to build myself up to confronting Elsa and giving my heart to her. A part of me wished I told her all those years ago at Badgers Rest, and another part of me understood the rules of the pact and why I followed them for so long.

‘Not me mate, I am chuffed with my lot, thrilled with my life and my friends,’ replied Michael.

‘Yes, you are right Mike, me too, I wouldn’t change you guys for anything!’ I replied.

‘I suppose in answer to your question Thomas, there would be one or two moments in time I would change but on the whole, I am happy,’ replied Elsa gently.

I wondered for a moment what the things were that she would have changed, maybe our kiss, perhaps something else, I could not probe her answer, not tonight.

‘Come on, you two, it’s Thomas’s birthday tomorrow, but tonight we have a lot of vineyards to cover,’ said Elsa, lifting her glass and blowing a kiss at us both.

She was right. There was a lot of wine to consume, but part of me was worrying about the whereabouts of Gabriel and Ruben.

‘I am going to take a walk over to Gabe’s house to find out where they both are. You two don’t get up to any mischief!’ I said giggling to myself.

I left the King’s Head in search of them; I didn’t want to celebrate without them; it did not feel right. Heading up the high street and onto clover close to where Gabriel lived, I stopped at his garden. He must have had a moment of DIY madness as his once rotting brown gate was red. He also transformed even his white front door to the same pillar-box colour. I walked up the flower-lined pathway and rapped at the freshly painted woodwork.

‘Gabe, Ruben, are you in there?’ I shouted, looking up at his bedroom window. His recent choice of curtains somewhat alarmed me, opting for pink ones rather than the white blinds that hung there only days before.

‘Gabe, Rube, where are you?!’

Just then the door swung open and an old grey-haired woman holding a dishcloth stood before me.

‘Oh, hello I am here to see Gabe, I mean Gabriel,’ I said clearing my throat.

‘Who the hell was this woman standing before me and why hadn’t Gabriel ever told us about her!’

‘I am sorry, but you have the wrong house, there isn’t a Gabriel that lives here!’

I could see what was transpiring in front of me. It was another one of their practical jokes they both had a habit of performing before my birthday; I would not allow either of the twins to fool me, not this time.

‘Okay, I see what’s going, the joke is on you fellas!’ I shouted, pushing past the silver-haired granny and heading into the living room. A furious looking stocky old man in a white vest stood up and stared at me.

‘Who are you, what the hell are you doing in my house?’ he shouted, pushing me back through the door as I stumbled on the step outside.

‘Listen, I don’t know what’s going on, but I would suggest you get Gabe out here now!!’

‘There is nobody named Gabe living here, you nutter!’ the man shouted, clenching his fists.

I stepped back a little to take in my surroundings for confirmation I was standing in the right street and I was.

‘Look, tell Gabe and Rube to stop playing around, tell them we are at the Kings, and anytime they want to stop with the games they can come join us we will wait for them,’

‘Look, just go away or I will call the Police!’ said the lady holding onto the stocky man, preventing him lunging at me.

While something inside told me this was a practical joke, another part of me did not. I had never seen these strangers in my life, and they were standing in the doorway of my friend’s home. However, my hands felt bloody freezing and I would not spend my evening exchanging verbal blows with two elderly people in the street. Whatever game Gabriel and Ruben played; I wasn’t in the mindset to play it with them.

I yearned to get back to Elsa; I needed to say to her what I had craved to declare for years, it would take more than antics from my friends to hinder me, nothing could stop me. Now heralded my time.

Chapter Twenty-One.

Three's a crowd.

I marched into the King’s Head in search of my princess; I was now the knight that would rescue her from the tower and a hundred thousand men could not stop me.

‘Well, did you find them?’ asked Michael.

‘I didn’t but I know they will be back soon,’ I replied. I knew that they both had a wicked sense of humour, and this was their way of playing the fool.

‘Now get that down you!’ ordered Michael, handing me a large glass of the red stuff.

This was it, my time had come. Everything that had gone before was merely a stepping stone to this point in my life and I would not step backward, not this time.

‘Elsa, I wondered if I could chat with you alone for a moment, perhaps outside?’ I asked, swallowing hard. I could see Michael’s nod of approval in my peripheral vision.

‘Yes, you may’ she replied, looking somewhat confused.

I took Elsa’s hand and led her into the street. The time was perfect as I tried to compose myself and leaned against the wooden fence which collapsed backward, leaving me on my backside in front of her. Quickly getting to my feet, I swept at my jeans and looked directly at her gorgeous face. She brushed at the locks of hair that had straddled her cheeks; the moonlight lighting up her beautiful ebony skin, her eyes searching mine. This was it. My moment had arrived after so many years of anguish.

‘Yes, Thomas, what is it, what did you want to say to me?’ she asked.

‘Elsa May Green I need to say something that’s been on my mind. Well, you know, not just on my mind but on me. Not on me, more in me than on me, you know!’ I bumbled, but she didn’t know, why would she, not even the greatest code breaker could decipher the bumbling nonsense falling from my lips.

‘No, Thomas, I do not understand what you mean, why don’t you slow down a little and start again,’ she whispered, offering me the brightest of smiles.

I composed myself and standing before the woman that eluded me for so long; I began to utter those sacred words.

‘Elsa I...’

‘Tom is that you?’ yelped a jarring and familiar voice behind me, bringing my only moment of courage to its knees. It was Camilla, the now elephant in the room, street, whatever it was just her. I could not believe her ill timing; her presence had ruined my chance.

‘Oh, err, hi Camilla, have you met Elsa? I mean, yes you have, how are you?’ I asked, the truth was I did not care to hear her answer. I just needed her to leave so we could be alone again.

‘Thomas was just about to tell me something Camilla, weren’t you Thomas?’ asked Elsa, looking as confused as she was moments earlier.

‘Yes, yes I was, well, err’ I did not know what to say next, so I rummaged through the monopoly cards of my grey matter and reached in pulling out the get out of jail free card.

‘Yes, yes, I wondered if you were making cheese sandwiches tomorrow when we go boating!’ I replied awkwardly.

That’s as good as I had at the moment and to be honest, I was proud of my quick thinking, Elsa knew how much I liked her cheese sandwiches, so I assumed I was in the clear.

Elsa looked bemused and somewhat annoyed as she cleared her throat.

‘Yes, Thomas, I will bring with me the usual cheese sandwiches that I make every time we go boating. You didn’t need to invite me out here to ask me that question though, did you?’

‘Oh, I love boating, is there any room for me?’ piped Camilla.

‘Sorry it can only seat five’ said Elsa, giving me a look of absolute disdain as she turned and walked through the door of the King’s Head. The boat could take six, but something guaranteed me that if we set sail with both women, only one of them would return the voyage alive.

‘Sorry Camilla, but it’s a small boat and I think that on this occasion, well, you know,’ I replied letting out a sigh.

I felt dreadful.

‘That’s okay Tom, my father owns a large boat at Jackson’s boatyard so we can take that, it seats up to ten.'

Camilla was never very adept at reading between the lines, and I struggled with saying no. She seemed peculiar tonight, dressed in a long white dress. She looked like Camilla, but there was something oddly strange and yet familiar about her. But I could not put my finger on it.

‘I will make a quiche, you will love my quiche Tom, better than crusty old cheese sandwiches,’ she giggled.

‘Ah a quiche, yes that sounds wonderful, thank you,’

The air was getting cold around me as a sense of familiarisation beset me, and yet this time I did not fear it; I just stood and waited. Camilla’s gait looked unusual as she stared at me, smiling a demonic smile.

‘Do you like blood quiche Thomas, I can make you one, if you like?’ she snarled, moving erratically toward me.

‘I think I will go back in now Camilla, see you tomorrow,’ I said walking swiftly back through the door to safety. I escaped the dark moment guaranteed to haunt me. I peered through the mottled glass and just like that, Camilla and her deathly vibe had dissapeared. What I had witnessed, was nothing more than another brief interlude into my madness, much to my relief.

I walked back inside; Elsa was chatting to Michael at the bar.

‘Well, did you find them?’ asked Michael.

‘Find who?’ I replied.

‘Gabe and Ruben silly,’ said Elsa.

‘I didn’t but I know they will be back soon,’ I replied.

‘Now get that down you!’ ordered Michael, handing me a large glass of the red stuff.

I had experienced another replay moment of my life and I was not even sure whether the moment outside with Elsa and Camilla had taken place.

‘Well, have you got your dancing shoes on?’ asked Elsa.

‘We have Elsa, time for celebrities!’ cheered Michael.

If nothing else, the sights we would surely see at the only nightclub in town would remind me of how fortunate I am, and perhaps Gabriel and Ruben would show up to the annual dance-off between our beautiful Elsa and the rest of the disco floor attendees.

We left the Kings Head and headed up the road towards the Market square. The night air felt icy, so I removed my jacket and wrapped it around Elsa’s bare shoulders. She gave me a thankful smile as we walked under the dimly lit lamps that paraded the cemented ground. She was walking ahead, twisting and turning like a flower in the breeze. I watched as my princess glided along the street gracefully, her silken figure penetrating my eyes and my loins.

‘So, mate, when are you going to make your move?’ asked Michael.

‘Huh, make a move, what do you mean Mike?’ I retorted.

‘Come on Tom, it’s obvious how much you like her, you always have, even when we were kids. Don’t regret any more of your decisions mate, life is too short. I promise you that if you express to her how you feel will kick yourself, but I know what I would do!’ Michael said expressively.

‘But the pact, Mike, what about the pact?’ I asked.

‘Balls to it Tom, you cannot live by a contract we created as kids, you almost lost her to Rube. I know we said the pact is alive but you have to break the rules sometimes and do the right thing!’ replied Michael with an intense glare.

What was clear to me was my mind was repeating snippets of time. I was past the stage of freaking out about it, in fact, I happily allowed it in. I permitted it to enter me and with that; the moment disappeared.

Michael spoke sense, however each occasion I attempted to declare my love for her, something or someone would appear stifling the words ready to spill from my mouth, almost like the universe attempting to halt me and my utterings to her, and with each failed attempt the years carried on rolling forward.

‘I know you are right Mike; I have spent too many years hiding behind an agreement,’ I whispered in Michael’s ear.

By this time Elsa was swinging around a lampshade opposite Celebrities.

‘Come on boys, time to dance!’ she declared, heading into the doorway of the club.

That evening both Michael and I watched in awe as Elsa took to the disco floor and spent the next two hours showing herself to an admiring public. The attention was always on her and not just mine, she could brighten up a room with her presence and she was blissfully unaware, she craved to trip the light fantastic and I loved to admire her while she did. Before long, the music stopped, the bar closed, and we made our way back into the street.

‘Tomorrow is the big day!’ exclaimed Michael.

‘It is and personally, I cannot wait!’ said Elsa smiling at me.

‘Michael, would you walk me back?’ she asked.

This made sense as they both lived closer to the nightclub than I did. However once again I lost another moment to tell her I was in love with her.

‘Err, sure Elsa’ he replied awkwardly, knowing of my intention.

I knew tomorrow would herald another day and hopefully an opportunity for me. I resigned myself to defeat for now as we said our goodbyes to each other and hello to our beds. I knew one thing, no matter what happened tommorow I would declare my love for Elsa May Green.

Love

Peter Culbert

I am a fifty three year old father of three. Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder late in life I have struggled at times with the road on which I tread. I have a real passion for writing, I may not be very good at it but this will never stop me.

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