Fiction logo

The way back home

by Michael. J. Davies 10 months ago in Short Story
Report Story

See beyond the black and white

The way back home
Photo by Gleren Meneghin on Unsplash

The way back home

This story contains a scene that refers to child abuse. It is a suggestion only and has been done tastefully with no graphic details. It is imperative to the story but may upset some people.

1

Who was going to believe that there was a time portal at the end of the road? No one ever noticed that someone had disappeared, in broad daylight. Had they seen him at all? If they had, at what point did he become invisible to them.

Early hours of Monday morning and Eddie had taken a shortcut into town. It was a cold morning, and as the sun rose over the church spire, a brick wall appeared in front of him, it stretched from one side of the road, to the other. The discovery of this odd structure fascinated him. The houses lining the street seemed to have no aesthetic appeal, rows of terraces on either side coming to a focal point in the distance. As he walked down the new road an uneasy feeling followed every step, it felt almost like panic. The rows of terraces seemed fake, a little cardboardy, like something from a film set.

“keep going Eddie, you're almost there.”

Eddie turned 360 degrees... “who's there?”

He asked again. “I said, who's there?”

There was no-one in sight, but the voice sounded soft and calming. The terraced houses seemed to be closing in, suffocating him. The soft voice echoed all around.

“ keep going Eddie, you're almost there.”

Real or imagined, he could feel impending danger. His fight or flight response kicked in. The urge to go back was strong, he was scared and going back was the safe option. Continuing was also scary, his adrenaline was pumping, he had to find out what this was all about. With Caution he approached the brick wall, various works of modern art/graffiti-covered it. The green door, complete with flaky paint and rusted hinges pulled him in, he felt compelled to open it. Eddie reached out and with a little force, the door opened. After picking himself up and dusting off his jeans, he raised his gaze.

In front of him was another road full of terraced houses, but he was seeing them in black and white. In a panic, he turned to go back through the door. He found himself standing in the middle of the road, rows of houses behind and in front, but no door. People were coming in and out of the houses, going about their daily business paying him no mind, as if he wasn’t there. Everything and everyone appeared in black and white, including him.

He reached out with both hands, desperately trying to find the door. Nothing. As scared as he was, he also wanted to find out more about his new surroundings. He walked over to a guy with his head under the bonnet of his car. Eddie knew his cars, he knew all there was to know about classic cars. This particular model was a 1963 series V, Hillman Minx. It had shiny wheel trims and light green bodywork with a cream coloured roof. When he was young, he remembered a neighbour used to own one exactly like it.

Hypnotized, he walked over to the guy under the hood

“she's an absolute beauty mate, is it yours?” The guy ignored him and carried on grunting and swearing at the engine. Eddie tapped the guy on the shoulder.

“Excuse me, but is this your car?” as he touched his shoulder, he stumbled forward and his hand went straight through the man’s body. He steadied himself, took a step back and stared at his hands. He was real, he was alive, he could feel his heart beating. So why did that happen? People were scurrying past him, talking to each other, they seemed unaware of his presence.

Eight days a week sounded from inside one of the houses, teenagers sang along to a scratchy overplayed record. How Eddie hated the Beatles, almost as much as he hated teenagers. An elderly lady approached him, staring straight into his eyes

“They can’t see you, Eddie,” the lady said.

He stood dumbfounded as he watched her approach. The lady hobbled past him, supported by a walking cane with a beautiful ornate handle. Maybe a fox, he thought to himself. He tried to grab her arm.

“what do you mean, they can’t see me?” Once again, his hand went straight through. Scared and confused, Eddie shouted after her,

“ what the hell is going on? Where am I?”

“You're a frightened little boy Eddie. Take a breath, open your eyes, see beyond the black and white.” Her voice faded as she disappeared into the distance Eddie stood muttering to himself.

So, is this a time portal? A dream? Where did the wall and door go to? Why is it all black and white? Questions he was unable to answer.

As he walked past each house, he looked into the Windows. A little voyeuristic perhaps, but as no one could see him it seemed not to matter. It was clear that he was in the 1960s, and how it fascinated him, memories of his childhood came flooding back: walking to school with his cousin, trying to sleep, with various overcoats protecting him from the cold nights. Vague memories that made him feel safe and warm inside.

One particular house caught his eye. He looked up and down the row of scruffy terraces, everything was still in black and white. All except this house. It had a bright red door with a bronze knocker, the net curtains in the window looked yellow from years of cigarette smoke. He peered through the nicotine-stained curtains, from inside, a figure approached the window. Eddie jumped back in case he was seen snooping, then realised he was invisible to folk in this world. The figure in the window pulled the dirty curtains to one side. Eddie’s heartbeat doubled; a face he seemed to recognise stared straight through him. There was a sudden moment of realisation, the old lady’s words echoed in his ears." you’re a frightened little boy, take a breath, open your eyes, see beyond the black and white.

2

Charlie.

A voice sounded from the alley at the side of the house.

“Eddie, I told you to come inside, it's dinner time!”

That voice was his father’s voice he was sure of it, his father had died years ago, and good riddance too. Charlie Mace, Eddie’s Father, was a big man in stature and in attitude. Eddie’s dad was: a drunk, a womaniser, and would often be away for days on end with no real explanation. Charlie’s absence was always a good thing to Eddie and his mum. There was a better atmosphere without him around, Eddie, in particular, would be happier because his dad scared him at times. When Charlie was drunk, his behaviour was different from when he was sober.

Hearing his Father's voice again, conjured up a myriad of emotions, things he'd hidden for many years. With the old lady’s words haunting him, he ventured down the alley at the side of the house. Even though he knew that he couldn’t be seen, his instinct to duck under the kitchen window kicked in. He took a few steps back and angled himself so he could see inside.

On the far wall, he could see the floral wallpaper, with light and dark green patterns that were supposed to look like flowers, not that he’d ever seen any that looked like that. More memories began to enter his mind, a distant memory of burning himself on the old freestanding gas cooker. Something though was telling him that he didn’t burn himself, he remembered his mother telling him to never touch the cooker. He was a good child, he did as he was told.

Eddie stood, fascinated. Sat at the oak drop-leaf table, was a five-year-old version of himself. He couldn’t take his eyes off the young lad sat at the table, where had all the years gone? He felt so emotional looking at himself, then at that moment, his father entered the kitchen. He walked straight past the young Eddie and opened the drop-down shelf on the old blue and white kitchen cabinet. Charlie stumbled as he stretched to reach the top shelf for a glass, from the middle shelf he pulled out a bottle of whiskey. How apt, he thought, as he watched Charlie pour himself a large shot from a bottle of Buchannan’s, Black & white blended scotch whiskey.

Charlie stared at his glass, whilst Eddie ate his tinned spaghetti on toast. Charlie stood behind the chair and ran his hands through Eddie's hair, young Eddie flinched a little and stiffened up, with a look of fear on his face.

Eddie stood outside, looking in at his father, he took a step forward for a better view, Charlie leaned forward and whispered in young Eddies ear. Like an electric current, a memory came flooding back.

It was a Saturday night, he was almost certain of that. Eddie sat on the sofa with his mother. He loved sitting with his mum, he always considered her to be the most beautiful person he had ever seen. Eddie even remembered the show they listened to on the wireless, The Navy Lark, was the funniest show on radio according to her. He didn’t understand it of course, but he laughed along regardless. Hearing his mother's laugh, was a sound that pleased him immensely. Doris Mace loved her son, more than anything.

I’ll protect you with my life, I promise,

Eddie didn’t quite know what he needed protecting from, but her words always made him feel safe. Often, his mother’s scent would relax him enough to fall asleep in her arms. This Saturday night they had both fallen asleep, he awoke in his father's arms, whilst being carried upstairs. The smell of whiskey on his dad’s breath was strong, it made him feel sick. If he pretended to be asleep Charlie might put him in his bed and leave him alone. That was not to be. Eddie’s eyes were indeed shut tight, it wasn’t the first time he’d pretended to be asleep. He was never sure what was happening, maybe it was a punishment for something he had done earlier. Charlie laid him down into bed, the smell of the alcohol became unbearable as Charlie bent over him to kiss him goodnight.

“Goodnight my sweet boy, I love you more than you know.”

Eddie squeezed his eyes tight shut and held his breath, he could sense his father hovering over him. The smell of whiskey and tobacco had become an odour that he had always hated. Eddie had grown up never smoking or drinking, as this memory washed over him, he began to understand why.

Charlie undone his belt, let his trousers drop to the floor and took hold of his young son's hand.

“Now, you're going to help daddy out, like before, do you remember? Don’t forget Eddie, this is our little secret and if you tell anyone, bad things will happen to you and mummy.”

Eddie never understood what he had done wrong, to be punished in this way, but he didn’t want anyone to hurt his mummy. It became a regular event, Charlie would come home drunk and whilst Doris slept, Eddie would do what his father told him to do. When sober, Charlie was a loving father, no one would have guessed what was happening behind closed doors, not even Doris.

Eddie stood at the back door, as he watched his father pour the last drop of whiskey into his glass. He wanted to scream out, to run in the kitchen and bash his dad's head against the wall, instead, he stood, staring at his younger self. Tears ran down both his and young Eddie's face, there was an anger inside him that he had never felt before. Uncontrollable hate rising from his gut and going deep into his heart, filling his whole being with the kind of abhorrence that can only be felt when something this evil exists.

There was nothing he could do, he couldn’t influence his surroundings in any way, he wiped the tears from his eyes and let out a painful roar.

“Why am I here? “why am I seeing this? I don’t understand,” he began slapping his cheeks, pulling the hairs on his arms.

“I don’t like this dream any more, I want to wake up...please!”

Once again he wiped his eyes, looked back into the kitchen to find young Eddie no longer sat at the table. Eddie ran into the house screaming,

“Leave him alone you filthy bastard, I’ll fucking kill you!”

He ran through the kitchen, into the front room, noises from upstairs prompted him to investigate. As he got to the top step he looked around the landing, more floral wallpaper adorned the walls. The doors were blue with dirty handprints around the handles. The noise he heard was coming from his old bedroom. He remembered his old room; it hadn’t been decorated since he was born, it looked tired and in need of a paint job. His bed had noisy springs and old overcoats covering it, the eiderdown was never warm enough.

He opened the bedroom door, sat on the bed was young Eddie, but not as young as a few minutes ago. A good two years older he guessed, Eddie stood, confused. Young Eddie sat rocking back and forth, singing.

“who's afraid of the big bad wolf, the big bad wolf, the big bad wolf. Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf.”

Such a sorry looking figure, a frightened little boy.

The old lady’s voice once again ringing in his ears.

Where were Charlie and Doris? surely they hadn't gone out and left him alone.

“Eddie, Come downstairs now! I want to talk to you.”

It was Charlie, slurring his words yet again. He watched as the young version of himself walked past him, with tears in his eyes, he shouted, “coming daddy,” Eddie had no option but to follow him downstairs.

He remembered that his Mum used to work in a local public house, serving drinks and singing old-time songs for the locals.

Young Eddie walked into the front room, Charlie sat on the settee, his cigarette smouldering down to his yellow nicotine-stained fingers. He tapped his hand on the seat next to him and gave a sickening grin.

“ Come here my boy, Daddy needs some help.”

He could only stand and watch as young Eddie reluctantly sat next to his father.

With tears again running down his cheeks, shouted,

“Please... leave me alone, what did I do to deserve this?"

He looked up towards the ceiling as if looking for divine intervention.

“I’m begging you, please stop this, I don’t want to see any more.”

On the settee, young Eddie had sat down next to his father. Charlie put his hand on his young son's knee and started stroking his thigh, young Eddie shuffled in his seat. As Charlie grabbed his little hand,young Eddie stood up.

“ Please Daddy, I don’t want to do this no more!”

Charlie kept a tight hold of his hand, stood up, and dragged his son out of the room and into the kitchen. With both Eddie’s screaming for him to stop, Charlie marched him towards the gas cooker.

“I’ve told you before you little shit, bad things will happen if you don’t do as I say,”

he turned on the front ring and without a second thought, thrust Eddie’s hand into the blue flame. Three or four seconds later Eddie managed to escape his father's grip, he dropped to the floor clutching his hand.

“why? Why did you do that Daddy, it hurts.”

Charlie knelt down next to his crying son,

“I told you bad things will happen! and if you tell your mother or anyone else I will hurt her too, make sure you remember that.”

3

Eddie’s adult life was never easy, he often moved from one lover to the next. A charming man, but no stamina when it came to holding down a relationship. He had always had a problem with intimacy. He had all the chat and sophistication, but when it came down to it, his performance was always a little lacking. His sexual preferences were also a little strange to say the least. As a younger man, pornography played a big part in his life, as he approached his forties he could only gain arousal through fetish magazines. He started with BDSM and spanking mags. His strange sexual interests, in time, moved on to videos, and of course with the invention of the internet, there was a whole new world of weird and wonderful things to watch.

Any woman to get involved with Eddie would soon realise that not only was he sexually backward, but his misogynistic attitude to women would frighten most of them away.

Eddie Mace was a self-centred individual, he was: cocky, controlling and had a false sense of grandeur. On his travels through life he didn’t care who he hurt, he kept every one that entered his life at arm's length. He never felt that he could trust anyone, he would muddle through life with few people he could call upon if he needed them.

His beautiful mother had died a few years ago, that was the hardest thing he’d ever had to cope with. He remembered the day before she died, she said something that at the time seemed an odd thing to say, but in retrospect it made sense. They were having a discussion about Eddie’s lack of self-respect and an apparent lack of respect for others. Doris never knew of his strange sexual habits, but she was aware of his character, she knew why he was the way he was. She also knew that his memories of his past had been repressed, they had never spoken of the events in over 40 years. She had often attempted to jog his memory, but he seemed unable to open up enough to remember.

Eddie never knew why he couldn’t keep a relationship going, or why he would push people away if they got too close. His mother knew only too well, but she never raised the subject, instead she would say random things.

“One day all of this will make sense, when it does, embrace it and change your life.”

As always he was so wrapped up in himself, he paid little attention to her ramblings. For some reason, this one stuck in his mind. He had no idea what she meant but knew that one day it would make sense.

The memories of his childhood had become distant and jumbled. Pushing them away into the recesses of his mind, seemed the only way to get through life. There is a lot of information that never gets stored in our memory banks, but there are plenty of experiences that cannot be recalled because they are repressed - kept out of our awareness. Our deeper unconscious mind can be compared to an iceberg, the large bulk of which is out-of-sight beneath the ocean surface, and only the tip is visible. Eddie's childhood memories were well and truly hidden, if he thought about things, he would get the occasional brief flashback. He tried not to think about the past, he wasn’t sure he wanted to delve that deep, after all, it's all about living in the here and now.

At this moment in time, the here and now wasn’t the same as it was this morning. The here and now consisted of strange unexplainable images of his past, things he’d wished he hadn’t seen, were they memories? Was he dreaming? If it was a dream, it was the most vivid he’d ever had.

4

After the hand burning incident, Charlie had gone out for the night. Young Eddie had run out into the street and sat at the side of the road. He had hidden the burn from his mum. How long could he disguise the pain he felt? Although it was only a first-degree burn, it hurt like hell. On the other side of the road sat a tearful Edward Mace, sat in the same position as his younger self, almost mirrored. The urge to go over and give himself a hug was strong, but how stupid did that sound. There had to be a way out of this nightmare, but how? Eddie was traumatized. As he looked over at the lost little boy, he started to recall the sadness he used to feel all of the time. It was all beginning to make sense, he felt sick at the thought of what his father had done to him.

In the distance he saw the old lady hobbling toward him, he waited for her to approach.

“Why am I seeing this? I can’t change anything! What’s the point in showing me all this when I can’t change it,”

The old lady stopped and looked straight at him.

“You can change things Eddie, look across the street. A frightened little boy, take a breath, open your eyes, see beyond the black and white.”

Eddie stared at the strange old lady in front of him, he felt deflated, a deep sadness filled his heart.

“what the hell are you talking about you scary old woman, What does that mean? I don’t even know your name. If you’re the one who brought me here, then you’re the one that can take me home, please take me home!”

The old lady hobbled away, “not that it's important right now, but my name is Evelyn.”

She glanced over her shoulder. “ There's one more thing to see before you go, you will know when its time.”

Eddie wasn't going home any time soon that was clear. He closed his eyes, and for the first time in his life he prayed. He was an atheist, praying was something he had never considered. However, he did believe in a higher being, something or someone that controlled his life. It didn't matter what or who that being was. It seemed that praying to it was the obvious thing to do at the time.

Eddie stood, staring at his childhood home: the yellow curtains, the red door, still the only things that weren’t black and white. So in theory, anything that was colour was important somehow. He decided to explore more of the old two up two down terraces. Rows of boring houses lined the streets. If there was still something he had to witness, where was it? It was dark now and Eddie had no idea what his next move should be. Farther down the street he saw a flickering orange glow, a street lamp, with its bulb inviting you towards a night of euphoric and drunken debauchery.

5

The George and Dragon public house, ( the George, as it was known) was the pub his mother used to talk about. The nights she would serve, and sing to the locals, the nights his father would come home drunk, the nights young Eddie would cry himself to sleep. It was all coming back to him, every detail of the horrors he had to face was unfolding in his mind, once again he closed his eyes hoping the images would fade.

The name, ( George & Dragon ) etched on the glass panel in the door, glowed from the well-lit interior. A faint sound of a piano and singing came from inside. He peered through the window. In the corner was his mother stood next to a cloth capped gent at the piano. Her beautiful voice entertaining the drunk and lecherous old men, sounded as sweet as he remembered. She wore a red mini dress, with a white collar and three braided cords on the front, a majorette style dress. The song was unrecognizable to him, but she had them in the palm of her hands.

The interior of the pub was in colour, dull browns and nicotine walls but colour all the same. This place was without a doubt, important in today’s events, but how? Was Charlie in there somewhere? He walked around the corner to look through the side window and peered through a gap in the fading etched glass. Right in front of him were Charlie and three other men, all playing cards. The cigarette smoke created a dense layer of fog across the room. There was no such thing as passive smoking, everyone seemed to have a self rolled cancer stick hanging from their mouths. His father was so close he could almost smash the window, drag him outside and beat him senseless, impossible but tempting, he thought.

Doris finished her song and waited for the applause; none came. She stepped off the plinth and continued with her tasks, collecting glasses and emptying ashtrays. Doris must have enjoyed singing, she didn’t do it for the adulation that was clear. Eddie felt sad, and a little angry on her behalf. He watched through the glass, unsure of what could be important in this place.

Doris went behind the bar, she stopped at the entrance to a doorway, opened the door and passed a drink through. Eddie pressed his nose against the glass. Behind the door was young Eddie. Once again memories of all the night’s he would sit in the backroom of the pub popped in his mind. His mother had to work, and Charlie couldn’t stay off the booze, the only option was to bring young Eddie with him. He recalled that it was quite an adventure. He used to peek out into the bar to watch his mum singing; such a beautiful woman with the voice of an angel. Now and again he would hear obscenities being hurled across the room. Words he hadn’t heard before, words that had no meaning to him, yet he knew they were words he wasn’t allowed to use. He would often stand in front of the mirror and practice saying them, with his glass of lemonade acting as his pint of Bitter. And for a little while his fantasy land took him away from the reality of his wretched life.

“Come on my Prince! It’s time to go home.”

Young Eddie had fallen asleep in the armchair, Doris took his hand and led him through the lounge bar. Charlie was still at his table, drunk, and having an altercation with another inebriate.

“Don’t worry, you’re dad's drunk, he’ll be home later.”

To be honest, he didn’t care whether he came home or not, the drunken nights were the worst.

As Doris led her young Prince out of the den of iniquity, she was followed by Charlie and his drunken adversary. Charlie attempted to walk away from trouble, but his antagonist had other ideas.

“Don't walk away from me, I saw you cheating, not man enough to face me then eh?”

Charlie staggered on, he had heard the guy's comment but was too drunk to respond, he wanted to get home. He was not a fighter even when he was drunk.

Eddie stood on the street corner watching the events unfold.

Doris and young Eddie were quite a few paces ahead, she had heard the commotion but walked a little faster so as to protect her son. In his inebriated state, Charlie had no control of the direction his feet were taking him, then without warning, the guy grabbed Charlie's collar and pulled him backwards. He felt himself being dragged along the rough, paved ground. Coins fell from his trouser pockets and rolled in every direction as if trying to escape the melee.

Eddie moved closer, and with his adrenalin pumping, he watched his father being dragged down a side alley. There was a brief scuffle as Charlie tried to get up and fight back, but his motor skills had deserted him. Charlie lay on the cold ground with his attacker sat on his chest, and a hand around his throat.

“I didn’t cheat, I'm too fucking drunk to see the cards.”

Charlie laughed a little as he tried to wriggle free, the guy had a tight grip and wasn’t interested in excuses.

“I’m glad you find it funny, you won’t be laughing in a minute... kiddie fiddler. Yeah I know all about it, you dirty bastard, people like you should be strung up by the balls.”

Charlie had stopped struggling and stared into the man’s eyes.

“ what are you going to do, please! I haven't done anything, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

He could hear the panic in his own voice, then he realised that he could be about to breathe his last breath. His heartbeat increased, he trembled as he felt a sudden surge of strength. He clenched his fist and with his eyes bulging, he threw a punch. It landed right on his attacker's jaw, loosening the grip on his throat. With a glimmer of hope he grabbed the guy's hand and attempted to free himself from the grip. The struggle was a short one, Charlie had no strength left and the grip once again tightened. He turned his head to one side, at the end of the alley were two silhouettes. Standing under the streetlight were Doris and young Eddie.

He tried to speak but no words would come. He caught a glimmer of metal in his peripheral vision. His attacker placed a blade under Charlie's left ear and drew it across his throat. His body stiffened as he felt the cold steel biting into his flesh. Charlie thrashed his arms around, slapping the knifeman on the face several times. Blood poured from the gaping wound, he was still conscious as he glanced over to see his wife and child. Doris and young Eddie were stood right next to him, he reached out his hand towards them.

“Help me!”

Doris hugged her son tight, as they watched him die.

Eddie stood at the end of the alley in disbelief at what he was witnessing. With one final lunge, he saw the knifeman thrust the blade into Charlie’s windpipe. His body went into convulsions, and the blood poured onto the ground like a running tap. The knifeman stood up and folded the knife into his pocket. Doris looked him straight in the eyes, he glanced at her, gave a knowing nod of the head and walked away.

With tears running down his face, young Eddie clung on to his mother. Charlie was still conscious as they watched his body go into spasms, he tried to talk but could only gargle as the blood ran down his throat. Doris bent over him.

“How does it feel Charlie? Does it hurt? Do you feel helpless? Yeah, well so was your son. Eddie and I will watch you die, and this time he won't be giving Daddy a hand.”

Before she stood up, she got close to his face and spat in his eye. Doris grabbed her son's hand and walked back down the alley. Eddie still sobbing as she hugged him.

Eddie watched his mum and his younger self walk home as if nothing had happened. He began to remember the event, he recalled the confusion he felt, he remembered asking his mum if his dad was ever coming back. He also recalled that his mother never explained any of that night's events to him, she only said,

“ you don’t have to worry anymore, you’re safe now, he won’t hurt you again.”

He never knew if she had found out about the abuse, or whether she had Charlie killed because of his burnt hand and other bruises he’d had over time. There may have even been private things that he wasn’t aware of that contributed to his death. For a few weeks after that night, he remembered there was a lot of police activity, his mother was questioned a few times, in time that stopped and life went on.

6

Eddie walked down the alley towards the scene of the crime, he could see blood running into the drains. He approached the body, Eddie’s stomach lurched as he saw his dad’s face. Charlie’s eyes were wide open, as was his neck. Eddie didn’t know how to feel, for most of his adult life he thought that his dad had died and that his mother raised him. He felt that he had missed out on not having a father for most of his life, and often blamed his own problems on the fact he never had a father to look up to or to guide him through life. Here he was though, looking down at the man who physically and sexually abused him all those years ago. Different emotions seemed to attack him all at once: anger, disgust, shame, sadness and joy. Eddie leaned against the wall, closed his eyes and slid down on to the wet ground. For what seemed an eternity, Eddie sat and sobbed into his hands.

He had no idea how much time had passed, his eyes felt sore and his legs were hurting. He was still sat against the wall when through his closed eyelids he saw a bright yellow glow. The light from the early morning Sun confused him. He opened his eyes, glanced towards the end of the alley and saw the Sun rising above the chimney stacks. With everything he had seen over the last few hours, or however long he'd been there, he wasn’t fazed by the fact that minutes ago it was the middle of the night. Charlie was no longer laying on the ground next to him, only a patch of dried blood remained. He stood up and walked to the end of the alley. The Sun warmed his face as he stepped out of the shadows. An ambulance pulled away with its sirens wailing, people had lined the streets to see who was being carted off. This was followed by a police car, sat in the back was his mother and young Eddie. Doris sat with Eddie next to her, his face buried in her coat She held a handkerchief to her face and wiped the tears from her eyes.

Eddie stood and watched the car go by, with a wry smile on his face, he muttered.

“ Thanks, mum.”

Eddie had learned so much, but still, he wasn’t sure what was going on. If the things he had seen, did happen to him as a child, how was he going to process something like that? How could he move on with his life? So many things were making sense to him but he was hurting inside, his heart ached. All the things his father had done to him had contributed to the way he had lived his life.

The way Charlie had died pleased him in a way that maybe, he shouldn’t have felt. Charlie should have been dealt with through the judicial system, so he could be tried and punished. His mother had done what she felt was right at the time. She had always told him that she would protect him with her life. Doris took a huge risk in having him killed, but the love for her son made her choice easier.

The thought of his mum, keeping it a secret all that time made him wonder, how on earth she coped. Did she ever feel any guilt? Did she have sleepless nights, imagining Charlie’s throat gaping open, with blood swimming around her feet? He would never know the answer, although he was sure that he would see that image forever.

7

Eddie watched the locals filter back to their homes, leaving the street empty all except for Evelyn, hobbling towards him. As she approached she left a trail of colour behind her, vibrant: reds, greens and yellows adorned the doors and Windows. The sky turned a beautiful shade of blue, the Sun appeared larger and brighter than he’d ever seen. He’d almost forgotten that he was wearing blue jeans and a red checked shirt, as the world around him transmogrified back to its beautiful, original state.

Evelyn stopped in front of Eddie, held out her arm and smiled.

“ Walk with me Edward, I need your arm for support, I’m so tired now.”

Eddie took hold of her arm and they walked, without a word, toward the end of the street. She stopped outside a familiar red door, raised her walking stick and pointed it at the window.

“There is one more thing you need to see before you go back.”

Eddie looked at the window of the old house, let go of her arm, and scowled.

“ you said that last time! I’m tired too, I’ve seen enough now. Why are you doing this? I want to go home.”

She stared straight through him, and once again thrust her stick at the window. Eddie stood, looking confused, again she stared and jabbed her stick forward. In an impatient tone, she said,

“for goodness sake, look through the Damn window will you!”

Eddie was a little taken aback by her brusqueness, but he obliged, mumbling under his breath. He went over to the window, cupped his hands either side of his face and peered through. It took a few seconds to focus but once his eyes had adjusted, he saw what she wanted him to see. Sat on the rug was young Eddie, playing army with his plastic toy soldiers, unaware of his mum who was sat in an armchair in the other corner. Doris sat with her knees clutched right up to her chest. He pressed his nose up against the glass. His beautiful mother looked: older, haggard, tired of worrying about everything.

“ Rat-a-tat, rat-a-tat, Boom, Boom.” went Eddie’s soldiers. Young Eddie seemed to be the happiest he’d ever been, meanwhile his poor mum put on a brave face for her little soldier.

“Why have you shown me this, now. I would have been happier had you have taken me home.”

“No doubt you are wondering how she got through all the guilt and remorse.” She approached him and put her arm around his shoulder.

“ She did feel guilt and remorse, every day. I doubt that you ever noticed, she kept it hidden from you. You had suffered enough.”

She squeezed him tight.

“It became her mission to try and give you the best life that she could. She often went hungry so that you could eat, she still worked at the pub as much as possible, that was her only source of income.”

Eddie hung On her every word.

“On occasions she would put you to bed, wait for you to go to sleep, and then work four hours at the pub. She had to leave you alone sometimes, it was the only way she could earn money. The pub landlord had stopped her from taking you along, he felt that after the incident with your dad it wasn’t a safe place for a young child. After a while, she did learn to deal with her feelings but always felt guilty that she hadn’t spotted the signs earlier. She loved you so much Eddie, and always worried about you, even in adulthood.”

Eddie had seen enough, “please take me home,”

She led him away from the window, and they walked together, their arms linked, Evelyn using Eddie as support.

“Tell me, Evelyn, why am I seeing all this now?” Eddie had stopped next to the 1963 Hillman Minx.

“Why do I get the feeling that we’ve met before? It’s not possible, is it? But I feel a connection to you somehow.”

Evelyn turned to face him.and smiled, “ yes, we have met before, you were too young though. I remember the day you were born, such a tiny little thing. I held you in my arms, Eddie.”

They stared into each other's eyes, Eddie frowned, “ I don’t understand, who are you?”

Evelyn smiled and wiped a tear from his face. “I’m your grandma Eddie!”

Eddie never knew his grandma, his mum told him that she died a week or so after he was born. Although over the years he had seen pictures of her, he had no particular reason to remember her face. He realised that that was why he felt a connection to her. He was confused, if she had died then how come she was there and knew about everything,

“ y-y-y- you’re dead!”

Evelyn nodded in agreement, “there isn’t time to explain all this Eddie, its time to go back home.”

Once again Eddie tried to talk but couldn’t form his words. Evelyn grabbed his arm,

“I have to go now, and so do you.” She snapped.

Then like a large cloud passing over the Sun, everything once again went back to black and white. All except for the green door, which had appeared in the middle of the road. Evelyn let go of his arm and guided him toward the door. Eddie was still mumbling, trying to make sense of it all,

“ you have to go now, open the door Eddie, change your life.” Eddie stood with his mouth open.

“Go now, hurry, there’s not much time.” she snapped.

Eddie ran across to the green door, stopped, and glanced back over his shoulder. Once again he saw Evelyn pointing her walking stick in his direction. He placed his hand on the rusted doorknob, all the while never taking his eyes of his grandma. He watched as Evelyn walked backwards and disappeared behind the old Hillman.

The road beneath his feet started to fade, the rows of terraces became transparent. Rays of sunlight passed through the brick walls of the disappearing houses. Eddie watched as his past seemed to float away, he would have stayed if it was possible. The home he once knew disappeared, its evanescence only heightening his desire for it. With a heavy heart, he pulled the handle of the green door and stepped back into reality.

8

Eddie had no idea how long he’d been away. Everything looked the same as before: the church bells chimed, the cold, dry air, irritated his airways ensuring his asthma returned with a vengeance. Something was different though, when he went through the door earlier the houses looked fake. Now they looked more substantial than before: vibrant colours on the doors, lights were on in porch Windows, trees with various shades of green lined the street. He turned back toward the wall, it wasn’t a surprise to him but there was no wall and no door, only a double-decker bus.

Eddie threw himself toward the pavement, in the hope that he could escape the impending impact. He took a glancing blow from the side mirror as the driver attempted to swerve and avoid hitting a guy that seemed to appear from nowhere. The impact spun him around, he tried to regain his balance but the inevitable fall was happening no matter what. As the ground approached, he put out his arms to cushion the fall. He landed with an undignified splat, the attempt to cushion his fall had failed.

The Bus driver ran over to the man who lay prostrate at the side of the road, he checked his pulse and turned him to the recovery position,

“ he came out of nowhere, there was no one about, then there he was, I couldn’t avoid him.”

The driver started to panic as pedestrians ran over to help,

“ he’s breathing, but there’s blood coming from his ear, I’ll phone for an ambulance.”

He seemed to be talking to everyone, or anyone that was listening as he ran back to the bus. With shaking hands he dialled 999.

“ He’s coming round! He’s coming round! It’s ok buddy stay where you are, the ambulance is on its way.”

A young guy sat with Eddie, trying to calm him and reassure him that all was ok. Eddie lay on the ground a little dazed and confused, he couldn’t recall what had happened, it was all so quick. The last thing he remembered was waving goodbye to Evelyn.

" where’s my Grandma? She’s on the other side of the road, I want my Grandma.”

Eddie tried to get up, but the young guy kept his hand on his back, “its ok buddy, we'll find her, you stay put and wait for the Ambulance,” he turned to the bus driver and whispered, “I think he's a bit confused mate, he’s going on about wanting his grandma,”

“he’s gonna be alright though, yeah?” The Bus driver shuffled his feet from side to side, his voice trembled as he spoke.

It's not my fault he said to himself, the guy wasn’t there! then all of a sudden he was. It seemed that no one had seen the incident. It was his word against the idiot who ran out in front of him. He knew though that the guy didn’t walk out in front of his bus. He also knew that the guy had appeared out of nowhere. The decision to keep that part to himself made a lot of sense, it wasn’t logical or even possible that someone could appear as if by magic. He was convinced that it did happen, but the fact that even he wouldn't believe such a story meant that it was best to stick to the (he stepped out in front of me officer, I didn’t stand a chance) story.

Eddie was conscious and trying to sit up. He shook off the young man and stood up, ran over to the bus and stood in front of it.

“where’s the wall? the door? I want to go back, I want to go home!”

With clenched fists, Eddie punched the glass window, “move this fucking bus, my grandma’s underneath, please someone help me.”

The day's events were taking their toll on Eddie, he was: confused, in pain and convinced the bus had run him and his grandma over. A couple of passers-by led him away, assuring him that no one was under the bus and that he needs to calm down. The driver of the bus stood on the pavement watching Eddie as he went into a rage, four people attempted to hold him down. Eddie’s strength was immense, he shook them off and ran toward the bus driver,

“she did it all for me, she had to kill him, please don’t take her away!”

The ambulance arrived and loaded him inside, leaving the bus driver to contemplate his next move. His passengers had turned on him, accusations of drunkenness and incompetency flew in his direction. Mob rule took over, the crowd were baying for blood. In a panic, the driver spotted an opportunity and ran for it. He had no idea why he ran or where he was going, he had to get away from the mob.

Kevin Yeoman had his own issues, far too many to go into now. Suffice to say he was not running away from the angry crowd, it was his own demons he was escaping from. Going home seemed to be the obvious destination. Turning into Grover street; the street he’d lived in for the past three years, a cold chill hit him. The sky turned purple and in the middle of the road, stretching from one side to the other, was a brick wall. In the middle, was a green door, complete with flaky paint and rusted hinges.

9

Eddie Mace was unstable, battle-scarred. In his mind, the past and the present had become distorted, somehow looped together. Nothing made sense, he was emotionally wounded. The first three days he spent in the hospital was spent trying to focus on the present and not the past.

He was on twenty-four-hour watch, night times were the worst. Nurses would have to attend when they would hear a frightened scream. They would find Eddie sat up in bed, wide-eyed, but still asleep. His face would be flushed, his pupils dilated and sweat poured from him. Every attempt to calm him was futile without a tranquillizer. He would awake kicking and thrashing, and upset beyond reason. In the morning there would be no memory of his night terror or his behaviour, he only knew how disturbed he felt.

On his release, the doctor's report stated that Eddie was showing the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. He knew why, but telling the doctors that he had gone back in time and saw himself being abused by his father, was a sure way to get committed. He wasn’t sure himself if any of it was real or if he was suffering from some sort of psychosis.

Eddie was on his own, people would think he was mad if he told anyone. He had to find the wall again at any cost, there were so many unanswered questions. He knew how it all worked now, there must be a way to alter the past, he had to find the green door and speak to his grandma.

Weeks had passed, Eddie Mace had gone back to the street every day hoping that the wall would appear. He would visit the street three or four times a day without fail. His hope of going back again was fading when one morning, things in the street looked different. That familiar uneasy feeling once again followed his every step, the houses looked fake, like something from a film set. Eddie ran into the middle of the road,

“I’m here Evelyn, I’m waiting!”

A few yards further up the road, the tarmac shimmered like a heat haze across a busy airport runway. Without hesitation he ran toward the impending arrival of the wall, he stopped in his tracks as a bright white light flashed and temporarily blinded him. His eyes adjusted to the flash. No graffiti-covered wall, no green door, lying face down in front of him was a man, crying. Eddie looked up to see a car approaching. Without thinking he grabbed the guy and pulled him to safety. The car sped by, the driver shouting obscenities out of the window.

The two men stared at each other, the new arrival sat on the side of the road, scared and wide-eyed he said,

“take a breath, open your eyes, see beyond the black and white.”

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I am still learning and I realise I still have work to do to become the writer I know I can be. Any help with funds to assist my development would be much appreciated.If you would like to leave a tip, I would be eternally grateful.

Short Story

About the author

Michael. J. Davies

I am an aspiring author. Whether it's short stories, poems or children's stories.

Any honest or constructive criticism is very welcome

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights

Comments

There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2022 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.