A Cold Christmas Eve

‘It’s starting to snow. Come and look, it is so pretty.’ Jasmine waved Katie to the window, her eyes never leaving the sky.
‘I hate snow.’ Katie replied whilst sat hunched up on the sofa and staring at the TV screen.
Jasmine stayed by the window, looking out on the night sky, ‘How can you say you hate it?’ she asked wide eyed. ‘It is so romantic.’
Katie’s eyebrows rose as she turned to Jasmine, ‘Romantic?  More like cold and wet and talking of cold and wet how is Josh these days anyway?’
Jasmine dropped the curtain back into place and walked back to sit in the armchair by Katie, ‘He isn’t cold. He is just very busy with work and everything.’ She reached down and pulled her mobile phone from her bag, sighing as she checked it.
‘Hasn’t he replied, yet again?’ Katie asked winking at Jasmine, ‘Oh what a surprise that is. I honestly have no idea why you stick with him. He treats you like rubbish.’
Jasmine looked at her phone again, ‘He doesn’t. It just that, well he hasn’t had many relationships he doesn’t know how to act in one.’ She stared at the phone willing it to ring or for a message to appear.
Katie rolled her eyes but did not answer. Jasmine stood up and paced around the room, as she clutched onto her phone.
The Christmas tree still smelled fresh, as it stood buried beneath the mishmash of ornaments and lights that had been plonked onto it. Fairy lights twinkled all the way around the room, bringing a touch of chaotic magic to the usual drab room.
The lights started to flicker as the TV turned itself off, and then the lights faltered altogether and they were plunged into darkness.
Jasmine pressed her phone, smiling as it shone a little brighter, ‘I’ll message Josh and let him know that we have a power cut,’ she said as she tapped away at the phone.
‘Great you do that, it will be a great help and meanwhile I’ll find a torch. ‘Katie’s voice called out from the dark as something clattered to the floor.
Jasmine scrunched her eyes up as a light blinded her, ‘Katie don’t point that thing at me,’ she said as she walked back towards the window. She pulled the curtain open and stared out. ‘It is coming thick and fast now. I so hope Josh doesn’t have any problems getting home,’ she checked her phone again, biting her lip.
‘Yes poor Josh,’ Katie replied, ‘in his nice warm car which has lights and heating. It must be awful for him, how does he ever cope?’ she said as she flung herself back onto the sofa.
‘Don’t be like that,’ Jasmine said as she sat back down, ‘Josh is a good man, and it is good that he likes work so much.’ She looked at Katie as she waited for an answer.
‘Sure, you keep telling yourself that.’ Katie pulled her lips up into a fake smile. ‘Did he send you that message yet?’
Jasmine glanced at her phone, ‘No, not yet,’ she sighed. ‘Is it just me or is it getting cold in here? I’ll go get some blankets.’ She stood up and marched out of the room and into the darkness of her bedroom.
Shutting the door behind her, she sank to the floor. Tears burned their way down her face as she stared into the nothingness. Her mind whirled and danced as she remembered her ex boyfriends. She had loved them so much and all of them had left her. Well not, so much left her as simply stopped answering her calls. She knew this time it was different Josh was nothing like them. He treated her with respect, and he did care.
She wiped the tears from her eyes as she fumbled her way in the dark towards the bed. She reached out with her hand and grasped the blankets pulling them towards her. She paused for a moment as she hugged them and checked her phone again. She sucked her bottom lip and she fought the tears back down, and forcing a smile to her face made her way back out to the living room.
‘You found your way back out the darkness then?’ Katie asked as Jasmine dumped one of the blankets on her. ‘You could have taken the torch you know, I would have coped without it for a few minutes. I’m sure I wouldn’t fall over without it.’
‘Stop being so nasty, its Christmas Eve a time of peace and harmony when the world is filled with love,’ Jasmine said as she plonked herself back in the chair pulling her blanket tight around her as she grasped her phone to her chest.
‘Tell that to the homeless guy sleeping on the street tonight, or that woman who lost her three children in that fire the other month. I’m sure they are feeling the love,’ Katie retorted.
The two women sat in silence as they waited for the power to come back on. Jasmine stared through the crack in the curtain at the falling snow, as she kept her hand firmly on the phone. Soon she heard gentle snores coming from Katie.
Jasmine found she could not close her eyes as she shuffled from one position to another. She stared first at her phone and then back towards the window. The world seemed so quiet that she found it uncomfortable. Loneliness started to ebb into her heart like a dull ache.
Standing up she walked back towards the window. She saw something move near the garden wall. Straining her eyes, she picked out the shape of a man struggling through the snow. He looked like an abandoned groom figure on an over iced wedding cake. She grabbed her coat, pulled on her boats, and ran to the door.
Snow blew into her face and the snowdrift that had built up against the door fell into the house. She put her arm up in an attempt to shield her eyes from the driving snow.
‘Excuse me,’ she shouted waving her arm towards the figure. ‘Excuse me.’
The figure continued to shuffle through the snow without noticing her. She took a deep breath and looked up into the blizzard that was now falling. She plunged her right leg out into the snow, and her left leg followed as she shut the door behind her. She stood for a moment in the snow as her breath escaped her into the cold air.  One of these days I will buy myself a hat, she thought as she started to traipse her way through the snow towards the figure.
The snow was deep and covered most of her boots as she pulled each leg in turn out of the snow and placed in back down in front of her. She looked up, her eyes tracing the figure that was shuffling away from her.
‘Excuse me,’ she yelled again as her foot stuck in the snow and she fell over.
‘My knee,’ she muttered to herself as she sat in the snow wishing her clothes were waterproof. Tears bubbled into her eyes as she rubbed her knee with her frozen red hands.
‘Are you alright? That looked like a nasty fall.’
Jasmine looked up to see where the voice had come from and stared straight into the eyes of the hooded figure she had been following.
‘I’m fine,’ she said as her tears dried up and she jumped to her feet before collapsing back onto the snow, ‘I’ve just twisted my knee slightly, it is nothing really. I’ll be fine. Thanks for your concern.’
‘You certainly don’t look fine. Let me give you a hand. Do you live here?’ he asked motioning back towards the house.
‘Yes, with my sister Katie. I’ll be OK though, I don’t need your help,’ Jasmine said struggling to her feet again and starting to limp towards the door.
‘Sure you are, but I’d feel better if I saw you to your front door safely. I would hardly be a gentleman if I abandoned you in this state,’ he said as he held her arm and supported her as she hobbled along. ‘What were you doing out in this weather anyway. Surely you should be snuggled up inside trying to keep warm.’
Jasmine blushed, ‘I was, but then I saw you and came out to see if you needed help. Now I look a right fool don’t I? I am such an idiot sometimes,’ she said with a nervous giggle. ‘So are you alright. Where are you going to at this time of night and in this weather?’ She turned to look at the man.
He kept his eyes on the door as he replied, ‘I was trying to get to my grandmother’s house to see if she was coping. My car then got stuck down the road and then my brother rang me to say he was already at her house anyway. Therefore, I was attempting to walk five miles back home. If you think you look an idiot, what do you think I am, suicidal?’
They both laughed as the finally reached the door, and the man opened it. ‘Well I hope your knee is better soon,’ he said turning as though he was about to leave.
‘No, wait,’ Jasmine blurted out, ‘you can’t go out in that as you said it is lethal out there. Come in and stay here for awhile.’
The man hesitated, ‘OK, if you are sure your sister won’t mind.’
‘She won’t mind at all,’ Jasmine replied as he followed her into the house.
Katie looked around as they entered the room, ‘I wondered where you had got to and who is this?’ she asked glaring at Jasmine.
‘This is,’ she paused and looked at the man, ‘I’m sorry I don’t know your name.’
‘Sorry I’m Julian,’ he said introducing himself.
‘I’m Jasmine and that blob on the sofa is Katie. I’m sorry the house is a mess,’ she said as she threw a pile of stuff into a cupboard and out of sight. ‘Please sit down, make yourself at home.’
Julian sat down as Katie stuck a hand out of her blanket in order to shake hands with him, ‘Lovely to meet you. My sister is always bringing waifs and strays into the house; you know cats, dogs, and random axe murderers.’ Katie glared at Jasmine.
‘Maybe I should go,’ Julian rose to his feet, ‘I’m terribly sorry I didn’t mean to trouble you.’
‘Katie,’ Jasmine snapped. ‘Don’t be so rude. We cannot send him back out there is this weather.’ She nudged Katie gently, ‘Think of the homeless. You wouldn’t wish anyone to be outside in the snow especially on Christmas Eve, would you?’ She stared at Katie as she guessed at what sarcastic remarks would be running through her mind.
Katie sighed, ‘Oh don’t mind me I’m just teasing. I can see you don’t have your axe with you. Of course, you have to stay. I would offer you a cup of tea, but the power is off.
‘Thank you,’ Julian said perching back down on the edge of the chair. ‘So do just the two of you live here?’
Jasmine opened her mouth to reply just as there was a whirling sound and the lights burst back into life.  ‘The power is back,’ she exclaimed.
‘Really, I would never have guessed.’ Katie teased her, ‘Well Merry Christmas everyone. Let’s get the turkey in the oven,’ she said standing up and heading towards the kitchen, ‘I assume you are staying for dinner. You can’t go anywhere in this weather,’ she added walking out of the room without waiting for an answer.
Jasmine looked at her watch, ‘Wow it is seven o’clock already. Where did the night go?
She looked across at Julian, for the first time noticing what he looked like. In her mind, she thanked Santa for bringing her such a good-looking man on Christmas Day.
Julian had a good build about him, with blue eyes and a mop of brown curly hair. He looked so smart despite his trek through the snow. She smiled to herself, jumping as her phone beeped. She picked it up, and read the message – Merry Christmas. She turned the phone off as she put it back into her bag.
‘Who was that from?’ Julian asked, ‘Your boyfriend?’
‘No,’ she said as she smiled. ‘It was nobody important. I don’t have a boyfriend I am single.’
‘Really? I am surprised. How come someone as lovely as you hasn’t been snatched up a long time ago?’ Julian asked, leaning forward in his chair.
Jasmine shrugged, ‘I just haven’t met the right man yet.’
Julian beamed at her, ‘It is good you aren’t prepared to settle for second best.’
Katie breezed back into the room throwing Jasmine a questioning look, ‘So can we open the presents yet? I love Christmas don’t you?’
Jasmine stood up and drew back the curtains, letting the daylight in, ‘Yes I do,’ she answered looking at Julian.

Drowning of Innocence

The blue sky was etched with silvery clouds. We had spent the day playing on the beach, and body boarding. It was one of those days when the innocence of childhood seems as though it will last forever.

The family holiday was going well. It had been a lovely day as we drove along the twisting roads towards the harbour. My mum had seen it featured on calendars many times and longed to see it first hand.

As we neared the harbour the blue sky was quickly being eaten away by dark storm clouds. Despite it being a July day there was a sudden feeling of winter in the air as I got out the car with my parents. We had come this far though and nothing was going to deter us from viewing this breath taking place.

As we walked down the road, huddled up in our coats, a small group of teenagers walked past us. They were laughing and talking loudly almost as if they were excited about something. Maybe they just loved feeling alive?

The storm had now descended into a scene of anarchy. The waves leapt over the harbour wall, as the harbour swirled like a bubbling cauldron. Spray blew into our faces making us turn away as though we had no right to act as witnesses. People shouted above the din of nature’s orchestra in full effect.

Suddenly I was aware of the teenagers once more. They entranced me as they danced through the waves. Like moths they dodged and dashed towards the light; the light at the end of the harbour wall. I was mesmerised by their quest.

A figure dressed in a red jacket, turned, cheered his hand upon the light, he bowed to his audience who were stood watching silently. Silently watching as the sea loomed up behind him; no time to warn him and yet it took an eternity to hit him. A gasp went up for the harbour side as the spirit of the sea took its revenge for his taunts.

Motionless people strained their eyes as the storm beat out its war cry. Searching until finally a screaming head emerged. Deathly screams that chilled me more than any wind could.

People ran, there were shouting as older people emerged from the pub; pulling away the friends who held out their hands to the shrieking blob so close and yet out of reach. The confusion and panic seemed as wild as the storm.

Then there was a whirling sound coming towards us, over the cliffs a helicopter appeared liked an angel out of the sky. The atmosphere relaxed slightly as men pointed to the shape being tossed around; hope was reborn. The helicopter came lower, drowning out the screams, showering us with water. This was it, perfectly positioned over the head below, the man jumped out. No time for a harness, I held my breath waiting to see the two shapes pulled back up.

The sea screamed once more as the wind competed with the helicopter draft. The waves churn, as the man hit the water.
Then there was nothing. I wondered where the boy had gone; I could not see him. I know he was there! My eyes saw nothing else but the lack of a red jacket peeping out of the angry waves. I couldn’t hear anything but the silenced screams. It was as though someone has turned down the sound. The storm howled in delight, but I could no longer hear it. I waited for the final scene that never came.