‘The Kissing Game’ Chapter 4 Short Story Serialisation, by Milly Reynolds

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That morning, Elena virtually pushed Michael out of the door. Today wouldn’t be about astrology per se. It would be about research. But first, she felt the need to confide with her great friend and neighbour, Mary Allen. Luckily, she was free, which she normally was after her recent retirement. Around thirty years her senior, Mary shared Elena’s passion for history and she knew a fair bit about astrology as well.

“I can’t sleep anymore, Elena. Nearly forty years of teaching has burned me out.” Mary began to bite at another chocolate digestive, she said it was making her coffee ‘less wet’. There were crumbs all over the kitchen table.

Elena was staring thoughtfully out onto the cold, dormant garden. “Well, thank God I was never a teacher.”

“Quite,” Mary brushed back her grey hair, “so what’s troubling you? I can tell these things. There’s another man, isn’t there?”

“Hm.” Elena looked directly at her friend. “You may joke, but you’re right, that’s why I’ve asked you round.”

“Cripes! Thank Heaven I never married. Come on then, spit it out, girl.”

“Mary, it’s not a real man.”

Mary Allen sat bolt upright, her chewing temporarily paused mid bite. “A woman?”

“No, no. Michael and I are fine.”

“Not a real man, you say.” Mary’s eyes narrowed, quizzically. “I came across plenty of those at school. Some of those heads were absolute demons, you know.”

“I’ve met him twice in a dream, the past two nights in fact. I’m in this dark church and, well, he’s there.”

“A dream. A vicar!”

“He’s no vicar.” Elena put down her coffee mug. “He knows my name and he likes to kiss me, on the lips.”

“Ew! Now that does sound gross. Not tongues as well?”

Elena felt herself beginning to smirk. “No, I think he might be quite a gentleman at heart.”

Mary took a deep breath. “No gentleman would scare the living daylights out of you in a dark church, Dear Elena.”

“I’m not scared, Mary, that’s the thing. But last night, as soon it began to get light, he went back out like a shot.”

Mary was nodding. “Mn, typical male, misogynist, leaving the poor woman alone in a cold dark church. They’re all the same, aren’t they?”

“So I began to follow him but it got lighter and lighter as I got to the door – then I woke up.”

Mary reached for another biscuit. “Do you know what this reminds me of?”

“I haven’t got a clue. Surprise me.”

“Hamlet’s ghost, that poor old soul having to disappear at soon as the cock crowed at the dawn.”

Elena watched Mary dunk the biscuit in her coffee. “The ghost of Hamlet’s father having to return to purgatory, you mean?”

“Because he was murdered without his sins being forgiven, all those ‘imperfections on his head’, so to speak.” Mary stared thoughtfully at what remained of her biscuit, its edges still dampened by the previous dunk and bite. “But we don’t believe in purgatory, do we Dear?”

Elena looked at her. “I’m not sure what I believe, Mary, not anymore. You could say it’s just a dream but when you’re in a dream it’s the only reality you know. Your consciousness can only be in one place.”

“Yes, and it does feel real, doesn’t it? This sounds very Neptunian, don’t you think? The transpersonal world contacting you.”

Elena had to agree. “Transiting Neptune is right on my ascendant now, funnily enough. I do have a strange sense of dissolution, confusion right now. And the experiences of the past two nights have left me feeling quite faint at times.”

Mary was pointing directly at Elena. “I’ve never believed in coincidences. Never.”

copyright Milly Reynolds 2020

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