‘The Kissing Game’ Chapter 9, Short Story Serialisation, by Milly Reynolds

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Elena had taken herself off to the spare room, the very room where Michael had said she had sleep walked in to the previous night. One thirty and she still wasn’t asleep, she was simply too apprehensive, too much going on in her head. Once more she lay back and opened another book she’d borrowed from Mary. She came across a reference to the fact that most children were baptised within two or three days of birth, at least until more recent times. This was because of the much higher rates of child mortality. It made her think. With that thought in her mind, she lay the book down and closed her eyes. 

The room was dark, quite small. Long curtains were closed, just a peep of light came through a gap. Outside there were distant voices, so she opened the curtain a touch to see. It was the canal or river she had seen before, though there was less activity this time, as if it might be evening. As she turned away, she noticed a mirror with an ornate frame on the right wall. Keeping the curtains open, she looked at it. Elena had the clearest blue eyes, a smooth, ivory complexion. She brought a hand to her face, touching the soft flesh.

“I am… quite beautiful,” she whispered.

She recognised the room, the bed in the corner where someone was lying. Walking up to the bed, she recognised him, though he made no move, as if he was asleep. She peered more closely; then he opened his eyes, slightly.

“Elena,” he croaked, weakly, “you have destroyed me.”

She stepped back as he reached out, trying to touch her. “What’s the matter with you? Is it something I’ve done?”

“Elena, you have destroyed me.”

She felt a sudden unease. “What have I done?”

He tried to smile, though it seemed to be difficult. There was pain written all over his face, emotional as well as physical discomfort.

“Just… tell me who you are.”

His hand fell limply by his side, a weak gaze remaining fixed on her where she stood. 

“Don’t go!”

Kneeling down she put a hand in front of his face. There was no breath. She checked the pulse on his wrist: nothing. His candle had burned out. Elena closed his eyes, reached forward and kissed his cheek. Then she sat on the chair next to the bed. Tears began to well up in her eyes, though she wasn’t sure why. Did she know this man? And if so, how?

“I want to come out of this dream now,” she said out loud, wiping her eyes. Yet she remained in the room, apparently present in some time which may have been four hundred years ago. She began to feel queasy, quite strange in fact. So she stood, but had to sit down again, feeling quite faint. She bent down on all fours and was sick into the empty chamber pot by the bed. There was no cloth or tissue to use, so she wiped her mouth on the bed sheet. Suddenly without the strength to get up, she lay on the floor, closing her eyes.

Elena felt the gentle stroking of her hair. Opening her eyes, Michael’s concerned face was examining her own.

“It was quite a shock to find you lying here.”

“Where am I?”

“The toilet, I see you’ve been sick. Something you ate last night, was it?”

“No,” she said, faintly, “I don’t think so. What time is it?”

“Six o’clock. Have you been like this before, recently?”

Elena thought for a few seconds. “A little yes. I thought it was the lack of sleep.”

Their eyes met, instinctively, though neither dare ask that most pertinent question. Michael helped her to her feet and led her back to bed.

“Get some sleep, I’ll take the day off, it won’t matter.”

“I’m not sure I want any sleep.”

“Hm, because of him? This strange kisser fellow?”

“Maybe,” she said, laying down her head, “though I get the feeling that I won’t be seeing much more of him in my dreams.” 

“I like the sound of that. I’ll get you some water.”

copyright Milly Reynolds 2020

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‘The Kissing Game’ – Short Story Serialisation Chapter 2, by Milly Reynolds

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Elena Trimble was a young astrologer. It was an unusual career but she loved it. While studying psychology at university, she had done a brief course on the ancient art of astrology – and was hooked. She did individual birth charts, a kind of modern psychological astrology, you might say. She didn’t believe in the mumbo jumbo prediction aspect of it, that the future can be clearly seen.

“So what’s this about today’s date, then?” Michael was speaking around a rather large piece of toast he was chewing.

“I’m pretty sure it’s to do with the dream. Dreams can speak to us in symbols and allegory.”

Elena had written down everything she could remember. The dark place she had found herself with this man could have been a church, or perhaps a chapel. Dreams were ruled by the Moon and perhaps the planet Neptune, she figured, hence the allegories, signs and symbols. She was trying to get a clearer view, not only of whom this person was, but what he was trying to say. And why did he kiss her?

She sipped her morning cup of tea, looking out onto perfectly still day, the sunlit grass, the frost slowly dissipating. “Let’s say we were in the chancel end of a church. There was a window ahead of us, though it wasn’t letting in much light, like it was nearly dark outside. There was a book open.”

“A bible, perhaps?”

She shook her head. “It was more like some kind of…parish record?”

“A register.”

“Yes, very likely a register. I felt sure he was directing me toward this book, as if to an entry in it. I remember the number twenty three quite distinctly, you see. I didn’t see it in the book, it just popped into my head out of nowhere.”

“Hm. Maybe he whispered it into your ear after kissing you.”

“Funny, ha ha.”

Elena began to surmise that twenty three could have been either a christening, a birthdate, or a burial. The fact that today was February 23 might be meaningful. There didn’t seem to be much else to go on. There was his general appearance, she supposed, slightly taller than her five feet four inches. It was the eyes she remembered, large, chocolate brown and loving. She didn’t recall being at all scared by him.

“Elena, you need more to go on than just a number.” Michael was placing the breakfast dishes in the sink.

She joined him with her own dishes. “I know, that’s why I’m making sure I take my notebook and pen to bed again tonight.”

Michael looked at her, seriously. “You’re expecting him again, are you?”

“I don’t know, but I’d better be prepared, hadn’t I? I get the feeling he’s got more to say, that’s all. I’ve never had a dream of this clarity.”

Michael had that pretentious little boy lost look in his eyes. “So should I be worried?”

“Hm.” Elena took his hand and kissed it. “Worried? About a figure in my dreams, maybe only figment of my imagination?”

“Nevertheless,” he said, examining her hand, “he evidently makes a good impression.”

copyright Milly Reynolds 2020

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Rudyard Kipling Born Today 1865

www.reddit.com/r/FreeEBOOKS/comments/ehka7k/happy_birthday_rudyard_kipling/

He was a man of his time, born in India to British parents, into a culture which was to inspire his output: ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘Kim’ being two of his more famous works.