‘The Kissing Game’ Short Story Serialisation, Chapter 6, by Milly Reynolds

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The following day, Elena was too tired to work in the morning. In fact she felt quite sick until she had a piece of toast. She asked Mary Allen if she fancied a walk in the park. Thankfully for Elena, she did. Wrapped up well against the chill, they sat on a sheltered bench overlooking the river, where a collection of ducks were huddled together for warmth, contemplating whether they should ask for some food.

As ever, Mary was right on the case. “Is there anything else going on in your birth chart, apart from the Neptune transit?”

Elena nodded, vaguely. “Well, transiting Pluto is coming into opposition with my natal Venus in the fifth house.”

Mary looked concerned. “Ooh, your love life is going to change.”

“Mn, I’ve been thinking that, or it might just mean a kind of creative clear out.”

“Cripes, you’ve lost me there, girl. The fifth house is about children too, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but as I don’t have any, it might be more to do with children of the mind. If I’m honest, Pluto scares the pants off me.”

“Really?” Mary took out some bread from her pocket. “I thought this gentleman didn’t scare you.”

“No, not him, I mean Pluto.” She watched Mary throw pieces of bread towards the ducks who all came waddling over. “Astronomers can classify him as a minor planet now if they like, but as far as I’m concerned, Pluto is still very powerful, a heavy weight.”

“Wait there!” 

Elena flinched, looking across at Mary. She had suddenly sat forward. “The H you saw in your dream last night.”

“Go on.”

“Only a guess, a stab in the dark..”

“Yes?”

Mary leaned toward her, raising an eyebrow. “Could H stand for Hades?”

Elena was watching a mallard duck scramble awkwardly out of the water, rushing to join the feast. “Hades is the Greek name for Pluto.”

“Eureka!”

“Hold on, though, it was only an H. It might have stood for Hercules, Henry, Humphrey, Hermione… it might not even have been an H at all.”

Mary was touching her arm now. “What if you were Persephone? The way you described yourself to me in that dream, it sounds a bit like her.”

“I couldn’t get out of that room, but it wasn’t in the underworld, if that’s what you mean. It was a bright, clear and warm day this time.”

“If I remember correctly, Hades can come into this world occasionally, according to one version of the myth.”

Elena pulled the woollen hat over her ears. “But I’ve only ever seen this man in my dreams.”

Mary touched her arm again. “Are you sure about that? Think, girl. Hades spots Persephone in a field of flowers, I believe, falls in love with her instantly.”

Elena laughed out loud. “A field of flowers? In February? Where am I going to find that? Madeira?”

“I’m only recounting the story, Dear… Elena, are you alright? Elena?”

She felt even colder now. A memory from the other day was replaying in her mind, over and over.

“Elena, come on – out with it.”

She sat up. “So, it might be nothing, but on Saturday morning I went to the florist. I wanted some daffodils to brighten the house up, remind me that spring was on its way.”

“As you do.”

“I don’t often go there, but there was a new guy serving, clean cut, clean shaven, but now I think of it, he had that dark hair and those eyes, kind eyes, the sort that make you stop in your tracks. And he was certainly very friendly, in a quiet sort of way.”

Mary swivelled towards her on the bench. “If he was that gorgeous, how could you forget about him, not make the connection to your dreams?”

Elena rubbed her tired eyes. “I know, but I did. Maybe it was the change of context, so I didn’t think it was related. That was real life and we’re talking about dreams, aren’t we?”

“And he had very similar features to the man in the dream.”

“In retrospect, yes.”

“Elena, Dear, you must go back there, to the florist.”

She looked at Mary. “I don’t think so.”

“Why not? Are you scared?”

She had to think about that. “Yes, a bit, if I’m honest. Michael would be furious if he found out.”

“Nonsense! I mean, does he need to know?”

“So what are we saying here? The god Hades works in my local florist? I’ve got more chance of finding Elvis working in the chip shop.”

Mary paused, looking at the river. “It does sound rather bizarre, I have to concede. But even so, it’s all we’ve got right now.”

“You’ll come with me, won’t you?”

Mary took both of Elena’s hands in hers. “Just you try and stop me, girl. I’m loving this retirement. And it’s not every day you have the chance to meet a living god, is it?”

“Mary, please, don’t say that.”

copyright Milly Reynolds 2020

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‘The Kissing Game’ Short Story Serialisation, Chapter 5, by Milly Reynolds

couple kissing
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The following night Elena was finding it difficult to sleep. Half past midnight and she hadn’t had a wink. She couldn’t blame her husband, despite the fact that he was snoring away beside her, as he often did. 

She still felt little fear, not knowing what to expect when she fell asleep. So she reached for her book again and began to read. Very soon, however, she her eyelids began to drop. The book fell open beside her along with the bookmark.

***

So where was she? This was no church, not this time. A warm light was cascading in from a very large, medieval style window with decorated stone tracery. And she felt hot. Walking up to the open window she looked out. Below her was a river, or maybe a canal, thronging with boats and people, predominantly men in strange clothes, a scene of hyperactivity. The sides of the canal were gorgeous, the multi-coloured tall buildings rising up spectacularly before her, though most looked as if they had been recently built, or perhaps restored.

Something was telling her to look behind. Yes of course, he would be there, sitting with a swan quill in hand, gently smirking at her. He was wearing a loose fitting white shirt, open a little, revealing a few dark hairs on his chest. His long dark brown hair was swept back. She looked down at her own clothes, a green dress reaching to the floor, shimmering in the bright light.

Elena walked up to him as he was dipping the quill in ink. There was a closed book with a dark red leather cover beside the ink pot, right on the edge of the table. “Please tell me what this is all about.”

“Elena, this is a dream.” She heard the voice but it wasn’t coming from his mouth, which remained closed, his dark, liquid eyes gazing up at her.

“Who are you?” She touched the table where he was sitting, it felt so real. Then he stood, pulling her gently towards him, kissing her.

“Elena, this is a dream,” she heard, as their lips parted. He was staring into her eyes, as if he was communing with her soul.

“Please just give me some signs, symbols.”

Elena looked down at the piece of paper in front of him. Reading it upside down, she could make out what looked like a large H.

“An H – is that what your name begins with?”

His expression gave nothing away, no affirmation.

To the left of the table was a rather large, yet basic looking bed, unmade, the off white sheet tossed and crumpled up by the white washed wall. On the floor was what looked like a flagon that might have contained wine. And two used and empty goblets.

Elena walked back to the window. A chorus of men’s voices working on the canal came up from below through the opening; sailors, porters, businessmen and their lackeys. A slight breeze was wafting around her face, cooling her cheeks. There was the smell of fish, meat and vegetables cooking somewhere, too. She touched her hair, it was longer, blonder, thicker, so she pulled a few strands down over the top of her green dress. Green seemed to suit her in this realm, whatever it was. To her left, she noticed a door. There was a large key in it. Walking up, she tried to open the door but it was locked. She turned the key but still it wouldn’t open. Elena eyed him. He was sitting back now, smiling while he laid the quill on the table. With that, the large book beside him slid off and thudded on the wooden floor.

***

She awoke with a start. The book she’d been reading must have fallen off. Michael was stirring too.

“Are you ok?” he croaked.

“I can’t sleep, that’s all.”

“Is it me? Am I snoring again?”

“No,” she lied, “it’s not you.”

Michael turned over again, leaving Elena to search for things on her phone.

copyright Milly Reynolds 2020

‘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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