Abarta

I woke up last week on a Sunday, quite early, with a dream stuck in my head. It kept buzzing in my skull so loud, chanting ‘write me’, ‘write me!’. So I decided, ‘why not’. So this is the weird dream I had.

I named it ‘Abarta’ because the hero of the story reminded me of the mischievous God from old Irish tales.

I hope you enjoy reading it.

Ann’s fingers tapped impatiently on her desk.

As the clock slowly ticked every second for Ann seemed to expand into hours, then those hours seemed to expand into eternity until Ann felt that no time had passed at all. Her teacher yapped on and on.

Ann’s eyes wandered out the window, staring at the gorgeous sunny weather where the insects buzzed in heated frenzy and the sky seduced her with its gorgeous sapphire blue.

Ann found her feet tapping, our young lass couldn’t wait for the bell to ring, for her freedom to be given. With the ending of this class it would also signify the beginning of the Summer holidays. The start of relaxation, days of doing nothing but sun-bathing on the trampoline she had in her garden, eating creamy ice-cream or sucking flavoured popsicles to her hearts content. Ann couldn’t wait for Summer where she could lazily chatter with her friends, go shopping, be free to take matters at her own pace without the pressures of homework, studying or exams. Yes Summer, to Ann the very word itself gave off a refreshing scent that relaxed her. Ann wanted to grab her Summer by the coattails and jump into his welcoming embrace.

She looked away from the window towards her teacher, it seemed like his senseless speech was coming to an end. She could feel it, and not just herself, everyone in Ann’s class sensed it. Students sat up straighter, grabbing their bags, their legs positioning themselves to sprint towards the door. Their eyes inadvertently staring out the window with fervour. Ann felt the tension, it made her gulp. The sticky heat caused her long black hair to stick to her neck, her uniform wet with sweat. She began loosening her tie.

“It’s sad that this is the last day I’ll ever be teaching this class. I hope this has been a fun lesson for you all. Soon you will be moving on to bigger and better things, whether that will be employment, higher education, or an apprenticeship. No matter what you do I wish you all the best. I hope everyone has an amazing holiday and at the same time you are all safe and careful.” Babbled the teacher. “Now I’ll see most of you at the upcoming graduation but for some of you this is the last time. I wish you the best on results day. I want you all to know that it has been an honour to be your teacher…” Despite the tear-jerking and lovely speech being given all Ann heard was ‘blah blah blah’. Her eyes were focused on the clock. ‘Damn it’ she thought to herself, ‘only one more minute to the bell rings, can’t he just let us out early for crying out loud. I can already hear people running in the corridors, just let us go already!’

It was as she thought these exact words that her teacher, who was now crying, said, “Okay all of you just go.” A second after a shrill bell rang throughout the school and through Ann’s classroom. In that moment most of the students, including our protagonist, heartlessly ran out. She rushed through the corridors weaving between the chatting teens or pre-teens, straight into the overwhelming heat wave outside, and she continued running desperately until she was at the entrance of the school, near those black steel gates.

There she halted.

She stood next to the gates waiting. Stood there as rows upon rows of students walked past her or cars drove by. Ann stood there even as her friends called out to her, she refused to leave with them. Her eyes were continuously darting as she searched for someone, and then he came.

A male student walked out of the building surrounded by many other peers. There are a variety of characters all chatting and cheerful, yet among them he stood out. There’s this frivolous air about him. With a glance, you can tell he’s popular, especially with his tall height, and handsomely sculpted features. Nicholas, that is the name of the boy Ann waited for. He caused her heart to pound erratically, her eyes to light up, and her fists to clench. Step by step with his envoy of peers as he walked ever closer and closer towards her, Ann found her face becoming red. As he walked past the gate for two seconds his eyes connected with hers. For our Ann, these seconds pleasantly felt like hours, however in reality seconds are only seconds and quickly the moment passed and he was gone. Ann slumped and leaned against the gate.

“I blew my last chance… Yet again I couldn’t talk to him…I’m such an idiot. You’re such an idiot Ann…I’m such an idiot.” She said to herself over and over. Ann stood outside the gate for a longer period, even though she no longer had anyone to wait for. It was only when she saw the school caretakers with their large keys starting to lock up, did she move.

‘Right’ she thought to herself, ‘I was heading home.’ She pulled her rucksack closer to her body, and as bitter frustrated tears cascaded down her cheeks she turned out the gate onto the street beyond.

Our dear Ann walked down the mismatched pavement of which was all shades of grey, she found herself wandering aimlessly. There is a saying that home is where the heart is, perhaps that’s the reason why Ann could not find her way home while her heart was in disarray. You see Ann had a very common youthful worry. This worry is love. Since the day Ann had begun school, going back to her nursey days, there had always been one boy that she had kept her eyes on. He was Nicholas, he was beautiful, kind, intelligent and sporty and was the type of person that would always be surrounded by a crowd of people. Nicholas was someone that many people loved. In contrast Ann, although a very pretty girl; with clear soft skin, long silky black hair and large emerald eyes of whom had many secret admirers, was also a very shy and introverted individual. She wasn’t outgoing and only had a small set of close friends, her quiet nature prevented her from ever approaching Nicholas. For years she watched him from far away, admiring him, however now she could no longer do this. Summer signified the last day of Secondary school and the last day of her ever-seeing Nicholas. She had thought that today she could gain the confidence to finally approach him but instead all she could accomplish was looking at him from afar, as usual.

Drops of water began to fall on the ground, almost as if the heavens were crying in pity for Ann, the summer humidity turned into grey clouds and a damp nauseous smell permeated the air. Startled Ann quickly searched through her rucksack and pulled out her umbrella. As she opened it up and looked at her surroundings she suddenly realised she was lost. Somehow and at some point, she had ended up at a crossroads, the way behind and in front looked the same and there were no signs indicating her whereabouts.

‘Where on earth am I!!!’ she thought, slowly starting to panic.

“Do you need my help?” asked a deep and sultry voice. It was clear and loud and Ann heard it above the sound of the rain, almost as if it was whispered in her ear. She jumped in fright and looked left and right but she saw no one.

“Down here, love.”

Ann found herself glancing down. There she saw a young-looking man, he was sitting in the middle of the road getting soaked in the rain. When our dear Ann saw him, her heart couldn’t help but quicken slightly. For he was the most gorgeous person she had ever met, even more beautiful than Nicholas. His skin was so fair that he looked like snow, his hair was platinum in colour, he had long eyelashes and those eyelashes framed stunning almond eyes. His lips were plump and pink and all his features were perfectly symmetrical. Perhaps it was his hair or eyes but to Ann this man seemed almost celestial.

As their eyes met he gave her a wide smile. “Ann, do you need my help?” he asked.

Ann was so mesmerised by his appearance that it took her a few moments to realise that he said her name.

“You know me!?”

“Well of course, do you not know me Ann?”

Ann found herself at a loss, she could only shake her head in response and stare, she couldn’t remember ever meeting him and was certain that she would remember someone so stunning if she had.

He made a sad expression, his lips pursed and his brows furrowed with irritation. Then he sighed, “I guess that is only natural, most mortals never remember a trip to the otherworld on the night of Samhain.” As he said this he slowly got to his feet, as he stood all the rain magically stopped, as if he was controlling it.

He walked up to Ann and cupped her face in his hands and stroked her cheeks. “My beloved you have been crying.” He softly purred. “You shouldn’t cry.” He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her.

Ann was shocked, surprised, thoroughly taken aback. A man she had never met before was telling her nonsense and had hugged her. In this type of situation, she should have felt terrified and ran, for all she knew this man could be dangerous or had some perverse ulterior motives, however in his embrace Ann felt warm and comforted. She found tears spilling from her eyes and she held him tighter and hugged him closer.

Ann and the strange man held each other for a long time. It wasn’t until she heard a happy jingle from her pocket did she hastily withdraw from him. She rustled in her blazer and pulled out her mobile phone. It was her Mother.

“Why aren’t you home yet? Do you know it’s five ‘o’clock? I thought your school finished early today, why aren’t you home yet?”

Ann had to hold her phone away from her ear as her mother barraged her with questions, “Is it really five…sorry Mum. Mum. Mum! Calm down, I just got lost along the journey. I’ll be home soon. I stayed at school a bit longer…umm to talk to the teacher and then it was raining and I got a bit lost…Don’t worry about it. I’ll be home soon…Yes, I am hungry, so please leave dinner for me. Thanks Mum, cool I’ll see you soon.” Ann hung up the phone sighing.

“Pffft”, she heard a snigger, the strange man was laughing. “Your mother and yourself have a lovely relationship now, that is good.” He stated and continued to chuckle.

Ann blinked, she had never told a soul about her past issues with her Mother. When she was young she had told her Mum she could see fairies and had spoken to Gods. Her Mother had thought her crazy and in her younger years she was constantly put through therapy. After that she could never feel comfortable around her Mother or tell her honest feelings for a long time. Their relationship had gotten better though.

Ann felt scared because she had never told anyone about that. How did he know? She began to wonder if she actually had been close to this stranger.

He flashed her a mischievous grin and grabbed her hand. “I should re-introduce myself as we walk home together.”

“W-w-w-w-w-w-w-walk h-h-h-home t-t-t-together?” Ann stuttered, her face scarlet.

“I know the way.” He claimed and pulled her along with him as he confidently strolled in a random direction. Ann helplessly followed him, intrigued.

As Ann walked with the gorgeous stranger she noticed the sky transition into a purple hue, the clouds came lower until the ground itself was covered by a cooling mist. The streets transformed into a forest. Soon they were walking past trees heading up a steep mountain.

“My name is Abarta.” He whispered, his words were carried by the wind into her ear.

As Ann heard these words shock filled her eyes. “Abarta! You can’t be.”

“I told you I’d come back for you.”

His grip on her hand tightened.

“Forget your mortal worries, forget that boy Nicholas. Forget your mother. I am all you need”

A spell was cast each time he said forget. Ann could no longer remember Nicholas or Mother. Nothing mattered anymore. Ann felt herself becoming tired, her head heavy. Her phone dropped somewhere along the way.

As they walk deeper into the mist Abarta said, “Do not worry Ann, I will look after you. All of us have missed you so much.”

We did miss our dear Ann. As Abarta took her to the Otherworld, we watched her each step. We whispered to each other in joy. This time we will keep our Ann, we said to each other.

Forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lifetime of Wishes.

I entered the Dragonflytea short story competition earlier this year. I didn’t end up being a finalist or winning the competition but I put a lot of effort into writing this entry so I hope you enjoy reading it.

 

Word limit: 3000 words. Theme: Journey’s

A lifetime of wishes 

“Bye!”

“Bye!” I yell back as I walk out of the store. I can’t wait to get home. I’ve just survived a freaking twelve-hour shift. I must have been insane. I know I need the money but this is really ridiculous.

As I walk around the corner I childishly flip off the store, ‘fuck you’ local supermarket. Putting my middle fingers proudly high and wagging them up and down in the air. I feel satisfied, as if I’ve done it to my Manager’s face, of course I haven’t because that would have been retarded. I am not in the financial position to go running around flipping off my employer.

Shit I’ve wasted my life, I think, as I pull out my pack of Benson and Hedges. I shuffle through my back pockets and find my lighter. It’s quite an old lighter made from pure silver that I got dirt cheap from a gypsy at a bar a few years back. On the front of it is engraved the sign Macrocosm. It’s one of my most impressive possessions, I am weirdly fond of it, sometimes I can’t sleep without it. It’s a weird lucky charm. Perhaps that’s why even though I know I can make a lot of money selling the thing, I never have.

I sigh, take a long drag and watch as the smoke rises into the cold sky. “The sun has set by now. The night is on the prowl, he’s got his stars glaring down at us all, and his moon following us wherever we walk”. I whisper to myself, guess I’m feeling poetic this evening.

Soon I’ll be home, I’ll jump onto my bed and sleep for five hours before I’ll be out of bed again, running to another shift at my other part time job. Damn, am I only twenty-one, it feels like I have worked for a lifetime. Kids my age are at University and thinking about the future, or well into their apprenticeships, some of them have families already. What do I have? I have nothing. I was kicked out of my house when I was eighteen. I’ve never been good at school, I’d already stopped attending by sixteen after I flunked my GCSE’s. Now I am just living in a shitty little apartment, in a weird neighbourhood. I am single, heck the only romance I get my way is one of my creepy colleagues whom would stare at my ass from time to time. If I didn’t care about my job I would have given that pervert one serious beating by now. To summarise, I’m lonely.

I take another long drag on my cigarette and turn down a dark alleyway. I know the saying, the one that says if you’re walking home at night don’t go down dark alleyways, as you never know whom or rather what might approach you, but with my sorry excuse for a life I am long past caring about such things.

As I walk I pull my coat collar higher up around my neck, there’s quite an icy breeze trying to invade my personal space. Maybe I should buy a scarf? I guess I’ll do it tomorrow. My hands are also cold. I rub them together but the only warmth I really have is from that cigarette.

“Smoke and I, a lifelong companion, he’ll even bury me, what a sweetheart.”

I laugh at my own morbid thoughts; my voice echoing out. There are no streetlights here, as my voice echoes it feels like there could be a crowd of people laughing around me, laughing at me, and I just can’t see them. Well isn’t that eerie.

My cig is but a stub now and I throw it onto the floor and stamp it out with my foot. I shuffle through my pockets yet again and pull out my packet of Benson and Hedges, take out a slim cigarette and my lighter. As I flick on my lighter, the spark catching alight, the dark alley is illuminated and I see a face staring at me, only a hairs breadth away from my own.

“Arggghhhh!!!!”

I scream of course, I’m a coward through and through. I take a few steps back, preparing to run to the safety of the store when I feel a hand on my elbow firmly holding me there. In that moment of terror all kinds of thoughts and horror stories go through my mind.

“Hey. Hey don’t run off. I don’t mean any harm. I was just curious.” Says a deep, rather soothing voice.

As the moon comes out of the clouds I see a young man, perhaps around my age or younger, he looks he’s been through the ringer. His clothes are basically rags and he smells like he hasn’t had a shower in years. Piss and beer bottles, that type of smell. From the grime on his face the only part that made me aware he’s a person are these bright blue eyes that shine out like freaking floodlights. He has pretty eyes. I mean… well they are pretty…I don’t mean it in any other way.

This man with the blue eyes, who is holding onto my elbow tight, is using his other hand to point at my lighter, specifically the symbol of Macrocosm.

“That. Do you know it is the sign Macrocosm? Fludd said that Man is the microcosm of the universe, the head of man is the Empyreal, the chest the ethereal heaven, and the human belly is the elementary substance. It’s an old sign that I haven’t seen in a very long time, makes me nostalgic.”

His blue eyes stare at me intensely as his finger runs slowly up and down the design on my lighter. To be honest I am freaking out. Perhaps this man is on drugs or something, with the way he looks and smells I won’t put it past him.

I nod and say, “yes, it is the sign of Macrocosm, you’re pretty smart, aren’t ya.” I smile at him. With people on drugs you never patronise them or treat them like they’re crazy, he could get violent any second. Just smile and nod.

“Say, you look like you deserve yourself a treat, you look hungry.” I shuffle through my back pockets until I find my wallet and take out a £20 note, I fold it and put it into his hand. His fingers are ice cold, damn, and real skinny. I feel bad so I take out another £10, even though I don’t have enough money for myself, but heck street kids or runaways like this need all the help they can get. I’ll think about what I’ll do for food another time. I press the extra £10 into the same outstretched hand.

I expect the guy to run away after this, I mean he got thirty quid off a stranger, he must be freaking ecstatic. Maybe he’ll run off to his little mates and then before I get home I’ll be ambushed and attacked, but so what, this is my act of kindness for the year.

Yet instead of all that he shakes his head at me.

“No, I can’t accept this. It is too much.” He grabs my hand and puts the money back into it and squeezes my fingers into a fist around it and smiles at me. It’s a real big gorgeous smile. I feel my heart pitter patter and clench and it reminds me of why my Dad kicked me out of the house. It’s because other men made my heart flutter.

Even so this was a bit much, seriously heart, are you fluttering for some street man just because he smiles at you and gave you back your money? I must be going crazy. I, Mason Daniels, have finally lost the plot.

I find myself shoving the notes back in his hands and saying, “I would feel better if you take it.”

His blue eyes flicker like flames and look me up and down. “You’re a good person, and you have a very good heart.” Then he pauses, his fingers caressing the money. “However, I can’t take this for free, so I must repay this kindness…. but I have nothing… except…. then I have three things I can offer you.”

“Three things!?”

“Yes, I have three wishes I can give you. Wish any three things you want and I will do my best to make your wishes come true, however keep in mind that if your wish exceeds the value of the £30 you’ve offered me, then you will have to give me something in exchange to equal the extra cost of your wish. In that way, we will have an equivalent exchange.”

I feel my head spinning. What is going on, what on earth is this guy talking about?

“So basically you want to give me something in return for the money, but you have nothing, so instead you’ll offer me three wishes, like I.OU’s but they can’t exceed the value of £30 or else I am going have to pay that cost.”

He nods, “Something like that.”

“Okay…”

This guy is seriously weird, but it won’t be wrong to tease him a little, he is asking for it.

“Okay then I want one pack of Gold king size Benson and Hedges to appear in front of me right now.” I say jokingly, expecting him to run to the store to buy some, that way by the time he gets back I would be well on my way home, and then at least after his purchase he would still have around £20 for himself.

I laugh, it is an ingenious plan.

Then the guy outstretches his hand and a Gold king size pack of Benson and Hedges falls out of the sky and right into his palm like magic. A second later an ASDA receipt flutters down into his other palm. “That was £10.24, you now have only £19.76 to spend on the rest of your wishes.”

My jaw drops open, my pupils dilate and drool begins to leak from my mouth. No way. No freaking way is this happening. I just want to complete my journey home and not meet some freaking Dynamo. There must be some trick to that. Maybe he pick-pocketed me, however I am still holding my only pack of cigs in my right hand, and on the ASDA receipt he is holding up, in the right-hand corner is the date and the exact second, he bought it. I look at my watch it is twenty-one past eight, only a minute after the time on the receipt. I snatch it from his hand, staring at it intensely. I’m at a loss, this can’t really be happening, can it?

How? I nearly say the word out loud, but then it crosses my mind, maybe I’m being scammed, maybe he wants me to be impressed and wish for bigger things and then when my next wish goes over the value some thugs will come out from somewhere, forcing me to pay up or something. This must be some sick joke. Yet as I look around, there doesn’t seem to be anyone else other than that young man who is now smiling at me innocently like butter would melt in his mouth. Can it really be magic? I want to believe.

I’m shook.

This time I should be careful but at the same time I should make sure it’s magic, right? What should I wish for? I got it.

“I wish that you were all cleaned up and nice looking!” I declare boldly. My logic being that if I am being punked or targeted then a cig pack could easily be ready and a receipt prepared. Maybe this kid knew my shifts and my routes home and had planned it all in advance, but with this wish, unless he magically transforms in front of me, there is no way he can fool me.

“Oh.” The guy has a surprised look on his face. I want to laugh, I feel proud of myself that I’ve bested him, but then he says. “Wow, you made a wish for me, you really are too kind.”

As he says this his clothes seem to emit some steam, the grime and dirt on them fades bit by bit until they are bright and look practically brand new. They even seem ironed. His shoes now look polished. His black hair that was shaggy and overgrown prior is now nicely styled and cut into a low fade with a long fringe. All the dirt on his face and body dissipates with a playful pop. He is now an extremely handsome young man. Other than his alluring blue eyes he has very even unblemished skin, he has a straight pixie type of nose, his brows are thick and arched in a mischievous way. He looks like a model walking straight out of a magazine. I find myself suddenly unable to look at him straight, I find my heart pounding. What the hell is he?

“Thank you so much, it has been such a long time since I’ve felt so refreshed. Now you have £5 worth of wishes to make. Going to the laundrette” he gave me a few receipts, “was only £3. There was a public bath house for the homeless, I went to it for free, but getting my clothes ironed at a dry cleaner and even a haircut was more expensive than I thought. I got the hair cut at a discount though, trust me, it was an apprentice barber that did it.” He gave me a huge grin. “What do you think, do I look good?”

I can’t speak. I’m too stunned. All I can do is nod and hang my head in defeat.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” I mumble

I look up and we stare at each other. I don’t even know what I should wish for.

“Say, how much is it to wish to know your name?”

His eyes widen. “Silly, that’s free of course.”

“Ohhh… then…ummm, may I humbly know what your name is?”

“Whoa, you don’t have to be so polite.” He pats me on the shoulder. “My name is Fraus, pleasure to meet you. What is your name?”

Fraus? Is it German? I remember reading somewhere that Fraus is Latin for mischief. It is a nice name.

“Errr… My name is Mason, Mason Daniels.”

After I tell him his smile gets ten times bigger, impossibly big and he shakes my hand fervently, pumping it up and down.

I can’t help myself, my curiosity is at its peak and the question slips out. “Ummm…Fraus…What are you exactly?”

In response, he slowly stops shaking my hand and outstretches his pinkie. “You have to promise never to tell.” I extend my pinkie automatically, and like children we swear on it.

“I am a Jinn, a good Jinn though. I help people and grant wishes.” I stare at him, I can’t believe it, I love my old myths and legends, is he telling me he is a Genie. Seriously?

“Wow.”

“Wow? It’s nothing to be proud of.” He proclaims bitterly, “currently people aren’t as faithful as they used to be and are less kind and a lot more cautious. Unlike what you think Jinn can only exchange one thing for another to make a wish. We don’t have the power to create something from nothing. In the old times when living was more difficult many people required our help, but in this modern era, I’m a member of a dying and forgotten race. I can’t live without making wishes, yet no one wants their wishes made.” He moans, there is a deep sadness in those blue eyes. He sighs a weary and heavy sigh.

“Then why don’t you make wishes for me.” My face went bright red, the words come out before I can stop them. “I mean it doesn’t have to be money, right? What if you just came home with me and in exchange for helping around my house and stuff I give you a place to live or something…”

What was I saying?!!!! I want to dig a hole straight to china. I am so embarrassed.

“If you wish for it. If you wish to have me take care of your home and then in equal exchange you let me live there…then that is perfectly fine!” He is beaming at me, his eyes bright.

“Then…then.” What am I saying, this is crazy…but did I have anything to lose? “Then my third wish is for you to live with me and help me until I die.”

Huh…what did I just wish for? That wasn’t what I was supposed to wish for? That was basically a marriage proposal, am I crazy. He’s going to freak. I close my eyes scared to see his reaction to my words.

Then I feel arms around my waist. He’s hugging me. “Thank you, thank you so much! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to repay your kindness. I’ll spend a lifetime, making your wish come true.” he whispers in my ear.

I can’t believe what I’m hearing.

“Well then” he says, tugging my elbow. “Let’s go home.”

I find my mind frozen in disbelief. Even as we walk through more dark alleyways together, then onto a well-lit street and into my building, I still can’t believe it. Even as we get into the elevator together and the journey home is complete as I turn my key inside the door to my apartment. I still can’t believe it. There must be some catch to this. What if I’ve walked into a trap? Have I sold my soul to a demon?

He smiles at me brightly, “So Mason,” he asks, “is this our home?”

When he smiles like that though, I stop caring about the consequences. I smile brightly in return.

“Yes, this is our home.”