Of Darkness and Light Extras

Obviously there are going to be spoilers here! Please don’t look here until you’ve read the e-book! You can find it on Amazon, search ‘Lily Crussell’ Also bear in mind that these parts are all from unfinished copies of the text so will have typos etc. I’ve left them in to give you an idea of how things change. Enjoy x

Previous opening;

This was the previous opening of the book while I was working on it. I couldn’t think of a good way to start it, so here it is in it’s original form. It leads into the scene where we meet ‘Jack’. As you can see, that’s quite a lot of story missed out! Orginally, Elora was going to be hassled by the Neph because of her relationship with ‘Jack’ (my personal preference) but an agent and professional critiquer both said that was pointless and nothing was happening until she met ‘Jack’ which is true.

16 was supposed to be sweet and 18 was an adult, I was sandwiched between the two. 17 today! No longer a kid and not taken seriously enough to be counted as an adult, though I was cynical enough! I wasn

’t sure how I felt about the whole thing. It was just another day as my parents wouldn’t let me skip school (though I was currently walking through the town centre having ditched after English…)

They had already left when I woke up this morning, a pile of beautifully wrapped gifts and cards on the dining room table, but it wasn’t the same. Not that I’d admit that all I wanted was to see my mum and dad. I’m too old for that now.

But what to do for the rest of the day? My best friend Thomas was off sick (though he had sent a sweet text this morning) and ditching school wasn’t much fun on your own. There was also the fear of getting caught. Everyone knew everyone in this town, no doubt the teachers had spies everywhere!

I walked in a trance, away from the crowded streets, winding side roads and alleys, my feet finding their way. I hadn’t realised where I was going until I got there.

Yes it was morbid, but it was quiet.

The cemetery.’

 

Another Opening!

This is yet another opening I was playing with, but it gave too much away I though, not least revealing that Elora will meet Lucifer which I think it something of a ‘nice’ surprise if you don’t expect it;

“And so the Earth was formed within six days, the seventh a day of rest as it still is for a lot of Christian groups….” Ms. MacDonald continued, not noticing that the class weren’t paying any attention, other than my best friend Thomas- devout Christian and all round good guy.

I rested my head on my hand and began to drift, watching Thomas’ rapt expression, though he had heard this a thousand times or more.

Religious studies were lost on me if I was honest.

So how was it an unbeliever like me managed to be in a relationship with an angel and frequently had coffee with Lucifer? Just this morning I had been having a debate with the angel Barachiel about the existence of aliens, though he knew the truth, he wasn’t allowed to spill.

I’ve found it’s easier just to let things happen, to know that whatever will be, will inevitably be and that there is always someone, or something looking out for you even in the bleakest times.

I have seen all that I have, and still fall asleep in R.S. Lucifer would be proud.

I try to stay silent and ignore everything Christianity related that comes up. Ms, MacDonald didn’t appreciate my essay on why Lucifer is misunderstood, or how I snort every time she refers to him as Satan. I know the truth.’

 

Additional Scene;

Every agent who commented on the book (most send out a standard reply) stated that they couldn’t understand the relationship between Elora and her parents. It was unrealistic. To be fair, people I grew up with had worse relationships, but I realise that a book is a product, and as such has certain expectations placed upon it. This scene had originally been in the book, but the critiquer said she thought it was pointless. I felt it explained a little more about her background, but needs must, and it was hacked out!

My house (my parent’s house, but for all intents and purposes, my house) wasn’t huge. Had my parents been around more, it would have felt crowded. It had two small bedrooms, the larger being my parent’s (thought why they bothered I don’t know. The bed and personal items were more like props then actual furniture.) Their cupboards were mostly bare, just the odd pieces of clothing they had either forgotten, or couldn’t fit in their suit cases. My mother’s overflowing jewellery box had always had a pull for me as a child, the sparkling stones and shining metals were difficult to keep my hands off. They had been perfect for dress up, playing princess’ or pretending to be my mother in a pair of heels that gaped off my feet. She had always damn near murdered me when she caught me wearing anything from her collection, but how important could they honestly be to her if she left them behind? And where did that put me on her list of priorities if her jewellery was more precious?

At 13 Thomas and I had dissected the room in morbid fascination, looking for things that kids shouldn’t see or know about. We were disappointed. There wasn’t enough in here to find anything amongst. I remember it so clearly because it was the day I realised my parents just didn’t care about me.

“Elora, we really shouldn’t be in here!” Thomas had squeaked. My current au pair had nipped to the shop across the road, so we had to be quick.

“Thomas, don’t be such a wuss! What’s she going to do? Tell on me? My parents aren’t going to travel half way across the world, from god knows where, to punish me. They’ll just spout some crap about being disappointed the next time they call…”

If they call.” He finished for me.

“If they call.” I echoed.

“I love you, we don’t need them.” He said, pulling my ponytail and trying to give me an encouraging smile. It faded on his lips.

“I know. I don’t need them.” I didn’t know who I was trying to convince.

Thomas pulled open my mother’s wardrobe, his mouth dropping at how empty it was. I was only half surprised. I never came in here, I wasn’t allowed, but what had I expected? I think I had secretly been searching for a hidden note from my mother, telling me how much she loved me. That she had no choice but to travel because she was a spy, or a queen, or some wonderful reason that justified her absence.  Maybe they really wanted to be here, but couldn’t, so they kept their distance from me emotionally so that they didn’t miss me when they were gone.

I had abandoned the cupboard and was searching the chest of drawers when I heard Thomas gasp.

“What?” I asked irritably. It didn’t take much to warrant a surprised reaction from him.

“Elora, look!” He had a photo album open across his knees as he sat cross legged on the floor. I turned away from the drawer, slamming it closed in a huff, and sat next to him.

“What is it?”

“A baby book.” He said quietly. “You know, those ones where you write about baby’s first hair cut, baby’s first bath….” He trailed off.

“So they did care!” I said excitedly, pulling it off his lap and flipping it to the front page where it listed the birth date, name and birth place.

My eyes searching the information hungrily. It wasn’t my name.

“William James, Born 7th September…” I trailed off. He had been born a year before me.

I flicked through the pages. They were filled to the brim with photographs, lovingly scrawled annotations and even a curl of his hair. I ran my fingers over the soft locks and sighed.

Thomas was silent beside me, his mouth hanging open, but no words manifesting themselves.

“He must have died. And they had me to replace him. But then realised I couldn’t replace him so hated me…” My vision dissolved into a world of tears, everything shimmered and bent as my lashes became saturated with them.

“Elora…” Thomas placed a hand on my shoulders.

I sniffed, slammed the book shut and shoved it back where it had come from.

“It’s fine. It doesn’t matter. We should get out before Suzy comes back.” I roughly swiped at my eyes and stalked from the room.

We never spoke of that day again. Thomas didn’t want to upset me and I just didn’t want to even think about it. My parents never brought it up and neither did I. They had wanted children. William had obviously been planned, or well loved, even if my mother had been far, far too young. When he had died, they had simply had another, but I had been a disappointment. Maybe they wanted a boy. Maybe I had been an accident and reminded them of the beloved child they’d lost. Maybe they should have been more responsible and used birth control. Whatever, it was too late now. And no benefit would be gained from crying over something I couldn’t change.

It made me treasure Thomas all the more, but made me extremely untrusting of adults. What would happen when I became one? I just knew I had to learn from the mistakes my parents had made and ensure I didn’t make the same ones.

Yet another opening!

This was the VERY FIRST opening, when I was just writing whatever came into my head and intended to change it later on. Elora sounds pretty depressive! The book was originally called ‘Cemetery’ as I couldn’t think of anything better!

‘I had to get away from the town centre, away from the people, the stares, the comments.

My hometown was the epitome of why I hated my species.

If England had the highest underage pregnancy rate in Europe, my hometown was its epicentre.

Children pushing children in prams, children with swollen stomachs, cigarette in hand, mobile phone glued to ear.

I wished I could be kinder, but it was everywhere I looked. I was disappointed. And ashamed. Why did they not aim for more?

I could hardly talk; I had been drifted from dead-end job to dead-end job for years now, completely unsure of what I wanted and where I was going. At least they all had a reason to get up in the morning.

I walked in a trance, away from the crowded streets, winding side roads and alleys, my feet finding their way. I hadn’t realised where I was going until I got there.

Yes it was morbid, but it was quiet.

The cemetery.’

 

Variation on the kitten scene

The person that critiqued my book wasn’t happy with the kitten scene, so I changed it! This is how it was originally. I would say enjoy, but it’s morbid!

‘With everything put away, I wanted to see my babies, but Raziel stopped me.

“Elora, go upstairs.”

“What?”

“Please, just go upstairs.”

“Why, what’s going on Raziel?”

“I don’t know.” He sounded angry, but not at me, at not knowing. He was as vulnerable as I was and he didn’t like it. His stance had become wary, his knees slightly bent and his fists clenched as though he expected to be attacked at any moment.

I was terrified.

“Please Elora, go upstairs, close the door and wait for me.”

I could feel my bottom lip begin to tremble as I forced my legs to move. They were unwilling and shaky.

I closed the door to the bedroom, unable to sit still, pacing in circles, back and forth, my hands twisting and fighting each other as I paced.

I couldn

’t hear anything down stairs and was afraid.

It was bad enough that I was a stupid mortal and couldn’t sense things like Raziel, but the fact that I couldn’t hear anything meant he could be in danger.

I couldn’t do this.

I waited a further couple of minutes, or at least, what felt like that, it may have been seconds.

I opened the door slowly, peering around it and edging my way downstairs slowly.

I avoided the middle step as it had a habit of creaking and got to the bottom surprisingly quietly for a mortal.

The living room door was ajar and I could hear Raziel whispering.

He must have been talking to the kittens and forgotten to call me.

I instantly felt calmer, my heart rate slowing a little, preparing myself to tell Raziel off for scaring me.

I pushed the door open, expecting to find them all sat on the couch.

They weren’t on the couch.

Raziel was slumped by the patio doors, his body hunched over as he whispered softly. I expected to see a large pair of eyes watching me with impatience, but the kittens were no where to be seen. They must have been lying at his feet, warming themselves in a sunbeam and having their stomachs rubbed.

It was then I noticed the red smears on the patio doors.

‘YOU WERE WARNED.’

I must have gasped as Raziel turned, his eyes full of tears.

“Elora, please go back upstairs.” His voice cracked at the end.

“What’s happened?” I asked, but I think I already knew.

The red smears were blood and the kittens were nowhere to be seen.

“Elora go upstairs, I’ll come up and explain.”

“That’s their blood isn’t it?”

Raziel nodded, trying to block from view the worst part. I tried to step around him, I knew I shouldn

’t look, I didn’t really want to see, but f I didn’t, it wouldn’t be real.

“Don’t Elora. Don’t look.” Raziel couldn’t get to his feet to stop me as he was using his body to block the bodies.

I hesitantly stepped closer, able to see over his shoulder.

The two tiny bodies were lying in twin pools of blood, very little of the fur white anymore. Both were slit the length of their tiny tummies, their entrails hanging out like loops of sausages.

I was nearly sick, but I swallowed deeply.

I bent down and stroked the closest one’s head, without their eyes open, I couldn’t tell which was which.

The closest one’s tongue lolled out of its open mouth, the head turned to the side at a sick angle, as though they had been tossed around like rag dolls. How ironic that that was what breed they were.

I swallowed again, trying to keep the gorge down.

One had its eyes open, its head turned away. I gently tilted it towards me.

Azrael.

I stroked his still head, his tiny white teeth prominent on the jaw that hung wide in a silent scream.

I apologised over and over, for not being here, for not protecting them, for their tiny short lives.

Who could do something like this?

I felt Raziel’s arms circle me from behind.

I continued stroking the little fluffy heads, the only parts not matted with the thick blood that was congealing in the sun.

It didn’t feel real. How could something so full of life be lying dead at my feet? How could anyone bear to do that to such an innocent little thing?

I began babbling after that, wanting them buried, buried in blankets or something soft so they would be warm, and together so they wouldn’t be alone. Could we bury a couple of feathers with them so they knew they were loved? Could we say prayers for them? Who did this? Who could do this? Why? Why? Why?

I woke up the next morning to find Raziel watching me, his eyes full of concern.

“Did it really happen?”

He nodded sadly.

“I buried them, in the way you wished.” He said softly, his grey eyes pained and tired looking.

I had never seen him look tired before.

“Who did it?”

“I do not know.” He said quietly.

I could tell he felt guilty that he couldn’t identify the bastard that did this, that had been in our home and killed those poor precious kittens. I’d barely had time to get to know them. They were only babies.

I couldn’t cry, I didn’t know why. Possibly due to disbelief or rage. Whoever did this…..I wanted to make them suffer. I wanted to cause them pain.

I lay back and rubbed my eyes as though that would change what had happened.

“I want to hurt them too.” Raziel said softly.

I looked at him in surprise.

“I have never wished harm on any other creature, but whoever….whatever did this…..I want them to suffer. I want to send them to Lucifer myself.” His voice was as soft as ever but with an undercurrent of pure rage.

It frightened me. Not because I thought he would hurt me or anything like that, but the fact that a creature made to love, now hated.

He watched me as I thought this.

“I will not leave you, ever. I can not risk it.” He brushed my hair from my eyes.

“You’ll be sick of me in a week.” I tried to joke, but I felt too wretched.’

Just Elora and Raziel

A scene that didn’t add anything to the story, but made me smile.

‘We got home and I busied myself with chores, all the things I should have done for weeks and had neglected. Raziel vacuumed which sent me into convulsions of laughter. There’s something about seeing a man with huge white wings pushing a vacuum around the house that could have sent a person over the brink of insanity.

“This amuses you?” He raised an eyebrow, taking out the tube from the handle and chasing me with it, the suction trying to take in the corners of my clothing and loose strands of hair.

I couldn’t breathe I was laughing so hard. He abandoned the vacuum and grabbed a nearby feather duster, chasing me up the stairs in an attempt to tickle me.

I managed to trip over my own feet half way up and collapsed in a giggling heap. Raziel couldn’t stop himself in time and became tangled in my flailing legs, falling over me, making an impressive effort not to hurt me.

I had never seen him look remotely uncoordinated or ungraceful, this was a first.

His grey eyes shone in amusement.

“You looked almost human then.” I said with a smile.

He brushed the tangled mess of hair out of my face and grinned.

“I can think of worse insults.” He scooped me up in his arms and lifted me up the remaining steps, dropping me on the bed gently.

A tickle war ensued, I was losing obviously. He knew what I was going to do before I did it. I didn’t even know what I was going to do!

He flicked on the radio and grabbed my arm, spinning me in circles to Fall Out Boy’s ‘Dance Dance.’

I can’t dance. I love to, but I can’t. At least I had no reason to be self conscious, he could see every time I’d ever danced in my mind, at least, he could see any time I had danced in front of a mirror. He could only see what I had seen.

I wasn’t the hugest emo/pop/rock/nu metal/goth fan in the world, but I LOVED this song, it was impossible to not dance to it.

Raziel can dance unfortunately (though he can do EVERYTHING) and was putting me to shame, spinning me and guiding me through complex steps, catching me when I fell over my own feet.

I supposed he had seen every dance craze that ever existed and had had the time to learn them all.

He grinned in response to my thoughts, his eyes bright with energy.

I collapsed at the end of the song, my feet having kicked the crap out of each other with my clumsiness, my shins equally beaten.

“I’m going to have to take you dancing. We could join a class.” Raziel said, his grin stretching wider at the thought.

It sounded wonderful, but I didn’t know how comfortable I’d be embarrassing myself in front of a group of people. It was bad enough just doing it in front of Raziel.

“What kind of class?” I asked, panting, pushing my hair from my face, feeling a bit ashamed of how unfit I was.

“Salsa? Ballroom? Tango? You choose.” He smiled.

Salsa had always looked fun and energetic enough to abate the unfitness guilt.

It could be fun. It could also be very messy. If I had to dance in heels, my shins would be cut to ribbons from where I would undoubtedly kick myself.

Luckily, Raziel didn’t seem to feel physical pain on the same level as I did, so I didn’t have to worry quite so much about injuring him in the process.’

Thomas

Thomas was originally a stranger who began working with Elora. There was another girl called Nikita who worked at the cafe, and Thomas worked weekends. Originally, Elora had dropped out of school, but the critiquer and agent felt that it was both ‘a bad example’ and ‘irrelevant to the teen audience’ as most teens would be in school at her age. Fair point. Plus Elora had NO friends, hence Thomas becoming the childhood friend. The end involving him is the same, but they have history now, and his willingness to help makes more sense! Here is a scene where Elora is asked out by the poor boy.

My colleagues at work had been informed about what had happened, the coffin part anyway, and had been told not to talk about it in front of me, to be kind and patient with me and to try to be understanding.

It was almost worse than if they asked me outright. That would be better than the avoidance and the sympathetic looks filling their eyes.

I had missed a lot, not just whilst I had been in hospital, but before then, when I had been in my loved up dream world of oblivion.

The place had gotten a café, situated in the corner of the floor I worked on, a tiny box of a thing with two employees.

It would have escaped my attention if the manager of it hadn’t come to talk to me.

“Hi! I’m Nikita.”

I looked up from the desk I was sat at to see a pair of deep brown eyes. She was smiling at me brightly, the only person to do so in a long time.

“Hi. I’m Elora.” I tried to keep the despair from my voice, but I knew my eyes couldn’t hide it.

“All employees get a free coffee or hot chocolate, can I get you one?”

I was tempted to be offhand with her, to push her away as I had managed to do to everyone else….but I couldn’t do it. There was something so sweet about her, so friendly and genuine. She didn’t have to approach me after all.

“That would be wonderful, thank you.”

“Come on over and take a seat, what would you like?”

I followed her over to the café (three tables with seats and a box/cash desk to make the coffee from.)

“A hot chocolate please.”

“Good choice, not a lot of things that chocolate can’t fix.”

I smiled, it felt fake and uncomfortable, but at least I tried and Nikita didn’t seem to notice it was lacking.

She walked to the ‘box’ and told her colleague my order.

He was young, I couldn’t guess his age, but then, I’d always been awful with ages. He could have been my age or slightly younger, tall and slim, bright bluish eyes and a shock of curly hair. He was cute, in the way a baby animal is cute. It was hard to see males in the same way I used to. They were all lacking when I compared them to who I had lost.

Nikita pulled up a chair next to me and sat down. She was very pretty, long black hair and of Indian/Asian descent I guessed. She was attractively short, in the sense that a guy would feel the need to protect her, but there was a feistiness in her eyes that made me think she could more than handle herself.

The ‘boy’ brought over my hot chocolate and a coffee for Nikita, he met my eyes and smiled slightly, evidently shy, before returning to the ‘box’.

“That’s Thomas,” Nikita explained. “He’s quite shy.”

I nodded and blew on my hot chocolate. It felt like an age since I’d had a proper conversation with a normal person. Mary was different, she was a nurse, it was her job to care. It was effortless as I knew I probably wouldn’t see her again once I set foot outside the hospital.

This was much harder, mainly because I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry, not exchange pleasantries or make new friends.

It felt pointless. Trying to start over was redundant. I didn’t want to. I also had Barachiel’s visit hanging over my head. What would my decision be?

Nikita was waiting patiently, having asked me a question that I had completely missed.

“Sorry, I fazed out there, what did you say?”

She smiled sweetly and began talking again, about the new café (box), everyone who worked here, the weather, what she’d seen on T.V. It was wonderful. She kept the bad thoughts at bay without needing much in the way of response from me.

I simply sipped my hot chocolate and nodded, ‘hmmming’ and ‘ahhhing’ occasionally.

It was nice to have sugar in my system again. I hadn’t eaten properly since leaving hospital. I just didn’t feel hungry, picking at things, pushing food around my plate but not actually eating it.

Nikita chatted on, her voice like a good storytellers’, making the normal sound fascinating. The details were lost on me, but I was aware enough to make the right noises in the right places.

Every time I looked up, Thomas was watching me. When I caught his eye, he would look away quickly, blushing.

Hot chocolate finished, I politely said goodbye to Nikita and waved briefly to Thomas, returning to my desk and the mind numbing monotony of it all.

I was sorting paperwork, my mind wandering into dangerous territory, when I heard someone approach.

“Uh…Hi Elora, right?”

I looked up. Thomas.

“Yeah.”

“We’ve got some flapjacks that need finishing before the day is out, would you uh…like one?”

I felt my eyes widen slightly, why was he bothering to talk to me? I was giving off ‘Don’t talk to me’ vibes constantly.

“Thanks.”

He walked back to the ‘box’ and returned with a plate, a solitary flapjack sat in the centre, looking sad.

I hesitantly took a bite, chewing thoughtfully, deeply uncomfortable at being watched eating.

“It’s good.” I said to break the silence.

I sat again, trying to imply in the kindest way I could, that I wanted him to leave.

He hovered about the desk, stepping from foot to foot nervously.

“Would you like to sit?” I asked pointing to a chair.

He pulled the seat out, tangled his long legs on the chair’s and nearly fell over before righting himself and sitting down, blushing the whole time.

This wasn’t going well.

“So….uh….how long have you worked here?”

“Too long.” I said, returning to my paperwork.

He seemed very sweet, but I just didn’t need to deal with this right now. I was still torn between what I was going to tell Barachiel. My week would be up tomorrow.

“Oh……” He looked around him for inspiration.

I watched him out of the corner of my eye, not looking away from the paperwork.

“Did you uh…..want to go for a coffee after work?”

You’ve got to be kidding me.

“I’m sorry?”

“Did you want to go for coffee….uh…after work?”

I took a deep breath, rubbing my temples with my fingers. Something I had come to realise in my half starved state was that I had very little patience when I wasn’t eating properly. I was also very very mean. I had to be careful to do this nicely. Would he believe me if I told him I was gay?

“That’s very kind but……” I was preparing to launch into the ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ speech, one that I had never had to give before in my life. I was hardly fighting men off with a stick.

“That’s a no.” He finished for me.

I felt awful.

“Normally, I would love to, but….things are severely messed up right now and I need some time to figure things out.” Keep the clichés coming Elora, that’ll make him feel better.

“No….I uh….I get it, you don’t have to make excuses.”

“I’m not, really I’m not, I’m just not good company at the moment.”

“Oh.”

“Maybe you should talk to one of my colleagues about me, they’ll set you straight.” I rubbed my temples again, feeling the start of a killer headache. At least pain was a distraction.

“Maybe I will.” He said ominously, getting to his feet and walking off slowly.

I sighed deeply. I was an awful person.

(Here would be the scene where Barachiel wiped Elora’s memory)

Chapter

I woke the next day feeling well rested, but hazy. It was a beautiful day, the sun shining brightly, no clouds in the sky. The kind of day that makes you want to walk around with a big stupid grin on your face, whistle as you walk to work and actually provide good customer service.

I sat at the desk on my dept, happily tapping away on the keyboard, replying to emails and doing all the other pointless busy work, but it felt good. It felt like stepping out from under a rain cloud.

My mind seemed a little blurred, as though I hadn’t completely woken up yet, but that was ok, my job hardly required me to be on top form, I could probably sleep walk through most of it.

Nikita approached the desk, a hot chocolate in hand, placing it before me with a smile.

“Good morning Elora.”

“Good morning Nikita, beautiful day isn’t it!” She looked a little freaked out by my enthusiasm and smile, but I supposed that was due to the fact that most of my colleagues were manically depressed due to this place.

“I hear Thomas asked you out yesterday.” She grinned and tilted her head, watching for a response.

“Did he?” I frowned. When did that happen?

“Yes, he asked you out for coffee and you refused, told him you weren’t good company and that he should ask your colleagues about you.” She clearly was a gossip. Who could blame her, there was very little else to do here.

“I really don’t remember that happening.” I was a little alarmed, but didn’t let it spoil my good mood.

Nikita looked at me as though I had spat at her.

“You don’t remember it?”

“No, not at all.” I shook my head to clear the fog that seemed to be filling it.

“He’s devastated.”

“Are you serious? Why would anyone want to ask me out?” I laughed, but Nikita didn’t join me.

“He’s very shy, you kinda crushed his confidence.”

“I’m so sorry.” I blinked several times, things feeling a little out of focus.

How could I forget it happening.

“Would it help if I invited him out after work?”

Nikita smiled her brightest smile, the one that would dazzle the customers and ensure people ordered more than just a small coffee.

“Sounds like a good idea.”

She smiled again before walking back to the ‘box.’

Why didn’t I remember that happening?

The day continued to get weirder and weirder as it went on. I was called to the HR office mid morning to find two police officers waiting for me.

My heart leapt into my throat, the usual reaction to cops. They made me feel guilty even though I knew I’d not done anything wrong. Had someone died? Or been hurt?

I could feel my heart rate accelerate as I imagined every worse case scenario, my breathing too fast as I was being taken over by panic.

“Take a seat Elora.” One of the cops, indicated the chair opposite.

I was starting to feel like I was about to be interrogated.

“I’m sure you know why we’re here.” The one who spoke was in his mid forties, greying moustache, eyes creased with laughter lines. He wasn’t remotely intimidating…..apart from his uniform.

“Uh….actually I don’t.”

“We came to see you before, at the hospital, but were told to come see you when you were better. How are you feeling now Elora?”

I hated the way he kept using my name like an adult does when speaking to a child.

“Hospital?” I said dumbly.

“Yes, you were in hospital for a couple of weeks after the incident.”

“Incident?” I knew repeated what he said wasn’t helping anything, but none of this made any sense to me.

“Yes Elora, the incident.”

I must have stared at him vacantly as he exchanged a look with his partner that said I was probably crazy.

“Elora, do you not remember what happened?”

“When?”

He looked confused.

“You were buried alive Elora. Surely you must remember that.”

I laughed nervously.

“If that had happened, I can assure you, I wouldn’t forget it.” The laughter died in my throat as his eyes widened.

“Elora, are you trying to protect someone?”

“I don’t know what you mean.” I really, genuinely didn’t.

He sighed in frustration.

“Elora, three weeks ago you were found, six feet underground in a coffin.”

“Surely I’d be dead…..”

“There was a tube leading to the surface so you could breathe. You were in there for days, we don’t know how long exactly, you’re lucky you were found when you were. Any longer and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

I stared open mouthed at the words coming out of him.

“Officer, I have no idea what you are talking about, could you have got the wrong person?”

“Elora, I was there, I helped dig you out, you don’t forget seeing that.” He had a fatherly way of speaking, his mannerisms obviously rehearsed to put me at ease. It didn’t though. I felt full scale panic.

“Then why don’t I remember it?” I was panting, near to hyperventilation. Black spots were appearing in front of my eyes, my head pounding with pain.

“Elora, calm down….Elora….Elora….”

——

I woke the next day feeling well rested, but hazy. It was a beautiful day, the sun shining brightly, no clouds in the sky. The kind of day that makes you want to walk around with a big stupid grin on your face, whistle as you walk to work and actually provide good customer service.

I sat at the desk on my dept, happily tapping away on the keyboard, replying to emails and doing all the other pointless busy work, but it felt good. It felt like stepping out from under a rain cloud.

My mind seemed a little blurred, as though I hadn’t completely woken up yet, but that was ok, my job hardly required me to be on top form, I could probably sleep walk through most of it.

Nikita approached the desk, a hot chocolate in hand, placing it before me with a smile.

“Good morning Elora.”

“Good morning Nikita, beautiful day isn’t it!” She looked a little freaked out by my enthusiasm and smile, but I supposed that was due to the fact that most of my colleagues were manically depressed due to this place.

“I hear Thomas asked you out yesterday.” She grinned and tilted her head, watching for a response.

Something clicked. This felt eerily familiar.

“Haven’t we had this conversation already?”

Nikita frowned, looking a little confused.

“No….I think I’d remember if we had.”

“Must be Deja vu.” I said forcing a smile. How weird!

She smiled in reply and sat down next to me.

“Thomas was heart broken that you turned him down.”

I figured as I’d already had the conversation before (albeit in my sleep or insane daydreams) I could skip the middle part.

“How about I ask him out after work?”

“That would be great!” Nikita said with entirely too much enthusiasm. It was almost as though it was her I had disappointed.

She smiled at me warmly, as though we had suddenly become best friends, and walked back towards the café.

I sipped my hot chocolate thoughtfully.

What just happened?

Work was weird. Everyone avoids me or looks at me in sympathy. Did I miss something? Or have I had a huge blow to the head and had huge chunks of my memory knocked out? Surely I’d get headaches if I had.

It was most likely nothing. This place had its mini dramas that threatened to cause strikes and mass quitting, before it all blew over and was forgotten again. I had been the subject of a couple of these incidences to find that it was forgotten about before I even found out what I’d done to offend people (usually nothing, Chinese whispers and rumour.)

I found it safer to keep my head down and get on with my job, it would all be over by tomorrow.

I nervously approached the coffee shop, Thomas looking up, meeting my eyes and then looking away. Nikita evidently hadn’t warned him.

“Hi Thomas.”

“Hi Elora.”

“I was wondering if you wanted to go grab a drink after work? We finish at the same time I think….” I trailed off.

He was staring at me incredulously. I could feel a rejection coming on.

“I’d love to.” He smiled.

“Great, I’ll meet you outside when we’re finished.”

“Ok, see you then.”

I walked back to my desk confused. Why did I just ask him out? To make Nikita feel better? Yeah, he was cute, but for some reason I failed to see any appeal. Don’t get me wrong, I could see why other people would find him attractive. He was tall, dark and mysterious due to his shyness. He seemed very sweet and innocent, the kind of guys most girls would love to corrupt….but I just felt….nothing. No attraction, nothing.

It didn’t end with him either, there were customers I knew I used to be attracted to, but now…..

Thomas was waiting for me outside when I walked out, I’d nearly forgotten I had agreed to meet him, not really in the mood, just wanting to go home and have a bath.

I adjusted my face accordingly, trying to summon up the good mood I’d started the day with, plastering a smile on my face.

He greeted me warmly and asked where I wanted to go, was I hungry, did I have a good day?  I tried to give more than one word answers, but I was starting to feel a bit morbidly depressed.

The whole day had just been weird and now I was going out with a guy I didn’t want to go out with. That hot chocolate hadn’t been free after all.

We walked into town, stopped at one of those over priced coffee shops that charge a week’s wages for an espresso (something I’m not even tempted to try) but he paid and carried the tray. I felt a little guilty as I had asked him out after all.

It was a warm evening, tea and caffeine avoided for the sake of the heat, settling on one of those extortionate smoothies.

Thomas sat uncomfortably opposite me, his back not touching the chair, he was so tense, so uncomfortable…..so familiar.

Something was screaming out at me to be remembered, but it was like trying to remember a dream. Certain things will set off a tiny snippet of it, but you can’t remember the whole thing, fading more and more as the day goes on.

This had to be more than Déjà vu right? Or was I going crazy? Probably best not to think too deeply, just in case I am actually losing it.

Thomas was watching me curiously, my expression must have shown the internal argument I was having with myself as he looked a little confused.

“So Thomas…..tell me about yourself.” People like to talk about themselves apparently.

“Uh….what would you like to know?”

“Favourite movies? Music? Hobbies?” I reeled it off like reading from a list, trying to add interest to the tone of my voice when in reality, I just wanted him to talk and fill the silence. I wanted to stop thinking.

“Uh….well, I don’t watch many movies or much T.V to be honest. I …uh….read a lot of books.”

“What’s your favourite book?”

“The uh…..the Bible.”

My eyes widened in surprise. I’ve never met anyone my age who’s even read the bible, let alone would choose it as a favourite book. I tried to keep a light, fluffy expression on my face. One that didn’t make it look like I thought he was a freak, which I didn’t, but I’m more than aware that my expressions tend to go through extremes.

“Oh.” I said, forcing a smile and taking a large sip of my smoothy.

I frowned. It tasted…..

“What’s your favourite book?”

I snapped my attention back to him.

“I have tonnes.” I said dismissively.

This felt all wrong. Something was going on inside my head. Something very bad.

Just sipping my drink had flooded my mind with tiny fragments of remembrance, but none of it made any sense.

“Are you ok?” Thomas looked at me in concern.

“Yeah, brain freeze.” I tried to smile, but it just felt alien.

“So what are your hobbies?” I pushed the drink across the table, not wanting to risk sipping it again.

“I don’t really have any, but I travel occasionally with my youth group.”

“Youth group?” It sounded like some kind of community service. Did he have a criminal record?

“Yeah, the youth Christian group I belong to.”

“Oh.” Again with the brilliantly intelligent responses. This was painful.

“So uh….what do you do with your youth group?”

“We give talks in schools, have a choir, meet with other youth groups….” His eyes had lit up talking about it. It was obviously really important to him.

“Talks in schools? About saying no to drugs and that kinda thing?”

“No, about God.”

I froze.

“Oh…..that’s nice.”

He grinned, oblivious to my discomfort. But why was I uncomfortable? Religion didn’t bother me. Admittedly I wasn’t exactly a shining example of Christianity. I mean I believed in God and everything, but I didn’t go to church and I didn’t feel the need to read the bible. It was something about Christianity that made me uncomfortable.

Growing up, my best friend had been Hindu and I was utterly fascinated. I was always grilled her about every aspect. It was the same with my Muslim friends. Every part fascinated me.

Maybe it was because it was new and different, the novelty of it?

Christianity had practically been forced down our throats at school. Maybe I was slightly screwed up, the second anyone trying to enforce something onto me, I shy away from it?

Thomas was looking at me in concern.

“Are you sure you’re ok?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine, just a little tired from work.”

He smiled, placated.

“So what do you talk about in the schools?”

“Just about God, how he fits into modern life. A lot of people don’t seem to think they have room for him anymore, we just show them how God is more important than ever with all the stress of living today.”

It sounded like what Mary had said to me at the hospital.

Who was Mary?

What the hell was happening to me? When was I in hospital?

“Actually Thomas….I’m not feeling too good. I think I should probably go home.”

“Oh….ok…..can I call you a taxi?”

“I’ll be ok, the rank is just by the library.”

“Well let me walk you and make sure you get into it safely.”

His chivalry was very sweet, but I’d put money on the fact that if anyone started a fight with us, I’d be better able to protect him. I didn’t want to say that though, not only would it be rude, but guys are particularly sensitive about their manhood.

He offered me his arm, which I took to keep up the charade. This wasn’t something I could go home and sleep off. This was me quite probably losing my mind.

Thankfully there was a taxi waiting when we got there. Thomas helped me inside, waving as the taxi pulled away. I slumped back in my seat, trying to search my addled brain for something, anything that would help me understand what was happening to me.

I came up with nothing. Even the memories of what had freaked me out were fading, like the edges were blurring and bleeding into everything else. I couldn’t separate individual thoughts, the whole evening was just sinking into one big blur.’

There are more scenes which I will add as I find them, but you can see from here that there are a LOT of changes that get made to a novel, and a lot of the time, they’re not ones you like. Unfortunately, writing is a business, and as such you have to write what sells, not what you want. The worst part is that even after I made all these changes that the agent suggested, they still didn’t take me on! 😦

 Copyright Lily Crussell 2011 ©

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