Robin

I’m not sure that I’m ever going to do anything with this, but I’ve had this character floating around my mind for over a year now, so I finally decided to write a little introduction to her life.

At the age of twenty-four, the thing Robin loved most in the world was her house.

It was tiny, painted blue with white framework on the doors and windows. There were flowers in the three windows that faced the street, and a garden leading from the front door right down to the small white gate. There was even a lone tree in the yard, one that had grown enough to give a little shade during the long, hot summer days.

The house was on a small residential street in Studio City in Los Angeles, which was another thing that Robin loved about it. She loved being so near a happening area and yet snug in her own little space, the picture of suburbia. She had a Mr. Horns to her left in a small yellow house, with a rather large yellow Labrador named Puck, while the house to her right was empty, a big “FOR RENT” sign the only inhabitant of the fading lawn.

Robin had acquired this house in a strange set of circumstances. It had, belonged to her great-aunt Lucinda, an eccentric woman who had lived in a nursing home for the last twenty years of her life. The family was under the impression that she’d sold it years ago, but, as she wrote in her will, she’d left it empty, freshly painted and clean, ready for her great-niece, who had only just been born, to grow up and receive it. When Robin turned twenty, Lucinda passed away and the house was discovered in the will.

Robin couldn’t believe her luck. As a university student, she longed to leave the dorms behind her and live in a space all her own. She had no desire to return to the poisonous environment that was her parents’ house. She’d suffered enough hardship over the years, and having finally escaped by earning a full scholarship, she had no intention of ever going back.

Halfway through her Junior year, she moved out of the school dorms and into her new home. It had needed much airing out after twenty years of standing empty, and furniture, too. She’d scoured both the flea markets and the Internet for cheap, secondhand stuff, and she  sanded, repainted and lacquered some of the wooden pieces she’d found. In fact, she’d spent her entire winter break on making her new home as perfect as could be. This was another reason why she loved it so.

Another reason was that she was hardly ever in it. The commute to school on two buses, the time she spent in classes and in the library studying, as well as her job at one of the administrative offices kept her so busy that she would normally arrive back at her house at ten and leave the next morning at around seven. Out of those nine hours, some six were spent sleeping, and one was spent in a morning haze of coffee, toast, shower and make-up.

The two hours she had to herself every night before she fell exhausted into bed were her treasures. She didn’t allow herself to study, review material or read anything that had something to do with her major – which was history – or her minor – which was philosophy. She spent the time reading comics online, watching films or taking a long, hot bath.

It was a perfect life, really, and she often felt ridiculously lucky.

But everything changed when her brother got out of prison a week before graduation.

3. Heather [2]

At around eleven, Heather finally switched off the lights and locked the door of Miranda’s shop. Miranda herself lived above the store, and ever since hiring Heather she’d taken to going up to her room a bit early and letting Heather close up for her. Not that Heather minded in the least. She enjoyed having a few moments of peace and quiet in the shop, all by herself. She felt then that maybe someday she’d be able to own a place like this – or maybe a place a bit nicer than this – and be independent. She hadn’t been independent yet in her life, not really. Not since… but no, that wasn’t something she wanted to think about.

Heather finished locking up the door and turned into the cool summer night. It always got to be so much cooler at this hour, and she breathed the air in thankfully as she began to make her way back home. Home for her was a small and cozy apartment that she shared with her mother in downtown Hartscreek, just about fifteen minutes away from Miranda’s shop. On the way home, Heather usually stopped in at Lila’s for her final treat of the day – Lila’s Warm-and-Fillin’ Hot Chocolate. There was no better drink in town, as far as Heather was concerned. She thought back to the days when she’d only looked at the option on the menu, never quite daring to order it. She stopped herself from following that line of thought again, and pushed open the door to Lila’s, hearing the usual tinkle of the bell and seeing her favorite new waiter, Jake, smile at her from across the room and yell out a greeting.

Heather smiled back. It was so very good to finish work each evening.

One-Eyed Steve: Part I

Sometime, somewhere, a burly man, dressed in comfy jeans and a heavy flannel shirt, his hairy toes bare on the carpet, sat in front of the fireplace of his small house. In his hands was a steaming mug of much-watered mulled wine which he was sipping occasionally. On the carpet in front the hearth, the three small figures were clutching equally steaming mugs of hot-coacoa. They had been obsorbed in a board game until the fat, ginger, family cat bounded onto it and chased the pieces around, ending the game.

The three children clustered close to their father and begged “Story, Papa, story!”

The man, used to such requests from the three children, ranging in age from four to seven, stroked his stubbly chin. He took a sip from his mug, and then, a twinkle in his eyes, looked down at his three little ones.

“A story, my ducklings? Ye shall have a story. A night like tonight is a time for stories. Now, the story I’m abou’ to tell ye is about a man called One-Eyed Steve.”

Storm

The wind has been building up for hours – howling and moaning and shaking the trees free of their leaves. A mass of grey clouds, impossible to see in the dark night sky, sits above everything, threatening to release more than the drizzle that has been making the world outside a wet, slippery place.

Then, suddenly, there is that flash. So bright, so sudden, like an enormous camera from up above taking a picture of this glorious, wild scene of winter. The lightning flashes quickly, piercing through eyelids and warning the sleepers in their warm beds and toasty homes of what is to come. The lightning is so quick that no-one’s really sure if it was really lightning or perhaps just a strange light coming from something else outside.

But there is no mistaking what the bright, almost audible crack of light was when the thunder roles in. At first, it rolls in softly, like the tires of a car crunching on a gravelly driveway. Next time the lighting comes though, the rumble of the thunder sounds closer, more threatening. Finally, as the storm reaches its peek, the thunder cracks loudly, as if something were whipping the storm into a wild frenzy, the wind stronger than ever and the rain and hail pounding down on any unlucky souls who happen to be outside.

The sleepers in their warm blankets roll over and smile at the loud noises, feeling secure and peaceful in their beds. Or sometimes they quake with fear, even knowing that they are perfectly safe. The storm outside doesn’t care though for what the people think of it – it will rage and billow and cover the world with wet until it calms, seemingly of its own accord, and goes to sleep itself.

Winter Romance

Rain patters down on the plastic roof outside the window. The breeze comes through the slats, fresh and delicious, bearing with it a smell of clean, sweet moisture. The sounds of the street are slightly muted, everything growing hushed in the soft rain. Even buses, with their monstrous thundering and their creaking halts, sound soft and polite as the drops come down lightly from the wispy gray clouds.

As the drizzle grows into a rain, the light seems brighter, more cheery. The small comforts of home – the sweatshirt flung on the back of the chair, the cat curled up in a ball on the couch – become more cozy and endearing by far. Even as the rain turns into a respectable downpour, the home becomes the perfect nest, wonderfully familiar, all of it softer around the edges somehow.

If only the rain could go on all night, it would accompany the soft light of the reading lamp and the soft rustle of pages as they are lovingly turned in their spine. A rain of this sort can only herald the sweetest and most comfortable of sleeps. If only it would go on all night.

But alas, all good things come to an end, and quickly, all too quickly, the autumn rain disappears, leaving behind it a comforting memory, a slight shiver of joy and a disappointed girl, who wanted to stay up all night reading with the rain.