Chapter 4

Written by: tomalb

Shirley barely breathed. Glancing across the top of her breasts she searched the shadows. Michael’s voice had been so clear she fully expected to see him. There was nothing. Her peripheral vision caught a movement. Billowing curtains. Was it the curtains that had frightened Sophie? Was Michael’s voice nothing more than whispers of wind blowing through the open window?
She moved her arm. Icy fingers had gripped her wrist. Could she have imagined that? She checked for an imprint.
“Jason and I will look after you….”
The words had been so clear. It was absurd. Jason was with Gary, not Michael.
Shirley swung her legs over the side of the bed and sat up. Michael’s presence was everywhere. Why wouldn’t it be? This was his room. She ran her hand across the bedspread the way she used to do when soothing him to sleep; imagining the shape of her son’s torso beneath the covers. His room remained unchanged from the day of his death. The shrine, Gary called it. Most of the women in her support group had shrines; some for many years. She would not do that. She would know when it was time for Michael to go from her life.
Shirley turned off Michael’s radio and made her way down to the kitchen.
When she pushed through the door the aroma from the baking cakes tinged with vanilla essence wafted over her. She pulled on the rose petal oven-mitt and removed the tray from the oven.
Gary never grieved for Michael, not the way she had done. She put it down as a man thing. Men hid their true feelings. She had convinced herself that eventually he would break down. He and Michael had been close. But that day never came. In quiet times, like now, she questioned his love for his son. She had blamed him for Michael’s death. An accusation she knew to be unfair. The police said it was an accident -that his epileptic seizure was a proven medical condition. But he spat those words at her. Denying Michael was his son and accusing her of cheating on him. It frightened her. After ten years she thought she knew him, now, she wasn’t so sure.
Shirley turned the baking tray upside down and tapped on it with a spoon. One by one the cup-cakes dropped onto a tea towel. Michael and Jason liked to sit on stools and watch her bake. The memory brought a smile. They fought over who got to lick the spatula first. Michael always got first lick because he was the eldest but he left plenty for Jason. Michael was good like that. Is that why she had heard his voice? Her subconscious dredging up joyful times like these and those other times like when she had a touch of the blues and Michael had cuddled her, Jason never far behind.
How could Jason help Michael comfort her now? He was very much alive. He was with Gary.

Thomas Lodge (NZ)


Fabulous, a really well written chapter by Tom showing how Shirley is reacting; her emotions and self doubts. This reads smoothly and leaves us to ponder how she will come to terms with what is real and what is not. Or is there another reason for what is happening that no-one can explain - except MICHAEL. Brrrrrrr!
Another one that I like, there were only a few moments when I was pulled out of the story, such as when an unusual word (I think, others may not) could have been replaced with a more regular word: body instead of torso.
Just a small note, nothing major. But it is something I really have to watch out for when I write as well.
It is always intriguing working in this format to see what the next writer will bring to the story. Good turn of events Thomas has brought to The Bond and more emotional drama is coming into the storyline.