First – apologies for the delay in updates – Real Life took a nosedive. It’s getting better, I’m getting better and I’m writing again. Updates to this and all my other stuff will be along soon. Thanks for sticking with me. Now – on with the show.
Once in a Blue Moon 3
I don’t know what I was thinking. I think I only meant a quick peck on the lips. Actually I don’t think I meant to kiss her at all. Oh God, I have no idea what I meant. All I knew was I got lost in the kiss. It went from being just ‘a kiss’ to being a ‘KISS’. The sort that leaves you breathless, not seeing straight and incapable of thought. It finally ended and I rested my forehead against hers. That was when I realised what I’d done.
“Shit! Shit, shit, shit. Didn’t mean to do that, didn’t want to do that, won’t do it again, shit, shit.” I leapt away from her, covering two-thirds of the room in a single bound.
Josie opened her eyes and looked at me, her expression one of confusion and pain. For a moment I thought she was going to speak but all she did was close her eyes once more and shake her head. Then she vanished.
I raced for the door and shot out into the garden yelling, “Josie!”
There was no sign of her of course. What? Did I think I was going to see her running down the road? I closed my eyes. How on earth could I fix this? I’d kissed her for God’s sake. Me, a woman, had kissed her. A trainee whatever she was. Not the sort of person you want to be doing things like that to. I tipped my head skywards. “You bloody idiot! You’ve totally fucked up this time.”
There was a slow hand-clap from behind me and a voice said, “I totally agree.”
I turned to face the owner of the voice. It was a man; leaning against the wall, arms folded and legs crossed at the ankles. He was wearing mirrored sunglasses and was dressed entirely in black, suit; shirt; tie. He looked like a b-movie mafiosa. My heart sank to a position somewhere slightly below my boots.
“You’ve come for me then?” I was beyond scared. In fact I was terrified. I tried not to show it. “I kind of hoped I’d be able to get things sorted about Julia before I had to... you know...” I pointed downwards. I tried for a sardonic smile. I think it turned out more like a constipated grimace if the amusement on what I could see of his face was anything to go by. I know I joked about hell but after spending all this time with Josie I’d begun to believe I wasn’t going there after all. In fact I’d started to think there was no such place. Obviously kissing one of ‘the Chief’s’ messengers was the final straw. Oh Christ. I did not want to go there. I really didn’t.
He didn’t say another word. He just crooked his forefinger and turned away. Obviously I was supposed to follow him. We passed through that plunged-into-an-icy-waterfall feeling and there we were. The only problem seemed to be that I had no idea exactly where ‘there’ might be. It certainly wasn’t hot, dark, full of roaring flames and guys with toasting forks. It was more like a dentist’s waiting room. White walls; white doors; bright lights, there were no ratty sofas or out of date magazines though. Oh yeah, that really worked. Hell as a dental surgery.
He pointed to a white plastic chair and I sat. I contemplated pleading for mercy but it seemed pretty pointless. What could I say? I couldn’t deny kissing her. In fact, given the right circumstances, I’d rather like to do it again.
A door I hadn’t noticed opened and a middle-aged woman entered. She too was dressed entirely in black, though in her case it was a roll-neck sweater and slacks. As the door closed it vanished and the wall became solid once more. Well at least I could stop doubting my eye-sight; it hadn’t been there for me to notice. But then, nothing was real anymore was it, not even me.
She stopped about two metres from me and placed a black foolscap folder onto the stark white desk which had materialised between us. Without even glancing in my direction she sat in a chair identical to the one I was occupying, opened the folder and began to read. She hadn’t looked at me at all. If I’d still been a living human I would have been sweating by now. As it was my mouth was dry and even though it no longer beat, I was positive I could feel my heart race. For a moment I was sidetracked into checking for a pulse. Could I feel it? I was dragged back into the present and the contemplation of my undoubtedly grim future by the rustle of paper. I licked my lips nervously and waited.
Finally she replaced the small pile back into the folder and, closed it. She adjusted its position carefully, making sure it sat precisely in the centre of the table. Then at last she looked at me.
“Well you have been an idiot, haven’t you?”
All that reading just to come to that conclusion? I could have told her that in two seconds flat. I nodded; not that she was looking for my confirmation, but I did it anyway.
“Ah...what will...I mean where.... I mean what now? Do I get to meet the chief for judging or something or just go straight to hell? Do I have a right of appeal?” I sounded as scared as I felt.
“Hell.” She said. And my heart left its position in my boots and dropped through the floor.
I didn’t say a word. To be honest I couldn’t think of a damned thing to say. I was going to hell. What could I say? My family had been right. The sinner was doomed. I’d never believed it before but here I was. And if my life on earth hadn’t been enough to condemn me – well, kissing the guardian certainly did the trick. I was wallowing in so much self-pity that I almost missed hearing her continue.
“Hell?” She said again and the rise in her voice clued me in. It wasn’t a sentence, it wasn’t a statement of fact; it was a question. I opened my mouth to speak but she beat me to it.
“Hell?” Why would we send you to hell? Why would you assume we would? Why do you assume we have a hell?” She was on a roll, barely pausing for breath, her volume increasing with every question. It was obvious that I was not expected to answer any of them.
“Why do the recently deceased always expect to be sent to hell? Except for those ultra-religious idiots of course, who always take it for granted that they will go to heaven and can be quite obnoxious when they don’t. Why would anybody think that a system founded by a chief who stands for love would do anything so unforgiving? Well, why?”
She glared at me. I gathered from that that I was supposed to say something. I drew in a deep breath but released it without speaking. What on earth could I say? How was I supposed to sum up centuries of religious dogma?
She shook her head at my silence. “Well, to the matter in hand. You were granted special privileges, partly as a result of your unexpected crossing over and partly because of special pleading by your guardian. Those privileges will be revoked and you will be sent to a holding room until you can be returned to life.”
“Life? You’re sending me back? But...”
“You crossed early; you still have another 53 years on your contract.” She gestured towards the file. “We simply need to wait until a suitable body becomes available. You cannot, of course, go back as who you were.”
“But my sister? And Julia?”
“You were only permitted to continue your endeavours while your guardian accompanied you. I doubt that she will wish to continue. We shall have to find another.”
Josie didn’t want to be my guardian anymore? That hurt more than dying had. I had to fix this somehow. “Please, tell her I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset her or anything I won’t do it again. I know that sort of behaviour isn’t allowed. Please ask her to forgive me.” To my astonishment I was close to tears.
“I kissed her. I’m a woman, she’s a woman.” I thought it was pretty obvious, didn’t their chief have some strong views about things like that?
“You blithering idiot. What part of ‘the message is love’ aren’t you getting? Guardians are chosen with care. You are female, English and gay. Your guardian was picked because she is female, English and...”
I didn’t let her finish. “Josie’s gay? She’s gay? It’s ok to be gay? The chief doesn’t mind?”
It all went dark. The floor here was every bit as hard as my garden path.