A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times

TIMES GONE BY



Tracey stood up and stretched her arms.

She had been drifting in and out of consciousness in the way only a working man - or woman - could. Spending most of her days tap-tap-tapping away on a keyboard had taken its toll on her, and her attention span was now at the point where she spent most of the afternoon doing the open-eyed sleep that most office workers have perfected. She snapped out of it in time to see the computer clock flick to 5:10.

"Damn" she swore to herself. She knew she was going to be late at this rate. Hurriedly she threw her things into her bag, grabbing her keys and phone and hammering on the keyboard with a vague hope that it would shut the computer down faster. Sadly, the outburst of violence seemed only to annoy the computer, causing it to dot out a long series of beeps. Guiltily, Tracey stood back and calmed herself down, hoping nobody saw or heard what she did.

After what felt like forever it finally shut down. Breathing a sigh of relief she grabbed her bag and in one deft movement swept her coat onto her back, exchanging the bag between hands in a fluent split second, finishing with the bag on her shoulder. She smiled to herself; she knew that David would have seen it, and knew how impressed he would be. How impressed he always was, in fact. She knew he had a crush on her, and he probably knew she was aware of that.

She always took it lightly though. Everyone knew how happy she was with her boyfriend, Jason. Not that anybody could blame him for liking her though. She was, when she wasn't dozing, the life of the buzz-world community; she knew everybody by first, last, and nickname, and was always chatting or making jokes. She was beautiful too, there was no denying that. With long red hair contrasting with large blue eyes, she was a welcome change from the everyday office bimbo. Her straight hair framed the side of her face, and added an accent to her sharp and well carved features. She was at the perfect height between tall enough to talk to properly, and small enough to avoid an awkward posture. She was slight with the dream of an athletic body, and always wore clothes that seemed plain yet pretty. Her skirt was never too short, her shirt never too low, and the effect of this was a feeling of wanting to see more. Nobody ever did though. She was far too attached to Jason.

Or she would have been, if she were not running late. Fortunately, as she burst out onto the stairway, he seemed to be late too. She slowed down a bit as she always did on the stairs. Not for safety reasons - in fact, she always secretly hoped she'd fall so she could claim compensation - but because the stairs had enormous windows spanning two of the walls. She loved the view of the city at night. The far off street lights and headlamps glistened against the crystal-like windows, and the sky was a tranquil yellow with large dark clouds with glowing edges taking their mysterious formations for the night. No stars were out yet, but the moon was showing between the clouds, surrounded by light.

She snapped out of her daydream again. Hurrying down the remaining steps, she was already fumbling for her keys. Stepping out of the building after saying goodbye to the security guard, she pulled her coat up around her neck. It was a bitter cold night, and the clouds above had given birth to a fine mist that hung over the car park, making it hard to breath and hard to see.

She reached the car and unlocked it. It wasn't hers; she never drove since her accident a few years back. She sat, tempted to turn on the heating, but she decided against it in favour of having rosy cheeks ready for Jason. Just as she was thinking that rosy was all very well and good, but blue and blotchy wasn't, the door opened and in a swift movement he was in the car beside her.

She always felt out of breath when she saw him. He was tall, dark, and handsome. His eyes were deep and dark and his hair was short and rough looking. His face was well formed, giving him a huge smile that spread from his mouth to his ears. He was fairly tall at 6 foot 2, but he was well built and strong, with just a hint of muscle under his shirt. His lightly tanned skin glistened with condensation from the mist outside. He put out an arm and pulled Tracey close as he planted a kiss on her forehead.

"Sorry I'm late", he said meekly, as a grin flashed across his face again. "The boss held me back, refused to let me go!"

"That's fine" she responded, trying to fight back a similar smile. "I've been here since five, though. You need to tell your boss where to stick it!"

She couldn't hold the lie together, and she laughed out loud with the last comment. She didn't know why she was so giggly with him. It was as if she was a child again. Jason was the same though. He was very mature and patient, but he was very childish at heart. He was definitely the best of both worlds. She was the happiest she had ever been. When he had popped the big question four years ago, presenting a large diamond ring, she had almost fainted with joy. The wedding day was in a week’s time, and they were going to go see about renting a tuxedo for him.

Sadly, that was cut short. Due to the pair of them being late, the city centre was brimming with people and the stores were doing their best to close on time. Feeling a little dismayed, they headed home. Tracey was cursing to herself. She had tried so many times to make this journey, as had Jason, but they never seemed to be able to get to the stores. Listening to "Men in Black" on the radio, she smiled to herself as she made a mental note that irony is such a cruel thing.

----------------------------

During next day’s lunch break she went to the smaller town centre to pick up her wedding dress. She had selected the perfect one before she had even been proposed to, shortly after her best friend’s wedding. It was a magnificent dress. The train was long and frilly, and the dress itself felt and looked silky. It was covered by a fine layer of lace, and the whiteness was so bright it was practically radiant.

Tracey felt slightly disheartened when her name didn't seem to be down for collection. Well, she was disheartened in a "shout and scream loud swear words and start tearfully stamping" kind of way. After the young shop assistant managed to calm her (by pointing her towards the coffee machine) the manager had efficiently sorted everything out. Her dress looked even more beautiful than before.

She phoned her boss and told her she wouldn't be in for the rest of the day. Well, she had to try the dress on, didn't she? Indeed she did, and as she danced around the living room when she first got home the urge was getting stronger and stronger. She decided to make a drink first - it had been a tough day. She made up her cup of coffee and set it on the chest of drawers in the front room, and hurried into the bedroom to try the dress on.

She looked fabulous, and she knew it. The whiteness of the dress blended immaculately with her pale complexion, and as she ran her fingers along the surface of the fabric it shimmered with a silky glow. She heard a knock on the door - that'd be Michelle, her best friend, to see the dress. She ran excited out into the living room, having completely forgot that she set the mug up on the chest of drawers just outside the room...

----------------------------

She had booked the next day off of work to meet up with the wedding planner. She spent the best part of three hours sat in an unfriendly feeling office whilst having various cards and brochures thrown at her. The defence mechanism she had perfected throughout her professional life had already kicked in, and her eyes glazed over as she started to daydream.

She started by wondering what the wedding planner was giving her all these things for. Surely the whole point of a wedding planner is to avoid the brochure flipping? Deep inside, she cursed all wedding planners into a large cage, which she then dropped off a large cliff. Unfortunately, there was one which had not been able to fit inside the cave, but this one quickly had his clothes torn off by a ferocious bear. And he had a tiny Willy in the shape of a pig’s tail.

She laughed, startling the wedding planner and herself so much that the two of them jumped out of their seats. The planner quickly replaced his look of shock with a more familiar scowl, and said in a tone similar to that used to discipline young puppies "Since you seem to find the fact that this church’s graveyard is a funny thing, I suppose you won't be put off by a feeling of death at your wedding."

Trying hard to hide her grin, now brought on merely by the adrenaline rush she had when she startled herself, she simply nodded. At this point, after something going wrong every single time she tried to arrange anything, she just wanted the wedding to go ahead and didn't care how much death, tuxedos, or indeed people attended. She didn't even care if Jason was in a cheap Tesco suit or that she had to hurriedly form a white bouquet of flowers to cover the large coffee stain on her dress.

The waiting room was a small and grotty place. Michelle never enjoyed sitting there; the padding was thin on the seats, and her bum always felt sore. She also had a habit of going away on another daydream. Not that that was such a bad thing though; she would far rather be flying away with neon coloured spaceships than sat with increasingly numbing buttocks. Sipping at a cup of lukewarm water, she tapped her feet on the floor, nodding her head along with the resulting rhythm.

She was so caught up in her thoughts and tapping that she didn't even notice the man run in and shoot the wedding planner, before setting fire to the office.

She didn't bat an eyelid when the sirens wailed, and the shocked bystanders looked in as she sat within a burning room, surrounded by flames, tapping her feet in time to some non-existent music.

She didn't even cast a glance towards the yelling policeman and fireman, whilst the flames climbed slowly up her arms and legs. She didn't even flinch when a beam fell from the ceiling, exploding into a strangely attractive shower of sparks.

She didn't care, because she'd been there so many times before.

----------------------------

Tracey woke up. She was sweating, she was breathing heavily and she was shaking, but she didn't cry. She didn't let out any screams. She sat up slowly, her head brimming. She had so many thoughts racing around, that it was hard for her to make out what she was thinking. She walked slowly towards the room of her cell, and clawed weakly at the padding as she had done so many times before.

Part of her was sobbing silently inside, mourning for husband to be Jason even though four years had passed since he was hurled violently through the windscreen of her car that day, bouncing him like a rag doll down the rocky and hilly terrains of the Pennines.

Outside, the workers at Lancashire County Asylum started preparing for the day shift.


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Its my own fault really, its all about what I see in the world, and how it all translates for me.

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