This past weekend, I enjoyed a special four day weekend away in Pincher Creek and visited for the first time, Waterton. Although, the devastating fire of two years ago has left the forest slopes covered in blacken and bone white perished trees, there is an abundance of lush green undergrowth springing up everywhere. Nature restores herself and brings about beauty only she can achieve. Experiencing such magnificence does inspire not only my soul, but a deeper need to be in nature. Growing up, my parents encouraged us to explore, learn about and cherish the natural world. I grew up with Sir David Attenborough’s dulcet tones enthusing over a multitude of wildlife. My children’s book, Ockleberries to the Rescue is my small homage to the natural world – with a magical twist, of course, you know me! – Of magical sprites caring for the animals within. Maybe, deep down, I hope for magical beings to save the world’s wildlife, although in reality there are many individuals and organizations that try.
We were so lucky to encounter two brown bears and two black bears on this trip!
My creativity is born of a multitude of inspirations, some from the familiar, but others from unexpected sources. One draft manuscript, lying in wait, has the seasons as the ‘four’ chapters of a relationship. Another is the result of several news reports, culminating in a story, where I meshed them together. Unrelated or applicable, each inspiration source has the ability to evolve into a story. Some remain as short stories, poems, or even a paragraph or two, but all have enabled me to create. I have kept all these inklings in an electronic folder for many years and from time to time click on one or two. Sometimes, I remember the initial idea source, but many are a mystery now. I read them as if they are written by someone else, enjoying their ‘newness’. A couple have become ‘inserts’ in a subsequent manuscript, in one way or another – a character description, a scene or something a character experiences.
This short story written a long time prior to The Twesome Loop might have been a precursor to it! Perceptions of future or past events.
The Coin by Mandy Eve-Barnett
Sunday is my favorite day of the week. After working hard all week and completing chores and shopping on Saturday this is my time to relax. With the sunshine warming through the patio door, I curl up on my oversized armchair with a glass of wine within easy reach. Now I can start my new novel without interruption, pure bliss.
My absorption in the make believe world is rudely interrupted when a drop of water splashes onto the page. Where could that have come from? I look up to see a glassy sheen on the ceiling and another drop hits my cheek. Oh no, it must be a leaking pipe or something overflowing. I fetch a bowl from the kitchen and place it beneath the circular patch. Another drip makes a pinging sound as it hits the glass. What shall I do first, phone the landlord or go upstairs and check with my neighbor? The latter wins the day and I climb the stairs to apartment eight. With a couple of gentle knocks I stand back and wait for an answer. I hear shuffling sounds and then an elderly voice asks.
“Hello, my name is Annie and I live downstairs. There is water coming through my ceiling.”
“Water in the ceiling? Oh my, that may be my fault.”
The owner of the voice opens her door and I am faced with an old lady wrapped in several jumpers.
“Do come in. I think I may have caused the leak. Come and see, maybe you can switch it off. My hands are so frail I can’t seem to fix the damn thing.”
I follow her and realize her apartment is a mirror image of mine. She stands to one side as I walk into the bathroom to find an overflowing toilet cistern.
“Let’s see what’s happening. The ball cock has stuck, it’s an easy fix.”
With a few twists and by levering the float’s rod up and down I free up the mechanism.
“That should do the trick for now but you should call the landlord and ask him to replace it.”
“I don’t think he will do that, he’s not very capable with this sort of thing. I can call a plumber.”
“Plumber’s are very expensive and really it is a simple fix. I could do it for you if you like?”
“That’s very kind, Annie, I’d pay for the parts of course. Would you like a cup of tea?”
“Thank you that would be nice. Sorry I didn’t catch your name.”
“How rude of me. My name is Annie just like yours.”
“What a coincidence.”
We walk back to the kitchen and I realize how cold her apartment is, I have goose bumps. I rub my arms and wish I’d brought a jumper it had been lovely and warm in my armchair. As Annie organizes pretty little china cups, sugar bowl and milk jug on a tray I notice she has the same cookie jar as me.
“Another coincidence, Annie, I have a cookie jar just like that one.”
“Do you, dear? Would you like a cookie with your tea?”
“No thank you but I have to say you need to put your heating up a bit, it’s cold in here. You will catch your death.”
“I’m used to it I just put on another jumper. You can borrow one if you would like.”
I begin to decline her offer but it is so cold I acquiesce. She turns and hands me a jumper that had been hanging on the chair. It is wonderfully soft and warm.
“Could you carry the tray into the living room for me?”
“Of course I can, Annie. “
It seems strange using my name for another person. I follow her into the main room and stop short when I see my cozy armchair – well an older version of it anyway. There are several objects on the coffee table that are similar and I place the tray down with shaking hands.
“Sorry Annie, I think I’m having a déjà vu moment. You have so many things just like mine.”
“They are yours, Annie, you are at a crossroads and you have to choose the right path. I chose the wrong one so came back to warn you.”
“I’m sorry? What are you talking about?”
“Take this coin and you will see.”
Annie hands me a brass coloured coin tied with a red velvet ribbon and the apartment spins. When it stops I am watching myself weeping and calling out to someone called Carl.
“Please stay, Carl, I’m so sorry. I was scared and acted on impulse.”
I swing around as a male voice speaks and I’m confronted with Carl from my office.
“Annie, I trusted you. How could you betray me?”
My mind is whirling, what did I do? When did I start going out with Carl? When did this happen? My other self replies,
“It was going too fast for me, I wasn’t sure about us. It’s only been five months.”
“You could have told me to cool it off a bit, Annie, I would have understood.”
I feel a tug on my hand and the illusion disappears. I’m back in old Annie’s apartment. My knees give way so I sit with a thump on the armchair.
“Don’t be afraid to let go of your emotions, Annie, trust them. He won’t come back and you’ll be alone like me- forever regretting that one night stand.”
“How did you do that? How are you here with me? I feel sick.”
“Take a few deep breaths you will be alright. I came from another reality to warn you. Keep this talisman as a reminder.”
A thud wakes me my book has fallen from my lap. I look up to see a perfect ceiling, no dripping water, no glass bowl catching the drips. What a dream it was so vivid. As I sit up I smooth the cashmere jumper and grasp something in the pocket. A coin wrapped in red velvet ribbon.