Anthropocentric by Simon Allington-Jones - HTML preview

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Stop to wave at fish

The negotiations were short, both Flower and Candy were conceded all conditions they had requested, and Byron starred in the movie of the year. Despite the intended influence to guarantee the film’s success, the excitement in the eyes of Byron’s deceased protectors did not jade throughout the months leading up to the first day of shooting. Both Flower and Candy had managed to obtain background parts in each scripted life time of the lead characters, whether it be in the girl’s friends or passers by, they had secured their places beside Byron each and every day of filming. The only cause for any disharmony amongst the three of them was the selection of the leading lady.

Byron admitted that he was in a no win situation, he could no more say that he liked his lovers’ choice than say he disliked it. Present at all meetings with their selection of wish list leading ladies, both Flower and Candy remained more pragmatic than they thought they would be able to, their hearts within the success of the film, their jovial and quiet jealousy composed and ignored in favour of rationality. Byron, on the other hand, helped no one with his fixed face of paranoid apathy. His ego bruised once or twice by actresses asking constantly what he had been in before, remaining silent when he admitted again and again this was his first role. That and ‘was he wearing contact lenses for they couldn’t see his eyes’. All of which was to the humour of both the dead. Finally their leading lady had been cast, reported in a magazine to be the coolest, cutest, cleverest, and classiest actress in Hollywood, she was the correct age and her filmography was impressive to say the least. Avoiding the big sell blockbusters for the equally big sell quirky cult making films. Well-made cult making films. She was beautiful, that was undeniable, her smile was free and unconsciously honest, and her blue eyes swam with dolphins. She stood before him in an old pair of jeans, half a t-shirt and sunflower decorated flipflops, she shook his hand in greeting and tip toed to kiss his cheek. Byron liked her. It was hard not to, he still suffered from being star struck on a daily basis since this project had started, but he found her to be instantly more than a culmination of her previous roles. She read with him, and didn’t ask what he had been in before. All the readings were filmed to record what degree of screen chemistry the actors had together, during this process Candy mentioned more than once that it might have been a bad idea to script a film about love. The exercise also acted to ease Byron into what should ideally represent functioning normally in front of a camera. It made him summon selfcontrol he hadn’t realised he possessed. Being used to not existing in other’s eyes for so many years, and then suddenly being the focus of a camera’s unforgiving gaze, was uncomfortable for him, to say the least. The actress seemed to ease Byron’s nerves instantly and the resulting chemistry danced across the celluloid for all to see. This was the only choice Flower and Candy could make, and with maturity past their years they agreed to ask her to sign. The actress herself had admitted to liking the script when she arrived at the studio to meet them, and on reading with Byron she agreed she would like to take the role. Byron’s paranoid apathy slipped briefly and he smiled. There was of course a question of timetables, most films being unavoidably and annoyingly detained in the planning stage for over a year before filming. However, the intervention of a higher power than Hollywood, speeded decisions with the money-providers, quickened assembly of a crew, and put the fear of Death into the rapid organisation of making this film.

Finally it was here and Byron woke slowly, the first day of his film career, soft skin touched him in waves of warm pleasure. He drifted on the edge of dream and it felt like swimming a warm enclosing sea. The heat covered him in liquid movements as he floated in its water, the throb of blood familiarly aching around his lap. As he drifted he felt the beginnings of warm rain splash gently upon his face and he smiled into his sleep, he felt secure, warm, aroused. He woke upon this last thought, opening his eyes slowly feeling Candy make love to him before he saw her. Flower kissed his eyes tenderly in small endless declarations of love, her body pressed as close to him as Candy’s, her legs entwined tightly about him and her best friend’s slowly undulating rhythm. His hands reached for them both, his fingertips gently teasing the contrasting yield between soft breasts and attentive nipples, his back pressed into the sheets beneath him in the necessity of connection, their bodies pushing against his. His ears were filled with the heart disabling sighs of love. In response he reached for the warmth between Flower’s thighs and together with Candy coaxed the whimpers of pleasure from her mouth. Without hurry or escalation they remained covered beneath the sheets, searching in the heat of the bed until the aspirations of all three were appeased. Sleep drifted back and peace washed over them like the sea. Byron continued to smile in his sleep. The next Byron knew was the impact of a pillow being flung in his face and a showered and dressed Flower and Candy stood at the side of the bed. “You need to be an actual movie star before they allow you to turn up late for shooting.” Grinned Flower. “Come on, time to get up.” Byron grinned insults at them to leave him in bed. For if he knew being a movie star was going to upset his sleeping, he wouldn’t have agreed to sign up. He attempted to turn away from them and wrap himself in a cocoon of linen. He then braced himself for the impact, and surely enough two light figures threw themselves on his shrouded form. “Come on, up.” Shouted Candy between vigorous shakes of his body. The deceased leap from the bed and pulled the sheets clear of his unvarnished form. The protests were futile and he allowed himself to be dragged from the warmth and hurled into the shower alone. The bar of soap, impacting sharply with his head, was his only company.

The relationship between the sequence of filming and the storyline was the first disillusionment Byron was to discover in the chaotic organisation of making 120 minutes of movie. Why you start at the end of a story and progress to the start with the final days of the middle at the end, or some elaborate combination of the three, Byron could not fathom, how do you make a story without a structure, and make it believable? You’re in love with the girl but in fact you had only spent two days of filming with the attractive stranger. And how much celluloid did it actually take for 120 minutes of movie? Was somebody tarring an airfield with it? Both Candy and Flower revelled in the experience, describing it as like swimming with killer whales whilst dressed in a seal costume during the wrong time of the lunar cycle, hallucinogenics, all round bar keep and the horse will have a beer. To which Byron stared blankly, feeling an ever-smaller part of an attendance not required big picture. His head swam with scripted words that made him into somebody else. But this was the first day, it was a scene from the civil war lifetime, to be placed somewhere in the first half of the film. A soldier is chased into a township by the pursuing army, turning his capture and death into something of a sport, with money riding on his head. Stealing clothes he takes refuge in a house of ill repute. And whilst hiding in one the perfumed bedrooms, she comes in, begins to wash herself at a small vanity table. He is scripted to be mesmerised, identifying himself and turning his back in politeness before her pale skin becomes too exposed. His manners are maintained and they talk briefly, she taunting him with comfortable jokes at his courtesy. Outside the soldiers stand before the building, the sergeant making some declaration of a profanity to the God fearing gentleness of the town folk before he orders the house to be burnt to ground, all occupants inside, before the cheers of the gentle townspeople. Inside the girl sits beside him, her hand holding his, contemplation’s of touching lips should appear on their faces, but before they can kiss the house is alight and a flaming bottle crashes through the window burning them to death.

The location of the first scene was somewhere in the south of America. It had been cheaper, and less time consuming, to use a previously constructed set. Byron would recognise the set from the movie immediately, but slightly disappointed said later, that it had looked a lot smaller than when he saw it on film. The travel time to the set was non-existent for them and the route from their home in England to work in America was cunningly disguised as their back door. There were a hundred and something people on the set, running and preparing whatever it was that should have been ran or prepared. No one noticed their arrival and they walked about the set for nearly twenty minutes before someone connected with the director found them. His face red from the stress his doctor had told him to avoid he huffed and puffed them into the make up and costume caravans. An hour of preening and decorating later they were shown to their trailer and asked to wait until called. Candy and Flower were scripted as background extras: girls of loose morals, much to Byron’s amusement. On the way to the trailer Byron dropped back from Flower and Candy, indicating that they should go on as he took the opportunity to say hello to his leading lady through the door of her own almost identical trailer retreat, stood only a few dozen yards from his. In between her personal assistant’s flurry of protectoral organising, obtaining everything from bottled water to promotional dates and diaries. She noticed him hanging in the doorway and leaning in to the trailer, hoping to be seen yet, too polite to interrupt. “Byron, come in, come in.” She beckoned smiling with natural ease at his somewhat surprised face. She busied herself at the trailers kitchen counter and poured him a glass of a substance that had once been orange juice. She too was in costume, or half dressed which may have been her costume. The whale-boned corset over the white cotton undershirt, frilled panties and tied up black stockings, classic cowboy movie whore. He grinned as he looked her up and down. With some embarrassment he raised an eyebrow, his mind racing on its own. “It is isn’t it?” The actress laughed back. Shit, Byron thought, had he said that aloud? He began to make excuses, apologising bashfully but only succeeded in making the actress laugh harder. Undeniably breathtaking, her smile lit her face with honeyed beauty and Byron felt his ribcage thud as his heartbeat quickened. He felt embarrassed and a little startled at his body’s reaction to her, he changed the subject. “Do we need to run through some lines or something?” He asked, aware of the naivety of his question. “We can, but I don’t think we’ll get to the scene together today, I think I’ll be waiting around for most the day whilst you do some of the running, chasing, and hiding scenes. I don’t know what you expected, but this isn’t a quick process, movie magic is only magic when on a thirty-foot screen. Before that, it’s waiting around and stuttered flashes of inspirational acting.” Byron missed the intentional sarcasm, the actress laughed again. He hadn’t expected her to be so… real.

The coolest, cutest, cleverest, and classiest actress in Hollywood had turned out to be correct. Most of the long day was taken up with him not speaking, but diving about in the sandy, or dusty, or dirty ground. But finally in the last scene of the day, he was to sit crouched behind the newly manufactured old bed and she had to walk in. The scene was to be filmed in a dusky light, almost dream sequence surreal. It was to be lit to quicken the heart beat and offer a prelude to something that would only happen at the end of the film. Byron was called to the set, a room within the house of ill repute, though actually a large purposely constructed building that belied the magic it was supposed to contain. To his naive surprise only three walls of the room existed, the fourth stood on coasters behind the second wall. The attention to detail, if you closed you ears and placed your back to the cameras, was inspiring. It was decorated in the period, using chipboard and plastic. The remainder of the large building currently housed a dozen onlookers, cameras, and sound people of varying size and shape, it was supposed to increase the intimacy. The director took him to one side and took him thorough the scene briefly before instructing him where to position himself and then calling for silence on the set. The set went quiet on demand, and the man with a vision (worth 5 million dollars in paycheque) called action and the actress took her cue. She walked slowly into the room shutting the door firmly behind her, shutting the world away, she appeared tired and used and Byron felt drawn to her, he knew there was a camera on him to record his expression, though acting didn’t seem required. His face expressed sympathy, and a desire, also embarrassment as she went to shed her clothes before the mirror. She dropped the shoulders of her cotton vest smoothing a well-used sponge across her neck and cascading droplets of water across her collar bones, to slip gently where gravity demanded it go, her face was saddened and vulnerable. She wiped at the back of her neck easing the fictitious tension held there. Improvisation to Byron’s missed cue urged her to place a foot on the porcelain wash stand and began to let the tie from one of her stockings, rolling it gently and slowly down her smooth cream pale leg. Byron sat mesmerised from the corner of the room, he was aware of someone in the background nodding furiously for his cue. Bought out of his stupefaction he almost bounded into action, he stood quickly and immediately turned his back. “I’m sorry Miss.” His accent was perfect. He surprised himself, but had merely drawn on a dead soldier of the time for his elocution lessons. Her face expressed shock and she went to yell out, but was scripted not to. She fell silent her face falling toward compassion and some obvious connection between the two of them. “No it’s alright.” She exclaimed, her accent also perfect, she was a good actress. Byron was aware of Flower and Candy watching the scene from behind the cameras, it clarified his mind and the words fell from his mouth as they should have done. “There are soldiers looking for me. My name is Captain Jonathan Barnes, I bare you no threat Miss. Please believe me.” He gave his best imploring look. An odd look of reality sparked the actresses face, confusion almost, it seemed Byron was a better actor than anyone had given him any credit for, he looked genuinely sincere in a way she had always wanted to see but had given up hope in accordance to her chosen profession. She stuttered slightly but the cameras continued to roll, finding herself once more she continued, “Teresa.” She said slowly in introduction, holding her hand out delicately to be taken by his. She felt as he did, some form of shock race through her body, the acting was in the eyes and the director had a habit of using multiple cameras for multiple shots at the same time. It was his belief that if you were lucky there would always be one good take, but if you failed to get all your angles it would have to be cut and pasted to inferior takes, and he was renowned for re-taking until he got it right. However long that took. “Please sit down,” She said quietly, her eyes fixed to his. Byron had no idea whether she was acting, he could no longer tell. He felt her eyes search inside him, his ego rejected true feeling and pushed admiration of her acting ability forward as the only rational option. He realised they still held hands as they sat on the edge of the bed, his eyes followed her one bare leg from her toes to her shoulder to her face again. He heard his heart thump in his chest for a second time, and hoped again that she couldn’t hear it. “Have we met before Captain?” She said, pushing the scene ever forward. Byron stared in to her crystal blue eyes, his pause longer than scripted he failed to find his voice for long moments. “I don’t believe so Miss,” “Teresa.” She interrupted. “Teresa.” He repeated. “Suddenly I feel embarrassed at how you find me Captain.” Teresa indicated to her attire and more deeply to her profession, she pulled the shoulders of her cotton vest back to where decency should have them. Byron managed to stutter his lines, his feeling of bashful attraction more honest than Candy or Flower would have liked. “No Miss, it is me that should feel embarrassed, I shouldn’t have barged in here, I should go.” Byron went to stand. “No.” The actress said more firmly than Candy or Flower would have liked. She kept hold of his hand pulling him back to the bed. “Please stay, at least until the soldiers have gone away.” The background noise would be edited in later, but at this present time the Captain of the other soldiers would be shouting at his men to light the touches. Somebody on set yelled out the lines, Byron again as scripted, looked up only briefly and toward the window. He looked back to the actresses’ eyes. He indicated to say something but she pressed her finger to his lips, her hand brushing his face, the lead up to the kiss. The cameras rolled and the kiss looked inevitable, the Captain leaned in and Teresa reciprocated, Byron forgot his captaincy, the actress forgot Teresa, and their lips crept slowly toward each other. Byron saw the actress wet her lips quickly with her tongue realising he had done the same, there was not supposed to be a kiss.

The Director, being a good director, either noticed something was up, or got carried away with it all, and scream suddenly at the top of his voice: “CUT! Cut! That was perfect, Byron, Kirsten. We will shoot that one again tomorrow, in case I don’t have enough shots, and that would be the only reason, that was great, we will have to shot again but that chemistry, you can’t capture that again. Guys, girls, Oscars call you.” The Director had jumped excitedly to his feet and walked toward them both with is arms outstretched. He embraced them sharply. “Good days filming eh? Would you like to see that run back?” He asked. “No.” Both Byron and the actress answered at once. Explicitly negative, neither of them wanted to relive that without thinking on their actions first. The actress glanced briefly at Byron, he returned the look and so was taken by surprised when both Candy and Flower pounced on him from a distance and sent him stumbling backwards, he embraced them both in reaction. “That was outstanding Byron honeyface, if we hadn’t have seen it scripted it would lead us to think you both meant it.” Flower laughed sweetly, throwing a glace toward the actress. Candy took hold of Byron’s face and kissed it quickly, stamping their ownership before the slightly bemused Teresa. She looked away and walked off set, not looking back once. The crew murmured about them. Why Byron appeared to be dating both girls would be the gossip and conversation throughout the making of the film. Flower stole his face from Candy and kissed him also. Without noticing Byron began the gossip and back stabbing off the set. Had he noticed, still he wouldn’t have cared. He continued to think about the actress, and the acting. The three of them retired back to the lavish comfort of the trailer, Byron sat on one of the couches, a strong drink in his hand as the girls dashed to the bathroom to remove their make up and slip into something less. When they returned to him, Byron remained unmoved, and sat motionless staring to a place on the wall that would bear no secrets. His drink had been drained long ago and he held it tightly twirling the glass in his fingers. Flower and Candy stood for long moments before him, dressed in supplied robes emblazoned with the name of the film on the pockets. They looked a little concerned at his lack of acknowledgement, Byron’s eyes flicked from the wall to their bare feet, noticing their toes, clenching in apprehension. The bright blue and green delicate nails were enough to break him from his thoughts. His sudden guilt at not acknowledging them flushed him with shame. They were his reason. Should he shut them out now…? “Come here my deceased angels.” He smiled warmly and opened his arms in embrace. Their unconscious expressions of relief cut him deeply for he had never wished to see anything but their smiles light in their faces. The deceased jumped on each of his thighs and buried their faces in his shoulder, ignoring the dust and sand that still encrusted his shirt and neck from the day’s filming. He squeezed them both tightly. After a long pause, the purposeful imprinting of a feeling in his head, Byron relaxed his embrace slightly. Flower took a deep breath, her words following a small sigh. “I don’t want to say this but the dead have no more reasons left to lie, you see we never wanted to compete for your love Byron. The lady Death was opposition enough for both of us. We can only offer ourselves…” She began. “The actress may be able to offer you more.” Finished Candy hesitantly. Byron’s mouth worked before his brain, on this occasion it was attached to his heart. “What? You can’t mean what I think you mean… if you do then it’s my fault… I’m sorry. Flower, Candy, you are the only reason I haven’t gone out of my mind yet. There is no comparison, no competition, there is only you, my loves, my life. I am lost in blue and emerald every day and I can think of no other colours I’d rather be. If you close your eyes I want to be in there. I…” He paused, he had said it before and would say it again, and every time he would have this trouble. For his life had been empty of the emotion for so long, the words cut his tongue with a stranger’s knife each time he spoke them. “I love you.” The deceased girls smiled. Byron was not a man brimming with words for every occasion, but each word he had spoken, they had found to be true. Candy leant up from his shoulder and reached to the counter beside them, she grabbed the make up remover and a bundle of cotton wool. She broke the tension like only she could. “We not going to have sex with you with that stuff on your face, the dirt in your pores, yeuuck not worth thinking about.” She grinned back at him. “So,” He said dryly. “You’re going to have sex with me?” “Dirty sex.” Whispered Flower as she grabbed a handful of cotton wool from candy and they both proceeded in covering his face in pink baby lotion, scrubbing and fighting against his protesting arms. By the time the actress got to his trailer door the sounds of giggling and laughter were loud enough to hear from outside. On hearing them the actress hesitantly stopped her hand from knocking, her expression falling slightly at the sounds coming from inside. She had wanted to talk to him, she knew that the three of them had a relationship. On her various meetings with the production team, all had included the girls called Flower and Candy. But they couldn’t be old enough for this sort of job, co- producing a film? She had been acting since a child and she had never met them or heard of them. The actress had to admit to herself that she liked them, they were hard not to like, but Byron? On first meeting him she was taken by his shyness, he was not the jumped up egomaniac that she had conditioned herself to expect from everybody else in this town of tinsel. That way you could never be disappointed. She had been disappointed before, at an age when it stuck in your heart like a knife of betrayal formed from kind words. It would not happen to her again. But Byron seemed different, should she ignore the connection between them? Of course she should, acting was lying and lying well, maybe he was just better at it than people had given him credit for. But his eyes…those strange, almost unseeable, eyes. Grey, she thought, or dark green. Anyway, she just wanted to tell him she would see him tomorrow, and just satisfy herself than the connection was on celluloid only. But the sounds from inside the trailer… her curiosity took control of her conduct and she crept around the side of the trailer and to one of the windows, away from the prying eyes of the rest of set. “Which one of them is he seeing?” She whispered to herself. She tiptoed in sandal covered feet, slipping her sunglasses to the top of her head, a small smile playing on her lips. There was a big enough gap between the blinds and the sill of the trailer, the actress was just tall enough to be able to peek in on tip toes, her hands balancing her against the fibreglass shell. The actress’ smile disappeared suddenly. The teenager’s eyes widened, her full expressive mouth fell open. She dropped to the balls of her feet. Looking away, her expression indicated a feeling of slight disbelief. She returned to tip toe, just to be sure and looked through the small gap once more, staying there for long, long moments.

Naked and unaware of an audience Candy remained on her hands and knees, looking over her shoulder at Byron. Also unaware of the voyeur Byron remained behind her, and Flower remained sitting on Candy’s back melodiously wriggling and kissing Byron with a passion beyond her years. Or representational of her years, unjaded.

The actress dropped back to the soles of her feet and walked slowly away, not noticing if anyone saw her emerge from behind the trailer, and with her preoccupied and racing mind, really not caring. She felt shocked, but not appalled. Bemused and, despite herself, a little more attracted to the stranger Byron than before. The only emotion left was a smile, and the actress walked to the makeshift parking lot laughing out loud.

The trouble with sunflowers

The closing weeks of filming were at a location somewhere in New Zealand. They were filming the first and last scenes there. Required of Byron was a sex scene, a drowning, and possibly the most bold use of his gift to date. The last scene was first, obviously. The sinking ship. The ship itself would be added in postproduction using the latest computer graphics. Byron would ensure later that its addition would be completed well before schedule. Byron had already taken the special effects team to one side, they had been instructed to go along with whatever he said, and they would be compensated and be given the credit for the end result, and there would be credit. He was again marvelled by the scale of this small production, again awed at the illusions of film. The end product was usually spectacular, but the actual creation of film was something else. The end scene required rain, and a machine on floated scaffolding that looked like a precarious insect of multi limbed instability was bought in to rain on cue. The sheer scale of this savage looking beast was a triumph of engineering and the many faceted use of duck tape. Further harness equipment was bought in and placed at the top of the cliff. The concept of which was to pull both Byron and the young actress from the ocean, at controlled speed, to grip the cliff ledge and give the finale it’s stature in one smooth shot. The wires to be used were called invisible, they were not however worthy of such a description. Byron, by now very much a part of the filming, gave the technical effects department an ultimatum. They were not to use any wires, Byron would take care of the leap himself, not much of an ultimatum, more a demand. After some small persuasion the bemused effects team unanimously decided they would be more than happy to accept. They were to get the credit after all. The harness was fitted to the actress, attaching her by clips and hooks to Byron and binding them uncomfortably close together. With some small charade the non-existent wires were fitted to Byron also, the rescue divers were in place and the scene slowly commenced.

The clever young actress looked to Byron, the connection by the failsafe harness bonded them together tightly at the pelvis. It was an attachment that had briefly indicated to the actress Byron’s true feelings toward her. As he unfortunately, and most uncontrollably, nudged at her pelvic bone with a face more crimson than blood. She had dined with Byron, Flower, and Candy a number of times throughout the filming over the last few months, and had caught them by determination and fore planning through the window of the trailers a few times more. She had become close to the two girls, or as close as she believed they would allow, for they always seemed to have this special little secret between them. One that she knew she would never learn, and it wasn’t that they were both the Byron’s lovers. It annoyed her to be excluded. Herself and the girls were around the same age, so she understood. It had made a pleasant change having people her own age on set and not being scripted kissing older men or playing a chaste young virgin, surrounded by her peers in every direction. But Byron, this strange looking man boy intrigued her. He was always quiet at their dinners, in some sort of contemplation almost. She had caught him sometimes looking at her as if she was something he had never seen before, something different from him. A complementary opinion she hoped to assume, but it drew her to him by keeping her away. She would have to be half-naked before this man-boy in the next few weeks, and the prospect excited and terrified her. And the appalling scar on his arm, where had it come from? Did it have anything to do with his demeanour now? Her thoughts were interrupted by the familiar bellow of action and her mind became full of trepidation as she took a deep breath was pulled beneath the water with Byron for the forth time that morning. There had been three drenching practises as they were bobbed from just beneath the surface to above it, and this was the first take. She was freezing and the thin wet suit she wore beneath her clothes was beginning to lose its warmth. She clung harder, as scripted, to the surprisingly not insubstantial form of Byron. She hated this part, the force of the wrench from the water, someone would be sued if she couldn’t bare children she joked to herself. It was the first full take of the leap from the bay to the cliff ledge and she hoped to god this new “invisible” wire was as good as the effects team claimed. She closed her eyes squeezing the skin toned peg tighter to her nose, and all of a sudden she was yanked from the ocean beneath her. The scream from Byron “No” was supposed to be dubbed later but as the water cascaded from her terrified body the sheer volume of it in her ears was phenomenal, she believed it might be heard for miles. Unseen around her each member of the film crew was equally shocked, more so considering their distance. Each of them jumped and tensed, feeling a crawl of uncomfortable fright on the backs of their necks. Even Flower and Candy watching from one of the rescue boats in the bay tensed slightly. More in surprise at the volume from their quiet Byron however, than the unnerving pain in his voice. The soaking wet, but still beautiful actress kept her eyes tightly closed and she wondered briefly why she hadn’t agreed with the lawyers on this one, and let the stunt doubles take over. Perhaps she had been looking forward to being this close to Byron a little too much, perhaps she was a little too competitive when Byron said he would do the stunt himself - she felt she must also. The power of the winch above her propelled them exactly to the cliff ledge twenty-five feet above them with perfect precision. And then they stopped suddenly, through the small squint of her closed eyes she saw Byron’s arm reach upwards and grab the ledge. His other arm was wrapped around her in such a protective way that if she had had the nerve to look down it wouldn’t have upset her quite as much as it should. She heard the distant mutterings from the winch crew above them, in hushed whispers they were exclaiming expletives as if they were going out of fashion, but she could not hear clearly why. The director yelled above the rain machine “CUT”. The harness attaching them stopped them filming the crawl on to the ledge, this had been done on a film stage earlier. She felt the harness pull again and lift them to the safety of solid ground at the top of the cliff. The chattering of the actress’ teeth stopped her asking why the winch crew didn’t run toward them and help pull them to safety, the blue of her lips didn’t question why they actually seemed apprehensive to approach the two of them. Byron carefully bent the laws of physics back to where he found them and placed them gently on the cliff top, ten feet from the edge. To him, he had simply persuaded gravity that it should not include them temporarily, and who was gravity to argue with such power? Byron’s reality was more pliable than most other people’s. Flower nudged Candy’s arm on the boat they had been watching from, and nodded toward the small shape of Byron on the cliff top. “Cool.” She stated, smiling widely. “Do you think he could teach us to do that?” Candy grinned back. “Ever made love on the ceiling?” She whispered between giggles.

The shot was filmed only twice more, for the sake of the producers failing heart, and the ever paling faces of the insurance company representatives. The actress was surprised at the creeping feeling of disappointment when they were finally deattached from each other, and just before the crew came to unfasten them in their slow wary way, she took her chance. “Byron, I’ve enjoyed working with you, in case I don’t get a chance again I just wanted you to know this. I’ve had a blast, and as shy as you are, I wonder what it would have been like had you not been attached, you know, to the girls.” Byron remained quiet but his face gave away the shock he felt at her correct conclusion of his relationship status. Because of his reaction the beautiful actress could not resist the playful urge to push her own hips into his, brushing them purposefully against him. She was rewarded with a blush and a familiar pressure at her navel. She could not help but blush herself, and quickly turned her head to face the crew as they finally reached them, and cautiously unattached them. Byron continued to stare at her, his mind a place of mounting lascivious thoughts. True to their word the special effects team would never speak of what happened that day, they didn’t understand how, nor did they want to know.

The following, day before shooting started, Byron followed the Actress back to her trailer after make-up. It was early, too early for Flower and Candy that morning. He had left them in bed at the expensively rented hotel rooms provided for the film cast and higher paid crew. They had taken to staying near set to avoid unanswerable questions regarding their travel to and from work. They would come along later, they were not in any scenes that day, but had not missed a day’s shooting yet. They had arrived late a number of times however, and therefore it was no surprise to anyone they had not accompanied Byron to the set today. It did however surprise Byron as he sat across from the actress in her trailer with no other person around, the door to the trailer shut, only a few crew outside, busying themselves with setting up for the early start. “So…” Started Byron in the way of uncomfortable small talk, “Are you looking forward to today’s shooting?” Suddenly he closed his eyes and slapped his head in deep embarrassment. Today was part of the sex scene by the stream. The actress would be half-naked before him, and they would kiss, deeply, and Byron realised how egocentric he could sound. Luckily he heard the actress laugh from behind his tightly closed eyelids. “What ever can you mean Mr Diaeh?” She laughed again, not succeeding in putting him at his ease. Byron slowly opened his eyes. “It’s nothing to worry about, honestly. I’ll let you in to a secret: I have to wear these to stop the camera from filming bits of my chest that it shouldn’t.” The actress innocently pulled up her t-shirt to reveal a naked chest except for two round stickyplaster devices placed discretely over her nipples. “I’ve had to wear them before, and that was a crowd scene. I was in front of over twenty extras they had recruited for the scene, and there was me apparently showing my puppies to all and sundry. It doesn’t cover much obviously, but you’d be surprised what’s in a nipple.” Byron could not help his jaw, it had fallen open and was not going to shut easily. The actress realised she still had her t-shirt raised to her neck and bought it down quickly. She attempted to make amends. “Well you’ll be prepared for later anyway. And that’s good, you don’t want to look like that on film, not in front of the crew, it might prove to be a little embarrassing for you.” “And not for you?” Byron managed to stutter, glad to be able to move his mouth again. “I’ve told you I’ve done it before. This is one profession that it doesn’t pay to be too shy with your body. You’re a product in this business, and it’s an early lesson that you must begin to draw your own lines or risk being exploited. For instance I wouldn’t turn to the camera butt naked and say this is me take a look. But when a script calls for what I think is tasteful and it’s part of the character I’m playing then yeah I’ll do it. These plaster things stop the camera seeing what it shouldn’t anyway, it’ll ruin the shot to see two light grey discs swinging from my chest, and therefore they will do everything they can not to shot it.” She paused. “It seems to me Byron that you have a lot to learn about this business.” “You can say that again,” Byron answered. “Is there a guide book or instruction manual to it?” He asked flippantly. “To being an actor? No. But to being famous, or relatively so in the great celluloid scheme of things, yes there is.” She answered with mock sincerity. “One of the rules is never to enter into personal correspondence with your fans, should you want to or not. ‘Assume psychosis and you won’t be disappointed’ is how my agent put it. Which is pretty ironic really, considering the movie-going fans are the ones that put you where you are. Another is trust no one that says you’re the next Merryl Streep or the next Tom Cruise, they’re being paid to tell you that, should your film crash out, or for actresses your weight fluctuate more than it should, there will always be another next Merryl Streep or Tom Cruise. ” The actress answered a little more bitterly than perhaps she would have liked. “But you’ll find this out Byron, your going to be famous my boy, and I’m not being paid to say that.” She smiled dryly. “Sounds great.” Byron managed to answer sarcastically. “Fame is a fickle thing anyway, it’s worth remembering that what is in demand today is but buy one get one free tomorrow.” The actress looked the to floor and wondered again if the highs eclipsed the lows in the way she had wished them to, before fame made her privacy public. The actress went behind the counter to fix them some drinks, she flicked on the small stereo on the counter and the C.D. spun into action, with a soft voice singing something about games that were foolish. Byron was not sure what the trigger was, it could have been the vulnerability the Actress had showed to him in her answers, his need to protect ever present in his mind. It might have been they way she smiled at him from the counter with an openness that had been absent in his life, and that he had only ever seen in Flower and Candy. Or it might simply have been the actress’s impromptu flash and the smoothness of her skin in Byron’s eyes. Whatever it was he avoided the part of the brain that held consequences and thinking and sought out her thoughts. He waited for her to look up at him, making the connection. Silently she came from around the counter to where Byron now stood and without pause or hesitation in the one movement she kissed him. Her lips were soft, her tongue forceful as it sought his, she tasted of fresh fruit to him and the sensation overwhelmed all his other senses, it had started and it could not stop. They embraced each other tightly, aware of nothing but the sensation of touch. Self-servingly forgotten and at the back of Byron’s mind was his continual incitement of her actions, he had not pushed that hard, her feelings were already there but restrained by consequence and reason. They kissed for an age, hands and finger tips exploring the shape of their bodies through their clothes, lips pushing harder against each other, with abandon and urgency. The actress pulled away her eyes locked on Byron, for a moment he thought the connection was lost, but as she pulled her T-shirt free of her body in one fluid motion he knew otherwise. She made a small playful act of removing the plasters and they came off in two sharp movements, briefly the actress showed elaborated pain on her face forcing Byron to smile. Indeed he was keeping the momentum of desire between them but her actions were her own. Mostly. She pulled Byron from his top and squeezed her naked chest against his, as she sought out his lips once more. A dam had been breached from which appetite cascaded. He felt her lips leave his once more but his sigh turned to gasp as he felt them edge down his body kissing his chest, navel, and on release of his trousers, below his navel. The actress pulled him to the floor his back resting against the counter. She turned her kneeling body toward him and took his hand, placing it gently between her thighs, moving him to search beneath the material of her open shorts, she moved his hand in rhythmic symmetry to her own unique motion. To Byron Heaven was at the corner of Hell and Hades. The eventual ascension of their caresses and their temporary disregard for morality came to them with spasms of equal bliss for both. Unfortunately not thinking ahead and certainly not of consequences, Byron had miscalculated the energy required to incite the actress’ present, but well guarded, feelings. Not thinking of the consequences that the relaxation of such control would inspire.

The actress froze suddenly.

Without moving from her position, desperate not to make eye contact with him, she whispered quietly, to herself maybe, but Byron began to drown in guilt. “Shit. What have I done, why have I… Where the hell did that come from?” The actress moved quickly scrambling away from Byron grabbing her T-shirt as she disappeared around the edge of the counter. Byron sat motionless, staring at the blank space she once occupied. Then, in actions as quick as the actress’, he pulled up his trousers and grabbed his long sleeved T-shirt from the sofa it had been flung to: Dressing quicker than he had done in his life. He continued to hear her curse herself from behind the counter. Standing slowly, his eyes wide open in apprehension; he leant carefully over the top of the counter to see her. She was fussing with the buttons to her shorts, her frustration turning to anger, her anger fuelling frustration. All Byron could offer was: “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…” “No, no, it’s not you,” The actress quickly interrupted. “It must have been me, I lost it. Granted you should have turned me down, but Flower, Candy, what have I done? We’re suppose to film this morning, shit, shit.” Not once did the beautiful actress turn and face Byron. “Why didn’t you stop me? No, don’t answer that. I don’t know what came over me I had control over what I felt. Things like that shouldn’t have happened. Shouldn’t have happened.” She began to ramble, making apologises to the absent Flower and Candy, questioning again why it had happened. Byron could only remain silent, his remorse had come a little too late. Yet he knew truthfully his regret if it had not happened would have been as great. The actress’s ramble was becoming hysterical, the conflicting emotions in her head and the confusion of the unanswered why. Between his concern and guilt Byron began to race to his own assumptions, it must have been his manipulation of her actions, tapping into the feelings that she was unwilling to display. It had caused her sharp mind to race futilely for solutions that it could never grasp, he had tampered with her soul, and this was causing the quickly ascending stress in her voice. He thought on, Emily had believed she was alone, her actions had not been against her character. The actress however, knew her mind, knew something was not right, but would never figure out what. Mounting guilt led Byron to a conclusion that he regretted before he acted on it, and not entirely because it meant interfering with her thoughts once more. He had to persuade her racing mind that the kiss and all that followed had been a dream only, a dream she had actually had the night before. It meant he didn’t have to mess with her memory to the extent of erasing, just rearrange for it where their liaison had happened, dreams were safe, you can dream without consequence. However, part of the regret that he felt was the regret that he tried to banish, that had been pushed and hidden in the deep recesses of his mind. Yet still it announced loudly and without burden that simply, he wanted her to remember. He selfishly wanted the moment they shared to be remembered by them both, now it would only be his. For the actress it would cause but a wry smile as she dwelled upon what she dreamt of last night.

Byron altered it before he could change his own mind. The actress became quiet, and picked herself up from the floor, animation was absent from her face, as if directed she stood up placing her hands around the Jug of fresh orange juice and an iced glass. Byron whispered “action” beneath his breath, his voice and his heart heavy. “Sorry, lost it there for a moment” She beamed at him, “Just remembering a dream I had last night, one of those vivid technicolor dreams where every sense is touched. It just stays fresh in your mind for the whole day.” The actress blushed briefly and began to pour the orange juice; her eyes focused on the task as she waited for her cheeks to freshen to natural colour. “What was it about?” Byron asked with neither tone nor malice. “I can’t tell you. You were there though.” Flirtatiously she smiled wryly, but then gave in to the rising giggle in her throat. She drank down the glass of orange, quickly washing taste to meet memory in last night’s dream. Byron smiled back, his eyes stinging with threatening tears.

The Jewel, the kiss, and the naked girl

The sex scene, despite the obvious reference to sex, turned out to be as far from erotic to film as possible. Less crew on location meant slower completion time, and Byron unfortunately was not as dedicated as he should have been to the filming that morning. They were scripted to kiss deeply, a scene the actress had secretly been looking forward to, especially after last night’s dream. But it seemed much to the actress’ hurt that Byron’s mind was not on the scene. Flower and Candy had turned up by then, and watched from behind the camera, they looked to each other in some small confusion and believed it was their presence that was causing Byron’s mind to wander away from his job. The scene was set in ancient Greece, the part of Greece that looks like New Zealand. Byron’s odd skirt type apparel and period leather tied sandals were not altogether to his liking, and he had had to fight hard to keep some kind of underwear on beneath it. Even the actress’s quiet whisper to his ear that she was not actually wearing any beneath her white cotton robe failed to pull Byron’s attention to the scene. He had shared something with her that she would never share back and his melancholy was threatening the filming. Candy took matters in to her own hands, and in the recess between take twenty three and take twenty four she strode toward Byron, failing to notice his visible flinch as he assumed, in guilt, that she would hit him. “What’s up?” She asked quietly pulling him to one side and up out of shot on the grassy bank of the stream. “Is it because Flower and I are here? It’s ok. It’s just acting, you can enjoy it you know. But you also know that Flower and I will kill you if you enjoy it too much.” Byron went pale, Candy laughed at him. “I was only joking my darling. My you are a little tense this morning. Look I have an idea, what you’re trying to do is this.” Candy quickly stood on tiptoes and cupped the sides of his face in her hands enabling her to pull him forcefully toward her. She kissed him passionately, true passion, searching for his tongue she felt his arms wrap obediently around her holding her tighter and tighter, recovering quickly from his initial shook he gladly kissed her back. After long moments she pushed his lips abruptly away from hers and answered simply; “There that’s what you’re trying to do. She’s a pretty girl, we like her and we are never going to ask you to do this again. But if you don’t kiss her… what we did just then… won’t be happening for a long while. So kiss her damn you.” Candy smiled sweetly and turned away from him in one swift action, walking toward a muchamused Flower waiting for her behind the camera. Beside them the crew looked knowingly to each other; so it was the one called Candy that he was seeing, it had been a matter of gossip and speculation since the beginning of filming, and some of them would now win money on the answer. Byron turned to the actress who had found the whole show quite entertaining. “Ok,” He said turning to the director, “Action.” He walked toward the actress with purpose. He could do this, if he could just get over himself and do it. This was, after all, a memory they could both legitimately share. The cameras began to roll as they got into position. They walked toward the stream, sharing a scripted lovers joke as they did so. They sat as before at the stream’s edge and the actress dipped her toes, again, into the cool water. The kiss…The smiles subsided and their eyes opened wider, their lips were anxiously wetted in synchronicity. Slowly they leant into each other, consuming the moment as intensely as they could. Softly they kissed at first, but then with growing passion. Byron felt her mouth against his and relished in the freedom of truth wrapped in the lie of film. He was taken aback briefly by the force the actress was returning his kiss, she too had been keeping something back from the previous takes, and it seemed as if the background disappeared and only the two of them remained. The camera callously and noisily pulled closer to them bringing them prematurely back to the scene in hand, on cue Byron unattached the actress’s white cotton robe at the shoulder clasps, baring the curve of her spine to the whirling lens. The shot pulled around, filming them from the side as they continued to kiss. They moved gently in accordance to precise instruction and lay together against the cool grass. The beautiful actress paused briefly, pulling the kiss away from him slightly to alter her position. She smiled widely at him as she climbed against his chest, her half nakedness pressing tightly to his skin, he could feel the plasters. Byron could not help but smile back. He moved his arms about her, feeling the smoothness of her bared skin as they returned to the kiss. They were interrupted in their caress with infallible timing and perfectly on accursed cue: The goddess and her son kicked them into the stream to drown. The cold water was a blessing.

After shooting a further take with equal passion the director thought it wise to wrap it up for lunch. The actress dressed quickly, and despite herself was surprised when Flower and Candy came over to invite her to join them for lunch. She accepted with pleasure but excused herself for the moment, needing to dry up first. As she walked away the deceased smiles evaporated with disquieting speed and both Flower and Candy approached Byron with faces of stone. They stopped just a few inches away from him, each of them choosing an arm to slap. “Just remember my love, it is only acting.” Flower muttered under her breath. Byron opened his mouth like a goldfish and they could not keep the pretence up. Both deceased girls broke in to streams of laughter. “Ahh, my darling, don’t worry, you’re just a better actor than you thought.” Flower could not help her laughter at him, it would always amuse her that the older man seemed at times the younger child in their bizarre but perfect relationship. She took his face the same way Candy had and kissed him just as deeply. As she pulled away from him she grinned: “That is the difference to real life and acting poppet. Just remember which is which.” She grabbed his hand and led him back to the trailer in the next field. Candy caught hold of his other hand, trying to stifle further giggles at Byron’s silent and pale face. Behind them some of the crew just looked at each other. “Bastard.” One of them uttered to his friend.

Ten days later the filming was over and Byron would only shoot two further takes of the kiss the day after. His unhappiness at the lack of time given to further takes of the kiss, a pivotal moment in the film in his opinion, would be kept discreet. As discreet as the pleasure the Actress had felt, when his arms had been around her, and when his tongue had been in her mouth.

At the after film party Byron was asked by Flower and Candy how he thought it had all gone. He looked at their delicate features, at their honey-coated bodies barely, but beautifully, wrapped in the dresses they wore, and he answered them as truthfully as his mind would allow. “I’m glad it’s over.”

At the same party, in the last moments they would share alone together, the clever Actress asked Byron the same question. He looked upon her angelic face, seeing not for the first time her soul bared open in her liquid blue eyes. Engraving this memory in his mind he held her body in his eyes noticing not for the first time the apprehension in the curl of her small painted toes. He answered as truthfully as his mind would allow. “I liked kissing you.” She smiled and said softly; “I liked kissing you too.” He knew she was thinking of that dream as she said it, he saw her thoughts fall from her mind through her smile. She laughed and Byron managed to grin back at her, his unrequited desire for her gnawed at his bones with the frustration he felt at his power. Why have it at all, if he was cursed with what could only be called a conscience? He undeservingly returned to his reasons for breathing. Flower and Candy received him with open arms, their rule for being careful with shows of affection on set, being thrown away with consequenceless abandon, each of them hung from him like eager children. They were happy, they had just made a film, a feat most girls their age could only dream of. And they were both sleeping with the leading man. They were proud of their idea, they were proud that they had seen it through, they were proud of the agonisingly shy Byron. Perhaps they had been the most mature in attitude on the set, the film was still business, but the child in them was continually awed by the whole process. They had made a film. And if they knew anything else, they had decided not to speak of it.

Byron’s first autograph was given in the first week the film had come out, it said “To Mary, thank you for watching the film, Byron.” He would always remember it, it was the snow flake that became the avalanche. The film was an immediate box office success in the country of Byron’s birth and the country of the Actress’ birth. It was party to critical acclaim from both the audience and the industry itself. Byron began to get offers for other films in daily doses. It seemed that when you were in favour, you really were in favour. As a late entry into the Oscars, the film was nominated three times, best actress in a leading role, best special effects, and of course best actor in a leading role. Noticeable by its absence was best picture but Byron had decided a while ago only to meddle in his own affairs. The accompanying notoriety was not all to Byron’s taste, he found himself the wipe rag for the chip wrapping newspapers, his personal life was investigated, from the first story regarding the scar, reputedly from some cult worship so diverse it became almost amusing. Almost. His disruptive childhood was investigated, and when that failed, made up. After this story he had decided to speak quietly to the journalists involved. He suggested politely to them that they might want to pursue other, more deserving, stories. Unsurprisingly not another word that was not a direct quote was ever printed again and his life, from that moment on, was merely described as ‘private’.

Games of the foolish are often the most self-destructive games to play. With these words as far from his mind as they could possibly be, he attended the World Famous Oscar night: On invitation with Flower and Candy, and an unprofessional smile the size of Kansas.

The road to Hollywood is paved with morality of the masses, the sidewalks are paved with their depravity.

The saying ‘it’s no fun being dead’ certainly did not apply to either of the angelic deceased. Flower and Candy had anticipated the big day with ascending fanfares of excited squeaks. They had had the day marked on the calendar with huge circles of various shades of red lipstick since the nominations had been announced. That the nominations, or at least one of them, was a predetermined conclusion did not stop them leaping in glee when the announcement was made. The other two surprise nominations had not been tampered with, and it provided the deceased with a bottomless reservoir of pride. An outside confirmation of self-worth, although reputedly unnecessary, is always nice to receive. A further unforeseen consequence, but a cause of much delight, was that clothing designers had been calling over the last few weeks. Caught up in the whirlwind of hype and publicity, generated promises of the most accumulated airtime. They offered a barrage of one-off outfits for their approval, for free, and these were not your high street designers. Much to Byron’s disgust he was picked a suit by his young lovers and was threatened with bodily harm should he not wear it on the night. He was not even allowed to wear his broken-in boots, and specifically ignored the comments that they had been broken-in several years earlier and that now they were just broke. Despite this Byron’s happiness was a reflection of Flower’s and Candy’s, he resonated their smiles within himself as if it was the warmth of life blood itself.

“Are you excited?” beamed Flower as she untied her robe and stood naked before him the morning of the big day. Her hair and make up had been done professionally, by an outrageously expensive and exclusive stylist. Also supplied for free. Byron disliked having to stay over in LA. He did not see why they could not just have travelled from home. The ever-realistic deceased had told him again and again about raising unneeded suspicion. They maintained that as professionally plastic as this town was the excitement in the air on Oscar day was a life smiling experience in itself. They wanted to be near ‘the industry people’. Translate that into the famous and you had some of your answer. But who would blame them, they were not watching from the side lines any more, they were there, they had invites. These had been surreptitiously produced and checked at least twenty times already that morning, just to make sure. “You’re at the Oscars my darling, it’s our day.” Candy suggested with a smile, reading only Byron’s expressionless expression of melancholy, as she disrobed with Flower. The two deceased girls stood naked before him. He had seen them this way a hundred and more times before, but never had they looked to him as they did now. Their beauty was undeniable, but it wasn’t that, they looked as if they didn’t need him as much as he needed them any more. It bothered him, and filled him with pride. He sat up from the bed easing himself slowly to the edge, the girls smiled slyly as they each watched his progress from the corner of their eyes. He stood up quietly letting the bed sheets fall silently from his waist and sneaked up behind them both, his hands reached for them caressing the shapes of their backs before easing his fingers nonchalantly around their bodies to cup their youth inspired and gravity denying breasts. “And we’ve just spent two hours getting our hair and make up done for you to drag us over the bed backwards?” Candy protested, pulling away. “We don’t think so.” Laughed Flower, retreating to the same safe distance as Candy. They turned to face his obvious frustration, and made sounds of pity as it twitched expectantly before them. Flower and Candy could not resist laughing at the poor dejected soul before them, his smile playing on his lips as he feigned a hurt expression of rejection. Slowly turning toward each other but keeping their eyes on him at all times, they kissed each other seductively. Winding Byron up was a passtime of infinite pleasure. “Right that’s it!” Byron declared, as he gave chase around the not inexpensive hotel room. Outside the members of the film’s special effect crew walked past the door and, on hearing the excited chase behind the door, could only manage to utter: “Bastard.”

Sex was refused: He was not even allowed to kiss them in case he smudged their lipstick. But they were alright to kiss each other? Protested Byron strongly. Yet still his grin, as he left the hotel room, was of a mouse that had his own key to the cheese cupboard.

Their limousine waited outside for them, it stood in a long snake sleek line of a dozen other limousines that had been provided for a number of the other guests at the Hotel by their respective film companies. The sun was warm and high above them as Flower pulled energetically at Candy’s arm, pointing with indiscreet discretion at the famous couple beside them that waited for the limousine behind theirs. The Worldknown actor nodded in salutation toward them, Byron responded with an unconcerned nod in reply and waited for the car to pull round. A nod so expressionless you knew it had been practised a hundred times, for even the most melancholy of person was prone to the sneaky type of excitement, that manifests itself without warning as a high pitched and hideously embarrassing squeak in the back of one’s throat. Candy and Flower saw no need for such collected disposition, and maintained that excitement such as this didn’t jump up a slap you about the face every day of your life, and therefore why the hell should you ignore it? Life, and death, was about freedom. Cage that freedom behind the dictated standards of others and you would never be as free a spirit as you strived to be. To this Byron could only smile, and wonder with some pride filled envy what it felt like to be Flower and Candy.

They were not the first, nor the last guests to arrive, the last places had strategically been taken by the biggest stars, or the biggest ego’s depending on which way you chose to look at it. The black car pulled up to their destination with creeping grace, leaving Byron to stare at the daunting red carpet that loomed before his firmly closed limousine door. He thanked the manufacturer of tinted windows and sweated quietly to himself. He was unaccustomed to feeling as scrutinised and as watched as he felt right now. Fame to Byron was an unsettling and highly reactionary mixture of anonymous adoration and utter hatred balanced precariously on the tip of knife-edge. The knife was held in the criticising hand of your public, your last movie, or last arrest, whichever the more recently acquired. However you perceived it, people were there to cheer you or they were waiting with eager sadism for you to fall on your arse, or on something sharp and rusty, depending on the public concerned. For a young man used to, and happy with, being ignored for the most part of his life, this expensive circus waiting for him (with the patience of a rabid dog) seemed as far from the boyhood dream as it was possible to be. But the problem was that it was also infectious: If you are cheered loud enough you can walk barefoot over broken glass, and it wouldn’t even occur to you to question who exactly it was that was kindly laying the glass before your feet. The ambiguous cheering from outside the car mutated inside Byron’s head into one big cheer for him, suitably deluded he finally stepped from the car accompanied, and guarded against bolting, by the beautiful Flower and Candy. The limousine drove quietly and quickly away and removed any chance of salvation for Byron’s deluded resolve. His briefly obtained fearlessness quickly dissolved. As a result the red carpet stroll that should have lasted long enough to talk to at least half the hundred or so beckoning T.V. crews lining the barriers, lasted a lot shorter than that. Byron would have had his lovers running if it hadn’t had been for the shoes they were wearing. The flash bulbs, that twinkled aggressively before his eyes like a bad acid trip, had Byron wishing for the darkness at the end of the light. Righteously annoyed at their forceful shepherd, Candy and Flower promptly debarked from Byron’s advancing body and walked defiantly toward the T.V. crews. They were known as the young scriptwriting, cameo role playing, aesthetically appealing, and multi-talented producers, able to get a film moving in record time. Hollywood loved them. And they were damned if they were not going to show off their outfits. The infamous red carpet had thankfully filled up sufficiently to let Byron hide between the slow procession of “industry” folk, someone touched his hand as he protectively peered between the numerous faces and directly at his partners. “Hello Byron.” It was the actress, her smile easy and unflustered as she beamed at Byron and half a dozen flashing bulbs. “It’s a zoo isn’t it?” She asked. “Those that are known and those that are unknown except to those that are known. A big mess of ego, money, and slush puppies.” The actress kept hold of his hand and covertly caressed the palm of his hand with her thumb, soothing his anxiousness. “I’m just not really used to this sort of thing. Maybe I suffer a little from shyness.” He admitted. “No shit.” Replied the actress sarcastically, smiling in jest. “Come on.” She said spying the two girls talking a little sharply to the third film crew who had asked about the name of their dresses and not the film. Candy had just finished explaining that her tits and legs were not what the film was about and therefore why did the male portion of the T.V. crew insist on examining them with such ardour…or something along those lines…minus the colourful ‘English’ witticisms, and swearing. The actress pulled Byron by the hand as she deftly swam through the crowds, interrupting and rescuing Flower and Candy with two big kisses and a gentle, but firm, back-turn to the camera crew and a slightly upstaged presenter. “Silly fuckers,” Cursed Candy, growling with further colourful displays of old English witticisms, before she turned and beamed at the actress. “Are you excited then?” The actress asked of Flower and Candy, her hand still laid firmly in Byron’s. “Unlike sour puss there, we’re loving it.” Answered Flower, ribbing Byron at the same time. Her excitement re-emerged, glad for the new set of ears to excite to. “You were right it’s a fever that hits the town… and to be involved, it’s just…” “I know, it’s great isn’t it. This I would have to say, beneath the studio politics and all the plastic, is the day that makes all the work worth it. People get awards and tears are shed, and the smiles from most are no longer fake.” Candy and Flower turned to Byron and in unison poked their tongues out to say I told you so. Byron bowed in defeat, finally letting a smile pull his mouth upward. “We’re sitting together because of the film, do you want to go in together?” Asked the actress. She had come alone and the deceased were more than happy to have someone they knew with them, someone who didn’t mind expressing animation. “There you are Byron darling, you can be escorted by three beautiful women surely that must put a smile on your face?” Poked Candy. Byron just stuck his tongue out in reply and grinned at them, despite himself. Flower neatly grabbed his spare hand and held it tightly with her small fingers, and as the actress had still not let go of Byron’s other hand Candy took hold of hers swinging it playfully. The obliging actress beamed widely. The pictures in a certain paper the next day had the caption beneath the picture: “Bastard.”

Miss J Peterson had settled down in her rooms at the School, her rug placed neatly over her knees, a teas-maid and a plate of biscuits sat beside her on the small table next to her armchair. At 58, never married and, through a self-dependency bordering on the severe, was not about to meet someone at this stage of life. It was the one of her vices that she took very seriously. Ever since the golden age of cinema she had watched the Oscar ceremonies, and whereas now she didn’t necessarily agree with some of the trash the film studios were producing she still could not help getting wrapped up in the pure glamour of it all. The television twinkled into life before her and she smiled warmly at its escapist glow. Cable television was one of the few technological advances she agreed with. The ceremony was live this early in the morning, and wonderfully uncut. She had hours of star filled glamour laid out in front of her and would relish each one. About an hour in to the show all of that changed. No, she thought to herself, it can’t be. A few years ago two of her students were knocked down and killed on an unsanctioned absence from their dormitories. Not their first after-hours trip, according to facts emerging during the enquiry. Miss Peterson had always been what one might call a strong character, but the incident had pushed her to near breakdown. There followed accusations, calls for her dismissal from the parents of the children involved. The first interest the parents had shown the children in a long time if you asked Miss Peterson. But the School board had stood firmly behind her and she had remained in post, security for the school was of course soon upgraded for the board had to show action of some sort, even if a little late. The incident had left Miss Peterson very upset, she was the one they called to identify the bodies in the first instance. The parents somewhere out of the country, on business or pleasure, she was never sure. But now she saw her two girls, impossibly, on the television screen in front of her. They had been a little unruly at school and her opinion of their academic capability had not been the highest, but they had been her girls, and she had affection for all her girls. Although it took her a while to admit, the school was a little quieter without them there. Not in a good way, she pondered. The sight of the girl’s small broken and bloodied bodies at the hospital morgue was an image that haunted her to this day. Yet here they were in front of her, impossibly. A young actress Miss Peterson vaguely recognised whisked the girls away from the TV crew as they cursed small but generous expletives. The Schoolmistress stared at the screen for two solid hours without moving, her attention far from the flickering pictures before her. And then she screamed. Two weeks later Miss Peterson was retired. The following short years left of her life were spent alone, only venturing out to attend church, three times a week.

The winners were announced, and surprisingly Byron lost. On the announcement he smiled quietly to himself and clapped the winner loudly, Candy and Flower just looked at him, not disappointed, just surprised. The winner mentioned Byron in his acceptance speech a number of times, Byron simply nodded and smiled in the right places, uncomfortably seeing himself in the large screens to either side of the stage each time his name was mentioned. His yearning for fame had become somewhat jaded. Yet, ironically, his fame grew because of his loss and amusing rumours circulated the industry and the papers about vote fixing against the newcomer. Byron disliked forgone conclusions and his power was growing restless within him. Fame had not mattered as much as he thought. It’s surprisingly different from how you imagine it.

The actress, however, did pick up her statue, much to the glee of both Flower and Candy, who commenced in standing on their seats and cheering loudly as she walked up to the podium. Again Byron’s name was mentioned, with of course both Flower and Candy’s who “..had provided the support and inspiration for the project, and the most fun she had had on any set”. Had Miss Peterson been conscious her suspicions would have been confirmed. Hollywood fell a little deeper in love. The special effects team did not win either, but in the scheme of things they had not really minded, for they knew they were never to be short of work for the rest of their lives. Those that knew the technicality of these effects remained in awe of them. No matter how you filtered and viewed the images, there were no wires to the seen.

The night drew on. They were invited to several parties, and attended every one. Candy had insisted on continuing the search from venue to venue until she found somewhere that at least served a decent pint. After half a dozen they finally found one. A household name from England had flown a supply in, thanks to the advantages of wealth. The actress had opted to stay with them throughout the night. Partly because of Byron, and partly because of the infectious joy, in the face of just about everything, Flower and Candy carried. She indulged somewhat suspiciously in her first pseudo English pint. There is something forever endearing about a girl drinking from a pint glass, the glass’ rim covering her entire face as she sips in complex and delicate gulps. Candy drank her pint in one, much to the wide-eyed appreciation of the young actress. Flower followed, drinking just half and making her eyes water. Byron solemnly sat to the side of them, he watched them distractedly, his chest turning over with a strange yell. He wanted to be here, but he wanted more. No…he wanted less. His thoughts turned to Death once more, he often thought about her, her smile, her rejection. But more recently as the manufactured infamy took its hold he wondered who he was once more, and why he was. He looked to the eyes of his life as they giggled together, forcibly and politely yanking a passing waiter by the sleeve and asking for a further round, this time with chasers. Their smaller table was to the back of the majestic hotel function suite, decorated for one evening only in brash and fashionably tasteless gold statues. The waiters and waitresses moved like ants through the crowds, supplying the free and abundant inhibition removing nectar to the rich. Ironic that with money, more things become free. All around him voices and faces of the famous, the rich, and the purposely not famous but very rich. It was a surreal setting that did nothing for his humour, it painted his face with a shrouded frown, which whilst expressionless, spoke volumes of his discomfort. He thought of Death’s lips, touching his, her tongue brushing his own. Feeding his heart and rekindling the husk he believed he had into an engorged, brimful, and painful organ. He thought of her hand in his, the sensation of his fingers entwined around hers as if they were their full bodies, heated and entwined in post-climatic sex. His mind ran on, his eyes seeing nothing but his memories and wants, he ignored the rapidly filling ashtray on the table and absently flicked his cigarette butt away from him deep in his own thoughts. The first he realised that the discarded butt had struck someone was the heavy-handed clout to the side of his head. A suited bodyguard, a little over zealous in his duties, now stood beside Byron with a look of malice that came from love of the job a little too much. The small ego inflated film star, the bodyguard was paid to look after, stood behind his eclipsing bulk and sneered at Byron with the smugness of safety. He rubbed his head exaggeratedly. In the seconds that followed Flower and Candy probably yelled, firstly in shock and worry for Byron, and then in a torrid 101 of famous English curses at the guard and his advancing friends, it does not do to have just one bodyguard these days. If there had been time it was debatable whether his deceased lovers would have thrown themselves over the table and begun introducing the guards to the undeniable quality of the toes of Italian shoes, especially when placed hard in the bollocks, but there was not time. Byron flinched only slightly at the impact, snapping his head to the side and glaring at the guard through his dark sunglasses. Byron’s eyes were darker still than the reflective glass he scowled into. The bodyguard hesitated, not used to his punches being received with quite so little effect. Had the bodyguard not been wearing sunglasses he might have seen the start of a tempestuous storm in Byron’s eyes. Closer still and he would have seen something that resembled lightning. But if he had, he wouldn’t have seen it for long. With the impact of a train the Bodyguard flew backwards. Knocking some of his companions to the floor on his journey that ended with a thud as he hit the back wall of the room. A comical indentation of a bemused man was left, as he slid down the wall, falling to a slump. As the other guards, the actress, and some other bystanders watched in confused stupor, Flower looked to Candy. They saw the storm and both reached out to grab Byron by the arm, knowing he was not yet finished. Byron did not acknowledge them, nor did he turn to them as they yelped, pulling their hands away sharply as if they had reached for a burning stick. The Actress’ confusion grew as she saw her friends’ hands hot and red as they pulled away. No one had seen Byron hit the man, in fact he probably hadn’t. Not in the conventional sense. And nobody could explain why the man now clutched his heart in pain, no breath in his lungs to yell, and why the corners of his shielded eyes seemed to be weeping blood. “Byron.” Flower tried to yell, but he still paid no attention, his eyes were fixed and burning through the other man’s heart. The confusion around them increased in volume, to Byron’s ears there was silence, broken only by one voice. “So Byron babe, can I get you a drink?” Everything stopped, Byron’s hate, his heart, the silence around them, the unfortunate Bodyguard’s life. He turned his head slowly, and to the side of their raised table area, leaning nonchalantly against the railing directly beside them, stood Death. Her deep black dress fell over her body, caressing her rather than worn by her. The smooth folds of dark silk hung from delicate straps over her shoulders, the back of the dress plummeted to the base of her spine. The cloth fell around her feet gently laying across strapped sandals, painted toes as dark as her dress. Once more sound filtered out of Byron’s ears, vision from his eyes, for all but the breathtaking beauty of the lady Death. His eyes stung, glazed with tears, his mouth open and mute, his heart in his eyes obvious to all, the actress, and painfully, the deceased. Death smiled back at him, her lips the meaning of existence. She saw the immediate subservience in his eyes, knew that she could ask anything of him. “Tart.” She laughed, pulling him away from his iconic worship. “Would you like a drink?” She asked again, ignoring Flower and Candy who sat with muted anger to Byron’s side. Making the insult seem somewhat deeper, Death held her hand out to him, and he took it. Flower and Candy went to say something but slumped back to their seats, not giving her the satisfaction. The actress had a hundred questions but asked none: afraid she would upset her friends and afraid more that her voice might carry some of the jealousy she strangely felt. The whole thing made her uncomfortable, like she was way, way out of a loop she didn’t want to be in. There was still something of a commotion going on behind them. She saw the strange woman, who had taken Byron, glance behind her in their direction. The atmosphere changed subtly, perceptible only to herself, and maybe Flower and Candy but they were too busy muttering under their breath to care. The commotion was still a commotion but instead of anger generated toward the disappearing Byron, it altered to confusion and distraction, no one seemed to remember what had actually happened, they still stood around the newly departed, but were uttering sentences of compassion and confusion rather than the previous blame. All this did nothing to the Actress’ sensibility so she took firm hold of the shot glass in front of her and downed it in one. Had she looked to the side of her, she would have seen that Flower and Candy matched her movements in perfect harmony. “Fuck.” All three of them whispered in unison.

The beginning of the inevitable end (or) I’m too depressed to play in the traffic just stick the knife in my hearts dead anyway.

Two lovers sat beside each other on bar stools at a party neither of them should have been at, but then neither of them should really exist at all. “Death angel, my love, you’ve not returned my phone calls.” Byron uttered with a jovial sarcasm, the type of sarcasm which is unfortunately too vicious to be taken jovially. He immediately regretted it, negating the point of opening his mouth in the first place. He hated the complications of being alive, speech being one of his top five. Death merely looked at him, reading his regret and passing no judgement. Instead she smiled sweetly and said. “I’ve missed you.” Byron’s head, filled with the near omnipotent power of a fraction of Death’s, failed miserably to gauge whether this was meant as truth or retort. “I have babe, believe me or not it won’t change it.” Her eyes looked into his and he saw again the glimpse of his happiness in her arms. Should there be one soul mate, as some people believe, Death (without a soul but collector of infinite) would be his. He knew this, maybe it was the filming he’d done, the story of a hundred lives with one journey, maybe he lived in a fictional world where the idea of happy endings was common place and life didn’t suck quite so realistically. No offence to the Lady Life of course. He knew only that a kiss would explain the reason, the point, to remind his lungs to keep breathing. She made his eyes sting and he turned away briefly. Death looked at him with the compassion of a lover. No, not a lover, the lover. She leant toward him, pulling his face gently toward her, and kissed him gently: A short, brief kiss of strawberries and euphoria. Byron touched his hand to her face softly, returned the kiss with another pulling away only to smooth her hair over ear tenderly. His eyes leaked a little freely, his smile, a stranger to his face, pulled easily at the corners of his mouth, as something resembling peace swept over his tired heart. “I’ve missed you too…” “So how have you been, Mr movie star?” She interrupted for the sake of conversation. He grinned uncomfortably. “Yeah well… ok. Not using your gift to its life changing potential I guess.” “I don’t know.” She said nodding toward the scene behind them. “I didn’t mean to actually kill….” “Yes you did,” She cut him short. “It was his time anyway. It was this way or in a pissing contest between two rival firms later. Don’t worry, and don’t apologise, there is nothing you can do that can’t be undone. Or isn’t supposed to happen anyway.” She paused “Although I admit the two dead groupies were a surprise to me.” Byron felt immediately protective, and a little pleased at her badly veiled hints of jealousy. “They have kept me alive, or made me alive for the first time, I don’t know, but they are my reason since you left me.” Death went to interrupt again but Byron continued forcefully. “Ok, not left me, just didn’t come with me when I asked. And don’t say it’s not the right time again, I don’t get that and I don’t think I ever will, but I realise I’ve waited, been waiting for you. I’ve filled my head with distractions but like taxes you’re the only definite thing in life, and impossible to forget. You see I have done things, thought things that have made me wonder who the hell I am, what I’m capable of. Even that man over there: his name Brant Chanting (also known as the heavy dead guy). I don’t actually care he’s dead, or that I killed him. I am actually a little disappointed he didn’t suffer more. What does that make me, angel? Was I like this before I met you and I just have more power now? Why did you do this to me?” Death looked at him quietly, her face showing concern and surprise at his little outburst, had she read him wrong? Why was she so upset for upsetting him? Of course she cared for him, liked him, loved him? Well, he was unlike anyone she had ever met, and the duration of their meetings certainly surpassed anything she was used to. Her sister followed lives, she was there from the beginning, at conception of each life, there at each birth, there through out everyone's brief existence, and she loved each and every one of them, well almost every one. But Death…she was finality. No one really wanted to see her. She held with her the realisation that she would be there at the end of everything, to turn the light off, close the door, put the key under the mat. That kind of realisation is a burden unimaginable, but it was hers. Who would be there at the end of her existence? No one. She knew the way but the company would be nice, and Byron's company, well nicer still. Faltering in her own distractions Byron noticed the glassy touch of tears in her eyes and immediately regretted opening his mouth, though the type of regret that becomes an oxymoron, relieving regret, you shouldn't say, you do say, it had to be said, but it sucks. "I'm sorry.." He started. "No, don't be. I deserved that, the irony of Death getting a reality check. Funny really. Come on, drink your drink." Two glasses, that were not there a second ago, sat in front of them on the bar. Byron sipped his slowly, watching her face with intensity, only fleetingly noticing the drink was quite possibly the best he had ever tasted. Death absently rolled her tongue around the straw in her drink staring into the mirrored bar wall, as she had done a lifetime ago in the place of waiting. Her orange painted lips slightly parted allowing her tongue to flick delicately around the plastic tube. Byron put his drink down, took hers away, pulling her from her thoughts and in the same motion took her in his arms and kissed her deeply. Death responded and after the initial shock, and tingling pleasure, wrapping her arms around him, uncomfortable when static her embrace ran around his frame, searching to kiss deeper and deeper still. The couple’s arms grabbed at each other, pulling each other closer, pushing each other away just to feel the grab and embrace again, a fire blazed on their tongues as they fell further in to the oblivion of each other. Onlookers became uncomfortable, a commotion of hushed disapproval and jealousy grew in waves, "…where’s her hand now?… his trousers are unbuttoned… is that a nipple?… they can't do that here!!" Death's softness was unrivalled as Byron's hand searched wildly for her opening, she parted her thighs slightly and let him in with a soft gasp, running her hand over his, feeling his fingers push deeper inside her, entwined with hers. Death withdrew her fingers and pushed them softly into their kiss, his tongue tasting the sweetest flavour it had ever tasted. She released him from his trousers pulling him to his feet in front of her as she remained seated on the bar stool, wrapping her calves around his legs pulling him closer, she touched herself with him, nudging his closeness at her wet opening, his tip feeling the beginning of her warmth as he just parted her lips. And then…. the force hit him square in the chest, he was lifted from his feet and thrown back ten feet, the corner railing of a raised dining section breaking his continued aerial display. Aware, after impact, of his unveiled state, he quickly pulled at his trousers, to hide and salvage at least a small part of his dignity. This automatic response delayed his confusion and hurt as to why he was now lying here. He raised his head from the crumpled heap he currently laid in, to see if Death, his love, had suffered the same impact. She sat perfectly arranged and undishevelled upon the bar stool that seconds before she had pulled him to. She looked strange to him, emotionless and still, her eyes that stared at him seemed to be glowing dimly blood red, just perceptible an orange smoke rose gently from them like a fired pistol. The clatter he heard around him, the shock and gasps from onlookers disappeared immediately, obvious by it's sudden silence, and people once more moved around them as if they weren't even there, and as if nothing had happened. Confusion raged around his head, he looked behind him to see where Flower and Candy were, immediately anxious at their reaction to his public show of affection. His unfaithfulness more to the point. He saw them in the distance, they sat unconcerned or unaware of what had just happened and continued with their drinking, looking over every few moments, to check and mutter at the display before them. But on seeing he wasn't there Candy stood up quickly, now an expression of concern and anger showing vividly on her small face. Byron gathered himself up and stood so Candy could see him, perplexed and annoyed she was unsure whether to go to him or not. Not one for being shy she left the table and marched toward him. "So what's going on, what's happened, happening? And what the hell are you doing over here?" Her voice bruised his heart, he touched her face gently, she pulled away, he touched it again, she let him, her face was still angry but concern, despite herself, rose to the surface. "What does she want?" She asked again. Candy caught his hand with hers pulling it defiantly from her cheek, but still keeping hold of it, she wanted answers. "To check up on me I think," He lied, or thought he was lying, he didn't actually know why she was there. "What's wrong with you Byron? You look agitated, even a little anxious. You've been distant the last couple of days, you re-arranged the Oscar ceremony so you didn't win, you lose your temper and people are dying. We've always known you're… well not you're average human being, Flower and I are dead but not stupid. But you have always retained this compassion, this energy for us. I know you think it's us keeping you going, but believe me, two sixteen year old girls, in a world completely alien to them, they needed you just as much. Need you still." Her voice hushed as she barely whispered, "We love you Byron, you are the biggest pain in our tight little arses, but we do. I love you. Now please can we go now, our actress friend said she'd come home with us. And you never know…she has got this little thing for you." Candy trailed off looking up toward him with well practised, and very successful, doe eyes. She smiled suggestively, covered in sugar. Byron looked over his shoulder at Death again, still she looked completely devoid of expression, of emotion. She stared back at him a marble cold beauty, her smooth outline seemingly etched out of the background, bringing it forward as if the world was not and was never going to be quite so real as she was. So perfectly lucid. But within his head his cacophony of questions were silenced suddenly by her voice. Strong, but with notes of compassion and apology perfectly audible and perfectly conspicuous within the booming pseudo blankness of her tone. "I'm sorry, this can't happen now, this isn't the right time…" Within his own head he immediately returned an answer, a question, a demand. "What the hell do you mean? Is it me? I thought you wanted us as much as I did a few seconds ago. That kiss, it was full of love. Ignited and molten into passion. For each other, not just me, I know that, I felt it. So what the hell do you mean ‘not the right time’?" His voice rang in his own head, inwardly deafening as it bounced across his skull. He had spat the question in his reactive fury. Barely perceptible, it still pleased him to see Death's face flinch momentarily. Regaining its emotionless stare, she answered his fury with her own. Or rather a half-hearted attempt at displeasure, her inward voice was racked with a feeling of being made to do something against her will. Byron felt it, didn't understand it, but felt it. Still her answer was clear: "You cannot question me, Byron." She advised more as a fact than a demand. "This…us…are not right, not now. We may be soon, even will be soon, but no not now. Don't presume to feel for me Byron, you can love me, I can't stop that, but as to how I feel about you, don't, you couldn't imagine, even with your gift from me, the feelings I am capable of, the knowledge I hold. You are human Byron, I am not. Not now. I will see you soon." Death slid from the stool and walked away. After a few paces she vanished. The image of her, seen leave the building by the rest of the party, didn't look back either. Byron wanted to shout, wanted to cry, wanted to kill something.

He felt the presence of her hand before he remembered her slight frame standing before him waiting for an answer. Byron looked back quickly. Realising, or understanding, at the same time that what had been a conversation for him had only been a few seconds to Candy. Time and the re-clarification of the background slipped back to normal, unnoticed by everyone again except Byron, he had always felt a alone, but never quite as much as he felt it now. "I'll take you home." He said, managing to smile softly at her. With a small ‘eep’ of glee Candy turned with a bounce and led Byron victoriously back to the table, the smile he had managed fell quickly from his face in to the street below. It returned, with the effort of a god, and stayed easily with the wings of angels, as Candy slid him on the seat between her and Flower and they both held him tightly, taking turns in kissing him as deep as they dared. The actress, smiling through the velvet haze of too many English pints, let the contagious happy relief get the better of her and skipped cautiously from her own chair and on to Byron's lap. Placing herself as carefully as she could she waited for a gap in the cycle and pushed her own lips to his, searching with the urgent but delicate resolve of timid nakedness to open his lips with her tongue. Byron's eyes opened wide, he looked quickly at Candy and Flower, not expecting to see them laughing with each other at him and pushing the Actress further into his lap, his mind was successfully distracted. Completely distracted.

"Take us home" he heard in each of his ears from two familiar voices.

 

"Please" he heard against his lips from the American Actress.

 

"Bastard!" An envious and disheartened group of men watched and uttered in unison from behind their table.

 

"Damn" No-one heard as Death scowled in regretful jealousy from the shadowed corner of the room.

The impatience of madness

Byron woke uneasily in the Hotel room, three small warm bodies curled around him. He raised his head slowly and looked within his outstretched arms, soft skin touched his body, laying across him sweet and heavily, the soft shallow sleep breath of the Actress the only breathing to be heard, it warmed his chest as she exhaled. He should have been happy. He thought back to last night and Death, he paused at what had happened when the four of them had arrived back to the hotel. He felt unfaithful: to Death, to Flower, to Candy. He couldn't even raise a smile at the recollection of their three delicate bodies entwined with his, the smell of sex and perspiration hung sweetly in the air around them, warming it and pinning him down like the limbs of others. He knew he couldn't move and his mind took advantage of it, pushing love, hate, self-loathing down his throat to the pit of his stomach. What was he doing? What could he do now? He felt like a caged animal, incarcerated by his own self imposed ideals, this situation, these three beautiful girls giving him the single most remarkable sexual experience of his life, his smile should be as wide as the moon. Instead he was wracked with a strange compulsion for self-destruction, and the pursuit of Death. When he first moved from the country to the city he had aspirations of finding Death: the beautiful female figure that he knew, in his soul, existed. He had seen her. He had had dreams that were just dreams, that should remain dreams, no real practical aims, or even directions. But in his quiet moments of pure driven fantasy he had still never imagined to be where he lay right now. So why did he feel like this, like a man that had been given everything only to find out he wanted, deserved, nothing? A small body stirred on his left side, Candy blearily opened one eye, and looked up his chest to his face, she kissed his skin without moving her head more than a few inches, “Morning love” she whispered. She turned her attention across his torso to the naked delicacy of the actress. “To look at her you wouldn’t think she had it in her,” She gave a wry smile, “figuratively speaking of course.” Candy giggled in a whisper turning her mouth against his chest to mask the noise. Her soft shaking woke a sleepy Flower who somehow managed to lie across and between the actress and Byron and still have an arm draped softly on Candy’s bare navel. “You’re making enough noise to wake the dead,” She whispered, barely waking. She kissed his chest the same way Candy had moments before with the gesture of familiar and habitual sweetness. Byron smiled down his chest to them, an easy smile bypassing his internal torture to just breathe the moment. “I’m sorry about last night,” He began, “about Death…” “Shush,” Candy whispered, holding her finger to his lips in one quick movement, she indicated to the sleeping actress, motioning him to remain silent in front of their guest. Who might have trouble enough reconciling herself to her uninhibited alcohol assisted actions of the previous night, let alone finding out that she had also dipped a toe in to the world of necrophilia. “Besides,” Candy whispered, “Nothing happened, we know about your past with her, the feelings you had, but they are just that, past tense, aren’t they…” It wasn’t a question it was a statement. Candy did not want to admit to it being anything else, it would only emancipate worms. And she carried with her a warmth from last night, a warmth from waking to feel herself naked against his hot skin and the sweet appealing bodies of her lover Flower, and her new, close, friend the actress. Flower bit his skin gently underlining Candy’s sentiment. She too did not want to dwell on the past, either on their first meeting in the waiting place, or of Byron’s hurt as they saw Death refuse him. Everyone has a past, but not everyone leaves it there. Events of history shape events of the future, but they should only provide the clay, the sculpting should be open, self-gratifying, and new. But that's too easily said, idealistic, and not realistic in the mind of a mad man. But who are you if not your past? Who are you if you cannot see your future? You are empty, alone, and tantalisingly near to sweet oblivion. But then wanting death is still a want. To be completely apathetic requires a dedication unsurpassed in its indifference, and if you have mastered that, then you are probably already dead. Byron wasn't, this author might be. Byron smiled thinly but easily, hoping it looked at least half way reassuring. Candy and Flower responded by cuddling themselves closer and nuzzling themselves deeper into his chest, aware of the warmth, of the heart beat, and of the finite duration of Byron's mind. They lay there for warm moments of silence, Flower and Candy drifting softly back to sleep, Byron remaining completely awake. When he was sure they were sleeping he slipped himself from the bed so as not to disturb them. Altering the reality around them to have himself standing at the foot of the bed watching over the three girls as they slept lightly on, completely unaware of changes in the camber of the bedscape. He stood naked and unproud his arms heavy by his sides, his slouch deepening under the weight of his heart. His eyes began to sting, and as his pre-taught automatic distraction technique (imparted by a counsellor when someone cared enough about him as a child) kicked in, he stumbled into the en-suite and into the tepid cleansing water of the gilded hotel shower.

The water failed to wash his agitation as well as it washed his skin. It grew within him biting at his eyes, the pit of his stomach, and his stuttering heartbeat. Vigorously in distraction he washed his face. Failing to stop as his skin rubbed off beneath his scouring hands, not breaking as he felt his face begin to gruesomely peel and the blood began to cascade down his forearms. The sudden sting of soap against an open wound finally slowed his obsessive scrubbing and he hung his head to the shower floor. Watching blankly, through salt-teared eyes, the pink mixed water of blood and soap whirl around his feet before exiting to the drain. The sight did nothing to ease the destruction of his mind, no promised tranquillity in the letting of dishonest blood. Byron rubbed his eyes with forefinger and thumb, his hand shielding the regeneration of his skin to it’s former less disfigured contouring. He was angry, no he was furious: At himself, the world, Death, and the undeserved affection of the three beautiful girls asleep in the bedroom. But mostly he was furious at himself, his attitude, his weaknesses, his ridiculous self-imposed and completely unobtainable fictional utopia, and his face. He hated his face. In a movement not unlike a magician he whirled his hand in front of him and somewhere along the movement a knife appeared in his hand, blindly he slashed at his face, his torso, his arms legs and anything else his reach could disfigure. A yell formed in his throat and spat itself across the world, a crescendo of volume ceasing abruptly as with a final stab he ran the blade with force through his chest. He stopped. Breathed heavily. Unsurprised that the twelve-inch blade protruding from his heart had failed to do anything except give him a mild case of heartburn. He wasn’t dead, knew he wouldn’t be, so the act of attempting to take his life was a fruitless as a potato tree. Through the wet matted hair falling about his sunken face he glimpsed the faces of Flower and Candy, both naked and terrified at the bathroom door, they stood motionless, mouths wide open and tears running freely across their cheeks. He raised his head slowly and peered at them through cascading blood and water, his face empty and unreadable but in that emptiness dwelled a supreme and sickening evil. Flower closed her mouth. Opening it once more to utter unprepared words, questions, and anguish. She managed only a whisper: “Byron love…?” until he vanished before them to a place with no address.

The girls stood there. The only movement obtainable the delicate shiver of their cold and naked skin, barely perceptible as they clung to each other’s arms for balance. The Actress came up behind them, afraid but no longer heeding the girls warning to stay in the bedroom after they woke from the yell. Her circulating lifeblood failing to warm her and she shivered the same as the deceased did. Small toes curling in anxiousness as she reached a tentative hand to the embracing Flower and Candy. Her nakedness although beautiful was far removed from intoxicated passion that pushed her to pull and grasp them the night before, it was somehow more vulnerable in the sobriety of the morning, more needful of their reassurance than their passion. The warm hand startled them into movement, they looked abruptly at their guest, the warmth of her skin against the coldness of theirs imitated the feeling of Byron’s, and instinctively they reached for her, holding her tightly between them. “What happened?” She asked timidly, slowly realising she didn’t want an answer for she knew somewhere that the actual truth was more on the fringe of what she thought to be reality than she had ever experienced before. The words were just that, words to break the intensity and disconcerting silence. “Byron had to leave.” Stuttered Flower in half explanation. “That wasn’t Byron.” Whispered Candy, in correction. A statement as rhetorical as ‘why me?’.

The Maniacal laughter of… fuck it… apathy

Who wants to go on? Nah…

The fires of fury burn my eyes, the melancholy water of being an inevitable disappointment drowns my heart refusing to let it stop

Byron opened his eyes, expecting to be somewhere and nowhere, wanting to be nowhere but finding himself somewhere. He was dressed, his skin damp and soaking through to the dark and scruffy cotton shirt and trousers his mind had put on. Droplets of water fell from his unkempt hair, and crept down his wet skin to his bare feet and the cold stone floor beneath them. Where was he? He looked around, recognising this unfamiliar place in a contradiction of deep-rooted childhood safety and hatred. The stone floor beneath him was just a stone, an uneven dumped slab of concrete on the stony shore of a wood shrouded reservoir, he was home, or at least in the vicinity. Most of his childhood had been spent here, most of it alone. He heard the familiar breeze rustling the leaves of the familiar trees behind him. The grass filled banks slipped toward the water with an annoying ease, the water itself irritating in its serenity. He fell with an ungraceful thud against the evilly soft grass. He looked blank because he felt blank. Pulling a cigarette packet from his shirt pocket he delivered the reactive motion of placing one of the filter tipped sticks between his lips. It lit itself and he inhaled deeply. Looking slightly disappointed he finally pulled the knife from his chest. Smoke filtered through the closing hole and Byron inhaled once more, briefly satisfied this time. Many hours passed as he refused to move, in case it meant he had to start feeling something or thinking of something again. Home, a shadow of an easier life entwined in fickle memory, a better place a better time, even though it may not have been. Byron absorbed the wind, the smells, and the water at his feet. Only the sensations were allowed in. Drifting from all else he keep his mind shut. Water on his feet: real. Breeze on his face: real. Being the near omnipotent plaything of the personification of Death: not real.

But it was real, and escapism is fleeting at best. He considered wiping his own mind, leaving it to drown in the water in front of him, removing his brain and functioning as a body only, no life, no soul, no heart. But he had been there before, he was more alive in heart and soul and mind than he had ever been, but was coming to the conclusion that it was not worth the pain. The ability to feel intense and pure love comes with the price of feeling its absolute opposite, love for others, hate for yourself. A fair trade off it is not. It was these thoughts that bought Byron in to the land of reality once more. Creeping thoughts unlocking his shut mind. “Shit” He muttered to himself at the realisation. He opened a door on the water before him, stood slowly against stiff limbs, and walked over the water toward it. Where to? He asked himself. The answer was less obvious than he thought. He went to watch Death work.

The war field about him sang with machine gun fire, grenade explosions, cries of surprise rather than pain as bullets ran themselves through the butter-like flesh of the street fighting soldiers. Byron saw Death standing in the middle of the street, directly in the path of a hundred stinging bullets. She looked almost sad. “Hello honey.” He said coldly as he walked up behind her. Death gave a visible start. As she turned, some of the coldness disappeared from his face, as he saw her eyes full of water. She wiped her eyes quickly to regain composure to face him. “Bloody fools.” She uttered as she wiped her damp fingertips on her dress. “You know they can see you don’t you.” She said changing the subject. Byron had noted the dull stings on his body but hadn’t realise they had been bullets striking him and falling to the floor, looking at his feet the ground was becoming littered with blunted ammunition. He shrugged, his hands still in pockets, and looked back up to her. “You can help me if you want.” She asked simply. “There’s enough for everyone.” Ice forming on her humourless words. Without waiting for an answer she lead him to one side of the street and walked along the strewn and dying bodies hidden and slumped pitifully behind upturned cars, wall corners, and any other slight shelter offered from the streets desiccated contents. Life had been sucked dry from these streets. The living stone and experience the streets had once had, died long before the fighting had finished. An eerie sight of destruction and void. The streets were no longer worth fighting for, but the guns refused to believe it. The man that had stood boldly in the middle of the street sunk into the peripheral view of the remaining onlookers, and walked with a lazy purpose against the background of perforated brick and metal. The ultimate thing each dying man and boy saw was the face of Death, lit with compassion as she released them to a painless place. But what they also saw was the cold and apathetic face of a stranger, without pity or care or even interest. The sight of Death placated most, they knew their life was leaking from their bodies, and her touch was serene. But not everyone has the capability to accept. Stubborness, stupidity, youth, call it what you will but it was the reason a boy of about fifteen shrieked as he saw them. Screaming he looked at Byron with wild fearful eyes, the noise caused Death to pause momentarily, to turn and stare at Byron. He merely gazed at the boy, his familiar frown scowling without malice, and only faint traces of thought. The boy pushed himself against the wall, trying to push away from the vision before him, blood vomited from the lack of left lower leg and split abdomen as he fought against the lack of strength he had left. He reached for machine gun that was almost the same size as him, using it to pull himself upright. Pointing it wildly at the Evil before him. Shouting in an interpreted slur of ‘devil man’. The gun went off, and the remainder of the guns cartridge emptied at point blank range into Byron’s chest. The boy struggled against himself to understand why the blunted bullets rebounded back at him like feasting ants as they peppered his leg and thigh. From unorganised chaos came blind catastrophe, the handful of men within ear shout of the boys yells ran to his aid to see this strange man looking over him. As with most human impulses they decided to kill first, find out later. “Shit Byron” Death muttered distractedly. She waved a hand in the direction of the running cavalry who stopped immediately with the rest of time. “What?” Byron exclaimed innocently, aggravation lining his tone. Without ceremony she knelt and touched the boy’s face, immediately it calmed, his interrupted eyes of terror shut themselves gently and his face relaxed to death. There was no light, no spirit, no beautiful defining moment. The boy’s shell just relaxed. “Where’s he gone?” Byron asked. “Same place as you all go, what were you expecting? Harps? You know what happens Byron, you wait.” Death’s annoyance was absent from her words, she had calmed. Looking on his face like she hadn’t seen it, like high school sweethearts 30 years later where time, uniquely eroding, manipulates and leaves nothing bar the love and beauty that the mind blinkeredly remembers. Byron caught her sweet smile as her recognition lighted her face. “Let’s get out of here love.” She whispered, holding her hand out to Byron to take. “What about the rest of them?” he indicated, whilst obeying her request and clutching her hand gently. “There’s so much you should but don’t understand yet isn’t there Byron?” she whispered. She waved her hand in the direction of the street and a hundred images of herself, dressed in classic black robes, filtered out from a single point. Each one marked with purpose, each one of them Death herself. “I am everything, love.” She stated, Byron remained unsure whether it was boast or vanity or just a true statement, and in that unsurity he came another step from his idealistic imagery, came closer to the realism of their relationship. No-one should be trusted completely he thought, not without understanding, and the rarity of two soul decipherers finding each other was like finding a nun in a brothel. It happens, but not often. The humanistic entity Death had chosen to become was flawed with exactly that, humanistic qualities. It was good to realise, although the delusion had its benefits. What it didn’t do was make him let go of her hand, that would have just been silly!

When Byron looked back to the street a different landscape stood before him, but it didn’t bother him much, he liked the abandonment of being lead, the ease of indecision. He had no idea of where he was exactly, but his many hours spent in front of Hollywood films and their backdrops he half recognised it as an apartment building somewhere off the famous Central Park in New York. There was an architect’s dream of space and green behind him. Designed and crafted, and setting the brownstone town houses (now luxury apartments) in a picturesque 50’s Hollywood glamour extravaganza. “My house.” Death stated facing the building in front of them. Byron’s face reacted in surprise, Death had an address!? If Death registered his surprise she didn’t comment on it, instead she led him gently up the steps, pulling his tourist like meandering toward the door. “Your house?” Whispered Byron, a million questions and despairing anticipation swam in lilac streamers in his head. Improbable, incomprehensible, and inaccessible, but then that was love. The stairs led to the large double entrance door. With some satisfaction Byron noted the doors opened before them, a paltry parlour trick but one he had done himself. The Lobby was large, airy and cool. Marble floored with a grand, deep wooden staircase leading to the different floors. An ancient elevator, in better working order than the day it was installed fitted perfectly and isolated like a sculpture from the staircase. The first stair shivered as they ascended it, the second stair took them directly to her front door, it opened slowly like a Christmas card advert and Byron the consumer held his breath as if in anticipation of all good hallmark kitten soft moments.

Anticlimactic it had to be, there was no infinite wall of draining hourglasses, no abyss like darkness shrouding the rooms to indicates it’s “other worldliness”. In fact the only breathtaking anomaly about the place was its size, it was huge. Huge open plan with what seemed like endless door opportunities but only a couple that actually took residence. The ceilings were high, all contributing to the scale of what could only be an elitist building. He assumed it had been purchased or acquired at the time it was built, as she had all the time of eternity to gain material goods. “No sugar, I got it last year.” She answered. “A Business man bargained an extra week from me in return for his place. It would suggest that the obsessive race for material wealth does actually count for shit when you have it all and still run out of time. He spent that week with my sister, falling in love and walking barefoot in the rain, he gave his business to the secretary that had worked for him for twenty years, and rented a boat on the ocean. No family, no life, until he found he couldn’t have one. You can argue that had he not offered me the house, then he wouldn’t have got the time. So the acquisition of money did help him…. It gave him a week.” She paused “And I was in a good mood”. Byron didn’t press the matter. Instead swallowing all nerves and disregarding all signs and suggestions, the panic of no moment being the right moment, he moved toward her and embraced her. No rebuff… so gingerly but with a little more speed than was charismatic, he moved his lips to hers to try to show they were no different from any other couple despite the damning history and the vast abyss of reality between them. To his scarcely concealed teenage hormonal joy she met his lips with hers. Kissing him deeply, there was no expected reserve, no ego, no distance between them. It was the kind of kiss where her heart beats in your ears. It was a complete kiss with your whole body, opening yourself with unconditional abandon. The sphere of world around them closed in and blanketed all surroundings. The world might have exploded... they wouldn’t have known, ‘cept for the dust as it settled around them in the empty abyss of space…and the loud bang. But this is theatrical license in effect.

All moments, even theatrical ones, end. All fulfilment is necessarily transient or there would be nothing to strive for. And thus the kiss ended. They drew back slowly the physical connection released and replaced with unsure but unwavering eyes…..

Stop and ponder the parameters of pointless pontificating packs and choose a path

If you have made it this far into my bound up pages of decoration and destruction, my thanks to you on your arduous journey. But as we draw an inevitable close to the tale of the life and deaths of Byron non-poet and lordless, there is a choice to be made. A choice not normally given: You would think I would know where this was going by now. It is a choice of endings, of how the lives or deaths of all concerned turn out, end up, resolve themselves or stop, to it’s stop, it’s end, it’s final recorded documentation. Heavy is the responsibility, or not really, as all you have to ask is “Do I like happy endings?”

Everyone does, even if only fleetingly. Deep down in the most cynical of souls, a baby’s laugh, a puppy’s eyes, something somewhere will touch everyone: Make their eyes sting with salted water and turn their heart 90 degrees in that purest feeling of joy and heart attack. The next three chapters are dedicated to those people, closet optimists or not. It is what should happen in a fair world, what should be the conclusion and the realisation that life isn’t always unfair. In fact she tends to take great offence in being called so.

If, however, you have been nailed inside the enveloping constriction of selfdestruction and can only seek confirmation that the non-poetic Byronic half-boy manages to destroy all he is and will be, including those connected to his self-loathing egocentric paradise, the last chapters are yours.

The girl with the curl part 1 Starts with a kiss of a chaos butterfly

All moments, even theatrical ones, end. All fulfilment is necessarily transient or there would be nothing to strive for. And thus the kiss ended, they drew back slowly the physical connection released and replaced with unsure but unwavering eyes…..

…. In his mind Byron knew he should have everything he wanted. As Deaths hands drew to her black blouse and began to unbutton it before him, and as she looked up to him, strangely vulnerable, and dropped the black cloth to the floor exposing and giving her breasts to Byron’s eyes, he wavered. Assuming he was overwrought by the sight of her perfect breasts she smiled and removed his top for him, unbuttoned his fly and released his unattached brain which leapt to her touch. She giggled in a most unlady death like way and leant herself against the wall of the hall. Far enough away so he could take in her body, drink her form as she playfully touched herself, drawing his eye to each fingertip caressed. Her skirt dropped to the floor with an effortless unfastening and she slipped her shoes from her feet. Her height diminished, her body uncovered, herself offered to the man in front of her. His coy paralysis was still a source of playful amusement to her and she pulled him from where her hand gripped already, and ran is tip between her thighs, “Here.” She giggled innocently. Byron was silent for a long moment. “I can’t” He whispered. Death looked quizzically for a moment and then immediately assumed he was playing. “We don’t know each other well enough for here yet,” she giggled as she moved him to her anus. Easing him forward, again placed him gently between her lips, “Lets start here,” She giggled again. Byron’s body became rigid. Possible frozen panic causing yet another playful giggle from the lady Death. Yet it wasn’t panic. “No.” He said as boldly as he could and stood back from her, he reached for his trousers and pulled them on avoiding looking at her confused and hurt face. He stood again half-dressed in front of her naked body, Death looked awkwardly wounded, and she unconsciously covered herself with her hands as humiliation crept into her mortal essence for a moment. Then, and with anger, she remembered who she was. “What?!” She exclaimed. Exposing herself again she pushed him hard against the wall behind them and stood with her hands boldly on her hips. Byron crashed hard to the floor and looked up at her from a seated position. “ I said no.” Hurriedly deciding against another defiant statement he offered his explanation. “Or rather I cant, I just can’t. I’m here because you are all I’ve wanted since I was 10 years old. I knew you existed and no one believed me, I knew we met for a reason and I knew we would meet again. Call it faith in the feelings I thought were there, or thought could be and would be there. But you turned me down in the waiting place and countless times after that, again and again treating my feelings as inconsequential compared to what you wanted. You gave me all this power without an explanation or guidance and all you could say was ‘not yet’. Well your infallible plan of pain and ridicule became unimportant to me without me realising…until now. I have treated Flower and Candy so very badly in all of this, as badly as you have treated me, and that can not be excused or ignored just for me to make things worse and get laid. I cant, Death, I wont. You were all I wanted until I wanted something real. I don’t know what your plan was. I don’t care. I don’t really care what happens to me, though I owe Flower and Candy an apology. Strange how the two sixteen year olds have been the most mature human representations in the whole of this farcical escapade.” Byron breathed, unsure what to do next, knowing he could hardly bolt for the door, knowing he was in fact half dead already and expecting the second half to come rather soon. His eyes searched Death’s for an emotion, for a reaction or movement. She was undeniably beautiful, standing before him, and the half of the hormones that were alive were kicking him hard for his sudden late entrance of ethics. The only movement she made was that of her clothes, as they flew to her body and covered her again. The lady Death looked at him: Quizzically, then with annoyance, then pity, love, and then with nothing. He waited longer for his sentence, perspiration creeping across his body. Gravity was the only moving thing in the room. It was cold and uncomfortable but he dare not move to brush it away. He didn’t know why, but he knew unquestionably that it was Death that must make the next move.

“Fine.” She said without malice, without concern, without much of anything really. “I’ll see you at the end of your life.” With that she left. Left to wherever was between reality and her world. Though was it Byron that could no longer see her as he returned to his real world. He felt different, felt weak, felt human once again and not in a calm triumphant philosophical and ethical victory kind of way. Just in a knackered, broken, and hungry kind of way. He tried to pull the t-shirt out of reach on the floor toward him, but it wouldn’t budge. Huffily he moved and pulled it roughly on. He tried the door also but had to use the handle. “Crap.” He muttered self-indulgently. He had a long walk home.

As he trudged toward the acreage of stairwell past the Beautifully restored elevator he saw the new sign next to the golden leafed ‘down’ button. “Press here for LA floor” He looked around him and managed a tired grin. He knew she was near. “Thank you.” He whispered and opened the elevator to the Hotel he had left a lifetime ago.

From just beside his deflated stature Death watched him go. She felt a little less infallible than she had an hour ago but she knew, in time, that feeling would pass. She maybe should have learned something from this episode, but then it’s hard to learn anything new when you know everything already.

The girl with the curl part 2 Two butterfly’s uncomplicated complication of realisation

The elevator opened at the correct floor of the correct hotel that he had left… long ago, though he wasn’t sure how long ago. He briefly wondered whether they would still be there, whether he was still in the same century or whether he had gone back to a time before any of this happened. He briefly wandered in. Wondering on what might have been the best scenario for non-confrontation, and nicely ignoring the responsibilities of his actions. But then he knew that was too easy.

His door loomed in front of him.

Byron took a few moments to compose himself , but then realised a lifetime of composing would not be enough to douse the heated nausea in his empty stomach. He raised his hand to the door to knock. It opened before he cracked the silence of the hotel corridor. If he had been a religious man the illuminating back lighting by the window behind the girls faces would have confirmed to him that there was a heaven and it was populated by angels like these. “Hello love.” Candy whispered, his eyes had not adjusted to interior light and the tears filling them was not helping either but he felt two small bodies throw their arms around him and wrap him in a warmth, never as much needed as now. “Come in.” Flower said to his chest her face buried deep, “we’ve been waiting for you.” Vaguely the ominous sound of that sentence registered with Byron’s brain, but being led into the heat of the room from the cold of his body was blissful. It would have been discourteous to interrupt the sympathetic warmth, as his veins carried it soothingly throughout his body.

Flower and Candy unwrapped themselves long enough to cover his face in butterfly kisses, they held him tightly again then kissed him again in a cascade of hug, kissess, hug, kisses. The conflict of joy and growing fear of unavoidable doom fought itself in the back of Byron’s consciousness. The front of his mind wrapped his arms around them with the urgency of fear that it would be the last time. Four eyes, two emerald, two the clearest blue, sought his out through the shadows of his brow. They were so clean, so unconditional, so unlike his grey lifeless pebbles.

He had no idea how long he had been gone but knew, now, at this moment, that it had been too long.

Flower and Candy released him and clutched his hands as they had a hundred times before and guided him, like a blindfolded postman to the sitting area of the opulent LA Hotel suite. To join, to his surprise, a third personification already sitting there. Life looked to him with uncompromised compassion, his eyes widened as he looked around instinctively in mounting panic for her sister. “She’s not here.” She said softly. Whether his reaction was relief or self-preservation he jumped into his explanation of events with a dialogue of stumbling speed. Flower and Candy sat either side of him holding each of his hands tightly, their innocent attention gilded by wide hungry eyes. They looked beyond their years in two identically cut, but different coloured, pinafore dresses, expensively put together and sold on a name. He hadn’t seen them before and again wondered how long he had been. Their slight frames huddled next to his, their bare feet crossed at the ankles, direct from finishing school. Life sat in another chair, unusually tense in posture. Light, loose, opaque cloth graced her glimpsed silhouette. “I didn’t do it,” he started hurriedly “nothing happened between us, I don’t know why I went to her, I don’t know why I have been so wrapped up in Death, it hit me when I was there that it was ridiculous, not real not anything nearly real. I thought of you two. She tried, I nearly tried, but her clothes were on again, and it wasn’t you and you have been the most mature most sane and most beautiful…and…” He stopped his breath running out, his hearts speed shooting the words from his mouth like a cannon. Byron swallowed hard, took a long deep breath, slowly connecting his mouth and his brain so they would work together this time. “I left here, I don’t know when or how long ago that was. I had to leave. I felt dishonest, disloyal, undeserving self-hating. All of the above. I felt it because I love you both and I couldn’t get that… person out of my head. I was 10 when I first met her, 10 years old, that kind of thing affects you. I was given all that power and I couldn’t do anything with it, I felt I was missing the big picture, the infallible plan, the reason to…. my reason? Guess it comes down to I didn’t deserve you, your love or lives. You’re not even alive, yet you live life to the limit. Your hearts are so big, so forgiving so uncompromising. I’m not… I’m not, a good person. Yeah, I know ‘no shit’! I’m barely even a person! Or I wasn’t. I want to change that, because of you. I went somewhere I grew up near, the place I should have died, from there I went to find her, maybe to ask release from her, or maybe to ask for her.” Candy and Flower physically winced at his sentence. Byron paused, with his eyes painfully full. They squeezed his hand to say he should go on, no matter what. “We went to her apartment, we kissed” The grips tightened on his hand.

“Something nearly happened, but I stopped it. I stopped it because having what I thought I wanted wasn’t what I wanted. An old stupid dumb arse cliché I know, but it was true. Because all I could see was you, both of you. I have no power left now, I’m just half human, half alive. I can’t give you anything that I’ve given you before, I can only give you myself. But… all of me. It’s insanity to think you’ll agree, or even that it can work or that I’m all of a sudden epiphanated and can do this easily, I cant say that. All I can say is that I don’t want to lose you. My Flower and Candy.” He stopped, not sure what else to say but knew there should be something. The longer he spoke, the longer he could put off hearing their response and the end of it all. Life looked quizzically at him. Gauging his eyes, his face, even his heart. “For what it’s worth,” She said “He’s telling the truth.” She sat back. She knew what was going to happen. Where she could see his heart she could also see theirs. Byron had missed something when he was away, missed an offer, an offer that would change everything. Life had given it to Flower and Candy, and whereas she couldn’t see inside her sister’s head, she could see all that ever was and all that could come to be. She hated clearing up her sister’s mess. The living were her territory, the conceptions, the births, the loves, even the hysterical careering of life heading without brakes and chasing with dogeared determination the personal fulfilment of a smile and a full heart. Death dealt with the loss, and therefore in her opinion she didn’t know humanity from a fish. And touching their fish little lives as she was want to do, would always end, well as everything she touched, dead.

Byron began to see the subtle changes in the girl’s faces he knew before they said a word his worse fears were to be realised. They didn’t let go of his hand but relaxed their grip slightly, looking at each for one of them to start. “We’ve made a decision. You were gone, we didn’t know how long you’d be, and after two weeks we wondered if at all.” Began Flower “Two weeks…?” uttered Byron. Death’s last play. “And we were offered a choice.” She said. “An opportunity.” Candy offered. “From Life.” “An opportunity of a life. Our lives. Not these walking-dead lives. To breathe again…to eat because we need to…to taste. Waking up and not wondering what we are, or whether we are even real.” Explained Flower compassionately. “There was a catch though.” Her voice softened to almost a whisper, perhaps if she said it quietly enough it wouldn’t hurt so bad. She faltered. “A huge catch which nearly stopped us, one we don’t want almost more than we want to live again.” Offered Candy. Flower regained composure and continued. “But I guess you know by now we accepted. We get to have our lives back, but not the lives we have made since we met you. We go back to the street, the off-licence, and instead of not looking for a drunk driver as we cross the road, we wait. We live. I think it’s as simple as that. Or at least that’s what Life has said.” Byron’s face had drained in colour almost completely. He felt sick, his head tingled, sweated and spun, his heart fell through his stomach. Words were difficult due to lack of breath so he remained silent. “We will remember you and this life!” Said Candy trying to wrap the blow in a blanket. “We fought for that bit!” she said defiantly. “But we wont be with you.” Finished Flower, just to make sure the explanation couldn’t be misinterpreted by a desperate mind. She watched his eyes grab at passing flickering ideas and protests, his eyes widened and his mouth opened to speak, “And you wont be able to come with us. Or see us, it’ll be too hard for all of us, and raise to many questions that would ultimately lead to your… demise?” Interrupted Candy before he could utter that exact idea. “We’re sorry Byron, love.” Said Flower. Her hand reached for his face, as if to calm a child younger than she. “So sorry.” Uttered Candy wrapping her arms around him. A long silence enclosed them, there was really nothing else to say. Candy and Flower held their boy lover for the last time, long minutes passed before his arms reached for them. But not to hold them back for he knew his pleads would be desperate and uncomfortable, just like he knew they were going. He actually loved them too much to make it their last memory…to make it harder than it was. It was an hour of silence that passed but it could have been a minute, no time was enough. Life interrupted: “We should go.” She said, not that it mattered when the three of them went back. Time wasn’t a particular law of physics that affected Life, it was just simply time to go. The anguish was evident on all their faces, Candy and Flowers eyes burned with free flowing tears. Byron’s face was without colour, seized with stifled pain. “We love you.” They said, self-governing the wrench from his arms. Byron stared, his eyes shouting he loved them too. His speech though was mute, unable to move like the rest of his broken body. They stood gently from the sofa, slipped their shoes on and looked one last time into the face of what could have but shouldn’t have been. First love may be the purest, not tainted or guarded by inevitable rejection, or restrained by experience and pain. But then, without the pain there would be no joy, and learning to still love completely and without reserve with all the knowledge of pain and damage must surely be a deeper love, a more rewarding leap of faith? They looked on him with eyes of both, deep uncompromised but with the pain of all that had gone before, and all that might have happened now. The maturity of two girls out shone that of people and personification, the wisest and the youngest, and their eyes betrayed this. Byron forced himself to look upon them. The pain it caused almost unbearable, but without looking his memory would have been incomplete. He tried to raise a comforting smile. “I understand.” He whispered. “You are both truly remarkable women.” No wallowing, no pleading. “And I do love you.” They smiled through the tears they had, leant down to him one last time and kissed him simply on his lips. Sharing his mouth as one. Wet with tears their lips touched softly. And then they were gone. And Byron sat, his eyes still closed, alone in the room.

The girl with the curl part 3 butterfly’s and caterpillars meet for tea

They had given him his first good memories.

Twenty-seven hours later Byron finally stood up from the sofa, unsure whether he had been asleep or not, having had his eyes closed for most of that time. He had managed after no small an effort not to think, and just let the thoughts and memories wash over him instead of fighting for contemplation. Eventually the ‘What ifs’ wandered off bored at their lack of attention to their frenzied campaigning. The selfpitying wallow retreated back to its mud pool, in the dark recess of his brain, and his mind became an open landscape for the rest to move through in their slowing haste. The opening line was the result. He was no longer in pain, the resulting pragmatism of those hours spent drifting. He knew he hadn’t and didn’t deserve their attentions or their love, but they did love him, and there was some unfathomable reason why they did. A reason that could stay unfathomable, because it didn’t change the fact that they did. And that, finally, was the point.

Dishevelled in attire, but unusually conscious in appearance he strolled from the room and out of the Hotels main entrance into the bustling streets outside. Purposeful directionless strides took him across street after street. Shops and boutiques changed to houses and back to shops again. His body had a surprisingly energetic canter to it, his soul felt free from the anguish of obsession and self-destruction. The world looked the same, but he just saw more of it. He noticed corners that had always been hidden by the pre-occupation in his own selfish destructive destiny. And these corners were held beauty. Patches of green and nature in endless concrete structures, patches of human compassion in endless concrete souls. Without the enveloping fog of his obsession in self-destruction it left Byron refreshingly empty of all desire. It occurred to him slowly, and with a ridiculing smile, that all he currently wanted from life, was a cup of coffee. That was a good a place as any to start: with caffeine. Subliminally he found himself standing outside a coffee bar. Its crackling neon buzzing in the hot sunshine, cheerful reds and rainbow colours drawn with felt tip on its ‘open’ sign. ‘Oren’s Cupajava’ said the slightly unkempt window stickers. With a nonsensical grin, Byron glided in with a satisfying tinkle of the small bell above the door. The long counter in front of him displayed an assortment of hot and cold small cabinets, an old till, sugars pourers, cartoon cow milk sachets, and shinning condiment containers. He sat at one of the counter stools, his grin remained like the eternal cheery salutation of the insane. The middle-aged waitress smiled fleetingly at him. With a phone cradled between shoulder and chin, she poured him a coffee before resuming animated gossip on the phone: Outlining her holiday plans. In the kitchens through the large serving hatch her diminutive husband took the opportunity to nip outside to enjoy a highly satisfactory cigarette and admire the geraniums he hoped to enter into the flower show. Small joys huge.

The world moved around him, ignoring his existence in the way people would ignore the clothes they wear. Happy in his neglectance, he watched the light from the window dance in lazy flickers across his cup. Nothing on his mind, nothing to do, busy like Pooh. In the middle of a particularly difficult pirouette the light was disturbed by the clink of the bell and the door opening and shutting. Unconsciously secure in his old persona of never being seen, never being noticed, he turned to look over his shoulder at the new customer. Searching in her bag for money is a girl, mid twenties, brown hair tied back, clear grey eyes and an uneven tan. She wore a strange variety of clothing, chosen in haste or with her mind on other things. Unselfconscious in the very best way. The brown beaten jacket matched the cowboy boots but not the short skirt or incorrectly buttoned and oversized linen shirt. Byron continued to stare. He liked people’s uniqueness, and used to spend hours in parks or shopping centre cafes just people watching. His own unique camouflage had always leant itself to looking longer, and deeper, contemplating their imaginary lives. Usually to escape his own version of his. The pretty girl, for she was unusual and unconventionally pretty when you looked longer, glanced up suddenly from her feverish hunting, her eyes wide and impatient at Byron. “What!?” She scorned at him defensively. “I… er… nothing, sorry.” He stuttered. Turning to his coffee show in hurried voyeuristic embarrassment. The pretty girl eyed the back of Byron’s head suspiciously for a moment. Her defences had always been sharp. Her lifestyle of untidiness, clumsiness and occasional scattermindedness had precluded immediate social affability from as early as junior school. It was easier that way. But there was something about the man in front of her that gave her an unaccustomed feeling of regret in the acidity of her tone. The girl shrugged lightly behind him, her face softened and she chose uncharacteristically to occupy the counter stool directly next to him. Byron shifted slightly on his stool to offer submission in space, overtly attempting not to look at her. The pretty girl tipped the contents of her bag over the counter, grabbing and rounding up rogue items, as they spilled over the clean formica top. She sifted through the wreckage in front of them, much to Byron’s bemused fleeting glances, which she returned with a polite smile. She stirred a combination of receipts, mementoes, paper clips, hair bands, fluff and miscellaneous bits of her life until with a small gleeful cheer she found the five dollar bill she was looking for and held it up to the frowning but still phone affixed waitress. The waitress wagged a detrimental finger at her mess, indicating that she should clear it up from her clean counter before she would be served. Simultaneously saying it was expected to be 35 degrees in the shade accompanied with appreciative whoooing sounds to her long time companion, the phone. The pretty girl stared at the mess on the counter and frowned. With one brisk, and well practised, movement swept the whole lot back in her satchel bag. She turned to Byron, and waited for him to return her look. After a while, and discreetly, sheepishly, Byron shifted his head up and tentatively returned what he hoped was her eye contact and not reading the menu or clock behind him. “Ever felt like you were just a spectator in your own life?” she quipped. The pretty girl grinned widely. Her smile lit her eyes in the most refreshing way, as if a sea breeze had come from nowhere but the coffee machine, and cooled them to freezing and back again in one exhilarating blast. Byron’s eyes opened wider, accompanied by his smile. “Actually, yes.” He stated. The pretty girl put out her hand, “My names Annabel” She said sweetly. “Byron.” Said Byron.

The conversation continued into the morning and through lunch. Awkward silences were combated by easy smiles. Watching them, behind them, in the corner of the Coffee bar, sitting alone was a beautiful rainbow-eyed stranger, slurping a chocolate banana shake and smiling to herself. “I like this part” Life giggled to herself.

Across an ocean two young girls walked into class and grinned at each other, the girl with green eyes held her buttock tenderly. The tattoo of a dead poet’s name itching slightly as it healed. The Blue eyed girl shoved her playfully as they received stern glances from the teacher. Uncontrollable giggles were stifled, they had their whole lives ahead of them.

Death sat alone in the sand across from her bar. Being aware of everything was a curse. “Shit” She whispered. And a soul screamed in the tear rolling down her cheek.

When she was bad part 1 Starts with the tornado of a chaos butterfly

All moments, even theatrical ones, end. All fulfilment is necessarily transient or there would be nothing to strive for. And thus the kiss ended, they drew back slowly the physical connection released and replaced with unsure but unwavering eyes…

…In his mind Byron knew he should have everything he wanted, doubt crept in. His troubled mind kicked it out. Thoughts ran and battled through his mind, he forced them to the back. A black veil drawn over them and the sight of Death seared on to it with flames of entrenched desire. Death’s hands drew to her blouse and with a fingernail she cut the material like a heated scalpel, the black cloth parted. Its divided edges glowing with ember as it fell to the floor giving to Byron’s eyes her perfect breasts, his heart leapt audibly in his chest. Death smiled carnivorously and giggled lightly as she pushed him slightly away from her so he could see her full form leant against the hall wall. She ran her fingers across her breasts lightly, her hands being his as they caressed her torso, gliding down to unclip her skirt. It dropped to the floor like the curtain opening at the theatre. The lady Death languished naked and exposed to him, standing in a liquid pool of black cloth lapping against her lily-white calves. Her hands moved to where his eyes sought, across the personally idealised body of Death, it searched for the warmth between her thighs, lightly circled her excited nipples. She tilted her body toward him, her eyes open, liquid, and rapacious. She swiftly and urgently pulled his t-shirt from him and released his body from his trousers. He strained at her touch as she entwined her fingers around his genitals caressing lightly with long drawn out strokes. He wanted her to guide him, to let him know what she wanted. Without voice, only a smile she took his hand a placed it in the warm tenderness between her yielding soft thighs, it was so silken smooth. She slid his hand between her swollen lips, her arousal evident and lubricating his tentative gentle fingers. He could nearly taste her sweetness on his fingers, and she gently pushed his face down to fully taste her with his tongue. He drank hungrily and revelled in her twistings and writhings of pleasure as he bought her to climax. She breathed heavily against the wall for a moment as he looked up the creamy flow of her body, her hair hung across her face and she looked down and smiled “We’re not even started yet” She chuckled as she pulled him to his feet and led him to the huge round rotating sofa in the middle of the room. Kicking her shoes off she crawled seductively onto its plush fabric. Displaying herself to him seductively with caressing fingertips on her unconcealed openings as she looked over her shoulder. “Not even close.” She whispered, tasting herself from her index finger.

What followed was two hours of inhuman revelation of passion and want. Every inch of both bodies were coated in kisses, sweat, and ejaculation. The kind of experience than can only happen when not restricted to the boundaries of human ability. For their fifth and last climax Death pulled Byron deep inside her, their bodies almost joining on contact, enveloping each other to make one body, one moment, and one experience.

They lay together on the ruined and battered circular sofa, as it rotated slowly to a stop, both breathing heavily, holding each other and giggling. Although the breath wasn’t necessary, it added a fitting symphonic epilogue to the previous hours. Byron was spent of all emotion and thought, his body just a mass of tingling nerve endings. He turned his head with theatrical effort to smile at his equally content Death.

“What the fuck did you think you were doing?!” She screamed at him, the room boomed with the reverberations. She suddenly shot into the air hovering vertically before him. The air chilled to zero and exploded to 100 degrees and back again in a second. Frost formed across the walls of the apartment, propagating loudly with thunderous cracks, yet the centre of the room felt like a furnace. Hell itself was freezing over. “How dare you!” She screamed again. Byrons mind raced without direction, trying to escape like his body should. Total confusion, disorientation and incomprehension detonated simultaneously in his head. “What? What’s wrong?” He managed to stutter before his face froze in terror with the rest of his body. “How dare you take advantage of me like that!” Her screams hadn’t dulled in volume and the ceiling had begun to tremble, raining plaster dust across his immobile form. His mouth opened and shut vaguely. Complete desolation and destruction of his mind was taking place with increasing speed. Where was he? “Don’t pretend you don’t know!” She shouted, “You used the power I gave you to influence what just happened! To manipulate me! Death itself!” Who was he? She was angry enough for it to be true, but Byron was at a complete stranded loss. He hadn’t, he was sure he hadn’t, he couldn’t have, he hadn’t had he? “I know you’ve used it before! On those simple humans, but to use it on me! How dare you!” Her voice hadn’t lagged in decibels. Byron began to tremble uncontrollably, his eyes rolled with tears. That wasn’t him, was it? How could he? How did he? She was Death, she was unchangeable, unavoidable, undeniable. “But, but, I didn’t? I wouldn’t?” Byron coughed at her, already doubt in his voice and in his vacant mind. Death drew back a hand and struck him, tearing a gash from his neck to his hip. She was too far away to make physical contact but they were not purely physical beings, the blood and tissue vomiting from the wound lay testament to that. Automatically the flesh sought itself and knitted itself back together in slow difficult convulsions as if the power had gone from the batteries, and the energy was ebbing away. “You don’t deserve my gift to you.” Death said coldly as his skin stopped knitting, the tear from his chest to his hip remained open and bloody. It seeped blood rather than poured: the wound too deep, the blood vessels burnt. Byron’s intestines winked at him in the darkness. He looked from his body to the darkness of Death’s eyes, infinitely deeper, infinitely more terrifying. “I thought we… I didn’t consciously… I couldn’t…” Byron spluttered, the agonising pain of his returned mortality wet and sticky at his abdomen. “You disgust me!” She said coldly. The words were more severe, more damaging and more painful than any physical mutilation she could deliver. His heart crumbled in his chest in a new unequalled agony. He couldn’t move. Every cell in his body drained of energy as his heart stopped pumping and feeding them. His eyes burned, and in the midst of his despair all he could think was, he deserved this. Finally a punishment fit for his pointless and destructive life. He wanted to die. “Death is too good for you, I am too good for you.” She spat at him. She looked toward the huge windows of the apartment an ambulance siren sounded in the distance heading toward them at speed. “To live is your punishment. Live as you were before: nothing, half alive, half dead.” The room returned to natural light the furniture lay collapsed and broken around them. Byron’s motionless body lay against the wall, only his eyes watched her. The rip in his body too drained of effort to bleed. Deaths feet touched the carpet and she walked to her clothes to pick them up. Bringing them back to Byron, she dressed slowly and purposefully in front of him. The sirens stopped beneath them. The sound of doors slamming and urgent shouting at the intercom to let them in, drifted to the room stories above them. Death looked down on him one last time, her face expressionless, devoid of the fury of moments ago, and of the love hours before. Her sculpted face shifted slightly only to say “Goodbye Byron.” And she left the apartment, not to be seen by the running paramedics as they crashed through the door a second after she closed it behind her.

Whether it was an out of body experience or not, but Byron felt nothing as the paramedics attempted to talk to him, to patch him up enough to move him. His body was moved around like a rag doll. All movement cotton padded and third party to him. Still only his eyes moved independently. He looked at the room, at the trained paramedics, at himself. None of it drifted into darkness, none of it faded out to black as in all the films he had watched. He didn’t pass out and wake up in a sterile white clean hospital, friends and family around him tearfully welcoming his recovery. He just stared and watched the ceilings pass him as he was wheeled hurriedly away through corridor after corridor, foyer, and finally ambulance. Unseen by the world Death leant against the wall of the apartment building and watched the Ambulance pull off noisily. She stroked her stomach maternally. Sadness welled in her eyes, and a regretful sigh escaped her infallibility. “I’m sorry.” She whispered.

When she was bad part 2 the destruction of butterflies

“Where is he?” Shouted Candy annoyed, worried, and furious. “He’s with her isn’t he!” She spat. Flower touched her life friends shoulder, vainly attempting to calm her, and to stop her uttering anything else than was too painful to think about. “You saw him,” She said softly “He’s probably just calming down, just embarrassed to come back.” She reassured. “It’s been three fucking weeks!” Candy yelled. Flower fell silent, there was no argument and no reassurance to that. Having to leave to the hotel at some point and not wanting to stray too far from the last place they had seen Byron, they had returned with the actress to her house. Currently she was out of town, about to start filming, and had let them take the place for as long as they needed. They hadn’t spoken about that morning since it happened, and the obligatory starlet therapy sessions had already convinced her it hadn’t happened. The Night, however, had. That she had kept to herself so far, relishing in her new found rebelliousness, sure that the story would come in useful at one of the many dull exclusive parties she went to. She would dispatch her good girl reputation and shut those acquaintances of hers up with their taunts and boasts of their film star life style privileges. She could be as pseudo rock star as any of them, and for the rock stars she could be a pseudo film star as any of them. “I know baby.” Flower whispered. “But we have seen Life, and she doesn’t know what’s happening,” “And you think she’d tell us if she knew?” Rebuffed Candy “She’s probably fully aware of what’s going on and just covering for her sister. She’s not going to bloody say anything to us, we’re just insignificant humans in all this crap, and dead ones at that!” Flower tried again to calm her friend, trying to pull her to a seat, but Candy continued to pace like a caged animal, striding out of the house to the pool and stalking along it’s length. “I would tell you child.” Said a voice from the pool beneath her. Candy stopped dead. Half fear, half anger, at the emerging body of Life, as she pulled herself from the water. Resting her arms on the pool edge, leaving her body to be lapped by the water, as unthreatening a situation as she could manage. She paused, “And I do now know where he is.” Flower came running from the house at full sprint. “You know what! You know where he is! Where damn it! How long have you known!” She Yelled. Candy touched her arm in the same calming manner as had been tried on her only minutes before. “Shsssh.” She whispered at her girlfriend. “Let her speak.” Life pulled her naked body from the water, characteristically unashamed. Light linen cloth materialised, swirled from the wind around her and draped itself against her, unnaturally adhering to the soft curves of her body. She took them to the patio furniture set, at the corner of the pool area and sat them down. “Well?” Demanded Flower again. “I know where he is, yes. But with that knowledge comes pain and a choice you must make.” Life’s face denoted a seriousness that was almost painful to see. “That bitch! She’s with him isn’t she.” Shouted Flower. “Manipulative malevolent malignant Bitch!” Spat Candy. She winced slightly and looked at Life. “I’m sorry, she’s your sister.” Life’s mouth raised at the corner, “She’s been called worse.” She replied. “Jealous stagnant egomaniacal narcissistic sub-scum slut!” muttered Flower simmering. Life raised an eyebrow, Flower didn’t need to look. “He’s not with her.” She said. Both Flower and Candy looked at each other their eyes lit with uncontained relief. “But he was.” She added. Two dead hearts cracked in half. All they could do was look at the floor and wait for the ability to move again. Life’s eyes filled with the tears she pushed back. “He’s currently in hospital in New York.” Both girls sudden concern made them look directly at Life. “Is he…. Ok?” Whispered Candy. “He will be…” Life paused. Choosing how to structure her words. “For now.” She added quietly. “What happened? Please?” Managed Flower. “Well, he has had surgery to reconstruct half his insides, and is currently waiting for the tear from his chest to his hip to mend… naturally.” Candy glanced at Flower, despite themselves distress pained their features. “He is back to being as human as he ever was. I have not seen him, but I have seen her, so I only have one side of the story. And I cant see everything she does”. She stated clearly for the two girls, oddly sensitive to their opinion. “Omnipotence is very rarely complete, it’s just a word for more ability than most people can imagine. But his ‘gift’ has been taken back as a punishment.” “Punishment?” Interrupted Flower. “Yes… According to her he over stepped his liberties and altered Deaths own perceptions, her wants, and her… body.” Life began to falter, aware of her sisters short comings, and very aware of what she has been capable of in the long past of time immemorial, but having only her sister’s words she had to choose them carefully. “Her what? He did what?” Demanded Candy. “She said he altered her want of him, and escalated or multiplied it.” “What?!” Shouted Flower. “It is true that my sister does, did, hold a great deal of interest in the man we know as Byron. Not just because of his unique liberation from his scheduled death. Hhe has always seen something in him. I have no idea what, or to what ends. But according to her, although it might have become something, it was not time.” “Arrogant bitch! He was ours!” Spat Candy furious. “I’m sorry, it’s just her way. Maybe he didn’t want her anymore, maybe the manipulation was the other way around, maybe he had another choice in mind. I don’t know, he wasn’t the strongest man born or died, but he had a self-destructive element of formidable fury. Death said he wanted her and altered her desire for him, escalated it, whichever. But they came together.” Life paused she might aswell have taken a blunt instrument to the girls. “They fucked you mean.” Hissed Candy, holding her friends hand as tightly as if it were her sanity. Flower gripped it back, stifled sobs wracking her body. “Yes, and then she tore him apart in anger. Literally. She drained him of power before he could recover himself, and then called the ambulance.” Life finished. “Why didn’t she kill him?” Flower stumbled, her mouth working at the same time as her brain. Regretful of the question, but torn to know the answer. “I don’t know, she has done worse for less.” Life replied. “Worse than dying?” Candy scoffed aloud. “Yes, a lot worse than just dying. Dying is just another misunderstood stage of living. Look, you have a choice now and it needs to be made quickly.” Both the deceased looked at her, their faces had already been pleading for time to process this. “She has no bargain to keep any longer. I don’t know whether you are safe. She doesn’t like to be dictated to and when you went with Byron from the Waiting, well it didn’t please her.” Life looked ashamed of what she was saying about her sister. She saw the anger and defiance growing on Candy and Flower’s faces. “Look, I don’t know what she can do,” “She’s done it already.” Flower uttered angrily. “I can help you.” Said Life. “You can stay as you are, and I could probably hide you for a few years, but that would only make her more determined. She is inherently patient, and deeply vengeful. But all things die eventually, even the dead, and not even I can change that. What I can do, however, is give you another chance. I can make the drunk driver not drink that night and go home early from his colleagues’ retirement party to his wife and children after only an orange juice. I can give you your life back. What should have been your life, and you can live it.” “But that was so long ago.” Candy managed in her astonishment “That’s the choice. And it needs to be made now. I want you to live.” Said Life. “But Byron.” Flower and Candy said in unison. “You have a lifetime to meet him should you wish.” She lied. “Should we wish?” Flower questioned. “Well you cant see him for as long as you were dead, you didn’t meet yourselves did you? Well you cant again. And time changes many things, life changes many things.” “Would we remember..?” Flower paused. “If you wanted to.” Life answered. “Would he?” Candy asked clearly. “Everything that has happened will happen again, it’s happened already, you will just be in two places, but alive in one of them.” Life sold. Flower and Candy looked at each other. Their hands clutched at each other, and an inappropriate smile of joy shone in their eyes of green and blue. “To be alive again.” Whispered Flower in reverence of the possibility. “Shit.” Agreed Candy quietly. Life’s shoulders relaxed and she slumped into the chair, relief washed energy from her like water. But then she watched the girls body language change dramatically, they straightened forcibly and turned to her as one. “We want to see him.” They demanded. “He’s sedated.” She said quickly. “To aid the healing and the pain.” Or at least he would be when they got there she thought. “We don’t care. We need to see him. To say goodbye at least.” Flower insisted. “So you will go back, back to the street corner, and cross the road safely?” Life asked her regained relief reappearing in her voice. The girls looked at each other and for a last confirmation. “Yes.” They said together. “Then lets go.” Answered Life. And as quick as the sentence they were sat around Byron’s hospital bed. The chairs were in the same formation as the patio. The table between them was replaced by the bed, and the distressing array of machinery plugged, injected, and taped to him. The small dresses Flower and Candy wore held no warmth in the cold room, and their bare feet on the cold floor made them shiver like the living shiver when they feel the dead. Byron was indeed unconscious in appearance before them. He hadn’t been seconds before. Life nodded to them in encouragement, Flower and Candy looked at him and carefully stood up, their movements afraid of waking him. He looked more peaceful than they had ever seen him before. “Hi Honey.” Candy Whispered kissing his cheek. “Hey baby.” Flower whispered sitting carefully on the bed and leaning to his lips. She kissed him and took a breath. “Baby, Life has offered us something, and told us everything. And we have been given an opportunity we can’t ignore.” She looked to Candy, this had to come from both of them. Candy sighed. “Life says you screwed Death.” Flower slapped her arm reproachfully. Candy mouthed the word ‘What?’ to her friend shrugging her arms in defiance, it was true! “We don’t know why you did it. Well we do! But we don’t, we know you were happy with us, you just had to be so fucking self destructive.” Flower touched her girlfriend’s arm. “We just wanted you to know that’s not the reason we are taking Life up on her offer.” Flower continued. “Well, some of it!” Candy insisted. “Yeah, some of it.” Flower agreed. “We can go home honey. Flower and me, go back and cross that road without getting killed. We can live the life we should have had, rather than this fairytale in the original sense, a whirlwind of experience: ultimate highs and crushing lows. We’re too young to have been through that.” She looked across at Flower “But we wouldn’t change a second if it.” “No baby, we wouldn’t.” Confirmed Flower gently. “Can you imagine it? School again, the boarding, the exams, the long path with no shortcuts to growing up! It’s as exciting as it is terrifying baby.” Whispered Candy, in awe of her own words. “And we will take you with us.” She said, “just not physically. But you are, and always will be, a part of us. We love you. I love you.” Candy faltered tears pooling in her ice blue eyes. “I love you.” Flower softly spoke. “We are going home.” Candy said as much for them as for Byron. “To live the time over again,” Flower continued. “Life said we will still have the time we had, and after that we can see each other again if you want to, if we want to. And we do so want to see you again, it’ll be in two years for us, but for you it could tomorrow.” “Well not actually tomorrow,” Candy interrupted motioning to his current state. “And hey we’ll be 18!” She quipped. Flower smiled at her, at the absurdity of the whole situation. The inconceivable had happened, and was happening, and it had turned into a worryingly standard normality to them. Life, death, dead, alive again. And at each corner they coped with a maturity and understanding, far ahead of any other around them. “Guess we’ll see you Byron baby” Said Flower. Each of the deceased climbed on the bed beside him, threading themselves through the myriad of wires and tubes to hold him tightly. They kissed him in turn, and then each kissed a corner of his mouth together, just how he used to love it. “Goodbye sweet honey I love you” Whispered Candy. “Goodbye sweet love I love you.” Whispered Flower.

They untangled themselves from Byron’s tubes and wires, soundless tears flowing freely from their eyes, as they backed out the door. Their sight locked on their dishevelled love: pathetic and alone. They couldn’t stay, yet Life had to push them gently to move out of the room. She guided them to the corridor outside, leaning into the room one last time, Life whispered: “I’m sorry love.” Byron’s eyes opened wide, but he was still unable to move or motion that he had been awake throughout their visit. He loved them and he was sorry, but it was too late. Byron sobbed unbearably for a day and a half seeing them leave in his mind, over and over again. Each time tearing slim strips from his heart. His stomach rebelled and dry vomiting caused hot nauseating pain against his barely healing wounds. And still he sobbed. For his pitiful life, his pitiful death, and his destruction so determinedly pursued yet so painfully rewarded. The doctors had no choice but to sedate him for two weeks, just to keep him from distressing his injuries. Staff had been leaving in droves from his bedside care, unable to cope with the soul tearing sobbing, infectious and tormenting. By the time he was sedated the staff had reduced by half. All off for days, unable to leave their homes overwhelmed with anxiety and anguish. Euthanasia had never looked so good, sympathy being a finite resource for even the saints.

Stories began to circulate the gossip columns about the new risen film stars’ collapse. They blamed the media, the same media they worked for, the same media still reporting his demise. They petered out after a week, and he was forgotten a week later, when he was finally allowed to regain consciousness. Another two weeks of silence followed until he was well enough to leave. All kinds of help and counselling were offered, for whatever he had that pained him. All were refused by a shake of his head a deep entrenched frown on his brow.

As selfless as the hospital staff were, a small celebration took place as Byron wandered out of the Hospital doors into anonymity.

When she was bad part 3 the destruction of self

They had given him his first good memories.

 

And he destroyed them.

 

He destroyed himself.

A week after leaving the Hospital without money in his pockets, without ID, without an identity, and thousands of miles from his flat in London, Byron sat in the harbour. He looked out without emotion toward the French woman of liberation. He had been mugged and beaten twice on his way. His shoes stolen, then his jacket, and the clothes left were dirty and ripped. The blood had dried on his face, his tormentors bored of beating him without response, they couldn’t even be bothered to kill him. Byron guessed he was looking in the general direction of his home. As he sat, a wry smile pulled at the corners of his mouth. The Smile turned into a giggle, the giggle into belly laugh, belly laugh into near hysteria causing salt tears to tumble across the dried blood, diluting it to a strawberry pink, and leaving a salty rich taste in his mouth as it coursed in. He was so pathetic, so absurdly anticlimactical, so dead.

As the pain in his sides eased with the laughter dying from his breath, he chocked up some of the blood from the tears. The tickling fluid caused a small coughing fit, at the end of which a large pool of thick crimson blood lay between his legs, on the floor in front of him. Byron guessed his internal wounds had been somewhat rekindled into fruition by the tussles he had encountered on his journey here. It was his intention at the time to get to England somehow: even stowing away in a hold somewhere, or begging a trip with the people smugglers on their return journey, depending on their direction, and possible insincere integrity. Somehow he was going to get to his house, put the kettle on for coffee, and smoke a cigarette in his most comfortable chair. This was his small ambition. He had contemplated many things and many directions in the last week: to see the girls, to die and shout at death. To pick himself up from his seventh layer of destruction, leaving the past in the past and even dispatching oblivion and get a normal life somehow, somewhere, with an unconventionally beautiful girl called Annabel. But all of these thoughts and aspirations paled into silence along with his laughter. The water lapped beneath him, just over the edge of the railings, it called to him.

He had drowned once, at the age of ten. It should have killed him. It wanted him back. If he didn’t struggle this time, and fight the filling of his lungs, the water promised it would make him better. Fleetingly he thought of having to see Death again, but knew under his thought that she would not be there. That he was alone as he was when he was ten, looking at the inviting reservoir, its cool water, and it’s simplistic maternal pull.

I promise it wont hurt.

Byron stood slowly and walked to the railings, looking down at his mother calling. What about the girls? He thought. They would be ok, he replied. It was two years later, they had lived what they should have lived. If he was even a memory he hoped it was a fond one. He had only caused pain and devastation before, why would now be different? They were eighteen, he was… he was more than ten… he couldn’t remember, but it was a lot older. There was no future, at least not a pleasant one, with him in it.

It will be like going to sleep.

He stared again at his mother. Light rain began to fall around him. It seeped into his skin, cleaned his clothes, his face, a pool of pink muddy water formed at his cold bare feet. He looked at his reflection beneath him, peppered with raindrops, his face became alive again, and he could see his bright grey eyes looking back at him. He remembered the soft kisses of Flower and Candy on his lips, he heard their voices tell him they loved him one last time.

Come home Byron love, come back to me.

The water called softly, constantly, reassuringly. He was ten again, stripped down to his cut off shorts. The sun on his skin warming him from inside out. The cool water held her hand out to him, asking him to come and play. Byron giggled, it began to rain harder, but to him the sun was out. He sobbed gently, filled with a ten-year-old’s uncontainable excitement.

Come home Byron. Come and play.

 

Byron let out a laugh, heart felt, and full. He leapt the railings and plunged into the cool water once more. On his way home.

When she was bad part 4 Epilogue

Death gave birth to a daughter. She was called Summerfall. Her eyes were speckled with the most iridescent illuminating grey.

 

Flower and Candy grew up: they became successful and happy. The third film they produced together was called; Anthropocentric.

 

Byron Diaeh went home.

 

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