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Apple Juice and Other Short Stories by Raymond Hopkins - HTML preview

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                                                            JENNY 

 

I wish.  Oh how I wish!  But there, its no earthly use making wishes like that; no good trying to claw back the past in order to bite the cherry a second time.  You cant go back.  Not ever.  The tape of life winds only one way, and having wound to the end, stops.  If it breaks in the process, it stops sooner than expected, but that is the only variation permitted.

I was offered the moon once, but like a spoilt child - was I spoilt? -   probably, would satisfy with nothing less than the stars.  And now?  Now I had the tiny patch of earth underneath my feet, a patch that changed constantly with my footsteps, and all of it second hand.  Still, the beach gave a spurious sense of ownership, washed constantly as it was to a smooth uniformness that gave the impression of being new and unused.

My feet sank into the soft, wet sand as I stared at the bottle drifting in with the tide.  Retreating every now and then against the encroaching waters, I waited with what patience I could muster until the bottle was within reach, then stooped and picked it up, feeling slightly self conscious about the act.  To be sure, there was nobody close enough to see, nobody even in sight at all, yet the feeling persisted just the same.  Years ago I wouldnt have felt the same self consciousness, but then years ago I wouldnt have wandered along a deserted beach for company.  Years ago I was a foreigner and did things differently.

I looked at the bottle with an artificial feeling of interest.  It was green, a dark, deep colour that could only be described as bottle green.  It was almost, but not quite opaque, though it was impossible to see what, if anything, might be inside.  Without a label, there was only one way to find out.  I removed the cork, half expecting a genie to swirl out and grant me my hearts desire, but of course no such thing happened.  I would even have