16 - The Push Back

16 - The Push Back

A Chapter by Tertia

Celia sat on the roof staring at the night sky far over the sea wondering what life was all about. She looked at the stars twinkling, the moon with its graceful glow and the ghostly wisps of clouds floating by, asking herself why she was here on this planet. She looked far across the bay at the fleet of bobbing boat masts, listening to the sea making a distant roar amid the hum of traffic. She felt at home in this little town and as she sleepily closed her eyes Lucas was there with a cheeky smile, his arms around Barbara. She was smiling too, a sick, sweet smile that made her want to vomit. And then before she could stop them they were making passionate love. She opened her eyes and took a sharp breath, it made her wobble on the ridge tiles and grit fell down to the gutter and off the edge. She leant back on the chimney stack and took a huge glug of wine and lit another cigarette. The second floor skylight she had clambered through seemed like a long way down and annoyingly the wind had blown it half-shut. The rejection of Lucas still hurt as much, it had made her reckless and self-destructive. Lucas was right to make the decision he’d made, but what was the point of being right, a person had to follow instincts and hers were giving her a loud and clear signal right now, but it was all too late she had been given the push back.

Time went on, but always with the push back in mind and after endless commutes along the thirty mile trip to work, somehow a guy called Nick had appeared and subtly mingled with the fringe of the Friday lunchtime scene she sometimes went to and before it was really noticed he was a part of it; then leading it. First he had talked to the guys on the edge of their knot of loose friends and then gradually worked his way to the centre and before she knew it he was chatting to her and by the time he was, he seemed to know everyone. Nick wore black and was different that’s why she couldn’t dislike him. He lived in the outskirts of town on a notorious road where there were large houses and mansions. On the third time he talked to her he invited her to his house and through curiosity, she accepted.

The wine bottle fell, scrapping along the tiles and bouncing off the plastic guttering, making it spin wildly in the air, spraying the remainder of its contents in a sparkling circle before disappearing into the gloom. She waited for a smash and the sound of breaking glass, but there was only a heavy thud. She laughed, realising how high she was, looking across at the tops of fifty foot trees swaying in the breeze. She reluctantly started her descent, fixing her arms and legs out wide to get as much grip as possible, she started to scrape and slide down the tiles as the wine bottle had. ‘Damn and hell,’ she shouted, stopping to look down at the roofs of cars below. She froze, but was slipping. She edged sideways and somehow aligned herself to the skylight, got a grip on the frame of it and scrambled in. Her hands were dirty, cut and bruised. She washed them under the sink and sat in the dark of the spare room and cried. Crying helped these days.

Nick lived in the basement of his house. There was a complex of rooms down there that centred around the kitchen. He didn’t use the giant metal-studded front door, he entered through the steps at the rear and kept the internal door at the top of the basement stairs locked at all times. The windows in the basement were small and grilled and let in little light. It was a dark and dank place intended for servants in times gone by. The formal dining room was now his bedroom and the area off the kitchen served as a living room.

Celia sat at the kitchen table looking around. ‘Why are you living here?’

‘It’s where I grew up,’ Nick said flatly.

‘It’s a creepy place. Why don’t you sell it?’

‘Umm, I don’t know. I hadn't thought of that,’ Celia looked at the Aga that heated the house, its hot plate boiling the kettle, it was the heart of the house. Set into the wall was a dumb-waiter with a varnished wooden door and high up on another wall was a row of brass bells, each with a location label above it.


‘Are there any people upstairs?’ she said not knowing what to ask next.


‘It’s all empty?’ she said in alarm.


‘Who owns it all?’ she asked. He looked away. ‘You do?’


‘You mean your parents do?’

‘They’re dead. I own it now,’

‘I’m sorry,’ she said softly, she waited to speak. ‘I would definitely get rid of it, there’s a lot of land,’ The formal garden around the house was framed by a high stone wall and was divided into sections. At the front, facing the road was a square rose garden with a grid row of cast-iron rose stands, containing a mixture of dead and overgrown roses. To one side was the family graveyard and on the other was a swamp.

‘I’m doing the place up,’ he said. ‘Decorating it from top to bottom. I need helpers. Well a helper,’ he smiled at her.

‘Ha ha you’ve got to be joking,’

‘It’s only sanding down a few window frames,’

‘No way. I’m not going up there. The whole place is haunted,’ she said. Nick said nothing and put down a mug of coffee the kitchen table next to her.

She liked the way he was honest and didn't sugar coat everything. His idea of a date was decorating, no frills, no cars and bars or fast talk, just a slow process of getting to know each other by real needs, real life.

'Are you scared to go up there?'

'Course not, I go up there all the time. I have to make sure everything's all right,' he said, sitting on the end of a chez-long.

'At night though?'

'Sometimes I have a wander around in my pyjamas and open a few creaking doors and stare in a mirror or two,' Nick said, laughing openly. He had a distant look as though recalling something unexplained.

'I'm sorry to hear about your parents, Nick,'

'Me too, but I didn't know them that well being at boarding school all the time,'

'What happened?' she asked hesitantly. 'Do you mind me asking?'

'They went to Bulgaria for a family meeting and not-unusually there was an argument. A few days later they were found dead in woodland,'

'Murdered?' she exclaimed.

'Yes, but nothings been proven. There's no evidence. The Police have got nothing to go on,' Nick said his tone smooth as though he'd repeated the words often. He stood up and looked through the grilled window, letting the dim light hit his white face. 'Things are different out there,'

'What about the UK police?'

'The British Embassy are in contact with the local authorities and the case is ongoing, but in reality nothing's happening,' he said matter of fairly, he didn't seem upset. 'Family dispute more than meeting.

'Family feud,' Celia agreed.

'Thats Transylvania for you,' he said smiling at her, checking her for a reaction.

'Yeah, stupid lousy Transylvania,' she laughed and he laughed showing his teeth and for a second she thought she saw that two of his teeth were pointed.

Up by the high tufts of grass where the wind blew all the time she looked down over the cliff edge to the sea. She couldn’t believe what was happening, there was a death in her and a storm of emotions. Tumbling over seemed like a fine option as equal to fighting or becoming a recluse. The push back was taking her hard and when she did sleep it brought disturbing dreams so most nights she was awake drinking, smoking and listening to music. High above her two buzzards circled.

© 2021 Tertia

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It was a nice chapter, where Nick was introduced. Out of curiosity Celia accepted his invitation and a whole new world opened in front of her, with a disturbing fact about his parents. You described his house aptly and why he chose to live in the basement, that is also. His idea about dating is simple, just a slow process of knowing each other... I found this person interesting and the entire chapter... Nicely done

Posted 1 Month Ago

i liked this chapter a lot

Posted 1 Month Ago


1 Month Ago

Glad you enjoyed it Wordman

1 Month Ago

you`re welcome

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2 Reviews
Added on July 10, 2021
Last Updated on August 5, 2021
Tags: story, love, linger, push back, push, back, reckless, meaning, wonder, destruction, drifting, Nick, reflection, life



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