Sunday, 6 January 2008


PC Wayne Winterbottom sat me on the ledge, then came and lowered himself down beside me. He didn't say a word. Just sat there silently staring straight ahead. Hands lying loosely on his bent knees, legs dangling over the edge. Brave really.

After about ten minutes my crying dried up into funny little hicupping sounds. I couldn't remember the last time I had cried like that. I hadn't cried when my mother died of cancer at just twenty-eight years of age, or when my father was killed five years later in a car crash. I hadn't cried when my first wife left me for another man, or when my second wife left me for another woman. I hadn't cried when my fiancee aborted our first baby two years ago,or when my beautiful seven week old daughter had died of a cot death three days ago. In fact, looking back, I hadn't cried since my dog, Mister Bojangles, had been put down when I was nine years old.

Hell of a long time not to cry.

I wiped my nose on the sleeve of my jacket. Surreal huh? Here was I, sitting on a cold concrete ledge, tens of feet up in the air, cuffing snot onto the sleeve of my expensive grey three-piece suit.

So? Said Pc Wayne Winterbottom. What's this all about?

I physically jolted. I had forgotten about the young policeman sitting there quietly next to me.

I gave a huge sigh and shook my head.

I dunno, I said. Everything is just too much...just too goddam much.

Like what? Asked PC Wayne Winterbottom.

So I told him. Just like that. I told him about my mother, her suffering, how she wouldn't let myself, or my brother Pete, see her right at the end. I told him how my father had gone out on my thirteenth birthday, to get a take-away from the local chinese restaurant, and had been killed on the way back. I told him how my first wife had been sleeping with my best mate for eighteen months behind my back, then had packed her bags and moved in with him. I told him how my second wife had been having an affair with her female yoga instructor for three months, before packing her bags and moving in with her. I told him how my fiancee had aborted our baby, my son, without even telling me, because she hadn't wanted to be a mother just then. Finally I told him how I'd woken up three days ago and gone in to give my seven week old daughter, my beautiful little Jennifer Ann, a peck on the cheek before work, and had found her dead in her cot.

I told PC Wayne Winterbottom everything, leaving nothing out. As I spoke, filling in every tiny detail, I felt something heavy in my body begin to melt. All my life I had carried around this big grey lump of rock. Sitting there, recalling every event in turn, was like taking a pickaxe to that rock, chipping away at it until there was nothing left but a pile of dust.

One puff of wind would be enough to blow it all away.

PC Wayne Winterbottom sat silently beside me. Listening. When I had finished he looked up and his eyes were grave as he spoke.

He told me his wife had just left him. She was eight months pregnant with their first child. She said she'd had enough of the police force interfering with their life. She wanted out. She'd gone back home to her parents. He'd tried everything within his power to get her back, but she was having none of it. Right from the start his in-laws had never liked him. He wasn't good enough for their daughter.

PC Wayne Winterbottom turned to me, his young face old.

He told me he was in terrible debt with his bank. I wouldn't believe how much. There was no way he would ever be able to pay back all the money he owed. Not on his wages.

I tried to interrupt him, let him know that, hey, I was a bank manager; there were ways and means around these things. But he wasn't listening. He just sat there, turning his wedding ring round and round on his finger.

The wind had got up since I had first come out on the ledge and I was getting cold. Expensive my suit may well be, warm it was not. I'd changed my mind. I didn't want to die. Not today. More than anything I wanted to get back to my wife. She was grieving over the loss of our daughter too. She needed me.

I got to my feet, clutching hold of the safety barrier as a strong gust of wind buffeted against my body. I twisted round awkwardly on the narrow ledge, put out my hand to help PC Wayne Winterbottom to his feet.

The ledge was empty.

Down below someone began to scream...



sheoflittlebrain said...

Another breathtaking ending! You are such a WRITER, Akasha:)

Ello said...

You are an excellent writer. This was a great story. What a great ending! This should have been published somewhere.

Akasha Savage said...

Thanks girls.
I have sent this off to a couple of publications, but I'm never quite sure what market to hit.
Any ideas?

Vesper said...

Oops! Good one!
A great story!

Posting a story on your blog is considered publication so magazines might have trouble accepting it because of that.

Although we very much enjoy reading your stories, if you want to publish them you should send them out first and only after - if all reasonable hope is lost - put them on the blog. :-)

Akasha Savage said...

Thanks for that vesper. Most of these stories have been floating around for a while, and some I have sent off to various magazines. I have had a little success...but nothing to get too excited about. The problem I find is, there's not many publications that take on stories from the darkside...but I'll keep trying.

Bill Cameron said...

Hear, hear! Though Vesper is right about the submissions. Not all publications feel that way about blogs, but just in case, until you've felt the options have been exhausted, you might want to wait to post them here. Of course, I still wanna read 'em!

Now, here's another thought. What if you recast this story in present tense?

Akasha Savage said...

Good idea Bill.
I do tinker with my stories now and again...putting them in different tenses, different viewpoints etc. The trouble with me is, I have so many ideas cluttering up my head, that when I've written one story I'm always eager to move on to the next.

Monique said...

One word... WOW!

It's so hard to find the right publisher and to be honest I don't think it matters that you posted the stories on a blog first. After all it might just be a way to attract just that sort of attention.

I have the same problems trying to find the right producer for my stuff and have so far failed miserably. I have found some consolation in posting Middle Ditch and I also began posting my other written scripts.

Keep up the good work. You'll get there!

Akasha Savage said...

Thanks monique.
What always annoys me - and a lot of other writers I expect- is the way 'celebrities' get their books published ten-a-penny, while us real authors have to struggle all the way.

Monique said...

Yes I agree, but do they sell? I don't think so. Publishers are starting to realize this and hopefully people like you get a chance.