Sunday, March 1, 2015

For the inner child inside all of us....

A sneaky peak at the beginning of the story. (Unedited so forgive any errors)

“Are you ready Cath?” Nikos enquired politely, but with a touch of impatience.
“Two minutes.” Came the reply from the bathroom, “Just finishing my make-up.”
The bathroom was the second door on the right, along the quite narrow hallway that linked the four bedrooms. The same pale blue/grey fitted carpet tied the hallway to the sitting room, and flowed out towards the front door before butting against the ceramic tiles of the entrance.
“Two minutes?” he confirmed back to his wife. Then he looked at their three children and muttered under his breath, “more like twenty”.
All three children looked at their father, grinning.
“It takes time to look as good as mum does,” defended Olivia, the eldest of the three.
George, the twelve year old middle child, a fraction over two years junior to Olivia, followed that with,
“Dad, what Ollie is really saying is that it takes a long time to make mummy look pretty.”
The two siblings glared at each other, blue eyes versus brown eyes, engaged in a stare off.
“That is not what I said at all Dad, George is being horrible.” She grabbed the dark navy coloured satin cushion and threw it at her brother.
Almost in despair their father implored,
“Kids please, can you just behave for one night, just one night? It’s your mum’s birthday celebration and we’re going out for a nice meal, I don’t want her worrying about you three when she is SUPPOSED to be enjoying herself.”
Sat crossed legged on the end of the cream coloured settee, the youngest of the children, Abby, looked almost angelic; hands together on her lap, an excited smile, how she loved seeing her mummy all dressed up.
The two older children continued their squabbling. Their father just looked up to the skies searching for divine intervention.
“A little help.” he muttered.
As if in answer to his prayers there was a knock at the door, it brought a halt to the chaos.
“Let yourself in Dad.” shouted Nikos. He knew it was his father, the press ganged babysitter, on time as ever.
“Granddad Bert!” Abby screamed with joy, jumping off of the settee and running to the door to greet the old man as he entered the house.
Again Nikos looked to the heavens, “Is that the best you can do?” he questioned.
“I’m telling Granddad you said that Dad.” George declared with an air of righteousness.
“George, Granddad Bert is my dad, IF anybody needs to tell Granddad Bert anything it will be me so you sit still next to your sisters and please, when your mum comes out, please, please, tell her how nice she looks.”
The boy looked at Nikos, “You’ve always told us that it’s not nice to tell lies Dad, so what am I supposed to do?” He grinned,
“You tell the truth George.” was his fathers reply. He thought for a second before deciding to validate his statement. “Just as long as that truth is how nice your mother looks. Do you understand?”
Completely understanding but choosing to be obnoxious the twelve year old folded his arms, “That’s not fair.”
“Life is not fair George.” Olivia chipped in, “Get used to it baby brother.”
The boy threw the cushion back at his sister just as Granddad Bert was pulled into the room by an over zealous nine year old.
“George,” Granddad Bert barked, “That’s your sister. Don’t do that.”
“Sorry Granddad.” said George sheepishly before sitting upright and proper.
Olivia smirked, Nikos looked in bemusement and Granddad Bert looked down and winked at the youngest of the three children hanging off his arm. Abby looked up at her Granddad, she beamed with a smile as wide as her little face.
“How?” pleaded Nikos begging to understand how his seventy-six year old father had such control over HIS own children.
Just as he was about to make another comment he heard the door of the bathroom open. He looked down the hall, his heart skipped a beat; his over whelming pride brought a huge warmth to his person as his wife, Catherine, stepped out and into the light.
He opened his mouth to say something but Granddad Bert beat him to it,
“Absolutely stunning Cathy.” he declared. He had lifted his spectacles to observe the woman.
All three children maneuvered their heads to gaze at their mother, to a child their eyes opened wide in admiration as Cathy took a few more steps towards them.
“Wow mum,” declared Olivia, “just WOW.” she said.
George followed with, “You look really, erm……….” He looked at his dad before continuing, “..nice Mum”
“You look beautiful Mummy.” added Abby, her hands cupped under her heart.
Nikos had followed the compliments all around, looking at each child in turn. He turned back to his wife and holding out his arms as if in awe he said ………. Nothing! Granddad Bert had butted in before he had chance to say a word.
“Crikey Nikos, you are one lucky fella,” he said. “That dumbstruck expression on your face reminds me of the first time I set eyes on your mother.” He stepped closer to study Nikos’s facial expression, “Yup, just like that. Well, say something boy.” He chuckled at his son.
“Dad, d’you mind. I was going to say just how stunning and beautiful and nice she looked, but you all beat me to it.” he pleaded.
“Too slow Nikos, that’s your problem,” grumbled the old man. “Well Cath, I know he’s my son but I honestly think you married beneath yourself, you look like a million dollars.” He smiled.
“Oi Dad!” protested Nikos.
Cathy spoke, “He’s only teasing Nick.” she assured him with a warm smile. She took two or three more steps forward.
“You look……..” Nikos started, “You look absolutely……….”
“Oh for goodness sake son, spit it out.” instructed an impatient Granddad Bert, laughing.
“You look absolutely radiant.” beamed Nikos.
She wore a deep-maroon coloured strapless evening gown; the subtle horizontal rib type pattern served to hold in at her waist where it changed to vertical pleats as it dropped to the floor, almost covering her contrasting, open toe, matt strawberry red heeled shoes. As she twirled for her audience the movement revealed a slit in the right side, just below her thigh, allowing her knees the freedom to move unrestricted.
“It’s a bit figure hugging Mum.” observed Olivia, a comment brought about by the snug fitting nature around her hips and backside.
In a concerned voice Cathy asked, “But not too much?”
“Definitely not.” interjected her husband. Still in awe of the shapely figure his wife of seventeen years had kept despite having had their three children.
Abby walked up to her mum and looked with tears of admiration in her eyes.
“Luvly, beautiful.” was all she could say.
Nikos, as if jolted back into reality, suddenly put his hand in his pocket.
“Oh, I forgot,” he stuttered, “You’re missing one thing.” As he pulled a small box from its secret hideaway.
Cathy looked at her husband curiously.
He opened the box to display a gold necklace. As he carefully lifted it from its box a small diamond encrusted golden heart hung from the end, suspended from its length. He held it out for his wife to admire.
“I know your actual birthday was a few days ago, but I wanted you to have it for tonight.”
“Oh Nikos, that is beautiful.” she said, her hazel coloured eyes sparkled. Her smile lit up the room. Her perfect white teeth gleamed, her cheeks flushed red. She turned away from Nikos, scooping up her long black hair as she did, as if sweeping a curtain of night, to show the narrow maroon straps that secured the dress across her bare back; but mainly to encourage him to step forward and secure the gold chain around her neck.
A few seconds of fumbling and the necklace was in place, sitting about an inch above the small matching maroon ribbon bow, intricately speckled with matt red silk flecks, accentuating her ample cleavage.
“Happy birthday darling.” Nikos whispered into his wife’s ear as he smoothed her silken like hair back down the small of her back. He could feel her sigh with contentment.
The mood was broken by Granddad Bert, “Good recovery Nick son. Now will you youngens get gone, the table is booked and won’t wait forever.”
Mum and dad laughed.
“Ok kids, we’re out of here. No trouble for your Granddad, and we’ll see you in the morning.” instructed their father. After given each of the children a quick kiss goodbye Cathy and Nikos headed towards the front door.
“I don’t see why I need a baby sitter,” Olivia called after them, “I’m nearly fifteen y’know”
“You haven’t got a baby sitter Olivia,” replied Cathy without turning around, “You’re on Granddad sitting duty!”
Arm in arm Cathy and Nikos made for the door.
As the teenager considered this information her parents were gone, off for the night to celebrate Cathy’s thirty seventh birthday.
Olivia cussed under her breath, pulled up her knees, grabbed the cushion that George had thrown back at her earlier,  and plopped her head on top of it. She sulked.
The family Audi A4 was heard driving away, Abby sat back on the settee next to her brother. The nine-year-old was twiddling her fingers, her face scrunched up; she was curious.
“Granddad Bert,” she started.
Abby’s tone told him there was a question on her mind. He looked at her. He laughed at the way she was twisting her face, obviously giving great thought to what she was about to ask.
“Yes Abby.” the old man replied.
“Granddad Bert, why haven’t you got a Grandma Bert?”
The old man laughed loudly. Olivia jumped in quickly, a look of horror on her face, telling her young sister to ‘ssshhh’.
Calmly Granddad Bert walked over and sat on the arm of the family three-seater settee. He took Abby’s hand.
“I did have a ‘Grandma Bert’ once Abby, but she went away.” He smiled.
“Went away where?” asked the curious nine year old.
“It’s a long story little one, you’re probably a bit too young to understand right now, but we’ll talk about it when you’re a bit older.” He looked across at the two other children. George was staring at his folded hands on his lap avoiding eye contact, whilst Olivia was looking directly at the old man, a look of profound sadness on her face.
To cheer the sudden atmosphere of awkwardness, he offered, “I’ll tell you what Abby, how about I tell you the story of how I met, erm, ‘Grandma Bert’? Would you like that?”
The little girl nodded.
“You may as well sit here.” offered Olivia abruptly standing up from her seat on the settee. “I’m going to my bedroom, I’ve got home work to do.” She pulled the cushion from under her chin and dumped it on Georges hands, still rested on his lap.
“Anything I can help you with?” asked her Granddad.
“No Granddad, this is computer studies, Information Technology. I think you might be too old to understand.” she said in a spiteful patronizing fashion. Olivia was at an age where her moods would turn on a sixpence, without cause, mostly without reason and always without mercy: A ‘teenager’ thing.
The old man nodded his head, “You’re probably right Ollie. I don’t know very much about computers at all,” he paused, “but I do know that your mum and dad don’t allow you to use your laptop unsupervised, and certainly not alone in your bedroom, so that will be staying over there on the coffee table please, thank you.”
“Oh God Granddad, you are as bad as they are. I’m nearly fifteen, I’m almost a grown up.” She stood up. “I’m entitled to some privacy!” As she stormed away, heading for her bedroom, stamping her feet loudly, she pulled her mobile phone from the back pocket of her faded jeans.
“I can talk to my friends on this anyway.” she called behind her waving the grey/pink cased smart phone.
“Yes you can,” agreed her Granddad, “but that’s not getting homework done, and it’s very expensive!”
Both Abby and George sat quietly, looking at each other, embarrassed by their sisters outburst.
Bert took a different approach,
“Olivia……. Sweetheart I don’t want to fall out with you but you know I’m not allowed to let you do that. I’m supposed to be babysitting your brother and sister, and you are supposed to be looking after me. You can’t do that from your bedroom.” he reasoned.
The girl slowed to a halt.
Seeing that he was getting a reaction the old man continued,
“Why don’t you sit over there (indicating an armchair by the French windows), you can use the laptop, and do your homework. I’ll keep these two amused so you’re left in peace. And if I fall over or get sick you’ll be here to help me, it would make me feel, erm ‘safer’.” It was a compromise, an attempt to placate the moody teenager.
The girl stood still, thinking for a second or two. Her shoulders dropped, then her head. She resigned herself to the inevitable. Still stropping, she marched back into the lounge and practically threw herself into the armchair that her Granddad had suggested with a ‘”Humph”.
Granddad Bert moved slowly over to the coffee table and picked up the laptop. He walked over to the indignant teenager and offered it to her.
“There you go.” he said as he handed it to her, “No-one’s going to trouble you Olivia.” he assured her.
With a bad mannered snatch she took the device.
“Really?” asked the old man, “you are going to be this grumpy all night? Come on Ollie, it’s not really fair on your brother and sister.” There was a tone of reasoning with an edge of pleading as he emphasized the ’fair’.
“You’ve just been telling me how ‘nearly grown up’ you are, this isn’t how grown-ups behave.”
Olivia just stared at the wall, and sighed.
“OK then, we’ll be just over there,” the old man pointed back to the couch, “If you need anything… just send a text.” he smiled. Olivia looked surprised at her Granddads comment, but slowly a little smile started to appear.
“Right then you two,” He turned and walked slowly back towards the younger siblings, “about that story.”
“Yay!” called Abby. Granddad told stories all the time, but what she didn’t know was that this one was going to change their lives.
The two children parted to give their oldest living relative a seat snuggled between them. Olivia scowled over the open laptop.

And so the story began.

This is so completely different from anything I have written before - it's the start of 'Elementals', a YA (14+) adventure that has been incredible fun to write, and so refreshing, even rejuvenating, 

It reminds me greatly of the my football (soccer) coaching years; as a qualified FA Coach I worked with age groups from under 5 through to adult teams. After spending a few years coaching at adult level, to go back to grass routes coaching is the most refreshing experience on the planet. The grumpy, prima-donna attitude, the lack of energy or drive, or the whole 'can't be assed because I'm already sooooo good already' type are swapped for a wonderful energetic, keen to learn bunch of kids that love football for the game it is. Yes, writing Elementals is a similarly refreshing experience.

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