Wednesday 19 December 2018

A Story Inspired By A Song by Helen Hollick

yes, I know I've already done one - and I have two more stories scheduled for 21st and 26th December, but alas, for this date I was let down at the last moment, so I hurriedly filled the gap...
guess the song

I felt such an idiotic fool. Two left feet? Both of which I am adept at putting them in it. You name it, I mess it up.
I’d been out with her twice, that there was to be a third time astonished me, but then I guessed she probably wanted to see the movie and it was nicer to go with someone rather than go alone, even if that someone was a supersonic lame-brain like me.
That first time, we’d met for a drink in the pub. Fine,  except I hadn’t realised that it was the local darts inter-team final. The place was packed out. No seats, ages to get served and even then, when I did, I got her the wrong drink: white wine instead of red. She said it didn’t matter, but I knew she was just  being polite.
Then the second time, I suggested we go for a meal. Met her at the restaurant only to discover that the bloody place was closed for refurbishment. Add to that, I was fifteen minutes late because I’d nearly run out of petrol and had to go out of my way to fill up – where I live in rural Devon it is somewhat lacking when it comes to frequent petrol stations. And it had been chucking it down. Frankly, I was amazed that she had actually waited in the cold and wet for me outside that damn stupid place. Amazingly the wind had veered round and by the time I'd bought fish and chips for us both the sky had cleared, although the wind was still cold. She said it was a lovely evening, but how lovely can it be to sit in a bus shelter eating fish and chips with your fingers and those dead useless plastic forks? OK, yes, the view of the sun going down and the lights coming on along Plymouth Hoe was good... the lighthouse flashing, the pretty boats in the harbour, but in a cold wind? Really?

This third time I’d got the time of the movie wrong. See I can’t get anything right! So we had to see something else instead, some stupid kid's thing. She said she loved it. The girl’s an angel. I doubt I’ll see her again, she'd have had enough of me.  I’ll have to pluck up courage to call her, but I’m too much the coward because I don’t want her to not answer my text, or pretend she’s busy washing her hair.
I wish I was brave, with aps – or is it abs? Either way I haven’t got them. I’m twenty-six, 5ft 5, short-sighted, have a bit of a stammer when I get nervous, which is often, have a mediocre job in the local library, and mess up everything I do. I like the quiet things, listening to classical music, reading – the Greek myths, Hercules, Achilles, Jason and the rest of the gang, the Norse Sagas – the old tried-and-tested stories of Thor, Odin, Baldr, Loki... The movie we were supposed to have seen?  Spiderman. I was rather relieved we didn’t see it to be honest, the trailers looked like it wasn't a good movie. Typical Hollywood over-hype. The original Superman I enjoyed, but then who wouldn’t appreciate the acting of Christopher Reeve – a sad loss to the movie world. Except, even if these movies are a bit daft, the original comic-book heroes weren’t: I loved watching Batman on TV when I was a kid. I’d wanted a Batman outfit for Christmas, I think I was about eight. Mum got it wrong and got me a Robin costume. On the other hand, perhaps she got it right, I was more suited to Robin. Me? A superhero? Is there such a character as Superclot?
I won’t see her again, she won’t want to know me.

I chose Spiderman because I thought Martin would want to see it, he’s always got his nose in those books about mythology, you know, that Argonaut chap and the Viking bloke with the hammer. I thought he’d enjoy those sort of romps on the big screen, and I'd wanted to make a good impression. For myself, I can’t stand those type of silly US movies. We got to the cinema at the wrong time and had to see something else instead. I kept telling him that I loved the movie we saw, but I don’t think he believed me. I don't think he liked it much, although he did laugh. Actually, he laughed quite a bit. OK yes, it was kid's stuff, but it was really funny, and I’ve always been a Paddington Bear fan. I’ll ask my dad to get me the DVD for Christmas, it’s a cheer-yourself-up sort of movie, ideal for those days when you are stuck in bed with a rotten cold. Or for remembering laughing in a movie with a really nice guy.
I like Martin, but I think he thinks I’m posh, that I like fancy restaurants and noisy pubs. I don't. I like simple, 'homey' stuff. We had Chippy Tea one night instead of the fancy meal he’d planned – I was so relieved! Fish and Chips while sitting in a bus shelter watching the Plymouth lighthouse on the opposite shore, the sun going down, the lit-up-like-a-Christmas-tree ferries going in and out. And who cares about the cold? I don’t, that's what woolly jumpers are for.

It's been several days now. I’ve been waiting for him to call or text. Should I phone him? I don’t like to, in case he thinks I’m pushing too hard or taking him for granted. He’s shy and lacking in confidence, he’s no Hero, but who wants a brash smartarse for a boyfriend? Martin is a gentleman, he insists that I walk on the inside of the pavement, opens doors for me – including the car door. He treats me like a lady, and I love that. Most men in my past have treated me like the proverbial do-do. 
Shall I call him? Dare I? 
Oh wait, that’s my phone… where is it? What bloody pocket… 

I tapped out her numbers three times on my keypad. Never pressed the little green button to make the call, though. It was 9.30, a beastly night, rain lashing down outside, the wind howling round the old house that had been converted into flats several years ago. Mine was the top floor, I love it because of the view of Dartmoor. When you could see the view through the rain, that is.  Nothing on TV to watch, and as much as I was enjoying  a book about King Arthur, I wanted to find the courage to call Lizzie.
Oh, what’s the point in kidding myself? She’s gorgeous with her blue eyes, blonde hair and beautiful smile. Why the heck would she want a clodpoll like me?
Wait! That’s my phone… Where did I put it? Oh bugger... oh here it is... Oh my God, it’s her… it’s her…
Deep breath.... Keep calm. 
“Hello? Lizzie…?”

So what makes a hero? A bloke who wears a mask and his underpants outside of his tights? Not in my book! A hero to me is the wonderful guy who drops everything, gets in his car and drives me through pouring rain, and even poorer visibility, for over an hour-and-a-half  from the south coast of Devon to the north, from Plymouth to Barnstaple and the North Devon Hospital where my dad had been rushed with a suspected heart-attack. A hero is the guy who sits with me all night, holding my hand, fetching me coffee and Mars Bars from the vending machine, telling me it will be alright, reassuring me. The guy who puts his jacket round my shoulders because I’m shivering, who holds me close when I start to cry. Who was there for me when I needed him. And didn't once mutter or mumble about the time, or that he needed to get to work the next day or anything like that. 
When dawn eventually came, Martin drove me to my dad's house so that I could feed Boots, the cat, and crash out for a couple of hours. He telephoned his work to say he was taking a few days off because of an emergency; telephoned my work to tell them I'd be off for a while. He cooked brunch -  bacon butties oozing with ketchup, just how I like them - then took me back to the hospital and again waited with me. Dad was OK, a little shaken, but it turned out to be a warning not the real thing. Martin held me so tight when I cried again - relief this time.  
He took the train (well trains, he had to change at Exeter) back to Plymouth and ensured that our flats were properly locked up. He packed me a suitcase to last me a few days - sensible stuff. Underwear, jeans, t-shirts, jumpers, jim-jams. Toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, my toothbrush. Slippers. All neatly packed. He even shoved in the book I was reading that he noticed beside my bed. And my teddy. My mum had given me Dibby Bear for my birthday a couple of years ago. A month before she was killed by a drunk driver. So he's a special bear. He lives on my pillow  and keeps me company on those nights when I can't sleep.
Martin put my cat in her travel basket (and got scratched as thanks,) and then drove my car to North Devon. OK it doesn't sound a lot, but he was kind and thoughtful, and all that took up most of an entire day. He cooked dinner that night, nothing fancy, just shepherd's pie, but it was so nice to get back to dad's house after the hospital to find the lights on, the fire lit, the table laid and a delicious smell wafting from the kitchen. My cat, Miss Mumbles, was shut firmly in the small sitting room away from dad's cat, food dish, bowl of water and litter tray all attended to. 
Martin is the nicest guy I've ever met. I don’t want a superhero, I don't want airy-fairy tales - huh, you never hear of Prince Charming after the wedding do you? I bet he was a right sod. And who believes in 'Happy Ever After?'anyway? Life isn't like that. Sh*t happens. It's how you deal with it that matters. I want to walk into the future with a guy who doesn't pretend to be something he isn't, I want a guy with a genuine smile and a gentle kiss. A guy who will always be there, no matter what. 
This is what I want. A relationship like this with someone like Martin. Well, no let's be clear. Not someone like Martin ...  with Martin. He doesn't need a cape to be my superhero. He just needs to be who he is. That's  enough for me.

© Helen Hollick

Song: The Chainsmokers & Coldplay - Something Just Like This

about the author

Helen lives on a thirteen-acre farm in North Devon, England. Born in London, she wrote pony stories as a teenager, moved to science-fiction and fantasy, and then discovered historical fiction. Published for over twenty years with her Arthurian Trilogy, and the 1066 era she became a ‘USA Today’ bestseller with her novel about Queen Emma The Forever Queen (UK title A Hollow Crown.) She also writes the Sea Witch Voyages, pirate-based nautical adventures with a touch of fantasy. She has written a non-fiction book about pirates and one about Smugglers, (due to be published in 2019)

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Twitter: @HelenHollick
Helen is the founder of Discovering Diamonds

Note: There is copyright legislation for song lyrics but no copyright in names, titles or ideas
images via Pixabay accreditation not required

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The Full List of Authors

1st        Philip K. Allan     
 2nd      J J Toner         
 3rd       Catherine Kullman    
 4th       Helen Hollick              
 5th       Richard Tearle    
 6th       Barbara Gaskell Denvil
 7th       Nicky Galliers
 8th       Angela Macrae Shanks          
 9th       Katherine Pym  
10th      J G Harlond    
11th       Anna Belfrage
12th      Richard Dee
13th      Inge H. Borg
14th      Annie Whitehead
15th      Louise Adam
16th      Charlene Newcomb
17th      Alison Morton                         
18th      Kathryn Gauci
19th      Helen Hollick 
20th     M.J. Logue
21st       Helen Hollick 
22nd     Cryssa Bazos               
23rd      Jennifer Wilson                       
24th      Elizabeth St John  writing as Julia Darke                         
26th      Helen Hollick
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  1. Lovely story. I'd take Martin over superman any day.

  2. Yay for the underdogs, the ones who get so much done in silence. Realy enjoyed this.

  3. Helen, I've got to hand it to you! The emotions of the insecure suitor, feeling he must always be Man the Hunter, the Alpha Male because convention demands it, that he must always lead in the Dance of Love, are all so real - believe me!! The sudden twist that binds them - poignant but a happy ending for that. I wish Martin and Lizzie two things: that they, too, have that fairytale ending and that Martin introduces Lizzie to your King Arthur books!!

    1. LOL I wondered if anyone would realise that I'd mentioned my own King Arthur novels! :-)

    2. LOL - don't blame you! You know we reviewers read every word!!

  4. Angela MacRae Shanks19 December 2018 at 12:53

    Love this story Helen, it oozes humanity as much as those bacon butties oozed ketchup. Yes, give me a man like Martin any day over a posturing poster boy. Love the song too. This story made me smile so much! :-)

    1. Thank you Angela - I love the song because it is so uplifting and inspiring - we don't want superheroes, we want a good friend, a partner - someone we can RELY on to always be there.

  5. I loved viewing things from both perspectives, as well as the song. Another one I haven't come across before. I'm expanding my musical horizons every day :). Thank you, I really enjoy a happy ending.

    1. Thank you Lynn - I came across quite a few songs I didn't know as well!

  6. Must add here: lead singer of Coldplay is Chris Martin (although that's not why I chose the name for my 'hero') Chris is a 'local lad' from Exeter - so as a Devonian he is, of course, a hero of mine!

  7. Romance + Devon + Coldplay - thanks for a perfect wake up! Loved the two different perspectives, and I'm all in for a happy ending. Really enjoyed.

    1. It's good to have a happy ending occasionally isn't it!

  8. Until the end I was afraid their respective hesitation might keep them apart (just as you had planned, Helen). Glad it worked out for these two sensible young people. Indeed a sweet story, Helen.

  9. A very affirming story, Helen, and so like normal life. Yet there is that greater thing – being there fore somebody you care about.

    1. Plain, simple - and true to life! Thanks Alison

  10. Absolutely delicious - you've made my day

  11. Thanks for a great story, Helen. Very touching, and a fantastic song that I'd never heard before. I thought it was the song Hero by Enrique Iglesias. This was a much better song.

    1. This is one of my all time favourite songs - down to earth, real life.

  12. Perfect song and a heartwarming story. Lizzie gets it! And gets Martin. Just lovely.

  13. I love this story. Love is not always a lightning strike and birds tweeting around your head. There are not always hearts and roses and grand gestures. Sometimes true love creeps up on you and it is the mundane little things, the normal that is rendered special because of who you are with. You don't feel lovestruck, you just feel comfortable. Lizzie knows this, and Martin will work it out. Fabulous stuff.

  14. Very true. I've known charmers - great at impressions, terrible at reliability. My own personal knight may have slightly rusty armour, but he's always there for me, and that's what makes a hero for me. By the way, that's Iain, I'm talking about, not Giles de Soutenay, lol.


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