OFF AIR by Genève Blue
Notice of Copyright consists of these parts: Copyright 2014 by Genève Blue
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Paperback edition printed by Lulu.com ISBN 978-1-312-40066-5
Text copyright 2014 by Genève Blue
Cover design is © Catherine M. Harris
This book is a labour of love. And by that I mean that it was conceived in competition – Nanowrimo – and laboured over for two Nanowrimo competitions. It wasn’t an easy birthing for it took about five years in total to write and edit. Normally it doesn’t take me that long to write anything but this one wasn’t finished in the first Nanowrimo competition and I fully intended to finish it but life got in the way. The story itself haunted me though, so the bulk of it was finished in another Nanowrimo and from there it lay waiting. It waited while another novel got finished editing and published, and while a book of poetry underwent the same fate; I even did artwork, book formatting and publishing of someone’s essays to fulfill a promise I had made several years ago.
There’s something about this story that just won’t let me go – and so here it is, in its final format so it can haunt you too. I hope also to do at least one other novel in a series from this book as there other characters I want to delve into. Perhaps another Nano, or if by some trick of fate fortune smiles my way and I no longer work full time then it will be one of my very first projects.
I do hope you enjoy this as much as I do; as a writer I am critical of my work and most times it loses a lot of the magic in the details of grammar and format however this one after the umpteenth time of reading still captures me. And there we have it.
Now for the acknowledgement part:
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this book, and if you purchased it, for spending your hard earned money on it.
Thank you to my family for putting up with and even occasionally understanding my deep desire to write these stories that lurk inside my head. In this realm falls my children Ben and Erin who are rapidly turning into adults before my eyes, and to my partner Jim Wellington whose name I’m putting out here because he needs to do what I’m doing and get his work in print – the world is missing out on your wonderful stories Jim!
A special thank you to my mother who has always been there for me, even if sometimes what I do is a little hard to fathom. This unwavering acceptance has been a guiding force for me and one I emulate, for better or for worse, in my life with my own inner circle.
And a thank you to Jassper the big black puppy-horse Lab for reminding me it’s time to get up and walk and pet the dog, and to Domino and Moe for being the wonderful cats that they are. A little purr and kneading does a soul a world of good.
"What would you do if you had only twelve hours to live and you knew it?" Emma's heard her daughter's friend say through the bedroom wall. Emma wanted to stick around and hear the answer, but that would be snooping and quite frankly she wasn't sure she wanted to hear what Olivia said. At fourteen, she could say anything at all.
Emma finished putting away the last of the laundry and poured herself a glass of wine, feet up on the living room table as she began to write in her journal. Not the best of ways to spend a Friday night, what with laundry and giggling teenagers upstairs, but what else was there to do? Husband was long gone, off to greener pastures she hoped, and there wasn't too much of a glimmer of hope for somebody new just banging on the door right now.
She wrote down the date and began with the weather. She put "friggin cold" and left it at that. "It is November now, of course it's friggin cold!" she could hear her long gone great aunt's voice saying to her. Yes, some things don't change. She wondered if there would ever be a time that somebody would sit down many years after she was literally dust in the wind and think of something she said. Ah, probably not. She thought she always projected a rather beige persona, not something that attracted swarms of people in droves.
On to other words. All she could think of was the twelve hours to live thing. Certainly what would she do if she had twelve hours to live? It wouldn't be laundry, that's for sure. Wine, maybe. In her more silly and desperate moods she had wondered what would happen if she were to strip naked and run into the middle of the street screaming, "Somebody take me!" or, words to that effect. Probably nothing, she guessed, except maybe a phone call to the police or 911 or something like that. There goes nutso Emma, finally gone all the way off her rocker.
Yup. So after her glass of wine she would call everyone she ever knew and ever thought of at any given time. The nasty ones whose names she had hoped would vanish forever from her mind but never did (was this because she could never forgive them?) - she always had the suspicion that were she to call any one of the nasty ones who had so hurt her in the past it was very likely they wouldn't even remember her. Oh, and the people she had let slip away. What would be a good name for those people she wondered? The scatterlings? Like the song maybe? Not bad. She would take a few minutes on the internet and check the online phone book for scatterlings - she may not find anybody, but you never know.
And what about the people who had walked away from her? Who are they? Would they even care if she only had twelve hours? Probably not. And for that reason, it may just give her a little bit of pleasure hunting them down and saying whatever came to mind as they picked up the phone. She laughed. That actually seemed like fun. Something to consider. Someday.
Of course there would be relatives to call and those she'd probably leave to last because quite frankly there were quite a few she simply wasn't interested in talking to. She would be only too happy to haunt the funeral parlour after she was gone and listen in then, but just before...nah.
Twelve hours isn't enough time. Not at all. There would be time for a run down a ski hill since there is a ski hill nearby (and that's assuming she had the money in the bank to do whatever she pleased for that length of time). So rule number 1: there would be money in the bank whenever she has only 12 hours left to live. That means mortgage money, or bill money or grocery money or who knows what - it would be used for fun.
A spa. Hmmm. Might be fun but what is the point of smelling nice and feeling relaxed if you are going to be dead anyway? Write a book? Not enough time. Not even for a bad one. A poem? Well sure. A will? Yes, that would be a good idea. A painting? Possibly.
But then she'd have to eat. It goes without saying that she would be going to a restaurant. Should she be like Bacchus and eat until she is full and then puke it all up and start over again? That's an idea. That way she could have everything.
She'd have to write out what she wanted for her funeral. She didn't want to be cremated and certainly not in her ratty jeans or something crappy like that. She knew her family though, and she guessed that's where she would end up, nobody wanting to take responsibility except for the responsibility peons who she really didn't like to be around because how dare anyone assume they know what is best for her, even when she's dead.
But then she would be dead, wouldn't she? She wouldn't feel anything. She'd just be...
At 38, Emma knew one thing for certain, that every one and everything she counted on really weren't meant to be counted on at all. It was far better to understand that her world and all there was in it, really just meant anything at all to her, and continue on in her own way.
She had almost, but not quite, given up on trying to be the woman all men desire. In her heart she understood that there was no way, short of some pretty extensive surgery and a height improvement and then of course whoever fell for that wouldn't be falling for her at all, they would be falling for silicone. Nicely moulded silicone. But silicone none-the-less.
At times she caught herself slightly envious of her daughter and the wonderful firm no-thought body an even marginally athletic teenage girl has. She didn't envy her the teenage angst though. Emma loathed being a teenager. It truly was awful, the mood swings, the backstabbing, the lies and strutting and just general nonsense.
Okay, so the girls upstairs were now watching something loud and musical on TV, and she was on her second glass of wine. Probably not good to do that, but then it wasn't as if the world were about to end anytime soon and she would be driving them somewhere urgently. On second thought...
She should probably cool it. She never drank more than a glass or so at one sitting usually and it just wouldn't do to have one of the girls do something stupid and she couldn't deal with it because of the wine.
She got as far as writing how her day went and the bit about the twelve hours in her journal when she corked the wine bottle, put it back in the fridge, and turned on the news.
The talking heads were a bit frantic this evening. There were a lot of "this just in’s” and "back to you Lloyd"s but since she came in in the middle of the news she still had no idea of what was happening. For some odd reason there was no photos or videos of awful things exploding or mangled bodies draped over rocks or headless people, no it was just the newscasters talking talking talking and it seemed she didn't understand a word of it.
She was tempted to call the girls down and see what they made of it all, but what it was was like the day planes were falling from the sky and slamming into buildings. Not good for man or beast to watch those images over and over again. It warps the mind. Words have the same effect. She needed to find out exactly what in the name of god these newscasters were so worried about.
Ten minutes later, no commercials and still, no answers. She'd had enough. She called up to the girls, "come see this" and they thumped down the stairs seriously annoyed at being interrupted. Emma asked them to explain what they thought was happening on TV.
Charming daughter answered, "It's a tampon commercial mom. Get a grip." But it wasn't. It was some blonde newscaster who called herself a guy's name with an y on the end to make it sound feminine going on about some set of numbers or something so she asked Alexia, daughter's friend what she thought they meant by "the median rate of decomposition being 43" meant. She gave daughter an alarmed look and Olivia told Emma to have another glass of wine and laughed that nasty teenage girl snarl-laugh she hated so much.
"Fine", Emma told them. "What's on now?"
A beer commercial.
She apologized for interrupting them and Olivia whispered in her ear, "Mom, if you do this again I'm going to dad's. I mean it. I mean, like, Alexia is never gonna be able to come here again if you keep saying shit like this."
Emma face drained of blood as she watched her totally angry daughter stomp up the stairs. This was bad, very bad. She wasn't drunk, and she wasn't watching any damned beer commercial or tampon commercial either. It was two very scared now newscasters clinging to each other and looking panicked into an almost imperceptibly shaking camera lens. This wasn't good at all and she still had absolutely no idea what in the hell was going on out there.
Switching the channels was more of the same, and the music upstairs became thumpier and louder. At that moment Emma was eternally grateful she didn't have to get a townhouse in this particular residential incarnation.
And she said the hell with it, dug out a very old and dry package of cigarettes, lit one, and poured herself a glass of wine.The smoke burned like all hell, but the rush after five years more than made up for the pain in her lungs.