Chapter 3

Written by: Donna McTavish

Betina held out the bottle.

“Here,” she mumbled, focussing her gummy eyes on Stella.

Stella shook her head and twisted the button on her jacket with her fingers. The world held its breath and the silence wrapped around the tiny patch of dirt that was Betina’s home until Stella thought it would strangle her. She tried to speak, wanted to and knew she needed to, but there was nothing. The words she needed marched in a shiny organised line in her mind’s eye but when she summoned them they broke rank and turned ugly and jumbled. They were taunting her and her mouth was sour with the fear of it.

“I can’t. I’m sorry.” These renegade words squeezed between her lips and fell with a force that made Betina wince. This one was really screwed up, she thought.

“I can’t do it. I can’t,” and Stella turned away and began to run. The wind chased her footsteps and mingled them with the sounds from the bridge. Betina took another swig and pulled the blanket over her head.

Stella ran along the path leading away from the bridge and impulsively turned away from the road that would take her back to her apartment. The fear that had gripped her let go and in its place an urgent pulsing energy filled her limbs and propelled her forward. Cold air scoured her lungs and she was flying, her feet hardly touching the ground and as she ran, every cell in her body pulsed in celebration of being alive.

The path led her through a park and she slowed her pace as she approached a playground. Children were running and climbing and shrieking while their parents stood hovering on the periphery. She stood for a moment catching her breath and then she saw him.

The little boy turned and shouted, “ Look daddy, look at me!” and Stella froze. This wasn't possible, yet there he was. Blond hair that needed a haircut, the sweatshirt that Greg had brought back from Disneyland and two chubby knees red from playing.

Her body started to move towards him, responding instinctively to his call. She was almost close enough when he ran past and was scooped up into a pair of strong arms and twirled high in the air. The man had been watching Stella. Their eyes met briefly before he swung the breathless boy one more time. Stella fell on her knees and started to shake.

When she returned to her apartment, there was an envelope lying on the floor in the hall. She stared at it not quite knowing what to do, her fingers reached for the button of her jacket. She recognised the ridiculousness of being frightened by an envelope, even found it amusing, but she was. No one was supposed to know she was here.

She picked it up and laid it on the table. The paper was thick and in the corner, in embossed letters decorated with elaborate curlicues, was written, “The Ambassador Hotel”.

 

Comments

Donna, this is a fantastic chapter. Building on the storyline and adding suspense all at the same time. Very well done.
Thank you Sumanda. It was fun to write. I'm looking forward to what happens next!
Donna, you have done it again! Your words paint such vivid pictures - no sentence is wasted. I especially loved how the wind chased her footsteps, mingling them with the sounds from the bridge. Impressive. Thank you.
What wonderful writing, Donna. So much emotion and the added suspense was great. Loved it!
Nicely increasing all the elements in a good story at a steady pace so that one is drawn into the story so much it is annoying to come to the end. Yet another writer who should be seriously thinking of writing a complete serial on her own. A terrific chapter
And now a new element introduced following the vivid description to thinking she saw Greg and her son....but they straight past her as if they did not see her...an hallucination? Or mistaken identity? And then the envelope? I must read on!
Loved this: he tried to speak, wanted to and knew she needed to, but there was nothing. The words she needed marched in a shiny organised line in her mind’s eye but when she summoned them they broke rank and turned ugly and jumbled.
"The words she needed marched in a shiny organised line in her mind’s eye but when she summoned them they broke rank and turned ugly and jumbled". Great Chapter Donna!!!
Also loved the suspense element introduced towards the end.