Busyness and Baubles.

There are a lot of things about Christmas which can stress us out rather than getting us ready for what should be a relaxing holiday. I’ve noticed this recently as I’m in the midst of deadlines ats the holiday season is hotting up. All around me Christmas is blooming, but it feels like I don’t have time to get involved with the festivities.
There’s also the stress of getting the perfect present and piling on a good selection of food on the day. Even decorations info can be stressful, I know a lot of people who spend ages positioning their baubles and tinsel in the perfect places. 

I think a lot of this is down to the pressure people put on themselves to make Christmas perfect. It’s only one day which comes once a year so we idealise it. The danger is that we put so much emphasis on making this day the epitome of happiness that we can forget to enjoy it. If you tea my blog for MIND last week, then you’ll know that I’m no exception.

When I was younger my mum sent my brothers and I to take our dog for a walk on Christmas Day. I wasn’t happy! Christmas Day was a time when I shouldn’t have to do anything except open presents. But during the walk everyone we saw said hello. My brothers and I had a nice chat and ended up enjoying it. 

What I realised that day is not that walking the dog on Christmas Day is the ideal activity, but that it’s the little things that matter. It’s not that perfectly placed bauble or expensive present that makes Christmas, it’s those memorable little moments that we enjoy with those we love. So take a deep breath and relax – you don’t need to make Chistmas perfect!

Sledging.

Sledging.

This is part 2 of ‘Murder and Mince Pies’, if you need to catch up before reading: click here.

When she was younger, Emmeline Fontane would go sledging on the first day of the Christmas holidays. After her dad died her older brother took her for a couple of years, but once he went to university she was left to watch the snow falling from the warmth of the living room with her mother.One day, she was watching her neighbours skating along the ice with their dad when one of them fell and he cracked his head on the ground. Crimson blood snaked out across the white, claiming territory on the pure ground. A little while later, an ambulance arrived. She never found out what happened to the boy, but she remembers that feeling of helplessness. All she could do was stand and watch and hope…

She feels that now. As her partner takes the note from her hands and reads it in disbelief, she can only stand and watch and hope,  as the evidence condemns her as a suspect on her own crime-scene. It is as though she is watching from outside of her body, unable to move or speak. Her partner makes a call and speaks to their boss, explaining the situation, she still doesn’t move. Life is a game of ‘stuck in the mud’ and no one is tagging her free.

The only reason she’d been working Christmas eve was to make some extra cash to pay for her new furniture. She’d got rid of the old stuff a couple of weeks ago and had been looking forward to eating dinner on a seat that didn’t wobble tonight. That isn’t even the problem though, despite it suddenly seeming important, the problem is that with the money she’ spent on the furniture, there’s no way she can afford bail. Her partner’s face swims into vision, but it’s like she’s looking at him through a kaleidoscope. She squints her eyes and bites her lip, concentrating on the movement of his thin lips as he speaks.

“Em, did you know the victim? I’m sorry, you know I have to ask.” Emmeline fights at the fog that’s clouding her mind and forces her mouth into the shape of a response.

“No.”

“You know what it looks like Em, like blackmail gone wrong. Like someone didn’t want to pay any more and came here to sort things out. Maybe it wasn’t intentional, maybe the meeting went awry. I don’t know, but you need to speak to me now…anything could help but it’s not the time to freeze up.”

“I’ve never seen that face before. I didn’t know her Patrick I swear.”

“And you don’t know anyone who’d want to set you up then? Anybody who holds a grudge for something, might be linked in with this woman somehow?”

“I’m a cop…. there’s plenty of people holding grudges who’d be happy to kill to satisfy them Pat. But I don’t know who they’d be, I can’t even think right now. I’m going home.”

“I’m afraid I can’t let you do that yet. You know the drill. You have to go to the station, I’ll drive you down.”

In the back of Patrick’s car, Emmeline focuses on her breathing for a moment, calming herself enough to think with some semblance of clarity. She needs to find a way out now. She flicks through the crime scene in her mind: blunt object to the back of the head, seductively dressed – date? Missing fingernail and ripped dress – struggle. Broken chair – murder weapon… broken chair.

“Patty, you know this wasn’t me.”

“I do, but they don’t Em. You need to trust us to fix this for you.”

“Someone’s setting me up Patrick and you need to help me right now, ’cause if I go in there I’m not coming back out.”

“What’re you on about…Crap Emmeline, did you actually do it?”

“Of course not! But my DNA may end up on the murder weapon.”

Patrick pulls the car over at the side of the road in a manner which would have failed him his driving test. The brakes squeal in protest as he yanks on the handbrake and turns around to face her.

“What the hell Emmeline?”

I’m online with MIND.

I’m online with MIND.

When I was accepted to write a blog for MIND I was ecstatic. A blog with them will reach more people and that’s my aim – to share encouragement with as many people as possible. On top of that, it came with the reassurance that I can write, and I can do it well! So rather than writing a separate post today, I’m going to share the blog I wrote for MIND with you all. Enjoy!

MY CHRISTMAS WITH BPD

Late Call.

Late Call.

“No mum, I won’t forget the Christmas Pudding… yes I have the recipe, I make it every year!” Emmeline rolls her eyes from the safety of her end of the phone as her mother relays the recipe anyway. “No mum I haven’t forgotten about Grampy’s nut allergy, I’m making him a mini-pud all to himself…of course without any nuts, I’m not about to murder an 83 year old man!” She shakes her head and stifles a giggle as her mother rants about the importance of not letting Gramp’s pud come into contact with any nuts.

After another ten minutes and three ‘goodbye’s, Emmeline finally hangs up and drops the phone on the sofa beside her. A stunted Christmas tree sits in the corner, decorated scantily with a draping of white fairy lights and a few silver baubles. Silver has always been her Christmas colour, for her mum it was always red, but silver reminds her of the snow that has long since stopped falling. She remembers when she was a kid and snow was everywhere, her dad used to dig them a path out of the house and take them sledging in the holidays. When she looks outside now, all she sees is rain falling steadily from the sky and coating everything in its dreary greyness.

She pops open a bottle of beer and grabs a parcel from the kitchen side, sliding a knife under the sellotape to open it without ripping the paper. A note falls onto the side. She pulls a cardboard box from the package and puts her ear to it before prising it open. Inside is a tiny bauble decoupaged with pictures of her family.She places it on the black marble surface and picks up the note. It’s written on one of those ‘Letter to Santa’ notecards she’s seen her niece with around Christmas, in a sloping green ink. But where her niece would have written a list of all the gifts she’d like, this note simply says: Merry Christmas. Ho. Ho. Ho.

She is startled by the blaring chime of her phone ringing and slides it right to answer.

“Fontane…Five minutes”

Four minutes and thirty-two seconds later, she arrives at a little flat on Fawley Place. The blinking blue lights of police cars cast beams of danger into the night sky, and a few police-men are cordoning off the area. Her partner approaches, handing her a file and directing her inside.

“The victim’s Rosie Clifford, 27 years old, worked for the beauty salon down the road…Belladonna, know it? Anyway, her friend Leo found her ten minutes ago, they were supposed to be going on a night out and he’d come to pick her up. He’s dressed to the nines and she was too, so it looks like that checks out. They reckon she died within the last couple of hours, cause was a blow to the back of the head… blunt object. Possibly this chair leg seeing as it’s covered in blood. Nice, take that to evidence will you, dust it for prints. What’re you thinking?”

He’d been gesturing around the room to various items and people, as well as the seductively dressed corpse on the floor; but now he stops and looks at Emmeline directly. She absorbs the scene, the chair he’d mentioned is broken, deformed and balancing precariously on three legs. There’d been a struggle.  She bends down and looks closely at the body. Her hair had been curled before it had matted with the blood and what had clearly been some sort of fight. Nine manicured acrylic nails sit undamaged on her dainty fingers, but her left thumbnail is absent. One shoulder is torn off from the dress.

“Any sign of break in?”

“No, so she probably knew her…”

“Detective Fontane” The kid who’d taken the chair’s missing limb off to evidence returns holding an envelope. His hand shakes a little as he holds it out to Emmeline. “This is addressed to you.” She slips on a silicon glove from her pocket and takes the envelope, sliding a finger beneath the seal to open it without tearing the evidence. It is a plain piece of notepaper with a single line of black typed font in the centre.

EMMELINE FONTANE.

I KNOW WHAT YOU’VE DONE AND THERE’S NO GOING BACK. I WILL GET YOU FOR THIS.