Sunday 31 March 2013

A Table Set For Crows

Gliding along
With his companions the moon and the stars
Unnoticed and undisturbed he assends
To his place, his heaven, his eden

His corse cry peirces the nights cold, frigid air

Splitting the skies, standing the hair 

The crow disappears and there is no clue that he was ever there

~ The Crow by Corrosivepoet


Oh, it's such a perfect day

I'm glad I spent it with you

Oh, such a perfect day

You just keep me hanging on

You just keep me hanging on


~ Perfect Day by Lou Reed

Crow (by SatuL

Six of One

Friday night at The Premier.

A swanky five star restaurant in an uncompromisingly expensive part of town.

It's busy this evening.

Smartly dressed men sit with smartly dressed women - chatting animatedly.

It is a veritable 'who's who' of the upwardly mobile rich set.

One woman fingers her pearls and picks at her food as she observes an urbane young man proposing to his companion.

The lady in question pauses before - rather unconvincingly - agreeing to be his wife.

Dollar signs are no doubt flashing before her eyes.

Another man smiles at his wife as he pours her some more wine. Then he quickly, anxiously checks his watch - his mistress is waiting for him in her apartment two blocks away.

A thin woman carefully spoons food into a small handkerchief  before shoving it into her Lulu Guinness hand bag.  She delightedly imagines the look on her poodles face as she presents her with her expensive scraps.

A elegantly dressed musician wearing a jaunty flat cap, sits unobtrusively at a piano and plays Best That You Can Do from Arthur.

He is secretly keeping an eye on all the activity around him. As a struggling musician he finds the lives of the pampered rich rather intriguing.

Annabelle Devereux is sitting with her daughter Cassandra.

They are among the exclusive rich set of New Acres.

But that does not necessarily equate to personal happiness.

They have just returned from a brief sojourn in Paris in which they attended the Paris Opera House.

The sullen silence suggests it was not a mitigated success.

Now both women are looking intently at their menu's as a smartly dressed waiter stands patiently beside them.

They are consummate professionals at the pretend.

"I'd like The Premier steak - medium rare - with Russian sauce, roast potato's and a salad please" Cassandra Devereaux finally declares as she hands her menu to the waiter.

"Darling" Her mother says,  leaning close to her daughter as she lowers her voice, "Do you really think you should be eating all that?"

"Because I'm fat, momma dearest?" Cassandra replies sarcastically.

"Oh darling please ..." Annabelle manages a little laugh "I'll have the Caesar Salad please"

"Would madam and mademoiselle like a drink?" The polite waiter enquires in a soft French accent.

"A glass of your finest red wine" Annabelle Devereaux answers him, snapping the menu shut "My daughter will be having mineral water tonight"

Cassandra shoots her mother a dagger look.

The waiter disappears.

Annabelle Devereaux nods graciously at a man who has smiled at her and doffed his hat.

Mother and daughter sit glaring at each other.

ballet mannequins (by babsi79
Silent enemies locked in a battle of wills.

"Why can't you be a nice girl?" Annabelle finally suggests,  shaking her head.

It is getting rather tiresome.

She pulls out a little Estee Lauder compact from her Prada hand bag and takes a look at her reflection before effortlessly powdering her face.

"Like Sara Beth?" Cassandra responds quickly "I think she got knocked up with the baseball coaches kid as I recall"

"Oh really Cassie  - do behave!" Annabelle shoots back snapping her compact shut and flinging it into her hand bag.

Did her daughter have to be so uncouth?

Annabelle suddenly feels very embarrassed.

Cassandra sits staring dolefully at her impeccably dressed and coiffured mother.

Tonight she is wearing a duck egg blue Oscar de la Renta suit with hair by Ari Michael and make up by Estee Lauder.

Cassandra's mind flashes back several hours ago.

Palanade Grove

A huge old colonial house in a strip full of millionaire mansions and palatial residences.

Cassandra enters the huge living room in her big Valentino jumper and Vera Wang wool coat.

Anabelle is on the phone to her friend. She suddenly does a double take when she sees her daughter

"I'll call you back Cynthia" Annabelle exclaims, quickly putting down the phone.

Her heart sinks as she eyes Cassandra up and down.

"Ready mother?" Cassandra asks - beaming.

"Darling, you aren't going to wear all that are you?" Annabelle finally asks, unable to hide the disdain in her voice.

"Why?" Cassandra cries as her annoyance mounts "What's wrong with it?"

Cassandra takes her daughters hands and brings her closer to her until she is sitting beside her on the expensive white leather sofa.

"Listen my dear"  Annabelle begins, cupping Cassandra's face in her hands. "you know your mother loves you very much ..."

"Mother, I am nineteen not nine years old" Cassandra snarls -  pushing her mothers hands away "I am an adult and not a child so don't patronize me!"

"And you actually look like you're nearly nineteen stone too!" Anabelle explodes, "For goodness sake Cassie - you look terrible're fat and flabby!"

A moment passes as the two women stare at each other - ready to go in for the kill.

Cassandra's feelings are hurt.

But Annabelle is unrepentant.

Cassandra pulls out her trump card.

"No wonder dad couldn't stand you and left you!" Cassandra sneers "You're horrible ... you're just a nasty bitch"

"I will not be spoken to like that young lady!" Annabelle responds furiously as her eyes narrow to menacing little slits "Your father has nothing to with this! This is about your weight issues missy"

"I wish he was here!" Cassandra wails, springing to her feet "He'd never speak to me like that! I hate you"

"Your father has no backbone" Annabelle answers matter-of-factually "He was such a weak man ... and then he started canoodling with that tramp ... "

"You drove him to it!" Cassandra exclaims fiercely " My father is a good man!"

"Good at getting into trouble!" Annabelle declares "Now listen here ...your father was a gambler..a hustler ... sure he was rich ... but I had to do everything myself ... your dad is a little rich brat like you!"

Cassandra sits back down on the sofa - arms folded.

Several moments pass by.

Mother and daughter stare at Judge Judy on the TV screen.

"How undignified ... being sentenced on live TV" Annabelle remarks on the TV show. Both start laughing.

"At least wear your nice Chloe jumper ... it will be ... kinder" Annabelle finally says.

Now Cassandra sits in the restaurant staring resentfully at her mother with her helmet hair and Estee Lauder red lips.

Annabelle is trying to avoid making eye contact with Cassandra.

Mother would never put anything else but La Prairie on her face ... if it's not expensive ... it's no good ... she'd rather starve then eat anything from a hypermarket ... she's the classic rich bitch ... too posh to push ... bet she's frigid as well ...

"Honey, you know I would never do anything to hurt you" Annabelle begins - taking her glass of wine from the waiters little silver serving tray.

Cassandra takes her fizzy water and drinks it down with one gulp.

Annabelle can barely conceal her dismay at her daughters lack of manners.

But the older woman fixes a benevolent look on her face and continues anyway.

Dear ... dear Cassie ... there really is no accounting for taste ... or class ... she get's all that from her father's side of course ... he was good looking .... but not a gentleman .... mamma was right all along ....

"But you are rather on the ... fat side.." Annabelle says carefully.

Cassandra sits on the edge of her seat waiting for the punch line.

She grits her teeth and makes tight little fists beneath the table.

"And you'll never find yourself a nice boy if you look like that" Annabelle finally finishes.


The food arrives.

The waiter carefully puts the food on the table with the waitress.

"What you mean is ..." Cassandra replies loudly. "I won't bag myself a nice little rich boy like you did!

The waiter and waitress look at each other quickly  - then exit.

The man on the piano looks in Annabelle and Cassandra's direction - his ears expertly pricked to their discord.

"Can you please keep your voice down" Annabelle exclaims - her voice lowering to a sneer "People are actually looking at us"

"Oh let them look at the poor fat rich girl!" Cassandra rages raising her voice even more "Maybe I should do a striptease as well!"

"Cassie are making a fool out of yourself ..and you are embarrassing me in front of all these strangers" Annabelle seethes." I don't think I can take you anywhere anymore"

"Oh do shut up mother!"  Cassandra shouts back  "With your overweening pride .. your fake nice real as your fake tits!"

"That is enough!" Annabelle cries - jumping out of her seat "I will not sit here and have you disrespect me like this!"

Several diners have turned to stare at Annabelle and her daughter.

At least one small family in the corner by the doors are commenting on the drama

Cassandra grabs her fork digging it into the steak and then cramming as much of the meat into her mouth as she can.

To Annabelle's horror, Cassandra continues to ram the meat feverishly into her mouth.

Then the young woman moves on the roast potato's.

I am a mannequin .. (by zeit204
Several other diners are avidly watching the spectacle before them and commenting on it.

Whilst during all the commotion, the adulterous male slips out to meet his impatient mistress.

The man at the piano is now merrily playing Sinatra's My Way.

Cassandra continues to shovel the food in with abandon.

The waiter approaches Annabelle Devereux.

She is still standing there - frozen to the spot.

Her mouth hanging wide open.

"Would madam like the bill now?" The waiter finally asks.

Conscience Pays To Guilt

Jack Hawkins had been sitting in traffic for half an hour.

There were cars everywhere. Bumper to bumper and Jack had too much time on his hands.

Time enough to consider how he was going to end his three year relationship with Cara, because he was in love with another woman.

Cara's mother - Melissa.

Melissa.  Sophisticated.  Smart.  Sexy.  Experienced.

Cara.  Innocent.  Kind.  Trusting.  Safe.

Jack's mind flashed back to the night before - he and Melissa in bed.

"Don't you ever feel guilty?" Melissa asked, as they both stared at the ceiling.

"Never" Jack lied.

"She's my daughter Jack" Melissa finally said - her voice full of emotion "But I deserve to be happy too"

Jack turned to look at Melissa - tears were falling down her face.

But he was too busy trying to hide the guilty expression on his face.

As soon as Melissa had introduced herself to Jack -  he knew she was the one.

Three years of lies and carrying on were to follow.

Now the charade was getting too much to handle.

They would come clean.

Then leave.

Back in the present - Jack felt like his head was going to explode.

A Police squad car meandered through the maze of cars.

Jack sniggers.

"Great - the pigs are here!" He snarled - shaking his head.

He quickly put his head out of the window but could see nothing but cars.

They were like giant ants.

Reluctantly he settled back into his seat and screwed his eyes shut.

"Come on!" Jack shouted -  hitting the steering wheel in a rage.

The man in the car in front turned around and shrugged - shooting Jack an apologetic smile.

Jack sat back. Helpless. Hopeless.

A small crowd seemed to gathering in the near distance - like the dark cloud that was hovering over Jack's mind.

Still obsessed with how he was going to break up with Cara.

The suspense was killing him.

He popped another piece of gum in his mouth.

He squinted as the sun shone its final burst of light as it faded beneath the mounting clouds.

He hit the wheel with his hand again.

Outside - several drivers had climbed out of their cars and Jack buzzed down his window.

"What's going on?" Jack shouted

One of the drivers who made their way to the front of the group came back with a face as white as a sheet.

"Accident, mate" He shuddered "Stay in your car"

Jack sniggered. Thirty minutes he'd been sitting in this car. He was sore, conflicted and angry. Now he was hungry.

"Screw that!" He snarled jumping out of his car.

He pushed people out of the way as he made his way to the front of the car.

Somebody in front of him suddenly doubled up, retching into their hand.

The scene of carnage burned its way into Jacks brain.

Two cars had collided head on.

Both so smashed up that they looked mashed together.

There was glass and pieces of twisted metal everywhere.

And blood.

There was blood everywhere.

A crushed hand hung pathetically out of the smoking carcass of one of the cars.

A cell phone strewn on the ground began lighting up and ringing as Jack's eyes followed a stream of blood to the other mangled car.

A body lay twisted and broken where it had been flung out of the windscreen on impact.

The familiar mane of blonde hair was now streaked with blood and glass.

The corpse looked just like a rag doll, that had been flung aside by a petulant child.

Vomit rose in Jack's throat.

He saw an image of  Melissa's face smiling at him and suddenly everything began swirling in his head ...

Melissa tossing her blonde head back as she sat beside him in the speedboat on holiday in Italy ...

Melissa's blonde hair across his chest as they lay in bed ...

Melissa ...  Melissa ...  Melissa ...

It would take Jack time to come to terms with the fact that it was Melissa's dead body lying crushed in that wreckage.

Even after several weeks of heavy sedation.

But it would take Jack even longer to learn to live with Cara and the gnawing guilt he felt every time he looked into her face.

And the smell of death and diesel on the road to hell.

Smell The Coffee

December in the city.

Sam Carroll was sitting in a cafe with Lisa Baker.

They were sitting in a secluded corner by a fake spider plant.

Sam was sipping coffee and looking intently at Lisa who was smiling anxiously and playing with her hair - which is what she did when she was nervous.

Chava Cafe (by jonniedee
They talked about college.

They talked about life.

They talked through each other.

Lisa Baker had known Sam Carroll for a year now since he had joined her media class.

She liked him.

He was different.

She felt drawn to him but she didn't really know why.

He always seemed like a loner.

No real history.

She thought it might be her duty to save him.

There seemed to be a growing accord between them.

Lisa Baker found this mysterious boy intriguing.

"The reason ...  I asked you here is  ... because well ... its because ... " Sam stuttered self consciously.

He had been planning what to say for days.

But now his courage was all but deserting him.

Carroll fumbled in his pocket for the little box.

The little velvet box contained the modest diamond ring he had bought for Lisa Baker.

Now she was looking at him with those concerned eyes.

Those vivid green eyes.

And Sam Carroll was falling apart inside.

"What's wrong Sam?" Lisa whispered "You seem really agitated"

She put a hand on Sam's hand and he shivered.

His eyes looked hungrily at her hand and then he looked up into Lisa's green eyes.

Sam Carroll tried to speak but no sound would come out.

Suddenly a reflex action sent the little box flying across the room.

The couple who were sitting in front of Sam and Lisa looked at the box on the floor and laughed loudly.

Finally Sam spoke..

"You know" he said slowly "You must know what I'm trying to say ..."

"Sam, you're scaring me!" Lisa replied, totally bemused by his words "I don't know what you're referring to!"

"Stop pretending!" Sam urged "You know what I'm trying to say"

A couple sitting at a table opposite them were looking at Sam and Lisa and whispering to each other.

Lisa quickly withdrew her hand.

"Stop this Sam" Lisa said as steadily as she could "I don't know what you're talking about and I don't like this.."

Lisa got up to leave,  but Sam grabbed her hand.

"All this time we've been meeting  ... looking at each other ... sharing your thoughts with me ... making me feel like we have something ... and then ...  then you play this cold bitch ... leading me on  ... letting me down ... but deep down I know you love me ... I know  ... you see ... I know goddamn everything  ..."

Lisa Baker was mortified and was now shaking with shock.

Several difficult moments passed between the couple.

Sam Carroll sat glaring at Lisa Baker.

Whilst she struggled to process the bombshell that he just dropped on her.

Nobody said a word.

When Lisa Baker finally spoke, her broken voice was barely audible.

"I felt sorry for you  ... that's why  ... I'm sorry if you thought we were more than friends ... but I never intended to hurt you ... I - I thought we were friends ... that's all Sam ... I am so ... so sorry ..."

Carroll stared back blankly at Baker.

Tears were streaming down his face now.

Lisa Baker suddenly felt horribly guilty.

"You bitch!" Carroll finally snarled "You're all the same ... stringing guys along ... then dumping them!"

"I'm so Sorry" Lisa replied shakily "I have to go now ... I have to go ...  I'm sorry ... I have to!"

She grabbed her coat,  jumped out of her chair and stumbled out of the cafe.

Standing outside in the pouring rain Lisa Baker burst into tears.

Back in the cafe Sam was staring down at his hands.

He felt empty now.

Sam Carroll slowly looked up to find the couple opposite him still looking and whispering to each other.

The woman suddenly giggled.

"What the hell are you staring at you  freaks?!" Sam shouted ferociously at them.

He lurched over to their table and grabbed a fork from the terrified man's hand.

Several people in the cafe turned to look at Sam as he stood towering over the cowering couple at their table.

Slowly the busy cafe became silent.

Then when he was completely sure that everyone's eyes were upon him - Sam Carroll dug the fork as deeply into his wrist as he could.

And The Road To Hell (by PreciousNothin


Sunday 10 March 2013

Snakes In The Grass And Other Reptiles

Tell fortune of her blindness;
Tell nature of decay:
Tell friendship of unkindness;
Tell justice of delay:
And if they reply'
Then give them all the lie.

~ The Lie by Walter Raleigh

Every day and night I pray
Pray that you will stay away forever

~ Between a Man and a Woman by Kate Bush

Broken (by cookiemonstah

Where Angels Fear To Tread

Hannah Rosen and Luke Mendel.

They had been friends since childhood.

Life had taken them in different directions. But just lately they had rekindled their friendship and everything was just fine.

At least on the surface.

Hannah Rosen was plump and attractive but she wasn't exactly the brightest star in the sky.

Nevertheless,  she was a kind hearted young woman with a likeable personality.

But just recently she had been having a string of bad luck - mostly with men.

The object of her wrath was her feckless ex-husband Aaron.

In fact she spent a good deal of her time bemoaning her failed marriage to him and how she believed that she would never find the perfect Jewish husband to look after her and her little daughter Rachel.

Aaron made sure Rachel was well provided for.

But it was never enough.

Hannah also actively blamed her interfering ex-mother in law Sandra for ruining her marriage.

So she ate up all her emotions and blamed the weight gain on Sandra as well.

Hannah came from a small Jewish family in North London.

Her mother Lilian, father Daniel and older sister Judith and their little dry cleaning business.

It was Challah bread and Hanukkah with the Rosen family and they were judiciously observant.

And Hannah ate Kosher.

Unless however,  she was at a Toby carvery or an "eat all you like" buffet. Hannah Rosen needed no encouragement to eat all she liked.

And she also had a taste for the finer things of life too. A little Cartier trinket - or two - was just fine by her.

"Judith got the looks but Hannah got the character!" Her mother Lillian remarked insensitively one day at a family gathering causing Hannah to cringe and duck for cover.

Hannah's sister had been happily married and settled for years.

This was something that made Hannah secretly feel like a failure.

Of Judith's personal achievements -  Hannah was all too painfully aware.

Hannah Rosen had some bad habits too.

One of her bad habits was to believe that the world revolved around her. If Hannah wasn't happy - nobody else was allowed to be either.

Another bad habit was to blame everybody else but herself for her troubles - it was never her fault.

Hannah was also a "talker".

Whatever it was,  Hannah Rosen felt the need to broadcast it to the universe. Nothing could remain a secret for long.

Hannah also expected the worst in other people and actively sought it as well. She had something to say about everything and she had an opinion about everything.

She frequently off loaded her mishaps onto her girlfriends and family.

A phone was forever clamped to her ear as she vociferously expressed her dissatisfaction with outrageous fortune to the unfortunate on the other end of the line.

Poor Hannah - always the victim.

It was always somebody else's fault.

Hannah had very low self esteem and didn't trust people.

If people were nice to her,  Hannah was suspicious.

If people were horrible to her,  Hannah took it as a sign that she'd been right all along. And she was unfortunately the ultimate mistress of self sabotage.

Everybody was out to get poor little Hannah Rosen and nothing ever worked out right for her.

Luke Mendel was the complete opposite to Hannah in just about every single way.

Tall and good looking. Mendel was also rather shy and introverted and never spoke unless he really had too.

Relationships were difficult for him but he was devotedly loyal to his friends and would do anything for them.

Bought up in a tight little family in Surrey with his atheist scientist father Edward who was mild and retiring and his orthodox Canadian mother Marlene who was both formidable and implacable - Luke never really found his voice.

Marlene's word was law and because Luke had brains, he soon became the apple of her eye. He got a first from Oxford University and settled into a career as a marine biologist.

He remained resolutely unmarried causing consternation to his match maker mother who wanted grandchildren.

Luke Mendel also had some bad habits.

One of them was calling people's negative character traits something else.

He made excuses for people all the time. He was afraid to assert himself when something was wrong. In effect Luke allowed others to abuse his good intentions. He was afraid to hurt other peoples feelings even if it was detrimental to himself.

Mendel hated drama and confrontation and his non-committal attitude to life soon spilled over into his private life.

People found Luke remote and closed off.

He was always just beyond their grasp.

Instantly likable but maddeningly unattainable - Luke Mendel proceeded to break hearts without even realising it.

Hannah's family secretly harboured the wish that Hannah and Luke would get together some day and settle down.

And have five children.

They were 100% convinced that Luke and Hannah were the perfect match. But Luke's mother had other ideas. She thought her son deserved much better.

"Are you going to see her again?" Luke's mother Marlene exclaimed - barely concealing her disapproval and contempt.

"Any objections mother?" Luke replied getting up from the table

"You're leaving Friday night dinner to run after her?" Marlene retorted angrily.

"She needs me" Luke replied pulling his jacket on.

"Say something Edward!" Marlene shouted with righteous indignation "Don't just sit there like a dough ball whilst your son runs off with that schiksa!"

"What do you want me to do?" Luke's father finally answered "Tape the boy to the chair?"

"She isn't a schiksa mother" Luke called out before shutting the door behind him.

"She's a schiksa and a tramp!" Marlene exclaimed furiously "Like hell is she coming to my house for Friday night dinner"

Edward shook his head.

Hannah's father and mother had very high expectations for the studious young Luke.

Thankfully, Luke was secretly bi-sexual and keeping his horizon's open (!) Something told Luke however, that he needed to make some changes.

It was the first time that they had spent the whole day together since they had met up again.

Hannah Rosen was expecting to be swept off her feet.

She was anticipating a momentous time - as did her mother who called her several times throughout the day for highlights.

To this end - she spent hours agonising over what to wear.

Hannah eventually showed up wrapped in a faux fur coat and Versace boots - every finger had a gold ring on it.

When she opened her coat,  she was a wearing a pink cashmere sweater with a plunging neckline that left little the imagination..

Luke winced at the sight of Hannah Rosen's nipples standing to attention.

They drove to London - with Hannah chattering all the way - for a spot of retail therapy.

But things were going to change because - you see - Hannah wasn't being completely honest with Luke Mendel.

She secretly held a torch for him.

She believed that he was the perfect man for her - and he was Jewish.


It was only a matter of time ...

Luke Mendel was her knight in shining armour and he was coming to rescue her from a life of drudgery and servitude.

In her minds-eye, she pictured herself and Luke retiring to the country with their big family.

A house with a white picket fence and a big rose garden where the sun shone all day.

And the cow jumped over the moon.

Every time the handsome Luke entered the room, Hannah's heart would skip a beat.

Luke Mendel made Hannah Rosen tremble in anticipation.

She was also suffering from a raging case of sexual frustration.

Luke was totally oblivious to this of course.

He didn't find her remotely attractive.

She really wasn't his type and she would have been devastated to discover that he saw her more as a sister than anything. But Hannah was living in her own little bubble.

Strolling around one bustling department store after another in the heart of London - Hannah secretly hoped that Luke would pay for everything she chose.

Its amazing how many things suddenly seem more appealing and take on a new significance when you think somebody else is paying for it.

"I don't expect you to pay for this" Hannah lied as she fingered a pair of diamante encrusted Armani jeans.

"No worries" Luke replied gallantly pulling out his credit card "Its my pleasure"

Hannah rewarded Luke with a kiss on the cheek. But she didn't see him grimace. She was too busy looking for her next find.

"You don't have to carry that" Hannah purred as she patiently waited for Luke to insist that he hold her bags.

Her face fell when she noticed that he was looking distractedly in the opposite direction.

He hadn't heard a thing she'd been saying. In fact he was trying to mentally locate the nearest exit.

By the afternoon Luke was drained.

He was tired of listening to Hannah carping on and tired of wandering around Harrods.

Everything seemed to blur into one - endless cosmetic counters and overpriced designer labels, crowds of dawdling shoppers and officious sales people.

Hannah was growing tired of Luke's silence's and was taking them personally.

After all wasn't he meant to be entertaining her? How selfish of him to neglect her and what a moody side he was showing.

But she needed him enough not to let it show.

So Hannah chatted happily away as Luke's legs almost gave way beneath him.

But he was still the gift that kept on giving.

At a perfume counter she procrastinated over which perfume to buy and Luke coughed as she continued to spray several scents on any available piece of exposed flesh she could find.

At the Clinique counter Hannah was given a make over as Luke nodded off in the chair beside her.

On and on Hannah prattled.

Hannah was secretly angry that Luke hadn't complemented her on her make up. But Luke was full of regret and was already dreading the night ahead.

Later that evening - Hannah made sure that she chose the most expensive restaurant she could find.

Kosher or not - Hannah was starving and she was determined to enjoy herself.

Unfortunately Luke was also coming along for the ride.

During dinner - Hannah suddenly turned to the couple she had barely just met and told them her entire life story.

With complete indiscretion - she told them everything.

Luke cringed into his bowl of pasta.

Hannah recounted in gory detail about how her husband had left her and her daughter and then she jabbered on about how Luke had hesitated before entering the restaurant because he was worried it was too expensive.

She laughed uproariously at this - fancy Luke not wanting to satisfy her every need? That wouldn't do for Hannah because she had been looking forward to eating here all week.

She told the couple at great length that she had had a crush on Luke for most of her life.

Luke blushed violently - his face as red as the sun ripened tomatoes in his pasta sauce - and squirmed in his chair hoping the ground would swallow him alive.

But there was no stopping Hannah.

She had a captive audience now.

On and on she babbled with abandon - where angels feared to tread Hannah Rosen went rushing in.

She was blissfully unaware that Luke's attention had been diverted by a gentleman's bottom as he passed.

"I've lost ten ounces" Hannah proudly announced in the restaurant.

Luke was appalled.

She had been helping herself all day. She hadn't stopped eating.

Luke was finally looking at her and finding fault.

He was seeing her with new eyes - in the cold light of day.

And what he saw - he didn't like very much.

In fact what he saw - he hated.

Hannah still had that strange far away look in her eyes.

Luke was trying to avoid making eye contact with her now - he had belatedly realised that Hannah had other ideas on her mind. He was counting the time down until he could offload her.

But Hannah was busy thinking - was Luke the man for her?

Decisions, decisions.

After dinner they made their way to the big cinema plex. There was an awkward silence between them now.

Hannah had come to the conclusion that perhaps things had not gone as she had planned after all. But Luke was secretly elated. Going to the movies would mean that Hannah would have to shut her mouth for the next two hours.

Luke would be able to breathe at last. The movie might just rescue the day.

In the foyer  - Luke finally lost his temper with Hannah who had been visibly sulking.

He told her to stop being so immature and demanding.

She retaliated by blaming Luke for being moody and distant and for making her feel uncomfortable.

In fact - Luke had gone out of his way to oblige her every whim and he was now trying to wring out as much self control as he could. Already he was considering whether or not he wanted to see Hannah again.

She galumphed off to the rest room.

"Men" Hannah wailed down the phone to her mother "They are all the same and the good ones are either married or gay"

Hannah was devastated.

She was mad to think that a great catch like Luke Mendel would ever see anything in her. He was such a dark horse.

She concluded that he must secretly be married and unable to commit to her. He could hardly be gay.

On the way home - Hannah and Luke hardly spoke. Luke stared resolutely out of the window. Hannah's brain had already flat lined.

They were players acting in a farce.

"Sorry if I've been nagging you" Hannah explained earnestly as she dropped Luke off at his house "But you seemed really moody today and -"

But Luke didn't care anymore and he was no longer paying attention.

Three months later ...

Hannah Rosen was still hoping that Luke Mendel would call her.

But he never returned her calls.

Hannah couldn't understand why Luke had not contacted her since the trip to London. But she was willing to wait for him.

After all - Luke Mendel was her knight in shining armour.

After his time with Hannah - Luke Mendel had decided to "take the bull by the horns". He embarked on a ménage à trois  with a man and a woman.

And he wasn't quite ready to commit just yet.

Joy Comes In The Morning

Arriving in a strange new town, Omar Habib was quietly hopeful. But exhaustion robbed him of his happy expectations.

Omar's devoted father Dabir and mother Sara were watching him like a hawk. They monitored his movements and were attentive to his every need.

Just lately he had been feeling more tired.

The family was painfully conscious of every move he made. Sara could barely let Omar out of her sight. His father proudly told everyone who would listen about how clever Omar was and how proud the family were of him. Nobody in the family spoke of the boys predicament.

Nobody outside the family knew how ill Omar really was. And early on the family found sustenance in their faith.

On his first day at Cranley College, a boy called Abed Farah had befriended Omar.

It was magnetic.

Abed was the sort of lad that Omar was scared to be. Abed was outspoken and confident. And a  genuine warmth had grown between the two boys.

Abed would say things that Omar would never dare to say or even admit to thinking. Abed saw Omar as the lad he should be - studious and devout. But life was too short for Abed to be good.

Soon the pair were utterly inseparable and Omar seemed to be a positive influence on the wayward Abed.
Omar had been diagnosed with a rare bone cancer.

His family had not told him how serious it really was.

The doctor did not want to alarm the boy but four months into his studies and Omar was having chemotherapy treatments that left him feeling depleted.

Omar never told anyone that he was ill. He wanted to get well.

But the tiredness persisted and Omar frequently passed up the opportunity to meet up with his growing circle of friends outside of class. They assumed he was studying. Abed was beginning to find Omar boring - he kept him on the straight and narrow but there was more to life then studying and going to mosque.

One day -  Abed Farah failed to show up at college.

His absence was noted by Omar - and the empty space where Abed should be sitting beside Omar equalled the empty space in his heart.

Three days passed and there was no sign of Abed.

The first person to call him was Omar.

Abed told Omar the whole story.

His father had decided to leave his mother and go off with his mistress.

There was a big scandal.

Abed's distraught mother was going to go home to her family in Morocco.

But the young lad refused to give up his life in England to go back to North Africa.

So he was seriously thinking about leaving town for good because he refused to go and live with his father.

Abed detested his father.

"You can't leave town!" Omar pleaded "You're my best friend"

"Grow up Omar!" Abed exclaimed angrily "Some people have real problems"

"Some people don't like telling other people their problems" Omar replied sadly

"Do me a favour you goody two shoes!" Abed sneered "You're such a little mummy's boy!"

"At least I don't pretend to be somebody I am not!" Omar retaliated "At least I don't lie and cheat and do people over!".

"I forgot how holy and perfect you are!" Abed shouted ferociously " You don't know anything about real life so drop dead and go to hell!".

The line went dead.

Omar sat staring at the phone in his hand as tears fell down his face.

Everything had gone silent.

Abed never spoke to Omar again.

And within a week he had left town without telling his friends where he was going.

All they knew was that he hated his father.

Three months later Omar Habib died peacefully in hospital surrounded by his family..

Abed did not attend the funeral because he could not face it.

He just stood in the pouring rain outside the funeral home.

Omar's mother Sara came out to him.

"Thank you for being here" Omar's mother began as she put a hand gently on his shoulder

Abed flinched from her touch - too ashamed to look her in the eyes.

"You meant alot to my son and he would be happy to know you were here" Sara added softly.

"But I was a terrible friend" Abed cried as his eyes filled with tears "I betrayed him when he needed me most!"

"You didn't even know he was ill " Sara said as her voice broke with emotion "He was so brave to the end and he spoke about how much your friendship meant to him"

"I don't deserve this" Abed said as his tears mingled with the rain "I should go"

The field of broken drteams (by Julie-de-Waroquier
"Please don't go"  Sara said.

"But Omar was suffering and I did nothing to help him" Abed wailed.

"He is beyond all that now" Sara said "Come inside"

Sara embraced the sobbing Abed.

Slowly he entered the house with Sara.

Shortly after, Abed moved into the house and became a surrogate son to Omar's mother and father.

Abed Farah never forgot Omar Habib.

He would think about him for the rest of his life and he would use Omar as the example of the kind of person we should all strive to be.


The Devil Makes Work

Mila Harker was sitting in the living room of her pretty little house in Highgate.

Petite, skinny and birdlike with piercing clear blue eyes and jet black hair - Mila was the Ice Queen.

She was surrounded by numerous shining awards and family photos on the mantle piece and on various ornate tables.

Mila had once been a prize gymnast but a back injury had rendered her redundant - although she made sure that nobody ever forgot who she was.

Sitting unobtrusively in his little office was her husband Derrick.

Short with greying hair and a simple face - people often thought Derrick was Mila's father.

There were times when Mila struggled to remember what she saw in Derrick - and she would eventually plump for his big brown eyes.

It sure as hell wasn't for his body.

Dependable Derrick.

He had the money and was boring enough to leave her alone.

"What more could a poor Polish girl ask for?" Mila informed Derrick one night as they held hands on the sofa.

Derrick leaned over to kiss her - but Mila pushed him away with one hand.

"No - if I wanted it I would have married someone else!" Mila snapped at him.

Poor Derrick.

That truth was that Mila was indeed getting it from somewhere else.

She was getting it every Wednesday afternoon when Derrick was out the house.

From the big Albanian man across the road.

Tonight Mila was in a big quandary - and this time it had nothing to do with her pastry not rising.

Her two good friends Meggie Mortimer and Matt Peters had finally split up.

The most loved up couple she knew had decided to call it a day.

Hold the front page!

Mila couldn't believe it - it couldn't be happening.

Settling back into her chair she mused on the fickleness of humans. Her two friends had had arguments and tearful reunions before. But this time it was for real.

She told her husband all about it.

Then she ignored his opinion anyway. 

Derrick appeared to be hoping for a quiet life but unfortunately it looked like Mila had other ideas.

Bossy Mila.

She was always taking over and interfering in other people's business.

Not long after they got married Mila forced Derrick to drop many of his closest friends because she didn't like them.

"Its them or me" Mila said menacingly as she dangled her passport in front of him "I can just as easily board a plane back to Crakov"

Derrick miserably complied.

Still later she offloaded all of Derrick's Elvis Presley albums at a local charity shop.

"Its Elvis Presley or me!" She had warned him - snapping an album in half in front of his face "I hate his stupid songs and I hate his mumbling voice"

The King had left the building.

And Mila could only abhor the fact that Derrick hadn't learnt one word of Polish in all the time she'd known him.

And she also hated his family.

"Bunch of inbreds!" Mila would often sneer under her breath whenever any member of Derrick's family called the house.

Life with Derrick was as dull as dishwater.

"I deserve a Polish sausage tonight!" Mila Harker exclaimed one evening as the car screeched to a halt outside a Polish delicatessen

"I sure as hell won't be getting any other sausage!" She added maliciously with a sneer.

Derrick looked back at her with his simple face and Mila was suddenly grateful for any sausage she could have.

Besides,  she'd be getting a sausage on Wednesday afternoon.

From that big Albanian man across the road.

Back at the house Mila watched Derrick slumber in his chair.

Old before his time.

"No wonder so many women are lesbians" she sneered as she shook her head.

She resisted the temptation to stick two fingers up his nostrils.

For five minutes she considered running away with the sexy nineteen year old work experience boy from the bakery.

Mila often enjoyed admiring the good looking youth - particularly when he was bending over or wearing tight jeans.

The taut torso.

The firm bottom.

She reckoned he had a big one too.

But she changed her mind - there was more to life then a taut body and a firm bottom.

Instead she put the track Sex As A Weapon by Pat Benatar on - and turned up the volume until the speakers were vibrating.

Derrick jumped out of his chair.

"Sorry darling!" Mila finally said "But I thought you were dead!"

Poor Derrick.

Sometimes he wondered what life would have been like had he married his childhood sweetheart Louise Tufton.

Soppy Louise - fat and frantic.

She never had a cross word to say about anyone.

Even more stupefyngly boring and colourless than Derrick himself.

And somehow Mila always seemed to read her hapless husband's mind.

"Still thinking about that cow?" Mila would snigger nastily.

But it was true.

Mila's Polish family had long since given up the ghost with her.

Sure she had her own business - a bakery called Mila's Buns.

But her family had been hoping for a dashing Polish man to carry Mila off into the sunset.

Instead they got comfortable Derrick with his simple face and his own business making business cards.

No wonder Mila buried her head in jam tarts.

Mila was determined to help her friends and because she meant business she watched several episodes of Judge Judy on the TV recorder.

She carefully practised her most concerned face in the mirror.

She even found the most concerned tone of voice too and practised it on her bemused cat who stared back at her incredulously.

After some careful consideration Mila decided to do what every good Frenemy would do.

She pitted her friends against each other.

And vigorously took sides.

But she would make sure that she took the side of whomever she was speaking to at the time. Mila was going to use a little reverse psychology on them.

First of all she went for coffee with Matt and was very sympathetic to his predicament.

Mila was fittingly horrified by Meggie's behaviour and pretended to be appalled.

Frequently shaking her head as he recounted his story.

Mila made a mental note of every point Matt made and jotted it all down in her little black notebook later.

"Women are complicated creatures" Mila conferred shaking her head "Some of our ways are hard to fathom".

"You can say that again" Matt answered miserably "I don't think I know Meg anymore"

Later when Meggie called that evening - Mila was appropriately shocked by Matt's behaviour.

"Men are the weaker sex" Mila pronounced forcefully "You are better off alone or as a lesbian"

"I never thought we would ever break up like this" Meggie wailed down the phone.

"Some men never grow up" Mila added for good measure as she let out a big sigh.
Mila had been the perfect shoulder to cry on. And she was feeling very pleased with herself.

A month passed and there was no sign of Matt and Meggie getting back together again. Meggie had moved out of their flat and was staying with friends in town.

All Mila could do was stand back and watch with mounting horror and disbelief.

But something about Matt's behaviour was starting to arouse her suspicions.

According to a well placed friend Matt had shown up at a dinner party with a mystery female.

Mila was silently seething.

Who was this tramp on Matt's arm?

So one Saturday morning not long after Mila and Derrick were covertly hiding behind some bushes outside Matt's flat.

"Can't we do something else?" Derrick pleaded "Its freezing out here!"

"Shut up Derrick!" Mila retorted angrily "And give me those binoculars"

Derrick handed the binoculars over to Mila - who jabbed him angrily in the ribs with her elbow. Derrick winced in pain.

As if the whole thing were being stage managed - the door to Matt's flat suddenly opened. He strode out closely followed by a red-haired woman.

Mila's eyes narrowed.

"The worm!" She hissed venomously,  barely able to conceal her contempt.

Matt and the mystery woman kissed passionately on the steps.

Mila and Derrick's mouths fell wide open in unison.

Matt's hand slipped down the woman's back and grabbed her bottom.

"Bastard!" Mila growled.

Silence fell upon Mila and Derrick as Matt got into his car and drove off.

The woman waved him goodbye. Mila slowly turned away - bile rose in her throat and she fought the sudden urge to throw up.

As if to seal the moment - a little black bird flew past and pooped in Derrick's eye.

"Of all people - it crapped on you!" Mila exclaimed in disgust as she slowly shook her head.


Back at their house - Mila Harker was pacing up and down and trying to figure out what to do.

Derrick's head was spinning as he watched her obsessive behaviour.

Three days later, Mila was standing outside Matt's flat holding a box of chocolates.

The red-haired woman answered the door. Mila eyed her up and down.

There was an awkward silence as Mila glared at the red-haired woman.

She came to the quick conclusion that the woman's eyes were too close together.

Just as she thought.

A charitable rebound.

Men - so predictable.

"I am looking for Matt" Mila said sweetly holding out her hand  "I don't think we've been introduced, I am Mila Harker"

"I'm afraid he's gone on a business trip for a few days" The woman answered, shaking her hand

"Has Matt ever mentioned me?" Mila enquired trying to hide the irritation in her voice "The famous Polish gymnast?"

There was an awkward silence.

"I can't say he has" the woman eventually replied "I'm his friend and he tells me everything"

Mila's face fell. But she still managed to quickly fix a smile on it.

"Oh how lovely for you both" Mila cried effusively "Well ... I've got these chocolates and it would be a shame to eat them alone ... maybe we could ... share them?"

"Oh  ... of course yes" The woman answered.

The woman happily ushered Mila in.

Mila was bemused and surprised at how well everything was unfolding.

What a sap ... she is a goddamn weakling ... this is all too easy ....

But before Mila entered she looked quickly about her to make sure nobody had seen her.

A week later, a seemingly distraught Matt called Mila.

"Sonia's gone!" Matt wailed sorrowfully "She's left me!"

"You poor little thing ..." Mila asked - barely able to contain her glee."What happened?"

"She just upped and left" Matt cried in disbelief "I came home and she was gone ... there was only a letter"

"A letter?" Mila asked excitedly "Do you have it there ... what does it say?"

Matt read the letter out over the phone

'I'm sorry Matt
But we are living a lie
You belong with Meg
So long

"I am so glad she saw the light!" Mila exclaimed - warming to her theme "Sounds like she made the right decision for all concerned"

"But its so totally out of character" Matt replied sadly "Its just not like her to behave like that "

"Perhaps you never really knew her after all" Mila sighed - as a smile slowly spread across her face.

"But she would never just disappear like that and not even take her things!" Matt protested

"Maybe she killed herself" Mila answered conspiratorially  "To be totally honest ... she did strike me as a little bit unstable"

"When did you ever meet her?" Matt exclaimed - suddenly perplexed "I never introduced you to her?"

"Oh I ... well ..." Mila stuttered "I must go ... I think I can smell burning!"

The line went dead but within a few minutes Matt was already making another phone call.

Mila was delighted.

Then she started to think.

And the realisation hit her like a thunder bolt.

Matt and Meggie were the life and soul of the party.

Life without them would be unendurable.

A big void would be left where Matt and Meggie should be.

It just wouldn't do.

Some thing more final would have to be arranged.

But there were other things that needed sorting out first.

Mila would have to stop making those tedious one hundred mile journeys to visit Derrick's mother at the secure unit.

Endless visitations.

Just to pretend to be concerned for the mad old hag ...

On her final visit - whilst Derrick's mother sang Hello Dolly - Mila shoved a pillow onto her face.

And sat on it.

"Die bitch!"  Mila was sneering "Die fucking bitch ... die"

Mila held the pillow firmly on the woman's face as the senile older woman mumbled the words to the song until she fell silent. Then Mila pulled the emergency cord and as the room filled with anxious nurses - she sobbed her way out of the room and into her car and straight down the motorway.

Back at the house Mila considered her next step.

She started rummaging through draws trying to find any cards or letters from Meggie.

Then - when she had found sufficient material Meggie sat down and started to painstakingly copy Meggie's writing style.

Mila even found enough time to comfort Derrick when he came home from work with news that his mother had gone to meet Elvis.

By the end of the evening Mila had constructed the perfect letter.

Full of love and regret. Full of the conviction that Meggie belonged with Matt. That she had made a bitter mistake. That they were made to be together. For eternity.

Failing all that - Meggie could be made to look like a delusional drunk who was fast losing her faculties.

But it wouldn't get to that.

Matt and Meggie were destined to be together forever and one day Meggie would get all the credit.

She would tell them everything when they got back together.

Mila finished the letter and sent it. Then she helped herself to an expensive bottle of champagne - she deserved it.

Two weeks later.

Sitting in the crowded little church next to a sobbing Derrick - Mila adjusted her veil so nobody could see the smile on her face.

She wasn't paying attention to anything that was going on around her. She even yawned during the priests sermon.

When Derrick spoke to the mourners about his mother - his speech was so long that Mila nearly lost the will to live herself.

But she managed to put a hand on Derrick's arm.

As the coffin began to move into the furnace - Elvis Presley's Crying In The Chapel started playing. Mila sneered with utter disgust as she slowly shook her head and sharply withdrew her hand from Derrick's arm.

For a moment she imagined pushing Derrick into the furnace with his mother.

But then she noticed Matt sitting a few rows down from her and there was something different about him.

"She wrote to me!" Matt said cheerfully to Mila later at the house as family and friends talked and drank and remembered Derrick's mother.

"Did she really?" Mila replied - trying to act as surprised as possible "What did the letter say?"

"Well ... she sounded different" Matt explained "She sounded like a little girl in love again"

"There you see!" Mila exclaimed so loudly that everyone - including a forlorn Derrick - suddenly  looked at them "I knew you were meant to be together!"

"What shall I do now?" Matt asked.

Mila took Matt into a corner.

And then - lowering her voice so nobody could hear - she told him exactly what he should do now.

Later as Matt finally drove off - Mila congratulated herself profusely.

She helped herself to a bottle of champagne - celebrating her exploits.

Mila even kicked a photo of Derrick from the mantelpiece and laughed uproariously as it clattered onto the floor.

"Bloody Derrick!" She guffawed.

But in the cold light of day - the real truth behind everything was very different

Because everything had been judiciously timed and executed like a theatre play around her.

Mila Harker was completely oblivious to the fact that Matt knew everything about her scheme's.

She would have been appalled to know that Derrick had been scrupulously passing on every microscopic detail of her plots to private investigators. In fact Mila had no idea that Sonia had been a private investigator too.

Matt and Meggie had been in cahoots all along.

Mila would also have been horrified to discover that her phones were tapped - that she had been followed constantly. Her movements carefully monitored - she had been under surveillance for months .

It turned out that Derrick hadn't been so simple after all.

Slowly slowly - Mila Harker's past began to emerge.

Her real name was Celina Zielinski.

And Celina had already been secretly married at twenty in Poland to an aged millionaire years before.

The senior died suddenly from "natural causes".

Celina promptly left for England several months later - taking all his money with her.

When the man's two daughters followed Celina to England to get their inheritance back - one of them mysteriously disappeared.

The sister was later found under the patio of the apartment where Celina was staying with one of her lovers.

Other "mysterious fatalities" began occurring.

There was the time that Celina discovered that her strapping nineteen year old work experience boy had acquired a girlfriend.

Celina could not conceal her jealousy - particularly when the young lady showed up at the bakery looking pretty, pert and blonde.

She was even more appalled when the little strumpet kissed the lad in front of her face.

Nevertheless, Celina turned on the charm

She persuaded the girl to meet her for lunch the following week.

The girl duly obliged - and was never seen alive again.

Her body was found six month's later - dumped in a canal thirty miles away from Celina's home.

And that wasn't all.

Broken Dreams (by deadlybuterfly
Sonia's body was also found shoved in a dustbin outside Superdrug in Hounslow.

Even a hapless postman was found dead with a crusty roll up his bottom - lying naked outside The Body Shop.

Celina was at home when they finally came for her.

She had almost been expecting it.

"What took you all so long?" Celina enquired loudly - almost disappointed - as they surreptitiously hand cuffed her.

She didn't make a fuss and went quietly.

Celina Zielinski Harker never showed much emotion from that moment onward.

Under questioning Celina apparently finally lost her cool.

She was heard to exclaim vehemently;

"Would I really drive all the way to Hounslow to shove Sonia's body into a stinking dustbin outside Superdrug?"

Every one in the interview room looked at each other with disbelief.

"Have a heart!" Celina Zielinski Harker added with wounded pride.

Keep Your Friends Close

Jenny and Lisa were friends at university.

Jenny was studying Law and was a caring and level headed young lady with an endearing personality.

Conversely Lisa was a fluffy blonde with a childish nature who was studying dance.

In many ways they were polar opposites.

But they do say opposites attract.

Jenny - sensible and empathetic.

Lisa - dizzy and always on the edge.

They couldn't have been more different.

Lisa was the ultimate "wild child" - a euphemism for a selfish emotional vampire with no self control.

But she was also a very sick girl.

When Lisa didn't take her medication, she was excessively temperamental and unpredictable. She could behave outrageously and alienate the people around her who did not know how to handle her.

The truth was that Jenny and Lisa had a close but not always healthy relationship.

And because of some past guilt that was tucked away in Jenny - she felt an exaggerated sense of responsibility for Lisa.

An over protectiveness that was totally inappropriate.

Lisa mercilessly manipulated Jenny.

She frequently played on Jenny's good intentions.

As time went on, Lisa came to rely on Jenny more and more. When Lisa didn't get what she wanted - she caused terrible scenes.

Lisa copiously watched back to back episodes of Sex in the City and started testing her sexuality.

But she was hardly Carrie Bradshaw.

Lisa believed that she was in control of her own sexuality.

But the boys had other ideas - they just thought she was cheap.

Word was getting round that Lisa was easy.

Most of lads that slept with Lisa found her too hot to handle.

Her hysterical behaviour was getting worse.

Not only was she a slut.

But she was mad as well.

On one occasion - Lisa took an overdose after an argument with one of her lovers.

Later - Lisa claimed that her instability was due to the fact that her father had molested her.

But nobody could verify this.

And Lisa was widely known for being creative with the truth anyway.

When she started dancing at a sleazy lap dancing club - she actually thought that Jenny would somehow be proud of her.

But Jenny was appalled.

Lisa had developed the habit of shocking Jenny just to see what her reaction would be..

To this end - she gave a blow by blow account of how the manager of the lap dancing club had made her strip in front of him - and then had fondled her bare breasts.

Jenny was mortified - but Lisa refused to listen to her entreaties.

She refused to listen to Jenny's warnings.

Back at university - people were laughing behind Lisa's back.

But Lisa seemed determined to keep pushing all the boundaries.

She started sabotaging everything Jenny did - and mercilessly put her down.

But in spite of everything Jenny insisted - "I am always loyal to my friends".

Lisa needed her after all.

And Jenny needed to be needed.

This fatalistic attitude was hard for her long suffering fiance to understand.

When both of them finally left University - they eventually fell out of touch and drifted apart.

It was then that Jenny had to face the fact that Lisa had used her all along. Lisa's parents had even tasked Jenny with the burden of keeping Lisa's illness a secret.

The weight was finally lifted off Jenny's shoulders - but she would feel bitter for years to come.

The Dream Life 

"Its unbelievable!" Marcia Goldstein declares as she flings open the enormous door to her palatial Beverly Hills mansion with its seventy-five rooms and acres of land. 

She has done amazingly well from her world wide string of  New You Beauty Clinics.

Its a real rags to riches tale of grit and determination.

It's the real American dream.

And the seal of approval is an article in the UK branch of Essentials - a high profile magazine.

Here is Marcia in the kitchen with her two perfect children - Alen and Edib -  baking cinnamon cookies.

Here is Marcia in her lounge with its huge white leather sofa, deep pile rugs dotted with Ming vases, enormous marble table and tasteful gold leaf detailed mantle piece stacked with family photos.

There is Marcia lovingly assisting the minimum wage Korean  maid as she feeds the two adorable adopted children from Bosnia.

Everyone turns in unison - and smiles to the camera.

The sun shines down upon Marcia's golden world.

Its a picture perfect life.

"We saved them" Marcia informs us as she cuddles the twins together "I simply can't bear to see these poor and backward children suffering in a grimy orphanage"

The twins look up at her adoringly - forever grateful.

And here is Marcia with her husband - renowned plastic surgeon Harvey Goldstein - relaxing together by the pool.

Tanned, relaxed and Botoxed to within an inch of their gilded lives.

Yes - life is sweet for the Goldstein's.

In the soft focus video clip for her clinics -  Marcia intones benevolently and meaningfully to the camera about her cosmetics.

"I believe that beauty is within us all and that all we need is for it to be released"

Yes - Marcia Goldstein is the Dalai Lama of the beauty industry.

A halo appears behind her head as the heavens smile down upon her.

Marcia Goldstein - the guru of good grooming.

She holds up two golden jars of face cream. They gleam seductively as they catch the light.

"That is why I created Ethique" Marcia continues earnestly "These are my classic day and night creams which contain organic mushrooms from the Carpathian mountains and borage seed and micro encapsulated ceramides and priced at just $480 each"

She smiles sweetly and lovingly opens one of the jars and smears some cream onto her face.

"Created for you by somebody who loves you!" Marcia Goldstein cries - as the camera zooms in on her line-free baby face.

The video clip ends with Marcia handing out roses to poor Indian orphans in Calcutta to the strains of Frank Sinatra's My Way ...

Meanwhile - here is Marcia dressed in Prada and standing outside The Betty Ford Clinic.

What a survivor.

Can you believe it?

No - nor can we.

And nor will you.

The article doesn't speak about the time Marcia tried to jump out of the bedroom window.

She never showed you the bathroom where a cabinet is full of medication for depression.

She never spoke about last Wednesday when she bought a batch of Krispy Kreme donuts for the Bosnian orphans and ate them all in the car.

Or the time she kidnapped Edna Fiernstern from the Beautiful End Retirement Facility in Datona - because apparently she resembled her auntie Rina.

Or maybe she totally forgot to inform you about the time she tried to hold up a pharmacy with a gun shouting "Where have all the cowboys gone?!"

Or even the day she tried to strangle the minimum wage gardener with her tights after he chopped the head off one of her prize gardenia's by accident?

It was always diminished responsibility with her.

She had bulimia.

She had PMT.

In fact she had a raging case of selective amnesia.

All might have been well perhaps had Marcia's former minimum wage maid (and chef), Ling - Li, not sold her story to The Daily Horn for an undisclosed six figure sum.

That was when everything came to a head for Marcia Goldstein.

Snake in the Grass

Do you know how to a handle a snake?

Very carefully and with cunning.

The Frenemy is the proverbial snake in the grass.

Something as old as time.

An ancient affliction.

One who is not who he or she seems.

But you believe them.

Even though something is not right - and you are feeling it.

Maybe it began in Eden with the Serpent.

The friendly voice seducing us with lies.

Sugar coating the pill.

Relationships are very important to us.

And it is for this reason that we engage so passionately in them.

Sometimes to our detriment.

We impose so many demands on ourselves and we feel that we have failed if we do not live up to them.

Sometimes we actually believe the lie that to be with someone is better than being alone.

And not just in a love relationship - but in our friendships too.

We need friends - but we don't read the signs.

We limp on in dead relationships because we are afraid to cut the ties.

We allow ourselves to accept far less than we deserve because we are too scared to take a leap of faith.

When I hear the way some people talk to each other I am appalled.

I can't believe the way that some people speak to their friends or allow themselves to be spoken to.

This is how they treat themselves.

A friendship is really a choice.

When a friendship breaks down, it is usually because one or both of the parties has opted out.

They may not say it and it may be hard to detect at first, but the signs will surely become apparent.

Lack of interaction, lack of communication and a sour feeling in the solar plexus are all signals.

Something has died or is dying. And you are feeling it.

Most of us live our lives as if we have another one on stand by.

When things get tough we resent it.

We are conditioned to perceive pain and difficulties as some sort of failure.

Effectively we make ourselves wrong.

We do not see the value in the experience.

So we suffer more than we have to.

We fight.

We struggle.

We give the very thing we claim to detest all our power.

People are powerful and when they come together - fireworks can frequently happen

For better or for worse.

You cannot smother your power or the truth of your identity.

When people are in agreement on a matter - it is a mighty thing.

But a person who has mastered themselves or is on the path of self-realisation is always more superior.

They are not afraid to be the student.

They are not afraid to be the teacher.

They will not be lost when the lights go out and life's difficulties manifest as a result of their evolutionary growth.

The entertainment business is full of "Frenemies" - they love you when you are hot but don't know you when you are not so hot.

But "fair weather friends" are always transparent if you are paying attention.

"There is no honour amongst thieves"-  so the saying goes and the Frenemy is not unlike a thief.

They may steal your time.

They may steal your resources.

And if you are not careful - they may steal your heart.

And you won't get all the pieces back.

There is nothing more miserable than somebody who only knows you when they want something from you.

But there is something worse than that - knowing a friendship is over and denying it.

Something dead coming back will always hurt.

Remaining in an unhealthy relationship that is over will rob you for your peace.

You are not responsible for anyone else's happiness.

You may have known them since you were five years old - but you no longer have to hold their hand to cross the road.

Its funny how people will cling to others even though it is doing them no good.

This is fear.

Fear is an illusion.

But we have to see a paper tiger for what it is.

We have to see this for ourselves.

We have to go through the fear alone.

That is the only way to unmask fear for the false reality that it is.

Your friend may proudly announce to the world that they've been your friend since you were both at nursery school -  in spite of the fact that you just spent the last hour arguing in the car and wanting to scratch each others eyes out.

The ultimate Frenemy is the cheating spouse.

Its not so much that they cheated however - this is painful enough - it is the fact that they got caught out which really rubs the salt into the wound. They would have continued had you not found out. That is what stings the most.

Then there are the ones who claim to love their partner - but add that they are happy for them to stray. They assert that they love their partner enough and are secure enough for them to go ahead and experience somebody else intimately.

They even back it up by claiming that the human animal is unable to live monogamously - whilst satisfying their own appetite at the same time.

What is wrong with this picture?

Everything happens for a reason.

All the people in your life are a reflection of you.

Even the Frenemy has a place.

Their job is to show you who you were.

They reflect a part of the old you.

But like everything outgrown - as with a pair of old shoes - it is going to hurt.

And pain is always a signal that you need to investigate.

Take your eyes off them.

What is happening within you.

Life is a series of lessons.

We grow through every experience.

Never dream alone (by Kiciul
Whether we can see the fruit or not.

Dark experiences are all part of the process.

"Pain is part of the deal" Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa informs us in her book The Eight Human Talents.

Rather than seeing those dark valley experiences as horrors that have come to destroy you - look at them as experiences sent to make you great.

What is the lesson? Can you get something positive out of this dark experience?

"There is value in this valley" Iyanla Vanzant asserts in her book The Value In The Valley.

In the stories - most of those featured were masters of  "self sabotage".

They actively spent time with people who did not respect them. They sabotaged themselves.

In many ways - most of the people featured believed that they did not deserve anything better from life.

A belief is just something we think a lot.

You think it will never happen for you - and you put alot of energy into it.

You decide that the boat has already sailed away.

But the truth is - that the boat hasn't even moored yet.

Because you have been giving your full attention to what you don't want and attracted more of the same.

Some people really believe that they are not worth very much and they attract people and situations that reinforce this belief. Simply because this belief underlies all their experiences.

Like attracts like.

Hannah had very low self esteem.

And she enjoyed self pity too - self indulgence was her forte.

It wasn't just raging sexual frustration that Hannah suffered from - it was a raging case of PLM as well.

Poor Little Me

Everything and everyone were always out to get poor little Hannah.

She reinforced this belief by behaving accordingly and by attracting people who were the internal mirror image of herself. But Hannah Rosen would never have been prepared to accept this.

People who do not accept responsibility for their own karma invariably repeat the same lessons but never seem to progress until a great big ugly experience comes along to shake it all up.

Jenny felt she deserved a friend like Lisa.

The fruit of this belief was that Jenny had to deal with low self esteem issues for some time to come.

By allowing Lisa to constantly undermine her and by reinforcing a false sense of responsibility towards her - Jenny gave her power away. She unconsciously gave Lisa permission to run amok in her life. The last time Lisa was heard of -  she was living off a sugar daddy

And the one person who had genuinely deserved Jenny's undivided attention - her fiance - was thankfully still with Jenny.

In losing Omar - Abed gained a family that would nurture him.

But he would feel guilty for years to come.

Abed made amends by never taking anyone for granted again.

Eventually Abed would find peace and the peace lay in his devotion to Omar's family.

Conversely - Celina Zielinski Harker was so disconnected that she projected herself onto other people.

Instead of fixing herself - she tried to  fix and control the people around her.

She was the worst kind of Frenemy of all.

When she didn't get what she wanted and when she couldn't manipulate the people around her any longer - she turned to desperate measures.

Celina never took responsibility for her actions.

She had no sense of self awareness.

People who are like this tend to suffer from PLM and are always victims.

They are dis empowered because they are always blaming other people for their predicament.

They have no sense of real power because they are always a victim.

The difference with Celina however is that she believed that eliminating the opposition would make her feel powerful.

Like other sociopaths Celina had a total lack of empathy for other people. This was why she had no problem in killing the people that she believed were in her way.

If she hadn't considered the consequences of her actions before - she would have plenty of time now.

Because it is unlikely that Celina Zielinski Harker will ever leave prison.

Marcia Goldstein was living the 21st century fake dream.

She had it all.

The money.

The fame.

She had nothing.

It was all empty and hollow.

On the outside everything glittered like gold.

On the inside Marcia was as insecure and broken as the best of them.

She hid everything under a shining mantle.

But inside Marcia Goldstein was conflicted and haunted by her past.

For years she struggled to ignore her husband's affairs with his patients.

She struggled to deal with the early death of her mother who died of a heart attack in front of her at sixteen.

She was still haunted by the years she was teased for her buck teeth and the fact she wore large frame glasses at school.

She never thought she was pretty or good enough or anything much. Years of holding it all in sent her into a downward spiral.

Poor Marcia.

When the pain got too much - Marcia was finally forced to face her demons and deal with her past and her present.

Marcia eventually went into therapy to deal with her emotional and psychological pain.

It was then that she realised that she had never recovered from the death of her mother.

She had been running away all her life.

Marcia Goldstein died from an overdose of pain killers three weeks after her husband finally walked out on her.

The Scales of Justice

"Know thyself" the ancient Greek mystic wisely taught us.

You must cultivate self awareness - it is the most important personal quality you will ever possess.

The greatest test is how much we love.

After love of the Creator - nothing is more important than that you love yourself and that you should honour the authentic you.

If you are reading this and do not believe in God or Spirit then understand that everything is spiritual. There is always another dimension to what we see.

We are sentient beings experiencing life on different levels.

And the truth is that you set the bench mark for how you will be treated.

Your thoughts are powerful and your words are powerful - they create.

If you are truly "awake" then you can never be waylaid.

If you are fully present in the moment, you will always be able to see through the people and things around you.

When you know something - you know it with all certainty.

You will know when people are lying to you.

You will know when things are not as they seem.

You may not always understand how you know - but you will know.

You cannot walk through life with your spiritual eyes closed.

Spending time with unloving people is poison to your soul and always counter productive.

Calling a back stabber pretty names is like burying your head in the sand.

Or lying on a railway track.

Spending time with people who bad mouth you behind your back will cause you to do the same and the vicious cycle continues.

For nothing is more depressing then low-vibrational talk and gossip - nothing good will ever come of it.

No satisfaction can come from decimating other people - particularly when it will boomerang back sooner or later.

As it always does.

Witless bitching with the aim of undermining somebody else is extremely destructive. Particularly for the one initiating it because sooner or later you always get back the full measure of what you give.

When you bad mouth another person - you invite it upon yourself.

Sooner or later it will appear in your experience.

What you call someone else is what you are.

What you see in another person - exists within you.

They are reflecting a part of you that is crying out for healing.

Don't plot revenge - it will always leave a sour taste in your mouth.

Let the pendulum swing.

Get the lesson and move on.

Aim to focus on what you desire the outcome to be - and nurture that dream.

Disengage from the negative expectations.

Shift those gears off that energy - stop feeding it.

Don't participate.

Hang up.

Drop out.

Do not reinforce that calamity thinking by engaging in it.

Turn away - and do a new thing.

Pray - it works.

Nothing brings more emotional and psychological relief then surrendering matters in prayer. In impressing the super conscious.

Nothing frees the prisoner from their spiritual jail then giving it up for a change.

Thoughts are prayers.

For there is only One Mind and we are all connected to the same Source.

And your greatest teacher appears to you as your enemy.

The Frenemy has something to give you.

Even if it is just to show you how much you have grown.

For that alone - be grateful.

In releasing these people from your life, you make room for something better to enter it. This is something to be thankful for.

By their unfriendly actions they have caused you to find your personal power.

By exacting that power you create a new vision of yourself.

And nothing is more powerful than the new vision that you have for yourself.

Always let your enemy dig their own grave.

If they put that amount of energy into destructive thinking - then there must always be a payback.

Divine Order always prevails.

When we are in line with universal Law we always get what we deserve.

For there are immutable laws and principles that govern the cosmos and they operate whether we accept them or not.

The Bible gives sound wisdom.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 

~ Galatians 6:7

For nobody can escape their destiny and the fruit of their labours.

And the darkest experiences hold the greatest potential for correction and growth.

The truth is,  you have grown through all your experiences.

You have grown in ways that may not be immediately apparent.

But you have grown and evolved both spiritually,  psychologically and emotionally.

The prize has at last been won.

It is you - but more you.

The authentic you.

Let the pendulum swing.

The Principles

Life is your teacher.

And Life is about you.

When we project blame onto others and refuse to take responsibility for our actions - we become victims.

When we refuse to take responsibility for our actions we live by default and someone else will run our minds.

When our heads are clogged up with old hurts and grievances - nothing new can enter our lives.

Different faces and different places,  but everything stays the same because we all attract what we are to ourselves.

You cannot think the same way and expect different results.

Ernest Holmes of Science of Mind has illuminating words here.

"Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it"

All the people in our lives are a reflection of us.

Therefore,  when our consciousness shifts everything changes.

We were not created to carry all the burden of our troubles on our shoulders.

We are human.

We are not super-human.

Nobody can control future and past events or the people around them.

As Jesus taught, nobody can change anything by worrying about it.

Worrying is a way in which we attempt to control.

But we must be prepared to let go.

And allow the forces of the universe to take care of the details.

It is less about action and more about the aligning of energies. 

And we must be prepared to forgive if we want to be free of the toxic emotions in our own heart and mind.

When that person,  place or thing is in your face - we must forgive.

When the pain eventually gets too much - we will forgive.

Most people do not forgive because they do not know how to or because they think it means conceding defeat and making themselves wrong.

There are huge misconceptions attached to this most powerful of acts and those fallacies prevent us from understanding and appreciating what spiritual principles are.

When we are done with running and controlling and fixing and fighting - we will surrender.

Because we will accept that there are things in life that we have no control over.

And what other people are saying and doing is not our concern

Even when it is about us - its really about them!

Acknowledge your feelings and what you are thinking.

Get clear and then forgive.

And be prepared to keep on forgiving.

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

~ Matthew 18:21, 22

Forgiveness is a powerful spiritual act that will set you free.

It's not about the other person - it's about you.

Forgiveness as Iyanla Vanzant points out is good spiritual hygiene.

Forgiveness is at the very heart of the compassionate message of Jesus.

"Behold I do a new thing" 

When we withhold forgiveness we live in the past and remain stuck in the cement of toxic emotions.

When we withhold forgiveness - our "adversary" owns us.

We drink the poison and expect them to die!

We continue to suffer and feel bitter long after the event occurred.

In the modern age with it's technologies and right-on politics it can be almost fashionable - particularly in the West - not to believe in God or principles.

An intelligent person may tell you that they have no time for archaic superstitions and fairy stories.

Yet they cannot offer you an alternative.

They are content to follow another human who may be more flawed than they are.

Spiritually principled people are not weak.

They know exactly what is going on.

They are powerful people who choose to deal with things in a powerful way.

Spiritual principles have stood the test of time because they work.

They underlie all religions and all known metaphysical teachings from the earliest known writings.

They are universal truths.

You are a powerful creative being with free will.

As well as your five senses - you have been given your emotions.

Your feelings are a very important part of who you are and an accurate reading of where you stand.

You are intricately and wonderfully made.

Yet you are not super-human and two opposing forces cannot occupy the same space.

And you cannot drown in a sea of toxic emotions and expect to move forward.

Be that as it may -  see far you get living in the past.

See how far you get with your limited mind and your limited understanding based solely on what you can see.

See how far you get trying to figure it all out on your own.

See how far you get fighting things you cannot see.

See how far you get.

There are only two fundamental emotions in life - love and fear.

If it isn't love then it will be fear.

When we are in the grip of fear we will fight to defend ourselves.

We will be temporarily insane.

We will doggedly hold others hostage for what they have done.

We believe that if we forgive our enemy they will somehow triumph over us.

So we keep holding on and pain and hurt poisons many aspects of our lives.

We believe that by withholding forgiveness we will punish the other person.

They will be held accountable for what they have thought, said and done - it is their Karma.

We are dealing with spiritual matters and things of the spirit.

For the truth is that we are all accountable to Spirit and the Law for what we think,  say and do.

You are not responsible for how anyone else chooses to behave.

Don't blame God for the garbage that you create in your own mind.

Don't pronounce "God is dead" when you reap the full measure of your bitter harvest.

For what you sow - you will surely reap.

Thoughts and words have power and they create.

Whatever is in the heart will come up to the tongue

~ Persian proverb

What goes around in your head will show up in your life.

So forgive.

Begin by forgiving yourself first - you cannot give anyone what you do not possess.

Forgiving yourself may not be easy at first but on the road to peace and spiritual evolution - you must be ready to forgive yourself and let yourself off the hook.

Then forgive all those who have hurt you.

Forgive everything to wipe the slate clean.

The more they emerge in your consciousness - the more you must forgive them.

And be prepared to keep doing this until your soul opens up.

Release yourself from all the pain, guilt and shame.

Forgive yourself for allowing it the power to exist.

You will know what you need to forgive.

Pain will soon get your attention!

Pain is part of the deal and pain is how Spirit corrects us.

Surrender all the images attached to the hurt and pain.

Surrender the feelings and sensations.

Surrender it all.

Surrender to God, Spirit, the universe.

Give it all up for a change.

Lay the burden down.

When you forgive - you let go and let God.

When you forgive - you get your humanity back.

When you forgive - you get your power back.

When you forgive - the painful effects of the people, place or thing are neutralised.

When you forgive - you make way for a miracle to occur.

And always remember that no matter what transpires and no matter how you show up - you always have the power to make a new choice.
greyscale rose (by jvarriano