Spellbound – Flowers in the Wind

Photo by Austris Augusts on Unsplash

Spellbound – Flowers in the Wind

She smiled the way a fox might, inviting but deadly. Her dark blue lips like liquid evening pursed as though lost in deepest thought. She contemplated something the rest of us struggled to grasp. Slim through the face with prominent cheekbones, her skin glittered in a moonlight outshone only by her eyes. They blazed. It was these that drew me, though any number of her exquisite accoutrements might have. Closer to oval and slanted down towards her slender nose, her eyes were like autumn when the leaves began to turn, not gold, not red, but somewhere in-between. Her eyes said more in one gleaming moment than another’s in a lifetime. She was spellbinding. I was spellbound.

The lady oozed style. Hers was the kind of body made anything look divine. She didn’t even try! I suspected she didn’t want to either. There was something about her air, a certain nonchalance that bordered on arrogance when viewed by another, but never by her. She emphasised this with the cut of her raven locks, or lack of cut, left long like a velvet curtain of night. Each strand in this dark web fulfilled a purpose. Each fibre intimated something different: an outstretched palm; a look away; a violent glare; the night; oblivion. But worst of all, when she inclined her head, her hair falling forward like twilight to reveal the porcelain skin of her perfect neck, it hid her eyes. For this, I never forgave her.

She lived in the last house of the last road headed out of town. There she’d sit on her porch each evening reclining in a hammock that swayed back and forth in unfelt winds regardless of whether she sat upon it or not. Bewitched one might’ve said. Yes, bewitched. She’d settle into oversized pillows as dark as her hair and raise a glass of red wine to the moon. A salute to a lost lover I imagined. That saddened me, when it should’ve provided sweet solace, her being widowed, single, or at the least, unattached. It didn’t, though. Her loneliness pooled around her like a spilled drink. I drowned in it.

I made my home from home in the lowest branches of a dying oak located across the way from her home at the edge of an ancient wood. A dark place full of shadows, it suited my needs. An imagined guardian, a sentinel who’d never rest, never sleep, never look away, I patrolled those hours when others dreamed until she returned inside and my heart beat again. I couldn’t have looked away if the world had broken and Heaven dropped from the sky. If Death had come for me scythe in hand, I’d have bade him get on with it so I might come back as her personal ghost. I’d have haunted her forever without one complaint. She meant everything, and I didn’t even know her name.

She grew an array of plants which she displayed in earthenware pots. There were many flowers of many colours but most prominent were her snowdrops. This wasn’t unusual. But if I told you those snowdrops bloomed all year round, through summer sun and shine, it might’ve. And they did. They sat there bobbing their little white-capped heads like settled ghosts in a miniature graveyard. The same wind that always stirred the hammock, stirred them. I often licked my finger and held it to the sky, but never once felt a waft of breeze.

This was her world, her dark fantasy. For the longest time, it became my world, too.

Many early dawns, I’d return home from my vigils more desperate than when I’d left. Which one could be assured was a great deal. I’d slip under the sheets of my bed and weep. I wept regularly. She was the last thing I thought of when I went to sleep and the first when I woke. Spellbound. Always spellbound.

The greatest thrill came on the rare occasions she stepped from her porch, one revealed leg at a time. Eternity paused. She did this only when the world at its darkest, in those obsidian midnights where the moon feared to tread. She’d slide from her hammock with the poise of a hunting panther, stretch, arcing her back in a perfect curve, and tiptoe out onto her lawn. She never wore shoes. Her feet were always bare, toes twiddling, whatever the weather, season or shade. She painted her nails, both hands and feet, with black varnish and glitter so they sparkled like stars. Ten tiny galaxies were at her command, and every soul within them looked upon her as their nocturnal goddess.

Her walk was a thing of graceful beauty. She drifted rather than paced, slid rather than strolled. Her long skirt of claret red, crimson in the streetlights, black when not, gathered around her to conceal the limbs beneath. My own personal spectre, she led me away on a monthly regime of forest wanderings. Without a thought to feet which must surely have hurt, the pine needles and thorns scattered with such abundance, she’d silently sashay along paths only she knew. I trailed her without knowing how.

The river that marked the border between one place and the next was her favourite haunt. A dark shawl around the forest’s neck, this waterway beckoned her. She’d slip out of her garments like a snake shedding its skin and step into the oil dark water even if coated with ice. I’d shiver. She’d laugh. She never bathed, never swam, never even moved just allowed the water to coat her in liquid darkness, the moon strangely absent and stars fast asleep. When she emerged, I’d dare a step closer, a great lump in my throat and weight on my heart. Not for lascivious reasons. No, never this. For one reason and one reason only, that split second when she’d shake out her hair and I might spy her eyes. I longed for those moments each and every evening. I breathed them.

And so our dance went on, night after night, month after month, life after life, until it suddenly stopped.

I found her disappearance hard to swallow. Her porch remained empty, yet the lace that curtained her windows closed and drew back every single night and day. There was never a switched on light, but illuminations never were her thing. That was not odd but normal. Neither was there smoke from her chimney, but, again, she seemed not to require the warmth. The salient truth, she simply deigned not to appear. Was this through choice or persuasion? It bothered me. I was bothered.

The waiting was the hardest game. To want but not know almost killed me. I waited for three full moons to elapse, muscles tensed like steel, mind about to explode, before I made my move. If I hadn’t, I’d have gone mad. Some might’ve said I already had.

The night stood black as pitch, a thick soup that coagulated between one day and the next. I dressed all in black, not to impress, nor to cultivate her favour, but, instead, to remain unseen. Yes, it was my best suit. And, yes, I did wear a tie of black silk over a shirt the same, but they were all I had. How could I have saved her in anything less? As for the kitchen knife? Protection or provocation most likely, but I soon forgot. The streets were deserted, the short passage to the outskirts of the old town and her home, unimpeded. I stole upon her like a cloud the stars, venturing where no other dared.

The hammock fabric froze my fingers. I had to touch it. With no ocular stimulation, I sought to find her in a tactile memory. This failed. The snowdrops ducked and weaved as if in mockery.

As though oiled for my expected visit, the door opened into a kitchen bereft of all but empty cupboards, all their doors either removed or hung askew. I tiptoed into a hallway even more dilapidated, where cobwebs hung instead of pictures and dust made carpets of the floor. The place was as stale as three-week-old bread.

I should’ve spun on my heels and run away. Just fled to the hills and never turned back. I couldn’t though, for I knew her there.

Next came the staircase, like the river, a passage from one world to the next. My story grew stranger here. The staircase was of onyx or some such mineral, not wood, nor stone, nor crafted by man. Every step glistened like a universe polished to glasslike perfection. Every placed foot carried me a step deeper into magisterial night. The air thickened and clogged my throat. My eyes and feet grew heavy. Regardless, I advanced.

I stepped onto the first floor as through having scaled Mount Everest in one night without oxygen or aid. Tired to the point of exhaustion, I scoured the area; it was all changed. Like a weary traveller, lost and found, I appeared from obsidian caves into fabled Xanadu. Gone was the destruction, a place starved of life, instead, awed wonder. How could it be? Why didn’t I care? I couldn’t help but gasp.

The sounds of the night came as a great crescendo of wolf and owl and bat and more. Dipped in the infinite wonders of a world I’d never known, I reeled, swayed, fell to my knees. A cold sweat cascaded from my skin like a sponge wrung out by a giant. My hands clenched, throat gulped. I gasped… I grasped… I focused… I fought… And panting like a dog in the darkness, I slowly lifted my head. She was there awaiting my obeisance. My dark queen. She was everything! Everything and more. I dropped the knife that had found its way to my hand; it fell soundlessly to the floor.

She came to me as a midnight fog all curlicued darkness and unravelling mystery. She twirled like the most beautiful ballerina, one wrist raised, pale skin exposed, pulsing veins beating with life. But her eyes! How I died for her eyes. They burned my world in that unknown colour, her lips of darkest blue an oceanic accent to the sparkle above. She drew me. It was all she’d ever wanted. And although I should’ve known it madness, and although I might’ve wept, I kissed her, a lingering impression of death. I was glad I kissed her. It lasted forever.

She made me hers. I was hers.

Through oceans of night and dimensions the same, we travelled. She and me. Me and her. Two lovers in an endless embrace, we tripped over stars and dined on moons. Bliss, in some ways. Torture, in others. It had to end. Reality would not suffer our love. And so we returned, if ever we left? And so I changed.

A flower sunk in a soil of unknown origins, her porch became my home. Spellbound, just one of many flowers stirred by her winds, I died every day, only for her darkness to revive me each evening. And though my roots dove deep to tangle with all those others, and air and water and light were all I should’ve desired, still, I awaited her nocturnal visits. I craved them, nodding away the seconds of every single day until darker than dark, she appeared. She’d take up her rocking birth whispering words of sweet solace, her loving temptations, sitting so close as to touch, each of us hoping it he or she on whom she’d lavish her attentions. She never did. Instead, she’d smile from behind her curtained fringe as if to appease us, whilst I dipped lowest of all.

All I longed for was her eyes. It’s all I ever would.

Those eyes… Those eyes… Spellbound… Those eyes…

THE END.


Thank you for reading.

Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

100 Word Stories: Unbuilt

Photo by Lucas Santos on Unsplash

They demanded them unbuilt for the sake of humanity. I deemed this an unnecessary reaction to an unfortunate event. After all, the explosion was an accident. They set a date.

The smallest squealed. The largest roared. Some fled as best they might; it was never fast enough. Others huddled like cogs in a watch, ticking down the moments till death.

When the guards went to collect them, they’d gone. In their place was a giant clock; it ticked backwards. The populace fled, whilst I remained. That’s when they reappeared, laughing. I laughed, too. Stupid humans! Far easier than killing them.


Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

The Serenity of the Moon

Photo by Luca on Unsplash

“It washes across you like a mother’s first kiss. You don’t remember the sensation, but it’s always been there. That tactile moment of skin on skin, of what was within being without. There’s nothing more magical.”
He waved away the horseman and drew his guest further into the fields. Tall and dark, only his flashing, bright eyes proved him there, unlike his guest, who wore scarlet. He assisted her over a small, uneven fence, the poorest of barriers, and led her on by the arm. He renewed his soliloquy as though never having missed a beat, he the actor and she his audience.
“No words written or spoken may explain nor surpass it. No other feeling comes close. This is the bliss of a perfect night. Alas, you only truly remember the last.” He turned away as though moved by his own words, a shadow within a shadow within a dream.
She spoke for the first time, light and hopeful. “And tonight, my love?” The girl shook out her usually ink-black hair to a deluge of silver, so bright was the moonlight, batted long lashes the same.
“More than any.”
She took him in all his brooding majesty. And despite his obvious melancholy, an almost perpetual predilection, and how the moonlight shied away from his form, she smiled a smile of utter contentment, of getting just what she wanted and when. “I think I’ve waited long enough.”
“Yes, my dear. I believe you have.”
The two nestled down in a quicksilver ocean of rippling grasses, disappearing beneath those unusual waves like breaching whales bound for an ultramarine abyss. Neither the hooting owl nor the gathering wind disturbed them. Not a watching ghost disrupted their repose.
Time passed.
#
It was many hours before they resurfaced, one head at a time, eyes rubbed awake and blinking. She of the waist-length hair came first and him second. The moon had barely moved, giving no evidence of time having altered, as though hung there by some invisible cosmic thread. The stars surrounded it still like a celestial shawl. Those ebony spaces between them engulfed the rest.
And so it was her amber eyes wandered, whilst his remained on her. Up they rose, higher and higher, defiant against both nebulae and shooting stars alike. Her head cocked to one side like an inquisitive robin, a look her outfit enhanced. She grinned as the moon winked daggers.
Secure in his gaze, she reached into her jacket and pulled out a tortoiseshell comb. There, beneath infinity, she brushed out that which marked her beauty, defiant in her belief that to him, at least, she rivalled the eternal night.
“Do you bring many women here?”
“Not here.”
“Then, I am the first?”
“Beneath this moon, at this time, and this place, yes.”
“I’m honoured. You, so privileged and dashing, might have chosen any woman.”
“Just any woman wouldn’t do.”
Her cheeks glowed a crimson to rival her dress. “Do you think we might return here every evening? Beneath this same moon? This same space?”
“We need never leave.”
“Good,” she said. “Though I am a little hungry.”
“As am I.”
He leant in close, closer, closer still.
Her heart beat like a moth’s wings, fast and silent.
The night breathed long and deep.
His lips met her neck and kept on going. Strong hands pinned her arms as his mouth bit deep. It was soon over.
The fields kept rippling as the moon shone brighter, and a man who’d seen more than he ought, wept.
Time stalled.
#
When his anguish seemed inconsolable, he stopped, as though God had suddenly dammed his eyes. He licked stained lips.
“I shall bury you, my love, as I have them all.”
He used his hands to scoop the soft earth from the ground, powerful arms to drive them. He excavated more soil in a minute than a dozen gravediggers might shift in a week.
Once finished, he stepped back. Looked down. Sighed. The hole stood not empty, but full. It brimmed with sloshing moonlight.
The man removed his jacket, ancient in its styling, bursting with brocade and lace. Next came his shirt revealing a milk-white torso, then his shoes and britches. He lowered himself into the hole-made-grave and, a second later, was gone.
One might have feared for the fellow then, but he had other ideas. Rising from those false, silver waters, he lifted the one whose life he’d taken and lowered her gently into the pit. He spoke as though in a trance.
“I shall make right what fate corrupted by sacrificial blood and flesh. For this, I thank you. Truly, yours was a gift. Thanks to you, I endure, not in hate or violence, but nocturnal bliss. Thanks to you, my dear. Yes, thanks to you. And I say this with a sincerity others would claim absent, I loved you. For a time, I have loved you all. But nothing, nothing, my love, rivals the serenity of the moon.”
Time pooled.

The End.


Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

Published Today! – The Butterfly Heart Paradox

I’m very pleased to announce the publication of my Literary Fiction short story ‘The Butterfly Heart Paradox‘. The wonderful Dark Winter Literature magazine — a fabulous read — has featured it today. A tale of darkness, regret, and family history, ‘The Butterfly Heart Paradox‘ depicts how the past can effect our future wellbeing. Please enjoy.

Please feel free to take a look via the link and indulge in some of the many wonderful stories and poetry the site has to offer.


Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

100 Word Stories: Big Eyes and the Boy

Photo by Becky Phan on Unsplash

Her ears were bigger than her head. She wasn’t ugly, though, far from it. Her enormous, round eyes, accentuated by whiplash lashes most women would’ve killed for, drew you to her and held your view.

There were years in those eyes, generations of wisdom. They deflected from her abnormal feet and rough skin. The latter was an eyesore, as if she’d never exfoliated or moisturised. As for her nose, well… better left unsaid.

I loved Nellie more than words. I looked forward to seeing her, even if it was an annual event. Every kid did. The circus was a treat.


Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

Compunction

Courtesy Sharon McCutcheon Unsplash.com
Courtesy Sharon McCutcheon Unsplash.com

Author’s Note: Corrine and the narrator here are current characters in progress for my next body of work. I hope you enjoy


I have no compunction to acquiesce to her wishes. Despite the provocation, I still love her. It is a dilemma.
The night surges around me like a redundant coal mine, the memories of such excavations as to tire an army of dwarves recalled, but discarded. It closes in. I am surrounded.
Her eyes appear first, always her eyes, flashing from this false midnight like two black holes. They hover, darker than dark, drawing in those vestiges of light surface dwellers take for granted, gorging. I would have them gorge on me, too, but have not the energy to ask.
Corrine has a flair for the dramatic, always had, in both life and death. She whispers sweet promises, offers life eternal, a never-ending dream, but is this not what God promises, too? Whether corporeal or incorporeal, one exists. The only decision to make, one unfortunately decided whilst the former presides, is where.
This deep darkness pools like a subterranean sea, tugs with a relentless persistence, one which wears. I capitulate. Corrine wins.
She is here, everywhere. I breathe her, filling my lungs with sorrow. She circulates my system, sluggish in blood made unctuous, taking a slow perusal of all I have to offer. I have nothing to offer, but it still takes time.
When I wake, it is to her raven self. She looms over me in a burgundy chamber, lit by a single black candle with a putrescent flame.
“Make it easier on yourself,” she coos, like a demented dove.
“No.”
“I ask nothing.”
“You ask everything.”
“I could take it.”
“No, my once darling, you cannot.”
I lay for interminable aeons debating this simple truth, as the cosmos unfolds around me, suns blinking in and out of view, universes unfolding like paper swans set loose in time’s ocean. She thinks it will break me, but it only strengthens my resolve. She should never have awoken me.
Corrine enters my perfect prison with a cup of cold water. Condensation drips down the glass like diamonds-made-emeralds in the unnatural light.
“Drink,” she says.
“I’d rather watch it.”
“You never gain anything by watching.”
“No, you gain everything.”
She throws the glass to the floor, but it fails to smash or spill a drop. It is as illusory as she, yet more substantial than ever I’ve been.
Light arrives in the form of a tangerine dawn. I soak up every vitamin, savour every second. There is something about a sparkling new day that transcends description. One must feel it, taste it, love it like there’ll never be another.
She is here.
Corrine snatches the memory from my thoughts and swallows it whole. A slug-like tongue circles her lips as if to ensure every atom sampled. She laughs the laugh of the lost, this demoness. She glares, flares twinned supernovas and is gone.
It takes time for reality to realign.
I climb from bed as though it just another day, throw aside the curtains to the orange skies of my dream.
The sun sits amongst them. It is black.


Love cannot be taken, nor shared unwillingly, nor even explained. One might see it and snatch it momentarily, nothing more. My love for the dawn was not my love for her, if ever it was love at all.


I resist the temptation to sleep this moonless evening. “Not tonight,” I say, as the devil tucks this damaged soul into bed. “I have no compunction to acquiesce to your wishes.” I haven’t. No, I haven’t. 
But I have.

The End.


Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

Sapphire Blue

Photo by Ion Fet on Unsplash
Photo by Ion Fet on Unsplash

Londinium’s streets filled with merchants of every description. Some purveyors of fine silks set up stalls in such-and-such an alley, others of fresh produce in this and that, the retailers of jewels and gold settled closer to the constabulary’s arterial junction. It, or rather, she, sat somewhere in between.
Less an organ grinder’s monkey, but not quite a ventriloquist’s dummy, she rested, her coiled legs draped over the side of a wooden cart. Her creator, or owner, or whatever he was, poled people to guess her name at a sovereign a head. He promised great riches to the soul who guessed correctly, though I ventured no one ever did.
Entranced, I squeezed through the gathered crowd to better gaze upon her, excusing myself more times than decorum demanded. Nevertheless, it felt nowhere near enough. At my last muttered apology and doffing of my hat, I looked up: there she was.
She was stunning, beautiful, yet made. Plaited horsehair adorned her bonnet-less head, which stood against convention, but looked right on her. A face of chalked perfection rested on a frame of awkward, angular imperfection. The contrast made for an uneasy balance. Yet, it was not her body I looked upon, but her eyes. Even though I knew it was wrong, evil even, an affront to God, I could have stared into them forever.
The almost-woman had the sort of eyes that dreamt of oceans, a blue so deep as to swim to the stars. She stared out across her audience impassively, searching for something, searching for me. I was hers, and she was mine.
“Hey, that’s a sovereign’s worth of a gawking you’ve given. You gonna guess ‘er name or not?”
I paid the man his money and walked away.
“Hey! Hey, mister! Ain’t you gonna guess then?”
“Sapphire,” I replied.
“Wrong,” he expounded.
Maybe to you I thought, but Sapphire she remained. My dreams would be eternally painted blue.


Thank you for reading
Richard

The Black Rose

Courtesy Mathilde Langevin on Unsplash.com
Courtesy Mathilde Langevin on Unsplash.com

Ours was an unusual romance, one bordering on desperate, teetering on brave. Whether squawking like crows or cooing like doves, we loved and hated with equal passion. She was the black rose with thorns so barbed as to puncture, and I was the unwitting gardener who cultivated its cruelty.


Corrine was a hateful woman until one got to know her. She discouraged this by using a wide variety of scowls, sneers, and shakes of the head. If one got close, she stepped closer, sudden and sharp. If one spoke over her, woe betide them. The darkness in her eyes steered all in the required direction, drove the rest away. All except me, that was. I couldn’t run. My pride wouldn’t allow it. We grew close. Some might have claimed us entangled.
We took a tour of Europe by train, The Orient Express. You may have heard of it. Despite the indisputable luxury this vehicle offered, Corrine bellyached non-stop. At first, I agreed with her, employing appeasement. Soon, I grew as disenchanted as she, not with the train trip, but Corrine herself. Despite her unrivalled beauty, her exquisite lines, hair to die for and eyes to drown in, there was only so much one could take. I had taken enough.
I stepped from the train as we crossed a viaduct. Dramatic, but true. I had, of course, threatened to leave first. “If you don’t stop! I’m warning you! I’ll do it! Don’t tempt me!” Etcetera, etcetera.
“Promises, promises,” her always reply. She’d blow smoke from her cigarillo right into my eyes, as if us trapped in a Parisian haze. The urge to scream became unbearable. So, I did. I’m unsure when I stopped?
So, as mentioned, I leapt from the train whilst my strength remained, my will still intact, and most of all, whilst Corrine was, as we say in polite circles, momentarily indisposed.
I hit the water as her scream shattered the landscape, sending boulders crashing and birds flooding into the sky.
The question came after thrashing my way to the riverbank, where I lay like a floundering fish until the moon rose high and stars blinked a welcome: Why? Why would a woman who so discouraged interaction, actively oppose it, be bothered? In the greater scheme of things, what difference did my escaping her make? Here was the key.
Schemes are like flower bulbs planted so deep as to go forgotten. Only when they burst unexpectedly from the cold, hard earth into rainbows of unexpected colours do they become apparent. I was her colour, and she the darkness that buried me.


We met again quite by accident at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan. I had taken a liking to this country so unlike my own, where a shrug meant more than a novel and kindnesses were only ever a handshake away.
Turandot: Opening night. The performers were so close as to sing in my ear.
I don’t know why I turned, looked up, stared. Why I held her gaze when I should have slipped down in my seat, or better still, run. She was older then, her raven hair now closer to lead. She wore black, trimmed in lace, as an Italian widow might. Her face was as pale as snow.
As the music played, she mouthed something at first unreadable in the fragmented light. At first, but not by the end: You killed me.
Curiosity forced me up there to that empty stall. Curiosity or madness? Getting even never came into it. She had gone. Only a solitary black rose left snuggled in a seat proved her ever there. This, I took.


London, and home.
The rose remained un-withered, as fresh as if picked that very morning. This, I planted in my garden.
When I awoke the next day to Big Ben’s incessant chimes, breakfast was on the table. I had no servants? The windows were thrown open, the curtains flung back and a stench of decay permeated the atmosphere. Confounded, I wandered outside. The rose was gone.
Corrine’s fingers slipped around my throat like a noose.
“I always wanted to visit London,” she breathed. “So kind of you to bring me.”


We argue daily. Life is not good. Yet in my heart of hearts I know this, I missed her misery, her melancholy ways, and she missed mine. For what is life without the threat of death to keep the world in balance. No, seriously! I need to know?

The End.


Thank you for reading
Richard

50 Word Stories: The Lie


“There’s sharks in the river!” screamed Ray.
Our elders set out to kill them, men and women. No one returned.
The army tried next. They dynamited everything, then drained the river. There wasn’t a shark or a villager in sight.
“I lied,” confessed Ray.
“So did our parents,” I replied.

Thank you for reading
Richard

Photo by Wynand Uys on Unsplash

Sweeping Changes

Photo by Peter Forster on Unsplash

She made sweeping changes, everything from burning the curtains to killing the cat. The outside faired no better. She had the garden walls knocked down, the fountain plugged, even the old willow tree hacked to pieces. She did all this with a smile on her face and an unwaveringly airy disposition. Next, came me.

She made sure I saw everything, every last detail. She stood there bold as brass, hands on her hips and announced in a voice so sick as to be sweet exactly who she was, this woman who’d bought it all, my business, my home, myself.

“I’m your half-sister,” she purred.

“Half-sister!”

“Uh-huh. The worst half.”

Father had never said a word, and now he never would, after all, she’d disposed of him first. Apparently, it hurt less than the cat, and on the plus side, saved me a job.


Thank you for reading

Richard