love

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Eurovision 2022 Review

Published April 1, 2022 by Naomi Rettig

I think it’s a given this year that Ukraine will win as people will be voting to show their support. Because everyone knows it’s a political popularity concert not a song contest. I’m not a fan of Ukraine’s song this year, I much preferred their entry last year from Go_A. There are many songs I don’t like this year, there are a lot of slow break up songs. With Covid and war going on I don’t want to listen to dreary sad songs, I’m wanting uplifting and bouncy songs I can trampoline to. Here are my scores for all 40 songs, in alphabetical country order.

Albania. Ronela Hajati – ‘Sekret’. Couldn’t take my eyes off her thighs, in a good way, in the video of her live performance. The song is forgettable for me though. The backing dancers are good, they have a matrix/game of thrones vibe. 3/10

Armenia. Rosa Linn – ‘Snap’. Catchy little tune. She has a lovely voice, this song grew on me with the more listens I had. 7/10

Australia. Sheldon Riley – ‘Not the Same’. I found the beaded curtain distracting over his face, it reminded me of Prince in his Symbol era. Finger jewellery was great. Raincoat dress was different. A great voice but the song was dreary. 2/10

Austria. LUM!X ft Pia Maria – ‘Halo’. Bouncy and dancy. This was a grower for me. Fabulous to trampoline to.  8/10

Azerbaijan. Nadir Rustamli – ‘Fade to Black’. Dreary song about a love break up. 2/10.

Belgium. Jeremie Makiese – ‘Miss You’. He has a fabulous voice that makes my spine pulsate and this song is another grower for me. 7/10

Bulgaria. Intelligent Music Project – ‘Intention’. Hooray a rock band. Soft rock. Not as great as I wanted it to be though, a little bit forgettable. Great guitar solo. 6/10

Croatia. Mia Dimsic – ‘Guilty Pleasure’. Nice voice but not a guilty pleasure for me. Distracted by the dancer with excellent core strength. 4/10

Cyprus. Andromache – ‘Ela’. Unremarkable. 2/10.

Czech Republic. We Are Domi – ‘Lights Off’. Catchy Song and dancy. Distracted by the guitarist playing his guitar with a cello bow and the keyboard player in dungarees looking like he’s just off from a fishing trip. Good trampolining song. 8/10.

Denmark. Reddi – ‘The Show’. Denmark’s Bonnie Tyler taking the lead I think. Good band but the song is not for me. 6/10

Estonia. Stefan – ‘Hope’. Wagon’s roll! This song makes me want to ride a horse in the wild west, and I’m allergic to them. I ‘hope’ this makes it to the final. Good for trampolining to, managed to trot and canter to it. 8/10

Finland. The Rasmus – ‘Jezebel’. Disappointed with the song, it might be a grower with a few more listens. 6/10

France. Alvan and Ahez – ‘Fulenn’. Not what I was expecting from France. Middle eastern hypno-trance? Not my cup of tea. 3/10.

Georgia. Circus Mircus – ‘Lock Me In’. Funky guitars, fun, and groovy. No video available so I haven’t seen them performing so it will be interesting to see them on stage. This morphed from ‘what the..’ to ‘ooh cool’ with a few listens. 8/10.

Germany. Malik Harris – ‘Rockstars’. Not a tune for me, quite wishy-washy and unforgettable. Bring back Jendrik from last year.  2/10

Greece. Amanda Giorgiardi Tenfjord – ‘Die Together’. What a depressing sentiment. ‘If we die together now we will always have each other’. No thanks, I’ll pass. 1/10

Iceland. Systur –‘Med Haekkandi Sol’ – Icelandic cowgirls. Gentle and melodic but not memorable for me. Too slow for trampolining.  3/10

Ireland. Brooke – ‘That’s Rich’. That’s poor actually. Not one of Irelands best entries in my opinion. Dancy but not great. I originally gave this a 3/10 but it upgraded the mark due to good trampolining ability. 4/10

Israel. Michael Ben David – ‘I.M’. He has a great voice, a great look, and I can’t wait to see the staging for this. Song is growing on me. It gives me vibes of The Roop. 7/10.

Italy. Mahmood and Blanco – ‘Brividi’. Dreary love song. 2/10

Latvia. Citi Zeni – ‘Eat your salad’. Wow! Very tongue-in-cheek, fun, and crazy. With lines like ‘bend over and jiggle that peach’, ‘forget the hotdogs my sausage is bigger’, and ‘if you want you man’s tongue longer than a gecko’s’ I can see this being a marmite song. I’m on the loving it side. I can’t take my eyes off the sexy saxophone players white trousers. I didn’t realise I liked men in tight white trousers. Apparently I do. Funky. 9/10

Lithuania. Monika Liu – ‘Sentimentai’. I thought this was the French entry on first hearing his. I’m hypnotised by her sparkly dress. I like it but not greatly. 5/10

Malta. Emma Muscat – ‘I Am What I Am’. I like the sentiment but not the song so much. Nice but doesn’t stick in my head. 5/10

Moldova. Zdob si Zdub and Fratii Advahov – ‘Trenuletul’. Mental. I love Moldavian entries. Hats off to them performing a song about a train journey. It’s a jolly number. They’ve obviously never been on Arriva Trains Wales. Great fun to trampoline to. 7/10

Montenegro. Vladana – ‘Breathe’. I was tempted to stop. Too dreary for me. 2/10

Netherlands. S10 – ‘De Diept’. Another song about a break up. Not for me. Too glum. 2/10

North Macedonia. Andrea – ‘Circles’. The circles under my eyes got darker listening to this. Dreary. 2/10

Norway. Subwoolfer – ‘Give that wolf a banana’. Amazing. My winner. They are dressed as yellow wolves singing about bananas, what could be better?! (Tigers singing about pineapples.) I find myself shouting ‘someone give that wolf a banana’ at inappropriate times. And yes, I have tried to do the dance but I haven’t mastered it yet. It’s even more tricky on a trampoline, there’s been a few near miss incidents in my bedroom. Trampoline wise. 10/10

Poland. Ochman – ‘River’. Depressing. A song about dying and suicide. No I don’t want to take myself off to the river to die, but if I listened to this on repeat I might change my mind.  1/10

Portugal. Maro – ‘Saudade’. Jeez, another break up song. Yawn. 1/10.

Romania. WRS – ‘llamame’. Up tempo, not too bad. I was disappointed I was pronouncing the title wrong and it wasn’t llama me. No one came out dressed up as a llama. 5/10

San Marino. Achille Lauro – ‘Stripper’. After lusting after Damiano last year I seem to be spotting a trend of lusting after young thin Italian men who wear make-up, have tattoos and wear black nail polish. That aside, I love this song 10/10. And that’s for the song not Achille, honest.

Serbia. Konstrakta – ‘In Corpore Sano’. Jeez. Lockdown was obviously hard on some people. She starts off singing about Megan Markle’s hair, then proceeds to lecture about health, while washing her hands constantly on stage. May be triggering for those with O.C.D. It made me want to go wash my hands. Or the dishes to avoid listening anymore. 1/10

Slovenia. Lps – ‘Disko’. A young band who look about twelve years old. They’re probably not. I’m just old. Inoffensive disco number (although I will spell it ‘disko’ from now on) I felt transported back to the seventies and that I should be sailing on The Love Boat. 6/10

Spain. Chanel – ‘SloMo’. Very twerky. I couldn’t take my eyes of her booty and thighs. Upbeat song. Not bad for trampolining to.  6/10.

Sweden. Cornelia Jakobs – ‘Hold me closer’. Another break up song. Sigh. 2/10

Switzerland. Marius Bear – ‘Boys Do Cry’. So do fifty-year-old women listening to this, and not in a good way. Snoozeville. 3/10

Ukraine. Kalush Orchestra – ‘Stefania’. Folk rap. Not my cup of tea. But as said previously I think it will win. 2/10.

United Kingdom. Sam Ryder – ‘Space Man’. I thought it was Matthew Wolfenden from Emmerdale at first. He has a good voice and the song grew on me. Awed by his vocal range. I try to hit those high notes while singing along. There are three dogs in my back garden who answered my call. Someone snap him up for a shampoo advert too, he’s worth it. We will of course come last. 7/10.

Love

Published February 14, 2022 by Naomi Rettig

Love wraps around me like a woolly throw.

Love gives me light when I’m in a shadow.

Love relaxes me, soothing my soul.

Love streams through me and makes me feel whole.

Love lets me see all the beauty around.

Love helps me hear more magnificent sounds.

Love is amazing the more it unwinds.

Love is energy bubbling through minds.

Love is abundant, take all you need.

Love makes life worth living, that’s guaranteed.

I Love That

Published February 14, 2022 by Naomi Rettig

You are like a rose,

Soft petals, and thorns.

And I love that.

You are like a star,

Bright, and far away.

And I love that.

You are like mature cheese,

Crumbly, and strong.

And I love that.

You are like my cat,

Soft fur, and claws.

And I love that.

You are like a broad bean,

Curvy, and hard.

And I love that.

You are in my life,

Good times, and bad.

And I love that.

My Ideal Christmas

Published December 14, 2020 by Naomi Rettig

Calorie free chocolate that tastes oh so good,

A cosy log cabin hid away in a wood,

White fluffy snow that sparkles so bright,

Reading a book in soft candlelight,

Snuggling under a warm Christmas fleece,

Meditating quietly with inner peace,

Listening to carols as I close my eyes,

Avoiding temptation of cream and mince pies.

Seeing my daughter’s smile light up the room,

Chatting with friends via Facebook and Zoom.

A real open fire with flames dancing high,

The brightest of stars in a velvet sky.

A cat purring happily on my lap,

Luring me gently into having a nap.

A trampoline session to make me feel groovy,

Then feet up, relax, and chillout with a movie.

The gorgeous Judd Nelson waiting in bed

Covered all over with a marzipan spread.

Christmas Comfort

Published December 14, 2020 by Naomi Rettig

Gazing up at the sky on Christmas Eve

I wonder if we see the same stars.

I clasp my hands and imagine it’s you,

Squeezing three times to say I love you.

Physically far yet spiritually near,

When I know you’re here I have no fear.

I chat in my mind and know that you hear.

When I lose my way you guide and steer.

I’m never alone, Christmas and beyond.

Your joy, love, and hope comforts my soul.

The Hair Slide

Published November 28, 2020 by Naomi Rettig

Monica wasn’t superstitious but she knew that her day wasn’t going to run smoothly for a Friday 13th. Having dropped her breakfast, peanut butter on toast, on the floor to be devoured by Jinx the Labrador, catching her finger in the kitchen cupboard, and tripping over a conker on the path outside her house, work at Craven Care Home wasn’t much of an improvement.

‘I’m not sitting by her, she’s a thief.’ Olive’s bony hands rattled her walking frame as she came to a standstill next to the dining table.

Beryl, seated at the table, shook her mop of grey hair. ‘The cheek of her! She’s the thief and a liar!’

‘Ladies please.’ Monica, already used to playing referee to these two after only a few days, was finding it particularly tiresome today. She’d only been on shift for a few hours and was already counting down to being home alone Jinx. ‘Let’s be nice.’

‘I’m not eating with her. I’d rather starve,’ said Olive.

‘Go on then,’ said Beryl. ‘Starve to death.’

Monica was frustrated that these grown up women were acting like toddlers. ‘Mrs McQuillan, come and sit over here.’

She steered Olive towards a table on the opposite side of the dining room and helped her to sit down, placing the walking frame by the side, like a playpen barrier. The dining room was heavy with the smell of cooked cabbage and disinfectant and the noise of pots and pans bashing about overshadowed the smatter of chatter from the residents awaiting their food.

‘She stole my hair slide.’ Olive’s eyes, milky with cataracts, stared at Monica.

Nodding, Monica glanced around the room. ‘I’m sure it will turn up.’ She caught sight of the metal food trolley with the wonky wheel heading their way. ‘Look, Joanne’s coming round with lunch now. Cod and parsley sauce, your favourite.’

‘I hope it’s not lumpy sauce like last week.’ Olive removed her false teeth and plonked them on the table.

Monica watched a globule of spittle slide from denture to table. ‘I’m sure it’ll be lovely.’ She walked away to the small tea room next to the kitchen. She didn’t feel hungry anymore.

Kyla had a coffee waiting on the worktop in the tiny tea room for Monica and stood drinking hers from a mug with the slogan I’m a carer what’s your superpower. ‘Thought we were going to have fisticuffs then.’

Monica grimaced and picked up her mug. ‘Thanks.’ It was a souvenir mug from Cleethorpes. No member of staff was from Cleethorpes or had ever been to Cleethorpes so it was a mystery mug in the staff cupboard that Monica had adopted. ‘I don’t know why they annoy each other so much. Ever since Olive arrived, Beryl has been more cranky than normal.’ She took a big slurp of coffee.

‘Cranky? That’s polite, she’s been a right pain in the ass. It’s not helping that Olive keeps going on about the bloody hair slide.’ Kyla rummaged under the work top and brought out a biscuit tin and yanked off the tight lid. ‘Custard cream or soggy gingernut?’

Monica still had the image of Olive’s saliva coated false teeth in her mind. ‘I’ll pass. Is there a hair slide? I haven’t seen one.’

‘Probably not.’ Kyla shoved a whole custard cream in her mouth. ‘Remember deaf Gordon? Swore blind he had a dog in here.’

Monica laughed. ‘Yes, the imaginary Goldie. Please shoot me if I get like that when I’m old.’

Kyla raised her eyebrows. ‘When?’

‘Cheeky mare, I’m forty-five not eighty.’

‘That’s old to me.’ Kyla reached for another biscuit.

The sounds of a busy canteen mingling with Chris Rea’s Driving Home for Christmas. Monica shook her head. ‘Look, just because you’re young enough to be my…’

‘Daughter.’

‘No, younger sister, doesn’t mean I’m old.’

‘Yeah, whatever,’ said Kyla, brushing some crumbs from the front of her tunic. ‘Have you made it up with your sister yet?’

‘No. Not going to.’ Monica drank some more coffee.

‘But it’s going to be Christmas soon.’

‘And? What’s that got to do with anything?’

‘You don’t wanna be alone on Christmas Day.’

‘I won’t be. I have Jinx.’ Monica faked a cheesy grin, she didn’t want to talk about her sister, it was still too raw.

‘He’s a dog.’

‘Exactly. Loving, loyal and doesn’t betray me. Plus I’ve put my name down for the Christmas Day shift here. I see you’ve got it off, what are your plans?’

‘Staying in bed with our Liam and eating chocolate all day. Probably pop over to his mam’s house for tea when we’ve finished shagging.’

‘Kyla!’

‘What? You could be having that too. I mean, not with our Liam obvs, but if you got yourself another man, a nice one, not like Geoff, he was a prick.’

Monica pictured Kyla’s Liam in bed. It wasn’t a sexy image. The first time she met him he was waiting outside the home for Kyla. He was swigging from a can of supermarket own cider and had a collection of dubious stains decorating his t-shirt. Monica imagined his underwear would be equally, if not more, dubious. ‘I’m happy waking up with Jinx and then spending the day here.’

‘See, senile already.’

‘Thief!’ Olive’s shout echoed through to the tea room.

‘Bloody hell.’ Kyla rammed another custard cream in her mouth and shoved the lid back on the tin.

Brian the odd job man appeared at the doorway holding a sprig of mistletoe. ‘Alright ladies?’ A waft of Brut aftershave entered the room.

Monica put down her empty mug and turned to Kyla. ‘Finish your cuppa, I’ll sort her out.’ She smiled as she watched Kyla take the lid back off the biscuit tin and squeezed herself awkwardly past Brian’s teddy-bear tummy. ‘Sorry Brian, duty calls.’

On entering the dining room her smile slipped away when she saw that Olive had thrown her lunch on the floor and was continuing to shout insults across to Beryl. Joanne the kitchen assistant was swooping in with cloths and a mop. Monica, being careful not to slide in the lumpy parsley sauce, escorted the still shouting Olive to her room.

Olive flopped down into the wipe clean faux leather chair. The bedroom was generic beige with white plastic blinds at the window. A painting of a lavender field was above her bed. ‘She’s stolen my hair slide. I don’t want her here.’

‘Well she has to stay here, her old care home has closed down.’

‘I don’t want her here.’

Monica sat on the end of the bed facing Olive. ‘Now come on, don’t get yourself all upset. I’m sure if you got to know her you could be good friends.’

‘I don’t want to be friends with someone like her.’ Olive turned her head and stared out of the window, grinding her gums together in a gurning grimace.

‘OK.’ Monica hoped that Olive’s teeth hadn’t been swept into the bin. Retrieving gunky dentures from the rubbish wasn’t a thought she relished. ‘Well, have a little rest here and try to calm yourself down. Getting upset like this isn’t good for your blood pressure is it?’

Olive ignored her and carried on staring.

Monica stood up and smoothed the bed down where she’d been sitting. ‘Anything you need before I go?’ When no answer came she turned to leave the room.

‘Forgiveness.’

Monica stopped at the door, turning back towards Olive. ‘Forgiveness?’ She waited for an answer but Olive just continued to stare out of the window. ‘Don’t worry about the broken plate lovely.’

When a reply still didn’t come Monica left to go and find the false teeth.

Olive closed her eyes for the last time..

Monica showed the funeral directors out and walked back to Olive’s room. She always felt sad having to bag up belongings of patients with no next of kin. Throwing treasured items into the trash always seemed so tragic to her. Lost in her thoughts she was startled when entering the room. There in Olive’s chair sat Beryl. For a split second Monica thought it was Olive.

She placed her hand on her chest and exhaled deeply. ‘What are you doing in here Beryl?’

Beryl was staring at the empty bed. ‘Forgiveness.’

Monica had started to walk towards Beryl but stopped dead. Déjà vu prickled through her body. ‘Sorry?’

‘Forgiveness. Looking for forgiveness.’ Beryl was still, her eyes unmoving from the sterile bed.

Monica glanced down to Beryl’s lap as a sparkle caught her eye. A hair slide of marquisate and silver was being slowly twiddled between Beryl’s fingers. ‘Is that Olive’s hair slide?’

Beryl’s looked down at the hair slide and nodded.

‘You took it?’

Beryl nodded again. ‘Yes.’ Tears leaked down the wrinkles on her face. ‘I’m sorry.’

Monica sat on the corner of the bed, just as she’d done with Olive on that last time with her. ‘It’s ok.’

Beryl smudged her tears away with her hand. ‘I wanted to take something of hers.’

‘Why?’

‘She stole from me. I wanted her to know how that felt.’ Beryl stared at the hair slide.

‘I’m confused now. What did she steal from you?’

‘Bill.’

Monica hoped this wasn’t another imaginary dog situation. ‘Bill?’

‘Bill was my fiancé.’

Monica would have preferred an imaginary dog, they were more easier to deal with than betrayal. She tried not to think of her ex-fiancé Geoff but his face launched into her mind evoking emotions she didn’t want to deal with. She focussed her attention back to Beryl. ‘When was this?’

‘When I was nineteen.’

Monica did the maths. ‘You knew Olive sixty-seven years ago?’

Beryl nodded again and let out a sigh. ‘She stole him from me and married him. He was my fiancé and she stole him.’ She turned her head and looked out the window. The rain was running down the glass in crinkled lines. In her reflection the rain appeared like tears navigating her wrinkles.

‘Were you friends then?’ Monica leaned forward slightly when Beryl didn’t answer. ‘All those years ago?’

Beryl carried on watching the rain. ‘No. We were sisters.’

Monica sat upright, she was confused, or thought maybe Beryl was confused.  ‘Olive said she had no next of kin. I knew she was a widow but I didn’t know she had you.’

‘She didn’t.’ Beryl turned to face Monica. ‘I stopped talking to her when she married my Bill, when she stole the life I should’ve had.’

Monica frowned. ‘But she was a young widow. She told me her husband had died six months after they were married.’

Beryl stopped twirling the hair slide between her fingers and her eyes widened.

‘You didn’t know that?’

‘No.’ Beryl swallowed hard. She closed her eyes and exhaled deeply.

Monica’s pulse was increasing and her mouth was dry. She was wishing she hadn’t delivered that news and was concerned that Beryl was going to go the same way and in the same chair as her sister. She was relieved when Beryl opened her eyes.

‘I left the country after their wedding.’ Beryl stared at the now unmoving hair slide in her hands. ‘I moved to France. I couldn’t bear to watch them live a happy life. They were both dead to me from that day.’ She started to cry silently and closed her eyes.

Monica leaned forward and placed her hand on Beryl’s. Monica thought of her own sister and their falling out. She made a promise to herself to drive over to Amanda’s straight after work, before she could have time to talk herself out of it. She didn’t want to be bitter and resentful. She needed to forgive, to move on. She didn’t want to become Beryl.

Beryl let go of the hair slide and held Monica’s hand. The distant sound of carols echoed gently through the corridors of the care home. Beryl squeezed Monica’s hand and Monica squeezed back. They sat in silence and the hair slide slid to the floor.

I Remember You

Published November 11, 2020 by Naomi Rettig

A lonely poppy in a sea of blooms

You lie in silence in a meadow of tombs.

Leaving behind all your world you held dear

You trudged on to battles with courage and fear.

My freedom now is from your sacrifice.

I pray you’re at peace in a found paradise.

I can never repay all you are due,

I never met you, yet I remember you.

The Suicide Cat

Published December 9, 2019 by Naomi Rettig

Beth stood at the edge of the cliff, her eyes closed, listening to the waves thrashing against the rocks beneath her, feeling the wind slapping her, and whipping her hair across her face. Thirty-six years had culminated to this resolution. Thirty-six years of struggle and pain and feeling out of place. Thirty-six years of angst and self-torment. Even with her eyes closed, Beth could feel the moon shining a spotlight onto her. This was her moment, her final curtain call, time for that final bow.

She listened to those wonderful waves calling her name. About to take a step forward into the salty wet audience, she stopped herself. She listened again. It was definitely a cat meowing. Confused she opened her eyes and blinked to adjust to the moonlight. Taking a few steps back she turned around. Nothing. She could see the gorse bushes pushing against the wind, spiky warriors standing their ground, the blackness of the coast path in front of her, leading to inky blobs of rocks and boulders. It was ten o’clock on a deserted clifftop, her mind must be playing tricks on her, maybe as some cruel final encore. See, you are totally mad, jump off and disappear. A meow again, this time louder.

Beth peered into the darkness in the direction of the sound, still nothing.

‘Hello?’

Another louder meow was followed by two twinkling eyes materialising out from path in front of her. A black mini panther, the size of a domestic cat. The cat meowed again and slinked towards Beth, tail twitching in the air, stopping just in front of her.

Beth crouched down and held her hand out. ‘Hello. What are you doing up here?’

The cat cautiously approached her outstretched hand, sniffed, then rubbed his face against it. Beth scratched him under the chin and stroked his skinny body as it weaved around her hands.

‘You shouldn’t be up here, this wind will blow you off the cliff, you’ve got no weight on you, you silly thing. Do you live close by? Have you even got a home? What am I going to do with you?’ Beth continued her monologue of questions as the cat revelled in her attention and the wind played with her hair.

Beth stood up. ‘Well I can’t do this with you watching me. Do you want to come back with me?’

The cat meowed with perfect timing.

Beth smiled. ‘Just for one night though, I’ll postpone for one night. I’ve no more nights paid at the hotel so I’ll find you somewhere else to go in the morning. Deal?’

The cat meowed and rubbed against her legs.

‘Come on then.’ Beth started to trek back down the coast path towards the bay and the hotel. She glanced behind her, the cat was following her. She chatted to him as she navigated steep banks, slippery leaves and gnarled tree roots attempting to trip her. Every glance back was met with the vision of the black shadow with stars for eyes trotting after her.

Sneaking the cat into the hotel wasn’t a problem. Beth’s room was on the ground floor and there was a back door leading into her corridor from outside. Six stealthy feet scuttled along the corridor and into the room. After flopping onto the bed and partaking in strokes, head nudges and purrs, Beth called for room service, a tuna sandwich, a ham sandwich, and a chicken sandwich. The cat ate the contents of all three and lapped up water from a fine china saucer.

After a cleaning and grooming session the cat curled up next to Beth on the bed and slept soundly. Beth slept soundly for the first time in a long time too.

Beth observed the different shades of black fur on the cat as the morning sunlight seeped in through the curtains. Darkest brown tinges and indigo hues mingled in with the sleek tarry blackness. She felt calm and relaxed watching his belly move in and out contently and rhythmically with her breath. The cat yawned, opened his eyes slowly, and stretched his paw out into her chin, splaying his pads in a furry high five.

‘Good morning to you too.’

The cat licked his fur three times and stood up for a full body yoga stretch. Beth opened the curtains and made herself a coffee and the cat jumped off the bed, sitting knowingly by the patio door.

‘Time to go or do you just need the loo?’

Apparently it wasn’t time to go. After a toilet trip to the hotel flower beds the cat strolled back in for a wash before breakfast. Room service was ordered, extra sausage and extra bacon. Room service was eaten.

Beth’s suitcase was already packed. She’d packed it last night before going to the cliff top. She’d ask them to store her luggage for her until she decided on an altered plan of action. She dialled reception. ‘Hi, this is a strange question but is there anywhere on the island that rehomes cats or takes them in?…No, I found one this morning, I know pets aren’t allowed in rooms.’ She winked at the cat, the cat blinked back. ‘Oh ok, could you book me a taxi to take me there please?…Yes, as soon as possible…Thank you.’

‘I don’t take cats.’ The taxi driver shook his head to confirm this point. ‘They make a mess.’

Beth thought that was ironic considering he was wearing most of his breakfast remains on his sweatshirt, which was indeed sweaty too. ‘It’s my therapy cat. It’s for my anxiety. My disability cat.’

‘I don’t care if your leg has fallen off and your cat is carrying it, it’s not getting in my cab.’

The cat, in Beth’s arms, stretched his mouth wide in a yawn. Beth knew the cat was silently swearing at him. ‘But he’ll stay on my lap the whole time and it’s only a fifteen minute journey.’

‘No.’

‘I’ll pay you double the fare.’

‘Get in.’

The fifteen minute journey occurred in silence. The taxi tore through the tiny country lanes from the south of the island to the north. A fluffy bull, dangling from the rear view mirror, swung along to Coldplay. He’s trying to hang himself, thought Beth, having to put up with this mediocre droning. The cat sat happily on Beth’s lap. His left paw dangled over the edge of her leg and gently rested on the back seat. Beth smiled and whispered ‘rebel’ in her mind.

Beth paid the taxi driver but he drove off from the old farmhouse before she had time to ask him to wait. She kissed the top of the cat’s head and put him down on the driveway. Two chickens stuttered by in the background, the cat observed them casually while staying close to Beth’s legs, tail in the air, alert and wary.

A woman appeared in the garden to the side of the house, carrying a basket of washing. She was short, robust, with sparse spiky grey hair, wearing a blue shirt, jeans tucked into green wellies and a chunky cream cardigan. Beth would guess she was in her late fifties or early sixties.

‘Can I help you?’ Her voice was blunt and it didn’t sound like she wanted to help at all. She walked towards Beth, washing basket still in her arms.

‘Hello, yes, I hope so. I’ve got a cat.’

The woman stared down at the cat, then slowly back up to Beth. ‘Yes, you have.’

‘Well, it’s not really my cat, I found it last night, and it needs a home. The hotel I was staying at gave me your address.’

‘Oh they did, did they.’

‘Yes.’ Beth watched the woman, the cat watched a rogue chicken streak across the drive. Beth felt she was hostage negotiating. ‘I was hoping you could give the cat a home, or you might know someone who can.’

‘Why didn’t you just leave the cat where it was to wander back from where it came?’

‘It was on the top of Beauport Bay cliffs.’

‘At night.’

‘Yes.’

The woman’s face remained impassive. ‘You don’t live here on Jersey then.’

‘No, I was staying at L’horizon hotel.’

‘Was?’

‘It was my last night last night.’

The woman shifted the basket of washing to rest on her right hip and sniffed. ‘What time is your flight?’

‘My flight?’

‘You said it was your last night, are you flying home today? Where is home to you?’

Beth felt herself tense up, where is home seemed a more philosophical than geographical question. ‘Oh, I, um, I’m from Wales, I haven’t booked my flight yet.’

‘I see.’

Aware she was stood soldier-like Beth tried to relax her stance by shifting more of her weight to her left side, she fiddled distractedly with the strap of her bag across her body.

‘What’s your cat’s name?’

‘I don’t know, and it’s not my cat.’

The cat rubbed against Beth’s legs.

‘What’s your name? Or do you not know that either?’

‘Beth.’ Beth found herself in automatic soldier stance again.

‘Well Beth, my name is Susan. Not Sue, or Suzy, or Sooze. Clear?’

‘Um, yes.’

Susan turned and marched off towards the house. Beth and the cat stood side by side watching her.

‘Well don’t just stand there waiting for a bloody written invitation, and bring your shadow too.’

She disappeared through the door and Beth hesitantly followed her in, her shadow padding behind her.

The kitchen was cluttered with crockery, books, and plants, an assault of colours vied for Beth’s attention. An aroma of moth balls, dusty libraries and Deep Heat challenged her nostrils. A large hefty wooden table was in the centre of the room with various sizes of crocheted coasters and placemats of a kaleidoscope of colours scattered on it. Susan was filling a kettle by the cooker.

‘You can have tea from the pot with me or a coffee, only instant coffee though, I have no time to mess about with those silly plunger things.’

‘Instant coffee is fine, thanks.’

The kettle boiled, Susan clattered about with a teapot. ‘Sit down then.’

Beth sat on one of the wooden chairs, the cat jumped up on her lap, massaged her legs while he got comfortable then curled up.

‘And you think he’s not your cat?’

Beth smoothed his fur as he purred. ‘I can’t look after a cat.’

‘Nonsense.’ The teapot, wearing a green and yellow crocheted cosy, was plonked on the table, followed by a mug of coffee emblazoned with ‘I love Ibiza’, followed by a tin of malted milk biscuits.

‘Thank you.’ Beth glanced at her mug. She doubted that Susan had been to Ibiza.

Before she had chance to ask her, an elderly German Shepherd plodded into the room and over to Susan. Susan ruffled his head and smiled.

‘This is Jim. Jim, we have visitors.’

Beth was slightly taken aback by Susan’s smile, it transformed her face so much. She turned her head to the dog. ‘Hello Jim.’

Jim slowly walked to Beth and sniffed her leg and the cat. The cat opened his left eye and studied Jim’s large damp nose and inquisitive eyes. After a brief moment Jim turned and plodded back out of the room.

Susan delved into the biscuits and started to munch on one. ‘Do you like animals?’

‘Of course, I like them more than people.’ Beth looked up to meet Susan’s studying of her. ‘Sorry.’

‘Don’t be, animals are nicer than people, they don’t let you down or leave you.’ Susan pushed the biscuit tin towards Beth. ‘Don’t stand on ceremony.’

‘Thanks.’ Beth took a biscuit out and bit off half.

‘So if you leave your shadow here, what are you going to do next?’

Beth was glad she had a mouthful of biscuit to stall for an answer. She could hardly tell a complete stranger she would probably go throw herself of the cliff tonight. She shrugged. ‘I don’t know.’ Her shaky hands picked up her coffee and she was self consciously aware Susan had noticed this.

Susan slurped her tea. ‘Won’t anyone miss you?’

Beth’s hands gripped the mug handle tight. Had Susan read her mind? She stared into the abyss of coffee. ‘No.’

The following silence felt so deep to Beth, she had an urge to fill it. ‘I have no job, no family, no partner, no children, no friends, just a rented apartment full of dreams and regrets.’ Shocked at her honest revelation she shoved another half of a malted milk in her mouth to stop herself revealing anymore.

Susan nodded solemnly and slid the biscuit tin back towards herself, also taking another biscuit. ‘But now you have your shadow.’

Beth twitched a smile as she looked down at the sleeping cat, her eyes watered. She brushed off an escaped tear and desperately tried to swallow down the remainder of her biscuit without choking.

Susan swigged more tea and topped up her cup from the pot. ‘Do you have bags? A suitcase?’

‘Oh, yes, my suitcase is in storage at the hotel.’

Susan nodded. ‘We’ll go get it after lunch. You can stay in one of my spare rooms. It’s not fancy but it’s got a comfy bed, wallpaper, and a nice wardrobe.’

‘Oh, I couldn’t stay here.’

‘Why not? Are you a thief, a murderer or an arsonist?’

‘No.’

‘No I thought not, so you can stay. Until you decide what you and Shadow are going to do next.’ Susan nodded towards the cat. ‘He thinks you’re someone worth hanging around for, that’s good enough for me.’

‘But, I wouldn’t want to put you out.’

‘You won’t be, I’m not offering you the swanky hotel services you’ve been used to. A bed and board for you both in return for helping me look after the animals here in the kennels. Again, not a hotel, so you’ll eat what I cook for myself or cook and clean up after yourself if you don’t like my cooking.’

Beth realised she’d been holding her breath and exhaled deeply. ‘That’s really kind of you.’

‘Not being kind, I’m using you for cheap labour, my arthritis is playing up and you’ve come along at the right time.’

Beth looked down at Shadow on her lap, then back up to Susan. ‘Yes, I think I have.’

Leap

Published February 17, 2019 by Naomi Rettig

Sat against this rock I am hidden from the world. Invisible and insignificant.

Facing outwards, I hear the ocean caressing the rocks further below me, I see the lit lighthouse standing proud, alone but confident, defiant against the blackness of the unknown ocean stretching ahead of it.

Facing inland I see couples illuminated by candlelight through the restaurant picture windows, laughing, smiling, touching. I don’t know which I’m more envious of, the people exchanging loving looks, or the ocean full of freedom and hypnotic hope.

I don’t think I’ll ever find anyone to look lovingly at me, to be their whole world in that moment and moments more. I am not worthy of another’s love. Even I don’t love myself so how can I expect it from another. No one could find me special, wonderful, their guiding light. I will never be someone’s lighthouse, someone’s restaurant gazer.

I will be the lone rock sitter, the solo sea starer, the self-placed exile. I long to be with someone special, as much as I long to leap into the ocean, to float away from pain. Maybe I should take that leap, find the lighthouse for me.

Why am I so scared of sitting in that window? The remote sea seems less terrifying to me. I have a blackness within, it spreads and dims my vision. It smothers my clarity at times. At times I don’t know if I’ll leap when my dark secret self swirls deep. The sea speaks to me, it says listen to me, follow me, join me, stay with me.

I close my eyes as wind joins waves in beautiful orchestral crescendos.

Inhaling salted air, I breathe life into me.

Today is not a leap day.

Kiss

Published August 26, 2017 by Naomi Rettig

Misty pouted her blood red lips at her reflection. ‘Irresistible.’ She sprayed herself with perfume, Gucci Envy, and smiled. His last gift to her.

There was a knock at the hotel door. Misty took a deep breath. She carefully applied the gloss that she had mixed earlier over her lipstick barrier. Her lips glistened like syrup. A more impatient knock came to the door. She stood and walked over to the door, she undid her silk gown revealing a black corset and overflowing breasts.

She opened the door slowly. ‘Hello Joe.’

The man in front of her, Joe, appraised her body from head to toe, his eyes relocated to her chest when his surveying had finished. ‘What are you doing to me? You’re killing me.’

Misty smirked. ‘You don’t have to come in.’ She stepped back and arched her body slightly, glancing over her shoulder. ‘I just wanted to say goodbye properly.’

She turned fully back into the room, and heard the door close behind her. She dropped her gown to the floor.

Joe slid his arms around her waist. ‘This is definitely the last time,’ he whispered.

Misty felt his warm breath on her neck. ‘Definitely.’

‘I can’t leave her, not now.’ Joe’s fumbling hands stumbled up to her breasts.

‘Not now she’s pregnant.’ Misty twisted in Joe’s arms so she was facing him. ‘It’s ok Joe, you can say it. I’ve calmed down now.’ She started to undo his shirt. Her red nails a contrast to the white cotton. ‘You were going to leave her, weren’t you?’

‘Of course.’ Joe’s breathing got deeper as his eyes flitted between Misty’s fingers unbuttoning him and her slightly wobbling cleavage.

Misty finished unbuttoning his shirt. ‘I love you Joe, I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. Did you want that too? Did you want to be with me forever?’

Joe refocused to Misty’s hypnotizing dark eyes. ‘Yes, but -’

She placed her index finger on his lips and trailed it down to the bottom lip, parting them slightly, then releasing. ‘Tell me that you love me.’

‘I love you.’

Misty lifted her face to his, she saw his nostrils flare slightly as he smelt her perfume. ‘Kiss me.’

Joe immediately locked lips with Misty, like a screw on a magnet. They kissed with the hungriness of hyenas devouring prey. Misty pulled Joe down onto the bed. His hand slid up her leg to her inner thigh.

Misty stopped his hand going higher and pulled her lips away from his. ‘Hold me.’

Joe tried to kiss her neck. ‘But I haven’t got long.’

‘I know.’ She smiled sweetly, while pulling him closer and kissed him gently.

The slow tender kissing gave way to faster primal kissing and Joe started to fumble with his trousers, trying to undo them while staying glued to Misty’s lips.

Misty reached down and blocked Joe’s hand. ‘No.’

Joe froze. ‘What?’

‘You’re not using me anymore my love.’ Her hand moved up and stroked his face.

Joe frowned and studied her eyes. ‘But you called me? You said you needed to say goodbye properly? I thought this was going to be our last time together, to say goodbye.’

‘We can say goodbye without having sex.’

Joe pulled away from Misty and did his trousers up. ‘Why invite me here, to a hotel room? We could have just met for a drink.’

‘We couldn’t have met for a drink, that would be too public. I needed you here in private. I needed that kiss from you, now you couldn’t have kissed me like that in the pub, with prying eyes everywhere.’ Misty smiled at Joe, her red lipstick in place but the gloss gone.

Joe sighed and rolled onto his back, his hands flat on the bed. ‘If you’re trying to make me leave her again it’s not going to happen. You know I can’t.’ He glanced across at Misty. ‘Even though I want to.’

Misty shuffled closer and placed her hand on his chest. ‘I know you want to. That’s why I’m doing this.’

‘Doing what?’

‘I mean, if you’d said you didn’t love me anymore, or that you’d just be using me, of course I’d be heart broken, but in time and tears I would have got over you.’

Joe rolled back onto his side. ‘Doing what Misty?’

‘We both want to be together forever.’ Misty cupped his face lightly. ‘Just the two of us for eternity.’

Joe pulled away quickly. ‘What have you done to Claire?’

‘I haven’t done anything to her, why would I?’

Joe sat upright. ‘To be with me, to get her out of the way.’

‘I can’t believe you’d think I’d hurt her, pregnant too. I’m not a monster.’ Misty sat up too. ‘And if I hurt her I’d go to prison, and we’d still be apart.’

‘So what are you talking about?’

Before Misty had chance to reply Joe doubled up and moaned a guttural groan, collapsing back down onto the bed.

‘It’s started my love.’ Misty cradled Joe in her arms and stroked his hair. ‘It’ll start with me soon. My lipstick will have stopped it absorbing as quick into my system.’

Joe contorted in pain. ‘What have you done?’

‘Ssh, ssh, it’s all going to be ok. I put strychnine into my lip gloss.’ She kissed his forehead, then drew her knees up to her stomach. ‘It’s happening to me now too.’

‘You’re crazy.’ Joe started to pant.

‘Crazy for you my love. We will always be together now, for eternity.’