This is the third time you have been sent to my office this week, Miss Campbell,” said the head mistress – a grey haired old crone with a chin so pointed it could cut ice.
She wasn’t wrong though. It was the third time that week I had been in her office.
“Martin Burrows stole my glasses,” I explained. “I told him to leave me alone.”
“You cut him pretty deeply,” the headmistress scorned.
When I dragged the knife across his arm I must have hit an artery because there was a fountain of blood.
“Where did you get the knife?”
“The cafeteria. I was cutting my meat and he attacked me,” said I.
The head mistress surveyed me. I don’t know how much of my story she believed, if any. It was lucky for me though that I wasn’t the only one to complain about Martin lately.
“I’ve been trying to contact your parents but there has been no answer.”
My parents weren’t speaking much to anyone lately. Not they way I had left them.
“They’ve been busy,” I told the teacher.
The head mistress sighed.
“You are a bright girl, Tracey. Perhaps a little too bright sometimes. You have ambition and if you focus on that you will achieve great things.” She paused for a moment and looked down at her desk. “After the incident with Martin his mother may wish to get the police involved.”
That was fine by me. I expected that anyway. Who are they likely to believe anyway? That cheeky no user who gave the teachers nothing but grief or the little girl in pigtails and spectacles who aced most of her classes, kept herself to herself and did charity work. The head mistress was right about another thing. I did have ambition. I had ambition by the bucket loads. One day I would be a doctor and nothing was going to stand in the way of that. Not even bullies like Martin with his nasty, sneering face. I would open his throat before I allowed that to happen. My parents could attest to that.
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For more of Tracey’s murderous adventures check out the Confessions of an Anatomist short story as part of the Myths and Tales collection!
September 14, 2017 | Categories: My Silly Little Confessions, Thrill Reads | Tags: author, confessions, confessions of an anatomist, humour, murder, My Silly Little Confessions, Myths and Tales, thriller, tracey campbell, vivika widow | Leave a comment
Of all my stories THE GRIP tends to get the biggest reaction. It draws a lot of emotions that many people would much rather not face. No one likes the idea of their loved one suffering and equally no one likes to feel like they are an emotional burden. In this fast paced modern world it is so easy to lose touch and not even realise it. There has never been so many ways to communicate and keeping in touch has never been easier but with the modern technology comes a certain disconnect. They are just words on a screen.
THE GRIP raises the issue of mental health. The depression and anxiety that eventually leads to tragedy is unfortunately not something reserved for fiction. It is something that many people face every day. There is still a lot of stigma attached to those who are fighting depression and/or anxiety. However, one thing I hope was clear throughout THE GRIP was that tragedy could have been avoided if the son was willing to speak of what was bothering him and the mother was willing to listen. It seems simple but sometimes simple solutions are the best.
I have fought the demons of depression and anxiety myself and it is tough. I hope that people reading THE GRIP will be able to see that there was help there, just like there is help available in the real world.
To my friends who are currently facing mental health issues, know that we love you, we are there for you.
The Grip is available for download!
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I had a happy life – to a point. A dedicated husband and two beautiful children, Noah and Violet. The little red head who hung around the house more often than was appropriate seemed a constant reminder that my husband’s dedication wasn’t to me but he was dedicated none the less.
Both of our children should have been set for life as heirs to a great fortune but since they were small they have had this inexplicable need to get rid of each other.
We live in the coastal town of Melway. Our own house – a large, crooked, stand alone structure with three floors – sits on the edge of a cliff. A forty foot drop into the rocks below awaits anyone who takes the wrong steps along the pathway. The house has been in the Regard family for generations. It was probably the most beautiful and grandest house in the area once upon a time but now it is a cold and empty vessel housing the Regard children until came of age to move to somewhere more cosmopolitan or one kills the other.
As a family we were close. We didn’t talk much but when we did we shared everything. Violet told me on more than one occasion she wanted to see her brother dead and as far as Noah was concerned the sentiment was mutual. What little scamps they were.
Violet was the most boisterous of the two. She rarely stayed indoors. She was always running, never walking. She climbed trees and even got into fights with the local boys. Noah was much quieter. He would spend hours in the library reading through volumes and volumes that he could barely understand yet. A great, unquestionable thirst for knowledge had my little Noah. He had many friends but kept them at a distance. He was his own favourite companion. The year or so he had spent as an only child had been a blissful time for him. He had my undivided attention as well as the sole attention of the staff who helped around The Grange. As is the norm with more than one child in a family the attentions were split. Noah probably grew a resentment towards baby Violet from there, growing stronger as they grew up. Violet no doubt felt this from her brother and sowed seeds of her own resentment.
Everything at The Grange must have seemed heavenly to those on the outside looking in. That was until my death and that is where this story begins.
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If your son took his own life would you be able to put shattered pieces together? Could you unravel the secret he tried to take to his own grave.
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Torrance Media will match £1 for every copy claimed to Ragdolls UK Foundation for girls with Turner’s Syndrome.
Something had to be done. After her sister – in – law, Alice, died, Elizabeth had stepped in to help her brother take care of the two children left behind. The eldest, Catherine, was no longer a problem. She had been sent to boarding school in the city. George, a boy of seven, was proving to be more than she could handle. Elizabeth wasn’t long home from the hospital after losing her leg in the alleged accident and should have been resting.
She had no children of her own so she wasn’t prepared for the emotional strain. Alice always complained about how difficult motherhood was and how her children were uncontrollable at times – especially George. She even said there were times she hated the blonde haired, blue eyed child she had bore. Elizabeth didn’t believe her. Whenever she saw her nephew at holidays or on short visits throughout the year he seemed a normal boy to her. He was a little spoiled perhaps but that was to be expected from his privileged upbringing.
When Elizabeth moved in she quickly realised there was a distinct difference between seeing the children on holidays and providing full time care for them. She begged Ernest to take his son in hand more but her brother showed no interest in the boy. He was consumed almost completely with the running of the investment firm that their father left to him.
One afternoon at the club she overheard her neighbour, Mrs Peterson, discuss a local music tutor. They spoke amongst themselves with barely a smile to offer Elizabeth. She didn’t blame them – not after what George had done to Oliver, one of Mrs Peterson’s twin boys. The news of the music tutor was helpful to her though. Piano concertos were all that seemed to calm George down some days.
‘Perhaps music lessons would give him something more positive to focus on,’ she reasoned.
Hesitantly Mrs Peterson gave Elizabeth the number where the tutor could be reached. He had been teaching her twins for some time now and she vouched that they were making remarkable progress on piano and cello.
“He may refuse to teach George,” Mrs Peterson warned with a slight sneer crinkling the bridge of her long nose. Elizabeth ignored her and noted the number in the small silver notebook she always carried with her. “Don’t tell him it was my recommendation,” the neighbour added. The sneer became more prominent. Elizabeth’s first instinct was to protect her nephew but having been the one to find Oliver Peterson covered in so much blood it was difficult to argue George’s innocence.
Later that afternoon she tried the tutors number.
“Good afternoon. Vincent Baines speaking. Can I help you?” asked a polite voice.
“Good afternoon, Mr Baines. I was just wondering if you were accepting any new students?”
The voice on the other end drew away for a few moments. “I have room for one or two more,” he replied.
“He’s seven years old and he has a fondness for piano,” explained Elizabeth.
“Yes…” Vincent said as though writing something down.
“We were hoping for perhaps two hours a week. We have our own piano at home.”
“That’s fine. I can stop by Wednesday around five.”
Elizabeth bit her lip. She couldn’t understand why the thought of the tutor refusing her nephew made her so nervous. Perhaps because she felt Vincent was her last hope.
“Actually, would you be able to come tomorrow at eight? Before school? It’s not for a lesson, it would be just to meet him. He doesn’t do well with strangers and he will find it easier if he meets you first,” she hoped she sounded more confident than she felt.
“Of course,” said Vincent. “I look forward to seeing you then.”
Vincent’s voice had a delicate balance of warmth and formality that was well practiced. Elizabeth gave the address of the Beckingridge Manor and rang off.
She didn’t know what she would tell George about his new lessons or how he would take the news. He would just have to accept it. She was the adult and was doing something proactive. She couldn’t have another death in the house or another police investigation.
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Jessica knew she couldn’t stop him. Her son, Dorian, had been given a place at the prestigious Filton University and it was a dream come true for him. It would be selfish of her to pull him back because she was afraid to be alone. It wasn’t his fault his father left, no more than it was hers. She knew Dorian felt guilty anyway. He was a sensitive boy and felt some kind of responsibility to become head of their little household. She felt guilty too because she let it happen. She allowed Dorian to look after her when, as a boy, he should have been learning to live his own life. She was a grown woman. She should have been able to look after herself. The mother – son dynamic changed when Walter left. Now she didn’t know how to live any other way.
His eyes darted over the acceptance when he first opened the letter. A smile caused to greyness of his eyes to glint. His lips traced a smile. Jessica watched him. She knew what it meant. The full realisation of what it meant must have clouded over him too because the warmth of excitement cooled like a dying ember.
“I got in,” was all he said.
Jessica managed a smile to match his own. She took her son’s shoulders and pulled him close in an embrace. She felt him shudder slightly. He pulled back and pushed the mop of bottled black hair from his eyes. He nibbled on his lip piercing.
“I’ll come back all the time,” he said knowing the cause of the tension over what should have been good news.
Jessica shook her head. “Don’t worry about me,”she said.
She tried her brave face. She wished she could be more convincing because Dorian looked tired – not a teen boy at all but a weary man who had seen too much.
The celebrated that night by going out to dinner. They picked one of Jessica’s favourite restaurants. Dorian paid. As the son discussed how excited he was for the new chapter in his life, Jessica listened attentively with a beam of pride, hoping Dorian couldn’t hear the thud of her heart at the prospect of him leaving her. Filton wasn’t millions of miles away from the little suburb they lived in but it would mean she wouldn’t see him every day as she was used to.
The day of departure came. Dorian decided to travel alone. He pulled a large rucksack containing everything he deemed important enough to take with him onto his back and he hesitated by the door.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to come with you?” she asked.
Dorian shook his head. “Why don’t you come visit me next week after I’ve had the chance to settle in,” he offered.
Jessica kissed him and held him tightly. “Be safe,” she said.
They both drew back tears and swallowed the separation anxiety.
Jessica knew she would have been selfish to make him stay. Looking back now it would have been better. He would still be with her. He would still be alive.
He was such a sensitive boy after all. As he looked back at her with a wave from the end of the pathway she never would have thought it would be the last time she would see him.
For a limited time only THE GRIP is FREE to download!
Torrance Media will match £1 for every copy to support Ragdolls UK Foundation for girls with Turner’s Syndrome.
Click HERE to claim your copy.
1- ALL IN A NAME
Main character Dorian was named after ‘Dorian Gray’ from Oscor Wilde’s ‘Picture of Dorian Gray’. Incidentally the short story also features a Professor Wilde.
2 – MENTAL HEALTH DISCUSSION
Vivika believes in the importance of discussing mental health issues and opening up discussion about depression. Exploring this the reader is lead to wonder what may have happened if Dorian were to talk to his loving mother about the issues he was facing.
3 – DEMONS IN US ALL
Throughout the story Dorian is plagued by demons. His depression and his guilt has manifested itself into a form he recognises.
4 – COLLEGE CLASSMATES
Dorian’s room mate, Kelsey, is a medical student. It is mentioned that he borrowed an anatomy text book from one of his fellow medics. This fellow medic who climbed to a B grade in a relatively short space of time is Tracey Campbell who features in the Confessions series. (Confessions of an Anatomist, My Silly Little Confessions). The same university was also attended by Vincent Baines and Daniel Weir (Maestro).
5 – WHO’S TRULY TO BLAME?
Some say Jessica should not have allowed herself to lose contact with her son. If she hadn’t tragedy may have been avoided. Others feel that Dorian’s interfering friend Juliet is responsible and there are some who believe that Dorian alone should have reached out for help.
6 – HAND WRITTEN
Like many Vivika Widow novel, ‘The Grip’ was completely hand written prior to being published.
7 – THE GRIP
The title comes from the depression that has gripped Dorian so tightly he is unable to shake it off.
8 – COUSINS
Dorian’s girlfriend, Juliet, is a cousin of Daniel Weir (Maestro)
9 – JESSICA FEATURES IN MAESTRO
The bus trip that Jessica takes to the university after receiving the tragic news is the same bus trip Catherine Beckingridge makes from her boarding school (Maestro). In Maestro, Catherine takes note of a distressed woman travelling alone who has tragedy written on her face.
10 – AWARD WINNER
‘The Grip’ is short listed for the Costa Coffee short story award!
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