Heads or Tails

“Heads, we get married; tails, we break up.” I held the coin in my trembling hand. Our lucky coin. The one that had brought us together. Would it keep us together forever or force us apart this time?

“Do it,” she said. It came out as a whisper.

I flipped the coin. It seemed to twirl in the air in slow motion, taunting us. For a brief moment our eyes met, a hint of fear and hope in her pine green eyes. My mind transported me to the moment we first met.

 

It was a Tuesday afternoon and the weather indicated that the Gods were angry. Rain was pouring down like it intended to drown us. The sound of thunder struck all the way through to my bones. The windscreen wipers were working hard to fight off the smashing raindrops that attempted to disrupt my vision of the small country road that I was on. Wipe, wipe, wipe.

The road was muddy and I was driving too fast. My knuckles were white. Perhaps if I drove fast enough I could escape it all. Can you outrun your problems? Can you outrun your life?

It was too late when I saw the dark green Mini Cooper parked at the side of the road. I jerked on the steering wheel and hit the break at the same time. The car slipped and ended up against the wooden gate that set apart the paddock. Smoke came from the bonnet and I tried starting the car again without success. When I glanced back, the green Mini Cooper was still parked, unharmed. The rain made it hard to make out, but I saw a person in red.

Vicious raindrops settled in the fabric of my black suit and travelled over the pores of my face. I slammed the door and came from behind my car. A slushing sound as my leather shoes got sucked into the mud.

“Are you okay?” A woman’s voice shouted.

I looked up and saw a woman in a red coat. She was completely soaked and shivering. Her high heels had almost completely disappeared in the mud.

“I’m fine. Are you?”

“My car broke down.” She pointed at her car as if I hadn’t seen it yet.
“Did you call someone?”

“My phone is dead.” Her voice sounded higher.

“Don’t worry, mine isn’t. Let’s just get in our cars before we drown or something.”

“Come sit in mine, smoke is coming of yours.” She flashed a smile as if to apologise for that fact without actually apologising.

Her car was warm and it smelt like vanilla.

“My whole hair is soaked, I must look like a drowned cat.” She brushed her bleached blonde hair out of her face.

“It’s just rain.”

“That’s easy for you to say, you’re practically bald. It suits you, by the way.”

I shifted in my seat.

“And you’re wearing a nice suit. Are you going somewhere fancy?”

“No.” I cleared my throat. “I just came from a funeral.”

She stopped touching her hair and looked at me.

“Someone died? Someone you cared about?”

“Yes and no. It was my father.”

“You didn’t care about him?”

I didn’t say anything.

“Well, after we call for help, why don’t we go somewhere? Take your mind off things.”

I must have looked like she had suggested to travel to the moon on a pillow, because she burst out in a melodious laugh.

“I know, don’t go with strangers right? Tell you what, let’s flip a coin for it. Heads is you go with me; tails is we go our separate ways.” She grabbed a coin from her purse and handed it to me. “It’s my lucky coin. Go ahead.” A smile grew on her face.

I tossed the coin, caught it and smacked it on the back of my other hand.

She placed her hand over mine. “Quick, what did you hope for?”

“What?”

“Everybody hopes for an answer during the toss, whatever you’re hoping for is your answer.”

 

The coin landed in my hand and I placed it on the back of my hand. “What did you hope for?”

Her eyes searched mine. Then she smiled.

I smiled back.

“We should probably reserve a church straight away,” she said.
“A church? Don’t you want to marry outside?”

Silence.

“Flip a coin?”

 

 flippingCoin

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Shadow of a Doubt

In one swift motion Yumi Yoshida turned around. There was nothing to see, the car park was empty except for her Yamaha motorcycle and one dark Mercedes. She heard the sound of a howling dog again. It sounded like it came from the adjoining park. If you could even call it that, it was just trees and a sea of grass stretched out as far as the eye could see. Nothing but total darkness surrounded the car park and the pub she was heading towards.

Yumi turned back and kept her eyes on the pub. She had been here before to check out the place, but she hadn’t yet been inside. The ice cold wind caused her to shiver and she quickened her pace. She could hear the rapid tapping sound of her high heels on the pavement that was still wet from the rain earlier that evening. She brushed her hair out of her face and checked her watch. It was exactly midnight. A few lampposts poorly lit up the car park. From a distance it would seem like the pub and car park were floating in darkness, like a miniscule planet floating in space.

Walking in an empty car park towards a pub that was situated on a hill in the middle of nowhere at midnight may have sparked fear in any woman in her late twenties but not in Yumi Yoshida. She was the kind of woman who could handle herself. She had moved to London from Kyoto when she was ten and ever since she turned eighteen she had been moving around the country doing what she did best.

She reached the back of the establishment and stepped into a red telephone box that was placed at the left corner. There was an old, wet newspaper on the floor with a distorted picture of some child, and the phone was hanging off the hook. It smelled like urine and coffee. Yumi picked the phone up by the cord and took out a handkerchief to clean the phone before putting it to her ear.

A brief moment later she stepped out of the telephone box and walked to the front of the building. She stopped to look inside. It was a small pub with bad lighting. The radio was playing popmusic in the background. Behind the bar stood a middle aged bartender cleaning a couple of beerglasses, she couldn’t see his face. In the reflection of the window, she saw her long, dark hair frame her face. Her long fringe covered her eyebrows and beneath the dark strands she could see her lightblue contacts. She only ever put them in when she had to work.

She stepped inside and smelled fish, chips and grease. She walked straight on to the only other person sitting in the pub. His back was turned towards her. “Is this seat taken?” she asked and sat down without awaiting a reply.

“Go ahead,” said the man and pushed his glasses back. It was a man in his thirties with short, sandy hair and hazelnut eyes. He wore a grey suit with a deep-purple shirt and violet tie. “You must be…”

“I am, Mr. Stone,” Yumi interrupted.

“So, what should I call you?”

“Call me Yami.”

“Is that your real name?” he asked.

“Almost, but the meaning is more accurate.”

“What does it mean?”

“I’ll tell you later. First things first.”

The man nodded and touched his glasses again. “Well, I’m married.”

“They always are. I assumed that’s why you contacted me.”

He looked down at his coffee and moved in his chair. He then loosened his tie before he spoke again, somewhat softer than before. “Her name is Heather and here’s her picture.” From his breast pocket he took a picture and slid it to her side of the table. Yumi picked it up and saw it was a picture of them together, holding each other and smiling, happy and unaware. They seemed so at ease, so at home with each other no matter where they would be. How could it have come to this? There is no such thing as true, unconditional love, except maybe with babies and dogs. She couldn’t help but wonder if it meant that the smarter you are, the less you become capable of loving.

Yumi snorted. The man looked up. “I got it,” she said and wanted to slide the picture back but the man said: “No, keep it. I don’t need it anymore.” He then finished his coffee and they sat in silence for a moment. Yumi was observing him and couldn’t help but think he didn’t seem like the type of man who was capable of doing any harm. Usually she could tell for sure, and if she couldn’t she had time to shadow someone, but in this case everything had gone so fast. It seemed understandable considering the case.

“Do you have many…clients?” he suddenly asked, breaking the silence and interrupting her in her thoughts.

“I have enough,” was her reply.

“Don’t you ever find it difficult? I mean, because you’re a woman…well, I mean…”

“No, I don’t. I’m good at what I do, which means people are willing to pay for something I can give them. It’s that simple.”

“Is it really that easy?”

She just tapped her fingers on the table. It didn’t make a sound though, because she was still wearing her gloves. She narrowed her eyes at him.

He had a frown on his face and was unconsiously tapping his indexfinger on his watch. “Life really is all about money, isn’t it?” His voice sounded gentle. Yumi remained silent. He got up to go to the lavatory and excused himself.

Yumi leaned back and let out a sigh. She still had the picture in her hand and looked at it again. She was actually thankful for the life she had, at least she had the chance to do something meaningful.

After a couple of minutes she saw Mr. Stone coming out of the lavatory and got up. She gestured towards the exit and dropped a twenty pound note at the bar. Then she walked towards the door with Mr. Stone on her heels.

Together they walked past the building back to the car park. Yumi closed her eyes when the cold wind struck against her face. She had kept on her leather jacket and gloves inside, which made the drop in temperature very welcome. “You said both was fine, but I brought cash with me. I figured that would be harder to trace,” Mr. Stone suddenly explained.

“It is,” Yumi said coldly.

He unlocked the car with his key fob as they nearly reached it. Yumi looked around and noticed it was still as deserted as when she had arrived. The car was right beneath a lamppost and when Mr. Stone opened a briefcase in the trunk she could clearly see all the money in it. “Half up front and after, right?”

“Yes, Mr. Stone. That’s correct.”

“Considering what you’re about to do, you can call me…”

“No,” Yumi interrupted. “I don’t want to know any first names. It’s easier that way.”

“But then…you know my wife’s name.” The light of the lamppost reflected in his glasses.

“That’s not a problem in this case,” Yumi answered and walked slowly to his other side.

“You know, you still haven’t told me what your name means.”

“Darkness.”

He opened his mouth to say something but closed it again.

“Why do you want to do this to your wife?”

He grimaced. Not in an evil way, but more like he was disguising his discomfort. He put his hand in his jacket and Yumi automatically reached for her gun. He took out a picture and handed it to her. It was the picture of a little boy. He had brown hair and freckles and his broad smile showed he was missing two front teeth.

“That’s my son. He was from my first marriage.”

“Was?”

“Yes, he died a few months ago. My wife has always treated him very poorly, without me knowing. I was always at work and even though I noticed he was mostly quiet, I thought it was because he missed his mother. But then I found his diary and even though his death was technically an accident, I can’t help but feel she’s responsible. I can’t even look at her anymore and I don’t remember the last time I said more than a sentence to her.”

“So you never abused her daughter?”

“What? What are you talking about? We don’t even have children together.”

“I see. Well, that’s what she told me.”

He looked down and fumbled his watch.

“I’m saying she found out what you were going to do and she wanted to beat you to it.”

Even though it was cold outside, little drops of sweat began to form on his forehead. He was mumbling incoherently.

Yumi closed the trunk. “Don’t worry, I don’t take money from a dead man.”

She saw him tremble. “If you’re going to kill me, just do…”

“No.”

Everything happened fast from that moment on. She’d taken her knife and cut the palm of his hand. Following her instructions he had held his hand over the front seat of his car. He had put his tie around his hand to stop the blood from spilling on the ground. He left his car keys in the ignition and only took the briefcase. It didn’t matter if his wife thought she’d taken the money. Now, he had a chance to start over.

Yumi walked back to the telephone box and dialed the number she had dialed before. “It is done,” Yumi coldly stated.

“I’m transferring the other half now,” the woman said.

“Alright, Mrs. Stone, goodbye.”

Yumi took a deep breath before stepping out in the cold wind. Her black hair moved fiercely in front of her face, dancing. She ripped up the picture of the happy couple and the wind blew away the pieces into the darkness.

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My First Day

It all happened on my first day of school…as a teacher. I was extremely nervous and worst of all…late. Late for my first day of work! Who would be late for their first day of work?! Well, I was, obviously. Anyway, I’ll start at the beginning to make sure I leave nothing out, and trust me; you’d want to know everything…

 

Putting on my coat, I hurried down the steps outside my house. I still had an apple in my mouth. The only breakfast I had. But I’d worry about that later. I had to get to school. This was my first job, I couldn’t mess it up now. I hadn’t even begun.

The school wasn’t far from my home. Two blocks and I’d be there.

I crossed Lancaster Road, after finally having put on my coat. I meant to take my apple out of my mouth, instead I dropped my school bag. I sighed and bent down to pick it up. Suddenly I heard a rattling sound and looked up. It was a car. A car  heading towards me. Hadn’t the driver seen me? Before I could even move I heard a bang. It went way too fast. All I remembered was the sound of me getting hit by the car and before I knew it, I was lying on the floor and the apple was rolling on the street.

I woke up in hospital, and when I realised where I was I sat up straight. I felt my head and looked at my hands, moved my legs, which moved, and said my name out loud. Everything still worked. I felt great, actually. How could I feel great? I got hit by a car!

“Mr. Lawson?” asked a voice. It was the doctor. At least I thought it was, because he was wearing one of those white coats and a stethoscope. Besides, how else could he know my name?

“Yes,” I answered.

 

Half an hour later I walked out of the hospital. I couldn’t believe I had survived a hit and run. I couldn’t believe I had even been in one. No bruises. No cuts. Nothing. They probably wouldn’t believe my story at school. Or maybe I shouldn’t mention I got hit by a car. Say that I saw someone else get hit. No. No lies on my first day of work.
I was nearly there and I couldn’t stop thinking about the accident. It had happened so fast and I couldn’t believe the car had driven on. After hitting me! What kind of car was it anyway? Had I seen the driver?
I looked at the road and watched the cars pass by. My heart stopped for a second when I saw a blue car. I suddenly remembered the car had been blue! Dark blue to be more specific. The doctor had asked me if I wanted to press charges and I had even spoken with the police, but they couldn’t help since I didn’t remember anything. Now I did. I couldn’t go now though, I’d had to go after work. If I still had work to go to.

I arrived two hours late and walked straight to the headmaster’s office. I had met him only once; when I got hired. It had been a brief meeting, since they had needed someone quickly and I was the first one to apply.

I knocked on the door. “Enter,” he said loud and firmly. When I walked in, the headmaster looked up from his desk. His expression changed immediately, he looked somewhat nervous and pale. “Er, why are you so l…late?” he asked while fumbling with his tie.
“I’m sorry, sir. I got hit by a car on my way to school. I just came from the hospital,” I replied.

He didn’t reply. He just stared at me. He seemed a little worried.

“I’m fine, though,” I said reassuringly. “Suprisingly enough.”

“Well, that certainly is a surprise. You better get to work then, English isn’t going to teach itself. The kids were already put to work by someone else, but you can take over now.” He stood up and reached the door in a few strides.

“I have an important lunch date now. If you need anything…Well, the hospital is nearby as you already know. A colleague will cover for you if necessary.”

He opened the door and I watched him walk away. I rubbed my chin and couldn’t shake the weird feeling that had settled in the pit of my stomach.

Heading in the direction of my classroom, I walked past the entrance and saw the headmaster getting in his car. I suddenly stopped and, for a moment, I think my heart did too. I recognised the car. There was even a slight dent in the bonnet, or so it seemed. It was a dark blue Opel Corsa. I remembered. I even remembered the reflection of the driver’s glasses as he sat behind the wheel. The headmaster, my boss, wore glasses. He had that car. That same car. He hit me. He hit me and then ran.
My legs were shaking, my head was spinning. I wasn’t feeling too well. I saw spots, it got dark. I passed out. Right then and there. I fell, fainted, hit the floor, lay there.

 

I heard a piercing, ringing sound next to my ear. Because of the rough awakening I nearly fell out of bed. I was sweating and my heart was racing. I stopped my alarm clock and looked at the time and date. I sighed with relief and started laughing. It was all a dream. Very vivid, but just a dream. However, I was running late and quickly got dressed. I took my stuff and grabbed an apple. I quickly put on my coat and walked out the door. I looked at my watch. Still on time. It had been just a dream.

I had nearly reached the street where I got hit in the dream. I took a bite of my apple and looked at the sky. It was going to be a wonderful day, I was sure of it.

At that moment I heard a big bang. I looked ahead. A man was lying on the ground. A car quickly drove away. I could hear the screeching tires.

It was the car from my dream. It was my boss’ car…in my dream. What could that mean? It had been just a dream, right?

People were gathering around the man. Some were calling for an ambulance. I couldn’t watch. I quickly walked by and started running. I had to get to work. For several reasons.
When I got there, I was out of breath. I suddenly heard someone coming in my direction. I looked to the left. The headmaster hurried past me. He walked so fast I didn’t get a chance to greet him. Not that I could have if I had wanted to, I was still trying to catch my breath. I walked to the left and looked at the cars. A red car, a green car, a dark blue car. A dark blue Opel Corsa. A dark blue Opel Corsa with a dent in the bonnet.

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