Life is too short to be a lie.
Another day with the usual insult pushed through the letter box. The pattern rarely varies, the insults are always of the same vein, always from the same people.
The police will do nothing since there is nothing they can do, they have already done what they can against those who keep sending her the insults.
The insults, however, were a minor thing compared to the threat of bodily harm. And it was only a matter of time before that became an unwanted reality.
There was only one option left, and thankfully she was ready to implement it after months of work and planning.
With any luck it would be the end of the insults and a new life far away from those who are a threat to her.
Looking around the barren living room, her few possessions already packed and ready to go, she takes her mobile phone from a pocket, flips it open and taps in the intended number.
"Hello? Aye, it's Miss Jenes, Sarah Jenes. We spoke a few days ago about the moving costs and that I would be requiring the help of your company in order to move. That time will be perfect, thank you. I'll be here. Aye, I'll need help getting things into the new house. The price isn't a problem, are you okay with my paying half now and the last half once the moving is complete? Excellent. I'll be here waiting then, thank you"
A New Start:
A touch to the left, hmm, doesn't look right there. Okay then, a touch to the right, just a slight touch. Much better.
Nodding with satisfaction, Sarah steps back and looks around her new living room. Since she didn't have much in the way of furnishings, nor of decent furniture for the time being other than a bed which had been placed into the bedroom upstairs - a wardrobe, also upstairs, two dresser drawers also upstairs and a couple of tables one in the kitchen and one here in the living room - as well as a basic, and fairly worn, recliner, then getting things into place had been easy enough.
Any other possessions like her few remaining books, the few that hadn't been destroyed by those who had broke into her old home and tried to set it alight and failing when Sarah had managed to put out the blaze before it had gotten worse, although not before the attempted murderers had destroyed the majority of what she had owned, were all sorted out.
Thanking the men from the moving company who had helped her to move here and saying goodbye when they left, Sarah Jenes, 32 years old, makes a mental note to begin a long session of furniture shopping, clothes shopping and other items tomorrow while also paying the other half of the moving costs.
All the paperwork was already done and the only person from her old place who knew she had moved was her mum, who had promised to tell no one else for the sake of her daughter's safety.
"So much to be done. But first I should clear my head, a nice walk and getting my bearings in my new home should be just what I need" That thought set and accepted, Sarah slips her coat on and heads out, locking the front door after her.
A new start, hopefully, in a new home.
As he walks alone in the darkening streets, the setting sun spreading shadows from the houses and other buildings that he passes by, he has a stray thought
Could the heart be considered broken if it is still in one piece and beating?
A thought perhaps for another time, if there is another time. Head low, tears threatening to spill from the heart break, of the betrayal, he walks towards a place he knows that no one will be at.
He does not see a woman looking at him, a worried expression on her face. She watches him head for the outskirts of the village and she notes his walk, a familiar one, one that she herself knew all too well.
She sets off after him, determined to stop him from what he was clearly planning to do.
Being sure not to startle him, Sarah keeps a steady pace behind the man she had seen walk past her house seconds after she had locked her door.
Although he was at a distance from her, she recognised the tell tale signs of someone with a broken heart and the set determination to end that pain.
It was familiar to her since for years she had tried to end her own life, although not from a broken heart, but from something considerably more destructive.
Not wanting to risk shouting out, in case it causes the man to run and make it hard for her to catch up to him since she doesn't know the area well enough yet, she instead keeps at a brisk pace behind him and hopes she can move fast enough should he do what she believes he is going to do.
"My first day in my new home and it looks like I'm going to be heroine. Well if this is what's meant to be, then I better give my best effort"
The man's grief stricken walk is brisk, his head is low and the few shining glimmers of tears in the setting sun light are easy to see. Someone he had cared about had either broken up with him or died, most likely broken up with him.
Not that the reason was her concern, the actions after were a concern for the moment.
No one sees them leaving the village, nor do they see her following him. No vehicles of the wheeled kind pass for the two miles that they walk, Sarah keeping at a distance as she follows the man who doesn't notice that he is being followed.
The sun set turns into darkness, the slight chill in the air becomes colder. Thankful that her body's natural fat deposits are helping a little with keeping her warm, although they would need to be replenished soon, Sarah keeps a steady pace while the unknown man continues to walk to wherever he is intending on doing something that was not a wise idea.
Speed was going to be the factor here.
How could she betray him like that? After all he had done for her, all he had sacrificed so that she could be happy? So that they could be happy together? Did she not care that he could be there for her more than the asshole she had now shacked up with?
He had never been angry with her, he had never hurt her, yet she had turned around and told him that he wasn't worth loving. Five years, five bloody years and she did this to him.
Ungrateful, cold hearted, selfish. Whatever word fit her actions, it was not strong enough.
Turning off the path onto a rocky path, he continues to walk, still not seeing the woman behind him also turning off from the rocky path and keeping close.
He doesn't feel the cold night air, nor does he feel the light pain in his legs from the clumsy walk on the rocky path here. He only feels his despair.
He stops finally and looks out at the night horizon. The sky is slightly cloudy and the quarter moon is slightly concealed.
"Not like anyone will care for something like me, it isn't like I can ever be loved since I am clearly not good enough" He takes out a picture from his pocket and looks at it, the limited light from the quarter moon showing the picture as best as able.
A tear falls on it.
Then throwing the picture away and watching it float down to the ocean below, he takes a step forward to join it.
"Aww shit!" Forcing her legs to move quickly on the uneven ground, Sarah runs forward and reaches out for the man, and misses as he goes over the edge.
Pushing herself as quickly as she can to catch him, she lunges half of herself, while hoping her feet can find a purchase as she digs her feet into the ground, over the cliff edge and grabs one leg, then the other.
"Gravity is not a play thing, mate! And I don't have a lot of strength!"
He feels hands grabbing his legs and hears a woman's voice yelling at him, where had she come from and who was she?
"LET ME GO!" He yells at her as he tries to wiggle free from her grasp.
"STOP MOVING! I HAVE NO DESIRE TO SMASH MY BODY OFF THOSE ROCKS BELOW, AND IF YOU DON'T STOP MOVING THEN YOU'LL BE REMEMBERED AS A MURDERER! I CALLED THE POLICE TEN MINUTES AGO, THEY SHOULD BE HERE SHORTLY!" As if on cue and as if beckoned, police sirens can be heard getting closer.
"JUST LET ME GO! I DESERVE TO DIE!" The woman curses and the ocean below becomes a little closer.
"WE ALL DIE EVENTUALLY, BUT TODAY IS NOT A GOOD DAY TO DIE! NOW STOP MOVING AND LET ME HELP YOU!" The sirens stop and voices can be heard coming towards the cliff edge.
"WE'VE OVER HERE! I'VE GRABBED HIS LEGS BUT I'M SLIPPING! PULL US UP!" A tugging can be felt and the ocean becomes farther away.
"NO! LET ME DIE, PLEASE!" He yells frantically, the woman swearing at him heavily as he struggles. Firm ground greets him as he and the woman are pulled over the cliff edge. She lets go and he tries to jump up, only to be grabbed by a pair of strong hands.
"Enough, if you keep resisting then you'll only hurt others as well as yourself" A man's voice says gruffly. A woman's rough breathing can be heard and he catches sight of the woman who had stopped him from killing himself. She is sitting on the ground, the police car's headlights making her mid cut black hair stand out as she glares at him.
"Listen to them" She says. "Offing yourself for what I can guess is heartbreak at some bitch or bastard betraying you is not worth it at all. And you are bloody heavy for some guy with an average looking waistline. Bloody lucky I've been following you for the past two and a bit miles or you would be one with the rocks and possible fish food" A police officer helps her up while the woman continues to glare at him.
"Are you okay, miss?" The officer asks.
"Aye, I'm alright, winded and a little sore, but I'm alright. Could you take us both to the nearby hospital? He needs his head examined and I should probably get checked over" He feels himself being cuffed, likely an effort to stop him from trying to run, and he is forced into the back of the car. The woman sits next to him while the officers sit at the front.
The police car reverses back towards the road and a minute later they are headed to the nearby town four miles from the villages. The woman is still glaring at him.
"You should have let me die" He mummers.
"And have your messy death on my conscience for the rest of my life when I could have helped you? No thanks. Whoever she or he is, they aren't worth it. If you ever try something like that again I'll smack you around the head so hard that what brains you have will be ringing the New Year in every day. Stupid thing to bloody do" Her words are angry, but her tone is gentle. The glare in her eyes shows concern and anger at the same time, soft, deep brown eyes.
"You wouldn't understand" The woman rolls her eyes, as if she had expected him to say that.
"I don't understand what it's like to try and off myself? Mate, I know what it's like all too well. But it's been several years since I last tried to end my life and I have no desire to watch someone else do it. I don't know you and after what you just tried to do, then maybe I don't want to know you. Then again my saving your life might be for a reason, whatever fate wills and all that jazz" He looks away for a moment, watching the night pass by with brief flashes of lit buildings in the distance, the occasional street light and the occasional field against the light of the quarter moon.
"Stephen" He says quietly.
"What?" The woman asks.
"Stephen, it's my name, Stephen Nickson" The woman seems to smile a little.
"Well hello Stephen, and how are you today? Oh wait, don't answer, you got dumped, correct? And tried to kill yourself? Why yes, I don't mind saving your life and risking my own because it's the real neighbourly thing to do. Whatever happened to a cup of sugar and a hello chat? Now it's all throw yourself off a cliff and try to get both of you killed" She looks away from him, her eyes focused on nothing in particular.
"I'm sorry" Stephen whispers.
"Sorry? For almost getting us both killed or sorry for the sake of it?" The woman asks without looking at him.
"Both. I'm sorry" Stephen looks down, shame engulfing him.
"You can be sorry by not trying that again. And my name is Sarah, Sarah Jenes, nice to meet you, well save you. My first neighbourly thing within hours of moving here and it's saving a life. Now I think it would be best if you spend the time reflecting on your actions and thinking about how close you came to killing your new neighbour, well I think I'm your neighbour, not sure. Give yourself time to absorb what just happened" Stephen nods while a part of himself accepts her words.
The rest of the trip to the hospital is spent in silence.
Antiseptic and hand wash, along with rubber soled shoes, strong scents that tend to linger no matter how long you spend in a hospital. The sounds of a hospital can be varied, from silence to bleeps, alarms and soft speaking.
Her check up complete as of twenty minutes ago, Sarah waits until she can check on Stephen and see if he's okay.
"You can see him now, although he really should see family" A nurse says to her as she leaves the examination room where Stephen is being interviewed by the police.
"Thank you. I've only just met him so I don't know if he has any family, I won't be long" Getting up from the somewhat uncomfortable chair she has been sitting in for almost twenty minutes, Sarah knocks on the door of the examination room and enters.
Stephen is sitting on an examination bed, the police officers two males who are quite tall and look the same even though they aren't are talking to him.
"Do you have any family we can contact?" A shake of the head as a response. "Any relatives at all?" Another shake of the head.
"I don't have any family, my parents were killed by a drunk driver when I was eighteen. Any relatives want nothing to do with me, I don't have any siblings" The words are recorded within a notepad.
"It would be best if you remained here over night for observation" One of the officers remarks. Stephen just shrugs.
"If that is for the best" He says quietly. Marking down something else in the notepad, the two officers look over at Sarah, nod to her, then leave the room. Sarah takes a seat across from the examination bed.
"Sinking in, isn't it? The shame followed by regret along with the weight of the sorrow. First time I take it?" Sarah asks quietly, her voice echoing a little in the room. Stephen nods, not looking at her, only the floor.
"It will fade. I'm fine by the way, some light bruising from where my body hit the ground and some light muscle strain, I'll heal. You though, you need to spend the night here and do a fair bit of soul searching. The next time I see you, and I will probably see you again, then I hope it will be you saying thank you to me instead of trying to off yourself again" A hand reaches out and lifts Stephen's head to meet her eyes.
"She or he is not worth it, really. Get a good sleep, think things over and don't try to off yourself again, I'm not exactly the spandex or skimpy clothing kind of heroine. I'll see you later most likely" Stephen only continues to look down at the floor as Sarah steps away and leaves the room seconds later.
"She" He whispers sadly.
A reasonably restful sleep later, and a small breakfast afterwards, and Sarah is waiting at the bus stop for the local bus to arrive. The day is a cold one due to the rain and the cold wind coming in from the nearby ocean.
She notes a man looking at her, someone around the same age as her.
"I could strip, you know, and you could do some bird watching, probably see a pair of blue tits above a bush!" Sarah calls out and the man blushes, looking away before he walks off. "Either that or I could be really warm and then there would be a pair of red breasts" She mummers as the chill makes her shiver.
"The bus won't be here for another twenty minutes, it tends to be a little late getting here because there is always a tractor at this time that blocks the road" Sarah jumps a little and turns to see someone she hadn't expected to see so soon.
"Not in the nut house?" She asks as Stephen approaches her.
"No, and that isn't a very nice term for it. I was discharged from the hospital a few hours ago, had a friend pick me up. I saw you leaving the house, figured you were headed to catch the bus since I didn't see a car out front or a taxi pull up" Sitting down next to her, Stephen digs into a pocket and takes out a pack of sweets.
"Pretty observant for someone who didn't know he was being followed last night. Is this where you say thanks or are you waiting till I leave before you try and take a dive to the rocks again?" Still no sign of the bus, bloody thing.
"No. I mean it is a thank you, but no, I'm not going to try and kill myself again" He offers the pack of sweets to her, the pack is open and some sweets in sugar shells can be seen, some orange, some yellow, some pink. She takes one and pops it in her mouth, a nice lemon flavour instantly greets her taste buds.
"Good" She says around the sweet. "I never learned how to use a rope like that Wonder Woman lass can and I sure as hell can't fly, if you had tried again I would have had to do things the hard way like last time. And I don't want you to go throwing your life away like that. It would be better to die when you've had a full enough life, instead of being dumped by someone who clearly isn't worth it, whoever he or she is" She feels the sweet soften in her mouth and she begins to chew, the flavour getting stronger.
"She. She was a friend ever since we were in nappies, we got together five years ago. I was going to propose to her next week, guess that's off the cards now" He pops a pink coloured sweet into his mouth, a hand settling on the bus stop bench. The bench is cold and a little wet.
"You'll meet someone else eventually, when the time is right. Let her revel in what might be a big mistake, she'll feel regret, beg for forgiveness and you can stick your finger up to her and tell her to shove it when that time comes" A small gulp and the sweet is gone.
"You have a very blunt way of saying things, don't you?" Stephen asks as he hands out the sweets again, Sarah taking an orange one this time.
"Aye, I do. I feel it is better to just say what needs said than to sugar coat it in a happy lie. It hasn't exactly made me many, or any for that matter, friends since I can't be bothered to hide what needs said in some little white lie. Some things I do keep secret, but only because when people know the truth they react badly, as is the recourse of the dim witted" Neither of them say anything for a moment, the sweets disappearing quickly.
"This village isn't exactly an exciting place" Stephen remarks after the sweets are finished.
"People trying to kill themselves and having to rush to the rescue isn't exciting? Thanks for the sweets, they were better than the weak willed breakfast I had" The sound of kids playing at the nearby school can be heard amidst the sounds of the birds and some music in the near distance.
"That doesn't happen every day, and you're welcome. Fancy some company since you're clearly heading in to do a lot of shopping, and I do owe you" Sarah looks over to him, her brown eyes glittering a little in the dim light of the cloudy day, a stand of black hair frames her face and for a second Stephen sees her as not someone with a very blunt and direct way of speaking, but someone with a deep kindness and a lot of sorrow as well.
"I've found that men aren't too big on the shopping thing, they usually grumble about it while hoping their friends don't see them not being very manly" She says as a clear joke.
"I'm sure I can regain any manliness by snorting alcohol up my nose, pounding my chest to football and beating up someone's cat before it mauls me to a cuddly, yet manly death of glory and embarrassment. Besides you must be feeling a little sore from last night, that won't help with the many bags you might end up carrying" At last the bus appears and slows down to stop at the bus stop.
"Very well, the help will be welcome. Just don't try anything where I'll have to save your life again" Smiling, Stephen nods and boards the bus with Sarah.
Three hours, and eight shops, later, Stephen collapses into the chair at a café they stop at with a deep sigh of relief.
"Why didn't humans develop four arms, or six? Two arms are useless for shopping with" He remarks as feeling begins to return to his arms after all the heavy bags he has been lugging around.
"Maybe it was done to prevent humans having several additional self pleasure help additions. Having a self jolly with six hands doing the pleasuring would be quite the experience" Sarah replies while she calls over to someone to serve them.
"You have a really dirty mind sometimes, you know that? I've heard some really smutty things from people before, but you are just so direct with it" Sarah just smiles.
"Sex and masturbation happens, humans give themselves a jolly many times even when they go on about how sinful it is. It doesn't stop them from a little self fumble and shudder" A waitress comes over to their table with a notepad.
"What's your fancy?" She asks.
"Some chips with a well grilled cheeseburger, a lemon and lime juice fizzy or not and a jam and cream slice for afters would be lovely, thank you" Sarah replies. The waitress looks over to Stephen.
"Same as her please, thank you" Jotting the orders down, the waitress heads over to the large counter to place the orders. Shifting the bags so that they don't get in anyone's way, Sarah stretches afterwards and rubs her back.
"So how's the manliness feeling? Surely lugging a lot of bags around must feel good on the muscles. If you start turning green and only wearing purple trousers, let me know because that guy did some really big leaps and that would be so much cheaper than the bus or a taxi. I wonder why they called him what they did, when they could have just called him Green Kangaroo Man" A child fussing at the next table wails loudly before calming down, a few people look over, a couple of them tut tutting and shaking their heads.
"It wouldn't have sounded the same" Stephen remarks. "So where next after we've eaten?" Their orders arrive and after Sarah pays the bill, they dig in. Sarah takes a few bites of her cheeseburger before she answers.
"A few more shops, don't worry I'll call for a taxi since there is no way we can lug this lot onto a bus, and I want to drop by a few furniture shops as well during this. I believe there's one two streets from here" A few chips disappear. "Good grub, happy tum" Stephen takes a sip of his juice after downing a few chips.
"Furniture shops? Didn't you take any of your old furniture with you when you moved?" Sarah shakes her head, her slightly curly black hair swaying and bumping against her shoulders and chin.
"No, much of what I used to have was destroyed before I managed to get the moving arrangements completed. I've spent years saving up a lot of my wages from my old job as well as my getting lucky with the Euro Lottery once, won a fair bit that time. I'm not filthy rich, but I am able to live off the interest from my win and my savings, just enough to pay the bills and do this big shopping spree for things for my new home. Tomorrow I'll need to do a lot of food shopping and then I'll be done until the next food shopping" A few more chips disappear followed by the finishing off of the cheeseburger.
Sarah then stops, looking straight ahead. A worried frown appears and she looks down as if trying to hide her face.
"What?" Stephen asks.
"Just someone I know has entered, I'm hoping they haven't seen me" Stephen looks around.
"Who? A former boyfriend?" Sarah shakes her head.
"No, just someone I really don't want seeing me. Is anyone approaching the table?" Looking around for anyone, Stephen sees someone looking around. Before the person can look their way he grabs a bag from the floor and sets it on the table, hiding Sarah's face behind it.
"Almost, looks like the person is leaving now. A male. Are you sure he isn't some former lover?" Sarah takes a long sip of her juice before answering.
"Very sure, I've not had the best of luck in relationships over the years. Thanks for hiding me like that" The bag moves back down to the floor. Sarah looks around, thankfully the male has indeed left the café.
Satisfied that she's safe now, Sarah finishes the last of her chips and gets started on the cream and jam slice.
"It's a good thing I came along then. If we see that person again and he causes you any trouble then I'll deal with him" Sarah smiles behind her piece, cream on the sides of her mouth.
"My knight in polyester blend and denim, that's sweet of you, hopefully we won't see him again. We'll get going with the rest of the shopping after we've pigged out"
The shopping ends at close to five in the afternoon and with the last of the bags in the house, and the taxi fare paid, Sarah takes a moment to have a drink of refreshing water, Stephen joining her.
The delivery for the furniture would be in two days, giving Sarah the needed time to do some badly needed food shopping tomorrow since what little food she had bought from the local shop was running low.
"Half clothes, half household items and they all weigh a ton or more" Stephen remarks after a large gulp of water, the coldness of it soothing to his throat after a long day's shopping in the local city.
"And that's just the start. Although next time will likely be a lot less and I won't get started on that for another few weeks" Getting up from the kitchen table, Sarah opens a cupboard and takes out a packet of biscuits.
"Do you like pink wafers?" She asks.
"They're alright" Sarah opens the packet carefully and sets it down on the table.
"Eat up then, I don't have any tea or coffee, just a little juice and water from the tap. Yay for filtered water in this country" Grabbing a couple each, Sarah sits back down after refilling a glass jug with more water and setting it down on the table.
"This house has potential" Stephen remarks after a bite of a wafer.
"I hope so, I want this place to become my home in full. I intend on spending the rest of my life living in this house and this village. Oh, I remember that I've got a couple of yogurts in the fridge, or chocolate pudding like things. Fancy one? I like crumbling these and mixing them with a chocolate dessert" Sarah gets back up and goes over to the fridge, taking out a couple of chocolate desserts and passing one over to Stephen before grabbing a couple of tea spoons an essential for any kitchen and sitting back down.
Crumbling a couple of wafers up over the dessert once it's opened, Sarah mixes the pieces in and tastes it.
"Yum" Stephen does the same and they say nothing for a bit while they eat. After they've finished and Sarah has cleaned up, they head through to the living room.
"It's a bit barren" He comments.
"Aye, I know. I would have liked to have a sofa already without buying a new one, but circumstances prevented that. Take a chair through from the kitchen if you need to"
Once Stephen has gotten a chair from the kitchen and sat down, Sarah looks through a few of the bags and does a mental inventory list of the contents.
"Good thing I thought to get some tools or putting up these curtain rails would be awkward. I doubt blu tack and best wishes would have them sticking very well" Moving the curtain rails to the side, Sarah then goes through the other bags.
"I'm curious who that man was you were trying to avoid being seen by, I've noticed that you haven't talked much about yourself while learning about me. Pretty secretive" Moving a few bags closer to Sarah with his foot, Stephen watches her going through the bags and tries not to stare at her cleavage whenever it shows by accident.
"It was just someone from where I used to live, not important and not worth my time thinking about. Could you check through some of the bags as well, make sure we haven't lost anything by accident. I'm glad I asked for the receipts for all of this" A brief nod and Stephen begins looking through all of the bags, finding each receipt and noting the contents.
"That just makes me all the more curious" One bag checked through, more to go.
"I feel that the past is best left to the past, dwelling on it is of no use when there is the present and the future to be lived" A tinny song can be heard and Sarah reaches over to the mobile phone she had placed on the worn looking recliner near to her. She checks the number and sighs.
"Just have to take this, be back in a moment" Leaving the room quickly, Stephen continues checking through the bags while he wonders who's calling her. He can hear a few words from the hallway.
"Aye, I know
It is none of his business
It's my life, my choice
After what they did?...We'll arrange something, but I'm not returning there
Tomorrow then, I'll be food shopping
That café next to the toy shop, aye that one, we'll meet there
No, I can't see him and I don't want to
Love you too, thump Barry for me
I'm fine, aye, really, I'm fine
I'll be fine here, it's quiet and none of their friends to harm me are here
I'll pick it up when I meet you then, don't forget to take it with you
I'm sure you can come up with an excuse for going out
Aye, good night, I'll see you tomorrow" The call ends and Sarah returns to the living room.
"Who was that?" Stephen asks while moving one bag to the side and pulling another towards himself.
"Just someone I know. I'll manage my food shopping tomorrow by myself, I'm sure you must have work or something to be doing that's more important than helping me out" Dropping the mobile back on the recliner, Sarah resumes going through the bags.
"If you're sure. And I don't have a job as such, I own a business but only in name and profits, I don't work there. Family business" Sarah nods, a little distracted by something on her mind.
"Family, like mum and dad owned business? I remember you saying to that police officer last night about your family being killed" Another bag checked through, another bag dragged over.
"Aye, almost fourteen years ago. Some prick was going too fast while plastered, hit my parents head on as they were heading home. I was with them at the time, I was lucky to survive with a broken leg. My parents weren't so lucky, they died on impact, both of them crushed against a wall. The driver tried to run, but he was too drunk and he fell, hit his head off the rear spoiler of his car and died in hospital from the injury. I inherited the family business. I would rather have my parents back, I don't know the first thing about running a business" The mobile goes off again and Sarah reaches for it, once she sees who the caller is she ignores the call and returns the mobile to the recliner.
"So how are you making any money from it if you don't know anything about business?" The mobile goes off again and Sarah switches it off.
"I sold half of the business, as dad wanted since it was in his will that he wanted half of the business sold off should something happen to him and mum. Since the business is fairly country wide and looking to expand then it wasn't hard to make a deal with someone who was willing to own half the company, I get a fair slice of the profits, enough to live off. I've been applying for a lot of jobs just to pass the time but jobs aren't exactly easy to come by these days so I spend the blunt of my time just doing whatever I can find of interest. What do you do to pass the time?" Grabbing another bag as he talks, Stephen checks through it while Sarah does the same with a bag she just grabbed.
"At this time I spend my time doing barely anything. Decorating this house will probably be a full time thing for a few months and after that, no idea. Maybe I'll indulge in my artistic side for a change, I had to put that to the side for a while. Sometimes I kick cats up their furry backsides and see how far they fly, should be a national sport" Stephen looks at her, and sees a smile, she was joking.
"Well at least the cats of the village can breathe easy knowing that you were joking. What artistic talents do you have?" Switching the mobile back on before answering, Sarah shrugs.
"Writing mostly, I've been trying my hand at painting and drawing with mixed results. I tried playing some instruments and the cats back where I used to live would try to kill themselves as soon as I tried, poor things. I've never been very good at singing, probably broke a few glasses somewhere in the world when I tried my hand at a higher pitch once. So I tend to just write. I haven't had much time for it though what with my old job, saving up a fair fortune and getting things done in my life" The mobile goes off again and Sarah grabs it angrily. "Back in a moment" Stephen watches her leave and room again and listens while he goes through the bag in front of him.
"Piss off! The police warned you the last time!...It's my life, not yours!...I don't care if your little brain between your legs is ashamed at my living my life!...I don't care if you're family, I can have you brought up on charges for harassing me like this!...Sticks and stones, dad, it isn't my fault that you aren't accepting of your own kids if they won't be like you!...After what you and Barry did to my old place?...No, I am perfectly happy here, being away from you and Barry is better for me than enduring your abuse because of how I was born
I didn't choose to be this way! Mum told you full well and so did the doctor that this was just one of those things!...Fine, be an ignorant ass all you want, if you and Barry come here and harass me I will have you both locked up. Family or not" The call is ended and a fist hitting a wall can be heard followed by some swearing. A minute later Sarah returns to the living room.
"Bloody assholes" Sarah grumbles as she throws her mobile on the recliner and returns to checking through the bags. Stephen wonders if he should ask what that was about, but decides against it wisely, since it was clear that Sarah was likely to lash out if her hitting a wall in the hallway as hard as it had sounded was any indication.
The next day while Sarah is out food shopping, Stephen drops by the local shop to pick up a few things. The day is warm and an ice cold juice sounded good to him.
"Hey Stephen! Feeling better? I heard about what happened, what a bitch!" A woman around his age calls to him from behind the counter where she's working.
"I've been better, anything new in?" The woman behind the counter, Jenny Larin, nods and points over to some unopened boxes.
"Aye, just came in. I'll open them in a moment. Have you met the new lass who's moved in just round the corner close to you? If I weren't already married I think I would be quite interested in getting to know her better, if you catch my drift" Jenny lives with her partner, a woman the same age as herself, and although several frown on their relationship, few people judge them since they aren't doing any harm to anyone.
"You're a few months younger than me and you still can't control yourself? We aren't teens anymore, Jen, we have to control our urges. And I'm not sure if she's interested in anyone, male or female. And her name's Sarah" Grabbing a can of juice from the chilled juice cabinet and rooting through the sweet shelf, Stephen hears someone enter the shop and ask Jenny a question.
"Have you seen a man who moved here recently?" A male voice asks and Stephen turns to the counter to see the man from yesterday.
"No, sorry. Why?" Jenny replies.
"He needs to return home, he moved here a couple of days ago" The man at the counter is a little taller than Stephen, dark brown hair, slightly green and blue eyes. A fairly stocky build.
"Only a woman moved here recently" Stephen remarks, the man looks over to him.
"A woman? I'm looking for a man who I believe moved here recently, not a woman. His name's Peter, a freak who goes by the name Sarah. I'm here to bring him home and make sure he gets what he deserves" Jenny looks over at Stephen, her eyes saying what he's thinking.
"Sorry, mate, no man moved here recently. Just a woman moved here recently. Try the town four miles out, maybe he's there" The man growls angrily and leaves, slamming the shop door behind him.
"Don't say anything, Jen, let's not spread any wild rumours around. I'll talk to Sarah when she gets back from her food shopping and learn the truth. As far as I'm concerned Sarah is a woman and I owe her a lot, including the benefit of the doubt"
Later that day after Sarah returns from her food shopping, Stephen drops round to talk to her.
"Are you feeding an army or just the village?" He asks as he watches her put things away.
"Tempting, but no, this should last me for a few weeks or so" Stephen watches her move, her every movement fairly graceful and her breasts, bra encased, a little bigger than his ex's had been, sometimes showing when she bends down or reaches up to a shelf.
She didn't look like a man at all, her shoulders were a little broad but not heavily so and her features were quite soft and very feminine. How could she be a man when she clearly wasn't?
"Admiring the show?" Sarah asks while a few jars are placed into a cupboard. "I'm sure I could do this in just my underwear, a whole new category of porn, putting away the food shopping as an underwear model. Behold, the thrill of putting away tins of soup, watch the melons bounce and flex. Many men, teen and adult alike, would be fapping themselves to death" Stephen blushes and looks away, he had to admit that he was feeling a little stimulated watching her.
"Sorry. A man came around the local shop earlier, looking for a man called Peter. Do you know anyone of that name?" Sarah stops for a second, breathing hard and Stephen tries not to stare as her chest rises and falls with each breath.
"I used to, years ago. Why?" She asks as she resumes her unpacking.
"He said that this Peter was going by another name, your name" Sarah stops again and turns to face Stephen.
"And?" She asks, her voice low.
"And I asked Jenny to say nothing, no rumours have spread. But I would like to know the truth, are you him?" Sarah's hands start to flex, closing and opening.
"Do I look like a man? I doubt these fleshy bags on my chest say that or the lack of junk between my legs, nor the lack of major body hair. Also there's my very luscious hair that likes to be a pain to get right sometimes. So tell me, do I look like a man to you?" Shaking his head, and trying not to stare due to the way Sarah's blouse has tucked up underneath Sarah's breasts, showing her midriff.
"No, you don't. But you have been pretty secretive" Sarah turns from him and resumes her unpacking, her movements showing anger and perhaps some fear.
"You have barely known me for two days now, I don't think that is enough to warrant saying that I am secretive" Her mobile goes off next to Stephen and he sees the caller number, and the word 'Barry', on the display.
"Sarah, I just want to know what's going on. You helped me, so let me help you" The call goes unanswered.
"You helped me enough yesterday, consider any debt you feel you owe me repaid in full. Now I really don't want to talk about this" One of the empty bags falls to the floor and is kicked away.
"Jenny won't keep it secret forever, rumours are bound to spr-" Sarah turns to him, her eyes showing a great deal of pain and fear.
"Fine, you want the truth? You'll likely grab a pitchfork after this and join some baying mob calling for the freak's head. I was Peter. I was born with a male body, a horrible thing to live with, and for years I was called that name, I was treated like a male and the entire time it was being done I was miserable. I didn't feel like a man, I didn't identify as a man and as soon as I was able to do something about it, I had a sex change. I took the hormone treatments, grew me a pair of tits and shrunk the junk between my legs so that it would be easier to remove. And then as soon as I was approved for the surgery, I had those parts removed.
Peter is dead, gone, he never even existed as a real person in the first place! He was just some fake persona, a lie to hide behind while I tried to understand who the hell I was. The term would be trans-gender or trans woman, but I've heard so many of the insults that transphobics use against people like me that they've seeped into my soul so much that I expect to hear them the instant someone learns of the truth and reacts badly!
I am Sarah now and all I want is to live my life as me, not as some lie, not as some man, but as me, a woman! Happy now? The truth is out, now you can go and tell everyone else and they can come here and murder me for being different!" The mobile goes off again and Sarah picks it up, sees the name on the display, growls and with a good aim, throws the mobile out of the kitchen where it falls, smoothly, into the recliner in the living room with no damage.
Stephen doesn't say anything for a moment as he tries to take in everything he had just heard.
"And before you ask, no I am not a man, I am a woman. I can't be pregnant, I don't have the monthlies and I can never give birth, but I am a woman. A woman saved your life, you have been talking to a woman for almost two days now and a woman stands before you. Go ahead and do some manly scream, then run away and let your hate and ignorance be your guide like so many others have done" Turning away from him, Sarah grabs a chocolate bar she had unpacked earlier, rips it open and takes a bite in an effort to calm down.
Stephen just stays quiet.
"Going to say something or are you in too much shock?" Sarah asks after the sweet is finished.
I need some time to process what you just told me" Stephen replies after a few seconds.
"Get out then, bugger off. If I see a mob outside the door baying for my blood and you're the ring leader then I'll know what happened. GET OUT!" Stephen jumps up and runs out of the house, leaving Sarah alone in the kitchen.
Slamming a cupboard door closed, Sarah heads through to the living room and picks up her mobile phone from the recliner. A knock can be heard at the front door. Dropping the phone back down she heads to the front door and opens it, expecting to see Stephen.
Instead it's someone else.
"Hello freak, time to get what you deserve" Barry growls as he grabs her by the throat.
Stephen stops at his door and looks back towards Sarah's house. He can see someone in the doorway, the stocky build looks familiar.
"She could have let me die, but she didn't. And now I know what she's been hiding when she talks about parts of her past. What kind of person would I be, what kind of friend, if I hated her for being true to herself?" He watches as the person at her door goes inside, an arm extended.
"Dad once said that it wasn't the person on the outside that you should see, it's the person within. And when I look at Sarah I see more than just a woman who is admittedly beautiful to my eyes, but also someone with a strong and caring personality, someone who isn't afraid to speak her mind, someone who is both strong willed and sensitive. All she wants is to live her life peacefully, something that everyone has the right to. And right now she needs to be supported" He can see that her front door is still open and he hears her scream. Taking a deep breath and exhaling, he heads back to her house.
She tries to fight his grip, her finger nails clawing at his hand.
"Stupid time to trim my nails, really stupid time!" He grips harder, making it hard for her to breath.
"Fucking freak, mutilating your body into a lie, pretending to be a woman. You're a pathetic excuse for a man" Barry hisses at her as he squeezes.
you" Sarah gasps painfully. Forcing her legs to respond she kicks out, making Barry drop her painfully. Breathing heavily to try and get air back into her lungs, Sarah tries to crawl away backwards from her brother, back towards the living room to get her mobile and hopefully call the police.
"You are coming home, Peter! Dad wants you to pay for letting him down!" His footsteps are slow, even, while Sarah feels doubt that she'll reach her phone in time before he hurts her more.
"I am home" Sarah gasps, her throat sore from her brother's attack. "And my name is Sarah!" Forcing her legs to respond again, she tries to stand up and is greeted with a shove to the floor.
"Your name is Peter, freak, and dad is going to make sure that you never see the light of day again for what you've done to your body. You should be proud to be a man, being a man is the only way to live! Women are weak, they only exist to serve us!" Stepping on a leg, Barry applies pressure, making Sarah scream loudly in pain.
"I am not weak!" Sarah screams. "At least I have the strength to be myself, you're too much of a dim witted asshole to even know what that means!" Barry presses down harder, making Sarah scream louder.
"Mate, this is the 21st century, hurting women is no longer a male national pastime" Barry turns round to face the person who had just spoken and receives a fist between the eyes. Stumbling back, Sarah crawling away to avoid him falling on her, Barry receives another punch, this time to the stomach.
"Didn't your mum ever tell you that hitting women is wrong? Or are you and your dad from a culture where women are still treated like dirt?" Sarah looks up to see Stephen delivering another punch, causing Barry to slump against the wall.
"Stephen?" Stephen nods and picks Barry up roughly, dragging him to the front door and throwing him outside.
"Sarah is trying to live her life in peace, if you ever hurt her again then you'll find out just how far a crowbar can go up someone's rear end" Sarah picks herself up slowly, her leg aching from where Barry had tried to crush it. Limping over to the front door, she uses the door as support. Outside Barry slowly gets up.
this is a family matter!" Barry wheezes as he tries to get back into the house, Stephen blocks his way.
"I would have loved to have had a sister, you should consider yourself lucky to have someone like Sarah as part of your family. She must take after someone with a heart" Barry tries to push himself past Stephen, who refuses to budge.
let me" Sarah asks quietly. Stepping aside a little to let Sarah through, Stephen keeps his eyes on Barry.
Get a clue" Then with as much strength as she can muster, and using the door as support, Sarah brings her right leg up fast and connects with her brother's groin as hard as she can.
A high pitched whine can be hear coming from Barry before he collapses, his hands between his legs.
"Having nuts doesn't seem so good now, does it?" Sarah remarks before she steps backwards. Stephen helps her inside and slams the door shut, the sound of the locks engaging seconds later.
Three months pass after Sarah has moved to the village and three months after she saved Stephen's life, three months where she has made friends with several people in the village while most tend to glare at her in a disapproving manner.
Her secret came out a few days after her brother's attack and at first there had been a fair amount of insults, but gradually people have come to accept that she is no threat to them and that she has moved to the village to just live her life without threat of constant attacks from her brother, her father and their friends.
In those three months the friendship that she and Stephen have developed has strengthened to a strong bond of trust and respect for one another.
But the peace was to be disrupted again.
Shrugging her handbag to sit comfortably against her side, Sarah lifts the shopping bags full of food up as best as able and sets off for her house. She hadn't bought a huge amount, but it didn't stop what she had bought from being heavy.
Thankfully her house wasn't too far from the bus stop, a street and a half away, and soon she reaches her front door. She stops and lowers the bags when she sees a familiar car parked outside.
"Bugger balls" She mutters. "Bugger balls and bugger morons" The car doors open and Barry steps out, with her father and mother.
"Peter, we need to talk" Her father, Jim, remarks.
"No we don't, and my name isn't Peter, it's Sarah. Call me Peter one more time and you'll be getting a bag full of tinned soup to the face and probably a bottle of juice as well" Barry makes for her and she grabs the heaviest bag she can swing.
"One more move and you'll be the one getting a sex change next" Sarah warns, her arm protesting at the weight. Barry steps back. "Good boy, now stay there. I have a very mean kick and I am not in the mood for the whole 'be a man because we demand it' bull" Lowering the bag slowly, standing ready to swing as hard as possible should Barry attack her again, Sarah spots Stephen and another man, a local butcher called Neil, on the far end of the street. Stephen sees her and waves, then he sees Barry and beckons to Neil. They run towards Sarah, neither of them seen by her family as they approach.
"Maybe we should go inside" Her mum suggests. Sarah shakes her head.
"No, what dad has to say can be said out here. I'm not letting him and Barry into my house, you are always welcome, but not them" Barry turns when he hears the sound of people running and turns to see Stephen and Neil approaching them.
"That's the guy who beat me up, dad" Barry comments, Jim turning to see them approach.
"Hey there, prick face, you aren't going to attack Sarah again are you? Because if you are then Neil here is a dab hand with knives and I've seen him skin a pig with ease many times, and you make me think of a particular pig once that was a right beast" Stephen calls out to Barry as he and Neil take up a protective position around Sarah.
"This does not concern either of you" Jim says harshly. "This is between Peter and his family" Stephen shakes his head, his dusty brown hair swaying a little at the fringe.
"First off her name is Sarah, not Peter, and second Sarah is a friend and female. What you have to say to her, you say to us as well. If Sarah doesn't want to talk to you then you should bugger off" Sarah lightly touches Stephen's arm, glad that there are finally people willing to stand up and help her when she needed the help.
"Peter, you will come home right now. You will be a man regardless of what you've done to your body" Sarah shakes her head, her well cared for hair swaying in the warm afternoon air.
"Peter died, dad, a long time ago. Or in another sense, Peter never really existed. You created him to suit yourself and I did away with him so that I could finally live. Mum accepted this and suspected it a long time ago, it's time you did as well. I am your daughter, I have always been your daughter. It's time to face that fact and stop treating me like someone I'm not. I can never be a man nor do I wish to be one, I do not wish to live a lie" Jim frowns and makes a step towards her, Sarah reaches down for the heaviest bag again. "You may be my dad, but that won't stop me from defending myself against you. One move, dad, that's all it takes and you'll find out just how much you've hurt me over the years" Jim stops next to Barry, both of them holding their ground.
"You are not a woman, Peter, you were born a man and you will always be a man!" Again Sarah shakes her head.
"Only my body was that way, dad, I was not. I have always been female and I will die as the woman I am. I'm not that timid little boy who would cower before you and do as you demanded anymore, I'm a grown woman who wants to live her life in peace. You do not control me, you will never control me. Leave, now, mum can stay and visit, I've been hoping to see her again. But you and Barry need to leave, you are not welcome here. If either of you comes here again and threatens me then you will be very sorry, so get out" Her mum, Laura, turns to Jim.
"Listen to her, dear. Both of you need to listen to her. Sarah has the right to live her own life, and as my daughter I support her right to live her life. She is not weak for being a woman, no woman is as weak as you like to believe. Sarah has shown a lot of strength in standing up to both of you and refusing to be someone she can't be. I may have lost a son, but I gained a daughter and that is every bit as wonderful. She is still my baby girl, she always has been. Sarah has asked for you both to leave, I think you should go. I'll stay back, visit my daughter, and I'll head back home afterwards. I'm sure Sarah knows the buses and taxi services well by now" Jim scowls at his wife, Barry scowling at his sister.
"You heard mum, dad, just leave. You've proven how close minded you are and how much you refuse to accept that I am finally happy in my life. Please, just leave" Stephen and Neil tense themselves for a fight in case Barry attacks Sarah again, Barry seems to gulp as Sarah makes the hand signal indicating that she'll hit him where she had hit him the last time he had attacked her.
With a deep sign of surrender, Jim gets back in the car, Barry following after him. Laura stays out of the car and smiles to her daughter.
"I'm sure I can give you a lift back" Neil comments. "I would be happy to" Laura nods, accepting the offer.
"Thank you. I take it that you're a friend of Sarah's?" Neil looks over to Sarah and nods.
"Aye, although I'm still getting to know her, but I like to think that we're becoming good friends. She isn't very good at cutting up big slabs of meat, but she's a good laugh and always helps out where she can" Stephen and Neil reach down for the bags, Sarah lowering the one she's holding.
"Thank you, my arm was close to dropping off there" The car starts up and drives away, Laura watching it leave.
"Both as stubborn as one another, those two. Well then, Sarah, let's see your new home"
Two years after the last encounter with her dad and brother, Sarah has become fully accepted within her new home by more of the villagers. Several are still pretty closed minded towards her, but they are outnumbered by the majority of the villagers who have come to regard Sarah as a helpful, kind hearted and gentle woman.
Other than the occasional insulting call from her dad and brother, Sarah has been mostly left alone by them. Their friends had tried to attack her a few times, only to find themselves being beaten back by Sarah and her new friends.
A year after betraying Stephen, his ex girlfriend became pregnant and was dumped by the man she had left Stephen for when he found out. Now a single mother she has tried several times to beg for Stephen's forgiveness and for him to take her back, each time he has refused and told her quite bluntly that he can never trust her again.
In desperation she tried to force herself into his house, only to find Sarah greeting her with a rolling pin and a cruel smile. Shortly after her encounter with Sarah in Stephen's house, she moved to the nearby town.
Two years have passed, and the friendship between Stephen and Sarah has become stronger than either of them could have imagined.
Watching the sun set into the horizon, Sarah yawns and feels the chill of the night beginning to settle on her skin.
"It's a nice view" She says quietly. "Better than the one the first time I was at this spot saving your life" Stephen smiles, remembering. He gently squeezes the hand closest to his own.
"I never did thank you for that" Sarah squeezes his hand gently in return.
"No, you never did. I figured you had forgotten while you were beating my brother up" A hand moves to her hair and he gently kisses a strand.
"I could always beat him up again if that would make a good thank you" Sarah turns her head to face him, gently kissing his fingers.
"No, I can think of something better" Moving forward gently so not to disrupt her balance, Sarah kisses Stephen softly on his lips.
"Then thank you for saving my life" Stephen whispers, and as the night falls they hold one another, thanking one another for nothing at all.
*Be true to yourself*