Introducing Petra Kidd (Again)

Well hello, it’s been quite some time since I blogged, so thank you for visiting to see what I have to say.

Nearly ten years ago I published The Eight of Swords and The Putsi and posted on this site pretty regularly but life got in the way, I had a business that needed my full attention and my mother certainly needed it too.

Then I moved into a business which demanded less of me physically and thanks to Covid-19 (it has to be good for something) I got my writing bug back again and spent the first lockdown writing a new book of short stories.

I’ve always been fascinated by people and how they deal with certain situations, if you read The Eight of Swords you will meet Jayne Patchett who has a very tricky situation to deal with. When you read it, you are bound to ask yourself how you would react if you were her.

When Covid-19 turned up without much warning and presented us all with a whole new and unprecedented way of living this reminded me very much of The Eight of Swords, but in this case all our worlds were turned upside down, not just the life of one woman (although her drama proved comparatively brief).

I moved into a new riverside apartment just a couple of days before the first lockdown. Luckily I didn’t have much to move as I downsized. Suddenly life became much calmer, more peaceful and the simplicity of my modern apartment seeped into me. Instead of having to race around I could reflect, I had time to think and observe the city around me uncluttered with people. While I am a social person, I am also very happy alone and in my own space so this new way of living did not particularly frighten or concern me.

Having said that, I am not only responsible for myself, I have an elderly mother who has a multitude of health conditions to care for and during the first lockdown I suspended her care agency and looked after her full time myself for three months. Although I’d already spent a fair amount of time with her, caring for her all the time brought a routine that probably helped me cope with the weird way the outer world was transmogrifying.

I started to write a diary, the kind of diary where thoughts simply pour out of your head from your daily observations. It became a kind of therapy and I couldn’t go to sleep without having written down the days happenings. The realization that we are all living through a pandemic that will become a part of the history books made me think of future generations of my family and how they will want to know what it was like first hand from the people who actually lived through it. My Aunty Maureen wrote about her experiences in the war and I had only recently read her notes and this inspired me to write about lockdown and Covid-19 so that my great nephews and future great great nieces and nephews will have first hand experience of a family member going through it all.

The diary isn’t what I am going to publish (well not for now). The diary led me to muse upon what might be going on behind all the closed doors I passed on my lockdown exercise walks and cycle rides and my imagination went into overdrive and created twelve new short stories.

As it has been many years since I last self-published I am going to take you with me, you are very welcome to join me on this latest literary adventure. Whether you are an avid reader or a writer yourself it might interest you to know a little about the process as I go through it again.

My next blog post will be tomorrow at 7pm so please subscribe to make it easier for you to read my updates and to find out more about the new short story book launch.

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Please feel free to comment, ask questions and tell me what you are up to, wherever you are in the world, it’s a great time to connect.

’Til tomorrow…

The Eight of Swords

My short stories The Eight of Swords and The Putsi have been reduced on Amazon to the new low price of £1.02 until the end of September.  It is a rare thing for me to reduce my prices or do free giveaways so go get ’em!

Both stories will get you gripped and are perfect for commuters or those on the go who want a compelling read that will last long enough to enjoy but doesn’t go on too long.

You can read an excerpt here: The Eight of Swords 

If you do read them, please leave a review – your thoughts are always of interest to me!

Please follow me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/petrakiddwrites and on Twitter @PetraKidd and if you like what you read, please like and share so other folk can enjoy my stories too. Thank you!

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The Eight of Swords

A difficult day turns into a nightmare when Jayne Patchett returns home to find her house occupied by Romanian gypsies.

The irony of the situation isn’t lost on Jayne, who works in immigration. She is used to dealing with illegal immigrants at work but when she finds them sitting at her dining room table, drinking her wine, eating her food and wearing her clothes, her reaction surprises even herself.

(53 pages)

 

The Putsi

The Putsi

If you have something special belonging to someone else, what happens when they want it back?

Eighteen years have passed since a family of Romanian gypsies invaded Jayne Patchett’s house. In that time her life has changed remarkably, she is a successful artist, happily in love, living in an idyllic country cottage. But all those years ago, one of the gypsies gave her a lucky pouch, the putsi. Now, one of them wants it back. Drama returns to Jayne’s life as secrets are unveiled and she begins to wonder who she can trust.

(42 pages)

You Are Not Alone

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You are not alone

 The old lady lay crumpled in her hospital bed.  Her neck bent forward, the tip of her nose almost resting on the swing-across table.  All she’d had was a bite of her sandwich before nodding off.

Someone came and took the sandwich away.  The old lady didn’t notice, she continued to sleep.

Visitors came, gathered around beds, laughed and joked, ate chocolates, fetched and carried for their loved ones.

The old lady roused herself, fluffy white hair dishevelled on her shrunken skull, her eyes made a weary survey of the ward, barely able to keep them open her head slumped forward again.

A son reached forward to kiss his mother’s cheek, a niece held a cup to her aunt’s lips, a daughter tucked a fresh nightie into her mother’s bedside cupboard, a grandchild pushed a lovingly scrawled picture beneath his grandma’s nose.

A plump woman in a grey uniform called out to the old lady.  “Cup of tea?”

Her red eyes opened, she nodded and smiled.

“Sugar?”

The old lady smiled the same smile.

Visitors noted the time on the large clock on the wall at the end of the ward, gathered carrier bags, kissed cheeks, promised to be back soon and departed.

The old lady watched them go.  Her head slumped to one side, her mouth fell open showing a few yellowed teeth.

Time passed.

The curtain swished shut around her bed, she woke to see two doctors standing by her side.  The older of the two men gave her a bright cheery smile.  “Hello Mrs Abbott, how are you today?”

The old lady’s eyes stared at him, unseeingly.  “Alright.”

“Jolly good.  Can we examine you?”

A short while later the curtains swished open and the men marched away.

Teatime came.  The old lady opened her eyes to see a bowl of soup steaming on the swing-across table.  She lifted her hand from beneath the covers, sought out the spoon placed next to the bowl, dipped it into the soup, raised the spoon and tried to deliver the soup to her mouth.  Her shaky hand spilt orange liquid all over the bedcovers.  She stared at the mess a moment, put the spoon back on the table and shut her eyes.

The old lady heard the footsteps of visitors arriving, their voices noisy and friendly.  She heard other patients calling out ‘hello’ in greeting.  She opened her eyes, the soup had gone, only stains on her nightdress remained.  For a while she watched as the visitors sat on the beds of the patients, played word games, brushed hair, stroked hands, wiped lips.

The nurse came.  “Just need to check your blood pressure Edie.”

Edie held out a bruised arm.

“You got any children Edie?”

Edie shook her head.

Night fell.

The visitors left, blowing kisses, waving, promising to return.

At eleven the lights went out.  The ward lit only by the white lights in the corridor. Edie sat herself up a bit and started to fiddle with her hands, her lips moved and her brow creased with concentration.  Her fingers looped imaginary thread through imaginary material.  She murmured to herself.

As the sun rose and flickered through the blinds, Edie fell back to slumber.  Someone slapped a bowl of cornflakes swimming in milk onto the swing-across table.  Edie briefly opened her eyes and groaned.  A few minutes later her fingers reached for the spoon, dipped it into the bowl, lifted it to her mouth.  The spoon grazed her cheek spilling milk and golden flakes of corn down her chin.  She chewed at nothing for a while, then tried again only to gain the same result.

“You need any help Edie?”  A nurse stood at the end of her bed.

Edie smiled.  The nurse left, promising she’d be back ‘in a minute’ to help Edie.

Twenty minutes passed.  Edie fell asleep.  The bowl disappeared. The nurse had been distracted by someone ‘needing the loo.’

The morning passed in a haze.  People staggered by Edie’s bed on sticks, nurses took blood, dispensed pills, wheeled people to the bathroom, wrote on files.

At lunchtime a plate of roast chicken with vegetables and a glass of orange juice were placed on the swing-across table.  Edie opened her eyes.  She liked chicken.  She gathered up the knife and fork and tried to cut into the white meat.  Her arms felt weak, her wrists flopped down, her fingers ached with effort.  The knife dropped into the gravy splashing it over her nightdress and onto the blanket.  Edie groaned.  She lay down the knife and fork and picked up a carrot between her forefinger and thumb and tried to shove it between her lips.  She chewed for a bit then nodded off.

When Edie woke up, the plate of roast chicken had gone and a mound of red jelly flanked by bright yellow custard had taken its place.  Edie reached for the spoon, lifted it into the bowl, pushed the jelly around, then gave up as weariness overtook her.

The visitors woke her up.  A child screamed for its toy, a woman with a loud voice laughed hysterically at a man telling jokes.  Teenagers nodded their heads, white blobs stuck in their earholes.

Through the window, Edie could see grey swathes of rain.  Her lips trembled and she began to cry.  Lightening ripped open a gash in the greyness; the white light followed by a massive rumble.  The visitors stared through the window too.  Edie cried harder.

One of the visitors noticed Edie crying and came over.  “Hey, don’t be afraid, it’s only thunder.”

Edie stared at the unknown face a moment.  “Is there thunder?”

“Oh,” said the visitor, “I thought you were crying because of the thunder.  What’s the matter?”

Edie shook her head, “I don’t know where I’m going to stay tonight.”

The visitor thought for a moment.  “You’re safe, you’re in hospital, you have people all around you.  You are not alone, don’t be afraid.”

Edie nodded her head but still tears rolled down her face.

 

Short story by Petra Kidd © 2013

Also by Petra Kidd

The Eight of Swords

The Putsi

What Lurks Beneath

Sequel to The Eight of Swords – The Putsi

The Putsi

If you have something special belonging to someone else, what happens when they want it back?

 Eighteen years have passed since a family of Romanian gypsies invaded Jayne Patchett’s house.  In that time her life has changed remarkably, she is a successful artist, happily in love, living in an idyllic country cottage.  But all those years ago, one of the gypsies gave her a lucky pouch, the putsi.  Now, one of them wants it back.  Drama returns to Jayne’s life as secrets are unveiled and she begins to wonder who she can trust. 

Available as a short story ebook via Amazon & Smashwords

The Eight of Swords by Petra Kidd – Excerpt

When a big event happens in the world, people usually remember what they were doing, where they were, who they were with, how old they were when it happened.  For many years to come, they will say, “oh yes, when the planes hit the towers, I had just arrived in Cuba for my first holiday in two years,” or “when the Queen Mother’s death was announced, the entire family were here for lunch, including Aunty Martha who we hadn’t seen since Uncle Stephen passed away.”  All the little details of the moment they heard something terrible or significant happened come flooding into their mind.

 It is the same with more personal events. Happenings, that in a single moment of now then permeate our thoughts and memories forever after.  The day I came home to find my key wouldn’t turn in the lock, my head was full of how one of my colleagues had committed suicide, messily, under a tube train during rush hour.  I can’t tell you that I had any gut feeling or intuition that day would become such a significant turning point in my life. It started like any other, my alarm went off, I pressed the ten minute snooze option, shut my eyes tight and hoped each minute would become an hour in real time.  Of course this is impossible but when you hate your work, every little delay in getting there becomes a mini freedom. 

 I can even remember the dream I had before I woke up. It involved a tea party in the middle of a field with buttercups and dandelions, a voice said ‘don’t pick the dandelions or you will wee in your bed.’  I often wonder if that somehow signalled the events of the day and why if it did, did I get such a pointless and unhelpful warning?

 I stood on the doorstep for a full ten minutes before my poor befuddled brain would take in the fact my key no longer fitted this lock.  Stepping back I inspected the house to make sure that in my confused and distracted state I hadn’t mistaken someone else’s house for my own but no, the door remained red with a brass knocker in the shape of a mermaid, weeds had grown over the air vent, and rain dripped in a reluctant waterfall from the guttering.  No, this was definitely my abode of the past eight years, the place I bought after my second divorce vowing I would never again share my home, my heart, my possessions with another person. 

 Stepping back I glanced at my watch, I don’t know why.  Every evening I walked home from work, setting out from my office around sixish whatever the weather, regardless of time of year. I trudged through snow, battled wind, rain and hail, slid around on ice, squinted through fog and wore a ridiculously large hat to keep the rarely sighted sun of recent summers off my pale skinned face.  Somehow, I seemed to think the time might give me the answer as to why my key wouldn’t fit the lock.  Then I caught sight out of the corner of my eye, the curtain twitch open a second. It fell back again instantly. 

 Did I imagine that?  I thought, standing there stupidly as rainwater soaked my shoulders.  I leant over and tapped on the window.  Nothing happened.  The curtain didn’t move again.  It occurred to me at this point that perhaps I should try using my back door key.  I fumbled to pick it out among all the other keys on the ring: keys to my desk drawers at work, the shed key, my elderly neighbour’s key, a bicycle lock key I had ceased to use many moons ago. I began to walk round the right side of the house, across the tiny front garden, through the side gate and along the muddy path to the back door.  Again I inserted the key into the lock, tried to turn it and it did not budge.  I managed to stop myself from hammering on the frosted glass window of the door. How ridiculous would that be?  Knocking on my own door to be let into the house where only I lived.  On examination the lock looked shinier than my normal rusty edged lock, brand new in fact.  My heart jigged a little, in a downward way, my legs weakened and my stomach did a back flip, panic had finally set in. 

 I put the keys in my coat pocket and walked slowly back to the front of the house, pondering the situation.  Back at the front door I reached up and grasped the mermaid knocker firmly and thumped brass against brass three times.  Nothing happened.  I inspected the lock; again it appeared to be shiny and new.  A couple of deep scratches and a dent I didn’t recognise were next to it.  Someone had changed the locks. 

 I simply didn’t know what to do.  Bizarrely the thought ran through my mind that somehow my colleague had faked his death, come round, broken into my house and locked me out.  Why would he do that?  We hadn’t been particularly friendly, or not friendly. For the past year of his appointment to my team we exchanged personal pleasantries on an irregular basis, shared a filing cabinet, made each other the odd cup of tea and displayed only cursory interest in one another beyond our work.  A burglar wouldn’t have changed the locks. I had no family who would create such a prank. My parents lived abroad. My brother, a well off stockbroker lived happily in Surrey with his wife and two children. Extended family included only a very elderly aunt and a spinster cousin in Australia.  My friends and acquaintances were not of the type to do this either, they were for the most part professionals, reasonably well off, fully encompassed in their own complicated lives, far too busy and harassed to decide to break into my house, change the locks and then refuse to open the door.  They weren’t the kind of people who would think such an elaborate prank funny. 

Available to buy to download via Amazon Kindle.

To read on, click here The Eight of Swords 

A short story of circa 13k words

Copyright © 2012 Petra Kidd

 

So what would you do?

What would you do if you came home to find strangers sitting in your home as if it were their own? 

It’s not such a silly question.

Usually it is landlords that have problems with squatters when a property has been left empty awhile.  If someone gains entry without actually breaking an entry or causing damage  it’s not an easy task to get them to leave and you would have to apply for a court order.  This can take quite a number of weeks, if not months in some cases.

Terrible when you think about it, especially if it is your actual home.  Some more wealthy people are having to hire security guards to make sure their homes don’t get invaded while they are away.

So how would you react if you came home and found strangers occupying your space?

I had a small taster of what this would feel like many years ago.  I was in my late teens enjoying a holiday in France with my best friend.  We’d found a lovely youth hostel in La Rochelle and a couple of days into the holiday we hit the beach happy to lie around on it all morning without a care in the world. 

Around lunchtime we decided to head back to our room to get changed.  When I tried to open the door to our room I found it locked.  Suddenly the door opened and a very tall German lad stood grinning at me.  I checked up and down the corridor, this was definitely our room so I told him so.  Luckily he understood English.  He laughed “oh no, it is our room!”

I persisted arguing with him in a nonsensical way until he invited me in to see for myself that our belongings had totally vanished and in their place were rucksacks etc belonging to him and his friends.  His friends sat grinning at us, highly amused.

We weren’t amused at all, and somewhat confused we headed to reception and I let forth my best French swear words at the person behind the counter.  Immediately we were led to a cupboard where our belongings had been unceremoniously dumped!  Apparently they were going to move us to a smaller room but hadn’t expected us back so early. 

So I can identify a little with my main character Jayne Patchett in The Eight of Swords when she returns home to find her key won’t turn in the lock.  She lives alone so she knows something is seriously wrong when she can’t get in to her own house.  I remembered my confusion and exasperation well when I was writing about hers.  Of course her situation is far worse than mine was.

Probably the most amusing thing to come out of my brief experience of having my room invaded by strangers was my friend’s reaction to my sudden ability to swear so eloquently in French!  She was very impressed.

Jayne Patchett in The Eight of Swords has a much more interesting and difficult experience than mine and it goes to show you can’t always know how you will react in such a bizarre situation.

The Eight of Swords is available now on Amazon Kindle, it’s a short story. 

Click on the link below to buy.   If you don’t have a Kindle you can still download the ebook to your pc or another device.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Eight-of-Swords-ebook/dp/B006S1RWGA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1325603687&sr=8-1