Yes, I'm still here with Donald. I hope you enjoyed reading about my funeral last week, as much as I enjoyed attending it. It was hilarious. Worth dying for. This week, I thought I'd share with you my first real experience of this afterlife thing.
Sofia had had the strangest dream. She had attended her own funeral and returned to her old family home to discover that she had another son. It all seemed weird and strange. She was wide awake now or was she? She was back in her old bedroom at the pub and everything looked just like it had in the seventies. Why was she not at Haslington Towers? It was morning and time to get up, but what time was it? She glanced at her alarm clock; it had no hands; the large clock outside her window which was always accurate had no hands either. Reality checks time. She was dead, deceased, dead; really dead.
Slowly, she began remembering the recent events. While walking toward Victoria Center last week she had seen her father and crossed the road to meet him. She was unaware of the accident until he pointed it out and told her repeatedly that it was her time and he had come to take her home. Then there had been the party before her funeral yesterday. Was her funeral yesterday or it could have been ages ago. Time does not exist here, she reminded herself.
Now that she had remembered how she had managed to be in what seemed like a time warp she wondered what to do next. How long had she slept for? Was everyone else still asleep? There were her parents, aunt and Billy in the other rooms. Where had Donald gone?
In life, she would get up, sort the children out with breakfast and do the schools run. The thought of breakfast made her realize that she was hungry. So, even in the afterlife you need food. Her father had said yesterday or at least before they retired to bed that this was just another life on a different plane but obviously one where food is required for energy and sustenance.
Well, staying in bed for the rest of her death did not seem a good idea so she assumed it was normal to get up, wash or shower and dress. Looking down at her body without its physical shell she discovered she was wearing the pyjamas she wore in her late teenage years. How had she managed that? What clothes were behind her wardrobe doors? There was only one way to find out.
She jumped out of bed with a new lease of life or death, whichever and looked in the mirror on her dressing-table. Much relieved she saw the same Sofia who had recently changed her image from the dowdy middle-aged woman who had allowed Derek to dominate her into a younger looking more attractive female with highlights in her hair and makeup. At least she looked her age of thirty-seven and not a teenager which was something to be thankful for. Now, for the wardrobe…
She bravely opened the doors and found a complete mixture of clothes from all through her life. Okay, so what was it to be? A brown mini-skirt and cream top. When ready she ventured down the stairs rather like a child on holiday looking for an adventure.
“Well, there you are. Come and sit down. I’ve cooked your breakfast.”
Sofia looked at Billy dressed in jeans and T-shirt and holding a plate with food on it and a cup with what smelt like coffee.
“Grandma said that your favourite breakfast was an egg and bacon sandwich with brown whole meal bread so I’ve made you one just as you like it and a coffee.”
She was flabbergasted. “She always made me a sandwich before I went to school. Where is she?”
“Oh, she’s filling up ready for opening later.”
“What time do you open?”
“You’ve forgotten, Mum. There’s no time here. We open when we’re ready. She’s filling up after your party.”
“Oh, that smells lovely. Thank you so much. I can’t believe I’ve got a nineteen year old son.” She took the plate and cup from him, sat down and started eating. “Where’s your breakfast?”
“Oh, I’ve already eaten.”
“Right. Where’s Dad?”
“Grandpa’s gone down to the attic. He wants to keep a close eye on my brother and sister.”
“Brother and sister? Oh, you mean Sophie and Donny. Well, yes; they are your siblings. It just seems so strange to me.”
“Not to me. I’ve been watching you and waiting. I watched you marry Derek, give birth and I’ve watched Sophie and Donny grow. Sometimes, I go down with Grandpa. I enjoyed your last Christmas down there outside in the snow. I loved Frosty, the snowman.”
“You were with us?”
“Yes. I know you wanted to make it special for them and it was. It was a Christmas they’ll never forget.”
An awful thought flashed through her mind. “Did you hear…”
“…any of the conversation you had with Donald?”
“Oh no, so you know all about my affair?” Was she really having this conversation with her son?
“Yes, but it doesn’t matter. I know about Donald and my own father.”
“Yes. John Dankworth.”
“Oh my God.” She put her sandwich down and took a gulp of coffee.
“We do not blaspheme or swear at all here, Mummy.”
“Of course not. I must remember that.” What she had remembered was all that had gone through her mind as she had turned to cross the road last week or whenever it was she had died. Her whole life had flashed before her eyes and that had been the first time she had thought about John in years. She remembered the noise, the heat, people were staring anxiously, and there were her infant school days, Miranda and she swearing to be friends forever, Secondary School and John Dankworth asking for a date; the school discos, her mother’s death, Derek and her pregnancy. She continued, “They say your life flashes before you when you die. Mine did and that was the first time I’ve thought about your father in years.”
“He’s married now, living in Exeter and has a daughter, Chloe. She’s four.”
“How do you know that? I suppose that’s a silly question.”
He smiled. “You’re learning Mum. Grandpa said you were a fast learner.”
“My eighteenth birthday that August in 1985 was a particularly bad time. I’d looked forward to it for so long and it was disastrous. John and I had taken our A levels and we were both going to Exeter University. We had firm places but your Grandma was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I realized I was pregnant. Everything seemed to fall apart. I could neither go to Exeter nor have a baby.”
“Dad doesn’t know about me, does he?”
“No. It seemed best at the time. He knew about your grandmother and thought that was the only reason why I couldn’t go to Exeter. It was after we had both got places at Exeter that we started going out together. After the final school disco we decided to “do it” as we used to say. It was the 1980’s and a lot of our peer group had already lost their virginity so we thought we would do the same. We laughed about being the “slow starters” of our year. Unfortunately, the condom broke and you were the product of what turned out to be a “one night” stand. We thought we would probably stay together but it was not to be and telling him would only have complicated things.”
“He went to Exeter, Mum, but never forgot about you. He thought you were “the one” for him but you didn’t answer his letters…”
“Letters? I never received any.”
“…You didn’t but he sent three that autumn telling you about his life and hoping all was well with you. He wanted you to go down and see him. Grandma intercepted the letters. She burned them.”
“Yes, so John got on with his life; he got his BSc and then Masters degree and doctorate. He’s Dr John Dankworth now and works for a pharmaceutical company.”
Sofia shouted through to the bar, “Mum, where are you?”
Brenda appeared, “So, you’re down at last. Enjoyed your breakfast? Billy loves cooking; he’s been waiting to make your favourite sandwich.”
“Mum, did you burn letters from John?”
“Yes dear. I’m your mother. Although you didn’t tell me I knew you were pregnant and that you’d aborted it. How could you carry on a relationship with John after that? Anyway, you were never meant to have a relationship with him. Your future, like everyone’s was already mapped out. You were destined to marry Derek but love his twin brother, Donald. Before you ask he stays with his parents now but he’ll be round soon and you two love birds will carry on.” She turned and went back to the bar leaving a bewildered and shocked Sofia.
“Anyway, Mum, enough about my father. I pop down and see him and my sister occasionally and they’re doing fine. What about us? I’d like us to do things together like you did with Sophie and Donny. Can we go bowling today? I watched you with Sophie and Miranda when Sophie won.”
“Bowling? Where do we go bowling here? Where’s the alley?”
“Not up here, Mum, down there. We use their facilities. We can go down to the Nottingham SuperBowl where you went to.”
She had her mouth open and was trying to utter a reply when her father reappeared,
“Ah, you’re awake and have eaten.” He looked at the empty plate.
“Yes Dad. Billy made a super sandwich. I haven’t had one of those in years.”
“Well, as you’ve learned time doesn’t exist here but down there it’s Sunday 15th, March. You were cremated two days ago. Miranda has gone to church as usual and said a prayer for your soul. Reverend Harper asked about your children and I have to say they are bearing up remarkably well on the surface. On both nights they’ve cried themselves to sleep. Right now, they’re up and having the customary Sunday brunch and they have a visitor; Charles has joined them. Later today, Derek is taking them all out to Sherwood Forest so that Sheba can have a good run. He and Miranda are on compassionate leave again until the end of the month. He will be “sorting” out your affairs. You know he’ll get some surprises don’t you?”
“Grandpa, can we all go bowling, please?”
“That’s a great idea, Billy. Donald will be here soon. We’ll all go down.”
Almost on cue Donald appeared and Brenda said she was opening up.
“Okay. You open up. We’re all going bowling.”
“Great, I’m game.” Donald said before looking at Sofia and saying, “and then later…”
Before she could say anything else she found herself standing looking down the alley at ten pins waiting to be knocked down. There were people everywhere; all the alleys were occupied but they were playing at number six, despite the fact that a group of teenagers were also there. She looked around; it was surreal. She knew she was dead but she was here bowling in the same place where she had been with Miranda and Sophie only a couple of months earlier, well at some stage in the past as time no longer existed.
Billy was busy selecting his ball and finding a lighter one for Sofia, “Mum you can go first.”
“But a group of teenagers are playing here.”
“Yes, but they can’t see us.” As if to prove the point he walked straight through a lanky, spotty youth of about sixteen and Donald gave a poor girl, who was clearly struggling as her previous balls had gone down the gutter, a helping hand by gently pushing her arm and giving her extra force. She was jubilant at scoring a strike; first nothing and then a strike. Donald laughed, “See how we help people down here, Sofia? I’ve made her day. If she never scores another strike she’ll always remember that lucky one.”
“Okay, so we play alongside them; we see them but they don’t see us.”
“You’ve got it, Sweet Pea. I told you this is another life lived on a different plane some would say a parallel universe.”
Sofia took the ball from Billy and proceeded at the same time as one of the boys; her ball knocked his out of the way and hit eight of the ten. The boys went into the gutter and all of his skittles remained in place. Watching it was rather like seeing a negative on top of a different print. Weird. Seriously weird. She knew what had happened but he could not see the ball that knocked his out of the way.
“Eight, Mum. That’s your first ball,” he wrote 8 in the first frame, “you’ve one on either side. That’s going to be difficult.”
“Mm, I think I’ll trying standing to the right and hope for the best. Pity I’ve got one on either side to knock down.” Well, she tried but failed.
“Oh dear, never mind. Your total is eight. Donald, you go next, and then Grandpa and I’ll go last.” Billy was thoroughly enjoying himself. It was as if he was making up for a lost childhood; all those years without his mother.
Donald scored a strike and then seven; Scott followed but only managed five and a two and Billy six and a three.
“Okay Donald, you’re in the lead but not for long,” Billy said as he wrote the scores down and passed the ball to Sofia.
“This is great fun,” she said as her ball sped down the alley giving her a strike, “got one,”
She cheered and looked at Donald.
“Okay, okay,” he laughed and put his arm round her, “at least we can have fun here without it being stolen moments.” He kissed her affectionately on the cheek.
They carried on playing with the lead changing at almost every frame. As they neared the eighth frame Billy spoke, “it’s thirsty work, this, is it cokes all round?”
“Good idea, Billy.” Scott replied.
“You’re going to get drinks here?”
“Well, where else, Sweet Pea?”
Billy ambled over to the bar, picked up four bottles of coke, opened them and poured them into glasses, placed them on a tray and returned with them.
“Another plane. We don’t have money here but we have everything we need. Remember at your party, the drink and food was there while we needed it. When your mother rang the bell the glasses were emptied and the food gone. Likewise, your breakfast; when you had enough the plate was empty.”
“It’s like a long magic show, Dad.”
“Something, like that,” he replied.
They finished the game with Donald managing to win, followed by Sofia, Billy and Scott last.
“Well, I’m out of practice,” he said, “come on, let’s drink up and go over to the Forest where Derek is spending time this afternoon.”
“Yes, Sweet Pea; they’re everywhere.”
Sherwood Forest had never looked prettier to Sofia. It had a blue carpet, beautiful blue bluebells. If only the word, ‘bluebells’ had registered with her when she had gone through JT’s tape she could have spared herself two months of agony. It was a beautiful, clear, sunny and warm May afternoon; the sky was blue, the trees various shades of green and all in leaf. The birds were chirping high in the tree tops. Perfection. Nature was the finest example of God’s perfection, she thought.
Well, that's from Chapter 4 of 'Sofia's Legacy'; the second book in the trilogy Lady M wrote about us. She has just heard that the proof reading of the third book, 'Love You Forever' is complete and we have progressed to the next stage of text-blocking (type-setting). She's hoping to launch it in October at Chilwell, only yards from the house she was born in. It's going to be exciting. Naturally, we will be there. We wouldn't miss it!
She's still playing with those singing horses. She's reached the end of Part 12 and has had #7 neighing from Beverly Hills. She's now working on that foal's story; the one which got him into the contest and to America. Then, it caused the website to crash. There are times when we question her sanity.
Have a magical week!