Monday, 29 July 2013

A letter to my 16 year old self (autobiography)

Dear Julie
My name is Jules. You don't know me yet but I've known you for a very long time.
It's been a difficult time for you and there's more to come. I'm writing this so that you know one extremely important fact. Whatever life throws at you, I am the absolute proof that you will get through it.
1993 I remember it well, so many changes and some real mile stones. Leaving school and turning our back on the bullying once and for all. Well nearly all anyway, a sexist boss and an angry co-worker means that there may be the odd bullying tactic to look forward to, but no more chewing gum in hair or being force fed spiders. You and most the people around you are finally adults. In just a few months our parents will get a buyer for the family home, sell up and move out. Right now your plan is to go with them to live in Wales but you're about to be offered your very first full time job and meet your very first real loving boyfriend. At this vulnerable time when you feel that one part of your family is abandoning you, look to a different family member for support, love and shelter. You're about to get to know your brother in a way you never expected. He's not just the boy who karate chopped us if we got in their way, or who would crash our Mr Men computer game so he could play his Never ending story game. It turns out he's actually a really wonderful guy and he will love you so so much.
It's hard to write to much without giving you spoilers. It is best to live life without boundaries and make your own mistakes and discoveries then to know what's coming and live in fear or anticipation.
I can give you a few hints though.
Animals. It's no secret how much we like our four legged furries. We begged our parents for a month before we got Gizmo our first hamster. It took a year of pleading before our cats Shantih and Charity came along. Luckily our brother shares our love for all things feline and it's only a matter of weeks before a very special kitty enters your life. They'll be a couple more along the line. You have a few assorted rodents to look forward to but the animal that's going to climb in to your heart leaving hoof prints on the way, is your favouritist of them all. Horses are going to feature in your life in a very big way. No more wishing on stars. There's going to be more then one set of hooves loving you.
But it's not all kittens and ponies. Things are going to get hard. There will be some terrifying moments when you feel you may lose control on reality. When your tendency for extreme mood swings will really come to light. My advice to you is to breath. Breath in and out and trust yourself. The hardest thing you'll ever do will be to ask for help. But if you do, the fear and panic will be shared and halved.
Live your life Jules and remember it's about learning and enjoyment.
Keep breathing and love life
Yours forever
Jules x

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

What Makes a Hero by Jules Harley

"So who was it that found me?"
He scanned the room quickly. There was one elderly adult. 2 children. The older one not quite a teenager. And a stranger he'd met on a few occasions., They were in a sparsely furnished room, with curtains closed against the sunlight, making this a very dark and dingy place to be.
"Who sent for me?" His question was more forceful this time.
The younger child pointed at the other man.
"We asked him." The little boy kept his thumb in his mouth even when speaking. "Can you help granny?"
"What and he sent for me?" He lowered his shades that he really didn't need to be wearing in this dark room, and faced the gentleman. "Should have known it would be you. You really don't get this hiding malarkey do you? One government agent finds out about me and I'm gone. Like all the others."
The stranger bowed his head and took a step back but didn't say anything.
Mr sunglasses turned to the boy.
"So now that I'm here, what's wrong with granny?"
The other child answered.
"She's scared." She said. "She's scared of everything and won't leave the house. Please mister, can you help us?"
The man turned to the elderly lady and took the glasses off. He stared intensely and wrinkled his brow in concentration.
He turned to the girl.
"Yes," He said, "I can help her. But you must never tell that you've seen me. In the eyes of the government they mustn't know I was ever here. It would be dangerous for all of us if they found out."
He walked over to the older women who was sitting legs crossed on the floor, rocking back and fourth, humming with her head in her hands.
The man stopped in front of her and offered a kind and quiet greeting. He leant forward and gently took her hand in his and shut his eyes. He appeared to be mumbling under his breath. Screwing his eyes in concentration and muttering. Then as quick as he'd begun, he dropped her hand and stepped back looking a little dazed.
"It's done." He said looking at the children. "And while I was at it, he won't be scared of the dark any more and you might even like mice from now on."
"Thank you mister!" The girl said with her arms round her little brother. "Thank you!"
The man gave his first genuine smile and turned away from the family, he kept his eye on the stranger as he walked away.
And then the world exploded.
Men in black suits appeared everywhere, surrounding the man and the family. Only the other man, the outsider stayed in the back ground.
Someone with a loud speaker started shouting. Barking orders.
"Everyone get down. And you," He pointed to our hero, "Don't move. We're taking you in. It's for your own good and safety. Now do not move!"
The man held his hands in the air, his shades hanging from one of them and turned to the man with the loud speaker as he seemed to be the one in charge of the mission.
"For my protection you say. MY protection. I have helped these people and many others. How did you find me?"
The soldier didn't answer but his eyes flickered towards the stranger. The man saw.
"Damien of course. You were my friend and ally back in the day and now this! You betray me!"
"You're all freaks!" Damien replied. "Freaks the lot of you, with your stupid talents and abilities."
The man started to walk towards Damien and the loud speaker came to life again.
"Do not move. Stop now or we will stop you!"
Someone stepped forwards with a tazer and looked ready to use it.
"Great! Now that I've been officially threatened there's no reason why I can't do this."
He shut his eyes, all screwed up tight and began mumbling to himself.
Damien looked worried..
"No! No! Don't do that! Stop with the face and the muttering! Come on!"
When the man's eyes opened there was a different sight before him.
Men rolling on the floor screaming and scratching at themselves, convinced there were millions of tiny spiders all over them.
Men curled up on the floor. They couldn't stand up as they had a sudden and irrational fear of heights.
Three men were huddled together. Hanging on to each other as they had desperately didn't want to be alone.
The man turned to his lost friend last of all.
"You never did know what happened to the fears once I'd soaked them up. Well here they are, every single one of them. And I've saved the best for you."
Damien sat cross legged on the floor. Rocking back and forth with his head in his hands.
"Enjoy your personal hell!"
With that he upped and left the chaotic scene behind him. Still free to walk the earth and help people when he could.

The end

The Not So Coffee Shop by Jules Harley

My name is Miriam and on the 12th of May this year my life changed. At the time I thought it a change for the worst but on reflection, it's not been a bad few months.
On May 11th I came home to an odd phone message.
'Your husband is cheating on you! Every time you've been with him, he's been thinking of me. I'm Tanya and your husbands a cheater. I found him cheating on me, so that's like double cheating on you!' And the message went on in that vain.
I was shocked but to be honest, that did make sense. All the little things that didn't add up. I got in touch with Tanya (who was actually a really sweet girl) and on May 12th I walked away from my marriage of four years.
I bunked with a very good friend of mine. Lisa. She had a one bedroom apartment near the seafront. I was given the couch which was lumpy but not too awful. Unfortunately not a bed settee though.
The other thing I had to do was get a job. My ex was a wealthy man and had his own company. I'd never had to work before but until the divorce went through, well I was going to need some money! I had no experience of pretty much anything so Lisa suggested I try shop work and directed me to a long main shopping street to try my luck.
I walked along the street first to see what was there. Mostly clothe and shoe shops, nothing truly inspiring but near to the end of the street I saw a new shop. A new coffee shop to be precise. It hadn't opened yet but the finishing touches were being done right there and then.
A young lady with the most reddest of hair was laughing out the front, standing hand in hand with an older man who had silver hair and a silver beard to match. She was practically dancing, a huge smile on her face. I watched for a minute then walked in through the open door and up to the main counter. This looked like a place I would like to work at.
I greeted the man crouched on the other side. Turned out he was the electrician but he pointed me in the direction of the new owners of this venture. Yeps, Misses red hair and her bearded fellow.
I popped back out and introduced myself. The shop was opening for customers for the first time tomorrow. They had no jobs going but they would get in touch if anything came up. Somehow I changed their minds and convinced them to hire me for 3 days and if they didn't make enough from the opening, then I would remain unpaid and leave.
The nervousness. The excitement. This was one of the best days of my life. I was going to be a waitress at a coffee shop! Lisa laughed, but shared my anticipation,
The following day I was there nice and early. My new bosses talked me through the drink making, the cake selecting and the till. By 9am that day the three of us stood behind the counter, tidy and happy just waiting for the customers.
And we didn't have to wait long! The day was frantic, busy and gloriously stressful. I was most certainly going to get paid tonight!
The following day the same and I knew then that this job was going to outlast three days.
By the end of the week we had a second staff member. Nicky our waiter. Another week and another waitress Sammy. And we were still run off our feet!
One day Red and Beardy had shut and locked the front door and we all sat round a table out the back eating some of the near stale cakes and sharing stories of the experiences we'd had since the shop had open. I don't know how we got onto the subject but one by one we suddenly realised a very strange thing.
Since the coffee shop had opened we hadn't sold a single cup of coffee. In fact it was more then that. None of us had made anyone a cup of Tea either.
We'd sold milkshakes, smoothies, fresh fruit and vege drinks the usual range of carbonated beverages and even a few non-alcoholic cocktails. And we had sold several hot drinks too, just not Tea or coffee. Various versions of Hot chocolate, some cup-a-soups and there was even one guy who comes in for a Horlicks. But non of us, not one, not the owners, not Nicky, not Sammy and not me, not one of us had made a single cup of coffee or tea.
We mused about this that night and had a bit of a giggle. Then went home that evening and was back to work in the morning.
Everything carried on as normal for the next three weeks and then something very strange happened.
It was a terribly wet day and our indoor tables were filling up rather quickly. Umbrellas dripping by the tables and cake selling like, well hot cakes! A gentleman walked in looking particularly wet and windswept. He came up to the counter, rain water draining from his balding head. He was out of breath and quite shivery. He paused for a moment and returned mine and Sammy’s smiles. Then he spoke and I will never forget those words for as long as I live.
"It's a chilly day out there for sure," He said, "I would love a cup of coffee please. Black, two sugars." Then he smiled at us.
I looked at Sammy and Sammy looked at me. We then excused ourselves in a hurry and found Nicky out back.
"Nicky! He wants coffee! Someone wants coffee! What shall we do?"
And that was our problem. None of us could remember how to make a tea or a coffee! We discussed it at speed and then decided we better phone our bosses and admit the problem. Nicky dialled and held the receiver out so we could all hear and be heard.
But can you believe it? They couldn't remember how to make it either! The shop was in it's second month and we still hadn't had a request for coffee until now.
We decided we would face the man together. A united front.
The man smiled at me and I smiled back. I picked up a cup and I walked to the counter.
"I am so sorry but I'm afraid we are all out of coffee." I beamed at him sending many happy vibes his way.
The man frowned and touched his chin thoughtfully.
"OK, no matter," He replied, "I'll have a tea then please."
We all exchanged looks and this time Sammy stepped forwards.
"We are really, really sorry but we are all out of tea as well."
The man looked astonished.
"But your a coffee shop?" He questioned.
"We could make you a hot chocolate if you'd like?" I gulped as I said this. I felt so bad that we weren't able to serve him like he'd like.
"I really don't like chocolate." The man spoke quietly. He straightened his coat and prepared to go out into the rain once again but without his thirst quenched.
That was when Nicky had a fantastic idea.
"WAIT!" he shouted to the man and shot off out back.
He returned a moment later with a small cake occupied plate.
"Here" He offered the plate to the man, "Freshly baked Coffee cake. Taken out the oven just minutes ago and still hot enough to warm your insides."
The man took the plate greedily and grinned at us all.
In fact he enjoyed it so much that he comes in every week now, come rain or shine just for a slice of coffee cake.
And that was the one and only time we have ever been asked for tea or coffee! I have however had a few more requests for a Horlicks!

The End

A Camels Journey by Jules Harley

Today I can really feel the heat. Usually I spend 3 days and 2 nights crossing the desert. The sand boils during the day and the night cools my fur. But today I am hot. In fact I am sweating. I haven't gotten a sweat in years and I've been taking this route regularly for longer then I remember.
Right now we are in the middle of the Arabian desert. 2 days from home and 1 more to go before we are across this fiery land. I put one hoof in front of the other and try to concentrate on my breathing to keep me going. I feel almost dizzy. The sun stings my eyes and spots of sand stick to my nostrils. To stop the sand getting everywhere I can normally shut my nose up but my body doesn't seem to be listening to me at the moment. My breath is heavy and I am so happy to realise we are nearly at our rest station.
The humans on our train are good people. They care for us well. While they may not have water for us while we are working, they always treat us to a bucket of greens each night. The herbage tastes wonderful and we all agree that it is worth doing this job just for the promise of them every night.
I stumble. Maybe it is because I am thinking about food, although I really don't feel that hungry. Within seconds there are 2 men at my side. They stop the train and touch my face and flank while shouting out to each other. I don't know what they are saying as I never have learned the language. Now they walk us on as the sun is setting. The man are walking with me and talking again. This time it is soothing and encouraging tones and I really appreciate the company. It is not long until we reach the rest stop, but it has felt like an eternity.
The usual hubble of noise and activity commences. I stay still. Not trusting my suddenly wobbly legs any more. The men stay with me. A lady joins us and they try to put something in my mouth but it smells foul and I resist. I feel bad. I don't want any more bad things near me, thank you very much!
I notice it is suddenly dark, but I am still hot. The blackness usually brings cool relief from a hot day but not this time.
I go down on my knees and the humans around me help me lay properly. They even cover me with a piece of raggedy material that feels comforting.
I don't understand these feelings. I need to sleep now and when I wake up I will feel back to normal again and ready for the last day of our journey. I look up at the stars and wish for the pain to go away. I need to sleep now.

The end