The Last Sunrise

It would be my last sunrise.

The last time I glimpse the orange streaks stretching across the wide blue sky. The sun shimmering gold above the ocean as its dazzling light glistens off the frothy peaks of the waves.

My breath catches in my throat at the sheer beauty of it. Nature at her most glorious.

A young woman rides along the footpath atop the headland where I stand. She stops and pulls her bicycle onto the grass beside me.

“Gosh. It’s a stunner this morning,” she says.

I nod and hum an affirmative.

***

It’s been centuries since he witnessed the spectacle of the dawn. His eyes have not gazed on the sun, nor experienced its warmth for four hundred years.

He watches it rise in movies. The colours vividly captured on celluloid. The grandeur of the moment frozen in time. He strains to remember the touch of it on his cold flesh. The lick of its heat.

He studies the photos I take for him and eagerly listens as I explain every glint, every shade, every sensation the still image does not capture.

I consider how startling he would be in sunlight’s brilliance. His alabaster skin, eternally shadowed by the night, gleaming iridescent. His striking face illuminated, and his green eyes blazing.

I will never see him like that.

Just as I will never see another sunrise.

***

I draw a deep breath, holding the air trapped in my lungs until they burn. Savouring the scent of the sea spray that follows the air down.

I won’t breathe after today. My nostrils will never again tickle from the breeze. My chest will never rise and fall. I exhale an exaggerated puff and marvel at how my lips tingle as the air passes over them.

I will miss it. All of it. But I don’t regret my decision.

Not when I feel his mouth on mine, or his cool touch against my searing hot skin. Not when his hard body presses into me, as his butterfly soft kisses dust my shoulders, and his powerful hands caress my back.

I would give up everything for that.

I will give up everything.

I selfishly want him to love me forever, and if that means dying for him, then I shall.

A tear splashes onto my cheek and I swipe it away before another can follow.

I take one last wistful look at the fledgling day and turn and walk towards my car.

***

He holds my hand in his. “You’re sure?” 

I gaze at his handsome face. His eyes long dead, yet still full of love, crave reassurance.

“I’m positive,” I say, and tenderly kiss his icy cheek.

He runs his nail across my palm, drawing a thin line of blood.

I hiss at the pain and wince as he dips the nib of the quill into the fresh wound.

Red liquid drips from the pen’s end as he hands it to me.

My signature in an ancient book is all it takes to end my life.

I close my eyes and picture the sunrise, fixing it eternally in my mind, before inking my name on the page.

My death was a brief one.

© Amy Hutton 2021

Christmas in July – A Holly and Callum short.

The house loomed before them; a hulking silhouette against the starry July sky. The night was warm and sweat trickled down Holly’s spine.

“I’m so damn hot,” she said, fanning herself.

“Yes, you are,” Callum said, and he pressed his lips to the back of her neck.

She tried to shake him off. “You’re making me hotter.”

He wrapped his arms around her waist. “Do tell.”

 “Now you’re making me sticky.”

“Ooof. Keep talking.”

“Callum.” She gave him a playful shove and watched him laugh as he stumbled backwards. His dazzling smile lighting up the dark. “Can we get this job done so we can go home and take a cold shower.”

“A cold shower isn’t going to help us,” he said, and he leaned in and softly kissed her.

***

 They stood side by side and surveyed the room. The house was a mess. Boxes were strewn across the floor, and a sofa rested on its end against the wall.

“Did the spirit do this? Holly said, in a whisper.

“No. They were moving in when the disturbances began.”

“And they only saw it upstairs?”

“Yes. In the nursery.”

“A haunted nursery. How cliché,” she said, and a floorboard gave a loud creak under her foot.

“And now that cliché spirit, probably knows we’re here,” Callum said, as he loaded iron rounds into his pistol.

Holly grabbed his hand, “Um. It does.” She pointed upwards. “It’s at the top of the stairs.”

Callum shone his flashlight towards the landing. “What is it? What do you see? Are we in trouble?”

 “It looks… It looks like… It looks like Santa.”

“Santa? The jolly guy in the red and white suit? That Santa?”

“Yes. That Santa,” and she heard Callum stifle a chuckle. “Oh god no,” Holly groaned. “He just ho-ho-hoed at me.”

And this time she heard Callum laugh.  

***

Holly sat on their bed thankful that the job was done, the spirit was gone, and they were home. She tugged off her sweaty jeans as Callum watched, a smile playing at the corners of his mouth.

“What?” she said.

“Of all the terrifying things we face in our lives, Holly, you’re scared of Santa Claus.”

“He’s a creepy old dude who likes kids way too much.”

 Callum snorted. “He’s a nice guy who gives people presents.” and he reached down and gently guided her into his arms. “Listen, I was thinking. Maybe you need to face your fear. We could do a Christmas in July thing. Just you and me.”

“Do you promise to stop laughing at me if I say yes?”

“I promise to stop laughing.”

“No Santa though,” she said, as she began to unbutton his jeans.

“How about just the hat. We’ll start off slow.”

“Okay,” she said, with an exaggerated sigh. She grabbed his waistband and pulled him towards the bathroom. “Nothing but the hat, and I meannothing. Except …maybe the boots.”

“Oooo. Kinky.”

“You love it.”

“Yes, I do.”

And Callum had been right, the cold shower didn’t help them at all.

©Amy Hutton 2021

Remy

Behind the sparkling blue eyes and jawline so sharp you could cut glass with it, Luke was a big softie. The kind of softie with a pet rat that whizzes across the floor in one of those clear, plastic balls.

I lifted my feet as the ball encased rodent shot out from under the sofa with a rumble.

“That’s Remy,” Luke said, as the tiny creature spun wildly up the hall.

“As in Ratatouille Remy?” I said, failing to hide my surprise as I pictured this six-foot-something man enjoying Disney movies.

“Yup. He doesn’t cook, though. Wanna meet him?”

He took my hand and lifted me off the cushions with such force my feet briefly left the ground. I collided with his chest. I didn’t mind.

He smiled down at me, his floppy black hair hanging in his eyes.

“Oops,” he said with a crooked grin, and pressed his mouth to mine.

~~~

As kisses go, it was pretty damn good. His lips were soft and warm and still had the sweetness of marshmallows on them. The ones we snacked on while watching the latest episode of The Mandalorian.

“You taste like marshmallows,” he said, and ran his tongue across my lips.

Stars exploded behind my eyes from the unexpected rush of heat that engulfed my entire body.

“So do you,” I squeaked just before he crushed his lips back into mine.

~~~

We stumbled up the hall, bouncing off the walls, giggling into each other’s mouths.

He shouldered his bedroom door open, and we tumbled in.

I fell back onto the mattress with a soft bounce.

“So, we’re doing this?” Luke said, his eyebrows raised.

I grabbed the waistband of his jeans and pulled him towards me, “I sure as hell hope so.”

~~~

We’d been dating for about a month and I’d dreamt of this moment ever since I watched him stride across the restaurant with a red rose in his hand. He was even more handsome than the photo on his dating profile. But his looks weren’t why I chose him. It was because he said he was a Star Wars fan and once had a dog named Indiana. I didn’t know he loved Disney movies too. It was almost too much for my geeky heart to handle.

~~~

A tiny weight landed on me and I gasped into Luke’s mouth.

I looked up and saw a pair of beady red eyes staring me down.

Remy the rat was sitting on my legs, a dirty sock in his mouth.

“Look at that,” Luke said. “He brought you his favourite sock. That means he likes you.”

I turned back towards Luke and my stomach did some kind of gold medal winning gymnastic flip. His hair was sticking out in a thousand different directions, where my hands had mussed it up, and it somehow made him even more gorgeous.

“He does?” I said, hoping he read between my lines.

Luke smiled, “Yeah. He really does,” and shooed the rat off the bed.

I melted into Luke’s arms. “Good. Because I like him too.”

Then his lips were on mine again, soft and warm and still tasting like marshmallow

© Amy Hutton 2020

A Devil Of A Romance – A Holly and Callum short.

Longlisted for Australian Writers’ Centre October 2020 Furious Fiction competition

 ______________________________________________________________________________

“This is kinda romantic,” Callum said, nudging Holly. “A cabin by the lake. You and me…

“Tied up, waiting to die.”

“Well, I said kinda.”

They sat on the floor, back to back, wrists and feet bound, a band of rope pulled tight around their waists.

It was supposed to be a routine haunting. Holly would clear the spirit, and Callum would back her up. Except there was no spirit. Just an elaborate ruse by a pair of amateur Satanists looking to sacrifice a psychic to their dark lord. That’s where Holly came in. Only the idiots forgot the ritual candles and ran into town to pick some up, leaving Holly and Callum alone. Holly would laugh if she wasn’t so damn angry.

“You shouldn’t have come, Callum. They wanted me. Now we’ll both die.”

“We’re not gunna die. We’ve been in worse fixes than this.”

His pinky finger caressed hers, causing a familiar tingle to zip up her spine.

He was right, they had been in worse fixes. Like the time they were trapped in the basement of a condemned house with a furious spirit who sent Callum soaring across the room, splitting his head against a wall. He still carried the scar from that wound. It ran through his left eyebrow. Holly found it sexy.

“Can you wiggle out of the ties?” Callum said, bringing Holly back to the present.

Holly tried to move. “No. But what if we drop to the side?”

They rocked back and forth, falling sideways onto the fluffy white rug that covered the cabin floor.

“What Satanist buys a white rug,” Callum said, as he puffed the long pile away from his mouth. “I mean, blood sacrifices and white do not go.”

“Focus, Callum. Move around a bit. It might loosen the knot.”

They flipped and flopped like two fish beached on the sand until Callum squirmed out of the rope with a “Ta-da!”

“Give me your hands,” he said.

Something wet and warm ran along Holly’s wrist. “Did you just lick me?”

“Maybe.”

“Callum. Focus!” She tried to ignore the goosebumps that erupted across her skin.

“Couldn’t help it,” he mumbled, as he tugged on her ties with his teeth.

The second Holly was loose, she crushed her lips to Callum’s, kissing him hard and deep. He didn’t object.

She forced herself to pull away. “Later,” she said, through heavy breaths. “We need to go.”

They clamoured off the floor and darted to the door.

“Hang on,” Callum said as he dashed back inside. He returned brandishing a bottle of red wine.

“Is that their sacrificial wine?”

“They ain’t gunna need it now. Besides, they owe us. We can grab a pizza on the way home!” He flashed a dazzling grin.

“You are unbelievable.”

“That’s why you love me.”

“That’s why you’re lucky I love you.”

“To the moon and back,” Callum said, and he leaned over and kissed her cheek.

Holly smiled. “And then back to the moon.”

© Amy Hutton 2020

The Cruel Sea

Should I tell Jackson what really happened? Should I confess to him my secret? 

The music from the ballroom wafted on the breeze as I breathed in the salty air, its sweet tang settling in the back of my throat. We stood alone on deck and took in the stars; the tiny pinpricks of light peaking through the swathe of darkness. It had been such a beautiful evening. Perfect. Dancing, laughing, singing, swaying in Jackson’s arms. It made the last time I was on a ship seem like a distant dream. A distant dream preceded by a nightmare.

~*~

Jackson knows nothing of the man I loved before him. The man who made my every day a living hell. Whose cruelty still marks my body and my soul. He knows nothing about what I endured. The humiliation. The brutality. Will he understand if I tell him everything? Will he understand if I tell him the truth about the night the man tumbled overboard and vanished into the inky ocean?

“Somebody, help me!” I remember screaming.

Eventually.

“No. Please. No,” I remember crying.

In public.

But behind closed doors, I secretly celebrated. The joy was almost painful, it was so acute. I didn’t feel sad about it. Not for minute. Not for a second. I mean, I wouldn’t have shoved him over the rail if I didn’t want him dead.

Sometimes I wonder how death claimed him. The man. Was he dragged into the frozen depths and sliced into tiny pieces by the ship’s giant propellers? Or did he scramble to the surface and bob in the great expanse of water until sharks despatched him in a bloodied frenzy?

These are the sweetest of musings.

Jackson never questions me about what happened that night. He never asks for details. He says with grief, he knows the score. He understands that sometimes, it’s easier to keep the pain hidden than it is to share it.

Dearest Jackson with his kind eyes and sweet smile. He saved me in so many ways. He brought brightness back into my bleak world.

~*~

I gaze up at him, the silvery glow of the moonlight illuminating his gentle face. For the first time I know love, and if I’m going to spend my life with this man, then he deserves the truth.

“Jackson,” I say. I notice the thump of my heart pounding against my chest. “There’s something I should tell you.”

Jackson smiles at me, “I know all I need to know.”

“But you don’t.” A quiver colours in my voice, as the beginnings of tears prick at the corners of my eyes. “I didn’t tell you everything…”

“About the man?” he says. “The one you killed?”

“What?” I breath out.

Jackson’s hands suddenly slam against my chest, and the force of his shove makes me stumble backwards.

“Jackson!” I cry, as I bash into the guardrail. The metal impacts across the middle of my back and I yelp in pain and shock.

He shoves me again, and this time my balance falters completely and I tumble over the side.

I somehow manage to grab one of the rails as I fall. But it’s cold and slippery from the spray of the sea and I struggle to hold on. My fingers ache with strain as my feet scramble wildly against the hull of the ship trying to find a hold.

“Help me! Please! What are you doing?”

“I’m doing to you what you did to my brother,” he says, coolly.

I hear myself gasp, and in that moment, I see his face switch from kind to cruel. They have the same sneer, Jackson and his brother. The same ugly, vile sneer.

“You don’t understand,” I say, as I plead for my life, hoping he has more compassion in his heart for me than I had for his brother. “I’m sorry, Jackson. I’m so sorry.”

“I’m not,” he says, and his foot comes down and stamps on my knuckles.

I watch his smirking face get smaller and smaller as I plummet. My arms flailing in front of me, grasping at the air. My screams lost on the wind.

The surface of the ocean is like concrete when I hit it, and the shock of the impact explodes the air from my lungs.

I disappear beneath the waves and the foamy wake of the ship.

 I’m kicking now, kicking and kicking. My hands reaching for the light as I struggle for air. I break the surface briefly and glimpse the stern ship as it disappears into the black night. I wave frantically, but a whirlpool of freezing water is sucking at my legs and dragging me down, and I know I can’t fight it.

Will Jackson raise the alarm, I think, as my lungs start to burn from craving breath. Will he feign panicked devastation while he secretly celebrates?

I know he will. That’s what I did.

I’m dying now, my mind is dimming; my heartbeat slowing. And as the darkness of the inky ocean pulls me into its depths and swallows me, I no longer need to wonder about the man’s death.

Because I’m living it, and in a moment, I will understand everything.

© Amy Hutton 2020