The 31 Deaths of Evelyn JohnsonNumber 21: The Happiest Day of My LifePart 3: The Happiest Day of My Life

The Evelynson Foundation had been a quiet success, and, over the years, the hastily-converted family home became too small to house and support the many children, orphaned later in life, who eventually found their way there. Faced with increasing demand and decreasing resources, Evelyn started calling in favours.

Even the children who hadn’t moved in following the wedding had grown up in close contact with Evelyn – initially brought along by harassed carers after repeated demands to “see the nice lady in the white dress” and then more and more under their own steam every year – and although most of them had long since moved away (and not written for years), when they got the Evelyn’s letter, they came running. Amongst those who had ‘lived in’ the devotion was even more marked.

Letters were written; finances raised; land bought; architects, surveyors and engineers engaged; planning permission sought and obtained; builders employed; and, within two years of Evelyn having set pen to paper, she shuffled through a small army of supporters and cut the red ribbon with a pair of garden shears.

That night, she dreamed of the happiest day of her life; she’d never felt so proud.

The next morning, she was found in her bed, wearing a white night-dress and with a smile on her face. She had never looked so beautiful.

The 31 Deaths of Evelyn JohnsonNumber 21: The Happiest Day of My LifePart 2: Happy Families

It turned out that it had been nothing personal against either the Johnson or Evelynson families – the cellarman had developed a grudge against his employer and, in an effort to ruin him, had found a way to poison every bottle of the best champagne in the place. This was, of course, little comfort to Evelyn, who in one moment had lost everyone she knew and cared about.

In that one moment Evelyn realised exactly what she had to do, and in the eternity of motionlessness that followed, her mind worked and planned and dreamed of a better future quite serenely – until the first toddler to realise that something wasn’t just strange, but very, very wrong, started screaming her little lungs out.

The police found Evelyn slumped against a pillar – her beauty quite different now: cradling that one little girl in her arms – both of them quite dry of tears and so far past exhaustion not even a dry sob escaped them. The other children were gathered about them – those that weren’t sleeping, gazing at this strange, sad lady in her lovely, white dress, who seemed to be the last real grown up in the world, but wouldn’t tell them what to do. They refused to move until she got up and then followed her out of that terrible place.

The 31 Deaths of Evelyn JohnsonNumber 21: The Happiest Day of My LifePart 1: Wedded Bliss

Evelyn Johnson walked down the aisle with her (only slightly) arthritic father doing his best to both keep up and slow her down. “It’s meant to be a dignified procession from the doors to the altar” the vicar had said, and Evelyn had agreed. That had been at the rehearsal the night before and a million years ago. Now, she couldn’t wait to get to the front and look into her husband, sorry, soon-to-be-husband’s eyes and for him to see how beautiful she was today.

“Even more beautiful than the last time I saw you.” he’d tell her. She never tired of hearing him say that, and he said it a lot – even when her hair was still plastered to her face from the night before and the face in question still had crinkled pillow marks etched into it. The thing was, he meant it.

“Maybe, in the morning, just this once, he’ll not be able to say it, after today.” She slipped her arm out from her father’s and skipped the last few yards, grabbed her soon-to-be-husband’s hand, flipped her veil over the back of her head and beamed full force at him.

The service went beautifully, the best man performed his duties manfully, the maid of honour, hers honourably (going on to catch the bouquet as the bride and groom left the church grounds), and none of the numerous children made too much of a nuisance of themselves. She even forgave the vicar for calling her ‘John Evelynson’ and making everybody laugh as he hastily backtracked one vow too many.

The sun shone, but not too brightly, the photographer was quick and courteous, everybody did as they were asked without grumbling and the confetti didn’t get stuck in any awkward places.

The food at the reception was beautifully presented, the service magnificent but unobtrusive, and her now-husband’s mini-speech was ever-so-well received. She’d never felt more proud than the moment he broke with tradition, walked around the table and pouring extra glasses for the staff said, “But first, a toast to my lovely wife, who looks even more beautiful today than I’ve *ever* seen her look before, let alone the last time I saw her – in a face pack with cucumber eyes. To Evelyn!”

As one, the other adults in the room stood and raised their glasses high. “To Evelyn!”

As one, the other adults in the room drank deeply from their fluted glasses, for there were bottles in ice buckets aplenty to keep them topped up.

As one, the other adults in the room stopped breathing and dropped to the floor – leaving a stunned Evelyn surrounded by corpses and suddenly quietened children.

An (almost) entirely true story

I dough-nutted out last night.

Saw a box of mini chocolate dough-nuts just sitting on that supermarket shelf.
They looked at me pleadingly:
“Rescue us from this dread place!”
I carried them away, away in a bag
– Past the checkout
(there was a worrying moment when the assistant pointed an infra-red gun at the box, but it passed).
Past the security guy
(security guys are just one step away from police-men and you know how they treat dough-nuts).
And past the giant double doors.
“Freedom!” I could hear them cheering,

To their horror,
I didn’t release them into the vast wild plains where other doughnuts dwell,
But ate them all up!
Gobble, gobble, gobble!
This (almost) entirely true story has been brought to you from the archives of Tim’s old LiveJournal which he was unsuccessfully trying to export and import into this blog when he gave up and started reading it again.

A Night on the Outside

Most nights, I go to bed wishing I was dead and cursing myself for a fat, useless idiot. It’s been that way for a long time now – the death wish being the default settings on the self-esteem formatted brain-drive. Sometimes, I’m distracted from it by the day or evening I’ve had, and, most of the time, I don’t really notice it’s there. Unless I’m having a bad day – that’s when the only things that calm me down are thoughts of me dying in a variety of ways. If I’m having a really bad day, I’ll plan it – my escape route.

I mention the above merely to set the scene for a truly remarkable event which took place on Saturday night this weekend.

We’d taken a group of the young people from the church away for a combination of outdoorsy pursuits and a weekend looking at the subject of the Holy Spirit. After a day’s worth of study sessions and activities, we held a small service – during which, there was a chance (for anybody who wanted to) to be prayed with if they wanted to be ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’*. In due course, I sat down and was prayed for, and felt nothing.

After the service, we hung around and chatted, drank tea and I tried to plan the mini-seminar I was due to be leading in the morning. Eventually, with half a sheet of A4 covered with scribbled ideas, I decided to call it a night. Back at the cabin, I changed, turned out the light and lay down. As I closed my eyes, I noticed that something was missing: any kind of thought of self harm or suicide or death whatsoever. And more than that: any negative thoughts or feelings about myself were similarly absent. I felt completely peaceful – at ease with myself and life – grateful to have escaped so painlessly. To be fair, I was occasionally aware of the old thoughts trying to creep in, but they seemed to come from a long way off and to be in no way part of what made me me.

I was kind of okay when I noticed that I wasn’t getting to sleep – let the insomnia continue if lying in bed is going to feel as good as this! I couldn’t even stay cross when the boys came charging into the cabin in high spirits and took their own sweet time quietening down. Even Pete’s snoring from the next room seemed less madness-inducing.

So, this is what life on the outside feels like!

Eventually, a not-particularly-fitful doze became sleep for the remainder of the night.

When I woke up, I wanted to die. My glorious release/escape had only been a night on remand, but no less glorious for that.
Since writing this article, I’ve had another death and misery free night, and didn’t even feel too bad during the day.

* Most Christians believe that, when somebody first becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit comes and somehow lives in them, and that it’s possible to be ‘topped up’ with ‘Spirit Power’…