Colorful Book Spines

Debbie Chase - Writing is Good
A Bit About Me

My name is Debbie Spink (writing name Debbie Chase) and I have been writing for many years now.  Since I began writing I have achieved a Certificate in Writing for Children, Diploma in Copywriting, Diploma in Romance Writing and Editor's Choice Award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry.


I have self published four novels which are available to buy on Amazon and other online book stores, these are, “You to Me Are Everything,” a novel part fact/part fiction, “I Wasn’t There,” a book of poetry, “The Confessions of a Pet Sitter” and “What a Catastrophe (Teddy’s Tale), both children’s books, although many of my adult friends have enjoyed them too.


I have had several pocket novels published with My Weekly magazine, DC Thomson & Co, “Planning on Love,” and “Romance on the Run,” and "Puppy Love" which was published in April 2021. Another pocket novel "Esther Baby" was published in August 2021 as well as "The Doppelganger" (renamed "Double Trouble") which was published in October 2021.  Another pocket novel "The Crying Game" was published in May 2022 with "Rachel's War" coming out in December 2022. World Castle Publishing in Florida have published four of my novels “Educating Maggie," "A Step Back in Time," "Ruby Tuesday," and "The Haunting of Pear Tree Cottage," with my latest novel "The Gift" to be  published very soon. Please visit their website at www.worldcastlepublishing.net/debbie-chase


I have also had many children’s and adult’s short stories published in magazines (Girl Talk and Fiction Feast) and many poems published in books and magazines.

Customer Review for "What a Catastrophe (Teddy's Tale) - 

"This book is a joy to read and is well-written and quite amusing at times!"

Customer Reviews for "The Confessions of a Pet Sitter" - "Well written book, great for animal lovers. Couldn't wait to read on to see what happened next."​

"If only they could talk! This book is a refreshing change from wizards & ideal for any animal loving children."

Customer Reviews for "You to me Are Everything" - 

"This is a really good book by a new writer - I think this book would strike a chord with most women. It deals with the death of a child, the affair of a husband and a teenager's first love. Very sad but at times very funny too!"

"I loved this book from beginning to end. The women in the story feel like living characters: their dilemmas, their choices, are totally believable, and as in life, it's not always obvious what the right path is to take. So I'm really rooting for them, I care what happens to them.

The book is a set of three first person narratives, by three women of different generations. There are a number of leaps backwards and forwards in time, it's not done in a confusing way though, and the narrative keeps its flow and its cohesion. Generally the structure is very well done. I would have liked a bit more of Jessie, as it's only in the final section that we become fully engaged with her story, but maybe I just need to read the sequel !

The author's command of the multiple interlocking storylines with her large cast of characters is impressive, and I particularly love the way that she gives us a soundtrack to each period that she writes about, by referencing songs that were in the charts at the time.

In contrast to the realism of the storytelling, we're presented with a symmetry in the three storylines: three accidental pregnancies for three 17 year old girls, who all have big decisions to make. Why the similarities in the stories, what's going on here ? One way of answering this would be to say that what's important here isn't the similarities in the stories, but the differences. Each woman has to face her own unique challenges, and make her own choices. In a deeper sense though, the similarities do matter. They're symbolic of a spiritual bond, stronger than their blood links, which unites the three women and makes us feel that their destinies are intertwined."

 
The Gift 200x300_edited.jpg

The Gift

Chapter One

Emsworth, Hampshire - Summer 1976


“You’ve got the gift,” I remember my grandmother telling me a long time ago, when I was just a girl, and when I looked at her with a frown on my face, she laid a warm hand on my shoulder and, bending slightly, whispered into my ear, “The sight … just like me.. and your mother too.”

I had dreams, strange dreams, which sometimes miraculously came true. I had what I perceived as messages from dead relatives, strange things like the flickering of lights and loud banging on doors only to find nobody was there. Once a harsh voice told me “no” when I almost stepped out in front of a speeding car.  I was sceptical about my gift until I had the dream, the important dream where my gift was truly revealed.

“Do you still think it was only a dream?” my grandmother asked as I gazed at her face, her skin soft and powdery, framed by curly white hair, a slick of lipstick, and then further down to her small frame, clad as always in one of her very much in vogue crimplene trouser suits.

I shivered as once again I recalled the oozing slurry seeping down the hill like a thick black snake to engulf the building beyond which I knew somehow in my heart was a school.  A blue sky arched overhead and the sun glimmered a bright yellow.  I heard panicked screams.  That was in 1966 just a day or two before the Aberfan disaster.  I relived my dream on our little black and white television set, the news announcer’s face grim, my grandmother perched on the settee beside me.  My mum, a handkerchief to her face, sniffing loudly, as tears rolled down her cheeks. 

I was only sixteen with a blinkered outlook and remember turning to my grandmother, my heart beating furiously, and saying, “It’s not a gift … it’s a curse! I couldn’t warn them about this, could I?” I pointed at the television.

“Well, you must use it to help then,” she said sternly.  “If you do good things with it, then it will be a gift.” I’d kept those words with me my whole life so far.

A strong male voice cut into my thoughts, “Uh, Mrs Lane?” and this time it wasn’t one of the voices in my head.  I felt as if I’d been dragged from a dream.  I hadn’t thought of that incident for a long time.

I looked up to see a tall man stooping over me.  He wore thick black framed glasses and had sparse sandy hair and a hooked nose.  “Ms,” I told him, “Ms Lane, Donna Lane.” I held out my hand and, reluctantly it seemed, he took it and, fingers barely touching, gave a limp shake. Holding his tie in place against his chest with one hand, he sank onto the hard plastic chair opposite mine.   He wore dark trousers with a white shirt tucked in, the sleeves rolled up showing freckled forearms. A jug of water and two glasses stood on the table between us. 

“Detective Inspector Ian Ford.” He indicated the badge pinned to his shirt whilst putting a pad and pencil in front of him and a great square walkie talkie to his side, its red and green lights flashing like traffic lights. “How can I help you?”

A sudden spurt of nerves rushed through me.  This was the first time here, in Emsworth’s constabulary, even though my surroundings were very similar to those in Paris.  The same white painted walls, a small window high up, this one splattered with seagull droppings, and the usual clanking paint peeling radiator wide enough to be used as a table, redundant at the moment, cold to the touch and a fan hummed just behind me for the day outside was hot and humid.  The beginning of months of burning heat or so we’d been told by our knowledgeable weather forecasters.

 Detective Inspector Ford gazed at me intently as I hesitated.  I’d helped the police before with my “gift” albeit amidst raised eyebrows and smirks until I proved them wrong, proved myself and my talent, but, pushing all that aside, I took a deep breath and said, “I think I may be able to help you with your investigations into the case of the missing girl, Esme Palmer.”

He sat forward, his forearms on the table.  He seemed eager, expectant, yet furrowed his brow, pursed his lips, before saying, with a sigh, “Oh …. I see.  What do you know?” as if many people had offered help and he’d been disappointed. I could hear the faint cawing of gulls and imagined them strutting the sands like little old men, or flying, their wings outspread, great white shapes against the hard blue of the sky. 

“I can see her somewhere deep in the ground beneath a trap door … you know,” I made a rising motion with my hand curled into a fist. “Sort of like a bunker … I smell earth, something foisty and damp, cold even.”

He leaned further forward, excited, “You’ve seen her?”

“Well no, I had a dream and …”

He held up his hand palm forward, “No, please Ms …” He glanced down at his notes, a fleeting look that perhaps he thought I wouldn’t notice. He’d forgotten my name already. 

“Lane,” I said forcefully, “Donna Lane. I …”

“Please …”

We spoke at the same time, our words clashing together, like somebody mixing bread dough and adding too much salt or too little flour, until politely I held back and he spoke, “Ms Lane, we go on facts here, not dreams, not visitations from Great Aunt Maud or Uncle Henry …” He gazed at me through his thick glasses, his hazel eyes shadowed and tired as he smoothed away impatiently with the tips of his fingers, the sweat that ran in tiny rivers down his face.

“How rude,” I thought before saying aloud, “I’ve helped the police before, the Prefecture de Police in Paris, I led them to a missing girl, Marie Nowell.  I helped to save her life through a dream, a gut feeling, something tangible that I could see and feel.”

We stared adamantly at each other for a split second, “And,” I added, “I haven’t got a Great Aunt Maud or even an Uncle Henry!”

He smiled ruefully and shook his head, “We have a guy here.  Calls himself a Criminal Phycologist.  He draws up a profile of the abductor or the killer.   We go on that and most times it doesn’t let us down.  We don’t go on dreams. I’m sorry Ms Lane, thank you for coming in but …”

He made to stand up as I said even more forcefully, “It’s not just dreams, it’s messages. I’m a physic, or a medium, a clairvoyant … these things work. People like me are becoming more accepted.  I know I can help you. Just hear me out … please.” I found myself standing, my palms flat on the table.  I’d raised my voice, almost to a shout, the muscles taut in my neck, but I had to make myself heard in this world of dominant men.  Heck, I was surprised that this room was so sparse.  Surely the walls should have been decorated with pictures of “Page 3 girls.”

He sat back down and reached for the walkie talkie. “Okay, I’ll get Baz in,” and when I looked at him enquiringly, “The Criminal Phycologist …”

Before I could say anything, he spoke quickly, “Hi … Laurie? Get Baz will you?” There was a short silence and our eyes met again, his shadowed through the glasses, telling me nothing.  “Okay … tell him I need him now if possible … interview room one. Oh … and tell him it’s concerning Esme Palmer.”

“Why?” I thought, “Why is he getting the Criminal Psychologist in? Huh, to make me look stupid no doubt!”

There was a tense silence as the Inspector scribbled on his note pad.  The fan whirred yet the room grew hotter, the air dense as treacle poured onto a sponge pudding.  Sweat trickled down my back and I longed for a cool breeze and maybe a cool drink.  Just as I thought that, the Inspector poured us both water from the jug and passed me a glass.  I drank it gratefully, it tasted like nectar, a nectar of the Gods, and the best I’d had in my life. The Inspector sat back on the chair now, relaxed, legs stretched out in front, his hands laced behind his head. The door suddenly screeched open and a man walked in.

“Ah,” said the Inspector, sitting up straight, “Thanks for coming so quickly, Baz … um, this is Ms Lane … Donna Lane, thinks she might be able to help us in the Esme Palmer case.” He voice rose at the end of the sentence as if he was asking a question when he wasn’t.

The man reached out a hand and gave me a smile so charming, my stomach flipped and my face burned.  “Hello Ms Lane, I’m Baz Brady, ah,” he hesitated briefly, “I’m a Criminal Psychologist.  You know something about Esme Palmer?” I felt a jolt like electricity pass between us as we shook hands.

He sat down, a powerful looking man, his shoulders broad beneath a shirt as bright white as the Inspector’s.  I couldn’t help staring at the chest hair that sprawled from the open neck. He was bald, his head smooth and round making him as attractive as our lolly pop sucking hero, Kojak, and his eyes, gazing at me so intently, were a deep brown. Stubble coated his chin and his cheeks.  My face burned even more, my cheeks aflame, (maybe it was just the heat and not the affect of this man, Baz Brady) and I felt breathless, inwardly quivering like a jelly.  What was wrong with me?

He looked worriedly from me to the Inspector, as if sensing tension, when I said, “I’m a clairvoyant, Mr Brady.  I see things.  I think I see where Esme Palmer could be.”

“Ah,” he said, with understanding now, “Hmm, well we don’t usually work that way, Ms Lane.” He tapped his pen against the desk. 

“Donna,” I said.

“Um, Donna.  I make a profile and …”

“Oh,” I interrupted, and before I could stop myself, said, “You mean you make the usual profile.” I counted on my fingers.  “Number 1, he’s a loner, keeps himself to himself.  Number 2, he also lives alone, seems very quiet and unassuming.  Number 3, he hates his mother.  Number 4, it’s definitely a man, no way would a woman murder alone.  Number 5, he has pictures of his victims plastered all over his bedroom wall … oh, I could go on and on.”

“Oh my God,” I thought, “What am I doing?  They’ll chuck me out now for sure.”

Both men chuckled like comrades that worked for the blue team, whilst I worked for the lowly red, as the Inspector said, “Yeah, that’s pretty much it, Ms Lane, and it works for us.”

“I saw the Aberfan disaster before it happened,” I told them quietly.  I turned to Baz Brady, “And, as I told the Inspector earlier, when I lived in Paris, I helped the Prefecture de Police with their investigations, most especially into the missing girl, Marie Nowell.  Do you remember her?”

“Yeah, rings a bell,” replied Baz.

“We found her alive,” I said proudly, “Tied up, bruised and tear stained but alive.  Give me a chance, I can help you. After all, you’ve nothing on this case at the moment have you?”

“We’re doing okay,” said the Inspector, turning to look at Baz, “Aren’t we Baz?” He gave him a nudge.

“Well, yeah, yeah, of course we are.”

“Huh,” I said, riled up now, “I don’t believe you.  I don’t think you’ve any leads at all.”  I looked at them, my gaze skittering from one to the other.

“Well, that’s not something we can divulge,” said the Inspector.  “We’re working through our findings.”

Hands on hips, head thrust forward like an angry bull, I said, “So you don’t want my help then?”

They shook their heads slowly as the Inspector said, “Well, let’s just say, if we need your help in the future, we’ll contact you … okay?

And Baz finished off, “Is that okay, Ms Lane?” which at least was accompanied by a shamefaced smile.

“Do you see me as a threat or something, Mr Brady?” I asked him.

“No, not at all,” he said, somewhere between a pained and incredulous look on his face.

“Okay,” I said, “But I really want to help.  I’ll leave my card just in case either of you change your mind.” I placed a small square business card on the table between them as, without a backward glance, I  picked up my bag and swinging it over my shoulder, walked out of interview room one, trying very hard not to slam the door behind me.

                                                ***

Fuming, I walked quickly out of the police station, out onto the stoop and down a flight of concrete steps, and onto the cobbled Emsworth High Street.  The heat, quivering in the air, hit me hard.  Overhead the sky shone a deep blue and the sun a bright white pulsating glow.  Perhaps our clever weather men were right this time and we really were at the beginning of a heatwave. The sea lay ahead, flat and calm as a silver mirror, a triangular shape in between the houses and pubs at the end of the street.  The air smelt of the heat interlaced with salt and the greasy smell of fish and chips and baked pasties.  Seagulls swooped and dived making their strange cawing sound like somebody laughing.

The benches outside the pub ““The Bluebell” were already full with people enjoying a liquid lunch and revelling in such a gorgeous day after a long dark winter and a somewhat tepid spring.  Heart rending music streamed from the open doorway, “I’m not in love, so don’t forget, it’s just a silly phase I’m going through …”

I hummed along to it, calmer now since my rejection from the Emsworth police team consisting primarily it seemed of Detective Inspector Ian Ford and, for a reason I couldn’t define yet, the very attractive Baz Brady.  My heart hadn’t fluttered like that since Pierre and as for the rejection, I decided that I should be used to it in England.  The French police were obviously a lot more open minded about my line of work.  Stopping half way down the cobbled hill, I gazed proudly at the shop looming in front of me.  My very own shop, its frontage complete now, and the sun glinting off its massive bowed windows either side of the glossy black door, its name ““The Tarot Trove”” written in large gold letters. At last I could share my love of the intriguing world of the tarot with others. 

 All I had to do now was fill the window area and the space inside with tarot cards, glossy covered books explaining tarot and palm reading, incense sticks, candles and other paraphernalia such as jewel studded skulls, black cat ornaments and the ever popular Phrenology heads and hands covered in their strange black writing.  I couldn’t wait. “I keep your picture, upon the wall, it hides a messy stain that’s lying there …”

I went down the narrow alleyway to the side of the shop that separated me from my next door neighbour, “Heart & Hunt” solicitor’s practice, passing all the silver waste bins lined up against the wall and, taking out a key, I let myself in through the back door which led straight up a flight of steps to the flat above.  My black cat Bernie, short for Bernadette, wound herself seductively around my ankles as I stepped inside.  Picking her up, I moved to the window and cranked it open.  Hot air swirled inside shaking the dust motes into a frenzy. “Ooh you’ll wait a long time for me, ooh, you’ll wait a long time …”

Bernie eagerly ate her food as I put the kettle on the hob and got a mug from the cupboard into which I put in a spoonful of coffee, a spoonful of sugar, which I really should stop taking, and, after the kettle screeched to the boil, filling the kitchen with steam, I added water and, carrying it into the sitting room, sat down on the settee.  I gazed around, taking in my new home.  It was only small, just a sitting room, kitchen, one bedroom and a bathroom and of course the shop below which, crossing my fingers like a child, I hoped to be a success.  “… and just because I call you up, don’t get me wrong, don’t think you’ve got it made …”

Taking a sip of coffee, I thought back over the sequence of events that had brought me here to this place and the only explanation I could give anybody was that I’d run away.  Yes, run away, not just once but twice now until here I was all alone.  No Pierre and no Mum and Dad, no Grandmother either, although that wasn’t my fault.  She’d died just before I ran away for the first time.  Bernie’s claws digging into my leg brought me back to the present, “Hey,” I said to her, “Okay, I’ve got you, you’re special.  Didn’t I bring you with me all the way from gay Paree?” She purred loudly as if she had a motor inside her little body as I stroked her long black fur.

Anyway, reader, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.  Let me explain. I’ll backtrack a bit.  We went through a particularly bad time as a family (I can’t tell you about that now but I’ve no doubt it’ll rear its ugly head over the course of this story) and Mum and Dad moved away, all the way from Emsworth in Hampshire up to the north of England.

They’re still there now and, although I’ve kept in touch over the years, I haven’t actually seen them for a long time. I was 17 and eager to begin a life of my own so, after deciding not to move with Mum and Dad, I took off with a friend from college to go grape picking in France.  They weren’t pleased as you can imagine, especially after what had happened, I think they felt I’d deserted them, but that’s for another time. 

Ah, I know what you’re thinking.  Is this where Pierre pops into the story?  Grape picking in France, the French name Pierre. And, well, yes, you’re right.  I met Pierre more or less as soon as we’d arrived.  A tall skinny French man with a shock of black curls and bright blue eyes.  I was surprised that he noticed me, an average looking English girl, my straight brown hair cut into a very fashionable pageboy and bland hazel eyes until strong light transformed them into emeralds, but I certainly noticed him and, when the season was over, my friend went home and, even against her whispered words that she thought “Pierre was not to be trusted,” I went to Paris with him.

I was 18 when we married and Pierre 20.  Thank God we had no children because after 8 years together, he left me for somebody else, somebody tall and blonde, and curvy. Huh, didn’t I half guess that would happen?  So, what did I do?  Did I fight for him? Did I shout and scream? Did I cry? No! I upped sticks and, carrying Bernie in a basket ran away again, this time though with a sizeable chunk of money from the sale of our house in my bank account.

I changed my name back to Lane from Dupont.  I never did like being called Donna Dupont, too many “D’s” don’t you think? And I’m here, back in my birthplace, Emsworth, wondering what’s going to happen now.  Maybe I should do a tarot reading to give myself some idea, something to prepare myself for, and something to look forward to. 



I’m prepared to be recognised, for people to stare and whisper and say, “Isn’t that Donna Lane, the girl that ran away?”  But I haven’t seen one single familiar face. No old school friends, no neighbours.  Maybe they all ran away too.  And if you’re wondering, did I have the sight or the gift, as my grandmother used to call it, regarding my marriage when I was in Paris? Well, no I didn’t.  It deserted me then just as I deserted myself. 

 
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Free Chapter One of The Doppelganger and Poems for you to Enjoy!

THE DOPPELGANGER

London - 1968


Chapter One           

It was a filthy night, the rain falling in long silver sheets, the gutters gurgling and the paths slippery and shiny as ice.  Cars whooshed past, tyres squeaking.   I ran, ducking beneath my umbrella, heels tip tapping, glad I’d worn knee high boots to protect my precious skin tone stockings from dirty splashes.  The lights of a café loomed ahead, spilling out onto the pavement, a welcoming sight in the murk.  Without hesitation, I darted inside, the door pinging and my umbrella dripping all over the tiled floor.

It was warm and fuggy, the windows streaming with condensation, the air heavy with the smell of strong coffee and fried food.  Mostly big, bearded men, wearing baggy jeans and checked shirts, sat at square red and black Formica topped tables, quaffing from mugs and eating egg and chips with triangles of limp white bread at hand to dip into the runny yolks.  There was a burble of conversation overlaid with raucous laughter.

            Shivering, I sat down and gazed around, shaking my chiffon scarf from my head.  People turned and stared.  I don’t usually frequent these sort of greasy spoon places but the rain was relentless and, for somebody who’d lived in Paris for the past year, a place like this made a refreshing change.  I loosened the belt on my trench coat and took off my gloves. The waitress bustled over and I ordered coffee as the jukebox burst into song, “What am I supposed to do with a girl like Jessamine, though my eyes are open wide, she’s made my life a dream …”

            A woman sat nearby, sipping at her drink, a glossy magazine open in front of her on the table.  I could see her profile, her nose straight with a tiny tip tilt at the very end, she had shoulder length hair with a dangly fringe. Frowning, I peered closer, did I know her?  Even the pretty blue and yellow scarf draped over the back of her chair looked familiar.  The waitress came and, with a nod of thanks, I sat back a little as she placed a steaming cup on the table.  The spoon tinkled against the cup as I stirred in a cube of sugar and, inhaling the fragrant brew with pleasure, took a sip. 

            “That’s it,” I thought, “Her scarf … it’s the same as mine …” Absentmindedly, I fingered the material soft and damp from the rain. Perhaps feeling my intense gaze, the woman turned her head and for one long heart stopping moment we stared at one another.  I gasped, my hand over my mouth. I thought I’d made a mistake and that the wall was a mirror, but the woman didn’t move. Her hands stayed rigid as hooks clinging to the edge of the table.  Apart from that one small thing, it was as if I was looking … at myself.  “When Jessamine stays, though time goes fast, this is my world at last, beautiful days lost in her eyes, but then the whole world dies …”

                                                            ***

            “Sometimes we become our own doppelgangers … we still look the same, but behave like someone else …”

                                                            ***

            My smile creasing her face, she stood up and came over to the table, “More coffee?” she asked, “I don’t know about you, but I feel shaky, it’s not every day you meet your twin flame is it?” She nodded towards the waitress, as she rolled her magazine and put it in her bag, who nodded back and then rushed to the counter, to the hissing and steaming of the coffee machines. 

            “Don’t you mean your doppelganger?” I replied.  I motioned with my hand that she should sit down.

            “Ah,” she said, “Now you’ve made it seem like something scary … weird … when really it’s not …” She sat down opposite me, the chair scraping harshly on the floor as she pulled it out.  I noticed that like me she wore a cream trench coat, a pale blue blouse with a pattern of white whereas mine was the other way around.  We both wore skirts of a deep blue, very short with black boots that reached our knees. Our scarves were the same and our gloves of black leather, hers now on the table, mine scrunched nervously in my hand.

            “What do you mean?”

            “That word doppelganger … it sounds sinister …” She fiddled with the ends of her hair with her fingers, smoothing it, rubbing it on her chin, taking it near to her mouth. 

            I shrugged and smiled, said, “Did you know it’s a German word meaning “double-walker?”

            She smiled again … my smile … the smile that I’ve seen in the mirror so many times.  Her hair was the same light blonde and even her eyes, a bright green flecked with specks of gold that shone out from that identical face.  Noisily talking some of the bearded men got up to leave, opening the door and letting in a blast of cold air.  The waitress brought our drinks, hastily putting them down, as another group came in, diverting her attention away from us.

            We faced each other again, unable to take our eyes away.  I felt nauseous, as if I’d eaten or drunk something bad, my heart beating fast, having the strangest feeling that this was the beginning of something but not knowing what.  

            “What’s your name?” she asked me.

            I smiled and said, “We’re so in awe of each other that I think we’ve forgotten common courtesies … Lucy Richmond … and yours?”

            “Stella,” she told me, “Stella March …”

            “Ah … Little Women … which one are you?” She held out her hand and we shook, our grip firm and hard. 

            “Um …” she said, her head to one side, seeming to thinking hard, “Jo, I think … practical, down to earth …”

I giggled and said, “Yes me too, although I may have a little of Amy’s selfishness.”

She nodded, “Yeah perhaps that too.” And then quietly as if an afterthought, “Not Beth’s goodness though.” She sipped her coffee and then, taking a sneaky glance at my hands, asked, “Are you married?”

            “No …” I shook my head, “Almost … but I escaped … you?”

            “No … I’ve been too busy for anything like that … I’ve been nursing both my Mum and Dad through illnesses … “

            “Oh, I’m sorry …”

            She shrugged, “They’re both gone now and … sometimes I don’t know what to do with myself … I wanted to be alone for so long … but now I feel guilty for getting my wish … it was stressful, I lost my job, my friends …”

            I nodded at the loneliness in her voice, wondering why she’d said she didn’t have Beth’s goodness.  She had it in buckets. “Yeah I can relate to that in a way. My escape plan, after my fiancé dumped me, was to run away … so I went to Paris … I’m living in a garret writing a book … just as F Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway did …”

            She threw her head back and laughed, my laugh, robust and healthy.  “Truly?”

            “Yes,” I said, “I’m about half way through …”

            “What’s it about?”

            “It’s a romance …. boy meets girl, you know …”

            “Oh how I’d love to do that,” she said sincerely, “You’re so lucky.” I watched all sorts of emotions flitting across her face … my face … it was bizarre, weird … as if I’d suddenly found my long lost twin sister.  Thoughts jostled through my mind, strange thoughts that I didn’t know if I could put into words but, as if prompted to do so, I blurted them out.

            “Well … you can if you want to … you could be me … and I could be you … wouldn’t that be a hoot?”  I sat back in my chair, calm and relaxed as if what I’d said was really no big deal. 

            She sipped her coffee which must be cold by now.  Mine was so I couldn’t drink it, with a thin film like oil on its brown surface.  “You mean …” She pointed a finger from me to her like a child, “We could swop places?”

            I nodded, “Why not?” I shrugged and raised my palms in the French way, “Pourquoi Pas?”

            “Wow … it’s a mind blowing thought!”

            “For six months maybe?”  I gazed at her with challenge in my eyes.   I noticed that the waitress was putting chairs on tables and had a bucket and mop ready to wash the floor. The coffee machine was quiet and the jukebox silent and dull without its flashing lights.

            “Hey, you two … you gotta be sisters right?” said the waitress, and then peering closer, “Nah, gotta be twins,” Her jaw moved rhythmically as a cow chewing cud, “You even dress the same …” We looked up together and smiled, not wanting our friendly waitress to know that we were neither sisters nor twins but doppelgangers. Stella was right … the word did sound sinister … I felt a shiver run down my spine. “Five minutes then girls,” She pointed at the exit, “And I’m locking that door …”

            Stella stared back at me, holding my eyes with hers, and, after draining her cup and swallowing hard, opened her mouth to speak.

                                                                        ***

            I’m in Stella’s apartment … yes, me, Lucy Richmond … well, saying that I’m not Lucy anymore, I’m Stella March so will refer myself to that name from now on as I will refer to the real Stella as Lucy.  I’ve stepped into another woman’s shoes and all I can do now is see how well they fit.   It’s a big place in an old converted house, the rooms high ceilinged and white, bigger than my little garret in Paris making me wonder how she will adapt, how Stella, I mean Lucy, will fit in to the Paris lifestyle.  The swinging sixties is oh so good in gay Paree as they say, but so it is in London too. That’s why I’m here now anyway, oh how I needed a break from Paris, from French voices and French ways, extended now thanks to my doppelganger.

I think of Lucy, wondering what she’s doing.  Is she looking around my place just as I look at hers?   Will she go for a walk around the local area, which is quirky, different, my little garret hidden in back streets with unexpected steps up and down, or will she stroll the River Seine and watch the Eiffel Tower light up the dark?  I know that she will like the balcony that juts like a triangular shelf from my bedroom.   I spend many hours there with a glass of wine gazing at the cobbled streets and the well-dressed people as they walk up and down like models on a catwalk. 

            Six months we’d agreed on when we’d met last night in the same café. The café called “The 7Up Cafe,” something that neither of us had noticed the day before. There was a different waitress, a young girl, wearing an overall of pink and white, who made no mention of us being sisters or twins.  We exchanged documents … passports, birth certificates, car documents. She has a red mini with a Union Jack painted on the roof.  I can see it now in the little car park at the back of the building.  I have a 1964 Citroen 2CV, which, because it’s tipped one day to become a classic, makes me hopeful that Lucy will treat it with the respect it deserves.

            It’s lucky that we’re both so much alone in the world, neither of us living near close family which will make this adventure, as I’m thinking of it, so much easier.  Neither of us will have to lie or pretend.  I suppose that’s the only way it will work.  Lucy has no family now, no brothers, no sisters and her parents are gone.  She has no current boyfriend and not even close friends.   “I lost contact with everybody while looking after Mum and Dad,” she had told me.

  On the other hand, I have family. I have a Mum and Dad and a brother but they emigrated to Australia a few years ago so, even if I do call once in a while, they won’t have a clue where I am. I could be calling from … I don’t know … Bangladesh, and they’d be none the wiser. It would be interesting though to see if, on catching sight of my doppelganger, they would know that she wasn’t their daughter.  Would there be anything that would give it away? Looks wise I don’t think so … but character? Quirks? I wouldn’t like to take that risk.

As I already told Lucy, I ran away to Paris when Miles, my ex-fiancé, dumped me just before the wedding for my so called best friend, the dark flirtatious Anita. I knew that I could manage alone in Paris, I’d worked at all sorts of jobs, squirreling away money for just such a time as this.  So being alone, nursing my fragile heart, whilst writing a romantic book about, funnily enough, fragile hearts, was my life … until now.  Until I met my doppelganger and everything changed.  My very own shattered heart has been put on the back burner for six whole months while I get the very unusual chance to pretend to be somebody else.

                                                            ***

I decide to go out, I want to walk the streets of London, to see if they really are paved with gold. Maybe I can collect some in a pot. Peering from the window I see that it’s a typical April day, the sky blue and cloudy and a breeze, filled with raindrops, that’s shaking the trees so they gyrate like Go Go dancers.  Pulling on my black wet look boots and belting my coat tight at the waist, I grab my shoulder bag and, closing the door firmly behind me, take the stairs down into the hallway.

Tying a chiffon scarf over my hair, I go out the main door and, running down the steps, find myself on the main street.   A long street of grand houses, interspersed here and there with shops, a hairdresser, a newsagent, a couple of cafes, a pub on the corner, “Gales” written into the smart green tiles of its façade, the pub sign with a picture of a lamb, swinging backwards and forwards.

“Ah, so this is Pimlico,” I thought.  A strong breeze blew, pulling at my scarf and my hair, getting even wilder as I approached the river Thames its water choppy and turbulent, the wildlife frantically swimming as if on a wild fairground ride.  I took a few haphazard twists and turns down back streets where I noticed a couple of take-away places, the spicy smell of Chinese curry wafting in the air.  Loud music came from the open doors of record shops and teenagers stood in groups laughing and chattering.

  My heart rose at the thought of my six months here in London, although my half written book, the pages neatly stacked, gave me a pang of guilt.  Oh, but that’s what I’d do.  I’d buy pens, pencils and paper and finish it while I was here.  In my mind I could smell the new pencils and notebooks and imagine myself writing on the lined pages, my handwriting long and looping.  I looked around for a stationery shop but instead found myself on another long tree lined street with more majestic houses, some now turned into flats and others into shops, mainly antique shops I saw with pleasure.

I stopped at the first one and, gazing into its plate glass window, saw that it was very upmarket, the window full of all sorts of interesting items. My mum and dad had always been into antiques so I was used to the old and unusual objects that were strewn around the house as I was growing up.  Gazing up at the shop sign, written in large gold letters on a black background, I saw that it was called “Freeman Antiquities.”  A bell jingled as I walked into the plush interior, the air smelling sweet as joss sticks burning at a party.  The atmosphere was hushed and I walked slowly, looking at the pictures hanging on the walls, my heels sinking into the deep carpet. 

One of the pictures caught my eye, two babies snuggling in a crib, and peering closer saw that its name written in block capitals was “A Double Blessing.” It was a quaint picture, something to give to twin sisters or even perhaps your very own doppelganger.  But then again something to keep for yourself. 

 A voice cut into my thoughts, “Can I help?” and I spun around to come face to face with a very attractive man.  He was swarthy skinned and had very straight black hair that hung to his shoulders, middle parted and springing back from his forehead, yet his eyes were green, a beautiful clear green, lighter even than mine, and not dark brown or black as you might expect of someone with such colouring.  His looks were so unusual, I couldn’t help but stare. 

His face broke into a smile as he said, “Well, I don’t believe it, Stella March …” He frowned then and visibly paled as if something had just occurred to him or that he’d seen a ghost, “I haven’t seen you for years …”

My heart thumping hard, I must have looked mystified but quickly pulled myself together and said, “Oh hi … how are you?” Yet thinking, “How on earth does Lucy know this gorgeous creature …”

He seemed to collect himself and smiled showing even white teeth. His lips were very red in amongst a sprinkling of dark stubble on his cheeks and chin.  “You don’t remember me at all really do you?”

“Well …” I shrugged and gave a little gasp of laughter.  “Oh my God, how stupid he must think I am. Any woman meeting this man would never forget him.”

He held out his hand which suddenly enveloped mine, sending an erotic tingle all the way along my spine, from the very bottom to the very top, “Cole … Cole Freeman? I remember you from school … and then I used to see you around quite a bit, mainly in the bars in Soho, but not for a while now though … ages actually …”

“Oh … of course … sorry, school seems such a long time ago … ““Freeman? So this shop must be his … or his parents? He’s done so well for himself … far better than me … my poor fragile heart was beating so hard, it seemed to reverberate throughout my whole body …”

“Well yeah it is … the good old days, I can’t believe I’m twenty-eight, getting so near that thirty milestone …” I liked the way he dressed. The smart black suit with fashionable flared trousers, a white shirt tucked in and open at the neck, looked good on him.  He wore a silver chain that rested lightly on his collar bones. 

“Yeah … well I’m twenty-seven …”

“And not changed a bit … well apart from a slight twang … Australian?”

“Um, yeah, I did a bit of backpacking around that way …”

I felt a deep red heat rise up my face and neck.  I definitely wasn’t used to such attention from good looking men that I’d only just met, but of course Cole hadn’t a clue that I’d only just met him.  Hmm, interesting that Lucy had frequented bars in Soho. She said she had no friends, so who did she go with? Even so I felt quite dowdy and unadventurous for a moment or two, until Cole broke into my thoughts, “Anyway, is there anything I can help you with?”

“This picture …”

“Yes, lovely isn’t it … Bessie Pease Guttman … an American artist.  She painted mainly children and young babies … apparently she used her own children as models ……”

“Really?” I glanced away from the picture to catch him staring at me, his green eyes fixed and almost yearning, “Yes,” I said as, quickly, I turned back, “A similar style to Mabel Lucie Atwell would you say?”

“Yes!” He gave me a quizzical look, “You seem to know something of art? Antiques?”

I shrugged, “Not really … although I do like both, but my Mum and Dad always had an interest so I suppose I grew up with it. Do you know how old it is?”

“Yes, this one was painted in around 1915.”

“Wow, so old, that’s great.  How much is it?”

He gave me a price and, thinking mainly of myself and my doppelganger, I said I would take it.  He wrapped it carefully and put it in a sturdy carrier bag with “Freeman’s Antiquities” written on it in large black letters. He gave it to me along with that smile again … that smile that lit up his whole face.

“It’s been great to see you again, Stella …but …” He ummed and aahed a bit, seeming unsure of what to say, “I don’t know if it’s up your street or even if you’re looking for work, but I need some help here … just one day a week, or sometimes two, mainly to serve and look after the customers.  I’ve got a lot of cataloguing that I need to catch up on at the back.  I was just about to advertise but if you’re interested … I have a feeling you’d fit in really well …” He must have noticed my inquisitive gaze because he added hastily, “I mean because of your interest in antiques …”

He let the rest of the sentence hang in the air as the door pinged and a group of people came chattering in.  They talked in loud American accents exclaiming, “Hey, what a shop …” “Did you see that stuff in the window …” “Wow man …” They gave us both cheery waves as they pottered around, looking at the pictures on the walls as I had earlier.

“I’m sorry … I’ve put you on the spot …”

“No … it sounds good, um …”

“Look, take my card, give me a ring when you’ve had a think.  I could do with somebody here within a couple of weeks though.”

I nodded and, putting the card carefully in my pocket and picking up the picture, said that I’d be in touch. We exchanged a long look as once again he gave me his lovely boyish grin and said, “It’s been wonderful to see you, Stella …”

With another hot blush suffusing my face, I turned and went to the door, the American people making a beeline for Cole straight away, “Hey, man, what’s the story on that picture,” And then pointing, “Yeah, that one right over there … the one with the dogs …”


Man on the Wall


Catch me now for I fear I may fall

In love with you, man on the wall,

Your sparkling eyes and ethereal face,

Your charm, your wit, your sexual grace.


Hear me now, but what do I say?

I don’t know you, so come what may,

Why do I have feelings flowing so deep

That wish you were mine to cherish and keep?


I dream of kissing your full soft lips

And feeling your gentle finger tips

Caress my skin, then stroke my cheek,

My body trembles, your eyes I seek.


I gaze at your picture for hour after hour

Til my passions rise as high as a tower

Which crashes and tumbles to the ground

So I scream and scream, yet make no sound.


For I realise, my love, my man on the wall

That I’ll never know you, no, not at all,

Though you seem familiar, you’re a hopeless dream

If I sought you out, would you be what you seem?


Debbie Chase


YOUNG JACK


Young Jack had an enemy, his name was Big James

He bullied the young ones and spoiled their games,

He pulled the girl’s pigtails and made them scream,

Then sat back and grinned like the cat with the cream.


It all came to a head one fine summer day,

Young Jack was determined to make Big James pay,

He confronted him, his fists clenched tight,

“Come on Big James, let’s have a fair fight.”


Big James sneered, “A fight indeed,

You’re nothing to me, you little weed,

I’ll get the better of you, easy as pie,

Come here Young Jack, be prepared to die.”


Big James struck out and gave Young Jack a punch,

“Hurry up,” he said. “It’s nearly time for lunch.”

Young Jack was angry, he gave a great thump

And Big James went down with a tremendous bump.


He lay on the ground not moving at all,

“Get up Big James,” he heard Young Jack call.

He tried to rise but felt too weak,

“You’ve won Young Jack,” said his voice so meek.


The children aren’t bullied any more by Big James,

They’re free to run and play their games.

Young Jack is a hero, his grandchildren he will tell

The story of the day that Big James fell.



Debbie Chase

RAPUNZEL

This is the Princess Rapunzel so fair,

With long, silky corn coloured hair,

Who is locked in a tower that reaches so high,

It almost touches the blue of the sky.


This is the witch ugly and old

Who has captured the Princess so we are told,

The Princess Rapunzel who is so fair

With long, silky corn coloured hair,

Who is locked in a tower that reaches so high,

It almost touches the blue of the sky.


This is the prince so much in love

Who will rescue the Princess from above,

Who hates the witch ugly and old,

Who has captured the Princess so we are told,

The Princess Rapunzel who is so fair

With long, silky corn coloured hair,

Who is locked in a tower that reaches so high,

It almost touches the blue of the sky.


This is the window from which hangs the hair,

So the Prince may climb it like a stair,

Yes the Prince who is so much in love,

Who will rescue the Princess from above,

Who hates the witch ugly and old

Who has captured the Princess so we are told,

The Princess Rapunzel who is so fair,

With long, silky corn coloured hair

Who is locked in a tower that reaches so high,

It almost touches the blue of the sky.


These are the scissors which cut the golden locks

So that the witch could laugh and mock

At the window from which hangs the hair

So the Prince may climb it like a stair,

Yes the Prince who is so much in love

Who will rescue the Princess from above

Who hates the witch ugly and old,

Who has captured the Princess so we are told,

The Princess Rapunzel who is so fair

With long, silky corn coloured hair,

Who is locked in a tower that reaches so high

It almost touches the blue of the sky.


Debbie Chase

 
The Haunting of Pear Tree Cottage.jpg

The Haunting of Pear Tree Cottage

6 December 2021

This book is published with World Castle Publishing www.worldcastlepublishing.net/debbie-chase

When Chrissie Lewis meets the charismatic American, Richard Curtis, at Wigglesworth & Horner, Solicitors, it seems that a romance is meant to be. Yet who is the tempestuous Morgan Bloom that, because of her love of palms, potions, spells, and her black cat, Moses, is tried as a Witch by an unruly mob of villagers. Set in the historic seaside town of Whitby in North Yorkshire with its wild history of Dracula, Witches, Whaling and modern day Goths, Chrissie, newly arrived to live in the ancient Pear Tree Cottage finds herself going back to the 1700’s to witness Morgan Bloom’s dramatic downfall. A tale of love, desire, friendship, horror and intrigue that will send shivers running down your spine!

for a free e-copy of this book
 
Angel statue

I Wasn't There

I wasn’t there the day she went

I didn’t know she was only lent,

Like somebody quietly leaving the room

She went to her eternal tomb


Stolen by greedy outstretched hands

She was taken away to other lands

Angels posing as creatures of joy

Are like selfish children desiring a toy


From the day that she was born

They spied on her and said with scorn

“It’s written that one day without a fuss,

You will come and live with us.”


They have her now in a heavenly place

Where no one even has a face,

Like ghostly vultures in the twilight

They knew her fate at the very first sight.

Debbie Chase

 

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