Inspiration on the Embankment: Publishing Event

My name is Jodie Portugal and I want to be a writer.
Or I am a writer
Or I like to write
Every time I write that, I just sound pretentious, as if I’m pretending to be something I’m not.

It’s moments like this, when I require inspiration, which I found on the Embankment, titled.

How To Get Published with Bookends and Marie Claire 

It happened on Tuesday the 11th October, Tickets were £25 and entailed a master class, talks with four authors. Tasmina Perry, Mike Gayle, Kathryn Hughes and Tracy Rees and a goody bag containing the latest books from these fantastic writers.

I will get into the event later, let me just give you some background.
It took place at Embankment at a new building.

New buildings stand out in London, and are not actually considered part of the landscape. It typically takes fifty years for a building to be accepted. In response we give them nicknames to illustrate how ridiculous we find them. The Gherkin, The Shard, The Walkie-Talkie for examples. Which incidentally is the ugliest new building in London.

This new building, is anything but. Then again the Embankment isn’t really that old having been completed in 1870. Which for London and its historical buildings is considered young.

However Carmelite House, is stunning. If you ever imagined a publishing house, this is what a publishing house should be. Full of glass, maximizing the light, walls full of the company’s publications and if I was to every work in publishing. I want to work there.

They also have work experience placements, yes I am considering applying for one, and graduate placements too. I wonder if mature Masters students come under that?
It has a fantastic open terrace and one of the most stunning views of the Thames I have ever seen.


Sunset over the Thames. Always beautiful

On street level, London has its own very kind of organized chaos. It’s dirty, hectic, expensive and the Thames is polluted. London really is filthy. But it’s a special type of filth. Historical, if you will. Old town houses which were converted into flats, still have Victoria debris and smoke grit stuck to them

I remember the palaver a few years ago when they cleaned up Westminster Abbey for William and Catherine’s wedding. And it turned out that grime covering Gods House was protecting it from the dirt of the City.

However, standing on the terrace looking at the sunset, it’s very easy to forget how beautiful London truly is
London is grimy, but it’s my city. Hence I will defend it at all times, and whinge about it too. As is my right as a Londoner.

The actual event I’ll get to in my next post. But let me tell you about James Scott
Since this event was arranged with Marie Clare, which is a magazine aimed at women. There I met several fantastic women, with all of us harboring the same dream and to all of them there. I hope we all make it.

However, there were a few men there, which is where I met Mr James Scott. Though in truth I initially thought he worked there, or just rocked up from M16 Headquarters down the road. This man can rock a suit, believe me.

But like me he was a self-published author and gave me his business card, he has business cards…I need to get business cards. He had a good business card, professional but not too serious. I need to get some too, I have no idea what I would put on them, but I need business cards.



This is how you do a card

Having been through this before, he also gave me some advice about self-publishing. Because I didn’t know that Amazon only give a damn about your book if you have fifty reviews. Seriously I put my last book out for almost nothing…and got nothing back.
One review would have been helpful.

I got none, well so far.
Hint drop: if you’ve read the book please leave a review.
Mr Scott writes Thrillers, However I don’t like thrillers.
I’ve seen Gone Girl, own Girl on the Train but never read it and aside from films and The X-Files, I am not into thrillers. This is my exception; oh this is my exception to the rule. And this is one of the best decisions I made that day.
As soon as I got home, and having to get ready for work the next day, I found the time to download his book on my Kindle.
And this is the review I promised him.

“I don’t usually read thrillers, but having met the author, felt compelled to buy his novel. And this is one of the best decisions I made that day.
How to explain it.
Imagine being a lethal assassin, but you have no memory of what happens. Being kept as a slave to the Arena for years. They are confident in their abilities to control Laura, like a puppet. Imagine what happens when they find out they can’t?
What makes this novel stand out, is its length. It doesn’t waste time with realms of expositions. We learn what is going on, along with the characters. You understand their motivations, their actions, and even though it’s full of car chases, deaths and an uncompromising heroine who once she knows who she is. Knows exactly what she wants. This is a debut for a fantastic new author, and I happily await the second installment.”

So Mr Scott

Good luck with your fifty reviews xx
And much thanks to the organizers of the event, I will have my review of that up in a few days


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The Accident. Three Years On.


If I were pretentious, I would sit here right now and marvel about Parallel Jodie. In Parallel Jodie’s life and useing the most annoying version of Sliders for inspiration; her life is probably better than mine.

However, if every action has an equal and opposite reaction, there must be Parallel Versions of me, aside from the one who just got off the bus. Since this is my blog, let’s have some fun and let me talk about myself in the third person!

In the world where Germany won WW2, Jodie now works for the Government but is also a member of La Resistance

In the world where the Ancient Egyptian Empire never fell, Jodie works as a Shrine Maiden in the Temple of Athena; she provides visions for free, aka she makes shit up and people believe it.

The world where Coffee was outlawed, Jodie is a Master Brewer and smuggler in secret. No one knows how this mild-mannered woman, is keeping people from going stir crazy without the right stuff.

In the world where the Aliens intercepted the Voyager probe, then invaded Earth and made us all slaves, Jodie most probably died in a blaze of glory. Alternatively, most likely, tripped up while trying to escape.

You can tell I watched Sliders since in the real world I just for on with life apart from the simple fact that I cannot wear heels and now walk with a limp. Oh, and that I am not pretentious

God, I sound depressing sometimes, yes the woman who after six months now decides to write a blog post about how much I miss heels.


I miss heels the most, which is funny because I never thought of them before, now it is like I have a foot fetish. In the clubs looking at woman’s footwear, marvelling at how high those heels can get. I even miss sitting in the clubs with my feet in the sink, whinging at how “I should have never brought those shoes, but they looked so pretty.”

It’s also a long running joke, that every time i’ve been a bridesmaid, at least by the end of the Wedding Breakfast I am barefoot.

But anyway, three years on.

It still hurts almost every time I put my foot to the ground, even though some days are better than others, I still have to carry deep freeze to numb the damn thing. I can’t run, and it still have arthritis to look forward too, and I have to worry about it always.

And all because I fell off a bus!

Another thing which had changed is my attitude and confidence when I’m on a night out. Most of the time it’s “Be careful on the dance floor because of the foot” or “Don’t have too much to drink, in case you numb your body, get hurt and it happens all over again.”

I watch people dancing and miss the wild abandon I used to have, and the stupid shenanigans I got up too.

And rereading this, my god it looks like I’m having a pity party, but it’s on the anniversary, just indulge me.

I know I’m fortunate that it was never amputated, which was what that Doctor suggested when I was at the hospital. Titanium is defiantly better that that scenario.

Just to give you an idea, these are the pictures of the accident and what the inside of my right foot looks like


I took one look at this, called an anbulance and smoked


The moment i realised  i would never wear high heels ever again


This is my foot, see those two forks. This was taken during the surgery. Pretty, ain’t it?



















You may think I’m an asshole for not giving a warning, but guess what. Life doesn’t come with trigger warnings, life isn’t safe, and no one is going to hold your hand.

If you think otherwise, then you are a special snowflake who needs a reality check. Because these pictures, you are looking at them. But this is me, this is what happened to me. This is my new reality.

So from this moment, the geek list is back in action, and I’m adding Going Ice Skating to it, I fully embrace it will hurt like hell. But look at those pictures, who cares xx


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Looking Back: The Reason I Deferred University

If my life had turned out the way I had planned, right now I would be sitting on a beach in Okinawa, watching the sunset, reflecting on my life with my hypothetical children Sakura and Midori.

By this point, I would have climbed Mount Fuji and watched the sun rise from the summit, and had many adventures I could look back over. Well, if you’ve got a fantasy, you can’t be half-assed over it. In this scenario, I have perfect vision and gravity defying breasts too.

Instead, I’m in Middlesex, living not the “life less ordinary,” but the life I never wanted.

Until this point, I have never been honest but now I am going to be, and I don’t care about the consequences. I’m stressed and hate what my life’s turned into. Because sometimes I feel so trapped.

How the hell, do you break free from this trap?

Welcome to the working class Mantra. “You have a job, so it doesn’t matter if your happy or not. You have a job”. I read once that class system was tied into Protestantism. In the Church of England, if you have a job and work hard, you’ll go to heaven.

So if I don’t have a job, I’ll go to hell?

Well, some days I feel like I’m at my destination

We say within my class “As long as you’re working,” yeah as long as you sit there with a degree doing as working class job. Because you wanted to better yourself, and often wonder if the Master’s you had to defer is going to help after it’s over. The Heavens will open, red carpets will unfold, blessing from the Pope and all that

In this blog, I’ve discussed self-publishing, life in general and oh yeah learning to walk again.

I’ve never once said what I do for a living (no, I am not a spy) Just that I have a job, one which I’ve held for ten years and one which caused me to reflect on my life and go back to university.

I still can’t believe I did that some days

The moment you have an epiphany, which doesn’t give you the answers. The only thing I did know was the phrase “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

Incidentally, this isn’t a comment about where I work. Most days I love my job, I am lucky to work alongside many awesome people. It’s just that I look into my future and do not want it to be my future. There is an excellent reason for this, which I will get into in a later post

Typical story, dissatisfied with life so makes the change and goes exploring. Oh sorry, you need a budget for that. Middle class vs. working class dreams and all that.

On thing I learned early, pursuing goals is for the rich folk! Just google “Follow your Bliss,” and you come up with some Eat Pray Love Bullshit, in which a fantastic holiday of having an orgasm over pasta in Italy, whine like an annoying bitch in India and then fall in love…and then fall in love with someone else.

I saw the film, felt nothing for Liz and her insipid whining about needing a “champion” and feeling so hard done by and “Oh my publisher paid for this, so I have to write about something. Let me inspire you” rhetoric.

I am sick of the stories about how someone “Quit the daily grind, and now works in India in an Ashram, and has a beautiful house…and now buy my bestselling book”. because it’s easy to find enlightenment when you don’t have to worry about the bills

Then again, if you google anything relating to stress or health issues. You get bullet points and some asshole plugging their book. “Yes, I can help you beat stress for $19.99, plus Tax.”

Everyone is trying to force their own path on someone.

Strange the path led me to university. Well, back to university but then I had to fit it around working four days a week.

I am at University for two days a week, there is the writing, there is the reading, there is the critiquing. The latter I did on the X26 to Kingston because time was not my hands.

I had to write, come out of my comfort zone and experiment with new styles of writing, read a lot of textbooks, write some more, critique other people’s work. Feel upset that my work wasn’t good enough, suck it up and remember why I was doing it (even though I didn’t have a clue some days). Navigate the world of the mature student. Produce more work, produce more work. Feel good that I passed my first term, be upset because I knew I could have got a better grade if a had more time. Rinse and repeat for the second term.

In six months I only had one day off a week

Eventually, something had to give, and that something was my sanity.

Stressed, exhausted, burned out and I know I wasn’t producing good enough work because I wasn’t producing anything, which wasn’t gibberish.

If I was pretentious, I could say, “My muse had abandoned me, my creativity was lost like tears in the rain. My creative well had dried up, or my Inner Goddess was sitting forlornly with a pen in her hand and an empty notebook in the other.”

Thank God, I am not pretentious.

In April when my tutor suggested that I defer and start back again in January 2017 to give myself a break, in truth I didn’t want to. I wanted to get this done and get my degree, but I needed to defer and take a break and remember how much fun I found writing.

It has taken me six months to get to the point I can write again. Other stuff got in the way. But I’m writing again, and it’s fun, no matter what I’m writing. To quote my tutor, “I owe my own words again.”

However, ending the post on a cliff hanger. One of the reasons I’m doing this.

Is because the day my dad found that all they could do was keep him “comfortable,” he said to me

“Get out of that job, Jodie. You’re a fucking jobsworth.”

He was wrong about the “jobsworth” bit, but not about the rest.

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Looking Back: 9/11 Fifteen Years Later

It’s amazing what defines a moment in your life. Be it a friend coming into your work to tell you in a hushed tone “The World Trade Centre, had been bombed,” to going home and seeing exactly what h…

Source: Looking Back: 9/11 Fifteen Years Later

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Looking Back: 9/11 Fifteen Years Later

It’s amazing what defines a moment in your life.

Be it a friend coming into your work to tell you in a hushed tone “The World Trade Centre, had been bombed,” to going home and seeing exactly what happened.

I hang on to those last few hours of ignorance, from the quiet bus home to the muted atmosphere. No one wanted to say it out loud, no one wanted to admit it was gone. By saying it, it was real, and the world would never be the same.

Then again, the world has always been the same. There is no real chance of optimism when someone is always going to try to blow you up, to be the ones who take an ideology and twist it until it no longer resembles the actual message.

2001, may have been a new Millennium, but a fresh chance of making it right was never going to happen.

It’s strange to describe to the younger generations, the ones who grew up after the Twin Towers fell, that the internet on phones, was just a mere concept. There was no Facebook, no one in New York filmed it on their iPhones and uploaded it to social media. New York and the world got it in real time, and we were all confronted with the new reality.

Fifteen years ago, I was working in a toyshop and preparing to go back to University to do my BA. Today, I’m working at Heathrow and preparing to go back to do my Masters.

Looking back, I can feel the cynicism that managed to creep in, after suddenly witnessing how the world changed.

One thing I did notice was the almost lack of survivor’s stories. Who were these people that survived? What happen to them? How did they get out?

The documentary, The 9/11 Faker, in which Tania Head who was soon unmasked as Alicia Esteve Head, and whose claims of being in the Twin Towers were proved to be a deception. Did provide one grain of truth, the actual survivors of the Twin Towers felt like they were forgotten.

As if walking out of a collapsing building and watching your friends pass away in front of you, was something which could quickly be dismissed.

And they were forgotten as if they were like the dust of the Tower and could be swept away. The media, being the media focused on the more desperate, the Miracle of Stairwell B. The optimism in the rubble or the ones who had died in their offices, on a typical work day.

The more tragic your story, the more the media lapped it up. Cynical, yes. Wrong, yes. But people needed a figurehead, and these individuals were cast in the role as victims and sadly it’s a role they’ve never got over. Mentally their still standing in their offices on a sunny September day, and almost nothing will change that.

In the last few years, though, that has changed. People are coming forward, telling their stories and making it clear that their voices will not be silenced. The exceptional documentary, 9/11: Heroes of the 88th Floor, make it clear who were the heroes and there was so many.

In a world of fraudsters, there were so many people who just stood up to help, just because they could. The firefighters who died in the rubble, individuals like Frank De Martini, Pablo Ortiz and Mak Hanna who just did what they did. Heroics was the last thing on their minds, all they wanted to do was help and some paid the price with their lives.

For the rest, it was one day in their lives which they will carry for all of their lives, all the while the world watched it happen.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like. No interview or documentary can do it justice. How was it for the ones trapped about the impact points, waving out of the imploded windows for help which never came?

How desperate do you have to be, how hot does the exploding jet fuel make the walls feel, before you make the decision to jump from over a hundred floors, and to at least take control of your own death. With their deaths being labelled “blunt force trauma”.

Because no one that day set out, to jump from their place of work. No one ever expected to make the choice to stay or jump, when the outcome would always be the same.

How was it on Windows on the World on the top of the North Tower? Knowing that you’re trapped, and you don’t know the reason why?

Then again, why did this really happen? Though conspiracy theories naturally came up with the answer, because the stark reality is too hard to bare.

Thousands of people didn’t come home that day, that’s the reality. Widows, widowers, and single parents were made that day. It’s against nature to bury a child, and it’s against nature to watch it unfold on television.

In a way, it was the first media tragedy, with the moment of impact all cameras turned onto the Twin Towers. As if it was a disaster movie unfolding in real time.

Fifteen years on, has anything really changed? These documentaries keep it alive for now. Maintain the harshness and brutality of it all. But what in twenty years, or thirty, at what point will it be romanticised and satirised as tragic events always are?

Fifteen years on, and looking back we entered a “Brave New World” of cynicism and insecurity, of children born on that date to only have a few days of peace and heartbreak before Bush declared “The War on Terror.” To have inherited the world, they never asked for.

However, nothing that will ever change is this. On September 11th, 2001, four planes were hijacked.  United Airlines Flight 93, crashed into a field. American Airlines Flight 77 was flown into the Pentagon and American Airlines Flight 11 impacted with the North Tower of the World Trade Centre and United Airlines Flight 175 flew into South Tower of the World Trade Centre in New York City.

At ten o‘clock in the morning on September 11th, 2001, the world was radically different.



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Finding Clarity, when I went for the Goody Bag

This is an interesting one to write about. You know how when something you think will happen, becomes the direct opposite of what actually happens?

Let me start that again.

I’ve been off my own blog for a while because I have been going through some drama. Which I will write about, when I feel I’m able too.

Let’s just say, it’s a bad time, with a load of transition to get through.

However, nothing that will change about me, is that I love goody bags.

Perhaps it was from the birthday parties, I went to when I was little, or it’s nice to get something when you leave an event.

End of the day I like goody bags, especially from the high-end places I could never afford to go to unless there’s a lottery win in my future.

So, after looking on Eventbrite and seeing the “Women’s Transformation Seminar with Aveda, Covent Garden” on the 1st September. I was more focused on the goody bag and £15 off something in the shop, which after spending £15 on a ticket, I thought was a good deal.

And it was Covent Garden, and I love Covent Garden. Having spent many hours of my student days, just looking at stuff and the simple fact that it is full of eccentrics and no one can afford to live there.

To put this in comparison, the Disney Store is next to the Opera House. I have never been in the Opera House.

The moment I got it there, since there was only ticketed for ten people because the Aveda store there is tiny, yes it was one of those “The amount of times I walked past it and never saw it until now” type of situation. Also, I got a glass of prosecco and some healthy nibbles, so it was all good.

Even though I didn’t feel good.

The first thing, after the rest of these incredibly dressed professional women and me, were all seated and relaxed. We were introduced to Scott, given a questionnaire and how best to describe him is though the event page.

“Scott Warden from Aveda will be giving a talk about how to find your unique Ayurvedic constitution.

Scott is a holistic therapist who has studied and qualified in various disciplines including Ayurveda, reflexology, and massage. He has also studied and practised Reiki for many years and is a master in the Usui-Tibetan discipline.”

Scott, I am going to give his dues. He is funny, informative and knows his stuff. Looking back, though, I have to confess I really didn’t have a clue what he was talking about! It was about the Universes, Infinity, and the elements.


Next up was Samantha Hadfield.

A woman who introduced herself by proving she’s got more guts then I have, for having the strength to change her life, follow her passion and is now working in Covent Garden doing what she loves.

And whose job was to get us to open up to each other which for the first task meant we had to write something that’s on our mind, and we can’t tell anyone. It was all done anonymously and what I wrote…it’s anonymous for a reason.

After that, it was all read out, and mine wasn’t related to my looks. I never really care what I look like, but it was so fascinating to find out that so many women there who did.

Let me put it this way, having just come from work, and enduring the tube in rush hour. On a muggy September day, I was wearing jeans, a hoodie and looked like something the sea had coughed up! Yet these women who weren’t wearing trainers, had issues about how they looked?

Yes, I wasn’t going to let that go, and decided to tell them right away I thought they were stunning, in which I hoped they believed me.

After that, we discussed out deep dark secrets, and I expanded on mine…never had much to hide after all. I was honest; I told them at how I feel my life is, how I’ve been feeling over the past few months and how I really need to change it.

The simple fact that I restart university in a few months does for some reason not give me comfort even though I know it should be, combined with the fact that I’m approaching thirty-seven, and my life should not have turned out like this.

Yes, from that above confession I do need to change it all.

One other thing Sam did, was give us pink wristbands with the name of her company, and the statement “Keep going and remember why you started”, which I guess is a good lesson to remember and advised us to change bands, when we’re feeling stressed to transfer the negativity. I’m going to need more than just one band!

After that we spoke about what was on our mind, one of the number wanted to start her own business, the rest wanted a change. Yes, we were into the pursuit of happiness terrority, it’s just making the leap to do it.

The simple fact that I have to do it, and rid myself of the toxic things around me, is at least something.

It was weird in hindsight that I felt so comfortable talking with these strangers, no one would judge me for who I am and what I’m going through. Sometimes I am sick of people telling me to get over it…like it’s that simple.

What Sam did, though was tell us to set ourselves goals, and gave us a timeline to stick to them, to give ourselves something to aim for.

So with a plan to write three things about ourselves in a 1 week, 30 days, 90 days, 6 months and 1 year and I have to try to stick to them.

Here is my one-year goal.

September 2017

Finish Degree

New Job

Get to Japan

I have to try to stick to them; I have to get myself sorted out and get my Degree.

Listening to all these women, however, did get me thinking. We are all in the same boat, we all want something to move forward with our lives, suffering through similar dramas and issues.  Why this is never mentioned at the end?

Success stories make it look so easy when discussed. Pick up any magazine, all you read is.

“I had a dream, I followed it, and all my dreams came true.”

Forgetting the part, “I had wealthy parents, I came from a posh background, I went to private school and never thought about the part where I could fail.”

I never put much stock in those, history is full of people trying to make out they were more desperate than they were, as part of some Cinderella fantasy.

For the dreamers with no connections, it’s harder and easier to fail, but that’s why we have our passion. Proving someone wrong is the best Schadenfreude there is. Especially when those people openly want you to fail, so you will be just as miserable and unfulfilled as them.

So, in hindsight, Sam was excellent. She spoke to all of us at the end and asked me how I was feeling. In truth, I felt “Good, raw but good.”

Best thing really to take away from it all; however, Sam is wonderful and even though I am sure I will not be able to afford her services. I am personally recommending her to everyone.

And if anyone is wondering, in the Aveda goody bag I acquired.

Free twenty-minute facial

Hand Relief 40ml, which smells amazing

Thickening tonics styling spray 10ml

Style hair smoother.

I also brought courtesy of the £15 off voucher the Stress Fix Body Lotion and joined the Aveda Club, which meant I also got the beautifying composition oil for free. I also checked the RRP for the oil, it was £24.00. A pretty good night I’d say.

Mentally, this being the first thing I have written in six months. After going to the event and meeting Sam, I feel better. I know I have a long road ahead, but I am getting better.


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Adventures in a Master Degree. Beauty and the Beast Essay. Final Part

So the end of my first terms work, not too shabby and feeling more confident. xx


The Beast Within, Chapter Two

Vincent felt confident that this was a jest, a trick, as he just stepped forward once more, trying to impose a tone of menace in his voice and sound older than his twenty years.

“What trickery is this; what magic is this. You foul creature, what witchcraft made these?” to illustrate his point Vincent, grabbed one of the roses growing in a pot, noticing the colours were blue, “How did you create such things?”

“Through hard work and the study of plants”. Came the slightly defiant feminine reply, oh this was a trick alright, which caused Vincent to advance, determined to do what he had set out to do. Deliberately overlooking everything up until now.

“Then show me your face”. Vincent demanded as a sadistic thought occurred “Or I will kill all your children.”

The figure froze and seemed to sag slightly, even cloaked he could see its defeat, as the shimmery hands lifted up carefully, and pushed back the hood.

Revealing the most incredible face Vincent had ever seen.

It was a woman, along with her glowing skin, her hair was dark purple and fell long across her shoulders, and he noticed her long black dress under her cloak, but it was her eyes that blazed green, which he truly saw.

Vincent blinked and tried to understand, yet by this point, his mind was unable to function rationally.

“You’re the Beast”, he exclaimed, causing the woman to blink.

“I’m the what?” her voice though annoyed had a lyrical quality, which almost caused Vincent to sway. This had to be a trick, some demonic magic.

“The Beast, a hideous, monstrous Beast”, Vincent exclaimed, while the woman just looked confused.

“I’m a monster, I let some unconscious man into my home, and his first action is to come after my children” The Beast, woman shook her head. “I knew it; I just knew it. I know I shouldn’t have left that armour in your room” She claimed, more to herself.

Perhaps it was the idea of killing children which went against everything Vincent knew and caused him to immediately become defensive.

“I’m not here to kill your children…I just said I would”.

“Then why are you here, in the dead of winter. A time where no one comes to my Castle…or even through the Forest”. The woman demanded, angrily.

“I came at this time because it’s the one-time no one has ever attempted”. Was Vincent’s retort as the woman just rolled her eyes.

“Perhaps because no one is stupid enough to it in sub-zero temperatures, you fool”, she said sarcastically, causing Vincent to blink.

Aside for her exotic looks, she looked and spoke, like a human. However, she still wasn’t, he reminded himself once more, as she looked up again.

“So why are you here? Why come to the Forest, so late in the season?”

“I’m here to take the Beast’s head and…”

“Wait a second,” the woman stopped and just held up her hands.

“You called me the Beast, you think I’m a Beast?” she asked, undoubtedly trying to take in what Vincent had said, as Vincent, himself just nodded.

“I’m a Beast…and you came here to take my head…why on Earth would you or anyone want my head?’ the question sounded so absurd coming from the intended target, which caused Vincent to struggle for the answer.

“Because you kill the children, we leave for you. In your demonic sacrifices”.

The woman shook her head, “This is just too preposterous” she muttered to herself. “Demonic sacrifices, taking my head…calling me a monster”. Then from behind them was the door opening, causing both of them to turn their heads.

“Mama”, came the small and almost pitiful voice, which caused Vincent to blink. It was a girl aged about eight or nine, unlike the boy and his arm, this one had a significant mark on her face.

Without it, she might have been called pretty, instead of looking disfigured. The girls grey eyes settled on Vincent. Immediately, she looked puzzled while the woman never turned round, but made it clear to whom she was speaking to.

“Claudia, go upstairs with the others”. She said, to the little girl, who just ignored the request and race over to her “momma”, and pressed her face into the woman’s cloak causing the shimmery hand to brush through the little girls red hair.

“We’re scared mama; we’re afraid of the bad man”. The little girl muttered, gripping the woman’s cloak with all her might, while the powerful words from the little girl, finally made Vincent lower his sword.

“You’re not a monster”, these were words that Vincent had never imagined saying. In his most vivid dreams, he had always envisioned, cutting off the Beast’s head and marching it back to his people.

Instead of this, instead there was this young woman and these children, all the while the female just smiled softly and shook her head.

“No, I’ve never been a monster, nor Beast”, while she relaxed no doubt by Vincent’s fallen blade and just smiled still running her hand over Claudia’s head in a comforting manner.

“But these children…your sacrifices”.

“Oh my word, this is going nowhere”, the woman said to herself, just shaking her head, as she bent down to the child.

“Claudia, darling. Go back to sleep with your brothers and sisters, and I’ll speak to you in the morning.”

The little girl didn’t look too convinced, but did as her mother advised her, and swiftly disappeared through the door, not before giving Vincent an odd look, which he couldn’t decipher.

Which gave the two, their moment of silence, before the woman finally broke in with the most unique thing Vincent had ever heard.

“Due to the customs of your people…would you care for a cup of tea?”

The voice was so traditional and so strange for the situation, all Vincent could do was nod, realising how tired and hungry he really was.

“That would be…fine”. Vincent said smoothly, as the woman directed him to follow her, with a gesture.

A few minutes later, both of them still walking to, he assumed the kitchen, “I hope you don’t mind. I would have asked the children, but all of them safe asleep…well should be asleep. Your appearance made a lot of them curious, you know.”

Vincent just grunted to this, his sword was now back in its sheath. But he wasn’t totally relaxed by this turn of events; while out of the corner of his eye he was aware he could see more children, a myriad of different ages, all gazing over balconies and from behind doors.

Until the woman just spoke up, “We don’t get a lot of visitors, none really”. While she cleared her throat. “You know, then I saw you lying in the snow, I really thought you were dead”. The woman declared, smoothly, causing Vincent to almost stop. “You were the one that found me. Why didn’t you leave me to die?”

“Because I’m not evil, no matter what you may think” came her reply, until then both turned a corner, and into a large kitchen. Pots and pans were all stacked up, and gleaming bronze, and in the middle of the room was a large tea service, all setup, with steam pouring from the spout of the large pot.

“Ahh one of my children must have prepared it”, she stated cheerfully, sitting down with ease into one of the wooden chairs, gesturing Vincent to do the same.

All the while he, cautiously kept an eye on her, as she decanted the two cups and watched very carefully as she took a sip of the steaming liquid before he did the same.

The tea tasted delicious, and thirst quenching, while he drunk greedily, even though the woman had placed down her teacup and was studying him curiously.

“I can imagine you must have questions”, she said with a wry smile on her lips, as Vincent eventually placed down the cup with a small rattle against the china, yet chose his word very carefully.

“Where do the children come from?”, even though his first word should have been asking about this mysterious woman in front of him, with the shimmery skin and strange hair, but this question caused the woman to just tilt her head.

“They’ve been left at the entrance of my Forest for generations. I take them, bring them here. Some stay, some don’t. I never ask them to do either, it’s always was their choice”. She finished quickly before Vincent could ask more.

“So you don’t…eat them?” Vincent finally said, which caused would be called a chuckle from the woman’s throat,

“No never, you don’t want them, so I did. I took them, took them into this Castle. Left over from the old King, oh many, many years ago” She smiled softly at the memory while Vincent began to feel hot inside.

“But the men, the others who have been here before”, he managed to say, while rubbing his neck. Why was he feeling so warm?

“Some enter, most leave…but those who get too close”. She stopped before trying to find the right words. “Well, I always put the world to rights”, she finished, her gaze never leaving his face.

In Vincent’s mind, he could feel his brain, slowly turning over and over, while his vision swam, what was in the tea? All the while the smile never left the woman’s face, and sliding to the ground. Vincent heart finally stopped, and his life left his body, permanently.

For a few minutes, all she did was sit there, until he had finished his death throw, and one of her children came into the room. It was Sean, one of her eldest who had seen it all before. Who leant over and just closed his eyes, with his fingers, the glassy stare unnerving the teenager slightly.

“In the Forest”, he whispered to his mother, who just lifted her hand to the boy’s birthmarks face, the reason he had been abandoned fifteen years earlier.

“Let the blizzard die down, darling. Before you go out, and wrap up warm”, she stated, and just leant back and drunk her tea.

Of course, she didn’t want to kill him. He was no older than some of her children, but he was all like the others at heart, in truth she may have given him a chance. But calling her a “Beast.”

How disrespectful


The end


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