Never Say Die

Entry by: Seaside Scribbler

16th June 2017
Part 1
Part 2 next week (doing another free writing experiment)

'NSD - The Conclusion'

Today's entry is a huge one. Thank you, followers, for sticking with me this far. I've done what I've promised, done some seeking and found what I was looking for, and it's from Earth, not Heaven, as many of you thought. I know, it seemed other-worldly; it seemed as if it came from some divine entity, but its origins are rooted in our good Earth. That's not to say it's not magic.

This is going to be my introduction for my new book. I'd be very grateful, regular readers and followers, if you'd send me suggestions and comments about this. If you're new here, does it make sense? Does it make you want to read on? If you're a regular, is this a true representation of what's happened here? Does it leave too many questions unanswered? Just leave comments in the boxes below, or drop me a PM. I'll be tweeting links to this so I expect a lot of traffic, but I promise to read every suggestion. After all, this blog would not exists without you all. B, xxx

Welcome, Readers

As my regular readers will be aware, I'm completely open-minded, believe anything until proved otherwise, and I chase the unusual. I've been hoping to collect enough stories to write a book, and today I think I've finally reached that goal. I have the stories, now I just need to write the book.

This particular thread began back in 2008. I'll quickly outline it for those of you who are new to my blog, or who can't remember the origins of NSD. Nine years ago I was a student studying philosophy and psychology when I came across Susan (not her real name). 'Susan' was in the same halls of residence as I was and right from the word go I knew she wasn't quite 'right'. She was a loner, she was spiky in conversation, she didn't have any visitors, she stayed during the holidays, on her own, in her room. I'll talk to anyone and everyone and there's not been a person yet I can't get at least a few words out of, but not Susan. She kept entirely to herself and I thought that was fine, that was her and I'd better keep my nose out of her business.

And I would have, except for the crying. Her room was opposite mine and every single night I'd hear her cry. Muffled sobs, but lots of them and it went on for ages. Susan had some serious baggage. I went to the counsellors about her but they said unless she came herself they couldn't help, though they'd keep an eye. Anyway they didn't keep a very good eye because one Christmas break, when I came back early, Susan decided to jump off the roof. I was up there to smoke a joint and look at the stars when she stumbled up, crying, and made for the edge. I was about to step out and try to grab her when someone else appeared. I stopped in my tracks (I was pretty stoned by now and I thought that if someone else wanted to risk their life by grabbing her then let them do it - I was unsteady as hell on my feet and didn't trust myself not to try to fly, thinking I was a bird. It was damn strong grass) as this person seemed to have an aura of confidence (or perhaps that was the grass - it was pretty dark. Maybe I was just a coward). Sorry, I digress. regular readers, you'll be used to that. This person stepped out from behind the heating vent, grabbed Susan's arm as she got close to the edge, pulled her back and turned her to face them. Susan tried to fight a little; there were some cries and some scuffling noises, then it went quiet. I crept closer, to see.

The person who'd grabbed Susan gave her something. It was round, that was all I could see. Susan took it, and everything went quiet. Then, the weirdest thing: Susan laughed. I'd never heard her laugh. Never really heard her speak except in the refectory. She laughed this gorgeous, throaty laugh. It's still the best laugh I've ever heard, seeming to come from right down deep within her soul. I stayed right where I was, as Susan and the stranger sat for a while, got up, and went back to the door that would lead them back inside. I looked at the stars, then at my - now unlit, I'd stubbed it out in case they smelled it - joint, and wondered if I'd just seen a miracle.

In the weeks that followed, Susan stopped crying, began speaking to people and started smiling. I didn't dare ask her about it because it was such a private moment but my curiosity was piqued and I began to follow her about.

One Saturday, whilst Susan was out shopping and I was crouching behind a rail of dresses, watching her cross the street, I saw her approach a homeless man in a doorway. I peered out from between the skirts and saw her take out a round thing, and give it to the man. It was the same round thing she'd been given up on the roof, I was sure of it. I was suddenly completely certain this was the moment I'd been waiting for, even when I didn't know exactly why I was following her and ignoring my studies. Susan sat down next to the man, and they put their hands on the round thing - it looked like a rock - and put their heads close together. They sat like that for ages, long enough for me to garner several looks of annoyance from the shopkeeper, and then the man looked up, open his mouth and laughed. Just like Susan had. At that, Susan stood up, touched the man on his head, opened her purse and gave him some notes, and then walked away, leaving him with the rock.

I left the shop and wandered across to the doorway, looking in the window - an estate agent's - next to it. The man sat and held the thing - I could clearly see now it was a rock - and cradled it and smiled. What the hell was I seeing? I was desperate to ask him but again something stopped me - I'd spied on two intensely private moments and I felt bad. I didn't want to intrude and yet... something was strange, here, and I've always been attracted to the strange.

I leaned closer to the doorway, as if looking at the details of a house, posted right in the corner, and squinted at what was in the man's hands. It still looked like a rock, but there was some kind of engraving on it. I could make out the letters, NSD. The man laughed again, stood up, grabbed a plastic bag, stuffed the rock in it and was gone, shambling off up the street. I wanted to follow him but I'd got a exam looming the following day and I'd not done a jot of work. I'd find him again tomorrow, once the exam was over.

Except, I didn't. That man vanished, and I kicked myself over and over for letting him go, especially when I failed the exam anyway. I searched the town for him for days but he'd simply gone. I was too scared to ask Susan what was going on, in case I'd somehow misread the whole thing and looked crazy, or seemed like a stalker, as I'd have to admit I'd been following her. It was soon after that that I began this blog. Its reason for being is that having seen something so strange it felt like a lid had been lifted on life, and I was suddenly sure there were all these other layers to life I'd never seen. I wanted to know all about them and investigate them.

Fast forward five years. 2014, I'd got my degree, was working as a freelance journalist and a part time research assistant for Psychology Begins in Your Head, that nutty magazine. I was a bit lost to be honest, but the blog was doing well. I was collecting stories, was more curious than ever about life, and had never forgotten that stone, or Susan, or the homeless man.

And then, wham. One day, someone sent me a message about a rock that was engraved with the letters NSD, and in a beautiful moment of synchronicity, I was back on my search.

This is what the message said.

Dear Brian,
I am an avid reader of your blog. So when the weirdest ever thing happened to me, you were the first person I wanted to tell. I can't give you my real name because one day my kids might read this and then... you'll see. I'll call myself Jane.

I'm 39, a mum of two young children. They were born just a year apart. I'd planned it like that because of my age, because I thought I may as well carry on while I was a wreck if I could, instead of getting all fit and thin again and then starting over. When I got pregnant again just weeks after my first's birth, I was ecstatic. My kids are now 2 and 3. I've been married for ten years, to a man I'll call Harry.

I had two easy labours, and I managed, just about, with a baby and a bump. I was tired, yes, but excited and happy and full of the joys of being a mum, at long last. We'd waited too long, then couldn't get pregnant, then did, so my babies were so wanted.

But after the birth of my second child, I began to fall apart. I developed post natal depression. There was some family illness and my mother couldn't come to help. Harry's mother died long ago, and we'd not long been living in the SE of England, after moving for Harry's job all the way from Wales. My firstborn decided, just after I'd given birth to my second, that sleeping wasn't something he wanted to do anymore. Harry's job changed and he had to work away and suddenly I'd gone from being a happy mum, revelling in her babies, to this half-crazed, fat, demented person I didn't recognise. I didn't dare go to the doctor in case they took my children away and I didn't know what to do. I looked dreadful but make-up does wonders and I stuck a smile on my face whenever I went out, and 'appeared' good. But inside, I was crumbling. I began getting awful thoughts: some mornings I'd wake up having only got to sleep an hour before, after tending to first one, and then the other, so tired I'd punch myself around the head because I thought I just couldn't do it. Then I'd wonder - forgive me, oh god this is awful to admit, even now when I know it was the depression talking - that if one of them hadn't woken up, life would suddenly be easier. It was awful, awful awful awful. I'd be driving, having got out of the house god knows how, and my hands would twitch, taunting me to drive into an oncoming truck. I got more and more afraid, more and more down, more and more alone. There's more to it but this is all I'd admit for now.

One day, I was in a shop, the kids screaming, staring at a shirt I knew I wouldn't fit into. I'd had it. People were staring at me, I could feel it. And then this woman came up to me and gave me this rock. And as I held it...


See Ephemera next week for Part 2!