Mysterious Glass Invitation

I walked up the noisy gravel driveway, coat pulled up against the pervasive chill of the night. I checked my watch to see how late it was, and was surprised by how bright the moon shone, reflected off my cracked glass watch face. I looked up at it and was struck by just how large it was in the sky – not the first time I’d had such a thought since touching down in this strange country.

My fingers grazed over the watch face, and I let a deep sigh escape – I really did have to find a good glass repair company in Melbourne, on my return.

‘Hello?’ a voice called out from the darkness immediately behind me, attached to a young blonde woman, her apologetic smile more apparent as she jogged into the moonlight. ‘I didn’t mean to startle you!’

‘No matter,’ I said, returning her cordial smile. ‘Are you also on your way to the Baron’s mansion?’

‘Afraid so,’ she sighed, and I detected a faint American accent. ‘You got his cryptic invitation too?’

I nodded. ‘Do you have any idea why he’s gathering us? Or even how many of us there will be?’

‘No clue,’ she said, as we began to walk up the immense driveway again. ‘Probably just wants to show off some fancy new glass stair balustrade he had imported from Australia or something.’

‘Oh,’ I frowned. ‘Rather not the macabre evening I had hoped for.’

She laughed at my expression, hooking her arm around mine in an overtly familiar gesture. ‘You’re funny,’ she declared. 

‘Thank you,’ I said, stiffly. ‘And you are…’

‘Abigail,’ she told me, with a curt nod. ‘Judging by those specs and that truly terrific hat… you gotta be the scientist, right? Rennings?’

I nodded, impressed with her deduction. 

‘Look,’ she went on, ‘don’t get your hopes up about tonight. It’s just as likely that he needs witnesses for some legal signing than that he wants to actually show you something… interesting.’

‘I shall do my best to keep my hope in check,’ I said, as we approached the door. ‘Shall we?’

Pier Toenail Thoughts

I sat on the pier, watching the sun dip below the horizon, painting the sky with hues of orange and pink. The fish were playing in the water, jumping and splashing, carefree and content. But I was not like them – I was burdened with pain. 

I was wrenched out of my thoughts by a sharp stabbing pain from my big toe, and quickly dipped it back into the water. The cold shock wiped away most of the discomfort, and the thoughts wandered back in. I reflected on my life: the choices I had made, the paths I had taken. 

I looked down at my feet, at the discoloured, thickened nails that were a source of my pain – fungal nails, the podiatrist had called them, as she’d chided me for my carelessness. I couldn’t help but think of all the times I had neglected my health, all the times I had put my work and responsibilities before my well-being.

The wind picked up, blowing my hair into my face, and I closed my eyes, letting the fresh sea breeze wash over me. I thought of the people I had hurt, the relationships I had damaged, and the opportunities I had missed. Had I really been so focused on the future that I had forgotten to live in the present?

The sun gently disappeared behind the horizon, and the cold night rushed in to take its place. I made a resolution, in the growing dark – I would no longer be a victim of myself. No more failing relationships, no more metaphorically-significant toenail conditions – treatment near Cheltenham was the only way forward, for both.  

I knew that I couldn’t change the past, but I could choose to make the most of the present. I vowed to take better care of my health, to be more mindful of the people I loved, and to live each day to the fullest. With a lighter heart, I stood up.

The fish had stopped jumping, and the pier was silent except for the sound of the water lapping against the wooden posts.