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THE LAST DAY OF NOVEMBER


last day of november

Our world revolves around the people in our lives. Christina considered her family, her best friend and her fiancé to be her world, but when one of these people die, the world that was once worthy of living suddenly isn’t.

She finds herself struggling to venture to a destination; dreaded but needed to be reached.

And on the way she remembers the events that led to that day; the days at school, the parties she attended and the birth of her daughter.

 

In Store Price: $AU29.95 
Online Price:   $AU28.95

 

AMAZON

ISBN: 978-1-921731-72-3  
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 319
Genre: Fiction/Romance
 

Cover design: Zeus Publications

 


Author: Amanda Hunter
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2012
Language: English

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BIOGRAPHY

Amanda Hunter was born on the 25th October, 1987 in Shepparton, Victoria and attended St Georges Rd Primary School, Shepparton and Beaudesert State High Schools, and Wanganui Park Secondary College. She currently lives in Beaudesert, Queensland with her son, Justin.

At nineteen, Amanda commenced her first manuscript titled The Last Day of November. Since then she has written Temptation and its sequels Devil’s Night, and Hellhound and her song, Once a Soldier has been formatted onto a demo. Amanda aspires to become a successful author and lyricist because, to her, writing is who she is and it’s what she does.

 

Chapter One - PART SAMPLE ONLY

 

 

It was the last day of November, and the young woman stared at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. Tears welled in her sorrowful blue eyes, and blinking, the mascara coating her eyelashes, combined with her tears, and streamed down her cheeks. They trickled into her partly opened mouth—the taste bitter and salty.

Hesitantly, she wiped away more fallen tears and noticed her nails, short but neatly filed and coated with a light-violet nail polish that was beginning to chip. She wore one ring and a long, black dress that covered her heeled shoes. Lace was sewn around its hem, and as her fingertips coursed across her stomach, she felt its satin material. To her, it was delicate, as though if mistreated it would tear. Her attention then progressed to her hair: shoulder-length, light-brown hair, straightened for the impending hours.

A sudden disorientation overcame her and caused a gut-wrenching nausea to surface. Like a downward spiral, pulling her into oblivion, she struggled to remain posed, fearing that if her knees buckled, she’d be drawn into this figurative vortex. She closed her eyes, a whimper escaped her lips, and she mustered what little strength she could. She stumbled backwards, dislodging herself from its gravitational pull, and steadied herself. There was a need to stay propped, because in her mind, to lose balance would mean to fall, and if she were to fall, she doubted whether or not she would be able to get back up, whether or not she would even want to.

She was weighed down by feelings of hopelessness, and thoughts that never would have infiltrated her mind, plagued it. To lie in the foetal position and let the vortex take her, it didn’t seem all that bad compared to reality. Her shivering body cloaked in darkness, falling, and the void she fell through, sealing. Her only way out gone. In spite, or perhaps anger, she was willing to spend the remainder of her life in a hole. Buried six foot deep, though still breathing, she was just a corpse, alive but dead inside. The decay of her life she had beared witness to, and with a past she never wanted to let go, her future, at present, was uncertain. She couldn’t move forward. If she did, would it mean sacrificing her memories for a chance to make new ones? She would rather rot in a hole than forget, and thus, a life of solitude became more and more inviting.

Unseen and unheard from throughout the years, she considered sleeping whenever her aging body would allow, so that she may roam her dreams, searching for what was lost until it was found, but until her final breath was taken, it never would be. She would only find it in death, waiting, as promised.

The wait, however, was unkind. She had already suffered for so long, and with so long to go, death was deemed merciful. If it came knocking, she would welcome it; plead with it to do away with what’s already been done, but it would never be invited. There would be no invitation written by her hand, asking it to visit – permanently. There was still a story that needed to be told and a page that needed to be written. Word by word, sentence by sentence and chapter by chapter, a beginning, middle and an end needed to unfold. Until the princess got the prince and there was nothing left to write, she would endure a warped fairy-tale, because in death, she would have her ‘‘And they all lived happily ever after.’’

She opened her reddened eyes and moved her stare to the cast-iron bathtub. She sifted through an array of memories and remembered where her own ‘‘Once upon a time, not so long ago’’ began.

 

The young woman wandered along the footpath, heading home from work. She was a teacher and wore attire in compliance to her profession—a white blouse neatly tucked into a knee-length, navy-blue skirt and navy-blue shoes that had a slight heel, only a couple of centimetres high as she was five feet and seven inches in height.

Students attending the secondary college she was employed at rode their bicycles or skateboards in the street, while others walked along the nature strips. They socialised, as teenagers would, and dilly-dallied. A group of four girls, whom the young woman recognised from class, were huddled together on the footpath ahead. She would often overhear them discussing other people’s lives, judging and assuming, and have to remind them to stop the classroom chitchat or get sent to lunchtime detention. That day, however, they discussed her life. She could hear her name accompanied by the words ‘boyfriend’, ‘affair’ and ‘best friend’, but seeing her approaching, the four girls hushed each other. They moved aside, letting the young woman pass, and one of the girls: tall, slender and dark-skinned, who fiddled with her black, braided hair, asked, ‘Um, Miss, before you go getting down with your hubby, a quick question?’

The young woman slowed her pace to a standstill, not the least bit impressed by what the crude remark implied. ‘What it is Bernadette?’

‘When’s the Miss going to become a Mrs, and when it does, will it be with the right Mr?’

Bernadette’s friend, Chloe: fair-skinned and of average height and build, gasped. She was shocked that Bernadette would ask the very question they had been asking themselves prior to the young woman’s arrival. ‘Oh my god, Bernie, I can’t believe you’d actually go and ask that.’

Another of Bernadette’s friends, Andria: short and overweight, shied away from the group. She didn’t comment, thinking it would be best to keep her mouth shut and avoid implicating herself. She tied her chestnut-coloured hair into a loose ponytail—a ploy to appear preoccupied, and afterwards, rummaged through her schoolbag. She came across a pack of peppermint-flavoured gum and shoved a piece into her mouth. She then offered Bernadette a piece, hoping it might silence her, but Bernadette turned down her offer. ‘Nah, I’m right, but thanks.’

Rachael, whose blonde hair had hot-pink streaks throughout and brown eyes were highlighted with a thick layer of black eyeliner and eye shadow, shrugged and simple said, ‘If I was older, I’d do him.’

‘What one? The BF or the BFF?’ Bernadette asked.

Again, Rachael shrugged. ‘I don’t know. Either, probably.’ She snatched the gum from Andria, removed a piece and gave the pack back. ‘The BF, he’d be a rollercoaster; you’d be taken on the ride of your life. The BFF, he’d be a Tunnel of Love type of guy, all about romance. Don’t you think, Miss H?’

‘I don’t think I’m going to discuss this with you. You shouldn’t be discussing it to begin with—’

Bernadette interrupted the young woman’s proposed forewarning, asking Rachael, ‘We are talking ‘bout the same guys, right?’

‘The BF ’ she raised her hand above her head, ‘bout aye high, and the BFF ’ she raised her hand higher, ‘bout aye high, hot body, could take a guy down without even building up a sweat?’

‘Yep, that’d be them. Was just making sure, but if you ask me, I reckon the BF is the type of guy you’d go cruising down the Tunnel of Love with. When it comes to the BFF, you’d want to make sure you’re strapped in before takeoff.’

Chloe entered the conversation, somewhat reluctantly. ‘I think the BF and the BFF are the type of guys that’d take you on any ride you wanted to go on. Just saying.’

‘True,’ Rachael said, ‘but I’d want to go on the rollercoaster. I’d be like, “Look. No hands.” I’d probably keep lining up to go on it again and again, too. Isn’t that the way it’d be, Miss H?’

The young woman was puzzled by the girls’ bantering and chose to put an end to it, interrupted or not. ‘Rachael, Bernadette, that’s enough of that. I’m not obligated to answer a question that’s unrelated to your education, so if you have one that is, you can ask it in class tomorrow. Oh, and if any of you are late, you’ll be getting detention. No more threats, girls, you’ll actually get it. I’ll have you write a thousand word essay on how rude it is to talk about something you know nothing about, too.’ She forced a smile. ‘Understood?’

Normally, her smile would be returned or she would receive a nod of the head or even a salute, but she hadn’t received any of the above, just an apology from Chloe and Andria and a more brazen apology from Rachael and Bernadette. She resumed her walk home and sighed, hearing Rachael giggle. ‘You’re going to be in so much shit tomorrow. You’d better keep your head down, bum up, Bernie.’

The four girls had reverted to their gossiping selves, but the young woman was unfazed by any rumour they might be starting or any lie they might be telling. They were sixteen, and back in the day, so was she. They were no different to any other sixteen-year-old girl, and the boys frolicking to impress them, were no different to any sixteen-year-old boy. No matter the generation, she thought, boys will always be boys and girls always will be girls.

She shook her head, thinking about how similar she must have acted, how imprudent her and her friends must have seemed to their teachers. Now, she was the teacher, and on occasion, how she reacted to a snide comment reminded her of how her teachers used to react. Even the boys and girls she went to school with, their attributes could be seen in a boy or girl she taught. Whether it was a girl’s giggle, a boy’s chuckle, or a quip one of them made; it would remind her of a person, a place, and a time when she was wild and free. Now, she was tamed, and the days when she was old enough to know better, but young enough not to care, were winding-up. She was on the road to adulthood, but she was happy to sit back, enjoy the ride and watch the next generation of adolescent’s run amuck. She was ready for the next phase of her life to take her where she hadn’t been, but whether it was in a year’s time or two; there was no rush. She was where she wanted to be. She was home and her hubby, as Bernadette called him, would be waiting for her inside.

The young woman shuffled through her handbag and retrieved her keys. She unlocked the front door and opened it, but didn’t enter. She was greeted by a bouquet of red roses and a blank envelope on the buffet situated to her right. She laid her handbag next to them and taking the envelope, unfolded the letter inside. On the white piece of paper ‘‘follow the rose petals’’ was written in blue ink.

She returned the envelope and its letter to the buffet and followed the trail of red rose petals along the hallway’s mahogany floorboards. She stopped next to the closed bathroom door, noticing the rose petals disappeared beneath its sill, and she heard the bathtub filling. She entered, and sprinkled across the porcelain sink, its laminated bench and the tiled floor, were more petals. The lights were off and tea-light candles were positioned on the windowsill, bathtub’s skirting and bench. Melted wax pooled at the wicks’ bases and flames swayed to and fro, shedding a dim light on a man who leaned over the bathtub and turned off its taps. He wore no shirt, no shoes, only jeans. These were ripped at the knees, designed to have the rips and faded denim in certain areas.

The young woman was again captured by an unseen pull, but this time, the lure she was snagged on, she didn’t want to break free of. She was being drawn closer to him, and gently biting her lower lip, she admired his tanned complexion, glistening with beads of sweat. He was nervous, and straightening his posture, just how nervous he was was apparent in his brown eyes. He was fidgeting, redirecting his weight to one leg and then the other. There was a question he wanted to ask, an answer he wanted to receive, but there was an uncertainty to whether it would be.

It was odd for him to be as jittery as he was, and the young woman was curious as to why he would be. ‘Darren, are you okay’ she asked, running her fingers through his short, black hair.

He reached into his jeans pocket, removing a small, light-blue box, and she perked an eyebrow, seeing him sink to the floor on one knee. He lifted its lid and laid on pearlescent silk was a ring. Its white-gold band featured two smaller diamonds either side of a larger one.

So beautiful, the young woman thought, kneeling in front of him.

He took the ring and restoring the box to his pocket, stared deeply, lovingly, into her eyes. ‘The moment I saw you, I wanted to be your boyfriend, but now, I don’t want to be just your boyfriend. I want to be your fiancé.’ He took a deep breath and to the best of his ability, relaxed his tensed body. ‘Christina Humphrey, will you marry me?’

Christina pictured a warm autumn day, and beneath a clear-blue sky, leaves of orange, red and yellow would fall from overhead trees. The distant tolling of a bell would cue her entrance, and a horse-drawn carriage would come to a halt outside a quaint chapel. She would make her way down the aisle, a harpist would play, and when she reached him, he would kiss her, too eager to wait for the prenuptials to begin.

Darren clutched his chest and felt his heart beating his palm. Its normal rhythm of one, two, one, two; quickened; one, two, three, one, two, three. ‘Christina?’ he groaned. ‘Not to rush you, babe, but I kind of need an answer. I think I’m about to have a heart-attack.’

‘I’m so sorry, sweetie,’ she began to say, but seeing his panic-stricken expression and his clutch on his chest strengthen, she paused. He had mistaken her apology, and she shook her head, saying, ‘No, no, no,’ but this only seemed to worsen the misunderstanding, not resolve it. ‘No, I wasn’t meaning no, as in, “No, I won’t marry you”. I was meaning no, as in, “No, you’ve got it all wrong”. I accidentally skipped ahead a year, to the part where we’re taking our vows, and forgot you were waiting on me to give you an answer. I was off in my own world, planning the perfect wedding, and it slipped my mind that I actually have to say yes to the proposal before I get married.’ She then nodded, saying, ‘Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Yes, I’ll marry you, Darren.’

His hands trembled as he slid the engagement ring onto her finger, and afterwards, he collapsed against the bathtub. ‘I’m glad I only plan on doing that once. I really thought my heart was going to burst out of my chest and do a runner.’

She crawled over his outstretched legs and positioning her knees either side of him, sat on his crotch. She pressed her lips to his and intensified the mediocre peck into a ravenous kiss. She raised and then lowered herself, and to rouse him further, she manoeuvred her hips in a circular motion—a habit that came about the first night they slept together and stuck throughout the years. It teased her; it teased him, and the tendency to indulge in nudity and sweat always ensued.

A night of intimacy in the bathroom, in the bedroom, in any room of their house, on anything, was what he wanted. What he didn’t want was to rush it; he wanted to prolong the teasing that was going on. He gripped her thighs and ended their kiss, trying to delay the urge to lay her on the tiled floor. He rested his forehead to hers and whispered words that had been spoken before, words that had a sentimental meaning behind them. ‘You’re not making this easy for me

With eyes still closed, they cherished the moment when they realised the rest of their lives would be spent hypnotised in moments like the one they were having, moments when they could escape anything and anyone, when nothing else mattered to them, and they wished in their hearts that that moment could last forever, but the phone rang, the moment passed, and Darren’s plans for that night were evanescent. It didn’t matter who called or why, because he knew if she answered the untimely call, she wouldn’t be able to contain her excitement. She’d let slip the engagement, and depending on the caller, could be held up for hours on end. He needed to distract her. He needed to give her a reason not to give in to the incessant ringing, and as he gently coerced her head to the side, he said, ‘Let it ring out, babe.’ He kissed her neck, picking up where they left off, but just as he had her back where he wanted her, the doorbell rang. Great, another disruption, but this disruption, he couldn’t distract her from.

She isolated her neck from his lips and in regret, stared into his disheartened eyes. ‘I know you don’t want me to, but I should see who it is. It could be important.’

‘We’ll celebrate later, then,’ he sighed.

She crawled off him and standing to her feet, exited the bathroom, saying, ‘Definitely.’ She followed the trail of rose petals, retracing her steps to the front door, and opened it. She was greeted by a man: six feet and two inches in height. He was wearing a grey t-shirt with a purple dragon on its front, denim shorts that were held up by a brown belt, black skate shoes, and white ankle socks.

Leon? What are you doing here?’ she asked, surprised that she was, in fact, surprised to see him. ‘You’ll never believe what just happened.’

Leon perked an eyebrow, and beneath his sandy-blonde hair, his blue eyes examined Christina. ‘I came over to tell you something, but you go first. What happened?’

She elevated her hand and pointed to the engagement ring. ‘Darren asked me to marry him, and I said yes. I can’t believe it, Leon. I’m getting married.’

He stared at the diamond ring, stunned. ‘You said yes? That’s, um, that’s good. Congrats.’

‘Thanks. What was it you wanted to tell me?’

He peered behind her, seeing Darren leaving the bathroom, and all of a sudden, the one place where he wanted to be, was the one place he wanted to be furthest from. ‘Um, don’t worry about it. I’ll bring you up-to-date later – when you’re not so busy.’

Darren joined them. ‘She told you the news then, Leon?’

‘Yeah, she did. Congrats.’ He extended his hand to him, and he shook it. ‘Thanks, but we were kind of in the middle of something.’

Leon nodded, knowing all too well what they would’ve been in the middle of, and ended the handshake. He stepped backwards, readying himself to leave, but when the door shut, would it be a casual stroll or sprint that followed? Would he head on home or head to the pub to drown his sorrows in a bottomless bottle of scotch, bourbon, rum? He couldn’t have cared. Alcohol was alcohol, and the next morning, he thought, at least he’d look as bad as he feels.

Christina glared at Darren, but softened her expression when she returned to look at Leon. ‘You don’t have to go. What did you need to tell me? You can come in if you want.’

‘No, it’s okay. I don’t want to intrude. I’ll let you get back to what you were doing. I can wait to talk. There’s no rush.’

Relieved that he got the hint, Darren started closing the front door. ‘We’ll see you later, Leon.’

Again, Christina shot Darren a glare and softened her expression when she returned to look at Leon. ‘It’s not okay. I know it’s not, so don’t say it is. Where are you heading, anyway? If you brought your car, we can go for a drive. If you walked, we can go for a walk.’

‘Why doesn’t he just come inside and talk about whatever’s wrong in here?’ Darren suggested.

Given that Leon’s last comment was rather bleak, Christina knew he didn’t want to be there, at least not while Darren was. ‘Um, I think this is one of those things that are better talked about somewhere where it’s just us.’

‘Fair enough. So, Leon, what was it? Did you drive over or walk?’

‘I walked. I wouldn’t mind going for another walk, and if it’s okay with you, I wouldn’t mind stealing Chrissie for a while. I could really use a drink at the pub after the day I had.’

‘Walk it is,’ Christina said, removing her purse from her handbag. She took a fifty dollar note, put it in her skirt’s pocket and pecked Darren on the lips, giving him her purse at the same time. ‘I promise I’ll make this up to you.’

He wasn’t pleased, but accepted it nonetheless. ‘Try not to be too long. I don’t know if the candles are going to last, or the mood for the matter.’

She joined Leon and glancing to Darren, lipped the words ‘‘I’m sorry’’. He shut the door, and her and Leon wandered along the path of terracotta pavers. They stepped onto the footpath, commenced their trek toward the pub, and Leon asked, ‘What’s this about candles?’

‘Darren put candles in the bathroom. But I didn’t come with you to talk about how he proposed. I came to talk about what’s wrong. What happened?’

 

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