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EN00663_
Another writing prompt story-
VOICES FROM THE TWILIGHT ZONE
You own a 1930’s art deco radio; it speaks impulsively without being switched on.

“Thank GOD it’s Friday!” Emma declared as the bell rang the close of another busy working day. She had felt trapped all day in a daydream, never able to snap out of it long enough to really focus on her tasks. The very thought of escaping the dark dreary brick walls of Harriet’s Fashion for the next two days were nothing short of bliss and even though Emma’s social life was nothing to write home about, her own company she had always preferred over others.

Even with her gorgeous raven curled locks, that cute pug-like nose and those deep ocean blue eyes, she never entertained any notions of romance, not even when many suitors desperately wanted to BE entertained by her mere presence. At thirty-four, Emma-Rose Perkins was far from too young or too old to take on the world with her charm and sharp wit. She simply chose a simpler life.
She lived alone within a small block of units which probably would have best suited possibly one ready for her twilight yearsbut strangely enough Emma could easily fit this bill for she lived as if she had come to that stage in life and everything within the walls of her sanctuary displayed signs of an older person.

Her pet budgie, Samuel, the only other living creature that took up space as a border would be there to greet her each afternoon after work. She’d found him at the market which she so often frequented and although she wasn’t there that day looking to buy a pet, something made her return to the stalls where he sat perched in his wire cage, almost shaking in fear as the crowds shoved pieces of dry crackers into his already cluttered cage. As she approached her heart felt a sudden tug on her heartstrings. For a quick haggle and final offer, Emma claimed her bird for next to nix, and opted to spend the extra cash on the helpless creature by purchasing the largest cage on show! Then off she trotted, her full curvaceous hips swinging whilst Sam swung happily beside her, all the way to his new home. What a pretty picture they made. Once more, Emma had found yet again another great bargain at the markets but it wouldn’t be too much longer before she would be back, this time to check out the gorgeous retro styled radio she had carefully eyed off on her way out!

Her mother had always called her a vower bird, but Emma had a need to surround herself with objects that she knew others would find amusing or fascinating. Her theory being should she ever be entertaining guests, she would at least have topics of interest bound to intrigue. It was for that reason alone Emma decided to return that weekend for the out-dated timber grain radio and did so with great haste in fear of another beating her to it!

As Sam sat on his perch, whistling away Emma unpacked her bags. This was the first time she had managed to get in and out of the markets without much fuss and was anxious to plug in the radio to see if the reception was as good as it had sounded back at the stall. I love it! she muttered while wiping it over with a rag. The dials and its settings were all in working order and the speakers crystal clear! Finally selecting the radio station of choice, Emma stepped back to see how well it matched all her other décor. “Well Sam, what do you think?” And to her amusement the bird actually seemed to be swinging his swing in time to the music.
She was still amazed at the fine condition it was in considering its age and couldn’t WAIT to call her neighbour from downstairs to have a look. Old Mrs. Shenstone was very curious to see the radio for she herself remembered her own mother owning something similar when she was a child. “Oh, my it looks almost brand new!” She exclaimed with delight. “Does it work?” Emma nodded, adding how she had made certain of this before buying- Well how about I put on the kettle and make us a pot of tea? delighting in the interest the old woman was taking. “Oh my this brings back such fond memories for me…you know Emma, my mother’s living room comprised of only a few things…our warm comfy sofa and table the open fireplace, my father’s favourite rocking chair and mother’s old radio.”

Emma’s apartment faced east so on a sunny day, she would often sit outside on her small balcony where she had neatly placed a few pot plants. Sam’s bird cage sat in full view of the outside world, and as he and the two ladies sat peacefully taking in the sun’s glorious rays, the sound of the music blended gracefully into the background of a perfect afternoon. Sunday’s usually consisted of Emma getting her early paper from the local newspaper stand, stopping off at the café for a latte then back home to do her laundry. She always planned her spare time meticulously in order to make the most of it, no distractions ever allowed to disrupt the plan. But today would be different, for as she awoke to her alarm bell, she could also hear the chattering of strange voices. Voices which for some reason, appeared to be coming from her living room? Emma put on her nightgown and slowly got up, a slight feeling of fear came over her. Was there a stranger lurking in her home? Was she being robbed? All these thoughts and more racing through her head as she slowly moved towards the doorway. The closer she got, the clearer the voices and Emma reached for her mobile phone, ready to dial for help! One step closer…And now, for the weather! came a man’s voice, and realising it had come from the radio sent Emma into a fit of laughter!  Then she paused,“That’s weird!? I’m SURE I switched it off?!” Shrugging off the fright, she quickly gave it a once over then turned it off. She decided it was fruitless wasting time trying to figure out whether or not she had indeed left it on, and proceeded to get dressed then headed off to the paper stand.

Another glorious day so she pulled up a chair outside the café and sat sipping on her frothy cuppaccino while reading her paper . A couple of regulars dropped by to join her, and soon they were all chatting away about their past week and other exciting events. Poor Emma always felt embarrassed when it came her turn to share with them but this week she could tell them of the radio. Jeff, the avid antique collector, was always keen to learn of items of value, just in case they were for sale. He ran a small business buying and selling online, but had never seen any radios as Emma described. “I know you don’t want to sell Emm but I’d still love to see it!?” So after she’d finished her second latte she took the ride back home with Jeff to show him her little beauty. As the pair approached the front door, the sound of voices were again coming from Emma’s living room and this time, Emma wasn’t laughing.

“What’s up Emm? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!” Jeff chuckled but Emma felt goose bumps all over her body, a strange eerie feeling that she’d never experienced before. Emma slowly eased her door key into the lock, her hands visually trembling. She paused and turned towards Jeff and relayed what had happened earlier. Now he too was intrigued and as the door swung open, sure enough, the radio was playing some old tune that sounded something like jazz music. Emma didn’t like it all saying it gave her the creeps! Why jazz?? Why not rock or pop? She pondered. Funny that something made around that era in time should be playing a tune that just happened to come from around those days??
Jeff took it upon himself to walk over and investigate while Emma stood frozen in her tracks. He turned it off, and they both just stood there, neither saying a word. “Well that IS weird” said Jeff “but there’s got to be some explanation, maybe there’s a loose wire?” Emma still had no response. “Well maybe it would be best if I unplug it from the wall?” He asked her, and proceeded to do so. “It’s still a great buy though kiddo! You did really well to score her, she’s a little ripper!”
Emma snapped out of her mood and quickly apologised for ignoring him. Perhaps it was all those long hours at Harriet’s which had her unsettled. It had been a rather demanding week what with new stock coming in and the back up of orders. The boss had asked Emma to put in a couple of extra hours on top to help train the new girls so it was highly possible the strain was showing. Shrugging her shoulders and throwing back her curls, she promised she wouldn’t think any more on the subject and proceeded to show Jeff the latest little collection of ceramic pots she’d bought from another antique dealer. They spent a good hour or so surfing the internet so Jeff could see if there were any items on Ebay that might be worthwhile, then called it a day.

Emma picked up her washing basket and keys and made her way downstairs to the laundry. The washing machine sat empty and there was still enough sunlight in the day to dry her small load. Too nice a day to be just washing clothes she thought so once it was all on the line, Emma chose to wander across to old Mrs. Shenstone’s in hope she might want to get out for awhile. She knocked a few times on her door but got no response. As she began walking away from her front door, Emma heard a slight thud, then nothing.
Is that you Mrs.Shenstone?” She called…no answer. Again Emma went to walk away when another noise got her attention, a voice which seemed very faint but definitely coming from within the old lady’s apartment. “Mrs.Shenstone, it’s me, Emma..are you okay?”But then there was a complete silence.

Emma didn’t want to be a pest to the poor old woman so opted to leave well enough alone thinking that maybe it was nothing. She took two steps facing the stairwell when a trumpet began to play, followed by a piano. It was coming from Mrs. Shenstone’s place…and it sounded a bit like…like, like jazz music! Emma’s heart raced as she ran back to the door, her fists pounding as hard as her heart! “MRS SHENSTONE, MRS SHENSTONE!!” The Paisley’s from across the hall opened their door to see what all the commotion was about. Emma screamed they call an ambulance IMMEDIATELY! She had a terrible sinking feeling and if she had learned another valuable lesson in life from her mother, was to always follow your first gut feeling and Emma’s sensed Mrs. Shenstone was in trouble! Within no time the paramedics were right behind her coming up the staircase. They had to force there way through in order to save Mrs.Shenstone, who had somehow tripped, then fallen bumping the knob to her gas oven as she fell! She lay barely conscious on her living room floor just inches away from the front door. She had heard Emma and it was her voice which managed to get her to move her body closer to help. As Emma watched the paramedics wheel the old lady out on a gurney, she remembered the radio and the memories it had brought back for old Mrs.Shenstone-Had the sound of that music been a sign? A warning of things ahead?

From that day to this, the retro radio works just like any other, and occasionally plays some good old jazz!

©Debbie Stevens

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