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byMichaelT65©

Standing on the edge of the cliff looking out to sea, I watched in the distance, the silhouette of an oil tanker going out to sea. Putting a hand on either side of my hips then taking a deep breath of clean air at the same time listening to the ocean crash on the rocks below. Kneeling down I scooped a handful of dirt then bringing it up to my nose smelling the soil. A tradition of mine before I start a run.

As I start my daily 10k run to the village and back, I can feel the rays of the sun on my neck. Straight away saying to myself, "You will need to start earlier next time, or it will be too hot to run in the heat." As I entered the village going through the streets, people that I knew began to greet me. Approaching the small roundabout which is in the centre of the village, that is my turning point to return. The run back was much more challenging as the road was ascending. This time the sun is shining directly at me, blinding me as I force myself to finish the last two kilometres.

On reaching the cottage, tiredness made me crouch on one knee, as I tried to catch my breath. As my breathing started to become regular, I got up slowly, I commenced making my way inside the cottage. Taking a clean towel from the cupboard to wipe the sweat from my face. Unrolling my exercise mat, I started doing some pull-ups, then finishing off with some push-ups. Stretching for another ten minutes before I made my way to the shower.

Twenty minutes later I was sitting in my kitchen with a bowl of porridge in my hand. That is when the doorbell rang.

"It's open Mrs Watson!" I shouted.

She entered the kitchen with a carrier bag in either hand. Quickly putting my bowl down, I got up and went over to help her with the bags.

"You didn't have to Mrs Watson."

"It's the least I can do George."

Mrs Watson is my landlady, she is a sweet seventy-two-year-old lady. She lost her husband five years ago. She has been living in a five bedroom house ever since she got married. They bought the house planning on having a big family when seeing Mrs Watson was unable to conceive they made an appointment to see the local GP. That is when they discovered Mr Watson was sterile.

She always says. "We should have adopted."

When I first arrived, my priority was to find somewhere to rent, a small cottage or flat. The locals directed me to Mrs Watson's property. She showed me around the estate, the cottage which was for rent wasn't very large it comprised of two bedrooms, living room and kitchen. It Required some work, a fresh coat of paint and a good clean. I said. "It's perfect how much will it be per calendar month." We agreed on a price in which I wrote her a cheque for twelve months rent.

In the beginning, she wasn't too delighted about renting to a stranger, but as time went by we built a friendship on the grief, we both suffered. We both lost someone we loved dearly.

She is always cooking something for me, bringing fresh fruits and vegetables from her gardens. In return when she needs, something to be done on her property like DIY, she calls me. Also, I accompany her to her doctor's appointments, or shopping runs as she doesn't drive.

When the rent was due after a year, with my chequebook in my hand, I went to see Mrs Watson.

On seen open the chequebook she said. "George that money is not beneficial to me."

Embracing her in my arms while whispering in her ear. "If it weren't for you I would have gone insane."

When we released each other, she slapped me on the bum. She said. "I've made a lovely apple pie sit down we'll have some with our tea."

"Can't say no to that Mrs Watson," Was my reply.

Next day I went to the bank opened an account putting £10,000 in it. With the instructions, this money goes to Mrs Watson under my instructions or if anything happens to me. From that day, the word rent was not mentioned again between us.

Let me tell you about myself, my name is George Michaelides I am thirty years old, my height is 6ft. Growing up in London I went to a public school in North London. My hobbies are boxing and reading. At the age of fourteen, I joined a boxing gym just to keep fit.

Showing an interest in boxing, Mr Brown took me under his wing and became my mentor. Been awarded a sports scholarship I went to University to study Sports Science and English Literature. It was in university that I became a semi-pro boxer that is when the decision was made to become a professional boxer. My parents were not happy with my decision as they didn't want me to get hurt.

My parents worked all their life to give my sister and me a better life. Mum works as a cook in a secondary school, while dad works for a well-established garage in Enfield. My sister Tina was two years older. She got married young she has two lovely boys, Terry nine years old and Jim eight years old.

At twenty-five I met my wife to be Sarah, she was two years younger than me, Sarah came from a wealthy background, her parents were solicitors, she did not want to follow in their footsteps. After getting a degree in law which was their wish, when she finished her studies she worked with people, helping in charity organisations. Something that did not go down to well with them.

After a year of courting, we decided to get married. It was a small wedding, in which Sarah's parents did not agree too, her mother wanted a big wedding since Sarah was their only child.

We purchased ourselves a two-bedroom flat, struggled with money, but she would not accept her parents help. She would always say. "Our love is above the power of money."

Married for a year, Sarah was eight months pregnant, I remember it like yesterday. My next fight was critical for me if I win it will put me in the professional middleweight class. She was home that night. She would always say. "Come back home to me." But this time she said. "Come back home to us." Those words still linger in my head.

The fight was at the O2 Arena, tickets for the event got sold out weeks ago, I was getting ready in the changing rooms when my coach told me to sit down. He sat next to me. Putting his hand on my shoulder, he said. "This is your big opportunity Son. I want you to go out there and give it your best."

Standing in the ring, facing my corner, looking at the crowd while warming up by shadow boxing. Suddenly the crowd erupted in applause, on turning I saw my opponent climbing through the ropes into the ring. When he stood straight, that is when I saw why his nickname was The Serbian Giant, Radovan Brankovic was ranked number three in the world with a height of 7ft 2'. The fight presenter introduced both of us, then presented the referee, that is when the ref took over he called us both into the middle of the ring. Explained the rules in which we both had heard many times in the past. He then told us to go to our corners to wait for the bell to begin.

Ding. The Serbian sprang out of his corner coming towards me throwing left and right punches at me. My first thought was, "Serbian Express should be his nickname." I avoided him for three minutes with light blows to my body.

The second round was like the first, didn't get one chance to land a single blow, was mostly blocking and dodging. I tried to penetrate his defence, but he was too quick for me. I held in for three minutes by moving around the ring.

Sitting in my corner waiting for the third round my coach said. "You have to try to land some blows to his body that is his weakness." Nodding my head to say yes as I got up for round three, this round was slower, but still, I could not infiltrate his guard. Near the end of the round he caught me under the chin, I went down for the count. The second time I've been knocked down in my career, the first time I slipped, but this time it was from a punch a powerful punch. Slowly getting up on the eighth count, shaking my head left to right, the referee checked me saw I was ok. He said. "Carry on." Then the bell sounded.

The coach was checking my chin at the same time putting pressure on my swollen eye. Sitting there exhausted I repeatedly kept on saying. "I need to make it back home to Sarah." Coach grabbed the towel was about to throw it in the ring when I shouted. "No!"

Ding. Round four began, slowly getting up approaching The Giant, he started swinging punches at me straight away, that is when I saw a break in his rhythm. It was a split second gap, but it was there. Patiently counting his moves taking my time, suddenly it came I ducked, swayed a blow with my left into his rib cage, he stepped back, he put his hand down to protect his side. I hurt him. It was my turn, tapping on his face with my left, waiting for my next opportunity. He moved his hand up to protect his face that is when my second chance came. Putting everything in it, I punched him in the same place just below his ribs this time to work my way up, this punch pushed him off the canvas onto his toes, making him fly back onto the ropes. Ding end of the round.

My corner was celebrating; the coach was jumping up and down like a Jack in a box. When I sat in my corner coach was explaining something to me, but my eyes were focused on my opponent, waiting for the bell to ring, waiting to finish him off. Round five started, this time It was me who went out first throwing punches with my right at his face, at the same time he was blocking them with his left. I was focused on the other side, watching him put pressure on his side injury to subside the pain. Swinging a punch with all my power to the unprotected side of his face, he flew into the ropes then bounced forward, collapsing onto the canvas. The referee started to count. "one, two, three." When he reached ten there was no movement from Radovan, the referee shouted. "You are out."

My corner was screaming with joy, while I just stood there watching Radovan waiting for some movement. His coach plus others jumped to his side, while other boxing officials filled the ring blocking my view of him.

After the referee had announced me the winner, reporters flooded me with questions, when my next fight was due, will there be a rematch, etc.

When I was alone with my coach waiting for the doctor, I asked him. "Is Radovan ok, did he get up after I knocked him down?"

Coach looked at me with a sad look on his face he replied. "The only news I have is they took him to University College Hospital."

The doctor came to the changing rooms to give me a quick examination. When he finished, he was getting ready to leave, I Grabbed him by the hand. I said. "How is Radovan?"

He looked at me then turned to my coach. He said. "Didn't you tell him?"

I shouted out. "Tell me what!"

"He's in a coma son." Coach said.

I quickly showered and got ready to go to the hospital. When I got there, I asked to see Radovan Brankovic explaining to the nurse the situation, but the nurse couldn't give me any information as I wasn't family. Ending up driving around Central London, replaying in my mind the events of what happened earlier. "Why didn't I let the coach throw in the towel, that would have stopped the fight, all this would not have happened." Was my thought.

Entering our flat at 5 am in the morning. Sarah appeared from the living room straight away. "I was worried sick. I thought something happened to you." She said.

Taking her by the hand, we went to sit in the living room. I explained to her all that happened that night. Eventually, it was all true the Serbian was in a coma.

The money in which I made from that fight paid the mortgage we had on the flat and still had some money left over. My manager tried to arrange another contest for me, but I did not want to know. All week chat shows kept leaving messages on my mobile for an interview. All I could think of was Radovan coming out of a coma.

For two weeks, I couldn't sleep or eat. Every day going to the hospital to see how he was, at first his family didn't want to see me there. Eventually, they saw I was suffering too. His wife Malina came up to me one day, she said. "Go home if there is any change we will inform you."

"Call me if there is any change," I said.

Two days after my last visit to the hospital, Sarah was trying all day to cheer me up. We made plans to go out for a meal that night. I remember that day like it was yesterday. It was raining all day, in the evening it had stopped. We left the flat at around 8 pm. Sarah was so happy that night, I hadn't seen her like that for a long time, she was laughing and joking.

We were stopped at the traffic lights, all of a sudden, there was a big crash forcing the car to judder forward into the traffic ahead, I saw some lights on my right coming towards the car, then everything went blurry to black. Coming around I was face down on the tarmac, hearing sirens in the distance, while people were speaking around me, then everything darkened again.

When I woke up I was lying in bed, everything around me was white I blinked a couple of times for my eyes to adjust. Then I heard a familiar voice it was my mother. "He's waking up." Rushing towards me to the side of the bed, mum grabbing my hand while dad and my sister were behind her.

"Where is Sarah," I said.

They put their heads down while my father answered. "We lost her son,"

I shouted. "NO, NO, NO!"

Trying to get out of bed, I felt a jab on my arm, everything went black again.

A drunk driver caused the accident. We were waiting at the traffic lights, he hit us in the rear, due to the road been wet he pushed the car into a dual carriageway. The car got hit by a van which instantly flipped to its side. The drunk driver died instantly, Sarah died in hospital in the operating theatre.

The funeral was held two weeks later in a private part of Southgate Cemetery. Keeping my distance from Sarah's family, especially her parents. On leaving the cemetery we crossed paths with her parents, her mother started to cry as soon as she spotted me, but her father looked at me with hate in his eyes.

He said. "You killed my little girl you bastard!"

Sarah's father tried to take me to court for the manslaughter of his daughter. He had a lot of influence on the court, but it did not help him win the case. That is when I decided to leave London never to return.

That was just over three years ago since then I have moved to a village in North Wales. Porthmadog is my home now. No one knows where I am, not even my family. The only person I have spoken about what happened was Mrs Watson. One night of recognition in the boxing world was not enough for people to know me in a small village in Wales.

Now living day by day, I have written a novel which took me two years to complete. Had it published under an anonymous name? It surprised me, it wasn't a number one hit, but it stayed in the top ten for a couple of months. Sarah would have been very proud of me if she was still alive. Now, most evenings I spend with Mrs Watson, keeping each other company.

*****

It was a warm Sunday afternoon, Mrs Watson and I were enjoying one of her delicious blueberry pies with a cup of tea on her porch. From where the porch was you could see the road leading to the village. In the distance, we saw something shining from the reflection of the sun. As it got closer to the house, we noticed it was a black sedan. I did not recognise it as one of the residents of the village, that is when I knew it was here for me.

The car stopped twenty metres from the house, the sun was reflecting on the glass so you couldn't see who was inside. I slowly got up supported myself on the porch rails waiting in anticipation to see who it was. As the car door opened, a lady got out of the car. It was as if I saw a ghost, Sarah's ghost. But it wasn't. It was Jacky Taylor my ex-mother-in-law. Dressed up like she came from a funeral, all in black. She approached the house, just before the steps leading to the house she took off her sunglasses while she looked up.

"It took you a while to find me Mrs Taylor, has new evidence been found against me!" I said.

She looked at me for a few seconds before answering. "Hello George, I knew where you were when you moved here, did not want to cause you any problems, we all suffered enough."

That is when Mrs Watson spoke. "Please come up join us for some tea."

Mrs Watson reorganised the chairs, then asked Jacky to have a seat.

Still standing in the same spot holding onto the porch tight looking towards the village, not wanting to look at her. I said. "Why are you here?"

"Your father-in-law passed away." She replied.

Slowly turning away, I started walking towards the cottage. "I'll send some flowers with my florist," I said

"The baby survived!" she shouted.

Freezing on the spot, I felt a tear run down my cheek. Still facing away, I carried on walking. I said. "Leave all the details with Mrs Watson."

Pacing up and down the living room of the cottage, trying to think, at the same time saying to myself. "Jacky is lying, why come to tell me that my child is alive." Needing air, I opened the back door I stepped outside. I had a stack of logs piled on one side of the cottage. Taking my axe, I started to chop firewood, carried on till my arms ached.

Then a voice from behind said. "We won't need wood until winter George."

That's when I collapsed onto my knees put my head down I started to cry. Mrs Watson came behind me kneeled down to put her arm around my shoulder.

"Why don't we go inside George." She whispered.

Sitting on the sofa just staring at the TV. The show Britain's Got Talent was on with Simon saying something to Amanda while laughing. The volume was off, I didn't hear what he said, but what came into my mind was. "Will I ever laugh like that again."

Mrs Watson came into the living room with two mugs of tea. She put one of them in front of me on the coffee table held the other one in her hand. She sat next to me rubbing my back with the palm of her other hand.

"It is a long drive back to the hotel, so Jacky is staying at the house with me tonight." Mrs Watson said.

Angrily turning to look at her I said. "That woman and her husband tried to destroy me."

"George, you will have some time to calm down, in the morning you can come to my house, all three of us can have breakfast then you two can talk."

Still looking at her I said. "Ok Mrs Watson, but I am only doing this because I respect you."

All night all I could do was toss and turn in the bed. Thinking "What if it's true. Could the baby have survived."

Managing to fall asleep in the early hours of the morning, I was late getting up. It was the first time I did not go for a run. After a shower, I got dressed then made my way to Mrs Watson's house. Approaching the back door which took me directly to her kitchen, I could hear there was a conversation between the two ladies.

Knocking on the door, I waited for an answer.

Mrs Watson called out. "It's open George!"

On entering the kitchen. Sitting at the table was Mrs Taylor, Mrs Watson was preparing something on the stove.

"Good morning, Mrs Watson, good morning Mrs Taylor," I said.

They both responded with "Good morning George" at the same time.

"Didn't see you go for a jog this morning George." Mrs Watson said.

"I felt a little down today."

Helping her with the preparation of the breakfast we both sat as well at the table to have something to eat. When we finished, I got up to clearing the table.

Mrs Watson told me. "Take a seat George let me do that later."

That's when Mrs Taylor spoke. "You've become very close to my son-in-law Mrs Watson."

I looked at her angrily saying. "Son-in-law!"

She got up walked out of the kitchen rushing upstairs.

Mrs Watson looked at me with frowned eyebrows. She said "she found out about her grandson two days ago, Jacky didn't know what to do, you were the only person she could think of to help her find him. Yes, George, she did not know the baby survived."

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