The illuminated logo flexed as Bell and Cross swayed across a cloudless blue sky. Beathan Spice had made his decision yet the steps between making it and taking it were the longest. He took a deep breath and entered the extraordinary space beyond.
"Good day," greeted Mr Bell. His immaculate moustache twirled to nanometre perfection. Mr Cross blinked and nodded in accordance. "No need to be afraid," assured Mr Cross. "All life is beautifully arranged from here."
A single chime sounded.
A low half-murmur, half-whisper rippled across the space. Two long fingered palms and a face pressed into the room. A heel of one of the palms tapped against the glass and the rippling noise faded.
"Beathan, is that you?"
The face came into focus and there she was just as he remembered her. Long hair blowing about her shoulders and a smile as lazy as a Sunday morning. The beach at Scarborough stretched out in the distance. Seagulls soared from the walls behind him and all was washed in rays of sunlight.
"C'mon, Beathan," she rallied as she ran towards the sea chased by his grinning reflection. The waves tickled his toes.
"We're going to need a bucket for all these shells," she said showing him the contents of the folds of her skirt.
On the promenade they were met by clouds of vinegar and candyfloss. Up and down the helter-skelter they went and leapt on every ride at the fair. When he laughed he tasted ice-cream and suntan lotion, sand and satisfaction. He hungered for more.
"I missed you so much," he sobbed. Tears rained down his cheeks and dripped from his chin. She sang to him whilst she collected them in a bucket.
Two chimes rang out.
This time she was laid on her tummy half covered by a rumpled white sheet, eyes glinting playfully. "Come back to bed," she pleaded. "You know it makes sense."
Beathan laughed with her as he felt the pillow she threw hit the side of his face. He picked it up and returned the fire. She giggled with delight as he reached for the buttons of his shirt.
He woke to hear her gently breathing beside him. She nestled into him. When she laid her head on his chest he heard his own heart beating. He placed a kiss on her forehead and then her nose.
"What was that for?" she laughed.
"Because I can," he sighed between kisses.
There was a third chime.
She was in the room with him all lipstick and bravado. She berated him for being late, spending too much time elsewhere, for not being the man she deserved, Everything wrong with the world was his fault.
Beathan did not have the words to defend himself. How could he? There was no defence to what she was saying. He had been selfish at times.
"You'll regret this when I'm gone," she spat.
Her eyes flashed and so did his temper.
"Aye... well, that can't be soon enough for me!" He winced then ducked as something flew past his head.
When the fourth chime came all the walls in the room morphed into silver.
Fire bounced off tall black streets and his breath curled in the night air. Hogmanay in Edinburgh. They were dancing with thousands of others in the torchlight procession, throngs and throngs of people joyous in saying goodbye to the old and ringing in the new. At the old town ceilidh, they chatted and planned for the years ahead.
"Forever and a day," she declared.
"This I promise you," he said and he meant it.
"This you promised me," she echoed.
Her lip gloss beamed at him before his kisses smeared it across her face like Chrism on a babe at baptism. She smiled at him, her fingers glided across his skin.
"Beathan," she called snowflakes falling all around her. "Let's make a snow angel!" She ran across the garden and threw herself on the ground limbs flailing around her.
Snowflakes melted on his scalp. He took a handful of snow and threw it at her. Then another and another until his fingers were numb. She lay still in the angel cut out on the ground dressed in a blanket of snow.
He rubbed his hands together and blew warm air to diffuse the chill. He never liked the cold.
The fifth chime sounded.
Beathan was scuba diving in deep waters with nothing above him other than solid darkness. The acidic waters nipped holes in his wetsuit burning through to his skin.
Around him the waters were swamped with multitudes of various shells. Despite his pain Beathan watched as the mass gradually floated down to the depths below, less half a dozen irridescent ones, which lifted him to the surface when chimed from above.
Amerthyst grasses rustled at his feet whilst a Chroma blue sky glided overhead. The air was sweet with wild broom and laden with the promise of new discoveries.
Beathan headed for the final wall and pressed both of his palms against the glass eager to see into the space beyond. People were partying. His kind of 24-hour party people. Madchester. The Hacienda laird!
Beathan soared into the atmosphere. He gave himself up to the rhythm until his brain struggled to handle the intensity.
"Hallelujah!" he cried.
"Do you miss me," she asked.
"I missed you," he replied.
She reached out for him. "Forever and a day?"
Oasis hummed Half the World Away.
The sixth bell chimed.
A half-murmur, half-whisper rushed towards him. Without any hesitation Beathan flew into the silver wall.