Candle

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She put the candle in the window and prayed that her loved ones would come home soon.

 

(In memory of all those lost and injured in the Manchester Arena Bombing on Monday 22nd May 2017)

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Writer Struggles

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I can no longer feel it in my heart and soul. Where once I had energy and passion there is only a dry husk. I feel there is nothing left inside of me to write about. Every place I look for motivation I find none.

Sitting at the bus stop or lingering in a closing cafe, I listen and watch the people just like I have done for years. My mind draws no pictures around them. They are normal people with normal lives. Not fantasy heroes or Victorian heroines ready for adventures.

Searching in the library, I find books on writing, but I’ve read them all before. I look for more, anything that draws my attention, anything that might get the gears working in my head again. I leave with my arms full of books and spend all day and night reading, but it doesn’t solve my problem.

I go to the doctor and tell him the voices have stopped talking in my head. He smiles and says but isn’t that what everyone wants? What’s the problem? I shout back, but I’m a writer and my life depends on those voices! He shrugs, tells me to eat healthier, have a holiday, and take up a new hobby.

At home I lay in bed, watching spider shadows across the ceiling. I think about what if I’d not been born me. What if I’d been born someone else? Like my doctor or the old lady who always gets the same bus as me. What if I was leading a totally different life right now?

Would I miss writing? Would I even know I had a gift?

I once had a gift.

Now there’s only empty space inside of my head with cotton candy clouds floating by. I wonder if Heaven is like this?

In the morning, I get up and pack a suitcase and rucksack. Of my writing suppliers, I take only an old comforting notebook and a favorite pen. I go to the train station, choose the next train to the furthest away place and buy a one way ticket.

Hopefully inspiration will be waiting at the end of the line.

Child

It was time. Elisabeth knew she had to do it, but she just didn’t know if she’d find the strength. Standing just inside the nursery room, she looked around and took in all the bright and pretty toys. There were so many things!

In pride of place was the dappled rocking horse with all his red leather tack. The doll’s house took up the left far corner, under the curtained window. The red bricked front tightly shut away, but inside was wonderful collection of fully fitted rooms for the china dolls to roam through.

There were soft toys and wooden toys gathered about. Books on a small bookshelf and other child size furniture; a desk, a chair, a sofa. A tea set all laid out on a circle table and dolls seated at the chairs as if they were really about to take tea. Everything was ready to be played with and you could almost hear the voices and laughter of children on the air.

Elisabeth sigh and thought about what should have been. She dropped her head and turned from the room. Her dark blue dress rustling about her. Her eyes caught those of the elderly housekeeper, who was waiting with dust sheets and the ring of house keys.

‘My Lady,’ the housekeeper spoke, ‘it will be open again before you know it.’

Elisabeth held her head high, trying not to show any of her grief. She swept passed the woman and went along the corridor and up the next flight of stairs to her room. Once there and with the door locked behind her, Elisabeth sank onto the bed and crumpled a child’s nightdress into her lap.

Tears began falling, thick and fast. Elisabeth buried her face into the nightdress and cried until exhausted, she lay down in bed and fell asleep.

 

(Inspired by: https://scvincent.com/2017/04/27/thursday-photo-prompt-child-writephoto/ with thanks)

Post It Note #33: Absquatulate (Part 2) #atozchallenge

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My daughter is gone. Perhaps, that’s for the best. Ever since that day nothing has been the same. I told my wife, she doesn’t care. I would leave too, but I can’t bring myself to do it.

Low Tide

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When the tide finally went out the tiny pink shoe was left half buried in the wet sand. A baby crab scuttled across it and paused wondering if he had found a new shell to call home. He sit in the shoe for a few minutes then decided it was just too big for him and scuttled away.

The men gathered on a sand dune. Flatting down the spiky marram grass with their damp clothes. They breathed the sea salt air heavily and shared around the last flasks of water, tea and whisky. In depressed silence, they looked out at the low tide and long strip of yellow beach over which the setting sun was casting a colourful display.

As the darkness gathered, the men said their goodbyes and left, fading back into the village with a heaviness in their hearts.

(From; https://scvincent.com/2017/02/02/thursday-photo-prompt-low-tide-writephoto/)

 

Boats

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She liked to sit on the shore and watch the boats on the water. No matter how hard she tried though, she couldn’t step on to one, even a tiny row boat. The fear of her father’s death was still raw even after all these years. Every time her eyes shut, she could see him tumbling from the over crowded dingy and into the deep sea. Vanishing before anyone could help him under the large waves.

She had screamed and screamed, till her voice went. Strangers had tried to comfort her but she didn’t want to know. When they finally arrived, she collapsed on the beach and lay there until someone had picked her up.

She couldn’t recall much afterwards, just a sense of so much loss and the question, how could the smugglers have promised a new beginning, safe from war, when really they were tearing families further a part?

 

(Prompt from: https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/49410752/posts/1536 with thanks.)

Journals (Part 5)

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(Please be aware this story contains adult sexual content.) 

We got lucky on the next day as it being Sunday, both Ty and Darla decided to go around to friends for the afternoon. With Freddie watching cartoons and playing with his toys, Dan and I read through gran’s journals. Dan choose to start the year before I was born and I re-read my birth year one.

Close reading as much as I could, the detail gran had gone into about things amazed me. Not only did she written about what she had done during the day and what my mum and then I had done, she also wrote about what the neighbors and her friends had been up to. Also, about UK and world events. On 27th February, gran wrote about a rail workers and civil servant strike, 3rd March: IRA bombing London, 17th March: the opening of the new London bridge, 21 March: the flooding of a coal mine in West Yorkshire.

‘Didn’t you say that your gran had suspected one of your mum’s teachers of being your father?’ Dan broke in with sometime later.

I turned and looked up at him on the sofa. He was laying down, the journal open in both hands, his eyes on me over the top of the book. I was sat crossed legged on the floor, back to the sofa, just little way down from him. The journal before me resting against the edge of the coffee table, which was littered with drinks, snacks, the other journals and a couple of Freddie’s toys.

‘I believe so…’ I trailed, trying hard to think.

‘She writes here,’ Dan said then began reading from the diary, ‘Mary seems infatuated with her new history teacher, Mr Bradwell. When I asked her about him, she said he was twenty-four, just graduated university and taking over from Mrs Green who’s taking early retirement due to illness. Mary has never shown so much interested in history before! I hope to meet this Mr. Bradwell at parents evening in a few months time. Perhaps then though Mary will have lost interested in him.’

Mr Bradwell?’ I questioned, ‘I’ve seen that name a few times. I thought it was just a neighbor or a friend though. And I don’t remember gran stating his name when she listed my potential fathers.’

‘Did she write anyone’s name?’ Dan asked.

I thought for a moment, ‘I don’t remember. But it’s in here somewhere.’

‘Would you though?’ Dan mused, ‘if you were writing a list of men which accused them of getting your sixteen year old daughter pregnant would you put their names down? Okay, so the chances of someone reading your personal diary are slim, but it still could happen….Then she’d have been in trouble and the rumors would have further spread.’

I felt a shiver go through me as he said the first part of that. I saw Darla in my mind’s eye. How would I feel if my fifteen year old daughter got pregnant? Especially, if I suspected a new teacher at her school? I’d be a terrible mother. And yes, the times were different now, but still teenage sex and pregnancy happened. I felt an odd sense of history repeating and I sat for a few moments reflecting on this. Dan calling my name repeatedly snapped me out of it.

‘Maya? What’s wrong?’

‘I was thinking about how history repeats itself,’ I replied slowly.

‘Huh?’

I glanced at Freddie, he was still engrossed by the bright cartoon characters. I moved around, so I lent my side against the sofa and could hold hands with my husband.

‘I really hope Darla doesn’t make the same mistake my mum did. I’d hate for her to get pregnant so young.’

Dan breathed deeply and slipped the journal to the floor. He took my hands, lent over and kissed my forehead. Dropping his lips further down, I raised my head so our lips could brush.

‘It won’t happen,’ he breathed, ‘we’ve raised her better. She’s a sensible girl. Mature for her age and she’s seen how hard bringing up a baby is.’

He glanced at Freddie whilst I nodded.

‘Why don’t you talk to her about this, later? It’ll help set your mind at rest,’ he added.

‘I should.’

He kissed me again. Pressing harder this time. I let everything slip away and I got lost in the feel and taste of him. When the tip of his tongue teased my lips apart, I open my mouth and let him in. Dan pulled me into a tighter hug, one of his hands held my head and the other slipped down my back as I moved into a kneeling position to reach him better. I wrapped my arms around his neck, angling him down to me better.

Freddie laughing loudly ended the kiss.

I looked over my shoulder and saw him standing next to the TV, hands pressed to the screen. Rolling my eyes, I got up and went to him. I scooped him up with lots of loud kisses and tickles.

‘I got you, Freddie!’ I declared.

He burst into more laughter. I swung him up then around a few times.

‘I think it’s nap time,’ I said afterwards.

‘No, mummy!’ he shouted, pressing his hands to my cheeks.

‘Yes!’

I blew a raspberry with my tongue and set him off giggling. Then I bundled him upstairs and into his bedroom. Surprisingly, it didn’t take him long to settle down. I turned on the nightlight which also played soft music. I read him a book and tugged him in. Watching him dozing and falling asleep for a few moments, I felt a burst of love and pride. Freddie had been my miracle baby.

For five years after Ty had been born, Dan and I had tried for another baby. Then we gave up. We were a happy family and complete. I didn’t feel the need for another child. However, in the spring of 2012 I thought I had cancer. It was a strange moment and connected to my gran’s scare. Luckily, she never had it and it was a bad chest infection. I though was declared pregnant.

Coming home from that appointment, I was debating, just like my mother and gran had when they had found out, if I should get an abortion or put the baby up for adoption. I was thirty-nine, a still okay age for a third dose of motherhood and the gap between Ty and Freddie was only nine years. Dan and I talked for months about it, but in the end I decided to keep Freddie and I knew the second I held him in my arms it had been the right choice.

Coming back, I patted Freddie’s arm and left him sleeping. Downstairs, Dan had changed the TV to the Formula 1 Grand Prix and was watching it. The diary still abandoned on the floor.

‘He’s sleeping,’ I announced.

‘Good. I was getting bored of Dora,’ Dan replied.

‘Really?’ I broke into laughter, ‘I thought you had a crush on her?’

‘No!’

Dan gripped me as I bent to pick up the diary. I wiggled against him as we tumbled back on the sofa.

‘I joked one time!’ he added.

Twisting out of his hold and back on my feet, I put the diary on the table.

‘And I just can’t let it go,’ I finished, ‘did you find anything else?’

‘No. I stopped reading.’

I sighed and sank down onto the sofa.

‘Your gran was a great writer,’ Dan added.

‘I’m starting to realise. But it’s not getting us anywhere!’

‘I’ve had another idea…’

‘Oh?’

‘Next weekend, we’ll get the kids to help us and we’ll scan the journals into computers. Then we can search keywords. That’ll speed everything up. Okay, it might take awhile to scan all the pages, but it’d be good to preserve your gran’s writing anyway,’ Dan explained.

I looked at him, ‘you really think that could work?’

‘Yes. My computer and Darla’s both have printers that can scan. And we can easily buy a scanner to hook up to your or Ty’s laptop. Then we can get the computers to find words like your name or your mum’s name or missing or whatever. Then we can just read those sections and we should pick up more information,’ Dan informed me.

I nodded, ‘that might be good…’

‘Then we could pass the diaries on to some history buffs.’

‘Or the police,’ I added.

‘Yep.’

‘I love it!’

I threw my arms around him, hugging him tightly. Dan laughed then kissed me. I pressed my lips harder against his and moaned aloud. Dan arranged us, so that I was laying on top of him and was comfortable underneath. The kissing continued, our lips and tongues dancing together. Then Dan slipped his hands into my cotton pants and under my underwear. He squeezed my bum, gently at first then harder. He rolled his hips against mine, bouncing us gently.

I ended the kiss and dragged in deep breaths. I felt torn for a few seconds as really we should get back to reading or starting on Dan’s idea. But these moments were getting harder to sneak in with two teenagers in the house. I almost voice my thoughts, but then Dan was shifting me off him and rolling us over.

Dan pulled down my pants and underwear. I reached to undo his trousers and he helped me whilst we carried on kissing. I felt his hands on my breasts. Then he’s fingers were sliding under my top and bra. I gasped and moaned against his mouth as contact was made.

He mumbled, ‘God, I love you,’ in my ear.

I tried to say it back, but the words were lost in another moan as I felt his hardness in-between my legs. He pushed into me and though I tried to keep quiet, I couldn’t help it and an ‘oh’ sound come out very loudly. I wrapped my arms and legs around his body, as Dan pressed his hands to a space just above my shoulders. He moved slowly at first, kissing me often then he picked up the pace and sent us both over the edge.

After we curled up together and watched the ending of the Grand Prix.

To Be Continued…

Journals (Part 4)

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(Please be aware this story contains adult sexual content.) 

That night, after Chinese takeaway and the kids had gone to bed, I went through the journals.

I got Dan to bring the three boxes into the living room and I sat on the floor surrounded by books. For awhile, Dan helped but then he put the TV on and got distracted by a movie. With the journals all neatly dates, it was easy for me to find the ones I wanted. Setting the others back into their boxes, I looked at the seven books before me. There were all fake leather A3 size, two were black, two were blue, one was green, the sixth red and the seventh was a strange grey color. It didn’t seem to fit in with the rest.

I picked it up and double checked the date. 1979, the year my mum went missing. I put it back and picked up the one dated 1973, the year I was born instead. I flipped to my birthday and read my gran’s account of that day. It was brief. She wrote about my mum and her going into hospital at about lunch time and me bring born a few hours later. Everything was fine, but then there was a line about the nurses and doctors asking about who the father was. If my mum was married and if she was actually going to keep me.

They forced the adoption papers into Mary’s hands. I told her it was her choice, but hadn’t I said I would take the baby on myself? This family has had to many lost children. Mary decided to keep the baby, but she wants to raise it by herself. I know it’s going to a street scandal, but this isn’t the 1950’s now! We shall do our best.

 I turned the page and read some more. It was another brief entry; my naming, leaving the hospital in the late evening and getting me home. Then something about the fact I was a good baby and slept well.

I went to the end of the journal and read the last page. I was five months old now. My gran had put that my mum still wouldn’t tell her who my father was. She could see the weight of the responsibility weighing down her sixteen year old daughter. She planned to adopt me and send my mum back to school.

I closed the book and reached of another one.

‘Anything interesting?’ Dan asked sleepily from the sofa.

‘No. That was the year I was born, so I wasn’t really expecting anything,’ I replied.

I picked up the next one and opened it.

‘We should go to bed. I’ve work in the morning,’ Dan spoke.

‘I’ll be up in a bit,’ I replied.

He paused then said, ‘come to bed with me now. You’ll lose track of time and be up all night…just like when you were reading Harry Potter.’

I smiled at that without really meaning too.

He got up and came to me. Slipping his hands on to my shoulders and massaging. I hummed a little and let everything go. All the tension and worry I’d been carrying with me and just hiding came to the surface. Tiredness quickly followed and I decided for a change that my husband was right.

I had the journals now and whatever secrets were inside of them could wait until morning. Dan helped me up and we went upstairs.

In the week that followed, I read the journals closely in any spare time I had. They told me very little and so much at the same time. I began to realise though that my mum had never told anyone the name of my father. My gran thought it could be a number of men, including; one of my mum’s high school teachers and an eighteen year old neighbor. I though, my gran wrote, looked too much like my mum.

When I came to read the grey 1979 journal it was very patchy and it seemed pages might have been torn out, though I couldn’t be sure. The date my mum officially was declared missing was Tuesday in late April. She had failed to come home from a friend’s house Monday night. Gran wrote mum never turned up to work her part time job in a shoe shop on Monday or Tuesday. She had asked friends and no one had seen her.

The police said she’d run away from home and or was just staying with a friend. She’d turn up. Gran felt differently though. It didn’t make any sense why Mary would leave me behind, she loved me. Even though Gran had pretty much taken over at this point. Gran wrote that six year old me often asked where mamma was. Gran said she was away and would come home soon. But she never did.

Soon after I finished the grey diary, I moved on and read through the 1980’s journals. Gran and the police were still looking for mum. There wasn’t a lot to go on though. And I stopped asking were she was. Gran was mum now and I had to worry about school and growing up.

‘Diaries turned up anything today?’ Dan asked a week or so later as we lay in bed together.

I snuggled against him, putting my head on his bare chest and listening to his breathing. He stroked my hair and held me close.

‘No,’ I replied, ‘gran was right when she told me she never knew what happened. Mary just vanished one day and the police could never find her. I always thought it was because of me. But gran told me and wrote how much Mary loved me. So that couldn’t have been her reason. I don’t know…Maybe I missed something.’

‘Or maybe that’s it,’ Dan said softly.

I rubbed his chest, feeling the small hairs against my skin. I looked up at him and he was watching me. He kissed the top of my head then I moved and our lips brushed.

‘Do you think I should give up?’ I questioned.

‘I wouldn’t,’ he answered quickly, ‘and your gran never did. The answers are out there somewhere. Tomorrow I’ll read through the diaries too. Maybe we’ll find out together.’

‘Thanks,’ I whispered and kissed him deeply.

To Be Continued…

Broken

Brown Shell Egg and Silver Hand Whisk

I felt the break deep within me. Only back then I didn’t really understand it. Now though, older and wiser, I’ve many things to liken it to. Take this egg for example. It’s whole but once suddenly dropped it breaks into pieces and reveals what’s inside. Granted the egg is not alive and can’t display nothing of what has happen to it. Imagine if that egg was a child though.

That was how I felt with Ocean died. We were whole, we were one, we were mirror images of each other. Ocean and Haven, Haven and Ocean, sea and harbour, together forever.

It’s twenty years ago today. We were eight years old and troublemakers, but in the nicest of ways. A storm had hit our seaside village. The wind and rain had been raging all day and I remember seeing and hearing the sea look so wild and scary. I don’t think I cried, but I made my fear plain enough. I recall Ocean saying she wouldn’t leave me as she put a comforting arm around me.

We shared a room that had two single beds in it, but that night we settled into one. I think it might have been mine. It didn’t matter anyway as both beds were either side of the window. Ocean and I had often shared a bed, seeking the comfort and warmth of each other.

I had to go the bathroom. I remember that so clearly. Getting out of the bed, I left Ocean sleeping, thinking I’d be back soon. There was a massive crash and the sound of glass breaking. Everything shook around me and I fall to the floor. Things were rattling and all I could hear was the storm roaring in my ears.

They said it had been a freak accident. The tree had fallen into the house and taken half of it down. They said it would have killed us both, but for the fact that the bathroom was on the other side of the hallway.  I hardly remember it, but for the image of the house torn in two and the fact that the other back seat in the car next to me was empty.

I asked after her often, ‘where is Ocean, ma?’ ‘When is Ocean coming back, da?’ ‘I miss Ocean.’ Of course, I knew the child version of death, but to me Ocean had said we’d always be together and that surely meant she was going to come back. Didn’t it?

My new bedroom only had a one bed and actually thinking about it from then on there was only one of everything. For ages, my parents let me set out another place at the table, buy two teddies or dolls or toys and doubled the presents at Christmas.

The years passed and passed, but I’ve never felt the same since that night. It’s always seems like a piece of me is missing and no matter what I do I can’t find it.

I’m broken.

Jump

Person Standing on a Brown Wood Log Floating on a Body of Water

Looking into the clear water, I avoided her eyes as her announcement hung in the air. A group of small fish passed by, battling the strong river current. I faked interested in them to give me time to think hard, which I then couldn’t do. Her words were totally unexpected and heavily weighted.

I wanted to ask her so many questions; why? How? Who?

But nothing would form. It was if the English language had left me completely and I was a dumb foreigner in a new country. The fish passed by, going wherever they were heading to up river. Gentle waves lapped at the soil banks and around the posts of the old wooden bridge. I saw a clump of grass and a long twisted stick pass by. It all seemed so normal.

‘Rory,’ she whispered my name like a ghost on the wind.

I didn’t turn to her, I couldn’t.

‘I’m sorry,’ she added as if that would make it any better.

A breeze shook the just turning autumn leaves of the surrounding forest trees. A few leaves came loose and fluttered down into the water. They landed lightly, causing only a few small ripples, then the river carried them away.

And still, I couldn’t face her or the truth of her words. It felt like this was happening to someone else. A different version of me that was here at another time. I hope that Rory acted better.

I heard her stand up. The rustle of clothes, the jiggling of her backpack. All I could think about was this was why she had brought me here, to tell me that. She knew it would be easier out here whilst I was captivated by the magic of the forest instead of inside a cafe or a house. She could slip away perfectly now, vanish into the pines and the hollows without worrying I’d chase after her.

She sighed and lingered for a few moments. I just knew she was waiting for me to say something. What did she want? For me to beg like a dog? Plead that if she took the words back I’d promise my eternal love like some Greek hero? Perhaps, she had known all the long that this would happen. That the weight of her words would sink me like the stones we had sometimes thrown into the river.

My silence stretched. I heard her light footsteps moving away then she paused again and I think she almost wanted to say something to me. Even if I’d wanted to look at her, I couldn’t move my head and perhaps if I had it might have changed things. Or maybe, it wouldn’t have made a difference.

She left me watching the flowing water and thinking about jumping in.