Roots [29]

I don’t think you understand how this works.

How does it work?

Well, when the Beast’s wind blows, it says things to me.

Both of you? At the same time?

Well, if we are in the same place, yes. But otherwise no. It tells Tom different things.

So it speaks differently to you than it does Tom?

Yes! Yes, Mary, exactly.

And do you know why it only speaks to you two?

It doesn’t only speak to us. It spoke to you once, remember? It speaks to Aunt Martha.

Yes, but only that once.

Maybe, my dearest, sweetest girl, maybe some people are more in need of it than others.

Why does Tom need it?

I don’t know, darling. If I knew, I would.. well.

You still wouldn’t say yes to the poor fellow, would you.

Stop it, Mary. Don’t talk to me of such things.

Well. I think you’re stubborn and silly. And I think you have trained your ears to only listen to the silly things that old Beast tells you. Who knows how old those words are, and from which ancient tree they came. Who knows how long they have lived in these lands, and what hold they have on them. And you let them into your mind, and you let them make decisions for you. I think it’s all silly. I think you’re growing older, Laura, and you are putting roots where there is no soil.

Don’t you tell me where I ought to put my roots, Mary.

Well, I shall. I shall tell you. I think you’re wasting your time.

I am not!

You don’t laugh anymore.

I can’t.

The Beast has taken your joy away!

That’s absurd. If that was the case, my joy would have vanished ten years ago.

Something is not right, Laura.

I tell you, you don’t understand how this works!! Now stop it. Let us walk the rest of the way home in silence. The moon is large tonight. I want to feast my eyes on the world bathing in its silver light.

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Daisies on a Teacup [26]

He stayed away for three years. Each term, when his fellow students would pack their trunks and shout their goodbyes, he stayed on. Always finding an excuse to stay. One summer he worked as an assistant for an old doctor who lived in a village not far from the Academy. Another, he found himself inundated with work that he had not managed to complete during term, and had a letter from Master Jeffman himself to say he required the services of one Thomas Norton, if his family would be so kind as to excuse his absence.

Each holiday when John stepped off the train alone, or arrived home alone, or exited a carriage alone, her eyes would lose some spark. Nobody noticed. She was still her energetic, cheerful self.

Nobody thought it odd that Tom did not come back. Not even John. He would cheerfully remark on his friend’s ability to throw himself wholly, completely into his studies. He would detail how well Tom was doing, the praise Tom received from Master Jeffman, praise which any for other boy was hard to come by.

And she smiled when her brother spoke of him. Gracious smile, and then a change of track in conversation.

Nobody noticed.

Until one day, she could not take it any longer.

She sat down, picked up her pen.

Dear Tom,

I do not know but that I despise December. It is cold. It is grey. Darkness arrives not long after it lifts. When I see the dawn, I see no colour, save for the few days of sunshine we are so blessed to have. Perpetual GLOOM, Tom. Daises on a teacup. The only thing I look forward to in December is John’s much anticipated arrival. We all wait for him at the station, you see, since he writes which day he will be here. Mary waits, too, and your mother. She expects you, even if you have written to tell her you will not be on that train.

We get up early in December, before the dawn struggles its way up our side of the hill. The Lake has finally, finally frozen around the edges. Not enough to skate on – never enough for THAT, but we still dream, Mary and I. She is preparing to set off to new horizons. Come February, she too will be gone and then it will be just me left. She will be an Educated Woman, and I shall be the last remaining farm girl.

I could spend the rest of my life here, Tom. Everyday I love it more. I love the wind blowing over the hills and meadows. I love watching the sun set itself over our lake. I love the rustle in the forest. I love the smell of pine and rose when I fling my windows open in late summer. I love, yes, begrudgingly, I love the frosty mornings of December when every leaf, every twig, every branch, every blade of grass is iced most delicately, the most beautiful handiwork ever seen. I have no desire to take myself off into the world, or throw myself into studies, or teach, or marry a rich man and sail the seas with him. I want to stay here. With my roses. With my beast.

Daises on a teacup, Tom.

Our John tells us you are doing so well. So brilliantly well. He says you will be a doctor so renowned one day that none of us shall ever hear from you again, you shall be wanted all over the world. Is that true? I know my brother, he embellishes a lot. He flourishes one’s positive traits until one becomes faultless in his description. You are not faultless, and I know you are excelling, but I want some grisly detail. I want to hear of the fun things you get up to. I want to know what you do when you are not wearing the tip of your nose away on the grindstone.

With Affection,

Laura

P.S. Can we possibly be friends again?

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Sunrise and Rainbow [22]

My sister sent me a text when I was downstairs in my mother’s house, working at the dining table.

It was 7am. The house was silent. Everybody was fast asleep.

‘There’s a rainbow outside’ she wrote.

Immediately I jumped up, yanked open the curtains, and this is what I saw.

On one side, a gorgeous rainbow. Then behind me, opposite the rainbow, the prettiest sunrise!

Needless to say today I did not manage to sit to write a proper blog post. But I can’t miss a day, not when we are this close to the finish line. Every day in November a blog post! So here is my contribution from today. My eyes are stinging with exhaustion, I am about to collapse into bed, hoping my kids sleep through the night tonight! And I am happy I managed to get a post out before November 22 ends!

Ethereal [10]

I don’t know how to pay attention.

To the moon, to the stars, to the earth spinning in the galaxy.

I don’t know how to slow down and hear the leaves fall.

I sometimes stand still when it is dark, but light. I can hear the call of the humming system that is life. I can hear it in the way the trees rustle together.

I can see it when the clouds, dark and purple, scud themselves over the beaming moon.

I can hear it when humanity is tucked away for the night. In the stillness.

It roars loudly when the machinery shuts off for the night.

It roars and it calls me, you see.

But I am always in a rush, I don’t heed its call.

What would happen if I stopped, and listened? If I turned my eyes upwards. If I let them focus, till the blur became a sharp knife to slice through reality as I know it.

What would I hear? What would I see?

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Kindness

Today’s prompt word is kindness.

In my life I have not been very kind to those I love the most. I don’t know why I do that. It’s something I can’t control at the time and then regret immediately. I’m not unkind all the time but I do it a lot when I feel irritated.

At the same time, I’ve been told numerous times that I am a kind person. When people say that I feel like an imposter. As a child I was kind, I remember being so, but I also remember being distinctly unkind.

There are many quotes floating around about kindness. The general consensus seems to be that it is an attribute people should strive towards. An action to be carried out without the need for a reward – expecting a reward for an act of kindness makes the act unkind. Despite the fact that it’s still the same action being carried out.

People have been kind to me when I have least expected it. For example once my bike chain broke on the side of the road and there were a bunch of skinheads smoking by the verge. When they saw me battling with my chain they approached me and I panicked thinking oh no they are going to be racist or attack me – but no they asked if I was ‘alright love’ and they fixed my bike chain for me whilst making merry.

They didn’t expect anything in return because they sauntered off once I was back on wheels again.

Being kind makes you feel good inside. Having someone be kind to you makes you warm to them. Humans need kindness, it helps us thrive.

Myself

Hello. Yes it is me. Peering into the internet. I am sitting in bed with a baby snoozing in my arms as I type this. It has been some kind of day. He won’t seem to settle tonight unless he is being held but I don’t mind I don’t I don’t I never will mind because he will never be this little again and he is my big big blessing.

We did nothing today but are exhausted. But that is the reality of parenthood.

It’s been three months to the day since our lives changed completely, and as I was getting into the shower at 10:47pm I thought to myself – you know, self, your life is never going to go back to being like it was before. So stop thinking of that. Embrace this change and make the most of it.

So that is what I have decided to do. Babies are not a pause in life – rather an enrichment of it. See it’s taking me a while to get there but I am working on it.

See what I have to do is throw myself all the way in. Go all out. Dedicate my brain and time to learning and teaching and loving and nurturing. Not wishing for a holiday.

I love this boy more and more every single day it’s insane.

Like at the beginning I don’t think I bonded very well with him because of how traumatic the birth was – and because I was under general anaesthetic when they pulled him out of me via emergency c section – I didn’t witness his entrance into this world. They literally put him on me while I was woozy and drowsy from the operation and I tried to connect but all I wanted to do was sleep. So weird right?

But now I am in my right mind again – I think… i don’t know yet because back then I thought I was in my right mind but I very obviously was not…

anyway. Myself. That was the prompt for today. I must work on myself and not hang about the fringes of things if I want to give my boy a valuable childhood.

I want to give him the best in terms of mind enrichment and education. So that means I have to make sure I am educated and informed.

If you have had kids, how did you navigate being ‘yourself’ in order to nourish the brain of your child? Any tips would be so very welcome!

The Last Day

It was the last day of summer.

The last day the frogs leapt in unison. The last day the Rooks flew into town, sailing on the wafts of music which floated up between the long fingers of flutists. The last day peach gowns were worn, gossamer and chiffon wafting gently in the breeze as though underwater.

It was the longest day of the year, the shortest night. Some reckoned the night didn’t come at all, because the sun was peeking blearily over the tip of the horizon, hiding her fiery hair, but not quite low enough so her rays didn’t escape and lighten the blackness of night.

Penny’s parents were preparing for the sunset, the sunset that would never come.They ran around the kitchen like headless chickens, and she smiled to herself.

She watched them from her corner in the kitchen, where the small window fit neatly into the little alcove, and was a porthole to the view of the sharp, steep landscape outside their house. She sat on a small red cushion, worn and faded from years of use, on the small wooden window seat.

When she turned back to the view outside, she saw the Rooks. An entire flock of them. A colossal black cloud, swirling over the mountainous city, like an ominous vortex. Their hoarse cries rising in the sky, a bellow of extortionate proportions. The very utensils shook on their hooks, the mugs rattled and the cupboard doors vibrated with the sound of over a thousand of them, and Penny slammed her hands over her ears.

The music from the city was drowned, and the sun sank lower in the horizon. She watched as they soared around the city once, twice, and a third, final time, before they swooped upward, covering the sky, and bringing darkness onto the world. Pitch blackness draped her window, and Penny found herself looking at the glass and seeing only her dim reflection, and the reflection of the wooden kitchen in it.

She turned to her parents, they had stopped what they were doing, and were standing, frozen, eyes on the window. The house began to hum with the screeching outside. It was beyond anything she could imagine, and even though they heard it every year, the sound was momentous. Time-stopping. Gut-wenching. She felt it in her bones, her heart was beating to the sound of it. Her breathing changed to match the shift in tune. The sound was increasing. Louder and louder, the vibrations more and more intense, until, as the clanging orchestra outside reached its peak, a sudden silence filled the room. The darkness outside surged, replaced by a dim twilight, and Penny stared up at an empty sky.

The Rooks had vanished.

The remaining twilight would hang over the world for a few weeks, before the black tendrils of winter edged their way across the sky, bringing frost and snow.

The last day of summer.

 

 

On Buttercups and Balance

Two years ago the sun was shining and buttercups rippled across the field I could see from my window. I could watch the sun rise, and set, and then rise again, throwing its magnificent morning rays over the world, through a film of atmospheric cloud. There were no buildings to start and stop the process, and watching that orb climb slowly up the horizon was a bliss I could never miss.

Hazy mornings turned into stunning afternoons, every colour highlighted and illuminated by the bright summer sun.

I was not happy then, even though I had everything I’d dreamed of growing up in an Arabian desert. I dreamed of blue skies to replace my dusty brown ones. I dreamed of vivid greens and the smell of freshly cut grass, to replace my fake grass and the dismal beige weeds that decorated the sand sparsely. I was not happy, though.

And I ate my feelings.

I am not happy now, either.

I just can’t seem to find a good balance in life.

Back then I had no car and no job and was stuck in the middle of nowhere with no neighbours and and no way of getting away unless I spent a fortune on bus fares, which I couldn’t afford because I had no job.

Now I have a job but I have to travel away from home to go to it and it is causing a raucous in my family life.

I suppose it is in the human nature to always want more and never be satisfied with what they have.

I suppose it is also a matter of finding balance. And being content, and making reasonable decisions.

Also there is an element of faith here. Maybe my faith is weak at the moment. In fact, I know it is. And that is why I feel so lost and discontent.

 

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This was such a beautiful day. I walked for hours and hours with nothing but the silence, the wind, the sunlight, the soft swish of swaying grasses to keep me company. 

Twig

“Twii-iig!”

That was Delilah. She did not always speak in a lilting tone. It only happened when she was either particularly annoyed, or uncommonly sad. Today, on this fine bright sunny May’s day, she was particularly annoyed. The object of her annoyance? Hmm, let us observe him.

He is walking along with quite a swagger, his hands stuffed deep into the blue pockets of his very baggy blue jeans. His white T-shirt hangs loosely over his skinny frame, and a shock of what looks to be very white hair obscures half his face and all of his neck. He is walking along the pavement, away from Delilah.

“TWWII-III-GG!” her shout has broken new grounds. It has yet to exceed the sound barrier, however.

Let us now describe Delilah. She is slight of build. Her hair is very dark, and falls over her face in softly curling waves. The large, baggy hoody she wears hangs over the black jeans beneath. On her feet she has placed a pair of scuffed black trainers. Her face is sharp and clearly defined; her features small and pretty. Her dark eyes are fringed with thick, long lashes. Her translucent skin reveals, beneath those strange, glittery eyes, a network of pale blue veins. The unusual emphasis of these blue veins gives her a slightly unearthly look.

Twig does not turn at the call of Delilah. He ambles along, smiling at the sky and to his front, but he never looks back. You can see that Delilah is now frowning deeply, seeming quite annoyed.  She stares after Twig, her frown deepening somewhat menacingly. She is not holding her breath, but in her mind is planning all the atrocities she will commit against such rudery. Oh, wait! It seems like she has NOT been thinking of atrocities, but was instead debating whether or not to call Twig again! Ah, she has reached her decision. Here we go…

“Twii-ii-IIII-IIIII-GGG!”

Holy mackerel! It has gone and exceeded the sound limit! Delilah Woods is indeed a talented girl.

Twig can be seen to jump in fright, clutch his arms to his chest and whip round. We can now see his face. It is as sharp featured as Delilah’s. But where Delilah was dark, Twig is not. He has a pair of striking eyes, the colour of cornflowers. His eyebrows and eyelashes are as white as his hair. He, in short, looks the very picture of total and complete terror. His eyes alight on Delilah pretty quickly, and his shoulders sag in relief.

“Oh”, he says, scratching his head, his other hand reaching for the safe haven of his pocket, “S’you”

“Yeah,” Delilah marches over to where he is standing, “after I’ve called you like twenty times!”

“Come now, Delilah…”

“No! Shush, Twig, you need to keep your ears pricked a bit more, you know?”

Twig can be seen to roll his eyes. Delilah, if you must know, is a bit of a drama queen. I think it has become quite apparent to you already, actually.

“Alright” Twig says, meekly. He gives a little smile to indicate that all is well back at the ranch.

“What was it you wanted, ay?”

Delilah hands him an envelope that she had pulled out of her brown satchel over the course of her short admonishment. Eyebrows raised, Twig takes it.

“Goodbye now, Twig” says Delilah, and she turns to make her way home.

Twig looks surprised, “Where are you going?” he asks, curious.

“Home” Delilah sings, her satchel swinging by her side.

“Can I walk with you, then?” it is Twig’s turn to call out. Delilah glances back, eyebrows raised.

“I hate to break it to you, Twig, but you live on the opposite side of town”

Twig nods, “Just checking” he says, simply.

“Fair enough” Delilah replies. Twig heaves a sigh of relief, stuffs the envelope into his pocket where it miraculously fits, and turns and carries on. He can feel his mind sink back into the dreamy state it had been in before Delilah had rudely interrupted him. A haze of blue obscures his vision, and a thin yellow path reveals itself to him as the direction he should be walking in, so that he avoids any obstacles. To you, as a mere outsider, his face looks blank. His eyes dart from here to there, unseeing and glassy. Twig, as it were, is walking in a bubble that is his own, sweet, serene world.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly how he likes it.

Love Letters #6

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October was cold. Stating the obvious, of course. Why shouldn’t October be cold? It has every right to, being the pathway to winter and all that. It leads us straight into misty November, it’s when all the leaves wither away in a cascade of vibrant colour.

Yellows and reds and browns were the colours of our days together. I met him on October the first. He was my October boy.

Our boots crunching on the dry leaves scattered around the grass in the park, or squelching on the soggy piles on the shiny wet pavements of the early twilights. Our cold hands intertwined, and we squelched on through the nights. Memories of sweet little conversations over the crunch-squelch-swish through the wet, dripping streets of October.

He would wait everyday outside the university gates, and I would rush out in my tights and red lipstick that I smacked on as I hurried down the stairs after my late lectures. I had to be glamorous for him, even after a long day of work and running my fingers through my hair. His deep brown eyes always lit up when he saw me, and he would hold his elbow out to me so I could slip my hand through, just like a gentleman.

We walked down the avenue of trees, through the park, down another avenue of trees and into the side streets where my flat sat hunched in the furthest corner of a rickety yellow block. There ivy crawling up the side of the outside walls and peeping into my windows.

That October was particularly cold. He brought me a lizard home once. Not alive. Skinned and roasted. In newspaper. Like it was fish and chips. It was tough, like overcooked chicken. But tasty. He brought me a pair of thick, woolly socks which I would wear in bed because our heating conked out. Our noses, protruding from the covers, were icy.

On October the 31st, he vanished.

He wasn’t outside the gates. I thought maybe he was kept in later at work. Sometimes that happened, but he always left me a message beforehand. I went home and made some butternut squash soup, put my socks on and wrote a bit of my dissertation. Lucy dropped by, black lipstick smudged, and begged me to come out.

We had some soup and bread, and she left.

Eleven o’clock. I got into my PJs and brushed my teeth. Turning off the lights, I walked over to the window and peered out between the ivy. Street lamps threw pale glowing circles onto the cobbles outside the block. Black railings opposite me glinted on one side with moonlight. I heard the loud clack of heels on the cobbles, and heard them fade away, a peal of laughter echoing around the silent walls.

I stood there for so long that I couldn’t feel my feet anymore, so I meandered back to bed. I could smell him on my pillow. I buried my head into his scent.

That October was the coldest we’d ever had.

The next day was the first of November, and I woke up to mist clinging, clammy, to my windows. I wore my woolly socks under my boots to university, and walked all funny. Every French accent had my head turning sharply. A shock of black hair on a tall boy, and I stared intently until they turned their head to reveal a face so different from his that a lump rose in my throat.

Maria,

You were the sweetest. Always thinking of you.

Tristan