Footprints in the Sand

This short piece of fiction is part of a challenge put together by fellow blogger Frank from AFrankAngle – Check his post out!

On Footprints in the Sand.

Here is mine.

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Footprints in the Sand

The sun rose slowly in the horizon, its rays gradually strengthening to the music of waves crashing on the shore. Loud, then soft, then loud again, as the tide pulled the frothy waters away from the ascending sand-dunes, only for it to come scrambling back up again, reaching foamy fingers higher up the dunes each time.

The beach was empty, save for a few gulls calling dismally as their soft bodies were buffeted by the winds high in the sky.

The remains of yesterday were completely wiped away by the tides. It was fresh and new as though someone had washed the world and removed all human traces from the sand. No sandcastles, no left-behind toys, and all conversations that wafted on the gentle sea breeze had long been snatched away, sailing far over the seas to distant lands.

No, the beach was fresh this morning. Ready for a new horde of laughter and life. Lively in anticipation, bringing rose-tinted blue skies and soft, pillowy clouds scudding across as though in a hurry to be gone before the sun had completely reclaimed her power.

The beach was empty, for now, in these blissful early morning hours. The beach was empty, and restful, yet oddly restless.

The beach was empty, and yet a set of footprints made their way solidly across the dry sand just inches away from the water, pattering, forming, collapsing in on themselves all along the beach line and into the brightness in the distance, and there was nobody there to make the mark.

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Love Letters #22

Dear Pip,

Penelope.

Penny.

Pip, I have known you for approximately six years. And forty seven days. And three and a half hours (at the time of writing this).

We met the day I met with my fate. My fate was you, of course. Didn’t you know?

We were both looking at the same teapot. It was yellow and had blue spots on and I remember thinking you had to be a certain kind of person with a certain kind of taste to like such a teapot because let me tell you, it was hideous.

But there was only one of them left and you said, ‘Oh, you have it.’

And I said, ‘Please, no, you have it.’ Because I didn’t even want it in the first place.

And you said, ‘Oh, no, I was only looking. You have it.’

And I said, ‘I wouldn’t be a gentleman if I took it when a young lady has her eye on it. It would be daylight robbery.’

And you snorted and said, ‘Well how about we halfsies it and then share it.’

‘What, like, monthly swaps?’ I asked, ‘or shall we cut it in half?’

‘Sure.’ You were nonchalant. Casual. You even shrugged and that is when I noticed the apple green jacket you are wearing. It was hideous also. (Please don’t hate me. We have discussed the ways colours are worn. And apple green blazers were out of the question. I even made a graph. Please see attached piece of paper for reference.)

‘Well,’ I said very carefully, ‘that then means, of course, that we shall have to swap details.’

‘Let’s buy this thing.’ You picked it up gently and as I reached into my pocket to take out my wallet my elbow jerked yours and it slipped out of your hands and fell down, down down onto the brightly polished John Lewis floors.

We both stared at it.

‘Ah well,’ you said, ‘I was only looking at it because I was curious about something so ugly. Good riddance, I say! I’m Pip. What’s your name?’

I stared at you in pleasant surprise and I felt my lips stretching out my face of their own accord.

‘James.’ I said, and then, ‘let us look for more ugly teapots.’

Of course we had to pay for that ugly yellow polka dot tea pot. It was atrocious. And then for your birthday present a year later I got you a similar teapot which you use for your indoor geraniums. It was from John Lewis and you killed yourself laughing at it and told me I was a money waster because there was no way you would use that for anybody. It could never grace your table.

I remember asking you all wounded, like, ‘What, not even for the reason that it was graced by my hands?’ I was also slightly flirting even though we were firm friends by then, but I could not resist. I can never resist you, Pip.

‘Nope.’ You were very firm.

I am writing to tell you that I want to marry you. I can’t say it to your face because you have beautiful eyes and I know exactly how they will look at me and I will not be able to help myself because I will kiss you and then I will be done for. I know you will be impatient with that and tell me that is nonsense and of course I can help myself but I will not want to. Help myself. At all.

Also I asked my aunt if she read those French books I gave her and she said yes, they were lovely books. You were right. She didn’t read them. Else she would have called me to lecture me horrendously about them. Lovely books indeed. She asks about you a lot and tells me I should marry you quicktimes before you grow too old to have kids.

So back to my fate. You are my fate either way. If you say yes then it will have been a good fate and if you say no I will be broken hearted forever and when I do eventually heal and marry somebody for realsies I will still remember you as the first ever woman who broke my heart.

You know love is a strange thing. So strange. I used to think I loved a woman before. I was seventeen. She wasn’t particularly beautiful but I was infatuated by her and loved her to pieces but she always treated me badly. And one day she went too far and I discovered she was sleeping with a right old tramp of a fellow, but I forgave her. Well I told her I did but I don’t think I really did. Something inside of me snapped that day. She walked on me one too many times. And three miserable months of forced smiles and fake kisses later I met you and the day afterwards she wanted to see me and I called her and I said, ‘I can’t. I can’t do this anymore.’

And when I was with her I thought there could never be anyone else because she was my first love. But it was meagre and ridiculous and pathetic and also desperate. Compared to what I feel about you. I am crazy about you. I look at you and I see my future. And I want to spend all my time with you and walk home from work with you and call you every single day but I stop myself because I don’t want you to get sick of me. I also want to kiss your forehead. It is so gentle and smooth and beautiful.

But see, if we were married I could call you everyday and it wouldn’t be weird, right? I could also kiss your forehead and it would be comfortable.

So, what do you say, Pip?

Yours sincerely and faithfully and truly (scrumptious),

Jim

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A lil Something

I wish

That one day

I can have peace

Of mind

and heart

Also,

A private room

to live in

and to do my washing

Without having to wake up at 5am to do it

And to kiss my husband

As passionately as I like

without worrying about a knock on the door

Cuz PDA is gross

Also

To sleep during the day

Without worrying

about in-laws

thinking I am lazy.

I am not.

I swear.

I am constantly working.

On the move.

That is why

I

am so

tired.

All the time.

 

4 hours sleep,

kind of tired.

 

Love Letters #23

All the odd things started to happen when Damon Ludwig moved in next door. Things at home had withered away into stagnancy. Nobody celebrated birthdays properly anymore, and Father was constantly in his study or making important phone calls. So when the Ludwigs moved in, and there was all that commotion outside, Laura darted out of her cold and empty house to investigate.

Everything was a façade. Their smiles were a façade, every time they opened the door to greet the outside world. Their speech was a façade, in its bizarre normality.

‘Pass the butter.’

‘Did you finish your homework, Tristan?’

‘Laura, let the cats out please. They’re doing my head in.’

‘Father says to please shut up, he’s trying to work.’

Such normal sentences, Laura thought to herself, in such an abnormal situation. Does life dissolve into normalcy after an integral piece of it has been painfully removed? And yet she carried on buttering her toast, and everybody else around the table carried on getting on with their days. What else would they do, though, really?

‘I don’t have a mother,’ was the first thing Laura said, the moment she clapped eyes on Damon. She sat calmly on the low stone wall that separated their front gardens. He stumbled up the front garden path to his front door, sweating under the weight of a massive crate, red-faced, only just noticing the small child with the wild chestnut curls and distinct little voice.

‘You what?’ he blew through his teeth, and dropped the crate onto the porch with a loud thump.

‘I don’t have a mother,’ she repeated, then offered to help him with the crate.

‘Nah, you’re alright.’  He waved her off, then bent to push it forward over the wooden floorboards of the porch until it was just inside the front door.

‘So what this about your mum then?’ he said, seating himself next to Lemara outside, as they both watched the moving men carrying in a grandfather clock between them.

‘She’s dead.’ Laura said, matter of factly.

‘Do you always introduce yourself by talking about your dead mother?’ Damon asked bluntly. Then he held out a brown paw, his fingers were dirty and dotted with tiny scabs and scratches.

‘Damon Ludwig.’ He said. She shook his hand.

‘Laura,’ said Laura, ‘I’m ten.’

‘Well hullo Laura who’s ten.’ Damon laughed, jumping off the wall and walking down to the lorry, where a man who looked very like him was emerging with a cardboard box.

‘Sorry about your mother,’ he threw over his shoulder. The sun threw dappled rays over Damon’s shock of black hair; he was wild and brown, an exclamation mark of a human. Laura watched him darting in and out of the lorry, lugging things to and fro, leaping down the porch steps and cartwheeling back to the lorry to get more things. She wanted to get up and dance around too. But she sat quietly and watched them slowly turn the empty house next door into a home. Men came in and out, carrying chests and mattresses and rugs. Curtains went up in the empty windows as the sun sunk lower and lower in the horizon, a great big orange orb, its edges wavy as it hung between the hills in the distance. Warm golden lights lit up the house next door one by one, a golden palace next to the drab darkness looming up behind Laura’s back. A cold breeze made the roses Mother planted in their front garden nod at her, as though they were telling her to go indoors. She wasn’t ready yet, to go indoors.

         Everybody cried at the funeral. Alex with her black dress that was too tight around her blooming chest, her arms halfway out of the full length sleeves. Laura secretly thought she looked stupid, but so pathetically stupid with her puffed up face and tear stained cheeks that she felt sorry for her. Tristan blond curls had been attacked with a wet comb, by Aunty Nora no doubt, and he sat demurely in a corner in his little black suit, sniffling over a sausage roll, his fat cheeks soaked with tears. George stood with Father by the door, almost as tall as Father now, hugging people and nodding sadly at their quiet condolences, his eyes wet and desperate. He was looking into their faces as though they would resurrect her with their sympathy. Laura knew better. What did they know, any of them? What did they know about the gaping hole in her chest that she tried to fill with pastries and devilled eggs. They hugged her and told her she was a poor thing to lose her mother at only eight years old. She ate and ate and ate until she felt quite ill, then fell asleep in a corner, her hole still as wide as before, a gaping abyss in her chest. And not once did she cry.

The first odd thing that happened, of course, was that Laura stopped growing. It didn’t happen right away, though. The Ludwigs settled in first. Damon and Mr Ludwig built a shed at the bottom of the back garden for Damon’s workshop. He made the beautiful wooden patio rocking chair that Mrs Ludwig put outside her back garden French windows. Mrs Ludwig called it her ‘forty winks chair’, and brought it inside when it rained. It sat in her warm and cosy kitchen throughout winter, and Laura spent many an evening in it as she watched Mrs Ludwig potter about her kitchen preparing dinner for her family. She never stayed for dinner when they asked her, though. She always said,

‘No thank you, Mrs Ludwig. George will be looking out for me.’

That was a lie, though. George stopped looking out for her a long time ago. Sometimes Alex would look out for her and give her a scolding for staying at the Ludwigs’ for too long. She would shove her down at the table and dump a cold plate of something congealed on the table in front of her. George, however, was generally nowhere to be seen. Mind you, he was working double shifts at the shoelace factory in the next town. He had to catch early buses, and generally left the house while it was still dark and everybody was fast asleep. He returned home long after sunset, and quite often missed his bus and had to catch a cab home. He started smelling of cigarettes and sweat, and on his late-missed-the-last-bus days Laura steered well clear of him because his mood was appallingly sour.

Extract from the book I am writing. 

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The Phenomenal Girl

I think I will start by describing someone to you and see whether or not you find any significance to this person. I sit here, under the baby oak trees, the wind ruffling my lanky hair. (You’re probably wondering why I am describing the setting. Well, it is just that Master Jeffries, my English teacher who may well be reading this right now and swearing to high heaven, has always told me to add in a setting to accompany my description, as it adds orientation to the piece of writing, and I aim to have a very orientated piece of writing.)

As I watch the gulls squeal high above me, I see her walking past.

She carries a brown leather satchel that is slightly faded, and her long golden braids are decked as though for conquest, with coloured strings of exotic varieties of colour, ranging from the deepest opal to the strongest indigo, all weaved intricately through those long plats as they swing down her back and over her shoulders. A few wisps of escaped hair frame her heart-shaped face, where the brightest pair of striking eyes scan the path before her, and its borders, as she carries gracefully on. Her shoes, I notice, are of a turquoise tint, braided at those edges which touch the skin of her foot with exotic-looking beads. She looks like nobody I have ever seen, and yet I set eyes on her everyday at this very spot. You might think that it is a very cheesy thing for me to say, that I have never seen anything like her, because, logically, I have. Since I told you I set eyes on her every day, and have done for the past two years. It’s like I am contradicting myself, if you look at it in a logical manner. However, that is not so. I will deign to explain.

You see, everyday she looks entirely different. Some days, she will come with hair so short she could pass for a boy, if it weren’t for her pretty heart-shaped face. Other days she would come with skin so dark she could pass for a person from Africa or Australia. Some days her nose would be hooked, other days it would be snubbed, but mostly it would be straight and true, and I knew that was her original nose. I lived for the days when she was an original, with her natural colour skin, which was peachy beige, with a tint of rose, and her natural colour hair, which was a sandy colour which glinted like finely spun gold in the sunlight. How, you ask, do I know it is the same person if she appears completely different each day? The answer is actually surprisingly simple.

You can always recognise someone if you notice them enough, if you watch them every day. You recognise the way they take their steps, their little mannerisms and habits, the way they pass, glance at things, the inclinations of their heads and their gait. Most of all, though, it is their eyes. You can always tell someone by their eyes; they are windows into your being, existence, soul. I know the previous sentence might be a cliché, but some cliché’s are worth repeating, such truth do they hold. Her glittering, vivid, bright greeny-grey eyes are unmistakable, and she can never change them. I suppose, if you had a technical mind and really considered it, she might be able to change the colour of her eyes, by wearing contact lenses or something of the sort, or get them dyed (I heard the other day that that was possible to do), but she never did. I’m not sure why, but I cannot say it disappointed me in the least that she did not. It made me appreciate this strangeness even more, and observe it with much more care and attention, wondering at the oddity and sometimes utter impossibility of her daily change in appearance. Yes, impossible.

How did one go about changing their skin colour in such a way? How did they manage to pass the same spot, each 24-hour interval, with differing lengths of hair, differing colours and differing textures? How did they manage to go from a shorn-off look to long flowing locks the very next day? This, dear reader, is what I would consider and mull over daily, waiting for this apparition of absolute brilliance to pass by me each day, as I sat on my insignificant bench. She passed by me each day, but she never seemed to notice me or acknowledge my presence. Sometimes her startling gaze would pass over me, vague and unseeing. Blank, glassy. I knew I could never mean anything to that. Nor did I wish to mean anything to that. I, and forgive me, although I haven’t got the faintest clue why I am asking for this forgiveness, saw her as food for thought. I wondered why one human wanted to look different every single day, what ulterior motive that human might have. I wondered whether that human enjoyed what appeared to be a such tedious task, what must be going on in that human’s head, what must that human’s daily life consist of.

I present to you, dear reader, the Phenomenal Girl.

 

The above is as narrated by Twig Blackadder.

Love Letters #21

We are observing a couple of people through a slightly glazed window. They are dancing figures at first, so small, moving all over the panes. They chase each other here and prance along there. Sometimes they hold hands and others they drift apart, but their limbs always head back towards each other.

The glaze is clearing and the figures are growing larger and larger until we are breaking through the glass and suddenly they are as large as life. He is smiling at her, his pale eyes behind black rimmed glasses and his hair brushed back. His hands are deep in the pockets of his blazer, which he is wearing over a maroon T-shirt and he looks like a filmmaker, but his smile is so real it threatens to crack his face in half. She is beautiful but not in the way beauty is generally described. Her beauty is in the words that tumble from her mouth at top speed and the way that her hands swirl all the air around her.

They are on the train now and his head is in his arms, the golden rays travelling across his arms over and over again, broken by lines of shadow from the window dividers, and her eyes are watching the way the hairs on his arms seem to catch fire in that sunlight. His glasses are loosely held in his half open hand.

They are walking on a red carpet now and she is dressed in a pale pink dress that glitters with each step she takes, and her curly red hair is bunched up at the back of her head and a few strands are dangling by her face, her eyes are sparkling as he signs autographs and poses grinning for cell phone pictures. He leans his head towards hers and murmurs something and her laugh turns heads.

They are in a garden now and there are fairy lights glittering and flashing everywhere, and people milling around and they are standing in front of the doors as he shows her a magic trick with some cards. He deftly shuffles and then pulls one out of his mouth, neatly unfolds it to reveal her signature and her eyes widen, her hands flying to her mouth. She throws her head back and laughs freely, clapping her hands loudly so a group of people begin shuffling closer to see what all the gusto is about and he begins to demonstrate a trick for them all, as she sidles away, glancing back at him as she pushes the door open and enters the house.

Dancing closer, dancing further, darting in and out of the frame, getting smaller in the distance. Sometimes there is only one dancer, arms spread mournfully, fingers fanning the air, and sometimes they both drift away, so far they are tiny black specks in an array of colour. Sometimes they are so close all their pores are on show, a flash of hair here and a green glint in an eye.

Ever dancing in this ever-changing frame we call life.

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Every Last Drop

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Loch Ness

Maybe we can pause the world and escape to a little cubby hole. Maybe we don’t even need to pause it. Maybe it can carry on without us but we would be content because we are not needed or required to help turn its magnificent cogs.

I suppose we don’t really need to turn its magnificent cogs. I suppose if we didn’t, the world would carry on as usual, and it would be exactly the same. But our little nooks would slowly vaporise away and we would be mere wisps on the fringe of it all struggling to find a parting in the heavy, stampeding traffic that is trundling along.

And it would be very hard to get back in.

And everything we worked for would be gone. Snap. Crick crack. Like a click. Or a tock.

That is why we need a holiday. To refresh and recharge our tired little arms, to carry on turning our very own special cogs.

Mine included driving all around this Island I call home. From the south to the topmost North. I only have four days left before I have to set the record player again and fall back into the stressful mess that is my real life.

The worry, the anxiety, the terrible marriage situation where the in-laws and commuting to work suck all the life out of my husband so all I get is an empty moody shell, the awful living situation, the nomad-like bouncing from house to house everyday, the exhaustion, the feeling of not finishing half what I set out to do by the end of the day because I do not have any private space for my work – aaaah!

I don’t want this peace to end. I really, really don’t want this peace to end. I could cry because I so desperately hate it back at ‘home’. But it will end.

And so.

For now.

I will find the Loch Ness monster (that’s Nessie, apparently), I will enjoy the scenic beauty of mountains and water and views and bagpipes for the last four days and squeeze out

every

last

little

drop.

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Loch Ness as we saw it

 

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Edinburgh from up top 🙂

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York – this man was blowing bubbles in return for a small donation to sponsor his trip to Japan!

All images are credited to my husband – he takes the good ones. 🙂

Love Letters #19

She was laid up in bed when I went in to see her, ducking my head under the low beam arching her doorway.

She was dressed in the largest nightgown you ever saw – she had completely vanished beneath it. And her face under the fringe of thick, ropy curls was pale.

‘I’ve got a broken heart,’ she said softly, looking up at me with her large, dark blue eyes. So dark they could be black.

‘Well, now.’ I told her, standing a little back so I could get a more complete picture, ‘Is that so?’

‘Yes it is so.’ she folded her arms like she expected to be in this for the long run.

I put my notepad away, and folded my stethoscope. I then sat on the chair next to her bed.

‘Well, then. What’s this about?’

She looked at me for a long time, her eyes piercing me. Then she smoothed the covers before her with small fingers, and took a deep breath.

‘Nobody believes me at all’ she said, ‘everybody thinks I am exaggerating. But I am not. I really, really do have a broken heart.’

She clutched her chest, and I saw in her frightened little face that she genuinely believed it.

‘And why is your heart broken, my dear?’

The tears filled her eyes almost immediately. She picked at the embroidery on her bedclothes, and her mouth trembled.

‘I – I don’t..’

She stopped, and the tears leaked from beneath her drooped lids. She wiped them furiously away.

I sat solemn and still, waiting for her to finish.

‘They said,’ her shoulders heaved, ‘they said they took her to the hospital because she was feeling poorly, but then,’ a tragic sob escaped her, ‘they said – they said – they say-aii-dd..’

She couldn’t stop her tears. I could see her small fists bunching up the bedsheets, and her hair, straw coloured, obscured her wet face.

‘What did they say?’

‘They said she went on holidday-aay-ayyyy’ her voice rose to a wail, and her face was turned up to the ceiling, and the pain on her face made me feel, for the first time, a stab of pity for the poor little thing.

‘Ah,’ I sat a little straighter on my seat, ‘and why does this break your heart, my child?’

She looked incredulously at me, wiping her eyes, glaring.

‘They won’t listen to me, Mister Doctor. They say I am being silly, and that Lucy went on holiday because she was getting old now and needed to relax.’

‘Well perhaps that is exactly what she did do.’ I said, raising my eyebrows a little.

‘She didn’t, Mister Doctor. That is utter – utter poppycock.’ She was firm and resolute.

‘Oh?’

‘She — she died, is what she did, Mister. She died, and my heart is broken, and nobody thought nicely that they could tell me about it. And my Lucy is gone, and I didn’t – even – get to say goodby-yy-yye.’

I looked at the five year old child for a long, long time.

‘You are a very astute little person,’ I said, finally.

‘I think,’ I said, carefully, ‘I think you are right. You do have a broken heart. We must find a way to fix it as soon as possible.’

She pointed at my folded stethoscope, ‘Aren’t you going to use that?’

‘Not for this, I’m afraid. I think a broken heart needs quite a different fix.’ I stood up, ‘It needs first for you to get your little feet out of bed.’

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Are You Interesting?

“Jack of all trades, master of none”

Or in my case, ‘Jane of all trades, mistress of none”

Because I am not.

Interesting, that is. I think it comes from having a despicably short attention span, brought on, no doubt, by an addiction to social media.

I am good at many things, but have not mastered one thing in particular. Although at this moment in time, writing seems to be the only consistent thing in my life. I do love to write. I also love to read.

I just don’t love to learn new and interesting things in a dogged manner, thus rendering me acquainted with a great many topics, just not knowledgeable about any of them.

“Oh, have you heard about so-and-so?”

“Yes.  I read about him.”

“Oh really? Tell me more!”

“Um, I’ve only heard about him, to be honest.”

Because I didn’t bother to read anything more about the topic even though it interested me and would have probably made a great conversation. Same thing with a great many other topics and ideas. I don’t follow through and see it to the end. Because I am lazy and like to hipetty hop from one topic to another in an erratic manner.

For example, halfway through writing this post, even though I was on a roll, I opened a new tab to check YouTube. I really didn’t need to, but I just did, and I forgot what else I wanted to say. I keep doing this, and all my work is lacking in concentration and focus as a result. This is also the same for my conversations and human interactions. I am terrible at it, and think I am terribly un-interesting.

Anyway – the feeling of being boring makes me feel terribly insecure. Which is a vicious cycle because when you feel insecure you are not your usual happy, chirpy self and you become an awkward wallflower, fading away into the background and feeling upset that nobody wants to talk to you.

Alternatively, you try too hard – and that flops too.

Feeling insecure stops a person from achieving their full potential.

I know who I am, but sometimes I can be maliciously insecure. That is, insecurity has a malevolent hold on me. It catches in my throat and turns my attention away from life and liveliness and makes me cloudy and moody and complainy.

So I have learnt that I need to ignore my insecurity and focus really hard on finding that place inside me where I am happy and carefree. When I have found that place, my true self flows out and it quite often surprises me.

You see, you have to be less self conscious – and also less self aware. Don’t fret, my dear. Smile even though you hate your teeth, throw your head back and laugh genuinely – show that mouth to the world. Don’t edit your laughter, it sounds forced. Relax. Breathe. Enjoy the sun and the rain and look for the silver linings in everything.

If something displeases you, ignore it, and find the pleasing factor inside it. Everything has a pleasing factor.

Alternatively, play the glad game. That is a good game to play. Let us hail Pollyanna, and make life a happier place. There.

Good day.

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Fake It Till You Make It.

Marriage is hard, folks.

Very hard indeed.

I have reached a hard rocky point, where insecurity and instability are at its peak, and it just looks so bleak. And it is very confusing to navigate, and how does one make the other understand, and how does the other understand one, and how does one love the other like before, whilst being so deeply frustrated and saddened by one.

Men are strange creatures, that is what.

And women are fools to their emotions and fantasies.

Marriage is not a dream boat. I think we all know that.

I am just trying to navigate these treacherous waters.

We all want to be happy in the end, I suppose.

Right now I am supposed to be gloriously happy but I am severely miserable. But I am going to fake my happiness until it comes to me of its own accord, because sometimes in life you have to smile your tears away and learn how to be savvy – in order to save your sanity and hold your relationship together.

But oh, it is hard. So so hard. I have to hug and kiss when my insides are furious and hurt and sad – but I have to because I love this frustrating man so much. I just need to figure out a way to deal with all of this insecurity.

How on EARTH does my mother do it?! Kudos to that emotionally strong woman, that’s what. I am realising now things I could never have envisioned before.