FF … or not

Sebastian turns four tomorrow, so I’ve got cakes to bake and gifts to wrap … and slime to mix (Don’t ask!). My Mum’s visiting, which is fantastic, but of course I had an ambitious idea of all the stuff we can do with her help, like making a papier mache cave for one of his presents.

And then it’s the beginning of November, so obviously I’m recovering from a cold, have a chest infection and laryngitis. Everyone’s helping out, but I’m on an enforced rest programme.

So, I’m taking a pause from a few things, including the pleasures of Friday Fiction. See you again soon!

 

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FF – Story Seeking Title

Today’s post is another heavy one, and once again about motherhood. Maybe it says something about the mood I’m in at the moment (although this story is not specifically autobiographical), maybe it’s just the bleakness I got from Peter Abbey‘s fantastic photograph below. Either way, I couldn’t think of a title, so feel free to wade in on that, or the story itself.

peter-abbey11

Lisa rocked backward and forward, like a silent pendulum of motherhood. Ethan whimpered occasionally, his tiny fingers rhythmically scraping the tender skin of her other breast. Pain, loneliness and darkness seemed each to magnify the others into an eternity of agony, emptiness and night.

She could faintly hear another world, where her husband and parents breathed and showered and laughed.

Tears moistened Ethan’s hair. She daren’t move, so they fell freely.

When he finally dropped sleeping from her breast, she stood and touched her wet face to his. “I love you,” she mouthed as she laid him into his crib.

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FF – Mementoes

I’ll save my introduction for after the story, lest it count as a spoiler. Here, I will just say thank you to Rochelle for hosting, Claire Fuller for the photograph, and all the Fictioneers for cutting me a bit of slack at the moment, when I am struggling to read more than one or two submissions each week. My story (and then the intro) follows, and your comments and feedback are always gratefully received.

claire-fuller-8-1

Mementoes

Ella bought her first display cabinet when she was thirty-four. She’d never really been a collector; knickknacks always seemed like an expensive way to fill a house with nothing.

She chose a wooden, rugged-looking one, because Peter would have liked it. Pirate treasure wouldn’t have felt odd there. His treasures – hers now – fitted too: a piece of coral, seven rocks, a couple of dried leaves and a coin among the favourites. And then, in the final spot, the too-small urn where Peter himself could count them all forever. Her little Peter Pan, who would never grow out of boyish things.

 

Extroduction

I’ve touched on this subject before, but this week is Pregnancy and Infant Loss awareness week, and while Peter in the story is a little older than that technically includes, the grief his mother feels is certainly in the same camp.

I know all about boyish collections – our front window ledge and porch are cluttered with just the sorts of things Peter has left for his mother, and soon I will have a second little collector on my hands. What I can only imagine (and frankly, try not to), is the grief of a mother who has lost her child. The origins of Peter Pan, it has been suggested, are in just this sort of loss, and certainly when I read about a little boy who never grew up, the childish fantasy is edged with the adult fear. There is only one way to avoid aging, and very few of us would choose it for ourselves or our children.

I am thinking and feeling today for the Lost Boys (and Girls), and for the parents they left behind. I know this includes some of the Friday Fictioneers – my heart goes out to you all.

 

 

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Remembering Catherine

Ten years ago, my best friend called me at work to share the news that our mutual friend, Catherine, had died. Catherine was suffering from depression and ultimately it killed her: she killed herself.

This month, in commemoration of her life and our loss, a group of Catherine’s University friends are making an effort of collectively walking 250 miles – roughly the distance from her home town of Bootle to our university town of Cambridge. You can track our progress and read more about the project here. I appreciate many of you sponsored me for a walk last month, but to contribute to the cause for which we are walking, you can sponsor us in aid of mental health charity the MindEd Trust if you wish

It’s a great cause, but my main reason for walking is more selfish. Walking is proven to be good for the mental and physical health, so walking is good for us as well as being good for the cause.

I’m a goal-oriented individual, so I’m naturally inclined to check off as many miles as I can, but with little feet and little brains walking alongside, that’s rarely the way it happens.

Two weekends ago, I went with the family for a long walk in the forest. We enjoyed the changing North American trees, and a low-pressure couple of hours together looking for pine cones and pretty leaf colours. Then I went back to move the car, and walked for a while alone. It was a very different experience; freer and faster, but less social.

Then last weekend, we went again. And this time, one of the youngest members of the sponsored group got his first taste of forest walking. Dominic, who only started walking at all 10 days ago, did 100 steps or so of the 2 miles total. Again, we’d have been quicker and gone further if he’d stayed on Daddy’s back, but while those few metres add nothing to the group’s total, they are some of the most special to me, along with the times we stopped to show Sebastian the difference between evergreen and deciduous trees, or took detours to hunt crickets off the main path.

For the group, this walk is about an old friend, but it is also about mental health – both that of strangers and our own. Sebastian’s been walking for almost 3 years, Dominic for less than three weeks – they are both the strongest and best reasons I can think of for walking a little less far, and getting a whole lot more out of it as a result.

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FF Rerun – Spirit Lamps

An unexpected gift from Rochelle this week, in the form of a rerun. This story includes one of my favourite characters, so I’m very happy to take a week off and bring her back to you.

https://elmowrites.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/friday-fictioneers-spirit-lamps/

 

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FF – Purple Heart

Thanks to Ceayr for this week’s photo, below. I’m rushing this online before running out the door, but your feedback is always welcome.

ceayr

Purple Heart

Lea had never liked the mirrors in the bathroom before. Their angle made endless, shrinking reflections in her peripheral vision as she teased out what the whole family called her mane. Knots, tangles and flyaways repeating over and over into infinity.
Today she’d worn it down all day, much to Mum’s dismay. It looked dreadful, she knew that, but then she always thought it looked dreadful and now it hid something worse – the purple ring on her neck. Heart-shaped almost. Nobody better see that. And Greg Luto better never do it again. At least not somewhere so damn visible.

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FF -Tidy Mind

Today’s impressive photo from Amy Reese put me in mind of a few things – the line from My Own Private Idaho about “I’ve been tasting roads my whole life…”; that bit in Scandal with Huck; and lastly the massive amount of storage we now use in the West. I’ve read some incredible stats about just how much space and money we dedicate to things we no longer want in our homes but can’t bring ourselves to get rid of. I’m minimalising at home right now, and the purge feels good even though the decisions aren’t always easy.

Ultimately, my story isn’t exactly about any of these things. I hope it makes sense – it was one of those that would have appreciated 200 words, but hopefully still works as it is. Your thoughts are very welcome.

from-amy-reese

Tidy mind

Alice leaned on the box and taped it closed. Packing was always such a release. Tidy house, tidy mind, as Jack would say.
Steve arrived from Big Yellow and put it in his pick-up. “Alright, Mrs A?”
She smiled and waved. He was a nice boy was Steve; always polite. Make a nice husband for her daughter, she thought, if the girl would just smile.

“Where’s the cutlery gone, Mum?” Sarah asked that evening. “And my plates?”
“I’m decluttering,” said Alice, emerging from Sarah’s bedroom with a heavy bag. “You don’t want all this stuff kicking around when I’m gone.”

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