Monthly Archives: January 2016

FF – In haste…

Picture from ceayr. Extroduction follows but is entirely optional. Either way, your comments and critique, as ever, are welcome.

chateau-de-sable-ceayr

Three weeks in, Gerald proposed. “Why wait?” he said, “You’re the one for me.”

When Lea told her family, mostly nobody objected. “She’ll do it anyway,” she heard Mum whisper to Dad that night. “We’ll only push her away if we say anything.”

“He’s a nice boy and she seems happy,” Dad replied. “Why wait, I suppose.”

She took Gerald with her to the nursing home.

“He’s easily confused,” she warned. “He might muddle up who we are.”

But that day Grandpa was clear as a bell. “Why hurry?” he said, gently. “In my day, you built foundations before walls.”

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Extroduction

In haste is the title of this post as well as the story. As ever, I seem to be limited for time today. This story is exactly100 words, but otherwise didn’t get the level of polish I’d like. Here are a couple of thoughts. Feel free to read and answer them if you wish. Or not.

I don’t really like the name Gerald for this character. It feels a bit old-fashioned next to Lea and I’m wondering if that might distract a reader.

I had a version of this story told later, and making clear whether lea took the advice and how she felt about it later. However, I quite like the symmetry of Gerald and grandpa’s comments framing the story, so I decided to leave the results to your imagination.

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A personal interlude…

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I used to blog a lot about language and grammar. I haven’t had much chance recently, but I am making time today for a one-off linguistic musing. Before one has kids, words mean different things from after.

I have been tired before. I worked hard as a lawyer, with a long commute that meant I was out of the house at 7.15am and not home to even start preparing dinner until 7.30pm, even if I left work on time. At university, I got 5 hours’ sleep at most, swam every morning before lectures and put in a long shift of backstage theatre in the afternoon and evening, as well as research and essays and a fair bit of socialising. When I had the pulmonary embolisms, my body was exhausted by pain, drugs and lack of oxygen; in the early days I could hardly walk downstairs without stopping to rest. But there is no tiredness like the exhaustion of night after night of broken sleep with the baby interspersed by day after day of hard parenting with the preschooler. There is no feeling like standing up to put the baby down and stumbling, because your foot has gone to sleep, and the world is spinning, because the rest of you hasn’t.

I’ve been frustrated before. I’ve missed out on things I thought I deserved and been crapped on when I thought I needed a break, but there is nothing so relentless as parenting. Just trying to get a toddler / preschooler to sleep, when he is old enough to avoid it but not old enough not to want to is worth a lifetime of other frustrations. I want not to mind. I want to believe ‘it doesn’t matter’ if he doesn’t sleep, because there’s very little I can do to make him. But then he misses a nap and is cranky and annoying and so stressed and I just want to stop him and have him understand when I say “You would feel so much better if you would just sleep at naptime”. I want to wrap him in a hug and chuck him out of the window all at once and I know that neither is the ‘right’ thing to do, but I don’t know what is the ‘right’ thing to do either.

I used to know what parenting was. I knew I hadn’t a clue how to go about it, but I could nevertheless have probably given you a description of it that wasn’t “The constant battle to stop the world hurting them or them hurting the world” or “Never knowing the right thing to do”. I’m not a worrier by nature, but I am a mother and whilst it may be evolutionarily advantageous to be able to envisage every possible danger they could come upon in our “child-proofed” living room, it’s not good for the sanity.

But most of all, I knew about love. I ‘loved’ my parents, my family, my friends and of course my husband. I was utterly besotted by (and completely paranoid about) my two cats. A dear friend said to me once, “Before you have a baby, [the cat] is your baby; after you have children, [the cat] is just [a cat].”

There are two boys upstairs (let’s not discuss whether either of them is asleep) who have taught me more about the meaning of words than 30 years and many English teachers managed before they came along. Just the sound of one of them breathing, or rolling over in bed, is enough to make me smile or bring tears to my eyes (sometimes they are tears of frustration because it means little Mr Nap Resister is not asleep, and yes, they are probably closer to the surface because I’m tired) or to make my heart beat a little faster and more warmly.

And what’s truly magical is that, yes, the cats are now just cats (except when my husband leaves the door open and they wander out into the snow), but love isn’t finite. Dominic’s arrival hasn’t reduced the feelings I have for Sebastian; loving them through a mother’s eyes has enhanced the way I feel about my own mother and about all the other mothers I know and love; co-parenting has changed my relationship with my husband, but sharing him and my attention hasn’t diluted the emotional connection between us. I love these two little boys more than I have ever loved anyone before, but the love I have ‘left over’ is more than I had before too.

Motherhood changes everything. I knew that. But I never realised ‘everything’ included the dictionary. IMG_9116sIMG00256-20151224-1708s

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FF – The Lane

Still trying to catch up with last week’s FF, but somehow it’s Wednesday again. I am beginning to think I should back off Friday Fiction (and indeed blogging) for a bit, but it’s the healthiest addiction I can find, and I’m worried once I stop I would find it hard to start again. Thank you for bearing with me while I struggle to reply to comments (I promise I still read and appreciate them all) and to read many other stories.

This week’s picture is from Amy Reese. I wanted to do something novel with it, but I’m not sure I managed that. I hope you enjoy my story anyway.

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The Lane

The lane at the back of the school wasn’t new, Lauren knew that. People had been walking dogs and sharing needles, bottles or bodily fluids here for decades, centuries even. Lauren herself had walked down it hundreds of times before. It was the quickest way from Mrs McCormac’s French class to McDonalds’ French fries last year, and it was where she’d tried her first cigarette.

But now she couldn’t get there. Every step closer was a mile, with leaden legs, through treacle thoughts.
The lane was still just a lane, but Lauren was no longer just a girl.

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FF – The Thirty-Five Steps

Happy New Year to you, dear Readers. I must apologise for my absence over the ‘holidays’; it was a lovely couple of weeks with my little family, but didn’t afford much chance for writing and posting.

Melanie Greenwood‘s picture is our first prompt of the year, and Rochelle leads us all into 2016. I hope it’s a good one all round. I won’t be joining the concirt subgroup this week as I can’t guarantee time to offer to others, but I do welcome your feedback, good and bad, on my story.

melanie-greenwood

The Thirty-Five Steps

Thirty-five yards, he estimated, and he’d be at the base of the staircase. Thirty-five steps, give or take, between him and freedom.
Because once he was on that plane, they wouldn’t follow: he was sure of that. Nobody cares about the little guy, not once he’s in the wind. Literally and metaphorically, he caught himself smiling, pulled down the corners of his mouth and the peak of his cap simultaneously.
Thirty-four, thirty-three … and finally one. He could almost reach out and touch the glistening handrail. An impulse made him stop, turn and look back, but only for a moment.

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