Tag Archives: Melanie

FF – Waiting

No rerun for me this week; if you went back to Rochelle’s original post, you’ll know why. Five days into motherhood, apparently I didn’t put writing first ;). Three and a half years on, it’s still a challenge to fit in a weekly burst of writing, but sometimes we need to rise to challenges…

Kent Bonham recommended the rerun; the picture is Rochelle‘s own.

ice-on-the-window

Waiting

Mrs Mwanna says he won’t bring Mummy home in this. She says it loads, like each time she looks out, the sun will be shining, the ice will have gone and the car will have pulled in.

She looks more often than I do, but they don’t come.

It’s too cold to take Mummy outside. She’s too frail to walk and it’s too slippery for the wheelchair. Too far for me to visit. Too early for us to phone.

We hold hands and watch through the frost for the car that won’t come. He won’t bring her home in this.

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FF – 13 November 2015

It can be no coincidence that the prompt on 11/11 should be a cemetery, but what struck me in this week’s prompt from J Hardy Carroll were the white figures, and for some reason they reminded me of Melanie. This story is not reliant on you having met her before, but if you want to meet her again, check out the rest of the Melanie tagged posts.

Last week’s concrit subgroup was great – I look forward to your stories and critiques again this week.

And, after reading, if you’re wondering what happened on 14 November 1940, click here.

jhc5 (1)

13 November 2015

After the ceremony, Sophia and Mel ran into the graveyard and threw spare confetti onto a headstone.

“They should have more respect,” I heard an elderly guest mutter.

“Where are the parents?” her husband agreed.

Here I am, I replied silently, picking up our coats and wishing my wife were here. I’ve always thought the dead would enjoy the proximity of children, but for appearance’s sake, I approached the girls.

“Look, Daddy,” Mel pointed to the petal-strewn grave. “It’s their wedding day too!”

Married 13 November 1940. Died 14 November 1940. For the briefest time in life, and for eternity.

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Friday Fiction – Boxes

Friday Fiction time again. I’m slightly hampered by technology today, including the fact that my Word Count device seems to be stuck on 99, no matter how many words I add or take away. I suppose I could count manually, but instead I’m just going to ask your forgiveness for possibly going one or two over / under 100.

Rochelle hosts us and Adam Ickes provided this week’s photo. As usual, please feel free to be honest!

copyright-adam-ickes

 

Mrs Mwanna’s house is really weird. It’s full of boxes, like on Hoarders except that Mrs Mwanna’s stuff is all carefully labelled. She’s got this one box where I think she stores her conversations with the spirits, because it’s got a sign on the outside that says In Voices.

She asked me to go and get her a new box of candles out of the back room and I saw the In Voices box and then I saw Joey chewing on a candle. Father Andrews says “The devil lives among us,” but he’s probably just seen Mrs Mwanna’s pet goat.

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In Mon – Talk to Strangers

What a fantastic crop of InMon prompts this week. I want to use them all … but not in the same story. However, Melanie’s been playing in my head again, so she’s taken the front slot and here’s another snippet from her. And I’ve ended up nodding to two of the prompts.

If you’d like to see more, search “Melanie” to see other parts of her story, although this scene is intended to stand alone.

* * *

Daddy’s instructions had been very clear: “Take Mummy’s prescription to the counter, get the pills from the Pharmacist, pay, leave. Don’t get waylaid.” But Melanie liked getting waylaid; there was always so much to see and do when you got waylaid. And sometimes you got waylaid without meaning to. Like today, in the pharmacy, there was an old lady waiting in the next seat. And Melanie wasn’t really getting waylaid, because she was waiting for the Pharmacist to get Mummy’s pills ready.

“You’re a bit little to be here alone,” said the old woman. “Where’s your Mum?”

“At home,” Mel said, wondering if it was OK to talk to strangers if they were at the pharmacy.

The old woman looked kind, like Mrs Mwanna, only not black. She put her handkerchief in front of her eyes to blow her nose. “You came by yourself?” said the voice behind the handkerchief.

“No. Daddy’s waiting outside, only he couldn’t come in because he’s on the phone.”

“Ah.” The lady came out from behind her mask again. “That’s the problem with these mobile phones. Everyone is always on them. No time for anything.”

Melanie nodded and looked up at the pharmacists’ heads, bobbing behind their high screen. She wondered how long the medicine was going to be, because she was nearly late for school and she didn’t want to have to go and see the Head again to explain.

“They take their own time,” the old lady said, reading her mind like Mrs Mwanna could do. “I’ve been waiting for twenty minutes.”

Melanie wondered how long she’d been waiting. Not twenty minutes, because the old lady had got here first, but it felt like forever.

“Do you go to St Bartholomew’s?” the lady said.

“Yes,” Melanie replied. And then she thought about it and wondered if the lady meant the church, which she did go to, or the school, which she didn’t because she was a big girl now and went to the big school, but it was too late to ask, because she had already answered.

The lady tutted. “I thought they had a uniform. I don’t go in for this modern idea of no uniform days. Supposed to be for charity, but it looks very scruffy and you can’t tell one child from another. In my day you knew exactly what to expect just by looking at the child.”

Melanie tried to count the bottles of Calcium tablets on the shelf beside her, but the numbers kept getting themselves confused whenever she listened to the old lady. She wondered whether to explain about the church and the school, but it wouldn’t really help, because her school did have a uniform and it wasn’t non-uniform day, her uniform was just in the wash because she’d forgotten to put the load through and Mummy had said she’d do it yesterday but then hadn’t been able to get out of bed, and so Daddy had said never mind he would write the Head a note. Only, thinking about it, Melanie remembered that he hadn’t given her a note and she would have to ask him when she got back to the car.

“I suppose you go to the church there as well?” the old lady said.

Melanie nodded.

The old lady tutted again. “Not my cup of tea,” she muttered. “I prefer a more shall we say enlightened communicant, if you know what I mean?”

Melanie nodded, although she didn’t.

“A little bit more forgive us our trespasses and a little bit less mine be the kingdom.”

“Ms Santori?” The lady pharmacist’s head appeared from behind the screen and the old lady stood up.

“Well, that’s me. At last,” she sighed. “You watch out for that priest of yours,” she added. “He’ll fill your head with fire and brimstone and leave no room for God’s love.”

Melanie nodded again and went back to counting the Vitamin bottles. It was easier now that nobody was talking to her, and she’d got all the way to two hundred and forty-seven when she heard Mummy’s name being called.

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Inspiration Monday – Fork / Childhood Hero

Right. Here’s the thing. Over at bekindrewrite, Steph’s given us another crop of fantastic prompts, including the two in the title of this post. Between them, they prompted me to write this little snippet from Melanie’s story, but I hope it’s within the rules – neither prompt actually appears in the story as such. Fork almost did in the first line, but it didn’t feel like a word Mel would actually use.

I hope you’ll forgive me. And I hope you enjoy the story. For those who are interested, other snippet of Mel’s life can be found by putting her name in the search box.

Watershed Moment

“There comes a time when a girl grows up, Dad,” said Melanie, looking up from her knickerbocker glory, and emphasising that last word that she was suddenly far too old to end with a ‘y’. “You’ve got to learn to let go.”

I nodded. Even at seven, she was wiser than me. I was still clinging to her mother in the same way, desperate that Susan wouldn’t leave me to take care of our little sage alone.

But Melanie wasn’t finished with me yet. “I’m a big girl now. I go to big school and have homework and a briefcase…” It was more of a satchel, but I didn’t dare interrupt. “… and Miss Purley says she is going to make me the Door Monitor. What do you think about that?”

“Wow,” I said. “Door Monitor.”

“Are you being sardastic? You know Mummy doesn’t like it when you’re sardastic to me.”

“Sarcastic,” I corrected her, almost automatically. “But no, actually, I wasn’t. Door monitor sounds like a big responsibility. What does it involve?”

“Opening the door.” Her withering look was the exact replica of Susan’s. I had to look away.

“Wow. Big girl school, big girl responsibilities. Soon you’ll be learning to drive and leaving your old Dad to fend for himself.” I could already picture it: I just wasn’t sure where Susan was in the picture – standing beside me, hunched in a wheelchair, or only a memory in our minds.

Melanie was already out of her chair and tucked in beside me, nudging my arm out of the way so she could get in closer. She liked to feel my beating heart. “I won’t ever leave you,” she whispered. Then, because she knew I wanted it so much, she gave in. “Daddy.”

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Friday Fictioneers – Spirit Lamps

I had to have a good think about this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt (Rochelle’s own photo) – the lamps seemed somewhat incongruous to the background. And then it came to me, and I’m very pleased to introduce the Fictioneers to Melanie. She is one of my go-to characters and one day I’d love to write her a longer story, but for the time being you can see some of her other adventures here and here. InMon followers will know her already. As it’s part of Mel’s whole life story, this is more a snippet than a “story”.

As ever, your feedback and constructive criticism is welcome, and the previous draft is provided only for those who like that kind of thing. No need to read it if you don’t!

lamps

Spirit Lamps

Sometimes, Mummy makes me take a casserole to Mrs Mwanna. She has these lamps. They are really old, and when I look at them, they make me think of Tinkerbell, but Mrs Mwanna calls them her “spirit lamps”. She says that they bring her closer to those who have passed over.

I once asked Father Andrews whether he used spirit lamps. That was before Mummy said not to talk to Father Andrews about Mrs Mwanna, because it makes him angry. And Father Andrews isn’t meant to get angry because he’s the conduit to Our Lady, and she never gets angry.

***

First Draft [not many changes, only really to cut the word count and mess with the theology a bit!]

Sometimes, Mummy makes me take a casserole to Mrs Mwanna across the road. She has these lamps. They are really old, and when I look at them, they make me think of Tinkerbell, trapped in a lantern. But Mrs Mwanna calls them her “spirit lamps” because she says that when you light them, it brings you closer to those who have passed over.

I once asked Father Andrews whether he used spirit lamps. That was before Mummy told me I should try not to talk to Father Andrews about the things Mrs Mwanna says, because it makes him angry. And Father Andrews isn’t meant to get angry because he’s a priest and that means he’s our conduit to the Lord Jesus, and Jesus never gets angry.

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In Mon – Myth Kit

In Mon’s prompts this week include “Recycled Heart”, which reminds me of this piece I wrote a while back for a not dissimilar prompt. Anyway, I digress, because the prompt I’ve used this week is not that one, it’s Myth Kit. I make no apologies for the seasonality or lack thereof of this piece, and dedicate it to all the Joes out there who make a difficult lives a little happier every year.

Writing-wise, this story actually started off just being the first part (up to the ***), but then Melanie wanted in on the action. You remember Melanie, don’t you? Let me know what you think!

Myth Kit

Joe rubbed the rouge into his cheeks, then picked up the lipstick.

“That’s my Estee Lauder!” Eve used to cry, when she saw him use it. “Can’t you use something cheaper ?” She’d bought him some unbranded crap from Boots, told him to put that in his myth kit tin, but he always ended up grabbing hers anyway, just to see that look of horror mixed with pride cross her face.

Every year, it was the same. He’d sit in her chair, dolling himself up in her mirror, with Eve hanging over his shoulder: smiling, chattering, fussing. Then last year, there had been less chatter and more coughs. And this year, there was no Eve.

Myth kit tin, he thought, chuckling. That had been one of her ideas too – a name for the box of tricks that turned an ordinary man into a legend.

He took a final look in the mirror, straightened the beard and pulled on his coat.

***

At the hospital, they were all ready for him. A couple of nurses were wearing the obligatory elf outfits, and in the back room, piles of gifts were stacked next to signs saying things like “Girl 5-8”. A queue was already forming, so Joe glanced in the mirror and then took his seat.

The first child was a boy about eleven or twelve years old. He was not suffering any obvious illness, but you never know, Joe reminded himself. Later, he’d be touring the children’s ward, so most of these kids were relatives not patients, but there’d be a few of the walking wounded amongst them.

“Now then, young man, what would you like for Christmas?”

“I know you’re not real,” the boy replied, a little too loud. Joe looked around to see if any of the other kids had heard, but they were being distracted by the elves.

“Up to you,” Joe said, “But I’m guessing you still want something for Christmas?”

“’Course.” The boy was sullen; Joe thought the only thing he deserved was a good hiding, although people didn’t do that these days. That’s why the kids end up rude, he mused. The boy was still talking, listing some toys or games Joe had never heard of, but which were probably expensive.

“Well, if you’re a good boy, I’m sure you’ll get what you deserve,” Joe said, in the sweetest voice he could muster. “Would you like a little present now?”

“What d’you think I’m here for?” The boy grabbed the gift from Joe’s hand and ran off. Someone shouted that he’d missed the photo, but he was long gone with his spoils.

They weren’t all like that, mercifully. Most of the kids were quiet and grateful, or boisterous and fun. Joe enjoyed the childish pleasures they brought out in him. This year, more than ever. He wondered why he and Eve had never had children of their own.

One little girl took his hand and held his eyes with hers. They were deep blue and incredibly serious. Joe thought he might cry, just looking at them.

“I’m Melanie,” she said.

He pushed thoughts of Eve as far back as he could. Eve’s eyes, gazing into his, the way this little girl’s did. Eve’s hand, holding his tightly. Eve talking in that calm, quiet way of hers.

“You’re supposed to say ‘Ho ho ho’,” said a voice, which wasn’t Eve’s. The little girl was still holding his hand, but now she was patting it gently.

“Oh! Ho ho ho and a Merry Christmas,” said Joe, with gusto. “Sorry, I was just, err, thinking about all the japes the reindeer will be getting up to while I’m away!”

The little girl smiled. “Did you leave Mrs Claus to look after them?”

“Of course. They are quite silly if no one’s watching.”

“I bet Mrs Claus is beautiful,” said the girl, and then, as Joe began to feel he might cry, “May I sit on your knee for the photograph? I have something special to ask you for, for Christmas.”

Joe nodded, “Jump up!”

She climbed onto his lap and, as Milton angled the camera, whispered in his ear. “I’ve asked Jesus, but I’m hoping you can help too. Please can you make Mummy better?”

Joe looked out, past the little girl, past Milton and the nurses, to where a woman stood watching them. No older than forty, she wore a hospital gown and held onto a walker. She gazed at the girl, beaming with pride. Then, as he watched, she bent over the walker stricken by a bout of coughing. Just like Eve, he thought, and a shudder went through him.

“Why don’t you ask Mummy to join us for the picture?”

 

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