“They haven’t cut the straps.” Luke kicks disapprovingly at the third discarded mask we’ve seen in the one mile walk to school.
“Huh?” I’m not really listening. I’m wondering what we’re going to do on Monday. The third strike day of his first ‘normal’ school year since Grade 1.
“Animals can get tangled in them and die.”
“In the discarded mask?”
“Yes. It’s serious, Mom.”
One of us is missing the point. “You want the careless idiots who drop their mask on the side of the road to carefully cut the straps first?”
“It’s environmentally caring.”
“Ah, environmentally caring littering.”
Today’s photo put me in mind of a song from my childhood, The Bedstead Men, by comedy duo Flanders and Swann. You can enjoy it on the link below (2:25 for the relevant verse). It occurred to me that 80 years on, the specific items listed in the final chorus would have changed considerably, and in the last few years, one piece of litter has taken over from the prophylactic as the most ubiquitous: the single-use mask.
I toyed with the idea of amending the lyrics for our times, but at 352 words, it’s a little over the limit and most of them wouldn’t change. My own Luke recently took on board an important lesson about mask disposal, and my own Matty is currently sprawled on the couch with ‘flu … likely to recover just in time to miss school for yet another strike.
And so today’s snippet was born. If you enjoy stories featuring the fictional Luke and Matty, you can find more of them here.
“Why do I have to practise every day?” he used to ask me, torturing that guitar just as I was torturing him. He loved being able to play, hated the process of getting there. If he could make it play the notes that was enough for him. Why should he practise again and again just to add timing and emotion?
Practising became playing, and playing eventually became gigging and riffing. One day, he’ll have a kid of his own who wants to be able to play but doesn’t want to learn. I wonder if he’ll torture them with practice too.
Melanie had opinions about this picture, but they were depressing and a bit repetitious, so I thought Luke and Matty might be interested in the playground instead. Unfortunately, Luke and Matty, much like my real life boys, lived through a pandemic, and the sight of a rain-soaked playground gave their Mom a very different memory you can read more about here. Still miserable, I’m afraid, but then – is there anything more forlorn than an empty playground?
Even when it poured rain, we went across to the park every day. Rain never stopped play. I remember getting annoyed about it, but I bought myself raingear and handwarmers, and longed for them to be old enough to send over without me.
They’re old enough now, but we all sit inside and look out at the street instead. On rainy days, there are puddles Matty longs to jump in, and mud they would happily dig through; when the sun shines, the slides glow, calling the neighbourhood children to flout the rules, risk the world’s new Big C…
In haste, this one. Half memoir, half fiction. You decide which bits are which! (Clue: It’s not the topsoil)
I never understood why Mum cried at the end of movies. The characters lived happily ever after, defeated the monster or even occasionally died… I just scoffed popcorn and ran off. Mum would sit, quietly sniffing; ashamed of the tears, but unable to stop them.
Shame’s a shitty feeling, but those other emotions – relief, happiness, sadness – that spilled from her eyes, those feelings are real and pure and nobody should need to hide them behind a handkerchief or an adjustment of the glasses. These days, I can cry at an advert for topsoil. If Mum were here, we’d cry together.
Lyla woke with a start. The room was dark and quiet. Gentle breathing from her left the only thing to hang onto. The world wasn’t ending.
She wrapped herself in a blanket and padded into the next room. The baby was sleeping soundly, her mouth slightly open, her face calm. Lyla’s mind spiked again with the vision of that same face contorted in terror, dropping away into the abyss and her own arms reaching desperately through the air.
Lyla’s face touched the baby’s hair as she climbed into the crib. “You caught me,” she whispered, finally able to relax again.
My photo this week, but I’m out and about so I’ll have to catch up properly in a couple of weeks. Also means I can’t add the image from here, but you can see it on Rochelle’s ff homepage.
The years ticked past as she sat rocking baby after baby through the cries of hunger, teething and fearful dreams. Each one grew, learned to walk, then talk and then push her gently away.
They returned, when the pain or fear or joys heaped upon them by the world were too great for their broadening shoulders to bear. And she, faithful comforter and trusted confidente, embraced them each time anew.
Then one day her chair rocked empty. Gathered around it, they saw for the first time the grooves her feet had worn into the floor, as she had etched footprints on their hearts.
Its Friday! And I’m catching up on Friday Fiction. This week’s photo is from Shaktiki Sharma. It was hard for me t make out the image on my little phone screen, so I went with the old “say what you see” motto and the story below was created. Your comments are welcome.
Whatever you’re celebrating at this time of year, even if it’s ‘just’ Friday, I hope it is happy and peaceful for you.
The view from the bus was uninspiring – leering neon as unappealing as the darkness. People loitered around the shadows, but she fought the urge to fear them. She was safer among these strangers than she had ever been with Mark.
She clutched Eloise’s weary hand in hers and strode across the street towards a flashing Vacancies sign. The room rates posted below it were hourly, with a discount for the whole night. It was no place for her, and certainly not for Eloise, but her shoulders lifted slightly as she stepped inside.
“Come on,” she whispered, “Our new adventure awaits!”
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.
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.