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.
There’s a saying about gift horses and mouths (although if it’s from the Greeks, you might want to check the underside) that applies to Rochelle’s invitation to rerun old stories this summer, so here is the link to my story from September 2012.
Back then I was in the throes of moving house, 7 months pregnant and about to embark on the adventures of both homeownership and motherhood for the first time. How things have changed. Now we are looking at houses for a second move, but with that baby’s Kindergarten registration making school districts a big factor in the choice. Meanwhile, his little brother just turned one yesterday!
My story for J Hardy Carroll’s intriguing picture follows it. Jump straight there if you don’t want to read some of the musings that almost certainly fueled its creation.
This parenting lark isn’t easy. Sometimes it feels like a constant weighing between immediate gain and long-term gain – taking a toddler to the park is nice, but wrestling a toddler out of the door to go to the park, then out of the park and back home, means you spend roughly as long cajoling / arguing / negotiating (and therefore making him unhappy) as you do playing (and making him happy). Is it worth it? Equally, when a baby can’t sleep because his teeth hurt, or a preschooler can’t sleep because it’s so much more fun to recite endless stories / TV shows, you can spend as long, and as much energy, persuading them to lie down and rest their poor tied body as they get back from the eventual sleep. But if you don’t, you have a cranky child making both of you miserable for the rest of the day. Is it worth it?
So I’ve been thinking about the long-game and the medium game, and the immediate game, and I still have no idea, but when you read my story, I think you might get a sense for how I feel deep in the jungle!
Forget the wood, focus on the trees
Stepping onto the path, she looked ahead, then tightened her grip on the little hand that rested in each of hers. Beyond the trees, a thousand uncertainties away, their destination was invisible and unknown. Some said it was a restful place they would enjoy together; others that they would be separated; and still more that there was nothing there at all.
Whatever the truth, for now, she had only the path. The path, and two little boys clutching her hands in the sure and certain belief that she would guide them, help them, carry them through whatever it might hold.
Why don’t I recognize Sean Fallon’s photo? I thought. I’ve been joining in with FF for over five years and Rochelle’s reruns are normally a chance for me to take a break and a trip down memory lane. Then I noticed the date: 15 November 2012. Eleven days after this.
All of which meant I needed to write a new story, but I already had the perfect one in my head. A memory, from roughly eleven days ago. I am usually a stickler for exactly 100 words, but today I’m struggling to get it down, so the current count is 120. I hope you’ll forgive me, or suggest where I can do some pruning.
EDIT: There. 100 words. I knew it must be possible. Thanks especially to Rochelle, for her suggestions.
Running on Empty (Genre: Memoir)
I was finally talking to an adult, discussing escaping to a spa, even just a bar. Then something spikey was thrust into my hand.
“Finn’s siren’s not working.”
I squeezed the toy. It whined like a distant cat fight.
“I think the battery’s dying.”
“We can take him to Grandad Dog’s garage.”
“I think we can probably do it ourselves,’ I said, removing the battery cover and accidentally pressing the ladder.
“Faaast and feeearless, I’m Fiiiirey Flynn.”
I smiled. Fast and fearless is all very well, but you’re not fooling me. I know all about needing to recharge the batteries.
Thank you to Sandra Crook for today’s picture prompt. I have so much I could say, so many different observations that could lead to stories, but this is the one the Muse chose this morning. Your comments and critique are very welcome.
A few weeks in, Alice was beginning to feel motherhood was her own personal Groundhog Day. She was Bill Murray, working her way through the same piles of diapers and washing and pain and tears – her own, as well as Aiden’s – over and over again.
Like Bill, she tried something subtly different each time, and although the consequences were considerably less hilarious in real life, love was still the goal. And that first time Aiden smiled, together with every time he waved his tiny fat feet in delight, she knew spring couldn’t be more than a short time away.
A blog friend linked to this little writing prompt group and I thought I’d give it a go. Not my usual fare – move along if you’re looking for 100 word fiction. I won’t be doing this every week, I’m sure!
Thirteen Observations From A Stay-At-Home Mum
It’s surprising how much of a difference it makes to have someone occasionally say “you handled that really calmly; I think I’d have freaked out” or “you have a tough job,” instead of implying they think you sit around eating bonbons and watching TV all day.
I watch a lot of TV. I watch it in 10 minute stints whilst nursing and on mute with the subtitles on, or else it’s an episode of Peppa Pig we watched every day last week and twice yesterday.
I also eat too many sweet things, but not when there’s a witness.
Nothing is easier when a toddler ‘helps’.
It is always easier to accept a toddler’s ‘help’ than to prevent it.
There’s never enough time – and if there is, you’re early and waiting around with a grouchy child.
There’s always time for a hug.
Hugs, like hearts, always have room for one more.
When people talk about the challenge of ‘two in diapers’, it’s not the diapers they are complaining about. It’s just a shorthand for two dependent beings, both of whom demand and deserve 100% of your time and attention, neither of whom is really able to do a great deal for himself and both of whom are inclined to noisy melodrama if they have to wait for anything.
The diapers are (literally) sh!tty, though, at times.
There is something incredible (and terrifying) about being able to see how everything develops – the phrases or accents of a particular tv character or friend; the moods and moments they take from us; the right and the not-quite-right science being pieced together from observing the world.
On the other hand, I’ve no idea where “side up down” (upside down) or the “walking side” (sidewalk) come from!
I can sleep through thunderstorms, radio alarms and tsunami sirens, but one of my boys so much as whispers and I’m wide awake, ready to nurse, comfort or kill tigers for them.