Fearful Fertility.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about fear is that quite often it is completely illogical. My mother is terrified of spiders, when she lived in Australia this seemed sensible, lots of deadly spiders looking to nibble you. However she’s lived in England for the past forty years so there’s really no need to run screaming from a tiny money spider sat on the windowsill. I suffer with mild coulrophobia, not sure how helpful it is to my survival to be anxious of clowns…

My biggest fear of all is a fear that has no logic to it, my reasoning for this fear makes no sense and yet I can’t seem to shake it. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to have children.

Some time in the future myself and my fiancé want to have our own little family. I’ve always wanted children, I’m a very maternal person and I am the loudest cooer of babies. We’re not ready yet, we’ve got a few more adventures to have before we hear the pitter patter of tiny feet. Until then I can enjoy my daydreaming. I’m sitting in a cosy arm chair cradling my child, I’m kissing grazed knees better, I’m reading bed time stories to sleepy ears and I’m sighing in despair at all the mess and anarchy that comes with little ones. Every time I allow myself to spend some time imagining our family together I get a lump in my throat. “I’d better not think about that, it might never happen, I mightn’t be able.”

For all intense and purposes I’m a perfectly healthy woman, there should be no reason for me to think like this. Here’s where it all stems from, two of my Aunties were unable to conceive children of their own. These two Aunties wanted nothing more in life to have children, they tried and tried for years with no success. They’ve told me the stories of heartbreak, miscarriage after miscarriage. I’ve seen the looks of longing when passing a new Mother and baby. I’m so frightened that one day I will wear that look, I will feel that pain and I will know that sorrow. To live your life unable to fulfil the one desire you long for more than anything.

Somewhere at the back of my mind an unreasonable connection has been made, “maybe they wanted it too much. Every fibre of their being wanted babies, it was too much and that’s why they couldn’t.” It makes no sense at all! It’s stupid! It’s irrational! ..And yet. I daren’t express how much I want children for fear that the powers that be would decide to punish me. I’m getting anxious now just typing this. This confession could be the thing that will stop me from getting pregnant one day.

Fear can be such an illogical thing.

Off To War

I cudn’t ‘ave signed me sen up for army any quicker than I did, soon as me eighteenth birthday came ‘round off I went to do me bit for King and country. Me Dad wa’ dead set ‘gainst it. Said “you’re a damned fool for wantin’ go and get thee sen blown up in some godless place. If you ‘ad owt sense ‘bout ye tha’d be gerrin down mine with me and ye brothers.”

It wa’ 1940, the war ‘ad been going for a year, I wanted to do me service before it wa’ all over, back then we thought it’d be done be Christmas, ‘ow wrong we were.

“Why would ye want to go off enyway? Go talk to fella at mine, get yeself a job and tha won’t ‘ave t’ worry about them enlisting lot.” Father gave me this speech every day, “I’m tellin’ ye now son, if tha goes runnin’ off to army tha’ll be no place ‘ere for ye when you get back. If ye gets back that is.”

I wa’ stationed in Scotland, in a place called Fort William I wa’ to become part o’ the Cameron Highlanders. I’d never travelled so far in me life. I paid no attention to the hills and scenery goin’ by me. I’d just left ‘ome for first time and my Father ‘ad made it clear I wa’ never welcome back. I’d never felt so alone in me life. I was numb and empty, those feelings consumed me so much that I felt no fear ‘bout goin’ to fight.

A dun’t like much t’ talk ‘bout those days durin’ war. I saw things that shouldn’t never be seen be nobody. ‘Orrible things, inhuman things. Me Granddaughter, Sarah, is always askin’ questions, “Wha’ were it like? Where did you go? Wha’ did you see?” I look into her brown eyes an’ I see all those little kiddies lyin’ on ground, dead, beautiful little faces smeared in blood. ‘Ow can you tell a little girl about those things?

Nobody will understand what we went through, nobody but the lads tha’ stood by me side whilst we made our way through wreckage of Hiroshima. When all your days are filled wi’ death an’ destruction you need a strong bunch o’ lads behind you. We helped each other through those days. A couldn’t write to me Mam or me Dad ‘bout the things that wa’ ‘appening, at times like that a person needs a family to look after ‘im an’ keep ‘im sane. So although I didn’t ‘ave me blood family, I had a bunch o’ lads that treated each other as brothers. We were thick as thieves and saw each other through tough times. Many of us came close to breaking, it’s only natural, we’d keep an eye out for each other though. If it looked like one o’ us was ‘aving an ‘ard time we’d rally ‘round and help ‘em along.

It’s funny really. After me family disowned me and I had meself fighting on t’other side o’ world,  I managed to find another family, a family that accepted me with open arms.

The Enchanted Forest

Today’s Prompt: Think about an event you’ve attended and loved. Your hometown’s annual fair. That life-changing music festival. A conference that shifted your worldview. Imagine you’re told it will be cancelled forever or taken over by an evil corporate force. 

A few strides from the unsuspecting town of Pitlocrhy hides an Enchanted Forest, it’s inhabitants include many robed druids and a glittering unicorn named Bob. This is not a fairy tale. However during my first walk through that forest I could have been easily convinced I was traversing through a Grimm brothers story.

bob

If you are brave enough to face the bitter cold of the Scottish evenings there is no finer place to be than The Enchanted Forest. Every October the trees are decorated with an incredible walk through light show. Lights patter down the towering trunks, the leaves glow in every colour of the rainbow and the still lake perfectly reflects the wondrous illuminations. Along the way you will meet friendly druids to tell you tales of the wood. If you’ve ever had any questions about unicorns and the magic they posses then you might want to keep an eye out for Bob, a charming Scottish unicorn who’d be more than happy to tell you all about herself.

bridge

I was carried along the footpath by the ambient music, I smiled and said hello to other joyful visitors. You could feel the excitement and buzz whirling through the the branches and leaves. Everyone here had reverted to childhood and allowed themselves to get lost in a world full of impossible things. There are so many beautiful displays to admire that your senses are overwhelmed. When it came time to cross a bridge that was surrounded by a glowing blue waterfall I had to take a moment to calm my excitement. The evening I spent there was the most magical I have had, I never wanted to leave that bewitching place.

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I returned eagerly the next year to wonder at the new displays, my mind raced with memories of my last visit. As I stepped into the woods I could sense something had changed. I was not greeted by happy people in costume, instead I was ushered along by unenthused uniformed workers. I waited for their merry greeting but was met with grunts and sighs. Although a little perturbed I continued on, hopes still high, perhaps they had tired from standing in the cold all night.

My body jittered with anticipation, soon that wore off. The displays were no where near as spectacular as last time and worst still each step of the way was scattered with health and safety warnings. “Mind your head”, “surface slippery when wet”, “beware steep drop”. How could you envision yourself exploring a land of fairies when you were being shouted at my gruff men in high visibility jackets?

Only ten minuets into my trek and I was throughly deflated and disappointed, I sluggishly dragged my feet along, occasionally stopping to see the lights. I had crashed. I had gone from the pinnacle of excitement to being dragged down to the soggy earth and just when I thought I couldn’t get any lower I realised something. The lights, to which I’d been paying little attention, were not intricate symbols of a time forgotten but where garish neon advertisements for a drinks company.

It all made sense now! The whole forest must have been acquired by a faceless company! They didn’t care about creating a magical and unforgettable experience. They just wanted to shepherd people in by the dozen, charge them through the nose and send them on their way. I was relived for a moment in this discovery, glad that there was a genuine reason for my disappointment.

 Then the grief struck, the place that I had dreamt about for a year was gone. Yes the trees remained where they had always been there was still an ethereal lake at the heart of it. But the magic and love had left this place and it would never be the same. I felt empty.

Dear Barbara.

Today’s Prompt: Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What’s the first word that jumps off the page? Use this word as your springboard for inspiration. 

Dear Barbara,

I am writing to you simply to say I think you are amazing and I’m ever so grateful to have met you even, though it was only briefly.

My trip to the zoo that day hadn’t been the best I have to admit. I was rejected by a kangaroo when I tried to feed it some pellets, I leant in too close to the electric fence and received a dizzy hit of volts to the forehead and I was chased by a bumble bee. Then you came along.

I was sat munching away at my dry cheese sandwich when I heard the zoo keepers shouting and a child scream with grief. I turned around to see you sat happily holding the crying child’s lollipop. I admire your gusto, if you see something you want, you go out there and get it, even against the protests of a howling toddler. I distinctly remember staring at you with awe, I adored the way you licked and bit the red lolly without a care in the world. I wish I could be as unburdened as were on that day.

“Barbara! Barbara! Get back here!” Shouted the polo shirted zoo keepers. You defied their summons, instead choosing to head in the opposite direction, that direction just happening to be towards me. How you gracefully bounced from each picnic table to the next with such ease it really was a sight to see. You stopped at my table and I had a chance to truly admire your beauty. Your soft hair a beautiful shade of grey, the black around your eyes really made the orange in them stand out and most of all I found the movements of your striped tail to be hypnotising.

Alas the keepers finally caught up with you and returned you to your home.

I rushed to the ringtail lemur enclosure to search for you, I saw many striped tails wrapped around tree branches or waving in the wind. There were so many that I struggled to spot you! When I did finally find you sat alone high in a branch, I couldn’t help but beam to see my cheese sandwich in your hand.

Yours Sarah Lou x

Grandads’ Old Suitcase

Day 13’s Prompt: write about finding something.

After Grandads passing the time came to split all his worldly possessions between his four children. Uncles, Aunties and cousins filled my Grandfathers home, I found this an utter intrusion, I was angry, most of them never came to visit when Grandad was alive and here there were traipsing through all the rooms and taking what they liked. The worst came when my Dads siblings started dividing up Grandmas Lladro ornaments. Grandma had always wanted the entire collection to go to my Mother, those wishes were ignored.

I had to escape all the scavenging in the living room so I slipped into Grandads bedroom, he had kept it just as it had been when Grandma had been alive. The bed was pristinely made, the curtains draped just so and on the dressing table lay all Grandmas soft brushes and mirrors. I carefully picked up her looking glass and imagined my Grandmother doing the same years before. On the dresser sat another Lladro ornament, this one was of a young barefoot girl, I remember Grandad telling me a story about how far she had walked with a stone in her shoe. I admired her delicate features and graceful pose as my Auntie walked in and took the ornament from me.

I so desperately wanted to take something, something of Grandads that I could cling on to. That’s when I stumbled across one of Grandads old suitcases. Whenever he came to visit he always brought his brown leather suitcase, containing neatly folded shirts and vests, his electric razor and his old spice. If I came home from school and found this sitting in the hallway it brightened my day because it meant Grandad was here, with me!

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The suitcase is a little beaten up, it’s lid is sagging, the lock doesn’t work and the lining is discoloured. That doesn’t matter to me, I take it on my travels across the country and delight when people ask me about my tatty bag. I revel in any excuse to talk about my Grandfather, whom I will forever love and cherish.

The Grass Is Always Greener.

Today’s Prompt: Write a post inspired by a real-world conversation.

The door to the restaurant flies open and in walk Eve and Patrick, they’re the kind of couple that other couples aspire to be like. They really seem to have a handle on this whole being an adult business, they’re the kind of couple your Mother would want you to be friends with. Both beautiful and stylish people, oozing with sophistication, both enjoying immensely successful high powered jobs. Travelling all over the globe and finding time to throw incredible dinner parties in their grand Cheltenham townhouse. They have got it all.

Eves’ eyes quickly scan the room to find us, when they land upon myself and my husband Alec, a smile spreads across her glowing cheeks and her eyes light up. She effortlessly slips from her coat and with perfect timing Patrick catches the garment and hands it to the waiter whom he is having a lighthearted joke with. They join us at the table, Eve caresses my hand and whispers, “my darling you look divine.” I know she’s being polite, I feel as though I’ve just rolled out of bed and thrown on some rags, Eve is as stunning as ever. Patrick unbuttons his jacket and orders wine for the table, Eve straightens his tie and declares, “you are the shabbiest man in England! How is that at thirty six years of age you still can’t dress yourself?” She smiles and kisses him quickly. 

Hours fly by as we enjoy each others company along with plates of rich Italian food being brought to us. “Yes, you both must join us, we know this delightful little chateaux just outside of Lyon. It’s simply unreal how beautiful it is, we could spend the weekend there and gorge ourselves on French bread and wine, doesn’t that sound stupendous?” Eve takes an excited sip of her coffee, “of course we’d hoped to go there next weekend but unfortunately Patrick has to be off to Berlin for a work thing, terrible bore.” She rolls her eyes and mimes a yawn. 

Alec coughs and splutters coffee down his shirt, I rub his back and offer him my serviette, “I’m fine,” he wheezes, “just went down the wrong way.” I wish he could be suave, behave more like Patrick. Eve grabs Patricks arm and exclaims, “Isn’t that Carina? Over there by the bar! Oh we have to go say hello!” With that she pulled his arm and lead him toward an attractive red head perched daintily at the bar. 

I turn to Alec and hold his hand, “do you think we could go to France with them? I’m sure we’d have a lovely time and they’d show us all the fabulous places to visit!” Alec doesn’t respond, he seems distracted, staring towards our friends with a pained expression. I look over to them and I see no cause for alarm, Eve has found a seat next to her friend and with expressive hand gestures is discussing something with her. Patrick is chatting to the barman presumably ordering another bottle of wine. 

“What’s the matter?” I ask Alec.

He sighs and fumbles with his napkin, “if I tell you do you promise not to freak out.”

I feel a lump in my throat, I swallow hard and promise to stay calm.

“That woman, Carina, she works with Patrick.” He hesitates for a moment, “and erm, he’s going on that business trip to Berlin, with, her.” 

I look at Alec perplexed, “okay, that’s a problem because..?”

He takes a deep breath, “it’s not for business, it’s more for, well, um, how shall I say, pleasure.”

I sit up bolt right, “are you trying to say what I think you are?”

“Don’t freak, you promised you wouldn’t.”

I lower my voice, “so he’s having an affair? How long has this been going on? How long have you known? Why didn’t you tell me? Should we tell Eve?”

Alec exclaims, “God no!” Remembering where we are he whispers, “he’s been fooling around with her for about a year. Those trips he takes to ‘Stratford’ every month are spent with her.” 

“Wait. Carina?” The name suddenly rings a bell, I search my mind looking for a faint memory of it, “didn’t Eve say they took a Carina to that chateaux last year?”

Alec raised his eyebrows, “ahuh, that’s where this all began.”

“Whilst they were under the same roof as Eve? How can we not say anything? This horrid Alec, this would kill her.”

“Which,” he emphasised each word. “is exactly, why. We can’t say anything. They’ve been together for ten years, how can we break that up?”

Just as I took a breath to state my argument Eve came rushing back to her seat, alone. “Sorry about that,” she sang, “had to say hello, Carina is a chum of Patricks, she is to die for. I mean look at her she’s absolutely gorgeous! Maybe I should keep an eye on Patrick, I mean he’s only human. Ha!” She threw her head back and laughed.

I feel Alecs hand squeeze my thigh under the table, he stares harshly into my eyes, in my mind I can hear him screaming, “this is not the time!”

Eve has her back to Patrick as she chippers on about what a lovely girl Carina is, I can’t pull my eyes away from him. He leans against the bar close to Carina and he is whispering something in her ear, she smiles and bites her lip. My heart is breaking for Eve.

These Four Walls

Today’s Prompt: Where did you live when you were 12 years old?

When we first moved to this house I got to pick my own room, I’d been ambitious and asked for the largest in the house. Mum said no. I settled for the second largest. The room was big enough to fit a bed and not much else, my wardrobe had to be relegated to the hallway outside my door, a door which didn’t close properly. The walls of my room had been painted pink by the previous owner, at this point in my life I was very anti-pink. I was certainly not keen on the particular shade of pink that suffocated my walls. It was so strong that sunglasses had to be worn upon entering. Every morning I woke up with a throbbing headache. Why would anybody want walls that appeared to be severely sunburnt?

When it was announced I could redecorate, I opted for blue, a nice cool tone that was happy and relaxed. I bought a large spiral stamp, submerged it in silver paint and jumped around the room scattering metallic patterns across the walls. In the years we lived there Mum never got round to replacing the bright pink curtains, they stayed as a constant reminder of my rooms former life.

My room was my fortress and together we went through many transformations.

A social hang out. Bunk beds, adorned with dolphin bed linen and teddy bears were often inhabited by as many friends as I could fit in there. I still marvel at the idea we managed to squeeze seven of us into two beds on one particular sleepover.

A show of maturity. A large rectangular mirror propped against the wall. The floor in front scattered with pots of eye shadow and tubes of lip gloss. I spent hours sat in front of this posing with my camera, trying to get the perfect picture to use for MySpace.

An act of rebellion. Somewhere beneath the mountains of dirty clothes there was a carpet. My walls were also hidden. Plastered over every inch were poster of bands I idolised, mainly Green Day. I will always love you Billie Joe Armstrong.

A cry for help. Walls stripped, left cold and baron. My bed dismantled I preferred to sleep on a mattress on the floor. I would sit for hours alone. Wishing everything would get better.

A place to build memories. Bunk beds returned to their former glory. Bed sheets draped from the top to turn the bottom bunk into a tent. We would cook copious servings of cous cous and watch indie movies on my laptop. Paying little attention to the films, too busy laughing with each other.

After we lost the house, I returned to collect the last few things. I stood in my empty room. I cried as I said my goodbyes. Who’d have thought a few walls could help mould you into the person you’re supposed to be?