The Crawfords locked their doors and shuttered their windows every Halloween. The neighbours sniggered and nudged each other. Skinflints they’d utter. Spoilsports they’d murmur. And they’d shuffle their beleaguered offspring onto the next house.
If they were to be completely honest, they were glad not to have to traipse along the overgrown path to the flaking front door. They were relieved not to try pass pleasantries as their darlings greedily thrust their bags out, demanding only the best sweets money could buy. Not an orange was allowed cross that hessian threshold, unless it came accompanied by a shiny €2 coin.
They were delighted to have something to give out about the Crawfords, after all there was something about that family that the neighbours just couldn’t put their finger on.
Something not quite right.
If only they knew.
Maybe they shouldn’t question.
Sometimes people are best left alone.
Layers and layers of
Grey clouds and socks,
welly boots now, no more flip flops.
Puddle jumping, over and in.
Brollies poking from the bins.
Snuggle scarf and matching hat,
Making my hair go flat.
Lights reflected on surfaces wet
Bring a smile to me yet
I wonder as I pass through town
“What’s the point in looking down?
All the world is yonder – look up!
Up high, pause.
Wonder on the wondrous sights,
the dismal days and darkest nights. Wonder that they come to pass, and of course, that they won’t last.
Savour that moment! It’s fine, it’s always darkest before the time when dawn breaks – a sliver silver – and then before I know it, it’s new pyjamas and cosy bed,
Curled up snug, with a sleepy head.
A patchwork of russet and orange leaves swirled, and were sucked up into a whorl despite their sodden weight, then flung against the window where they stuck like those Christmas clings that Holly often saw in shop windows. She paused in her study and looked out, her grey eyes bright under her dark lashes and groomed brows. Shivering, she shifted in her seat and put her cup down and gazed out at the rainy evening.
Across the road shops were shutting, hassled looking people dashed about, some with their Friday night take away treat, some with bags of shopping. A gaggle of Bambi teens squealed as a car sent a tidal wave their way, and Holly smiled remembering the thrill of late night shopping, the cloying scent of the make up counter and the tinkle of cheap jewellery. The fantastic grown up feeling of having coffee out with your girlfriends, sharing a cream donut because you’d bought that dress and wanted to fit into it.
Well,she sighed as she turned back to her notes, nothing gets more grown up than this. Her foot rolled the new buggy back and forth and she peeped in at the sleeping bundle. Two solemn blue eyes looked back at her and she sighed.
Feeding time again. closing her notes with one hand, she picked up the smiling baby. Kissing it’s soft skin she smiled and then she saw her. The woman she’d been waiting for.
Her mouth went dry and she held her breath as she watched the woman weave her way through to a table.
She came every week and ordered the same thing. A pot of tea for two and a large slice of cake, with cream on the side; and she’d pretend that she was taking her daughter out for tea as her own mother had done. Holly watched as the woman sipped her tea, the cake untouched as the waitress set another cup out. A handsome man, with a warm smile and caring brown eyes sat down, placing his phone between them and Holly smiled. From her perch in the little window seat she could see everything, but she went unnoticed as she feed the baby and watched the couple share the cake. They were awkward at first, hesitantly taking a mouthful, as if it was an early celebration that might be jinxed at any moment. Holly felt the soft nuzzle of the baby against her breast stop and she lifted the bundle up so that she too could see the couple. The baby’s blue eyes sparkled as forks clanged over the same morsel and the woman laughed for the first time, a tingly laugh and the man relaxed. Then the phone rang. It’s rumbling rhumba cut short the laughter, causing worry lines to etch on his face. She picked it up first, holding it for a split second before answering.
Holly watched intently, she saw the woman nod tersely, then speak. She saw the beginnings of disbelief on her pale face, her blue eyes widening with wonder and the softening of her mouth into a smile. Holly smiled too, and the baby gurgled in her lap. The woman hung up, she reached for him with one hand, her other hand gently set on her tummy. He was beaming, his eyes full of questions.
Holly turned to the baby and kissed her rosebud mouth one last time as they were surrounded by a thousand sparkling lights.
I knew she was the one. she whispered as she watched the baby twinkle into a wisp of stars and make her way over to the couple where she settled on the woman’s lap, her blue eyes the brightest Holly had ever seen. Holly blew a kiss and closing her eyes disappeared. Her duty done, she was on the lookout already for a family for the brown eyed boy who was now holding her hand tightly, her notes already rewriting as she came into existence in yet another place.
I think she knew, as I kissed her that last time, that we would never see each other again.
I’d promised to come back, not the morrow, because everyone else would be there then; but the day after that. I didn’t want to tire her.
But she was gone, early that next day. As if she wanted us to Christmas without trips to the hospice, or maybe she was just tired or maybe she was just ready.
When I heard, when I got the phone call, I couldn’t breathe out properly; and that sensation lasted for the entirety of the next year. The urge to be with my mother overwhelmed me. Nothing on the earth would have kept me from being at her side and I don’t remember the short journey to her house. For me, the loss of ones mother was an absolute horror, a nightmare worse than those that fill picture houses. Those evil clowns, those unseen nightmares couldn’t hold their weight next to it.
I wanted so much to cradle my own mother, to cocoon her and protect her; as she had me. I expected her to fall apart, and I was willing to stand in her stead while she did. To give her this time to grieve, to remember, to rant or scream. To do whatever it was she might need to do.
But it wasn’t necessary; I found things were carrying on relatively normal, it was still Christmas Eve, a bright, blue cold day; and people were busy.
I wasn’t needed to do anything.
It didn’t occur to me at the time, that it was me that needed the cradling and that she was doing what it was she needed to do. Or maybe we were avoiding reality.
Death. You never know how you will react, or what you will do to avoid your heart suffering that pain again.
And you can’t avoid it, not really. You can only fool yourself that you are.
All day with a hoop they played,
A simple thing. An old favourite.
Hundreds of years a favourite.
They migrate to a jump rope, as turns were taken, until a ball entered the equation and the smack as it bounced created a tune that we, grown ups, remembered well from our own childhood.
They’re grasping the last few real days of summer with hands that had capably and carelessly flung time in May away.
Sure didn’t we all imagine that the holidays would last forever?
A chill has settled on the September day, early as it is, and short sleeves have been covered by fleece lined tops.
But still they ramble about the yard, homework, lessons a hindrance, have been disregarded as autumn’s first day begins.
And they sense the change as much as each bird and mammal does, and gather up their time while they can – a harvest of play to get through the long winter day.
Her arrival was in her own sweet time, and thereafter she abhorred bad time keeping. Or maybe just mine.
She demanded life all around her, a dancing tune and much to do;
Peppering our home with sound, or a new vision and thoughts shared to ponder and I’d shake my head at her insights.
She passed me by; not only in height but in strength and clarity.
And strong will.
I’d met my match!
She reminds me that black is black, and white is white; not content with chalkiness.
So we butt and buffer, yet stay attached;
Although we maybe destined to float on stormy seas;
My sweet strange-ling and me.
There he sat, upon my knee, all love entwined about me,
Ever since he was a bean it was so.
His fingers, soft and creative, twirl my hair and he looks up at me
With such trust.
I’m the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, he says again, and
I kiss his satin cheek, his pink puckered mouth, his brow
All the while grateful for knowing such unconditional love.
He asks and asks and asks questions,
Some I can answer.
Most I cannot.
What’s in that engine? How does it work?
Will we go together – when we die?
He says he’ll never leave me, holding his small hand against my cheek.
Sincerity shines from his eyes and a kiss seals his promise.
And in his love I glow, and he in mine.
I love my Bowsie Boy till beyond the end of time.