Life

It’s strange how life can move in a circle. Today I found myself wanting, no needing to write. But I am working on a large project – a book – and that wasn’t it. I wanted to do something short… Something flash-like.

So I decided to go for a daily prompt. I may even do another tomorrow… In fact I probably will. So here it is:

Fifty

I hit the big five zero… It arrived unexpectedly. One minute I am twenty and the next fifty. Maybe I noticed a few aches and pains. Maybe I was slower to get up in the morning…

Maybe I wasn’t paying attention.

Then the card.

From a family member. A child of a distant aunt. Distant in miles and in blood. I have a feeling that the aunt was only by marriage. I shake my head and stare at the big numbers on the front. At first I’m in denial. There is no way I’m that old. I shuffle over to the calender, the one hanging behind the door to the kitchen and stare at the date. I really am fifty.

The phone rings.

The noise hurts my ears for a moment and I lunge for the machine just to shut it up.

“Yes?” I’m surprised at the rasp in my voice. When had I last spoken?

“Happy Birthday!” a cheery voice screams at me down the phone.

For a moment I’m silent and then I let out a quiet ‘thank you’, it seems they are waiting for some sort of reply.

“Granma?”

I close my eyes for a moment and a child skips through my vision, a smile on her face and a sparkle in her eyes. Then I see her screaming at me, her face contorted into hate and her fists rigid at her sides.

I say nothing. I can’t.

After a moment I hear a muted voice. “Is she saying anything?”

My daughter. I’d know her voice anywhere.

“No,” says the child, a girl and so unhappy that I can hear the tears.

“Give me the phone.”

There is a sort of shuffling sound and then my daughter is on the line. She is crystal clear and I wonder if she lives close by.

“Mum?”

I swallow. I never thought that you could get a frog in your throat. Not really. But here I am with one and I can’t get past it.

“Mum?”

I open my mouth and I force myself to speak. “Yes…” It doesn’t sound like me. It sounds like an old person. But, as I look at the card in my hand with its harsh pink and yellow balloons, I realise that I am. I’m old.

“I know we parted on bad terms…” My daughter pauses. “But I think Lauren needs to know you.”

Lauren… the baby’s name was Lauren. It had been my mother’s.

“Yes.”

“Mum, do you want to know her?”

That was the question. Did I want to know the child that my daughter had birthed without me and against my wishes? I did but I knew I would have to say the words. That I was wrong.

I’m not sure I can. Was I wrong? Was my daughter happy?

That was the question that kept me up at night.

“Are you happy?” I blurt it out, my voice strident and harsh. It isn’t a question it is a demand.

“Mum…” she sounds resigned. “Yes, I am happy. No I’m not on the bread line. I have a job and a daughter. We are fine, but I want my child to know you.”

I wait only a minute. “Yes.”

“Okay.” I can hear the surprise in her voice. “Can we come around?”

I close my eyes for a moment and look around the room. All the things I own. The beautiful ornaments and the glass. “Is she accident prone?”

I ask it without thinking. It is something I always told my daughter she was. Knocking into things and breaking them.

“Oh Mum…” there is true sadness in her voice. Then a dial tone.

I take the handset from my ear and look at it. I shake it. I place it back to my ear. The tone is dull and continuous.

I like my things. I don’t want them to be broken. I see the child that had been my daughter again as if the past were haunting me. She skips across the room and I wince at the things she could harm. Maybe it would be best if I met Lauren out. Away from home.

Smiling I place the phone back to my ear. “We can do lunch?” I’d heard that term from the telly. I congratulate myself on being so slang savvy.

The tone answers me.

“That’s great,” I say. “Ring me when you are free.”

Smiling I place the receiver down and look at the card. It is cheap and will stand out against the crystal. I have no need to keep it. Moving into the kitchen I toss the offending card into the bin. At least the recycling will reuse the vile thing.

Reaching under the sink I pull out the box. Carefully I take out the polish and the cloths. Today was a big day. My birthday. A good deep clean would be in order. Slowly I start, wiping at the dust that is so fine you can’t see it.

The next book

tunnels

The next kids book is almost ready to be let loose on Kindle and in paperback. It has been more scary doing the kids books than the adult ones. It’s taken me a little by surprise but at the same time I have loved putting them together and writing them.

tunnels

Today’s doodle and news

prosthetic eye2.

I spent most of today putting up an exhibition in Tregaron’s Memorial Hall. It is a group one so my three pieces are there with a table filled with books and cards. Only trouble is that for the first time I had to bail before all the art was up – my eyes are really bad today. And painful. This infection doesn’t seem to be going.

Still, tomorrow I’m looking after the exhibition so if you are around, pop in and have a look-see…

Memorial Hall, The Square, Tregaron SY25 6LL

The work will be there from the 19th to the 29th of August 2016 so if you are passing then nip in. Tomorrow (or the next day) I will post some images of what it looks like.

And yesterday’s doodle…

The prompt was ‘prosthetic eye’ so who else should I draw other than Mad Eyed Moody…

prosthetic eye2.

He is available on Zippi and Society 6.

Today’s doodle

pickpocket3.

I haven’t been feeling great and it turns out I have a nasty eye infection. Today I saw the eye-doctor and he has said it will all get better. And I was cleared for using my eyes, even though the left isn’t focusing properly. So today’s doodle is okay but not my best.

The prompt was ‘master pickpocket’.

How could I think of anyone but Fagin…

pickpocket3.

It isn’t bad but I decided to try some colour…

pickpocket2.

It’s better but I’m still not pleased. But still, it is today’s doodle.