Every break from class
I rush to the computer
and pray for wickets.
Hey all. It’s getting towards the end of the month and there’s only two posts up. Why? Well, excuses are lovely things, but the only one worth spouting is it’s the dreaded time of year where I have to write reports, and while they’re not too onerous a task, they’re mind-sapping.
The above haiku was a silly one I threw together about today. For the first time, well, ever, I’m making the effort and paying attention to the Ashes (giant up-to-25-day cricket competition between the best two teams, England and Australia). This was written during a day of Australia batting, of course.
Before we get to the story, I’m making a new Category in the side called “Haiku”. I know Haiku are poems too, but I’m going to class them differently so it’s easier to find the haiku if you’re looking for them.
So, I’ve got some Flash Fiction for you today. It is, strangely, a sequel to Tomatoes, although that’s not apparent by any character names, or by the narrative voice, or location…. or anything. It has the same source material; my grandmother, telling me stories from when her grandchildren were just little. She has a natural gift for storytelling, and perhaps this has something to do with her being born a Ridgwell (there, the “original” spelling of my pen name). It’s called:
Aunt Wendy’s New Home
You don’t remember? Well, this story is the type you always liked the best – it’s one about you.
You were seven at the time – an impressionable age, as you’ll see. We put you and both your brothers in the car and drove over to Aunt Wendy’s new house. I went with your mother, because we thought that, if there’re going to be five little boys running around, having a grandmother there too would make things easier. And anyway, I wanted to see Wendy and her two boys too. Though she isn’t by blood, Wendy has always been my family, because of who she is to her children. I needed to know how she was dealing with the divorce.
For you, the divorce had barely been discussed. Uncle Chris and Aunt Wendy were going to live apart. We’d made it very clear to you that they were still friends… they just didn’t love each other any more. You’d listened, and taken it in in your quiet way… added it to what you knew.
Of course, you’d never seen them fight, or argue, like their children had. So your frame of reference was only what we told you. And your mother and I had agreed on everything you were to be told. Children need to know these things, and they need to be told properly, that’s something I’ve always believed in, it’s how I brought up your mother as well.
So, we drove past the old farm house and on to the next town. You all gaped out of the window at this new road, a new path, all the little cottages and tall tenements, not knowing which of these hundreds would house your cousins… not just house them, but be their home. They wouldn’t live at the farm house with Uncle Chris? No, but they would go there sometimes. Would you play with them there? Well….. sometimes. But you wait ‘til you see the new home they have!
And we’re there, and you’re all in through the door, and there’s a whole ten seconds – a lifetime for a child, as you looked around the dimly lit living room floor. Dark walls, dark carpet, and already crisps on the floor around the boxes of all their things, and there was Wendy, tired but smiling – not… brightly…. Smiling cleanly, I suppose you could say. But those 10 seconds passed as your cousins burst in and then it was games. For you boys, it didn’t matter where you were, there would be games with your cousins. There was a tour of the house to follow.
And this is where you were different from your brothers. They ran ahead with their cousins, rushing from new room to new room. Proudly showing off their bunk beds, and the video games from their father. Already a sense of hushed awe about Wendy’s room, a room to herself, the boys hardly ever went in, so you all just looked in through the doorway. You went to each room too, but lingered outside them all after everyone had rushed to the next one. Downstairs, Wendy drew mugs out of cupboards for your mother and me, as we worked through our own awkward feelings at the changes. Wendy and your mother had gotten married at the same time, had kids at the same time, spent so many summer days together with you boys… that first tea was a cautious one, to see how everything stood.
The garden then – small, brown and patio. Wrong time of year for flowers, and for seven-year-olds, flowers were a problem to be avoided anyway. But nowhere to play football, your brothers said. For years, the big farm garden, the veg patch, the tall pine trees as goals…. Now, one bush and a stained brown gate? The football just looked out of place there.
But it was OK. If you could cross the road safely and get through the fence on the other side, it was only a short path to a place you could play. So it was get the shoes again, and have a drink before you go.
It was at this point your mother spotted you. She was always looking out for you, had watched you more than I had. A mother’s instinct, she’d not helped with the shoes but moved over to the little storage room. The grey daylight shone through the little top window, and under the shelves of tins and the smell of detergent, you were next to the whirring washing machine, looking in a nearly empty cupboard. She came into the room and closed the door. Crouching down to your eye level, she saw your sad face, saw the trouble in your eyes, saw the question.
“Is this what happens to families?”
And she wrapped you in her arms and fought back the tears.
“…. Sometimes, honey. Sometimes it does.”
“But don’t worry. Your Daddy and I love each other very much. And we’re never going to live in separate houses. Never ever.”
You pulled away from the hug, and wiped your little hand sideways across your nose.
“I think I’ll go play football now.”
And you were off like a shot.