Now that I’ve submitted the third draft of my second novel, I have once again found my mind meandering to novel number three.
The scene that follows flashed into my mind when I read Sara’s prompt this week. It’s really not very cheery, I apologise. But, as these things often do, just writing it has helped me tease out some more details of the story…
It’s rough and ready and might not even make it into the manuscript itself, but I thought I’d share it anyway.
This was always the night of the year that she sensed his presence most strongly, and it was almost too much for her to bear.
She thought of their son, of course. Of the pain he had caused her as he had fought his way into existence. They had all said that it would be easier for her to handle, being so young. Her mother had refused to even begin to discuss it with her, and that had suited her just fine, but she’d never quite understood why the midwives hadn’t told her the truth.
The contractions had coursed through her body again this afternoon as she’d struggled to engage Year 10 with the themes of Henry V. More than once she’d had to grip her desk as she’d watched the minutes tick closer to the time when he’d been found.
She knew that it was not the memory of childbirth that had overwhelmed her.
Her colleagues knew nothing of her pain: knew nothing of him. She preferred it that way. She was certain of that, even if something in the deepest reaches of her soul sometimes called out for recognition, for acknowledgement.
She had no idea how they would react if she told them the truth.
So instead she bowed her head and complained of a headache. Of the time of the month. No-one questioned her – they tried to distract her from her agony with stories of their own, pushed paracetamol into her palm as if it might actually do some good. She took it gratefully before secreting it into the bin when no-one was looking.
Even now, alone in her flat with her cat nestled at her feet, she would do nothing that might push him away. There was a bottle of wine in the kitchen. That might have helped. She could have even scored some weed if she’d wanted to, sat with her back against the wall, knees raised and feet flat on the floor as she rolled a joint between them. Her downstairs neighbours had offered often enough.
But she owed it to him to be here, to be present as he was. She owed it to him to feel every molecule of her being shrink, raisin-like. She owed it to him to fully inhabit the gaping holes between those molecules as she searched for him, again and again.
Tears ran freely down her cheeks as she carefully undressed, folding her clothes neatly on the chair by the window. Her pyjamas were waiting cautiously underneath the pillow and she slipped into those now, trying to ignore the silent dripping of saltwater against the wooden floor.
After plunging the room into darkness she scurried beneath the duvet, making herself as small as she could to disguise the shuddering sadness that consumed her.
If you’d like to read more about this story you will find further glimpses here: