Friday Fictioneers – The Truth Fairy

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Photo courtesy – Sandra Crook

The Truth Fairy

Word count:  98

Lily stood, wondrous. Her mother had assured her that the tales were true; fairies did live beneath that stump in the woods, but Lily considered herself too old to believe in her mother’s “fairy” tales.

After her Mother died suddenly, Lily walked in the woods alone; memories of their time together trailing like gold dust. Perhaps it was the beam of sunlight on the stump that made Lily pause on the bridge; she’d never be sure, but there they were – hundreds of fairies waving. Lily stood, wondrous. She wept; wishing she had believed sooner.

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As You Are

My daughter is going swimming with her classmates every Wednesday for the next four weeks.  It stirred memories of a time when I was in my teens, and on a similar outing with my schoolmates. Swimming with classmates wasn’t a usual occurrence so being on view to everyone in very little clothing was embarrassing.  I wore a bikini, in which I felt wholly uncomfortable, as if my body was simply a mannequin. Certainly my soul had shrunk into the darkness of a tilted awareness.

In those days, I was aware only of my pale skin, my thin ankles, of the knobby bones on the backs of my feet, of the bump in my nose, and my hip bones. Parts of me magnified by my peers and reflected onto my already shattered self-esteem. I remember sitting at the side of the pool, arms huddled around my waist in an effort to appear smaller, less noticeable. The only reason I had bought the bikini was because my next door neighbor had one in the same design but in nicer colors; blues and purples. I coveted hers whereas the colors of mine were like true leopard spots and I didn’t really like it; I felt exposed.

Growing up, I’d ask my Mum if I was pretty, and she’d always reply that I wasn’t chocolate box pretty, like Lisa Miles, who was classically pretty and popular, but that was it.  No explanation as to what “chocolate box pretty” meant.  It took me a long time to grow into my face; like an ugly duckling. I was never convinced by my Mum’s words. Not that she meant any harm, perhaps she didn’t really identify with my teen self. There’s a whole story there about generational happenings but I won’t go into that.

So, my daughter comes to me this morning in her swimsuit which is a little low cut in the front but is okay for an eight year old. I make sure it still fits since it’s winter and the last time she wore it was in the summer. It fits just fine but she tugs at the top and is concerned about revealing the freckle on her chest. I give her a big hug and tell her that it’s beautiful. That she’s beautiful. From the brown fleck in her iris, to her chest freckle; it all makes her unique and gorgeous. She gives me a big hug and skips away.

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Among the benefits of age is wisdom. I’ve grown into myself so much that I’m able to accept the bumps and bony bits as part of me, and I love them because they make up the whole, and that whole is pretty amazing. In a world where judgments lurk in the shadows on magazine covers, or commercials, or on social media, it’s important for my daughter to know that she is wonderful just as she is. She may not be chocolate box pretty but I would never tell her; it would be a chink of doubt in her otherwise fierce soul. She needs to know for herself that she is beautiful no matter what marks or quirks she has, and no matter what her peers may tell her. And if I can help build her esteem then I will tell her truthfully that I think every single cell in her body is absolutely wonderful.

My son is a little harder to convince but I’m working on that.

The Last Day

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When I was fifteen, a clever boy was killed. His name was Graham. He was smart, and funny, and creative. And would have grown into a fine, young man. On his way to school, so the story goes (because schools are rife with rumor), he crouched down to tie his shoelace at the side of the road and failed to look either way when he was done and ready to cross. He was hit by a car. Not far from his home. He survived on life support for a few days. Our year (grade) was quietly a-babble with speculation; teenagers wondering, simmering, huddled in groups sharing what little they had gleaned from this person or that person who knew him, or knew the family.

Then the day arrived when we were told, finally, concretely, that Graham had passed.

For most of us it was new territory. Certainly, some had felt the brush of loss and death with an elderly family member, or a pet and possibly, a few had had more intimate experiences. But, as a collective we had never lost one of our own. It was as if someone had detonated a silent bomb and we were left reeling, flailing in the aftershock.

I will never forget the day that our year, the whole year, all roughly 250 of us, walked to the village church from school. It was such a mark of respect, and love for Graham, to all go together. What a sight we must have been to anyone driving by on Church Hill; a maroon snake with white shirts, white socks and ties fluttering. Personally, and I have since discovered that this is common, I felt a mild hysteria, and couldn’t suppress several giggles during the route. But, once inside that little church, I cried.  I sat next to Nicola, Jo and Sandra and we all wept. I still remember when his coffin was carried down the aisle; it seemed unreal, unfathomable to us all.53457896543

The next day, a few of us sat on a back field with a very cool music teacher whose name I completely forget. He played his guitar and tried to help us be at peace with our feelings. He said, and I recall this clearly even if not his name: “A funeral is like a full stop to the whole thing.”

Today was my friend Ken’s Full Stop Day. There’s been some time since the day he died until now, and in that time, emotions evened out and waters calmed. Today, I have opened myself to mourning one more time, allowed the melancholia to sift around, not in judgment or battle, just letting it be what it needs to be.

Tomorrow is a new day. Profoundly, Ken’s death has shown me what is most important to me and as my life moves on, I tuck him away in my heart (which he never really left) and make a heartfelt vow to treasure more of the souls I love.

Friday Fictioneers – A Royal Past

Photo courtesy - Sandra Crook

Photo courtesy – Sandra Crook

A Royal Past

Word count:  100

The Duchess got out of bed against doctor’s orders. With knobbled fingers, she gripped around the room until she got to the window. There, she watched the village below; modern cars, modern women, and if she craned her neck she could see the farm boundary.

She nodded slightly, and a slow smile creased her aged eyes; the Duchess had known many a farmhand in the barns as a young woman. That recklessness had earned her a lifetime of solitude by the Queen, and though she may have been denied her passions, memories of every encounter lived on in her heart.