Two Steps Forward

Some days in life just feel good.

You have a list of jobs to do and they get done, the sun shines and people smile or tiny moments in family life reassure you that as a parent you aren't doing too bad. I can sometimes find it all too easy to let these positive moments slip by, as if they just happened without any achievement on my behalf, whereas, days that are a struggle can easily be attributed to not trying or getting things right. Today though, I feel that I have moved two steps forward, not one step back in my life.

I received a wonderful email a little while ago informing me that a piece of flash fiction that I had entered into the Bridport Prize had been shortlisted. Now I realise it is no Man Booker Prize, but for me, it is such a boost for my confidence with my writing, it encourages me to keep learning, to keep moving forward with my writing. My 300 words were in the top 5% of nearly 1800 hundred entries. Someone read it, enjoyed it, felt it, and that means a lot. So, here it is for you to read too.

Conker Eyes

His dark brown eyes are round and wide, like the polished conkers we would hunt for in autumn. We sit. Memories ache my heart. Of him riddling the old stove, our clattering alarm call. Smooth-soled slippers slapped hard against his palm, causing me to leap the stairs giggling, before the bedtime story. He knows things about me that I will never remember. Now our roles are reversed.

The vast room is flooded with sunlight but it does nothing to rid the suffocating feeling. No clock upon the wall to watch, but while she is not here and it is just him and I, our precious time ticks too quickly away.

We are so close together our knees knock. Two tiny people in an unfamiliar, empty room. I've always thought I had his knees, certainly not her dumpy ones. Long gone, that feeling of sitting on those knees, clasping tight to his rough-knitted pullover that smelt of concrete dust and him.

I reach out for more than I can grasp, finding only his warm, familiar hands. Softer now than they used to be, when hard graft cracked the skin and callused the palm.

I let those conker eyes scorch their image on my mind. We have no talk of any great meaning, so we knock knees, hold hands, cry.

The door opens with a draft of cooling air. She walks towards us across the room. He turns to look, our moment gone.

I let go of his hand and stand.

It has been a mixed bag of weather, Scilly so often provides every season in one day. A calm silver-grey morning with just a hint of peachy light turned into a truly wild lunchtime, with rain lashed against the windows by a howling wind and thick fog. Fast forward a couple of hours and warm sunshine glowed in a clear bright sky, the blue reflected in a turquoise sea, crisp white-tipped waves rolling in with great gusto.

The high tides at the moment are really high, sweeping across the quay and pouring like a waterfall over the concrete obstacle in its way. I walk down towards the swirling water feeling as lively and bubbly as the sea, leap in a pencil jump, plunging into a cold world of blue and silver, a quick gulp of air and then a swim out into the bay. The sun, that now hangs low, golden and bronze in the sky, bounces on the waves and almost blinds me when I look westwards. As I dive and tumble turn, over and over and over, all I can see are thousands of green and silver bubbles, popping and fizzing around my body, in a magical moment of fairy tale freedom.

Remember to allow these fairy tale moments of happiness to belong to you as much as all the struggles that we encounter. Every step forward is one to remember.

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