Sad Cats And Mournful Mummys…

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“Perhaps if I just wait a little longer… “

Well, that’s it. Another Easter holiday over – Alex was back from university and it was wonderful to see him and have him home, although the time passed too quickly. I saw him off at the train station, doing my best to choke back tears… ( I do cry a lot anyway… even adverts can set me off…) and returned home to a row of accusing faces.

Ting and Charlie had actually started running towards me, but when they saw I was by myself, they stopped. Abruptly.

Oh. He’s gone again… might just go and check this corner of the garden – just in case…”

Ting is particularly persistent in her search for Alex, looking in completely ridiculous places that he wouldn’t even hide in if he were here – like behind the rubbish bin… in my handbag… the laundry basket… behind the books on the shelves… and all the time she will maintain a constant chat:

Oh – not under here…wahhh! So sad… perhaps here? Naa-oohhh! Where’s he gone, Mummy?!”

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Sad sunshine Siamese… 

Charlie reclaims Alex’s empty bedroom as her throne room and gradually the cats come to accept that he really won’t be back for a while. And Lily starts bringing the mice in again….

Uh-oh the sensible one’s gone off – better start providing for the older couple, they just don’t have a clue…”

Motherhood is a funny old thing. To be honest, I never expected to be a mother and I hated being pregnant… what is it about the pregnancy bulge that gives random strangers leave to come up and lay their hands on you?! But once your children are out in the world, it’s a constant worry… an ache… like prodding a gap in your mouth where a tooth used to be with your tongue.

Before Alex left, we were waiting at the bus stop to catch the bus into town for his train when a young woman we both knew who had recently had another baby, the older child now being about three, stopped to chat.

We talked about our respective children’s doing, an older lady overhearing and joining in the conversation – her son was in his last year at university – and we all shared that one common thing. Just how much we will and do miss our children when they have to go away, and I felt a lovely moment of unity, joined with these other mothers, proud of our children, missing them, yet supporting them all the way.

In conclusion then, on behalf of mothers everywhere (and their sad cats) I would like to end on an extremely relevant message…

Will you PLEASE remember to text me when you get there so I know you’re all right!”

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“Do you have an appointment?”

Goodbye xx

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Fly fast, little bird

It won’t take long –

Not now as your wings are strong

Full of joy

And eyes so bright –

Hurry home by angel’s light

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Walter and Lulu are waiting for you

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                               xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx LUCKY xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

                                       24th August 2008 ~ 26th March 2018

Monster

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Ahh. That time of year again. The crispness of approaching winter in the air, a relief after the slop of soggy leaves underfoot. A sinuous mist that hung and curled, cat-soft around the corners of the city streets.

The veil is thin at this time of year, and as he thought, so he stretched his wings, the grimy sandstone rippling into leathery life. He turned his head, grating and grinding. Perhaps a good year to fly, although the last time he had ventured forth was when good King Richard ruled. He had seen what had passed since and decided, yes, a good night to fly.

Creaking and stretching he extended one scaly leg to his left, balancing, then – away. His powerful wings beat away the layers of time that had settled like a second skin and carried him up. Up, and over the city.

He noted how it had grown, the small mean buildings had given way to brick built structures and gleaming glass towers, far more splendid than his own humble church. Surely these splendid buildings were houses of happiness and joy, and his stony heart swelled with the thought that people had discovered how to live together with love and kindness.

But as he flew, silver threads of thoughts and scenes drifted up to him. He saw:

young men, reeling, drunk

girls, staggering, vomiting

children, crying in pain and fear

dogs whimpering in fright

women, weeping in the cold

And then. He saw a tall man, bending over the body of a woman. He paused, outside the window of the house. He watched, as the man delivered one final punch to the woman’s face, and as he stood upright he licked the blood from his knuckles with relish and saw the silent watcher at the window.

Their eyes met and held and the watcher knew fear, the spine creeping chill of evil and despair. He let his wings carry him away from those eyes, cold and stony dead.

Now who’s the monster

Trapped

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She was the most beautiful thing in the world to him. She couldn’t believe her luck when he looked at her and chose her. He made her feel special with his attention, as he paraded her in front of his friends, remarked upon her intelligence and complimented her.

Previously unliked by men and women both, she bloomed under his guidance. The few friends she had carefully cultivated, the ones who liked her kindness and welcomed her company did not meet his standards. Under his secret sneers and uncomprehending gaze they lost heart and withered away from her. Puzzled but happy, she accepted their gradual withdrawal and instead immersed herself in her new love.

She joyfully signed away her independence, trusting to her new love to keep her safe. The door of his house closed behind her, implacably, impermeable, impregnable.

She quickly learned. A place for everything and everything in its place. Clean and tidy by nature, she realised she must not clean and tidy, without first informing him of her intentions and replacing things exactly where they were. She quickly learned. Fond of reading and music, she realised she must not read in his presence as he required her full attention, every minute of every day. She restrained her love of music until she knew she was alone in the house, and danced, summoning the joy she dimly remembered from months past.

Her intelligence, once an asset, became a burden. Once praised, now ridiculed. She quickly learned. She stifled independent thought and individual opinion. Crushed them down until they crumbled away. Told she was stupid, she began to believe. Told she was untrustworthy, she began to doubt. Told she was pathetic, she began to die.

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Empathy for a Pepper

It lay on the road, as fat and round as and redly shining as Henry VIII on one of his better days. It was a beautiful example of its kind, the standard red bell pepper, its skin smooth, taut and unblemished, the sunlight striking a gleam off the perfect globes of its bottom. Its stem curved proudly upwards, strong and green, still bearing the mark of where it had been snapped from its mother plant. It was the very pinnacle of pepper perfection.

And yet it lay on the road. My son and I saw it as we were walking to my mother’s house and pondered upon its fate. Perhaps it had been destined to become part of a fluffy yellow omelette, shards of pepper glistening amongst the egg, like rubies cushioned on yellow velvet. Maybe the person who bought it was going to make a healthy salad for their family, dicing its firm flesh into symmetrical cubes to add brightness to the green of lettuce. Possibly it was bought to add mild heat and flavour to a curry, lovingly crafted by a woman for her husband, part of a carefully planned romantic evening for two without the kids.

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And yet it lay on the road. I don’t know what cruel hand of Fate had plucked it from its carrier bag or why its purchaser had not stopped to retrieve it, only that its proud pepperness had not been diminished by this unseen turn in its destiny. I mentioned to my son that perhaps we should pause and rescue it, but both he and I had been very firmly taught from an early age that you do not pick food up off the floor. So we left it.

Later as we returned home, we noticed that the pepper had been run over by a callous car. Its insides were smashed into a foot long smear, fragments of skin embedded into the tarmac. Roadkill.

I felt awful and somehow guilty that I had not rescued the pepper and saved it from this undignified ending. It deserved better. Perhaps the moral of this is ‘waste not, want not.’ I don’t know. I only wish that I had stopped to pick the pepper up and let it complete its destiny in a more fitting way.

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Rose Quartz – stone of the heart for infinite love and compassion

All photographs Copyright © 2016 Alex Marlowe