As sleep welcomed her heavy limbs, thoughts raced around her subconscious and before long, she was drifting. Back to a place she fought to stay away from, but the fingertips of sleep drew her towards the dark and there she was, in the van’s front seat…
… her small legs straight out before her but still not long enough to reach the dashboard. Her pink patent shoes buckled up snuggly over white ankle socks with a frill. Uncle Tony had offered to take her to the party and her matching pink bag was on her knee, her favourite unicorm inside – she’d promised not to leave her behind. As they flew down the main road, Lucy watched the people in the cars they overtook, drivers tapping against steering wheels and some animatedly talking to others in their cars, they were miming like old Mrs Wilson got them to do at school. She giggled.
‘That’s a pretty dress Lucy.’ Tony was looking at the dress rather than the road ahead.
‘I got it from a friend across the street. It was too small for her.’ instinctively she straightened the hem across her thin thighs, the edge resting above her knees. She probably wouldn’t be able to wear it again herself as she was growing so tall.
‘What is the material?’ he left hand reached down to take the hem and he rubbed it between his fingers and thumb in small circular motion. ‘Nylon I think.’ he muttered to himself, staring far too long at her lap instead of the road.
Why would that matter, Lucy wondered. Strange for a man to know about materials – maybe he made things too. Lots of people made clothes Lucy had learnt and she was desperate to be big enough to work one of those sewing machines, the ones with the pedal underneath which looked like metal lace and behaved a little like a see-saw. Tony dropped the fabric, and it landed much higher up on her thigh and she flushed a little as she pushed it back down, wishing she had worn something different now.
Abigail’s party would be fun though. All her school friends were turning six now; Lucy had been the first to have her birthday and she had invited most of the group to the zoo for her treat. But it was now August and Abigail’s mum had said they could have a paddling-pool party.
Apparently there would be five, all filled to the brim. She couldn’t wait and was just thinking about where she should place the unicorn so she wouldn’t get wet, when the van slowed down and Uncle Tony took a turn off the main road.
She didn’t recognise this road but adults drove all the time and maybe he had a short cut in mind.
Soon there was a turning into some woods, a carpark with a picnic sign. Wooden tables with benches attached were dotted amongst the trees. Lucy was sure they didn’t have time for a picnic because the party started at eleven o’clock and the van’s digital clock said 10:45.
‘I am making party clothes for children, do you think this denim would be too rough and scratchy?’ Tony took her right hand and placed her pale fingers on his thigh. ‘Feel it like I did your dress; it’s the way designers decide about the clothes they make you know.’
‘Okay’ she did as she was told, while starting to wonder at his strange request. Maybe if she quickly did what he asked they could drive on to the party. That was usually what adults wanted; something in return for something else. She felt the denim briefly but snatched her hand away.
‘No, you didn’t feel it for long enough.’ He grabbed her hand more firmly and placed it in a different place, nearer to his pocket and pinched the denim into a fold to put between her own small shaking fingers which he forced closed with his own. ‘Just do this for five minutes and I’ll then take you to the party. You’re my top researcher!’ she wasn’t sure what a researcher was but it did sound important.
After a few seconds, his big hand pushed hers down and she felt his leg through the material. His hand felt hot and clammy and Lucy attempted to pull her hand back and she couldn’t stop the squeaky noise escaping from her throat.
His grip tightened over her hand and moved it round in a circle and she had no option but to follow the path he chose.
‘I want to go home!’ the words burst from her more loudly than she meant to but was immediately scared Uncle Tony would now be cross. He looked at her but said nothing. She pulled her hand again but he tightened his hold making her scream. Her left hand smacked the passenger window and the little unicorn fell from the pink handbag down into the footwell.
Almost immediately the door opened and a rush of fresh air filled the cab and Lucy felt her right hand released from its trap and turned to jump down. A woodland ranger in a green uniform stood in her way,
‘Hey missy, I heard you screaming, are you ok?’ instinctively he helped her land as Lucy made the move to escape her seat. He looked past her to the driver. ‘All ok here?’
‘Yeah I think a wasp freaked her’ Uncle Tony laughed ‘it’s flown out now.’
Lucy stood beside the van and shook her head at the man. She’d been taught never to talk to strangers but that people in uniforms could sometimes help. She noticed his walky-talky against his chest.
‘I don’t want to get back in there.’ her eyes searched his face for trust.
‘I think the wasp has gone.’ the ranger replied but made no move to help her back in.
The ranger was mumbling something into his radio as Lucy glanced at the ground and noticed the unicorn in the dirt. She crouched down to pick her up and then heard a scuffle on the other side of the van.
‘Was there a wasp?’ The kindly man sat on his haunches so he was at eye level and smiled,
She shook her head.
‘You’re ok now, what’s your name?’
Lucy held the unicorn up to him making sure it’s muzzle was facing him,
‘Spirit’ she whispered.
I just had to start with a GIF; I just love them and we haven’t enjoyed one for a while have we? Look at this baby’s face; that fascination with shapes on a cardboard page. Colours perhaps, faces which we all know babies zone in to from a very young age.
Our desire to hold and communicate with any form of reading material is born with us. Some let it slide and prefer instead to develop dexterity in other areas, such as my son. By four he could just about write his name when he started school, but give him a ball – rather than a book -of any shape or size, and he would hurl it through the air using his right shoulder for propulsion, aiming for and often making contact with some previously decided location on his horizon.
When he was two and his neat two-plaits big sister was at school, devouring the reading scheme books with ease (but who couldn’t catch a balloon from three paces), I took him out. Everywhere. I was determined the next generation of farmer in this family would not be shy of leaving the village boundary and I had two years of 9am-3pm alone time with him to lay the base of interest and intrigue in his mind outside the farm, while his dad did the Man of the Woods and tractors bits onsite.
I digress (never) because I was talking about reading and that spark of something – happiness maybe – we feel when we engage with words which strike a cord or make us laugh. Or cry in my case. I luurve a weepy (they know that 🙄 oh yeah).
You know when you’ve written a blog, a poem, a short story, 2000 words on your WIP (that would be nice… sometime, when you’re ready) you feel quite satisfied and sit back and press publish, or throw the phone to one side like it is covered in the plague and you ‘shalt no longer need it pray’
It’s that same part of our brain engaging which the baby has tapped into in the first GIF. When Mike writes about his old cars, for example, he relaxes. You can hear it. Well I can but I’m weird.
Joseph Beech, another clever blogger friend is also writing and has experienced that questioning thing which gets in the way. Check out his Part 1 of something he has dreamed up and I find rather fascinating. Joseph’s writing takes some concentrating but if you look, you will see depths and hidden whispers. Well I do, but I told you – I’m weird!
He and I were idly chatting yesterday about the possibility of starting a little reading club. Just a silky bit of literary chit chat fun, nothing pressured like wallcharts and marks out of ten.
We thought some of you might like to join in and read perhaps a chapter of a chosen book and all ‘meet up’ on a set day, across a 24hr span perhaps? To chat and share or thoughts on the same chapter.
It will be no pressure because usually there is a whole book to wade through and I just cba (as my daughter would text these days) when I’ve got really important things taking up my valuable time…. like my present rather sexy read; have I shown you? Sshhh … the main lead? He’s mine 🖤
I’m so excited – I sort of know the author!!! 😬🙈😍🥂. I am SERIOUSLY impressed with this author.. she has written a trilogy (this is the first) and self-published then. OMG .. I’ve just had genius on-the-spot idea … I shall invite her on for a guest blog spot .. yes!! Once I’ve finished this, ok? 💃🏼
Anyway, Joseph and I wondered if anyone would be interested in a chapter reading club… so here’s me asking you to let us know in my comments with a simple YES (preferably followed by an emoji because life is too serious without them) …
Book choice to be agreed – perhaps you could suggest some and we can pluck from a choice of 10.
Bagsy I bring the popcorn coz I like it sweet where those pieces have sat in the toffee a bit too long 😍
An amazing man.
A fellow blogger.
An loving husband and father.
A sufferer of anxiety.
A genius writer.
I WANT to see him finish his book 👏🏼
Last summer he wrote this humbling and deeply moving piece of writing which today has had me in tears, then giggling through them.
He likes to laugh. He needs to laugh. Go make him laugh …. oh, and Mike? You’re in a new reading group. Details to follow 🥂
Mike must have found this place … on occasions, as he is still very much here. I am honoured to have met him in this WordPress World and delight in all of his posts.
This post I share of his today he wrote over half a year ago. He reblogged it to on his own site a few days ago to remind himself how far he had come. A pat on the back from us all Mike 🥂
Mental wellbeing hurdles touch us at different levels at different times of our lives, sometimes only fleetingly and sometimes they hang around.
The fact we can openly talk about it and hold each others’ hands is the beauty of the internet 💻
(My bath water’s gone cold, but at least I didn’t drop the phone📞 but the skin on my toes is looking awfully shrivelled and messy 😖)
‘No hurry, honestly!’ read the text from at least two clients this morning when I informed them that their horse rugs were ready for delivery; washed, re-proofed and repaired by my own fair hand.
Man of the Woods always enjoys a snow challenge and offered to drive, and as the fields are too frozen for tractor work it made sense to give him something to do.
A clear rug workshop before Portugal will mean I can mentally relax and the monk at the temple would be proud of my forward planning.
I finished this little book last night – for anyone who missed this gem, here is Shoukei Matsumoto’s version of how to keep our lives more simple than modern-day perceptions may have us believe we should be living it.
While I shall take away a few wonderful tips from these pages, there are some major differences with how Shoukei lives his life to how I live mine.
For starters, all his housemates are trained to the same high standard and approach each day with an identical desire to clean, maintain and nurture.
My fellow monks wouldn’t know a dishcloth if it hurtled across the kitchen at eye level, slapping them in the face.
Unlike the temple monks who believe every item has a place and those items are indeed returned to that place after each use, my monks prefer to leave items within grabbing distance. So we have a black finger-marked bottle of Swarfega on the kitchen windowsill and I’ve learnt to ignore it. This is a farmhouse kitchen after all.
The country roads were surprisingly passable and the Isuzu Denver with it’s BFG ‘All-Terrain’ boots coped with the drifts we did find. None the size of those in Wales I see on the news tonight 🙈.
Very surprised but happy clients thanked me for my efforts. Ten years I have run this sole-trader business and customer service is very important to me. My clients know I will always try my best for them and their horse’s comfort and welfare.
And now it’s my turn… cup (or jug so I don’t run out) of milky tea, my laptop, the woodburner and an evening ahead of words… on the WIP.
The message I shall not forget from Shoukei is that being mindful of every single task we undertake will result in a clearer heart and mind.
I sent an emailing withdrawing membership from a local book club which I had not enjoyed for some meetings and the pressure I felt to complete the reads had niggled for some time.
Life is short, sometimes shorter than we assume. I wish to spend my non-business time doing tasks I enjoy. Blogging and chatting to you is one task I refuse to give up. I’ve only really started and I adore your company.
My book and it’s progression is another task I am enjoying and hope 2018 will see its first draft completion. I know you want me to do it and now I want to show you I can. A shared goal is a great driver – something Shoukei knows all about. 🌸
So agree with this … look after the new writers because we all wrote our first post once upon a time …. 🌸
Once upon a time I was a little blogging newbie who started a blog on WordPress with no clue what she was doing. I didn’t even know there was a WordPress Reader. I still remember the first time I clicked the READER button. I was like, what the hell is this??
Incredibly, I somehow made it to the 2.5 year mark, and I suppose that means I’m no longer a newbie, even though I still feel like one.
To say I love finding wee baby bloggers is an understatement. They are just so… innocent. And now I know why everyone was so nice to me when I started out. Baby bloggers are so damn cute.
I also LOVE making lists, which is why you are now going to read through a list of nine newbies who recently piqued my interest:
Hiding Behind Books
This author’s profile image is a unicorn. I’m already sold…
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Fellow blogger TheCeaselessReaderWrites
challenged me to continue his piece of flash fiction… eeeek! Can I do it justice?
I saw the knife and saw it move, catching a small amount of light on the blade as the hand of my boss lifted it high above his head.
I ducked, shrieking, and froze on my haunches. A deep roar made me jump and I waited for pain, waited to feel a burning slash in my back but nothing came.
Opening my eyes and focusing on the floor in front of me, only table legs were visible, no feet of a man. I raised my line of vision gingerly, nervous I was falling into a trap, the silence a false hope….