To Be loved.

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A short story inspired by someone I don’t deserve.

‘Son, you’ve a face that only a mother could love.’ That’s what she used to tell me, anyway.  Mother wasn’t being unkind, just honest. I suppose she didn’t want to set me up for a fall. Maybe it was her way of saying that she did love me, though I’d have preferred just to hear it. When expectations are set low like that, you can live within their parameters quite happily. As long as you don’t presume anything above yourself, it’s hard for life to disappoint.

I never fell, not until I met you, then my heart fell like a stone; heavy, fast and furious. It still shocks me to think of it, because you were not my kind. I’m a lady’s man – or at least I thought I was. That’s where I’d have looked, until you. And then, there you were.  Your hair was dark, pitch black and so glossy I could almost see my reflection in it. You approached me first, brazen over-exuberant with the confidence of youth. I hadn’t expected it, but then I hadn’t expected any of it. You were so young, so new.

That’s all gone now. Tempered by the years, you are more cautious, you’ve learnt that not everyone is worth knowing. We both have. That night you planted your flag on me and placed me at the centre of your world. You decided to love me; ugly face and all.

For all these years we’ve kept each other close. You are my defendant, even when I don’t need defending. Oh, how grand love can be when it’s done right. Do we do it right? I doubt it. I’ve never been shown how; I am like a blind man grappling in the dark trying to work out the lay of the land. I take you for granted. I get irritated when you seem to need me too much, days can pass when I hardly give you a second glance. I have all these decades-worth of flaws that you must try and smooth out of me. I have learnt they can puncture love if I’m not careful.

They say opposites attract and that’s true of us. You always prefer a walk to my more sedentary tendencies, you are bold whereas I am timid, you are popular and enjoy company whereas I am happy in our solitary confinement.  Our interests are poles apart, in fact the only common denominator we have is that we enjoy spending time together. We are each other’s favourite pastime. And that has been enough to sustain us all these years.

You have such faith in me, in my work. When I torment myself with self-doubt you only have to look at me and I see your conviction; your stupid, uncomplicated, dedicated belief in me. Sometimes the pedestal that you have me on angers me. To be adored is a precarious state to live in; one can only disappoint. It’s the fall my mother tried to save me from. Why have you always thought so highly of me?  Forgiven me so readily, believe that I am so deserving of your love, when I am not. I am not. I could never be. I am impatient, and selfish. I take you for granted, I scold and rage at you.  If I could only be half the person you think I am.

I need you to know, that I know, I don’t deserve your love. I never have. A single part of it is greater than the whole of me. I want you to know before it’s too late because I cannot believe that it’s almost over; that you, that we, are now so old. It’s true then, that love makes time grow wings and fly because it seems like yesterday when we first met. And yet here we are; both of us greying, our skin slack and lacking the plumpness of youth, our edges sharper somehow. Me with a bad foot, you with a sore leg.  But at least we’re still together. Always together.  We’ve made it through whatever life has thrown at us. We’ve kept our unwritten promises to love and care for each other till death us do part. To have found one another amongst a sea of billions. Some people live a lifetime without finding what we’ve got. We’re the lucky ones. You are the truth I accidently uncovered, but had always known existed.

Even after all these years when you look at me with those hazel brown eyes, something slackens inside me. I can feel my threads unravel and I can’t help but love you back. You make me want to try harder, be better. Sometimes my mind fast-forwards to the inevitable day when you will leave me. And I feel my heart constrict at the thought and all my breath gets caught in the upper part of my chest and I swallow to try and get rid of the feeling, but it doesn’t go away. And my heart pulses fast and hard so I feel it reverberate in my chest. Everything becomes physical – the actual thought of you dying, of me having to say good-bye, having to put you in the cold damp earth has an immediate physical affect. The thought of life without you is impossible. Without your goodness, without your love to soften me up I will be horrible; mean and cantankerous. No one else will want to speak to me and I will not want to speak to anyone else. I will be alone.

I only ever give these imaginings air for a moment and then I banish them. I shake my head to physically dislodge them because I cannot face it. I cannot face the truth that, one day, death will separate us. People will avoid me, they will suspect me, they will put down their heads and walk past me. I will be alone. More alone that I have ever known. What will become of me when I am just an ugly old man, instead of an old man with his dog. My best friend. My love.

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Eight weeks later.

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Hello again. Apologies for my absence, though maybe you didn’t notice I’d been away? A LOT has happened in the intervening eight weeks since my last post. I’ve had the highest highs and a pretty ugly low – but that’s life – right? Most importantly I’ve turned a decade. I’m writing to you from way over here on the other side of the chasm of thirty-nine – can you still hear me? Joking aside, do you know what? It’s not so bad, not so bad at all. (Though admittedly it is early days!)

Autumn has left us (what a fabulous Autumn it was!) and winter feels like it’s well and truly here. Anyone else just want to drink wine and eat chocolate? I feel so blessed to be warm and cosy in our new forever home. I’m getting myself back into the routine of writing again after all the upheaval of our house move and it feels really good to be back at my laptop. I promise not to be so tardy in the future. I’ve got assignments for Uni and I want to put the finishing touches to my second novel ready to submit to my agent in the New Year: no more procrastinating!  Next week I have a treat for you cause I’m going to be interviewing a real-life friend that has become a real-life published author. So exciting! @Lesley_Allen_ is proof that publishing dreams do indeed come true and I’m going to ask her all about it and then tell you. (Also her book is a heart-breakingly good read) ‘The Lonely Life Of Biddy Weir’ is available at all good book shops. Have a read and let me know if you have any specific questions you want me to ask.

In the meantime I’m going to try and live up to this ‘Be the person your dog thinks you are.’ A fab birthday present that will take pride of place on my study wall (once I get moved in!) And if you know my dog (s) that’s a tall order!!

 

 

Human boys and puppy dogs.

IMG_5252If you follow me on social media thingys you’ll have seen that we’ve a new addition to our family in the form of a Weimaraner pup. (Because trying to pull together a second book, look after two boys and oversee a house renovation is not enough -I only have myself to blame!) But hopefully it will explain why I’m taking the approach of motherofalllists this week and complied bullet points on the similarities I’ve noted between pups and young boys:

 

  • They love food.
  • They pee everywhere.
  • They love to play.
  • They’re really sleepy when you wake them up.
  • They give the best cuddles.
  • They’re incredibly cute.
  • They love Mummy (see point 1 as it’s usually Mummy i.e. me who supplies the food – I’m not stupid, I know there’s a connection – I think it even extends to my husband!)
  • They know their name, but choose to ignore it at will.
  • They’re noisy.
  • They’re irritable.
  • They grow very fast.
  • Sometimes they don’t understand ‘No’ as an answer.
  • When they choose not to understand ‘No’ as an answer they whine – a lot!
  • They need praise for going to the toilet.
  • They’re exhausting.
  • They enjoy the simple things (see point 1 and point 3 ).
  • They’re fun.
  • Sometimes they need a short lead, sometimes they need to run free.
  • They both have keys to my heart.

A Life Less Ordinary.

I’ve fallen from the blogging wagon lately. I have failed to juggle children, summer holidays, a husband, and well basically, my life with blogging. Forgive me. Like a lot of people I try to do too much. I’ve always enjoyed an active lifestyle, I love yoga, running, cycling, I’d like to complete a triathlon some day soon, I enjoy cooking and as chief chef I take a keen interest in providing healthy meals for my family, I have a bunch of wonderful and varied friends, I love going to concerts, theatre, the cinema, I study Spanish sporadically, the dog always needs walked and I do like to have the odd conversation with my husband!

The thing is, all of these are at odds with writing. Writing involves spending long periods of time alone, in front of a computer, or reading. It requires stillness. And I actually love this too. My life is a constant juggle of juxtapositions, it is a life less ordinary because YOLO ( new word for the day = you only live once. It’s actually in the dictionary!) So, the dawn of September and the start of school means I have regained some time and I decided I needed professional help so I’ve enlisted in a ‘Blogging and Beyond’ course with E.R.Murray to help me organise my social media life! Hopefully my blogging is about to get a whole lot better.

imageMeantime, I’ve re-entered the worm-hole that is my second novel. Turns out it needs a bit of an overhaul; queue tears, tantrums and the general feeling that I’m climbing up a very long, steep and rocky mountain in bare feet without food or water! This is the endurance test of my life, luckily (or not), I have a severe stubborn streak and I’m determined to finish it, properly. It’s got me thinking that perhaps tenacity, and not talent is the main ingredient when it comes to being a writer? What characteristics define you and help you to achieve your goals?

Letting Go.

So, yesterday I handed over my MS to Averill Buchanan, a highly recommended editor, who will use her fresh eyes to clean it up and get it ‘agent ready’ for me in the autumn. I told her there should be blood stains on it, cause that’s what it feels like to have written it. (I did actually say that. She looked suitably alarmed.) I do feel a fulfilling, pat-myself-on-the-back sense of achievement, but at the same time I feel panic. What if she thinks it’s crap? What if it doesn’t make sense? What if I have to go back to the drawing board? What if, what if…

And then, to be honest, amidst the panic I’ll look at this face and probably have a cuddle.

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Now, if that’s not a face of faith I don’t know what is! He’s been with me every word of the way for eight years and if he thinks I can do it… I might just pull it off.

N.B. I did warn you he’d feature a lot. It’s not right to have favourites but…