Good morning everyone. It actually feels like almost the afternoon for us here in the H household. All that sunshine yesterday had my little H’s wiped out last night and they were in bed fast asleep by 6.30 p.m. Good times. Only problem with that was that they both awoke at 6 a.m. this morning. Bad times. But sure, the sun is shining – again! – and coffee is your only man on mornings like today. And here, I know that in Ireland we have a ridiculous propensity to talk about the weather, but can you believe we are getting sunshine two days in a row? First an earthquake and now the sun. We are becoming positively tropical!
And now enough about the weather, because there are far more important things to discuss this morning. Today is the LAST day to get your entries in for the fabulous Imagine, Write, Inspire Flash Fiction Competition.
If you have only stumbled across me today, here’s a catch up on what the whole shebang is about.
I’ll take entries up until midnight tonight, but after that the competition is closed!
Jacinta Owens is the writer behind this morning’s entry and she has written a beautiful, poignant piece, which I really enjoyed.
Enjoy the sunshine, please don’t be a mad Irish eejit and go out without any factor on & chat to you all later,
Truth and Daisies by Jacinta Owens
The breakdown didn’t come at first, at the point that she found out that John was dead. It wasn’t until a long time after – six months or so. It was a sunny day and she was in a brief and rare moment of unawareness that he was no longer living. A woman on a bike passed her in the park. There was nothing familiar about the woman, the bike or the park but there was something in the way that her short cardigan flew up softly in the breeze that reminded her that John was dead. The way the movement was so carefree taunted Marianne. She stopped in her tracks and thought about him. She never saw his remains and this was hard for her. People would say “remember him how he was” and she was comforted by stories from people who wished they had never seen the body of their loved one in a coffin or a morgue. But soon it became apparent that instead of thinking of his face the way she knew it, she could only imagine what it was like after the accident. In the absence of knowing, her brain insisted on filling in the blank.
She tried hard to imagine simple things: his forearm on a dining table, stretched out toward her, expecting her hand. The way he would tap the table and let his head slump down on his shoulder, like he had when they were teenagers. She gave chase to the memories but they always escaped her. She was remembering someone else. A film star, another boyfriend, the man in the corner shop who gave her change for the bus every day. She felt she was betraying him then and that was almost unbearable. Worse was the feeling that things would never be real again.
Even now, standing in the sunny park, everything was heightened and sharp and Technicolor. The blue of the woman’s cardigan was not merely blue, it was a special shade of cornflower and was the exact same colour as the picnic blanket she bought in Paris when her and John were on their first trip away. The grass was a shocking green, like she imagined as a child when her Mother played that Tom Jones song. Even her own skin looked like it wasn’t hers. Was it her mind doing this? Was there something else at work? Peace of mind was something she craved so badly she drove it away.
She noticed her legs were tired and realised her legs were extended and she was looking at her feet. How long had she been doing that? She couldn’t even remember sitting down on the bench. Days were filled with these moments of “coming to”. She noticed that there was a little girl sitting beside her with her legs outstretched too.
“Are you looking at your shoes?”
It took Marianne a long second to hear the question.
“Are you looking at your shoes or your legs?”
Marianne looked at the little girl’s legs hovering beside her own. She had a scrape here and there and green knees.
“My shoes I suppose” Marianne could hear herself answer.
“I’m looking at my legs.”
Marianne looked at the girl’s face, it was beautiful and kind and unaware of what was happening inside Marianne. She wished that the girl would never have to feel the way she felt at that moment, she wished it so hard the tears came to the lip of her eyes and wobbled there, deciding if today was a crying day.
“Let’s pick daisies!” the girl exclaimed in the middle of all the invisible drama. She grabbed Marianne by the hand and they went the short distance to a patch of grass iced with the soft white of daisies. The little girl slid her hand through the stems, picking swathes of flowers at a time.
There were several minutes of harvesting flowers before the girl was happy with her lot. She picked one up and passed it over to Marianne.
“Let’s play He loves me, he loves me not! Let’s play He loves me, he loves me not!”
Marianne felt her chest ache with longing. Her body had not yet decided if this was a crying day and the limbo felt like pain and weight and numbness all at once.
Marianne started picking off the petals. He loves me was easier. He loves me not felt like she was wrenching petals from her heart, each one proclaiming a doubt that she had not entertained when John was alive, but now had years ahead to contemplate. She looked at the girl, whispering to the flower, her little thumbnails green and juicy. Things can be simple again, can’t they?
Eyes squinting in the sunshine, the girl turned her little pink face toward Marianne:
“Do daisies tell the truth?”
She was holding a stem, bald all but one petal. Marianne thought about her answer. What was that petal? Was it love or love not?
“They tell the truth.”
The little girl plucked the petal.
“Daddy loves us, Mummy! Daddy still loves us!”
She jumped on Marianne and hung around her neck giggling and repeating it over and over. Marianne laughed and let those tears come. Something inside her leaned, softened, broke down, and the relief was as euphoric as joy. Things can be simple again, she thought, and she held her girl tightly among the daisies.
Jacinta Owens is a writer interested in the stories, voices and idiosyncrasies of the people around her. She is co-founder of the newly formed Back Lane Productions, which recently made a short film called “No Coins, Just Change” with ex-homeless participants of an inner-city Dublin Befriending Project.
She is originally from Tyrone but now lives in Dublin city.