Tag Archives: mothers


Sometimes, some nights, her hands fumble, she drops the matches and then she has to stand for a moment, regroup and then, slowly, carefully open the box, grip the new match tightly and light the candles, until they are all glowing inside the coloured glass jars.

And then she feel the children, her children, feels their presence, feels their breaths, warm on this cold night and for the first time that day, she is calm, able herself to breathe without feeling that there is not enough oxygen in the air.

She knows now, that if she is very still, very quiet, that she will, if she concentrates, be able to see them both, just out of the corner of her eyes and so, she stands and waits, willing them to come to her.

Her son is the first, his hair sticking up at impossible angles, face grubby, in need of a good scrub, a soak in the bath and afterwards wrapped in a towel, carried, a bundle of warm, still slightly damp small boy, to bed, his head, suddenly to heavy for him to hold, lolling against her shoulder….she pushes the thought away and instead feel his hand, almost holding hers.

She knows now, not to grab, sudden movements frighten them, send them away, but extends her fingers, one by one, feels almost the touch of his hand in hers and she sighs, risks a look down.

He is not looking at her, his eyes are fixed on the candle light, mouth open, his face glowing in the soft light and they stand together in silence, waiting.

Her daughter is still louder, still more, more drama, more presence, just as she was….before.
The candles flicker and then she is here too, standing next to her mother, face turned away, staring at the flickering night lights.

The pink t-shirt, new that day, seems too thin, inadequate for the chill of this autumn evening.
She wants to gather her up, warm her from her own body, but knows that this will send them away, will leave her here alone, with just the candles for company.

” look” she says into the night air ” I have brought you something” and she reaches, slowly, carefully into the carrier bag hanging on her wrist and brings out a small pink bear, glitter in its’ fur, sparkling in the candle light.

She places it on the ground and reaching into the bag again, she pulls out an impossibly large black plastic spider.

Before, before, she knows her son would have laughed, grabbed the toy, chased his screaming sister around the house, waving the spider in her face.

But now, the children stare straight ahead, all their attention focused on the lights, the movement of flame in glass.

She places the toys in the little pile on the ground.

Somedays, some evenings when she comes, a toy or two is missing and she needs to believe that the children have taken, to where ever it is they are now, have taken some comfort from them.

She shivers, her skin cold, knows she cannot stay much longer, knows that her husband, waiting for her in the car park, head resting on the dashboard, hands at exactly ten to two on the steering wheel, will, soon, appear on the other side of the street, no nearer, a mute presence and that it will be time to leave.

He has started talking about taking the candles, the toys, the coloured night light holders down, stopping this nightly vigil, but she allows the words to wash over her, floats through her days, waiting for darkness.

She looks down again at her children, their faces rapt, eyes shining, but not on her, never on her.
Carefully, she fans the fingers of both hands, almost, but not, touching theirs and then she leans forward and starts to blow out the candles.

She feels their howls of protest
“Not yet, not yet, we’re not ready”
And so she waits, leaves one candle burning,as she does every night and empty carrier bag flapping on her wrist, she crosses the road to join her husband.

The children do not acknowledge her leaving, they stand, close together, hand in hand, all their attention on the final, remaining flicker of candle light in the dark.


Have you seen this girl ?- On the night bus 9 – part 2

and apologies to anyone who was waiting for the second section of this story, it’s taken a little while to pull it together

There’ll be a list she thinks, probably a chart, maps, color coding, there’s always been a fucking list and even as she thinks about it, thinks about her mother and her bloody lists, her hands curl into fists and she lights another cigarette, smokes it defiantly with the windows closed.

Jasmine knows that what she is doing is cruel, beyond cruel and knows that she can fix it with a simple phone call, but the longer this goes on, the harder it is to simply pick up the phone.

Every morning, she wakes up, determined that today she will do it and every day some memory of home and her mother and the lists and the planning and the organising, surfaces and she doesn’t make the call.

Jasmine remembers her childhood, school timetable on fridge, color coded by her mother so that PE kit, cooking equipment, violin were never forgotten. She can see the family calendar, blue for her brother, pink for her, green for Dad, lists of Brownies, Scouts, music lessons, ballet, Karate, over-time and darts matches. Each one of them reduced to a series of coloured blocks, a catologue of busyness.

Her brother, her father simply bowed down to the tyranny of the lists, put their dirty washing in the separate baskets ready for washing on Tuesdays, stripped their beds on Fridays, hung up their ironed clothes on Wednesday nights.

Her brother tidied his bedroom on Saturday afternoons, having dropped his Karate suit into the special wash basket reserved for sporting kit and then collected his football kit, clean, ironed on Sunday mornings.

Her father washed the car on Sundays, consulted the home maintenance, gardening and DIY lists according to the season, month and day and plans his free time accordingly.

Jasmine fought against it, tiny rebellions, dropped her shoes, unpaired, in the porch and came home one day to find her mother had color coded the shoe racks, little pink, blue and green stars to indicate the proper home for footwear.

She tried to leave things behind,but her mother,eyes truly in the back of her head, always quick to notice a forgotten bag, a cooking box pushed into the far corners of the back seat of the car, would call her back, eye brows raised and a sorrow-ful shake of the head and the errant object pressed firmly into her hands before a hasty exit and a quick reminder of the evenings’ schedule.

Holidays were the worst, planned months in advance, researched, googled, every day an agenda of activity, goals, targets.
Breakfast at 8am, in the hire car by 9 and always a bloody list.

Jasmines’ greatest victory to date, before this one, the really big one, was to fail her A levels so dramatically that her mothers’ lists of universities, even the bottom 5, the really only worth looking at in an emergency, became irrelevant and Jasmine, joyfully, went to work in a hairdressers that operates a no appointment system and took delight in telling her mother, every day, that she had no idea what time she would finish work and sometimes, it was even true.

Jasmine hasn’t run away, Jasmine isn’t lost, Jasmine is having a lovely time, living in a flat with the gay boys, watching the dirty dishes mount up, building a fully functioning floordrobe and not worrying when they run out of tea-spoons.

When Jasmine thinks about it, which she is training herself not to do, not too often, she imagines herself existing on many data bases, web sites, super lists. She can see her mother, lips pursed, pen in hand, ticking off another activity, another avenue to explore and her finger, close, so close to pressing the green call button, retreats and she puts it off for another day.

It was Greggs’ fault really, this, this thing she is doing. His niceness, his politeness to her mother. He fitted right in, invited round for tea, barbe-ques and she could feel her mother measuring him against some other list and watching him and her dad on ladder, de-gunking the guttering, second week in April and a neat green tick and the date in her mothers’ writing against the task.

And Jasmine could see the next list, the folder, venues, flowers, ring designers, mood boards and she in the middle of another mother project, so, when Liam and Dan said they had new jobs in London, needed a third person to share the flat, she made her own list – Reasons to stay and reasons to go and then she read it carefully, went home in her lunch break, Wednesday, optimum clean ironed clothes day and packed and left.

She still has the list, folded up very small, tucked in the back of her purse, she takes it out sometimes, reads it and nothing has changed.

She is seriously considering posting it to her mother, maybe writing it out more neatly first, perhaps some color coding.

She hopes her mother will understand.