So, after 19 days in hospital, they finally decided to chuck Neil out; he’s still got a chest drain in, which a nurse comes to check on daily; hopefully that'll be removed in a couple of weeks' time. He’s slowly getting better, but has to exercise his will power and lay off smoking and drinking.
Here’s another story that started out as ‘writing practice’, which I’d planned on posting before Neil’s hospital adventure took precedence. I was dithering whether to post this or a folk tale … this ‘won’ as basically I couldn’t be bothered to find and decide on a folk tale.
She’s always ready with a smile and a kind word for anyone, be they friend or stranger. Her children call her their “happy mummy”, and when she tells them they are the reason she’s happy, they love her for it. Which makes her uncharacteristic displays of anger all the more potent … a ‘look’ and a quiet word are all it takes to cut through any bad behaviour. That part of her they call, “Mummy’s dark side”.
Her days are filled with similar things that fill the days of most stay-at-home mothers, though she much prefers enjoying time with her children than doing housework. She’s the first to admit she’s no domestic goddess, and the housekeeping usually takes a back seat to … anything else really, so long as it’s fun. Not to say there aren’t days when the children annoy her, when she annoys them, and when life manages to annoy every one of them.
Yet people usually say, “You’re always so … happy. How do you manage that?”
And she smiles and shrugs. “The kids keep me sane,” is her stock reply. Then she wonders what they would think if they were to ever discover the part of her she conceals so well that sometimes she can almost fool herself into thinking it doesn’t exist … almost, but not quite. She knows it must be impossible to tell, simply by watching her, the effort she puts into smothering her black mood. It’s easier during the day, when she has her children to distract her, to dispel the darkness that lurks just out of sight.
When she is alone, after the children have gone to bed, she is able to distract herself by losing herself in a book, or a film. Every night is the same – pretend there’s nothing amiss, put off going to bed even though the hour grows late … delay for as long as she can until she can barely keep her eyes open. Only then does she make her way to her bedroom.
By the time she shuts the door behind her, she can feel it, as if it is a tangible thing, her black mood surfacing, a precursor of what awaits her. Her shoulders slump, her movements turn leaden. Going through the motions like an automaton, she gets ready for bed.
Lying on her back in the dark, covers pulled up to her chin, she waits. She knows they’re coming, the small madnesses that circle her bed every night … that penetrate her dreams, that leave their mark in her aching shoulders, which she unknowingly scrunches up in disordered sleep. The small demons that she can silence during the day, that she can ignore, they refuse to go unnoticed when it is dark. She can hear them, sense them as they drag themselves slowly, relentlessly out of the shadowy confines of her mind to start whispering … whispering, whispering …
Why? she thinks. Why do I feel like this? Every night, the same thing, like I’m losing faith … like I’m losing ‘me’. What’s wrong with me? I have so much to be happy for … don’t I?
Shaking her head as if to silence the whispering, scrubbing the tears from her face, she squeezes her eyes shut. But it’s not sight that she has to deny herself, for she can’t see her nightly companions. Clasping the pillow over her head is futile; how can she silence voices that are already in her head?
Lying on her back, eyes open too wide, she wishes for morning. For morning brings with it, as it always does, another day in the company of her children; her protection against her whispering demons … the reason, she believes the only reason, she can drag herself out of bed each morning when all she wants is to disappear into the darkness where she can hide and never be found.