Fiction: The Gift

February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 20 of 29

As a child I was happy to create stories and loved the escapism that they offered.  As an adult, I have now returned to the fiction form and have embarked on writing my first novel (of a trilogy). It’s a blend of semi auto-biographical and fantastical elements, which feels to me like arranging a giant patch work quilt of my life: There are some favourite scraps of my own old clothes, which I am adding to, embellishing and turning into a brand new pattern…

Part of my blog challenge this month is to boost the content of this first fiction book.  Each excerpt, which will stand alone on this blog – will eventually be woven into the larger fabric of my book design.

 pendant

One Sunday evening, in the middle of the autumn term of the second year at her northern university, Ariel decided to telephone her mother and agree their plans for Christmas. She trudged through the twilit streets and had to wait out in the cold, as someone else was already in the nearest local phone box, when she arrived to make her call.

20 long minutes she waited, making sure that the twenty something man already inside, cradling the phone lovingly under his chin, could see her and hence cut short his own conversation. He didn’t get the hint however and simply turned away – making sure that she did not obscure his line of vision or his train of thought.

Through the oblong panes of graffiti smeared glass, she observed his body language and the way he cuddled the phone close to him. He was clearly talking to a lover – the phone had become his lover, as he poured (unheard) endearments and compliments through the mouthpiece to who knew who and who knows where. Ariel was irritated and a little envious, not to say very cold; so she hopped from one booted foot to the other, cushing her fingers and cursing the fact that she had forgotten to bring her gloves.

Finally he ran out of words – or more likely change – and so departed his lover and the phone box, holding the door open to let Ariel, in with the smiling gallantry of a happily infatuated man.

With the door closed behind her, sealing her in; the enclosed space of the phone box stank of the man’s heavy, torpid after shave. The overpowering smell clung to the handset and made her feel nauseous, as she picked it up, coins in hand and painstakingly dialled her mother’s number from memory.

Her mother as always was perfunctory and not particularly interested in her daughter’s Christmas preferences, but as always she had a plan. She was now a relief manager for a hotel chain and told Ariel peremptorily that she would be working all through the busy Christmas period at a hotel in Scotland. Ariel could stay at their home alone or she could come up and work as a waitress in the hotel near Fort William. The work would involve long, thankless shifts, but she’d get paid double time on the bank holidays.

Ariel quickly formed her own plan: it would be easy to inveigle her father to arrange for a Christmas stay at Tregorwick for a week or so. She would then catch the train up to Scotland and see the New Year in with her mother, along with the holiday making pensioners she was taking care of, in a 3 star hotel. Her mother was lending her the money for her the train fare, then deducting it from her impending waitressing wages. With minimal earned brass in pocket, Ariel would then return to University for the new term.

She had never been to the Cornish castle in the winter time, though of course she was familiar with the seasonal celebrations there, as her father had often described them in detail. She wondered what the Island would look like at that time of year and hoped that they would get snow, so that she could indulge her fantasies of the perfect Christmas with her Cornish family. Her aunts were getting older and slower, but still they kept up all the traditional Emissariat Christmas celebrations and entertainments.

It seemed a crass expense not to fly there under her power, when the train ride from Durham to Penzance was ten hours long; but as always, she bowed to protocol. The time passed easily enough though, with a supply of course books and a trashy novel to keep her occupied. To stretch her legs every hour or so, she would walk out of the carriage, open the top window of the nearest door and lean out into the sharply cold, fresh air for a few minutes. At lunch time she scraped together some change and bought herself a fried egg sandwich and a cup of tea from the buffet carriage. It was deliciously enjoyable, but gave her rampant and painful indigestion.

It felt very adult and strange to alight at Penzance station by herself, but Daddy was waiting for her, walking towards the platform. She ran to him and he hugged her tightly, without a word. He picked up her suitcase and guided her by the elbow, out towards the car park.

Daniel had got a different car since she had last seen him and stowed his daughter’s case in the boot of his newest second hand Daimler.

She had arrived in the late afternoon darkness and by the time they had made their way to the coast, it was nearly pitch black. The boat to take them across the Island had changed too: her father guided her into a small, dirty yellow rubber dingy with a motor. He expertly pulled the cord, waking up a very noisy engine which sped them easily and quickly across the small scudding waves towards a bright buoy light on the castle’s jetty. To Ariel’s surprise, bright electric lights now also lit the path up the hill to the castle wall door. She couldn’t locate their source, but was too happy at this moment to even ask about this unexpected technological development on the Island.

Once inside she greeted her family and a myriad of guests, then was ushered quickly into the formal dining room for dinner. Suddenly she realised that he was there, seated at the far end of the dining table. She had been so wrapped up in her happy Christmas expectations, that she hadn’t even thought about Oliver being there. When he saw her, he stood up with a slow smile and nodded his head to her in slow greeting. “Ariel” he said, simply and factually.

She was of course, acutely aware that he was there in the room, in the castle and now, constantly in her thoughts. Over the ensuing days she was never sure whether she should run away from him or indeed seek him out. According to the Emissariat way, she couldn’t of course, deliberately be alone with him, but she pondered over incessant schemes where she could just casually bump into him, with calculated shy surprise, in between their various duties and converging Christmas celebrations.

She spent long contented periods of chatter with her father in the mornings at breakfast and after dinner. In between, she joyfully worked away with her Aunts in the kitchen too, helping to prepare a vast bounty of traditional Christmas food. She would scour the now scant kitchen garden for the remains of hardy herbs like sage, rosemary and thyme’ along with the winter vegetable crops and then she would take part in the daily ceremonies, celebrating the turn of solstice and then the Christian rites of passage, demarcating Christmas and moving on towards a new year and the long, slow approach of Spring.

As it was, she barely saw Oliver, except at the communal meetings and meal times, where usually he was at the opposite end of the dining table, having polite and serious discussions with other, older guests. She knew that he tended to do his tithe work in the Study, at the far end of the ground floor, as an erstwhile assistant to the current Lord Scrivener, so that their paths rarely crossed.

—o0o—

On Christmas Eve everyone’s ministrations ended at mid-day. Ariel and her Aunts had worked all through the morning, preparing a simple lunch of bread and soup, along with a huge, heaped buffet ready for the evening celebrations. Many more guests would be arriving for Midnight mass and there would be music and dancing after all the ceremonies were concluded.

After lunch, Ariel finally had the opportunity for some time alone and strolled around the silent, chilly beaches, strangely uninterrupted by anyone else. She wondered idly if Mariel would manifest, but couldn’t sense an impending visit. No doubt there were too many people around to risk flying and Mariel probably had better things to do, and better parties to be at, anyway.

Ariel returned to her bed room, climbed into her bed and had a delicious nap for several hours, so that she would have plenty of energy for the celebrations later on. When 5.00 pm ticked around, she woke up and then picked out her prettiest dress from the cavernous oak wardrobe and laid it in readiness over the bed. She then ran down the cold corridor in her bare feet to have a bath and wash her long blonde hair as quickly as she could, being careful to change back into her day clothes rather than a dressing gown, less anyone saw her inappropriately attired in between bath room and bedroom.

Less than an hour later she was freshly dressed, shining and ready. The ceremonies didn’t start until 7.00 pm, so she decided to wander down to the library and pick through the infinite collection of time and leather bound books in order to occupy her time and satisfy her lazy curiosity.

She took the spiral stairs slowly and dawdled deliberately along the ground floor corridors, avoiding the cracks in the flag stones, being determined to fill up every precious solitary second until the celebrations commenced.

She was snapped out of her dreamy reverie when she heard Oliver’s voice. “Ariel?” she thought she heard him say softly.

She turned and looked into the Reading Room; Oliver was inside, leaning on its’ open door. He smiled… “Do you have a minute, there’s something I’d, um, like to share with you?”

Ariel froze mid step and stared at him. She bit her lip and looked about her. No one else was around. In one stride she brushed past him and stepped into the room. He gently pushed the door to, not closing it all the way, but just leaving a small gap for propriety. He moved aside and motioned for her to sit in one of the two cosy winged chairs in the small, wood panelled room. Even in this tiny space and despite her gently hammering heart, she noticed that there was a small Christmas tree sitting squatly on the aspidistra table in the corner. It was elegantly decorated with white paper festoons and matching white, mirror-shine baubles.

Oliver seemed uncharacteristically quick paced and nervy. He sat down and then quickly stood up again, pulling a parcel from behind the Christmas tree. He proffered it: “This is for you” he said, putting it into her leaden hands. “Happy Christmas, Ariel Angel Tregorwick.”

“I, oh, I, erm…” she stammered in reply, looking down at the tissue and ribbon be-wrapped box in her hands.

He had now regained his composure. “I can see your surprise. Don’t worry about this Ariel. I wanted to give you something from my homeland, since I’m far from it right now and I thought you would appreciate it. It will make me happy to give it, so please just accept this and give me some Christmas joy.”

Ariel found these to be such odd and yet promising words and here was an unexpected gift, from him of all people, in her hands. Still she stared at it.

“You can open it now” he joked quietly.

Ariel pulled on the white bow and pulled apart the tissue on a medium sized thin wooden box. The sides of the box fell apart and a myriad of large coloured gem stones tumbled over her lap and onto the floor, clattering onto the rug. She looked at him and they both laughed with childish delight. She started to grab at the escaping glass jewels, then realised there was another, smaller, black velvet covered box, nestling at the centre. She picked it up and noticed that it had a lid. She pressed the clasp on the front and the satin lined lid flew open. Inside was an ornate locket on a chain. She had never seen anything quite like it.

“Oh, that is so beautiful Oliver” she heard herself say calmly and warmly, as at far distance from her body. “How unusual… Thank you… And a very Happy Christmas to you too.”

“Ah – you like it” he said relieved and knelt at her feet. “It is made by craftsmen in my father’s village in France. Would you let me put it on for you?”

Looking at him, she nodded and pulled her hair to one side. All too swiftly and easily he unclasped the chain and joined each end again around her neck, managing, somehow, not to touch her. She held the heavy locket in her hand and looked down at its’ strange swirling design.

She felt light headed, as if she was looking down at the two of them, having floated out of her body, dream-like, to hover over their heads and watch what was to come.

Such a gift could never be given secretly or lightly in their world. It was both a question and a beginning. In this gorgeous capsule of slowed down, paired up time, she would, in these seconds, just savour the strange and elated sensations flowing through her; and the promise. For that was clearly, exactly what it was…

~ Sandra Peachey ©

PS: This blog post is a fiction and yet I also write about my own experiences.  In fact a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, exploring all the facets of my ‘real’ life in all its’ badness, banality and beauty. This is love seen in every aspect of the life that I live.  In it you will find the dark and the light of love in every facet of existence, in a way that will make you think, entertain you and let you know that you are not alone in life, whatever it holds for you. You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ by Sandra Peachey, from book websites anywhere in the world, including on Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

Fiction: The Bike Ride

bike

February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 19 of 29

As a child I was happy to create stories and loved the escapism that they offered.  As an adult, I have now returned to the fiction form and have embarked on writing my first novel (of a trilogy). It’s a blend of semi auto-biographical and fantastical elements, which feels to me like arranging a giant patch work quilt of my life: There are some favourite scraps of my own old clothes, which I am adding to, embellishing and turning into a brand new pattern…

Part of my blog challenge this month is to boost the content of this first fiction book.  Each excerpt, which will stand alone on this blog – will eventually be woven into the larger fabric of my book design.

The Bike Ride

As time went on Daddy grew less protective of her and during the next couple of summers let her out of his sight more and more; so that when at Tregorwick she would disappear into the gardens or run away down to the beach for long, deliciously lovely hours.

At 10 years old, as much as Ariel was used to spending time on her own, she also loved company, so fell easily into playing with the three Tregarn children living down at the Keepers Cottage – when all their respective chores were complete each day. Sharon was a couple of years older than her and Janey was the same age, but Luke was the oldest at 14.

All the Tregarns had dark curly and olive toned skin, though Janey had an extra scatter of freckles across her nose, which, along with her short bobbed hair and mumbling soft voice, made her the youngest of them in all in sweetness and attitude, as well as by birth date. Sharon was slow and mature in her ways, but always went along with whatever games the other 3 “chits” came up with. Somehow, she always seemed to be the oldest, with her motherly ways, patched dungarees and hair pulled back in sensible pony tail; though her elder brother Luke, really was her big brother too, since he towered over her by a good 4 inches.

Luke was usually on the fringe of the gang. Tall and of medium build, Auntie Sarah said he had the dark Celtic looks of a “good Cornish lad”. When they were all together, he said very little and never seemed to laugh or else be especially serious either. He was just around and about, either taking part or taking off. He would sometimes join in, when they were crabbing or digging for lug worms or other pseudo grown-up activities. But when they played games of mermaids and monsters or collected shells and strings of seaweed to furnish their den (in the fern cave at the end of the far beach); he would disappear off to go fishing or read his comics.

One day, in the middle of the summer vacation, Ariel was dawdling around the shingle beach alone, seeing how many pretty pebbles she could balance one on top of the other. She knew the Tregarn girls were away on the big island visiting a relative and their brother had chores on the mainland, so she had to occupy herself. Ariel looked around for flattened stones and stroked their surfaces to check their smoothness. Down on her knees, absorbed in her task, she found that she could gently build her pebble pile in to a precarious edifice, placing each stone slowly and carefully, one on top of the other, until she had a tower of stone nearly 6 inches high.

“Hoy, Angel Ariel!” Luke shouted, as he made his way down the path towards the jetty. Ariel slowly moved her hands away from the stone tower and shuffled carefully away from her creation. “I thought you were on the mainland” she said.

“Just off” Luke replied. “Wanna come? Your Aunt says you can.”

Ariel wondered which of her three aunts had actually given permission, but rapidly accepted the invitation anyway, as an unexpected adventure.

They clambered into the smallest boat and Luke took the oars, setting off across a smooth, easy sea, skimming the waves; whilst he half hummed and half sang what seemed to be lilting folk song: “Hum um, the sea will see, the maiden rise, the wind hum hum and the horses ride, the horses ride…”

His halting humming precluded any conversation, which Ariel was glad of, because she really would not have known what to say. She had suddenly become aware that he was a boy and she was not and that they were alone, but for a few seagulls gliding close by, hopeful of a free fishy snack.

When they reached the mainland shore, Ariel jumped onto the jetty first, waiting for Luke to throw her the rope, so that she could tie the boat off.

She could see that Luke had bought two parcels with him, so guessed they were going to the Post Office to despatch them. “We going to the Post Office?” she asked.

“Yup!” He responded.

“How we gonna get there”?

“C’mon” he said and marched up the rocky slope to the Keep Cave. He produced a small key from his trouser pocket and marched solidly past the large garage door, to a smaller door at the farthest end of the rock. When he turned the key and prised the door open, Ariel peered round him to spy a small storage space, filled with flower pots, wicker baskets and a large rusty bicycle.

Luke grabbed the bike and reversed it out, brushing off cobwebs and dust as he went. Ariel tried not to squeal as a congregation of bewildered black beetles ran out of the shed space and into the sunlight towards them.

He locked the door and hopped easily onto the bike. “Grab them parcels and hop on” he commanded. “You can be the basket. Hold on tight now.”

Ariel picked up the parcels and awkwardly manoeuvred herself onto the cross bar of the bike, side saddle style; clutching the parcels to her body with one hand and grabbing a section of handlebar with the other.

Luke cheerfully started to peddle and Ariel nearly lost her grip a few times as he sped faster and faster up the lanes towards Houndsal Village, humming away. The hand she had grasping the handlebar started to sweat and so she squeezed tighter to stop herself from slipping off and tumbling away.

After a few minutes she got used to balancing herself and carefully cradling the parcels, started to enjoy the sensation of the air rushing by them, as she had an open air view of the countryside around her. Along the hedged lanes they sped, and occasionally she would glimpse fields and solitary houses beyond their herbaceous boundaries, accompanied by the refrains of Luke’s humming half song.

Gradually he stopped his humming and the world around them became markedly, awkwardly silent. Suddenly Ariel had that awareness again. That exciting oddness because they were so close. She had never been in such intimate proximity to a boy before, and she wondered if this was how it all started – when man and woman got together; with this new feeling growing in her solar plexus, mixed up with a secretive self-consciousness.

The big wide Cornish world narrowed down to just the two of them, moving along smoothly on the bike together and she observed the feeling, keeping her eyes on the lane ahead; whilst being acutely aware that he was just inches away from her.

She wondered if he felt it too. But of course she said nothing and did nothing except cling on and pretend to peer ahead. She could only go with the moment and explore this quiet new sensation, this evolution of feeling…

Luke continued to pound away at the peddles and suddenly they turned the corner onto Houndsal High Street, where Ariel clambered off the bike just a little too hastily, nearly tripping over and almost losing the precious brown paper parcels. She maintained her balance, if not her dignity and handed the parcels silently over to Luke. She dawdled round the village shop whilst he queued and managed the despatch of their cargo. He joined her in the shop and bought himself a new comic and several strings of red and black liquorice. When they got outside, he quietly handed her the red liquorice and kept the black for himself, wrapping it around his index finger and pulling off a section to chew on. He rolled the comic rolled up and stuffed it into the back pocket of his trousers, then he purposefully pulled out the bike, swung one leg over ready to ride and motioned for Ariel to sit on the front of the bike, in the centre of the handlebars, by patting them encouragingly.

She looked at the handlebars uncertainly. “Turn around” Luke said patting the handlebars again “and hop on. I’ll steady you.” As she backed up to the bike he reached forward and scooped her easily onto the handlebars, then before she could even settle, they were off, racing away.

The route along the lanes back down to the mainland beach sloped gently downhill. Luke whooped and peddled furiously away, pacing hard and breathing deliberately and heavily.

Ariel gripped on with both her hands. Luke suddenly started to swerve from right to left, zig zagging them along, with deliberate, cocky verve. Ariel shrieked in scared delight and they wove along, laughing loudly; getting faster and faster the further down the lanes they went, until she could see the sea stretching out ahead of them.

“Watch out” Luke shouted as the road ran out, “it’s time to stop!” He braked suddenly and Ariel flew off the bike and landed, bottom first, neatly onto the soft sand of Hounsal beach.

“Luke!” she yelled. “You pig!”

“You’re alright” he said breezily and wheeled the bike away to its dusty hiding place, whilst Ariel stood herself up and brushed herself down, huffily.

They boarded the boat home, saying little on the journey back, then disembarked and parted company on the castle path without a word. He lifted his hand to signal good bye and turned to walk down the path to the cottage, whilst she trudged her way back up to the castle alone.

~ Sandra Peachey ©

PS: This blog post is a fiction and yet I also write about my own experiences.  In fact a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, exploring all the facets of my ‘real’ life in all its’ badness, banality and beauty. This is love seen in every aspect of the life that I live.  In it you will find the dark and the light of love in every facet of existence, in a way that will make you think, entertain you and let you know that you are not alone in life, whatever it holds for you. You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ by Sandra Peachey, from book websites anywhere in the world, including on Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

Fiction: The Valentine Fool

February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 15 of 29

As a child I was happy to create stories and loved the escapism that they offered.  As an adult, I have now returned to the fiction form and have embarked on writing my first novel (of a trilogy). It is a blend of semi auto-biographical and fantastical elements, which feels to me like arranging a giant patch work quilt of my life: There are some favourite scraps of my own old clothes, which I am adding to, embellishing and turning into a brand new pattern.

Part of my blog challenge this month is to boost the content of this first fiction book.  Each excerpt, which will stand alone on this blog – will eventually be woven into the larger fabric of my book design.

The Valentine Fool

valentine_fool
Picture by claypupperton of Deviant Art

“Just say it to me once” Ariel insisted “and then you can go.”

There was, as ever, an awkward pause, but then he came out with it: “I never understood it, I suppose, but when I think about it, I do love you”.

“My goodness, that was painful and not exactly romantic, but thank you for admitting it. I can make my peace with this now. Have a nice life and a farewell hug, before I kick you out of course” Ariel replied.

Jay clung to her and then she pushed him off and out of the door. “Good bye you daft egghead. May love go with you in your life.”

As the days, weeks and months passed by, she pondered on this strange affair of theirs and what an odd state of affairs it had all been. They had made their decision for all the right reasons. He had an opportunity to have a new life with a family, and she of all people, understood about arranged marriages. They had weighed up all their options, gone over the pros and cons and just couldn’t find a compelling enough set of reasons to stay together.

She’d always known that he loved her in his own understated way, and now he’d said it – that of course would have to be enough for her ego.  And he had been very generous to her in so many ways – she could now treasure the expressed sentiment as his parting gift.   They were never a romantic match any way. It had always been a matter of convenience for both of them, so now they had made a sad and sensible decision, together.

As time went on though, the feeling that she had been rejected began to gnaw at her. Their conjoined logic hadn’t saved her, after all. Their feigned friendship with benefits had been born out of a hidden desperation and an unsightly loneliness, which somehow had grown into a dependency she didn’t even know she had, till now.   For all this time she had kept him at a distance, kept their togetherness as an arrangement, and never really wanted to be with him in any significant way. Now she grieved his loss in her life and still she knew he cared for her – out in the dark ether of incommunicado.  He hadn’t wanted to go after all, she made him. Though no doubt – her nagging, gnawing thoughts dictated – he was having a rare old time getting to know his young prospective bride.

With the new year a depression of spirits settled upon her, but she got on with her day to day living with energy and determination. Soon, she reasoned, she would come out of the other side of this resolution and move on to better things.

Jay had sent her a Christmas card and then in January a postcard from his latest business trip, so she knew she was on his mind. These communications were always bitter sweet. Ariel was simultaneously delighted that he had reached out and yet frustrated that his rare contacts with her were tepid rather than torrid. Neither did they give her any news of his impending nuptuals, so she could cut that particular tie from her heart too.

As February came and the calendar clicked down relentlessly towards Valentines Day, she found that she felt it was a simple, sweet inevitability that he would get in touch. She knew that he would somehow just have to make contact with her on that day of all days. It was an easy certainty, so she didn’t need to run the ‘will he / won’t he?’ spin cycle around her head and just got on with her life.

When the 14th of February arrived, she rationalised it into ‘any other’ day… And sometime, around 11.30 am, he did get in touch, with a rare text: “Are you busy today? Would you like to go out?”

He was late as usual when he finally knocked on her door. She flung it open to behold that he held his walking shoes in his hands, rather than a Valentine bunch of flowers. Yet he was there, just as her intuition had predicted. She wondered in a whisper to herself, where it all might lead…

She banished any notions of the future from her mind.  Today, she decided was a day for simple silence and acceptance. She would let him say whatever it was he had to say.

So she put on her coat they set off for walk.  And because she gave him the space of silence, he filled it with his words. She simply responded just enough to let him know that she was listening and was on his side.

He prattled on about his plans and his work. He complained about his colleagues. “He just needs to get it all off his chest” she thought, “and then he can really speak to me.”

As time passed and their footsteps squelched over the muddy fields of their favourite walk, still he prattled inanely on. She realised suddenly that there would be no lover’s reunion and shut down upon herself, wishing that the walk could be over sooner, rather than later. She even wondered whether to plead illness and turn back. But still her heart hoped and still her feet moved, one in front of the other. And all the time they kept their physical distance – just out of hand’s reach from each other.

They walked and walked and so he talked. She knew having a listening ear wasn’t an opportunity he often had, and that no one knew and understood him as she did, so she let him waffle on. At one point he paused and asked her if she was alright. “I’m OK” she lied.

They made their way back to her house and he asked if she was hungry. She wasn’t, but said she would make him lunch, so that finally he could confess in confidence his love for her or else confirm his wedding date…

Back in doors, he did neither. She fussed and cooked and served to keep her nerve.

When they’d eaten, he put his fork down and said “how are you doing?” She found it hard to respond. Finally she struggled out “I’m a 5 out of 10. But more importantly, how are you doing, have you set a date yet?”

She was angry to learn that he hadn’t even met his prospective bride again yet; he just hadn’t got round to it. She ruminated that it had been over 3 months, since he had left her all alone and yet he had done nothing to move his situation on.

But when she spoke all that came out was “Happy Valentine’s Day”.

“Well, you know that for me, that’s just a date on the calendar” he replied. “It doesn’t hold any special significance.  It was a nice sunny day, I thought it would be good for a walk.”

“Right, like it didn’t hold any significance last year when I told you I didn’t want to go out on Valentine’s Day, because we didn’t have that kind of relationship. Why are you lying to us both? Who are you trying to kid? I knew you would want to see me today of all days.”

“Well you let me off the hook then” he laughed.

“Look, I suppose that’s nervous laughter, but right now, it sounds like a sneer” Ariel said. “Tell me truthfully – have you missed me?”

“Well yes” he said and finally her heart lightened. “I’ve had no one to go on walks with or take to my favourite restaurant. I really fancied a Thai meal last week and had no one to go with.”

Now Ariel’s heart tightened and her breathing constricted. She had thought this man was different from most other men; but here he was, coming out with that ridiculous male bravura that they all pull out on occasions like these. He wasn’t going to propose… anything other than a bloody walk and talk.

She glared inwardly.

“I think I should go” he said.

“I agree” she responded and waited impatiently while he faffed around getting his coat on and finding his keys.

“Good bye” she said, stepping away and opening the door as he tried to awkwardly hug her. He stepped out, then turned and tried to hug her again. She pushed him out of the door and made a careful effort not to slam it behind him.

Of course she cried when he left. She felt deeply despondent and incredibly stupid. She been rejected – again. Nothing in her life was going to change. Having felt just a vague grief that he had passed out of her life and would soon return, now she was plunged into the depths of painful despair.

“This is unendurable” she raged. “I can’t go on like this.  I can’t go on feeling such pain.  This is just insane cruelty. He’s stupid and cruel and yet I’m crueller still. I keep living and breathing through all this agony, again and again. I even try to protect myself from the hurt and still it happens. I can’t do this any longer. I just have to stop trying and failing, over and over again.”

She searched out the hiding place for Martrucio’s dagger and sharpened it purposefully. She placed the point against her heart and judged the thrust and angle it would require to sever her heart swiftly, before she would get scared and change her mind again.

But it was a sharp moment of solitary drama. Snorting angrily, she put the knife safely away and opened a bottle of blood red wine instead.

After several glasses of ruby balm, she ripped out his contact details from her phone book and then sat down to compose her final letter to him:

“Hello Jay (I simply cannot use the ridiculous formality of ‘Dear’ Jay)

Well that was a Valentine Day that felt more like an April Fool…

Today you were cruel. Maybe not deliberately (?) but regardless – insensitive, stupid and very, very cruel.

Our time together today has highlighted our myriad differences – again. We just keep coming back to each other, because we are all the other one has. But that just isn’t good enough, for either of us.

Don’t be in touch again – OK. Just leave me to rot. As you’ve appreciated I’m not worth anything other than the occasional lousy fuck or someone to go on a bloody walk with, just because you want sex or don’t have any other close friends.

Look – I thank you for all you have done for me, really I do and I don’t forget that, but your weak niceness is just part and parcel of the problem.

So do me a favour, if you do actually, really care for me, in any way – just fuck off and leave me alone now. Go get a new life with your young wife and a whole pack of children. I wish you well: enjoy the sleepless teething nights in your 50s, school runs in your 60s and University graduations in your 70s; oh and that is if  your babies don’t have geriatric genetic abnormalities which mean you will have to nurse them until you die (you will have a combined age of 87 years between you don’t forget). But at least you get to have the bloody chance to be a parent and to have a future. I have never denied you that, even though all of those particular options in life have always been denied to me.

Somehow, after all the time we have known each other – I assumed that since I’m the only person who really knows you and just loves you because of who you are and what you do, might mean something. But no, a juicy young wife and family pressure are clearly bigger draws.  It’s only the rest of your life after all and being a mummy’s boy has to be easier than being a man!!!

But you have my permission and instruction to go ahead and desert me now. Instead, just go on and please those who are related to you, but don’t have a clue about who you actually are and what you really want from life. Compare their love to mine and continue with it. You are after all, as we both know, a clueless, childish fool when it comes to emotional matters.

Life, through no fault of my own, has robbed me of everything I ever wanted and despite all my best efforts, it continues to do so. Just as you get under my skin, and into my heart – this!!! And after everything I’ve been through lately Jay, today’s little visit from you was just a cruel, sick joke. I can only hope that the joke was only on me and that one of us, at least, goes on to get some real happiness. 

Happy Valentine’s Day, or should that be February Fool’s Day – a new celebration I hereby institute for the emotionally insane.

Good bye Jay.

Good luck and please just bugger off in to the wide, blue yonder – now and for ever.

Never yours,
Ariel.”

Her letter written, she folded it up and put it into a pristine unaddressed envelope. She downed another glass of wine and wondered if she would actually go ahead and post it. “Happy Bloody Valentine’s Day, indeed…” She thought, raising a glass to the universe, and then throwing and smashing it soundly on the kitchen floor.

“That’ll save on the washing up” she slurred, before crawling upstairs to her ever empty bed.

~ Sandra Peachey ©

PS: This blog post is a fiction and yet I also write about my own experiences.  In fact a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, exploring all the facets of my ‘real’ life in all its’ badness, banality and beauty. This is love seen in every aspect of the life that I live.  In it you will find the dark and the light of love, in a way that will make you think, entertain you and let you know that you are not alone in life, whatever it holds for you… It is of course the perfect Valentine gift. You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ by Sandra Peachey, from book websites anywhere in the world, including on Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

Fiction: The Argument

February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 11 of 29

As a child I was happy to create stories and loved the escapism that they offered.  As an adult, I have now returned to the fiction form and have embarked on writing my first novel (of a trilogy). It is a blend of semi auto-biographical and fantastical elements, which feels to me like arranging a giant patch work quilt of my life: There are some favourite scraps of my own old clothes, which I am adding to, embellishing and turning into a brand new pattern.

Part of my blog challenge this month is to boost the content of this first fiction book.  Each excerpt, which will stand alone on this blog – will eventually be woven into the larger fabric of my book design.

argument

The Argument

“Why” Ariel asked, “why, why, why do you make life so difficult for me? You keep me from my father, from my family. You take his money and you moan on and on about him and about – everything! You just never stop bloody turning the knife do you?”

Her mother puffed up furiously and raised her hand to hit. “Don’t you dare swear at me, you ungrateful brat – you…”

Ariel raised her voice an angry semi quaver: “Just shut up, you evil cow!  You pushed my Dad away. You didn’t let me go with him. Why? And you keep me walled up here in this urban shit hole, being lonely and miserable and always trying to make me miserable too.

Why do you always say ‘no’? Why do you constantly criticise? I’m sick of it, I’m bloody sick of it.”

Her mother had rarely seen such angry fire in her daughter since she was a tiresome toddler. She kept the parental boundaries strict – she was in charge – no challenges were to be brooked and things were to done her way or no way.

She was quietly furious and absolutely would not tolerate such recalcitrant teenage behaviour under her roof. “You stop this now, you ungrateful little bitch. Don’t think you’re getting any dinner tonight, after this. And don’t think you are ever going back to Tregorwick after this display. Just one more mention of this young lady and I am going to beat every last word out of you – do you understand?

“Oh mother, you’re pathetic.” Ariel countered. “Yeah – I understand! I understand that all you’ve got is complaints and punishment. And now you’re gonna hit me! Pathetic! If you so much as touch me, I will thump you back. Her voice raised to a scream “I will bloody thump you, you evil old cow!”

Her mother’s fury propelled her hand to slap sharply across Ariel’s face. Ariel screamed in pain and fury. “You stop this” her mother said, slapping again and again with each rising scream.

Ariel shoved her mother away and holding her at bay with her left hand, looked her in the face. “You’re happy now aren’t you mother?  Now you’ve made me cry? You’re happy because I’m miserable, you horrible, horrible old hag.”  Then she ran to the mirror in the hall and looked at the stinging, red marks the slaps had left on her face – one burning brightly on each cheek.

Her mother was silent, rooted to the spot and breathing heavily.

“I’m going out” said Ariel “I’m showing the world what you are like mother, how vicious and evil you are. I’m phoning my dad. And I’m going to get the police on you” she yelled as she yanked the front door open and headed down the path.

Her mother loomed on the doorstep. “Get back here Ariel Ann Tregorwick. Don’t you dare leave this house.”

Ariel ran down the street, and round the corner to the phone box. There were two teenage boys crammed in it, and she so carried on, parading her slapped cheeks for the world to see, tears still streaming down her face

Through the Sunday evening streets she went and realised that she had no change and would have to get the operator to organise a reverse charge call to her father. Then she remembered that her father was usually out at this time at his Bridge club.

Suddenly she felt stupid and vulnerable. She had the streets to herself. Nobody was around. Nobody saw the pain that she was in and the marks of her mother’s anger etched across her face; but out of sheer stubbornness she would not run straight back to her house.

She circuited the nearby streets a few more times and then had to face the prospect of returning home. Her defiance having now deflated, she slunk round to the back of her home and dragged her feet down the back garden path. As quietly as she could, she tried the handle of the back door. It was locked. Her mother had ensured that she would not be able to sneak in.

Ariel knocked and listened. Her mother kept her waiting. She didn’t come. So Ariel was forced to knock 3 times more, louder and louder each time. All this served, of course as extra fuel for her mother’s bonfire of anger.

Finally she came and opened the door, she let Ariel in, raising her hand ready to smash it down on Ariel’s head. They looked each other in the eye. “No, Mother” Ariel said. “No”.

~ Sandra Peachey ©

PS: This blog post is a fiction and yet I also write about my own experiences.  In fact a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, exploring all the facets of my ‘real’ life in all its’ badness, banality and beauty. This is love seen in every aspect of the life that I live.  In it you will find the dark and the light of love, in a way that will make you think, entertain you and let you know that you are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you… It is of course the perfect Valentine gift. You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ by Sandra Peachey, from book websites any where in the world, including on Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

Fiction: Love Letter to Canal Flying

February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 10 of 29

As a child I was happy to create stories and loved the escapism that they offered.  As an adult, I have now returned to the fiction form and have embarked on writing my first novel (of a trilogy). It is a blend of semi auto-biographical and fantastical elements, which feels to me like arranging a giant patch work quilt of my life: There are some favourite scraps of my own old clothes, which I am adding to, embellishing and turning into a brand new pattern.

Part of my blog challenge this month is to boost the content of this first fiction book.  Each excerpt, which will stand alone on this blog – will eventually be woven into the larger fabric of my book design.

Canal Pic

Canal Flying

On the long summer evenings she loved to fly over the canal just as dusk was descending. It was an exercise in extraneous ego for she could see her magnificent reflection flying over the still water, a mirror to her glorious form, backlit by the clouds and vaulted blue sky above; woven into the waving water weeds and the journeys of teeming silent fish, below. It was a stirring sight as she flew boundlessly over endless miles, honing her senses as she listened beyond her ears to feel the rustle of reeds, ducks calling and sheep bleating their bedtime prayers.

She would consciously work all her senses – to go beyond them. Inhaling the smell of damp summer plants and slowly flowing canal ways; endeavouring to hear beyond the wind – blowing its soft swathes through fields of rippling, growing wheat; with wingless creatures scurrying through, under and around; aware of her above, where humankind ignored her.

She smiled as she flew on and followed the sleepy gentle lines and curves of the canals; the water drawing her along it and soothing her in gorgeous tandem with the easy constant rhythm of her wings.

Below her in innocent farms, cottages and narrow boats, somnambulant occupants watched TV and went about their end of the day business; ignoring her beating wings – sighing and sloughing over their heads in the descending darkness. Deliberately she would tease their senses by sweeping and flapping loudly, playing the wind and the mind and the contradictory silence of the countryside.

She loved this time alone and so week night flights ensured that there were less drunken loud people sitting out in canal side pub beer gardens; yapping and smoking their tarred freedom away, cutting into her sweet night fantastical flights with their discordant chatter.

Yet also from below, these solid land marked hostelry buildings offered her loud beacons of light, to navigate her certain way back home.

She avoided the roads, yet still, even along the quietest country lanes, motor vehicles would whizz inconstantly by; and so she was flying over the roofs of busy unknowing passengers, driving loudly and blindly below with full beams on, navigating through country lanes and over bridges, where unbeknownst, she steered high above, softly laughing at their modern, mechanical ways.

With dusk the bats would come out to feast and play, circling and crying whilst she confused their echo location positioning, as they sensed and sized up the gargantuan flying companion sharing their night world. ‘Squee, squee!’ they cried as she swept on by, bringing her out of her meditative reverie – measured till now by the simple soft beat of her beautiful wings.

Drawn by the sunset – she headed back home with the dropping light of day. Then the moon would take over, insinuated now into the sky above her head, having waxed and waned through a succession of watery nights – from new, to crescent and progressing back to a luscious full ball – with each lunar shape changing through and marking those sweet days of summer flight.

~ Sandra Peachey

PS: This blog post is a fiction and yet I also write about my own experiences.  In fact a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, exploring all the facets of my ‘real’ life in all its’ badness, banality and beauty. This is love seen in every aspect of the life that I live.  In it you will find the dark and the light of love, in a way that will make you think, entertain you and let you know that you are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you… It is of course the perfect Valentine gift. You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ by Sandra Peachey, from book websites any where in the world, including on Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

Fiction: Pancake Day

February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 9 of 29

As a child I was happy to create stories and loved the escapism that they offered.  As an adult, I have now returned to the fiction form and have embarked on writing my first novel (of a trilogy). It is a blend of semi auto-biographical and fantastical elements, which feels to me like arranging a giant patch work quilt of my life: There are some favourite scraps of my own old clothes, which I am adding to, embellishing and turning into a brand new pattern.

Part of my blog challenge this month is to boost the content of this first fiction book.  Each excerpt, which will stand alone on this blog – will eventually be woven into the larger fabric of my book design.

Shrove Tuesday – Pancake Day

pancakes

That year of 1974, on the Sunday before Pancake Day, Ariel was skulking in her bedroom because she sensed that Mariel would be manifesting very soon. She’d crammed all her chores in to Saturday: laying the fire, scrubbing the kitchen and digging over the vegetable patch – all with such thoroughness and willingness that she would be left alone and unquestioned by her mother, and ready for when her Tutor came quietly to call.

With spring approaching and lighter nights lengthening, they spent much of their time together gazing at, and learning about the moon, and its mysterious influences. As a student in the craft of flying, moonlit nights were perfect for practise, for she could clearly see and learn the landmarks that she needed to navigate by.

When learning her lunar lore, Ariel, who rarely remembered numerical concepts, knew that Shrove Tuesday can fall anywhere between 3 February and 9 March, since it is exactly 47 days before the moveable feast of Easter Sunday, in turn determined by the timing of the current moon cycles.

More importantly to an impatient teenager, it was – for her – the day that started the slow tick down to Easter and her very next stay in Tregorwith Castle.

Now, with lunch out of the way, she dozed while she waited for Mariel to appear. She slept easily as all her chores had made her tired and especially too, since if they were to fly then she would need all her energy. She also did this because Mariel always liked to arrive by stealth and surprise. Ariel would always sense intuitively that Mariel was on her way, but could never expect her – instead Mariel would manifest suddenly at what she deemed to be the least expected moment. Her explanation was, that this unexpected element of surprise kept her movements secretive, safe and untraceable; yet Ariel suspected that her mentor did it more because she liked to keep her student on her toes, and not least because she always loved to make the most dramatic appearance possible.

Ariel could always see the smug satisfaction gained when she would turn around and find that Mariel had momentarily manifested and was smirking behind her, especially if she had made her jump with shock. Today though, she simply felt Mariel’s presence, sweetly through her slight sleep and she opened her eyes to see her feathered friend, fanning her awake, with the whisper of her wings.

“So, my sleepy sylph, wake up – it is time to Shrive” said Mariel. “To what..?” Ariel replied, sitting up and yawning. “To shrive, to absolve, then to resolve and release.” “Oh”, thought Ariel, “it’s going to be one of those lessons…”

“In order to fly” Mariel continued, “we have to think airily and eat lightly. You know already that in the hours before a long flight you must only eat the lightest of meals – in order that you are nourished enough to sustain yourself, but not weighed down by food and fat.”

Ariel’s mind wondered off to an advertisement she’d recently seen on Television, where a beautiful slim woman, ate airy, delicious, bread and was able to float easily away over a beautiful landscape in a sumptuous hot air balloon. She was slim and could float away because she was dieting, but for all that, she could still eat this special bread. Ariel’s mother, typically, would not buy the slimmer’s bread for her, since it was nearly twice the cost of their normal white sliced loaf… Of course Ariel couldn’t counter argue that she needed the slimmer’s bread so she could fly, so she just coveted it with a quiet pout, instead.

Mariel raised her voice to distract Ariel out of her floating thoughts: “So as we eat lightly, so also must we think lightly. For if we have heavy thoughts, then we are weighed down by woe and will not be able to navigate our flying journeys with the necessary elegance and ease. As we come to this point in the moon’s cycle then, starting our preparations for the approach of Easter, it is time to Shrive. To do this perfectly, you must let go of the dark words in your mind, of your fears, and of your cares. You can do this by confiding in me, my child. And you may confess your darkness’s to others too, but be careful as to who; for your confidences can be turned into curses if they are given into the wrong hands.

So tell me now what ails you; tell me what worries you; tell me what you are scared of; tell me of all that is wrong with your world.”

Ariel suddenly felt silently shy and dry of words. She was not used to revealing her thoughts to Mariel. She was used, instead to receiving Mariel’s lessons and her endless wisdoms, but not to share the cares of her mundane, earth bound world.

“I see this has silenced you, my sweet student, so let me ask you, gently and carefully – what was the last thing that you were afraid of?”

Ariel’s mind shot back to the bullies at school and soon she shared her secret tears and stories. More quiet questions from Mariel then came, and more answers Ariel returned. She spoke of the hardness of her mother, of their lack of money, how her mother would complain about her father and kept him firmly out of their lives. She cried and sniffed her way through her wandering woes.

Mariel next said, “So – now say to me of what is wonderful in your world. Tell me your blessings, and tell me all the things that you could ever be grateful for.”

Ariel hesitated and so Mariel said “how about your father – tell me about him.” And so Ariel spoke of Charles and she loved to be with him and all her Cornish family. And on, Mariel questioned through all the sweet areas of Ariel’s life in turn. They spoke of Tregorwith, of her favourite dress, of her dolls, her best friend and more besides.

“Now,” said Mariel “sense how you feel. Are you heavier or lighter in mind and heart?”

“I’m much lighter of course” Ariel smiled back, happily.

“Wonderful my little one, you are absolved. Your cares are let go and so today you will fly easy. But our conversation today cannot cure all these cares alone. To remember the importance of lightness, you must now lean into Lent. You know that in the Christian way, many give up sweets and treats for 40 days. For us this is critical in another way. You have to be lean and light to fly, so for Lent we will spare ourselves the sweets and the treats, so that we can fly light in every way too.

It’s not enough to do this jettisoning on one Lenten day when you have me near, so you must also leave out food treats, in the Emissarriat way, for the length of the 40 days of Lent. This will train you even more to be light of body. It will also remind you, every one of those 40 days, to remain light of heart. Keep this practice, in all the years that you are able to fly through life.

Know too, that your cares can return, so I have this gift for you.” She handed Ariel a small journal, covered in leather, embossed with golden entwining flowers. “This your journal. Keep it close. It is not created to record your cares – but to let them go and so to celebrate the wonders of your world. In it, write down your stories, and scribe out the things that you love. Tell too in these pages, waiting for you, of the things that you would love to be. Set down your dreams and all your airy plans.”

“Thank you. It’s so beautiful” said Ariel. “But my mother will find it, I know she will, she will find it and pry and poke fun at me. She’ll laugh at my dreams. She always does.”

“Look at your book” Mariel replied. “Look at the lock there. Here it’s tiny matching key”. I’ve set some magic over it. Keep it safe – out of sight, and these dreams and schemes, she shall not see.”

All’s well Ariel, so let’s fly, lightly, now.”

Ariel hid the journal under her bed and suddenly they were out in the skies. Mariel took her by the hand and raced her upwards through the flying, rushing world. They soon came to a village and hovered over a Pancake Race, taking place in a field below. Men dressed up as frowsy housewives, with floral aprons and scarves round their head, ran clumsily round a race track, tossing pancakes heavily, as they went. They looked so funny, with their male socks and shoes all at odds with their female garb. Ariel and Mariel laughed along with the crowd of friends and family.

Mariel whorled them round the world, swiftly, to stare at a series of Shrove spectacles. There were feasts and carnivals, fancy dress and bell tolling prayers. Ariel marveled at the speed that she was whisked around the globe, sometimes barely glancing at the happenings below. They spanned through Shrove days, through days of the week, through rushing wind and warm air. Round and through, up and along. Ariel was taken by the hand and swept along with the easy flight of Mariel’s magnificent wings. She beat her own wings barely for practice and to steady herself along the way.

Then suddenly they were back to Sunday. Back in her bland urban home. Landed in the bedroom above her mother’s suburban head.

“Happy Shrove Time” Mariel said. “Enjoy your pancakes on Tuesday, for that will be your final feast before you lighten for Lent. Remember to keep the writings in your journal light too. Show it to me again..?”

Ariel reached under the bed to pull the precious book out and of course when she turned back to reveal it, her tutor had flown and gone.

She looked down at the gorgeous book gift, then held it up to her nose to smell the fine leather. Next she fitted the tiny golden key into the lock and turned it with the sweetest, most satisfying click. She smoothed her fingers over the heavy, cool, cream coloured pages inside, turning them to gently flatten them against the stiff spine, to ready them for writing.

Ariel reached for a pen from her school bag and started to write. She wrote of the colourful sights she had seen that day and how they had taken flight seeing Shrove spectacles across Europe.

She wrote of the things that she had to look forward – to seeing her father and visiting Tregorwith.

She wrote that although her mother did not make cakes and soups and other such complicated things, she always made pancakes for them on Pancake Day.

And on Tuesday evening, there she was, sitting waiting at the table. He mother stood at the cooker and the pancakes come straight off the pan on to Ariel’s plate. Her mother handed her the plastic lemon, so she could squeeze the sharp juice from it and then she unrolled the sugar bag, dipped a clean teaspoon in to it and sprinkled her annual treat, daintily and thoroughly. Her mother then cooked her own pancake and embellished and gobbled it in the same way, until they had happily eaten 3 pancakes each.

So she had Shrove-feasted and now it was time to lighten for Lent. Much to her mother’s annoyance Ariel easily gave up puddings, despite being offered them nearly every evening for the next 40 days.

“You’re a strange one” her mother would say. “There’s no need to starve yourself. I went through the war and would have been glad of even half the food you turn your nose up at now.”

“But Mother,” Mariel thought “you can’t fly…”

~ Sandra Peachey

PS: This blog post is a fiction and yet I also write about my own experiences.  In fact a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, exploring all the facets of my ‘real’ life in all its’ badness, banality and beauty. This is love seen in every aspect of the life that I live.  In it you will find the dark and the light of love, in a way that will make you think, entertain you and let you know that you are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you… It is of course the perfect Valentine gift. You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ by Sandra Peachey, from book websites any where in the world, including on Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

Love Letter to My Warring Egos

February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 7 of 29

ego

Dear Ego

Did I just write Dear ego?! What a strange convention that in the world of letter writing we say ‘Dear Sir’, ‘Dear Miss Peachey’ ‘Dear Friend’. Yet over in the world of emails we seem to have gone to the opposite extreme: ‘Hi Sandra’, total strangers will write… ‘please… buy from me, pay me attention…’, etc., etc.

It’s one of life’s contradictions. And life is full of them. So I wander off into these tangential musings as I try to make sense of life’s twinning duplicities.

Even though I know these internal thought trajectories are my ego’s distraction from facing the external world – still they tramp through my brain; because if my mind is busy, then it’s distracted from allowing me to step into the spotlight… Oh I know all about spotlights, since I’ve spent a lot of time lurking back stage in theatre productions, conferences and class rooms. I’ve spent time on stage too, in many different capacities…

Yes – the spotlight! It’s a weird thing, that circle of super illumination. It has a warmth and brightness that beckons you to bask in it. It will follow you around the stage showing you the way, highlighting everything that you concurrently wish to reveal and maybe more; but sometimes it can blind you and often you cannot see your audience – since you are stranded in a peculiar, circular prison of concentrated, artificial light. Most people stand outside the spotlight – some ignore, some happy to watch, and some more standing in the dark contemplating how they can step in and be seen.

So with all these inherent contradictions, my ego both loves and loathes standing in the spotlight. What it loves is applause, agreement and praise. What it hates is indifference, disapprobation and looking like any shade of a fool. Meaning that, in the ebb and flow of my theatrical mind – the spotlight both is both seductive and destructive.

My ego wants many things… It wants to be loved; to have an easy life and an easy climb up onto the stage; it wants to be recognised and when it is – halleluiah – how wonderful, how edifying – the applause, attention and compliments make it glow and grow.

But then this ego starts to turn in to my alter ego and one compliment is never enough. This ego needs to be fed. It’s voracious – it can never have enough druggy adoration. And so it will always want its’ next fix…

And if it doesn’t get that fix, it soon forgets the warmth of the spotlight. When the audience leaves, what is the point of remaining on the stage? My ego then slinks off into the wings, shirks out of the theatre via the back door and leaves stealthily by cover of darkness.

It has such a short memory for praise, my ego. As far as it’s concerned, each piece of praise is a thing of the past almost as soon as it is uttered. Criticism though, lingers longer. It stabs like a dagger and its wounds often get infected as they fester away, ignored or untreated, in the dark.

So then my ego shuns the spotlight. It lives like a hermit in a dark deep cave and deliberately does not expose itself to further pain or ignominy. Or at least it tells me not to do that… And it’s a form of rampant protectionism. Essentially – it is telling me that I need to stay in the safety of the cave. It may be dark in there, but it is familiar and I know where everything is. ‘Leave the cave’ my alter ego says and I will be attacked by a savage pack of strange wolves, as well as being rejected by my tribe; and that will be death.

Maybe it’s fortunate that I have a low boredom threshold. Much as I love my cave, I do need to stretch my legs, and my ego beyond it.

One thing that gets me out there is my writing – just one of the many things that challenges my ego. I write and it feels as if my words somehow peel away all my surfaces, exposing all my vulnerabilities. It is something that I am impelled to anyway, not least because it completely confuses my duplicitous ego; which means that my writing begs both to be shared and to be hidden.

It’s a duality that fortunately I recognise. I post and publish (and be damned) anyway, because I don’t thrive in the dark and I don’t grow on my own. If I stay in my cave, I get demotivated and disconnected. My ego becomes the cave and wants to shut me in, so I don’t get hurt.

But if my ego will not commit compliments to memory, then I have to remind it of them in other ways. A year or so ago I started writing fiction and by doing so I’ve found a passion for it, so fierce, that I simultaneously want to shout about it and hide it. So I started, shared samples of it and then was scared of it. My ego told me it would be too much hard work to write a long loved novel, only to then face the ultimate rejection… But I know this pattern and so I store up the feedback too and here are the comments about my first public piece of fiction writing:

  • “Fiction is your thing. That is beautifully written. Thank you for sharing”.
  • “Your writing is beautiful, it drew me in and made me want to read more … and I feel the story you have to share is a soul message … your heart is ready to write this fictional masterpiece”.
  • “There needs to be a LOVE button. That was so beautiful, flowing, poetic … Had me wanting to know her life before and after this …”
  • “It’s beautiful … you do indeed have the wonderful gift of being able to write fictional prose. So pleased you are sharing this with the world… and you can’t keep this gift to yourself.” *

So after sitting in the dark with my book and doing nothing about it for so long, it is a shock to see those words of encouragement again…

But then sitting in the dark is painfully easy. I’m now choosing to put myself out there into the spotlight any way. I may be ignored, I could be criticised; but you see, the spotlight is not my final destination. It’s just a place where I have decided I will dance for a while. To me, recognition can be the applause of millions or even more satisfyingly, it is that one voice that tells you that you made a difference. And I have to tell you that both my ego and my alter ego can find no better contentment in this world than that.

So, my dear twin egos – I see you for what are: friend and foe; light and dark; stupid and smart.

And that could just describe me, on any given day, couldn’t it?

Well, I’ve always said that I’m a creature of contradictions – so I’ll still feel fear and step out there, regardless. I’ll start with the act of creation and work towards the contentment of completion. Then my twins, we can deal with the feedback later.

That’s my decision made then. It’s time to bow out of this letter.

Yours egotistically
Sandra
Sandra Peachey
Coach, Author and Apologist

PS: As Valentine’s Day comes around and you are thinking of a gorgeous gift, a collection of the ‘Peachey Letters’ from this blog have been gathered together, along with new material, into a beautiful non fiction book.  It makes the perfect present, for you and for your loved ones … You can buy Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life on my website here or from Amazon (in Paperback and Kindle), order it at any bookshop, or indeed buy it from all good book websites around the world…

PPS: * If you would like to know what my readers were commenting about, check it out here…