Tears for Thomas: 2013 365 Challenge #182

Enjoying a tractor ride at Nene Valley Railway

Enjoying a tractor ride at Nene Valley Railway

Goodness me, it’s 1st July. I’ve made it through six months of my daily writing challenge. Last night, the sixth volume of Two-Hundred Steps Home appeared on Smashwords and has already had 25 downloads.

Baby Blues (Part One!) went to the proofreader last night too. It should have been all of it, but a crazy-busy weekend meant it didn’t quite happen. I hope to have finished editing the last 20 pages today, so the proofreader can have the whole manuscript, and I can get back to just worrying about Claire, promoting Dragon Wraiths (which will probably mean putting it back in the Select Programme, seeing as Smashwords has not produced additional sales), and catching up on some of the other projects that have been waiting for my attention.

July also means my daughter starts school in two months, and my son is ten weeks from his 3rd birthday. I know parenting continues to be challenging, but I do feel like I’ve survived a hurricane and can start rebuilding my house.

The penyy-farthing following us on the tractor ride

The penny-farthing following us on the tractor ride

Yesterday, visiting Thomas the Tank Engine, at the local steam railway, was a perfect example. We went to say farewell, as the little blue steam engine is going to hospital for his ten-year check up. The day was still tiring, still stressful, but oh so much easier than it would have been a year ago. No pushchair, no nappies (unfortunately it also means dashes to the toilet and forgetting to pack wet-wipes for the ice cream mess. Ah well.)

We watched the model railway, with James and Thomas, Emily and Percy (trains), as well as cameos from Postman Pat and Peppa Pig. (Photos will follow, when my computer stops being a pain). We sat in a cream and blue carriage while Thomas pulled us along the track and through a long tunnel. We went to a Victorian fair and had a tractor ride, sitting on straw bales. We had ice cream. We saw a man on a penny-farthing. A great day.

I watched mothers with pushchairs, with a toddler and a baby, and I wanted to help. I wanted to say, it gets easier. I wanted to reassure them it was worth the effort. I couldn’t, I don’t know how to do that without sounding patronising. But I hope they saw me with mine and saw a future where their children could both climb on the train unassisted and didn’t need carrying!

And now my daughter has tears for Thomas. She woke up crying last night, because she missed Thomas. This is a steam train we have visited maybe four times, which is going for a boiler overhaul and won’t be back for a year. My daughter’s capacity for empathy is bewildering and amazing in equal measure. One more thing to be thankful for, I guess!


Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:


Claire dragged at the car handle, but it wouldn’t open. She aimed a kick at the tyre and immediately regretted it, as her toe stabbed through the skimpy sandals she’d purchased to go with her maid of honour dress.

Behind her, she could hear that the band had started their next song. Slowly, the conversation returned, almost drowning out the sound of approaching footsteps. They weren’t the light ones she wanted to hear, but the heavy tread of an unwelcome male. For a moment she hoped it might be Jeff, come to reassure her that Kim wasn’t really that angry. Then she caught a hint of aftershave on the night breeze, and hope died.

Praying she could escape into the dark, Claire scurried round the car and wove through the others in the car park until she reached a Range Rover. Without thinking, Claire ducked down in the shadow of the 4×4 and listened. The footsteps stopped, and she felt he might hear her heart thudding in the silence, despite the sounds of the party in the distance.


Michael’s voice rang out, closer than Claire expected. She flinched, but stayed ducked low, trying not to dwell on how absurd her actions were.

“Come on, Claire. I saw you come over here. The Skoda’s locked. Why are you hiding like a child?”

Because you sound like an angry parent. Claire clenched her jaw, and dug her nails into her hand. She concentrated on keeping her breathing shallow. Go away, Michael. You’ve done enough damage. Let me skulk off in peace.

The footsteps came nearer, crunching the gravel underfoot. Claire tensed, ready to run. She wondered if she should remove her sandals, but they were preferable to running barefoot across the stones. Michael stood between her and the hostel entrance.

“What are you going to do, Claire? Hide out here all night? I’m going to go and wait in our room, so you’ll have to face me eventually.” He stopped, as if listening for a response.

“You’re being childish, Claire. So Kim’s angry, so what? She’s the bride and, from what you say, she’s pregnant. Tears and tantrums go with the territory.” His voice sounded amused, patronising. Claire wanted to fly at him and gouge his eyes with her pink nails.

What did I ever see in him? What a self-satisfied prig. Kim was right. Thinking about her best friend – and the look of anger on her face as she inadvertently revealed her secret to all her wedding guests – brought bile to Claire’s throat. Her head thumped with too much champagne and she swallowed hard against the urge to vomit. That would give her away for sure.

Tears leaked from the corners of her eyes. What a mess. She shivered, realising it was bitterly cold out in the car park, away from the heat of the hostel.  Come on Michael, go away! She wondered if he was going to stand there all night, cornering her until she had to break cover or freeze. Then she remembered his threat to stand guard over her bag and car keys. What a tosser.

“Okay, Claire. Have it your way. I’m going to sit in the warm and wait for you to come to your senses.”

She heard the sound of gravel crunching, fading into the distance, as Michael carried out his threat.

“Damn!” Claire whispered, when she was sure he was gone. She stood and stretched out cramped muscles, resisting the temptation to lean against the Range Rover in case it set off the alarm. “How am I going to get my stuff back, without facing him?”

She stood in the dark and brushed away the tears, as options ran through her mind. She could bribe a member of staff to distract him, or call the police and tell them Michael was harassing her. Or she could get the RAC to get her into the car, tell them she had dropped the keys down a drain. Or she could just face him, and get it over with. Get the hell out, and leave him and his self-righteous preaching behind.

Shoulders back, chin high, Claire strode towards the building.


4 thoughts on “Tears for Thomas: 2013 365 Challenge #182

  1. Go Claire! Can’t wait to see that confrontation.

    Congrats on blogging daily for 6 months. That’s impressive!

    And yes, it does get easier as kids get older! I’m finding 9 most pleasant (most of the time!)

    • Yes, enjoying making Michael into the bad person, I think I’ve spent too much time editing baby blues and Daniel is rubbing off on him. Those two would hate each other though, because Michael thinks he is a gentleman who treasures women (because, of course, that’s what they want and need!)

  2. Way to go, 6 months is a huge milestone. I can’t imagine how you get so much done and still seem to have a great time with your little ones. Mine still throw fits if I dare use the computer during the day or when they think I should be entertaining them. Sigh. One day…

    • I cheat, Jodi! They go to nursery 2.5 days a week, and I ignore my husband after I’ve fed him at 8.30pm and write until midnight! 🙂
      They are just about of an age that I can do a bit of editing or structuring when they’re playing in the garden, or work on designing book covers: anything that means I can still listen and respond to the wails when one hurts the other or falls of their bike! Only two years until they’re both at school…;)

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