You spend your life worrying about the little things – have the kids eaten a healthy tea, can I afford to take the youngest for lunch in the coffee shop or buy them new pyjamas? Then life throws you a curve ball, like being laid off or an illness, and all those petty worries seem meaningless.
Only they don’t. They seem huge; bigger than before. Because in a world gone to shit they’re the things you think you can control.
As parents we can’t keep our kids safe all the time, so we stress about making sure they’re fed and have slept well.
In work we can’t stop ourselves being in the next round of budget cuts so we focus on not getting fired at least.
You might have gathered that we got thrown a curve ball today. Not something I can discuss, except to say I’m gonna have to sell a whole heap of books to make a tiny dent in the financial hole that has gashed open beneath our feet. One of those life sucks and you move on moments, where, through no fault of your own, you’re suddenly at the bottom of a deep pit and need to start climbing.
No one’s ill, no one died. Though I may have to put my author dreams on hold for a while and get a proper job that pays more than a $10 royalty cheque every other month. For now, we pour a glass of wine, give each other a hug and say, “You and me against the world, hun.”
And file it away as a great story that may, or may not, have a happy ending. (I put a strapline on the back of my Baby Blues print version yesterday: “A happy ending is just a story that hasn’t ended yet…” Ho hum.)
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 peered through the battered window and tried to enjoy the view, but her heart sat like a lead block wedged in her chest. Low cloud still swirled around the pointed peaks of the fjords, but at least the rain had stopped. The pilot assured her the flight would be without incident. Claire decided she wouldn’t count on anything until she was on the ground.
The rucksack at her feet took up the same space it had done the day before, but in her mind it was smaller: diminished by the loss of her Helly Hansen boots and the tablet that had kept her company through months of solitude. In the new simplified world of travelling, when everything else had been stripped away – her car, her apartment, her friends – the impersonal black rectangle had come to represent home. Her contact with the world, her reading material, her music, her photos, her memories: all stored in the small device.
With a harsh laugh, Claire remembered a fantasy novel she’d read as a teenager, where the solution to the survival of a community of people was hidden inside blank black cubes.
Who knew that fantasy would meet reality so soon?
With a shrug, she tried to convince herself it was just a possession; no different to having her phone stolen when she was mugged.
Except everything was backed up to the cloud, then.
Pushing the dark thoughts aside, Claire gazed out at the view that had cost her so much. She searched for a sense of excitement at the thought of going home. Some feeling of returning older, wiser, with a pocketful of experiences. Instead, the future yawned ahead like the long snaking tunnel whose closure had forced her to hock her favourite possessions.
Oh, pull yourself together, Claire, for heaven’s sake. Enough maudlin crap. This is life, get on with it.
Sitting straighter in her seat, Claire focussed on what needed to be done, in order of time and priority. Finding the bus to Christchurch, or booking on another one if the tour bus had left already. Checking in for her flight. Getting home, getting to Dorset, finding a new car.
Beneath the mire, a flicker of joy bubbled at the thought of seeing Conor in a few days. His quirky texts had kept her smiling through the last few weeks, and she hoped that would continue even when he was her boss.
The hulking elephant in the room of her mind was Kim. Just thinking about seeing her again made Claire’s mouth dry. Her head throbbed with the thought of how to mend their broken friendship. Her countless emails had received no response, not even from Jeff.
I screwed up, I have to fix it. But how? I can’t give her another baby. I can’t unsay the words.
A thought Claire hadn’t admitted to herself before reared up. She tried to ignore it but it tugged at her sleeve.
And is it really my fault? Michael shouted it out for everyone to hear, not me. Kim never told me to keep it a secret. I’m all for taking responsibility for my actions, but where do you stop?
Claire ran her hands through her hair. She was tired of feeling low; tired of the world smothering her in blackness. She wanted to laugh, to get through a day without analysing her every thought and action. To feel alive again.
Do I really need possessions to make me happy? I don’t remember ever being this miserable when I worked for Carl, despite him being a tosser and life having no meaning. Suddenly now I know I want more from life and I feel like crawling into a cave and never coming out. What’s that all about?
Tears trickled down Claire’s cheeks, but she ignored them. Maybe if she didn’t give the black thoughts any attention, they’d go away.
Beneath her, the monochrome landscape continued on unending.
- When life throws you a curve ball ………… (alisoncrossjones.wordpress.com)
- Life’s Curve-balls: 2013 365 Challenge #253 (writermummy.wordpress.com)
- Is it just me or does life throw curve balls when you least expect it ? (nanasnaturalcare.wordpress.com)
- Facing Reality. (eatprayandlift.com)