#fridayflash Tales of monsoon and adventure

She woke to the sound of the monsoon drumbeat and all she could think was ‘my sheets!’ She had left them on the washing line all night. She had stepped out into the garden before going to bed and the air was so starched linen clean that she’d stopped – the dusk against her cheeks – and taken in a cool breath. She had spoken aloud ‘They will be alright’. The stars winked.

When she went back into the kitchen the milk was still left out on the table, the butter unlidded, knives and forks at cross purposes, splotches of Rorschach sauce across the tablecloth in which she saw an octopus. The tarot of her son’s collector cards scattered on the floor told her that there would be an arduous task ahead but that she would triumph over adversity.

In the bedroom her husband slept open mouthed, agog at his dreams. A fly buzzed against the side lamp, sleazily addicted to light. He rose and hovered over her husband’s face and oh, she feared for him. She made a SWAT team out of the many facets of her love. But she couldn’t stand his snoring. When she knew he was safe, she went to sleep in the spare room.

There was a ‘less-of-the-old!’ woman who lived on a shoestring budget and had so many children that she had a difficult time fitting in all the lunchmaking, drop offs, pickups, activities, homework, bedtime routines, behaviour management with the requisite reward and sticker charts, naughty steps, timeout, privilege curtailment, grounding, not to mention all the cajoling, counselling, clothing and the cooking of large tender casseroles and quantities of broth and porridge. How she longed for a magic porridge pot that would continue cooking until the town was filled up and people could only trudge in its gloop instead of racing about trying to get places, get ahead of themselves so they could see their space-time anomalies coming back richer, happier, more productive.

And the children. There was so much hothousing going on that many of the children she saw these days were round and redfaced like tomatoes, ready to split at any minute.

She unwrapped her Mummy self from the sheets in the spare room and went to bathe in clamour.

After she’d got the kids to school, long after she’d snuck into the bedroom to see if her husband had dined on minibeasts at all, long after she’d woke in the night to the sound of sheets drowning and felt guilt about everything, she drank a cup of coffee so slowly that the coffee beans grew back into the ground and rooted her. She remembered a day in a long life ago when the filamentous achenes of a dandelion clock scudded across a sun sodden sky. When she scooped all her whoops up and ran with abandon

Oh, oh, oh.

Her handbag was heavy with undertakings. Lists that sucked the life out.

They had played games with ropes that she could always get out of, spies and hostages, nothing sinister. They walked across the tops of gates and never fell off. She liked the adventures best.

‘Many of the men I know are former boys’ she thought as she pulled up at Tescos.

At the trolley bay she grabbed a man walking past with his jiggly fizzy toddler, kissed him on the mouth. She got the taste of the cheese and onion crisps that he was sharing with his son. They had always been her favourite as a child. Later she had switched to salt and vinegar.

The man was scratching his almost bald head.

‘You’re lovely but it’s nothing personal’ she said. She pictured him walking across the top of a gate. The toddler laughed warily.

She went inside to do the supermarket shop.

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24 comments

  1. written with feeling – I recognise a lot of this (similar veined to my unpubbed ‘mothering’ novel). Always battling to shore up against entropy. Her poetry will be her saviour, for all the mundanities that tug at the frayed threads of her dreams. Loved the predictive tarot kiddy card spread & diagnostic Rorshach sauce.

    You’re going to say achene which I hadn’t heard of, but I actually really like filamentous!

    Marc

  2. When she scooped all her whoops up and ran with abandon.

    Such a lovely, telling sentence, neat summary of all her yearning (and mine and — yours?). Beautiful. peace…

  3. ‘Many of the men I know are former boys’ – same said of so many women, esp. mothers, overrun, out of breath, wishing for something like childhood again, and the sad part, watching their own children having to grow up too early. We move too fast.

    I think of that Wordsworth line, ‘the world is too much with us.’ We really should be able to run with abandon more, even as we could live at a slower place, be brave enough for our whimsy. Your story is a bittersweet reminder.

    Lovely again.
    DJ

  4. I almost want to apologise but I won’t because the fact that I get flashes out most weeks is a miracle in my current circumstances. The reason I feel like apologising is that while this is not absolutely autobiographical its obviously not quite a story either. Perhaps I should call it a philosophy or just a ‘thing’, if it resonates or connects, most of the job is done.

  5. Oh my god Alison, this is absolutely wonderful. Don’t even *think* about apologising, it’s a perfect slice of life piece!

    Possibly even a slice of both of our lives, mixed up together.

    I love it!

  6. Oh oh I loved this woman, and how perfectly she echoes probably every mum on the face of the planet! You’ve got such an incredible skill at nailing a detail perfectly – I loved the bit where “she drank a cup of coffee so slowly that the coffee beans grew back into the ground and rooted her”.

    Fab job Alison 🙂

  7. As always, Alison, I love the playful use of language, which in this tale, serves quite well to set the tone and enhance the message. I wanted to point out here in my comment the specific words, sentences, and phrases that I particularly loved, but then I realized I’d pretty much just have to cut and paste the whole story, and really, what would be the point of that?

    Great job! Looking forward to next week’s offering.

  8. Apologise? Are you kidding me? Alison, no word you write needs apology, not one.

    I too like the phrases others have mentioned, but this is my favorite: “There was so much hothousing going on that many of the children she saw these days were round and redfaced like tomatoes, ready to split at any minute.” Such a vivid image in so few words. I want to be you if I ever grow up. 🙂

  9. Let me join the chorus of “no need to apologize.” This is brilliant. You have a way of getting that thoroughly intimate view of the inside of your character’s head in such a lovely and poetic way. Even though I’m not a mom, I can completely empathize with her.

    You’re an artist with a true gift.

  10. AH Alison – I’m on paragraph 2 and already I’m wriggling in my seat squeaking, ‘God, she’s good!’ This is just wonderful: “The tarot of her son’s collector cards scattered on the floor told her that there would be an arduous task ahead…” Every bloomin’ line is briliant and clever and often so totally amusing. It’s so full.
    SWAT! ha ha!
    This is one of my favourites of yours so far.
    I don’t know why the rest of us bother quite frankly 😉
    Seriously though – you’re a delight to read and I can’t seem to run out of compliments for you….. Ditto Deanna’s last line

  11. Alison, this is beautiful it highlights the conflicting emotions of motherhood, how the mother can lose herself in the everyday, but has moments when her real self emerges. Poetic language, beautifully written.

  12. No apologies needed for this piece, Alison – it was terrific. Captures the frenetic, harried, sometimes disappointed life of a woman who still has a lust for life and can occasionally grasp at it. Can’t wait for the little boy to go home and tell mommy what happened at the grocery store today.
    ~jon

  13. Wow. You write in such a way that I cannot predict what you are about to say which is riveting. Once you say it I can form the pictures in my head and get caught up in it completely which is like taking an absence from my surroundings for just a while. I am hooked. Thank you for writing this. I am very new to flashfiction and looking forward to being a part of the community.

    1. Yes, it was an entirely different man altogether. Her husband doesn’t like cheese and onion crisps! (not speaking autobiographically).

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