I received this message from fellow blogger, Dee…oooh…quite some time ago. I’ve finally got around to it.
I’ve always loved your fiction stories and thought you might be interested in writing one based on a photo prompt!
If you are, attached is the photo and here is my own take on it.http://adeecodedlife.com/2015/05/hateful-holiday.html
Bearabilities – Jules Smith
Isobel picked at the splintered, parched wood on the picnic table at the country park. She felt as dried out and bleached as it looked ; a mainstay of comfort for those seeking a moment of respite from their burdens. Her friend, Sally, opposite her in quiet contemplation. They sat like that for a few minutes as the sun flicked in and out from behind the clouds like glimmers of hope. The sound of the zip bag opening made Isobel glance up from the table for a moment to see Sally pulling out the homemade lemonade and muffins from her cool bag and placing them on the table. The worn surface now brightened by the picnic items like a made up face.
The cloudy drink awaited her in the also cloudy, plastic tumbler.
“What about Lewis?” Sally asked.
Isobel glanced over at her son, sat quietly on the bridge with his bear. Deep within himself except for the random toddler talk he shared with his furry friend.
“I’m trying to keep him off sugar at the moment. He ranges from hyper angry to completely withdrawn.” Isobel sighed and continued looking to her son with tired eyes. Everything was so much effort at the moment. “I gave him some fruit before we came out but half of it got squished into the carpet because “Bear” didn’t like it.”
“What did the paediatrician say?” Sally enquired.
“They’re just monitoring him at the moment and he’s done some more play work with the child psychologist. It’s just time and attention and helping him to come through the grief because he doesn’t understand it. But….it’s been nearly a year now and he just seems to be getting worse…more withdrawn and so attached to that bear it feels unhealthy.”
“They say that twins have an incredible bond. A deep connection that’s so different from that of usual siblings. He will be OK, in time. What about you?”
Isobel felt the tug of grief in her stomach like a poked wound. The tears threatened escape behind her eyes but she swallowed down the forceful emotion and left it to churn in fury around her torso. How would she ever get over the loss of her child? How could she ever believe in good again when death had cruelly stolen him in the night for no reason. And every time she looked at Lewis, she saw Leon; she saw a loss and a blessing together. No amount of time could take that visual reminder away.
Sally reached over and placed her hand on top of hers and stilled her fingers. “Stop trying to be invincible, nobody expects it. Its OK to be lost.”
Isobel stared at her friends hand and felt her inner wall rebuild itself from the attack of kindness. Soft words were like plasters on her cuts but she couldn’t allow them to let her crumble. Courage and strength were her best allies; denial her shield.
“Is Jack helping?” Sally posed the question with care.
The thought of her ex husband was another blow. The trauma of losing a child had broken them. Their forever dreams ending in a car crash: written off.
“My college sweetheart is now just a sperm donor with a cheque book.” She felt mean saying that but that’s what he’d become. Detaching himself was his medicine and the only way he could move forward. Their interactions were that of necessity now. “Sorry…I didn’t mean that to sound so harsh,” Isobel wiped her palms over her face, “It’s hard for him too and he does what he can.”
Lewis sat in front of Bear. Everything was nice when he was with him. Bear had told him that he’d never go away.
“Don’t let Mummy take you away from me,” Bear whispered. “It’s always been you and me. It always has to be you and me.”
Lewis hugged his bear tight. He wouldn’t let Mummy take him away. Bear had told him that Mummy was bad when she tried to take him away. She’d tried to stop him coming to play today so Bear had told him to squish the food she gave him into the carpet. He did and Mummy let Bear come with him when he’d screamed. But he knew Mummy didn’t love Bear. Bear had told him. It made him not like Mummy.
Isobel reached down to lift Lewis from the floor. “Come on superstar, time to go.”
Lewis kicked and screamed as she pulled him away from Bear.
“See what I mean?” She turned to Sally, “If I take him away from this teddy he freaks out.”
“You need to wean him off slowly. When I tried to get Mattie off his dummy I had to hide it every now and then. Eventually he’ll start to forget about it. It’s just a comfort. “ Sally said.
Isobel snatched the bear from the bridge with her other hand. She remembered buying him with Jack when she was pregnant with the twins. Now she found him menacing, which was stupid but the attachment Lewis had with this toy was starting to be abnormal.
Sally took the bear from Isobel as she fought to hold her struggling toddler. “Hey, Lewis,” she smiled at him, “how about Bear stays with me for a little while and has a picnic? I think he’d like that!”
Lewis reached his arms out to Bear and began to cry.
Bear did not want that. Bear didn’t want to stay. She was a big liar.
“It’s OK Lewis, “ she continued, “I’ll look after him and make sure he has a nice time and bring him home later.” She held bear and made him dance in front of him with her arms.
Bear hated her.
“Go on, you go,” Sally nodded to her friend, “I’ll come round later with him. Let’s give it a try.”
Lewis began to scream as Isobel walked away towards the car.
Sally tucked the teddy under the strap of her cool bag and walked over the bridge towards the river. She felt sorry for Isobel. She had so much to deal with whilst not dealing with her own grief. If she could just help her in little ways, maybe that would be something.
She ambled along the edge of the river looking for a nice spot to sit and maybe read a few chapters of her book before heading back. She started to feel a little queasy and dizzy. Maybe it was the lemonade she’d made. Too much sugar…
All the way home Lewis had screamed. Getting him strapped in his car seat had been a nightmare as he’d arched his back and pulled at Isobel’s hair. People in the car park had stared at her as they stood with their placid little children. The 15 minute drive home had seemed an eternity and she was close to crying with frustration.
She placed Lewis on his bed when they arrived home hoping he’d nap for a while. Whilst he was still fighting her, he was becoming weaker with the effort. The anger turning to soft sobs of despondency. Trying to reason with a toddler was futile.
She closed the door behind her and sank down to the floor, leaning against it, knees up with her head in her arms not knowing how much more of this she could take. With her eyes closed, she took deep breaths in time with the cries behind the door.
Isobel woke with a start. She’d drifted away somewhere for a while as the sobs had abated and a quietness had taken hold. She didn’t know how long she’d dozed off for but now she was awake she felt a little odd. A feeling of panic and nausea spread through her. It was the probably the stress. She stretched her cramped legs out in front of her and touched the bannister spindles with her toes. The silence in the room behind turned into giggles. Lewis had clearly woken up and was in a happier mood. She smiled. They’d get through this together eventually. Isobel got to her feet and tried to ignore the uneasiness within and put on her happy, Mummy face as she opened the door to Lewis’s bedroom.
The sight before her took her breath away and made her knees buckle. She clung to the brass door handle as she stared inside at her boy, his back to her as he sat facing his furry, teddy bear.
“What the…” she whispered. She turned her head around swiftly to look for her friend. Where was she? She went over to the window to see if her car was outside. But it wasn’t.
It wasn’t because Sally had never left the country park and was travelling face down in the river, riding with the currents until some poor soul found her body.
Isobel turned from the window back to her son. Was she going mad?
Lewis pulled his friend towards him and turned towards his Mummy. His face an unreadable canvas.
“BEAR!” he squealed.