Long time no write…I’ve felt that familiar itch again recently. I don’t know if this will be the one thing I write this year, or if it will become a regular thing again. I’m just going to go with the flow and see what happens. The following is a short story I wrote recently. I hope you enjoy!
“Stop running away from me,” the woman screamed at the small boy as he rocketed towards the road yet again.
She closed her hand around his arm just before he managed to leave the footpath. He squirmed and tried to loosen her vice like grip. Her grip tightened and she clenched her teeth to stop the vitriol in her head from spewing out. She knew the damage that those words could do to a growing child, and she’d told herself that she would be better than her parents. She had to be better. He deserved better.
The boy finally stopped trying to make a break for the road and instead was skipping beside her happily. She marvelled at how quickly his mood changed. He didn’t hold grudges when she chastised him. He didn’t act like he was afraid when she yelled. She’d grown up with long silences and the air thick with tension after a disagreement. Maybe she was doing something right in this parenting caper.
Up ahead the bus stop loomed into view. She sighed with relief after checking the time and realising that she still had time to spare before the bus arrived. She wasn’t sure she could control her son for another hour until the next one arrived. Her eyes itched and she rubbed her eye in its socket until she could see stars. The lack of sleep the was starting to catch up with her. When she wasn’t staying up to catch up on the jobs she’d missed during the busy day, she was laying awake in the dark, alone with her thoughts.
The bus stop was in full sun and the seat burned the back of her legs as she sat down. She pulled her son onto her lap, not wanting him to burn his legs on the hot seat. He squirmed and hit her with his little hands, trying to wrestle free from her grasp. She kept an eye on the busy road. She knew that if he broke free, he would head straight for the cars, and she didn’t trust that her reflexes would be quick enough to stop him in time. Her heart felt like it was going to beat right out of her chest. She tried to slow her breathing and keep the growing anxiety at bay.
She reached into her pocket and took out her phone, opening the video app. She knew that all the experts said that too much screentime was bad, but she was desperate to keep her son still. He finally stopped trying to escape and started giggling at the cartoon characters on the screen. She felt her shoulders unclench as her son’s warm body relaxed into hers. He smelled of fresh dirt and cookies. She smiled as she remembered his chubby fingers digging in the garden before they’d left for the day.
While her son was occupied by the colourful screen, she pulled the gold locket out from under her shirt. She looked at the picture inside and felt tears welling in her eyes. Today was the fifth anniversary of the death of the little girl that no one knew existed. She had hidden her pregnancy from everyone around her, and grieved alone when the car accident at this very intersection took her before she had a chance to come into the world. Her rainbow boy giggled again, and she smiled at how lucky she truly was.