5 years ago…..

Five years ago I wrote a story titled ‘ The Gift’

I wrote it about a person I knew at the time, who I have since lost contact with, writing a fictional story about the situation was my way of coping…. a way of expressing my anger, sadness, helplessness and disbelief that someone could live such a constricted and constrained manner.

I was merely a bystander, looking on, I could not say or do anything as this person would not have taken too kindly to any suggestion that they might want to stop for a minute,  slow down and take a few deep breaths…simple steps which would have provided the opportunity to ponder whether this gift called life could be played out any differently.

I did not feel comfortable broaching that subject…so I left it alone, wrote a story about it and got on with life….

The shrill sound of her alarm clock radio shattered the early morning silence. She reached out from under the doona in the direction of the noise, a heavy hand coming down hard on the snooze button.

Could it really be morning already? she thought……..the sound of her flatmate rustling together some breakfast in the kitchen confirming a truth she was not ready to accept.

Her attempts to ease herself into the idea of another working week by resting for a further 10 minutes were futile. She tossed and turned, could not get comfortable and as her alarm sounded again, she jerked upright in bed.

Staring blankly at the bath towel on the door handle she knew what she has to do. Her morning routine was endured not enjoyed, it had been followed mindlessly for as long as she could remember. A shower, the ironing of the corporate wardrobe, the application of makeup and a brisk walk to the train station. She did not engage in morning chit-chat with her flatmates or allow herself the luxury of a cup of tea or piece of toast.

Once at the office she would work solidly from 8am till 7pm, not stopping for a break. On her return to the house in the evening, she would grab whatever she could find from her food shelf and retreat to her room.

She forced herself out of bed, sighing loudly as she stood up. Her outlook on the working week was bleak. It was a cycle she wanted to break but she did not know how. Many times she has been told my family, friends and work colleagues that it was necessary to reevaluate her hard-edged approach to work, to find balance. Yet overwhelmed by the pressure to succeed and accumulate wealth she dared not stop.

‘The next train to arrive on platform one goes to Circular Quay, first stop……..’

At the train station she began to think of work and the tasks that awaited her in the office……. the filing, the emails and phone calls. As the train approached the platform, her belly grumbled. She placed her hand to her stomach and ignoring her hunger pains she entered the carriage and took a seat.

The Monday morning carriage scene was predictable. A sea of grey and black suits, beige blouses and pink ties. Though the carriage patrons were familiar faces, she did not offer a cheerful good morning or a kind smile. She positioned herself next to the window and shut her eyes as the train propelled rapidly toward the city.

‘This station is Stanmore’

Another wave of suits piled into the carriage. Amongst the commuters a child’s voice could be heard, excitedly exclaiming, ‘Mummy, I’ve found a seat!’

The mother and son sat down, the mood of the carriage shifting as the young boy questioned’ Mummy, is this train called Thomas?’

She opened her eyes to the sounds of restrained laughter from fellow passengers. The Mother and the young boy were sitting directly in front of her. He was dressed in dressed in brightly coloured clothes and his mother smiled in her direction whilst she gently swept unruly brown curls from his eyes.

She wished she had sat elsewhere that morning. The rest of the journey would be filled with the boy’s squeals of excitement and careless chatter. Was it too much to ask for some morning quiet?

‘This station is Newtown’

‘Mummy’

‘Yes Christopher’

‘Mummy, why is everyone dressed in black?’

‘There off to work, just like Daddy!’

‘ But Mummy, why does everyone look so sad?’

The man in the pink tie at the front of the carriage overheard this and chuckled to himself, so did the lady in the beige blouse.

Yet she did not smile. She stared out the window and wished that the mother and child would get off the train.

‘Excuse me Lady’, said the young boy.

He was requesting her attention. She stared vacantly in his direction. In his hands was a tiny violet and he was motioning for her to take it.

She took the gift from the boy with such haste that the child retreated into the arms of his Mother. She forced a smile, placed the flower on her lap and began to examine it.

Its beauty captivated her. She marvelled at its perfectly formed petals and its striking colour. Holding the flower to her nose, its sweet perfume made her dizzy………

‘ The next station is Central’

Newspapers were folded and the air was filled with the gentle murmur of commuters preparing to alight the train. The train was nearing her stop and she was nowhere near the exit of the train. She was always near the exit door when approaching her stop.

Flustered, she pushed her way past the people who stood in the aisle and made it to the carriage doors as the train pulled into pulled into the station. Stepping of the train, she sighed aloud, repositioned her skirt and head toward to escalator.

‘Christopher, we are getting off at the next stop’, and taking her child’s hand, they moved towards the carriage exit.

‘Mummy, wait!’, and he bent down and collected the remains of the violet he had given the lady.

‘Why didn’t she like my gift?’

‘I don’t know. But it you give it to me, I’d like that very much’

And as he placed the crushed remains of the flower in her hand, she bent down to give her son an all-embracing cuddle.

5 years later I still think about the person that I based this story on. Where they able to bring about the much-needed change in their life? Or are they still on the same path, unable to see beauty in the ordinary, the everyday?

5 years later this story stays with me, resonates with me, as when I wrote this I too was in denial about changes that needed to occur in my own life, changes that would allow me to see life’s gifts on a day-to-day basis.

5 years later I can look back on the person I was, to the person I now am, and forward with hope to the person I will become and truly know that although change is hard, it is both necessary and vital if you are to embrace this crazy little thing called life.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dad
    Aug 19, 2012 @ 07:58:06

    Kate possibly your best to date love Dad

    Reply

  2. Mum
    Aug 19, 2012 @ 08:02:24

    A powerful piece of writing. Beautifully crafted. Have read it a couple of times. It’s great!

    Reply

  3. Mixed Gems
    Aug 21, 2012 @ 13:32:06

    Loved this. Beautiful, moving and thought provoking. xx

    Reply

  4. Catch Up With A Mate
    Apr 19, 2017 @ 03:54:31

    Reblogged this on Catch Up With A Mate.

    Reply

  5. Di Talty
    Apr 19, 2017 @ 05:49:57

    Oh Kate this is just beautiful, it is so relevant in all of our lives just to stop, slow down and cherish each precious moment. ❤️

    Reply

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