We are currently going through a very tough time, my OH is still off work sick and his employers are still behaving as if they are brothers of Satan. Even though our Dr thinks they have caused his condition to worsen, they have decided to withdraw all of his salary from the 8th July. (He was previously on half pay). What this means for us, is we have to sell our beautiful house, because we won't have enough to cover the mortgage. It went on the market a couple of weeks ago. Because of the pain it causes us, the estate agents have been so kind - and are doing all of the viewings for us.
Once we've paid the outstanding mortgage off, we'll have to try find somewhere to live with whatever's left. In the meantime, we're giving away possessions so that what we do store won't (hopefully) cost an arm and a leg, while we search for something new.
That's why there hasn't been much happening here, I'm sorry to say. Today, this will be rectified. Now you've read the horror story that is our current life - do you fancy reading a short story?
This short story 'Out of The Shadows' goes along with a painting that you will find on my painting blog. HERE
They applaud. The noise is deafening.
I smile, inclining my head, known for my modesty. The glass trophy is handed to me and I hold it aloft. A short speech, thanking my Editor, my Publisher and the whole team of staff who help to make my professional novel, 'Out of the Shadows'. Forgetting no-one, because I value appreciating other human beings. Except for you. I never acknowledge you. You're there, always, but I never reference you. You have caused nothing but pain.
Back at my table, I place the trophy down, the bright lights coursing through it, throwing shadows. You're a shadow now. I try not to think of you. My life is brighter now, immeasurably happier, yet still in one dark corner of my mind, there is you. They say for every author, there is a dark stain on their heart, allowing them to draw on the pain necessary to garner sympathy for their characters. You are my dark stain. Do you even think of me? When you see me feted in newspapers, in magazines, do you think of me and remember the pain you caused? The pain I still feel.
The school bell rings. The class squeals excitedly for break. There will be games in the playground. I am not excited, I hate sport. I prefer reading, so I take my book and hide in the farthest corner, under the shadow of the tree. It isn't far enough away from you. As you and your little gang approach, fear encircles my heart. You grip my arm, squeezing so hard that tears are forced from my eyes. 'See the little bookworm cry!' you laugh. Your gang laugh too. For me, there is only terror.
'I made you a present,' you say. 'Try it on!' There in your hand, is a small ring of barbed wire. My eyes widen and I try to back away. One of your cronies is behind me in a flash, gripping my shoulders so I cannot move. 'Come on, bookworm, you know you're married to your books. Here's your wedding ring!'
As you force it on my finger, the wire tears into my flesh, causing such pain. You laugh louder. Taking the book from my hands, you tear two pages out, ripping them to shreds and throwing them over me, as if they were confetti. I have hated you ever since. Hated you as you ran back to your stupid games, hated you as you kicked the football around the quad. I dreamt of kicking your head the same way.
My teacher sees the blood, takes my hand gently in hers and leads me to the nurse. They cut the wire ring from my finger and tend to the wounds. Crying, I tell them that you did it because I love books. When they shake their heads, I realise that you are deficient, not me. The teacher gives me a free pass to the library, every breaktime. You bother me no more. And yet, and yet, I do not escape from out of your shadow. You are the popular one, I the bookworm. You the team player, I the nerd. In my dreams, I see myself surrounded by people who want to know me. In reality, that is saved for you.
Until today. As we leave the awards, with all the fans queuing for my autograph, I spot you. There you are, in the queue, holding hands with a beautiful lady. When did you become a book lover? Did love make a reader of you? Anger is displaced by a humorous disbelief. As you reach the front of the queue, I show no sign that I remember you. 'Name?' I enquire. You give it, searching my face for a flicker of remembrance you will never find. I wonder if you've told your lady friend we went to the same school, claiming a cameraderie that never existed. Taking your copy of my book, I sign, 'Out of the Shadows, an author emerges'.
I can guarantee you'll never understand why – but I know. Oh yes, I know... and a certain little souvenir reminds me, to this day. A little barbed wire ring, snipped in the centre – but the shadow it casts when it rests on a book? That's a perfect heart. Today, seeing you, I have stepped from out of your shadow. You are nothing but the memory of a dark stain, for me to use at will. I am an author, beloved of many.
I hope you enjoyed that story - and the painting. Thanks for sticking around and asking after us.