Love Humbles.

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To really love and be loved by someone we have to lay down our guard, trusting them not to stomp all over our fragile inner being (and they sometimes do). Most of all we have to lay aside our pride, love is always humbling, or it isn’t love.

Gayle Erwin (one of my favourite pastor/ comedians) coins the term “falling in lust” to describe the initial attraction a man and woman may feel for each other. Sadly this type of relationship is often portrayed as love in movies etc. but while physical attraction and sex generally forms a large part of romantic relationships, there has to be more, much more, or it will explode in glorious colour but then fizzle like a firework, leaving you with ashes.

Sometimes we want to be loved for our attributes, our looks, our strength, our intelligence, but real love cannot be founded on any of these (even being a kind/good person). We all mess up sometimes and one of the most important things we can learn in life is to come to terms with our own fallibility. Love founded on looks will die with age; an accident can take away strength and sickness our intelligence. I love the movie “The Ugly Truth”. I’m not sure why, perhaps I identify with the romantically inept female lead. Most of all, I love the end where he says he’s in love with her and baffled she asks why. He replies something to the effect of, “Hell, I don’t know why. I just am!” That’s how love is, it doesn’t love “because” it just loves, unconditionally, no matter what, warts and all. To receive this kind of love is humbling, it is undeserved.

I think this generation have it far harder than mine. The promotion of a cool image, of pride and independence makes it much harder to dare to expose your vulnerability, the inner you. However it’s impossible to form a love bond of any sort unless both parties drop the social masks and reveal their inner selves, and that’s humbling, more than that, it’s terrifying for some. Yet to be without these bonds of love whether romantic, parental, sibling, or friendship, is to live a life lacking the vibrant colour love brings.

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thread in the darkness.

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A thread in the darkness, silken, reflective,

Glowing in the stillness and silence of the night that had engulfed his world.

He reached out. It did not quail.

Spider silk strong, it responded to his touch as he wrapped his hand around it.

Tensile strength lifted him, souring from the darkness to a world of light and song.

He looked into eyes pure and true. Love reflected,

The tiny thread that rescued him sprang from those eyes.

He took her hand, delicate, frail, yet strong as the web she had wove round his heart.

“Don’t ever leave me,” he whispered.

My convalescence project.

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(A new book – rough draft of the first chapter – feed back welcome!)

THE CHILD. (An apocalyptic tale.)

Light spring rain drummed its rhythm on the forest leaves. It was oddly silent, both felt it. The camp lay ahead swallowed in the camouflage of its protective gully. Their eyes met.
“I…” her voice was stifled by a sturdy hand as he pushed her against the trunk, long finger on taunt lips – warning! Eyes wide with fear she watched as he shrank beneath the ferns. She stood pressed hard against the concealing bark as if drawing strength from the forest giant. Had they come!
With urgent motions he beckoned her to follow. Rustling through unfurling stems they crawled their way back. She was shaking, hands trembling as they sought perchance, her enlarging belly catching on the stems. Sinking into the shadows they gained their feet.
“Can you run?” he hissed, eyes flaring.
“The others,” she whispered.
“Too late! Can you run!”
“Yes.” Grasping hands they careened through the trees, whispering branches concealing their passage. On and on they ran till she began to stumble. With laboured breath they paused against the gnarled side of an oak.
“The children,” she gasped.
“I could only save ours,” he ran a hand protectively over the curve of her belly. “The woods are full of men, hundreds of them. They won’t stand a chance.” Tears coursed down her face. “We need to move,” he urged, “after they’re finished they’ll come looking.”
As if in confirmation the sound of guns rent the stillness, screams echoed through the silent groves. He wiped a soiled sleeve across his eyes.
“We have to go…”
She nodded. Stumbling on over roots and shrubs, pursued by screams and gunfire echoes they melted into the ancient refuge of man. Tall sentinels guarded their way; ferns muffled their footsteps as gentle rain washed away all traces of their path.
*
“Did they have dogs?”
“Didn’t see any… Hope not. The stream at least should delay them even if they pick up our scent.”
“Sleep now. I’ll keep watch.”
Bathed in tears she surrendered to exhaustion. He looked out over the forest. He’d chosen high ground. He’d see them coming. The bush and scrub concealed them well enough. The forest was their home, their refuge, and had been for the past two years. The forest where he’d met her, where they’d managed to survive all this time, hidden away from prying eyes. Till, now… now it was all over, his friends, companions, closer than brothers, even their families, all dead… He brushed the tears away, but they kept coming, here in the darkness of the forest with none to see but the trees. Why could they not let them be, what harm had they been to anyone, simple folk most of them, farmers, travellers, working with their hands, living off the land. There was nowhere to go, no place was safe, only in the forests, in the wilderness of the mountains could they hide, for how long he didn’t know. There was no real escape only the constant game of cat and mouse he’d been playing for the last five years, the five years since he’d left it all behind to flee into the wilderness. It had just been internment camps back then, people disappearing silently, one day there, the next gone, never to return. Now they had no need of subterfuge, they killed openly, the last voices of protest silenced in those last Easter raids. He’d not been near civilisation since; some did, bartering for food, for the necessities of life, but he’d not. He’d grown hard, his frame lean, but strong, nourished on roots and herbs, fish, and meat from the traps. The wilderness had sustained him. He was thankful now for his grandfather’s obsession with the “outdoor life”. He’d groaned at the time, but some of those things had saved his life. Gramp’s rifle lay still looped across his back, loaded, the few remaining bullets carried in his backpack. There’d be no more, the camp munitions such as they’d been, (a couple more hunting rifles and two or three boxes of amo.) were gone now. He pulled out the wrapper – four, plus the three in the rifle. What good would that be if they found them? How would he get meat for the winter if he used them? Head bent in his hands, his lips murmured restlessly… “God, don’t let them find us, don’t let them find us!” Empty words…
He had to pull himself together, be strong for her and the child. There had to be an end to this… pictures flashed before his eyes, blood mottled skin, life draining, how could it end any other way?
Morning broke clear and sunny, birdsong celebrating the dawn, in denial of atrocities beneath the unfurling fern stems – nature reclaiming her own. He’d fallen asleep she noticed, his back to the tree, rifle across his lap. She watched as dappled sunlight traced patterns on his skin catching the chestnut fire in his hair. How she loved him. She remembered the first she saw him when they brought her to the camp bedraggled and malnourished, a haggard shadow of her former self. She’d wanted him even then, the smile, the bright eyes, the life in him…
He stirred. There was no food she realised, nothing… only what he carried in his pack. She’d teased him for taking it along, but now she saw the wisdom. He was never parted from the pack, now she knew why…
His eyes opened, a smile glimpsed, then faded. “We’ll need food and water,” he muttered glancing round. Young nettles swarmed in abundance, but they couldn’t risk a fire…
“We’ll head towards the river,” he announced, water was the most urgent need and fish could be eaten raw if you had to…
*
The ground became marshy as they trudged along, fallen saplings, resigned to fate, crisscrossed their path. Easy foraging here, frogs, fish and all manner of plants, fresh water and timber, hopefully far enough away from the assault force for safety…
*
Days turned to weeks, new blooms decked the river bank and raised their heads where sunlight traced the forest floor, the vast swathes of bluebells had relinquished their office to myriad hued cousins. Summer was on its way bringing plenty in its wake. He was a good provider yet it had been hard, enough to survive, but not enough to fill the belly.
He’d that morning set off to the old camp in hopes of gleaning all they’d need for her delivery and for the child. It should be safe enough now, he’d said, the soldiers would not stay that long, they had other things to do, other “nests of traitors” to destroy. He’d left the pack with her taking only his rifle and pocket knife. He said he didn’t want to be loaded down, but he couldn’t fool her…
Crawling face down among the forest’s carpet he edged towards the gully. All seemed quiet, the right kind of quiet. Birds flew hither and yon in their perpetual search to placate their growing young, insects hummed. The forest had resumed its quiet cacophony of sound, proclaiming the departure of the hunters. Relieved but still cautious he edged forward. The smell became intense. They could have at least buried the bodies… they were unrecognizable now, gnawed by forest inhabitants, decaying back from whence they came, nature reclaimed its own. He tried not to look.
He was surprised they’d not torched the huts, they usually did. Perhaps they were in a hurry. No matter. Their old lean to still stood only a few beams fallen. He ran his hands over the bullet holes that riddled the frame. If they’d not gone foraging, if he’d not taken her along…
Pull yourself together man, get what you need and get out of here. Rummaging through the debris he found what he was looking for, the big pot, the blankets. They’d need washing again now… Thread, he must have thread, to tie the cord. Thank God he knew the basics; there were no doctors in the forest. Glancing around he grabbed their tumbled winter coats, stuffing them into one of the blankets and tying it. That was all he could carry. It would have to do for now, he’d get more later, he told himself, but in his heart he knew he’d never venture back.
His hands full, view obscured, he never noticed the wire his foot nudged as he strode out of the hut.

(It is a deliberate ploy that no names are used – I have a reason lol!)

The knight errant.

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He comes knocking at my door. Doesn’t he know ivory towers have limited access? He tries to scale the walls, but they’re too high for him and he’s not as young as he was. I feel bad and invite him in for coffee and a chat sitting opposite, out of reach, across the coffee table.

He wants me to fall in love with him, doesn’t he know I’m busy here? I have things to do in my ivory tower. Of course I’ll love him from the other side of the table, love that doesn’t divert or cost. I’ll put a band aid on his hurts, even kiss them better, but I avoid his lips – too much trouble this falling in love.

I’m no longer a child that waits starry eyed for a prince, my true prince lives in my heart, his image safe from the corruption of everyday life, (better that way). I don’t want to get involved with this knight, I want to retain my focus.

How childlike he seems pleading for love and I am a mother, my heart is touched, but better not to start something you’ll never finish. It’s not fair to tempt, to lead on, he wants the real thing and I can’t give him that.

Knight like I am married to my quest. I have no present interest in “being in love”, to give love, yes, to be loved, yes, but not to fall “in love” again. Surely he must understand. I’ll make it clear…

And so he saddles up his horse and goes looking for another princess, another tower. My offers of friendship, of future admittance ringing in his ears as he rides off into the sunset. He will return now and then when nearby on his journeying, drink a cup of coffee, probe to see if things have changed, if I might open the door to that inner chamber of my heart. My offers of alliance are not what he seeks, this wayward knight. I wish I could give more but know it wouldn’t work. Though I live in an ivory tower I’m not in distress, I don’t await a rescuer for he lies already in my heart. I was rescued long ago. Together we watch as he rides away a prayer for him upon my lips.

my ivory tower

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ivory tower

(Flash fiction fun re-blog from May 25th 2014 on the theme of “fairy tales”)

Well it didn’t look much like an ivory tower, with faded red brickwork and pealing white window sills it didn’t seem the type a prince might climb, but to be honest I didn’t look much a princess either, dumpy, with bushy dirty blond hair and a generally unkept appearence. I was studying law trying to make ends meet with an evening job at the local Indian restaurant.

I met him at the library. I was using the computers as my internet was off. I must admit he didn’t look much like a “prince charming” either, tall, skinny and  experiencing an outbreak of juvenile spots which I’d had my own episodes with, but he had nice brown eyes. He glanced up as I sat down and gave a half grin.

“Your internet down too?” It was more a statement than a question.

“How did you guess?” I gave the prescribed sigh.

“Easy, you’re a student I can tell. What are you studying?”

“Law, and you?”

“I.T. would you believe!” We both laughed and the ice was broken.

He never was a prince; save perhaps in the inner recesses of his heart, but the coffee we enjoyed together after never tasted so good. He offered to look at my connection and got it working, after that we were friends even when his was hooked up again.

He began to invade my tower (though he always used the steps even when the lift was broken.) Slowly I began to change; I died my hair honey blond and invested in a straightener. I encouraged him to eat better and in doing so began to lose weight myself. As he filled out I slimmed down and we became a more presentable pair, even the spots cleared up after a while. My ivory tower had become a cosy brick home. My prince moved in bringing modernisation.

But the greatest surprise of all was when he came to eat at the restaurant where I work. He fitted right in; he was the nephew of the owner you see!

31 day challenge day 20

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A difficult time in your life?

When you see an adventure in a movie it looks exciting, like fun, but in real life it’s not quite the same. Your stomach doesn’t just churn it grips like a fist and twists. Feeling you’re about to fall apart at any moment you have to hold things together, hold yourself together in order to survive. Later folks may oh and ah at the story but at the time it isn’t like that. It’s just plain scary.

I experienced this during my break up with my first husband. Handsome, romantic and from a rich and influential S E Asian family he swept me off my feet but intercontinental marriages are not for the faint hearted. It wasn’t a matter of he didn’t love me, rather he loved too much but in the wrong way. Our passion became destructive to where, despite my total faithfulness; he was so paranoid that I might fall for someone else that life became unliveable. I didn’t even dare talk with other men for fear of his beating them up. It was totally out of control, reasoning and counselling didn’t help. I knew I was pregnant again and that I needed to escape while there was time if I wanted to keep possession of my children.

The details of that 007 style escape are too long to recall here, but if I tell you they included bursting through armed guards to plead with a general to take me and my daughter on his private plane to escape to the embassy you’ll get some idea.

The British embassy said they couldn’t help me without possibly causing an “incident” (his father had helped finance the leader in power and his brother was in the government) but they put me in touch with a local charity that could hide me and help me get out of the country. This was followed by a couple of weeks of staying  in an orphanage in the boonies, hidden away from windows etc. The conditions were pretty primitive but they were good people. Finally, shaking inside, I was driven to the airport. As I handed over my passport I was stopped. My heart thudded in my chest (my secret fear was that his family had given my details to immigrations to prevent my leaving). Thankfully there was just some obscure tax I hadn’t paid and I was able to board a plane next day.

My parents met me at Heathrow airport horrified at how thin I was. At seven months pregnant I weighed less than my normal weight (stress). For the next two weeks I ate and slept and slept and ate. Wonderfully in spite of all this my new baby girl was born small, but perfect, growing up to be beautiful, smart and best of all a wonderful, good-hearted woman. To have her made the whole experience worth it. We escaped “without even the smell of smoke!”

Be wiser than me take care who you marry!

Unsung hero. (A true life “Fairy Tale”)

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fairy tale

There were a lot of medals in my mother’s family including 3 Victoria Crosses (the highest British award -quite rare) and I grew up hearing about them, but this is a story about another kind of courage.

My grandfather  took part in one of the WW1 Christmas Eve cease fires so well depicted in “Joyous Noel”  (If you have yet to see it this year is the perfect time!) It tells how the war stopped for a while on Christmas Eve and both sides met to celebrate Christmas, play football and show pictures of loved ones, thus realizing their common humanity.

Soon after this he and a friend were trapped behind enemy lines. Unable to break through back to their unit they began to wave their arms above the trench they were trapped in, in hopes of being shot (they’d heard the injured were sent home). Eventually they were captured walking in “no man’s land” still miraculously unscathed despite a hail of bullets.

After two years as a prisoner of war he returned to England and soon after fell in love with a beautiful gypsy girl marrying her against his family’s wishes.( His father was a big land owner and he the eldest son). Refusing to give her up he was disinherited and spent the rest of his life working on the roads rising only to the rank of foreman due to his father’s influence (though much loved and respected). Amazingly I never saw a trace of bitterness either towards the Germans or his father.

He was always special to me even as a child (though I never heard his story till after his death). He was the only one who seemed to understand my anti-war feelings. He had a great deal of quiet wisdom which I always respected. To me this is the highest form of courage to stand for what is right against the flow and to do so without anger or hate.