The Apple of her Eye

I’ve lost my creative mojo lately and felt more than a little lost. As a result, I forced myself to pad out another story I was interested in finishing. The same as a couple of my other posts, this story hasn’t been submitted anywhere, it’s just here for myself and you,, if you fancy a 5-minute break.

The Apple of her Eye is a little longer than my usual short stories, but only takes a few minutes to read through.

I liked the idea of adding detail to a short story I wrote a while ago about a woman navigating a really difficult day. It’s a situation most of us have been in at some point, so I’m confident you’ll find it relatable.

I hope you enjoy it. More posts are coming with artwork I’ve spent hours toiling over. I’ve been struggling to finish drawings lately, but I’m going to finish some of those open-ended projects so you can all see them.

Incidentally, the apple drawn for this short story is one of my favourite illustrations I’ve created for some time.

In the meantime, have a great day and remember to smile and acknowledge anyone whose gaze you might meet. You never know what they’re going through and the kindness of something as simple as “hello” has the power to change their day. 😊

**********

The Apple of her Eye

A grey winters morning fast approaches. It’s 5am and I’m already dull, morose and exhausted. I slept lightly for an hour or so, but the day called me. I silently curse, wishing it would leave me to my slumber. The sky is slowly illuminating signalling the start of the day I’ve been anxious about for weeks.

Looking out of the window a mist is covering the surroundings, making even the closest building impossible to see. A smell of burning bread wafts in as I open the double-glazing for some fresh air. Our neighbour, the London-based scaffolder, is having marmite on toast and getting ready for his commute to work. I’m getting ready for a nightmare.

As I close my eyes and try desperately to let some calm wash over me, a memory forms in the darkness beneath my lids. A slowly connecting jigsaw puzzle joins in the right places and comes to life in front of me. We’re at home. It’s my birthday. I look at you shining. I smile watching you light up the room as you always did. The way other people admired you, and your ability to become the centre of attention because of your many endearing qualities. I know deep down though that darkness always followed as you turned away. I’m sad again. I can’t remember more of our shared moments. Maybe it’s just too hard or too vivid. Either way, I purposefully force myself out of this daydream and open my eyes again. It’s still grey. Did I expect it to change?

I look back at the clock , dragging my eyes away from the bleak day outside, and notice an hour has passed. Its just coming up to 6am. Where did that time go? My partner sleeps silently next to me. It doesn’t seem fair to wake him up, instead I shuffle away , touching nothing as I creep around the house and avoid making any noise. When I eventually make it to the kitchen I flick the kettle on and grab two mugs from the cupboard along with the coffee and sweetner dispenser. The brand new, unopened coffee jar is a welcome distration, the smells make me believe good things might happen on this not-so-good day. I inhale the coffee aroma multiple times. So many times that I lose the smell completely almost as quickly as I found it. I immediately wonder if I’ve selfishly managed to draw out all the flavours and goodness from the granules inside. It feels like a fitting start to the day. The sweetner jar is empty too, so I add two teaspoons of sugar to each mug with a spoon of coffee. How long have I been using sweetener? How long has it been since I had sugar? The steaming water from the kettle floods the granules, disintigrating them on contact. The sugar is so old that it stays in a lump at the bottom of the mug awaiting the pummeling of a teaspoon. I wish I was that sugar. I wish the world would swallow me whole today.

And just like that, my respite from the sadness and anxiety of today, ends.

It sinks in that whatever I do today, it’s going to go wrong.

I arrive back at the bedroom where my partner has moved around, but still clocks up the Z’s I leave the coffee on his bedside table and sit back on my side of the bed, taking slow sips of the scalding hot beverage. The heat removes a layer of my tongue, but it doesn’t matter, I’m already in pain today. Nothing can make this worse.

It’s a day almost everyone on the planet has to face, and today is my turn. I knew it was coming, but the emotions I feel as the sun comes up are suffocating me. Fear takes over as I realise we are getting ever closer to the moment where we will say our final goodbye.

I give in to the angry thoughts that are banging on the door in my head and asking to be let in. I end up seeing another imaginary monologue of the years we spent together. The many times we fell out, and the many times we made up. The utter frustration when we had our confrontations (normally because I did something wrong), and the relief when I made things right, our feelings were repaired and our time apart ended.

I decide silently that I’ll wear black today. You know better than most that I wear black every day, every photo we shared I wore my darkness. But today i’m mentally acknowledging it as a mark of my respect.

By the time 7am rolls around the sky is light grey and the fog is finally lifting. There are mere hours and minutes left before I lose you for good. Time passes in the blink of an eye. How many coffees have I had this morning? 4 or 5 maybe? I need to start getting ready.

Last night I put out my clothes and some memories of our relationship. Accessories and things you’ve left behind. The things that ‘gave you life’ are laid out in the table in front of me. I can’t touch them. In fact, I’m appalled by them.

I hear my partner on the phone in the other room. I feel thankful as he talks on his phone and manages this day on my behalf. I couldn’t face all the arrangements alone, so he took over.

“It’s ok babe. I’ve been through this myself. I know it’s not easy.”

When he holds me I’m enveloped by his arms and his love, wrapping around me like the perfect blanket. I don’t know how I’d manage without him. I feel safe and protected, understanding that with him on my side, I’ll be able to get through this. I’m filled with dread as I waft away thoughts of being without his support. I wish I could avoid adding to the grief of today.

A knock at the door startles me, immediately followed by the reality that it’s time. They’re here. I have to say goodbye.

My partner appears at just the right moment, also covered in black attire.

“It’s ok babe. It’ll be over before you know it. It won’t take long”

I babble my words like a toddler just learning. Tears fill my mouth and my nose runs as the onslaught of sadness just takes over and I finally surrender to it. I lay down my sword and let this pain and self pity take over, just temporarily, because it’s what everyone will expect.

“How will I replace her? How do I get through this?”

He holds me again, knowing as a person who’s already lived this evil unwanted reality, that there are no words to fix the problem. My emotions and feelings are all that will happen today. Conversations and messages will be missed, but it’s something I can’t face yet anyway.

“Come on babe. We need to open the door. You can’t keep them waiting.”

I nod, using all the energy I have left and take a deep breath. My hand touches the door handle and I have to ready myself to begin the private mourning.

A gust pushed the door and, as if by magic, a stream of light sent from the sky straight to earth, pierces the mist and punches me square in the face. The moistness I’ve been delaying in the sockets of my eyes is now unavoidable. The sun pushed the tears out. I blame the sun. I blame the sun entirely.

A man stands in front of me, smiling, a knowing smile. I notice him staring and pitying my sadness, so I turn away.

My partner speaks instead. I need him to take the wheel today. Saying goodbye already feels like a painful and drawn out process. I want today over. Just finish this.

“Morning. I’m here to…”

“It’s ok. We know why you’re here. I’ll just be a moment.”

A minute later we stand at the door arm in arm and watch the driver walk away with my most treasured friend.

I take a final moment to think back and remember your best moment and our amazing times together. It’s hard not to be consumed by your painful demise, but I endeavour to ignore it because I accept t’s time to move on.

Goodbye iPhone 11.

You’ve been upgraded.

Published by stephc2021

Hi! I'm Steph, an amateur writer and illustrator specialising in Mental Health and being a self-confessed Spoonie. My website is home to any successful fiction I create, with stories that have won so far covering difficult subjects such as baby loss and mental health in grief as well as some funny and heart-warming tales when I get the inspiration. Every drawing and picture on my website was created by me. I spend a lot of time coming up with illustrations to accompany all of my posts and pages. I try to create original content across all of my channels, whether I'm writing about my own fiction or just generally musing on mental health or my own issues. I want to be part of the change because I believe the understanding of MH in the UK is getting better, but has a very long way to go. By being honest about my own struggles and symptoms I think others will relate and hopefully it will encourage them to talk to someone and get the help and support they need. Long term my goal is to help children too, help them understand their own mental health and how to help with the mental health of those around them. I live in the UK with my partner, daughter and dog, I swear frequently and I adore a well made, traditional, gooey, chocolatey, delicious brownie.

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