Second Place! Well, sort of. Shhh!

I’m late posting this because, well…Christmas. You know. It got in the way. And then I won another competition and I was so excited I had to write about that as quickly as possible.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is Sorry. I’m sorry I’m late, I’m sorry I’m posting things upside down and all around. I’m sorry I seem a bit out of sorts. The truth is I AM a bit out of sorts. I got struck by covid. Shocking really, as someone who never leaves the house. But, it’s true, someone managed to bring it in and passed it to me. How was it? Awful. Trying to manage the massively increased pain from the virus as well as the ridiculous tiredness that was working together with my usual sleeping pills….for a couple of days I could barely open my eyes. Then, when I did have the nerve to open my eyes I was hit with a massively increased volume of pain. So I just wanted to sleep again. I’d say I went round and round that routine for 4 or 5 days. Did I eat? No. Did I drink?Barely.

However, I managed to lose 14 lbs, the only good thing to come out of all this. I LOST a stone for Christmas. I must be a medical miracle. Don’t most people gain a few kilos?

Of course, covid is yet to leave. I am still blighted with a nasty chesty cough and a sore throat, but compared to where I was…I’ll take it.

Back to my happiness and gratitude to be ending this year on such a writing high. Before by big win last week, I was first selected for the Secret Attic weekly write (week 50). This time the story was ‘December Destination Destitute’ and the phrase I chose to use was “He’s a sore loser”.

I’m fortunate that stories have mostly come to me recently based on things that are happening in my life, programmes on the television or things I am remembering about the festive period. It’s a good time to remember, and remembering often brings ideas and ideas quickly sprout stories.

This time I was remembering a December visit to the races back in the 90’s. I was about 17 and my mum thought I was young enough to take on a ‘normal’, ‘respectable’ trip. Of course, she was wrong. I spent most of the visit trying to flirt with the men there without her seeing. It was hours of cat and mouse as I repeatedly ran away to hide behind the bus, smoke half a cigarette and hope she wouldn’t smell it. I realise now, as a level headed human, that she could obviously smell it. She just probably didn’t know what to say or do about her tearaway child.

Back to the races. I took the phrase mentioned and wondered if there was an appropriate story about a ‘sore loser’ watching the horses. Maybe he is an addicted gambler in December? Maybe he has a family who don’t know? The story basically grew from there. As always, the full story is below for you to have a read. It’s probably a bit sad and / or depressing, but shows a side to gamblers that probably isn’t thought about or talked about very much. I like to believe it’s not just a selfish existence and they mostly run on their conscience. It makes them believe that the habit is the key to their fortune and happiness and that it’s something they can then pass on to their family and friends.

As always, proof of my selection in the Secret Attic weekly write can be seen on their website and thank you, once again, to the team at Secret Attic who are helping to bolster my belief that I have some sort of future in writing. Whatever that may be.

Once again, as I’ve said in previous posts, I am using December as an excuse to just draw as many festive pictures as I can make up. Clearly this post is no exception. I will return to drawing pictures that specifically match the post in the New Year, but for now I’m really enjoying the lack of pressure to come up with matching pics and finding a way I can draw them well, so I am happy with the end result. It always adds to the stress of updating this blog.

I hope you all had a fun-filled Christmas. I will be writing more about my festive period in the coming weeks.

See you at new year!

**********

December Destination Destitute

Despite the December cold, Jason stood by the track and enjoyed the exhilaration as racehorses cantered past, bolstering his justification for this clandestine hobby.

But this hobby was becoming uncontrollable. Flirting with danger. The horses were pawns winning him cash or failing him miserably. Today he’d remained miserable and furiously tossed his latest betting receipt to the ground. It was featherlike, stubborn, ignoring his force, mocking his attempt at anger.

Two women with fascinators and tight dresses stood feet away, distracted by his childish outburst.

“He’s a sore loser” he heard the pink dress say to the other pink dress. 

Jason’s secret redundancy pay was almost depleted. His family was, unknowingly, facing financial ruin. He saw them in his mind’s eye. His daughter sad without toys under the tree. His wife disappointed with no jewellery adorning her neckline.

He departed the track wondering how his last £200 would cover everything. His family would be broken by the truth. Guilt for his secret redundancy and careless frivolity surged his veins. He’d gambled £3k today. He’d gambled Christmas.

His phone vibrated. A welcome distraction.

“Jason? It’s Maggie at the bank. Your loan application was approved. £5000 has transferred to your account. I’ve emailed the paperwork.”

He felt instantly relieved that Christmas wasn’t cancelled, allowing him time to quietly find another job.

But the grifter running his usual betting stall waved, piquing Jason’s curiosity. “There’s great odds on the last race.” Jason was interested but needed convincing “I’ll give you 8 to 1 on the favourite?”.

His level-headed brain craved home, but an invisible force rummaged through his pocket and surrendered his debit card.

Minutes later Jason saw the pink dresses screaming, jumping and hollering over their win and windfall.

Dejected, Jason couldn’t watch. Another betting slip floated to the floor.

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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