I am not going to comment on the UK General Election partly because at the time of writing there are no results and partly also because I do not think I am going to be happy with the outcome. Instead I want to write about matters closer to me personally.
This week I have been on holiday with family and having one of the infrequent opportunities to watch my (step) grandchildren growing up. Not having witnessed children of my own growing day by day, seeing these small persons grow into individuals has been and is endlessly fascinating. The expressions on the face of a two year old indicating his emotions and his thoughts – needs, wants, opinions – and talking (in two languages) sometimes unintelligibly but in great earnest are wonderful to watch. Then there is the five year old, coping with ease with conversations in those two languages and while not yet able to read, in possession of a tremendous memory of many if not all of the numerous books read to him and able to follow, faultlessly graphic instructions for a Lego model amongst other skills.
I don’t feel sentimental about childhood innocence. I’m not sure what age it begins but children are very young when they learn how to behave to get certain reactions from their parents and other adults. Stubbornness and a sense of their own needs come very early. They quickly learn envy and the joy of winning and a feeling of injustice if deprived of something, but prejudice towards any particular group of people is only learned from the people around them. They are amazing.
The next Jasmine Frame novella will start next week, though I haven’t sorted the plot yet, so this week is the last for the time being when I’ll “treat” you to one of my other writing efforts. This is a short piece for a writing club assignment on gothic romance. It’s not particularly original and it isn’t complete, but perhaps it will occupy a couple of minutes pleasantly.
The wind off the sea swept her long, blonde hair from her face leaving beads of moisture clinging to each strand. Ignoring the rain-flecked gale, she looked down at the waves crashing over the dark rocks far below and then her gaze lifted to the boundary between the dark green, angry sea and the narrow band of red-hued dawn beneath the glowering clouds. No masts broke the smooth line of that horizon, no ship was tossed on the roiling ocean.
‘When will you come?’ she whispered. The question was superfluous. There was no answer. Her wait would end when it would end. There would be no precognition. One day, perhaps like now at dawn or perhaps at sunset, the sails would appear and then, soon after, she would be in his arms, their lips touching.
A cry made her turn. The house brooded in the vale a couple of hundred paces from the cliffs, crouching low out of the storm winds. The glass in the windows of the top floor just now reflected the light of the early morning, but the fiery glow hardly lifted the gloom of the stone, as dark as the rocks of the cliff, from which it was built.
Another cry, and now she saw him fighting his way along the narrow, over-grown path from the house to the cliff-top. He beat at the nettles and brambles with his crop as he strode towards her.
She shivered, not with the cold, though her thin woollen shawl hardly prevented the cold easterly from freezing her pale skin. It was anticipation that made her shake. She turned again to face the sea and looked down to where the jagged rocks withstood the besieging tide.
‘Jump,’ part of her told herself, ‘Leap to oblivion. Leave this world of pain and sadness.’ She remained motionless, limbs frozen not by cold but by indecision. Her eyes rose again to the distance. If she ended it now, what would he feel when he returned? Did she want to give up all hope of love and happiness?
Hands thudded into her shoulders. Arms encircled her, dragged her back from the edge, spun her around. She looked up into his bearded, scarred face. The single open eye, glaring at her.
‘I’ve told you before, Emily,’ he growled, ‘There is no point to you staring out to sea. He’s not coming back. You are mine.’
She dropped her head. There was no response to give. Declaring her last remaining iota of hope would bring her no joy, more likely a stroke from the crop tucked under his arm. His hand grasped the hair at the back of her head and tugged. Her face tilted up and his rough, chapped lips descended to hers. His tongue forced her lips apart and she tasted the stale, last night’s whisky. She gagged and coughed. He pulled back, straightened, grabbed her wrist in his hand and dragged her back down the path towards the house. She stumbled along behind him, emptying her mind of the dread of whatever he had planned for her this miserable morning.