Excerpt from The Blackest of Nights…

The following is a short excerpt from another of my 30/30/30 writing challenge competition entries for those who might be curious….

‘The Blackest of Nights’

Too often my nights are drawn and long.  On these blackest of nights the shadows threaten and tiny sounds punctuate the silence, ringing in my ears like alarm bells.  My adrenaline rushes, my body trembles and jerks with sharp uncoordinated motion, and my mouth is dry and tingly….

…I’ve been coming to this place ever since I was a girl.  Not every night, but many nights since she left and for many more I’m sure.  In spite of the dark lonely night, there is only sunshine here in this self-constructed sanctuary.  It warms my face with its amber haze as I push aside the leaves and step through the break in the dense hedges.  The breeze is gentle and kind, a loyal friend that walks with me and caresses me with a comforting touch until she comes.

Just like the blackest of nights before, I sit and wait under the decorated branches of the solitary cherry tree, it’s long blossom covered limbs reaching out to cradle me. My bare feet wriggle in the soft grass and I watch as the rich green blades poke through tiny gaps between my toes.  My gaze shifts only for the aerial display of petals that fall in swirls from the branches.  Not long now, she’ll be here very soon.

 I work my thumb and forefinger along the broderie anglaise frill on my dress, back and forth, back and forth, finding every tiny hole in the lacy needlework as I wait with quiet anticipation.  My hair is as it always was, soft curls entwined into a plait at the back.  I know she likes it that way, even though it has been almost 20 years since she last ran my hair through her hands and told me so.

 A slideshow of memories runs through my mind moving me to lie on the grass and curl myself into a ball like a newborn.  The side of my face prickles as it touches down on the dewy ground.  Sparse clouds in the sky move and dance above me like the stars of an old Hollywood movie, forming shapes and swirls before dispersing just as quickly.  Sometimes I think I might like to stay here forever, sometimes I struggle to be the woman I now am.

 Wait.  The breeze has fallen still and the air is silent, could it be her?  The moment is paused, but I’m not afraid.  I am comforted.  I am soothed.  I am calmed.  I don’t see her face but I know she is smiling at me.  I don’t see her hand but I feel her touch on my brow.  I don’t see her lips moving but I hear her voice soft and sweet.  The rhythmic beat of her heart was hushed years ago, but I take strength from the love that still emanates from it.  It is just for me.  This place, this moment, is just for me.

 My trembling subsides, adrenaline replaced by the endorphins that begin to seep like opiates into every cell of my being.  My call finally answered and my appetite satiated I rise slowly, taking care not to break the connection too soon.  I turn my back to the cherry tree, move away from the soft sun and drift quietly back toward the night.  I feel her trailing closely behind; her unseen hand slipped into mine for just a moment, and then it is gone.  I don’t turn to look back, choosing instead to hold on to this feeling.

I am back in our bedroom where John still sleeps soundly.  I shuffle down beneath the duvet and lean into him.  Sensing my softer state, he reaches for me and instinctively pulls me close. 

 “You okay?” he sighs. 

Unperturbed that he is already asleep again, I whisper into the crease of his neck, “Yeah, I’m good.”  

And I am, for tonight I am restored.  I am the abandoned child found.

By morning our daughter will call out for us and I will go to her with a smile, a touch, a soft voice.  I will hold her childish hand in mine and whisper sweet words into her eager ear.  “Sometimes only a mother will do, my darling girl.”  Especially on the blackest of nights.

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