Sunday, 9 October 2011

Holding on - a story



Halfway up the high street, Dominic decided to let go of his Dad’s hand. Usually he liked walking here, where the pavement and the street were at the same level. There weren’t any cars, but there were so many people, you had to duck in and out of them. He liked that, even when it meant you had to watch out for shopping bags bumping.

But Dad seemed to want to go faster than everyone else today. Dom heard him tutting when the old people stopped just in front of them, he knew that Mum would have slowed down, given them a chance to get going again, but Dad mumbled something cross and just kept going, pushing his way past. Dominic saw the old lady shake her head; he wanted to stop and smile, make it alright, but Dad just kept marching on. It wasn’t easy to keep up, even when he half-and-half walked and ran.

Sometimes when he was out with Mum, they did the matching footsteps thing, but not today; every time he’d hopped to the other foot to try and keep step, Dad had changed his stride. Maybe Mum just hadn’t told him how it was supposed to go. Dom tried getting him to slow down instead, tugging at his sleeve. He scuffed his shoes on the brick path, but Dad didn’t notice that either. Halfway up the high street, just by the big shop with the window full of fishing rods and lanterns and wellington boots, Dom slipped his fingers from the big curled up fist and let go.

It wasn’t far to the bridge from here. When he was out with Mum, they’d usually stop for a bit when they got there, and he’d stand on tiptoe with her arms tight round him to look down the river. There were tall, tall buildings along the edge of the water. Some of them looked like giant garden sheds, made from planks of dark brown wood. He knew there were people who lived in them, but he couldn’t imagine the insides, he couldn’t think what it would be like to have stairs in a garden shed. There might be cobwebs and spiders too.

Mum had painted the shed in their garden, bright stripes of green and yellow. “Like daffodils” she’d said, laughing at Daddy when he’d pulled a face and screwed up his eyes. Dom had worried then, he wasn’t sure if he was supposed to like it or not; but he could still remember his mum standing in front of it with spots of yellow paint in her hair and on her hands.

He got to the bridge and leaned against the big grey bricks. The one in the middle had writing on, sometimes when he stood there he’d trace round the letters with his finger, but not today. He peered over, into the water, to watch it passing underneath. There weren’t many boats; just a small blue one with a pointed white sail, and a long black and red barge. Mum had told him about barges, he knew that some people went for their holidays in them, travelling around, up and down canals. She’d told him some people even lived in them, people who went to bed every night with the water rocking them gently to sleep. This one had boxes of flowers on the top, she’d like that.

He wanted her to come back and tell him other things.

The barge moved slowly up the river, away from the bridge. There was a man standing at the back, holding onto a long stick, making sure the boat stayed in the middle and didn’t hit the sides. Just in front of him were two small wooden doors. As Dom watched, one of the doors opened and a lady came out. She looked at the man and smiled as she handed him a big mug of tea. Then she looked up at the bridge, saw Dom and waved. It was a big wave, not just her hand, like the Queen, but her whole arm.

The lady was wearing a big red jumper; she matched the paint on the boat. He thought she looked a bit like his mum, her hair was the same colour, but his mum didn’t have a red jumper. Dom waved back. A small wave at first and then just like her, a big whole-arm stretching wave.

As the boat moved away, the man leaned towards her and said something, maybe he was telling her to go back inside, but she didn’t. She stayed there, looking at Dominic, smiling and waving. Dom’s arm was starting to ache a bit, but he couldn’t stop yet. With the hand that wasn’t waving, he pushed himself up as high as he could, he stretched and leaned forward a bit more against the side of the bridge, he watched, as she got further and further away.

He didn’t know what was happening at first, as the big arms grabbed and held him, and he felt the sharp sting of his knee scraping against the bricks. He couldn’t see much, with his face pushed into the rough front of a jacket, but then he thought that the jacket felt a bit like the sleeve he’d tugged earlier. And after a while, he knew the voice that whispered in his ear.

Not you. Not you too.”

41 comments:

Dicky said...

Are you on a run of posts about bridges? Love this one more than the last. Your writing is so easy to read.

Nina said...

Wow.
This brought tears to my eyes.

Robbie Grey said...

That last line was gut-wrenching. It reminded me vividly of something my father said to me almost two years ago right after a blizzard.

Grizwald Grim said...

Powerful stuff

Ally Kat said...

Your writing is so amazing! I agree with Robbie also, that last line was pretty powerful.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Oh my....well...maybe that will slow his walking down a little.

beautifullycuriousphotograpy said...

i love it

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Beautiful and moving. So much meaning in those five last words.

Kristyna said...

I adore your writing! So beautifl and profound!

Debbie said...

Such lovely writing.

LW said...

You have a way of conveying important meanings through as few words as possible. This is truly a work of art!

Nessa Roo said...

How beautiful, and tragic. You had me biting my nails and then wiping my tears.

Coach Heidi said...

Now where is the next chapter? Haha I want to know about all your characters! I suppose it is just more left to your imagination this way. Good writing!

Sandra said...

Subtle yet powerful, wrenching yet melancholy. I really enjoyed it. How do you come up with your writing topics? Spur of the moment inspiration or contemplated thought process?

Sandra said...

Oops. I meant 'melancholic.' Sorry. It's late here...

Rajnish said...

simple, easy yet powerful. I liked your style of writing...

http://rajnishonline.blogspot.com/

whatishonour said...

I can learn from you.

Bobby Stevenson said...

You're a rascal young Sharon when it comes to playing about with emotions. As always, perfection.

Zahir Shah said...

Loved it.

Ed West said...

This is my first read of yours and I found it an amazing experience. I plan to continue to read your work as I found it powerful and inspirational.

Elizabeth Johnson said...

Thank you for sharing such Beautiful writing with us!! Amazing!!

lily said...

Your writing is a seduction. Casual, easy to start then before we know it we are caught in your web and are not to be released until you will it.

Sublime.

wheatgerm said...

that was intense

Sharon Longworth said...

Dicky - would you believe me if I said I hadn't even realised there was a bridge link until you pointed it out! I promise I'll try not to turn this into a bridges-themed blog!

Nina - thank you. I think. And I'm sorry about the tears thing.

Robbie - I didn't set out to be gut-wrenching, but the story took a direction I hadn't expected and that's where it ended up. I'm pleased that my writing could prompt a memory, but hope it wasn't too uncomfortable.

Grizwald - thank you.

Ally Kat - my thanks to you too - it's hard to know how to respond to some of these lovely comments - but that doesn't mean they're not very much appreciated.

Sharon Longworth said...

mybabyjohn/Delores - well indeed!

beautifullycuriousphotography - that's quite a name to type in a reply! Thank you for your comment and I'm really glad you liked this.

Blissed-out-Grandma - I'm so pleased that you keep coming back to read, and very flattered that you always find something so great to say. Thank you.

Krystina - Goodness! too kind, but thank you.

Debbie - I'm really glad you liked this. Thank you.

Sharon Longworth said...

LW - that's such a lovely thing to say - thank you!

Nessa Roo - I'm not sure I should be glad for causing you ruined nails and a wet face - but I think I am!

Coach Heidi - One of these days I will spend a bit of time taking some characters and seeing if I can develop them further. One of these days...

Sharon Longworth said...

Sandra - thank you. My writing mostly comes from people-watching; but this one was in response to a challenge from my husband to write about a place beginning with the letter L and a boy beginning with a D. (the place was Lewes, a town in East Sussex - but that ended up totally irrelevant to the story...)

Rajnish - thank you, I'm glad you like it.

whatishonour - that's a smashing thing to say. I know I continue to learn from so many others.

Bobby - any comment that addresses me as 'young Sharon' is bound to be my favourite of the day. And I'm rather pleased to be a rascal too...

Zahir - thank you!

Sharon Longworth said...

Ed - too kind by far, but I'm very pleased that you want to keep on reading.

Elizabeth - thank you!

Lily - goodness - I don't think I've ever had my writing described as a seduction before - it's a rather marvellous thing to say, so thank you.

wheatgerm - I hope 'intense' is good?

Young & Miserable said...

http://youngnmiserable.blogspot.com/

Morris Workman said...

Well written, extraordinary imagery. Trying to write the mind of a child is challenging, particularly to capture the scattered yet singly focused boundaries in a credible way. You've accomplished that, and so much more. Well done!

*Morris Workman
www.morrisworkman.com

Susan Cooper said...

What a gifted writter you are. You craft your words in such a way that I am transported to that place and time and I am that person. It is easy to read and so enjoy what you write.

Susan Cooper

Bth said...

Goodness. Each post you write I want to read another. Keep going, your writing flows so well at the moment, I just love it!

Jan said...

Lovely characterization, and such exquisite details. I loved the bit about the wave "with her whole arm". Gorgeous writing.

ARL said...

i enjoyed reading your story...Nice one great writer...

Pat said...

I read this earlier - my eyes began to prickle and then I crashed or rather Firefox did. Saved by the bell. I just wanted to give them both a hug.

Sharon Longworth said...

Young&miserable - I hope you're one and not the other!

Morris Workman - I'm really glad you thought the 'voice' worked here - I didn't want it to sound either too predictable or unreal.

Susan - you flatter me! but I can't deny it's lovely to hear.

Bth - thank you so much. I'm enjoying writing at the moment, which seems to be half the battle.

Jan - thank you, I'm really glad you found so much to like.

Pat - sorry for the prickles! I think I was probably there hugging them both as well.

Aaron said...

Can I just say that your blog has a very nice look to it? Just had to say something about the way it is so well organized. :)

Nicole said...

Sharon, great bit. I knew what was coming and instead of feeling sorry for the boy I couldn't help but ache for Dad unknowingly failing to keep Mum alive for Dom. His not doing all those little things that Mum would have done on the same walk. There's a deep, rich, emotional subtext here and that's what I'll be remembering later.

j.arnoux said...

Hey, I just found your blog almost by accident but just wanted to say I liked the story and the writing. I'm not really sure what to say about it yet, but it definitely was good.

Crimson Queen said...

I really love your easy writing style.. Really gets to me..:) I'd also like you to read my new blog... I'm kind of a beginner and I hope you can give me some good suggestions!:)

Hillary said...

I couldn't wait to see what the wind up of this would be. Such mystery and suspense, and I always love that.