Friday, 30 July 2010

Tying up a few Lose Ends

I know four couples who have got/are getting married this week. One of these is my blogging friend Ashley, who's tying the knot with her fiance Brian on 1st August. So Ashley, I would like to give you my congratulations and my wishes for happiness in advance, as I will be absent from the blogging world from tomorrow onwards (I'll come to that in a minute!) I hope you have the most amazing wedding day, and I hope to see some photographs when I get back!

I've got another two years to wait until my wedding day. Spud and I met with our lovely minister the other day, and got the church all booked. I keep being told that the next two years will fly by, and I'm sure they will, but everything seems a long way off from here! I think getting a job will help as that will be one uncertainty out of the way.

So I will be awol for a fortnight. Spud and I are off tomorrow for a week in Scotland with my family. We originally planned to honeymoon in Scotland as neither of us have been there before, but now that we're going we've decided to honeymoon in Ireland instead (another place neither of us have visited before).

The following week we're going to a Bible camp as Tent Officers. Our mission for the week will be to manage between a dozen and two dozen youngsters, day and night, a task easier said than done. As 'creative' is my middle name, I've organised a craft for the youngsters. I produced a sample yesterday and couldn't resist showing you some photographs.




Can you guess what it's made from? I'll tell you - an old fashioned wooden clothes peg, available from all good craft shops. It took me ages (hopefully the campers won't take the care I took, as the craft session only lasts for an afternoon). I'm very pleased with the result though and it's tempting to produce some more. I have to keep reminding myself that I need to save my materials for the campers!

So I'll see you all in two weeks!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Final Installment

Angel Tread

Part Three

Dewey sat in a bare room alone, gazing blankly at the white walls through tearless eyes. He felt numb, and as empty as the room itself, although there was a dull ache deep within that he knew would intensify with the hours to come. His mother joined him and, without saying a word, took him in her arms. He felt like a child again and wished he was. Time passed as though it was straining at an anchor, and the silence weighed down upon him. Eventually he broke free.



‘What was his name?’ he asked hoarsely, watching the tears spill down his mother’s cheeks.



‘Luke,’ she whispered, understanding exactly what was being asked of her. Then she said something else, her voice so faint that Dewey didn’t immediately grasp that she was remembering aloud the opening lines of an address, answering his second, unspoken, question.

 
*

He raced through the corridors, barely conscious of where he was going, but following his route by instinct alone. Gasping, he plunged out into the cold night air, but didn’t stop running until he had reached the car park and located his car. He was in no state to drive, but drive he did, like a maniac along the deserted roads. He was oblivious of his speed as he hurtled down the dual carriage way, and didn’t drive much slower when his course took him through a housing district with narrow roads and a greatly reduced speed limit.

When he reached his destination he parked, partially up on the curb, outside house number four, and walked lifelessly to the front door. And although it was the middle of the night and he was as good as a stranger, he knocked. When there was no response he knocked again, more frantically this time. They were elderly, the people who cautiously opened the door, keeping the chain pulled tightly across. They took in Dewey’s dishevelled appearance and wild eyes, and seemed all set to shut the door and call the police, when they saw that the young man was crying.

‘Does Luke still live here?’ Dewey asked, huskily.

For he knew that on this tragic night he needed to find the man who never had the chance to know his son; the man who was overjoyed by the prospect of fatherhood, and devastated when, heavily pregnant, his partner had walked out on him in the dead of night; the man who had spent the following years seeking her out; the man that would ever play on Courtney’s conscience as the victim of her own immaturity and selfishness.

And now the old people gazed back at the mournful stranger, no longer afraid of him, but suddenly aware, as they took in his resemblance to Luke, of who he must be. But their eyes were sad, and their sorrow overshadowed their joy in meeting their grandson for the first time. And Dewey knew the truth, even before the old man cleared his throat and spoke the words he had been most dreading:

‘Luke is dead.’

*
But Luke has a namesake who thrives. A summer has been and gone and now, on a warm autumn afternoon, Dewey, along with his mother and newly found grandparents, watch as little Luke takes a few tentative steps across the grass, clinging to his father’s fingers. Dewey can see Vivien in his son, and hear her in Luke’s infantine chuckle.

Dewey was surprised by how easily he forgave his mother. He may have been too late to find his father but not too late to be reunited with his grandparents, who had long given up on ever recovering their only grandchild.

Luke takes another hesitant step, and then boldly lets go of his father’s hand. Dewey holds his breath but his son overbalances, landing squarely on his bottom. His onlookers are given no cause for concern because Luke simply laughs and uses Dewey’s trousers to hoist himself up onto his feet. Dewey picks up his son and hands him over to Courtney. Luke is passed from father to grandmother, to great grandfather and great grandmother, who fuss over him until he squirms, wanting to be on his feet again.

Dewey watches his family from a distance, smiling as Luke’s laughter fills the air, reminding him of Vivien. He remembers the footsteps she could hear and the man she could see and how, on the night of her death, as he raced out of the hospital and into the night, he thought he heard footsteps echoing his own. And then, later, when he was driving at heart-stopping speeds through a labyrinth of roads, his conviction that he could see the figure of a man out of the corner of his eye. It had been a comforting notion at the time, but whenever he had turned his head, all that had lain behind him was an uninhabited back seat, and an empty road lit by streetlamps.

The End

© Kess 04-07-2008

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Second Installment

Angel Tread

Part Two

‘We must never give our child a name they will detest,’ Vivien said one day, several years later.



The conception of the child they had tried so long for had revealed a more cautious side to Vivien that Dewey had never seen before. She was no longer the wild and carefree girl he had known in his youth, but had grown edgier with every passing month. Perhaps it was the prospect of motherhood and her instinct to take care of herself and the child, no longer taking the risks that she previously thought nothing of. Yet Dewey suspected that it also stemmed from their mutual fear of losing their long awaited firstborn.



‘How do we know what name our child would like?’ Dewey wondered aloud. ‘I know people with modern and attractive names which they hate,’ he added, pointedly.



‘Are you looking at me?’ Vivien laughed. ‘Well, for one thing I think we should give our child a name that is currently in fashion.’



‘What, Stiletto?’ Dewey joked.



‘Not that kind of fashion!’ Vivien laughed again, reminding Dewey of how beautiful she was when she laughed. ‘I mean something fairly popular, but not too common,’ she added. ‘I don’t want our child to end up in a class with about eight other Thomases or Tiffanies.’



‘I quite like Tiffany,’ Dewey piped up.

 

*

 

Suggesting names was all very well, but they decided not to name the baby until after its safe arrival. Although not superstitious, Vivien felt that doing so would jinx the pregnancy and, while Dewey did not share her view, he had no urge to tempt fate.



Towards the end of the pregnancy Vivien became more on edge than ever and began to have nightmares about losing the baby. Often, after waking from one of these dreams, she wouldn’t stop crying and Dewey could do nothing to comfort her. He was desperately worried about Vivien, and willed the birth, and the relief they would both feel once the baby was born.



He dropped his work hours so that they could spend more time together, and every evening they went out for a short stroll. Neither had the energy to walk far, but Vivien liked to watch the sun set behind the hills that surrounded their home, and watch the blue sky deepening in colour as the first tentative stars emerged.



‘Look at me, I’m as big as a house,’ she observed one day as they were walking along a pathway.



‘But still beautiful, nevertheless,’ he responded, kissing her dainty lips.



As they continued on their way, Dewey noticed that every so often Vivien would look back.



‘What are you looking at?’ he asked her, when she did this for the fifth or sixth time.



‘I thought I could hear footsteps,’ she said.



Frowning, Dewey commented that he couldn’t recall hearing any footsteps, and they continued onwards until Vivien stopped abruptly and looked back once more.



‘There they go again,’ she said, urgently.



Again, Dewey heard nothing. He tried not to make anything of Vivien’s convictions that they were being followed, but could not deny his apprehension. The days that succeeded did nothing to ease his growing concern, and no matter where they walked Vivien could still hear the footsteps.



One evening she looked back and cried out softly.



‘What is it?’ Dewey asked, wondering if her waters had broken, for her time had almost come.



‘There’s a man,’ she said.



‘Where?’ Dewey asked, following her gaze, but seeing nobody.



‘Over there. By the holly tree,’ she said, gesturing in that direction.



‘I don’t see him,’ Dewey murmured, trying not to sound as unnerved as he felt.



‘It must have been his footsteps I could hear,’ Vivien concluded. ‘What does this mean, Dewey?’ she asked, and he could hear the fear in her voice. ‘Why is he following us?’



‘I don’t see anyone,’ Dewey repeated quietly, shivering in spite of the warm evening air.



‘Let’s go home,’ Vivien pleaded.



At her insistence, they returned home by another route, and when the house was in sight she had visibly relaxed. With one final glance behind she informed Dewey that the man was gone.





That night she went into labour.

[To be continued]

© Kess 04-07-2008

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Milestone

Unless I have miscalculated, this is my 200th post. The Passing Place is nearly a year old and still going strong - my last blog only lasted eight months, or ten if you count the first two months where I didn't post at all. Anyway, to mark the occasion I've decided to share some of my creative writing with you. I'm not ready to share any of my novel yet, although I definitely plan on posting a teaser when I have completed a draft I am happy with. Instead, I am going to post a short story I wrote about two years ago, although I gave it a thorough edit yesterday to ensure it was at a presentable standard. I titled the story Angel Tread after one of my favourite songs and, as a more appropriate title hasn't come up, it's stuck. Although it is a short story, I am going to post it in installments. I hope you enjoy it!

Angel Tread

His name was Dewey and he hated it. It was just typical of his mother to give him the sort of name that you would give a cartoon character, so he thought. Vivien, on the other hand, thought his name was cute.



‘That’s my whole point!’ He said.



‘Oh, come on,’ she teased. ‘It’s not that bad. Surely it’s a whole lot better than Egbert, or something along those lines.’



He had to agree with that but it didn’t make him feel anymore kindly towards his name. ‘It’s twee,’ he said. ‘Not even you can deny that.’



Vivien also hated her name. ‘What’s wrong with Vivien?’ He asked, when she first admitted this.



‘It’s not the name itself,’ she tried to explain. ‘It’s just the way my mother used to bark it whenever I did something bad. I always knew when I was in trouble!’



Mothers again, Dewey thought. But then, unlike Vivien, his father had been absent throughout his upbringing. In fact, as far as he knew, his father knew nothing of his existence. At least this was what his mother let him assume. She was strangely unforthcoming on the subject, and whenever Dewey had pestered her with questions, all she would say was that his father had never had ‘an active role in his upbringing’. As if that wasn’t stating the obvious! Dewey often wondered if, had he grown up with a paternal figure in his life, things would have been different, including his name.



It wasn’t that Courtney hadn’t been a good mother. Dewey was close to his mother and thought very highly of her. It was just that he had always felt the absence of a male role model in his life, particularly when he hit his teens. There were times in his life when he felt that his father had not only a right but a duty to be there. Today being one of them, he thought as he stood at the front of the church, watching his well dressed acquaintances file into pews, waiting expectantly. Today was the day that his father should be standing by his side.



As a boy he had often sat in his room for long moments, his hands empty and his body tense with anticipation. Whenever the phone or doorbell rang he would fall apart, convinced that this was the life-altering moment he’d been waiting for, although it never was. Now, for the first time in many years, he felt that familiar stir of expectation, and his eyes fell resolutely on the door directly ahead. Surely he would come today... He felt certain, forgetting all the time he had spent as a boy waiting in futility. He did not know what he would say to him. During his teens he had envisaged a hot blooded confrontation, and prepared many anger-fuelled speeches concerning his father’s neglect. Yet these, along with his resentment, were long forgotten. He knew when he saw his father, words would fail them both. They would shake hands, and nod, and smile. There would be time to talk later.



He felt he was being watched, and when he looked around his eyes found those of his mother, who was smiling at him. He smiled and she gave him a cheesy thumbs-up, which he returned, just as his attention was caught by movement ahead. A tremor seized him and he gritted his teeth, struggling to regain his composure. A figure in grey began to emerge from the porch and Dewey could not deny his disappointment when he recognised the man. The spectators rose respectfully in their pews, as Vivien and her father walked down the aisle to the front of the church where he was waiting, seemingly for her and her only.

[To be continued...]

© Kess 04-07-2008

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Out of Character

Last night I behaved slightly out of character and poured myself a second glass of wine, although I'm paying for it this morning. This had nothing to do with the two rejections I received in the post. It was a Friday night and I hadn't been out with my friends for weeks. I just wanted to have that second glass and unwind in front of a girly movie (which I did), when normally I would've worked on my novel, applied for jobs or looked through the various paperwork I've acquired from the job centre.

Consequently, I woke up at 3.30am after only four hours sleep, and couldn't get back to sleep. My arms and legs ached and my tummy felt rather peculiar. I was still feeling the effects of my two glasses of wine, and I was desperate for a glass of water. I didn't regret taking a night 'off' though, but perhaps I should have just stuck to the one glass of wine.

I don't know that there's a point to this post. Perhaps it's simply that it's okay to behave out of character sometimes, although in moderation!

Friday, 23 July 2010

A Sign

Yesterday the long awaited storm broke. The clouds started gathering almost as soon as I arrived home, and I sensed that something was brewing. I was feeling a little down following my visit to the job centre, and a little anxious about the weeks to come: weeks of trawling through jobsites, and filling out application form after application form for posts I didn't really want. I had gone to so much effort to avoid going through the complicated process of applying for jobseekers allowance, and rather hoped I'd be employed at this stage, four months and twenty application forms later! 

That afternoon, I sat at my laptop for three hours, writing a supporting letter to accompany my CV, and then turning my attention to my novel. My window was open, but it was strangely quiet and calm outside. The silence was broken only by the occasional cry of a bird, and a light but telling breeze playing in the leaves.

The first rumble of thunder came at quarter past three, and was accompanied by the distant shrieks of children and the barking of a startled dog. After saving my work and closing down my laptop, I sat down on my bed, waiting with bated breath. My heart was pounding with joy, and I watched the darkening clouds with intensity. The next peal of thunder came about two minutes later, louder and followed by a swift flash of lightning. It was raining lightly, and a fresh aroma drifted through my open window. All the while I was thanking God that he had given me my storm!

The thunder and lightning part was brief, and passed over in about ten minutes, but still I sat by the window, with a blanket around my shoulders, listening to the rain which began to fall with renewed vigour. It turned to hail, and pounded the ground with greater velocity still. The downpour was so loud that I could no longer hear the distant thunder, but I didn't mind. As I watched the rain cease, I felt that the storm was God's way of telling me that everything was going to be okay.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Routine

There's nothing like routine to make the weeks fly by. It hasn't taken me long to settle into my new routine. Most mornings I get up between 8 and 9, or earlier if I'm attending an interview, or an appointment at the job centre. I usually eat breakfast (cereal, followed by toast with homemade jam, and tea) with my landlady, and then set out to the library across the road. The library computers can be rather temperamental, and seem to take a strong dislike to blogger. Yesterday, when I was commenting on someone's blog, internet explorer decided to open tab after tab after tab, and so I was forced to end my session 6 minutes after logging in! This is not the first occurrence. The library is closed on Sundays and Mondays. On Sundays Spud and I go to church.

I normally see Spud in the afternoon or evening (he's not normally awake before midday!) so the rest of the morning is spent filling out job applications, or reading. I always have something to keep me preoccupied. If I am around, I will eat lunch (always salad) with my landlady. She is a very busy lady indeed! She often plays the piano for the midweek communion or the lady's meeting, and she also makes jam, which she sells in aid of Romania.

Sometimes Spud and I go out, or we stay in and watch DVDs. I eat dinner with my landlady between 6.30 and 7, and then I do the washing up as I believe the person who makes the dinner shouldn't have to wash up afterwards. It also makes me feel at home, because I was always the one to do the washing up. The rest of the evening is spent reading or filling out job applications, depending on my mood or motivation.

I know this routine will change once I get a job. Hopefully once this happens I will make some friends - some people to hang out with and meet for coffee. I miss my friends, but at the same time I haven't felt lonely so far, which is the main thing.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

How I Live Now

Okay, it's Saturday morning and it looks as though I'm stuck in the library for a bit, as it's just started to rain and I haven't brought a coat. I live about a minute away from the library but it's raining so heavily I'll get soaked to the skin in that time! So what a good opportunity to post a blog!

It's strange how even though I'm currently unemployed I still don't seem to have any time to spare! I suppose I'm one of these funny people who can never sit still and chill out. I always have to be doing something, whether working on my novel or my latest knitting project. Also, I get to see Spud everyday which can be time consuming (although in a good way). Some days we go out, and on others Spud just comes round for a few hours and we watch DVDs.

Today is the first day in two months that I don't get to see Spud at all. He's off to London for some car show. I could have come along but the entry fee is very expensive, and it would have been a very boring day for me, as I'm not interested in cars at all.

I am waiting to hear from my most recent job interview. It is for a post as sixth-form house mistress at a boarding school, but I was told I wouldn't hear from the school until the end of the month. It is a job that I would really love as it appeals to my creative side. The only problem is that it would mean I would be away from Spud five days a week during term time. So it's really a case of wait and see. In the mean time, I have another job interview on Monday.

I am loving my new life here, and my new routine. I love being so near to Spud. I love this new level of independence and freedom. I love my new church. I love that I can hear the shrill cries of the house-martins every morning and evening. I love that everything just seems to be falling into place. I love that I have a wonderful God who has given me no reason to worry. I still have ups and downs, but for the moment everything is good.

The sky has cleared, but before I go I'd like to say a belated Happy Birthday to my dear friend Anna! If you have a moment please visit her blog and wish her many happy returns!

Friday, 16 July 2010

The Shunning


Katie has always struggled with her Amish heritage and never felt akin to her people. With her auburn hair, normally concealed by a plain kapp, she stands out from the others in her Plain community. Following the death of her one and only true love, she agrees to marry the bishop, but a few days before the wedding, she uncovers the secret of her birth, and takes a drastic course of action...

This is an enjoyable and interesting read about identity, and the first in a trilogy. The author, Beverly Lewis, based the book on her own grandmother's parting with her Plain heritage, so the novel was well researched. Lewis was so good at injecting voice and dialect into the narrative, that I could really hear her characters speaking! A definite recommendation!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The Result

'The decision of the Progression and Award Board is that you are awarded a Bachelor degree with First Class Honours'

!!!!!!!!!!

Well, blow me down! I did it!!!!!!

Anticipation

Results day has been and gone, and Kess does not have her result :( :( :(

Results day crept up on me stealthily. I knew it was the 12th, but for some reason I had convinced myself that it was a Tuesday. So I woke up on the morning of the 12th without those familiar feelings of anticipation. Actually, I did, but for a completely different reason (I had another interview that morning).

It wasn't until my friend texted me that afternoon that I realised that it was a day unlike any other. The day I found out what class degree I had achieved. My friend achieved a well deserved first class.

It didn't help that the library is shut on Mondays, so I had to wait until Spud rang. However, my mum rang before he did and was more than happy to help me out. So I gave her various usernames and passwords, and a few minutes later we were on the results page.

My modular results were listed individually and my mum read those out (all firsts for my English modules, and seconds for creative writing). However, when she scrolled to the bottom there was no overall result. Instead, it said that due to an error, the exam board had not come to a decision.

Can you imagine how crushed I felt?! I was advised to contact registry (which I did, by email) but received no reply, so I intend to phone this afternoon for an explanation, and perhaps even some enlightenment! It's hardly fair that I am the only girl from my university not to receive my degree, and not even to be given some indication whether I will received my result in the near future!

So hopefully I will find out soon enough, and in the mean time I will keep you posted. Sorry about my absence. This last week has been a busy one. The last two occasions I was at the library I didn't have a chance to post. I was at Spud's over the weekend, and yesterday I was out all day (attending an informal interview that didn't actually take place, but that's another story).

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Back So Soon?

I bet you weren't expecting to hear from me for a while. Well, it seems that my concerns were needless. No, I don't have an internet connection where I am staying, nor have I acquired a library card yet, although I paid the library a visit yesterday and found it very helpful. I was given a 'light' card which enables me to take out two books and use the internet! As the library is literally across the road from my new home I can pay a visit everyday! Well, apart from Sundays and Mondays when the library is closed. My light card is valid for three months, but once my updated driving licence comes through I can apply for a proper library card.

The move went very well. It took me a while to unload the car and get everything organised to my satisfaction, but I am living quite comfortably now and believe I am going to be quite happy here. My informal interview has been postponed until next week but I've found another job to apply for.

My landlady is lovely. She is quite elderly and very kind. We are getting on well, which is good because all going well I will be living with her for the next two years. The strangest thing is not having Spud around. I mean, I know he is only ten minutes down the road and I will see him this evening, but for the last six weeks we haven't been apart for more than a few hours at a time, and been practically joined at the hip! I said goodbye to him yesterday evening, and it took me a while to adjust! I am cooking dinner for the two of us and I'm really excited about the prospect of this. It's a while since I've had the opportunity to cook. My meals are included in the price of the rent, but my landlady is attending a barbecue tonight.

That's about me up to date. I'm going to return to my job application form now, but will hopefully post again tomorrow!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Moving Day

Well, I'm back at Spud's and tomorrow morning I move into my new accommodation. I'm very tired from all the travelling, but there are several things I need to do before I go to bed. Firstly, I need to write (and print) a letter to the bank to notify them of my change of address. I also want to print my CV to take to my informal interview on Thursday, and I need to fill out an online form to update the address on my driving licence. I can barely keep my eyes open, but I need to do all these things as I don't know when I'll next be online. 

There will be a library just down the road from me, so I will probably be able to use the internet there, although not until I have a library card (something that depends on proof of my new address). There may be various wireless connections in the neighbourhood that I can use. I can also use the internet when I'm at Spud's, and will be online next Tuesday to collect my results. 

I have no intention of giving up the blogging as I enjoy it so much and have met so many lovely people through blogger. My posts will be less frequent, but I hope you will still stick around. I will try and put up some photographs from my party soon, but not tonight. All I can say is watch this space! I'll be back soon!

Part(y)ing

Last night was so wonderful. It's a night I will never forget. I loved the dancing. I loved the food. I loved the cake. I loved the people. I wish you could have been there too...

The cake came as a bit of a surprise. My mum led me to believe that it would be a simple, home made (by her) job, and then had to distract me when it was delivered the day before the party. 


It's somewhat late so I'll save the photographs for tomorrow. I was going to leave you with a video but it failed to upload. 

Friday, 2 July 2010

Decisions

I've come to a decision some of you probably won't like. I've talked recently about getting a dongle as I don't know if my landlady has wireless, but as I am an unemployed graduate, trying to save for a wedding and a house, I am trying to cut all unnecessary expenses and have decided that this extends to the dongle. I can still use the internet when I'm at Spud's and at the library. It just means I won't be online as much as usual, and therefore my blog will be updated less frequently - boo! 

It's probably a good thing as I get distracted by the internet so easily. The absence of immediate access will mean I have more time to work on my novel, etc. For all I know there may be a wireless connection as my landlady's son runs a business at her house. I know nothing for certain and so I'm just warning you in advance. 

I'm home now until Monday, and I'm packing everything up into vacuum bags. We are also making preparations for the party tomorrow. It's going to be one busy weekend. But it's nice to be home. I feel ready for the move now, and I'm very excited about what the future holds for Spud and me.