My first venture into creative writing for many years, a little flash fiction…
Rebecca woke with a jolt, from her uneasy slumber. She had a sensation of heaviness on her chest, which she recognised from the days when Clem had been a toddler, as if that had been just a moment ago. She had fallen asleep, out of pure exhaustion, on Clem’s bed. The burden of the last few days had siphoned off her energy.
There had been a time when she wouldn’t go to sleep without her in the room. Clem resisted the lure of sleep so fiercely; so many times when I could have just closed my eyes and drifted off, thought Rebecca, and she would have had a party. The only way she would eventually settle was to lay on Rebecca’s chest, listening to the lub-dub of her heartbeat.
Her memories of Clem’s childhood had been running through her head all day, as she resisted the urge to think of the present. Baking gingerbread men together on rainy afternoons, her screaming at Clem for a simple mistake, the delights of watching Clem play in the garden, Rebecca stealing to bed when her emotions overwhelmed her, trying to understand Clem’s homework together, Rebecca’s horror the time Clem had stepped off a pavement without looking. The good, the bad and the ugly.
Rebecca could not work out how she had scored. She would never win any prizes for perfect mother, but in whose eyes would that be anyway? She often felt sorrow, that she had failed to do the best by Clem. But she also knew that there had been many blissful times, when Clem was filled with joy and happiness and filled Rebecca with the same. She hoped that it balanced out.
It was her phone that had jarred her from the sleep that had overcome her. It was still summoning her and she picked it up, looking hopefully at the lit screen. Waiting for this call had been almost viscerally painful. Her heart lifted as she saw Clem’s name alive on the screen, and relief surged through her body.
‘Hello, Clem’, she said as she connected the call.
‘Hi Mum,’ breezed Clem lightly as then she launched full flow into the details of the last few days, all the excitement and adventure, ignorant of the meaning of this call to her mother. Rebecca listened intently to the happiness in her voice and felt joy in the moment; Clem wanted to share all this with her. The details flowed around her rather than into her.
Rebecca had helped Clem to listen to herself and to explore the many possibilities of the world for this first foray into adulthood. The life that lay ahead of her was full of treasure to find, and now Clem was taking her own steps, out from under Rebecca’s wing, finding that treasure was her own responsibility. Listening to what Clem was saying, unconsciously, behind the words, Rebecca realised that here was the proof that as a mother Rebecca had done a good enough job.