Anita's Haven

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Mother’s Day special – the mums in my latest novel

on 10/05/2015

The following are extracts from my work in progress, novel The Forest of Trees, still unedited and being read by beta readers.
They are dedicated to the mothers in the novel, all of whom are completely different women, and I love them all so much.

EMMA
(coming back from her first work day, after a maternity leave and unemployment)

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Approaching the cottage, she slowed down. David was sitting on the front steps, alone, face buried in his hands, dressed in his T-shirt and pyjama bottoms, not your typical attire for a late workday afternoon. He hadn’t noticed her yet. She stopped, took a deep breath and absorbed the whole image, knowing exactly what had happened. His ears were probably throbbing from hearing ‘daddy, daddy, daddy’ all day long. He started the day trying to multitask and failing miserably, probably only realising he hadn’t even changed his clothes some time round noon. Dot was being potty-trained, which did mean no more diapers, but he must have changed her clothes several times during the day, and kept chasing her around. She was at that tireless squirrel-like phase of her life, when a second of peace was too long and no distance or risk were too great. Perhaps he’d even tried to read a newspaper in peace, poor guy.

Emma approached him, planning on a speechless hug. He jumped to his feet, instantly deleting the look of depression from his face, and began delivering his report.

‘She’s finally napping, still some spaghetti left for you and Jeremy, she pooped in potty but took a while. Clothes’ hamper full, but I will deal with that later.’

Emma decided on a kiss. The hug might have broken his spirit, and she loved him too much for that. It was a good decision.

FLORENCE
(mother of five, barely surviving in an abusive marriage)

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The farmhouse was slowly waking up. Angel’s mother got up first, as usual, put on her worn-out old dress, some warm socks with holes in them that she didn’t even bother to patch up any more, and an old pair of wooden clogs. She moved around the house like a soundless shadow.

Her bathroom time was brief and unpleasant as she rushed through the basics, avoiding the mirror. She could well imagine her puffy eyebags, wrinkled aged greyish skin and undyed, almost colorless hair, all portraying misery and hollowness all over her dried out cheeks. She neeeded no witness in the mirror to corroborate that.

She stepped into the porch to check the weather and she was welcomed by mist. She breathed in the morning air, but every inkling of a positive thought was soon squashed, as she was greeted by her viper-like father-in-law’s tobacco spit which pasted itself onto her clogs with no apology, as always. She got no words at all from the old man who was sitting to her right on a wooden bench, for in his mind she only deserved orders.

‘Morning, sir,’ she said in a spiritless voice.

GLORIA
(single mother, in denial about her son’s malice)

image

Slouched on a bench on the right of the station entrance, shivering in the cold autumn dusk and shaking in tears, Gloria sat alone, unable to walk away from the place.

‘Blackmail… extortion… cyberbullying…’
The words echoed in her mind, stabbing her repeatedly.

‘How could you not have known!?!’
She felt as if the social worker’s eyes were still staring at her in shock.

‘Correctional facility… social services… psychological observation… unfit mother…’
More echoes kept flaying her skin.

‘But he’s just a boy… my baby boy… he couldn’t have…’

No amount of pleading, sobbing, screaming or fits would make things right. The evidence was staring her in the face and her despair overwhelmed her. Despair and fear.

When you look around you in the street, on a bus stop, in a crowded supermarket, you never th7nk about all those women, and what put the lines on their faces, the smile wrinkles and the worry creases, or about what gives them the rushed pace or the dance-like step as they hurry from place to place, skimming invisible to-do lists in their heads. The mothers in my story will show you their secrets, in all their ugly reality and beautiful warmth.
Happy Mother’s Day, to all our selfless worriers with gigantic hearts!

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