Runaway Wife.

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This story is now part of TRUST and SLIGHTLY SPOOKY STORIES.

“But how will you cope without a man?”

It was an honest question delivered by an honest friend, but I was tempted to give a cheeky answer.

When I was a little girl, I preferred playing with the boys. Girls were okay, but the boys did stuff, went places, got dirty — dogs followed them around because they knew that wherever boys were there would be an adventure.

It wasn’t long before I noticed the anatomical difference between my male playmates and myself. In the summer, we took off our clothes when we went swimming in the creek. This minimised the disapproving looks we got from our mother’s, regarding damp, muddy clothing.

In our ‘birthday suits,’ I noticed that everyone around me had ‘a little extra’, and in some cases, a lot extra. Boldly, I asked the boys what that ‘little extra’ was called. I got all the answers that you would expect but one of the older boys, who went to a posh school, told me not to listen to the crude boys, the correct name was ‘a penis’. I thought he said ‘happiness’, and come to think of it, under the right circumstances, I was right.

That night, after a bath and my favourite dinner, my mum put me to bed and read me a story, ‘Rufus and the mysterious case of the missing dog biscuits’. I was exhausted after playing all day, but as usual, I didn’t want the day to end. I engaged my mother in conversation, even though I was having difficulty keeping my eyes open. She indulged me because she knew that the Sandman would win this battle sooner rather than later.

Before I drifted off, I asked one last question. “Mum, why don’t I have a penis?” There was a long moment of silence during which I thought I may have fallen asleep, but eventually, my mother said, “Don’t you worry darling when you grow up you can have as many as you want.”

I wasn’t exactly sure what she meant, but her answer was strangely reassuring, and I can picture her now delivering that line with a tiny smile on her face.

Mostly the boys accepted me for my daring and courage but sometimes, mostly during those swimming sessions, one of the boys would kid me about my lack of appendage. I simply delivered my mother’s famous line, and a look of bemusement would spread across their face, and things would return to normal.

It was probably then I learned that the world would leave you alone as long as you had a comeback line that sounded vaguely plausible, with a twist of confusion.

“Seriously Elena, how are you going to cope without a man?” My friend’s question was more urgent because I seemed to be in my own world. I was — I was remembering my beautiful mother and my exciting playmates, but now I had to come up with an answer, or she would not leave me alone.

“I do most of the things that a man does around the house. I fix the lights when the bulbs blow out. I sort out the tradesmen when we need them. I do the shopping, cleaning, ironing, and cooking. What do I need a man for?”

My friend smiled and blushed, and before she could speak, I said, “And for that, I have an ample supply of batteries.”

“That’s not exactly what I meant, Elena, but it does bring up a good point. What about friendship, companionship. Someone, to be with in your old age?”

When I replied, there was fire in my eyes.

 

“I’ll attract someone who doesn’t give me a backhander just because I looked at him when he was angry. I’ll choose someone who doesn’t frighten me and likes to share their day without a hint of condescension. A partner who will share the load, not dump it on me. I’m awake for the first time in more than thirty years, and I’m not going to waste the experience. I’ve got places to go and people to see. I’m going to listen and learn and I’m not going to say no when life says, ‘come this way’. I’m going to get to heal others because that is what I was sent to this earth to do. I know this now, and while I have breath in my body I’m going to follow my dream. The universe can have me and I will ride the waves with a smile on my face, and a glass of red in one hand and chocolate in the other.”

It occurred to me that this was the first time I had said these words out loud — the first time I had shared my excitement and frustration at my past. How could I have let it go on for so long? Children, of course. We do whatever is needed to give our kids a stable home, but sometimes, just sometimes it would be better if we didn’t hang around and watch the life-force drain out of us.

I was lucky. I discovered Nick. Well, I didn’t exactly discover him, he was always there, but I found him. A friend suggested that I go and speak to him. “Great,” I thought, “just what this bloke needs, another middle-aged housewife bleating about her boring life.” And, at first, that was what it was — me bleating away. Amazingly, he didn’t fall asleep during our sessions, and slowly he began to show me that there was something very special inside me.

That was all it took.

I was ready, and the teacher appeared.

I unfurled my wings and dried them in the sun — then I flew away.

A runaway wife.

The Farm.

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This story is now published as part of the anthology ‘Loyal and True’.

Michael had been away for a very long time.

His return home was unexpected but deeply necessary.
He was worn out and he need to hide away for a time and where better to hide than on the farm that was frozen in time.
The world was not allowed there.
He escaped to the world and now he was hiding from it.
There was blood on his hands.
You could not see it but it was there none the less, and like MacBeth nothing was going to wash it away.
He needed to find the strength to go forward but he was not sure where ‘forward’ was.
For the time being it did not matter.
He was going to be like the farm dogs, living in the moment not thinking about tomorrow.
He would smell his mums cooking and lie in the grass.
And the world could go directly to hell!

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Not my photos: click on photos for photo credits.

The Day I Met Chester.

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This story is now published as part of the anthology ‘Loyal and True’.

He was proud of his ancestry, or at least his owners were.

It seems that he was in a direct line from Pavlov’s dog, the famous one who used to drool all over the place whenever the professor would sound his bell.

Now, when I say Pavlov you must not misunderstand, as I don’t mean Alexei Pavlov, the Russian mathematician who specialises in nonlinear output regulation theory, and not even Ilya Pavlov the Bulgarian businessman. I’m talking about Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, the bloke who won the Nobel Prize in 1904 for his work on the digestive system.

But I can see how easily you could make that mistake.

Popular wisdom has it that the dog used in the experiment was just a mutt, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Boris was a pure bred Russian Pavolich, a noble breed with a long heritage.

Chester was very lucky to be here at all for it seems that the professor was very handy with the knife, and Boris was one of the few dogs that survived Pavlov’s experiments.

My friends and I had had enough.

We had tried for years to stop it from happening, but no one wanted to listen. We did it by the book for a very long time. But over time even water will wear away a rock, and as young people we did not have the patience of a rock.

George and Harry came up with the plan.

It was going to be risky.

We all had a lot to lose if we got caught. But that didn’t seem to matter any more.

We just wanted it to stop.

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It was our job to watch out for the guards while the girls unlocked the cages. We knew that it had to go quickly or we were in deep trouble. George was supposed to be a whiz with alarms, but I guess he missed one. I didn’t see the big guy come up behind me. But I did feel him. He grabbed me just as a stampeding herd of previously caged dogs came rushing by.

My friends had their own problems so I knew that I was going to have to get free on my own. It was not going to be easy; this bloke knew his business and he had me cold.

As it often does in these situations, time seemed to slow down. I could see my friends heading for the exits, and I could see the dogs doing the same thing.

Harry looked back and saw that I was in trouble. I screamed at him to keep going. He seemed to stand there for the longest time. I could tell that he was thinking about coming back, but that was the last thing I wanted, we all knew the risks, and we all vowed to keep going if anything went wrong.

Harry went against our ‘every man for him self’ rule, and turned to come back, but Chester beat him to it.

Chester had been heading for the exit with all the others when he must have heard me call out. Maybe he thought it was a game, I guess I will never really know. He turned and slid along the polished floor for several metres before he got his feet under him again, then he got up a bit of speed and launched his considerable bulk at the two struggling humans.

All three of us went flying in three different directions! I felt as if I’d been hit by a small elephant.

The guard got the worst of it though.

Chester didn’t hang around to see how I was getting on. He headed for the exit again. Maybe he thought that that was all there was to this game.

I didn’t hang around either. I figured that I had only a few seconds before the guard remembered what day it was, so I had it on my toes, as the English might say.

I used to see Chester quite a bit after that. One of my neighbours adopted him. As with all dogs, he was extremely happy to be alive, and he cherished every moment of every day.

I could learn a lot from Chester.

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This is one in a series of stories that I am writing to continue the ‘George and Harry’ tradition. A long time ago, when my sons were young I would sometimes make up bedtime stories and often they would feature two characters; George and Harry. Sometimes they would be human and sometimes they would be animals and in that beautiful way that children have, it did not seem to matter. 

At the time I did not write any of the stories down but now that my eldest son has a young family I thought that I would continue the tradition and put together a few stories for the time when they are old enough for me to send them along (they live a long way away).

I wrote this story a few years back and I found it again the other day. It probably needs a third act but for the moment here it is.

P.S. The George and Harry saga actually surfaced in real life. We had chickens when we first moved into this house but they were attacked one night when I forgot to close the gate. We rescued a few fertilised eggs and the boys borrowed an incubator. Only two eggs hatched out and naturally they named them George and Harry even though they were hens not roosters; again it did not seem to matter.

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