Today I Was A Soldier

I have returned ‘home’ – to my mother’s house.

To start this time off well, to hit the ground running – I set off to Church this morning.

I thought a calming and comforting environment would be nice, maybe one or two familiar faces that I would not be opposed to seeing.

I found myself surrounded by people who knew me, knew my grandparents and who greeted me with large smiles.

I had not expected to be approached by the vicar and asked to play a role, “would you like to be a soldier?” I had not expected to say yes, to be thankful and grateful for being asked. A reading took place, everyone had a role to play, a few lines to read.

Speaking out loud is not my cup of tea. For a while as a teenager, I was mute. Speaking out loud in public situations is sometimes still difficult. But I did it and I did it loudly.

The morning was spent being much more sociable than I had expected it to be, a whole morning of;

“Hello, Chloe.”
“How are you, Chloe?”
“Nice to see you, Chloe!”
“How are you enjoying University?”

I almost made someone cry. She had not heard I had moved, that I had got into University. Her joy was shown in the many hugs she could not stop giving me, in the misty eyes looking into mine and in her words, “everything comes around eventually, Chloe. Hearing this has just made my day!”

I did not know what I was expecting, but the unexpected was perhaps the best thing that could have happened. I feel as though I have a little more breath in my lungs and as though a part of me has fallen back into place.

I feel so proud for speaking aloud and being able to hold a conversation with people. Something that I would not have managed quite so effortlessly just a few short months ago.

 

 

February

For February, I gave up carbonated drinks. No more Pepsi, no more Dr Pepper, no more!

I expected to struggle, for it to be incredibly difficult to accomplish.

I was wrong. I have managed so incredibly well and I am now in a place where I have not wanted to bring them back into my diet. They are gone (with the possibility of an odd one if out socialising – which is yet to happen as I have stuck with a cup of tea when being sociable).

As someone with an over-reliance on carbonated, caffeinated drinks, I never foresaw the day that I would live without them.

I am proud.

January

Happy January!
It is already a month of discovery and firsts.

I have started the year off with a bang and already done several things that I have never before done. What an experience!

I am a teetotal person, I have zero interest in any kind of substances or drugs (apart from caffeine). This did not, however, stop me from:

  1. Going to a last-minute party on New Year’s Eve (despite only knowing 2 people there)
  2. Playing cards against humanity (for the first time)
  3. Dancing on my friend’s pool table (despite my brain telling me that I would look stupid)
  4. Attending a nightclub at 2am (even though I’m usually asleep by 22:00)
  5. Dancing with strangers (who were big on invading personal space)
  6. Arriving in bed at 5am (without any anxiety)

I have started January off with being super proud of myself. These were things that I have always wondered if I would ever have an opportunity to do (I never did them in my teens/early 20’s). While the jury is still out on whether it was my cup of tea, I have no regrets and remember a night full of fun, laughter and smiles.

For the first time, EVER, I feel as though I have started the New Year off right! Reminding myself occasionally throughout the night that it is okay to just be in the moment and enjoy it for what it is.

I saw in the New Year with friends and strangers who were all superb – it was exactly what was needed.

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And then, this morning… I got attention from this Mr.

 

 

 
And while I miss my own boy terribly, I felt comfort from the cuddles I received from this little feline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I carry your heart
I carry it in my heart

( https://www.hitched.co.uk/wedding-planning/wedding-poems/i-carry-your-heart-by-ee-cummings_315.htm )

 

 

I Did This Thing

Reminiscence

She walks merrily through the streets without conscious thought. Headphones dangling down over her summer top, swinging from side to side as her steps quicken. She walks with exhilaration, a bounce in her step.

Stopping briefly and taking her iPod and phone from her pockets to place them in her bag alongside her headphones, she turns to face an old cottage. The inviting garden is decorated with so many varying flowers, the colours are blindingly beautiful. As she walks up the driveway towards the back of the house, her posture changes from relaxed to one of preparation.

He sits silently, expression pensive as he reads his newspaper. He looks up as he hears a knock on the living room door, smiling when he sees the face that appears around the door frame.

“Good afternoon! Cup of tea?” Sophie asks, meeting his eyes with a warm smile. She moves to place her bag by the side of the settee Ron is waiting on. He gives a cheeky smile, nodding his head in the affirmative, then turns back to his newspaper as she leaves to put the kettle on.

Once she returns, she places the cups of tea on a nearby table and sits beside him. Happy to sit in comfortable silence while he folds up his paper and reaches for his drink, she looks around the familiar room. Taking in the familiar furniture and the framed photographs on the fire mantle above the hearth.

“Did you know I was in the war?”

“You have mentioned it to me briefly before.” Sophie’s responds knowing it isn’t a subject that he often talks willingly of.

Ron pauses in thought, contemplating his words and what he wants to share. “I was a medic, you know? Have I told you that before? I used to be in the operating rooms.” He pauses and looks for response.

“Wow, that’s really impressive! You must have some stories.” Sophie replies, a look of controlled awe on her face.

“You’ve never flown before, have you? That’s how we travelled, by air. We’d fly from one place to another. I hated the flying, the times where suddenly the plane would hit an air pocket and we’d drop slightly.” Ron carries on as though he hadn’t heard Sophie’s response.

In the silence that follows, Sophie finds herself once again looking around the living room. The furniture appearing old but of good quality – much too floral for her tastes. The ornaments and mantel being familiar of most pensioners’ homes she has visited, placed in what she assumed to be their place.

Drinking tea that was slightly too weak and a little too sweet, Ron stares into the unlit fire, his voice appearing far away as he relives a memory, “Being away from home. Away from family. That was the worst part, but you try not to think about that, you know. Almost like living a completely separate life. It’s always best to just carry on and get on with the job at hand.”

Not knowing the best way to respond, Sophie sits silently listening to the clock as it ticks. The sound not one that is usually audible within the room but now stresses its importance, like the click, click, click of high heeled shoes walking along a tiled floor.

Placing her palms decisively on her thighs, Sophie asks, “Right, well, do you need anything – any food or another drink?”

“Maybe a sandwich. Are you having one? You’ll stay for something to eat, won’t you?” Glancing at his wrist watch, contemplating the time, “It isn’t too early for you is it?”

“Erm, no. No, I’ll have something.”

Once in the kitchen with the essential food products before her, she looks back over her shoulder, glancing into the living room from where she stands at the kitchen counter. Ron rises from his seat, slowly manoeuvring between rooms. Pulling out a chair to sit down at the kitchen table as Sophie hands over a plate.

Moving to wash up the now empty plates, Ron still at the table contemplating his thoughts. “Have you met my grand-daughter before?”

Sophie hesitates, her head bowed, “Yes.”

“I’d like to tell her one day about my experiences when she’s old enough.”
Turning around to face Ron, a melancholic smile forming, “I’m sure she would like that.”

Ron rises from the kitchen chair, turning to head back into the living room. With a slight limp and a shuffle of feet, he walks towards the hearth. Standing in the doorway, Sophie takes in the sight of Ron; crisp shirt, tie tucked in beneath a smart pale blue jumper. Always so smartly presented.

Taking the several small steps that she needs to, to reach him, she places a hand on his shoulder, “Everything okay?”

“My wife,” he says, pointing towards a photo frame on the mantle. The silence of the moment expands, there are no words Sophie feels are adequate to fill the space around them. She remains by his side, hand firmly on his shoulder offering as much silent support as she can manage.

She feels his spine straighten up as he lifts his head. She feels the breath he takes as he opens his eyes, moving away to sit back down. He points towards an arm chair opposite where he had been when she arrived, “I’m going to sit there.”

“Do you want another drink before I get going?”

He responds by lifting a hand and shaking his head as he offers a polite smile. She notices how tired and worn he suddenly appears, as though his life has just all of a sudden caught up to him. His eyes appear to have lost their earlier light, his frame now slouched in his seat.

“I think there’s a photograph of my grand-daughter in the entrance way, you’ll have to have a look before you go.”

“I will do.” Sophie leans down over the chair arm, extending her arms to exchange a hug, “I will see you soon, okay?”

When she pulls back she reaches for his hand, feeling the frail skill and veins beneath her palm as she offers a squeeze in reassurance. His response is once again a polite smile and a slight head tilt.

Sophie walks over to retrieve her bag, not bothering with her headphones as she leaves. Her mood now more sombre than when she had arrived, she turns and offers a raised hand as she walks towards the entrance way.

As she opens the front door to take her leave, her eyes lift up to the photograph Ron had mentioned. She is greeted with a photograph of a much younger Ron with a child sitting next to him atop a wall. They’re on a beach, the child has her foot casually resting on a broken sandcastle, they are both grinning towards the camera. A small smile forms on her face as she takes in the scene. She remembers the photograph, it has always been his favourite one of him and her together. She turns slowly, shutting the front door quietly as she walks back down the driveway. It isn’t until she reaches the end of the street that she looks back again, eyes misty as she takes her phone out of her bag. Her fingers move quickly across the screen, unlocking it and opening the message app. Fingers hovering over the ‘Mum’ contact, she clicks to write a new message:

 

 

“Just leaving Grandad’s now, all okay. See you later. X”

 

Original work by ‘Just Me’.