By E.A. Peters
Copyright 2016 E.A. Peters
For all the little souls lost along the way.
You sit alone. I watch you. You curse a muse who doesn’t exist, but I hear you.
I have a story.
If you’ll listen?
Your retelling doesn’t need to be accurate, a little flourish never went astray. I sense your frustration, your desperate need to clear the blockage that’s keeping the words from flowing. Perhaps my story will inspire you?
I’m twenty-five-years-old today, by the way. You won’t believe all I’ve squeezed into these years. Can I be your new muse for a little while? For only as long as you need me.
You look a little uncomfortable. Straighten your spine; stop hunching. Go fill your coffee cup for the sixth time; you will anyway, no matter how much I disapprove. Snacks are good too; I know you’re craving those grapes in the freezer.
Oh, I forgot to mention: this muse is fickle. I’ll start my story tomorrow. Does three in the morning suit you?
Don’t worry, you’ll adore me. I promise.
Three a.m. on the dot. As promised. Sorry to wake you, but I’ve always been more of a night owl myself. Much like you.
So I’ll start at the beginning, or as close to it as is necessary right now.
I was a happy baby.
I came into this world on a snowy July evening. At nine in the evening.
My mother cried.
It should have been a happy day, but my mother only felt a profound sadness. It cast a cloud over her head much darker than the July night sky. Thick, black, nothingness engulfed her. What she didn’t know then, what took her a long time to learn, to accept, to push past, was that this cloud would prove difficult for her to escape.
I tried to help her. I suppose.
I smiled and laughed. I rolled over, crawled, walked.
My first word was mama. She was my world.
I never knew my father. Well, I never met him, but I knew of him, knew of the love my mother held for him. She promised me that, despite his cruel words, he would have loved me, but he had been scared. Both of them had been in a bad place, but if he had met me, she promised, he would have fallen instantly in love.
I have his dark hair.
Have? Had? Tense confuses me when things are still so vague.
I have her blue eyes, her nose and smile – but his dimples and his laugh.
Some days I need glasses. Some days I don’t.
His are a permanent fixture on his face.
Mama spoke of loss, but not of specifics, just vague whispers of memories, like cobwebs on the breeze.
What I do know, without a doubt, is that she needed him and he wasn’t there – and it almost broke her.
So I think that’s why she’s always been just a little too sad. I guess it’s why she looks haunted.
Ghosts linger if we allow them the opportunity. They hold tight to us, and while the casual observer may not see what is haunting us, they will see the shroud of woven worry lining a face, and know that we are carrying the burden of our years.
Anyway, enough now. It’s four in the morning. Get some sleep. I’m not going anywhere just yet. There’s still more to jot down.
And I am sorry I woke you. I did warn you though.
My mama loved me fiercely. I know you loathe adverbs, but that one stays.
Fiercely, fiercely, fiercely.
She would sit in a chair at night, beside the big window in the spare room, rocking me to sleep beneath the glow of the Aurora Australis as it streaked across the southern sky.
She sang me lullabies.
I don’t remember the words now. But the melodies still soothe me.
In breaks between those quiet hymns, she would whisper her adoration for me.
She also cried a lot, and through her tears she promised me she would stay strong and keep fighting.
Once I heard her voice telling me I was a quitter like my dad. She didn’t mean it. I know sorrow can make us say things we regret. I never held those words against her. I wish I’d been a little more like her. A fighter. Maybe I am. Maybe she just never recognised it.
I know depression is a battle, and you’ve never met a fighter like my mama. She promised me she would always fight. She said, “I’m too stubborn to kill myself, baby.” To me she is someone who honours a promise – and she promised me.
I’m twenty-five and still her baby.
Her “baby girl”.
I still hear that more than my own name.
For twenty-five years I have felt her sadness. Melancholy surrounds her – yet I think her beautiful. When she’s happy she is positively radiant.
And she’s happier more now.
It was the first few years that were the hardest for her, but I’ve watched time heal.
It’s okay that she still cries sometimes; I think she’ll always be a little broken.
No matter her mood, I will always love her.
And that’s a little about my mother.
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Dear Writer, I have a story. If you’ll listen? Settled? Ready? Oh, I forgot to mention: this muse is fickle. I’ll start my story tomorrow. Does three in the morning suit you? Don’t worry, you’ll adore me. I promise. Love, your muse.